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Report: Ald. Mell Gets Into Heated, Racially-Tinged Argument At City Hall

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Chicago City Council Chambers (CBS)

Chicago City Council Chambers (CBS)

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CHICAGO (CBS) — A published report is shedding light on a reported angry confrontation recently at City Hall.

As WBBM Newsradio’s Bob Conway reports, the Chicago Sun-Times says Ald. Richard Mell (33rd), chairman of the City Council Rules Committee, got into a profanity-laden and racially-tinged shouting match with Budget Committee chairman Carrie Austin (34th).

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Bob Conway reports


The subject was the City Council remap process that Mell is overseeing.

During a Rules Committee hearing last week, Austin accused Mell of being a racist, and “treating African-American aldermen like ‘plantation n***ers,” the Sun-Times reported, citing an unnamed source.

The source told the Sun-Times that Mell seemed sincerely “afraid that somebody was going to hit him,” and that City Council floor leader Ald. Patrick O’Connor (40th) told him to shut up because he was stoking racial tensions.

The source tells the newspaper that Mell is siding with Hispanics on the ward remap issue. The new map could include three more supermajority Hispanic wards, while African-Americans would lose two, the Sun-Times reported.

Chicago’s Hispanic population increased by 25,218 in the 2010 Census compared with a decade earlier, while the African-American population fell by 181,453, the Sun-Times reported.

Mell, 73, has represented the parts of the Albany Park, Irving Park and Avondale neighborhoods since 1975. He is known for some dramatic moments, most notably standing on his desk and demanding to be heard during the raucous City Council meeting to appoint an acting mayor following the death of Mayor Harold Washington in 1987.

But now, another source tells the Sun-Times that Mell “feels like he’s 100 years old, and is expected to step down midterm and urge the appointment of a rising star political figure such as his daughter, state Rep. Deborah Mell (D-Chicago.)

Mell is also the father-in-law of deposed Gov. Rod Blagojevich, whose sentencing hearing for a corruption conviction is beginning Tuesday. Sources tell the Sun-Times that Mell might be called in to help his daughter, Patti, and his two granddaughters while Blagojevich is in prison.

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