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The [Wednesday] Papers

Boy was that a terrible story about the vice mayor's budget on Chicago Tonight last night. Where is Rich Samuels when we need him?

First, the claim that Chicago Tonight had "found" out about the vice mayor's budget is bunk. Hugh Devlin broke the story on March 26 on Lorraine Swanson's Lake Effect News.

While new CT correspondent Ash-har Quraishi wasted time on the history of the position of vice mayor - which has no proscribed duties other than taking over if the mayor keels over - he missed the scandal at the heart of the story.

(Quaraishi will jointly report for the Chicago News Cooperative as well.)

As reported by Devlin:

"While the vice mayor himself is unpaid and the office has no ongoing duties or programs, the Chicago City Council routinely appropriates $100,000 a year to the office of vice mayor. The line item in the city's budget for the vice mayor's expense account, coded '9701,' is described as follows:

"Contingent and other expenses for corporate purposes not otherwise provided for. To be expended under the direction of the Vice Mayor.

"City records obtained by Lake Effect News revealed at least eight persons being paid out of the vice mayor's expense account that is being used entirely to pay individuals, and not for the purchase of office supplies or vendors' services."

And who are those eight persons?

"[Vice Mayor Berny] Stone's employees were the biggest beneficiaries of vice mayoral cash. Alan E. Crown received bi-monthly payments amounting to $73,991 in 2007, $70,943 in 2008, and $65,749 in 2009. Crown is also carried on the regular payroll of as a 'legislative aide' at a monthly salary of $6,184 or $74,208 annually."

Aha. Picture getting clearer.

But there's more. For example:

"Another beneficiary of the vice mayor's expense account was Mary Ann Roti-Walz, the daughter of former 1st ward alderman Fred Roti, who was convicted on charges of racketeering, extortion and bribery 1992.

"Roti-Walz received bi-monthly payments amounting to $53, 904 in 2006; $59,134 in 2007; $59,931 in 2008; and $57,648 in 2009. Roti-Walz is also carried on the regular payroll as a 'legislative aide" at a monthly salary of $5,224 or $62,688 annually.'"

Go read the whole thing to see the other aldermen implicated in weird disbursements out of the vice mayor's office.

Stone has been the vice mayor since 1998; he told Quaraishi he needs the two staffers he employs as vice mayor but Quaraishi never asked the simple question: Why? To do what?

Cook County Clerk and former alderman David Orr was the city's first vice mayor and, surprisingly, he said the position ought to have a budget and staff. Again, unasked: Why?

Again, the only duty of the vice mayor is to become mayor if the mayor dies. Do you need staff to help you wait around?

Quaraishi also reported with a straight face that Stone employs two legislative aides "to do research on behalf of the vice mayor's office."

Into what, how to wait around until the mayor dies?

Finally, Quaraishi reported that Stone once traveled on vice mayoral funds to China for a conference of vice mayors from all around the world.

Maybe different countries have different ways of waiting around for the mayor to die. Or maybe they wanted to learn each other's secrets for controlling a secret fund used to hire flunkies and relatives of aldermanic colleagues.


Disclaimer: I'm a potential business partner of Devlin's on some future projects should they come to fruition.

The Patrick Fitzgerald Show
"'Notwithstanding the recent airing of a national television show in which he repeatedly proclaimed his innocence, Rod Blagojevich now argues that he would be unfairly prejudiced by the publication of the actual evidence that will be heard at his trial,' prosecutors wrote in a filing Tuesday."

The Alexi G Show
"Giannoulias: I raised $1.2M."

And I'm sure as hell not putting it in my family's bank or Bright Start!

South Side Wages
"With unemployment stubbornly high and development stalled across the city, Chicago cannot afford to say no to jobs that average $11.77 an hour, plus benefits," the Sun-Times opines. "It's time to say yes to Wal-Mart."

And at $10.77? $9.77? Just trying to find the Sun-Times's floor.


Alternate line:

That's funny, Walmart workers think the Sun-Times staff should accept lower wages too; they'll be writing to the Chicago Newspaper Guild soon to let them know.

Oprah vs. Obama
The Sun-Times rushes to fact-check Kitty Kelley's tome on Oprah but we have to turn to David Remnick and Garry Wills to fact-check our hometown president.

The Chicago Board of See No Evil
"(T)he legislative inspector general would need 'advance approval' from the Chicago Board of Ethics," the Tribune reminds us above the print version of this editorial. "During its 23-year history, that little-known board hasn't found a single case of wrongdoing by aldermen."

Say It Ain't Gonna Be Joe
"Anyone who games the system instead of reforming it is suspect," Andy Shaw of the BGA writes today.


Disclaimer: I may have a working relationship with the BGA in the future.

Pax Attacks
"But as juicy as the narrative is, all that really matters is this: The top basketball executive for the Bulls physically attacked a subordinate," David Haugh writes.

Code of Dishonor
"The Sox caught a break in the top of the inning when A.J. Pierzynski, who is 3-for-48 in his last 16 games against the Blue Jays, limped toward first base after a Romero pitch skipped past his right foot," the Tribune's Mark Gonzales reports.

"Pierzynski was awarded first on a hit-by-pitch, although replays indicated the ball missed his foot."

Another way of putting it: Pierzynski cheated.


After making a show of hopping around on one foot as if the ball that never hit him really hurt, Hawk Harrelson proclaimed: "He's the best, I tell ya!"

What Makes Hawaiian Air So Good?
A Beachwood investigation.

Whither Jake Peavy?
Why Sox fans and fantasy owners shouldn't panic.

Poetry Prize
Clear lyric fury.

Printer's Ink
"Chris Goes was working at the Chicago printing company that's been in his family for five generations when he received a call from an old customer," the Tribune's Erika Slife writes.

"Really old. The last order was in 1931.

"The homeowners' association in Wisconsin was looking for a type of certificate that it had used for 80 years. A local printer had taken care of its business, but recently closed. In trying to figure out what to do, someone spotted the name Goes stamped in tiny print on the bottom corner of the certificate.

"A quick Google search turned up the Web site for Goes Lithographing Co.

"'They came in to reorder and asked if we still had the same one,' Goes said from his corner cubicle in the Washington Park building his great-grandfather opened in 1904. 'I said, Yeah, we have that. They could not believe it.'

"It was just another day at the office for one of Chicago's oldest family-owned businesses, which has been printing posters, calendars and certificates since the company was established in 1879. In the process, Chicago's history has been documented and distributed across the city and country."


The Beachwood Tip Line: Furious.


Posted on April 14, 2010

MUSIC - #MuteRKelly.
TV - NBC Reporter's Kiss-Off.
POLITICS - IL Could Recover $1.3B In Corporate Tax Loopholes.
SPORTS - The Ex-Cub Factor.

BOOKS - Myopic 2000.

PEOPLE PLACES & THINGS - Mailbox Fishing.

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