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Ald. Mell Reflects On Decades In Politics

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UPDATED: 7/5/2013 6:53 p.m.

CHICAGO (CBS) – Retiring Chicago Alderman Richard Mell is talking about his nearly 40 years in city politics.

He spoke for more than an hour on his feelings about Rod Blagojevich and Harold Washington, CBS2’s Mike Parker reports.

Richard Mell, the legendary northwest side Chicago City Council member, said goodbye Friday to City Hall reporters who’ve been covering him for a third of a century.

It was a long goodbye.

“I don’t know how much time you’ve got,” Mell said, “but I thought I’d spend a career with you.”

And so he did, revealing his innermost thoughts.

About his son in law, Rod Blagojevich: They are still on the outs, and they haven’t spoken since the former governor went to prison.

“I wasn’t too happy with the people he surrounded himself with,” Mell said. “People loved him on the campaign trail. He was phenomenal but when it came to actual governing, it was a problem.”

On the mayor he bitterly opposed, Harold Washington: Mell said it was only after his death that he realized how deeply Washington was loved.

“It was Dr. Martin Luther King, Obama, Jesse Owens rolled into one. He was the epitome of their hopes and dreams.”

Why is he calling it quits now?

For one thing, he said, the death of machine patronage jobs.

“The opportunity to be able to be able to do things like that, to change people’s lives, those days were opportunities that today, is much more difficult.”

For another, Mell said he realizes he is a dinosaur in the 21st media century.

“One of the reasons I believe my time has come is that I’m not in the technology era like some of my colleagues. I don’t tweet, I have no Facebook, I have no voice mail.”

If you want to leave a congratulatory farewell for Richard Mell, don’t send him an e-mail.

He doesn’t read them.

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