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The [Thursday] Papers

"A controversial proposal to build a hotel and a new DePaul arena near McCormick Place with public money was approved [Wednesday] before many aldermen even knew they voted for it," Phil Ponce said last night on Chicago Tonight.

How is that even possible? he asked.

Chicagoland!

No, but seriously, here's CT correspondent Paris Schutz's extraordinary explanation:

"Some aldermen at this moment may not be aware they actually voted for this. It passed using a super-stealth parliamentary maneuver literally when nobody was looking. There was no debate, there was no actual out-loud roll call. Before anyone knew what happened, it was all over . . . A handful of aldermen later discovered it was passed."

I wonder if our other local news organizations know it passed, because I couldn't find the story on either the Tribune's website or the Sun-Times's website. DNAinfo Chicago didn't have it, and none of the local TV stations appears to have it.

This is one of the most controversial proposals of Rahm Emanuel's mayoralty. It was snuck through "literally when nobody was looking."

That sounds like blockbuster news to me.

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Additionally, it merits comment (again) that our elected officials view democracy as a hassle that unnecessarily constrains them from simply doing what they want. In this sense, you can see that the impulses of people like Rahm Emanuel - and Richard M. Daley before him and Michael Madigan still - are quiet similar to the impulses of the Vladimir Putins of the world. If Rahm Emanuel had grown up in Russia, he'd probably be Putin. Just read this interview.

That may seem like rhetorical overreach, but think about it. We're all human and we become socialized into the culture we are born into. The badly flawed founding fathers of America sought to create a government of checks and balances that would rein in the impulses of those driven (by whatever motive) to lead. One of those checks and balances is a legislative branch. In Chicago, that branch obviously has been "captured."

But has the media, too?

Obviously not in all cases. See today's Rahm's Chicagoland Response Requires Suspension Of Disbelief.

But note also this passage:

"Let me tell you something: It's not about whether the conduct by his staff was appropriate. Of course it wasn't. But his staff doesn't conduct itself that way except at the behest of the mayor. The more pertinent question is about his involvement and what marching orders he gave to his aides.

"The more pertinent question is whether he thinks that manipulating an international news agency to present a distorted picture that doesn't align with the facts is the sort of thing a public official should do in America, as opposed to, say, Russia or China or North Korea."

Rahm Emanuel may truly be driven by what he thinks is the right thing to do. I doubt that, because the record shows otherwise. But let's say he is. Getting elected isn't supposed to simply clear the way for him to therefore work his will; it gives him the right to pursue an agenda and be the city's top decision-maker within the framework of a system of governance that includes legislative and judicial branches, as well as, yes, a fourth "estate" of independent journalism to critically observe the system from the outside.

It may seem silly or odd that I keep trying to give basic civics lessons here; surely everyone already knows this. Surely "preaching" isn't going to help.

But I'm not convinced everyone does know this. I'm not convinced that Rahm Emanuel or Richard M. Daley or Michael Madigan ever stop and think about democracy and their own role in it and how their behavior is counter to our country's core (on paper) values.

Mostly, I think the media forgets it as it gets caught up in the daily drama, gossip and theater of our political life. In part, that's by design; folks like Rahm plan on which days to "break" news in order to distract the media from that which they would rather not see get scrutiny.

But it's up to the media to combat such manipulation, not become co-dependent on it.

After all, if the media doesn't take its responsibilities seriously, no one will take the media seriously - most of all, people like Rahm Emanuel.

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"A longtime ally of House Speaker Michael Madigan is trying to thwart efforts to ask voters whether to impose term limits on lawmakers and curb some of the politics in drawing new legislative district boundaries before the two proposed constitutional amendments have even landed on the ballot," the Tribune reports.

Michael Madigan is the chairman of the state Democratic Party.

*

"The Chicago City Council today filled the November general election ballot with enough referendums to prevent any citizen questions from being placed on all ballots in the city," the Tribune reports.

"Aldermen voted to place three questions on the Nov. 4 ballot - the limit for questions to be asked of voters in all the city's precincts - just as they have done in previous elections.

"That effectively prevents citizens from gathering enough petition signatures to place on the ballot other questions, such as whether the Chicago Public Schools Board of Trustees should be elected instead of appointed by the mayor - a question that Mayor Rahm Emanuel opposes."

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Obama Averages 1 Fundraiser Every 5 Days
But he wants you to pay for his library.

Rahm's Chicagoland Response Requires Suspension Of Disbelief
Stage-managing 'til the end.

Revenge Of The Mekons, The Pogues & Veruca Salt
Plus: The greatest thing since punk rock according to Steve Albini. In Local Music Notebook.

The Taco Bell Death Star
Plus: At least the eating at The Cell is competitive. In Random Food Report.

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The [Wednesday] Papers
Posted relatively late yesterday, so here's the link.

And just as a reminder, here's the Papers archive.

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I just think violations of democracy are big news. That's also why I think FOIA fights out to be not only fought about to the fullest by news organizations, but reported on. Not complying with FOIA is breaking one of our nation's most vital laws. Why isn't that huge news?

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BeachBook
* U.S. Report Offers Grim Portrait Of Afghanistan's Future.

* Facebook Is Throttling Nonprofits And Activists.

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TweetWood

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Uncovered.



Permalink

Posted on May 1, 2014


MUSIC - The Weekend In Chicago Rock.
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POLITICS - Filing: Walmart CEO Made $22.4 Million Last Year.
SPORTS - Teens Still Underreporting Concussions.

BOOKS - America, We Need To Talk.

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


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