Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Emanuel unveils plan for City Council leadership

Clout Street:
Under the new structure outlined today by Emanuel, Burke would remain chairman of the Finance Committee. But Ald. Patrick O’Connor, 40th, Emanuel's chief council ally, would become chairman of the new Workforce Development and Audit Committee.

O’Connor’s committee would be stacked with the council’s most powerful aldermen, including Burke and Ald. Richard Mell, 33rd. And it would handle some of the significant legislation now funneled through Burke’s committee.

Exactly how influential the new committee will be will depend on the new committee rules and the amount each gets to spend each year, details that have yet to be revealed.

Emanuel announced the proposed committee structure after O’Connor worked through the weekend to line up a majority of signatures needed to win their approval at next week's council meeting. Burke was involved in the discussions.

While only the council has the authority to determine its leadership, Chicago’s mayors have often played a significant role in committee selection.
Some local Alderman on this part of town are slated to have committee chairs and other important positions. Ald. Michelle Harris (8th) will be president pro tempore. She'll preside over the city council whenever the Mayor is unable to. And Ald. Anthony Beale (9th) will be head of the city council's transportation committee.

BTW, the press have wanted to play up conflict between Mayor-elect Emanuel and Ald. Burke. Ward Room seeks to explain what the reorganization of committees would mean in terms of Ald. Burke:
Emanuel plans to take away some of that [Burke's] power, by creating a new Committee on Workforce Development and Audit, which will handle some of the big legislation that now passes through Burke’s Finance Committee. Mayor Emanuel did fulfill his promise to cut the number of committees, but not before creating a new one with a nonsensical name, mainly to prevent Burke from holding up any of his pet initiatives.

“The intent is not to dilute his power,” 40th Ward Ald. Patrick O’Connor, an Emanuel ally who has served as mediator between the two biggest egos in City Hall,told the Sun-Times. “It’s not about power and this committee vs. that committee. It’s about making the committee structure make sense and having the ability to respond to today’s challenges.”
UPDATE 11:01 PM Here's more provided by the Sun-Times. Also note that 17th Ward Ald. Latasha Thomas will herself head one of the 16 city council standing committees. Ald. Thomas also had won a run-off election last month:
The line-up also includes: Budget Committee Chairman Carrie Austin (34th); Education Committee Chairman Latasha Thomas (17th); License and Consumer Protection Committee Chairman Emma Mitts (37th); Special Events Committee Chairman Walter Burnett (27th); Traffic Committee Chairman Marge Laurino (39th); Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Anthony Beale (9th); Zoning Committee Chairman Danny Solis (25th); and Rules Committee Chairman Richard Mell (33rd).

Of the 16 Council committees, five will be chaired by African-Americans, a loss of one. Seven committees will be chaired by white aldermen, down from eleven currently. The number of Hispanic committee chairmen will go from two to three.

We may not see the Second Council Wars, but will Emanuel's time as Mayor of Chicago see conflict with one of Chicago's most powerful Alderman.

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