Friday, November 09, 2012

Chicago's anti-Arab Mayor Rahm Emanuel pushing through his Zero Arab Cultural Plan

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Ever since the election of Rahm Emanuel as mayor, the presence of American Arabs in government and in cultural events has declined to the point of near extinction.

Although American Arabs have been a part of Chicago since the first immigrants arrived in the city in the middle of the 19th Century from Arab countries and regions that had not yet become nations, American Arabs have been an active part of Chicagoland's rich diversity.

Despite the prejudice and racism against American Arabs, they have remained loyal, patriotic, taxpayers and full contributors to our society.

The late Chicago Mayor Harold Washington, Chicago's first minority and African American chief executive, was the first to recognize the need to expand the city's narrow minded approach to "culture." Washington recognized that although the city claimed to be color blind, there was a distinct discrimination against certain minorities, among the most discriminated were Arabs.

Washington sought to help Arabs and others become an active part of molding Chicago's future when he launched the Human Relations Commission and created the Arab Advisory Council. It continued even after Washington died that tragic Thanksgiving inn 1987, although the ethnic diversity group became a lifeless patronage haven for political cronies of Washington's political successors.

Upon his ascension to the Machine thrown, Emanuel, whose historic conflict with Arabs stems from his own personal religious and political upbringing -- his father was a member of the racistly anti-Arab Irgun Zvi Leumi terrorist organization -- don't be totally ignorant, people ... look this shit up! -- the first thing Mayor Emanuel did was to undermine the paltry achievements of the Arab Community. No more Arab Festival (we had it only for a few years), no more Arab events or celebrations (that began with Washington) and no more Arab appointments to major City jobs. In fact, at his so-called Eid celebration last year, there were no Arab Muslims, only non-Arab Muslims in the audience.

The issue isn't that he is anti-Muslim. Emanuel is not. He is anti-Arab.

Now the mayor has devised a plan to further undermine the opportunities for American Arabs in Chicago with the new Chicago Cultural Plan 2012. Of the dozens and dozens of volunteers and officials, only one is actually an Arab -- Lebanese American. That's it?

Chicago has a healthy American Arab community. Although we can't give you exact numbers because the U.S. Census refuses to include as in their every decade count, we estimate there are maybe 45,000 just on the Southwest Side. Most American Arabs had fled the bigotry and bias of Chicago over the years, despite the brief moment of respite under Harold Washington and casual interest by former Mayor Richard M. Daley who connected with some American Arabs as a way to strengthen business ties with the Arab World for himself after his surprise retirement in May 2011.

It's a shameful and intentional snub of Chicagoland's American Arabs. We're proud taxpayers. Hard workers. Great achievers in professions across the business spectrum. We are social activists and political activists, even though we have not yet achieved our own fundamental political presence in today's bigoted world.

In this face of the Arab community's weakness -- disorganized, without its own social structures of significance, and with no real presence in politics or government -- American Arabs deserve equality and their share of the taxpayer-funded pie that they help to finance with everyday of their hard work. Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel has no right to exclude American Arabs or to suppress our presence simply to satisfy his racist, hateful family heritage.


Thursday, November 08, 2012

Lone Woman Has Saviano on Edge

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Lone Woman Has Saviano on Edge

By RAY HANANIA • Southwest News-Herald Newspaper Friday, November 02, 2012

Kathleen Willis was a long time activist in DuPage County at a time when the only thing a politician could be was Republican. So how did she end up in the center of a fight on the Southwest Side and suburbs?

Willis switched to the Democratic Party to run for State Representative against 10-term incumbent Angelo “Skip” Saviano in the 77th House District.

Saviano is known for his occasional temper tantrums but it’s the viciousness of his followers that caught my attention. Saviano’s supporters have made derogatory and personal attacks against Willis, referencing to her weight. It’s very unprofessional.

Rather than address Willis or contain the ugly personal mudslinging, Saviano has run to the media claiming he is a “victim” of Illinois House Speaker Michael J. Madigan.

When a do-nothing politician wants to distract voters from his poor record, they always try to make Madigan the issue. But Madigan has been on the right side of a lot of issues that have put him in conflict with Saviano.

For example, Saviano is best known for his defense of McPier, the political bastion of taxpayer waste. When it was controlled by disgraced former Gov. Rod Blagojevich and his cronies, Saviano introduced bill after bill to dump funds into the sinkhole of spending at the McPier.

He claims Madigan is mad at him because of McPier and because he has slammed Lisa Madigan, the Illinois Attorney General, who has rightly challenged allegations of mob influence in a proposal to build a casino in Rosemont. But many of the people involved in that effort were close to mobbed up investors.

Madigan is a Democrat. He supports qualified Democratic candidates who seek legislative office. He’s been effective fighting hard for the region and the state. Saviano finds that difficult to understand.

Saviano attacked Madigan because the downtown Chicago media attacks Madigan. The notoriously biased Chicago Tribune, flagship of a collapsed Republican fiefdom, hates Madigan.

The Tribune endorsed Saviano claiming they can’t reach Willis, but I found her easy to reach. Here’s her Web page:

The Tribune hates Madigan because Madigan stopped the Tribune from getting tax money to bail out their former baseball team, the Chicago Cubs, and renovate Wrigley Field. The Tribune was forced to sell the Cubs and they have always blamed Madigan.

That’s “personal!”

Allies of Saviano organized a phony “community forum” in the west suburbs last week. Willis went to defend her record. When she got there, she was ridiculed and attacked personally. But she had one key ally, Southwest Side Sen. Martin Sandoval (D-12th).

As soon as Sandoval got up to speak to defend Willis, the organizers tried to shout him down. Sandoval’s message was clear.

“The Republicans have never cared about the concerns of the Latino community. It’s the Democrats who have supported Hispanics,” Sandoval said over and over again.

The meeting erupted into confusion. Saviano’s activists tried to push Sandoval to stop talking. But he refused to budge. Sandoval is not called “El Cabello” for nothing. Here’s the link to the video. You HAVE to see it!

I don’t know if Willis will defeat the whining Saviano. But I do know she is backed by a lot of good people like Madigan and Sandoval who continue to be shamefully slandered by Blagojevich’s pals.

When the going gets tough, Sandoval is the guy you want on your side.

(Ray Hanania is an award winning columnist and political analyst. Reach him at  — City & Suburban News-Herald

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

Early, long and cumbersome voting process

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Early, long and cumbersome voting process

I "Early Voted." Funny how the phrase has become a verb in our lexicon. It involved long lines and hassles with the voting machine made by Sequoia, the company contracted by the Cook County Election Board.

The touch screen system was excruciatingly slow. That slowness in registering votes is what caused my voting experience to last nearly 18 minutes.

Can you imagine taking 18 minutes to vote? I mean 18 minutes to actually vote, not including waiting in line which took 20 more minutes in a long line of 30 early voters and only four machines for voting.

But I voted. The major offices up for election were easy choices.  Below is my complete, excruciatingly long ballot.

I hate the section on Judges. I don't know many so I will only vote in favor of those I do know. The vote section on retention -- where you vote yes or no on whether a judge should be retained -- is about the only place where I can have any satisfaction. Like I am actually accomplishing something. I ALWAYS vote NO on every Judge seeking Retention, unless I know them. If I don't know them, why should I vote to keep them?

I also vote no against any judge associated with federal convicted convict felon Ed Vrdolyak, like Judge Paul  A. Karkula. why would we put any Vrdolyak judges on the bench in Cook County's judicial system? It's a travesty. 

Several are great choices like Michael Howlett Jr., and a few others I supported for retention. A lot of them are merely the relatives of the clout-heavy and the powerful, so why just surrender a vote to them and put them into office, a great salary and a golden pension?

Voting against the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District Machine was fun, also. I voted straight Green Party. Not that I expect them to win. But I am not going to vote for three Democratic incumbents who have done NOTHING to address the flooding problems in Cook County and are on the ballot because they are related to some politician, like Patrick Daley Thompson. 

If who they are related to doesn't matter, then why do they insist on including their Clout Names on their ballot listing? "Daley?" Yes, one of the former mayor's relatives. I liked Mayor Rich Daley, but always felt he could have done far more for the people of Chicago than he did for himself and his family and relatives and cronies. None of the people he defeated, though, were any better. So his reign was probably the best Chicago could have ever expected.

I thought by voting early, it would be more convenient. It wasn't. But, I did get it out of the way.

-- Ray Hanania