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The Last Boss

Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley, the most powerful big city Mayor in the nation, and heir to the legacy of his legendary father, Mayor and Cook County Democratic Party Boss Richard J. Daley, stunned reporters with his abrupt announcement that he would not seek a 7th term as Mayor.

For Chicagoans and watchers of Illinois politics, this is the equivalent of the Pope deciding to retire. The Mayor’s wife, Maggie Daley, has been seriously ill with cancer since 2002 and there is speculation that this was a factor in Daley’s decision. While his father was the iconic Machine Boss, he never acheived, even in his heyday, the iron grip over the City Council wielded by Richard M. Daley.

Is Chicago finally ready for reform?

4 Responses to “The Last Boss”

  1. Jonathan Says:

    We’ll find out if any of the alternatives are better.

  2. Dave Schuler Says:

    The alternatives are mostly unknowns, nonentities, or carpetbaggers.There are so many dimensions to this story it’s hard to know where to start.  The late mayor never had the control over the City Council that Richie has had he had a patronage army that the present mayor could only dream of.  That makes a big difference in terms of influence.  Some of the late mayor’s influence was overstated.  His method of handling union squabbles, for example, was to bring the union bosses into a room, lock the door, and then give them whatever they wanted.  It gave him the reputation for being a tough negotiator without ever needing to do anything.  It’s also possible that the present mayor is getting out while the getting is good.  A retired mayor isn’t nearly as attractive a target as a sitting one is and the volleys have been coming closer and closer.

  3. Curtis Gale Weeks Says:

    Lots of talk that Rahm is going to take it.

  4. zen Says:

    Excellent points Dave. I would add that Daley II got around Shakman to an extent via privatization – contracts are the new patronage. Not as effective or as vast as the old days but they can still send ppl to be put on payrolls and get quid pro quo on contributions.

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