Baby Talk

It’s not as if I don’t care if baby bottles contain toxic chemicals. I do. A lot.

But I’m constantly amazed at the number of issues aldermen find time to research, hold hearings on, and draft legislation for that is beyond the ken of the job as if they have nothing else to do, like, say, perform oversight duties on City Hall or focus like a laser on development, crime, schools and the other basics that continue to be neglected in ward after ward.

So yes, I care about babies. Really, I do. But when I received this e-mail from my alderman, Manny Flores (1st), I had to wonder: Is this his job? Does he work for the EPA or the attorney general’s office? Why isn’t he holding hearings instead on Mayor Daley’s abuse of power? Or maybe more to the point, on the instability of Wicker Park’s business strip on Milwaukee Avenue since gentrification wiped out family businesses and brought us boutiques, bars and restaurants with shelf lives of six months each? Or about ways to maintain affordable artist housing in the neighborhood? Or about the totally inappropriate dog park in tiny Wicker Park – the actual park – that aggravates all of us who live across the street? Or, more importantly, how to implement actual community policing in the ward?

I mean, yes, I don’t want to see babies harmed, but I sense there is a long list of toxins anyone could pick and campaign against. City Hall could put together a nice effort here along with its health and environment departments. But why is Manny Flores spending his time on this one?

Here is the e-mail:

Dear Neighbors,

I am writing you today about a very important issue that I expect will be addressed by the Chicago City Council early next month.

In recent months, my staff and I have done a great deal of research regarding a toxic chemical known as bisphenol A, or BPA. This chemical is found in many products, most notably baby bottles. According to a growing number of experts, exposure to BPA can cause developmental disorders and chronic diseases in children and adults.

Again, don’t get me wrong, but is this what he and his staff should be spending time researching instead of, oh, I don’t know, call me crazy, but . . . the mayor’s budget?

As a parent of a young child and an elected official, I find this information deeply troubling. In May, Ald. Edward Burke and I introduced a proposal to enact a citywide ban on children’s products that contain BPA.

Of course, Ed Burke, resident busybody. More micro-legislation than any city council member in history.

To learn more, you can tune in to CBS Channel 2 tomorrow at 6 a.m. to listen to me discuss this issue on their morning broadcast.

Of course! The well-timed media hit.

A hearing on this proposal has been scheduled for 10 a.m. on Tuesday, July 8 at City Hall. We’re putting together a team of doctors, experts and parents to explain to the committee just why this ban is so important. If you are a parent or if you represent a community group and you’re interested in joining us, we welcome your help and participation.

And if politically advantageous, council members will actually show up for this committee meeting.

We know that certain special interest groups, particularly the chemical industry and their lobbyists, are going to oppose our efforts to ensure the safety of our children and loved ones. That means it’s going to be up to all of us to win this battle.

I’m sure they will too, and I’m sure they’re evil, but this sounds like pure political grandstanding.

We know this can be done. Many well-known companies including Wal-Mart, Toys “R” Us, Whole Foods Market, Nalgene, Patagonia, and others have gone BPA-free in response to health warnings and pressure from consumers.

So . . . maybe a dog-and-pony show isn’t even needed. Or maybe the city’s health department could handle this.

If you live in the ward, please call our offices at (773) 278-0101 to express your support, or to get involved in this important work.

If you live outside the ward, please contact your alderman before July 1 and tell them that this legislation is important to you and that you want your elected officials to support it.

But when it comes to the mayor’s wacky schemes, don’t say a thing!


Manny Flores
Alderman, 1st Ward

Well played, Manny. After this, let’s get back to work on declaring every day Mom and Apple Pie Day in Chicago. Maybe after that there will be time for hearings on police torture, the city’s fraudulent hiring schemes, who screwed up the CTA Superstation, the bulldozing of Meigs Field, the boondoggle that is O’Hare expansion, the finances of the mayor’s family, the 1995 heat wave, the real costs of the Olympics, and what the hell is going on in our police department.


4 responses to “Baby Talk

  1. Look, if the Mayor is going to introduce all of the legislation and tell the council how do vote, that leaves the Aldercreatures plenty of time to do the research on issues like this.

  2. uh, how *to* vote, that is…

  3. I thought the same thing when I saw the Alderman on TV t his morning. It’s an important issue, but one I think we should take up with our Senators. Althou, if he could at least get stores to put signs up that says, “These bottles may contain PBA…” I’d go for that. Not all bottles labeled with 7 have PBA, but all PBA containing bottles will be labeled with a 7.

  4. Q: What is Ald. Flores to do while waiting for Cong. Gutierrez to finally retire?

    A: Bring federal issues to the city council. Duh.

    If that’s your only platform, make use of it. God forbid he actually do the job he was elected to do when there is so much more posturing to be done in advance of the election in 2010.

    Better get used to it 1st warders.

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