I love it when Mayor Daley gets angry. When he loses his temper you never know what he’s going to say.
On Sunday, the candidates in the Democratic primary to fill Rahm Emanuel’s vacant Fifth Congressional District seat came out against Daley’s privatization of Midway Airport. They should–like most of Daley’s other big-ticket schemes, it will probably cost us more money over the years than it will bring in. And there’s another potential problem, which was raised by Jan Donatelli, who happens to be a pilot: safety precautions sometimes get brushed aside when a company’s worried about its bottom line.
On Wednesday Daley threw a mayoral-sized temper tantrum, telling reporters that he had to sell Midway because city employees “are clock watchers who don’t think about the customers,” as Fran Spielman of the Sun-Times quoted him. “They’re not customer-related. They’re gonna leave at 5 o’clock. They’re gonna leave at 4:30 or 4. I’m sorry. We’re on a time clock. They walk out. But in the private sector, when you have a customer you’re gonna stay there making sure they’re happy and satisfied…. We can’t compete with the private sector. The private sector has a complete idea of who your customers are. Government doesn’t have customers. They only have citizens.”
I guess someone in City Hall must have worked up the courage to tell Daley he had insulted firefighters, policemen, paramedics, teachers, and all the other hard-working, relatively low-paid public-sector employees who put their lives on the line every day. Because today Daley backed off. No, he didn’t apologize–being emperor means never having to say you’re sorry. Instead, he blamed the press for misinterpreting what he was trying to say.
“I said that some people just watch the clock–government workers or anybody else–and leave,” Spielman quoted Daley in today’s go-round. “But here in Chicago, we’re fortunate that people just don’t watch the clock…. I never said city workers of … Chicago are not good workers. Would you correct that for me? I know it’s hard because I’m a ping-pong ball for the media. If you don’t have the Daley name, I guess they don’t read the newspapers. But just correct that…. Don’t misinterpret what I say to try to bring confrontation against city workers. That’s really unfair.”
Don’t ask me what he meant by all that. The mayor speaks in a gobbledygook that I’ve never really understood. Actually, I think he should thank Spielman–like most City Hall reporters she’s been cleaning up his quotes for years. By running the above quote pretty much as he said it, she’s letting Daley know she doesn’t appreciate being used as a scapegoat.
Lost in the dust-up was the rest of what Daley said yesterday, particularly his shot at state rep John Fritchey, one of the ten candidates who criticized the Midway deal at Sunday’s debate. According to Spielman’s original article, Daley “noted that Fritchey voted for the 2006 bill that set the stage for the Midway and parking garage deals by granting blanket property tax exemptions to private investors who lease those city assets.”
Daley’s absolutely correct. Fritchey did vote for that bill. So did state rep Sara Feigenholtz, another candidate in the race. They also voted for the O’Hare expansion bill that gave Daley vast powers to turn about 15 percent of Bensenville into the Dead Zone and waste billions on an airport construction program we don’t need. Both were lousy bills that gave too much power to Daley. Fritchey, Feigenholtz, and all the other so-called reformers in the state house should have voted against them.
I assume by taking a shot at Fritchey, Daley’s letting him know what happens to girls and boys in this town who get a little too big for their britches. Alderman Patrick O’Connor, another candidate in the race, is confident Daley will endorse him for being so loyal. Maybe this is Daley’s first step toward that endorsement. Or maybe if he beats everybody else down he won’t need to endorse O’Connor.