The [Friday] Papers
So we had a little technical glitch here yesterday. It's been a long time, really. When we first started it seemed like the site was going down every other day. Most of that was the fault of our host at the time, Media Temple. We've been with Hosting Matters for several years now and they've been a pleasure. I've recommended them before and I'll recommend them again: They're aces. Customer service is outstanding, the prices are good and the product is excellent.
Our problem yesterday was primarily that I was futzing with some code in one of our template - the one that controls the rail to your left - and I screwed something up. I've always said that the problem with code is that it does exactly what you tell it to do, not what you mean it to do. Business idea: create a Siri who writes the code for you.
"Siri, rewrite the Must-See TV and Weather Derby code so I change it in the template every day instead of using Dreamweaver files. Because I'm an idiot and can't be trusted anywhere near the inside of a website."
I tracked the ensuing problems - really the disastrous 12-hour domino effect of upgrading my MacBook to OSX Lion, which disables Adobe products such as Dreamweaver - in a brief series of status updates on our Facebook page.
The Beachwood Reporter is currently experiencing technical difficulties. I'm stabbing myself with pencils to see if that does the trick.
The Beachwood Reporter has been partially re-established thanks to the age-old solution of smashing beer cans into my forehead. Somehow that jarred the site loose from the grip of the evil monsters living in my closet. Only the home page is currently askew, but if you drop acid everything strangely falls into place.
And we're back! I know it's only Thursday but the Beachwood Employee of the Week and our nominee for a Pulitzer in Investigative Techwizardry is Nick Shreders! Sure, Nick once improperly diagnosed me with Shingles one night at the bar - I told my real doctor the next day that I was only coming to him for a second opinion - but Nick is tops!
And after another hiccup - site suddenly showed Wednesday and then reverted back to error message - we appear to be up again. I think I'll go take my frustration out on strangers and my liver. Here's the Thursday column for posterity. (The Must-See and weather forecast are from *last* Thursday and if you ask me why I'll put a shiv in your ribs.)
The Must-See TV and Weather Derby boxes are still from last Thursday. We'll be testing a fix over the weekend. Thanks for your patience.
Shared our Facebook page since then, as long as we're there:
Yep, that set of stories pretty much represents the site's interests.
Plus, we have yet another terrific sports story today: More Rare Than Perfect.
And because it's Friday, that means another installment of The Week in Chicago Rock.
Now, on to the news.
1. "More than two years after getting the case, a federal appeals court today ruled that a mentally ill California woman can sue the Chicago Police Department for releasing her into a violent neighborhood where she was raped and nearly killed," the Tribune reports.
"'They might as well have released her into the lions' den at the Brookfield Zoo,' Chief Judge Frank Easterbrook wrote in the opinion from the three-judge panel of the U.S. 7th Circuit Court of Appeals, which said the only way to sort out whether officers violated Christina Eilman's rights is to have a trial."
I agree, for what it's worth, but Easterbrook's opinion disturbs me. Comparing poor black males to animals is never a good idea, and in this case Easterbrook makes it sound almost inevitable that a young woman left in a dangerous Chicago neighborhood would be raped.
"She was lost, unable to appreciate her danger, and dressed in a manner to attract attention," Easterbrook wrote.
Again, I get the point, but the judge comes awfully close to equating the woman's dress with asking for it.
He added, "she is white and well off while the local population is predominantly black and not affluent, causing her to stand out as a person unfamiliar with the environment and thus a potential target for crime."
Another fine line. Yes, dropping this woman off in a dangerous neighborhood was allegedly the wicked point; cops have been known to drop gang members off in rival territory. But the real reason she was so readily brutalized was because she was mentally unstable.
"Eilman, who was thrown or fell from the 7th floor of a public housing building after being assaulted, requires around-the-clock care at her parents' home in California and is dependent on state welfare because she has no health insurance."
See also: "She Begged For Help; Guards Said 'Shut Up'"
2. I'm not following the Jennifer Hudson trial - which is to say the William Balfour trial - but for those who are, the Tribune reports this today:
"In bringing some of their most damning testimony against Jennifer Hudson's former brother-in-law, Cook County prosecutors on Thursday relied on some colorful witnesses, including a former crack addict, a jail inmate and a man who waited more than two years to come forward with his story."
3. "A special Illinois House panel looking into a West Side Democratic lawmaker who faces a federal bribery charge finds itself in a holding pattern," the Tribune reports.
(Aside: I use more Tribune links than I used to because of the Sun-Times paywall. Or more like, I often find ways to skip linking to Sun-Times stories if not necessary by searching out other sources to present to you so you don't run into the paywall the same way I do.)
"The investigatory committee is looking into Rep. Derrick Smith, D-Chicago, who is accused by prosecutors of accepting $7,000 to help a day care center get a state grant.
"Smith was in his seat on the House floor Thursday but did not attend a brief hearing of the Special Investigatory Committee looking into his alleged misdeeds. David Ellis, the lead House attorney on the matter, said Smith's attorney confirmed the lawmaker would not show up despite being welcome."
Here's the reason for this item, though:
"Further complicating matters for the panel is U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald, who indicated he is not willing to provide information about the case beyond the indictment. 'I can tell you that our investigation of Rep. Smith is continuing,' Fitzgerald wrote in a letter to the committee."
The single charge against Smith is a simple one. If the investigation is continuing, that means either Smith is flipping on colleagues - or perhaps mentors Jesse White and Walter Burnett - or Smith isn't cooperating but is nonetheless just the tip of some iceberg Patrick Fitzgerald is on to.
4. "Shea McClellin grew up chasing chickens on a farm in Idaho. Now, he'll get paid to track down the likes of Aaron Rodgers and Matthew Stafford," AP reports.
"The Chicago Bears selected the defensive end from Boise State on Thursday with the 19th pick in the draft, their first under new general manager Phil Emery."
The conventional wisdom seems to be that the Bears drafted McClellin awfully high - he was apparently projected as a second- or third-round pick. But I'm guessing they really like his makeup.
"This is a very natural football player," Emery said. "He plays with a very low pad level."
I'm guessing that means McClellin doesn't play with a lot of pads, which says something about his "toughness."
So there's that.
5. "Chicago parents who complain the school board doesn't listen to them got a lecture on politics Wednesday," WBEZ reports.
"[B]oard president David Vitale said he wanted to remind the public that a longer school day was one of the mayor's key education planks during his campaign."
Yes. But it's not the longer school days that's the issue but Rahm's implementation of it - like so many of his proposals including his infrastructure bank.
So when Vitale goes on to say school officials have listened "night and day" to parents' concerns about the longer day, it's clear that he's not really hearing them.
"And he got elected," Vitale said. "And he got elected by a wide margin across all elements of this city."
Yes, that old bugaboo. Someone's election doesn't mean that voters approve of a candidate's stance on every issue, nor does it mean that they'll agree with the subsequent implementation - there's that ugly word again! - of said promises.
(Under Vitale's logic, Rahm wouldn't be so dead-set against raising taxes beyond water fees and what he's already allowed the school board to do. After all, he campaigned on enacting luxury taxes and got elected by a wide margin across all elements of this city.)
Finally, Vitale told parents that "when you get out there in the world, you don't hear the level of complaint that we hear in this room."
A) That's what that room is for - it's a public meeting for the concerns to be aired!
B) "Out there in the world" means your business buddies whose kids aren't even in public schools. In this room are the parents paying you to educate their children. Get your constituency right.
6. "Lori Healey, head of the Chicago NATO Host committee, said she was surprised by a reported federal government security plan called Operation Red Zone Thursday," WBEZ reports.
"The Chicago Sun-Times reports that Cleophas Bradley, deputy regional director with the Federal Protective Service, told federal employees on Wednesday that the Department of Homeland Security Unit would deploy 'a highly visible police force' near downtown government buildings. That security could start as early as next week.
"'A lot of us seem surprised to read that and obviously the federal government doesn't consult with the city when they do this,' Healey said. 'Everybody was unaware of this.'"
Apparently there's a lot the host committee won't be consulted on. That's what you get when you try to turn an international security summit into a tourist attraction.
(I wasn't able to find it this morning but I'm pretty sure I read that this is the first time a NATO summit has even had a host committee.)
7. "The parent of United Airlines lost $448 million in the first quarter as it dealt with higher fuel prices and hiccups in its integration with Continental Airlines," AP reports.
"Chicago-based United Continental Holdings Inc. said Thursday that the loss amounted to $1.36 per share - more than doubling its loss from the same period last year."
Here's how it happened:
"The airline previously said revenue in February was hurt by a switch to a single computer system for forecasting demand. It ended up selling more seats at lower fares than it would have otherwise.
"Then, on March 3, it merged frequent-flier programs as part of a switch to a single passenger-information system. That caused flight delays for several days. Customer frustration with upgrades and long waits to speak to United agents on the phone persisted for weeks."
"To get ready for the switch, United ran fewer and less-full flights."
9. Working on more about Accretive, which I wrote about yesterday. For such an Ayn Rand devotee, turns out founder and CEO Mary Tolan had no problem taking millions of dollars in taxpayer subsidies from the City of Chicago.
10. "We've tried to ask Democratic state Rep. Monique Davis questions about her ties to the Brainerd Community Development Corp., a nonprofit providing adult literacy, GED and computer classes at her district office on Chicago's South Side," the BGA writes in the Sun-Times today.
But Davis won't talk to us about Brainerd employees who've collected signatures for her nominating petitions, notarized her petitions, examined the petitions of political opponents, donated to her campaign and handled the selection of legislative scholarship recipients.
The Beachwood Tip Line: Silent killer.
Posted on April 27, 2012
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