Budget, Banking, and BusinessMan on Five
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Daley brought financial skills to the job.
I felt that he was always prepared. He wasn’t just perfunctory about doing anything. It was not that he read through every prospectus of every one of our bonds. But he met with the people who did it and he got from them what he needed to know. He would make use of them making his decisions. He was always well advised and tried to be well advised. He had a lot of great advisors.
John Weithers, Public Building Commission Member, interview excerpt, October 7, 2003
Mayor Daley knew more about the budget than any of us did in the budget office. The mayor was the former Director of Revenue for the State of Illinois. He was the Cook County Clerk who, at the time, did the county budget. So he was in charge of the county budget and the Department of Revenue. So when he became the mayor, he knew about the budget just as well as anybody. And he was also, I’ll word it very carefully, he was very frugal with the city money. He kept his salary at thirty-five thousand dollars, which allowed the department heads – every year we’d get a small increase. But because we were pushing thirty five thousand . . . as long as he never had his salary increased, we could never go higher than his. But that was the mayor. He always looked out for the taxpayers.
Ed Bedore, City Budget Director, interview excerpt, May 18, 2009
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Bob Abboud [First National Bank of Chicago, President] always said he questioned him on the finances of the city and the county and said his knowledge was better than some of the bankers that were right there….And he would work all summer. He’d have all the heads of the departments start working 7:30 in the morning because, he said, between 7:30 and 9:00 he could accomplish more than later when the phone wasn’t ringing or anyone around. They would present their budgets in the summer. He would work with them. Then the budget would go through and he’d present it. But he knew every page of that budget.
Eleanor Daley, wife of Richard J. Daley, interview excerpt, October 9, 2002
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When money got tight, Daley offered his personal guarantee for the city’s finances. Click the play button to listen to this audio clip.
Audio: Ed Burke, Alderman, interview excerpt, October 20, 2014