The [Friday] Papers
By Steve Rhodes
The White House got what it wanted with those photos of the beer summit on newspapers, websites and TV stations across the country. But reporters were kept away from the actual conversation.
If this was anything but a cynical political stunt, the president would have miked everyone up and broadcast the conversation to the nation.
I'll take that wager!
I'm beyond certain that other cities have or would dare to produce a TV show about cheeseburgers.
I'm not certain, however, that in any other city would such a highly paid newspaper columnist make such a claim.
First, get homeless.
Item: "Killer Mistakenly Freed From Jail Turns Himself In."
Will wait to escape when the economy is better.
Item: "Ald. Danny Solis to lead aldermanic group to learn about Beijing's experience and study ways to maximize the benefits of Chicago's bid for the 2016 Games."
First, get totalitarian government to pick up the bill . . . er, wait a minute . . .
Item: "Urlacher calls Cutler a pussy."
Child support payments to follow. Maybe.
Item: City budget worse than expected.
That is the joke.
How incredibly inflammatory!
By the time there's a jury in this case, no one's gonna remember such weak tea. We barely remember it now.
"I don't like seeing public officials accused of wrongdoing when there is nothing to substantiate the accusations.
"I worked on Gov. Blagojevich's transition team to advise the incoming administration on how to set up systems for running state government efficiently and transparently. From the beginning, the administration indicated that it wanted to clean up and improve the state's massive bureaucracy so as to better serve the public. When Blagojevich took office in January 2003, there was massive turnover in personnel. No one knew how many employees were really functioning, and how many were supernumeraries. Many employees had been given promotions and locked into their positions. On top of that, Illinois was in the midst of a widespread investigation into corruption under the former governor, George Ryan. Public trust was at an all-time low.
"Blagojevich began turning things around, from reducing administrative waste and redundancy to providing more funds for critical services. The governor sought the input of government watchdogs and respected public servants in developing landmark ethics legislation that he later signed into law. For the first time, an independent inspector general - not some political lapdog - was appointed to investigate wrongdoing in state government. There is a functioning Board of Ethics to review the complaints of wrongdoing. Because of the reforms, state officials can't leave government on a swinging door to work for businesses they once regulated. We have a gift ban that prohibits lobbyists from using trips and expensive presents to influence lawmakers. No, we didn't get all that we suggested enacted into law. But most of the proposals that were made by the advisory group are now the law. And yes, that means we now see and hear about more investigations. That is exactly how the system is supposed to work.
"The governor was able to control headcount of employees by holding agencies accountable for hiring only for positions necessary to the mission of the agency. That reform helped reduce the size of government by 13,000 positions. While that is not popular in all quarters of a state nurtured on political plums for favored people, it has made government more efficient and saved hundreds of millions of dollars. He changed the personnel tracking system so that candidates for Rutan-covered jobs - those that by law are required to be free of political influence - are reviewed on the merits without disclosing the names of applicants.
"Those are the facts. But you wouldn't know it by reading or listening to the media. The emphasis there is on vague allegations that 'some' employees have been hired improperly. There are 'lists' of open positions that have gone through various persons in the governor's office. But there are no specifics as to whether such positions are 'exempt' or Rutan-covered, or evidence that people whose names may be on lists were actually treated differently than anyone else. Every administration has the right to fill certain positions with people they think will best help them implement their agenda. And for those positions where politics cannot be a factor in the selection of a candidate, there is no prohibition against anyone making recommendations for the jobs. There is, however, a very clear testing and interview process that must be used to select the best candidate. The newspaper stories over the past few weeks do not offer any evidence that those processes were violated.
"In fact, most of the recent allegations seem to come from disgruntled ex-employees. No one has even checked as to whether the disgruntlement is about loss of the job or something fishy on the job. If there are credible charges of improper hiring, they should go to the inspector general, state law enforcement and the U.S. attorney's office.
"Vague allegations of improper employment practices tar and feather the whole state work force. We need state government workers who take pride in their reputations, in their work efforts, who get 'psychic' income from their jobs, to make up for the gap between their pay scales and those of the private sector. We aren't going to encourage those kinds of applicants if we don't acknowledge reforms that are working and instead beat up on everybody who goes to work for the state of Illinois."
More Costco, Less Walmart
"I have a friend who drives trailer trucks. We could steal the trailers, then they would have to negotiate with us," Robles suggested to Meinster. "Or we could deflate the tires." The union rep appreciated Robles' fearlessness but talked him out of his schemes. They hit upon another idea, one with a long and glorious history in union lore: they could occupy the plant. Robles immediately liked the idea. In other countries, including his native Mexico, factory occupations are fairly common. But in the United States the tactic had not been used other than in a few scattered cases since organized labor's heyday in the 1930s, when auto workers brought the industry's top companies to their knees with sit-down strikes. Occupying the factory would likely mean that people would be arrested, Robles realized, and there was no guarantee it would work or even gain popular support. But these were economic times unlike any in the past 30 years, and drastic times call for drastic measures.
"But Chicago's interesting, an old town. Lots of little bars, lots of nooks and crannies. It has a certain vibe to it."
The Beachwood Tip Line: Vibratory.
Posted on July 31, 2009
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