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City Council Follies

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All that talk about Mayor Daley coveting the governor's office is a lot of hooey. Daley has much bigger plans: a complete takeover of the federal government, with himself as president and the City Council replacing Congress.

Daley slyly hinted at that ambition for the second time in six months at last week's council meeting. The first mention came in December, when Alderman Ed Smith suggested seeing if the Northwestern football team could pass the stalled federal budget. "We could pass it," Daley chuckled, referring to the lopsided votes he's engineered for recent city budgets.

This time, performer Eartha Kitt was the catalyst for unmasking Daley's scheme. The council honored Kitt with a resolution, and after the laudatory speeches, she spoke:

"The interesting thing about being here this morning also, among you gov-ern-mental officials," Kitt trilled vampishly, "is that I see more seats filled here than I see in the House when I'm watching C-Span. So I'm very happy to say that at least here in Chicago it seems that the government is working." Daley began blushing.

Kitt leaned toward Daley. "I also kind of feel that since I've known his father very well," she purred, "that we can talk when we get past all the rhetoric. Then we'll have something more serious to talk about." Daley's blush grew deep enough to give him the bends, and he cast his eyes up at the ceiling--or was it heaven?

Kitt continued, "But at the same time I do feel that those who are not seen in the seats in Washington when I watch C-Span and they close down the government, I would like to ask you, May-uh, is it right for us taxpayers to be paying for those days that the government wasn't working?"

"We shouldn't!" Daley mumbled quickly.

"And he says we shouldn't!" Kitt smiled. "Therefore, what can we do about that?"

Daley turned redder still, then blurted out, "Allow myself and the City Council to run the government, hahahahahaha!"

You heard it here first.

Alderman Joseph Moore is fast becoming the council's Energizer Bunny, beating the good government drum no matter how often his proposals are sneered at or voted down. And if Moore is the Energizer Bunny, then Alderman Edward Burke is his evil nemesis.

First Burke squashed Moore's resolution to ask the Illinois State Toll Highway Authority for public hearings in Chicago on the planned extension of I-355 in Will County, which Moore contends will drain jobs and people from the city. Burke said Moore should just write a letter.

Later Moore moved to suspend council rules to allow an immediate vote on a proposed ordinance. Burke wouldn't even let the clerk read the ordinance out loud, though it's standard practice. Perhaps that's because the ordinance was about the ward remap case, in which a group of largely minority aldermen are suing the city and a group of largely white aldermen, including Burke. The plaintiffs believe the 1992 remap should have included more minority-majority wards, and they're unhappy that Burke's finance committee has approved paying attorneys' fees for the defendants and not for them.

Burke is probably still smarting over the ordinance Alderman Toni Preckwinkle tried introducing at the April council meeting to cut off funding for the attorneys' fees. Preckwinkle's very, very long ordinance was read aloud by the clerk, and it singled Burke out for special criticism.

Moore's ordinance would have required an accounting of the defendants' legal fees, about $6 million so far. Burke smiled as the clerk read the roll call defeating Moore 24-16.

--Cate Plys

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