Emanuel blocks Burke’s ethanol bill

Source: By Hal Dardick and John Byrne, Chicago Tribune • Posted: Thursday, December 11, 2014

Mayor Rahm Emanuel on Wednesday doused Ald. Ed Burke’s plan to require larger city gas stations to offer fuel with higher levels of ethanol — an effort backed by big agriculture and some environmental groups but opposed by big oil and small business.

Emanuel said the measure “needs more work” before it could get his blessing.

“I think this ordinance needs a little more time to be thought through and done in a way that doesn’t put undue burdens on the small businesses, but also makes sure that our goal as a city from an environmental policy is also met,” Emanuel said.

Burke noted that only about 1 in 4 city gas stations would be affected by his proposal, and the ethanol industry and American Lung Association of Illinois had pledged $11 million to defray E15 equipment installation costs at those gas stations.

“So I think we’ve gone a long way to help small business, and I don’t think there’s any question about the fact it helps to clean up the environment,” Burke said. “It was deferred today, but that doesn’t mean it’s not coming to a vote.”

Emanuel did back two other less-controversial efforts by Burke that will be considered next year.

One would ban the use of chokeholds by private security officers and Chicago police, though the department’s policies already effectively disallow their use. The proposal follows a decision by a New York grand jury not to indict a police officer in the incident that led to the death of Eric Garner during a confrontation with police over his selling of loose cigarettes.

The other Burke ordinance would change the city’s ban on racial profiling by police to protect people based on national origin and gender identity. Currently, protections are in place for people based on race, ethnicity, gender, religion, disability, sexual orientation and host of other factors.

In other City Hall action Wednesday:

•Emanuel decried the appointment of Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn’s former campaign aide as head of the agency that oversees U.S. Cellular Field.

Quinn, who appoints four of the seven Illinois Sports Facilities Authority board members, engineered the approval of 30-year-old Lou Bertuca as executive director of the agency this week. Emanuel said the post should be filled by someone with deep financial expertise and that Republican Gov.-elect Bruce Rauner should get to pick his own leader, in cooperation with the mayor, after he is sworn in Jan. 12.

•Aldermen approved changes to the city’s tax regulations that are designed to lower cabdrivers’ costs for leases, administrative fines and credit card fees. There was no fare increase, however. Sponsoring Ald. Anthony Beale, 9th, called it a compromise “to put more money in the taxi drivers’ pocket, because they’ve been screaming for that increase.”

•The mayor introduced a measure that would require higher payments into the city’s affordable housing fund from developers of larger housing projects in higher-end city neighborhoods who do not set aside enough affordable units in their buildings or nearby locations.

•The mayor backed a measure by Burke and Ald. John Pope, 10th, to establish new limits on the amount of petroleum coke stored in Chicago by March 31. Storage of so-called petcoke has been a major environmental issue on the Southeast Side.