Aldermen Look to Flex Muscle As Mayor's Approval Ratings Drop

Friday marked the first time the chairmen of three caucuses held a meeting together

It was just lunch. But on Friday, the heads of the Latino, Black, and Progressive Caucuses of the Chicago City Council sat down together at Petterino's, looking for ways to flex their muscle.

The meeting comes as Mayor Rahm Emanuel faces poor poll numbers, with a recent New York Times poll showing a 25 percent approval rating.

Friday's high-level meeting of Caucus Chairmen is the first of its kind, indicating that members are hoping to bring back the old days, when there was a strong council and a weak mayor. Not so fast.

If you add up the three caucuses, you get 32 of the 50 City Council members, but insiders believe one of the biggest challenges to their combined power is the internal struggles within each caucus. 

12th Ward Alderman George Cardenas leads the Latino Caucus, 6th Ward Alderman Roderick Sawyer chairs the Black Caucus, and 32nd Ward Alderman Scott Waugespack helms the Progressive Caucus.

However, each caucus rarely votes as a block. In the most recent example, aldermen in the Progressive Caucus cut side deals with Emanuel and voted as they wished on a tax hike proposal. The same can be said for both the Latino and Black Caucuses as well.

The bottom line is that while the mayor’s disapproval ratings are as low as ever, many of the aldermen are still fearful of standing on their own.

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