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The [Wednesday] Papers

What is there left to say about Todd Stroger, aside from wishing he would just go away?

Actually, plenty.

And plenty to say about the puppet-masters pulling his strings. Our report, The Machine Must Die Part I, can be found on our Politics page.

Test Tinkering
Schools "CEO" Arne Duncan and his chief education officer, Barbara Eason-Watkins, went on Chicago Tonight last night to combat the notion that lowering the passing score on 8th-grade math tests from the 67th percentile to the 38th percentile had anything to do with fantastic new results called "historic" by the mayor.

Duncan found it odd that some reporters focused on that aspect of the latest exams, as well as other niggling differences such as giving students more time to complete the tests.

Duncan, trying very hard to smile as he recited his talking points, even went so far as to accuse skeptics of racism for not believing that urban schoolkids could do so well on an exam.

Here's a question, then, for Mr. Duncan. Why don't you just give everyone "A"s and declare school reform over?

I find an emphasis on test scores to be one of the most counter-productive measures ever introduced into our school systems, but I would also respectfully suggest to Mr. Duncan that living under an illusion of gains by changing the rules of the game does a greater disservice to students than critics who would rather see kids actually receive a better education.

At the same time, Duncan made a huge promise last night: That when statewide results are released within a couple of weeks, the overall numbers will prove that Chicago schools made a sudden, significant leap beyond whatever could be attributed to changes in the testing methods and criteria. We'll see, but sudden, significant leaps are their own cause for skepticism, as Duncan ought to know.

(And if true, interviewer Elizabeth Brackett asked Duncan, why didn't you just wait to announce your own results along with those for the rest of the state, so they could be more fairly assessed? As far as I could tell, Duncan's non-answer about being so proud of the kids boiled down to notching a good PR hit for him and the mayor.)

Mara's Makeover
Mara Georges announces that her integrity remains intact.

ManKow
Mancow promised on Chicago Tonight the other night that his firing from Q101 would be vindicated by the upcoming new ratings book. Well, the book is out. Was he vincidated? Not really. While Robert Feder reports that Mancow's ratings where higher than they had been in years, he didn't provide any accompanying data. The Tribune, however, reported that Mancow finished with a 5.7 share among men 25-54, "good for second place in that demographic, his best showing in 18 months."

Feder called this a "splendid swan song" that "raised new doubts about management's decision to pull the plug on Mancow's Morning Madhouse after eight profitable years at the Emmis Communications alternative rocker."

Really? At $3 million a year, station management could reasonably expect more from the sputtering Mancow. Besides that, management says, Mancow's show didn't generate nearly as much money as he publicly claimed (no surprise there), and it no longer fit with the station's programming agenda.

In an interview with Radio Ink magazine, Q101 station vice president and general manager Marv Nyren explained.

RI: In reading Mancow's press release, it looks like his show is generating tons of money. How can you walk away from that?

MN: How do I answer those questions? Number one, it doesn't generate that much money. The numbers they gave are not accurate numbers. His ratings are very good. But his syndicated show has become difficult for us because we want a local Chicago show. And when I look at the stations he's got syndicated, they're in Rapid City and Tucson and Salt Lake City and a couple of other markets. They're in general very small markets. He's on in L.A. but it's an AM station. It's not what I would consider a major, nationally syndicated radio show. We've been allowing him to do a nationally syndicated morning show, but it's really starting to affect (us locally). Example, when the Chicago White Sox won the World Series, the next day I think we were talking about 'a car that blew up on a Los Angeles side street.'

Kopy Kats
"There's a plagiarism hunt going on at Southern Illinois University, and the hunters think they may have bagged a big one: a campus chancellor who appears to have taken parts of his Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. Day remarks from other writings, a Web site, and even a White House proclamation," the Tribune reports today, on a saga with a deep back-story.

"The revelation has university officials scrambling to explain the 600-word welcoming address given by Edwardsville campus Chancellor Vaughn Vandegrift and has disgruntled faculty members crowing over what they believe is proof of the administration's hypocrisy."

Vandegrift says his staff wrote the speech in question, and when he asked them about it, "they said they thought using unattributed remarks was acceptable because it wasn't for an academic paper."

Then they expressed puzzlement at all those names next to quotes in the newspaper.

Keystone Kubs
* Sammy who?

* Goat Rider.

* Cubhouse Cancer.

Pol Bono
The estimed $20 million - $20 million! - in defense work provided by Winston & Strawn to former governor and convicted felon George Ryan was a political gift, despite the law firm's attempt to characterize it as pro-bono representation, American Lawyer magazine has concluded.

"Thomas Fitzgerald, managing partner-elect of Winston & Strawn, says the case was so vast and so complicated that Ryan, who spent 40 years working in Illinois state government, couldn't have afforded competent legal counsel on his own," the magazine says. "He says Ryan would have had to seek a court-appointed attorney if Winston hadn't stepped in. (Judges have discretion over which defendants qualify for free help, according to federal guidelines.) Ryan's situation embodied the 'classic access to justice' scenario in which a defendant could not afford a lawyer, according to Fitzgerald . . .

"We understand the argument, and it's an interesting one. So we employed a two-step analysis. Could Ryan afford competent counsel? Although Ryan needed vast resources to defend himself, the former governor receives an annual pension of $195,000 from the state of Illinois, and therefore doesn't meet anyone's definition of 'poor.' Could he afford Webb and Co.? No. But that's not the standard. Second, we asked whether the firm was defending an important civil right that would trump the indigent requirement. Again the answer was no. We acknowledge Ryan's interest in liberty, but concluded that the firm's work did not meet our definition."

The magazine notes that Ryan was the lieutenant governor to Winston chairman Jim Thompson when Thompson led the state (among other political ties). Winston also defended Ryan's commutation of death row sentences in state court, and is now handling Ryan's appeal on his recent corruption conviction.

According to a Tribune report today on the magazine's article, the Illinois Supreme Court clarified in June that pro bono work should be "rendered to persons of limited means."

Not limited morals.

Southwestern Style
Chicago's other hometown airline.

Slouching Toward Kansas
Heard on The Score: a snippet of "Dusty Can't Win," to the tune of "Dust In The Wind."

The Beachwood Tip Line: Pro Bono Poor.



Permalink

Posted on July 19, 2006


MUSIC - The Weekend In Chicago Rock.
TV - Cricket vs. Brexit.
POLITICS - Corporate Spies Like Us.
SPORTS - Why Was This Game Even Scheduled?

BOOKS - Postdictatorship Argentina.

PEOPLE PLACES & THINGS - Public Lands Matter.


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