Ald. Richard Mell (33rd), chairman of the City Council’s Rules Committee, nearly came to blows with Budget Committee Chairman Carrie Austin (34th). In language laced with profanity, sources said Austin accused Mell of being a racist and treating African-American aldermen like plantation n-----s.It appears Mayor Emanuel is still staying out of this process and was quoted:
A police officer was summoned to the third-floor to restore order. At one point, Ald. Pat O’Connor (40th), Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s City Council floor leader, urged Mell to back off because he was exacerbating racial tensions. O’Connor has since played a more pivotal role in the negotiations.
Although O’Connor’s presence has had a “calming” effect, it’s still a “very fragile situation,” according to Ald. Howard Brookins (21st), chairman of the Council’s Black Caucus.
“The danger is racial tensions between blacks, Hispanics and, potentially, whites because of who is involved — [Ald. Edward M.] Burke and Mell, who were seen as obstacles to Harold Washington,” Brookins said, recalling the 1980s power struggle known as Council Wars.
He added, “Mell and Burke represent Hispanic wards. We figured that out pretty quickly in the process — which is why it helped that Pat O’Connor came into the room.”
Emanuel, who has steered clear of the process, said the cost of a political stalemate is a “disciplinary fact” that will push aldermen toward a resolution.We do want the city to succeed Mayor, so many of us support you on that. But there are many residents in the 6th Ward and other neighborhoods around the city that are anxious to see who will represent them. I too hope that these negotiations amongst the Aldermen are successful. Let's also hope the people will largely be happy about the results!
“All the aldermen know the importance of finding an agreement. None of ’em want this to spill out in a way that harms the city’s future and it won’t. I have all the confidence it won’t. We won’t incur costs that we don’t need to, and we won’t allow an image” of the city to be dragged down, the mayor said.
“Right now, the city is seen — around the county and to itself — as a city on the move beginning to tackle its challenges … I’m absolutely confident aldermen will achieve this goal because they know the consequences otherwise. It’s not a very good one.”