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The [Thursday] Papers

"The Chicago Public Schools inspector general said Wednesday he is investigating reports that bused protesters were paid to carry signs or read scripts at school closing hearings," the Sun-Times reports.

"News of the probe came as Mayor Rahm Emanuel sloughed off questions about whether the practice was appropriate."

Sloughed off, indeed.

"The ministers have a right - who have been long involved in school reform, longer school day, turnaround schools, who don't accept the status quo - to speak up," Emanuel said Wednesday. "And I'm proud that people are having a discussion about the school system."


"Pressed repeatedly if he had a problem with what critics have called 'rent-a-protesters,' Emanuel said "I'm not speaking [about that]. I'm speaking about the fact that ministers care about their schools and care about their community.'"

Right. But you were asked to speak about paid protesters.

Like these.

Rahm's Chicago: Sit down and shut up - unless we're paying you to stand up and shout.

Rahm's Fine Print
"Chicago cabdrivers have already accused Mayor Rahm Emanuel of changing virtually everything about the taxicab industry except by giving them the thing that matters most to them: a fare increase," the Sun-Times reports.

"Now, they're complaining about being 'disenfranchised' when it comes to their future ability to petition the City Council for higher fares.

"A little-noticed section of the mayor's sweeping overhaul changes the process for granting future fare hikes."

Mayor Transparency strikes again.

"Currently, the City Council's Transportation Committee is compelled to hold a hearing within 60 days whenever cabdrivers file petitions bearing signatures from 10 percent of the city's 14,000 licensed drivers.

"The mayor's ordinance, approved earlier this month, does not compel Chicago aldermen to do anything.

"It simply states that the City Council 'may, from time to time, revise' cab fares and that the Transportation Committee 'may hold a hearing to determine whether' an increase is necessary.

"'We've been disenfranchised. Our ability to petition has been removed. There is no mechanism for getting our issues addressed before the government that regulates us,' said cabdriver Peter Enger, a spokesman for the United Taxidrivers Community Council.

"'Four times in five years, we've gone to the City Council and gotten nothing. But, there's been a hearing. It's a vehicle for getting our issues out and reaching the public. Now, they've removed that. It's grounds for a lawsuit.'

"Jennifer Lipford, a spokeswoman for the city's Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection, insisted that the change was made to make it easier for cabbies to get a fare hike - not more difficult.

"'Under the old ordinance, they could only petition once a year. Now, they can ask for it more often and they don't have to get the signatures. It's easier,' Lipford said."

I would believe that if:

A) The provision Lipford insists is to the great benefit of cab drivers had actually been discussed with them instead of secretly inserted, and

B) Rahm would have ballyooed the provision as one of the stellar aspects of his taxi cab "reform" . . . unless he didn't want the public to know the chances of fares going up had increased thanks to him. In which case he failed the transparency test by secretly setting us up for higher rates.

Either way, Lipford is being disingenuous on behalf of her boss. Just like those paid protesters.

Sick Of Being Sickened
"For Wayne Watson, it sure paid to stay healthy," the BGA reports in conjunction with the Chicago News Cooperative.

"By the time Watson left his job as chancellor of City Colleges of Chicago in 2009, he had accrued around 500 unused sick days over his three-decade career with the community college system.

"While many public and private employers have a 'use-it-or-lose-it' policy on sick time, City Colleges converted Watson's unused days into cash - a whopping $500,000 that's being paid to him in five annual increments, the Better Government Association has learned."

Watson would not comment.

"You're asking me about three years ago and a different institution," he said.

Watson is currently the president of Chicago State University.

"Aside from the $100,000 annually that City Colleges still is paying him for sick time, Watson is receiving nearly $140,000 a year in pension payouts through the State Universities Retirement System and $250,000 a year in salary from Chicago State, according to records and interviews."

Turns out Wayne Watson is a sick man after all.

Keystone Illinois
I didn't realize until I saw a map on TV last night that one part of the controversial Keystone Pipeline would deliver its crude to Illinois. My oversight or has this been sorely missing in local media coverage? Sorely missing, it turns out.

The first sentence of Keystone's Wikipedia entry, in fact, says "The Keystone Pipeline System is a pipeline system to transport synthetic crude oil and diluted bitumen ("dilbit") from the Athabasca Oil Sands in northeastern Alberta, Canada to multiple destinations in the United States, which include refineries in Illinois, Cushing oil distribution hub in Oklahoma, and proposed connections to refineries along the Gulf Coast of Texas."

For some reason I was under the impression the pipeline just went to, like, Houston.

But no, part of it goes to Wood River and Patoka downstate.

According to the ProQuest database, neither the Tribune nor the Sun-Times has published a story with the keywords "Patoka" and "Keystone."

I realize Southern Illinois isn't part of the market for even the Tribune anymore, which long ago withdrew from its mission to be the paper of the Midwest and instead enjoys being the paper of the Chicagoland suburbs with the proper demographics, but you'd think given the national debate over Keystone . . . well, I guess you wouldn't think anything anymore.

Then again, the Evansville Courier & Press of Indiana published a piece about Keystone as far back as 2009 that opened with "By early next year, hundreds of thousands of barrels a day of Canadian crude oil will flow into a giant tank farm in Southern Illinois."

Evansville is 275 miles away from Patoka - as is Chicago.

Obama's Gerrymander
He wanted to represent the rich, not poor blacks.

Chicago After People
Horto everywhere.

Pumped Up Kicks
Grandpa Tribune better run.

Words From Chicago's Cipher
Louder than a bomb.


The Beachwood Tip Line: Rent-free.


Posted on January 26, 2012

MUSIC - Madonna vs. Moderna.
TV - Sundays With The Military-Industrial Complex.
POLITICS - Private Equity In The ER.
SPORTS - Suspicious Betting Trends In Soccer.

BOOKS - China Holding Swedish Publisher.


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