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Alderman’s apology a ‘basic’ step after leaked texts: Lightfoot

Lightfoot said Ald. Jim Gardiner’s (45th) private apologies were a “basic” step, but said she wants him to say he’s sorry publicly.

Ald. Jim Gardiner (45th) speaks with reporters before the start of his first Chicago City Council meeting at City Hall, Wednesday, May 29, 2019.
Ald. Jim Gardiner (45th) speaks with reporters before the start of his first Chicago City Council meeting at City Hall, Wednesday, May 29, 2019.
Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times

Mayor Lori Lightfoot Monday called on Ald. Jim Gardiner (45th) to publicly apologize for a series of profane texts, which included a swear word directed at an alderman and another alderman’s chief of staff.

Some of the language in the texts “should never be used in public or private,” Lightfoot said, adding that she spoke with Gardiner and told him he had to apologize.

Gardiner’s texts with a former aide were made public last week by the anonymous blog The People’s Fabric, which describes itself as a Northwest Side political watchdog.

In one exchange, Gardiner refers to Ald. Tom Tunney (44th) as a “b----” and said “f--- him.”

In another text, Gardiner refers to Ald. Scott Waguespack’s chief of staff, Anne Emerson, as the 32nd Ward alderperson’s “b----.”

Waguespack and Tunney said Gardiner called them last week and apologized.

Emerson, who asked Gardiner for a face-to-face meeting, said she hasn’t yet heard back from the alderman.

Gardiner in an email to the Chicago Sun-Times Monday said he called to apologize to Emerson twice and after those attempts, sent a text to Emerson.

He didn’t say whether he scheduled a meeting with her.

Lightfoot on Monday said she also took issue with a text in which Gardiner potentially talked about withholding services from a constituent and said, “f--- that c---.” That constituent donated to another aldermanic candidate in 2019, according to The People’s Fabric.

The “suggestion that someone is going to be deprived of city services because of who they supported or didn’t support in an election” is “never, ever acceptable,” Lightfoot said.

Gardiner in his email to the Sun-Times maintained he’s “never withheld, nor have I ever instructed or condoned my staff to withhold city services from any resident.”

He again pointed to the statement he released Friday, saying that he’s sorry for his comments and how “they do not reflect my values.”

“I have reached out to my colleagues and others to express my sincere regrets,” Gardiner’s statement said. “I respect all people and apologize to others I may have offended.”

Lightfoot said Gardiner’s statement and private apologies were a “basic” step, but said she wants him to further acknowledge the misogynistic language he used was wrong.

“Women take way too much abuse in public, in the workplace and otherwise,” the mayor said. “I know that firsthand and it’s not acceptable, and I think he understands that. I need him to make sure that he is very public about the fact, not only that he’s apologizing, but some of the words that were used are words that should never be used in public or private.”