By Mark Weyermuller -
Chicago's 2nd Ward Alderman Robert "Bob" Fioretti (right in photo) announced Monday that he "may" be running for mayor. Technically he did not announce, but he discussed the option in a twenty-minute lunchtime keynote speech to the City Club of Chicago at Maggiano's Restaurant.
The city of Chicago will hold a non-partisan mayoral election on Tuesday, February 24, 2015. Mayor Rahm Emanuel currently holds the office, but he's ruffled a lot of feathers in his first term. Chicago Teacher's Union President Karen Lewis was in the audience adding to the drama Monday. Fioretti's remarks included much criticism of the mayor especially in closing schools, persistent crime, and unemployment.
Fioretti's main tag line was "We are seeing a widening of Chicago into two cities" indicating a divide of the rich and poor. This is a reference to Charles Dickens "A Tale of Two Cities." Are we in the "best of times and the worst of times?"
Cook County President Toni Preckwinkle did not attend the City Club luncheon, but is considered by many as the front runner to challenge Emanuel in 2015. The rumor-mill is in full gear, including that Emanuel may not run, choosing instead to be a vice presidential candidate to Hillary Clinton.
Another rumor is Fioretti may just be a "placeholder" to discourage others from entering the race either to support Preckwinkle or Emanuel. At this point, there appears to be no conservatives or Republicans considering a run. Politics in Chicago can be a strange animal.
The most controversial remarks from Fioretti appears to be his desire to increase taxes. He is proposing a city income tax on suburbanites, that is folks who work in the city but live outside the city limits. Many like me feel this would move Chicago more towards Detroit, basically killing jobs in Chicago. He also discussed raising the minimum wage to $15.00 an hour. There was little to no discussion of cutting any costs.
I asked in the Q&A his solution to the pension mess which he failed to address during his prepared remarks. He basically said we need more revenue, that is, more taxes. He indicated no cuts in current benefits which brought applause from the many teachers in the room. Again, there was no discussion of cutting costs. There were a dozen of the same question, "Are you running for mayor?" to which there was no direct answer.
After we survive the midterms this November with congressional and statewide elections including governor, there will be no rest for the weary as Chicagoans jump right into the mayoral election of 2015.