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« January 2012 | Main | March 2012 »

February 29, 2012

The [Wednesday] Papers

I guess I missed the story earlier this week about Rahm Emanuel allegedly telling Chicago Teachers Union president Karen Lewis that "25 percent of the students in this city are never going to be anything, never going to amount to anything and [I'm] never going to throw money at them."

That explains why this Simpsons clip showed up on my Facebook feed, though.

*

"That's simply false," Rahm press secretary Sarah Hamilton said of Lewis's charge.

That's all well and good, but if Rahm is going to call Lewis a liar, I'd like to hear him say it himself and not through a spokesperson.

And believe me, I'm not just taking Lewis's word for it, either. The CTU has been nearly as disingenuous at times in recent months as the mayor's office.

At least Lewis is speaking for herself, though. Say it out loud and say it proud, Rahm! Then we'll know for sure that one of you is lying.

*

"As insincere as some may find him on issues, when it comes to kids and education he means what he says in public," Rahm's former driver said in a letter to NBC Chicago reacting to the story.

He's usually totally two-faced, but on this he really cares!

Collection Plate
"Chicago has a lot of nicknames but maybe taxpayers should start calling it the 'Fastest City on Earth' - at least when it comes to collecting revenue," the inimitable Parking Ticket Geek writes at The Expired Meter.

"Less than two weeks ago, the Chicago City Council passed a debt recovery ordinance which allowed the city to use the Illinois State Comptroller's office to grab taxpayer's Illinois income tax refund to pay for outstanding debt from parking tickets, red light camera tickets, water bills and other other overdue debt.

"The ordinance became effect on February 15th, the day the Mayor signed it.

"Immediately, in fact that same day, the city transmitted the required paperwork to begin the process of intercepting taxpayer refunds on behalf of Chicago according to Illinois State Comptroller spokesperson Michael Dropka . . . Illinois Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka's office began issuing notice letters to affected taxpayers as early as February 21st, according to people who have received the letters."

This is a terrible practice that - were it Mitt Romney's, for example - demonstrates the superwealthy Rahm Emanuel's disconnect from the vast majority of the citizens he rules over.

You should have the right to decide when to pay your tickets and what fines for delays you're willing to incur. The city has no right to make itself the first creditor; what if you have more pressing bills to pay? We all decide at times what bills to let slide. Take the State of Illinois, for example; if only it would be forced by the federal government to pay its social service vendors before paying its lawyers, consultants and corporate handmaidens. It's an outrage. Hands off my refund! Government is not my accountant, my spouse or my business partner.

*

"The power to dip into tax refunds before they're sent out comes from a little-noticed state law that took effect two months ago that allows cities and school districts to go to the state comptroller for help collecting what they're owed," the Tribune reported.

I'm guessing that "little-noticed" means unnoticed by reporters.

Maybe they just didn't care.

"You should just pay your tickets," WGN's Randi Belisomo said on Chicago Newsroom.

Rahm Emanuel is the mayor, he makes the decisions and you know, as just one Chicagoan, wherever he wants me to line up, just tell me where!

*

"I'm actually leveling the playing field so it doesn't tilt in favor of those who cheat, and cheat other taxpayers," Emanuel said Tuesday.

Wrong. You're tilting the playing field even further against those who are struggling enough as it is without the city acting like a collections agent out to get you for staying at a Morgan Stanley parking meter one minute too long too many times.

*

It's also a recipe for disaster for another, familiar reason: Sometimes ticket collections get royally fucked up.

"I got a letter today from the state claiming Chicago is withholding $100 from my income tax refund for an old parking ticket," suburban resident Glen Popelka told The Expired Meter. "I called the city to get the details, and the ticket is a parking in the alley violation from October 8, 1993. The clerk says I challenged the ticket and lost, but never paid. They can not produce evidence of the challenge."

*

See also: Son's Parking Tickets Holding Up Mom's State Tax Refund

Hogan's Anti-Heroes
"More than 125 of the University of Illinois' highest profile faculty members have said they have 'no confidence' in school President Michael Hogan and have called for his removal," the Tribune reports.

"Their letter, sent Monday to the board of trustees, is the faculty's latest clash with the beleaguered president, whose standing began unraveling earlier this year when his chief of staff and top adviser resigned after anonymous, inflammatory emails sent to a key faculty group were traced to her computer."

See ya' Mike, thanks for playing!

*

"U. of I. board Chairman Christopher Kennedy replied in a letter that trustees 'continue to support (Hogan's) efforts" and said the faculty concerns are 'peripheral to the core values that we think a strong president brings.'"

That might be true if Hogan were running the Merchandise Mart, but these concerns hardly seem peripheral to the university's core values:

"The faculty members contend Hogan has lacked financial discipline; usurped duties usually assumed by the campus chancellor; tried to bully faculty and the chancellor on enrollment issues; and generally has had a 'failure of ethical leadership,' a criticism levied by the Urbana-Champaign faculty Senate earlier this month."

Worse for Hogan:

"The 130 faculty members who signed the letter make up about two-thirds of the named and endowed professors and chairs on the Urbana-Champaign campus. Their titles indicate they are some of the most accomplished scholars in their fields, key to attracting students, other faculty and funding to the university."

*

U. of I. spokesman Thomas Hardy "said that while the letter was signed by 'an impressive number of highly regarded members of the faculty,' there are 3,000 faculty members at Urbana-Champaign."

So maybe he's still popular with the scrubs?

Start assembling the search committee, folks.

Tax Hacks
"A groundbreaking, comprehensive look at state business tax climates shows that Illinois is indeed a high-tax state for mature companies but fairly competitive for newly established firms, especially distribution centers and capital-intensive manufacturers," Crain's reports.

Interesting. I'm just wondering what this "quote" is doing in the story:

"'As with all studies relating to Illinois and its business climate, we look forward to a careful review of this study,' Kelly Kraft, spokeswoman for Gov. Pat Quinn's budget office, said in an e-mail. 'In the meantime, we continue our work to make Illinois an attractive place to do business by utilizing our highly skilled workforce, transportation system, state-of-the-art universities and cultural centers to attract businesses from all over the world.'"

Look, if the governor doesn't have anything useful to say about the study - he probably hasn't read it yet, but who knows - find someone who does. But reporters are under no obligation to prove that they made the call - or sent the dreaded e-mail - or to publish whatever pablum they get in return for their meager efforts. Just write that the governor hasn't read the report yet, or that the governor's office doesn't have a useful comment or just leave it out. No reader will be left dying to know what the governor thinks.

Muslim McCarthyism
"Less than one week after sending a letter to Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy, a Muslim rights advocate organization says it has been reassured that Chicago police will not undertake blanket surveillance of the city's Muslim population," WBEZ reports.

"The Chicago office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations addressed the letter to McCarthy after learning that while McCarthy was police director in Newark, N.J., he knew of a wide-ranging surveillance operation that the New York Police Department undertook to monitor Muslims in Newark. The 2007 surveillance operation, which NYPD characterized as a 'joint operation' with the Newark Police Department's Criminal Intelligence Unit, resulted in a 60-page report about where Muslims in Newark lived, socialized, and prayed.

"McCarthy has distanced himself from the operation. On Tuesday morning, McCarthy met with individuals from CAIR-Chicago and from the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, to respond to their concerns."

Fine. But what about our concerns?

"When Garry McCarthy was still head of the Newark police department, New York City cops started doing surveillance of Muslims in the New Jersey city," WBEZ previously reported.

"The Associated Press obtained a copy of a secret demographic report by the New York Police Department which details Muslim communities in Newark. The report includes pictures and basic information on Muslim-run businesses, such as a West Indian American grocery store and an internet cafe where ID is not required. It profiles 'Newark Fried Chicken,' which is owned and operated by Afghans. Notes on the restaurant include the observation, 'Location is in good condition and has seating capacity for 10 - 15 customers.'

"The report claims to be the result of a joint operation with Newark's police. But in a written statement, McCarthy said he was alerted as a courtesy that the NYPD would be on his turf, but he said no Newark cops were involved in the surveillance.

"McCarthy wouldn't take questions from reporters on the subject."

He'll only take questions in secret. About the secret operation.

Un-American Committees
"Lawmakers in the Illinois House earned an extra $661,000 last year for serving as committee officers, even though some committees met fewer than five times and a handful met once, a Chicago News Cooperative analysis found.

"The House committee system reveals one way in which Speaker Michael Madigan, Democrat of Chicago, builds loyalty among his members, who control the House by 64 to 54. Mr. Madigan not only chooses committee leaders, but he approves the creation of new committees, his office sets committee schedules, and he can steer the agenda by controlling which committees hear which bills."

Maybe the comptroller's office should intercept their checks instead of stealing our tax refunds.

*

"Mr. Madigan creates committees based in part on members' personal interests. That was how the railroads industry committee, headed by Representative Elaine Nekritz, started.

"'I was in a class of 35 people,' said Ms. Nekritz, who was elected in 2002. 'So by the time the speaker went through the seniority system, there wasn't really one left. He asked me if there was a subject area I was interested in, and I told him railroads.'"

Textbook government!

*

If only Nekritz had said she was interested in textbooks . . .

Cab Calloway's Chicago
From the Dreamland Cafe to The Blues Brothers.

Pitch-O-Matic!
Get your gadget seen on TV.

What Really Matters About Ryan Braun
The fantasy implications.

'Stache Act To Ways & Means
Join the movement.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Up all night.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:23 AM | Permalink

Fantasy Fix: What's Really Important About Ryan Braun

The most shocking baseball news since 2011 MVP Ryan Braun tested positive for a banned substance was announced last week: Ryan Braun will not face a suspension for testing positive for a banned substance.

We'll let others debate whether this stinks to high heaven (it does, thanks for asking). The only thing that matters to us in the fantasy world is that we can draft Braun where we originally planned: No. 3 overall and No. 2 among outfielders.

In my overall top 10, that means Matt Kemp and Miguel Cabrera still are No. 1 and No. 2, but everyone gets pushed down a notch starting with Albert Pujols at No. 4.

There was a time before Braun's positive test that I would have considered taking him No. 1, but I'm impressed with Kemp's apparent desire to be the first 50 HR, 50 SB player - and I still wonder how much the loss of Prince Fielder will affect Braun.

Here are my top 10 outfielders:

Matt Kemp, LAD: I wasn't sure about this before, but he has been brash with public statements this winter, and I like the passion. He does have the tools to go 50/50.

Ryan Braun, MIL: I think he could have career years in HRs and RBIs just because he wants to prove everyone wrong. If Kemp is 50/50, he could be 40/40.

Jacoby Ellsbury, BOS: I don't think he'll hit 30-plus HRs again, but could be back above 50 SBs.

Jose Bautista, TOR: He continues to prove doubters wrong. Another 40 HR, 100 RBI year should be a snap.

Carlos Gonzalez, COL: He missed 35 games last year, but still hit 26 HRs and had 20 SBs, and is still only 26 years old.

Justin Upton, ARI: He should probably be in the top five. He could easily go 30/30, which is something at 24, but he's streaky and SBs didn't seem to be a priority last year.

Curtis Granderson, NYY: No way he'll hit 41 HRs again, but I said the same thing about Bautista a couple years ago. He could manage 30/30.

Mike Stanton, FLA: Another young stud, not yet 23. Middling average and lack of speed are weaknesses, but he could collect 40 HRs and 100 RBIs.

Josh Hamilton, TEX: A lot of reasons to be concerned, but he will spend the year shaping his case for free agency, which usually helps fantasy stats.

Andrew McCutchen, PIT: Disappointing average and SBs were down last year, but he is still a 25/25 candidate.

Just missed: Nelson Cruz, TEX; Desmond Jennings, TAM; Matt Holliday, STL; Hunter Pence, PHI.

Expert Wire
* Bleacher Report says our WHITE SOX have four must-draft starting pitchers. I'm thinking that is a very deep draft. .

* Yahoo! Roto Arcade weighs the merits of young second basemen Dustin Ackley vs. Jemile Weeks.

* Sports Chat Place ranks the top catchers. I'll do that next week.

-

Send Dan your comments and complaints.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 3:54 AM | Permalink

Cab Calloway's Chicago

An American Masters episode on Cab Calloway debuted this week on PBS to generally good reviews. While Calloway is mostly a New York figure, Chicago played an important role in his career. Let's take a look, first with a bit of background and then some video.

*

"Although Calloway came of age at the Cotton Club in Harlem (during a time when blacks were not allowed to sit in the audience), his Chicago connections are important," Dave Hoekstra wrote in the Sun-Times.

The links that follow are mine because the Sun-Times still doesn't know how to make them. See how they enrich the story - along with the videos. 3-D journalism, my friends.

"His older sister Blanche was the bandleader for Blanche Calloway and her Joy Boys, a Chicago-based band that included Louis Armstrong and future Calloway drummer Cozy Cole. Cab Calloway debuted in Chicago in 1928 at the Dreamland Cafe.

"According to Dempsey Travis' An Autobiography of Black Jazz, the Dreamland was managed by Bill Bottoms, who later became the chef for boxer Joe Louis. Calloway's first full-time gig was as house singer with Armstrong and Earl Hines at the Sunset Cafe, 35th and Calumet. The mobbed-up Sunset was the South Side's version of the Cotton Club, with chorus girls, comedians and tap dancers."

In 1929, Calloway became the leader of the 11-piece Chicago band the Alabamians. They played the Savoy in New York; the band came home and Calloway stayed there.

*

"And then there was The Blues Brothers, where Calloway was introduced to another generation," Hoekstra writes.

"The hourlong documentary closes out on a high note with the Blues Brothers segment. There is no mention of Calloway's death. Blues Brothers director John Landis offers engaging and vivid recollections of working with Calloway, especially trying to get Calloway hep to a vintage version of 'Minnie the Moocher.' Calloway was set on using a disco version he had just recorded."

*

Hi De Ho, 1934.

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The Sunset Cafe.

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Minnie the Moocher, 1950s.

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Minnie the Moocher, The Blues Brothers.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 2:42 AM | Permalink

February 28, 2012

'Stache Act To Ways & Means

Greetings,

As you probably know, last week on the west lawn of the U.S. Capitol, the American Mustache Institute launched its Million Mustache March in support of the proposed Stache Act (details and white paper here). This week, the office of of Maryland 6th district U.S. Rep. Roscoe Bartlett informed AMI that the congressman has begun the process of ensuring the 'Stache Act becomes law by passing the proposal to the House Ways and Means Committee for study.

Join the movement.

As a supporter of the American Mustache Institute, I pledge to:

* Lobby the administration of President Barack Obama, asking him to grow a mustache during his first term to demonstrate solidarity with people of Mustached American descent.

* Applaud any Mustached American as they walk past me on the street.

* Castigate clean shaven mortals and remind them that their bare-lipped appearance is a sign of weakness and communism.

* Dislike all things associated with Dave Navarro.

* Continue my mustache growth in the extremely rare case that it causes significant decreases in sexual activity, friendships, and approval by society at large.

* Never own a cat or watch Sex And The City.

* Distrust clean-shaven officers of the law, and if approached by a mustache-free constable, dial 911 and proceed to a nearby police station, where a squadron of heavily mustached officers will greet me with open arms.

* Consider the environment before shaving my mustache.

* Never forget that every time a mustache is shaved an angel in heaven dies and falls to earth.

AMI Disclaimer: AMI supports healthy, performance enhancing-free mustaches that contain no pesticides. While the vast majority of mustache wearers have highly positive responses from friends, exotic dancers and grade school teachers, mustaches should be worn at your own risk, understanding that AMI is not responsible for mustaches that make men look like child molesters or Dave Navarro. Wearing a "Dictator" mustache may lead to repeated beatings, and women are encouraged to avoid wearing mustaches if looking for male companionship or hoping to find employment outside of waste collection. If a mustache causes you to have an erection for more than four hours, seek immediate attention from a doctor, spouse, girlfriend, or Dave Navarro. In extremely rare cases, mustaches may cause significant decreases in sexual activity, friendships, and approval by society at large. Consult a physician before exploring your personal mustache capabilities, as premature mustache growth may lead to feelings of despair and depression.

-

Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:09 PM | Permalink

The University of Clout

"Politicians exerted their influence at the University of Illinois to boost admissions prospects for the relatives of lobbyists, fundraisers, a union leader and other connected applicants," the Tribune reported over the weekend.

"The first broad analysis of who benefited from the school's clout lists shows that a number of lawmakers championed applicants whose relatives donated to their campaigns or represented groups that regularly made political contributions.

"Family members of at least three lawmakers also were part of the now-abandoned secret system, known as Category I, a separate admissions track that allowed some subpar students to get admitted to the state's flagship university."

Well that makes sense, since we obviously have subpar legislators.

*

"About 60 politicians backed students seeking admission to the Urbana-Champaign campus in 2008 and 2009, according to records kept by the university's governmental relations office, which tracked the inquiries from lawmakers and other politically connected individuals. U. of I. trustees and donors also tried to help applicants."

*

"Illinois Senate President John Cullerton, D-Chicago, asked about a relative of real estate broker and lawyer Steven Samuels, who has attended Cullerton political fundraisers and is a former legal client.

"Samuels' business partner told Cullerton in 2009 that Samuels' relative, a student with a high ACT score and stellar grades, had been wait-listed, said Cullerton spokeswoman Rikeesha Phelon.

"'When the Senate president heard that, he wondered why a student of that caliber was wait-listed,' Phelon said. 'It was not a demand for action.'"

Oh please, Rikeesha. I'm not even going to dignify that with a snide remark.

*

"U. of I. staffers took Cullerton's inquiry in a different light, however.

"Terry McLennand, the U. of I. official who handled many of the requests, asked then-Chancellor Richard Herman to help. 'The (Senate) President thought this students scores seemed a little high for wait list and asked if we could intervene and admit the student at this time rather then waiting for the April decision date,' he wrote."

It was not a demand for action, though. It was a strongly worded request accompanied by a wink hard enough to be heard through the phone.

"The student was admitted in April, according to university records.

"Samuels said he has referred others to Cullerton's law firm for tax appeal work and that he has made small donations to Cullerton's campaign fund. State records show he gave $250 in 2007 and $500 in 2008.

"'I didn't ask (Cullerton) to do anything on behalf of me,' Samuels said. 'You're doing your job, but I am offended by this call. I don't think anything was done that was improper.'

Samuels is offended by the Tribune's call, but not Cullerton's.

*

"Cullerton made eight admissions requests from 2005 to 2009, of which at least seven of the students were admitted."

Did we mention that Cullerton is the state senate president? I'm sure no one else needed to.

"The Tribune previously uncovered the names of politically connected applicants tied to House Speaker Michael Madigan, who made more requests than any other politician. In recent years, the Chicago Democrat helped political allies and donors who contributed $115,200 to campaign funds he controls. He helped relatives of a Chicago alderman, a high-ranking Chicago police official, campaign workers and his family members.

"But powerful Democrats were not the only ones who got involved in admissions.

"House Republican Leader Tom Cross of Oswego helped a lobbyist's relative gain admission after the student was initially denied. In an email exchange with university officials in February 2009, a top Cross aide asked U. of I. to reconsider the application of a family member of lobbyist Bruce Simon, who regularly gives to Democrats and Republicans, including Cross and House GOP organizations.

"McLennand responded with detailed instructions on how to navigate a then-unadvertised appeal process, with tips on what information to include. The university did not typically offer other denied applicants the chance to appeal, but the connected Category I students were encouraged to. The university now allows anyone to appeal.

"'This is a very challenging year for applicants, both in terms of numbers and the qualifications; so we can't promise anything, but we will push it as best we can,' McLennand wrote to Cross' aide. The student was admitted, according to a student directory."

McLennand pushed as best he could. That's what they teach you to do at the University of Illinois.

"In a statement, Cross described Simon, who does not live in his district, as an acquaintance and said Simon's political donations were unrelated to his intervention. Cross said he could recall no other instances in which he asked the university to overturn an admissions decision.

"'In Rep. Cross' 20 years, he only recalls a few times when an inquiry has been made, but doesn't recall the exact conversations,' a statement from his office said. Cross inquired about 13 applicants from 2005 to 2009, records show. Ten of them were admitted.

"Simon said his relative was well-qualified, and he encouraged future applicants to appeal.

"McLennand declined to comment on the Cullerton and Cross inquiries."

It's none of our business.

*

Finally:

"Officials routinely described their involvement as providing a constituent service, however the Tribune found many applicants did not live in the lawmakers' districts."

*

The Tribune has been on this story for a long time - and God bless 'em. ChicagoTalks also conducted an investigation of its own - see "The Scholarship Scam."

After I posted that in 2009, Madigan's spokesman, Steve Brown, sent me an e-mail and the following exchange occurred:

BROWN: [A] handful of questions. Guess the statistics speak for themselves. Most scholarships, actually nearly all, are awarded properly. BTW none of this works focuses on how well the students perform both in school and in professional, post college life.

ME: My contention would be that no scholarships awarded by elected office-holders are awarded properly. Pols shouldn't be in the business of awarding education scholarships, and the only reason why they are is to give them one more political perk to leverage. The program simply shouldn't exist.

BROWN: Your conclusion on the existence of the program is totally illogical and if carried forward would suggest that politicians should make no decisions. That should make the desk jockeys of the state excited, but is a setback for democracy.

ME: I really don't get what you're saying. Why should legislators award
scholarships? That's a perversion of democracy, as we see by the chicanery here. Leave the scholarships to the universities and colleges. It's that simple.

BROWN: My point is simple . . . the possible chicanery is minimal at best and while I am a fan of zero tolerance, I think further review would show the good outweighs the evil. I say possible because I know from long experience that not every donation/scholarship family is some quid pro quo.

Furthermore none if these stories even tries to determine the success of the students in class or upon graduation.

Finally if you have spent time around academics you should know they spend a lot of time maneuvering the system to get their darlings special treatment. Of course most academics get free tuition their kids.

*

Lastly, just to show how ridiculous the whole thing is, state Rep. Ken Dunkin's application for a legislative scholarship doesn't seem to contemplate that a high school student could just google the answers to such silly questions as who the lieutenant governor is and what the three branches of government are (trick question - there are only two: The House of Madigan and The Hall of Rahm).

But there I go taking the process seriously. Ken Dunkin has no business deciding who gets to attend the university. That's why they have a little something called the admissions office, and legislators should stay the hell away from it.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:10 AM | Permalink

Giving Globetrotter Goose His Due

"The story of Reece 'Goose' Tatum, arguably one of the most influential athletes of all time, yet unknown to most basketball fans today, comes to life in a new documentary called GOOSE," TeamWorksMedia says. "As the leader of the Harlem Globetrotters, the most skilled squad in the world, Goose was more than just the architect of some of basketball's most iconic shots. A true sports icon, he possessed a rare combination of basketball talent and comedic genius, which made him a household name around the world. GOOSE celebrates the basketball legend, who was posthumously elected to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in the Class of 2011."


*

GOOSE premiered on ESPN on Sunday night. It's probably showing again right now.

*

An NBA retrospective.

*

Goose's son at his father's Hall of Fame induction.

*

Before the Globetrotters, Goose performed his routines for the Indianapolis Clowns in the Negro Leagues.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:47 AM | Permalink

Video Of Spike Lee's Appearance At Chicago State University That He Inexplicably Doesn't Want You To See

Maybe Lee didn't want it gotten out that he said, "We've got to start taking education more seriously as a people and as a nation. Education is key."

On the other hand, maybe this wouldn't be well-received in all quarters: "If you're on the corner, drinking a 40 oz. of that malt crack liquor, smoking a joint, holding your privates; pants dropped below your waist - then you're hip, you're black, you're gangster . . . but what you really are is ignorant. And the crime is they don't even know they're ignorant."

In any case, Big Marcus wasn't going to be denied. Well, if just for a brief moment. Here's his video, uploaded to YouTube on Sunday.


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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:28 AM | Permalink

A 1975 News Break

Check out this 1975 NewsCenter5 Update broadcast on WMAQ Channel 5 here in Chicago on December 23, 1975. According to the awesome flip clock, we know it was broadcast between 7:26 a.m. and 7:32 a.m., during a break from the Today show. The anchor is Royal Kennedy.


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From the FuzzyMemories TV YouTube Channel.

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Our guess is that this is the same Royal Kennedy. Isn't it?

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:52 AM | Permalink

Chicago Vintage Guitar Expo

It was the 20th annual, held Sunday at the Doubletree Hotel in Alsip. Sponsored by Vintage Guitar magazine.

Here's video from 6string3r, who commented on a Les Paul forum: "Lots of nice gear. Some vintage, some not so much. Had a great time though, but came home empty-handed."


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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:17 AM | Permalink

February 27, 2012

The [Tuesday] Papers

I suppose there's still time for this to happen.

But probably not. Let's take a look a look around, shall we?

The End Of Secret Pond Hockey: "Every winter for many years, a patch of Grant Park has undergone a nightly transformation," Barbara Brotman writes for the Tribune.

"After the Daley Bicentennial Plaza ice rink closed at 9 p.m., it turned into something that resembled a frozen pond in Canada.

"Hockey lovers from across the city - college students, middle-age fathers, women - converged on the rink to play pickup hockey for hours, sometimes until early in the morning.

"There were no nets - just a pair of shoes at each end of the ice. No referees. No organized teams or leagues.

"The outdoor hockey party went on, participants said, for some 25 years. But now, it is apparently over.

"As part of a redesign of Daley Bicentennial Plaza - Daley Bi for short - the Chicago Park District will replace the rectangular ice rink with a skating ribbon that will wind through landscape and trees. Construction is to begin in the fall, with completion set for 2015."

*

Go read the whole thing - it's a wonderfully written story about losing one of those secret charms of what really makes life important; an all-too familiar story - and watch the video. Just hearing the sounds of hockey makes my heart jump. And then reading the story makes it break for these fine folks and brothers-and-sisters-in-skates. I didn't play in these games, but I sure wish I had.

Davis Awards Scholarships Outside Her District: "The state's controversial 'legislative scholarship' program carries a simple rule for Illinois lawmakers: They may award tuition waivers for state-sponsored schools only to students who reside in the lawmaker's respective districts," the Better Government Association reports in the pages of the Sun-Times.

"But since 1999, state Rep. Monique Davis (D-Chicago) has awarded taxpayer-funded scholarships to at least 10 students who records show lived outside of her Far South Side district at the time they received free tuition, the Better Government Association has found."

*

Over the weekend, the Tribune reported that "Officials routinely described their involvement as providing a constituent service, however the Tribune found many applicants did not live in the lawmakers' districts."

For more on the Tribune's report, see The University of Clout, where I give their extensive reporting separate treatment.

Now back to the BGA/Sun-Times.

*

"Davis, who has served in the Legislature for 25 years, didn't return calls on this subject or a related BGA finding that her political supporters were among those to benefit from free tuition.

Maybe she couldn't make it to the phone because she was outside listening to the rustling of leaves and the chirping of a bird.

*

"Davis awarded freebie scholarships to two students who lived in the 7100 block of South Dobson - almost three miles outside of her district, records show.

"The students - Cornel McKay Jr. and James McKay - collectively received three years of free tuition at Illinois State University, according to records obtained from the State Board of Education. The total cost to taxpayers: nearly $40,000, records show.

"Neither McKay could be reached for comment, but a man who answered the phone at the Dobson Avenue home and identified himself as Cornel McKay Sr. said: 'You're talking about very personal matters and a politician that I know personally, and I'm not sure if I care to answer any questions.'"

We paid for his kids' tuition, but it's personal and none of our business.

Go read the rest of it and then come back and join me for more of today's news. I'll wait for you.

Chicago Churches Getting Soaked By Water Meter Installation Expenses: Would be cheaper to just buy wine in its final form.

Big Speech, Tiny Minds: About that Romney speech . . .

The Mounting Minuses At Google+: There's a lot to admire about Google as a company but they seem utterly unable to expand beyond their core business - which is advertising, by the way, not search.

The one thing I wish they would do with all their cash though is something they've rejected time and again, to the relief of stupid media companies: Go into the news business. Why not? They have both the sophisticated digital skills to complete the revolution and the money to fund quality journalism while they do it.

Show Trial: Puppets Act Out Corruption Case: "I don't know what's more ridiculous, the puppets or the people they are supposed to be."

Bending The Tax Code And Lifting A.I.G.'s Profit: "A.I.G. is unlikely to pay a cent of taxes this year, thanks to a rule that the Treasury Department bent in 2008."

And the IRS is busting my chops? Makes you want to Occupy.

McD Plans To Increase Franchise Outlets In China: Would you like fries with your prison labor?

Chicago Vintage Guitar Expo: Nice gear, y'all.

A 1975 News Break: Same politics, different set.

Giving Goose His Due: A Globetrotter for the ages.

The Video Of Spike Lee's Appearance At Chicago State University He Inexplicably Doesn't Want You To See: Doing the dumb thing.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: The right thing.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 1:01 PM | Permalink

SportsMonday: LeBron Chokes, Kobe Bleeds And Kevin Durant Is MVP

There is still a ton of basketball to be played. Make that 10 tons. But it is already clear that this NBA season will come down to one thing and one thing only:

Can LeBron make clutch plays?

Even the All-Star Game came down to that; Mr. James' ill-advised, last-second, cross-court pass was intercepted by Blake Griffin.

The key with the NBA's mid-season showcase is to find a way to tune in about midway through the third quarter. That is when, at least of late, things tend to heat up.

Of course, the only reason this All-Star game became interesting at all was Kobe Bryant.

Say what you will about the man - and I have never been a fan - but competitiveness burns in him almost as hot as it did in Jordan, and in my book that is the ultimate compliment.

Now, maybe Kobe was focused in this game in part because he had the chance to become the all-time All-Star scorer (sure enough, he passed Michael Jordan's mark of 262 total points with this dunk in the third quarter).

But that didn't have anything to do with him D'ing up on Dwyane Wade on a couple consecutive possessions not long after halftime, causing Wade to take offense.

Soon thereafter, Wade returned the favor, delivering a hard foul on Kobe that actually drew blood (a bloody nose at an All-Star game - will wonders never cease?) and it was on.

The East eventually rallied from what was at one point an 18-point deficit to have a shot at the lead in the game's final 10 seconds. But with his team trailing 151-149, former Illini Deron Williams' wide open three was way off.

Then the East somehow tracked down the rebound and there was LeBron with the ball as the clock ticked under 0:05.

Mr. "I'm taking my talents to South Beach" played a big role in the rally. He hit an other-worldly six of eight three-pointers. But of course it was the three-point shot he didn't take as the final second ticked away that was everyone's takeaway from this one.

Instead LeBron tried that ill-advised pass. And all fans were thinking was he still just can't quite get it done when a close, high-profile game is on the line. It happened in the NBA Finals last year against eventual champion Dallas. It happened during a big-time game with the Bulls earlier this season. (Miami still won that game because our guys couldn't quite take advantage of James' missteps.)

Then again, James did choreograph a delightful pregame dance with Orlando's Dwight Howard. And they're very good at funny commercials. The jury's still out on whether they have what it takes to win a championship.

The Heat was the best team in the league in the first half of this lockout-shortened season, no doubt about it. In the last few weeks the team from Miami went on a run in which it won eight straight games by double digits.

But no one will know anything about this team and its star until what seems like an almost certain Eastern Conference match-up with the Bulls. One thing that was even more clear at the end of the first half of the NBA season was that the Bulls and the Heat are clearly the class of the East.

At this point, Oklahoma City is the clear favorite in the West. And Kevin Durant - not LeBron or Kobe - was awarded the MVP on Sunday.

Another basketball drama coming up later this year will be the Olympics, and while the international competition will be fascinating, the intranational drama on Team USA may be even more so.

Who among the roster that is sure to include James, Wade, Kobe and Derrick Rose, will take the big shots at the end of games? Durant was the one who hit all the big shots at the World Championships last year, when Team USA clinched its spot in the Olympic tournament. But none of those other guys were on that team.

One thing is certain. If Durant wants to take a shot at the end of a big international game, James will pass it to him.

Bulls All-Star Report
* Injured Luol Deng Risks Fine For Africa T-Shirt In All-Star Game

* Rose Scores 14 Points

* Benny The Bull Terrorizes All-Star Game

* Under Tom Thibodeau's Watch, Heat's LeBron James, Dwyane Wade Rack Up All-Star Minutes

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ESPN's All-Star Game Highlights

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:28 AM | Permalink

The Weekend in Chicago Rock

You shoulda been there.

1. Audiences at Lincoln Hall on Friday night.


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2. Young The Giant at Lincoln Hall on Thursday night.

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3. Junius at the Beat Kitchen on Friday night.

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4. Stay Ahead Of The Weather at the Empty Bottle on Thursday night.

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5. Orgy at the Bottom Lounge on Friday night.

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6. Korn at the Congress on Friday night.

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7. Van Halen at the arena on the West Side on Friday night.

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8. Jonathan Davis at the Congress on Friday night.

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9. Sharpless at Lincoln Hall on Friday night.

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10. Kool And The Gang opening for Van Halen on Friday Night.

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11. Peter Frampton at the Chicago Theatre on Saturday night.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 4:26 AM | Permalink

February 26, 2012

Jimmy Kimmel Gives A Shout-Out To Dino's Pizza On Higgins

Find them on the Web!


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Dino's on Flickr.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 3:02 PM | Permalink

The [Monday] Papers

"The owner of a sewer-inspection and cleaning business admitted Friday that he lied to federal agents when they asked him why he failed to tell City Hall that his company's investors included the son and a nephew of then-Mayor Richard M. Daley," the Sun-Times reported over the weekend.

"At first, when he spoke with investigators on March 10, 2008, Tony Duffy blamed his own 'carelessness and negligence' for omitting the names of Patrick R. Daley and Robert G. Vanecko from the ownership documents that Municipal Sewer Services was required to file with City Hall to get millions of dollars worth of city business.

"But that was a lie, according to Duffy. He now says he didn't know at first about Daley and Vanecko's involvement. He says that, when he found out, he went to Joseph M. McInerney, a principal in Cardinal Growth, a Chicago venture capital firm that also invested in the sewer company, and that McInerney 'directed' him not to change the ownership-disclosure filing, to 'keep it the same,' according to court records and sources familiar with the case.

"McInerney is a friend of Patrick Daley."

Let's go back in time before we move the story forward, shall we?

From the Sun-Times in December 2007:

Mayor Daley's son Patrick had a hidden interest in a sewer-inspection company whose business with the City of Chicago rose sharply while he was an owner, a Chicago Sun-Times investigation has found," the paper reported in December 2007.

Patrick Daley invested in Municipal Sewer Services in June 2003, along with Robert Vanecko, a nephew of the mayor. The pair cashed out their small investment about a year later, as federal investigators were swarming City Hall in the early days of the Hired Truck scandal.

Municipal Sewer Services had partnered with a Hired Truck company in the sewer-cleaning program.

It's unclear how much money Patrick Daley and his cousin made from the city contracts, which were signed by the mayor. Five months after they became owners, the company got a $3 million contract extension from the city.

After cashing out at a profit, Patrick Daley - then 29 and a recent MBA graduate of the University of Chicago's Business School - made an abrupt career change. He enlisted in the Army. He is stationed at Fort Bragg, N.C., but is to be deployed next week to an undisclosed location, the mayor confirmed this week.

The mayor's press secretary said Daley never knew that his son and nephew had stakes in Municipal Sewer Services as the company sought City Hall's permission to take over two contracts from Kenny Industrial Services.

"Yes, it is the mayor's son, and, yes, it is also his nephew," Daley press secretary Jacquelyn Heard said. "But, as you know, the mayor is a very busy man, and he does not make a practice of knowing the details of other people's investments, including those of his son and/or his nephew."

The story goes on to note:

Beside allowing Municipal Sewer Services to take over the contracts, City Hall twice extended the deals, by a total of 23 months, rather than seeking new competitive bids. That gave the company an additional $4 million of work.

The mayor's son and nephew never publicly disclosed their ownership stake in Municipal Sewer Services, despite a city ordinance that appears to require such disclosure.

And:

Heard would not discuss details of the deals involving the mayor's son and nephew, referring questions to them and the other investors in Municipal Sewer Services.

Patrick Daley could not be reached.

His cousin, Vanecko, issued a written statement that said, in part: "My cousin and I were small, passive investors in Municipal Sewer Services from approximately mid-2003 to late 2004. . . . We were not involved in running the company and had no dealings with any of its clients."

The other investors - Robert Bobb, a former federal prosecutor who is now chairman of the investment firm Cardinal Growth, and his partner, Joseph McInerney - also declined to be interviewed for this story, though, in written responses to questions, Bobb said the company did nothing wrong.

The company's former president, Anthony Duffy, would not comment.

In fall 2000, City Hall hired two private companies - Kenny Industrial Services and Brunt Brothers Transfer Inc. - to do videotaped inspections of sewers to spot cracks or other signs of deterioration. The work was split into three contracts. Two of them went to Kenny, which did all of the inspections north of 63rd Street. Brunt Brothers got the other contract, doing all inspections south of 63rd.

Kenny worked closely with Brunt, which was one of the largest black-owned companies in the Hired Truck Program. Brunt didn't have its own video equipment, so Kenny ended up doing all of the sewer inspections, while Brunt hauled debris from the sewers .

In February 2003, Kenny Industrial filed for bankruptcy, listing creditors across the United States - among them Disney World and the City of Chicago.

Duffy, who was then Kenny's sewer division manager, proposed taking over the sewer inspection business, including the City of Chicago contracts.

But Duffy needed money. So he turned to Cardinal Growth, a Loop investment firm headed by Bobb and McInerney. At the time, Patrick Daley was an unpaid intern at Cardinal.

Moving forward . . .

"Duffy says the sewer company might have faced 'greater scrutiny' if he'd disclosed that his partners included the mayor's son and nephew, according to his plea agreement, entered before Senior U.S. District Court Milton Shadur."

Greater than it's gotten so far?

"Cardinal Growth had invested in Concourse Communications, a company the city of Chicago hired in September 2005 to install Wi-Fi Internet service at O'Hare and Midway airports. After the system was installed, Concourse Communications was sold - a deal that made $708,999 for Patrick Daley, who had helped find investors for the company."

Gee, I wonder how he did that.

"The U.S. Small Business Administration took control of Cardinal Growth last summer, saying the venture capital firm owed taxpayers $21.4 million. Bobb and McInerney were ousted from Cardinal Growth, which had borrowed more than $50 million from the SBA over a decade - money they used to invest in companies including Municipal Sewer Services, which went out of business four years ago amid the investigation by the FBI and the city inspector general's office."

Now back in time again . . .

"An emotional Mayor Daley said Tuesday it was a 'lapse in judgment' for his son to have held a hidden interest in a sewer inspection company that did business with the city - a deal that Daley 's corruption-fighting inspector general has begun investigating," the Sun-Times reported after the connection was revealed.

"Daley changed the subject to the CTA's financial crisis. Asked a few minutes later if he knew whether his son or nephew were involved in any other city contracts, the mayor said, 'I don't know.'"

He didn't ask? He didn't say, "Patrick, what else are you involved in? Is there anything else I need to know?"

Or maybe he didn't have to ask.

Daley also refused to answer questions the Sun-Times put in writing.

And then came this, a day later:

Inspector General David Hoffman's decision to investigate mayoral son Patrick Daley 's hidden interest in a sewer inspection company that did business with the city is almost certain to widen the rift between Mayor Daley and his corruption-fighting inspector general.

But if the mayor is miffed about it, he wasn't saying so Thursday. In fact, Daley wasn't saying anything at all about the controversy.

Four times, reporters tried to get answers from the mayor. Five times, Daley deferred.

Q. What's your reaction to the inspector general investigating Patrick 's sewer deal?

A. I have no comment on that.

Q. Do you have any problem with him investigating it?

A. Any other questions?

Q. Have you given any thought to an executive order that would bar family members [from doing business with the city]?

A. No comment. I've answered all that.

Q. Are you confident that nobody in City Hall helped [ Patrick ]?

A. (Cutting off the question) I have no other questions. Fran, please, you've done this. No other questions [on this topic]. Any other questions. . . . And I'm not mad at her. So, don't write a big headline: 'Mayor Daley is mad. The mayor gets mad. He gets red, screams, yells.' No, I'm not. Please don't write that headline. I know you want to write it. They're having challenging times there [at the Sun-Times]. But please don't do it to me.

The Sun-Times also noted in that same story:

"The mayor did respond to questions about the blistering report issued earlier this week by a federal hiring monitor.

In her annual report filed in federal court, Noelle Brennan accused the city of engaging in "subtle types of manipulation" that have impeded efforts to implement a hiring system free of politics 17 months after the conviction of the mayor's former patronage chief.

Gee, don't you miss the good ol' days?

*

These days Patrick Daley is still in business with his father.

Burke Work
"As the head of the Chicago City Council's Committee on Finance, Ald. Edward M. Burke (14th) holds sway over all worker compensation claims filed by city workers - and all of the outside lawyers the city hires to fight those claims," the Sun-Times reports.

"Now, Hennessy & Roach, a law firm that the powerful Southwest Side alderman's committee paid more than $1.4 million over a three-year period to fight injury claims from city workers, is giving back: It's hosting a political fund-raiser Thursday for the powerful alderman . . . "

Well, maybe they just think Burke is a fine public servant who may need the money to stave off a challenge.

". . . who already has the richest campaign war chest of any politician in Illinois."

Oh.

"Burke had a total of more than $8.6 million in his three political campaign funds at the start of this year, records show. By comparison, Mayor Rahm Emanuel had $1.2 million, the Illinois Democratic Party had a little more than $1 million, and Gov. Pat Quinn had about $720,000."

And no challenger on the horizon.

So Hennessey & Roach is clearly just saying thanks.

"Hennessy's law firm has been doing work for the City Council Finance Committee for at least two decades.

"Through the committee, Burke has complete control over how to handle worker compensation cases filed by city employees. He has City Hall's corps of staff lawyers - from the corporation counsel's office - fight most of the claims. In some cases, he hires outside law firms - like Hennessy & Roach - to defend the city.

"Burke hired Hennessy's law firm to defend the city in 776 worker compensation cases between 1992 and 2006, the Chicago Sun-Times has reported. In all, City Hall paid Hennessy & Roach more than $1.4 million between between 2004 and 2006.

"The firm and its lawyers have given Burke more than $30,000 in campaign contributions in the past 12 years."

*

Here's my favorite part:

"The event has a professional sports theme - and a decided South Side bias. Top contributors - those who give $1,500 or more - are proclaimed 'Sox fans.' Those who give $500: 'Bears fans.' For $150: 'Bulls fans.' Not going? 'Cubs fans.'"

It's my favorite part not because of the Cubs diss, but because the Chicago Fire are missing. I guess nobody wanted anyone joking about kickbacks.

Higher Education
"Politicians exerted their influence at the University of Illinois to boost admissions prospects for the relatives of lobbyists, fundraisers, a union leader and other connected applicants, a Tribune investigation has found."

I'll have a lot more on this tomorrow; go read the whole thing now though, it's a terrific - if outrageous - story.

Proposed New Sin Taxes
Immorality is in the eye of the beerholder.

Bulls All-Star Report
In SportsMonday.

Jimmy Kimmel Shout-Out
To Dino's on Higgins.

The Weekend In Chicago Rock
See how Korn and Van Halen compare to the bands that played the Beat Kitchen, Lincoln Hall, the Empty Bottle and the Bottom Lounge.

Programming Note
The Beachwood Inn celebrates Eastern Orthodox Lent tonight by staying open and serving beer. I'll be behind the bar from 5 p.m. - 2 a.m.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Light it up.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 2:19 PM | Permalink

Proposed New Sin Taxes

Whenever a city, county, state and federal government faces seemingly insurmountable budget problems, our fearless leaders turn to sin taxes - namely boosting the assessment on booze, tobacco and sometimes gambling. In other words, fun. What's next, condom taxes? Of course, if everybody stopped engaging in vices, sin taxes wouldn't deliver anything to the bottom line. Makes us want to stop boozing just out of spite.

But we here at the Beachwood Sin Tax Bureau think immorality is in the eye of the beholder. We propose these new sin taxes.

* A new tax on bad taste, starting with music. Every purchase or download of a work on our list will be assessed at 5 percent. Six percent for Coldplay, Justin Bieber, Lana Del Rey and the Jonas Brothers.

* Overuse of memes, catchphrases and words of the moment shall be assessed at 3 percent to make up for the degradation to civil discourse that costs us productivity and damages our morale. Start with the destroyed word "hipster."

* Visual and mental alienation and soul-drainage shall be assessed at 3 percent. Start with every blue-shirt, tan-pants combo.

* Stenographic reporters will be assessed a fee of .001 for every word of a story determined to have actually been "purchased" through fame and/or power in combination with intimidation, flattery or just plain laziness.

* Sales will no longer have to be completed to qualify for sales taxes; aggressively attempted sales are a drain on our economy and will thus become cause for collection via the new Form BS-1.

* A punctuation tax will now be assessed on overuse of punctuation marks in short supply and in need of protection, such as the umlaut and interrobang.

* A tax on fine print will be assessed according to the degree of fineness and the degree of lawyerly bullshit aimed at ripping people off.

* Similarly, "mumbo-jumbo" will be assessed according to the degree of mumboness and jumboness.

* Appointment tax: All cable television providers, utility service people and doctors will be assessed one dollar for every minute they are late for an appointment.

* Fact tax. All demonstrable lies will be now be assessed on a progressive scale starting at $100 per for those in the lowest tax bracket and scaling up accordingly.

* Electronic invitation tools such as Evite will now be subject to a new annoyance tax of 1% of all event expenses per person annoyed.

* Sequels and franchise extensions: All movie sequels and television franchise spinoffs and extensions shall be taxed at 1% of box office and advertising revenues yearly. The Cleveland Show will be taxed twice because it also falls under the subsection governing "completely unnecessary annoyances."

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:15 AM | Permalink

February 25, 2012

The Weekend Desk Report

It's the weekend. Let loose and tell us how you really feel.

Market Update
The Transparency Index saw a shake-up this week as Monarchy significantly outperformed both Democracy and Populist Autocracy.

Oscar Beat
You could be forgiven for confusing the Republican presidential race with some high-concept throwback film, so with the Oscars looming we give you a quick guide to tell them apart:

* The Artist is completely silent. The Candidates never shut up.

* The Artist tries to recapture a bygone American age. The Candidates... yeah, pretty much ditto.

* The Artist lead actor's chances of a win may be jeopardized by sexism row. No one's entirely sure who The Candidates' lead actor is.

* The Artist will probably be forgotten in a year. The Candidates? Ditto.

Low Hanging Fruit . . .
Ben and Jerry's announced a new flavor this week designed to cash in on the biggest sporting juggernaut in years. The ice cream features lychee honey swirls and melts instantly upon contact with The Heat.

. . . But Still Delicious
We're guessing this isn't the first Buffett he's shut down, either.

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The Weekend Desk Tip Line: All you can eat.

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The Sound Opinions Weekend Report: "Tune in for a live performance from rapper and poet Dessa. Plus, Sleigh Bells is back with a new album Reign of Terror."

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The CAN TV Weekend Report:

Perspectivas Latinas: Logan Square Neighborhood Association

2-20-LSNA.jpg

Christina Torres of the Logan Square Neighborhood Association shares its efforts to improve schools by involving residents and turning schools into community centers.

Saturday, February 25 at 7:30 p.m. on CAN TV21
30 min

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Fair Trade Certified Apparel

2-20-FairTrade.jpg

Jackie DeCarlo of Catholic Relief Services leads a conversation on whether fair trade rules can be incorporated into factory production of clothing.

Sunday, February 26 at 9 a.m. on CAN TV21
1 hr 10 min

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My Desire for History: Essays in Gay, Community, and Labor History

2-20-GayLabor.jpg

Academics and activists discuss the past and present of LGBTQ activism and its intersection with issues of race, class, and gender.

Sunday, February 26 at 10:30 a.m. on CAN TV21
1 hr 45 min

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Magazines 2.0: The Future of Magazine Publishing

2-20-Magazines.jpg

Elizabeth Fenner, editor-in-chief of Chicago magazine, delivers the keynote address at the Association for Women Journalists' annual meeting.

Sunday, February 26 at 12:30 p.m. on CAN TV21
35 min

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Transnational Encounters: Music and Performance at the U.S.-Mexico Border

2-20-Transnational.jpg

Drawing from essays by UIC professor Alejandro L. Madrid, this panel explores the transnational connections and local significance of musical cultures found along the border.

Sunday, February 26 at 1:30 p.m. on CAN TV21
1 hr 30 min

Posted by Natasha Julius at 9:32 AM | Permalink

February 24, 2012

The [Friday] Papers

Highlights from the Bill Beavers indictment coverage:

While Beavers spoke (briefly) on camera to some local outlets yesterday, he only agreed to speak to Paris Schutz of Chicago Tonight through his apartment building's intercom. Thus diminished was thou godly voice when spakest through strange wires.

But he clearly claimed the feds said, "We don't want you, we want John Daley. We want you to wear a wire, okay?"

The possibilities:

A) They wanted him to wear a wire. On John Daley.

B) Beavers is sending a message/threat to the Daleys: Help. Or else.

C) Beavers is sending a message to those who may have something on him: I'm not giving anyone up, so extend me the same frickin' courtesy.

*

The feds claimed that Beavers' alleged scheme of concealing the use of campaign cash for personal benefit was done in part to satisfy a gambling habit.

The possibilities:

A) Beavers schemed in part to satisfy a gambling habit.

B) The feds were sending a message to Beavers that if he doesn't cooperate they won't hesitate to embarrass him about his vices.

C) The feds were sending a message to anyone connected or victimized by Beavers' alleged gambling habit that they know all about it and now is the time to help themselves out.

*

Crain's reports that Beavers has other problems, namely that Beavers "is vice chairman and an investor in Chicago-based New City Bank, which is expected to fail within weeks."

*

Trotting out Beavers' infamous boast that he was "the hog with the big nuts" is proving irresistible to journalists - myself included. From the BR Facebook feed yesterday upon news of the indictment:

Reportedly answered the door and said "What took you so long?"

We'll do it now to get it out of the way: "Don't you think Fitzgerald is being a little hard on Beavers?"

Alternate: Feds Indict Boss Hog With Big Nuts.

*

Sun-Times, January 30, 2007:

"Cook County Commissioner William Beavers, a fan of old-school clout, has no problem saying he considers himself 'the hog with the big nuts.'

"But on Monday, he blasted a lawsuit alleging he used the phrase to intimidate someone.

"Cook County Sheriff's Sgt. Sammie L. Young Jr. sued Beavers in federal court along with Sheriff Tom Dart, alleging he was demoted after refusing to look the other way when two deputies allegedly did illegal campaign work for Cook County Board President Todd Stroger and Beavers . . .

"When Beavers was informed of the lawsuit Monday, he said: 'I want him to sue me so the truth can be told. And how that sumbitch came in my office asking me to get him a promotion. He said he was there to volunteer for Todd, but he never did do shit.'

"Beavers said he used the hog phrase in a chat with Young, but not to bully him into dropping reprimands against the deputies, as alleged in the suit."

*

From John Kass in today's Tribune:

"Beavers has that Billy Dee Williams thing going on, but it's not fake like some actor playing a tough guy. It's the real deal, all 79th Street, nothing phony about it, and you could imagine him back in the day. But imagine him better at night.

"Beavers driving a long car with a long hood, wearing a fur coat and that revolver he used to wear on his ankle, the mustache, the fine suits, smoking when he felt like it, staying up all night and driving across the city, shooting dice at a West Side butcher shop.

"Then breakfast at some diner, on the table an ashtray full of the stubs of his Pall Malls, and then back into the car with the sun up and maybe a City Council meeting for lunch."

*

Also from Kass:

"[W]e go way back, to his first campaign for alderman in 1983. He put up at least 10 candidates to run against him - just to split the vote the way he wanted it split."

(FYI: It's important for reporters to gain and retain "Institutional knowledge" - or what some may call "experience.")

*

Beavers told Kass: "The indictment says I didn't pay taxes, but we've got all the receipts. I just didn't tell them because they were pushing me to wire up on Daley."

That doesn't make sense. I'm sure the feds have all of Beavers' tax returns. Having receipts won't prove anything and it looks like the feds have folks who have already testified against him in the grand jury.

*

"William Beavers is an old-school caricature of a Chicago aldermen who loved patronage and contracts, made no apologies for it and 'retired' to the Cook County Board to 'relax and enjoy the good life,'" Fran Spielman writes.

"Always dressed to the nines, Beavers bragged about 'going to the boats' to gamble, traveled to every Super Bowl and chain-smoked in the ante-room behind the City Council chambers - even though he suffered from phlebitis - long after smoking was banned at City Hall.

"He browbeat city department heads - and former Mayor Richard M. Daley - to share the gravy train of city contracts with black businesses instead of giving it all to the white guys with clout.

"'I'm not an idiot. I know what these deals are - and I've been knowing what they are. All I want is just, give me some. I'm not asking nobody to be fair 'cause I wouldn't be fair if I was the mayor. Just give me some. Just give me some of it, okay. Don't take it all,' he once said."

Now, if the Democratic Party was really about reform, Beavers would have been a pariah. He wasn't. He was Richard M. Daley's budget committee chairman and his allies include Secretary of State Jesse White.

*

Or, as Jesse Jackson Jr. put it in the Tribune in October 2007:

"[L]et's examine the truth in regard to Mr. Beavers. Before jumping to the County Board a year ago, Beavers was Mayor Richard Daley's Budget Committee chairman for years and overlooked hundreds of millions of dollars in taxpayer expenses for phony minority businesses, do-nothing truckers and a steady stream of waste and fraud.

"As Daley's 'man,' Beavers also undermined every legitimate mayoral challenger for 18 years, all to protect and promote patronage. Through the years, he was aligned with former Democratic machine boss and now-indicted Eddie Vrdolyak, the disgraced Shaw brothers and others known for corruption more than public service."

*

And about those Super Bowls:

"'Veteran Cook County Commissioner William Beavers said he has tapped his connection to the Bears to attend nearly every Super Bowl since the beginning.

"'You call the Chicago Bears and tell them you would like to purchase some tickets, and then they get back to you and let you know how many you can purchase,' Beavers said. 'I usually buy two.'"

*

More from Spielman:

"A few years ago, Beavers told reporters he makes 'no new friends' and needed to 'learn to speak sign language' because you never know who might be wearing a wire."

*

Oldie but goodie:

"Five Cook County commissioners no longer want to take the 10 unpaid days they unanimously voted for earlier this year," ABC 7 reported last fall.

"William Beavers, who represents Chicago's South Side and south suburbs, said he has changed his mind.

"'I decided not to take the furlough days because she didn't have the money for the hospitals, so my deal is off,' Beavers said. He said his vote to take unpaid days was tied to keeping Oak Forest Hospital open. In an effort to save money, the county converted that hospital into an outpatient clinic."

*

Oldie but goodie:

"Three years ago, outspoken Cook County Commissioner William Beavers dressed down the head of the juvenile jail for testifying before the County Board in casual attire: a white polo shirt tucked into his Dockers," the Sun-Times reported last November.

"'Do you own a suit?" Beavers asked Earl Dunlap in 2008 as he lectured that your appearance commands respect" and told him he's 'supposed to be a role model.'

"On Thursday, it was a virtual replay in the county's downtown Chicago boardroom during a budget hearing that spiraled into a fiery, albeit brief, exchange about whether the man makes the clothes or the clothes make the man. In the blink of an eye, it seemed, Beavers went from chastising Dunlap about fractured relations between the Juvenile Temporary Detention Center and the Chicago Police Department to the two recalling how their own relationship soured."

Isn't Bill Beavers living proof that the clothes don't make the man?

*

And from Fox Chicago News, November 2008:

"FOX News Chicago exposed how some Cook County commissioners are converting a $1,200-per-month expense account into personal income or using it to lease a car or pay off their own education expenses. Like many stories of government waste in Chicago, the FOX investigation surfaced, caused some brief consernation, then quietly slipped away. When confronted by FOX's Dane Placko about his pocketing of the monthly checks, Comm. William Beavers' brazen response said it all."

Click through to see.

*

Which resulted in this from October 2010:

"Federal prosecutors are taking a closer look at Cook County Commissioner William Beavers.

"Prosecutors are looking at nearly four years of expense records after he acknowledged that he used his government allowance to augment his salary for two years.

"Beavers said he used his $1,200 a month expense allowance to boost his income.

"He stopped the practice two years ago after it attracted media attention."

*

If you play the game and stick around long enough, chances are you're going to slip. Just ask Bill Cellini and Eddie Vrdolyak. And remember that Michael Madigan, Ed Burke and even Richard M. Daley won't truly be in the clear until they go six feet under. And maybe not even then.

The Other Chicago Fights Back
The flip side.

The Week in Chicago Rock
Not a particularly good one.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Bite the dust.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:05 AM | Permalink

The Other Chicago Fights Back

Whose side are you on?

1. "Facing a grim fiscal situation, Illinois Governor Pat Quinn proposed a $33.9 billion state spending plan that includes a $4 million funding reduction for HIV programs. The governor also proposed deep Medicaid funding cuts, which would severely hamper access to health care for people with HIV," the AIDS Foundation of Chicago says.

"The governor's proposal seeks $25.4 million in FY12 state funding for HIV services through the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH), a reduction of 14 percent from the current fiscal year. Budget blueprints released yesterday indicate Gov. Quinn proposes no funding cuts for the AIDS Drug Assistance Program (ADAP), which provides life-saving medications to people with HIV. As a result, the entire $4 million funding cut would reduce community-based HIV prevention, housing, corrections, minority health-promotion and harm reduction programs.

"While the AIDS Foundation of Chicago (AFC) lauds the Governor's recommendation for full ADAP funding, it strongly opposes the overall funding cut that will decimate community-based HIV programs."

*

"Unfortunately, Gov. Quinn also proposed over $2 billion in funding cuts to the Medicaid program. Although he left implementation to the General Assembly, Quinn said that eligibility levels, provider payment rates to providers and benefits are all subject to changes.

"AFC will strongly fight Medicaid cuts. The program is the foundation of national health care reform, set to begin in 2014, and provides vital health care to low-income people with HIV and other chronic health conditions, including millions of disabled and homeless individuals."

Gov. Quinn also proposed spending cuts in several areas of concern for people with HIV:

* Addiction Treatment for Medicaid Populations (-$5 million or 10 percent cut)
* Mental Health Grants (-$58 million or 42 percent cut)
* Emergency and Transitional Housing (-$4.4 million or 52 percent cut)

2. "Today community, labor and faith groups delivered a letter to Mayor Emanuel calling for all spending related to hosting the upcoming G8 and NATO summits to be matched dollar for dollar by investment in Chicago's communities through the creation of a Chicago G8/NATO Community Fund," Stand Up! Chicago says.

"The letter asks the Mayor to call upon the large corporations and benefactors funding expenses related to hosting these events to also donate to the Community Fund 'which can be used to keep libraries and mental health clinics open, as well as to provide direct investment in Chicago's many struggling neighborhoods, which are in desperate need of jobs, schools, housing, and essential services.'

*

"At the drop of a hat, Mayor Emanuel can raise $60 million for the global elite, and yet our neighborhoods suffer from unsafe vacant buildings, gun violence, and skyrocketing unemployment," said Amisha Patel, Executive Director of the Grassroots Collaborative, one of the organizations issuing the letter. "Instead of throwing a party for the 1%, the Mayor and corporate Chicago should be creating jobs for the 99% - jobs to clean up abandoned housing, jobs to keep school children safe, and summer jobs for youth."

*

"I was crying at one of the six mental health clinics that Mayor Emanuel wants to close, thinking about the comparison between the $2 million we need to save our clinics and the millions of dollars that will go to the insane and insatiable greed surrounding the NATO/G8 summits," said Margaret Sullivan, who depends upon the services offered by Beverly/Morgan Park Mental Health clinic and is a member of Southside Together Organizing for Power (STOP).

*

"The 99% have been struggling through harsh budget cuts while the city is doling out our tax dollars in corporate welfare to the CME and other World Business Chicago members," said Rev. C.J. Hawking, Executive Director of Arise Chicago, a faith-based labor rights organization.

3. "Citing Illinois' history of political corruption and the state's interest in combating improper political influence and the corruption it breeds, the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform has asked a federal judge to reject a political action committee's request to block enforcement of a portion of the state's law limiting campaign contributions," ICPR says.

"'Illinois' long, sordid history of political corruption - perhaps worse than that of any other state - requires some modest restriction on special interest fundraising for expenditures to benefit particular candidates,' ICPR argued in an amicus curiae ('friend of the court') brief filed today. The brief contends that the public interest in preventing yet more chapters in the sad tale of corruption in Illinois is a sufficiently important governmental interest to uphold the $10,000 limit on contributions to fund independent expenditures."

*

"This lawsuit could cause serious damage to the state's comprehensive campaign finance limits, which were enacted in response to decades of corruption in Illinois, which has to date culminated in the Blagojevich scandals," ICPR executive director Brian Gladstein said. "This lawsuit is about much more than opening a loophole for just one PAC. It could create an opening for dozens of PACs receiving unlimited contributions and influencing elections - and government actions."

4. "Less than a week after the occupation of Piccolo School, workers at Serious materials were told that their plant was closing and they would be laid off. Later that afternoon, they occupied the factory."

*

Friday morning update from Fried: "The worker occupation of Serious Energy has ended and an agreement has been reached to keep the plant in operation for 90 days while union members and the company work together to find new ownership to keep the plant open. After 12 hours the occupation has ended with a hopeful workforce.

"After being told by local management this morning that the Serious Energy window factory would close effective immediately, workers at the former Republic Windows and Doors plant had one demand: time to save these jobs by finding a buyer for the business. Local management refused and in response, workers voted to occupy for the second time with their union the United Electrical Radio and Machine Workers of America, UE. In 2008, UE members at the same factory, then owned by Republic Windows and Doors, occupied and won $1.75 million in wages and benefits owed from Bank of America.

"After the occupation began, Serious Energy's corporate leaders stepped in and immediately began talks to resolve the situation. Workers and the company were able to strike a deal in the early morning hours in Chicago.

"'We started the morning with the plant closing and ended the day with work and a chance to save our jobs,' said Armando Robles, President of UE Local 1110, 'We are committed to finding a new buyer for the plant or if we can, buy the place ourselves and run it. Either way, we are hopeful.'"

5. March to the mayor's house.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 3:36 AM | Permalink

The Week in Chicago Rock

You shoulda been there.

1. Trivium at the House of Blues on Tuesday night.


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2. In Flames at the House of Blues on Tuesday night.

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3. Give Back at Schubas on Tuesday night.

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4. Guns 'N' Roses at the House of Blues on Sunday night.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 2:39 AM | Permalink

February 23, 2012

The [Thursday] Papers

Yes, I have something to say about the Chicago News Cooperative suspending operations. I just haven't finished writing it yet. Please be patient, there's only so much tomfoolery I can get to in a day, a week, a month, a lifetime.

1. If I could just let this column by Curtis Black for the Community Media Watch's Newstips stand in for mine today, I would.

2. "Gov. Pat Quinn's plan to slash $2.7 billion from Medicaid to save a program 'on the brink of collapse' could prove fatal for some Chicago area hospitals that mainly treat the poor and already are struggling to survive amid rock-bottom reimbursement rates and costly federal health care reform," Crain's reports.

A) Pat Quinn is a Democrat.
B) Federal health care reform is costly.

3. "Memorials honoring slain West Side residents are being ordered removed by Ald. Jason Ervin, who says they're not a good look for the community," Austin Talks reports.

Ironically, this is not a good look for Ervin.

4. "Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel's administration is channeling more than $7.3 million in tax increment financing toward a 'bus rapid transit' line downtown, according to his transportation and economic-development spokesmen," WBEZ reports.

And this is TIF reform how?

ALTERNATE: That must be one economically disadvantaged corridor!

"The Chicago Department of Transportation is keeping lips tight about its design of the downtown line, known as both the East-West Transit Corridor and Central Loop BRT."

And this is transparency how?

ALTERNATE: Even when completed, the line will be invisible and off-limits to the public.

5. Secret government pays off for property tax bill.

*

Here's the thing, though: Publicity for proposed legislation shouldn't depend on whether the sponsor seeks it out or not. That's what reporters are for - and that's why it takes a lot of experienced reporters to get the job done; to know where to look and to have the time to do it.

*

That item was via Rich Miller, who also writes in another item about the disingenuousness of Rep. Dan Brady on rising state spending due to pension costs: "The cuts are coming in the state's operating budget, and Rep. Brady knows that. Fortunately for him, most reporters outside of Springfield don't understand the difference. Also, several Republicans announced yesterday that they were vehemently opposed to making local school districts pick up part of their pension costs, so either the Republicans are going to need to spell out even more specific cuts to avoid looking hypocritical, or they'll count on lax reporting. Wanna bet on what they do?"

6. "Mayor Rahm Emanuel's administration boasted Wednesday that it has eliminated the 9,000-pothole backlog the mayor inherited when he took office in mid-May and now is 'keeping pace with daily' requests to fill potholes," the Sun-Times reports.

But I thought Richard M. Daley was the pothole mayor . . .

From the Sun-Times archives:

Feb. 17, 1994: "Daley said 30 crews are plugging about 2,200 potholes a day, and by yearend will have filled 640,000 cavities."

Feb. 21, 1994: "Mayor Daley has enlisted firefighters in his all-out war on potholes.

"Ninety-nine fire engines, each with a five-member crew, cruised city streets Sunday afternoon doing a pothole survey.

"'We're driving slow, looking for anything bigger than 6 inches in diameter,' said Lt. Martin Ciesielczyk of Engine Company 13, as he marked Loop pothole locations on a clipboard.

"The survey results will go to the city Transportation Department, which has 30 crews filling potholes this winter. The pothole repair budget is up 30 percent over last year.

"There have been enough freeze-thaw cycles this winter to produce a bumper crop of potholes. The city is receiving about 105 pothole complaints a day - 10 percent to 15 percent above average."

May 6, 1994: "Fact: Some secondary services, such as pothole repairs, graffiti removal and streetlight replacement, are dispensed as they are requested," Daley himself wrote in a letter to the editor.

Feb. 12, 1995: "The mayor runs the city like a plant manager," Fran Spielman wrote. "He has little time or patience for media badgering, political infighting or indecisive bureaucrats. He would rather order a pothole filled than sit through an entire Council meeting."

April 9, 1995: "Richard M. Daley is known to jot down notes about potholes," Spielman wrote.

July 11, 2001: "Need A City Pothole Fixed? Now Just Point And Click."

May 6, 2005: "City Hall Sets Out Changes For Paving, Pothole Crews

June 14, 2006: "[C]ity crews are filling potholes in two days, instead of 11, thanks to strict controls," Spielman wrote.

February 8, 2008: "The Year Of Potholes - Snowiest winter in 29 years, up-and-down temps make for lots and lots of flat tires."

February 21, 2008: "City Hall has increased the number of pothole crews - from 18 to 27 - to keep pace with a winter that Mayor Daley has called 'the year of potholes,'" Spielman wrote.

"Transportation Department spokesman Brian Steele said roughly 30 seasonal workers normally called back in mid- to late-March for the start of the spring construction season were summoned early last week.

"From Dec. 1 through Feb. 15, city crews filled more than 60,000 potholes. That's up from 36,000 during the same period last year.

"'This has been a near record winter in terms of both snowfall and the number of freeze-thaw cycles, both of which contribute to potholes,' Steele said."

Dec. 28, 2008: "The Chicago Department of Transportation also saw an uptick in reported potholes - going from 200 to 300 reported last weekend to 500 by Christmas Eve, according to spokesman Brian Steele. CDOT has increased the number of pothole crews - to 11 from about five."

*

I didn't bother checking the Tribune or other sources - you get the point.

My guess is that this story was ready to go for a day when the mayor's office wasn't making any other news - Rahm was in Washington, D.C. - and/or as a distraction to the school board vote in line with Rahm's desire to "win" each day's media cycle. "Hey, today would be a good day to put out that pothole story! Give it to Fran."

7. "Civil courtrooms at the Daley Center - part of the nation's second-largest court system - could be closed for security reasons in the days surrounding the NATO and G-8 meetings, officials said Wednesday," the Sun-Times reports.

"The specter of closing the Daley Center's courtrooms was raised as sources disclosed that Chicago Police Supt. Garry McCarthy is talking about seeking 850 reinforcements to assist his officers facing off against possibly tens of thousands of protesters from across the nation and world . . .

"Police spokesperson Melissa Stratton insisted Wednesday the city has not ruled out asking for help from police agencies outside the state. But sources said McCarthy has told associates he hopes to limit his request for help to officers within Illinois.

"Around 250 of those officers could come from the Illinois State Police. The remainder could be comprised of Cook County sheriff's police and officers from suburban and Downstate municipalities.

"Sources told the Sun-Times that McCarthy initially requested the bulk of the 850 reinforcements come from the state police. He was forced to lower his sights after he was told the state police could not spare that many officers and juggle other responsibilities such as patrolling state expressways and tollways."

But wasn't McCarthy the one who recently told everyone to chill?

8. Chi-Town Funk.

9. The Chicago Machine.

10. The New Cubs Way: A Fan's Manual.

11. An Aardvark Was Born At The Brookfield Zoo.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Fill in the holes.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:55 AM | Permalink

The New Cubs Way: A Fan's Manual

"Chicago Cubs baseball president Theo Epstein emphasized a new organizational philosophy as camp opened on Saturday, saying it will all be part of a manual called The Cubs Way," the Tribune reports.

"Everything from what foot you hit the bag with when you're making the turn to how we run bunt plays," Epstein said.

The Beachwood has learned, however, that Cubs fans will also be expected to abide by a new set of rules, including:

* All beers will be passed left to right.

* All money for beer will be passed right to left.

* "Go Cubs Go" will be sung in the key of E.

* No ketchup on the hot dogs.

* All scorekeeping to be done in pencil.

* All men using the troughs will give three good shakes and move on.

* All booing will be done in the key of C.

* Only the actual game ball shall be thrown back on the field.

* The 7th-inning stretch shall be sung in the key of D.

* Each game attendee will now be graded using a Cubs Fan Algorithm™. Ratings will be compiled in a secret book to be used against you at a later date.

* Only two looks at the scoreboard per inning allowed. Follow the game, dammit!

* Similarly, fans shall only ask "What's the score again?" no more than twice a game.

* Harry Caray impersonations prohibited.

* No toys in the crackerjack. Get over it.

* No more than two chants of left (or right) field sucks per game.

* Only one chant of "Theo! Theo! Theo!" per game encouraged.

* Fans only allowed to grouse once per preseason in the comfort of their own homes about ticket price increases.

* Dynamic pricing formula will remain a trade secret. It's none of your business.

* Yours is not to wonder why. In Theo you trust.

* Anthony Rizzo is going to be here a long time, so you better start loving him now.

* "Swing batter batter!" prohibited.

* No goats allowed in the ballpark. We provide our own on the field.

* No roofies, please.

* Wearing a Rod Beck jersey to the game is allowed, but leave your Jason Dubois jerseys at home.

* You are allowed to think sentiments such as "They should bunt here" or "They should put on the hit-and-run," but do not say them out loud. No one cares what you think.

* Learn how to properly pronounce "Sveum" or you will be escorted from the park.

* Please be courteous to those around you even if your day job is centered on screwing people out of their money and dignity.

* If a foul ball is coming your way and a Cubs player has a chance to catch it, get the freakin' hell out of the way or you risk becoming a worldwide punch line for the rest of your life.

Contributing: Marty Gangler, Jim Coffman, Steve Rhodes

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:55 AM | Permalink

An Aardvark Was Born At The Brookfield Zoo

"Weighing less than five pounds at birth, the calf gained nearly 10 pounds within weeks after being nursed by mom Jessi and care and support from zoo's staff.

"They are native to sub-Saharan Africa. Being mostly nocturnal, they hunt for food using their hearing and sense of smell.

"Using their powerful legs, they can traverse miles looking for food. Long noses help them detect the scent of food.

"They mostly eat termites and ants. As soon as they detect food, they use their spoon-shaped claws to dig several feet within seconds. In a single day, they can eat as many as 50,000 - 90,000 insects.

"While digging, their long ears enable them to listen for predators."


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See also:
* Gawker: Welcome To The World, Baby Unsexed Aardvark

* Tribune: Brookfield Zoo Introduces Baby Aardvark

* ABC7 Chicago: Chicago-Area Zoo Heralds Birth Of Aardvark

* Huffington Post Chicago: Adorable photos.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:38 AM | Permalink

Chi-Town Funk

1996.


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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:09 AM | Permalink

The Chicago Machine

"Denom and The Wolf teamed up to make this bangin' remake of Pink Floyd's Machine. Buried in the archives, I'm glad we dug this up."


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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:01 AM | Permalink

February 22, 2012

The [Wednesday] Papers

Seeing as how the Quinn administration has already leaked the governor's budget plan, why even have him give a speech today?

Just post it online and get to work.

Of course, that doesn't suit the time-tested PR strategy of governors, mayors and presidents alike of milking three days of coverage framed to their liking out of an outsmarted (not hard to do, I admit) media.

Day 1: "Quinn To Propose Free Apple Pie To All Mothers Of Veterans."

Day 2: "Quinn Proposes Free Apple Pie To All Mothers Of Veterans."

Day 3: "Quinn Proposed Free Apple Pie To All Mothers Of Veterans."

It's so 1975, I know, but you start with Sneed and work your way around until your aides are giving reporters a private briefing to make them feel special.

Then the public - the portion that pays attention but mostly the lobbyists and special interest groups girding for battle - is primed and early reviews are considered; there's still time for tweaking!

The speech itself is a dog-and-pony show filled with slogans and platitudes - in Quinn's case about how good and true the people of the Land of Lincoln are - and everyone pretends the theater is real.

Former Better Government Association honcho Terry Brunner used to talk about how everyone goes along with these fakeries, even when it came to corruption. The mayor would (sort of) speak out, apologists would spout their usual defenses. pretend reformers would get on their high horse and the media would act shocked and outraged. Then business would return to usual the next day, as if nothing odd had happened at all.

In this case, the raft of stories to come will then "analyze" whether Quinn was too boring, didn't offer enough specifics, picked an election year fight, or signaled a willingness to compromise. All the narrative templates are ready to go.

There is something more essential going on in a budget fight, though, and it's something that's gone on from time immemorial. The poor and vulnerable will be sacrificed at the altar of fiscal responsibility while the Terry Duffys of the world be kept fat and happy.

Meanwhile, the media will exhort the citizenry to get involved - their apathy is to blame for the political class' corruption, you see - and then marginalize as smelly radical union longhairs those who dare to protest the current arrangement.

It's the longest running play in history.

*

See also: What Corporate Tax Loopholes Cost Illinois

And: Beachwood Exclusive! Quinn Budget Speech Preview

Orr Score
"Since the latest Chicago Public Schools 'reform' efforts began in 1996, Orr Academy High School in the West Side's Garfield Park neighborhood has been subjected to nearly every faddish attempt the corporate reformists have to offer," the Occupied Chicago Tribune reports. "It has been reconstituted, reengineered, intervened, broken up into 'small schools,' and combined into one large school all over again. The Academy of Urban School Leadership (AUSL) has managed this newest iteration since the 2008-09 school year.

"When it took control of the school, AUSL promised an increase in student achievement, strong involvement with the community, and a new school culture - but the changes it has delivered are criminally short of these ideals. Some Orr teachers, worried for the safety and future of their students, shared their experiences with the Occupied Chicago Tribune. The picture they paint of the school is gruesome - complete chaos in the hallways, blatant sexual assault against female students and staff, open drug use by students in the lunchroom, bigotry so severe that LGBT students have stopped attending school, and the falling test scores and attendance rates that one would expect amid such havoc.

"Their stories come on the eve of the school board's vote [on Wednesday] for the 17 proposed school closings and turnarounds. If the proposals pass, AUSL will add six more schools to the 12 it currently manages."

*

Curtis Black also reported on Orr this week in "Pushing Students Out: Noble, AUSL and CPS" for Newstips:

"One group backing Piccolo, Blocks Together, has worked extensively with students at Orr Academy, now in its third year as an AUSL turnaround school, and they report a variety of practices that seem to conflict with AUSL's commitments to CPS

"In its 2007 RFP submission to CPS prior to being given Orr, AUSL pledged to follow the district's student code of conduct, to support students with behavioral issues, and to institute a peer mediation program.

"Instead, Orr students are routinely given automatic suspensions for minor infractions, BT says. "We get suspended for the pettiest things," said Malachi Hoye, an Orr senior active with BT's youth group. 'Being tardy, not wearing your ID - it's two days.' Cursing gets you an automatic two-day suspension.

"The CPS code calls for an investigation of an incident with students 'afforded the opportunity to respond to the charges.' That doesn't happen at Orr, BT says. The code indicates a range of consequences for first-time minor infractions (like inappropriate language), including teacher-student conferences, conferences including parents or administrators, and detention; suspension is reserved for repeat offenses. That's not the practice at Orr either, apparently.

"'There are no steps, there's no effort to look at the situation,' said youth organizer Ana Mercado. She adds that, with constant administrative change at Orr - two principals in three years, and a revolving door for other administrators - disciplinary policies have fluctuated greatly. 'The expectations and consequences keep changing on the kids,' she said.

"Orr also 'turns kids away when they come to school without their uniform,' said Hoye. 'The tell them don't come back till you have one.' (He also complains about steep increases in the price Orr charges for its uniform jersey.)

"The CPS code specifies that students who fail to abide by a school's uniform policy may be barred from extracurricular activities but may not be given suspensions or detentions 'or otherwise barred from attending class.'

"And while the code requires parents to be informed of punitive measures, Orr got in trouble last year for dropping students without informing them or their parents."

Sit and Spin
"Mayor Rahm Emanuel today sought to frame last night's protest outside his home by hundreds of people upset at his plans to close or restructure several schools as a response to the difficult but necessary steps he's taking to improve the education of Chicago children," the Tribune reports.

The little people fearing change just don't appreciate how heroic Rahm is! He cares more about their children than they do! He sends his kids to private school!

"I understand people are anxious. I respect that. Because change is hard," Emanuel said. "But watching, year in and year out, kids captured in a system that's failing, is harder."

Breaking: Rahm Calls The 16 Years That CPS Was Under Daley's Control A Failure.

Like Saying Budweiser
Emanuel, Bill Daley To Lead Obama Campaign.

Breaking: Rahm, Bill Daley Repudiate Machine!

All Equity Being Equal
"Pritzker Group, which invests on behalf of the wealthy Chicago-based Pritzker family, has hired Robert W. Baird & Co. veteran Paul Carbone to lead its private-equity investment arm and expand that business," Crain's reports.

Later, the Pritzkers will donate money to President Obama's Super PAC to help fund commercials blasting Mitt Romney's private equity business.

Our Town
"The newly opened Mob Museum was stunning, but what stunned me the most was what was missing," John Kass writes today in the Tribune.

"There were only a few brief mentions of Chicago Outfit boss Paul 'The Waiter' Ricca - and no mention at all of a famous U.S. senator from Nevada known to the mob as 'Mr. Clean Face.'

"The museum, housed in the old courthouse in downtown Las Vegas, was worth every penny of the $18 entrance fee, especially since the first thing you learn is something everyone from Chicago will understand:

"Organized crime cannot exist without the help of local law enforcement and the judges and their messenger-boy politicians."

*

By the way, here's the Las Vegas Review-Journal column Kass mentions but doesn't link to. It's a more nuanced take than Kass describes.

The World Is A Ghetto
According to BJ The Chicago Kid.

Fantasy Nightmare
Best Chicago Players Come Up Short.

Summer Shandy
Leinie's Takes A Leap.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Say it all.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:53 AM | Permalink

The World Is A Ghetto

Don't you know that it's true?


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From BJ's MySpace page:

YOU READY? HERE WE GO JOE!! TAKE OLD SOUL + YOUNG GOD FEARING MAN, WHO GREW UP ON ONE OF THE MOST HUSTLIN'ST, CRAZIEST PARTS OF THE SOUTHSIDE CHICAGO, ADD THE PROBLEMS OF BEING A YOUNG MAN, FROM THE LADIES TO GETTING MONEY.

IN MY VOICE YOU HEAR THE SOUL. MADE FROM THE HURT, TEARS, LOVE, HUNGER, AND MOST OF ALL LONGEVITY, GROWTH + C.. LONGEVITY!!!

SOME SONGS DON'T SOUND LIKE SOUL BUT THE CONVICTION IN MY VOICE SAYS IT ALL.

I GIVE A LOT IN MY SONGS. I GIVE SWAGGA TO THE SWAGGALESS, I GIVE ADVICE: HOW TO GET HER, HOW TO MANAGE YA PAPER, HOW TO MAKE BAD SITUATIONS GOOD (MAKE IT RIGHT), AND SOOOO MUCH MORE. I'M THE 'OTHER' GUY,' 'THE SOLUTION' - I'M WHAT THE INDUSTRY HAS BEEN MISSIN!!! BUT I BEEN HERE!!!

THE GAME AND THE FACES OF THE GAME CHANGE BUT SOUL AND THE STREETS WILL STAY THE SAME!!!!!

BY THE WAY THIS IS NOT WHAT IT SOUNDS LIKE, THIS IS WHAT IT IS!!!!!

*

From Singersroom:

"After releasing a couple of mixtapes and collaborating with rapper Kendrick Lamar, Mary Mary, Freddie Gibbs, Mikkey Halsted and Kidz In The Hall, BJ the Chicago releases his debut project Pineapple Now Laters. As a newcomer, BJ the Chicago Kid uses a Hip Hop lyrical approach to innovate his songwriting, creating unique songs with soul."

*

BJ The Chicago Kid plays the Double Door on March 23.

*

So South Side.

*

RapNHipHopTV.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 5:02 AM | Permalink

Leinie's Takes A Leap

CHIPPEWA FALLS, Wis. - Forget spring; summer has arrived ahead of schedule. The Chippewa Falls, Wis.-based Jacob Leinenkugel Brewing Company is celebrating "Leap Day" by bringing warm weather refresher Summer Shandy out of hibernation early.

Typically not on shelves until late March, Leinenkugel's will roll out the seasonal brew on Feb. 29. An adventurous blend of select malted wheat and barley, lemonade flavor and a hint of Wisconsin honey, Summer Shandy is available nationwide in cans, bottles and on draft.

LNYSS_bot_pour.084219.jpg
Leinie's Summer Shandy, the first shandy-style brew in the United States, experienced an impressive 80 percent growth in 2011.

When autumn rolled around, many Shandy fanatics stocked up on as much as they could for the off-season.

Since then, Leinie fans have anxiously awaited its return.

"Summer Shandy has captured the imagination of fans who want a refreshing light-bodied beer - the ultimate combination of craft beer and refreshment," said Jake Leinenkugel, fifth generation brewer and president of the Jacob Leinenkugel Brewing Company. "We're excited to celebrate this leap year by giving our fans an early taste of summer."

The "shandy" (which is short for "shandygaff") as it's called in England and Germany, is typically a mixture of beer and soda or lemonade. The drink has been enjoyed across Europe since the 17th century.

Another variation of a shandy is the "radler," which is a German term for cyclist. In September 1922, Franz Xaver Kugler developed the radler, when approximately 13,000 cyclists visited his tavern in Munich. His beer supply started to run out, so he cleverly mixed the remaining beer with lemonade and claimed to have created the blend especially for the cyclists.

Leinenkugel's Summer Shandy features a tangy character with malty undertones of hops. Its tart lemonade flavor complements spicy and robust grilling dishes, and its subtle hoppiness creates the perfect balance for salads.

Summer Shandy will be available where Leinenkugel's is sold in 12-pack 12-oz. cans, 6 and 12-pack bottles and on draft. Summer Shandy retails for approximately $6.99 to $7.99 a 6-pack.

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The Leinie's Summer Shandy on Facebook.

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Comments welcome.


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 3:30 AM | Permalink

Fantasy Fix: Best Chicago Players Come Up Short

When you look at preseason fantasy baseball rankings, you are not going to see a lot of Cubs or White Sox near the top of the list for most positions. The exception, of course, is shortstop, where a couple guys named Starlin and Alexei will be worth watching. My top 10 at SS:

Troy Tulowitski, COL: Probably the easiest call at a position with a variety of talent. He has every offensive tool, and should have another 30+ HRs and 100+ RBIs.

Jose Reyes, FLA: He just seems like an Ozzie Guillen type of player, and can deliver on this ranking with a season looking something like this:.330, 100 runs, 40 SBs, 17 triples, 35 doubles.

Hanley Ramirez, FLA: Probably ripe for a comeback and will have the 3B eligibility to go with SS, but it remains to be seen how he'll respond to Guillen's tough love.

Starlin Castro, CUBS: The real deal in every way, and I almost want to put him ahead of Hanley. I wouldn't be surprised by 20 HRs and 30 SBs to go with a .315 average.

Asdrubal Cabrera, CLE: Potential for 30 HRs and 20 SBs, plus a bunch of extra-base hits.

J.J. Hardy, BAL: Probably your last chance for 30 HRs at this position, and 80 RBIs to go with it.

Jimmy Rollins, PHI: A mild comeback last year with 30 SBs, but everything else may be down.

Alexei Ramirez, SOX: I'm giving him some hometown love with this ranking, but I think he still has 20 HR, 20 SB potential in him and may actually excel without Guillen's scrutiny on him.

Dee Gordon, LAD: A highly speculative ranking based on a small sample last year, but his 24 SBs in 56 games last year project him to lead the league in the category in 2012.

Elvis Andrus, TEX: Like Reyes, he can reach 40 SBs. Unlike Reyes, he won't hit above .300 or collect 50+ extra-base hits.

Just missed the top 10: Erick Aybar, LAA; Derek Jeter, NYY; Ian Desmond, WAS.

Expert Wire
* The New York Times's "Bats" blog likes Dee Gordon.

* RotoWorld debates catcher value: Posey vs. Santana.

* Bleacher Report lists Hanley Ramirez as the top high-risk, high-reward player. That about sums it up.

* Full Spectrum Baseball mulls what to do about Justin Smoak.

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Send your comments and questions to Disco Danny O'Shea.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:09 AM | Permalink

February 21, 2012

Exclusive! Quinn Budget Speech Preview

"Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn will deliver a bad-news budget Wednesday, suggesting that Illinois close numerous prisons, mental health centers and social service offices, cut health care for the poor and shut down popular tourist sites for two days a week at times during the year," the Tribune reports.

It's going to be even worse than that, the Beachwood has learned. Sources tell us Quinn will propose the following:

* State corrections facilities will become Noble Charter Prisons. Fines for dull shanks will offset costs for solitary confinement.

* From now on, Illinois will share its lieutenant governor with Indiana.

* Sneed will have to start paying for every "tip" we leak to her for PR purposes.

* Slot machines now allowed on food trucks.

* Future budget speeches will be cancelled to save money; proposal will just be posted to Pinterest.

* Will take another run at that Rahm swear jar.

* All facilities for mentally ill will be closed including the capitol.

* A new tax on campaign lawn signs.

* State police will move to drone model; governor already there.

* University of Illinois will be turned over to Noble Charters. Fines for messy beer pong players will be used to pay adjunct faculty.

* Illinois residents now required to play Pat Quinn's birthday on the lottery every day, because those numbers never come up.

* Illinois.gov will now have a paywall.

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Comments welcome.


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 11:41 PM | Permalink

The [Tuesday] Papers

"With two days left before the Chicago Board of Education votes to close or restructure failing schools, community groups staged a candlelight vigil protesting the dramatic measures and marched to Mayor Rahm Emanuel's home on the North Side," the Tribune reports.

"With the headline 'CPS statement on CTU rally' implying the rally had been staged by the teachers union, spokeswoman Becky Carroll said in the statement: 'CPS is breaking away from a status quo that has failed our students year after year. What has been tried in the past has not worked and going back to the same failed policies is not in the best interest of our students.'"

So the policies of Richard M. Daley and U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan failed? That's what we've been saying!

*

BREAKING: "Rahm Aide Calls The Policies Of Obama's Education Secretary A Failure."

Smoke And Mirrors
From High School To Top Of Fire Department Ladder.

Noble Charter still garnishing his wages.

Lucha Lawyer
"To casual observers, the 57-year-old Benno is your typical suburban Chicago trial lawyer," John G. Browning writes for The Southeast Texas Record. "But a couple of years ago, the former high school wrestler and longtime wrestling fan had an itch he wanted to scratch.

"He learned of Carlos Robles, a real estate agent/wrestling promoter who was running an independent wrestling league, GALLI-Gladiator Aztecs Lucha Libre International-patterned after the 'lucha libre' Mexican wrestling, complete with capes, masks, and fast-paced athletic moves.

"Benno and Robles became business partners, and the league started taking on some of the characteristics of American professional wrestling, featuring heroes and villains and storylines. Shortly after Benno got involved on the business end and provided legal advice, another idea struck him-why not wrestle as well?

"Benno began training-losing 40 pounds, building a wrestling ring behind his wood-paneled law office and perfecting his moves. Equally important, he developed his wrestling alter ego: 'Apocalypto,' a character who 'plays the mediator, staying neither good nor bad, leaving audiences uncertain.'

"Befitting this new persona, Benno-as-Apocalypto wears a mask with one side depicting a grin, and the other a frown. Apocalypto made his wrestling debut last November, entering the ring at the Addison Park Community Rec Center to the Darth Vader 'Imperial March' from Star Wars. After some flying leaps off the turnbuckle, and a few more well-choreographed moves, Apocalypto had his first 'victory.'"

Beer
"American Craft Beer Week runs May 14-20 - but it won't be enough for Chicago," Josh Noel reports for the Tribune.

"That's why the third annual Chicago Craft Beer Week will be spread over 11 days, from May 17-27. We have a few early details, and it sounds as if beer lovers should clear the week."

*

See also: Half Acre's Beer For A Fallen Friend

Rose Is Back . . .
. . . But No Big Mac.

Lil Scotty
Bluesman, Buttonman, Gutbucket Grit.

Real Housewife Of The Northwest Suburbs
Vicki Gunvalson was on the Fremd pep squad.

Meet Bernie's Book Bank
Children need books and books need children.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Gutbucket.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 11:49 AM | Permalink

Meet Bernie's Book Bank

"Did you know that 61% of at-risk families have no books at all in their homes for their children? Book ownership is a non-negotiable in any successful educational journey, and Bernie's Book Bank is committed to making sure that Chicagoland's at-risk children have the same opportunities that all other children have.

"Bernie's Book Bank collects quality new and gently used children's books; packages them into age-appropriate bags; and redistributes them to thousands of at-risk children in Chicagoland who have no books of their own, over and over and over again. Bernie's Book Bank currently serves more than 35,000 children in Chicago and its suburbs.

"You can help us connect children needing books with books needing children by donating books, volunteering in our warehouse, and supporting us financially. Visit us at www.berniesbookbank.org."


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See also:

* How To Donate To Bernie's Book Bank

* Our Lady of Perpetual Collects 11,357 Books For Bernie's

* Bernie's Book Bank's YouTube Channel

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:34 AM | Permalink

Real Housewife Of The Northwest Suburbs

"Vicki Gunvalson is the only original cast member to return to the Real Housewives of Orange County, which started its seventh season on Bravo last week," the Daily Herald reports.

"But the reality star holds another distinction among cast members: She hails from the Midwest. Make that, the Northwest suburbs."

*

"Gunvalson lived in Mount Prospect until she was 11, before moving to Palatine. She was back in the 'burbs on Friday at Armand's Pizzeria in Arlington Heights for the surprise 50th birthday party of one of her closest friends, Jeannie Jaeger, of Barrington.

"'Oh, my God, oh my God,' Jaeger exclaimed when she entered the room and saw Gunvalson, before the two embraced.

"The two friends go back more than 30 years, to Fremd High School. They were on the pep squad together and decorated cars before the football and basketball games."

*

"Some of their high school friends attended the party, including Sandy Bushnick of West Dundee, who said that Gunvalson has not forgotten her suburban roots."

*

"It was the second time Gunvalson had appeared at Armand's. Her first visit was two years ago, when she attended a party associated with their Fremd High School reunion. A Bravo film crew tagged along and their footage appeared on the show."

*

"Gunvalson headlined a book signing event on Saturday in Libertyville, for her new book, More Than a Housewife, which includes details about her insurance and retirement planning business."

*

From her 2010 visit:

"Gunvalson is in town this weekend to do some appearances, attend tonight's Fremd High School Class of 1980 reunion, and visit her many friends and family (brother Billy in Trout Valley; sister Lisa in Cary; sister Kim in Hoffman Estates; mom Joanne in Prairie Grove)," the Daily Herald reported.

Q: Did you grow up in Mount Prospect or Palatine?

A: Both. I was born and raised in Mount Prospect, and we moved to Palatine when I was in eighth grade. I went to Fremd and Harper (College), but I left after 1 1/2 years and went to beauty school. I started working out of my house, doing perms and cuts in my garage. I decided I really didn't like it. I didn't like being on my feet all day, and I think you need to have a creative mind. I'm more of a numbers and sales person . . . the whole beauty industry didn't fit for me. I got married when I was 21, I was pregnant with Michael when I was 23 . . . and I was divorced when I was 29. I remarried and left for California 16 years ago.

Q: In one episode, you brought all the housewives to Armand's in downtown Arlington Heights. Why there?

A: My brother's really good friends with the owner. They have a Vicki-tini on the menu now. (The owner) got a lot of people coming by there after it aired, saying, 'I saw you on the show!'

Q: What do the Northwest suburbs have that the OC doesn't?

A: It has so much that the OC doesn't. The train! The train is a nostalgic thing to me. You're always crossing over tracks here. It's got the ethnicity. California is pretty new where I live. There's nothing that has anything heritage. Everything is brand new buildings, but there's no culture there.

*

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:09 AM | Permalink

Half Acre's Daly Double: Beer For A Fallen Friend

A beer in his honor.


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From Half Acre:

"Terry was a fan of music, geometry, his two Huskies, Moon & Luna, and amply hopped craft beer. We're pretty sure that Terry was the foremost consumer of Daisy Cutter Pale Ale. Terry began popping in to buy sixtels of Daisy and before long he stopped by almost everyday just to chew the fat. After a while, he had the authority to walk back into the brewery and go into the cold room to reserve himself kegs and manage his own kegerator inventory for his home Daisy Cutter supply."

*

"Terry converted his refrigerator into a kegerator, complete with a tap handle on the door just for kegs of Daisy Cutter.

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Comments welcome.


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:50 AM | Permalink

Remembering Lil' Scotty: Bluesman, Buttonman

"If blues music is rooted in adversity, bluesman Clarence 'Little Scotty' Scott had plenty to draw on," Graydon Megan wrote for the Tribune last week.

"From surviving a scarring house fire as a youngster to making a return to full-throated blues singing after a tracheostomy several years ago, Mr. Scott never lost his good humor, his concern for social causes or, most especially, his commitment to the blues.

"'He was the only blues singer I know of who was able to sing powerful, funky, gutbucket blues while having a trach tube - which he plugged up with a Sharpie pen,' said his friend Steve Balkin, a Roosevelt University professor and historian of the Maxwell Street market where Mr. Scott often sang. 'He had a real sense of street grit about him.'

"Mr. Scott, 66, died Wednesday, Feb. 1, in Mercy Hospital in Chicago of complications that followed a heart attack he suffered in January, according to stepson Qurme Allen."

*

Balkin sent this out in late January when Scott's condition became critical:

Tuesday night Clarence 'Lil Scotty' Scott collapsed and was brought to UIC Hospital in intensive care. He has been having chronic health problems for a long time.

Queenie Portia, his wife, said, "It looks bad. He had stopped breathing and his heart stopped. The doctors were able to bring back a heart beat. We need a miracle for him to pull through."

Professor Steve Balkin at Roosevelt University said, "Lil Scotty is a miracle. He recovered from brain surgery a while back and had a trach tube in his neck. He not only learned to talk again but he still sings really great Blues; I think he is the greatest Blues singer in Chicago. He has soul coming from his voice, his moves, and all his pores."

Balkin says further, "By his example, he teaches us to be strong, humble, and with good humor. He is extremely poor and always carries around a cart full of progressive cause buttons and attends most all the marches and protests in Chicago. He is a civil rights pioneer and was firebomb by the Klu Klux Klan in South Carolina. He is part of Occupy Chicago. He is a fixture of the streets, clubs, and fabric of Chicago - one of the last of Chicago's great street characters. He loves to be with the people but also is proud to have sung recently for Mayor Emanuel."

Lori 'Lowreen' Lewis, leader of the Maxwell Street Market Blues Band, says, "Little Scotty comes out to the New Maxwell Street Market jam most weeks health permitting, on the street when the weather is good and at Polk Street Pub. He's always pushing his cart full of buttons supporting Obama and against gun violence. No matter how he is feeling, when he steps up on stage, he gives it his all, singing like he's got not a care nor a pain in the world. Trach be damned, he's got a Sharpie pen to block the hole and let his voice sing out! And the crowds love him. With lyrics like "Take off that wig that I bought you, let me play with your bald head," and his show-stopping delivery, how can you not love Lil Scotty? Our thoughts for recovery are with him."

But recovery was not to be. His funeral was held on Valentine's Day.

*

"There are times when a person's death affects everyone," Arlene Jones wrote for the Austin Weekly News. "Such is the case with the recent transition of Clarence 'Little Scotty' Scott. He was an entrepreneur many knew by his trade name: Buttonman. But he was more than just a person who sold buttons to earn a living. He was also a community activist who was one of the first to appear at protests.

"Just this past October, he had called and told me he was going downtown every day to stand with the people who were involved in the Occupy Chicago movement. Little Scotty was the kind of person we could always count on to appear whenever there were issues of concern involved.

"I had seen Little Scotty over the years standing outside of events selling the buttons he made. When he learned that I had published my first novel, he made me buttons to wear promoting my book. But the buttons he made were just a means to an end because what Little Scotty did best was sing the Blues. I never thought I wasn't much of a Blues fan until I heard Little Scotty sing. He was a showman extraordinaire."

*

Little Scotty Sings The Blues.

*

Previously: Give Him Flowers While He Lives

*

Forever loved and missed.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:20 AM | Permalink

SportsTuesday: Rose Is Back But No Big Mac

Derrick Rose came back and all and he busted out a few ankle-breaking crossovers and high-flying, death-defying layups. But that didn't make a severely disappointing Bulls performance on Monday any easier to swallow.

For a team to come up short like that in front of a holiday matinee crowd of 22,033 (I remember it exactly because I won the guess-the-attendance game - thank you, thank you very much), well, it wasn't just devastating to me, it was devastating to my two daughters, who joined my wife and I at the game.

What's that you say? The Bulls had a bit of a lull in the third quarter and into the fourth but otherwise pulled out a solid victory (90-79) over a sure-to-be playoff team? Derrick Rose looked good after missing five games due to back spasms (except on defense, where he was one of several Bulls guards whose deficiencies led to South Sider Jannero Pargo going off for a season-high 19 points).

And Luol Deng scored the big buckets (the biggest of which was a three-pointer to stretch a six-point lead to nine with a couple minutes remaining) and made the sort of big passes (like the one to Carlos Boozer for a dunk a minute earlier) that make him a very deserving All-Star.

I hear you but I don't mind saying, after a 35-point Bulls first quarter, I was dreaming of one thing and one thing only - a free Big Mac. And when the Bulls' point totals went down to 20 in the second quarter, 18 in the third and an anemic 17 in the fourth, they never even had a chance to break the 100-point mark that would have made the free burger a reality. Booooooo.

Hoo boy, I think I'm becoming a cutesy Bully fan (although I also have the excuse of viewing the game through a different lens when I'm there with my pregame- and halftime-show loving daughters). Did I also mention that Brian Scalabrine is my absolute fave player and the Luv-A-Bulls are soooo hot?

After all, I have to do something during the last few months before I can finally return to the shrine of baseball known as Wrigley Field. That's where I sit in the bleachers and even throw back batting practice homers hit by the opposing team. On my way in I worship at the altar of Harry Caray and I don't care if the Cubs lose because we're all just having such a good time anyway.

Yikes. Returning now to the perspective of the skeptical sportswriter . . . so Rose clearly seemed healthy enough and while he was a little rusty (missing four of his first six free throws) he also did what we talked about earlier and tossed in a couple clutch intermediate jump shots down the stretch. The fact that he skipped the post-game interview was a bit of a cause for concern but there are a variety of potential explanations for that other than his not wanting to show that his back was hurting him again.

The Hawks have a ton of talent and the Bulls don't necessarily match up well against them but they won't really be a threat this year without center Al Horford, who is out for the season with an injury. So a victory over them isn't exactly a massive milestone.

And the big news from this past week was the Heat passing the Bulls for the best record in the NBA. The team from Miami has only seven losses at this point while the home team's setback against the Nets (their worst loss of the year) on Saturday gave it eight.

The Heat is hitting on all cylinders at this point, having recently put together a stretch in which they beat three probable playoff teams in three nights all on the road and all by double-digit margins. (Miami toyed with Orlando on Sunday, making it clear the Magic are not close to competing with the conference leaders.)

And here comes the All-Star break. The Bulls take their mid-season hiatus after hosting the Bucks tomorrow night. A win would be nice but of course the real challenge for the Bulls against the defensive-minded team from Milwaukee will be hitting the century mark. Let's just hope these guys can stay focused and get the job done this time.

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Jim "Coach" Coffman welcomes your comments.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:53 AM | Permalink

February 20, 2012

The [Monday] Papers

"About 11,000 prisoners, a mix of suspects awaiting trial and those convicted of minor crimes, are housed at the [Cook County Jail] at any one time, which is like stuffing the population of Palos Heights into an eight-block area on Chicago's South Side," the Chicago News Cooperative reports. "The Cook County sheriff, Tom Dart, estimated that about 2,000 of them suffer from some form of serious mental illness, far more than at the big state-owned Elgin Mental Health Center, which has 582 beds.

"Dart said the system 'is so screwed up that I've become the largest mental health provider in the state of Illinois.' The situation is about to get worse, according to Dart and other criminal justice experts. The city plans to shut down 6 of its 12 mental health centers by the end of April, to save an estimated $2 million, potentially leaving many patients without adequate treatment - some of them likely to engage in conduct that will lead to arrests."

*

See also: The Squeaky Weal: Tom Dart

*

"The city's mental health clinics serve thousands of people, many of whom are uninsured. Dr. Bechara Choucair, Chicago's commissioner of public health, said those that remained open would treat all those who needed help or send them to private clinics paid by the city to accept the overflow of patients. But city data provided to aldermen showed that the cuts could cause a patient increase of up to 71 percent at some clinics, with no additional staff.

"The police and mental health experts fear that without adequate resources to treat them, mentally distressed people will be more likely to end up in dealings with the police.

"'It's going to increase the number of calls they get,' Amy Watson, associate professor at the Jane Addams College of Social Work at the University of Illinois, Chicago, said of the Police Department, 'because it is the only place left to call.'"

*

Something someone like Rahm Emanuel doesn't understand:

The city described the clinic closings as consolidations, but Dart said the effect would be to limit the ability of patients to get to the remaining clinics.

"So many of these people are on a razor's edge," he said. "The fact that you have shut down this facility that was two miles from that individual, and you combined it over here, and now it's 10 miles away is very likely the difference between that person following the program or not."

*

Penny-wise, pound-foolish. And not even penny-wise:

"The cutbacks could also add to the burden at emergency rooms and on ambulances.

"'We have an upsurge in crisis calls when services are cut,' said Jeffry Murphy, a retired Chicago police officer and a consultant in crisis-intervention training. 'We're not saving any money closing down these clinics.'"

But it looks good on paper, and that's what counts. He can tout his "accomplishment" no matter how many lives he makes miserable.

Not Very Noble
"When you talk to non-teacher who visits a high-performing charter school for the first the first time (including any of the Noble campuses) it's the discipline they notice," CPS teacher Seth Lavin writes in his Chicago School Wonks e-mail newsletter. "'It was so silent in the hallways!' 'All the kids were staring at the teacher!' 'When she said take out pencils every single kid took out a pencil, like robots!'

"Like Newt Gingrich clumsily defending charter schools in a September Presidential debate: '. . . they were taken over by a charter school in downtown Philadelphia, and all of a sudden the kids didn't fight anymore, because they were disciplined.'

"Reporters and politicians love this. They use euphemisms like 'zero tolerance,' 'no excuses' and 'sweat the small stuff' to explain what's going on. But what I've come to learn along the way is that a lot of these reporters and politicians don't really know what that means."

You mean the picture they get in their heads isn't enough to go on? But how will they drive their compelling fairy tale narratives if they have to actually confront reality? Let's find out.

"The reality here is a lot more controversial and, frankly, ugly then these descriptions. And I say this as, on some level, a proponent.

"As the Noble episode has reminded all of us, sweating the small stuff means no chewing gum, no untied shoelaces, no untucked shirts. But it also often means the expectation of 100% compliance to all teacher directions. Plus consequences designed to make non-compliance so unappealing that, eventually, students comply always.

"Teacher directions can get pretty darn specific. They're supposed to. In elementary schools with this kind of discipline you see complicated transitions planned motion-by-motion by the teacher and timed. 'Pencils out' might mean right hand stays flat on the desk while left hand reaches inside a desk pocket and returns a pencil to a designated position on the desk. 'Take out a dry erase marker' might be a multi-step process by which a student takes out a dry erase marker, holds it in the air, and waits for teacher direction to unclick the cap from the marker. The enforced expectation that students keep their eyes on their teacher at all times (track the speaker) is very commonplace. As is a prescribed posture for sitting in chairs. Of course all this varies from school to school but in the more extreme schools it's more extreme. I've been in schools where placing your feet on the basket beneath the chair in front of you is a specific numbered misdemeanor. I've been in a classroom where a student who dropped his pencil contorted his body to reach it without breaking contact between his butt and his seat, because in his school your butt's leaving the seat was a breach that triggered a specific consequence."

No wonder Rahm wants a longer day; taking pencils and dry erase markers out of desks the proper way eats up a lot of instructional time. At least teachers will have received good training for jobs in the corrections industry after they're laid off.

*

"Largely lost in the coverage of Noble (particularly in the Chicago Tribune's editorial, once more attacking critics of CPS) was the actual source of concern - the campaign by Voices of Youth in Chicago Education to reduce the dropout rate, which has led them to focus on disciplinary policies which push kids out," Curtis Black writes for Newstips.

"'We agree there should be consequences for minor infractions, but Noble is not doing it the right way, and as a result, students are leaving,' said Emma Tai of VOYCE. She said Noble has acknowledged that 40 percent of entering students leave before senior year. (Ben Joravsky has previously reported on Noble's fines, demerits, counseling out of kids, and charges for make-up courses.)

"But Noble is 'just one piece of a much larger picture,' Tai said. 'Whether it's demerits and fines at Noble or suspensions, expulsions, and arrests at [traditional] schools, there are practices in all our schools to keep students on lockdown and push them out.'

"Concern over test scores may be a bigger driver of the approach than concern over safety, she suggests."

But it looks good on paper, and that's what counts. He can tout his "accomplishment" no matter how many lives he makes miserable.

*

"Research is clear that zero-tolerance approaches - and heavy use of suspensions - do not improve school safety or student learning, Tai said.

"The [Consortium on Chicago School Research] argues that 'emphasis on punitive discipline approaches' is particularly unhelpful with 'students who are already less likely to be engaged in school . . . Schools serving a large number of low-achieving students must make stronger efforts to foster trusting, collaborative relationships with students and their parents.'"

On the bright side, being on the butt end of a bully prepares our kids for jobs on the city council.

*

See also: Parents Feeling Ignored In School Reform

*

See also: Why Don't Top Private Schools Adopt Corporate-Driven Reforms?

Daley Detritus
"It's been six years since five Chicago government pension plans hired DV Urban Realty - a start-up investment firm founded by then-Mayor Richard M. Daley's nephew Robert G. Vanecko and President Barack Obama's friend and former boss Allison S. Davis - to manage $68 million in retirement funds," the Sun-Times reports.

"Those investments haven't gone well for the pension funds that represent Chicago teachers, police officers, other city employees and transit workers. The funds have paid DV Urban a total of $7.2 million, including $4.7 million in fees to manage the small share of the pension funds' money and another $2.5 million for a sister company to oversee the operations of three buildings bought with pension money.

"Pension officials - including Mayor Rahm Emanuel's two top financial advisers - are unhappy. By their estimation, the value of the funds' real estate investments with DV Urban has fallen by 28 percent, or about $19 million.

"That's the main reason the funds want to wrest control of the real estate investments they've made with DV Urban, according to a lawsuit they filed this month in Delaware, where DV Urban was incorporated."

And here's the key reminder:

"Vanecko is the eldest grandchild of the late Mayor Richard J. Daley. Davis ran a small Chicago law firm that hired Obama after his graduation from Harvard Law School. Davis eventually left the law firm and became a business partner with one of his clients, Tony Rezko, in a venture to build affordable housing with taxpayer money."

The Chicago Principles
Adopted by Occupy Chicago.

Jennifer Beals Goes Easy On . . .
. . . Big Poppa.

Clever With The Rhymes
She are who she are.

The Weekend In Chicago Rock
Including Dr. Dog, the Jayhawks, Twin Sister, Discarded Pearls and the Anders Osborne Trio.

Programming Note
The Beachwood Inn is open for Presidents' Day. Our beer will be very presidential.

ALTERNATE: Our beer will be impeachable.

Stop in, 5p - 2a.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Electable.


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:18 AM | Permalink

The Chicago Principles

Adopted by Occupy Chicago last week:

* Our solidarity will be based on respect for a political diversity within the struggle for social, economic and environmental justice. As individuals and groups, we may choose to engage in a diversity of tactics and plans of action but are committed to treating each other with respect and working towards a common goal of peace and justice.

* As we plan our actions and tactics, we will take care to maintain appropriate separations of time and space between divergent tactics.

* We oppose any state repression of dissent, including surveillance, infiltration, disruption, limiting our action to "free speech zones," and violence, or attempts to divide our movement through the conscious creation of divisions regarding tactics, organization, strategies, and alliances.

* Any debates or criticisms will stay internal to the movement, avoiding any public or media denunciations of fellow activists and events.

Explained:


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Thanks as always to dogstar7.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:16 AM | Permalink

Clever With The Rhymes

Poetic Interpretations: Volume 1.

Spoken Word Demo Collaborations. J's Bistro. Chicago, IL, 98th Western.


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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 5:38 AM | Permalink

Jennifer Beals Goes Easy On Ridiculous Big Poppa In The Morning While Discussing Her New Project

Only (presumably male) "journalists" ask about Flashdance.


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Previously:
* Jennifer Beals Still Friends With Chicago High School Pals But Has Ditched Her Hometown Accent

* Jennifer Beals Channels Beyoncé

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 5:23 AM | Permalink

The Weekend in Chicago Rock

You shoulda been there.

1. Dr. Dog at the Vic on Saturday night.


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2. Twin Sister at the Empty Bottle on Friday night.

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3. Anders Osborne Trio at the Park West on Friday night.

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4. Discarded Pearls at Sylvie's on Saturday night.

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5. August Burns Red at the Bottom Lounge on Sunday night.

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6. Lotus at the Congress on Saturday night.

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7. The Jayhawks at the Vic on Friday night.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 5:06 AM | Permalink

February 18, 2012

The Weekend Desk Report

See, this is why we're the Weekend Desk and not the Completely Irrelevant Desk.

Market Update
Analysts are not entirely convinced Sanity will rally after a brutal takeover bid from Reality.

Central Casting
The good news for Mitt Romney is that his performances in Michigan guarantee him A-list representation in the 2012 primary season movie. And let's face it: Jerry Seinfeld is a way better matchup for Steve Carell than a classic pro like Fred Willard.

Bypass Overpass
Just a note for Chicago's own Emperor: In order for this procedure to be a success, you have to have a heart to bypass.

Moody Blues
And finally this week, it's apparently better to invest in institutional child rape than Spanish sovereign debt. You know, in case anyone wondered whether money can skew our moral compass in any meaningful way.

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The Weekend Desk Tip Line: Sovereign.

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The Political Desk's Weekend Report: How Citibank Dumped Lousy Mortgages On The Government

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The Sound Opinions Weekend Report: "Tune in for Part Two of our exploration of the year 1967. This time: Monterey Pop and the Music Industry Grows Up. Plus, David Lee Roth is back with Van Halen. How's the band sound three decades later?"

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The CAN TV Weekend Report:

Illinois Supreme Court Candidates Forum

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Candidates for Illinois Supreme Court answer questions posed by students, faculty and the public at this forum hosted by the Northwestern University School of Law.

Saturday, February 18 at 8 p.m. on CAN TV21
1 hr 30 min

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Women Made Gallery

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This celebration of the Women Made Gallery's 20th anniversary includes readings of works composed by poets in their 20s.

Saturday, February 18 at 9:30 p.m. on CAN TV21
2 hr

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Mentoring Strategy and the Benefits

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Kelly Fair of Polished Pebbles joins a discussion on mentoring including the benefits, how to get involved, and how to start and grow programs.

Sunday, February 19 at 9 a.m. on CAN TV21
1 hr 40 min

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Forum on Police Surveillance Cameras

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Adam Schwartz of the American Civil Liberties Union examines the efficacy of cameras in deterring and prosecuting crime, the cost of their operation, and whether they threaten individual privacy.

Sunday, February 19 at 11 a.m. on CAN TV21
1 hr 30 min


Posted by Natasha Julius at 8:06 AM | Permalink

How Citibank Dumped Lousy Mortgages On The Government

Citigroup agreed Thursday to pay $158 million to settle a lawsuit over bad loans that the bank passed on to the Federal Housing Administration to insure. The whistle-blower who originally brought the case, Sherry Hunt, an employee of Citi's mortgage department, said the company actively undermined the process that was supposed to check for fraud in order to push through reckless loans and get higher profits.

The suit itself makes for good reading. We've pulled out the juiciest bits, and explain just what Citi appears to have been doing.

Some background: The FHA insures one-third of the mortgage loans in the country, taking on the risk of homeowners' default from lenders like Citi. The government requires lenders to certify that insured loans meet FHA standards.

Citi appears to have flouted those standards. According to the lawsuit, the bank passed along subpar loans to the FHA until very recently, making "substantial profits through the sale and/or securitization of FHA-backed insured mortgages" while "it wrongfully endorsed mortgages that were not eligible."

In the settlement, Citi, which was bailed out by taxpayers in 2008 to the tune of $45 billion, "admits, acknowledges, and accepts responsibility" for passing on bad loans.

The suit's allegations

* Citi was passing on mortgages with particularly high rates of default to the FHA, costing taxpayers millions in insurance claims.

* The quality control unit in charge of reviewing the mortgages had "marching orders" to pass questionable loans by "brute force.

* The company started basing compensation for some employees on, intensifying the pressure how many loans got through quality control.

* In January 2011, Citi gave awards to employees who had successfully challenged quality control ratings. In a detailed Bloomberg News story, the whistle-blower, Hunt, said that at the awards ceremony, quality control workers "were humiliated in front of everyone".

* Lenders are supposed to self-report to the government when they discover fraudulent or shoddy loans. But Citi almost never did.

* At one point, Citi erased the records of nearly 1,000 potentially fraudulent loans.

Citi's settlement

* The company admits to passing on loans that were "not eligible" for government guarantees.

* Citi has to pay $158.3 million within 30 days. Of that sum, $30 million will go to the whistle-blower. The suit was filed under the False Claims Act, which rewards whistle-blowers who bring cases resulting in settlements in which it was alleged that the government was defrauded.

* The government has reserved the right to pursue criminal charges.

A spokesman for Citigroup said in an emailed statement: "We take our quality assurance processes seriously and have pro-actively undertaken process improvements to ensure that they are as robust as possible. Our government-related business is very important to us, and we will continue as a participant in the FHA's Direct Endorsement Lender Program with the full support of HUD."

Citi isn't the only bank facing these kinds of allegations - as part of last week's mortgage settlement, Bank of America will pay the FHA up to $1 billion for fraud and abusive foreclosure practices.

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See also:
* Geithner Said To Ignore Obama Wind Down Order On Citi

* What The Geithner/Summers Insurrection Says About Obama

* The President Doesn't Dispute Any Of It

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 2:51 AM | Permalink

February 17, 2012

The [Friday] Papers

"As with so many aspects of the musical Walmart on the Lake, Lollaplooza likes to have its cake and eat it too when it comes to trumpeting each August's 130-band lineup," Jim DeRogatis writes on his Pop n Stuff blog for WBEZ.

"The concert has maintained from the start of its reinvention as a Chicago-based 'destination festival' seven years ago that people come to Grant Park because of the event, regardless of the particular acts on the bill. Then the promoters rant and rage at any reporter who dares to publish any of the acts they've booked in advance of their official lineup press release.

"When this blogger broke the news of the lineup in 2008, Lollapalooza corporate figurehead Perry Farrell lashed out and called me 'Pepe LePew.' The last few years, my Sound Opinions colleague Greg Kot had the scoops, and though they were more circumspect in public, the promoters were no less angry behind the scenes. Now, they've got a new public enemy number one: the person claiming to be 'an anonymous Lollapalooza insider' behind the @LollaLeaks Twitter account."

Ignoble Education
"As Newt Gingrich urges putting students to work as paid school janitors, a Chicago charter network may one day mull having them pay to sweep and clean toilets," James Warren writes for the Chicago News Cooperative.

"Goodbye, corporal punishment. Hello, capital punishment. Improved performance and new revenue streams may be on the education horizon, complete with cash registers outside detention halls."

The Tribune editorial page is positively giddy, though, about fining students for such discipline-destroying crimes as leaving shirts untucked and shoes untied.

"It's a matter of respectful personal conduct," the board thunders from the planet it lives in that bases its school model on the old Catholic formula of uniforms and knuckle-rapping.

"A student caught chewing gum earns a demerit. Late to class - that's not tolerated. Untucked shirts and untied shoes - not allowed. You don't shout or throw things in the lunchroom. And so on."

Wow. If my high school was like that, I would have joined a gang.

"As the Chicago Public Schools and the Illinois Legislature grow less tolerant of failure in education, as they push for status-quo-shaking change in schools, the defenders of the old ways of education get more nervous."

Um, just when did CPS and state legislators start growing "less tolerant of failure?" Richard M. Daley took - or was given - control of the city's schools in 1995. And it's not as if that was the first rodeo for urban education reformers.

"Schools that let the small things slip can find themselves with a chaotic school environment."

Really? Untucked shirts lead to . . . what?

"PURE and other critics claim the Noble Network gouges students to raise cash. Last year, the 10 campuses of Noble raised nearly $200,000 from disciplinary fees. But those fees cover only part of the expense of staffing those classes and detention periods."

Without those fees Noble couldn't afford detention? Please. What's next, fining slow kids for the expense of putting up with them in gym class?

"Noble's tight discipline and demanding academics aren't for everyone. Last year, 473 of Noble's 5,000 students left for other schools.

"Look at the kids who stay. Last year, all of the Noble schools beat the Chicago Public Schools' average in math, science and reading scores. Noble sent 91 percent of its graduates to college."

Warren exposes this bogus argument:

"The schools perform much better than Chicago public high schools as a whole, but they are still quite selective, so it is hard to get an accurate comparison. And still almost half of their students fail state achievement exams, and pass rates vary widely by campus."

Selective schools do better than schools forced to accept all comers. Picayune fines have nothing to do with it.

"Noble's leaders are right: Discipline helps create a safe school atmosphere. It helps create success."

It helps create stifled automatons. The Trib makes fun of the reform group PURE complaining that such rules are "dehumanizing," but that's exactly what the factory model is.

Education is not about creating obedient workers and consumers, but about creating fully realized adults- and citizens-to-be. I know that's not allowed in Chicago, but maybe that ought to change.

"James Heckman, a Nobel Prize-winning economist at the University of Chicago whose research has identified the important role that social and emotional skills play in developing human capital, from birth to job training, said he thought the Noble approach was a crude one," Warren writes. 'There are probably better ways to motivate people than with cash,' Heckman said, 'and it's unfair for really poor students and parents' . . .

"[New World Foundation president Colin] Greer said the Noble system undermined two critical aims of public education: preparing children for living in a democracy and learning to live with one another.

"He likens it to teaching by Pavlovian response, referring to Ivan Pavlov, the Russian psychologist who did pioneering work on conditioned responses.

"You're responding to punishment, like one of Pavlov's dogs,' Greer said. 'You're not teaching how to behave in a democracy, where you behave in the best interests of a larger community.'

"He said the fines were absurd, and at best they created rote, reflex responses and not the sort of flexibility and self-motivation needed in a modern economy."

Signing Off
"Mayor Rahm Emanuel tried Thursday to walk a political tightrope on rules changes proposed by four powerful aldermen aimed at silencing the audience at City Council meetings - rule changes the American Civil Liberties Union dubbed 'very troubling," the Sun-Times reports.

What is the tightrope, exactly? Between alienating four powerful aldermen and the First Amendment?

Alternate: "Mayor Rahm Emanuel refused to disavow on Thursday proposed rule changes that would leave him with the power - among other things - to determine which signs, banners, placards and posters were allowed into city council meetings."

*

"Burke, chairman of the City Council's Finance Committee, issued a prepared statement about the controversy on Thursday."

But refused to answer questions from reporters, presumably. It's none of their business.

"The proposed changes in the Rules of Order and Procedure of the City Council were introduced as a courtesy in response to a suggestion by the sergeant-at-arms and should make for a lively discussion," Burke said.

Oh, it's just a courtesy proposal!

Um, just one question, and I'll ask it in a prepared statement: Since when do you take legislative advice from the sergeant-at-arms?

*

"The sergeant-at-arms, Christina Butler Pacheco, said she has not yet seen a final draft of the measure and declined further comment," the Chicago News Cooperative reports.

Too perfect!

"Butler Pacheco is a long-time political ally of Ald. Richard Mell (33rd), who also is a sponsor of the new proposal. As chairman of the council's Rules Committee, Mell effectively appointed Butler Pacheco to the sergeant-at-arms post.

"Mell said he signed onto the measure after Burke approached him with the idea.

"The two other sponsors were Ray Suarez (31st) and Carrie Austin (34th). Suarez declined comment and Austin did not return calls."

*

Pacheco's annual salary is $91,980. Proposing legislation is not in her job description, but hey, it's a free country. Except for those attending city council meetings.

*

"During City Council meetings, the room behind the council chambers becomes a mosh pit of reporters, city staffers, lobbyists, job seekers and other hangers-on trying to influence aldermen when they dart out to use the bathroom or talk on their cell phones," the Tribune reported in 2004.

"But the growing crowds have prompted the council's sergeant-at- arms to enforce the long-ignored 'aldermen only' rule for the second-floor room that is decorated with paintings of George Washington and the Ft. Dearborn massacre.

"Christina 'Sarge' Pacheco Butler - a no-nonsense Northwest Sider who keeps a black billy club at the front edge of her desk - has told aldermen that she intends to clear the room.

"Aldermanic aides will need to show identification to confer with their bosses during meetings. And reporters who must cross the room to get to the media area also will have to flash their badges. Everyone else will have to find somewhere else to glad-hand the aldermen or cajole them into exercising clout in their favor. "

The Squeaky Weal
Tom Dart talks jail.

Rare Cubs World Series Video
Futility in the final frame.

The Dancing Presidents . . .
. . . Of Value City Furniture.

Strawberry Town Forever
The other side of awesome.

The Week in Chicago Rock
Hit, miss, hit, miss, hit.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Hitsville.


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:53 AM | Permalink

Rare Video: Cubs vs. Tigers in The 1935 World Series

From Chicago magazine:

"In the February 2012 issue of Chicago magazine, we profile Doak Ewing, owner of perhaps the nation's largest private collection of sports films - more than 3,000 reels in all. His company, Rare Sportsfilms, rescues and restores reels of old sports footage and produces about 15 new DVDs a year. This video is of the 1935 World Series between the Chicago Cubs and the Detroit Tigers, excerpted from one of Ewing's Baseball Classics DVDs."


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See also:
* Telling The Tale Of A Perfect Find

* Interview with Doak Ewing

* Rare Sports Films

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Comments welcome.


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:59 AM | Permalink

The Squeaky Weal Lecture Series: Tom Dart

Highlights:

* The Cook County Jail is now the largest mental health provider in Illinois. This is not good.

* Charlie Trotter and Publican buy their produce from the jail garden. This is not a secret.

* About 20 inmates work at the city's animal control facility. They've replaced bad employees.

* Eighty to 85 percent of the jail population never goes on to prison. They go from jail back into the community because of time-served, probation, etc.

* Three former prostitutes work sweeps to help redirect women off the streets.


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For more on the Squeaky Weal lecture series, click here.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:39 AM | Permalink

The Dancing Presidents of Value City Furniture

"Tremendous!"

"If only!"

"Positively constitutional!"

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Yankee daddies.

*

See also:

Nightstand scandal.

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Dinette bribes.

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Pantygate.

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Cozy kickbacks.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:07 AM | Permalink

Chicagoetry: Strawberry Town Forever

Strawberry Town Forever

The objective remains
a vision in the mist, the other side of awesome,

like the Cheshire smile of a lemon leopard,
like the Sphinx, Cheops of Giza,

at dusk. There beneath the black
suburban skies, the objective remains.
Let me take you down cuz
I'm going to Strawberry Town.

East of Krakatoa,
west of Gaza, past awesome

to Strawberry Giza.
There's a candy factory there

which perfumes the air.
It's remarkable.

Lemon rain
and a black strawberry breeze.

Verifiable physical phenomena,
an going concern.

Catch that buzz, the Western 49
where the drivers have looking-glass eyes.
Sit back, to the right,

check your looking-glass
and listen for the bells.

Change to the Blue Lime train, shit!
The Blue Line! Wait!

Change to the blue lime then
picture yourself on a train in a station

with plasticene porters
who call out the stops.
Eerily, a calm, invisible male,
sounding just as slightly drunk each time,
sets ground rules
and calls out stops.

Climb in the back with your head in the clouds
and you're gone!

Big, blue lime,
soul train to Giza,
a category mistake, a simple typographical error,

a willful misapprehension of data

west into the Electrified Forest,
past the Butterfly Hospital
and the Rue Morgue,

through Gaza, past awesome
to Strawberry Town. Once lost now
found, dying to take you away,

turn you on.
West of Gaza

where the shadows simmer
with remaindered bells.
Always listen for the bells.
They leap skyward in sharp tombs
and remain imprisoned.
They call out with dusty tongues.

Too much horrified to speak
they can only shriek.
In the bosom of the palpitating air
they're always there.

Finally, in the gloaming, it looms.
At dusk, in silhouette,
the Basilica of the Lemon Ra.

Lemon dew, strawberry dusk!
Lemon steppe, strawberry husk!
Not mirages of match-stick men

but verifiable physical phenomena,
an ongoing concern. Objective achieved!
The reticule of Strawberryland!

Lemon Cheops! With a big, electric smile
that lingers as the body disappears into the
black strawberry breeze...

A remarkable strategic triumph!
Sympathy and trust abounding in this dusky
jewel we hope to pluck.

But then you gotta
go back.
Don't spoil the spell
by fixing to dwell.

Sniff the air, say a prayer
then get back, Loretta.
Strawberryland abides,
mystic crystal revelation.

An elusive confluence of variables
which induces an aria of little bells
and the rapture that impels.
Once, forever. I shall always pray

to recover you.
Ach, du.

Get back
from Giza
past awesome

through Gaza

to the moaning and the groaning
of the bells.

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Previously: Big Fat 49 To Strawberry Town

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J.J. Tindall is the Beachwood's poet-in-residence. He welcomes your comments. Chicagoetry is an exclusive Beachwood collection-in-progress.

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More Tindall:

* Chicagoetry: The Book

* Ready To Rock: The Music

* Kindled Tindall: The Novel

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:57 AM | Permalink

The Week in Chicago Rock

You shoulda been there.

1. Die Antwoord at the Metro on Wednesday night.


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2. Cody Simpson at the House of Blues on Tuesday night.

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3. Chicago Farmer at The Cantina in Pekin on Tuesday night.

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4. Austin Mahone at the Paramount Theatre in Aurora on Tuesday night.

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5. The Dirty Guv'nahs at Schubas on Thursday night.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:26 AM | Permalink

February 16, 2012

The [Thursday] Papers

"Ahead of this spring's NATO and G8 summits, four influential aldermen on Wednesday proposed prohibiting audience members from waving signs or engaging in any 'demonstration of approval or disapproval' during City Council meetings," the Chicago News Cooperative reports.

Disapproval by the aldermen themselves has already been prohibited for many years.

"Under the proposal, the banned conduct in the council chambers would include - but would not be limited to - 'cheering, yelling, clapping, foot stomping, whistling, booing or jeering.' The public gallery 'may be cleared' if any such behavior occurs, according to the resolution introduced quietly at Wednesday's council meeting.

"The rules also would ban audience members from carrying 'signs, placards, banners or posters' in the council chambers without prior approval from the mayor or the aldermen who preside over council committee meetings."

The mayor would have to approve your signs.

Allowed.

Not.

"The sponsors of the measure were Edward Burke (14th Ward), Ray Suarez (31st), Carrie Austin (34th) and Richard Mell (33rd)."

Each will be sent to remedial civics class before being allowed to rejoin the council.

"'There is plenty of room outside the chambers' for the public to express its opinions, said Mell."

There's no room for public opinion inside the chambers, however.

ALTERNATE: Plenty of room excepting Grant Park and LaSalle and Dearborn.

"Mell said he believed the behavior targeted by the new resolution is not allowed during legislative sessions in Washington, Springfield or most other state capitols."

It turns out he was thinking of Tehran, Beijing and Pyongyang.

"Burke and Austin did not return calls seeking comment, and Suarez declined comment. Aides to Mayor Rahm Emanuel also did not immediately return calls seeking comment."

There's no room for comment.

Unless you're Ald. George Cardenas (12th), who "said the new rules might be needed if protesters attempt to disrupt council meetings when Chicago hosts the NATO and G8 summits in May.

"We've got a lot of problems in our city and the last thing we need is chaos," Cardenas said. "It could be the intention of some of the folks to shut down government, shut down debate and shut down the city's business, and we can't allow that to happen."

It could be the intention of some folks to shut down debate. We can't allow that to happen. And by God if we have to shut down debate to preserve it, we'll do it!

Chill Pill
"I would ask you to calm down, listen to the experts, and let's not go wild about this," former police chief Terry Hillard told business leaders Wednesday night.

Perhaps Hillard hadn't heard of the latest Sit Down And Shut Up proposal being introduced in the City Council, because if you want to inflame protesters and set the stage for a disaster, the aldermen and the administration are doing everything right.

Eyes In The Sky
"Vislink has won a major order from Motorola Solutions, Inc. to fulfill Motorola's contract with the City of Chicago Office of Emergency Management and Communications to equip Chicago Fire and Police Department helicopters with airborne surveillance technology in advance of the city's hosting of the G8 and NATO Summits in May 2012," the company announced in a press release.

"Vislink will design the fully integrated airborne downlink system, supplying its high power HD/SD Kamelyon™ HDX-1100 digital aircraft transmitter and cockpit-mounted control panel units to provide a broad range of surveillance and first response capabilities.

"The airborne units will transmit to four strategically located ground-based receiver sites providing city-wide coverage and the ability to simultaneously receive real-time images from two aircraft for viewing at the OEMC operations center."

Plenty of Room
"90 of those charged with violating the city's curfew ordinance argued their arrests violated their First Amendment rights to peacefully assemble, even overnight, and they want the charges dismissed," CBS2 Chicago reports.

"Defense attorney Tom Durkin said, 'All you can do in Chicago is protest for 17 hours and this is the way we want to show off we're a world class city? It takes us back to looking like idiots.'

"City attorneys have argued the arrests weren't a ban on speech and were not criminal in nature.

"Defense attorney Robert Stainthorpe criticized the city for, 'Making the protestors be arrested, taken to jail, fingerprinted, mug shots, conditions of bail set, go to criminal court; now the city's turned around and said, Oh, it's not really criminal, it's just civil. That's really outrageous.'"

Shhhh! What do you want to do, shut down debate?

Is Obama Lincoln Yet?
A Beachwood investigation.

Walter's Weird Whitney Wailing
Spare me the trite populism.

Chicago vs. Drake
A sweet beef.

Monster Jam Chicago!
That truck's got a mohawk, dude.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: A quiet room.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:31 AM | Permalink

Walter's Weird Whitney Wailing

"Whitney Houston is the story of a miracle talent, snuffed out by prescription drugs, drug abuse, and alcohol," Walter Jacobson proclaimed in his Perspective on Tuesday.

"She was a truly beautiful person who could have been a most beautiful role model for millions of young women, but she gave away that opportunity; just as Michael Jackson did, and Amy Winehouse - of the rich and careless pop music world.

"They lost themselves in celebrity, and a misguided belief that fame and fortune could save them from their demons."

Walter Jacobson, noted addiction expert.

But here's the real problem:

"We're hailing Whitney Houston, as we hail so many music stars as though they are heroes, which they are not."

We are? Name one person hailing Whitney Houston as a hero. She was certainly influential and inspiring as a musical figure, but the overriding media narrative is one of tragedy and the ravages of drugs.

"Heroes are cops and firefighters and school teachers."

Oh spare me the trite populism!

"I say hail Houston as a lesson about the ravages of drugs."

Hey, didn't I just say that?

I don't know what coverage Walter has been watching and reading, but the cable network news shows have been filled with the Dr. Drews and Sanjay Guptas of the world explaining to us yet again how addiction works. Catch up, Walter!

And the tabloids and TMZ are focused almost exclusively on the drugs reportedly found in Houston's hotel room. (To understand the whole bathtub thing, read this from xojane.

"Hail the music industry to protect its young singers and the doctors to stop dishing drugs (50 million tranquilizers a year)," Walter squeals. But shoot up Brian Urlacher but good!

"And hail the Grammy people to be better role models, and the media to focus less on who the stars are, and more on how they ought to behave."

Yes, media, tell us less who the stars are and more how they ought to behave! Um, what?

Maybe Walter ought to be a little more self-reflective. First, CBS Chicago - or any of our local news outlets and, let's face it, their network owners - is hardly the paragon for responsible media practices. That Whitney photo gallery isn't there for any reason other than to exploit her death for page views. And "Grammy Awards: Who Looked Good?" isn't exactly edifying.

Finally, it's kind of hard to read or watch this Perspective and not recall your, um, legal problems, Walter.

And you can't even sing.

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See also: The Weirdness of Walter Jacobson

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Comments welcome.


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 4:07 AM | Permalink

Monster Jam Chicago!

That truck's got a mohawk, dude.

From the Monster Jam last weekend in Rosemont.


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From the Tribune's preview:

"Monster trucks, 12-feet tall, sitting on 66-inch tires and weighing at least 10,000 pounds, compete in freestyle and racing events. Monster competitors include El Toro Loco, making its first Chicago-area appearance, and Monster Mutt Dalmatian, driven by one of the top female drivers, Candice Jolly.

"Why go: It's the 30th anniversary of the most famous monster, Grave Digger, and veteran driver Pablo Huffaker will sit behind the wheel of a newly designed Digger."

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See also:
* 26thandCal's YouTube channel

* b0jangles' Flickr photostream.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 3:13 AM | Permalink

Chicago vs. Drake

Uploaded to YouTube on Wednesday by the Windy City Bboys.

Why diss Drake?

The answer is simple, I agree with Common and his standpoints on 'Sweetness' a plague that has infected the Hip Hop community in ALL elements (Emceeing, Bboying, Graffiti Art and Djing) . . . so it's not just Drake

I don't hate Drake he just happens to be on top using the word "Hip-Hop" to captivate a following and presenting this culture in a tasteless way. I don't know about you guys and when I say you guys I mean the Hip Hop headz that have struggled for years to keep the true essence of this art form alive . . . but I find it disrespectful and demeaning when someone comes onto the scene and takes shortcuts to get a "name" without paying dues and most importantly not grasping what this culture means.

To the average person . . . I'll put it to you likes this:

Let's say you've worked at your job for 10 years, you've worked hard to get where you're at, you've become an expert at what you do . . . now a new hire comes in and they start that person at the same wage as you.

I worked in the corporate world for a decade for a reputable telecommunications company and I know it happens there too . . . and what have all of you done when this has happened?

Point is, dig a little deeper and you'll find that this Culture has much more to offer when you truly embrace it.


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"Support our cause by purchasing the Official Chicago vs Drake Tee (www.WindyCityBboys.com), the money will go to further advancing our equipment so that we may continue to improve our overall quality of work. The first 100 Tee's are on sale for $20 (for a limited time) including free shipping within the U.S. (Delivery time 2-3 weeks). We thank you all, peace and God bless."

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See also: MTV's Timeline Of The Drake-Common Beef

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 3:08 AM | Permalink

Is Obama Lincoln Yet?

Lincoln's Birthday on Monday got me to thinking: Is he him yet?

Headline: What I See In Lincoln's Eyes
Author: Barack Obama
Date: June 26, 2005
Excerpt: So when I, a black man with a funny name, born in Hawaii of a father from Kenya and a mother from Kansas, announced my candidacy for the U.S. Senate, it was hard to imagine a less likely scenario than that I would win--except, perhaps, for the one that allowed a child born in the backwoods of Kentucky with less than a year of formal education to end up as Illinois' greatest citizen and our nation's greatest President.

*

Headline: Maybe It's Right Time For Obama To Run . . .
Author: Rich Miller, Sun-Times
Date: December 8, 2006
Excerpt: "The experience issue is less of a problem for me. Abraham Lincoln 's sole governmental experience was eight years in the Illinois House and just two years in Congress, yet he was one of our greatest presidents.

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Headline: . . . But If He Does, He'd Better Be Ready To Face Nasty Opposition
Author: Andrew Greeley, Sun-Times
Date: December 8, 2006
Excerpt: "There are three reasons why he should not run.

"The first is that he has not had enough experience. One could reply by citing another citizen of Illinois who ran for president, another man of integrity, intelligence and honor whose experience was also mostly in the Illinois Legislature and a year in the House of Representatives. With two years in the Senate, Obama could boast more 'experience' than Abraham Lincoln.

*

Headline: Linking To Lincoln: Obama Campaign Dares To Make Most Of Parallels
Author: Jennifer Hunter, Sun-Times
Date: February 9, 2007
Excerpt: "There is no argument there are many compelling parallels between Honest Abe and Barack . . . By the time Lincoln left Springfield in 1860, he understood himself to be a man of destiny. And he knew he was going to be leading a fractious nation. As president, he was able to assemble a Cabinet of his rivals, using adroit political skills to win their cooperation. Russian novelist Leo Tolstoy explained that Lincoln 'really was not a great general like Napoleon or Washington; he was not such a skillful statesman as Gladstone or Frederick the Great; but his supremacy expresses itself altogether in his peculiar moral power and in the greatness of his character.'

"Obama 's campaign strategists are suggesting he can bring the same moral authority and greatness of character to the White House. That takes daring . . . and hubris."

*

Headline: Obama-Lincoln Comparisons Favor New Guy
Author: Eric Zorn, Tribune
Date: February 13, 2007
Excerpt: "Obama may be no Lincoln, but Lincoln was no Obama."

*

Headline: Strong, Silent Type - He Was 'Smart, Innovative, Relentless,' And He Mostly Let Other Lawyers Do The Talking
Author: Abdon Pallasch, Sun-Times
Date: December 17, 2007
Excerpt: "In 1994, Obama went before the 7th Circuit to defend Ahmad Baravati, a trader blackballed by his bosses after he reported them for fraud.

"An arbitrator awarded Baravati $60,000 in damages plus $120,000 in punitive damages against the former bosses . . .

"'I found he's a very smart, innovative, skilled, relentless advocate for his client,' Baravati said. 'When I met him, he reminded me of Abraham Lincoln.'"

*

Headline: History Gives Honest Look At Fairy Tale
Author: Eric Zorn, Tribune
Date: January 17, 2008
Excerpt: "The whole thing, really, is a fairy tale.

"I mean, give me a break: The guy gives a good speech. Yes. Give him that. But are we electing a toastmaster or a president of the United States? Let's look at his record to see what qualifies him for the highest office in the land:

"Eight years in the Illinois legislature? He was a party loyalist and a temporizer who too often put politics ahead of principle and was cautious rather than bold when it came to controversial issues.

"Two years in Washington? Yes, he pontificated about how he opposed the war, but at crunch time he voted to fund it. And his legislative record on Capitol Hill is thin.

"Other accomplishments? The enthusiasm for his candidacy was sparked by one big successful speech and is carried along by his gift for uplifting rhetoric.

"Consider, in contrast, the senator from New York who is his top rival for the nomination: A history in public life going back 30 years. Solid reform credentials. Clearly far more ready for the Oval Office than the younger, audacious Mr. Slim Silver-tongue from Illinois.

"They didn't have blogs back in 1860, but if they did, you can bet that the pundits and partisans hoping to discredit Abraham Lincoln's candidacy and bring his supporters down to earth would have posted something very much like the screed above."

*

Headline: Hillary, Barack, Experience
Author: Nicholas Kristof, New York Times
Date: January 20, 2008
Excerpt: "With all the sniping from the Clinton camp about whether Barack Obama has enough experience to make a strong president, consider another presidential candidate who was far more of a novice. He had the gall to run for president even though he had served a single undistinguished term in the House of Representatives, before being hounded back to his district.

"That was Abraham Lincoln."

*

Headline: Obama's Support Grows Broader, New Poll Finds
Authors: Robin Toner and Dalia Sussman, New York Times
Date: February 26, 2008
Excerpt: ''He's from Illinois, and I'm from Illinois, and he reminds me of Abraham Lincoln,'' said Dylan Jones, 53, a laborer from Oxford, N.C., who was interviewed in a follow-up to the poll. ''I can see him out there splitting rails."

*

Headline: Who Truly Has The Experience To Be . . . ?
Author: Leonard Pitts, appearing in the Tribune
Date: March 28, 2008
Excerpt: "Obama would hardly be the first president to come to office with little experience in national politics. Abraham Lincoln, like Obama, had eight years in Illinois state government and a few more in Congress."

*

Headline: Brave Race Speeches Link Lincoln, Obama
Author: James Warren, Tribune
Date: April 14, 2008
Excerpt: "They each ran for president as Illinois lawyers of modest political experience, were linked to men with extreme views, opposed initially popular wars, and were unconventional in looks and demeanor. And, as the estimable Garry Wills notes in the May 1 New York Review of Books, Abraham Lincoln and Barack Obama are now connected by similar speeches on race."

*

Headline: Does Experience Matter Anymore?
Author: Clarence Page, Tribune
Date: August 31, 2008
Excerpt: "Obama, a first-term senator, has more Washington experience than Abraham Lincoln, who took office after serving only one undistinguished term in the House."

*

Headline: Obama/Lincoln Parallel Tough To Sell To Voters
Author: Laura Washington, Sun-Times
Date: September 22, 2008
Excerpt: "One who is feeling it is Richard Norton Smith, the distinguished American historian and founding director of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum in Springfield. I reached out to Smith, now a scholar-in-residence at George Mason University, who regularly opines on presidential history for PBS' Lehrer News Hour.

"'I was a little surprised when you called,' he told me. 'I don't sense any persistent effort to wrap Obama in the Lincoln mantle.'"

*

Headline: Lincoln Map A Winner For Obama?
Author: Abdon Pallasch, Sun-Times
Date: September 22, 2008
Excerpt: "The map hasn't changed all that much in 148 years. But the political parties have switched places.

"The northeast part of the country, from Illinois to Maine - along with California and Oregon - likes the tall, skinny lawyer from Illinois."

*

Headline: Obama For President
Author: Tribune editorial board
Date: October 19, 2008
Excerpt: "When Obama said at the 2004 Democratic Convention that we weren't a nation of red states and blue states, he spoke of union the way Abraham Lincoln did.

"It may have seemed audacious for Obama to start his campaign in Springfield, invoking Lincoln. We think, given the opportunity to hold this nation's most powerful office, he will prove it wasn't so audacious after all."

*

Headline: Call Him Eloquent Abe, The Writer in Chief
Author: Michiko Kakutani, New York Times
Date: November 7, 2008
Excerpt: "A former Illinois state legislator, with a short stint in Congress under his belt, comes to national prominence with speeches that showcase his eloquence. He is, according to the author of this new book, something of a cool customer: calm and graceful under pressure, 'a difficult man to read, who loved jokes and stories' but who was otherwise remarkably self-contained.

"This former lawyer runs as 'a stoic moderate,' embracing the virtues of 'balance, temperance and restraint'; as a campaigner he emphasizes a reasoned 'analysis of issues rather than personalities.' His poetic gifts as a writer, shaped by a lifetime of avid reading, are matched by a lawyer's appreciation of precision; his writings project 'a persona of dignified but amiable authenticity,' and do so with a 'concision of phrasing and logical tightness.' In his run for office he is criticized for being too inexperienced to be president and for failing to support the troops, because he'd questioned an American invasion of a country he claimed was 'in no way molesting, or menacing the U.S.' His vision of America is an optimistic one of reconciliation - to 'help make strangers into neighbors,' in the words of this biographer, 'to create sympathy between regions and nations, and, by inference, between the North and South.'

"The man in question - and the subject of this fascinating new book - is Abraham Lincoln, not Barack Obama."

*

Headline: Lincoln Helps Obama Win Office
Author: Christopher Wills, AP
Date: November 10, 2008
Excerpt: "Barack Obama should thank at least one Republican for helping him win the presidency. Abraham Lincoln played a small but vital role in helping the little-known candidate with the strange name win over millions of skeptical voters.

"Obama launched his campaign in front of the former Illinois capitol where Lincoln once served as a lawmaker. The tall, gangly, self-made lawyer not so subtly pointed out that the 16th president was also a tall, gangly, self-made lawyer. He spoke approvingly of Lincoln's 'team of rivals' approach to selecting his Cabinet. And Obama quoted Lincoln in speech after speech as he campaigned, associating himself with one of America's greatest presidents whether the subject was patriotism or faith or veterans.

"Bruce Newman, a professor at DePaul University, called it basic marketing: Obama is linking himself to one of the great brand names of American politics. Evoking Lincoln reassures voters that Obama shares their basic American values. The specter of the Civil War emphasizes the importance of national unity. And, coming from a black candidate, it reminds people of ending slavery and putting the country on the road toward racial equality.

"A Toronto Star cartoon showed the two holding hands in triumph, with Obama thinking, 'I couldn't have done it alone.' The congressional committee planning Obama 's swearing-in ceremony has selected a Lincoln theme, connecting the inauguration to the 200th anniversary of Lincoln 's birth. Search the Internet and you'll find T-shirts featuring Obama and Lincoln, along with photos that morph the two into one man. And Illinois' Old State Capitol, historic for its Lincoln connections, plans to install some sort of marker noting that it's also the place where Obama launched his successful presidential campaign and introduced his choice for vice president."

*

Headline: Barackraham Oblincoln
Authors: Mark Jacob, Louise Kiernan, Tribune
Date: January 18, 2009
Excerpt: "President-elect Barack Obama is more than a little obsessed with Abraham Lincoln. He announced his candidacy at the Old State Capitol in Springfield, where Lincoln delivered his 'house divided' speech. He's riding to his inauguration via train, just like Lincoln. He's using Lincoln's Bible for the swearing-in. He's even going to eat the same food as Lincoln at the luncheon afterward. But how do Nos. 16 and 44 really stack up?"

*

Headline: A Pragmatic Precedent
Authors: Henry Louis Gates and John Stauffer, New York Times
Date: January 19, 2009
Excerpt: "Perhaps none of his heirs in the Oval Office has been as directly compared to Lincoln as will Barack Obama, in part because Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation began freeing the slaves descended from the continent on which Mr. Obama's father was born, and in part because of Mr. Obama's own fascination with Lincoln himself . . .

"Is Barack Obama another Abraham Lincoln? Let's hope not. Greatness - witness the presidencies of Lincoln, say, and Franklin D. Roosevelt - is forged in the crucible of disaster. It comes when character is equal to cataclysm. A peacetime Lincoln would have been no Lincoln at all. Let's hope that Mr. Obama, for all of his considerable gifts, doesn't get this particular chance to be great."

*

Headline: Barack Obama & Abraham Lincoln - 16 vs. 44
Author: Sun-Times
Date: January 21, 2009
Excerpt: "BOTH: Important events happened to them in '09. Lincoln was born Feb. 12, 1809. In 2009, almost 200 years later, Obama took the oath of office . . . BOTH: Used the same china pattern for inaugural lunch."

*

Headline: Abe Was Our Inspiration, Too
Author: Sun-Times
Date: January 21, 2009
Excerpt: "Every boy should listen to his mother, and our Page 1 designer James Smith says he'll never be too old to do that.

"Smith, 36, knew he would be designing the front page of the Sun-Times for the morning after Barack Obama 's election last November when his mom told him:

"'James, you've got to do something that ties Obama and Lincoln together.'"

*

Headline: Black Designers Feel Excluded By Michelle - Things Were Different When Lincoln Became President
Author: Mary Mitchell, Sun-Times
Date: January 29, 2009
Excerpt: "[H]ad Michelle Obama held the Lincoln Bible for her husband's swearing-in while wearing an ensemble made by a black designer, it would have made more than a fashion statement.

"It would have underscored the Abraham Lincoln imagery that President Obama was so fond of conjuring up during his campaign.

"After all, Mary Todd Lincoln 's seamstress was a black former slave named Elizabeth Keckley."

*

Headline: L.B.J. All The Way?
Author: Peter Baker, New York Times
Date: August 23, 2009
Excerpt: "President Obama had not even taken office before supporters were etching his likeness onto Mount Rushmore as another Abraham Lincoln or the second coming of Franklin D. Roosevelt.

"Yet what if they got the wrong predecessor? What if Mr. Obama is fated to be another Lyndon B. Johnson instead?"

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Comments welcome.


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 2:01 AM | Permalink

February 15, 2012

The [Wednesday] Papers

"Gov. Pat Quinn says he doesn't know if he would support legislation that would give same sex couples the same rights as heterosexual couples," AP reports.

He's not sure. After all, it's a new issue.

"The Democrat supported same sex civil unions, which became legal in Illinois last summer. However, he said Tuesday he wants to study issues surrounding same-sex marriage before he makes a decision."

He wants to study up. After all, it's a new issue.

Pat Quinn is a Democrat.

*

On the other hand, Quinn is for gay money.

Boycott!

*

Paging Rick Garcia.

Rahm's World
"Mayor Rahm Emanuel said Tuesday that he didn't direct a political consulting firm with close ties to him to organize faith and community groups in support of his education agenda, nor was he aware the company was doing so," the Tribune reports.

And yet, somehow they knew what to do.

"The mayor's comments followed a Tribune report Monday that Resolute Consulting has given money and organizational help to groups that support Emanuel's attempts to lengthen the school day, bolster charter schools and close underperforming schools. Resolute is run by Greg Goldner, Emanuel's 2002 congressional campaign manager who also runs a political fund aligned with Emanuel's interests."

So, kind of like a Super PAC. If only Rahm could coordinate!

Penalty Flag
Rahm's touchdown called back.

Heartland of Darkness
"Confidential documents leaked from inside The Heartland Institute, a wealthy think tank based in Chicago and Washington, detail strategy and funding for an array of activities designed to spread doubt about climate change science, paid for by companies that have a financial interest in continuing to release greenhouse gases without government interference," the Age of Australia reports.

"Among the recipients of funding is Professor Bob Carter of James Cook University, a geologist and marine researcher who spoke at the 'convoys of no confidence' protests against the carbon price last year.

"The documents show Professor Carter receives a 'monthly payment' of $US1667 ($A1550), as part of a program to pay 'high-profile individuals who regularly and publicly counter the alarmist message.'

"Professor Carter did not deny being paid by The Heartland Institute, but would not confirm the amount, or why it was paying him."

*

Story originally broken by DeSmogBlog: "Heartland Institute Exposed: Internal Documents Unmask Heart of Climate Denial Machine."

Pill Bill
"A Chicago doctor who prosecutors say dispensed more of the powerful painkiller oxycodone from 2003 to 2005 than any other physician in the country was sentenced Tuesday to four life terms in the overdose deaths of four patients," AP reports.

"Dr. Paul Volkman made weekly trips from Chicago to three locations in Portsmouth in southern Ohio and one in Chillicothe in central Ohio before federal investigators shut down the operations in 2006, prosecutors said. He was sentenced in federal court in Cincinnati."

Comic Book Men
Jay and Silent Bob strike again - and a pair of southwest suburban Chicago comic book owners don't like it.

Obama's Housing Plan
Vs. Reality.

Second and Third Thoughts
Miggy vs. A-Ram.

-

The Beachwood Tip Line: Noble.


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:35 AM | Permalink

Obama Housing Plans vs. Reality

The Obama administration recently unveiled a string of proposals to help struggling homeowners and get the housing market back on its feet 2014 part of the administration's "We Can't Wait" election year to-do list. Of course, the White House has made big promises before about helping homeowners, only to see them disappoint time and again.

Here are the latest proposals, whether they are anything new and whether they stand a chance of going anywhere.

Refinancing

President Obama wants to allow homeowners whose mortgages are backed by private-sector companies to refinance at lower rates through the Federal Housing Administration. (The FHA insures many mortgages, and it is not the same as the FHFA, the regulatory agency in charge of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.) The president stressed that the proposal would help only "responsible" homeowners who were current on their payments - to counter Republican complaints that his housing policies reward foolhardy borrowers.

Deja vu: This is only the latest in a long series of attempts by Obama to help homeowners refinance. There have been a few, minor attempts to push refinancing through the FHA. Via a separate program launched in 2009 that used Freddie and Fannie, more than 900,000 homeowners have refinanced, substantially fewer than the goal of 4 million homeowners.

Will it happen? Unlikely. This plan needs to get through a Congress that is staunchly opposed. "How many times have we done this?" said House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio.

Republicans have a number of objections. First, Obama wants the plan to be paid for with a fee on the banks in repayment for the bailout, a tactic that's raised Wall Street hackles in previous budgets. Secondly, some Republicans balk at passing more risk on to the FHA, which is in danger of having to ask the Treasury for a subsidy for the first time in its nearly 70-year history. Even if the plan passes, its impact would likely be limited. For the Obama administration to instigate mass refinancing without Congress' help, many say it would need to get Fannie and Freddie on board, a move the companies' regulator has so far been reluctant to endorse.

Bill of rights

A so-called "homeowner's bill of rights" aims to make things clearer for borrowers, requiring a standard set of forms and disclosure of fees and conflicts of interests. It also calls for help for those very close to foreclosure, including a right of appeal on the decision to foreclose. (Homeowners have claimed wrongful foreclosure for a wide variety of reasons, and have had little recourse to appeal mortgage servicers' decisions.)

Deja vu: This may be just a branding of efforts already under way across different agencies. The new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau says it is already developing a set of standard disclosure forms and rules aimed at preventing misleading or fraudulent practices by mortgage servicers. As for an appeal process, Treasury already has a system for complaints about foreclosures, and is reportedly expanding its review process for those denied eligibility for government loan modification programs. Advocates have criticized Treasury's current review efforts as ineffective. And, separately, federal bank regulators are developing new standards for mortgage servicers.

Will it happen? According the White House's announcement, a host of agencies that deal with housing will work to enact new rules in keeping with the bill of rights. But right now the bill of rights itself is simply a set of guiding principles that don't yet have any teeth. (We've documented problems with enforcement on similar guidelines.) The Department of Housing and Urban Development and the CFPB did not respond to our queries on exactly how the bill of rights relates to existing efforts.

Loan modification

The administration's plan to make it easier for homeowners to restructure their loans has two key elements. First, it lays out yet another push on principal reductions, which it argues are central to slowing the rate of foreclosures and stabilizing the market. The move triples the incentive for mortgage insurers, including Fannie and Freddie, to write down the amount owed by struggling borrowers. Secondly, it makes more borrowers eligible for HAMP, the administration's loan modification program, and also will give some homeowners who were previously denied access to the program a chance to reapply.

Deja vu: Like refinancing, incentives for principal reduction have been proffered again and again, with mixed success. As we've noted, a key obstacle is Fannie and Freddie, which guarantee mortgages and haven't been willing to take the hit that lowering the amount a borrower owes entails even if doing so would ultimately prevent foreclosures. Meanwhile, HAMP has been beset with a host of enforcement and logistical problems.

Will it happen? As a tweak to an existing program, these changes don't need to go through Congress. And as we explained last week, the mortgage settlement and these changes may actually breathe life into the disappointing HAMP program. But for principal reduction, the question remains: Will Fannie and Freddie give their OK? Without that, only a portion of homes in the U.S. could qualify.

Foreclosures to rentals

This plan takes foreclosed homes where mortgages were backed by Fannie and Freddie and sells them to investors who will put them on the market as rentals. Obama claims this will help heal neighborhoods blighted by empty buildings and evictions, and give a boost to real-estate sales.

Something new: This has been in the works since August 2011, and the Federal Reserve touted it recently as an important process, though Chairman Ben Bernanke cautioned it was no "silver bullet" for the housing market.

Will it happen? It's already started, though it's just an experiment for now. It will go through the FHFA, so it doesn't need congressional approval. The FHFA has already put out its first call for investors for the pilot phase.

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See also:
* Why Millions Won't Get Help From Obama's Big Mortgage Settlement

* Will Mortgage Settlement Avoid Repeating Obama's Foreclosure Failures?

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 1:44 AM | Permalink

Comic Book Men

"The everyday, nerdy banter of comic book fanboys is glamorized and documented for the small screen thanks to AMC and the genius that is Kevin Smith," Hailey Moran writes for The Daily Titan of Cal State-Fullerton.

"The same network that captivated audiences with hits like The Walking Dead and Mad Men is bringing a whole different vibe to its lineup with the unscripted reality series, Comic Book Men - a show that follows the negotiations and conversations taking place at a comic book store in Red Bank, New Jersey. With a cast that's lovable, hilarious and most of the time, inappropriate, this show's a must-see."

*

From AP:


*

"As the owners of Chimera's Comics in the southwest Chicago suburbs, we have experienced colorful characters, memorable customers, kind strangers, and bizarrely unnerving visitors," Steven Brown and Carmelo Chimera write at Huffington Post. "Our hope for Comic Book Men was that it might present a novel look into the people that make up a comic book store community.

"But the show lacks any relatable cast members. In fact, the most entertaining character on the show was a man named Bryan Johnson, a customer who spends all of his free time at the Secret Stash, despite not actually being employed there. His antics, including smashing collectible plates at a flea market in order to win a contest, were the most entertaining part of the show."

*

From the Beachwood vault; Pundit Patrol, February 23, 2010:

Laura Washington: Cultural literacy is important in a journalist, but if you come across a celebrity whose work is unknown to you, do a little research instead of assuming everyone else is equally as ignorant. To wit:

"Who's Kevin Smith?" Washington wrote on Monday. "I had never heard of the guy. I suspect I am not alone (his obscurity is probably one motive behind his headline-hungry rants.) Turns out Smith is an actor, director and comedian whose credits include Hollywood gems like Mallrats."

If Kevin Smith was such an obscure figure, this never would have become news. Being obscure to you doesn't mean being obscure to everyone.

See, it turns out Smith's brilliant directorial debut, Clerks, merely won awards at Sundance and Cannes before being put in release by Miramax; also turns out that besides Mallrats, Smith's films include Chasing Amy and Dogma; turns out Smith was a co-executive producer of Good Will Hunting; turns out he's revered in the comic book world, has scores of media appearances in various roles including guest reviewer three times on Ebert & Roeper, he posts nearly daily to his blog, and on and on and on.

But yes, his obscurity is probably behind his headline-hungry rants.

I mean, he totally provoked Southwest Airlines into throwing him off that flight! He had it all planned! Sources say he ate at McDonald's three times a week for a month just to make sure he'd get fat enough to cause a stir on that flight.

Where do they come from?

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 1:12 AM | Permalink

Fantasy Fix: Second and Third Thoughts

If fantasy baseball has two positions that are difficult to rank this year, they're second base and third base. At second base we have a lot of aging veterans, a couple players who were surprises last year, and the enigma of Chase Utley. At third base, the best player isn't ranked because he won't qualify at third base until the first couple weeks of the season are through - Miguel Cabrera. Meanwhile, the best player ranked at the position, Jose Bautista, may not play much third with young stud Brett Lawrie around and could end up losing his 3B eligibility.

Thinking strategically, if you can't get one of the top three second basemen, it might be worth it to take a gamble on Utley. For third base, if you're lucky enough to grab Cabrera (current position eligibility 1B) in the first round, plan to take another high-ranking 1B right away, then pick up a 3B in a later round - just a warm body assured to start the season - to start there while Cabrera qualifies for 3B.

My top 10 at 2B:

Robinson Cano, NYY: Though he doesn't steal as many bases as Kinsler and Pedroia, he makes up for it by being an overall better hitter and run producer than both.

Dustin Pedroia, BOS: Along with Cano, the only unquestionable top 20 player at this position. New-found power and improving health could mean a .320/25/100/30 season.

Ian Kinsler, TEX: Usually streaky and a bit injury-prone, he went on a home run binge last year. His 30/30 HR/SB potential gets him this ranking, but his batting average is woeful.

Dan Uggla, ATL: Took half a season to find his power last year, then went crazy and almost hit 40 HRs. I like him for HRs and doubles, but his age, 32, means he may be past his prime.

Ben Zobrist, TAM: Another aging vet at this position, he started career-year fast and faded a bit last year, though 20 HRs and 20 SBs isn't out of the question.

Brandon Phillips, CIN: His .300 average last season was a nice surprise, though his HRs and SBs have slipped in recent years, and he may no longer go 20/20 in those stats.

Chase Utley, PHI: Many people see him as having great comeback potential, and I'll buy in for 25 HRs, 25 SBs, but he hasn't hit for average in years.

Howie Kendrick, LAA: He turned doubles into HRs last year for the first time in his career, and could hit just ahead of Albert Pujols, which means good pitches to hit for a good hitter.

Michael Young, TEX: Yet another aging vet, whose great 2011 season was nice surprise. He may still have a 200-hit season in him, but has probably peaked in other stat categories.

Jemile Weeks, OAK: Played a little more than a half season last year and hit .300 with 22 SBs. I like his potential to reach 40 SBs this year, making him a nice sleeper at this ranking.

Just missed the top 10: Dustin Ackley, SEA; Rickie Weeks, MIL; Danny Espinosa, WAS; Michael Cuddyer, COL.

*

My top 10 at 3B:

Jose Bautista, TOR: He quieted doubters like me last year by hitting 43 HRs and above .300.

Evan Longoria, TAM: The sub.250 average really hurt, but at 27 he has 40 HR 120 RBI potential.

Adrian Beltre, TEX: A .300/30/100 candidate if he stays healthy.

Brett Lawrie, TOR: A big risk ranking him this high, but he has the tools to score in every fantasy category. I think his youth is less of a risk than the injury-prone vets I have ranked behind him.

Ryan Zimmerman, WAS: Forever on the verge, he's still young and still has .300/30/100 potential, but gets hurt every year.

David Wright, NYM: Many have him ranked higher, but he only played 102 games last year, and his RBIs will suffer greatly this year with Jose Reyes gone.

Pablo Sandoval, SF: No problem with Panda at this position, and I'd put him higher if he had Wright's speed or Zimmerman's HR clout.

Alex Rodriguez, NYY: The storied slugger will start fading into DH territory this season.

Aramis Ramirez, MIL: I wonder if the room temperature dome will have his bat warming up an earlier than it's usual July coming-out party.

Kevin Youkilis, BOS: I see him as pretty even with the next four or five guys at 3B, but willing to buy him here as a comeback story.

Just missed: David Freese, STL; Michael Young, TEX; Mark Reynolds; Mike Moustakas, KC

Expert Wire
* Athlon Sports ranks the second basemen, with Cano, Pedroia and Kinsler in familiar spots.

* Rant Sports ranks the top five young outfield prospects. Does the CUBS' Brett Jackson make the list?

* Bleacher Report features WHIP-ready starting pitchers.

-

Disco Danny O'Shea welcomes your comments.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:03 AM | Permalink

February 14, 2012

The [Tuesday] Papers

"A Chicago charter school franchise often touted by Mayor Rahm Emanuel has pocketed some $387,000 in fees over three years by issuing demerits for 'minor infractions' ranging from not sitting up straight to openly carrying 'flaming hot' chips, parents and students charged Monday," the Sun-Times reports.

Emanuel is considering expanding the fee schedule to the citizenry at large.

*

"It was kind of funny to see a 'team' from Noble charter network trying to crash our press conference, working the media in full-out damage control mode," PURE writes.

"The principal of Noble's Muchin campus was there with a parent who was set in front of any reporter who would listen to her to say how happy she was to pay the $140 fines just so that her child would be prepared to go on to college.

"Gee, how on earth do all those parents out in the suburbs manage to get their kids into college without the Noble 'secret sauce'?"

*

A classic Rahm tactic. Don't you dare disrupt his message and get in the way of his agenda. That right he reserves to himself to do to others.

*

"Critics say the network is using the fines to push out troubled students so it can boost graduation rates, but school leaders say tougher discipline has led to a safer school environment," the Tribune reports.

Koschman Case Goes From Bad To Worse - Again
"Facing the possibility of coming under scrutiny by a special prosecutor, the Cook County state's attorney's office and the Chicago Police Department are, for the first time, offering an explanation for why, just hours into the case, detectives abruptly dropped the David Koschman investigation and didn't pick it up again for 15 days: The two detectives assigned to the case went on vacation," the Sun-Times reported on Monday.

"Hours after detectives Rita O'Leary and Robert Clemens had learned that Koschman was in a coma, with a fractured skull and swollen brain, the police stopped talking with witnesses - apparently, a top police official now says, in hopes that Koschman would recover and would be able to talk with detectives about his confrontation with a man later identified as Richard J. 'R.J.' Vanecko, a nephew of then-Mayor Richard M. Daley.

"As a result, detectives interviewed only two of the eight known witnesses in the 11 days before Koschman died. One of them was a Vanecko friend who lied to the police on two separate occasions, concealing Vanecko's involvement. Friends who were with Koschman weren't interviewed."

Mr. Peanut
"Jerry Manos was the envy of a lot of men, his sister-in-law Sheila Meyer said," the Tribune reports.

"As a peanut vendor outside Wrigley Field for nearly 30 years, Mr. Manos worked just 81 days a year - Chicago Cubs home games - then spent the rest of the year driving across the Southern and Western U.S. in either his Volkswagen Vanagon or Ford diesel conversion van.

"'He had very little overhead,' Meyer said. 'And he lived very well.'

"Mr. Manos, 70, died Saturday, Feb. 4, of a degenerative muscle disease in Seasons Hospice & Palliative Care at Weiss Memorial Hospital in Chicago, Meyer said."

A life well lived. Go read the rest of it.

Airport Clearing
"These are rough times, as of late, for buildings designed by architect Edward G. McClellan," Lee Bey writes on his WBEZ blog.

"This month, the city demolished a beautiful but vacant three-story corner building designed by McClellan at 79th and Halsted after a portion of the structure collapsed and injured four passersby. And now, an occupied corner commercial building - designed by the same architect - in the Southwest Side neighborhood of Clearing would be razed under a plan to create a safety buffer around Midway Airport.

"The 84-year-old Crane and Moreland building, 63rd and Central, sits across from the western edge of the airport. City officials fear that proximity places the building - and four properties surrounding the airport - in danger of being hit by planes landing or taking off."

I wonder why they suddenly decided this now. (At the same time, I've often said the city has no business operating an airport in a crowded neighborhood and - instead of pouring resources into it as Richard M. Daley did - it should shut it down and help build Peotone instead. Still, the timing seems suspicious.)

"In a Chicago Sun-Times report last November, a city aviation official said acquiring the building 'is quite critical - not only for runway protection zones, but also to improve the navigation approach path for aircraft to that runway.' The building was completed the same year Midway opened.

"Clearing neighborhood residents are protesting the planned demolition and it's easy to see why. The three-store Baroque Revival building is rich in architectural details. much like McClellan's now-gone 79th and Halsted building. A drugstore anchors the building's corner and there are a variety of other small businesses there."

Click through to see Bey's photos.

Hammy Grammy's
"True to form, the 54th annual Grammy Awards Sunday night chose to sidestep its mission 'to honor artistic excellence' and instead heap prizes on artists who, amid the ugly death throes of the old-school record industry, continue to sell mountains of product the old-fashioned way: through a blizzard of hype," Jim DeRogatis writes on his WBEZ blog.

"[O]n the most egregious errors list: an astounding five Grammys for the Foo Fighters, who, despite dumping a true load of crap on the market in 2011 with Wasting Light (it earned a double 'trash it' on Sound Opinions), provided conservative voters at the Recording Academy with evidence that soulless, corporate, over-produced guitar rock still matters."

Go read the rest of it.

When Adele Played Martyr's
We dug up the video.

Meet Wheaton's Golden Glove
The dude chose boxing over Wall Street.

A Beachwood Valentine's Day
In three ugly parts.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Heartless.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:44 AM | Permalink

Meet Wheaton's Golden Glove

"Mike Lee is a 2005 graduate of Benet Academy in Lisle, Illinois where he was all conference linebacker in the Catholic League," according to his Wikipedia entry. "Lee spent his freshman year at the University of Missouri and then transferred to the University of Notre Dame in 2006 and graduated with a 3.8 GPA in 2009 with a degree in finance from Notre Dame's Mendoza College of Business. He was offered jobs on Wall Street. Lee says, 'I relax by watching CNBC, and I like to read the Wall Street Journal.'"

*

Last week on Chicago Tonight:


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"He's a kid from the rich suburbs succeeding in a world where it has long been believed the toughest fighters come from the toughest neighborhoods," Neil Hayes wrote for the Sun-Times last September. "That he is white can't be overlooked in a sport that often promotes racial stereotypes. That he has a finance degree from a famous university with a national following makes him a promoter's dream."

*

How Did Lee Get Subway Gig?.

And here they are:

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"John Lee, a former minor league baseball player and owner of an information technology company, is managing his son's career," Dan McGrath reported last fall for the Chicago News Cooperative.

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Powered by USANA.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:10 AM | Permalink

A Beachwood Valentine's Day

In three parts.

1. "On Valentine's Day, Croatia's lovelorn have a place to commemorate their heartbreak. And the appeal of the Museum of Broken Relationships appears to extend globally as well."


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2. Boyfriend Spray: You've never smelled so unavailable.

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3. Directed by Roger Corman.

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See also: It Was Over When . . .

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:53 AM | Permalink

When Adele Played Martyr's

Everyone's gotta start somewhere. For Grammy queen Adele and Chicago, it was May 31, 2008, at Martyr's.

1. I'm Movin' On and Cold Shoulder.


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2. Hometown Glory.

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3. Crazy For You.

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4. Best For Last.

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5. Fool That I Am.

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6. Melt My Heart To Stone.

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7. Daydreamer.

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Adele returned to Chicago on January 19, 2009 to play the Park West:

1. Make You Feel My Love.

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2. Tired.

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3. Hometown Glory.

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4. Right As Rain.

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5. Cold Shoulder and Melt My Heart To Stone.

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6. Daydreamer.

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7. Crazy For You.

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Adele played the Riv last year on May 24.

1. Someone Like You.


2. Take It All.

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3. Make You Feel My Love.

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4. Rolling In The Deep.

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5. Lovesong.

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6. Chasing Pavements.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:36 AM | Permalink

February 13, 2012

The [Monday] Papers

The Beachwood offices will be closed today because we're sure that's how Abe Lincoln would have wanted it.

Which reminds me, we used to have a fairly frequent customer at the Beachwood Inn whom we called Steve Lincoln Jr. He was, we posited, the great-great-great-great-grandson of Abe Lincoln. We never actually talked to him, though, to confirm this. He just looked the part.

Anyway, just because HQ is closed doesn't mean we don't have some awesome new posts to offer today, because we do:

* That Happened: The WGN Chastity Garter Belt.

Perfect for Valentine's Day!

File Under: Churnalism.

* What The Sun-Times Left Out Of Its Fond Remembrance Of Jeffrey Zaslow.

How he was fired after years of contributing big bucks to a Sun-Times Charity Trust bungled by his bosses.

File Under: Amnesiaism

* SportsMonday: It's All About The Man's Back.

Unlike the Bulls, however, the Blackhawks have no excuse.

File Under: Spasmatics

* Gravity Benders of Zion vs. Chicago Tribe.

Yosha, Crumbles and Mario FTW.

File Under: Cardboard Kickout 2012!

* The Weekend In Chicago Rock.

It was a big one, folks. We've got the video.

File Under: Better Than The Grammys

* Speaking of the Grammys, we live-Tweeted it.

* The Beachwood Inn is open tonight. We're pretty sure that's the way Abe Lincoln would've wanted it. I'm behind the bar 5p - 2a.

* And in case you missed this important report from the Tribune over the weekend . . .

The Mayor, The Lobbyist And The Dead 6-Year-Old Girl
"Mayor Rahm Emanuel has refused for months to release public records that could shed light on his controversial speed camera plan while he persuaded state lawmakers and Gov. Pat Quinn to turn it into law," the Tribune reports.

"Now that the mayor has released a small number of the requested documents, even that incomplete portrait raises new questions about how the plan was developed and sold.

"The records, many of them heavily censored, offer clues into City Hall's misstatements about a pedestrian safety crisis, the role of a well-connected speed camera lobbyist and how the mayor linked the death of a little girl to his campaign for cameras even though the devices wouldn't have saved her."

In other words, Rahm Emanuel has been exposed as a liar who pimped a six-year-old's death in order to fake the real reason why he pushed so hard for speed-camera legislation. Which, of course, was for the money, not the children.
"The mayor, in a spirited interview in his City Hall office last week, said his camera push was 'upfront and public' and will make the streets safer.

"'I think what people want to know and they will judge me on, as you said the taxpayers, am I getting the job done?' Emanuel said. 'They will hold me accountable, and their job is to see what I am doing on a day-to-day basis and to see if I am doing what I pledged to do . . . I am making government information available. I am making sure people have access to it. I am bringing back a level of trust.'"

I am making heavily redacted government information available after vigorously fighting off requests under the law to do just that! I am bringing back a level of trust by releasing against my will information that shows how duplicitous I am!

"During the 90-minute interview, Emanuel repeatedly accused the newspaper of downplaying the safety benefits of cameras by ignoring a city study that he said shows red light cameras have reduced nearby fatalities by 60 percent.

"'I've had people call you with it, and you refuse to publish it,' he said.

"'If the report is wrong you should go analyze that report,' Emanuel said.

"But his press secretary later said the report could not be provided to the newspaper because key portions were 'confidential.'"

Just like Rahm's requests that the Tribune publish it! Those requests must have been confidential because he refused to release them!

"The mayor equated some public records requests to asking for a seat at the table."

Um, yes. It's called democracy.

"He scoffed at the notion that anything would get done if he didn't have leeway to work outside the glare of public scrutiny."

In Russia, scrutiny glares you!

"'I have been in an executive position, and - I mean this insulting so get it right - you haven't,' said Emanuel, a former top aide to Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama. 'You have not been in the White House. You have not been in the mayor's office.'"

Wow. Has a more arrogant statement ever come out of City Hall?

It's not a new sentiment, though.

"'They have never worked the legislative process," Emanuel said of critics like the Times columnist Paul Krugman, who argued that Obama's concessions to Senate Republicans - in particular, the tax cuts, which will do little to stimulate the economy - produced a package that wasn't large enough to respond to the magnitude of the recession. 'How many bills has he passed?'"

Only fellow legislators - and now mayors - can critique Rahm. Only they know what it's like. Everybody else, shut up and sit down!

"The Tribune also has long-outstanding requests for similar records on two other major administration revenue initiatives: increases in water rates and the fees paid to renew vehicle stickers. No substantive documents have been forthcoming concerning those matters.

"Near the end of the interview, Emanuel said he would reconsider releasing more records: 'Between what you want and what I've got to do to be able to govern, we will find where we can find a happy middle ground.'"

I wonder how long that will take. The Tribune last wrote about those requests in November. I bet they were already longstanding by then.

"'If it wasn't for the fact that both the police chief and the head of schools came to me and said that we have a problem that is distinct from other cities, I would not have pushed something forward just because I'm looking for another unpopular issue to tackle,' Emanuel said last week.

"That assertion runs against a bare-bones log of speed camera-related e-mail correspondence involving administration officials over the summer and fall. The log, shorn of all content but sender, receiver, subject and date, was also prepared in response to the paper's open records request.

"The log shows that Emanuel staffers swapped hundreds of emails on speed cameras over that time frame, but none of those was sent from or to McCarthy and Brizard - or for that matter Emanuel, himself. Aides to the police and school heads were copied only days before the administration went public with the plan in late October, the log shows.

"One top administration official who shows up repeatedly in the log, going back to the very first e-mail on speed cameras sent on May 31, is city Transportation Commissioner Gabe Klein. He has publicly taken credit for generating the speed camera idea.

"Emanuel, in the interview, said the lack of e-mails doesn't mean the police and schools chiefs weren't responsible, only that he communicated with them by phone. The administration previously has declined a Tribune request to review Emanuel's phone records."

In fact, a cursory review of stories shows Klein as city's leading advocate on the issue - besides Emanuel - not McCarthy or Brizard. There's nothing necessarily wrong with that, but why would Rahm insist otherwise?

"The logs also show lobbyists weighing in on the shape of Emanuel's legislative plan, among them Michael Kasper, an attorney who helped Emanuel last year fend off a residency challenge to his campaign for mayor. In Springfield, Kasper represents the interests of Redflex, the Australian camera vendor that supplies the city's red light equipment and could greatly benefit from the addition of speed cameras."

Ding ding ding ding ding! We have a winner.

"Kasper did not return a telephone message."

That's because he represents Redflex, not us. So he gets a seat at the table.

"The records released to the Tribune raise questions about the accuracy of other administration claims. They included talking points used by Emanuel and surrogates to sell the camera program that highlighted this claim:

"'Chicago has a higher percentage of pedestrian fatalities than other major U.S. and global cities - Chicago's pedestrian fatality rate is 68 percent higher than New York City's.'

"McCarthy repeated that claim while testifying for the mayor's bill at a legislative hearing in Springfield in October.

"The claim is wrong, refuted by the city's own five-year study that shows Chicago with a lower pedestrian fatality rate than New York as well as most other large U.S. cities."

A) But I thought McCarthy - and Brizard - brought the idea to the mayor because they thought Chicago had a particularly unique problem with dangerous intersections.

B) Isn't that perjury?

"Also among the released material was a daylong e-mail string among Emanuel public relations aides concerning the death of 6-year-old Diamond Robinson. The youngster was hit by a car late on Saturday, Oct. 29, as she crossed a South Side street headed to a Halloween party.

"The Tribune reported on the accident on its website the next morning, and soon afterward, Emanuel's then-press secretary, Chris Mather, forwarded it to colleagues. As the e-mail chain grew for hours, Mather and others attached comments that were mostly scrubbed from the copies supplied to the paper."

Like, how can we use this child's death to our advantage?

"Days later at a news conference, Emanuel sought to link Diamond's death to his speed camera push.

"'While we're speaking, Diamond Robinson, who was hit by a car near a school . . . they're actually having her funeral,' Emanuel said. 'That is a reminder of what we're talking about today and the full price and consequences of what we're talking about today.'

"Emanuel's legislation, if it had been in effect, would not have protected Diamond. The accident occurred on a weekend, and the new law restricts use of cameras near schools to weekdays.

"Jeanette Tucker, the girl's great-grandmother, said she backs the idea of speed cameras but realizes they would have done no good for Diamond.

"'The speed cameras wouldn't have helped save Diamond's life,' she said. 'What you need is stop signs and lights.'

"Tucker said she was unaware that Emanuel had invoked her great-grandchild to promote speed cameras, adding that she was interested in learning why Emanuel's aides were so interested in the girl's death when it was so fresh."

The mayor's office didn't even contact the family before invoking their child's name.

"'Yes, I would like to see what they said,' Tucker said. 'Can you tell me how I might do that?'"

No, that's confidential.

See also:
* Emanuel Speed Camera Push Runs Into Facts

* Proof That It's Not About The Children

* Rahm's Fake Transparency

Home Front
Will Mortgage Settlement Avoid Repeating Obama's Foreclosure Failures?

Killinois
Riverdale. Roseland.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Twitterlicious.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:46 AM | Permalink

What The Sun-Times Left Out Of Its Fond Remembrance Of Jeffrey Zaslow

"Jeffrey Zaslow - a former Chicago Sun-Times columnist who went on to sell millions of books with themes of compassion, inspiration and empathy - was killed Friday in a car crash in northern Michigan," the Sun-Times reported over the weekend.

"Mr. Zaslow teamed up with some of the country's most inspirational people to help tell their stories, including U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, Chesley 'Sully' Sullenberger and Randy Pausch, the subject of Zaslow's huge hit The Last Lecture, which has been translated into 48 languages and sold more than five million copies in English.

"He was a columnist at the Wall Street Journal at the time of his death. He was 53."

Zaslow famously - and accidentally - won a contest to replace Ann Landers, resulting in the Sun-Times's "All That Zazz" feature.

"He brought together a group of readers called the Regular Joes who would chime in with advice. He held an annual singles party that drew national attention - and led to many marriages," the paper recalled.

"Mr. Zaslow launched school supply drives in his column. He also raised untold sums for the Sun-Times charity."

Ah, yes, the charity. Here's what the Sun-Times left out of its report.

* On November 26, 1999, Michael Miner reported for the Reader that [T]he Sun-Times's Jeff Zaslow was still unaware two months later that more than 70 grand had disappeared from the proceeds of this year's Zazz Bash.

"The news affairs office of the police department says the money was in one of four bags taken to the Sun-Times after the fund-raiser, which was held in four River North clubs on Friday night, September 17. The following Monday, September 20, the bags were delivered by a United Armored Services truck to the Bank One in the Loop.

"But on September 30 the director of security for the Sun-Times notified police that $72,500 in cash had disappeared. Exactly when and by whom the loss was discovered remains unclear. Large bundles of bills brought to a bank for deposit are sometimes posted to the customer's account before the money is actually counted. The missing funds represent about half the total revenue of the Zazz Bash and almost all the profit, which was to benefit the Sun-Times Charity Trust.

"Patti Dudek, who manages the trust, says she got a check and no one's asking for the money back. The trust received the check for a little more than $77,000 on September 24 - presumably before the Sun-Times realized that the money to cover it wasn't on hand. Apparently the check was made good.

"As for what happened to the missing money, Dudek wouldn't comment. Neither would officials of Bank One or United Armored Services, or Mike Weaver, director of security at the Sun-Times, or corporate attorney Linda Loye, who wouldn't acknowledge that any money had ever disappeared, even though police say it hasn't been found yet.

"There's been no coverage in the Sun-Times."

* On April 6, 2001, Miner wrote that "The Sun-Times has decided not to renew the contract of Jeff Zaslow, who will soon be leaving the paper after 14 years as an advice columnist, matchmaker, and fund-raiser. The reason being given is financial: Zaslow was a high-maintenance employee who required a full-time assistant.

"His bashes netted hundreds of thousands of dollars over the years, but those revenues were earmarked for the Sun-Times Charity Trust rather than the newspaper's bottom line.

"According to figures from past Zaslow columns, his 'Letters to Santa' program last year brought in $1.2 million in gifts from Sun-Times readers and $119,000 in cash toward the purchase of 3,500 coats--all of this benefiting 46,000 kids. Last August's 'Tools for Schools' drive distributed school supplies to 5,500 schoolchildren."

* On March 29, 2007, I wrote this in the Beachwood:

dug these excerpts about the Sun-Times Charity Trust out of the Breeden Report - a devastating portrait of what investigators called a ''corporate kleptocracy."

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"The Trust's Board of Directors meets twice a year to consider grant requests. Grants are awarded only if they meet strict requirements. For example, the Trust will not award grants to organizations aimed at furthering religious doctrines, for scholarships, medical research, benefit dinners, advertisements, or tables at fundraising events. The Trust raises money by hosting large Chicago-area fundraisers.

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"Most donations funded by the Chicago Sun-Times are made by the Chicago Sun-Times Charity Trust, the mission of which is to provide "financial support to arts, cultural and social service programs in the Chicago metropolitan area." In accordance with the Trust's grant application guidelines, grants are typically small, ranging between $1,000 and $5,000.307

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"Donations from this Charity Trust, however, were also vetted by the Radlers. Rona Radler, Radler's wife, was Chairman of the Trust's Board of Directors, whose members have also included the following Hollinger employees who reported directly to Radler: Helen McCarthy, Loye, Kipnis, and Radler's Chicago Sun-Times assistant Patti Dudek, who also serves as President of the Trust. Ms. Radler received approximately $126,000 in director's fees from 1998 through 2003 for her service on the Trust's Board. Radler also appears to have directed donations from the Trust's budget. In an October 3, 2000 memo, Kipnis directed Dudek: '[p]er David Radler's instruction, please have a check in the amount of $25,000 drawn from the Chicago Sun-Times Charity Trust made payable to "Project Excellence" in commemoration of Carl Rowan.'

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"At least on a few occasions, Radler appears to have caused the Chicago Sun-Times to make donations outside the confines of the Trust and its guidelines. Disbursement information from the Chicago Sun-Times shows donations in 2001 for $35,000 and in 2002 for $25,000 to Haifa University, a college in Israel to which Hollinger's New York office and the Jerusalem Post Charitable Fund each also donated $25,000 in 2002. Haifa University bestowed an honorary degree on Radler in May 2002.

According to Tom Rose, former publisher of the Jerusalem Post, the Post operates three large charitable funds and a not-for-profit organization in the United States. The three charitable funds were created more than 70 years ago and are independently chartered. They operate under local laws and filing requirements, and make contributions consistent with the Jerusalem Post's mission or contributors' wishes, or to longstanding recipients.

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"A June 19, 1997 memo from Radler responding to a request that the Sun-Times donate to the United Jewish Appeal states that the Jerusalem Post Charity Funds 'raise and distribute over $500,000 US per year.'

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"According to Rose, Radler regularly recommended charity recipients. As mentioned previously, a section of a trauma recovery unit in the Herzog Hospital in Jerusalem named after the Radlers was, according to Rose, at least partially funded by the Jerusalem Post Charitable Fund. In addition, as also discussed above, the Jerusalem Post Charitable Fund paid approximately $25,000 of Radler's pledge to support a business program scholarship for graduate students at Haifa University.

"Rose sent a memo to Radler in May 2001 expressing concern about donations to Haifa University from the Jerusalem Post Charitable Fund:

'Your suggestion that we pay for the table at the Haifa U. dinner in your honor with monies from the funds might not be such a good idea. I have been advised that authorities are getting more serious about insuring [sic] that non-profit payment guidelines are followed.

'The problem, theoretically at least, is that the funds must be spent in Israel and this organization is not recognized in Israel.'

"Rose reiterated this concern in a 2002 e-mail:

'Avi has arranged to give Yael from Haifa University $50,000 later this week. The two checks from the CST funds arrived in the package you sent last week. And at your instruction we will pay the balance from our own charitable funds; roughly $25,000.

'Are you sure that you are OK with this? As I have indicated this makes me nervous. While I completely agree that you can argue you subsidize Israel to the tune of funding Post losses each year, I think that using funds from donors to our charitable funds sets us up for all kinds of problems.'

"The Special Committee has found no document reflecting that Radler ever responded to these concerns."

* Following that post, Zaslow sent me an e-mail: "Nice piece today. Re: Sun-Times Charity Trust. I do have memories, etc."

In a phone conversation, Zaslow then recalled - in addition to noting that editor-in-chief Michael Cooke yawned while firing him - several odd and mysterious doings between his charity fundraising and the paper's trust. I was never able to advance the reporting and Zaslow wasn't able to find a file in his basement he said was pertinent, but the Breeden Report's findings provide a sufficient picture of how Zaslow's charitable work was treated.

* For his role in running Hollinger International, "Radler was eventually charged with five counts of mail fraud and two counts of wire fraud. On September 20, 2005, Radler pleaded guilty in a Chicago court to one count of mail fraud in relation to the 'non-compete' payments," according to Wikipedia.

"On March 18, 2007, it was reported that Mr. Radler had signed a settlement with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission that will see him pay a penalty of almost US$29 million and prevent him from acting as an officer or director of any public company in the United States. The next day, it was announced that Mr. Radler has settled with the Sun-Times Media Group, agreeing to pay them $64.1 million. The news of the SEC settlement sparked protest from the defense at the Conrad Black trial; the defense claimed that such news would negatively influence the jury.

"Radler started serving his 29-month sentence for fraud on February 25, 2008 by reporting to a Pennsylvania prison. He was turned over to Canadian authorities on September 18, 2008. It is believed that he was being held in a penal facility in British Columbia, although this cannot be confirmed.

"On Dec. 15, 2008, David Radler was granted a full parole and released from the Canadian penal facility in which he was being held. He served only 10 months of a 29-month sentence. He was released on the grounds that he was unlikely to 'commit an offence involving violence' before his sentence expired. The board said it was limited to considering only the matter of physical violence and could not consider the financial devastation caused by his crimes or the many victims of these crimes left in its wake.

"Mr. Radler is now back at work in his office in Vancouver running his business, the Alberta Newspaper Group."

* Michael Cooke is currently the editor of the Toronto Star. He was brought there by his old buddy John Cruickshank, who is the publisher there. Both were longtime loyal Hollinger employees.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:46 AM | Permalink

SportsMonday: It's All About The Man's Back

I've got nothing profound to say about the Bulls at this point. I don't like the Celtics' chances, I know that much, but who knows what to say about the home team at this point other than they are very good but will need to be better to beat the Heat.

They are coming home, there is that, having completed a nine-game road trip with six wins. And they still have the best record in the Eastern Conference despite having played 20 of their first 30 games on the road - more than anyone else in the NBA so far. The Bulls' lead over the Heat is small but real (they are 23-7, while Miami is 21-7).

But it's all about the man's back isn't it?

And Derrick Rose could wake up today and find that those problems have dissipated just like that. Anyone who has ever had back spasms and soreness knows they hurt like the dickens for a while but they come and go seemingly on whim. Until Rose's health clears up we'll take a break from highly specific critical analysis of this squad in this space.

As for the Celtics, first Rajon Rondo drove the lane and kicked out passes to Ray Allen and Paul Pierce for three-pointers that stretched the Celtic lead to double-digits well into the fourth quarter on Sunday afternoon. Then he tossed in a pair of alley-oop passes to JaJuan Johnson and Chris Wilcox to stretch the lead even further. But there were the Bulls a few minutes later, in possession of the ball after another terrible Pierce turnover with a chance to pull even with a three-pointer.

C.J. Watson's long (jump) shot came up short and after a few more free throws were exchanged, the Celtics posted a 95-91 win. But they couldn't have taken too much confidence away from this one. Rondo finished with a ridiculous 32 points, 15 assists and 10 rebounds and yet Boston still barely held on at the end.

And that really covers the rest of the competition in the East other than Miami. No one short off the Heat (yes, Indiana scored a big win over the Bulls a few weeks ago, but that was a fluke) is going to take any confidence into playoff match-ups with the Bulls barring a calamitous outcome for Rose's health. The Bulls still have three more games with their primary rivals this regular season (March 14 and April 12 at home, and April 19 away).

Hawk Tawk
Meanwhile, there is no relief in sight for the Hawks. For some reason their Disney On Ice road trip (both the Bulls and the Hawks hit the road when the figure-skating extravaganza comes to town every year) extends for a week longer than the Bulls, meaning the home team still has three more games in a row on the road.

So the Hawks travel to Nashville to face their nemesis Predators on Tuesday and then take on the Rangers in New York and the Blue Jackets in Columbus later in the week. Their eight-game losing streak has set the team back, of course, but if they can just find a way to right the ship at some point soon, they'll still be in decent position.

In the often topsy-turvy world of NHL playoffs, after all, where top seeds seem to fall in the first round every year, a team just has to make it into the postseason to have a shot at the Cup.

And despite all the losses, as of Sunday evening the Hawks still stood tied for sixth in the Western Conference. They have 65 points, five ahead of ninth-place Calgary and Colorado.

But unlike the Bulls, they don't have the excuse of a star player out with an ailing back.

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Jim "Coach" Coffman welcomes your comments.


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:46 AM | Permalink

Gravity Benders of Zion vs. Chicago Tribe

Yosha, Crumbles and Mario FTW.


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See more at MIBboyTV.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:31 AM | Permalink

The Weekend in Chicago Rock

You shoulda been there.

1. The Color Morale at the Triple Threat Dance Studio in Antioch on Saturday night.


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2. The Shams Band at Subterranean on Saturday night.

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3. Scale The Summit at Reggie's on Friday night.

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4. Trey Songz at the Auditorium Theatre on Saturday night.

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5. The Black Lilies at the Old Town School of Folk Music on Saturday night.

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6. The Darkness at the Metro on Saturday night.

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7. Pegboy at the Flat Iron on Saturday night.

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8. Motorhead at the Aragon on Friday night.

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9. Megadeth at the Aragon on Friday night.

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10. Other Lives at Lincoln Hall on Friday night.

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11. Mayday Parade at Mojoe's in Joliet on Friday night.

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12. Volbeat at the Aragon on Friday night.

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13. Lacuna Coil at the Cobra Lounge on Friday night.

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14. Dead Leaf Echo at the Darkroom on Thursday night.

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Comments welcome.


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:48 AM | Permalink

That Happened: WGN's Chastity Garter Belt

From On The Media, March 4, 2011:

BOB GARFIELD: You invented a product and created a website for it, and it is the most preposterous idea-

MARTIN MOORE: [LAUGHS]

BOB GARFIELD: - ever forward as a consumer good, one that -

MARTIN MOORE: [LAUGHING]

BOB GARFIELD: - no journalist with any sense of skepticism would ever run unchecked.

MARTIN MOORE: [LAUGHS] Chris invented what he called the "chastity garter belt," which a woman would put around her thigh and had built-in technology which would record, by various clever scientific means, like her, her rising pulse rate and, and moisture levels on her leg, whether or not she was about to be unfaithful. And if she was, it would text a message to her partner warning him [BOB LAUGHS], so he could rush back and [LAUGHS] either forestall or catch, catch her before she did [LAUGHS] so -

BOB GARFIELD: And just to reiterate, no news organization, no matter how slipshod, could pick up a press release about this product and run it without checking to see if the thing is real, never, ever, ever.

MALE CORRESPONDENT: Just in time for Valentine's Day, nothing says love like lingerie that sends a text when your lady is about to be unfaithful.

[MUSIC UP AND UNDER]

The chastity garter comes equipped with a hidden microchip that claims to detect a rapidly rising pulse and surface moisture levels on the skin. If these telltale signs of arousal occur, a text is sent to alert the woman's husband or boyfriend. It comes in lace or silk and costs about a hundred dollars.

FEMALE CORRESPONDENT: Boy, couldn't she also be attacked by a lion or something?

MALE CORRESPONDENT: Yeah.

FEMALE CORRESPONDENT: Wouldn't that jump your pulse rate up a little bit?

[OVERTALK]

MALE CORRESPONDENT: Or playing, playing tennis?

[END CLIP]

BOB GARFIELD: Where was that from?

MARTIN MOORE: That was WGN-TV in Chicago.

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See the segment here.

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See also: Churnalism

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:25 AM | Permalink

February 11, 2012

The Weekend Desk Report

Natasha Julius has been detained at the border of motherhood and insanity. The B Team is on the case.

The Mayor, The Lobbyist And The Dead 6-Year-Old Girl
"Mayor Rahm Emanuel has refused for months to release public records that could shed light on his controversial speed camera plan while he persuaded state lawmakers and Gov. Pat Quinn to turn it into law," the Tribune reports.

"Now that the mayor has released a small number of the requested documents, even that incomplete portrait raises new questions about how the plan was developed and sold.

"The records, many of them heavily censored, offer clues into City Hall's misstatements about a pedestrian safety crisis, the role of a well-connected speed camera lobbyist and how the mayor linked the death of a little girl to his campaign for cameras even though the devices wouldn't have saved her."

In other words, Rahm Emanuel has been exposed as a liar who pimped a six-year-old's death in order to fake the real reason why he pushed so hard for speed-camera legislation. Which, of course, was for the money, not the children.

"The mayor, in a spirited interview in his City Hall office last week, said his camera push was 'upfront and public' and will make the streets safer.

"'I think what people want to know and they will judge me on, as you said the taxpayers, am I getting the job done?' Emanuel said. 'They will hold me accountable, and their job is to see what I am doing on a day-to-day basis and to see if I am doing what I pledged to do . . . I am making government information available. I am making sure people have access to it. I am bringing back a level of trust.'"

I am making heavily redacted government information available after vigorously fighting off requests under the law to do just that! I am bringing back a level of trust by releasing against my will information that shows how duplicitous I am!

"During the 90-minute interview, Emanuel repeatedly accused the newspaper of downplaying the safety benefits of cameras by ignoring a city study that he said shows red light cameras have reduced nearby fatalities by 60 percent.

"'I've had people call you with it, and you refuse to publish it,' he said.

"'If the report is wrong you should go analyze that report,' Emanuel said.

"But his press secretary later said the report could not be provided to the newspaper because key portions were 'confidential.'"

Just like Rahm's requests that the Tribune publish it! Those requests must have been confidential because he refused to release them!

"The mayor equated some public records requests to asking for a seat at the table."

Um, yes. It's called democracy.

"He scoffed at the notion that anything would get done if he didn't have leeway to work outside the glare of public scrutiny."

In Russia, scrutiny glares you!

"'I have been in an executive position, and - I mean this insulting so get it right - you haven't,' said Emanuel, a former top aide to Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama. 'You have not been in the White House. You have not been in the mayor's office.'"

Wow. Has a more arrogant statement ever come out of City Hall?

It's not a new sentiment, though.

"'They have never worked the legislative process," Emanuel said of critics like the Times columnist Paul Krugman, who argued that Obama's concessions to Senate Republicans - in particular, the tax cuts, which will do little to stimulate the economy - produced a package that wasn't large enough to respond to the magnitude of the recession. 'How many bills has he passed?'"

Only fellow legislators - and now mayors - can critique Rahm. Only they know what it's like. Everybody else, shut up and sit down!

"The Tribune also has long-outstanding requests for similar records on two other major administration revenue initiatives: increases in water rates and the fees paid to renew vehicle stickers. No substantive documents have been forthcoming concerning those matters.

"Near the end of the interview, Emanuel said he would reconsider releasing more records: 'Between what you want and what I've got to do to be able to govern, we will find where we can find a happy middle ground.'"

I wonder how long that will take. The Tribune last wrote about those requests in November. I bet they were already longstanding by then.

"'If it wasn't for the fact that both the police chief and the head of schools came to me and said that we have a problem that is distinct from other cities, I would not have pushed something forward just because I'm looking for another unpopular issue to tackle,' Emanuel said last week.

"That assertion runs against a bare-bones log of speed camera-related e-mail correspondence involving administration officials over the summer and fall. The log, shorn of all content but sender, receiver, subject and date, was also prepared in response to the paper's open records request.

"The log shows that Emanuel staffers swapped hundreds of emails on speed cameras over that time frame, but none of those was sent from or to McCarthy and Brizard - or for that matter Emanuel, himself. Aides to the police and school heads were copied only days before the administration went public with the plan in late October, the log shows.

"One top administration official who shows up repeatedly in the log, going back to the very first e-mail on speed cameras sent on May 31, is city Transportation Commissioner Gabe Klein. He has publicly taken credit for generating the speed camera idea.

"Emanuel, in the interview, said the lack of e-mails doesn't mean the police and schools chiefs weren't responsible, only that he communicated with them by phone. The administration previously has declined a Tribune request to review Emanuel's phone records."

In fact, a cursory review of stories shows Klein as city's leading advocate on the issue - besides Emanuel - not McCarthy or Brizard. There's nothing necessarily wrong with that, but why would Rahm insist otherwise?

"The logs also show lobbyists weighing in on the shape of Emanuel's legislative plan, among them Michael Kasper, an attorney who helped Emanuel last year fend off a residency challenge to his campaign for mayor. In Springfield, Kasper represents the interests of Redflex, the Australian camera vendor that supplies the city's red light equipment and could greatly benefit from the addition of speed cameras."

Ding ding ding ding ding! We have a winner.

"Kasper did not return a telephone message."

That's because he represents Redflex, not us. So he gets a seat at the table.

"The records released to the Tribune raise questions about the accuracy of other administration claims. They included talking points used by Emanuel and surrogates to sell the camera program that highlighted this claim:

"'Chicago has a higher percentage of pedestrian fatalities than other major U.S. and global cities - Chicago's pedestrian fatality rate is 68 percent higher than New York City's.'

"McCarthy repeated that claim while testifying for the mayor's bill at a legislative hearing in Springfield in October.

"The claim is wrong, refuted by the city's own five-year study that shows Chicago with a lower pedestrian fatality rate than New York as well as most other large U.S. cities."

A) But I thought McCarthy - and Brizard - brought the idea to the mayor because they thought Chicago had a particularly unique problem with dangerous intersections.

B) Isn't that perjury?

"Also among the released material was a daylong e-mail string among Emanuel public relations aides concerning the death of 6-year-old Diamond Robinson. The youngster was hit by a car late on Saturday, Oct. 29, as she crossed a South Side street headed to a Halloween party.

"The Tribune reported on the accident on its website the next morning, and soon afterward, Emanuel's then-press secretary, Chris Mather, forwarded it to colleagues. As the e-mail chain grew for hours, Mather and others attached comments that were mostly scrubbed from the copies supplied to the paper."

Like, how can we use this child's death to our advantage?

"Days later at a news conference, Emanuel sought to link Diamond's death to his speed camera push.

"'While we're speaking, Diamond Robinson, who was hit by a car near a school . . . they're actually having her funeral,' Emanuel said. 'That is a reminder of what we're talking about today and the full price and consequences of what we're talking about today.'

"Emanuel's legislation, if it had been in effect, would not have protected Diamond. The accident occurred on a weekend, and the new law restricts use of cameras near schools to weekdays.

"Jeanette Tucker, the girl's great-grandmother, said she backs the idea of speed cameras but realizes they would have done no good for Diamond.

"'The speed cameras wouldn't have helped save Diamond's life,' she said. 'What you need is stop signs and lights.'

"Tucker said she was unaware that Emanuel had invoked her great-grandchild to promote speed cameras, adding that she was interested in learning why Emanuel's aides were so interested in the girl's death when it was so fresh."

The mayor's office didn't even contact the family before invoking their child's name.

"'Yes, I would like to see what they said,' Tucker said. 'Can you tell me how I might do that?'"

No, that's confidential.

See also:
* Emanuel Speed Camera Push Runs Into Facts

* Proof That It's Not About The Children

* Rahm's Fake Transparency

Home Front
Will Mortgage Settlement Avoid Repeating Obama's Foreclosure Failures?

Killinois
Riverdale. Roseland.

A Super Bowl Housecleaning
Tales from the front.

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The Weekend Desk Tip Line: Safety first!

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The Sound Opinions Weekend Report: "Love is in the air! Tune in for our Valentine's Day celebration and go back to those thrilling, terrifying feelings of First Love. Plus, much-hyped pop singer Lana Del Rey has made it to #2. But what about the music?"

The CAN TV Weekend Report: CAN TV brings you local, relevant issues from Chicago's neighborhoods and communities. See what's happening around the city in education, the arts, government, cultural events, social services and community activities.

Windy City Queer

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Author Emma Vosicky reads from the anthology Windy City Queer: LGBTQ Dispatches From the Third Coast, a celebration of queer life in Chicago.

Sunday, February 12 at 9 a.m. on CAN TV21
45 min

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Aging with Pride: Health Issues Facing LGBT Older Adults

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Dr. Magda Houldberg and Cecilia Hardacker from the Howard Brown Health Center explore the healthcare disparities and barriers to care faced by LGBT older adults.

Sunday, February 12 at 10 a.m. on CAN TV21
2 hr

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The Midwest Green Economy: Past, Present, and Future

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A panel of experts discusses the potential for green business and job growth in Chicago and the region.

Sunday, February 12 at 12 p.m. on CAN TV21
1 hr 30 min

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:46 AM | Permalink

Killinois

Tags: Chicago Harvey World Roseland 40Cal Riverdale Mal Montana Dead or in Jail Loyalty Wild100z


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New mixtape: Dead Or In Jail

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 1:44 AM | Permalink

Will Mortgage Settlement Avoid Repeating Obama's Foreclosure Failures?

On Thursday, administration officials stood alongside state attorneys general to announce a $25 billion mortgage settlement. It was reminiscent of a big announcement by administration officials three Februarys ago involving an even bigger number: $50 billion. That money was supposed to go to the administration's signature mortgage modification program, which eventually became HAMP.

Three years later, HAMP (the Home Affordable Modification Program) is widely considered a failure. That failure provides key context to yesterday's announcement.

According to the state attorneys general and the administration, a major selling point of the new settlement is that it won't repeat HAMP's mistakes. This deal, they say, is different.

"If people are eligible for a loan modification, the banks won't screw up those decisions anymore," said Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller.

North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper made a rather pointed reference to HAMP: "I think strong, court-ordered enforcement with teeth distinguish this deal from those earlier efforts to help homeowners."

As we've reported extensively over the past several years, homeowners seeking to avoid foreclosure by gaining a loan modification have often been frustrated by banks' errors and delays. In the worst cases, the banks' shoddy mortgage servicing has led to wrongful foreclosures. The errors have sometimes continued even after homeowners got an elusive modification.

When HAMP was launched, it came with the promise that mortgage servicers would have to abide by clear rules. The handbook laying out these rules now approaches 200 pages. But as we've detailed, enforcement of those rules has been lacking.

According to the state attorneys general, the settlement directly addresses that. The five big servicers - Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo, Citigroup and Ally Financial (formerly GMAC) - that will sign on to the not-quite-finalized deal have agreed to follow a raft of new rules. Some of these rules, like how quickly a bank must respond to a homeowner's completed modification application, come straight from HAMP.

What's different this time, they say, is that there are clear consequences for rule-breaking. But plenty of questions remain, and only time will tell if the latest promises of mortgage-servicer accountability will be kept.

"The big picture is that these new rules are only good if servicers follow them," said Alys Cohen of the National Consumer Law Center. "Enforcement will really matter."

As critics like Firedoglake blogger David Dayen have pointed out, the new system relies to some extent on "self-assessments" by the banks to identify violations of the new rules. But Miller, the Iowa attorney general, notes that consumers will be able to complain to their state's attorney general, who will make sure their complaints are heard.

The settlement does create a "monitor" who will have the power to impose penalties. The administration says a bank could be fined up to $1 million per violation and up to $5 million for repeat violations. But the details released so far don't show how violations will be applied or counted. (If thousands of homeowners, for instance, have been wrongly denied modifications, will that be counted as one violation or thousands?)

HAMP came with no penalties for participating mortgage servicers that broke the rules. It was only in the past several months that the Treasury Department decided to address servicer noncompliance - by temporarily withholding the program's subsidy payments. (As for the millions of dollars in incentives that Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase and the other servicers were paid over the previous years, they get to keep that.)

The settlement is not only supposed to have more sticks than HAMP, it's also a chance for the administration to breathe life back into the old program. Treasury recently made major revisions to HAMP to allow more homeowners to qualify for modifications.

"The extension and expansion of HAMP are designed to be complementary to the settlement," said Treasury spokeswoman Andrea Risotto.

For instance, the program was set to end at the end of 2012 but now will accept new homeowners until the end of 2013. (The banks will operate under the umbrella of the settlement through 2014 or so.) In addition, Treasury has broadened some of the criteria to make it easier to qualify.

Some of the millions of homeowners who were rejected might be eligible for a second shot. Hundreds of thousands of homeowners were originally granted "trial modifications" through the program in 2009 and early 2010, only to be denied permanent modifications many months (and sometimes more than a year) later. Most of those homeowners started those trials by just giving their income information over the phone. They'll be eligible to reapply, according to the proposed rules.

One of the recent changes to HAMP could reduce the cost of the settlement for banks 2014 and leave taxpayers footing a chunk of the bill.

As part of yesterday's deal, the five banks agreed to reduce billions in mortgage debt for homeowners in danger of foreclosure. Most of those principal reductions - about 85 percent according to Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan - will likely be for loans that the banks hold on their own books.

HAMP also has long offered investors incentives to encourage principal reductions. For loans owned by banks, the money goes right to them. In January, Treasury tripled those incentives. In cases in which a loan qualifies for HAMP, the government will now pay investors, often the banks themselves, up to roughly two-thirds the cost of a principal reduction.

The banks have agreed to perform at least $10 billion worth of principal reductions as part of the settlement. Because it's unclear how many of the principal reduction modifications will be done through HAMP, it's impossible to say how much of that will be covered by the government subsidies.

So far, about 40,000 HAMP modifications have been done through HAMP's principal reduction program at a median reduction of $67,196, meaning that roughly $2.7 billion in principal has been reduced. If the banks find HAMP more attractive because of the increased incentives, that amount might increase sharply, and HAMP could experience something of a renaissance.

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Previously: Why Millions Won't Get Help From Obama's Big Mortgage Settlement.

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See also:
* Tribune editorial: Help For A Lucky Few.
* Rolling Stone: Why The Foreclosure Deal May Not Be So Hot After All.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:57 AM | Permalink

February 10, 2012

Super Bowl Housecleaning

* The coin on the toss hit a Giants player on the foot. Is that legal?

* Kelly Clarkson wore a little black dress and did not bare her midriff. But in doing the due diligence I should have done before placing that prop bet, I learned she doesn't really have the tummy for it. Her rendition of the anthem was less than two seconds past the over. I had the under. And did we need all that twang on "God Bless America?" How about giving the great Glen Campbell a chance at it?

* When Victor Cruz scored the first touchdown, I was already profitable for the day.

* The Super Bowl was a lousy game. More an award for the least worst team. But don't blame the Giants for exploiting it.

* Aaron Hernandez's drop on second down was at least as bad as Welker's non-catch. And why did Welker get all the heat when Brady's throw was heinous?

* I now know why I never watch Sunday night football on NBC. Al Michaels was half asleep and Collinsworth is a smarmy buffoon. But that's not news.

* Contrary to popular opinion, you always take the points. Cats stalk, dogs fetch, and football players march to the goal line. And football players on defense try to tackle them.

* One of the props was whether Madonna would use a headset microphone or a handheld. She used both.

* At 9-4, Eli Manning as the MVP of the game was a profitable no-brainer.

* The dreamer in me thought for a moment that Jason Pierre-Paul might have been on his way to the MVP award. Then New England adjusted.

* Here's a new game I just invented: Where's Wilfork?

* A great pass rush is a very good thing. But the other guys fearing you have a great pass rush is just as good.

* Considering the time Brady had to throw on many plays, he really stunk. Or was it the Giants' DBs who shined?

* Perhaps the Giants' MVP should have been Bill Belichick. What a malaise he had going on there. Could he be on the way to Marv Levy-land?

* Did you know Dan Reeves was the first coach to lose four Super Bowls? I remember when he played. Good player.

* Great to see all the warm and fuzzy New York Football Giants make their salary demands before they even had the confetti swept up from Broadway.

* Ever been to a New York ticker tape parade? Pretty cool.

* Do not deny that Tom Brady is prettier than Giselle Bundchen. She'll kick your ass. Brady? Not so much.

* I had the under (3.5) on how many times they would show Peyton Manning during the game. He was hiding somewhere, not wanting to steal any spotlight from Eli's special day. Pretty classy.

* Halfway through the game, I remembered that I was supposed to pay attention to the commercials. And it's kind of telling that Betty White was one of the few to deliver.

* I thought Madonna did a great job. Greater: How quickly they assembled and disassembled that stage.

* Clint Eastwood's message was good, but I'd rather see him hold a .44 Magnum to a few foreheads in Washington and dare them to get their heads out of their asses.

* Why don't the Rush Limbaughs and Karl "With a K" Roves of this world understand how great America is when it allows people like them to exist?

* I did, but did you get the feeling that despite the score at the half, the Patriots were in no way going to win the game? It hit home when I saw Brady sitting on the bench during a long New York possession. He really didn't look into it.

* Did you hear the one where Belichick told his defense to make Manningham beat them?

* Why did Barney throw a tomato at Otis Campbell? Why don't the Bears have even one receiver?

* I was thinking that if the Packers had not coasted down the stretch, they would have won that game by two touchdowns and a field goal. FYI, they're still going to be in the not-even-close Bears' division next season.

* Let Mark Potash dream and the youngster Sean Jensen continue to kiss butt all you want. They're playing right into the hands of wiseguys like me. I wub doze Bearsss.

* Don't you love the low-key way Eli Manning seemed so satisfied with the win? What a pro. Comes with expecting to win instead of hoping to just make the playoffs.

* I wonder how many of the Bears even watched the Super Bowl and how many of them were stewing about not being there.

* They must be coached that way, but the Patriots kicked and clawed even after the plays were over. It paid off against Baltimore. But the Giants kept their composure.

* Three-coach monty: Bill Belichick, Lovie Smith or Tom Coughlin. Remember: never go for the middle one.

* I'm already down on Philly (12-1), Green Bay (6-1, favorite), Detroit (18-1), Houston (12-1) and San Francisco (16-1) to win it all next year. Bears are 25-1, but I wouldn't take them at any price lower than 250-1.

* Listen up, Goodell. Without being able to "play" the Super Bowl, I wouldn't have even watched it.

* Hawthorne's spring meet opens next Friday.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 4:59 PM | Permalink

The [Friday] Papers

Like a Supreme Court justice nominee who pretends he or she has never formed an opinion about Roe v. Wade, Transparency Mayor Rahm Emanuel is pretending he has no opinion worth sharing about this week's city sticker controversy.

"That was yesterday," he said. "My job is to focus on what is essential to the city."

Where do these creatures come from? The Chicago River? A secret lab?

You are the mayor. You brag about making tough choices. You scream at teachers. You crack down on protesters. Can you just tell us what you think about the city sticker? Because the rest of us are confused.

Did you have a conversation with City Clerk Susana Mendoza? Did you discuss the issue with your advisers? Did you talk to your police chief? Did you commission a poll to see if you should comment?

What's in your heart, Rahm? The medical evidence suggests you have one, no matter how cold and dark.

Would it really have been that hard to say, oh, something like this:

"You know, it's a tough call. It's hard to tell if those are gang symbols or we're only seeing that after having the idea implanted in our minds. It's hard to know what's up with the kid - his Facebook postings didn't help but his tears sure seemed real. So Clerk Mendoza had a tough choice to make. She didn't consult with me, but it makes a certain amount of sense that if this is the way the public is going to perceive the sticker, it can't be used."

But that was yesterday. And Rahm likes to control the message - every day.

(The Chicago's News Cooperative's Jim Warren recently illuminated a slice of how that works; when reporters weren't broaching the subject of a longer school day, which the mayor wanted to discuss, "An aide suggested to some attendees that Emanuel would be amenable to an inquiry on the topic." It would have been nice if reporters said, No thanks, we have some other questions we'd like to ask.)

For years - for the whole of my career, really - I've expressed my exasperation at how a compliant media allows its behavior to be shaped by political messaging strategies more sophisticated than the strategies journalists use to hold public officials (and others with power) accountable.

In this case, having failed at the front, I would suggest attacking from the back. The mayor's refusal to address the city sticker controversy is a blaring, top of page one headline in my book. So is a running tally of such topics and instances.

And on Thursday, we got a two-fer.

As the Tribune reports, Rahm also refused to discuss the city's whopping $6.2 million settlement with anti-war protesters. That kind of money could keep the city's libraries open 24/7.

The settlement is just the latest instance of taxpayers having to pony up for the misdeeds of the Chicago Police Department. (You may have missed this one earlier this month.)

But that was "yesterday."

Sticker Bicker
There are still a lot of unanswered questions about the sticker flap. For example, there seems to be some question as to whether there were 10 police officers on the committee that chose the winner. None of the 10 apparently saw gang signs.

Also, apparently Mendoza didn't talk to the student artist, his family or his art teacher (who says she gave him a book to use as a guide for the drawing's hands) before making her decision to pull the sticker. She did, however, consult with former police chief Jody Weis. Did she consult with the current police chief?

And, why couldn't the design simply be altered? The hands look weird anyway. Why not just show regular outstretched hands and fingers?

Sticker Ticker
From the Beachwood Twitter feed:

CPS announces it will remove forks from school lunchrooms because they are gang symbols.

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Rahm upset at new city sticker because it shows a teacher as one of Chicago's Heroes.

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New proposal: Different city stickers according to gang boundaries.

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City agrees to let ThyssenKrupps sponsor city sticker. Oops!

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More trouble: MLDs bought a stretch of highway to clean.

True Blue Blues
When I read the Tribune's "Home State Remains True Blue For Obama" yesterday it wasn't hard to spot the fallacy behind the paper's interpretation of its latest poll.

"Outside the Chicago metropolitan area, 56 percent of voters disapprove of Obama's job performance," the Tribune noted about halfway in. Ouch.

Rich Miller expounds on that nettlesome finding today on his Capitol Fax Blog:

"The Tribune's latest poll shows President Obama, who split the Downstate vote with John McCain in 2008, is in bad shape in the region," Miller writes.

The fact that Obama split Downstate with McCain only reinforces the notion that states aren't blue or red; each is mixed almost equally and often along geographical lines.

A more accurate reading of the poll is that Chicago remains true blue for Obama, while the rest of the state doesn't. But that should be enough for the president to carry the state in the fall.

Settlement For Suckers
Another instance of the the tenor of a headline not matching reality.

Market Opportunity
Wait a minute. BBQ-infused clothes? Sounds like a winner to me.

Eat The Rich
Because John Rowe is the best deliverer of electricity to your home ever!

Governor Gumby
More reckless spending on daydreams.

When Walter Payton Danced On Soul Train
Just like Rerun!

Big Fat 49 . . .
. . . To Strawberry Town.

From Bread To Shred
Chicago's secret BMX facility.

Next: The Ghost Of Some Chick . . .
. . . Who Knew Al Capone.

The Week In Chicago Rock
Briefly.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Halftime.

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ADVERTISEMENT

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Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:05 AM | Permalink

Why Millions Won't Get Help From Obama's Big Mortgage Settlement

The Obama administration is billing Thursday's $25 billion agreement between most states and five banks that engaged in flawed or deceptive practices as a big win for struggling homeowners.

Most of the money in the settlement isn't a penalty, or a fine levied on the banks. Instead, the biggest slice of the settlement will be money banks put toward principal reduction - reducing the amount owed by struggling or underwater borrowers. (Banks will also put smaller amounts toward refinancing and other ways of helping people get back in control of spiraling debt.)

Getting a break on their mortgages could help the millions of homeowners who owe more on their home than it is worth. But many of them won't qualify - thanks to government-owned Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

The two mortgage companies, who were bailed out by the government in 2008, were described by former Obama economic advisor Jared Bernstein as "the boulder" in the way of principal reduction. Their federal regulator, the Federal Housing Finance Agency, is tasked with maximizing profits from the companies - and thus minimizing taxpayer losses. The head of the agency, Edward DeMarco, argues that allowing principal reductions would result in a big loss for Fannie and Freddie and ultimately taxpayers.

The two companies aren't directly part of the settlement. They don't service mortgages, or deal directly with borrowers. But Fannie and Freddie do guarantee or own roughly half of the mortgages in the U.S. They also hold more than 3 million of the nation's nearly 11 million underwater mortgages. Since Fannie and Freddie are backing the loans - and are the ones who will take a loss if the mortgage isn't paid back in full - they often have a veto on whether homeowners get a break.

Even if Bank of America, for example, services your mortgage, you would not be eligible for principal reduction if Freddie or Fannie back it.

Principal reduction is being pushed heavily by the Obama administration as a way to lower the rate of foreclosures. The administration recently tried to encourage Fannie and Freddie by offering to triple incentives for principal reduction. So far, the companies and their federal overseer, DeMarco, have declined to do so. An FHFA spokesperson said that the agency is "not a party to the agreement. We await a copy of the agreement to determine its implications."

Lowering the amount of money owed on a loan would result in at least short-term losses for Fannie and Freddie, as well as to any other investors in mortgages that are reduced. But many economists and analysts argue that Fannie and Freddie would ultimately benefit since such moves could help restore the health of the housing market as a whole.

The reluctance by Fannie, Freddie and others to take on principal reduction is partly why the administration's mortgage modification programs have been so ineffective.

The settlement does have potential benefits for future borrowers, including new protections and disclosures to prevent what Attorney General Eric Holder called "abusive practices" by the mortgage industry.

A small portion of the overall settlement - about $5 billion - will amount to penalties for past abuses by the banks. Some of it will go to state governments that were afflicted by banks' shoddy practices, and some of it will go directly to about 750,000 homeowners who were foreclosed upon. If you lost your home, you could get up to $2,000.

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See also: Top 12 Reasons Why You Should Hate The Mortgage Settlement

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Comments welcome.


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:35 AM | Permalink

From Bread To Shred

"Brian Kachinsky has converted an old Chicago bakery into one of the biggest, baddest private BMX facilities in the country. After 90 years, Corey Martinez and Seth Kimbrough bring the place from bread to shred, but where this secret sweet spot is, they'll never tell."


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More:

* Brian Kachinsky

* Corey Martinez

* Seth Kimbrough

* Network A

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:17 AM | Permalink

Next: The Ghost Of Some Chick Who Knew Al Capone

"Commercial for the next episode of Paranormal Generation. The team travels to Big Al Capone's in Pipe, WI, to investigate one of Chicago crime boss's former haunts; and to look for Becky, the resident specter. And Matt has an experience in the old basement."

But then, what man hasn't?


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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:58 AM | Permalink

Chicagoetry: Big Fat 49 To Strawberry Town

Big Fat 49 to Strawberry Town
For Nello Ferrara (1919-2012), Chicago Candy Giant

I spilled out into the black breeze
like a leopard in jeopardy.

Electric light ahead on Hirsch
beckoned a bejangled, fat
49er, the southbound CTA Western 49.
I could just about see it shine.
49 to the Blue Line,
big blue lime.

My objective was Strawberrytown.
There's a candy factory there

and the black breeze
smells often of strawberries.
I wanted to catch that bus.

Things were lookin' good
but then I got a little cute.
This is a hazard,
like a blizzard of buzzards.

I melted into my calloused paws
but I sprung too late. I blew the call.
O dammit all!

My fresh, white whale--
white flesh for a water leopard--
blew right past me, man.

It was remarkable strategic failure.

The night hawk/horizontal sheath
of the grid, tinged

with the diesel of Western Avenue
enveloped me completely.
My eyes were sculpted into shivs.

But then I rallied.

I imagined a beacon of bells
and then indeed did bells beckon.
The shadows simmered with imagined hells
then I pretended I heard a deacon of bells.

Again: it was a remarkable strategic failure
but the objective remained

Strawberryland!

Due to the candy factory there,
with its monumental neon sign
like a Sphinx in the dusk

the black breeze smells
often of strawberries.

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J.J. Tindall is the Beachwood's poet-in-residence. He welcomes your comments. Chicagoetry is an exclusive Beachwood collection-in-progress.

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More Tindall:

* Chicagoetry: The Book

* Ready To Rock: The Music

* Kindled Tindall: The Novel

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:06 AM | Permalink

When Walter Payton Danced On Soul Train

It happened. From Jeff Pearlman's Sweetness: The Enigmatic Life of Walter Payton:

"If [Mary 'Bullet' Jones] was Jackson State's Ginger Rogers, its Fred Astaire was Walter Payton. Throughout a freshman year noteworthy for gridiron excellence, Payton generated equally rave reviews for his improvisational dance talents. Wherever one looked, he could find Walter dancing. Inside classrooms. Within the corridors of Sampson Hall. Standing in line for lunch. On the bus rides to away games. 'He danced just like Rerun from What's Happening!!' said Jackie Slater, an offensive lineman who went on to a twenty-year NFL career. 'The moves were crazy and wild and extremely athletic.'

"'There was a porch in front of our field house, and as we were getting ready to play the football games Walter would stand there and dance, dance, dance, dance,' said Porter Taylor, a quarterback. 'Coach Hill would walk by, take a look at Walter moving all around and say, 'OK, we're ready.'"

*

"Yet unbeknownst to the Tigers coach, the sly back wasn't merely pondering pigskin. Like nearly all Jackson State students, Walter was a rabid fan of 24 Karat Black Gold, a half-hour television program that aired every Saturday morning on Jackson's NBC affiliate, channel 3.

"The program's concept was simple and in the age of American Bandstand and Soul Train, unoriginal: Invite a large number of local black high school and college students to a television studio and have them dance to the latest hits. 'That was it,' said Lee King, 24 Karat Black Gold's creator and one-time radio engineer for James Brown. 'Our show was eighty percent dancing, and the other twenty percent was videos and appearances by regional and national artists. It worked so well because it was an outlet for African-Americans in Mississippi. Their ambitions were at a low level because they didn't have a lot of recreational things to do in the area. So when our show came out, it was their Bandstand.'

"Without telling Hill (who would have certainly objected), on a Tuesday evening in early September 1972, Walter and a couple of friends drove to the WLBT studio on South Jefferson Street, where auditions were being held for the new season. The line stretched down the block and around the corner - hundreds of young blacks in search of stardom. 'We had to introduce ourselves, say what college we attended, what our major was,' said Jones. "Then we formed a Soul Train line and danced. If we were good, they invited us back the following week. There was no salary, but we didn't care. It wasn't about that.'

"'I was from Augusta, Georgia, so I had no idea who Walter was,' said King. 'But he auditioned with this freestyle dance that was crazy and different. He had a great way of carrying himself, too. He radiated something unique.'

"The tapings took place on the first Monday of every month - four episodes shot in one exhausting evening. Though he often walked onto the dance floor straight from football practice, muscles aching and knees throbbing, as soon as the TV cameras rolled and the sounds of Earth, Wind & Fire or the Jackson 5 blared across the room, Walter came to life. His wardrobe was, even for the times, outrageous - bright purple cutoff shirts, baggy velvet pants, tight jeans, some sort of fedora-esque hat. The popular dance style of the time was called 'Pop 'n' Lock,' a precursor to break dancing that incorporated fluid and wavy isolated movements with tight robotic illusions. His go-to move was the Centipede, slinking to the floor and moving his body in wavelike motions. 'Oh he was an excellent dancer,' said Jones. 'Walter used to inject a lot of the techniques they did in football . . . some of the calisthenics and exercises. He was really flexible with his body; more so than the rest of us.'

"Because the Tiger football program was still finding itself, Payton the running back had yet to establish himself as a household name in Jackson. Payton the dancer, on the other hand, was huge. 'The show aired every week, so people became familiar with us,' said Jones. 'Throughout the fall and spring, we turned into celebrities. Kids would yell out when we drove by and people would stop and ask about the dances. It was thrilling.'"

*

"Midway through the academic year, King announced that 24 Karat Black Gold was affiliating itself with the first-ever Soul Train National Championship Dance-Off. Throughout the country, each state would host its own competition, with the winning couples flying to Los Angeles to appear on Soul Train and vie for the title of America's Best Dancers. At the time, Payton and Jones were teamed on Black Gold with fairly mediocre partners. 'So Walter came up to me one day and said, How about entering the Soul Train contest together?' Jones said. 'I really think we can win this thing if we team up.' For the next two weeks the two met in a second-floor room of Jackson State's student union building and danced until their toes blistered. 'We had forty-fives and LPs, and we practiced for endless hours,' Jones said. 'We expected to win.'

"The first round of the competition was held at the College Park Auditorium on Lynch Street. Hundreds of couples took to the floor as the judges cruised the room, tapping out those who didn't make the cut. Along with forty-nine other couples, Walter and Mary survived the first week, then lasted again as the total was reduced to twenty-five, and then again to a mere ten. The championship round was held on a Sunday, ten couples dancing for the right to appear on one of black America's most popular television programs. 'I'd never left Mississippi in my life,' said Jones. 'I'd never even been on an airplane. So the possibility was breathtaking.'

"The ten couples were pared down to five, then three. Walter gazed at Mary. Mary gazed at Walter. They locked eyes, knowing to ignore the judges and just move. Finally, the music stopped. The couple looked around, and nobody was left. 'I was overcome with joy, and so was Walter,' said Jones. 'To be chosen to represent the entire state of Mississippi! What an honor!'

"By the time Walter and Mary flew to Los Angeles, it was the summer of 1973. The local radio station, WOKJ, presented both students with plane tickets and five hundred dollars in spending money. ('Five hundred dollars!' laughs Jones. 'I couldn't believe it.') They stayed at the Hyatt in Los Angeles, and were given tours of Hollywood and Beverly Hills. Upon arriving at Soul Train's studio, they met Don Cornelius, the famed deep-voiced host and producer.

"The show was taped the night after they arrived. Couples from across the nation danced away, until fifty were whittled down to thirty, and thirty were whittled down to fifteen, and fifteen were whittled down to two. The victors would be gifted two brand-new olive green Dodge Chargers - 'and we really wanted those cars,' Jones said.

"Walter wore jeans with wide legs, a cutoff shirt that revealed his muscular stomach, and Gene Simmons-esque platform heels. Atop his head was an apple cap, a style staple for black men in the ealry 1970s. He and Mary danced as well as they ever had. So, unfortunately, did the couple from Louisiana. 'Mississippi and Louisiana were the last two standing,' Jones said. 'They were just a little bit better than we were.'

"Walter and Mary left empty-handed.

"'But the story of dancing with Walter,' said Mary, 'has lasted me a lifetime.'"

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:19 AM | Permalink

The Week in Chicago Rock

You shoulda been there.

1. Dierks Bentley at Joe's Bar on Thursday night.


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2. Rusty Chains at the Darkroom on Wednesday night.

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3. Still Alive at practice on Thursday night.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:03 AM | Permalink

February 9, 2012

The [Thursday] Papers

"Hearings won't be held in the Southland on the closing of the Tinley Park Mental Health Center," Phil Kadner writes for the SouthtownStar.

"Last October, hundreds of people packed a banquet room at Georgios Comfort Inn in Orland Hills for a legislative hearing on the closing of the mental hospital.

"Former patients, their relatives, mental health experts from Will County and local hospital officials were among those who opposed Gov. Pat Quinn's plan to close Tinley Park Mental Health Center.

"And the closing was postponed.

"But the governor has now set a July 1 shutdown date for the hospital, and the same legislative panel, the Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability, is again holding mandated public hearings.

"But this time the hearings are being held in Springfield. That pretty much assured that interested Southland residents couldn't testify."

Pat Quinn is a Democrat.

*

"When I challenged state officials about the proposal to close Tinley Park Mental Health Center during a SouthtownStar editorial board meeting, it became clear that they knew mental health patients weren't going to be getting better care [elsewhere, as claimed].

"The state has to cut its budget because it is billions of dollars in the red. The Tinley Park center is a casualty of that process."

Gay Bill
"A year after Gov. Pat Quinn signed legislation creating civil unions, four House members introduced a bill Wednesday to allow gays to marry in Illinois," the Springfield State Journal-Register reports.

It's a good thing Barack Obama isn't still in the legislature because he opposes gay marriage.

*

"Mr. Obama has said in the past that he opposes same-sex marriage on religious grounds; as a Christian, he has said, he views marriage as the union of a man and a woman," the New York Times and others have reported.

*

"I do not support gay marriage," he wrote once in a candidate questionnaire. "Marriage has religious and social connotations, and I consider marriage to be between a man and a woman."

*

"'I'm a Christian,' Obama said in a WBBM-AM 780 interview in September 2004," Eric Zorn noted last July. 'And so, although I try not to have my religious beliefs dominate or determine my political views on this issue, I do believe that tradition, and my religious beliefs, say that marriage is something sanctified between a man and a woman.' In August 2008, when he was running for president, he added to this sentiment: 'God's in the mix.'"

*

Does he try not to have his religious beliefs determine his political views on this - or any - issue?

"At Prayer Breakfast, Obama Says Christian Faith Guides His Policies," the Washington Post reported last week.

Sticker Shock
"As controversy swirled, Chicago City Clerk Susana Mendoza weighed concerns from some quarters that gang signs adorned the new city sticker against the feelings of a 15-year-old boy who said winning the contest to design the decal was the best thing that ever happened to him," the Tribune reports.

"In the end, perception trumped emotion.

"On Wednesday, Mendoza yanked the teen's version of the vehicle sticker and replaced it with a safer design, one that doesn't include hands drawn in a way that some experts associated with a notorious street gang symbol."

Yada yada yada. Here's what got me:

"'Nobody should be putting down that picture. It's wrong,' the teen told WGN-TV. The Tribune is not naming the boy because he is a minor."

Not naming the boy? He was just on TV!

Not only that, you already named the boy - last week! With photo!

And this:

"In less than 24 hours, the teen's sticker was felled by a cop blog with a dirty name and a Facebook page that left some questions about the winner."

With no links - or even an explanation of the posts and Facebook page. By now many of you have already seen what the Tribune is only willing to allude to, but for those who haven't:

* The blog is Detective Shaved Longcock.

* This is the post that kicked off the whole thing.

* Second City Cop then pushed it along.

* Here are the Facebook messages the Tribune references without explanation.

Gang Bang
"There were at least two gang stories in Chicago on Wednesday: One that's getting the buzz and another one that's soft and weepy," John Kass writes for the Tribune. Click through to read about the other one.

Baseball Is Better When . . .
. . . one of your owners isn't a lying boob.

My Body Is Not An Amusement Park
(I am) MORE.

'L' Car No. 1
It was from Delaware.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Faithful.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:28 AM | Permalink

(I am) MORE

"NiqKush (Niq James & Kush Thompson) at Young Chicago Authors' WordPlay, a weekly open mic every Tuesday at 1180 N. Milwaukee."


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Uploaded by CovalKevin on Feb 7, 2012

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Also:

EarthBody.

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Housewives.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 3:52 AM | Permalink

'L' Car No. 1

"How do you move an L Car into a Museum? Very carefully. Listen to Russell Lewis, Chief Historian and Executive Vice President of the Chicago History Museum, talk about the historical significance of the L, and watch as the first L Car makes the Museum its home. If you would like to see and board L Car #1, visit the Museum's Chicago: Crossroads of America exhibition."


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See also:
* June 2, 1883: The 'L' Comes To Chicago.

* Remnants of the 'L'.

* The Chicago 'L': Wikipedia.

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Comments welcome.


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 2:50 AM | Permalink

No, Cubs, Baseball Is Better When . . .

"To me, baseball is better with tradition, baseball is better with history, baseball is better with fans who care, baseball is better in ballparks like this, baseball is better during the day. And baseball is, best of all, when you win," Theo Epstein said the day he was announced as the team's new president.

A marketing slogan was born.

But Theo only got it partly right. We'll fill in the rest of the picture.

* Baseball is better when your flat beer doesn't cost $8 a cup.

* Baseball is better when you're left fielder doesn't hop.

* (To the Sox: Baseball is better when pitchers don't take the bump, infielders don't glove two-hopper, double-choppers, and outfielders don't catch cans of corn.)

* Baseball is better for everyone except Yankees fans when Jim Hendry works for the Yankees.

* Baseball is better when you no longer have wood.

* Baseball is better with facial hair.

* Baseball is better with religion.

* Baseball is better when bleacher bums are really bums.

* Baseball is better than this stupid generic marketing slogan.

* Baseball is better when you don't scalp your own tickets.

* Baseball is better when you don't have to urinate in a trough.

* Baseball is better when it's not gentrified.

* Baseball is better with Afros.

* Baseball is better with folk heroes.

* Baseball is better when one of your owners isn't a lying boob.

* Baseball is better when everyone can afford to go see it.

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Contributing: Thomas Chambers, Marty Gangler, Jim Coffman, Steve Rhodes.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 1:29 AM | Permalink

February 8, 2012

The [Wednesday] Papers

1. Well, it looks to me like they're crossing their fingers, as if to say "That fundraiser had nothing to do with me changing my position!"

2. Yes, get employers out of the health-insurance business.

3. College Illinois! Needs Taxpayer Bailout To Stay Afloat.

Me too.

4. "When ousted 36th Ward Ald. John Rice started a new job recently in Gov. Pat Quinn's administration, Rice said he did not rely on clout but rather applied for the $84,420-a-year position after seeing it posted online," the Chicago News Cooperative reports.

"But Rice's job application was not filed until the same day he started his new job with the Illinois Department of Transportation in November, according to state records obtained by the Chicago News Cooperative. And the management opening was never posted, the documents show."

It gets better.

"Quinn spokeswoman Brooke Anderson said in an email Monday that the governor - who lives in the 36th Ward, on the Northwest Side - did not get involved in 'those personnel decisions at the agency level.' Anderson declined comment when asked if the governor supported adding the new position to IDOT's payroll."

The governor has no opinion on adding a new position to the payroll. That's below his pay grade.

"A spokesman for the department added that the decision to hire Rice was made by Michael Stout, who stepped down at the end of December as director of the department's traffic safety division.

"But Stout said Monday that he 'never hired anybody' and did not know who had decided to bring Rice onto the state payroll.

"'He was given to me,' Stout said."

Rice apparently used the same placement office as Angelo Torres.

"Rice declined comment Monday."

He doesn't know who hired him either.

"Shortly after he began at IDOT, Rice said he was qualified for the new state job because he once ran valet and snowplowing companies and managed valet services for Jam Productions."

Yes, managing valet services eminently qualifies one for a job at IDOT - although not as much a using a valet service.

"In his application to the state, Rice also said he worked 80 hours a week during his brief tenure as alderman and 70-hour weeks as an aide to his predecessor as 36th Ward alderman, William J.P. Banks. Rice's duties as an aide included chauffeuring Banks between the ward office and City Hall."

So he has experience driving, too. What more do you want from the guy?!

"The records show that the formal process to fill the newly created opening began on June 17, and in the IDOT form to fill the position, officials typed that 'there is no proposed candidate at this time.' On the same page, however, Rice is listed as the candidate for the job."

In Russia, the job picks you!

"Rice's hand-written application was dated Nov. 21 - the same day that his appointment became effective."

Who says the bureaucracy moves slowly.

*

See also: Pat Quinn Has Always Loved Patronage.

5. "A newly retired state representative who shepherded two utility bills through the House in 2010 and 2011 landed a new job last month as the utilities' lobbyist," the News Cooperative also reports.

"Former state Rep. Kevin McCarthy, an Orland Park Democrat who served 14 years in the Illinois House, retired in late December after sponsoring the controversial ComEd 'Smart-Grid' legislation and, the year before, a much-debated bill AT&T wanted. On Jan. 26, McCarthy filed paperwork with the Illinois Secretary of State's Office to serve as a lobbyist under a new firm he created, KMAC Consulting. He lists two clients so far: AT&T Illinois and its affiliates, and ComEd."

That is just beautiful - like a Leni Riefenstahl movie.

*

McCarthy, Rice and Quinn are Democrats.

6. "A commission created by Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn nearly two years ago with the ambitious goal of righting the wrongs of Chicago's police torture scandal is quietly falling apart, another apparent victim of the state's budget mess," AP reports.

"The Illinois Torture Inquiry and Relief Commission hasn't even met since August or reviewed a single case. It is operating with a quarter of the money commissioners sought, which has delayed the hiring of a staff attorney."

Well, John Rice was just hired for $84,420 a year, would that help?

"Steve Brown, spokesman for House Speaker Mike Madigan, said the global financial crisis has meant less money across the board in state government."

And then he burst out laughing.

7. South Side Irish Parade Organizers Raise Half Of Needed Funds.

So the bail money is set but they still can't afford any floats.

8. NBC Chicago and its political blogger, Edward McClelland, were just too swamped to return the messages left by the Windy City Times.

9. Auctioning Democracy.

10. State of Inundation: The Songs of State Farm.

11. First Basemen and First Benchmen.

12. Longboard Forever.

Have the heart of a child.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Forever.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:33 AM | Permalink

Auctioning Democracy

Today the Illinois PIRG Education Fund and Demos released a new analysis of the funding sources for the campaign finance behemoths known as Super PACs.

The findings confirm what many predicted in the wake of the Supreme Court's damaging Citizens United decision: since their inception in 2010, Super PACs have been primarily funded by a small segment of very wealthy individuals and business interests, with a small but significant amount of funds coming from secret sources.

"Super PACs represent much of what is wrong with American democracy rolled neatly into one package," said Marites Velasquez, field organizer with Illinois PIRG. "They are tools that powerful special interests can use to work their will by drowning out the voices of ordinary Americans in a sea of sometimes secret cash."

"Super PACs are like kryptonite for our democracy," added Demos Democracy Counsel Adam Lioz. "They undermine core principles of political equality in favor of a bully-based system where the strength of a citizen's voice depends upon the size of her wallet."

Some of the most striking findings in the report are:

* 17% percent of all Super PAC money in 2010 and 2011 came from for-profit business treasuries.

* 6.4% of the itemized funds raised by Super PACs since 2010 was "secret money," not feasibly traceable to its original source. A month-to-month analysis of spending in 2010 and 2011 suggests that the months leading up to the 2012 election will see an unprecedented surge in secret money.

* Of all itemized contributions from individuals to Super PACs, 93% came in contributions of at least $10,000. Only 726 individuals, or 23 out of every 10 million people in the U.S., made a contribution this large to a Super PAC. More than half of itemized Super PAC money came from just 37 people giving at least $500,000.

The Illinois PIRG Education Fund offers a recommendation for how the Illinois State Legislature can push back on the influence of Super PACs - pass a bill to protect shareholders. Specifically, the bill should:

* For corporations incorporated in Illinois, require shareholders to authorize, on an annual basis, a political activities budget of up to $X (to be set by corporation). Corporation must achieve a majority of votes representing all outstanding shares.

* For corporations incorporated in another state but registered to do business in Illinois, require shareholders residing in Illinois to authorize spending related to Illinois' elections.

* Require that fiduciaries voting on behalf of their investors disclose that vote to investors.

* Require that the board of directors must vote to authorize each expenditure over $50,000 within the overall budget approved by shareholders.

* Require individual board member votes and the details of such approved expenditure be disclosed online within 48 hours and to shareholders and the SEC on a quarterly basis.

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The report.

The infographics.

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The Illinois Public Interest Research Group (Illinois PIRG) is a non-profit, citizen funded watchdog and advocacy organization.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:54 AM | Permalink

Fantasy Fix: First Basemen and First Benchmen

After taking a crack at my preseason overall fantasy baseball top 10 last week, I'll kick off position rankings this week with first basemen. The 1Bs list tends to be the easiest because four or five of them are usually among the top 10 or so players in baseball, but 2012 should be an interesting year, as a few veteran 1Bs get acclimated to new surroundings or new situations, and some young upstarts try to break into the top ranks of the position:

Miguel Cabrera, DET: The No. 1 1B probably will play very little at that position this season, but should still get enough games to keep his 1B/3B eligibility. Lack of speed is his only weakness.

Albert Pujols, LAA: As noted last week, the numbers say he has dropped off slightly, but I think the new scene will do wonders for him.

Joey Votto, CIN: I've toyed with ranking Votto ahead of Pujols, but also behind Fielder and Gonzalez. He hits better than the first two, and has better OBP and SB potential than all three.

Prince Fielder, MIL: I'm going out on a limb to predict 40 HRs and a .300-plus average.

Adrian Gonzalez, BOS: HRs are dropping, but doubles are way up. The second-best pure hitter on this list after Cabrera.

Mark Teixeira, NYY: Potential for 40 HRs, 120 RBIs cancels out a circa .250 average.

Paul Konerko, WHITE SOX: Paulie proved age and a dead line-up couldn't keep him from .300, 31 HRs, 105 RBIs last year. What can he do if Adam Dunn, Alex Rios and Gordon Beckam suck even a little less?

Eric Hosmer, KC: The first of my upstarts brings a little speed to the table with potential for .300/25/100.

Michael Morse, WAS: With Pujols and Fielder in the AL now, this former WHITE SOX draft pick could lead all NL 1Bs in HRs.

Lance Berkman, STL: Fat Elvis got in shape and re-booted his career in the process. His average nudges him ahead of the guys listed below:

Just missed the top 10: Ryan Howard, PHI; Carlos Santana, CLE; Kevin Youkilis, BOS; Pablo Sandoval, SF.

Expert Wire
* Full Spectrum Baseball has fantasy baseball's biggest winners and losers of the offseason.

* Fantasy Baseball Dugout lists the top sleeper picks at every position.

* Bleacher Report ranks the top 15 fantasy catchers.

Mob Scene
The Bulls have their Bench Mob, and you need one, too. I'm not saying these guys should be fantasy starters on the nights when the entire NBA is playing, but they make good pick-ups for those nights of the week when your starters are off and you need stats to keep pace with the competition:

Jeremy Lin, PG, NJ: Shooting FGs around .500, delivering more than 13 PPG.

Greivis Vasquez, PG/SG, NO: Averaging about 13 PPG and almost 7 APG over the last two weeks.

Daequan Cook, SG/SF, OKC: Averaging 2.5 3PG the last two weeks and will get the odd block.

Marcus Camby, C, DEN: Who else could go for 20 rebounds and zero points, as he did one game last week? Who else averaged 12.4 RPG and 2.6 BPG the last two weeks?

Alonszo Gee, SG/SF, CLE: A minutes boost lately has seen him average 14.3 PPG and 2 SPG the last few games.

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Send your comments to Disco Danny O'Shea.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:27 AM | Permalink

Longboard Forever

"This video was filmed over my two days when we went back to Danville, IL to celebrate my birthday. I hope you all are inspired to longboard forever."

* * *

"Have the heart of a child. Mark 10:13-16."

* * *


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Song: "We Are Young (feat. Janelle Monae)" by Fun.

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Stephen's YouTube Channel.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:06 AM | Permalink

State of Inundation: The Songs of State Farm

From alt-country to Weezer.

1. State of Inundation b/w State of Caffeination.


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2. "During this time [Barry Manilow] began to work as a commercial jingle writer, an activity that continued well into the 1970s. Many of those he wrote and/or composed he would also perform, including State Farm Insurance ('Like a good neighbor, State Farm is there . . . ')," according to Wikipedia.

Here is Weezer covering it.

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3. Here's the making of the State Farm commercial featuring TLC's "Waterfalls."

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Here's the final commercial.

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4. Any Way You Want it.

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5. Empire State of Mind.

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6. Recover (Natasha Bedingfield).

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7. Cheers.

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8. Point of Know Return.

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9. There Goes My Life (Kenny Chesney).

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10. Guitar lesson.

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11. Behind the marketing.

12. "Anyone walking through an El Paso-Gridley High School hallway on Saturday might have thought they had accidentally stepped into a scene from the popular television show Glee," the Bloomington Pantagraph reported last month.

"A dozen juniors and seniors filled a hallway Saturday with song and dance as State Farm Insurance Cos. film crews captured their moves for a 30-second public safety commercial aimed at encouraging teens behind the wheel to slow down.

"The students began working with State Farm last month to create the 30-second commercial, Speed: The Musical, set to air in Iowa this spring. Last month, the students recorded the song that will be aired in the video."

13. Letter to the South Florida Sun-Sentinel:

State Farm's "I'll be there" commercials are an insult to Floridians, as the company is abandoning all homeowners policies in a year or two. I suggest they use another of Michael Jackson's hits, Beat It, for future Florida TV market spots.

14. "State Farm" by Ben Folds.

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Comments welcome!

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:20 AM | Permalink

February 7, 2012

The [Tuesday] Papers

Let's look around, shall we?

1. "We are researching a product," Chicago chef Homaro Cantu tells Super Chef. "You drink alcohol, but won't give you a hangover. It is all about healthier and more fun. We are re-thinking alcoholic beverages. You will be able to drink, and then wait twenty minutes and you will be sober. It will eliminate all kinds of problems. It might even eliminate alcoholism."

Or double it.

2. The trend-setting Chicago Wolves are not only serving their Vancouver Canuck masters well but they're setting the bar when it comes to Twitter and individual goal songs, according to this report out of Canada.

3. Today in Duh.

Runner-up.

4. WBEZ misses the point about the new speed cameras that will soon blanket the city. More like it.

5. It still blows me away that there are vending machines in schools. But these reports also avert the obvious: How much money do the schools get and who lobbied whom to get the machines there in the first place?

Related: Yet another way CPS is doing school lunch wrong.

6. Tucker Carlson vs. Bill Ayers.

7. "Madonna's first tour since 2009 won't include a stop in Michigan."

That's okay, Clint Eastwood's didn't either.

8. "The next time you enjoy a mouth-puckering box of Lemonheads or a fiery handful of Atomic FireBalls, give a moment of silent thanks to their inventor, Nello Ferrara, who passed away Friday at the age of 93. We'd like to think he's in a place where chocolate waterfalls flow and sugar falls like sweet rain," writes Mary Beth Quirk for The Consumerist.

Related: Nello Ferrara, 93, Invented Lemonheads, Saw MacArthur In Occupied Japan, Sang With Sinatra.

"Ferrara, the chairman of Chicago's Ferrara Pan Candy Co., died Friday at his home in River Forest at age 93."

9. ThyssenKrupp apologizes.

10. Phoenix woman entirely too happy that Portillo's is coming to town.

11. "Eau Claire-based Menard, Inc. has agreed to pay about $1 million to black store employees in its Midwest home improvement stores who claimed they were passed over for promotions because of their race," the Eau Claire Leader-Telegram reports.

"The settlement was approved two weeks ago by a Chicago arbitrator, and the 700 workers who ranged from assistant department managers to store managers can begin filing claims for their share of the money Feb. 23."

12. "Those pondering why you'd launch a sports car in Chicago in the middle of February will get their answer when they look at the photos of the 2013 Nissan 370Z," Jalopnik reports. "This is the least you can do to a car and call it an upgrade. Look, vertical LED daytime running lights!"

13. Edgebrook Glen: Marketing vs. Reality.

14. Drewrys Beer: More Fun In A Glass!

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Atomic.


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:07 PM | Permalink

Edgebrook Glen: Marketing vs. Reality

"If you're familiar with the conventions of naming real estate developments you'll immediate know that Edgebrook Glen is not in Chicago's Edgebrook neighborhood and has no glen on site.

"That knowledge is insufficient to prepare you for the radical disconnect between the way the development of 64 single-family homes was marketed and the reality of the site."


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This video was uploaded to YouTube on February 6, 2012. See the extended description here.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:06 AM | Permalink

AdVault: Drewrys Beer - More Fun In A Glass

Uploaded to YouTube by 2toughtodie on February 6, 2012.

"A Drewrys beer commercial from the late 50s. Drewrys was a brand brewed in South Bend Indiana and at one point also had breweries in Chicago & Detroit. It was one of the most popular brands in the midwest from the late 30s-late 60s. The South Bend brewery was closed in 1972. The brand lived on as a cheap beer brewed by Heileimen brewing & various others until the late 80s."

1. Drewrys Beer Is Fun Time.


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2. For Adults Only.

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See also:
* Drewrys history

* A Barrel Of Flavor In Every Glass.

* More Flavor, Less Filling.

* The Drewrys mountie.

* "I Drank Drewrys" Facebook page.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:33 AM | Permalink

February 6, 2012

The [Monday] Papers

We've got a lot of stuff today but there isn't going to be a column.

First, our stupendous Super Bowl Coverage:

* SportsMonday: The Goat Is Wes Welker But Tom Brady Was No Prize: Giselle Bundchen is totally pissed.

* The Best Super Bowl Ads You Didn't See: Blown chances.

* The Best Of The Beachwood's Super Bowl Tweets: Is #Lame trending yet? #Madonna #SuperBowl

* The 2012 Beachwood Super Bowl Halftime Prop Bet: The winner actually picked "LMFAO interlude." And, yes, that harp counts as an instrument.

* And in case you missed it late Friday: The Super Bowl Is Decadent And Depraved.

Onto other matters . . .

* Shills, Cruel Jokes and CPS Turnarounds: Plus, lies and videotape.

* A True Gay Story: Meet Stephen Winter.

* The Weekend in Chicago Rock: We have the video.

And . . .

* I'm back behind the bar tonight at the venerable Beachwood Inn. Come spend your Super Bowl winnings. 5p - 2a.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Like a prayer.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:15 PM | Permalink

Shills, Cruel Jokes and CPS Turnarounds

Privatizing schools, demonizing teachers and using political hackery to build resumes and make money. The kids get the shaft.

1. Part of a cynical story about how Chicago works.


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2. Bears Owners Oppose Closing Crane; Who'll Get Dyett's Shiny New Gym?

3. Piccolo, Casals staff: Give Current Leadership A Chance.

4. The Chicago Tribune And CPS's Big Lie.

5. Community Anger Toward CPS At Crane Public Meeting.

6. "As Chicago Public Schools begins what are certain to be contentious contract talks with the Chicago Teachers Union, Mayor Rahm Emanuel emerged as the star of a new online video promoting charter schools and ripping the union," the Chicago News Cooperative reports.

"An exclusive interview with Emanuel highlights the 35-minute video produced by the Michigan-based Education Action Group Foundation and Fox News political analyst Juan Williams. Williams narrates the video, saying the teachers union is 'radically politicized' and is 'repeatedly providing terrible examples for Chicago's school children.'"

7. "Schools CEO Jean-Claude Brizard said later that same day that he knew nothing about the so-called 'rent-a-protesters,'" the Sun-Times reports. "Brizard pointed instead to 9,000 people who joined a telephone townhall with Brizard organized last week by Stand for Children, a non-profit group that backed a school reform law that weakened teacher tenure protections and made it harder for the Chicago Teachers Union to strike.

"Of those parents who called in, Brizard said, 'That's the kind of people I listen to.'''

8. "A now-viral video of Stand cofounder Jonah Edelman, the Portland son of national civil rights activist Marian Wright Edelman and leader of the group, was recorded at a public forum in Aspen, Colo., describing how he out-politicked a teachers' union to get a piece of education reform legislation adopted by the Illinois Legislature," the Portland Tribune reported last summer.

Those are the kind of people Brizard listens to.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 11:30 AM | Permalink

A True Gay Story

"I'm From Driftwood aims to help lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people learn more about their community, straight people learn more about their neighbors and everyone learn more about themselves through the power of storytelling and storysharing."


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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:50 AM | Permalink

The Weekend in Chicago Rock

You shoulda been there.

1. Falling in Reverse at Mojoe's in Joliet on Friday night.


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2. The Hush Sound at the Bottom Lounge on Saturday night.

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3. The Mad Poets at the Elbo Room on Thursday night.

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4. DJ/MC Benny Rock at Chicago Joe's on Friday night.

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5. Skapone at Reggie's on Friday night.

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6. Smith Westerns at the Metro on Friday night.

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Comments welcome!

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:08 AM | Permalink

The Best Super Bowl Ads You Didn't See

Blown chances.

1. The next revolution in beauty.


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2. Budweiser does it right.

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3. Old Milwaukee does it right.

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Comments welcome!

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:56 AM | Permalink

The Best Of The Beachwood's Super Bowl Tweets

From the beginning @BeachwoodReport:

The #SuperBowl is already over in Australia.

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Madonna shooting up with Toradol just about now.

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Next year: Bud Light Plutonium

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Next year: Celebrity Super Bowl.

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Make it a Coca-Cola Platinum.

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RT: BeerAdvocate
How can Bud Light Platinum be "light" at 6% when normal Budweiser is 5%?

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RT: BorowitzReport
#SuperBowl Trivia: Besides Mitt Romney, Bill Belichick is the most successful robot in Massachusetts history.

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Make it a Bridgestone Platinum.

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Because the #SuperBowl is so special, bars will be open in Indianapolis tonight until 10.

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RT: BeerAdvocate
So Bud Light Platinum is apparently "top-shelf" and ideal for hipster loft house parties hosted in skyscrapers.

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RT: BorowitzReport
Bud Light Platinum's slogan should be: "If you don't drink it, you're not a real douche."

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Wait, whose doing the halftime show again?

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Prohibition lifted in Indiana for #SuperBowl weekend.

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Actually there was a lockout. These players are just CGI.

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VW ad would've been funnier if dog got run over.

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Madonna will be carried onto the field in an egg.

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David Beckham is bringing the unsexy back.

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RT: Malecopywriter
That's why the polar bears are dying, people. They're morbidly obese and diabetic from drinking all that Coke.

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RT: Dan Proft
I can't wait to buy a Chevy Sonic so I can take my car ziplining.

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You said Woodhead.

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RT: AARP Illinois
Time for Madonna!

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Billy and Becky lost their virginity in one. #camry

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HuluPlus: One less than HuluPlatinum.

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Can't they bring back Prince?

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RT: Ben Gleib
It's amazing, Madonna lip syncs exactly like she did in the 90's!

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Nice of #Madonna to incorporate Richard Simmons into her act.

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Is #Lame trending yet? #Madonna #SuperBowl

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Didn't Fleetwood Mac already do this? #Madonna #SuperBowl #marchingband

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RT: Jealous Brett Favre
I got excited because I thought Aretha Franklin was on stage with Madonna, but turns out it was just Cee-Lo.

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RT: Philip Bump
"Madonna: Brought to you by tires."

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RT: Mitch Albom
INDY - OK, I'm not wild about Madonna's antics or faux accent, but credit where its due: this is some hft show

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RT: Mark Harris
The machine making the sounds coming out of Madonna's mouth has never sounded better.

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RT: Clay Travis
We said same thing here. "@amcelroy17: If Madonna would have Tebow'd to end 'like a prayer,' Twitter would have shut down."

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RT: Frank Caliendo
I thought when Madonna started "like a prayer" @timtebow was going to come down and save the halftime show for me in the last 2 minutes.

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Next year's halftime show by Lana Del Rey.

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Wow, Toyota. I think everyone in that commercial was white except the DMV worker.

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RT: Debbie Schlussel
Luv How Clint Eastwood Says, "We Pulled Together in Detroit." Um, he lives in Carmel, CA. Took Mucho $s from MI Film Tax Credit, Then Left.

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Al Michaels is also lip synching.

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RT: Matt Yglesias
Mario Manningham used a stylus to catch that ball.

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RT: Dan Bernstein
Helluva throw on that play, even though we're talking about the catch.

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Nicks just pulled a Barber.

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Bradshaw just pulled a Barber.

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Comments welcome!

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:33 AM | Permalink

SportsMonday: The Goat Is Wes Welker But Tom Brady Was No Prize

Wes Welker, meet Asante Samuel.

When fans look back at the Giants' victory over the up-until-then undefeated Patriots in the Super Bowl XLII four years ago, they remember Eli Manning's refusal to be sacked during the final drive and David Tyree's amazing fourth-down catch, secured with one hand pressing the football against his helmet. It was the injury-plagued Tyree's last catch in the NFL.

But perhaps even more important was Samuels' dropped interception. Earlier in what eventually became the game-winning, last-two-minute drive, Samuel had a championship in his hands and couldn't bring it in.

In the second half of the fourth quarter Sunday, Welker had the championship in his hands. Tom Brady had thrown him a 25-yard pass down the seam and Welker turned, left his feet and put up his mitts. The ball was in both of his hands before he failed to secure it and it bounced away. What would have been a huge first-down reception on the edge of the red zone instead became an incompletion and soon the Patriots were punting the ball back to the Giants with plenty of time for Manning to lead yet another game-winning drive.

Still, as good as Manning has been this entire season and postseason, driving at least, say, 55 yards at that point to at least secure a potential game-winning field goal attempt was a tall order. He needed a big play to shorten the field after taking over just outside his 10. He got one.

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The drive ended with what will be the second most-remembered play - the Patriots letting Ahmad Bradshaw score to preserve as much time on the clock as possible for Tom Brady's last drive and Bradshaw complying against Eli Manning's orders.

Seeing as how Brady's ensuing drive was unsuccessful - in large part because of more hamhanded choking by his receivers that sent even Giselle Bundchen into a frenzy - history will note that Bill Belichick simply allowed the Giants to score the Super Bowl-winning touchdown.

It was not an unprecedented move, though. Mike Holmgren did the same thing in Super XXXII when he was coaching the Packers, though in that case Holmgren didn't even know what down it was.

In the end, even though the Patriots defense couldn't shut down the Giants offense when it mattered most, this loss was on the offense in general (only 17 points!) and Brady in particular.

Despite setting a Super Bowl record for consecutive completions in the middle of the game, Brady made some horribly unforgivable throws before and after. He had done the same thing against the Ravens the week before (two brutal interceptions) and that game would have been lost but for Lee Evans failing to hang onto a final-30-second touchdown pass (another massive incompletion in a massive game). Then, of course, Billy Cundiff missed the 32-yard field goal that would have sent the game to overtime.

Brady's terrible passes only resulted in one interception this time but it was a big one. The other gave the Giants a safety. That happened on his first toss of the game, a throw-away deep down the middle after he had failed to clear the tackle box during the extended time he had back in the pocket in his own end zone. An obvious intentional grounding flag was dropped and the safety was assessed.(Maybe this guy is his pal.)

The third-quarter pick was especially aggravating for Patriots fans because it happened on first-and-10. After Brady was pressured on that play and moved out of the pocket to his right, he tried to heave a deep ball to tight end Rob Gronkowski, who was hobbled all game long by the after-effects of a high-ankle sprain (a nasty injury).

The ball was underthrown and the pick was made. The Giants soon drove down to one of the field goals that pulled them ever closer. The Patriots never again regained the momentum.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:17 AM | Permalink

February 4, 2012

The Weekend Desk Report

Natasha Julius is on a top secret mission that may or may not involve drones, so the B team is on the desk this weekend.

World Class
Chicago may never host a Super Bowl, and we may be miserable, but by God we can still attract international corporations.

"ThyssenKrupp A.G., the big German metal technologies company, is opening a North American regional headquarters in Chicago," Crain's reported Thursday.

"The announcement, made Thursday by company officials and Mayor Rahm Emanuel, initially will bring about 100 jobs to the city, but that figure is expected to grow over time."

Emanuel said in a press release that "ThyssenKrupp's decision to locate their North American headquarters in Chicago is a testament to the world-class business environment the city offers."

Here's Rahm at a press conference announcing the move with Torsten Gessner, chairman and CEO for ThyssenKrupp North America.

rahmthyssen.jpg

Chicago! Second to None!

Er . . .

"ThyssenKrupp - the German conglomerate that has agreed to make Chicago its North American regional headquarters - created a racially hostile work environment at a Chicago office that included frequent use of the n-word and a black face routine at a company meeting, the Illinois Department of Human Rights has ruled," the Sun-Times reports this morning.

D'oh! Paging Ron Paul!

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See also Legendary German War Profiteers Open Chicago Office.

Super Bowling
But let us not digress from the weekend at hand. Here is your Super Bowl Reader.

1. The Super Bowl Is Decadent And Depraved, in which our very own Thomas Chambers takes you on a journey from The Three Horsemen Of Boulder Dam College to Kelly Clarkson's midriff.

2. The Beachwood Super Bowl Prop Bet. Enter now!

3. Thank God we didn't elect Gery Chico.

4. Because . . .

5. Why One Team Won't Have Cheerleaders At Super Bowl XLVI.

But then, um, who will, uh, lead the cheers?

6. Illinois Man Delivers Super Bowl Pizza To Troops.

But was it within 30 minutes?

7. Unlike Patriots, NFL Slow To Embrace 'Moneyball'.

8. Stop Hangover Monday: Move The Super Bowl To Saturday.

9. @BorowitzReport: "The #SuperBowl is a perfect symbol for 2012 USA: a few men paid millions for making 100 yards of progress."

10. Super Bowl Hoosier Hillbilly Zip Line.

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The Weekend Desk Tip Line: No droning.

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The Sound Opinions Weekend Report: "Go back in time to 1967. Jim and Greg explore this watershed year and discuss the birth of the album as art."

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The CAN TV Weekend Report: CAN TV brings you local, relevant issues from Chicago's neighborhoods and communities. See what's happening around the city in education, the arts, government, cultural events, social services and community activities.

Grady's Notebook: Tuskegee Airmen

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Daughters of Tuskegee Airmen tell their fathers' stories and share family photos.

Saturday, February 4 at 5 p.m. on CAN TV19
40 min

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Perspectivas Latinas: Latin United Community Housing Association

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LUCHA's executive director Juan Rivera discusses how the foreclosure crisis is hitting Latinos in Chicago and programs they have to help.

Saturday, February 4 at 7:30 p.m. on CAN TV21
30 min

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Shattered Lens: A Citizen's Right to Film

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Chicago Police Superintendent Garry F. McCarthy joins a panel of journalists, lawyers, and public officials to discuss legal issues faced by citizen and professional journalists in today's political climate.

Watch this video

Sunday, February 5 at 9 a.m. on CAN TV21
1 hr

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Martin Luther King's Vision and Beyond

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Professor Erik Gellman discusses Martin Luther King, Jr.'s legacy and how it can serve as a blueprint for action in the 21 st Century.

Sunday, February 5 at 10 a.m. on CAN TV21
1 hr

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American Jobs Act: Pathways Back to Work

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This Youth Hearing highlights the latest statistics on youth employment and the firsthand experiences of young people as they discuss the impact of potential legislation with local and national officials.

Sunday, February 5 at 11:30 a.m. on CAN TV21
2 hr

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School Closings Dialogue

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Pastor Alvin Love joins local organizations in raising concerns about the process surrounding the closing of CPS schools and calling for more transparency and public input.

Sunday, February 5 at 1:30 p.m. on CAN TV21
30 min

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:34 AM | Permalink

February 3, 2012

The Super Bowl Is Decadent And Depraved

It is so sacred, so sovereign, that you must pay a large royalty to speaks its name in any kind of affinity.

Like William's and Kate's vows, the actual purpose for all the dearly beloved takes up an infinitesimal moment in an orgiastic half day of classically overdone spectacle and consumption.

And as for the sporting proposition of crowning a champion on the field of competition, the Super Bowl is American sports at its worst.

But from this cynical corner, it is also an opportunity for action, a chance to feed the jones, exploit the event for all it is worth. Less a football game than an opportunity to either choose sides with point spreads attached or trust a deck of cards to plot the squares. A little something on the line with tons and tons of unique American entertainment thrown in.

Pure commercialism and Madonna, all on the same day! For you nostalgia buffs, pro football has certainly come a long way since The Three Horsemen of Boulder Dam College played for money behind closed doors.

And you have to like the priorities of the day. "TIME-OUT, MEN! Time to hear from DANICA!" If only Mickey were still around to tell her to get her little chicken ass out of there.

It's been an interesting journey through the NFL playoffs. As fans, we can commiserate with the Pats and Giants players as they must continually stop what they're doing for commercial messages. We've already had to hack through the jungles of so many TV networks, so many announcers, and so many Boomers, Howies and Primetimes. It is hard to concentrate on the football.

But it's a helluva lot more than Xs and Os. For all of the paralysis-by-analysis by football wagerers, don't you find it funny how so many people still come down on the obvious? Just as we might eat Lipton onion dip Sunday although we never touch it the rest of the year, we're conditioned to a lot of things. The Saints are unbeatable, the Niners are for real and the Patriots are a complete, finely-tuned team.

Houston over Cincinnati was easy. Like the horses, Houston was a hard-working bunch and Cincy beat nobody. Denver over a gimpy Pittsburgh seemed like a no-brainer, as long as you don't keep taking Pittsburgh until they lose.

Inexperienced Houston on the road was too tall an order. Tebow ran out of miracles. New Orleans looked like they thought they were on another planet.

Everything was copacetic in the NFC until the mighty Packers coasted in to Lambeau and lost their curds and their way. It had to be degenerate gamblers who dashed off death threats to San Francisco's Kyle Williams. But they way I saw it, you had an inexperienced team coached by a full-of-himself young punk who was probably still recovering from Samurai Syndrome brought on during the Mike Singletary administration. Against a Tom Coughlin squad that had virtually been in it's own playoffs for two months?

But in an NFL where nothing is what it seems, Lee Evans sure-as-shootin' scored a touchdown. He had complete control of the piglet, ensuring its safety, feeding and changing it, and then holding it dearly against his gently beating heart.

Then the violent Patriot punches the ball, but why not? He knew that the game's babysitters are so full of self-doubt that they question their own basic capabilities. These guys are even starting to doubt what they see on the crisp digital replays.

But in the service of piety and obedience, not Evans nor any Raven shouted that it was a touchdown and the Romneyesque safety net of reviewing every scoring play was found to have a crack in it. If I'm a coach next year, I tell my guys to count 10-Mississippi, hang on to the ball all the way back to the bench, hand it to their head coach and get a receipt.

The Pats DB pawed and tugged the Ravens receiver worse than a TSA agent on the very next play. But Captain Hook, the Ravens kicker, missed the field goal and we'll be forced to watch the Unabomber's Indianapolis travelogue.

I had Baltimore beating the spread, which they did, but a straight-up win was a bonanza on the money line and for that loss, I am livid. Not death-threat livid, mind you, but if they wanted the porcelain beauty of Tom Brady and the delicate genius of Bill "Cheater" Belichick in Indianapolis, why did they bother to play this game? Why was that not a touchdown when they give six so easily as the fragrance of Brady's Axe body wash merely wafts towards paydirt or another guy goes flailing and sailing over the pylon?

As for Sunday, for me, it's as much about gut feelings and perceptions as it is about football.

The line has been stuck at Patriots by three for two weeks. The majority of the action is on the Giants. I like the Giants to win the game, and if they do it will be by about three or six. If the Patriots win, it will be by relative blowout and I could be switching to the Columbo rerun on ME-TV.

As is true in recent years, both of these teams are flawed - although the Giants are playing the most balanced now.

The Patriots do not even deserve to be in this game. The Ravens are like a horse whose jockey delivered a great ride and then misjudged the finish line. Just because the Patriots won doesn't mean they're the best team in the AFC. Brady is absolutely capable of turning in a mediocre performance and his defense is suspect.

Tom Coughlin is one of the best and most underrated coaches in sports. Even in the media maelstrom that is New York City, he's got a tough bunch that can see through the B.S. His guys figure to be able to concentrate through the folderol of the game's bad pacing and the lengthy warblings of Miss Ciccone. I'll give Eli Manning the keys to the car anytime. And if they can pound Brady a couple of times . . .

The Giants have been through all the preps to get to this derby. The Patriots are process of elimination. Giants.

But one of the big questions: Will Kelly Clarkson go bare midriff during the anthem, in Indiana? At +300 on the moneyline, they don't think she will.

See what I mean?

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Thomas Chambers is our man at the book. He welcomes your comments.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 5:55 PM | Permalink

A Tribute To The World's Greatest Cornerman

"I did a fight once in Chicago when Angelo was working the corner of a heavyweight named James 'Quick' Tillis," Barry Tompkins writes for CSNBayArea.com. "Tillis had a tendency to be a bit lazy in the ring and gave some fights away that he could have won with relative ease. On that night, Tillis was being - well, Tillis - and at one point Angelo took the fighter's head in his hands and turned it toward the crowd. 'You see that woman right there?' Angelo said. 'That's your mother, and you're embarrassing her.'"

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"Angelo Dundee died Wednesday in a Florida rehabilitation center, where he was being treated for a blood clot found after a flight back from visiting Muhammad Ali in Louisville for the fighter's 70th birthday, son James Dundee said," the Los Angeles Times reports. He was 90.

"In recent weeks, Dundee had paid visits to Ali for his birthday, treked to the International Boxing Hall of Fame in New York and mingled with friends at the National Italian American Sports Hall of Fame he helped start in Chicago by first inducting boxers."

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"I first met Ali when he was an amateur in 1959," Dundee once told Boxing Insider. "I used to go to Louisville with my fighters - Jimmy Beecham, Luis Rodriguez, Willie Pastrano. In fact, the biggest draw in Louisville was Willie Pastrano. And Willie fought Alonzo Johnson. That's when I met Muhammad. Muhammad called me from the hotel lobby . . . 'This is Cassius Marcellus Clay. I'm the Golden Gloves champ of Louisville. I won the Gloves in Chicago, I won the Gloves in Seattle. And I want to talk with you.'"

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"It was here [in Las Vegas] the famed entourage lived together like frat boys: Gene Kilroy, the personal business manager and camp facilitator, keeper of the checkbook, restorer of order, fierce guardian of Ali's integrity; Pat Patterson, the Chicago cop turned security chief; Angelo Dundee, the trainer who usually arrived the last week before they broke camp for fight; Drew Bundini Brown, the witch doctor/cheerleader who coined the phrase 'Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee,' and Wali Muhammad, the bucket man and timekeeper," Jerry Izenberg wrote for NJ.com.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:39 AM | Permalink

The Week in Occupy Chicago

And what a week it was.

1. Meet the new HQ at 500 West Cermak.


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2. Hey, wouldn't 50,000 visitors be great for the local economy?

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3. "In Chicago an organizer with SEIU who wished to remain anonymous called the Occupy movement 'a game changer,'" Arun Gupta reports for Salon. "He said his union 'recognized that it can no longer focus just on what happens in the workplace. Our members who work in a hospital go home to a community that is being devastated by foreclosures and school closures.'

"The SEIU co-founded Stand Up! Chicago, which kicked off last June with a protest against a convention for CFOs of major corporations. When Occupy Chicago formed it coincided with Stand Up! Chicago's week of actions last October in the financial district. Occupiers were maintaining an around-the-clock protest at the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago and the Chicago Mercantile Exchange. The organizer says, 'We had this great synergy because we were doing actions in the financial district and Occupy Chicago was right there and would join us. They helped us get the attention of the press in a way we wouldn't have otherwise.'"

4. "Occupy Chicago took to the streets in solidarity with Occupy Oakland against police brutality. Occupy Chicago protesters were met with aggression from Chicago Police. Live streamer, Keilah Becker, 'Pie Chi' or Occupie Chicago was grabbed and shoved onto the sidewalk. Police Officer Osbourne (badge # 11774) pinned Keilah against a fence and called her a 'b*tch.' Osbourne had to be restrained and taken away by another officer. The footage of the assault and an arrest was later seized and deleted via the Illinois Eavesdropping Act."

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5. "Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy says he supports the video and audio recording of police officers who are on the job," ABC 7 reports.

"McCarthy talked to ABC 7 Monday about his position on the state's eavesdropping law, which makes the recording the audio of officers without their knowledge a felony.

"McCarthy's comments come as a state representative works to change that law. Like many citizens, McCarthy did not know the specifics of the eavesdropping law.

"The superintendent learned - much to his chagrin - that the eavesdropping law in Illinois is much more restrictive than what he was used to back east. It is his job to enforce the law as it stands, but this is clearly a law he is not fond of, and his voice as the head man of the state's largest law enforcement agency carries significant weight in this debate.

"If you pull out your smart phone and record a police officer making an arrest on the public way, you are legally allowed under Illinois law to record the video, but recording the audio without police permission is a felony.

"'This is a foreign concept to me,' McCarthy said last week.'

"Chicago's police superintendent said at a seminar at Loyola University last week that he was unaware of the audio restriction in the Illinois eavesdropping law until after the Occupy Chicago arrests. He said Monday that it is a provision in the law that he does not see as particularly helpful."

6. Tactical Briefing #25.

7. AdBusters' Call For Chicago Occupation Rankles Some In Movement.

8. Occupy U: Roosevelt Offers Class On Social Movement.

9. Rahm's Crackdown Aims At Occupy.

"Is the Chicago mayor protecting his city? Or his former boss?"

10. AdBusters Calls For Mass Bank Withdrawals Before NATO/G8.

"There is something we can all do to set the stage for Occupy Chicago."

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:08 AM | Permalink

The Week in Chicago Rock

You shoulda been there.

1. Eluveitie at the Bottom Lounge on Thursday night.


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2. Outernational at Reggie's on Sunday night.

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3. The Summer Set at the Bottom Lounge on Wednesday night.

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4. Springa Sonic Droogs at the Mutiny on Wednesday night.

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5. He Is We at the Bottom Lounge on Wednesday night.

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6. Paradise Fears at the Bottom Lounge on Wednesday night.

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7. This Will Destroy You at Lincoln Hall on Wednesday night.

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8. Barcelona at the Double Door on Sunday night.

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9. Lenny Kravitz at the Chicago Theatre on Wednesday night.

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10. Suicide Clutch at Cuzin's in Tinley Park on Saturday night.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:21 AM | Permalink

The [Friday] Papers

Playing catch-up with the week's news.

Flak Attack
"Shaping public perceptions isn't as easy today as it was when planting a few stories in the right publications could do the trick," Lisa Bertagnoli wrote in Crain's this week in a story about Edelman PR.

You just can't plant stories like you used to!

Bertagnoli doesn't tell us how Edelman plants stories, of course, or if Crain's is one of the right publications. This isn't that kind of story. No one writes those kind of stories. Instead, journalists extol the industry whose work is the diametric opposite of their work - maybe to preserve the option to switch sides one day.

"Traditional media is losing influence, while the blogosphere is quick to punish those suspected of fakery. Indeed, Edelman got spanked in 2006 for Walmarting Across America, a faux blog written by a young couple traveling across the U.S. in an RV. Working Families for Wal-Mart, an organization set up by Edelman, financed the bloggers.

"The company learned its lesson, Mr. Edelman says."

Bertagnoli doesn't tell us what lesson that was. To not act deceptively? To not create astroturf organizations? To not get caught?

Bertagnoli also doesn't supply any links about the fiasco, so I will.

(Walmart/Edelman appears to have been successful in scrubbing Google of even the cached version of the site. Which is just more deception.)

Bertagnoli also ignores the rest of Edelman's dirty history, including their role in Walmart's sleazy - and ultimately successful - effort to break into the Chicago market.

Maybe what we really read this week, then, was Edelman simply planting a story in the right publication.

Race Space Case
"Headlines in the San Antonio Express and the Tampa Bay Times this week declared the nation's cities to be 'almost free of segregation.' USA Today reported that blacks were 'less segregated than ever before,'" Steve Bogira wrote for the Reader on Thursday. "The Sun-Times noted that while Chicago remained the nation's segregation capital, the city 'has experienced some of the sharpest declines' in the nation in big-city segregation in the last ten years.

"These rosy revelations stem from a new study, brightly titled The End of the Segregated Century, funded by the conservative Manhattan Institute. Many of the conclusions reporters have drawn from the study are exaggerated, and some are simply wrong."

Why does this not surprise me? We are not a competent profession.

"In a column Monday in Bloomberg View, one of the two authors of the study, Harvard economist Edward Glaeser, observed that while Chicago remains one of the "most segregated places" in America, 'the Windy City has experienced a particularly dramatic decline in segregation since 2000.'

"But the 'Windy City' in Glaeser's study is the Chicago-Joliet-Naperville metropolitan statistical area, Glaeser acknowledged in an e-mail to me. That includes all of Cook County, eight other Illinois counties, four counties in Indiana, and a county in Wisconsin - an area with a population of ten million. (Chicago's population is 2.7 million.) It is in this much broader area that the study found a significant drop in segregation."

And just in Chicago? Not so much.

Tourism Boorism
"Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced today that the city's tourism functions handled by the Chicago Office of Tourism and Culture, will be shifted to the private, nonprofit (but mostly tax-funded) Chicago Convention and Tourism Bureau, beginning immediately, with the change complete by this summer," Deanna Isaacs reported for the Reader on Wednesday. "CCTB president Don Welsh will head the combined group, which has a goal of raising the number of Chicago visitors by 25 percent (to 50 million annually). But don't hold your breath: the target date for reaching that goal is 2020."

But here's what really caught my eye:

"In addition to the goal of 50 million visitors per year by 2020, the City has set a goal to move into the top five cities for overseas visitation (Chicago currently ranks 10th in the nation); and a preliminary goal of expanding Chicago's market share among overseas visitors to the United States to 6 percent, from the 4.3 percent where it currently stands."

Chicago is only the 10th most visited destination for overseas travelers?

At least in 2010, yes.

The first nine: New York City, Los Angeles, Miami, San Francisco, Orlando, Las Vegas, the District of Columbia, Honolulu and Boston.

Chicago: Second to Nine!

Rahmetrics
"On Monday, Mayor Rahm Emanuel reluctantly acknowledged that while crime was down overall in Chicago in January, murder was up: there were 54 percent more murders this January than last," Bogira also wrote this week.

"What should we make of this? Not much. Murder rates rise and fall, and criminologists have tried forever to figure out what causes the changes, with minimal success. Moreover, when it comes to crime trends, a year shows very little, a month almost nothing.

"Which is why a crime-fighting boast by the mayor earlier this month was ludicrous."

And some media members ate it up. Click through to find out more.

Compare and Contrast
In this case, police forgot to mention in their report that the suspected offender was a police officer.

In this case, police remembered to note in their report that the suspected offender was related to Richard M. Daley.

Jersey Sneed
Sneed gigged Snooki on Thursday for mistakenly believing New Jersey Governor Chris Christie was running for president.

"This woman has the cranial capacity of a geranium," Sneed wrote.

Sneed's next item:

Puppy Poop
Alas, it's not a Corgi! Sneed can finally put a furry face to our recent tip Prince William and wife, Kate's (nee Middleton) new family addition was a puppy: a cocker spaniel rather than a traditional royal corgi.

So . . . you know . . .

Later, under the headline "Tips & Twaddle," she performs lapdog duty for Pat Quinn. I'll take Snooki if the third option is death.

*

Hey, give Snooki credit: The last poll I could find found that 70 percent of all voters either hadn't heard of Christie or were undecided about him.

Point Missed
"[Cook County State's Attorney Anita Alvarez] scoffed at the idea that she had anything to do with burying an investigation into the 2004 death of David Koschman during a drunken confrontation with a nephew of former Mayor Richard Daley," the Tribune reports. "Earlier this week, Alvarez's office opposed a request by Koschman's mother that a special prosecutor be appointed to look into the investigation into his death.

"'I could never have predicted that I would be accused of engaging in a political cover-up . . . to protect the nephew of our former mayor,' Alvarez said. 'Never mind that I did not know and have never met the person that I am accused of sacrificing my integrity to cover up (for).'"

ANITA! HELLO?

No one is necessarily accusing you of covering up the incident when it occurred; they are simply wondering why you so vehemently oppose an outside look at how the case was handled - a position at odds with what you said just last March.

Cook County State's Attorney Anita Alvarez asked the Illinois State Police on Thursday to investigate the Chicago Police Department's handling of a homicide case involving Richard J. "R.J." Vanecko, who's a nephew of Mayor Daley and White House Chief of Staff William Daley.

"I think there should be an independent police investigation," Alvarez said.

She pointed to a series of stories in the Chicago Sun-Times this month that raised questions about the police investigation into the violent death of David Kosch­man seven years ago.

What changed?

"I would welcome an independent agency looking into this, like the state police,'' Alvarez said, "basically to determine if it was a complete investigation and whether the witnesses' statements were accurately recorded . . .it is my belief that an independent investigation from a separate police agency is clearly warranted to ensure that we reach the truth in this case."

Of course, asking the Illinois State Police (!) to do the investigation called Alvarez's sincerity into question, and that idea was soon dispatched.

If Alvarez was a real civic leader, as anyone in her job ought to be though they rarely if ever have been, she would say this:

"While I have full confidence in the fine men and women of the Chicago Police Department and in the Cook County State's Attorney's Office, I nonetheless support an outside, independent investigation into the circumstances and investigation of David Koschman's death. I do so not to call into question the actions of anyone involved in law enforcement, but to settle the questions that have arisen surrounding the case so we can instill some measure of confidence in our criminal justice system. God knows, Cook County and Chicago don't have a perfect track record - and there are plenty of problems we are still ironing out. Improper influence - some call it clout - is a longstanding problem in our political culture and I want to make it absolutely clear that not only will it not be tolerated in my administration, but that we will happily comply with outside reviews of cases deemed worthy of new inspection by the courts."

*

And paging Joe Ferguson!

"[Alvarez] disclosed that she and City of Chicago Inspector General Joseph Ferguson are 'partners' in an 'ongoing investigation' of Koschman's death and how it was handled by the Chicago Police Department and the State's Attorney's office," the Sun-Times reported this week.

Huh?

Ferguson doesn't have jurisdiction to investigate the Cook County State's Attorney's Office, but what business does Alvarez have taking part in an investigation that may lead there anyway?

"That investigation 'involves non-public proceedings that have not yet concluded,' she wrote."

So a double-secret investigation.

"Alvarez criticized the Sun-Times' reporting, saying that during interviews with Inspector General Ferguson's office, 'several of the witnesses have given sworn statements directly refuting information they purportedly gave to the Sun-Times. In fact, a series of witnesses have testified what they said to the reporters was false.'"

Alvarez later announced she would investigate all witnesses whose stories didn't line up with the ones told by police until they got it right.

Lollapaschmooza
"After years of a free ride courtesy of a clout-laden deal, Lollapalooza might have to start paying Cook County taxes," the Tribune reports.

"Commissioners voted Wednesday to require organizers of events like the giant summer lakefront music festival to come to the County Board for approval of a long-running tax break.

"The organizers have had county and city amusement taxes waived since relaunching Lollapalooza in Grant Park in 2005. It was part of a deal brokered with the help of lobbyist Mark Vanecko - a nephew of then-Mayor Richard Daley."

*

The contract said "relative of Daley" on it, but Anita Alvarez says an independent investigation isn't necessary.

*

Jim DeRogatis has done the heavy lifting on this. Check out his remarkable reporting.

D'oh!
"Veteran Republican U.S. Rep. Judy Biggert will not face a March primary challenge in a newly drawn west and south suburban congressional district now that state elections officials have tossed would-be foes off the ballot," the Tribune reports

"The Illinois State Board of Elections' decision Thursday to remove John 'Jack' Cunningham from the 11th Congressional District ballot represented a political embarrassment: As Kane County clerk, he's the county's chief election official."

Mitt Rahmney
"Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel weighed in on the Republican presidential contest today, saying GOP front runner Mitt Romney may be 'too far removed' from the concerns of poor people," the Tribune reports.

"You have to be concerned about people in dire economic situations. While there is a safety net, it has been chopped at and hit at regularly," Emanuel said.

*

"Maybe Mr. Romney is a bit too far removed from the day-to-day concerns of people who live paycheck-to-paycheck."

Grand Slam
"Denny Jacobs, a former state senator, had a special ally last year when the state's largest electric utility company hired him to lobby for a controversial smart-grid energy bill that many say makes it easier for utilities to raise rates," the Chicago News Cooperative reports.

"His son, State Senator Mike Jacobs, chairman of the Senate Energy Committee, sponsored the bill and actively promoted the campaign of the Commonwealth Edison Company, one of his father's clients, to win its passage."

Oof.

"The smart grid legislation is one of several bills pushed by Senator Jacobs that benefited clients of his lobbyist father, a review of legislation by Medill Watchdog, a journalism program at Northwestern University, found. And Mike Jacobs is hardly the only Illinois public official supporting measures backed by close relatives.

"Medill Watchdog examined statements of economic interests of public officials, lobbying registrations filed with the City of Chicago, Cook County and the state, and records of state bills and local ordinances. The investigation found 14 elected officials from Cook County alone who, while not lobbyists themselves, are related to or in business with lobbyists.

"The review found more than a dozen instances in which an official took action that benefited the lobbying client of a family member or business partner."

But Anita Alvarez says she's conducted a private investigation and is quite satisfied that a further look isn't necessary.

The Week in Occupy Chicago
Preparing for the Chicago Spring.

The Week in Chicago Rock
They played at a venue near you. We have the video.

Honoring Angelo Dundee
A (Chicago) Tribute To The World's Greatest Cornerman.

The Beer Thinker
Tapping Lincoln Square.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: On tap.


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 4:22 AM | Permalink

The Beer Thinker: Tapping Lincoln Square

I am no beer expert. I do love to drink beer, many different kinds of beer, at all hours and under any conditions. I love trying new craft beers, and the fact that an exciting new craft beer scene is brewing (yep, I said it) here in Chicago has me just about bursting out of my skin.

I will admit, not that I need to after saying all that, to being a beer nerd. But, a beer expert I am not. I say this so that you know I'm not the guy who can accurately delineate every flavor of a particular beer from first taste to finish, or who can analyze the difference between the way one beer pours versus another, or who learns something valuable from a beer's head, or lack thereof, when poured.

I am the guy who still sometimes calls craft beers "microbrews," a habit which I think marks me as the 40-plus-year-old uncool guy I am.

However, I think I'm fairly representative of the modern beer drinker, someone with an abundance of interest and a distinct lack of formal beer education and expertise, but who knows what he likes, and will make the effort to seek it out rather than drinking Bud or Miller (except at the ball game, though even at The Cell and Wrigley these days, a craft beer lover doesn't have to slum it if he doesn't want to).

I say these things not in defense. There are plenty of beer experts out there - they don't need me. I say these things mainly just so you know where I'm coming from when I tell you what I did with my weekend.

This past Saturday, I took my enthusiastic, un-expert beer-drinking self, along with Brother Mike (not a beer-brewing monk, just my brother) to the first-ever Lincoln Square Winter Brew at the Dank Haus on Western Avenue, an event we apparently were incredibly lucky to get into, as it not only sold out but created an after-market demand for tickets (an increasingly common occurrence with craft beer events these days).

I was a little bit surprised at the diversity of the crowd - not the racial diversity because just about everybody was white - but that the crowd of more than 500 appeared to be close to 40 percent women. You go, girl. And though one local brewer observed in the Center Square Journal this week that half of the attendees probably have beer blogs, I got the sense that there was a broad mix of experts, eager drinkers well-informed about the local scene, and complete newbies. It was a well-behaved group, too, given that everyone spent four hours tossing back tastings of generally high-alcohol brews.

Those tastings were available in two different sizes, but it seemed like the vast majority of people were opting for the two-ouncers (cost: one ticket, or basically $1. Tix were available in rolls of 10 at the door or in advance, in addition to the $10 entry fee).

For the most part, however, those two-ounce tastings were being poured very generously, coming out more like four ounces or larger.

The Winter Brew brought together five local brewers presenting an interesting range of backstories:

Revolution Brewing - The one brewpub restaurant on the list. Started by former Goose Island (and Golden Prairie) brewer and Handlebar impresario Josh Deth, Revolution may have the longest list of brews among these five brewers, though Half Acre is catching up. The brewpub opened in 2010 amid great fanfare, and is set to open a new production facility on Kedzie north of Belmont.

Metropolitan Brewing - One of the landmark operations of the post-Goose Island craft scene, Metro was founded by Doug and Tracy Hurst in 2008 on the Ravenswood Industrial Corridor. Often mentioned in the same breath as its neighbor, craft distiller Koval, Metro is a production brewery by dint of not having a retail storefront or restaurant, but it does offer brewery tours.


Half Acre Beer Company - Either ingeniously or fortunately timed its evolution from a contract brewer to one with its own production facility in Chicago in early 2009. It also smartly chose to open a brewery in a neighborhood, North Center, with abundant foot traffic and a rapidly growing bar and restaurant scene that helps feed a Lincoln Avenue storefront where customers can get their growlers on.

5 Rabbit Cerveceria - Billed as the first Latin American-owned craft brewery in the U.S., 5 Rabbit has been turning out beers with culturally distinctive ingredients like ancho chilies and dulce de leche. Currently based on the Northwest Side, but reportedly planning a new facility on the South Side, 5 Rabbit also is known for having gained the involvement of nationally-known, Chicago-based beer expert Randy Mosher. 5 Rabbit, needless to say, is the only local brewery whose name derives from Aztec mythology.

Finch's Beer Co. - Like Metropolitan, another production brewery, located on Elston, north of Montrose. It was founded by marketing and branding expert Ben Finch of Killswitch Collective, who unlike many craft beer brewers didn't start out as a beer nerd himself, but recognized a hot business opportunity when he saw one. Finch built a huge retail distribution and tap list through aggressive use of social media well before it began rolling out kegs.

These brewers offered a range of samples to the Dank Haus on Saturday. I won't list all of them here, but I will list my favorites from the evening:

Revolution Barrel-Aged Black Power Stout - The program said it was aged in Woodford Reserve bourbon barrels, and unlike some other bourbon barrel-aged beers I've had, I could really taste that charred-wood flavor (a good thing). Also, one of the only stouts I've had that promises a chocolate cake flavor and actually delivers.

Revolution Bottom Up Wit: - White beers are not always favorites of mine, as the coriander and orange flavor mix seems much the same to me from one wit to another, but this one seemed especially citrusy and wheaty.

5 Rabbit Vida y Muerte - This marzan (think Oktoberfest) Day of the Dead tribute had an overtly honey taste to my buds. I don't know if I specifically tasted the dulce de leche aspect that has been much advertised, but there were a lot of different roasty and sweet aspects to this beer, so maybe I did.

Half Acre The Chairman - This specialty brew honored the 20th anniversary of Lumpen magazine. I've seen Half Acre beers all over town, but not this specific one. Some of the early HA beers didn't seem all that distinctive to me, but I would seek this one out. I would describe it as very malty, with a little bit of a sweet or burnt flavor - maybe both? It was 9.5% alcohol by volume, but very sneaky about it.

Metropolitan Flywheel Bright Lager - I don't know if I know what a lager is supposed to taste like anymore and generally don't seek them out, but this was really nice - lightly hoppy and . . . I have no idea what else, but it made me feel the same way I feel when I eat something that's been made to order with really fresh ingredients. Kind of seems like what a Bud or Miller wants to be, but definitely isn't.

Finch's Threadless IPA - A collaboration with the T-shirt company, this was very hoppy and had a good bitterness to it, but also had a low level citrus taste going on that made it very refreshing.

There were plenty more beers on tap Saturday, and if I didn't list something, it's not because I didn't like it. There were two beers I actually didn't like, but won't name them because I had previously had them both on tap elsewhere, and both had tasted better at that point, so I'm wondering if they just didn't travel well for this event.

On top of the local brewery tasting - literally, one floor up on the sixth floor of the Dank Haus - The Square Kegs Homebrew Club, who co-sponsored this whole event with the Lincoln Square Chamber of Commerce, held its own free tasting of five different homebrews. The best idea Brother Mike had all evening - possibly the best idea of his life - was to head upstairs for the homebrew tasting before we went back down to visit the brewery tastings on the fifth floor. The homebrews were rumored to be tapped out just two hours into the event.

The club probably should have better advertised what was being sampled, but I can say without greater detail that I was impressed with what we had. The guy who made the Belgian IPA in particular deserves a gold star. These brews definitely didn't taste like somebody's basement or bathtub, and who knows, maybe one of them will end up on tap around town one of these days, alongside Chicago's current craft kings.

Beer Buzz
Some recent headlines from the local craft beer scene:

* Goose Island Stout Fest is coming up on St. Patrick's Day. Hope you already got tickets, because by the time you're reading this it could be sold out.

* The Tribune last week documented the competitive nature of the limited-release craft beer seeker.

* Chi Town on Tap has the latest on a new distribution deal for New Chicago Beer Company.

* Chicagoist has an interview with Square Kegs founder Rich Forsythe.

-

Dan O'Shea was thinking about craft beer way too much for someone who wasn't writing about it. Now, he's writing about it. He welcomes your comments.

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1. From Brad Pausha, Square Kegs Homebrew Club:

Thanks for writing about our event. We appreciate all the support we have received. I am glad you enjoyed yourself and hope you can come to next years event.

And thank you for the complement on the Belgian IPA. It was the first time I made this recipe. Glad you enjoyed it!

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:10 AM | Permalink

February 2, 2012

The [Thursday] Papers

Worlds are colliding today, so no column. Here are a few other new offerings, though:

* Don Cornelius Was One Cool Cat: A lot is being written about the suicide of Soul Train conductor Don Cornelius, who grew up on the South Side, was once a Chicago police officer, and started the seminal show here at WCIU. I've gotten to maybe half of what I hope to read, though my interest now is less in the show's history, of which I'm pretty well-versed (and I watched a fair amount myself growing up; the visual of a young Chaka Khan doing "Tell Me Something Good" is still etched into my brainpan), but in the latter part of Cornelius's life and the depression that led to that self-inflicted gunshot.

Nonetheless, I aggregated a bit of what I thought stood out among the writings and constructed a brief narrative of sorts.

Oh, and this happened. Here's some video.

And here's some non-Tribune embeddable video:

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* Six More Years Of Shadowy Government!: Some of this is funny but I'm not sure the piece totally hits the mark overall. I just thought of it this morning when I saw some Groundhog Day news on the telly and wrote it up myself. These things are always better when they go through the Beachwood e-mail chain and together our team writes comedy.

For example:

Me to Beachwood Humor Committee:

"Exelon Energy officials say they've traced a power failure at a nuclear reactor in northern Illinois to an electrical insulator in a switchyard. The insulator failed Monday, causing one of the reactors at the Byron Generating Station to shut down automatically."

Dammit, Marty, I told you to fix that insulator!

Tim Willette reply:

Sorry, guys - I was trying to make it blow up, not shut down.

Well, it's funny to us.

(I thought about doing something with the State of the State, and I still might, but my attempt to read the transcript fell short. I mean, ugh. Is such an address really necessary anyway? Don't we all know what the state of the state is? Is it anything more than a political speech? It's not like legislators need to be told what's up. A total waste.

(Here was my tweet on it: "Quinn: State of the State is A) Lincolnesque B) Quinny C) Not as bad as it would be if Bill Brady got elected governor D) Bad unless u r CME")

* A Call To Bikers: Boycott The Chicago Motorcycle Show?: I went back and forth (I'm still not great about knowing when to use hyphens) on whether to post this. I'm not sure it's discrimination, unless the point is to keep bikers out and regular ol' motorcycle enthusiasts in. I guess that is the point being alleged. At the same time, I can see why not allowing colors at a motorcycle show could be a public safety precaution. So I added the question mark to the headline and included a counterpoint and some links. This is how the sausage gets made. (God, I hate that cliche.)

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Take the train.


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:09 AM | Permalink

Six More Years Of Shadowy Government!

Illinois Groundhog Punksthetaxpayers Phil saw his shadow this morning, portending the following:

* Six more years of corruption. Oh, who are we kidding? Six more decades of corruption.

* Six more lies a day out of City Hall.

* Six references to the Land of Lincoln in every Pat Quinn speech. Wait, six more references to the Land of Lincoln in every Pat Quinn speech.

* Six more ways for Rahm to blame the city's problems on teachers and librarians.

* Six years in solitary for Rod Blagojevich because he won't STFU in general population.

* Six more years of not knowing who hired Angelo Torres.

* Six more years of kinky Richard M. Daley deals. Just because he's not mayor doesn't mean he's gone away.

* Six more aldermen giving speeches on the council floor about how awesome Mister Rahm is jes fo lisnen'.

* Six more task forces for reform whose recommendations will be summarily ignored.

* Six more ways for the parking meter people to screw you.

* Six more clients for Ed Burke with blindingly obvious conflicts of interest.

* Six more clients for Michael Madigan with blindingly obvious conflicts of interest.

* Six more full deployments of the city's snowplow fleet at the rumor of a single snowflake spotted anywhere near Lake Shore Drive.

* Six more threats from hugely profitable corporations to leave the state if they don't get even more tax breaks.

* Six more hugely profitable corporations receiving even more tax breaks after threatening to leave the state.

* Six more weeks pension outrage stories. Oh, who are we kidding. Six more months. At least.

* Six more stories about college scholarships going to friends and family of legislators. Oh, who are we kidding. Six more months of stories about college scholarships going to friends and family.

* Six more ways for the Tribune editorial board to blame everything on public employees - including teachers and librarians.

* Six more ways for Illinois Senate President John Cullerton to illustrate how Democrats in this state are just the moderate wing of the state Republican Party.

* Six more excuses Cook County State's Attorney Anita Alvarez will conjure for opposing a special prosecutor in the Koschman case.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:21 AM | Permalink

Don Cornelius Was One Cool Cat

"Armed with sharp suits and a mesmerizing voice, Don Cornelius set out in 1970 to entertain viewers of Chicago's WCIU with a song-and-dance TV show called Soul Train," USA Today reports. "Turns out, America wanted in on the party.

"Cornelius, 75, died Wednesday at his home in Sherman Oaks, Calif., from a self-inflicted gunshot wound, the Los Angeles County coroner's office said."

Here's a collection of some of the best writing and reporting on Cornelius's life, death and legacy.

*

"Born on Chicago's South Side on Sept. 27, 1936, Mr. Cornelius had an early craving to go into broadcasting," the New York Times reports.

"He graduated from DuSable High School in 1954, did a stint in the Marine Corps and then returned to Chicago to marry a childhood sweetheart, Delores Harrison. They had two sons, Anthony and Raymond, who are among his survivors.

"In 1966, he gave up a career selling insurance and cars to take a three-month broadcast course, despite having young children to feed. With his deep baritone, he landed a job as a substitute disc jockey at WVON in Chicago and later as a sports anchor on the television program 'A Black's View of the News.' He produced the Soul Train pilot with $400 of his own money, taking the title from a road show he had created for local high schools.

"'Soul Train was developed as a radio show on television,' Mr. Cornelius told The New York Times in 1995. "It was the radio show that I always wanted and never had. I selected the music, and still do, by simply seeing what had chart success."

"He said the show was originally patterned on Dick Clark's American Bandstand, but with a focus on black music, fashion and dance. 'There was not programming that targeted any particular ethnicity,' he told The Associated Press in 2006. 'I'm trying to use euphemisms here, trying to avoid saying there was no television for black folks, which they knew was for them.'"

*

"Soul Train became the longest-running nationally syndicated show in history, airing from 1971 through 2006 becoming a staple in many Blacks homes, but more importantly breaking color barriers when it came to determining good music - not just acceptable music for Blacks," Popular Critic writes.

"Cornelius held down the hosting duties for most of that run before stepping away in 1993. He remained as the program's executive producer and expanded the brand into an annual awards show. The awards returned to the air in 2009 after a two-year hiatus.

"'I have known him since I was 19 years old and James Brown had me speak on Soul Train,' Rev. Al Sharpton said in a statement. 'We have maintained a friendship for the last 38 years. He brought soul music and dance to the world in a way that it had never been shown and he was a cultural game changer on a global level. Had it not been for Don Cornelius we would not have ever transcended from the Chitlin circuit to become mainstream cultural trendsetters.'"

*

"When this proud city welcomed back hometown hero Don Cornelius last year, it wasn't just Chicago-style - it was Soul Train style, complete with Afro wigs, bell bottoms and hip-shaking in the streets," AP reports.

"The 40th anniversary celebrations for Soul Train traced a remarkable journey for a former Chicago police officer who got his start in broadcasting when he pulled over a radio executive in a traffic stop and then had to build up his pioneering show one step at a time . . .

"While the South Side native and his show left Chicago decades ago for Los Angeles, his legacy has lived on here - in the 'Don Cornelius Way' street sign west of downtown, in the teens and performers who boogied onstage during the early days of Soul Train and in the audiences who were glued to their televisions every Saturday to see the newest dance moves and styles.

"To television viewers - especially those in Chicago - Cornelius was the epitome of cool. An impeccably dressed cat whose voice was as smooth as his demeanor and who rubbed elbows with the biggest stars in music and the most promising up-and-comers.

"Which is why Chicago Ald. Walter Burnett says it was so much fun to see Cornelius let his guard down last year when the city gave him an honorary street sign.

"'Don was just in rare form,' said Burnett, whose ward the sign is in. 'He just wanted to talk and talk and talk . . . He broke down because he was with his friends.'

"The sign is outside the studios of WCIU-TV, where Soul Train got its start in 1970. It began as a local program and aired nationally from 1971 to 2006."

*

"At our house, Soul Train was must-see TV because it was one of the only TV shows where you could count on seeing brown faces," Jenice Armstrong of the Philadelphia Daily News writes.

"Negroes, as we were called back then, would be dressed to the nines, wearing the hottest street fashions, huge afros, hot pants, wide-brimmed hats, platform shoes and maxi coats. Good thing fire never broke out in the Soul Train studio, because there would have been a polyester meltdown.

"For me, a black girl with practically no rhythm, Soul Train was my classroom, helping me navigate the social minefield of high school dances.

"On Saturdays, I'd study the Soul Train dancers and try my best to mimic their moves. With my siblings, in front of our old TV, you couldn't tell me I wasn't hip, as we'd bounce around doing the Click Clacks, the Shaft or Son of Shaft dances. If I had any edge at all as a teenager, I owe every bit of to Don Cornelius.

"Cornelius was one cool cat."

*

"Friends of Don Cornelius say the legendary creator of the long-running television show Soul Train was dealing with significant 'demons,'' and while they are saddened by his death, they say they aren't surprised he took his own life with a gunshot to the head," the Daily Beast reports.

"'Don was always a smart man, but in recent years he'd made a lot of poor choices in business and in his relationships with women,' said one friend of 30 years. 'He was swayed by a few people to invest in projects that didn't pan out and the last marriage in many ways destroyed his mind, heart and his soul. He was never the same after that marriage.'

"Some close to the smooth-voiced television host described a man hurt and distraught by bad business decisions, poor health, and an ugly divorce that took hundreds of thousands of dollars from his children and other family members."

*

The Hippest Trip in America.

*

See also:
* The 10 Best Soul Train Line Dances.
* The Soul Train YouTube channel.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:32 AM | Permalink

A Call To Bikers: Boycott The Chicago Motorcycle Show?

Uploaded to YouTube by CHGOTHNDER on Feb. 1, 2012

"The Chicago Chapter of A.B.A.T.E. of Illinois asking EVERYONE to BOYCOTT the Chicago Motorcycle Show. They have a "NO COLORS" Policy...NO COLORS NO BIKERS!"


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Counterpoint:

"Many places and/or public events have decided on a no colors rule policy (pressured into it by the man). The reason for this, in their opinion, is that it will cut down on violence and the intimidating of the general public. When someone wears an item that shows membership or support of one group and someone else wearing an item from another group that is similar but has a different point of view meet in the same location then who knows what will happen. The perception of a person, by the general public, will also change once he/she is identified as belonging to or associating with a group. This can, sometimes, cause people to feel intimidated especially if there is more than one person from the same group. It is because of this I agree no colors should be worn in public."

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See also:
* A similar call to action that worked.
* ABATE Illinois
* The Chicago Chapter of ABATE
* Chicago Motorcycle Show
* The International Motorcycle Show hits Rosemont the following weekend.

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Comments welcome.

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1. From Skully:

You talk about a safety problem? You probably have more fights at a crosstown Cubs-Sox game than you have at a motorcycle show. How would you like to be told you can't wear a Sox shirt at a Cubs game - ya know, safety concerns.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:01 AM | Permalink

February 1, 2012

Shit People From Chicago Heights Never Say

I was thinking we should move to Steger.


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See also: Workout Music's YouTube channel.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 5:36 AM | Permalink

In My Hood

Everybody out here starvin'.


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See also: KID's YouTube channel.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 4:58 AM | Permalink

The [Wednesday] Papers

"Cook County State's Attorney Anita Alvarez is fighting a mother's request for a special prosecutor to re-examine the homicide of her only child, who died from injuries he suffered during a drunken confrontation with a nephew of then-Mayor Richard M. Daley," the Sun-Times reports.

"Alvarez argued Tuesday she has no conflict of interest to disqualify her from re-investigating the violent death of David Koschman - even though she still employs Darren O'Brien, the assistant state's attorney who determined nearly eight years ago that there was insufficient evidence to charge Daley nephew Richard J. 'R.J.' Vanecko."

Let us now review:

"Newly obtained Chicago Police reports show Detective Ronald Yawger 'arranged interview w/Victim's friends & ASA' on May 18, 2004. That 'ASA' was Assistant State's Attorney and Felony Review chief Darren O'Brien. It is amazing that the state's attorney's office has not one record of it - especially because O'Brien would personally interview witnesses two days later."

Back to today's story:

"The county's top prosecutor also vehemently defended her office's actions to date, saying there has never been enough evidence to convict Vanecko - or anyone else - in Koschman's death."

Case closed!

*

Believe what Anita says, not what the Sun-Times reports.

"'Remarkably, and without question, the petition apparently accepts as true all of the hearsay statements printed in the Sun-Times articles, even though no proof exists that the portions of the statements published in the Sun-Times are themselves accurate or complete,' according to Alvarez's motion, filed by four of her top assistants: Jack Blakey, Alan Spellberg, Michael Golden and John Mahoney."

As opposed to our statements, which are complete and truthful and don't require scrutiny.

"In more than two dozen articles published since Feb. 28, the Sun-Times found problems with the way Koschman's death was investigated, including that Chicago Police and the State's Attorney's office had lost case files.

"Alvarez said those missing files wouldn't have changed the outcome of the case."

According to her new chief adviser.

"She noted the police found the 'original' file this past summer - months after they closed the case without charging anyone."

So the police "lost" the file during the initial investigation, then couldn't find it when they re-opened the case last year but declared everything hunky-dory anyway, then found the file a few months later. Yeah, nothing suspicious there!

"Alvarez downplayed her office's failure to find any of its files on the case involving Vanecko.

"'While the Sun-Times has written several inflammatory articles proclaiming the troubling nature of the missing 'file' from felony review, they have never once explained what such a folder would actually contain, or what significance that fact may or may not possess,' she wrote."

That's your job! Please tell us what kind of information is typically included in a felony review file. And why do you put quotes are around the word file? Is it a virtual file? A fake file?

"Given its content and purpose, the loss of the felony review folder in this matter is not important."

Okay, my understanding is that the office never loses felony review files, and to do so is quite serious. So please enlighten us further, Anita.

Meanwhile, the Sun-Times points out that its reporting found:

* That one of the two bystanders said it was a "flat-out lie" when prosecutors claimed all the witnesses said that the 5-foot-5, 140-pound Koschman had been the aggressor in the confrontation with the 6-foot-3, 230-pound Vanecko.

* Two Koschman friends said they never told detectives some of the things the police say they did.

"But Alvarez criticized the Sun-Times' reporting, saying that during interviews with Inspector General Ferguson's office, 'several of the witnesses have given sworn statements directly refuting information they purportedly gave to the Sun-Times. In fact, a series of witnesses have testified what they said to the reporters was false."

Did they ask for a correction? Complain to the paper? Are the interviews on tape? If I was misquoted in a story like this or my statements falsely portrayed, I'd be looking for a payday.

Alvarez seems amazingly incurious, meanwhile, about the squishy behavior of key witnesses.

"The Sun-Times also revealed that one of Vanecko's friends, Kevin D. McCarthy, had lied to the police - twice - about what happened the night of the confrontation, denying that he and his wife knew Vanecko. Alvarez acknowledged McCarthy lied."

Isn't that obstruction of justice? Or do you have to be an Occupier to get charged with that?

"Vanecko's friends refused to be interviewed by police last year. It's unclear whether Ferguson's investigators or Alvarez's staff have ever talked to Vanecko's friends. Vanecko has never spoken to the police."

Vanecko has never spoken to police. Vanecko has never spoken to police. Vanecko has never spoken to police. I just want that to sink in.

Now pretend you are David Koschman's mother, Nanci. And Anita Alvarez has just filed a motion in court opposing the appointment of a special prosecutor in the case of your son's death - I mean, what's the harm? - and told you missing files don't matter and the Sun-Times is lying about its reporting.

And police have never interviewed the man who - surely by accident but quite possibly by arrogance as well - killed your kid. And that man, now living in California, was the mayor's nephew.

Just imagine.

*

"Oral arguments are scheduled for March 6 before Judge Michael Toomin, who will make the decision whether to appoint a special prosecutor," the Tribune notes.

I added that Toomin link. It was super easy.

Back To The Future
"It makes me want to invent a Time Machine, so that House Speaker Michael Madigan, our current boss hog and chief of the Illinois Democratic Party, could live in those earthy times," John Kass writes for the Tribune.

"Madigan would have gone into the long-straw business so people could drink. And then, he'd probably vote to increase the Long Straw Tax, and install his friends as State Straw Measurers, before going into business to reduce the straw tax for rich Republican straw-holders."

Regular Joe
"Chicago Ald. Joe Moore said he didn't want to be 'presumptuous' that Gov. Pat Quinn soon could be naming him the new director of the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency," the Tribune reports.

"But as the 49th Ward alderman worked the hallway behind the Illinois Senate chambers today, he lobbied for support from the very lawmakers who would need to confirm him. 'If,' as Moore noted, the governor makes the appointment official."

Oh hello, Senator, I love your work! I've always been a big fan!

"As Moore has eyed the IEPA job, his wife, Barbara Moore, is being talked about to succeed him as alderman."

Wouldn't such an appointment be up to, um, Rahm Emanuel?

Why, yes!

*

(It ain't so, Joe.)

In My Hood
Everybody out here starvin'.

Neither Chicago Baseball Team Has . . .
. . . A Top 10 Player.

Vomiting
A found poem.

Shit People From Chicago Heights Never Say
Including "I'm thinking we should move to Steger".

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The Beachwood Tip Line: An independent prosecution.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 4:28 AM | Permalink

Found Poem: Vomiting

Vomiting

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

"Emesis" redirects here. For the butterfly genus, see Emesis (genus).

"Heaving" redirects here. For the up-and-down motion, see Heave.

"Puke" redirects here. For the district in Albania, see Pukë District. For the town in Albania, see Pukë.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 4:11 AM | Permalink

Fantasy Fix: Neither Chicago Baseball Team Has A Top 10 Player; The Detroit Tigers Have Three

I'm taking a preliminary crack at my fantasy baseball top 10 overall players. I'll start positional rankings next week.

1. Matt Kemp, OF, LAD: I'm still not completely okay with Kemp as my No. 1, and I have no idea why, since he led the NL in home runs (39) and RBIs (126) last season and was No. 2 overall in batting average (.324) and No. 5 in stolen bases (40). I think I'm leery because he had a crappy 2010 after a great 2009. Anyway, he's No. 1 for now.

2. Miguel Cabrera, 1B/3B, DET: The Prince Fielder trade concerns me a little if position anxiety gets to Cabrera, but off-the-field problems last spring didn't stop him from having a great 2011. Plus, batting before or after a great lefty slugger will keep pitchers from pitching around Miggy.

3. Albert Pujols, 1B, LAA: Big risk putting him this high, but I like that he landed in the AL. He failed to collect 100 RBIs and a .300 average for the first time in his amazing career last season, which I think worries people, but considering he missed both marks by the slimmest of margins (99 RBIs, .299 average), I'm not ready to panic.

4. Joey Votto, 1B, Cincinnati: Took a small step back from his 2010 MVP season last year, but should be a good bet for 30 HRs, 100 RBIs and a .300-pluss average. He'll really earn this spot if he runs more, putting up something closer to the 16 SBs he had in 2010 than the eight in 2011.

5. Clayton Kershaw, SP, LAD: How did the Dodgers only manage 82 wins with both Kemp and Kershaw? Has a strong chance to again lead the NL in wins, strikeouts and ERA, and the real key is he'll turn just 24 in March.

6. Prince Fielder, 1B, DET: I'm not convinced his HR totals will suffer much in this pitchers' park, since Comerica's most batter-friendly feature is its right-field line distance of 330 ft. Right field in Milwaukee is deeper than that.

7. Jacoby Ellsbury, OF, BOS: Only Ellsbury could have an MVP-like year but have fantasy owners disappointed about 39 SBs (considering he had 70 two years earlier). Might not be wise to look for another 32 HRs out of him, but he's easily the AL's best fantasy outfielder.

8. Justin Verlander, SP, DET: Three Tigers in my top 10, and Verlander easily could have been higher. I'm just a little cautious about expecting another 24-win, 250-strikeout season.

9. Roy Halladay, SP, PHI: The Philly flop in the playoffs is no reason to be concerned about Mr. Consistency, who should flirt with 20 wins again and get his share of complete games.

10. Robinson Cano, 2B, NYY: His batting average dropped from .319 to .302, but RBIs were up from 109 to 118, and his 81 hits for extra bases is tops at his position.

Just missed the top 10: Adrian Gonzalez, 1B, BOS; Jose Bautista, 3B/OF, TOR; CC Sabathia, SP, NYY; Ian Kennedy, SP, ARI.

Expert Wire
* Razzball lists the top 20 fantasy starting pitchers. Halladay gets top honors.

* Rotoworld also ranks the top starters, with Verlander coming in at No. 1.

* CBSSports.com features its top 300 players, with Kemp at No. 4 and Cabrera at No. 1. I can't say I disagree all that much.

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Send your comments to Disco Danny O'Shea.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 3:47 AM | Permalink

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