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The [Thursday] Papers

The Fred Hampton Way saga not only appears to be over, but it appears to have ended without anyone learning any lessons.

White reporters and city council members in particular.

Chicago Sun-Times reporter Fran Spielman, for example, continues to telegraph where she and her paper stand on the issue with a story today that begins this way: "Unwilling to divide the City Council along racial lines on a vote she was destined to lose, Ald. Madeline Haithcock (2nd) on Wednesday gave up the fight to rename a West Side street after slain Black Panthers leader Fred Hampton."

Why pin racial division on Haithcock?

Why not start this way: "White aldermen have successfully blocked an effort - initially approved without debate in committee - to rename a portion of West Monroe Street after slain Black Panther leader Fred Hampton, enraging black leaders and others who say their opponents engaged in racial fear-mongering and pandering to the police union."

It's not as if the rejection of Fred Hampton Way hasn't divided the City Council along racial lines. But when white people have the upper hand, racial harmony has been preserved.

"Many aldermen breathed a sigh of relief," Spielman also wrote, perhaps unaware that some aldermen also spit nails. "Thanks to Haithcock [pulling the plug], they managed to dodge a difficult vote on an issue that threatened to divide them along racial lines in a way not seen since the 1980s power struggle known as Council Wars."

Really? No other issue has come before the city council in the last 20 years that has been as racially divisive as this? And this threatened to become as racially divisive as white aldermen paralyzing city government solely because the mayor was black?

The Sun-Times's abominable coverage of this issue played its own racially divisive role. It was their outraged front page story that kindled what had been a routine and unnoticed honorary street sign designation into a cauldron of racial enmity and ignorance.

At its best, the paper equivocated. At its worst, it purveyed conveniently unverified urban legend about the Panthers allegedly killing two white police officers without bothering to do the most basic reporting to learn the facts. It was up to columnist Mary Mitchell to set the record straight, though it's not clear whether Spielman or her editors read Mitchell's column. The paper, after all, committed zero reporting to following up on Mitchell's findings and correcting itself in the news pages.

And as usual, Mayor Richard M. Daley skates, having eluded taking a public stance by whining about all the honorary street signs he has just discovered in the city he has governed for 16 years.

He got another free pass today.

"Mayor Daley, whose father was mayor in 1969, said he had nothing to do with pulling the plug," Spielman wrote unquestioningly. "'Who else are they going to blame? Everybody blames me.'"

That nonsensical comment was in response to Fred Hampton Jr.'s more articulate observation: "Is this a democracy or a Daley dictatorship? All shots come from the [mayor's office]. I know that much about Chicago history. Once you start talking about Chairman Fred Hampton, you've got to start making some connections about who was mayor and under whose tenure he was assassinated. There's a Pandora's box that a lot of people don't want to open in this city."

White reporters and city council members in particular.

Defender Mender: Roland S. Martin has brought some new energy to the Defender, as evidenced by a new design put to good use today with this sharp cover.

UPDATE 11:39 a.m.: Not to mention this editorial. Sorry I missed it first time around.

Art Target
Art Chicago owner Thomas Blackman makes a bad situation worse by refusing to explain why he had to move the art fair from Grant Park to the Merchandise Mart at the last minute. He appeared before TV cameras briefly yesterday looking worn and frightened, lamely telling reporters that he just didn't have time to explain what went so wrong that the fair almost had to be cancelled.

Pallmeyer Watch
Judge Rebecca Pallmeyer says "the most fundamental reason" why she won't allow George Ryan's lawyers to question two jurors dismissed from the case is that they did not participate in deliberations.

But what if the two dismissed jurors have evidence of misconduct that occurred before deliberations, like the rumblings that other jurors talked about the case with friends and family, or had read or watched media coverage of the case? It would still be relevant, wouldn't it?

Learning Disability
A federal judge has denied a request made by federal prosecutors to conduct background checks of jurors in the upcoming trial of former Daley patronage chief Robert Sorich. Because who ever heard of background checks turning up anything relevant in a high-profile political trial?

Learning Disabled
This just in: Aldermen shocked that laws may apply to them as well as common people.

Celebrity Correspondents
Guess who's coming to the White House Correspondents Association Dinner?

Jeopardy host Alex Trebek. Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. New York Giants running back Tiki Barber. Actor Joey Pants. And outed CIA agent Valerie Plame.

I kid you not.

Check out the VIP guest list, courtesy of Lynn Sweet's blog, and make up your own seating arrangements.

Snow Job
Sweet on new White House spokesman Tony Snow: "I've met Snow a few times. He is much sunnier than McClellan and will probably be a much better communicator, even if all he does is find more pleasant ways to say nothing."

Rush Job
Back on the print side, Sweet follows up today on her report about the SBC Foundation giving $1 million to U.S. congressman Bobby Rush's Rebirth of Englewood Community Development Corporation.

"Rush founded the nonprofit, tax-exempt Rebirth of Englewood center, located in his South Side congressional district, to improve the economy of the impoverished Englewood community. Rush sits on its board as does his wife, Carolyn, and the center employs his son, Flynn," Sweet writes.

"Payments for the $1 million grant were made by the SBC Foundation between 2001 and 2004 to underwrite the Bobby L. Rush Center for Community Technology, envisioned as a training and business resource facility for the Englewood area. SBC acquired AT&T and switched to using the better-known name. The Rush Center still has not opened, though officials are hopeful it will within 12 months.

. . .

"[T]he Rebirth of Englewood . . . has federal and state contracts, and entities tied to the Beloved Christian Community Church of which Rush is the founder and the pastor. Rush uses money from his federal campaign fund to keep the church afloat."

Nuclear Delay
A day late, sorry. Blame the radiation. Or the fluoride.

The Fred Hampton Tip Line: Intellectually divisive since 2006.


Posted on April 27, 2006

MUSIC - Chicago Harmonica Meetup.
TV - Sinclair, Cubs Name Accomplice.
POLITICS - Terms Of Service Gone Awry.
SPORTS - Beachwood Street Hockey?

BOOKS - Rock The Luya Mic.

PEOPLE PLACES & THINGS - Let Elevators Evolve.

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