Media coverage of the Asian carp controversy has tended to focus on environmentalists and commercial interests, along with politicians and government officials. But Chicago’s waterways have lots of “stakeholders.”
At Chicago News Cooperative, Kari Lydersen talks with a couple of old working-class fishermen from the Southeast Side. Eddie Landmichl is a retired steelworker who was one of the first to sound the alarm about Asian carp – marching around the Thompson Center one day several years ago with two dead Asian carp strapped to his walker to protest inaction by the Army Corps of Engineers.
With his buddy, bait shop owner Jack Vadas, Landmichl has been out front on the threat of invasion by round gobies, on over-fishing of perch, and on the need to regulate ballast water. Vadas habitually makes sure his customers are in touch with their elected officials on these kinds of issues.
It’s a level of grassroots activism that we don’t often hear about.
Politicians “treat him like garbage, like the court jester,” says Daily Herald outdoors editor Mike Jackson of Landmichl. “But on these issues he’s the most serious guy in the state.”
And when they start hearing from his friends – voters who fish – politicians have been known to become more respectful.