Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Foie humbug: Daley mocks ban

Foie humbug: Daley mocks ban
August 23, 2006

Mayor Daley urged the City Council on Tuesday to come to its senses and repeal a foie gras ban that has made Chicago an international laughingstock in restaurant circles.

"Why would they pick this and not anything else? How about veal? How about chicken? How about steak -- beef? . . . Where do you begin and where do you end? People say veal is basically cruelty to animals. I mean -- you could go on and on," Daley said.

"They have to re-evaluate this. . . . They should come together and figure out what they've done and realize that it's a silly law. . . . It's the silliest law they've ever passed. . . . If there's five or six restaurants [that sell foie gras] and we think that's the highest priority in city government, they've lost sight of what priorities are about."

Won't push for enforcement

Daley also said he's not about to direct city health inspectors to rush out and enforce the ban that took effect Tuesday. "We have other real issues confronting the people of Chicago," he said.

The mayor also cast doubt on how vigorously city attorneys would defend the ordinance against a lawsuit filed Tuesday by the Illinois Restaurant Association and a group known as "Chicago Chefs for Choice."

"When you pass laws that are silly, it costs taxpayers money. [Aldermen are saying] 'I don't care if it's unconstitutional. Let's pass it.' If that's the way government keeps working, then it costs taxpayers more and more money," he said.

"Restaurants are a great industry . . . All of a sudden, you can question anything you serve in a restaurant -- the poor snails and the mussels and the shrimp, the lobsters. You can go on and on."

Ald. Joe Moore (49th) said the City Council has no plans to repeal the ban.

"The mayor had the opportunity to veto the ordinance. He chose not to. Let's move on," said Moore, chief sponsor of both the foie gras ban and a big-box ordinance now facing a historic mayoral veto.

"It's not as though we're alone on this issue. Ten European countries and the state of California have passed laws banning the manufacture and sale of foie gras. We're kind of catching up with the rest of the civilized world," Moore said.

If Daley were truly concerned about wasting taxpayers' money on legal fees, Moore said he would abandon his efforts to overturn the Shakman decree banning political hiring -- even after his former patronage chief and three others were convicted of rigging city hiring.

Moore: Daley must enforce it

As for the mayor's threat to be less than vigorous in enforcing a ban he has ridiculed from day one, Moore said, "It is the chief executive's responsibility to enforce every law that's passed by the City Council. He can't pick and choose which laws to enforce and which laws not to enforce. That's not the way our democracy works. I know the president of the United States has that attitude. But I would hope the mayor doesn't have that attitude."


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