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The [Tuesday] Papers

Well, that didn't take long.

"Cook County Board President Bobbie Steele asked the county's patronage chief Gerald Nichols to clean out his office just outside her own Friday because she could not figure out exactly what his official job was," the Sun-Times's Abdon Pallasch reports this morning.

"The Sun-Times on Monday reported county officials saying that for years Nichols called them to plug politically connected people both for policy positions - which is allowed - and also for lower-level jobs, which by court order are supposed to go to job applicants who score well on tests."

Steele said that Nichols told her his job when he worked for former county board president John Stroger was to sort his mail, prioritize invitations, and sometimes serve as a surrogate for Stroger. For $114,000 a year in taxpayer money.

Unsurprisingly, Nichols is a friend of the installed-by-fiat Democratic county board president candidate, Todd Stroger. His Republican opponent, county commissioner Tony Peraica, says Nicholas has been assisting Stroger's campaign.

Subjects in Pallasch's story whom he notes have relatives on the county payroll: Steele, the Strogers, and Peraica.

The County Prince

Character Study
The Sun-Times reports that the following people attended a legal defense fundraiser for Mayor Richard M. Daley's convicted former patronage chief, Robert Sorich, at the mayor's family church last weekend: The mayor's brother, Cook County Commissioner John Daley; mayoral advisor Tim Degnan; reputed mobster and former union boss Bruno Caruso; and 11th Ward Ald. James Balcer.

"The Rev. Daniel Brandt, pastor at Nativity of Our Lord, said the crowd spoke volumes about Sorich's character," the Sun-Times said. "'Robert is loved."

I'd say it spoke volumes about the characters of Richard M. Daley, who surely approved of the fundraiser, his brother, Degnan, Caruso, Balcer - and Brandt, who didn't explain how cheating qualified candidates with families to feed out of jobs with such public safety aspects as building inspector in order to do political favors for drunks and miscreants squared with the Gospel.

The Civil Drug War
"After two decades of steadily toughening laws, Illinois now puts more people in prison for drug crimes than any state except California, according to a study released Tuesday by Roosevelt University," the Tribune reports.

In 1983, 5 percent of the state's prison population was made up of drug convicts. In 2002, that number had risen to 38 percent.

Feel safer?

"The report also found that more people are being incarcerated for possessing narcotics than for selling them and that the state's prisons hold about five black inmates convicted of drug offenses for every white inmate - one of the largest racial disparities in the country."

The report also found that Rod Blagojevich and Judy Baar Topinka will ignore the data because they are in the midst of a campaign for governor. At least that was my reading of it.

Park Place
The Tribune Company has a way of making itself seem untrustworthy at every turn. Now comes word that TribCo is stalling on construction of a 400-space parking garage adjacent to Wrigley Field because it can't come up with the $30 million project cost. Company officials deny the delay has anything to do with Tribune's recent financial woes. The $8 billion company is just suddenly short of $30 million.

Maybe the company's ticket-scalping operation isn't going as well as planned?

"[Wrigleyville Ald. Tom] Tunney said neither the City Council nor community residents would have approved the long-stalled bleacher expansion without a guarantee that land currently used to provide surface parking for 200 cars would be turned into a 400-space garage for year-round use by residents and businesses," the Sun-Times reports.

The Lundberg Report
Trilby Lundberg, the woman behind the survey that recently found that Chicago had the most expensive gas in the nation says that oil company executives would never dream of cooperating in setting prices. She also says global warming is a "bogeyman for political opportunism."

Because, as we all know, scientists are elected to their positions.

Tax Talk
Associated Press writer Jeff Wilson has absorbed the meme: In his story about Lundberg, he describes Chicago's gas prices as "a tax-powered $3.29 a gallon."

Race and Wrigley
USA Today reported Monday on racist letters sent to Cubs players and manager Dusty Baker.

The story depicts Wrigley Field as a tough place to play, filled with angry fans (who fill the ballpark even when an embarrasing product is put on the field and seem more revelerous than angry to me) and racial hatred.

I don't doubt that the letters Baker and others cite are beyond horrible, but something doesn't add up here. It shouldn't surprise us if Chicago is more racist than many other places, but just how many letters like this are Baker and the players getting, and how does that compare to the rest of the league? My sense is that the scope of this story is either overblown or being hushed up. Either way, I don't know that we're getting the full picture.

Meanwhile, former Cubs manager Don Baylor says, "They say that Cubs fans are great. Define that for me. Is that throwing things on the field, showing disdain for your players? Is that your definition?"

Well, given the circumstances, yes.

Finally, Jim Hendry says, "If we're not winning when my contract is up (after the 2008 season), I should get whacked myself."

He's right. But do we really have to wait so long?

In the Reporter
* Chicago-opoly: The City That Cheats.

* A rotating horse head is a centerpiece of the failed DaVinci exhibit at the Museum of Science and Industry. We have video.

* Over/Under, our new football column, including The Blue and Orange Kool-Aid Report.

The Beachwood Tip Line: Tax-free.


Posted on August 22, 2006

MUSIC - Lyric Opera Strike Settled.
POLITICS - USA Today's Op-Ed Disaster.
SPORTS - SportsMonday: Come On, Vic!

BOOKS - Chicago Book Haul: The Dial.

PEOPLE PLACES & THINGS - Chicagoetry: West Town Blues.

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