CHICAGO (CBS) — Talk about dumb luck during a Morning Insiders interview – near a very busy Chicago Transit Authority stop nicknamed the “pigeon poop station.”
While we were shooting a follow-up story about the problems at the station, the unthinkable happened. CBS 2’s Lauren Victory was talking with a lawmaker who was fighting to fix the problem, and he fell victim to it right when the cameras were rolling.
That’s right, a pigeon relieved itself on state Rep. Jaime Andrade (D-Chicago) right on cue as he spoke.
Andrade had just been badmouthing the pigeons.
“I’ll just have to go clean up,” he said. “That’s what happens to my constituents. They get s**t on all time.”
Not to be crass but #IL lawmaker talking to me about feces, feathers & filth fell victim to culprit during our #MorningInsiders interview. Ew! @cbschicago caught it all on camera. At 6AM, hear more about Rep's years-long quest to fix bird issue at @cta #irvingpark stop pic.twitter.com/CntCAEGH19
— LAUREN VICTORY (@LaurenVictory) September 16, 2019
Birds are a chronic problem around the Irving Park Blue Line station. Their waste and feathers constantly coat the path commuters take – including suburbanites and tourists who use the nearby Metra stop.
“It’s not funny at all when you have pets at home and you have to keep your shoes away from them,” CTA rider Derek Barthel said in our earlier report on this subject back in August.
Barthel complained to CBS 2 about the filth six weeks ago.
“They washed it as result of the first news story, and then nothing at all happened,” Barthel said more recently. “There was no washings in between then and month later when I complained again on social media.”
Andrade said he has been trying to fix the problem. On Facebook Live last year, he questioned a woman feeding the pigeons at Irving Park and told her not to do it.
Also in 2018, Andrade fought for a specific line item in the state budget.
“This is the mistake, when I said literally $6 million for Irving Park Blue Line,” he said.
The Blue Line station is in the middle of the Kennedy Expressway and has a grade-level entrance. The underpass where the pigeons hang out is not part of it.
It is, in fact, under the jurisdiction of the Illinois Department of Transportation. The sidewalk below that serves as the pigeons’ toilet is the responsibility of the City of Chicago.
“The funds are for the CTA Blue Line, and so probably, and with the funds where it came from can only be used for construction,” Andrade said.
Victory asked Andrade if he needed to be more specific when asking for the line item.
“Well, not just more specific,” he replied. “The bonds for that project cannot be used for pigeon abatement.”
Instead, that money Andrade fought for was voted on at a Regional Transportation Authority Finance Committee meeting three weeks ago. Members approved its use on new escalators at the Irving Park stop.
“Who knows when they would’ve gotten that money,” Andrade said. “So I’m hoping that they see that it’s a benefit to them, and for the community, that they should also help me out with this situation.”
So will the CTA cough up any cash for pigeon problems at the station? Media representatives did not directly answer the question, but pointed to netting and spikes in front of CTA entrances.
Victory noted that some of the netting looks a little rickety.
“Now I have to come up with new money,” he said.
Andrade said he is going back to the drawing board. But first, he needs to hit the shower after being pooped on.
The state representative has some other ideas, including asking the CTA to install a hose line for power washing when they use his money to construct escalators. He also wonders if the city can create a viaduct-cleaning jobs reentry program for people who just got released from prison.
Additionally, Andrade said he is looking into getting corporate sponsors to pay up.