The Rundown: What Lightfoot says in her text messages

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot gives at a press conference on Thursday, Feb. 4, 2021. Manuel Martinez / WBEZ
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot gives at a press conference on Thursday, Feb. 4, 2021. Manuel Martinez / WBEZ

The Rundown: What Lightfoot says in her text messages

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1. Lightfoot’s text messages offer an, uh, unvarnished look into city politics

“Jackass,” “dumb, dumb person of color” and “full of crap” are just some of the ways Mayor Lori Lightfoot described members of the City Council in a trove of text messages obtained by the Chicago Tribune.

The messages, covering a period of more than two years, “further reveals the extent to which the mayor — who campaigned as a reformer aiming to unite the city — at times resorts to name-calling and shaming of her perceived enemies as she governs the city,” the Trib reports.

Among the issues raised in the messages with council members are crime, the civil unrest following George Floyd’s murder, the removal of a Christopher Columbus statue in Grant Park and the political fight over a vaccine mandate for all city employees.

Lightfoot texted that opposition to the mandate was largely about John Catanzara, the president of Chicago’s Fraternal Order of Police.

“That racist SOB, trying to prove that he has more power than the black mayor and the black supt,” Lightfoot said. [Chicago Tribune]

2. Illinois lawmaker shelves vaccine legislation after receiving violent threats

A proposal aimed at boosting COVID-19 vaccination rates was tabled this week after Illinois state Rep. Jonathan Carroll said threats were made against him, his family, his staff and even the synagogue he attends, reports the Chicago Sun-Times.

The plan would have required the unvaccinated to pay for their own health expenses if they contracted COVID-19.

Carroll, a Democrat representing part of suburban Cook County, told the newspaper someone even published his home address on Twitter. He said he has reported the threats to the Illinois State Police.

“This is ridiculous,” Carroll told the Sun-Times. “We just can’t have a reasonable conversation anymore, we can’t have conversations with people about these things. I’ve heard from reasonable people that do disagree with my bill — and I appreciate them being reasonable and I appreciate them making their point — but if you want to just go the route of calling people names, and calling people like racial slurs, and threatening them and things like that, it’s impossible to have conversations at that point.” [Sun-Times]

3. Supreme Court allows a lawsuit against a Texas abortion law to move forward

But the nation’s high court declined to temporarily block the law as legal challenges proceed in courts, offering only a partial victory to supporters of abortion rights.

The Texas law bans most abortions after about six weeks of pregnancy, and it empowers private citizens, not government officials, to sue anyone who aids a prohibited procedure, from doctors to rideshare drivers.

The law’s unusual structure raised questions over whether Texas abortion providers could sue state officials in federal court. An answer came today when the Supreme Court said yes, a legal challenge from providers can move forward.

The Justice Department also filed its own challenge to the law, arguing “it had the right to enforce federal constitutional rights, including the right to an abortion upheld by the Supreme Court for nearly a half century,” writes NPR’s Nina Totenberg. But the court disagreed. [NPR]

4. Inflation jumped to its highest level in nearly 40 years

Consumer prices rose by 6.8% in the year through November, the fastest pace since 1982, according to federal data released today.

The highest level of inflation in a generation comes amid severe supply chain disruptions from the pandemic and increased consumer spending. And the problem could persist.

Some economists are concerned Americans will just get used to paying more. And rental prices have surged, potentially keeping overall prices high because they can take longer to fall. [NPR]

Persistent inflation could derail President Joe Biden’s agenda.

A poll published this week from NPR and Marist found the top economic concern among those surveyed was rising prices, and they were largely unconvinced the problem will be solved through the infrastructure bill and Biden’s effort to bolster the social safety net. [NPR]

5. Mold, yeast and bacteria found in legal weed in Illinois

Contaminants exceeding state safety standards were found in some legalized marijuana products sold at dispensaries, according to an investigation from the Chicago Sun-Times.

The newspaper “commissioned an independent, state-registered laboratory to test a sampling of one of the most popular recreational marijuana products — pre-rolled joints.” In two of the samples tested, the potency of the weed was far less than advertised.

It’s not clear who’s responsible for the problem. Cultivators say they’re not to blame because their products are tested soon after they’re harvested. But the Sun-Times reports state regulators largely rely on private tests paid by cultivators. [Sun-Times]

Here’s what else is happening

  • Chicago’s top cop says there will be an increased police presence in the downtown area after two children were shot last weekend. [Chicago Sun-Times]
  • Outdoor dining at restaurants and bars in Chicago could be extended for another year. [Chicago Sun-Times]
  • Chicago’s Garfield Park Conservatory is now serving food and drinks. [Block Club Chicago]
  • This week’s Curious City looks at why there are no federally recognized Native American lands in Illinois. [WBEZ]

Oh, and one more thing …

I don’t even know where to begin with this one. For context: I’m 39 years old, can’t remember the last time I set foot in a club and not the leader of a European nation.

Finland’s Prime Minister Sanna Marin, 36, apologized this week for going to a nightclub on Saturday night, a day after she came into close contact with someone who tested positive for the coronavirus.

Marin, who is fully vaccinated, was reportedly seen out clubbing until 4 a.m. She said she left her work phone home and missed a message telling her to avoid social contact.

While Finland’s COVID-19 guidelines say fully vaccinated people do not need to isolate themselves after potentially being exposed, separate rules for government officials and employees say they have to limit contact. [BBC]

Tell me something good …

What’s your favorite holiday tradition? Is there a place in Chicago you always hit up? Do you and your family or friends do anything fun together?

Cassandra writes:

“My favorite Chicago holiday tradition is that my husband and I go to Union Station to look at the Grand Hall’s decorations. We got engaged there in the middle of the night a few days before Christmas in 2018, and we have gone back to the same spot on that date since. We are excited to continue revisiting that spot, since we know it’s a landmark that will be there for the rest of our lives.”

Thanks for all the messages this week. I’m sorry I couldn’t share them all, but it was nice hearing from y’all.

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