For much of the past half century, the city of Chicago has been run by Daleys. First with Richard J. Daley from 1955 to 1975, then with his son Richard M. Daley from 1989 to 2011. On Tuesday, the end of the Daley dynasty came into view as Mayor Daley announced he won't run for reelection in 2011. "Simply put, it's time," said the 68-year-old mayor. "Time for me, it's time for Chicago to move on." While suspicions swirl that White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel may look to succeed Daley, columnists and bloggers examine the impact the Daley dynasty has had on America's third largest city.
He's Been One Hell of a Mayor, writes The Chicago Sun-Times editorial board: "Daley took over control of the public schools when more timid politicians urged caution. He embraced the Chicago Housing Authority, promising better homes and better lives for residents, knowing there would be political fallout and it was sure to hurt him. He built Millennium Park, brought life and theater back to the Loop at night, created the Museum Campus, made city beautification a top priority and went after O’Hare expansion. He has taken bold action and big risks when he safely could have settled for less, pushing Chicago forward and securing its future."
- Let's Not Gloss Over the Facts, writes Andrew Malcolm at The Los Angeles Times: "Daley faces severe budget deficits -- currently $655 million. He has already sharply raised city property taxes, chasing many young couples out to the surrounding suburbs. There is also the city's widespread crime problem, which corrodes the trademark Chicago claim as the city that works. Daley has even sold off some city services like parking meters to help make ends meet. And, this being a city named by Indians for a smelly wild onion, corruption often rears its lucrative head in municipal affairs, albeit corruption that only federal prosecutors seem able to spot."
- Fostered a More Tolerant City, writes Clarence Page at The Chicago Tribune: "Daley worked from his white Bungalow Belt base to reach out to Hispanics and as many blacks and lakefront independents as he could woo. Leave no vote unrequested. That seemed to be his motto. I'll never forget seeing him ride in a pink Cadillac in the North Side's Gay Pride Parade. Surely this was a new day in Chicago politics."
- Helped Create the Jewel of the Midwest, says Cindi Canary,
director of the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform: “If you look at
other major industrial cities in the Midwest, Chicago has really
reinvented itself... It is a beautiful, world-class city, which is not
to say it doesn’t suffer from great inequities and crime, or that the
Daley administration hasn’t been touched by corruption. But on balance,
we have been a city that has been able to thrive. There has been an
urban renaissance here, and Mayor Daley played a very big role in that.”
- Life After Daley Will Be Sobering, writes The Chicago Tribune editorial board: "If for no reason more enchanting than municipal finance, Chicago after Daley will find — must find — not just a new mayor, but a new direction... Richard J. Daley ruled Chicago when gullywashers of cash flowed easily from Washington to urban areas. Richard M. Daley, mayor in a more constrained era, couldn't be the builder his father was. He has, though, grown city government's debt, adjusted for inflation, to more than double what it was when he became mayor. Chicago's property tax base has grown by a much smaller margin. And the city's pension system, like the state's, is severely underfunded, with only about 43 percent of the money it needs to meet its obligations: The firefighters' fund could go broke in 10 years, the police fund 12 years later. So the missing $14.6 billion to erase Chicago's pension shortfalls will come from — where?"
- Well Played, Mr. Mayor, writes Joe Sudbay at America Blog: "I always thought Daley was a good mayor because Daley's goal was to be mayor, not run for some high office. And, I think being mayor is one of the toughest jobs to have. One actually has to stay on top of the fundamentals of our lives: schools, roads, crime, trash, snow plowing."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.