It took 30 years, but I finally made it back to the newspapers on 123rd Street and Harlem Avenue, the home of the Reporter and 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-News. I also spoke with Charles Richards about writing a column for the Regional News, with 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.
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 Ald. 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 prompted 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?
The Richards were understanding. Being a political writer for the Chicago Sun-Times was, back then, a big deal.
The Reporter and Regional News are two of the best community newspapers serving the Southwest Surburbs. 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 Reporter 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 Des Plaines Valley News.
Now I’m back.
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, Steve Landek and Mark Hornung.
I promise to continue fighting to give Chicagoland’s Southwest region the recognition it deserves.
Off 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 medias 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 firstname.lastname@example.org