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The [Tuesday] Papers

The report card issued by the Developing Government Accountability to the People project that we've excerpted from these last two days is a pretty amazing document.

For example, for all you hear about the mayor's vaunted remakes of Chicago public schools and public housing, the DGAP gives Mayor Daley a C on education policy and says "Chicago Public Schools are headed in the wrong direction," and issues a D+ on housing, finding that the city ranks 22nd nationally in affordable housing and that CHA's Plan for Transformation is, quite frankly, a mess.

It almost goes without saying that the mayor grades out at an F on ethics and corruption - and shouldn't that be enough to toss him out on his ass? - but he also gets an F in criminal justice. The report's summary of the problems within the Chicago Police Department only reinforces the fact that we're not that far from the days of Jon Burge - and that the mayor doesn't seem to care.

So what is the mayor good at - besides using power to bully, dominate, and co-opt dissent?

Well, he's really green, right? He'd like you to think so, but as Mick Dumke put it in the Reader recently, he's more accurately described as greenish. DGAP gives him a B+ for environmental policy - his highest grade. (The project didn't evaluate flowers, downtown power-washing, or mushroom-like condo development.)

In transportation, the mayor received a C, but that sure seems like grade inflation to me. After all, the CTA is in a state of utter meltdown, city streets are in a state of utter gridlock, and the O'Hare expansion project is in a state of utter contract cronyism as it sails ever higher overbudget with no hope at all of actually reducing delays or improving the area's air traffic management.

The mayor received a C+ for economic development. Did you know that one in five Chicagoans lives in poverty? One in five. These folks don't think the city has never looked better. And as Ben Joravsky has heroically and exhaustively shown, TIF districts are driving up your taxes while supplying the mayor with a secret slush fund.

The litany of corruption in 18 years under this mayor hardly needs repeating, nor the laundry list of world-class blunders, from Soldier Field to Meigs Field.

Perhaps what's worse than all of that, though, is the mayor's utter contempt for democracy. His refusal to debate any of his electoral opponents since 1989 is only of a piece with his refusal to honestly engage the media and the public in the most basic, fundamental discussion of city issues. He is, perhaps, the most cynical mayor in America.

(The next time you make fun of Todd Stroger's antics as Cook County President, remember that it was this mayor who put him there; Bill Beavers isn't the hog with the biggest nuts.)

The DGAP report isn't just a bitch list; it includes policy recommendations (including making Daley pay the fines for Meigs Field out of his own pocket) in its discussion, and also sheds light on who owns the city council - aside from the mayor. (The next time you make fun of the City Council, remember that the mayor either appointed or retains through his political team almost everyone one of 'em.)

Bored Press Corps
* Sun-Times columnist Mark Brown admits today that he's been "treating the mayoral race as an afterthought."

Perhaps that means it's time he gave up his column. After all, he's the paper's page two city columnist. You know, the one who's supposed to write about the mayor and stuff.

"That doesn't mean I've lost interest," Brown goes on, "but honestly, what is there to say?"

Honestly, I don't have enough room here to answer that. Should I send you my ideas?

"If you live in Chicago," he continues, "you know as much as me about your choices, about what's right with the city and what's wrong."

Then why are we reading you? Shouldn't they hire someone with some insight to do your job?

"Whatever insights I have were offered long ago."

Oh. So, this is your retirement speech?

* The Tribune's Eric Zorn also pleads "guilty" today to ignoring the campaign. 'I'm not complacent, but I am resigned," he writes, though in the midst of a spirited column about why he's voting against the mayor.

It's a spirit that's been missing in most of the Chicago media for far too long.

Daley's Contempt
"Daley defended his own low-profile re-election bid, saying that he is very busy on the campaign trail, but doesn't always invite the news media along," Brown writes.

"I don't need press to campaign," Daley said.

He prefers to campaign in private. You know, leave the public out of it.

CTA Blue
The CTA Bill of Rights written by Lamont Lynn of Evanston and sent to the Sun-Times is an inspired work I would have been proud to publish here. And I will if it still doesn't show up on the paper's website by the end of the day.

UPDATE 6:30 P.M.: Here is the link.

Photoshopped Britney
The amazing versatility of Britney Spears' bald head.

History for Dummies
Olbermann takes Condi to the woodshed.

"Use the Google!" he urges.

Poser Posters
This is one reason, but not the only one, that I'm uncomfortable with - and increasingly against - anonymous posters on news and commercial websites.

Cause and Effect
"Stroger Won Budget Battle - Now Wage War On Patronage," the Sun-Times editorialized on Monday.

How - using a time warp machine?

"Meetings Make Us Dumber, Study Shows."

Memo to Sun-Times editorial board: Meet less.

Welfare Rolls
"If the goal of welfare reform was to get people off the welfare rolls, bravo. If the goal was to reduce poverty and give people economic and job stability, it was not a success."

In Today's Reporter
* Cate Plys's open letter to Macy's about the Walnut Room.

* Scott Buckner on last night's episode of Wife Swap, pitting the Princess Party set against Deer Family Robinson.

* Bethany Lankin's brilliant Oscar fashion preview proved all too true.

* Jonathan Shipley's weekly magazine roundup spans Spin to Bon Appetit.

Election Day
The Replacements don't care who gets elected.

The Beachwood Tip Line: Plenty to say.


Posted on February 27, 2007

MUSIC - Christgau Loves Chicago Neonatologist.
TV - Amazon & The Way Of The World.
POLITICS - The Political Odds.
SPORTS - Another Week Of Trubisky Analysis.

BOOKS - Writers Under Surveillance.

PEOPLE PLACES & THINGS - Original Warrior.

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