How green was our mayor? A panel of experts weighs in on The Mike Nowak Show

October 7, 2010

[UPDATE: The podcast of the show described below is now posted:]

Since Richard M. Daley surprised pretty much everybody by announcing that he would not run for an unprecendented seventh term as mayor of Chicago, media types have been commenting on his legacy in print and on the airwaves. Unfortunately, I’ve found (and I’m sure I haven’t read or heard or seen everything out there) that the word “environment” has taken a back seat.

Don’t you find it odd that Mayor Daley has been touted as one of the greenest mayors in the world and yet, when it comes time to measure his accomplishments, many of the Chicago media outlets have ignored the environmental aspects completely? To be sure, education, crime and political machinations are important. But one reporter for a well-respected news operation told me that the environment didn’t “make the cut” in a retrospective story they wrote about Daley. Are you kidding me?

That’s why I’ve assembled a group of writers, politicos, environmental organization staffers, administration insiders and more to discuss how successful Mr. Daley has been in making Chicago green and where he fell short. The conversation will be on The Mike Nowak Show this Sunday, October 10 from 9:00 to 11:00  a.m. Here’s the lineup:

  • Beth Botts serves as co-host today. She is an award-winning garden writer, speaker and consultant in Chicago, where she was on staff at the Chicago Tribune for more than 20 years.She now has a blog called Growing in Chicago, and is a frequent guest on The Mike Nowak Show. In anticipation of this program, she has written an excellent blog post called “How Green Will Chicago Be After Daley?” It’s a great place to get an overview of our discussion.
  • Mick Dumke is another friend of the show. He is a staff writer for the Chicago News Cooperative, Mick has written about Chicago politics and environmental issues for a decade, at the Chicago Reader and the Chicago Reporter. He also became my hero when Mayor Daley threatened to shove a rifle up his kiester.
  • Joe Moore has been 49th Ward Alderman since 1991. A long-time environmental advocate who created 49th Ward Green Corps, he was a ferocious critic of Chicago’s infamous Blue Bag recycling program, which was discontinued in 2008.
  • Henry Henderson is the Director of the Midwest Program for the Natural Resources Defense Council in Chicago. He was the founding commissioner of the Department of the Environment for the City of Chicago and is a regular contributor to the Huffington Post regarding envrionmental issues.
  • Erma Tranter is president of Friends of the Parks, (FOTP), which is dedicated to preserving, protecting, and improving Chicago’s parks and forest preserves for all citizens.
  • Christy Webber runs one of the largest landscape companies in Chicago–Christy Webber Landscapes. Christy has maintained some of the most prestigious Chicago landmarks, such as Millennium Park and O’Hare and Midway airports.
  • Kimberly Wasserman Nieto is Coordinator of the Little Village Environmental Justice Organization (LVEJO), where she has worked since 1998. She oversees the community projects, leadership development and inner workings of the organization.

I am also encouraging listeners to call in and give us their perspectives of Daley’s environmental stewardship. The phone number, as always, is 773-838-WCPT (9278).

Looking at what Hizzoner accomplished and what got left behind is the first step in lobbying the myriad of mayoral candidates for effective green programs. It will be interesting to see which ones step up and offer concrete programs. I don’t know whether or not Chicago’s environment will “make the cut” when it comes to the political posturing tidal wave that is about to wash over us–but I’m going to do my darndest to see that it does.

If you are on Facebook or Twitter, I hope you can help me get the word out about this Sunday’s show. I think it’s going to be a good one.

Speaking of recycling and radio…

I’m not the only Chicago radio guy who talks about environmental issues. Yeah, I do it a lot more than most people, but one of my buddies in the broadcasting biz is Mike Stephen with WLUW‘s Outside the Loop RADIO: Chicago’s Almost Above-Ground Audio Magazine

His goal is to cover topics that sometimes fly under the radar in Chicago…with an independent slant. This week Mike gave me a chance to wax poetic about recycling–and the lack of it–in the Windy City, in my position as president of the Chicago Recycling Coalition. And since this fits so well with the panel discussion about Mayor Daley ‘s green accomplishments, I figured I’d give Mike’s show a plug and put this link to our conversation right here.