Ald. Maria Hadden (49th) has apologized for an “insensitive” tweet from a staff member that offended some Chicago firefighters, and she told the Chicago Sun-Times that Leslie Perkins will apologize.
“She’s sorry. It was a stupid comment. She wasn’t really thinking,” Hadden told the Sun-Times’ longtime city hall reporter Fran Spielman. “We’ve been in communication with (Firefighters union) Local 2 making sure (they understand). She’s making a written statement of apology.”
The controversy started when Perkins tweeted about Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s response to Ald. Jim Gardiner (45th), who expressed displeasure that Lightfoot hired former 45th ward Ald. John Arena. Gardiner, a former firefighter, defeated Arena after a heated election campaign. And when he complained about the hiring, Lightfoot responded sharply, saying Gardiner “should focus on what matters to his ward. He doesn’t have a say in my hiring decisions.”
Perkins, who worked previously as Arena’s chief of staff before going to work for Hadden, tweeted a link to Lightfoot’s comments, and said “I wonder how a firefighter feels about getting burned so badly.”
Rev. Thomas A. Mulcrone. Chaplain Emeritus of the Chicago Fire Department, wrote Hadden to complain about the tweet.
“I was stunned beyond words when I read the tweet that was sent out by one of your employees, Leslie Perkins, referring to a firefighter being ‘burned,’” Mulcrone said. “While she might think of it as a cute play on words what she implied is absolutely horrific.”
Hadden acknowledged to the Sun-Times that Perkins’ “joke” was offensive. But she said it was meant as a dig to her former political rival, not at all firefighters.
“She worked for Ald. Arena,” Hadden said. “It’s politics. Leftover hard feelings with the election results….. She wasn’t trying to put down the firefighters. It was an insult aimed at Gardiner. They’re personal, leftover things from their dealings in the 45th ward.”