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The [Friday] Papers

First, some housekeeping.

* CORRECTION: In Thursday's column, I excerpted this from the Tribune: "[CTA Chairwoman Carole] Brown complained that she saw four CTA buses broken down on the street, with passengers inside, while she was driving home from work on Tuesday," with a link to the story strategically placed on "while she was driving home home from work."

In the comment section of this posting on her blog, Brown says: "Sorry to disappoint everyone, but I did not drive to or from work on Tuesday. As I have said many times, I take the bus to and from work several times a week, depending on my travel schedule."

* CLARIFICATION: I erred yesterday saying Cathleen Falsani is leaving the Sun-Times. She is leaving her beat to work on two books she has agreed to write for Zondervan in the next two years, but she will continue to have a presence at the paper by retaining her Friday column. Apologies, I goofed.

* COULTERFICATION: I also erred, I have concluded after reading my mail, in the way I handled an Ann Coulter link in yesterday's column. I regret running the item the way I did, rather than just sticking with showing it with the other link to a Fox News parody as examples of right-wing Obama backlash. As vile and disgusting as Ann Coulter is, I think it's important to track the backlash from both left and right, and to be aware of the fulminating hate out there - which is obviously much different than merely being critical of Obama and the fawning coverage surrounding him, as I have been. As I previously wrote of a Mark Steyn column, it's enemies like him and Coulter that could drive people like me deep into the heart of Camp Obama - and in some ways is the stated rationale for his campaign; to drive that ridiculousness, on left and right, out of our discourse.

Because I admitted I found a few of Coulter's lines "undeniably funny," I added an air of approval to the link, and while I did and do find some of Coulter's lines in that column clever and funny - I do, I wish I didn't, but I'm not going to lie - I was wrong to lend any sort of validation to the type of work she does.

And now . . . the Friday funnies.

1. Is this Todd Stroger blog real or a dead-on parody? (via Bill Baar's West Side)

2. Point Blank. They had a hit a couple decades ago with "Nicole."

3. A Sun-Times reporter was handcuffed at a protest yesterday, and I feel a smidgen bad for him, but what I really think is that I wish this would happen to more reporters so they'd take complaints of police mistreatment by activists and minorities more seriously.

4. The Illinois Campaign for Political Reform has just done the city a huge favor by building a database of campaign contributions to local officials.

5. Mayoral challenger Dorothy Brown was on Al Sharpton's radio show yesterday and said she was baffled by the lack of opposition to a mayor who not only has presided over so much corruption, but who ignored police torture while he was the Cook County State's Attorney.

Brown also told Sharpton that Barack Obama told her early in the campaign that he wasn't likely to make an endorsement. He did, however, call Brown the night before he publicly backed Daley, though he didn't explain why.

6. John Kass identifies "the rigid news cycles that have preempted coverage of the mayoral election: Like the All Obama All The Time news cycle. And the Let's Ridicule Todd Stroger Because He's Really Not Powerful Like Daley So It's Safe To Poke Him With Sharp Sticks news cycle. And the Olympics In 2016 Won't Cost A Dime news cycle."

He also identifies why the Daley campaign agenda behind the latest criminal charges to come out of City Hall.

7. Rush Limbaugh on Rex Grossman: Just a media prank?

8. Backyard Tire Fire plays with Jay Bennett at the Double Door on Saturday. See what Beachwood music man Don Jacobson has to say about the tire fire trio.

9. So four years ago the mayor filed 140,000 signatures on 5,884 pages of nominating petitions. Now?

"This time around, Daley required circulators to sign a pledge that they were not being coerced to do the work with promises of a city job or a promotion," the Sun-Times reports. "Many formerly loyal petition circulators balked, and the mayor turned in only 29,000 signatures."

So, um, what does that tell you about how the mayor ran his operation until the U.S. Attorney got too close for comfort?

10. "U.S. newspapers that spend more money on their newsrooms will make more money, according to a study released on Wednesday, which questioned the wisdom of the media industry's trend of cutting jobs to save costs," Reuters reports.

"The authors of the University of Missouri-Columbia study, which was based on 10 years of financial data, said news quality affects profit more than spending on circulation, advertising and other parts of the business."

Tribune and Sun-Times executives said the study didn't take into account their personal bonus packages.

11. "In his State of the Union address, President Bush proposed tax cuts to make health insurance more affordable for the uninsured," economist Robert Frank notes in The New York Times. "The next day, Stephen Colbert had this to say on his show on Comedy Central: 'It's so simple. Most people who can't afford health insurance also are too poor to owe taxes. But if you give them a deduction from the taxes they don't owe, the can use the money they're not getting back from what they haven't given to buy the health care they can't afford."

12. "In 2003, Daley turned his back on a campaign promise to realign Chicago's 279 police beats, arguing that it would undermine community policing and deprive middle-class neighborhoods of the officers they need to deter crime," Fran Spielman writes today. "Instead of picking a fight with aldermen from middle-class wards by enlarging police beats, Daley chose the path of least resistance."

She's halfway there, but only halfway. How in the world would beat realignment undermine community policing? Beat realignment is crucial to community policing; besides putting cops where they are most needed, novel idea I know, beat realignment puts cops closer to the people in high-crime districts where police are otherwise overwhelmed and hardly have time to walk the streets.

And to be clear, when Spielman says "enlarging police beats," which sounds like a bad idea resulting in less coverage on the face of it, she means enlarging beats where the least amount of crime occurs, and shrinking beats where the most crime occurs. How does that not make sense? Unless the mayor would simply add more street cops to the force - a better idea, I think, than surveillance cameras at every intersection.

13. Obama: Better Than Civil Rights!

14. The Tribune editorial board has video on its website of its interviews with aldermanic candidates. But I don't see video of its session with the mayor.

15. The chamber of commerce's big talk about backing aldermanic candidates to counter heightened union involvement in this year's aldermanic elections has turned out to be . . . just talk.

16. "At the last City Council meeting, Alderman Troutman said that her signature had been forged on papers that gave approval to a $77 million housing (mixed income) project that has the ability to turn the community of Woodlawn around," Hermene Hartman writes in N'digo.

"How could an alderman stand up in a room of law, and claim forgery? Who could have forged her signature?

"Sounds like an outright lie, and hopefully voters will find this information troubling enough to replace Troutman in the upcoming election."

17. "Scaffolding popped up last week around the Farwell Building, 664 N. Michigan," David Roeder reported this week (third item). "It is there to keep pedestrians from being hit by falling facade pieces, said Dave Bayless, spokesman for the owner, the Terra Museum of American Art."


"'This is a typical ploy to get a building demolished,' Michael Moran, vice president of Preservation Chicago, wrote Roeder. "See, it's decrepit," owners claim. "I even had to put scaffolding around it. Now don't you see why I have to demolish it?"'

"Bayless replied, 'The singular objective is safety and operating out of an abundance of caution.' He said the museum was reacting to engineering reports."

18. Robert Novak sells access.

19. We're losing an American city. Where's the surge for New Orleans?

20. On the promised further Obama material, I'm thinking of creating a space on our Politics page to house all of our Obama coverage. I've gotten two kinds of feedback from what I've written so far - some readers appreciate having a place to get an alternate view of Obama that dissects the hype, and others think I've gone way overboard and I've gotten tiresome with my Obama critiques. I think it's possible both camps are right. The hoopla surrounding his announcement speech may have sent me over the bend - not in substance, but in style. I'll try to retain the proper tone and focus. Either way, with a Chicagoan in the presidential race, Obama comments and critiques threaten to overtake this column, so hopefully we'll have something new in place next week to contain it all.

21. A Brief History of Rock.

The Beachwood Tip Line: Now with extended winter hours.


Posted on February 16, 2007

MUSIC - Lyric Opera Strike Settled.
POLITICS - USA Today's Op-Ed Disaster.
SPORTS - SportsMonday: Come On, Vic!

BOOKS - Chicago Book Haul: The Dial.

PEOPLE PLACES & THINGS - Chicagoetry: West Town Blues.

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