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The full City Council today rubber-stamped Mayor Daley’s selection of Ninth Ward alderman Anthony Beale as the new chairman of the council’s police and fire committee, but some aldermen quietly bitched—before and after the vote—about how the appointment was made. That's because under the City Council’s rules of order aldermen are supposed to choose who sits on what committee, but they've long yielded that privilege to the mayor.
By now Daley can count on council to give his picks the thumbs up just hours after he makes them.
Beale told me someone from the mayor’s office contacted him last night and asked him if he were interested in chairing the police and fire committee. He said he told the aide he was “most definitely” interested, and he met with Daley this morning prior to the City Council meeting, which began at 10 a.m.
Beale promised he won't merely carry out Daley's wishes. “There’s not any appointment in the world that’s going to have me compromise my integrity. This [appointment] just gives me a larger voice on things we need to do to move forward and make our streets safer.”
So would one of those things be looking at an ordinance proposed by Second Ward alderman Bob Fioretti that would revamp the city’s police board, whose members routinely blow off meetings and are reluctant to punish cops for misconduct?
“We’re going to look at everything,” Beale said. “You know, I have to get in and get my feet wet and talk with everyone.”
Beale has occasionally gone toe to toe with police brass over the department's budget for things like the $1,800-a-year allowance it gives officers for uniforms, but Daley told reporters “that was a few years ago.”
“He’s had some criticism, but in the long run he’s supported the police and fire department tremendously in his district,” Daley told reporters.
All the aldermen I talked to said they found out about Beale’s appointment either last night or this morning, but none of them griped about Beale getting the spot, even though some were irked at the way Daley did it.
“It’s part of the culture that has existed in this body for many, many years,” said 49th Ward alderman Joe Moore. “With no disrespect to [Beale], I think the process stinks.”
Other aldermen don’t entirely agree with Moore’s assessment.
“I think the process worked,” said the 20th Ward's Willie Cochran, a former police officer who was also recommended by the council’s Black Caucus to chair the committee. “The mayor has been making those decisions. There didn’t seem to be any reasons given by anyone that would change that, so true to form we’re going to stay with that process.”