Aldermen are showing more independence in the Chicago City Council and are less of a "rubber stamp" for Mayor Rahm Emanuel, finds a new study.
Experts at the University of Chicago's Political Science Department examined Chicago City Council roll call votes taken between June 2015 and April 2016 for the report. During that time period, there were 32 divided city council roll call votes. By comparison, there were a total of 67 divided roll call votes during Emanuel's entire first term as mayor, according to the study.
"The level of dissent in city council is growing and more aldermen are engaged in the tussle to shape legislation," said UIC political science professor and report lead author Dick Simpson. "It's still a rubber stamp city council but it's a weaker, less reliable rubber stamp than Emanuel had in his first four years in office."
The study comes after Emanuel was forced into a mayoral runoff election last year, pushed to implement a property tax hike to help shore up city pension funds and faced public backlash over his handling of the Laquan McDonald shooting video.
In Emanuel's first term, 37 aldermen, or 74 percent of the council, voted with the mayor at least 90 percent of the time. Now, only 28 aldermen, or 56 percent of the council, support him that frequently.
On the flip side, there are currently 13 aldermen who vote with the mayor less than 80 percent of the time, up from seven aldermen who did so during Emanuel's previous term.
"Because Mayor Emanuel has become politically weaker, aldermen are less willing to follow him blindly, especially on hard votes like raising taxes; and aldermen don't want to go against the clear wishes of their constituents," Simpson said. "Despite these problems, however, Mayor Emanuel has yet to lose a single vote nor has he had to use his veto in the city council. He has compromised on some proposals and stood aside on others, such as the Inspector General oversight of the city council."