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The [Wednesday] Papers

By Steve Rhodes

1. Holiday Gift Ideas For Your Favorite Parking Scofflaw.

2. A whistleblower who won.

3. I'm actually glad former streets and san man Al Sanchez is getting a new trial. Why? Because even if the witness in question gets dusted up, there's plenty of other evidence to re-convict Sanchez. And now we get to hear all over again how Mayor Daley's dirty operation worked, including testimony about how Bill Daley and Tim Degnan founded the now-infamous Hispanic Democratic Organization not to further Hispanics but to suit the mayor's purposes.


"Mayor Richard Daley has often sought to portray himself as above involvement in machine-style politics, once declaring, 'My political organization is myself'," the Tribune reported during Sanchez's first trial in March.

"But testimony Monday in a federal corruption trial linked the mayor's brother William Daley and longtime top strategist Timothy Degnan to the embryonic stages of what became the Hispanic Democratic Organization.

"Although the mayor has denied knowing that city job openings were rigged for his supporters, a former HDO leader from the Southeast Side testified Degnan dangled jobs in return for loyalty in Daley's first successful campaign for mayor in 1989.

"And another former top Latino political operative said he helped build HDO on the North Side for Daley's political organization in the early 1990s at the urging of Degnan, William Daley and U.S. Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.)."


Here's my favorite part:

"William Daley [told the Tribune] he was not aware of any promises of city jobs to campaign workers for his brother.

"'You're talking about 20 years ago,' Daley said. 'Even if it happened - and I'm not saying it did - things were different. There was nothing illegal about that stuff'."


"A 1979 ruling led to a court order in 1983 that made it unlawful to take any political factor into account in hiring public employees (with exceptions for positions such as policy making)," according to the Encyclopedia of Chicago. "Those decisions along with companion consent judgments - collectively called the Shakman decrees - are binding on more than 40 city and statewide offices."

4. A Taser Family Christmas.

5. Memo to Matthew Wood and the Sun-Times: Asking racists and other miscreants to be a little nicer when commenting anonymously on your website is likely to be as effective as asking neo-Nazis to shout a little less loud at their next rally. The logical conclusion is to prohibit anonymous comments (excepting, of course, those with a legitimate reason to fear retribution), but for some reason Wood stops short of calling for the equalization of standards for web comments with print letters to the editor. I'm sure that has nothing to do with a traditional news organization opting for a (theoretical) traffic-building strategy decreed by the business folk over editorial integrity.


Voice of San Diego bans anonymous comments.


VOSD cites civil discourse as the driving force behind its new policy, but as I've written before, I'm as much motivated in my stance by my personal knowledge of political operatives (and marketers) commenting under false flags to further undisclosed agendas.

6. Speaking of comments, the longtime spokesman for state House Speaker Michael Madigan, Steve Brown, weighs in (briefly) on our recent Scholarship Scam post.

7. Late (from last week), but catching up: Joel's panel will review the year in white men.

Chicago Tonight: The Week in Review with Joel Weisman at 7:00 pm. On tonight's program, Joel and his panel look back at the biggest stories of 2009. Guests: David Greising, Chicago News Cooperative; Bruce Dold, Chicago Tribune; Lester Munson, ESPN; John McCarron, Chicago Tribune.

Comment 3:55 P.M.: From Marc Glick, WTTW producer:

"I thought you might want to know that Sun-Times columnist Mary Mitchell was booked for the show but a last-minute scheduling snafu kept her from coming on. So instead of just going with three guests, I called John McCarron both for his expertise and his proximity to the station because we were so close to showtime."

8. "A $93,840-a-year Chicago plumbing inspector caught doing a side job with no permit, city license or secondary employment form allowing him to perform the 'side job' is back on his main job," the Sun-Times reports.

"The Human Resources Board, which is appointed by Mayor Daley, has overturned James Kendrick's firing and converted his punishment to a five-month suspension without pay, which he has already served. Kendrick returned to work Thursday for the first time since July 17. He refused to comment."

Best part:

"The violations were particularly egregious because Kendrick was assigned to a task force that busts people for working without permits."


About that Human Resources Board:

"The three-member board is appointed by the Mayor and is charged with the responsibility of conducting hearings and rendering decisions in instances of alleged misconduct by career service employees. The Board also presides over appeal hearings brought about by disciplinary action taken against employees by individual city departments."

Those are your folks, Mayor. Are you proud?


And who are the three board members? I wish I could tell you. I took a quick spin through the city's website - and Google - and came up empty. Maybe I'll dig a little deeper later today.

9. Did you know Dorothy Brown is the Pearl of Illinois? Neither did I, until I read this Trib piece this morning. But lo and behold, there it is!

Anyway, the highlights:

* "A local Fox TV investigation took aim at her for buying vehicles and hiring employees, at taxpayer expense, to drive her to work and to official functions.

"'They are really not drivers as much as security guards,' she said, citing a 'vulgar' letter from a prison inmate who later was convicted of threatening to kill her.

"Brown said the guards also do office investigations, and that being driven allows her to get work done while traveling."

I'll do what the Trib doesn't: Supply the link to that Fox investigation so Brown can't get away with dismissing it so easily.

* "The Tribune reported that from 2002 until early this year, Brown received cash gifts from employees at Christmas and often for her birthday as well. The birthday gifts were presented at parties, organized by higher-level employees, that doubled as political fundraisers. Brown said she would end the practice when the Tribune questioned her.

"'I never asked my employees to give me gifts,' she said. 'We're like family, and they didn't just give me gifts. I gave gifts too'."

I'll do what the Trib doesn't: Supply the link to their own story so Brown can't get away from dismissing it so easily.

* "The gifts were noted in economic disclosure statements, but Brown would not disclose how much she had received. The statements also listed fees for motivational religious speaking.

"Brown said she received minimal stipends - 'a hundred dollars or something like that' - for speaking to women's groups on Sunday mornings. 'I actually have a license to speak,' she said, referring to a Church of God in Christ certification."

I'll do what the Trib doesn't: Supply a link to the Church of God in Christ, though a search on the site for "certification" or "certificate" comes up empty.

Finally, I'll just point you to this Chicagoist post rounding up Brown's ethical headaches.

10. The Tribune editorial page thinks that airlines are already properly motivated to not strand passengers on tarmacs for hours at a time because of the bad publicity that ensues. So they find the new federal rule requiring airlines to allow passengers to get off planes that sit on runways for more than three hours. Airlines that fail to do so face penalties of up to $27,500 per passenger.

"The new three-hour rule is unnecessary," the paper opines. "It's likely to backfire, leading airlines to pre-emptively cancel flights rather than risk the exorbitant penalties. Result: more inconvenience for more passengers. "


"Hey Frank, let's not load these passengers, they might get stuck out on the runway for three hours and then corporate will be all over our ass when the bills come in."

"Yeah, but if we cancel the flight instead of sending all these folks out to bake for hours on a runway with limited food, water and toilet capacity, that will just cause more inconvenience for them."

"I know, but it's that new federal rule. I don't know what our government is thinking sometimes."

11. "Information for this article was gathered on a research trip sponsored by Visit Britain."

If you would like your tourist destination promoted in the pages of the Sun-Times under the guise of a legitimate travel article, just send us a check and an itinerary.

12. And a tattoo of Ozzy.


The Beachwood Tip Line: Skulls & Bones.


Posted on December 23, 2009

MUSIC - Millions Of New Guitar Players.
TV - "One America News" is AT&T.
POLITICS - When Wall Street Came To My Mobile Home Park.
SPORTS - Tonyball, Bears On The Run, Eyes On The Sky & More!

BOOKS - China Holding Swedish Publisher.


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