As Chicago-area birders already know, there are many places that are now off-limits to birders due to alleged security concerns. For example, the idiots at the MWRD, lead by Board President Terry "The Lyin' King" O'Brien, think that birdwatchers are part of a global conspiracy to blow up Chicago's valuable and seemingly inexhaustible supply of sewage sludge. (Question: How do you know when a Chicago Machine politician is lying to you? Answer: His lips are moving!) Anyway, we here at BINAC are preparing to turn up the heat on the MWRD, and on the world in general, in a defense of the Bill of Rights and of our "Right to Bird."
We are working on several stories, and would like to hear from any of our readers that have been affected by security issues at the 130th Street sludge pits or at the O'Hare Ponds. We would also be interested in hearing from any birders in other parts of the country who have had similar problems. Now, I'm not talking about common-sense precautions, like barring strangers from visiting water filtration plants or nuclear facilities, I'm talking about the really stupid stuff...sewage sludge pits, post office parking lots, closing down bathrooms at the local dump, etc etc. Post a comment or e-mail me at email@example.com
In case you're wondering what you actually do if you're lucky enough to be elected as a Commissioner of the MWRD, here's a hint (taken from www.russstewart.com):
Every 2 years, while a flock of obscure politicians battle tempestuously for the posts -- which pay $45,000 annually, have a large office staff, require attendance at two meetings per month, and oversee an annual budget of $750 million -- the voting public pays scant attention. In these Democratic primaries, it's the blind leading the blind. Voters have no idea who they're voting for, so "random factors" like ballot position, gender, race, ethnicity and election day palm card endorsements usually trump qualifications, media endorsements, incumbency or being slated by the county Democratic organization. Also, an Irish surname is especially helpful.
Why all this interest in an obscure job? The district employs 2,400 people to manage its water treatment operations, but most are covered by civil service, so commissioners cannot build a precinct army. But there are nearly 100 summer jobs, dozens of temporary jobs and gigantic helpings of contractual pork. The "Deep Tunnel" project, to alleviate water pollution and prevent flooding, has a price tag of $3.2 billion, and it is the president and general superintendent who decide which contractors get picked. And those contractors are expected to donate liberally to Mayor Rich Daley and his anointed Democratic candidates. The current president, Terry O'Brien, and the current superintendent, Jack Farnan, are Daley loyalists. In fact, Farnan grew up in Bridgeport, in Daley's 11th Ward.