Ald. Dick Mell Retiring; Daughter, State Rep. Deb Mell, Expected To Replace Him [UPDATE]
By Chuck Sudo in News on Jan 4, 2013 2:55PM
One of City Council’s most colorful members is calling it a day. The Sun-Times reports Ald. Dick Mell (33rd) will be retiring after 38 years. Mell, chair of the Rules and Ethics Committee, has been threatening retirement for years since he had triple heart bypass surgery in November 2000. This time sources tell the Sun-Times he’s sticking to his (hopefully registered) guns. The 75-year-old Mell has been urging Mayor Rahm Emanuel to appoint his daughter, state Rep. Deb Mell, to fill his seat.
Mell is the second-longest serving alderman and was a member of the Vrdolyak 29 during the “Council Wars” years, but offered to work with Mayor Harold Washington when he was re-elected in 1986. Chicago political wonks will remember Mell standing atop a desk and shouting to be recognized during the tense debate over who would succeed Washington after his 1987 death.
At one point Mell placed his backing behind his brash son-in-law, Rod Blagojevich, helping him get elected to the Illinois State Legislature, Congress and, in 2002, as Governor. The two had a falling out in 2005 after Blagojevich shut down a landfill owned by friend of Mell Frank Schmidt, charging that Schmidt had accepted construction debris without a permit and accused him of “using his ties to the Blagjoevich family to solicit” business for an illegal-dumping operation. Mell accused Blagojevich of trumping up charges against Schmidt to draw attention away from Blagojevich’s top fundraisers and their practice of soliciting campaign contributions in exchange for political appointments.
In recent years Mell has laid low, except for when he failed to re-register his gun collection per the city's gun control law he helped draft and wondered aloud if maybe Chicago bicyclists should be licensed.
"How many of us read the stuff we do get, OK?," Mell said. "I try to. I try to. I try to. But being realistic, being realistic, it's like getting your insurance policy. It's small print, OK?"
The Sun-Times put together an infographic containing more of Mell’s choicest quotes. Regardless of what one thinks of the man, City Council is losing one of its more colorful characters.
Update 2:45 p.m.: Mell denied the Sun-Times story in an exclusive interview to ABC 7.