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City Council Follies

December 13, 1995/Democracy's Shining Lamp

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Wasting no time on frivolous matters, the City Council started last week's meeting with a resolution honoring the Northwestern football team for its impending Rose Bowl match, the first in 47 years. Alderman William Beavers had an ingenious suggestion for capitalizing on the Wildcats' success:

"Mr. Mayor, what you need to do is send the Bears a message. You know, we can move Northwestern into Soldier Field." Beavers paused while Daley and the council broke up. "And I guarantee you we could fill it up every week. Thank you."

Alderman Ed Smith noted that Northwestern's success is having "very far-reaching effects. If you notice, the U.S. Senate approved a resolution unanimously to support and congratulate the Northwestern team, so maybe we should get Northwestern involved in trying to get the [federal] budget passed. Finally get that done."

"We could pass it, hehehehe," Daley answered, no doubt referring to the last several unanimous or near-unanimous votes he's engineered on the city budget.

Early in the meeting, several protesters in the gallery livened things up with an ear-splitting whistle just as Alderman Edward Burke began addressing the council. The protest was aimed at Alderman Billy Ocasio, who recently blocked the creation of a home for people with AIDS that would have been located in his ward.

"Alderman Ocasio, people with AIDS need housing now! Alderman Ocasio turns his back on people with AIDS!" chanted the protesters, holding up signs.

"Scared the hell out of me! Hahahaha!" Burke laughed nervously.

"That's your baptism!" Alderman Dorothy Tillman told Ocasio, who's still relatively new to the council.

The protesters were easily led out by security guards, and Alderman Lorraine Dixon, presiding for the perennially absent Mayor Daley, called on Burke to continue.

"And Merry Christmas to you too," Burke called after the departing protesters.

As expected, the council passed an ordinance giving up its authority to oversee $175 million of the city's transportation department projects. Alderman Joseph Moore was the only alderman dissenting.

"Mr. President?" asked Alderman Burton Natarus.

"Yes, alderman," answered Daley, who'd returned to the podium.

"I think the record oughta show that Alderman Moore is a wolf," said Natarus. Everyone looked puzzled. "It's a joke," Natarus said quickly. "If you don't understand it, go and ask [Chicago Tribune reporter] John Kass."

Natarus was referring to Kass's article the day before. Kass wrote that the aldermen, once known as the "Grey Wolves," could now be called the "Cuddly Toy Poodles," because they roll over whenever Daley asks them to give some of their authority to him or his departments.

"John? Yeah, well," muttered Daley. "New business?"

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