Meanwhile, there's a city to run | Bleader

Friday, October 2, 2009

Meanwhile, there's a city to run

Posted By on 10.02.09 at 02:17 PM

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Congressman Mike Quigley has never been a Daley yes man, and even the carefully worded statement he issued after the Olympics defeat sounded to me like a challenge to the mayor:

“Chicago was a world-class city before today’s decision, and Chicago will be a world-class city tomorrow. Although disappointment hangs in the air, this is not the time for regret, but rather to see opportunity in the incredible work that was done across Chicago over the past months.

"We now have the chance to move forward, free of the demands of the IOC, but equipped with plans that can address the real problems Chicagoans face on a daily basis. Chicago is now armed with an organizing capability never seen before, and an opportunity to continue the momentum and create better schools, more efficient transportation, and safer streets."

Here's my translation:

"Mr. Mayor, it's too bad Chicago didn't win the games, but if you can twist enough arms to get everybody in town with money or power to go along with your Olympics dream, it's reasonable to think you can start working on our broken school system, which loses half its kids before they graduate, our public transit system, which is in desperate need of investment, and our staggering rate of violence, which leaves youth afraid to walk to class and even adults thinking of leaving for the suburbs."

If that's what you meant, congressman, thanks. Because it needs to be said.

Depending on who you ask, Mayor Daley is the guy who keeps Chicago from turning into Detroit, the guy who's made "Chicago politics" a smear around the world, the green mayor, the greenwashing mayor, a political mastermind, or the "petty tyrant" I recently heard an alderman call him.

Of course, that alderman supported all of the mayor's Olympics plans. Of course, all of the aldermen supported all of the mayor's Olympics plans.

Which is the point here: whatever anybody thinks of Richard M. Daley, he is the one person capable of getting damn near everyone in Chicago on board with an issue. It doesn't make for a healthy democratic process, but it's what we're stuck with for now. So it's time to let the mayor know that if he wants a capstone for his career, he could ensure it by declaring next week that he's keeping the Chicago 2016 committee together and that its mission will be to find ways in the next seven years to create jobs, invest in infrastructure, and build a legacy of public safety.

That possibility isn't the only good thing to come out of the Olympic bid process. By spurning Chicago, the International Olympic Committee has issued a reminder to everyone here that even Mayor Daley can be told no. If he doesn't wield his clout to address some of Chicago's grave problems by the time he's up for re-election in February 2011, I hope voters here will tell him again.

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