Richard M. Daley was Chicago’s longest-serving mayor. His 22 years on the job surpassed the longevity record set by his father, former Mayor Richard J. Daley, who served for 21 years.
Why, then, is Daley’s photo still missing from the wall of mayors in the reception area in the mayor’s office on the fifth floor of City Hall six years after he left office?
Why is there a photo of David Orr, who spent eight days as acting mayor after the 1987 death of Harold Washington, but not one of Richard M. Daley?
Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s administration insists that it has nothing to do with any tension between Emanuel and his predecessor and political mentor caused by Emanuel’s decision to chart a decidedly different course to solve the problems Daley left behind.
It’s simply the fact that Emanuel was hoping to make the hanging of Daley’s photo on the wall of mayors a bigger deal than the Daley family wanted it to be.
“There’s been an effort to have a larger ceremony … We wanted to put together an event that would honor his service to the city just the same way that we named Maggie Daley park in honor of Maggie Daley’s contributions to the city and hadn’t been able to arrange that,” Emanuel’s communications director Adam Collins told the Chicago Sun-Times.
A top mayoral aide, who asked to remain anonymous, added, “We have the photo ready to go. It’s been ready for a long time. We reached out to the family. We just never got it together. For whatever reason, they weren’t that interested in doing it. We asked them if they wanted to come down. They never responded.”
Jackie Heard, a spokeswoman for the Daley family who previously served as Daley’s mayoral press secretary, refused to comment on the missing photo.
Another source close to the Daley family said the former mayor has no interest in turning the photo hanging into a mini-ceremony.
“It’s not a portrait. It’s a photo. Put it up. Nobody wants a ceremony for a photo. That’s crazy. Who would say yes to that?” the Daley family source said.
In 1989, Emanuel used his Type-A personality and relentless fund-raising tactics to rake in $7 million in just 13 weeks for then-mayoral candidate Richard M. Daley.
After serving as Daley’s financial muscle man, Emanuel did the same for presidential candidate Bill Clinton with Daley’s help before joining Clinton’s White House staff.
In 1999, he was Daley’s choice to serve as vice chairman of the Chicago Housing Authority. Three years later, Daley endorsed Emanuel for Congress, something the mayor rarely did in Democratic primaries, and went all-out to get him elected.
Emanuel’s congressional campaign was managed by former Daley aide Greg Goldner, a sidekick of Hispanic Democratic Organization chieftain Victor Reyes. Emanuel was also among those to benefit from the political army commanded by convicted First Deputy Water Commissioner Donald Tomczak.
When Daley chose retirement over running for a seventh term, Emanuel stepped down as then-President Barack Obama’s White House chief of staff and was replaced by Daley’s brother, Bill.
But since taking office, Emanuel has criticized and changed virtually everything Daley did — from the widely despised parking meter deal to city and school finances, labor negotiations, city services, public schools and City Colleges.
Emanuel has proposed a seemingly endless wave of ethics reforms as if to turn the page from the Hired Truck, city hiring and minority contracting scandals that cast a dark cloud on Daley’s 22-year reign.
Emanuel also succeeded where Daley failed — by getting Chicago out from under the federal Shakman decree and the costly constraints of a federal hiring monitor, and by identifying dedicated funding sources for all four city employee pension funds.
Sources said all of that has placed a strain on the relationship between the present and former mayor.
Although Emanuel has been respectful enough of Daley not to mention the former mayor by name when he criticizes the things Daley did and the financial mess Emanuel inherited, the criticism has still been hurtful to a man who lived, ate, breathed and bled Chicago for 22 years.
Two years ago, Daley had lunch with Emanuel, then endorsed his protege for re-election in a written statement.
“He is working hard in a job that, I know, is very difficult. I believe he deserves another four years to continue to strengthen this city we all love,” Daley was quoted as saying.
At the time, aides said Daley would probably have been willing to hold a news conference endorsing Emanuel, but he wasn’t asked.
When it comes to the photo, Emanuel has asked, but Daley is apparently not interested.
Whatever the reason, Collins insisted that the bond between the two men runs deep and remains unbroken.
“Mayor Daley has been a mentor and a friend to Mayor Emanuel for 25 years. The mayor has been criticized for not criticizing Mayor Daley — something he has not done and has no intention of doing,” Collins said.
“He named Maggie Daley Park after the former first lady, and he has significantly increased investments in After School Matters … And we will continue to recognize Mayor Daley’s service to the people of Chicago as long as we are there.”