Daley Dynasty Gives Way To Rahm Emanuel's Chicago

Rahm Emanuel will be sworn in Monday as mayor of Chicago, and the Daley family dynasty in Chicago politics will come to an end for now. Host Scott Simon speaks with Carol Marin, political columnist for the Chicago Sun-Times, about the Daley legacy and the incoming Emanuel administration.

SCOTT SIMON, host:

Here's a phrase you don't hear much in Chicago: new mayor. Richard M. Daley steps down next week, after six terms - more than his father, Richard J. Daley. An old political rival, Alderman Edward Burke, said on the floor of the city council: There's an old Irish saying: you have to do your own growing, no matter how tall your father was. And for the past 22 years, no one has demonstrated the wisdom of that adage more.

During his 22 years in office, Mayor Richard M. Daley transformed the city skyline, reformed public schools, abolished handgun ownership, supported same-sex marriage and made Chicago bloom with new parks and millions of trees. But there were also charges of epical corruption. A new mayor is sworn in on Monday: Rahm Emanuel, President Obama's former chief of staff, and former Chicago congressman.

Carol Marin joins us now - political editor of WMAQ TV and columnist for the Chicago Sun-Times. Carol, thanks so much for being with us.

Ms. CAROL MARIN (Political Editor, WMAQ TV, Columnist, Chicago Sun-Times): My pleasure, Scott.

SIMON: And what kind of changes, small and large, can you foresee with Mayor Emanuel?

Ms. MARIN: You know, Scott, just the fact that a different face and voice than Richard M. Daley is going to be on the fifth floor of City Hall is pretty amazing. But Rahm Emanuel comes in with a great deal of energy and passion to a city where the budget is in dire condition - half a billion dollars or more, depending upon whose estimate you subscribe to. He walks in with a great party and a terrible problem.

SIMON: Is he a reformer by any definition?

Ms. MARIN: In Illinois, reform is a hard word to use anymore since so many people have used it and then gone to jail. So, he hasn't. But he has said that it is a new day, a time of shared sacrifice. He's talking about all the right things: saving the schools, fixing the city, stopping the gangs, but it will be a test.

SIMON: I guess there's an interview with him in an upcoming GQ magazine in which Mayor-elect Emanuel says that the mayor of Chicago is the fifth-most important chief executive job in the United States. That's amazingly modest, isn't it? I would have guessed he would have said the second.

Ms. MARIN: You know, on the spectrum, Scott, of humility to hubris, I think Emanuel tilts to the further end of the lack of humility, we shall say. But the fact of the matter is he's always done a calculus of power. That's why he was so successful in Congress; that's why he's been so successful two tours of duty inside the Clinton and the Obama White House.

So, he is a calibrator of how much power is needed, how much power can be used. So, it's not surprising that he would figure out a sort of valance for his power as the mayor of the city of Chicago, though I'm not sure that all the other governors and mayors who've been neglected in his list would be so happy with it.

SIMON: It's already ran into some flak for appointing new head of the public schools, Jean-Claude Brizard, who has been chief of the Rochester, New York public schools and I guess has been famously at odds with the teachers union there and some people in Rochester even want to sue him for breaking his contract to come to Chicago.

Ms. MARIN: He is controversial. It's been a sort of electric appointment. Brizard was just here this past week. The teachers here are very cautious. Emanuel has already decided and so it will happen. The school day will be lengthened in Chicago, something I think everyone agrees must happens. But the question is will there be additional teach compensation.

The schools are also awash in red ink - terrible graduation rates. And so Brizard comes to Chicago facing imminently greater problems than those that he left behind in Rochester.

SIMON: And in the venerable press corps there, Carol, is there a bit of a lottery going on as to who will receive the first wrapped dead fish from Mayor Emanuel?

Ms. MARIN: He has toned that down, Scott, and he tells anyone who asks, particularly those of us in the unruly press corps, that we are harkening back to an old ancient time in his life that he's no longer doing explosive expletives. He's not sending people dead carcasses of anything as they've fallen into his disfavor. That time has passed.

What we do see of the old Rahm is his dealings with the press, and his press handlers are every bit as controlling as anything you'd see out of the White House. And so the press corps has had to do a lot of pushing back just to manage to do their work and not have their message managed.

SIMON: Carol Marin, political columnist for the Chicago Sun-Times and political editor at WMAQ TV in Chicago. Thanks so much.

Ms. MARIN: Thank you, Scott.

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