The Mystery of the Shrinking Convention

“Gee! The Democratic National Convention! Right here in our own backyard!” Richie Daley grinned at his brother Bill as the two boys slipped on their business suits.

“That’s right,” Bill answered with a chuckle. “It’s our big chance to show the world that Chicago is still the City That Works.” Another convention 28 years before had given the city a bad reputation, and the Daley Boys were determined to put things right.

“Hey there, chum, I’m the mayor now. It had better work!” said Richie. He’d been elected in 1989, and hadn’t lost since. He was 52, with brown hair, two years younger than Bill, who was almost bald.

“After all,” said Bill, enthusiastic cochair of Chicago ’96, the city’s convention host committee, “we are expecting 15,000 media representatives.”

The brothers hurried downstairs, where Maggie, Richie’s pretty wife, was preparing a tasty breakfast. “I wish the convention was three days instead of four,” grumbled Richie. “It’s gonna cost us a bundle.”

“No kidding, fella,” said Bill. “All those extra police and firefighters.”

Suddenly, the doorbell rang. Maggie put down her proposal to bulldoze Meigs Field and went to answer it. At the door was a short, perky woman with big eyes. She barged right into the house without wiping her feet.

“Debra DeLee!” the boys chimed. “Convention CEO for the Democratic Party!”

“That’s right, boys,” DeLee said, waving a piece of paper. “And don’t you forget it! I’m here to warn you not to cut back the convention schedule, or else!”

“But four days will be boring!” the boys whined.

“You listen, and listen good!” DeLee threatened. “President Clinton needs to get his message to the American people, and you’re not going to stop us!” She crinkled her nose and stormed out of the house.

“Gosh, what was the matter with her?” Bill asked.

“I don’t know,” Richie giggled. “But this is our city, and we don’t want bored reporters snooping around, digging up dirt.”

Bill looked thoughtful. “Gee, you know our old pal Arnie Karr, president of the Hotel/Motel Association? He was kind of upset too. He said cutting a day of the convention could cost $20 million.”

Just then the phone rang, and Bill answered. But he barely said anything. He just murmured, “Uh-huh, uh-huh. I see.” When he got off, his face was gray.

“What’s the matter, chum?” Richie said. “You look like you’ve just seen a ghost.”

“It’s our $32 million contract for goods, services, and cash for running the convention!” Bill said. “It’s missing!”

Maggie gasped, and dropped a plate of muffins.

“Oh no!” Richie said. “What would dad do?”

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): illustration/Albert Richardson.