Mayor Lori Lightfoot keeps edging up to Chicago’s fiscal mess, like a hiker toeing her way toward the rim of a steep canyon.
And who can blame her? When it comes to Chicago’s fiscal outlook, it must look like a cliff from the mayor’s perspective.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel handed off an estimated $740 million hole in next year’s budget. Lightfoot must fill it. Emanuel also left her without the means to address legally mandated pension payments that will require an additional $1 billion in annual city spending by 2023.
To this point, Lightfoot has said little about how she’ll attack the steep challenges. Except for appearances before a couple of fiscally focused civic groups this month — the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce and the Civic Federation — she has placed public attention on other matters.
The mayor’s words may be few, but her personnel moves are beginning to give some shape to how she plans to proceed.
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David Greising is the president and chief executive of the Better Government Association, joining the BGA in 2018. For nearly a century, the BGA has fought for honest and effective government through investigative journalism and policy advocacy.
Greising’s career started at the City News Bureau of Chicago, with stops at the Chicago Sun-Times, Business Week magazine, the Chicago Tribune and Reuters. He was a co-founder of the Chicago News Cooperative and worked briefly as a consultant to World Business Chicago. Today, Greising writes on government issues in regular columns for the Tribune and Crain’s Chicago Business.
Under Greising’s leadership, the BGA has played a key role in uncovering public corruption amidst the wide-ranging federal probe, starting with an in-depth report about Ald. Ed Burke’s conflicts of interest before the federal charges against Burke. The BGA also has exposed waste and fraud at O’Hare and the proliferation of corruption and poverty into Dolton, Lyons and other Chicago suburbs. The BGA’s policy team has led calls for ethics reform in Chicago’s City Council and in state government.
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