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Daley's Departure Inspires Corporate Anxiety

By Kevin Robinson in News on Sep 14, 2010 5:20PM

Mayor Daley's announcement last week that he would not seek re-election unleashed an orgy of speculation and vanity in both the media and the local political worlds. And while those in the city that watch these things are wrapped up in questions of who might run, how and why, Chicago's business is wringing its collective hands over both the uncertainty of who the new mayor might be, and the loss of their friend in City Hall.

It seems like every day brings a new article in Crain's Chicago Business about how the local corporate community has lost its best friend, and how each potential candidate isn't really as snuggly with them as Daley was. “None I've seen on any list are any who've had regular or strong interaction with the business community,” says Mesirow Financial chair and CEO James Tyree, told Crain's. “The business community has a long and important discovery process ahead of it.” And citing Daley's efforts to make Chicago hospitable for big business, Douglas Whitley, CEO of the Illinois Chamber of Commerce lamented the loss of stability that Daley's retirement brings. “The biggest advantage that Mayor Daley had with the business community was confidence and stability,” Whitley said. “The biggest issue going forward is a lack of confidence and stability.”

Perhaps most telling, however, is an article that ran on Monday, wondering, now that Daley's taking his clout and going home, who's "back to scratch?" “There's a certain assumption you make, especially given the longevity of Mayor Daley's tenure—you really don't think the guy's ever going to leave,” Dana Levenson, the city's former chief financial officer from 2004 to 2007 and now a managing director at Royal Bank of Scotland's infrastructure group, mused. “Working for the city of Chicago is the equivalent of working for GE. It's been very stable.”