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The [Wednesday] Papers

I guess I missed the story earlier this week about Rahm Emanuel allegedly telling Chicago Teachers Union president Karen Lewis that "25 percent of the students in this city are never going to be anything, never going to amount to anything and [I'm] never going to throw money at them."

That explains why this Simpsons clip showed up on my Facebook feed, though.

*

"That's simply false," Rahm press secretary Sarah Hamilton said of Lewis's charge.

That's all well and good, but if Rahm is going to call Lewis a liar, I'd like to hear him say it himself and not through a spokesperson.

And believe me, I'm not just taking Lewis's word for it, either. The CTU has been nearly as disingenuous at times in recent months as the mayor's office.

At least Lewis is speaking for herself, though. Say it out loud and say it proud, Rahm! Then we'll know for sure that one of you is lying.

*

"As insincere as some may find him on issues, when it comes to kids and education he means what he says in public," Rahm's former driver said in a letter to NBC Chicago reacting to the story.

He's usually totally two-faced, but on this he really cares!

Collection Plate
"Chicago has a lot of nicknames but maybe taxpayers should start calling it the 'Fastest City on Earth' - at least when it comes to collecting revenue," the inimitable Parking Ticket Geek writes at The Expired Meter.

"Less than two weeks ago, the Chicago City Council passed a debt recovery ordinance which allowed the city to use the Illinois State Comptroller's office to grab taxpayer's Illinois income tax refund to pay for outstanding debt from parking tickets, red light camera tickets, water bills and other other overdue debt.

"The ordinance became effect on February 15th, the day the Mayor signed it.

"Immediately, in fact that same day, the city transmitted the required paperwork to begin the process of intercepting taxpayer refunds on behalf of Chicago according to Illinois State Comptroller spokesperson Michael Dropka . . . Illinois Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka's office began issuing notice letters to affected taxpayers as early as February 21st, according to people who have received the letters."

This is a terrible practice that - were it Mitt Romney's, for example - demonstrates the superwealthy Rahm Emanuel's disconnect from the vast majority of the citizens he rules over.

You should have the right to decide when to pay your tickets and what fines for delays you're willing to incur. The city has no right to make itself the first creditor; what if you have more pressing bills to pay? We all decide at times what bills to let slide. Take the State of Illinois, for example; if only it would be forced by the federal government to pay its social service vendors before paying its lawyers, consultants and corporate handmaidens. It's an outrage. Hands off my refund! Government is not my accountant, my spouse or my business partner.

*

"The power to dip into tax refunds before they're sent out comes from a little-noticed state law that took effect two months ago that allows cities and school districts to go to the state comptroller for help collecting what they're owed," the Tribune reported.

I'm guessing that "little-noticed" means unnoticed by reporters.

Maybe they just didn't care.

"You should just pay your tickets," WGN's Randi Belisomo said on Chicago Newsroom.

Rahm Emanuel is the mayor, he makes the decisions and you know, as just one Chicagoan, wherever he wants me to line up, just tell me where!

*

"I'm actually leveling the playing field so it doesn't tilt in favor of those who cheat, and cheat other taxpayers," Emanuel said Tuesday.

Wrong. You're tilting the playing field even further against those who are struggling enough as it is without the city acting like a collections agent out to get you for staying at a Morgan Stanley parking meter one minute too long too many times.

*

It's also a recipe for disaster for another, familiar reason: Sometimes ticket collections get royally fucked up.

"I got a letter today from the state claiming Chicago is withholding $100 from my income tax refund for an old parking ticket," suburban resident Glen Popelka told The Expired Meter. "I called the city to get the details, and the ticket is a parking in the alley violation from October 8, 1993. The clerk says I challenged the ticket and lost, but never paid. They can not produce evidence of the challenge."

*

See also: Son's Parking Tickets Holding Up Mom's State Tax Refund

Hogan's Anti-Heroes
"More than 125 of the University of Illinois' highest profile faculty members have said they have 'no confidence' in school President Michael Hogan and have called for his removal," the Tribune reports.

"Their letter, sent Monday to the board of trustees, is the faculty's latest clash with the beleaguered president, whose standing began unraveling earlier this year when his chief of staff and top adviser resigned after anonymous, inflammatory emails sent to a key faculty group were traced to her computer."

See ya' Mike, thanks for playing!

*

"U. of I. board Chairman Christopher Kennedy replied in a letter that trustees 'continue to support (Hogan's) efforts" and said the faculty concerns are 'peripheral to the core values that we think a strong president brings.'"

That might be true if Hogan were running the Merchandise Mart, but these concerns hardly seem peripheral to the university's core values:

"The faculty members contend Hogan has lacked financial discipline; usurped duties usually assumed by the campus chancellor; tried to bully faculty and the chancellor on enrollment issues; and generally has had a 'failure of ethical leadership,' a criticism levied by the Urbana-Champaign faculty Senate earlier this month."

Worse for Hogan:

"The 130 faculty members who signed the letter make up about two-thirds of the named and endowed professors and chairs on the Urbana-Champaign campus. Their titles indicate they are some of the most accomplished scholars in their fields, key to attracting students, other faculty and funding to the university."

*

U. of I. spokesman Thomas Hardy "said that while the letter was signed by 'an impressive number of highly regarded members of the faculty,' there are 3,000 faculty members at Urbana-Champaign."

So maybe he's still popular with the scrubs?

Start assembling the search committee, folks.

Tax Hacks
"A groundbreaking, comprehensive look at state business tax climates shows that Illinois is indeed a high-tax state for mature companies but fairly competitive for newly established firms, especially distribution centers and capital-intensive manufacturers," Crain's reports.

Interesting. I'm just wondering what this "quote" is doing in the story:

"'As with all studies relating to Illinois and its business climate, we look forward to a careful review of this study,' Kelly Kraft, spokeswoman for Gov. Pat Quinn's budget office, said in an e-mail. 'In the meantime, we continue our work to make Illinois an attractive place to do business by utilizing our highly skilled workforce, transportation system, state-of-the-art universities and cultural centers to attract businesses from all over the world.'"

Look, if the governor doesn't have anything useful to say about the study - he probably hasn't read it yet, but who knows - find someone who does. But reporters are under no obligation to prove that they made the call - or sent the dreaded e-mail - or to publish whatever pablum they get in return for their meager efforts. Just write that the governor hasn't read the report yet, or that the governor's office doesn't have a useful comment or just leave it out. No reader will be left dying to know what the governor thinks.

Muslim McCarthyism
"Less than one week after sending a letter to Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy, a Muslim rights advocate organization says it has been reassured that Chicago police will not undertake blanket surveillance of the city's Muslim population," WBEZ reports.

"The Chicago office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations addressed the letter to McCarthy after learning that while McCarthy was police director in Newark, N.J., he knew of a wide-ranging surveillance operation that the New York Police Department undertook to monitor Muslims in Newark. The 2007 surveillance operation, which NYPD characterized as a 'joint operation' with the Newark Police Department's Criminal Intelligence Unit, resulted in a 60-page report about where Muslims in Newark lived, socialized, and prayed.

"McCarthy has distanced himself from the operation. On Tuesday morning, McCarthy met with individuals from CAIR-Chicago and from the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, to respond to their concerns."

Fine. But what about our concerns?

"When Garry McCarthy was still head of the Newark police department, New York City cops started doing surveillance of Muslims in the New Jersey city," WBEZ previously reported.

"The Associated Press obtained a copy of a secret demographic report by the New York Police Department which details Muslim communities in Newark. The report includes pictures and basic information on Muslim-run businesses, such as a West Indian American grocery store and an internet cafe where ID is not required. It profiles 'Newark Fried Chicken,' which is owned and operated by Afghans. Notes on the restaurant include the observation, 'Location is in good condition and has seating capacity for 10 - 15 customers.'

"The report claims to be the result of a joint operation with Newark's police. But in a written statement, McCarthy said he was alerted as a courtesy that the NYPD would be on his turf, but he said no Newark cops were involved in the surveillance.

"McCarthy wouldn't take questions from reporters on the subject."

He'll only take questions in secret. About the secret operation.

Un-American Committees
"Lawmakers in the Illinois House earned an extra $661,000 last year for serving as committee officers, even though some committees met fewer than five times and a handful met once, a Chicago News Cooperative analysis found.

"The House committee system reveals one way in which Speaker Michael Madigan, Democrat of Chicago, builds loyalty among his members, who control the House by 64 to 54. Mr. Madigan not only chooses committee leaders, but he approves the creation of new committees, his office sets committee schedules, and he can steer the agenda by controlling which committees hear which bills."

Maybe the comptroller's office should intercept their checks instead of stealing our tax refunds.

*

"Mr. Madigan creates committees based in part on members' personal interests. That was how the railroads industry committee, headed by Representative Elaine Nekritz, started.

"'I was in a class of 35 people,' said Ms. Nekritz, who was elected in 2002. 'So by the time the speaker went through the seniority system, there wasn't really one left. He asked me if there was a subject area I was interested in, and I told him railroads.'"

Textbook government!

*

If only Nekritz had said she was interested in textbooks . . .

Cab Calloway's Chicago
From the Dreamland Cafe to The Blues Brothers.

Pitch-O-Matic!
Get your gadget seen on TV.

What Really Matters About Ryan Braun
The fantasy implications.

'Stache Act To Ways & Means
Join the movement.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Up all night.



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Posted on February 29, 2012


MUSIC - The Week In Chicago Rock.
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POLITICS - Trailer: Swing District.
SPORTS - Ryan Pace's Narratives Are Killing Us.

BOOKS - Chicago For Dummies.

PEOPLE PLACES & THINGS - The Sears Motor Buggy.


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