Richard M. Daley: A Mayor Only A Grifter Could Really Appreciate

Richard M. Daley: A Mayor Only A Grifter Could Really Appreciate

Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley is conducting his farewell tour before riding off into the sunset. Meanwhile, the city's news media outlets feel compelled to bestow accolades on the same man they have skewered for years. I suppose that is almost akin to a funeral wake where even a man's biggest opponent in life finds something nice to say while the corpse is laying in the casket. So it is, this love-hate relationship that Mayor Daley has had to endure during his long tenure. But, before we get all get weepy about the end of Mayor Daley's reign over Chicago, let us also consider something else. This was a mayor that only a grifter could really appreciate and love.

Chicago politics is a con game and anyone who thinks otherwise hasn't been paying attention to the cast of players who have profited during Da Mayor's reign. All questions of political corruption or general improprieties were always met with a familiar Bridgeport Shrug and a gobsmacked Wha? Wadda Ya Mean? "I'm just the mayor."

So, as we evaluate Richard M. Daley's numerous superficial achievements, let us not forget how his "ideas a minute" impacted the average citizens wallet. Friends, family and political cronies raped the city blind while Daley ran the city.

How this man was able to survive all these years, though, is a remarkable story in itself. Perhaps the reason for his successes is that Mayor Richard M. Daley demanded loyalty in return for his looking the other way. Whenever the heat got too close, there was always someone to take the fall for him. A good example of that loyalty was former head of Streets and Sanitation, Al Sanchez. Sanchez never ratted out the man who provided him with the means to success and power, and in return, Daley stood behind him to the bitter end.

Then again, Richard M. Daley, knows better than anyone on how the creation of the Hispanic Democratic Organization was his political masterstroke.

Of course, some of the corruption woes that dogged Daley over the years was also the direct result of some very greedy people in the HDO. But, hey, I wouldn't feel sorry for King Richie II, because once he gave tacit approval to manipulate the system, he had to live with the results. Once it began,
though, there was just no way of keeping it from getting out of control.

In fairness too, the HDO wasn't the only greedy group in Daley's circle of influence. Everyone wanted a piece of the almighty pie and generally got it.

The Chicago Sun-Times and BGA reported today on how Mayor Daley's name turned up in FBI Files regarding embezzler John F. Duff Jr. As the Sun-Times notes: "In the annals of Daley Administration scandals, the name Duff still ranks high." The Duff family won over $100 million in city business. Sadly, that business was won by claiming that they deserved breaks that were set aside for women-owned businesses. Their bogus claims fell apart when James M. Duff Jr. pleaded guilty in 2005 to fraud and racketeering. In all there were some 33 Federal Charges against him.

Richard M. Daley knew the Duffs. He went to their parties and benefited from campaign fund-raisers they held for the mayor. Yet, King Richie II downplayed his associations throughout. Daley would say that their relationship was nothing special, but even as the press would push further he would simply say "I know a lot of people." Yea, that is true alright. Mayor Richard M. Daley knew a lot of people and many of them received preferential treatment when it came to city contracts.

The bottom line is that Richard M. Daley has rewarded "a lot of people" he trusted. Even his own family wasn't immune to receiving insider information that enabled them to profit from taxpayer money. Again, whenever questioned, all residents got was the usual Bridgeport Shrug and a snarky smile.

But, you know, I do have to wonder what his real thoughts are when it comes to his nephew, R.J. Vanecko and the prospect that he may have gotten away with murder? Could it be that Mayor Richard M. Daley just shrugs that one off too while all the evidence suggests that a coverup took place during his tenure? I guess we'll never know where his humanity is on that touchy subject.

While many will look back at Mayor Richard M. Daley's tenure with admiration for his superficial achievements and beautification efforts, but I believe his legacy will forever be associated with the corruption that was allowed to flourish while he was in "total command."

I suppose, though, that he has been very fortunate that we live in a very superficial world. Chicagoans bought the fluff and ignored the reality as to why those city assets had to be sold to stay afloat. And let us not forget too that most of that money is already long gone. Residents should be prepared to pay even more than their fair share after Rahm Emanuel takes over. Any hopes of the new mayor being any different the old one would be foolhardy, especially when they get the bill for Daley's after-office security staff.

Yea, Richard M. Daley could definitely put a smile on a grifters face.

As I see it, It has been one flim-flam after another.


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  • You left out two biggies. Daley was the DA who never noticed Burgh was torturing people who he placed on death row, and then the TIFs took hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars and kept it as his slush fund, all while cutting services and raising taxes to make up the looted shortfall.

  • In reply to Celt:

    You are right Celt, sorry for the oversight on my part as those were egregious acts. Thanks for pointing that out and will add that to my followup post when he rides out of office next week.

  • In reply to Celt:

    After Ryan was convicted, Daley said something about "some are corrupted by power, others by greed..." In both Daleys' case, it was power, as your piece indicates. Again, it was often said that both Daleys were clean while everyone else around them was on the take.

    Also, IIRC, every time someone was convicted, Daley II would stammer something about it being "very sad" but not doing anything about the underlying corruption, including in his own family (except crying that it was mean to somehow associate it with his long dead baby son). Too bad that Blago burned so many bridges that Daley won't be able to say that about him.

    To get to the "corrupted by power" point, Chicagoans have been living with dictatorial rule executed through puppets so long that they do not recognize it any more. I pointed out several instances of this on the CTA Tattler.

  • In reply to jack:

    Well said Jack.

    Blago is/was driven by both power and money, but I suspect it is more about the money. In his world you have to have the money to attain the power whereas with the Daley Family it is about the power and how that ultimately brings back the money.

    Your last comment is interesting; is it that they don't recognize it anymore or is it that so many people are somehow connected to the political money tree? Or is it Apathy? Could it be a combination of both? One thing that I always thought odd was how the uneducated and poor vote in droves for a system they rely on - but get relatively little in return. After all, once the creeps are elected, isn't it always the poor that get shafted first with cuts?

    So while few may pay taxes, if at all, they are still left holding the bag by being kept in abject poverty. And still they buy the promises over and over again. I suppose getting something for nothing is still worth the bother of squandering a vote.

  • In reply to maciric:

    Probably after 22 years, they don't know anything different. At least, that's to what I would attribute the CTA Tattler stuff. No one (at least in the city) cares that the CTA is a mayoral fiefdom, basically created by Richard M. Daley, instead of it actually being an independent municipal corporation by law. Not even his father went that far. Of course, RTA and Metra are no better, with regard to their boards taking any responsibility for anything.

    Apathy, being on the take (as an employee, contractor, government official, or welfare recipient), blind following (such as by Pfleger's and JJSr.'s flocks), or the "dem Republicans are Nazis" viewpoint so often on comment boards and even on Chicago Now probably explain the rest.

    The "few may pay taxes, if at all" point probably explains politics on the state level.

  • In reply to jack:

    The CTA, RTA & Metra are just the tip of the Iceberg. We also have to consider the Metropolitan Water & Reclamation District, McPier / McCormick Place, etc.. The reality is that we have been assaulted by government boards, major and minor, that are nothing more than puppet fronts for powerful politicians. That in turn creates an endless drain on the taxpayer.

    Alas Jack - we are screwed without the satisfaction of even a kiss - that of course is left for the babies when politicians run for office and even that is akin to the Godfather indoctrinating the next batch of suckers.

  • In reply to maciric:

    I often mention, when someone suggests that some other office (say CTA Chairman) should be elected "Do you know who runs for the MWRD or the 200 judges on the retention ballot?"

    Of course, bringing up McPier shows what's wrong with the legislature. Not only do they handpick a guy who failed at the RTA, but they wrote a bill that, as usual, has been held unconstitutional. The state can't take care of labor relations with public employees, which it has the authority to do, but purports to regulate those at McPier, who apparently are private ones. The National Labor Relations Act doesn't authorize that. However, the Tribune Editorial Board can't figure that out.

    Then you have their crusade against the Hospital Board, which apparently can't function because Quinn hasn't appointed replacements for the convicts that used to sit there. Maybe Preckwinkle has enough pull with the General Assembly that she can get that board abolished.

  • In reply to jack:

    Well, as usual you hit it out of the park with your observations and knowledge of how the pieces fit together. You know, Preckwinkle is pretty savvy and has the ability to be a game changer. The big question, though, will she?

    I have sensed mixed messages from her. I suppose it is because she is a product of the very same system she wants to reform and as such therein lies the bigger problem when it comes to initiating meaningful reform. She has already done some smooth moves of her own that make any other action questionable. I don't know, maybe that is just my take with her.

  • In reply to maciric:

    To reply to your 1:21 a.m. one in a little larger space:

    Maybe what sums up both Preckwinkle and the CTA's blurb on Claypool is that both graduated from the U of C, so they aren't dumb, but so far all they have done is tilted with Todd Stroger, who either has a 4th grade education or the IQ of a 4th grader. Todd's certainly not "Smarter than a Fifth Grader" with Jeff Foxworthy.

    However, since both are supposedly from the "clean part" of the Daley apparatus, you are right that we should withhold judgment on them.

  • In reply to jack:

    Jack I think most people would want Preckwinkle to succeed and withholding judgement is the prudent thing to do. I certainly agree that these are not dumb people either, perhaps that is why a foolish move here and there can reverberate the way it does. But aside from a few boners that are reminiscent of Stroger, I will say that some tough decisions have been made thus far too. You just wonder if the apparatus is stacked to the point where real change is near impossible. We'll see I guess.

  • In reply to Celt:

    I still like the funny way he talks. :) I think we're in for a much better spoken and not nearly as entertaining term. Unless you count the "reform."

  • In reply to jtithof:

    That was another thing both Daleys had in common; they were both malapropers, Daddy before the word became common.

  • In reply to jack:

    Funny thing is - they know exactly what they mean when bastardizing the English language. LOL.

  • In reply to jtithof:

    I think the way he talks is a Bridgeport thing - lol.

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