A recent report on WTTW’s program Chicago Tonight, “Absentee Aldermen”, charged Ald. Ameya Pawar (47th) with missing more than 80-percent of his Council Committee meetings, including the powerful Zoning Committee. Pawar was far from the most egegious absentee, that honor went to 7th Ward Ald. Sandy Jackson, for missing five of the twenty-two City Council meetings this term so far.
“It’s comes down to priorities,” Pawar said when contacted for a response to Chicago Tonight’s report. “Our ward is especially hands on. That means that I have to be more present in the ward, and spend less time downtown. Most Council committee meetings don’t have a quorum, and if you look at the attendance records there will only be about three-to-five aldermen that show up.”
The Better Government Association’s Andy Shaw, charged in the Chicago Tonight report that committee meetings are actually important.
“The committee meetings are the bread and butter, the nuts and bolts of the job,” Shaw said to WTTW. “You have to attend them because that’s where all the data is presented and argued and debated,” said Shaw. “When you miss what sounds like 80 or 90 percent of the committee meetings, you’re missing discussions on all of the key issues that your constituents send you there to represent them on, and that is simply unacceptable.”
Coinciding with this issue, is speculation that Pawar’s priorities may be focused elsewhere. Pawar confirmed that he has a consulting contract with Northwestern University, and also has a book deal, but says that these additional obligations have no affect on his ability to serve his constituents.
“This is a seven-day a week job, and to assume that just because I have other things going on, I’m not able to do my job, is wrong and extremely insulting. I’m fine with the job that I’m doing, and if I don’t win in the next four years, then so be it.”