Wednesday, February 3, 2021

Ald. Michelle Harris is Mayor Lightfoot's floor leader

 You might have seen this on last night's news Ald. Gilbert Villegas (Ward 36) resigned his role for the mayor's office on the city council and will be replaced by Ald. Michelle Harris (Ward 8).

The Sun-Times writes about it:

Mayor Lori Lightfoot set the tone for a contentious relationship with aldermen from Day One.

She used her inaugural address to portray the City Council as corrupt, stripping aldermen of their “prerogative” over licensing and permitting and using her first City Council meeting to humiliate now-indicted Ald. Edward Burke (14th).

No wonder her Council floor leader didn’t even make it to mid-term.

Ald. Gilbert Villegas (36th) went public Tuesday to announce the resignation he had told the mayor about six weeks ago. He was promptly replaced by Rules Committee Chairman Michelle Harris (8th), one of the most popular Council members. Ald. George Cardenas (12th) will serve as deputy floor leader.

“Alderman Harris brings years of experience in the City Council, including a long history of working within the Council to bridge divides and craft resident-focused legislation. I look forward to working with her in this new capacity and continuing to move Chicago forward in a more equitable and inclusive way,” Lightfoot was quoted as saying in a statement.

Also noted:

The resignation came as no surprise to Villegas’ City Council colleagues.

They say Lightfoot’s thin-skinned propensity to take things personally, lash out at critics and get even would have made it virtually impossible for the best of floor leaders to function.

But, they argued further, Villegas wasn’t the best. He did not have the strong working relationships with colleagues or the open lines of communication with the mayor’s office a floor leader needs to be most effective.

“It wasn’t the best marriage in terms of a chief executive and her floor leader and the things they wanted to get done,” said Ald. Michael Scott Jr. (24th), the mayor’s hand-picked chairman of the City Council’s Education Committee.

Ald. Ray Lopez (15th), one of Lightfoot’s most outspoken City Council critics, noted Villegas had criticized the painfully slow roll-out of Lightfoot’s lead pipe replacement plan, and that several ordinances championed by the mayor have stalled under Villegas’ leadership.
“It’s hard to be a floor leader to a mayor who doesn’t listen. It’s hard to be a floor leader — or chairman, for that matter — to someone who doesn’t value your opinion as something that is beneficial to advancing an agenda,” Lopez said.

“The mayor’s leadership team on the Council are constantly sidelining each other’s ordinances on behalf of the mayor. As floor leader, you have to try to wrangle those cats. It’s a very difficult position when there’s no clear leadership coming from the fifth floor which direction you want to go.”

And then hearing about a hair trigger temper....this report is eye-opening. 

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