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The [Wednesday] Papers

The imperfect victims are the most heartbreaking, because they never really had a chance.

They are also, by far, the most common. Scores of lives lost; we will never know the contributions they might have made.


I understand the instinct to assign a greater value to victims like Hadiya Pendleton, but it's sort of heinous to declare her life more worthy than even the gangbangers who were given up on a long time ago. That doesn't mean her death isn't heartbreaking. It is. It's hard to even think about. But that's because she didn't die in anonymity, like so many. And, of course, because she had just been to the presidential inauguration and was an innocent victim. I get it. But, as John Kass writes in the column I link to above, even "guilty" victims have loved ones. Those who don't should be mourned even more, for their lives were even greater wastes.


See also: Tragic Dimensions, a column I wrote in 2003 expanding on the point. (And note my observation then about the meager coverage of the city's first-in-the-nation murder rate - 601 would be recorded, compared to 506 last year - and how easily Richard M. Daley seemed to skate on it. Later, of course, when the murder rate came down, Daley was showered in media glory.)

(I also compared the way victims were characterized in the coverage of the Lincoln Park porch collapse to the way they were characterized in the E2 nightclub tragedy, but I can't find it. The conclusion: E2 victims were essentially blamed for their own deaths, unlike the Lincoln Parkers on a crowded porch.)


See also: Chicago Homicides By Year.


See also: "Six years after a catastrophic porch collapse in Lincoln Park killed 13 people and forced a Chicago-wide crackdown on dangerous porches, the city has returned to a more passive vigilance of their hazards," the Tribune reported in 2009.

Death Spiral
"The U.S. Postal Service will stop delivering mail on Saturdays but continue to deliver packages six days a week under a plan aimed at saving about $2 billion annually, the financially struggling agency says," AP reports.

Business is bad, so let's make service worse!

So Chicago
"Highland Park City Council members defended the highly publicized sign variance they granted to Smashing Pumpkins singer Billy Corgan's tea shop, saying the business didn't get special treatment," the Tribune reports.

"When the item came up Jan. 14, the council approved it unanimously and without any discussion. Members didn't even wait to hear from the rocker, who said after the meeting that he was prepared to defend the oversized neon 'ZUZU's' sign that fills the window at Madame ZuZu's Tea Shop, 582 Roger Williams Ave.

"Nor did the council members wait to hear a staff presentation on the subject, which would have outlined how neon signs, other than small ones saying a business is open, are restricted by city code. The glowing ZuZu's sign - measuring nearly 4 feet tall and more than 13 feet wide - also covers more than 50 percent of the store's external windows; code allows up to 10 percent."

So Rahm
"Although the mayor did not put his call to jury duty on his daily schedule released each evening to the media for planning purposes, Emanuel did note his arrival on Foursquare. That in turn was sent to his Twitter account."

So Illinois
"Mental health treatment programs have become a major focal point in the contentious debate over gun control," Kurt Erickson writes for the Pantagraph.

In Illinois, of course, most of the discussion has centered on how the state has reduced spending on mental health programs.

The National Alliance on Mental Health recently reported that Illinois has cut spending on community mental health by 30 percent over the past three years. The organization also noted that the state's per capita spending on mental health was significantly below the national average.

In a recent report, Dr. Lorrie Jones said she doesn't consider the system broken.

"We've had to make some unfortunate changes," Jones told The Associated Press.

Jones ought to know about changes. Until last month, Jones was the person in charge of overseeing the state's mental health system.

On Jan. 1, however, Gov. Pat Quinn moved Jones out of her post as director of the mental health division of the Illinois Department of Human Services and made her a senior policy adviser.

Quinn spokeswoman Brooke Anderson said Jones continues to have a hand in her area of expertise, but she also is focusing on bringing Obamacare to Illinois.

"She is managing and coordinating mental health issues across state agencies and helping to lead the state's implementation of the Affordable Care Act," Anderson said.

Jones is the wife of former Senate President Emil Jones, D-Chicago. For now, she will continue to earn $193,200 per year, even though she no longer is serving as head of the mental health division.

Jones' salary, which is larger than Quinn's annual pay of $172,653, was put in place during Gov. Rod Blagojevich's tenure. Records show she received a 60 percent salary bump in 2005, from $116,460 to $186,000 annually.

Records show she received a more than $5,000 raise in 2010 after Quinn took over as governor. In 2012, state records show her salary ranked among the top 35 in state government.

As a reminder, the salary increases for Jones came as the state was reducing spending on mental health treatment programs.

At least some relief may be on the way, though. AP reports:

The Illinois House has approved a measure that authorizes new road building funds and transfers money saved from prison closures to child-welfare and mental-health services. The proposal passed by a 63-52 vote Monday, after a heated discussion.

Republican legislators accused Democrats of creating more spending rather than reforming the state's wrecked budget. The so-called supplemental appropriation includes $675 million to boost transit construction and $12 million for community mental health grants, among several other expenditures.

It authorizes $600 million to pay for state worker and legislator health insurance. The measure now moves over to the Illinois Senate.

So there's that.

Offshore Tax Dodges Cost Illinois . . .
. . . $2.5 Billion.

EXCLUSIVE! Inside The Ricketts' New Wrigleyville Hotel
We have the blueprints.

Guitar Report: Loops & Flames
Chicagoland axes check in.

Chicago's Best Reverse Speller
Not named Harry Caray.


The Beachwood Tip Line: Irreversible.


Posted on February 6, 2013

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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