A Chicago Tribune Columnist Wished For ‘A Hurricane Katrina’ To Come Along To Save Chicago

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The 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina fast approaches, and a writer from the Chicago Tribune took a bizarre approach to celebrating the occasion. Columnist Kristen McQueary penned an essay about her city’s financial woes. She begins by discussing how New Orleans cleaned up its act after Katrina. The city slashed budgets and became more financially efficient. Whereas McQueary observes that Chicago looks good to visitors but “is so good at hiding its rot.”

Before we hop further into this discussion, it’s worth noting that the column’s original headline — “In Chicago, Wishing For A Hurricane Katrina” — has been changed. The article itself was also altered after publication. The Huffington Post preserved the original title and text in PDF format, and the slightly improved version — “Chicago, New Orleans, And Rebirth” — now sits at the Chicago Tribune site.

In the column, McQueary speaks of “the ruinous, junk-bond status of the district’s finances” when discussing Chicago Public Schools. She worries for the city’s future after “decades of overspending and borrowing.” Her solution, oddly enough, is to pray for an epic natural disaster:

I find myself wishing for a storm in Chicago – an unpredictable, haughty, devastating swirl of fury. A dramatic levee break. Geysers bursting through manhole covers. A sleeping city, forced onto the rooftops.

That’s what it took to hit the reset button in New Orleans. Chaos. Tragedy. Heartbreak … Hurricane Katrina gave a great American city a rebirth … I can relate, metaphorically, to the residents of New Orleans climbing onto their rooftops and begging for help and waving their arms and lurching toward rescue helicopters.

McQueary appears to be dead serious. Only after the post-publication editing process were the words, “Okay, a figurative storm,” added. Regardless of the makeshift band-aid applied to this column, McQueary invoked an enormous catastrophe — one that carried an enormous loss of human life and spiraling sociocultural effects — and applied it to a discussion of a public school budget. Twitter had some fitting reactions to the column.

(Via Chicago Tribune)

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