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The [Thursday] Papers

The Chicago City Council's passage of the "big-box" ordinance requiring stores such as Wal-Mart to maintain wages and benefits above and beyond those mandated to other businesses rightfully dominates the news today, and we'll get to that soon enough.

My more immediate concern this morning is this: Can we sue special prosecutors Edward Egan and Robert Boyle for malpractice for their gross mishandling of the recenty released, $7 million, four-years-in-the making report on police torture allegations surrounding former commander Jon Burge?

The report's many flaws have already been noted, but with the release of the transcript of the special prosecutors' interview of Mayor Richard M. Daley, who was the Cook County State's Attorney when the torture allegations first bubbled up to the surface, confirms that this report was either an exercise in incompetence or a whitewash rigged from the get-go.

From today's Tribune:

"Noting that [tortured suspect Andrew] Wilson was in such bad shape - apparently after being beaten by police - that officers at the lockup would not let him in, Boyle posed his question this way: 'I assume that nobody ever brought that to your attention?'

"'No,' Daley answered.

"Boyle sounds almost apologetic in raising the question of whether the police killings that led to Wilson's arrest put pressure on law enforcement authorities.

"'And this may be an unfair question,' Boyle began. 'But in the normal course of events, I assume that the [William] Fahey and [Richard] O'Brien killing was a somewhat heightened case. And it's difficult, we've all been in law enforcement, and it's difficult to characterize a terrible event like that, so I don't know how to characterize it.'

"Boyle's question continues for four more lines in the transcript. Daley's answer was brief: 'Yes. It was known as a heater case.'"

Being a heater case - a high-profile prosecution of man charged with killing two police officers - you'd think Daley would have paid special attention to, say, a letter from the police chief indicating the suspect had been tortured.

This may be an unfair question, but could Boyle have been more of a pussy?

The Sun-Times reports that Daley said "I don't recall" 16 times. And maybe he doesn't. Daley made a big show last week about how he would never have allowed torture on his watch if he knew about it.

But it's not as if the allegations are just coming to light now. Daley was the state's attorney from 1981 to 1989, when he became mayor.

"Amnesty International issued a report in 1990 about police torture in Chicago; we received reports at the time that police from the Area 2 police station systematically tortured African-American detainees between 1972 and 1986. In December 1990, Amnesty International wrote to both the Cook County state's attorney and to the U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Illinois, asking them to investigate the allegations," an Amnesty International official writes in the Sun-Times today (fifth letter). "Despite the allegations of torture, the authorities failed to act."

And yet, Channel 7's Charles Thomas reports that Daley was asked only about the Wilson case. "There was nothing about the other 54 torture allegations during his term as state's attorney."

Additionally, "Egan told ABC7 an earlier, informal interview was conducted with Daley but was not transcribed.

Wow. Worst special report ever?

The Daley Index
The mayor's other interview responses, according to the Sun-Times:

"I don't know." Four times
"I wouldn't know." Three times.
"I can't comment on that." Twice.
"I couldn't speculate on that." Twice.
"I forgot." Once.
"I don't have a recollection." Once.
"I wouldn't recall." Once.
"I don't remember." Once.
"I've never heard of that." Once.

They Might Not Be Giants
The Tribunemay want to reconsider whether Egan and Boyle are really "Giants Among Men."

Neither paper, as far as I can tell, posted the Daley transcript to their Website. WBBM-AM has a pdf available here.

Big Boxing
This big-box thing is a big deal whose repercussions could be felt nationwide as other cities take up the debate and retailers are forced to respond one way or another. Appropriately, then, Wednesday's City Council vote made the front page of today's New York Times.

This was the most interesting part of the Times's account:

"We're very confident that retailers want and need to be in Chicago, and the question for the city is what kinds of jobs they will bring," said Annette Bernhardt of the Brennan Center for Justice at the New York University Law School, which helped draft the Chicago bill and has done economic studies of its likely impact . . .

"The drive to raise state and city minimum wages has grown out of frustration with Congress, which has left the federal minimum wage at $5.15 an hour since 1997. At least 22 states have enacted somewhat higher minimum wage laws.

"San Francisco; Albuquerque; Santa Fe, N.M.; and Washington have across-the-board minimum wage ordinances for all but the smallest businesses. Those in San Francisco and Santa Fe have set levels near that in the Chicago bill without driving out retailers, Ms. Bernhardt said.

"Ms. Bernhardt said that large retailers had saturated suburban markets and had powerful incentives to move into urban areas."

Pundit Patrol
* John Kass says the bill is "certainly unconstitutional," though the focus of his column is on the politics of the squabble. (The Illinois Retail Merchants Association says the bill violates equal protection guarantees; the Brennan Center says there is precedent for selective minimum wage requirements.)

* David Roeder, not very convincingly, says the bill reflects union weakness, not strength.

* The Sun-Times editorial page suggests big-box stores game the system and build stores that measure 89,999 square feet. (The new requirements apply to stores that are 90,000 square feet and larger.)

* Our very own Scott Gordon dissects an economic claim made in full-page ads paid for by Wal-Mart and the company's pals.

* Eric Zorn says he came to his position favoring the big-box ordinance late, and still has doubts. He also says the debate demonstrates why council meetings should be televised.

By The Numbers
The New York Times says the big-box ordinance bill will affect 35 stores, including Kmart, Target, Toys "R" Us, Sears, and Lowes.

The Tribune says there are about 40 stores that will be affected, naming Menards, Home Depot, Marshall Field's, and Nordstrom's.

The Sun-Times pegs the number at 38.

Living Large Wage
The City Council voted itself a pay raise.

Meat's a-Cookin'
Chicago advances in the Olympic derby.

Ring Them Bells
Sue Ontiveros of the Sun-Times says the media got the story about new neighbors silencing church bells of St. John Cantius wrong. One of the complainants speaks, too.

Ministry Misery
John Cleese on the effects of his recent hip replacement: "I can't do the silly walk anymore." (via QT)

The Beachwood Tip Line: Pedestrian-friendly.


Posted on July 27, 2006

MUSIC - Spring Awakening Wake-Up Call!
TV - Exclusive! Rahm's New TV Gig.
POLITICS - The Political Odds UPDATED.
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BOOKS - Stan Lee, Flawed Hero.

PEOPLE PLACES & THINGS - Chicagoetry: I Am Iron Man.

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