Damned if you do, damned if you don't.
This popular idiom was never more true, and more dramatic, than in Chicago this
week for City Clerk Susana Mendoza.
"They told me, 'You have nothing to worry about,'" according to City Clerk
spokesperson Kristine Williams who was advised there was no basis for the
story by school officials.
"The Chicago Police Department and the Crime Commission both said we have
to take this seriously," explained Williams. "At this point we had
hundreds of phone calls from people telling our office they were not going
to put a city sticker with gang symbols on their car."
The Clerk, communicating with school officials throughout the entire
dilemma, tried to connect with Pulgar before the announcement to
personally explain her decision but was told by Lawrence Hall officials, "'Herbie is too emotionally distraught,'" according to Williams.
Winston Churchill once said, "A lie gets halfway around the world before
the truth has a chance to get its pants on."
Nearly a century later, with the world moving at internet speed, the "gang
banger city sticker" urban legend may never be scraped from the windshield
of Chicago folklore.
"There was no other option," explained Williams firmly. "She had to make
this decision. This comes down to public safety. We had the girlfriend of
a gang member call us to thank us because she said her boyfriend would
have been shot for having that city sticker on his car's windshield."
Since the decision, the Clerk announced she believes Pulgar is still
entitled to the prize that comes with winning the contest and will pay for the
$1000 savings bond personally.
In the meantime, the Clerk's office has reached out multiple times to try
setting up a face-to-face meeting with Pulgar to explain why she had made
It is very likely, based on information from our police sources, Mendoza did the
kid a favor by being firm and decisive.
If the controversy played out a few days or weeks longer, even more
damning evidence about Pulgar may have come out, making things even worse
for the boy.
Williams is right, there were was no other choice.
But that's the problem of being a leader. There's always someone who's
going to be unhappy with the tough decisions they have to make. Because
you see, leaders don't have the luxury of writing about something after
the fact. Leaders actually have to make decisions and sometimes, even the
right decisions can be painful.
In Chicago and Illinois, political leaders have spent decades putting off
making difficult decisions and we can see where that has brought us--a
city drowning in debt and a state with the worst credit rating in the
nation and literally, verging on financial collapse.
Mendoza deserves credit for bucking this spineless trend and for having
the guts to make the correct, but polarizing decision.
"She's very upset about it," Williams says softly. "This was not an easy
decision for her."
Armchair quarterbacking the head coach when the game is over is easy.
But there's a problem with using a sports analogy here.
Because in this case, unfortunately there are no winners.
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