Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Chicago without Hizzonerdamare?

A friend and avid reader requested comment on the City of Chicago's upcoming regime change.

First, we congratulate Mayor Richard M. Daley on 21 years of service to the city. We wish him well. Thanks for the memories.

And tax increases. And massive deficits. And more tax increases to cover them. And the lakefront monstrosity that Soldier Field became. And Meigs Field's midnight closure. And the fact that the "Parking meter revenue" line item on the city's balance sheet will show "$0.00" until 2083, barring any change.*

Any alderman has a built-in political base that gives him or her an advantage in the mayor's race over a less-organized candidate. Unfortunately, aldermen are part of the problem that helped us reach this point: the city's horrible financial situation. No thank you, Ald. Burke.

We like Sheriff Tom Dart. But Dart and White House Chief of Staff Rahm "Rahmbo" Emanuel are both Daley guys. So it's possible that during Dart's or Emanuel's term, Hizzonerdamare would still be pulling the strings behind the scenes, or sitting at the controls behind the curtain. Pick your metaphor. Either way, it would hardly be the fresh start the city desperately needs.

That's why we believe the best candidate would be one who comes from Chicago's extensive business community. He would happily sink $5-$10 million of his personal wealth into the race to raise his public profile, create name recognition and get voters and the media talking. Of course, this person could be female, too.

With that much money, this candidate would probably be on a first-name basis with the mayor. But he also would be powerful enough in his own right that he need not heed the mayor's command.

In some ways, Mayor Daley made Chicago better. In others, we will be paying for his mistakes for decades to come. The financial mess is inexcusable. In light of the political hacks we have come to expect running Chicago, we fear for more of the same.

*Change meaning a lawsuit successfully negating the lease or LAZ Parking abandoning it due to decreased profitability.

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