Cowardly Council Not Fighting City Hall

Rumbles not reform against Mayor Daley

Now that a handful of aldermen are actually voicing criticisms of the Daley administration, it's time for another spate of stories and speculation about the growing independence of the City Council during a time of mayoral weakness.

Don't believe it.

Sure, aldermen are calling for hearings on the parking meter mess, and on Tuesday a council committee took up a TIF sunshine ordinance.

But for 20 years reporters and critics have occasionally thought they've seen the glimmer of city council independence only to learn that instead they were seeing the reflection of Richard M. Daley sharpening his fangs. Burgeoning council independence is always wished-for, but never true.

Take the latest batch of "reformers."

"Halfway through their first term, the council's highly touted Class of 2007 has yet to usher in a new era of greater debate, as Daley continues to dominate Chicago politics," Dan Mihalopoulos writes in the Tribune this morning. "The aldermen have not rebuffed Daley on a single vote in this council session."

And they're not about to start now.

"Many of the first-term aldermen often find it easier to go along with the mayor, who controls what amenities go to which wards, unless they fear a community backlash on a particular issue," Mihalopolous writes.

So do veteran aldermen.

And as long as the mayor has control of ward services and isn't afraid to punish dissenters, the council won't change.

Chicago is a deal-making city, not a courageous one.

Steve Rhodes is the proprietor of The Beachwood Reporter, an award-winning Chicago-centric news and culture review.

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