Lost in the hoopla surrounding last weekend's International Olympic Committee inspection tour, Mayor Richard M. Daley's big political anniversary went virtually unnoticed. So at an unrelated news conference on Thursday, he seemed almost eager to talk about it.
In the lobby of a newly remodeled El station, the mayor said the past 20 years had sped by like one of the trains rumbling overhead. And even he was surprised the anniversary of his first election as mayor came and went unnoticed last weekend by the media.
"I have thoroughly enjoyed my 20 years as mayor. I really love it. I don't think there's a better job in America," said Daley on Thursday.
April 4, 1989. State's Attorney Richard M. Daley defeats Aldermen Timothy Evans and Ed Vrdolyak to become Chicago's 54th mayor. He called his greatest success since then the improvement of the city's public schools.
"Of all the things I could do for children, if I give them the tools of life at an early age, they have everything going for them," said Daley.
His greatest disappointment? He wouldn't say. But he did lash out at reporters who write things about a mayor he says they don't really know.
"I hope you don't portray me as something I'm not. That's the thing that really bothers me. You know that. I've told you personally," said Daley.
Daley has presided over Chicago's biggest downtown building boom since after the Great Fire. But U.S. Congressman Bobby Rush, a political ally today who unsuccessfully challenged the mayor in 1999, says neighborhoods haven't fared nearly as well under Daley.
"Chicago is becoming a city that's too expense to have live in and that's going to be his downfall," said U.S. Rep. Bobby Rush, (D) Chicago & South Suburbs.
North sider Peter Buol, who met the mayor for the first time on Thursday morning, said people trust the Daley.
"I think people know he's not looking to go anywhere else in terms of using the office as a stepping stone to governor or president," said Buol.
As for City Hall corruption during his two decades of power, Daley brushed it off as a fact of life.
"It's happening every day in the private sector. Even in your business. You see it every day. And so that doesn't mar me personally," said Daley.
And why hasn't the man time magazine once called America's best big city mayor ever written a book?
"People start writing books. I don't know how they do it because you have to do your job. Why should I be writing a book, you should go and do your job and too many people sit there writing books as public officials instead of doing their job," said Daley.
On Thursday morning, Daley gave no indication he planned to retire any time soon. He'll be 67 years old on April 24.Daley said the people are the ultimate decision makers on a politicians future. You get the feeling he's going try to be mayor for as long as he's physically able. He says he loves the job.
Daley also says he wants his legacy to be that he was a good father. He said nothing about politics.