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Our Crazy Uncles in City Council

By Chuck Sudo in Food on Jul 19, 2006 3:15PM

2006_07_burt.jpgIt seems as though not a week goes by without an alderman doing or saying something that makes Chicago look like just another parochial, hick town. If they're not banning foie gras, or passing a smoking ban that allows bars a time frame for compliance that more resembles an exit strategy from Iraq, then they're feuding with each other on the Council floor, passing salary increases for themselves, and getting caught in the occasional compromising position.

Most of the time, though, they just say some stupid shit.

For example, let's look at the always entertaining 42nd Ward Alderman, Burt Natarus, seen here as an Elphaba understudy in "Wicked". He's introduced his share of silly legislation over the years (we particularly like putting diapers on Hansom cab horses), and made some classic verbal gaffes. What he said yesterday was particularly rich. Through rain, snow, sleet, or hail, only Congressman Danny Davis can stop the U.S. Mail, according to Natarus, who used Davis' position on a congressional postal committee to explain both his support of Todd Stroger for Cook County Board President, and his commentary of the work ethic of postal workers. Which, if not maliciously racist, was at the very least insensitive on so many levels Chicagoist's head hasn't stopped spinning. It's like justifying having a cat as a pet because a dog would lay around and lick himself all day.

Then we have Alderman Ed Burke, who gave his approval to a watered-down ban on trans fats, this ban targeting only companies with at least $20 million in annual gross sales. In other words, only the fast food and "T.G.I. ChiliBennigan's" chains. 'Cause, you know, deep-frying that Filet-O-Fish in virgin olive oil is really going to stop customers from wanting the large fries and Coke.

The watered-down ban will no longer hurt the smaller restaurants, but if it passes, the economic implications could rival the proposed "big box ban", aimed at forcing retail giants like Wal-Mart and Target to pay their employees a living wage, if they want to have a presence in the city limits. While Chicagoist commends Burke for having the long-term health of the city's population in mind, a ban on trans fat cooking oils should be way down on the list of things on which he and the other members of the City Council should be concentrating. For example, will someone please pick up our garbage tomorrow?

"Natarus as a witch" photo courtesy of swanksalot.