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The [Tuesday] Papers

I don't necessarily disagree with Rich Miller's take on legalizing drugs and gambling, but it's not the morality of those who partake that concerns me, it's the morality of those doing the selling.

When it comes to casinos, for example, the house makes its huge profits largely based on deception. If regulators required that the true odds of each game be posted at every table, along with a description of the built-in house edge, then I'd have far less of a problem putting casinos anywhere anyone (but not government; I'll get to that) wanted.

Casinos employ a variety of psychological techniques to induce patrons to gamble and gamble more, be it the free drinks (thought not as prevalent as they used to be) at many venues which most of us enjoy but which also loosen our judgement; the absence of clocks; claims about "loose slots"; and even more pernicious practices like LED towers tracking previous roulette results - as if a pattern can be detected.

Unfortunately, that little silver ball doesn't remember (as statisticians say) where it landed the time before or the time before that. It certainly doesn't remember its last 20 rolls. Each play is a fresh start.

But casino operators don't want to play fair. Card-counting, for example, is perfectly legal. And there's nothing sinister about it; keeping track of which cards have been played at a blackjack table is standard, smart play.

But if you're too good at it, the casinos will kick you out - or at least make your life very difficult.

Now, if private citizens want to try their hand anyway, I suppose that's their right. But we require more disclosure on a candy bar than a casino game.

And it's not really a business the government ought to be in. It has nothing to do with governing.

Richard M. Daley always said he supported a Chicago casino if the city could own it. Yet he sold off our parking meters because he, as a privatization geek, thought cities weren't equipped to manage them.

Does that make sense?

The only role government ought to have when it comes to gambling is regulating it, like any other consumer product or entertainment event. And we all know that real regulation is virtually impossible because it would kill the golden goose.

Golden, that is, for those who own the casinos; certainly not for the vast majority of those who play in them.

* * *

Legalizing drugs (or at least marijuana) is a different matter with a different set of questions, but can you imagine the city owning the one big store downtown where you had to shop unless you wanted to drive to Aurora, Joliet or Northwest Indiana?

* * *

Let's throw prostitution in the mix too. Why should a business transaction between two consenting adults be illegal?

Now, I'm not a fan of prostitution for the same reason I'm not a fan of porn.

"More than 80% of all prostitutes are victims of sexual abuse in their childhood and youth," one study reports, and though I haven't reviewed all the literature this morning, I suspect that number may even be low.

(My understanding of women in porn is similar; that virtually every one of them was sexually abused as a child. Which doesn't mean that every woman abused becomes a porn actress or hooker; if so, there wouldn't be jobs for all of them.)

I find it hard to get enjoyment out of exploiting that circumstance.

But that doesn't mean legalizing and regulating prostitution wouldn't make it safer for everyone involved. I just can't imagine the city owning the only brothel in town.

* * *

Lastly, we know who is salivating the most about a Chicago casino: The same insiders who always make out like bandits on these deals no matter what the ramifications are for the rest of us.

* * *

I enjoy gambling. Particularly craps and sportsbooks. But I hate being duped more.

Patsy Quinn Strikes Again
"A $64.7-million state deal last September to keep Navistar International Corp. in Illinois lacks a guarantee that the truck and engine maker won't cut jobs here," Crain's reports.

I suppose it's fitting that Quinn didn't get around to proclaiming June as Homeownership Month in Illinois until the 17th. You might say his calendar is under water.

Really, Roger?
"I have no way of knowing if Ryan Dunn was drunk at the time of his death," Ebert admits in response to the controversy he touched off by tweeting of the Jackass star's death, "Friends don't let jackasses drink and drive."

And yet, he finishes his piece, "Friends don't let friends drink and drive."

Yet another grudging non-apology apology.

Even if Dunn was drunk off his ass, the tweet is inappropriate. Did you really think that was an original thought, Roger? That no one else in America had made a similar, tasteless comment?

Chances are almost all of us had some such thought in our heads. And then we dispatched it instead of broadcasting it to the world.

For what gain, Roger?

Really, Jody?
"Former Chicago Police Supt. Jody Weis walked out with a $76,308 check for accrued vacation days when he resigned his $310,000-a-year job on March 1 - a lump-sum payment for 64 unused days that's raising eyebrows at City Hall," the Sun-Times reports.

Geez, did you take one of those police SUVs with you too? A few pairs of handcuffs? Your stapler? Raid the refrigerator on your way out?


"His former $168,438-a-year chief-of-staff Mike Masters left police headquarters with a check for $30,448. That's the equivalent of 54 unused vacation days . . .

"Contacted Monday about the vacation payment, Masters, now the homeland security chief for Cook County, referred questions to county spokesperson Jessey Neves, who argued that it is 'standard policy' for employees to be compensated for unused vacation time and that Masters' payment was 'vetted by both the Police Department and the city's budget office.'"

Dear Mr. Masters: You are the homeland security chief for Cook County and you're afraid to talk to Fran Spielman? How does that make us safer?


Other bigwigs who took unused vacation pay:

"Robert Sawicki, deputy chief administrative officer for the Chicago Board of Election Commissioners ($40,075); Former Deputy Police Superintendent Ted O'Keefe ($28,872); former Water Management Commissioner John Spatz ($26,807); former First Deputy Budget Director Andrea Gibson ($23,593); former First Assistant Corporation Counsel Karen Seimetz ($21,226); Sam Roti, commander of Daley's bodyguard detail, ($22,200); and Former Deputy Police Superintendent Peter Brust ($20,623).

"The list does not include a host of top mayoral aides who stayed on until Emanuel was sworn in May 16, including Corporation Counsel Mara Georges and longtime mayoral press secretary Jacquelyn Heard."

Oh, it's coming!

"Their vacation payments have not yet been processed. Nor have Daley holdovers who have postponed their departure dates until June 30 to sweeten their city pensions."

I wonder if Rahm thinks they're giving us the shaft.

It's Always About Ozzie
Most self-absorbed manager ever.

Media Trope
The Seven Dwarfs.

Darling Neko
Free concert on Saturday; enter for tickets today!

Like Steel Tadpoles
Two choppers converge south of Union Station.


The Beachwood Tip Line: Reversible shaft.


Posted on June 21, 2011

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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