Chicago FOP Lodge 7 President John Catanzara, a Clearing resident, advises his union’s members not to abide by Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s vaccine mandate. --Screenshot from an FOP video
Leaders push back against vax
Aldermen, FOP chief butt heads with Lightfoot
By Tim Hadac
A week after the Lightfoot Administration announced that all city workers must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19—or face disciplinary measures—some employees pushed back.
One of the most public was 23rd Ward Ald. Silvana Tabares, who signed a letter of concern to the mayor–with five of her colleagues. In the letter, the aldermen urge Lightfoot to reconsider her order and claim the mandate is an “infringement on the personal freedoms” of city employees.
The only other Southwest Side alderman to sign the letter was 18th Ward Ald. Derrick Curtis.
When asked to expand upon her concerns, Tabares said, “I support residents having convenient access to vaccinations, which is why I fought to get a number of vaccine events here on the Southwest Side. When the mayor announced that she was going to force workers to be vaccinated without first consulting with those who represent city workers, many residents personally voiced their frustrations to me about the mayor’s tactics. Myself and my family are vaccinated because we chose to be. I signed on to the letter because I felt the mayor’s approach was divisive and counter-productive to encourage more people to be vaccinated.”
Penning a separate letter was 13th Ward Ald. Marty Quinn, along with 19th Ward Ald. Matthew O’Shea.
They asked the mayor to “pause” the vaccine mandate in the interest not of conscience and personal freedom, but of public safety.
“With the potential for many Chicago Police Department officers to not be working as of Oct. 15 because of the vaccination mandate for city workers, we are extremely concerned that our communities will be put in serious danger.
“We speak for both of our wards, which represent over 2,200 CPD police officers, that we cannot afford to lose any officers from our communities,” Quinn and O’Shea continued. “The 8th and 22nd Districts are already strained for officers and resources, and our residents should not have to experience even longer call responses. We want to be clear that this isn’t about mandates. For us, this is about public safety. We are both fully vaccinated. We work closely with healthcare providers in our communities to ensure residents can easily be vaccinated and we will continue that effort.”
Employees who failed to report their vaccination status by Oct. 15 were placed in what the mayor called “a non-disciplinary, no pay status.” If employees were fully vaccinated by Oct. 15, they will receive one personal day to use before June 30, 2022. Represented sworn employees of the Chicago Police Department will not receive the additional personal day.
City workers who were not fully vaccinated by Oct. 15, including employees who have received an approved medical or religious exemption, must undergo regular COVID-19 testing on a twice weekly basis, with tests separated by 3-4 days, Lightfoot said in a statement last week.
Employees are responsible for obtaining those tests on their own time and at their own expense and reporting those results to the City. This testing option will only be available through Dec. 31. In the new year, employees must be fully vaccinated unless they have received an approved medical or religious exemption.
“The end of this pandemic is within our reach if we continue to get vaccinated and encourage those who haven’t yet received their shots about the safety and efficacy of this lifesaving vaccine,” Lightfoot said. “It is crucial to the health and safety of every resident that we continue our equitable, targeted efforts to slow and stop the spread of COVID-19 across our city and especially within our City departments and agencies. That is why we are providing a testing option for employees until December 31 while we continue to do everything at our disposal to educate employees with true scientific data and research as well as continue our conversations with our unions and labor partners.”
While the Chicago Police Department is required to report vaccination status or be a part of the regular bi-weekly testing., Lightfoot said her administration “continues to bargain in good faith with the Fraternal Order of Police and the Policemen’s Benevolent & Protective Association to reach a fair and workable policy that will keep our first responders safe.”
Chicago FOP Lodge 7 President John Catanzara did not see it that way.
“I am telling every [FOP] member: Do not, do not fill out the [online vaccination status form] right now,” Catanzara said earlier this month, encouraging members to wait until the last minute to do so.
He chided Lightfoot for what he said was a failure to explain regulations clearly and in writing.
Catanzara also insisted FOP members have more than a religious exemption to avoid being vaccinated.
He said Lightfoot “refuses to acknowledge the conscientious objection exemption from [state law]. Regrettably, they seem to think that’s the same as a religious exemption…[but] it is not about religion. It is a conscientious, firmly-held belief—whatever that might be—about that vaccine.
“You should be entitled to that exemption too, and we’re not going to let [the Lightfoot Administration] get away with ignoring that, like it just doesn’t exist,” Catanzara told members, adding the FOP would go along with mandatory COVID-19 testing for its members, but testing would have to be no more than once a week, it would have to be a saliva test (rather than a deep nasal swab), and tests would have be conducted on the clock and at the city’s expense.
Catanzara also threatened to use FOP resources to sue the city over the matter. Lightfoot responded by saying, “Bring it.”
Close to 75 percent of Chicagoans who are currently eligible for the vaccine (about 1.7 million people) have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.
Vaccinations are widely available at pharmacies, health care offices and through special events across the city at nodirect cost to the public. No insurance or government ID is required to receive a vaccination. To learn more, visit Chicago.gov/COVIDvax or call (312) 746-4835.
A Thanksgiving surprise
The kindergarteners at St. Daniel the Prophet School had a surprise visitor earlier this month–known to them as Army National Guard Sergeant Bryan Dudycha. But one student in the class knows him as Daddy; and when she saw him, Madison leapt into his arms, gleeful over his return from deployment, just in time for Thanksgiving.…
A sweet salute to veterans
Rhine VFW Post 2729 members William Haas and Jerry Dipasquale survey some of the bags of candy, pastries and other treats given to the post earlier this month by the students of Sahs School in Central Stickney. The Sahs boys and girls also wrote personal letters and made patriotic posters expressing their thanks and appreciation…
Orland Park man wins Turkey Trot; St. Laurence runner takes women’s title
By Jeff Vorva Staff Writer The number 19 meant good things on Thanksgiving morning. The top two finishers in the 34th running of the Orland Park Turkey Trot had “19” as part of the number on their bibs. Brandon Lukas, 25, of Orland Park, wore No. 7519 and took first place with a time of…
Area Sports Roundup: Orland Park Pioneers honored; local hoops teams win Thanksgiving tourney titles
By Jeff Vorva Staff Writer Two youth football teams teams were honored by the Orland Park Village Board for winning Super Bowl championships in their respective divisions. The Orland Park Pioneers’ varsity and super lightweight players received awards and recognition Nov. 21 from the board and Mayor Keith Pekau, who has the distinction of playing…
Cook County Board approve Aguilar’s proposal for a sheriff’s helicopter
The Cook County Board of Commissioners voted overwhelmingly last week to approve Commissioner Frank J. Aguilar’s proposal to lease a helicopter to the Cook County Sheriff’s office. While Cook County is among the largest metropolitan areas in the nation, its helicopter fleet lags far behind other large urban areas. The Los Angeles metropolitan area has…
Football Class 5A State Championship: Roadrunners win shootout for fourth state title
By Jeff Vorva Staff Writer Nazareth opened the season in August with a 2-0 win over Kankakee. It closed the season the afternoon of Nov. 26 with a 45-44 win over Peoria at Memorial Stadium in Champaign to take the IHSA Class 5A state championship. In between was a rollercoaster of wins and losses and…
Ring-tailed Lemurs at Brookfield Zoo enjoy 9th annual Thanksgiving feast
The annual tradition of Brookfield Zoo’s ring-tailed lemurs receiving an early Thanksgiving feast took place today, November 23. Now, in its ninth year, the animal care staff prepared the meal for the primates that featured all the trimmings laid out on a fall-themed table setting. This year, the menu for the lemurs—15-year-old Moses and 12-year-old…
Strong second half lifts Mount Carmel over St. Rita for trip to 7A title game
By Steve Millar Correspondent After the Mount Carmel offense was shut out in the first half by St. Rita in the teams’ IHSA Class 7A semifinal, Caravan coach Jordan Lynch remained confident his offense would get going on a cold, windy night. “It was just a matter of time,” Lynch said. “Penalties were killing us,…
Contempt citations against DCFS director reversed by appellate court
By BETH HUNDSDORFER Capitol News Illinois [email protected] An appellate court on Wednesday reversed several contempt of court citations that were filed in recent months against Department of Children and Family Services Director Marc Smith for failing to comply with court orders to place state wards in appropriate settings. The court found that Smith did not…
State lawmakers pass measure limiting state investment in Russian assets
By PETER HANCOCK Capitol News Illinois [email protected] SPRINGFIELD – The Illinois House gave final passage Wednesday to a bill aimed at prohibiting state investment in assets tied to Russia and Belarus in retaliation for their participation in the war in Ukraine. House Bill 1293, by Rep. Lindsey LaPointe, D-Chicago, urges the state’s five retirement systems…
Changes to cash bail statute surface before Thursday’s planned adjournment
By JERRY NOWICKI Capitol News Illinois [email protected] SPRINGFIELD – Two days before lawmakers were scheduled to adjourn for the year, one of the lead negotiators of the SAFE-T Act criminal justice reform filed a long-awaited amendment detailing several changes to the landmark cash bail overhaul. Sen. Robert Peters, D-Chicago, filed a 308-page amendment to House…
CAPITOL RECAP: State announces deal to pay down remaining unemployment debt
By CAPITOL NEWS ILLINOIS SPRINGFIELD – Lawmakers on Tuesday announced a bipartisan plan to use state revenues to pay down the remaining $1.4 billion in debt taken on by the state’s Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The unemployment trust fund is generally funded by the state’s businesses through insurance premiums collected via…
Lawmakers announce bipartisan plan to pay down remaining unemployment debt
By JERRY NOWICKI Capitol News Illinois [email protected] SPRINGFIELD – Lawmakers on Tuesday announced a bipartisan plan to use state revenues to pay down the remaining $1.4 billion in debt taken on by the state’s Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Part of the agreement is expected to move through the General Assembly this…
Flagpole removed from Old State Capitol
By PETER HANCOCK Capitol News Illinois [email protected] SPRINGFIELD – People walking through downtown Springfield on Monday morning looked up to an unusual sight – a helicopter hovering over the Old State Capitol, dropping a rope and lifting away the flagpole that sat atop the bronze-colored dome. “We took off the flagpole of at the Old…
Welch, poised for another term as speaker, reflects on growing House majority
By PETER HANCOCK Capitol News Illinois [email protected] SPRINGFIELD – Illinois House Speaker Emanuel “Chris” Welch, who recently announced he has the support for another term as House speaker, says he looks forward to governing with an even larger supermajority than he had during his first two years. “Expanding our caucus was definitely a priority of…
Curran eyes ‘balance’ as he prepares to lead Illinois Senate’s GOP minority
By JERRY NOWICKI Capitol News Illinois [email protected] SPRINGFIELD – Senate Minority Leader-elect John Curran will take over a caucus that’s more than doubled in size by the majority-party Democrats. His goal: “Bring balance to state government.” “Because we’re going to produce better results with that balance for working families throughout all Illinois communities,” Curran said…
CAPITOL RECAP: Statehouse Republicans choose new leadership
By CAPITOL NEWS ILLINOIS SPRINGFIELD – Republicans chose new leadership for their caucuses in the Illinois General Assembly on Tuesday night, Nov. 15, while the two Democratic leaders have each announced they have the votes to maintain their positions. House Republicans elected Tony McCombie of Savanna and Senate Republicans chose John Curran of Downers Grove.…
With three session days left, SAFE-T Act changes could be forthcoming, ‘technical’ in nature
By JERRY NOWICKI Capitol News Illinois [email protected] SPRINGFIELD – Changes may yet come to the SAFE-T Act criminal justice reform before its Jan. 1 effective date, but some of its major proponents in the General Assembly said the results of the Nov. 8 general election have signified that the ship has sailed drastic amendments to…