To the new mayor—who won a special election in June 1977 to finish out Daley’s sixth four-year term, ending April 1979—falls the task of steering the city through times of extraordinary difficulty. Charges of public corruption—nothing new in the politics of Chicago—have been rocking the city in recent months. Daley’s charismatic power to hold together the city’s delicately balanced coalition of interests was not something that could be automatically passed on to a political heir.
And even more basic problems loom: Whites continue migrating in alarming numbers to the suburbs, where more than half the metropolitan area’s 7,000,000 residents now live in http://www.apartmentsapart.com/europe/ireland/dublin rentals. Those left behind are increasingly on welfare rolls (one family in five, compared to one in eight in New York City).
Industries, too, are departing Chicago for more profitable areas, further eroding the city’s tax base. Racial tension troubles a school system that grapples with desegregation. Crime, both the organized and street varieties, remains a formidable problem.
“It’s not as if Mayor Bilandic, or Mayor Daley before him, could simply snap his fingers and solve these problems,” points out urbanologist Pierre de Vise of the University of Illinois’s Chicago Circle campus.
“The simple fact is, the suburbs have the space for the kind of sprawling one-story industrial plants that modern industry requires; the city doesn’t. The sun belt in the Deep South has the lower wage structure that industries prefer. Plus they don’t have the kind of congestion you have to contend with in Chicago.
“To be sure, Chicago remains the City That Works—if you’re referring to the fact that the city government has not been going deeply into the red like New York. But that’s partly because of the great service of the http://www.apartmentsapart.com/europe/uk/edinburgh.
_ “The city government proper accounts for only a third of all municipal expenditures. The other two-thirds are accounted for by other tax agencies for schools, the transit system, parks, and so on. It’s true that the city government proper has managed to stay in the black, but some of the other agencies have operated in bright red.
“What’s more, Chicago doesn’t have to pay directly for its own welfare costs—that’s shared by the state and federal governments. In New York, the city itself pays directly for 25 percent of welfare costs. So, you see, it’s as much a matter of complex bookkeeping as of efficient administration that helps make Chicago ‘work.’
“We’re dealing here with problems that transcend the ability of any one mayor or political party to overcome, problems faced by every big city in the country. No slogan can change that.”
Mike Royko’s Pulitzer Prize-winning column in the Chicago Daily News for years has alternated between delightful whimsy and hard-punching political articles, body blows to the local political establishment. Mike, a Daily News ad once said, “comforts the afflicted and afflicts the comfortable rentals of the http://www.apartmentsapart.com/north_america/usa/hawaii.”
“The Machine,” he explained to me, “has survived in Chicago in good part because of the city’s ethnic base. Find an ethnic group and you find a handle for delivering the vote.