Chicago City Wire

Chicago City Wire

Friday, April 3, 2020

Northwest Side GOP Club VP lashes out at mayor for Arena hiring, stifling 45th Ward alderman


By Glenn Minnis | Oct 7, 2019

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot

Northwest Side GOP Club Vice President Ammie Kessem does not know what infuriates her more, the fact that Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot gave former city alderman John Arena a six-figure job paid for by taxpayers, or the way Lightfoot has defended her actions since they became public knowledge.

“It tells voters that their decisions don’t matter, that their voices are not heard” Kessem, also a 41st Ward Republican Committee candidate, told Chicago City Wire. “This man is now able to receive a taxpayer-funded pension that the voters had decided he wasn’t deserving of.”

The Chicago Tribune reports that Lightfoot recently hired Arena, who served eight years as alderman of the city’s 45th Ward, as a senior adviser in the Department of Planning and Development at an annual salary of $123,996. Arena’s installment comes just more than seven months after he was soundly defeated in his reelection bid by new Ald. Jim Gardiner.

Northwest Side GOP Club Vice President Ammie Keesem

Gardiner recently spoke out about Arena’s appointment, drawing a strong rebuke from Lightfoot that only angered Kessem more.

“How dare she,” Kessem wrote on Facebook of Lightfoot essentially telling Gardiner to mind his own business. “Being a voice for his constituents in the 45th is exactly what he is doing. The voters decided that John Arena should not be in a position of authority and now we have a mayor who not only singlehandedly decided to give this man a $124,000-a-year job that will allow him to reap the benefits of a taxpayer-funded pension, but she did so after calling for a hiring freeze.”

While Lightfoot has defended her actions as being in the best interest of the city, Kessem argues that they send the wrong message to Chicago voters.

“Yet she has the audacity to say a sitting representative of the people doesn’t have a right to say anything,” she wrote. “The level of hypocrisy is astounding.”

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