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Richard Michael Daley (born April 24, 1942) is a United Statesmarker politician, member of the national and local Democratic Party and current Mayor of Chicagomarker, Illinoismarker. He was elected mayor in 1989 and reelected in 1991, 1995, 1999, 2003, and 2007. His 2007 re-election put him in position to become the longest-serving mayor in Chicagomarker's history, a record currently held by his father, the late Richard J. Daley, should he remain in office beyond December 25, 2010.

Daley was chosen by Time in its April 25, 2005 issue as the best out of five mayors of large cities in the United States, and characterized as having "imperial" style and power, he has presided over such successes as the resurgence in tourism, the modernization of the Chicago Transit Authority, the mayoral takeover of the Chicago Public Schools, the construction of Millennium Parkmarker, increased environmental efforts and the rapid development of the city's North Side, as well as the near South and West sides. He took over 70% of the mayoral vote in 1999, 2003, and 2007, without significant opposition. Although, a late 2009 Chicago Tribune poll has put the Mayor's approval rating at an all-time low of 35%. , he has been in the public eye for playing a significant role in forwarding Chicago as the U.S. bid city for the 2016 Summer Olympics, though not without controversy.

Prior to serving as mayor, Daley served in the Illinois Senate and then as the Cook Countymarker State's Attorney. He also served as the 11th Ward Democratic committeeman after his father died, until he passed the role on to his brother John P. Daley.


Richard Daley is the fourth of seven children and eldest son of Richard J. Daley and Eleanor Daley, former Mayor and First Lady of Chicago, respectively. Originally from Bridgeportmarker, a historically Irish-American neighborhood located southwest of the Chicago Loopmarker, Daley graduated from De La Salle Institutemarker and obtained his bachelor's degree and Juris Doctor from DePaul Universitymarker. Daley twice failed the Illinois Bar Exam. Prior to earning his law degree, Daley served in the Marine Reserves.

Mayor Daley is married to Margaret Daley. They have four children: Nora, Patrick, Elizabeth and Kevin. Daley's second son, Kevin, was thirty-three months old when he died of complications of spina bifida in 1981.

Mayor Daley is brother to William M. Daley, former United States Secretary of Commerce under President Bill Clinton, and John P. Daley, a commissioner on the Cook County Board of Commissioners on which he serves as the finance chairman.

Political beginnings

Daley was elected to his first public office as delegate to the 1969 Illinois Constitutional Convention. On the strength of his father's political machine, Daley next ran for and won a seat in the Illinois Senate, serving from 1972 to 1980. He left Springfieldmarker to become Cook Countymarker State's Attorney, serving from 1980 to 1989. Daley's tenure as county prosecutor was interrupted in 1983 with his first mayoral campaign, losing in the three-way primary to Congressman Harold Washington. Incumbent Jane Byrne, a former protege of Daley's father, was also defeated.

Four years later, on November 25, 1987, Washington died in office of a heart attack. The Chicago City Council appointed an interim mayor, David Orr, who served from the day of Washington's death to December 2, 1987, when the City Council appointed Eugene Sawyer mayor until a special election for the remaining two years of the term could be held in 1989.

As a result, Sawyer faced voters for the first time, and Daley challenged him in the primary. After defeating Sawyer handily, Daley moved on to the April 4, 1989 general election against Aldermen Timothy C. Evans and Edward Vrdolyak, a former Democrat who had antagonized Washington on the city council while Washington served as mayor. After winning the general election, Daley took office as Mayor of Chicago on April 24, 1989, his 47th birthday. As of April 24, 2009 he has served as mayor for 20 years.

Political positions

The mayor of Chicago is elected through a nonpartisan election process, without party primaries, in which all candidates attempt to attain a majority of the votes cast, and featuring a run-off between the top two vote-getters, if necessary.

On some political issues, Daley may be characterized as a liberal Democrat. He opposed the war in Iraq, remains broadly in favor of increased spending on social services, and has strongly endorsed both same-sex marriage and abortion rights. Daley is an advocate of gun control, supporting Chicago's stringent law on handguns that was implemented in 1982. He is the CEO of the Mayors Against Illegal Guns Coalition, an organization formed in 2006 and co-chaired by New York Citymarker Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Bostonmarker Mayor Thomas Menino.

At the same time, Daley is strongly supported by Chicago's traditionally conservative, Republican business community, in part because of his generous corporate welfare programs, including lucrative property tax subsidies to corporations, his willingness to use city government to make Chicago more hospitable to businesses and for general improvements to the city's livability and cleanliness. Republican US President George W. Bush flew to Chicago to celebrate his 60th birthday with Daley. Daley won control of the Chicago Public School system in 1995, and introduced a corporate management style with the appointment of Paul Vallas. When Vallas left the post to run for governor, Daley chose the relatively-obscure Arne Duncan, now the U.S. Secretary of Education, to lead the district.


Meigs Field

One of Daley's first major acts upon re-election on February 25, 2003 was the demolition of Meigs Fieldmarker on March 30, 2003. A small lakefront airport adjacent to Soldier Fieldmarker, it was used by general aviation aircraft and helicopters. Bulldozers carved large Xs into the runways to disable them. Since the airport was still operating when this happened, this left planes trapped with no way of flying out. Daley planned to make a prairie preserve and bandshell. A unilateral decision by the mayor without approval from the Chicago City Council or Federal Aviation Administration, the act resulted in public debate. Aviation interest groups unsuccessfully attempted to sue the city into reopening the airport, claiming Daley had been trying to close Meigs Field with non-safety-related reasons since 1995.

Daley and his supporters argued that the airport was a threat to Chicago's high-rise cityscape and its high profile skyscrapers, the Sears Towermarker and the John Hancock Centermarker. Daley defended his decision with the now-infamous quote "Mickey Mouse has a no-fly zone", referring to the restrictions in place over Orlandomarker, and it was his belief that Chicago should have similar restrictions. In reality, closing the airport made the airspace less restrictive. When the airport was open, downtown Chicago was within Meigs Field's Class D airspace, requiring two-way radio communication with the tower. The buildings in downtown Chicago are now in Class E/G airspace, which allows any airplane to legally fly as close as from these buildings with no radio communication at all. Daley also argued that the lakefront needs to be opened to all residents of Chicago, not just the relatively small portion of the population who have the necessary resources to operate an aircraft.

After this episode, the only citation handed over to the city concerned a failure to notify the federal agency of the plans within a thirty-day time period, as required by law. The city was fined $33,000, the maximum allowable. There were no other citations, as the courts noted it was well within Daley's executive powers and jurisdiction to make the decision he made. The city has since agreed to a settlement with the FAA, the terms of which include both the $33,000 fine and the repayment of $1 million from taxes to federal airport development grants. The city admits no wrongdoing under this settlement. Daley defended his actions by claiming that the airport was abandoned, in spite of the fact that the Chicago Fire Department had several helicopters based on the field at the time in addition to the dozens of private aircraft left stranded.

This closure led to the development of the current Northerly Island park venues, including the concert staging area, prairie preserve, and bird rehabilitation center.

Hired Truck Program

The Hired Truck Program involved hiring private trucks to do city work. A six-month investigation by the Chicago Sun-Times resulted in a three-day series of articles in January 2004 that revealed some participating companies were being paid for doing little or no work, had mob connections or were tied to city employees. Truck owners also paid bribes in order to get into the program. The program was overhauled in 2004 (and phased out beginning in 2005).


The hired truck scandal eventually sparked a Federal investigation into hiring practices at Chicago City Hallmarker, with Robert Sorich, Mayor Daley's former patronage chief, facing mail fraud charges for allegedly rigging city hiring to favor people with political connections. On July 5, 2006, Sorich was convicted on two counts of mail fraud for rigging city jobs and promotions. Daley said that "It is fair criticism to say I should have exercised greater oversight to ensure that every worker the city hired, regardless of who recommended them, was qualified and that proper procedures were always followed."

Leasing of city infrastructure (budget crisis)

In 2006, under Daley's leadership, Chicago leased the Chicago Skywaymarker to the Skyway Concession Company, a joint venture between the Australian Macquarie Infrastructure Group and Spanish Cintra Concesiones de Infraestructuras de Transporte S.A., which assumed operations on the Skyway on a 99–year operating lease. The deal was worth over $1.8 billion to the City of Chicago, which used the money primarily to repay debt.

In 2008, Chicago agreed to lease its parking meter system to a fund managed by Morgan Stanley in a 75-year, $1.16 billion deal, the latest privatization deal by the city as it struggles to close a yawning budget deficit. Daley was quoted as saying that the “agreement is very good news for the taxpayers of Chicago because it will provide more than $1 billion in net proceeds that can be used during this very difficult economy.” However, the deal will double and quadruple rates that taxpayers pay to park at meters. Daley said the deal will not solve the city's budget problems, which will depend on the depth of the economic recession that has led him to lay off hundreds of workers and a planned shutdown of city government for six days around holidays next year. In September 2008, Chicago accepted a $2.52 billion bid to lease Midway International Airportmarker for 99 years to a group of private bidders that included Citigroup Inc. The Midway deal later fell through when the private bidders were unable to secure adequate financing to fund the lease. In December 2006, Morgan Stanley closed a deal that paid the city $563 million for a 99-year lease of the city’s parking garages.


  1. "The 5 Best Big-City Mayors" Nancy Gibbs, Time, April 17, 2005
  2. "Chicago Olympic dream dashed" Dan Mihalopoulos, Chicago Tribune, October 14, 2009
  3. Sources conflict on his years of service. People Magazine cites 1960-1964, see The Chicago Sun Times said 1961-1967, see
  4. "Governor Blagojevich, Mayor Daley renew call for state assault weapons ban" Illinois Government News Network, January 17, 2006
  5. Retrieved on June 12, 2007
  6. [1], Federal Aviation Regulations, Part 91.129
  7. [2] Federal Aviation Regulations, Part 91.119
  8. "Daley Cries 'Uncle', Reaches Deal with FAA for Meigs Mess, Aero-News, Tuesday September 19, 2006.
  9. "Clout on Wheels" Steve Warmbir and Tim Novak, Chicago Sun-Times, January 2004.
  10. "Daley jobs chief guilty" Rudolph Bush and Dan Mihalopoulos, Chicago Tribune, July 6, 2006.
  11. "Daley says 'should have exercised greater oversight'" Gary Washburn, Chicago Tribune, July 10, 2006.
  12. "Chicago privatizes Skyway toll road in $1.8 billion deal" October 17, 2004
  13. "Midway Airport Privatization Deal Collapses"
  14. "Chicago leases parking meters for $1.16 billion" Andrew Stern , Reuters, December 2, 2008.
  15. "Chicago Receives $1.16 Billion for Metered Spaces" Adam L. Cataldo, Bloomberg, December 2, 2008.

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