Rahm Emanuel Wins The Right to Confront Chicago’s Problems

Rahm Emanuel has won Chicago’s Mayoral election. He now must confront Chicago’s massive problems. The Chicago Sun-Times is already grim:

Rahm Emanuel’s Round One victory gives him a running start on confronting problems so severe, the painful solutions could seal his fate as a one-termer.

Whether Emanuel can avoid a one-and-done scenario — assuming he even wants to serve more than four years — will largely depend on how he tackles the biggest financial crisis in Chicago history.
The city is literally on the brink of bankruptcy with a structural deficit approaching $1 billion when under-funded employee pensions are factored in.

Mayor Daley borrowed to the hilt, sold off revenue-generating assets and spent most of the money to hold the line on taxes in his last two budgets. The city even borrowed $254 million to cover back pay raises long anticipated for police officers and firefighters.

Last night’s election results could be a preview of Emanuel’s coming conflict with Chicago’s city workforce. Emanuel lost in some important wards where powerful city workers live. The government unions feel Emanuel might be too willing to cut their benefits and pensions. Alderman Ed Burke, Chairman of Chicago’s Finance Committee, will now be Emanuel’s biggest short-term problem (Burke’s 14th Ward didn’t support Emanuel). Does Emanuel have the votes in City Council to remove Alderman Ed Burke from his committee post? It’s too early to tell. Will Emanuel and Burke cut a deal?

The new census numbers showed Chicago with population loss of 200,000 from 2000 to 2010. These Detroit style numbers show Rahm Emanuel will need all the help he can get. Chicago is in decline.