The Chicago City Council swept through its meeting last week in less than an hour, but Mayor Daley still managed to get in a plug for his controversial closing of Meigs Field to create a park on Northerly Island.

Daley saw his chance after Alderman Joseph Moore introduced a resolution urging President Clinton and Congress to charge fair market value for timber, mineral, grazing, and recreational rights in national parks and on other federal land.

Alderman Burton Natarus rose to support Moore’s resolution: “We really have to watch this situation about our national parks,” said Natarus. “I know Alderman Mell, who brags about the fact that he’s been in all 50 states, has probably been in every national park. Isn’t that right, Alderman Mell?”

Alderman Richard Mell has been known, after returning from wilderness vacations, to spend a surprising amount of time during council meetings showing his snapshots to just about everybody. But at this particular moment, he was busy chatting with aldermen Margaret Laurino and Michael Wojcik and couldn’t be bothered with paying attention to the proceedings. He didn’t respond.

“You’ve been in every–Alderman Mell, isn’t it true you’ve been in every national park in the United States?” Natarus tried again.

Mell grudgingly stopped chatting and answered, “West of the Mississippi.”

“He’s going to Northerly Island next week!” quipped Mayor Daley, adding a long guffaw that sounded something like, “Hahahahahahaha. OK. Hahahahahaha.”

–Cate Plys