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Home Publications Blogs Beat the Press Mayor Richard M. Daley Is Credited With Leaving Chicago an Unpayable Debt Burden

Mayor Richard M. Daley Is Credited With Leaving Chicago an Unpayable Debt Burden

Saturday, 01 February 2014 21:52

We've been reading stories in the NYT and elsewhere about how Chicago has pension obligations to its workers that it can't possibly meet. Most of these accounts are exaggerated and seem intended to provoke excessive fears in order to facilitate default on the city's pension obligations. Nonetheless, there is no doubt that the city has seriously underfunded pensions.

This is why it is striking that when the NYT ran a piece on former Mayor Richard M. Daley going to the hospital, it failed to mention Daley's record on the city's pensions, telling readers:

"Mr. Daley, Chicago’s longest-serving mayor with 22 years in office, is credited with giving the city a face lift with new green spaces, a revived theater district and the transformation of Navy Pier into a colorful playground."

Daley is the person most responsible for the underfunding of Chicago's pensions, making him one of the most irresponsible elected leaders in recent history. It would be understandable that the NYT may not want to highlight negative aspects of Mr. Daley's tenure at a moment when he is apparently dealing with serious health issues, but there is no excuse for this sort of whitewashing of his record. Tens of thousands of people who worked for the city for decades may not see the pensions they earned as a result of Daley's recklessness.

Comments (2)Add Comment
Just scratches the surface
written by Jennifer, February 01, 2014 10:19
Richard M. Daley's lack of pension funding is only a part of his damage done to the city of Chicago. There are the TIFs (tax increment financing) districts which deprive a region of taxes in order to go into a mayor-controlled slush fund for "development" i.e. corporate hand-outs. Daley took over the public schools, beginning a process of charters/privatization which culminated in a shutdown of 50 public schools in the city last year. Daley also approved the parking deal, so for a short-term budget fix the citizens of Chicago will be paying ballooning rates for parking for the next 70 years. Daley also leaves a legacy of torture-he was the State's Attorney when Officer Jon
Burge was accused of torture. Burge has not been found guilty in court but there was extensive evidence and several men he interrogated had their several convictions overturned.
But yeah, there's the Bean.
the corrupt machine
written by tew, February 03, 2014 8:49
Chicago has been an enormously corrupt town dominated by single party rule - the Chicago Democratic Machine. Eventually these rackets lead to ruin even after they've fleeced their good citizens for decades.

Many of the public sector unions are PART OF THE PROBLEM. They are part of the corruption and have been preying on the citizens along with the politicians for decades. Even if the pensions get trimmed the overall packages are still very, very nice in most cases.

The citizens will still suffer from this corruption for years to come.

And this is where are current president got his start. But at least he sent his "never let a crisis go to waste" right hand man back to town to fix things up.

Yes, I know, I know, the Republicans are worse. And they are big meanies. And they're waging a war on X, Y, and Z.

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About Beat the Press

Dean Baker is co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington, D.C. He is the author of several books, his latest being The End of Loser Liberalism: Making Markets Progressive. Read more about Dean.