CHICAGO (CBS) — Some aldermen are still feeling the sting of Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s confrontational rebuke of City Council corruption at her inaugural address.
CBS 2 political reporter Derrick Blakley looks at whether those bruised feelings could have lasting consequences.
Lightfoot reported for duty on her first full day in office on Tuesday, but some aldermen were still burning over the most dramatic moment of her inauguration speech: condemning aldermanic privilege. Lightfoot turned and looked directly at the 50 aldermen on stage after saying the longstanding practice “breeds corruption,” and insisted ending it is in the City Council’s best interest.
“Turning and giving us all the evil eye, mean mugging us to try to make it feel like she’s trying to intimidate us, was completely uncalled for,” said Ald. Ray Lopez (15th). “She painted us all in a very broad stroke, basically calling every member of the City Council part of a corrupt operation.”
But Ald. Roderick Sawyer (6th), who chairs City Council’s Black Caucus, said he wasn’t offended.
“I don’t think it was toward me, because I don’t do the things she was alleging that some of us do,” Sawyer said.
Lightfoot stripped two senior black aldermen of important committee chairmanships: Ald. Carrie Austin (34th) lost her control of the Budget Committee, and Anthony Beale (9th) lost the Transportation Committee. Austin was offered another committee chairmanship by Lightfoot, the Contracting, Oversight and Equity Committee.
Still, Sawyer called the new mayor even-handed.
“Out of the 18 committees or so, I believe nine of them are chaired by African Americans, which was something I was most concerned about,” Sawyer said.
Lightfoot’s first hurdle is getting the 26 votes she needs to install her chosen council leaders. Feeling antagonized, Lopez is not likely to vote with her.
“I’m hopeful that she realizes the error of that kind of rhetoric,” Lopez said.
Sawyer is likely to support the new mayor, with a bit of advice.
“We are not her enemy. We want to work with the mayor’s office. We want to get things done for the city,” Sawyer said.
The council re-organization vote comes a week from Wednesday at the council’s first meeting under Lightfoot. Several aldermen, including Sawyer, said they think the mayor will have the votes she needs.