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The [Tuesday] Papers

Barack Obama and his campaign spurned questions from the Sun-Times for more than a month about dilapidated low-income housing built in his state senate district by political patron Tony Rezko.

At a South Side campaign stop on Monday, Obama finally spoke: "Should I have known that these buildings were in a state of disrepair? My answer would be that it wasn't brought to my attention."

Of course, complaints about slumlords are usually directed at aldermen and/or the city housing department, as Obama noted in separate comments to the Tribune.

Once again, though, Obama is skirting the issue.

First, a true grass-roots progressive wouldn't have been wrapped in the warm embrace of Rezko - an insider's insider - to begin with. Second, he would've taken a greater interest in the district he was elected to represent.

"While I was a state senator, he had buildings in my district that apparently were not managed properly. I had no knowledge of that at the time," Obama told the Sun-Times.

Why not? Rezko's development company had received more than $100 million in loans from the city, the state, and the federal government. A third of the 30 properties were in his district. Obama's law firm did work netting $43 million of those loans for 15 of the buildings. The city repeatedly sued Rezko's firm over problems that included buildings with no heat. And as today's Sun-Times installment shows, an all-star cast of political notables was involved in Rezko's deals. Does Obama really want to claim/admit he was oblivious - even as he was cashing checks from Rezko, whom he has referred to as a "political godfather"?

It strains credulity, though it fits the pattern of Obama as an innocent who's always the last to know about the evil that lurks around him. Such a smart guy, too.

After all, the players in the slumlord caper include familiar names such as Tim Degnan, Robert Kjellander, Sharon Gist Gilliam (now CEO of the CHA), Allison Davis, Leon Finney Jr., Bishop Arthur Brazier, and Harris Bank.

Obama was just, um, out of the loop?

"One of the perils of public life is that you end up being responsible for, or you're held responsible for, associations that you didn't necessarily know were a problem," he told the Tribune.

Obama never realized just who Tony Rezko was?

It reminds of the old story about the scorpion and the frog.

But the more I think about it, I'm not sure which one is Obama.

Daley's Deal
"So why did the city keep lending Rezko's company more tax dollars?" the Sun-Times asks. "'During the time he did work with us - and that was many years ago - there was nothing to indicate there was a problem,' Daley spokeswoman Jacquelyn Heard said.

"In fact, there was. City Hall attorneys repeatedly went to court to force Rezmar to make repairs to its buildings and, in some cases, to get the heat turned on."

In the Trunk
"Moody's Cuts Tribune Rating Deeper Into Junk."

- Crain's Chicago Business

"Moody Tribune Cutting, Back On Junk"

- Tim Willette

Editor's Prerogative
"A number of you have asked me how we could cut jobs to save millions of dollars at a time when a group of unnamed executives will reap bonuses and stock grants worth millions when the change of ownership is complete," says a memo written by Jim O'Shea, the man sent by the corporate bosses to edit the Los Angeles Times after two publishers and two editors resigned rather than succumb to further unconsionable budget cuts. "I cannot - and will not defend any such bonuses. Frankly, I can understand why you are angry about these plans."

A) "On the other hand, my compensation package is quite nice."
B) "And I'll take it up with my bosses next chance I get."
C) "Because we're not in the business of naming names."

Daley Disses
1. The mayor picked his 11th chief of staff in 18 years, proving once again what a great manager he is. The press corps once again humiliated itself.

"Asked by a reporter why he's gone through so many chiefs of staffs, Daley insulted the questioner," Fran Spielman reports.

"This job is a very demanding job," the mayor said. "It's not like your job - very easy . . . We don't see you at night, on weekends or holidays. These people work very hard. That's why I've been fortunate to have great chiefs of staff [who] work very hard, seven days a week, almost 24 hours a day. That's what government's all about. It's not leisure jobs like you have."

Perfectly appropriate responses apparently not offered:

A) You don't think it's hard keeping track of all your scandals?
B) Let me tell you something, Mr. Mayor, it's not easy sitting here being lied to every day.
C) Fuck you.

2. "Daley was asked if he believes his refusal to grant [Inspector General David] Hoffman's request [for more investigators] could endanger the court settlement, but he walked away without answering."

A) Barack Obama commended the mayor for the smallness of his politics.
B) The mayor didn't hear the question because he was laughing so hard about calling reporters' jobs easy.
C) Now that the election is over, and the media has done his bidding for the Olympics, he will go back to not answering questions instead of lying.

3. A few journalists ask me, well, what are we supposed to do? Here are a few ideas.

- Don't glorify the mayor as a "demanding" boss when in fact he's clearly managerially dysfunctional.
- Spend a day with an eight-year-old and compare it to a day with the mayor.
- Front page box every day: "1,428 days since the mayor said he doesn't know who hired Angelo Torres."
- Front page profile: "Daley Is A Mean, Lying Prick."

I mean, I could go on and on. Show some friggin' backbone. File Freedom of Information requests on everything in sight and litigate to get them filled. Assign a truth squad to vet every claim the mayor makes. Honestly describe the mayor's behavior at press conferences, and put those accounts on front page. Stop attending his press conferences; they're designed for him anyway, not you. And frankly, you don't need them to report the news. Like I said, I could go on and on. In short, be a newspaper.

Obama 's Foreign Policy
"Answering his critics who have suggested his policies remain vague, Obama outlined five basic principles for his own global strategy, should he be elected president in 2008," Jennifer Hunter "reported."

Yes, I can certainly see how this speech answers critics. The answer is: You're right.

The Beachwood Tip Line: Use at your leisure.


Posted on April 24, 2007

MUSIC - Who's Next In Chicago Rap.
TV - Tribune-Nexstar Deal Is Bad News.
POLITICS - Big Soda Hates You.
SPORTS - Harold vs. the Haters.

BOOKS - Wright Brothers, Wrong Story!

PEOPLE PLACES & THINGS - Go Ahead, Eat Raw Cookie Dough!

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