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The [Friday] Papers

1. "I think one thing that is true about what's been lost is that our politics has become or feels very much like an insider's game. I think people feel that you've got the two parties splitting the pot, and ordinary voters are left out of the process."

- Barack Obama, February 10, 2007, Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

2. "Obama, who has campaigned as a political outsider, deftly cultivated insiders in nearly every corner of the political establishment," the Tribune reports today, in the latest installment in their "Making of a Candidate" series - this one about how Obama grew his fundraising operation.

Tony Rezko was Obama's first donor, the Trib reports. "From there Obama built a network of politically active African-American money managers, and advocated for them in Springfield. He then began to tap Mayor Richard Daley's lucrative grid of donors."

3. "During his first state Senate campaign, Obama told the Chicago Reader that he had built strong relationships with people inside Daley's administration but had not asked for their campaign support nor sought the mayor's endorsement."

4. "Between the years of 1972 and 1991, approximately 135 African-American men and women were arrested and tortured at the hands of former Chicago Police Commander Jon Burge and officers under his command at Area 2 police headquarters. Some of these victims were as young as thirteen years old. Various court cases have established that the methods of torture used in the interrogation of suspects included electric shock to the ears and genitalia, mock executions, suffocation, and burning. While Jon Burge was ultimately fired by the Chicago Police Department, not a single perpetrator of the tortures has ever been criminally prosecuted.

"These incidents were not isolated and allegations of abuse by Burge continue to surface. In fact, the Area 2 cases are seen by many observers as part of a pattern and practice of racially-motivated police brutality in Chicago that has been revealed over the course of many years," say the curators of the University of Chicago's Chicago Police Torture Archive.

"Today, over two decades have passed since the first allegations of torture by Chicago police officers surfaced. Many of the allegations have been acknowledged to be credible. For example, Judge Milton Shadur of the U.S. District Court (N.D. Ill.) found that:

"'It is now common knowledge that in the early to mid-1980s Chicago Police Commander Jon Burge and many officers working under him in the physical abuse and torture of prisoners to extract confessions.' U.S. ex rel. Maxwell v. Gilmore 37 F. Supp.2d 1078 (N.D. Ill. 1999)

"In 1990, investigators Goldston and Sanders documented over 50 victims of electroshock and other forms of torture at Area 2, and found all of Andrew Wilson's complaints to be sustained. In 1991, OPS recommended that Burge, Yucaitis, and O'Hara be fired, and they were suspended without pay until the Police Board Hearings began in 1992. Three days before the hearings, Judge Shader, in another civil rights case, ordered that OPS make the Goldston report public. As a result of the Police Board Hearings, Burge was fired in 1993. However, because he was never criminally convicted, he continues to receive a pension from the Chicago Police Department. Yucaitis was suspended for 15 months without pay, and O'Hara was reinstated with no penalty."

5. "Mayor Richard Daley won the backing Monday of the most prominent African-American politician in the state when U.S. Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) endorsed him for a sixth term," the Tribune reported on January 22.

"Obama heaped praised on Daley for being innovative, tackling difficult issues and making tough decisions.

"On Monday, he said he remains concerned about the ongoing federal investigation that has uncovered contract fraud and illegal hiring practices that resulted in the conviction of Daley's patronage chief.

"But 'one of the things I have been pleased to see is the steps the mayor has been taking to try to clean up some of the genuine problems that existed,' Obama said. 'We have seen changes in hiring rules, procurement rules. You've got a significantly beefed up inspector general that has the power to enforce some of these laws on the books.'"

6. "City Hall is scheduled to assume responsibility for investigating allegations of improper hiring and firing under a pending court settlement, but the city's chief investigator said Thursday he doesn't have the staff to handle the job," the Tribune reports today.

"Asked during an interview if he had the necessary resources, Inspector General David Hoffman did not hedge.

"'The answer is no,' he said."

7. "And some of that has to do with the fact that special interests exert an extraordinary influence on the votes that are taken in Washington."

- Obama, Cedar Rapids.

8. "Just one month into his term, the former civil rights lawyer defied the Democrats and voted for the class-action 'reform' bill," David Sirota wrote last year. "Opposed by most major civil rights and consumer watchdog groups, this Big Business-backed legislation was sold to the public as a way to stop 'frivolous' lawsuits. But everyone in Washington knew the bill's real objective was to protect corporate abusers. A few weeks later, though he voted against the credit-card-industry-written bankruptcy bill, Obama also voted against an amendment that would have capped credit-card interest rates at a whopping 30 percent (he defends his vote by claiming the amendment was poorly written)."

9."It was here, in Springfield, where I saw all that is America converge - farmers and teachers, businessmen and laborers, all of them with a story to tell, all of them seeking a seat at the table, all of them clamoring to be heard. I made lasting friendships here - friends that I see in the audience today," Obama said in his speech announcing his presidential candidacy.

"It was here we learned to disagree without being disagreeable - that it's possible to compromise so long as you know those principles that can never be compromised; and that so long as we're willing to listen to each other, we can assume the best in people instead of the worst.

"It was here, in Springfield, where North, South, East and West come together that I was reminded of the essential decency of the American people - where I came to believe that through this decency, we can build a more hopeful America."

10. "Larry J. Sabato, a professor at the University of Virginia, is a kind of all-purpose political commentator," James Merriner wrote recently. "He told me, 'The unholy trinity of politically corrupt states are New Jersey, Illinois and Louisiana.'"

The Beachwood Tip Line: Be an insider.


Posted on April 13, 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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