Freedom on a String

Nance says City Hall didn't influence the Clergy Coalition's delay on home rule

Carpenter is Committeewoman-for-Life in the 23rd Ward, which Slay used to represent as alderman. Daly, who brandishes the "Francis Xavier" initials like rosary beads and is seen as the sharpest dresser in City Hall, was Slay's assistant when the mayor was president of the aldermanic board.

They're not going to quietly give up power.

"It's awfully presumptuous to say, 'Let's cut this out,' with no discussion whatsoever," the F.X. says. "I certainly hope the mayor will hear the cries of the county officers as well as the other coalitions in the city."

Aldermen such as Craig Schmid (D-10th) are also skeptical: "This has nothing to do with the police department; it has nothing to do with the board of education; it has nothing to do with all the pressing problems this city has, so I can't really see the reason for putting this much energy into it. As it stands now, I don't see any reason to vote for it."

Rank self-interest of the colorblind kind also adds to the home-rule hostility.

"You have white and black political leaders who like things the way they are," says one insider who supports home rule. "They like a city stuck in the mud because a city on the move makes them more accountable and means they have to step up."

Nance, who has publicly supported home rule in the past, is caught up in similarly nasty cross-currents.

Although prominent black leaders such as Bosley and Rice are staunchly in favor of the home-rule initiative, other black political players see the measure as a Republican power grab -- Walker is related to President George W. Bush. Home rule is also seen as a plot by whites to take away a slew of political offices and patronage slots just as blacks are on the verge of gaining enough ballot-box clout to snatch all those county offices away from the white South Siders.

All the more reason to see Nance and Slay joined at the hip on home rule, each responding to pressure from his constituency, both moving in the same cautious direction.

Do they talk about this thing they share? You bet, says the Boz: "I am sure the two of them have probably discussed the issue, and I would hope Mayor Slay has encouraged Reverend Nance to support it as he supports it."

Call it a hat trick.

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