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City Council Follies

February 8, 1995/Democracy's Shining Lamp

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Two PBS producers working on a documentary about American political culture visited City Council last week and needlessly wondered if they'd get good material. They got Alderman Dexter Watson, now two-for-two in screaming rants at council meetings this year.

Watson--one of the few black aldermen who doesn't need to distance himself from Mayor Daley for election purposes since the gulf between them would already fit an infinitely expanding universe--screamed in support of an ordinance that would restrict the city's ability to privatize services. He did so with a gallery apparently packed to provide a gospel chorus for the ordinance's supporters.

"What we need, Madam Chairman," Watson screamed to Alderman Lorraine Dixon, presiding in Daley's absence, "is to have the mayor, the mayor should be here to listen to the discussion! Where is the mayor? Is the mayor schemin' up on some more privatization to get rid of a lot more of us in this city?"

Chorus: Yes!

"It is always a puzzle to me when I come to these City Council meetings and the mayor is here less than most people! And he's elected to serve the whole city! What we should do is privatize Richard Daley! And get rid of him!"

Chorus: Whoooooh! Yeesssss!

"You are a disgusting order of colleagues who can't even stand up for their citizens!" Watson screamed at his fellow aldermen.

Chorus: That's right!

"It is time to probably privatize a bunch of these colleagues in here as well! We pay the salaries of each and every person that's runnin' around here, got these suits on, sittin' in these city councils, sit up there, we need to know what they're doin'!"

Chorus: Yes!

"I hope on February 28 that we privatize a bunch of people in here to understand who really is the boss, and then we'll get what we need to get! Thank you, Madam Chair!"

Chorus: Yeeaaaaah! Whoooooh!

The PBS producers scored another anecdote with Alderman Brian Doherty. As the council's only Republican, Doherty might have been especially interested in how some public television dollars are being spent. But when Doherty was told they were producers from PBS, the north-west-side alderman instead asked, "What's that?"

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