Chicago was designed as a weak mayor, strong council form of government. Is there a power imbalance between Mayor Daley and the City Council? On which issues should the mayor lead? On which should the council lead?
The overall Chicago City Council voting record, which is available through the office of the City Clerk, clearly evidences the fact that Chicago Aldermen vote in favor of major legislation, proposed by the Mayor, ninety-two percent of the time.
According to a 2008 University of Illinois at Chicago Department of Political Science and Developing Government Accountability to the People (DGAP) report, “There have been only thirteen divided roll call votes in the first eleven months, averaging 1.2 divided votes per month similar to approximately 1.8 per month during the last eleven months before the new council was elected in 2007.” The numbers are relatively the same in 2010.
It has often been expressed that the City Council is nothing but a Rubber Stamp for Mayor Daley. Many of the Daley proposed and City Council approved ordinances have fleeced the public. For example, the nonsensical 75 year Parking Meter lease deal which, on its face, was fatally flawed. Daley hastily provided it to the Aldermen and all but five of them voted to pass it two days later.
With the advent of technology, the city of Chicago has developed a sophisticated, computerized, 311 system which effectively interacts with the public and addresses their concerns. Thus, residents rarely phone their alderman with requests for information or to request routine city services. Aldermen no longer handle the bulk of resident complaints. Walls said “Many city services like street sweeping garbage pickup and some non emergency police services could be more effectively and efficiently performed on a grid system basis.
Chicago is in need of serious reform. More and more concerned citizens are asking, “Why are we paying fifty Aldermen $110 Thousand Dollars a Year to simply vote Aye?”
In light of the foregoing, I propose we use our home rule powers and cut the City Council by fifty percent (50%) over a period of five years. That action would streamline our city government, which is growing out of control, and save taxpayers billions of dollars. This strategic reduction can be accomplished through a combination of attrition scheduled mergers and remapping
Apparently, the majority of our Aldermen are not independent thinkers who vote to protect the interest of residents of their Ward. Therefore, As Mayor, I will encourage the City Council to be more deliberative without being obstructionist.
The Mayor should lead on issues pertaining to the overall development of policy affecting the entire city. The Aldermen should take the lead on matters that can be implemented on a ward by ward basis.