Spotlight Politics: Signs of Struggle Ahead for Lightfoot?

Are there early signs of a revolt that could make life harder for Chicago’s mayor? Our politics team of Paris Schutz, Amanda Vinicky and Carol Marin discuss that and more in this week’s Spotlight Politics.

Next month, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot will unveil her plan for Chicago’s budget.

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Action taken Wednesday by the City Council, at Lightfoot’s behest, could deepen the projected $838 million gap – though it’s great news for drivers who are low on cash. A new ordinance establishes a payment plan for residents to pay off parking debts, reduces the late fee for expired city stickers and gives motorists a day to buy a new one before racking up a second ticket.

But further trouble could be ahead for Lightfoot. At Wednesday’s meeting, Alds. Ray Lopez and Anthony Beale publicly challenged the mayor, albeit in minor ways. Could it be the opening signs of a revolt in which alderman assert their power over a neophyte mayor?

Ald. Carrie Austin (34th Ward), whose office was raided by the feds in June, was at Wednesday’s meeting, too. According to a WBEZ report, the feds are also eyeing her chief of staff, Chester Wilson Jr.

Meanwhile, even as Lightfoot and Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle have made overtures to talk about reducing violence, the political rivals are on opposite sides of the track on a transportation plan.

Preckwinkle earlier this week says giving the Southland greater access to transportation is a matter of racial equity. She’s working to increase train service to and from the southern part of Cook County, and to use taxpayer money to help reduce fares on Metra’s Electric and Rock Island lines. But Lightfoot says while there are pockets that need transit help, propping up Metra would have a “dramatic effect” on the Chicago Transit Authority, and she won’t endorse hurting the CTA.

It’s easy to take a Metra from Chicago to Arlington Park – a train stops right at the racecourse. But state horseracing regulators are none too pleased with the park’s latest gamble. After years of begging for the ability to have slots and poker tables, a law authorizing massive gambling expansion paves the way for turning Arlington Park into a combo horse track/casino (or “racino”) … but Arlington is suddenly saying no. The state horse racing board on Tuesday scolded Arlington leaders.

Follow us on Twitter: @wttw | @paschutz@AmandaVinicky @CarolMarin

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