Outgoing Mayor Richard M. Daley wants some members of his current detail of bodyguards to keep watching his back after he is out of office. Problem is, the security team would likely be funded at taxpayer expense. And Daley's requests don't end with the security detail, according to reports. A piece in the Chicago Sun-Times claims that Daley also wants cars made available for he and his wife, Maggie.
But Daley’s timing couldn’t be worse. Considering the fact that Chicago has cut back on services left and right and the 2011 city budget is somewhere between $500 million and $700 million in the red, the requests seem slightly out of whack.
Will incoming Mayor Rahm Emanuel and the new City Council be the ones to make the final call on whether to bestow a civilian Daley with a security detail -- and how long that protection will last? It's pretty clear that he may need one, but can Chicago afford to foot the bill? And can the Chicago Police Department afford to spare the officers? Does all of this beg the question that if Ald. Ed Burke (14th Ward) can have a security detail, is it fair -- or even possible -- to say no to Mayor Daley? According to the Secret Service's findings, Daley should be protected "for a period of time", but there's no insight as to the exact length. These are tough questions Emanuel and the incoming City Council will have to chew on.
It's also worth noting that Emanuel vowed to rid Burke of his security officers while on the campaign trail stating at the time, "There will be a shared sacrifice, including for Ed Burke and all of the City Council. If Ed Burke has six police officers, that just can't continue." Meanwhile, former mayor Jane Byrne is offering her thoughts on the issue. She told the Sun-Times that the request isn't "appropriate" and echoes the concerns of the Fraternal Order of Police, who point to the police shortage as a reason for the Mayor's request to be denied.
"Even then, there was a shortage of police," said Byrne. "It takes a lot of people to do it. They have to do shifts. And I didn’t feel physically threatened ... But I knew I had to take care of myself. ... As he said, there’s only one mayor at a time. There’s no need to give somebody protection for the rest of their life. I don’t see it.”
Here's another question about Daley's plans to have CPD bodyguards after his stint as mayor is over: What would a Daley security detail do when the outgoing mayor is just sitting at home reading? Would they work 24/7 or just when the soon-to-be former mayor is heading out in public? Chicago has a long and crazy history on this topic. For instance, former city Ald. Ed Vrdolyak had six police officers guarding him at one point back in 1986. Click here to check out a list of Chicago political players who felt the need to be cradled by a thicket of bodyguards.