Daley presides over last council meeting

May 4, 2011 4:19:37 PM PDT
Mayor Richard Daley got a standing ovation from Chicago's aldermen as he presided over his last City Council meeting Wednesday.

"This is the greatest job in America. I don't care what anyone tells me," Daley said.

The mayor arrived in the council ante room nearly an hour before the meeting to share a huge buffet breakfast with old friends. Joined by his son Patrick and daughter Nora, he admitted that as the end of his long public life draws near it is emotional.

"You know, 22 years as mayor and 32 years, with 10 years as state's attorney, you think seven days a week, it is a lot of time and effort," said Daley.

The resolution honoring Chicago's longest-serving mayor consumed the next three hours. Most of the 50 alderman used their five minutes to sum up Daley's six terms.

"You've been fair, you've been strong, you've been effective," said Ald. Ed Burke, 14th Ward. Alderman Burke also noted that rarely in Chicago history has a mayor left office voluntarily.

"I want to thank you, mayor, for the 16 years of tutelage I have had to learn under you," said Ald. Carrie Austin, 34th Ward.

"Mr. Mayor, it has been a privilege and an honor to serve you. God bless you and and your family," said Ald. Danny Solis, 25th Ward.

By ABC7's count, only three present aldermen did not speak to the resolution. The 21st Ward's Howard Brookins, a Daley critic, eventually did but considered remaining silent.

"He does some great things. We've had our differences, but those differences have been based on the community that I represent," said Brookins.

Alderman Scott Waguespack of 32nd Ward wished Daley well during breakfast. But on the council floor the frequent Daley critic would not speak to the resolution.

"I'm not one to sit up there and make speeches. I tried to make sure our differences are resolved behind the scenes," said Waguespack.

At his final post meeting news conference, Daley dispelled any notion of a long-running war with the press.

"Nothing is ever personal to me. Nothing at all. I'm in the most successful city in America," he said.

And while dealing with the emotions of leaving a job he's loved and performed passionately for two decades, the mayor continues to deal with his wife's illness. The cancer patient remains in Northwestern Hospital for treatment of what her doctors call non-oncology related, flu-like symptoms.

"She's feeling much better...she's been in the hospital for a number of tests, which is really good," said Daley.

Daley did not reveal his post-mayoral plan, but he said whatever he does, he'll do it with the same passion that he approaches his current job.

"You have to have passion whatever you do in life. If you don't enjoy it, don't do it," said Daley.

The mayor would not comment recent appointments by Mayor-elect Rahm Emanuel or anything having to do with the transition. He will become a private citizen on May 16.