Mayor Emanuel guts the Human Relations commission
By Ray Hanania — To help cut expenses, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel is cutting services. Too bad he doesn’t focus more on waste.
Emanuel is cutting 20 percent or $619,000 from the budget of Commission on Human Relations, the agency that fights bigotry and discrimination in the city.
That sounds like a lot but the Commission will have about $2.5 million remaining.
But while cutting funding may be justified to off-set the years of wasteful management of the city’s resources and to plug the endless shortfalls that plague Chicago’s poor taxpayers, Emanuel is also eliminating six of the agency’s advisory boards including African Affairs, Asian Affairs, Gay & Lesbian Affairs, Latino Affairs, Immigration and Refugee Affairs and Arab Affairs.
Most of these boards are volunteers. Each has a director that is paid. Why eliminate the voluntary boards when they cost nothing to maintain?
Some people believe the action is political. As a proud American Arab, I know that Mayor Emanuel has a personal problem with American Arabs. He is Israeli. He volunteered to help the Israeli military when he was younger, probably had an Israeli passport along with an American passport. And we all know Arabs and Israelis don’t get along.
I don’t mind that Mayor Emanuel served the Israeli military. I could care less, although American taxpayers give Israel about $3 billion a year in our money to help a foreign country support their failing economy.
But what I wonder is why didn’t Mayor Emanuel also volunteer to help the U.S. Military.
I did. I wasn’t alone. Many American Arabs in Chicagoland also served the United States in the military. Proudly, I might add.
But by consolidating the agencies and eliminating spending, Emanuel can gut the Arab Advisory Commission without anyone saying they were the only ones targeted.
Of all the groups targeted, the American Arabs need the assistance the most. Since Sept. 11, 2001, Arabs have become the targets of increased hate crimes and violence in Chicago, the suburbs and throughout the United States.
I’ve been called “unpatriotic” to my face, by “Americans” who, by the way, never served in the U.S. Military. (I served during the Vietnam War two years active duty and 10 years in the Illinois Air National Guard. I’m proud of that service.)
African Americans, Asians, Latinos and Gays and Lesbian communities have many official programs that provide social service support, millions in grants, jobs, healthcare and much more. But not American Arabs. We’re called “White” and the problems of “White” people are ignored by our governments.
It’s wrong. And when we ask for answers, the spineless Chicago City Hall media won’t ask the tough questions, questions I had no problem asking when I covered Chicago City Hall for 16 years.
Mayor Emanuel says he supports diversity and praises the rich ethnic diversity of this great city called Chicago. But he has a funny way of showing it.
(Ray Hanania is an award winning columnist and media consultant. He can be reached at www.hanania.com.)
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"I write about three topics, the Middle East, politics and life in general. I often take my life experiences and offer them in an entertaining way to readers, and I take on the toughest topics like the Israel-Palestine conflict and don't pull any punches about what I feel is fair. But, my priority is always about writing the good story."
Hanania covered Chicago Politics and Chicago City Hall from 1976 through 1992. Hanania began writing in 1975 when he published The Middle Eastern Voice newspaper in Chicago (1975-1977). He later published “The National Arab American Times” newspaper which was distributed through 12,500 Middle East food stores in 48 American States (2004-2007).
Hanania writes weekly columns on Middle East and American Arab issues for the Arab News in Saudi Arabia at www.ArabNews.com, and at www.TheArabDailyNews.com, www.TheDailyHookah.com and at SuburbanChicagoland.com. He has also published weekly columns in the Jerusalem Post newspaper, YNetNews.com, Newsday Newspaper in New York, the Orlando Sentinel Newspapers, and the Arlington Heights Daily Herald.
Palestinian, American Arab and Christian, Hanania’s parents originate from Jerusalem and Bethlehem.
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, Hanania 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. He was honored for his writing skills with two (2) Chicago Stick-o-Type awards from the Chicago Newspaper Guild. In 1990, Hanania was nominated by the Chicago Sun-Times editors for a Pulitzer Prize for his four-part series on the Palestinian Intifada.
His writings have also been honored by two national Awards from ADC for his writing, and from the National Arab American Journalists Association.
The managing editor of Suburban Chicagoland Online News website www.SuburbanChicagoland.com, Hanania's columns also appear in the Southwest News Newspaper Group of 8 newspapers.
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