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Welcome to Springfield, mayor. Let’s see what you’ve got

Tuesday, Nov 12, 2019

* Tribune

Mayor Lori Lightfoot is heading to Springfield on Tuesday in hopes of eking out a deal to make a proposed Chicago casino more attractive to potential developers by reducing the cut that would go to the city and state.

Lightfoot will arrive as the legislature reconvenes for its last three scheduled days this year. When legislators began the six-day fall session last month, they were facing two requests from City Hall: fix the casino tax structure and give Chicago permission to implement a graduated tax on high-price real estate transfers.

But spokeswoman Anel Ruiz said Monday that Lightfoot’s day trip to the Capitol “is primarily focused on the casino.” Negotiations with lawmakers continued over the weekend and “we’re moving forward, which is a good sign,” said Rep. Bob Rita, a Blue Island Democrat who is the House point person on gambling legislation.

The real estate transfer tax plan appears stalled for now. It has no legislative sponsor and faces pushback from a group of Chicago Democratic lawmakers who are demanding a large percentage of the revenues be directed to relieving homelessness in the city — an idea the mayor has so far rejected.

* Sun-Times

The mayor’s office did not provide further details about Lightfoot’s Springfield visit besides providing a statement touting the real estate transfer tax as a “progressive and fair revenue priority.” […]

Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s office on Monday also did not have information about the mayor’s visit and did not answer questions about whether they were given a heads up. […]

Lightfoot has previously denied claims that she has left Pritzker in the dark. But in June, the governor learned of the mayor’s plan to try to get the state to take over the city’s pension funds via the media. The governor promptly nixed that plan.

Procedurally, it’s not the end of the world if Lightfoot does not get her preferred casino plan and the real estate transfer tax passed this week. But it may be a bad look politically if she can’t produce either win, and it will once again spark talk of a much dreaded property tax hike for Chicagoans.

The city has two pension funds that are around 3-4 years from insolvency. She needs that casino money ASAP.

* Speaking of Springfield

But a Springfield insider close to the gambling talks said there’s a perception among some legislators that Lightfoot’s office — while dealing with a teacher strike, a massive budget deficit and turnover at the top of the police department — hasn’t put in the necessary legwork to land a deal.

”You need the mayor’s office to be the shuttle diplomat between the Senate Dems, House Dems and governor’s office, and that doesn’t seem to be happening,” the insider said. “There seems to be a will but not a way.”

A mayoral source called that claim “nonsense.”

“Our staff and the mayor herself have been talking with Senate and House leadership and [the] Governor’s staff non-stop for weeks on this. Legislators have come in for briefings. The fifth floor is working the roll call aggressively,” the source said. “This narrative is absurd and willfully dishonest.”

I already addressed this topic with subscribers, so I’ll just leave it at that. Suffice it to say that I don’t believe the narrative is absurd or dishonest.

* Meanwhile, this claim by BGA President David Greising is inaccurate

To make her 2020 Chicago budget plan work, Mayor Lori Lightfoot still needs Springfield’s help on at least two key elements—a new tax on home sales and changes to a bill that would enable Chicago to build a casino.

Casino revenue is not included in Lightfoot’s FY20 budget plan. I posted the rest of Greising’s column late Friday afternoon, wherein Lightfoot said she wasn’t supporting a constitutional amendment to reduce pension benefits because Gov. Pritzker opposed it. Her staff later walked that back, as they have done time and time again, after Pritzker’s office claimed that the mayor has told the governor she opposes a constitutional amendment.

* Related…

* Lightfoot heading to Springfield to push casino plan - A political deal on a Chicago gambling facility may be within reach, but the mayor’s separate bid to raise $50 million by boosting the real estate transfer tax appears stalled

- Posted by Rich Miller        

15 Comments
  1. - Thomas Paine - Tuesday, Nov 12, 19 @ 9:22 am:

    There are a lot of problems here.

    I would bet on no Casino deal.

    For one thing, every other gaming interest is not going to want to give Chicago something for nothing.

    For another, Neil Bluhm is probably okay with his monopoly.


  2. - Oswego Willy - Tuesday, Nov 12, 19 @ 9:33 am:

    Here’s the real;

    ===But a Springfield insider close to the gambling talks said there’s a perception among some legislators that Lightfoot’s office — while dealing with a teacher strike, a massive budget deficit and turnover at the top of the police department — hasn’t put in the necessary legwork to land a deal.===

    Ok. I’ve thought a 5th Floor dealing with a strike and no budget, how can the Mayor and her Crew honestly go at this that how they are engaged, and further, the gross ineptitude of the Mayor’s folks in both handling the Mayor and her own words and the reality of how things go down, it’s truly amateur hour in the 5th floor, and amateurs continually see they are “engaged” when those they allegedly are engaged with feel otherwise, as this quote indicates… that those legislators feel different than what the 5th floor wants says.

    To that?

    === “Our staff and the mayor herself have been talking with Senate and House leadership and [the] Governor’s staff non-stop for weeks on this. Legislators have come in for briefings. The fifth floor is working the roll call aggressively,” the source said. “This narrative is absurd and willfully dishonest.”===

    … and there’s the tell. Amateurs do this tell often;

    “… “This narrative is absurd and willfully dishonest.”…”

    … and yet those who are commenting see this far different, and this Mayor and the 5th floor is not close to 60, 30, signature. Amateurs more concerned with perception than results.

    Lightfoot is NO closer to passage now then when she was engaged in the strike, or in her immediate issue if a budget.

    These are Rauner traits, the made up “baloney” talking points without the 60 and 30.

    I do indeed blame staff and crew who either can’t convince the mayor to stop how she goes about her business, or they agree to the ignorance of thinking they all have leverage against the state legislature and the governor.

    That’s who they want folks to think about them, staff and crew.

    Let’s see what y’all got, as the title of the post says.


  3. - Just Me - Tuesday, Nov 12, 19 @ 10:15 am:

    Twice in the past month I’ve had someone from the administration tell me that Aldermen are going to have to learn by mistakes. I think that attitude applies to the Mayor’s Office as well.

    I like Lightfoot, but she doesn’t have any real Springfield experience. She needs a couple former Members or top staff on her team which she doesn’t have. Having someone who can do outreach to the GOP would also be nice. They’re in the minority, but they can still gum up the works with distractions.


  4. - Thomas Paine - Tuesday, Nov 12, 19 @ 10:28 am:

    Great breakdown, Willy.

    What’s “absurd” is claiming you have been talking with leadership “nonstop” when Leadership says otherwise.

    What’s obvious is that Lightfoot’s team is more interested in the “narrative” than the outcome.

    Spring session promises to be even worse.


  5. - City Zen - Tuesday, Nov 12, 19 @ 10:55 am:

    Municipal Employees’ Annuity and Benefit Fund of Chicago Resort and Casino. Rolls right off the tongue.


  6. - Anon - Tuesday, Nov 12, 19 @ 10:58 am:

    Talking to friends who had cases with/against the Mayor, this behavior is consistent with her style as an attorney. Demand high, concede nothing, alienate or ignore people who could help you. She still managed to be highly successful in that arena.


  7. - Oswego Willy - Tuesday, Nov 12, 19 @ 11:02 am:

    === She still managed to be highly successful in that arena.==

    It’s not helping her now.

    Funny thing about governing and applying personality traits towards process, it rarely works when the application is negative in nature.

    Like saying the teachers won’t get any days, none… then caving to 5.

    Hard lines of zero give every chance to look weak and feeble… when the caving happens.

    Zero is not a compromise position. Nope.


  8. - Responsa - Tuesday, Nov 12, 19 @ 11:46 am:

    Many if not most of the comments I see posted on here suggest that already Lori is being seen as almost a lost cause and incapable of governing. This is troubling. If this is true how does Chicago survive the next four years? I sincerely hope that Lori’s being a woman, black, and openly gay is not inadvertently affecting some people’s perception of her “amateur” competence or style. She was elected by voters who clearly wanted change. If she needs help to be better and more effective for Chicago let’s try to offer her actual help, not a barrage of constant criticism.


  9. - Oswego Willy - Tuesday, Nov 12, 19 @ 11:57 am:

    ===I sincerely hope that Lori’s being a woman, black, and openly gay is not inadvertently affecting some people’s perception of her “amateur” competence or style.===

    Considering my comparisons border the same issues and stylings of Rauner, I’m quite comfortable with how I see things.

    I sincerely hope you weren’t insinuating anything to change the story or assessments.


  10. - Peoples Republic of Oak Park - Tuesday, Nov 12, 19 @ 12:07 pm:

    Responsa- No, I can think of many people who share her identity and are not amateurs in government.


  11. - JS Mill - Tuesday, Nov 12, 19 @ 12:25 pm:

    = in hopes of eking out a deal to make a proposed Chicago casino =

    What? They should not be planning for a single Chicago casino, they should be creating a plan for 5 to 10 Chicago area casinos. The revenue from a legitimate gambling tourism capital in the middle of the country could be transformative for Illinois.

    Chicago metro has all of the infrastructure to make it a huge success- transportation, entertainment, dining etc.

    It just baffles me how small they are thinking.

    Let the current river boat owners get a piece of the action by investing in or developing Las Vegas style hotel/casino complexes.


  12. - DuPage Saint - Tuesday, Nov 12, 19 @ 12:43 pm:

    Can the City put the casino out for bids just to see if they get any response? If no one bids or bids don’t make sense she would have a strong argument to change law


  13. - Thomas Paine - Tuesday, Nov 12, 19 @ 1:09 pm:

    @Responsa -

    The fight over the real estate transfer tax is not being led by straight, white men. Even Lightfoot’s closest allies on the city council have been critical or at best damned her with feint praise.

    Lightfoot does not take advice. Not from her own allies, not even from staff she is paying six-figure salaries to advise her.

    What she does do apparently is respond to criticism filtered through the media. Much as Trump’s staff try to talk to him through FOX News, Lightfoot appears to be influenced either directly of indirectly by Tribune and Sun-Times coverage.

    Because conflict drives more coverage than positive news, we are going to continue to see more and more negative stories about the functionality of the Lightfoot administration due to her personal abilities. A pattern has emerged.


  14. - James - Tuesday, Nov 12, 19 @ 1:22 pm:

    She’s good at saying no, which is often necessary, but shouldn’t be the entire agenda: no to aldermanic privilege, to downtown cannabis, to elected school board, to a casino so far, to school district and teacher’s needs until they dragged it out of her, to the police chief, to cooperative south side transit with Metra. She governs like what I would expect out of a lawyer whose primary experience is as a prosecutor. By contrast, Pritzker passed all his positive agenda items in the first year.

    Not even sure the Mayor has articulated any positive agenda items. If she’s doing some ordinary and necessary things, like improving the streets, or the water system, or the airports–capital construction priorities, she’s not very good at publicizing them.

    Things will hopefully get better and I wish her well; just have to let it unfold.


  15. - Looking down the Road - Tuesday, Nov 12, 19 @ 2:25 pm:

    Property taxes are going to go up, a lot, in Chicago.


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