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The [Friday] Papers

Playing catch-up with the week's news.

Flak Attack
"Shaping public perceptions isn't as easy today as it was when planting a few stories in the right publications could do the trick," Lisa Bertagnoli wrote in Crain's this week in a story about Edelman PR.

You just can't plant stories like you used to!

Bertagnoli doesn't tell us how Edelman plants stories, of course, or if Crain's is one of the right publications. This isn't that kind of story. No one writes those kind of stories. Instead, journalists extol the industry whose work is the diametric opposite of their work - maybe to preserve the option to switch sides one day.

"Traditional media is losing influence, while the blogosphere is quick to punish those suspected of fakery. Indeed, Edelman got spanked in 2006 for Walmarting Across America, a faux blog written by a young couple traveling across the U.S. in an RV. Working Families for Wal-Mart, an organization set up by Edelman, financed the bloggers.

"The company learned its lesson, Mr. Edelman says."

Bertagnoli doesn't tell us what lesson that was. To not act deceptively? To not create astroturf organizations? To not get caught?

Bertagnoli also doesn't supply any links about the fiasco, so I will.

(Walmart/Edelman appears to have been successful in scrubbing Google of even the cached version of the site. Which is just more deception.)

Bertagnoli also ignores the rest of Edelman's dirty history, including their role in Walmart's sleazy - and ultimately successful - effort to break into the Chicago market.

Maybe what we really read this week, then, was Edelman simply planting a story in the right publication.

Race Space Case
"Headlines in the San Antonio Express and the Tampa Bay Times this week declared the nation's cities to be 'almost free of segregation.' USA Today reported that blacks were 'less segregated than ever before,'" Steve Bogira wrote for the Reader on Thursday. "The Sun-Times noted that while Chicago remained the nation's segregation capital, the city 'has experienced some of the sharpest declines' in the nation in big-city segregation in the last ten years.

"These rosy revelations stem from a new study, brightly titled The End of the Segregated Century, funded by the conservative Manhattan Institute. Many of the conclusions reporters have drawn from the study are exaggerated, and some are simply wrong."

Why does this not surprise me? We are not a competent profession.

"In a column Monday in Bloomberg View, one of the two authors of the study, Harvard economist Edward Glaeser, observed that while Chicago remains one of the "most segregated places" in America, 'the Windy City has experienced a particularly dramatic decline in segregation since 2000.'

"But the 'Windy City' in Glaeser's study is the Chicago-Joliet-Naperville metropolitan statistical area, Glaeser acknowledged in an e-mail to me. That includes all of Cook County, eight other Illinois counties, four counties in Indiana, and a county in Wisconsin - an area with a population of ten million. (Chicago's population is 2.7 million.) It is in this much broader area that the study found a significant drop in segregation."

And just in Chicago? Not so much.

Tourism Boorism
"Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced today that the city's tourism functions handled by the Chicago Office of Tourism and Culture, will be shifted to the private, nonprofit (but mostly tax-funded) Chicago Convention and Tourism Bureau, beginning immediately, with the change complete by this summer," Deanna Isaacs reported for the Reader on Wednesday. "CCTB president Don Welsh will head the combined group, which has a goal of raising the number of Chicago visitors by 25 percent (to 50 million annually). But don't hold your breath: the target date for reaching that goal is 2020."

But here's what really caught my eye:

"In addition to the goal of 50 million visitors per year by 2020, the City has set a goal to move into the top five cities for overseas visitation (Chicago currently ranks 10th in the nation); and a preliminary goal of expanding Chicago's market share among overseas visitors to the United States to 6 percent, from the 4.3 percent where it currently stands."

Chicago is only the 10th most visited destination for overseas travelers?

At least in 2010, yes.

The first nine: New York City, Los Angeles, Miami, San Francisco, Orlando, Las Vegas, the District of Columbia, Honolulu and Boston.

Chicago: Second to Nine!

"On Monday, Mayor Rahm Emanuel reluctantly acknowledged that while crime was down overall in Chicago in January, murder was up: there were 54 percent more murders this January than last," Bogira also wrote this week.

"What should we make of this? Not much. Murder rates rise and fall, and criminologists have tried forever to figure out what causes the changes, with minimal success. Moreover, when it comes to crime trends, a year shows very little, a month almost nothing.

"Which is why a crime-fighting boast by the mayor earlier this month was ludicrous."

And some media members ate it up. Click through to find out more.

Compare and Contrast
In this case, police forgot to mention in their report that the suspected offender was a police officer.

In this case, police remembered to note in their report that the suspected offender was related to Richard M. Daley.

Jersey Sneed
Sneed gigged Snooki on Thursday for mistakenly believing New Jersey Governor Chris Christie was running for president.

"This woman has the cranial capacity of a geranium," Sneed wrote.

Sneed's next item:

Puppy Poop
Alas, it's not a Corgi! Sneed can finally put a furry face to our recent tip Prince William and wife, Kate's (nee Middleton) new family addition was a puppy: a cocker spaniel rather than a traditional royal corgi.

So . . . you know . . .

Later, under the headline "Tips & Twaddle," she performs lapdog duty for Pat Quinn. I'll take Snooki if the third option is death.


Hey, give Snooki credit: The last poll I could find found that 70 percent of all voters either hadn't heard of Christie or were undecided about him.

Point Missed
"[Cook County State's Attorney Anita Alvarez] scoffed at the idea that she had anything to do with burying an investigation into the 2004 death of David Koschman during a drunken confrontation with a nephew of former Mayor Richard Daley," the Tribune reports. "Earlier this week, Alvarez's office opposed a request by Koschman's mother that a special prosecutor be appointed to look into the investigation into his death.

"'I could never have predicted that I would be accused of engaging in a political cover-up . . . to protect the nephew of our former mayor,' Alvarez said. 'Never mind that I did not know and have never met the person that I am accused of sacrificing my integrity to cover up (for).'"


No one is necessarily accusing you of covering up the incident when it occurred; they are simply wondering why you so vehemently oppose an outside look at how the case was handled - a position at odds with what you said just last March.

Cook County State's Attorney Anita Alvarez asked the Illinois State Police on Thursday to investigate the Chicago Police Department's handling of a homicide case involving Richard J. "R.J." Vanecko, who's a nephew of Mayor Daley and White House Chief of Staff William Daley.

"I think there should be an independent police investigation," Alvarez said.

She pointed to a series of stories in the Chicago Sun-Times this month that raised questions about the police investigation into the violent death of David Kosch­man seven years ago.

What changed?

"I would welcome an independent agency looking into this, like the state police,'' Alvarez said, "basically to determine if it was a complete investigation and whether the witnesses' statements were accurately recorded . . .it is my belief that an independent investigation from a separate police agency is clearly warranted to ensure that we reach the truth in this case."

Of course, asking the Illinois State Police (!) to do the investigation called Alvarez's sincerity into question, and that idea was soon dispatched.

If Alvarez was a real civic leader, as anyone in her job ought to be though they rarely if ever have been, she would say this:

"While I have full confidence in the fine men and women of the Chicago Police Department and in the Cook County State's Attorney's Office, I nonetheless support an outside, independent investigation into the circumstances and investigation of David Koschman's death. I do so not to call into question the actions of anyone involved in law enforcement, but to settle the questions that have arisen surrounding the case so we can instill some measure of confidence in our criminal justice system. God knows, Cook County and Chicago don't have a perfect track record - and there are plenty of problems we are still ironing out. Improper influence - some call it clout - is a longstanding problem in our political culture and I want to make it absolutely clear that not only will it not be tolerated in my administration, but that we will happily comply with outside reviews of cases deemed worthy of new inspection by the courts."


And paging Joe Ferguson!

"[Alvarez] disclosed that she and City of Chicago Inspector General Joseph Ferguson are 'partners' in an 'ongoing investigation' of Koschman's death and how it was handled by the Chicago Police Department and the State's Attorney's office," the Sun-Times reported this week.


Ferguson doesn't have jurisdiction to investigate the Cook County State's Attorney's Office, but what business does Alvarez have taking part in an investigation that may lead there anyway?

"That investigation 'involves non-public proceedings that have not yet concluded,' she wrote."

So a double-secret investigation.

"Alvarez criticized the Sun-Times' reporting, saying that during interviews with Inspector General Ferguson's office, 'several of the witnesses have given sworn statements directly refuting information they purportedly gave to the Sun-Times. In fact, a series of witnesses have testified what they said to the reporters was false.'"

Alvarez later announced she would investigate all witnesses whose stories didn't line up with the ones told by police until they got it right.

"After years of a free ride courtesy of a clout-laden deal, Lollapalooza might have to start paying Cook County taxes," the Tribune reports.

"Commissioners voted Wednesday to require organizers of events like the giant summer lakefront music festival to come to the County Board for approval of a long-running tax break.

"The organizers have had county and city amusement taxes waived since relaunching Lollapalooza in Grant Park in 2005. It was part of a deal brokered with the help of lobbyist Mark Vanecko - a nephew of then-Mayor Richard Daley."


The contract said "relative of Daley" on it, but Anita Alvarez says an independent investigation isn't necessary.


Jim DeRogatis has done the heavy lifting on this. Check out his remarkable reporting.

"Veteran Republican U.S. Rep. Judy Biggert will not face a March primary challenge in a newly drawn west and south suburban congressional district now that state elections officials have tossed would-be foes off the ballot," the Tribune reports

"The Illinois State Board of Elections' decision Thursday to remove John 'Jack' Cunningham from the 11th Congressional District ballot represented a political embarrassment: As Kane County clerk, he's the county's chief election official."

Mitt Rahmney
"Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel weighed in on the Republican presidential contest today, saying GOP front runner Mitt Romney may be 'too far removed' from the concerns of poor people," the Tribune reports.

"You have to be concerned about people in dire economic situations. While there is a safety net, it has been chopped at and hit at regularly," Emanuel said.


"Maybe Mr. Romney is a bit too far removed from the day-to-day concerns of people who live paycheck-to-paycheck."

Grand Slam
"Denny Jacobs, a former state senator, had a special ally last year when the state's largest electric utility company hired him to lobby for a controversial smart-grid energy bill that many say makes it easier for utilities to raise rates," the Chicago News Cooperative reports.

"His son, State Senator Mike Jacobs, chairman of the Senate Energy Committee, sponsored the bill and actively promoted the campaign of the Commonwealth Edison Company, one of his father's clients, to win its passage."


"The smart grid legislation is one of several bills pushed by Senator Jacobs that benefited clients of his lobbyist father, a review of legislation by Medill Watchdog, a journalism program at Northwestern University, found. And Mike Jacobs is hardly the only Illinois public official supporting measures backed by close relatives.

"Medill Watchdog examined statements of economic interests of public officials, lobbying registrations filed with the City of Chicago, Cook County and the state, and records of state bills and local ordinances. The investigation found 14 elected officials from Cook County alone who, while not lobbyists themselves, are related to or in business with lobbyists.

"The review found more than a dozen instances in which an official took action that benefited the lobbying client of a family member or business partner."

But Anita Alvarez says she's conducted a private investigation and is quite satisfied that a further look isn't necessary.

The Week in Occupy Chicago
Preparing for the Chicago Spring.

The Week in Chicago Rock
They played at a venue near you. We have the video.

Honoring Angelo Dundee
A (Chicago) Tribute To The World's Greatest Cornerman.

The Beer Thinker
Tapping Lincoln Square.


The Beachwood Tip Line: On tap.


Posted on February 3, 2012

MUSIC - Millions Of New Guitar Players.
TV - "One America News" is AT&T.
POLITICS - When Wall Street Came To My Mobile Home Park.
SPORTS - Tonyball, Bears On The Run, Eyes On The Sky & More!

BOOKS - China Holding Swedish Publisher.


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