As somebody who's never witnessed the election of council leadership before, I was pretty excited for tonight. What would the undeclared voters, such as Ald. Bryon Eagon, do when the roll call came to their names? What cloakroom threats and offers would be made?
I'll never know if that description was melodramatic, because apparently a roll call vote on leadership will never take place. The president and president pro tem of the Council are elected by secret ballot. Dammit.
All I can do now is make a prediction on the vote tally. I won't be able to predict how specific alders vote unless the vote is unanimous -- a situation which, to say the least, would bring the judgment of the losing candidate into question.
All fun aside, secret ballot is the way to go. Alders shouldn't feel pressure to vote for the winning candidate because he/she will hold a grudge against them afterward. Granted, in politics grudges and vendettas are a-plenty no matter what, and there are plenty of other ways to anger the leadership after it's elected. But I think a secret ballot at least means that the new leadership doesn't begin the session with identifiable teams those who were for us and those who were against.
Do voters have the right to know what leaders their alders voted for? I have a tough time coming up with a solid principle to defend the idea that they don't. Oh well. Democracy operates in shades of gray, despite what we learned in elementary school or what John Nichols tells you. My advice would be to ask them if they don't reveal it. Put them on the spot. They'll come up with an answer unfortunately they'll have the luxury of making the "best" choice after the vote takes place.
Did I just obliterate my own position?