The [Wednesday] Papers
"Beanie Babies creator Ty Warner has agreed to plead guilty to federal tax evasion and pay a fine of more than $53 million for failing to report money he earned in a secret account offshore, the government said this morning," Crain's reports.
Just two days ago we learned that Warner is the 209th most wealthy American, with a net worth of $2.6 billion. Apparently that just wasn't enough.
"The government alleges Mr. Warner 'went to great lengths' to hide from the IRS and his accountants more than $3.1 million in foreign income 'generated in a secret Swiss account,' Gary Shapiro, U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Illinois, said in the statement."
Meanwhile, here's what life is like for those who make the toys that made Warner an immensely wealthy man, as reported by ProPublica last April:
Ty Inc. became one of the world's largest manufacturers of stuffed animals thanks to the Beanie Babies craze in the 1990s.
But it has stayed on top partly by using an underworld of labor brokers known as raiteros, who pick up workers from Chicago's street corners and shuttle them to Ty's warehouse on behalf of one of the nation's largest temp agencies.
The system provides just-in-time labor at the lowest possible cost to large companies - but also effectively pushes workers' pay far below the minimum wage.
Temp agencies use similar van networks in other labor markets. But in Chicago's Little Village, the largest Mexican community in the Midwest, the raiteros have melded with temp agencies and their corporate clients in a way that might be unparalleled anywhere in America - and could violate Illinois' wage laws.
The raiteros don't just transport workers. They also recruit them, decide who works and who doesn't, and distribute paychecks.
And it's the low-wage workers - not the temp agencies or their clients, corporate giants like Ty - who bear the cost. Officially, the raiteros' fee, usually $8 a day, is for transportation. But, workers say, anyone who doesn't pay doesn't get work.
From this crowded barrio, raiteros ferry as many as 1,000 workers a day to warehouses and factories in Chicago and its suburbs. Many of these workers end up making about $6 an hour, well below Illinois' minimum wage of $8.25 an hour, because of the fees and unpaid waiting time.
"If you complain too much, they won't take you to work anymore," said Maria Castro, a Mexican immigrant who has worked on and off for Ty.
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See also: How Ty Does It: A Warning On Exploited Labor.
All About Bill
In case you missed my late posting of yesterday's Papers column, here it is.
The Political Odds have been adjusted accordingly as well.
"Rosebud Restaurant Group refused to hire African Americans at a number of its locations in the Chicago area, according to a lawsuit filed Tuesday against the chain by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission," the Tribune reports.
"The federal agency said its investigation revealed that company managers, including company owner Alex Dana, preferred not to hire African Americans and that managers used racial slurs to refer to blacks."
Not only that, but this:
"The federal agency spent eight months trying to eliminate the alleged discriminatory practices at the restaurants, but it was unable to obtain an acceptable agreement, according to the suit."
Really, Rosebud? You couldn't fix this?
The Replacements In Humboldt Park
Even half of the world's greatest rock 'n' roll band is better than the whole of anyone else.
The Return Of Philip Rivers
In Fantasy Fix.
Most Secretive President Ever
Obama Administration Helped Kill Transparency Push On Military Aid.
Rock On, Ricky
"Project Onward's recent move from the Chicago Cultural Center to a floor within a massive Bridgeport warehouse means much more space for the nonprofit's developmentally and mentally disabled artists," Casey Cora reports for DNAinfo Chicago.
"The Cultural Center was great for visibility and foot traffic, but we were pretty limited in what kind of art the artists could make ... so the idea of being part of an artist community [at the Bridgeport Art Center] is very exciting," said Rob Lentz, who heads the nine-year-old organization.
The group will celebrate its new digs on Friday with the premiere of Joy Bus Rides a first-of-its-kind exhibition featuring artwork from the famed, late schizophrenic performer Wesley Willis and his younger brother Ricky, a Project Onward artist who shares an ability with his late brother to create artwork depicting the city's infrastructure from memory.
Ricky Willis is "a living Google Earth, able to pinpoint virtually any building in the City of Chicago and tell you how to get there on the bus," Project Onward leaders say.
Next month, the group will host a screening of Wesley Willis's Joyrides, a 2008 documentary following Willis, who gained a cult following for drawing Chicago street scenes and penning far-out, obscene lyrics with his band The Wesley Willis Fiasco.
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The Beachwood Tip Line: Have it your way.
Posted on September 18, 2013