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« February 2013 | Main | April 2013 »

March 31, 2013

First Rahm Came For . . .

First Rahm came for the public health system and I did not speak out
Because I do not use the public health system.

Then Rahm came for the public libraries, and I did not speak out
Because I do not use public libraries.

Then Rahm came for the public schools, and I did not speak out
Because I do not send my kids to public schools.

Then Rahm came for me
Said no rich person ever.

-

Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:29 AM | Permalink

March 30, 2013

The Weekend Desk Report

No clever jokes here. Just some good, old-fashioned gloating.

Market Update
With market indices at all-time highs despite a profound international crisis, some analysts feel many stocks are arbitrarily overvalued. Oh well, it beats being arbitrarily undervalued.

Fire Fest
In a signal that time truly does heal all wounds, the City of Chicago has announced a new riverfront festival based on the purgative power of the Great Fire of 1871. Which leads us to wonder, is it too soon to launch civic celebrations based on the following historical tragedies?

Burn Out
Of course, fire isn't the only way to clear-cut a neighborhood. You could always let a culture of corruption erode even the most fundamental city services, leaving no alternative but a radical reorganization. Shuttering schools is a great way to start.

-

The Weekend Desk Tip Line: Clearly cutting.

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Weekend Sports Special: Letter From St. Louis: Letter From Spring Training.

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The Sound Opinions Weekend Listening Report: "This week, Jim and Greg let the sports metaphors fly. They celebrate baseball's Opening Day by running down musical Grand Slams: Four knockout albums in a row. Plus, have New Yorkers The Strokes hit it out of the park on album number five, Comedown Machine?"

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The Flying Saucer Weekend Brunch Report: Flying Saucer will be closing at 2 p.m. on Easter Sunday, at which time staff will enjoy the ritual slaughter of the lamb cake.

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The CAN TV Weekend Viewing 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.

Perspectivas Latinas: Being Raised in Bicultural Families

3-25-BiculturalFamilies.jpg

Chicagoans provide insight into what it's like to grow up in a bi-racial family and how their experiences inform who they are today.

Saturday at 7:30 p.m. on CAN TV21.

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Not About Bombs

Commemorating the 10-year anniversary of the Iraq War and National Women's History Month, the National Veterans Art Museum presents an exhibition of works by five Iraqi women using art to address nationality and conflict, expectation and representation.

Exhibit Tour

3-25-NABExhibition.jpg

A look at the works of five Iraqi women artists, Sundus Abdul Hadi, Tamara Abdul Hadi, Julie Adnan, Dena Al-Adeeb and Sama Alshaibi.

Sunday at 9 a.m. on CAN TV21.

Watch online.

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Panel Discussion

3-25-NABPanel.jpg

Panelists discuss the power of art to clarify and complicate the identity of the "other" during a conflict, as the works of Iraqi artists invite viewers to consider Iraqis as independent, complex people.

Sunday at 9:30 a.m. on CAN TV21.

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New Models of Worker Representation

3-7-NewModelsofWorkersm2.jpg

AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka discusses alternative paths workers are taking to self-organize.

Sunday at 10:30 a.m. on CAN TV21.

Watch online

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Hyperlocal: The Brave New World

3-25-Hyperlocal.jpg

Editors provide insight into the hyperlocal outlets that are redefining the news landscape and providing opportunities for companies and organizations to connect with consumers on the local level.

Sunday at noon on CAN TV21.


Posted by Natasha Julius at 9:11 AM | Permalink

Letter From St. Louis: Letter From Spring Training

"I went to the desert because I wished to watch games deliberately, to front only the essential facts of baseball, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I die, discover that I had not lived."
-Henry David Thoreau, if he were a Cubs fan

I left St. Louis on a cold, dark evening last week and arrived in the blast furnace known as the Valley of the Sun. Maybe "blast furnace" is too strong a term - that phrase is not used in Phoenix until May at the earliest, but the next two days delivered high temperatures, clear skies and the opportunity to take in some Cubs spring training baseball.

sprgtickets.jpg

Was I up to the task?

I had come to the desert to take in Cubs' games at Camelback Ranch in Glendale and HoHoKam Park in Mesa. This was my second visit to the Phoenix area, but my first-ever trip for spring training. I am going all in this year, commemorating my first year of owning Cubs season tickets. Also, I wanted to see this year's crop of new and old talent on display, and - more importantly - to scratch an itch that I have had for years.

There are two things I discovered out in the desert. The first is this: Spring training baseball means nothing. The stats and standings are empty numbers, because they are automatically reset on Opening Day. They are indicators, to be sure, but they never tell the complete truth and they cannot be relied upon - sort of like a teenager.

The players, of course, need the practice, and they need to be put through the simulated game action. They have to attend daily meetings, they warm-up and they stretch, and there is the sense that something is actually on the line in the Baseball Universe. But just about everybody in Arizona knows bette; in reality, this is the expensive alternative to seeing Triple-A baseball.

The second thing I learned is this: A man who is married and has children makes for a terrible reporter when when turned loose on a 60-hour baseball jag with two of his closest friends. At least in the literal sense of the word, anyway.

Some of the details have gotten lost along the way, so I have had to collect and assemble the bits and pieces of last weekend like a tailor would assemble a fine garment. I am grateful that I had my smartphone with me, because that indispensable bit of technology allowed me to reconstruct the weekend through the photos I took, the texts I sent and received, and the tweets I posted. From these pieces of evidence (as well as some official game stats) I have almost completely remembered my trip and why I went to Phoenix in the first place.

Let's start with this shocking factoid: The city of Phoenix measures exactly 517.948 square miles. This means that the city of Phoenix is twice the size of Chicago and more than eight times the size of St. Louis. Christ! So everything is spread out, as you can well imagine. Here's what I could not figure out while I was there, nor can I figure out now that I am home: How the hell is everything in Phoenix 45 minutes apart?! Everywhere you go is a 45-minute ride. Gas? Groceries? Mesa? Glendale Restaurants? Airport? They are all 45 minutes away. Like Clooney said in O Brother, Where Art Thou?, "Isn't this place some sort of geographical oddity!"

Also, everything in Phoenix looks like a Sergio Leone movie. Seeing as he directed the greatest spaghetti western of all time, I am breaking the weekend down to three categories: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly.

The Good

Cactus League Baseball: The weather is warm and predictable, the stadiums are close by. Fifteen of the 30 MLB teams call this area home for spring training, making it easy to see game after game of baseball. It doesn't matter one lick, as I said before, what a team's record is coming out of the desert. But spring training in the Cactus League reminds you that everyone starts fresh and everyone is in first place on Opening Day. Spring training lets you know that winter is finally over and the baseball season is just around the corner.

Camelback Ranch: Spring training home of the White Sox and Dodgers. Newer stadium, parking included with your ticket. The famed Dodger Dog is available for sale here, but doesn't compare with a pure Vienna beef Chicago dog. Good sight lines and overall a nice place to take in a game.

camel2.jpg

-

HoHoKam Park: The Cubs have played spring training in Mesa since 1952, with HoHoKam their desert home for the last 33 years. They are constructing a new facility to be known as Wrigley West nearby, marking this as HoHoKam's last go for the Cubs. I am glad to have been able to see a game here. HoHoKam is a nice park; comfortable, broken in. A good place for a Cubs fan to take in a game, down a few Old Styles, and remember - once again - that the standings just don't matter.

hohokam.jpg

-

Future Star Javier Baez: This kid had a tremendous spring. He is being sent to the minors for more seasoning, but it's nice to know that someone like this is in the organization. A future star? Definitely, and if his glove can match his bat, the Cubs will have found another cornerstone to build on. He hit two homers against the Royals following two the day before in an unofficial game against Japan. After his second homer last Saturday - a monster - he had hit four homers on his previous seven pitches. Good news? We know he can hit the fastball. Bad news? Every opposing pitcher knows it now, too.

Latest Cuban Defector Jorge Soler: Big, strong kid, one of the ones I wanted to get a look at this spring. He is trying to show why he was the top prospect out of Cuba behind Yoenis Cespedes. Epstein and Hoyer took a significant gamble in signing Soler to a nine-year contract, but if it pays off, the Cubs will be sitting pretty. Lived up to his billing in the field, making a nice grab last Saturday's game, but looked like he was swinging for the fences on every at-bat. Was he trying to match the power that was on display that day? Possibly, but he still ended up with a double and an RBI. Sent to the minors as well for more seasoning, and we will have to see what happens down the road. Next year? This year? Who knows . . .

New Cubs: Part of spring training is welcoming the new crop of players, and seeing them in uniform and in action. I was glad to see new names like Feldman, Jackson, Schierholtz, Fujikawa and Hairston. Can they play? Sure, they all have resumes. Will they help this team win? Are they trade bait? Who knows? But for now, they are good players without huge contracts, so they are shrewd investments.

Old Cubs: Seeing existing players in uniform and in action. I was glad to have Gold Glover Darwin Barney and Starlin Castro defending the middle of the infield. Rizzo was back after his WBC hiatus. Soriano - still one of my favorites - was in left and strong at the plate.

Guacamole and Negro Modelos at La Barrios Cafe: Holy guacamole! Maybe the best I've ever had. Consistently rated one of the best Mexican joints - if not the best - in Phoenix, and I can believe it.

negra.jpg

La Barrios wall art.

barrio.jpg

-

When in Rome: Old Styles in the desert. In 40 years of wandering, Moses himself could not find a beverage that so perfectly quenched a thirst.

The Sounds Of Silence: The Cubs' game against the White Sox was broadcast by WGN, but since I was in Arizona, I did not have to hear Hawk Harrelson yapping at me the whole game. Thank heaven for small favors.

The Cubs Put On A Hitting Clinic Against The Royals: Veteran KC pitcher Bruce Chen was fighting for a spot in the starting rotation, so he was actually trying to get batters out. The Cubs shelled him. David DeJesus set the tone by leading off the game with a homer.

The Bad

Local Time: Arizona has some sort of hatred for daylight savings. Even though they are Mountain Standard Time, they are two hours off CST for half the year and one hour difference the other half. Screwed up philosophy, and it screws you up mentally.

clock.jpg

-

The Best Of The Worst: The best Mexican food I could find after the first night of over-indulging was Jack in the Box. I am so ashamed.

Plate Discipline: Against the White Sox, it looked like the Cubs were giving away at-bats. Dale Sveum says that won't be the case this year, but this game gave me no indication of that. Hitting coach James Rowson may have his work cut out for him.

Free Parking At HoHoKam: HA! It doesn't exist.

Cup Of Coffee: Disappointed to not have the chance to see Albert Almora while he was in Mesa for his cup of coffee. If he is going to be a cog in this machine, and there is reason to believe he will, I was hoping to at least get a glimpse. Now he's nursing a wrist injury and will be out until May at the earliest.

The Ugly

Valley Of The Sun: We set a record for high temp that first day, hitting 92 degrees on the thermometer. Warm, to say the least. At least we had SPF Irish sun screen and plenty of cold beer. Never too early to complain about the heat.

Carlos Marmol: I love the potential that Carlos Marmol has. I love that when he is on his game, he is virtually unhittable. Unfortunately, he has not been on his game for some time. Even though he threw a 1-2-3 inning against the Royals to close out the game we saw, he gave up six in the ninth a week later in a tight game. If he doesn't find the mojo he lost two years ago, it could be another brutal season for him.

White Sox Kicking Our Ass: Unbelievable. Scott Feldman looked like he was throwing BP - no heat, no curves, no breakers. Cubs lost to the White Sox 15-3, giving my buddy - a Sox fan - bragging rights on the day. Ouch.

Question: What is worse than a Sox fan with bragging rights? Answer: Nothing.

*

So I hereby proclaim spring training baseball to be a good thing. Yes, the stats are meaningless. Yes, some of the names are entirely forgettable and will soon be entirely forgotten. And yes, there is a "quasi" baseball element to the whole thing. But this is what I love the most: The Promise.

There is a promise, an inimitable baseball law stating that spring training leads to Opening Day, which leads to summer. Soon, I will be taking in Cubs games here in St. Louis and from my bleacher seats in the Friendly Confines of Wrigley Field. Last year will be just a bad memory. The past 104 seasons will only be a footnote, and the Cubs will start the 2013 season in first place.

-

Previously:
* Letter From St. Louis: Stan Was Truly The Man.
* Letter From St. Louis: Behind Enemy Lines.

-

Dan Sheahan is our man in St. Louis. He welcomes your comments.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:56 AM | Permalink

March 29, 2013

The [Friday] Papers

I'll be commentating on Twitter and Facebook throughout the weekend, as usual, but a column just isn't going to happen today. Energy sapped.

So I'm gonna make like the Love Boat and cruise.

Make like a tree and leave.

Make like a baby and head out.

(If it's a breach birth, butt out.)

(If it's a cesarean, cut it out.)

We do have a couple new posts today:

* A CPS Student's Green Screen Adventure.

* The Week In Chicago Rock.

And highly recommended in case you missed them yesterday:

* Golden: A Poem About Chicago Violence.

* Chicago Youth: A Poem About . . .

Watch for light sporadic posting through the weekend; Natasha Julius returns tomorrow with The Weekend Desk Report.

*

Observation: Rahm Emanuel and Barbara Byrd-Bennett act like they've just gotten to Chicago and they're the first ones to discover CPS is a mess when the mayor's pals have been running the show for 20 years while parents and teachers have been begging for textbooks and air conditioning. To scornfully wonder where those opposed to their school closings plan have been this whole time is to express an ignorance - or political cynicism - that is astonishing and amazingly counterproductive.

It reminds me of this Facebook exchange I had with CPS communications chief Becky Carroll in 2011, edited only for space and relevance:

CARROLL: I wake up everyday knowing that I am doing something to help make our public education system better for our students. Can [you] say that?

RHODES: Is your commitment to CPS students or to your political patrons? Personally, I don't think CPS students will benefit from your boss' policies. So yes, I think I'm working on their behalf every day.

CARROLL: [B]ottom-line is that our students are in a desperate situation - I think that u are woefully uninformed about how bad our students have it. 7.9% of our 11th graders tested college ready. so what should we do steve? sit on our ass and let the status quo continue because it's worked so well over the last 20 years?

RHODES: I think you are woefully uniformed about what I have been writing about our schools for many years, which is that the PR put forth by the Daley administration was total bullshit. Where have you and Rahm been on that? Weren't we told all these years that improved schools were [one] of Daley's greatest legacies? Hell, Arne Duncan is Barack Obama's education secretary! Now it turns out he did a crappy job! So I've been there from the start. You?

CARROLL: I'm not aware of how much you've been writing about cps and how f-Ed up it's been. im happy to hear that u have because believe me not enough folks have done so. I don't think u r going to find us saying that things have been done well during the Daley years, believe me. it's not 100 percent bad news, but it's very clear that strategies in the past, no matter how well intended, have not boosted student achievement. grad rates, college readiness, achievement gap, etc. especially with African American kids. it's unforgivable how bad it is and I never realized how bad it was till I got here.

*

Until she got here? She's a graduate of CPS!

And she worked for Daley, including in his press office!

Which, curiously, you don't see here.

(Her tenure working for Rod Blagojevich, where she served as "deputy Chief of Staff for budget policy and as the chief spokesperson for the budget in the Governor's Budget office," is also missing.)

So yes, I think we all know who the Johnny-come-latelies are.

And their arrogance is, well, I've already used the word astonishing, but it's the kind of half-informed confidence and zeal of yuppies with wrecking balls who leave lasting damage in their wake, felt long after they move on to greener political pastures.

*

Just the latest fact-based argument: CBS2 Chicago: Study: School Closings Won't Help CPS Students.

*

And if you don't like that study, here's another one, as the New York Times reports:

"In the 100 schools that have closed in Chicago since 2001, 88 percent of the students affected were black. Over all, black students make up 42 percent of the city schools enrollment.

"It is not clear that students displaced from shuttered schools end up attending better ones. In one study by the Consortium on Chicago School Research at the University of Chicago of 38 schools closed between 2001 and 2006, the researchers found that only 6 percent of the students who were originally enrolled in schools that closed were sent to academically strong schools."

But CPS is going to invest in all sorts of neat things at the receiving schools!

That's what they always say.

"[Researcher Stephanie] Farmer said the school under-use rationale for closing schools is right out of the playbook of pro-charter school organizations like the Broad Foundation, of which Schools CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett is a disciple," CBS2 reports.

CPS students will not suddenly be riding unicorns to their new pleasure palaces.

"When Michelle Rhee told D.C. school residents that she, as chancellor of public schools in the nation's capital, was closing 23 under-enrolled schools, she promised that a lot of money would be saved that could be plowed back into academic programs in remaining schools," Valerie Strauss writes in the Washington Post. "It didn't happen; an audit years later found that the closings actually cost the city $40 million."

The district won't save money and won't improve academic performance. It will devastate neighborhoods and provide a political talking point for our "tough" mayor.

At least that's what the facts overwhelmingly suggest.

*

I guess that's a column after all.

The [Thursday] Papers
"If 61 percent of the city's youth are graduating from high school, but among African-American adolescent males, it's 44 percent, but you do nothing, what does that say?" Emanuel said. "Is that enlightened? Is that progressive?"

Is Rahm for real? So many questions.

Who is advocating doing nothing?

Teachers and parents have cried for even just a share of the resources that the University of Chicago Lab schools use to educate Rahm's kids.

Is Rahm suggesting that Richard M. Daley did nothing all these years?

Rahm has been a close political ally of Daley for years. Did he ever say anything?

Did Paul Vallas, Ron Huberman, Terry Mazany and Jean Claude-Brizard do nothing all these years?

And what of Arne Duncan, who did such a great job he was promoted by Barack Obama to U.S. Secretary of Education. Rahm, you were the president's chief of staff at the time, did you ever ask Duncan why he never did anything?

Is it possible that the schools aren't to blame for the impovershed conditions so many African-Americans males grow up in?

Perhaps the city has disinvested in the poorest neighborhoods and closing schools there will only make it worse. Wouldn't it make more sense to build neighborhoods instead of destroying them?

The Great Financial Scandal wiped out the economy and left much of the South and West Sides in foreclosure. Do your Wall Street pals share any of the blame and responsibility for deteriorating conditions in our city?

Perhaps, then, it would be fair to shore up the budget through a relatively miniscule financial transactions tax.

Is closing 54 schools enlightened and progressive? Only on Planet Orwell.

Decidedly not. See The Rahmney Plan For Schools.

*

"Emanuel acknowledged the closing of scores of neighborhood schools will be 'tough' on parents and students. But he said kids will ultimately end up attending better schools, even if they have to travel farther to get to them."

Yeah, the research doesn't really back that up: "81% Of Displaced Students Moved To Schools Just As Bad, Worse."

But then, this administration creates its own reality.

*

See also the item Rahm's Wrong Again. Hint: Facts aren't his friend.

*

The Real Problem With Rahm's School Reforms. Hint: Claims counter to the facts.

*

Two Visions For Chicago's Schools. Hint: Teachers' vs. Rahm's.

*

Meanwhile, Barbara Byrd-Bennett repeated to Chicago Tonight last night that her actions couldn't possibly be racist because, well, look at her! She's black!

Is that why the school closings were announced when Rahm was in Utah? To put a black woman out front to blunt just such charges? So the video the national news networks had didn't show Rahm making the announcement?

Duh.

Of course no one thinks you got up in the morning, as you imagined to marginalize your critics, and thought to target people of color. But if you don't know better than to think that's what you're being accused of, you aren't qualified to hold your job.

Racism is an effect of institutional policies that does not require bigotry as a motive.

*

"Performance has nothing to do with our utilization plan."

     - Barbara Byrd-Bennett, Nov. 27, 2012

*

See also:

Save Lafayette: Poor Humboldt Park elementary school's orchestra is something to build on, not destroy.

Global Views Of The School Closings Protest: The whole world wasn't watching, but some of it was.

Chicago Youth: Abandoned: School? For what? These children have already been left behind.

Golden: A Poem About Chicago Violence: Drastically snatched from my reality, my golden ray of sunshine died. Father told me this was just the way the world worked.

-

More commentary following Wednesday's performance as well as some media criticism can be had on our Twitter feed.

-

And from the Beachwood toy department today: Fantasy Fix: The Top 20 Starters & Relievers.

-

The Beachwood Tip Line: Addition, not subtraction.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:47 AM | Permalink

A CPS Student's Green Screen Adventure

WCIU, The U is proud to announce that Green Screen Adventures is featuring the work submitted by Jeremie McLaurin from Jose de Diego Community Academy located in Chicago, Illinois.

Jeremie wrote "I'm Scared Of," which will air on Green Screen Adventures on Sunday, April 7 at 7 a.m. on Me-TV.

Green Screen Adventures, the nationally award-winning children's television show, selects writing and illustrations by students and brings them to life using story theatre, game shows, and puppetry.

To wit:


Me-TV can be seen on WCIU-TV 26.3, XFINITY 223/357, RCN 14, WOW 17/19, AT&T U-verse 23/136 and Dish/Direct 23.

*

More Green Screen Adventures from Jose de Diego students!

*

Jose de Diego is a literature and writing magnet school.

*

Jose de Diego is also a receiving school under the CPS school closings plan. If approved by the school board, De Duprey and Von Humboldt will be closed and their students sent to de Deigo, which would then get a new IB program.

-

ABOUT GREEN SCREEN ADVENTURES
Produced by Weigel Broadcasting Co. in Chicago, broadcast locally and seen nationally on Me-TV and ThisTV, the Emmy Award-winning Green Screen Adventures is an educational program with the goal of promoting literacy - child-by-child, school-by-school, incorporating as many children as possible.

Students in second through eighth grade are inspired to think of themselves as writers and illustrators when their stories are adapted on Green Screen Adventures. Students get the message that their words have power and that their voices are being heard.

Since its premiere in March 2007, works from more than 2,000 students in more than 350 episodes have been featured.

All recent episodes can be viewed on the website, www.greenscreenadventures.tv, which also provides dozens of writing prompts, teacher resources, and serves as a place for children to read stories written by other students, as well as submit works of their own.

Visit us on Facebook and on Twitter.

-

Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:12 AM | Permalink

The Week In Chicago Rock

You shoulda been there.

1. Pac Div at Reggie's on Monday night.


-

2. Wax at Reggie's on Sunday night.

-

3. Emblem3 at the House of Blues on Wednesday night.

-

4. Green Day in Rosemont on Thursday night.

-

5. Erykah Badu at the House of Blues on Thursday night.

-

Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 5:36 AM | Permalink

March 28, 2013

The [Thursday] Papers

"If 61 percent of the city's youth are graduating from high school, but among African-American adolescent males, it's 44 percent, but you do nothing, what does that say?" Emanuel said. "Is that enlightened? Is that progressive?"

Is Rahm for real? So many questions.

Who is advocating doing nothing?

Teachers and parents have cried for even just a share of the resources that the University of Chicago Lab schools use to educate Rahm's kids.

Is Rahm suggesting that Richard M. Daley did nothing all these years?

Rahm has been a close political ally of Daley for years. Did he ever say anything?

Did Paul Vallas, Ron Huberman, Terry Mazany and Jean Claude-Brizard do nothing all these years?

And what of Arne Duncan, who did such a great job he was promoted by Barack Obama to U.S. Secretary of Education. Rahm, you were the president's chief of staff at the time, did you ever ask Duncan why he never did anything?

Is it possible that the schools aren't to blame for the impovershed conditions so many African-Americans males grow up in?

Perhaps the city has disinvested in the poorest neighborhoods and closing schools there will only make it worse. Wouldn't it make more sense to build neighborhoods instead of destroying them?

The Great Financial Scandal wiped out the economy and left much of the South and West Sides in foreclosure. Do your Wall Street pals share any of the blame and responsibility for deteriorating conditions in our city?

Perhaps, then, it would be fair to shore up the budget through a relatively miniscule financial transactions tax.

Is closing 54 schools enlightened and progressive? Only on Planet Orwell.

Decidedly not. See The Rahmney Plan For Schools.

*

"Emanuel acknowledged the closing of scores of neighborhood schools will be 'tough' on parents and students. But he said kids will ultimately end up attending better schools, even if they have to travel farther to get to them."

Yeah, the research doesn't really back that up: "81% Of Displaced Students Moved To Schools Just As Bad, Worse."

But then, this administration creates its own reality.

*

See also the item Rahm's Wrong Again. Hint: Facts aren't his friend.

*

The Real Problem With Rahm's School Reforms. Hint: Claims counter to the facts.

*

Two Visions For Chicago's Schools. Hint: Teachers' vs. Rahm's.

*

Meanwhile, Barbara Byrd-Bennett repeated to Chicago Tonight last night that her actions couldn't possibly be racist because, well, look at her! She's black!

Is that why the school closings were announced when Rahm was in Utah? To put a black woman out front to blunt just such charges? So the video the national news networks had didn't show Rahm making the announcement?

Duh.

Of course no one thinks you got up in the morning, as you imagined to marginalize your critics, and thought to target people of color. But if you don't know better than to think that's what you're being accused of, you aren't qualified to hold your job.

Racism is an effect of institutional policies that does not require bigotry as a motive.

*

"Performance has nothing to do with our utilization plan."

     - Barbara Byrd-Bennett, Nov. 27, 2012

*

See also:

Save Lafayette: Poor Humboldt Park elementary school's orchestra is something to build on, not destroy.

Global Views Of The School Closings Protest: The whole world wasn't watching, but some of it was.

Chicago Youth: Abandoned: School? For what? These children have already been left behind.

Golden: A Poem About Chicago Violence: Drastically snatched from my reality, my golden ray of sunshine died. Father told me this was just the way the world worked.

-

More commentary following Wednesday's performance as well as some media criticism can be had on our Twitter feed.

-

And from the Beachwood toy department today: Fantasy Fix: The Top 20 Starters & Relievers.

-

The Beachwood Tip Line: Addition, not subtraction.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:39 AM | Permalink

Save Lafayette

When students at Lafayette in Humboldt Park learned their school was on the CPS closings list, they took to their instruments. Their orchestra is in danger.

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In 2010, Reason to Give uploaded this video on YouTube.


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The description as posted on YouTube:

"Troubled by continuous cuts in education funding for Chicago Public Schools, Trisha Shrode, principal of Lafayette Elementary School, asked Reason to Give to help save her school's renowned music program. Lafayette serves Humboldt Park students in Pre-K through 8th grade. The school hosts two Head Start classrooms and is a cluster site for Autism. Unfortunately, every year is a struggle to keep their music program available to the students.

"The Merit School of Music began 10 years ago as an afterschool program at Lafayette Elementary. Today it is one of the largest string orchestra programs in Chicago. As the students attest to in their interviews, performing is their favorite part of the music program. Students have the chance to perform concerts at Lafayette and several sites around Chicago. These experiences teach students not only public performance skills, but self confidence and responsibility.

"The Merit Music program gives students opportunities that many from low-income neighborhoods such as Humboldt Park do not usually have. Lafayette students have gone on to attend numerous private and selective enrollment high schools in Chicago and around the country based on their involvement in the Merit Music program.

"Music teacher Arturs Weible sees the importance of the orchestra program everyday. He knows that its not just about learning an instrument; its about learning to work with and respect one another, building self-confidence, and growing into young leaders. The students told Reason to Give how grateful they were to be a part of the orchestra because it kept them from falling negative influences around them and gave them hope for the future. When Reason to Give was invited to attend one of the orchestra's performances and sit in on a practice, we were amazed at the energy in the room and the level of commitment each student showed."

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Also:

Lafayette Elementary Music Program Concert.

"They say this is one of the Chicago Schools that are being under utilized. I beg to differ!"

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And:

Lafayette School Supporters Rally Against CPS Closings.

"Supporters and families from Lafayette Elementary School attend a rally protesting the proposal from Chicago Public School administrators to close their school and dissolve their beloved music department and student orchestra."

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Comments welcome.

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1. From Steve Rhodes:

Hadn't seen this until hours after our post: Lafayette Music Teacher Hopes Concert Video Will Save School

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:53 AM | Permalink

Gear Is Good: The Empress, The Monarch & Polished Ebony

Three pieces.

1. Empress Tape Delay.

"Joel plays the new Empress Tape Delay through a Fender Princeton. Its a rich, lush tape delay in an incredibly small box. 3 flavors of tape age let you choose how dark and gritty the repeats will get while filter and modulation controls allow for even more fine tuning. Tap tempos with ratio multiplier mean rhythms like dotted eights are all at your fingertips."


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2. Fodera Monarch Standard.

"The Monarch 4 Standard (M4S) was designed from the ground up to provide every ounce of playability and sonic performance we are capable of delivering based on our 28 years of handcrafting some of the finest electric bass guitars in the world."

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3. Yamaha 5'7" G2 Grand Piano.

"Polished Ebony."

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:35 AM | Permalink

Global Views: School Closings Protest

The whole world wasn't watching, but these folks were.

1. Al-Jazeera (English).

"Thousands of teachers in the third largest US city of Chicago are protesting against plans to shut down schools in poor neighbourhoods."

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2. The Real News Network.

"Teachers, workers and activists hope to pressure Chicago to abandon plans to close 61 schools."

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3. RT America.

"Chicago Public Schools has announced that 61 buildings will be closed in an effort to save money due to a drop in the enrollment numbers, but the money saving maneuver has produced many angry parents."

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ADDED 3/29: ITN.

Note: CPD's News Affairs "estimated" the crowd at 700-900, which much of the media repeated, but the Sun-Times reports that at least 2,750 people were there.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:12 AM | Permalink

Chicago Youth

School? For what? These children have already been left behind.


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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:59 AM | Permalink

Golden

Drastically snatched from my reality, my golden ray of sunshine died. Father told me this was just the way the world worked.


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About Joy Heard:

* Columbia College student; president of Christ Evangelical Outreach Ministries.

* President of the Black Student Union at Columbia.

* Worked at least five months on "Golden."

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:26 AM | Permalink

Fantasy Fix: The Top 20 Starters & Relievers

I'm wrapping up my 2013 fantasy baseball draft guide with what I think are the two most predictable categories.

There is not much to debate about starting pitcher rankings until you get well into the second ten, where you could argue Chris Sale should be much lower, and Jered Weaver much higher. Essentially, you could draft any of the top 10 pitchers and claim to have an ace.

The relief pitchers are, as usual, a mixed bag of wunderkinds with power arms and cagey veterans who keep hitters guessing. I wouldn't be surprised to see old Mo Rivera land atop this heap one last time by the end of the season, but his retirement reminds us they don't make closers like him anymore, who can be counted on year-in and year-out.

Starting Pitchers

1. Clayton Kershaw. Verlander was a bit better in 2012, but Kershaw will be hard to beat with a jacked-up offense creating leads for him.

2. Justin Verlander. With a six-season streak of 200-plus innings and his manager's trust to finish close games, he's the closest thing to a sure thing among starters.

3. Stephen Strasburg. When the kid gloves were on, he won 15 games and struck out 197 in just 159 innings. What will he do when he's unleashed for a full season?

4. David Price. 20 wins, 205 strikeouts and a 2.56 ERA in 2012 is only good for fourth on this list, but he doesn't get too many complete game opportunities.

5. Felix Hernandez. His five shutouts last year look like a number out of the pitcher-dominant 1970s, and a better lineup should help him win more than the 13 games for once.

6. Cole Hamels. The real star of the Philly rotation is coming off a breakout year, and could push for 20 wins and 230 strikeouts.

7. Matt Cain. Usually won't bring in the gaudy strikeout numbers, but if your league counts WHIP, there is almost no one better - his 1.04 last year was NL best.

8. Adam Wainwright. Despite a 14-13 record and 3.94 ERA last year, he's surging up the draft board as he distances himself from injury and looks more like the 20-game winner of 2010.

9. Cliff Lee. His 6-9 record last year was viewed as ridiculously bad luck, and his post-All-Star break numbers, including 5 wins, a 2.45, 109 strikeouts and just 8 walks - are closer to the truth.

10. Yu Darvish. Gradually found his way last year, and the Rangers' power lineup saved him from disaster more than once. His most interesting number: 221 strikeouts in just 191 innings.

11. Chris Sale. Showed up a legion of doubters last year. Will need help to get 17 wins again, but should easily top his 192 strikeouts of a year ago.

12. Zack Greinke. Couldn't be in a better situation, and spring injury scare seems to have passed. If Dodgers are as good as they appear, he and Kershaw could compete for Cy Young votes.

13. Gio Gonzalez. 21 wins seems like it's worth a higher spot; my only explanation is that the Nats have an unbelievably good bullpen they won't hesitate to use.

14. Madison Bumgarner. Another great WHIP (1.11) from another SF pitcher. Bumgarner getting ranked this high on his 16 wins last year and likelihood his best year still lies ahead.

15. Jered Weaver. Low ranking for a 20-game winner with an MLB-leading 1.02 WHIP among starters, but achilles is strikeouts - 142 in 189 innings.

16. CC Sabathia. Extremely durable, but 15 wins last year were his fewest since 2006; you have to wonder how much help he'll get from a decimated Yankees lineup.

17. Mat Latos. Could be in line for a 18-20 wins, and could move up the rankings if he gets on a 200-plus strikeouts pace.

18. R.A. Dickey. Last year's Cy Young is with a better team now, but I can't buy that a knuckleballer can repeat a 20-win, 230-strikeout season at age 38.

19. Johnny Cueto. A quiet 19 wins last year and and he's only 27.

20. Max Scherzer. Seemed to turn the corner on an inconsistent career last year, exploding for 231 strikeouts.

Sleepers:

Alex Cobb: An increasingly popular sleeper draft pick, so don't wait too long. He managed 11 wins over 136 innings last year, and has been a standout this spring.

Jeff Samardzija: Not really a sleeper after last year, but could manage 13 or 14 wins and 200 strikeouts if the Cubs manage to win more than 70 games.

Julio Teheran: The biggest pitching star of spring training - I know, the second part mitigates the first part - has 35 strikeouts in 26 innings, and seems ready to stick in the majors.

Relief Pitchers

1. Craig Kimbrel. Widely doubted after a huge 2011, 42 saves and a 1.01 ERA last year spoke volumes.

2. Aroldis Chapman. Keeps flirting with the starting rotation, but returning to the role in which he can truly dominate.

3. Kris Medlen. SP/RP eligibility and an incredible second half last year make him a great choice if you want more wins and strikeouts, but don't want to compete on saves.

4. Fernando Rodney. Slight injury concern, but a filthy 0.60 ERA made 2012 his breakout year.

5. Jonathan Papelbon. Always have found him inconsistent, but 38 saves, 92 strikeouts in 70 innings, and a 2.44 ERA for a team that underwhelmed suggests 2013 could be very good.

6. Mariano Rivera. The Sandman should deliver a routinely amazing final season, though don't be surprised if injury recovery slows him until June or so.

7. Rafael Soriano. Former Yankee comes to the NL to be the leader of a deep bullpen for a team that should hand him plenty of leads.

8. Joe Nathan. Once the top AL closer for the Twins, a nice comeback season last year suggests he could hit 40 saves again.

9. J.J. Putz. Faltered last year with 32 saves, 13 fewer than in 2011, but seemed to get better as the year went along, going from May 22 to September without a blown save.

10. Jason Motte. Looks like he may open on the DL, so I have moved him down a couple levels from where I had him ranked earlier, but with a 0.92 WHIP, he's becoming a great closer.

11. Sergio Romo. The Giants have multiple closer options, but Romo the righty should get the most opportunities, and has a ratio of more than six strikeouts to every walk.

12. Jim Johnson 51 saves last year was the most in the majors, which of course means we can't trust him this year. Also doesn't have the strikeout stuff to be higher on the list.

13. Huston Street. Injuries are always a concern, but finished strong in 2012 and should get a lot of chances in one of the great pitchers' parks.

14. Greg Holland. Limited audition last year with 14 saves, but 91 strikeouts in 67 innings is what we like to see from a closer.

15. Tom Wilhelmson. Upstart with 29 saves last year for a team that should be better this year.

16. Chris Perez. Runs into trouble now and then, and runs off at the mouth, but still managed 39 saves last year for a team that is steadily improving.

17. Marco Estrada. Another SP/RP option who could prove to be the Kris Medlen of 2013.

18. Glen Perkins. Hung around the Twins long enough to become closer, and did well, with 11 of his 16 saves last year coming in the second half.

19. Joel Hanrahan. A little off last year after his dominant 2011, but 36 saves and a 2.72 ERA is not exactly disappointing.

20. Addison Reed. Never would have suggested this a year ago, and could still be way off, but the closer role is such a gamble, he's worth taking a flyer on. I feel like his chances are good to improve on 29 saves last year.

Sleepers:

Jason Grilli: Is this the year the Bucs get back to winning? The prospects are good, which means Grilli should have a big workload.

Carlos Marmol: Don't laugh - okay, go ahead and laugh. But there is so little pressure on him now, he could become a dominant closer again, which also could mean seeing him traded to a team that hands him leads more often.

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Dan O'Shea is our man in fantasyland. He welcomes your comments.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 4:03 AM | Permalink

March 27, 2013

He Pitied That Puck

"During the second intermission, Mr. T. predicts pain and pities some fools as he shoots at center ice," says NHL Video.

"Take notes, Jim Belushi," says Comcast's Susannah Collins.


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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:23 AM | Permalink

The [Wednesday] Papers

"You might want to avoid the Loop this afternoon; the Chicago Teachers Union is planning to pack Daley Plaza with thousands of people, and shut down a number of streets as part of a protest of planned school closings," CBS2 Chicago reports.

Or you might want to head to the Loop for the protest!

Isn't it funny how the media defines thousands of Chicagoans as "them" and not "us."

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But when it comes to Official Chicago it's "we."

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"First lady Michelle Obama is headed to Chicago next month to talk to local business and community leaders about youth violence," Politico reports.

"She will attend a luncheon hosted by Mayor Rahm Emanuel on April 10, the White House announced. Attendees will include the city's Commercial Club, Economic Club, Executives' Club, and World Business Chicago.

"'Mrs. Obama will be urging Chicago's business leaders to invest in expanded opportunities for youth across Chicago's neighborhoods,' the White House said in a statement."

Like schools?

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When Republicans shutter mental health clinics, libraries and schools, they're the embodiment of inhumanity. When Democrats do it, they're making tough choices. #RahmsSequester

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What Simon Doesn't Sez
From Carol Felsenthal's interview of Sheila Simon for Chicago magazine:

CF: Does your decision [to drop off the ticket] hurt Quinn politically?

SS: To the contrary, it allows Gov. Quinn to line up a candidate who can help him on the ticket.

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Really, Sheila? You're just trying to help?

That might be believable if you didn't answer another question this way:

CF: Will you vote for Gov. Quinn?

SS: Way too early to say. We don't even know who's running for governor.

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Also, if you are no longer helpful to the governor as lieutenant governor, what makes you qualified for whichever state office you are eyeing instead?

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Just say it: I have my own ambitions, and I don't want to be tied to a failing administration led by a governor who may not get re-elected and whom I'm not sure I even support anymore.

What would be the repercussions of that? You'd be hailed for telling the truth.

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Supreme Bluff
Our very own Eric Emery pays attention:

Roberts questions Solicitor General Donald Verrilli, arguing for the Obama administration against Proposition 8. The chief justice wonders about the scope of the court's ruling:

Roberts: "I don't want to - I want you to get back to Justice Alito's other points, but is it the position of the United States that same-sex marriage is not required throughout the country?"

Verrilli: "We are not - we are not taking the position that it is required throughout the country. We think that that ought to be left open for a future adjudication in other states that don't have the situation California has."

I'm reading "The Friend of The Court" argument as "we don't support California's ban," but we are not arguing against any other ban. To me, support for same-sex marriage states "We are against any ban against it."

A friend posted to my wall an Obama Facebook posting that says "Every single American, Gay, Straight, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender - every single American deserves to be treated equally in the eyes of the law and in the eyes of society."

But that is not what the Obama administration argued through their Friend of the Court efforts today.

When Obama directly tackled the question during the election (prompted by Biden's "big mouth"), Obama said that he was against the government banning same-sex marriages, but it was up to the states to decide. Today's Friend of the Court argument contradicts the election-time argument.

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My reply: Yes, my read is that they are still saying it's up to the states to decide, but in this case they are against California's ban, for some reason. Like, say, politics.

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Redflex Ripples
Chicago bribery investigation wreaking havoc across Redflex Nation.

Billy Corgan Is A Conspiracy Theorist
Only way to explain his career.

Roland Martin Threatens To Not Go Away
Still beats Steinberg.

Bullies And Book Bans
Both good for sales.

Omaha's Most Famous Visual Artist Coming To Chicago
Not as bad as it sounds.

He Pitied That Puck
And taught Jim Belushi a lesson.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Us and them. But mostly us.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:48 AM | Permalink

Redflex Ripples

The latest . . .

"We are grateful to the whistleblower and the reporter who helped expose the flaws in our former colleagues and our processes," Robert T. DeVincenzi, the president and CEO of Redflex Holdings Ltd. and CEO of Redflex Traffic Systems Inc., writes in the Orlando Sentinel today. The paper notes that Redflex "is vying for a red-light-camera contract in Orange County."

Grateful? Not bloody likely.

In "First Redflex Internal Probe 'Clearly Inadequate,'" the Trib's David Kidwell reported on the absolute joke of an investigation the company outsourced to a firm called Quarles & Brady.

"John W. Daniels Jr., chairman of Milwaukee-based Quarles & Brady LLP, referred all questions to Redflex at the request of the company. Redflex representatives declined to comment."

Talk about a lack of gratitude. But that's not all.

"In October, one of the law firm's longtime Chicago partners, Sanford Stein, accompanied the general counsel of Redflex's Phoenix subsidiary - Redflex Traffic Systems Inc. - to the Tribune's offices to be interviewed about the company's response to a 2010 whistleblower letter. The letter, sent to the board of directors of the Australia-based parent company, detailed how the company plied former Chicago transportation official John Bills with 'non-reported lavish vacations' and the 'illegal transfer of commission' to him through its Chicago consultant . . .

"Both Stein and then-Redflex General Counsel Andrejs Bunkse discredited the allegations during the October interview. They told the newspaper the Quarles & Brady review found no merit to the accusations, aside from one inadvertent $910 hotel stay for Bills at the Arizona Biltmore paid by a top company salesman who was disciplined with anti-bribery training.

"When I read the letter I expected to find a great deal more," Bunkse said in the interview. "And we dug in very deeply, exhaustively into the expense reports and records of the company to the point of extreme redundancy, and the issue - the one instance of a problem - was this one instance where there were no meals reimbursed, there was no flight reimbursed and a two-day hotel stay was found.

"In every other instance, nothing else came up that was problematic," Bunkse said.

Stein even staked his firm's 120-year reputation on it.

"It's our reputation that we put on the line every day for every client. But it is our reputation of our law firm that is far more important - and our service - that supersedes everything," Stein said toward the beginning of the interview. "So we are happy to say that our investigation, which Andy will talk about, is consistent with the high quality standards that we support."

Later in the interview, Stein sought to reinforce that the results were trustworthy because of the firm's involvement.

"It was one incident, and never repeated and it's - you know - it is what it is. We can't make that fact disappear, but it is what it is. And it's not a series of events," Stein told the newspaper. "I am telling you that our reputation is such that you can count on that."

Now, however, Redflex is investigating at least two other possible incidents in other cities.

And, again, Redflex being grateful about the Tribune's reporting wasn't reflected in the fact that Stein, too, refused to comment on Kidwell's latest.

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"In October, the attorneys also detailed what Bunkse described as a 'deep dive' investigation.

"We, Quarles & Brady, reviewed exhaustively expense reports, interviewed every individual that is affiliated that is an employee of our company that is mentioned in this letter, asked questions directly related to allegations contained in the letter, particularly about Chicago, went through all of the company's records relating to the Chicago contract and came up with one instance of an oversight and a lapse," Bunkse said.

"We spent nearly $100,000 in an investigation in which our CEO - imagine how uncomfortable this is - our CEO sat off to the side because of all the things raised in this letter," Bunkse said. "It was taken quite seriously, and I will tell you again when I read the letter for the first time I thought that there was a lot more to it than there actually was after this big effort, I mean a big shut-down-the-company effort that occurred."

But a subsequent investigation by Sidley & Austin, led by former city inspector general and federal prosecutor David Hoffman, found that the whistleblower's allegations "did, in fact, have merit."

Hoffman's team found the company plied Bills with 17 trips, including hotels, flights, rental cars, meals and golf outings, according to the summary report. It also found that the $2.03 million in company compensation to the Redflex consultant was likely part of a bribery scheme that would have made 'any reasonable person highly suspicious.'

The Hoffman findings also criticized the 2010 investigation and the company's oversight.

"The investigation consisted of interviews of three Redflex officials, no e-mail review and very limited document review," a summary of the findings stated. "There was no attempt to interview the consultant. Some of those interviewed by the law firm did not provide complete and truthful information."

According to Hoffman's findings, the first investigation "was conducted in a manner that was clearly inadequate to determine whether the allegations were true, and there was inadequate oversight." He also found that some of the company's disclosures to the Tribune and to City Hall in October were "inaccurate and misleading."

"Among other things, it was improper for them to describe the 2010 investigation and the associated expense review as 'thorough, complete or exhaustive.'"

And improper, now, for Redflex to pretend they are grateful.

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"Federal authorities have launched a criminal probe of bribery allegations in Chicago's red-light camera program, issuing a subpoena for financial records of the former city official at the center of the escalating international scandal," Kidwell also reports.

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One of those other two locations?

"The 2 Redflex employees who were fired as a result of their shady dealings in Chicago were the same 2 people who negotiated the Richmond contract," Richmond, Virginia, officials say.

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More problems elsewhere.

Seattle: "SeaTac is in the middle of the second two-year renewal of its contract with Redflex, and it expires in March of 2014 . . . Burien dropped its contract with Redflex over a year ago."

Prescott Valley, Arizona: "Motorists here will continue to face photo-enforcement tickets for speeding and red-light running at least to Oct. 3, when the town's contract with Redflex Traffic Systems expires.

"Negative news coverage and growing opposition from the public apparently prompted a majority of the seven Town Council members Thursday to call for severing ties with Redflex. Councilwoman Mary Mallory said she wants photo enforcement to go away.

'"I've lost faith in Redflex as a corporation,' Councilman Rick Anderson said."

Surprise, Arizona: "The city will end its contract with a Phoenix-based photo traffic enforcement firm that operates the municipality's system, citing a nearly $190,000 deficit in the program over the nearly three years it has been in operation.

"The City Council made the decision during its workshop meeting Tuesday night. No formal vote is required.

"'I'm a little disappointed,' lamented Councilman Richard Alton (Dist. 2). 'I didn't think it was going to cost us anything,' said Mr. Alton, who recalled voting for the contract with Redflex Traffic Systems, Inc., when it was approved by the governing body in Sept. 10, 2009."

Lafayette, Louisiana: "The Lafayette City-Parish Council has deferred a vote on an amnesty program for delinquent parking and traffic camera tickets.

"The Advocate reports the amnesty measure would have given drivers until April 30 to pay nearly 29,000 past-due parking and traffic camera tickets before the start of a tougher collection policy that calls for lawsuits to recover the unpaid fines.

"The council voted unanimously Tuesday to hold off moving forward on the amnesty program over questions about whether the private contractor overseeing the automated traffic camera enforcement program, Redflex Traffic Systems, would share in revenue from any past-due fines that city-parish government won in court."

Geneva, Illinois: "Geneva's red-light cameras - a controversial addition to two intersections to catch drivers who fail to stop - have been removed because the permits for them expired."

New Orleans: "If 100,000 stoplight camera tickets issued in Jefferson Parish were ignored by the alleged violators, just who was obliged to track down these motorists to force them to court?

"The contract between the parish government and the Sheriff's Office with Redflex Traffic Systems Inc. is not explicit on this point, and responses to the question were inconclusive Thursday."

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Ohio: Judge: Speed Cameras A Scam

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Albuquerque, last year:

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Phoenix, a few days ago:

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See also: Warnings About Redflex Go Back To Daley Administration

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Previously:
* Item: The Mayor, The Lobbyist And The Dead 6-Year Old Girl

* Item: Camera Coinkydink

* Rahm Caught Lying About Speed Cameras

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:19 AM | Permalink

Omaha's Most Famous Visual Artist Coming To Chicago

"Jun Kaneko, Omaha's most famous visual artist, will have an outdoor exhibit in Chicago's popular Millennium Park," Omaha.com reports.

Kaneko's Legends, Myths and Truths will run from April 12 to March 3.

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"As a pioneer in the field of monumental ceramic sculpture, Jun Kaneko has played with scale and proportion," the city says in its news release.

"The installation Kaneko has created for Millennium Park . . . is representative of his past and present artistic practices. Works presented . . . feature Kaneko's signature Dangos (meaning 'rounded form' or 'dumpling' in Japanese). These ceramic steles, covered in a variety of vibrant shapes and patterns, allow viewers to examine their environment and focus on a sense of scale and place."

JunKanekoTanuki400.png

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Curatorial statement.

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Outstanding Artist 2012, Nebraska Arts Council.

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Two heads.

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The largest free-standing ceramic art pieces in the world.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:50 AM | Permalink

Local Book Notes: Bullies And Book Bans

Over the transom.

1. "Books about bullying, for youngsters and adults, are now so numerous they are a genre in themselves."

Slow train coming . . . here's a 1998 Steve Rhodes USA Weekend story about "bullyproofing" at a Colorado school.

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2. Zine Scene.

My Life is an Open Book: DIY Autobiography runs through April 13 at the Regenstein Library.

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3. One Book, One Chicago Expanding By Contracting.

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4. A teachable moment.

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After all . . .

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5. The Team That Changed The Color Of College Basketball.

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6. Former Arrested Development writer Maria Semple is scheduled to appear at a Printers Row event at Tribune Tower on April 4.

"Meet novelist and screenwriter Maria Semple, who will discuss her second novel, Where'd You Go, Bernadette, a satirical look at modern parenting, teen angst and technology. Semple, whose first book, This One is Mine, was set in Los Angeles, has set her new novel in her adopted city of Seattle. Semple will meet Printers Row members at a special reception at 6:30 p.m. Printers Row Members: Enter the promotional code "FreeTicket" and use your membership number to redeem your free member ticket."

For all others, it's $15 and a 7 p.m. start.

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Semple's writing credits also include Beverly Hills, 90210; Mad About You; Saturday Night Live; Suddenly Susan and Ellen.

So she's batting about one-and-a-half out of six.

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7. Amnesty deadline looming; see item No. 4.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:16 AM | Permalink

Local TV Notes: Roland Martin Threatens To Not Go Away

Because it's on.

1. Roland Martin Really Likes Roland Martin.

But he's out at CNN.

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Martin, of course, worked in Chicago for a time as the editor of the Defender. But he really was working as the editor of Roland Martin. That's who he is.

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I've never been much of a Martin fan - his schtick often outruns the facts - but I was quite a fan of this classic exchange he had with Neil Steinberg in 2006.

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Steinberg: "I'm trying to change the subject. Because it's getting dull for me. It must be getting dull for whatever listeners you have."

It was WVON!

But black listeners don't count.

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When Martin later got hired by CNN, Steinberg just couldn't comprehend it.

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Then again, neither could God.

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2. Lou Grant + Marion Cunningham Mashup.

"A new situation comedy being pitched to television networks will be filmed next month at the Museum of Broadcast Communications in River North," Marina City Online reports.

"TV legends Ed Asner and Marion Ross are among cast members who will perform I've Got a Life in Kalamazoo before a live audience in mid-April."

In the show, the daughter of Asner and Ross is a professional singer trying to move to Chicago who instead gets stuck in Kalamazoo. See: LifeInKzoo.

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3. Simple Semple Sample.

Former Arrested Development writer Maria Semple is scheduled to appear at a Printers Row event at Tribune Tower on April 4.

"Meet novelist and screenwriter Maria Semple, who will discuss her second novel, Where'd You Go, Bernadette, a satirical look at modern parenting, teen angst and technology. Semple, whose first book, This One is Mine, was set in Los Angeles, has set her new novel in her adopted city of Seattle. Semple will meet Printers Row members at a special reception at 6:30 p.m. Printers Row Members: Enter the promotional code "FreeTicket" and use your membership number to redeem your free member ticket."

For all others, it's $15 and a 7 p.m. start.

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Semple's writing credits also include Beverly Hills, 90210; Mad About You; Saturday Night Live; Suddenly Susan and Ellen.

So she's batting about one-and-a-half out of six.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 5:27 AM | Permalink

Local Music Notebook: Billy Corgan's Conspiracies & A Bloodshot Briefing

A loose collection of whatnot.

1. Billy Corgan is just the worst.

Not even worth dissecting.

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2. Brian Blade and the Fellowship Band at Chicago Music Exchange on March 14.


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3. Bloodshot Briefing.

Wayne Hancock at City Winery on April 4.

"On February 26, Wayne 'The Train' Hancock released Ride, his first album in four years. Ride is Hancock's eighth overall full-length and fifth for Bloodshot Records."

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Luke Winslow-King at FitzGerald's on April 4.

"Winslow-King's work consists of an eclectic mix, taking in delta-folk music, classical composition, ragtime, and rock and roll; juxtaposing original songs with those from a bygone era."

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Andre Williams at the Hideout on April 6.

"The Black Godfather still manages to bring the dirty . . . He's the fox and the hound."

>

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Whitey Morgan and the 78s at Cobra Lounge on April 13.

"They haven't re-invented the wheel. They just picked it up and started it rolling all over again."

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4. The Replacements at the Metro in 1985, uploaded last week.

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5. Chicago Skyliners tribute to Buddy Rich at FitzGerald's, uploaded last week.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 4:31 AM | Permalink

March 26, 2013

The [Tuesday] Papers

I'll get to the school closings reportage, please be patient. For today, a 10-fer.

1. Nobel Peace Prize Winner's Drone Attacks On Innocent Children And Civilians In Pakistan Visualized.

2. Rich Miller's favorite Illinois politician is George Ryan and the journalist he admires most is/was the hideous Bob Novak.

Also, his advice to aspiring journalists:

Go to law school, but if you absolutely insist upon a career in journalism, then work sales for a while because nothing trains you to get what you want from sources better than that.

If you want to be a bullshit artist who bluffs his way through a career, that is. Otherwise, go to journalism school and learn about the history, ethics, law, economics, principles, values and craft of the profession.

*

Note: I'm not calling Miller in particular a bullshit artist, just pushing back against the idea that experience in sales is recommended training for reporters. You can learn how to develop sources and beats from experience, editors, peers, teachers and tips from the pros (Seymour Hersh has said that he kept his eye on personnel rosters and every time someone left the Pentagon they got lunch on the New York Times, when he worked there) so much better than using sales techniques, in my view. That strikes me as kind of horrid and unquestionably insincere.

3. I just threw up in my mouth a little.

4. Legal Powerhouses Ed Genson, Terry Gillespie End Law Partnership.

Here's my 2005 Chicago magazine profile of Genson, Devils' Advocate.

5. Sun Country To Begin Service To Midway Airport.

Here's my 1999 Newsweek article about Sun Country, Sun Country Shines.

6. You win some, you lose some.

"Location and timing are everything as entrepreneur Greg Stallkamp explains why he is moving his two-year-old air carrier - Lakeshore Express Aviation - from Chicago's Midway to Oakland County International Airport as its home base."

7. "The Bank of China (BOC) opened a new branch to business in downtown Chicago on Friday, the fourth in the United States," People's Daily reports.

8. Report: The Tribune has one of the slowest news sites on the Internet.

Frankly, I can't say I've ever felt the Trib loaded too slowly. The Sun-Times, which apparently wasn't tested, has always been a nightmare, though.

*

"I reached out to several people at the Tribune for comment on this story, but did not hear back before publication."

As typical for the Trib as it is for the Emanuel administration.

9. Ghost town.

"Yet another legal time bomb left behind by former Mayor Richard M. Daley exploded in Mayor Rahm Emanuel's lap Monday - and it turns out to be a $6 million snow job for Chicago," the Sun-Times reports.

"U.S. District Judge Charles Norgle ruled Monday that Chicago must reimburse the federal government for $6 million in snow-removal costs incurred at O'Hare and Midway airports during 1999 and 2000."

But it's really the airlines whom the city must now collect from, not taxpayers, who are merely (presumably) footing the legal bill.

10. World's Largest Indoor Vertical Farm Opens In Chicago Suburb.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Vertical.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:32 AM | Permalink

March 25, 2013

The Weekend In Chicago Rock

You shoulda been there.

1. The Ataris at Reggie's on Friday night.


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2. Local Natives at the Vic on Thursday night.

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3. Dot Dot Dot in the WGN Music Lounge on Thursday ahead of their Friday show at the Double Door.

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4. Rihanna at the hockey arena on the West Side on Friday night.

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5. Big Daddy Kane at the Shrine on Friday night.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:33 PM | Permalink

Late Breaking Developments

After a long and boring winter for the White Sox, things got a bit more exciting last week.
Until now the biggest news was the signing of third baseman Jeff Keppinger, whose talents include not striking out very often. Although he hit .325 last season for Tampa Bay, his sixth team in seven major league seasons, 100 of his 125 hits were singles, and he drove in just 40 runs.

Shades of Jim Morrison, who manned the position for the Sox in the early '80s. We all remember him.

But I'm willing to be hopeful on account of anyone who might be able to offset the strikeouts of the Sox's big signing two years ago, that being Adam Dunn. When Dunn tried to bunt down the third base line in an exhibition game against the Angels recently, I figured this was newsworthy. If he could convince the opposition that he's capable to of going to the left side - thus negating the shift that everyone uses against him - there's no telling how high his average might rise. Two-fifty wouldn't be out of the question.

Yet neither of these developments quite matched up to Florida Gulf Coast University being the first 15th seed in NCAA history to advance to the round of 16. What's that got to do with the White Sox? We'll get to that in a moment.

"Where the hell is Florida Gulf Coast at?" inquired Charles Barkley on CBS Saturday, his opening question for FGCU coach Andy Enfield.

Apparently Sir Charles has yet to discover Google, and he doesn't give a hoot about ending a sentence with a preposition. However, Sox fans didn't need to search for the school's location. After all, this is the alma mater of Chris Sale.

First Robin Ventura names Sale his Opening Day starter, and then his school's basketball team becomes the darlings of the tournament. Now that's big news!

But there's more. Calling Michigan State's blowout of Memphis on Saturday, Verne Lundquist had a brain fart when the Spartans' Keith Appling left the court with an injury. Explaining that Appling wasn't likely to return, he called him none other than Luke Appling, who, of course, was a White Sox staple for 20 seasons. How marvelous!

Lundquist, who has covered basketball, football, golf, the Olympics but not baseball, was only 10-years-old in 1950 when Luke appeared in his final game. Appling played more games - 2,422 - in a Sox uniform than anyone in the team's history. Lundquist grew up in Minnesota and Texas according to Wikipedia, yet somewhere in his gray matter the name Luke Appling was buried. And poof! - it surfaced on Saturday. I was delighted.

These hidden gems are two of very few news items that Sox fans can glean from this off-season. Especially with all the commotion emanating from the North Side.

In bygone days, most Chicagoans knew all about the 11th Ward, the home of the White Sox and the Daleys. They occupied a box next to the Sox dugout. They may not have been transparent when it came to politics, but the family made no bones about the fact that they favored the South Siders, while nary a peep was heard north of Madison.

But things are all messed up now. It's 44th ward alderman Tom Tunney who grabs all the headlines. One has to dig deep into the sports section to read about the Sox. Meanwhile, the Cubs, Tunney, the Rickettses, the rooftops, the dump they call Wrigley Field and its scoreboard, Rosemont, WGN, Waveland Avenue - you get the picture - have remained front page news for weeks. Maybe it's not the kind of news Theo Epstein had in mind before he made the move west, but as P.T. Barnum said, "I don't care what you say about me, just spell my name right."

At the risk of imbibing in this maelstrom, I must say that the signage controversy has me confused. The two signs in or around a ballpark that are most vivid in my mind are the neon Citgo at Fenway and the old Baby Ruth sign - having been replaced by rooftop bleachers - across Sheffield Avenue above the right field bleachers at Wrigley. Neither, of course, resides (or resided) inside the stadium which is where the Rickettses want to locate new advertising.

Another icon from my childhood was the Gem razor blade sign on the right field wall at Brooklyn's Ebbets Field. And that was, for the most part, before the days of television. So why not tear out the ivy at Wrigley and fill the walls with ads? Replace green ivy with green money.

With the season just a week away, we Sox fans will simply have to be content with a tedious ballclub. Not since Ozzie Guillen departed has there been any controversy, turmoil, disagreements, or other negative buzz creating headlines. The Sox have no rooftops; the advertising at the Cell is overwhelming; the scoreboard needs no makeover; Addison is a distant memory; and quick - who is the 11th Ward alderman?

Our best player of the century, Paul Konerko, never has taken PEDs, never has been charged with a DUI, seems to be a solid family man, and when was the last time you remember him even raising his voice?

Our new general manager went to New Trier, Michigan, Harvard Law and Kellogg for heaven's sake.

We have a catcher whose last name is Flowers, for crying out loud.

Our Cuban shortstop performs poorly in April and May apparently because cold weather makes him uncomfortable. Poor baby.

Adam Dunn's two-year White Sox batting average is .184, and he's struck out 399 times.

Yet I can't recall ever seeing him slamming down his bat on the way back to the dugout.

He doesn't turn down media interviews, and he doesn't complain.

Our second-year manager is in a close charisma (or lack thereof) race with none other than Dale Sveum from the other side of town. Neither emotes much, and their post-game interviews - win or lose - are more or less the same. Actually ours more charismatic. I can't quite come to grips with Sveum's five o'clock shadow.

Of course, all this could change where it really counts - on the field. Let's hope that beginning next week things will become much more interesting and stimulating on the South Side than they'll be up north.

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Roger Wallenstein is our man on the White Sox. He welcomes your comments.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 11:29 AM | Permalink

The [Monday] Papers

"Key documents from a manslaughter case involving a nephew of former Mayor Richard M. Daley that vanished from the Chicago Police Department and then mysteriously reappeared weren't lost or misplaced - they were 'removed' without authorization, apparently by someone in the department," the Sun-Times reports.

And just who that might be? Perhaps the same person who hired Angelo Torres: The Ghost of Daley's Chicago. He knows when you are slacking, he knows when you're on the take. He knows when you've been rat or good in a city on the make.

*

"Police Lt. Denis P. Walsh said he found the missing documents 'lying on the top shelf of a filing cabinet located in the sergeants office of Area 3 Violent Crimes' at Belmont and Western, according to a police internal affairs report obtained by the Chicago Sun-Times.

"Walsh told internal affairs investigators he had repeatedly searched that area over a span of six months, beginning in January 2011. That was when the Sun-Times first asked for copies of all records from the case.

"But Walsh said the documents weren't there until he found them on June 29, 2011."

That's always been the problem with Detective Schrodinger's files. Sometimes they exist, sometimes they don't.

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The Amazing Grace of Chicago: What once was lost now is found.

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"'The file which was believed to have been lost was obviously not lost but had been removed and returned in violation of department rules and regulations,' Walsh wrote in the July 20, 2011, memo to Area 3 Cmdr. Gary Yamashiroya.

"According to the internal affairs findings, investigators don't know when the records were removed from the case file, who took them or who returned them."

The no-snitch code strikes again.

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Nobody knows nothing about files nobody sent.

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"The day after Walsh wrote the memo to his boss about the no-longer-missing files, Sgt. Richard Downs of the department's Internal Affairs Division opened an investigation that ended 35 days later with Downs saying he was unable to identify who took the records or returned them. No one was disciplined.

Walsh "stated that this particular file along with other homicide files are not locked up and are kept in a filing cabinet in the Violent Crimes office and can be accessed by any Violent Crimes detectives who are working on murder cases," Downs wrote in his report. Walsh "stated that he does not know who may have removed this particular file from the file cabinet and does not know who returned the file."

"Walsh - who oversees detectives at Area 3, including Rita O'Leary, one of the original detectives on the Koschman case in 2004 - appears to be the only officer Downs interviewed."

To be fair, he was just following Quarles & Brady protocol.

*

Speaking of Redflex . . .

"Top officials in Mayor Richard M. Daley's administration were warned six years ago about preferential treatment in Chicago's red-light camera contract, a deal now embroiled in a federal corruption investigation of an alleged $2 million bribery scheme at City Hall," the Tribune reports.

"Executives of a competing camera company and a powerful alderman whose help they enlisted complained the city was unfairly favoring Redflex Traffic Systems Inc., according to internal city records obtained by the Tribune and publicly disclosed for the first time."

Coincidentally, that same powerful alderman is said by some insiders to know exactly who hired Angelo Torres . . .

*

"Those 2007 records reveal there were concerns about the role of former city transportation official John Bills in overseeing the contract long before he emerged as the central figure in a scandal touched off by the newspaper's reporting last year."

Don't worry, those records will disappear soon too.

*

"The rare glimpse into power politics at City Hall raises new questions about where the evolving scandal might lead and whether one bureaucrat - a lifelong political foot soldier - had the juice to single-handedly steer a $100 million contract.

"I wouldn't think so," said Doug Yerkes, a top Daley purchasing official at the time. "Because a contract of that size has to clear so many different levels, and John was kind of a midlevel manager."

So who hired John Bills?

*

"At the time, the Daley administration was moving to convert what had begun in 2003 as a $1.9 million pilot project into a full-blown, permanent red-light camera program. American Traffic Solutions - along with its assembled team of Chicago subcontractors - was hoping to get a piece of that business.

"So the company executives sought help from 14th Ward Ald. Ed Burke, according to the records."

Drink!

"The dean of the City Council and chairman of its powerful Finance Committee, Burke is a decadeslong friend and political ally of one of American Traffic Solutions' subcontractors at that time, Tom Donovan. Donovan - chairman of the advisory board for Quantum Crossings LLC - was long ago a top aide and patronage chief for former mayors Richard J. Daley and Michael Bilandic. After that, he was a longtime chairman of the Chicago Board of Trade."

*

"Bills, who retired from the city in 2011 and went to work as a Redflex-funded consultant, rose through the Daley administration to become the managing deputy commissioner of transportation after a 30-year career in city government. During that time, he was also a top precinct captain in the political organization of House Speaker Michael Madigan, D-Chicago."

Wow, the trifecta: Burke, Daley and Madigan. Well-played, Mr. Bills.

Now, about that no-snitch code . . .

The White Sox Report
Late breaking developments.

The Weekend In Chicago Rock
You shoulda been there.

SportsMonday
Jim "Coach" Coffman is traveling; his column returns next week.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Red, flexed.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:33 AM | Permalink

March 23, 2013

The Weekend Desk Report

Natasha Julius is at yoga camp. She returns next week.

Diva Diary
Hours Late, Rihanna Finally Arrives At Barrington High.

vs.

Days Late, Mayor Finally Arrives In Chicago.

"The mayor was on a skiing vacation when the decisions were announced but was expected to make a public appearance in Chicago on Saturday and answer questions about the school closings," the Tribune reports.

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Breaking! The Beachwood has obtained this exclusive photo of Rahm announcing the school closures.

Defensive Reform
Bears Quickly Replace Urlacher.

Broken-down linebacker had become underutilized, but will his replacement be a higher performer? Or is it all about the money?

The Bears also shut down Nick Roach; consolidation at the position now necessary, but risky.

Bears promise D.J. Williams a new iPad, though.

That's Todd!
Todd Stroger, who has reportedly had a tough time finding work since being ousted as Cook County Board President, wants back in.

Stroger tells the Sun-Times that he's interested in replacing the just-convicted Bill Beavers, who got on the board in the first place by helping to engineer Todd's ascension from mediocre Chicago alderman to leader of the nation's second largest county with a population larger than that of 29 states.

As part of the deal, Stroger was clouted into the presidency while his dying father's seat on the board was given to Beavers, whose aldermanic seat then went to his daughter before she lost it to Jesse Jackson Jr.'s wife.

So there's a certain symmetry to the madness, especially given that all of the participants are either dead or heading to prison, except, miraculously, Todd.

Meanwhile, the Tribune reports quite passively in the midst of an article about the party's succession plans that "The name of former Cook County Board President Todd Stroger, who was trounced in a Democratic primary after a controversial single term in office, also surfaced - much to the bemusement of some party officials."

Good for the Trib for not taking this as seriously as the Sun-Times, which seems to believe it has a scoop on its hands. Maybe if the headline was "Todd Stroger Still Delusional," but that's really not news either. Might as well report that Ed Burke is still interested in being mayor or George Ryan would like to be governor again. I mean, I'm sure Sandi Jackson is still interested in her husband's old congressional seat.

But absolutely typical for the Trib (as the Sun-Times does equally) to pretend that the original report doesn't exist; Stroger's name has just magically "surfaced." Perhaps it was spotted by some tourists on Navy Pier, rising from the lake in capital letters.

How long, oh Lord, how long until our dailies provide links and attribution?

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The Trib does link to ads in its stories, though. Look for the green.

Beavers Field Guide
Is there really no law against gambling with campaign funds?

Being Boeing
"Chicago-based Boeing Co. will reduce its Seattle-area manufacturing work force by 2,000 to 2,300 by the end of the year, including some 800 layoffs, the company confirmed on Friday," the Tribune reports.

Missing from the Trib report: "In a year when Boeing's share price failed to take off, CEO James McNerney Jr.'s pay climbed 15% . . . "

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And boy, we really do need pension reform.

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The Weekend Desk Tip Line: Interested, consolidated and risky.

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The Sound Opinions Weekend Listening Report: "Jim and Greg are back in one piece from Austin, TX, ready to share their favorite musical finds from the SXSW Music Conference. What band has Jim declaring he's 'seen God'? Tune in to find out. Later, Jim and Greg weigh in on Justin Timberlake's long-awaited musical comeback, The 20/20 Experience."

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The Flying Saucer Weekend Brunch Report: Way better than Outback, mate.

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The CAN TV Weekend Viewing 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.

Creative Chicago Expo

The 2013 Creative Chicago Expo connected Chicago's creative community with resources they need to thrive, including professional development expertise from top local and national providers.

Building a Food Life

3-18-CreativeCHI-FoodLife.jpg

Chefs Christine Cikowski and Josh Kulp share their experience founding the Sunday Dinner Club, a business that forgoes the conventions of for-profit, brick-and-mortar restaurants to promote sustainability and community. And, of course, cooks delicious food.

Sunday at 9 a.m. on CAN TV21.

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Being All Creative Chicago-Style

3-18-CreativeCHI-CreativeCH.jpg

Award-winning graphic designer Rick Valicenti of Thirst/3st explores ways design can be used to portray real human presence and art.

Sunday at 10 a.m. on CAN TV21.

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Overload: Cultivating a Trustworthy Brand

3-18-CreativeCHI-Creative.jpg

Chris Kaskie, the president of Pitchfork, shares how he went from being the online music magazine's first full-time employee to leading a company that was called "the most prominent brand in online music journalism" by the New York Times.

Sunday at 11 a.m. on CAN TV21.

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Louder Than a Bomb Poetry Slam: Indy Finals

3-18-LouderThan.jpg

The top individual young artists in Chicago perform poetry, oral storytelling and hip-hop spoken word to compete for a spot on the 2013 Louder than A Bomb All-Star Team.

Sunday at 12:30 p.m. on CAN TV21.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:55 AM | Permalink

March 22, 2013

The [Friday] Papers

"With Chicago Public Schools facing a financial meltdown, Mayor Rahm Emanuel's administration on Thursday targeted 61 school buildings for closing, unleashing a torrent of criticism from anxious parents, children and teachers as well as aldermen," the Tribune reports.

Is CPS facing a financial meltdown? I'm not convinced.

But let us continue.

"Officials said the shutdowns would affect 30,000 students, almost all in kindergarten through eighth grade and most now attending poorly performing schools in African-American neighborhoods on the South and West sides where enrollment has sagged in recent years."

That's more than three times the size of Northwestern's student body. It's slightly more than the entire population of Wilmette. It's slightly less than the entire population of Lichtenstein. The logistics are mind-boggling. It's the largest school closing in U.S. history. In the hands of CPS. Our CPS. This CPS.

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"Savings from closing schools, though, won't kick in immediately."

If at all. That's another assumption that is far more specious claim than plausible fact.

"The debate is complicated by the fact that CPS has not reaped the benefits of closing schools in the past," Catalyst Chicago reported last October.

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"Officials estimate school upgrades and enhanced security and other transition costs will add $233 million to expenses in the short term, most of it paid for through bond debt at a time when the district's credit rating has dropped."

Or CPS could buy Manchester United.

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"But for many parents and children, Thursday's announcement means only that they're being displaced from familiar neighborhood schools and will face in some cases longer - and scarier - walks to class over busy streets that crisscross competing gang territories."

Well, as Richard M. Daley said in 2009, "The day that the city of Chicago decides to divide schools by gang territory, that's the day we have given up the city."

*

"Ald. Walter Burnett, 27th, said school officials have tried to ease his concerns over closings and security by offering perks to schools in his ward that will remain open.

"They're talking about giving me (International Baccalaureate) programs, (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) programs, air conditioning for my schools," he said.

"I think they should have been doing these things already. And I don't want to take those things at the stake of somebody losing their life. And I'm telling you, that's what's going to happen. I don't want to take air conditioning and then have somebody's blood on my hands."

"Other improvements officials promised for welcoming schools include air conditioning in every classroom and a library with new books and digital material. However, the district acknowledged that most schools taking in displaced students already have libraries and only four will need to be added."

Besides the fact that CPS officials have suddenly gotten the CTU's religion about air conditioning and libraries, it appears they are only offering such amenities to schools that don't necessarily need them. Which isn't a real rigorous way of doling out resources, which is just the issue they say they are trying to fix.

*

"The district also pledged to provide iPads to third- through eighth-grade students at schools taking in displaced students."

*

"Becky Carroll, a CPS spokeswoman, said closings would help the district concentrate resources at schools in struggling communities.

"These are communities that have historically been underserved, and what (Byrd-Bennett) wants to do as a result of this process is give children in those communities all the support that they need to have a quality education," Carroll said.

Underserved by who? Daley was the mayor for 22 years, during which time he took direct control of the city's schools. Just say it. Say his name. I'm begging you.

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Barbara Byrd-Bennett asked scornfully on Chicago Tonight last night - and then again on WGN-TV's 9 o'clock news - where all the "audacious" voices opposing school closings were when their schools were deteriorating.

Um, right here, fighting against the very policies of the very people you now blame for this very predicament. Where were you?

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Where was Rahm? Aiding and abetting Daley.

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Where was Carroll? Working for Daley and Rod Blagojevich.

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Let me tell you something, Barbara: Those audacious voices have been in the shit since day one.

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"The school closing debate has been running full tilt since November, when Emanuel persuaded state lawmakers to extend a statutory deadline to announce closings for next school year from December to the end of March."

That deadline was enacted to insure there was adequate time to plan for transitioning students to new schools. When a dozen schools at most would be closed in a single year.

*

"Charters, which Emanuel also frequently touts, will also profit from the move to merge schools. Altogether, six charters will be allowed to expand or open new campuses in underenrolled neighborhood schools, including some high schools."

Or, as Lafayette Elementary parent Rosemary Vega says in this report:

"They say it's underutilized, but there's a charter school being built right now down the block . . . Why do they get the resources and we don't?"

*

"CPS has closed schools in the past, but never more than a dozen in a year. Cawley said 24 previously closed buildings have been put up for sale, with a handful receiving bids."

So get ready for a bunch of empty buildings in our most devastated neighborhoods. What will be the additional cost to police enforcing their broken-windows strategy?

*

"Initially, CPS pitched massive school closings as a savings measure in light of a projected $1 billion deficit," WBEZ reports.

"Thursday, district officials used other arguments: 'Fundamentally this work is about improving the educational opportunities for our students,' said Todd Babbitz, who's overseeing the closings for the district. 'We do as a district today have resources that are spread much, much too thin. We are spending way more on buildings that we believe are unnecessary in our footprint.'

Todd Babbitz is an MBA from McKinsey. Told ya so.

*

"School closings are being pushed across the country as a cost savings solution, despite studies that show they tend to save little money."

Oh, the rich irony of CPS ignoring its studies.

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That's enough for today. You can catch up with more school closings commentary via our Twitter feed.

The Political Odds
Updated to reflect recent events.

Random Food Report
Nuremburger Principles & Taco Tumult.

The Week In Chicago Rock
They played at a venue near you on Wednesday night.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Melting.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 11:25 AM | Permalink

Random Food Report: Nuremburger Principles, The 7X7 & Taco Tumult

Mmmm.

1. "Similar to the Nuremburger sometimes offered at McDonald's Germany, McDonald's China is now serving Sausage Double Beef Burgers," FoodBeast reports.

mcdonalds-china-double-beef-sausage-burger.jpg

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By the way, here's the Nuremburger.

nurnburger.jpg

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See also:
* Pinned McDonald's Global Menu Items
* Tribune Evergreen Click-Getter McDonald's Food You Can't Get Here

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Also on the McDonald's beat:

"When McDonald's rolled out its McCafe lineup, it was going after Starbucks. But it has a new rival now: Subway," Ad Age reports in McDonald's To Launch 'Subway Buster': The McWrap.

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2. From Steak 'n Shake:

"America's night owls voted, and results show your local Steak 'n Shake ranks among the top 50 locations selected by Facebook fans to host an UP ALL NIGHT Party that includes a Free Breakfast Taco, Free Coffee and other exciting giveaways.

"The UP ALL NIGHT Party is in celebration of the late-night breakfast hours and new UP ALL NIGHT Menu, featuring items such as slingers and the colossal seven-patty Steakburger, called the 7X7. To celebrate, dine-in guests can each receive one Free Breakfast Taco.

"For a week, Facebook fans across the U.S. were rallied to enter their preferred Steak 'n Shake location to host an UP ALL NIGHT Party. After voting closed, nearly 50 locations were selected by popular vote to host UP ALL NIGHT parties nationwide.

"Additionally, breakfast is now served from midnight to 11:00 a.m. in most locations. To promote the new Late Night breakfast hours, Steak 'n Shake locations are offering Free Coffee from midnight to 6:00 a.m. every day of the week."

Our locations:

Steak 'n Shake
16110 Harlem Ave.
Tinley Park

Steak 'n Shake
10421 Touhy Ave.
Rosemont

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"Tinley Park will have a DJ from WKSC-FM, KISS-FM. Touhy's location will have a DJ from WBBM-FM, B96."

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Gurnee is also on the list, along with 7 other Illinois locations.

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Also on the Steak 'n Shake beat:

Their word of the day is Slinger.

slinger.jpg

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3. Taco Bell Responds To Cool Ranch Taco Tumult.

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4. Pepsi's New Twist.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:48 AM | Permalink

The Week In Chicago Rock

You shoulda been there.

1. Ryan Leslie at Reggie's on Wednesday night.


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2. Richard Thompson at the Symphony Center on Wednesday night.

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3. Great Big Sea at the House of Blues on Wednesday night.

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4. Adia at Martyr's on Wednesday night.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:20 AM | Permalink

March 21, 2013

The [Thursday] Papers

"Chicago Public Schools is expected to announce today the long-awaited list of schools it wants to close," Linda Lutton reports.

"WBEZ has independently confirmed published reports that the district will propose shutting down more than 50 elementary schools - 11 percent of all grammar schools it runs.

"In addition, WBEZ has learned that another handful of schools will see their staffs completely dismissed, in an effort to address low performance.

"If approved, this would be the largest single round of school closings ever undertaken in the country, and 3.5 times more school shake-ups than Chicago has tried before in a single year.

"Nearly all of the thousands of affected students are African American and attend schools on the South or West Sides, or near former public housing developments."

That pretty much sums it up.

*

On WGN-TV this morning, schools chief Barbara Byrd-Bennett said that the issue is simply one of demographics. In other words, let's punish our most disinvested neighborhoods by disinvesting in them even more!

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The demographic argument may seem logical, but it's actually quite deadly. This is what I posted on a Facebook thread this morning about it:

By that score, the closings look logical. But here's the problem, IMHO. The city should be asking itself why so many blacks left (not entirely hard to figure out) and how it can become a more attractive place to live for all socioeconomic and racial segments. Closing schools is not going to make those neighborhoods more attractive, but decidedly less. It's anti-development, if you will. Also, in some neighborhoods those schools are the last remaining civic anchors. Will more crime and disinvestment follow? Likely. Also, schools with smaller class sizes may be *just* what kids in the poorest neighborhoods need! Let's use it to everyone's advantage!

Another commenter quoted from a study that also questioned the demographic argument:

Chicago Public Schools claims that Chicago's population loss is the reason why schools are underutilized. CPS officials point to Chicago's population loss over the last decade (resulting in 144,035 fewer children living in Chicago from 2000 to 2010) as creating 139,000 empty seats in CPS. However, according to a WBEZ analysis of CPS's Racial/Ethnic Survey data, the school system only reported a loss of 31,500 students during this period.

In any case, if those were white students, the mayor would be building new schools to get them back.

*

Oh wait, he's not only building new schools for everyone else, he's turned it into a patronage project.

See also: 3 Relatives Of UNO Boss On Payroll Of Charter School Operator.

*

Trying that earlier line another way: Let's punish neighborhoods that have already been punished so badly that 200,000 residents have left by making them even worse!

*

From the Tribune's account:

"Rahm Emanuel, I've been a supporter of yours since day one, but you've done us wrong this time," said Ald. Carrie Austin, 34th. "He's forgetting about the people who helped put him in office.

"I don't think anything is a done deal in this city. I'm not going to let them do this to us, not again," she said. "Every time the whites get to screaming and hollering, they back off and steamroll over black and brown folks. Not this time."

And:

"Ald. Willie Cochran, 20th, said he hasn't had any conversations with mayoral or CPS officials about school closings in several days. 'It is just unfortunate they don't show more respect for the alderman in any of the decisions that they make. There should have been briefings before it became public,' Cochran said.

"Cochran said Emanuel's administration has failed to listen to black aldermen who have been generally supportive. 'If you look at the city's investments in the communities, it speaks for itself,' he said."

True. But whose fault is that?

Durbin Is For Madigan
That's the upshot.

Giant Sucking Sound
"Chicago taxpayers have been hit with a $57.8 million ruling in favor of the private company that runs four city-owned, downtown parking garages - stuck with that bill because former Mayor Richard M. Daley's administration mistakenly allowed a competing garage to open nearby, according to documents obtained by the Chicago Sun-Times."

How ironic: Privatization is anti-competitive and distorts market forces.

Reporting Trough
"As the Chicago Cubs owners try to seal a deal to renovate Wrigley Field, Ald. Thomas Tunney finds himself portrayed as the big obstacle to getting it done," the Tribune reports in the kind of passive construction J students are taught to avoid.

"The artificial deadline, the carefully leaked tidbits and the specter of relocation are out of the well-worn playbook used by sports owners to win a stadium deal. They also have helped paint Tunney as the bad guy standing in the way of a $500 million deal to rehab the stadium, build a hotel and create a plaza."

Name names!

Who is doing the leaking? The Ricketts family? City Hall? Guess what: Some reporters know!

And who is doing the portraying? The media!

"With negotiations continuing ahead of an April 1 deadline declared by Cubs Chairman Tom Ricketts, the pressure has mounted as fast as the storylines being pushed: The Cubs are engaged in early talks with Rosemont and DuPage County about relocating. Tunney wants to move Wrigley's iconic scoreboard and put in a giant video screen."

Who is pushing the storylines? Who is buying the storylines?

The Sun-Times, for example, put the scoreboard story on its front page - a week after the Cubs had rejected the idea.

"[S]ources close to the negotiations let it be known that Tunney at one point in recent weeks discussed moving the iconic center field scoreboard to make way for a Jumbotron-like screen."

Name those sources!

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I'm not advocating burning sources, I'm advocating not allowing "sources" to go off-the-record in the first place for the purpose of planting leaks that advance a political agenda but are at odds with the facts. The larger story, in this case, is who is doing the "leaking," not what the "leaks" are. They aren't even leaks, which connote some level of whistleblowing. They are unvetted political leverage points transmitted without accountability.

*

"[A] top City Hall source said the mayor played no role in the scoreboard leak."

I don't doubt it, though I'm a bit rankled that top City Hall sources will tell the (presumable) truth - off-the-record - only when convenient, and otherwise not. Reporters shouldn't allow a sliding standard of truthability.

But this much is true: The mayor doesn't give a shit about the scoreboard.

*

"Cubs spokesman Julian Green said Wednesday that the team's deadline is real and that the organization is not orchestrating attacks on Tunney."

So the reader is to believe that neither City Hall nor the Cubs are responsible for the leaks. Are we better off as citizens now?

*

Over at the Sun-Times, Fran Spielman pretends her paper hasn't played its usual role as patsy to perfection in an "analysis" that reports "The coup de gras came this week, in what Emanuel advisers consider a Cubs' ploy to smear Tunney by disclosing the alderman's 'dismissed' proposal to move Wrigley's iconic centerfield scoreboard to make way for a video scoreboard that would generate millions without blocking anybody's view."

So first the Cubs run to the Sun-Times to conduct a smear campaign against Tunney, then the Emanuel administration runs to the Sun-Times to conduct a smear campaign against the Cubs for running to the Sun-Times to conduct a smear campaign against Tunney. And then the Sun-Times writes up how each side is conducting a smear campaign in an "analysis" that fails to mention itself as the instrument of said smear campaigns.

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Comment from Jerry Stemnock:

I had to check the Sun-Times itself to see if Spielman really wrote "coup de gras." It seems she did. Copy editors and proofreaders are always the first to be fired.

A coup de grace, literally a grace blow, is the stroke that finally kills one's enemy. A coup de gras, on the other hand, is literally a fat blow. Which, on reflection, is maybe more accurate.

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"Mayoral pal David Axelrod added fuel to the anti-Tunney fire by tweeting from spring training that, 'No team should be held hostage the way the Cubs have to rooftop owners and the ward pols they own.' Never mind that Axelrod's old firm has worked for the Cubs," Spielman writes.

Never mind that Spielman works for the Sun-Times.

*

"The Cubs' campaign left mayoral confidants fuming . . . 'They just accused the alderman of desecrating Wrigley Field, and Axelrod is out there saying Tunney is in the rooftops' pocket. Every time we make progress, the Cubs do something stupid to set us back,' said a mayoral confidant, who asked to remain anonymous."

Okay.

"Ricketts' spokesman Dennis Culloton flatly denied that the Cubs were orchestrating a campaign to pressure Emanuel into taking sides."

So someone is lying. Only a few reporters know who, and they're keeping it to themselves.

*

Finally, back to the Tribune:

"The projects would generate $19 million a year in new city, county and state tax revenue, without taxpayer support, according to Ricketts family estimates."

Straight out of the "well-worn playbook!" C'mon!

Just because they say it doesn't mean you have to use it. History and experience tells us this number is less likely to be true than the Cubs winning the World Series this year.

Circus Trip
"It's been less than four years since the Renzo Piano designed Modern Wing of the Art Institute opened to great fanfare," Lynn Becker writes on his Architecture Chicago blog.

"After this coming Labor Day, to much less fanfare, the third floor galleries, covering Modern European Art from 1900 to 1950, will be shutting down for over six months, as nearly 100 works, including 10 Picasso's and 10 Matisse's, are packed up and shipped to Fort Worth for the Kimbell Art Museum's exhibition The Age of Picasso and Matisse: Modern Masters form the Art Institute of Chicago. Running through next February, it's billed as 'the largest loan of its kind from the Art Institute.'"

Click through to read Becker's fascinating analysis, in which he concludes:

"[N]o one can begrudge the Art Institute taking the time to 'fine tune' the Modern Wing. And yes, everything should be back in place by this time next year. Move on; nothing to see here - I get it.

"Still, I can't quite shake the nagging feeling that something's not quite right, that we should be expecting more from a $294 million building only four years old than having a huge chunk of it shut down for six months while the priceless treasures it was built to display are exiled out of view."

Not Romney
Obama's Choice For Energy Secretary Checks Off All The Key Revolving Door Boxes Including BP.

Specialty Crop News: The EverCrisp Apple!
Tastes sweet, less maintenance.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Never soggy.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:32 AM | Permalink

March 20, 2013

Specialty Crop News: The EverCrisp Apple!

The EverCrisp Apple is a new apple tree developed and released in 2012 by the Midwest Apple Improvement Association after more than a decade of careful cross-breeding.

This variety was cultivated and tested specifically for the climate and challenges faced by growers in the midwest portions of the United States.

In the spring of 1997, participating growers made their first crosses, with breeding parents chosen for their cropping reliability, disease resistance, and flavor/quality attributes. Breeding has continued each year since, and well over 50,000 seedlings have been distributed to members to grow, fruit, and evaluate.

In 2007 seedlings began fruiting and the first selections were identified for propagation and further evaluation. Tastings are held at the membership's annual winter meetings. At these meetings members have been privileged to listen to a 'who's who' of fruit breeders from around the world.

evercrisp-apple-size.png

See also:
* Apple Stays EverCrisp

* Hello EverCrisp, Goodbye Fuji?

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Characteristics:
* Sweet flavor

* Texture similar to Honeycrisp

* Resembles Fuji in shape and appearance

* Long storability

* Greater apple density

* Less maintenance

* Ripens mid-October

* Long picking window

See more here.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 11:28 AM | Permalink

Obama's Choice For Energy Secretary Checks Off All The Key Revolving Door Boxes Including BP

When President Obama nominated Ernest Moniz to be energy secretary earlier this month, he hailed the nuclear physicist as a "brilliant scientist" who, among his many talents, had effectively brought together "prominent thinkers and energy companies" in the continuing effort to figure out a safe and economically sound energy future for the country.

Indeed, Moniz's collaborative work - best captured in the industry-backed research program he oversaw at The Massachusetts Institute of Technology - is well known. So, too, is his support for Obama's "all of the above" energy strategy - one that embraces, fossil fuels, nuclear, and renewable energy sources.

But beyond his job in academia, Moniz has also spent the last decade serving on a range of boards and advisory councils for energy industry heavyweights, including some that do business with the Department of Energy. That includes a six-year paid stint on BP's Technology Advisory Council as well as similar positions at a uranium enrichment company and a pair of energy investment firms.

Such industry ties aren't uncommon for cabinet nominees, and Obama specifically praised Moniz for understanding both environmental and economic issues.

Still, Moniz's work for energy companies since he served in President Clinton's Energy Department has irked some environmentalists.

"His connections to the fossil fuel and nuclear power industries threaten to undermine the focus we need to see on renewables and energy efficiency," said Tyson Slocum, director of the energy program at the consumer advocacy group Public Citizen.

Slocum pointed out that Moniz, if confirmed, will set research and investment priorities, including at the department's network of national laboratories.

The Energy Department hands out billions of dollars in contracts and loan guarantees as it pushes energy research and development and administers the nation's nuclear weapons stockpile and cleanup efforts. (On fracking, probably the highest-profile energy issue of the moment, the Environmental Protection Agency has jurisdiction.)

Reaction to Moniz's nomination has been mixed among environmental groups, ranging from support (Natural Resources Defense Council) to concerned acceptance (Sierra Club) to outright opposition (Food and Water Watch).

What criticism there has been has focused on his support for nuclear power and for natural gas extracted through fracking as a "bridge fuel" to transition away from coal.

Here's what we know about Moniz's recent involvement with the energy industry:

  • He was on BP's Technology Advisory Council between 2005 and 2011, a position for which he received a stipend, according to BP. Spokesman Matt Hartwig said the company does not disclose details of such payments. (A 2012 BP financial report disclosed that one council member received about $6,200.) The council "provides feedback and advice to BP's executive management as to the company's approach to research and technology," according to the company. BP has also provided $50 million in funding to Moniz's MIT Energy Initiative. Moniz talked about that relationship while delivering a warm introduction before a 2009 speech at MIT by BP's then-CEO Tony Hayward.
  • From 2002 to 2004, Moniz sat on the strategic advisory council of USEC, a public company that provides enriched uranium to nuclear power plants. A company spokesman said Moniz was paid for his role on the nine-member council, but declined to say how much. USEC, which has been seeking a $2 billion loan guarantee from the Energy Department for a centrifuge plant in Ohio, has applauded Moniz's nomination.
  • He's on the board of ICF International, a Fairfax, Virginia-based company which does energy and environmental consulting. It has received Energy Department contracts as part of what one executive called a "longstanding relationship with the Department of Energy." As a board member, Moniz got $158,000 in cash and stock in 2011, according to the company's most recent annual report.
  • He is on the strategic advisory council of NGP Energy Technology Partners, a private equity firm that invests in both alternative energy and fossil fuel companies. The Washington, D.C.-based firm declined to comment.
  • He is on the board of advisers of another private equity firm, the Angeleno Group,which says it provides "growth capital for next generation clean energy and natural resources companies." The Los Angeles-based firm didn't respond to requests for comment.
  • He is a trustee of King Abdullah Petroleum Studies and Research Center (KAPSARC), a Saudi Aramco-backed nonprofit organization. The organization did not respond to requests for comment.
  • He was on the board of directors of the Electric Power Research Institute from 2007 to 2011, following a stint on the group's advisory council that began in 2002. A nonprofit utility consortium, the organization does research for the industry with an annual budget of over $300 million. The group paid Moniz $8,000 between 2009 and 2011, according to its most recent tax returns.
  • Since 2006, Moniz has been on the board of General Electric's "ecomagination" advisory board which advises the company on "critical environmental and business issues." The company did not respond to inquiries about compensation.

A spokesperson for the MIT Energy Initiative said Moniz is not giving interviews, and the White House didn't respond to requests for comment.

Moniz's nomination has not encountered resistance from the Senate, where the Energy and Natural Resources Committee is scheduled to hold a hearing on Moniz April 9.

As part of the nomination process, Moniz has to fill out a financial disclosure that will become public, along with an ethics agreement on how he will avoid any conflicts of interest.

If confirmed Moniz won't be the first energy secretary who has been close to industry.

Steven Chu, the outgoing energy secretary, received scrutiny over his ties to BP. The company had chosen the lab Chu headed at the University of California, Berkeley, to lead a $500 million energy research project. BP's chief scientist at the time of the grant, Steven Koonin, became Chu's undersecretary for science.

When the Energy Department became involved in the government's response to the 2010 Gulf oil spill, Koonin recused himself. Critics who thought the administration was too soft on the company pointed to Chu's ties to BP. But no evidence emerged that Chu had played any role going to bat for BP within the administration.

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Comments welcome.


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 11:17 AM | Permalink

The [Wednesday] Papers

"Despite a $1 billion budget deficit projected by Chicago Public Schools for next year, district officials rolled out a list of investments they will be pouring into schools receiving students displaced by school closings," the Tribune reports.

"District officials said they are closing a large number of schools, hoping to address the looming budget shortfall. They have not released how much it will cost to shut down schools, provide extra security and safety programs for students, and equip receiving schools with upgrades like science labs, libraries and air conditioning.

"Each welcoming school will have the things that parents, teachers and CPS agree students need, such as a library, air conditioning, dramatic computer and science technology upgrades, and counseling and social work support," said school CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett in a press release issued shortly after midnight.

Shortly after midnight? Quick, check the roofs!

But seriously, that sounds good. By consolidating schools, the district can pour resources into those that survive and finally assure that each facility has science labs, libraries and air conditioning.

Except that closing a spate of schools is as likely to produce such investable savings as the torture panels from Persepolis is likely to shock our city's seventh-graders.

"[A] 2011 study by the Pew Charitable Trusts revealed that many districts that have closed schools have realized few savings in the initial years because of significant costs to mothball closed buildings, transition students, move equipment and add upgrades to receiving schools. The average annual savings in the short run, according to study, were well under $1 million per school."

And that was in cities without the Chicago corruption tax.

From the study:

The money saved as the result of closing schools, at least in the short run, has been relatively small in the context of big-city school-district budgets, with the largest savings achieved when closings were combined with large-scale layoffs. Longer-term savings are difficult to project. In Philadelphia, school officials have downplayed expectations about the immediate impact on the district's bottom line, saying that the amount will be largely dependent on sales of unused buildings.

Selling or leasing surplus school buildings, many of which are located in declining neighbor-hoods, tends to be extremely difficult. No district has reaped anything like a windfall from such transactions. As of the summer of 2011, at least 200 school properties stood vacant in the six cities studied - including 92 in Detroit alone - with most having been empty for several years. If left unused for long, the buildings can become eyesores that cast a pall over neighborhoods and attract vandalism and other illicit activity.

The long-term effect of school closings on student performance appears to be minimal. While there is limited research on the subject, academic studies suggest that student achievement often falls during the final months of a closing school's existence. But such damage generally turns out to be short-lived. And some students wind up going to higher-performing schools and doing better there.

Which leads a reasonable person to ask: What's the point?

"CPS says the schools receiving students will be getting extra tutoring, mentoring, social and emotional learning programs and library supports such as books and digital resources. The receiving schools will also be getting capital investments like lunchrooms, new technology, ADA accessibility and where needed upgraded floors, ceilings and masonry."

Again, that sounds good. But why not just do that with our existing schools? (I'm temporarily ignoring the fact that we've been told for decades that just such investments have been made.)

The whole thing just exposes the trick bag the district (led by the micromanagement of Rahm Emanuel) has put itself in by trying to justify its onrush of crisis management with a series of contradictory claims and rationales. Is this really about saving money? Because that's not going to happen. Improving student performance? Ditto. Personally, I vote for Rahm's ego fueled by a need to justify his existence and his typical Napoleonic overreach combined with a vision unarticulated to the public (directly, at least) of a much-smaller district supplemented with far more charter schools (aka, privatization). Which is something parents have never consented to.

*

Let's be honest: Every school is a science lab, and the kids are the guinea pigs.

*

Meanwhile . . .

"Schools CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett and the ex-Marine she put in charge of the transition told the Chicago Sun-Times on Tuesday that the cost of moving children from closed schools to new ones and improving the buildings they end up in will be paid for within two years using savings from the closed schools."

And the school closers will be greeted as liberators.

*

Meanwhile . . .

Here's CPS chief administration officer Tim Cawley, who received a waiver from the city's residency requirement so his daughter could continue going to school in Winnetka, doing his best imitation of a Comcast customer service rep.

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This just in: I've located the decision-makers.

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I hope your school closings go well.

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Meanwhile . . .

"Six Chicago aldermen opposed to Mayor Rahm Emanuel's efforts to shutter schools called on legislators to place a temporary moratorium on closings for at least a year, but the effort fizzled Tuesday," the Tribune reports.

"Sen. Iris Martinez, D-Chicago, chaired the hearing because [regular chair and Chicago state Sen. Willie] Delgado sponsored the bill."

Oh, I guess if you sponsor a bill you can't also chair a committee hearing about it because that would be a conflict-of-interest.

"Martinez was an appointee of Chicago Public Schools CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett on a commission that held hearings and provided help in guiding the decisions on closings."

Oh.

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"After more than an hour of testimony, Martinez pressed Delgado to say whether he would remove the moratorium. 'Are we gutting the bill?' she asked pointedly."

And the district, he replied, in my imagination.

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Local TV Notes
Lake County's Star Trek Landing Party, A Local Face Off Finalist & The Return of Chicago's King Counterfeiter.

Local Book Notes
The Boxcar Kid Of Oak Forest, Poetry As Comedy & Bridgeport Billy.

Fantasy Fix
The Top 30 Outfielders: Not Very Chicagoey.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: As a liberator.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:36 AM | Permalink

Local Book Notes: The Boxcar Kid Of Oak Forest, Poetry As Comedy & Bridgeport Billy

Over the transom.

1. Oak Forest 9-Year-Old Wins Voice Part In Animated Film of The Boxcar Children.

Olivia Bell, a third-grader at Trinity Lutheran School in Tinley Park and resident of Oak Forest, will voice a small part in the upcoming animated adaptation of the classic book The Boxcar Children by Gertrude Chandler Warner.

The contest, run by the publisher of the series Albert Whitman & Company (Park Ridge, IL), took place in Fall 2012 to celebrate both the new film and the 70th Anniversary of the series.

The taping will take place on Thursday, March 21 in the Carol Stream studios of Oasis Audio, the publisher of the audio versions of many of the books in The Boxcar Children Mysteries books.

The director of the film, Mark Dippe, from Hammerhead Production, will direct Olivia in the role via phone.

Eh. Sounds a little gimmicky. But here's the Wikpedia entry for The Boxcar Children.

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2. Poetry as Comedy.

From W. H. Auden to Lewis Carroll, John Updike to Ogden Nash, Ezra Pound to Dorothy Parker, some of our brightest poetic minds have enjoyed using their skills in works designed to tickle our funny bones.

This program will bushwhack through poetry in English, bouncing from Robert Lowell to Edward Lear, Emily Dickinson to Wallace Stevens, and Elizabeth Bishop to Edna St. Vincent Millay.

Under the direction of Second City founder Bernard Sahlins, a trio of Chicago's finest actors will bring us an evening of poems and laughter.

This is a Poetry Foundation deal. The deets:

When: Sunday, March 24, 3 p.m./Monday, March 25, 7 p.m.
Where: Poetry Foundation, 61 West Superior Street
Admission: Free admission on a first-come, first-served basis

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3. Bridgeport Billy.

Nelson Algren Award winner Billy Lombardo will hold a craft talk titled Beginnings: Germs, Openings, and Discoveries at Roosevelt University at 5 p.m. on Monday, March 25 at the Gage Gallery, 18 S. Michigan Ave.

Lombardo will address the three beginnings of fiction, and will talk about the joys and dangers that come with the first crush of an idea and staying open to discovery.

He also promises to reveal the best piece of advice that no one ever told him about fiction writing.

Born and raised in Bridgeport, and currently a resident of Forest Park, Lombardo is the author of a number of books, including How to Hold a Woman, The Man with Two Arms, and The Logic of a Rose: Chicago Stories, as well as Meanwhile, Roxy Mourns, a collection of poetry and prose.

The 2011 recipient of the Nelson Algren Award for Short Story Fiction, Lombard also has won the G.S. Sharat Chandra Prize for Short Fiction and his collection, The Logic of a Rose: Chicago Stories, was chosen by the Chicago Tribune as Best Fiction of 2005.

Free admission as well.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 1:55 AM | Permalink

Fantasy Fix: The Top 30 Outfielders

The biggest thing happening pre-draft at the OF position is that Bryce Harper is racing up the rankings. If you thought Harper's hype as rookie knew no limits, a whole new standard is being set for his second season. I was in a fantasy draft this week where someone predicted he will run away with the NL MVP trophy.

The interesting thing is that all the hype doesn't seem so outlandish, as there is very little separating Harper from 2012 AL Rookie of the Year and 2013 No.1 fantasy pick Mike Trout.

I'm buying in - I originally had Harper as my No. 22 overall picks and No. 9 among outfielders, but I now have him seventh at his position and No. 17 overall.

1. Mike Trout. Brilliant all around and a better supporting cast this year. Prediction: .330 BA/40 HR/100 RBIs/40 SBs/140 Runs.

2. Ryan Braun. I had him ranked third until a week ago; now I'm giving him the edge over the No. 3 man based on projected HRs and OPS.

3. Andrew McCutchen. A good bet for 30/30, which might push him ahead of Braun by the end of the season.

4. Carlos Gonzalez. Only thing keeping him from being in the top 3 is that he might be a stretch to reach 30 HRs, but has all the same tools.

5. Matt Kemp. I'm wavering on Kemp, and could feel good about ranking him as high as No. 2 on this list, but he failed to deliver on massive hype last year.

6. Giancarlo Stanton. 50-HR potential, but somewhat one-dimensional unless he gets traded - then, watch out.

7. Bryce Harper. I could easily seem him going 30/30, with the added benefit of double-digit triples and maybe 40 doubles.

8. Jose Bautista. I have a soft spot for him, and think he could hit over 40 HRs and score 100-plus runs for perhaps the top AL team.

9. Justin Upton. A huge spring is arguing for a higher ranking, though I'm still sore from over-valuing him last year.

10. B.J. Upton. The surer bet of the Upton brothers should break 30 HRs, and has the potential for 40 SBs.

11. Josh Hamilton. I'm iffy on him being able to achieve Texas-like numbers in L.A., but he should drive in and score plenty.

12. Yoenis Cespedes. Another threat in every offensive category, flying under the radar because of injuries last year.

13. Jason Heyward. Should benefit from the Upton brothers presence in the lineup.

14. Adam Jones. Mini-MVP year in 2012, and could rise from this ranking if he gets on a 100-RBI pace.

15. Jacoby Ellsbury. Hard to trust with injury-riddled past, but has the tools to fill many stat categories.

16. Jay Bruce. A lot of people love him, and he certainly has 40 HR/100 RBI stuff, but BA in the .250s leaves me wanting more.

17. Adrian Gonzalez. Back in the division where he did the most damage, and won't be pressured to be the star.

18. Allen Craig. The Pujols of the immediate future for the Cardinals is an RBI machine.

19. Matt Holliday. Hasn't broken 30 HRs since 2007, but very consistent RBI and BA producer.

20. Ben Zobrist. If you miss out on the top five OFs but still want a guy who does everything, he's the bargain version.

21. Alex Rios. Looking good in the World Baseball Classic, and seems to have finally found a consistent hitting stroke last year.

22. Desmond Jennings. Started pathetically in 2012 and finished strong; could steal 50 bases if he gets on, with at least 20 HRs.

23. Shin Soo Choo. I expect him to continue rebounding from a poor 2011, and his new home could help him to more than 25 HRs.

24. Michael Bourn. Will be interesting to see how he adjusts to the AL, but he gets on base almost every day and could steal 50, with double-digit triples.

25. Alex Gordon. Dropped from 23 HRs to 14 last year, but eye-popping 51 doubles is the key to his ranking here.

26. Carlos Gomez. Unexpected HR binge late last season to go with great spead makes him look like a 20/40 candidate.

27. Carlos Beltran. 32 HRs and 97 RBIs in 2012 should be worth more, but at 36 it may be hard to match those numbers.

28. Austin Jackson. A bit of a sleeper here - a .300 hitter who could reach 20 HRs and has the speed for more than 20 SBs and double-digit triples.

29. Shane Victorino. Good home park for him to pile up extra-base hits and the occasional inside-the-park HR. A little higher BA could help him break 50 SBs.

30. Carl Crawford. A former top five overall pick has fallen far, but probably will start the season close to healthy, and could end up being a draft steal this deep.

Sleepers:

Christian Yelich: Tearing it up this spring with five HRs and almost a .400 BA. Will start the season on the farm, but a nice draft-late-and-wait option.

Ichiro Suzuki: He's being skipped in a lot of drafts, but could have a late-career resurgence in New York with double-digit HRs and 30-plus SBs.

Alfonso Soriano: Found his way back to 32 HRs and 108 RBIs for a 101-loss team last year. Imagine if he gets traded, or the Cubs manage to be just a 90-loss team.

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Dan O'Shea is our man in fantasyland. He welcomes your comments.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:58 AM | Permalink

Local TV Notes: Lake County's Star Trek Landing Party, A Local Face Off Finalist & The Return Of Chicago's King Counterfeiter

Because it's on.

1. Lake County On Stun.

From the Sun-Times:

So, you're a dedicated Star Trek fan and you think you know everything there is to know about the show and its spinoff movies?" the Sun-Times

You might want to think again. Unless you already know Spock got caught cheating at chess, that is.

While researching the papers of Star Trek movie writer/director Nicholas Meyer, College of Lake County professors John and Maria Jose Tenuto uncovered 800 behind-the-scenes photos from his 1982 Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (along with production memos, drafts of scripts, etc.) that have never been released to the public.

They'll present roughly 100 of them during their History of Star Trek program Thursday in Vernon Hills - along with other previously unknown Trek treasures.

The deets from the College of Lake County:

Star Trek fans are invited to enjoy a trivia-filled, free presentation, The History of Star Trek: From Concept to Screen, at 7 p.m. on March 21 at Aspen Drive Library in Vernon Hills.

The presenters, College of Lake County sociology instructors John and Maria Jose Tenuto, used Star Trek movie director Nicholas Meyer's idea that 'art thrives on limitations' as a case study for researching the making of the famous 1967 episode, 'Space Seed,' starring Ricardo Montalban as the villain Khan. (The famous actor later reprised the role of Khan in the Star Trek IImovie from 1982, directed by Nicholas Meyer.)

Using rare materials from the archives of UCLA and the University of Iowa, the Tenutos obtained permission to gather all the production information, memos and versions of scripts together and have unearthed previously unknown information about the making of the episode. The presentation highlights the special attention that writers and special effects artists made to producing an enduring legacy despite budgetary, technological, cultural and other production limitations. The presentation will include rare behind-the-scenes photos and a history of the Star Trek TV show and movies.

The program is free, but registration is advised by visiting http://tinyurl.com/a5lkgel. The library is located at 701 Aspen Drive, Vernon Hills.

More:

* Nearly 70 people had signed up as of last week.

* The college "periodically offers a course in Star Trek Anthropology."

* Star Trek events on campus go back at least a few years.

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In 2011, TribLocal wrote:

John Tenuto has been a Star Trek fan since his mom bought him the original Mego Enterprise Bridge play set from a Montgomery Ward bargain basement when he was 5.

He still has that set, in addition to a remake of the set - and thousands of other Star Trek figures and pieces of memorabilia.

The avid 'Trekkie' - a term Tenuto prefers over 'Trekker' - is also a sociology teacher at the College of Lake County. He's been using his sci-fi geek-expertise to relate to students for years, ever since he saw a correlation between problems in the Trek world and problems in the real world.

And thus, the enduring appeal of the show.

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More Tenuto!

The Sociology of '70s Sitcoms Part 1:

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The Sociology of '70s Sitcoms Part 2:

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2. Face Off Finalist.

"Effects makeup specialist, Westmont-based J. Anthony Kosar, 27-year old award-winning, artist, creature designer, sculptor, theatre, film and commercials special effects creator and more, is one of 14 fiercely talented effects makeup artists competing on Season 4 of SyFy Channel's Face Off," Reel Chicago reported way back in January.

Well, Anthony has made it to the grand finale, which will be broadcast on Tuesday. You can see how he got there on this cool Wikipedia chart and also see the official episode recaps.

And here's his audition tape:

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3. The Chicago King of Counterfeiting.

CNBC's American Greed recently re-ran the episode about Art Williams Jr., Chicago's one-time counterfeit king. Williams' saga also spawned a book, which we'll turn to first via Amazon for background:

Art Williams spent his boyhood in a comfortable middle-class existence in 1970s Chicago, but his idyll was shattered when, in short order, his father abandoned the family, his bipolar mother lost her wits, and Williams found himself living in one of Chicago's worst housing projects.

He took to crime almost immediately, starting with petty theft before graduating to robbing drug dealers. Eventually a man nicknamed "DaVinci" taught him the centuries-old art of counterfeiting.

After a stint in jail, Williams emerged to discover that the Treasury Department had issued the most secure hundred-dollar bill ever created: the 1996 New Note.

Williams spent months trying to defeat various security features before arriving at a bill so perfect that even law enforcement had difficulty distinguishing it from the real thing. Williams went on to print millions in counterfeit bills, selling them to criminal organizations and using them to fund cross-country spending sprees. Still unsatisfied, he went off in search of his long-lost father, setting in motion a chain of betrayals that would be his undoing.

In The Art of Making Money, journalist Jason Kersten details how Williams painstakingly defeated the anti-forging features of the New Note, how Williams and his partner-in-crime wife converted fake bills into legitimate tender at shopping malls all over America, and how they stayed one step ahead of the Secret Service until trusting the wrong person brought them all down.

Now, the CNBC teaser.

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Finally, the whole episode.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:41 AM | Permalink

March 19, 2013

The [Tuesday] Papers

"Chicago police Superintendent Garry McCarthy said Monday that the father of a 6-month-old girl slain last week on the South Side was not changing his daughter's diaper when she was fatally shot, contrary to what police told the news media on the day of the shooting," the Tribune reports.

Also:

"McCarthy said the baby was shot once, not multiple times as published in some reports."

What the Tribune doesn't tell you is that the original account led to speculation (this post made it into a DNAinfo Chicago article, for example) that the baby's father had used her as a human shield as he tried to evade gunfire.

Also missing from this new account is a simple explanation for the police department's misinformation.

Don't get me wrong, mistakes happen. Initial accounts to police aren't always clear. But still, this was a key component to the bathos of the subsequent media narrative.

*

"McCarthy also corrected previous reports that Jonylah's mother, Judy Watkins, was shot in the knee while pregnant with the girl," AP reports. "McCarthy says Watkins' wife was not shot."

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The DNAinfo article also reports that "The Sun-Times has reported that Watkins has been 'unwilling to cooperate' with police in the case - a detail that [the Rev. Corey] Brooks strongly denied at a vigil held for the slain girl at the site of her death."

Indeed, McCarthy says the father is cooperating - though maybe not to the extent police think is possible.

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The most important song in hip-hop right now? (Item No. 2.)

Wireless Bill
"A federal agent on Monday drew a link between numerous checks cashed out of campaign funds by Cook County Commissioner William Beavers and his frequent visits to an Indiana casino to play the slots," the Tribune reports.

"Armed with detailed charts, Internal Revenue Service Agent Paul Ponzo testified that Beavers gambled on the day before, the day of or the day after he cashed all but seven of 100 campaign checks from 2006 through 2008. Beavers' spending on slot machines at the Horseshoe Casino was tracked electronically by his VIP player's card."

Maybe you should've worn that wire, Bill.

"Prosecutors zeroed in on one afternoon in April 2007 when Beavers cashed three checks for $2,000 each that he had written to himself from his 7th Ward Organization campaign fund. Ponzo testified that the first check was cashed at 12:05 p.m. and that gambling records put Beavers at a slot machine at the Horseshoe by 12:31 p.m. Beavers lost $2,100 in under an hour, Ponzo testified. Beavers cashed the remaining two checks and stayed at the Horseshoe until late afternoon, Ponzo's charts showed."

*

My understanding is that a number of Chicago pols gamble at the Horseshoe precisely because it's in Indiana and they are less likely to be recognized. Too bad the casino's full list of VIP players from Illinois isn't FOIA-able; at least keep that money here.

*

"Ponzo also alleged that Beavers tried to conceal his personal use of the campaign money. The 26-year IRS agent showed checks in which Beavers allegedly amended campaign invoices, crossed out his name on check stubs and instead wrote in a campaign expense such as a bill for printing.

"Ponzo testified that he could find no record of Beavers paying taxes on an additional $68,000 he deposited from a campaign fund into his pension in 2006."

*

No slots in prison, Bill, but you can always make some dice.

Ward Wars
"Four more City Council committees are now recognizing Chicago's new ward boundaries when it comes to making pivotal decisions impacting, traffic, transportation, housing and licensing, infuriating endangered incumbents, who claim their voters are being 'disenfranchised,'" the Sun-Times reports.

"[Zoning Committee chairman Danny Solis] said he made the decision to end a year of political limbo in response to complaints from developers who 'wanted to start doing business' in Chicago, but were 'confused about who to talk to.'"

That is, in short, bullshit.

It wouldn't be hard to tell developers that until 2015, you deal with the current aldermen and the current boundaries. That's also the law.

"Ald. Nick Sposato (36th) accused his colleagues of disenfranchising voters and overruling the legal advice outlined in a Feb. 2, 2012, memorandum written by Corporation Counsel Stephen Patton.

"In it, Patton cited legal precedent and wrote, 'These cases establish that the 2011 aldermanic elections were for full, four-year terms notwithstanding the intervening redistricting and that these aldermen represent the constituencies which elected them . . . Applicable law provides that the 2001 map, which was in effect for the 2011 aldermanic elections, should govern for the duration of those four-year terms.'"

So what's really going on? Two things, one of which Fran Spielman gets right in her story.

The first is the part about "endangered incumbents."

By sheer coincidence, those happen to be independent aldermen like Sposato.

"Sposato is one of a handful of incumbent aldermen endangered by a map that cut the heart out of his Northwest Side ward and nearly doubled its Hispanic population - from 32 percent to 61.2 percent.

"I was elected to represent people and now they're taking me away from those people and assigning the people who elected me to somebody else. This is illegal and wrong. It's not fair to the people," Sposato said.

The second, as I was recently told by an astute council observer, is that sitting aldermen simply don't need their old constituents anymore. Time to start satisfying those - including developers - who will help them win re-election in two years. Simple as that.

Jail Fail
"Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart says the jail is nearly full, and he's concerned the facility will be bursting at the seams as summer months approach and arrests typically rise with the mercury," the Sun-Times reports.

"Late last week, the jail at 27th and California was almost 96 percent full, with a daily population of 9,721. The capacity is about 10,150."

Dart is missing the obvious solution: Use CPS's formula for utilization to rework the ideal number of prisoners per cell and suddenly you've got all kinds of room.

Miracle Ears
"CEO Byrd-Bennett did not attend any of the hearings."

Short & Sharp
Michelle Shocked hates gay people, won't be performing in Evanston.

Meet The Pita Inn
Sweet baby Mohammad!

Meet Poet Marie Ponsot
The new Poetry Foundation award winner on hip-hop and Hallmark.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Both hip and hop.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:10 AM | Permalink

Local Music Notebook: Short, Sharp Shocked

A loose collection of whatnot.

1. Michelle Shocked A Lost Soul.

The anarchic skateboard punk rocker has filled her troubled soul for years with a zealous Christianity that unsurprisingly led to an anti-gay rant that caused a spate of concert cancellations by various promoters including those at SPACE in Evanston, where Shocked was to appear on May 5th.

This video from 2006 at the West Angeles Church of God in Christ displays both her devotion and powerful voice.


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"West Angeles Church of God in Christ is a Pentecostal Christian church and a member of the Church of God in Christ denomination," the church says on both its Facebook and Wikipedia pages.

"'West A' is known for both its influential pastor, dynamic city ministries and for its celebrity members, which include Magic Johnson, Denzel Washington, Stevie Wonder, Michelle Shocked, and Angela Bassett."

Washington, in fact, donated $2.5 million to the church in 1995.

The church believes in the infallibility of the Bible and the Holy Trinity.

SFist writes that "Shocked, who was born to a Mormon mother and whose real name is Karen Johnston, sounded fairly depressed and at loose ends in this 2005 interview with New York Magazine, revealing her religiosity, discussing her previous alcoholism and failed marriage, and her 'political' decision at age 22 to have her tubes tied, which she later regretted after multiple failed attempts at in-vitro fertilization."

At the same time, Shocked has retweeted this article, expressing sympathy for gay people, since the incident.

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2. "The Most Important Song In Hip-Hop Right Now."

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3. News from the Grave.

"Chicago's Earthen Grave is thrilled to announce their recent signing to Heavy Rock Leader, Ripple Music for worldwide release of their debut album, Earthen Grave . . .

"Formed in 2008, Earthen Grave is a five-piece Chicago metal band that marries the sounds of metal past and future with a sweaty, pummeling live show. Earthen Grave boasts an undeniable collective metal and musical pedigree. Each member is an accomplished musician and a veteran of the metal scene, including Ron Holzner who was a member of the seminal and seismic doom pioneers Trouble - a band widely regarded as one of the most important unsung American metal bands of all time.

"In addition, Earthen Grave has that 'extra something special' with occasional guest 6th member live and boasting a Full collaboration on the new release with Rachel Barton Pine.

"Rachel, a world-renowned classical violinist brings her frightening classical chops to a relatively new instrument, the Viper."

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Earthen Grave is scheduled to play at Bobby McGee's in Chicago Ridge on March 28th.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 5:09 AM | Permalink

Meet The Pita Inn

The Tribune reports on the passionate fans of the Pita Inn this week. Let's add value.

1. Check, Please!


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2. Steve Dolinsky.

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3. Pita Inn Menu.

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4. Pita Inn Flickr Photostream.

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5. New Location.

*

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 2:25 AM | Permalink

Meet Poet Marie Ponsot

The Chicago-based Poetry Foundation announced Monday that it was awarding Marie Ponsot its 2013 Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize.

Here she is in action.


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Here is Ponsot discussing her work, along with some of her works.

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From 2009: "Marie Ponsot speaks about her new book of poetry, Easy, about teaching, hip hop and Hallmark, and, of course, poetry."

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:42 AM | Permalink

March 18, 2013

The [Monday] Papers

"For two years, Cook County Assessor Joe Berrios has insisted in the face of nepotism allegations that county ethics rules don't apply to his office," the Sun-Times reports.

"Now, county ethics officials have hired a former City Hall inspector general to go to court and prove him wrong,

"A judge recently approved the Cook County Ethics Board's request and appointed David Hoffman a special state's attorney in the Berrios case."

It gets even more galling.

"The county has been footing the legal bill for Berrios, who also is the Cook County Democratic Party chairman, to fight the ethics panel."

Thank you, Toni Preckwinkle and Pat Quinn, for endorsing Berrios.

And thank you, Democrats, for your partisan relativism when it comes to corruption.

*

Hey Mike Madigan, you're the chair of the state party, whaddya say?

Rahm?

Anyone?

Our Illinois
"Gov. Pat Quinn has argued in recent weeks that Illinois is in the middle of a job-creation revival, but while some of his claims stand up to scrutiny, others don't, and still others do not appear based on anything concrete enough to be sure," AP reports.

Pat Quinn has lost his soul.

Oh, Cubs
"She inspired a novel and a movie starring Robert Redford when in 1949 she lured a major league ballplayer she'd never met into a hotel room with a cryptic note and shot him, nearly killing him," Don Babwin writes for AP.

"After the headlines faded, Ruth Ann Steinhagen did something else just as surprising: She disappeared into obscurity, living a quiet life unnoticed in Chicago until now, more than a half century later, when news broke that she had died three months earlier . . .

"The story, with its elements of obsession, mystery, insanity and a baseball star, made it part of both Chicago's colorful crime history and rich baseball lore."

Click through for the rest of the story.

CSI: CPS
Disaster capitalism at work.

Best In Show
* The best account I've seen of the Persepolis book ban. By Linda Lutton.

* The best reporting/explanation I've seen describing the breakdown of gang hierarchies into even smaller units than I think the media realizes. By Natalie Moore.

* The best reporting/account I've seen about how the media champions some victims of violence while disregarding others. Also by Natalie Moore.

(John Kass has also been writing about "imperfect victims.")

Interpretive Jazz Dance To The Match Game Theme
A totally viral video by our very own J.J. Tindall.

SportsMonday: Spin-O-Rama
Sharpshooting.

Zine-O-Rama
A fest, a snow home and a long-arm stapler.

Meet Calumet Fisheries
"Smoking fish our way is a disappearing art."

The Weekend In Chicago Rock
SXSW must have taken it out of everyone because this is all we could find.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Long-armed.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:28 AM | Permalink

Meet Calumet Fisheries

For 65 years, Calumet Fisheries has been run by the Kotlick-Toll family.

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On Check, Please!

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See also:
* Chicagoist: Smoked Fish And Tradition At Calumet Fisheries, Part 1

* Chicagoist: Smoked Fish And Tradition At Calumet Fisheries, Part 2

* Eastern Europeans Have A Love Affair With Smoked Fish

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:01 AM | Permalink

Zine-O-Rama

In two-and-a-half to three parts.

1. Chicago Zine Fest 2013.


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2. Snow Home.

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3. Long Arm Stapler Award.

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Click through for more super cool information.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:47 AM | Permalink

JJ's Interpretive Jazz Dance 1: The Match Game Theme

Not exactly a Goodson-Todman production.


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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:34 AM | Permalink

The Weekend In Chicago Rock

SXSW must have taken it out of everyone because this was all we could find.

1. Lynyrd Skynyrd at the Congress on Friday night.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:25 AM | Permalink

SportsMonday: Spin-O-Rama

He returns this week.

Just a guess, of course, but a good one. The time is right and the injury is just about healed.

For a while there, I didn't think Patrick Sharp would be able to make it back in the short term. It was almost two weeks ago that the Blackhawks winger crashed into the boards in an awkward way and banged up his shoulder. It looked like he might be out for a relatively long stretch, but all indications are that he will return to game action at some point in the next seven days - or at the latest, the week after that.

My money's on Wednesday against the Ducks.

After all, the Ducks have emerged as the Hawks' only rival for best record in the Western Conference. Heading into this week the Hawks (23-2-3) are, almost unbelievably, only five points ahead of Anaheim (20-3-4). And the Ducks have a game in hand.

That's a game he's going to want to make. Otherwise, look for him on the ice next Monday against the Kings.

Spin-O-Rama
Of course, I may be in trouble for even mentioning that Sharp's injury is to his shoulder. Over the weekend, the organization was still using the ridiculous "upper body injury" to describe it. The Tribune's Chris Kuc felt the need to write "A source said the injury is to Sharp's shoulder."

How about saying, "According to what we all saw and verified by the replay, Sharp skated away from the awkward collision slowly, cradling his arm in such a fashion as to eliminate the possibility that the injury was to anything other than the shoulder."

Greatest Show On Ice
The goal everyone was talking about in the Hawks' 8-1 shellacking of the Dallas Stars on Saturday night.

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But the truth is there were many better goals featuring better teamwork earlier on. My personal favorite was the beautiful two-man game Kane and Marian Hossa played on the fifth tally.

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You don't think Sharp wants back in on this as quickly as possible? He hadn't been having a big scoring season before he was injured and there won't be enough games left when he returns to pile up any sort of impressive points total. But there is so much offensive talent on this team that he has to be desperate to get back into the mix just for the fun of it.

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Jim "Coach" Coffman is our man on Mondays. He welcomes your comments.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:09 AM | Permalink

March 16, 2013

The Weekend Desk Report

Thank goodness CPS is looking to protect its students from graphic depictions of violence.

Market Update
Progress had a lackluster showing this week, as its gains were shown to lag far behind reality.

Jobs Fair
Just imagine for a second that Pat Quinn could big-time Rahm Emanuel Michigan-style. Who should he appoint to be Chicago's Emergency Financial Manager?

Well-Appointed
While we're at it, who should replace Penny Pritzker at the Chicago Board of Education? In the interest of maintaining the grand tradition of nepotism and insularity, how about Pat Quinn's brother?

Double Jeopardy
Finally, we think we've got the perfect replacement for Alex Trebek. After all, Forrest Claypool is getting really good at giving answers to questions nobody asked.

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The Weekend Desk Tip Line: Ventra grande.

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Comment From Our Very Own David Rutter: I have spent a good month awash in all the videos of Christopher Hitchens. His mind energizes me . . . and this event in Chicago is just the sort of insanity he would rant about . . . and I would, too . . . All believers in the age (and duty) of enlightenment should find it abhorrent. We are not supposed to be a place where religious blasphemy is punished. Free speech and bans on blasphemy are incongruent concepts. We are supposed to revel in the right to dismiss as stupid anyone's religion.

As Hitchens noted often: When he entered his hotel room, retrieved the Bible left there without his approval and heaves it out the window, he was violating no law except the one against litter.

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Weekend Sports Special: Letter From St. Louis: Behind Enemy Lines.

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The Sound Opinions Weekend Listening Report: "Bowie is back! Jim and Greg talk with longtime Bowie producer Toni Visconti about Space Oddity, glam, and swinging London. Then they review David Bowie's new album The Next Day, re-igniting their decades-long debate over the pop chameleon's musical legacy."

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The Flying Saucer Weekend Brunch Report: "We here at the Flying Saucer believe that everyone is entitled to healthcare; it is a right, not a privilege.

"A dear friend of the Flying Saucer, Jason C., was diagnosed with stage 4 throat cancer and does not have health insurance.

"This weekend is for Jason. 10% of all sales will go to help pay Jason's medical bills. Fellow restauranteur, loyal customer and friend, here's to you, Jason.

"And if you're feeling generous, tell your server you would like to contribute to the cause!"

saucerspecial.jpg
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The CAN TV Weekend Viewing 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.

Defying Boundaries: Becoming a 21st Century Artist

3-11-DefyingBoundaries.jpg

Emmy-award winning composer and educator Laura Karpman shares her thoughts on what it means to be an artist in the 21st century, including being mindful of the past while creating art with digital tools.

Sunday at 9 a.m. on CAN TV21.

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Global Girls Takes A Trip To India

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Girls from Chicago's South Side share their experience traveling to the Tamil Nadu region of India for an arts exchange program, learning about the local culture, creating an original show, and forming globe-spanning friendships along the way.

Sunday at 10:30 a.m. on CAN TV21.

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"Observer Effect" Panel Discussion

3-11-ObserverEffect.jpg

Artists Jessica Hyatt, Steve Roden, Steffani Jemison, and Julia Fish share their experiences utilizing observation and investigation in creating art, and reflect on what their subjective observations reveal about the artists themselves.

Sunday at 12 p.m. on CAN TV2.

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Behind The Scenes With E.T.: Spoken Word Contest

3-11-SpokenWord-sm.jpg

Local poets and storytellers compete at the Totally Positive Productions Spoken Word Contest, held at Gorilla Tango Theatre.

Sunday at 9 p.m. on CAN TV19.


Posted by Natasha Julius at 8:06 AM | Permalink

March 15, 2013

The [Friday] Papers

"As Sunshine Week comes to a close, it's important to reflect on the state of open government in Illinois, nearly four years after lawmakers and Attorney General Lisa Madigan rewrote the Freedom of Information Act," the Springfield State Journal-Register editorial board writes.

"Madigan and other legislative leaders, including Senate President John Cullerton, touted the rewrite as an antidote to both the former Gov. Rod Blagojevich scandals and Illinois' culture of government secrecy.

"This page supported the rewrite, although as with every piece of legislation, there were parts of it that were unsatisfactory.

"Even the parts that seemed like they would work have not, and it's time once again to revisit the law."

I'll say.

Click through for specifics, including a little bit - but not enough - about why the promising Public Access Counselor has turned into such a joke. I speak from personal experience on that one.

*

This, by the way, is where transparency starts, not innocuous data sets gleefully provided by your local unit of government. If only all the tech geeks working their civic butts off in complicity with efforts by officials like Rahm Emanuel to burnish their technocrat and transparency credentials would focus on FOIA first and what government doesn't want us to see, we might actually move forward for real instead of moving backward under the illusion of progress.

The Bill Beavers Show
"A powerful Chicago politician fond of playing slot machines spent thousands of dollars from his campaign coffers at a casino and then falsely declared he'd spent it on authorized campaign expenses, a prosecutor told newly seated jurors Thursday," AP reports.

"The accusations came during the sometimes dramatic openings at William Beavers' trial, where a defense attorney fired back later that the 78-year-old Cook County commissioner viewed the money as loans and eventually paid most of it back."

The idea that Beavers was just loaning himself money from his campaign fund - which doesn't strike me as legal either - is about as credible as the familiar defense that a pol or law enforcement official wasn't participating in a crime but running their own investigation.

He might as well have checked a kilo of coke out of the evidence room and, when caught, said he intended to return it, really.

*

"He didn't violate anything - except being the best darn commissioner he could be," defense lawyer Sam Adam Jr. told jurors.

Right. If I could read this into the record, judge:

"The 7th Ward alderman says he wants the 4th District commissioner's job so he can do 'less work.'"

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"Standing by boxes full of banking documents and clicking on a remote, prosecutor Sam Cole displayed three separate, $2,000 checks on a courtroom screen that Beavers wrote to himself withdrawing $6,000 from his campaign fund on April 9, 2007.

"On that day, Beavers was at the Horseshoe Casino in Hammond, Ind., using the cash to feed his gambling habit, Cole told jurors. But on an election board form later, Beavers declared the $6,000 went toward campaign expenses."

Maybe he was getting horses to sign his ballot petitions.

*

"Adam said Beavers had paid back or properly declared expenses on 86.6 percent of the roughly $225,000 in campaign money at issue.

"You would be Visa's No. 1 client if you paid back 86.6 percent," Adam shouted a few feet from the jury box. "No. 1!"

Hopefully the jury has some folks on it who pay off their credit cards in full every month, because Adam's hyperbolic assertion isn't even close to being factually correct.

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Beavers should have known better - even when he scammed expense checks out of the county he knew enough to pay taxes on it. As far as we know.

*

Prosecutors said that Beavers gambled at least $500,000 between 2005 and 2007, the Tribune reports

So more of a pigeon than a hog.

Proco Pinocchio
"Fire Breaks Out In Popular Wicker Park BBQ Restaurant."

Probably Joe Moreno's pants.

*

Too easy?

President Sunblock
"[Obama's] secrecy has become so oppressive and extreme that even the most faithful Democratic operatives are now angrily exploding with public denunciations," Glenn Greenwald writes for the Guardian.

Random Food Report
Wake, Bake, Steak, Shake.

Louder Than A Bomb
2013 Highlights.

The Week In Chicago Rock
The Specials, Kelly Hogan, Tyler The Creator, Jeff Tweedy and JC Brooks.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Boss hog.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 3:48 AM | Permalink

Letter From St. Louis: Behind Enemy Lines

I am a Cubs fan in exile. I am a Cubs fan who lives in St. Louis.

I have to defend my insane loyalty a lot around here. After all, this is where a storied franchise of its own plays - one that has amassed 11 World Series championships, including two in the last six years.

Jesus! How is that even possible?

I was born, raised, and educated in Chicago and the surrounding suburbs. Ten years ago, my wife's job brought us to Missouri, and my job (firefighter) specifically landed us in St. Louis. I'm not likely to leave for, oh, another 13 year at minimum, given retirement rules. I don't know how I'm going to make it, considering what I've endured so far:

In 2003, the Cubs looked like they were on their way to the World Series when, well, you know what happened.

In 2004, the Red Sox swept the Cardinals in the World Series - the last two games right here in St. Louis - to break their curse.

In 2005, the White Sox won the World Series.

In 2006, the Cardinals won the World Series.

In 2007 and 2008, the Cubs won the NL Central but failed to win a single post-season game.

In 2009, the Cardinals returned to division champs, though they failed to advance to the Series.

In 2010, former Cubs manager Dusty Baker led the Reds to the division title.

In 2011, the Cardinals won the World Series again.

And in 2012, Baker and Reds won the division while the Cardinals, as a wild-card team, made it to the NLCS. The Cubs lost 101 games.

When I tell people here that I'm a Cubs fan, the reactions generally range from pity to, well, more pity.

I do what I can around here. Unless the Cubs are playing the Cardinals, I only see my homies on WGN-TV or the occasional ESPN appearance. And WGN is no longer the ol' stand-by; I'm pissed at the Cubs for ever even thinking about negotiating with Comcast Sports Net, much less throwing a fair number of games over there.

My experience in exile manifests itself in other ways, too. For example, wearing a Cubs to the local watering hole is nothing compared to wearing it to pick up my
kids from school!

But this is the year it all starts to turn around. I finally received The Letter.

I put my name on the season tickets waiting list about 10 years ago. I never thought anything would come of it. Ever.

But last season, I had an epiphany. I realized that every miserable loss put me closer to getting my name called because every loss - theoretically, given the nature of Cubs fans - chased people out of the ballpark and off the waiting list.

And sure enough, my number came up.

Now my story is a little different. I am a Cubs season-ticket holder, and I live in St. Louis.

Jesus! How is that even possible?

We'll see. I do not share a ticket package; I own 81 all pairs of tickets by my lonesome. They literally arrived hours before I left for Phoenix on Thursday for a little spring training R&R.

100_0035.JPG

I'm ecstatic about it. If that makes me an idiot, then I'm obviously cheering for the right team.

tixbox.jpg

Obviously I can't use them all, but friends, family and StubHub will hopefully get me through. My goal is 10 games in person at Wrigley, to make up for the 10 seasons since I was last there.

Better would be getting another couple dozen games or so in to also make up for the 13-plus seasons I still have to go until I can live in Chicago again.

After all, I'm just a St. Louisan temporarily, but I'm a Cubs season-ticket holder until the day I die, even if it most likely will be the Cubs that put me in my grave.

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Previously:
* Letter From St. Louis: Stan Was Truly The Man

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Dan Sheahan is our man in St. Louis. He welcomes your comments.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 2:38 AM | Permalink

Louder Than A Bomb 2013

"Listen up! Teen poets from the Windy City grabbed the microphone and told the stories of their lives at the 13th annual Louder Than a Bomb - Return to the Craft (LTAB) Chicago Youth Poetry Festival at the Cadillac Palace Theater. Winners were selected from individual and team categories.

"LTAB, which is the world's largest youth poetry festival, was founded in 2001 by Kevin Coval, and Anna West in collaboration with Young Chicago Authors. LTAB was created to give Chicago city youth a platform to share their stories.

"The festival has since become a 'bridge' for young people from diverse backgrounds to come together and find a common ground through their narratives.

"LTAB poets often incorporate themes of empathy, love, and forgiveness in their work to reconcile difficulties in their lives and relationships.

"LTAB is a friendly competition that emphasizes self-expression and community via poetry, oral storytelling, and hip-hop spoken word for young people from all neighborhoods, socio-economic statuses, race and culture to come together and understand one another.

"LTAB 2013 featured more than 900 students from Chicago and the surrounding suburbs. For the high-school student slam segments - a tournament competition pitted teams in two preliminary matches before the winning teams went against each other in the semifinal and final rounds. One hundred and ten teams (110) contended for four spots in the final team round."


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See also: BaderTV

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Bonus Bomb:

Stone's Throw

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An Ode . . .

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 1:52 AM | Permalink

Random Food Report: Wake, Bake, Steak, Shake

Mmmm.

1. Baloney Has A First Name.

My name is Deli Eliot and my co-Hotdogger Cookout Kelly and I are driving cross-country with the world famous Oscar Mayer Wienermobile vehicle! We are celebrating the 25th anniversary of the Wienermobile vehicle's Hotdogger tradition and we have just arrived in the Chicago metro area. We will be in the area spreading miles of smiles at local Mariano's grocery stores March 15th - 17th.
image001.pngWe are very excited to be in Chicago! Visitors to the Wienermobile will be able to take pictures, play fun games, and receive collectible Wiener Whistles at our events in the area. Seeing the Wienermobile is a great opportunity to have fun with the family and we'd love to meat everyone in town! We would really appreciate it if you could help spread the word about our visit. Many people have waited a lifetime to see the Wienermobile, so we want to make sure everyone knows we're in town! People are always looking for some positive, good news - this is it! We have included our schedule below as well as attached a photo of the Wienermobile for your use. We hope to ketchup with you soon. Have a bunderful day!

"Deli Eliot" Pattee & "Cookout Kelly" Goldthorpe
Hotdoggers - Midwest Team
Oscar Mayer Wienermobile Brand Ambassadors
(608) 347-7551

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Oscar Mayer Class 25 Hotdoggers.jpg

Our Schedule in the Chicago area (all Mariano's grocery stores):

Friday March 15 (Chicago):
12:00-5:00, 5353 N. Elston Ave

Saturday March 16 (Vernon Hills):
11:00-5:00, 1720 N. Milwaukee Ave

Sunday March 17 (Frankfort)
11:00-4:00, 21001 S. LaGrange Road

The Oscar Mayer Wienermobile.jpg

2. Counterclockwise Swirl.

Are you big enough . . . bold enough . . . hungry enough to be named the Big Joe Super Champion? That's what the owners of Suzy's Swirl in Gurnee want to know. And they're planning to raise $2,500 for the American Heart Association in their quest to crown the winner of their 1st Annual Big Joe Super Challenge.

Named in honor of Joe Tierno, late husband of Suzy's Swirl co-owner Sue Tierno, the Big Joe Super Challenge will take place on Thursday, March 28, from 5:00 PM to 8:30 PM. Contestants will consume progressively larger amounts of delicious Suzy's Swirl frozen yogurt in a three-round competition for pride, prizes and the ultimate yogurt-eating title.

Round 1: Consume 8 oz. of yogurt with 2 oz. of toppings; fastest contestants advance to . . .

Round 2: Consume 16 oz. of yogurt with 4 oz. of toppings; fastest contestants advance to . . .

Championship Round: Consume 64 oz. of yogurt and 8 oz. of toppings; fastest contestant named the 2013 Big Joe Super Champion!

Pro football safety Craig Steltz, and his wife Lindsay, will be on hand to help officiate the contest.

The Big Joe Super Challenge is an outgrowth of Suzy's Swirl's on-going Big Joe Challenge, which dares customers to consume 64 ounces of frozen yogurt, plus 8 ounces of toppings, in 20 minutes or less. Winners receive a Big Joe T-shirt and their picture on Suzy's Swirl's Wall of Fame. Those who fall short donate $20 to the American Heart Association.

The March 28th Super Challenge requires a $10 entry-fee donation to the AHA. Every participant in each round will be eligible to win prizes, including T-shirts, hats, gift cards, free yogurt cups and more.

The overall winner will receive one year of free Suzy's Swirl, the Ultimate Big Joe Champion T-shirt and his or her picture in the No. 1 position on the restaurant's Wall of Fame. The runner-up will receive a $200 Suzy's Swirl gift card, T-shirt and No. 2 position on the wall. The third place winner will earn a $100 gift card, T-shirt and the No. 3 position.

3. Jerk Store Calls.

Jerk. Modern Jamaican Grill is happy to announce it has received its Mobile Food Preparer license from the City of Chicago.

Founded by Dion Solano and Brett Gough in August of 2012, Jerk is proud to be among the first licensed to cook on a food truck in the City of Chicago.

Jerk's food truck features a commercial grade kitchen with a 48" grill and 40lb deep fryer fueled by propane. It is the first food truck of it's kind licensed by the City of Chicago. This advanced system has required additional fire safety equipment and has been thoroughly reviewed by the Chicago Fire Department.

The menu of Jerk is inspired by Dion's childhood memories of "pushcart" Jamaican street-food with a touch of modern flare. Customers can expect to find delights such as jerk chicken prepared in our Rude Boy jerk sauce, festival, jerk fries, various patties and guava treats.

Jerk is planning to open service to the Chicago community on Monday, March 18th.

4. Wake, Bake, Steak, Shake.

Most of us had a late night hang out - and maybe you still frequent this spot to indulge in the food you crave. Now, Steak 'n Shake joins the roster of UP ALL NIGHT restaurants with expanded breakfast hours (12:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m.) and a new UP ALL NIGHT menu with specialty items like:

* The 7X7 Steakburger 'n Fries - featuring seven Steakburger™ patties and seven slices of American cheese.

* The Steakburger Slinger - a skillet filled with hashbrowns, Genuine Chili, two Steakburgers, shredded cheese and two eggs.

5. Burger Kingster.

At the end of its search for a consumer PR shop, Burger King has selected indie lifestyle shop Alison Brod PR, Ad Age has learned.

Indie lifestyle shop? You will never be authentic, Alison Brod.

The moves come as the fast-feeder is said to want to target women as part of its marketing initiatives going forward.

Here comes Burger Queen.

6. Two McGangBangs, Please.

7. Neigh.

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The Random Food Report is a food report compiled by Beachwood staff that appears randomly. Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:59 AM | Permalink

The Week In Chicago Rock

You shoulda been there.

1. The Specials at the Vic on Monday night.


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2. Kelly Hogan at SXSW at the Central Presbyterian Church on Tuesday night.

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3. Tyler The Creator at the Metro on Wednesday night.

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4. Jeff Tweedy at the Vic on Wednesday night.

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5. JC Brooks & The Uptown Sound at SXSW at the Continental Club on Wednesday night.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:42 AM | Permalink

March 14, 2013

The City Council's Regressive Caucus

Well, I guess the article I reported for Chicago magazine on the city council is out, though not yet on their website, so no link yet.

[UPDATE: Link here.]

Here's the truth: I was quite disappointed the piece was repositioned at the end of editing into what I view as a garden-variety city council rubber stamp story; the assignment, reporting and original drafts were focused on how Rahm specifically has dealt with the council, with him as the protaganist in a driving narrative that opened with his own campaign promises of change and closed with the genuflecting of aldermen to Dear Leader at the last council meeting of 2012. Hope folks like it, and the early feedback is good, but the final edit made me queasy. Also lost about a thousand words at the end due to, I guess, slow ad sales. But a full page of art!

But this post isn't to criticize Chicago magazine, for which I'm grateful for the assignment (and the money). They know my views. It's their call. It's to introduce that story to readers as a way to segue into the brazen and bizarre creation this week of a second "progressive" caucus on the council. Normally, this might be news to cheer, seeing as how "progressive" in relation to the council is as much about being "independent" and not in the mayor's pocket as it is about a left-liberal ideology. In this case, it's depressing as hell.

It really doesn't take the kind of reporting I recently finished on the council to understand what's happening, which kind of kills the rationale about the segue, I know, but I think I can explain fairly well:

The new progressive caucus isn't progressive at all and is designed to blunt any traction the real progressive caucus may be picking up as Rahm continues to slip in popularity as he alienates, well, most of the city.

It also seems to be one of a series of moves made by Rahm to tamp down any potential challenge as he prepares for re-election (barring what I view as an unlikely run for president).

"Ten aldermen with ties to Mayor Rahm Emanuel broke away from the City Council's Progressive Caucus on Wednesday and launched their own 'Paul Douglas Alliance' with a proposal to give Inspector General Joe Ferguson the power to investigate aldermen," Fran Spielman reported for the Sun-Times on Wednesday.

The new alliance made a smart move by announcing their proposal regarding the inspector general as they announced their own existence, shifting the story at least partially away from the political reason for their being.

Spielman captures it in part in her opening by noting the new alliance's ties to Rahm, but the first half of her story is about the IG issue - which the real progressive caucus also supports. So why the split?

"[Ald. Joe] Moore said the alliance has a 'different approach' than the Progressive Caucus aimed more at solving problems than opposing Emanuel."

I can tell you from my reporting, and simple observation, that the Progressive Caucus, whose positions and members I don't always agree with, is very much interested in solving problems. In fact, they are quite exasperated that the rest of the council is more interested in carrying the mayor's water instead of legislating.

And they are profoundly disappointed with the conversion of Moore from noted (but relative) thorn in the side of Richard M. Daley to elder statesman chum of Rahm Emanuel.

Pressed on whether Emanuel had asked the aldermen to form a more moderate group of progressives, Moore said, "Emphatically no."

I emphatically find this impossible to believe, but there are several ways that Moore's denial may be truthful and still deceitful.

A) Perhaps it was Moore's idea, and he got approval through channels.

B) Perhaps that channel included Rahm's aldermanic floor leader Patrick O'Connor.

C) Perhaps it involved Rahm's aldermanic liaison unit, which keeps a hawk's eye on council doings.

D) Perhaps Moore, or whoever else from the alliance may have dreamed this thing up, didn't need to speak to Rahm; in this city you often just know that what you're doing will be met with approval.

But given the paranoia, vigilance and micromanagement of Rahm and his City Hall goon squad, there's absolutely no way I'm prepared to believe a few councilmembers came up with this idea on their own and didn't run it by anyone on the Fifth Floor. That's just not what they do.

* * *

Why now?

"Earlier this week, seven aldermen who had been meeting as the Progressive Caucus announced plans to 'formalize' their loose-knit organization by approving a set of bylaws, signing a 'statement of principles' and forming a political action committee to accept donations to fund its operations."

Yeah, guys like Moore - and fellow alliance member Joe Moreno, in particular - wouldn't want any part of a "progressivism" that moves beyond convenient branding into actual political action.

* * *

The real progressive caucus:

Alds. Waguespack, Arena, Hairston, Fioretti, Sposato, Munoz, Sawyer, Foulkes and Pawar.

The fake progressive caucus (or, as I suggest we call them, the Regressive Caucus, or maybe the Astrogressives for their ingenius insider astroturfing):

Alds. Moore, Moreno, Reilly, Colon, Osterman, Smith, Cappleman, Burns, Dowell and Pawar.

*

Or, as a close observer suggested to me, the Bizarro World Progressive Caucus.

*

Yes, that's right, Pawar is a member of both. Which only says one thing to me: Double agent. Or single.

* * *

From an unsatisfying Chicago Tonight segment last night:

Did you know about this new caucus?

Waguespack: No, I didn't . . .

Munoz: We were a bit surprised because in the paper it was characterized as just another progressive caucus . . .

*

Moore: There aren't factions . . . times have changed. We have a new mayor, and there are some aldermen who were a little bit uncomfortable with the approach [of the original progressive caucus] . . .

*

Marin: Are you the mayor's guys?

Not really answered.

*

Burns: In Springfield, you have to work with Republicans, senators, the governor's office, to build legislative coalitions to get things done . . . that's what I learned in Springfield.

A) And the General Assembly works so well.
B) In the city council, there are no Republicans or senators.

*

Burns: I haven't had the opportunity [to read the progressive caucus bill calling for a moratorium on school closings].

Munoz: It's been in the rules committee for over 25 days.

*

Moore: Under the previous mayor, there was very little communication between reform-minded aldermen and the Fifth Floor. This mayor has been a little bit different.

In my reporting I found this to be half-true; some aldermen think this mayor talks to them more than Daley did, and some said just the opposite.

""Maybe the guys who always vote against him can't get [Rahm] on the phone," Ald. Howard Brookins told me, "but I haven't had a problem."

Moore: Rahm Emanuel came in and put [the Clean Power Ordinance] over the finish line.

First, that was a no-brainer. Second, Rahm supported Ald. Danny Solis over challenger Cuahutemoc Morfin, who almost won until Solis's last-minute conversion to supporting the coal plant closures that the ordinance required. Then Solis got additional political cover after all those years of opposing the coal plant closures by joining Moore in co-sponsoring the re-introduction of the ordinance.

Now, maybe Rahm put the squeeze on Solis to get that deal done. Or maybe Solis is just a royal opportunist. Either way, I'm not impressed.

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Comment from Jerry Morrison, executive director of the SEIU Illinois State Council, 5/22:

I know exactly how the coal plant came to be shut-down.

The SEIU State Council targeted Danny Solis for defeat because of his stubborn refusal to take his aldermanic hold off of the ordinance.

The Doctors Council, which is a union of physicians, worked with the community and other partnering organizations to conduct a study that revealed that the pollution released by the plant was responsible for killing several dozen of it's neighbors annually.

The Doctor's Council approached their sister unions through the State Council asking to target Solis in the 2011 aldermanic elections.

SEIU spent at least $150,000 on the campaign to unseat Solis and remarkably took the long-time alderman to a run-off using a message solely based on the alderman's financial ties to the coal plant operators.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel reached out to Tom Balanoff, president of the SEIU State Council, and guaranteed that the ordinance would soon pass if Alderman Solis was given a pass in the run-off election.

Receiving the mayor's guarantee and the alderman's support of the ordinance, SEIU pulled back its run-off expenditures against Solis and hence the coal plant was shut down.

Rhodes reply: But wasn't that a bad deal to make - I mean, wouldn't the ordinance have gone through if Morfin won too? Or are you saying Rahm only would have let the ordinance pass if Solis was allowed to win?

Morrison: Morfin couldn't win. We knew that. (We would have had to spend another $250,000 at a minimum.)

It was a great deal for us to cut if there was little hope of ultimately defeating Solis. I believe the national head of the Sierra Club reached out to our national union to thank us for what we did.

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Moore: I happen to believe this mayor has shown an ability to listen and communication and adopt some of our ideas.

I happen to believe this mayor has shown a desire to project an image of an ability to listen and communicate and adopt the ideas of others, and he will actually do so only insofar as he feels he politically must. That's why at least one ordinance co-sponsored by the majority of the council is buried in committee, along with several others not likely to see the light of day.

Burns: Our frame is much more interested in actually achieving legislative results.

You don't need a new caucus to do that; legislative "results" are achieved every day when those are the results the mayor seeks. The real progressive caucus, though, has proposed a long list of ideas that the council ought to at least consider but doesn't because Rahm doesn't wish them to.

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See also: Second So-Called Progressive Caucus Emerges.

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Comments welcome.

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1. From Joseph Musco:

I propose calling the new city council caucus the Lollipop Guild.

2. From Mary Lee:

Thanks for calling out the Regressive Caucus for being the hypocrites they are. We need more of this truth-telling. What matters is whether these aldermen, in the end, actually do anything that is progressive, but their track records are terrible.

Cappleman is pretty new, but he is already trying to throw more poor people out of Uptown (and he was supposed to be the candidate with the social worker background who would be more empathetic).

Moore has had a long track record of TALKING about progressivism and opposition to Daley, but when it comes time to actually DOING something, his record is quite different. He voted for the parking meters and the downtown TIF, for example, and he sure got rid of a lot of less wealthy renters in Rogers Park when he took huge campaign contributions from developers to convert many affordable rentals to condos (which, by the way, are now underwater).

He brought yet another charter school to Rogers Park and is dodging any vote to stop more charter funding. He prefers the type of grandstanding progressivism that does not really get things done, like a living wage, or that does not affect his ward, like foie gras.

What is really sad is that the North Side progressive establishment takes all this in stride - I don't see Jan Schakowsky calling out Rahm or any of his hangers-on.

Still, I thank you for writing about this. Please keep it up.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 2:26 AM | Permalink

Chicagoetry: J.J. Tindall's Dream

J.J. TINDALL'S DREAM

I just had
this dream:

I was in a city park,
walking south
down the east side
sidewalk.

There was a ragged
chain-link fence
around the park
which included crumbling cement

basketball courts
with weeds popping up throughout.
There were tall streetlights
at regular intervals

that were crumbling, too.
I climbed one of them to the top
at which point
the streetlight

slowly bent back downward
to the ground

and I landed softly
and safely, giggling.
I wanted
to do it again

but at the base
of the streetlight behind me stood
a middle-aged Black man, also giggling.
I took him to be

an authority figure
and was nervous.
He seemed cool about it, but
he also called me

"J.J."
I'd never
seen him before
in my life!

I strolled on southward to the next
east-west street corner,
the southern border of the park.
It was vaguely dusk or dawn,

as the light
was low.

At this next corner
I noticed the mottled grass
was littered with silver coins,
tens, perhaps hundreds

of dimes and quarters.
I began scooping them up,
noticing occasionally
that some were fake,

pewter or porcelain fakes
painted silver, many broken,
some with a profile
of JFK.

I filled the pockets
of my jeans, then the
bottom side pockets
of my grey sport coat

with the real thing

(now--this idea
of finding piles of silver coins
on the ground
and scooping them up

is a recurring motif
in my dreams, rooted, I suspect,
in past days of withering impoverishment
in which my only access

to an ancient, shriveled
microwave burrito
and a 40 oz. malt liquor
lay in

rifling through
somebody else's
change stash.
Not proud).

Suddenly, two white teenagers
arrive and want in on the
coin grab.
I was cool at first

but then somehow managed
to convince them
that this was MY find
and for now

they just helped me fill
my pockets. Then,
a small, wooden cart appeared
and we began to fill shopping bags

and pile them onto
the cart.

It was the largest pile
I'd ever encountered.
And another recurring motif intervened:
becoming encumbered by more and more

boxes, bags and parcels.

As I made to leave, I faced
the southern border of the park
which sloped downward toward the street
but the way out

now included the frame of a wooden fence
and thick trees.
But then my friend, my henchman,
arrived to help.

It was Bob Dylan.

Now: large, thick
ship rope appeared
and we tied the cart
to the ship rope

but then we had to weave it
awkwardly between the fence frame
and thick trees
to the curb

like an Old School
tape-loop echo effect

and the rope
got around Bob's neck,
trapping him
to the curb.

Then: a black
Dodge charger screeched to a stop
and three, large Hispanic men
emerged

and lit into Bob.

He was fucked,
and I left him to it,

grabbing two shopping bags
and scrambling west.

At the next corner,
vaguely Ashland Avenue,
I turned south
to the next corner,

turned back east,
and stopped
to rest
at the curb.

Next to my feet
was a double-LP
by Emmylou Harris,
with the vinyl LPs

strewn out
onto the curb.
I reached to replace
the LPs

back into the gatefold sleeve,
struggling somewhat
but wanting
to get it just right.

When I turned back
to my shopping bags
full of change,
they were gone.

The double-album
was a ruse!

I took off east again,
fearing for my life,
remembering I had already
been recognized

by a stranger.
And I knew
it was not just
about the money.

I had nowhere to go
and no money,
not even in my pockets anymore.
I scrambled onward

and came upon
another silver pile
in the grass,
but it was all

fake shit this time.

I climbed another
tall fence
into the midst
of a youth soccer game.

I just wanted to get
across the field but,
one by one, the kids
started coming after me,

and then it was old men,
too, grabbing me
by the arms
and shoulders,

slowly dragging me
to the ground...

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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 12:51 AM | Permalink

The [Thursday] Papers

"People in Calumet Heights may now have to go somewhere else to find bootlegged DVDs," DNAinfo Chicago reports.

"Arthur Roy, 47, of the 8800 block of South Constance Avenue, was held on $60,000 bond Wednesday after police allegedly found about 10,000 bootlegged DVDs at his home."

It was the fake popcorn where he really made his money, though.

Not A Tea Party In Sight
"A state official said Illinois doesn't have enough money to fund a much-needed drop-in-center for West Side residents," Austin Talks reports.

"Richard Calica, director of the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services, told advocates and others who attended a meeting last month organized by Rep. La Shawn Ford (D-Chicago) that his agency lost $70 million of funding to community programs and another $29 million was cut from DCFS staff."

Illinois doesn't need the federal government to sequester itself, thank you very much.

Joliet Juke
"The parent of First Community Bank of Joliet has redeemed nearly $10 million of what formerly were federal bailout shares at a discount that will result in a one-time gain of nearly $3 million," Crain's reports.

The deal was arranged through Groupon Goods.

Cook Book
"Cook County's population grew by 17,000 people in 2012," the Sun-Times reports.

Reversing a trend of new dead voters outnumbering new live ones.

Screw Loose
Speaker Madigan On SEC Fraud Allegations Vs. State: "There are no victims here."

We will not be ignored, Mike.

Loose Screw
"The primary lender on the failed Chicago Spire development has hired a broker to sell nearly $93 million of debt on the high-profile site, a step to revive activity where a deep hole along Lake Shore Drive and the Chicago River has sat untouched for five years," Crain's reports.

Such as digging the hole deeper?

*

From the Beachwood vault: Build That Screw.

Hearing Voices
"What I'm hearing on my Listening Tour is that people are fed up with corrupt career politicians," GOP gubernatorial candidate Bruce Rauner says in his latest news release.

I've got news for you, Bruce: I could have saved you the time, expense and drudgery of traveling the state to find that out by taking you on a Listening Tour of my favorite bars.

*

"People believe it's going to take an outsider, someone from the private sector to shake things up."

True. But a lot of people's idea of an outsider isn't an insider.

The City Council's Regressive Caucus
Insider astroturfing.

If Hawk Harrelson Broadcast The Blackhawks . . .
. . . it would sound something like this.

J.J. Tindall's Dream
The double-album was a ruse!

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Double nickels on the dime.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:20 AM | Permalink

If Hawk Harrelson Broadcast The Blackhawks . . .

. . . and you can light the lamp, yesssss!

. . . you have got to be bleeping me, you call that offsides? Andy McElman is killing us!

. . . that'll be two minutes in the sin bin.

. . . you know who was the best at getting the puck off the boards in traffic? Dirk Graham.

. . . and my stick to click tonight is Hossa.

. . . let's put the biscuit in the basket, boys.

. . . puck snort.

. . . wrister double-twister.

. . . there's Q, one of the best in the business, I tell you what.

. . . c'mon, Kaner.

. . . pass it up, knock it over, shoot it in.

. . . get wide, it will!

. . . you know who was the best with the blocker? Cesare Maniago.

. . . hike up your breezers, boys.

. . . Jonathan Toews is the best the two-handed no-look passer. But the best one-handed no-look passer was Bobby Orr.

. . . big hit, creamed corn.

. . . Sit back, relax and lace it up.

-

Comments welcome.

-

1. From Steve Dahl:

Don't flop now, boys!

2. From Chris Moore:

*

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3. From Brian Slodysko:

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:12 AM | Permalink

March 13, 2013

The [Wednesday] Papers

I'm not ignoring the Jonylah Watkins tragedy, I just don't have anything original to say about it at this point.

And there's no good way to segue out of that into the rest of the column, but I trust you can handle the jarring transition.

Bad Luck of the Draw
"Federal jury selection for African-American elected official William Beavers hit a surprising and unusual snag Tuesday as soon as the panel of 50 prospective jurors walked into U.S. District Judge James Zagel's courtroom," the Tribune reports.

"There was not one African-American male in the randomly-selected group, prompting strong commentary from Beavers' defense team and a request that the pool be dismissed."

Well, that seems odd. But the jury poll was randomly selected, so I suppose that might happen every once in awhile.

Outside court, Beavers' attorneys called the process "rigged."

Oh. Really?

"I've been trying cases down here 52 years. I have never seen a case where I represented a black (male) defendant and they sent out 50 jurors, 50! 50 jurors! And not one single black man," said a highly agitated Sam Adam Sr. "Now don't tell me that was an accident."

So out of all the cases Adam has tried in 52 years, this is the one the powers-that-be decided to rig. Huh.

"Some place in this so-called federal system," he said, "this was all rigged."

The so-called federal system? You mean like this?

Or maybe Adam just wants folks who do get on the jury to believe that his client is guilty of a vengeful conspiracy.

That's always the last defense of a political scoundrel.

Dream Police
"Deals to bring a Cheap Trick-themed night club and a circus-cabaret dinner theater to Motor Row have fizzled, a double blow to the city's plan to turn the strip west of McCormick Place into an entertainment district," Crain's reports.

This strikes me as a bit underplayed - the Cheap Trick venture got a lot of hype when it was first announced (and even since then). At the same time, this is likely just the first bit of the news apple; let's see what kind of pick-up it gets.

Upon Further Review
"An independent review of the Voting Section in the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division has found a 'disappointing lack of professionalism' by many of the career and political employees over the last two administrations, including a polarizing culture that has prompted many staffers to vent their frustrations by sending personal emails and blog postings filled with epithets," the Los Angeles Times reports.

The so-called civil rights division, that is. It's almost like it's rigged.

Dousing Housing
"According to the Census Bureau, residential construction spending jumped 16.8 percent in 2012 over 2011, while housing starts closed out the year at their highest level since 2008," Chicago Agent magazine notes,

"Yet, even though construction firms have stepped up their hiring to meet this new demand - indeed, the 28,000 new construction jobs in January accounted for nearly a fifth of all the jobs created that month - construction payrolls, according to USA Today, are unchanged from 2010 at 5.5 million.

"The reason? Builders cannot find the right workers for the jobs at hand."

Smelling Like Rose
Citing a source in-the-know, Chicago sports broadcast maven David Kaplan out-and-out said on Sports Talk Live the other night that Derrick Rose was lying when the Bulls star said Sunday that he wasn't ready to return to the floor because his hamstrings were on fire.

Just like his grades and test scores were once on fire.

*

"It's all mental for Derrick Rose now," Mark Potash writes for the Sun-Times

Indeed.

Starlin Castro vs. Alexei Ramirez
See where they stand in Fantasy Fix: Top 3Bs & SSs.

Egg Day!
At the Milwaukee County Zoo.

QT Programming Note
I'm disappointed to report that QT will no longer appear on the Beachwood.

-

The Beachwood Tip Line: Cheap and tricky.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:00 AM | Permalink

Egg Day At The Milwaukee County Zoo

You're invited to take part in a host of hoppin' Easter activities at the Milwaukee County Zoo, Saturday, March 30, as Egg Day, sponsored by Welch's and Pick 'n Save, officially gets underway at 9 a.m.! Highlights include:

* U.S. Bank Gathering Place - 10 a.m. / Noon / 2 p.m.

Join us for the Bubble Wonders Show, as an expert "Bubblologist" creates amazing works of art with . . . BUBBLES! Bubble tricks include: "the bubble caterpillar," "bubble volcano," "electric dancing bubble," and the popular "bubble merry-go-round!"

* Northwestern Mutual Family Farm Playground - The Hop-To-It Bunny Scavenger Hunt - 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Kids 8 and under can hop to it and search for special Easter-themed tokens, and redeem them for sweet treats!

* Stearns Family Apes of Africa.

In the jungles of Africa, have fun with face-painting and receive a bunny nose and whiskers, just like the most famous Bunny of all!

* Aquatic and Reptile Center.

Color a paper Easter egg to celebrate the holiday.

* Primates of the World.

Have fun with activities like designing a set of bunny ears taking place among our primates.

* Easter Parade - 2 p.m.

Hip, Hop, Hurrah! Meet at the Northwestern Mutual Family Farm, along with the master of ceremonies, the Easter Bunny and his group of costumed characters, and march through the park! You'll conclude at the Peck Welcome Center for a chance to win special prize giveaways.

* Throughout the Zoo.

Be on the lookout for our animals to take part in Easter festivities, as they receive special Easter-related enrichment items in their habitats. Enrichment activities keep the animals active and healthy, allowing them to demonstrate behaviors similar to those they would in the wild.

* All Aboard for a "Train Teaser!" Hop on our Safari Train to test your skills counting Easter eggs hidden on the wooded and winding route.

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Zoo admission is $11.75 for adults, $8.75 for children (3 to 12 years), free for children 2 and under, and $10.25 for senior citizens (60 and older). Milwaukee County residents with I.D. receive $1.75 off regular Zoo admission. Parking is $12. Zoological membership is valid.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 5:27 AM | Permalink

QT: End Of The Line

QT will no longer appear on the Beachwood. Thanks for reading.

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Comments welcome.

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1. From Jim West:

Hi, I just want to say thank you for publishing QT. It always made my day.

2. From Doug Dahlgren:

This is a lousy way to start the morning.

I hope you'll be somewhere else soon, if that's what you want.

3. From Ellen Hinsch:

So, may we know why QT is longer on the Beachwood?

REPLY: I loved QT as well. Unfortunately, the many differences we had from the start - from issues such as headlines and style and design rules to using links in some items - became untenable, so we parted ways.

- Steve Rhodes

4. From Nevada Bob:

QT fini ................ ?

I hope not .............. one small loss for Beachwood, one giant loss in the search for intelligence among mankind.

5. From Jim Rentas:

This sucks.

6. From Jeanette Pesnikov:

That's a shame. I wasn't familiar with his columns until you brought him aboard the SS Beachwood (yes, I realize now he has a long history - thanks Wikipedia!). Best wishes to him.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 5:11 AM | Permalink

Fantasy Fix: The Top 20 Shortstops & Third Basemen

Third base traditionally is a power position, and this year that should prove to be the case again, as at least 15 of the top 20 players at the position are good for at least 20 HRs. If you're looking for stolen bases, you should probably look elsewhere, like shortstop.

This year, there is once again a ton of speed at shortstop, and because the position otherwise lacks offensive depth, it's a great place for fantasy managers to draft from to help satisfy their SB needs. That said, there also happen to be a handful of great all-around fantasy contributors at shortstop, but you'll have to strike early.

Third Basemen

1. Miguel Cabrera. He doesn't have a bit of speed, but his Triple Crown credentials more than make up for it.

2. Adrian Beltre. Eye-popping numbers, including a .920 OPS, 36 HRs, 102 RBI, .321 BA last year, yet he remains in Miggy's considerable shadow. Can he surpass 100 RBIs again in a softer Texas lineup?

3. Hanley Ramirez. At this position, his speed stands out, but with a new home and fresh start he should have the power and average numbers to fit in with the rest of these guys.

4. Evan Longoria. Injuries are a real concern, but he was on a full-season pace for more than 35 HRs last season.

5. David Wright. 2012 was a comeback year, where he found himself hitting above .300 again, and looks ready to join 30 HR/100 RBI club again.

6. Ryan Zimmerman. Bad start last year and still had 25 HRs and 95 RBI. Could go for 35/110 if he shows up on time this year.

7. Chase Headley. A gambler's ranking, as no one wants to believe his 31 HRs and 115 RBI last year were real, but he also had 86 walks, so it doesn't seem like he just got lucky.

8. Mark Trumbo. Improved last year on great 2011 rookie campaign, and should be a candidate for 35 HRs, 100 RBI this year.

9. Martin Prado. Rare among third basemen in lacking light tower power, but he's a doubles machine (42) who can hit .300 and steal 20 bases. Plus, he's also eligible at 2B, SS and OF.

10. Brett Lawrie. Another who won't put it in the seats too often, but at 23 he's a good all-around contributor awaiting a breakout season.

11. Pedro Alvarez. Frittered away half a season striking out, yet still hit 30 HRs. Scary power potential if this turns out to be his breakout season.

12. Aramis Ramirez. Still unbelievably consistent. One of three 3Bs who had .900 or better OPS - Cabrera, Beltre and Ramirez.

13. David Freese. Had 20 HRs, 79 RBI despite missing almost 20 games, and is a linchpin in a highly productive lineup.

14. Will Middlebrooks. Thrust into the spotlight after Kevin Youkilis left, his limited sample projects to more than 30 HRs and 100 RBI for a full season.

15. Kyle Seager. Had a quiet 20 HRs, 86 RBI last year for a team that didn't score much. I like him for 25/95 this year.

16. Michael Young. Fresh start in a lineup that should leverage his consistent hitting and RBI abilities.

17. Pablo Sandoval. Appears from spring training to be entering one of his fat years; 25 doubles and 63 RBIs in less than 400 at-bats last year suggest greater things if he stays healthy.

18. Trevor Plouffe. The only thing he really did was hit 24 HRs in 422 at-bats, but that's something.

19. Mike Moustakas. Still looking for a breakout year, and this could be it. Has the ability to be among the top five at the position when that does happen.

20. Mark Reynolds. The well-traveled king of strikeouts is a one-dimensional HR hitter, but is probably in the right park and division to get his 20-plus HRs again this year.

Sleepers:

Eduardo Nunez. Alex Rodriguez is out until July, and assuming he plays well enough this spring, he could also spell Derek Jeter at shortstop. Great all-around ability and a ton of speed, but still needs to make the team.

Daniel Descalso. Another freshly-minted postseason hero from the Cardinals who has Jose Reyes-like ability to pile up triples could be an intriguing pick-up.

Todd Frazier. A sleeper in the truest sense: Did anyone know that 51 of his 115 hits (in 422 at-bats) went for extra bases? That's a pretty good ratio, and 19 HRs suggests 25 should be easy in a full season.

Alex Rodriguez. He's gone for at least three months, and his job in New York is in doubt, but he should certainly be on your watch list heading into the All-Star break.

Manny Machado. Very small sample size last year showed he can do everything. Could be a good last-round draft pick for back-up purposes, or an early season pick-up.

Shortstops

1. Jose Reyes. I'm really gambling here, but he had a very strong finish last year and his speed combined with a bouncing ball an astroturf is a perfect storm. My admittedly hyperbolic estimate: .350 BA with 50 SBs and 20 triples.

2. Hanley Ramirez. As noted above, things are in alignment for him to have a comeback season. His hitting stroke came back late last year, and he's cushioned in a very good lineup.

3. Ian Desmond. The upstart in this group, he proved he could hit 25 HRs with more than 20 SBs last year. This year, I smell a 30/30 performance.

4. Troy Tulowitzki. Everyone in the world has him No. 1 at this position, but all I see is a gifted player who hasn't played more than 150 games or stolen more than 11 bases since 2009. All three preceding players can swipe 11 bases in their sleep.

5. Starlin Castro. Ranking him this high may prove how lacking the position is in fantasy value. He has the talent to be the multi-category stud the previous four already are, but has yet to prove maturity and consistency.

6. Jimmy Rollins. He scored 102 runs last year for a team that had trouble scoring runs, and continues to be a power/speed threat.

7. Ben Zobrist. Third in runs scored among shortstops with decent power and speed. He's a nice look-alike consolation prize if he's the top SS on the board when you pick.

8. Martin Prado. As noted above, you get everything but HRs.

9. Asdrubal Cabrera. 16 HRs and 35 doubles last year make him a decent contributor if you tend to wait until late to draft a shortstop.

10. Danny Espinosa. Promising power and speed. Streaky. If he can raise his average 30 points or so to near .280, he could be ranked much higher.

11. Alexei Ramirez. He was fifth in RBI at the position last year with 73, his most since 2008. Plus, he had a career-high 20 SBs.

12. Elvis Andrus. A candidate for 200 hits and 40 SBs, as well as an unlikely 60-plus RBI.

13. J.J. Hardy. Hits HRs in bunches, but had fewer bunches last year than 2011. He's worth consideration if you're really intent on getting power at this position from a back-up.

14. Derek Jeter. I've been wrong about him before, but I think the career fade begins this year. Best thing you can say is he's still capable of 200 hits a year, but not much fantasy pop.

15. Everth Cabrera. An alarming 44 SBs make him a top choice for back-up if you find yourself short in SBs at the end of the week.

16. Marco Scutaro. Doesn't have a lot of pop, but does something of value fantasy-wise every single day.

17. Eric Aybar. Slid last year in what should have been breakout season, but he's got nice extra-base hit potential and should steal and score a lot with his speed.

18. Alcides Escobar. Has a little bit of Jeter in him, with hits coming in bunches and nice speed and run-scoring ability.

19. Dee Gordon. Speedster should have broken out last year. Will it happen this year?

20. Eduardo Nunez. As noted above, he needs to survive the spring. He more than likely will get most at-bats at third, but he does have top-class speed.

Sleepers:

Josh Rutledge. Small sample size last year suggested propensity for extra-base hits.

Billy Hamilton. The minor league god of stolen bases may not make the team out of spring training, but is likely to surface at some point this season.

Jed Lowrie. He plays for a terrible team, but 16 HRs in less than 400 at-bats last year sounds promising.

Expert Wire
* Yahoo! Roto Arcade goes shopping for possible breakout fantasy players.

* Bleacher Report looks for pitchers worthy of late-round consideration.

* ESPN's Talented Mr. Roto explains the importance of "common fantasy sense."

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Dan O'Shea is our man in fantasyland. He welcomes your comments.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 4:21 AM | Permalink

March 12, 2013

The [Tuesday] Papers

First, a programming note: I'll be on WBEZ's Afternoon Shift today.

Second, a programming note: A Papers column is not likely today. If I do produce one later and you miss it, I'll link to it tomorrow.

Third, a programming note: We do have a few new posts elsewhere on the site today for your enjoyment, as follows.

* Chicago Jazz Win Pewter: Fourth-Place Finish In Nationals For Local Synchronized Skating Team.

"Synchronized what?" the New York Times asked recently. Click through for the link to that story and more about the Jazz.

* Local Book Notes: Quarry Farm & The Graveyard Of Empires.

Traveling from Twain to Afghanistan. Plus: The fight for the soul of public education and a new path to library amnesty.

* Art Notes: Honoring Granny & Touring Real Chicago.

An inspiring life of art and a dramatic Tour de Chi.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Both vice and versa.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:16 AM | Permalink

Art Notes: Honoring Granny & Touring Real Chicago

Adding value to things we received.

1. Honoring Granny.

"The Arts of Life, a Chicago non-profit committed to providing high quality, innovative services for artists with developmental disabilities, is pleased to announce the opening of its latest exhibition, How We Make It, at The Arts of Life Chicago Studio and Gallery located at 2010 W. Carroll Avenue.

"The opening event, taking place on Friday, April 5th from 6 p.m. - 9 p.m., will also serve as a heartwarming celebration of the studio's founding artist Veronica 'Granny' Cuculich, whose extraordinary life and art continues to inspire The Arts of Life community.

"During the event, there will be a viewing of the documentary feature Life and Where I'm At: The Life and Art of Veronica Cuculich, which showcases Granny's important role in the creation of The Arts of Life."

Preview:


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"Afterward, guests will perform in a themed open mic limited to songs written or inspired by Elvis, Willie Nelson, Johnny Cash, Dolly Parton and Granny herself.

"There will also be a potluck dinner featuring all of Ms. Cuculich's favorite foods - pulled pork, Italian food, fruit, macaroni and cheese, Oreos, pizza, pudding and coffee.

"The opening is free and open to the public. Donations are welcome."

About The Arts of Life:

"The Arts of Life is an organization comprised of people with and without disabilities creating an artistic culture to realize their full potential.

"Founded in 2000, The Arts of Life was the first program in Chicago to provide employment in the arts for adults with developmental disabilities.

"The studio serves as both an alternative day program and creative home for its artists. Funded partly by the Department of Human Services, The Arts of Life also greatly depends on fundraising efforts and grants to sustain its program. Artist's work can be viewed at several Starbucks locations throughout Chicago as well as numerous local cafes and businesses."

2. Tour de Chi.

"The Guild Complex is pleased to announce the 2013 remount of Tour Guides.

"Originally produced in 2010 as part of the Poetry Performance Incubator, Tour Guides gives audiences a lyrical tour of the Chicago tourists never see.

"Originally written by a team of five dynamic Chicago poet/performers, and staged by noted director Coya Paz (Teatro Luna, Proyecto Latina, The Americans), Tour Guides is an insider's peek at life in Chicago.

"From a haunting tour of the city's 'ghost bikes' to a hilarious look at the way neighborhood cultures shape how men pick up women, to an honest analysis of whether to invite white friends to South Side restaurants, Tour Guides offers an unflinching look at Chicago's complex cultural landscape.

"Tour Guides will be at The Beverly Art Center, 2407 W 111th St, on Friday, April 5th, and Saturday April 6th, at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, April 7th, at 3:30 pm. Tickets are $16/$13 for BAC members."

Preview:

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 4:39 AM | Permalink

Local Book Notes: Quarry Farm & The Graveyard Of Empires

Over the transom.

1. "Larry Howe is counting the days until he returns to Quarry Farm," writes the Star-Gazette of Elmira, New York.

"The American literature professor and Mark Twain scholar at Roosevelt University in Chicago stayed for five days in October at Twain's summer residence, and he's coming back for the month of July so he can research and finish his second book on Twain, tentatively titled Mark Twain in America's Ownership Society."

2. Fighting for the Soul of Public Education.

"The Public Square and Hull-House Museum present Fighting for the Soul of Public Education: A Conversation with Barbara Miner.

Join us for the launch of Miner's new book which chronicles the last 50 years of public schooling in Milwaukee. Lessons from the Heartland: A Turbulent Half Century explores the pernicious effects of the city's hypersegregation and joblessness on public schooling. With a sweeping portrait of the city's educational 'reforms,' Miner explores the intricate connections between race, housing, jobs, and education.

"Illuminating the local nuances of public schooling, members of the Chicago community will punctuate the conversation with Miner, offering insight into the possibilities and promise of our city's beleaguered public school system.

"What do these two midwestern cities, fraught will similar challenges of segregation and unemployment suggest for the future of the American public education and democracy? What can the arts community, public health, business and other stakeholders bring to bear on the future of urban public education?

"Dave Stovall, Laura Ramirez and Xian Barrett will participate as community respondents."

3. Graveyard of Empires.

"Peter Eichstaedt, veteran journalist and author of Above the Din of War: Afghans Speak About Their Lives, Their Country, and Their Future - and Why America Should Listen (Lawrence Hill Books, an imprint of Chicago Review Press, April 2013), will be in Chicago in April promoting his newest book.

"Eichstaedt spent a year traveling throughout Afghanistan drawing commentary and insight from a former warlord, a Taliban judge, victims of self-immolation, women parliamentarians, would-be suicide bombers, besieged small business owners and desperate archaeologists.

"With 2014 and the U.S. withdrawal looming, Eichstaedt's exploration of Afghans' common wants and desires - and fears - impacts his proposals for American and NATO exit strategies that could avoid leaving Afghanistan mired in chaos and war.

"Digging beneath the surface and adding a vital human component to an international issue, Eichstaedt illuminates Afghanistan's past and future potential - offering Americans the reality of a situation that is often shielded."

Preview:

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"After spending 2004 in Afghanistan working for the non-profit Institute for War and Peace Reporting and helping build Afghanistan's first independent news agency, Eichstaedt returned to Kabul in 2010.

"As he worked with Afghan journalists to document their history and collective struggles, he realized that although Kabul itself appeared cleaned up, with freshly paved roads, the optimism of the freshly liberated capital had faded under the rise of insurgency.

"The war in Afghanistan is often examined from the perspective of a foreign correspondent, political analyst or U.S. soldier. In Above the Din of War Eichstaedt provides a forum for the everyday people of Afghanistan to be heard.

"Eichstaedt experienced the reality of Afghanistan - the reality that goes beyond the reportage of troop surges and withdrawals and special operations.

"In Above the Din of War he reveals the truth behind the calculated quotes of generals, diplomats, presidents and policy-makers and shares personal stories of survival, tenacity and inner strength that allow Afghans to carry on through the calamity.

"As a journalist, Eichstaedt is dedicated to revealing the stories behind human rights abuses. Having lived and worked in Uganda, the Congo and Somalia and written about Kony's LRA and Somali pirates, he draws upon years of experience culled from time spent in high-octane situations.

"After 10 years of Americans fighting in Afghanistan, Above the Din of War shatters carefully constructed headlines to reveal the path to a sustainable future for a country called the 'graveyard of empires.'"

4. A path to library amnesty.

"In celebration of its first anniversary, Printers Row, the Chicago Tribune's literary member program, announces the kickoff of an annual Library Amnesty Contest.

"Printers Row will pay up to $100 in library fines on behalf of five entrants who provide the most convincing arguments as to why they should be granted amnesty.

"Winners also will receive a one-year digital subscription to Printers Row Journal for themselves or to give as a gift.

"Entries are due by Monday, April 1. Winners will be published in the Journal on Sunday, April 21.

"To enter, candidates should email their explanation of 50 words or less to printersrow@tribune.com, including the phrase 'Library Amnesty' in the subject line. Entries must state the total amount of fines, the libraries owed and the entrant's contact information. Fines of additional runners-up will also be paid, budget permitting. Printers Row will pay the libraries directly."

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 4:28 AM | Permalink

Chicago Jazz Juniors Win Pewter

"Synchronized what? Other than sharing a word and the chemical composition of the performance space - one frozen, one liquid - synchronized skating has little in common with synchronized swimming," the New York Times writes.

"Although casual observers may question the legitimacy of both sports, there is no doubting their athleticism.

"To some, synchronized skating packs more action and is even more interesting than conventional figure skating. Synchro, as it is called, is a fast-growing discipline of figure skating that combines the athleticism and artistry of singles, pairs and ice dancing with the timing and coordination required for 16 skaters to perform as one."

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Here's the free skate performance that momentarily put the Chicago Jazz in first place at the junior championships in Michigan earlier this month. They eventually placed fourth.


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The winners.

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Background:

"The Chicago Jazz began its program in 1987, as the Jazz Babies under the direction of Coach Lisa Darken," the club's Facebook page says.

"With a team of 22 skaters, the Jazz Babies began their climb to perfection and in 1991 became the U.S. Figure Skating Bronze Champions in the Intermediate Division of the U.S. National Precision Championships held in Anchorage, Alaska.

"The team kept growing and in 1994 earned entry for all four divisions (80 skaters) to the U.S. Figure Skating National Precision Team Championships in Providence, Rhode Island. Every year since then, the Chicago Jazz has been represented in the U.S. National Championships.

"In 1996, the Jazz Babies merged their precision skating program with the Rolling Meadows Rockettes Precision Ice Skating Club. This new family of over 160 skaters, representing eight divisions, became known as the Chicago Jazz Precision Ice Skating Club. Utilizing skating facilities in Rolling Meadows, Park Ridge, Buffalo Grove and other Chicagoland communities, the Chicago Jazz has established themselves as a mational powerhouse."

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The Jazz juniors' short program:

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Chicago Jazz on Twitter.

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ChicagoJazz.com.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 3:25 AM | Permalink

March 11, 2013

The [Monday] Papers

News you can abuse.

1. "The U.S. government, led by the Pentagon and CIA, censored or withheld for reasons of national security the files that the public requested last year under the Freedom of Information Act more often than at any time since President Barack Obama took office, according to a new analysis by The Associated Press."

Four more years.

2. Three Democratic Myths Used To Demean The Rand Filibuster.

Just three?

3. Bill Keller Fact-Checked.

4. New Yorker's Jon Lee Anderson can't handle the truth.

Read his whole Twitter feed to decide if he is more or less insufferable than Keller.

5. Transparency isn't about useless snowplows trackers.

6. George Cardenas is the Chuck Grassley of local tweeting pols.

7. "[Ald. Joe] Moore said a long waiting list at the Chicago Math and Science Academy in his ward means some parents feel the schools have been successful," the Tribune reports.

"Some parents also feel that the public school options available to them aren't sufficient, he said.

"Moore said he wants his residents - at all income levels - to have the opportunity to send their children to excellent schools. He said with more quality charter schools that could be more likely to happen.

"Who am I to say to a low-income family that: 'You know what, just wait, maybe someday the schools in my neighborhood will improve to the point where you feel comfortable sending your child there,'" Moore said. "Why shouldn't they have the same kind of options for their kids that middle income and upper income families have in my community?"

Or, and this is just blue-skying it, we could direct charter resources to public schools so everyone has the opportunity to get a great education. We could call it a "public" school system. Or, you know, you could build quasi-private schools called charters and compete against the public school system and tell parents that maybe they, too, will one day be able to send their kids to a charter . . .

8. "In anonymous assertions to The New York Times, current and former Obama administration officials seek to justify the killings of three U.S. citizens even as the administration fights hard to prevent any transparency or accountability for those killings in court," the ACLU and Center for Constitutional Rights say in a statement.

"This is the latest in a series of one-sided, selective disclosures that prevent meaningful public debate and legal or even political accountability for the government's killing program, including its use against citizens.

"Government officials have made serious allegations against Anwar al-Aulaqi, but allegations are not evidence, and the whole point of the Constitution's due process clause is that a court must distinguish between the two.

"If the government has evidence that Al-Aulaqi posed an imminent threat at the time it killed him, it should present that evidence to a court.

"Officials now also anonymously assert that Samir Khan's killing was unintended and that the killing of 16-year-old Abdulrahman al-Aulaqi was a mistake, even though in court filings the Obama administration refuses to acknowledge any role in those killings.

"In court filings made just last week, the government in essence argued, wrongly, that it has the authority to kill these three Americans without ever having to justify its actions under the Constitution in any courtroom."

9. "Dr. Incandela had wandered into science from the art world," the New York Times writes in Chasing The Higgs.

"Growing up in Chicago, he studied at its Art Institute, intending to be a sculptor. He got interested in science while studying the chemistry of ceramics, went on to get a Ph.D. from the University of Chicago, and then worked at CERN and Fermilab, where in 1995 he helped discover the top quark, the last missing matter particle in the Standard Model."

10. "A Tribune investigation finds that Chicago police have long ignored voluntary standards for polygraph exams, even as those methods and the examiners themselves have factored into cases costing the city millions of dollars in damages."

Who's administering these, Jerry Springer?

11. The Blackhawks' Secret Sauce.

It's not what the Wall Street Journal says it is.

12. The Peacekeepers of Polaris.

Chicago 7th-graders need your help.

13. Urban Grind, Ginseng TV & MSOBAMA.

In Local TV Notes.

14. The Weekend in Chicago Rock.

You shoulda been there.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Chasing dragons.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:19 AM | Permalink

SportsMonday: The Blackhawks' Secret Sauce

How much do we Chicagoans of a certain age really know about hockey anyway?

We barely saw the game growing up in the '70s and '80s unless we had a chance to go in person and my parents were definitely not hockey fans. I attended a handful of games through those years. The second balcony experience at the old Stadium was fascinating (it was an awesome view from seats that felt like they were almost hanging out over the ice - until the ever-growing cloud of cigarette smoke began to obscure sight lines after the second intermission).

But this fan never reached the point where I felt as though I could really appreciate the subtleties of the game.

I might have been a better fan if I had played the game but that never seemed like a serious option growing up in Lincoln Park. We loved floor hockey in gym class but I only knew a couple kids who trekked up to the Saddle and Cycle Club for hockey. I had no idea the McFetridge ice rink even existed out there by Gordon Tech. The rest of us were happy to play basketball in the winter no matter how short we might have been.

I had a chance to play hockey for a very informal club called the Lame Ducks (way before the Mighty Ducks came on the scene, by the way) when I was in college. But the team played after midnight on Sunday nights (love that cheap ice time) and that put a strain on an overall academic performance that was already dangerously shaky.

Fortunately, before I bowed out I at least got a cool sweater with my name on the back over a big ol' 35. Why I chose Tony (Esposit)O's number despite the fact that there was no way I was ever getting anywhere near goaltending is unclear, but I still have that sweater.

Still, I've learned enough about hockey as an adult to call bullshit when I see it, and I think I see it. In a widely shared Wall Street Journal article, Mike Sielski argues that the secret to the Hawks' success this year is a fast, possession offense that eschews the physical, dump-and-chase game built with home-grown players.

Not true for a variety of reasons. For one thing, the Hawks' best hitter, Daniel Carcillo, just returned from injury and soon he will be hitting people all over the place like he usually does.

But it's the home-grown argument that really doesn't work for me.

While growing up, there were separate primary groups of ascendant players - the end of the Bobby Hull, Stan Mikita and Tony Esposito-led run of greatness in that first decade and the emergence of the Denis Savard and Doug Wilson era in the second. The '90s featured the rise of Jeremy Roenick, who teamed up with Chris Chelios (who, of course, arrived in a trade for Savard in 1990) among others.

But the Hawks never won a championship during those eras and the prime reason always seemed to be that they were never quite willing to pay what it took to keep the players they needed for as long as was needed. Savard and Chelios won Stanley Cups, but not as Hawks. Wilson and Roenick never did.

It's true that the Hawks were then bad enough long enough to pile up enough real good draft picks so they couldn't help but stockpile talent. But the move that put them over the top was the awarding of the sort of over-the-top contract to two-way superstar Marian Hossa that was never available to anyone on the club through the final decades of the 20th century.

Hossa is a far better two-way player than Patrick Kane and probably is more important to the team than Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook, especially with the rise of Niklas Hjalmarsson and Johnny Oduya as a great second defensive pairing that has been getting big minutes from coach Q all season.

Raffi Torres knew exactly who to target in the playoffs last year. His cheap shot concussed Hossa to the sideline and the Hawks ended up losing the first-round playoff series to Torres' team, the Coyotes, in six games.

And the Hawks' first two losses of the season illustrate that, ultimately, goaltending is everything and if that is shaky the team won't survive.

So while we Chicagoans of a certain age might not know quite as much as we would like to about the strategies of successful hockey teams, we do know the two elements that are necessary to put a team over the top: Spending money to keep or acquire great players and great goaltending.

Looks like, for now, we just ran out of great goaltending.

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Jim "Coach" Coffman is our man on Mondays. He welcomes your comments.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:26 AM | Permalink

The Polaris Peacekeepers Of Chicago Book Project

"This is a video created for Indiegogo as a way to help fund our school's 7th-grade project.


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"In this book, students will write biographical sketches that inform our community of the inspiring work they do to change the culture of our community. In addition, students want to study the art of portrait photography. A beautiful, professional portrait will accompany the experts' biographical sketches. As poets, students will include their own peace poetry and portraits - as a symbol of our united effort to improve the culture of our community and bring peace to our streets. Copies of our book will be donated to Chicago Public Libraries, and other organizations and classrooms that promote peace in our great city.

"Your generous donation will help provide: production and distribution of our PSA, stipends for experts, computer and software, cameras to learn photography, professional publishing of our book, and transportation costs."

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:53 AM | Permalink

Local TV Notes: Urban Grind, Ginseng TV & MSOBAMA

Because it's on.

1. Urban Grind TV.

"Hosted By EV the Great. UGTV Host EV talks with Wally from Urban Grind TV about the Importance of supporting Hip Hop in Chicago while remaining positive."


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Plus:

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2. Ginseng TV.

At the Ohm service bar.

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Plus:

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3. The Sandwich King Of Elmwood Park Shoots Upcoming Episode At Silver Cloud.

4. MSOBAMA.

"Last month, MSNBC's Al Sharpton conducted a spirited debate about whether Obama belongs on Mount Rushmore or instead deserves a separate monument to his greatness (just weeks before replacing frequent Obama critic Cenk Uygur as MSNBC host, Sharpton publicly vowed never to criticize Barack Obama under any circumstances: a vow he has faithfully maintained). Earlier that day on the same network, a solemn discussion was held, in response to complaints from MSNBC viewers, about whether it is permissible to ever allow Barack Obama's name to pass through one's lips without prefacing it with an honorific such as 'President' or 'the Honorable' or perhaps 'His Excellency' (that really did happen)."

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:35 AM | Permalink

QT: Jeb & The Job Creators


We Have Seen the Present, and It Does Not Work:
Officials in Paxton, Ill., have ordered heavy equipment to destroy the only sledding hill in the area because there is a risk of injury when children sled down hills.

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News Headline: "White House reporters complain about lack of access."
News Headline: "Washington press corps closes its own dinner to cameras."
The stories seemed to go together, for some reason.

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News Headline: "Wave of hate groups in U.S., experts say."
News Headline: "Study: Certain organisms can undergo reverse evolution."
These seemed to go together, too.

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QT End of the World As We Know It Update:
Asteroid 2013 EC20 passed halfway between Earth and the moon on Saturday, two days after it was discovered.

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News Headline: "NASA concerned with solar activity: 'Something unexpected is happening.'"
Science progresses.
At least now we understand when something unexpected is happening.
Whatever it is.

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News Headline: "California school board member to serve time for pimping."
Does California have something against job creators?

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Modern Education + the Criminal Mind =
A man robbing a night club in China's Yunnan Province concealed his identity by making sure to put a transparent bucket completely over his head.

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News Item: ". . . The shark sightings have been in the news all week, but are not unusual. . . ."
Thus explaining why they've been in the news all week, notes P.B., a Bethesda, Md., reader.

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News Headline: "Jeb Bush: Obama won election by 'dividing the country.'"
About time someone called Obama on this.
Divided it into a majority and a minority, if memory serves.

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QT What Passes for Miracles These Days Update:
An image of Jesus has been found on the floor beneath a waxing table in a beauty salon in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

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Today's (All Right, Tomorrow's) Birthdays: Jesse "Lone Cat" Fuller, 117; Tony "Two-Ton" Galento, 102; Sammy "Sammy Bull" Gravano, 68; Rich "Svengoolie" Koz, 61.

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QT Grammar R Us Seminar on the English Language:
Economist Austan Goolsbee on the difficulties of training a nation's workforce:
"Let's not overly dreadfulize it, if that's a word. . . . "
It is now.
QT might have gone with "dreadfulate."
But that is just QT.
Steve Olle, a Washington D.C. reader, wants to remind us that we have started Daylight Saving Time, not Daylight Savings Time, by the way.


QT appears Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. QT welcomes your comments. For more QT, visit the QT archives. QT is also on Facebook.

Posted by Zay N. Smith at 6:00 AM | Permalink

The Weekend In Chicago Rock

You shoulda been there.

1. Dillon Francis at the Congress on Friday night.


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2. French Montana at the Bottom Lounge on Friday night.

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3. Flosstradamus at the Congress on Friday night.

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4. Finch at the Metro on Thursday night.

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5. Lindsey Stirling at the Vic on Saturday night.

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6. Pink at the hockey arena on the West Side on Saturday night.

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7. Lac La Belle at Jerry's on Friday night.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:34 AM | Permalink

March 9, 2013

The Weekend Desk Report

Natasha Julius is taking the day off to attend to maternal matters. She promises to return next week.

"The Chicago Blackhawks aren't about to mourn the end of their streak," AP reports.

"We're proud of it, but it'll be nice to move on now," defenseman Duncan Keith said after the Blackhawks' 6-2 loss to the Colorado Avalanche on Friday night.

The loss was Chicago's first in regulation this season and ended a remarkable run in which they earned at least one point in their first 24 games, an NHL record.

"It's hockey. We've lost games before in our lives. It's not like we're going to sit here and cry," Keith said.

Well put.

There is something worth crying about in the hockey world, though.

"Stompin' Tom Connors, a Canadian country-folk singer whose odes to the vast country he had roamed as a hitchhiking troubadour - not least his paean to its national obsession in 'The Hockey Song' - earned him renown from the Maritime Provinces to British Columbia, died on Wednesday at his home in Halton Hills, Ontario," the New York Times reports. "He was 77."

We featured the chorus to "The Hockey Song" last month in They Played Hockey At Soldier Field. Here's the full song:

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Here's an alternate version:

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See also: More of Stompin' Tom's catalogue at this YouTube channel.

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Pat Brady vs. James Meeks
"A special Saturday meeting of top Illinois Republicans to debate the fate of state GOP Chairman Pat Brady over his support for same-sex marriage was abruptly canceled after sources said a group pushing for Brady's ouster lacked the necessary votes," the Tribune reports.

vs.

"Our family structure will be in serious jeopardy" if Illinois passes same-sex marriage, says the Rev. James Meeks, a former Democratic state representative who has toyed with running for governor, in a robocall I received Friday.

*

Just like with Rand Paul's filibuster last week, we need to think beyond party lines and come together across all lines to work on issues of common interest and agreement. You cannot do that, though, if you demonize your political opponents and brainwash yourself into strict ideological loyalties. That's how bipartisanship works; it's unreasonable to expect (or even desire) compromise on core principles to "meet in the middle," and the outcome of that approach is often worse than the status quo. But forming alliances and temporary coalitions with people you otherwise disagree with to further goals, well, that's the ticket. In other words, loyalty to party, which is almost always for the (perceived) sake of someone maintaining power, is not only hugely overrated but badly damaging to a democracy.

So when I heard progressives last week dismiss Rand Paul's filibuster as a stunt, I could only reply that they should be ashamed of themselves that it was Paul up there and not a Democrat asking a question that we never had to ask under Reagan, Bush or Nixon.

See also:
* Rand Paul Fights 'Crazy Bastard' Standard For Gitmo
* Rand Paul's Stand Against The Patriot Act
* Is Rand Paul Crazier Than Anyone Else In D.C.?

Meanwhile, a Democratic president whose chief achievements were all lifted from the Republican platform - NAFTA, welfare reform, a horrid crime bill, the disastrous repeal of Glass-Steagall, and now-repudiated signing of the Defense of Marriage Act - is the party's leading light.

Question: How can Democrats hurl epithets at Republicans who believe things that they themselves (like Barack Obama opposing gay marriage based on religious grounds) once believed?

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John Brennan is Obama's CIA director.

Yay, Democrats!

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Burke's Wicked Folly
Item: Wrigley To Sell Caffeinated Gum.

Item: Ed Burke To Convene Caffeinated Gum Hearings.

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That joke works well because it's so possibly not a joke.

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Press Release Received This Morning:

The American Association of Physiological Medicine and Dentistry (AAPMD) will be presenting Alderman Edward Burke with the AAPMD Peter Kalantzis Award on March 9.

"The AAPMD is presenting Mr. Burke with the award for his ongoing dedication and awareness efforts in relation to childhood risk factors and health issues," Dr. Michael Gelb, D.D.S., M.S. and President of the AAPMD said.

Alderman Burke recently declared March 9 as AAPMD day. The day was adopted in
efforts to create an intensified awareness of the multiple roles that sleep plays in health and disease.

"We commend this multi-disciplinary group of health professionals for their teamwork in devising medical advances that seek to both promote restorative breathing and ensure healthy sleep," Alderman Burke said.

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"The perceived dangers to children posed by often-sugary, much-caffeinated energy drinks resulted in much talk but no action Tuesday during a City Council committee hearing," the Tribune reported last week.

"Ald. Edward Burke, 14th, has proposed banning drinks with at least 180 milligrams of caffeine that also include taurine, an amino acid, or guarana, an Amazonian plant that contains caffeine.

"But like many an attention-drawing Burke proposal, it led to no vote - only an agreement for further discussion - even as it provided work for well-connected lobbyists, attorneys and consultants."

To wit:

"Red Bull hired Mark Fary, the former 12th Ward alderman. The American Beverage Association hired Victor Reyes, onetime political chief for former Mayor Richard M. Daley, and attorney Michael Kasper, a political ally of House Speaker Michael Madigan and Mayor Rahm Emanuel. And 7-Eleven Inc. hired Sam Panayotovich, a former state legislator and partner of Cook County Assessor Joseph Berrios, chairman of the Cook County Democratic Party.

"All four have lobbied the mayor's office and aldermen against Burke's proposal, as well as one by Ald. George Cardenas, 12th, to ban the sale of energy drinks to anyone under age 21, according to city disclosures."

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From Mike Royko's Boss:

"Money was there for those who wanted it, and many did. Lobbyists expected to pay for votes. Their generosity was matched by the legislators' greed. If a day passed without profit, some legislators would dream up a 'fetcher' bill. A 'fetcher' bill would, say, require that all railroad tracks in the state be relaid six inches further apart. It would 'fetch' a visit from a lobbyist, bearing a gift."

I'm not sayin', I'm just sayin'.

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From Ray Long's "Lobbyists Bearing Gifts":

"Throughout the years, stories of solicitations to kill unfavorable bills introduced for just that purpose were common enough to give rise to the name 'fetcher bill,' or the more colorful 'Mae West,' an allusion to the late actress' famous line, 'Why don't you come up and see me some time?'"

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Burke may or may not be bringing in campaign contributions to his already flushed fund - which helps him maintain power and influence - by continually concerning himself with much of the council's silly busy work, but his friends are surely benefiting. And that's really the same thing.

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The Weekend Desk Tip Line: Silly, busy.

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The Sound Opinions Weekend Listening Report: "A decade-and-a-half after Car Wheels on a Gravel Road, alt-country pioneer Lucinda Williams is still rocking out. She and the band drop by the Sound Opinions studios for a chat and live performance. Later in the show, Jim and Greg review the steamy new album from pop duo Rhye."

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The CAN TV Weekend Viewing 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.

Elephant and Worm TV

3-4-ElephantAndWorm.jpg

Elephant and Worm is a Chicago educational theater that helps children learn to write stories and then brings them to life in this creative, energetic musical show.

Saturday, March 9 at 9:30 a.m. on CAN TV19
2 hr.

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Perspectivas Latinas: Modern Hispanic Gentleman

3-4-HispanicGentlemen.jpg

Military veteran Jose Luis Velazquez shares how his experiences and those of other Hispanic men help them achieve success today.

Saturday, March 9 at 7:30 p.m. on CAN TV21
30 min.

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Perspectivas Latinas: Chicago Latino Film Festival

3-4-PepeVargas.jpg

Pepe Vargas of the Latino Cultural Center provides a preview of this year's International Latino Film Festival, which starts on April 11 and will bring short and feature-length films by Latino filmmakers to theaters across Chicago.

Saturday, March 9 at 8 p.m. on CAN TV21
30 min.

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Perspectives on Reducing Gun Violence

3-4-ReduceGunViolence.jpg

Dr. Harold Pollack and Roseanne Ander of the University of Chicago's Crime Lab discuss what programs that are proving effective and promising in reducing gun violence in Chicago and beyond.

Sunday, March 10 at 9 a.m. on CAN TV21
1 hr. 30 min.

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Eslanda & Black Women's International Solidarity

3-4-BarbaraRansby.jpg

Award-winning historian Barbara Ransby highlights the large and colorful life of Eslanda Robeson, an anthropologist, journalist, and women's rights advocate.

Sunday, March 10 at 10:30 a.m. on CAN TV21
2 hr.

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Second People's Hearing on Police Crimes

3-4-PoliceCrimes.jpg

Jeff Baker of Stop Police Crimes participates in a public forum addressing police misconduct, including personal testimonies, insights into the impact of abuse on the community at-large, and strategies for preventing police crimes and restoring trust.

Sunday, March 10 at 12:30 p.m. on CAN TV21
2 hr.

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S.O.M.: Seniors On the Move

3-4-SeniorsOnTheMove.jpg

Mz Georgia hosts the Annual S.O.M. White Affair, otherwise known as line dancing with flair.

Sunday, March 10 at 1 p.m. on CAN TV19
1 hr.


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:34 AM | Permalink

March 8, 2013

The [Friday] Papers

"Anybody who paid a fine from a red-light camera ticket in Jefferson Parish may get a refund, if one council member gets his way," Fox8 in New Orleans reports.

"For three years, cameras were stationed around Jefferson Parish, catching people who ran red lights. $20 million was collected from violators.

"Councilman Chris Roberts wants to refund money to ticket payers because the company that owned the cameras, Redflex, is being investigated for a bribery scheme in Chicago involving a former city official who oversaw their camera program."

I don't have to live in Jefferson Parish to know that's not going to happen, but I appreciate the sentiment.

"Roberts says, "There appears to be some kind of connection between the individuals who represented Redflex in Chicago and those that represented them here on the Jefferson Parish contract."

"In 2010, federal investigators subpoenaed Redflex for documents relating to its contract with Jefferson Parish."

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COMMENT 1:45 P.M.: From Jerry Stemnock:

If the people who were caught by red-light cameras in Jefferson Parish get their money back because Redflex's management was corrupt, I want a full refund of all the taxes I've paid to Chicago, Cook County and Illinois.

Charity Case
I feel like there's a Mante T'eo joke here about an imaginary accountant, possibly named Roniah Tuiasosopo here, but I'm not entirely sure.

Squeezy Sighting
"After cutting staff and programs, increasing class sizes and raising fees, struggling school districts are facing a possible new budget squeeze: another steep drop in state education aid," the Tribune reports.

"The 3 percent funding cut proposed by Gov. Pat Quinn this week may sound small, but it represents hundreds of millions of dollars to districts that depend on state money to balance their budgets.

"And it would mean a third year in a row that state spending per student has been cut, frustrating districts trying to make ends meet. If the cuts are approved, the per-pupil figure could plunge to $5,452 next school year, down from $6,119 in budget year 2010."

Maybe just ask DCEO for the money.

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"With a backlog of bills, the state still owes districts $634 million in past state aid payments, according to the latest figures from the Illinois State Board of Education."

Or roughly the size of Argentina's trade surplus.

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"Ted Dabrowski, vice president of policy at the Illinois Policy Institute, said that if state money for suburban and downstate teacher pensions is added to the equation, education funding would actually rise next school year."

A) And the last thing we want is education funding rising

B) And if you add Dabrowski's salary to the mix funding would rise too, but it would be just as irrelevant

C) And if you added all the money teachers spend out of their own pockets on books and other classroom supplies, education funding would also actually rise next school year

Math Class
It occurs to me that I should have made the point (as I did here) in Rahm's Class Size Wars that the actual policy discussion is ultimately irrelevant given that the mayor's real motive is to raise the "ideal" class size higher than current reality in CPS in order to prove underutilization so more schools can be closed. And more charters opened.

Rahm's Institutional Racism
"Nine out of ten of the Chicago Public School students potentially affected by school closings this year are black, a Chicago Sun-Times analysis has found."

I have to admit, my first reaction was that nine out of 10 CPS schools were black anyway, so this wasn't much of a story.

I have to admit that reaction was wrong. Only one in 10 CPS students are white, but the rest of the makeup is split between blacks and Hispanics. I knew that, but I didn't know that.

"The racial breakdown of the schools that could be closed is not in line with the overall demographics of the district. Across the city, 41.7 percent of CPS students are African American, 8.8 percent are white and 44.1 percent are Hispanic."

Why?

"African Americans of all ages left the city and number about 177,000 fewer as of the 2010 census than they did in 2000. During the same decade, the number of whites and Hispanics grew. Many of the schools considered overcrowded are in predominantly Hispanic neighborhoods and, therefore, safe from closing or consolidation."

When your school district (and city) is segregated, every move you make will have racial implications.

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Of course, the city could just forget about school closings for now and focus on more important issues. "Right-sizing" the CPS student's school experience is far more important than "right-sizing" the real estate, no?

Especially given that you can't "right-size" from wrong data:

Indeed, the district claims the city has lost 145,000 children from 2000 to 2010, though school enrollment dropped by about 30,000 during the same decade. CPS cannot explain the disparity in the numbers.

Which is par for the course - and why parents now don't trust CPS and City Hall anymore than teachers.

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I mean, isn't it a good thing that kids from the poorest neighborhoods (theoretically) end up in smaller classes? The schools are naturally right-sizing themselves before our very eyes! For free!

Ballpark Figures
"The Illinois Tollway this year will go full speed on a $12 billion construction program, touting it as a jobs generator that will put an estimated 120,000 people to work over 15 years," the Tribune reports.

"But while additional billions in increased tolls already are adding up, the job numbers don't.

"A close look at analyses cited by the Illinois State Toll Highway Authority only accounts for about 82,500 jobs, and even that relies on 'wildly optimistic and unfounded' assumptions, one independent expert said."

Again, par for the course. Economic development numbers are always inflated. Which is why the benefits Tom Ricketts says he's about to bestow on the city should never be cited by reporters until similarly vetted.

Marina City Math
Floor model malfeasance?

McDonald's Math
From Stand Up! Chicago:

"Today McDonald's worker Norma Marin in Chicago issued the following statement of support for McDonald's guest workers in Pennsylvania who went on strike yesterday, on behalf of Workers Organizing Committee of Chicago:

Fast food and retail workers in Chicago support your fight for fairness on the job. Like low-wage workers across the country, we're standing up for fair pay and treatment in our workplaces - and you deserve the same in yours. We believe that everyone who puts in a hard day's work in the food and retail industries should be able to support their families, especially when companies like McDonald's are making record profits. Your brave decision to take a stand for fairness on the job is a reminder to workers everywhere that together, we can beat the odds.

- Norma Marin, Rock N' Roll McDonald's Employee in Chicago

Cancer Math
"[Schaumburg-based Cancer Treatment Centers of America] is not unique in turning away patients. A lot of doctors, hospitals and other healthcare providers in the United States decline to treat people who can't pay, or have inadequate insurance, among other reasons. What sets CTCA apart is that rejecting certain patients and, even more, culling some of its patients from its survival data lets the company tout in ads and post on its website patient outcomes that look dramatically better than they would if the company treated all comers," Reuters reports.

"CTCA reports on its website that the percentage of its patients who are alive after six months, a year, 18 months and longer regularly tops national figures. For instance, 60 percent of its non-small-cell lung cancer patients are alive at six months, CTCA says, compared to 38 percent nationally. And 64 percent of its prostate cancer patients are alive at three years, versus 38 percent nationally.

"Such claims are misleading, according to nine experts in cancer and medical statistics whom Reuters asked to review CTCA's survival numbers and its statistical methodology."

Junket Math
Cal City alderman and state rep doubles his fun.

Craft Beer Math
Illinois near bottom of the barrel.

History Of Tha Streetz
West Side.

The Week In Chicago Rock
Tame Impala, Muse, Imagine Dragons, The Summer Set, Cody Copeland and Secondhand Serenade.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Secondhand.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 3:41 AM | Permalink

The Week In Chicago Rock

You shoulda been there.

1. Tame Impala at the Vic on Wednesday night.


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2. Muse at the hockey arena on the West Side on Monday night.

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3. Imagine Dragons at the House of Blues on Monday night.

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4. The Summer Set at the Bottom Lounge on Tuesday night.

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5. Cody Copeland at Township on Tuesday night.

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6. Secondhand Serenade at the Bottom Lounge on Thursday night.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 2:37 AM | Permalink

History Of Tha Streetz: Chicago Out West

A TC Production history of Chicago WestSide in the Near West Side, Garfield Park, Madison, Lawndale, & Austin.

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Chicago Austin: North Ave, Chicago Ave, Division Chicago Mafia Insane Vice Lords

Chicago West Garfield Park: Chicago Madison, Chicago Pulaski, Jackson Chicago Black Souls Chicago Four Corner Hustlers

Chicago East Garfield Park: Chicago Ghost Town, Chicago Rockwell Gardens Projects Chicago Renegade Vice Lords Chicago Unknown Vice Lords

Chicago Lawndale: Holy City Chicago Conservatives Vice Lords

Chicago Near West Side: Chicago Henry Horner Homes, Chicago ABLA Homes New Breeds Chicago Damen Courts

Chicago West Humboldt Park: Chicago Ave, Division

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See also:
* The Real Streetz
* History of Tha Streetz YouTube Channel

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 2:01 AM | Permalink

QT: Brief Recess


Q. When is QT like a congressman?
A. When it takes the day off.
QT will return from recess Monday.


QT appears Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. QT welcomes your comments. For more QT, visit the QT archives. QT is also on Facebook.

Posted by Zay N. Smith at 1:00 AM | Permalink

March 7, 2013

The [Thursday] Papers

"After four months of public hearings and review, the commission charged with studying school closings in Chicago has determined the school district has enough staff and available space to pull off 80 school shake-ups, including closings and total staff overhauls known as turnarounds," Linda Lutton reports for WBEZ.

Just yesterday, the Beachwood Bookmaking Bureau set the Over/Under for number of schools that will actually be closed at 35. That still sounds about right.

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"On a conference call with reporters late Wednesday, Commission chairman Frank Clark said the district has added staff just to deal with school closings. 'They have an increased capability. They brought in a person very versed in logistics, a person very versed in security and safety. I've seen organization charts that augment this process with literally scores of people either trained or being trained.'

"The Commission's report says the district has already set up a 'central command office' to handle the planning and implementation of school closings. It says the district has experience moving large numbers of students, and cites the 25,000 eighth graders who move each year from grammar schools into high school."

A lot of energy and resources going into managing the bureaucracy. Every new administration likes to play with organizational charts. Then they move on and the kids - and teachers - are still here.

Rahm's Class Size Wars
Repudiates his own history, chooses Romney's approach instead of Obama's.

Dear Budget
"For the 117th time, Quinn told legislators that they have to do something about pension reform," Phil Kadner writes for the SouthtownStar.

"It's really, really, really important, guys. This time I mean it, the governor said."

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"Quinn said in his budget speech that he had met last week with the four legislative leaders to discuss pension issues, although Senate Minority Leader Christine Radogno said later that she thought 'the purpose of the meeting was to say we had a meeting,'" the Champaign-Urbana News-Gazette reports (via Rich Miller's Capitol Fax budget speech roundup).

"House Minority Leader Tom Cross said the sit-down 'lasted about 5 to 8 minutes, maybe.'

"Quinn and three of the leaders waited more than an hour for Speaker of the House Michael Madigan to show, Cross said.

"'It was a lot of waiting and then a lot of nothing after that,' Cross said. 'The speaker had another meeting going on so we kept waiting.'"

Hipster Dipsters
"A local grocer has been offered a liquor license with a twist: no mass market beers like Bud or Old Style and no cheap wines, either," DNAinfo Chicago reports.

"The owner of Garden Gourmet Market, 1130 N. Ashland, said he's considering the deal that would allow him to sell only craft beers and higher-end wines."

Even liquor licenses are gentrifying.

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Is the owner allowed to oppose gay marriage?

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Is there an exception for PBR?

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"The agreement specifically prohibits hard liquor, 'fortified wines' such as Wild Irish Rose and Night Train, malt liquors such as Colt 45 and Cobra and 'other products that are intended to provide high alcohol content at a low price.'"

Even liquor licenses racially profile these days.

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Hipsters: Celebrating The Diversity Of Only Our Kind Of People.

Counting Room
"Chicago Public Schools officials are looking at moving out of their downtown headquarters as another way to ease a projected $1 billion budget deficit," the Tribune reports.

Why not just move it into the basement of the new casino?

Not About Bombs
"Marking the 10th-year anniversary of the War in Iraq and in honor of International Women's Day, the National Veterans Art Museum (NVAM) is proud to open an exciting new exhibition of art by five female Iraqi artists."

You may not have known this, but the National Veterans Art Museum is in Chicago. Click through for more information.

March Madness Math
The (Near) Impossibility Of The Perfect Bracket, in which a DePaul professor crunches the numbers.

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So you're saying I still have a chance?

Alert: A Mint 1969 Les Paul In The Hizzy
Only played twice in church by a lil' ol' lady.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Write us sometime when you've got no class.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:18 AM | Permalink

Not About Bombs

Marking the 10th-year anniversary of the War in Iraq and in honor of International Women's Day, the National Veterans Art Museum (NVAM) is proud to open an exciting new exhibition of art by five female Iraqi artists.

Not About Bombs addresses how a female perspective can fit into the modern context of turmoil and conflict through art and avoid falling into the typical ways that women are represented and misrepresented.

The NVAM will be free and open to the public from 1 p.m. - 5 p.m. on Saturday, March 9, 2013 with a keynote at 3 p.m. and a panel discussion at 4 p.m.

The exhibit is curated by Tricia Khutoretsky.

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The women in this exhibit contribute art that is visually and conceptually accomplished, but unpredictable and emotionally engaging. Because if anything, as a long, drawn-out, mind-numbing war comes to a "close," emotional investments in Iraq are few and far between.

This exhibit will not be what you expect. It is about war. It is about Iraq. But it presents contemporary art by Iraqi women to deliberately explore and challenge expectations.

Panel discussion - Not About Bombs: Art and Identity Beyond Conflict. This panel discussion among five women aims to unpack the binary of ally/enemy, self/other - a universal wartime strategy. The conversation will explore the power of contemporary art by Iraqi women artists to both clarify and complicate the identity of the "other," whether in or beyond conflict, and attempt to expand the discourse of identity and war beyond the constraints of popular media.

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The show will be open to the public from Saturday, March 9, 2013, through September 2013.

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"Not About Bombs is not just about gender," says art committee co-chair Ash Kyrie. "Not About Bombs also raises questions of nationality, conflict, art, expectation and representation."

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"Part of the project in bringing Not About Bombs to the National Veterans Art Museum is the effort to recontextualize modern narratives of war and of war participants," says participating artist Erica Slone.

"This exhibit insists that viewers broaden their perspective of war and the costs of war. The artists in this show are Iraqi women dealing with questions of identity and representations amid anti-Islam rhetoric and conflict. By using their unique positions as Iraqis, as women, as survivors of war, and as artists, they are pushing the discourse of war beyond conventional expectations.

"The art in this show pushes war art in new directions, finds new metaphors to reach arts patrons, and expands the visual vocabulary of war beyond grenades, guns and other weapons. Simply put, this show is not about bombs. It's about art and the way art can be a catalyst for bigger discussions, and how art can operate to bridge cultural misunderstandings and misrepresentations."

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:16 AM | Permalink

Rahm's Class Size Wars

On a recent campaign swing, Obama chastised Romney for speaking of teachers "as if he thinks these are a bunch of nameless government bureaucrats that we need to cut back on," and he said the Republican budget plan would lead to bigger class sizes. "Have you ever met a teacher who said . . . I have too few kids in my class, I want a lot more kids?" Obama said at a North Las Vegas high school.

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President Obama's campaign quickly responded with a video featuring a former Massachusetts school superintendent attacking the cuts and a fifth-grade teacher saying, "Come be in a classroom with fifth graders and tell me class size doesn't matter."

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The Emanuel administration really stepped in it again when Chicago Public Schools spokesperson Becky Carroll defended a plan to increase class sizes by dismissing concerns that students would be negatively impacted.

"It's the quality of teaching in that classroom," Carroll said. "You could have a teacher that is high-quality that could take 40 kids in a class and help them succeed."

That's a direct repudiation of the position of not only the current president of the United States, but also the previous Democratic president - both of whom Mayor Rahm Emanuel worked for and whose policies (including smaller class sizes) he vigorously championed.

Let's take a look.

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In 1998, Clinton pledged to reduce class size in grades 1-3 to 18 students nationwide.

Gene Sperling, head of the President's National Economic Council, said Mr. Clinton was proposing $7.5 billion in child care spending over five years, $7.3 billion over five years to reduce class size and $5 billion for school construction.

"If the Republicans want to have a fight about education, we stand ready to defend our schools, our parents and our children,'' said Rahm Emanuel, one of the senior advisers.

In 2009, Education Secretary Arne Duncan, a former CPS superintendent, used a speech at the National Press Club to defend the administration's stimulus spending, including dollars used to maintain class sizes. Emanuel, then the president's chief of staff, was one of the main architects of the stimulus bill.

[W]hat the stimulus dollars did was basically stave off what would have been an education catastrophe. We would have lost a generation of children. So it was a massive investment, but it was absolutely critical. And we had to do it. We had to do it quickly.

We can't afford to go backward. We have to go forward. And so, class size would have gone from 25 to 40. If we would have laid off social workers and counselors and librarians, that would have been horrible for our children here and around the country. So we had to put that out there.

(To be fair, Duncan said in 2011 that "class size has been a sacred cow and I think we need to take it on.")

In 2011, Rahm defended raising property taxes in part based on maintaining class size:

Emanuel, who had promised not to raise property taxes for city government, last week defended CPS' decision to seek more tax revenue from residents. He said he was OK with the school tax increase because it was being requested as the district makes significant cuts in spending.

On Thursday, city schools CEO Jean-Claude Brizard explained what went into that decision at Chicago Live!, the Tribune's stage and radio show.

"First thing, we did everything we could to scrub as much as we could from the existing budget, such as reorganization of central office," Brizard said. "So nearly $400 million we found pushing and pulling for efficiencies in the system, and we looked at using reserves before we went to taxpayers. We got to a decision point that if we don't do this, we're going to have to increase class size, lay off a lot of teachers, cut programs we know are dear to our parents. So we looked at investing in the right places."

In case you don't think Brizard's message was a coordinated one, this was Rahm himself two months earlier:

"First, on my [city] budget, we held the line on property taxes," Emanuel said. "Second, this is $28 for the whole year. Third, it protects the investments of early childhood education, class size, longer school day and parental choice."

In 2012, Rahm used class size as a political weapon against Mitt Romney.

Obama political aides in Chicago criticized Romney for seeking advantage and pointed to his repeated campaign statements that class size does not affect a student's education.

"Playing political games with local disputes won't help educate our kids, nor will fewer teachers," said Obama campaign spokesman Ben LaBolt.

Emanuel, Obama's former White House chief of staff, was more direct in dismissing Romney.

"While I appreciate his lip service, what really counts is what we are doing here," Emanuel told reporters. "I don't give two hoots about national comments scoring political points or trying to embarrass - or whatever - the president."

And here's Obama:

On a recent campaign swing, Obama chastised Romney for speaking of teachers "as if he thinks these are a bunch of nameless government bureaucrats that we need to cut back on," and he said the Republican budget plan would lead to bigger class sizes. "Have you ever met a teacher who said . . . I have too few kids in my class, I want a lot more kids?" Obama said at a North Las Vegas high school.

And also from the 2012 presidential campaign:

Though education has not been a major focus in the presidential campaign, the charged issue of class size was injected into the race on Tuesday as Mitt Romney said that while governor of Massachusetts, he was able to do more with less during an economic downturn.

He repeated assertions made during the Republican primary campaign that slightly larger classes - a result of cuts in Massachusetts state aid to schools in 2003 and 2004 - were not as important in student learning as the quality of teachers.

Sound familiar?

President Obama's campaign quickly responded with a video featuring a former Massachusetts school superintendent attacking the cuts and a fifth-grade teacher saying, "Come be in a classroom with fifth graders and tell me class size doesn't matter."

-

Also from that story:

Research from the 1980s showed students in early grades in classes of 13 to 17 performed significantly better than students in classes of 22 to 25. Many states passed laws limiting class size.

-

To that end, I pulled some data to see how CPS class sizes compared to other districts.

1. Class Size Around The World.

"For public schools, the number of pupils per FTE teacher - that is, the pupil/teacher ratio - declined from 22.3 in 1970 to 17.9 in 1985. After 1985, the public school pupil/teacher ratio continued to decline, reaching 17.2 in 1989. After a period of relative stability during the late 1980s through the mid-1990s, the ratio declined from 17.3 in 1995 to 16.0 in 2000. Decreases have continued since then, and the public school pupil/teacher ratio was 15.4 in 2009. By comparison, the pupil/teacher ratio for private schools was estimated at 12.5 in 2009. The average class size in 2007-08 was 20.0 pupils for public elementary schools and 23.4 pupils for public secondary schools."

2. Teacher Trends.

"The number of public school FTE teachers has increased by a larger percentage than the number of public school students over the past 10 years, resulting in declines in the pupil/teacher ratio. In fall 2001, the number of public school pupils per teacher was 15.9, compared with a projected number of 15.2 public school pupils per teacher in fall 2011."

3. Trend Reversing?

"The national ratio of students to their teachers fell between 1980 and 2008, from 17.6 to 15.8 students per public school teacher, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. Because the statistics count special education and other specialized teachers who normally have much smaller classes than regular teachers do, the U.S. Department of Education estimates the current average class size at more like 25 students. That number is likely to rise, given states' and districts' financial constraints, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said last month at a Washington forum.

"Nearly all the states that have changed their class-size laws since 2008 have relaxed restrictions, in many cases specifically to ease districts' budget burdens, according to the Denver-based Education Commission of the States."

4. New York City Class Size Report.

5. On Bill Gates, Class Size and American Parents.

"The problem is that American parents are concerned not only with their children's test scores, but also with their day to day experiences at school. Parents want their children to have meaningful personal relationships with educators--the sorts of life-changing experiences many of us remember fondly when we think back on our favorite teachers, whether they helped us score higher on a chemistry exam or just got us through a difficult time at home."

6. Class Sizes Could Increase For Special Education Students.

"Special education advocates are up in arms about a state proposal to eliminate class size caps for special education rooms and let districts decide what percentage of a 'general education' class can be students with disabilities.The rule changes would leave the state without maximum class sizes based on a child's disability for the first time since 1975."

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See also: The [Wednesday] Papers.

-

Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 4:21 AM | Permalink

The (Near) Impossibility Of The Perfect Bracket

The odds of picking a perfect bracket are less than one-in-9.2 quintillion. For those with a solid knowledge of the history of the NCAA tournaments, the odds of picking a perfect bracket increase greatly but still involve numbers with lots of zeroes.


-

The good news: If you know something about basketball, your odds increase to one-in-128 billion.

-

Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 3:49 AM | Permalink

Gear Is Good: 1969 Ebony Les Paul Custom In Mint Condition!

"This 1969 Les Paul Custom was played for two days after its original purchase, then placed back in its case only to be stored there for the next 40 years. This is one of the absolute cleanest vintage Les Pauls that exist."


-

Specs:

Body: Three-piece maple cap on mahogany back.

Neck: Three-piece mahogany neck with 1 11/16" wide nut and bound ebony fretboard with pearloid block inlays, no volute, "Made in USA" on the back of the headstock.

Pickups/Hardware: Two humbuckers with patent numbers (both rate at 7.3kOhms), three-way pickup selector switch, independent tone and volume controls with 1969 potentiometers, and waffle-back tuners.

Cosmetic Condition: The body hardly has a ding or scratch on it, it's remarkably clean. The neck is still glossy and virtually spotless. The headstock looks like new. This has to be the cleanest Custom of this era we've ever seen!

Modifications: None.

Weight: 9lbs, 10oz.

Case: Original hardshell.

(Amp: Fender Vintage Reissue '65 Super Reverb.)

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 3:13 AM | Permalink

March 6, 2013

Despite New Pardons, Obama's Clemency Rate Is Still Lowest In Recent History

On Friday, President Obama pardoned 17 people. But despite the new pardons, the Obama administration has still granted clemency more rarely than any president in recent history.

Indeed, the day before the pardons were announced, a Department of Justice spokesman said, Obama had denied 314 other applicants.

A ProPublica analysis of Justice Department statistics last November found that Obama had granted pardons at a lower rate than Presidents Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, or George W. Bush had at the same point in their administrations.

Obama has now granted a total of 39 pardons and denied 1,333.

The people pardoned on Friday - including a mother of two in Honolulu who had faced the possibility of deportation due to a 1996 conviction and a fishing company executive who went to prison in 1991 for a bid-rigging scam - will not have their records wiped clean. But pardons do allow convicted criminals to restore their rights to vote, buy firearms, and open up other opportunities closed to them by their records.

Pardons are largely processed based on recommendations from the Justice Department's Office of the Pardon Attorney. As we reported in November, recommendations in favor of pardons have been rare during Obama's presidency.

The president also has the power to commute sentences - a privilege Obama has used only once.

After ProPublica and the Washington Post detailed the commutation case of Clarence Aaron, the Justice Department's inspector general criticized the pardon attorney, Ronald L. Rodgers, for failing to convey key information about the case to the White House.

The report concluded that Rodgers had engaged in "conduct that fell substantially short of the high standards expected of Department of Justice employees and the duty he owed the President of the United States."

Our 2011 investigation of pardons data from 2001 to 2008 also found that whites were four times as likely to be pardoned as minorities, prompting a Justice Department study.

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Comments welcome.


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:50 PM | Permalink

The [Wednesday] Papers

"Mayor Rahm Emanuel's push to close dozens of schools hinges on a vision of the 'ideal' size for kindergarten through eighth-grade classes as 30 students, far larger than is the case now in the typical Chicago classroom," the Tribune reports.

Rahm Emanuel wants to make CPS class sizes larger.

"Setting a benchmark higher than what records indicate is reality across Chicago - and far higher than in many suburbs - indicates to some that Emanuel is willing to buck the popular notion that smaller classes produce better students who get more individual attention."

I wonder if he's trying to buck that notion at the University of Chicago Lab Schools where he sends his kids. (Classroom size of 23 in grades 1 through 4 - plus assistant teachers to help with the load.) He's probably blowing up the phones of Lab administrators as we speak, haranguing them about wasting resources.

"Pegging calculations to a 30-student class allows the mayor and school officials to drive the public debate with attention-grabbing statistics. It has enabled the Emanuel administration to declare nearly half of all elementary and high schools underused, leaving 100,000 desks empty."

What an interesting lesson.

"On the other side of the ledger, however, are numbers that raise questions about the district's calculations."

Aren't there always?

"Becky Carroll, a CPS spokeswoman, argued that big classes don't necessarily hamper learning.

"It's the quality of teaching in that classroom," Carroll said. "You could have a teacher that is high-quality that could take 40 kids in a class and help them succeed."

Why not 45 kids? 50? Just get an even higher quality teacher!

*

Average class size at New Trier High School: 22.4.

*

It's true, as the story says, that a Brookings study found no correlation between class size and student outcomes. It's also true that no one believes that study except those who find it politically convenient to wield.

Northwestern's Jeanne Marie Olson, who is quoted in the story, explains in the Tribune's comments section:

Thank you for the great article and the mention. I have to point out that the Center for Public Education did a similar review of the research and ended up with different conclusions than the Brookings study did. You can find the research review entitled "Class-size-and-student-achievement-Research-review."

It is easier to see how class size will affect the ability of a teacher to focus on a student if you just look at the logistics of time management. If we allow for each student in a class of 40 students to only speak for 10 minutes a day to their teacher...just 10 minutes each? The teacher would be able to talk for 20 minutes while the kids ate their lunches. None of us, not even Ms Carroll, could remain engaged and motivated while having to remain silent and unheard for 400 minutes a day. In Ms Carroll's class of 40 students, even the most amazing teacher cannot bend time.

I don't know if Carroll has kids, but if she does, I wonder how she would feel if she was told they were being moved from a classroom of, say, 22.4 to 30. Better?

*

Plus:

*

We don't need a moratorium on school closings, we need a moratorium on bullshit. To wit:

* There Was A Hidden Drawer.

Previously:

* Rahm's Fake Jobs

* Rahm's Unbearable Whiteness Of Being

* Rahm's Pants Still Aflame

* The Moneyball Mayor's Credibility Gap

* Emanuel's Charter Stats Don't Add Up

* Emanuel Errs On Charter Performance

* Rahm Caught Lying About Speed Cameras

* The Mayor, The Lobbyist And The 6-Year-Old Girl

* Liar's Poker: Rahm's Minor Concessions Leave Gaping Holes In Our Civil Liberties

* Rahm's Fake Transparency

* Rahm The Master Media Manipulator

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See also:

* Oh, Becky

* CPS's Bizarre Communication Triangle

-

And:

From the Beachwood vault:

"Chief CPS Communications Officer Becky Carroll is in line for a base of $165,000 - up from her predecessor's $130,383 and higher than the base salary of mayoral communications chief Christine Mather, who is taking home $162,492."

Well, that makes sense. Carroll is expected to do two percent more lying than Mather.

Communicable Disease
Maybe Ceasefire can send interruptors to city offices to stop the spread of lies. Here's another one I'm just catching up with:

Remember that press conference when Rahm scolded a Tribune reporter for asking if CTA fare increases would disproportionately hurt the poor? (See the item Mayor Rahmney.) If only the reporter would have attended Forrest Claypool's briefing, he wouldn't be asking such a stupid question.

Well, guess what?

*

Then again, Rahm reserves the right to deny he ever said whatever it is we've all seen him say.

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Political Odds
Updated!

Shooting, Bullying & Spitballing
In Local Book Notes.

Jimmy Orrville, Boy Detective
In Random Food Report.

Kabul vs. Wall Street
In today's installment of QT.

Sleepy City
Fantasy Fix: Top 20 Second Basemen.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Size matters.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:45 AM | Permalink

Local Book Notes: Shooting, Bullying & Spitballing

Over the transom.

1. American Shooter.

"Arlington Heights author Gerry Souter will discuss his book American Shooter: A Personal History of Gun Culture in the United States, at 6 p.m. Tuesday, March 12, in a Society of Midland Authors program at the Harold Washington Library Center.

"In the book, Souter takes a personal look at gun ownership, handgun bans, shooting sports and the controversy over how to interpret the Second Amendment, writing from the point of view of a liberal gun owner and enthusiast.

"Souter and his wife, Janet, have authored or co-authored more than 40 nonfiction books on history, biography, art and other topics. Gerry Souter is a member of the Society of Midland Authors' board of directors.

"The free event begins at 6 p.m. sharp in the library's Cindy Pritzker Auditorium. Seating is available first come, first served. Reservations are not required."

2. The Death of Books.

Included in this collection of trailers:

"Professor David Schneiderman, chair of the English Department at Lake Forest College in Illinois, predicts the death of books and encourages its demise. Recorded at the pop-up book fair at the Empty Bottle."

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3. Teen Bullying.

"Journalist and author Emily Bazelon explores the epidemic of teen bullying in her new book Sticks and Stones: Defeating the Culture of Bullying and Rediscovering the Power of Character and Empathy.

"In her book, Bazelon, a senior editor at Slate and a leading voice on the social and legal aspects of teenage drama, examines bullying through the stories of three young people caught in the thick of it.

* Bazelon will discuss her book on Thursday at the Tribune Tower, 7 p.m. $15.

4. Spitballing.

From Joe Niese:

"I wanted to let you know that I have a book coming out this spring/early summer about Hall of Fame spitballer, Burleigh Grimes, aptly titled Burleigh Grimes: Baseball's Last Legal Spitballer.

"Though his time in a Cubs uniform was short (1932 through the end of July of '33), Grimes was involved in a few great moments, including clocking Rogers Hornsby in the clubhouse after he took him out of a game, as well as being a part of the bench jockeying crew that was involved in Babe Ruth's alleged called shot during the - Grimes called complete b.s. on it."

* See also: JoeNiese.com

5. Poetry As A Bridge Between Gay Teen And Her Mother.

6. Journalese.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:23 AM | Permalink

Random Food Report: Jimmy Orrville, Boy Detective

Mmmm.

1. Scoop Poop.

"A Texas jury has sided with a St. Louis company in its fight with snack giant Frito-Lay over the right to produce bowl-shaped tortilla chips," Jim Salter reports for AP.

"Plano, Texas-based Frito-Lay sued St. Louis-based Ralcorp Holdings and its Medallion Foods subsidiary in February 2012, saying Ralcorp's Bowlz corn chips were too similar to Frito-Lay's Tostitos Scoops! chips. In both cases, the chips are formed into small bowl shapes, allowing for easier scooping."

You might say it's a case of double duping.

2. The Bell, the Ball, the Boot and the Bone.

Those are the official names of McNugget shapes.

*

In slightly related news, McDonald's is dumping Chicken Selects "to make room for new products expected to arrive this spring and summer."

Perhaps the Thimble, the Shoe, the Top Hat and the Car.

3. Vote Poochie.

"At South by Southwest, Doritos will sponsor a band battle in which three music acts will compete to open for open for an evening concert headlined by LL Cool J, Public Enemy, Ice Cube and Doug E. Fresh. Fans will be asked to vote for the opening act via Twitter. The event, held on a 62-foot 'vending machine' stage, will be streamed on the Doritos Facebook page."

4. JM Smucker & The Orrville Chronicles.

* The JM Smucker Company is the top U.S. packaged coffee maker.

* The JM Smucker Company is based in Orrville, Ohio.

* The JM Smucker Company sells Folger's and Dunkin' Donuts coffee.

* The cost of raw Arabica and Robusta has dropped considerably.

* Therefore, JM Smucker is slashing prices on its signature brands.

* Jimmy Orrville, boy detective.

* "Somethun's up at the Smucker factory, Jimmy."

5. 7-11 building "all-day menu."

Hi there, According to a recent study, Americans eat out an average of 4.5 times a week. 7-Eleven knows guests are time-starved and looking for convenient ways to save time and money - without sacrificing flavor and quality. This March, the world's largest convenience store retailer introduces two new, fresh premium sandwiches without the premium price while continuing an effort to provide healthier options for their guests.

Satisfying Fresh Sandwiches:

*NEW* Steakhouse Roast Beef Sandwich with Blue Cheese Mayonnaise on Marble Rye - sliced select roast beef with blue cheese crumble mayonnaise, fresh baby spinach and juicy tomatoes on marble rye bread. All for 420 calories.

*NEW* Bistro Deluxe with Black Forest Ham, Salami, Swiss Cheese and Dijon Mustard on Asiago Bread - black forest ham, genoa salami and swiss cheese with lettuce and tangy Dijon mustard all stacked on fresh asiago bread. All for 440 calories.

7-Smart Turkey with Tomato on Wheat - simply delicious with sliced oven roasted turkey, crisp lettuce and tomatoes on whole wheat bread. All for 290 calories.

In addition to the new sandwich offerings, for the entire month of March, 7-Eleven is offering guests a free 16-ounce Pepsi with the purchase of any fresh sandwich at participating locations nationwide.

Steakhouse Pepsi?

6. Italian ice.

"We are excited to let you know that the Häagen-Dazs® brand is making this New Year even sweeter with the launch of its newest thoughtfully-crafted offering, Häagen-Dazs Gelato!

Truly made like no other, Häagen-Dazs® Gelato uses only the finest, most essential ingredients to achieve a perfect expression of the Italian experience. Madagascar vanilla, Brazilian coffee, San Francisco sea salt, Oregon cherries and South African lemons are just some of the ingredients used to create rich and creamy gelato flavors like Stracciatella, Sea Salt Caramel, Black Cherry Amaretto and Limoncello that will transport you to Italy with every spoonful.

"Leisurely strolls through the piazza at dusk, an appreciation of centuries old craftsmanship, and a love of food that borders on obsession, these are the essential Italian moments we had in mind when creating Häagen-Dazs® Gelato," said Cady Behles, Häagen-Dazs® brand manager.

Don't you mean Cady Behles®?

7. Get them addicted and complain about their lack of character.

8. Food Industry Likened To Big Tobacco.

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Luke Chen is our pseudononymous man on food. The Random Food Report is a food report that appears randomly. It welcomes your comments.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:40 AM | Permalink

QT: Location, Location, Location


News Headline: "Two Kabul bank executives sentenced to prison for fraud."
This is what happens when bankers aren't smart enough to commit their crimes on Wall Street.

···

News Headline: "College basketball's regular season is nihilism and emptiness."
Will someone please do something to cheer up our sportswriters?

···

News Headline: "U.S. budget austerity sets in."
Austerity failed in the Great Depression.
It failed in Japan.
It is failing in Europe.
But if we don't keep trying it over and over, how can we ever expect a different result?

···

News Item: "Workers at a United Arab Emirates company said they submitted four attempts to Guinness World records. . . most people wearing paper hats, largest barefoot race, longest high-five chain and largest hopping race. . . ."
Note to Guinness:
Please award these workers at least one record.
We don't want 400 people wearing paper hats, racing barefoot, doing high-fives and hopping to look silly.

···

Beverly Feldt, a Homewood reader, regarding QT's asking its readers to stop playing games with the names with fish, writes in agreement:
"Hake ut it out."
Maybe we all need to seek kelp.

···

News Item: ". . . leading to the end of civilization as we know it. . . ."
QT will get back to you.
Still looking for a downside.

···

The Case for Zero Tolerance of Modern School Administrators:
The Baltimore school that suspended a 7-year-old boy for bending a breakfast pastry into what the teacher thought resembled a gun has reaffirmed the suspension and its zero-tolerance weapons policy while offering counseling to pupils who might have been "troubled" by the bent pastry.

···

News Headline: "After police chase, naked man crashes into river, stands on top of sinking minivan, waves underwear over head."
As reasonable response as any to the day's news.

···

From the QT Archive of Knowledge:
+ The Quonset hut was invented in Rhode Island.
+ A third of the soot found in San Francisco comes from Asia.

···

From Poor QT's Almanack:
On this day in history 177 years ago Mexican soldiers took the Alamo, which is mentioned here for those who didn't remember.

···

QT Grammar R Us Seminar on the English Language:
Ellen Hinsch, a Columbia, S.C. reader, regarding QT's mention that it is not "spitting image" but "spit and image," writes:
"I read somewhere long ago that before 'spit and image,' the phrase was originally 'spirit and image' to describe someone who was like another person not only in appearance, but in demeanor, as well."
QT still favors spit.
As it was written in 1689: "Poor child! He's as like his own dadda as if he were spit out of his mouth."
Or there is always the Norwegian "som snytt ut av nesen paa."
Which translates to "as blown out of the nose of."
And aren't you sorry you brought it up?
Speaking of spit, is it past time for QT's semiannual reminder that oral contracts are always verbal, but verbal contracts aren't always oral?
Evidently.


QT appears Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. QT welcomes your comments. For more QT, visit the QT archives. QT is also on Facebook.

Posted by Zay N. Smith at 6:00 AM | Permalink

Fantasy Fix: The Top 20 Second Basemen

If you find yourself in the middle of the line for your fantasy baseball draft, there's a good chance you could end up drafting Robinson Cano in the first round and have your second base needs taken care of immediately. If you don't, you might want to forget about second base until much later, as there is value to be had deep into this list.

1. Robinson Cano. Far and away the best fantasy producer at the position, though it's fair to wonder how a decimated lineup and contract squabbles will affect his production.

2. Dustin Pedroia. The Red Sox' housecleaning could force him to be an MVP-type player again.

3. Jason Kipnis. A lot depends on the readiness of the youngster to go all-out for a full season, but he's a solid hitter who could finish among the stolen base leaders.

4. Ian Kinsler. He could score fewer runs with big bats gone from Texas, but his power/speed combo is the best one-two punch at the position.

5. Aaron Hill. Rebounded from a poor 2011 to have the second-most HRs at the position, and if he keeps it up could easily be in the top three at second base.

6. Jose Altuve. Stellar debut last year with .290 BA and 33 SBs makes it easy to envision .315/40.

7. Martin Prado. Great all-around hitter with additional eligibility at SS, 3B and OF.

8. Brandon Phillips. I have him ranked lower than most, but this former 30/30 man hasn't even reached 20 HRs or SBs since 2009.

9. Ben Zobrist. Among second basemen last year, he was fourth in runs scored, fifth in HRs, fourth in OPS and in the top 10 in both RBIs and SBs. Besides that multi-category balance, you get SS and OF eligibility.

10. Chase Utley. A risky pick with his injury history, but his 2012 numbers for 301 at-bats project to about 22 HRs, 90 RBIs, 22 SBs for a full season.

11. Rickie Weeks. Has slipped from his best season in 2010, but still has potential for 20 HRs, 80 RBIs and 20 SBs if he gets his act together.

12. Dan Uggla. Late-season comeback last year couldn't save him from his career-worst numbers for HRs and RBIs, but a more power-packed lineup could protect him.

13. Kyle Seager. Surprised last year with 86 RBIs, second to Cano among 2Bs, and if he can manage another 20 HRs and an uptick from a .259 BA, he could be a late-round steal.

14. Neil Walker. Real potential to be a .300 hitter, but yet to have his breakout season.

15. Danny Espinosa. Intriguing power and speed made him a hot pick-up last year, but he reportedly is playing through an arm injury, and tends to be streaky.

16. Josh Rutledge. Small sample last year resulted in 33 of 77 hits going for extra bases. A nice late-round gamble.

17. Howie Kendrick. Reliable hitter with some speed; could score 100 runs in a beefed-up lineup.

18. Michael Young. An amazingly consistent producer until falling off last year, but might hit just ahead of Ryan Howard, and has a new lease on life after leaving Texas.

19. Dustin Ackley. Loads of potential, so you could gamble on him breaking out this season, though .682 OPS last year was one of the lowest on this list.

20. Everth Cabrera. 44 SBs led all 2Bs, and the only reason to use a draft pick on him would be if you find yourself coming up short in that category.

Sleepers:

Marco Scutaro. The World Series made his career. He won't deliver power, but is one of the most consistent hitters at the position.

Darwin Barney. Very streaky and one-dimensional, but worth watching if he starts hot.

Gordon Beckham. Seems like he's always living on borrowed time, but career-high 16 HRs last year lets us dream he could be an in-season pick-up.

Brian Roberts. I have a soft spot for the talented, injury-prone veteran with extra-base hit and stolen-base potential.

Expert Wire
* Yahoo!'s experts like Cano and Pedroia as the top two 2Bs, but from there we differ.

* Bleacher Report eyes some players poised for breakout seasons, including Anthony Rizzo.

* Cincinnati.com's Fantasy Headquarters examines the potential of Jurickson Profar, the Texas infielder who is widely listed as the top overall MLB prospect.

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Dan O'Shea is our man in fantasyland. He welcomes your comments.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 5:29 AM | Permalink

March 5, 2013

The [Tuesday] Papers

"Dawn Clark Netsch, an iconic Illinois political presence for more than six decades, died Tuesday morning from complications from ALS. She was 86," Carol Marin reports.

*

Two tweets that say a lot:

*

*

See also: Netsch was one of the nation's first female law professors.

The Redflex Way
"Chicago, Illinois is not be the only city where employees of Redflex Traffic Systems have bribed U.S. officials," TheNewspaper reports.

"In a conference call with shareholders on Tuesday, the Australian photo enforcement firm's interim chairman, Michael McConnell, made the admission as he vowed to restore the 'ethical compass' of Redflex.

"It's a fair question to say if this was going on in Chicago, might it have been going on somewhere else," McConnell told investors on Tuesday. "We found two other geographies that raise concern, and those investigations are considerably smaller than the one just completed. We expect that work to be done - with a final report on all their investigative activities - no later than the end of March."

So not sure the reporting supports the lead - yet - but still.

*

"In answer to a shareholder question, Redflex declined to identify any ethical lapses at its competitors, American Traffic Solutions or Xerox (formerly Affiliated Computer Services). ACS was caught giving hockey tickets and other services to police officers in Edmonton, Canada, although criminal charges were ultimately dropped.

"American Traffic Solutions (ATS) regularly entertains public officials involved in red light camera business, but the airfare, lodging and wages during the event is paid for by taxpayers, not ATS."

So they let the public officials pay they entertain pick up the tab?

Important to know because:

"Arizona-based American Traffic Solutions Inc. was selected as the preferred bidder for an automated camera system to tag speeders near public schools and parks, Mayor Rahm Emanuel's administration said," the Tribune reported last month.

Also from that report:

"ATS recently agreed to pay up to $4.2 million in partial refunds on a half-million New Jersey tickets that might have been issued in violation of state law.

"While not admitting fault, the company said it wanted to support its client cities in an effort to cut short a series of class-action lawsuits alleging its red-light camera systems weren't properly inspected nor certified by 11 municipalities before citations began hitting mailboxes throughout the state in 2009."

Secret Police State
"The University of Chicago Police Department said Monday it had placed two employees on administrative leave and launched an investigation after university officials acknowledged that an officer posed as a protester during a demonstration over U. of C. hospital trauma care last month," the Tribune reports.

Gee, I wonder where they got that idea?

Surveilling Swartz
"In 2008, Carl Malamud, a freedom-of-information activist, put the word out that the pacer (Public Access to Court Electronic Records) database, which normally charged eight cents a page for public documents with no copyright, was offering a free trial of its services at seventeen libraries," the New Yorker reports.

"Malamud called on activists to go to these libraries, download the files, and post them free on the Web. [Aaron] Swartz went to a library in Chicago and downloaded twenty per cent of the database before he was discovered and pacer called off the trial. He was investigated by the F.B.I.: it conducted surveillance on his parents' house, near Chicago, and compiled a detailed dossier on him . . .

"Swartz grew up in Highland Park, a suburb of Chicago. His father designed computer software and consulted on intellectual-property issues; his mother stayed home. He taught himself to read at three and was reading novels by the time he was in kindergarten, so his parents sent him to an elementary school for gifted children."

Rauner Downer
"Today, Illinois business and civic leader Bruce Rauner officially announced that he is actively considering a run for Governor in 2014," his not-quite-a-campaign says in a press release issued this morning (emphasis mine).

"Rauner, a Republican, filed papers with the Illinois State Board of Elections creating an exploratory campaign committee that will allow him to begin fully exploring a candidacy."

"Rauner's initial effort will not be a formal or traditional campaign. After spending several months talking with local and national leaders in business, education reform, and politics, and crisscrossing the state attending Lincoln Day Dinners and other events, Rauner is now entering a more intense period of consideration of a potential candidacy. For the next 60 days, Rauner will significantly increase his events and meetings, while looking to make a final determination on a candidacy well in advance of the March, 2014 primary election."

So "straight talk" not likely to be a campaign theme.

Alternate: What's next, a task force to study the issue?

*

He likes to say he's not a politician but he's already learned how to talk like one.

*

And now comes the inevitable "listening tour."

"I want to hear what's on Illinoisans' minds. For the next sixty days I'm going to do something folks in Springfield don't do - listen. I want to listen to how our citizens think we should tackle our state's problems."

Here's a thought: If you haven't listened to Illinoisans yet and don't already know what's on their minds and how they want problems tackled, you aren't qualified to run for governor.

*

Of course, "listening tours" are really about listening to the sound of donors opening their checkbooks if enough special interests and demographic niches seem to like what they hear; sorry for being briefly earnest.

Sneednam Style
Sneed, February 27:

"Basketball terror Dennis Rodman, whose past personal and financial decisions appear to be on the same intellectual plane as a house plant, had this to say on Twitter when he landed in leader Kim Jong-un's North Korea this week to participate in a goodwill tour with a gaggle of Harlem Globetrotters: 'Kim Jung Un & North Korean people are basketball fans. I love everyone . . . Maybe I'll run into the Gangnam Style dude while I'm here.' Uhhhhhh . . . the Gangnam dude lives in South Korea!"

Sneed, March 4:

"It should come as no surprise, basketball bad boy Dennis 'His Airheadness' Rodman, returned from his kiss kiss trip to North Korea and power coupling with leader Kim Jong Un to deliver a message that Kim wants President Barack Obama to call him.

"It should also come as no surprise Obama will do no such 'gangnam' thing."

Did I miss the column in the interim where the Koreas united?

The Political Odds
Even more names added to the lieutenant governor sweepstakes. Plus, the Over/Under on how many CPS schools will be closed.

First Time Ever: U of C Ties Vortex In A Knot
Dolphins and a 3-D printer.

Theo's Thesis Thucks
"Mr. Epstein is still selling a plan that doesn't synch up with basic baseball truths," our very own Jim "Coach" Coffman writes.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: 10-4, we've got our ears on.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:33 AM | Permalink

SportsMondayTuesday: Theo's Thesis Thucks

Hey Theo, in major league baseball, 78 isn't just greater than 73, it is much greater.

The Cubs' general manager opined last week that he didn't want his team to get caught in the middle ground of not really competing for championships. He said he would rather break up a mediocre team in the middle of a given season and use trades to try to add more prospects than hang in there, maybe add a piece or two, and hope for a hot streak that might put the team over the top.

The money quote: "There's no glory in 78 wins instead of 73. Who cares?"

And the reaction from Cub fans and the local media was positive. Which means it is time to insert your favorite joke about Cubs fans (of which I am one) here.

The problem, again, is that Mr. Epstein is still selling a plan that doesn't synch up with basic baseball truths. And so many folks around here are still buying.

People! Please remember that the vast majority of successful baseball teams are a mix of veterans and young players. They do not suddenly come together all in one season (2015, 2016?) when a wave of young players crests and rushes into a big league ballpark.

And let's remember, too, that a team that gets to 78 victories is a winning streak away from 83, which of course is the number of wins the St. Louis Cardinals posted in 2006 on their way to a Central Division crown and an eventual World Series championship, their 10th of 11.

That team wasn't an anomaly. The San Francisco Giants have won two of the last three World Series. Can you name a singular bonus baby superstar, let alone a group of them, who led the team to those championships? Of course not. They have used great pitching depth and just enough hitting to outlast postseason foes. Let's be clear, 2012 World Series MVP Pablo Sandoval, also known as the Kung Fu Panda for his roly-poly physique, was never a highly sought after prospect.

Now, there is one element that has come into play in the past few years that adds a little more credence to Theo's thesis, and that is the fact that the teams with the worst nine records in a given year now get a bit of a bonus. Thanks to the most recent collective bargaining agreement, their first-round picks the next year are protected. That means if they go out and sign a big ol' free agent, they lose their second-round pick rather than their first as compensation.

Not that losing a second-round pick is any great shakes either, but that does mean the worst teams don't get hurt quite as much by signing the most valuable free agents.

But even if it takes losing a firs- round pick (and I did not advocate the Cubs doing that last season and I probably won't advocate it in the 2013-14 off-season either), a good enough free agent is obviously worth a very high price.

One final thing to remember: All of us North Siders are hoping that Theo and Jed Hoyer have put in place a scouting and development system so comprehensive and clever that it will eventually overwhelm other teams' systems. But who knows if that will come to fruition. The most important thing for the Cubs during the next few seasons will be for them to take advantage of their one, undeniable advantage over most of their foes: The fact that they are in the top five in the league in total revenues year after year.

Everyone loves the idea of young prospects coming up through the system and leading the way to glory. The reality is that all successful teams have to be a mix of a few such players, preferably playing up-the-middle positions (hello Buster Posey), augmented by others obtained in all sorts of different ways.

Those are the guys who will account for the five additional victories that will put a team over the top.

-

Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:01 AM | Permalink

U of C Ties Vortex In A Knot

"The vortex knot was a mere theory a century ago, but now physicists at the University of Chicago have created a vortex knot in a lab environment for the first time," Science World Report notes.


"The gnarly feat," says Nature, "described today in Nature Physics, paves the way for scientists to experimentally study twists and turns in a range of phenomena - ionized gases like that of the Sun's outer atmosphere, superconductive materials, liquid crystals and quantum fields that describe elementary particles."

"To conduct the study, the physicists used a 3-D printer to make small replicas of airplane foil wings," iTechPost reports.

"They then submerged them in water and yanked them forward very quickly. Water filled the space left by the airfoil, and since the airfoil was knot-shaped, the liquid vortex took the same shape. Although the vortex knot was only visible momentarily, the scientists captured it with video using a high-speed laser scanner. The success of the project means that scientists should now be able to create the knotted vortex as they see fit for experimental purposes."

"Vortex knots should, in principle, be persistent, stable phenomena," researchers say.

"'The unexpected thing is that they're not,' said Dustin Kleckner, a postdoctoral scientist at UChicago's James Franck Institute. 'They seem to break up in a particular way. They stretch themselves, which is a weird behavior.'"

-

Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:00 AM | Permalink

March 4, 2013

The [Monday] Papers

"Of the 1,426 billionaires in the world, there are 17 in Illinois, according to the latest Forbes list," Crain's notes.

I have nothing funny or insightful to say about this.

Red-Handed
"Chicago's embattled red light camera firm went to City Hall on Friday in its latest effort to come clean, acknowledging for the first time that its entire program here was likely built on a $2 million bribery scheme," the Tribune reported over the weekend.

"By its sheer size, the alleged plot would rank among the largest in the annals of Chicago corruption."

In a follow-up story today, the Tribune reports on a company news release outlining the findings of an internal investigation conducted by former city inspector general David Hoffman.

Hoffman's findings outline 17 company-paid trips for [city program overseer John] Bills between 2003 and 2010, including airfare, hotels, golf outings, rental cars and meals. The report also says the executive vice president or the consultant - previously identified as Rosenberg and O'Malley, respectively - "purchased a computer, Chicago-area golf games and meals for the city program manager and was reimbursed by Redflex. These improper expenses totaled approximately $20,000."

Improper expenses or just commissions?

I mean, you can hardly blame folks from thinking this is just how business is done with authoritarian regimes.

*

Yeah, thought long and hard and couldn't really come up with something that popped a little better than that. Having a rough morning.

Speaking Of Third World Chicago . . .
Would you like an investigative alert with your stop and frisk today? Or should we just starve you out?

*

Better? I haven't had time to really dig into each of those for the singular items they each deserve. Maybe tomorrow.

Bring In The Stunt Kids
Michelle Obama's "Let's Move" Disaster.

*

You can report the stagecraft as if it's real or you can report what's real.

Reply All
I would do it for $44,255.

Battlefield Nurses
"Atundra Horne walks along the battered cement pathway to her patient's home with a set jaw and a solemn face. A computer with patient records is slung over her shoulder; a backpack stuffed with gauze, bandages and other medical equipment rolls behind her.

"Horne is a home health nurse, and her patients live in some of the roughest areas in Chicago. On this day she is working in Auburn Gresham, a neighborhood on the South Side. Horne's workplace is far from water coolers and cubicles; instead, she says, it involves drugs, prostitution and the occasional clap of gunfire."

*

Actually, I try to resist analogizing urban violence with war like I did with that little headline. It's lazy and wrong. But I'm having a lazy and wrong morning.

Bad Brew
"State law mandates that local mayors generally serve as their community's liquor commissioner, meaning they're responsible for licensing businesses that want to sell booze, and cracking down on those that sell to minors or otherwise exhibit bad behavior.

"But the Better Government Association and CBS2 found a troubling trend: mayors across the Chicago region routinely take campaign contributions from restaurants, taverns and liquor stores they're regulating."

*

I stole that headline straight from the story. So, credit given.

The Political Odds
Now with lieutenant governor possibilities!

How Does Obama Choose Drone Targets?
Not very well.

QT's America
Goldman Sachs, the sequester and Swan Lake.

The Weekend In Chicago Rock
Pieces of Eight.

SportsMonday . . .
. . . will appear on Tuesday this week.

Programming Note
I'll do better tomorrow, dear readers!

-

The Beachwood Tip Line: Crystal visions.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:53 AM | Permalink

QT: Reversals Of Fortune


News Headline: "Pessimists live longer than optimists, study says."
Or think of it this way: If you are optimistic, you have good reason to be pessimistic.

···

QT Trickle-On Economics Update:
Goldman Sachs offered a gala black-tie party for its partners that one partygoer likened to "the Golden Globes of investment banking" as it prepared to lay off at least 5 percent of its workers.

···

News Headline: "Elizabeth Warren: Sequester is 'just plain dumb.'"
News Headline: "Rep. Eliot Engel: The sequester is 'stupid.'"
News Headline: "Erskine Bowles: Sequester is 'stupid, stupid, stupid.'"
News Headline: "Trying to understand the sequester."
It won't be easy.
Not if our politicians insist on using technical language.

···

Or think of the sequester as a case of cutting off our foot to spite our face.

···

S.S., a Minneapolis reader, regarding QT's asking its readers to stop playing games with the names with fish, writes:
"Walleye never. . . ."
This is sardinely wearing a bit fin. . . .

···

QT End of the World As We Know It Update:
Asteroid 2013 EB passed inside the moon's orbit on Thursday.
We know this because it was discovered two days later.
Asteroid 2013 EC, meanwhile, was discovered Sunday.
It is passing inside the moon's orbit as you read this.

···

News Headline: "Can a brain-twisting smartphone game help combat depression?"
Sure.
Well, unless you lose.
And lose again.
And keep losing. . . .

···

News Item: ". . . cleared the way for a state takeover of Detroit. . . declaration by the Republican governor virtually assures that the state of Michigan will assume control of Detroit's books. . . ."
No one should be surprised.
Haven't Republicans always stood for big government over local government?

···

News Headline: "Humans kill nearly 100 million sharks a year, say conservationists."
Ask any shark.
We humans are a ferocious species.

···

The Case for Zero Tolerance of Modern School Administrators:
+ A 7-year-old Baltimore boy who tried to bend a breakfast pastry so it would look like a mountain was suspended because the teacher thought it looked like a gun.
+ A 16-year-old boy who wrestled a gun from a student who was threatening another student was suspended for being involved in an "incident" that involved a gun.

···

Today's Birthdays: "Swan Lake," 136; "Happy Birthday to You," 89.

···

QT Grammar R Us Seminar on the English Language:
News Headline: "Zimbabwe to crack down on offshore cash hording."
News Headline: "Apple to spend $45B of cash horde on dividends, stock buy-back."
P.B., a Chicago reader, says this mistake is made by hoards of people.
It isn't "spitting image," by the way, but "spit and image."


QT appears Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. QT welcomes your comments. For more QT, visit the QT archives. QT is also on Facebook.

Posted by Zay N. Smith at 6:00 AM | Permalink

The Weekend In Chicago Rock

You shoulda been there.

1. Skull Fogger at Nitecap on Friday night.


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2. Ezurate at Live 59 in Plainfield on Saturday night.

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3. Inspector Owl at Quenchers on Friday night.

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4. Major Lazer at the Congress on Saturday night.

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5. Pentatonix at the Riv on Saturday night.

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6. The Gaslight Anthem at the Riv on Friday night.

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7. Orinoco at Live 59 in Plainfield on Saturday night.

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8. Los Crudos at Chitown Futbol on Saturday night.

-

Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 4:53 AM | Permalink

March 3, 2013

How Does The U.S. Mark Unidentified Men In Pakistan And Yemen As Drone Targets?

Last week, we wrote about a significant but often overlooked aspect of the drone wars in Pakistan and Yemen: so-called signature strikes, in which the U.S. kills people whose identities aren't confirmed.

While President Obama and administration officials have framed the drone program as targeting particular members of al-Qaeda, attacks against unknown militants reportedly may account for the majority of strikes.

The government apparently calls such attacks signature strikes because the targets are identified based on intelligence "signatures" that suggest involvement in terror plots or militant activity.

So what signatures does the U.S. look for and how much evidence is needed to justify a strike?

The Obama administration has never spoken publicly about signature strikes. Instead, generally anonymous officials have offered often vague examples of signatures. The resulting fragmentary picture leaves many questions unanswered.

In Pakistan, a signature might include:

Training camps

  • Convoys of vehicles that bear the characteristics of Qaeda or Taliban leaders on the run. - Senior American and Pakistani officials, New York Times, February 2008.
  • "Terrorist training camps." - U.S.Diplomatic Cable released by Wikileaks, October 2009.
  • Gatherings of militant groups or training complexes. - Current and former officials, Los Angeles Times, January 2010.
  • Bomb-making or fighters training for possible operations in Afghanistan; a compound where unknown individuals were seen assembling a car bomb. - Officials, Los Angeles Times, May 2010.
  • Travel in or out of a known al-Qaeda compound or possession of explosives. - U.S. officials, Washington Post, February 2011.
  • Operating a training camp; consorting with known militants. - High-level American official, The New Yorker, September 2011.

A group of guys;

  • Large groups of armed men. - Senior U.S. intelligence official, Associated Press, March 2012.
  • Groups of armed militants traveling by truck toward the war in Afghanistan. - Administration officials, Washington Post, April 2012.
  • The joke was that when the C.I.A. sees "three guys doing jumping jacks," the agency thinks it is a terrorist training camp. - Senior official, May 2012.
  • "The definition is a male between the ages of 20 and 40" - Former Ambassador to Pakistan Cameron Munter, Daily Beast, November 2012.
  • "Armed men who we see getting into pickup trucks and heading towards the Afghanistan border or who are in a training exercise." - Former Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair, Council on Foreign Relations, January 2013.

Officials have characterized the intelligence that goes into these strikes as thorough, based on "days" of drone surveillance and other sources, and said that apparently low-level people may still be key to an organization's functioning. In 2010, an official told the Los Angeles Times that the CIA makes sure "these are people whose actions over time have made it obvious that they are a threat."

In Yemen, signature strikes are reportedly bound by stricter rules. Officials have often cited the necessity of a plot against Americans:

  • Clear indication of the presence of an al-Qaeda leader or of plotting against targets in the United States or Americans overseas. - Administration officials, Washington Post, April 2012.
  • "Individuals who are personally involved in trying to kill Americans or intelligence that [for example] a truck has been configured in order to go after our embassy in Sanaa." - Senior administration official, Washington Post, January 2013

These strikes are not supposed to target "lower-level foot soldiers battling the Yemeni government," U.S. officials told the Wall Street Journal. A White House spokesman said last summer that the U.S. "[has] not and will not get involved in a broader counterinsurgency effort" in Yemen.

But experts say some strikes in Yemen do appear to have been aimed at local militants. In Pakistan, in addition to low-level militants who might be involved in the war in Afghanistan, the U.S. has sometimes hit those who posed a threat to the Pakistani government.

As we detailed, signature strikes have also been criticized by human rights groups and some legal observers because of the lack of transparency surrounding them, including on the number of civilians killed.

-

Previously:
* Drones Not Just For Threats Against America Anymore.

* Why Obama Says He Won't Release Drone Documents.

* Obama's Drone Death Figures Don't Add Up.

* Dissecting Obama's Standards On Drone Strike Deaths.

* The Best Watchdog Journalism On Obama's National Security Policies.

* Everything You Wanted To Know About Drones But Were Afraid To Ask.

* Obama Claims Right To Kill Anyone Anytime.

* The Drone War Doctrine We Still Know Nothing About.

-

Comments welcome.


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:11 AM | Permalink

March 2, 2013

The Weekend Desk Report

In honor of Dr. Seuss's 109th birthday, we proudly present a Weekend Desk current events tribute. Many thanks to Larry Peterson for editing assistance.

Uncle McFester's Magic Sequester
Uncle McFester is at it again,
Demanding we all meet his unctuous new friend
"Sequester" it's called, the name seems to slither
And cause our economy's new growth to wither -
Or possibly not, it depends who you ask
Since one man's closed loophole is another man's tax.

"It's not really so bad," you may well contend,
"And shouldn't we welcome our uncle's new friend?
We've been over his cliff and put stilts on his ceiling;
Why should his sequester be so unappealing?"
It won't be if you have plenty to eat,
And you're not GI Joe needing boots for your feet
And if you hire a taster to sample your food
And a teacher or trainer to tutor your brood.

In other words, if you're not hopelessly poor,
Hopelessly old, sick or fighting a war
(If I were putting a bet on this thrilling event,
I'd say your odds were about one percent).
Understanding the impact of the cuts would require
Uncle McFester's World's Best Multi-plier,
And since no one's ever deciphered this tool
We'll have to abide by Wall Street's golden rule:
If the fat that we trim wasn't making us fatter,
Then it, much like you, just doesn't matter.

Your next perfect question is, "Why are we here?
Didn't we deal with this only last year?"
"Not going to happen," the president chided.
Turns out at that time, the president lieded.
It's imperative that one sound brave and undaunted
Before any votes have been cast or counted.

And so both the parties pretended to barter
While hitting their talking points harder and harder
And making no plans for which programs to sink
Since both sides were hoping the other side blinked.
So focused were they on the bluffing and holding
They easily fluffed themselves right out of folding.

"Who is this Uncle McFester?" you query.
Why, he is the ominous, awful and dreary,
Fearsome and toothsome and stinky and wet
And odious specter of our sovereign debt -
Or was it our deficit? Who can recall?
Whatever it is it'll sure kill us all
With mountainous mountains of unrepaid loan,
My toddler owes more than the worth of her home
And chances are that she'll owe more tomorrow
Not that the banks would approve her to borrow.

Whoever this Uncle McFester may be
He scares the bejesus from the Party of Tea
Which in turn makes John Boehner's life such a clunker
He looks like a Dr. Seuss Grinch, only drunker.
So high are the anti-McFester defenses
The Republican Party took leave of its senses,
Rejecting the counsel of everyone near
Who warned the sequester's a real bad idea.
For what good is logic if what it reveals
Contradicts the world view that to you most appeals?
Those experts and pundits can be such a bother
Insisting it's fact that the world's getting hotter.

The good news is that it won't be very long
Before Uncle McFester is shuffled along
As Congress digs in for the next big debate,
Secure in the knowledge that they'll still be paid
Until the wheels of government wind down their pace
And, possibly, maybe, they're flung into space.

For you and for me, this is all academic
We can safely sleep through this stale old polemic
Sequester, Requester, our ship is still sinking
Because you and I live in the great Land of Lincoln.

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The Weekend Desk Tip Line: It's not a pester.

Posted by Natasha Julius at 3:30 AM | Permalink

March 1, 2013

The [Friday] Papers

Just a shorty today.

1. TL;DR.

So did the Sun-Times get it wrong or is Forrest Claypool full of shit?

2. Bradley Manning: The Face of Heroism.

"Manning also said he 'first approached three news outlets: the Washington Post, New York Times and Politico' before approaching WikiLeaks."

See also:
* The U.S. Press Failed Bradley Manning
* Bradley Manning's Statement, The Press And Whistleblowing

3. Point of Light.

"Though none of the schools in question fell in his ward, Ald. Scott Waguespack (32nd) said he just wanted to show his support, and noted the absence of a certain someone at the community engagement meetings," DNAinfo Chicago reports.

"The one person who should be here tonight is Rahm Emanuel. He should be at every one of these meetings listening to people," he said. "That's all I've got to say is 'Where are ya?'"

Answer: Busy doing important mayor stuff.

4. Kingpins.

"Two years after Chicago Public Schools kicked french fries and cheese-laden nachos off lunch menus in favor of fresh fruits and vegetables, many teachers still are trying to persuade students to give dishes like hummus and cucumber slices a try," the Tribune reports.

Maybe that's because Corporate America has worked so hard to turn them into addicts.

5. QT: A Matter Of Opinion.

Americans are evenly divided about unity.

6. The Week In Chicago Rock.

They played weird stuff at a venue near you.

7. The Chambers Report.

Tony La Russa & The Art Of The Cliché.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Heartlight.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:36 AM | Permalink

QT: A Matter Of Opinion


News Item: ". . . In the poll, 48 percent say Obama is pursuing a path to unify the country in a bipartisan way, while 43 percent say he's taking a partisan approach that doesn't unify the country. . . ."
So here is where we are at:
Americans are evenly divided about unity.

···

News Headline: "Scalia on Voting Rights Act: 'perpetuation of racial entitlement.'"
Makes a person think back to the Declaration of Independence and its unalienable entitlements.

···

News Headline: "Critics say Obama fear-mongering on sequester."
The critics are right.
We need to calm down.
Just think of this as kicking the IED down the road.

···

George Smith, a Glendale Heights reader, regarding another reader's mention that the mislabeling of fish in restaurants and grocery stores caused officials to schedule a herring and QT's asking everyone to please stop playing with fish names, writes:
"Anchovy begin our subjection to a long list of. . . ."
+ R.M., a Las Vegas reader, writes:
"This whole thing has a certain smelt to it."
+ Phil Halprin, a Schaumburg reader, writes:
"Don't be koi. Let your readers send in all their suggestions and put them in a roe."
This scampi happening.
If anyone out there can find a way to stop this, let minnow.

···

News Headline (2011): "Dog steps on gun, shoots Utah hunter in buttocks."
News Headline (2012): "Dog shoots man in French hunting accident."
News Headline (2013): "Dog shoots Florida man accidentally, police say."
Once again, and think carefully:
How well do you know your dog?
How well, really?

···

News Headline: "Do guns make us safer?"
News Headline: "Texas school worker shot during gun safety class."
Asked and answered.

···

The Not Me Decade, in Which Everybody Else Is Responsible for Everything, Continues:
An Idaho man injured when he was hit by a foul ball at a minor league baseball game is suing the stadium because he wasn't sufficiently warned that a fan attending a baseball game might be hit by a foul ball.

···

News Headline: "Pope Benedict XVI will have to give up red shoes, shoulder cape."
News Headline: "Pope Benedict ring to be destroyed on final day of term."
News Headline: "Vatican deletes Pope Benedict tweets."
C'mon. Leave him something.

···

News Headline: "Is Pope Benedict the Vatican's Nixon?"
No. Nixon got to keep his shoes.

···

From the QT Archive of Knowledge:
+ Dr. Seuss first intended his name to rhyme with "voice."
+ James Madison's last words were: "I always talk better lying down."

···

QT Grammar R Us Seminar on the English Language:
News Headline: "U.S. smartphone users most video-centric."
News Headline: "Threat-centric security: Before, during and after attack."
News Headline: "Owners of WMCS-AM drop African-American-centric format."
News Headline: "Best Justin Bieber-centric SNL episodes."
Let's think of Justin Bieber-centric as the breaking-point-centric moment.
A cohort isn't a person, by the way, but a group of persons.


QT appears Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. QT welcomes your comments. For more QT, visit the QT archives. QT is also on Facebook.

Posted by Zay N. Smith at 6:00 AM | Permalink

The Week In Chicago Rock

You shoulda been there.

1. Delta Rae at Lincoln Hall on Sunday night.


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2. Bosnian Rainbows at Reggie's on Tuesday night.

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3. Brain Candy at the Ultra Lounge on Wednesday night.

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4. Colorful Rhythm at Elbo Room on Wednesday night.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 5:59 AM | Permalink

The Chambers Report: Tony La Russa & The Art Of The Cliché

Near the end of Bull Durham, the greatest sports movie ever made, career minor-league catcher Crash Davis (played convincingly by Kevin Costner) famously offers immature superstar-in-the-making pitcher Ebby Calvin "Nuke" LaLoosh (played convincingly by Tim Robbins) essential advice about handling media interviews:


As the movie closes, Crash is heading for a manager's job, where he will develop other budding stars such as Nuke, spouting banal conundrums all the way. In this way, Davis is the very archetype of recently retired St. Louis Cardinal manager Tony La Russa, whose singular career leading the White Sox, Athletics and Cards for over three decades is carrying him straight to the Hall of Fame on a rutted road paved with clichés.*

Like Crash Davis, La Russa was a mediocre ballplayer, managing just a .199 batting average in 176 major-league at-bats over seven years, but he was also, like Crash Davis, a sharp observer of the game. We don't know what became of Crash, but La Russa parlayed his smarts into one of the game's greatest managerial careers. Only Connie Mack and John McGraw won more games than La Russa, and he would easily have surpassed the latter had he not unexpectedly resigned immediately after the Cardinals captured the 2011 World Series in one of the most remarkable comeback seasons by any team in baseball history.**

Attempting to capitalize on this historic achievement, La Russa soon - too soon - rushed into print with a book (co-authored by St. Louis Post-Dispatch sports reporter Rick Hummel) intended to recreate the drama of the Cardinals' miracle. Unfortunately, One Last Strike: Fifty Years In Baseball, Ten And A Half Games Back, And One Final Championship Season is a monument to the cliché, - a wooden, professorish essay that has the reader nodding on every one of its slow-moving 400 pages. The volume's horrendous subtitle is itself a warning of what is to come.

Now, it's patently unreasonable to expect a baseball manager - or a player, for that matter, with the notable exception, perhaps, of Jim Bouton, the former Yankee pitcher whose celebrated Ball Four was named the best sports book of the 20th century by the New York Public Library - to write like John Grisham, who provides LaRussa with an adoring foreword***. La Russa is obviously a very bright guy - one of only five major league managers to earn a law degree**** - but his is the intelligence of the monotone plodder who patiently scrutinized, by his own count, 750,000 regular-season pitches over 30 years.

Still, despite his own nearly lethal prosaic dullness, La Russa has been the darling of acute literary observers of the game for decades.

In 1991, George Will, a longtime Baltimore Orioles season-ticket holder who grew up in Champaign and sided with the Cubs over the Cards, published Men At Work: The Craft Of Baseball, an exceptional study of just what it takes to flourish in the major leagues. His opening chapter, "The Manager, On the Edge," is a remarkable dissection of La Russa's laborious genius at an early point in his career.

Twenty-five years later, Buzz Bissinger, author of Friday Night Lights - one of the best sports books ever written; it is to the printed page what Bull Durham is to the cinema screen - penned Three Nights In August: Strategy, Heartbreak, And Joy Inside The Mind Of A Manager, a stunning analysis, written in part with La Russa, of a three-game series in August 2003 between the Cardinals and the Cubs.

Any of these authors could have written about the manager's noble final season with far more acuity and drama than LaRussa himself could ever hope to do. Yet, even so, it is entirely appropriate that the manager tell his own story - and in his own leaden prose. As Crash says to Nuke, "Yes, it's boring . . . that's the point."

In the end, it's more honest that La Russa, in his stolid way, instruct us about his game, than to have a Pulitzer Prize-winning author (both Will and Bissinger) or a wham-bam mystery writer (Grisham) dazzle us about it poetically, no matter how much more entertaining that might be. Yet, best of all may be, in the end, to sample what each of these writers, La Russa included, has to say.

In Men At Work, Will fills us in on essential details about La Russa's life that the manager hardly nods at in One Last Strike.

Will tells us, for example, how important it was to Tony's career that he was born and raised in Tampa, Florida - "What the Chesapeake Bay is to crabs," says Will, "Tampa is to baseball talent: a rich breeding ground, known for both quantity and quality."

We learn here, too, that Tony, like his Tampa-born friend Lou Piniella, spoke Spanish before he spoke English, an invaluable tool in a sport increasingly dominated by Hispanics, and that a fluke accident in a pick-up softball game tore a tendon that never properly healed, giving La Russa a sore arm his entire 16-year playing career and eventually convincing him that he would never make a successful major league player, thereby leading indirectly to his soaring fungo-like rise as a manager.

The White Sox and Bill Veeck hired La Russa to lead the flailing team in the midst of the 1979 season when he was 34. Seven years later, in 1986, the Sox fired him, an experience that he says "toughened me up pretty well." Oakland hired La Russa only a month after his Chicago departure, when they were 21 games below .500 at the All-Star break. La Russa had the A's in the World Series two years later.

(Once when A's muscle-man Jose Canseco was a rookie and did not hustle on a play, he returned to the dugout to find his manager furious. La Russa told him, "Do that again, I'll break your ass!" As the admiring Will tells it, "He certainly is tough enough now.")

Already the spectacularly successful - if bland - La Russa "mantra" was well-developed: "Play hard, win, make money and have fun."

Problems start, he would say, "when the third and fourth take precedence over the first and second." In that context, it's the manager's responsibility to set the proper tone and example; what he does most is "purposeful watching." According to Will, though La Russa constantly "looks like an angry man, he is not. He is, however, serious - about everything." With his dark hair and features, "his watchfulness has an aspect of brooding."

Will shows us that La Russa talked the way he managed and the way he wanted his team to play, "controlled but intense." That's also the way that La Russa writes. His "is a style of constantly maintained edginess." It is a style perfectly suited to the reign of the cliché.

As for Bissinger, his Three Nights In August, one of the most incisive baseball books ever written, has the twin advantages of a Pulitzer author and the best of all modern managers. Bissinger is a true sports fanatic who brings heart as well as immense talent to his subject. He loves La Russa for being an old-school guy who managed not by computer and stats so much as by "feel" and his copious notes. Over the long haul these obviously worked for him.

Bissinger's book takes the jewel of the sport - the three-game series between contenders late in the season - and shows just how much baseball is an intellectual game, at least from the manager's perspective. Ever the lawyer and thinker, La Russa may never have had much fun in his dugout retreat, but he was always thinking. This is why he always fascinated Bissinger - as well as Will, Grisham, and others - who reveals in his book just how much smarts and analysis matter in a sport where millions of dollars are always on the line. He shows that baseball - despite the steroid era and stats craze - will always be baseball, a game people love precisely because it is so human.

While Bissinger generously gives La Russa co-authorship credit, it's clearly Buzz's book. La Russa is not capable of writing indelibly like this, say, about the unflappable Dave Duncan, his lifelong friend and the best pitching coach of all-time: "Dave Duncan is the kind of man who in the storm at sea would simply lash himself to the mast; he'd wait out the hurricane by reading the paper, hold the putter steady in the tornado."

Instead, in One Last Strike, La Russa throughout writes like an automaton: "You go into every game with a plan for how you want to attack a team offensively and defensively. Obviously, sometimes that plan works out and sometimes it doesn't. Any time you put two individuals or clubs together in a competitive environment, you can't predict what will happen with any great accuracy. That is why, as the expression goes, you play the games."

Or this: "It's true that I didn't smile a lot in games. I wanted to maintain a competitive demeanor. I wanted to maintain the same exterior whether things were going good or going bad. One reason for that is I wanted to set an example for our players and also to be a constant they could rely on."

It's not that prose such as this is entirely reprehensible. It's just that it's tedious, banal, boring. And it only gets more so as the pages pile up, everywhere dragging the hapless reader nearer slumberland: "Pujols passed the test with flying colors." "The goal of each series is to win it." "They just kept lacing up their shoes, going out there, and playing the best ball they could." "Our hearts went up into our throats." "Sooner or later, all things come to an end." "We can only play one game at a time." Etc., etc., etc. As Kurt Vonnegut would say, "So it goes."

While La Russa has a great topic to write about - how the Cardinals, against all odds, came from 10 1/2 games behind to make the playoffs on the night of the final game of the season and went on to win the World Series - he does not have the tools to write about it with passion, intensity, and beauty. It just isn't in him.

La Russa was for three decades a baseball manager, after all, a driven observer of, and leader in, an often tedious stretched-out sport notorious for having no time limits, for having endless seasons lasting from mid-February "spring" training to almost November - and for swimming through it all in an oceanic torrent of platitudes.

As La Russa himself notes: "Athletes are often criticized . . . for relying so heavily on clichés to talk about the games they play. To some extent that is true. We do get asked a lot of questions, and sometimes, whether because we've been asked the same one so many times, because they speak the truth, or because we are speaking guardedly to protect ourselves, a teammate, or our club, we resort to the tried-and-true - just like this one."

Thus it is clear that La Russa knows what a cliché is, knows that, at bottom, it is clichés that best represent the inevitable tedium of his sport, and therefore realizes fully that, as with all his colleagues, it is his fate to think, speak, and write in an endless sea of predictable language. At the end of a season which was the culmination of a lifetime spent studying the game, he stood for baseball more purely than any other modern practitioner of the sport.

La Russa became a great manager "by believing in process over result, present moment over statistics, team unity over individual talent." When he stepped down, he had three World Series victories in two leagues, six league championships, five Manager of the Year awards, and was third all-time in major league wins. Clichés and all, he's the best there is, and we love him for it.

Let's give this somewhat boring baseball prophet the fitting last word: "As much as all of them (his players, coaches, and other staffers over the years) contributed, I knew from the earliest days of my career that I was the one who had to make the decisions - all of them and all of the time. That's what I was paid to do, and if my ass and my job were going to be on the line based on those decisions, then I wasn't going to turn them over to anyone else. That's just the reality of being a manager in the Big Leagues."

Could John Grisham - or Crash Davis, for that matter - say it better?

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*As a 65-year-old former manager, La Russa immediately upon retirement became eligible for election to Cooperstown within six months; his election will probably take place this year with his induction to follow in 2014.

**La Russa was second all-time in post-season major league wins (70), third all-time with 2,728 regular season wins, second with 5,097 games managed, and second with 33 years managing (tied with McGraw). La Russa was also the first manager to retire at the end of the same season in which he had won a World Series. In the summer after retiring he came back to manage the National League team to an 8-0 victory in the 2012 All-Star game.

***La Russa long urged Grisham to pen a baseball novel, and he finally did so last year.

****The other four were Branch Rickey, Miller Huggins, Hughie Jennings and Monte Ward, all of them in the Hall of Fame.

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Comments welcome.

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Previously in The Chambers Report:

* Steve Jobs vs. Jack Kennedy

* The Last Boy Of Summer

* Melville, Elvis And Baseball

* A Tale Of Three Cities

* How Obama And Bush Undermined America

* Ayes For Atheism

* Paterno.

* Some Guys Have All The Luck

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