On Wednesday, Ward Room reported on the formation of the Progressive Reform Caucus, made up of nine aldermen with records of defying Mayor Rahm Emanuel. It already has competition on the left wing of the City Council: the Paul Douglas Alliance. Named after the liberal Hyde Park alderman and University of Chicago economics professor who went on to become a U.S. senator, the alliance’s 10 members mostly represent lakefront wards, and seem more interested in cooperating with the mayor than the contrarians in the Progressive Reform Caucus. Because of that, it’s already been nicknamed the Not-So-Progressive Caucus.
Here’s the group’s first press release:
A coalition of aldermen today called for City Council hearings to examine the possibility of extending the City's Inspector General's power to include oversight of the City Council. Under this cost-saving proposal, the office of Legislative Inspector General would be eliminated.
The resolution directs the City Council Committee on Committees, Rules, and Ethics to hold hearings to expand the jurisdiction of the Office of the Inspector General to include oversight of the City Council and its employees and eliminate the Office of the Legislative Inspector. Other major cities have one Inspector General’s office empowered to look at every level of city government.
“The Office of Inspector General is charged with fighting waste and investigating personal misconduct.” said Alderman Will Burns. “By expanding their duties to include oversight of the City Council, the people of Chicago will have an Inspector General who can look at all areas of city government including the City Council.”
“With two separate Inspectors General, its limits the abilities of the offices to look at the Chicago from top to bottom.” said Alderman Joe Moore. “To fully protect the people of Chicago, we need an Inspector General answerable to the people not the City Council.”
The resolution is the first measure introduced by the "Paul Douglas Alliance," a coalition of aldermen committed to progressive ideals and pragmatic policy solutions.
The members of the Paul Douglas Alliance share a set of progressive values and ideals, they will take a non-dogmatic, pragmatic approach to achieving those values and ideals because they want results.
The Paul Douglas Alliance is far less interested in glorious defeats than they are in addressing the concrete problems and challenges that our city faces.
To that end, they will introduce legislative proposals for the purpose of enacting progressive changes in law and policy.
The alliance was inspired by the example of former Alderman and US Senator Paul Douglas, who achieved remarkable legislative success in the areas of civil rights, the environment and consumer protection through a combination progressive values and political pragmatism.
The founding members are:
Proco “Joe” Moreno, 1st Ward
Pat Dowell, 3rd Ward
Will Burns, 4th Ward
Rey Colón, 35th Ward
Brendan Reilly, 42nd Ward
Michele Smith, 43rd Ward
James Cappleman, 46th Ward
Ameya Pawar, 47th Ward
Harry Osterman, 48th Ward
Joe Moore, 49th Ward
The citizens of Chicago can reach the Paul Douglas Alliance at firstname.lastname@example.org
The Paul Douglas Alliance continues to reach out to other alderman who share their values and encourage them to join the alliance.
The only alderman who belongs to both groups is the 47th Ward’s Ameya Pawar.
On Wednesday night, Carol Marin hosted members of both caucuses on Chicago Tonight, and asked whether the Paul Douglas Alliance was a front for Mayor Rahm Emanuel. Ald. Joe Moore, who has cooperated far more with Emanuel than he did with Richard M. Daley, said it’s not. Reported Progress Illinois
"That's the mistake right there," said Moore. "We are all progressives. I happen to believe that this mayor has shown an ability to listen and to communicate and to adopt some of our ideas. And as long as that goes on, I don't feel like we have to be at war with him."
Waguespack said his coalition was not at war with the mayor nor was it an "anti-mayor progressive" group. He said the group has worked with the mayor on a number of issues, like successfully reversing the mayor's shortening of Chicago Public Library branch hours and the associated layoffs.
Nonetheless, it appears that Emanuel’s opposition is divided: a good position for any leader to be in.