Chick-fil-A Zoning Decision is Wrong
I read once (and by read, I actually mean I watched it on the History Channel) that when Abraham Lincoln was angry at someone he would sit down, write out a letter to the transgressor, put the letter in an envelope and instead of mailing the envelope, he would put it in his desk drawer resolving to send the nasty letter the next day. He never mailed any of the letters.
A good practice I think. I have done it on occasion when I get angry at my wife. And so it was when I read (and this time I actually did read in a newspaper) that 1st Ward Alderman Proco “Joe” Moreno proudly decided not to approve a zoning change application so that Chick-fil-A, the curiously named Georgia fast food chain, could build a restaurant next to the Midtown Tennis Club on Elston, just northwest of Fullerton.
I could not believe it. I could not believe that we Chicago Democrats have become so politically correct that we would make or not make zoning changes based purely on the political orthodoxy of the day. I quickly typed out a op/ed piece and stuck it in my desk drawer (meaning I saved the document in my computer).
It was reported that our neighbor to the south refused a zoning change because Chick-fil-A President Dan Cathy expressed his opposition to same-sex marriage. Alderman Moreno’s July 26th blast e-mail suggested something slightly different.
The Alderman writes in the e-mail that in every meeting he had with Chick-fil-A over the last nine months, “they told [him] that they didn’t support anti-gay causes. Last week, the comments from the CEO of the company made it clear that they were lying to [his] face in every one of those meetings.” He goes on to write that he is a “staunch believer in equality. . . . [He’s] tired of self-professed ‘liberals’ who have no backbone and are all talk. Denying Chick-fil-A is taking a stand for what is right.”
Right? I don’t think so. It’s not right. It’s wrong. It doesn’t talk a federal judge to figure out the questionable legality of basing zoning change decisions on the political/religious comments by the CEO of an applicant’s franchisor. Last I heard, the First Amendment still applies in the 1st Ward.
Okay, I can understand the politics of it. One makes a stand to support a constituency and gets a splash in the paper. The Corporation Council lays it out for you and you cut a deal. I wasn’t born yesterday. I can see the politics driving this. Especially given our fellow democrat’s taste for the spotlight.
But really it’s bigger than that. Frankly, this makes all Chicagoans look intemperate, righteous, disrespectful and stupid. Not traits I particularly care to be associated with. This is just the sort of thing for which I have criticized our friends on the right who would deny rights to me and my neighbors based upon religious beliefs.
I want to keep the moral high ground in the struggle for freedom. We ought not punish our opposition for their religious views. It is unseemly. Imagine the well founded outrage if Wheaton denied a zoning change to a married gay couple and then argued it was the right thing to do. We ought to vanquish the enemies of freedom and justice with reason, kindness and respect.
Alderman Moreno this was not the right thing to do. It was wrong. Apologize and fix it. I want the moral high ground back.