Tuesday, November 16th, 2010

After Daley’s Retirement, Chicago Needs a New Approach by Greg Hinz

[ Greg Hinz, reporter and columnist for Crain’s Chicago Business, would have to be on anyone’s short list for the best journalist in town. I’m a religious reader of his blog and if you’re in Chicago you should be too. This is one of his columns from a couple months ago that Crain’s was kind enough to allow me to reprint for you today. They didn’t make me say this, but if you want to be sure to read all of what Greg has to say, you should subscribe to Crain’s. – Aaron. ]

Note: The arranged period with Crain Communications for the re-publication of this article has expired and it has been removed.

Topics: Urban Culture
Cities: Chicago

11 Responses to “After Daley’s Retirement, Chicago Needs a New Approach by Greg Hinz”

  1. the urban politician says:

    Read that post a while back.

    I’m not sure anybody knows how to fix Chicago’s problems right now.

    Certainly the current major contenders for Mayor (Emanuel, Del Valle, Braun, Meeks, Chico, Davis) have offered very little.

    This race, like most political races, will be more about who has the most money & who can win the most votes–the typical numbers game–than anything else; at least that is how it appears to be shaping up.

    Where are the big, bold ideas? Getting rid of the employee head tax? Come on.

    Somebody needs to come in and say something transformative, and so far we haven’t heard that.

  2. the urban politician says:

    I am in the midst of reading “City of the Century” (and kicking myself for not having read this book sooner–a MUST read if you ask me, if you take any interest in this great metropolis’ history).

    What strikes me is just how bold and dedicated Chicago’s early leaders were–they devoted everything–to making Chicago what it became. They tied the well being of the fledgling city to their own moving earth and wind to create a nationally important city out of swampland and mud.

    Reading about these early generations really inspires one about the can-do spirit that created Chicago. I realize that we live in a very different world now, but what Chicago’s next mayor needs is that same spirit. Echoes of that spirit existed in Daley, to be fair, but Daley’s biggest flaw is that he ran out of ideas and got too tied up in the patronage machine.

    Lets hope that Chicago’s next mayor truly understands the enormity of the task at hand, and grasps what standards his/her great predecessors have set.

  3. marko says:

    Any Republicans or independents running? We would never know since they would get no media coverage. Chicago wont be fixed until the Democratic machine is dismantled. But when some 40% of the residents of the city work for a State, county, city or Federal job, its unlikely.

  4. Aaron Brown says:


    “But when some 40% of the residents of the city work for a State, county, city or Federal job, its unlikely.”


  5. Crossed Wires says:

    Looks like Indianapolis is going down the same path, and needs the same warning.

  6. Curt says:

    +1 Crossed Wires

  7. pete-rock says:


    Chicago’s mayoral election is technically nonpartisan. No party primaries, just a mass election. If the winner gets less than 50%, there’s a runoff election of the two top vote getters.

    As for your comment on 40% of residents working in city, state county or federal jobs, I’d like to see your source, too.

  8. Chris Barnett says:

    The 40% assertion is most likely high.

    The total state and local government employment statewide in Illinois is 789K. The Cook County non-farm private employment is 2,346K; statewide is 5,399K. So state and local government employ less than 15% of the state’s workers.

    For the assertion to be true, Chicago would have to have twice Illinois’ average percentage of state & local workers (30%), plus the Feds employing another 10% of Chicago’s working population (more than 100,000 people). Unlikely.

  9. Britt says:

    Roughly 10% of Chicago’s population is employed by the government.

    According to Crain’s Chicago Business, the top five employers in the city are: US gov, Chicago Public Schools, City of Chicago, State of Illinois, and Cook County. Adding in the Chicago Transit Authority at #13 totals to about 217,000 government employees. Chicago’s population is about 2.8 million.

    This may under count the number of government employees a bit, but it still seems safe to say that no more than 10% of the population works for the government.

  10. Ed Sanderson says:

    The 10% can only be correct if every employee of the top five employers (plus CTA) was a city resident. This may be true for CPS and city government (and CTA?) but not for the state, county or federal agencies.

  11. Scott in SC says:

    Whomever the next mayor of Chicago is, I hope he or she will make economic growth and diversification the number one priority because, without it, Chicago will not be able to continue to enact the grand urban plans that have made it what it is–a unique and spectacular urban center–and it will not be able to continue making me so proud of having grown up there.

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