BELLEVILLE, IL – The mayor of a town twenty miles southeast of the St Louis metro area is under fire and likely embarrassed after being seen in a St. Louis restaurant, dining indoors and without a mask, when his town, and most of his state has strict executive policies against those factors.
The mayor himself decreed that people couldn’t dine inside of restaurants, bars and grills in all of Illinois.
So Mayor Mark Eckert sneaked off to St Louis, where restrictions aren’t so strict. He is now apologizing, which seems to be the rule of thumb when a politician is caught violating rules that their constituents must obey.
Mayor Eckert attested that he was having a “spontaneous” meal on a “date night” with his wife, but residents in his town aren’t pleased with their chief administrator.
An image of Eckert inside Rigazzi’s on The Hill was posted to social media on Saturday night and was shared by many claiming Eckert was a hypocrite.
One comment stated:
“Our mayor can’t eat in his own town cause he’s shutting it all down. So he comes over to STL to eat.”
The mayor issued a written apology on Facebook, with a precursory statement that he had not planned to have dinner in St Louis and had been driving around looking at Christmas lights.
His Facebook post reads:
“On Saturday December 12th, my wife and I took a drive to look at Christmas lights. After driving through Belleville, we ventured across the river to St. Louis and enjoyed many of their displays.
“Before heading home, we decided to get some dinner. We found ourselves in The Hill area, and walked into Rigazzi’s. Had there been a long wait for a table, we might have ordered something to go, but they had a table for us in 5 minutes, and we felt comfortable with a table against a wall. We wore our masks when we weren’t seated.
“This was not a plan to sidestep the guidelines set by the State of Illinois. This was not meant to be anything other than a date night with my wife. We remarked as we sat at dinner that we could not remember the last time we had ended up on The Hill spontaneously.
Even pre Covid, anyone who knows me knows that I am diligent about supporting Belleville and I rarely go outside of Belleville to eat or shop. I frequent restaurants throughout our city, I prioritize supporting Belleville businesses, and I encourage my family to do the same. However, I realize that in my position optics are everything, and I regret my decision to eat in a restaurant at this time.
“Covid 19 is a very serious threat that has had a major impact on our community and every community throughout our state and the world. I take these warnings very seriously, and I should not have taken the risk to dine out.
“In recent days, the city of Belleville has issued 3 warning letters to businesses where we received calls about businesses who have not eliminated indoor dining.
This is not my mandate, but I am required to uphold restrictions set forth by the State of Illinois. The State has taken guidelines from health experts to establish restrictions that they believe will help reduce the spread of the virus.
“Going forward, I hope you will continue to join me supporting Belleville businesses. The City has been working hard to find more ways to help local businesses who are struggling at this time.
“Again, I apologize for this mistake. Especially to those in the service industry who are struggling at this time and the health care workers who are dealing with this crisis.”
Indoor dining at all bars and restaurants in Illinois has been banned by Governor J.B. Pritzker since November 20th. There is also a ban in place in St Louis County, but not inside the City of St Louis.
Reading the 690+ comments om Mayor Eckert’s Facebook post indicated that 99% of his constituents weren’t happy with him – and based on their anger, that factor may impact his re-election chances.
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Chicago restaurant owned by city alderman caught defying lockdown restrictions, serving people indoors
December 10, 2020
CHICAGO, IL – A Chicago restaurant that’s reportedly owned by a local city alderman was recently caught covertly serving preferred customers via some indoor dining.
Which happens to be in defiance of both the state and local lockdown orders that prohibit indoor dining at eateries.
And another one. What a slap in the face to the people! https://t.co/OYy203mWHu
— Faith ???? (@CmonPeople2020) December 9, 2020
The expression of “rules for thee, but not for me” has been an utterance more commonly frequented in the era of the pandemic, and with good reason as well.
Throughout 2020, while elected officials in various cities and states started mandating assorted restrictions on businesses and residents relating to the pandemic, there have been instances where those same elected officials flouted the very restrictions they implemented.
One of the more recent instances occurred at Ann Sather – touted as a breakfast staple within Chicago’s Lakeview neighborhood.
Wrigleyville alderman Tom Tunney allowed diners inside his restaurant in violation of COVID-19 rules, calls it an “error in judgment.” He’s the latest politician across the country in hot water for not following the rules. https://t.co/J7htMx21EV
— Gregory Pratt (@royalpratt) December 7, 2020
The restaurant happens to be owned by Democrat Alderman, Tom Tunney.
After reports started filing in about patrons being seated inside the establishment, city inspectors reportedly paid a visit to the eatery on December 7th.
For context on the situation, indoor dining has been ordered to cease via Governor Pritzker’s order to curb the spread of the pandemic; an order in effect since October 30th.
According to a report from the Chicago Sun-Times, Tunney (who Mayor Lori Lightfoot pinned to serve as the chairman of the City Council’s Zoning Committee back in 2019) admitted to openly disregarding the order:
“We have, on occasion, sat regular diners in the back of the restaurant. I acknowledge that. It’s not OK. I made a mistake, and I’m owning up to it. I should have not sat regular customers in my restaurant whatsoever.”
Ald. Tom Tunney, owner of Ann Sather Restaurants, acknowledged having defied the governor’s order: “We have, on occasion, sat regular diners in the back of the restaurant. I acknowledge that. It’s not OK. I made a mistake, and I’m owning up to it.”
— Chicago Sun-Times (@Suntimes) December 7, 2020
Tunney referred to the entire matter of affording some of his “repeat customers” an experience that regular Chicagoans are being denied (and businesses barred from practicing) as being “an error:”
“I have a lot of repeat customers over the years. On a sporadic basis, I have let regular customers – very few and far between – in my store. I made an error.”
In a more formal statement released on the practice, Tunney essentially noted the same thing about affording some of his repeat customers that preferential treatment. He also included in that statement that diners were “observing social distancing and mask-wearing rules.”
Rest assured, Tunney also noted in his recent statement that it “won’t happen again.”
Despite being a key ally of Mayor Lori Lightfoot, neither she nor Governor Pritzker were at all amused with the practice Tunney was engaged in.
In a statement released by Mayor Lightfoot, she made a no-nonsense condemnation of the act:
“Any business found in violation of these guidelines has been and will be held fully accountable. No exceptions.”
Governor Pritzker’s statement was at least a little more warm, sentiments-wise, than Mayor Lightfoot’s. When commenting on the matter, he harkened back to Tunney referring to the practice as being “an error,” but also said elected officials should know better:
“Well, I agree. It was an error in judgement. I also will say that elected officials should be setting an example.”
Although, it is rather ironic that Mayor Lightfoot is taking such a strong stance on Tunney’s practices with relation to how he was operating his eatery.
Back in April, Mayor Lightfoot became the subject of heavy criticism when she violated her own stay-at-home order to go get her hair done. Then, there was the instance where she attended a large gathering of a post-election celebration earlier in November.
While that wasn’t a violation of any order to attend that celebration, Mayor Lightfoot enacted another city shutdown less than a week after attending.
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