The 10th blogiversary fundraiser continues with 2011: Trench Warfare.
In 2011, the Daley Era ended in Chicago.
The Machine, however, still rolls merrily along.
Sun Sets on the Bridgeport Empire: Finale
The corrupt dealings and authoritarian follies of Da Mare's long rule has provided Chicago writers with a treasure trove of material over the years. because however often the bureaucratic deck chairs were reshuffled (about every 18 months) and however much good was done (a lot), under the hood the instrumentalities of Chicago Cityguv always operated according to two imperatives:
1. Eliminate all potential rivals to Richard M. Daley.
2. Keep the Clout Club intact.
Obedience to these directives inevitably resulted in an Administration characterized by both a high-handed dictatorial approach to government, and a strain of malignant neglect that Da Mare allowed to spread throughout his political domain.
Splashy headline-generating promises were routinely made to about the Great No-Cost/Low-Cost Things that were going to be entrepreneurially unleashed for da good people of da city a' Chicago dat we all love so much...
that were later quietly reneged upon in private ("Wireless Perversity In Chicago").
Regulations ostentatiously unveiled to show how reformed and squeaky-clean and not-at-all-like-the-bad-old-days-of-two-weeks-ago things were now...were publicly broken without so much as a peep from the press ("The First Rule of Clout Club").
Public assets were frantically sold off at pawn-shop prices to provide Hizzoner with enough quick cash to prop up the Final Days of his administration...after which all those lovely, lavish assurances about how the proceeds would be carefully set aside as a rainy-day fund were promptly ignored once Daley got his hands on the dough ("The Clout Burglars").
These were the sorts of things about which some of us -- too damn few of us -- ot up in Hizzoner grill about over the years.
Did he care?
I mean, yes, Richie Daley was a bully -- charming as long as he got 100% of his way 100% of the time, but with a mile-wide vengeful streak in him and skin thin enough to read the fine print on a dodgy, nephew-enriching leasing deal through ("Layoffs, Nephews and Da Family Bidness")..on a moonless night...under a bridge -- but with a supine press at his feet, the tremendous machineries of the Chicago, Cook County and State governments at his command, a government press corps at his beck and call (including full-time Public Information Officers and Shakman-exempt [did you even know there was such a thing?] political enforcers at the elbow of every city commissioner and director), friends operating at the highest levels of Communist China
(never thought I'd live long enough to construct that sentence), the White House on speed-dial and his brother literally behind the throne, and virtually every civic, charitable and commercial board in the city stacked high with still-loyal formers executives and chiefs of staff...there was never any real chance of serious opposition to his Imperial reign.
Which did not relieve us from the moral obligation to speak out.
And now it is over -- a mayoralty never to be repeated or surpassed
in longevity, reach or power, that leaves behind it a demoralized and exhausted government that is heading off a financial cliff
("Nothing Left to Steal").
And as the Age of R2D2 passes into history, I cannot help but recall how Hizzoner used to handle the shouters who routinely showed up at the city's public budget hearings and demanded answers from Himself.
Da Mare and his crew -- as was his custom -- would sit there stone-faced and let whoever it was yell for his or her allotted two minutes or longer. Then, as the troublemaker's jeremiad started to run long (or as they were escorted away from the microphone) every once in a while Daley would lean into his own mic and drown them out by loudly repeating "Go wit God. Go wit God." until they were well out of earshot.
And so, in that spirit, go wit God, Mr. Mayor.
Go wit God.