CITY HALL — Conspicuous in his absence, both from the Progressive Reform Caucus news conference Thursday and its accompanying press release, was Ald. Ameya Pawar (47th).
Pawar was the only member of the City Council to join both the Progressive Reform Caucus and the Paul Douglas Alliance, rival groups of self-proclaimed progressives who declared their organizations one day apart in March. He had spoken openly of how, "I don't feel like drawing lines, honestly," between the two groups and how he hoped to serve as a go-between for the rivals.
Yet he was not included in a list of PRC members on Thursday's release.
Asked if he still considered himself a member of the PRC Friday, Pawar, 33, said, "Of course I do." Yet he added, "I wanted to make sure I see the language on the ordinances" before signing on.
While the PRC directly challenged Mayor Rahm Emanuel to live up to his campaign pledge to comply with any investigations by the city's inspector general, the Paul Douglas group has attempted to take a more conciliatory stance with the mayor. Ald. Scott Waguespack (32nd) of the PRC said Pawar came down on that side of things with the proposal to give the IG subpoena power over the mayor.
"He felt that we were going after the mayor a little too hard," Waguespack said. "The mayor promised he would do it, and it is common sense," he added. "We're just following through on what the mayor promised."
Pawar, however, insisted he's actually in agreement on the public policy of granting the IG full autonomy.
"The proposals that they have almost mirror the Paul Douglas resolution to explore the issue," Pawar said. "If you look at both caucuses, I think they're aligned on this issue."
Pawar would also welcome the Paul Douglas proposal to eliminate the Office of the Legislative Inspector General and give the IG's Office full power to investigate the City Council as well, something the PRC rejected as unwieldy and difficult to get passed on Thursday.
For all their surface similarities, there is friction between the groups. Waguespack deliberately muddled the rival group's name by calling it the "Paul Powell Douglas Alliance" at Thursday's news conference. While Paul Douglas was a renowned and authentic progressive in the City Council and in the U.S. Senate, Paul Powell was a disgraced Illinois secretary of state who was found to have shoe boxes filled with illicit cash upon his death in 1970.
Waguespack admitted he harbors hard feelings about the way the Paul Douglas Alliance proclaimed itself only a day after the PRC was formed.
"It was pretty annoying to see them throw that out there as a political maneuver," he said.
Waguespack was also visibly annoyed with Pawar on the City Council floor after Pawar introduced an ordinance requiring transparency on tax-increment-finance deals through the Paul Douglas Alliance at this month's meeting.
"I was very annoyed because it was essentially taking what we had done a few years ago and kind of regurgitating it," Waguespack said Friday. "It would be better, since you're so close to the mayor, if you just went to them and said, 'Follow through on the thing that we passed with Manny Flores and Scott Waguespack years before.'"
Waguespack said Pawar is still considered a PRC member.
"I think he still wants to be," Waguespack said. "But we just want to make sure we're all on the same page when we do these things. On this thing, he felt like he didn't want to be."
Waguespack said the two groups can co-exist and work together.
"Anything we're proposing, we are inviting not only them but a lot of other aldermen to the table," he added. "So everything that we're doing, we're trying to keep an open mind with every alderman to sign on or help us out with it."
Asked if he can continue to straddle the two, Pawar said, "I don't see why not. I think it's working well."