FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, July 23, 2019
CONTACT: Treshonna Nolan
City Clerk Anna M. Valencia Introduces Historic Reforms on the City’s Fines & Fees Practices as a Result of The Fines, Fees & Access Collaborative
Clerk Valencia, in conjunction with Mayor Lightfoot, community members, Aldermen, and City departments announce fines & fees legislation as a precursor to their efforts to create immediate and long-term fundamental change within our City’s ticketing practices.
Today, City Clerk Anna Valencia, announced legislation to create immediate and sustainable change within the City’s fines, fees and ticketing practices. The legislation is direct result of the research findings and recommendations released by the Collaborative last month in the Advancing Equity: First Steps Towards Fines & Fees Reform in Chicago report.
“This is the beginning of something historic,” said Clerk Valencia. “When I started this Collaborative I knew this had to be more than just a conversation. I knew the conversation had to lead to something bigger. As elected officials we have a responsibility to bring people together, to listen to them and amplify their voices but the most important aspect of this is being bold enough to act. Today, we took a monumental step in creating a city that gives all of our residents the opportunity to thrive.”
“The bold reforms we’re announcing are designed to be the first step in ending the practices of balancing the budget on the backs of those who can least afford it,” said Mayor Lightfoot. “By adopting these reforms Chicago can provide people real pathways and not obstacles to pay their debt while also receiving revenue that may otherwise remain unpaid.”
The Collaborative, created by Clerk Valencia in December of 2018, worked to create immediate as well as lasting transformational change to the current systems helping our residents achieve and maintain compliance. Over the course of six months, the Collaborative heard directly from residents through bilingual town hall meetings and roundtables as well as an online portal. The Collaborative also collected and analyzed data to help inform their decision-making and better understand the fiscal impacts on both residents and the city. In June, these findings were compiled and released to the public. The report and full set of recommendations can be found here. Today’s legislative proposal lays the fundamental groundwork necessary to building a pathway to compliance for the residents of Chicago.
The Office of the City Clerk will move forward with it’s previously announced Reduced Term City Sticker, providing residents with a four-month City Sticker option, and a one-month forgiveness program that would waive late fees and back charges for residents for City Stickers.
“We know firsthand the hardships families have suffered because of their debt to the City. The current fines and fees practices are making it nearly impossible for many families to get out of that debt. We applaud the Mayor and City Clerk for coming together to begin to reform these practices. I believe these efforts will spark the process of healing and strengthen us financially as we lift the counter-productive burdens currently built into the system and re-humanizing the process so that all Chicagoans can thrive and be the responsible, productive citizens (and residents) that they aspire to be,” said Rosazlia Grillier, Co-President of COFI/POWER-PAC Illinois, an organization of parent leaders in Chicago and Illinois.
“I’m proud to have been a part of this process and excited to see the hard work of the Collaborative come to life. I commend City Clerk Valencia for taking the initiative to bring everyone together to get the work done,” said 24th Ward Alderman Michael Scott Jr.
“As someone who has been working on these issues on the ground with the community and having sponsored legislation, I am excited to see real action being taken.” said 36th Ward Alderman Gilbert Villegas.
“I am encouraged and impressed to see the work of the collaborative to reform our fines and fees practices being implemented. The revenue needed for city services cannot be made on the backs of Chicago’s working families. I look forward to the continued work toward reform and relief,” said Finance Chairman Scott Waguespack.
"This proposed legislation would not have been possible without the leadership of Clerk Anna Valencia, who convened the Fines, Fees and Access Collaborative, worked tirelessly with the community and gave this issue the attention it deserved,” said Lisa Foster, Co-Director, Fines & Fees Justice Center. “We look forward to working with Mayor Lightfoot, Clerk Valencia, the Council and the community to continue to address fines and fees in Chicago.”
The legislation announced today will be officially introduced on the council floor at the next City council meeting this Wednesday, July 24th.