Chicago may have a newer mayor but a new study shows voting with the mayor is now even more pronounced for Chicago aldermen:
After analyzing 30 divided roll calls in the nearly two years since Emanuel took office, University of Illinois at Chicago researchers concluded that Emanuel has enjoyed more iron-fisted control over the council than former mayors Richard M. Daley, Richard J. Daley or Ed Kelly, the Democratic machine co-founder.
Twenty-one aldermen supported the mayor’s programs 100 percent of the time, while 18 others were more than 90 percent in lock-step.
There have been no shortage of controversies — ranging from speed cameras, police station and mental health clinic closings to the mayor’s Infrastructure Trust and his plan to nearly double water and sewer fees.
But only seven of the 30 issues drew six or more dissenting votes. Emanuel’s average level of support on all of the divided roll calls was 93 percent, compared to 83 percent during Richard J. Daley’s first two years in office and Kelly’s 88 percent…
Pressed to explain the City Council’s obedience, Simpson pointed to the take-no-prisoners reputation Emanuel built while working under former President Bill Clinton and current President Barack Obama and as chief architect of the 2006 Democratic takeover of the U.S. House.
Still Chicago, “the city that works“?
One issue with this analysis is that is still leaves Chicago residents with little knowledge of whether these voting patterns are unusual or not. Do other major cities have more contentious voting patterns? Or, is this fairly normal for big cities outside of the occasional wide disagreement? There are always references to more contentious times in the history of the Chicago City Council (see the short-lived Council Wars) but how about even a long view within Chicago for sake of comparison? I imagine this consistent voting together is fairly unusual but once you are around Chicago long enough, this becomes normal.
And regardless of the voting patterns, how about more analysis about whether Mayor Emanuel’s decisions have been good for Chicago in the long-term? Some of this will take time to sort out…