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City Council Follies

January 12, 1995: Your government at work

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Alderman Edward Burke began the new year with a resolution congratulating a man who hopes to fashion public policy for millions of children in the image of old Mickey Rooney movies. Alderman Robert Shaw was the only one who noticed.

Career regular Democrat Burke's resolution celebrated uber-Republican Newt Gingrich, calling him "the framer and spearhead of the innovative Republican 'Contract With America'" who, along with his fellow Republicans, "earned the confidence and trust of the American voters" on November 8. In a council of 49 Democrats and one Republican, only Shaw, an anti-Daley Democrat, blocked unanimous passage.

Burke explained his bipartisan brownnosing: "My intention of course was that with the new advent of leadership in both the Congress and the legislature, we should be about being gracious, knowing full well that we're going to have to come to them on bended knee."

"There's just too many controversial positions that the speaker has taken to date for me to go on record congratulating him on anything. I don't think my community feels in a congratulatory mood at this time," said Shaw, who represents the far south side's Ninth Ward.

Burke agreed to send the resolution back to his Finance Committee, where it may be reworded or pass into oblivion. "Over the lone Republican alderman Doherty's strong objections," he kidded.

"Aren't you a Republican?" shot back anti-Daley Democrat Alderman Dorothy Tillman, who was passing by Burke's chair.

"Only a closet one, Alderman," said Burke.

"I thought you was!" Tillman snickered.

Later, anti-Daley alderman Dexter Watson, known for a speaking style apparently modeled after pro wrestlers, began his own new year with a perfect one-and-one record: one council meeting, one screaming rant. This one came in a debate over the representation of minority firms in a bond issue up for council approval.

"I will vote against this, and I will vote against anything else that comes out of this City Council with the BS that comes outta here!" screamed Watson.

"I have a question through the chair," said Burke innocently. "I was just curious if that BS, does that mean 'Bueno Salud'?"

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