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Mayor Lightfoot Lost the Benefit of the Doubt

Image: PV Bella

“I think our media plays a very important role in our democracy, but you lose me, you lose me when it’s a race to the bottom and it’s all about the fight and it’s all about the conflict,” she said. “I’ve got to tell you, some of the reporting I’ve seen this week is just sickening. We all need to ask ourselves what we can do better to show our people everywhere that we have the capacity to be human beings again.” (Chicago MayorLori Lightfoot)

We try to give public officials the benefit of the doubt, hoping they will do right by us. We want to trust what they say.  We try to have confidence they have the public’s best interest at heart. Even though this is Chicago, where politics, public service, and press conferences are tall tales.

For the most part, the local news media gives officials a wide berth with the benefit of the doubt. They only pile on in disbelief when things go south. Scandals turn the news media into swarming tabloid sharks looking for blood in the water. It lasts for a while, then things return to normal, the benefit of the doubt returns.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot was skating on thin ice for the benefit of the doubt department. She finally lost that benefit this week. So did Superintendent of Police David Brown and First Deputy Superintendent Eric Carter.

During a press conference on the city budget, the mayor criticized the reportage over the events that played out after the tragic murder of Officer Ella French. She needs to be right, and she will be right, no matter how wrong she is. The press must report her correct(ed) version of events versus the facts. She also told reporters to check or be careful of their sources.

The mayor claimed the press lost her. She has it backward. She lost the press. She, like mayors before her, is trying to bully the news media. It is not going to work. She lost the benefit of the doubt of some alderpersons, who she needs to get things done.

Mayor Lightfoot lost the rank and file of the Chicago Police Department, their families, and all the people they have influence over. That is tens of thousands of voters. David Brown and Eric Carter lost the credibility that they are competent or compassionate.

Crime is rampant and out of control all over Chicago. Murder, mayhem, carjackings, robberies, and other crimes are several times a day occurrences. According to HeyJackass, which interprets hard data about crime, a person is shot every 1:56. A person is murdered every 10:44. So far this year, 2774 people were shot. Firearms killed 475.

Lightfoot and Brown sailed along on the benefit of the doubt granted by citizens and the news media. They were given a wide swath of the benefit of the doubt for too long. We ate up the excuses, gangs, guns, drug dealers. The pandemic. Root causes. Systemic somethings or other. We listened or read their well-crafted words created by PR weasels. We tried hard to believe, even though things kept getting worse.

By the way, Lightfoot claimed that Eric Carter was not a member of “Friends and family.” He worked and earned his position. This was not only a lie, it was a laughable lie. No First Deputy Superintendent of the Chicago Police Department is appointed by their resume. They all had clout. They all knew or were related to one or more powerful people. They all were part of the friends and family club.

When the lies were refuted, the mayor doubled down, covering for Carter. It only got worse. Superintendent Brown got an earful at a gathering of police officers in McCormick place. He claimed he heard their complaints, understood their anger, and did what he always does, nothing. Brown is a good listener and slick talker. Those are his only two qualities.

Chicago Police Officers are overworked, twelve-hour days with days off canceled over and over again. They are discouraged, frustrated, and stressed to the maximum. There is no morale left. The esprit de corps is broken. They only have each other. They cannot rely on their executive leadership or City Hall.

These were the bitter end to benefit the doubt for the mayor, Brown, and Carter. The cops do not believe them, and too many citizens, especially family members of violent crime victims, do not believe them.

Lori Lightfoot won 49 out of 50 wards when she ran for mayor. She lost many of those wards over her conduct this past year. If she decides to run again, her chances of winning reelection are slim.

Lightfoot’s only credible bright spot was her handling of the COVID pandemic. Unlike other big-city mayors, she made the hard decisions early, shutting the city down. She worked with the governor, partnering her health experts with his. She remained calm in the face of rising cases and deaths. When she disagreed with the governor, she did not turn it into a war of words. Her mandates kept us healthy, for the most part. If she ran the rest of the city the way she managed the pandemic, she might still have the benefit of the doubt.

Published inUncategorized