Mayor Rahm Emanuel pointed to his clock and knocked his gavel for the first time at 9:59 a.m. Wednesday, ushering in a new era at Chicago's City Council.
Emanuel arrived 30 minutes early for his first council meeting and spent the time shaking hands with various aldermen, causing a mini-media panic as everyone jockeyed for a camera shot or sound bite.
"You can't expect changes in one day," said Ald. Sandi Jackson (7th Ward), but she's hopeful. New Ald. Roderick Sawyer (6th Ward) says he's anxious to get to work.
During the two-hour meeting filled mostly with pageantry and welcoming of new aldermen, new council committees and chairmen were approved, including Ald. Edward Burke (14th Ward) as chairman of the Finance Committee and Ald. Patrick O’Connor (40th Ward) as chairman of the new Workforce Development and Audit Committee.
Chicago's new mayor began his term with well wishes from powerful Ald. Ed Burke and a gift from the council.
"This truly is the beginning of a new era in Chicago," Burke said. "In keeping with that, Mr. President, welcome. ... God Bless and good luck."
Burke presented Emanuel with a custom gavel wrapped in bronze and a placard inscribed with: May 16, 2011 presented to Rahm Emanuel on the day of his inauguration as the 46th mayor of Chicago.
Emanuel then addressed the council for the first time, repeating his mantra of working together and being honest with each other to get things done.
"This is America's city," he said. "This is Chicago, the place that we all call home."
As he finished, the council gave him a standing ovation, and Emanuel walked through the chambers shaking hands. The first order of business was the appointment of Garry McCarthy, which was referred to committee.
Another order of business: No former aldermen convicted of a felony will be allowed in council chambers. That means former Ald. Isaac Carothers, Ambrosio Medrano, Arenda Troutman and Cliff Kelley will no longer be allowed "in the bar of the City Council chamber." Former aldermen used to be allowed floor privileges.
Emanuel said after the meeting the new rule came from one-on-one meetings he had with aldermen, though some say it's tied to a beef between Ald. Danny Solis and former Ald. Medrano.
While talking with local media, Emanuel touched on a range of topics. He said there's no way he's pushing back on moving more cops to the streets and wants school reforms signed quickly so a longer school day can perhaps be put in place by fall.
And in case you're wondering, Emanuel joked that he stood during the entire council meeting, so "you could get a good look at me."