A new Chick-fil-A might not be coming to Logan Square after all.
Chicago Ald. Proco “Joe” Moreno found himself again at the center of a Chick-fil-A controversy last week when he announced that the company would change its apparently anti-gay practices only to find that the company would not come out and publicly confirm his claims. Instead, its president and COO, Dan Cathy, days later told conservative former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee that the company made no such “concessions” and that no changes have been made in order to gain permission to open a new location in Moreno’s ward.
“There continues to be erroneous implications in the media that Chick-fil-A changed our practices and priorities in order to obtain permission for a new restaurant in Chicago. That is incorrect. Chick-fil-A made no such concessions, and we remain true to who we are and who we have been,” Cathy reportedly told Huckabee, which directly contradicts the terms of the agreement Moreno claims to have made with the company. Chick-fil-A press representatives have yet to confirm the comment with Chicago Phoenix, but Moreno (1st Ward) has accepted it as a public stab at the progress he sought to make.
Now, the agreement — and the company’s supposed wish to make good with the LGBT community — is entirely up in the air.
“Dan Cathy decided to make a PUBLIC statement to Mike Huckabee that, at the least, muddied the progress we had made with Chick-fil-A and, at the worst, contradicted the documents and promises Chick-fil-A made to me and the community earlier this month,” Moreno said in a statement posted to his Tumblr.com blog. “Since Mr.Cathy made a PUBLIC statement, I am PUBLICLY asking him to confirm and support what I was told and shown by his company representatives.”
In addition, Moreno demands that Cathy publicly confirm that company executives voluntarily delivered a letter to him saying that its non-profit arm, WinShape Foundation, would no longer support anti-gay groups — for the first time in the company’s history, he said. That letter read, “The WinShape Foundation is now taking a much closer look at the organizations it considers helping, and in that process will remain true to its stated philosophy of not supporting organizations with political agendas,” according to Moreno. He also asks that Cathy confirm that company executives stated the same promise again earlier this month in another letter.
“Mr. Cathy continues to not confirm to the press what his company executives have told and showed me. This is disturbing,” Moreno stated. “I am simply asking Mr. Cathy to confirm statements and documents that HIS company exectuives provided to me. It is pretty simple, Mr. Cathy. Do you acknowledge and support the policies that your exectuives outlined to me in writing or do you not? Yes or no?”
Moreno adds that if his answer is “no,” that there could be legal consequences to the company’s business practices.
Notably, Moreno believes that Cathy’s comment may have come after he issued a letter of support to the city, acknowledging his support of the company opening a new restaurant in his ward. In July, Moreno said that he would ban the restaurant from opening a new location on a parcel of land shared with a Home Depot hardware store until it changed its policies to become gay-friendly, launching a controversy that drew criticism and support from all sides of the issue.
“We decided not to give our support to a company that has views that we personally find repugnant and what we think the majority of our constituents also find repugnant,” said 1st Ward Director of Legislative Affairs & Communications Matthew Bailey, on behalf of the alderman back in July. “We feel like we have to take a stand and it would go against our principles if we didn’t take this position.” This came on the heels of Cathy’s equally controversial comments in a religious publication, in which he reaffirmed his and the company’s opposition to same-sex marriage.
In order for Chick-fil-A to move into his ward, Moreno has to also introduce a legislation in the Chicago City Council that would divide the parcel of land. After Cathy’s comments and the company’s silence on the agreement, he says he is reconsidering that action.
“I will wait to see what Mr. Cathy’s next PUBLIC statement is, and reflect on that statement before moving forward with appropriate legislation,” he said.
Chicago Phoenix will update when more information becomes available.