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The [Thursday] Papers

By Steve Rhodes

What a terrible job of public relations our new parking meter overlords have done.

I had this thought when I approached one of their workers last night. I must confess that at first I thought he was The Parking Ticket Geek.

Hey, are you The Parking Ticket Geek? I asked.


You're not The Parking Ticket Geek? I said.

Now, I've seen The Parking Ticket Geek on TV, so I know what he looks like. And I've frequently corresponded with him via e-mail. And I learned his real identity this week and it turns out I know him.

But last night I just figured he didn't want to be publicly identified.

Turns out the guy I approached really did work for the new parking meter company - he just looked like The Geek.

He was one of a couple guys checking on the meters in the neighborhood.

And I know it's not their fault, but I felt hate in my heart as I watched them with their clipboards walking up and down Milwaukee Avenue.

And that's when I thought, Geez, these guys are already Public Enemy #1. I don't think they'll ever get over it.

They should have come in more smoothly - raise the rates gradually, slowly install meters where none were before, air some commercials and brag about customer service representatives standing by.

But no.

It didn't help my mood that I had just spent a ridiculous 45 minutes on a "live chat" with Comcast. Why a live chat? Because Randy, if that was his real name, "accidentally" disconnected my call when he supposedly tried to transfer me to someone with a clue about my service being out, and further phone calls yielded nothing but menus that didn't include live agents, as if they were suddenly out of service too. I even tried Comcast's e-mail support system, but all I got from that was an error message every time I clicked on "Submit."

Bad day at Comcast Central. But not atypical. That's how Comcast earned its reputation as one of the suckiest companies around, though it took a few years. It only took LAZ as much time as it takes to find a broken meter these days.


Ironically, I actually then did run into The Parking Ticket Geek on the street a few minutes later; he was being interviewed by my pal Mike Stephen of Outside the Loop Radio.

I mentioned that my favorite part of the whole parking meter mess is the fact that LAZ didn't anticipate how the volume of quarters needed to pay the new rates would make the meters fill up that much more quickly, requiring workers to make more frequent stops to empty the meters before they jammed.


Finally, this week's Reader cover story is a must-read:

"How Daley and his crew hid their process from the public, ignored their own rules, railroaded the City Council, and screwed the taxpayers on the parking meter lease deal."


Of course, it's much better to read the online version than the print version. Why? Because that way you have the option of looking at the actual documents the Reader turned up through a Freedom of Information Act request.

And I had this thought when I read Whet Moser's cover story a few weeks ago, which originated as an online essay: They had to make it worse when they reworked it for print because they had to remove vital information - the story's links.

Wikipedia Brown!
The Beachwood's lawyer is featured in the Tribune today. Evan was with us from even before the start, and his generosity and sagacity is still much appreciated.

Corruption King
"Coming from as far away as Azerbaijan, dozens of corporate executives and government bureaucrats gathered at a downtown hotel Wednesday to hear Mayor Richard Daley share his tips for preventing corruption," the Tribune reports.

I'll just let that one be.

Zell Hell
"The Chicago Tribune has previously reported that Tribune Co. Chairman and CEO Sam Zell was interviewed by federal authorities in January as a potential witness against Blagojevich. Zell has declined repeated requests for comment from the newspaper."

Even though he's paying for those requests.


To be fair, former CEO Dennis FitzSimons wasn't exactly cooperative with the paper's own reporters, either.


To be even fairer, reporters and editors are frequently unwilling to talk to the press as well. Just sayin'.

Teacher Tut
"To get stimulus funds, states will have to provide date regarding teacher evaluations," Alexander Russo reports at District 299. "As you may recall a study of teacher evaluations in Chicago showed that the vast majority of teachers were rated as superior or excellent."

Baseball Idol
At Baseball Prospectus:

"Do you want to write for BP? Now is your chance. We'll be accepting any and all submissions, and anyone is eligible providing they can accept the prize, which is a contract to write once a week for Baseball Prospectus from the time of your victory through the final out of the World Series in October. And just for fun, we'll throw in $1,000 dollars for the winner as well."

In Bin Dive
Find out which record "adds up to a heartbreaking portrait of how a criminally overlooked band was struggling to cut through loads of personal trauma, financial problems, and outright skullduggery to express their considerable talents as time was running out for them."

We Are The World
The 30 countries that have sent us readers so far this week.

IOC Moves On
What they're saying in Tokyo, Rio and Madrid.

Social Media Report
It's still a work-in-progress, but we now have a Beachwood Reporter page on Facebook. I'd like to separate my personal page from the BR page.

We're also now on Twitter, though again, we haven't really started.

Funny thing is that every week I get messages from folks following me on Twitter, but I don't remember ever setting up an account. A pal sort of remembers me doing this at her behest, but I sort of thought she did it for me. Whatever. This has been going on for a couple years now and I had yet to tweet until this week. But we'll try to get the BR Twitter cranked up in our own inimitable way.

The Beachwood Tip Line: Like a bird.


Posted on April 9, 2009

MUSIC - Millions Of New Guitar Players.
TV - "One America News" is AT&T.
POLITICS - When Wall Street Came To My Mobile Home Park.
SPORTS - Tonyball, Bears On The Run, Eyes On The Sky & More!

BOOKS - China Holding Swedish Publisher.


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