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The [Thursday] Papers

"Who started the bar fight that landed three Chicago cops in jail?" the Sun-Times asks at the beginning of its news report about an incident last December at the Jefferson Tap & Grille in the West Loop.

Three of six officers allegedly involved in the fight with other bar patrons have been charged and appeared in court on Wednesday. Revelations of the scrap, coming on the heels of the internationally televised surveillance video of a separate incident involving an off-duty Chicago police officer beating up petite female bartender, led to the announcement that police chief Phil Cline would retire/resign later this year. Cline has acknowledged he was slow to act in the Jefferson Tap case.

"Sources close to the cops claim a drunken patron poked fun at one of the officers, Paul Powers, for crying over his dad's death," the Sun-Times account says.

"But at their bond hearing Wednesday, prosecutors countered that 'in interviews and grand jury testimony, not a single witness among the victims, bar personnel and other uncharged officers has stated that the victims taunted or mocked the defendant officers."

Attorneys for the officers charged in the case, however, "say they have witnesses who say the alleged victims attacked the officers," the Tribune reports. One of those attorneys says the victims "were drunk and belligerent and made fun of Powers."

Another attorney representing a police officer in the case said "This is a case where the victims were the instigators."

Lost in the frame of who started the fight is the idea that police officers in a bar should know better than to be goaded into violence - if that even happened - and to respond so aggressively as to pummel other patrons, evade filing a police report, and wave off other officers arriving at the scene.

The Sun-Times headline pretty much says it all: "Police Officers Defense: They Started It."

Even if that turns out to be true - and the evidence gathered so far by prosecutors probably not eager to go after police officers says it's not - that's the kind of defense parents don't accept from their eight-year-olds, much less what judges and juries are likely to accept from law officers.

Torch Bearers
As much as I've been a critic of the way the city has conducted its Olympic effort, I've always thought the torch logo was pretty cool - even if, as my Beachwood associate Tim Willette has pointed out, it appears to show a city on fire.

Now it turns out the city violated the rules (big surprise!) of Olympic logo design because certain elements like torches and rings are off-limits; it's back to the drawing board.

The Tribune reports this morning that new suggestions are pouring in including "How about a big cookie jar with a hand sticking in it?"

Whet Moser of the Reader is also on the case.

Bird Bath
"West Nile virus has prompted a long-term crash in the population of bluebirds, crows and other bird species that once dominated the suburban landscape," the Tribune reports, citing a new national study.

Among the birds affected: the Blue Jay, the Chickadee, the Tufted Titmouse, and the Crow.

Defending Daley - Twice!
* "Fifty million dollars for after-school tutoring to produce only negligible gains was money 'well spent' by the Chicago Public Schools, Mayor Daley said Wednesday, arguing that 'you can't do miracles in one year,'" the Sun-Times reports.

At least in theory, I have to agree. Now, this being Chicago, maybe a lot of that money was wasted, maybe the wrong firms were contracted, maybe the methods weren't sound. But in general, I find it hard to believe that $50 million in after-school tutoring wasn't beneficial to a whole lot of kids, regardless of what test scores show.

* "This is the first time ever in the history of Illinois that the business community has ever come together and said, 'We'd like to increase the income tax," Daley said yesterday. "So listen to their voice. They want a better education system."

I don't know if that's true, but a governor who so badly wants to make a mark is really blowing his chance. He should make the deal even if that means breaking a campaign promise, because conditions have changed. And it was a bad promise to begin with. He could just say he was wrong.

Sweet Obama
* Lynn Sweet calls out Barack Obama today for his explanation on This Week on Sunday about why he asked Tony Rezko to help him buy his $1.65 million home.

* In the same column, Lynn Sweet calls out Barack Obama for his disengenuous portrayal on the same show of his relationship with lobbyists while in Springfield - as well as in his presidential campaign.

* And finally, Lynn Sweet calls out Michelle Obama for taking a page from her husband's playbook and trying to keep her fundraisers a secret.

Those are big-dollar fundraisers with special interests and the usual moneyed Establishment that run counter to the fundraising e-mail solicitations the Obama campaign continues to send out portraying its campaign as a grass-roots exercise against the cynicism of campaigns funded by special interests and the usual moneyed Establishment.

Hedge Wedge
Democratic presidential contender John Edwards has been taking some flack for earning almost half a million dollars in consulting fees working part-time for a hedge fund last year. Edwards has defended the deal by saying he wanted to learn about the relationship between hedge funds and poverty. And now he knows: Work for a hedge fund and you won't be poor.

Captain Kirk (D-Ill.)
"[Karl] Rove last week telephoned Rep. Mark Kirk of Illinois to dress him down for allegedly giving the media an account of a private meeting at the White House in which Kirk and other moderate Republicans complained to Bush about his Iraq war policy," Robert Novak writes today.

Novak says that Kirk told a colleague: "That's not the first time I got blamed for doing what Ray LaHood (a garrulous fellow Illinois Republican House member) did,"

Tamron's Toots
Looks like that boob job paid off. Fox 32 morning news personality Tamron Hall is leaving for, gulp, MSNBC, the Sun-Times's Robert Feder reports. We don't care much about Hall's breast implants here at Beachwood HQ, but you might recall her insistence last November that she's a "news journalist" who is "in the grind" breaking stories every day. Then she appeared in an episode of Fashion House.

At least she inspired one of our better Beachwood Christmas carols last year.

Rattling Radler
David Radler may have been effectively portrayed as a liar and a cheat, but I'm not sure that will help Conrad Black's case much. First, Black still got the dirty money alleged in the case. That's the bottom line. He got the money and he knew where it came from. Second, Radler the scumbag, as portrayed by Black's lawyer, was Black's partner and deputy for umpteen years. Radler's flaws rub off on Black. Finally, the negligence, purposefully or not, of audit committee chairman Jim Thompson only adds to the mix that these guys were unscrupulously ripping off the company.

But it's fun to see Radler squirm.

That's Stella!
Stella Foster is in favor of the death penalty for Juan Luna in the Brown's Chicken murder case even though several relatives of the victims are not.

"Luna, spending a life in jail, still will be able to get three squares a day, lift weights in the gym, get yard time playing basketball or whatever, read mags and possibly still have a sex life . . .maybe not the one he would want . . . but still, a sex life!"

Methinks the lady doth protest too much.

Score Card
According to the Trib's Teddy Greenstein, Score radio host Dan Bernstein "was not permitted" by CBS Radio bosses to comment to the paper about the latest (warranted) criticism of Cubs broadcaster Ron Santo on the Boers & Bernstein show.

And from now on Bernstein will only be allowed to read box scores aloud on the air. The new show will be called Box Scores and Bernstein.

I mean, sheesh. Commenting is what the guy gets paid to do.

The Beachwood Tip Line: Permission granted.


Posted on May 17, 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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