A few days have passed since Richie Daley lit a fire under Northwest Indiana’s community leaders.
The former Chicago mayor addressed 650 people last week during the annual One Region luncheon in Merrillville
He also met privately with nine of Northwest Indiana’s 11 mayors.
It seemed like a new Daley. He was relaxed and responsive.
He didn’t mince words on some of the hot issues. Unlike his days as mayor when he was walking a tightrope with the Chicago media and choosing his words carefully, he was quick to comment and offer his opinion.
I asked him about the plan for a “third airport” near Peotone.
He leaned back in his chair, laughed and said, ”It will never be built.”
One of the Northwest Indiana mayors inquired about the difficulty of working with the federal government.
That led to testy comments on how Washington is in gridlock.
“It is a bureaucracy,” he said. ”Too much power has been shifted from the president to Congress.”
He is genuinely concerned about the future of the nation with the constant infighting in Congress.
Over and over he urged Democratic and Republican party lines be forgotten and for Americans to come together to face the nation’s critical issues.
In his post-mayoral years he has taken on a role of elder statesman, getting involved with various organizations studying global issues.
He’s traveled many times to China, been in Brazil and a handful of other nations.
From that experience he is able to challenge American business – small and large – to look at nations around the globe as friends, not the enemy.
But he is also focused closer to home with a Chicago neighbor – Gary.
Through his affiliation with the University of Chicago, he has a student class helping with studies in Gary – housing stock, abandoned buildings and so on.
Daley himself has helped with a neighborhood cleanup there.
The bottom line is a new Richie Daley. The passion he exhibited as mayor remains. The drive for positive change is ever evident.
Mayor Daley is a man on a mission, and he is quick in wanting to reach his goal.