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The [Tuesday] Papers

1. Searching For Signs Of The Underground Railroad On Chicago's Northwest Side.

"An urban archaeological dig is underway in Chicago's Old Irving Park neighborhood," WGN-TV reports.

"Lake Forest College Professor Rebecca Graff is leading a team of students searching for signs that the site may have been a stop on the Underground Railroad.

"The property at the corner of Grace Street and Kostner Avenue once belonged to John Gray, a Cook County sheriff who is said to have been an abolitionist."

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"Early settler John Gray, who served as a Jefferson Township trustee and was elected the first Republican sheriff of Cook County, built the place for his family," Mark Konkol wrote for DNAinfo Chicago in 2004.

"Sheriff Gray was well known for his strong abolitionist views. And legend has it he was involved in the Underground Railroad, a network of secret routes and safe houses that helped blacks escape slavery, according to a story published by the Irving Park Review in 1997.

"No one has been able to prove that Gray helped slaves escape to freedom. But in the basement, right under the front foyer, there's a secret room where construction workers found a deep hole, leading to a tunnel and recovered "artifacts" including braids of human hair, [a one-time resident] said."

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"David and Kris Cloud, who bought the farmhouse about two years ago, noticed parts of the home that supported the theory, which has been circulating for decades," Maya Miller reported for Chicago Tonight last year that anticipated today's dig.

"'There are quirks about the basement, like rooms that are not obvious to somebody who'd go down there,' David Cloud said. 'There is a dry well on a neighbor's property, and the supposition is that a tunnel runs from our house to that well.'"

2. More Barbara Byrd-Bennett Fallout.

"Chicago Public Schools is moving to debar a for-profit company that runs five small schools in Chicago after the inspector general found it improperly gained access to the school district's corrupt former leader and manipulated the district's contracting process," Sarah Karp reports for WBEZ.

"The company also failed to disclose the lobbyist that provided them the inside track and tried to 'blackball' one of its competitors, according a report released Tuesday by the school system's inspector general."

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"That 'highly unethical conduct' was essential for Camelot Education to open four CPS campuses several years ago, Inspector General Nicholas Schuler's office said in the report," the Tribune reports.

"Camelot now operates six schools in CPS, with a total of about 800 students, and the Texas-based company has received more than $67 million in district business, the IG said."

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"Schuler accused Camelot of quietly hiring Byrd-Bennett's co-defendants and former employers, Gary Solomon and Thomas Vranas, as paid lobbyists to help skirt CPS' procurement rules and with her aid, landing big contracts to open publicly-funded schools for students who've dropped out or are at risk of doing so," the Sun-Times notes.

3. Told Ya So, Part 1.

Monday shot: Item 9.

Tuesday chaser.

4. Trouble In 7-Eleven Paradise.

"It's known for its Slurpees and Big Gulps, but over the years, 7-Eleven has also put its logo on frozen pizza, foam cups, laundry detergent and hundreds of other products," the New York Times reports.

"Customers don't always choose these so-called private-label items, even though they are usually cheaper than competing products from companies like Nestlé and Gatorade. Franchisees who run nearly all of the 9,100 7-Eleven stores in the United States must stock the items anyway.

"At their annual convention in Kissimmee, Fla., last week, the franchisees cited the private-label items as just one way the company had made it hard for them to make money. They also criticized 7-Eleven for forcing a new contract on them that they said aggravated broader tensions over the suppliers they must use and how much they have to pay for the goods they sell in their stores.

"It's no longer, 'You make a dollar, we make a dollar,'" said Michael Jorgensen, the owner of three 7-Eleven stores in the area of St. Petersburg, Fla., and executive vice chairman of the National Coalition of Associations of 7-Eleven Franchisees. "The alignment of interests for 7-Eleven has changed."

It used to be about the music, man.

5. I Told Ya So, Part 2.

Bridget Gainer's purported reason for not pursuing the mayor's race was a laughable lie (Item 5) nonetheless dutifully forwarded by reporters with nary a hint of skepticism.

Now comes a report by the Sun-Times' Fran Spielman with the ring of truth, both because it makes eminent sense and because it gibes with my own understanding of events.

She took a leave of absence from her six-figure job at Aon, assembled a campaign staff - including a new fundraiser to replace the one lured away by mayoral allies - and commissioned a poll she claimed showed that Mayor Rahm Emanuel "can't win."

Well, no poll like that exists in the universe; the poll probably shows what every other poll does - that Emanuel is unpopular and vulnerable, though I've yet to see anyone poll better than him in a head-to-head (which is premature anyway, but just sayin'). But I digress.

Then suddenly, Bridget Gainer pulled the plug on her race for mayor with a claim that she could have a bigger impact continuing her economic development work on the Cook County Land Bank.

What is the real reason behind Gainer's about-face? And who does it help the most in the crowded race for mayor of Chicago?

Gainer, who has dreamed of becoming mayor of Chicago almost since childhood, could not be reached for comment on Monday.

Imagine that! She already produced her prepared, pat paragraphs and isn't interested in further questioning!

Sources who have spoken to her said she has alluded to yet another negative that was about to drop that might damage her political reputation out of the gate.

The upcoming story reportedly centers around "Off the Sidelines Chicago" - a civic-impact-organization-turned-political-action-committee for women that Gainer created in 2015 with U.S. Sen.Kirsten Gillibrand.

Sources said Gainer recently received a Freedom of Information request about, among other things, work that several of her County Board employees may have done for the Off the Sidelines Chicago PAC on county time.

Already, Gainer had two recent strikes against her.

Earlier this year, the Chicago Sun-Times and ABC 7 disclosed that Gainer had the worst attendance record on the Cook County Board. Gainer made that story worse by using a "working mother" defense.

The second strike occurred when the Sun-Times disclosed that, since 2013, the three vehicles registered to Gainer's Lakeview home have been ticketed nearly 200 times for speed camera, red-light camera and parking violations.

"With the absenteeism answer and with the city ticket thing, she didn't really acquit herself very well. Those two little episodes are like a mosquito bite compared to the bruising you take in a real mayoral campaign with the dirty politics and the klieg lights of the Chicago media on you," said a source familiar with the political intrigue.

True. Gainer comes out of this race tainted - and she didn't even run!

Gainer's gilded path through Chicago government and politics was paved by her father, a former longtime AT&T lobbyist who was a close friend of former Mayors Richard M. Daley and Richard J. Daley.

Bridget Gainer worked for Daley and rose to become director of lakefront services for the Chicago Park District.

When Mike Quigley resigned from the County Board after winning a special election to fill the congressional seat Emanuel relinquished to become then-President Barack Obama's first White House chief of staff, Democratic ward committeemen chose Gainer to replace Quigley.

"Bridget comes from a background where there isn't a ton of political risk that is really taken. The system is worked. People are appointed, announced," said an Emanuel ally, noting that there are "no free passes" to the fifth floor of City Hall.

Okay, but it's not like Emanuel hasn't had a greased path himself, c'mon.

A longtime Gainer ally rejected the characterization of the county commissioner as someone who wasn't willing to fight for the mayor's job.

In fact, Gainer had already replaced her longtime fundraiser Katelyn Duncan after Duncan was lured away by, what one Gainer ally called a "ridiculous salary" offered by the nonprofit that calls itself "Progress Chicago."

The same nonprofit has been running ads starring Chicago Public Schools CEO Janice Jackson.

But, in recent meetings with allies, sources said Gainer was strangely unable to articulate why she was running for mayor and what exactly she would do differently.

"It was all negative on Rahm, but nothing about her. She had no energy . . . I could tell when she walked out that she wasn't going to run because she didn't have the passion for it. She didn't have a story," the Democratic operative said.

Maybe, but . . . it's not hard to articulate for anyone to articulate a different approach than Rahm's: Care about people!

Gainer's politics appear to be more progressive than Rahm's; that part shouldn't be hard. Is she less antagonistic? Is she less of a control freak? Does she have the skills for the bigness of the job? I have no idea. But an awful lot of people have talked her up for an awful lot of years.

A Gainer ally said she was "showing signs of having second thoughts" in recent days, apparently tied to the fact that she has a "couple of kids going into high school."

After assessing "quality of life stuff," Gainer ultimately decided that she "wasn't willing to do it," the source said.

"She got to the point where she felt that doing that job was something she wouldn't wish on her worst enemy," the Gainer ally said.

I find this hard to believe. She grew up a political animal from a political family. If anyone in or near the race knows what it takes, it's her.

Yet another source pointed to Gainer's miniscule showing in polls conducted by the Emanuel and Lori Lightfoot camps. Both polls showed fired Chicago Police Supt. Garry McCarthy as Emanuel's most likely runoff opponent.

But our esteemed press corps just told me how much name recognition Gainer has and how many votes she could scoop up from the North, Northwest and Southwest Sides (read: white people)!

McCarthy had 70 percent name recognition in Lightfoot's poll. He's not going to win 70 percent of the vote, or even half that, or probably not even half of half of that.

In that poll, Gainer was just behind Lightfoot - at about 2 percent.

Although Gainer ended the quarterly fundraising period with $843,265 in the bank, she would likely have needed to raise at least $5 million more, minimum, to raise her profile.

So when Gainer told the Tribune in an "exclusive" that she was opting out of the race that "[W]hen I went back to what is the impact I really want to make in a job and where is the best place to do it, this is the conclusion that we came to. It wasn't anything more dramatic than that," she was lying.

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Also not sure how this would have played for Gainer: "I think very highly of Daley."

The city's not in the mood for that.

6. Obama Center Bait And Switch.

"Herb Caplan should know better than to fight City Hall, but when he spots what he considers a political fast one in Chicago, he just can't help himself," Crain's reports.

That's why Protect Our Parks, a Chicago nonprofit he leads, is suing the city and Chicago Park District to stop the Obama Presidential Center from being built in Jackson Park. Caplan, 87, who once worked as a lawyer for former Mayor Harold Washington, calls the city plan to lease 19 Jackson Park acres to former President Barack Obama's foundation for $1 a "political manipulation" that breaks the law by handing over public land and tramples the city's legacy of open parks.

The federal lawsuit filed in May might seem a legal long shot, since the center is an ode to Obama, the city's favorite son. But Caplan's challenge forced the city last month to reveal that the Obama Center isn't quite the done deal that many Chicagoans think it is: The city hasn't reached key agreements or a lease with the foundation, and those pacts will require another new city ordinance to be passed sometime soon.

Go read the rest.

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Also:

"Groundbreaking on the Obama Presidential Center in Jackson Park is being pushed back again until all federal approvals are completed, which will not be until 2019," the Sun-Times reports.

"We have long said that everything we do in this process will be consistent with our approach to community input and engagement," a foundation spokesman said. "We continue to work through the federal review process and to engage with the public on our plans. We are eager to break ground as soon as possible, which we currently expect to occur in 2019."

Geez, the Lucas Museum has already had its groundbreaking!

7. Lisa Madigan For President.

"Over nearly a year of negotiations, Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan and Mayor Rahm Emanuel's offices reached agreement on hundreds of provisions included in the proposed court agreement to oversee reforms in the Chicago Police Department released late last week," the Tribune reports.

"Emanuel initially tried to cut an out-of-court deal for police reforms with President Donald Trump's administration. Madigan called that attempt 'ludicrous' and sued City Hall to ensure the reforms would be enforced by a federal court. Emanuel then agreed to enter negotiations with the attorney general.

Madigan and Emanuel on Friday released the product of those talks - a draft of a consent decree that would dictate reforms in the Police Department with the oversight of an independent monitor and a federal judge. The mayor and attorney general both declared this latest attempt to overhaul the Police Department finally would be the one that sticks.

But when asked about the gun-pointing issue at their Friday afternoon news conference, Madigan and Emanuel's differences on the topic became clear.

At first, Madigan said she and Emanuel agreed not to "litigate this in front of the press," and she declined to address the matter other than to say the two would continue negotiations.

Emanuel then stepped to the podium and said that neither the Obama Justice Department's final report nor a report by the mayor's own Police Accountability Task Force raised the gun-pointing issue - "unlike other agreements and consent decrees in other cities, where the Justice Department did mention it."

Emanuel finished his point by saying he didn't think he was "litigating" the dispute at the news conference, to which Madigan replied, "You kind of are."

Ha.

*

By the way . . .

"Madigan then had the final word on the matter, sternly insisting that no provision in the consent decree - including recording when an officer points a gun - would 'compromise officer safety.'

"For those of you who have read the (Justice Department) report, you know that they have found that there have been unreasonable uses of force in our city. And one of the things they very specifically talk about is the fact that CPD in the past had not kept a record of use of force," Madigan said. "If somebody has a gun pointed at them, you have a situation where somebody has been seized. We need to know when that is happening. We need to know where that is happening. We need to make sure that we are managing that risk, that officers are following and receiving the training they need, that they are held accountable and they are not putting themselves in unsafe situations, and that residents of the city of Chicago are not in unsafe situations."

*

Also:

"Mayoral candidate Lori Lightfoot is a former federal prosecutor, served as president of the Chicago Police Board and was appointed by Emanuel to co-chair the Police Accountability Task Force. Asked about Emanuel's contention that the gun-pointing issue was not mentioned in either the Justice or task force report, she responded: 'So what?'

"If there's a need, there's a need. Both the task force report and the Justice report were comprehensive, but neither were purported to cover every single issue," Lightfoot said. "This is an issue that was born of a lot of community conversation where people felt like they weren't safe and that officers were pulling guns in a fashion that made them uncomfortable. Why would we not respond to what people on the ground are saying?"

8. What Police Torture Looks Like.

9. "Soak Up The Sun" originally had a gun in it.

10. Letter From Pittsburgh: REO Plays The Hits; Chicago Goes Deep.

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New on the Beachwood today . . .

Chicageotry: A Tree Grows In Peotone
And within it rests a bird named Tomorrow.

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Pardon These Heroes, President Trump
"Few Americans have been more 'unfairly treated by the justice system.'"

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The Rulification - And Reform - Of Penalty Kicks
There are rules people and there are judgement people.

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The Political Odds
Updated to reflect recent developments.

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Does Vietnam Deserve An Emmy?
"This exercise in reliving the past and calling forth old ghosts will be labeled another curious artifact if we don't do something with it."

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The Weekend In Chicago Rock
Featuring: Art Harrison's Bluegrass All-Stars, My Bloody Valentine, Matchess, Ulla Straus, Apic, House of Atreus, Wiz Khalifa, Death and Memphis, Redline Messiah, Old Man White Van, The Alarm, Erasure, Wang Chung, LiveWire, Paul Rodgers, Jeff Beck, and Ann Wilson.

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Coffman: Roquan Is Wrong
One thing we know for certain: stalemates are lame.

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A Sweet New Century For America's Most Privileged
Something's gone horribly wrong.

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ChicagoGram

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ChicagoTube

"Cj Williams AKA Black Attack from Chicago Crooks Crew came into teach for our annual Summer Camp intensive. 2 hours of stretching, footwork warm ups, followed by a flare and headspin tutorial."

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BeachBook

The Big Mac Is 50.

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TweetWood
A sampling.

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The Beachwood Tronc Line: And a sesame seed bun.



Permalink

Posted on July 31, 2018


MUSIC - The Week In Chicago Rock.
TV - Sinclair-Tribune Deal Dead!
POLITICS - Bullshit Kavanaugh Rhetoric.
SPORTS - Beachwood Sports Radio: Bears Fail Audition.

BOOKS - Arne Duncan, Unreliable Narrator.

PEOPLE PLACES & THINGS - Foxconn Flooding Alert.


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