CHICAGO — A Chicago Tribune editorial writer has come under fire over a piece she wrote on the 10 year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina.
In the piece, editorial board member Kristen McQueary says she finds herself wishing for a storm in Chicago.
“The city’s finances under Mayor Emanuel and other leaders are in such bad shape, it would take a Katrina-scale storm to reset the budgets of Chicago and Chicago Public Schools,” she writes.
Katrina, she says, gave New Orleans a “rebirth.”
From the time McQueary posted a link to the column on Twitter yesterday, the criticism was swift and scathing.
“Seriously? I’m so appalled” — tweeted @Cinnachick. “It wasn’t a reboot it was devastation. Still is”
@illestcreation says “a.k.a. let’s get all the poor and minority people out of Chicago. disgusting.”
David Kaplinsky wrote his own response to the column. He was 14 when Katrina forced his family from their New Orleans home. He ended up in Chicago.
“It doesn’t take into account the struggles that still in New Orleans, she idealized the whole thing,” he said.
Talking about it still brings tears to his eyes.
More than 1800 people died in the storm.
“It hurts because she can say I wish we went through the pain and suffering so we can have a better Chicago, but she has no idea what that was about .”
McQueary refused WGN’s request for an interview. She also offered no apologies in a follow up column, posted tonight on the Chicago Tribune’s website.
“I wrote what I did not out of lack of empathy, or racism,” -she says- but out of long-standing frustration with Chicago’s poorly managed finances.”
University of Chicago doctoral student Jenn M. Jackson was among those weighing in online. She said the column shouldn’t have been published.
But, editorial page editor Bruce Dold, in an emailed statement, says “McQueary’s column credits the resilience and ingenuity of the people of New Orleans and pleads for dramatic change in Chicago, which has not faced up to its financial crisis. That is her point. Her use of Hurricane Katrina as metaphor has unfortunately been misconstrued.”