By John Ruberry
On Wednesday Joe Biden is expected to visit Chicago, a city where he won over eighty-percent of the vote and he prevailed in all of the city’s 50 wards.
Which makes today a good time to ask, “How are things going in Chicago?”
Chicago is on pace to suffer from more murders than any year since 1996, when 796 people were slain. Last year 774 people were murdered–but just 509 in 2019.
Rioting (excuse me liberals, I meant to say “civil unrest”) and looting hit Chicago in two waves in 2020. North Michigan Avenue, Chicago’s Magnificent Mile, a significant cash cow for the city, was hit especially hard. The new year got off to a bad start when the flagship store of the ritzy Water Tower mall on the Mag Mile, Macy’s, announced it was leaving. The Gap pulled out in late 2020. This summer Disney announced it was leaving North Michigan Avenue as well as shuttering its other Illinois stores.
Last week in her budget address the city’s embattled mayor, Lori Lightfoot, proposed aggressive spending fueled by a one-time injection of federal COVID-19 funds. Gimmick spending is a recent and unfortunate Chicago tradition. In 2008 Mayor Richard M. Daley, who inherited none of the financial smarts of his father, Mayor Richard J. Daley, sold the rights for all of the city parking meters for 75-years for $1.15 billion. Nearly all of the cash from that deal was spent in just two years. Thirteen years earlier the younger Daley sold the rights to the Chicago Skyway for $1.7 billion–that money was similarly squandered. Ten years later the Skyway rights were re-sold for $2.8 billion–and taxpayers collected none of that windfall.
Also part of the Lightfoot’s budget proposal is the monumentally stupid idea to send $500 to 5,000 random families, likely a starter plan for Chicago guaranteeing a universal income. Who would be paying for that? Since the cash comes from COVID-19 relief funds it will be American taxpayers. Don’t blame me because I voted for Donald Trump.
Meanwhile Chicago’s public worker pension plans remain the worst funded in America. Because of that alone Chicago is bankrupt-in-name-only.
Redistricting of Chicago’s 50 wards is coming soon and that will ignite a firestorm. African-American leaders expect to keep their majority in 18 of those wards even though the black population decreased by nearly 10 percent between 2010 and 2020 according to the US Census. The white population increased slightly and the Hispanic and Asian populations went up by a bit more. Surprising everyone is that overall Chicago’s population increased by almost two percent between the most recent Census counts.
Meanwhile Chicago’s streets are in terrible shape and drivers have to struggle with seemingly omnipresent red-light cameras. Lightfoot has added a new twist to Chicago motorists’ misery. Drivers captured by cameras going just six miles over the speed limit are being fined. Of course that’s not as horrible as being carjacked. In 2019, according to Hey Jackass, there were 603 carjackings in the city, last year that number soared to 1,396. So far in 2021 there have been 1,070 carjackings in Chicago. As with shootings, the arrest rate for Chicago carjackings is abysmally low.
Don’t expect the largely compliant mainstream media, even if Biden takes questions during his Chicago visit, to query the president on Chicago’s myriad of problems.
UPDATE September 28: Yesterday former alderman Ricardo Muñoz of the 22nd Ward pleaded guilty to corruption charges. According to the Chicago Sun-Times he admitted to “wire fraud and money laundering, admitting he took nearly $38,000 from the Chicago Progressive Reform Caucus to pay for personal expenses like skydiving and a relative’s college tuition.”
Since 1973 over thirty current or former Chicago aldermen have served time in federal prison. Don’t forget there are just 50 members of the Chicago City Council. Three current members, Ed Burke, Carrie Austin, and Patrick Daley Thompson are under indictment. That last one is a nephew of Richard M. Daley.
2nd UPDATE: He’s not coming to Chicago after all. Biden will stay in DC to peddle his infrastructure boondoggle.
John Ruberry regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit.