Mayor Lori Lightfoot talks to reporters after she and Amy Eshleman voted on Thursday.
Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times
Nearly four years ago, Mayor Lori Lightfoot used money from her political action committee to call out City Council members who dared to vote against her first budget. 
On Thursday, she did her political shaming before the fact — four days before Monday’s final Council vote on her $16.4 billion 2023 budget. 
During a live interview on WGN-AM (720), Lightfoot called out alderpersons, including two members of her leadership team, for trying to have it both ways. 
The mayor never mentioned Ald. Brian Hopkins (2nd), Brendan Reilly (42nd) and Ald. Matt O’Shea (19th) by name. 
But she talked about “downtown aldermen” and specifically named the 2nd and 19th Wards while demanding that, if they claim to be “pro-cop,” they must support a budget that includes “a lot of additional supports to strengthen the effectiveness of law enforcement.”
“Hiring more police officers. Hiring more detectives. Making sure they’ve got the best quality training possible. … Shoring up their pensions. There’s a lot of good things in this budget that need to be supported,” she said. 
“People of good will need to stand up and say to these aldermen, ‘You can’t play it both ways. You can’t say I’m pro-law enforcement. I’m pro-public safety’ and not support the budget and the revenues.”
Lightfoot was asked who specifically she was referring to.
“There’s a lot of `em. There’s the alderman of the 19th Ward. There’s aldermen downtown. The 2nd Ward. There’s a number of them who say, ‘I’m pro-law enforcement. I’m pro-police,’ but don’t support the budget,” she said.
Hopkins said for Lightfoot to “go on the offensive and attack me” when he hasn’t decided how he’s going to vote on budget is “further evidence of how bad she is at building a coalition and how her leadership skills are just lacking.”
He added: “She doesn’t understand what it takes to bring divergent interests together to try to forge a compromise. She’s really bad at this job.”

“She tells us that we should just trust her budget because it’s going to do the things we feel the city needs. [But], look around you. Is anything better than it was three-and-a-half years ago when she took office? Has she improved anything? Has she accomplished anything? Everything is worse. Everything she touches turns bad. She’s a failed mayor.”

If he decides to vote against the budget, Hopkins said it will be because the $64 million increase Lightfoot has proposed for the Chicago Police Department — for a total budget of $1.94 billion — includes 35 more civilian jobs, but no increase in rank-and-file police officers.
“We need more sworn. I’ve been saying that for two years now. Look at the response times to 911 calls citywide. … It’s because we don’t have enough sworn police officers. And it’s a crisis,” he said.
O’Shea said it is “utter nonsense” for Lightfoot to claim his opposition to the mayor’s budget means he is “not a supporter of the Chicago Police Department.” 
But “I cannot vote for a budget that, once again, fails to address our police hiring crisis. Violent crime is running rampant throughout our city. We desperately need more officers on the street. It’s that simple,” he said.

“I don’t think we’re doing enough to try to hire more police officers. I don’t think we’re doing enough to try to retain the police officers that we have because twice as many are walking out the door as we are hiring.”

Six months ago, O’Shea proposed hiring and retention incentives — including signing bonuses, down-payment and mortgage loan assistance — to stop the mass exodus of police officers that triggered 949 retirements through Sept. 30 of this year alone.
The ordinance is going nowhere.
“To just be told, ‘Oh, we can’t do that’ while crime continues to spiral — I can’t accept that,” O’Shea said. 
Reilly is president pro tem of the Council, presiding in the mayor’s absence. He called it “laughable” for Lightfoot to suggest he, Hopkins and O’Shea are “somehow ‘anti-police’ because we happen to see major flaws” in her budget.
“It invests in programs failing to show a return on investment. It lavishes money on departments to give bureaucrats significant pay raises. … It does not adequately address the need to attract and retain police officers through the bonuses and housing assistance programs that we have been advocating for all year. I could go on and on — but the list of deficiencies in this budget is a long one.”


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