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The [Thursday] Papers

1. "Federal authorities are investigating five construction companies that collectively have gotten hundreds of millions of dollars in construction work at O'Hare Airport under Mayor Daley," the Sun-Times reports.

2. "Shortly after the Don Wade & Roma show, Blagojevich's former top fundraiser, Christopher Kelly, an O'Hare contractor, plead not guilty to federal charges that he paid kickbacks for contract work at the airport," John Kass writes. "When Blago was charged in early December, his top aide, John Harris, who once worked for Daley handling airport deals, was also charged. Harris must be talking. Kelly will crack.

"'Now [Kelly] probably has a lot of things he can say about operations at the airport,' Blago told Don and Roma. 'And I'm sure that federal prosecutors are interested to see how contracts are issued at O'Hare. And so some of those insights may have more to do with Mayor Daley than they have to do with me'."


Do I smell a deal a-cookin'? Blago cooperates with the feds by portraying himself as the reformist truth-teller driven out of office by a cabal of corrupt pols. He acknowledges his own "mistakes" in the process. I'm just not sure how far the G will go to placate him.

3. But Blago ought to be careful going around talking about legislators' affairs.

"Blagojevich's first job in politics was a member of the Illinois House of Representatives - Blago served under Madigan. In 2002, at the Illinois State Fair, Madigan spoke of then-gubernatorial candidate Blagojevich's unnamed 'indiscretions.' Just so there would be no room for misinterpretation, Madigan repeated the statement."

4. Not endorsing, just informing.

5. Working on a longer post about the departing Michael Cooke.

6. Possible replacements.

7. We heartily welcome Jeff Huebner to these pages today. Please read his outstanding piece, The Broom of Wicker Park.

8. So does this mean the president's legislative agenda is complete for this year? I mean, it's not like they can spend any more money, can they? Maybe Congress ought to adjourn.

9. "More than one-third of this bill is dedicated to providing tax relief to middle-class families, cutting taxes for 95 percent of American workers," said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.

"[The bill] includes Obama's signature 'Making Work Pay' tax credit for 95 percent of workers, though negotiators agreed to trim the credit to $400 a year - or $800 for married couples. It would begin showing up in most workers' paychecks in June as an extra $13 a week in take-home pay, falling to about $8 a week next January."

And what should Americans do with that windfall? Go shopping!


At least it's a dollar a day more than the gas tax relief Obama opposed last summer. Of course, that would have been stimulative - more driving! - as opposed to . . . more saving? more utility-bill paying?


I thought borrow-and-spend was in the Republican playbook. Make that borrow, tax cut and spend.

I'm not against a stimulus bill, mind you, but I think John Dickerson has it right. And if this was a jobs bill and/or an infrastructure bill that would be great. Various other agenda items could be handled down the road, like the Green Deal. Instead, we have a mess.

10. The bill will create "up to 5 million jobs."

Really? Why didn't we just put all Americans to work in the first place? Why don't we create 10 million jobs?


I've always been of the belief that FDR's New Deal was crucial in providing a social safety net that saved lives and provided a framework for a modern nation, but that it was really Hitler who got us out of the Great Depression. Wartime spending combined with rations that created pent-up demand resulted in a postwar boom that, like the Big Bang, spread far and wide until dissipating in the 70s in the face of changing global economic conditions - including the energy crisis - and the result of Vietnam war spending that wasn't backed by a tax increase, throwing the federal budget out of whack.

I wish it weren't so, but does that mean FDR's spending wasn't massive enough? My hunch is that it wasn't targeted enough toward investment in technology, medical research, education and other non-consumer areas of the economy that pay the biggest long-term dividends. (Including job retraining for both skilled and unskilled workers, as well.) I'm glad the federal government offered grants to writers back then; I wish they'd give me one now. But make-work jobs aren't nearly as beneficial to the economy as jobs with long-term spinoff benefits.

The sad irony is that we've actually been spending gazillions on a war for the last six years and our economy had nothing to show for it but huge deficits even before the financial meltdown.

We could have stood to get a smart stimulus bill through quickly for immediate relief and then spent just a little bit of time thinking about what the hell we were doing before spending an ungodly amount of money on projects Ray LaHood can't wait to get his hands on.


During the campaign, Obama promised to go through the federal budget "line by line" to weed out waste. Apparently that doesn't apply to the stimulus bill.

11. "Almost every Chicago alderman supported a resolution introduced Wednesday calling Mayor Richard Daley to publicly release the list of projects he would complete with money from a federal economic stimulus package," the Tribune reports.

"All but four of 50 aldermen signed [the] resolution."

The Trib, of course, doesn't name which four.

12. "Two frustrated aldermen are now calling for some major reforms of the TIF program, and they're starting by taking on the oversight issue," Ben Joravsky Mick Dumke reports.

13. Readers add their tales to our Peoples Gas Journal.

14. "The Chicago Yachting Association, an umbrella group for 15 yacht clubs in the Chicago area, has asked members to keep a lid on it, noting in a memo obtained by the Tribune that yacht clubs 'are vulnerable to retribution'," the Trib reports.

"Mayor Richard Daley's office and the Chicago Park District have made it clear 'that they do not wish to talk about issues that may be confrontational until after October 2009,' according to the memo by an association committee charged with formulating an approach to the city's Olympic plans."

Will the revelation of this memo hurt the city's Olympic bid? Are you kidding? The IOC loves the quelling of dissent.

15. "Forbes used nine factors - commute times, corruption, pro sports teams, Superfund sites, income and sales taxes, unemployment, violent crime and weather - to rank cities."

Given those criteria, the shock isn't that Chicago was determined to be the third most miserable city in the nation; it's that two other cities are even worse than we are.

The Beachwood Tip Line: Miserable.


Posted on February 12, 2009

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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