September 5, 2010
Daley to Step Down
Announces decision not to run again in 2011
Chicago, IL – Today Chicago's Mayor Richard M. Daley announced his intention to step down at the end of his term in 2011. He has served as Chicago's mayor since 1989. (Chicago Tribune, Chicago Sun-Times)
Daley, whose popularity peaked in 2003 and started a long downward slide since his midnight raid on Meigs Field, faced perhaps the biggest election challenge of his career. A poll by the Chicago Tribune in July found that over half of Chicago voters said they did not want to see Daley re-elected in 2011. However--as is his standard procedure--Daley had inhibited all other viable candidates from running.
Despite Daley's sagging popularity, today's announcement comes as something of a surprise. It is expected that a significant number of candidates may decide to throw their hats into the ring. Names that have been mentioned in the past include Rahm Emanuel, President Obama's chief of staff, Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr., and Rep. Luis Gutierrez.
While it is a long shot, the topic of Meigs Field may become a hot one during the campaign. It is believed that Daley would never consider reopening Meigs Field and thereby admitting his error that has cost the city so much in traffic and economic impact. However, other candidates may point to the Meigs closure as bad for the city, and look for ways to recapture the lost revenue, jobs, and economic activity that was lost when Meigs was destroyed. Likewise, there still is no valid downtown business heliport over seven years after Meigs' closure.
Recall that--with the loss of his 2016 Olympic bid--Daley had no alternate plan for the Meigs site, and no money to implement one if he had it. The property is still basically empty; grass, small trees, bushes, a bike path, and a temporary concert venue are all that exist on the property. Even the old control tower still stands, and the terminal building is still in use (though far less than when it was an airport.)
Friends of Meigs expect that Daley will attempt to put some kind of plan for the Meigs property in place, to cement his misguided legacy, but bear in mind that there are few excess funds available, that the city and Park District have had to cut expenditures, and that they are having trouble even fielding a full complement of police on a daily basis.
Stay tuned...it should be an interesting fall.
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