While the battle for Central Park’s carriage horses reached a nail-biting fever pitch at last night’s Victor de Souza fashion show,
Chicago’s woes seem to be simmering on the back burner. So far, the other side, both political and protester, seems eerily quiet.
But what we have faced is something more troubling.
Sure, I’ve talked to several people who’ve walked past the horses while mumbling “Poor horse” or “he seems tired.” I try to engage them in discussion, pointing out how lucky our horses are to have jobs which secure their continued existence, how relaxation does not equal exhaustion. The broken leg comments are simple–I find a person standing with their leg resting and point out how almost everyone stands this way sometimes.
Most insidious to me, however, are the complaints made by those who feel the horses infringe on their personal rights. Sound silly? Let me explain.
Occasionally I drive my horse down the old bridle paths into Lincoln Park to avoid the terrible traffic on Clark and Lasalle. The paths go beneath the street, wide enough for my carriage to share the way with pedestrians and bicyclists alike. Yet one day, a well dressed woman with an angry pinched face called the police on her cell phone to complain. I broke no laws, and I inconvenienced her not one whit. She was offended by sharing the way with someone she didn’t like.
Just a few short years ago, four separate carriage stands existed with signs designating them for carriages–now only Water Tower remains. With nowhere else for carriages to legally park, overcrowding can become an issue. A few residents of the neighboring condo find this intolerable because they cannot cross the street where they want. Walking 25 feet to either of the crosswalks is intolerable–so they call the Mayor. Yes, the Mayor.
If Mayor Rahm Emanuel has nothing better to do than crack down on the horse carriages because his friend can’t cross the street wherever he wants, then its no wonder Chicago has terrible violence and a suffering public school system. Our elected officials are being distracted to do favors for and address the complaints of personal friends and wealthy supporters.
What about the family with 2 children who beg down at Michigan Ave. and Ontario St? What about the mentally ill man incapacitated by his giant duct tape boots who sits at Michigan Ave. and Chestnut St? What about the man with no feet who sits at Rush St. and Walton St? What about the heroin addicted young couple who sit at Michigan Ave and Pearson St?
Don’t we have more important things to worry about? Why do the concerns of the wealthy and white privileged trump every other problem faced by the city? Seriously, does the placement of a few extra horse drawn carriages, or a lone carriage on a quiet path really deserve such hand-wringing and personal offense?