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The [Monday] Papers

"The judge who's to decide whether a special prosecutor investigates the Cook County state's attorney's office's handling of a homicide case involving a nephew of former Mayor Richard M. Daley has contributed $1,450 to the re-election campaign of State's Attorney Anita Alvarez, records show," the Sun-Times reports.

"Illinois Supreme Court rules allow such contributions. Still, they are rare. Circuit Judge Michael P. Toomin is among eight Cook County judges who have given Alvarez at least $150 - the minimum amount that's required to be reported in campaign-finance filings. That's 2 percent of the 410 sitting judges."

So judges contribute to the campaign of a prosecutor whose cases they later hear in court. Why the Illinois Supreme Court allows such an obvious conflict of interest is beyond me. But then, lawyers largely fund the campaigns that put judges on the bench in the first place, so the circle is squared.

"Toomin - who was assigned the case in December - has contributed to Alvarez four times, most recently in June. He says he has attended campaign fund-raisers for Alvarez and also gave money to her predecessors but that his political contributions won't affect his decisions in the Koschman case."

He won't be predisposed at all to supporting the side he's, um, supported.

"We live in a political environment," Toomin told the Sun-Times.

So you're admitting the courts aren't free from politics? Michael Toomin - now part of the conspiracy.

And here's the thing: It's not as if Alvarez couldn't have gotten along without Toomin's $1,450. Yet, Toomin felt compelled to make a formal declaration of support for her.

"Toomin, 73, is the presiding judge of Cook County's juvenile courts. Chief Cook County Criminal Courts Judge Paul Biebel Jr. gave Toomin the Koschman case after withdrawing because of a health issue. Biebel chose Toomin after consulting with Timothy C. Evans, the county's chief judge. Biebel says he didn't know about Toomin's contributions to Alvarez but that, even if he had known, it wouldn't have changed his mind about assigning Toomin the case."

Really? And what if Toomin had given money to the Koschman family or their attorneys?

"To imply that a judge's contribution would influence the judicial conduct or discretion of any judge is absurd," Alvarez spokesperson Sally Daly said.

Because that sort of thing coming from a judge who just reminded us that "we live in a political environment" would just be beyond the pale here in Chicago.

Ironically, the impact of the political environment on the criminal justice system is just the question at stake in the Koschman case. And the picture keeps getting clearer.

Heckuva Job, Barry
FEMA announced over the weekend that it was a denying aid to tornado-ravaged Southern Illinois.

"Based on our review of all the information available, it has been determined that the damage was not of such severity and magnitude as to be beyond the capabilities of the State, affected local governments and voluntary agencies."

FEMA obviously hasn't been to Illinois lately.

Bake Sale
"The owner of the Chicago Reader has put the alternative weekly on the sales block, hiring a Dallas firm to help shop the paper, according to sources familiar with solicitations for a sale," Crain's reports.

"The Chicago Sun-Times is one of the potential buyers that was approached."

So new owner Michael Ferro can bring some of his Chicago News Cooperative magic to two more local news outlets!

Bad Hands, Good Pay
"Allstate Corp. Chief Executive Tom Wilson saw his total compensation jump about 20 percent to $11.2 million in 2011 despite an 11 percent drop in the Northbrook-based company's stock, shrinking market share in its home and auto insurance business, and worsening relations with its agents," the Tribune reports.

Something tells me he'll win the NCAA office pool too. And he took Northwestern.

Milking The Cow
Time Out Chicago media blogger Robert Feder reports that longtime fave Mancow Muller is making some sort of comeback - again - with a television show about presidential politics but fails to note that Muller's latest ravings include the allegation that conservative media maven Andrew Brietbart was murdered - by Barack Obama.

Teaching At Oasis
Our very own Roger Wallenstein kicks off a series of reports about volunteering in one of America's most difficult school districts.

The Weekend In Rock

Will be arriving later this morning.

Programming Note
That's all I have time for this morning but I expect to have a much fuller column on Tuesday including more of the weekend's news - as well as up-to-date developments!

Also, I will not be tending bar at the Beachwood tonight for the first Monday night since I started the gig 17 months ago. But that doesn't mean you can't go and enjoy the Inn anyway.


The Beachwood Tip Line: Developing.


Posted on March 12, 2012

MUSIC - Chief Keef Changed The Industry.
TV - Vizio's Best Product Is You.
POLITICS - UIC: Soda Taxes Work.
SPORTS - More McCaskey Malpractice.

BOOKS - All About Poop.


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