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The [Wednesday] Papers

"Cook County Inspector General Patrick Blanchard says Joe Berrios has been dodging a subpoena for nearly a year," the Sun-Times reports.

"Now Blanchard is taking the Cook County Assessor to court. Blanchard's office sued Berrios late last week, asking a Cook County judge to force Berrios to comply with Blanchard's subpoena demanding records related to tax breaks on two properties owned by a Berrios office manager, Lewis Towers.

"He wants to know about homeowner's exemptions on Towers' homes in Chicago and Sauk Village. Residential property owners in Cook County may claim only one homeowner exemption - on the home where they live full-time."


Maybe Berrios and Towers are just confused and thought the word "exemption" meant they were exempt from the law.


Speaking of exemptions, is Bruce Rauner is under investigation too?

Hail Fire
"Storms Could Bring High Winds, 'Baseball'-Size Hail."

I tried to come up with a White Sox/Cubs joke for this, but I was already feeling a little cheap about that exemption joke.

Back In The USSR
"The Batavia High School teacher at the center of a recent controversy over his recommendation to students about a school survey was warned to keep his opinions about all future district initiatives to himself or risk losing his job," the Tribune reports.


"[Cubs] infielder Ian Stewart went on a Twitter rant Monday night in which he criticized the Cubs for not calling him up and bragged about earning seven figures in Triple-A. The team was not too pleased with that, and it has responded by suspending him indefinitely without pay," CBS Sports reports.

"The team used the standard loyalty clause in the contract to hand down the suspension."


But Batavia and the Cubs welcome the debate.


Possibly related:

"Here's what you would expect to see at the big office furniture expo in Chicago: ergonomic chairs, stylish lighting, the latest in cubicle design," the Tribune reports.

"Here's what you also get: the Guardian. It can be worn as a vest or draped on the back of your chair and is designed to protect today's office worker, teacher or security guard from gunfire.

"You can use the vest to protect your back, or you can kneel behind it, and it's designed to thwart a .357 Magnum slug."

Floppy Hat In Ring
I'm inviting the Cubs to meet with me about moving the team to Wicker Park. Do I get a headline too?

Corporate Crime Report
"The Chicago Board Options Exchange has agreed to pay a $6 million fine relating to what regulators call 'various systematic breakdowns' in the policing of its own procedures," the Tribune reports.

"The Securities and Exchange Commission announced the charge Tuesday and accused CBOE of 'a failure to enforce or even fully comprehend rules to prevent abusive short selling.'"


"Walgreen has agreed to pay $80 million related to allegations it broke federal rules that govern how prescription painkillers are distributed, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration said on Tuesday," Reuters reports.

"The DEA said the settlement is the largest in its history."


Possibly related:


There's The Beef
"A city panel yesterday approved a $5.0 million subsidy to finance Vienna Beef Ltd.'s move from the North Side to Bridgeport," Crain's reports.

"The Community Development Commission's unanimous approval of tax-increment financing (TIF) will help the Chicago-based hot dog maker cover the $5.0 million purchase and $7.3 million renovation of a 103,445-square-foot factory at 1000 W. Pershing Road."


Possibly related:

"Mayor Rahm Emanuel isn't ruling out seeking a way to raise Chicago Public Schools' property tax cap to help close the [alleged] $1 billion deficit the district faces," the Tribune reports.


Definitely related:

"Last summer in the midst of teacher contract negotiations and as they prepared to undertake massive school closings, CPS leaders said they were using one-time reserves to fill a budget deficit and were completely out of money," Catalyst reports.

"But on Wednesday, district officials said they will once again use one-time reserves to fill a budget deficit projected to be close to $1 billion. District officials made this announcement as they were releasing school budgets to principals.

CPS is facing a substantial budget deficit because it must contribute $612 million to pension funds, a $400 million increase from last year. Officials were hoping to spread those payments over a longer period of time, but last week state legislators didn't approve a bill that would have given the district a pension holiday.

CPS spokeswoman Becky Carroll said that the new reserves will be created by the county making property tax payments on time again this year. Carroll said the district also might garner some savings from the state keeping current with payments.

However, identifying the county payments as extra money is a direct contradiction to earlier statements. The annual audit, released in January, showed a fund balance of $329 million - a fact critics immediately jumped on accusing CPS of being dishonest by crying poverty and then ending up with money in the bank.

At the time, CPS officials said last year's one-time county property tax payment was not extra money, but had just been received earlier than expected and was already allocated.

Receiving money early is not the same as receiving more money. It's like saying your income will be more this year than last year because your tax refund is coming in sooner.

School Choice
"With more Noble Street charter schools opening next year, the student advocacy group Voices of Youth in Chicago Education and the Chicago Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law charged Tuesday that some of their practices are so unfair that they shouldn't be allowed to expand," Catalyst reports.

"The two reasons? They expel more students than traditional CPS schools and they don't enroll as many special education students."

STEM Cells
"As leaders push Chicago schools to focus more on STEM programs - science, technology, engineering and math - a new study finds that more than 88,000 students are exposed to these disciplines outside of school and more than half of them are girls," Catalyst reports.

"But Latino children, in particular, are left out of these programs. And few programs are offered during the summer.

"Summer is underutilized, [but] because of the flexibility it is probably the best space," says Gabrielle Lyon, co-founder of Project Exploration and chair of the Chicago STEM Pathways Cooperative.

Fewer STEM programs are offered during the summer because they are typically connected to schools rather than community organizations.

Another concern pinpointed by the report is that many STEM programs are "one-shot" activities without mentoring or internships that can really make the experience deep and lasting.

The study is ground-breaking, given that not much is known about the universe of out-of-school programs, especially those that focus on STEM learning. Lyon says that the report is "just the tip of the iceberg" in trying to get a handle on the availability of quality learning programs outside of school.


Rahm Emanuel is all about STEM programs these days ("Emanuel has changed from a Washington political hack to a policy wonk focused on creating STEM-heavy high school curriculums and real-world job training programs in community colleges", Time said in its now infamous "Chicago Bull" cover story), but as usual, his rhetoric does not match the data:

"The Economic Policy Institute published a report yesterday on the supposed shortage of professionals in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM)," the American Prospect (and others) reported last month.

"You've probably heard of the crisis by now. America is not producing enough STEM degrees. This will be the death of innovation and global competitiveness. We must reorient higher education to convert more liberal arts students into STEM students. And so on.

"The problem with this alleged crisis is that it is not real. As the EPI report lays bare, the common wisdom about our STEM problem is mistaken: We are not facing a shortage of STEM-qualified workers. In fact, we appear to have a considerable STEM surplus. Only half of students graduating with a STEM degree are able to find STEM jobs. Beyond that, if there was an actual shortage of STEM workers, basic supply and demand would predict that the wages of STEM workers would be on the rise. Instead, wages in STEM fields have not budged in over a decade. Stagnant wages and low rates of STEM job placement strongly suggest we actually have an abundance of STEM-qualified workers."

HUD Crud
"HUD spent $9 million to contract with the Urban Institute to conduct 8,000 undercover tests in 28 metropolitan areas in order to expose illegal housing discrimination," ProPublica reports.

"Yet the federal agency has no plans to use these tests to actually enforce the law and punish the offenders."

We've added some local info and retitled the report HUD Refuses To Prosecute Widespread Discrimination It Spends Millions To Find.

Fantasy Fix: The Biogenesis Factor
Advice from our man in fantasyland.


The Beachwood Tip Line: Tales from the encrypted.


Posted on June 12, 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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