The Weekend Desk Report
By Steve Rhodes
The Weekend Desk has the holiday weekend off. We'll all be back on the beat around here come Monday morning.
The [Friday] Papers
* "Let me put the chilling language of bureaucracy in terms you may better understand," Dennis O'Toole writes in the Tribune: "There are 10.5 million fewer chickens to eat right now than a year ago, and, therefore, 21 million fewer wings. Demand, meanwhile, remains steadfast and unwavering. As a result, chicken breasts are cheaper than wings for the first time in the recorded history of things like this.
"Bars and restaurants all over our once-great nation have responded by booting wings from the menu. Such an act of cowardice is akin to spitting on a bald eagle or putting an American flag in the dishwasher."
* Must-Listen: The Sound Opinions Annual Turkey Shoot.
* Long live rock - be it dead or alive.
* "David Lee seemed to have found the perfect job," John Keilman writes in the Tribune.
"He was a longtime crack addict who, in sobriety, had discovered a talent for persuading other users to seek treatment. That led to a family business performing interventions, confrontations designed to get addicts to face their problem while ending their loved ones' enabling behavior.
"David and his brother Kevin traveled the country from their Lowell, Ind., office, preaching compassion wrapped in toughness, including the necessity of exiling a loved one if he refused to go along with the plan. The practice, David thought, was airtight. Time and again he had seen it work.
"But that was before it was turned upon him. In March 2008, David was kicked out of his company after suffering a series of relapses. No more paycheck, no more company car, no more free rent in the apartment above the office.
"A taste of one's own medicine is rarely sweet, but for David Lee it was a calamity. He felt abandoned and furious, and nearly disavowed what he had helped to build. It would take a full year for him to once again accept the insight that animated the entire system. The intervention wasn't really about him. It was about everyone else."
* "The I-Team has peeled back the layers of bureaucracy to reveal the truth about townships, units of government that critics call unnecessary and a waste of millions of dollars in tax money," Chuck Goudie reports.
"When you pay tax after tax, especially in Cook County, you expect that the money will be spent wisely on programs that matter and not just set aside for some rainy day in the future.
"But the ABC7 I-Team and the Better Government Association have discovered that Cook County townships have stashed away a fortune in tax money. They are sitting on more than $100 million in taxpayer funds - collected but unspent."
The [Thanksgiving] Papers
"Giannoulias, a Democrat running in the primary for U.S. Senate, released his tax returns the day before Thanksgiving, when fewer people are likely to notice the news. The treasurer has been criticized by Democratic Senate opponent David Hoffman for large Broadway Bank payouts to him and his family."
Because Giannoulias - a purported progressive committed to transparency and accountability - released his tax returns on the day before Thanksgiving, he will be punished here.
All Giannoulias has done is promise Illinoisans the same old way of doing business, using a media strategy to deceive voters by playing hide-and-seek.
Alexi Giannoulias, you are this year's Turkey Day Turkey of the Day.
2. Second place: Mayor Daley, for choosing Wednesday to name three new cabinet members.
3. Third place: Daley and the City Council Finance Committee. It's not only irresponsible to dole out $35 million in "property tax relief grants" of $25 to $200, it's politically transparent to use parking meter reserve funds to do so. Only Alds. Joe Moore (49th), Ricardo Munoz (22nd), Toni Foulkes (15th), JoAnn Thompson (16th) and Scott Waguespack (32nd) had the guts to vote no.
4. "Back on February 13, state rep Kevin Joyce introduced a bill to expand the kinds of materials open to the public under the Illinois Freedom of Information Act," Ben Joravsky reports. "On April 3 that bill passed the house and was sent to the senate, where it sat in committee for weeks. Legislators tell me that during that time city lobbyists got in touch with their allies in the senate, and on May 18 Senator Don Harmon gutted the bill, removing the language about the FOIA and adding an amendment that extended the life of the four Chicago TIF districts: Madden/Wells, Roosevelt/Racine, Stony Island/Burnside, and Englewood Mall. None of these fall into Harmon's legislative district.
"Harmon - who didn't return calls for this story - is from Oak Park, whose TIF policies seem to be almost as nutty as Chicago's, hard as that is to believe. (Hardly a week goes by without some Oak Parker calling and asking me to write about one TIF debacle or another.)"
Alexi Giannoulias may be the Turkey Day Turkey of the Day, but Don Harmon, you are this week's Worst Person In Illinois. You advance to the annual tournament with the wind at your back.
The Beachwood Tip Line: Better than Butterball's.
Posted on November 28, 2009
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