Politics Foreign Affairs Culture Fellows Program

Goodbye, Chicago

One man's story about how Mayor Lori Lightfoot has run the city into the ground -- and why he left
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That's Chicago mayor Lori Lightfoot above, making a last-minute pitch before the city votes on her re-election. It's not looking good. As the beloved Chicago columnist John Kass recovers from open heart surgery, he turned over his website to his fishing buddy "Steve the Pilot" to write about why he (the fishing buddy) left the Windy City. It's a must read. Steve was born and raised in Chicago, lived almost all his life there, raised his kids there, was involved in the civic life of the city, all of it. But he no longer lives there. Excerpts:

The kids went to college, the wife retired and our life of travel was beginning. I mentioned I had missed one election earlier. The only one I missed (no, I even voted when deployed for Desert Storm) was the municipal election of 2019, we were overseas before voting started and did not come back until a few days after it had taken place. I voted in the runoff and happily voted for [Mayor Lori] Lightfoot looking for that change… and boy did I get it.


He says that "Covid, George Floyd riots, crime and budgets changed everything." More:

I had many friends from high school who went on the job. The story I heard was that CPD leadership went to Lightfoot’s office with a plan to protect us, as city after city started having riots. She told them we’re not doing that plan, all the guys I know have now retired. I rode my bike to the river near Wolf Point the morning after the first riots. I have pictures of smashed windows, looted stores and an iconic photo of all the bridges up, which I wish I never had the opportunity to take. I was devastated.

The second set of looting happened much closer to home, during that so called “Summer of Love”. Friends who have places of business, not even near downtown, were on their roofs and in their stores armed and ready, since the police wouldn’t or rather were told couldn’t. That morning after, the looting was still unraveling. I was at the airport going to work in my uniform and as I watched the reporting on the TV in the terminal, I started to tear up. While I think I hid it well, I wept for my city. My dream of living in Chicago until the end was over, I knew we were going to be moving. Lightfoot had destroyed our city in under 2 years.


They started burning Michigan Avenue and now there’s a lot of boarded up storefronts and no one after darkCarjackings, murders, robberies, shoplifting and mayhem in broad daylight, even in good neighborhoods. My family didn’t want to come into the city to visit us for fear of robbery or worse! The engine is dying and I don’t see it running smooth, if ever, for a very long time. They talk about investing in the neighborhoods, but without a well running engine at the core, the car doesn’t go. It’s pretty simple.

I was there when Chicago was down, I grew up through the tumult. I know even if the city does turn itself around, it’s a long road and I will be too old when it happens to enjoy it.

There's a lot more to the column than I've quoted here, but you get the gist.

How about you? Have you moved from your city because of crime, Covid, corruption, etc.? If so, I want to know about it. What was the tipping point? Do you regret it? If you ultimately decided not to move, how come? If you can't comment here, e-mail me your story at rod -- at -- amconmag -- dot -- com, and put MOVE in the subject line.