“If you hit me with a bat, I’m going to shoot you with a gun”


Tempers remained fairly calm as the Chicago City Council met Wednesday. That is, until aldermen got to a back room immediately after the meeting.

There, Ald. Daniel La Spata, 1st, raced over to Ald. David Moore, 17th, to ask Moore why he had blocked two seemingly uncontroversial proposals of La Spata’s aimed at adding housing in Logan Square.

The answer, Moore shouted in anger and frustration as he stood beside a sun-filled window, was retaliation.

“If you hit me, I’m gonna knock your ass out,” he grumbled as he got closer to La Spata. “If you can’t dish it, don’t give it out.”

TV cameras set up for a nearby interview panned over as the shouting grew louder. Another council member and security guards quickly stepped in to separate the aldermen, ending the tense interaction.

But the effects of the dispute will linger: Now, a $10 million bond to fund a low-income housing development and a much-needed zoning change clearing the way for a storage building to be turned into a 62-loft apartment are delayed for at least a month.

Moore used the “defer and publish” parliamentary maneuver when the items came up for consideration. Ald. Raymond Lopez, 15th, also backed it. The tactic prevents scheduled votes and is often used by aldermen to delay ordinances they oppose.

Nonetheless, La Spata sat in disbelief after the legislation was blocked. City Council colleagues typically do not touch the day-to-day development ordinances involving another alderman’s ward, a tradition known as “aldermanic prerogative.”

But Moore left no doubt about why he stalled La Spata’s proposals. He blocked them because La Spata had “deferred and published” an ordinance of Moore’s own, he said.

La Spata used the tactic in April to prevent a vote on an ordinance sponsored by Moore that sought to give City Council control over the ShotSpotter gunshot detection system’s future. After the delay, the ordinance finally passed with broad council support in May, despite opposition from Mayor Brandon Johnson.

“This was clearly payback,” Moore told the Tribune. “My thing is: Leave David Moore alone,”

“If you slap me, I’m going to hit you with a bat. If you hit me with a bat, I’m going to shoot you with a gun,” he continued.

Moore said he found La Spata’s complaints after the council meeting “mean-spirited” and took them as political threats. La Spata said he had invited Moore to view the housing developments, an invitation Moore has no plans to accept. Moore only meant to send a message, he explained.

“I don’t have a problem with his developments,” Moore said. “You don’t need to invite me anywhere.”

Moore had made public comments suggesting he would clap back against anyone who stalled the ShotSpotter ordinance as it worked through the City Council. His retaliatory stall tactics Wednesday are not his first.

In 2021, Moore sponsored the ordinance to rename Lake Shore Drive after Jean Baptiste Point du Sable. When the ordinance was similarly stalled, Moore responded by blocking the City Council’s entire agenda.

Moments after Moore yelled at him, La Spata called the retaliation “inappropriate.”

“I think we are called to be better than that, to be bigger than that,” he said. “I try to raise my daughter so that we use words rather than fists. That is what I expect of any adult.”

The two ordinances to build more housing are “critical,” he said. The old Hollander Storage & Moving building in Logan Square is being held up by metal plates now and urgently needs redevelopment to start, he said.

“If that facade were to crumble or be damaged in the next month, I know the individuals who I would hold responsible,” La Spata said. “There’s such a desperate need for affordable housing. There’s such a desperate need to move these two buildings forward.”

jsheridan@chicagotribune.com



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