Chicago’s director of operations and the streets and sanitation commissioner leave City Hall, further compounding the extraordinary mid-term turnover in Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s cabinet.
The resignation of Anne Sheahan, Chief Operating Officer, takes effect at the end of the week. Streets and Sanitation Commissioner John Tully intends to retire in June.
Purchasing manager Shannon Andrews left in April to join the county health system. The mayor’s press secretary, Jordan Troy, also signed.
Sheahan, Tully and Andrews are remnants of the administration of former Mayor Rahm Emanuel.
Just like the commissioner for water management, Randy Conner, who resigned at the end of December; Family and Support Services Commissioner Lisa Morrison Butler, who resigned in February; and Sydney Roberts, head of the Police Civil Accountability Office, who was kicked out last week after Lightfoot publicly ridiculed COPA’s slow investigation.
Chicago Public Schools CEO Janice Jackson, another Emanuel member, announced on May 3 that she would not be renewing her $ 300,000-per-year contract. She is leaving CPS, along with her two main assistants.
Deputy Mayor for Public Safety Susan Lee lasted just 16 months and was replaced last week by former Lightfoot Police Board colleague John O’Malley.
Chief Risk Officer Tamika Puckett also stayed for just 16 months before stepping down from this newly created position to become Head of Cyber Risk Management at Zoom.
Security chief Jim Smith, a retired U.S. Deputy Marshal whose appointment as head of Lightfoot’s bodyguard angered Chicago cops, hasn’t even come close to mid-term. Chief internal labor negotiator Mike Frisch, deputy director of communications Lauren Huffman, deputy press secretary Pat Mullane and director of engagement Juan Carlos Linares don’t have it either.
Company attorney Mark Flessner, a longtime friend of Lightfoot and a former colleague in the US attorney’s office, has resigned following the fallout from the botched police raid on the home of social worker Anjanette Young.
Lightfoot claimed she was unaware of Flessner’s attempts to stop WBBM-TV (Channel 2) from showing bodycam video of the raid
Sources said Lightfoot’s chief of staff Maurice Classen told his associates he may also be preparing to leave town hall. Lightfoot is already in its third communications director and its third press secretary.
She is also still looking for a new Fire Marshal. Veteran boss Richard C. Ford II had to leave in April after reaching the mandatory retirement age of 63.
And Michael Fassnacht, marketing director of Lightfoot at $ 1 a year, still holds the fort of World Business Chicago.
Andrea Zopp, yet another legacy of Emanuel, resigned in December from World Business, a public-private job creation agency that will play a major role in rebuilding a Chicago economy decimated by the pandemic and two series looting.
With all of these changes and more, it’s no wonder Lightfoot was somewhat on the defensive last week when asked about the revolving door of City Hall.
The mayor acknowledged that it was a “difficult year” and that “a lot of people take stock of their situation” as she nears half of her term on May 20.
“I feel very comfortable in our situation as a city, as mayor. We have great people who work every day to serve the people of this great city, ”she said.
Ald. Roderick Sawyer (6th), chairman of the city council’s health and human relations committee, said he had no idea there was “an undercurrent to the mass exodus”.
It “could be a mid-season fix.” he said. After a short transition linked to the mayor’s second round prompted her to retain much of Emanuel’s cabinet, Lightfoot can also move to choose his own people.
But Sawyer said he couldn’t help but wonder if the mayor’s abrasive management style and his propensity to micromanage and publicly criticize some department heads might prevent him from retaining and recruiting good people.
“I don’t know how she treats her department heads. But if it’s something like with us [aldermen], it’s kind of a top-down approach. There is no collaboration, ”Sawyer said.
He added: “When I spoke to [COPA chief] Sydney Roberts, she felt stressed and felt that perhaps there had been undue pressure on her which could have contributed to her leaving.
Sawyer does not accept the argument that pandemic fatigue makes the revolving door of Lightfoot Town Hall turn faster.
Departments like Family and Support Services are set to receive a bonanza in federal relief funds “that they have probably never seen before,” he noted.
“I would see this more as an opportunity than an obstacle. This is where I would like to be right now. ”
Former independent Ald. Dick Simpson (44th) endorsed Lightfoot and was part of his transition team.
Simpson cited three reasons for the high turnover: mid-term correction, COVID-19 fatigue, and the “works well with others” rating on his report card.
“She gets angry and speaks out. She has very high standards for what she wants to do when, and there has been crisis after crisis to deal with: the shootings, the pandemic and so on, ”said Simpson.
“I think there are problems with the mayor’s work with his employees. The demands seem too great for some of them. “