CHICAGO (CBS) – City Council passed Wednesday Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s ordinance that strengthens the crackdown on illegal party buses and increases safety requirements for licensed bus operators.
The ordinance adds a number of requirements designed to target illegal and unlicensed buses in the city in hopes to reduced violence among patrons.
“The party is over for bus operators who don’t play by the rules in the city of Chicago,” Mayor Emanuel said. “This is a smart approach to hold bad actors accountable and boost safety on the many reputable buses that operate throughout the city.”
The strength and ordinance would raise fines for violations, require security personnel and cameras aboard party buses; but people licensed to carry concealed firearms could bring them aboard, which raised a big concern for Chicago Aldermen, who described party buses as rolling bars. WBBM’s Political Editor Craig Dellimore reports.
West Side Alderman Emma Mitts (37th Ward) said recent violent incidents aboard party buses prompted the administration to beef up regulations.
“Party buses are supposed to be for celebrations, not potential rolling cemeteries,” Ald. Mitts said.
Business Affairs Commissioner, Samantha Fields said the new ordinance enforces that.
“By requiring that the vehicles must have both a security guard on board and be equipped with security cameras,” Fields said.
But the ordinance does not say anything about banning guns on board for people licensed to carry concealed firearms.
“Most of these buses – it is a rolling bar because they have alcohol on these vehicles,” said North Lawndale Alderman Michael Scott (24th Ward). “And I’m just wondering what our recourse is?”
North Side Aldermen Michele Smith (43rd Ward) said the bus companies should be able to ban them, as bars can.
“Any business that does not want to have guns on its premises should be free to do so,” Ald. Smith said. “That’s a right, as much as the right to bear arms.”
Jeff Levine, Chief of Assistant Corporation Counsel said that might require a change in state law.
“The state law, I believe, defines bars in a way that makes in pretty clear that they are brick-and-mortar, but I think what you are raising is certainly arguments that could be advanced,” Levine said.
Other aldermen also urged that Illinois lawmakers expand the definition of bars to include party buses.