In what may have been the opening shot of the 2011 campaign for mayor of Chicago, an alderman -- sensing that incumbent Richard Daley might be vulnerable -- has accused the current mayor of ordering the police superintendent to negotiate with urban terrorists.
"The top cop should never be negotiating with gang leaders, period," said 2nd Ward Alderman Bob Fioretti.
Fioretti said his stand is not negotiable. He blamed Mayor Richard Daley for allowing Police Superintendent Jody Weis to meet with known gang leaders.
"For 20-some years he's been running this city," Fioretti said. "He's seen the gangs grow in numbers. So, you know what, yes. And it's his top cop. This type of meeting had the approval of the fifth floor."
Weis says his August 17 meeting at the Garfield Park Conservatory was an attempt to reduce shootings and other violence.
"Maybe they should talk to their gang members and just convince them that if they want they want to continue without the full weight of law enforcement falling on their shoulders, they should behave," said Weis.
Mayor Daley gave Weis another vote of confidence Tuesday, while denying Fioretti's charge that the mayor's office approved the meeting.
"What it is is the community people getting together with the police to talk to these gangbangers who live in the community, so that's about it," Daley said.
In July, a Chicago Tribune poll put the mayor's approval rating at an all-time low 37 percent. He says he has not decided whether to run for an unprecedented seventh term next February.
Ald. Fioretti, who blamed Daley's policies over the past 20 years for the city's fiscal problems, says the Weis/gangbanger meeting could change his political future.
"People would like me to run for mayor. Quite frankly I enjoy being alderman of the 2nd Ward. But you know what? Something like this makes me reconsider what I'm going to do in the future," said Fioretti.
After blaming reporters for needlessly injecting politics in their stories, Daley was asked about Fioretti's possible candidacy for mayor next year. His response lasted less than two seconds.
"I have no answer," said Daley.
Sources tell ABC 7 that Fioretti has ramped up his political fundraising effort to finance a citywide campaign. When asked about that rumored fundraising push Tuesday morning, Fioretti said he has raised money only for his expected aldermanic race next year.