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The [Tuesday] Papers

The big news this morning is Chicago's Fortunate 5,000, as revealed in a City Hall clout list introduced in federal court on Monday.

The list is of the sort we've become accustomed to around here - an accounting of job candidates for government jobs, their influential patron, and sometimes helfpul commentary, such as a note for one candidate describing him as arrogant, as if that would be an impediment with this administration. Oh, and a column recording when a candidate got their city job.

While this may seem like business-as-usual, don't forget: The city has been regularly attesting to a federal judge that it has been following a decree prohibiting political hiring. The city defying a federal judge is not a pretty scenario.

"Although city officials insisted for years that they did not engage in patronage hiring, secretary [in the Mayor's office] Patricia Molloy said aides in the mayor's office kept track of job seekers and their political sponsors, beginning shortly after [Mayor Richard M.] Daley's election in 1989, and during much of his 17-year tenure," the Tribune reports in "They've Got Clout."

It's becoming more implausible by the day that the mayor himself isn't culpable, isn't it?

"Prosecutors say the fraud scheme benefited the mayor's political organization and was intended to get around the federal court decree restricting patronage hiring," the Tribune account says.

Not only that, but the evidence suggests what we've always suspected: While taxpayers were distracted by plastic cows and flower-filled medians, the mayor and his family were running city government as a private club for the benefit of themselves and their pals.

"Three Daley brothers, Cook County Commissioner John Daley, former U.S. Commerce Secretary William Daley, and Michael Daley are on the list as making a few recommendations for job seekers," the Sun-Times says in its account.

(Remember - this is in addition to the separate matter of the Daley family's friends getting all those juicy contracts we've been reading about for years. Just to complete the picture.)

"A secretary of Mayor Daley's offered names for job candidates," the Sun-Times continues, "and one of his bodyguards, Sam Roti, tried to get his wife a city post too . . . Daley's political base, the 11th Ward, came up more than 450 times as the sponsoring ward for job candidates."

Daley's political guru, David Axelrod, is also on the list for sponsoring a guy he met playing basketball at a YMCA for a bricklaying job.

"[Paul] Woods, who was a toll collector on the Chicago Skyway, volunteered to work on campaigns," the Tribune reports.

Axelrod, who wrote a pro-patronage commentary for the Tribune last August arguing that "political debts contribute to better city services," told the paper he didn't care about Woods's campaign offer.

Right.

A $38.25-an-hour city hoisting engineer, Paul Ready, was sponsored by John Daley, who, in addition to serving as the Cook County Board's finance chairman and running a prosperous insurance business also heads the 11th Ward Democratic Organization.

The Tribune asked Ready if he knew how his name got on the clout list. "I do, but it's none of your business," Ready replied.

Ah, but it is our business. Ready's wages come from our taxes and his job exists for our benefit. He works for us.

See, this is one of the problems with patronage. People forget who they are working for, and where their loyalties should lie. It is also corrosive. Patronage is a costly, self-fulfilling system in which responsibility and accountability are diminished and, when it comes to positions such as building inspectors - or maybe even hoisting engineers - the public is put at risk in order to further the political careers of a bunch of mopes.

We can't forget that we are the victims. We already know who the biggest beneficiaries are.

Cross-Clout: To find out who's really got clout, an enterprising reporter ought to merge the Daley clout list with the infamous favors list kept by Scott Fawell, who was the right-hand man of convicted former governor George Ryan, and the current governor's clout list. Then we'll see who's really got juice in this town.

Vacation Lampoon: Ald. Isaac Carothers, whose name appears on the Daley clout list more than that of any other alderman, told the Sun-Times: "I don't have any comment on anything related to the trial," he said. "I'm getting ready to leave on vacation. A man just pulled up to get me. I have to leave right now."

But Ike, they just wanted to ask you about that aldermanic pay raise proposal!

JudgeSpeak
"If released, there is a distinct possibility he will attempt to deprive the prosecution of as many living witnesses as he can."

- U.S. District Court Judge James Zagel, in a written decision denying bond to reputed Outfit hit man Frank Calabrese Sr.

Tribulent Times
* Newsweek says Tribune Company is headed for a break-up.

* The New York Times says Tribune Company's synergy dreams have failed.

* The Los Angeles Times profiles Dennis FitzSimons.

* The Washington Post says publicly-owned corporate newspaper companies may return to private hands.

* Tribune Company reports earnings up slightly in May. Here's the important part, I thought: "Classified advertising revenues rose 6.6 percent. Real estate and help wanted rose 37 percent and 1 percent, respectively. Automotive classified declined 13 percent. Interactive revenues, which are primarily included in classified, were $18 million, up 29 percent, due to strength in all categories."

(Remember, this isn't about Tribune Company not making money. They are making gobs of it. Hundred-dollar bills are practically bulging out of Tribune Tower and falling to the ground. While Tribune is in a mess primarily because of its ill-conceived acquisition of Times-Mirror, the larger problem is an insatiable Wall Street for whom newspaper profit margins are never obscenely fat enough, and never will be.)

* The Tribune says the Chicago Flower & Garden show has been cancelled. Under a TribCo budget squeeze, sponsor WGN Radio pulled out. Wall Street hates flowers.

* Crain's Chicago Business says . . . nothing much at all.

- The Sun-Times says . . . nothing.

- Hell, even the Reader says . . . nothing.

The mighty Tribune Company - whose properties reach 80 percent of American households - could cease to exist. The Chicago Tribune could come under new ownership. Regardless of Dennis FitzSimons' wishes, the company could lose the Cubs. You'd think the local media outside of the Tribune itself would be, um, interested.

Jack Black
Let's not forget how corrupt the Sun-Times was for years. Conrad Black's return to the news is a reminder. So yeah, integrity and competence are hallmarks of our local media empires.

Onion or Sun-Times?
"Toga Party Loses Control At Eatery Owned By Animal House Actor"

Marion Pickett
Robert Feder on Marion Brooks's pregnancy blog.

Funny what Brooks thinks is appropriate for public airing. Here is what the Columbia Journalism Review wrote recently: "The recent trial of former mayor Bill Campbell on federal corruption charges raised embarrassingly belated questions about news practices at WSB-TV when a key witness named Marion Brooks described first-class trips and high-end gifts she got from the big-spending mayor during their four-year affair in the 1990s. During some of that time, Brooks was a reporter and anchor for WSB, where, according to accounts in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the relationship was common knowledge in the newsroom - though not deemed appropriate, evidently, for public airing."

Meek Meeks
"Nobody is discussing the education reform plan," Meeks said, sighing, when asked what most surprised him about the reaction. "Everybody is discussing the funding source."

Feel like a chump yet, Reverend?

The Beachwood Tip Line: Funding sources is all we talk about too.



Permalink

Posted on June 20, 2006


MUSIC - The Weekend In Chicago Rock.
TV - Cricket vs. Brexit.
POLITICS - An Odd Call From Bermuda.
SPORTS - All Is Not Forgiven, Bears.

BOOKS - Turning Points Of The Civil War.

PEOPLE PLACES & THINGS - Baxter's IV Bag Shortages.


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