WASHINGTON -- Chicago's new mayor will be sworn in on May 16, and come May 17, Mayor Daley says, he will wake up with nothing he has to do.
But on Wednesday, he said he's got some ideas on how he wants to spend his time when he leaves City Hall: teach and write a book.
"For 30 years, I've had a schedule," said Daley, who was in Washington for the first stop of what I suspect will be a months-long farewell tour. Daley, 69, has been an elected official full-time since being sworn-in as Cook County state's attorney in 1980 and Chicago mayor on April 4, 1989. Before that, he was a state senator.
Daley revealed for the first time that he was mulling a book. "I'm thinking about it," he said. Publishers may have already sent out feelers. "We're looking at something like that."
I asked him if he had in mind a memoir or a book on policy. "More policy, and maybe a little memoir as well," he said.
Daley is also considering doing some teaching. "I would love to," he told me when I asked him about his plans. Each year he gives a presentation to a class at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business; he's also been a speaker at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government.
What would be his courses? Leadership and government, Daley said, and "a look at urban issues around the world."
Daley also said he has not decided where he wants his mayoral papers to go. The University of Illinois at Chicago is the home to the Richard J. Daley Forum, an annual urban affairs symposium named after his late father. Where his archive is established, he told me, is something he will "figure out" later.
Daley was in Washington for what will probably be his last official visit. On Tuesday night, he dined with wife Maggie at Café Milano in Georgetown with brother Bill, the new White House chief of staff, and his wife, Bernadette Keller, and White House senior adviser David Axelrod and his wife, Susan. Axelrod has long been one of Daley's chief political advisers.
On Wednesday, Daley was honored by the U.S. Conference of Mayors and applauded by Illinois mayors and Sen. Dick Durbin in Durbin's Capitol office. He ended the day in the White House with wife Maggie at a state dinner for China President Hu Jintao. It was not his first state dinner -- Daley could not remember how many he has attended -- but his last as mayor.
Daley has long been active with the mayor's group, and he got a sentimental goodbye from his brother and sister mayors. In his speech, Daley recalled that his father, Mayor Richard J. Daley, was a president of the group in 1959-1960 and family vacations were at mayoral conferences.
The Tucson massacre was very much on the minds of the mayors, and Daley, always a strong advocate for curbs on handguns, used his speech to renew his plea for "common sense" restrictions.
"Gun violence," Daley said, "is overtaking us."
Daley returned to a familiar theme of his: that mayors are the officials who are the least partisan because they actually have to deliver services.
Said Daley, "We mayors, as my father taught me, we are the closest to the people. They can find the mayor. They can't find the governor, they can't find the president, they can't find the county board, congressmen, senators. They can find the mayor."