What newly-elected aldermen need to know, and who might tell them

First Ward Ald. Daniel La Spata spoke with Inside Chicago Government in a 2019 interview during his first year in office. In that interview, La Spata talked about the kinds of training that he and newly-elected aldermen got from the city of Chicago. And he identified the things he thought were missing from that training.

jargon giraffe
Ald. La Spata demonstrates the "jargon giraffe."
Photo by Dave Glowacz.

Now, three years later, La Spata has definite ideas about the kinds of orientation and onboarding that aldermen who are elected this year should receive.

In the standard version of the episode, La Spata proposed that new aldermen and their staff get an idea of the tasks ahead by shadowing their more-experienced peers.

In the absence of more formal guidance, La Spata said, "you learn from the [aldermanic] offices around you," so that "you become who you're adjacent to."

"I think that can really shape things for good or ill," he said.

In the premium version of the episode, La Spata described how his perception of training needs has changed since his first year in office. For example, he said, newbies might have to learn how to acquire ward residents' contact information—something that easily disappears when a new alderman takes over.

The premium version also has La Spata talking about a key skill that he wasn't taught after he was elected: how to get the support of other council members when trying to advance legislation. In the premium version, La Spata described how that changed during the COVID-19 pandemic, when the City Council was meeting via videoconference.

In the premium version, La Spata also revealed the falsehoods he was taught about working with city departments. "What was so frustrating four years ago is people . . . almost knowing that they were setting you up for failure," La Spata said.

And in the premium version, La Spata spoke of the opaque methods by which aldermen get put onto City Council committees. New council members, he said, "deserve a better sense of what committees are—and what they aren't."

Finally, in the premium version La Spata unveiled an acronym-busting critter called the "jargon giraffe."

Length 5.9 minutes standard, 31.8 minutes premium.

Music: "Why Did I" by Rom-Comm
Copyright 2017 (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 4.0 International).

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