June 22, 2016



How does one tell the difference between gravity and frivolity? The Chicago City Council is a superb yardstick.

The agenda of the council's June 22 meeting will ensure a descent into the abyss of frivolity and stupidity. At that session, the council is scheduled to address such momentous matters as transgender or any gender access to public restrooms, along with a mandated "poop patrol," with a swarm of inspectors empowered to find dog droppings on private property, bag them, ascertain the DNA, do a dog swab, and levy a fine of $500. The "right to choose" ordinance mandates that anyone, any time, can use any public facility restroom anywhere, even if they're not transgender. Under the strict language of the bill, schools and churches are not exempted.

Never mind that Chicago has a 2016 budget deficit of more than $250 million, that the city's pension shortfall is $11.5 billion, that bonded indebtedness is $20 billion, that property taxes are approaching intolerable levels, that there have been 309 homicides since Jan. 1 and a shooting almost every day, that there is a shortage of police officers, and that the media constantly highlight "inappropriate" police responses. Those problems are grave.

Shame on Chicago. Is this government in action? "We need more police officers on the street, and they want to waste money on this nonsense," fumed Alderman Anthony Napolitano (41st). Napolitano said that those funds could be spent to hire and train 100 cops.

"They want to spend millions of dollars and hire hundreds of people to check Chicagoans' back yards and monitor restroom access or non-access," Napolitano said. "And I became an alderman to do this?"

The "right to choose" ordinance, sponsored by Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Alderman Ed Burke (14th) and the five gay or lesbian aldermen, is vague and innocuous. It is brought under the penumbra of "discriminatory practices" in "public accommodations," and it has the potential for major mischief. It decrees the "full use" of restrooms, which are a public accommodation, by all, regardless of the usual race, color, religion, age, gender, sexual orientation, etc., but it adds a new category: gender identity.

Here's the language: ". . . 'sex' includes both biological category and gender identity. Each person determines his or her own gender identity; no proof shall be required except his or her expression of his or her gender." In effect, it de-privatizes and de-criminalizes women's restrooms. Under current law, if a man goes into the ladies' room, he can be charged with disorderly conduct, loitering or lewd behavior. Not under this ordinance; all he need utter are the three magic words: "I'm a woman."

Alderman Nick Sposato (38th) has no quarrel with transsexuals, whom he estimates to be or roughly one in 500 of Chicago's LGBT population, which is somewhere around 300,000. "I can understand why a transsexual man, dressed as a woman, would be fearful of using the men's room," Sposato said. "It's uncomfortable and unsafe." However, he opposes the ordinance because of what he calls the "knucklehead factor." He said that there will be drunks, smart-ass teenagers, sexual predators, voyeurs and exposers using women's rooms, because now they can. "The point of allowing transgender men into the women's room is to protect them, and now we're making women's rooms a dangerous place, both uncomfortable and unsafe."

"I asked one of the sponsors why there shouldn't be some protections built into the measure," Napolitano, the father of two young daughters and a former police officer and firefighter, said. "I would fear for their safety." He said there should be some oversight, such as in-restroom time limits, loitering bans and removal of known sex offenders and voyeurs. "He said put it in an ordinance, I have no objection. I said no, you put it in your ordinance." Napolitano, along with Alderman David Moore (17th), provided the two votes against the ordinance when hearings were held before the Human Relations Committee on June 7, with five votes in support.

When an ordinance is approved by a committee, it comes before the full council at the next regular session, and, along with dozens of other ordinances, is approved by a mere voice vote unless an alderman objects. Then the whole council must vote. Moore promised to object on June 22.

The most pernicious aspect of the transgender ordinance is that there is no regulation or sanctions, no Transportation Security Administration-like entity (maybe create a Restroom Security Administration) to control restroom access, the owner or operator of a commercial establishment faces restroom anarchy. If a bunch of drunk or lewd guys stake out a women's room in a bar, professing to be women, and the owner tries to remove them, the owner can be hauled before the city Human Rights Commission, charged with discrimination, and face a year of hearings and possible fines. Calling the police is fruitless.

Exempted from the ordinance are only facilities "not in fact open to the public," including private clubs and health clubs, and those with shower rooms, dressing rooms, locker rooms or sleeping rooms. No commercial enterprise open to public access is exempted, nor is the Chicago Public Schools system.

The motivating force behind the ordinance is the city's lesbian/gay/bisexual/transgender coalition, and it is a politically potent part of the Democratic base, both in terms of votes as well as donations. It is estimated that the transgender population of America's gay population is estimated at 5 five percent, with most of them concentrated in urban areas. Chicago's gay population is 3.8 percent, according to a Gallup survey.

The media often deride the Republicans because they supposedly pander to their base, who are cultural conservatives (anti-abortion, anti-gay marriage) and pro-gun rights. They need to constantly throw them some proverbial "red meat" in order to keep them energized. Likewise, the Democrats have to keep their base of feminists, gays, minorities and liberals both pacified and energized. They have done so by perpetually agitating for "rights." First it was voting rights, then civil rights, arrestee's rights, women's rights, gay rights (and marriage), disabled rights, animal rights, prisoners' rights, immigrant rights and now gender identity rights. When each milestone of "freedom" is attained or perceived to have been attained, a new cause must be unveiled. That is the nature of "progressive" politics. Of course, crime victims' rights or gun owners' rights are not part of that agenda.

In Chicago, the annual gay pride parade draws more than one million participants and viewers. An estimated 75,000 of the city's 1,514,912 registered voters are gay. Now that gay marriage is a fait accompli, Democratic politicians need more "red meat" to keep their gay base energized, and "restroom choice" is that issue. President Barack Obama recently issued an executive order mandating "gender identity" access to all restroom in federal buildings and empowering the U.S. Department of Justice to sue any state for "human rights" which, by gubernatorial edict or state law, contradicts that edict. In May the U.S. House defeated a bill making Obama's order a federal law by a one-vote margin. At some point, the right of states to restrict "gender identity" rights will be addressed by the U.S. Supreme Court.

"Gay rights" is not an interparty issue. The vast majority of gays vote Democratic, and they perceive the Republicans as hostile. It's more of an intraparty cultural divide among the Democrats, pitting the more conservative white ethnics, as well as the more religious-inclined blacks and Hispanics, against the gay agenda. In fact, the most vociferous foe of the Chicago ordinance is Moore, who represents the predominantly black Southwest Side 17th Ward and who has been consistently anti-Emanuel.

Five of the ordinance's seven sponsors are gay, Tom Tunney of the Wrigleyville 44th Ward, Deb Mell of the Albany Park 33rd Ward, James Cappleman of the Uptown 46th Ward, and two aldermen who were elected in 2015, Raymond Lopez of the South Side 15th Ward and Carlos Ramirez-Rosa of the North Side 35th Ward. The city's gay base expects them to be proactive on gay issues.

Emanuel won re-election in 2015 by 73,609 votes, and he got the vast majority of the gay vote. Significantly, in the March presidential primary, the five North Lakefront wards with the largest gay populations, the 42nd, 43rd, 44th, 46th and 48th, were won by Hillary Clinton, not Bernie Sanders, and it appears that the gay vote gave Clinton her victory margins. It is plausible to conclude that gays base their vote more on cultural and symbolic issues (like a woman as president) than economic issues and are less inclined to subscribe to Sanders' income redistribution notions. As a political power, LGBT has arrived.

Welcome to Chicago, that mecca of progress, where residential property taxes will increase by 13 percent this year, with restrooms de-criminalized and back yards criminalized.

Send e-mail to russ@russstewart. com or visit his Web site at www. russstewart.com.