Wednesday, June 16, 2021

"In a better place now"

Mayor Lori Lightfoot says email ripping aide over lack of ‘office time’ that drew comparisons to a scene in ‘The Shining’ was ‘born out of frustration’
Gregory Pratt, Chicago Tribune 

Mayor Lori Lightfoot on Monday said a much-circulated email in which she berated an aide was “born out of frustration” and she’s now in “a better place” with her team.© Jose M. Osorio/Chicago Tribune Mayor Lori Lightfoot listens to Chicago police Superintendent David Brown during a news conference May 28, 2021.

In late January, Lightfoot sent her then-scheduler an email complaining that she doesn’t get enough of what she called “office time.” That’s typically a less structured part of the day when the mayor can

think, write or make long-term plans.

While it’s common for politicians to give staff members specific direction, it’s the way Lightfoot delivered her feedback that raised eyebrows in government and political circles. Lightfoot repeated several sentences — one 16 times — to highlight her displeasure over her schedule.

“I need office time everyday!” Lightfoot wrote 16 times in a row in the email, which the Tribune obtained via an open records request.

“Not just once a week or some days, everyday!” she wrote, 10 times.

“Breaks or transition times between meetings are not office time,” she wrote, seven times, in an email that cc’d the mayor’s then-chief of staff and a body person, a personal aide who takes care of a politician’s immediate needs, like providing a favorite snack or making sure they know who they’re about to talk with.

“If this doesn’t change immediately, I will just start unilaterally canceling things every day,” she wrote, five times.

“Have I made myself clear, finally?!” she wrote, 13 times.

The note drew criticism from political types who saw it as the mayor bullying a staffer. It also drew comparisons to a chilling scene in the 1980 movie “The Shining,” when Shelley Duvall’s character finds that her mentally deteriorating husband’s character, played by Jack Nicholson, has typed “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy” thousands of times instead of writing his manuscript.

At an unrelated news conference Monday, Lightfoot said her email was written “after a lot of conversation and born of frustration.”

“We got beyond that and solved the challenges that were at the heart of that email which was written five-plus months ago so I think we’re in a better place,” she said.

A Tribune review of Lightfoot’s official calendars shows she sent the “office time” email while she was scheduled to be in an office time period. The mayor also had a two-hour chunk of office time scheduled for later that afternoon.

The scheduler left Lightfoot’s office for another job earlier this year, part of an ongoing exodus of City Hall staffers.

At least a dozen top people have resigned or said they’re on their way out since late last year. City Hall jobs are hard even during normal circumstances, and the pressure intensified in the past year with the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, followed by bouts of civil unrest. Some of the departures are part of the natural rhythm within a mayoral term, which Lightfoot alluded to during a spring news conference.

“This has been a very tough year, I think, on a lot of people,” she said. “We’re coming up to the two-year anniversary, and I think a lot of people are taking stock of where they are.”

Current and former Lightfoot advisers, however, complain that she doesn’t take advice and can be difficult to approach. Like her predecessor, Rahm Emanuel, Lightfoot is known to be profane and hard-charging with other elected officials, once telling aldermen “don’t come to me for s---” if they voted against her budget.

She can also be tough on her staff. Last May, Lightfoot emailed her chief of staff, her deputy mayor for economic development and scheduler a photo of ripped up documents.

“Here’s my new practice for memos that come at the last minute,” Lightfoot wrote. “As I noted, I want decisions memos no later than 48 hours before the decision is needed and I have directed (staff) to reject all efforts to bring things to me directly that skirt these rules.”

“I have asked nicely, now I am done,” she added.


  1. Anonymous6/16/2021

    A few months back I read a yelp review she submitted where she tried to trick bag a limo driver hired to take her to an event at the United Center. She alleged he used her bathroom, whizzed on the toilet seat and then spun the meter by driving a longer than necessary route to the UC. She's a vindictive, petty, temperamental liar and has no place running the city (which she doesn't), her focus is not on the entire city, just her special interests. She despises our police department and picked a puppet to run it. Will there be anyone left to vote for her if she chooses to run again. Cant understand normal thinking.

    1. Anonymous6/16/2021

      This never would have happened if Joyce, Daley and McCarthy had a sit down only one of them should have run for Mayor then split the spoils contracts.

    2. Anonymous6/17/2021

      Joyce was the best of them.

  2. Anonymous6/16/2021

    Affirmative action employee and now mayor, she was a human resource managers dream come true, worth three points, black, female and queer only thing missing is a disability or veteran status. With three out of five she could be the laziest most incompetent employee and still be unfireable.

  3. Anonymous6/16/2021

    office time.aka fucking off time...even though she has the top spot, she didnt know she had to "work" and is trying to do the typical negro work thang which is hide from doing work

  4. Anonymous6/16/2021

    Biden will make Lightfoot a federal judge and rescue her from the mess she created.

  5. Anonymous6/16/2021

    If she has to rant and throw a tantrum over office time, then she doesn't have the qualities of a leader in a real time of crisis, this woman is mentally ill.

  6. Anonymous6/18/2021

    She is a Marxist tyrant