The Mayor who transformed the Windy City
September 14, 2010
Posted by Albert R. Hunt on nytimes.com:
"The Richard-M.-Daley-is-the-greatest-mayor-ever coalition includes Rick Garcia, Marca Bristo and Abner Mikva. That may not seem like such a big deal as they’re all Chicagoans, where Mr. Daley has been mayor for 21 years.
"Last week, he announced he wouldn’t seek re-election next year. By then he will have served longer than his legendary father, Richard J. Daley, who ran the most powerful political machine in the United States. What’s interesting about the accolades heaped on the current, 68-year-old Mayor Daley by these three is the history.
"In the early 1990s, Mr. Garcia, an official at Equality Illinois, a leading gay and lesbian rights organization in Illinois, was arrested following a protest in the mayor’s office; later, angry about Chicago’s policies on gays and lesbians, he shouted down the mayor at a luncheon.
"Today, he says: 'Mayor Daley is the very best on gay and lesbian issues in the entire country. We have unbelievable access and he has been supportive of anything we’ve asked.' Mr. Garcia and others say Mr. Daley changed as he learned more about issues including AIDS funding and discrimination. 'He told me once, ‘We will not allow homophobes to run the city of Chicago,'’ Mr. Garcia says.
... "Whatever its problems, Chicago is a vibrant city, with an involved business community and many elements of society, from blacks to Hispanics to gays to those with disabilities, that now have a greater voice and a greater stake.
"Mr. Daley’s charming wife, Maggie, who has courageously battled cancer for eight years, has been an important partner and, insiders say, has softened her husband.
“'Daley has been such an inclusive mayor,' Mr. Mikva says. 'He’s loved the job, and while his methods weren’t always as smooth as silk, his accomplishments are.'”