Monday, February 11, 2019

"Weak" Mayor #ChiMayor19

Found this incorrect statement from the student newspaper of the University of Chicago.
Chicago operates under a strong mayor-council system, meaning that more power is concentrated in the hands of the mayor rather than in the City Council.
Technically speaking Chicago has a weak mayor system where the Chicago City Council largely prevails, however, starting with Mayor Richard J. Daley and through some of the later mayors such as Harold Washington, Richard M. Daley and even Rahm Emanuel. Mayors in recent times have wielded some significant power which has led to this Tribune Editorial.
But that’s not how it works. The little mayors strut about town but turn docile when they enter City Hall. Too many of them are accustomed to taking orders on how to vote — and pleading for favors in return — from the mayor’s office. A report this month from the University of Illinois at Chicago’s political science department that analyzes aldermanic voting behavior found that Mayor Rahm Emanuel has enjoyed a more rubber-stamp City Council than Mayor Richard J. Daley and Mayor Richard M. Daley had. That’s right, the current council is even more rubbery — more pliable — than under the Daleys. Keep reading for the names of Chicago’s most obedient aldermen.
As far as Chicago by city charter having a strong council/weak mayor system:
It sounds like a punchline, but Chicago, by charter, actually has a “weak-mayor” system. That means that most of the power is vested in the city council — or, you know, is supposed to be.

In reality, however, everyone knows that Chicago’s mayor is anything but weak, and traditionally is considered one of — if not the most — powerful municipal chief executives in the nation. A big reason for that? Unlike most other cities with weak-mayor systems, Chicago’s boss has the power to draw up the budget.
Finally two articles that argue that the next mayor of Chicago could be a "weak mayor"

Let's start with Slate:
It’s about to evolve a lot faster. The optimistic take on the shift to a weak mayor is that it means less power for the monied interests who dominated the meeting schedule at Emanuel’s City Hall, more power for neighborhood organizations and unions, and an opportunity for coalition building across the city’s major aldermanic caucuses. Fifty years of the status quo yielded one of the nation’s most infamously corrupt local governments, so why not shake things up?

The pessimistic take is that the loss of a strong mayor will render the city incapable of confronting the elephant in the room: debt. Despite Emanuel’s best efforts to cut costs and raise revenue, the city and the school district both have serious fiscal problems. (The Chicago Public Schools credit is so bad that it issued bonds in 2016 with an insane 8.5 percent interest rate.) Other, overlapping entities—such as Cook County and the Chicago Parks District—also aren’t in great shape. (To say nothing of the state of Illinois, whose problems are notorious.) Not all of those interests are under mayoral control, of course. Still, all of them need to raise money from the same group of 2.7 million people. Coordinating between them was a tough balancing act for a strong mayor. It will be even harder for a weak one.
And then Chicago mag:
Dick Simpson, a political science professor at the University of Illinois-Chicago, was an independent alderman during Richard J. Daley’s reign. Last week, Simpson wrote in an op-ed for the Tribune: “[W]ith a new mayor, it is especially important that the City Council no longer operate as a rubber stamp to the mayor’s wishes. It is time for the council to be a legitimate legislature, initiating its own proposals and holding the new mayor accountable.”

We may get a City Council that demands that kind of authority — or at least, more of a Council than we now have. The body’s Progressive Caucus, a group of independent aldermen which now numbers about a dozen members and includes Scott Waguespack and Carlos Ramirez-Rosa, is certain to grow after the next election.

At the same time, old machine warhorses such as Margaret Laurino, Pat O’Connor, and Ed Burke are retiring or facing serious challenges. And voters radicalized by the Trump presidency are looking for candidates who share their anger and passions.

The City Council “can take as much [power] as they’ve got the votes to take,” Simpson told Chicago. “They’re already starting to get a better handle on finances and the budget, although there are still fewer than 10 aldermen who can read the budget.”

The relationship will also depend on the next mayor, Simpson said. “If the mayor was weak, they’d be able to bargain with the mayor.”
The coming election with many mayoral candidates will be very interesting. No one has emerged in my opinion however time will tell who might either win outright on February 26, 2019 or who might draw the run-off that would be contested in April 2019

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