In his state of the city speech last Wednesday, Mayor Richard Daley of Chicago said the city continues to fact the troubles that confront all urban areas, but has made some progress solving its problems.

He pointed to drug-related crime, struggling schools, and business downsizing that are occurring "at a time of diminishing public resources."

Still, Daley said, Chicago has been able to devote more resources to schools and anti-crime activity and has been successful in retaining some small and large businesses. He said the city has also moved ahead with "hundreds of millions of dollars" in infrastructure improvements and with major projects such as the bond-financed expansion of the McCormick Place convention center.

Daley said the city's economic outlook is "better than it's been in years," and that the outlook will get "even better" if the Illinois General Assembly approves his plans to build a riverboat casino and entertainment complex in the city. Legislation that would allow the issuance of up to $800 million of revenue bonds to finance the complex has been stalled in the legislature.

The main focus of Daley's speech was on the city's children.

"Children are society's canaries in the coal mines - the first to suffer when the supply runs low, the first to succumb when the atmosphere is poisoned," the mayor said.

He called for greater coordination among public, private, and nonprofit agencies working with young people.

"I hope people say that this city, in this time, finally understood that if our world is to survive and prosper, children must come first," Daley said. "I hope they know that as a city and as a people we acted on this understanding and made this a better world for our children."

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