Mayor Daley in Chicago is under fire from a lot of angles. There are controversies in many of his department, and the city clerk Laski recently pled guilty to corruption charges.
Of all the things he has done for the city, however, the one with the most lasting value will be the demolition of the failed housing projects that mar entire neighborhoods. I snapped this photo on I-290 showing the demolition of some dilapidated, burned out buildings alongside one of our major expressways.
The city of Chicago has undergone a terrific renewal. Much of this renewal is due to the booming economy and the fact that Chicago doesn't put many restraints on developers. Another key element, however, is the destruction of public housing buildings that are a magnet for crime, since urban renewal cannot occur while these buildings are standing in our midst.
You can drive north from US Cellular field and there are now relatively few projects to terrorize urban motorists (you can't just sit there at the light and need to watch what you are doing). Every year Daley makes a bigger and bigger dent in the failed high rises, which frees up the neighborhood to grow and flourish, especially near downtown.
Similiar to my blog posts about the energy industry, basically it is IMPOSSIBLE to build anything, anymore, that involves public funds and can be thwarted by environmentalists or people who can hire lawyers. We can't build new power stations, transmission lines, or highways.
While NIMBY is crippling our ability to repair our infrastructure, it is a help when it comes to "bad" urban renewal ideas such as these sorts of projects. You can rest safely in your bed at night knowing that no mayor has the capability to impose new housing projects on anyone. All the projects we have are crumbling and won't be replaced.
At least our inability to do anything constructive also thwarts our ability to create new, manevolent structures.