Cats Saved by Illinois Governor
April 23, 2010

Stevenson Spared Illinois Scenes Like This

Adlai E. Stevenson

On this date in History:  Adlai Stevenson is well known as a two time presidential candidate nominee who lost on both occasions.  He was also the Ambassador to the United Nations during the Kennedy Administration.  Stevenson rose to prominence as the Governor of Illinois and was known for his wit as well as his legislative initiatives in the Land of Lincoln including improving education.   But, Stevenson’s greatest bit of executive prowess may have come with his opposition to Illinois Senate Bill number 93.

Bill Tips His Hat to Adlai

Officially, Senate Bill No. 93 had the title of  “An Act to Provide Protection to Insectivorous Birds by Restraining Cats.”  It became known unofficially as “the cat bill.”  Perhaps this is where Berkely Breathed got the inspiration to name one of his characters, “Bill the Cat.”  The bill called for fines on owners who let thier kitties wander free off their property.  It also allowed for anyone to capture or “imprison” any cats at large and one could call the cops to pick up the fugitive feline.  All across the state, anyone could set traps with the purpose of catching wandering kitties.   The bill had been argued in the legislature several times in the post war years but it eventually passed both houses of the Illinois General Assembly and was presented to the Governor.

Illinois Cats Roared with Approval

Well, Stevenson was an adept politician and he knew that cats could not vote.  But, he knew that catowners certainly had the right to vote.  And the birds in question generally were of the free variety, not any owned by voters.  So, Stevenson determined that it would not be prudent public policy to deem a cat crossing a highway or walking across someone’s property line as a public nuisance.  Stevenson seemed to have a good grasp on the behaviour of cats because he noted that it was the nature of cats to roam unescorted.  He did allow for the fact that many cats resided in the residence of some people but he did not think it was appropriate for the occasional feline foray into the great outdoors to prompt “a small game hunt by zealous citizens — with traps or otherwise.”

Cat Shows It's Enthusiasm

Stevenson also took a pragmatic view as he noted that the legislation would no doubt lead to unrest in the form of recrimanation and enmity as well as the unbridled discord that would surely erupt should a citizen turn a neighbor’s pet over to the cops.  He also added:

“If we attempt to resolve [this problem] by legislation, who knows but what we may be called upon to take sides as well in the age-old problems of dog versus cat, bird versus bird, even bird versus worm. In my opinion, the state of Illinois and its local governing bodies already have enough to do without trying to control feline delinquency.”

Rats No Longer Supported Stevenson

Nowwhere did Stevenson speak of the number of cat-loving, cat-owning members of the electorate but I’m sure he was quite aware that a threat to a citizen’s cat could mean a threat to a potential vote in an future election.  So, on this date in 1949, Illinois Governor Adlai Stevenson vetoed the bill that was designed to protect birds from cats.  It did not help him at the presidential polls against President Eisenhower in 1952 and 1956.  Perhaps his loss was a direct result of his veto of the bill adversely affected a certain population that far outnumbered the number of cats in the state and across the nation.  Rats, mice and other rodents were certainly turned-off by Stevenson’s actions.

SPC Moderate Risk Sat AM to Sun AM W. KY

Weather Bottom Line:  I warned a few days about about the severe potential in our area for this weekend.  The Storms Prediction Center has been expanding its outlook each day for the past 3 days and have now expanded the moderate risk for severe weather to include a good chunk of Western Kentucky.  The idea here is that a number of super cellular storms develop along the Texas-Louisiana border.  These storms then would track northeast with more developing with the heat of the day.    My guess is that the extent of the moderate risk area to the northeast has to do with the increasing dynamics associated with a large scale event and the potential of the super cells be relatively long lived, thus being able to make their way into Western Kentucky.  As for Louisville itself, the sun going down before the storms get here is the reason why the Louisville Metro area is under a slight risk and that area is more expansive east than west. 

SPC 30%-45% risk for Severe Weather Sat AM to Sun AM

Tornadoes would be most likely in the Southwestern part of the state and with the loss of afternoon heating, that threat will diminish as the true dynamics will be situated farther south.  However, what happens when you get a big storm falling apart, they tend to simply collapse and when that happens, there is an enormous, short lived down draft which can cause significant damage.  I would speculate that, while tornadoes are possible in the Louisville Metro Area, the greatest risk will be from strong winds and hail.   This system will lurk and so rain chances will carry into Sunday, though I think the risk for severe weather will have shifted south and east.

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