"Consensus Governing" in Action | Politics | Chicago Reader

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"Consensus Governing" in Action

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Hey kids! Want to be a City Hall reporter? Here's a handy template. It's based on a real recent meeting where the buildings committee considered an ordinance designed to crack down on the owners of abandoned properties, but it could just as well have been almost any committee reviewing any one of the dozens of legislative proposals introduced each month by the Daley administration. After the committee approves the proposed ordinance it goes on to the full council where it gets passed. See? File your copy today!

The City Council's ________ [NOUN] committee met ________ [ADVERB / DAY] to discuss a seemingly well-intentioned ordinance on ________ [NOUN] pushed by the Daley administration but disliked by just about everybody else affected, including _______ [NOUN], _______ [NOUN], and ______ [NOUN].

A big supporter of the measure, _________ [NAME], commissioner of the city's ______ [NAME] department, predicted that it would make communities safer. Several aldermen asked questions of the commissioner before stating for the record that they agreed with his/her assessment. "Commissioner, I'm not going to subject you to any questions. However, let me just ask you one question," said ________ [NAME], alderman of the _____ [ORDINAL NUMBER] ward. "I understand that __________ [UNIVERSAL TRUTH]. Isn't that dangerous?"

"We don't see it as an inherent danger," said the commissioner. The alderman appeared satisfied.

Alderman __________ [NAME] of the _____ [ORDINAL NUMBER] Ward had another critical point to make. "What I'm concerned about is the real city of Chicago," s/he said. "In the real neighborhoods of Chicago, we're facing a problem with _________ [HAZARD]. We have all these groups lobbying for a, b, and c, but I'm concerned with safety. What I'm concerned with can cause _____ [TYPE OF DISASTER], correct?"

The commissioner agreed. But not every alderman was as easily convinced. Occasional independent ________ [NAME], alderman of the ___ [ORDINAL NUMBER] Ward, offered his/her own suggestion. "In reality, we need something that actually works and something people can actually do," s/he said.

Others delved deep into the human psyche. "What if people don't do what they should?" wondered alderman ______ [NAME] of the ___ [ORDINAL NUMBER] Ward.

A parade of _______ [URBAN PROBLEM] advocates and representatives from the ________ [PROFITABLE BUSINESS] industry expressed their own concerns about the ordinance, arguing that it would both hurt the poor and stifle development.

Perhaps the bluntest assessment came from ___ [ORDINAL NUMBER] Ward alderman _____ [NAME], who often challenges Daley administration initiatives in committee meetings but rarely votes against them. "The issue we're dealing with here has been around a long time," s/he noted. "We often wonder when sometimes we pass something, 'How did we get that on the books?' after we read it. We have a crisis and then we as legislators, we overreact. We go to extremes."

The ordinance passed unanimously and will ______ [ADVERB THAT MEANS "CERTAINLY"] be passed by the full council at next week's meeting. —Mick Dumke

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