Lori Lightfoot promises to change Chicago. Crises continue to pile up.

CHICAGO – In the days of a dispute between Mayor Lori Lightfoot and the Chicago Teachers Union, labor leaders outlined what they described as a major compromise. Students, who received no instruction after teachers voted to stop reporting to the classroom amid the coronavirus surge, will participate in a few days of online learning, followed by a full in-person return. enough.

Miss Lightfoot doesn’t have that.

Within minutes, she and the head of the school district released a statement accusing union leadership of not listening. “We will not be discouraged,” they said, calling instead for a swift return to in-person classes. Days later, the union itself was pleased: Students returned to school earlier than teachers wanted, with some additional Covid protections in place.

A fierce, highly public controversy with teachers this month has been a feature of Ms. Lightfoot’s Chicago management role. In nearly three years marked by a pandemic, soaring rates of violence and frequent labor wars, Ms. Lightfoot has demonstrated herself as an outspoken orator and an uncompromising negotiator. However, her magnanimous campaign promises to “bring to light”, reduce violence and reform government in America’s third largest city has repeatedly encountered a cycle of pressurized news, inactivity. decade and her uncanny ability to become a political foe.

“Her style is a top-down approach, very different from what she has campaigned for,” said Alderman Byron Sigcho-Lopez, who Ms. Lightfoot once called a “idiot” in hundreds of news stories. Her candid text message said. obtained by the Chicago Tribune.

Those texts reveal a mayor with a hands-on management style who has repeatedly pointed the finger at critics, colleagues and even political allies. She said that one peddler was “full of crap”, told another he was a “dust league” and told Governor JB Pritzkera Democrat, that his administration is “petty”.

As a black, gay woman who grew up in Ohio and has never held elected office before, Ms. Lightfoot stands out from previous mayors and her inauguration in 2019 was welcomed by some. considered a time of potential change for the city. She won all 50 wards City Council in the election flow while denigrate corruption and the notorious political machine in Chicago. She also vowed to address the racial and economic disparities that have long defined Chicago, where the downtown and North Side have often prospered while underinvestment and violence have caused for many neighborhoods on the South and West Sides.

But Ms. Lightfoot’s tenure has been shaped by a series of crises, some within her control, others not. About 800 people were murdered in the city last year, the most in a generation. Downtown has struggled to recover from the pandemic. And clashes with unions representing police officers and teachers have destabilized.

Ms. Lightfoot, a former federal prosecutor who served in Mayor Richard M. Daley’s administration, and who led the police discipline committee under Mayor Rahm Emanuel, defended her case. At the time of her election, she said this month, “No one in their minds thought that we would soon be laboring under a massive global pandemic and all the consequences.”

She added: “Nobody thought we were going to suffer one of the biggest economic crises we’ve seen since the Great Recession. No one thought we were going to see a massive increase in violence across the country.”

She also notes that her outspoken demeanor is not a new feature at City Hall.

“I have personally been asked this question, ‘Well, Mayor, you know your relationship with the City Council, would you be better off?’ Which I have to laugh at,” said Ms. Lightfoot. “When I think about who my predecessors were – I worked for Rich Daley and I was close to Rahm a lot, that doesn’t mean they won competitions for Mr. Congeniality.”

Ms. Lightfoot is expected to seek another term next year, and it is unclear how voters will react. Although several prominent critics have been rumored to be potential contenders, the field of challengers is largely undetermined and there are no reliable polls for job approval. of the mayor.

But the main criticisms that her eventual opponents will deploy — of a mayor who antagonizes instead of an ally, who engenders malice instead of brokering compromises — seems clear.

“She didn’t know how to play well with others,” and “she never mastered the idea of ​​a group project,” said Stacy Davis Gates, vice president of the teachers’ association. “And that’s the problem because she’s the common denominator in every situation where there’s discord.”

But if Mrs. Lightfoot seems like a figure capable of changing the status quo as an asset, she is also battling the old image of a Chicago mayor, Elizabeth Taylor, co-author of “American Pharaoh.” , a biography of the former Mayor Richard J. Daley – served as the city’s longest serving mayor until his son Richard M. Daley come together.

A fitting comparison to Lightfoot, Taylor said, is Jane Byrne, the only woman to serve as Chicago mayor, who challenged the city’s stereotypical vision of a leader when she took office in 1979. .

“Both joined a wave of reform,” Ms. Taylor said, “and then quickly went on the defensive.”

Ms. Lightfoot’s exceptionally strong leadership style has been well received at times. When the pandemic hit, her idyllic face was turned into a meme, Photohopped into famous Chicago scenes – lakeside, Millennium Park, a Seurat painting on display at the Art Institute – silently warning residents to stay in their homes. And even as the crises piled up, some have noted the scale of the challenges she has inherited and the uncertainty posed by the pandemic.

“The compassionate part of it tells me – you can see it’s true,” said Joseph Gilmore, 33-year-old son, Travell, who was among hundreds of people killed in Chicago last year.

Mr. Gilmore said he and his son, one bartender with an extroverted personality caretaker of her young daughter, frequently talking about the city’s seemingly inevitable violence. But despite the tragedy in his own family, Mr Gilmore said he remains a staunch supporter of Ms Lightfoot, and it’s not fair to expect her to single-handedly tackle the abuse.

“The things she’s saying to you, it doesn’t sound like a puff of smoke,” Mr. Gilmore said. “She goes out like her powers.”

Ms. Lightfoot inherited a city with a steady population – growing by nearly 2% between 2010 and 2020, to about 2.75 million residents – while several other Midwest cities saw dramatic declines. . Since taking office in 2019, she has won critical acclaim for pouring resources into affordable housing in Chicago and her work on Invest South/West, an initiative to develop the southern and western regions has languished for decades. Last summer, the minimum wage in Chicago was raised to $15 for most workers, an effort Ms. Lightfoot has supported.

But she has faced criticism for her handling of the Chicago Police Department, an issue that also irked her predecessors.

Ms. Lightfoot has apologized after officers raided the wrong home in February 2019, forcing Anjanette Young to stand naked and handcuffed while her apartment was searched. Chicago Inspector General said this month that officials in Lightfoot’s office had made false or unfounded statements about the incident that occurred shortly before her administration took office and that city agencies had “prioritized public relations.” more concerned with communication and public relations than the higher mandate of the city government”.

The shoot dead people of a 13-year-old boy, Adam Toledo, of a Chicago police officer last year caused national outrage. Miles from the scene of the shooting, protesters marched in Mrs. Lightfoot’s neighborhood in the Northwest.

Carlos Ramirez-Rosa, a farmer in Chicago, described Ms. Lightfoot’s tenure as “chaotic.”

“One of the highlights of her approach is taking things very personally,” he says, “and getting into combat when, in fact, there is a path toward cooperation.”

She has seen a high turnover among key advisers at City Hall, and aides have complained of a difficult work environment and a difficult mayor, who is known to be a or insult subordinates. Despite the city’s mounting problems, Ms. Lightfoot has vacated key administrative positions, including her deputy mayor for public safety, a job that had been vacant for months until May. 5 years ago.

And last fall, the head of Chicago’s largest police union publicly challenged Lightfoot’s order to require all city employees to report their immunization status – a conflict that has fueled tensions. between the mayor and senior officers.

Violence in Chicago is an urgent concern, as carjackings, shootings and homicides all spike in 2020 and 2021.

On Wednesday night, a police officer patrolling downtown shot a man. Authorities say the man was in a stolen vehicle, and someone in the vehicle opened fire on police. Days earlier, an 8-year-old girl was shot and killed while crossing the street with her mother in the Little Village neighborhood; a 16-year-old man was later charged with murder.

Donovan Price, a pastor who came to the scene to assist victims’ families, said his work has felt particularly bleak over the past year.

Mr Price, who lives on the South Side, said: “The number of children being shot, the number of mass shootings, it’s just a feeling that things are getting out of control.

Mr. Price said trust between police and residents had not improved, and that Ms. Lightfoot had not placed enough priority on reducing violence and restoring order.

“It was a wild scene,” he said. “And when it’s wild and people are getting shot with this frequency, of all ages, then you have to look and say, ‘Wow, what’s going on?’

https://www.nytimes.com/2022/01/28/us/lori-lightfoot-chicago.html Lori Lightfoot promises to change Chicago. Crises continue to pile up.

Fry Electronics Team

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