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The [Tuesday] Papers

This is far more important to Chicago's chances of landing the 2016 Olympics than missing boxers or botched ambulance runs - the underplayed part of the Chicago Marathon debacle:

"Chicago has the ingredients for developing a world-class transportation system, but unless reinvestment begins promptly, the city may have few mass-transit services left when the 2016 Olympics are held, federal lawmakers warned Monday," the Tribune reported this morning atop its front page.

"Pointing to the transit crisis just days away. U.S. Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.) bashed Illinois as 'the poster child for neglect' during a congressional field hearing downtown that examined the city's transportation needs if it hosts the Summer Games in nine years.

"He said the political gridlock in Springfield that has pushed the Chicago Transit Authority toward next week's 'doomsday' service cuts and fare increases complicates the Daley administration's efforts to prove it is prepared to be the Olympic host city.

"De Fazio is chairman of the House Highways and Transit Subcommittee, which wields influence in the fierce competition among cities vying to win billions of dollars in federal grants and funding earmarks for coveted transportation projects."

In other words, maybe Mayor Daley should have been in Oregon, Washington, D.C., and Springfield instead of riding bikes in France last month.

This part might be even more important.

"Surprisingly, none of the transportation officials used the hearing to pitch new projects as being vital to hosting an Olympics that would serve an estimated 2 million visitors," the Tribune account notes.

"Setting up the right transportation system presents one of the biggest challenges to a successful Olympic bid, said Doug Arnot, a senior vice president for Chicago 2016.

"Yet Chicago's bid plans do not call for adding any significant transportation infrastructure, said Arnot, who was involved in the planning for four Olympic Games, including in Atlanta, Sydney and Salt Lake City.

"'Although we recognize that in the past cities have often looked at the prospect of the Games as a chance to bring forward long-planned projects, Chicago 2016 has not proposed, nor has budgeted, for any long-term city infrastructure projects,' Arnot told the subcommittee."

Remember, Arnot is not a critic, he's on the Chicago bid committee.

"Before the 1996 Summer Games held in Atlanta, the existing rail system was expanded by three new stations, 7 miles of new track and other improvements to system capacity," the Trib says. "The bus system was also beefed up."

No such proposals here, though I bet there's a secret plan in the mayor's back pocket.

Meanwhile, after testimony about how decrepit the CTA has become, U.S. Rep. Dan Lipinski (D-Lipinski) told the subcommittee that "fortunately, Chicago already has a world-class transportation system."

In which world?

Master of Doom
CTA's doomsday scenario is bad enough on its own; it doesn't need to be spun. But the mayor is who he is. And so is the Sun-Times.

"More than 41,000 City Colleges students would also be impacted," Fran Spielman writes today. "Roughly 14,000 of them would have to drop out, while another 11,000 would reduce their coursework or postpone it, costing the financially-strapped City Colleges system $24 million in revenue, according to a recent survey."

I'm obviously sympathetic to everyone who's lives will be adversely impacted by the CTA shutting down bus routes and raising fares, but will 14,000 City Colleges students really drop out on Monday if the doomsday budget kicks in? And will another 11,000 "postpone" their coursework, which sounds awfully close to "dropping out" as well?

Unlike Spielman, I'd like to see how that survey was done.

Five-Finger Discount
Geez, if these guys were Chicago Bears they'd be back at practice today. Even if they left Nordstrom's and got in their cars drunk.

1. When Sneed "hears" House Speaker Mike Madigan and House Republican leader Tom Cross laid out the parameters for a gaming bill over the weekend, does she mean she heard it on the TV?

2. When Sneed writes that "word is" a member of Barack Obama's national finance committee just switched to Hillary, does she mean the word in the New York Times a couple days ago is?

3. At least she sources two of her three next items today to the Times and Washington Post.

If Sneed worked in Cook County government, there would be editorials calling for her ouster.

County Line
I don't even have a joke for the news today that Cook County Board members are getting a 27 percent hike in their office budgets. It just makes me tired.

Hope Dope
The Sun-Times editorial page applauds Obama today for entering a new phase of his campaign in which he will attack Hillary Clinton, even as it asks "What happened to the Obama who galvanized the nation?"

Does anyone else see the disconnect there?

First, the Obama who galvanized the nation did so in one speech. That doesn't make someone qualified to be president. If it was, Joel Osteen would make an even better candidate.

Second, he galvanized the nation with the promise of new, positive approach to politics.

Third, attacking the frontrunner when you are getting desperate is as conventional and cynical as old-time politics gets.

The problem with Obama's campaign isn't his lack of aggressiveness toward Hillary. It's the absence of an innovative Hope Agenda to match his rhetoric. Obama has talked about a new approach forever without ever explaining what that new approach would be, outside of being more polite. He has failed to take unconventional policy positions or make any creative proposals that would inspire folks waiting to be inspired. Because that's not who he is.

The truth is that Obama has never been a bold politician. Nearly every profile written about him notes his cautious nature and his alleged penchant toward consensus-building, but you can't be a change agent if you are determined to not rile up any opposition.

We don't even know what Obama's priorities are. There is no Hope Train to get on.

The truth is that Obama is not a change candidate outside of his biography, and the campaign he's running is more like, say, George H.W. Bush's 1988 campaign in the sense that he's offering a kinder, gentler version of what's come before him. If he had been Al Gore's vice president for the last eight years, it would probably get him elected. But not now.

Hawkeye Pierce
Of course, it's not over. Obama could win Iowa and that would change the dynamic, as they say. But it's funny how Obama is now running an Iowa- and New Hampshire-centric campaign when I thought raising all that money was about being in it for the long haul. The campaign now has a huge warchest it might never get to use. And don't let the Obama campaign fool you: Its early-state strategy is new, out of necessity. It wasn't always about Iowa.

The Beachwood Tip Line: Give us a jingle.


Posted on October 30, 2007

MUSIC - Lyric Opera Strike Settled.
POLITICS - USA Today's Op-Ed Disaster.
SPORTS - SportsMonday: Come On, Vic!

BOOKS - Chicago Book Haul: The Dial.

PEOPLE PLACES & THINGS - Chicagoetry: West Town Blues.

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