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Alderman goes on apology tour after leak of profane texts

Ald. James Gardiner has reached out to two aldermanic colleagues to apologize.

Ald. Jim Gardiner (45th) attends a Chicago City Council meeting at City Hall, Wednesday, July 21, 2021.
Ald. Jim Gardiner (45th) is apologizing for disparaging and misogynistic comments in text messages published by the blog The People’s Fabric.
Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times file

Ald. James Gardiner called Ald. Scott Waguespack Friday morning to apologize for referring to his chief of staff in a disparaging and misogynistic way in a private text exchange.

“He said he shouldn’t have done it and even though it happened a couple years ago he was calling to apologize to me and my chief of staff, Anne Emerson,” Waguespack (32nd) told the Chicago Sun-Times.

Gardiner refers to Emerson as Waguespack’s “b----” in an exchange with a former aide that was part of a series of profane texts made public by the anonymous blog The People’s Fabric, which bills itself as a Northwest Side political watchdog.

Gardiner’s 45th Ward includes portions of Jefferson Park and Old Irving Park.

Waguespack said Gardiner seemed sincere during the phone call.

“I was kind of surprised, I was actually not expecting too much but he was very cordial and contrite, but I really think it’s up to Anne to accept the apology,” said Waguespack, who gave Gardiner a number where he could reach Emerson.

Waguespack said Gardiner told him the words he used were “out of place for this day and age and time.”

Emerson, after a busy day, got on the phone with the Sun-Times Friday evening before heading out to celebrate her birthday.

“I received a text from (Gardiner) today asking me to call him to which I replied that I would like a face-to-face meeting and asked if he was available Sept. 14,” she said.

Emerson said she hasn’t heard back from Gardiner.

“I’m shocked and disgusted that this is a way that a community leader prefers to speak about women, and it requires more than an apology on the phone at this point,” she said.

Gardiner on Friday evening sent an email to the Sun-Times that said: “I am sorry for my comments; they do not reflect my values. I have reached out to my colleagues and others to express my sincere regrets. I respect all people and apologize to those I may have offended.”

The leaked texts were published on the blog Thursday and also included an exchange in which Gardiner referred to Ald. Tom Tunney (44th) as a “b----” and said “f--- him.”

Tunney told the Sun-Times Gardiner called him Thursday afternoon to apologize.

“I accepted it, and we’re moving on. How about talking about violence now? Name-calling is not a good thing, but I am moving on,” Tunney said Friday.

Others in the Democratic Party are not moving on, including state Rep. Kelly Cassidy, who also serves as 49th Ward Democratic committeeperson.

Cassidy has reached out to Cook County Democratic Party leadership to ask about censuring Gardiner.

“It is something I think we should contemplate,” Cassidy said Friday. “We should look into this and ask our leadership to push back on his behavior.”

Cassidy said her request, so far, is informal but she expects to make it official at some point Friday.

“The two sort of shock factors that are biggest here: treating staff that way is such a complete no-fly zone for me, that crosses a major line, but also talking about your constituents like that is mind-boggling,” she said, referring to other leaked texts in which Gardiner disparages several residents of his ward.