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The [Wednesday] Papers

By Steve Rhodes

"Facing the worst recession in a generation, U.S. Rep. Phil Hare isn't sitting around and waiting for the job market to rebound on its own," Progress Illinois reports.

"On MSNBC's The Ed Show [Monday] night, he explained the basic outline of the plan he'll introduce in Congress. As Hare explains, the package includes a public works infrastructure program 'similar to what Roosevelt had with the CCC'."

Which is what we were supposed to get the first time around with the stimulus bill. But as has been conclusively shown since, the stimulus bill was not a jobs bill, but a frickin' Christmas tree for Congress; it didn't need earmarks because the earmarks were the bill.

And look where that's gotten us.

"Rod plays the jester," John Kass writes today. "All that's missing are the curly-toed boots, and Rod holding a wooden rattle carved in his own likeness, a smirk on the tiny Rod head, as Rod himself waves his arms, gesturing at the unfairness of it all.

"It's all so amusing, so droll. But the joke's not on him.

"It's on us. On every man, woman and child in the state of Illinois.

"At least one man is dead, Blagojevich's buddy Christopher Kelly, an insider who committed suicide, taking to the grave any testimony he might have on how deals were done at Chicago's airports.

"And others will be the walking dead, at least dead to their families, after they dump their entire paychecks into video poker machines that the state government plans to use to recover some of the billions that Blago wasted.

"You can see them, can't you? The rows of haunted souls on bar stools, blowing their cash at some bar, or even at Tavern on Rush and Gibsons. The bust-outs will turn to legal juice, like those payday loans, or they'll go on the Outfit's special borrowing plan. That's the plan that ends with the sound of a ball-peen hammer on a kneecap."


It's no secret that I'm a John Kass fan, even though his views often drive me crazy when he ventures beyond city and state politics. But nobody does what he does in this city. And nobody writes the way he does. That part of his craft, I think, is vastly underrated.

The Terry O'Brien Show
Who is Terry O'Brien? I don't think we know yet, and the media doesn't seem to be in a hurry to find out. But time is a-wasting; some veteran political observers think he's the front-runner in the Democratic primary for Cook County Board president, namely because he's the only white candidate in a field with three African-Americans. I disagree; I don't think O'Brien's got a snowball's chance. But maybe that's in part because most of the media attention seems to be focused on his opponents while he flies under the radar. Hopefully a news outlet in town is working up a decent examination, though, because bits and pieces like these "raise questions," as they say.

* "The 'fair and reasonable' price financial advisers recommended to the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago for the biggest borrowing in its history cost taxpayers $8 million in unnecessary interest and resulted in a bonanza for bankers, according to documents initially withheld from the public," Bloomberg reports.

(Note the presence of new Sun-Times Media Group owner Jim Tyree in the story. Awkward!)

* "For three years, the developers of the Ritz-Carlton Residences at Erie Street and Michigan Avenue have been locked in a costly legal battle with its backyard neighbor - the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District headquarters - over access to an 18-foot by 95-foot alley," the Tribune reports.

"Yes, that's right: Thousands of pages of court filings, and at least $1.3 million in legal fees charged to the water district alone, and at least a month's worth of courtroom time, spent scrapping over an alley."

And then there's this from a few weeks ago:

* "Of O'Brien's 2,000-plus petitions, 10 virtually mirror petitions [Dorothy] Brown submitted, according to a Chicago Sun-Times examination of the thousands of petitions submitted by each candidate. Nearly all of the 200 voters who signed those 10 nominating petitions for O'Brien also signed for Brown - and in the same order," the ,em>Sun-Times reported.

"Three people circulated those 10 petitions, which were notarized by one of two longtime Democratic operatives. Those two notaries stamped more than 200 petitions for O'Brien and more than 75 for Brown."

The Sun-Times also reported that "Two longtime Democratic operatives - Sam J. Morabito and Teresa Navarro - notarized petitions circulated by a total of 25 people for O'Brien or Brown. Three of those petition-passers did it for both candidates. Morabito notarized 150 petitions for O'Brien and 42 for Brown. Navarro notarized 65 petitions for O'Brien and 24 for Brown.

"Morabito, 53, who lives on the Northwest Side, is an assistant chief operating engineer for the city's Aviation Department. He got his start in politics under former state Rep. Joseph Kotlarz, who once pushed City Hall to give Morabito a promotion, according to the notorious 'clout list' kept by Mayor Daley's now-imprisoned patronage director Robert Sorich."

So there's that.

And then there's O'Brien's website. It's not just that the opening line in his welcome rings a bit false given the news reports we've just looked at: "My name is Terrence J. O'Brien, and I'm running for Cook County Board President to bring good government back to the people of Cook County."

It's the obvious ethnic appeal - I'm Irish! - that puts me off.

(Kudos, though, for including the petition story among its featured articles; the campaign probably just set up a feed that runs itself.)

Forgive my skepticism, but I think we need to know more about O'Brien before this campaign gets too much farther along.

Media Plan
Another reporter endorses slick manipulation of the media as a necessary and smart move.


Here's a solution to the problem the Trib's David Haugh is writing about in the above link: The NCAA should just bar colleges from contacting coaches at other schools about filling job vacancies until after the bowl season.

Sports Nuts
I find the Sun-Times's poaching of Tribune sports columnist Rick Morrissey wholly uninspired. The money would have been better spent hiring a few sharp, young (and diverse) talents whose main focus would been the paper's sports coverage on the its website. I don't care how many readers Morrissey brings with him. He's the past, not the future. And he's just not very good.

The real opportunity, now, is for the Trib. Unfortunately, they seem bent on ginning up an "old-fashioned newspaper war" instead of a new-fashioned web war. Memo to Trib editors: Readers don't care if the Associated Press Sports Editors voted your section in the top 10 this year. No need to brag about that on your front page. Just like they don't care in the years that it awards the Sun-Times the same honor. Get your self-absorbed heads out of your butts and connect with what's going on out in the real world. Show a vision beyond the traditional newspaper section. (And no, bringing the spotlight back to Steve Rosenbloom does not qualify; I'm a Rosenbloom fan but the Trib pattern is to wheel him out every time they need to prove they are whack, then store him in a closet for a few years when they tire of him.)

Daley's Bitter Olympics Rant
In rare form.

Daley's Bulldozers vs. The National Register
Destroying as fast as he can.

Daley Down On Snowmaggedon
But right about weather hysteria.

Centers & Playoffs
Our very own Dan O'Shea sets you up right in Fantasy Fix.


The Beachwood Tip Line: One of a kind.


Posted on December 9, 2009

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