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The [Thursday] Papers

By Steve Rhodes

1. The website of the Chicago News Cooperative was blank this morning except for this:

hacked!!!! by ......... :)

I didn't do it!

2. "Longtime education champion and current Chicago City Clerk Miguel del Valle will lead the fight for Illinois to get a share of the $4.3 billion that will be awarded through the federal Race to the Top program," Catalyst reports.

"Governor Pat Quinn appointed former state senator del Valle to chair the state's 25-member P-20 Council, whose main charge is to oversee the development of a longitudinal data system to track student outcomes from preschool through post-secondary education. The council will also play a role in the state's bid for competitive Race to the Top funds, which some insiders predict will be awarded to just 10 to 20 states."

3. The Year in Photos at Marina City.

4. Mayor Daley recently said the only problem with TIFs is a marketing one. Apparently he thinks city officials have to do a better job packaging his lies. Today the Tribune enables those officials by publishing a long letter to the editor from the city's chief financial officer, Gene Saffold, filled with evasions and half-truths. I'll leave it to Ben Joravsky to pick apart.

5. "In the past, mainstream TV and newspaper reporters have told me their editors wouldn't let them write about TIFs because they were too complicated and boring for their readers to understand," Joravsky wrote recently. "And it wasn't too long ago that the Sun-Times extricated any reference to TIFs from its otherwise ass-kicking tale of how Alderman Ed Burke used TIF money to build a fence.

"I realize it's easy to underestimate the intelligence of the average Chicagoan, given the chumps we keep electing and re-electing.

"But, trust me, most of us are smart enough to know we're paying more in taxes.

"I've always said the mayor will get away with this TIF scam so long as the mainstream media remains silent on the subject."


I've heard the same thing from reporters. But isn't our job to break down complex subjects and explain them to the public? And the truth is, TIFs aren't that hard to understand when it comes right down to it. Joravsky explains them in a recurring paragraph almost every week.

And this is the same media we depend on to explain the war in Afghanistan and health care.

It's shameful, it's malpractice, and it's amazingly offensive.

It reminds me of something Bob Somerby wrote this week:

"Unless you study the matter full-time, it's almost impossible to comprehend the incompetence of the mainstream press corps over the past several decades.

"In part, our journalists simply aren't very smart. This is of course an awkward point, but it must be said. But part of this cohort's stunning incompetence stems from its broken-souled values."

6. Shock Jock Named New Tribune CEO.

UPDATE Dec. 21: See cached version here - and an explanation for why NBC Universal killed the post here.

7. Rebel Forces Gain On Daley Death Star.

8. Like the mayor, Ed Burke just can't imagine a budget other than the one put forth by Daley and approved by the city council on Thursday. It's the only possible budget in all the universe!

From the Tribune:

"What's the alternative?" said Ald. Edward Burke, 14th, referring to the plan to draw down $370 million in proceeds from last year's controversial lease of city parking meters to help bridge a $520 million gap. "There isn't any."

I happened to be in city council chambers yesterday when Ald. Tom Allen was reciting a long line of alternatives.

But as a friend who recently testified before a city council committee told me earlier this week, you step into an alternate reality when you step into City Hall. And that's a reality where facts and the truth don't matter.


"You cannot break a contract in 12 months that's supposed to last for 75 years," Allen said. "It's unconscionable, it's irresponsible and it's disingenuous. You have to understand you just can't tell the citizens and taxpayers stories. You can't tell them stories. They're not stupid."

Ah, but you can, Tom. You can tell stories all day long. You can tell stories for 20 years. Especially if they are, you know, about things too boring and complex for editors to care about. Those, in fact, are the best stories to tell.

9. "Swine flu e-mail carries a virus."

10. "Pat Quinn is fast becoming the Todd Stroger of Springfield," I posit over at

Now, a few commentators around town have accused Quinn of channeling Rod Blagojevich. But I think Quinn is more Todd than Rod. Todd is more dumb than corrupt. Rod is corrupt. Todd is more a bumbler than a schemer. Rod is a schemer. Todd doesn't cut an impressive public figure. Rod is slick. I think Quinn resembles Todd more than Rod. They are both ham-handed and out of their depth. Rod is just a singularly bad person.

11. Ron Artest Is Nuts!

12. As good a diagnosis of the diseased Bears organization as I've read so far.

13. Hope is fading.

14. The Wilco loft.


The Beachwood Tip Line: Tips not TIFs.


Posted on December 3, 2009

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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