An Open Letter to Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley
Dear Mr. Mayor,
If you are reading this letter, it is probably because a copy was given to you by one of your aides or perhaps one of the many suburban business executives who you meet with in your office for counsel and maybe a few contributions.
The rift has grown ragged between you and those who report on you, comment on your policies and reflect on your decisions. It isn't because the media has changed. For 25 years, your squeaky-pitched press antics have been the subject of morning radio shows, edgy newspaper columns, dinner table discussions and tavern chat.
For the longest time, your tenure seemed defined by:
1. Your DNA, both personal and political.
2. Those flustered figures of speech you sometimes used.
3. The nice appearance of downtown Chicago and O'Hare airport.
As long as there was no paralyzing blizzard and the corruption was roughly an arm's length from your office, most people seemed willing to go along with you. Some even found you endearing and --dare I suggest -- cute. After all, as you once put it, "If a rat is on your sandwich, you hope to know it before. If a mouse is on your salad, it's common sense."
But it doesn't seem so cute anymore.
Although you have never offered to place a knife-tipped rifle in my "butt" as you suggested last week to another reporter in the now-infamous "bayonet incident," it is apparent that you especially don't care for my type: a journalist who lives in the suburbs.
And this is really what this letter is about.
I am part of that great suburban contingent that doesn't vote in Chicago. We don't depend on streets and san to pick up our garbage; we don't wait a year and a half for a city building permit; we aren't subject to any of the other municipal pleasures of living within the city limits.
So on the surface, you're probably right not to care much about what we think. We don't bow to City Hall.
But whether someone lives in Naperville or Northbrook, Oak Park or Oak Brook, Arlington Heights or Chicago Heights, there are many more of us who consider ourselves "Chicagoans" than there are actual Chicago residents. As you like to say, "Everybody knows THAT."
Here is why millions of us consider ourselves Chicagoans: We either grew up in Chicago or lived there for a time; we have relatives in Chicago; we still work in Chicago; we spend money in Chicago; we sit on boards in Chicago and we pay to support thousands of civic and charitable organizations in Chicago.
When you put out the call for help with the Olympics, suburban leaders and well-connected executives were among the first in line. …