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The [Wednesday] Papers

1. Sneed: Chicago Police Department's Press Staffing Draws Flak.

Sneed doesn't really resolve for the reader what's going on in CPD's News Affairs division. Assignment Desk, activate!

2. Ethics Chief Blasts Aldermen For Pushing 'Unhealthy Secrecy.'

"The chairman of Chicago's reinvigorated Board of Ethics on Tuesday accused aldermen of injecting a 'very unhealthy secrecy into government for a privileged few' by changing the definition of 'city employees' to exclude independent contractors.

"At the behest of Ald. Leslie Hairston (5th), the City Council's Committee on Rules and Ethics approved the change and made it retroactive to Jan. 1.

"That will excuse roughly 45 independent contractors employed by aldermen from filing ethics statements disclosing their clients, what business they or their spouses have with other units of local government or companies doing business with local government.

"They also won't have to disclose other sensitive information that includes debts, capital gains and real estate holdings. nor will they have to abide by the ban on gifts valued at more than $250."

What motivated Hairston - a member of the council's Progressive Caucus - and her colleagues to make this change?

Hairston acknowledged Tuesday that aldermen inadvertently caused the confusion when the ethics ordinance was rewritten in March 2016.

That ordinance defined the terms "city employee" and "City Council employee" as "including an individual retained as an independent contractor by any of them."

That's why the definition needs to be changed, she said.

"Truly independent contractors [are] people who have separate offices. People who do not respond to the city. People who are not under the guidance of the city. People who set their own hours," Hairston said.

That's a pretty unsatisfying answer. Let's follow that link and see where it takes us.

In addition to their full-time and part-time employees, Chicago aldermen routinely hire independent contractors to advise them on media strategy and other matters.

Delmarie Cobb performs that function for Hairston and rookie Ald. David Moore (17th). In the past, Cobb has represented Ald. Anthony Beale (9th) and former Aldermen Terry Peterson and Leonard DeVille.

Cobb said she would rather give up the consulting fees she gets from aldermen than comply with the city's ethics ordinance.

"I'm an independent contractor. I'm not gonna be treated like a city employee," Cobb said.

Well la-di-da. But it's not about being "treated like a city employee," it's about making the entirely appropriate disclosures to prevent conflicts of interest involving taxpayer money.

"I have multiple clients. They don't all need to be public. I have no reason to fill out a form that defines me as a city employee. I'm just not gonna make my clients public."

Then don't take on public officials as clients. The private sector is the private sector; the public sector is just that - public.

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Back to the original article:

"[T]he revamped Board of Ethics has been shedding its longtime image as a paper tiger."

Is it shedding just its image, or is it changing its reality? Why not just say "The revamped Board of Ethics is no longer the paper tiger it once was."

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From the Tribune's version of the story:

"[J]ust how employees paid out of the $97,000 annual expense accounts provided by taxpayers to each aldermen are classified is up to aldermen, and to some extent, the employees themselves.

"The Tribune has reported extensively on council employees paid from those expense accounts. They have included relatives, political operatives and, in one case, a worker who had been banned from working directly for the city after he was accused of sexually harassing a co-worker. Ald. Matt O'Shea, 19th, was paid out of his predecessor's expense account and a committee fund before he was elected in 2011. It's unclear whether those types of workers are compliant with city ethics rules."

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"The issue came up after an undisclosed alderman this year asked the city ethics panel for an opinion on whether an unnamed contractor was allowed to receive compensation from a GoFundMe account."

3. From Politico's Illinois Playbook: Abortion Issue Heats Up.

HB40, as we discussed on Monday, contains two main tenets - one abolishes the so-called "trigger law" that makes abortion illegal in Illinois should Roe vs. Wade be overturned. The other, more controversial aspect funds abortion through Medicaid and for state employees. POLITICO had heard Rauner at one point considered an amendatory veto of the bill should it reach his desk. We asked about that on Monday, here's what his office, via Eleni Demertzis, said over e-mail:

Q: just wanting to clarify the governor's position on HB40 - if it reaches his desk he would veto the bill in its entirety or is he considering an amendatory veto?

A: "Per our statement from Friday, the Governor does not support HB40 and will veto the bill if it reaches his desk."

Q: In its entirety though, not an amendatory veto to support the trigger portion?

A: "Governor Rauner is committed to protecting women's reproductive rights under current Illinois law. However, recognizing the sharp divisions of opinion of taxpayer funding of abortion, he does not support HB40."

So . . . he'd veto the entire bill? That's the way it sounds, but for godsakes can we stop doing e-mail "interviews?" You're basically asking a PR person to send you a statement instead of actually exchanging questions and answers.

4. More Sean Sphincter.

Just to follow up on Tuesday's item (No. 4) about a Tribune column featuring Spicer as its subject:

Last January, Spicer appeared the the University of Chicago's Institute of Politics to give a talk in which he laid out the ground rules for being a successful PR. He said: "I have never lied . . . because if you lose the respect and trust of the press corps, you've got nothing. To go out and tell an all-out lie is something that's just not acceptable."

Ha ha. The U of C Institute of Politics, of course, is David Axelrod's outfit.

5. Blaming Hillary.

As I've written many times, I thought Hillary Clinton was a terrible candidate, but I don't understand blaming her for losing to authoritarian neo-Nazi pathological liar. When that happens, something else is going on in the country that the media still does not want to face; America is not the America they continue to seem to believe it is.

Besides that, no one in history has ever run a worse presidential campaign than the one Donald Trump ran, which is a fact going missing in the first account of many to come recapping the inside "scoops" of where Clinton supposedly went wrong.

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For example, Barack Obama reportedly called Clinton's handling of her e-mail issue "political malpractice." Perhaps he's right. But Trump committed political malpractice several times a day for the entirety of his campaign. And yet, the media (and apparently Obama) cling to the notion that because Clinton was "supposed to" win, it's her fault she lost.

It seems to me that Trump's ability to overcome lunacy after lunacy that in the past would've killed any other campaign dead in its tracks is the more interesting and revealing aspect of the election, and speaks to where a significant portion of the electorate was. But the media likes to focus on the inner mechanics, rivalries and gossip of those running campaigns more than the feelings of those who vote in those campaigns. Why didn't Trump's obvious unfitness for the office matter?

I'd suggest one part anti-Hillary hate drummed up for decades by the alt-right parallel universe paired with two parts out-and-out racism that Trump gave permission for voters to express.

And finally, Clinton did get almost 2.9 million more votes than Trump.

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P.S.: I've long believed in abolishing the Electoral College. I won't repeat the arguments why here, but let's not forget what this archaic system, built on racism like so many other things in this country, has wrought.

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Canada Cuts Youth Hockey Injuries In Half
And concussions by two-thirds.

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BeachBook

U.S. Drone Struck Syrian Mosque, Despite What U.S. Says.

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Facial Recognition Technology Used In Jury Selection.

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Chris Sale's Spectacular Start.

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Wikipedia Editors Ask Burger King To Apologize For Google Home Stunt.

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You Need A Permit To Hang A Hammock In Chicago's Parks.

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TweetWood
A sampling.

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Thread.

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The Beachwood Tronc Line: Unsanitized for your protection.



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Posted on April 19, 2017


MUSIC - The Weekend In Chicago Rock.
TV - FCC [Hearts] Sinclair.
POLITICS - Police Stood By In Charlottesville.
SPORTS - Why Colin Kaepernick Matters.

BOOKS - Windy City Blues.

PEOPLE PLACES & THINGS - Fish Unboxing.


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