What the Mayor Wants, the Mayor Gets

Did Mayor Rahm Emanuel overturn a time-honored aldermanic privilege in order to place a charter school on the Northwest Side?

The United Neighborhood Organization, a Latino community group, wanted to build a 576-student charter academy in the Galewood neighborhood, which lies in the 36th Ward. The ward’s alderman, freshman Nick Sposato, was originally opposed to school, citing community opposition. The Chicago Teachers Union didn’t want the school, either, calling it “a politically connected, unproven charter” that would “destabilize their higher performing neighborhood schools.”

Ordinarily, Sposato’s opposition would have been enough to kill the plan. The land required rezoning, and traditionally, an alderman’s zoning decisions are law.

But Ald. Danny Solis, an UNO founder and chairman of the Zoning Committee, announced he was call a vote on rezoning the property without Sposato’s input. Then he delayed the vote to give Sposato more time to make up his mind. It was only a face-saving gesture. By then, Sposato had gotten the idea that his mind had been made up for him, by Solis and the mayor. After meeting with the mayor, officials from the Chicago Public Schools and UNO leaders, Sposato now supports the school.

“They’re doing what we’ve asked them to do,” Sposato told the Tribune. “This was a really tough one to sort out. My mission is to do what the people want and what’s best for the community.”

Blogger Fred Klonsky sees Emanuel’s overruling of Sposato as another example of the mayor using “the children” as an excuse to arrogate more power to himself.

The UNO has become one of the largest charter groups in the city. And the Mayor wants more charters.

No longer can an alderman make a decision like he is some local king.

That’s good.

No that’s bad.

Now there is only one king and his name is Rahm. Even on local ward zoning changes.

That’s bad. 

Buy this book! Ward Room blogger Edward McClelland's book, Young Mr. Obama: Chicago and the Making of a Black President , is available Amazon. Young Mr. Obama includes reporting on President Obama's earliest days in the Windy City, covering how a presumptuous young man transformed himself into presidential material. Buy it now!

Contact Us