CHICAGO (CBS/WBBM) — As he winds down his last few days in office, Mayor Richard M. Daley is reflecting on his legacy and the kind of honor he’d like after he ends his 22-year run at City Hall this coming Monday.
As WBBM Newsradio 780’s Regine Schlesinger reports, in an interview with The Associated Press, Daley says he doesn’t spend time thinking about his legacy.
LISTEN: Newsradio 780’s Regine Schlesinger reports
“I really don’t worry about history,” Daley said in the interview.
But he defends his most controversial decisions, from the bulldozing of Meigs Field in 2003 to the parking meter least deal in 2008.
Of the world leaders he has met in 22 years, Mayor Daley said the one who impressed him the most was Nelson Mandela, as someone who emerged from years of imprisonment unembittered.
Mandela says Mayor Daley is a “special, special man.”
Daley also says he doesn’t want his own special mayoral library, but maybe just an exhibit in one of the Chicago Public libraries, to honor his family’s longtime civic commitment to a city where his father also was mayor.
The late Richard J. Daley was the city’s political boss from 1955 to 1976, when he passed away. The younger Daley surpassed his father’s record term in office in December of last year.
The mayoral exhibit would display pictures from his time in office as well as his father’s, along with mementos and possibly his father’s desk, which the younger Daley used at City Hall.
“It’s not a mayoral library, it’d just be maybe a room this big,” he said gesturing around one of the rooms in his fifth-floor City Hall office suite that’s dominated by a long conference table where he spends much of his time.
Meanwhile, Daley has steadfastly refused to offer any advice to Mayor-elect Rahm Emanuel, who becomes Mayor Rahm Emanuel on Monday.
“It’s not appropriate,” Daley said. He also won’t say whether he planned to leave behind a note for Emanuel as is the tradition with outgoing presidents and their successors. “If it is, it’d be a personal letter,” Daley said.
One thing Daley definitely won’t leave behind is his gigantic aquarium with a few yellow fish swimming around in it. “You can’t leave this behind … here, I leave you three fish,” he joked.
Daley would not say what’s next for him as a private citizen, but don’t expect him to sit around.
“I have to work,” he said.
Daley said previously that he would go on the speaking circuit after leaving office. He has retained the Harry Walker Agency to book engagements.
The agency arranges paid speeches for a roster of politicians and celebrities, including former President Bill Clinton, cyclist Lance Armstrong, rock star Bono and astronaut John Glenn.
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