Tuesday, October 2, 2012

A Shopping List, Of Sorts

I know it's a little early to holiday shop, and it's certainly too early to shop for a new mayor, but I thought maybe if I posted this the mayor might see what we were looking for and shore up a bit. I know I don't have to, but I'm helpful like that. This is my job description to recruit the ideal candidate for Mayor of the City of Chicago. I originally wrote it for a TribNation contest to attend a mayoral debate. (I did get selected to attend, and DelValle was the most impressive of the candidates, but for a million reasons, he was the least likely to succeed.)

Position Title: Mayor, City of Chicago SVP: 9

Objective:  to manage the city’s resources, human and financial, to the benefit of its residents both now and in the future, with an appreciation for and ambition about Chicago’s rightful place as a leader in the region, the nation and the world.


 assess the resources and debts of the city and establish a proposed budget to address shortfalls, efficiently provide services, and develop reserves for future development

 work closely with city council members to reach consensus on budget priorities, a timeline for addressing lower priorities, and an honest appraisal of items that must be tabled

 recruit a world-class team of city planners to develop a comprehensive city plan; employ city council members in a push to establish honest, reasonable and worthwhile priorities for the plan (the mayor must also be honest, reasonable and worthwhile)

 develop a task-force of city stakeholders from private and public sectors to review the plan, recommend the best one, and then work to sell the plan to the city council and, more importantly, the city in personal presentations (the mayor must be personally accessible)

 continuously address the key factors that determine a baseline quality of life for all city residents that is in keeping with the standards of a world class city of the future: safe city streets and neighborhoods; aggressive, ambitious and thoughtful education both child and adult; robust, engaged and forward-thinking commerce; and city services that lead by example in the areas of technology, service, efficiency, and environmental consciousness (the mayor must have and adhere to high standards)

 ensure that leaders in each of the city’s key departments are aligned with these priorities – responsible budgeting, planning, high standards for quality of life concerns; monitor progress as measured against deliverable objectives in each of these areas; serve as a mentor and support for key department leaders to ensure success

 beyond budgeting, planning, pursuing improved standards of education, public safety, commerce, health and well-being, and managing city departments to greatest effect, the mayor must love the city.


 The qualified candidate will be able to demonstrate how in his/her exercise of every mayoral privilege and responsibility he/she will show him/herself to be the greatest advocate for and protector of the city. Prior experience preferred.

 He/she must be a student of the city and know its history in order to know its future place in the history yet to be written.

 He/she must have a preferred city newspaper and be able to tell why it is what it is.

 He/she must embody Chicago – all of it – from the polished and pretty on Michigan Avenue to the tired and true on the Southwest Side. A demonstrated record is essential.

 He/she must have a baseball team affiliation that is near bone-deep in its seriousness, and he/she must know why and be able to articulate it unintelligibly because baseball loyalty is not logical, it is emotional. And if a Chicago team is playing another team, no matter the affiliation, the mayor must unabashedly root for the Chicago team. If his/her most beloved team fails to reach a playoff or championship but another Chicago team does, he must cheer with his/her whole heart and the city must be able to hear it from one end to the other.

 The qualified candidate for mayor must be proud of the city, even when she fails, and must defend her as one would a sibling or spouse against any attack from anyone not a member of the family.

 The candidate cannot be mealy-mouthed, even if he/she is soft-spoken. Chicagoans are firm, not wishy-washy, and must be led by someone smart, but not necessarily an academic.

 The ideal mayor will be equally comfortable with white table linens and finger bowls as with mustard running down his/her arm outside a favored hot-dog stand.

 Qualified candidates must have a favored Chicago hot-dog stand.


 Salary and benefits commensurate with responsibilities. And if you do this job correctly, you’ll be beloved by a city of people who don’t love unless they mean it. No other city offers that.

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