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City Council Follies

May 2, 1995/Democracy's Shining Lamp

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Alderman Robert Shaw's electric green double-breasted suit provided as much controversy last week as the new City Council's reorganization, which gives only 7 of 19 committee chairmanships to minorities. That only underscores the eerie bonhomie now reigning in the council.

Shaw led off the paltry band of three aldermen who verbally objected to the reorganization. None mustered any real passion on the topic. "Personally, I'm not interested in any chairmanship or any leadership position here in the council," said Shaw. "However, I do think--"

"That's a relief," quipped Daley, giggling ferociously.

"Not that I was gonna get one anyway!" Shaw chortled.

"You wore a green suit," Daley giggled, adding something unintelligible even by the mayor's standards.

The suit surfaced again during a debate over Alderman Eugene Schulter's ordinance relaxing some provisions of liquor license moratoriums. Shaw opposed the ordinance in a characteristically long and rambling speech. Schulter interrupted Shaw, hoping to rebut, but Alderman Bernard Stone countered that according to the rules Schulter had to wait until the entire debate was over to answer questions. Daley agreed with Stone and let Shaw continue.

"Thank you, your honor--uh, Mr. President. You a fair chairman. Uh, you a fair presiding officer," said Shaw.

"Thank you. I like that green suit!" said Daley, breaking into another ferocious giggle.

Stone spoke later and also opposed the ordinance. "It's all right if it's only Bob Shaw and me," he said. "I think Bob Shaw's against it, because I really couldn't tell in the middle of his speech."

Alderman Ricardo Munoz was loitering at the press box when he caught sight of the Sun-Times's two-page spread on the new council, featuring a picture and quick biography of each alderman. Munoz's blurb read: "Former gang 'affiliate' who pleaded guilty to drug and gun charges in 1980s. Now argues for more cops and less gang activity in his Southwest Side ward." Munoz blanched when he saw it. "Oh no. Oh no," he moaned. "I see the word 'gang'--oh no. This is gonna be up on people's walls for the next four years!"

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