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Can City Hall Shut George Blakemore Up? Doubtful, But It's Trying

By Ted Cox | September 16, 2016 6:00am
 The City Council and Cook County Board are both looking for ways to rein in the public comments of concerned citizen George Blakemore.
The City Council and Cook County Board are both looking for ways to rein in the public comments of concerned citizen George Blakemore.
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DNAinfo/Ted Cox

CITY HALL — For at least two decades, 74-year-old George Blakemore has been giving Chicago aldermen a headache. And now they want their revenge. 

Blakemore, a "concerned citizen" who gives long-winded critiques of city lawmakers during the public comment section of City Council meetings, might soon only have three minutes to sound off.  

Aldermen Edward Burke (14th) and Michelle Harris (8th) submitted a proposed ordinance Wednesday that would set a three-minute limit on each person's public comments at all Council and committee meetings.

Earlier this week, the Cook County Board was considering what was termed "decorum" rules on public comment, which some reports suggested were aimed specifically at Blakemore.

Blakemore typically introduces himself at the microphone by saying, "My name is George Blakemore and I'm a concerned citizen." He is known for railing against aldermen as "rubber stampers" running a "dog and pony show," and he is especially vocal when committee chairmen suddenly impose a three-minute time limit on him after letting other witnesses go on at length.

Just this week, Ald. Nicholas Sposato (38th) threatened to leave an extended committee meeting on Tax Increment Finance funds being redistributed to Chicago Public Schools unless Burke limited Blakemore to three minutes.

Blakemore went on to be applauded by fellow citizens in the gallery for his remarks, with Burke saying, "Don't encourage him!"

But sometimes, he finds an ally: Ald. Brendan Reilly (42nd) found himself agreeing with Blakemore several times for reservations he had about pieces of Downtown legislation.

Blakemre, who is also a regular at CTA, Chicago School Board and Park District meetings, was saluted in the "People Issue" of the Reader last year. He is also credited with getting the CTA to add Harold Washington's name to its Library-State/Van Buren stop.

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