CHICAGO, IL — The University of Chicago Center for Effective Government (CEG) and Crain’s Chicago Business are joining forces on a multi-part, in-depth editorial series that examines Chicago’s system of governance through a critical lens. The series, "One City, 50 Wards: Does The City That Works Really Work?," asks fundamental questions about how well City Hall’s current structure serves its diverse population and explores the policy implications of a system that divides the city into 50 balkanized wards where independently elected aldermen work parochially to benefit local constituents.
The series underscores that Chicagoans largely take as a given the design of our City Council, reminds readers that political institutions are malleable—and that our way of doing things isn’t everybody’s way. Other cities can provide models, as well as cautionary tales. Rules can be changed, institutions can be recast, and the very fabric of our city government can be reshaped.
Starting Feb. 6, through deeply reported news articles, op-eds from key Chicago voices, events throughout the community, and via social media, Crain’s and the Center for Effective Government will unpack the complex connections between how city government is designed, how it functions, and how it performs so Chicagoans can make the tough choices about how they move forward as a city, in the 2023 election and beyond.
“As we approach a critical municipal election, it is exactly the right time to ask fundamental questions about the design, functionality, and efficacy of our city council—and their effects on the issues that matter most to Chicagoans,” said William Howell, director of the Center for Effective Government and the Sydney Stein Professor of American Politics at UChicago “We are thrilled for the chance to work with Crain’s Chicago Business on this essential project by injecting a diverse set of expert voices and bold ideas for reform into the conversation.”
“As we approach a critical municipal election, it is exactly the right time to ask fundamental questions about the design, functionality, and efficacy of our city council—and their effects on the issues that matter most to Chicagoans.”
Said Jim Kirk, executive editor and group publisher of Crain’s Chicago Business: “We are delighted to partner with the Center for Effective Government on this important project. The mission of any news organization should be to question how the machinations of government work for the people it serves, including, at times, the structure of the government body itself. We expect this series to spark important and much-needed conversations about the effectiveness of Chicago’s City Council.”
As part of the upcoming series, CEG and Crain's Chicago Business will co-host a two-part virtual symposium examining critical issues of municipal governance with panels of experts and local leaders. Registration for the virtual events is open to the public here.