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The [Tuesday] Papers

By Steve Rhodes

"Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) sent a recommendation letter to a principal last spring on behalf of a staffer's relative who had been rejected entry to one of Chicago's most elite public high schools," the Tribune reports.

"Though the applicant's score was well below the school's average, the principal at Jones College Prep accepted the student through a channel that allows principals to handpick 5 percent of the incoming class. The student was one of 12 chosen under the provision, from a pool of more than 180 applications, Principal Joseph Powers said."

And Durbin's letter had nothing to do with it, right?

No. It had everything do with it - by design! That was the point.

"The nine selective enrollment college prep schools admit most students based on tests, grades and attendance. But a policy adopted two years ago allowed the principals to hand pick up to five percent of freshmen based on five other criteria," the Sun-Times reports.

"Durbin's staffer's daughter was admitted under two of those criteria - extra-curricular activities and extenuating circumstances, his spokeswoman said. Neither criteria is mentioned in Durbin's letter."

That's because the only criteria necessary to mention was Durbin's name.

"I've had the pleasure of watching [the girl] grow from an inquisitive and precocious 7-year-old into the extremely bright, articulate and mature young lady she is today," Durbin wrote.

And how did he have the pleasure? Because she was the daughter of one of his staffers.

A Durbin spokeswoman told the Sun-Times that this is believed to be the only recommendation letter he wrote.

I didn't know that getting a job in a senator's office guaranteed getting your kid into the school of your choice. It's a perk that isn't advertised, but one we should have assumed all along.

Are They All Dirty?
Sure seems that way.

Obama's Option
This "then and now" of the president's shifting positions on health care is actually gentler than the reality if the Tribune either did a little more digging or had been paying attention all along, even going back to the Democratic primary.

File this in the bulging "I Told You So" file.


Is there a single significant issue on which Obama has not changed his position? Seriously. And mom and apple pie stuff doesn't count. Real stuff. I don't think so.


All those idiots taking that Facebook quiz saying they supported universal coverage! Even the public option is not universal coverage. But - like so many parts of the campaign - large swaths of people believed an illusion that wasn't true, gleefully checking "Yes!" when it was absolutely meaningless to do so and only perpetuated a fantasy.


"After Obama was elected, you had all of these people who basically saw him as the second coming of Christ," Joker artist (and Chicagoan) Firas Alkhateeb told the Los Angeles Times. "From my perspective, there wasn't much substance to him."

Stupid People
I know reporters get desperate to find people who will give them the quotes that will fulfill the fantasy narratives of their editors, but quoting people who don't know what they're talking about just makes us all a bit more stupid.

Today's example: "City Closures Catch Many By Surprise."

(Another Sun-Times story I can't find online)

The piece opens by describing the plight of poor Astor Rogers, who didn't know city offices were closed on Monday.

"They're making money off people coming down here and paying for parking, paying for meters," Rogers said. "And then you've got to come back [Tuesday]. So they're going to make double the money."

Yes. That was the city's evil scheme.

After a brief detour, the Sun-Times comes back to Rogers, which leads me to wonder just how many folks were really fooled.

"Some folks streaming into City Hall admitted they'd not paid attention to news reports previewing Monday's closures. But that was apparently no reason to cut City Hall some slack.

"'I came all this way for nothing,' said Rogers."

Yet another example of a depleted newsroom wasting its reporters' time.

If a story about people showing up to closed city offices must be done, it should be done Daily Show style: send a reporter to City Hall to find out just how ill-informed our citizenry is. Then ask each person who showed up expecting the doors to be open if they can name their alderman. Then maybe we've got something.

Expensing It
Returning for a moment to the Tribune's story about aldermen's expense accounts:

"Six aldermen tapped their expense accounts to pay for public relations firms and other consultants - for everything from setting up community meetings to expert advice.

"Ald. Anthony Beale (9th) spent more than any other alderman on public relations, with more than $16,000 paid to The Publicity Works, a company owned by longtime Democratic political consultant Delmarie Cobb."

Now Delmarie Cobb of Roland Burris fame.


Aldermanic expense accounts sound an awful lot like the Cook County commissioners' "contingency checks" that everyone got so upset about not too long ago - except the aldermen have about four times as much money at their disposal.

Zell Gives Up
Ready to walk away.

Behind That Famous Cubs Beer Photo
It was touched up.


The Beachwood Tip Line: Touching.


Posted on August 18, 2009

MUSIC - Millions Of New Guitar Players.
TV - "One America News" is AT&T.
POLITICS - When Wall Street Came To My Mobile Home Park.
SPORTS - Tonyball, Bears On The Run, Eyes On The Sky & More!

BOOKS - China Holding Swedish Publisher.


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