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Rahm Emanuel: Bosser Than The Daleys

In his first two years in office, Mayor Rahm Emanuel has enjoyed more support from the city council than his predecessor Richard M. Daley or Boss Mayor Richard J. Daley.

Emanuel had more total control over the council than even Mayor Edward J. Kelly, who was a co-founder of the Cook County Democratic Machine, according to a new study of aldermanic voting patterns.

The study, authored by Dick Simpson, a political science professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago, and Melissa Mouritsen Zmuda, a UIC graduate researcher, analyzed 30 divided roll call votes since the current city council began in May 2011. By definition, divided roll call votes are those on which at least one alderman opposed the Mayor's position.

According to the study, 21 aldermen voted to support Mayor Emanuel's position 100 percent of the time and 18 aldermen voted with him over 90 percent of the time. Only seven of the 30 issues drew six or more dissenting votes.

"Mayor Emanuel presides over a more compliant 'rubber stamp' city council than any mayor in recent history," said Simpson who served as 44th Ward Alderman from 1971 to 1979.

"The average level of support for Mayor Emanuel was 93 percent on all divided roll call votes, an increase from the overwhelming 88 percent Richard M. Daley enjoyed in his last term. It was also greater than the 83 percent achieved by Richard J. Daley in his first two years in office, 1955-56, or the 85 percent support the 'Boss' received in 1971-72. Emanuel even topped Mayor Edward J. Kelly's 88 percent support earned in 1939-40."

Rookie Alderman John Arena (45th) voted with the mayor 40 percent of the time and Nicholas Sposato (36th) 67 percent. Three other incumbent aldermen comprise the core of the opposition: Alderman Bob Fioretti (2nd) supported the Mayor on only 53 percent of the contested issues; Ald. Scott Waguespack (32nd Ward) 63 percent; and Leslie Hairston (5th) 73 percent.

The voting patterns of the 32 re-elected aldermen did not change much under the new mayor except for Ald. Ricardo Munoz (22nd) and Ald. Joe Moore (49th), who were both previously seen as independent and progressive.

"Their support for the mayor skyrocketed," said Zmuda. "Munoz voted only 65 percent of the time with Mayor Daley but voted 87 percent with Emanuel. Moore too reversed course, voting 51 percent with Daley but 97 percent with Emanuel."

Another anomaly was former 7th Ward Ald. Sandi Jackson, who recently resigned after pleading guilty to tax charges related to the use of campaign funds to buy personal luxuries and household items. Jackson voted with Daley only 53 percent of the time but gave Emanuel 90 percent support when she voted. She was absent for nine divided roll call votes in 2012.

In Emanuel's first two years, the issue that drew the most dissent was the mayor's proposal to place cameras in so-called "Children's Safety Zones" around schools to catch speeders. Some aldermen questioned the necessity since speed humps and other traffic-slowing strategies had already been employed. Other aldermen said the plan was just a way for the city to collect more revenue. Emanuel agreed to a few modifications to appease some of the critics. In the end, 14 aldermen voted against the ordinance, three were absent and 33 voted for passage.

The six other issues that garnered the most dissent and the number of "no" votes were:

- The appointment of Faisal Khan as Legislative Inspector General (9 no votes)

- A new re-districted ward map (8 )

- Motion to table Ald. Fioretti's substitute ordinance to the proposed Infrastructure Trust (9)

- Motion to table Ald. Waguespack's substitute Infrastructure Trust ordinance (8)

- Final vote establishing the Infrastructure Trust (7)

- Ordinance to grant to one company a 30-year lease for 34 digital billboards (6)

A city council development that could affect voting patterns in the current and future terms, is the splitting of the "progressive" or "independent" caucus, an informal group of aldermen who met occasionally to introduce their own ordinances or oppose or modify legislation pushed by the mayor.

Nine aldermen decided that the caucus needed more structure so they formed the Progressive Reform Coalition and announced on March 11 that their priorities were a moratorium on new charter schools, a privatization ordinance and a responsible bidders ordinance. The members and their wards are: Robert Fioretti (2nd), Leslie Hairston (5th), Roderick Sawyer (6th), Toni Foulkes (15th), Ricardo Munoz (22nd), Scott Waguespack (32nd), Nick Sposato (36th), John Arena (45th) and Ameya Pawar (47th).

A day later, a group of 10 aldermen formed the Paul Douglas Alliance, named after the late former U.S. Senator and former alderman Paul Douglas. The Alliance said it wanted to abolish the Legislative Inspector General and give its power to the City Inspector General. Members of the Alliance are Proco Joe Moreno (1st), Pat Dowell (3rd), Will Burns (4th), Rey Colon (35th), Brendan Reilly (42nd), Michele Smith (43rd), James Cappleman (46th), Ameya Pawar (47th), Harry Osterman (48th) and Joe Moore (49th). Pawar belongs to both groups.

Members of the Paul Douglas Alliance on average voted 92.5 percent of the time with Emanuel while the Progressive Reform Coalition averaged only 73 percent support for the new Mayor. Thus, Simpson said, "the Alliance supports the mayor and Reform Coalition provides much of the opposition to the mayor. The split in the progressive ranks, however, makes the mayor's control more complete."


See also:
* The Yes Men: Why Chicago's Spineless City Council Just Can't Say No

* The Five Holdouts

* The Regressive Caucus


Comments welcome.


Posted on April 9, 2013

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