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The Decline of Daley?

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The final countdown

If you ever wanted to see a sign of Mayor Daley’s waning influence, it’s in the mayoral candidates’ responses to the drivers getting stranded on Lake Shore Drive during the blizzard. (Hat tip to CapFax)

“If reports that Mayor Daley was not involved in the actual decision making on the city’s response are true, that’s a disappointment, ”Carol Moseley Braun said through a spokeswoman.

Referring to the now internationally-notorious traffic mess along the lakefront, Emanuel said in a written statement: “We need to get to the bottom of what happened last night on Lake Shore Drive — with hundreds of passengers stranded for hours, it’s clear that there were mistakes made that we can never let happen again. And we need a comprehensive review to determine what went wrong and what went right throughout the city.”

Granted, no one running for Mayor was going to say “Listen, if those idiots couldn’t be bothered to recognize that a highway RIGHT NEXT TO THE GODDAMN LAKE might have some problems during the third biggest snow storm in the history of the city of Chicago they should have just been left there to freeze!”, but there was a time no one would consider taking potshots, even as relatively tame as Rahm’s, at Daley.

Seems like those with money in the game are banking on the assumption that Daley just doesn’t have much muscle left.

A top-level City Hall meeting aimed at ending the dispute over financing the stalled O’Hare expansion project was abruptly canceled Thursday by the CEOs of United and American airlines, the  mayor’s press secretary said.

City officials said they initially thought cancellation of the meeting this afternoon between Mayor Richard Daley, United CEO Jeffery Smisek and American CEO Gerald Arpey was due to the blizzard that socked the Chicago region two days ago.

But the airlines appear to be stalling on Daley’s demand that they bring new proposals to the table to jump-start the construction of new runways at O’Hare International Airport.

“At this point, the mayor has begun to wonder about the sincerity of their efforts to meet with him,” said press secretary Jacquelyne Heard. Daley even offered to see them on a Sunday, she said.

Daley has tried to set up alternative dates, offering four or five options, all of which were rejected, leading Daley to believe the delay is intentional, Heard said.

The cold reality is that people know Daley’s not going to be around long enough to get revenge against those who do him wrong now.  That means that even the people who don’t want to do him wrong have to when circumstances call for it (a la Rahm’s statement).  That said, the last arrow in Daley’s quiver is that of public opinion.  Although he may be kind of damaged goods after the more idiotic responses to the blizzard, if Daley’s going to have any clout left it’s going to come from people who appreciate his accomplishments (and how they are indicative of his love of this city and his knowledge of what makes it work).  Might be too late though, we’ll see…

People Stranded on Lake Shore Drive All Night – I Bet Daley’s Pissed

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Legacy

Before the blizzard really hit Mayor Daley went out on an all-out news blitz about the efforts underway to deal with the oncoming storm.  Then it started to snow…

Before the city shut down the Drive, traffic had been crawling; it took upwards of an hour to travel only a mile. Many cars were without a full tank of gas, and ended up running out.

Evanston attorney Craig Roeder says he got on Lake Shore Drive at 6 p.m. and headed north. He says he crept and crawled until just south of Fullerton Parkway, when traffic ground to a halt around 9:30 pm.

And there he sat, in whiteout conditions for six hours, until 3:20 a.m. when WBBM Newsradio 780’s David Roe was interviewing him on the phone.

Jim Glonke was stranded near North Avenue for 11 hours. He told CBS 2 he left his office in Chinatown in the late afternoon Tuesday, and it was backed up. He arrived at North Avenue around 7 p.m., and traffic stopped completely for an hour or two. Glonke was told a jackknifed bus was to blame.

A CTA bus driver told CBS 2’s Vince Gerasole he had been stranded on Lake Shore Drive since 5:40 p.m. Tuesday. That was at 5:15 a.m. Wednesday.

The trains are doing better, but that’s a case of damned with faint praise.

Metra trains are delayed up to three hours because of switching problems and weather conditions and numerous trains are stopped throughout the suburbs, according to Metra’s website.

The CTA is reporting Yellow Line service has been suspended and the Blue, Red and Purple lines are experiencing “significant delays.” Some CTA buses have also become stuck in the snow.

Watching the news blitz last night I found myself thinking that the response to this storm is Daley’s last hurrah, which makes this stuff all the more aggravating.  Realistically, what did the people taking Lake Shore Drive expect?  Traffic sucks there during rush hour under the best of circumstances, dump a foot of snow and add 25 foot waves and 60 mph winds…did you really think you were going to get home that way?  If there was a screw up on the city’s behalf, it was failing to shut it down before these idiots got on in the first place.

The most important barometer of the city’s response to the storm is going to be the death toll, in terms of emergency shelters for the homeless, whether landlords kept to the temperature laws and if anyone dies of carbon monoxide poisoning.  We’ll see over the next couple of days, but unfortunately for Daley, people not dying is rarely considered news.

The other big test is going to be how quickly the roads are cleared and how quickly the CTA returns to being “on-schedule” (which is an extremely relative term for the CTA).

If people respond as they tend to do to weather disasters – poorly – this could be a tragically fitting metaphor for Daley’s legacy as Mayor.  Old time Chicagoans will point out how Chicago was before Daley came on, where you couldn’t walk around in the Loop at night for fear of getting shot, neighborhoods like Lincoln Park were warzones, and Chicago was seen much like a haven for violent crime.  Now it’s in many ways a world class city, and yet Daley may be just as remembered, if not more so, for the fiscal catastrophe he’s leaving the city in.  It’s fair, but it’s also tempting to lose perspective on how monumental his accomplishments have actually been.

Written by updowndownup

February 2, 2011 at 12:53 pm