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The [Tuesday] Papers

By Steve Rhodes

1. I love the Redwood!

But, yeah.

2. "Chicago will dole out $35 million in property tax relief on the honor system, but only to a point: One of every 50 applicants will be required to produce their 2008 income tax returns," the Sun-Times reports.

"Chief Financial Officer Gene Saffold disclosed the city plans to conduct random audits to verify family incomes below the $200,000 ceiling on Day One of an application process that runs through March 31.

"For most homeowners, a signed affidavit, a photo ID and a copy of their current property tax bill will be enough to qualify for cash grants - ranging from $25-to-$200 - from proceeds of the $1.15 billion deal that privatized Chicago parking meters."

I wonder how much it will cost the city to process these "grants." How many workers will be assigned to this program, how many hours will they work, how much will paper and postage cost? Because it has boondoggle written all over it.


So a homeowner making $199,000 a year will get a check from the city for $25? That's horrendous public policy on several levels.


Then again, maybe homeowners can put their "grants" toward their parking tickets. Because this is really parking ticket relief, not property tax relief, though it does target homeowners (Hey, what about renters? Those taxes get passed on to us . . . ). The money comes from parking meter lease funds. Then you can send it right back to the city.

3. Like I said, it's all about the police reports.

4. Durbin To Bloggers: Drop Dead.

5. Blago Vows To Testify. And he's just crazy enough to do it.

6. Really really really really really really really rich guy Andy McKenna wants to lower the state's minimum wage. Which is $8 an hour. Which is what McKenna probably makes per second.

7. "I can't help but feel a bit sorry for Cook County Board President Todd Stroger," Mitchell writes.

"When he was running for the office four years ago, it didn't matter how many shots the press fired. His patron saint was there to shield him.

"But this time around, Mayor Daley has signaled that he doesn't intend to help Stroger stay in office."

Mitchell forgets to mention that when Stroger "ran" four years ago it was only after he was installed as the nominee in grand deception. Much of the harsh criticism Stroger has received in office stems from the way he got there.


"Old man Stroger risked his political life by backing Daley over Harold Washington in 1983, a time when Chicago politics was solely defined by race.

"After that, Stroger was known as Daley's boy. If that bothered him, he never showed it.

"With Daley's help, Stroger went on to become the first black man to head up the Cook County Board, one of the most powerful offices in the state.

"But Daley's debt must be paid in full."

Daley must repay his debt "in full" by subjecting citizens to four more years of incompetence? This isn't about Daley and his supposed political debts. This is a public office.

Besides, wasn't the debt paid by giving Todd the chance in the first place? He failed. Move on.

8. Actual Washington Post correction:

"A Nov. 26 article in the District edition of Local Living incorrectly said a Public Enemy song declared 9/11 a joke. The song refers to 911, the emergency phone number."

9. "Move over Turbot fish; take seat, blue fin tuna. The new most exclusive fish in the world is, apparently, the Asian carp at $3 million a pop."

- Natasha Julius in her fabulous Weekend Desk Report

10. ComEd must be crafting a marketing strategy for selling a rate hike next year, if the phone survey I got last night is any indication. And it was pretty obvious.

The survey was conducted by Peter D. Hart Research Associates, which shows up in "The Secret Side of David Axelrod" doing similar work:

"One TV commercial, penned by [Axelrod's firm] warned of a ComEd bankruptcy and blackouts without a rate hike: 'A few years ago, California politicians seized control of electric rates. They held rates down, but the true cost of energy kept rising. Soon the electric company went bust; the lights went out. Consumers had to pay for the mess. Now, some people in Illinois are playing the same game.' CORE, which describes itself on its Web site as 'a coalition of individuals, businesses and organizations,' was identified as the ad's sponsor. After a complaint was filed with state regulators, ComEd acknowledged that it had bankrolled the entire $15 million effort.

"The message seemed effective. Pollster Geoff Garin, president of Peter D. Hart Research Associates in Washington, which has worked with both of Axelrod's businesses, says his research showed that after the advertising campaign, ComEd customers were more supportive of a rate hike than customers served by other electric utilities elsewhere in Illinois.

"Axelrod's public and private efforts bump into each other at ComEd, too. Illinois employees of the utility and its parent, Exelon, have contributed $181,711 to Obama's Presidential bid - more than workers at any other company in the state."

11. Way better than the New Yorker's caption contest.

12. "During a year-long gambling binge at the Caesars Palace and Rio casinos in 2007, Terrance Watanabe managed to lose nearly $127 million," the Wall Street Journal reports.

"The run is believed to be one of the biggest losing streaks by an individual in Las Vegas history. It devoured much of Mr. Watanabe's personal fortune, he says, which he built up over more than two decades running his family's party-favor import business in Omaha, Neb. It also benefitted the two casinos' parent company, Harrah's Entertainment Inc., which derived about 5.6% of its Las Vegas gambling revenue from Mr. Watanabe that year."

13. "It's hardly the image of transparency the Obama administration wants to project: A workshop on government openness is closed to the public," AP reports.

As the AP shows, it's getting to be an old story with this bunch.

14. "Five bucks here will get you two bottles of Old Style ($2 each) and five plays on the jukebox ($1).

- Time Out Chicago on the Redwood


The Beachwood Tip Line: Dive in.


Posted on December 8, 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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