About 90 mayors, many of them newly elected, from the North, Northwest and West suburbs got to schmooze Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel Tuesday during the quarterly business meeting of the Metropolitan Mayor's Caucus.
The meeting, held at Willis Tower in downtown Chicago, was closed to the public and media.
It marked the first 100 days of Emanuel's administration and was the first opportunity for many suburban mayors to meet Emanuel, who hasn't made any suburban appearances since taking the helm.
"It was extremely productive," said Dave Bennett, executive director of the caucus, which includes 273 member municipalities. "Mayor Emanuel got to meet the mayors from the suburbs face-to-face. We brought in the legislative consultants of the various suburban municipal associations and the city of Chicago. We've asked them to develop a strategy or action plan on how to improve on the existing relationship."
Mayors from Cook, DuPage, Lake, Kane, McHenry and Will counties were represented.
Among the suburban mayors attending were Arlene Mulder of Arlington Heights, Karen Darch of Barrington, Marty Moylan of Des Plaines, Maria Rodriguez of Long Grove, Jeffrey Braiman of Buffalo Grove, and Al Larson of Schaumburg.
Mulder said while the mayors discussed a number of legislative issues, the proposed gambling expansion legislation did not come up.
In its current form, the legislation would allow for 1,200 slot machines at Arlington Park and slots at racetracks statewide, and add five new casinos, including ones in Chicago, Lake County and Rockford.
"The principal of the caucus is if there is an issue that has a lot of disagreement, we don't deal with that one," Mulder said.
Mulder said pension reform, protecting local income tax disbursements, transportation and infrastructure issues were top on the agenda.
"We all depend on each other," Mulder said. "When we work together we can maybe get our message across. I think our issues are obviously the concerns of balancing the budget and trying to maintain services. We all have that same challenge regardless of what community you are from."
The group spent an hour reviewing the functions of various committees and programs of the caucus. For the next caucus session, member communities and agencies such as the Northwest Municipal Conference will bring in experts to talk about lobbying legislators.
"We are talking about putting together a panel of lobbyists to represent the caucus," Mulder said. "We lobby ourselves. We could use some advice on how to be more effective. We thought maybe we could learn something from a panel of lobbyists. When we combine our voice on legislative things, it really makes a difference."