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The [Friday] Papers

His late turn to political commentary notwithstanding, Roger Ebert was someone we could all agree on. Last of the giants in Chicago journalism.

Our very own J.J. Tindall gives tribute in his own, inimitable way.

Rahm's Wrong
"Mayor Rahm Emanuel backed his public schools chief Thursday amid charges that the plan to close 54 schools is racist, and leveled criticism at the Chicago Teachers Union for what he said was its inability to articulate an alternative to continuing with a failed status quo," the Tribune reports.

That's just false.

Just a year ago, for example, the CTU put forth "The Schools Chicago's Students Deserve," its own vision of reform subtitled "Research-based Proposals To Strengthen Elementary And Secondary Education In The Chicago Public Schools."

And that's just one of a myriad of plans the CTU has devised, though it's not really their job to do so; plans such as the Bronzeville Global Achievers Village, "an aligned, community driven plan for Dyett High School and the following feeder elementary schools; Mollison, Price, Fuller, Reavis and Jackie Robinson."

And so on.

In fact, the union has done nothing but present alternative visions for the district for the last 20 years - and they aren't the only ones. Where the hell have you been, Rahm?


"Emanuel also said Thursday he 'won't accept when people are asked What's your alternative, what's your idea? and there's silence. The status quo cannot handle silence."

No wonder people feel like they aren't being heard. All Rahm hears is silence.


"We must continue to challenge the status quo."
- Karen Lewis, March 27, Rally To Save Our Schools


The fact is that Rahm has put the status quo on steroids. His plan is merely an extension of the Daley plan before him, with an extra dose of his trademark aggression.

Bus Tour Blues
"The CTU says people do not understand how disruptive and possibly dangerous the plan to close 54 under-performing CPS schools is," ABC7 Chicago reports.

"They filled up a bus with their supporters, as well as elected officials, who joined them in their call for a moratorium on school closings in Chicago."

Unfortunately, ABC7's idea of "balance" is also to repeat falsities instead of vetting them.

"But, nearby a non-profit says there's little vitriol on the footsteps where they're explaining block-by-block how the school consolidation will unfold."

Right. The parental anger at community events, this week's school board meeting, this week's city council hearing and in the mediasphere is just an illusion.

"What they're most pleased about is that their school that their child is now leaving a failing school and going to a school that's either a Level 2 or a Level 1," said Stand for Children's Donna Hardy.

Patently not true

"Late Thursday afternoon, CPS put out a statement, saying, the school-closing plan is about getting kids out of the trap of bad schools."

Patently not true, besides the fact that Barbara Byrd-Bennett said repeatedly over the last year that no schools would be closed because of performance but only "utilization."

"They stressed, any kid who has to move is going to be going to a better school."

Again, total media malfeasance to let this statement stand.


Meanwhile, Fran Spielman objectively "reports" that Byrd-Bennett "turned the tables on Lewis by saying what's racist is to refuse to challenge a status quo that's failing African-American students."

Spielman didn't ask Byrd-Bennett if she was therefore calling U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan racist since he was in charge of the status quo when it was failing black kids. Or Ron Huberman, who is black, and therefore, in Byrd-Bennett's estimation, cannot participate in policies with racist effects. Or Richard M. Daley, a close friend of her boss, the current mayor.


"The mayor also ridiculed Stacy Davis Gates, political activities director for the Chicago Teachers Union, for being dead silent when an aldermen asked her what concessions the union was willing to make in order to keep some of the 54 schools open."

Maybe Gates was confused by the question. I am.

In other words, the mayor suggested the status quo could be maintained if only the union would make concessions.


One concession the union supports is the mayor giving up his TIF slush fund and returning that money to the schools.

Mumbo Jumbo
No pun intended, but the parties involved in Wrigley Field renovation negotiations have done a remarkable job of hiding the ball. Ever since the Tribune Company began "updating" Wrigley by installing lights, the third rail of renovations has always been a Jumbotron. A hulking electronic scoreboard has always been considered the unacceptable point of no return. You might as well rip out the ivy and put a dome on the thing. The fact that it's on the way has been buried because, well, that's how the sources leaking to the media want it.

The city is missing Blair Kamin just about now. (He's at Harvard on a fellowship.)


"According to data from [our] Influence Explorer, MLB organizations pumped in over $24 million to politicians, PACs and independent expenditure groups throughout the 2012 election cycle," the Sunlight Foundation reports.

"Our survey, which looked at contributions by club employees and members of ownership groups, showed five clubs surpassing the million dollar mark for campaign contributions in the 2011-2012 political cycle: the Chicago Cubs blew the rest of the teams away with a staggering $13.9 million, followed by the Baltimore Orioles with $1.8 million, the San Francisco Giants with $1.5 million, the Boston Red Sox with $1.3 million and the Milwaukee Brewers, whose employees gave slightly more than $1 million."

So, yeah, the Ricketts' need that Jumbotron dough.

"The Cubs organization, whose billionaire owner Joe Ricketts went on an 'ending spending' spree, maintained the highest overall donation rate to Republicans with an astounding $12.7 million, mostly going to super PACs."

That's where your money is going, Cubs fans.


And let's not forget: The Cubs are the most profitable team in baseball.

How did a franchise with one of the most dismal records in sports history become so valuable? Just spitballin' here, but maybe it had something to do with a timeless Wrigley Field and a phenomenon created by fans now priced out of the one-time baseball Eden.

In the Ricketts' estimation, though, they just haven't wrung enough out of the ol' ballpark. It must be bled dry, until it dies.


Remember when Tom Ricketts just wanted his one Toyota sign?

I do.

"Ricketts said the family has no intentions of installing other signs along the outfield," the Tribune reported back then in 2010.


"[Ald. Tom] Tunney agreed to support the sign because the team has no other plans for outfield advertising within the next four years, and owners agreed to work with the alderman on a master plan for future advertising at the park, the alderman's spokesman said," Crain's reported.


""I respect the fact that people like Wrigley the way it is," Ricketts told AP. "I really do. And we are honestly more committed to preservation than anyone."


Reminder: MSNBC Helped Lie Us Into War
And the Chicago press didn't care when an erstwhile Chicagoan suffered collateral damage.

The Week In Chicago Rock
Nick Cave, Sigur Ros, Garbage, The Joy Formidable, Lianne La Havas and Alexz Johnson.

Remembering Patty "Big Hair" Miller
Chicago loses a rocker.

The Political Odds
Slightly updated.

Steinberg, Captain Flint And The Zombie Makers
Welcome to the Midland Authors awards.


The Beachwood Tip Line: All thumbs.


Posted on April 5, 2013

MUSIC - Did Academia Kill Jazz?
TV - Hugely Profitable Netflix Pays $0 In Taxes.
POLITICS - The Political Odds.
SPORTS - Beachwood Sports Radio: Good Ship Cubs Runs Aground.

BOOKS - Close Knit.

PEOPLE PLACES & THINGS - Milwaukee Now Bobblehead Capital.

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