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The [Tuesday] Papers

Illinois' "top doc" wants men (and presumably women) to take their health seriously, even as the state is eliminating health coverage for 25,000 families.

*

Maybe those families should have promised to create jobs instead of merely promising to stay alive. That's what Bruce DuMont did when he landed a $6 million state grant for his oft-beleaguered Museum of Broadcast Communications - and just 15 full-time and four part-time at that.

"DuMont now expects the museum to open to the public with 11 part-time workers," the Tribune reports.

I wonder if any of them will have health insurance.

*

"Asked by e-mail to explain the discrepancy between the number of museum staff jobs promised by his project and the number actually created, DuMont wrote: 'If the MBC can manage our operations with fewer people and do so efficiently, we will do so, just like the Chicago Tribune has done.'"

First, why was he asked this only by e-mail? Later the story says he was interviewed.

Second, with all due respect to Mr. DuMont, you are an ass. The last time I looked, the Tribune wasn't the recipient of millions of taxpayers' dollars.

*

"DuMont said in an interview that the museum's opening also will create jobs for waiters, hotel employees and other service workers who will attend to museum visitors."

Right. I'm sure downtown restaurants are scheduling extra shifts as we speak.

*

"In DuMont's estimation, even inspiring young people to pursue careers in television falls under the definition of creating jobs.

"'I think inspiration is a form of job creation,' DuMont said, 'because it changes one life.'"

Well, in that case shouldn't the state buy everyone cable?

*

"Marcelyn Love, the spokeswoman for the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, said that 'construction and construction-related jobs' are the main type of employment that the state hoped to create with the Illinois Jobs Now package that included the museum's $6 million.

"The $31 billion package, signed by Gov. Pat Quinn in 2009, is expected to 'create and support' 439,000 jobs over six years, Love said. Questioned about the $6 million spent on the museum, Love said the money was 'to assist the Museum of Broadcast Communications with the completion of its new facility and support Illinois' thriving tourism industry' and called the expected jobs creation 'an added benefit.'"

Really? Maybe someone should apply for a grant to fund a Museum of Added Benefits.

*

Actually, I wonder if I could get a grant to create a Museum of Jobs, whose sole mission would be to employ people. Nearby stores and restaurants would thrive by attending to the needs of my workers.

Also, it would inspire other people to create jobs.

*

"Asked whether Quinn's office sees the museum's Jobs Now grant as a success, Quinn's spokeswoman Annie Thompson said in a statement: 'We are pleased to be part of this project, which put people to work. The museum will help support our thriving tourism industry, which is an enormous economic engine, for years to come.'"

I wonder what it's like to have a communications job whose main purpose is to not communicate.

*

Did the museum put people to work though - at least temporarily - like the 180-200 construction workers cited by DuMont?

"Pepper Construction Co., which built the museum, referred questions to DuMont and did not respond to attempts to verify his figures."

*

"David Merriman, associate director of the Institute of Government and Public Affairs at the University of Illinois, suggested that without DuMont's project, some other developer would likely have taken over the museum site at 360 N. State St., which was formerly occupied by a parking garage."

Someone who would have created more than 11 part-time jobs without asking for $6 million in taxpayer money.

*

"I don't think anyone can seriously argue that this was done for job creation," state Rep. Jack Franks (D-Marengo) told the Tribune.

Then why was it done? Isn't that the logical follow-up?

*

"The museum, like many American museums, also received other public funding in addition to the $6 million in job creation grants: two grants from the state totaling $3.9 million, as well as a series of smaller grants over the past decade."

I hope those are put on display, too; right between Charlie McCarthy and the old set of the Bozo show.

Generally Assembling
"Two of the most powerful legislators in Springfield ran their private businesses out of the offices of a crooked government contractor, according to documents obtained by the Chicago Sun-Times," the paper reports.

Two of the most powerful legislators in Springfield. We're not talking Derrick Smith here.

"State Rep. Edward Acevedo and state Sen. Tony Munoz won't say why they had desks and computers for their businesses in the Southwest Side offices of Azteca Supply Co., whose owner and her husband await sentencing in a minority-contract fraud scheme.

"The two Chicago Democrats - who each hold the title of assistant majority leader in the Illinois Legislature - have never listed the 4500 S. Kolin Ave. address on any business filings with the state of Illinois. Nor have they reported any business ties to Azteca on the financial disclosure forms that they are required to file each year with the legislature.

"But an Azteca employee-turned-government-informant told the FBI that Acevedo and Munoz kept the desks and computers for their businesses at Azteca's offices, according to a recently unsealed search warrant that led to the indictment and convictions of Azteca president Aurora Venegas and her husband, Thomas Masen."

Now, it's not illegal to have a desk at a dirty company [though, as a reader points out, those financial disclosure forms may pose a problem even if the statue requiring them doesn't provide for a penalty for noncompliance - it's Schrodinger's statute!]. It's just . . . uh . . . suspicious.

"The informant told federal investigators that the two lawmakers 'acted as consultants/lobbyists' for the crooked contractor, according to a sworn statement FBI Special Agent Julia E. Meredith wrote to obtain the search warrant for the July 17, 2008, FBI raid on the offices of Azteca, which got millions of dollars in work from the city of Chicago and was the largest female-owned subcontractor on Mayor Richard M. Daley's O'Hare Modernization Project."

Consultant, lobbyist, legislator; what's the difference?

"FBI agents searched Azteca's desks, computers, credenzas, file cabinets and vehicles, but they did not search the two desks and computers belonging to Acevedo and Munoz, according to the records, which had been kept under seal since 2008 . . . FBI spokeswoman Joan Hyde says investigators 'did not have probable cause to be looking' at the two men's computers nearly four years ago."

Couldn't they just have invented probable cause, like they do for fake terrorists?

*

"Acevedo wouldn't talk with a Sun-Times reporter seeking comment. Munoz didn't return messages left for him."

They were too busy majorly assisting the Democratic leadership in Springfield.

*

"Acevedo and Munoz are both 48 and both are cops on leave from the Chicago Police Department while serving in the Illinois Legislature. Both men were leaders of Daley's now-defunct Hispanic Democratic Organization."

Perfect.

"Venegas and her company had given money in the past to both politicians' campaign funds. Munoz got $10,470. Acevedo got $1,050, and Venegas also hosted campaign fundraisers for him."

Well, they gotta get paid for all that consulting, lobbying and legislating.

"Venegas falsely represented that she owned and ran Azteca giving the company a leg up on obtaining government contracts set aside for businesses owned and operated by women, according to federal prosecutors and City Hall's inspector general. Her husband admitted lying to the FBI about his role in the company."

Acevedo and Munoz probably had no idea who was really running the company they worked for . . . er, at.

"Prosecutors initially accused Azteca of fraudulently receiving more than $9.5 million tied to contracts between 2001 and 2008.

"Venegas, 63, pleaded guilty last year to a charge involving a $57,000 landscaping contract with the village of Orland Park. Masen, 67, pleaded guilty to lying to federal authorities when he denied he was helping his wife run a phony woman-owned business to win government contracts, with other companies actually doing the work.

"Azteca had other government deals to provide everything from concrete pipes at O'Hare Airport to chemicals to treat Chicago's drinking water, as well as deals to dispose of feminine-hygiene products at O'Hare and work on the reconstruction of the Dan Ryan Expressway."

*

"Azteca leased the space in the office and warehouse building on South Kolin from developer Calvin Boender, who has since gone to prison for bribing then-Ald. Isaac Carothers (29th)."

The only thing that can make it better at this juncture is if Bruce DuMont is involved.

*

"Venegas gave Munoz a desk to operate his company, Urban Risk Management & Consulting Services Inc.

"Acevedo used his desk to operate his company, Vallarta Consulting Group, according to the search warrant. When the FBI raided the offices on South Kolin, there were two names on the door - Azteca Supply Co. and Vallarta Consulting Group.

"Acevedo listed himself as president of Vallarta on his most recent legislative financial disclosure statement, filed last year. He didn't say what Vallarta does."

I think it has something to do with used tampons and highway girders.

"Vallarta's current address is listed as the South Loop condo of attorney Meribeth Mermall, who founded the company in December 2003 while working as an assistant Cook County state's attorney."

I'd especially like to welcome members of the Illinois law enforcement community to this story!

"Mermall, who now works as a lobbyist for Commonwealth Edison, is also a manager of Vallarta, according to state records. Her daughter works for Acevedo's legislative office, according to the daughter's Facebook page."

A) This is more complicated than Mike Martz's playbook.

B) Stephen Hawking is still working out the equations.

C) It's a cozy quilt we weave.

"Mermall, 53, did not return messages."

Was he acting in the capacity of a ComEd lobbyist or a manager of a state legislator's consulting business when he refused to answer questions?

*

"Acevedo wrote a letter on his official state letterhead on Sept. 12, 2006, encouraging City Hall to certify Venegas and her company as a woman-owned business.

"'She is one of the finest, most well-rounded individuals I know,' Acevedo wrote, singling out 'Aurora's ethics and willingness to go one step farther.'"

*

"At the time he wrote that letter, Acevedo was suing the city, claiming that his civil rights were violated by a fellow Chicago police officer who arrested the lawmaker during a scuffle at an auto pound in August 2001. City Hall paid a private law firm $132,363 to fight Acevedo's suit, which was thrown out by judge, reinstated by the appeals court and then rejected by a federal jury in September 2007."

Acevedo has been re-elected eight times.

Roger Waters at Wrigley
One of the most remarkable tours in rock history.

The Thunder Are Villainous Too
Hate LeBron, Boycott Starbucks.

Wavy Gravy
Chicagoan Shoves Enough Baby Back Ribs Down His Gullet To Set World Record.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Ultra-hygenic.



Permalink

Posted on June 12, 2012


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SPORTS - Saturday's 'Greatest Horse Since Secretariat.'

BOOKS - Bannon, The Best And The Brightest.

PEOPLE PLACES & THINGS - Beachwood Photo Booth: Descending Darkly.


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