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The [Tuesday] Papers

"We're concerned about preserving the unique culture of our ballpark," the Tribune lawyer currently acting as Cubs chairman, Crane Kenney, says. "Fan backlash is certainly something we're thinking about."

Of course they are. They thrive on it. It's part of the brand.


An open letter to Sam Zell.


By the way, the price of beer at Wrigley is going up to $6.25 a cup. $6.25! And it's domestic!


Squiggly Park?

Fare Fees
The CTA is installing fare-card machines that will accept credit cards, the Tribune and others report.

This is certainly convenient for riders, but I have yet to see if this is expected to cost the CTA money or generate more revenue.

"The CTA will pay a fee to the credit card companies," the Trib notes. "The CTA is financing the $4.5 million purchase of the vending machines from bonds."

Is there some expectation that with a $5 minimum purchase via credit card, the CTA will somehow make more money by forcing riders to purchase more rides than they use? Or that the convenience will somehow increase ridership?

Because if it's not a net gain, this isn't exactly a good time to spend on amenities.

That's Todd!
"As Cook County Board President Todd Stroger prepares to fill hundreds of new jobs delivered to him by the County Board last week, a federal hiring monitor says political patronage continues to hamper county hiring," the Sun-Times reports.

"In a U.S. District Court filing, monitor Julia Nowicki cites repeated examples among hundreds of claims she's investigating - including an employee boasting shortly after being hired that he was a 'Soldier for Stroger' in the board president's election campaign and would soon be a supervising his co-workers.

"That employee never even applied for the job, she notes, but quickly became a top boss. That person has also been using county fax machines to process orders for political materials, she notes."

County attorney Laura Lechowicz-Felicione says Stroger has made progress, though.

"It's a process," Lechowicz-Felicione said. "But it's a process that would move more quickly if we had additional resources."

So . . . the county needs more money to create processes whereby its employees don't steal our money?

Car Talk
"Each year Chicago's 50 aldermen get $1.5 million dollars for expenses. There are few limits on how the money is spent and it's supposed to be used to service the taxpayer. Now, in a Fox News Chicago investigation, Dane Placko questions just how much of the people's business is being done when the money goes for some hot wheels."

It's a process. And if the aldermen had more resources, they could move more quickly.

Obama's Narrators
It takes 2,025 delegates to win the Democratic nomination. By most accounts, Barack Obama is leading by about 100 delegates. By most punditry, Hillary Clinton should drop out of the race if she doesn't win the overwhelming majorities needed to close that gap.

Q. Since when is a lead of 100 delegates out of 2,000 considered the kind of huge gap that should induce a candidate to drop out?

Besides that, the math doesn't work for Obama either; he is unlikely to reach 2,025. You don't get the nomination for getting close. If that means a brokered convention, so be it. That's the way it works.

Will of the People
"It's well known that Barack Obama's success has depended largely on independent and Republican voters. The corollary to that, however, has been less thoroughly reported: Obama is losing among Democrats," Slate notes.

"Over at The Perfect World, Cal Lanier crunches the numbers and finds that Obama, despite being ahead among pledged delegates, has fewer total votes among people who identify themselves as Democrats. (He has 7392809 votes; Clinton has 8229063.) That gives Clinton as lead at 52 percent of Democrats. Lanier also breaks the numbers down by race, and points out that Obama has won white Democrats in only two states: New Mexico and Illinois."

Trade and Tony
Obama gets it with both barrels.

Chicago's Brash Boys
As described by Wired.

Movie Moxie
The University of Chicago Press blog offers background on Chicago 10.

Zell's Bells
"A company run by Sam Zell, the new chairman of the Los Angeles Times' corporate parent, stands to gain up to $15 million if an eminent domain initiative on the June ballot is approved by California voters," Capitol Weekly reports.

"The initiative, Proposition 98, would repeal rent control ordinances across California, which could lead to a boon for Zell.
Zell, the Tribune Co. chairman, is also chairman of Equity Lifestyle Properties Inc., a Chicago-based company that owns more than 112,000 residential units across the United States and Canada. The company's 28 properties in California include a dozen rent-controlled mobile home parks."

As Carol Marin reported in "Mobile Home Owners Feel Rent Pinch," "Sam Zell is a Chicago billionaire and is reputed to be the largest single property owner in America."

Marin has been on top of this story in her Sun-Times column too.

"A couple of years ago, I visited two of your properties, Willow Lake Estates in Elgin and Golf Vista in Monee," she wrote in a mock letter to Zell. "They are lovely places that challenge any negative stereotype of a 'trailer park.' The lawns are well kept, the homes are beautifully maintained, and the mostly elderly residents have a clear sense of community.

"But boy, do they have a problem, Mr. Zell.

"You've got retired people like Phil Asplund, 80, a retired accountant, trapped. He and his wife Marian own their home, but you own the land underneath it, which your company rents to them. And since you took over, once-affordable rents tied to the consumer price index are now set at 'market rate,' which is whatever you say it is. Leases have gotten even more restrictive. And retirees, on fixed incomes, are depleting their savings trying to pay the increases. Many have been forced just to abandon their homes, turn the keys over to your managers, and go live with their kids.

"When the Asplunds and others go to their legislators, like state Rep. Ruth Munson (R-Elgin), you have fleets of lobbyists and lawyers to outspend and outgun them. And when Munson and her colleagues, in spite of all that, manage to vote out even a small measure offering some consumer protection for those homeowners, you've got Gov. Blagojevich to veto it for you. After all, you and your wife have given him $82,000 since 2002. Not that there is necessarily a connection."

The Beachwood Tip Line: Zell bait.


Posted on March 4, 2008

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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