Studs Terkel discusses contemporary Chicago politics with Dick Simpson and Mike Royko
BROADCAST: Jul. 22, 1971 | DURATION: 00:50:41
Discussing Mayor Daley and nepotism in government with Alderman Dick Simpson, and author-journalist Mike Royko. Includes clips of Mayor Daley defending his appointment of Thomas P. Keane, son of Alderman Tommy E. Keane. Also includes Mike Royko reading his column from the "Chicago Daily News" July 22, 1971.
Tap within the transcript to jump to that part of the audio.
Studs Terkel [ k [recording of Mayor Richard J. Daley at City Council meeting] That was the climax of a most remarkable outburst by the mayor of our city yesterday in the council chambers. The newspapers report it is the most singular one in all 16 years of his office. It was directed at an alderman of the 44 ward -- my alderman, Alderman Dick Simpson -- who teaches at the University of Illinois - Circle Campus, and Dick is here at this very moment before he attends takes over class at -- by the way, classes that have been attacked by the mayor during this outburst, which we hear more later. Could you start at the beginning. What happened, Dick? What happened yesterday at the council chambers?
Dick Simpson Well, we had a really a series of conflicts. There had been some earlier appointments and objections by minority aldermen and the appointment of Tom Keane Jr. came up -- Tom Keane Jr. being appointed to the Zoning Board of Appeals, the most important board dealing with real estate in the city -- and Alderman cousins had made a a plea again that the mayor should not appoint members so close to him to all of the positions in the city. That you often ought to broaden the base. And there have been 2 or 3 laudatory speeches of the sort, "I've known Tommy since he was a young boy, and he's a fine man, and we ought to appoint him for the job."
Dick Simpson Well, it concerns Four Plus Ones, but it really concerns every building for which the zoning requires a special variation or a special use. In other words, if someone wants to go in a business district and put a residential apartment, they have to get clearance. If they want to build a building taller than an area or, more likely, cover more lot area, they go into the zoning board and say this is the reasons that we need a special variance, and the board either grants it or fails to grant
Dick Simpson . That's right. The original -- the city code will be adhered to by the departments. If a developer needs to have a special use or a special permit, he goes to the Zoning Board of Appeals and puts this case. Some are good uses and some aren't--
Studs Terkel Sure
Dick Simpson But a very important board. And I had -- we'd all been worried about the appointment because it was such a blatant appointment. Usually the appointments are have minor conflicts of interest or have some problems, but this one was astounding in that it had a double a double conflict apparent, and I stood up--
Dick Simpson Well, that's the very point I made on the floor. What I said very simply was that I thought that people were going to question this appointment on two grounds. One was the ground of nepotism. That here you had two sections of government going to be under the same family and that that was bad in and of itself. And the second was that here you have the most powerful real estate board in the city, and the appointee was going to be represented for the firm of Arthur Rubloff.
Dick Simpson Keane worked, Keane works -- that was the surprising point is you had two, and it seemed to me two bad precedents. One is the precedent that you were you were closing government to sort of a family corporation of several important families in the city, instead of opening it up. And second, and just as important, somehow on all of these boards that are appointed in the city it's the important firms of the city that get represented. It's not the it's not the all the other elements of the public interest. It's not the small firms. It's not the little real estate man. It's always from Arthur Rubloff's firm or one of the similar ones.
Dick Simpson Yeah, I just made the very point that that I thought this was going to be questioned, and the mayor, more or less, yelled back, "Well, who's going to question it. And I said, "Well, I know my students are. I'm going to teach class tomorrow, and I know I'm going to be asked the question again, which I'm constantly asked, about the city, about whether or not ours is a fair form of government and that kind of question." And I said that I didn't think that there was a good precedent to undermine the faith in the government of the city of Chicago, not by this one appointment, but by continual appointments which represent either family interests or represent major business interests in the city and that it didn't open up the area of government for full participation. It didn't inspire confidence. It's undermined the government. And I sat down and 5 other aldermen leaped up and and all said things that I was stupid, I didn't walk my dog properly, didn't clean up after him, the argument about another ordinance that we had tried to to propose that, [yeah?], that it wasn't fair for us to propose because Alderman Singer didn't even have a dog, and [Linda Pré? Prey? Pray?] and I had had dogs, but weren't already obeying the new law that wasn't in effect. And then they tried to raise, oh, a whole series of of petty personal issues. Alderman Singer and I had refused to vote in council at the last council meeting and were officially censored in the journal because they put two appointments, one of which we approved and one which we disapproved, together and forced us to vote on the matter in Alderman Singer and I as a matter of conscience simply refused to vote. It caused a huge furor last last council meeting. We've been in a stir each council meeting over something. All of this finally boiled down, and the vote was taken. And Alderman Singer returned at that point, and at first had thought maybe he would go ahead and vote -- it was very tough to tell whether we should vote on Tom Keane Jr. when we're making a case about the system -- that I'd voted against and Alderman Singer, on reflection and particularly when the mayor started reading his poetry, changed his vote and said he was also against.
Studs Terkel Oh, now you say the mayor read poetry. We'll come to that poem later on. In fact, we'll hear the mayor's voice reading the poem. He started, he what was he, did take a poem out of his pocket?
Dick Simpson Yes, really. At that point just before it was announced he started reading this poem, and Alderman Singer interrupted him to say he'd changed his vote and voted no. And between my provocation of my speech and Alderman Singer changing his vote the mayor just flew into a tirade. He made the most anti-intellectual, anti-university, anti-student, anti-thought. Apparently, there is something evil in the notion that anyone could question his policy of appointment. That he took the whole matter personally and felt that somehow he was under attack and the attack must have hurt because he carried forth, at least, must have been 10 or 15 minutes.
Dick Simpson Well, not entirely. We just had 5 other Alderman do the do lesser, that were less able and less carried away. So no, I knew the moment I opposed the appointment of Tom Keane Jr. that it would be a problem. I didn't, it doesn't matter to me whether the mayor makes the attack or the alderman does.
Studs Terkel I mean, the newspapers all -- and, of course, we'll hear the speech later, and it is the most singular one I've ever heard in this country in as far as tenor, voice, emotion, everything. I mean, we taken aback by the fury of it, you see.
Dick Simpson I guess I really wasn't. That it fairly frequent practice in the council. Claude Holman being the greatest single practitioner to be terribly vicious, to bring in entirely irrelevant matters, and to make pointed personal attacks, so that the mayor's was simply a little longer, a little more irrational than usual, but not--
Dick Simpson Yes, the sentences tended not to -- I mean, they fit together when you read them back, but there were very loose connections. It was never clear when he was gesturing at me and when he was talking about -- it was clear what it triggered was an immense discomfort, dislike, perhaps hate of of the universities which were causing such problems. Somehow all of the problems, the questions about government were the universities. That we were responsible for people losing faith in city government. That we taught things that were bad. No question that, perhaps, the appointment may not be in good taste at the very least.
Studs Terkel And so I want to understand what happened. All, what brought this up was you -- you probably can gather, notice that Dick seems rather calm. He used to be a YMCA worker. Now is an alderman, teaching at the University of Illinois - Circle campus. That you are questioning an appointment that you felt involved a conflict of interest in a matter involving realty and zoning.
Studs Terkel We're going to hear, during, a colleague was able to tape -- maybe the only one in the city -- the mayor's speech, it was on a cassette and later on transformed onto tape, which we'll hear. At the time Mike Royko was a guest on the program. After Dick Simpson has to -- Professor Simpson has to leave for class, but you yourself brought a poem down. Hey, before you read that, your poem by by Auden, any other thought comes to your mind?
Dick Simpson Well, The thing that occurs to me is that that we had hit a sensitive issue, more sensitive than we knew that that you don't get an explosion like this. If there isn't a really deep seated problem and it's do -- the the thing that threw them was not the charge about Arthur Rubloff, which I think is the more serious of the two, but the charge about nepotism, and it's double formed. There are two problems. One, that anyone would question the mayor on his appointment and particularly that it be from the university. That somehow the university is raising questions about the conduct of government that they see as a real threat. And it's really not that. It's that the youth of this city are disenchanted with the government. That's well known. I've raised it many times, you know. That you just cannot go among youth in the city and get the kind of pluralities that the mayor got the last time in the election among the adults, and even that was a very special election. This this problem, you know, it just opened up a Pandora's Box ,and Alderman Keane spoke later reflecting much of the same same thing. I was amazed because Alderman Keane is the brightest man on the council, without a doubt, and very able. He's been -- he spoke to my class before. He's very good with a college class. But he made really stupid statements like more Americanism ought to be taught, cliches bantered about that somehow again it was the universities that were undermining, or questioning, were opening up questions about government. I felt like all I did was just say a very simple truth. I mean, you know, to charge that nepotism in this town's almost a joke. Everybody in the city knows there's nepotism there's no question of that. But somehow by saying there was nepotism, I said the Emperor didn't have clothes, and you got this emotional reaction which showed that that's something I said -- what part of it is hard to tell -- something I said triggered off some truth. It was very painful and the reaction was an attack back.
Studs Terkel We'll pick this up with the Mike Royko will be coming to the studio this morning. His column in today's "Daily News" deals with this theme. Dick Simpson, alderman, 44 Ward is my guest before he goes to his class. And there was a poem -- what happened? Well, perhaps I could read the poem that was read by the mayor yesterday by Grace Noll Crowell. It's called "Sons." He had it in his pocket and pulled it out.
Dick Simpson Alright
Studs Terkel It's called "Sons." The mayor read yesterday, and you'll hear it on tape in a moment. But since my colleague had the tape recorder a distance from the podium, and the mayor's voice itself rose, it's -- you may not get all the words, and he read it. And the papers describe it as his eyes becoming moist as he read it. In reply to Dick Simpson's charge of nepotism, "To press my lips against the fair cheek or brow of my young sons. So long I have stooped down, but suddenly today to my surprise I find that I must rise on toe tips and reach up to kiss their fair lips. These tall young sons as straight as any pine can they be mine? Soon I must share them. Soon I know they will go, but oh, I am so glad that I have had small sons to stoop to, tall sons to reach to, clean sons to give that other sons might live." And that was the poem.
Dick Simpson That was the poem, yes, an amazing poem. I on reflection in talking with my wife last night, we recalled a poem done by Auden, which is a somewhat different sort. It's called "Epitaph on a Tyrant" -- "Perfection of a kind was what he was after, and the poetry he invented was easy to understand. He knew human folly like the back of his hand and was greatly interested in armies and fleets. When he laughed respectable senators burst with laughter, and when he cried the little children died in the streets."
Studs Terkel Yeah, two poems, one read by the mayor, "Sons" by Grace Noll Crowell. The other read by Alderman Simpson of the 44 ward by Auden. Any -- this is your first term as alderman. Have you something you've learned you didn't know before or the nature [of these what?]?
Dick Simpson A lot of things. I'm very pleased about yesterday. I've I've been very frustrated in the council. This week we won one issue and we lost one. We lost the dog ordinance, and we won the Four Plus One issue, and there were 8 hours of testimony in each case and sometimes longer. We sat and we heard hundreds of witnesses. In the case of the dog ordinance we heard citizens and health experts. In the case of Four Plus One ordinance we heard mostly developers who didn't want it. And I was amazed both when I won and when I lost, I was ashamed. I was ashamed because it was clear that the decisions had been made before we ever started. That that whole troop of 70, 80 witnesses were coming down and were saying what they believe, but the decision was already made. It was just a ratifying process, and there was just nothing could be done to affect the process that we hadn't done ahead of time. When we won it was because we put immense pressure on. It wasn't because we could argue the case, or we could develop the legislation. I think that's been -- although I've known it in the abstract -- the the terrible part of being part of the council is that constant constant attempt to try and make the minor changes and make important criticisms and never having a chance, never being listened to. And they can argue either side. You take one side, they'll argue the other and beat you 45 to 2. Take the other side around they'll do the same thing on the other side. The whole quest of of a decent search for truth and for reasonable legislation for the public interest doesn't occur. I'm going to talk to a class today about the legislative process and the City Council and I have to say it's not a legislature. It doesn't, the legislative process doesn't occur. We pass things, but we passed what the mayor tells us to pass.
Dick Simpson Yes. I've been doing that for years. There were all sorts of strange incongruities in the speech. He made the charge that intellectuals sit on the sideline and don't participate. Of course, I just went and beat the Democratic Party in the primary, and I've hardly sat on the sidelines for the last several years. You say, don't participate in the electoral process. Hell, I beat them at the electoral process several times running.
Studs Terkel So I'm now seated in the studio with Mike Royko, and perhaps there is no journalist in the city, and certainly in our time, who has taught us as much about the city as Mike as the columnist, daily columnist, "The Chicago Daily News" and most recently, of course, with his best selling book I'm happy to note, "Boss Richard J. Daley of Chicago" that Dutton publishes. Well, Mike your thoughts in hearing Alderman Simpson, and later on, of course, you read your column in today's "Daily News" [sic]. Your thoughts on yesterday's event? Where do we begin?
Mike Royko Well, as Alderman Simpson said it wasn't a real surprise that Daley went off that way. The puzzle is -- but it was more extreme than anything I've ever seen, and anything that people who've covered him since he became mayor have ever seen. And I'm starting to wonder why, you know. He's always been able to -- he's had these minor outbursts, but he's always, there one shot things then it'll be calm for a long time. Now it seems like a cascade of emotion. Few weeks ago there was a big outburst because of the stadium where he accused -- reporters asked simple question and he said you have polluted minds, sick minds. And people don't know it, but at a private meeting he read the, tore the head of the architect that came up with this stadium in response to Daley's command to come up with the plans for a stadium, and now he's blaming the architect. He got him in there was some other city officials and, you know, screamed at him. And that's getting worse and worse, and I'm starting to get a little concerned, you know. We're going to have him for 4 years. And as satisfying as it is to me to see him confirming most of the things I wrote in the book, I'm getting a little nervous,
Studs Terkel Well, you did prophesize -- not prophesize. You said continuously that with a fifth term and, of course, the overwhelming mandate he received by more than 400,000 plurality, you were saying the next 4 years that the question of power is involved here too, isn't it? There was, aside from the stadium matter, there was the matter of also pointing Kerry without consulting his own citizens committee too.
Mike Royko Right. Well now, I think that that's it. He, I think he thought -- if he gave it any thought -- that there would, no one would question anything he did from this point on. And I think it's also time. In the past whenever he was run into snags you always thought, "Well, there's time," you know. In the second term he thought he'd do it in his third term. In his third term there was time to undo these things in his fourth term. He could always come back, but this is it. This the last term, and it's the term where he's got to consolidate everything for the people he wants to take over, and things aren't going the way wants.
Studs Terkel Of course, there are also something else involved here -- things not quite going the way he wants. He's also, now we know, a national power too. Just yesterday he, or day before, he designated, just out of the blue, the mayor of Milwaukee as possible vice presidential candidate. I mean, that's why presidential candidates wait till the time comes, though, he indeed were appointing them.
Mike Royko Yeah. Well, I think I really think with the thing with the mayor of Milwaukee he was just sort of goofing around. I think he likes to do that because he knows full well that he's not going to have any say in who the vice president is. The presidential nominee decides who's going to be the vice
Studs Terkel This leads to a question. Many of your columns deal with this, and your boss book [chuckling], your book "Boss" deals with it. I'm thinking about the committees of respectable citizens of the city as well as [artisan?] publishers of all four papers, not the journalists I'm happy to not. But the committees of the respectable citizens who have sang his praises and, of course, who campaigned vigorously for an overwhelming mandate for his fifth term, their thoughts and their role in this matter. Are they silent now?
Mike Royko Well, I think that when you talk -- when you think about the respectable, the committees of prominent citizens in this town you got to keep in mind what I've often suggested is the, should be the city's slogan, "Ubi Est Mea?" "Where's Mine?" There's, when you get all these respectable citizens together you got to think about what's what's in it for them. And so often the respectable citizens are real estate men and corporate creatures who who've done so well with this guy as mayor. But yeah, they're going to be quiet because they're the ones who made him, you know. The editorial writers and the publishers of the newspapers and the big people downtown, the State Street people, the financiers. There the ones who wanted him and -- if they didn't want him, I don't think he'd be there. I think, I don't think he could have held on for 5 terms unless he had their support.
Mike Royko Yeah well, this one this one was so blatant. Here's Tom Keane, the number 2 man in the party in the city. He's already got his brother sitting on the Board of Tax Appeals, which is probably, when it comes to real estate one of the more influential. This is where you go when you think your assessment is too high, which therefore makes taxes higher. And if the assessor's office won't lower your assessment, which seems unthinkable, but if he won't lower your assessment, then you go over and appeal to this 2 man board and one of the men on the board is George Keane. And, you know, this is tremendously powerful -- and it's Tom Keane's brother. Now he's got his brother over on this board, and he's going to put his son on the Zoning Board. And everyone, and besides Tom Keane son, let's look at who else has been appointed to this board. Tom Keane's son got all the attention, but another appointee is Buddy Finley -- little Buddy Finley -- the mayor's neighbor. The mayor took Buddy Finley in hand when he was just a kid out of the Navy, and he's brought him along politically. He's a real estate guy. Buddy Finley is very active in real estate in the mayor's area. He's the one that the mayor when he was going to Springfield for his first term, and the mayor with the good code of ethics of his, cautioned him, "Never taken a nickel. Just give me your business card." [Laughter] And so you give a guy like that advice is give me your business card and you put him on the Zoning Board. And another guy going on the Zoning Board is Nick Bosen who -- or he's on the Housing Authority board. There's another appointment, and his father was the patronage boss for Otto Kerner. He was patronage boss for the Democratic State Committee. You know, everywhere. You don't you don't get anywhere, you don't walk in off the street. It's nonsense for the mayor to talk about -- to act indignant about nepotism.
Studs Terkel We'll end the program with your reading your column in today's "Daily News" [sic], but perhaps we should also hear the speech now in full of the mayor yesterday. Since it was done with a cassette from a distance by a colleague of Mike's, and it was somewhat refined because of the mayor's tenor a lot of the words are indecipherable or incomprehensible. So but the papers -- most of the papers printed most of it, so perhaps we should read that. "In answer to Dick Simpson's comment that my students will question: who [unintelligible] my students? The mayor's voice rose and shook repeatedly. He laid aside the text." First he'd read the poem that you had heard read. Well, perhaps you'd read it again. No we'll hear that on -- all right his poem. You don't think so.
Studs Terkel It'll be heard. Here is the speech: The mayor said, "I hope the halls of all the great educational institutions will stop being places of agitation, hatred against the society. Talk about the young people with their cynical smiles and their fakery of polluted minds and the idea that I made this appointment because a man's name was Keane and he was son of a famous member of this council. I made this appointment because I have known Tommy Keane, whom I appointed, since he was a baby. I know his mother, a fine polish American woman. Should that boy be told by this professor , any professor he can't hold office because his name is Keane. Where are we going" [papers rustling] -- as I turn the page -- "with this kind of society. Where are we going with these kind of educators"? And Daley shouted at Simpson, "You are doing these things to young people of our country. Let's start telling the truth. The appointment was never a made at the request of Alderman Keane. A teacher's supposed to be dedicated. Tell the truth. What kind of truth is that"? And then there were young people in the City Council who were questioning the mayor by their attitudes and applauding Simpson. "You can heckle all you want," said the mayor. "Let's look at the record of the universities, what they're doing to the minds. Is this what's being told to them, I made the appointment because he's son of a chairman of the Finance Committee? Well, I made the appointment because a fine young man, a decent Chicagoan and to do otherwise would be fakery, and that is what we have too much of in education today: hypocrites and fakers afraid to face the truth, afraid to let the young people go into the combat of election contests. They want to stand behind the cloak of a great university and tell how wrong our country is, how wrong our society is. They know nothing about it. They refuse to take any steps to correct it. They haven't got the guts to tell what's wrong with this young man." Keane, he's talking about. "That's what's being taught today, and he" -- pointing at Simpson -- "is not the only one. He's typical of large numbers in universities polluting the minds of young people. Who creates the fear"? And then he ends by saying, "If he is one of the teachers" --meaning Simpson -- "God help our society" -- out of which the applause. And now, the speech:
Mike Royko Well yeah, because I think this is what we're going to get for 4 years. He's going to -- things are going to be rough for him. It's not going to be an easy 4 years. He doesn't have the -- he won big, but there's so much more going on. And he's got he's got all kinds of troubles, and if if he's going to respond this way to something as mild as Dick Simpson said, and something as, obviously, true -- the question of nepotism -- then when the big things come along, I don't know what to expect.
Mike Royko I think that, you know, his role as kingmaker at Democratic conventions, if he pops up there and starts acting this way, you won't need a riot. All you have to do is get a little bit of this on television, and it could bring about the same, for the Democrats, it could bring about the same feelings among the voters of that this party is chaotic that you had in '68. He did it in '68. I'm convinced that he got, he elected Nixon in '68 just by his handling of the convention. And if he goes down to Miami and starts throwing his weight around this visibly again down there, he could have the same tone.
Mike Royko Yeah, and I, you know, I also I say that anyone was going to buy the paper to not to buy the first edition because you won't understand on the basis that. The printers must have had roaring time down in the Billy Goat's Tavern last night before they put the column together [laughter]. "Before Mayor Daley made the most hysterical speech of his career because somebody accused him of giving city jobs to sons of his cronies, he quietly read a poem. And the poem about fathers and sons was a fitting topic because the mayor had just put Alderman Tom Keane's boy on the powerful City Zoning Board of Appeals. The poem was so touching I'm going to share with you: 'To press my lips against the fair cheek or brow of my young sons. So long have I stooped down, but suddenly today to my surprise I find that I must rise on toetips and reach up to kiss their fair lips. Those tall young men, as straight as any pine, can they be mine? Soon I must share them. Soon I know they will go, but oh, I am so glad that I have had small sons to stoop to, tall sons to reach to, clean sons to give that other sons might live.' The poem gave me a much clearer picture of how city hall politics works. Now I understand that there must have come a day when Peter Shannon, one of the mayor's old buddies, said to his boy Dan, 'But suddenly today to my surprise I find that I must rise on toetips and reach up to kiss your fair lips.' 'Why, Pop?' Dan might have responded. 'Because my pal, the mayor, is making you president of the Park District. That's why. Go put on a tie.' The mayor's old neighborhood buddy, Morgan Murphy of Commonwealth Edison might have said to his lad, Morgan Jr., 'This tall young man as straight as any pine can he be mine?' 'Sure Pop, I'm yours,' Morgan Jr. would have chirped. 'Good, my friend, the mayor, is sending you to Congress. Go wash your neck.' [laughter] The mayor himself might have looked at his son Richard and said, 'Soon I must share you. Soon I know you will go.' 'Go where, Pop?' 'Springfield, I'm making you a Con Con delegate.' The sons too might have uttered some poetry, 'But oh, I am so glad to have had a pal of the mayor for a dad.' That's what Alderman [Tetsronowski?] might have said when his pa, a ward boss sent him to the city council, or Sheriff Dick Elrod whose dad was a loyal ward chief in the mayor's organization, or Congressman Dan Rostenkowski whose dad was the same, or Police Superintendent James Conlisk whose dad was a friend of the mayor, or County Commissioner Jack Tewey whose dad was one of the mayor's ward leaders, Judge Louis Garippo [Ditto?] and on and on you can go. Few big man in the machine didn't have it handed down to them presumably with a kiss and a verse from old dad. Alderman Tom Keane's father was an alderman before him, and Tome Keane made sure his brother George got on the County Board of Tax Appeals. Parky Cullerton traces his family back to a Cullerton who spent a record 49 years on the city council in the nineteenth century. When Parky became assessor he made his little brother Willie an alderman. They've been getting brows in the Cullerton family for almost a century. Coroner Andrew Toman's father was the sheriff. Neil Hartigan's is the Park District's attorney, and his father was an alderman. Deputy Mayor David Stahl is the son-in-law of one of the mayor's intimates. Richard Curry runs the city's huge legal department. Mayor Daley is his cousin. And before Mayor Daley's cousin ran the legal department, Raymond Simon had the job, and his father was one of the mayor's neighborhood buddies. But oh, I am so glad that I have had tall -- that I have had small sons to stoop to, tall sons to reach to, and a son to appoint as acting committeeman of the eleventh ward, as the mayor just did with one of his boys. Clean sons to give that other sons might live. Sometimes, but young Alderman Burke got a deferment. That's why he could take his father's place on the city council and is a Southside ward boss. The expressway is named after Dan Ryan who ran the County Board, but which Dan Ryan, the father or the son? [laughter] They both held that office, and now the widow of the younger is on the County Board. During the ear-splitting tirade that followed his poem, the mayor said it is a terrible lie that he gave the job to young Keane because his father is the number 2 man in Chicago politics. Quote, 'I have made this appointment,' the mayor screamed, 'because I have known Tommy Keane since he was a baby. I know his mother Adeline Keane, one of the finest women in the country, a fine Polish-American woman.' So is mine boss. So is mine. When do I go on the payroll." [laughter]
Mike Royko As long as everyone's doing poems today, Studs. I threw one in the column, which I skipped over. "We once had a mayor named Dunn, and the judge by that name is his son. Not to mention the one who's the younger Judge Dunn, and he is that mayor's grandson." [Laughter]
Studs Terkel He wasn't even talking about nepotism. This is the column, today's "News" [sic], of Mike Royko. One of the alderman earlier was defining nepotism. He says, he was going into the Greek origins of the word indicating -- he was pointing out that Dick Simpson hadn't the vaguest idea what it is about -- that Simpson was an idiot is what they were alluding to. And they were all going to defining definitions of the word. They were scholarly in doing this. Mike, where does this leave us now at this moment in this city?
Mike Royko Oh, I don't know. We're probably just where we were 4 years ago, I think, or 8 years ago or 12 years ago or 16 years ago. I don't think things are really any worse. I think I think they're just, you know, the same, which isn't good.
Studs Terkel Well, except for this, this is the fifth -- I was about to say fifth regime -- fifth term of the same mayor, unprecedented in any city. I don't know of anywhere in the world and certainly anywhere in this country, the question of power, I'm talking about. And out of the, what appears to be a singular emotional speech yesterday, you think might have encores at one point or another? Something like that?
Mike Royko Oh, yeah yeah. I think that he -- as I say it's a question of time now. He's always had, you know, in the past he could always look ahead. Well, you know, they'll be another term after this one and another term after that one. And now this is it. He's he's got these 4 years, and there are things he definitely wants to do. He wanted, he wanted that monument. He wanted that sports stadium. He wanted that airport on the lake. And he's been frustrated in that. He wants to set his sons up as big name in the organization. He wants, he wanted to leave the organization in the hands of certain people. Well, some of these certain people are going to be, possibly, in very deep trouble for income tax matters.
Mike Royko Yeah sure. There's this grand jury -- see that, you know, they like to go after each other. The Democrats when they had, when they were in Washington they put Willy Stratton on trial and tried to try to nail him. And the income tax people are going after Daley's crowd. And he, you know, Eddie Hanrahan, he wanted, he was one of his his favorites, and now he's got all these problems with Hanrahan. And he's, I'm sure, looking ahead with a great deal of fear towards the '60, toward the '72 election. Not the presidential election. He's not worried about that. He can live with a Republican president.
Mike Royko Yeah, but he's he's worried. What really worries him is the thought of losing, for instance, the state's attorney's office. If he loses that, the goes the moral game. I think that -- I would guess, politically, that is the foremost thing on his mind because if he loses the state's attorney's office, I would say that that is the beginning of the end of the the machine as we know it.
Mike Royko Well, no I don't think you'll hear anything from them, and I can't place, you know, I can't really say that they are, they're the ones who did it. Remember 70, what is it, 71, 72 percent of the people -- the voters in Chicago -- went out there and said this is the guy. And also remember that that collection of clowns in the City Council are put there by by the people, by the voters in the wards. And as big a factor as, that voter fraud is and that theft is and that political pressures are, all the things the the machine can do, intimidation and so on, they they can't do that to the point where they will elect this huge majority of aldermen. And a great deal of it has to be -- the biggest factor has got to be simple indifference--
Studs Terkel Well,
Mike Royko On the part of the electorate. You know, They're really the, [Studs he?] the people in this city, and to a great extent in this country, just seem to take their vote so much for granted and take the process so much for granted. They let it fall into the hands of people like this. You shouldn't only have out of 50 aldermen in a city of, what is it, 3 and a half million: 1 Linda [Prey?] And 1 Dick Simpson and 1 Singer and 1--
Studs Terkel Cousins
Mike Royko Cousins. There's just so few, you know, and then what do you get? You get the rest of them, both Democrats and Republicans, all eating out of the same trough. One of the people, incidentally, who got up and made one of the most ringing endorsements of Tom Keane's son was Jack Sperling, a Republican alderman, who's been sitting there was a Republican for years, supposedly one of the mayor's opponents. And, you know, he got up there, and he sounded just like an administrative alderman, so if anybody wants to put any money you can bet that it's going to be Judge Sperling one of these days when a Republican alderman start sweet-talking like that, they see a black robe in their future.
Studs Terkel There's one thing that you talk about in your book that at this moment we didn't -- you spoke of the overwhelming majority of people apathy, and the word is fear. A word that was used by the mayor today, which could have ironic overtones. Who creates fear.
Mike Royko If you live in the city of Chicago, you got to fear is that these, all these chickens are going to come home to roost, you know. The, I think that at the end of this 4 years people are going to realize they don't live in a model city, which is what he's been peddling all this time in the one city that is managed well, then we find out they aren't. I mean, ask the people in Woodlawn how well this city is managed. I think a lot of the people who have been backing him, you know, people on the northwest side and the southwest side, suddenly, they're finding he wants to take their money and build football fields with it, and things like that. They're in for 4 years of, I think, of great disenchantment.
Studs Terkel Perhaps that last question, Mike, and that's the one -- yesterday as a continuation, obviously, did not happen suddenly, the accumulation of his frustrations. The stadium, that remarkably overwhelming negative comments by everybody including his supporters, it would seem.
Mike Royko He didn't think that the people would respond that way. I think both he and the "Chicago Tribune" thought that, you know, it would be like McCormick Place. There would be a few people squawking, and that would be it, but McCormick Place was long before people became aware of the problems with their environment, long before the word ecology became such a standard part of the vocabulary. And it's it's a different thing now. And I knew it was going to happen. I've been writing about -- I called the shot on the stadium on the lakefront about 2 and a half years ago when I started to realize that's where they were going to finally say they wanted it. And every time I wrote a column I got a fairly big response from readers saying, you know, "Go at him." And so I knew that the feeling was there. And oh, as soon as the mayor announced it "The Tribune" [sic] came out and said, oh, well there's the usual flurry, you know, of complaints, but that won't last. Well, it lasted. Mayor's never seen anything like it.
Studs Terkel That's the last question. Well, naturally, being a Pollyanna, although less and less of that, look for glimmers of hope. Your responses to your column -- and your columns, which are pretty powerful and, if there is such a word, indictful -- the responses you get, Mike, do they indicate more and more of a feeling?
Mike Royko On certain things. Something like that, yes, because I don't see how Daley could have been so foolish. There was dynamite, political dynamite there. You don't go out and say I'm going to build a football field for George Halas, and you're going to pay for it, which is in effect what he did. He didn't say they'd pay for it, but everybody else said they would. And, you know, now you're taking that bungalow owner who didn't mind when you slapped kids on the head in '68, now you're saying, "Hey, you're going to pay for George Halas' ballpark" and that's a different matter. That's his dough.
Studs Terkel So quite clearly then yesterday's remarkable outburst had a basis in preceding events. My guest this morning has been Mike Royko for most of the program and earlier Alderman Simpson who's questioning the mayor's appointment set off the tirade that you, no doubt, read about in the papers, and Mike Royko, my guest. The book he's written, of course, is "Boss: Richard J. Daley of Chicago," Dutton the publishers. And as the good grey poet said about Chicago, "city of broad shoulders," and then he said some other poem, "Where to? What next." Mike Royko, thank you very much, and in absentia, thank you, Alderman Simpson.