Lightfoot accused of ‘going her own way’ on issues pivotal to progressive voters

Ald. Maria Hadden (49th) cites four examples where Lightfoot has failed to deliver for progressives with potential to undermine the mayor’s chances for reelection.

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49th Ward aldermanic candidate Maria Hadden met with the Sun-Times Editorial Board Monday, January 14, 2019.

Ald. Maria Hadden (49th)

Rich Hein/Sun-Times file

Mayor Lori Lightfoot was accused Friday of “going her own way” or “putting up roadblocks” on four issues pivotal to progressive voters — civilian police review, search warrant reform, police spending and an elected school board.

Ald. Maria Hadden (49th) is the prime mover behind a more sweeping search warrant reform ordinance embraced by Anjanette Young, the innocent woman forced to stand naked, crying and pleading while an all-male team of Chicago Police officers raided the wrong home.

On Friday, Hadden vowed to “forge ahead” with her own ordinance, arguing that it is stronger in “17 different ways” than the reforms outlined by executive order by Lightfoot and Police Supt. David Brown.

“We need to come up with our own solutions. We need to do it with the community. We need to win back the trust that all of Chicago government has lost over many decades,” Hadden said.

“Working through a legislative process — this is not leaving the accountability or the value or the perception of a policy change up to one person.”

Hadden noted that Lightfoot has been under fire for her changing story about what she knew and when she knew it about the botched raid on Young’s home.

The mayor initially said she knew nothing about the raid until Channel 2 aired the shocking bodycam video in December. But her own internal emails revealed that she was informed of a “very bad” raid on Young’s home in November 2019 and that Lightfoot was so alarmed by that warning, she asked for a meeting with her top aides to discuss it that same day.

“The mayor has lost some credibility on this issue. So, why would people trust her executive order?” the alderman said.

What troubles Hadden most is that the search warrant reforms are part of a pattern for Lightfoot.

She is also “going her own way” on civilian police oversight by postponing a showdown vote to buy time to introduce a substitute ordinance that would empower the mayor to break disputes whenever she and the commission disagree on proposed changes to police policy.

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Lightfoot has also objected to empowering the civilian board to take an advisory vote of no-confidence in the police superintendent that would trigger the superintendent’s firing if it’s followed by a two-thirds vote by the City Council.

“The responsibility lies squarely in the lap of the mayor on this. … We’ve got two fantastic ordinances that have been on the table since before I came into office. The mayor worked directly [to help develop] with one of those. She’s had plenty of time. … We can’t afford to wait any longer,” the alderman said.

The elected school board is yet another example. Lightfoot campaigned as a staunch proponent of an elected school board, only to repeatedly block what she calls an “unwieldy” bill that would triple the size of the board. 

Last month, she fueled speculation about whether she will ever deliver on that pivotal campaign promise by telling the New York Times that CPS would “never have opened without mayoral control.”

“There’s no dancing around this one. She’s absolutely wrong on this. … We need elected representation to take the very unique brand of mayoral politics out of how our schools are run. It is not working for us,” Hadden said.

“I don’t know why she’s gone back on her promise. I don’t know why she’s putting up roadblocks. But I know that residents of the 49th Ward are absolutely tired of it.”

Finally, there is the issue of police spending and police reform as evidenced by the Chicago Police Department’s slow compliance with a federal consent decree and by Lightfoot’s recent decision to spend $281.5 million of federal stimulus money on police payroll and benefits.

Asked to assess Lightfoot’s reelection chances, Hadden would only say that residents of her Far North Side ward are “not very pleased with the mayor’s performance so far.”

“The lack of police reform, civilian accountability, consent decree. Chicago is one of the only major cities to not make movement on really changing our budgetary structure around how we fund police in comparison to other things. Some of them were very displeased with my vote on the budget,” she said.

“I’m committed to making sure we’re really shifting our focus and our funds and listening to the community. I hope the mayor will do the same.”

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