Mayor Lighfoot's budget. Damned if you do and damned if you don't.
Blaming city workers and pensions is a tired game.
My drawings and paintings are on Instagram @klonskyart
Full disclosure. Unlike the president of Chicago’s police union, the Fraternal Order of Police’s John Catanzara, I like our mayor, Lori Lightfoot.
I never have agreed that the FOP was a union anyway.
Based on the current list of announced and rumored opponents to her re-election next year, I plan to vote for her again.
I think that being Chicago mayor during the worst health crisis in a century, the resulting national crime uptick and mess that Rahm Emanuel left behind was no easy job.
I recall the late, great union leader, Karen Lewis, saying that you have to be kind of crazy to be mayor. Cities have become nearly unmanageable, Karen said.
And then she decided to run for mayor of Chicago, only to be tragically taken down by a terminal illness.
And it is no surprise that most of the Chicago’s press corps that covers City Hall (a press corps which is nearly all white) have gone out of their way to beat Lightfoot up at every opportunity.
Here’s the story.
Lightfoot has released her budget. The City Council will need to approve it.
The economy has improved. There has been an influx of federal dollars. The Mayor has managed things well. She will ask for a lower than usual property tax increase. The deficit is down.
To Crain’s Joe Cahill, this is all bad news and an election year ploy.
Cahill complains that Lightfoot’s budget is based on a growing economy that may not last.
Well no shit. In fact I can guarantee it won’t last. It’s a capitalist economy, after all.
When I was a kid I had a neighbor, Archie. He was an old Leftie who used to say that capitalism could be a rooster one day and a feather duster the next.
Archie made and sold feather dusters out of his garage, by the way. So he was kind of an expert.
But the point is that Lightfoot has reduced the city’s deficit from $1.2 billion in 2021 to $722 million in 2022.
That’s not an election ploy. That’s good governing.
But the give away to Cahill’s bias is when he writes this:
Lightfoot’s rosy scenario also may invite additional spending demands from aldermen eager to pave their re-election pathways with taxpayer dollars. After all, if city finances are in such good shape, why not underwrite more pet programs like guaranteed basic income.
The city’s plan for a guaranteed basic income is right on time, in my opinion.
You can hear more about the plans for a Chicago guaranteed basic income from Harish Patel who was recently on my brother’s podcast, Hitting Left.
And then there is this from Cahill:
Much of the spending increase reflects salary hikes for city employees and required contributions to their pension funds, an obligation that’s taking a large and growing share of the budget.
Who would have thunk it?
A mayor whose budget reflects salary increases for workers and meets the city’s pension funding obligations.
To me, we could use a few more political leaders like that.
By the way, I will be making a one-time return to Hitting Left with my brother Mike and Susan Klonsky, this Friday, live at 11am Chicago time on Lumpen Radio, 105.5fm, lumpenradio.com and later on podcast at hittingleft.libsyn.com.