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The [Wednesday] Papers

Chicago police chief Phil Cline says he is "sickened and embarrassed" about the Anthony Abbate incident, but it's not at all clear that he recognizes or is willing to acknowledge the depth of the problem with the department's throwback culture.

It's not clear either that the oldstream media has a firm grip.

While the Tribune has done fantastic work in recent years on the death penalty, prosecutorial misconduct, and other failings of the criminal justice system, it was John Conroy at the Reader who did Pulitzer-worthy work laying out the horrific tale of torture that occurred under Jon Burge that still festers - and that the mayor still refuses to speak honestly about.

More recently, Jamie Kalven has been documenting the incredible rarity of Chicago police officers actually being disciplined for their abuses.

It's of a piece. Chicago's version of community policing is a sham. The mayor refuses - for reasons that can only be interpreted as racist and political - to sanction beat redeployment to actually put the most cops where the most crime occurs. His alternate solution to a murder rate that became the nation's worst among big cities on his watch was to create an elite tactical unit that has, predictably, turned out to be a problem in and of itself.

For the most part, though, these sorts of issues don't get hashed out in the media. The city's never looked better, you know.

(Even a John Calloway interview of Cline recently broadcast on Chicago Tonight was an exercise in puffery. I'd link to it but it doesn't seem to be available online. A lot of questions like "Did you always want to be a cop?")

But here comes Cline now to say that Anthony Abbate has "tarnished our image worse than anybody else in the history of the department."

Huh?

Worse than Burge? Worse than Hanhardt? Worse than Miedzianowski? Worse than the officers in the Ryan Harris case, or the police rioters of '68?

(And how easily has Cline's predecessor, Matt Rodriguez been forgotten? Consider: the mayor's police chief had to resign for consorting with a felon and onetime murder suspect.)

Abbatte's bartender beatdown looked ugly, but it hardly compares to the cases the city settles each year with other abused citizens.

The Sun-Times found Cline's outrageous claim valid enough to plop on its front page this morning in a presentation framed around our "top cop" cracking down on "thug officers," instead of asking where Cline has been all this time.

You can bet Cline is a lot angrier that Abbate was captured on videotape than about the fact that a drunk loser on his force blew his stack while off-duty.

Carol Marin, as usual gets it right.

"We don't need one more promise. Or one more policy to protect us from wayward police officers," Marin writes this morning.

"What we need, once and for all, is a true accounting of just how big this problem is and how much it's costing us. What we need is a comprehensive plan to deal with police brutality, not to mention torture, in a holistic, sensible, truthful way. That's something nobody, not the mayor nor superintendents of police nor state's attorneys, have ever been willing to do."

Cline Time
Cline is demoting a captain and investigating other officers for giving Abbate special treatment yesterday at a Cook County courthouse that included harassing the media and using police vehicles to hide Abbate as he left from his courtroom appearance, the Sun-Times reports.

Cline said he was stunned by the special treatment of Abbate, the paper says.

Yes, I wonder where those officers got such an idea.

Loop Hole
"More than 13 percent of the math and reading tests taken by Illinois students last year were not counted under the No Child Left Behind law, more than three times the percentage exempted the previous year," a Tribune analysis of state data shows.

"There is nothing I can say except this is insane and ridiculous," a representative of the Education Trust told the paper.

Just the latest in a series of insane and ridiculous news from the school testing front.

Test Case
From a recent Week in Review panel questioning the implausible rise in Chicago test scores.

Andrew Herrmann, Sun-Times: If the testts are what children should be learning, it seems like a good tool to me.

Kate Grossmann, Sun-Times: [The scores are] an illusion. Principals could not say what they did differently.

Herrmann: Maybe the tests from last time were faulty.

Joel Weisman, moderator: Yeah, they were too hard.

Barack's Boo-Boos
* "Rookie Mistakes Plague Obama."

* "Obama's Gaffes Start To Pile Up."

* "Is Obama All Style and Little Substance?"

* "Clinton Doubles Obama Sum in Hollywood Fundraiser."

On MSNBC's Tucker yesterday, Lynn Sweet said the Obama campaign's response to the discrepancies the Tribune found between reality and what Obama wrote in his memoir was "defensive."

"People outside the Beltway don't care," Sweet says she was told. "That's just Washington talk."

So the campaign apparently isn't questioning the Tribune's reporting; they're just hoping nobody notices.

Tilton's Take
United's unions are livid about CEO Glenn Tilton's $23.8 million compensation last year that came as the airline emerged out of bankruptcy in part due to worker cuts.

United spokeswoman Jean Medina justified the company's performance-based pay structure for executives this way: "If the company doesn't perform, they don't get it."

Right. And what better way for the company to perform than to cut workers' salaries and benefits to prop up the bottom line?

Trib Take
* Bloomberg News reports that Tribune Company may accept Sam Zell's offer by the end of the week.

* "Zell's Past May Hint At Plan For Tribune."

* The Rev. Jesse Jackson plans to attend TribCo's annual meeting in May.

The Beachwood Tip Line: Performance-based.



Permalink

Posted on March 28, 2007


MUSIC - The Weekend In Chicago Rock.
TV - Trump's Disastrous FCC Chair.
POLITICS - Filing: Walmart CEO Made $22.4 Million Last Year.
SPORTS - Teens Still Underreporting Concussions.

BOOKS - America, We Need To Talk.

PEOPLE PLACES & THINGS - Beachwood Photo Booth: Wyoming, Michigan.


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