Thursday, September 9, 2010

Daley Magic?

"Daley 'had the courage to do things that other big city mayors did not and brought about changes...'said Alderman Pat O'Conner."

Judy Keen, "Daley says six terms is enough as Chicago mayor," USA Today, September 8, 2010.

There's no doubt that Chicago prospered under Richard M. Daley, its image improved, and many more people saw it as a place to visit and spend. To a large degree, he benefitted from reigning during an overall growth period for the national economy -- and from the strength and diversity of the Chicago regional economy.

How much he contributed to making good things happen as opposed to riding the wave or just getting out of the way will be key questions in assessing the overall performance of his administration.

Many will question about progress on social and racial equity during his reign. Did all Chicagoans share in Chicago's prosperity? Has school reform gone far enough? Has taken down public housing benefitted low income residents? Is a more coordinated adult workforce and education system showing payoffs?

There will be misleading accolades, even from long-time critics.

"Dick Simpson, a former alderman and political scientist at the University of Illinois at Chicago said Daley will be remembered as a 'builder mayor' who shifted the city from manufacturing to a global economic power..."

The word "stability" will be invoked a lot in the next year -- with good reason.

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