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The [Monday] Papers

"A former lobbyist for a powerful teachers union is reaping a $100,000-a-year state pension thanks to wide-ranging retirement legislation sponsored nearly six years ago by her former boss, House Speaker Michael Madigan, and his legislative allies," the Tribune reports.

"The 2007 law let Gail Purkey, who worked at two state jobs in the 1980s, receive a state pension based mostly on her long career and six-figure salary with the Illinois Federation of Teachers, the Tribune has found."

The Illinois Federation of Teachers, of course, is not a government agency. It's a union.

"Purkey, 58, stands to collect a total of about $3 million if she lives to age 78, according to a Tribune analysis. Payroll records show that her last state salary was $36,800 - just over a third of her current state pension."

That's outrageous enough, but here's what really bothers me:

"I followed what the law said," Purkey told the Trib.

Right. The law was manipulated in your favor, and then you just followed it. Christ.

Gail Purkey, you are Today's Worst Person In Illinois.

*

Of course, Michael Madigan was a conspirator.

"Asked specifically if the speaker knew Purkey would benefit, [Madigan mouthpiece Steve] Brown said, 'I don't have any recollection of that.'"

That's nice. Now hand the phone over to Madigan so he can answer the damn question.

*

I've said it before and I'll say it again: If I was the editor of a newspaper - or any news agency - in Chicago, I would ban quotes from Steve Brown. I would rather have Michael Madigan, House Speaker and chairman of the Illinois Democratic Party, refusing to answer questions on behalf of taxpayers and citizens over and over and over again instead of letting a paid propagandist shield him from having to lie or 'fess up about misdeed after misdeed.

The Lying Game
Speaking of paid propagandists, here's Sandi Jackson spokesman Kevin Lampe once again not answering questions posed on behalf of taxpayers and citizens:

"When asked to respond to Jackson opponents who said the house sale was a sign the congressman's future prospects were doubtful, Lampe said: 'it's speculation.'"

It sure is. But that doesn't answer the question.

"His name is still on the ballot," Lampe said.

When pressed to comment on whether Jackson were still running for reelection, Lampe repeated: "He's still on the ballot."

It sure is. But that doesn't answer the question.

"We're waiting for the doctor to release him to send him back to work," Lampe added.

Name that doctor!

I don't believe that for a second.

*

While reporting "Jesse Jackson Jr.'s Dark Days" for Chicago magazine, I put in a call to Ald. Pat Dowell to discuss the time when Jackson surprisingly and seemingly out of the blue endorsed her aldermanic campaign against incumbent Dorothy Tillman - who was backed by Richard M. Daley and Barack Obama. That part of Junior's story - his city council involvements - didn't make it into the final version, but it led to an interesting part of the reporting.

Dowell didn't return my phone call (until weeks later) but Lampe did. He represents her. He also volunteered that he had been hired by Sandi, and he would call me the following week and dish on background. (Maybe he confused me with Sneed.)

He never called me back the following week, despite a couple follow-up calls I put back into him.

My editor at the magazine then put on a full-court press to reach Lampe and persuade him to make Sandi available for an interview. I knew that would never happen - at least not under any sort of acceptable conditions.

But, as I had predicted to my editor, Lampe did finally call me back as we were going to press. A great strategy to pretend one has fulfilled their obligation and also to try to slip something in at the last minute that really won't be questioned or even amount to much just to satisfy a desperate reporter - which certainly wasn't me. I really didn't care. I don't play ball; I do my job.

This was the conversation I had with Lampe:

ME: Hey, what's going on?

LAMPE: I'm doing my laundry.

ME: This isn't your office phone?

LAMPE: No it's my cell. I hardly use my office phone.

ME: So why the runaround, man?

LAMPE: I've just been slamming on other things . . . [Sandi] said no.

ME: She'll only talk to Sneed?

LAMPE: That was one time . . . [which isn't true]

silence . . .

ME: Hello?

LAMPE: Hang on, I'm in the elevator.

silence . . .

click.

*

We reconnected and Lampe said the call just got dropped, which I'm sure it did, though he acknowledged it probably seemed like he was trying to avoid me.

"You have been avoiding me!" I said.

No, he'd just been busy on "other things." For three weeks.

*

ME: So why won't she talk?

LAMPE: She's focused on the health of her husband.

ME: [Laughing] C'mon!

I then pushed him on the statement put out by the Mayo Clinic that clearly did not connect Jackson's weight-loss surgery to his bipolar disease, though it was meant to do just that by the Jackson family.

Finally, Lampe said: "Their statement did not make the link. That's what [Sandi] believes."

*

The best stories reporters have are the ones they tell about, um, their reporting. I often think that those are the only stories they should tell instead of the ones they do; it strips away the artifice.

*

I also put a call into Ald. Anthony Beale and got a call back from his PR firm, which offered up Delmarie Cobb instead. "No thanks," I said. "I like to actually speak to the actual subjects involved in news stories instead of pundits who don't know what they're talking about."

Beale never called me himself, though several other aldermen weren't afraid to talk; they just didn't make it into the final version of the story, but I appreciated the discussions.

*

I thought Lampe's comment about the Mayo statement a pretty big scoop. I was proud of the reporting. My editors at Chicago disagreed and it didn't make it into the final version.

But the point is that no doctor that we know of has made that link. That's not to say there isn't a link; there could be. That's not to say no doctor has privately made that link, though that doesn't make sense. But reams of reporting has made the link, which seems to be just what Sandi Jackson wants.

Her disingenuousness has only continued since, pretending that her husband was ready to hit the campaign trail when he clearly wasn't (not to mention that there isn't a campaign trail; Jackson could win re-election from a hospital bed or a jail cell at this point).

I also asked Lampe if Sandi would be a candidate to replace her husband before or after the election. He told me he had never spoken to her about that, which may have been true then. But now? No one from Team Jackson deserves the benefit of the doubt anymore.

Wall-To-Wall Stonewalling
Did Rahm make up the new Clemente High School as he went along or is he hiding the ball?

The Magic Number Is The 3-Hole
The White Sox Report: It's your move, Robin.

The Weekend in Chicago Rock
A rich one at that.

Sack Happy
Back to the old Bears: Defense, special teams and a lousy offense.

*

See also from the Beachwood vault: He's Jay Cutler.

Truly Quixotic
Local Book Notes: A Multisensory Scrabble Experience.

Sea Otters!
Awareness Week at the Shedd.

Another Classic Fuzzy Memory
Into The Valley Of The Space Invaders.

The Cub Factor
Will appear on Tuesday.

-

The Beachwood Tip Line: Stacker of wheat.



Permalink

Posted on September 24, 2012


MUSIC - The Weekend In Chicago Rock.
TV - Cricket vs. Brexit.
POLITICS - Charter Schools Complicit With Segregation.
SPORTS - USA Gymnastics Bans Illinois Coach.

BOOKS - The Randomness Of Harvard Admissions.

PEOPLE PLACES & THINGS - Public Lands Matter.


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