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The [Tuesday] Papers

By Steve Rhodes

There will be no column today, as I have too many soul-crushing things to attend to. I do have a few posts up at

* Free The Lakefront!

* Al Capone Slept Here!

* A story about this Supreme Court ruling on the impropriety of campaign contributions on judges should be posted soon.

Programming Note
I'll be on a panel about opinion writing on Thursday as part of the Community Media Workshop's annual conference. On Saturday I'll be on a panel as part of the Chicago Future Media Conference. I'll bring you the details tomorrow.


The [Monday] Papers
1. He was my friend, and a credit to the profession.

2. This story is a mess.

"Joe Plumeri has cut a high profile as the head of Willis Group Holdings Ltd., being an outspoken critic against industry compensation practices and making one of the sector's biggest acquisitions in a decade," the Tribune reported on Sunday.

"But few of his moves as chairman and chief executive of the multinational insurance brokerage have ever mobilized John Q. Public to start a Facebook group, create a Web site and circulate a petition - until recently."

Does that mean some of his other moves - besides renaming the Sears Tower - have similarly mobilized the public?

Why not "none" of his moves?

"Backlash ensued, spawning and a Facebook group called Chicagoans against Willis Tower. An unscientific poll by the Chicago Tribune elicited 15,175 responses, of which 95 percent said they'll keep calling it Sears Tower."

If it's an unscientific poll - and I'm assuming it was a click poll - what business does it have being in this story? You might as well include a poll of kindergarteners. Or cats and dogs.

"'More information about the company's lack of Britishness might have been good,' Plumeri conceded in an interview last week in Sears Tower's Metropolitan Club when asked what, if anything, he wishes he had done differently in rolling out the name change."

Really? Did you know Willis was a British company? I didn't. Beyond that, Macy's is an American company and that didn't relieve it from grief when it renamed Marshall Field's.

"Now publicly traded, Willis asked for and received $3.8 million in tax-increment financing from the city to redevelop the Sears Tower space."

Why isn't this the story? Why are Chicago taxpayers subsidizing a British insurance company?

"It's going to cost us about $17 million," said Plumeri. "We're bringing jobs into the city, and hopefully in the next couple of years it'll be 600, 700 jobs because we expect our business to grow rather strongly in the next three years."

Hopefully. But if we're paying for those jobs, shouldn't we just put those workers in the city payroll?

I'd also like Mr. Plumeri to describe how those negotiations went with the mayor. Very well, apparently. The Trib apparently didn't ask.

"Willis will consider spending money on marketing to help the Willis Tower name stick, but Plumeri knows it will take time. 'They can call it whatever they want, even The Big Willie,' said Plumeri, who turns 66 next month. 'All I know is that the day we announced that this building would be named Willis Tower, everybody in America knew who Willis was'."

Then why would you have to spend money on marketing to make it stick?

And really, The Big Willie? Are you a dick?

"Willis doubled its North American revenues in 2008 with its $2.1 billion acquisition of Hilb Rogal & Hobbs. It was the brokerage sector's biggest deal in a decade, Willis said."

Then why do they need a taxpayer subsidy? Maybe they should be giving us a subsidy to keep the damn city running.

"One of Willis' chief rivals is Chicago-based Aon Corp., which has about 2,500 Chicago-area workers and occupies one of the city's other big towers."

It would have been nice to have someone from Aon comment on how they feel about a big competitor getting a city subsidy.

But no. We'll just stick with The Big Willie.

3. Illini Cheating Scandal Up To Quinn. Will he fumigate the state's largest university and teach everyone a lesson?

4. Zell May Be Out. Bankers may be in. Just like old times!

Zell couldn't even sell the Cubs, I mean, how in the world did this guy become the richest man in Chicago . . .

Maybe the Ricketts family ought to buy the whole company and save the newspaper while they're at it.

5. Schakowsky Says No. Money, race, and gender.

6. Beachwood Sports:

* "The Guillen Meter reads 3 for 'Whatever'," writes our very own Andrew Reilly in The White Sox Report.

* Silver linings for the Cubs, including a GEICO deal and something about adult diapers. In The Cub Factor.

* "It will take a Herculean effort for Orlando to win the NBA Finals now," our very own Jim Coffman writes in SportsMonday. But that doesn't mean there aren't reasons to keep watching.

7. In case you haven't seen it yet, the world of rock and roll keeps delivering.

8 Keeping It Real With Oasis, Dee Dee Ramone & Jack White. By our very own Don Jacobson, in our inimitable RockNotes.

9. 20 Tweets: Billy Dec. Kickn it with Paris Hilton, Mancow and Oprah.

10. Statehouse review:
* Winners and losers according to the Daily Herald.

* Lawmakers worked awfully hard after all, passing 800 bills. That ain't right.

11. "In recent years," WBEZ reports, "CAPS meeting attendance has fallen by almost a third. The police department says that's because officers are connecting with citizens in new ways. But some criminologists and neighborhood leaders are skeptical.

12. This would be better if they showed what would happen if you put a Wisconsin brat on a Chicago grill. Would the grill explode, or just kind of pout and turn itself off? Would your kid get kicked out of the U of I? Would you get a red-brat ticket in the mail a few days later?


13. I'm tired. That's all I can muster today.

Mmm, Wisconsin brat . . .


The Beachwood Tip Line: Grilled or raw.


Posted on June 9, 2009

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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