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The [Wednesday] Papers

More news from the Pardon, Clemency and Commutation Desk. And then The Bureau of Parking Meter Affairs Division will weigh in.

* "See how easily redemption is won in Illinois? Durbin has become high priest of the secular liturgy: All Ryan has to do is demonstrate emotion, squirt some tears for the cameras and express some unspecified sorrow for unspecified crimes. And presto. Redemption," John Kass writes.

"So if Bush grants Durbin's wish, Ryan will surely make a statement of vague regret for the children who died as a result of the corruption on Ryan's watch. Then it'll be off to Gibson's on Rush, or LuxBar, where George will have a steak with Combine master Big Jim Thompson. They might even save a choice seat for Senator Water Boy. 'What a stand-up guy,' Big Jim will say.

"And all the guys will raise a glass and thank Durbin for making sure President-elect Barack Obama didn't have to deal with this mess, and Ryan will nod and wave, fork in hand, eyes crinkling with pleasure, smiling through a mouthful of meat."

You know it's true.

* The Devils in Durbin's Details.

* "If you're saying, Brown, you wouldn't support commuting Ryan's sentence even if he issued a signed itemized confession, including all the stuff for which he wasn't charged, there's probably some truth in that," Mark Brown writes. "But it would be a nice place to start."

That's an excellent idea. I hereby pledge to support commuting Ryan's sentence if he reveals to the public - and to federal prosecutors - exactly what he did every step of the way. A full, detailed confession that names names. Then release him from jail so he can continue his work reforming or eliminating the death penalty worldwide.

* Funny how it's the Republicans who think Ryan should stay in jail and serve his time.

* Ald. Ed Smith (28th) is in the game. He also has written a letter to President Bush urging that Ryan's sentence be commuted. He also wants former alderman Larry Bloom pardoned, as well as a guy named Willie Dunsmore, who is probably the only one who deserves it.

* "If we realized how graft paralyzes so much of the world, how the rusty gears of so many foreign governments turn only when greased with a liberal application of baksheesh, then we would react with greater horror at its constant if contained presence," Neil Steinberg writes today.

Um, wouldn't this make us less sensitive to graft in our own town?

("I would have voted for Daley, warts and all. I always did. The corruption doesn't bother me - what city doesn't have corruption?" Steinberg, Feb. 28, 2007)

* Conrad Black also wants out of jail early. And he wants the Sun-Times Media Group to pay for it.

* Finally, some details on the Downstate man already granted a pardon by President Bush.

Parking Meter Madness
Let's face it, privatization is another word for back-door tax increase.

I mean, yes, it's great that the city - make that, Mayor Daley - will receive an upfront payment of $1.2 billion from selling its parking meters to the new Chicago Parking Meter LLC ("aka two Morgan Stanley funds and a parking company," Whet Moser notes).

But who do you think Chicago Parking Meter LLC will recoup that money from?

After all, the plan is to charge $6.50 an hour for a metered spot in the Loop by 2013. And even more maddening, $2 an hour for a metered spot in your neighborhood by that date. Of course, you could always park on the side streets - unless you don't have the right sticker. Better to just stay home.

(I understand the possible environmental benefits, but the CTA sucks and, meanwhile, the police department is getting SUVs.)

These kind of deals always make folks wonder: If X could be so lucrative for another company, why doesn't the city just do it and make the money themselves?

In part, because the mayor and the city council fear the reprisals of boosting the cost of whatever public asset they are selling off. Also, in larger part, because they see wads of green flashing before their eyes. Who cares about 2013 and beyond? Look at that dough!

So don't expect resistance (ha!) from the city council, even though the same squeaky voices are already complaining that they aren't getting enough time to review the deal. The mayor wants approval on Thursday. Isn't 24 hours enough?


"Aldermen have given quick and overwhelming approval to all of Daley's groundbreaking privatization efforts in recent years, eagerly accepting enormous checks for long-term leases of the Chicago Skyway toll road ($1.83 billion), downtown parking garages ($563 million) and Midway International Airport ($2.5 billion)," the Tribune reports.

"That big money for City Hall has meant higher costs for the public. Under private operators, it costs 50 percent more to drive on the Skyway and almost 40 percent more to leave your car for an hour at Millennium Park's garage."

I don't even know why the mayor bothers to ask for city council approval anymore. What do they have to do with anything?


"Daley dodged questions Tuesday about what other assets the city could rent for cash: 'We're not going to be telling you this now'."

I forgot: have we sold our souls yet, or are we just renting them out?


Both the city and the new company will be able to write tickets (though the city will apparently keep the money). So if you have a complaint, you will now be doubly frustrated.

The Beachwood Tip Line: Like comfort food.


Posted on December 3, 2008

MUSIC - Lyric Opera Strike An Old Story.
POLITICS - USA Today's Op-Ed Disaster.
SPORTS - Beachwood Sports Radio: Kanye, Chili, Jimmy, Tarik.

BOOKS - Conway Barbour & The Black Middle Class.

PEOPLE PLACES & THINGS - Recall! Malone's Pork Head Cheese.

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