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The [Monday] Papers

The big local news story over the weekend was the Sun-Times's investigation into the millions of dollars the city is paying to cops on disability leave - some managing to hold down other jobs. I haven't had time to dig into it, but you can get started on the multi-story package here.

Today, the paper comes back with "10 Days In The Police Academy, 14 Years On Disability."

A Taste of Taste
"An estimated 1.2 million people visited this year's shorter, revamped Taste of Chicago this year gobbling up 17,600 slices of Lou Malnati's pizza, 30,000 Original Rainbow ice-cream cones and 4,000 pounds of Vee Vee's jerk chicken, city officials said Sunday," the Sun-Times reports.

"The five-day Taste drew mixed reviews from patrons and restaurant owners, some of whom noted smaller crowds but steady sales.

"In 2011, the event drew 2.35 million patrons over 10 days. Last year's attendance was down 10 percent from 2010 and more than a 30 percent lower than the record 3.6 million in 2006 and 2007."

Oy. Why make me do the math?

According to my calculations, this year's Taste drew 5,000 more folks on average per day than last year's - a surprise given that this year's Taste is such a slimmed-down affair (without the turkey legs, no less).

But fewer days means fewer sales for vendors, period.

"According to the 2011 sales totals for the Taste, Eli's sold 50,000 slices of cheesecake compared to about 18,000 this year, officials said."

So the lead of this story isn't very impressive.


"[Rib guru Charlie] Robinson said the five-day run meant he could save in food and labor costs."

Um, yeah. Labor costs will be down if you only have to pay your crew for five days' work instead of 10. And guess what? Sales will be down too. And unless you are operating at a loss, that means profits will be down too.


The media (and some of the vendors) seem intent on laying it on a bit thick. From the Tribune:

"We were up almost 20 percent going into (Sunday), even though it rained on two days," said Marc Malnati, owner of Lou Malnati's Pizzeria, which has participated in 31 of the 32 Tastes. "I came out (to the Taste site) after Saturday's rain, and it was as busy as I've ever seen it. The crowd was more about food this year; people were out to eat and try things."

But in the Sun-Times article, a Malnati's district manager Mike Sterner said he noticed fewer crowds - and preferred the days of the 10-day fest.

"It's a tradition for us, and I think it's sad to see that tradition shrink," Sterner said.

And for a guy who used to sell 50,000 cheesecakes at the Taste, Eli's president Marc Schulman sounds a bit hollow saying "2012 has turned out pretty well for us" given that he only sold 18,000 this year.

This isn't to blame anyone; let's face it, the economy has been in the toilet for the last three Tastes now, and no reconfiguring is going to change that. I just don't need talking points about the bulk of items sold or vendors saying how well they think they did. There's the fun - sort of - side of Taste and the economic side, and maybe the twain shall not meet. Or at least it shall meet very carefully.


From Eli's President Marc Schulman:

Saw the column in the Beachwood Reporter about our Taste numbers. Those slices sales didn't include part of the last day . . . so yes it was far better than last year on a per day of sales. For us five days worked pretty well and Saturday was extremely busy even with the rain. Best wishes.

Summer School
"Chicago Public Schools and the teachers union this week are both expected to reject an arbitrator's long-awaited fact-finding report, which recommends a double-digit salary hike that both sides agree could force teacher layoffs and larger class sizes, according to sources close to the negotiations," the Tribune reports.

"The arbitrator is expected to recommend that teacher salaries be increased 15 to 20 percent in the contract's first year, based largely on the longer school day that begins in the fall, sources said."


A) The arbitrator thinks the union was right in demanding more pay for a longer school day - and that Rahm was wrong.

B) The arbitrator thinks teachers deserve raises far more substantial than the 2 percent offered by City Hall, even if it's not the 30 percent the union has asked for but acknowledged is essentially an opening bargaining position.

In other words, score this a win for the union even if they're rejecting the findings too, for reasons not immediately clear.

Still, the arbitrator seems to have drawn a conclusion independent of economic reality or consequence.

"The recommended raises would be devastating to a district poised to deplete its cash reserves to close an expected $665 million deficit next school year. The district also faces hundreds of millions of dollars in teacher pension payments that will come due in 2014."

Schnizzard of Oz
Ozzie Guillen talks to his valet about how the Chicago media that protected him all these is actually pretty crappy in his estimation.

The Pitchfork Papers
* Lady Gaga Kicks It With Kendrick.

* Pitchfork TV. All Pitchfork, all the time.

* The Weekend in Chicago Rock. Pitchfork plus.

Crook County
"Federal prosecutors charged a former acting director of a Cook County job-training program with ordering birth certificates and Selective Service documents to be forged so the county could get money for a summer jobs program for young people," Courthouse News Service reports.

"Defendant Brendolyn Hart-Glover, 42, was acting director of the Cook County President's Office of Employment Training (POET) during 2009-2010, a Department of Labor investigator said in an affidavit attached to the indictment.

"POET received $5.67 million in federal grants for its summer youth job program under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009."


"POET has been a feeding ground for corruption investigators in recent years," the Tribune reports.

"In 2008 county prosecutors charged three POET officials and five others with stealing $1.6 million in loans and federal money intended for training for the disadvantaged.

"Under then-County Board President Todd Stroger, the program lost millions of dollars in federal funding meant to train thousands of workers because it spent money inappropriately or failed to spend it before deadlines, according to state officials.

"The office was overhauled by Stroger's successor, Toni Preckwinkle, after her election in 2010, and Hart-Glover and six other employees were suspended after an internal probe uncovered wrongdoing, Preckwinkle's office said."

Preckwinkle exudes competence though her allegiance to Joe Berrios is but one of several chinks in her armor; still, wouldn't you rather see her as the mayor or governor than the current inhabitants?


From today's Crain's:

"While not afraid to make tough decisions, [Preckwinkle] favors an efficient, low-profile style that's in distinct contrast to the new occupant of the Chicago mayor's office."

Maybe because it's not all about her.


"Last year, Hart-Glover told the Chicago Sun-Times that she didn't do anything wrong," WBEZ recalls.

"In 2009, her sister-in-law, Shirley Glover, a former fiscal manager of the same office, pleaded guilty to embezzling over a hundred thousand dollars."

Obama's Rendition
Worse than Bush.

Child's Play
The Grunsfeld Children's Growing Garden.

Memo To Theo
Can The Clearance Sale. In Jim Coffman's SportsMonday.

Memo To Cubs Fans
Shit's About To Get Real. In The Cub Factor.

Baseball Brother
From the same mother. In The White Sox Report.


The Beachwood Tip Line: Motherly.


Posted on July 16, 2012

MUSIC - Lyric Opera Strike Settled.
POLITICS - USA Today's Op-Ed Disaster.
SPORTS - SportsMonday: Come On, Vic!

BOOKS - Chicago Book Haul: The Dial.

PEOPLE PLACES & THINGS - Chicagoetry: West Town Blues.

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