-- John Byrne
September 7, 2010 4:01 PM
Mayor Richard Daley says he will not run for re-election in 2011, saying it's "time for me, it's time for Chicago to move on."
"The truth is I have been thinking about this for the past several months," Daley said at a City Hall news conference that stunned the city. "In the end this is a personal decision, no more, no less."
His wife Maggie stood by his side with the help of a crutch, smiling broadly as the mayor continued: "I have always known that people want you to work hard for them. Clearly, they won't always agree with you. Obviously, they don't like it when you make a mistake. But at all times, they expect you to lead, to make difficult decisions, rooted in what's right for them.
"For 21 years, that's what I've tried to do," he said. "But today, I am announcing that I will not seek a 7th term as mayor of the city of Chicago.
"Simply put, it's time," said Daley, 68. "Time for me, it's time for Chicago to move on." [...]
I am here today to say what I hope you already know, I love Chicago. I love the 'I will spirit' of the place and most of all I love the people. Throughout this great city in every neighborhood, on every block, there are people who give unselfishly, unbending in their determination, bold in the belief that they can make a difference and they have.
Together as a city we have moved past our differences to reach real progress. We are Chicago, in my view, the greatest city on earth.
For 38 years I have been a public servant and for the last 21 years as mayor. From the beginning I've been guided by one belief that every day I could do better for the people of Chicago. I've always known that people want you to work hard for them. Clearly they won't always agree with you and obviously they don't like it when you make a mistake. But at all times they expect you to lead, to make difficult decisions rooted in what's right for them. For 21 years that's what I've tried to do.
But today I'm announcing that I will not seek a seventh term as mayor of the city of Chicago.
Simply put, it's time. It's time for me, it's time for Chicago to move on....
And past time, belike.
The cynical among us may say that this is coming in part because he and the city council and the recession have dug the city into an intractable budget hole. The city is facing three separate and very deep budget deficits: the main city budget itself, the Chicago Public Schools (which is primarily but not purely funded by the state, which is in a budget hole so deep it makes Chicago look like we've got hardly any problems at all), and the Chicago Transit Authority (again, largely but not purely state funded, but the state never gave it the capital budget that was promised in the last two state budgets). Privatization of services at O'Hare and Midway and, most particularly, of the parking meters has not worked out at all the way he'd planned -- the latter brought in a big windfall of funds that the city suddenly finds itself incapable of using, lest the bond rating agencies drop the city's rating even further because it will take the city's reserves lower than some pre-determined threshold. (Apparently, you're not actually supposed to use reserves; you're merely supposed to have them, just in case you want not to use them. Or something like that. But I digress.)
Honestly, I think it may be simpler than that. Or slightly simpler, anyway. Yes, having all those battles to fight might be part of it. But in the end, I kind of think that it's largely that he's not young, that he may not have the energy to fight the fights he must to do what needs to be done ... and finally, that his wife is very ill. And frankly, if he's got energy to martial to deal with any one of those issues, I would think it would be spending time with his wife and family.
And, of course, official Washington is all in a flurry. Given that a fairly large chunk of the political White House comes from Chicago politics, people are wondering if various individuals might choose to leave Washington and run for mayor -- Rahm Emmanuel in particular. (I think he would make Obama cry if he left, frankly. From what I've heard, he seems to be responsible for what discipline the White House public apparatus actually has.) I've also heard Lisa Madigan, current state's attorney general, as a name. And apparently most of the politicians being run to ground are issuing very null statements; they've all been so taken by surprise that they have no statements really prepared.
It would be nice to get through a political silly season without some unspeakably vicious political campaign. Alas, it looks like we're going to be in for intractably ugly politics for the next three election seasons in a row. (The current year, next year with an open mayoral seat, and the following year with a presidential election.) And make no mistake: Chicago politics combined with an open mayor's seat have produced some of the most unspeakably vicious and ugly political campaigns the region has ever seen. It will be interesting to see if the city has learned anything from the time of Harold Washington and after -- the last time the seat was truly open was the election after Washington's death and the selected successor had served. That gave us Daley and a thoroughly cowed city council. (Given the Council Wars that preceded it, a cowed council was a rather nice thing to have around, for a year or two.)
What next, I wonder?Posted by iain at September 07, 2010 06:25 PM