Lightfoot allies to try again on Wednesday to save COPA chief’s appointment

Mayor Lori Lightfoot will try again on Wednesday to salvage her troubled nomination of Andrea Kersten as head of the Civilian Office of Police Accountability – even if she faces embarrassing defeat.

“He will certainly be defeated. I worked hard. They don’t have the votes. I don’t know how they think they got the votes,” Ald said. Nick Sposato (38th), who is leading the charge against Kersten’s appointment.

COPA has recommended a three-day suspension for Officer Ella French for failing to activate her body-worn camera when she showed up during the raid on social worker Anjanette Young’s home in February 2019. This recommendation was made before French was killed in the line. of duty, although the report containing this recommendation was published after his death.

Kersten “injured herself enormously” with the French suspension, Sposato said. “A lot of people can’t forgive her for that because they think she didn’t really have any remorse about it. … I’m just baffled why they’re doing this. All I can think of is that even if he is defeated, someone will try to call him for a vote in the full city council.

Public Safety Committee Chairman Chris Taliaferro (29th) said that was exactly what he had in mind.

Whether or not Kersten’s nomination is voted down at Wednesday’s committee meeting, Taliaferro said he intends to seek a yes or no vote in the full Council on Feb. 23.

“Even if it’s the committee’s recommendation to ‘no pass’, the mayor thinks she’ll get the votes at city council. Otherwise, we would not proceed in committee,” Taliaferro said Monday.

“It’s going to be risky anyway. It is very risky if you are not absolutely sure. But, the mayor’s team is sure they have enough votes.

According to Roberts Rules of Order, it only takes 26 votes to overturn a negative committee recommendation.

If all 19 committee members attend on Wednesday and are joined by Ald. Brendan Reilly (42nd), acting chairman of the Board, it would take 10 votes for the committee to reject Kersten’s appointment. This is because a tie vote becomes a Do Not Pass recommendation.

Sposato was asked point-blank if Kersten would have 26 votes in the full Council.

“Absolutely not,” said Sposato, who had a prior run-in with Kersten after he reported him to the ethics board for calling her five times — calls she ignored.

Civilian Office of Police Accountability Acting Chief Administrator Andrea Kersten. His appointment to the permanent leadership of COPA was challenged by some city council members angered by his office’s recommendation to suspend a Chicago police officer who was later killed in the line of duty.
Civilian Office of Police Accountability

Taliaferro acknowledged that grudges linger over Kersten’s “handling of Anjanette Young’s findings. And that included disclosing and not redacting the findings with respect to Agent French.

But even though he disagrees with the way the case was handled, Taliaferro has a radically different view.

He noted that COPA is obligated by city ordinance to “make reports open to public inspection” and can “redact information only to the extent it is exempt from disclosure” by the Freedom of Speech Act. information.

“In light of Officer French’s death as a hero, perhaps Andrea could have taken a different approach. But the order does not allow him to do so. We could have given some discretion to the chief administrator, but we didn’t. She was required to promptly disclose this information. It doesn’t give him any wiggle room left or right,” Taliaferro said.

“Either we will ask a chief administrator to follow the rules and regulations. Or, we will ask our Chief Administrator to override these rules and regulations if a situation is not suitable. We cannot do that as a society. This would make each crime subject to the circumstances.

On January 21, Taliaferro infuriated Sposato by abruptly canceling a planned confirmation vote when it was clear Kersten did not have the votes to walk off the committee.

Not even after the acting head of COPA publicly apologized a second time for recommending the French suspension. This recommendation was made on April 27, 2021 – more than three months before French, 29, was shot and killed and his partner, Carlos Yanez Jr., was seriously injured after stopping an SUV with expired plates at 63rd Street and Bell Avenue.

Kersten told committee members that COPA’s “greatest missed opportunity” was in not extending to the French family the courtesy and compassion it extends to civilians. That is, to guide them through COPA’s findings, reports and videos before they are made public.

“It should have been granted to this Gold Star family,” she said then.

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