Study Shows Emanuel Enjoys Rubber Stamp City Council Just Like Daley Did

By Chuck Sudo in News on Apr 9, 2013 7:00PM

How quickly we forget the rumblings of City Council, proclaiming any mayor who would follow Richard M. Daley wouldn’t find the road so smooth to travel once he was sworn in. Rahm Emanuel even relished working hand-in-hand with aldermen to solve Chicago’s problems. Remember what Emanuel said of the City Council after he was elected two years ago? Let’s refresh your memories.

“They cannot be a rubber stamp. That’s unacceptable. The challenges are too big. They can’t be what they were in the last few years. They don’t want it. The city doesn’t want it. ... I was a former legislator. I don’t want it."

One month away from the second anniversary of Emanuel’s inauguration and City Council appears to be as much of a rubber stamp as ever. Most of us didn’t need a study to know this, but that's what the results of at study by University of Illinois at Chicago political science professor Dick Simpson. Simpson analyzed Council votes in Emanuel’s first two years in office versus Daley’s first two years and found “21 aldermen voted to support Mayor Emanuel's position 100% of the time and 18 aldermen voted with him over 90% of the time.”

We even took a screen grab of the comparisons for you.

2013_4_9_citycouncilvotingchart.jpg

A shocker, we know.

According to the study, the reason for this is because Emanuel is a consensus builder.

"Aldermen claim that they voted more often with the mayor because Mayor Emanuel was more willing to compromise with them than Mayor Daley had been. When aldermen pushed back on cuts to staff and library service hours in the 2012 budget battles, the mayor agreed to reduce the cuts. Or when the rules for NATO Summit protests were too draconian and aldermen objected, the mayor made the rules less restrictive. So some aldermen argue that they vote with the mayor more often because they are able to work out compromises behind the scenes.

"Yet, in two years since the mayor and the city council were sworn in, there have been only 30 divided roll call votes. The number remains at about the same level as under Mayor Daley at about two a month. Historically, the number of divided roll call votes has ranged between 50-100 a year and peaked at 387 divided votes during Mayor Eugene Sawyer’s two years in office during the chaos that which followed Council Wars from 1987 - 1989."

The study shows overwhelming support for Emanuel on what are known as "divided roll call" votes. (Keep in mind: It only takes one dissenting alderman to reach a divided roll call.)

"The average level of support for Mayor Emanuel was 93% on all divided roll call votes, an increase from the overwhelming 88% Richard M. Daley enjoyed in his last term. It was also greater than the 83% achieved by Richard J. Daley in his first two years in office, 1955-56, or the 85% support the 'Boss' received in 1971-72. Emanuel even topped Mayor Edward J. Kelly's 88% support earned in 1939-40."

What Simpson's study mainly shows is, outside of the "Council Wars" era, City Council has largely been in lockstep with the mayor for decades, so long as the boats aren't rocked. How's that ethics reform going?

Continuing The Rubber Stamp City Council