STUMP » Articles » Chicago Update: Fun In Store for the Next Mayor » 25 March 2019, 20:54

Where Stu & MP spout off about everything.

Chicago Update: Fun In Store for the Next Mayor  


25 March 2019, 20:54

Well, I will admit. I was wrong so many years ago, when I said “Rahm, don’t do it!” I thought Rahm Emanuel was an utter fool to run for mayor when a Daley deserted. That was a clear sign that the fun times were over.

Now, Rahm may not have had a lot of fun as mayor, but the financial crash impending for the city didn’t happen on his watch.

That’s for the next mayor.


Civic Federation outlines financial challenges confronting next mayor

Pension fund contributions will rise by $270 million immediately and nearly double over the next five years as the ramp to actuarial funding ends and the road to 90 percent funding begins.

The corporate fund that serves as the city’s operating checkbook has budget gaps of $251.7 million next year and $362.2 million in 2021. And the mountain of debt heaped on Chicago taxpayers continues to climb.

Now, the Civic Federation is releasing a report outlining Chicago’s three major financial challenges — pensions, debt and structural deficit — that includes “options and recommendations” to stabilize the crisis.

The recommendations include: converting the city clerk and treasurer’s office from elective to appointed offices; consolidating the four pension funds; conducting a “cost of services study” to explore more efficient ways to provide city services; eliminating “duty availability” pay for public safety employees; reducing minimum manning requirements for Chicago firefighters and discontinuing other perks and specialty pay that drive up the cost of police and fire contracts.

The Civic Federation also raised the prospect of reducing the size of the City Council and reforming the treasured aldermanic menu program, which gives each of the city’s 50 aldermen $1.32 million-a-year to spend on infrastructure projects of their own choosing and developing a comprehensive land use plan.

And the report analyzes the pros and cons of a host of new revenue options without advocating for any of them.

I still need to update my cash flow analysis of the Chicago pension plans… it’s been a couple years. My guess is that they’re still screwed.


A new mayoral poll reveals a big Lightfoot lead—and a warning

Lori Lightfoot is beating Toni Preckwinkle 53 percent to 17 percent in the new, exclusive poll, but 4 in 10 voters oppose higher taxes for pensions—a critical issue facing whoever becomes mayor.

With just a week to go until voters head to the polls, former federal prosecutor Lori Lightfoot holds a commanding lead in the race for mayor, according to results of a Temkin/Harris poll, conducted in partnership with Crain’s and WTTW.

But there’s trouble ahead for whoever is elected on one of the top issues they’ll have to face: fiscal pressures. An eyebrow-raising 40 percent of those surveyed say they oppose raising taxes to pay for pensions for city workers and Chicago Public School teachers—something that the new mayor almost certainly will have to do.


Arguably more surprising is how much resistance has begun to build to fast-rising city pension bills, with property taxes alone up $543 million in a five-year period to begin paying debt in pension funds that cover police and firefighters.

The survey asked voters which programs they would be willing to support with higher taxes. Better roads and other infrastructure fixes got the highest support, 71 percent, followed by mental health and public schools at 69 percent each and more police at 60 percent. Taxes for pensions got the lowest support, 57 percent. It also got the highest “disagree” figure, with 29 percent of voters saying they strongly disagree with more taxes for pensions and another 11 percent indicating they somewhat disagree.

There are various ways to spin these poll results.

Chicago poll: 57 percent say they’ll swallow the pension payment medicine

After all the screaming over lo these many years by the pundits about the high cost of public pensions, the fact that 57 percent of Chicagoans say funding the pensions of city workers and public school teachers is “something you personally would be willing to pay higher taxes to get” strikes me as pretty darned good, particularly if a popular mayor is behind the push.

Also, infrastructure, mental health treatment and schools always score high. Everybody wants that stuff. Nobody supposedly wants to make pension payments. That’s usually seen as forcing an unwillling populace to ingest bitter medicine. The fact that 57 percent said they could stomach that medicine is, in this context, surprising to me.

Now, I would agree with Rich Miller here…. but look. It depends which 57 percent who are saying that.

Somebody like me? You know, working in finance, and having high income — if I’m willing to pony up, you may have a chance.

But if you’re at median and lower? Sure, you may absorb some slightly higher sales taxes, but how much revenue are you really going to be able to throw in?

And then… what if these people think that the “other guy” will be paying more, and not them?


Lori Lightfoot floats tax on high-end law, accounting firms to help plug Chicago’s budget hole

Chicago mayoral candidate Lori Lightfoot on Sunday floated the idea of taxing large law and accounting firms to help shore up City Hall finances.

The next mayor will have to close a projected $252 million deficit and make $276 million in new public pension payments in a 2020 budget that will have to be introduced in October. Lightfoot often talks of the need to find “progressive revenue” to help address the city’s financial troubles but has stopped short of specifics.

But on WGN-AM 720’s “Sunday Spin,” Lightfoot volunteered the concept of taxing major firms, such as Mayer Brown, an international law firm where she was a partner before launching her bid for mayor.

“One of the things I propose is a tax on high-end law firms, accounting firms, akin to like the VAT tax, a value-added tax in Europe — not on the little guys or the solo practitioners or small CPA firms, but a firm like mine, which is a large international law firm,” Lightfoot said. “Putting a small fee on the invoices they send their clients will barely be noticed, but yet could generate hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue. So those are the kind of things we need to think about.”

A value-added tax is typically levied on products at various points of sale where value has been increased, from raw materials up to a final product. Such taxes typically are passed on to consumers.

Lightfoot did not give an estimate for how much money such a tax could generate or how soon she might pursue one.
“What that means is we don’t balance the budget on the backs of the people who are least able to handle it,” Lightfoot said. “So when we talk about progressive, it means making sure people pay their fair share, but in proportion to what their income is.”

Ah, but that would require changing the state constitution. But luckily the governor also wants to do that!


Here are some stories.


Get ready for commies on the Chicago city council!

Chicago’s Democratic socialists on brink of transforming city’s politics

Democratic socialist Rossana Rodriguez never thought she would run for office, let alone win.

But the Chicago educator and community activist may be poised to do just that after forcing a runoff in her 33rd ward aldermanic race against incumbent Deb Mell last month, making her one of six democratic socialists who could potentially join city council this year.

That shock number of openly declared socialists set to join Chicago politics comes at a time when socialism is increasingly visible in national US politics, led by the socialist senator Bernie Sanders running for president and socialist New York congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez becoming one the most high-profile politicians in the House of Representatives.

But the trend is happening at a local level, too, with the emergence of socialists in Chicago politics a reflection of the progressive momentum Rodriguez and other socialist candidates say could “transform” the way this city operates.

Yes, they’ll run out of other people’s money even faster.

I hope those counting on pensions don’t count too hard on them.

“What we’re advocating for is for people to just be able to have decent lives. That shouldn’t be too much to ask. We need to be able to imagine that. We need to be able to imagine what good lives look like,” Rodriguez said.

How about moving somewhere other than Chicago? I understand that housing is much cheaper and jobs more plentiful down south. That’s a great way to have a good life!

Why not move to North Carolina? (but seriously, stay in Chicago. I don’t wish the commies to bug my friends and relatives in NC)

The democratic socialists say their strong showing in Chicago’s election last month is partly a reaction to its entrenched machine politics, along with policies that progressives say have prioritized the wealthy over the interests of black, brown and working-class residents.

“Working-class Chicagoans have been shut out [of city politics],” Lucie Macias, co-chair of Chicago’s DSA chapter, said. “But people are realizing this is not the way it should be and that we can actually make change.”

For Rodriguez, that means both pushing to transform the culture of the city government and working to “amplify” the voices of those working within the communities.

So… I’m not really seeing anything concrete here.

“In Chicago, people are very familiar with the political machine,” said Vasquez, who is seeking to upset the North Side’s 40th ward incumbent Patrick O’Connor in the April runoff . “They feel victimized by it, but they feel they can’t do anything about it because it’s so powerful. I think they are really aching for change.”

Hold onto your wallet!

But Chicago also has a history of radical politics, and DSA members hope that the momentum in this year’s elections here is the start of a culture shift and that the movement will continue to grow if they can deliver results.

“Our message is resonating with people,” Rodriguez said. “We’ve got a lot of work ahead of us, but I do think there’s a way forward. I think more people are becoming aware of their own power.”

Did the journalist not even think to ask about something concrete these people will do?

I can make a prediction: even if these people win, no change will happen.

And to see why I think that, let’s check out what a prior “reformer” is up to. Or what he was up to.


Faisal Khan:

Khan was brought in to supposedly root out Chicago corruption. Seems pretty clear that he was just window dressing.

Once he got tired of that, he was part of an org that was… probably just him. And funded by “right wing” interests. That is, no Democrats were interested in getting rid of the Chicago (or Illinois) corruption. The ones in actual power are just fine with how things are.

Of course, federal prosecutors could mess that up good… but I understand they may be a bit busy with all sorts of things. Maybe Chicago corruption isn’t high up on the priority list. They seem to be busy just prosecuting ONE GUY right now.

Anyway, the astroturf org he was in folded last year.

Nonprofit watchdog group Project Six closing down

Project Six — the nonprofit watchdog group led by former City Council Inspector General Faisal Khan — announced Friday that it’s shutting down.

The effort began only two years ago and promised to be an independent and nonpartisan government reform organization.

But even as Khan hired staff and released reports alleging misconduct by politicians, he declined to disclose his funding sources.

In January, the Chicago Sun-Times and ProPublica Illinois revealed that the right-leaning Illinois Policy Institute gave Project Six 98 percent of its first-year budget — a total of nearly $624,000 — in 2016.

I wouldn’t be spiking the football, boys. All that tells you is that there are no Dems interested in getting the dirt out of their politics.

I have used this example before, but really, the Republicans should just completely withdraw and let Democrats own the whole mess. As per my prior post:

Ray Patterson: Oh gosh. You know, I’m not much on speeches, but it’s so gratifying to… leave you wallowing in the mess you’ve made. You’re screwed, thank you, bye.

Moe: He’s right. He ain’t much on speeches.

So, Dems — this is all you.



Thanks for making New York (with our Cuomos and de Blasio and…) look relatively good.

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