This week, Chicago experiences a new political era as the Daley years have ended.
Mayor Richard Daley has been historical in his reign as the longest sitting mayor in the city's history. We have seen him grow as a leader, he has served the corporate business community well, and his accomplishments will never be forgotten.
As a leader, Daley beautified the city. Downtown is well developed, blooming with pretty flowers, a brand new (Millennium) park, hosts festivals, and boasts the most beautiful skyline in the world.
The airports have developed into world-class portals. The city's West Loop and South Loop neighborhoods, among others, have been revived and made anew. Daley has built more libraries and anchored communities with new police stations and city institutions to spur new growth.
One of the more significant accomplishments of the Daley years was to bring Wal-Mart into the food desert communities to increase neighborhood economics on the South Side of Chicago; a movement that I still stand by.
The landscape of parking changed during the Daley years, and that was one of the worse things under the Daley administration.
Daley took a stab at the turnaround with Chicago Public Schools. Some of the leadership appointments could have been better. He introduced a new management style, which was to look at management without the requirement of expertise. The verdict is still out on this practice.
Daley saw one of his very own citizens -- Barack Obama -- rise to the top of the country.
One of the most regrettable Daley endeavors was the Olympics for 2016. We lost after the city had cast big chips and players on the bet.
The city's affirmative action practices could have been better. This was a challenge to the Daley administration with annual failing numbers and monumental fraud. The good news is that the policy stayed in place.
But, no matter the good or the bad, mistakes and taking risks are human traits and a practice that leaders learn head-on.
Despite challenges, failures and successes, the city of Chicago owes Daley a debt of gratitude for an overall job well done.
He has been the city's father. He cared and it showed.
I enjoyed every press conference where he flared with passion. He will probably be the last modern mayor to know, firsthand, the stop signs on the corner and where the potholes are in the street.
He took us first class. He upgraded. He worked hard. And you could tell he enjoyed every ribbon cutting, every church visit, every parade, every tree lighting, every new building, every conversation that was Chicago based.
He was at his best in off-the-cuff conversations about the city. He had foresight.
I truly believe Mayor Richard Daley gave his best -- and he knew when to fold.
And Now a New Era...
Enter Rahm Emanuel, who takes over from a legend and inherits serious debt.
Emanuel comes into the office having to cut and change the means and ways of the city in order to save it.
He has aggressively named his new cabinet, a new team at the Chicago Public Schools and the city colleges, a new police chief, and new administrators at City Hall.
Rahm will be forced to streamline and will run the city with greater efficiency and probably less patronage than his predecessor. His opportunity is to establish newness, freshness and a new standard. His style is bold.
Rahm Emanuel's challenge will be to consider racial/ethnic diversity in all aspects. The spotlight will be on him to distribute contracts with equity. He will be challenged with turning the schools around, making the entire city safe, and not raising the taxes.
Rahm must be a consensus builder, making all communities feel that they have a direct role in the city. I like very much that the new mayor has visited the schools, transit stops, restaurants and is listening directly to citizens. His community interactions and engagement will serve him well. I like the hands-on approach.
His White House experience and broad reach will serve him well. He will appeal to the philanthropic and private sectors to finance projects and activity that the city may not be able to afford for itself to make the city a better place. Ultimately, his job will be to share his vision to make the city world-class, inclusive and solvent.
Emanuel has gotten off to a good start, but he will be challenged. He will move Chicago from a big city boss mentality to a corporate executive with a broad reach.
Chicago is a prize city. Both men, Daley and Emanuel, have been courageous to take on the job, one that Mayor Daley calls the best position in the world. In too many ways, it is a thankless job and the decisions are hard.
Thanks Mayor Daley for your good service. Although, Daley, "the private citizen", will take a moment of getting used to, Emanuel transfers from advisor at the top to the front line, with a good sense of needed direction for positive change in the city of Chicago.
Congratulations to Daley and Emanuel. God bless both of ya for stepping up to the political plate!