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The [Tuesday] Papers

Channel 2's Susanna Song led off her midday report giddily proclaiming "Talk about a bold mayor!" because Rahm Emanuel chose his first official press conference as mayor to once again tout his plan to cut $75 million from the city budget.

I don't think bold is quite the right word for it.


This WBBM radio report isn't much better.

"Making good on a campaign promise to cut the city budget, Mayor Rahm Emanuel on Tuesday outlined a plan to save $75 million in 2011 through a series of salary cuts for senior managers and other cost-saving measures."

Did the mayor really "make good" on a campaign promise? Every candidate promised to cut the city budget; there isn't much choice. There's a deficit.

So promises don't come much emptier.

And "outlining a plan" isn't the same as achieving one.

You know, if you want to be a stenographer, go to stenography school. If you want to be a reporter, report.

For example:

Rahm Emanuel sought to portray himself as a man of action on his first day of mayor by providing the most details yet on the way he intends to cut $75 million from a city budget that is as much as $700 million out of whack. How he intends to get the rest of the way there remains a mystery.

One way or another, you'll be asked to pay. For example, more stringent parking enforcement made Emanuel's list, even as taxpayers are still fuming about one of the Daley administration's biggest embarrassments, the leasing of the city's parking meters at an apparent discount rate, and the accompanying rise in fees for motorists as well as a whole new private enforcement patrol.

Meanwhile, most of Emanuel's departmental budget targets will be met by simply not filling vacant city jobs - perhaps a necessary step but hardly a bold harbinger of the kind of change the new mayor spent Inauguration Day touting.

Instead, we get "reporters" peddling meaningless, contrived slogans such as Emanuel saying "If everyone will give a little, no one will have to give too much."

Just because a politician has crafted a line he thinks clever doesn't require you to use it.


Then the new mayor dropped this bomb:

"The biggest savings will come from better management of grant programs. Emanuel said the city's poor management of grant dollars is wasting $31 million a year - forcing taxpayers to pick up the difference.

"Emanuel said city managers failed to follow-up on securing the second installments of grant money for projects - forcing the city to use tax money to make up the difference."


Talk about burying the lead.


But at least reporters knew enough to ask this:

"How did he feel on his first full day on the job?"

Because it's all about how he feels.

"Energized," our new leader said.

Presumably by the opportunity to make all of our lives better. Or his. Either way.


The next "reporter" who asks somebody how they feel should be the last. We're not here monitor the thinnest layers of our subjects' emotional lives. "How do you feel about whoever hired Angelo Torres?" is no substitute for "Who hired Angelo Torres?"


Take an interviewing class, please. Read a book. Study your profession. There's plenty of help out there.


Finally, if Chicago is really as ready for change as Rahm is allowed to keep claiming it is, why did it elect the candidate who promised the least of it?

Change is like sex; those who talk the most about it do it the least.


Rahm is using he word "change" so much because David Axelrod told him to. If conditions were identical and Axelrod found that voters would respond better to the word "continuity" or the phrase "status quo," Rahm would be making the exact same moves but labeling them differently. Wake up, people.


One thing I'm certain of: The media isn't changing. With few exceptions, "reporters" are still desperate to be liked by the mayor and fearful of asking not just "tough" questions" but real ones.

Actually, sadly, most "reporters" in this town don't even know what the real questions are.

Another Way To Save
There is absolutely no reason the mayor needs his name on our infrastructure outside of the cynical political motive of free (actually taxpayer-subsidized) advertising. Change starts with you, Rahm.


It reminds me of that Xerox commercial where a bunch of managers are sitting around desk tearing their hair out trying to find more budget cuts. Suddenly one looks at the piles of papers, binders, reports and styrofoam coffee cups and says, "How 'bout all this? How much does all this cost to produce?" Another colleague says "Could be millions!"

Of course, Daley's name has to be removed; that's a sunk cost, as it were. But leaving our signs and stationery nameless would save money the next time we have a new mayor. Even if it's Zach Emanuel or Patrick Daley.


Or Ilana or Leah Emanuel; it's not that Zach is male, it's that he's the oldest.


Same for department heads and other elected officials when it comes to stationery and so forth; we all know you get off on it but c'mon. Grow up.


UPDATE: 4:18 P.M.: The Beachwood gets results!


Rewriting History
"Emanuel campaigned on a promise to 'change the culture' of corruption and cronyism at City Hall that gave birth to the Hired Truck, city hiring and minority contracting scandals," Fran Spielman "reports" for the Sun-Times.

Really? I don't remember that campaign at all. Was I in an alternate universe or was she?


The headline on Spielman's story is "Emanuel Jumps Into Works, Signs 6 Executive Orders."

But halfway through the story we learn that three of those executive orders are merely Daley reissues.


"I want a set of values as an example," Emanuel said. "We can't [expect] people to have any sense in the entire city of that change if you're not gonna lead by example."

Then he revealed who inside his congressional campaign was the contact who coordinated with Don Tomczak's illegal patronage armies.

Or did I just imagine that?

Osama bin Angelo
"I will hunt down whoever hired Angelo Torres and implore them to tell federal authorities everything they know."

Or did I just imagine that?


Also in today's Beachwood:

* Bob Seger and Elvis Costello rolled through town over the weekend. Thanks to the glories of YouTube, we've got a few highlights - including Elvis doing "Purple Rain."

* "When was the last time anyone saw a pitcher unable to execute an intentional walk?" writes our very own Dmitry Samarov in Outside Sox Park: Getting Metaphysical. "When did Konerko join the Harlem Globetrotters? How often do we face a team so desperate for a run that they'd attempt a straight steal of home? These are all things I'll happily recall if the Sox use this baby step and keep toddling on up to .500, then the Central Division lead, which is theirs for the taking."

* "I sought a train home/from the garage of servitude," writes our very own J.J. Tindall in Chicagoetry: A Suit of Jade. "Up from south State/to the mirage of solitude."

* State Senate Panel Suggests Saving Money By Giving Bosses Raises.

* Bill O'Reilly and Jon Stewart Debate White House Poetry Reading By Chicago Rapper Common.


The Beachwood Tip Line: Players wanted.


Posted on May 17, 2011

MUSIC - Madonna vs. Moderna.
TV - Sundays With The Military-Industrial Complex.
POLITICS - Private Equity In The ER.
SPORTS - Suspicious Betting Trends In Soccer.

BOOKS - China Holding Swedish Publisher.


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