City Council Follies | Our Town | Chicago Reader

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City Council Follies

March 9, 1995/The Living Republic


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Last week's City Council meeting threatened to turn into a Leo Buscaglia seminar, with aldermen hugging and pumping hands after the recent primary. Even close Daley ally Charles Bernardini, a big winner, warmly shook hands with arch Daley enemy Dexter Watson, a big loser. Then Alderman Robert Shaw revved things up.

Shaw introduced a resolution against Republican state senator Walter Dudycz's bill to eliminate affirmative action in Illinois. Shaw personally addressed Alderman Brian Doherty, the council's lone Republican: "I would hope that all of our colleagues, every member, including the enlightened Republican that we got in this council, would vote in the affirmative for this resolution," he boomed.

Doherty chuckled, but became the only alderman to vote against the resolution.

"I personally don't agree with affirmative action," Doherty said. "I think the thoughts behind it was correct, but I don't think it's accomplishing its goals and I think it's dividing a wedge between people." Yes, those were his exact words.

"See how sometimes we can make a mistake," Shaw said sadly in a closing speech. "I thought my friend was an enlightened Republican, but I was wrong. You see, sometimes we make a mistake."

Defeated alderman Dexter Watson offered what may be his swan song. Recall that Watson is working on a perfect record this year for screaming rants at council meetings--though, like last year's baseball players, Watson's stats are now destined to reflect a shortened season. The rant excerpted here, screamed in support of Shaw's resolution, makes Watson three-for-three.

Watson started by attacking his constituents. "This resolution needs to be supported by all right-thinking people. Individuals got an opportunity to voice their opinion on election day, and they thought that it was best for them not to send me back down here. Well, I will think those were the wrong-thinking people," screamed Watson.

He ended by attacking Mayor Daley. "They wanna bring plantation politics back into this city on the west side in my community! We're not gonna let it happen. Tell your boss," he screamed even louder at Daley ally Alderman Lorraine Dixon, presiding for the absent mayor, "we're comin' after him on April the fourth! Tell 'im! We're not gon' let him be the mayor no longer!"

No word on whether that "we" includes Watson's wrong-thinking constituents. --

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