Mayor Daley: 'Every block' is connected

April 15, 2011 10:01:06 AM PDT
Chicago Mayor Richard Daley flipped the switch early Friday morning to start Buckingham Fountain as part of his farewell Neighborhood Tour.

Daley was in Grant Park with seniors from Urban Prep Academy, an all-boys school in Englewood where every senior has been accepted to college.

"That is a great record. We need more charter schools like Urban Prep in this city," Daley said.

Friday's Buckingham Fountain ceremony was Daley's last as mayor of Chicago. His term ends May 16.

"After 22 years walking in the same office, and every year doing many things in the community and to reflect upon the wonderful people of the city of Chicago, and really they've done some great things,people in every community all over. And then in turn, the future is brighter for everyone," Daley said.

Daley has spent the last week on a Neighborhood Tour, a farewell tour visiting each ward in the city.

"It's like a big puzzle. As you put things together in the city, eventually it all connects, every block, every community connects some way. That's what you have to do over 22 years," he said. "I think the whole country is still in a global recession. The world is. Your housing market is down. In America, you went to work and put money in one pocket. In the other pocket, you had a piece of real estate. And you bought it for $100,000 and in ten years it was worth $250,000, 20 years it was worth $500,000. All that money has disappeared in your pocket. You have no value in your homes. The value is so far down. And we don't know where the bottom is. It's simple. Let's not complicate this."

Daley said the dropping value of real estate is hurting everyone and depriving people of their nest eggs.

"That nest egg is gone, and that's the problem. Listen, you have to work hard, management skills, saving money, furloughs, cutting back overtime, just saying we can't do things that we've done in the past because taxpayers are in an economic pinch. They can't just raise taxes on people because people are saying, I don't have enough money," Daley said.

Daley said one of the most fun events he has seen in his years was the first graduating class of Urban Prep.

"This is a great success story. We have to talk about any individual young man that graduated, the teachers, the mentors, it's a charter school. Why can't this happen all over America? This is not about adults. This is about young men who want to succeed in life, and that should be the story. These are the stories I'm happy with," Daley said, referencing the Urban Prep seniors standing behind him.

ABC7 closed the interview with Daley by asking him when he would come by our State Street Studio and wave as he previously promised to do. "Maybe the 16th," Daley said, referring to his last day in office.