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The [Thursday] Papers

Wow. We could have a real tax revolt on our hands here. I sense the citizenry is being pushed too far. Break out the pitchforks.

But who do you march on first?

Todd Stroger is obviously far less popular - well, let's face it, he's devoid of popularity - than Richard M. Daley, who plays a far cannier game. Meanwhile, you may have forgotten that we still don't have a state budget. (And look, ComEd is back at the trough!)

I wonder if the Toddler's purpose is to make the mayor's tax hikes look reasonable by comparison. He is, after all, a subsidiary of the Daley Machine.

And ComEd is brought to you by Emil Jones (and Barack Obama), who seems to be the last remaining ally (sort of) of Gov. Rod Blagojevich.

As a veteran Chicago journalist once told me, beneath the sauce all the strands are connected.

Let's start with Stroger.

TheSun-Times summarizes his position on its front page today: "Stroger's Promise: We're overtaxing new, but we'll give it back if we don't need it."

Hey, I've got a better idea: Cut my taxes and if I don't need all the money you give back to me I'll return some of it!

Stroger can't even deliver a budget document, much less run a budget. (Sigh. Story not available online:. Don't they know I'm trying to do schtick here? Here is the key part: "Once the budget was made available, many officials started noticing inconsistencies between the different volumes of the budget books. One volume showed drastic cuts to some offices, while other volumes showed thousands of jobs added for the same office . . . [Stroger's staff] chalked it up to printing error.")

"A board president who claims tremendous credit for cutting some 1,440 jobs in the last year now wants to add 1,130 new jobs in 2008," the Tribune editorial page notes.

Wow, Todd Stroger has a larger family tree than Barack Obama.

"Stroger's campaign pledge to cut county employment to 22,000 workers? His budget would fatten the county payroll to 24,836."

If this is just an opening negotiating position, Stroger has judged wrong. His credibility deficit is already larger than any budget shortfall.

Let's move on.

The mayor is thinking about privatizing the city's parking meters. Better idea: privatize the city council. I hear Blackwater is looking for a new gig. Could they outbid Daley's Army?

Fran Spielman writes in the Sun-Times this morning that "there's another sign that a City Council long known as a rubber stamp is preparing to flex its collective muscle: Daily meetings of the Progressive and Independent Caucus."

You know what? I've been reading stories about "signs" that the independence is coming to the council for 18 years. They're as ubiquitous as stories about how pool halls are no longer just for ne'er do-wells and the annual discovery of Goth.

Moving on.

"Commonwealth Edison residential customers would see their bills spike about 8 percent if the Illinois Commerce Commission approves a delivery service rate increase request filed by the utility Wednesday," the Sun-Times reports.

Funny, I had a conversation at the bar last night about ComEd. We all just received relatively low bills reflecting rebates from ComEd's last attempt to raise rates unreasonably. "They'll just make up for it later," I cautioned my fellow patrons. Ahhh, bar wisdom.

Of course, raising taxes in tough times is exactly the wrong thing to do. Can you say economic downward spiral?

But what really makes it scandalous is whose pockets keep getting stuffed.

"The price of patronage, of corruption, of inefficiency, has come due, and Cook County can't ask taxpayers to pay for that," Commissioner Mike Quigley said.

But taxpayers are always the ones who pay.

Meanwhile, "A portrait-hanging ceremony for former interim Cook County Board President Bobbie Steele rose to near worship this week at the County Building," Sneed reports (and this time we'll take her word for it, though I'm sure there are errors elsewhere in her column today).

"Let us translate: Invitations were sent out to more than 1,000 people to attend what became a lovefest for Steele, a former Cook County commissioner, who had a four-month tenure as board president, enabling her to double her pension before installing her son to replace her as Cook County Board commissioner."

If it turns out Steele doesn't need the money, though, she promises to give it back.

With Apologies to Nena
"99 Years Of Cubs Losses."

Also known as "99 Jahre von Bengeln Verlusten."

Remedial Reporting
Jennifer Hunter continues her adult education course in public today by writing a report on the Iowa caucuses. "Probing reporter that I am, I vowed to find the answers," she writes. (Oh Christ, this isn't online either. Maybe they've decided to spare some of us. Has this woman no capacity for self-awareness, shame or embarrassment?)


So let me get this straight: The Sun-Times assigned a "reporter" to a historic presidential campaign who is just learning now how the Iowa caucuses work? Is this what they call "citizen journalism"?

Ways to Die
I haven't read Paul Salopek's front-page piece on Mogadishu yet, but given his track record, it's probably damn good.

The Mad Man Is . . .
. . . Lewis Lazare (second item).

He's wrong. Maureen Ryan and Doug Elfman are, more or less, right.

TV Tattle
Sun-Times broadcast columnist Robert Feder writes (second item) this morning: "Lester Holt, who's too big to return my phone calls now that he is an important NBC News anchor, slipped into Chicago recently to hang out with syndicated talk show host Jerry Springer, who's not too big to return my phone calls."



Wait, Lester Holt hangs out with Jerry Springer?

Breast Cancer
"Reducing breast cancer deaths among black women in Chicago will require massive changes in the city's 'de facto segregated health-care system,' a blue-ribbon panel contends," the Tribune reports on its front page this morning.

Tax Follies
1. "Nobody ever wants to pay taxes," Stroger said. "I don't want to pay taxes."

No, nobody wants to pay taxes to you.

And our taxes pay your salary, so we're really paying your taxes too.


Does Todd enjoy his job? Wouldn't he rather do something else? Or is this the only thing he's "qualified" for?

2. "How can you get that down to a smaller amount that you can basically fund libraries," Daley said.

I have an idea: Let's forgo libraries this year. I think we'll survive.

3. "A county commissioner earlier this week called it a 'perfect storm of taxation.'"



How did that movie end, by the way? As I recall we didn't quite get what we paid for because it was a little over-the-top.

The Beachwood Tip Line: Promises kept.


Posted on October 18, 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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