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Countdown to Rahmageddon: What About 25 Aldermen?

By Chuck Sudo in News on Mar 25, 2011 1:35PM

The Sun-Times reports today that Mayor-elect Emanuel has been floating the idea of a 25-member City Council to aldermen in private conversations. If Emanuel were looking pick fight with City Council and burnish his "Rahmformer" credentials in the process, that would probably be the most direct route to starting Council Wars II.

Some aldermen who spoke on condition of anonymity said they were shocked Emanuel would propose the subject. Others were more understanding, aware that, in the current political climate, voters are looking for reforms, whether it's tax increment financing, budgetary or ethics. Slicing the second largest city council in the nation in half would certainly qualify as a reform.

In a political climate where local governments are squeezing dollars until the eagles grin, the prospect of a streamlined City Council would be a money saver. Currently, Chicago taxpayers pay $24.5 million in tax dollars so City Council and their 19 standing committees can operate. The Better Government Association first broached this subject in December.

If Emanuel decides that reducing City Council is the way to go, he'll be in for a fight. He'll also have to run the idea through the Illinois General Assembly and voters in a binding referendum. But with the results of the 2010 Census just now coming out and possible ward redistricting as a result, the time would also be right for the idea to gain some traction.