Good afternoon. Here’s the latest news you need to know in Chicago. It’s about a 5-minute read that will brief you on today’s biggest stories.
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Fraternal Order of Police President John Catanzara says Mayor Lori Lightfoot and her top aides are calling the shots at the Chicago Police Department, tying the hands of Supt. David Brown and turning him into kind of a figurehead.
“Whatever he wants to do is getting cleared through her office first or it’s not getting done. What authority does he really have? His hands are tied,” Catanzara said. “She should stay the hell out of running the police department and let Supt. Brown run it. If he falls on his face, let him fall on his own face.”
The mayor’s office fired back that “once again, John Catanzara continues to speak without knowledge of the facts.”
“These remarks are not only racist and blatantly disrespectful to his own boss and fellow officers but also completely irresponsible. We refuse to be a part of a race to the bottom,” said Pat Mullane, a spokesman for the mayor.
The latest salvos between the fiery FOP president and the mayor this week demonstrate the increasing hostility between them over the city budget and negotiations for a new police contract.
In an interview, Catanzara also had a warning for the 29 Chicago aldermen who voted last week to pass Lightfoot’s $12.8 billion budget, which eliminates 614 police vacancies and includes only $100 million of the more than $300 million needed to cover retroactive pay raises for officers whose contract expired in 2017: “Those 29 aldermen who voted for that budget, there isn’t a damn one of them that’s going to be safe from the 2023 election,” he said.
Brown is the retired Dallas police chief who took over the police department April 22 with the “moonshot” goal of holding the annual murder total under 300 for the first time in 60 years. Instead, it is Chicago’s most violent year in decades, with 716 killings through Nov. 30. Killings are up 55% from the same period last year, while arrests have plummeted.
After being caught flat-footed by civil unrest and rounds of looting that damaged giant swaths of downtown, River North, Wicker Park and commercial corridors on the South and West sides, Brown shifted police officers from districts to downtown to prevent more damage there. Catanzara says Lightfoot called the shots on those and other moves.
The union president pointed to the decision to “force out” Barbara West as head of constitutional policing and replace her with Bob Boik, a civilian initially chosen by City Hall to serve as Brown’s chief of staff. Another example was the transfer of Shakespeare District Cmdr. Mel Roman to an intelligence unit, the Crime Information and Prevention Center.
According to Catanzara, Roman was “punished” after complaining about the large number of officers assigned to protect Lightfoot’s Logan Square home and refusing to make mass arrests of protesters there. Lightfoot has said the police presence was justified by “specific threats” made “every single day” to “my person, my wife and my home.”
More news you need
- Illinois public health officials attributed an additional 238 deaths to the coronavirus today, the highest daily number of viral fatalities reported by the state throughout nine months of the pandemic. That figure shatters the previous high of 191 deaths on May 13.
- A close confidant of House Speaker Michael Madigan and three others pleaded not guilty in federal court today,two weeks after a grand jury accused them of a long-running bribery schemedesigned to curry favor with the powerful Southwest Side Democrat.The defendants appeared by video before a U.S. District judge.
- A Chicago law firm accused “Real Housewives of Beverly Hills” star Erika Jayne and her husband of a scheme to embezzle money from settlements related to a plane crash in a federal lawsuit today. The lawsuit alleges that Thomas Girardi embezzled the money to “project a public image of obscene wealth at all times, and at whatever the cost.”
- A man allegedly stabbed six people, possibly in self-defense, while several of his girlfriend’s friends and relatives hit and kicked him last night in suburban Carol Stream. Those six people with stab wounds were taken to hospitals with injuries that were not life-threatening, police said.
- Former Bulls All-Star Jimmy Butler has been romantically linked to pop star Selena Gomez in entertainment reports, citing a source close to the singer. Butler’s dating life hasn’t made headlines since his public feud with former teammate Dwyane Wade over an Instagram flirtation with Wade’s wife.
A bright one
Tears started flowing Saturday even before their brother’s name was called to come up and receive the cap of a new cardinal — the tear ducts opening right about when Archbishop Antoine Kambanda of Kigali, Rwanda, was called up — just before Archbishop Wilton Gregory.
Gregory’s sisters, Elaine Gregory Swenson and Claudia Ferguson, felt the same pride for the very first cardinal appointed to that tiny African nation — whose family was slaughtered in the Rwandan genocide — as they felt toward their own brother’s historic elevation.
“My sister and I were both crying,” said Swenson, 70, who has called California home since graduating Loyola University with her nursing degree, leaving Chicago shortly after Gregory was ordained as an Archdiocese of Chicago priest in 1973, under Cardinal John Cody.
“We started crying when the Rwandan came up. That’s our motherland. He went first, then ‘Butch,’ and I just knew that my grandmother, my aunt, my mother and father and Monsignor Hayes and Father Weber — all of those loving souls who had crossed over, were there in St. Peter’s Basilica with him, saying, ‘Amen.’”
“Butch” would be Gregory, archbishop of Washington, D.C., the brilliant kid from Englewood who rose through the ranks to become the first African American to serve on the College of Cardinals, the highest governing body of the global Catholic church.
“It’s sad we couldn’t be there with him at the Vatican because of the pandemic,“ Swenson said. “But we were there in soul, and in thought and prayer, and he knew we were watching.”
From the press box
The highly touted Illinois men’s basketball team gets a chance to impress on the national stage against second-ranked Baylor tonight in theJimmy V Classic doubleheader (9 p.m. CT, ESPN).In a season full of uncertainty, the promising Fighting Illini will need to seize every opportunity to show they’re the real deal, Steve Greenberg writes.
And NFL commissioner Roger Goodell defended the league’s decisions to postpone Ravens-Steelers this evening while forcing the Broncos to take on the Saints last Sunday without a true quarterback. He also dismissed the idea of putting playoff teams in a “bubble” akin to what the NBA used earlier this year.
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