I don't know how many years the Caesars ran Rome. The Daleys ran Chicago for 55-plus years. First was Richard J., the current mayor's father, from 1955 until he died in office in 1976, then Richard M. from 1989 until, as he announced yesterday, his term ends in 2011. The day after Christmas this year he will become the longest-serving mayor in the city's history, surpassing his father.
"Simply put," the Daley nicknamed Mayor for Life said Tuesday, "it's time. Time for me. And time for Chicago to move on." Well, I don't know. The City of the Big Shoulders, as Carl Sandberg once called it, has worked pretty well under the Daleys. "The City That Works" is, in fact, another of its nicknames.
It's grown, prospered. When all the cities were having riots in the 60s, Chicago did too, but it never reached the town's biggest ghetto on the South Side. It could have been much worse.
It's always had great art, great music--jazz, blues and symphony. Always been a great restaurant town. Sports? Well, Michael Jordan's Bulls were pretty great. The Bears have had some great football years. Baseball? Well, no, the Cubs haven't won the World Series since 1908. Hey, nobody's perfect. And they've got that great Great Lake...and Oprah.
Fortunately, there's a likely candidate for mayor who'd probably keep all that going--White House chief of staff Rahm Emmanuel, who has said he'd like the job one day. He may not be old enough to remember, as I do, party guys delivering turkeys to poor families at Thanksgiving, but he's a machine guy. He gets it.
I hope he runs. He might even be able to do something about the Cubs. Okay, okay, I can still dream, can't I?