The Barack Obama resolution came up to City Council’s Ordinances and Resolutions Committee on which I sit. I had threatened to bring 100 amendments to Council to shut things down if the resolution made head way.
Well, last week, in an unguarded moment I said something very intemperate regarding Justice David Souter. I should not have said it, but I did. I’m not going to run from it. I certainly do hold the man in high disdain, but could certainly have been even more creative than I was to use profanity.
In any event, local Democratic activists who tend to dislike me for things like blocking tax increases and voting against museum funding saw their chance. For opposing the Obama resolution (or so one reporter told me that’s why the activists were so eager), they pushed the local media to do a story on my remarks.
So when I got to Council tonight, I was rather tired of being the spectacle du jour. It was clear that the legislation did not have a majority vote, but my motion to table the resolution failed 4 to 4. I understood one of those who voted against tabling would vote for it.
We moved into discussion. Now this is important: it was clear that there would be a 5 to 3 vote against the resolution, but that meant the resolution could still be brought to the floor by a motion to disagree with the committee — it would not render it totally dead.
As a result, the sponsor of the legislation got to speak. She explained why she wanted to do it, but at the end of her speech, she attacked me directly and dragged out my comments on Souter, effectively daring me to make a stink about the Obama resolution.
So I took her dare.
The original resolution was to make Obama an honorary member of Council. Elaine Lucas, the sponsor, agreed to an amendment to strip that out as well as some of the other language like Obama having “unimpeachable integrity.” But the people who supported the resolution weren’t on the committee and couldn’t make the motion to amendment.
Before someone could do so, I got the floor and pulled out 101 amendments to the resolution. Elaine Lucas was livid as were the activists in the room who’d drummed up the news story about me. One of the committee members threw his hands up and left.
Because I am on the committee and committees cannot cut off discussion by committee members, the floor was mine to being going through all 101 amendments, including such gems as inserting the following Whereas clauses:
“WHEREAS, we appreciate Barack Obama’s candidness in his autobiography admitting that he had snorted cocaine”
“WHEREAS, Barack Obama has set an example for us all by bravely keeping his money invested in the United States despite calls for him to help his brother out of the slums and poverty of Kenya”
“WHEREAS, we hold no ill will with regard to Barack Obama being the only member of the Illinois State Senate to speak in favor of infanticide during his tenure there”
“WHEREAS, prior to entering elected office, Barack Obama started his political fundraising efforts in the living room of noted domestic terrorist Bill Ayers, a man who planned to kill numerous American policemen.”
When it became clear we were going to be there all night, the committee voted unanimously to table the resolution and, with it, all my amendments. It takes 5 votes. To get the resolution back, 5 of the people who voted to table will have to change their minds. It is effectively dead.
The funny part of this is that had Elaine Lucas not attacked me personally, I’d have kept those resolutions in my computer bag. Likewise, a couple members of the committee who had voted not to table changed their minds not just because of my delaying tactics, but because Elaine decided to go on the hate rampage and they wanted no part of it.
A victory for common sense after a long day.