The Political Grapevine: Nik Wallenda’s daredevil walk across the Chicago River
By Ray Hanania
More than 50,000 people crowded Wacker Drive in downtown Chicago to watch Nik Wallenda walk a tightrope across the Chicago River, and then one between the Marina Towers blindfolded.
It was irresponsible, of course. No catch line or net to save him if he fell in the cold winds that swept across the river walk where gawkers stood and Chicago Fire Department rescue units and scuba divers waited, “just in case.”
And it was the “just in case” that drew everyone, the death watch, just in case he fell. A terrible thought but without it, what made the daredevil stunt worth it?
Wallenda was more than one hour and a half hours late, so by the time he walked the first wire from Marina Tower to the Leo Burnett building, half the people were already leaving to go home before he began his second walk, blindfolded across a shorter wire between the West and East Marina Towers buildings.
As I waited in the chill with my son, I could only wonder why I had to drive downtown and risk Chicago’s rising murder rate, the unbelievable high cost of parking and food at over-rated restaurants. Chicago reeks with excessive taxes. So why are we downtown and not someplace in Chicago’s suburbs?
Where is the suburban “Nik Wallenda” entertaining crowds?
POLITICAL GRAPEVINE: Who can predict the outcome of a tough Ad War between Gov. Pat Quinn and challenger Bruce Rauner? Regardless of who wins, the two real election winners are House Speaker Michael J. Madigan, who breathed life into Quinn’s candidacy, and Cook County Commissioner Liz Gorman, who gave Rauner the chance he needed to make this an election to remember. Four years ago, voters dragged themselves to the polls and Quinn defeated Bill Brady, with no one paying attention to the Southwest suburbs of Cook County. This time, Gorman made the suburban county the focus of the battle.
ARE YOU TIRED OF THE BIAS on TV News? I watched Laura Washington and Roosevelt professor Paul Green lamely pretend to be objective analysts on WLS TV. Are there not any objective commentators who can offer the public insight rather than self-serving political insight?
NOVEMBER IS ARAB American Heritage month in Illinois. The most disturbing aspect is the revelations recently that several leaders of Chicago’s leading Jewish Community organizations lobbied newly elected Mayor Rahm Emanuel in 2011 to close the Advisory Commission on Arab Affairs. Emanuel then pulled the rug out from under the popular four-year-old Arabesque Festival, which was also unfairly attacked by the same groups. Mayor Daley stood up to the critics but Emanuel has a personal agenda to see the racism through. Shame on Emanuel’s phony pretense of racial diversity and cultural pride.
CONTROVERSY AS SOLID AS OAK (LAWN): With the state elections over, the focus shifts to suburban and Chicago elections. The 10th Ward will have a showdown between neighborhood activist Samantha Webb and Ald. John Pope, a protégé of former 10th Ward heavy and convicted political boss Al Sanchez … Many people in Oak Lawn are hoping former two-term Mayor Dave Heilmann gets back involved and runs again in 2017. Oak Lawn is turning into an economic disaster. Everyone’s watching the vicious war of words between longtime Trustee Bob Streit and Mayor Sandra Bury in dueling online blog posts.
(Ray Hanania is an award winning former Chicago City Hall reporter and columnist. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org. His columns appear in the Southwest News-Herald, Des Plaines Valley News and the Regional News (Palos Regional).)
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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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