Aldermen get defensive when they’re accused of being mayoral rubber stamps. But it’s a given around City Hall that the fate of most of the matters sent to them for “consideration” has been decided well beforehand. A few examples from the past two days alone:

Accurate prediction made by the chairman of a council committee to a reporter just before the committee began debate of a controversial ordinance:

“It’s going to pass.”

Exchange overheard in the hallway outside City Council chambers, minutes after a council committee unanimously approved the sale of some city property for $1 to a church:

CITY OFFICIAL TO CHURCH PASTOR: Now all we have left is the full City Council, and they’ll approve it at their meeting next week. You don’t have to come down here for it.


Statement to reporter by veteran alderman chatting up the prospects of a proposed ordinance before another committee:

“Well, the committee chairman is obviously in favor of it, and ordinarily if it gets through a committee it’ll be approved by the full council.”

Sample of aldermanic comments in the first few minutes of another committee meeting:

ALDERMAN A: I think this is great.

ALDERMAN B: I want to commend you. I think this is great.

ALDERMAN C: This is really a great project.

ALDERMAN D: I’d love a project like this in my ward.

ALDERMAN E: Why are we here?