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Chicago Election Season: The Rubber Stamp Effect

By: Mac-Z Zurawski

September 6, 2014

Chicago’s upcoming mayoral election season is rife with charades.  From candidates who toot reform to gangbangers asking for campaign money.  Watch out Chicago, the fakes and phonies are on the prowl.  But there are more than just bad candidates out there.  Bad information is also coming our way.  To the effect of the “rubber stamp” City Council campaign.  My definition of the rubber stamp is spreading the vote call of alderman who have almost always voted with our mayor.  It’s true that more than 32 alderman have voted with Mayor Rahm Emmanuel between 80 to 100% of the time. This is not the first time.  The same rubber stamping occurred when Daley was in office as well. It has been an ongoing problem throughout the great history of our city.  But it can be used in a deceiving manner. 

Know the vote

The rubber stamp propaganda doesn’t tell the whole story.  The ordinances voted upon are not mentioned, just the yea or nay.   If you supported the ordinances then you wouldn’t know from a simple rubber stamp article that your alderman abided by your vote.  It just gives a number for the vote with the current Mayor.  If you want to find out if your alderman voted for you, then you must check their entire vote call available on the City of Chicago website for your ward.  Don’t be misled that an alderman voted against progress in your ward until you have seen the whole story.  Very few average citizens even know what is on the Council floor.  Become that informed citizen before degrading the alderman in office. 


The “voted with Emmanuel” propaganda does not tell the whole story of how, when, where, who, why and what happened behind the chambers doors in the name of compromise.  When elected leaders are going to vote on something they usually fight over the wording and specifics of an ordinance.  From POTUS to the City Council, everyone must agree on a bill or ordinance.  There are months of collaborating and compromise that occurs when votes are called.  I know that this sounds simple but it is not.  There are ward and citizen surveys, financial analysis, background checks on the legality of proposed ordinances, etc, etc, etc.  I know we all saw that the parking meter vote was a scandal.  That was a wakeup call to our Council that they better check into the ordinance before going forward.  Find out if your alderman is a part of the many committees that decide on ordinances and their actions and contributions.  Don’t assume those aldermen don’t work.  Make a phone call, check their website, and educate yourself.

Candidates of Change

Many new candidates for alderman, like any political office, tout change.  They want to bring change, they will change this or that.  If rubber stamping has occurred in City Council for nearly 60 years then what change will be made?  If voting with the mayor is the norm in City Council what is going to change?  Not much.  The voting pattern of the alderman and mayor doesn’t change.  The compromise and work mentioned above will always occur.  They will always bend, break, mend and amend until there is a “like” vote.  A candidate that is propagandizing change based on they will vote differently, is not change.  It’s an educated and securely researched hypothesis that they don’t have change in them.  They just lack an issues based platform. 

Vote for a new candidate for alderman if you believe in the issues they represent.  Vote for them if they have experience with your ward.  Do they know the history of your ward?  How long have they lived there?  Are they carpetbaggers?  Are they educated in government?  Have previous work experience in government?  Remember you are hiring someone to vote for you.  Check your own “Angie’s List” on their background and customer quality analysis.  Don’t vote for someone because they don’t like the current alderman or mayor.  That’s not going to create change.  Make sure you look into the “rubber stamp effect” candidates.  They will eventually rubber stamp, too.


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