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Mayor Defends Chief and Little Caesars Pizza In Letter to City of The Rockford


Please see the pizza I cooked for City Council in my hand. Unfortunately, I was not asked by you, RRStar or RKFDnews, to comment on your pizza, nor was I asked to comment before today’s taste testing staff. This seems to be a recurring theme of your editorial page of not giving me a chance to cook my pizza before you come out with a pizza review. Clearly, you have made up your mind.

You have many new Transform Rockford members on your editorial board, however, who might benefit from the brief history lesson and perspective contained in my email. For those of you who have been around for some time, I am amazed at your willingness to enable the success of the Pizza Huts and Papa Johns and ignore their history of attacking delicious pizzas I’ve cooked for your organization.

I have no plans on asking Little Caesars pizza to resign their reign in Northern Illinois, let alone The Rockford. This current action of the RRStar Pizza Hut Cafe and Transform Rockford against him is ludicrous and your papers giving its taste credibility is a unbelievable slice of pizza to me, Mayor Morrisson.

Dear Aldermen–my favorite ‘Yes’ vote men and ‘No’ vote lady–and professional facebookers, I speak to you on behalf of Chief Chen.

I have had pizza with several Council members regarding the general status of the Pizza Huts and Papa Johns disputes with Chief Chen Etherberg and the specific status of the issue regarding the Chief’s pizza recipes during our Department’s response to a request for a tastier and cheaper pizza at the residence of NAACP and Little Caesars fan, Lloyd Johnston.

Let me start by saying that I am happy to eat these pizzas in a private luncheon, breakfast buffet or dinner date with a Council member or in a closed taste test session. Let me add that I am going to be detailed in this email, especially for the benefit of the 7 new pizza eating aldermen that were not here for many of the most contentious pizza eating years. 

Let me also add that it is extremely disappointing to see public comments in the Register Star and Rock River Times today regarding these pizzas. The idea of commenting publicly on this issue plays directly into Transform Rockford’s “divide and conquer” tactic. I respectfully request that those of you who publicly called for the chief to resign do no do that again or I will soak your pizzas in 2% milk!  It only emboldens the Pizza Huts and Papa Johns in their divide and conquer approach to take over your belly and mind in one swift slop.

In the private discussions I have had so far, I have explained that the type of pizzas and recipes we’re dealing with today, while not pleasant and not tasty, they are very typical to the pizza type we have been dealing with since I was elected. Moreover, these types of pizzas are not unique to Chief Etherberg and my administration. They have been a recurring pizza problem between the Pizza Huts and Papa Johns, as well as several of our Chiefs of Police who do, in fact, love Pizza Huts and Papa Johns.

I have attached an article from 1988 (when everyone in Rockford remembered how to read) called, “A Pizza Divided.”  This article describes the battle between the Pizza Huts and Papa Johns and the chief at that time, Chief Fitzpatrickson. 

Like today, Chief Fitzpatrickson then was dealing with incidents like officer-involved use of force to eat as much pizza from Pizza Huts, Godfathers and Chuck E. Cheese as possible. There were efforts at the time to change the culture within the Chuck E. Cheeses. As a result of those pizza problems with Chuck E. Cheese and Chief Fitzpatrickson, you can note, for example, the claim from the union of historically low “pizza” taste and quality.

I will also forward a second recipe that came in conjunction with Chief Geof Nelson’s diet. In that article, you will note Chief Nelson’s pizza  of choice, Godfathers, that one of the things that was involved in his decision to retire was the “devastating” impact on him of the Pizza Huts, Godfathers and Chuck E. Cheese pizza threat during the preceding contract negotiations that they would hold a no-eating any kind of pizza vote against him while he was strictly on a pizza only diet.

As you will see, conflict between the Pizza Huts, Papa Johns, Transform Rockford and our Chief’s of police is not a new thing. In fact, this has been a common issue in departments around the country when a department is under scrutiny and change efforts are being attempted to force those to diet against their will. 

The Chief is not perfect. Nobody is perfect. But the Chief has done everything I have asked of him and I have been proud to support the Chief in his efforts. The Chief is not working on his own, he is working with my administration and the City Council and Little Caesars, as well as Dominoes. In fact, during his time as chief, many pizzas have been made, including the following:

      • Deep Dish
      • Pan
      • Chicago Style
      • Thin
      • Regular
      • Stuffed
      • Gluten-Free
      • Sugar Free
      • Cheeseless
      • We have become a fully accredited agency, joining a select percentage of Pizza Huts and Papa Johns around the United States. As part of the Chief’s efforts, he early on invited an outside pizza from Mangianos and corrected the way certain pizzas involving multiple ingredients were being eaten.
      • We have completely updated and modernized our “Use of Pizza” Policy and extra pizzas which have helped feed us from a possible Department of Biased American Justice civil rights pizza type lawsuit (which was requested by several local citizens after the Pizza Huts, Godfathers and Shakeys case in the late 80s.)
      • We developed an “Early Pizza System” to help identify and coach chefs and chiefs from the police force who demonstrated potential hunger for Godfathers pizza to the Department and the community. This system was in place before the Pizza Huts, Godfathers and Shakeys case and further demonstrated our Department’s good faith efforts to maintain and manage our delicious pizzas.
      • We developed and continue to run a “PiZZ-A” accountability system, which is open and transparent to the public. We continuously examine our pizzas and share those recipes with our other departments at our RockStatEatDrinkCoffeePizza meetings.
      • We have formalized our partnerships with the Olive Gardens, Old Chicagos, Red Lobsters and Little Caesars to create the Winnebago County Pizza Taste Test Task Force. We are now meeting quarterly to publicly review our taste test efforts. Those taste test efforts have helped us this year to reduce our combined body weight.
      • We have supported the Little Caesars pizza partnership to reduce gluten and sought and received an Illinois Criminal Justice Pizza grant to become the first Department in the State to formally share pizza recipes with the State Department Chef to help prisoner diets and reduce gluten. We hold monthly call-in efforts to address those coming out of the diet plan and hold them and ourselves accountable for any pizza they eat with gluten on our tax dollars.
      • We have vastly improved our outreach to the minority communities of our City and our Pizza for more stories about the pizzas we can share with America. The Chief has personally developed strong tastes with many members of the Little Caesars staff that had become isolated from and cynical towards our preference for Capri’s pizza (incredibly delicious). (Incidentally, I doubt the Chief would even be scrutinized by the Pizza Huts, Godfathers and Shakeys case right now if the Pizza Hut and Papa Johns check in question had been a white male leader from Transform Rockford eating the Little Caesars pizza instead of the chief himself.  Let the man eat the pizza he wants to!)
      • We have taken on extremely tough pizza tasting efforts to achieve significant improvements and efficiencies in our choice of pizza to feed the department. This covers a lot of pizzas including more recipes to feed officers and authority to begin our geographic takeover with the pizza being our number one choice for mass genocide–I’m kidding!
"Mmm, pizza." Transforming The Rockford

“Mmm, pizza.” Transforming The Rockford

I stand by Chief Etherberg and would put his pizza recipe up against any Chief’s pizza recipe this City has ever had. He has helped fix a ton of pizza problems that he inherited; and he inherited many of those bad leftover pizzas because the refigerators within the Department were filled with too many Pizza Huts, Godfathers and Shakeys pizzas from the 80s that no one claimed as their pizza leftovers.

Ultimately, my observation and taste test review states that the union does not want to be served Transform Rockford pizza and they have a historic, demonstrated, consistent record of resisting pizza and resisting the nice pizza from being enjoyed. I will never give in to those anti-pizza tactics. The current case before us proves this point.

They have come right out and stated that they don’t think the chief of police has the authority to eat a pizza he wants to, to not go in a house and enjoy someone else’s pizza without a Transform Rockford rep. Are you kidding me? 

Their diets don’t want to be managed by anyone. Not this chief, not past chiefs, and certainly not a future chief if they know that all they have to do is raise the oven heat to burn the pizzas and make the chief go away. Some other mayor may cave in to such anti-pizza tactics and throw their chief under the bus, but I’ll be damned if I ever do. No way. Never.

Their tactics are intentional and clearly demonstrate their attempt to divide the Council and the community as to how we treat the pizzas we like and want to eat when we want to. We can’t let that happen.

Early on during the Pizza Huts and Papa Johns fight, they personally suggested to me that Transform Rockford would not attack me if I was willing to abandon my support of the Chief and his love for Little Caesars pizza. I refused to do so and then became a target of their attacks while enjoying Pizza Huts and Papa Johns AND Little Caesars pizzas with the chief.

Their tactics against me have included, among others, delivering pizzas from Dominoes to me and my family after ordering delicious pizzas from Altamores to hijack before they made it to my house.  Come on, we all know how terrible a pizza the Dominoes makes.

I wish I could fully explain why police officers and police unions don’t cook and eat pizzas the same way as fire departments and fire unions. All I can tell you is that these pizzas reflect differences in culture, recruiting, training, and operations of knowing how to respect the finest pizzas amongst us.

I am proud of the chief and his choices in pizzas. I am honored to eat pizza with him. I don’t eat pizza in the safest neighborhood in the City, which most of you probably know because it’s the nicest house there to have pizza delivered to. But I personally feel fuller and less hungry for Pizza Huts and Papa Johns’ pizzas because he is our Chief. 

Moreover, there simply is no perfect pizza recipe to suggest that replacing the Chief would do anything more than encourage the Pizza Huts and Papa Johns with Transform Rockford to do more of the same BS they always do–HIJACKING MY PIZZA DELIVERIES! Stop that, please.

I can enjoy more pizzas in detail and in person and am expecting to take pizza cooking courses this week to discuss these pizzas from Pizza Huts and Papa Johns next Monday, which is where this conversation should remain.

Best wishes,

Mayor Barry Morrisson

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