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The [Wednesday] Papers

The mayor's brother, John, the Cook County Board commissioner who got his public, taxpayer-supported job because he is a Daley and who in turn has leveraged both his family name and his chairmanship of the board's finance committee into an insurance business that has made him a wealthy man, said Tuesday that a call for a hearing about the condition of ailing board president John Stroger was "a goddamn disgrace."

Then he leaned back in his cushy leather chair with the defiant-but-slightly-emotionally-injured look of someone speaking out in vain against a great injustice - the injustice of insisting that one of the central precepts of democracy is knowing just who is running the government and how.

The arrogance is breathtaking, isn't it?

Whether the proposal in question put forth Tony Peraica, fellow board member and Republican challenger for Stroger's position as board president, was the right way to go is debatable.

But it would have been nice to see Daley debate it. Apparently, though, we don't pay him to thoughtfully consider proposals and debate the issues and act in the best interests of the public as opposed to the private club that is the Daley Party of Cook County. We pay him to sit there and try not to be too much of an embarrassment.

The same must go for Commissioner Joseph Moreno, the president pro tempore, who called Peraica's proposal "very embarrassing and disrespectful" - as opposed to the circus that took place outside chambers when Ald. Bill Beavers became the next contestant in the race set themselves up to replace Stroger while castigating those pointing out that Stroger needs replacing.

(Perhaps John Daley should have thrown Beavers out of the County Building, the way his mayor-brother threw Peraica out of City Hall for an alleged turf infringement.)

The emergence of Beavers was a surprise given accounts that commissioner Bobbie Steele seemed set as Stroger's replacement. But then, Beavers is an operator, Todd Stroger, who I admit I had my early money on, has already flamed out, and I'm not sure Danny Davis's phone is ringing off the hook.

So, for now, Beavers is the point man on all-things Stroger, having wrested the position of spokesman for the Stroger family without bothering to consult with Todd, the previous family spokesman, who was conspicuously absent from both the latest turn of events and today's news coverage.

Beavers said he had talked with Todd's mom about his new role, so it looks like Todd can't even line up votes from within his own family.

And if what Beavers and Stroger chief of staff James Whigham say about the substantiveness of their conversations with John Stroger is true, it's inconceivable that Stroger himself didn't bless pushing aside his son.

(What does Todd think about your new role, Bill? "I'll ask him when I see him," Beavers told the media. Nice.)

Then again, it's not at all clear that what Beavers and Whigham say is exactly true.

Just for starters, if Stroger really is as aware of the controversy surrounding his ability to return as board president, and thinking and speaking as clearly as Beavers says he is, then why doesn't Stroger himself speak to the public? Even in a video? Hell, what about a written statement?

Whigham says he met with Stroger for two hours on Friday and, according to the Tribune's report, Whigham says "they discussed county business, including ongoing union negotiations and personnel vacancies."

Really? Could you fill us in on the details, Mr. Whigham?

At one point, Beavers said Stroger was able to walk, but later acknowledged Stroger wasn't walking at all, and rather is confined to a wheelchair.

Beavers also said that Stroger told him he had been watching the battle over his job on TV - meaning what, he watches the news? - and that he told him, "Beavers, we'll talk."

"And he used that old hand signal that he always uses," Beavers said.

So Stroger will make his wishes known through Beavers?

Yes, Beavers told reporters.

Kind of reminds me of the phony letters from the phony president that the character Ford Lincoln Mercury used to read to his followers in The Postman.

"P.S.," one went, "Ford knows what to do."

The Tribune ended its report today with this nugget: "Asked why the press couldn't see Stroger, Beavers said, 'Maybe he don't want to see you, OK? That's simple enough.'"

Sure is.

And like everything else surrounding this squalid affair, it's embarrassing and disrespectful.

Some might call it a goddamn disgrace.

Brew Crew
Rep. Danny Davis has made it known that he'd like Stroger's job, but he was away in Washington, D.C., yesterday on important business. The Beachwood's C-Span Affairs Editor Tim Willette submits this report:

GOVERNMENTAL REFORM COMMITTEE
(live, wrapped about 11:00 ET)

Highlights:

* commemorating the great American tradition of craft
brewing

* congratulating 2005 NL-MVP Albert Pujols (an
inspiration both on & off the field)

* asking the President to proclaim September National
Passport Month

Players:
Danny Davis (D-IL)
Russ Carnahan (D-MO)
Darrell Issa (R-CA)

Mirror on Trib's Wall
The Tribune Company's gargantuan purchase of Times-Mirror in 2000 is at the root of much of the company's current mess, and now it could hamper its plan to get out of it.

The Wall Street Journal today reports dissension on the company's 11-member board coming from the three-member Chandler family bloc, which came to Tribune via Times-Mirror. The bloc voted against TribCo management's latest gambit to repurchase stock and sell off assets.

"A full breakup of Tribune is another option," the Journal reports. "The company already has signaled that it is willing to divest certain assets, particularly some of its smaller television stations. A more drastic approach would be to separate the newspaper and the broadcasting assets entirely, potentially via a broadcasting spinoff. Last week, a person familiar with the company's plans said that was a possibility, but cautioned the company hadn't made up its mind."

Made Right
It looks like the worst thing that has happened to the mayor in the Sorich trial isn't the prosecution but the defense. Sorich lawyer Thomas Anthony Durkin reiterated again Tuesday that his client was just a cog in a machine that had been in place since Richard M. Daley took office - a machine that was operated by the mayor's inner circle.

Any notion of combating the fallout of a probable conviction of Sorich and his pals by labeling them "bad apples" seems to be diminishing by the day.

The defense also seems to be laying out a roadmap of where prosecutors will go next. Or perhaps already have.

The Tribune has a nice roundup of where things stand, including former Water Department deputy Donald Tomczak's characterization of becoming a full-fledged member of the Daley Machine as "being made."

Who says organized crime in Chicago is dead?

Answer: Heroin
From the Tip Line, responding to yesterday's question about conflicting accounts of drug intake on The Sopranos: "Chris and his GF were smoking H as both used in the past hence the NA meetings . . . at one point they talked about smoking and not injecting their drug of choice."

School Drool
School reform is going well.

Power Basis
Carol Marin delves into the public service philosophies of Michael Madigan and Alexi Giannoulias today.

NOTE TO READERS: We appear to have solved the technical issues that bedeviled us yesterday. You can catch up with The [Tuesday] Papers here. It's almost all still fresh. (There was no Monday Papers column.)

The Beachwood Tip Line: Honoring craft brewers daily.



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Posted on June 7, 2006


MUSIC - The Weekend In Chicago Rock.
TV - Cricket vs. Brexit.
POLITICS - An Odd Call From Bermuda.
SPORTS - All Is Not Forgiven, Bears.

BOOKS - Turning Points Of The Civil War.

PEOPLE PLACES & THINGS - Baxter's IV Bag Shortages.


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