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Mayor Emanuel Chairs First City Council Meeting

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Mayor Rahm Emanuel

Mayor Rahm Emanuel chairs his first City Council meeting. (Credit: CBS)

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UPDATED 05/18/11 1:45 p.m.

CHICAGO (CBS) – Mayor Rahm Emanuel is getting down to work with the City Council as he presided over his first meeting Wednesday.

Newsradio 780 Political Editor Craig Dellimore reports that the council got down to the business of streamlining government operations by reducing the number of council committees from 19 to 16.

That will save the city nearly a half a million dollars.

LISTEN: Newsradio 780 Political Editor Craig Dellimore Reports

New rules that would bar former aldermen convicted of felonies from lobbying around council chambers was also approved.

‘I think it’s a proper statement,” Emanuel said.

Ald. Ed Burke, who presented the new mayor with a new gavel to call the meeting to order, said it is now time to replace words with actions.

Burke quoted former U. S. House Speaker Tip O’Neil in saying, “It is easier to run for office than it is to go run the office.”

As CBS 2’s Susanna Song reports, several new aldermen took their seats in Council Chambers for the first time. The aldermen are pledging their cooperation with the new administration.

Emanuel appeared calm and composed Wednesday morning. He smiled often as he chatted with several aldermen in the antechamber before entering Council Chambers.

The meeting started right on time at 10 a.m., with a pound of the gavel by a new mayor for the first time in 22 years.

It was a full house, and all eyes were on Mayor Emanuel. There was a quick prayer by a rabbi, blessing the Council as the meeting got underway.

Thirteen aldermen are new to the Council, and aldermen both new and experienced said they are very eager to work with the new mayor.

“I expect to have a good relationship with Mayor Emanuel,” said Ald. Michele Smith (43rd), who was elected this year to represent the Lincoln Park neighborhood. “I ran because I believe it’s time to reform the city. I believe that my agenda is very much aligned with that of Mayor Emanuel.”

Veteran Ald. Danny Solis (25th) was asked about his impressions of Emanuel’s methods for dealing with the City Council, versus those of retired Mayor Richard M. Daley.

“I think there’s definitely a new energy. I mean, this is not knocking Mayor Daley; I think he was an experienced visionary, passionate about this city. But I think this is a different perspective, and I’m excited about being part of it,” Solis said.

“All of the aldermen are focused on working as a partnership with the mayor,” said Ald. James Cappleman (46th), elected this year to represent the Uptown neighborhood. “This is really tough times. We can’t play games. We have to move forward.”

The main item on the agenda Wednesday is to approve Council committees and their chairmen. Emanuel and aldermen could also introduce new ordinances.

Emanuel also expected to seek confirmation of his appointments, including the police Supt. Garry McCarthy.

Emanuel has already hit the ground running. On Tuesday, his first full day as mayor, he attacked the city’s $500 million-plus budget deficit at a news conference Tuesday morning, promising he will cut $75 million from the budget.

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