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The [Wednesday] Papers

Seeing as how the Quinn administration has already leaked the governor's budget plan, why even have him give a speech today?

Just post it online and get to work.

Of course, that doesn't suit the time-tested PR strategy of governors, mayors and presidents alike of milking three days of coverage framed to their liking out of an outsmarted (not hard to do, I admit) media.

Day 1: "Quinn To Propose Free Apple Pie To All Mothers Of Veterans."

Day 2: "Quinn Proposes Free Apple Pie To All Mothers Of Veterans."

Day 3: "Quinn Proposed Free Apple Pie To All Mothers Of Veterans."

It's so 1975, I know, but you start with Sneed and work your way around until your aides are giving reporters a private briefing to make them feel special.

Then the public - the portion that pays attention but mostly the lobbyists and special interest groups girding for battle - is primed and early reviews are considered; there's still time for tweaking!

The speech itself is a dog-and-pony show filled with slogans and platitudes - in Quinn's case about how good and true the people of the Land of Lincoln are - and everyone pretends the theater is real.

Former Better Government Association honcho Terry Brunner used to talk about how everyone goes along with these fakeries, even when it came to corruption. The mayor would (sort of) speak out, apologists would spout their usual defenses. pretend reformers would get on their high horse and the media would act shocked and outraged. Then business would return to usual the next day, as if nothing odd had happened at all.

In this case, the raft of stories to come will then "analyze" whether Quinn was too boring, didn't offer enough specifics, picked an election year fight, or signaled a willingness to compromise. All the narrative templates are ready to go.

There is something more essential going on in a budget fight, though, and it's something that's gone on from time immemorial. The poor and vulnerable will be sacrificed at the altar of fiscal responsibility while the Terry Duffys of the world be kept fat and happy.

Meanwhile, the media will exhort the citizenry to get involved - their apathy is to blame for the political class' corruption, you see - and then marginalize as smelly radical union longhairs those who dare to protest the current arrangement.

It's the longest running play in history.


See also: What Corporate Tax Loopholes Cost Illinois

And: Beachwood Exclusive! Quinn Budget Speech Preview

Orr Score
"Since the latest Chicago Public Schools 'reform' efforts began in 1996, Orr Academy High School in the West Side's Garfield Park neighborhood has been subjected to nearly every faddish attempt the corporate reformists have to offer," the Occupied Chicago Tribune reports. "It has been reconstituted, reengineered, intervened, broken up into 'small schools,' and combined into one large school all over again. The Academy of Urban School Leadership (AUSL) has managed this newest iteration since the 2008-09 school year.

"When it took control of the school, AUSL promised an increase in student achievement, strong involvement with the community, and a new school culture - but the changes it has delivered are criminally short of these ideals. Some Orr teachers, worried for the safety and future of their students, shared their experiences with the Occupied Chicago Tribune. The picture they paint of the school is gruesome - complete chaos in the hallways, blatant sexual assault against female students and staff, open drug use by students in the lunchroom, bigotry so severe that LGBT students have stopped attending school, and the falling test scores and attendance rates that one would expect amid such havoc.

"Their stories come on the eve of the school board's vote [on Wednesday] for the 17 proposed school closings and turnarounds. If the proposals pass, AUSL will add six more schools to the 12 it currently manages."


Curtis Black also reported on Orr this week in "Pushing Students Out: Noble, AUSL and CPS" for Newstips:

"One group backing Piccolo, Blocks Together, has worked extensively with students at Orr Academy, now in its third year as an AUSL turnaround school, and they report a variety of practices that seem to conflict with AUSL's commitments to CPS

"In its 2007 RFP submission to CPS prior to being given Orr, AUSL pledged to follow the district's student code of conduct, to support students with behavioral issues, and to institute a peer mediation program.

"Instead, Orr students are routinely given automatic suspensions for minor infractions, BT says. "We get suspended for the pettiest things," said Malachi Hoye, an Orr senior active with BT's youth group. 'Being tardy, not wearing your ID - it's two days.' Cursing gets you an automatic two-day suspension.

"The CPS code calls for an investigation of an incident with students 'afforded the opportunity to respond to the charges.' That doesn't happen at Orr, BT says. The code indicates a range of consequences for first-time minor infractions (like inappropriate language), including teacher-student conferences, conferences including parents or administrators, and detention; suspension is reserved for repeat offenses. That's not the practice at Orr either, apparently.

"'There are no steps, there's no effort to look at the situation,' said youth organizer Ana Mercado. She adds that, with constant administrative change at Orr - two principals in three years, and a revolving door for other administrators - disciplinary policies have fluctuated greatly. 'The expectations and consequences keep changing on the kids,' she said.

"Orr also 'turns kids away when they come to school without their uniform,' said Hoye. 'The tell them don't come back till you have one.' (He also complains about steep increases in the price Orr charges for its uniform jersey.)

"The CPS code specifies that students who fail to abide by a school's uniform policy may be barred from extracurricular activities but may not be given suspensions or detentions 'or otherwise barred from attending class.'

"And while the code requires parents to be informed of punitive measures, Orr got in trouble last year for dropping students without informing them or their parents."

Sit and Spin
"Mayor Rahm Emanuel today sought to frame last night's protest outside his home by hundreds of people upset at his plans to close or restructure several schools as a response to the difficult but necessary steps he's taking to improve the education of Chicago children," the Tribune reports.

The little people fearing change just don't appreciate how heroic Rahm is! He cares more about their children than they do! He sends his kids to private school!

"I understand people are anxious. I respect that. Because change is hard," Emanuel said. "But watching, year in and year out, kids captured in a system that's failing, is harder."

Breaking: Rahm Calls The 16 Years That CPS Was Under Daley's Control A Failure.

Like Saying Budweiser
Emanuel, Bill Daley To Lead Obama Campaign.

Breaking: Rahm, Bill Daley Repudiate Machine!

All Equity Being Equal
"Pritzker Group, which invests on behalf of the wealthy Chicago-based Pritzker family, has hired Robert W. Baird & Co. veteran Paul Carbone to lead its private-equity investment arm and expand that business," Crain's reports.

Later, the Pritzkers will donate money to President Obama's Super PAC to help fund commercials blasting Mitt Romney's private equity business.

Our Town
"The newly opened Mob Museum was stunning, but what stunned me the most was what was missing," John Kass writes today in the Tribune.

"There were only a few brief mentions of Chicago Outfit boss Paul 'The Waiter' Ricca - and no mention at all of a famous U.S. senator from Nevada known to the mob as 'Mr. Clean Face.'

"The museum, housed in the old courthouse in downtown Las Vegas, was worth every penny of the $18 entrance fee, especially since the first thing you learn is something everyone from Chicago will understand:

"Organized crime cannot exist without the help of local law enforcement and the judges and their messenger-boy politicians."


By the way, here's the Las Vegas Review-Journal column Kass mentions but doesn't link to. It's a more nuanced take than Kass describes.

The World Is A Ghetto
According to BJ The Chicago Kid.

Fantasy Nightmare
Best Chicago Players Come Up Short.

Summer Shandy
Leinie's Takes A Leap.


The Beachwood Tip Line: Say it all.


Posted on February 22, 2012

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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