Friday, April 12, 2019

Lightfoot starting pre-mayor activity by putting aside ideology for practicality

The City Council gave its support to a pair of proposals desired by outgoing Mayor Rahm Emanuel for tax incentives to spur real estate development in wealthier parts of Chicago – the very concept that some activist-types think is exactly what is wrong with modern-day Chicago.
LIGHTFOOT: Already upsetting some people

In fact, the very idea that caused many of them to excitedly cast votes for Lori Lightfoot as mayor in the hopes that she’d use her mayoral powers to put a halt to.

SO WITH THAT in mind, there are many activist types who already are feeling sold out by the fact that Lightfoot let it be known late Wednesday that there isn’t much of anything she can do to stop the projects known as Lincoln Yards and the 78s.

Basically, Lightfoot isn’t about to conduct herself as mayor in the manner that Donald Trump has behaved during his presidency – as in trying to abolish or repeal anything (and I mean ANYTHING) that was once supported by Barack Obama.

Lightfoot is going to let stand the proposals that Emanuel is likely to sign into law during his final weeks of his mayorality.

Lightfoot gave lip service to the concept of holding accountable the developers who are behind the real estate developments that are meant to create new communities along the north (Lincoln Yards) and south (the 78s) branches of the Chicago River.

SHE SAYS SHE will “engage with the community and committed activists who have forcefully advocated for affordable housing, park space and the responsible use of tax increment financing dollars for many months.”

But when you consider that activist-types usually aren’t pleased unless they can say their actions caused some undesirable proposal to be killed off, this kind of legalese is likely to create the perception that Lightfoot hasn’t even taken the oath of office yet – and she’s already falling short of perceptions by her backers.

Now I’ll be the first to admit to not following the Lincoln Yards debate closely, or that of the 78s that offers up a sort-of South Side response to the proposal meant to create a wealthy community near the already-wealthy Lincoln Park neighborhood.
LINCOLN YARDS: Desired by some, detested by others
In short, to create more upscale communities within Chicago. Something that might seem desirable if one can actually afford to live in such places. But not the kind of thing that would get a resident of a place like Gage Park or the East Side excited.

BUT WHAT CATCHES my attention about all of this is Lightfoot’s reaction – or lack thereof.

In reality, there’s nothing she could do since she’s not mayor yet. Unless she’d be prepared to start engaging in the same kind of reckless, irresponsible behavior that Trump is doing to try to erase any trace that Obama of Hyde Park ever was permitted to set foot in the Oval Office.

But Lightfoot is realistic. She’s not looking to provoke political brawls with people who could take down her mayorality before it even starts. Anybody who expects her to do so is being absurd.

Not that this surprises me. Personally, I came out of the recently-completed mayoral election cycle thinking there really wasn’t much difference between Lightfoot and Toni Preckwinkle – and that many of the Lightfoot backers have created a false image of Lightfoot that bears little reality to who the woman is or how she intends to govern.

IT’S A LARGE part of why I have trouble taking seriously all the talk of this being an election cycle of a historic nature. I don’t think many of us have a clue what to expect from Lori Lightfoot – the mayoral years.
A new mayor, but same policies?

That shouldn’t be interpreted as a slam or as praise for her. It means we ought to pay attention to what happens in coming months. For as Lightfoot says of the two real estate deals, “we’re going to be able to exercise a tremendous amount of control and it’s going to be able to give us the opportunity to bring community voices into the process that didn’t happen before.”

If it happens, it could be encouraging for Chicago. In a way that a knee-jerk negative reaction to all that happened before her would wind up being reckless and ridiculous.

The “jury” is still out on what kind of mayor Lori Lightfoot will be. The last thing we need is a jury determined to convict her of incompetence because she didn’t give them a pre-ordained verdict of their ideological choosing.


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