About

Chicago Councilmatic tracks all things related to Chicago City Council: the legislation introduced and passed, its various committees and the meetings they hold, and the aldermen themselves.

You can search and browse legislation from 2011 onwards. Some interesting searches include:

Chicago Councilmatic is a free and easy way to access official Chicago City Council information.



What is Chicago City Council, and how does it work?

Chicago City Council is the legislative body of the City of Chicago. It consists of 50 elected aldermen, each representing one of Chicago's wards. City Council meets monthly and is presided over by Rahm Emanuel, the Mayor of Chicago. The secretary is Anna Valencia, City Clerk of Chicago.

Generally, Chicago City Council deals with the following topics:

For the nitty-gritty on how Chicago City Council works, read about its structure and rules from the City Clerk.


Types of legislation

Below are the categories of legislation in Chicago:

Type Description
Ordinance

Ordinances are proposed changes to Chicago’s local laws. Some of these are changes to Chicago’s Municipal Code and others, called uncompiled statutes, are recorded in the Council’s Journal of Proceedings.

Claim

If you are harmed by the City of Chicago, you can make a claim against the City for your costs. Minor harms, like personal injury or automotive damage, are settled through City Council as Claims. If you sue the City for harm and come to a settlement, the settlement must also be approved by the Council.

Resolution

Resolutions are typically symbolic, non-binding documents used for calling someone or some organization to take an action, statements announcing the City Council's intentions or honoring an individual.

Order

Orders direct a City Agency to do or not do something. They are typically used for ward matters like issuing business permits, designating parking zones and installing new signs and traffic signals.

Appointment

Used for appointing individuals to positions within various official City of Chicago and intergovernmental boards.

Report

Submissions of official reports by departments, boards and sister agencies.

Communication

Similar to reports and used for notifying City Council of intentions or actions.

Oath Of Office

Official swearing in of individuals to leadership positions at the City of Chicago, including Aldermen and board members.



Legislation tags

One of the more unusual aspects of Chicago City Council is the volume of ordinances that are introduced and passed every month. Most of these are routine items like sign permits, damaged vehicle claims, sidewalk cafe approvals and honorifics.

To help sort through all of this, we classify all legislation and tag it appropriately. If something doesn’t look like a routine piece of legislation, we tag it as Non-Routine to make it easier to discover.



We're open source!

This website is open source and on GitHub - meaning that anyone can re-use or adapt the code.



Data

The data on this website comes from the Chicago City Council legislation site, a system built by Granicus using their Legistar Legislative Management Suite. The Office of the City Clerkmanages the data, and on Councilmatic, each piece of legislation provides a link to its source for reference.

Daily, DataMade collects data from Legistar and the Legistar Web API, which we store using the Open Civic Data standard and platform. Built in collaboration with The Sunlight Foundation, Google, Granicus, and Open North, Open Civic Data standardizes information about people, organizations, events, and bills at any level of government.

Anyone can use the OCD API! This searchable government-transparency tool contains several useful endpoints:

  • bills: legislation introduced to City Council and their status and sponsors
  • events: past and upcoming Council and Committee meetings
  • people: the 50 Aldermen of Chicago and their Committee affiliations
  • organizations: groups of Aldermen who consider and debate legislation
  • votes: decisions made by specific Aldermen on bills

Read OCD API documentation

Want to see all bills from Chicago City Council? Add the "name" filter, and explore the results. To learn more, read our documentation of the API and its system of queryable endpoints.



Team

The site was built by DataMade, a civic technology company. They build open source technology using open data to empower journalists, researchers, governments and advocacy organizations.


Chicago Councilmatic has been built with support from The Sunlight Foundation, a national, nonpartisan, nonprofit organization committed to making government more accountable & transparent.



Contact us

Have a question about information you were seeking to find, or explanations of how Chicago City Council works? Send us an email info@datamade.us.

Developers: if you notice a bug, file an issue on our issue tracker!



Bring Councilmatic to your city!

We are committeed to spreading the Councilmatic platform to every city so everyone can stay informed on the actions of their local city council.

If you're interested in bringing Councilmatic to your city, sent us an email at info@councilmatic.org!



Credits

Councilmatic was originally created by Mjumbe Poe for Philadelphia, during his time as a 2011 Code For America Fellow. It was the first fully-developed open data site for municipal legislation in the United States.

Chicago Councilmatic was first rolled out in June 2013 by Derek Eder and Forest Gregg under Open City.

Photo credits

  • Chicago City Hall: Chicago Ideas
  • Chicago City Council Chambers: Daniel X. O'Neil
  • User Icon: Richard Schumann