Greising: Can Mayor Lightfoot’s Growing Team Dig Chicago Out of its Financial Mess?

Lightfoot takes cues from the federal government to surround herself with economic advisers. This is the first step of many she'll need to take to right Chicago's fiscal ship.

Lori Lighfoot (Scott Olson/Getty Images)

BGA President David Greising writes every other week for the Chicago Tribune Opinion section.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot keeps edging up to Chicago’s fiscal mess, like a hiker toeing her way toward the rim of a steep canyon.

And who can blame her? When it comes to Chicago’s fiscal outlook, it must look like a cliff from the mayor’s perspective.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel handed off an estimated $740 million hole in next year’s budget. Lightfoot must fill it. Emanuel also left her without the means to address legally mandated pension payments that will require an additional $1 billion in annual city spending by 2023.

To this point, Lightfoot has said little about how she’ll attack the steep challenges. Except for appearances before a couple of fiscally focused civic groups this month — the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce and the Civic Federation — she has placed public attention on other matters.

The mayor’s words may be few, but her personnel moves are beginning to give some shape to how she plans to proceed.

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