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The [Wednesday] Papers

I'm only sorry I didn't think of it yesterday (and Major League Baseball would probably never allow it), but the perfect new Cubs owner just might be . . . Mike Veeck.

Bring back the magic, Mike.

"A close examination of Obama's first campaign clouds the image he has cultivated throughout his political career: The man now running for president on a message of giving a voice to the voiceless first entered public office not by leveling the playing field, but by clearing it," the Tribune reports in the latest of its fine (and finally arrived) series on Obama.

The story the Tribune tells today is one well-known within political circles: How he knocked his one-time sponsor, former state Sen. Alice Palmer, out of the Democratic primary that put him in the statehouse.

While a case could be made that Palmer dug her own grave, the Tribune shows that Obama also knocked two other candidates off the ballot in that race - clearing the field - in part on the kind of technicalities (and in part wholly legitimately) that have made ballot access a significant issue here and nationwide. After Obama's challenges, one candidate came up 86 names short on his nominating petitions, while another came up 69 names short. Obama's challenges were successful in part because of a purge at the time of nearly 16,000 "unqualified names" from the voter rolls.

Beyond that, the story fits neatly into two recurring themes of Obama's political career. First, that the stories he tells about his past and the rhetoric he employs about his ideals both stray from reality; second, that given a choice between principle and independence or Machine allies and tactics, he chooses the Machine every time. (The litany gets tiresome, but consider those he has aligned himself with at every crossroad: Richard M. Daley, Emil Jones, Todd Stroger, Joe Lieberman, Tony Rezko, Dorothy Tillman . . . )

Irony abounds. "In impromptu street-corner conversations and media interviews [during his first state senate campaign], he disparaged local pols for putting self-preservation ahead of public service," the Tribune account says.

But he defended his ballot challenges in that race by telling the Trib, "If you can win, you should win."

And finally, this:

"Asked whether the district's primary voters were well-served by having only one candidate, Obama smiled and said: 'I think they ended up with a very good state senator.'"

Very glib, very Daley, and very unsatisfying.

Apple Orchard
Thomas Bender of Chicago suggests in a letter to the Tribune that the police pension fund be billed for abuse settlements entered into by the city, instead of taxpayers footing the bill.

Streets, San and Videotape
The allegations against Al Sanchez are worse than those against Anthony Abbate.

Bizzaro Daley
"Mayor Daley has had it up to here with videotapes of barroom brawls involving off-duty Chicago police officers," Fran Spielman "reports."


The truth is that Daley went out of his way to single out off-duty cops, instead lumping them in with the general population and an admonition that "people shouldn't fight."

I saw the mayor's press conference on video and certainly got the full context; you can see what I mean, though, at the end of the Channel 2 report found on the right rail here titled "Brother Of Cop In Bartender Beating Also Caught On Tape," which shows Daley "finding humor" in the situation, avoiding the question, and cackling as he exits stage left.

Take a look and tell me if "Daley laid down the law to off-duty cops," as Spielman writes.

Daley's Law
Of course, Daley didn't lay down the law to his indicted former Streets and San Commissioner Al Sanchez, whom he finds to be a fine man and - somehow significantly - a Vietnam vet. I'm sure that will be a mitigating factor when it comes time for sentencing.

The Toddler
"Cook County Board President Todd Stroger has hired a $100,000 assistant whose job is to help craft Stroger's 'message' and devise his public relations 'strategy,'" the Sun-Times reports.

That makes sense. I mean, I can see how it would take a lot of money to convince the public Stroger isn't an idiot.

Heart of Stone
This nugget from the Tribune is all you need to know about the aldermanic runoff in the 50th Ward between incumbent Bernie Stone and challenger Naisy Dolar.

"Daley's political organization arranged for Mike Noonan, who managed Cook County Board President Tood Stroger's 2006 campaign, to run Stone's re-election effort."

All that's missing for Stone is an Obama endorsement.

Asian Alderman
If elected, Dolar would become the sole Asian-American on the council. Find out why.

The "F" Word
And what it has to do with chicks and cows. In our latest Open Letter.

Obama's White Flag
The Internet's liberal blog king says Obama "just surrendered to Bush."

Labor Pains
"Meanwhile, three other aldermen whose political opponents have received heavy support from organized labor were preparing to introduce an amendment to the city's ethics ordinance that would restrict union contributions in city elections," the Tribune reports.

"Huge labor donations have become 'one of the most outrageous things in terms of campaign finance,' said Ald. George Cardenas (12th), one of the sponsors."

Cardenas is less outraged about the $228,465 he received from business in the last go-around.

New Look, Old Story
The Sun-Times unveiled its latest redesign today. Ho-hum. While there are some decent elements, it still looks like a dowdy newspaper. And those full-length photos of columnists are nothing but a distraction. But the real problem is one that every redesign faces - that old lipstick on a pig thing. Unfortunately, nobody wants to improve the pig. It's not that hard to understand. Campbell's can change the label all they want, but if their soup still sucks, their soup still sucks. If the Sun-Times - or any paper - wants more readers, you have to make a better newspaper (website not only included, but emphasized). And making a better, must-read newspaper means quality journalism, not "Chicagopedia" entries that purport to explain what words such as "buddy" mean in to people who live here. Redesigns always work around the edges, and in areas like packaging health and shopping news, but never seem to spark better ways to actually report on the city - and that's the guts of any newspaper. Just once I'd like to see a redesign that also gamed out an investment and redeployment of reporters throughout the city, instructed reporters to always wonder during an interview why they're being lied to, and, say, mandated that each reporter file at least one Freedom of Information request a month. That would be a newspaper that would show readership gains.

The Beachwood Tip Line: Gaining on them.


Posted on April 4, 2007

MUSIC - Chief Keef Changed The Industry.
TV - Vizio's Best Product Is You.
POLITICS - UIC: Soda Taxes Work.
SPORTS - More McCaskey Malpractice.

BOOKS - All About Poop.


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