City Council approves new budget, Ald. Sandi Jackson absent - FOX 35 News Orlando

City Council approves new budget, Ald. Sandi Jackson absent from vote

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

Chicago's City Council approved Mayor Emanuel's $6.5 billion budget Thursday. But Alderman Sandi Jackson wasn't there to cast her ballot in one of the most important votes of the year.

The city's aldermen voted 46-3 on Thursday to approve Mayor Rahm Emanuel's $8.3 billion spending plan.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel has said the budget will put more police officers on Chicago's streets and more kids in early childhood education without raising taxes or fees. It also includes plans to cut 275 jobs, some of which the mayor's office said already are vacant.

The budget relies on an expectation of continued improvement in the economy, including growth in income and hotel taxes.

Emanuel expressed sympathy for the alderman after Thursday's meeting. He also said that on a day the budget passed 46-3 it was not crucial that she attend.

"This is a unique moment in time for her, as both a spouse and a parent, let alone as an alderman. She'll make those decisions," Emanuel says. "I don't think for the budget it was essential."

But he did say that it's time Congressman Jackson start talking to his constituents about "his intentions and his actions."

Some in her 7th Ward say it's time Mrs. Jackson started answering questions.

Barbara Moore and many others at 71st and Jeffrey tonight told us they were very surprised to hear that their Alderman skipped Thursday's big vote on Mayor Emanuel's $6.5 billion budget. 

"Talk to the constituents. Talk to the members in the community, so that we can have some kind of idea as far as what's going on with Sandi Jackson and with her husband, Jesse Jackson, Jr.," pleads Moore, a South Shore resident.

Ald. Jackson reportedly told her constituents at a Wednesday night community meeting that she is still working for them. But the 7th ward alderman was not at City Hall Thursday.

She has been skipping committee and council meeting in the last few weeks. According to records kept by the City Clerk, Mrs. Jackson has missed one-third of this year's City Council meetings and 91% of the meetings held by council committees on which she sits:

The powerful Council Rules committee, 0 for 8;

Health & Environmental Protection, 0 for 4;

Economic Development, 0 for 5;

Human Relations 0 for 5;

Transportation, 1 for 6;

Public Safety, 1 for 7;

Housing & Real Estate, 2 for 10.

A chairman of one of those committees complained angrily, but only off the record, about Ald. Jackson's chronic absenteeism.

Some constituents also expressed concerned about having an absentee alderman.

"I believe that, you know, by her missing the meetings is taking a toll on the community," says Shaneka Vine.

Late Thursday, the city clerk's office gave an update.  It turns out that Ald. Jackson recently skipped several more committee meetings.  She's attended only four of 53 committees' meetings this year.

The one-time power couple actually live in Washington, D.C., where they put their DuPont Circle home on the market for $2.5 million.

More details have been revealed about the federal investigation into her husband, Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. in recent days. It's been reported that Mrs. Jackson is also under investigation for her role as a political consultant to his office.

SEE: Sandi Jackson's exclusive text about reports of federal probe

A source told FOX 32 News that federal investigators are trying to determine if the couple spent campaign money to remodel the basement of their Chicago home and allegedly claim it as a campaign headquarters.

Both Jacksons have avoided the media, and they said they've been told by their lawyers not to talk about the investigation. That's a rule apparently being followed by the aldermen who did come to the City Hall meeting as well.

The aldermen said they will not comment on Ald. Jackson, saying it would be bad form to except on a fellow council member who is enduring this level of stress.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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