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Emanuel Tries to Clear Out Pigeons Occupying Daley Plaza

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Emanuel Tries to Clear Out Pigeons Occupying Daley Plaza

*Note: the following is a piece of satire.

With the G-8 coming to Chicago soon, Mayor Rahm Emanuel wants his city look spic-and-span for the world’s financial elite. The mayor is not happy about the pigeons that congregate in Daley Plaza, so he ordered the police department to chase them out. Early last Sunday morning, dozens of cops ran through the plaza, flapping their arms and screeching like hawks. The pigeons flew away and roosted on the eaves of the Chicago Temple. But Monday morning, they were back, scarfing up bread crumbs dropped by passersby.

“Theresa, how can we get rid of these things?” the mayor fretted to his chief of staff. “When David Cameron and Nicholas Sarkozy and Silvio Berlusconi come to town, the last thing I want them to see are a lot of dirty, freeloading creatures camping out on the city’s front doorstep.”

“You may have to negotiate with them,” the chief of staff said. “Find them a place where they can make their nests and count on a steady supply of crumbs.”

The mayor agreed that this was the best plan. With two bodyguards accompanying him, he walked over to the plaza, and addressed the first pigeon he saw.

“I want to talk to the pigeon in charge of this gathering,” the mayor said. “Who’s the number one bird out here?”

“What do you mean, who’s the number one bird?” the pigeon asked. “We’re a flock. We all just sort of move together.”

“Well, there must be someone in charge of the flock, someone who decides where it moves,” the mayor said. “I’m in charge of the flock of people you see walking through here every day. I’m just looking for my counterpart.”

“Why are you in charge of all the people?” the pigeon asked.

“Well,” the mayor said, “let me put it in a way you might understand. What’s the most valuable thing to a pigeon?”

“A bread crumb,” the pigeon said. “I thought that’s why you were coming over here. To give me a bread crumb.”

“Exactly,” the mayor said. “A bread crumb. Now, imagine one of the pigeons in this plaza had millions and millions of bread crumbs. Wouldn’t everyone look up to him?”

“No,” the pigeon said. “Why would you collect millions of bread crumbs and just let them sit there? They’d get moldy. If you see a bread crumb, you eat it.”

“Well, OK, maybe that’s not the best analogy,” Emanuel said. “What about nests? Which one of these pigeons has the biggest nest?”

“We’re all the same size, so we all have the same size nest,” the pigeon said. “Why would you need a nest bigger than you, your mate and your eggs? You’d waste a lot of time collecting twigs.”

"Well, then, maybe there’s a pigeon with more than one nest, and people look up to him. I myself have homes here in Chicago and in Washington, D.C. My dear friend Penny Pritzker has a mansion in Lincoln Park and a cottage in New Buffalo. Surely, you have a place in Florida for when you fly south for the winter.”

“We’re rock doves,” the pigeon said. “We don’t migrate. I’m sorry to inform you that every pigeon has the exact same number of dwellings. One percent of the pigeons live in one percent of the nests. That’s it.”

“What motivation do you have to better yourselves, if the most successful pigeons don’t get the most crumbs and the biggest nests?”

“What do you mean, better ourselves?” the pigeon responded. “We’re just trying to survive.”

“What I came here to talk to you about is your habit of congregating in this plaza,” Emanuel said. “We have some very important guests coming to the city, and it looks bad to have you here. I’d appreciate it if you’d fly somewhere else -- like New York City.”

“We come here because this is where you people eat lunch, and drop your bread crumbs. If you want us to go away, you’re going to have to tell people to stop feeding us.”

Emanuel went back to City Hall, where he again met with his chief of staff.

“We’ve created a cycle of dependency for these pigeons,” he fretted. “They spend their entire lives looking for handouts from members of a higher species. Giving them a public space and free crumbs isn’t the answer. There’s only way to deal with these lazy anarcho-syndicalists.”

“What’s that?”

“This weekend, I want every pigeon who refuses to leave Daley Plaza arrested and locked in a cage.”  

Buy this book! Ward Room blogger Edward McClelland's book, Young Mr. Obama: Chicago and the Making of a Black President , is available Amazon. Young Mr. Obama includes reporting on President Obama's earliest days in the Windy City, covering how a presumptuous young man transformed himself into presidential material. Buy it now!

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