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City Council Follies 

The Ringing Bells of Liberty/June 14, 1995

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Only Alderman John Buchanan stopped the predictable steamrolling of the dwindling anti-Daley forces last week. The council was debating an ordinance that would let the mayor appoint 37 of 39 members to a board overseeing Chicago's economic empowerment zone. Oh, the anti-Daleyites still got steamrolled, of course. Buchanan just made it less predictable.

Buchanan, whose southeast-side 10th Ward isn't included in the zone, scoffed good-naturedly at other nonzone aldermen who complained about being left out of its $100 million in federal funds. "I'm very happy that Dorothy, er, Alderman Preckwinkle and Dorothy Tillman are getting some dough in their wards," declared Buchanan, who also presumably calls detectives "private dicks" and gets "tight" instead of drunk.

"Right, we need dough!" cracked Tillman after she straightened up from laughing.

Buchanan went on, urging his colleagues to vote unanimously for the ordinance. "We don't always agree," he allowed. "The mayor and I haven't always agreed. He wanted to put an airport on my house."

Daley, whose laugh rarely rises above his signature giggle, broke up.

"The runway ran right down my block!" Buchanan continued, showing considerable comedic talent by keeping a straight face while he played to a roaring audience. "And I said no! I won, he lost!"

Speaking of steamrollers, if council meetings were true cartoons rather than merely cartoonish, Alderman Robert Shaw would have been peeled off the floor by his aides, folded into a paper airplane, and tossed out a window. Shaw tried using the agenda title of "miscellaneous business" at the tail end of the meeting to discuss an ordinance before the Finance Committee that he says would allow the city to deposit money with 18 banks, many of which he believes discriminate against minorities.

"Point of information, point of information," interrupted Alderman Burton Natarus.

"Chair recognizes Alderman Natarus," said Daley.

"Do we have this matter on the floor now that we're discussing?" Natarus demanded.

"It is not, but I'm not--," Shaw began, his voice rising, before Natarus cut him off.

"Well where is it, is it on the floor?" Natarus yelled.

"I'm not, I'm not. Yes! It's on the floor because I put it there, and under our rules we can talk about it! Now!" Shaw yelled back.

"Where, where does it--," yelled Natarus.

"You know the rules!" yelled Shaw.

"Chair recognizes Alderman Burke," said a grateful Daley as Alderman Edward Burke signaled him. "Chair recognizes Alderman Burke," Daley said again as Shaw and Natarus continued yelling at each other.

"Siddown!" Shaw yelled at Natarus.

"No, you siddown!" yelled Natarus.

"Chair recognizes Alderman Burke, please," Daley repeated tiredly.

"Your honor," said Burke, waiting for Shaw and Natarus to shut up. "Your honor. Your honor. Your honor, it's my understanding of the rules that the gentleman can make a motion to discharge the committee from further consideration of the matter if a certain number of days have transpired. I haven't calculated the number of days, but it may well be that he can make that motion. I didn't hear him make that motion."

"Chair recognizes Alderman Burke, date of the next meeting," said Daley happily, which meant the meeting was over.

"Mr. President! Under our rules--," called Shaw.

"Chair recognizes Alderman Burke," said a stubborn Daley.

"I have an ordinance setting the date--," Burke shouted above Shaw.

"The fact of the matter is--," Shaw got in, before Burke's rising voice drowned him out.

"--the date and the time of the next meeting, for the 13th day of July 1995 at 10 AM in the council chambers."

"We're all gonna go play golf now," quipped Daley.

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