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The [Monday] Papers

We shouldn't be surprised that Todd Stroger is taking some of that taxpayer money he just raised and giving it to his cousin, Donna Dunnings. But I wonder how Larry Suffredin feels today.

Friends & Family Plan
At a time when the rest of America is in an economic death spiral, Stroger is awarding his cousin - the county's Chief Financial Officer - a 12 percent raise. She will now make $160,000, up from her current$142,000.

Stroger's childhood friend, Gene Mullins, recently hired as a spokesman, said Dunnings deserves the raise because "she's doing twice the work she was before and has more responsibilities."

Welcome to post-1973 America!

The hiring of Dunnings was supposed to save money because she was taking less money than her predecessor. Now we know that was a short-term proposition. Kind of like those low-interest credit card offers.

"She only took [less] when we didn't have any money," Mullins told the Sun-Times's Steve Patterson, who helpfully added that he was "referring to the just-passed 1 percentage point sales tax increase that is so substantial, it will ultimately give county government more money than it needs to operate."

Paging Larry "I'm sorry people think I empowered Todd Stroger" Suffredin!

Patterson notes that Mayor Daley is tightening his belt at City Hall, by contrast, but I have a lot for sale in Bubbly Creek for anyone who doesn't think Daley ultimately controls the board. His brother, John, is the powerful, longtime Finance Committee chairman who could revoke Stroger's parking pass with one phone call. He, too, supported the tax increase. And I don't remember the mayor calling Stroger - or Suffredin - to say, "Don't do it if you know what's good for you!"

Of course, the bulk of Chicago's sales tax burden falls on Mayor Daley and the city anyway, and he certainly has his own Friends & Family Plan. What Todd Stroger can't be forgiven is his how incompetent even his corruption is. That is something Chicagoans can't abide.

Illinois Handbook
As opposed to pros like Stuart Levine and Tony Rezko, who almost make George Ryan's administration look like pikers.

"In just six days' worth of prosecution witnesses, it's already a barnburner," Carol Marin writes of the Rezko trial, "filled with descriptions of hinky deals orchestrated by a bipartisan band of politically connected power brokers who locked onto the Blagojevich administration like blood-starved leeches, sucking out all the cash they could from government contracts and pension funds."

Must-See TV
"It sends the message that taxpayers have to make sacrifices and President Stroger's friends, family and supporters get special treatment," BGA honcho Jay Stewart told the Sun-Times. "It is a classic example of how Cook County politicians look at the world - one set of rules for the outsiders and a different, more favorable set of rules for the insiders."

Here's a tip: Watch Fox News Chicago at 9 p.m. tonight to be outraged all over again on that score.

Cola Wars
"A controversial contract Gov. Blagojevich's administration signed last year giving Pepsi exclusive rights to sell soft drinks on state property will be probed after lawmakers unanimously asked Illinois' top government auditor to investigate the deal," the Sun-Times reports.

"Auditor General William Holland will look into allegations made by Pepsi's chief rival, Coca-Cola, that the contract was tainted because the administration accepted Pepsi before hearing Coke's best offer."

Punch lines welcome.

Change Bank
"According to witnesses, a loud black man approached a crowd of some 4,000 strangers in downtown Chicago Tuesday and made repeated demands for change."

Come Clean
"Yes, we do know that Obama opposed the Iraq war from the beginning and that he now favors diplomacy with Iraq's neighbors, including Iran. And that, if elected, he'd advocate allotting $2 billion or more to help Iraqi refugees. And, oh right, that he'd withdraw one or two U.S. combat brigades each month, with the goal of bringing all combat brigades home within 16 months - though keeping a residual force to protect American diplomats and target al-Qaeda.

"But do we know the senator's stance on how to construct a working public-library system in Baghdad? What about his views on establishing an off-track betting site in Kirkuk? And can any of us pretend to know how Obama plans to get Sunnis, Shias and Kurds to agree on a recycling program?"

- Mark Bazer, in "Stop Dodging The Issues, Barack!!!!"

Public Housing
Washington, D.C. is taking a different approach to public housing than Chicago: Redeveloping the projects for the benefit of the people who live there, not the monied interests and gentrifiers who want the land.

"[The director of the city's housing authority] is undertaking a great experiment to see if he can turn around distressed neighborhoods and keep the original residents there to benefit," said Sue Popkin, a housing expert at the Urban Institute. "It's a big gamble. We don't know how to take a terrible neighborhood and make it nice while keeping the same people there."

Wireless City
"Hopes For Wireless Cities Fade As Internet Providers Pull Out."

It's not just Chicago whose plans - announced with great fanfare - have gone awry.

"Whether they were going to an all-ages punk gig at Metro, a country show at the United Center or a heavy-metal festival at Alpine Valley, the same name made many music fans see red for the past two decades: Ticketmaster," Jim DeRogatis writes.

"The company has come to be loathed by concertgoers for adding an average of 25 percent to advertised prices through its steep service fees. But the dominant, some would say monopolistic force in ticketing is showing chinks in its armor at every level of its business here in Chicago."

Lesson Learned?
Neil Steinberg - honorably - issues a correction for his "stand-on-a-chair-and-whoop enthusiasm" of the Iraq War. (Second item)

Who Makes What
"The minimum salary for a Sun-Times columnist with five years' experience is $77,137, as set forth in the Chicago Newspaper Guild contract, but there's a wide variation beyond that," Mark Brown writes.

The "talented but unproven twentysomethings" who blog for Gawker make an estimated $80,000 a year.

"If Chicago Police Supt. Jody Weis is serious about re-establishing trust between police and the black community, he should start by hiring and promoting more African Americans. That's the message black ministers have delivered to Weis during a series of fence-mending meetings - and the statistics back them up," the Sun-Times reported on Sunday in a front page story headlined "Do The Math."

While the city's population is 36.5 percent white, 35.3 percent African-American, and 28.2 percent Latino, it's patrol officers are 54 percent white, 25 percent African-American, 17.7 percent Latino.

So, yes, the police department isn't quite up to speed. However, it appears to be light years ahead of the Sun-Times.

Goodbye, Ivan
"The technically adept Kinchloe was in charge of electronic communications and could mimic German officers on the radio or phone."

And we loved him for that. But Kinchloe - Ivan Dixon - had a career beyond Hogan's Heroes. "[His] films included vivid portrayals of black struggles in the American South and insurrectionist inclinations in the North," the New York Times obituary says.

From Brian Rhodes (my brother): Kinch could also make a good batch of home-made ice cream when he wasn't hiding the radio in the churn.

The Beachwood Tip Line: Contact Allied HQ.


Posted on March 24, 2008

MUSIC - Chicago Drill vs. Brooklyn Drill vs. UK Drill.
TV - Jonathan Pie On Lockdown Pt 3.
POLITICS - Boeing vs. Public Broadcasting.
SPORTS - The Truth About Ed Farmer.

BOOKS - A First: Comics Industry Shut Down.


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