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Aldermen get defensive when they're accused of being mayoral rubber stamps. But it's a given around City Hall that the fate of most of the matters sent to them for "consideration" has been decided well beforehand. A few examples from the past two days alone:
Accurate prediction made by the chairman of a council committee to a reporter just before the committee began debate of a controversial ordinance:
"It's going to pass."Exchange overheard in the hallway outside City Council chambers, minutes after a council committee unanimously approved the sale of some city property for $1 to a church:
CITY OFFICIAL TO CHURCH PASTOR: Now all we have left is the full City Council, and they'll approve it at their meeting next week. You don't have to come down here for it.
CHURCH PASTOR: OK, great.
Statement to reporter by veteran alderman chatting up the prospects of a proposed ordinance before another committee:
"Well, the committee chairman is obviously in favor of it, and ordinarily if it gets through a committee it'll be approved by the full council."
Sample of aldermanic comments in the first few minutes of another committee meeting:
ALDERMAN A: I think this is great.
ALDERMAN B: I want to commend you. I think this is great.
ALDERMAN C: This is really a great project.
ALDERMAN D: I'd love a project like this in my ward.
ALDERMAN E: Why are we here?