The [Wednesday] Papers
"Mayor Richard Daley denied Tuesday that his office had any role in an underground process to lobby on behalf of students applying to the city's best public schools, even though secret logs indicate several admissions requests came from his administration," the Tribune reports.
"No role, in the sense that, no role," Daley told reports.
Excuse me, I speak Daley. Allow me to translate:
"No role in the sense that I want the headlines to all say 'Daley had no role,' but if you mean in the sense of actually having a role, of course. You think I didn't know all these years that the politically connected and the city's elite could clout their kids into our best schools? That's what I built those schools for! Parents knew; rumors abounded for years. So, yes, I had a role. We did it to keep certain kinds of parents happy for the good of the city, even if we had to stiff everyone else. But in the sense of what you're going to write in tomorrow's papers, no, I had no 'role,' so to speak."
"The nearly 40 pages of logs show requests from 25 aldermen, House Speaker Michael Madigan and his daughter, Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan. Applications that district officials say were backed by Duncan's wife, mother and a personal trainer at a downtown athletic club where he played basketball appear, as well."
Duncan's wife, mother and a personal trainer at a downtown athletic club where he played basketball?
Todd Stroger must be laughing his ass of right now. Or fuming.
"There also were references to a Daley education aide making requests, including a 2008 entry seeking admission for the daughter of a prominent zoning attorney to Augustus H. Burley School, a magnet elementary that focuses on writing and literature. The student was No. 5 on the wait list at the time and it's unclear if she was admitted, according to the log.
"The student's father works at DLA Piper, the powerful law firm where Daley's nephew is a partner.
"A firm spokesman declined comment on the admissions request.
"'It's a private matter involving a family member,' spokesman Jason Costa said."
Public schools admissions are a private matter. How very Chicago, Mr. Costa.
"The logs also indicate that about six weeks before the Burley request the same Daley education aide made inquiries on behalf of a recent city hire.
"A lawyer for the employee said his client made acceptance into quality schools a condition of his family's relocation from another city and his relatives were placed in a highly regarded school."
The employee was also given a contract to sell tchotkes at Navy Pier and a slice of an O'Hare bond deal. You know, typical Welcome Wagon stuff.
"School officials have acknowledged that the lists were kept secret to prevent the central office from being inundated with appeals. The vast majority of parents who followed the system's school application process never knew they could ask Duncan's office for special consideration."
Let's keep the list secret so only those in-the-know can get their names on it. Maybe put velvet ropes around it.
"Though he defended Duncan's use of the logs, Daley said the appeals process should not have been kept secret."
So Daley is both for and against the list.
"That's the problem," Daley said. "How do you (publicize it)? That's what they have to work on."
Perhaps appoint a commission to study whether acknowledging the existence of the list on application forms would work.
"Mayor Daley insisted Tuesday that there was nothing wrong with Duncan's office maintaining such a log because 'no favoritism' resulted from it," the Sun-Times reports.
So, um, those who got their names on the list didn't gain an advantage over those who didn't know the list existed?
"But Daley acknowledged that the existence of a secret process in a city where clout reigns supreme could lead some to conclude the admissions process wasn't on the up and up."
So it's the perception of the list that's the problem, not the list itself.
"People are calling," Daley said. "What do you do, just say, 'No?' Arne Duncan said you have to say something."
Um, maybe "No, thank you?"
Apparently not a single reporter asked Daley why Duncan's office couldn't have just said No.
"Duncan has not been accused of any wrongdoing," the Sun-Times claims.
Well, if you mean formally charged, then no. But "accused?" Read your own lead. Certainly "investigated:"
"U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan has been interviewed by the Chicago Public Schools' inspector general as part of an investigation into how kids won admission to the city's most competitive public high schools while Duncan ran the system here, the Chicago Sun-Times learned Tuesday.
"Duncan's name surfaced about 10 times on a 2008 log, now in possession of federal investigators, that contained the names of elected officials and others who interceded on behalf of students trying to win admission to the system's elite schools, sources told the Sun-Times."
"Current top Duncan aide Peter Cunningham also confirmed that Duncan talked to the inspector general, but he insisted by e-mail that Duncan 'did not lobby or intercede for anyone.'"
He just created the list and had his initials put by some students' names.
Cunningham's e-mail account did not respond to follow-up questions.
"In an effort to be responsive, we would log these calls, get the information and forward it to principals, but it was entirely a principal's discretion to respond to the requests," Cunningham said.
And if a principal felt pressured because the central office forwarded them admissions requests, some with the initials "AD" attached to them, well, that's their problem.
"In 2008, [former Duncan top aide David] Pickens said, Duncan himself was listed on the log but 'I would say of Arne's requests, there were maybe one or two Yeses. He was very frequently turned down . . . He rarely got kids in."
But I thought he never interceded?
"When first elected in 1989, Daley eagerly reached out to those in the city's predominantly white professional class," John Kass writes. "They were edgy and many were considering leaving Chicago.
"In response, the mayor built top magnet and college prep high schools, pushing through work-rule changes to attract the best teachers. He produced the schools that nervous white-collar voters demanded.
"Members of the professional class wanted city life. But they wanted their children educated. They became clients of Daley's first tier.
"The second tier pretty much remained the same, a tier mostly for minorities and the poor."
The city's elitist sell-out liberals are too busy gaming the Daley system for their own rewards to squawk. They may vote for "change" in presidential elections, but they never upset the apple cart here at home.
"Daley's school system is a brilliant political enterprise. Except for the first-tier minority, the educational product is a failure. But that's not what's vitally important to the Illinois political class. What's important are votes. The bureaucracy gets the budget and the jobs. The elites get top prep schools."
And then blame the masses for not voting, as if choosing between two hacks constitutes democracy.
"If any group understands how bureaucracy can sting, it is the city's professional class. They know that in Chicago, there's no percentage in shouting the emperor has no clothes. So they behave."
It's really the new Chicago Way, one that complements pinstripe patronage in delivering more for the professional class instead of the working class, which really makes it that much more noxious.
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Posted on March 24, 2010
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