Mayor Lori Lightfoot blasted an unnamed alderman for leaking audio of a heated conversation between her and the City Council, saying Chicago leaders need to be able to speak candidly among themselves.
During the height of civil unrest in Chicago neighborhoods following the Minneapolis police killing of George Floyd, Lightfoot hosted a call with all 50 aldermen that devolved after Southwest Side Ald. Raymond Lopez complained about what he said was an inadequate response by the city to looting.
When Lopez finished his comments, Lightfoot tried to move on without answering him and Lopez insisted that she address his questions.
“I think you’re 100% full of s—, is what I think,” Lightfoot responded.
Lopez replied, “Well, f— you then.”
Asked at an unrelated news conference Wednesday whether she regrets “using such colorful language,” Lightfoot said the entirety of the conversation went for an hour and a half.
“Unfortunately one of the aldermen, and I think we know who it is, illegally taped and then shared only that portion of the conversation that served his purposes,” Lightfoot said.
She added that during “tough and difficult times, we ought to be able to have candid conversations.”
“There are a lot of incredible emotions that were shared on that call by fellow aldermen. Now all of them don’t feel secure or safe coming together with their colleagues because of one individual who decided to illegally tape a conversation that was intended to be a private conversation among all of us,” Lightfoot said. “Shame on him. Shame on him. That’s what I say.”
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The conversation, first reported by the Sun-Times then reported in greater detail by WTTW, has been making the rounds on conservative cable news, including being featured by Fox hosts Laura Ingraham and Sean Hannity.
Lightfoot did not directly accuse Lopez of leaking the audio but heavily implied that he did. Lopez did not directly deny it in text messages with the Tribune but criticized the mayor for focusing on the leak.
In text messages with the Tribune on Wednesday, Lopez replied, “True to form, the mayor has no regrets about dismissing my concerns for the people of West Englewood, Gage Park, Brighton Park (and) Back of the Yards.
“Rather than focusing on the leak, Lightfoot should focus on her shameful response to this crisis,” Lopez added. “She failed to (protect) communities and allowed policies that put Black Chicagoans in danger in Latino communities.”
Lopez has emerged in Lightfoot’s first term as her most frequent critic on the City Council.
A former skycap for Southwest Airlines armed with a mile-high contrarian streak, Lopez is a complicated figure in Chicago politics with ties to numerous political organizations. Known to some of his colleagues as “Showpez” and “Lil Burke,” Lopez is a fast talker who asks sharp questions at committee hearings, and had the best attendance of anyone on the City Council last term, according to a WBEZ and Daily Line analysis.
Critics, however, say Lopez is a publicity hound who nitpicks Lightfoot to gain attention and privately whisper that he’s in the middle of a proxy war between the mayor and Ald. Edward Burke, a Lopez ally and ward neighbor who’s largely been silenced by public corruption charges.
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