Chicago aldermen on Tuesday hit Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump where it hurts — in his formidable ego — for using a spike in homicides and shootings to paint a “distorted caricature” of the city.
The City Council’s Transportation Committee unanimously agreed to strip Trump of a recognition he covets: “Trump Plaza,” the honorary designation for the east side of Wabash Avenue between Illinois Street and the Chicago River, outside the 96-story Trump International Hotel & Tower.
“We can actually use his own words against him: ‘When you hit us, we hit back,’ ” said Transportation Committee Chairman Anthony Beale (9th).
“You’ve hit Chicago numerous times. . . . When you hit Chicago, Chicago hits back.”
Prior to the final vote, Ald. Walter Burnett (27th) asked whether there was any way to punish Trump more severely — by taking down the massive “TRUMP” sign that Mayor Rahm Emanuel and downtown Ald. Brendan Reilly (42nd) considered so garish and tasteless they moved to rein in future signs along the river.
Reilly, who spearheaded the lesser punishment, told Burnett he would like nothing more than to resurrect that high-profile sign battle. But it would unfortunately be a futile effort.
“The signage entitlement for that big sign was negotiated before I was even elected. The city was stuck with what we’ve got. We understand Mr. Trump is a pretty litigious guy. And the Law Department was fairly certain that, if he sued, he would likely win. So we’re stuck with that sign,” Reilly said.
But Reilly urged Trump Tower tenants to do what some of their counterparts at Trump-branded buildings across the country are doing: pressure Trump to remove the “ugly” sign.
“I’d love to see it. . . . I hear that’s a trend across America. I can’t blame those folks for wanting to do it. And I’d support that effort. It’s a brand that now stands for dividing our country and using dangerous and hurtful rhetoric to separate what makes this city and this country so great,” Reilly said.
“Having to look at that, as anyone who is on our river architecture tour or traveling on Michigan Avenue [must], is simply a reminder to the people of Chicago that this is someone who doesn’t respect our city and doesn’t recognize the incredible gains that we’re making.”
As for the honorary street designation, one of the Trump Plaza signs already has been stolen. So only one more needs to be removed. That will be done post-haste, if the full City Council approves the punishment, thanks to a so-called “pending passage” letter that Beale promised to sign.
Reilly said Trump no longer deserves the honor after making political hay at Chicago’s expense in a way that has damaged the city’s reputation on the global stage.
Trump’s decision to portray Chicago as a “war zone” that needs stop-and-frisk during the first presidential debate was the final straw.
“He was comparing us to a war-torn, third-world country. That was a set of comments that didn’t just insult me. It insulted anyone who loves this great city,” Reilly said.
“Just as damaging has been Mr. Trump’s campaign rhetoric about all the great people who make up Chicago. Whether you’re a woman, an immigrant, a Latino, an African-American or someone who is disadvantaged, he’s had you in his crosshairs. For that reason, it is absolutely appropriate for us to pause a few moments from our otherwise very busy schedule . . . to remove this honor that Mr. Trump has proven he does not deserve.”
Ald. Millie Santiago (31st) commended Reilly and Ald. Proco Joe Moreno (1st) for “taking the lead.” When approached about the idea, her response was, “Where do I sign?”
“Trump doesn’t deserve any respect on the particular idea of glorifying his name. He is, to me, a national disgrace,” Santiago said.
In December 2010, Trump contributed $50,000 to Mayor Rahm Emanuel and $5,000 to Reilly.
That was two years after the opening of Trump Tower with the vanity sign touting the Trump brand.
On Tuesday, Reilly was asked about the hypocrisy of accepting Trump’s money, only to bite the hand that feeds him.
He promised, once again, to send the money to back.
“I will be doing that on Nov. 9, the day after the election — so Mr. Trump can’t spend it,” Reilly said.