The Moore Report

Ald. Joe Moore just sent out this e-mail report on Wednesday’s foie gras fiasco.

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Alderman Moore’s Report on Wednesday’s City Council Meeting

Dear Neighbor,

Recent City Council meetings have been rather unremarkable, and so I generally wait a few days, or even a few weeks, before I issue you a report on the goings-on at Council. Last Wednesday’s meeting was an exception, however, and the events that unfolded should be of profound concern to those who believe in good and open government.

Perhaps you saw the TV coverage or read in the newspaper that Mayor Daley and one of his City Council allies rushed through a repeal of the ban on the sale of foie gras in Chicago’s restaurants with no public input and no City Council debate. You may have supported the ban as an important statement against egregious animal cruelty, or foie gras may be one of your favorite foods – but in either case, I hope you are as troubled as I am about the sad state of democracy in Chicago’s City Council.

How should the legislative process work? Laws to be passed (or repealed) move through committee hearings first before progressing to the Council floor for a vote. The committee hearings are where the voices of average citizens can be heard. Anyone can testify on any piece of legislation.

The committee hearings also provide aldermen with a opportunity to learn more about proposed legislation, to debate among themselves, and to amend the legislation as result of the public input and debate. Then at the Council meeting itself, there is another chance for debate before the matter is brought to a vote.

The initial foie gras ban was passed only after a great deal of public input and discussion among the aldermen. But not so in this case. Instead, 44th Ward Alderman Tom Tunney last year introduced an ordinance repealing the foie gras ban. He did so at the behest of the Illinois Restaurant Association, an organization he once chaired. The measure was sent to the City Council Rules Committee, where it sat for over a year.

Alderman Tunney never asked for a hearing on his repeal ordinance, even though the committee chair indicated he was willing to hold such a hearing, and none was ever held. Then yesterday in a surprise manuever, Alderman Tunney invoked a seldom used state law that permits an Alderman to move to “discharge” a matter from committee without a public hearing.

I attempted first to argue that we should hold the matter in committee for a public hearing, but the Mayor, who chairs the City Council meeting, ruled me out of order, without citing any legal authority for that ruling. I then demanded to be recognized so that I could debate the issue of the repeal, and the Mayor, in complete violation of City Council rules, simply chose to ignore me and demanded that the clerk proceed immediately to a roll call vote.

The entire incident was reminiscent of City Council meetings 40 years ago, when the Mayor’s father, Richard J. Daley, would turn off the microphones of dissenting aldermen. I was also disappointed in my fellow aldermen, who with a few notable exceptions, sat passively as the Mayor short-circuited the democratic process.

If this is the City Council of the future, we’re all in trouble. From the Children’s Museum to new property taxes to TIF’s, is this how future legislative decisions are going to be determined with no public input and no debate? Let us commit ourseves to a more decent, democratic vision.

Aside from the personal attacks and the distraction of the repeal, some City Council business was actually accomplished. For example, the Council passed an ordinance requiring the recycling of plastic shopping bags, which will go into effect in six months. The ordinance copied parts of a New York City law, but the final version fell short of its model.

In New York City, all stores larger than 5,000 square fee or part of a chain must set our bins for recycling and report on the results. But in Chicago, the ordinance is limited to grocery and drug stores, no matter the size.

The result? Any little corner grocery will have to find a way to recycle bags, while some of Chicago’s largest stores, from Office Depot to Best Buy to Macy’s, will be of the hook. I’m not only concerned about the loss of plastic bag recycling from the larger stores, but the extra burden this legislation will place on all the little groceries and bakeries in the 49th Ward and elsewhere.

Will the City seriously address the important issues of educating the public and store owners about the plastic bag recycling and oversight? There’s no question that disposable plastic bags waste natural resources (like petroleum) and create ugly litter, but Chicago’s ordinance is not necessarily the most effective solution. And unfortunately, other approaches, such as plastic bag bans, were not even considered.

I reluctantly voted in favor, but will revisit the ordinance and monitor its results as the law becomes operational.

The City Council will next meet on Wednesday, June 11th, when it is likely that the Council will consider the Mayor’s proposal to move the Children’s Museum to Grant Park. Just another boring meeting, I’m sure!

I will report on the results.

Sincerely,

Joe Moore

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6 responses to “The Moore Report

  1. Jim Corriere

    Alderman Moore has real character! You folks that overturned the on on foi gras without public debate are nothing short of Baathists! Jim, native Chicagoan but won’t claim so.

  2. Jim Corriere

    I erred in my writing. I meant to express the fact that overturning the BAN without debate is Baathist like!

  3. Unindicted Co-conspirator

    Boo hoo Joe, I’m crying over my foie gras on toaste pointes!
    Now you’re complaining about plastic bags!
    Can’t you think of something useful to do for your ward?
    Like reducing crime on Morse Ave.
    The Morse L stop is an outdoor drug store & the crime that goes along with that.
    Or how about all the crime up north of Howard St.
    Just remember one thing about Little Joey. A few years ago he ran for Circuit Court Clerk. He did that so he could follow in the footsteps of his mentor David Orr, the former 49 Ward aldercreature & now county clerk. As soon as Orr got the county job, he moved way out into the burbs, I think it’s Barrington Township. Little Joey would have abandoned Jarvis Ave. just as fast if he got the county job.
    Little Joey has no interest in the future of Rogers Park, just in the future of Joe Moore.
    In the immortal words of the late, great Mike Royko: Urbi est mea – where’s mine?

  4. This e-mail is a joke. The original ordinance banning foie was slipped into a larger bunch of legislation at the last minute. Most aldermen didn’t know they were voting on it. It was a sneaky scheme concocted by Moore and his animal rights extremist backers.

    This time, the repeal did bypass committee, it was presented as a single item before the vote. Despite Moore’s crybaby shouting throughout the vote, our Aldermen made it clear that they did NOT support this ban, voting 37-6 in support of the repeal. There wasn’t debate, because there didn’t need to be: the aldermen knew their position and put an end to this ridiculous ordinance.

    Moore needs to get over it. This was a poor piece of legislation that deserved to be overturned. Quit crying.

  5. AlphaBettor

    Unindicted, David Orr does not live in Barrington. I’ve seen him at Dominick’s at Clark and Howard. As a longtime 49th Ward resident, I’m proud to be represented by one of the few alderman with the cojones to stand up to Mayor Daley.

  6. I think a very important part of the story did not make it into his column on May 15. Please decide for yourself.

    Joe Moore sponsored the ban a bit more than two-and-a-half years ago, in the fall of 2005. He had been working with animal rights extremists for months before the introduction.

    The proposed ban was referred to the health committee, on which Joe sits. Hearings were held, in October 2005, and nothing was done. First days went by, then weeks, then months, and — no word from the health committee.

    Constant inquiries were made of the health committee by individual restaurants, the Illinois Restaurant Association, foie gras producers, avian scientists and others who were troubled by the proposed ban. All were told that an announcement would be made by the committee about when the measure would go to the floor of the City Council.

    The announcement never happened.

    Instead, at a meeting two years ago, I believe in June 2006, after a business session that covered a wide range of issues, the Mayor recognized an Alderman for the purpose of passing an “omnibus” measure — that is, a lengthy list of non-controversial items on which there was complete agreement.

    The foie gras ban was included in that omnibus.

    There had been no announcement. The ban was not identified. No one said, “Oh, and by the way, contrary to 170 years of practice, this week we have a controversial item tucked into the omnibus on which you are about to vote…”

    95 percent of the alderpeople had no idea they were voting on it. It came as a surprise.

    Unlike yesterday, the vote had not been in the news that morning.

    Unlike yesterday, opponents had not been informed that the vote was coming.

    Unlike yesterday, no alderman was out among his colleagues asking for votes, as Tom Tunney did.

    In the discussion after the vote several aldermen said they had never seen a controversial item slipped into an omnibus for a final vote by the council in their entire careers. I am not a historian of the City Council so I don’t know if that is true.

    But we all know that when Joe Moore was winning with a process that ignored public notice and normal practice he was happy as a clam. In fact, I appeared with him on Chicago Tonight, and he could not have cared less about deceiving his opponents. He was right proud of his little ploy.

    But now that his colleagues have repudiated both him and the issue which pre-occupied him for more than a year, while 49th Ward kids were struggled below state averages in achievement, he cloaks himself in due process, claiming offense at tyranny and bully tactics.

    That’s how Joe saw fit to pass his ban. So I am not surprised that the Mayor and his colleagues decided Joe needed an object lesson to learn that as one treats others, one may expect to be treated by them.

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