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City's Disaster Czar Resigns

By Alicia Dorr in News on May 31, 2007 6:02PM

In a press conference earlier this morning, Daley announced that Cortez Trotter has resigned. The first and only disaster chief has been in place for just 14 months, but is now leaving for a job in the private sector.

The position was created as a response to a lot of things, including the fatal 2003 fire at 69 W. Washington St., the abominable response P1010020.jpgto Hurricane Katrina and the threat of biological warfare or an extreme health epidemic. During his reign he coordinated a downtown building evacuation to test the city's disaster preparedness, which led to the development of the new emergency alert service from the Building Owners and Managers Association.

Other than these things, which are excellent steps in the right direction, we're kind of at a loss. The job is finished? As a former fire commissioner (the first African-American one at that) and someone with 30 years working in the city, we thought the appointment could do some good.

It's not that he hasn't, it's just, well, do you feel any more prepared? Most of us have seen the posters, banners and signs at bus stops with lists of things that you should always have on hand in case a worst case scenario becomes THE scenario, but we weren't one of the 3,000 people evacuated from our building. Seriously — have you seen how people behave during a fire drill?

Trotter denounced the report from Homeland Security ranking Chicago one of the least prepared cities in America with regard to disaster readiness. We were even pretty hyped by his undisguised anger at Homeland Security for making the city a scapegoat 90 days after it passed an inspection from the agency.

So, basically, we want to see our own report card. What's changed in 14 months? Are all of the agencies and departments that would be on the front line of a disaster communicating better now? If a terrorist attack happened on a Tuesday when the horn is scheduled to go off, how would we know? (Sorry, that one has always bothered us.) With all he did to raise awareness and more, we're obviously glad that there was a disaster czar. We just wonder if in such uncertain times whether it would hurt so much to still have one.

Image via Malcolm X College's website.