The [Monday] Papers
By Steve Rhodes
2. "The union that represents Chicago's teachers on Friday said school leaders were hypocritical for slashing the budget and laying off staff members while board presidents were using taxpayer credit cards to charge thousands of dollars in meals, travel, gifts and artwork," the Tribune reported on Saturday.
"The Chicago Teachers Union's criticism follows Tribune disclosures detailing the spending habits of Mayor Richard Daley's last two board presidents, Rufus Williams and Michael Scott. Scott committed suicide last fall. The credit card expenditures were in addition to the yearly spending allowance each man received - $19,200 for Williams and $36,000 for Scott in public money."
Meanwhile, as has been pointed out, many teachers are buying school supplies out of their own pockets to make up for shocking shortages. Where are the parents - of our civic leaders, whose behavior is so greedy and self-absorbed?
"Documents obtained by the Tribune show a $2,500 gift to Daley's Chicago 2016 Olympic bid committee, despite the mayor's repeated assurances that no public money was going toward financing the bid, and numerous meals at notable Chicago restaurants."
The Olympic gift is notable less than its nature as public money despite the mayor's assurances - that myth has been blown sky high to all, apparently, but our good friends at the newspapers - but for the simple notion that a school board president thought it was a smart idea to send the Olympic committee a relatively paltry check cut from the public till that it didn't really need.
As for the meals, well, maybe we should decree that top officials at CPS ride a school bus to work, eat school lunches, and learn to live with the office supply equivalent of schoolroom supplies. Intolerable? Even more so to kids.
Maybe CPS could use math students to audit the receipts of its top officials. Put the kids to work. Social studies classes could also teach civics lessons.
3. Speaking of children, state Rep. Monique Davis (D-Chicago) asked in a weekend account in the Sun-Times "How in the hell does a 400-pound statue leave a state facility and they don't know where it is?"
You tell us, Monique!
5. The Dan Hynes ad featuring Harold Washington ripping Pat Quinn could have been offensive in other contexts, but in this case it's effective because what Washington says resonates so clearly with the Quinn we've seen in office over the last year. What's really offensive, though, is Quinn turning to Bobby Rush and - as Eric Zorn describes it - his "deckful of race cards."
Memo to Quinn: Putting out an ad calling an opponent desperate is always the act of a desperate man.
6. "Studies have shown that test scores closely track with income," the Sun-Times noted on Sunday.
So the best way to increase test scores would be to . . .
7. "Way back in the day, Alabama coach Bear Bryant, even then a legend, insisted that his salary be one dollar less than the university president's," Rick Telander recalled on Sunday.
Living life according to the values we so often preach means that you don't always take what the market will bear. You can't put a price on doing the right thing.
"Current coach Nick Saban makes $4 million a year, while the school's president, Dr. Robert E. Witt, makes about $600,000. There are now assistant head coaches in NCAA D-I football who make nearly twice as much as Dr. Witt."
8. Speaking of amorality in the pursuit of riches . . .
"Not long after developer Anthony Rossi got City Hall approval for a much-needed zoning change in downtown Chicago, he received a surprising phone call from the speaker of the Illinois House," the Tribune reported on Sunday.
"Michael J. Madigan wasn't calling to talk about state issues. Instead, Madigan was drumming up legal business for his property tax appeal firm.
"'When Mike Madigan calls and asks for a meeting, you meet with him,' Rossi said in an interview with the Tribune.
"Madigan and his law partner met with Rossi in September 2008. Together they went one by one through the portfolio of buildings Rossi represents until he referred them to a downtown high-rise he manages that might need a tax attorney.
"'Nobody wants to piss off the speaker of the House,' Rossi said. 'I mean, I was born and raised in this town.'
"The firm got the contract. It was another success for Madigan, the rainmaker."
There oughta be a law.
"Joseph Berrios, a longtime Madigan ally, sits in judgment over property tax appeals filed by Madigan's firm and others as the senior member of the county Board of Review. At the same time, Berrios' business as a state lobbyist depends on his success in the Statehouse dominated by Madigan.
"Now Madigan is putting his political weight behind Berrios' bid to replace a political nemesis - retiring Cook County Assessor James Houlihan, whose office affects Madigan's clients by setting the taxable value for all county real estate."
There oughta be a law.
"Madigan declined to be interviewed about what role political connections might play in the tax appeal business. He said in a written statement that most of the firm's new business comes from referrals by other clients or competitive bidding."
We asked the written statement to explain, but the written statement declined to comment further.
"Asked about the firm's success, clients and competitors say the firm has first-rate lawyers - including Madigan's law partner, Vincent "Bud" Getzendanner - who adeptly handle appeals.
"'I respect both administrative bodies and believe they both act with integrity and good faith,' Getzendanner said in an e-mail. 'I would note that the BOR affords the appellants the opportunity to orally argue their case (which is impractical for the assessor to do) and that this increases the chance that all relevant facts will be considered in reaching a decision'."
The e-mail declined to comment further.
Journalism schools now replacing lessons on conducting interviews with lessons on re-typing e-mails.
9. The Ironside van is back! Kathryn Ware returns to pick up where she left off in her brilliant series documenting the debut season of Ironside. In today's installment, a prominent Russian runner and "hero to the Soviet people" disappears. Ironside is put on special assignment to find out what happened to the missing marathoner and finds himself paired with Lou Grant in a case of international intrigue.
10. Farewell, Scorpions.
The Beachwood Tip Line: Like a hurricane.
Posted on January 25, 2010
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