Lori’s hiring of special investigator Ann Claire Williams earns her the 2020 holiday season’s most dubious distinction.
Lori’s hiring of special investigator Ann Claire Williams earns her the 2020 holiday season’s most dubious distinction. Credit: CITY OF CHICAGO; U.S. COURTS

Have no fear, Chicago.

As I retreated deeper into my annual Christmas/New Year’s hibernation—bingeing on old movies till dawn—I was still keeping track of which of your officials were naughty and which were nice.

Now I’m doling out my coveted award for outrageous behavior by a local official who thought they could get away with anything on the grounds that it’s Christmas and no one’s paying attention.

No, the award isn’t going to CPS officials who keep saying they know what they’re doing in reopening the schools in the middle of a pandemic—so shut up, teachers, and get in those classrooms!

Even though they still haven’t notified the pregnant teacher I wrote about weeks ago whether she’s exempt for health reasons. If it was up to CPS, they’d make her have her baby under a classroom desk.

It’s a local award, so I can’t give it to President Donnie, though calling elected officials in Georgia to get them to throw out Biden votes is pretty outrageous.

So, you could make a strong case that the award should go to Tribune editorial writers and other cowardly Republicans who have so much to say about Speaker Madigan but are too chicken to criticize Trump.

No, the award goes to Mayor Lori Lightfoot for her handling of the police raid on Anjanette Young’s house. Specifically, her December 22 announcement that she was bringing in a special investigator to essentially investigate what she knew and when she knew it.

As if Lightfoot couldn’t just answer both questions on her own right now—without a special investigator.

Slick move, Madame Mayor. Somewhere Mayor Rahm’s going—Man, why didn’t I think of that with the Laquan McDonald video?

To refresh your memory, the Anjanette Young case went down like this . . .

In February of 2019, about a dozen police officers waving a no-knock warrant kicked open the door to Young’s house to discover her naked and alone.

They handcuffed her and ransacked her home, looking for someone and something that wasn’t there. ’Cause they had raided the wrong house.

Which is what Young, a social worker, was trying to tell them. Though they wouldn’t listen. ’Cause it said on their little piece of paper that it was her house. And if it said it on their little piece of paper, it can’t be wrong.

And you wonder why teachers don’t trust the system to get things right.

The raid, as Mayor Lightfoot loves to remind people, occurred several months before she was sworn in as mayor and vowing to “bring in the light.”

But for almost two years, city lawyers from Lightfoot’s administration have been in court battling Young, fighting like hell to keep video of the raid a secret and treating Young like she did something wrong for demanding that the city try to make things right.

So as much as I’m tempted to blame most bad things on Rahm, in this case he’s largely blame free. 

Young’s lawyer leaked the video to reporter Dave Savini of CBS 2. Prompting Mayor Lightfoot to release the following statement on December 15—a statement that will live on in infamy—after Savini ran a story.

“Today, I became aware of an incident involving Ms. Anjanette Young from February 2019, before I became mayor, and I saw a video today for the first time. I had no knowledge of either until today. I had a very emotional reaction to what was depicted on the video as I imagine that many people did. . . . Since this matter is the subject of litigation and an open COPA investigation, I will have no further comment.” 

Soon thereafter the proverbial shit hit the proverbial fan as more and more people saw the video. 

And Mayor Lightfoot did a quick 180. Out the window went her whole “I-can’t-talk-about-the-case-’cause-it’s-in-litigation” spiel. And she hasn’t stopped talking about it since.

Apparently, she figured out that the more she talks about the raid, the less people will remember that she was the one playing hardball with Young in the first place.

She’s apologized. She’s met with Young. She’s released e-mails that showed she had, in fact, been notified about the matter months before Savini aired his report. So it looks like she wasn’t being exactly truthful in her infamous December 15 statement.

And she got Mark Flessner—her corporation counsel—to resign.

The corporation counsel is the lawyer who sits next to the mayor at City Council meetings and whispers things into her ear and laughs at the wisecracks she whispers back.

You know, I think I could handle that job—and I didn’t even go to law school.

As an employee of the city, the corporation counsel is supposed to live in Chicago. Only Flessner lives in Naperville.

When the Naperville story broke, my first thought was—there’s dozens of lawyers who practice in Chicago, couldn’t Lightfoot find one who actually lives here?

But Lightfoot insisted Flessner was so brilliant only he was capable of the job. And now, just like that, she’s treating him like CPS treats its teachers—beat it, buster!

The whole thing reminds people of how Rahm handled the Laquan McDonald video. Like Lightfoot, Rahm said he didn’t see the video until it was released to the public.

Rahm also found a convenient scapegoat to blame, firing then police chief Garry “Big Mac” McCarthy.

Big Mac got so mad that he ran against Rahm before Rahm bowed out of the 2019 race. If this pattern holds, look for Flessner to run against Lightfoot in 2023. Though residency rules might be an issue.

Lightfoot’s investigator is former federal judge Ann Claire Williams, now a partner for Jones Day—President Trump’s election law firm (for more on Jones Day, read Elie Mystal’s column in the Nation).

What is it about Lightfoot and her lawyers? First she hires a guy who lives in Naperville. Then she hires one from a firm that represented Trump.

Whatever—come get your trophy, Madame Mayor. The inscription reads: If at first you tell the truth, you’ll never have to hire an investigator to explain why you changed your story.  v