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The [Thursday] Papers

"For one night at least, President Bush drew more TV viewers than American Idol," the Tribune reports.

Which just confirms viewers are tuning in to see people making fools of themselves.

Affirmative Action
As explained by Mary Mitchell this morning in a column about Lovie Smith and Tony Dungy, affirmative action and diversity programs - run right - have nothing to do with hiring and promoting people who are unqualified to do their jobs. That's what patronage machines are for.

Affirmative action is about overcoming still ever-present barriers to give everyone - everyone - the fair shot they deserve.

It's a well-observed fact of the sports world, for example, that the same white coaches and managers always seem to find jobs, often despite records of failure, while minorities are often given only token consideration at best.

As referenced by Mitchell, the "Rooney Rule"in the NFL requires teams with head coaching vacancies to interview at least one minority. And you know what? It's not as if there is only one decent minority candidate for each vacancy.

Affirmative action/diversity programs are also supposed to find strong job candidates who have the ability to be trained up into jobs if only they hadn't been denied the chances somewhere along the way that others of similar talent received.

Which isn't to say that all businesses and organizations understand how this is supposed to work. All too often, affirmative action/diversity is instead used as window dressing, which does nothing but harm in creating white resentment and minority insecurity.

And the palpability of white resentment only goes to show how much farther we have to go. When I was in the Tribune's reporting residency program in 1993-1994, I can't tell you how many people told me that if I was only a black woman I would have been hired on permanently for sure. I never quite understood that - looking at the paper's hires, they were almost all white, and probably half male. And most of them weren't even that good. But when a minority was hired, the grumbling started in, usually among whites whose own skills were mediocre at best.

At the same time, diversity won't work if we continue to entomb a disproportionately minority underclass whose men wind up in prison or on the streets at alarming rates. Affirmative action starts at birth. Is there any child who does not deserve a gold standard education and blue ribbon health care? Economic opportunity starts at home - but not just with parents.

Finally, I get a kick out of the corporate world's embrace of diversity in recent years. Management consultants, business schools, and corporate executives now preach that diversity is good for business. It can, for example, expand your customer base if you have employees who reflect the communities you operate in, and help bring useful perspectives that can help create new products and markets.

But what if diversity was bad for business? What would business leaders - and shareholders - say then? Too bad, we're staying white?

Good-for-business strikes me as a happy by-product of diversity, but not a reason to pursue it.

Opening up opportunities and actively recruiting non-traditional talent is just the right thing to do. And thanks to some other people who thought so too, as Mary Mitchell writes, Lovie Smith and Tony Dungy are in the Super Bowl.

Teen Scream
So the Tribune's campaign against teenagers has come to this: a state proposal to allow drivers under 18 only one unrelated teen passenger in their car for a driver's first year? That's absurd. This from the same Baby Boomer editors pining for the days of old-fashioned cruising?

Imagine my shock to learn that such a law is already on the books applying to a driver's first six months.

And a curfew? What is this, Footloose? Why don't we just make them stay in their room until they're 18 and we send them off to war?

The Tribune's teen driving series is no doubt borne of the best intentions, and it's always heartbreaking to read of young lives being snuffed out in stupid car accidents. But as Tribune editor Ann Marie Lipinski noted herself in the paper's special teen driving section a few weeks ago, teen driving deaths are not an upward trend.

"During this year of coverage, at least 59 teenagers lost their lives in Chicago-area automobile crashes, our community's pained contribution to a national toll averaging 5,600 teens each year," Lipinski wrote. "That number has remained stubbornly fixed for more than a decade, as each new class of young drivers confronts the same perils with no more safeguards or preparation than we gave the class that came before."

Certainly we would all like to see those numbers go down. But despite this series and the articles about how teenage brains are unevolved, I'm not convinced this is particularly a teen problem.

Teen Tune
On a side note, the Tribune reportedly will also push for legislation prohibiting teenage drivers from listening to emo in their cars until they turn 18.

Obama (D-Daley)
Barack Obama, who shares media advisor David Axelrod and brother Bill with Mayor Daley, says Chicago is a well-managed city. Rev. Jesse Jackson begs to differ.

"Rev. Jesse Jackson said Tuesday he's not willing to endorse any of the mayoral candidates, but the facts of Daley's record must be made clear. Jackson said voters need to take a hard look at Daley's service as State's Attorney and the Jon Burge torture situation, City Hall corruption and the economics of the Black community during his administration," the Defender reports."

"Daley's record is not commendable. The abuses of his administration are substantial," Jackson said.

More anti-Obama - or really, when you get down to it, anti-hype - letters in the Tribune today. Choice excerpts:

* "U.S. Sen. Barack Obama's actions during the past weeks are beginning to look like he is alliance-building, controlling his press and manipulating the expectations of the voters," writes Patrick Donnell of Chicago. "In other words, he is a politician seeking election, not the leader many (including me) hope he is."

* Gregg Dudosh of Palos Hills answers the recent Tribune headline, "What Obama Must Do To Win." "Get some real experience, first!"

* Heather R. McDonald of Homewood is "sick and tired of the steady diet being fed to us daily by the media . . . Time for a new flavor of the week, don't you think?"

* Kevin B. Kamen writes all the way from Baldwin, N.Y. to say "This fine young man should pause and work toward becoming an effective senator before he permits himself to stumble at the hands of a desperate Democratic Party."

* Steve Lennart of Warrenville asks, "Has Barack Obama done anything during his two years in the Senate other than write books and talk to Oprah?"

* And Wayne Capinegro of Chicago has been praying to Saint Obama about his prostate to no avail.

It Takes a Village
"One of Chicago's most active builders, requesting anonymity for fear of riling City Hall, said anybody who takes on the [Olympic] housing project will be lucky to break even," David Roeder reports.

"I can just see how this will work. You get cost overruns and the developer has to eat them.

"Yeah," he said derisively, "that sounds like the sort of deal for us."

It Takes a Tyrant
"Ald. Toni Preckwinkle (4th) said she got only a few hours' warning before Daley shifted the Olympic stadium to Washington Park, which is partially in her ward. And she was left in the dark about the proposed $1.1 billion Olympic Village, which would be in her ward," Fran Spielman reports.

"But this is the way they operate," Preckwinkle said.

And by "they" she meant "the mayor."

That's why I found the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committeee vote on Wednesday so amazing; I had forgotten what it was like to live in a country with a legislative branch. Now I just live in a city that doesn't have one.

It Takes An Idiot
The "colorful rhetoric" the Tribune says Ald. Burt Natarus is known for might otherwise be called "nonsense."

But Burt tells the paper he knows some people think he's a buffoon. Or is he really a fox?

"Natarus' name surfaced in 2004 in the corruption trial of insurance executive Michael Segal when a witness testified that Segal's firm provided the alderman with loans in the $125,00-to-$150,000 range," the Trib account says.

"Natarus said the money was for his legal services. He has the documentation for the fees 'and I paid taxes on it,' he said."

So Natarus was simply performing undefined legal services for a political supporter who did a ton of business in his ward? I'm not sure Natarus's explanation isn't worse than the original alleged impropriety.

Incomplete Grade
A spokeswoman for Rod Blagojevich said that documents purporting to show "the governor's office repeatedly steered state jobs to favored applicants" were "one-sided and incomplete," the Sun-Times's Dave McKinney reports.

That's also how she described a phone call between McKinney and a man named in the documents who was hired after contributing to Blago's campaign.

"Can you hold on a second?" the man said to McKinney. He never returned to the phone.

The Beachwood Tip Line: One-sided but complete.


Posted on January 25, 2007

MUSIC - Who's Next In Chicago Rap.
TV - Tribune-Nexstar Deal Is Bad News.
POLITICS - Big Soda Hates You.
SPORTS - Harold vs. the Haters.

BOOKS - Wright Brothers, Wrong Story!

PEOPLE PLACES & THINGS - Go Ahead, Eat Raw Cookie Dough!

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