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The [Thursday] Papers

By Steve Rhodes

I have to admit that when Andy Shaw was named to replace Jay Stewart - who joined the Quinn administration - as the executive director of the Better Government Association, I was skeptical.

Andy Shaw?

Just another blow-dried TV guy, I thought.

Sure, he was a political reporter, but he never made much of a mark on me.

I have to admit now that so far Shaw is terrific.

I saw him earlier this morning on Good Day Chicago explaining the BGA's newly filed lawsuit against the Todd Stroger administration with aplomb, and I've just read his Op-Ed in the Tribune today about the state's sudden legalization of video poker and it's a perfectly executed argument.

A few weeks ago I saw Shaw interviewed on, I think, Chicago Tonight, and he seemed to spell out a vision for the BGA that included a website chock full of investigative reporting; if I understood correctly, he sees the BGA as a news source in and of itself. He didn't mention ProPublica, but it sounded like - and again, I could be wrong - he was describing a local version as such.

In any case, I've been turned around. He's off to an impressive start.


I just hope he's as aggressive with Daley as I'm sure he will be with Stroger.

Willis Tower
* Joe Plumeri, the chairman and CEO of Willis Groups Holdings, which is moving into the Sears Tower and changing its name, visited the local editorial boards on Wednesday and got results.

Question, though, for the Tribune editorial board: So you'll be okay changing the name of the Tribune Tower to the Willis Tower if Plumeri moves in there too?

* Yes, the difference is that Sears no longer occupies the Sears Tower. But shouldn't Tribune Tower always retain its name - just like the Wrigley Building and the Chicago River?

* Can we stop with the Big Willie stuff now? A world-class city doesn't call its tallest tower Big Willie.

* "[W]e've got a feeling that Willis Tower is going to work its way into Chicago's lexicon - and its heart," the Tribune editorial board avers.

Really? A feeling? And not just into our lexicon, but our hearts?

I think that's the feeling of Plumeri's oily salesmanship dripping on your conference room table.

* Willis is donating $100,000 to Chicago 2016 today. So no, not working its way into my heart. But the mayor's heart, yes.

* "The Olympic assistance will please Mayor Daley, whose administration already has pledged a $3.8 million subsidy for Willis' estimated $17 million move to Sears Tower," the Sun-Times reports.

So taxpayers give Willis $3.8 million and Plumeri diverts $100,000 to the Olympic committee - and most assuredly a campaign contribution to the mayor to come. Who comes out worst in the deal?

* Does This Tower Look "Blighted" To You?

* "Shakespeare was wrong: A rose by any other name would not smell as sweet. Sometimes a name becomes inextricably linked with the pleasure of the thing."

Fare Wars
It now costs less to fly than it does to park at a downtown Chicago parking meter for more than two hours.

Budget Baloney
Pat Quinn is crowned the king of a sinking ship.

Earning His Pay
Richard Roeper gets the big bucks because it would never occur to anyone else in America to make fun of a town named Manville.

Whistle Blowing
Matt Damon is playing ADM whistleblower Mark Whitacre for laughs in a new movie based on The Informant, Greg Burns reports in the Tribune.

I've read The Informant, by the way, and I highly recommend it. See how high-level corporate insiders really act behind closed doors.

(On the other hand, it's just how you would imagine . . . with malice.)

Porch Report
"Six years after a catastrophic porch collapse in Lincoln Park killed 13 people and forced a Chicago-wide crackdown on dangerous porches, the city has returned to a more passive vigilance of their hazards," the Tribune reports.

Burke's Shirk
"Ald. Burke acted quickly, moving to suspend the city council rules to immediately consider this ordinance," Ald. Joe Moore writes in a note to constituents that we've adapted. "The brief debate which followed illustrates yet another example of the need for oversight at every step in the city's legislative process.

"I carefully reviewed the proposed ordinance and noticed it did not require a review of the Olympic-loss insurance policy, so I offered that as a friendly amendment.

"Hoots and calls came from several other aldermen on the floor.

"'No, that's already included!' they yelled out.

"But it wasn't."

Clout Cafe Wins Again
Park Grill: more and less than meets the eye.

Lizard Leaps
Greg Kot wrote the other day that Chicago's very own Jesus Lizard was the best live band anywhere for most of the 90s. We provide the video so you can decide for yourself.

Fantasy Fix
Find out where Milton Bradley and Carlos Quentin stand in our new Fantasy Fix Action Ratings.

"Skagway is one of those places where gift shops can get away with selling books about horrible things that happened right there," Scott Gordon writes in today's installment of Serenade Of The Seas. "Just as national park gift shops hawk dozens of books of bear-attack stories, Skagway's offer a biography of "Soapy" Smith, a confidence man who established a little criminal empire here as the town became a hub for the Yukon gold rush in 1898. Other titles include Rebel Women Of The Gold Rush and Oh No, We're Gonna Die! Skagway still has its wood-plank sidewalks and century-old buildings, but they now host the highest concentration of jewelry shops and gift shops I've ever seen in one square mile. The local historical museum is a bit more low-key, showcasing the hardiness of Skagway's settlers via such landmark creations as the 'Duck Neck Quilt.' I don't know what's so special about ducks' necks as opposed to the rest of the bird, but if I ever do a Captain Beefheart parody album, I've got my title."


The Beachwood Tip Line: Use before you die.


Posted on July 16, 2009

MUSIC - Holiday Hullabaloo.
POLITICS - Bank Profits Soaring.
SPORTS - Chicago vs. Michigan, 1903.

BOOKS - Dia De Los Muertos Stories.

PEOPLE PLACES & THINGS - Chicagoetry: West Town Blues.

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