The Unbearable Lightness of Lightfoot

by John Kass | © 2021 John Kass

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot is an experienced lawyer, skilled in the great game of words.

She made a good living craftily parsing words at one of the city’s top law firms.

Law firm politics, played on carpets in board rooms is one thing. But Chicago politics played on the concrete and asphalt of the blood-spattered Chicago Way is another.

And as a rookie mayor clearly overwhelmed by the job, she’s publicly proven herself to be woefully inept at leadership, crisis management and the dark arts of politics.

She has lost the city. She lost it when she failed to stop that second wave of downtown mass looting last summer. She continues to lose what’s left of it.

The city is now at an historic crossroads, as people vote with their feet and flee from street violence.

People who’ve been exhausted by the pandemic and the lockdowns are overwhelmed as homicides and shootings spike here as they spike nationally. Tourists are harassed, robbed, and even killed downtown.

The difference between Chicago and the other towns is that here, the people have been conditioned to think a mayor could be seen as ruthless or corrupt, but always strong enough to maintain order.

That is not the case now. Rather than maintain order she undermines it.

The other day, a young couple was pulled from their car after the Puerto Rican Day parade, and murdered on the street in a horrific video that has gone viral.

What does the mayor do?

She clings to her word games, the way someone who’d just been tossed overboard would desperately cling to a floating chunk of wood.

As the Chicago City Council plays symbolic politics to rename Lake Shore Drive, Lightfoot counters by also playing to the woke, playing to the hard progressive left, playing her race card, while thrilling some media cheerleaders who are awed by what they see as her linguistic wizardry, but ignoring her incompetence.

But the people see right through it. They don’t care about political word games or excuses. They care about not becoming victims of violent crime.

Many are now afraid of going downtown or to the lakefront after sunset. They don’t want to see any more children gunned down in the street gang wars, or tourists stabbed, as the bodies pile up, as Lightfoot proclaims “systemic racism” to be a public health crisis.

Really, Lori? Really?  Violent crime is the crisis. The growing sense of lawlessness in all the neighborhoods is the crisis that is killing Chicago.

She’s a corporate lawyer, not a wartime consigliere. But she wanted this job. This is her city. Do something, mayor.

To boost her politics with anti-police progressives, she demonized the Chicago Police Department that she needs to keep order. She’s overworked the cops, and woefully understaffed the department. The CPD has gone for years without a contract and now exhausted and at the breaking point. And it’s not yet July.

She plays games with statistics, suggesting violent crime is going down when it is on the increase. She shifts detectives to street patrol downtown, strips the neighborhoods of cops, puts empty squad cars along Michigan Avenue and won’t let police engage in foot chases.

Tourists might be confused. But criminals aren’t. Nor are residents.

Those empty parked squad cars with the blue flashing lights are the wretched beacons of City Hall’s scarecrow police policy.

Lightfoot’s latest word game involves her offer to find compromise in renaming Chicago’s iconic Lake Shore Drive after the city’s first non-native settler, the trader Jean Baptiste Point DuSable. The aldermen aren’t having it.

Fran Spielman, the savvy, longtime City Hall reporter for the Chicago Sun Times, and a friend, put it this way:

“Mayor Lori Lightfoot offered Tuesday to rename Chicago’s most iconic roadway Jean Baptiste Point DuSable Lake Shore Drive to avoid her first City Council defeat, possibly followed by the city’s first mayoral veto since 2006,” she reported.

Jean Baptiste Point DuSable Lake Shore Drive? Pardon me? What?

Who talks like that?

Lightfoot is not in favor of renaming the drive. But her word-salad compromise is a mouthful of mush speaking loudly to her weakness.

The political class cares. Some in the media care.

 You know who doesn’t care if Chicago politicians rename it Jean Baptiste Point DuSable Lake Shore Drive?

Anat Kimchi doesn’t care. She’s beyond caring. The 31-year-old University of Maryland graduate student was killed in a random knife attack on upper Wacker Drive in the afternoon.

Gyovanny Arzuaga, 24, and Yasmin Perez, 23, the mother of their two children, don’t much care either.

They were the couple dragged from their car after a fender bender following the Puerto Rican Day parade, beaten to the ground, and murdered in that now-viral video seen around the world.

You know who else probably doesn’t care?

Those victims in other police videos you may have seen, attacked in the Loop by Divvy Bike gangs.

What about that man who was stabbed in the neck on Michigan Avenue a few weeks ago because he didn’t give money to a homeless panhandler? Or the man shot in the neck in a carjacking on the Gold Coast the other night?

Or the family robbed at gunpoint last week on Michigan Avenue?

As I was writing this, news was breaking about another family of five women downtown, ranging in age from preteens to the elderly. They were reportedly attacked on the way to dinner and ran into a restaurant to save themselves.

The details had not been confirmed, but the general outline of it is all too familiar now.

They reportedly cowered in the restaurant for hours, too afraid to walk back to their hotel.

Does the renaming of Lake Shore Drive matter to them?

And all the good and frightened people of the most violent neighborhoods who realize that cops from their short-staffed districts are being sent downtown.

Or Xavier Quiroz, that 13-year-old boy I told you about a few weeks ago, borderline autistic, a special needs student from the Southwest Side. He was murdered two days after Christmas last year.

Xavier was a gentle boy on his way to buy a video game with his Christmas money. His family loved Chicago, but they have other young children. Now they’re voting with their feet and leaving town.

The boy wasn’t a baby gangbanger. He hadn’t been shot by police, so activists and the rest of political Chicago stepped over him to play their word games elsewhere.

The DuSable word salad compromise isn’t Lightfoot’s only word game.

She played one with me, back when I supported and defended her.

She endorsed catch-and-release Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx for re-election, the Soros-backed social justice warrior masquerading as a prosecutor.

Lightfoot’s endorsement was a final and pronounced abandonment of the people, who pay the price for Foxx.

Lightfoot should immediately put her legal skills to work, covering her behind as she makes a 180 degree turn on police and law and order that is now absolutely necessary to protect lives and the future of the city.

Other Democrats in other places are trying to do this now. For example, Stacy Abrams in Georgia has reversed her position on Voter ID laws after repeatedly likening them to Jim Crow racism.

Is it ludicrous and embarrassing? Yes. Of course. But ultimately, politics is about practicalities. People are beyond caring about word games.

For generations, the people of Chicago have been conditioned not to expect much from City Hall. They’ve been trained to shut their mouths, doff the cap, and bend the knee.

And all they expect was that their mayor would keep them and their families reasonably safe.

Now they can’t even expect that.