There’s an extra item on the agenda of this morning’s last minute City Council meeting on affordable housing. Last week 14th Ward alderman Ed Burke–he of the trans fat ban–announced his intention to introduce a parliamentary maneuver that will rescue the repeal of the fois gras ordinance from the Health Committee, where it’s been gathering dust for months, and bring it before a full vote of the council.

A few weeks ago a council member on the Health Committee told me that when Joe Moore’s initial foie gras ban was before the council, aldermen were besieged by calls from activists–not necessarily Chicago residents–urging them to pass it. This weekend Moore mustered his troops, sending out the e-mail below urging his followers to call the mayor and Burke in protest. Note the qualifier “If you live in Chicago,” indicating those on Moore’s mailing list aren’t necessarily Chicagoans, let alone residents of the 49th Ward.

“Dear Friend,

“I got word late yesterday that Chicago Alderman Edward Burke has announced his intention to call for a *City Council vote on to repeal Chicago’s ban on the sale of foie gras.*  The vote is scheduled to take place early Monday morning.

“As you may recall, Aldermen Bernard Stone and Burton Natarus introduced an ordinance a few months ago to repeal Chicago’s historic ban on the sale of foie gras, which passed the City Council last year.  The ordinance was referred to the City Council Committee on Health, chaired by Alderman Ed Smith.  Alderman Smith has been a staunch supporter of the foie gras ban and has so far refused to hold a hearing on the repeal ordinance. Alderman Burke confirmed that either he or a colleague may invoke a little-used City Council rule that permits an alderman to move to “discharge” from committee any proposed ordinance that has been in a City Council committee for more that sixty days.  To be successful, a motion to discharge a matter from committee requires the support of a majority of those voting on the issue.  If the motion is successful, the matter is brought to the floor of the City Council for a debate and vote.  To become law, the repeal must obtain 26 votes, i.e., a majority of the City Council.

“Mayor Daley’s former chief-of-staff, Sheila O’Grady, just became the new Executive Director of the Illinois Restaurant Association and is pushing to have a vote taken on the foie gras ordinance before the new City Counciltakes over next week.  She likely has Mayor Daley’s support.

“Alderman Ed Smith informed me he will strongly oppose any attempt to discharge the foie gras repeal ordinance from his committee.  Alderman Stone, one of the co-sponsors of the repeal, also told me he will oppose the motion to discharge.   As I indicated, a motion to discharge a matter from committee over the strong objections of the committee chair is almost unheard of.  Alderman Smith is well-respected among his colleagues, and it is likely that a majority of the City Council will oppose the motion to discharge out of respect for Alderman Smith.

“Nevertheless, we can’t take anything for granted.  *We need to flood Mayor Daley, Alderman Ed Burke and other members of the City Council with calls opposing any effort to repeal the foie gras ban.*  The City Council meeting begins 8:30 Monday morning, so you need to call this weekend.

“Call Mayor Daley at 312-744-5000.

“Call Alderman Ed Burke at 773-471-1414.

“If you live in Chicago, also *call your Alderman’s neighborhood office.*

“Finally, if you are able to do so, please attend the City Council meeting on Monday at 8:30 a.m.

“Please pass this e-mail on to others who may be interested in defeating thisattempt to roll back the progress we have made.

“I will continue to keep you informed.

“Thanks for your continued support.

“Alderman Joe Moore”