Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Chicken Dancing

Despite the fears, nearby Cedar Rapids' experiment with urban chickens hasn't fowled up the community.  In its first year of chicken lawfulness, 28 households have sought permits to raise chickens within the city.  Since then, 9 households let their permits lapse and an additional two new permits have been taken out this year.  Additionally, there have been only two chicken-related complaints since the urban chicken law went into effect and both of those complaints came from the same address:
Diane Webber, the manager of the city’s Animal Care and Control Division, told the council committee that her office has received one call about a “stray” chicken and one call which turned up a household with 40 chickens being kept in a garage. The owner reduced the number to six, she said.
There has been more recent complaints about a rooster somewhere in the city.  After "two solid months" of early-morning rooster crowing in Cedar Rapids' west side, things have finally settled.  It should be noted that it is not permitted for urban chicken owners to raise roosters within city limits.

There were concerns early on that allowing chickens in Iowa City would cause chaos and mayhem.  People -- including me! -- worried that chickens would be running rampant, that the city would reek of chicken feces, that loose dogs would raid chicken coops, that urban chicken farmers would prove to be neglectful, etc., etc...  So far, the urban chicken farmers are showing the rest of us that our fears were largely exaggerated.

Speaking of urban chickens, Iowa City had its primary election a couple weeks back for the two available at-large city council seats.  One of the four who made it through the primary was small business owner and urban chicken proponent, Jerrett Mitchell:
Downtown coffee shop owner Mitchell, 33, took the fourth spot with 14 percent of the vote, just 17 votes ahead of McCallum. Mitchell said he’ll continue to discuss the issues important to him, like urban chickens and promoting a bicycle-friendly community, but he acknowledged the top finishers in the primary typically get elected to council.

“I kind of feel like that’s probably going to happen, but we’ll keep plugging away,” he said.
Speaking of Jarrett Mitchell, local blogger John Deeth recently reported the following campaign strategy for Mitchell:
In an unusual move, Jarrett Mitchell, the distant fourth place finisher in last week's primary, is openly campaigning for what we in local parlance call "bullet votes" in the city election.

"VOTE ONLY FOR JARRETT MITCHELL ON NOVEMBER 8TH" reads the footer below a YouTube video claiming that the famous Black Angel tombstone is supporting Mitchell.

While the dead are only allowed to vote in Chicago, Iowa voters in an election where you can vote for more than one candidate are indeed free to vote for just one. But campaigns that encourage the tactic usually do it subtly and below the radar. Voters who choose the tactic, in order to "be sure" their first choice wins, run the risk of seeing their second choice lose to their last choice.
Speaking of urban chickens and Chicago, my friend Andrew Marin was apparently visiting the 2011 Memphis Gay Pride event this past weekend and spreading his "I'm Sorry" message to the participants.  I followed his activities from time to time over the weekend via Twitter, but my favorite part of his Memphis trip was a picture of him and a more unique form of urban chicken: a rainbow-dressed gay chicken.

Andrew: "Me & the gay chicken on Beale St at Memphis Pride".

Me: "@Andrew_Marin Gay chicken????"

Andrew: "@JonTrouten I don't know? The chicken has a rainbow sash on :)"

That chicken costume made my weekend and sometimes you just have to love the little stuff.

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