April 8, 2011
The Honorable Richard M. Daley is in the final days of being Mayor of the City of Chicago. Soon Rahm Emanuel will inherit the throne, albeit banged up and tarnished. Good luck, Rahm. Mayor is the top job in the 3rd biggest city in the United States of America. And the Daley’s positively owned it. Between his old man (Richard J.) and himself, a Daley has held that job for my entire life. Let’s face it Harold Washington and especially Jane Byrne were merely temps.
In the midst of his “farewell tour” Daley has been hitting a lot of schools, visiting with the children, taking questions, etc. Claiming “education” as the defining issue of our time (and a key to his legacy), the Mayor is taking full advantage of these no-brainer photo-ops. We see him hugging children, posing with teachers… Given our public schools are a mess, I’m not sure it’s appropriate but what the hell, he’s “Da Mare” and he can say and do whatever he wants!
He always has. One thing you’ve got to admire (and even like) about Daley is that, unlike most politicians, he’s completely genuine. He actually likes hugging kids. Daley also likes trees ergo our city is filled with them. Daley believes in reading books, and so we have One Book, One Chicago. These are good things.
Not so good would be the Mayor’s tyrannical destruction of Chicago’s Meigs Field, the inner city airport located a 5-dollar cab ride from downtown. Daley made it a park –one that I hear is lovely. I’ve never been and neither has anyone else. Here the Mayor went too far, ordering the runways destroyed in the middle of the night.
It wasn’t the first time he took matters into his own hands and it wouldn’t be the last. In the end, like his father, Richard M. Daley was a dictator, but a damn popular one. No other Mayor defined his city like ours did. Even though sometimes infuriating, the Daley “Machine” was an awesome spectacle.
Last week Mayor Daley visited my children’s school, Chicago City Day. A private institution, the media coverage was understandably minimal. But he came and the kids were thrilled. Mine even dressed up. I asked my girls what questions were asked of him. My favorite: a first-grader wondered if there were log cabins in Chicago when he was a kid. The Mayor laughed his ass off. So did everyone. And that’s what we love about His Honor. He could be a dick but he had a sense of humor. And a big heart, almost always worn on his sleeve. That’s his and my Chicago: a machine with a heart.