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The [Wednesday] Papers

Okay, the chief justice of the state Supreme Court wins a libel suit and a $7 million judgement and it's not front page news at the Sun-Times?

The 7-year-old son of a Chicago woman holed up in a church to avoid deportation for entering the country illegally travels to Mexico to speak to lawmakers who pass a resolution asking that the woman not be deported and its not front page news at the Sun-Times?

A "small army" conducts a brazen daylight raid and kidnapping at the Iraqi Ministry of Higher Education in Baghdad - we cannot even secure the Iraqi Ministry of Higher Education in Baghdad - on a day when 117 people were killed around the country in a deteriorating situation that is nearly beyond catastrophe and it's not front page news at the Sun-Times?

And, just to be fair to its nature, O.J. Simpson will go on TV and describe how he committed the murders of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman . . . "if he did," and it's not front page news at the Sun-Times?


* The Real Estate Fairy.

* Rod Blagojevich: Getting Things Done.

* The real exclusive in the city today, by one of Chicago's stellar reporters.

* The House That Rahm Sort of Built.

* Greatest Dog the Bounty Hunter review ever.

Rev. Chump
Meeks wishes he would have run. (fourth item)

Minimum Thought
I didn't think anyone seriously believed anymore that raising the minimum wage resulted in job losses. Despite what the Tribune editorial page says this morning, the evidence that has piled up in recent years shows that hiking the minimum wage has virtually no effect on job availability - and in fact its positive effect on the economy ultimately creates jobs.

But the Tribune editorial page not only doesn't want the minimum wage raised, it doesn't seem to want it at all, asking in a readers' poll question if government should have any say on the wages employers set.

Now, let me ask you: Are we better or worse as a country for having minimum wages? Is our economy better or worse?

It does us no good to have people working 40 hours a week only to be mired in poverty and taxing our social services. A higher minimum wage actually saves taxpayers money in the end.

The Tribune does have an alternative idea: Expanding the Earned Income Tax Credit. So instead of requiring employers to pay a minimum wage, the Tribune wants taxpayers to subsidize workers' paychecks.

Don't get me wrong; I love the Earned Income Tax Credit. By all means, expand it. And raise the minimum wage. They aren't mutually exclusive.

Businesses do not operate apart from society or the law; they are regulated like any other enterprise. After all, by the Tribune's logic, you could argue that safety provisions cost jobs too. Or that allowing vacation days cost jobs. Or that 8-hour days with weekends off cost jobs.

You could also argue that subsistence wages are just as much a risk to the health and welfare of workers than unregulated toxic fumes.

Beyond that, mininum wages are just one piece of the puzzle. Even if they did cost jobs, other pieces of the economic development ought to be - and are - in place to fuel other job creation strategies. For example, there is actually a labor shortage in a wide array of well-paying fields that could be filled through training and education; there is also simple geographic mismatches. As Jesse Jackson Jr. often says, there are more jobs in the Northwest suburbs than workers who can fill them, but far fewer jobs on the South Side and in the South suburbs than workers who want them. (Which is why he's so adamant about building the Peotone airport.)

Raising the minimum wage is the right thing to do. The Tribune editorial page can't see that in its heart because, well, it has no heart. You can't cut your way to growth, much as the Tribune Company is trying. Same lesson applies to wages. Economies grow on investment, not withdrawal.

Chip Dip
"Mayor Daley today will introduce an ordinance to provide a $4.5 million city subsidy to Jays Foods Inc.," the Sun-Times notes today (second item). I eagerly await the Tribune's next editorial against government sticking its nose into the affairs of business.

Treasury Joke
Ha ha ha! Ooh boy! Whew! I'm in stitches! Stop! Please!

CTA Slo-Mo
The CTA can't afford to fix its slow zones.

Can't they sell sponsorships for that? This fast zone brought to you by Fast Eddie Vrdolyak? Or "From 7 to 11 in under four seconds, brought to you by 7/11"?

Or go the other direction and get Comcast to sponsor the slow zones.

By the way, the CTA can't afford Fast Frank Kruesi at the helm anymore. Neither can the mayor.

Bill the Butcher
Friend of Rod, Rich & Mike.

Their Truck
It's even worse for people who buy those Chevy trucks; the radio only plays one song.

New Boss
QT forgot to mention the Abscam episode of Jack Murtha, Nancy Pelosi's choice for House Majority Leader. Among other indiscretions.

Kentucky Fried Area 51
This is just wrong.

Keeping Up With Jones
"We've already had a 10-year freeze. Maybe we'll freeze your salary for 10 years and see how you guys react," state Senate President Emil Jones told reporters who asked him why he opposed freezing ComEd's rates.

Um, Senator Jones, reporters pretty much have had their salaries nearly frozen for 10 years - those who still have their jobs anyway - just like the rest of your constituents. So, how they react is that they want to know why ComEd needs huge rate hikes when its parent company is hugely profitable.

Jones, the Sun-Times notes, "maintains a close friendship with ComEd's chief executive."

So he's recusing himself from this one, right?

Cow Droppings
Phil Ponce teaser on Chicago Tonight last night: "And Mancow Muller will share his thoughts about the aromas we cherish."


Tarnished Gold
Is Chicago better off without San Francisco in the running for the 2016 Olympic Games? "It changed the landscape more for Los Angeles," the Tribune's Philip Hersh said on Chicago Tonight last night.

Why? Now L.A. has statewide unanimous support for its bid. Everyone in Chicago knows you're better off with two opponents on the ballot instead of one to split the vote.

More interesting, Hersh says - and has written - that San Franciso's stadium problem brings in sharper relief the fact that Chicago hasn't yet built a stadium, nor even has solid plans to go on. If the mayor had shown some foresight when he built Soldier Field, Hersh said, the city's chances of landing the Olympics would be "dramatically better."

The investment ahead is enormous. A billion dollars for an Olympic village, for example, and more to build many of the needed sports facilities. L.A., by contrast, already has its facilities in place and will use existing housing, including college dorms, for its Olympic village. L.A. needs to invest less than $200 million to pull the games off.

As consultant Marc Ganis pointed out, though, L.A. has a bit of the "been-there, done-that" factor. Which is why I think the United States Olympic Committee will pass on a 2016 bid.

In any case, both Hersh and Ganis thought Madrid had the best chance to land the games - the current competition is just for the U.S. entry. Two years of prep and lobbying will follow before the International Olympic Committee makes its choice.

Olympic Economics
Civic leaders who preach the economic benefits of events like the Olympics ought to be honest and just say, "No, it won't make money, but it will be a helluva lot of fun." Because that's the truth.

"The goal is to break even," Hersh said. "It's not going to be that one-time rainfall that people think."

In the meantime, the city is putting a lot of time, energy, and money into a bid that only came to realization in an election year when the mayor changed his mind about his past position on bidding for the Games.

As one reader put it to me, this isn't Daley's Dream (phrase used eight times since Sept. 21 by Fran Spielman), it's Daley's Smokescreen.

The Beachwood Tip Line: Ring it up.


Posted on November 15, 2006

MUSIC - December In Chicago Drill.
TV - Don't Weaken Media Ownership Limits.
POLITICS - Another SRO Crisis.
SPORTS - TrackNotes: Mom.

BOOKS - How Stereo Was Sold To A Skeptical Public.

PEOPLE PLACES & THINGS - Chicago Footwork King's Bail Battle.

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