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Daley's Loss of Influence

By Amy Hart in News on Jan 6, 2006 5:25PM


Today the New York Times published an article detailing Mayor Daley’ recent corruption woes and the resulting decrease in power and influence he has over those serving in the City Council:

Though Mr. Daley is still widely praised for revitalizing the city's public schools and rejuvenating downtown, dissenters who used to be quickly drowned out have, in the scandal's wake, found some traction in the City Council.

An ordinance to ban smoking in restaurants, opposed by the mayor and his business allies, passed in December. During recent hearings on the budget, members of the Council stepped up criticism of the mayor's department heads.

"Some of that bashing would not have happened five years ago," said Alderman Ricardo Munoz, who has spent the past 13 years as one of the mayor's few detractors on the Council. "Five years ago, we would have never gotten a hearing on the smoke-free Chicago ordinance."

Alderman Joe Moore, another outspoken Daley opponent, said his colleagues were "just much more cantankerous, more willing to challenge administration officials" these days.

Latino City Council members are certainly speaking out about the sudden resignation of City Human Services Commissioner Carmelo Vargas, who said he was leaving to “do something else -- maybe enjoy the world, go on vacation.” Vargas spent almost two decades working for Department of Human Services and was recently accused of sexual harassment. Aldermen Ariel Reboyras (30th), Billy Ocasio (26th), and Ricardo Munoz (22nd) think the whole thing sounds a little fishy and that Vargas was set up and pushed out by someone in the administration. They also criticized Daley for a perceived lack of Hispanics in high posts.

Getting back to the New York Times article (you should just read the whole thing), it goes on to question Daley’s prospects for remaining “Mayor for Life” and the possibility that Jesse Jackson Jr. might play in bringing Daley’s reign to an end:

Mr. Jackson described Mr. Daley's Chicago as "a tale of two cities": the sparkling lakefront downtown and growing North Side neighborhoods that "boast three jobs for every one person," and the South Side sections he represents, "where there are nearly 60 people for every one job."

"The mayor himself is an institution; he is the personification of Chicago," Mr. [Jesse] Jackson [Jr.] said. "Changing the mayor of Chicago is like changing Chicago. A lot of people don't want corruption, but they don't want to change the city of Chicago."

Unfortunately, no other mayoral prospects were interviewed for the piece, but Chicagoist thinks Jackson captured a popular sentiment. So what do you think? Is Daley integral to our Chicago? Or do you think somebody else would better serve the city?