The [Monday] Papers
"In state Rep. Robert Rita's legislative district - which covers a swath of Chicago's south suburbs and part of the city's far South Side - just one out of 10 people has a college degree," the Sun-Times reports with assistance from the Better Government Association. "The daughter of Ald. Anthony Beale (9th) - a friend and political ally of Rita - is being given the chance to buck those odds and earn a degree from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign tuition-free courtesy of a coveted 'legislative scholarship' handed to her by Rita."
Another Cubbie Occurrence. Er, I mean, Chicago Coincidence.
"Beale, who makes $110,556 a year as a Chicago alderman, says none of that put his daughter, Taylor Beale, at the head of the line when Rita was deciding which students would get four years of free college tuition."
She was awarded the scholarship from the back of the line. That's the beauty of it!
"Beale and Rita (D-Blue Island) have close ties. Beale has endorsed Rita for re-election in the past, calling him a 'strong' ally. Beale's wife works for Rita. Dana Beale is a part-time, $400-a-month legislative aide at Rita's district office who, until recently, was also making $76,684 a year working for Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White. And Rita has contributed more than $20,000 to the alderman's election campaigns over the years."
So at the least, Rita ought to have recused himself and his office from considering the young Beale. After all, she appears to be a decent student. But then, why couldn't she compete for a non-political scholarship on her own like thousands of other Illinois kids, instead of relying on clout?
It gets better.
"A National Honor Society scholar, a Who's Who Among High School Students member, a city champion on the girls' varsity tennis team, a community Little League volunteer and a sterling recommendation from her principal at Whitney Young Magnet High School were the reasons that earned Taylor Beale a tuition waiver," Rita said in a statement.
Guess how she got into Whitney Young? From the Beachwood Wayback Machine:
"Anthony Beale is now the second alderman to admit he made a phone call to the principal of Whitney Young to get his daughter into the school, the Sun-Times reports.
[Whitney Young Principal Joyce] Kenner said she had a 'personal relationship' with Beale, whom she knew as a baseball coach when her son was playing baseball. 'When he called me, it wasn't about him being a political figure,' Kenner said."
Not done yet.
"The Chicago Schools Inspector General has recommended that Principal Joyce Kenner be banned for life from hand-picking kids for admission to Whitney Young Magnet High," the Sun-Times reported last January.
Can we do the same to Rita - and his pals in Springfield?
"Rita, now serving his fifth two-year term in the Illinois House, voted against legislation in 2010 that would have ended the scholarship perk. He declined interview requests about the tuition waiver for Beale's daughter. He also won't say how many applications he gets or discuss how he chooses who'll get the college freebie."
It's none of our business, dammit!
"The state's public universities and community colleges are on the hook for the estimated $13.5 million a year to cover the cost of the education the scholarships cover."
And when Taylor Beale graduates from the U of I, I'm sure there will be a taxpayer-funded job waiting for her.
Robert Rita in the Beachwood, August 19, 2008:
"Emil Jones III, 31, worked for the state between May 1999 and November 2006, when he briefly left the payroll," the Sun-Times reports. "Despite not having a college degree, he was hired in April 2007 as an administrator for Gov. Blagojevich's Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity - a job that pays $59,436. Attempts to reach him Monday were unsuccessful."
"Give him a chance to prove himself," state Rep. Robert Rita (D-Blue Island) says.
Beale in the Beachwood, July 1, 2010:
For his efforts regarding Walmart, the Tribune editorial board lionizes Ald. Anthony Beale (9th) as the greatest alderman since Hinky Dink Kenna. In reality, Beale is a Daley tool. He's also pretty much a doorknob, according to sources close to the alderman.
Finally, a reminder of where Beale came from courtesy of Laura Washington in the Sun-Times in 2002:
"U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. and his father, the Rev. Jesse L. Jackson Sr., longtime head of Rainbow/PUSH, are quietly revving up a new political machine in Chicago. Flush from their rancorous but victorious battle to unseat Democratic state Sen. Bill Shaw, the Jacksons are now aiming for more accountability and independence in the Chicago City Council. On Nov. 5, they turned a longtime rivalry with Shaw into electoral clout when they helped the Rev. James Meeks, pastor of Salem Baptist Church, knock out the senator from Dolton.
"Shaw sealed his destiny in the March primary, with his ham-handed attempt to confuse voters and derail Rep. Jackson's re-election bid by putting up a retired truck driver named Jesse Jackson in the 2nd District congressional race. The Jacksons turned their pique and the voters' ire to a victory for Meeks in the fall campaign.
"The Jackson Machine's first major victory came in 1999, when they helped Anthony Beale snare the 9th Ward aldermanic seat in an effort to curb the proliferation of liquor establishments in Roseland."
As for Rita, his rich past is too thick to get into now, but the Daily Southtown editorial board wrote this in March 2006:
Robert 'Bob' Rita has served two terms in the Legislature, thanks to the ability of the regular Democratic Party within the district - of which his father is one of the key players - to get out the vote. This year Rita , of Blue Island, faces three Chicagoans: Michael Mayden, Brenda Williams and Florida Cresswell. Williams and Cresswell appear to be "ghost" candidates, whose names have been put on the ballot to divide the votes among the challengers but who do virtually no campaigning. Mayden's candidacy is being challenged in court by the Rita camp because he wants to appear on the ballot with his nickname, "The Coach."
Sun-Times Drops Endorsements
The Tribune's longtime editorial page editor Bruce Dold once defended his page's role by citing his experience in seeing "things get done" as a result. Yes, but what things? That position assumes that editorial boards have some special insight that allows them to pick the "right" outcomes. We know that isn't true.
Editorial boards enjoy, I'm sure, being a power center of their own, but they are one that influences elections yet goes without the same scrutiny that attaches to other endorsers and supporters.
Finally, endorsements (and editorials in general, really) just create more headaches for reporters trying to do their job fairly without suspicion easily cast on their biases and motives.
So I welcome the Sun-Times's decision to drop political endorsements, though it does come with some questions.
Remember, for example, when the Sun-Times went to great lengths to reposition itself as an editorially liberal newspaper after years in the wilderness of Conrad Black's right-wing mania? All previous opinions (again) non-operational!
And does this have anything to do with the fact that - according to his donor pattern - new owner Michael Ferro favors Republicans? Maybe another sea change would be too much whiplash for readers.
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Posted on January 23, 2012
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