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The [Tuesday] Papers

"Pathetic wannabes seems a more apt description for this group than homegrown terrorists," a Miami Herald editorial says today of the motley crew from South Florida accused of aspiring to somehow attack the Sears Tower.

Still, the Herald, like other weak-kneed editorialists we know, concludes that "in a post-Sept. 11 era when the tripwire for being hauled in as a potential terror threat is hypersensitive, the men may have done enough to warrant being indicted and arrested."

May have done enough? Now we're not even sure their behavior reached the threshold of arrest?

At a fundraiser here for Republican congressional candidate David McSweeney, Vice President Dick Cheney called the Miami group "a very real threat."

But it's quickly becoming clear that a Caffe Mocha Breve Grande from the Starbucks there was more of a threat to the health of Sears Tower workers than these seven dwarves.

"Even the ideology of the suspects, if a mishmash of religious fervor and zealotry can be called that, seems unfocused," the Herald says. "These alleged terrorists were so destitute that they relied on the government informant, whom they believed was one of them, to supply them with cameras to take pictures of potential targets and even boots for their militaristic training.

"The government informant also supplied both the cash and phony al-Qaeda connection to the alleged terrorists."

It increasingly sounds like the government informant was the one with the aspirations. Without him whipping these guys up, the Herald seems to be saying, there would have been very little to fear and no basis for arrests.

The Herald is also reporting that "The severity of the charges compared with the seemingly amateurish nature of the seven defendants raised concerns among civil libertarians.

"'We're as puzzled as everyone else,' said Howard Simon, the director of the Florida chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union."

You can read the astonishingly brief and bare indictment here to see why.

Decaf Tall Terrorist
The judge in the case of Chicagoan Jose Padilla says the indictment is "very light on facts."

Durkin Dunked
Closing arguments in the City Hall job-rigging trial began on Monday. Prosecutor Julie Ruder accused the four defendants, including Mayor Richard M. Daley's former patronage chief, Robert Sorich, of participating in a "corrupt clout machine."

Defense attorney Thomas Anthony Durkin called the prosecution's case "odd and stupid."

The verdict from the press gallery?

Advantage, Ruder.

John Kass says Durkin has been "valiant and colorful and interesting . . . but for all the charm and passion, it was only rhetoric, because he didn't have more."

Eric Zorn, likewise, says Durkin was all style and no substance. "I left the courtroom feeling certain: He's got nothing," Zorn writes.

Ruder was effective - by my reading of press accounts - in rebutting Durkin's arguments about the lack of money changing hands and what a swell guy his client was.

"It was about who you knew and whose palm you were greasing,'" Ruder said, according to the Sun-Times account. "Not with money, she said, but with a currency more valuable: 'bodies.' Ruder said jobs went to those who donated their labor to poltical groups by ringing doorbells, distributing flyers and making calls for candidates backed by the mayor."

The paper also reported that "Durkin tried to portray Sorich as a trusted, well-liked city employee who helped people, including one city worker who agreed Sorich literally helped get him out of working in a hole, with a promotion.

"Ruder, though, asked about all the other workers in low-level, back-breaking jobs, who didn't do political work.

"'Mr. Sorich didn't get them out,' Ruder said, her voice ringing with outrage. Unless a person did political work, Ruder said, 'you were stuck in that hole for good.'"

Green Bean
Political pundit Paul Green, who is immune to the kind of outrage expressed by Rudin, thinks Daley has it down just right.

"It's a tough city to govern," Green said on Chicago Tonight last night. "This is a city that needs a strong mayor."

Oh, baloney. The only thing that makes Chicago a tougher city to govern than any others is its corruption! Green has it exactly backwards. And if an honest mayor can't also be a strong mayor, we may as well pack up our democracy and ask for King George back.

"You don't need corruption to make a city work," Cindy Canary, director of the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform, shot back at Green.

"The city that works - who does the city work for?" asked Bob Crawford, the former political director of WBBM-AM and a longtime City Hall observer.

"That's terrible, Bob," Green responded. "Name a mayor in history where the city has worked better for more people!"

Crawford didn't get a chance to, but I'll take a shot: Harold Washington?

"Name a city that does it better," Green said.

Well, I'm not sure what "it" is, but, um, okay. New York City? Minneapolis? San Francisco? I was pretty impressed with Denver when I was there a few years ago. Portland? Seattle? Toronto? Madison, Wisconsin?

There's a whole world out there that somehow manages to trudge through each day without a Daley as their mayor or a corruption machine governing their lives.

Daley wants to use a property tax increase to help fund a $1 billion school construction program. He doesn't want you to worry about the details. Just trust him.

Daley's secret plan would build 24 new schools; it is part of a $5.3 billion budget under consideration by the Board of Education.

Some pretty smart people think the mayor ought to show us his homework.

"In a 65-page critique, Civic Federation President Laurence Msall blasted the budget's 'lack of transparency' and its failure to address 'ballooning' pension and personnel costs despite four years of declining enrollment," the Sun-Times reports. "Most egregious, Msall said, was the board's failure to flesh out details of the six-year, $1 billion school construction plan that Daley unveiled earlier this month.

"The first installment of of funding toward 'Modern Schools Across America' is in the budget. But taxpayers have no idea how the 24 schools were chosen or who picked them because the Board of Education hasn't produced a capital improvement plan after three years of promises, Msall said."

Daley's response?

"Now that the city has stepped up and made an investment in schools, we can start planning in the long range again."

So, spend first, plan later?

Olympian Effort
City Hall sources issued a press release on the Sun-Times's Metro page today.

Net Nonsense
The Tribune came out against "net neutrality" on Monday in an editorial called "Hands Off The Internet." Just so there is no confusion about where the paper stands, "Hands Off The Internet" is also the name of a lobbying campaign against "net neutraility" backed by the telecom industry.

Hands Off ComEd
Adjacent to the Tribune's net neutrality editorial was a letter from the executive director of the Citizens Utility Board that said, in part, "Where we disagree is with the Tribune's continued insistence that nothing can be done to protect consumers from rate shock next year."

So yeah, the Tribune is firing on all cylinders when it comes to looking out for your interests. Next they'll ask for an increase in gas prices, just because.

Sanitation Maintenance Engineer
On Sunday the Sun-Times presented a "computer-assisted analysis" of the City Hall clout list revealed at the Sorich trial. The paper studied favors requested and favors granted to determine the success rates of the city's "clout All-Stars."

Isn't that more like a calculator-assisted analysis?

Onion or Tribune?
"High Court Turns Away Disney In Pooh Appeal."

The [Monday] Papers
There wasn't one. Sorry. I'm still not sure whether the Sunday and Monday columns should be combined, or should remain separate with each posted Monday. I'm trying to avoid having to write a column on Sunday when I'm usually busy not only reading through the papers but preparing other parts of the site for the week. Suggestions welcome.

The Beachwood Tip Line: Part of the Modern Beachwoods Across Chicago program


Posted on June 27, 2006

MUSIC - Lyric Opera Strike An Old Story.
POLITICS - USA Today's Op-Ed Disaster.
SPORTS - Beachwood Sports Radio: Kanye, Chili, Jimmy, Tarik.

BOOKS - Conway Barbour & The Black Middle Class.

PEOPLE PLACES & THINGS - Recall! Malone's Pork Head Cheese.

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