By John Kass
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot has foolishly put herself—and the safety of the people of Chicago—in a game of chicken, with at least half the police force ready to defy her vaccine mandate and be sent home from work by City Hall without pay, rather than comply.
“She wants to play a game of chicken. Well, we’re in a semi. And she’s in a Smart Car. And she wants to play chicken?” said Fraternal Order of Police President John Catanzara told me on Thursday. “That’s her decision.”
I figure Chicago’s little Napoleon in pants suits caves by Friday. As I type this on Thursday evening, Chicago aldermen are calling, saying she’s already blinking on her threats of “no vaccine, you’ll be sent home without pay.”
FRIDAY MORNING UPDATE: She blinked. She did cave. After her repeated threats, she won’t withhold their pay and send them home if they don’t comply with her vaccine mandate. Lori, that’s no way to play chicken or poker. Her chicken little game has come home to roost. Cops have had enough. Now she’s pouting, driving up the ramp of the chicken coop in her little clown car.
If she didn’t cave, victims of weekend violence would blame Lightfoot because she put her ego ahead of public safety. The smart play was to cave and call it something else. Her media friends can spin it. She can even call it victory, if she wants. But she caved. And that weakens her even more.
“Absolutely she’ll cave but she’ll never call it caving,” he said, prophetically on Thursday. “She’ll push some spin like ‘we’ve re-addressed our policy’ or some nonsense like that. As far as public safety is concerned, our members are ready to work and protect the people of Chicago. If half the police force is sent home—after they’ve shown up for work–then it’s on the city and on the mayor specifically.”
Lightfoot wants all city workers to be either vaccinated against Covid-19 or tested weekly for the coronavirus. And they must share their vaccine status information with the city. Under her rule–the deadline is Oct. 15–city employees who aren’t vaccinated, or refuse to submit to weekly testing and those not given exemptions for religious or medical reasons, will be placed on “no-pay” status.
“There will be consequences if people are not complying with what the policy is,” Lightfoot has threatened. But now I see she wants a carve out for the policy and won’t put objectors on no-pay status? A cave is a cave.
“She’ll put it on me,” said Catanzara. “But this isn’t me, it’s about the members who showed up at the FOP the other night figuratively with pitchforks and torches. It’s about those who’ve already had Covid and don’t feel like getting the shot because they have immunity, and those who’ve been vaccinated, and still know the vaccinated can spread it. She’s all about her overreach. Let her play her political games.”
The consequence is that police, already 1,000 cops short under Lightfoot, could be down 50 percent over the weekend. The people expect three things from a mayor: Pick up the garbage, keep them safe and continue the fantasy that the public schools work, at least for some.
She’s the mayor, not some dangerous idiot kid playing chicken at 3 a.m. on Southwest Highway.
Police have been working throughout the pandemic, with many getting Covid-19, with most surviving, and risking their lives in other ways: getting shot and shot at while teachers were paid to stay home and teach remotely. Cops have seen her cave to the teacher’s union. They’ve seen her defy her own Covid edicts, like other rules-for-thee-but-not-for me politicians. Remember her celebrated stay at home pandemic order she broke to get her hair done?
Police families haven’t forgotten.
I don’t think there’s a winner in this. I’m thinking of that officer or firefighter who doesn’t want to comply, who doesn’t want the vaccination, doesn’t want to give the city personal health information, and yet becomes seriously ill. Or the victims of crime who’ll call 911 and get no response. And Lightfoot.
Lightfoot and the FOP boss have been abrasive, yes, and not just to each other. Both have a little Donald Trump in them. But it is Lightfoot, who governs like Trump in a pants suit, doesn’t understand human nature, and she never learned the first lesson of politics:
You catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.
I’m not opposed to the vaccine. I’ve been vaccinated and encourage others to get vaccinated. Occasionally I’ll even wear one of those ridiculous cheap paper Facemasks of Fealty that really don’t work, to put others at ease. And at fine restaurants, you see the city’s elite dining without masks, laughing, sipping superior vintage, while the servers are all masked up, like serfs, well on their road to serfdom.
Here’s what I don’t like:
I don’t like government bullying Americans about what Americans decide to put in their bodies.
We’re not Australia, yet are we? Mate?
The people of Chicago suffer post-traumatic stress from the constant violence. Police are rebelling against her. Firefighters, too. Many cops are already vaccinated, but some aren’t, yet even those who have taken the jab tell me they won’t comply by telling City Hall a thing about their health. And just off stage–but not quite–waits Arne Duncan, the White Shadow, the empty sweat suit and unofficial candidate backed by the Obama crew and Rahm and already the beneficiary of much media love. Obama/Rahm want their City Hall back. And she’s giving it to them.
Lightfoot made her nest of thorns. She’s warred with cops for years, while currying favor with militant leaders of the Chicago Teachers’ Union by giving them the most lucrative contract in history, even as school enrollment plummets. In response, the union slapped her around politically, and repeatedly defied her feeble attempts to reopen the schools. The CTU sees her as weak.
While she caved to CTU, she constantly fights with police, ordering them to work 12-hour shifts and cancelling their vacations as she takes her vacations to some woodsy sanctuary.
How did the mayor let it come to this?
She thought she was a boss. She let her advisers put her in that clown car. She tried to browbeat the aldermen at her inauguration, and what did they do? They waited. And she lost the city long ago, by failing to stop the waves of looting following the George Floyd riots.
Lightfoot’s last straw with police? She endorsed George Soros backed catch-and-release Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx for re-election.
The late Mayor Richard J. Daley was a boss. But even Daley wasn’t a dictator in the way he’s described by some modern know-nothings. Daley built support for his policies. He didn’t tweet, but he’d talk to people. He listened to many even if he disagreed. He wanted to hear from those he respected and convince them. That’s how power is developed, not by cute memes on Twitter.
She respects only a few. She’s isolated, suspicious, a political neophyte insulated in a bubble of leftist amateurs who keep telling her she’s brilliant. Yes, MSNBC loves her. But she needed someone she trusts to tell her “no.”
And when she’s done, like ticks they’ll hop on some other candidate. And then she’ll be alone.
With Chicago murders, shooting, and car-jackings skyrocketing, with so many innocents cut down as collateral damage of the street gang wars in the neighborhoods and on the expressways, with prosecutors sometimes declining to charge shooters because of their insane “mutual combatants” rationale, I came up with a plan.
I said on The Chicago Way podcast that it’s time City Hall initiates a Chicago Thunderdome.
You know, two men enter, one man leaves.
Please don’t clutch your pearls. I’m not all that keen on gladiatorial games to the death, even if it might provide revenue to offset those red light camera hits to your checking account. It was just a strand of spaghetti I threw against the wall on Columbus Day, while wondering when Columbus will be paroled from her Jail of Problematic Statues.
Thunderdome comes from that old “Mad Max” movie. The dystopian logic, though cruel and barbaric, protected non-combatants. It isn’t any more cruel or barbaric than what takes place on Chicago’s streets these days, with gun offenders given bail and let and go out to shoot others and “mutual combatants” walking.
The Chicago Sun Times has covered this game of chicken well. The newspaper’s savvy City Hall writer Fran Spielman and longtime police reporter Frank Main both get it.
Some say this is Lightfoot’s Mike Bilandic moment, after the mayor who lost to Jane Byrne on account of the great snowstorm.
But I see it as her Jane Byrne moment. Unlike Bilandic, Byrne convinced herself she was a boss. Like Lightfoot, Byrne didn’t listen to people who understood politics. And she surrounded herself with unctuous babblers and they, too, told her what she wanted to hear.
“How long do we do this?” Catanzara told me. “As long as it takes. Let’s see what happens over the weekend.”
Yes, we’ll see if the Lightfoot caving continues. Blink, cave, call it what you wish. It spells l-o-s-e-r.
But what if she changes her mind capriciously, again, and stiffens, and the rank-and-file doesn’t cave, and their sergeants don’t cave? What if Chicago’s violent criminals don’t cave–and why should they because, well, Kim Foxx—but what would Lightfoot’s City Hall do then?
There’s always the Chicago Thunderdome.
(Copyright 2021 John Kass)