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Home Publications Blogs Beat the Press Richard M. Daley, the Bernie Madoff of Big City Mayors

Richard M. Daley, the Bernie Madoff of Big City Mayors

Sunday, 18 August 2013 10:45

The Washington Post ran an article on Bill Daley's decision to run for the Democratic nomination for governor in Illinois. The piece notes that Daley is the son of former Chicago Mayor Richard J. Daley and the brother of another former mayor, Richard M. Daley.

It probably would have been worth noting that latter connection is not likely to play especially well right now. Richard M. Daley failed to make the required contributions to the city's pension funds for his last decade in office, leaving them underfunded by more than $27 billion. (This includes the teacher's fund, which comes from a separate budget.) The current mayor, Rahm Emmanual claims that this is an unpayable burden and want to default on the city's debt to these funds. (The workers and their unions strongly object to this plan and will fight any default in court.)

Regardless of the outcome of this dispute, allowing pensions to become as underfunded as Chicago's was remarkably irresponsible, especially in a city such as Chicago with a relatively healthy economy. There are few big city mayors who have been more reckless with public finances in recent decades.

It is probably also worth noting that Emanual has claimed that the city's schools were a disaster when he came into office. The schools had been under Daley's direct control for most of his 22 years in office.


Comments (9)Add Comment
Strange Lead
written by leo from chicago, August 18, 2013 12:22
Just about no one is excited by Bill Daley's candidacy except maybe Pete Giangreco; the Cook County Dems just endorsed Quinn. On the other hand, it's a strange lead to open up about brother Daley Jr.'s stint as mayor.
written by Marcus, August 18, 2013 12:25
The schools were also under the direction of...Arne Duncan, our current US Secretary of Education.
A fairly ignorant article
written by Jennifer, August 18, 2013 1:31
Oh you say the pension problem is because the city DID NOT PAY into them? It's not the teachers' fault? Really? You might want to send a note the Chicago Tribune. Arne Duncan is only one of many "education reform leaders" who have moved on to greater success (Paul Vallas anyone?) and yet left CPS a "disaster".

I have to say this quote was pretty amusing:

When you run in Illinois as a Democrat, you’d better be a progressive, you’d better be a reformer and you’d better know how to interact with everyday people. I’ve been doing that for the last 40 years.

It's true some 10, 20, years ago Pat Quinn was considered a "progressive" and a "reformer" but since he's been governor the only difference between him and his predecessors is that he does not appear to have done anything illegal. His leadership has been awful enough, and he has alienated so many, that somebody like Daley thinks he can win.
Daley has made no serious attempts to court anybody outside of Chicago, and his support is probably in the suburbs and maybe some pockets of city. Illinois governors have been bad, but the real issue is the swamp of patronage and corruption (especially on the Democratic side, because they have had so much more power) that they arise from. Until there is some real systemic change, either from the top or from below, it's not going to matter much who gets elected.
yep, the city did not pay into its pensions
written by Dean, August 18, 2013 1:41
You can find that out if you look at the pension reports

The Chicago pension liability scaled to the number of adults in the city.
written by John Wright, August 18, 2013 5:47
Per http://www.cityofchicago.org/c...facts.html

The unfunded pension liability is $26.8 billion.

Per google, the population of Chicago is 2.707 million and the 2000 census had Chicago people in the working ages of 20 to 65 at 60.52% of the population.

So per Chicago working age adult, the per capita liability is $26.8E9/(2.707E6 * 0.605) = $16.364K.

Fixing this quickly will cause a lot of financial pain to the citizenry if business/property tax increases are off the table.

John Wright right?, Low-rated comment [Show]
hahaha looked at the Chicago stuff...very interesting., Low-rated comment [Show]
written by Mrrunangun, August 19, 2013 8:43
Nice post. Never read of this in the Chicago Tribune. Have to read you to find out what goes on in Chi because the Trib lacks either competent reporting or guts. Or both.
written by D12345, August 20, 2013 8:48
Very informative...till the last sentence. Why does Rahm E. have any credibility regarding the condition o of public schools in Chicago or anywhere else? He is hand in glove with the privatization, anti-union, charter movement. He has been gutting the Chicago Public School system—closing schools like they were nuisances to dispose of.

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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.