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Daley Double

In which we dare to compare the father and son mayors.



The first Mayor Daley contributed 23 of the 46 chromosomes in every cell of the current Mayor Daley's body. This much we know scientifically. But Chicagoans aren't satisfied with the limits of modern biological research, so finding more similarities between the two Daleys has become an indigenous sport. It's a sport, however, that has yet to be organized, so in the spirit of public service we present the following convenient comparison chart. Having scoured the lives and idiosyncrasies of father and son, we've found many close parallels, some near parallels that worked once we forced them a little, and a few definite differences.

We also solicited comparisons from some perennial Chicago political figures. As expected, their responses diverged wildly. "You can cite a few differences," snorted political consultant Don Rose. "It's 20 years later." Former mayor Jane Byrne, living proof that Rose is not always right, disagrees. "How are the two Daleys alike?" she repeated in her clipped, impatient voice. "The name." That's it?, we asked. "That's it," Byrne barked. Former alderman and mayoral candidate Ed Vrdolyak was not amused by the question. "Daley, father and son?" Pause. "I'm not playing," he snapped.

Still, some consensus emerged. "Short temper. They both have a short temper," said alderman and former mayoral candidate Lawrence Bloom. "Obviously, they both have relatively short fuses," said alderman and former mayoral candidate Timothy Evans. "Neither of them would win the Oxford debating society, heh heh heh," suggested state senator and comptroller-elect Dawn Clark Netsch.

On the political front, two oft-cited similarities were their inner circles of advisers and their practice of installing figurehead leaders while real power is wielded by a titular underling.

Like the father's government, the son's is run by "a tight little group of family Bridgeporters and a very tight inside group, and the only nonfamily or non-Bridgeporter in there is [chief policy adviser Frank] Kruesi," says Rose. Most observers agree with Rose's assessment, describing an inner circle composed of Daley's three brothers, particularly William; chief financial officer Edward Bedore, budget director under the original Daley and Michael Bilandic; intergovernmental affairs chief Timothy Degnan, who took Daley's vacated state senate seat in 1980; and lone non-Bridgeporter Kruesi, a University of Chicago graduate usually identified with the modifier "intellectual."

Yet Richie Daley's more extended circle includes such seemingly odd political ducks as Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority chairman John Schmidt and interim Board of Education vice-president William Singer, both foes of the elder Daley. Daley watchers have differing views of such liberal trappings. Judge Abraham Lincoln Marovitz, sounding like the doting old family friend that he is, says, "In a sense, his father had many political people around him, but young Richard has a lot of smart young lads and I don't know that they're too much concerned about the politics situation except to have him do a good job."

Analyzing the son slightly more objectively, Netsch notes that his horizons expanded with the demise of the Democratic machine. Before his father's death, "he was sort of cut off from relationships and contacts with people who were outside that club. I suppose someone like me could not have been friends with him 20 years ago--in fact he and I were not friends," she says.

Tim Evans remains utterly unmoved by Daley's liberal allies and proposals. "Neither Daley was a real progressive, and while the current Daley postures himself in that light, he is not a progressive. He is interested in controlled, closed government," Evans asserts. "I'm not suggesting that his motives are Machiavellian as much as I am suggesting that they are designed to keep him in power."

As in the administration of Richard J., Evans says, the power in Richard M.'s government is not always where it seems to be. "For cosmetic purposes, [both Daleys] frequently put people in positions of authority, but they still rely on someone under them to actually make the decisions," says Evans. "With respect to the head of the school board, it's supposed to be Mr. Compton, but most people would admit that Singer is the one actually making the decisions and driving the system over there. It was politically convenient for them to have a well-known black person at the head." Lawrence Bloom brought up the same point: "Look at the subordinates. The budget department is a perfect example," he said, referring to the common notion that when former budget director Edward Bedore became chief financial officer, he kept both the actual office and actual powers of new budget director Sidonie Walters-Lawrence, a black woman.

We have tried to cover as many such political parallels as possible in the following chart, but we have also tried to look at Daley the man. Unfortunately, some of the more personal points we hoped to include are missing, due to reluctance at the mayor's press office to tell us what tailor he prefers (his father patronized House of Duro), what his favorite song is (his father's was the Irish folk song "Garryowen"), and what his kids got him for his first birthday in office (the elder Daley received some cuff links, a pink tie, and a brown and yellow tie). Deputy press secretary Carolyn Grisko declined comment on all points. Asked if the questions were too controversial, she replied somewhat disjointedly, "It's just not something . . . We don't have all the information on it, so we're going to take a pass."

What she meant was, "Daley, father and son? We're not playing."


Richard J. Daley: Nativity of Our Lord grammar school

De La Salle Institute, class of 1919

DePaul University College of Law, LLB 1933

Richard M. Daley: Nativity of Our Lord grammar school

De La Salle Institute, class of 1960

Providence College

DePaul University, BA 1965

DePaul University College of Law, JD 1968


Richard J. Daley: Universally remembered as a nice, quiet, hardworking kid. The only unsavory detail that history records from Daley's youth is the question of whether he participated in Chicago's vicious 1919 race riots with fellow members of the Hamburg Club, named in the Illinois Commission of Human Relations' riot study as one of the athletic clubs responsible for racial attacks. There is no actual evidence of Daley's participation, and Daley never answered questions on the subject.

Richard M. Daley: Universally remembered as a nice, quiet, hardworking kid. The only unsavory detail that history records from Daley's youth is his 1962 ticket for running a stop sign at Huron and Rush at the tender age of 19. Even then, the Sun-Times headline was "Mayor's Son Gets Ticket, Uses No Clout," with a subhead reading "Quiet Boy."


Richard J. Daley: Never tried a case.

Richard M. Daley: Never tried a case.


Richard J. Daley: Became 11th Ward committeeman in 1947, ascending to chairman in 1953; promised to quit chairmanship in 1955 if elected mayor, but didn't. Inspired fair amount of political talk by keeping the chairmanship. "I offered my resignation, but [the committee members] refused to accept it," Daley told reporters in 1958. As the Sun-Times noted, "There is no public record that this occurred."

Richard M. Daley: Became 11th Ward committeeman in 1976; quit in 1980 when elected state's attorney. Has inspired fair amount of political talk by eschewing all interest in chairmanship, and the party in general.


Richard J. Daley: Known as Mayor Kelly's man in Springfield as state representative (1936-1938) and then as state senator (1938-1946). Daley's greatest accomplishment, according to Len O'Connor, was pushing through Kelly's plan to set up the CTA, which involved putting to rest two bankrupt public transportation companies and hobbling the new CTA with $87 million of debt to the bondholders of those companies.

Richard M. Daley: Known as Mayor Daley's man in Springfield as state senator (1972-1980) until father's death in 1976. No notable accomplishments through 1976, unless one counts routinely killing most good-government legislation as chairman of the senate's judiciary Committee. After 1976, suddenly forged a reform persona working with former liberal enemies, perhaps most notably working with state senator Dawn Clark Netsch to overhaul the state's mental health code.


Richard J. Daley: During first mayoral campaign, promised to reform City Council by pushing for pending Springfield legislation reducing the Council from 50 to 35 aldermen, with 10 aldermen elected at large. He didn't.

Richard M. Daley: During first mayoral campaign, promised to reform City Council by significantly reducing the 28 Council committees. He didn't. Instead, he folded one committee--Land Acquisition--into the Housing Committee, and reduced committee budgets.


Richard J. Daley: Under Daley, no city investigations of aldermen. The Daley-controlled City Council killed its three-year-old Emergency Crime Committee, a body that had prompted the legendary declaration of Alderman Paddy Bauler: "Chicago ain't ready for reform." Then the Council suppressed the committee's findings of widespread corruption, all in Daley's first year. Subsequent movements for an investigations committee didn't get far. In 1958, for instance, the Tribune's Jack Mabley described Republican alderman Allen Freeman's attempt. "He was hooted down as his proposal was sent to committee for burial. 'Can't I just say hello?' Freeman asked plaintively as he sat."

Richard M. Daley: Under Daley, no city investigations of aldermen seem likely. The heavily Daley-influenced, if not controlled, City Council emasculated Daley's inspector general ordinance by excluding themselves from the inspector's jurisdiction. Most of those voting against inclusion were Daley allies, so it remains a matter of opinion whether Daley didn't use sufficient pressure to pass the ordinance whole or whether, as he said later, he "pushed as hard as the Cubs did to get into the World Series."


Richard J. Daley: Accused Chicago media of exaggerating the violence surrounding civil rights marches in the city during the summer of 1966. "There seems to be little hesitation in exposing to a vast public [those] splinter, frivolous, and irresponsible individuals who, in many instances, represent groups so small in number as to be practically nonrepresentative. And what is even more deplorable has been the publicity given to the haters, the kooks, and the psychotics," said Daley, speaking at a Radio and Television News Directors Association luncheon.

(The exaggerated violence that summer included a civil rights march through Gage Park, in which Dr. Martin Luther King took a rock on the head.)

Richard M. Daley: Accused the Chicago media of exaggerating the disorder following the first west-side blackout this summer. "There was no chaos. There was no rioting. There was no strong looting out there. But you get the impression [from the media] that it was like chaos out there," Daley was quoted saying in the Sun-Times.

(The exaggerated disorder on the first night of the blackout included three deaths from a fire caused by a candle, about 49 arrests, and 16 looted stores. Certainly not a crisis on par with the 1966 west-side riots precipitating the first Mayor Daley's infamous "shoot to kill" order, but, as a Sun-Times editorial observed, "Right; those three fire deaths, those looted stores and scores of arrests were nothing, nothing at all.")


Both Mayor Daleys tried purging their distinctive south-side accents, which seems ironic after George Bush's recent efforts to slur his patrician speech into a folksy dialect. The Daleys' verbal idiosyncracies are, in fact, probably as endearing to Chicagoans as the city's reputation for corruption. Nonetheless, father and son both sought professional advice and, perhaps coincidentally, both chose speech coaches from Northwestern University. Just how similar are the speech patterns of father and son? To find out, we consulted a Northwestern expert too--speech pathologist Cathy L. Lazarus of NU's Voice, Speech and Language Service. Lazarus studied a sample from each Daley--for the father, the wonderful audio collection Daley on Record, by WMAQ reporter Bill Cameron; for the son, a tape of last year's mayoral primary debate. Her conclusions:

Richard J. Daley:

Diagnosis: Functional articulation problem, commonly known as south-side accent.

Substituted d or t for th, as in "dis and dat" and "trowing" for "throwing." Dropped g in "-ing." Also, collapsed consonants in clusters and other sounds, such as "figgered" for "figured." Ran words together, as in "tolja" for "told you."

Used a fronted tongue posture for t sound, known informally as "lazy tongue posture," which is perceived by listeners as a less precise t pronunciation.

Compounding problem, subject often spoke too quickly, failed to open mouth adequately, and made little effort to articulate clearly.

Treatment: Weekly half-hour appointments for approximately six to nine months.

Lazy tongue posture: See "Treatment, Richard M."

Speaking too fast and opening mouth: "I would have him read out loud to cut down the rate and break up phrases. He would tape himself reading, describing pictures, in monologues and in conversation. For opening the mouth, it's easy: It's just asking him to open his mouth and speak more clearly. That's usually all that's necessary. A lot of what we do is just common sense.

Prognosis: I think that the prognosis is fairly good that he would have been able to speak more articulately than he did, I'd, but he had more problems [than his son], and it would take a lot more, a lot more, work.

Richard M. Daley:

Diagnosis: Functional articulation problem, commonly known as a south-side accent. Much less pronounced, however.

Only occasionally substitutes d for th, drops g in "-ing."

Uses fronted tongue posture for t sound, known informally as "lazy tongue posture," which is perceived by listeners as a less precise t pronunciation.

Occasionally speaks too quickly, but does not mumble. "For the most part he's within the realm of normal rates."

Treatment: Weekly half-hour appointments for approximately two to three months.

Lazy tongue posture: "You just ask them to move their tongue a little further back and use the tip of the tongue to make contact on the roof of the mouth. I would have him listen to me, and give him exercises to practice. First the t by itself, then t at the end and in the middle, and in blends like 'tree.' He would quickly work it into phrases, then carry it into conversations by initially reading paragraphs, and describe pictures to get more extemporaneous. I would have him tape himself describing pictures, and then when he's just talking on the phone to practice using it with other people."

Prognosis: "He would probably do quite well in speech therapy, since his speech problem is so mild."


Richard J. Daley: Life magazine indiscreetly published several Daley malapropisms in a 1960 profile, including mentions of "tandem bicycles," "walking pedestrians," and "Alcoholics Unanimous," and an order to the City Council parliamentarian to read a rule "for the enlightenment and edification and hallucination of the alderman from the 50th Ward."

Richard M. Daley: The Tribune's INC. column indiscreetly published several Daley malapropisms in August, including the statement that "people are getting hurt in drive-by shootalongs," mentions of "Kee-wait" and "Soddo Arabie," and a commendation of the "work ethic" of Pakistanis.


Richard J. Daley: Surprised the people of the near-west-side neighborhood known as "the Valley" by announcing that the community would be demolished for a Chicago campus of the University of Illinois--after city commitments for urban renewal had persuaded residents to begin refurbishing and remodeling property over the previous ten years, including the $600,000 rebuilding of Holy Guardian Angel School only two years earlier.

The proposed Circle Campus and adjoining urban renewal area eventually destroyed homes of an estimated 14,000 people and 800 businesses, according to a census study by University of Illinols economist George Rosen.

Neighborhood residents failed to appreciate the march of progress. "We were double-crossed," said the Reverend Italo Scala, pastor of Holy Guardian Angels Church, at a protest meeting in 1961 just after the announcement.

Richard M. Daley: Surprised the people of the southeast-side neighborhoods known as Hegewisch, South Deering, and East Side by announcing that much of the community would be demolished for a third Chicago airport--after previously opposing the construction of any third airport at all.

The proposed southeast-side airport would destroy 6,700 homes and 47 businesses employing 9,000 people.

Neighborhood residents failed to appreciate the march of progress. "It's like Daley just dropped a bomb on us," Mary Ann Kolojay, a Hegewisch grocery store cashier, told the Sun-Times just after the announcement.


Richard J. Daley: Once proposed his own third airport, to be built about eight and a half miles offshore in Lake Michigan. It would have meant building massive dikes to construct runways on 8,000 acres of reclaimed lake bottom, plus a highway or tunnel (or both) connecting the airport to shore.

City officials maintained that a possible 400 tons of jet exhaust per year, pumping water runoff from runways back into the lake, and possible disruption of lake currents that prevent beach stagnation would not affect the lake's ecology adversely.

Daley claimed that an airport in the lake would actually improve the environment. "As a matter of fact, if you put rocks in the lake [for landfill] and we put rock bass in there, there would be more rock bass for the young fellas to go out and fish," said Daley in 1976.

Richard M. Daley: His proposed third airport would mean filling in 237 acres of wetlands, rechanneling the Calumet River, removing or otherwise neutralizing 13 hazardous dumps and 15 landfills, and lopping off the top of the 150-foot high CID landfill.

City officials maintain that filling in 237 acres of the city's last wetlands, a major point in an important North American bird migration route, thus destroying the home of 20 species of rare birds, two rare fish, and nine rare plants, would not affect the area's ecology adversely.

Daley claims that an airport on the southeast side will actually improve the environment. The administration's feasibility study says the area's toxic waste dumps will finally be cleaned up and new, better man-made wetlands will be created. Environmental experts, however, say such artificial creations are easier said than done. You can create an artificial wetland . . . but you can't force an organism into it," James Landing, of the Lake Michigan Study Commission, told the Tribune.


Richard J. Daley: Comment when aldermanic salaries were raised from $8,000 to $17,500 a year: "Surely you can't keep a fella honest--you fellas [the press] couldn't be paid $8,000 a year and be honest in your jobs."

Richard M. Daley: Comment regarding possible city ownership of Commonwealth Edison power plants, in which case the plants would not, he said, be run by clty workers: "We have real problems with the work force. We could not run it. Government should not run nuclear plants. One little mistake and we would all be gone."


Richard J. Daley: Obsession with cleanliness manifested soon after election. Right after inauguration, told aides he expected a citywide cleanup drive to be one of his administration's big achievements. By June 1955, had chosen an executive board for his Citizens Committee to Clean Up Chicago; by July 4, Park District and Cook County highway police were using loudspeakers to broadcast cleanup appeals to holiday crowds.

Also, bought 121 new street sweepers during first term and increased miles of curbs swept from a paltry 85,000 in 1954 to a record 235,832 in 1958.

Richard M. Daley: Obsession with cleanliness manifested soon after first election. Even before inauguration, visited O'Hare Airport and told press, "It's dirty." By May 4, 1989, had announced his "Clean Sweep Team," in which the Streets and Sanitation department would lend brooms, rakes, and garbage bags on Fridays "to citizens ready to roll up their sleeves." By June 1990, had proposed new restrictions on ad benches to allow one per corner.

Also, called City Hall a pigpen in May 1989. Announced successful housecleaning in first State of the City address: "There were plies of papers in the hallways that posed a fire hazard. . . . So I ordered a top-to-bottom cleanup. The difference is noticeable and the public is responding."


Richard J. Daley: "We will strive to eliminate waste. We will economize and increase our efficiency."

Richard M. Daley: "In times of limited resources, government must be more creative and productive than ever before. We must do a better job with the resources we have."


Richard J. Daley: "The members of the state legislature know full well what it takes to operate a city and that taxes on property cannot meet the costs of essential services of the second largest city in the nation. . . . We will present Chicago's needs for additional revenue from the state. . . . We will go to the legislature as often as necessary."

Richard M. Daley: "I'll also bargain hard in Springfield, where they sometimes forget a healthy Chicago is vital to the future of Illinois. Too often they send us mandates with no money, unfairly adding to our burdens."


Richard J. Daley: "I want to express the appreciation and admiration which I know all the people of Chicago have for the administration of Martin Kennelly. He will always be remembered as a mayor who made important contributions to his city."

Richard M. Daley: "And in making that new beginning, we can't overlook the contributions of the two mayors with whom I share this term. Gene Sawyer has served this city with honor and dignity and has earned our respect and appreciation. . . . Harold Washington was a tough act to follow. . . . Whatever your politics, you had to appreciate his strength, leadership, and commitment to our city."


Richard J. Daley: "In this task--as well as in meeting other basic problems of the city--I shall urge the active cooperation and support from individuals, business, civic, and labor organizations and community groups."

Richard M. Daley: "And I'll ask more of the business, labor, religious, and community leaders who must assume a greater burden as we look for new and better solutions to Chicago's problems."


Richard J. Daley: Daley's City Council hegemony was so complete that a mathematical analysis of Council roll calls misses the point completely. The Council's birthday celebrations for the mayor are far more illuminating--events so obsequious that one cringes for the aldermen just as one winces during inadvertent glimpses of Jerry Lewis movies. For instance, on Daley's 56th birthday in 1958, Alderman Thomas Keane recited his own ode to the mayor, reading in part: "Fifty-six years ago on the 15 th day of May/ A boy was born who was destined to stay./ He was called Richard, his surname was Daley,/ His parents were happy, the years went so gaily."

Richard M. Daley: Daley is unlikely to establish the same Council hegemony as his father, so an analysis of Council roll calls is a more useful indication of his influence. A recent University of Illinois study written by former independent alderman Dick Simpson shows Daley's Council control is quite enviable among post-Daley mayors. The study of Council votes during Daley's first year in office showed a majority of 28 aldermen, most white ethnics, voted with Daley on over 90 percent of 99 split votes, and even opposition aldermen voted with Daley on about 40 percent of the roll calls.


Richard J. Daley: Appeared on network TV show early in first term, briefly baffling Dorothy Kilgallen, Bennett Cerf, Paul Winchell, and Arlene Francis on What's My Line? as the night's mystery guest. Dorothy Kilgallen beat her fellow panelists with the guess, "Would you be mayor of Chicago?"

Richard M. Daley: Appeared on network TV show early in first term, briefly baffling David Letterman on Late Night by presenting him with a city of Chicago sewer lid.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): illustration/Tom Bachtell.

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