Howard Brookins Joins Chicago City Council Retirement Parade

Transportation Committee Chairman Howard Brookins (21st) joined the parade of aldermen leaving the Chicago City Council on Wednesday.

After five terms and 20 years in politics, Brookins, 59, will be eligible for a maximum pension of 80% of his highest salary over a five-year period.

This means that if he had continued as an alderman, he would have worked for $20,000 or $30,000 more per year.

Instead, Brookins chose to retire after serving the remainder of his term as alderman.

“For the 19 years that I have served [as] as a city councilor for the 21st Ward, I walked in my father’s footsteps and was proud to be a model of servant leadership for our beautiful communities,” Brookins said in a statement.

“I am grateful to have the trust of my community as we work to bring greater economic opportunity and prosperity to our people.”

The statement goes on to cite what Brookins called “major wins” for his South Side neighborhood, which includes Auburn Gresham and Washington Heights.

They include affordable housing, Starbucks, and other “new retail options and a new charter school.” A criminal defense attorney on the side, Brookins was also instrumental in securing reparations for the torture victims of disgraced and convicted former Chicago Area 2 police commander John Burge.

Brookins also led a marathon quest for a Walmart supercenter at 83rd and Stewart Avenue in Chatham, only to be overtaken by Ald. Anthony Beale (9th) in the Walmart contest.

In 2004, a bitterly divided city council gave Walmart zoning approval to build its first Chicago store in Austin — and handed the retailer a one-vote defeat in Chatham.

The controversy spawned the big box minimum wage ordinance aborted by the 2006 veto of then-Mayor Richard M. Daley. Organized labor subsequently spent millions electing a more union-friendly city council.

The political donnybrook didn’t end until 2010, when the city council approved a second Walmart in the Far South Side’s Pullman Park community, paving the way for a billion-dollar Walmart expansion that changed the face of retail in Chicago.

It came after Walmart and unions reached an unprecedented agreement that required the world’s largest retailer to pay its entry-level Chicago workers at least $8.75 an hour, or 50 cents more than the Illinois minimum wage.

All the bitterness was finally forgotten when the Chatham store finally opened in January 2012. Then-Mayor Rahm Emanuel did not attend the grand opening due to a scheduling conflict. .

“If he came, he might have stolen some of my thunder,” Brookins said that day, predicting the store would be an “overwhelming” success.

“Most of what I’ve been through, he wasn’t the mayor. And when I was going through this thing with Walmart, it seems like I was doing it alone anyway, so you could say it’s appropriate.

Looking back on the political odyssey and what turned the tide, Brookins said then: “As the economy crashed and jobs tightened, people’s attitudes changed. Instead of saying no job was better than working at Walmart, they went along with my way of thinking.

Earlier this year, Brookins was instrumental in convincing Mayor Lori Lightfoot to drop plans to forego $18 million in revenue by offering a temporary reprieve from its own gas tax hike in favor of distributing gas cards and Ventra cards to Chicagoans squeezed by soaring prices at the pump.

Brookins said he understands the mayor’s motives in trying to match gifts that millionaire businessman and mayoral challenger Willie Wilson funded from his own personal fortune.

But, Brookins argued – successfully – that motorists needed “significant relief” and that “cynics” would slam the idea.

“If it was me, I probably wouldn’t do it so as not to fuel public cynicism that you’re just doing something like a political stunt,” he said at the time.

Other aldermen and union leaders have also urged the mayor to avoid the tax holiday, fearing it could rob the city of badly needed revenue and potentially delay tax-funded investment projects. on gasoline.

Brookins has been trying for years to get out of the city council. He ran unsuccessfully for state attorney in 2008, for Congress in 2016 and for judge earlier this year.

He is the son and namesake of Howard Brookins Sr., an undertaker, former state representative, and state senator who chaired the Illinois Senate Transportation Committee.

One of the elder Brookins’ signature accomplishments was championing legislation that allowed voters to register anywhere in Illinois, setting the stage for what he claimed was a “record” increase in voter registration. black inscriptions.

A slew of other city council members elected in 2019 have left or are not seeking re-election. Here is the current list:

Members of the municipal council not candidates for re-election: Leslie Hairston (5e); Susan Sadlowski Garza (10e); Howard Brookin (21st); Carrie Austin (34)e); Aldus. Tom Tunney (44)e); James Cappleman (46)e); Harry Osterman (48e).

Already resigned: Sentenced Ald. Patrick Daley Thompson (11e); Michael Scott Jr. (24e) and Michele Smith (43rd).

Giving up council seats to run for mayor Sophie King (4e); Roderick Sawyer (6e) and Ray Lopez (15e).

Also, George Cardenas (12e), is almost guaranteed to win a seat on the Cook County Board of Review after winning the Democratic Party’s nomination for that seat.

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