As Daley Steps Down, Will Rahm Step Up?

Chicago mayor Richard Daley shocked the political establishment today by announcing that he won't be seeking a seventh term. The 68-year-old Daley has been mayor since 1989.

The Daley family (Richard's father served 21 years as mayor) has won renown for its efficient (and often suspect) machine politics. While the latter Daley's reign was marked with plenty of achievements, NPR's Frank James reports that it was also marred by controversy:

Of course, Chicago being a place where historically, political corruption was raised to high art, Daley's administration had its issues with scandal.

There was the Hired Truck program in which the city hired private trucks to do government work. Problem was, an investigation by the Chicago Sun Times indicated that some of the trucks weren't doing any work and that taxpayer money was going in some firms with mob ties. That Daley didn't initially seem as scandalized as the public by some of what was revealed didn't help matters.

Daley was also capable of some moves that would have seemed more typical of democracy in the Middle East than the Midwest.

For instance, when he decided to close Meigs Field, the small downtown airport which he wanted to turn it into a park, he decided to present his opposition with a fait accompli. He sent bulldozers out and night to destroy the runways. End of debate.

Daley's announcement has sparked immediate speculation that Obama Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel will run to replace him:

The announcement opens the door to Rahm Emanuel, President Barack Obama's White House chief of staff who has openly said he would like to occupy the Fifth Floor in Chicago which is how Chicagoans refer to the mayor's office.

Obama had to really lobby Emanuel to take the chief of staff's job because the former congressman who has children was reluctant to take on the kind of hours required the White House job required.

Being mayor would be a lot less taxing especially since Chicago as a city under Daley has maintained the reputation for efficiency it gained when Daley the elder managed it. It was, after all, known as the City That Works and that moniker has seemed to fit.

Read the full story at NPR.

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Nicole Allan is a former senior editor at The Atlantic.

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