The [Monday] Papers
You know what? Mitt Romney was right when he said "corporations are people," because if all of you Democrats out there want to be honest, you'll recognize that what Romney meant was that corporations are made up of people, and if you raise taxes on corporations - which I favor - you inevitably are raising taxes, so to speak (in the form of wages and prices) on employees and customers.
Now, I happen to believe that highly-paid executives should be the ones to bear the brunt; that's the point. And that large corporate profits should be dinged without penalty to employees and customers. So let's make that happen.
But I bring this up not to discuss Romney or national politics, but to discuss the Tribune's blockbuster (in my mind) over the weekend about a state baby-sitting program that "has given rapists, molesters and other violent felons access to kids."
The connection is that "government," "corporations," "the state," "police," "schools" and so forth are comprised of people - real people, flesh and blood. Our neighbors, our friends, us.
Sometimes I think we forget that because large and powerful entities are organized into "systems" that often wield power recklessly and wreak havoc on our lives. But they are comprised of people nonetheless.
So sometimes we should have more sympathy. Cutting government - local, state, national - often means throwing people out of work. Can't we agree that isn't always productive - particularly in a down economy?
More often, though, as a journalist, a citizen and a human being, I find myself (like many others, I'm sure) wondering: What the hell were they thinking? Do people somehow lose their humanity working within bureaucracies? Or are they just mostly dim?
Many folks, I'm sure, know better but are simply too afraid to speak up. The so-called no-snitch culture that makes eminent sense on the streets when reprisal could mean the your life and the lives of your family makes little sense in the everyday workplace. But speaking up when seeing wrongdoing - or just plan inanity - isn't exactly a good career move. If only it were.
So mostly I wanna know: What the hell were they thinking?
"The state Department of Human Services poorly vetted baby sitters for years - and when a 2009 law forced better checks, it took nearly 18 months to start them, the newspaper's investigation of the Child Care Assistance Program found.
"Also, despite the reforms, the Tribune found that even now the state lacks safeguards to weed out baby sitters who watch children while living in the homes of sex offenders and other felons deemed too dangerous for the program."
"[The] $750 million-a-year program . . . subsidizes child care for more than 150,000 impoverished Illinois families . . .
"[M]ore than 70,000 child care providers [are] paid by the program - 60,000 of them unlicensed."
Are you kidding me?
"The issue increasingly became a topic in Cook County courtrooms, where defendants with long rap sheets mentioned their baby-sitting jobs during proceedings.
"'That profoundly concerned me,' said longtime Circuit Judge Nicholas Ford.
"By 2008, judges asked the court's child-protective division how ex-cons could qualify to baby-sit for the state. Checking into it, the division's policy analyst, Larry Grazian, said he learned nobody ran full background checks on unlicensed baby sitters."
Please read the whole thing as well as the rest of the Tribune's package.
P.S.: On the other hand, the U.S. Supreme Court's assertion that corporations are people too when it comes to speech is absurd. Corporations have speech rights, but advertising, for example, is regulated in a way that, say, political speech isn't.
* "It is unreasonable and against the interest of taxpayers of Cicero to use TIF funds for hot dog purchases," Civic Federation president Laurence Msall says in the Quote of the Day. Go read "Cicero Spends $120,000 At Hot Dog Stand Linked To Board Member" for the rest of the story.
* Then there's "TV Chef 'Sandwich King' Jeff Mauro Still Owns Subsidized Chicago Condo." Here's the key:
"Mauro is the son of August Mauro, a former Chicago city housing commissioner who owns New West Realty, the company chosen by developers Michael Marchese and William Cellini to handle housing sales at University Village."
* And finally, check out "City Pension Funds Could Lose $1 Million In Deal With Daley Nephew."
We know what the people in these stories are thinking: We're gonna get ours, even if it screws the taxpayers. Because that's the Chicago Way.
Tom Tom Club
We know Tom and we're awfully proud of him here at Beachwood HQ. Tom is also a friend of the Beachwood Inn and occasionally stops in on a Monday night with his lovely girlfriend Carly, whom we actually knew first.
But there's a better story - stories, really - involving Tom than this one. Tom works for a nonprofit helping folks facing foreclosure, and the stories he tells about this whole frickin' mess made me realize a few months back that if I ran, say, the Tribune, I'd create a foreclosure beat. Tom would be my first source. He's a terrific advocate and has the kind of on-the-ground knowledge and insight that is priceless.
These are human stories - each deriving from the same overarching framework but each unique in their struggles, complications and entanglements with the financial services industry. Write a book, Tom!
'The Rescue That Missed Main Street'
Wood No Good
"The prematurely decaying wood is the worst at the Francisco station, where the entire platform will be replaced between September and the end of the year at an estimated cost of $150,000 to $175,000, transit officials said. The station reopened in 2007 after a six-month renovation."
Can we please hold someone accountable?
"Since early August, dozens of sick geese and ducks, as well as a swan, have been spotted with drooping eyelids, while some can't stand, flap their wings or hold their heads up, according to Annette Prince, director of Chicago Bird Collision Monitors.
"Though some initially worried that the waterfowl were poisoned, the birds appear to be suffering from avian botulism, an illness that causes paralysis, Prince said. As a result, the birds lose their motor control and have difficulty breathing, swallowing food or blinking their eyes. The birds often end up drowning because they can't keep their head out of the water."
Cutler vs. Bears
"Madigan meeting with Boehner has everybody wondering what's Madigan up to - but not Mayor Emanuel. He sees it just the opposite because of the congressional reapportionment map Madigan drew at the expense of Republicans.
"'What's Boehner doing meeting with Madigan given that the map was pretty good - the map that Mike Madigan and John Cullerton drew! So I ask the inverse question. What was John Boehner doing meeting with Mike Madigan,' Emanuel said."
Clever, but no dice, Rahm. Boehner wasn't "meeting" with Mike Madigan. Madigan attended the fundraiser at the invitation of Chicago Mercantile Exchange chairman Terry Duffy. Madigan didn't have to accept; Boener was going to be there either way. Or Madigan could have accepted (not necessarily a big deal) but also chosen to attend events held by Democrats around the same time, including a visit by the president (a big deal).
But that's Rahm, professional media spinner.
"The alleged offenses include failing to take her daughter to a car show, telling her then-7-year-old son to buckle his seat belt or she would contact police, 'haggling' over the amount to spend on party dresses and calling her daughter at midnight to ask that she return home from celebrating homecoming."
Maybe they were just jealous of what the Daley kids get away with.
The Weekend in Chicago Rock
The South Side Knights
Waiting For Super GM
Introducing Chicago Story
The Beachwood Tip Line: For the birds.
Posted on August 29, 2011
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