While Mayor Lori Lightfoot continues her over-the-top audition for no one to be the next face of the CNN docu-drama, Chicagoland, and appears to grow more frustrated by the day that Rahm's brother, Ari, or the Obama Family Netflix Production Company have yet to pick up the phone and get the triple threat the true audience she deserves, the city she was elected to lead is spiraling out of control faster than the Tik Tok buffering icon. It was spiraling long before Lori Lightfoot took office but, as that spiral spins faster and faster under her watch, her refusal to take any responsibility for her decision making in response to that spiral and the baffling contempt with which she treats seemingly everyone who dare question her authority, is going to earn her a new nickname. At the rate she's going, at best, Mayor Lightlost is going to lead this city into the middle of nowhere without a compass when it needs it most and, at worst, Mayor Leadfoot behind the wheel is going to lose control and drive this town into the metaphorical ditch.
Thursday night, due to "intel" that outside agitators were going to descend on the city and create a Seattle style autonomous zone in Grant Park in response to a planned rally in support of Police for Saturday, and a rumored threat the rioting mob was going to march to her house, Mayor Lightfoot opted to appease the organized anarchists that violently attacked her Police Department last Friday masked behind the excuse that the Christopher Columbus statue in Grant Park, which has stood for 87 years previous, was now deeply offensive to their sensibilities. Never mind the 2,750,000 other people that live in the city or what the nearly 10 million others residing within an hour's drive who work and recreate along the lake had to say on the matter, the approximate 1,000-2,000 glorified children throwing a tantrum last Friday needed to be appeased so Lori could get some sleep. Rather than display even a soft attempt at political leadership let alone make any nuanced rhetorical argument one way or another, she ostensibly asked for a favor from some in the old neighborhood a couple days ago and begged them to take the problem off her hands under the cover of darkness in the middle of the night in the hopes it will all just...go away. Bringing in the light, indeed.
Before anyone tries to paint my argument with a deceptive brush, to reiterate what I wrote the other day, my contention is not about the Columbus statue itself. If a community decides it wants some of its monuments and some of its history shelved or moved into a dusty museum basement, if it no longer sees a purpose for or no longer wants to continue to honor and display a perspective of their history in some of its public works, that’s the community's prerogative to adapt and change and present themselves to posterity as they see fit. That is a conversation I'm happy to abide. This country and this city allows for a way for the community to have that conversation and that doesn't involve flaccid acquiescence to small mob action.
The incident only serves to highlight a more significant problem. Lori Lightfoot is losing the plot.
Thursday night's capitulation comes on the heels of an abrupt rollback of the city's reopening "plan" that hit Chicago bars, restaurants, and gyms particularly hard, causing the first real economic canaries in the coalmine to begin to drop. Local favorites like Guthrie's Tavern in Lakeview, have chosen to permanently close and a new report by the business review website, Yelp, paints a dire picture as an estimated 4,400 Chicago area businesses have been marked closed since March, with 2,400 of those businesses marking themselves for permanent closure. That's not all Mayor Lightfoot's fault and Governor J.B. Pritzker shoulders much of that responsibility and deserves as much if not more ire than she does. Still, after downplaying the threat of lost revenues due to COVID-19 and behaving almost disturbingly flippant toward the potentially devastating economic impacts of her and her administration’s policies, she enacted and continues to lord extraordinary measures over the heads of her constituents and, most glaring, the city’s small business owners.
Before the barrage of hate mail toward anyone who would dare question these measures, no, I'm not referring to recommendations for wearing a mask or social distancing or limiting contact with relatives in nursing homes, no matter how profoundly sad that last one may make me feel for all doing the best they can to carry through under such circumstances. I'm referring to her and her administration's policies in which, rather than be precise and specific in retaliation toward repeat ordinance offenders, they've chosen to take an inconsistent and all-encompassing approach to punishment. To teach a lesson to the few, every establishment from Rogers Park to West Pullman is forced to suffer the continued loss of income and livelihoods with seemingly no recourse to relitigate or even, God forbid, ask questions of her decision making. Common sense would whisper many will not survive but, as Illinoians know all too well, as long as the money printer goes "brrrrrrrr" and they can get more and more and more citizens sucking on the teat of government payroll, none of it matters and our children's children's children's children's children won't mind our spending habits.
It's an apt metaphor for the state of affairs in this city for everything from crime to corruption but, we know, in Lori Lightfoot and Kim Foxx's Chicago, neither prosecuting the city's repeat offenders nor confronting the devastating loss of revenues to those who continue to abide the rule of law isn't on anyone's list of priorities, pandemic or no pandemic. In fact, they look forward to the tax increases to take even more.
Maybe if there had been any attempt by anyone in the Lightfoot administration at anything resembling some sort of creativity in relieving the pressure valve on these extraordinary measures, the situation many Chicago residents and business owners are facing today wouldn't be as dour? Extraordinary measures explained away with a wave of the hand and a roll of the eye. Measures that could maybe be better understood and even forgiven if they didn't appear so arbitrary. Measures with even a little rhyme, reason, or clarity beyond "lock down and shut up if you know what's good for you" paired with a smirk and any adjective metonymous with the new-age religion that modern science has become.
Maybe if there had been any attempt by anyone in the Lightfoot administration at anything resembling some sort of creativity in relieving the pressure valve on these extraordinary measures, our already laughably violent city of national and international repute wouldn't be experiencing such a sudden, significant, and quite serious rise in violence? A city plagued by not so much a gang war as it is a gang battle royale that resembles something you'd see in a massive multiplayer online role-playing game arena on XBox or Playstation rather than the real-life streets the kids are supposed to play on in the brief Chicago summer time. At least, the streets they're supposed to play on when "Aunt Lori" lifts her thumb to allow them to play in some unknown capricious future when she decides they've "earned" it.
Because, miraculously, despite the coronavirus pandemic and borderline catastrophic economic outlook the city faces for the forseeable future, it's the violence of headline, after headline, after headline, after headline, after headline, after headline, after headline, after headline, after headline, after headline, and on, and on, and on of children being shot in our streets that is the most pressing thing on everyone's mind. And it should be.
Before you misunderstand me, I hate that President Donald Trump is flooding the city with federal agents to Chicago, but sending federal agents to enforce federal laws, despite what Mayor Lightfoot and her advisors would have you believe otherwise, is not, in fact, against the law nor should it be feared. I don't recall hearing any local politicos grandstanding to block Operation Family Secrets from continuing.
Regardless of any legal precedent or constitutionality or simple law and order, it just plain shouldn't have to happen. That a city like Chicago, a city not only of its size but of its political and cultural history to the American experience, can't seem to get itself together is...well, it's embarrassing, quite frankly. As the city is on pace to post its bloodiest year in more than two decades while Mayor Lightfoot simultaneously seems most concerned with ceding authority to anarchists, punishing her city's already hurting and law-abiding small business community, and with "clapping back" on Twitter to @realDonaldTrump to impress anonymous ideological sycophants, the move is getting harder and harder to defend.
Believe it or not, a part of me is not upset with Lori Lightfoot at all, though I understand why you'd be confused after the diatribe written above. In a strange way, I'm glad Lori Lightfoot is in charge and found it politically more expedient to appease the full-grown child anarchists eagerly filming and posting their looting and terrorizing and "hey look at me" antics to social media with their phones and drones and laptops their parents bought them while not allowed to attend classes at universities that cost them the equivalent of a respectable 30-year fixed mortgage declaring it is they who have the truly tough lives rather than the literal children caught in the crossfire. I'm glad because it's beginning to narrow the spotlight on a political and cultural class in this city who have spent decade after decade after decade caring less about any real, logical solutions to lift these kids out of the tragic cycle of poverty they're lost in and work to end the criminal abuses they endure every day than they do about toasting each other and awarding each other at banquets and various social clubs while applauding their new titles at their non-profits where tax write-off donations are blown on "marketing" and "awareness" long before any paltry percentage actually makes it to the communities intended. It's beginning to narrow the spotlight on the wannabe revolutionaries who enable and encourage their underclasses from the safety of their high rises and comfy suburban enclaves in the hope that they'll finally cause so much chaos we'll collapse into something akin to the 19th century soviet agrarianism they desperately wish to return to so the permanent revolution can finally be realized because this time, with them in charge, it will most certainly work and all will be right in the world and their lives will finally have meaning in service to their glorious subjective utopias.
Who knows? Maybe I am wrong? Maybe now that the Christopher Columbus statue in Grant Park is finally gone, the rioters will all go home and this will all go away and Mayor Lightfoot can finally just get some gosh darned sleep?
Listen, I know this is not all Lori Lightfoot's fault and many of these issues have been fomenting for some time and that she's merely the unfortunate one in charge at this moment. But she is in charge. This is now her watch. And even if there are many Chicago residents and business owners who, inconceivably, continue to bury their heads in the sand and pretend both their and their neighbor's and friend's livelihoods are not in jeopardy of crumbling around them, those who close their eyes and stick their fingers in their ears and wish the bad things will just go away if they can't see or hear them, and those who look to their neighbors on their left and their right to make sure they're goose-stepping in rhythm to the political ideology they hold most dear while ignoring they're being marched off a cliff, that does not relieve leaders from criticism. And no amount of extenuating circumstances, no matter how new and novel they may be, relieve leaders from criticism.
Lori Lightfoot was elected to lead. Nearly three-quarters of Chicagoans went to the polls and voted for her to lead. The tough-talking no-nonsense pretense she has adopted seems particularly put-on and affected and doing her no favors if she is going to so easily yield to the demands of the mob. Just because the President of the United States behaves a certain way it does not mean Lori Lightfoot is granted or assured permission to do the same. The big (D) after a politician's name or her campaign’s most proud credentials of “Black,” “Lesbian,” and “Woman,” does not provide an all-access pass beyond the doorman named Consequences. I know that is a confusing concept in this town.
If I were advising her, I'd encourage the Mayor to drop the affectations mentioned above and start over, with a more humble approach in her day-to-day dealings with both her peers in government and all the constituents that elected her. Before it's too late.
I'll leave the Mayor with the same advice my mother offered to my father on road trips back in the long forgotten days of yore before cell phones and navigation systems, when he was quite clearly lost and getting more frustrated by the minute and threatening to turn the car around, "Why don't you stop and ask for help?"
In Grant Park, of all places. ↩︎
IMPORTANT NOTE: It's okay and even encouraged if they want to attack...wait, sorry..."peacefully protest" your business or neighborhood, though. ↩︎
Staff, C. (2020, July 20). Wrigleyville's Guthrie's Tavern Announces It Is Going Out Of Business Amid Reimposed Restrictions On Bars. Retrieved July 25, 2020, from https://chicago.cbslocal.com/2020/07/20/wrigleyvilles-guthries-tavern-announces-it-is-going-out-of-business-amid-reimposed-restrictions-on-bars/. ↩︎
Increased Consumer Interest in May Correlates with COVID-19 Hot Spots in June, According to the Yelp Economic Average. (n.d.). Retrieved July 25, 2020, from https://www.yelpeconomicaverage.com/yea-q2-2020.html. ↩︎
We promise, that ire is coming. ↩︎
Emmanuel Camarillo, T. (2020, July 17). Infant among 3 shot in Old Town; suspects in custody. Retrieved July 24, 2020, from https://chicago.suntimes.com/crime/2020/7/16/21327884/old-town-blackhawk-gun-violence. ↩︎
Ben Pope, S. (2020, June 27). 1-year-old dead, mother wounded in Englewood shooting. Retrieved July 24, 2020, from https://chicago.suntimes.com/crime/2020/6/27/21305650/sincere-gaston-1-year-old-baby-killed-woman-child-shot-englewood-yale. ↩︎
WLS, & Jones, W. (2020, June 24). $13K reward offered after 3-year-old boy fatally shot on Chicago's West Side. Retrieved July 24, 2020, from https://abc7chicago.com/chicago-shootings-shooting-weekend-this/6265494/. ↩︎
WLS, & Team, A. (2020, July 22). Girl, 3, seriously injured in shooting in South Shore. Retrieved July 24, 2020, from https://abc7chicago.com/chicago-shooting-breaking-news-child-shot-south-shore-gun-violence/6328521/. ↩︎
Greene, M., Yin, A., & Rosenberg-Douglas, K. (2020, July 01). 3-year-old girl recovering after shot outside her home on South Side. 'She's going to pull through'. Retrieved July 24, 2020, from https://www.chicagotribune.com/news/breaking/ct-3-year-old-shot-chicago-violence-20200701-a3b5xr4ov5genfzbcifcz73pwq-story.html. ↩︎
Desk, W., & Runge, E. (2020, June 19). 5-year-old boy, 19-year-old shot on Back of the Yards porch. Retrieved July 24, 2020, from https://wgntv.com/news/chicago-news/5-year-old-boy-19-year-old-critically-wounded-in-back-of-the-yards-shooting/. ↩︎
Tumulty, B., & Desk, W. (2020, July 20). 2 kids among 3 shot while relatives marked anniversary of man's murder in Auburn Gresham. Retrieved July 24, 2020, from https://wgntv.com/news/chicago-news/two-kids-among-three-shot-in-auburn-gresham/. ↩︎
Jeremy Gorner, W. (2020, July 07). Man charged in July 4 shooting death of 7-year-old Natalia Wallace; Lightfoot calls violence against city's children personal. Retrieved July 24, 2020, from https://www.chicagotribune.com/news/breaking/ct-chicago-shootings-girl-killed-arrest-20200706-lw7uh5qja5fmtav2q5neald5qm-story.html. ↩︎
NBC Chicago. (2020, July 20). Several Children Among at Least 70 Shot in Chicago Weekend Violence. Retrieved July 24, 2020, from https://www.nbcchicago.com/top-videos-home/several-children-among-at-least-70-shot-in-chicago-weekend-violence/2307810/. ↩︎
Wire, S. (2020, June 29). 10-year-old girl killed by stray bullet in Logan Square identified. Retrieved July 24, 2020, from https://www.fox32chicago.com/news/10-year-old-girl-killed-by-stray-bullet-in-logan-square-identified. ↩︎
...don't bring up Teacher's Union negotiations...don't bring up Teacher's Union negotiations...don't bring up Teacher's Union negotiations... ↩︎
And deserves plenty of criticism for it. ↩︎
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