Local governments not responsible for flooding

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Local governments not responsible for flooding
By Ray Hanania
Southwest News-Herald Friday April 25, 2013

When my home flooded in 1997, the Village of Orland Park provided large garbage canisters for each group of homes that had been damaged.

They also provided dozens of crates of bottled bleach to kill mold and bacteria, that one of the neighbors grabbed and hoarded in his garage.

Only two village officials stopped by, Mayor Dan McLaughlin and one other to examine the damage to the cluster of homes. Mine was in the center of it.

I worked with FEMA, got a small grant and then borrowed a $40,000 “low-interest loan” that they later sold to a bank that quickly jacked up the interest and tried to milk me for profits.

I was fortunate. I got my business back on its feet and I paid off the FEMA loan within a few years. I fixed up the home, too, sealing the house and foundation, and learning what not to do with landscaping that creates water backups. The biggest causes of flooding involves mini-damns that form around a property that prevents rainwater from freely running off. I fixed the gutter discharges, drawing the water away from the home.

Eventually, the village realized that several regions had been over-developed with new homes, and the system was over-stressed. Additional sewers were installed to accommodate the increased home building. There hasn’t been a problem since.

Village officials took care of their friends, selectively purchasing, at high-market prices, several homes, including one down the street from me that had some flooding but hardly the worst problems. The village invested a fortune refurbishing the home, later selling it at a discount to a very nice couple that happened to be friends of a village trustee.

That happened a lot at the other flood locations, too.

That soured my view of the village’s officials. Only a few, like McLaughlin, really cared about residents. But in truth, flooding is not the responsibility of local governments. It’s the responsibility of the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District.

The Reclamation District has a $1.2 billion annual budget. To do what exactly? No one really knows. They get a hefty tax from property owners every year.

Reclamation District officials spend a lot of time doling out favors and jobs to friends and relatives, and help its board members run for higher office. Former President Terrance O’Brien tried ran for Cook County Board president in 2010, and, fortunately, lost. O’Brien has been replaced on the board by a Daley relative.

Most of the board’s commissioners sleep through board meetings with their eyes and mouths open. They do nothing. When your home floods, they should be the first ones out there helping. They don’t. Instead, they blame flooding on local governments, who are not responsible for flooding at all.

When we’re told that the great engineering fete of the 20th Century, the Deep Tunnel, is already at 100 percent capacity filled with sewage even before the heavy rains fall, you know there is going to be trouble and the system doesn’t work.

Thanks to the uselessness of the Reclamation District, thousands of Chicagoland homes flooded yet again.

And the Reclamation District doesn’t have one idea, one suggestion or one plan to prevent flooding. Talk about a real waste!

(Ray Hanania is an award-winning columnist. Reach him at www.TheMediaOasis.com and follow him on Twitter at @RayHanania.)

This post has already been read 107 times!

Ray Hanania

Ray Hanania is an award winning former Chicago City Hall reporter and Columnist who began writing in 1975 when he published The Middle Eastern Voice newspaper in Chicago (1975-1977). He covered Chicago City Hall from 1976 through 1992 (Mayor Daley to Mayor Daley) and has expanded to writing for newspapers around the world focussed on Middle East and American politics.

Hanania loves to write about American Arabs in politics, and focuses on Arab life in America.

Currently, he writes weekly columns on Middle East and American Arab issues for the Arab News in Saudi Arabia at www.ArabNews.com. He writes on American politics for the Des Plaines Valley News, Southwest News-Herald, The Regional News newspaper and the Reporter Newspapers. He also writes for the online websites TheArabDailyNews.com and NewsAmericaNetwork.com (Illinois News Network at IllinoisNewsNetwork.com).

Palestinian, American Arab and Christian, Hanania’s parents originate from Jerusalem and Bethlehem. Hanania began in journalism as an activist publishing Chicago’s first English-language American Arab Newspaper “The Middle Eastern Voice” from 1975 through 1977. In 1976, he was hired by the Chicago community newspaper The Southtown Economist (Daily Southtown) and in 1985 was hired by the Chicago Sun-Times and covered Chicago City Hall for both. In 1993, he launched the “The Villager” Newspapers which covered 12 Southwest Chicagoland suburban regions. In 2004, he published “The National Arab American Times” monthly newspaper which was distributed through 12,500 Middle East ethnic food stores in 48 American States.

Hanania is the recipient of four (4) Chicago Headline Club “Peter Lisagor Awards” for Column writing. In November 2006, he was named “Best Ethnic American Columnist” by the New American Media;In 2009, he received the prestigious Sigma Delta Chi Award for Writing from the Society of Professional Journalists. He is the recipient of the MT Mehdi Courage in Journalism Award. Hanania has also received two (2) Chicago Stick-o-Type awards from the Chicago Newspaper Guild, and in 1990 was nominated by the Chicago Sun-Times for a Pulitzer Prize for his four-part series on the Palestinian Intifada.

Hanania’s writings have been published in newspapers around the world. Formerly syndicated by Creators Syndicate, Hanania also has written news, features and Opinion Columns for Al Jazeera English, the Jerusalem Post, YNetNews.com, Arab News, Saudi Gazette, Newsday in New York, the Orlando Sentinel, the Houston Chronicle, The Daily Star, the News of the World, the Daily Yomimuri in Tokyo, Chicago Magazine, the Arlington Heights Daily Herald, and Aramco Magazine. His political columns are published in the Southwest News-Herald and Des Plaines Valley News, Regional News and Palos Reporter newspapers in Chicagoland. Hanania is the President/CEO of Urban Strategies Group media and public affairs consulting which has clients in Illinois, Florida, Michigan and Washington D.C.

Hanania is Palestinian Christian from prominent Bethlehem and Jerusalem families. His wife and son are Jewish and he performs standup comedy lampooning Arab-Jewish relations, advocating for peace based on non-violence, mutual recognition and Two-States.

His Facebook Page is Facebook.com/rghanania

Email him at: RGHanania@gmail.com