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The [Monday] Papers

By Steve Rhodes

Mayor Daley recently half-joked that the burgeoning CPS clout scandal at least showed that some Chicago schools had become so desirable during his tenure that parents and politicians were willing to cheat to get their kids admitted into them.

But Marj Halperin's 1988 Chicago magazine article called "The Lottery" - which she recently shared with District 299 blogger Alexander Russo - shows that clout admissions and the controversial "principal picks" now under federal investigation pre-date the Richard M. Daley era.

Here's how Halperin opened her piece:

"Governor Thompson got his kid in. So did state representatives Ellis Levin and Al Ronan. You'll find the daughter of Alderman Patrick O'Connor, head of the City Council's education committee, in a magnet classroom this year. Alderman Ed Smith's, too.

"TV reporter Andy Shaw's daughters are in LaSalle Language Academy, the same as one-time Chicago Sting soccer star Karl Heinz Granitza's children. Monroe Anderson, the Mayor's press secretary and a former Newsweek reporter, sends his son to Inter-American Magnet. Perhaps if he drops Scott off himself, Anderson gives a nod to some of the Board of Ed employees, who also send their children to Inter-American - such as Margarita Rosa, of the board's research and evaluation office. Fernando Colon got his daughter in while working for the board's law department.

"Alice Vila, of the resource development office, also has her children at Inter-American, as does Anna Berlanga-Nabozny, of the board's special education department.

"On the South Side, Third Ward Alderman Dorothy Tillman sends one of her children to a top-rated magnet school, as did Leon Finney, who like Tillman spearheaded Mayor Harold Washington's school reform efforts.

"Ask them individually how they got in, and you'll no doubt hear a lot of reasonable explanations. But the list of clout-heavy families in eagerly sought school slots is hard to write off as coincidence.

"Ordinary citizens, too, get their children into Chicago's magnet schools. Some go through the official lottery system, but others improve their odds by applying personal clout, by inventing nonexistent siblings and minority ancestors for their kids, or by mortgaging their souls to the PTA."

Halperin comes clean herself, describing how she got her kid into a coveted magnet school slot through a principal pick.

As one mother told Halperin: "It's like everything else in Chicago: It comes down to who you know."

The Real Ferris Bueller Is . . .
. . . now a Washington lawyer.

Help Wanted
The Tribune is looking for a National Content/Lifestyle Reporter/Writer

Zell Out?
David Roeder of the Sun-Times reported last week that creditors may force Sam Zell out of the Tribune Company. My guess is that Zell would like nothing more. He never intended to focus so much time and energy on Tribune and he can't be having any fun. But will all those Clear Channel executives he brought in get kicked to the curb too? I would think so. And while those execs engineered the appointments of Gerould Kern as Tribune editor and Jane Hirt as the paper's managing editor, I would think they would be safe, at least in the short term, just for continuity's sake. But papers in Los Angeles, Baltimore, Hartford and units elsewhere in the Tribune empire may finally get their wish and be set free.

EveryBlock Strikes Gold
MSNBC.com has acquired the Chicago-based EveryBlock.

Water Works
"In Chicago, the city competing to host the 2016 Summer Olympics, not even Mayor Richard M. Daley can do anything about a wastewater financing that forced taxpayers to pay almost $8 million more than they had to," Bloomberg reports.

And:

"The folks at the Water Reclamation District love talking about their bond rating," Fox News Chicago reports.

"Spokeswoman Jill Horist says: 'The issue is we're a fiscally responsible, triple-a rated company' - and talking - 'In this day and this economy the district still maintains its Triple-A bond rating" - 'and talking - 'If you don't understand, we have a Triple-A bond rating.'

"But even District President Terrence O'Brien admits having the right DNA helps. Now running for Cook County Board President, O'Brien made a candid admission during a recent appearance on Fox Chicago Sunday, when I asked about his kids getting jobs in the past.

"He said: 'I'm a father, like a lot of fathers and mothers out in the community, if they can't help their children when they're in need of some experience in the workplace, shame on me.'

"We told Attorney Michael Shakman: 'His defense was 'What kind of father would I be if I didn't help my kids get a summer job'?' Shakman's reply? "One who followed the law and had integrity is the kind of father he'd be'."

Friends & Family
Aldermen use expense accounts on mom, interns, the Lexus 460.

*

What was it that mother said back in 1988?

*

But the Tribune's outrage at aldermen buying bottled water doesn't hold up to scrutiny. The worst offender is Walter Burnett Jr. of the 27th Ward; Burnett spent $1,203 in taxpayer money for bottled water, and while that isn't a lot of money over the course of a year, it sounds cavalier until you dig a little further and learn that it's Hinckley's and used for two water coolers, one in his ward office and the other for his City Hall office. It's not like he was buying Evian.

Burnett is still a crumb for spending down an unconscionable $73,280 aldermanic expense account, but not any more of a crumb that the rest of his clueless colleagues.

Happy Freakin' Furlough Day!
But it might cost more money that it saves.

Remembering Rezko's Home
See the dining room table where Tony cut his checks! Look behind the paintings for the hidden safes! Ponder the impromptu campaign strategy session walk-in closet!

Rezko's home went up for auction today. Like it or not, it's a part of Obama's political history.

Manny's Olympics
You're either all-in or all-out, alderman.

Beachwood Sports
* The three-inning increment: a guide to tuning out the Cubs.

* The White Sox are in it, but they can't do anything about it; they're not out of it, but they might as well be.

* The case for Devin Hester being on the cusp of receiver stardom is shaky at best, despite what the training camp hawks and media spinsters would have you believe.

-

The Beachwood Tip Line: Unshakable.



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Posted on August 17, 2009


MUSIC - The Week In Chicago Rock.
TV - Cricket vs. Brexit.
POLITICS - Trailer: Swing District.
SPORTS - Ryan Pace's Narratives Are Killing Us.

BOOKS - Chicago For Dummies.

PEOPLE PLACES & THINGS - The Sears Motor Buggy.


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