Mayor Richard M. Daley convened what is expected to be his last meeting with the Chicago City Council on Wednesday morning. Chicago Tonight caught up with former alderman and head of the University of Illinois at Chicago’s Political Science department about Daley’s history with the Council and some of his more memorable moments.
All disagreements were forgotten at Daley’s final meeting, when aldermen lined up to praise the mayor’s work over the past 22 years. Since his inauguration in 1989, Daley has had an iron grip on the Chicago City Council, marked by few Council votes against the ordinances he supported.
But no matter how many votes against his plans, Daley was largely undeterred by complaints. The destruction of Meigs Field—in the middle of the night, despite Council protests—is a major example of how Daley operated.
According to Simpson, approval for projects was typically assured from the Council.
“He made most of the changes on his own, but had the City Council rubber stamp his decisions by passing the ordinances, budgets, and bond issues necessary,” said Simpson.
Daley is recognized for his commitment to beautifying the city, control of the public school system and expansion of the Tax Increment Financing program. Simpson added the parking meter sale, the Olympic bid and Millennium Park to Daley’s biggest moments.
There were aldermen who tried to make things difficult for Daley, however. Simpson noted the Independent Caucus formed in 2008 by Ald. Joe Moore (49th), Ald. Ricardo Munoz (22nd) and Ald. Toni Preckwinkle (4th) among those on the Council who disagreed with the mayor. More recently, Ald. Robert Fioretti (2nd), Ald. Scott Waguespack (32nd) and Ald. Brendan Reilly (42nd) have opposed the mayor on key issues, said Simpson.
Among Daley’s supporters, Simpson said the mayor could count Ald. Ed Burke (14th), the Council’s most powerful member and chair of the finance committee.
As Daley leaves, can we expect mayor-elect Rahm Emanuel to have a similar hold on the Council?
Not likely, said Simpson.
“Rahm Emanuel would like to have a rubber stamp City Council to agree with him all the time, but he is likely to have to cede to the Council more power than Daley did,” he said.
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