The Chicago Reader has an interesting piece looking at who Mayor Rahm Emanuel meets with – and how this differs from Mayor Richard M. Daley’s approach:
In many ways, Emanuel’s schedule strikingly contrasts with his predecessor’s. Richard M. Daley is a Chicago guy, born and raised. Except for his college years in Providence, Rhode Island, he’s stayed here all of his life. And it shows in the people who had his ear: in addition to pols and big-shot business leaders, his meeting schedule was packed with the ministers of small churches, local school leaders, and owners of neighborhood businesses like the local sausage shop (see “Daley’s A-List”).
Emanuel, on the other hand, grew up in the north suburbs, went to college in New York, and spent the better part of the last two decades in Washington, first as an aide in the Clinton White House, then as a congressman, and finally, for almost two years, as Obama’s chief of staff.
Much of his mayoral schedule is taken up by meetings and calls with wealthy out-of-towners, many of whom have donated to his campaign. Indeed, it seems Emanuel has learned from his mentor, President Clinton. Under Clinton, the White House was open to big donors who got to spend the night in the Lincoln bedroom. In Emanuel’s case, he either invites them into his City Hall office or makes time to hang out at one of his favorite haunts…
Some days, Emanuel meets with more multimillionaires within an afternoon than most of us will cross paths with during our entire lives. On June 30, for example, after the mayor spent 30 minutes in his City Hall office with U.S. Treasury secretary Timothy Geithner, he took 15 minutes to meet with Marc Lasry, the billionaire CEO of Avenue Capital Group, a hedge fund operation. That was followed by 45 minutes with Stephen Ross, a New York-based real estate mogul and owner of the Miami Dolphins.
There could be two ways to view this:
1. This is good for Chicago. Due to Emanuel’s connections outside of Chicago, the city will benefit. The new mayor may spend a lot of time with out of town millionaires but these people could bring money and jobs into Chicago through this connection.
2. This is bad for Chicago. Emanuel is less involved with the “little people” of Chicago that are important for getting things done and working the patronage machine. Emanuel is more of a corporate mayor (having less time for local leaders) while Daley at least mingled with the commoners and neighborhood leaders knew they could meet with him at certain points.
I wonder how much of this should be chalked up to different styles of leadership, personal history, or simply a shift in what it means to be a politician today where Daley was following the example of his father while Emanuel is operating under the idea that politicians and businesses need to work together (perhaps the Bill Clinton model?).