Ray Hanania

Ray Hanania

30 years isn’t too late to start

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(This column was first published in The Regional News on Nov. 12, 2014.)

By Ray Hanania

It took 30 years, but I finally made it to the Regional News.

I’ve covered Chicagoland since 1975, but it was in 1985 when I ended my eight years at the Daily Southtown and almost started work at the Regional News.

I left the Southtown to become lead columnist for the Joliet Herald. I also spoke with Charles Richards about writing a column for the Regional, with Joliet Herald approval.

The Richards were excited and laid-out a front page announcing I had been hired. I worked closely with Virginia Richards to bring my column, “The Grapevine,” to a larger Chicagoland audience. But the best laid plans, as they say, went awry.

RayHanania

Ray Hanania

The City Council gave me an enthusiastic farewell, introduced by Chicago Ald. Edward M. Burke (14th Ward). A brilliant orator, Burke poked fun at me for getting under the skin of every mayor including Mike Bilandic, Jane Byrne and Harold Washington. Washington chided me, too

The meeting was the first for new Alderman Dorothy Tillman, a public housing activist. Tillman refused to remove her traditional large brimmed hat during the meeting causing a fight which made news. During the battle, Tillman gave me a rose from a dozen she received from supporters and my friend and mentor at the Chicago Sun-Times, Harry Golden Jr., mentioned it in his story.

That story and event prompted Chicago Sun-Times Editor Ken Towers to urge me to head up the newspaper’s new Page Ten column as the political writer. How could I refuse a salary that was double what the Herald and Regional News offered together at the time?

The Richards were gracious and understanding. Being a political writer for the Chicago Sun-Times was, back then, a big deal.

The Regional News is one of the best community newspapers serving the Southwest Suburbs. I am proud to bring my writing talent (four Lisagor Awards, one Sigma Delta Chi award, and other national awards), as well as my controversy (as editor Jeff Vorva so graciously noted last week).

Journalism ink is in my blood. After leaving the Sun-Times, I launched the Villager Newspapers in 1993. In 2004, I started writing for the Southwest News-Herald and recently for the Desplaines Valley News.

Here’s a salute to the Richards dynasty, and to all the community publishers I knew, including Bruce Sagan at the Southtown, Walter Lysen at the Messenger Press, Ed Vondrak at the Southwest News-Herald, too, and now, Mark Hornung.

I promise to continue fighting to give Chicagoland’s Southwest region the recognition it deserves.

THE GRAPEVINE: The fact that Congressman Bobby Rush doesn’t care about the west end of his district is a disgrace, which explains why he lost the suburban vote to his challenger Jimmy Lee Tillman, who deserved to win … Bruce Rauner’s victory over Gov. Pat Quinn, thanks to the swing votes of Reagan Democrats in the suburbs, sets up a certain battle in 2018 that will probably see Lisa Madigan finally step up to the plate … The big push in the Spring will be to oust Mayor Rahm Emanuel and replace him with someone who appreciates, not offends, Chicago’s diversity. Rumors abound that Liz Gorman will be given a Cabinet post in the Rauner Government for her support … So fun to watch the mainstream news media which shamefully slammed Rauner before the election now climbing over itself to curry his favor … Pause to thank our Veterans this week for their service to America.

(Ray Hanania is an award winning former Chicago City Hall reporter and columnist. Reach him at rghanania@gmail.com.)

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