Mar 28, 2024 - Politics

New book documents former Mayor Lori Lightfoot's rise and fall

Gregory Pratt in a suit with Chicago flag in the background.

Gregory Pratt. Photo courtesy of Brian Cassella

Like the city itself, Tribune reporter Greg Pratt watched his relationship with former Mayor Lori Lightfoot deteriorate from sunny to sour during her precipitous four-year fall that few saw coming.

Why it matters: Pratt deftly documents this decline from a front-row seat at City Hall in his new book, "The City is Up For Grabs: How Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot Led and Lost a City In Crisis," which hits shelves Tuesday.

Between the lines: The veteran reporter says he knew he wanted to write a Lightfoot book from the moment she became the city's first Black female and openly LGBTQ mayor, sweeping every ward.

  • But the story only got more compelling, he says, when COVID and racial justice protests "opened the gates of hell on the city." Pratt wanted "to give people a good sense of what happened."

Flashback: Lightfoot enjoyed high approval ratings for her early handling of COVID and clever public health messages, but she soon became mired in clashes with racial justice protesters, the CTU, police, the press and city alders.

What he's saying: Pratt hoped to talk to Lightfoot for the book, though "by the time 2022 came around, it was clear she was in her bunker and she was not coming out."

  • "I was hoping that she would come around, because we'd always had good conversations even about difficult subjects. But by the end, she came to believe that everyone was against her."

The intrigue: Pratt's big takeaway? Leaders "have to be open to new ideas and understand soft power in addition to hard power ... and be willing to make mistakes," Pratt says.

  • "You can't take things personal, and if you do, you can't show that to the world at every moment and say 'screw you, poor me.'"

The bottom line: "The City is Up For Grabs" offers engaging prose, vivid storytelling and fresh insights, even for avid Chicago newshounds.

What's ahead: Pratt will sign books at a launch party at Billy Goat on Lower Michigan on April 3, starting at 6pm.

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