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City officials speak on COVID-19 progress
by Matt Simonette

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Two key officials from Mayor Lori Lightfoot's administration took part in Equality Illinois' weekly town hall meeting to discuss the city's progress addressing the COVID-19 pandemic and field questions from community members the afternoon of April 21.

Robert Fotjik, a senior aide to Lightfoot, and Candace Moore, the city's chief equity officer, participated in the online discussion, which Equality Illinois has been organizing as the pandemic progresses.

Community equity has been a central component of the political discussion surrounding COVID-19, as disenfranchised persons are disproportionately affected in any large-scale catastrophe. Lightfoot has emphasized publicly that 70 percent of Chicagoans who have died from COVID-19 transmission have been persons of color.

Moore praised how numerous Chicagoans have banded together to help one another out in the last few months.

"I have really been impressed with fellow Chicagoans in [how they have been] creating neighborhood networks," she said, adding that those networks have been exemplifying "people who care about one another."

Fotjik similarly emphasized that Chicagoans must remember, "We're all in this together."

He emphasized that inevitable budget cuts mitigating the COVID-19 revenue loss would not be made "on the backs of the wor+++king class or the backs of Black or Brown people," adding, "I don't envy my colleagues on the budget and finance teams."

Fotjik was asked during the talk whether Tax Increment Financing ( TIF ) moneys could be diverted to address these long term costs to the City. He said that TIF rules are determined by state law and said that changing them could lead to "destruction that would not be insignificant."

Moore said that City officials need to keep asking how the shelter-in-place orders affect Chicagoans, and what parts of the city are seeing the most adverse outcomes, questions that have a direct impact on her duties as chief equity officer. About 80,000 Chicagoans have applied for a municipal rental assistance program, she added.

Moore joked that she is "personal trainer" helping the City to flex its equity "muscle."

Fotjik discussed how Lightfoot has become almost a literal face of the shelter-in-place order; the mayor's visage has factored into numerous memes that have circulated online. Reports also circulated that Lightfoot was chiding Chicagoans from her car.

"She really does want people to stay in," Fotjik said. "We're flattening there curve in a way that you're not seeing in other cities. I'm not saying that it is because of Lori Lightfoot driving around yelling at people, but it doesn't hurt."

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