Showdown on Lake Shore Drive delayed due to acrimony between council, mayor comes to a head | Chicago News

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A vote to rename 17 miles of Lake Shore Drive for Jean Baptiste Point DuSable, Chicago’s first permanent non-Native settler, was delayed again Wednesday after the Chicago City Council erupted in acrimony over the choice of Mayor Lori Lightfoot to serve as the best lawyer in town.

The city council will meet again at 1 p.m. on Friday, pushing back the 48-hour showdown and bringing relations between the city council and Lightfoot to a new low.

The meeting ended abruptly after Ald. Raymond Lopez (15th arrondissement) and Ald. Jeanette Taylor (20th Ward) offered to block Celia Meza’s confirmation as the company’s attorney due to the city’s legal department’s handling of the lawsuit filed by Anjanette Young, a social worker whose home was mistakenly raided in February 2019. Forty-three times, Young told the seven officers who handcuffed her while she was naked that they were in the wrong house and begged them to let her get dressed .

Video: More analysis from Wednesday’s City Council meeting with our Spotlight Politics team.

After several aldermen pleaded with Lopez not to block the confirmation of the first Latina to serve as the city’s senior attorney, Lightfoot declared a suspension and left his seat on the podium and approached Taylor, who was elected in 2019 to represent Woodlawn after leading a hunger strike to convince town and school officials to keep Dyett High School open.

Aldus. Jeanette Taylor (20th Ward), left, speaks with Mayor Lori Lightfoot during a city council meeting Wednesday, June 23, 2021. (WTTW News)

In the back of the city council chambers, as flashes appeared and cameras zoomed in, Lightfoot and Taylor argued for several minutes, with Taylor coming to life as Lightfoot seethed in anger and frustration. The two have been at odds for the past two years, including over protections for longtime residents near the future Obama presidential center.

Taylor said she decided to block Meza’s nomination because the city refused to settle Young’s lawsuit, even after the mayor apologized to her for the way she was treated by officers and City attorneys and Chicago Police Superintendent David Brown said Young’s human rights had been violated.

“It’s about their mistreatment of Ms. Young,” Taylor said, adding that Lightfoot accused her of denying another woman of color an opportunity. “I will defend Ms. Young. She deserves to be respected.”

Meza has served as corporate counsel since December and will continue in this role until confirmed.

Young told reporters last week that she felt “disrespected” by Lightfoot after city prosecutors suggested they would ask a judge to dismiss her lawsuit rather than settle the case with a payment of $1 million.

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, Lightfoot “hasn’t felt obligated to work with us, and that’s not how it’s going to work,” Taylor said.

Taylor said she told Lightfoot “not to talk like a kid to me” and to “put your hands down” during their discussion.

“We’re colleagues and she clearly doesn’t understand that, I’m going to make her understand that,” Taylor said. “She’s the one who wants to be a one-woman show. I don’t have time for that. Chicago doesn’t have time for that.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot, left, listens to Ald.  Jeanette Taylor (20th Ward) responds to her request to allow the Chicago City Council to vote to confirm Celia Meza as the city's top lawyer at a city council meeting on Wednesday, June 23, 2021. (WTTW News)Mayor Lori Lightfoot, left, listens to Ald. Jeanette Taylor (20th Ward) responds to her request to allow the Chicago City Council to vote to confirm Celia Meza as the city’s top lawyer at a city council meeting on Wednesday, June 23, 2021. (WTTW News)

The effort to delay the vote, technically called postponement and publication, automatically sets a vote on the measure for the next city council meeting, which the city council set for 1 p.m. Friday. Lightfoot canceled his previously scheduled press conference after Wednesday’s meeting ended abruptly.

Lightfoot excoriated the aldermen who blocked a vote on confirming Meza after the meeting in a statement, and blamed them for blocking action on a host of other issues.

“A small group of aldermen have brazenly put on a show and done a disservice to their constituents, instead of raising their concerns through the proper forum,” Lightfoot said. “As a result of their cynical actions, the city council failed to pass protections and relief for our hotel employees, primarily black and brown women, who have been hardest hit by the pandemic, and our small businesses. On Friday, we look forward to continuing our work on behalf of the people of Chicago. »

The legal department’s handling of Young’s lawsuit was not brought up during Meza’s June 16 confirmation hearing held by the city council’s budget and government operations committee.

“It looks like a last-minute drive-through,” Chairman Ald said. Pat Dowell (3rd Ward) said.

But Meza faced pointed questions about whether she could represent the entire city after serving as Lightfoot’s legal adviser and senior ethics adviser in a role created by the mayor when he took office in May 2019.

After Meza’s confirmation was blocked, the City Council unanimously confirmed Acting Commissioner Annette Nance-Holt as head of the Chicago Fire Department. Nance-Holt is the first woman and the first black woman to lead the department, which has long been a stronghold for white firefighters.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot chairs a city council meeting that ended abruptly on Wednesday, June 23, 2021. (WTTW News)Mayor Lori Lightfoot chairs a city council meeting that ended abruptly on Wednesday, June 23, 2021. (WTTW News)

After the abbreviated meeting of the city council, Ald. David Moore (17th Ward) vowed to push again for a vote Friday on his efforts to change the name of Lake Shore Drive to DuSuble Drive.

However, Moore said he feared Lightfoot could block a vote on Friday when the city council returns.

“It could be ignored like all the other rules,” Moore said. “It is democracy that is being flouted at the moment.”

Moore acknowledged that the delay could give Lightfoot and other opponents of the name change additional time to try to negotiate a compromise. The proposals include a plan to rename outer Lake Shore Drive “DuSable Lake Shore Drive”, as well as a proposal to rename Millennium Park. It’s unclear whether either proposal could win a majority vote in city council.

“This board is no longer a board of orders, it’s no longer a board of rules,” Moore said. “Anything and everything is fine. I’m sad to say that you’re going to see fireworks in this city council that we shouldn’t have, that people shouldn’t have to deal with. Because I have to stand up and fight for the people whose democracy is being undermined.

Moore said Lightfoot had his “foot on the neck” of city council members and stifled dissent and debate.

Ald’s proposal. Sophia King (4th Ward) and Ald. David Moore (18th Ward) would rename the exterior of Lake Shore Drive from Hollywood Avenue in Edgewater to 67th Street in Woodlawn.

Lightfoot said a better way to honor DuSable and his wife, Kitihawa, a member of the Potawatomi tribe, would be to complete the long-delayed DuSable Park along the lake and connect it to a Riverwalk renamed in DuSable’s honor. . Three statues would mark the path, Lightfoot said.

Lightfoot said it would cost $40 million, including $10 million from Related Midwest for the long-delayed completion of DuSable Park on a 3.3-acre peninsula adjacent to two planned towers. Former Mayor Harold Washington proposed creating the park in DuSable’s honor.

Video: Our Spotlight Politics team of Heather Cherone, Amanda Vinicky and Paris Schutz takes a closer look at exactly what happened on City Council and why so many people are angry. (Produced by Alex Silets)


Contact Heather Cherone: @HeatherCherone | (773) 569-1863 | [email protected]

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