STUMP » Articles » Congrats to the New Mayor of Chicago, I Guess » 5 April 2019, 12:35

Where Stu & MP spout off about everything.

Congrats to the New Mayor of Chicago, I Guess  


5 April 2019, 12:35

I mean, I know I don’t envy her. It’s more that I’m pleased that Preckwinkle lost than that Lightfoot won, but neither of them would be in a good place if they won.

So, take a load off, Preckwinkle, and lie low for a few years. Lightfoot may get thoroughly sick of the following:


Whee! Socialist aldermen!

Democratic socialists now control one-tenth of the Chicago City Council

Carlos Ramirez-Rosa’s smile grew ever wider as election results trickled in on Tuesday night.

By the time the 35th Ward Alderman took the stage at Rosanna Rodríguez-Sánchez’s election-night party at Chief O’Neill’s in Avondale, Chicago had experienced the biggest electoral victory for socialists in modern American history. Members of the group now control one-tenth of the City Council’s 50 seats.

“We know for certain that we have a five-member democratic socialist caucus in the Chicago City Council, and we’re so close to six,” Rosa told about a crowd of about 200 supporters. “You guys should be proud. No one thought we’d be at this point.”

Three members of the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) won their runoff elections on Tuesday: Andre Vasquez (40th), Jeanette Taylor (20th) and Byron Sigcho-Lopez (25th). They join DSA members Rosa and newcomer Daniel LaSpata (1st), who won their council races outright in February.
In terms of joining a caucus, some of the incoming class of councilman have advocated for moving the council’s progressive caucus to the left (“We could have a 12 or 15 member progressive caucus if we act strategically and with real discipline,” said LaSpata) while Rosa calls for a socialist caucus within the progressives.

“Rahm Emanuel said he was a progressive — it’s a label that is losing its meaning,” said Rosa. “Over the last several years, we’ve seen voters demand an alternative to the Democratic status quo, where we’re told that our public dollars need to go to projects like Lincoln Yards and millions in TIF funds to go to private pockets.”

“And so I think it’s incumbent on the democratic socialists to form a coalition in the City Council that fights for the redistribution of wealth, and moves the conversation to the left and fighting for the policies that are going to uplift the working class and improve our lives.”

Redistribution of wealth? In Chicago? I assume you mean the redistribution of some very-connected-rich-people’s cash into the pockets of various aldermen, right?

Chicago’s new socialist aldermen look to flex City Council muscle

Chicago’s budding socialist movement is taking a victory lap today after aldermanic elections put its members in power in at least 10 percent of the city’s 50 wards.

The victory lap is deserved, and I suspect that while controlling even five wards is far short of a council majority, it will cause occasional fits for the city’s business community and even Mayor-elect Lori Lightfoot.
“We’re ready to build a Chicago for all of us, not just a wealthy few,” Luci Macias, one of the two Chicago DSA co-chairs, said in a statement. “Our Chicago for All platform is based on three main planks: Housing for all, sanctuary for all and education for all. We’re excited to build a socialist caucus in City Hall to carry out this agenda and fight for Chicago’s working class.”

In practice, that likely will mean more pressure on housing developers to focus on affordable developments rather than high-end buildings. That will be a special concern in the Near Southwest Side 25th Ward, the location of big developments projects such as the 78 at Roosevelt Road and Clark Street, where Sigcho-Lopez will succeed Danny Solis, who chose not to seek re-election amid a federal probe and headed the City Council’s Zoning Committee.

Sigcho-Lopez is chairman of the Pilsen Alliance, which has fought against what it says is extensive gentrification in the ward, and co-founder of a group that wants to implement rent control. He has said that the city’s current tax-increment financing policies “violate the spirit of the program and unethically allows for the allocation of public resources to wealthy private developments in communities that are economically thriving.”

Good luck with trying to hang onto much-needed revenue sources while simultaneously pushing them out of the city. I’m going to enjoy watching that.

You may want to check with various city union members about how interested they are in making sure their pensions get paid (though the union members and leaders seem delusional in thinking that running out rich people will have no effects on them.) See below on the teachers union.

More coverage on the socialists and various aldermanic shenanigans:

But she doesn’t only have a recalcitrant board of aldermen to deal with. There are the teachers!


Here is the statement (in part) on the election results from the Chicago Teachers Union:

Our militancy is not dictated by who sits on the fifth floor of City Hall

CHICAGO, April 2, 2019—The Chicago Teachers Union and Service Employees International Union Local 73 issued the following joint statement tonight regarding the election of Lori Lightfoot as mayor of Chicago:

The most obvious win for our movement is that Chicago will be Rahm-less by May 20, for which we have a movement of educators, parents, workers, community organizers and activists to thank. Elections are about contrast, and at least on the surface, tonight’s results represent a contrast to the last eight years.

Tonight, the city of Chicago elected a new mayor out of a desire for bold and progressive ideas, and a commitment to building a more fair, just and equitable city. Mayor-elect Lori Lightfoot has her work cut out for her on day one.

We did not win class size limits for students in kindergarten, first and second grades, TIF distribution to our school communities, or a special education monitor appointed by the state because we asked nicely or behaved politely. We will aggressively bargain, aggressively defend our platform and aggressively organize for social, economic, educational and racial justice in Chicago and Springfield. The Chicago Teachers Union and SEIU Local 73 have fought for fairness alongside our allies for nearly a decade because our city deserves it.

As a movement, we helped defeat the twin privatization forces of Rahm Emanuel and Bruce Rauner. But the millionaires and billionaires who supported them remain, along with astroturf education “deform” groups they fund that continue to support the push-out of Black families, the under-funding and closure of public schools, pension theft, marginalization of democracy and privatization of public services.
Mayor-elect Lightfoot’s work begins immediately. Our school communities need $2 billion and the wealthy must pay their fair share of the bill. School communities need justice and equity; an elected, representative school board; fully resourced school communities; Black, Latinx and veteran teachers in classrooms; and full restoration of our collective bargaining rights. Our parks need to be fully funded and staffed so they are safe and clean, no longer subsidized by an over-reliance on part-time workers who are paid poverty wages with little or no benefits, and provide the programs and services our community deserves.
Rahm and Rauner are gone. Their policies must go as well. We hope Mayor-elect Lightfoot separates herself from the dubious interests that funded her campaign, and governs like the progressive she claims to be by ending the funding of #NoCopAcademy and the Lincoln Yard TIF. We expect her to fight for an immediate $15/hr minimum wage in the city, for real and meaningful criminal justice reform, and for equitable investment in all of Chicago’s communities—especially those that have been habitually overlooked and underfunded.

You know what else is gone?


And money.

Best wishes in getting more out of a shrinking pot.

Wirepoints asks: Is Lori Lightfoot ready for a potential Chicago teachers strike?

When Rahm Emanuel took over City Hall in 2011, he was hailed as the agent of change that Chicago badly needed. His tough guy reputation was especially sought after given Mayor Richard M. Daley had done little to take on the city unions. The city and school district’s crumbling finances were evidence of that.

All that quickly changed when Rahmbo caved to the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) early on in his first term. The teachers went on strike in 2012 and ended up getting what they wanted, and more, from the new mayor. Never mind that the district was already running billion-dollar deficits and had an $8 billion pension shortfall.

Emanuel was never the same after that and CPS is still reeling from the consequences of that deal.

It’s a lesson incoming Mayor Lori Lightfoot should heed. Her progressive credentials won’t be enough to placate the city’s public sector. She’s going to need all the help she can get when Chicago Public Schools starts negotiations with the CTU over the next teacher contract.

That’s especially true now that the state legislature is set to strip some of Lightfoot’s bargaining power.

In 1995, the legislature removed the CTU’s ability to officially bargain over items such as class size, length of the school day, length of the school year, student assessment policies, and more. Now the House just voted to give that bargaining power back to the CTU. The Senate is up next.

The union was already gearing up for a strike before their chosen mayoral candidate, Toni Preckwinkle, lost to Lightfoot.

With even more ammunition and the ability to flex its muscles on the way, a teacher strike has become more likely.

Lightfoot needs to give as good as she gets from the CTU. Chicago simply can’t afford the unions’ over-the-top demands, such as providing affordable housing for teachers and guaranteed sanctuary status for undocumented students in classrooms.


6. Junk finances

The statistic that best sums up Chicago Public Schools’ crisis is its credit rating. Moody’s rates CPS five notches into junk, worse off than even the city of Detroit.

Chicago is junk too. It’s the only major city in the country besides Detroit to be rated junk.

The city can’t afford more bad contracts when it’s already this bad off.

My family’s old saying pops up again: they ain’t got the money of.

Not only are there the teachers to deal with, but the cops aren’t too happy with Jussie Smollet shenanigans. Lightfoot has done a few things to annoy the cops, but they’ll be happy with her wanting investigation into the Jussie debacle. At least they’re not asking for more money… right now…. that I know of.


Market awaits Chicago mayor-elect’s first moves

Lori Lightfoot made her case to Chicago’s voters. She remains largely an unknown to the municipal bond market.

Lightfoot — a political novice who has yet to outline plans to manage Chicago’s sea of red ink — easily claimed Tuesday’s mayoral runoff against Toni Preckwinkle, the Cook County board president, winning the race to succeed Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

“The first thing Lori Lightfoot should be doing is reading the resumes of people with budget and public finance experience so she can put together an expert financial team,” given that she’s a fiscal unknown, said Brian Battle, director of trading at Chicago-based Performance Trust Capital Partners.

Matt Fabian, partner at Municipal Market Analytics, said while market players will watch to see if Lightfoot shows fiscal discipline by not unwinding gains made under Emanuel, they will also be curious to see “what she says about bonds and taxes” and how she will use debt and manage investor relationships.

It’s a positive, Fabian added, that she hasn’t said anything negative about bondholders as former Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner did during his tenure.
When Lightfoot takes office May 20, she must find money to cover a scheduled $280 million pension payment increase and an estimated $250 million 2020 budget gap. She inherits one junk-bond rating and another only one notch away. The city runs on a $10.7 billion budget this year.

“If action is not timely or the city backslides on its progress toward structural alignment on full actuarial pension funding, S&P Global Ratings could take a negative rating action” on its BBB-plus rating, analyst Carol Spain warned in a recent report. Fitch rates Chicago BBB-minus, Kroll Bond Rating Agency assigns its A rating, and Moody’s (MCO) applies the junk rating at Ba1.

Lightfoot has offered a range of ideas but lacks a plan — at least one that she has shared publicly — to address the fiscal reckoning.

The new mayor will also need to negotiate contracts with public safety unions and teachers and, while violent crime is down from the levels that grabbed national headlines in recent years, the summer season when shootings spike looms.

Another $310 million pension funding spike looms in 2022 and the city faces tax fatigue from hikes imposed by Emanuel to deal with pensions.

Lightfoot must also guard against deepening population losses, something she acknowledged in her victory speech.

“To thrive, Chicago must grow and if we make our streets safer, our schools better, our neighborhoods stronger, our businesses large and small more prosperous then people will want to stay and they will want to move here,” she said.

Best wishes.

I have mentioned this a few times in a few places, but I plan on backing off on Chicago and Illinois for a bit. Not because they don’t deserve it, but because:

1. I’m tired and need to prioritize
2. Plenty of people cover both Chicago and Illinois very well (specifically Wirepoints)
3. I haven’t been beating up on my home state of New York nearly enough.
4. And I have let drop some other pension stuff I want to look at more closely.

I have 4 posts in draft after this one, and I will remain mum on Lightfoot unless something public pensions-related comes up. I’m sure something will come up, but she’s got bigger, more immediate problems for now.

I hope Lightfoot does well, but given Chicago history…. anyway, you are in my prayers, Ms. Mayor.

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