This weekend Dan Mihalopoulos wrote a long political analysis of a Tribune poll that found Mayor Daley’s approval ratings at an all-time low of 35%. It’s a very good piece, and worth reading, save for this (emphasis mine):

The bad economy has left Daley unable to fulfill his 2007 promise of generous wage increases to unionized employees for the next 10 years. Instead, Chicago has been forced to take many of the same cost-cutting measures as other cities and private companies, including layoffs and furloughs.

“‘The mayor’s biggest problem is financial,’ added Vallas, who now runs the public schools in New Orleans. ‘The well has run dry.'”

[Update: Okay, this too: “the Games represent what could be his best chance of overcoming the financial troubles that have made his job increasingly difficult.” Since he’s openly admitted he has no other ideas, I guess this is true as far as it goes.]

Yes, his biggest problem is financial. But it’s not just the bad economy that’s forcing layoffs and furloughs. It’s also three little letters.