Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot has a massive problem on her hands. Chicago is setting crime records and as a result, her city is losing business. While all this is happening, she says she prefers to “focus on the good news.” Major companies including Mcdonald’s, Citadel Securities, Boeing, and Caterpillar are ready to leave. Based on the mayor’s response, many will likely follow.
Not only is crime raging, but the overall business climate is declining significantly across the state. Let’s take a look at some of the numbers.
Chicago set a deadly record in 2021. The city saw more than 797 homicides which was 25 more than deadly 2020. Worse still, it was more than any other year since 1996. While 2020 has a reputation nationwide as a year of violence, Chicago just keeps getting worse. In 2021, Chicago had 3,561 shooting incidents. That’s 300 more than 2020 and 1,415 more than 2019.
They ended the year with more homicides than any other city in the United States.
In January of this year, Police Superintendent David Brown told reporters the following:
“We all know this has been a challenging year here in the city of Chicago. Too many families are reeling from the loss of (loved) ones due to senseless gun violence.”
But Chicago’s mayor isn’t concerned about their loss, setting it right, or preventing worse. Instead, she wants to “focus on the good news.”
Higher taxes and inflated spending are heavily burdening businesses. First, Illinois is facing a severe pension crisis. The state simply can’t keep up with the growing pension debt of $313 Billion. The Policy Circle reports that it is the worst pension shortfall in the nation. Illinois’ overall pension debt is 268% higher than annual revenue. That means the debt is more than 2 and a half times the amount of money the state takes in. As a result, taxes keep hiking.
In the midwestern region surrounding Illinois, it’s the only state whose Tax Foundation tax climate ranking has actually declined. But according to Matt Paprocki, President of the Illinois Policy Journal, this crisis is not hopeless.
“What needs to be done isn’t that complicated; the state’s leaders just have to act instead of relying on wishful thinking and leaving the ever-worsening trouble for the next generation to handle.”
What is Lori Lightfoot’s response? Let’s just “focus on the good news.”
The construction machinery company Caterpillar had a long and strong relationship with Illinois. Former CEO, Doug Oberhelman, employed 23,000 employees at the time he wrote an op-ed where he said he “wasn’t threatening to leave Illinois.” He just wanted to explain what the state needed to do to remain competitive for business. “Caterpillar has deep roots in Illinois,” said Oberhelman. “Illinois is Caterpillar’s home, and it is my home.” He went on to explain that as a result of poor policy, they hadn’t expanded or invested in Illinois over the previous decade.
Oberhelman wrote that op-ed in 2012. This year, Caterpillar left its “home,” behind.
But Lori Lightfoot wants to “focus on the good news.”
Chicago’s crime waves have many consequences. One of them may take away one of the staples of American streets: The Golden Arches themselves. McDonald’s CEO Chris Kempczinski warned that “our city is in crisis.” He pointed at the large companies leaving Chicago.
“The fact is that there are fewer large companies headquartered in Chicago this year than last year. There are fewer this month than last month.”
He also warned that Americans need to “face facts” and recognize that companies just don’t want their headquarters in crime-ridden cities. Kempczinski explained that McDonald’s employees are having trouble working in the city. “Truth is, it’s more difficult for me to recruit a new employee to McDonald’s to join us in Chicago than it was in the past.”
Lightfoot’s response? She told him to “educate himself.”
The Mayor of Chicago is simply chasing business away at this point.
During a media appearance on Tuesday, Lightfoot said “I think what would have been helpful is for the McDonald’s CEO to educate himself before he spoke.” She said this in the midst of 3 other major companies announcing their move out of Illinois. All of them cited similar reasons.
Instead of address the issue, she’d rather distract from it and pretend it doesn’t exist.
In a press conference, she mentioned a letter from World Business Chicago President Michael Fassnacht that she says “lays out in exact detail all the good news, economic news, about what’s happening in our city.”
Then she landed with this:
“I’m going to focus on those things and not the comments of CEO of McDonald’s.”
It’s hard to believe that a mayor can so thoroughly disregard her people in good conscience. It’s even harder to believe that she can get away with it. Leadership in Democrat cities today is corrupt beyond belief. The consequences are real, companies are leaving, and their economies are reeling. Will they actually learn from these mistakes? Only time will tell.