WBEZ | mayors http://www.wbez.org/tags/mayors Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en 12-20-1976: Mayor Daley dies http://www.wbez.org/blogs/john-r-schmidt/2012-12/12-20-1976-mayor-daley-dies-104401 <p><p>This was the Monday before Christmas, the last day before winter, and it was cold in Chicago. A few minutes past two in the afternoon, police began blocking off the streets near Michigan and Chestnut. An ambulance had just arrived. Something big was happening.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/12-20--Richard%20J.%20Daley.jpg" style="width: 250px; height: 328px; float: right;" title="Mayor Richard J. Daley (City of Chicago)" />On the second floor of the building at 900 North Michigan Avenue, Richard J. Daley was dying.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">Daley was 74 years old, in his 21st year as Mayor of Chicago. He&rsquo;d been having chest pains over the weekend, and had made an appointment with his doctor. That&rsquo;s where he was now.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">The doctor had examined Daley. You have to be admitted to the hospital immediately, he&rsquo;d told Daley. The mayor had phoned one of his sons. Then, while the doctor was busy making hospital arrangements, the mayor had collapsed.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">So now came the paramedics. Now came the police to set up the barricades. Now came the Daley family. Now came the reporters, and the curious public.&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">At 3:50 p.m., the mayor was dead.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">The news spread swiftly. There was shock and disbelief. Sure, Daley had been sick before. And like everyone else, he was going to die someday. But now? Why now? And what was going to happen to our city? It felt like Chicago had suddenly become an orphan.<div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/12-20--Daley Memorial Book.jpg" style="width: 250px; height: 361px; float: left;" title="Daley Memorial Book (author's collection)" /></div></div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">The wake was held at the parish church in Bridgeport the next day. As mayor and Democrat Party leader, Daley had gone to hundreds of wakes. Now his citizens were returning the favor. The doors at Nativity of Our Lord stayed open all night as 100,000 people filed past the open coffin.</div><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">Jimmy Carter, president-elect, came for the funeral Mass. So did Vice President Rockefeller, Sen. Ted Kennedy, and other men of power. Then Daley left Chicago for the last time, to be buried in the family plot at Holy Sepulchre in Alsip.&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">Many plans were made to honor Daley. Some wanted to rename Western Avenue &ndash; the city&rsquo;s longest street &ndash; after the city&rsquo;s longest-serving mayor. An unincorporated village talked of incorporating as Daley, Ill. There was a proposal that a 25-foot statue of the late mayor be erected in the Civic Center plaza. In time, the actual memorials would be more modest.&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&quot;Mayor Daley.&rdquo; The phrase had become so common, so indivisible. A ten-year-old boy was said to have asked his father, &ldquo;Who&rsquo;s going to be the mayordaley now?&rdquo;&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">One man died, but Chicago lived on. And eventually got a mayordaley named Daley.</div></div><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Thu, 20 Dec 2012 05:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/john-r-schmidt/2012-12/12-20-1976-mayor-daley-dies-104401 Plaque to the future http://www.wbez.org/blogs/john-r-schmidt/2012-07/plaque-future-100298 <p><p>I have a confession to make. I read plaques.</p><p>I like to think it&rsquo;s because I&rsquo;m a historian. That&rsquo;s better than saying I have an obsessive personality.</p><p>I do know that, when my kids were growing up, it drove them crazy that Dad was always stopping to read what someone had posted in bronze on the side of a bridge or public building or roadside rest stop. Now that my son and daughter are grown, I only drive my wife crazy.</p><p>My subject today is two downtown bridge plaques. The first is on the Columbus Drive Bridge. The key bit of information here is that when the bridge opened in 1982, Jane Byrne was mayor of Chicago.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/00--Byrne%20Plaque.JPG" title=" " /></div><p>I remember Jane Byrne&rsquo;s mayoralty vividly, and I would guess that other Chicagoans my age do, too. Yet an otherwise-knowledgeable local 28-year-old recently asked me, &ldquo;Who was Jane Byrne?&rdquo;</p><p>Chicago&rsquo;s first female mayor? Conqueror of the old Daley Machine? To many in the younger generation, she is just a name on a bridge plaque &mdash; which few people bother to notice.</p><p>Now for the second plaque. This one is on the Clark Street Bridge. No, not the big one. The little one under it.</p><p>In 1931, Big Bill Thompson was running for re-election as mayor. Meanwhile, the new bridge over the river at Clark Street was under construction. Even though the work was still in progress, Thompson had his plaque put on the bridge. Show the voters what Big Bill was building for them!</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/00--Clark%20Street%20Bridge.JPG" title="Dueling plaques on the Clark Street Bridge" /></div><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/07-03--Clark%20Bridge%20Plaque%2002.JPG" title="Closeup of the bottom plaque--'Hey! I was mayor, too!'" /></div></div></div><p>Thompson lost the election to Anton Cermak. When the bridge was finished later that year, the new mayor made sure he could claim some of the credit with his own mini-plaque. It&#39;s really sort of ridiculous, and has always reminded me of a &ldquo;P.S.&rdquo; at the end of a long letter.</p><p>The point of today&#39;s post is that we should all take public plaques seriously. Well, maybe not <em><u>seriously</u></em>. Still, for anyone interested in history, they are a neglected window into the past. So from time to time, I&rsquo;ll be visiting some Chicago-area plaques.</p><p>I&rsquo;m on the Board of Trustees of the Park Ridge Public Library. When the voters rejected a plan to build a new library, one of my colleagues joked that we&rsquo;d lost our opportunity to be immortalized on a plaque.</p><p>Is that what politicians are thinking when they propose some massive public works project? I don&rsquo;t know. But we will be reading those plaques here, anyway. &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;</p></p> Tue, 17 Jul 2012 06:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/john-r-schmidt/2012-07/plaque-future-100298 Big Bill's rat show http://www.wbez.org/blogs/john-r-schmidt/2012-04/big-bills-rat-show-97837 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/big bill thompson_schmidt.jpg" alt="" /><p><div><p>Political campaigns aren't what they used to be. Consider what happened in Chicago on this April 6th in 1926.</p><p>The Republican U.S. Senate primary was a week away. Incumbent W.B. McKinley was being challenged by Frank L. Smith. McKinley was supported by most of the party elite, including Fred Lundin. Lundin was a political strategist and power broker, a sort of a 1920s Karl Rove.</p><p>Smith was backed by former Chicago mayor William Hale Thompson–Big Bill. Thompson was looking forward to 1927, when he could try to get his old job back. But Lundin was grooming another candidate for mayor, Dr. John Dill Robertson. That was more important to Big Bill than any Senate race.</p><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/04-06--Big%20Bill%20campaigning.jpg" title="Big Bill Thompson campaigning (Chicago Daily News)"></div><p>The Smith campaign held a rally at the Cort Theatre in the Loop. When it was Big Bill’s turn to speak, he walked on stage carrying a cage, and set the cage on a table. In the cage were two rats.</p><p>Thompson pointed at one of the rats. “This one is Doc,” he told the packed house. “I can tell him because he hasn’t had a bath in twenty years. But we did wash him, and he doesn’t smell like a billy goat any longer.”</p><p>The crowd gasped–then laughed, then cheered. “Go on! Go on!” they shouted.</p><p>Thompson pointed to the other rat. “Don’t hang your head, Fred,” he said. “Wasn’t I the best friend you ever had? Isn’t it true I came home from Honolulu to save you from the penitentiary?”</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/04-06--Lundin.jpg" style="float: left; margin: 5px;" title="Fred Lundin (author's collection)">He went on this way for a half hour. The audience loved it. Big Bill told them he’d always lived up to the cowboy code, but that Lundin had double-crossed him. Lundin had a Jekyll and Hyde personality. “When he was associated with me, the best in him came to the surface,” Thompson said. “Since then he has been only evil.”</div><p>Big Bill concluded his performance by telling the crowd that he’d planned to bring six rats–”but Fred and Doc ate up the other four.” That brought down the house.</p><p>Big Bill’s Rat Show became national news. Smith upset McKinley in the primary, and later won the general election. But because of various irregularities, the U.S. Senate refused to seat Smith.</p><p>That didn’t seem to bother Big Bill Thompson too much. In 1927 he completed his comeback, and was again elected Mayor of Chicago.</p><p>No, political campaigns aren't what they used to be.</p></div><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Fri, 06 Apr 2012 06:27:02 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/john-r-schmidt/2012-04/big-bills-rat-show-97837 Richard J. Daley: Republican http://www.wbez.org/blog/john-r-schmidt/2012-03-20/richard-j-daley-republican-97168 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/photo/2012-March/2012-03-15/daley _chicago daily news.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>It's primary day in Illinois!</p><p><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2012-March/2012-03-11/03-20--Young Daley.jpg" style="width: 188px; height: 300px; float: left; margin: 5px;" title="Young Mr. Daley (Chicago Daily News)">And with politics on our minds, we look back at the strange events of an election day in 1936. On November 3 that year, Richard J. Daley--future Democratic boss, future mayor, future father of a future mayor--was elected to his first political office . . . as a Republican.</p><p>The election was for the Illinois House of Representatives from the 9th District. In 1936 the state was divided into 51 legislative districts. Each district sent three reps to the House.</p><p>The two major parties had a cozy arrangement then. In each of those 51 districts, the Democrats would run no more than two candidates, and the Republicans would run no more than two candidates. That way, whichever party wound up in the minority would get at least one-third of the total seats.</p><p>The 9th District was the area around Bridgeport, heavily Democrat. David Shanahan had held the 9th's "Republican" seat without much effort since 1894. Fifteen days before the 1936 election, Shanahan died.</p><p>Shanahan was the only Republican who had filed in the district. His name was on the ballot, and it was too late to print new ballots. So the Republicans picked Robert E. Rogers as a replacement candidate, and organized a write-in campaign.</p><p><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2012-March/2012-03-11/03-20--State Rep Shanahan.jpg" style="width: 206px; height: 300px; margin: 5px; float: left;" title="The late Representative Shanahan (Chicago Daily News)">With Shanahan dead, the Democrat leadership felt free to mount their own write-in campaign for the Republican slot. Their candidate was County Treasurer Joe Gill's 34-year-old private secretary. That was Richard Joseph Daley.</p><p>The Republicans screamed that the "gentlemen's agreement" was being violated. But there wasn't much they could do about it.</p><p>On November 3, 1936 President Franklin D. Roosevelt won a second term in a landslide. The Democrats were triumphant almost everywhere.</p><p>Buried among the returns were the write-in votes from the Illinois 9th. Daley outpaced Rogers, 8539 to 3321. The <em>Tribune</em> noted that even though he'd been elected as a Republican, "it is understood that Daley will caucus with the Democrats."</p><p>When the Illinois House convened the next January, the Democrats offered a resolution asking that Daley be seated on their side of the aisle. The Republicans were still angry about how they'd been out-maneuvered.</p><p>"I don't care about the resolution!" the Republican leader shouted. "I want to know where Representative Daley wants to sit! Where do you want to sit, Representative Daley?"</p><p>The rookie rep pointed to the Democrat side of the chamber and softly said, "There." Then he walked over to join his new colleagues, and never looked back.</p></p> Tue, 20 Mar 2012 12:15:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blog/john-r-schmidt/2012-03-20/richard-j-daley-republican-97168 Happy 150th Birthday, Mayor Dever! http://www.wbez.org/blog/john-r-schmidt/2012-03-13/happy-150th-birthday-mayor-dever-97242 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/photo/2012-March/2012-03-13/mayor dever.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2012-March/2012-03-13/03-13--Dever.jpg" style="width: 350px; height: 366px; margin: 5px; float: left;" title="Former Chicago Mayor William E. Dever (collection of John R. Schmidt)">Today is the birthday of William E. Dever, Chicago's mayor from 1923 through 1927. It's not only his birthday, it's his Sesquicentennial. He was born 150 years ago today--March 13, 1862.</p><p>I wrote my doctoral dissertation on Mayor Dever. It was later published as a book, <em>The Mayor Who Cleaned Up Chicago</em>. More than twenty years later, the book is still in print. (Mainly because the first edition never sold out; that can happen with academic works.)</p><p>Why bother with an obscure, one-term mayor? I've already gone into that, and you can read the post <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blog/john-r-schmidt/2011-10-03/william-e-dever-mayor-who-cleaned-chicago-92024">here</a>.</p><p>I don't think the city is planning a special Dever Sesquicentennial celebration. As for me, I'm going to have a beer in honor of my man Dever. That's probably the most appropriate way to honor this particular honest politician.</p></p> Tue, 13 Mar 2012 14:31:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blog/john-r-schmidt/2012-03-13/happy-150th-birthday-mayor-dever-97242 Suburban mayors assess impact of city and county budgets for their residents http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-11-01/suburban-mayors-assess-costs-city-and-county-budgets-their-residents-936 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/segment/photo/2011-November/2011-11-01/6058497460_1ea0a0fb44_b.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>The latest budgets from the <a href="http://www.cityofchicago.org/city/en.html">City of Chicago</a> and <a href="http://blog.cookcountygov.com/" target="_blank">Cook County</a> proposed challenging cuts along with new taxes and fees. Both put the squeeze on Chicago’s suburban neighbors in a number of ways.</p><p><a href="http://www.cityofchicago.org/content/city/en/depts/mayor.html" target="_blank">Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s</a> city budget suggested a 3-year water rate increase to pay for Chicago’s aging infrastructure, which would hit suburbs that buy water from the city. Meanwhile <a href="http://www.cookcountygov.com/portal/server.pt/gateway/PTARGS_0_0_336_226_0_43/http%3B/www.cookcountygov.com/ccWeb.Leadership/LeadershipProfile.aspx?commiss_id=406" target="_blank">Cook County President Toni Preckwinkle</a> wanted residents of unincorporated areas to pay for county police services.</p><p>Edward Zabrocki, mayor of south suburban <a href="http://www.tinleypark.org/" target="_blank">Tinley Park</a>, and Gerald Turry, mayor of north suburban <a href="http://www.lincolnwoodil.org/" target="_blank">Lincolnwood</a>, joined<em> Eight Forty-Eight</em> to discuss the suburban reaction to the city and county budgets.</p></p> Tue, 01 Nov 2011 13:45:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-11-01/suburban-mayors-assess-costs-city-and-county-budgets-their-residents-936 October 28, 1893: The murder of Chicago Mayor Carter Harrison http://www.wbez.org/blog/john-r-schmidt/2011-10-28/october-28-1893-murder-chicago-mayor-carter-harrison-93519 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/photo/2011-October/2011-10-28/worlds-columbian-exposition.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>The great Columbian Exposition was drawing to a close on October 28, 1893. The eyes of the world had been on Chicago, and the city was feeling proud. Then came the terrible news--Mayor Harrison had been killed by an assassin.</p><p>Carter Henry Harrison belonged to a distinguished family that had given the country two presidents. In 1855 he arrived at Chicago as a young lawyer. He was active in the Democratic Party and served two terms in Congress. In 1879 he was elected mayor of the city.</p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-October/2011-10-26/10-28--Carter Harrison.jpg" style="width: 274px; height: 385px;" title=""></p><p>Harrison was a popular, accessible mayor. He often rode through the streets on a white horse, greeting his constituents. After serving four two-year terms, he retired. But when Chicago was chosen as the site for the Columbian world's fair, he ran for mayor once again, and was elected to a fifth term in 1893.</p><p>On this evening, Harrison had returned to his Ashland Boulevard home after a long day at the fair, and was napping in a back bedroom. Around 8 p.m. a man named Eugene Prendergast appeared at the front door, asking to see the mayor. The maid thought she recognized Prendergast and let him in.</p><p>A few minutes afterward the servants heard loud voices, then three shots. They rushed toward the sound and found Harrison lying wounded on the floor. Prendergast was gone.</p><p>The mayor died within twenty minutes. A short time later, Prendergast turned himself in to police. He admitted the crime. His motive? Harrison had refused to appoint Prendergast as the city's Corporation Counsel.</p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-October/2011-10-26/10-28--Harrison mansion.jpg" style="width: 474px; height: 337px;" title="Crowds outside Harrison's home the day after"></p><p>Chicago was plunged into grief. The closing ceremonies at the Columbian Exposition were converted into a memorial for the fallen mayor. Prendergast was quickly brought to trial, convicted of murder, and sentenced to death.</p><p>Prendergast's brother appealed the sentence, saying that Eugene was insane. The attorney for the appeal was not-yet-famous Clarence Darrow. It was Darrow's first murder case--and the only one he ever lost to the executioner. The appeal was denied, and Eugene Prendergast was hanged on July 13, 1894.</p><p>Four years after Harrison's murder, his son--also named Carter Harrison--became mayor of Chicago. Like his father, the younger Harrison would be elected to the office five times.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Fri, 28 Oct 2011 12:15:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blog/john-r-schmidt/2011-10-28/october-28-1893-murder-chicago-mayor-carter-harrison-93519 Before Rahm: Chicago mayors, fit and unfit http://www.wbez.org/blog/john-r-schmidt/2011-09-19/rahm-chicago-mayors-fit-and-unfit-92086 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/photo/2011-September/2011-09-19/themayer.jpg" alt="" /><p><p style="margin-left: 40px;">"You may say I may be unfit to be mayor, but you can never say I'm an unfit mayor."&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p style="margin-left: 120px;">--Rahm Emanuel</p><p>Triathlete Rahm is probably the most physically-fit mayor that Chicago has ever had. Just for fun, let's take a look at the last century of his predecessors, and see how they measure up.</p><p>In 1911 Fred Busse was completing his single term as mayor. Busse had been a saloon-keeper and was built along the lines of a beer keg--he was fondly known as Fat Freddie. He died at 48.</p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-September/2011-09-16/09-19--Busse.jpg" style="width: 196px; height: 300px;" title="Fred Busse"></p><p>Busse was succeeded by Carter Harrison Jr., returning for a fifth term on the fifth floor of City Hall. I never thought of Harrison as portly, until I ran across the accompanying picture. In any case, Harrison lived to be 93.</p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://www.wbez.org/sites/default/files/blog/insert-image/2011-September/2011-09-16/09-19--Harrison%20-%20Copy%20%282%29_0.jpg" title="Carter Harrison Jr." width="179" height="300"></p><p>From 1915 to 1931 the city had three terms of William Hale Thompson, sandwiched around one term of William Emmett Dever. This picture from Thompson's first campaign shows him when he was still trim and in fighting shape, before all the political dinners expanded his waistline. As for Dever, his body-type could best be described as "chunky."</p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-September/2011-09-16/09-19--Thompson.jpg" title="Big Bill Thompson" width="173" height="320"></p><p>Anton Cermak became mayor in 1931, and was killed by an assassin two years later. Cermak was a few pounds heavier than he should have been. But when <em>The Untouchables</em> TV series did a two-parter on the Cermak shooting, the mayor was portrayed by Robert Middleton, an actor with a silhoutte resembling Jabba the Hut. That's the way Cermak is mis-remembered today.</p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-September/2011-09-16/09-19--Cermak.jpg" title="Anton Cermak" width="195" height="288"></p><p>The next two mayors were Edward Kelly and Martin Kennelly. Both of them were in reasonably good shape, so they need not concern us.</p><p>With the election of Richard J. Daley in 1955, Chicago once again had a full-figured mayor. Daley served just under 22 years, dying in office of a heart attack. He was followed by Michael Bilandic, unremarkable in either girth or accomplishment. Then came Jane Byrne, who was actually thin.</p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-September/2011-09-16/09-19--Daley I.jpg" title="Daley the Elder" width="203" height="299"></p><p>Harold Washington, elected in 1983, had been a track star in school. I recall that CPS phys-ed classes were given a poster listing his athletic record, and the students challenged to do better. By the time he became mayor, however, Washington was seriously overweight. Like Daley #1, he died in office from a heart attack.</p><p>Eugene Sawyer--same comment as Bilandic. And you already know about Richard M. Daley.</p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-September/2011-09-16/09-19--Washington - Copy.jpg" title="Harold Washington" width="195" height="295"></p><p>So, does a mayor or any office-holder have to be in shape? We'll close with a quotation from another politician.</p><p>In 1928 Al Smith was backing a physically-handicapped man in the campaign for New York governor. When asked whether his candidate could handle the job, Smith snapped: "A governor doesn't have to be an acrobat!"</p><p>BTW--the candidate's name was Franklin D. Roosevelt.</p></p> Mon, 19 Sep 2011 12:15:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blog/john-r-schmidt/2011-09-19/rahm-chicago-mayors-fit-and-unfit-92086