Daley begins farewell tour of Chicago

April 7, 2011 4:34:21 PM PDT
Mayor Richard Daley began a farewell tour of Chicago Thursday to thank Chicagoans for their help in moving the city forward.

For the next six weeks, Daley will visit neighborhoods throughout the city. In addition to thanking residents, he is expected to cite the accomplishments of his administration.

"I firmly believe the city is better off. We have a good foundation. It's been a joy and honor to be your mayor," said Daley.

Chicago's longest-serving mayor began in the 27th Ward where a renaissance has occurred during his 22 years in office.

West Loop neighborhoods, once called Skid Row, are bursting with new condominiums. Townhomes have replaced some of the worst housing projects in America, and world-renowned entertainment venues as well as large and small businesses have boomed.

"You bring him a vision, he sees it, he likes it, he goes along with it and he signs off on it," said Ald. Walter Burnett, 27th Ward.

The mayor refuted the suggestion he accomplished so much by dominating the City Council.

"You have to have the leadership, you have to have leadership. And, you media, you don't like leadership. You want weak people," he said provoking laughter.

Daley was asked if he had advice for Mayor-elect Rahm Emanuel and the incoming aldermen.

"Move the agenda forward and not keep debating things over and over," Daley said.

Emanuel who accompanied Daley at the White Sox opener Thursday will face budget deficits in the hundreds of millions of dollars and must work with a relatively inexperienced council.

Veteran alderman Pat O'Connor of the 40th Ward said Emanuel should at least be as strong or perhaps a stronger mayor than Daley.

"I don't think anybody is a mayor of Chicago who doesn't have the ability to be strong and tough, because that's what it takes to be mayor of one the best cities in the country," said O' Connor.

In what could be his last ceremonial act in the 27th Ward, the mayor cut the ribbon dedicating the Near West Side's rehabilitated Women's Treatment Center. As he is likely to repeat at all the stops on his farewell tour, the master politician does not want to be remembered as one.

"It was a great honor to be a public servant. I'm a public servant. I'm not an entitled servant. I work for you," Daley said.

Mayor Daley's farewell tour will continue up until a few days before his last day in office scheduled for May 16.

The mayor's PR people carefully chose the 27th Ward to begin the tour. The area from Cabrini Green to the West Loop has changed perhaps more than any other part of the city during the past 22 years.