Illinois legislature mulls allowing Chicago to recall Mayor Emanuel

The Illinois House will soon consider a bill that would allow the recall of mayors and other office holders in the state.  Currently, only the governor is subject to recall. 

The measure is in response to calls from protesters in the city of Chicago for Mayor Rahm Emanuel to step down for his role in the botched investigation of the death of Laquan McDonald, who was shot by a Chicago policeman in October 2014.

A poll released a few weeks ago shows Emanuel's approval at an anemic 18%.

ABC News:

Ford introduced his bill on Dec. 9, the day Emanuel addressed the Chicago City Council and apologized for the death of Laquan McDonald, a black teenager who was shot 16 times by a white police officer in October 2014. Emanuel's apology came a couple of weeks after the release of police dashcam video that appeared to show McDonald walking away from officers when he was shot. The video triggered protests and calls for Emanuel's resignation.

Emanuel has said he won't step down.

"We understand there's a desire by some to insert politics into this discussion, but the mayor's focus is not on his own personal politics," Emanuel spokesman Adam Collins said in a statement. "His focus is on taking the action necessary to finally and fully address an issue that has challenged Chicago for decades, and reform the system and culture of policing in Chicago."

Under Ford's proposal, two city aldermen would have to sign an affidavit agreeing with a recall petition and organizers must collect more than 88,000 signatures from registered voters in the city. At least 50 signatures must come from each of 50 wards.

The proposal would pre-empt local law, so it needs approval from two-thirds of each chamber of the Illinois Legislature to pass during the session that starts this month. The bill would be effective immediately if signed into law, a scenario that can pose legal questions because it would target someone currently in office, said David Melton, executive director of the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform.

Nineteen states have recall provisions of one kind or antother.  The most recent recall of a governor occurred in Wisconsin in 2012, when Scott Walker became the first governor to survive a recall effort.

But recall efforts of any kind are expensive and time-consuming.  And then there's the practical problem of getting at least 50 signatures from all 50 wards in the city.  Some of those south side wards gave Emanuel near 100% of the vote.  Would organizers of a recall effort be able to find 50 voters in those wards willing to sign a petition to dump Rahm?

With the difficulty in passing a recall bill in the legislature, Emanuel will likely serve out the remainder of his four-year term.  But that scenario assumes there will be no more bombshells in the McDonald matter.  Another blow to Emanuel's credibility could convince him that it would be better for all concerned if someone else sat in the mayor's chair.