Ald. Edward Burke has been avoiding questions about how he’ll deal with Rahm Emanuel, but on Thursday, Fox Chicago’s redoubtable Mike Flannery caught Burke outside his City Hall office, and gave us a preview of what’s already looking like a prickly relationship.
Burke promised “there will be no Council Wars 2. You can put that in the bank and draw interest on it…I think that given the crises that Chicago is confronting right now, we don’t have the luxury of engaging in those kinds of divisive matters.”
Burke sent a congratulatory note to Emanuel, but if he wants to talk to the mayor-elect, he’ll have to get in line with all the other alderman, according a statement from the campaign.
“The mayor-elect received Ald. Burke’s note,” Emanuel spokesman Ben LaBolt said. “He’ll be reaching out to members of the city council in the days and weeks ahead to discuss how to tackle the challenges facing the city and the mayor.”
As for a battle for control of the City Council in the runoffs, Burke said he plans to spend some of his $8 million campaign fund in the 14 aldermanic elections which will be decided April 5. He also made it clear he’ll fight an attempt by Emanuel to take away his Finance Committee chairmanship.
“He actually doesn’t have a vote,” Burke pointed out to Flannery. “If 26 aldermen say I’m Finance Committee chair, I get to stay Finance Committee chair.”
Burke, an ally of organized labor, said he was pleased to hear that Emanuel told a group of firefighters that he won’t try to unilaterally reduce their retirement benefits. But that, too, is not the mayor’s prerogative. He’ll need permission from pro-union Gov. Pat Quinn.
“We don’t have any control over those issues in the City Council,” Burke said. “The only way those benefits are going to be altered or changed or reduced is with action by the General Assembly and signed by the governor.”
Chicago is in terrible financial shape, Burke said, so the public should get used to a less generous city government.
“I don’t think that the average citizen understands how bad a crisis Chicago is facing,” Burke said. “The citizens are going to have to understand that they can’t expect that the kind of city services and the level of city services are going to continue after all these years.”
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