Ald. Gardiner apologizes for disparaging remarks he made about a colleague and a committee’s chief of staff in text messages to a former aide
Update: The following is an update (Sept. 7) to an article which first appeared last week:
by BRIAN NADIG
Alderman James Gardiner (45th) has issued an apology for referring to several people as a “bitch” in private text messaging exchanges with a former staffer in 2019.
“I am sorry for my comments; they do not reflect my values. I have reached out to my colleagues and others to express my sincere regrets. I respect all people and apologize to those I may have offended,” Gardiner said in a statement he released on Sept. 3.
The staff member, who also worked on Gardiner’s 2019 campaign but apparently has been at odds with him since she quit her staff post in late 2019, is believed to have released portions of text messages that she had with Gardiner. The messages were posted on the People’s Fabric, an anonymous blog that has been critical of Gardiner.
Gardiner has made phone calls to some of those mentioned in the texts, but City Council Finance Committee chief of staff Anne Emerson said that she wants an in-person meeting with Gardiner, not just an apology over the phone.
Emerson said that elected officials such as Gardiner represent their communities and that such language is completely out of line. She added that she has received a lot of calls of support and that people are “horrified” that an official would use a demeaning word like “bitch” to describe accomplished women.
Emerson said that she received a text message from Gardiner asking her to call him and that she responded in a text asking if he would be available to meet on Sept. 14, which is the next council meeting, but that she has not heard back.
Gardiner said Tuesday that he plans to meet with Emerson at her discretion.
Gardiner said that he did talk to Alderman Scott Waguespack (32nd), who chairs the committee, and apologized for the disparaging remark he made about Emerson.
Waguespack told the Sun-Times that Gardiner seemed sincere in his apology. “I was kind of surprised. I was actually not expecting much, but he was very cordial and contrite, but I really think it’s up to Anne to accept the apology,” he told the Sun-Times.
In addition, Gardiner apologized to Alderman Tom Tunney (44th), who was described as a “bitch” in one of the texts.
“I accepted it, and we’re moving on. How about talking about violence now? Name-calling is not a good thing, but I am moving on,” Tunney told the Sun-Times (Sept. 3 article).
It also was reported that Gardiner has used disparaging language to describe some ward constituents, including use of the c-word in one text.
Communications and political consultant Joanna Klonsky, who also was referred to as a “bitch” in one of the texts, issued the following statement:
“Alderman Gardiner has a disturbing habit of degrading women. In my experience, this is often a red flag for other abusive behavior. An apology won’t cut it at this point. The alderman needs to seek counseling to understand the impacts of his misogynistic behavior, clean up his act and make amends.”
Klonsky’s clients have included Mayor Lori Lightfoot, Chicago City Council Women’s Caucus, Waguespack and former alderman John Arena, who Gardiner defeated in 2019.
Gardiner said that he called Klonsky this week and left her a message.