When Mayor Lightfoot stormed across the council floor last week to confront Alderwoman Jeanette Taylor, we got a demonstration of a mayor breaking her promise—not that anyone asked for it.
The promise was candidate Lightfoot’s vow to usher in a more tolerant, less combative relationship with the City Council.
Remember that promise? The days of a rubber-stamp council would be over, as candidate Lightfoot pledged to listen to different ideas, even tolerate dissent, for the good of Chicago.
Apparently, that promise got chucked out of the mayoral window—along with the promise of an elected school board, a police oversight board, a more transparent government, etc.
The mayor’s council floor showdown with Taylor stems from the case of Anjanette Young, the woman whose west-side home was invaded one night in 2019, by a dozen or so police officers waving a no-knock warrant, as she stepped from the shower.
The cops made Young stand naked for over a half hour before they acknowledged what they should have figured out right away—they had invaded the wrong apartment.
Mayor Lightfoot has had a curious, ever-changing attitude about the matter since Channel 2 reporter Dave Savini broke the story last year.
First, she blamed it on Mayor Rahm—as the raid happened at the tail end of his reign.
Then she said she never heard of the raid.
Then she said she couldn’t talk about it because it was a matter of litigation.
Then when the shit hit the fan—and she looked cruelly callous to the humiliation of Young—she did a 180 . . .
Suddenly, she remembered she had been notified of the raid. And she could talk about it. And she was outraged by it. So outraged she forced out Mark Flessner, the corporation counsel. Though what he’d done that Lightfoot hadn’t told him to do has never been clear.
Then, overwhelmed with newfound empathy for Ms. Young, she arranged to meet her.
She emerged from that meeting transformed, vowing to recompense Young for her suffering and humiliation and to send a message throughout the land that such intolerance would never, ever be tolerated again.
Watching Lightfoot in the days after her meeting with Young was like watching Scrooge throw open the window on Christmas morning, proclaiming he was a new and more compassionate human being.
And then somehow or other the Lightfoot law department—led by Celia Meza—has gone back to playing hardball with Ms. Young—moving to dismiss the case if she doesn’t accept their settlement offer.
So much for the empathy for a Black woman abused by the police. It was like Scrooge woke up on the day after Christmas and said—ah, the hell with that Mr. Nice Guy stuff.
The hardball tactics toward Young are what prompted Alderwoman Taylor to join forces with Alderman Raymond Lopez to “defer and publish” Lightfoot’s proposal to have the council approve her appointment of Meza as corporation counsel.
Lopez and Taylor knew they couldn’t block the council from eventually approving Meza—the mayor had more than enough votes to confirm. But they wanted to protest how Young was being treated.
Defer and publish is when two aldermen postpone action on a proposal for one meeting. It’s a legitimate practice that’s been happening more and more over the last few months.
In fact, Mayor Lightfoot had a couple of her allies defer and publish Alderman David Moore and Alderwoman Sophia King’s proposal to rename Lake Shore Drive for DuSable.
You figure if Lightfoot can defer and publish, there should be nothing wrong with Taylor and Lopez doing the same.
Obviously, the mayor doesn’t see it that way. Because after Taylor and Lopez deferred and published the Meza confirmation, Lightfoot called a recess. She walked off the podium, strode across the council floor, and got into Taylor’s face.
Now, I realize mayors can get frustrated with aldermen. I once saw Mayor Harold Washington threaten to punch Alderman Eddie Vrdolyak in the face. And Mayor Daley went red-faced ballistic at Alderman Robert Fioretti. And Mayor Rahm poked Alderman Scott Waguespack in the belly. OK, I didn’t see that—Waguespack told me about it.
But, until now, I’ve never seen a mayor take it to the floor, so to speak. That’s a new one—even for Chicago.
Alderwoman Taylor appeared on my podcast the day after her showdown with Lightfoot—you can hear our conversation by clicking on this link.
Here’s a snippet . . .
“She gets in my face. We’re chest-to-head cause I’m taller than her. She’s screaming, and she has her finger in my face . . . I’m saying, ‘Lower your voice and get your hand out of my face.’ Eventually, she puts her hand down. But she continues to scream at me. And I’m like—‘I’m a grown-ass woman. I am not a child. Stop yelling at me.’ And so, she continued to yell. And I said, ‘Ever since they gave you this power during COVID-19, you’ve lost your mind. You’ve blocked everything that we’ve tried to do for our people, and you’ve become problematic. Clearly, you do not understand that I am your coworker, you are not my boss.’ . . . She threw up her hand and walked away.
“She’s used to people backing down. I’m a Black woman just like her, struggling in this space. I’ve got grown kids. My mother has never done that to me. And I’m definitely not gonna let her do that. When a bully continues to bully you? You stand up to that bully . . .
“I don’t agree with her politically. And I had this conversation with her, when I first got into office. ‘My lived experiences tell me something different. But I don’t have to disrespect you . . . I go against your politics. And that’s it.’”
Taylor says she wants an apology from Lightfoot. But I can’t imagine Lightfoot apologizing any more than Daley or Rahm would apologize in such a situation.
When you’re the supreme leader of Chicago, you don’t have to apologize—no matter who you bully. v