One of Lightfoot’s closest City Council allies won’t back reelection bid: ‘I am sick and tired of being thrown under the bus’
Lightfoot’s decision to deny General Iron the permit it needs for its car-shredding operations in Ald. Susan Sadlowski Garza’s ward was the breaking point, but hardly the only problem. “I’m tired of being ignored,” Sadlowski Garza said.
Ald. Susan Sadlowski Garza (10th) was once one of Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s most loyal City Council supporters.
A former school counselor and area vice president for the Chicago Teachers Union who is the daughter of legendary and longtime Steelworkers Union President Edward Sadlowski, Sadlowski Garza was Lightfoot’s hand-picked chairman of the Committee on Workforce Development.
In that role, she helped Lightfoot pass a host of employee protections, including a predictable scheduling ordinance, an array of pandemic-related protections and, most recently, pay hikes and contracts for domestic workers and workers hired by airport contractors.
But Lightfoot’s decision to deny General Iron the permit it needs to open an already-built car-shredding operation in Sadlowski Garza’s Far Southeast Side ward has apparently triggered a political divorce between the two allies.
During an appearance on longtime friend Ben Joravsky’s Feb. 26 podcast, Sadlowski Garza said she’s finished with Lori Lightfoot and there is no way she will support the mayor’s reelection bid.
“I am sick and tired of being thrown under the bus and having the bus roll over my head. That’s what she’s done to me. That’s what she’s done to my ward. That’s what she’s done to the people that work here. I don’t have anything good to say,” Sadlowski Garza said.
“I’m tired of being ignored. I’m tired of not getting phone calls returned. I’m tired of letting the inmates run the asylum. Absolutely not.”
Joking that she was “on a roll,” the always outspoken Sadlowski Garza then took aim at Lightfoot’s Achilles heel: her inability to play well with others.
“I have never met anybody who has managed to p--- off every single person they come in contact with. Police, fire, teachers, aldermen, businesses, manufacturing,” Sadlowski Garza said.
“That’s it. I said it. That’s it. I don’t care. … I work my ass off seven days a week and you ask yourself, ‘What are we doing here?’”
Sadlowski Garza recounted why the permit denial looked political to her.
“I’ve been told by this administration that they were gonna ‘follow the science’ … The U.S. EPA study man, or whatever you want to call him, stood up in front of 285 people and said less than one in a million people have the chance of getting sick from this facility because of the extensive environmental controls they put on,” the alderperson said.
“Then, I get a phone call on Friday [Feb. 18] from CDPH Allison Arwady telling me they’re denying the permit and I ask, ‘On what grounds?’ … I literally said, ‘This is a political decision. I am not stupid. And I hope you can sleep at night knowing that you’re putting all of these people out of work.”
Joravsky noted Lightfoot would be furious when she hears what her former ally had to say. Sadlowski Garza was not concerned.
“I’m p---ed off, too. I’m p---ed off, too. I don’t care who’s mad at me. I don’t care. I really don’t. The people of the 10th Ward — I know what they want better than anybody that sits on the 5th floor or sits in City Hall. I’ve been here my whole life. I know what’s best for my ward. Not them,” she said.
“The people in the 10th Ward are the ones [who] elect me. And that’s who I’m worried about right now because I’ve already lost four projects that have left and gone to Indiana because of all of these rules and regulations and crazy policy things that have been put out there.”
Lightfoot’s office later Monday issued a statement articulating all of the “meaningful legislation for working families” she and Sadlowski Garza have passed together.
“There is more to do together. Alderman Garza and I will talk and work through this,” the mayor was quoted as saying.
The business owner, Reserve Management Group, has sued the city for holding up the permit process. The company seeks more than $100 million in damages.
Sadlowski Garza was asked what’s next in the long-running saga over what activists call environmental justice.
“The city gave ’em the permits to build the facility. The city gave ’em the permits to put in their electrical. The city gave ’em the permits to put in their water treatment plants and put in the plumbing. And then, they’re just like, ‘Oh, no. Sorry. You can’t operate,” she said.
“The thing that infuriates me about that is, guess who’s gonna foot the bill on that s--t? Taxpayers.”
Not happy with proposed ward map, either
Sadlowski Garza also took aim at the stalemated process led by Lightfoot’s City Council floor leader to redraw Chicago’s ward boundaries based on 2020 U.S. Census numbers.
“The map that ... I worked out with my neighbors — when I got into the map room, there was no sign of it. ... They had me going 8.5 miles west — over the expressway, over the river and into Altgeld Gardens. You’re disenfranchising 4,500 people that are 8.5 miles away from my office that have zero way to get there because there’s no bus that runs down 130th Street,” she said.
“I was told by Mike Kasper, ‘You can’t go this way. You can’t go that way. I said, ‘Why the hell am I in here then?’ It has been one of the worst experiences I have ever witnessed in my life.”