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The [Wednesday] Papers

John Kass wins the Emil Jones Punditry Sweepstakes today.

From his winning entry:

"I've used this theme in the past, particularly about Stroger, fumbling, stumbling, suffering self-inflicted media wounds, his ridiculous haplessness reinforcing the political subtext the mayor of Chicago thrives upon:

"That without Daley to protect us, we would get a Stroger, and the sky would fall.

"That's a political lie. Chicago thrives in spite of its politicians, not because of them, but it is a convenient falsehood, artfully dropped into the news to help maintain the status quo.

"And Emil Jones? The wily boss hog Democrat, gorging on patronage and the fruits of politics, should have a new political job soon, once his protege, President Obama, finds one for him.

"How about ambassador of reform?"


Then again, if the Southtown Star's Phil Kadner wasn't a day ahead of the pack, he would have won the gold.

"I suppose Emil Jones could have stayed in the Illinois Senate and gotten more jobs and contracts for friends and family members," Kadner wrote on Tuesday.

"But Jones on Monday announced his retirement. So it can't be said that he squeezed every dime he could out of the political system in Illinois."


While Kass places the creature that is Emil Jones in the context of the whole rotten Illinois political universe, Kadner wraps up Jones's 25-year legislative career in 725 words that tell you everything you need to know about the hack's hack befriended by an ambitious Barack Obama.

"In describing Jones' tenure as Senate president, one Springfield reporter wrote that he 'long championed more money for school and education funding reform and made them his top priorities.'" Kadner writes.

"I can't agree with that.

"I would have to say that Jones talked about those things and how important they were for most of his 25 years in the Senate."

Talked, but never lifted a greasy thumb.

Kadner ends this way:

"Jones has made his preference clear. He wants his son to take his Senate seat.

"That's the Chicago way.

"So at least one Chicago child can thank Jones for helping him.

"As for the rest of the kids in Illinois, they simply chose the wrong parents.

"Thanks for the public education, Senator Jones."

Go read the whole thing, then clip and save.


The Sun-Times editorial page manages to pull off the difficult trick of dry satire in "A Fine Tradition of Chicago Mediocrity."

Again, the ending is the best part:

"You can get hung up on how clout in this town can take a nobody from nowhere and set him up for life with money, prestige and a cushy job, based solely on blood.

"Or you can learn to respect an old Chicago tradition:

"Some folks - but not you - are special."


The Tribune's editorial starts off with a nice bit of snark but is mostly filled with straight-on anger.

"After their years of near-irrelevance - taking their orders (and campaign cash) from the soon-to-be-retired Emil Jones - the Senate Dems finally have a decision they can make all by themselves: Who will be their chamber's new president?" the Trib says.

"Emil Jones never was what his successor desperately needs to be. He has led the Senate in an era of Springfield dysfunction that has misserved and angered citizens by the millions. The damage as measured in problems unsolved, reforms unseized and innocents victimized - this state can't even pay promptly for the medical care of its poor people - is incalculable.

"Jones could have helped meet those crushing needs. Instead he lived by a simple credo - Spend other people's money with abandon! - and let his jealousy of Madigan, the more powerful and cannier of the two, entrap him in an alliance with the governor."


Where the Tribune sees millions of angered citizens, Neil Steinberg sees an apathetic public that doesn't care as much as he does. Instead, Steinberg - who once wrote that the mayor's corruption didn't bother him - comes off as the weary one trying to muster a response.

"You would think there would be outrage . . . But outrage has fallen from fashion, apparently . . . I feel antique even complaining about it."

Steinberg doesn't say why he thinks the public is apathetic. Maybe it's because he didn't see anyone protesting along the Metra on his way into work. What is the public supposed to do, march on Springfield?


Like some of our other pundits, Carol Marin also makes the Obama connection.

"At the very same moment Barack Obama, an alumnus of the Illinois State Senate and a mentee of President Jones, is campaigning across America in behalf of change we can believe in and a new kind of politics. Here on the homefront we have his mentor playing the same old, cynical game that treats public office like a family entitlement. And the public payroll like a bequest."

Marin then advances the story by hitting the trail in search of Emil Jones III.

"Now President Jones is pretty angry with us at the Sun-Times and at NBC5. Furious that we have dared to ask questions about how young Emil, lacking a college degree, got an administrator-level state job paying almost $60,000 a year . . .

"What does Emil Jones III have to say about his candidacy for his dad's seat?


"He has not returned Sun-Times' phone calls or e-mails. Why? President Jones' spokeswoman, Cindy Davidsmeyer, said Tuesday by phone from Springfield that Emil III is 'still a private citizen, not on the ballot yet. That's the way he's conducting himself.'"

So he's already got the Illinois Pol thing down.


Finally, let's give props to the Peoria Journal-Star, which starts its editorial this morning this way:

"Senate President Emil Jones announced this week that he intends to retire after the fall veto session. Well, that's a start in the right direction.

"It will surprise no one who reads this opinion page regularly that we are not fans of the 72-year-old, 'Got to Get Me Some Food Stamps' Jones, who as time passed turned from harmless and sometimes entertaining into a bit of a power tripper, turning state government into something of a personal plaything.

"That was fine if you were a friend or family member or contributor to Jones and discovered that such relationships had rewards - as the likes of Jones' wife and son and stepson and Chicago State University and Commonwealth Edison did - but if you weren't, you were out of luck at the taxpayer trough."

I would be remiss if I didn't note that the Journal-Star also says this:

"Arguably, the last thing Illinois government needs is yet another legislative leader from Chicago."


I'll have a few posts about the rest of the day's news over at Division Street.

The Beachwood Tip Line: Food stamps accepted.


Posted on August 20, 2008

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