Rhetoric will soar. Lawyers will parse the statutes. Architects will wave blueprints and highlight their computer models.

It will be quite a show on June 5, when aldermen on the Zoning Committee finally get to not only debate but vote on Mayor Richard M. Daley’s plan to move the Chicago Children’s Museum to a now-quiet corner of Grant Park.

Though all the arguing and voting will take place in the ornate City Council chambers on the second floor of City Hall, I can think of a more apt venue: a sweaty old wrestling ring, like the ones they use on “SmackDown.”

Imagine Richie “the brawler” Daley slipping one of his patented eye gouges on “Slippery” Brendan Reilly, alderman of the 42nd Ward, as sundry goons, handlers and hysterical fans prepare to climb into the ring themselves. That’s really what it’s come to because, despite all the words, the battle over the Children’s Museum now amounts to one primal thing: power — who has it, who will use it and who will allow it to be taken away.

I have mixed feelings about power, which by nature is neither good nor evil, but just is.

In Chicago government, almost all of the power has been accumulated by the chief executive: the mayor. The alderfolk will revolt once in a great while — say, when organized labor is out to throw Wal-Mart out of the ring. But the mayor almost always gets his way, sometimes for good reason and sometimes because, well, because that’s the way it is.

There is one exception. By long-standing tradition, aldermen almost always get the final say on local building and zoning matters within their wards. The local alderman decides whether a given project flies or fails, and his or her colleagues abide by the decision in passing or not passing the appropriate zoning amendment.

Sometimes “aldermanic prerogative,” as it’s known, is good. At its best, it allows local residents to have a direct say when developers with dollar signs in their eyes roll in and don’t care much about who will be hurt in the process. At its worst, aldermanic prerogative allows an unscrupulous official to shake down anyone who wants to lay a brick in the ward; pony up to the alderman’s campaign committee or go away.

For good or bad, if Mr. Reilly’s colleagues desert him on the Children’s Museum fight, they will be giving up a healthy share of one of the few bits of power they really have vis a vis the mayor. To paraphrase Ben Franklin, if they don’t hang together, they surely will hang separately.