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The year in Chicago history via the pages of the Reader


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“The only limit to what the Chicago Symphony can do is your imagination. Without even a murmur, they will do anything. They will do whatever you wish, as long as you wish something. It’s when you don’t ask them to do something that they become restless.“ - Departing music director George Solti to Dennis Polkow, February 3.


Daley was known not only for killing anything that smacked of reform, but also for his manners as political executioner. When his father died in December 1976, Mike Royko wrote, “young Richard isn’t much of a charmer. He is considered something of a bully and doesn’t make much effort to hide his arrogance.” Even after the next legislative session, in which Rich had already begun to go soft on reform, he still make Chicago magazine’s informal list of the state’s ten worst legislators. (Harold Washington and Dawn Netsch were among the ten best.) Daley made the list “for arrogance, for sharklike qualities, for living off his father’s name, and for pulling puppet strings attached to some of the worst members of the Senate.” He was considered “too shrewd to be one of the worst, but he controls so many of the worst senators that he belongs on the list to represent all of them.” – from “Is Rich Daley Ready for Reform” by Doug Cassel, February 10

The prospect of Richard M. Daley as mayor of Chicago fills many civic activists with a curious mixture of anticipation and terror. The latter is probably uppermost in their minds at the moment. No one has forgotten how Daley's father ran the city: whatever else might be said for the old man, City Hall during his tenure was a closed shop. The thought of returning to those days, when those not in the old-boy loop were simply ignored, is depressing… Ours is perhaps the only major city in the country that still expects its mayors to be tribal chieftains. Richard J. Daley was such a man, and so was Harold Washington. They were natural leaders, with followers who were loyal to the point of fanaticism. They would have run things even in a primitive society, although Lord knows they don't come much more primitive than Chicago… Rich Daley . . . well, it may be going a bit far to call him a natural leader. He is a man who came to power by virtue of birth. Nonetheless he is the head of a powerful family and as such commands an army of devoted retainers, a fact that, in Chicago as in any feudal state, counts for a lot. Chicagoans of all stripes, even nominally liberal ones, naturally gravitate toward such figures. Cynics may see in this something of the fondness the Spanish once had for Franco, but I'd say it's more a question of realism. We expect those who make promises to have the wherewithal to carry them out. – from “Planning for Daley,” by Ed Zotti, April 14


“Pat Moynihan came in a couple of weeks ago, and we had dinner,” said Pfaff, “and he was saying that the one taboo thing in Washington is to suggest anything that involves raising taxes.” Moynihan wondered rhetorically why Europe has been so much more successful dealing with housing, transportation, medical insurance, and such matters. “They spend money,” he told Pfaff. “But that’s what is unacceptable in Washington. You can’t spend money.” Paris-based columnist William Pfaff speaking to Hot Type on July 14

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