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The [Monday] Papers

"Peoples Gas executives withheld damning cost information in a 20-year infrastructure program to win state approval of a lucrative merger, an Illinois utility regulator charges, citing a new auditor's report," Crain's reports.

"In late July, about a month after the Illinois Commerce Commission backed the $5.7 billion sale of Chicago-based Integrys Energy Group to Wisconsin Energy, the utility disclosed that the estimated cost to replace nearly 2,000 miles of old Chicago gas mains had spiked to more than $8 billion from $4.5 billion. But Peoples had that estimate as far back as January and didn't disclose it until its sale was final, a new report by ICC-hired Liberty Consulting Group reveals.

Miguel del Valle, the only commissioner of the five-member agency to oppose the deal, says in an e-mail, "I voted against this merger because it was obvious to me the company's strategy was to keep information from the commission. I'm deeply concerned that while Liberty questions whether this multibillion-dollar program has adequate structure, Chicago ratepayers continue to pay for it each month."

Huh. The only member of the Illinois Commerce Commission to vote against the deal was . . . its chairman.

Del Valle was appointed to the board by former Gov. Pat Quinn, who also made him chairman, as is the sitting governor's prerogative. (The current chairman, as designated by Gov. Bruce Rauner, is Brian Sheahan.)

Let's take a step back from the issue at hand to look at this more broadly. First, this incident only reinforces how different del Valle is from, say, Rahm Emanuel, whom del Valle ran against for mayor in 2011 and who was a far better candidate than Chuy Garcia. Del Valle got crushed. But consider: If Emanuel had been chairman of the ICC when this vote came up, does anyone think he would've opposed it? Of course not. He would've behaved just as his hand-picked Chicago Board of Education behaved when Barbara Byrd-Bennett pushed that $20 million no-bid SUPES contract through; without due diligence. Most regulatory boards and commissions aren't designed to provide due diligence, but only the appearance of such so that insiders can all benefit. That's why they all sit on each other's boards and commissions. It's a closed system.

Emanuel is getting some pundit flak for not vetting Byrd-Bennett properly, but that's really missing the point, in part because there really wasn't anything in her background to indicate she was a scam artist (and everything in her background to indicate she'd be a fine hatchet woman) and in larger part because the problem with SUPES was the board, not Byrd-Bennett. Cheaters gonna cheat, so checks and balances gotta check and balance to stop them.

In the case of the school board, though, the mayor didn't appoint people he thought would provide due diligence checking his appointed school board chief; he appointed a board he thought would go along quietly with his appointed school board chief. See the problem here? The same person is appointing both sides of the equation. This is what speaks to a different model, be it an elected school board or removing the school district from mayoral control or some other solution. This is Exhibit A. It's staring us in the face.

This also speaks to the character of those who have served on Emanuel's boards, including U.S. Senate candidate Andrea Zopp, who saw Byrd-Bennett's relationship with SUPES as a "plus," not a conflict-of-interest. That's just the kind of worldview Emanuel was looking for when he made his appointments - a worldview so rampant in our political culture that he probably didn't have to think two seconds about it when it came to any potential board member he was considering. The last thing Emanuel wanted (and still wants) when it came to school board members was someone who would ask questions, tie things up, slow down his initiatives, embarrass his hand-picked CEO.

And landing an appointment to the school board is not exactly the fulfillment of a civic calling around here; it's good for one's future to be with the mayor. I don't know if Emanuel privately prefers Zopp or Tammy Duckworth for senate; he's publicly neutral. But school board members clearly work for a boss they want to please.

That's why the final sentence of my recent Op-Ed for Crain's says "Despite what school board members and CPS executives say, they are motivated more by their own desires and ambitions than they are by the desire to educate children. But that just means they're the wrong people for the jobs - and that goes to the mayor, who really needs to learn the kind of management lessons that someone like Joe Maddon can teach."

The SUPES scandal didn't arise out of a failure to properly vet Byrd-Bennett; I'm sure the more Emanuel saw of Byrd-Bennett's past, the more he liked her. The problem is in the appointment-making system, including who makes the appointments and why, and how boards of appointees really function, as opposed to setting them up to function the way they ought to.

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50th Anniversary Of St. Louis Arch Fraud
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch won a Pulitzer back in the day for exposing the fraudulent bond referendum that financed the Gateway Arch. That is recalled among other things as the Arch's 50th anniversary is celebrated.

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Note: The Arch story is a Reuters piece. As I've mentioned before, Reuters has made some of its work available for free to digital publishers, so I've been picking and choosing what fits here at Beachwood. Beyond that, though, I'd like you to take a look at the story and then consider that Reuters produced it in text only; I added the links and embedded the relevant video. Now, you tell me which is better? Sheesh. It's 2015. The legacy media mindset remains broken.

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Here's another example:

Defining a story as a "Monday paper story" is a definition that still defines stories as "paper" stories. For a certain day. That day being tomorrow.

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See also: 4 TellTale Signs You're Too Print-Centric.

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Note: Stop tweeting out your damn sports covers. You are killing your own jobs.

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Wait Til This Year
Check out this Primetime Live report from 1984 - it's eerily familiar to today's reports about the Cubs, right down to the narrative of kids who don't know any better. It also shows how great it was to be a Cubs fan - and some of the whys and wherefores behind such - until the yuppies came along.

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The Allure Of Cage Fighting
The author of Thrown, hailed as the only book you'll ever need to read about MMA, is here this week to explain why so many think it's so great.

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How To Investigate Debt At Your Area's Colleges
Plug-and-play, people.

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The Weekend In Chicago Rock
Featuring: Cartoons, Heavy Times, Make Overs, Autopsy, Nones, In The Valley Below, Against The Current, Machineheart, Kelly Price, Phoebe Ryan, Kansas, and Obnox.

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BeachBook

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TweetWood

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The Beachwood Tip Line: A full line, not just a half.



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Posted on October 26, 2015


MUSIC - The Weekend In Chicago Rock.
TV - Trump's Disastrous FCC Chair.
POLITICS - Filing: Walmart CEO Made $22.4 Million Last Year.
SPORTS - Teens Still Underreporting Concussions.

BOOKS - America, We Need To Talk.

PEOPLE PLACES & THINGS - Beachwood Photo Booth: Wyoming, Michigan.


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