On Wednesday, May 13, the City Council of Chicago expressed its gratitude to Alderman Billy Ocasio for 16 years of service to Chicago. Council members from across the political spectrum – from diverse ethnic and racial communities – individually stood up to acknowledge Ocasio’s tireless work and unparallel legacy. They spoke about his leadership in such issues as housing, community development, community empowerment, education, human rights, and human relations. Through a myriad of personal anecdotes, they shared the ways in which Ocasio has made an indelible mark in the city’s political and social landscape. City Clerk Miguel Del Valle’s reading of a powerful and concise resolution dedicated to him best captured the spirit of homage. A standing ovation followed.
Mayor Daley spoke of the many contributions of Ocasio and highlighted their close friendship. The most moving and unexpected gesture came from Alderman Burke, who is the Dean of the City Council. Burke began by stating that he echoed all of the previous comments, but that he wanted to make a final point. He recalled how many years ago, Billy Ocasio had introduced him to the Puerto Rican figure, Pedro Albizu Campos, who had been a principled advocate of the Irish freedom struggle. Burke noted that the Puerto Rican people affectionately and respectfully called Albizu Campos – “El Maestro.” He concluded by proclaiming Ocasio “El Maestro” of the City Council. For the second time, the entire chamber stood to its feet and gave Ocasio a standing ovation.[/lang_en]