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The [Tuesday] Papers

"The U.S. Attorney's office will monitor next week's primary election in Chicago and the surrounding suburbs," AP reports.

To save time, winning candidates will be asked to select their prison now.

*

Englewood, Colorado is expected to see a drop in demand because of the risk of ending up this guy's cellie.

*

Officials reportedly are considering removing pillows from Blago's cell due to the good chance his cellmate will use one to smother him.

*

Rahm's thoughts are with Blago's family - you know, Dick Mell and Patti the star real estate broker. Us? Furthest thing from his mind.

*

"According to Rep. Rahm Emanuel, D-Ill., Mr. Obama's incoming White House chief of staff, Emanuel, then-state senator Obama, a third Blagojevich aide, and Blagojevich's campaign co-chair, David Wilhelm, were the top strategists of Blagojevich's 2002 gubernatorial victory," Jake Tapper reported for ABC News in December 2008.

"Emanuel told the New Yorker earlier this year that he and Obama 'participated in a small group that met weekly when Rod was running for governor. We basically laid out the general election, Barack and I and these two.'

"Wilhelm said that Emanuel had overstated Obama's role. 'There was an advisory council that was inclusive of Rahm and Barack but not limited to them,' Wilhelm said, and he disputed the notion that Obama was 'an architect or one of the principal strategists.'

"(An Obama Transition Team aide e-mails to note that Emanuel later changed his recollection of this story to Rich Miller's Capitol Fax, saying, 'David [Wilhelm] and I have worked together on campaigns for decades. Like always, he's right and I'm wrong.')"

So Rahm took credit when it reflected well on him and begged off when it reflected poorly on him - and Obama. A boastful exaggerator or a liar - in either his initial claim or his amended "recollection."

Park Place
"Mayor Rahm Emanuel took the wraps off a five-year, $290 million capital plan that will bring new parks, fieldhouses, artificial soccer turf and other recreational improvements within 10 minutes of every Chicago resident," Fran Spielman enthuses for the Sun-Times.

"'It's a unique time in our city's history without a single large project downtown [so there's an opportunity] to make an unprecedented investment in . . . communities where our residents live,' the mayor told a news conference at Yates Elementary School, 1839 N. Richmond."

Because there's nothing else urgent on the to-do list.

Click through to read the rest of the press release (barely) rewritten by Spielman.

Camera Coinkydink
"When Rahm Emanuel was a first-time candidate for Congress, Greg Goldner was behind him, quietly marshaling the patronage troops that helped get him elected," the Tribune reports. "When Emanuel ran for mayor, Goldner was there again, doling out campaign cash to elect Emanuel-friendly aldermen to City Council.

"And when the rookie mayor was looking for community support for his school reform agenda, there was Goldner, working behind the scenes with the ministers who backed Emanuel's plan.

"Now, it turns out the longtime allies share another interest - the installation of automated speed cameras in Chicago.

"As consultant to the firm that already supplies Chicago its red-light cameras, Goldner is the architect of a nationwide campaign to promote his client's expansion prospects. That client, Redflex Traffic Systems Inc., is well-positioned to make tens of millions of dollars from Emanuel's controversial plan to convert many of the red-light cameras into automated speed cameras."

Of course, everyone involved says there is no connection. But follow the bouncing ball . . .

"In late 2010, as Emanuel was launching his campaign to replace Daley, Goldner formed a political action committee, For a Better Chicago, to help elect a pro-Emanuel City Council. The lawyer who helped set up the PAC, Michael Kasper, was defending Emanuel against a ballot challenge that nearly knocked him out of the mayor's race.

"Kasper is a state lobbyist for Goldner's camera client, Redflex, an Australian company that counts Chicago as is its largest U.S. customer . . .

"Goldner and Kasper both said they never talked to Emanuel about the camera issue."

As if that would be necessary.

*

"[B]y last fall the interests of Resolute, Redflex and Emanuel had officially converged - though it would be nearly impossible for the public to know.

"The Emanuel administration has repeatedly denied Tribune requests for public records related to the speed-camera push, releasing a small fraction of the requested information months after the mayor's bill was passed by state lawmakers.

"Redacted city e-mail shows Kasper, Redflex's lobbyist, had suggested changes in the Emanuel speed-camera bill.

"Resolute got on board with the mayor's push after he announced it, Goldner said. The firm said it has since provided the city with data and 'talking points' on the issue."

Data that the city won't release to the media or the city council.

*

"[U]ntil now, Resolute's role as a primary player in the national traffic camera debate has been largely unpublicized - including its efforts here.

"Most of the firm's work on the issue is done through the Traffic Safety Coalition, a group it created with funding from Redflex that seeks to establish support across the country by forging relationships with law enforcement, pedestrian-friendly groups and relatives of pedestrians killed by errant drivers."

In other words, astroturf. (Paging David Axelrod!)

*

"Resolute Consulting was first hired by Redflex in late 2009 amid a successful effort to fend off a backlash in the Illinois Legislature that could have resulted in a statewide ban on red-light cameras.

"In its filings with the Australian Securities Exchange, Redflex said, 'In Illinois, a firm was engaged to manage the media interface, develop an advocacy to write letters to the editor, blog on a micro-site about street safety, and be ready to testify in committee hearings.' The company confirmed that firm is Resolute.

"Within weeks of being hired, Resolute was producing news releases sent out under the name of the Traffic Safety Coalition. The coalition is based at Resolute offices in Chicago, and Goldner confirmed Redflex is the coalition's sole financial supporter."

So the Traffic Safety Coalition = Redflex. Redflex hired Goldner. Goldner = Rahm. Just doing the math here.

*

"The news releases touted the effectiveness of automated traffic cameras and described the coalition as 'a grass-roots organization comprised of public safety professionals, law enforcement officials, victim's advocates, health care professionals, academics and industry leaders."

Which is probably how Spielman wrote it up.

*

"Goldner acknowledged last week that the coalition's strategic model involves an early appearance in markets that interest Redflex, building community support, finding examples of children victimized by errant drivers, videotaping their parents and then asking sympathetic policymakers to file a bill or pass an ordinance in support of automated traffic cameras."

Emphasis mine.

*

A Tribune analysis, though, found that "a federal database of pedestrian fatalities in crashes showed that Emanuel's proposal would have a limited impact on fatalities. Of the 251 pedestrian deaths in the city between 2005 and 2009, fewer than half occurred in the 'safety zones' where cameras would be located, and fewer than one-fourth of those involved speeding."

It was H.L. Mencken who famously said "When you hear somebody say, 'This is not about money' - it's about money."

*

"By late May, less than two weeks after Emanuel was inaugurated, the city's transportation commissioner, Gabe Klein, sent the first of more than 500 city emails on the issue of speed cameras, according to a log provided to the Tribune.

"One of Klein's top deputies at the time was John Bills, who ran the city's red-light camera program and played an instrumental role in Redflex's city contracts.

"By late September, Bills had quit his city post and begun doing consulting work for Resolute and the Traffic Safety Coalition."

Maybe it was about the kids.

*

"By mid-September . . . Emanuel's proposal was already quietly under review in the Statehouse, the Tribune has learned. It wouldn't become public until October."

That was part of the strategic model.

*

"In pushing state lawmakers to support speed cameras, Emanuel said he needed to move fast to save children's lives."

Corollary to Mencken: When they say it's not about the money, it's about the money. When they say it's about the children, it's not about the children.

*

"It's an argument he continues to make, despite questions about the accuracy of safety statistics the mayor uses."

Link mine. (I know what I'm getting the Tribune for Christmas!)

*

"Goldner's resume in bare-knuckle Chicago politics dates to his time as a political aide for Daley. After leaving to form Resolute, Goldner was Daley's 2003 campaign manager and a consultant to the Hispanic Democratic Organization, a patronage army that provided campaign muscle for Daley.

"In a federal investigation of City Hall hiring, a former high-ranking city official who admitted to running a patronage army testified in 2006 that he took election-season orders from Daley operatives including Goldner, whose firm was subpoenaed by prosecutors for records. He also testified that he led city patronage workers who helped elect Emanuel to Congress in 2002, with Goldner as the campaign manager."

Link mine.

*

"About the time he was launching the PAC to support Emanuel's latest campaign, Goldner also dedicated some of his firm's resources to supporting a push for longer school days and more charter schools - key planks in Emanuel's school reform agenda.

"Goldner recently acknowledged to the Tribune that he coordinated with ministers who have delivered busloads of witnesses to testify in favor of the mayor's proposals at public hearings."

Link mine, but more to the point, those ministers paid homeless people and others who had no idea what they were supposed to be "protesting" to go pretend they were concerned parents.

(Real noise is dismissed as merely associated with change; fake noise is paid for with change and to be taken seriously.)

*

So maybe Rahm feels a little something extra in his gut watching Rod Blagojevich prepare for prison. There but for the grace of Patrick Fitzgerald, goes he someday.

The Traveling Kings Of Chicago
From the golden age of gospel quartets.

Evolution Of The Happy Meal
While supplies lasted.

Stunting In Washington Park
American Graffiti.

The Blackout Diaries
Drunken tales of ill repute.

Taller! Faster! Steeper!
The best teases of Midwest roller coasters.

Feds Let BP Off The Hook
Heckuva job, Barry!

-

The Beachwood Tip Line: While supplies last.



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Posted on March 13, 2012


MUSIC - The Week In Chicago Rock.
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SPORTS - Beachwood Sports Radio: Dear Cubs, Make It Stop.

BOOKS - Meet Chicago's American Writers Museum.

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