Wednesday, February 24, 2010

We're Ready to Talk When You Are, Mr. Mayor

Posted By on 02.24.10 at 01:30 PM

It has now been 110 days since we at the Reader have requested an interview with Mayor Richard M. Daley. We're still waiting to hear when—or if—it's going to happen.

Over the last several months, other news organizations—including the Chicago Tribune, the Chicago Sun-Times, and Chicago Public Radio—have asked the mayor for comment about our reporting on the parking meter lease deal, the budget, the city's Olympic bid, and the mayor's tax increment financing program during press conferences and in-person interviews. We'd love the chance to ask the mayor about those things ourselves.

Last November 4 I spoke by phone with the mayor's scheduler, Vanessa Hall, about requesting an interview. She asked that I send her an e-mail making the request in writing. I did. I heard nothing back even after following up several times.

In mid-December I let Ms. Hall know that I was assuming the mayor's press office had decided to decline the request and would put that into print. Two minutes later she sent me an e-mail saying she was still working on it.

And still nothing happened. Since the first of the year I've been following up every few days. On February 5 Ms. Hall told me she hoped to have a definitive response by the end of the day. On February 9 she said she hoped to have an answer by the end of the week. She hasn't returned my calls and e-mails since.

Again, I don't want to shoot the messenger—in the instances when Ms. Hall has gotten back to me, she's been very polite in explaining that the mayor is a busy man.

I know that's true. But he manages to find time to sit down with out-of-town reporters and those eager to talk about how eco-friendly Chicago has supposedly become.

Oh, and once every four years when he's up for re-election, Daley grants rounds of ten-minute chats to local media outlets.

Granted, we have as much opportunity as any other reporter to shout questions at the mayor at press conferences. Sometimes he even responds.

But till we get it from the horse's mouth, we'll continue to let the public know when the mayor decides he doesn't need to talk with us about his plans to privatize more taxpayer-owned assets, to raid long-term reserve funds, or to keep budget data secret—just for starters.

In the meantime, Mr. Mayor, we're still waiting. And just so you know, we're available anytime that's good for you.

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