Lightfoot announces action on airport homeless camps as reelection nears

With only days remaining before she’s up for reelection, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot is finally cracking down on the homeless camp at O’Hare International Airport.

“We absolutely fundamentally cannot have people sleeping in our airports who are homeless. That is unacceptable. We are going to continue, within the bounds of the law, to do what is necessary to provide those folks with support but elsewhere. They can’t be in our airports,” she said during a press conference Thursday.

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Finally. But why the sudden interest in resolving this crisis? Reportedly because of reporting from conservative media. It started Wednesday afternoon when the New York Post ran a story exposing the horrible conditions at the airport.

“Critics began tearing into the progressive mayor’s lackluster policies after photos emerged depicting the airport as a sprawling, ‘dystopian’ encampment for the city’s rising homeless population — sparking safety concerns among staff and passengers,” the piece read.

“Stunning photos show filthy makeshift shelters set up inside terminals of the major travel hub, including a vagrant sleeping inside a vestibule — for which critics promptly blamed Lightfoot, who is seeking re-election this month,” it continued.

Later that evening, Chicago Ald. Raymond Lopez appeared on Fox News’s “Tucker Carlson Tonight” to offer more details about the crisis.

“They’re not just urinating in the hallways. They’re taking baths in the toilets there. They’re making a mockery of what Chicago is here. We understand that homelessness is a problem we must address,” he said.

“But making O’Hare Airport a homeless shelter for hundreds of people on a daily basis when we’re trying to welcome people here, when we’re trying to encourage tourism, bring back the business clientele, bring back families to our city, and to only have them greeted by hundreds of homeless who have mental health issues, may be armed, may be not even be clothed, that’s not something that institutes a lot of confidence in our mayor, in our city,” he added.

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And then the following day, Lightfoot suddenly started caring about the crisis, albeit only after first being prodded by local reporters. Though predictably, the mayor couldn’t resist taking a shot at Fox News and host Tucker Carlson.

“Consider the source. … They’re never going to portray our city in a favorable light,” she said Thursday when pressed by reporters about the reporting from Carlson.

Never mind that the reporting from Carlson had featured the testimonial of one of Lightfoot’s own aldermen.

All this comes as the homeless continue to flock to O’Hare. Granted, the homeless reportedly always flock to the airport during the brutal winter months. But this year it’s reportedly been much worse.

“According to the Haymarket Center’s O’Hare Outreach program, which connects persons suffering from homelessness and seeking refuge at the airport with services, the outreach assisted 618 unhoused people at the airport in 2022, an increase of 58% from 431 in 2021,” the Post notes.

“[A] law enforcement source said some of the unhoused people have displayed ‘erratic and confrontational behavior.’ That’s raised safety concerns for both passengers and employees, including maintenance workers and parking lot attendants who have recently been attacked,” according to the New York-based outlet.

All this also comes amid, as reported earlier, Lightfoot’s reelection bid. One that she’s currently reportedly losing.

“A new poll in the race for Chicago mayor suggests that Paul Vallas may be solidifying his frontrunner status. And even if Mayor Lori Lightfoot makes the runoff, her chances at re-election may be dimming,” local station WLS reported Friday.

“Vallas is heading down the home stretch in the race, with his polling numbers continuing to grow. The latest independent poll by Victory Research shows Vallas in front with 22.%, followed by Lori Lightfoot at 17.1%, and Brandon Johnson a point behind her. Chuy Garcia and Willie Wilson round out the top five, and no other candidate is in double figures,” the station added.

Vallas is a Democrat like Lightfoot but, many feel, a slightly less crazy one. For instance, he’s allied with the Fraternal Order of Police. Lightfoot is not.

He was also accused last year of rubbing shoulders with the so-called “far-right” after he attended a school choice fundraiser by a nonprofit that opposes COVID mandates, opposes the teaching of critical race theory, and once called Democrat Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker a “groomer.”

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Vivek Saxena

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