Updated: December 8, 2012 6:35AM
Chicago Ald. Matt O’Shea (19th) did all he could to prevent the return of the South Side Irish St. Patrick’s Day Parade last March. He opposed the city issuing a parade permit, expecting to stop it because of the city’s long tradition of deferring to an alderman’s wishes on issues in his ward.
When the city awarded the permit, an irate O’Shea wrote a letter to Mayor Rahm Emanuel, trying to get him to rescind it and predicting doom. He said drunken rowdies would again ruin it for everyone else, which is what led to the parade being canceled after 2009.
And in an email to ward residents, O’Shea criticized the parade committee’s plan for tighter security as “well-intentioned but terribly insufficient and very difficult to execute.”
When March’s parade turned out to be an overwhelming success, with much praise for the organizers and only one reported arrest, O’Shea conceded that he was wrong and commended the committee for its efforts in making the parade “everything we had hoped it would be.”
Seemed like all was good, and the committee had devised a plan to ensure a safe, successful parade going forward. But O’Shea apparently isn’t yet willing to give up his doomsayer role.
He introduced an ordinance last week to prevent the parade from being, in his words, “hijacked by idiots.” It would impose much higher fines for anyone drinking alcohol ($500 rather than $100) or urinating in public ($1,000 instead of $500) within 200 feet of the parade.
We don’t see the need for this law in light of the parade’s impressive return last spring, other than trying to boost O’Shea’s image. He said it’s necessary because the current fines are not enough to be an effective deterrent. Well, they seemed to work OK in March.
O’Shea also said law enforcement officials advised him of the need for the law because, without it, the hooligans would gradually take over the parade again and ruin it. We don’t see why that would be as long as the improved security from March remains in place.
The city council should reject the ordinance as unnecessary and excessive. And a guy named O’Shea should back off and just embrace a great South Side Irish tradition.