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The [Thursday] Papers

"Four of the 12 Chicago aldermen running in the April 17 runoff employ relatives or other loved ones on their publicly funded ward staffs, costing taxpayers more than $400,000 a year," Allison Riggio and Hunter Clauss report today in a piece jointly published by and the Beachwood.

The aldermen quotes are priceless.

* "That's just something that people always have done," Ald. Madeline Haithcock (2nd) told Riggio and Clauss. "Almost everybody has a relative on their staff. I have a daughter and have my husband that is watching my back on the West Side."

Haithcock has both her husband and daughter on her (public) payroll.

"Combined with the alderman's $98,125 annual salary, the Haithcock family is on track to gross $212,521 in taxpayer money this year," Riggio and Clauss report.

*"So I'm guilty of nepotism, how about that?" said Bernie Stone (50th). Rumor has it Stone intends to retire soon and, if re-elected, hand over his seat to his daughter, whom he has employed for 12 years.

* "Over on the West Side in the 35th Ward, Ald. Colón pays his fiancé, Martha Ramos, $73,968 to be his chief of staff," Riggio and Clauss report. "Before being elected four years ago, Colón believed hiring relatives created a 'layer of unprofessionalism,' but now that he's an alderman Colón said he needs a staff he can trust.

"'First, I was outside throwing stones; now I'm inside the house,' he said."

Read the whole thing.

Imus Ignorami
Memo to pundits: If gangsta culture never existed, Imus would still be making nigger jokes. The jokes predate the culture by, oh, at least a few hundred years. And Imus has been at it an awfully long time.

In fact, public figures (mostly from the media) who now say they won't appear on the show are displaying supreme cowardice, not bravery. The punditry had no problem appearing on the show for fun and games when it was a boon to their careers, and now they have no problem bailing when it could hurt their careers. Standing on principle means nothing unless you're willing to do it when it comes with sacrifice.

Politically Correct
It's also not a case, as many have stated, of changing standards of what kind of speech is "allowed." It was never okay to make racist jokes. It's just harder to get away with it now. That's progress. The next step is teaching some of these people why their thinking is backwards, not just that they shouldn't say offensive things. The real problem is the mindset behind the words, not being impolite.

Class Prejudice
It's nice to see folks like the Tribune editorial page commend the Rutgers women's basketball team for their scholastic and athletic achievements, but it only makes me wonder if there would be as much outrage if Imus had used the same language to describe poor inner-city blacks without any of the skills and advantages of the Rutgers women. It would have been just as wrong, but I have a feeling the suddenly enlightened punditry would still be chuckling at their pal's wit and scheduling their next appearances.

Relative Imusism
As long as we're on the subject, writes Tim Willette . . .

"The Bush administration is quietly remaking the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division, filling the permanent ranks with lawyers who have strong conservative credentials but little experience in civil rights, according to job application materials obtained by the [Boston] Globe . . .

"Hires with traditional civil rights backgrounds - either civil rights litigators or members of civil rights groups - have plunged. Only 19 of the 45 lawyers hired since 2003 in those three sections were experienced in civil rights law, and of those, nine gained their experience either by defending employers against discrimination lawsuits or by fighting against race-conscious policies."

So It Goes
* "There is a tragic flaw in our precious Constitution, and I don't know what can be done to fix it. This is it: Only nut cases want to be president."

- Kurt Vonnegut, "Cold Turkey," In These Times, 5/10/04

* "To Vonnegut, the only possible redemption for the apprent meaninglessness of existence was human kindness."

- Dinitia Smith, "Kurt Vonnegut, Novelist Who Caught the Imagination of His Age, Is Dead at 84," New York Times, 4/12/07

* "And another thing, Vonnegut! I'm gonna stop payment on the check! Fuck me? Hey, Kurt, can you read lips? Fuck you! Next time I'll call Robert Ludlum!"

- Thornton Mellon, Back to School, 1986

Olympic Tax
The state is putting skin in the game too. Though the governor's word isn't exactly bankable currency.

Olympic Speech
"BEIJING (AP) - Along with spitting, run-down housing and bad manners, add unintelligible English to the list of things organizers of the 2008 Beijing Olympics want to ban."

Do you think Daley will follow suit?

- Tim Willette

Cubs Scrubbed
The Cubs game was snowed out. Beer sales were still strong at a sold-out Wrigley, though.

City Survey
Daley owns the incumbents and the challengers.

* ESPN chooses the nuclear option.

* "Evolution Not Proved, Pope Says." Also dismisses Christianity as "just a theory."

* Sun-Times editorial cartoonist Jack Higgins is the billionth person in his profession to depict Al Gore on a cold day - in this case, in a Hawaiian shirt at Wrigley Field surrounded by snowmen fans - and cast doubt on global warming because snow hasn't become extinct. You might as well draw a picture of yourself jumping out a window and capture the millisecond in which gravity doesn't seem to exist.

* Robert Novak tries to discern a difference between "covert" and "undercover" in a continuing effort to avoid admitting he was wrong about the Valerie Plame case. "The criminal statute refers only to 'covert' employees," he writes. "Undercover" is a different matter, he says, without explanation. You know, the statute isn't a thesaurus; it doesn't use the word "secret" either, nor does it say "agents who might very well be killed if their true identity is revealed," but that doesn't' make it any less true.

"Stay the course? You've got to be kidding. This is America, not the damned Titanic. I'll give you a sound bite: Throw the bums out!

"You might think I'm getting senile, that I've gone off my rocker, and maybe I have. But someone has to speak up. I hardly recognize this country anymore. The President of the United States is given a free pass to ignore the Constitution, tap our phones, and lead us to war on a pack of lies. Congress responds to record deficits by passing a huge tax cut for the wealthy (thanks, but I don't need it). The most famous business leaders are not the innovators but the guys in handcuffs. While we're fiddling in Iraq, the Middle East is burning and nobody seems to know what to do. And the press is waving pom-poms instead of asking hard questions. That's not the promise of America my parents and yours traveled across the ocean for. I've had enough. How about you?"

- Where Have All the Leaders Gone?, by Lee Iacocca with Catherine Whitney

Power Ratings
"The invitation extended to Vice President Dick Cheney to be the commencement speaker at Brigham Young University has set off a rare, continuing protest at the Mormon university, one of the nation's most conservative," The New York Times reports.

"[But] David Lassen, 23, the chairman of the B.Y.U. College Republicans, said he hoped to present the vice president with petitions of support for his appearance on campus, signed by about 2,000 students and alumni.

"'We're excited for the world to see what B.Y.U. really is,' Mr. Lassen said. 'No matter what you think of Cheney, he's easily the most powerful man in the world.'"

- Last two items submitted by Tim Willette

The Beachwood Tip Line: Tipline of Champions.


Posted on April 12, 2007

MUSIC - Holiday Hullabaloo.
POLITICS - Bank Profits Soaring.
SPORTS - Chicago vs. Michigan, 1903.

BOOKS - Dia De Los Muertos Stories.

PEOPLE PLACES & THINGS - Chicagoetry: West Town Blues.

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