CHICAGO — Just five months into the job, Mayor Lori Lightfoot is facing crucial tests on several fronts.
For Lightfoot, the challenges are coming from every direction.
Chicago Teachers Union members are set to walk off the job Thursday.
“We keep seeing this hardline approach by the mayor and it’s not working,” 15th Ward Ald. Raymond Lopez said.
As Lightfoot prepared for the work stoppage, the City Council Black Caucus made noise briefly holding up approval of a recreation cannabis zoning ordinance during Wednesday’s city council meeting.
They said their issue is that none of the initial licenses will go to African American businesses.
“Of the 11 businesses illustrated by this slide there are zero black ownership,” 28th Ward Ald. Jason Ervin. “Let me repeat this, zero black ownership of the existing 11.”
“”When there’s no black people coming on line Day 1, that’s a problem,” Alderman David Moore said..
In the end, the zoning passing but not without last minute wrangling.
“I hear them on equity,” Lightfoot said.
Lightfoot is also working on her budget. She needs to plug an $838 million hole. She is reportedly considering an online sales tax and a tax on ride share solo passengers.
Whatever she proposes is sure to be met with resistance.
There’s also the issue of a Chicago casino. The mayor is pitching two ideas; a public structure splitting revenue between the city and state and a private operation with a tax structure that would be attractive to a private operator.
Governor Pritzker is still waiting to hear specifics. And there’s no guarantee the legislature will grant Lightfoot’s wishes.
Lightfoot foe, Alderman Anthony Beale, said the new mayor needs to do a better job reaching out to people.
“When you don’t include people then you know you start seeing things coming at you from all angels and kind of fall apart,” Beale said.
The mayor also has to address the pension crisis and whenever the standoff with teachers ends, then she’ll need to work out a contract with the Fraternal Order of Peace.