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The [Thursday] Papers

"A well-known South Side preacher who had been appointed to a state post by then- Gov. Rod Blagojevich has pleaded guilty to steering state business to companies in which he had a stake," the Tribune reports.

"Bamani Obadele, 37, stepped down as a deputy director of the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services in 2005 after an internal investigation found he had profited from state contracts.

"In pleading guilty Tuesday to one count of mail fraud in federal court in Chicago, Obadele admitted he had DCFS vendors buy tote bags, magnets and other items from a promotional company he secretly owned. He also directed DCFS contractors to subcontract work to a company in which he held a board seat . . .

"Obadele, a preacher at Greater Harvest Missionary Baptist Church on the South Side, faces up to 21 months in prison, but his attorney, David Wiener, said he would seek probation. U.S. District Judge Charles Kocoras set Dec. 14 for sentencing.

"Obadele, who struck up a friendship with Blagojevich two decades ago when Obadele shined shoes in a police station, worked for Blagojevich's election in 2002."

This is actually a pretty sad story. From Elizabeth Brackett's Pay to Play:

"Paris Thompson was thirteen years old when Blagojevich first sat down on a police station bench to have his shoes shined. He struck up a conversation with the young teenager, telling him he too had shined shoes as a kid. It was true. When Millie Blagojevich took a job in the factory across the street from their home, she set both boys up with shoe shining jobs after school in the factor's reception area.

"At first Thompson, who lived in the Robert Taylor Homes, didn't know what to make of Blagojevich. 'Here's this white guy - gonna tell me shined shoes. I thought this guy really . . . was born with a silver spoon in his mouth. I thought, 'Yeah, this is a bunch of crap.' But after getting to know him, I learned that he came up the hard way. I mean, he did shine shoes. He did deliver pizza. All I can say is, I just really had a great appreciation for a person like that - and had a great deal of respect for his level of sincerity and commitment to the little people. I considered myself the person locked out. I mean, as child growing up I was isolated here in public housing, cut off from the rest of the world.'

"Blagojevich introduced Thompson to a much wider world, taking him along downtown and to the North Side - places Thompson had never seen, though he had grown up in Chicago. He took him to his first baseball game - the Cubs, since Blagojevich was a North Side guy. And he was able to arrange for Thompson to meet some of the ballplayers. Blagojevich also stuck up for Thompson when another shoe shine kid stole a policeman's gun at the station. The police wanted all five of the shoe shine boys kicked out, but Blagojevich knew how much their $25 a day meant to the kids who came from public housing. He intervened, and the kids kept their jobs. Without Blagojevich's help, says Thompson, he probably would have turned to selling drugs like most of his friends . . .

"When Paris Thompson grew up he became a high-profile community activist and a well-known Baptist minister on Chicago's South Side, and changed his name. Reverend Bamani Obadele helped get out the black vote in Blagojevich's first gubernatorial campaign. The governor then appointed him to a $65,000-a-year job overseeing adoption and foster programs for the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services."

Obadele is scheduled to be sentenced in December.

Trib Squib
"Although Michaels issued a blanket denial of the Times' article's characterization of Tribune Co.'s work environment as a hostile and sexist 'frat house,' sources predicted creditor groups looking to discredit management will almost certainly use the article as ammunition," the Tribune's Michael Oneal reports.

But doesn't Oneal know firsthand - or have a slew of colleagues who do - whether Michaels' blanket denial is a blanket lie? Does Oneal have the reportorial independence to call out the Trib CEO the way he would the CEO of any other company?

In other words, aren't Tribune reporters - and their company colleagues - just pretending they don't know if Michaels is lying?

*

Among the comments posted to Phil Rosenthal's Wednesday story "Tribune Co. CEO Michaels: 'Ignore The Noise' Of NY Times Story:"

I guess Michaels and his cronies are oblivious to - or don't care about - the fact that almost nobody today at Tribune is having fun.

Posted by: Elizabeth Maupin | October 06, 2010 at 10:22 AM

-

As a former employee of the Chicago Tribune, I can attest it certainly did have a culture of hostility and sexism. It is especially inappropriate for senior management to ignore complaints about its culture. If they have appeared in an article in the New York Times, that is, publicly, then management has ignored them internally. That's a violation of the law.

Posted by: Laura Rizzardini | October 06, 2010 at 10:23 AM

-

The New York Times article paints a clear (channel) picture of the culture and goings-on at Tribune. I was there. It's all true (including the 22nd floor balcony detail). It was a sad, sad place to work.

Posted by: iwasthere | October 06, 2010 at 11:18 AM

-

As a former Chicago Tribune reporter, I can attest that the culture at the paper was abysmal. As a woman, I never experienced sexism but the verbal abuse was nauseating. Even after reporting problems, nothing was done. I know several reporters who left as a result, simply because they couldn't take it any longer and finally realized there was life outside the "Tribune." Ignoring the noise only makes it worse. Stop burying your head in the sand. You don't need to work in an abusive environment.

Posted by: Former Trib Employee | October 06, 2010 at 12:40 PM

Tell It Like It Is
Rahm spoils a classic, in Song of the Moment.

Whitney to Teachers: Torture or Beheading
Either way, you're dead.

Waiting For The Cable Guy
What it costs you.

Ballots From The Dead
Don't forget! Start planning now! One week from today!

As if J.J. Tindall reading Chicagoetry for you isn't enough, this will be a great chance to meet some Beachwood contributors and readers. Inebriation may also occur afterwards, who knows. Then we'll read limericks.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Rhyme or reason.




Permalink

Posted on October 7, 2010


MUSIC - The Week In Chicago Rock.
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SPORTS - Canada Cuts Youth Hockey Injuries In Half.

BOOKS - America, We Need To Talk.

PEOPLE PLACES & THINGS - Beachwood Photo Booth: Wyoming, Michigan.


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