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The [Friday] Papers

"It's time for the president and his administration to exercise the moral leadership of the highest office of the nation that is supposed to embody the ideals found in the Declaration of Independence and Bill of Rights," the Sun-Times said in an editorial in 1986.

"We are diminished as a nation and as the guardian of precious human freedoms when we fail to act in support of those principles."

For more, including a Mike Royko column on Nelson Mandela, see Flashback: Time To Act On S. Africa.

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More on Mandela:

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Wrangling Rangel
"Juan Rangel, longtime leader of the politically powerful United Neighborhood Organization, has stepped aside from his $250,000-a-year post as UNO's chief executive in the wake of a scandal that cost the group millions of dollars in state funding and led to a federal investigation of its bond dealings," the Sun-Times reports.

The Beachwood Bookmaking Bureau has made the proper adjustment.

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"The influential Hispanic community group operates the largest charter-school network in Illinois."

Privatization only privatizes greed, corruption and incompetence, it doesn't eliminate it.

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"Rangel's departure 'by mutual agreement' with the board of the not-for-profit group is effective immediately, UNO officials said Friday."

Right. The board mutually agreed to kick Rangel out the door and Rangel mutually agreed that all involved would say his departure was by mutual agreement.

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"Rangel had three family members on the UNO payroll. Sources said two of the relatives quit recently, including deputy chief of staff Carlos Jaramillo, Rangel's nephew."

Maybe they got a better offer from Joe Berrios.

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"Reached by phone, Rangel hung up on a reporter."

The privatization of not commenting.

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"Rangel has close ties to politicians including Mayor Rahm Emanuel, whose 2011 campaign Rangel co-chaired, Ald. Edward M. Burke (14th) and Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan (D-Chicago), who sponsored a $98 million state school-construction grant to UNO in 2009 that has fueled its rapid growth as a charter-school operator."

Reached for comment, Emanuel, Burke and Madigan each said they had never heard of Rangel. By mutual agreement.

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Vetting Vanecko
"Attorneys for former Mayor Richard M. Daley's nephew Richard J. 'R.J.' Vanecko want to keep one of Cook County's most celebrated prosecutors from testifying at Vanecko's trial in the death of David Koschman," the Sun-Times reports.

"They say in a court filing that Thomas Epach Jr. - who prosecuted more than 150 murder cases before taking a top job in the Chicago Police Department - has said he wanted someone charged in Koschman's death in 2004."

I'm fairly certain this is the first time we're hearing this.

"Epach was a top aide to then-police Supt. Phil Cline in 2004. Epach was among 146 witnesses interviewed during the investigation by special prosecutor Dan K. Webb that led to Vanecko's indictment last December on a charge of involuntary manslaughter."

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"Epach, who left the police department several years ago, declined to comment.

"I am bound by the secrecy of the special grand jury and the order of Judge Michael P. Toomin," he said in an e-mail, referring to the Cook County judge who appointed Webb last year to reinvestigate Koschman's death and to examine the conduct of police and prosecutors, who decided not to charge Daley's nephew.

Actually, the secrecy rules for grand juries don't apply to witnesses - they are free to talk as much as they want. I'm not aware of Toomin issuing a gag order, either, and sources close to Google agree. But if I'm wrong, someone please let me know.

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New Blue Hooey
"$492 Million Overhaul Of Blue Line Could Cut Trip From Downtown To O'Hare By 10 Minutes."

That's $49 million per minute.

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Seriously, possibly (note the "could") cutting travel time between downtown and O'Hare by 10 minutes is not exactly a great selling point - especially given that it's going to take four years to do it. The story is framed that way, though, because that's the way the Emanuel administration framed it for reporters. The alternative was to simply announce what amounts to a needed but routine upgrade of the line.

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"Blue Line rider Megan Groves, 34, of Wicker Park, agreed with that priority.

"It's going to affect more people [than an express train to O'Hare]," Groves said. "These repairs will affect all the people who live along the Blue Line and use it for work and play as opposed to people who are tourists."

I love this. "Remember, we need a quote from a Blue Line rider!'

It's just one of the more ridiculous conventions of old-timey journalism. The first three riders approached probably said, "So what!" or "Where'd they get that money all of a sudden?" or "What's the Blue Line?"

(Then again, other riders probably weren't approached because reporter Rosalind Rossi probably just called a familiar name.)

What editors really mean is "Remember, we need a quote from a Blue Line rider that comports with the tone and angle of the story. We think this is a good thing so let's find someone to say that for us."

In this case, the rider is validating what CTA officials told reporters - that maintenance upgrades that might save 10 minutes for airport users are preferable to an express train. Now, I live on the Blue Line and I'm all for repairs. But c'mon!

"These repairs will affect all the people who live along the Blue Line and use it for work and play as opposed to people who are tourists," Groves says.

I don't mean to pick on Groves, especially given her Occupy affiliation, which is righteous in my book, but I wonder if she was just parroting back what the reporter said ("So, do you think these repairs are preferable to an express train because they will affect all the people who live along the Blue Line . . . ").

First, the city desperately wants to lure tourists to the Blue Line; that was a big part of the mayor's rationale for raising fares from O'Hare. Soak them, not us. So while I usually side with improving the lives of people who live here instead of people who visit, it's not an entirely bad thing to provide revenue-generating airport services. Plus, people who live here use the airport too.

Second, if the upgrades will (possibly) save 10 minutes from O'Hare to downtown, I'm guessing me and Groves will get about an extra 30 seconds at most out of that from our Wicker Park station. I'd rather see the city benefit from an express train.

Of course, it's not an either-or, except as framed by the CTA and passed along by reporters.

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Also:

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"At Thursday's news conference on the Blue Line project at the Logan Square station, Mayor Rahm Emanuel said the new service will be fit for 'the 21st century economy,'" the Tribune reports.

One thing it won't be is an experience rivaling much-pricier airport express rail service operating in London, Tokyo, Hong Kong and other world-class cities, an idea that Emanuel's predecessor espoused as recently as 2010.

It was then that Richard M. Daley said he was talking with potential investors from China, Japan and the Middle East about building and operating O'Hare 'bullet trains.' He also envisioned building a magnetic levitation, or maglev, train to O'Hare, after he rode aboard one in Shanghai reaching a top speed of 268 mph.

Chicago's plans for a premium, privately operated O'Hare express train, outfitted with airline-style seats and upscale amenities, have sat dormant for years, along with the uncompleted Block 37 'super station' in the Loop that was supposed to serve as the downtown hub.

"Just think, it's seven minutes, they can get almost to downtown," Daley said in 2010. "Seven minutes. That is unbelievable."

I don't know about the amenities, but yes, it would've been awesome. Unfortunately, the city placed a big bet on a dream instead of doing the hard work of actually putting together a plan.

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"Gov. Pat Quinn has also quietly dropped an idea he floated in 2011, one asking Amtrak to examine the logistics and costs of operating nonstop passenger service between Union Station and O'Hare.

"The ridership simply wasn't there to support the estimated $20 million to $50 million cost, not including building new tracks on right-of-way owned by the Canadian National Railway, to accommodate the trains, Joe Shacter, director of public and intermodal transportation at the Illinois Department of Transportation told the Tribune on Thursday."

That, also, sounds like a good idea - and I wonder why the ridership wouldn't be there given the humongous amount of traffic O'Hare serves. The cost also sounds relatively reasonable. Is Union Station as the destination the problem? I hear there's an empty superstation available . . .

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The Worst Best Rankings
In The College Football Report.

Beachwood Photo Booth: Mori Milk
Delivering the goods.

The Week In Chicago Rock
Featuring: Riitz, Snow Tha Product, Polica, Robbie Fulks with Steve Dawson and Diane Christiansen, The English Beat, Max Bermis, Thy Art Is Murder, and REO Speedwagon, Styx and Ted Nugent from the Rock to the Rescue benefit in Bloomington.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: To the rescue.



Permalink

Posted on December 6, 2013


MUSIC - The Weekend In Chicago Rock.
TV - Slow TV Chicago.
POLITICS - Dangerous, Low-Wage Industries Depend On Immigrants, Refugees.
SPORTS - Wrong Foot Louie vs. The Fireball Kid!

BOOKS - Meet Chicago's American Writers Museum.

PEOPLE PLACES & THINGS - Meet Limo Bob.


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