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Taylor demands apology from Lightfoot, likens mayor to schoolyard ‘bully’

“Who stands up to her? This is not the first time she did this to somebody. She does this all the time, and people let her get away with it,” Ald. Jeanette Taylor said a day after Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s finger-pointing confrontation with the alderman.

A confrontation between Mayor Lori Lightfoot and Ald. Jeanette Taylor (20th) at a Chicago City Council meeting on June 23, 2021.
Mayor Lori Lightfoot and Ald. Jeanette Taylor (20th) during Wednesday’s Chicago City Council meeting.
Ashlee Rezin Garcia/Sun-Times

Ald. Jeanette Taylor (20th) on Thursday likened Mayor Lori Lightfoot to a schoolyard “bully” and said she would stand up to the mayor by refusing to speak to her until she apologizes for “disrespecting” Taylor.

“Who stands up to her? This is not the first time she did this to somebody. She does this all the time, and people let her get away with it,” Taylor told the Sun-Times.

“It’s a ‘no.’ How many times do you keep letting a bully bully you? Clearly, this is bullying.”

Taylor drew a political line in the sand one day after a bizarre confrontation that saw Lightfoot recess Wednesday’s City Council meeting and march to the back of the Council chambers, where she had an angry confrontation with Taylor while pointing a finger in the alderman’s face.

Notoriously thin-skinned, Lightfoot could not contain her anger after Taylor joined Ald. Ray Lopez (15th) in using a parliamentary maneuver to delay Lightfoot’s appointment of Celia Meza as corporation counsel.

They did it to protest the Law Department’s treatment of Anjanette Young, the woman who was the target of a botched raid by Chicago police officers who had the wrong address.

Last week, Meza filed a motion to dismiss Young’s lawsuit against the city after Young refused to accept what her attorneys viewed as a “low-ball” offer to settle for $1 million.

The mayor’s allies also have refused to hold a hearing on an ordinance championed by Black female aldermen, one with more sweeping search warrant reforms than a general order proposed by Lightfoot and CPD Supt. David Brown.

Shortly after the heated exchange, Taylor accused the mayor of talking down to her and demanded an apology.

On Thursday, Taylor was still waiting for Lightfoot to reach out and apologize. She told the Sun-Times she has no plans to talk to the mayor — and will simply “go around her” — until Lightfoot has the decency to apologize.

“From the very beginning, I said to her, ‘I might not agree with you politically, but I will always respect you. I will go after your politics. I will never go after you.’ And for her to do that to me, she owes me an apology. She came to talk to me. It wasn’t the other way around,” Taylor said.

But Lightfoot hasn’t made the first move because “she thinks she was right,” Taylor said, and she just doesn’t get it.

“I’m gonna do my job. My job doesn’t say I have to speak to her,” Taylor said, adding that she has always been able to work with Amanda Bolton, the mayor’s Council liaison.

“I love Amanda. Me and Amanda talk all the time. We understand each other. So that’s what’s gonna happen,” Taylor said.

So she has no plans to talk to the mayor until Lightfoot apologizes?

“Clearly, I’m not. I would never have done to her what she did to me. And this is about respect. Respect goes both ways,” Taylor said.

It’s not the first time Taylor has gone toe-to-toe with Lightfoot.

They clashed for months while Taylor was demanding that Lightfoot deliver the community benefits ordinance she promised during the mayoral campaign, one that would protect Woodlawn residents fearful of being displaced by the Obama Presidential Center in Jackson Park.

The same thing happened last fall after the mayor famously warned members of the Black Caucus who dared to vote against her 2021 budget, “Don’t ask me for s--t for the next three years” when it comes to choosing projects for her $3.7 billion capital plan.

“She’s no better than Daley and Rahm. One of the first things she said was, ‘I’m not making deals with folks.’ ... Then you turn around and say that? That’s no different from what they did. You claim you’re different,” Taylor said then.

“That’s not what you do to communities that are already disinvested in. That’s like saying, ‘Kiss the ring.’ No. I’m not doing that.”

More recently, Taylor accused Lightfoot of a failed, eleventh-hour bid to reduce the threshold for Council approval of a new ward map — from 41 votes to 26 — to make it easier to redraw the wards of her most outspoken critics.

Ald. Michelle Harris (8th), Rules Committee chairwoman and the mayor’s floor leader, told her Black Caucus colleagues she was acting alone — not on behalf of the mayor — and was simply trying to protect Chicago’s 18 majority Black wards, even though there has been a precipitous loss in Black population over the last 10 years.

Taylor didn’t buy it.

“Have you ever seen her [Harris] push something on her own? ... I believe this came from the mayor. Same thing with this elected school board crap,” Taylor said.

“She’s down there pushing her own agenda without talking to us. Which is why nobody wants to work with her. Who are her friends? The [committee] chairs? I guess they gotta be her friends. Those are the only friends she’s got. Nobody else is rockin’ with Lori — for very good reason. She does not know how to be a team player. … She’s a one-woman show. She feels like she can do this by herself. But she just proved she can’t. So, good luck.”

Taylor said the remap power play “felt really personal.”

“I feel like I would be the sacrificial lamb. Me and Stephanie Coleman. We are two freshmen who give pushback and hold her accountable. They would love to write us out,” Taylor said.

“Stevie Wonder could see what’s going on. Cut out people who don’t agree with her and she’s tired of fighting with.”

The mayor’s decision to come down from the rostrum and confront an alderman with whom she disagreed stunned even her closest allies.

They privately bemoaned Lightfoot’s thin-skinned inability to tolerate dissent, rise above political opposition and turn the other cheek.

On Thursday, Harris was asked whether she would advise the mayor to apologize to Taylor for getting in the alderman’s face.

“I, Michelle Harris, work on trying to work on relationships all the time. I do it. I mean — I work hard. If I feel that I need to apologize for something, I do that. I can speak for me. I can’t speak to what the mayor should do,” Harris said.

“Ald. Taylor and the mayor should have a private conversation independent of the media and any alderman.”

Ald. George Cardenas (12th) Lightfoot’s deputy floor leader, said Wednesday’s confrontation was unfortunate.

“Going forward, folks have been talking about having more decorum in the Council. A lot of folks who have been here a long time … feel decorum is a big thing about who we are and what we represent in the eyes of the city, from a leadership standpoint,” Cardenas said.

“It’s important that we get back to that.”