Sunday, January 23, 2011

Mayor Daley

I was just reflecting that for 42 of my 60 years a Mayor Daley has been Mayor of my hometown. I'm not great in math but it's easy to see that's one helluva large percentage of my life. Wow.

Chicago's current Mayor, Richard M. Daley, is the son of  Mayor Richard J. Daley. 

Let's look at these remarkable men separately:

1.  Long before Bruce Springsteen, there was the real Boss, Richard Joseph Daley (May 15, 1902 – December 20, 1976). Mayor Daley served for 21 years as the mayor and undisputed Democratic boss of Chicago and is considered by historians to be the last of the big city bosses. He played a major role in the history of the Democratic Party, especially with his support of John F. Kennedy in 1960 and of Hubert Humphrey in 1968.

Daley was Chicago's third mayor in a row from the working-class, heavily Irish American Bridgeport neighborhood on Chicago's South Side, and he lived there his entire life.

Daley had two bases of power, serving as a Committeeman and Chairman of the Cook County Democratic Central Committee from 1953, and as mayor of Chicago from 1955. He used both positions until his death in 1976 to dominate party and civic affairs. Daley's well-organized Democratic political machine was often accused of political corruption and though many of Daley's subordinates were jailed, Daley was never personally formally accused of corruption.

He is remembered for doing much to avoid the declines that some other "rust belt" cities like Cleveland, Buffalo and Detroit experienced during the same period. He had a strong base of support in Chicago's Irish Catholic community, and he was treated by national politicians such as Lyndon B. Johnson as a preeminent Irish American, with special connections to the Kennedy family.

He was the second longest-serving Chicago mayor in history (just recently surpassed by his son, Richard M. Daley).

2. Richard Michael Daley (born April 24, 1942) is a United States politician, member of the national and local Democratic Party, and currently the Mayor of Chicago, Illinois. He was elected mayor in 1989 and reelected in 1991, 1995, 1999, 2003, and 2007. He is the longest serving mayor, surpassing the tenure of his father, Richard J. Daley, on December 26, 2010. Daley announced on September 7, 2010, that he would not run for re-election in 2011. His term will end May 16, 2011.

Daley was chosen by Time magazine in its April 25, 2005 issue as the best out of five mayors of large cities in the United States, and characterized as having "imperial" style and power, he has presided over a resurgence in tourism, the modernization of the Chicago Transit Authority, the mayoral takeover of the Chicago Public Schools, the construction of Millennium Park, increased environmental efforts and the rapid development of the city's North Side, as well as the near South and West sides. He took over 70% of the mayoral vote in 1999, 2003, and 2007.

Prior to serving as mayor, Daley served in the Illinois Senate and then as the Cook County State's Attorney.
From 1972 to 1980 he served in the Illinois Senate, where he led the fight to remove the sales tax on food and medicine, sponsored landmark mental health legislation and established rights for nursing home residents.
Daley was elected State’s Attorney of Cook County in 1980 and re-elected in 1984 and 1988. He pushed successfully for tougher state narcotics laws and raised the conviction rate dramatically. He helped overhaul Illinois’ antiquated rape laws to obtain more convictions and developed programs to combat drunk driving, domestic violence and child support delinquencies. He also tripled the number of African American prosecutors in the office.

In September 2010, Daley announced he would not seek a seventh term re-election as mayor. He cited his and his family's desire to begin a "new phase of our lives."

Additional Information:

In 1996 Daley headed the U.S. Conference of Mayors. He has been named Municipal Leader of the Year by American City and County magazine; a Public Official of the Year by Governing magazine; and Politician of the Year by Library Journal. Time magazine, in its April 25, 2005 issue, said Daley “is widely viewed as the nation’s top urban executive.”

He has received the National Jefferson Award for Greatest Public Service by an Elected or Appointed Official from the American Institute for Public Service; the Education Excellence Award from the National Conference for Community and Justice; the Public Service Leadership Award from the National Council for Urban Economic Development; the J. Sterling Morton Award from the National Arbor Day Foundation; the Keystone Award from the American Architectural Foundation; the Martin Luther King/Robert F. Kennedy Award from the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence/Education Fund To End Handgun Violence; the Kevin Lynch Award from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology; a Lifetime Achievement Award for support of the arts from Americans for the Arts and the U.S. Conference of Mayors; the Catalyst Award for Urban Park Leadership from the Urban Parks Institute.

Mayor Richard M. Daley has earned a reputation -- both in Chicago and across the nation -- for improving Chicago's quality of life, acting to improve public schools, strengthening its economy and helping Chicago become among the most environmentally friendly cities in the world.

Now, during the worst national economic downturn in seventy years, Daley has said that government must reinvent and restructure itself and continue to do more with less to protect taxpayers.

His innovative, community-based programs continue to tackle the fundamental challenges facing urban America -- improving public education, preventing and fighting neighborhood crime, bringing new businesses to Chicago’s neighborhoods, creating new jobs and investing in new neighborhood infrastructure.

At the same time, he has made it an ongoing priority to control government spending, better manage government and protect Chicago's taxpayers by holding government to higher standards of accountability and transparency.

And, he has made it a priority to pull together the people of Chicago to "focus on what unites us", challenging the city to work together and put aside politics to focus on shared solutions to Chicago's problems.

In 1995, frustrated with the performance of Chicago’s public schools, Daley asked for and received responsibility from the State for the Chicago Public Schools. His new management team focusing on learning the basics in the classroom, closed a $1.8 billion deficit, made homework mandatory, ended the social promotion of underperforming students, improved school safety, greatly expanded summer school, after-school and early childhood education programs and invested more than $5 billion in capital improvements, including building 41 new schools.

The school system returned to emphasizing the basics in curriculum -- especially reading, math and the basics of science -- and created targeted schools that focus on specific academic areas, such as world languages and math and science.

As a result, student test scores continue to rise, the dropout rate continues to fall, more students are prepared to go to college or some form of higher education and what were once called the worst schools in the country have become a national model for reform.

During his time as Mayor, Daley has constantly searched for ways to manage the limited resources of government more efficiently to protect the taxpayers.

He has a record of doing more with less, having cut over $2.7 billion in spending since he became Mayor. Since 2000, he has reduced the number of city employees by more than 6,200, even while adding sworn police officers.

In order to avoid higher taxes and reduced services, Chicago was the first U.S. city to strategically lease infrastructure assets -- including the Chicago Skyway Toll Bridge, the city’s parking meter system and the parking garages under Millennium Park -- to private sector operators. The funds Chicago received in return have been used to strengthen the city’s financial health, build new infrastructure, support programs to help residents who are most in need, to create jobs and provide funding for critical operating needs, during a recessionary economy.

Under Daley’s leadership, Chicago's economy has become more diverse. He has worked to bring new businesses and jobs to Chicago, including efforts to support the creation and growth of small businesses.

Through World Business Chicago -- a public/private partnership he established in 2000 to bring new businesses to Chicago, Mayor Daley is helping transform Chicago's economy by focusing on the jobs and businesses of the future. These include green technology and clean energy, biotechnology, financial services, and the hospitality industry.

Through Chicago's public school system he is creating career academies which are designed to provide Chicago's students with the skills they need to compete in a technology based world.

He is working with a new leadership team at the City Colleges of Chicago to reinvent Chicago's community college system so that it not only better educates students, but better provides job and skill training, also focused on the jobs of tomorrow.

And, he is revamping Chicago's job training and retraining efforts -- including through the new Chicago Career Tech Program -- to make sure that Chicago's workforce is a modern one and ready to work in the new economy that will emerge from the nation's recession.

During Daley's time in office, Chicago has become a strong player in the global economy. Mayor Daley has shown great vision in understanding the demands of the new global markets and has worked tirelessly to secure Chicago's place in that economy. He's made four trips to China and when the Premier of China, Hu Jintao, visited America in January 2011 the only city he visited other than DC was Chicago, clearly paying great respect and honor to Mayor Daley and Chicago.

MasterCard International’s annual evaluation in 2008 rated Chicago as the 5th most influential city in the global economy and Standard & Poor’s ranks the city among the world’s Top 10 Economic Centers. In addition, the Global Cities Index, a comprehensive international ranking, named Chicago one of the most global cities in 2008, ranking it 8th out of the 60 cities studied. Chicago received especially high marks for human capital as a top global destination for higher education.

Since Daley took office, to improve neighborhood quality of life, the City has invested more than $4.5 billion in local, state, federal, and private funds to create, improve and maintain more than 170,000 units of affordable housing for people of modest means and has established aggressive plans to rebuild public housing, extend housing affordability, end homelessness and prevent foreclosures, as well as  reduce the impact of foreclosures on families and neighborhoods.

Under Mayor Daley, the City’s foreclosure prevention programs have served as national models, including its Homeownership Preservation Initiative (HOPI), which since 2003 has prevented more than 2,800 foreclosures, reclaimed 717 vacant buildings and counseled more than 14,000 at-risk homeowners.

It was also the first city in the country to enact legislation to combat predatory lending.

Daley’s focus on quality-of-life concerns has led to the City undertaking hundreds of initiatives aimed at making Chicago the most environmentally friendly city in the world.

These include: establishing a Green Business Strategy to help companies save money by becoming more sensitive to the environment; developing a Green Permit Program that expedites building permits and waives fees if developers use green techniques; installing or encouraging the construction of more than 600 gardens and green roofs covering 7 million square feet to reduce the amount of energy used by buildings; adding more than 1,300 acres of new open space throughout the city since 1998, including more than 100 campus parks; installing 90 miles of landscaped medians on major streets and creating the Chicago Climate Action Plan, a comprehensive and detailed strategy to help lower greenhouse gas emissions and address climate change.

In 2004, Daley opened Millennium Park, the most ambitious public-private undertaking in Chicago’s history. Constructed over railroad tracks and parking lots in downtown Chicago, the widely acclaimed showplace of architecture and the arts features a spectacular band shell designed by Frank Gehry, a popular reflecting sculpture designed by Anish Kapoor, an interactive fountain designed by Jaume Plensa, a garden designed by Kathryn Gustafson, a theater for music and dance, a state-of-the-art bicycle station and an ice skating rink.

Under Daley’s leadership, Navy Pier has been renovated and transformed into Chicago’s most popular tourist attraction. McCormick Place has been expanded and Soldier Field has been rehabilitated as part of a plan that added 17 acres of lakefront park land. A project to modernize O’Hare International Airport is underway.

A landmark ordinance Daley introduced in 1990 guarantees 25% of all City contracts to minority-owned businesses (MBE) and 5% to women-owned businesses (WBE). Daley also has increased the number of minorities in the City’s workforce.

At Mayor Daley's direction, Chicago has implemented a range of reforms to prevent misconduct whenever and wherever it happens and to make government decision making more transparent. He strengthened the responsibilities of the Office of Inspector General, naming two well-regarded federal prosecutors to lead it.

He has restructured the city's hiring program, strengthening efforts to investigate and prevent wrongdoing. In 2005, he signed an executive order preventing businesses that have contracts with the city from contributing to his political committee.

To make Chicago's neighborhoods safer, Daley created Chicago’s first community policing program which has become a national model, with beat officers working with City agencies and residents to solve problems that foster crime.

Police officers have been pulled from desk duty to serve on the streets and the Police Department has targeted resources to areas of greatest need to prevent crime from occurring in the first place.
Chicago leads the nation in the installation of neighborhood safety cameras, which have been instrumental in preventing crime.

And Chicago's state-of-the-art Emergency Communications Center is one of the most advanced in the nation.

Daley has tackled head on the challenge of reducing youth violence. From installing more safety cameras outside schools, to working to make students safer as they go to and from school, and developing “cultures” of calm in troubled schools, Daley has made protecting Chicago's children a citywide priority.

Chicago’s crime rate has dropped notably since 1992. Daley has also taken a national leadership role in the movement to enact common sense gun legislation at the state and federal levels.

Daley and his wife Maggie are the parents of three children, Nora Daley Conroy, Patrick Daley and Elizabeth Daley. A son Kevin died in 1981 at the age of three of spina bifida. 
Special Note: The most beloved Daley, however, is Mayor Daley's wife, Maggie. I'll profile Mrs. Daley in a blog post later this week. She is a most remarkable and gracious lady.

(Editorial Notice: This article was quickly cobbled together while drinking my morning coffee and enjoying a bagel and 'shmear; my sources were the Chicago Tribune, City of Chgo gov website, various national magazines, Wikipedia and my own personal knowledge. All errors are strictly my own.)

Go Bears!

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