Columnist Wishes 'Hurricane Katrina' Type Event Could Save Chicago, Too
August 14, 2015

The 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina is almost upon us, and wouldn't you know it - some Chicago Tribune op-ed columnist used the tragedy to wish the same fate on Chicago so the city could be magically restored, just like New Orleans was.

Envy isn't a rational response to the upcoming 10-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina.But with Aug. 29 fast approaching and New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu making media rounds, including at the Tribune Editorial Board, 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...read on

See, that's all it took. A horrendous natural disaster that wiped out over 1800 lives to restore the city.

Huff Post writes this about McQueary's column:

It would be hard to call a city that survived Katrina lucky, but McQueary insists that the hurricane "gave a great American city a rebirth."

The column naively assesses the city's gains as a result of the hurricane: the "overthrow" of a corrupt government, a smaller city budget, forced unpaid furloughs, cut positions, "detonated labor contracts" and a school system unburdened by teachers union demands.

Today, New Orleans rates 14th in the nation for political corruption (which is only respectable relative to Chicago's first-place ranking); furloughs cut costs, but in some cases simply pushed the burden elsewhere; and a report out Thursday by the Cowen Institute at Tulane University shows the post-Katrina school system is still in flux. But the city finances, at least, are in better shape than 10 years ago.
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Those lives are part of the calamity that the editorial says enabled New Orleans to "hit the reset button" -- yet they go virtually unmentioned.

The "thousands of lives lost" were overwhelmingly among New Orleans' most vulnerable. Residents without access to a car -- largely the poor and elderly -- were the most affected. Black residents made up a disproportionate share of the hurricane victims: roughly one in three residents from the hardest-hit areas was black.

The most objectionable passage -- which was later changed on the sly -- was especially out-of-touch with the real-life human toll of Katrina. Per the op-ed:

That's why I find myself praying for a real storm. It's why 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.

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