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The [Thursday] Papers

Yes, I have something to say about the Chicago News Cooperative suspending operations. I just haven't finished writing it yet. Please be patient, there's only so much tomfoolery I can get to in a day, a week, a month, a lifetime.

1. If I could just let this column by Curtis Black for the Community Media Watch's Newstips stand in for mine today, I would.

2. "Gov. Pat Quinn's plan to slash $2.7 billion from Medicaid to save a program 'on the brink of collapse' could prove fatal for some Chicago area hospitals that mainly treat the poor and already are struggling to survive amid rock-bottom reimbursement rates and costly federal health care reform," Crain's reports.

A) Pat Quinn is a Democrat.
B) Federal health care reform is costly.

3. "Memorials honoring slain West Side residents are being ordered removed by Ald. Jason Ervin, who says they're not a good look for the community," Austin Talks reports.

Ironically, this is not a good look for Ervin.

4. "Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel's administration is channeling more than $7.3 million in tax increment financing toward a 'bus rapid transit' line downtown, according to his transportation and economic-development spokesmen," WBEZ reports.

And this is TIF reform how?

ALTERNATE: That must be one economically disadvantaged corridor!

"The Chicago Department of Transportation is keeping lips tight about its design of the downtown line, known as both the East-West Transit Corridor and Central Loop BRT."

And this is transparency how?

ALTERNATE: Even when completed, the line will be invisible and off-limits to the public.

5. Secret government pays off for property tax bill.

*

Here's the thing, though: Publicity for proposed legislation shouldn't depend on whether the sponsor seeks it out or not. That's what reporters are for - and that's why it takes a lot of experienced reporters to get the job done; to know where to look and to have the time to do it.

*

That item was via Rich Miller, who also writes in another item about the disingenuousness of Rep. Dan Brady on rising state spending due to pension costs: "The cuts are coming in the state's operating budget, and Rep. Brady knows that. Fortunately for him, most reporters outside of Springfield don't understand the difference. Also, several Republicans announced yesterday that they were vehemently opposed to making local school districts pick up part of their pension costs, so either the Republicans are going to need to spell out even more specific cuts to avoid looking hypocritical, or they'll count on lax reporting. Wanna bet on what they do?"

6. "Mayor Rahm Emanuel's administration boasted Wednesday that it has eliminated the 9,000-pothole backlog the mayor inherited when he took office in mid-May and now is 'keeping pace with daily' requests to fill potholes," the Sun-Times reports.

But I thought Richard M. Daley was the pothole mayor . . .

From the Sun-Times archives:

Feb. 17, 1994: "Daley said 30 crews are plugging about 2,200 potholes a day, and by yearend will have filled 640,000 cavities."

Feb. 21, 1994: "Mayor Daley has enlisted firefighters in his all-out war on potholes.

"Ninety-nine fire engines, each with a five-member crew, cruised city streets Sunday afternoon doing a pothole survey.

"'We're driving slow, looking for anything bigger than 6 inches in diameter,' said Lt. Martin Ciesielczyk of Engine Company 13, as he marked Loop pothole locations on a clipboard.

"The survey results will go to the city Transportation Department, which has 30 crews filling potholes this winter. The pothole repair budget is up 30 percent over last year.

"There have been enough freeze-thaw cycles this winter to produce a bumper crop of potholes. The city is receiving about 105 pothole complaints a day - 10 percent to 15 percent above average."

May 6, 1994: "Fact: Some secondary services, such as pothole repairs, graffiti removal and streetlight replacement, are dispensed as they are requested," Daley himself wrote in a letter to the editor.

Feb. 12, 1995: "The mayor runs the city like a plant manager," Fran Spielman wrote. "He has little time or patience for media badgering, political infighting or indecisive bureaucrats. He would rather order a pothole filled than sit through an entire Council meeting."

April 9, 1995: "Richard M. Daley is known to jot down notes about potholes," Spielman wrote.

July 11, 2001: "Need A City Pothole Fixed? Now Just Point And Click."

May 6, 2005: "City Hall Sets Out Changes For Paving, Pothole Crews

June 14, 2006: "[C]ity crews are filling potholes in two days, instead of 11, thanks to strict controls," Spielman wrote.

February 8, 2008: "The Year Of Potholes - Snowiest winter in 29 years, up-and-down temps make for lots and lots of flat tires."

February 21, 2008: "City Hall has increased the number of pothole crews - from 18 to 27 - to keep pace with a winter that Mayor Daley has called 'the year of potholes,'" Spielman wrote.

"Transportation Department spokesman Brian Steele said roughly 30 seasonal workers normally called back in mid- to late-March for the start of the spring construction season were summoned early last week.

"From Dec. 1 through Feb. 15, city crews filled more than 60,000 potholes. That's up from 36,000 during the same period last year.

"'This has been a near record winter in terms of both snowfall and the number of freeze-thaw cycles, both of which contribute to potholes,' Steele said."

Dec. 28, 2008: "The Chicago Department of Transportation also saw an uptick in reported potholes - going from 200 to 300 reported last weekend to 500 by Christmas Eve, according to spokesman Brian Steele. CDOT has increased the number of pothole crews - to 11 from about five."

*

I didn't bother checking the Tribune or other sources - you get the point.

My guess is that this story was ready to go for a day when the mayor's office wasn't making any other news - Rahm was in Washington, D.C. - and/or as a distraction to the school board vote in line with Rahm's desire to "win" each day's media cycle. "Hey, today would be a good day to put out that pothole story! Give it to Fran."

7. "Civil courtrooms at the Daley Center - part of the nation's second-largest court system - could be closed for security reasons in the days surrounding the NATO and G-8 meetings, officials said Wednesday," the Sun-Times reports.

"The specter of closing the Daley Center's courtrooms was raised as sources disclosed that Chicago Police Supt. Garry McCarthy is talking about seeking 850 reinforcements to assist his officers facing off against possibly tens of thousands of protesters from across the nation and world . . .

"Police spokesperson Melissa Stratton insisted Wednesday the city has not ruled out asking for help from police agencies outside the state. But sources said McCarthy has told associates he hopes to limit his request for help to officers within Illinois.

"Around 250 of those officers could come from the Illinois State Police. The remainder could be comprised of Cook County sheriff's police and officers from suburban and Downstate municipalities.

"Sources told the Sun-Times that McCarthy initially requested the bulk of the 850 reinforcements come from the state police. He was forced to lower his sights after he was told the state police could not spare that many officers and juggle other responsibilities such as patrolling state expressways and tollways."

But wasn't McCarthy the one who recently told everyone to chill?

8. Chi-Town Funk.

9. The Chicago Machine.

10. The New Cubs Way: A Fan's Manual.

11. An Aardvark Was Born At The Brookfield Zoo.

-

The Beachwood Tip Line: Fill in the holes.



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Posted on February 23, 2012


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BOOKS - Why Al-Qaeda Is Still Strong.

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