Walter Burnett, alderman of the 27th Ward, is earnest and straightforward. Or maybe he needs a filter.
On Wednesday, during a license committee meeting consideration of a proposal to allow dogs at outdoor cafes, Burnett was skeptical of warnings from a health department official that it would not be "the best public health practice and creates a greater risk of causing people illness."
"Having a chair outside or a table outside to the elements, who's to say what it's exposed to, just in general, with birds flying and whatever?" Burnett said. "I was at an outdoor cafe over on Addison Street, and as we sat down to eat, everyone walked past with their dogs and they stopped and talked, and the dogs were right there. They might not have been in the sidewalk cafe, but they were right there in the vicinity. I mean, when you're outside, you're outside. You're exposed to everything. I mean, a cat could run past--whatever the case may be. You've got homeless people who may come past. . . . Not to say homeless people may carry some of that, but the elements are there. I mean, it's hard to put the emphasis on that. Some people keep their dogs cleaner than people. You go to pet shops, and some people are spending a lot of money on their dogs, washing and drying and perfuming them."
The committee didn't act on the proposal.