Renaming of Lake Shore Drive may hit roadblockFran Spielmanon May 26, 2021 at 3:17 pm

Lake Shore Drive, seen from the northbound on-ramp entrance at East 18th Drive.
Lake Shore Drive, seen from the northbound on-ramp entrance at East 18th Drive. | Brian Ernst/Sun-Times

Any two aldermen can move to “defer and publish,” which delays action for one meeting without explanation. The move is likely to start with downtown Ald. Brian Hopkins.

An eleventh-hour parliamentary maneuver on Wednesday appears likely to temporarily derailed a controversial plan to rename Outer Lake Shore Drive in honor of Jean Baptiste Point DuSable.

Any two aldermen can move to “defer and publish,” which delays consideration of any matter for one meeting without explanation.

The parliamentary maneuver is likely to start with downtown Ald. Brian Hopkins (2nd), though it was unclear which alderman might second the motion.

In a text message to the Sun-Times, Hopkins said, “I’m willing to D&P. But, I’m not asking around for a second. Mayor’s staff is. I’m just waiting to hear if/who will second.”

Asked to explain why, Hopkins wrote, “Still unclear if downtown buildings are affected. Specifically 500, 505 and 474 N. Lake Shore Drive. Carving out inner drive doesn’t help.”

The potential delay angered Ald. David Moore (17th), the City Council champion for renaming the roadway to honor DuSable, a Black man who was Chicago’s first permanent non-indigenous settler.

Moore has said previously that by renaming only the outer drive, the number of addresses affected would be severely limited.

On Wednesday, Moore vowed to join Ald. Sophia King (4th), his co-sponsor, in calling a special City Council meeting to accomplish the name change — and retaliate by playing his own brand of hardball from here on in.

“If they want to play politics, I take that personal and everything that comes before that Council, I’ll d-and-p,” he said, referring to “defer and publish.”

“Everything that comes before that Council, I’ll ask for a roll call on. If they want to do this, then that’s what I’ll do,” Moore said.

“It takes a little bit more than this to make me angry. But, what I will tell you is that they’re going to be angry because I’m going to hold up every City Council meeting going forward regardless,” he added.

“They can’t stop this. It’s just a delay.”

Mayor Lori Lightfoot has made it clear she has “concerns” about the name change. She fears changing the name of Chicago’s most iconic and picturesque boulevard — made famous in song and movies — could hurt marketing of the city and be costly and cumbersome for homeowners and businesses.

“If she’s saying that, that’s a negative undertone to me towards Black people. I don’t know where she gets that from. That tells me that a Black person’s name is not marketable,” Moore said.

Moore on Tuesday said Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s administration previously had tried to block the ordinance with an alternative he views as having “racial overtones” — renaming the Dan Ryan Expressway for DuSable instead.

Lightfoot has also offered to complete DuSable Park, create an exhibit honoring DuSable at the “most traveled part” of the downtown Riverwalk and rename the entire Riverwalk in honor of DuSable.

Those options, he said, amounted to “keep it on the South Side. South of like 35th Street. Let’s be honest: Keep it in the Black community,” Moore told the Sun-Times Tuesday.

Moore refused to name the person who made the offer to rename the Dan Ryan. “I’ll just say the [Lightfoot] administration and leave it at that.”

Even so, Moore said he blames individual aldermen — not the mayor — for Wednesday’s delay.

“Councilmen have their own voice. We’ve always talked about having a strong Council, weak mayor. That’s why I ran for office. So I could have a strong voice. Council men [and women] get to vote. The mayor don’t get a vote. If Councilmen kowtow to that, that’s because they’re weak. Not because the mayor is so strong,” he said.

Moore said he is certain he still has the 26 votes needed to pass the name change. He’s determined to get it done — sooner, not later.

“They can’t stop this. It’s just a delay. … People care about this. People know that this is the right thing to do,” he told the Sun-Times.

“It’s about the children. When I introduced it, the number of kids from [local elementary schools] became aware of Jean Point Baptiste DuSable. All of those kids — when they called me — it was important to them. Even more young people began to learn about him. Even more people up north began to learn about him. That’s what this is all about.”

South Lake Shore Drive at East 31st Street, looking north.
Brian Ernst/Sun-Times
South Lake Shore Drive at East 31st Street, looking north.

Some expressing concern about the change say it will inconvenience some residents.

Zoning Committee Chairman Tom Tunney (44th) has said he’s gotten an earful about the name change from “people who actually live on Lake Shore Drive.” They fear it would be “somewhat of a nightmare in terms of mailing addresses and everything else they would have to re-arrange,” Tunney has said.

Downtown Ald. Brendan Reilly (42nd) has similarly warned the name change will require a “time-consuming and costly fix” for “tens of thousands” of Chicago voters and have “costly implications” for businesses, police and fire.

Also, earlier this week, Moore disclosed the combined cost to the city, state and CTA to change signs, maps and schedules pales by comparison to the cost of Lightfoot’s alternative proposals to honor DuSable — less than $2.5 million “to make the street change, signs and everything.”

In 1993, then-aldermen Toni Preckwinkle and Madeline Haithcock proposed renaming Lake Shore Drive to honor DuSable. Mayor Richard M. Daley put the kibosh on the idea.

Then, 18 years later, then-Ald. Ed Smith proposed a different honor — naming City Hall after DuSable. It met the same fate.

Since then, the political landscape has changed dramatically.

The Council is now majority-minority, with 20 Black aldermen and 13 Hispanic members.

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