Not all workplace incidents end up as a workers' compensation claim. Some don't end up injuring anything other than one's pride, and fortunately to date, pride is not yet something considered compensable in most states. That will probably change once first responders' figure that out, but that is not the point of the discussion today. No, today we are talking about a politician and a very special pigeon; a pigeon who did something many residents of Illinois would love to do.
He crapped on the elected representative while he was being interviewed for television. Even more apropos, the politician was talking about the issue of pigeons being a nuisance at a local transit station when the flyby pooping occurred. I'm still not sure if the pigeon was making a statement about the transit station issue, or a broader comment about politics in Illinois. I suspect it was the latter.
It seems that the birds are a chronic issue at the Chicago area Irving Park Blue Line station. Commuters have been complaining about waste and feathers constantly covering areas where commuters have to walk. State Rep. Jaime Andrade told Chicago's CBS 2 that he has been trying to fix the problem for some time. For instance, last year he told a woman to stop feeding the pigeons.
Apparently, that did not do the trick.
He then tried to get money to remove the birds, and inadvertently wound up displaying the myopic and dysfunctional processes of Illinois' political machine. He started by requesting a specific line item in the state budget for $6,000,000 for the “Irving Park Blue Line.” According to News 2, that station is “in the middle of the Kennedy Expressway and has a grade-level entrance. The underpass where the pigeons hang out is not part of it.” The area in question is under the jurisdiction of the Illinois Department of Transportation, and the sidewalk below “that serves as the pigeons' toilet” is the responsibility of the City of Chicago.
The money couldn't be spent on that area. So now, instead of pigeon abatement, the station will be getting some very fancy $6,000,000 escalators for the pigeons to poop on. That is what the transit authority decided to do with the money. I'm sure a few taxpayers would like to follow that pigeons lead about now.
Representative Andrade was discussing the issue with CBS 2's news reporter on camera when this workplace assault occurred. He was talking about what a nuisance the birds were when one apparently swooped in low, pressed a button and dropped his load. Andrade had an honest response to the incident, saying “That's what happens to my constituents. They get shit on all the time.”
Welcome to the Land of Lincoln. Or maybe that is Lincoln logs. Whatever.
I do suspect he was talking about the birds. I think that in Illinois, a state with high taxes, an out of control budget and one of the most difficult workers' comp systems in the nation, most people thought that statement applied in a much broader sense. They didn't think he was talking about the stupid birds.
I find it ironic that a state could even intend to spend $6,000,000 to get rid of pigeons at one transit station when a city like Los Angeles won't spend a dime* to take care of 50,000 homeless people camping on their streets. Those homeless people, incidentally, also crap on the sidewalk, so the issue is really more similar than you might have thought. But I digress….
So, it turns out this is more than a story about one transit station's issues. It is a story about workplace violence. About bureaucratic incompetence and government waste. About blame and finger pointing while nothing gets accomplished. And about one disgruntled pigeon acting out on behalf of an entire state. If you really think about it, the citizens of Illinois should erect a statue in that pigeon's honor.
Then homeless people could poop on it. How is that for irony?
In the end, we are fortunate that no one was injured in what was, for the politician, an assault while on the job. It could have been much worse. It could have been a much bigger pigeon.
*Note from Bob: I've been chastised on LinkedIn for the comment regarding Los Angelinos "not spending a dime" to help the homeless there. In reality they are committing hundreds of millions of dollars to the problem. A $1.2 billion dollar bond was approved almost 4 years ago for the issue (that is 12 billion dimes, in my estimation), and a 1/4% sales tax was approved in 2017 for services to the homeless. I should make the clarification that they are outspending the Chicago pigeon problem by a huge amount. The return they are getting on their investment, however, is probably a topic for another day....
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Robert Wilson is President & CEO of WorkersCompensation.com, and "From Bob's Cluttered Desk" comes his (often incoherent) thoughts, ramblings, observations and rants - often on workers' comp or employment issues, but occasionally not.
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