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A legend in his own mind

CDC artist depiction of COVID-19

I was a Chicago Police Officer for almost thirty years. The Chicago Police Department signed its first union contract in the early 1980s. I knew nearly every Fraternal Order of Police President, from John Dineen to Dean Angelo Sr. Each was a well-spoken polished gentleman.

The immediate past union president was a well-spoken bully in a cheap suit. The current president, John Catanzara, is an ignorant guttural base snipe. Both despise Mayor Lori Lightfoot and let it be known publicly every chance they could.

I do not understand Catanzara’s anti-vaccine stance. He is directing Chicago Police officers not to report their vaccine status to the city today, Today is the deadline for the city’s mandate that all employees be vaccinated and prove it. He is going to war over a public health crisis. Catanzara is not only misleading the members of his union, he is lying to them.

The courts have upheld vaccine mandates for over a century. There is no HIPPA violation in the city mandating officers prove their vaccination status in order to work. Governments on all levels have a great deal of latitude to impose mandates during public crises, including public health crises. COVID-19 is still considered a public health crisis. The city has a responsibility to keep its employees and the citizens safe. So do the unions.

Over 500 police officers nationwide died of COVID-19. Chicago Police officers died of the disease. Dean Angelo Sr. recently died of the disease. Flu season started and COVID-19 cases could start rising dramatically again.

During a public health crisis, mandates are not bargainable working conditions. Instead of making the health and welfare of his members his highest priority, Catanzara would instead pick another fight with Mayor Lightfoot, putting his members in jeopardy.

Catanzara’s only priority is to battle Lightfoot tooth and nail over inconsequential issues like his immediate predecessor. His distaste for the mayor is palpable. His no holds barred style is embarrassing. He is more of a street thug than a polished leader. He is now going to waste the union’s money in a legal fight he may welll lose.

For over a century, courts, including the SCOTUS, upheld vaccination mandates. There is no law against people providing proof of vaccination. It does not violate HIPPA. The city is not violating rights or limiting freedoms. 

The city has the ultimate responsibility to ensure public health. It has a responsibility to protect employees and the citizens. Police officers have a responsibility to protect each other and the citizens, not to infect them.

How can citizens trust the police to protect them if they will not protect themselves or the public from a disease that killed so many and left others catastrophically damaged? If citizens cannot trust the police on a simple thing like this, how can they trust them at all?

What do we have to do? Call 911, and demand they only send officers who will provide proof of vaccination? This is what it may come to. The citizens of this city should be outraged at Catanzara. But there is no outrage in Chicago. Look at the citizens meekly tolerating the daily murder and mayhem on our streets.

John Catanzara does not care about the health and welfare of his members. He does not care about their rights, freedoms, or lack thereof. Catanzara does not care about the union contract. 

John Catanzara only cares about one thing, and one thing only, battling Mayor Lightfoot while pretending to be a tough guy. That is what cowardly bullies do.

John Catanzara is a legend in his own mind.

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