CITY HALL — Reports of Ald. Richard Mell's impending retirement are greatly exaggerated — at least for now.
In an email message, Mell called the reports "inaccurate," but declined additional comment.
"This is all news to us, too," said Mary Hahne, a staffer in Mell's 33rd Ward office. "He's been retiring for five years."
"As of this point, it's not true," said Mayor Rahm Emanuel. "I've talked to him about his retirement, and he has said he'll eventually do it. As of this morning, I still haven't gotten the phone call that he'll do anything. My own view is, I'll believe it when I see it."
Citing unnamed sources, the Chicago Sun-Times reported Friday that Mell would step down and already has arranged for Emanuel to appoint his daughter, state Rep. Deborah Mell (D-Chicago), to replace him.
At a news conference Friday, Emanuel skirted the issue of whether they'd discussed Mell's successor, saying, "There's no reason to have a discussion until Dick decides to do something." He lauded Rep. Mell's work in the General Assembly, adding, "I want her to stay where she is until we get an assault-weapons ban and marriage equality passed."
Legislation on both those issues stalled in the state Senate during the current lame-duck session in Springfield.
"Ald. Mell's been retiring for five years," Emanuel echoed. "Now, like a broken watch, it will be right eventually."
The Irving Park alderman has the second-longest tenure in the City Council, behind only Ald. Edward Burke (14th).