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Such was the case this week when Mick Dumke and I hosted another fun-filled episode of First Tuesdays, our action-packed political talk show at the Hideout.
Our guests were Aldermen Danny Solis and Rick Munoz. Thanks for coming, gentlemen!
We were talking about Karen Lewis—or Mayor Lewis if she makes good on her threat to run against Mayor Emanuel.
Go, Karen, go!
Sorry, got carried away there for a second.
Anyway, I asked Alderman Solis if he would be leading a Council Wars-like insurrection against Mayor Lewis, should there be a Mayor Lewis.
And he looked at me as if I came from Mars.
"I don't understand your question," he said.
So I babbled on as best I could: Well, you've been a loyal supporter of Mayor Rahm's. And he's, like, against everything Karen Lewis represents. So, you know—wouldn't you fight like hell against her ideas should she get elected?
And he said: Dang, boy, don't you know shit about Chicago!
Well, he didn't say that exactly, though he probably thought it.
What he said was that he would support Karen Lewis should she get elected.
And that's when the light went on: these aren't ideologues in the City Council.
Okay, there may be one or two true believers in the crowd. Like I'm pretty sure Aldermen Ed Burke and Patrick O'Connor really do favor our feudalistic spoils system of government.
Just as I actually believe that Alderman Scott Waguespack truly supports good-government principles of transparency. Which is why it's nothing short of a miracle that he got elected in the first place.
But other than that, most alderman—like Alderman Solis—go along to get along.
And so if the mayor's for doing something really stupid, like selling off the parking meter system for a fraction of its value, then sell it we must.
But if the mayor's for slapping some kind of tax on LaSalle Street transactions, then slap those rich mother so-and-sos.
Yes, Aldermen Solis and Munoz said they could support such a tax, if a Mayor Lewis were to propose it.
In other words, it's not about ideology, stupid. It's about avoiding fights with powerful mayors who can make your life difficult.
Even Alderman Munoz—usually one of the council's more independent members—admitted he voted for Mayor Rahm's parking meter agreement in return for some goodies for his ward.
So if you want a progressive City Council, all you have to do is elect a progressive mayor. As opposed to the Mitt Romney wannabe currently occupying the fifth floor of City Hall.
Once I figured that out, I got so happy I was singing Pharrell Williams all the way home.
Then I woke up in the morning and saw that Mayor Rahm had raised $1 million in less than a week from a handful of his rich friends.
And I realized it's going to be really hard to elect a progressive mayor in this town. I got so depressed I went on a two-day bender.
If you want to recapture the happy time, I encourage everyone to watch classic moments from Tuesday's show—as put together by Peter Holderness, the world's greatest videographer. Such as:
Alderman Munoz on vote trading:
The aldermen envisioning a Karen Lewis as mayor:
Alderman Solis on UNO:
How the two aldermen got into politics—and why they're planning to endorse each other for reelection:
And Mick taking a hit off a giant water bong and singing Love and Happiness. Oh, wait—that was at the after party.
See you at the next First Tuesday on August 5, everybody.