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The [Monday] Papers

"Many businesses that will be open Sunday face a seasonal staffing problem known as 'Super Bowl Fever' - the Cook County Jail is among them," WBBM Radio's Bernie Tafoya reported last week.

"Super Bowl Sunday is one of those days when huge numbers of Cook County Jail correctional officers historically have called in sick, leaving the Sheriff's Office to force other officers to stick around for overtime.

"Last year, we had approximately 350 staff that called in sick," Cook County Sheriff's Chief Policy Officer Cara Smith said.

"Smith says the Sheriff's Office knows who may have abused those privileges in the past on Super Bowl Sunday, and that they're going to be warned ahead of time this year."

Though Tafoya noted that "Super Bowl Fever" afflicts businesses of all kinds, I've often wondered - well, every year when I read this annual story - if the Cook County Jail is really all that special, or if it's just a media go-to.

After seeing the story on Twitter, I sent this e-mail to my criminal justice expert friend Tracy Siska, of the Chicago Justice Project:

Ya know, I'm not excusing this but ... my first thought was, how many other businesses get a slew of sick calls on Super Bowl Sunday? Then I realized not very many businesses are open on Sundays. But it's not as if a professional office wouldn't have people skipping out, right? Again, not excusing it, just sayin' ...

Tracy didn't have time to respond to that one, among a slew of e-mails on a variety of subjects he did address for me, but I pretty much got my answer from Fox32 News on Saturday.

"An estimated 14 million people plan to call in sick on Monday, the day after the Super Bowl," Fox reported.

"That makes Monday one of the most popular sick days of the year, according to a study from Kronos and Mucinex."

(Heh-heh, Mucinex.)

Then, of course, Fox couldn't resist going right to this:

"At the Cook County Jail in Illinois, sick calls on Super Bowl Sunday are a chronic problem. In 2017, about 240 jail guards called in sick. In 2016, 128 called in sick. That has led the jail to warn those who have called in sick in the past that they might face repercussions if they do so again this year."

I get that the number of sick calls at the jail seem inordinately high. But are they? How many total employees do they have? How many call in sick on regular days? And remember, those calls are for gameday. The 14 million in other professions are for today, the day after the Super Bowl. Those are hangover calls.

Then again, is 14 million a lot? Out of the entire working population? Again, how many people call in sick on a typical workday?

I get that a jail is different, but what is the worry - that there will be so few guards inmates will escape? Or riot?

I'm also curious how many police officers get Super Bowl Fever. Or air traffic controllers. Or customer service reps, who do more every day to put America in a bad mood than Donald Trump. Context, people!


Maybe jail employees are particularly shirkey. But then, why would that be? And is Cook County Jail any worse than other jails across the country?

It's not the biggest deal in the media criticism universe, but it is representative of scripted, unmoored reporting that fails to provide perspective and arguably leaves readers and viewers less informed rather than more, if you believe that half-informed is often worse than uninformed.


I'm guessing some of the points I raise have been reported on somewhere sometime, though I don't really know. I don't always have time to do everyone's googling for them!

But if the research has been done, it's been forgotten. Or has been ignored.


"That has led the jail to warn those who have called in sick in the past that they might face repercussions if they do so again this year."

Don't jail officials say this every year? And doesn't the media report it every year like it's a new threat? Apparently it's not working!


CBS2 also did a Super Bowl Fever report - from outside the jail! Is that really a wise use of scarce resources? Or is it too irresistible to slam public employees while stoking fear in the rest of us that a huge jailbreak is impending.


It looks like the newspapers stayed away this year - or I missed their pieces. They'll be back next year, though, I'm quite sure. There's no way they miss this two years in a row.


New on the Beachwood today . . .

Super Tweets
They're super freaky, yow.


SportsMonday: The Foles Factor
When it comes to quarterbacks, the NFL doesn't have a clue.


The Right To Repair
After Apple slows phones, interest spikes.


The Hidden History Of Black Nationalist Women's Political Activism
Chicago was key.


Meet Chicago Body Painter Diego Gonzalez
Super cool, people.


24 Hours With FM
Lotta Dope $H!T.


On This Day In . . .

2014: Dissecting The Daleys & Koschman.


2015: Moody's State Of The State.


2016: Ferro!





Uitpakken van 5 verschillende houten treinen. (Cool toy CTA trains - not an exact translation.)



Tucson Grand Jurors Rebel Against Drug Prosecutions.


Inside The Six-Month Downfall Of Seattle's Mayor.


The Magnetic Field Is Shifting. The Poles May Flip. This Could Get Bad.


A sampling.


Similarly, in Seattle . . .


Grand Wizard Old Party.



The Beachwood Tronc Line: Bananas.


Posted on February 5, 2018

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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