CHICAGO (CBS) — As a deadline for city of Chicago employees to report their vaccination status to City Hall draws closer, there’s no backing down in the showdown between Mayor Lori Lightfoot and the President of the union representing Chicago police officers.
The stare-down between the mayor and the Chicago Fraternal Order of Police is fueling concerns that Chicagoans’ safety might be put at risk.
CBS 2 Political Investigator Dana Kozlov reports the mayor is not budging from her deadline, ramping up what can only be described as a game of chicken between Lightfoot and Chicago FOP President John Catanzara.
“Tomorrow is the real deadline, and our expectation is that people will comply,” Lightfoot said after Thursday’s City Council meeting.
Despite threats of police officer no-shows and shortages beginning Saturday, Lightfoot is standing by the Friday night deadline for all city workers to report their vaccination status, or face the prospect of being placed on “no pay” status.
Last week, the mayor announced city workers who aren’t fully vaccinated by Friday would have the option of getting tested twice weekly for COVID-19, on their own time and at their own expense, but that option ends Dec. 31, and Lightfoot reiterated on Thursday that all city employees must be fully vaccinated by then.
“We all know it’s about control,” Catanzara said, as the mayor stood firm on Friday’s deadline, despite the head of the police union telling officers not to comply, and force superiors to send them home, leaving districts even more short-handed than they already are.
Ald. Marty Quinn (13th) and Ald. Matt O’Shea (19th) sent a joint letter to Lightfoot on Wednesday, urging her to postpone the vaccine mandate.
“I think it’s important to hit the pause button,” Quinn said.
More than 2,200 officers live in Quinn’s and O’Shea’s wards combined, and both aldermen cited public safety and the possibility of losing officers as reasons for their request.
“Are we prepared for several hundred first responders not being there answering that call this weekend?” O’Shea said.
But Ald. Anthony Beale (9th), a frequent Lightfoot critic, is ready to take another step if officers are no-shows.
“I’m gonna implore that the governor of this great state of Illinois declare a state of emergency,” he said.
Lightfoot said she’s not concerned officers won’t show, but adds there is a back-up plan she’s keeping under wraps.
“We fully expect that members will show up, and unless they’re told to go home, they need to report for duty. Now, if they don’t show up, that’s a whole different issue,” she said.
Chicago Police First Deputy Supt. Eric Carter said officers are expected to comply with the deadline, and if they don’t, they could be subject to disciplinary action, including possible “separation.”
Lightfoot said any officers who are scheduled to work over the weekend must show up for their shifts, and must comply with the vaccine reporting deadline, or will be moved to “no pay” status. However, she said that won’t happen right away, as the city will need more time to contact people who haven’t reported their vaccination status and confirm they aren’t complying with the rules.