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Old Council Members Say Goodbye

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Before the goodbyes got started. Alderman Burt Natarus was back behind the council chambers talking to reporters. The question was legacy. And Natarus wanted to clarify something.

NATARUS: Now wait a minute, let's get that one straight.

But to do that, Natarus wanted to go back to the roots of the issue.

NATARUS: Alright, years ago in the forties, the Borden Milk Company had horses and wagons.

Wagons. With Horses.

NATARUS: Okay and they pooped all over the street and nobody said anything. Now, when a horse poops on the street, people complain.

A solution was proposed the 80's. Obviously. Put diapers on the horses. But when it comes to his legacy, Natarus said, he just wants to be clear. Well, for one.

NATARUS: That was Jane Byrne's ordinance, I had nothing to do with that.
Natarus says, he [just] had more of a helper role.

NATARUS: All I was doing was responding to the complaint. Telling these people adjust your diaper.

And last but not least. Have some respect.

NATARUS: What are you laughing at? I'm not a funny person. I'm a serious fellow.

Besides, Natarus says he had higher priorities.

NATARUS: I was more concerned about dog do.

With that all straightened out-the formal goodbyes got going [around twelve thirty.] Over the next two hours and forty minutes, there were screams of joy from outgoing Alderman Shirley Coleman.

COLEMAN: I'm free.

Tears from Alderman Darcel Beavers.

Beavers: I can't believe I'm crying.

There were some, like Alderman Dick Mell-who struggled to find words for their colleagues who are leaving.

MELL: What can you say about Burt Natarus that he hasn't already said about himself?

Others, like Alderman Ed Smith, talked candidly about some of the powerful characters making their exits.

SMITH: I gotta tell you the truth on this floor. It has not always been easy working with Dorothy.

Of course, beyond 36-year veteran Burt Natarus... long-time Alderman Dorothy Tillman also put her closing remarks on her time in the council.

TILLMAN: They said I couldn't do it. Well here we are 23 and a half years later.

In that time Tillman's become known for her large persona and equally large hats. At times the 59-year-old Tillman sounded sentimental. But that didn't stop her from taking a few parting shots.

TILLMAN: I don't believe in gentrification. Gentrification just means you move people out. I ask why can you have a redeveloped community? When you redevelop a community, you define how it's going to be.

Alderman after alderman layered on thanks... praise... and in a few cases carted out an old grudge for a last good wack. But as it turned out, this would not actually be the last chapter for the current council.

After series of parliamentary maneuvers, Mayor Richard Daley was locked in battle with a group of opponents. Allies of the mayor were calling for a special meeting-politics throwing off the council's scheduled final hurrah. Without blinking, the aldermen agreed. Another final meeting has now been scheduled for Monday, when the current council will hash out a controversial affordable housing ordinance.

I'm Ben Calhoun, Chicago Public Radio

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