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The [Thursday] Papers

"Illinois has been deeply involved in the war in Afghanistan - thousands of soldiers from the state have served there and dozens have died," AP reports.


"In all, 71 Illinois troops have died in the war in Afghanistan, including 19 National Guard members and 52 from the other military branches."


"Illinois National Guard units have been on the ground virtually every moment since the war began in 2001."


"The 33rd Infantry Brigade soldiers went to Afghanistan to train that country's soldiers and police in mid-2008 and returned a year later. They were in the country during some of the most violent months of the war to date, with American deaths in double digits for many of those months.

"Brig. Gen. Scott Thoele took leave from his job as a banker in Quincy to lead 33rd Brigade. A colonel at the time, he was blunt ahead of the deployment in saying the Afghan army and police were far from an effective force."


"Ralph Grieco hopes that at some point the payoff for the war that cost him his son is an Afghanistan governed in some way that insures the country won't cultivate another threat to the United States.

"People around Grieco asked often how the recent killing of Osama bin Laden affected him, whether it provided him any sort of closure or vindication as he thinks - and he says he does so every day - about his son.

"'People said, How do you feel? How do you feel? and We got the guy,' Grieco said. 'Those pictures of the young kids celebrating outside the White House just turned our stomachs, because it didn't bring Kevin back. It didn't bring any of them back.'"

Trading Places
"Poor financial decisions with a Chicago futures brokerage firm lost an alleged al-Qaeda operative with links to Osama bin Laden some $20 million dollars in just eight months, according to a lawsuit filed recently in Chicago by the U.S. Department of Justice," AP reports.

"Federal officials said Abu al Tayyeb, through an associate, deposited nearly $27 million - earned from a 'Saudi Arabian-based investment scheme' - into an account with Chicago-based R.J. O'Brien & Associates in 2005. But because of a 'poor trading position adopted' by the associate, the money dropped below $7 million less than a year later."

Global Economy
Chicago To Host NATO, G-8 In 2012.

By which time it will just be the G-7 and ATO.

Base Motives
New CPS chief Jean-Claude Brizard will make a base salary of $250,000 plus performance bonuses. He also has been given $30,000 in taxpayer money for moving expenses. But the man does have a conscience:

"Brizard said that for the first year he will forgo any bonus - capped at 15 percent of his base salary - given the financial quagmire facing the district."


The poverty rate for children in Chicago Public Schools is 85 percent.


"Full-day kindergarten offers unequivocal benefits, especially for low-income students who often come to school already behind," Catalyst reports. "But in most cases, CPS only pays for half-day kindergarten, forcing schools to reach into their own already-stretched pockets to provide full-day programs that many working parents prefer."


"(CPS officials refused to provide a list showing which schools do not have full-day programs, and at press time, had not responded to Catalyst Chicago's two-month-old Freedom of Information Act request.)

"But compared to other big-city districts, it's clear that Chicago is outside the norm: New York City, Los Angeles and San Francisco, among other cities, each provide full-day programs for all children."

Charter Barter
"Jitu Brown from the Kenwood-Oakland Community Organization says that he cannot understand how CPS can commit to renovating a building for Chi Arts when it is the midst of a budget crisis," Catalyst reports. "Last Wednesday, CPS' Board of Education voted to rescind the 4 percent raises due to teachers and other staff on the premise that the district is facing a $712 million budget deficit.

"'How can there be an investment in charter schools, an investment in turnaround schools, an investment in new schools and then a budget deficit?' he says. 'It is questionable at best.'

"CPS board members have already committed to spending $9 million for renovations for Urban Prep Charter School."

Cascade-Down Economics
"While much of the response of the foreclosure crisis has been focused on the negative effects on homeowners, they are far from the only victims," the Regional Home Ownership Preservation Initiative notes.

"Tens of thousands of Chicago region renters have been displaced - sometimes illegally - due to rental buildings going into foreclosure as well. The Lawyers' Committee for Better Housing (LCBH) recently released a report that found that, in 2010, nearly 6,000 apartment buildings went into foreclosure in the City of Chicago, affecting more than 17,000 units. Every week in 2010, 123 apartment buildings went into foreclosure.


"At every stage of the process - whether helping distressed homeowners work with servicers to stay in their homes, helping prospective homebuyers achieve sustainable homeownership, or educating new owners on the advantages and challenges of purchasing foreclosed homes - housing counselors are on the front lines doing difficult and necessary work to minimize the impact of the foreclosure crisis on communities.

"The necessity of their role makes it all the more concerning that the recently-signed FY2011 budget zeroes out funding for HUD-certified housing counseling assistance.


"Now's the time to buy? In Humboldt Park, answer may be yes."

Mostly A Miracle
State Lawmakers Vote To Cut Their Pay Again.

"A lawmaker's base pay is $67,836 a year, but would be $64,717 a year once the 12 furlough days are figured in."

But there's always an idiot around when you need one to spoil an otherwise good story:

"Sen. Annazette Collins, D-Chicago, argued that skimping on lawmaker salaries would discourage some from running for office, particularly candidates that are low income.

"'We want to pretend that we're doing a favor to the public,' said Collins. 'The public doesn't expect us to get paid less money for the job that we do. What they expect us to do is do the very best job that we can do and not say that we should do it free.'

"'To me, this is a mockery,' Collins said, saying that '$65,000 is not a lot to get paid to do a job. Not saying we don't love this job, because I love representing my community, the poor people who cannot be here to be represented.'"

Collins' $65,000 puts her in the top third of income-earners in the United States. The median income for a household in Chicago is $38,625. It's likely considerably less in Collins' state senate district, seen here on a page for predecessor Rickey Hendon.


Previously by Annazette:

"The Illinois State Board of Elections has fined the campaign committee of state Rep. Annazette Collins (D-Chicago) $20,000 and ordered her to apologize for filing political finance reports for the last three years that had showed her raising and spending no money when she actually took in and doled out more than $100,000," the Tribune reported in 2008.

Our Proud Past
"Carter's play involves three modern-day Lane Tech students who explore the Riverview grounds and encounter a ghost from the amusement park's past," John Owens writes for the Tribune. "The play touches on the rumors of racial tensions at the park, which some have cited as the reason behind Riverview's closing in 1967.

"Those tensions were symbolized by one of the controversial attractions at the park - the African Dip, where patrons threw balls at a target in order to dunk an African-American man in a tank of water. The exhibit was closed in the late 1950s amid pressure from leaders in the black community."


"And Riverview owner Bill Schmidt told reporters in 1967 that increased violence and disorder in the park - primarily from bands of teenagers - contributed to its closing."

Our Summer Staycation
Making the best of it right here in Chicago.

Carl's Cubs Mailbag
Cinch it up and strap it down.

About Pete Wentz's Favorite Chicago Bar
A dive on a gritty stretch - if you're from Wilmette.

Paint Job
Read the fine print.


The Beachwood Tip Line: Like walking on egg shell white.


Posted on June 23, 2011

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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