Time to clean the Water Reclamation District’s political filter
By Ray Hanania — For far too long, the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Great Chicago has been a reservoir for retired, do-nothing government officials who were rewarded with spots on the board in return for their party loyalties.
Or, it has been a place where ambitious candidates with political clout have tried to launch their power dynasties.
The fact is the MWRD-GC board is unaccountable and a cesspool of wasted taxpayer dollars.
It is a do-nothing board that has spent most of its time spending money lavishly on itself and its members. They have huge salaries yet their impact on our lives has been so un-impactful.
Their primary responsibility is the management of flood water and they do a very poor job of doing that. But they do a great job of blaming everyone else.
The do-nothing chairman of the board Terrence O’Brien spent money on himself like there was no tomorrow, buying very expensive lunches and having a blast. He’s retiring after trying to turn the retirement home into a stepping stone to higher office.
Fortunately for the voters, O’Brien lost and lost big time in his bid for the Cook County Board presidency. I can only imagine how much taxes would have increased and how much less the county board would do for its citizens if O’Brien had become its president.
Seven candidates have announced their intention to run for three spots on the board in the Democratic primary election next Spring. It includes a slate of three candidates with clout have announced their intention to take over the do-nothing board.
They are led by Patrick Daley Thomas, a nephew of retired Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley. He is the 42 year old grandson of the late Mayor Richard J. Daley. His mother is Patricia Daley Martino.
I don’t know him and neither do most Chicagoans. He lives in the Bridgeport home of his grandfather. Unlike the rest of the Daley clan, including the now retired mayor who moved out to better and more lucrative pastures, Thompson stayed in Bridgeport. He reflects the neighborhood loyalty that so many other successful politicians so quickly forget.
You can be certain Thomas is going to be elected and will become the board’s new president.
It might be foolish to hope he can be persuaded to make the board more responsible or to tighten the lavish spending set by the board’s predecessors. Or to have the agency respond to flooding in a truly imaginative way, rather than through the old ways of “do-nothing until you have to” which is the board’s working motto.
They need to clean out the upper echelons of the agency, get new PR people, although maybe the new executive director deserves a chance since taking the reins from the other guy who was worthless.
One other candidate out there deserves note. Patricia Young. She served on the board years ago and later worked as its public affairs director. She was up against a lot of clouted uselessness – who ever heard of a press release being issued by the board’s press contractors? Never!
Young quit but has filed for the board. I hope she wins. I also hope that Thompson doesn’t follow the same old same old of the board. Turn the useless agency into something that does some good. That would be a great way to make a name for yourself young Daley-Thompson!
(Ray Hanania hosts Radio Chicagoland every Sunday from 8 am until 11 am on WSBC AM 1240 radio. Contact him at www.RadioChicagoland.com.)