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The [Thursday] Papers

"In an interview with The Associated Press, [Secretary of State Jesse] White said it would be 'a cheap shot' for Republicans to raise the issue when he runs again in two years," AP reports.

You mean like the time this happened?

"Secretary of State Jesse White tried to nail his opponent for allegedly using a county vehicle to do campaign work Friday but his charges blew up in his face when she accused him of using state employees to spy on her," the Sun-Times reported in October 2002.

"The exchange occurred at the Friday taping of a radio debate between White and Kristine O'Rourke Cohn, the Republican county executive of Winnebago County. First, Cohn accused White of accepting political donations from secretary of state's office employees.

"White shot back, accusing Cohn of using her county car for political work. 'I've seen you at many events driving around in a county car . . . I raised the issue and we ran the plates and it was your car and you were driving it, or you were in the car.'

"After the debate ended, Cohn demanded to know who had looked up her license plate number and whether that person was a state worker."

Would it be a cheap shot to then point out how White tried to backtrack?

"White said he had misspoken and that he and his workers had never run Cohn's license plate number. He said it was clear that it was a government car because it had plates designated for government use."

But a couple weeks later the Sun-Times reported that "Three employees in Secretary of State Jesse White's office improperly pulled up the driving record of White 's election opponent and checked one of her license plate numbers."

To be fair, the inspector general doing that investigation found that the employees acted alone. And by "to be fair," I mean White was smart enough to not leave any evidence whatsoever that he or anyone associated with his campaign actually directed those employees to run his opponents' plates. They just sort of knew, and somehow what they found filtered up to him.

Now, it's not like that's the worst thing a pol has done in this state. Or the worst ethics jam White has found himself in. It's just the funnest. After all, when it comes to cheap shots, it takes a real cheap shot artist to get it right.

But don't be distracted. That's what White wants.

"He said voters should judge him on his performance as secretary of state, not his role as a ward committeeman on Chicago's West Side," AP reports.

"But that performance includes White's decision to give Smith a state job in 2006, which eventually paid $88,000 a year, after the city of Chicago fired him amid allegations of misusing city equipment and employees from a state-financed program. White, speaking to the AP in his Statehouse office, said he didn't know about Smith's past, despite stories about it at the time in the Chicago Sun-Times."

Look, when you're as integral to the Machine as White is, you aren't oblivious to how guys you sent lost their jobs. Even taking White at his word - just for temporary pure folly - makes one wonder how he could seat a state representative without knowing why he got fired for the city. So it doesn't work either way, Jesse.

Would it be a cheap shot to hold against you just how much you are insulting our intelligence?


Those Sun-Times stories AP speaks of:

"A West Side ward superintendent is under investigation by the city's inspector general for allegedly using city equipment and personnel to do private landscaping work and abusing state-financed Earnfare workers to lighten the load of city employees," the paper reported on March 31, 2005.


"A West Side ward superintendent who grew up at Cabrini-Green with Ald. Walter Burnett (27th) has been fired from his $72,528-a-year job amid allegations he used city equipment and personnel to do private landscaping work and improperly used state-financed Earnfare workers to lighten the load of city employees," the paper reported on June 28, 2005.

"Streets and Sanitation spokesman Matt Smith refused to explain why Derrick Smith had been fired or why Millie Dell - a $24.62-an-hour acting refuse coordinator working under Derrick Smith - had been placed on administrative leave pending further disciplinary action.

"Derrick Smith and Millie Dell both serve as precinct captains in the 27th Ward Regular Democratic Organization run by Burnett and Committeeman Jesse White."


"Four more Streets and Sanitation employees have been fired and another has resigned in a 27th Ward housecleaning triggered by allegations that non-government employees were allowed to operate city equipment and collect city refuse to lighten the load of city workers," the paper reported on July 14, 2005.

"The fired employees were identified as $50,224-a-year laborer Jerlene Sutton; seasonal laborers Tony Benson and Regina Bailey, each paid $50,224 a year, and seasonal motor truck driver Ray Ballentine, whose annual salary was $52,836. Jacqueline Ratliffe, another $50,224-a-year laborer, resigned.

"The new wave of disciplinary actions brings to seven the number of employees swept out of the 27th Ward sanitation office in recent weeks. The Chicago Sun-Times reported last month that the 27th Ward's $72,528-a-year sanitation superintendent, Derrick Smith, and Millie Dell, the West Side ward's $24.62-an-hour acting refuse collection coordinator, had been forced out as a result of the investigation."


In 2006, White gave Smith a state job. In 2011, White helped clout Smith into a vacant state senate seat.

"An administrator with the Illinois secretary of state's office was picked Thursday to fill an open state House seat on the West Side," the Tribune reported on March 25, 2011.

"Democratic leaders chose Derrick Smith to fill the spot vacated by Annazette Collins, who was appointed to the state Senate this month following the abrupt resignation of Sen. Rickey Hendon."

(If this was Con Air, Cameron Poe would say that at least Smith was on the right flight, given that lineage.)

"Secretary of State Jesse White led the panel that picked Smith, but White downplayed that connection. 'He has a long history of doing precinct work and running for office, and he's an honest, stand-up kind of a guy,' White said."

Plant Slant
Mayor Rahm Emanuel placed a story in the willing-to-play-ball New York Times today to build momentum for an uncritical media narrative at home while building a national profile for his future.

Now he's got a one-day lead on coverage of a topic already introduced into the media bloodstream last month and tomorrow he'll get another day's worth.


See also the item "A Matter of Trust" here and you'll understand why "advance text was made available" to Greg Hinz of Crain's.


UPDATE 12:22 P.M.: From the Tribune this morning:

"Emanuel's speech does not mention any new sources of funding for the work.

"It does mention the Chicago Infrastructure Trust, a plan he proposed to use private investment funds to rebuild infrastructure. But the speech offers no particular projects other than a move to improve energy efficiency at city buildings that he already put forward."

From the Sun-Times this morning:

"Emanuel is giving his infrastructure program a name - 'Building a New Chicago' - and a price tag of $7.2 billion over the next three years.

"In reality, it's largely political packaging by a new administration that's fast become famous for it.

"Most, if not all, of the water, sewer, parks, schools and CTA projects have been announced before. So has the $1.7 billion 'infrastructure trust' he hopes to use to bankroll some of the projects."

Blago Bait
"A former chief of staff for Rod Blagojevich who provided crucial assistance to investigators was sentenced Wednesday to a mere 10 days in prison by a federal judge who reserved his harshest comments instead for the former governor, suggesting he was an impossible boss and pointing out some had even questioned his mental stability," Annie Sweeney writes for the Tribune.

"The sentence for John Harris was in stunning contrast to the crushing 14-year term Blagojevich began serving earlier this month in a federal prison in Colorado. In fact, Blagojevich has already spent more time in prison than Harris will."

Artful Dodger
"Mark Walter, a successful but very low-profile Chicago financial executive, is a Chicago Cubs season ticket holder," the Tribune reports. "And as of late Tuesday night, he is also set to be the controlling owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers.

"Walter, an Iowa native who is chief executive of a Chicago and New York-based financial colossus called Guggenheim Partners, emerged as the leader of the group that won the Dodgers at auction for $2.15 billion, a record price for a sports franchise."

Walter is a bit of a mystery man, though.

"When the Tribune on Wednesday queried more than three dozen of Chicago's elite bankers, investors and power brokers, none claimed to know Walter well. Most had never met him."


"A source close to Walter said he still plans to keep his season tickets for the Cubs, but will soon find a residence in Los Angeles," Reuters reports. "'Mark views this as a long-term investment in the tradition of baseball and something his daughter's daughter may one day enjoy,' said one person who knows him."

Chicago Way University
"[A]fter drawing a retirement package worth nearly $800,000 when he left the City Colleges, plus a $140,000 annual pension, [Wayne Watson is] also drawing a $250,000 salary at Chicago State University - all of it on the taxpayers' dime," CBS2 Chicago and the Better Government Association report.

"The BGA discovered Watson walked away from his post as chancellor of the City Colleges of Chicago with a huge taxpayer-funded compensation package."

And just like Mark Walter's granddaughter, Watson didn't exactly earn it.

"During the ten years of Watson's tenure, the graduation rate at City Colleges slid from 13 percent to 7 percent."

So naturally Chicago State hired Watson to do the same for them.

"He's earning a $250,000 salary there as well, and living in a house on the hill in Beverly, rent-free, paid for by the university.

"'It's like no one in these education institutions has any respect for taxpayers,' [BGA president Andy] Shaw said."

For more on that, see "Michael Hogan's Mysterious Entrance And Golden Exit."


My favorite part of the Watson story:

"A representative for Watson said, 'He's not going to talk to you. He's not done anything illegal. Dr. Watson is not going on TV to defend his morality.'"

That's not the kind of discussion an academic has!


Watson's message to the world:

"It is our tradition to graduate responsible effective leaders of social change and citizens ready to contribute to society equipped with the solid foundation of values and principles taught at CSU."


"The BGA also said Watson is getting a sweet lifetime health plan from the City Colleges."


"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," the BGA previously reported.

"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."



"Chicago State University has been unable to locate $3.8 million worth of equipment, including 950 computers that could contain confidential information, according to a state audit," AP reported last week.

Academic Exercise
* Meet Columbia College president Warrick Carter.
* Meet Roosevelt University president Charles Middleton.

Student Loan Excercise
* Meet America's trillion-dollar student loan debt.
* Meet America's Debt Collector-in-Chief.

Remember Earl Scruggs in Chicago
From recording at WBBM to appearing at the Old Town School of Folk Music.


The Beachwood Tip Line: Pickin', grinnin'.


Posted on March 29, 2012

MUSIC - Lyric Opera Strike Settled.
POLITICS - USA Today's Op-Ed Disaster.
SPORTS - SportsMonday: Come On, Vic!

BOOKS - Chicago Book Haul: The Dial.

PEOPLE PLACES & THINGS - Chicagoetry: West Town Blues.

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