PI Original Adam Doster Friday May 16th, 2008, 11:32am

Moore: Foie Gras Vote Reminiscent Of Daley Sr.

The Sun-Times' Fran Spielman called Mayor Daley's handling of the Chicago City Council's foie gras vote a "legislative end-run that set a new standard for violating protocol and rolling over the opposition." Via Division Street comes Ald. Joe Moore's (49th Ward) ...

The Sun-Times' Fran Spielman called Mayor Daley's handling of the Chicago City Council's foie gras vote a "legislative end-run that set a new standard for violating protocol and rolling over the opposition." Via Division Street comes Ald. Joe Moore's (49th Ward) response, in which he blasts the Daley administration, not on its opposition to the foie gras ban (which Moore sponsored) but on its strong-arm maneuvering during Wednesday's council meeting:

How should the legislative process work? Laws to be passed (or repealed) move through committee hearings first before progressing to the Council floor for a vote. The committee hearings are where the voices of average citizens can be heard. Anyone can testify on any piece of legislation.

The committee hearings also provide aldermen with a opportunity to learn more about proposed legislation, to debate among themselves, and to amend the legislation as result of the public input and debate. Then at the Council meeting itself, there is another chance for debate before the matter is brought to a vote.

The initial foie gras ban was passed only after a great deal of public input and discussion among the aldermen. But not so in this case. Instead, 44th Ward Alderman Tom Tunney last year introduced an ordinance repealing the foie gras ban. He did so at the behest of the Illinois Restaurant Association, an organization he once chaired. The measure was sent to the City Council Rules Committee, where it sat for over a year.

Alderman Tunney never asked for a hearing on his repeal ordinance, even though the committee chair indicated he was willing to hold such a hearing, and none was ever held. Then yesterday in a surprise maneuver, Alderman Tunney invoked a seldom used state law that permits an Alderman to move to “discharge” a matter from committee without a public hearing.

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I attempted first to argue that we should hold the matter in committee for a public hearing, but the Mayor, who chairs the City Council meeting, ruled me out of order, without citing any legal authority for that ruling. I then demanded to be recognized so that I could debate the issue of the repeal, and the Mayor, in complete violation of City Council rules, simply chose to ignore me and demanded that the clerk proceed immediately to a roll call vote.

The entire incident was reminiscent of City Council meetings 40 years ago, when the Mayor’s father, Richard J. Daley, would turn off the microphones of dissenting aldermen. I was also disappointed in my fellow aldermen, who with a few notable exceptions, sat passively as the Mayor short-circuited the democratic process.

If this is the City Council of the future, we’re all in trouble. From the Children’s Museum to new property taxes to TIF’s, is this how future legislative decisions are going to be determined with no public input and no debate? Let us commit ourseves to a more decent, democratic vision.

Daley defended the process, claiming that “we’ve [already] had so much debate on this—it’s gone on forever.” The Reader's Mick Dumke provides some context on Daley's sudden emphasis on time management that's worth a read.

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