Chicago Alderman Ramirez-Rosa stepping down as floor leader, committee chair after alleged bullying

Ramirez-Rosa allegedly tried to block Ald. Emma Mitts from entering floor, threatened 2 other alders not to do their jobs

ByCraig Wall and ABC7 Chicago Digital Team WLS logo
Tuesday, November 7, 2023
Chicago alderman stepping down as floor leader after alleged bullying
Carlos Ramirez-Rosa, the 35th Ward Chicago City Council alderman, is stepping down as floor leader after an alleged incident involving Emma Mitts.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- The city council chaos from last week's special meeting on Chicago's sanctuary city ordinance has forced the mayor's floor leader to resign from that role, as well as from his position as chairman of the influential zoning committee.

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Alderman Carlos Ramirez-Rosa, who represents the 35th Ward, is accused of bullying colleagues, and even grabbing one alderwoman to prevent her from going into the council chambers.

Two of those alders confirmed to ABC7 that they have filed complaints with the Chicago Inspector General's Office, alleging that Ramirez-Rosa bullied and threatened them not to do their jobs. Now, there are calls for a public apology from council chambers.

In flexing political muscle to prevent enough alderpersons from attending last Thursday's chaotic special city council meeting, Ramirez-Rosa, the mayor's floor leader is accused of going too far and physically muscling Alderwoman Emma Mitts.

It happened right outside the council doors in the Annex. Alderman Ray Lopez, who represents the 15th Ward, said he watched it go down and intervened.

"Carlos was holding Emma back and using his body to block her from getting around him to get into the doorway. I physically had to put my body into his leaning into him, so that he make her way into the chamber," Lopez said.

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"I don't believe there's any excuse. I mean, if people are here to do the work that they get paid to do by the public, there shouldn't be any impediment to that. And so, I don't think the behavior is excusable," said 40th Ward Alderman Andre Vasquez.

Fellow West Side Alderwoman Monique Scott, who represents the 24th Ward, called Mitts after the incident and said she was distraught.

"She said something like, this has never happened to her before, and she was she was at a loss for words. She was like, 'I don't remember feeling like this since I was in the south as a child,'" Scott said.

Now, two other alders have come forward to say they were verbally bullied by Ramirez-Rosa to stay out of the meeting. They have both filed complaints with the Chicago Inspector General's Office.

"He tells me that as long as his chair ran of zoning, that any of my development projects are going to be on hold, for doing my job for being here representing my community," said Alderman 31st Ward Felix Cardona.

"It's the first time that anything like that's ever happened to me, and for a minute, I thought, 'Am I going to hurt my ward by not doing what he's asking?'" said 11th Ward Alderwoman Nicole Lee.

Ramirez-Rosa denies those allegations, but issued a statement in which he apologized for what happened with Mitts.

"I feel awful about everything that happened. I have reached out to my colleagues to apologize directly and seek to make amends. I made mistakes, and I learned valuable lessons. I take full responsibility for what I've done," Ramirez-Rosa said.

In a statement, Ramirez-Rosa's supporters wrote that the alderman "has been a dedicated public servant committed to social justice, coalition building between Black and Brown communities, and community empowerment."

While Ramirez-Rosa resigned his position as floor leader effective immediately, he is staying on until Dec. 1 as chair of the zoning committee.

Several alders have called for a public apology in council chambers on Tuesday, and Ramirez-Rosa told ABC7 in a text message that he will do just that.

Mayor Brandon Johnson released a statement on the incident that said:

"Over the weekend, I spoke with Alderwoman Emma Mitts and Alderman Carlos Ramirez-Rosa. Yesterday, Alderman Ramirez-Rosa and I agreed he should step down from his positions as Chicago City Council Floor Leader and Chair of the Committee on Zoning, Landmarks, and Building Standards.

"Alderwoman Mitts is a venerable leader and woman of abiding faith, who is committed to public service and the principles of accountability and mercy. Alderman Ramirez-Rosa has acknowledged his transgressions, apologized to his colleagues and committed himself to rebuilding trust.

"It is not lost on me that Thursday's events occurred during a time of heightened tension at City Hall. In recent months, the forces of division have preyed on our city, pitting us against each other in the most destructive ways. I am confident we will find a way to move forward and regain the trust and respect necessary to have a functioning legislative body.

"Let us all recommit ourselves to the principles of respect and civility upon which our work and our democracy depend. Together, we can and will build a better, stronger, safer Chicago for all."

The Chicago Aldermanic Black Caucus released a statement, saying:

While the last several days have been both challenging and extremely emotional for our caucus, we are well pleased and grateful with the tone, temperament, and quick response from Mayor Brandon Johnson in bringing closure to this issue involving our beloved and well-respected colleague, Alderman Emma Mitts.

In addition, while as a caucus we stand firm in our condemnation of Alderman Ramirez-Rosa's actions against Alderman Mitts, we are equally satisfied with his atonement, remorse, and decision to resign his posts as the mayor's floor leader and as Chairman of the Committee on Zoning, Landmarks, and Building Standards.

Ramirez-Rosa's full statement:

"Much has been reported about last week's incidents at a special meeting of the Chicago City Council. Tensions were high at a chaotic meeting, and I let that get the best of me, leading me to act in a way unbecoming of a leader. I sincerely apologize to my colleague, Alderwoman Emma Mitts, for the disrespectful interaction outside of Council Chambers. I also apologize to other colleagues who I have heard also felt disrespected and harmed by my actions - Alderpeople Lee, Cardona, and Taliaferro.

"I feel awful about everything that happened. I have reached out to my colleagues to apologize directly and seek to make amends. I made mistakes, and I learned valuable lessons. I take full responsibility for what I've done.

"Our Chicago City Council does important work and, even when we strongly disagree on policy or approach, it is critical that we show each other respect. The people of Chicago deserve nothing less and have every right to demand that of us.

"Because the position of Floor Leader especially requires the confidence of our colleagues, and because through my actions I lost that confidence, I have informed the mayor that I will be stepping down from that position. Furthermore, I am resigning as Chair of the Committee on Zoning, Landmarks, and Building Standards effective December 1st, to allow time for an effective transition.

"I cannot take away the mistakes I made last week. But I hope to be able to rebuild the trust we have in each other as we move forward as a Council that addresses the important issues impacting Chicago."