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The [Thursday] Papers

The Tribune pretty much sums it up on its editorial page today:

"It's not just [that] the younger Daley and his cousin, Robert Vanecko, ponied up $65,000 to become part owners of Municipal Sewer Services in June 2003. It's not just [that] they cashed out the next year, right about the time the Hired Truck scandal broke. There's nothing illegal about any of that.

"But the company appears to have broken the law by leaving the cousins' names off of a required economic disclosure statement. Oh, and its city business shot up around the time the cousins got in the game.

"While Vanecko and Daley were on board, Municipal Sewer Services took over two city contracts held by a bankrupt vendor and got one-year extensions on both. The city didn't seek competitive bids for those contracts. The company - formed by officers of the investment firm where Patrick Daley, who holds a graduate business degree from the University of Chicago, was an unpaid intern - got $2 million from those contracts in 2004."

Christmas Looting
"This holiday season, the Tribune Tower's cleaning crew will be working overtime to scrub the stench of failure from the executive offices," So-Called Austin Mayor writes. "Just imagine how enormous FitzSimons payout would have been if he had had any success in the newspaper business."

Dirty Dennis
Just think what that $38 million could do.

You will know less about what scams your public officials are pulling, how your taxes are spent, who the police are beating up, who is in prison though innocent, the plight of the poor, how corporations are ripping you off, and who would make the best president in order for Dennis FitzSimons to maintain a life of supreme luxury.

And it's gonna get worse. It's all about numbers to Sam Zell. And if he makes the numbers work, the benefits will accrue to him, not you, dear reader.

Sunrise, Sunset
"That adage 'You've got to spend money to make money' may well be true," the Sun-Times editorial page said on Wednesday, "but, Sam Zell and the Tribune Co., get your hands off ours."

The paper was talking about the possibility of a state authority buying Wrigley Field, but I wonder if the editorial board would be so bold as to direct its wise adage to its own corporate parents, who are about to gut a newsroom that has very few guts left.

Charge Card
No, Daily Herald, you are not out of touch. You are (almost) absolutely right.

The only thing wrong with your policy is to allow names to be printed when you are told someone is going to be charged. Even then, you best wait. I've written of this before, but I remember my first job covering cops in Lakeland, Florida and making the requisite calls to various law enforcement authorities every night to see if anything was going on we needed to know about. Quite often someone would be in custody for a newsworthy crime, but I would always have to ask if he or she had been charged yet. Without the charge, we weren't allowed to publish.


Because any of us might at any time be under investigation. We are all suspects. And the point of reporting the names of people who are charged is just as much for their protection as it is to inform the public that the police believe they have caught a perpetrator. We don't allow secret arrests in this country, and once a person is officially captive to the criminal justice system, their case becomes open to examination - maybe even exoneration.

But not everything is fit to print ethically, even if it is allowed legally. And that includes the names of suspects unless or until they are charged.

Especially when violating that principle is motivated by selling newspapers and boosting television ratings instead of the public interest.


So what does the Daily Herald do, just ignore the madness swirling around it? No. The media's unethical behavior is newsworthy. Report on it.

Bears Broadside
The Trib's David Haugh slams the Bears to the turf.

Wrigley Shuffle
The Cubs aren't spending more on their payroll, you are.

A Screw You World
We live in a world where everyone is out to screw you. Politicians, advertisers and marketers try to manipulate you, corporate executives put money in their pockets by taking it out of yours, and basic commerce is a mass exercise in price-making built on deception and exploitation.

Few are more evil than credit card companies. In effect, credit card companies are just kinder, gentler versions not only of the noxious payday lender industry, but of good old-fashioned loan-sharking. Except - like gambling - it's legitimate because it's carried out by what organized crime writer Gus Russo calls the "overworld," the "legit" parallel to the underworld.

Latest example in my life: I just received a statement from Chase Bank informing me about how great their privacy policy is. Oh, and by the way, there are some changes being made to my account terms.

Those changes are spelled out in fine print too incomprehensible and daunting to comprehend. But the key boldface words are Variable Rates and Late Fees.

I don't have to read it to know I'm being screwed. Changes in terms are never favorable to consumers.

It's just greed, plain and simple. They do it because they can.


Dennis FitzSimons and Sam Zell could just as easily be credit card industry executives for all they care about journalism. It's just all numbers to them. And they are no less looting Tribune Co. than Conrad Black and David Radler did theirs.


These guys could be heroes, but they'd rather be absolutely filthy, filthy rich. Why live your life that way instead of doing something great?

Today's Beachwood
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The Beachwood Tip Line: Tap into the Altworld.


Posted on December 20, 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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