Mayor Daley's potential replacement deserves some pity.
The dozen or so candidates vying for the power seat on the fifth floor of City Hall will have to deal with a fiscal mess when they assume office, because Daley's 2011 budget will only weaken the city coffers.
The mayor is expected to dip into Tax Increment Financing funds, draw down reserves and cut some city services to help shore up a $655 million budget gap.
Bond rating agencies aren't thrilled with that type of planning. Two major bond rating agencies have already lowered Chicago's rating because the city relies on one-time revenue sources to fill in the holes. The plan to draw down reserves won't be the only bitter pill to swallow.
The mayor will pitch a plan to privatize some city festivals, curbside recycling and maybe more. Privatizing city services hasn't been a popular option in the past. City residents nearly revolted when the mayor leased the parking meters for just over $1 billion.
What was supposed to be a popular proposal, a plan to add 200 police officers to the city streets -- a plan Daley announced in advance of his budget -- is already drawing skepticism.
"These numbers are not going to stack up to even maintain the level of police protection that the people have today," said Mark Donahue, president of the Fraternal Order of Police. "We're looking to get the numbers back to where they were in March of 2008, and this is not going to do it."
Donahue maintains that low staffing leads to danger for the men and women he represents, as evidenced by the deaths of three officers earlier this year.
"They don't have the backup," he said. "They don't have the resources to protect themselves in addressing the crime situations."
Ald. Anthony Beale (9th), the chairman of the City Council Police and Fire Committee, also expressed the belief that the mayor's numbers are anywhere near a permanent fix for the staffing the city needs.
"We may have a net gain of officers on the street," he said. "But I don't think this is going to keep up."
Beale noted that on any given day, literally thousands of officers are unavailable.
"You've got about 1,200 who are either sick, call in, personal days, and things like that. And then you have about 800 who are on disability," he explained.
Still, Beale conceded that Daley's math may be the best that can be expected in a very lean budget year. That remains to be seen.