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Editorial: Mayor Lightfoot, demand safety equipment now for Chicago’s dangerous lakefront

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Most Chicago mayors face a moment when they just need to get something done. Right now.

Never mind lawyers worrying about liability, or kvetching over what behavior is or is not encouraged, or existing city regulations, or the nervous passing of the buck to different city departments. A great mayor knows when all of that has to be ignored. A great mayor understands the arrival of a moment when a few overcompensated heads have to be knocked together and the boss has to say, in essence, “Thanks for your thoughts but enough, now. If y’all want to keep your jobs, you need to make this happen in hours, not weeks.”

The absurd furor over whether or not the Chicago Park District should be installing safety equipment along the lakefront in the long-suffering neighborhood of Rogers Park is precisely one of those moments.

Let’s start with one simple truth here. Teenagers and tweens have been swimming illegally in Lake Michigan throughout the history of Chicago.

They slip into the cool water on the North Side, the South Side, at “the ledge” in Lincoln Park or wherever else they think no one is watching. They do so in the middle of the day in unauthorized areas, and they do so on beaches under the cover of darkness when no lifeguard is on duty.

Is this smart behavior? Absolutely not. With its pernicious currents and hidden dangers, Lake Michigan always has exacted a toll in lives lost, especially of the city’s precious, talented young people.

One such loss........

© Chicago Tribune

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