The [Monday] Papers
By Steve Rhodes
1. "The United Neighborhood Organization, the city's largest Latino community group, is poised to become the biggest charter school manager in Illinois after scoring a $98 million state grant to build eight more schools," the Tribune reports.
"How UNO landed all that cash - believed to be the largest-ever taxpayer windfall in the U.S. for a community-run charter group to build schools - at a time of massive government budget deficits is a classic Chicago story of awakening immigrant clout and lobbying muscle."
2. Rick Morrissey is wrong, as usual. Players like Mark DeRosa provide the glue and backbone of championship-caliber teams. Players like Milton Bradley destroy teams from within. Think the first-place Texas Rangers - or any of his former teams - are missing Bradley right now?
DeRosa, by the way, notched his 50th RBI over the weekend.
3. That said, there are some things DeRosa didn't manage to accomplish during his homecoming. The Cub Factor has the list.
4. "It seems to be the concern of some in town that he could go off at any second," Morrissey wrote in January. "Let's say he does. What's the downside? That he gets suspended? That somebody gets hurt? Hey, pro wrestling has made millions off that formula. Somebody hand the man a steel folding chair.
"The upside is Bradley won't crumble at the first sign of the Cubs' futility in the playoffs. The upside is his teammates might see him react to postseason challenges with something beside catatonia, the normal Cubs reaction. Perhaps they will respond to him."
Our very own Jim Coffman had a very different view:
"Hey people, can we get something straight about Milt Bradley right now? Just because he's edgy doesn't mean he's effective. I'm officially fed up with reading misguided missives about how the free agent right fielder who actually played much more designated hitter than anything else last year will make a difference for this Cub team because he'll light a fire under more laconic teammates. What exactly has he won that leads people to this conclusion?
"It isn't just that Bradley hasn't won. He's barely played even half the time during his plain, old, undistinguished career. As for his temperament, well, when he has lost it, Bradley hasn't lost it because he was pissed off about losing. He's lost it because he is still too immature to control himself in situations most pro athletes figure out how to shrug off in their first couple of years in the Bigs."
5. State Sen. Chris Lauzen is wrong even if given the benefit of the doubt. Constituent service may indeed mean navigating bureaucracies at times, but only when bureaucracies are unjustly treating constituents. Checking up on the status of a college application hardly fits that definition. And no inquiry by a pol - or anyone with influence - can be deemed merely an objective inquiry. Even if well-intentioned, such inquiries will likely be taken as messages We know how the world works. Lauzen's constituents should wait for the letter like everyone else.
6. Likewise, I do not understand commentators like Kristen McQueary and Rich Miller who think the U of I clout scandal is overblown.
"Every parent with a kid turned away from the University of Illinois is irked at the possibility admissions counselors sent a rejection letter to their household while penning a congratulatory note to an underachieving but well-connected kid from House Speaker Michael Madigan's 13th Ward. It's personal. No parent wants to see their high schooler lose out, especially after four years of advanced placement classes, high class rank and ACT preparation," McQueary writes.
But then she adds this:
"But guess what? That's life. College admission never has been based solely on numerics."
First, every scandal or injustice could be brushed off by saying "That's life." But then, why even try? Why even establish admissions standards? Why even try to regulate anything for fairness? Lost your columnist's job because the publisher wanted to give his kid a try? That's life!
Second, college admission isn't based solely on numerics, and shouldn't be. But should clout be one of the factors? I mean, the non-numeric factors that do exist are meant to ensure a diverse, creative and interesting student body. How does admitting the kids of Mike Madigan's political buddis help accomplish that goal?
Beyond that, we're not just talking about legislator's influencing the system. We're talking about lobbyists influencing the system, and in such an exchange other issues before the legislature might also be impacted.
Finally, we're talking about trustees influencing the system. Trustees!
You know what? Students plagiarize. That's life. What's the big deal?
By the way, I'm a big Kristen McQueary fan. I don't always agree with her, but I have a great deal of respect and admiration for her work.
Similarly, Rich Miller has called the Tribune series "overblown nonsense."
This state's moral compass is so broken it's not even right twice a day.
8. Clout leases.
Oh well. That's life.
10. My favorite parts of Christopher Borelli's interview with Lauren Conrad, once you get past the god-awful cutesy intro:
"I wanted to write a book - I met with Harper Collins but I wasn't sure what I wanted to write about."
"I started a year ago. We outlined all three books. I started developing characters - very roughly. I did that during a trip to Italy."
"What am I reading? I am reading - actually, I just started re-reading my own book, which is a little weird. I am between books at the moment."
11. Last week David Axelrod responded to reports that the White House was backing Lisa Madigan for the U.S. Senate by saying, in part, "It's not up to the president to decide who the candidate should be."
Today, Laura Washington writes that "Impeccable sources tell me that in that White House meeting, Obama made it clear that he wants her to run for the Senate."
12. SportsMonday will appear on Tuesday this week.
13. Our Salad Bar Series continues today with Sultan's Market.
The Beachwood Tip Line: In the running.
Posted on June 22, 2009
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