CHICAGO (CBS) — Nine months after leaving City Hall, former Mayor Richard M. Daley isn’t letting the grass grow under his feet. Wednesday night, Daley opened up about his life out of office, and life without his late wife, Maggie.
The former mayor spoke publicly for the first time about his wife’s death and his life after running the city, during a reception at his law firm.
As CBS 2’s Dana Kozlov reports, Daley even said he misses the media.
“I missed you,” Daley said with his familiar laughter.
Now a private citizen, Daley is apparently happy to be out of public office, at least most of the time.
“The thing that I miss the most is Saturdays, because this is the day that you miss Chicagoans that are not on TV, and not in the newspaper; that do wonderful things for Chicago, that stand out in so many different ways in each community,” Daley said.
Daley spoke to reporters after announcing a new law office in Shanghai for Katten Muchin Rosenman, the law firm where he is now of counsel.
That link to Shanghai isn’t surprising, considering Daley traveled to China several times as mayor. He frequently took international trips to observe innovations in other major cities, often with Maggie, his wife of 41 years, by his side.
Maggie died last thanksgiving, just a week after their youngest daughter’s wedding.
“I had a wonderful marriage, a wonderful life, and you have good memories. Memories are important,” Daley said.
The former mayor said his kids have helped support him since Maggie’s death.
Keeping himself on schedule? Well, that’s another matter.
“Everything was organized. You know, vacations and all that,” Daley said. “So, now it’s like, I’m … what do you do? You know, how do you organize Friday, Saturday and Sunday? Things like that. But it happens to a lot of people in life, so it’s not just me.”
What Daley didn’t want to talk about was his successor, Mayor Rahm Emanuel.
“My theory is that, he is the mayor and I’m not … I don’t oversee or anything. I don’t question him. I don’t have any interviews about him. He’s doing a great job and that’s it,” Daley said.
Being mayor was a job Daley said he was ready to give up almost a year before announcing he wasn’t running for an unprecedented seventh term. He said he didn’t want anyone to think he wasn’t giving the job his full attention.
Does he resent the on-the-job scrutiny he faced?
“I enjoyed it. I liked the relationship. But, you know, I always believed that nothing was ever personal,” Daley said.
In fact, the former mayor once said “I get scrutined every day.” He might not have had the wording right, but he faced criticism as mayor every day, for things like no-bid contracts and questionable city deals.
History will decide his legacy.
In the meantime, Daley sits on the board of Coca-Cola, chairs J.P. Morgan Chase’s global cities initiative, and lectures at the University of Chicago; he’s anything but bored after retiring as mayor.