In April, 1955, the most honorable Richard J. Daley was sworn in as the 48th Mayor of the City of Chicago. He held that post until the day he died (ironically in his doctor’s office during an exam) in December of 1976. I was five-and-a-half.
In April, 1989, about a month before I graduated high school, his son, Richard M. Daley was sworn in to the office that was all but synonymous with his father the world over.
It has been announced that the Daley legacy will finally come to an end. Richard M. Daley has announced that he will not be seeking re-election in 2011, and (if he survives), will leave office in 2012. Thus, a period of 57 years will end in which only about 12.5 years existed without a Daley in the Mayor’s office.
The elder Daley was often credited (who knows how truthfully) as getting John Kennedy elected by holding up votes in Illinois until California was decided, to make sure Illinois could be delivered. The younger Daley didn’t need to do anything like that to see a fellow South Sider reach the White House.
Daley brought the Democratic Convention back to Chicago (amazingly it had not been back since 1968 when his father sent the local constabulatory out to beat the skulls of the hippies, anarchists, newspaper reporters, communists, socialists, baptists, episcopalians, Beetles fans, weathermen, anchormen, and other people who had a problem with Daley’s “establishment” (I mean, the dude ran the Republican party out of Chicago, a couple of longhairs weren’t going to rain on his parade … sorry for the long aside).
Daley saved the White Sox from moving by helping get a new beautiful ball park on the Southside … now the anchor of revitalization that the old housing projects are being torn down (an elder Daley invention) in lieu of mixed income housing.
Daley might have held on had the Olympics made it to town. Sadly, the IOC prefered to send the Olympics to Rio, where police helicopters are being shot down by street gangs with surface-to-air missiles, and tourist hotels are being invaded to ransom tourists. In the end, it may be better to sit back and watch Rio get ripped apart rather than Chicago get trampled over.
That aside, younger Daley will be remembered for doing what his dad did: patronage jobs … the only difference being that in this day and age of a media willing to report things that got overlooked 40 and 50 years ago. Because Chicago is not as business friendly as it used to be, a lot of the city’s money is sunk into social services that recently can’t be easily financed. Over the last six years, he supervised signing long term leases of major city money makers: parking meters, the Skyway, and even Midway Airport for nearly US$5.5 billion. Yet, that money has been dwindled down to only a few hundred million in a few years.
The younger Daley supported blanket bans of handguns that did nothing. That ban is now overturned, and people are standing by to see what will happen.
So, it will be interesting to see who lines up to be appointed the next mayor by the Democratic Party … since whomever gets the endorsement will become mayor.