Tribune editorial that 'wishes for Katrina' draws firestorm of criticism

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Editorial

By WGN

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.

See how tourism has rebounded in New Orleans since the storm:

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Katrina 10 year: Tourism in New Orleans since the storm
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Tribune editorial that 'wishes for Katrina' draws firestorm of criticism
Jackson Square and the French Quarter reamain dry in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina Saturday, Sept. 10, 2005 in New Orleans. The historic structures, buildings and gardens in New Orleans' French Quarter, its main tourism district, survived Katrina with little damage. But officials are asking leisure travelers to wait until the end of the year before returning. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip, Pool)
Preservation Hall, front right, a landmark in the French Quarter, stands on deserted St. Peter Street, Sunday, Sept. 25, 2005, in New Orleans. The historic structures, buildings and gardens in New Orleans' French Quarter, its main tourism district, survived Katrina with little damage. But officials are asking leisure travelers to wait until the end of the year before returning. (AP Photo/Tracy Gitnick)
Jen Cecil holds her Haunted History Tour sign as she stands on Bourbon Street in the French Quarter Sunday night, Oct. 15, 2005 in New Orleans, La.. Nightlife is slowly returning to New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina's destruction. (AP photo/Mel Evans)
New Orleans police officer Patrick Schneider talks with people as he sits on his horse 'Codey' on Bourbon Street in the French Quarter Saturday night, Oct. 8, 2005 in New Orleans, La. Nightlife is slowly returning to New Orleans after hurricane Katrina's destruction. (AP photo/Mel Evans)
Crowds walk along Bourbon Street in the French Quarter Saturday night, Oct. 8, 2005 in New Orleans, La. With the French Quarter, the city's main tourist draw, spared from most of Hurricane Katrina's wrath, visitors are beginning to trickle back. (AP photo/Mel Evans)
Louis Edwards, a member of the staff of the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival looks over some of the paintings of famous entertainers in the door's panel including Roy Boyd, James Bocker, Fats Domino and Allen Tussaint at the festival's headquaters in New Orleans in a Monday, Nov. 14, 2005 photo. The New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, better known as Jazz Fest to most people faces long odds to be able to stage the kind of party it has had in the past due to the effects of Hurricane Katrina. The event usually attracts 300,000 people a day, but if it can come close it could kick start tourism in the New Orleans. (AP Photo/James A. Finley)
Phoenix residents Barbara Levy and Skip Hanson, enjoy the courtyard of a hotel in the French Quarter of New Orleans, La., Friday Dec. 30, 2005. The couple have been coming to New Orleans for the last 10 years during New Years week and were glad to return this year. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)
California residents Adam Mooneyham, and his mom, Jane, play each others washboards outside K-Paul's Louisiana Kitchen in the French Quarter as legendary chef Paul Prudhomme, center, looks on in New Orleans, La., Friday Dec. 30, 2005. Businesses are open in the Quarter and tourists are returning to the French Quarter (AP Photo/Steve Helber)
Jason Kirksey, second from right, strolls along Bourbon Street with his daughter Katy, right, son Mike, left, wife, Katy, second from left, and grandson Davis McFarlan, behind pole in the French Quarter of New Orleans, Friday Dec. 30, 2005. The family is in town to help relatives rebuild and came to the French Quarter to support resturaunts. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)
** FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE--FILE **New Year's Eve revelers party in the fog to the sounds of the Coolbone Brass Band during festivities in Jackson Square in New Orleans, in this Dec. 31, 2005, file photo. (AP Photo/Cheryl Gerber/FILE)
** FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE--FILE **Brian Hebert holds hands with Brena Breaux as his daughter Kimberlie Hebert sits on his shoulders on New Year's Eve in New Orleans' Jackson Square, in this Dec. 31, 2005, file photo. (AP Photo/Cheryl Gerber/FILE)
New Orleans parking attendants watch as magician David Blaine performs a card trick in New Orleans where he joined NYC & Company and other New Yorkers for a special patriotic travel mission to help rebuild tourism in New Orleans. (AP Photo/Cheryl Gerber)
New Orleans jewelry designer Mignon Faget helps NYC & Company Chairman Jonathan Tisch shop in her store that opened today for the first time since Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans, Friday Feb. 10, 2006. Tisch and other New Yorkers launched a special patriotic travel mission to help rebuild tourism in New Orleans. (AP Photo/Cheryl Gerber)
FILE - In this Feb. 28, 2006 file photo, thousands gather on Bourbon Street in the French Quarter during Mardi Gras celebrations in New Orleans on Fat Tuesday. Mardi Gras is on March 8, early this year, which coincides with many spring breaks on college campuses. New Orleans tourism officials, who have begun an advertising campaign to attract younger visitors, believe the happy convergence will give them a boost over Mardi Gras 2010, which was the biggest since Hurricane Katrina hit in 2005. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File )
Greg Dombourian of Dombourian's Oriental Rugs poses for a photograph in his business along Magazine Street in New Orleans Wednesday July 5, 2006. Merchants in the Quarter, along with the city's Uptown section, are dealing with a drop-off in tourism, a shortage of workers and a housing crunch. (AP Photo/Bill Haber)
** FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE **T-shirt shops in the French Quarter of New Orleans poke fun at post Hurricane Katrina New Orleans on Friday, July 7, 2006. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
** FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE **T-shirt shops in the French Quarter of New Orleans poke fun at post Hurricane Katrina New Orleans on Friday, July 7, 2006.(AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
** FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE **Tourists and Jazz fans walk by statues of some of the great legends of jazz while listening to a live performance at Cafe' Beignet on Bourbon Street, Friday July 21, 2006 in New Orleans. (AP Photo/Rob Carr)
** FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE **Tourist Ronald Washington of Birmingham, Ala., poses for a photo with street mimes while getting his photo taken by his wife, Friday July 21, 2006 on Bourbon Street in New Orleans.(AP Photo/Rob Carr)
** FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE **Katrina related t-shirts line the walls of a store while tourists wait in line to enter a popular eatery Saturday afternoon, July 22, 2006 in the French Quarter of New Orleans. (AP Photo/Rob Carr)
** FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE **Masks and souvenirs for sale line a store front window in the French Quarter, Wednesday July 26, 2006 in New Orleans. (AP Photo/Rob Carr)
** FILE ** Tourists enjoy a carriage ride along Charters Street in the French Quarter, in this July 26, 2006, file photo in New Orleans. Despite New Orleans' slow recovery from Hurricane Katrina, the city's vital tourism and convention business is on track to return to its pre-storm levels _ provided that enough visitors come to the region, tourism officials said Wednesday, Aug. 23. (AP Photo/Rob Carr, file)
A young visitor poses with street entertainers on Bourbon Street as two other youngsters look on in the French Quarter of New Orleans Sunday, July 30, 2006. City leaders and people who make a living in the tourism industry fear that the latest spate of murders could harm its fragile recovery from Hurricane Katrina. (AP Photo/Bill Haber)
** FILE ** People line up at Cafe Du Monde at the French Market in the French Quarter of New Orleans in this May 26, 2007 file photo. The market is on the list of places that Louisiana tourism officials recently unveiled as the first 26 sites on an African American Heritage Trail running from New Orleans to Northern Louisiana. (AP Photo/Bill Haber, File)
** ADVANCE FOR WEEKEND EDITIONS, MAY 23-24 ** FILE - In this Jan. 7, 2008 file photo, with the BCS logo in the foreground the Ohio State team assembles in their end zone for a pregame workout before the BCS championship college football game against LSU at the Louisiana Superdome in New Orleans. As far as tourism and economic development officials are concerned, the sports industry has fueled the economic and psychological recovery from Hurricane Katrina as much, if not more, than New Orleans' world renowned music and fine dining scenes. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel, File)
** FILE ** In this Aug. 28, 2008 file photo, tourist Josh Collins photographs his wife Melissa Collins in Jackson Square in New Orleans. They are from North Carolina in town for Saturday's LSU football game against Appalachian State, which is expected to still be played. As Tropical Storm Gustav approaches, the Gulf Coast's tourism industry is gearing up for the key holiday weekend while keeping a wary eye on the storm and preparing for the mixed bag it may bring next week. (AP Photo/Cheryl Gerber, file)
** ADVANCE FOR WEEKEND EDITIONS, MAY 23-24 ** FILE - In this Sept. 1, 2008 file photo, the shadow of a statue is cast on the wall of the Saint Louis Cathedral as a man walks his dog through the French Quarter after Hurricane Gustav in New Orleans. As far as tourism and economic development officials are concerned, the sports industry has fueled the economic and psychological recovery from Hurricane Katrina as much, if not more, than New Orleans' world renowned music and fine dining scenes. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
People pose for a photograph with a Mardi Gras Indian in the French Quarter of New Orleans, Thursday, Jan. 1, 2009. Many New Orleans-area businesses and artists that rely on tourists hope Friday night's Alabama-Utah game gets 2009 off to a good start and provides a much-needed lift after a year that began with great promise but wound up rocked by another hurricane and consumer jitters. (AP Photo/Bill Haber)
A Mardi Gras Indian marches through the streets of the French Quarter in New Orleans, Thursday, Jan. 1, 2009. Many New Orleans-area businesses and artists that rely on tourists hope Friday night's Alabama-Utah game gets 2009 off to a good start and provides a much-needed lift after a year that began with great promise but wound up rocked by another hurricane and consumer jitters. (AP Photo/Bill Haber)
FILE - In this Feb. 16, 2010 file photo, a float in the Zulu Mardi Gras parade makes its way onto Canal Street in the Central Business District in New Orleans. Mardi Gras is on March 8, early this year, which coincides with many spring breaks on college campuses. New Orleans tourism officials, who have begun an advertising campaign to attract younger visitors, believe the happy convergence will give them a boost over Mardi Gras 2010, which was the biggest since Hurricane Katrina hit in 2005. (AP Photo/Bill Haber,File)
People take pictures and laugh as they watch street performers in Jackson Square in New Orleans, Friday, Nov. 11, 2011. While most of the nation is in a post-Thanksgiving turkey coma, interests in New Orleans' key industry, tourism, are giddy over the start of a run of major tourism events that should keep the city's hotels, restaurants and other tourism businesses fat and happy well into 2012. Starting with this weekend's Bayou Classic football game between Southern and Grambling State, the city will play host to three major football bowl games, including the BCS national championship, the NCAA Final Four basketball tournament, Mardi Gras, a PGA golf tournament and the globally popular Jazz Fest. Then there's the usual drama with the New Orleans Saints, who appear poised for a run at the NFL playoffs. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
People walk past t-shirt vendors in the French Quarter section of New Orleans, Friday, Nov. 11, 2011. While most of the nation is in a post-Thanksgiving turkey coma, interests in New Orleans' key industry, tourism, are giddy over the start of a run of major tourism events that should keep the city's hotels, restaurants and other tourism businesses fat and happy well into 2012. Starting with this weekend's Bayou Classic football game between Southern and Grambling State, the city will play host to three major football bowl games, including the BCS national championship, the NCAA Final Four basketball tournament, Mardi Gras, a PGA golf tournament and the globally popular Jazz Fest. Then there's the usual drama with the New Orleans Saints, who appear poised for a run at the NFL playoffs. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
Left to right Willie Andrews, Revert Andrews, 15, and Revon Andrews, 13, of the New Life Brass Band, perform in the French Quarter section of New Orleans, Friday, Nov. 11, 2011. While most of the nation is in a post-Thanksgiving turkey coma, interests in New Orleans' key industry, tourism, are giddy over the start of a run of major tourism events that should keep the city's hotels, restaurants and other tourism businesses fat and happy well into 2012. Starting with this weekend's Bayou Classic football game between Southern and Grambling State, the city will play host to three major football bowl games, including the BCS national championship, the NCAA Final Four basketball tournament, Mardi Gras, a PGA golf tournament and the globally popular Jazz Fest. Then there's the usual drama with the New Orleans Saints, who appear poised for a run at the NFL playoffs. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
In this Nov. 22, 2011 photo, people take pictures and laugh as they watch street performers in Jackson Square in New Orleans. While most of the nation is in a post-Thanksgiving turkey coma, interests in New Orleans' key industry, tourism, are giddy over the start of a run of major tourism events that should keep the city's hotels, restaurants and other tourism businesses fat and happy well into 2012. Starting with this weekend's Bayou Classic football game between Southern and Grambling State, the city will play host to three major football bowl games, including the BCS national championship, the NCAA Final Four basketball tournament, Mardi Gras, a PGA golf tournament and the globally popular Jazz Fest. Then there's the usual drama with the New Orleans Saints, who appear poised for a run at the NFL playoffs. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
In this Nov. 22, 2011 photo, people walk past the St. Louis Cathedral in New Orleans. While most of the nation is in a post-Thanksgiving turkey coma, interests in New Orleans' key industry, tourism, are giddy over the start of a run of major tourism events that should keep the city's hotels, restaurants and other tourism businesses fat and happy well into 2012. Starting with this weekend's Bayou Classic football game between Southern and Grambling State, the city will play host to three major football bowl games, including the BCS national championship, the NCAA Final Four basketball tournament, Mardi Gras, a PGA golf tournament and the globally popular Jazz Fest. Then there's the usual drama with the New Orleans Saints, who appear poised for a run at the NFL playoffs. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
FILE - In this Feb. 3, 2013, file photo, Streamers and confetti fall after the Baltimore Ravens won the NFL Super Bowl XLVII football game 34-31 over the San Francisco 49ers in New Orleans. When a record New Orleans Bowl crowd of well over 50,000 files into the Superdome on Saturday night, Dec. 21, it will mark the latest success of an institution created a quarter century ago with the hope of making the Big Easy a premier sports tourism destination. The Greater New Orleans Sports Foundation this week is celebrating 25 years in the business of luring multi-million-dollar events to south Louisiana. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel, File)
FILE - In this Nov. 21, 2014 file photo, guests sit for a tasting in the main dining room of Brennan's Restaurant, a historic restaurant in the French Quarter in New Orleans. New Orleans’ tourism industry has rebuilt, rebounded and modernized in the 10 years since Katrina, and its restaurant scene has boomed. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert, File)
FILE - In this Feb. 13, 2015 file photo, cyclists ride along Chartres St. near the Mississippi River waterfront in the Bywater section of New Orleans. The Bywater neighborhood has become popular with tourists in the 10 years since Hurricane Katrina hit the city. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert, File)
FILE - In this Feb. 17, 2015 file photo, revelers pack Bourbon Street on Mardi Gras day in the French Quarter in New Orleans. New Orlean’s tourism industry has rebuilt, rebounded and modernized in the 10 years since Katrina. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert, File)
FILE - In this May 20, 2015 file photo, a historic marker for Hurricane Katrina appears along the 17th Street Canal in New Orleans. New Orleans’ tourism industry has rebuilt, rebounded and modernized in the 10 years since Katrina. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert, File)
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"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."

SEE MORE:Special coverage on the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina

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