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« April 2013 | Main | June 2013 »

May 31, 2013

The [Friday] Papers

"For the past week - ever since the school board took its final vote to close 50 Chicago schools -the district has been trying to get parents from closing schools to say where they'll send their children next year," Linda Lutton reports for WBEZ.

"But getting parents to register for new schools has been a tough sell in many corners of the city."

This is a problem. Click through to hear/read her report.

Pedestrian Scramble
It always looks innovative until someone gets hurt.

Rutherford To Make Fake Announcement
Announcing something that's already real isn't news. Why play along and give him the publicity?

*

The Beachwood's political oddsmakers have had Rutherford on the board for a long time; they give him a 35 percent chance of becoming governor.

Photo Boot
The news that the Sun-Times laid off its photography staff even made the Shanghai Daily - though it didn't make the Sun-Times.

Chicago Is Unemployed
"[F]or the third straight month, Chicago has beaten out Los Angeles for the highest unemployment among the top-10 metro areas in population," Crain's reports.

Quinn International
"After 40 years of double dealing, backstabbing, bickering, inertia and gross negligence, it looks like a south suburban airport might actually get built," Phil Kadner reports for the SouthtownStar.

"Gov. Pat Quinn apparently has brokered a deal that would allow the Illinois Department of Transportation to become the development authority for the planned airport near Peotone."

Maybe it's first incoming flight will be Jesse Jackson Jr. arriving back home from prison.

Man Gets 23 Years In Wrigleyville Bomb Plot
So he'll get out just in time for Theo's plan to kick in.

The Week in Chicago Rock
Rival Sons vs. Rolling Stones.

Hollywood Plants Flag
Both for us and against us.

Son Of A Bookie Man
Became a governor.

Films In The Forest!
Thematically aligned.

-

The Beachwood Tip Line: Make book.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:59 AM | Permalink

Local Book Notes: Son Of A Chicago Bookie vs. Kraftwerk

1. Make CAKE.

"The Chicago Alternative Comics Expo (CAKE), a weekend-long celebration of independent comics, returns to Chicago Saturday, June 15 through Sunday, June 16, 2013 from 11 a.m. - 6 p.m. with over 200 local, national and international exhibitors at Center on Halsted (3656 N. Halsted).

"Free and open to the public, the CAKE Expo will feature original artwork for purchase, workshops, exhibitions, panel discussions and special guests.

"Organizers Neil Brideau, Edie Fake, Max Morris, Grace Tran and Jeff Zwirek created CAKE to celebrate the diverse community of underground and alternative comics. The expo debuted last year as the first alternative comics expo in Chicago in 16 years. This year, over 20% of the exhibitors are local Chicagoland-area artists.

"Special guests include Chris Ware (Chicago), Deb Sokolow (Chicago), Kim Deitch (New York), Phoebe Gloeckner (Ann Arbor), Oily Comics (Hancock, MA), Jason Shiga (Oakland), Michael Deforge (Toronto), and Collective Stench (NY-area).

"Comics, prints and artwork will be available for purchase, including debut works from 200+ local, national and international cartoonists as well as independent publishers such as Alternative Comics, Drawn & Quarterly (Quebec), Fantagraphics Books (Seattle), Hic & Hoc Publications (New Jersey), Koyama Press (Toronto), Northwest Press (Seattle), Picturebox (Brooklyn), Secret Acres (Brooklyn), Sparkplug Comic Books (Portland), Uncivilized Books (Minneapolis), and Chicago-based Yeti Press.

"CAKE is an independent, not-for-profit, volunteer-run organization and would not be possible without the help of generous donations from supporters and sponsors including Brain Frame, Busy Beaver Button Company, Center on Halsted, Propeller Fund, Quimby's Bookstore, Spundik Press Cooperative and Wormhole Coffee."

-

2. Jim DeRogatis On The New Kraftwerk Book.

-

3. Son Of A Chicago Bookie.

Former Nevada Governor Bob Miller will be in Chicago on June 5 & 6 to talk about growing up the son of a Chicago bookmaker.

"In the quarter century that Bill Clinton has known former Nevada Governor Bob Miller, the former president has watched Miller earn the respect of his constituents while also having a front row seat to the remarkable changes that have transformed Las Vegas and the gambling industry in recent years," Newman PR says.

"But while Bob has no shortage of stories about that rough-and-tumble era of casinos," says Clinton, "he chose a career in law enforcement, which ultimately led into politics."

"Son of a Gambling Man: My Journey from a Casino Family to the Governor's Mansion (St. Martin's Press; 2013) is Miller's account of growing up with a father involved in illegal bookmaking and the strained relationship the two often had. It is also the story of one man's personal involvement in the turnaround of an industry and the politics that come with it.

"Steve Forbes calls Son of a Gambling Man a 'fascinating, larger-than-life story populated with eye-opening, colorful characters.'

"Bob Miller is Nevada's longest serving governor, holding office from 1989 to 1999. His son, Ross, who is named after his grandfather, is presently in his second term as Nevada's secretary of state."

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4. Book Worm.

"To the delight of the students at a Woodridge elementary school, their principal ate a worm today to fulfill a promise," CBS2 Chicago reports.

"The promise was this: If students at Goodrich School read a certain number of books, the principal would eat a worm."

Just one? Boy, standards really have fallen.

-

5. Worm Board.

"Last month, the parents of an eighth-grader at Hadley Junior High School in Glen Ellyn School District 41 complained about the content in Perks of Being a Wallflower," CBS2 reports. "The book includes topics such as sexuality, drugs and suicide.

"The school board voted 4-2 in favor of removing the book from the school but an online petition has received more than 600 votes asking the board to reconsider the ban.

"Superintendent Ann Riebock says the board decided to give the book another look.

"The board wanted to talk about this further. One of the recommendations is aimed at independent reading selections."

"The revised plan also focuses on getting parents involved in what their child is reading."

Whatever.

*

How ironic that school boards never learn their lesson. I bet that book is now the most popular in the district.

-

6. Don Share Named Editor of Poetry Magazine.

"The Poetry Foundation is pleased to announce Don Share as the next editor of Poetry magazine. Share will begin his tenure July 1, 2013, as the magazine's 12th editor in its 101-year history, following the departure of his longtime colleague, outgoing editor Christian Wiman.

"Currently senior editor of the magazine, Share, 56, brings 25 years of experience in poetry and publishing, including editorial posts at the Partisan Review, Harvard Review, and Literary Imagination: The Review of the Association of Literary Scholars and Critics. He served as the curator of poetry at Harvard University for seven years until 2007, when he joined Poetry magazine. During Share's six-year tenure at Poetry working with Wiman, both the magazine and the magazine's podcast have received National Magazine Awards.

"Share plans to continue the illustrious heritage of Poetry while bringing new energy and initiatives to the magazine, including reaching more young readers and strengthening the conversation between the magazine and its audience, specifically through enhanced digital channels."

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:55 AM | Permalink

Local TV Notes: Hollywood Plants Its Flag

1. This Guitar Kills Time.

"Chicago musician Ralph Covert is into puppets," Chloe Riley writes for DNAinfo Chicago. "Especially ones down with time travel.

"You find yourself talking to the puppets. I'm putting my arms around them and I'm like, 'They are my friends,'" said the Grammy-nominated musician.

"Covert, the leader of the kids-music group Ralph's World, recently shot a TV pilot with some animal puppets for what he hopes will become his first television series, Time Machine Guitar, in which he travels back in time, meets historical figures and rocks his socks off. He calls it a 'rock 'n' roll Mister Roger's Neighborhood.'

"And if PBS picks up the pilot - which aired last weekend on WTTW Channel 11 - the show could begin shooting as early as fall."

Click through for the rest of the story and a couple of videos.

-

2. How Gay Chicago TV Was Born.

-

3. Blackhawks Rout Dateline.

"No other show on Chicago television came even remotely close to matching the 21.0 rating the Hawks [Game 7] notched on the NBC Sports Channel as the game went into overtime," Lewis Lazare reports for the Chicago Business Journal. "One rating point equals 35,000 households in the Chicago market.

"The 21 rating at the end of the game was almost double the still-impressive 11.6 rating the hockey game had as it began soon after 7 pm. And the rating steadily grew throughout the game telecast.

"In the Chicago market the closest any other show on network television would come to the Blackhawks numbers Wednesday night was a 5.2 rating scored halfway through an edition of Dateline on sister NBC-owned WMAQ-Channel 5."

-

4. From TV.com:

SEASON 3 FINALE 8:30pm, CBS Mike & Molly Postponed from its original airdate due to its subject matter, "Windy City" features an approaching tornado which hampers Mike and Molly's attempts to break crucial news to one another. Meanwhile, Mike and Carl are assigned to RenFaire duty after Mike's mom spurns his boss, and there ain't enough flagons of mead in all Ye Olde Illinoise to take the sting off that assignment.

Because now that Oklahomans have buried their dead, it's okay to laugh about tornadoes again.

*

Oops!

-

5. Chicagowood.

"With five high-profile network TV shows set for filming here, alongside three mega-budget features, so far, 2013 should be the state's highest grossing year ever - an estimated $225 million - in its nearly 40 years of hosting Hollywood entertainment projects," Reel Chicago reports.

In fact, Hollywood likes doing business here so much it's even installed its own mayor.

-

6. House Passes Amended State Cable Bill.

"The Illinois House this week approved an extension of the Cable and Video Competition Act (the Illinois Cable Act) that represents a mixed outcome for the public," Keep Us Connected reports.

"The good news is that the state rejected an attempt by the Cable Television and Communications Association of Illinois (CT&C) to obtain sweeping changes to the law that would have impaired municipal authority and wreaked havoc on the state's public, educational and government (PEG) access channels.

"The state acted swiftly to put the brakes on the CT&C's harmful proposal," said CAN TV Executive Director Barbara Popovic. "That prevented the loss of local channels that today provide thousands of hours of programming statewide on education, arts, economic development, public safety and civic engagement."

"The bad news is the failure of enforcement or legislation to rectify AT&T's failure to meet the equivalency standard in the law for the public's channels.

"We need the Attorney General to enforce the state's PEG access provisions," said Illinois NATOA President Howard Kleinstein. "Should enforcement fail to correct AT&T's segregation and inferior treatment of PEG channels, a legislative solution in 2015 will be imperative."

"Other amendments in the law delete certain build-out requirements and consumer protections. For many Illinois residents, that means cable competition will remain a hit or miss proposition.

"The Illinois Cable Act was first signed into law in 2007 and will now be extended to July of 2015. Senate approval is expected prior to the end of session on Friday, May 31."

Disclosure: Barbara Popovic is a friend and landlord of Beachwood publisher and editor Steve Rhodes.

-

Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:22 AM | Permalink

The Week In Chicago Rock

You shoulda been there.

1. Rival Sons at Reggies on Thursday night.


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2. Tigers Jaw at Beat Kitchen on Tuesday night.

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3. The Rolling Stones at the big hockey arena on Tuesday night.

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4. Todd Kessler at Lincoln Hall on Wednesday night.

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5. Lee Ranaldo and Marc Ribot at Millennium Park on Monday night.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:22 AM | Permalink

Films In The Forest!

Links and video added by the Beachwood.

Join us for free movie nights! We'll be screening nature-themed feature films and offering family-friendly activities that correlate to the movie. Pack a picnic dinner and enjoy an evening of fun, entertainment and relaxation at our scenic natural preserves. 6:30 p.m. - Family Activities, Dusk - Movie

Thursday, June 20: My Side of the Mountain
Cummings Square, 536 N. Harlem, River Forest.


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Thursday, July 11: Wallace and Gromit Movie: Curse of the Were-Rabbit
Whealan Pool, 6200 W. Devon, Chicago

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Thursday, July 25: The Ant Bully
Green Lake Aquatic Center, 1100 River Oaks Drive, Calumet City

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Thursday, August 1: Dr. Seuss' The Lorax
Cermak Aquatic Center, 7600 W. Ogden Avenue, Lyons

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Thursday, August 8: Daddy Day Camp
Kickapoo Woods, 144th and Halsted, Riverdale

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Thursday, August 15: Despicable Me
Cummings Square, 536 N. Harlem, River Forest

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:44 AM | Permalink

May 30, 2013

The [Thursday] Papers

I'll be on WBEZ today sometime between 2 and 2:30 talking about the wankfest that is Time magazine's cover story on Rahm.

Now that that's over . . . some post-show commentary!

*

*

*

This was my initial response to WBEZ's query, after reading an embargoed version of the story:

"Hey, I'd really love to take on this tool but I'm not feeling well today, haven't written a column, brain is foggy. But I would just remind him that it was Jay Carney, now Obama spox, who once, among others, wrote so lovingly about Daley . . . now Daley didn't make the tough choices and Rahm has to rescue the city? Just nonsense. Also, Rahm hasn't mellowed a bit. When I reported my city council story for Chicago magazine, I heard story after story about him terrorizing people, literally grabbing them and getting within inches of their faces and shouting fuck this and fuck that. And as far as a wonk goes, the piece I did for Crain's merely sampled his pattern of making 'facts' up that are easily debunked, from speed camera and red camera stats to the myraid of falsehoods told about the schools . . . he's also violated his own pledges of transparency and TIF reform, and continues to dole out big bucks to his corporate pals while closing mental health clinics, social services and schools in poor neighborhoods. What a guy. He probably sought this story as part of his post-school closing image rehab and Time complied. Just a total wank."


*

Then, after deciding I would do the show because it just got my blood boiling and kind of woke me out of my coma, I added some notes and went into battle with this:

"it was Jay Carney, now Obama spox, who once, among others, wrote so lovingly about Daley . . . from the clips: Mr. Clean: Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley will not be displeased with a 15-minute profile to air on CNN at 7 p.m. Sunday and 7 p.m. Monday. Done by Time reporter Jay Carney, the piece is mostly a paean to a man they call a "bricks-and-mortar" mayor who 'oversees the city like Mayberry.' 1999

"wonk vs. hack: HE WAS A CONGRESSMAN!

"never said he wanted to be mayor.

"why are people mad? making him heroic for that, like he's so tough being unpopular.

"now Daley didn't make the tough choices and Rahm has to rescue the city? Just nonsense.

"Also, Rahm hasn't mellowed a bit. When I reported my city council story for Chicago magazine, I heard story after story about him terrorizing people, literally grabbing them and getting within inches of their faces and shouting fuck this and fuck that.

"And as far as a wonk goes, the piece I did for Crain's merely sampled his pattern of making "facts" up that are easily debunked, from speed camera and red camera stats to the myraid of falsehoods told about the schools . . .

"he's also violated his own pledges of transparency and TIF reform, and continues to dole out big bucks to his corporate pals while closing mental health clinics, social services and schools in poor neighborhoods. What a guy. He probably sought this story as part of his post-school closing image rehab and Time complied. Just a total wank.

"caught falsely saying CTA cuts wouldn't hurt poor more ... parking meter lease nonsense.

"charter performance, class size, utilization rates, how many fewer CPS kids in last 10 years

"also stiffs local reporters, who would know what questions to ask, which is classic.

"OUT OF TOWN STUPID, as the guys on The Score say. But purposely so. That's the narrative.

"when i tried to get a Rahm interview for Chicago magazine, his deputy Tom Alexander asked, Is it a cover story?"

*

You never get to say what you want on TV and radio. There's just not enough time, and you're not controlling the conversation. That's why I need my own show. Including musical guests.

*

I'll add that I highly doubt Rahm didn't want to be on the cover of Time.

And as for the last comment that closing 50 schools in one fell swoop is hardly the status quo, well, I said he's following Daley's same policies only more dramatically. Daley would simply take five years to close 50 schools.

(And as long as Von Drehle mentioned Duncan, is that to say, then, that Rahm, as chief of staff, thought that Obama had named as secretary education someone who had failed Chicago's children?)

-

Elsewhere:

* Goodbye Wings, Hello Kings.

* Chicagoetry: Elegy for a Sign Painter.

-

The Beachwood Tip Line: Non-wankable.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 1:32 PM | Permalink

Chicagoetry: Elegy For A Sign Painter

Elegy for a Sign Painter

Loss: I think we
may have lost

our last brick wall
sign painter. I admire

the hell
out of this guy.

We venerate
recovered hand-painted antique adverts

originally painted in oils
(I believe - acrylics?),

ads for laundry soap,
ladies hats

and exterminators,
but I fear

we've lost the last
contemporary artist

in this idiom.
My own small productions

are so much more ethereal
and light, less tactile,

less solid, less boldly
colorful

and I envy
the skills

to bring a cold, glistening
bottle of Stella Artois

to luscious life
a hundred feet tall

on a brick and mortar
factory tower.

Thick, dense, vibrant -
hey: vibrating! -

color, a mastery
of scale.

Between Kostner
and Cicero, along the Ike,

stands the last great canvas
I know of,

which I pass regularly
on the Blue Line,

and which I anticipate
with relish

(particularly on the way HOME
from work)

especially as the adverts
change.

It's something about
the ability to systematically

and reliably
conjure something huge,

hard and tactile,
pure but convincing

illusion, that excites
my envy and admiration.

Thick, bright primary
colors, impervious

to climate
or even graffiti,

a thunderhead
of unadulterated

commerce. Dude's
got skills,

working perhaps
a square foot a day,

the way Warrenville native
Ivan Albright worked

a square inch a day,
spending two years

on a single canvas
for one haunting grotesque,

many of which are now stashed
in the vaults

of the Art Institute.
Last week

it appeared to me
that the new images

on the tower,
just west

of Garden City Laundry,
were pre-fabricated,

like any old
billboard

or cereal box.
Somehow,

it really
bummed me out.

Some genius
is out of a job

again, the mind
and hands of a true artist,

a fine muralist,
taking to the keyboard

to apply for unemployment
benefits online,

wiping off
the kitchen counter,

emptying
the litter box,

taking out
the garbage,

starting in
on the beer

a little earlier
each day,

wondering
if his wife

is really
at yoga.

-

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

-

More Tindall:

* Chicagoetry: The Book

* Ready To Rock: The Music

* Kindled Tindall: The Novel

* The Viral Video: The Match Game Dance

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 11:02 AM | Permalink

Goodbye Wings, Hello Kings

Let us review/preview.

1. The game-winner.


-

2. Travelers at Midway missed it.

-

3. The pretty goal. Watch the passing.

-

4. The disallowed goal. It's not that it wasn't a penalty, it's that it should have been a delayed penalty with the Hawks on the attack or at the least a Hawks power play because Saad didn't merit a coincidental call.

*

Or, as Pat Iversen wrote for SBNation: "So, to summarize: the Detroit Red Wings temporarily avoided elimination because their defenseman took a penalty. Wrap your mind around that."

-

5. Hawks-Kings Series Preview.

6. Vegas Insider Odds To Win The Cup.

7. Betting lines not yet set.

8. Hockey's Kings Are Center Of A Los Angeles Counterculture.

"Kings fans tend to come largely from far-flung suburban communities like Thousand Oaks and Simi Valley and spend lots of time on the Internet (team research shows they spend more time on the team's official Web site than any other fan base in the NHL except Vancouver's). The fans seem to prefer the cheap seats to the expensive ones on the floor, which sometimes go empty. They also trend toward the dark: recent topics on a Kings fan forum range from Russian metal bands and horror films to fantasy video games."

True, that was from 2010, but still. And in last year's run-up to their Cup win, the Kings' Twitter feed gained notoriety for its wit and candor.

(Hence, from its description box: "Just a quick note, we apologize for any future tweets that may offend you.")

(A lot of that wit was directed at the pattern of goofs by mainstream media who didn't seem to know that a hockey team was in town, that a hockey team in town was good, that a hockey team in town was contending for the Stanley Cup. or what hockey actually was.)

9. Last word on the Red Wings from the Lifetime movie script doctor Mitch Albom:

In the closing moments of "Rocky," the gutsy fighter and his slick rival clench together at the bell, their epic battle now complete.

"Ain't gonna be no rematch," one gasps.

"Don't want one," gasps the other.

This fight is over. The Blackhawks win Game 7, in overtime, in gut-wrenching fashion, final score, 2-1, on a goal by Brent Seabrook that just grazed Niklas Kronwall's shin and flew past Jimmy Howard.

Ain't gonna read no further.

10. First word on the Kings from Reuters' Jahmal Corner:

The Los Angeles Kings are taking a much more tension-filled route toward the Stanley Cup finals this year than the squad that came out of nowhere in 2012 to steamroll their way to a maiden championship.

The Kings survived Tuesday's do-or-die Game Seven by holding off the visiting San Jose Sharks in a 2-1 nail-biter that put Los Angeles back in the Western Conference finals for a second consecutive year.

It was the kind of challenge the Kings never faced during their remarkable 2012 playoff run when they practically breezed to the Cup title as an eighth seed that grabbed a 3-0 lead in each best-of-seven series and went 16-4 in the postseason.

The Kings never faced an elimination game during last year's remarkable run, yet this year's squad seems to be enjoying their current march just as much even though they fell behind early in the opening round before being pushed to the limit by San Jose in the second round.

Blackhawks in seven.

-

Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:29 AM | Permalink

May 29, 2013

The [Wednesday] Papers

Another day, another false claim by CPS and Rahm Emanuel.

"Chicago Public Schools administrators are backtracking after making some misleading claims about the school district's graduation rate," ABC7 Chicago reports.

Well, that's progress. Backtracking is better is than the typical CPS strategy of repeating a lie enough times that it becomes the de facto truth.

"According to CPS figures, students are on track to set the highest high school graduation rate since 1999, but initially, CPS and the mayor said this year's expected graduation rate was its highest ever.

"One for the record books. Sixty-three percent of our children will graduate high school which is a new record for the city," said Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

"That claim is not entirely true."

Or even partially true. It's just plain false.

"Fourteen years ago, the school system began a new, more detailed way of measuring high school graduation rates."

A way that no doubt "improved" the data without changing reality.

"So this year can only be proclaimed a record since 1999."

If that.

"Also misleading: CPS's 63 percent graduation statistic includes students who take five years to receive their diploma rather than the traditional four years."

*

"After what has been a turbulent year for the nation's third-largest public school system, CPS officials sought to put the best spin possible on the 63 percent projection, hailing it in a news release as the 'highest' rate ever for CPS," the Tribune reports.

That's being charitable; it's hardly "spin" to out-and-out lie - especially given the track records of both CPS and Rahm Emanuel.

"It's actually the highest rate since 1999, when the district began using its present method for tracking the number of graduates. Comparatively, the national average for high school graduation is 78.2 percent, according to records from the 2009-10 school year, which are the most recent figures available."

Still, CPS and Rahm got their headlines.

For example, the Huffington Post, citing AP, reported that CPS Graduation Rate Hits Record High: Chicago District's High School Graduation Rate Surges, which is wrong on two counts. Not only is the rate not a record, but its hardly surged. This year's figure is a two percentage point increase and part of a trend that began long before Rahm began taking credit for it.

DNAinfo Chicago reported that CPS Expects Highest Graduation Rate Ever, which is just flat-out wrong.

Curiously, the site also reports that "A decade ago, the graduation rate was 44 percent, according to CPS," while the Huffington Post piece claimed that the rate itself had increased by 44 percent over the last decade, which is highly unlikely.

The AP story that goes out worldwide also repeated the false claim:

"The head of Chicago Public Schools says the district's high school graduation rate is on track to be 63 percent this school year.

"CPS CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett and Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced the figure this morning. They say Chicago high school seniors could set the highest-ever graduation rate."

The WGN-TV report - CPS Graduation Rates Expected To Hit Record High - says this year's figure is an "almost 20 percent increase" from a decade ago, not the 44 percent reported elsewhere.

CBS2 Chicago concurred, reporting that "The 2013 graduation rate marks a 19 percentage point rise from 10 years ago."

Also, it should be noted that these figures are a projection; the final figures could obviously differ.

Why make the projection now? Because Barbara Byrd-Bennett and Rahm are on their PR victory march. Consider the official CPS announcement:

"Chicago Public Schools (CPS) CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett and Mayor Rahm Emanuel today announced that CPS students are on track to set the highest high school graduation rate ever, with 63 percent of seniors projected to graduate in school year 2012-2013. CEO Byrd-Bennett will formally announce this projected record rate at today's City Club of Chicago's Public Policy Luncheon."

The City Club is essentially their base. Finding some good news to announce is part of the playbook.

Not that the rest of the city is forgotten. The Defender also went with Chicago High School Graduation Rate Hits Record High. Probably next to an article about free Sunday parking for churchgoers.

Eulogy For 50 Schools
and i wondered if my old school was sad. if the classroom where Ms. Johnson read us books and showed us letters, was sad.
i wondered if my school didn't understand. didn't understand where everyone went.
i wondered if Lester was still there, with his mop and that big bucket when the bell rang.
i liked Lester. he always said hello to me. every single day.

What The Bookies Are Saying About Tonight's Game 7
Hawks the prohibitive favorite, but a good bet?

Jazz, Journalism, Hips & Calypso
Black iconic poets soon to be celebrated in Chicago.

Funky Drummer & Lighted Stickholders
At the Chicago Drum Show.

Ranch Dressing Soda Is A Thing
Plus: McDonald's, Dairy Queen pretend they aren't fast food. In The Random Food Report.

-

The Beachwood Tip Line: Braziered for your enjoyment.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:43 AM | Permalink

What The Bookies Are Saying About Tonight's Game 7

1. Tony's Picks.

"The game seven odds from this Western Conference semifinal playoff series have the home club Chicago Blackhawks the -210 odds betting favorite with the take back on the road underdog Detroit Red Wings at +190 odds. The goal over under line is set at five goals.

"The Blackhawks have won two straight playoffs games since falling behind 3-1 in this NHL playoff series. After defeating the Red Wings 4-1 in game five the Blackhawks force the seventh and deciding game in this playoff series after a game six 4-3 road victory as a -123 betting odds favorite. The game total landed over five goals."


-

2. SBR Forum.

"The Blackhawks are now a huge favorite to take the series in Game 7 in Chicago. SBR Forum's Peter Loshak previews the game and possible betting value with the market odds."

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3. Pregame TV.

"What hockey bettors need to know about Detroit Red Wings at Chicago Blackhawks on Wednesday - a free pick from Pregame.com's Vegas Runner, with and host Steve Fezzik."

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4. BookMaker Sportsbook.

"Brian Blessing and Todd Fuhrman present a break down of this NHL Playoff matchup from a betting perspective, including updated NHL odds."

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:21 AM | Permalink

Random Food Report: McDonald's, Dairy Queen Try To Pretend They Aren't Fast Food

1. Wendy's Last Among Big Burger Chains With Hispanics: Survey.

"Can the Rojas family make Hispanics more likely to eat at Wendy's?" AdAge wonders.

"Whether the fictional family, which is featured in a new Wendy's Hispanic campaign launched earlier this month, can move the needle remains to be seen. But a new study by market-research firm Placed suggests that the No. 2 burger chain may have an uphill battle compared to its rivals.

"According to the report, called Dining Out in America: The Quick-Service Restaurant Landscape, Hispanics were least likely to visit Wendy's compared to McDonald's, Burger King and Taco Bell."

Also: Can AdAge attract Hispanic readers if they keep spelling Rojas/Rojos two different ways?

2. Dunkin' Donuts Now The Official Coffee Of The Chicago Fire.

"As a part of the deal, Dunkin' Donuts will be featured heavily at the FireFest area in the parking lot near the northeast corner of Toyota Park, where coffee samples will be available during five games this season," Crain's reports.

"Fire home games will continue to feature the 'Dunkin' Donuts race' during halftime, which began this year and gives fans a chance to win bagel, coffee or doughnut coupons."

Your move, Cubs.

3. Ranch Dressing Soda Exists.

"The same company also makes Buffalo Wing, Peanut Butter & Jelly, and Bacon Soda," BuzzFeed notes.

Your move, RC.

4. McDonald's Bawled Out By 9-Year-Old.

Your move, Asean.

5. Dairy Queen Effort Reaches Beyond the Blizzard to Burgers and Fries.

"The chain's new tagline, 'Fan food. Not fast food' replaces its previous tagline, 'So Good It's RiDQulous,' and is expected to run in about a dozen new spots this year, but the tagline and campaign are slated to continue long after that," AdAge reports.

Yeah, that's not real brand-smart. DQ is known for its ridiculously delicious ice cream treats. That's who it is; that's its core competency. Are the brazier burgers good? Yes. But the "real food" is incidental. So a year from now we'll be reading a story about how DQ strayed too far afield and will return to the basics. Where it should have remained in the first place.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:39 AM | Permalink

Eulogy for 50 Schools

there was no Memorial Service for my school.
no mourners in
black.
nor any Memorial Services for the other
49 schools.

all of the schools,
elementary.
elementary years--they say they are
our formative years.
i don't know about that. but i know that my school was most of my
world at 6 years old.
and when most of your world just goes away when you're 6--even if most of your friends--yeah, you got to see again--
i don't know. but i couldn't wrap my young mind around my school
going away.

after that, i went to a brand new school.

and i wondered if my old school was sad. if the classroom where Ms. Johnson read us books and showed us letters, was sad.
i wondered if my school didn't understand. didn't understand where everyone went.
i wondered if Lester was still there, with his mop and that big bucket when the bell rang.
i liked Lester. he always said hello to me. every single day.

like the forgotten slave burial sites that i read about so many years later...
our elementary schools were left and forgotten, eventually.
were said to be "attractive to developers."
there were no Memorial Services for the 50 schools.
and there was no Eulogy for 50 schools.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:29 AM | Permalink

The Chicago Drum Show 2013 (Wherein A Funky Drummer Laid Down A Rock Shuffle So Deep You Could Drive A Semi Through It, Or Something)

"The Chicago Drum Show is the world's largest and longest-running event of it's kind," its producers say.

"It is a swap-meet, a drum expo, and an entertainment event. There are clinics, demonstrations, raffles, classes, and over 30,000 square feet of exhibits: New, used, vintage and custom drums, cymbals, and related accessories."

This year's Chicago Drum Show was held at the Kane County Fairgrounds in St. Charles earlier this month. Here are some highlights.

1. Rick Latham Clinic.

"In this clip . . . we catch some of Rick Latham's clinic, in which the ever-funky drummer revealed two sides of his impressive skill set. He first lays down a rock shuffle so deep that you could drive a semi through it, then segues into a flurry of chops at the end, just to prove he can do it."


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2. JamTec Lighted Stick Holders.

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3. Detroit Custom Drum Company.

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4. Chicago Drum And Restoration.

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5. Bello Drum Company.

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6. daVille Drumworks.

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7. Ludwig Drums.

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8. Holloman Custom Drums.

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See also: Drum!'s YouTube channel.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:05 AM | Permalink

Yet Do I Marvel: A Chicago Celebration Of Black Iconic Poets Of The 20th Century

The Poetry Foundation and the Poetry Society of America are pleased to bring to Chicago a national celebration of black iconic poets. Quraysh Ali Lansana, Rosellen Brown, Kwame Dawes, Haki Madhubuti, Dipika Mukherjee, and Ed Roberson will read and discuss the work of such illustrious poets as Lucille Clifton, June Jordan, Gwendolyn Brooks, and Kamau Brathwaite, among others.

When: Thursday, June 6, 7 p.m.
Where: Poetry Foundation, 61 West Superior Street
Admission: Free admission on a first come, first served basis

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Bonus video curated by The Beachwood Value Added Affairs Desk.

Quraysh Ali Lansana with a basketball poem.


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Rosellen Brown on a live woman being coated with molten wax.

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Kwame Dawes on AIDS, journalism and poetry.

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Haki Madhubuti on badasses Louis Armstrong and Miles Davis.

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Dipika Mukherjee on Thunder Demons.

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Ed Roberson with "Sequoia Sempervirons."

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Lucille Clifton with "Homage To My Hips."

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June Jordan with "Poem About My Rights."

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Gwendolyn Brooks with "A Song In The Front Yard."

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Kamau Brathwaite's "Calypso."


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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:51 AM | Permalink

May 28, 2013

Sveum Sucks

"Dale Sveum calls it 'mind-boggling' and 'strange,'" the Sun-Times reported this week.

"'Just certain things you can't explain,' the Cubs manager said of his team's persistent inability to turn excellent pitching into victories this season.

"Peppered with questions about so-called clutch hitting, about lineup shuffling, about rethinking his lefty-righty platoon patterns, Sveum engaged the media brainstorming efforts before Thursday's game against the Pittsburgh Pirates."

Um, it doesn't take a genius, Dale. Your team sucks - just as designed. It isn't built to win. Didn't you get the memo?

Sveum also became this week the umpteenth manager to claim the Cubs are "snakebit." So no, the culture hasn't really changed.

(Edwin Jackson also says this team is the tightest of all the teams he's been on. And that's a lot of teams. Teams that were expected to win. That's within the manager's purview.)

Finally, Theo said this week that "To be blunt, we haven't made much progress improving the on-base skills of some of the players here."

And on whose shoulders should that rest?

Week in Review: The Cubs lost five straight - three to Pittsburgh and two to the Reds - before beating the White Sox on Monday in the opener of the Worst Crosstown Classic Ever.

Week in Preview: Two more against the White Sox and three against the D-backs. Saturday night is Darwin Barney Bobblehead Night - watch him shake his head No when asked to take a walk.

The Second Basemen Report: Darwin Barney went 4-for-4 last Tuesday and has gone 2-for-22 since, leaving 16 men on base including six on Sunday alone. His OBP is .284 this season and .303 over his four-year major-league career.

Luis Valbuena's OBP over is six-year career is .300, but it's .362 this season. Valbuena is a natural second baseman. With third baseman Cody Ransom hitting .275 (with a .327 OBP) in limited playing time, it would be a nice time to sit Barney if Dale Sveum had any guts, which he doesn't.

The Not-So-Hot Corner Valbuena and Ransom each got three starts at third last week. God, this team is boring.

Prospect Joshua Warren Vitters is not the Cubs' third baseman of the future, no matter what Theo told Ian Stewart.

Wishing Upon A Starlin: Starlin Castro is hitting .272 with a .305 OBP. ""I hit the same, stay aggressive, whoever is pitching," Castro said this week after striking out with the bases loaded and one out on Wednesday. "He threw nasty pitches. I never change my approach."

Um, you're supposed to change your approach, given the situation and the pitcher. With bases loaded, you do not strike out. You make contact. An out in any way - ground ball or fly - could bring in a run. And that's worst case scenario.

Dale?

Also, why does Sveum bat Castro second? He should either leadoff - despite his OBP he's got speed and he does tend to get a couple hundred hits a season - or push him down to, oh, say, seventh.

The Legend of Dioner Navarro: One start, went 1-for-3 with a walk and left two on base. Just the fact that we're tracking this tells you how unwatchable this team is.

Deserted Cubs: Tony Campana has his batting average up to .271 with a .317 OBP at Reno. He's heating up, people. (He's also 16-for-16 in stolen base attempts.) Just like Mark Grace, the brothers love him. Meanwhile, Bob Brenly says it's time for robo-umps.

Bullpen Bullshit: After giving up a grand-slam pinch-hit, Shawn Camp told reporters that "We're not going to talk about pitches, pitch selection, stuff like that. It's irrelevant." Um, okay. See any good movies lately?

By the way, just because Edwin Jackson has the big contract doesn't mean he shouldn't have been the one sent to the bullpen upon Matt Garza's return. He's got a four-year contract; he's got plenty of time to prove his worth. And presumably he's not in need of showcasing before the trade deadline, unlike every other starter except Jeff Samardzija. Will the Cubs ever have a manager - and management - willing to pull their money out of their mouth and make roster decisions based on merit?

Ameritrade Stock Pick of the Week: Shares of Mocking traded higher this week both on and off the field.

Sveum's Shadow: 8 p.m. Dale Sveum's Five O'Clock Shadow remains three hours past as he settles into a sense of resignation.

Shark Tank: Is there a Kickstarter to fund a haircut yet?

Jumbotron Preview: Six thousand square feet of fuck you.

Kubs Kalender: Wait 'til next year 2016.

Over/Under: Games until Jeff Samardzija enters a dead-arm phase: 0.

Beachwood Sabermetrics: A complex algorithm performed by The Cub Factor staff using all historical data made available by Major League Baseball has determined that JIm Deshaies is a smart guy but the broadcasts just aren't much fun, particularly given the Len Kasper's cheese. Put Stoney and Deshaies together and you might have something.

The Cub Factor: Unlike Alfonso Soriano, you can catch 'em all!

The White Sox Report: Know the enemy.

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Contact The Cub Factor!

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 1:24 PM | Permalink

The [Tuesday] Papers

"The embattled United Neighborhood Organization announced steps Tuesday its leaders hope will win the resumption of tens of millions of dollars in state funding for construction of a charter high school on the Southwest Side," the Sun-Times reports.

"Juan Rangel, UNO's $250,000-a-year chief executive officer, said he is stepping down from the boards that oversee UNO and its charter-school network, which is the biggest in Illinois, but will stay on as CEO."

So he's still in charge.

"UNO is overhauling its board and turning over construction of the new school to an outsider to oversee.

"I am here today to apologize," Rangel said at a news conference to announce the changes. "I have failed.

"It has become clear to me that I failed to exercise proper oversight. For these failures, I am deeply sorry, and I take full responsibility."

To the contrary, Juan. You didn't fail - you succeeded all too well.

But every once in a while in Illinois, be it the governor, a congressman or an alderman (never a Chicago mayor), somebody has to be sacrificed to the gods of damage control and public relations to keep the system going.

"Gov. Pat Quinn had suspended all remaining payments from a $98 million school construction grant after the Chicago Sun-Times reported that $8.5 million of the state funding went to companies owned by two brothers of Miguel d'Escoto, a top UNO executive who resigned his $200,000-a-year post in the wake of the stories.

Hiring the d'Escoto brothers' companies was "simply not appropriate," Rangel said. "It smacks of nepotism."

It not only smacks of nepotism, it is nepotism. And this morning's little piece of theater would have us believe that Rangel simply didn't realize at the time that it not only looked foul, but was foul - even though he's defended just that sort of practice for years.

This one's for you, Juan.

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"Beside leaving his posts on the two UNO boards, Rangel also is stepping down from the board of the Public Building Commission of Chicago, which oversees construction of public schools, police and fire stations and other public buildings. Mayor Rahm Emanuel appointed Rangel to the PBC board soon after being elected mayor in 2011. Rangel served as co-chairman of his mayoral election campaign."

Gee that looks like nepotism, too. After all, Rangel is like a son to Rahm.

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"UNO also announced an overhaul of its board, which will be headed by Martin Cabrera Jr., the head of a financial services firm that served as underwriter for a $37.5 million UNO bond issue in 2011. Cabrera is the founder and chief executive officer of Cabrera Capital Markets, one of Chicago's leading Hispanic investment banks and a frequent recipient of pinstripe patronage from city bond issues."

Martin Cabrera, please report to the cosmetics department!

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"Cabrera said Rangel will stay on in UNO's top job, saying there is 'no one more suitable to be CEO.'"

There is no one more suitable to be the CEO than the man who just said he had failed badly as the CEO.

*

"Rangel said he will accept all reform recommendations made last week by Wayne Andersen, a former federal judge UNO hired for $800 an hour following the Sun-Times reports."

Was one of those recommendations not to pay anyone $800 an hour for any damn thing?

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"Andersen also recommended that UNO - which relies largely on funding from the Chicago Public Schools for its charter operation - ban nepotism in hiring. The Sun-Times reported in March that UNO has three of Rangel's relatives on the payroll."

Huh. That smacks of something, I just can't place my finger on what.

Biggest Hawks Win Since Cup Thingy
"Going into the third down 2-1 in a building where the Red Wings rarely lose, it didn't look good," our very own Jim "Coach" Coffman writes.

"After Marian Hossa's backhand power play goal just 3 minutes and 53 seconds into the game, the Hawks were blanked until Handzus put up his tally. With their three goals in the third period, the Hawks offense finally came through late."

Now the Hawks are on the verge of one of the best playoff comebacks in NHL history. But be forewarned: the Red Wings got here by beating the Ducks in Anaheim in Game 7.

Chance the Rapper vs. the Electric Daisy Carnival
In The Weekend in Chicago Rock, including the dude who's changing the game and highlights from the humongous (65,000 people) EDM festival in Joliet.

Beachwood Photo Booth
Chicago Man Grilling.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Like a daisy chain of love.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 11:34 AM | Permalink

Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Man Grilling

Suitable for any holiday weekend, really.

grill.jpg (ENLARGE FOR PROPER VIEWING)

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You can buy it!

TITLE: "Holiday Weekend"

MEDIUM: photography, digital

SIZE: 8x12 inches, borderless

PAPER: acid-free, Fuji archival paper

FINISH: lustre

All prints will be signed by the artist, Helene Smith. (Copyright, 2013)

Unmatted, unframed.

This print is available in other sizes (including photo card) by request.

Your print will be shipped in a protective, sturdy mailer.

All items are shipped via First Class USPS, within the United States, though I ship internationally, as well. Please see the Shipping Section on my Policy Page for more details.

Please, allow up to 2 weeks for processing your order (though it will often arrive earlier!). I generally process each print when the customer places the order, although I do have a few prints on hand and will ship sooner if your photo is in stock. If you are in a rush, let me know and I will try to accommodate you.

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Purchase through Etsy.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:33 AM | Permalink

SportsMondayTuesday: Biggest Blackhawks Win Since They Won That Cup Thingy A Few Years Ago

What. A. Win.

So many awesome individual Blackhawk performances to celebrate.

Way to go Bryan Bickell! The man is the offensive star of this series after scoring his second massive goal in two games.

Bickell did just what the Hawks desperately need him to do (besides initiating as many Red Wing rough rides as possible), which is go to the net and find a way to connect with rebounds.


The classic power forward's goal put the Hawks in front in the third on their way to the 4-3 victory that evened this second-round series at 3 and set up Game 7 on Wednesday at the UC.

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And then Michael Frolik (!) gave a clinic on how to take a penalty shot to provide critical insurance.

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Way to go Johnny Oduya and Nik Hjalmarsson! You guys are just about the Hawks' top defensive pairing at this point. Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook are good but are they as good any more as Oduya and Hjalmarsson (the pairings probably aren't No. 1 and No. 2 - let's go with No. 1 and No. 1A)?

The former second pairing received all sorts of ice time in the clutch last night. Hjalmarsson's tendency to flip irresponsible passes out from the end boards into the Hawks zone costs the team some fearsome scoring chances against at times. But he tends to make up for it with clever, gritty little plays like his pinching in to win the puck along the boards early in the third period and sending it to Michal Handzus all alone in front for the biggest goal of the series (the one that tied the score at 2).

And a few kudos to Handzus while we're here. It seems like it should be easy to score from right in front of the goal when it's just you and the goalie, but that is oftentimes exactly false. A good netminder can do all sorts of things to psyche a shooter out and the spaces into which to score in those sorts of situations are small and getting smaller as the goalie moves toward you. And Handzus took his time but didn't take too much time.

The same could be said for the Hawks offense as a whole. Going into the third down 2-1 in a building where the Red Wings rarely lose, it didn't look good. After Marian Hossa's backhand power play goal just 3 minutes and 53 seconds into the game, the Hawks were blanked until Handzus put up his tally. With their three goals in the third period, the Hawks offense finally came through late.

On the other side of the puck, there was a lot of real-time and post-game chatter about Corey Crawford giving up a soft goal to give the Red Wings a 2-1 lead in the second period. And it was a soft goal by the way - I don't care if the puck was on edge just before it was shot.

The puck may have been tumbling through the air in an unusual way but it was doing so in a straight line. Crawford just missed it.

Crawford will have to find a way to save shots like that if the Hawks are going to make a deep run. But on this evening, his performance was good enough for the Blackhawks' biggest win since they beat the Flyers that night in 2010 - also on the road - and raised the Cup for the first time in almost 50 years.

Crawford was good enough and actually, he has been very good through 11 playoff games now. If the Hawks manage to win Game 7 versus the Wings (and remember that Hockey Town's finest just came out of a series in which they played a Game 7 on the road - in southern California for goodness sake - and won it), Crawford is likely the guy in front of the net the rest of the way.

On the down side, Jonathan Toews is a great leader but he's been exposed in this series as the Red Wings have thrown him off his game by just pounding on him - he blew at least two more glorious scoring chances Monday night.

And this team can't take another miscalculation by Joel Quenneviille, like his benching of Viktor Stalberg. Coach Q was sure that when Viktor Stalberg challenged him (allegedly on the bench, asking why he was no longer on the power play unit), he could take the speedy forward out the lineup without damaging his team too much. Of course, a gazillion other factors came into play as the Hawks fell behind 3-1 in this series, but one of them was that their fastest forward was out of the lineup early on. Stalberg has been back for a couple games now and while he hasn't scored big goals, he has been an offensive threat to be accounted for by the Red Wings and he has handled his responsibilities when Detroit has had the puck.

The Hawks are on the verge of one of the best playoff comebacks in NHL history. And thank goodness, because we desperately need the Hawks to continue distracting us from the baseball season.

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

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:10 AM | Permalink

The Weekend In Chicago Rock

You shoulda been there.

1. Chance the Rapper at the Metro on Saturday night.


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2. Laura Marling at the Athenaeum Theatre on Thursday night.

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3. JC Brooks & the Uptown Sound at Bloodshot HQ on Thursday.

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And from the Electric Daisy Carnival in Joliet:

4. Kaskade on Friday night.

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5. Avicii on Saturday night.

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6. Armin van Buuren on Saturday night.

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7. Hardwell with W&W on Saturday night.

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8. Borgore on Sunday night.

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9. Fedde Le Grand on Saturday night.

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10. Eric Prydz on Sunday night.

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11. Arty on Sunday night.

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12. Ferry Corsten on Saturday night.

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13. Gabriel and Dresden on Friday night.

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14. Sunnery James and Ryan Marciano on Sunday night.

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15. Tiesto on Sunday night.

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16. Quintino on Sunday night.

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17. Electric Daisy.

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18. 3D Lightbox.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:59 AM | Permalink

May 27, 2013

Sale's Diet Secret

Despite missing his turn in the rotation last week as the White Sox made a mad dash to the .500 mark, Chris Sale did receive some publicity. It had nothing to do with his ability to mow down American League hitters as one of the league's best pitchers.

No, this was about his culinary habits as described by the Wall Street Journal's Brian Costa under the headline "Baseball's Greatest Metabolism."

To wit:

On the mound last week, Chris Sale, the 24-year-old ace of the Chicago White Sox, was practically unhittable. In two starts, he threw 16 2/3 scoreless innings, allowed just four hits and struck out 19 batters. That was all impressive enough.

But what really left teammates in awe of Sale was his performance on a charter flight to California. In a four-hour masterpiece, Sale packed two ice cream sundaes and, by one teammate's estimate, around 30 bags of potato chips into one of the skinniest bodies the sport has ever seen.

"He eats more than anybody on Earth," Adam Dunn told the Journal.

Calling Sale skinny is a reasonable description, and like most fans, I had no idea that the guy packs it away at an alarming rate.

However, there are other players in Sox history who no doubt could match Sale hamburger-for-hamburger. But unlike Sale, all the nourishment did alter the waistlines of a more than a few of them.

Take deluxe pinch hitters Ron Northey and Smoky Burgess, two guys who came to the Sox in the twilight of their careers prior to the introduction of the designated hitter. Both challenged the equipment manager to find pants big enough to fit them.

Northey played for the Sox for parts of three seasons, 1955-57, at the very end of his career. Whoever listed him at 5-10, 195 pounds was being exceptionally kind. Considering that all Northey did was pinch hit - he had 48 at-bats in 53 games in 1956 when he hit .354 - he had plenty of time to hang out in the club house munching away until manager Marty Marion summoned him for a late-inning appearance.

Burgess had a stellar career in the National League as a catcher, playing on the 1960 World Series champion Pirates and hitting over .300 five different seasons, He spent the last four years (1964-67) of his career on the South Side. In that time, he appeared in just seven games - three as a starter - behind the plate. Burgess is fourth all-time with 145 pinch-hits.

To say that Smoky was well-fed is like saying that Hawk Harrelson is a homer. Burgess was short, just 5-feet-8, and the longer he played, the stouter he got. But he never lost his ability to hit. Like Northey, Burgess had about the same number of plate appearances as games played. And he delivered big hits as evidenced by 24 RBI in 1965 in just 77 at-bats.

Both Burgess and Northey played for the Sox in '67, and rumor has it that the team lost money that year because of what it cost for the post-game spreads.

While the portly Northey and Burgess are memorable, there was no one quite like another renown eater, Wilbur Wood. His longevity with the Sox stretched over 12 seasons, first as a relief pitcher and then as a starter, a brainstorm of manager Chuck Tanner.

Wood looked nothing like an athlete, and one could argue that he truly wasn't one. Wilbur threw a knuckler, a very good one, and his numbers would indicate that he didn't expend much effort doing so. He started an average of 45 games a season from 1971 to 1975 and only a line drive that shattered his kneecap at the start of the '76 season curtailed his activity.

Wilbur had an ample waistline, and the idea of moving quickly or rushing to the mound would have been a shock to his makeup. He had a reputation of washing down his meals and snacks with an Old Style or two, but none of it affected his ability to baffle the American League.

In 1973, Wood lost 20 games. No big deal because he won 24. He started - and lost - both ends of a doubleheader that season. No one has done that since, and it's a good bet no one ever will.

In four straight years, 1971-74, he won at least 20 games. He pitched 367 innings in 1972 and followed up with another 359 the next season. These are prodigious numbers and a testament to performing on a full stomach.

The services of present-day glutton Chris Sale, who is slated to face the Cubs on Tuesday after a touch of shoulder tendinitis, actually weren't missed last week as the Sox won five of six. The return of John Danks on Friday night highlighted a stretch where the starters all pitched into at least the sixth inning with a combined ERA of 2.56.

The pitcher who was least effective, Dylan Axelrod, still managed to snag two wins, beating the Red Sox on Monday and the struggling Marlins on Sunday.

In addition, the Sox are discovering how lovely it is to get a two-out RBI. They did it two innings in a row in Friday's tense 4-3 extra inning win over Miami. Hector Gimenez, subbing for the aching Tyler Flowers, stroked a hard single to left-center to score Conor Gillaspie in the bottom of the fifth, and Paul Konerko came though an inning later to plate Alex Rios. Those kinds of successes simply weren't happening earlier in the season.

Sunday's game also featured two outfield putouts by Dayan Viciedo and Rios which turned out to be the margin of victory in the 5-3 game. Give credit to Gimenez, who surely should challenge Flowers for the No. 1 catching role, for blocking Marcel Ozuna off the plate and staying with the tag. Ozuna had beaten Rios's throw, but Hector refused to let him touch home.

If Sale proves to be healthy, Axelrod will probably go to the bullpen, which has been inconsistent. While Addison Reed, Jesse Crain and Matt Thornton have pitched well, Matt Lindstrom and Nate Jones have been up and down. Axelrod can help.

In addition, Gordon Beckham should return in another week if the six-week recovery from his hand surgery becomes reality. This will create two positive outcomes: Beckham will be a big improvement defensively at second base, while Jeff Keppinger will come off the bench as a spot starter, a role he has effectively played before.

It was only 12 games ago that the Sox were struggling along six games under .500. Other than Robin Ventura and his group, no one would have predicted this rapid turnaround. With four games looming against the Cubs, the hot streak just may continue a while longer. Don't stop eating now, boys.

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

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:37 AM | Permalink

May 25, 2013

The Weekend Desk Report

Oh yeah, beachgoers in Chicago are hooked the fuck up this weekend.

Market Update: A Cautionary Tale
If all you think about is money, you'll lose touch with what really matters. Before long, you'll be selling Grandma's wedding ring just to "get by."

Power Lists: A Cautionary Tale
If all you think about is pleasing those with more power than you, you'll wind up looking pretty seedy in the end.

French Open
Our money's on the panda.

French Closed
Wait a minute, an orderly withdrawal in line with stated expectations? Shut the barn door.

Code Pink
By the way, weren't we going to do something about the droning?

New AppRoach
Finally this week, proof it's never too late to open another front in the War on Terror.

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The Weekend Desk Tip Line: Code Red.

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The Sound Opinions Weekend Listening Report: "Wild Belle's brother-sister combo brings its brand of reggae-inspired psychedelic pop to the studio. Plus, the robots are back: Jim and Greg review the new album from Daft Punk."

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The Flying Saucer Weekend Brunch Report: Ask about the Memorial Day weekend specials. Open 10 a.m. - 2 p.m. on Monday.

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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.

"War Baby/ Love Child" Artist Talk with Mequitta Ahuja

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Artist Mequitta Ahuja discusses her work, which translates performance photographs into large-scale self portraits she calls "automythography."

Sunday at 9 a.m. on CAN TV21.

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"War Baby/ Love Child" Exhibition Tour

5-20-WarBaby-LoveChild.jpg

Visit a new exhibition at the DePaul Art Museum which explores the construction of identity by mixed-race Asian Americans in the United States.

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

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Imagining Peace Panel

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This collaborative event brings together Chicago youth who have been impacted by violence with community and civic leaders to contemplate solutions for addressing the problem.

Sunday at 11 a.m. on CAN TV21.

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Imagining Peace Poetry Readings

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Young people express the impact of violence on their lives during this poetry slam event.

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

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Live from the Heartland

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Political satire theater troupe Democracy Burlesque are the guests on this episode of Live from the Heartland, a weekly radio program broadcast on Loyola University's radio station WLUW 88.7.

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


Posted by Natasha Julius at 8:59 AM | Permalink

May 24, 2013

The All-Candy Expo Is Now The Sweets & Snacks Expo And It Was Just Held In Chicago

"Sweets & Snacks Expo is one of the largest confectionery, cookie and snack shows in the Americas," notes BizTradeShows.

"It is the only show that represents all of the distribution and trade channels in the confectionery and snack industry in one location. Standard cooking ovens, baking utensils, latest innovations in the baking industry, samples of baked goods will be targeting potential customers, manufacturing sector owners and managers of coffee shops, chocolate shops."

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"A quick tour of the 2013 NCA Sweets and Snacks Expo from Chicago. This event (formerly the ALL Candy Expo) features candy and snack products from worldwide manufacturers and is the place to see ALL THE NEW PRODUCTS and IDEAS in the candy and snack industries," says ML1Media.

"All the new product intros are featured - See the newest products RIGHT HERE, RIGHT NOW, COMMERCIAL FREE!"


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"Jerky, bite-size candy, and sustainability were three trends seen at the 2013 Sweet and Snacks Expo at McCormick Place in Chicago," the Tribune reports.

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"Assemblies Unlimited is live at the Sweets and Snacks Expo describing their many capabilities including candy packaging, seasonal gifts sets, bottle filling, chocolate packaging, novelty items, and retail packaging along with blister packaging, clamshell packaging, pouching, liquid filling, and powder filling."

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:28 PM | Permalink

The [Friday] Papers

More on school closings to come. For now, let's catch up with parking privatization for a change of pace.

Meter Madness, Money And Mara
"Former Mayor Richard M. Daley's staff was aware of major problems with the city's parking-meter privatization deal in 2010 - a year and a half before the costly issues publicly surfaced, according to hundreds of pages of documents released Wednesday by Mayor Rahm Emanuel's administration," the Sun-Times reported on Thursday.

"The documents detail behind-the-scenes sparring between City Hall - under Daley and Emanuel - and Chicago Parking Meters LLC before Emanuel struck a deal last month with the meter company."

The fight was over those with disability placards parking for free at meters. But the biggest eye-opener in the documents to me was this:

The newly released documents also show the meter company paid former Daley press secretary Avis LaVelle's public relations firm $518,246 between 2009 and 2012.

Also, this reminder:

The law firm of Katten Muchin Rosenman, where Daley now is employed, worked for the city on drafting the parking-meter deal.

And as expected:

A spokeswoman for Daley could not be reached Wednesday for comment.

Meanwhile, Crain's ran a puffball interview with former Daley consigliere Mara Georges earlier this month in which she stated "It was a good decision in that I think it was the responsible way to raise much-needed revenue."

And where does Georges work now? Daley & Georges.

I bet she gets free parking.

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Meanwhile, in other privatization matters . . .

"Mayor Rahm Emanuel's administration went to court Thursday to try to knock tens of millions of dollars off the nearly $58 million tab it owes to the private company that operates four city-owned parking garages," the Sun-Times reports today.

"A panel of independent arbitrators found earlier this year that former Mayor Richard M. Daley 's administration violated the city's 99-year, $563 million deal with Chicago Loop Parking LLC when it allowed a competing public garage to open in the new Aqua building downtown on North Columbus Drive.

"Now, in a lawsuit filed in Cook County Circuit Court, the Emanuel administration argues that the parking-garage company is no longer entitled to the entire $57.8 million arbitration award, even though the 2006 privatization deal says such rulings 'shall be final and binding.'"

Maybe Rahm should sue Katten Muchin Rosenman, Daley and Georges for damages instead.

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The [Mara Georges] Papers:

June 15, 2006:

Not a good day for Mara Georges, who as corporation counsel is the city's top lawyer. Georges is also a Mayor Daley loyalist who has been on the stand for a couple days in the ongoing City Hall job-rigging corruption trial. On Wednesday, defense lawyer Thomas Anthony Durkin questioned her about the city's hiring of Andy Ryan, a 19-year-old son of a union official, as a building inspector.

"During cross-examination on Wednesday, Georges did not directly respond when Durkin asked whether she knew if Intergovernmental Affairs played a role in Ryan's hiring," the Tribune's account reports.

"'It would depend on what you mean by 'played a role,' she said."

Georges has frustrated reporters for years with this kind of slipperiness in service of her see-no-evil routine.

Now it's on display in a federal courtroom.

"Also Wednesday," the Sun-Times reported, "Georges finished testimony but revised a critical element under defense questioning.

"On Tuesday, Georges said she was unaware of allegations of irregularities in city hiring until the FBI raided IGA offices last year.

"But she grudgingly acknowledged she was aware of possible irregularities in the 2004 hiring of [Ryan].

"'Perhaps I was aware there was an allegation, yes,' she said."

July 10, 2006:

Sifting through the aftermath of the City Hall hiring fraud verdict is a bit like traversing California in the 1840s - you can't help but stumble upon some golden nuggets. (See also The [Patronage] Papers.)

For example, how deliciously telling is it that jurors found Mara Georges to be the least credible witness put on the stand? Not the old-school machine hacks that the defense tried to dirty up by suggesting their testimony was skewed by their immunity deals, but the corporation counsel - the city's lawyer-in-chief (though she's shown that her chief loyalty is to the mayor, not the city).

U.S. District Court judge David Coar also found Georges performance on the stand wanting, and another regrets taking her representations at face value of the city's compliance with a federal hiring decree.

July 31, 2006:

Here's what the chief assistant to corporation counsel Mara Georges wrote to her in an e-mail upon hearing that Edward Egan and Robert Boyle had been appointed as special prosecutors in the Burge inquiry, according to the Sun-Times today:

"They will likely be fair to the city and the CPD and our guess is that they will not be inclined to turn their investigation into the kind of unfocused witchhunt . . . that the [People's Law Office] and their ilk would ideally push for."

As opposed to Jon Burge, and his ilk.

March 22, 2007:

Georges, who as the Tribune points out, "for years swore in court that the city was abiding by hiring restrictions." Right up to the time federal prosecutors unveiled what they called "massive fraud" emanating from officials in the mayor's office and winning four guilty verdicts - including the mayor's patronage chief.

October 3, 2007:

Mara Georges is at it again.

Georges is the city's corporation counsel and a favorite of Mayor Daley's. And it's no wonder why.

"The City of Chicago's top lawyer has denied at least one alderman's written request to see a list of Chicago police officers who have the most excessive force complaints during the last five years, a move that critics say contradicts what the lawyer told federal judges this summer," the Tribune reports this morning.

"Corporation Counsel Mara Georges recently sent a letter to Ald. Toni Preckwinkle (4th), denying her Aug. 23 request for an unredacted list of Office of Professional Standards complaints.

"In July, when the city was arguing in federal court to keep the documents secret, Georges assured the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals that aldermen would have access to the confidential records.

"'We have agreed to make the confidential documents available to any City Council member who requests them,' Georges declared in the city's July 13 emergency motion seeking a stay of U.S. District Judge Joan Lefkow's order to unseal the records and make them available to the general public."

Now, Georges is arguing that the very stay that was granted when she made that promise prevents her from . . . keeping her promise.

"It is disappointing, but not surprising," Preckwinkle said. "It is sort of consistent with bad behavior by the corporation counsel all the way along."

Just last week, for example, John Conroy reminded us in the Reader of Georges' blatant disingenuousness.

"Georges received stunningly bad reviews for her testimony in last year's trial of Robert Sorich, the mayor's longtime patronage chief," Conroy wrote. "Georges testified that she was unaware of political influence in hiring. Jury foreman Jay Olshansky, a professor of public health at the University of Illinois at Chicago, told the Tribune she was the prosecution's least credible witness, and federal judge David Coar, who presided over the trial, said, 'I found the Mara Georges position in all of this incredible.'

"But Mayor Daley likes her. After Sorich was convicted he was quoted in the Tribune saying Georges has been a 'very, very good corporation counsel . . . full of integrity, honesty, dedication.'"

November 3, 2008:

Though the city's inspector general figures Chicago is wasting millions of dollars a year on garbage-collection crews 'paid to do nothing' for 25 percent of their time on the job, no one has been disciplined for slacking off," the Sun-Times reports.

"City Corporation Counsel Mara Georges said Friday it would be tough to justify the firings promised by Mayor Daley and city Streets and Sanitation Commissioner Michael Picardi in the wake of Inspector General David Hoffman's report last month, let alone suspensions."

See, those promises had an expiration date of one news cycle.

November 13, 2009:

"Testifying later at a City Council budget hearing, Corporation Counsel Mara Georges said if the court orders her to turn over the documents [sought by the city inspector general's office], she would ask the City Council to amend the municipal code 'to say my privilege is sacred'," the Sun-Times reports.

"I do not think I can do my job and do it effectively for you if my client, including those people [aldermen] in this room, think that whatever they tell me is going to be turned over to the IG," Georges said.

Wait - isn't Georges' client us?

Stupid question. Withdrawn.

Obama Has Lost Jon Stewart
Daily Show host absolutely eviscerating the president these days.

The Week In Chicago Rock
Including: Marina and the Diamonds, Halestorm, Charli XCX, and the Secret Chiefs.

Confectionary Paradise
Inside the 2013 Sweets & Snacks Expo.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Short, sweet.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 11:24 AM | Permalink

Jon Stewart Continues To Absolutely Eviscerate Barack Obama

The president appears to have lost pretty much everybody but the most diehard Kool-Aid drinkers. Stewart has been going after him mercilessly this week. To wit:


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Watching Obama continue to act as a bystander in his own administration is just bizarre. (Hence, this from Borowitz: "Obama Denies Role In Government.")

And speaking of Kool-Aid drinkers, even Matthews is jumping ship.

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But is Obama a war criminal? Chomsky thinks so, but that won't surprise many. Doesn't make it untrue, though.

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And really, isn't Stewart saying the exact same thing in a different way?

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Meanwhile, those who were there are comparing Obama to Nixon.

And that's really not funny.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:48 AM | Permalink

The Week In Chicago Rock

You shoulda been there.

1. Marina and the Diamonds at the Vic on Monday night.


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2. Halestorm at the Riv on Tuesday night.

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3. Charli XCX at Borderline Music on Tuesday.

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4. Secret Chiefs at Township on Wednesday night.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:23 AM | Permalink

May 23, 2013

The [Thursday] Papers

I feel like I've been letting readers down this week by not putting out full columns every day, but I've had a lot of real-life concerns to attend to. I've also been spending an inordinate amount of time on Twitter because the #cpsclosings fiasco has inspired so much rich material - while making a lot of us heartsick at the same time.

I told a friend last night at Rainbo that I wasn't sure if I'd ever seen such a steaming pile of bullshit in all my years as a reporter as I've seen coming out of CPS and City Hall on this. I know it's a cliche to say, but I'm moved to recite the exceedingly wise observation that we're all entitled to our own opinions, but not to our own facts. CPS has conducted a war on facts that is all the more shameful coming from an organization whose mission is to educate children. Karen Lewis is right: It's a shonda.

Additionally, the performance by the school board yesterday was one of the most horrid things I've seen by a public body. Yes, the city council is often a self-parodying joke; go back and look at the floor speeches when they passed the parking meter deal.

But the comments by David Vitale, Henry Bienen and Mahalia Hines, in particular, were so antagonizing and lacking in empathy and graciousness that I wanted to kick my TV in. (I was watching via CLTV; I'm glad they were there but their coverage was an embarrassment, from maddening technical glitches to failing to understand that the monumental vote to close 50 schools had already occurred while they were still telling audiences they were awaiting it. Sheesh.) Way to get started on that whole moving forward together thing.

I hung around to watch Chicago Tonight's sorry performance and that's how I ended up at Rainbo seeking comfort in the form of $2 PBR pints on tap, local musicians extraordinaire behind the bar, and the Angry Aussie of Humboldt Park on the bar stool to my left and the good Rev. Jim Ignatowski to my right. That's the Chicago I love, and it's shrunk damn near close to a singularity; I fell out of love with this city a few years ago and I'm trying to get out.

Then I had an early morning confab at Filter analyzing this video. I also was lucky enough to get my coffee - much improved since they switched from Colombian to Peruvian; I can't get enough now - served in an Onion mug, which always makes it taste better.

So it's 11:15 a.m. as I write this and I'm trying to regroup. I always have so much more I want to write and post then I ever get around to. I use to have a lot more writers and we used to do a lot more on this site, but a couple years ago I slimmed things down for a number of reasons, though I'm not averse to ramping back up under the right circumstances. Readership certainly hasn't suffered; it's peaked, actually, which I find really weird. But I know the site isn't the same.

Anyway, I hope to bring extensive coverage/commentary on yesterday's proceedings, as well as praise and condemnation for our media - once again, a shout-out to WBEZ and Catalyst in particular, as well as the outstanding work by advocates such as Raise Your Hand, whom you can choose to side with or not (I do) but who delivered key questions and analyses, and Jeanne Olson, who delivered indisputable facts derived from the actual data that I hope made CPS officials privately blush. In a better world, I dare say Jeanne Olson should be running CPS.

In a better world, too, we wouldn't need an elected school board. It's an issue I was once agnostic on, in part because I hadn't really researched the arguments well enough to have what I felt would be a valid opinion. But like many, I now believe that, given Chicago's political culture and the nature of City Hall, it's abundantly necessary. I happen to favor mayoral control of the schools - though I could be persuaded otherwise. But a board appointed by a mayor is a joke. What's the point of having a board, then? Maybe the formula should be mayoral control, which basically means hiring the superintendent, with an elected board. Checks and balances, because yesterday six unelected board members, an unelected superintendent and a mayor overruled an entire city.

This plan is mad, and for the next year and more we'll be seeing a steady stream of stories recounting one disaster after the next. Children will be hurt. And neighborhoods will be see more devastation.

And at some point, a new CPS administration will come in and tell us that the previous administration did it all wrong, just like this one is saying now. They all say that so they can have their own claim to greatness as they stamp their ticket for the next job. Each succeeding administration, of course, is comprised of people from the same political circle. They're all pals, and they never speak up in real time. (The real question, then, is where were you, David Vitale?) But we'll be told the status quo is no longer acceptable, as it was in the day when they closed 50 schools. And they'll ask where the parents and teachers were. Well, we saw where they were yesterday, and where they've been all along, begging for mercy, pleading for reason, crying for justice, believing that facts could win the day. But this is Chicago. Brute force wins the day here. This is not a fact-based community.

That's all for now; I'm going to start working on today's site. Hopefully I can catch up before more stupidity befalls our city, because it's really hard to keep up.

The Secret Poetry of Afghan Women
"My body belongs to me; to others its mastery."

The Political Odds
Updated due to current events.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: America's Finest Tip Line.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:53 AM | Permalink

May 22, 2013

"My Body Belongs To Me; To Others Its Mastery"

The Poetry Foundation, publisher of Poetry magazine, is pleased to announce the publication of the June 2013 issue, Landays. The issue is dedicated entirely to poetry composed by and circulated among Afghan women.

After learning the story of a teenage girl who was forbidden to write poems and burned herself in protest, poet and journalist Eliza Griswold and photographer and filmmaker Seamus Murphy journeyed to Afghanistan to investigate the impact of the girl's death, as well as the role that poetry plays in the lives of contemporary Pashtuns.

A year later, Griswold and Murphy returned to Afghanistan to study the effects of more than a decade of U.S. military involvement on the culture and lives of Afghan women. In the course of this work, Griswold collected a selection of landays, or two-line poems. These poems are accompanied by Murphy's stunning photographs from the same period and are presented in the June 2013 issue of Poetry.

Griswold describes the characteristics of a landay in her introduction:

Twenty-two syllables: nine in the first line, thirteen in the second. The poem ends with the sound "ma" or "na." Sometimes they rhyme, but more often not. In Pashto, they lilt internally from word to word in a kind of two-line lullaby that belies the sharpness of their content, which is distinctive not only for its beauty, bawdiness, and wit, but also for the piercing ability to articulate a common truth about war, separation, homeland, grief, or love.

Landays are a centuries-old custom among Afghans, traditionally passed along in the oral tradition, and passed down through generations. The topics of the landays included in the June 2013 issue run the gamut - love, marriage, war, the status of women, drones, politics, courage, nature, the Internet - even farting.

Sometimes humorous, sometimes heartbreaking, these captivating two-line poems offer unique insight into the contemporary life of the more than twenty million Pashtun women who span the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan.

The June 2013 issue of Poetry is accompanied by an exhibition at the Poetry Foundation gallery in Chicago, Shame Every Rose: Images of Afghanistan, which will feature a selection of Seamus Murphy's photographs.

The exhibition will run from June through August 2013 and is free and open to the public.

The June 2013 issue of Poetry wouldn't have been possible without the support of the Pulitzer Center and Farrar, Straus and Giroux. The Pulitzer Center will present "I Am the Beggar of the World," a reading and film screening event, on July 30, 2013, at Culture Project in New York City, and on Wednesday, July 31, 2013, at the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington, DC. Farrar, Straus and Giroux will release I Am the Beggar of the World: Landays from Contemporary Afghanistan in spring 2014.

The entire June 2013 issue will be available online as of June 3 at www.poetrymagazine.org.

Digital copies of the June issue of Poetry magazine, as well as a digital subscription, are also available.

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Beachwood Bonus Video via the Pulitzer Center:

"Journalist Eliza Griswold, introduces her coverage of the landai poetry in Afghanistan. Landai poems, which are two-line poems, address various issues that affect Afghan women daily. These women use landai as an outlet from their constricted lives. However, these women have to keep their passion a secret, and often times use pen names to keep their identity hidden.

"Zarmina, an Afghan girl used the name Rahila to hide her poetry from a controlling family. Griswold investigates Zarmina's secret life and her involvement in Mirman Baheer, a women's literary society based in Kabul.

"This report is part of a Pulitzer Center-sponsored project Afghanistan: On Love and Suicide."

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 4:29 PM | Permalink

The [Wednesday] Papers

"Two months ago, CPS leaders announced their intention to close 54 schools, co-locate 11 and hand over six to the Academy of Urban School Leadership to be turned around," Sarah Karp writes for Catalyst.

"The end result of the school actions is that traditional, district-run neighborhood schools will become scarcer. Schools to which students have to apply and those run by private organizations will continue to take over, casting an ever-bigger shadow over the district."

Click through - Karp also reviews CPS's most dubious claims.

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WBEZ Fact-Checks CPS. With devastating results.

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Click through or click here for the source material of that tweet - Curtis Black's thorough and reasoned take-down of a perverted public policy process designed to suit one man's political purpose instead of delivering a just outcome.

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More to come.

->->->->->ELSEWHERE ON THE BEACHWOOD<-<-<-<-<

So far:

* Fantasy Fix: Local Heroes.

Cubs and Sox worth owning - or not.

* The Secret Poetry of Afghan Women.

"Distinctive not only for its beauty, bawdiness, and wit, but also for the piercing ability to articulate a common truth about war, separation, homeland, grief, or love."

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Use it or lose it.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:11 AM | Permalink

Fantasy Fix: Local Heroes

In a year when neither Chicago baseball team is likely to catch even a whiff of first place, could there possibly be any Cubs or White Sox worth owning in fantasy leagues?

Of course. There are a few very obvious ones: Anthony Rizzo, Jeff Samardzija and Starlin Castro on the Cubs; Alex Rios, Chris Sale, Addison Reed, Jake Peavy on the Sox.

But, as the Crosstown Cup, er Classic, er whatever, is set to play out next week, let's take a look at some of the maybes:

Adam Dunn, 1B/OF, SOX: Again, he's hitting well below .200, but has 11 HRs, so if you need HRs in the worst way - and I do mean the worst way - he's a definite maybe.

Alfonso Soriano, OF, CUBS: Five SBs have been a pleasant surprise. He really hasn't got going yet, but if you want to gamble, the May/June timeframe is when he usually goes on a streak.

Paul Konerko, 1B, SOX: He was an obvious late-round draft pick this year, but has been slumping since the start, and actually has been shed in many leagues. If he's available on your waiver wire, I still see no reason to pick him up until his power picks up.

David DeJesus, OF, CUBS: 24 runs scored, 12 doubles, and a .294 batting average are the main reasons to consider him. Only three SBs so far. That number will rise, but the BA may deflate.

Jose Quintana, SP, SOX: As I'm writing this, he just lost a no-hit bid against the Red Sox in the seventh. He's quietly effective at times, but his ERA of 3.97 and WHIP of 1.26 show some inconsistency this year vs. last. Someone to watch, but not touch at this point.

Nate Schierholtz, OF, CUBS: Five HRs, 19 RBI, four SBs are pretty vanilla numbers for an outfielder. He's certainly paid off as a free agent signing for the Cubs, but I'm not buying just yet.

Dylan Axelrod, SP, SOX: Nothing more than someone worth watching, primarily in a keeper league. He does look better and better with almost every start, but needs the Sox to score some runs, which they aren't.

Travis Wood, SP, CUBS: Four wins against two losses, an 0.93 WHIP, 2.24 ERA and streak of nine quality starts have made him a hot pick up in the last week or so. The last stat suggests a consistency worth investing in.

Alexei Ramirez, SS, SOX: He only has one HR and eight RBI, but is hitting .280, much higher than he usually is this time of year, and has eight SBs. At SS, you could easily do worse, and the SB pace suggests he'll surpass his career mark of 20 set last year.

Scott Feldman, SP/RP, CUBS: You can't really trust his recent tear, but he can provide good stop-gap pitching help right now, and if the Cubs trade him and he ends up in a pitcher's park, who knows?

John Danks, SP, SOX: You will know who is the biggest Sox fan in your league later this week, when he (or she, dare I say) picks up Danks before he has a start to his name. Certainly worth putting on your watch list for now.

Kevin Gregg, RP, CUBS: His second tour with the Cubs has been impressive so far: Six saves, 0.00 ERA and 12 strikeouts in 10 innings. A nice pick-up right now if you are desperate for saves - so desperate that you don't mind save opportunities being few and far between.

Matt Garza, SP, CUBS: Had a nice first start back from the DL on Tuesday, though I'd wait to see how long he stays healthy and/or can keep from self-destructing via his own poor fielding.

Welington Castillo, C, CUBS: Continues to be a decent buy at a shallow fantasy position. He has been hanging near a .300 BA for the first two months of the season, and though his power hasn't really kicked in, there should be more to come.

Expert Wire
* Bleacher Report looks at some potential second half stars.

* CBSSports.com says add Jurickson Profar because you just never know, you know.

* SI.com has its eyes on another prospect getting a chance: Jake Odorizzi.

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

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:30 AM | Permalink

May 21, 2013

The [Tuesday] Papers

Difficult week to get columns out so far. But still good stuff elsewhere on the site:

* CPS 9-Year-Old 1, Rahm 0.

Maybe it's the mayor's office that should be closed due to poor performance.

(Then again, Rahm doesn't care about the facts. Which I wrote about for Crain's: Rahm's Data Mayor Image Doesn't Add Up.)

* Watch 48 Hours Trip Up Garry McCarthy.

Once again, facts in question.

* Shock After Shock After Schock!

As Desire Drives A Bargain With DEATH!

Hozac Blackout Fest 2013.

* Brooksday In Chicago.

Honoring the iconic poet of modern Chicago.

* Random Food Report: Applebee's vs. Apple.

Plus: The Oreo Effect.

And: Guess What's Coming To Dinner?

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The Beachwood Tip Line: What. Ever.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 2:13 PM | Permalink

Brooksday In Chicago

The Guild Literary Complex, Third World Press and The American Writers' Museum have joined together in organizing the first annual Brooksday at the Chicago Cultural Center.

A marathon reading of the works of Gwendolyn Brooks, Brooksday is a daylong celebration of the life and work of one of Chicago's legendary literary figures.

We've invited more than 100 notable literary, civic, cultural and political leaders, along with students and teachers, to take the stage on June 7 from 9 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.

Readers will be reading a diverse selection of poems, along with selections from the novel Maud Martha.

Brooksday 2013 is the first step towards creating a citywide literary festival by 2017, Brooks's 100th birthday.

Join us in commemoration of Gwendolyn Brooks' artistic achievement, her legendary generosity toward other poets, her influence as a pathbreaking cultural figure, and her deserved stature as the iconic poet of modern Chicago.

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Bonus Beachwood material:

"Her home life was stable and loving, although she encountered racial prejudice in her neighborhood and in schools," according to her Wikipedia entry.

"She attended Hyde Park High School, the leading white high school in the city, before transferring to the all-black Wendell Phillips. Brooks eventually attended an integrated school, Englewood High School. In 1936 she graduated from Wilson Junior College. These four schools gave her a perspective on racial dynamics in the city that continued to influence her work."

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"Gwendolyn Brooks was a highly regarded, much-honored poet, with the distinction of being the first black author to win the Pulitzer Prize," according to her Poetry Foundation bio.

"She also was poetry consultant to the Library of Congress - the first black woman to hold that position - and poet laureate of the State of Illinois."

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"In 1945 her first book of poetry, A Street in Bronzeville (published by Harper and Row), brought her instant critical acclaim," according to her Oxford Companion To African-American Literature bio.

"She was selected one of Mademoiselle magazine's 'Ten Young Women of the Year,' she won her first Guggenheim Fellowship, and she became a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Her second book of poems, Annie Allen (1949), won Poetry magazine's Eunice Tietjens Prize. In 1950 Gwendolyn Brooks became the first African American to win a Pulitzer Prize. From that time to the present, she has seen the recipient of a number of awards, fellowships, and honorary degrees usually designated as Doctor of Humane Letters.

"President John Kennedy invited her to read at a Library of Congress poetry festival in 1962. In 1985 she was appointed poetry consultant to the Library of Congress. Just as receiving a Pulitzer Prize for poetry marked a milestone in her career, so also did her selection by the National Endowment for the Humanities as the 1994 Jefferson Lecturer, the highest award in the humanities given by the federal government.

"Her first teaching job was a poetry workshop at Columbia College (Chicago) in 1963. She went on to teach creative writing at a number of institutions including Northeastern Illinois University, Elmhurst College, Columbia University, Clay College of New York, and the University of Wisconsin."

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"She lived in Chicago until her death on December 3, 2000," according to her Academy of American Poets bio.

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A 1986 interview.

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Reading and discussing "We Real Cool."

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NOTE: Gwendolyn Brooks College Prep is the Far South Side school involved the recent Payton Prep saga. It is not slated for closure.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 1:19 PM | Permalink

Random Food Report: Applebee's vs. Apple

1. A DVD That Smells Like Domino's.

It smells like dog shit and late?


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"The DVDs have thermal ink and flavored varnish to create the effect," the Los Angeles Times reports.

"When the DVD is played, both materials react to the DVD player's heat. That changes the DVD from a standard gray disc into an aromatic piece of advertising."

Fine. But Domino's? Let's try pot and donuts next time, people.

2. What A Wonderfilled World.

This song kinda blew up a little on YouTube last week for some reason.

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Someone should do one wondering what would happend if we gave Oreos to Rahm.

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This Weird Al Oreo song is kinda super lame.

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Better.

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3. Guess What's Coming To Dinner?

"McDonald's is considering putting breakfast on the all-day menu, not long after Wendy's earlier this year ended its national breakfast experiment," AdAge reports.

"Breakfast accounts for 25% of McDonald's business and has been one of the biggest opportunities for the restaurant industry - the only area of growth in the past decade, according to NPD.

"And consumer trends in food, including the desire for speed, convenience, portability and more-healthful, fresher options, are driving chains such as Denny's and even Pinkberry to cash in on the $50 billion restaurant-breakfast category."

4. Hot Slut Of The Day!

5. The History Of Baseball Stadium Nachos.

6. New Twinkie Maker Shuns Union Labor.

Then I shun Twinkies. I stand with Golden Cake Makers and Creme-Fillers Local No. 1.

7. Venture Capitalists Are Making Bigger Bets On Food Start-Ups.

Sure, now that they're non-union.

8. Applebee Is For Bankrupt.

"At least eight of Applebee's 33 restaurants in the Chicago area are expected to close as its local franchisee seeks to reorganize its operations in Chapter 11 bankruptcy, a spokesman said," the Tribune reports.

"The casual-dining chain has 2,000 U.S. restaurants, of which all but two dozen are owned by independent business owners. On April 22, AppleIllinois LLC filed for bankruptcy in the Eastern District of Kentucky. Today, many consumers are trading experiences at restaurants such as Applebee's for cheaper, faster fare or they're splurging for a trendier experience."

Plus, Applebee's pays more in taxes than Apple.

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Random Food Report is our random food report. It appears randomly. Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:07 PM | Permalink

CPS 9-Year-Old 1, Rahm 0

Only pesky election rules keeping this nine-year-old CPS student off the ballot in 2015.


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Asean attends Marcus Garvey Elementary School, which is slated for closing. He calls it an exceptional school.

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Asean describes SEL.

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"CPS CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett said she wants classrooms at the remaining schools to 'pop,' so that students want to come to school," WBEZ reported in February.

But when Garvey third grader Asean Johnson stepped up to the microphone, barely able to peer over the podium, he rattled off a list of the things his elementary school already has - a 'well-stocked library, an award-winning garden,' an art room, a computer lab and several science labs.

"These are things you say that you want all schools to have but intentionally left these facts out of the fact sheet given to the parents in the community," Johnson said. "Why would you take Marcus Garvey away from us?"

Garvey elementary is slated to close and students will be sent to nearby Mount Vernon - a move parents, teachers, and even the Chicago Sun-Times editorial board say is questionable.

Indeed, Garvey is just one of many schools mischaracterized - lied about - by CPS.

Consider Derrick Blakley's gullible "report" in which he repeats CPS assertions without vetting, including:

* "With CPS planning to close and consolidate many half-empty schools to help eliminate a projected $1 billion deficit, one of the two nearby schools had to go, and CPS brass targeted Garvey."

First, as we shall see, Garvey is hardly "half-empty." Second, as we have repeatedly seen, school closings will not impact the projected $1 billion deficit in the least - they will cost money at first and if any savings are realized, they will be minimal and years down the road.

* "CPS officials said they are committed to providing children with a better education, including the students at Garvey. They said consolidating underutilized schools and moving children to higher performing schools is one way to do that."

As it turns out, Garvey is the better performing school than the one CPS wants to send its kids to.

Just read that Sun-Times editorial, titled "What A 'Half-Empty' School Really Looks Like:"

This is what one "half-empty" Chicago public school looks like:

Just about every classroom at Garvey Elementary, a cozy and well-loved Washington Heights school, is in use.

In fact, during a visit on Monday to the school, where colorful and neatly displayed student projects and artwork line bright yellow walls, we didn't see a single room going unused.

Garvey has air-conditioned classrooms, a well-stocked library, a garden, an art room, a computer lab, several small science labs and the kind of discipline and order in the classroom and hallway that tell a visitor this school has its act together.

These are the things CPS says it wants all schools to have. Of course, most of these strengths and amenities were conveniently left off the fact sheet the school system distributed about Garvey.

On paper, Garvey, with roughly 300 students, is about 50 percent used. Staff say a few rooms aren't fully used. That's how it landed among the 54 schools proposed for closure. It's to be consolidated with Mount Vernon Elementary, three blocks to the south in a quiet residential neighborhood of bungalows on the Far South Side.

This page strongly supports closing severely underused schools. It's right for those schools, and it's right for CPS to redirect money from underused schools to enhance other schools, as it plans to do.

But, as we've said repeatedly, 54 closures by this summer - affecting 109 schools and about 30,000 kids [Editor's Note: More like 46,000.] after receiving schools are added in - is far too many. It is too massive an undertaking to do at all at once.

Two kinds of mistakes are inevitable in such a rush: mistakes while relocating such an unwieldy number of students and mistakes in closing the wrong schools .

Like Garvey.

On our visit, children sure didn't look "trapped," as the mayor and the schools chief like to say about students in under-enrolled schools . We didn't see much flab, either. On a tour of the small building with a parent - the principal wasn't involved - we saw an intimate school making good use of its space. Parents at many other schools, including Trumbull and Courtenay, also are making good cases for their schools.

Hearings on each proposed closure start Saturday. We urge CPS to listen - which it has done so far in this process [Editor's Note: Not.] - and remove more names from the closure list. CPS says Mount Vernon, a large, recently renovated building, is at 44 percent capacity. It likely has space, but merging it with Garvey makes little sense, especially since Garvey looks better academically.

Yes, Garvey is a "Level 3" school, the lowest rating, and is on probation, while Mount Vernon is a Level 2 and not on probation.

But Garvey is new to probation just this year, while Mount Vernon was on probation from 2005 to 2011. And get this: Mount Vernon progressed to Level 2 in large part because its scores and attendance have grown - an important achievement - but they have grown to be just below Garvey's level.

At Mount Vernon, 74 percent of students meet state standards. At Garvey, it's 77 percent. Garvey's scores have stagnated, the reason it dropped from level 2 to 3 - which is a cause for concern not closure.

Moreover, students and teachers gave significantly higher marks to Garvey than to Mount Vernon in a survey of school culture. In the University of Chicago research-backed survey of key indicators of school success, Garvey outpaced Mount Vernon in every area, earning a "strong" rating, for example, for ambitious instruction and school safety to Mount Vernon's "weak" ratings.

Our tour guide, parent Christa Thomas is deeply invested in her school 's success and knows almost everyone there. She teaches an after-school dance class at Mount Vernon, where she says the culture is much rougher. A strong rivalry between the schools and gang issues are also a great concern.

She refuses to send her children there and is fighting to save her school .

"They're taking kids from a calm, family environment and putting them in a stressed one," she said. "This is not a wasteland."

Asean Johnson 1, Rahm Emanuel 0.

Maybe it's the mayor's office that should be closed due to poor performance.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:31 AM | Permalink

Watch 48 Hours Trip Up Chicago Police Chief Garry McCarthy

While Rahm Emanuel was caught blatantly dodging questions from CBS News in Sunday night's The War in Chicago, Chicago's police chief was caught in a blatant contradiction of his own making.

Here are the key passages, edited for clarity and concision.

"Porche Foster and Hadiya Pendleton never met, but both fell victim to Chicago's merciless street violence.

"Porche was shot last November, when - as with Hadiya two months later - a gunman opened fire on her and other teenagers who were standing around talking.

"The lives of both 15-year-olds have been frozen in time. Neither girl will go to a prom, go to college or get married and have her own children.

"But that is where the similarities end. It is as if Porche and Hadiya died in a city with two very different police departments: one for high-profile cases, the other for almost everyone else.

"One department, as Chicago's Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy described, moved heaven and earth to solve the murder of the teenager who had been at the president's inauguration.

"Arrests were quickly made. But most killers in Chicago never get caught. In fact, that other police department solved only 26 per cent of the homicides committed in 2012.

"What irritates me, my daughter's murderer is still standing on the streets," said Porche's mother, Bonita Foster.

"Six months after Porche Foster's murder, there still have been no arrests.

"I don't see why one gets more attention than the other. I am thinking that had they took the action that they're taking now, with her, with Porshe . . . maybe little Ms. Pendleton would still be here," said Foster.

"Porshe's family says there's has been almost no information from the police, though shortly after she was killed, a detective did stop by.

"He came - shortly after. He was on his way to another shooting. He gave me his card. And - that's the last I've heard from or seen him . . . We have tried to call . . . And we find out he's on vacation. I haven't talked to him [in two months]."

"We've made calls to the officer doing the investigation," said Demetria Rogers, Porche's aunt. "I did just call him last week and I haven't gotten a response - phone call yet."

"Chicago police dispute those accounts. Two months after our interview, a detective did pay another visit, but the family believes more should be done. So they're trying to find Porche's killer themselves, putting up reward posters near the crime scene.

"She was told repeatedly by - when she called the department, 'He's on vacation. No one else can talk to you. You'll have to wait till he gets back,'" a CBS reporter told McCarthy.

"Okay - that shouldn't have happened," he said. "There's a system where if the detective's not there there's supposed to be somebody else picking that up and taking care of it. You've gotta treat every individual, every victim like you're treating one of your own family members or you would want your family members to be treated."

"Can you understand how the parents of some of these other victims felt like the Hadiya Pendleton case got more attention than their case did?"

"I speak to - I speak to the families all the time. So absolutely I understand it. But you know, that's not something that we did. That's something that happened in the press and in the media. That's where that got blown up," said McCarthy.

*

It's true that the Pendleton story blew up in the media. Not every child is equal in the media's eyes - those whose deaths have novelistic narratives get saturation coverage. Those whose lives are more "ordinary" - and typical - are easily dismissed.

But is McCarthy blaming media coverage for determining the deployment of his detectives and street teams? (More likely, it was Rahm screaming at him to solve this fucking case now.)

Of course, we all know this is exactly how it works. Pendleton's death was a heater. The media - and the mayor - wanted a scalp, and McCarthy obliged.

But just think how Bonita Foster and all the other mothers out there feel about the neglected deaths of their children.

*

"I understand the instinct to assign a greater value to victims like Hadiya Pendleton," I wrote in February, "but it's sort of heinous to declare her life more worthy than even the gangbangers who were given up on a long time ago. That doesn't mean her death isn't heartbreaking. It is. It's hard to even think about. But that's because she didn't die in anonymity, like so many. And, of course, because she had just been to the presidential inauguration and was an innocent victim. I get it. But, as John Kass writes . . . even 'guilty' victims have loved ones. Those who don't should be mourned even more, for their lives were even greater wastes."

*

Back to 48 Hours:

"McCarthy says it was good old-fashioned detective work that quickly solved the Pendleton case, not the extra 200 cops on the streets.

"Was that just a coincidence then, the timing that it came right after Hadiya was killed and there was such national attention?" we asked McCarthy.

"Yeah, probably was a coincidence," he said.

Probably. He's not sure. He was out that day.

See, earlier in the show, McCarthy and the mayor took credit for pouring 200 extra cops onto the street to quickly solve the Pendleton case.

"I have called [Hadiya's parents] Cleo and Nate . . . either every night or almost every other night," Rahm Emanuel told reporters.

[The attention] got results. Just two days after Hadiya was gunned down, McCarthy made an announcement:

"We are going to take approximately 200 sworn officers and reassign them from administrative assignments to field duties," he told reporters.

Just a coincidence.

"The law enforcement surge immediately flooded Chicago's streets and neighborhoods with the power and presence of hundreds of uniformed cops.

"Before a flame becomes a fire, to put it out," Emanuel told reporters, "and, uh, have the resources to do that."

And then, just two weeks after Hadiya Pendleton's death, 18-year-old Michael Ward and 20-year-old Kenneth Williams, ID'd by police as Gangster Disciples, were arrested and charged with first-degree murder.

*

Now, when questioned by 48 Hours, McCarthy sees how that sort of preferential treatment is problematic. Think about how other parents feel.

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NOTE: In a sense, Homicide Watch is intended in part to at least help combat this phenomenon. It's motto is "Mark every death. Remember every victim. Follow every case."

This has not been the approach of the traditional media, however, nor the police, apparently.

*

The Sun-Times is now attempting its own version of Homicide Watch, which is a fantastic move in theory, though the execution over the long term could be problematic without the necessary commitment of resources. So we'll see, but maybe it's a step in the right direction.

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ALSO: In 1993, the Tribune documented the murder of every child 15 years of age and under on its front page in an ambitious and resource-intensive series called "Killing Our Children." But, the paper learned, documenting death wasn't enough; in the following year it embarked on a series called "Saving Our Children" that examined causes of life-ending violence and possible solutions. That was 20 years ago, when twice as many Chicagoans were murdered every year than they are now. Perhaps that series should be revisited to see what's worked and what hasn't. And to remember that, for one year at least, every murdered child in the city was front-page news.

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See also: Watch Rahm Emanuel Lie To 48 Hours.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:48 AM | Permalink

Shock After Shock After Shock!

Hozac Blackout Fest at the Empty Bottle.

1. Wizzard Sleeve with Mr. Quintron on Saturday night.


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2. Verma on Saturday night.

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3. Chrome on Saturday night.

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4. Unnatural Axe on Friday night.

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5. Tyvek on Friday night.

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6. Buck Biloxi and the Fucks on Friday night.

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7. Cop City/Chili Pillars on Saturday night.

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8. FNU Ronnies on Saturday night.

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9. Negative Scanner on Thursday night.

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10. Eat Skull on Friday night.

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11. Sleaze on Thursday night.

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12. The Sueves on Sunday night.

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13. Games on Sunday night.

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14. Mike Rep & Tommy Jay on Thursday night.

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15. The Make-Overs on Thursday night.

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Blackout2013.jpg

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:53 AM | Permalink

May 20, 2013

The [Monday] Papers

For now:

* Watch Rahm Lie To 48 Hours.

Wow.

* State: Chicago Police Tortured These Seven Men.

Right here at home, protected by the code of silence.

* Chicago Baseball Teams Rated X.

Viewing not for children.

* The Cub Factor: Not Even Close.

It's not that the Cubs are close to being a contender because of the way they lose games; it's that the way they lose games are indicative of a team that isn't close to being a contender.

* The White Sox Report: Big Daddy At The Big A.

Papa John Ventura sees the same things all of us see.

* The Weekend In Chicago Rock.

Peter Murphy, Kanye West, Verma, Reagan Youth, Ledisi, Warren Franklin, Good Ground, T.I.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Hello, DOJ!

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 3:34 PM | Permalink

Not Even Close

The Cubs went 1-for-10 with runners in scoring position on Sunday, leading commentators to muse that if only they hit a little better in those situations, they'd be a winning team.

And if my grandmother had balls she'd be my grandfather, as the old saying goes.

Just like how the Cubs would have a winning record if the bullpen hadn't blown so many games early in the season. We're so close!

Beg to differ. See, that's what bad teams do. They don't hit with runners on, they blow games late, they hit but don't pitch, or pitch but don't hit . . . they might be good in one phase of the game, but playoff teams are good in at least two if not more phases of the game.

It's not that the Cubs are close to being a contender because of the way they lose games; it's that the way they lose games are indicative of a team that isn't close to being a contender.

Week in Review: The Cubs took two of three from the Rockies before dropping two of three to the Mets. If they can maintain that pace, they'll finish eight games under .500. They can't maintain that pace.

Week in Preview: The Cubs travel to Pittsburgh and Cincinnati this week. The Cubs have been the 16th best draw on the road in all the major leagues this season. That's 14 places above the league-worst White Sox, so there's that.

The Second Basemen Report: Darwin Barney got all six starts last week and managed to leave eight runners on base. For those of you not good at math, that's more than one runner per game. He did manage to draw his 12th walk of the season, though, giving him 73 for his four-year career. For those of you not good at math, that's an average of 18 a season. For those of you not good at baseball, that sucks.

The Not-So-Hot Corner Luis Valbuena, a natural second baseman, got four starts while and Cody Ransom got two. Valbuena used to play for the Indians. In his last season there, he hit .209 with a .227 OBP. That's how the Cubs were able to land him.

Prospect Joshua Warren Vitters, the Cubs third baseman of the future, is hitting .280 with a .333 OBP in Iowa. That translates to about a .209 average with a .227 OBP in the majors.

Wishing Upon A Starlin: Would-be Starlin Castro successor Javy Baez already has 19 errors in 38 games in Daytona, so he'll fit right in.

The Legend of Dioner Navarro: Only one pinch-hit opportunity last week and he failed to homer. The legend is quickly turning into myth.

Deserted Cubs: Tony Campana has his batting average up to .275 with a .315 OBP at Reno. He's heating up, people. (He's also 13-for-13 in stolen base attempts.) Meanwhile, Mark Grace mistakenly described as a former "slugger" as he vows to no longer drive drunk.

Bullpen Bullshit: Kevin Gregg hasn't given up a hit in 10 innings. Be fooled at your own peril.

Ameritrade Stock Pick of the Week: Shares of Secret Gates traded higher this week. Shares of Beer in Arizona fell.

Sveum's Shadow: 8 p.m. Dale Sveum's Five O'Clock Shadow remains three hours past as his team goes .500 for the week but looks like the same old Cubs doing so.

Shark Tank: Smarge's 3.49 ERA may make him a No. 1 in the Cubs' book, but it only makes him a No. 51 among all major league pitchers - tied with Jason Marquis.

Jumbotron Preview: Six thousand square feet of instructions for how to cheer.

Kubs Kalender: Wait 'til next year 2016.

Over/Under: Games until Jeff Samardzija enters a dead-arm phase: 1.

Beachwood Sabermetrics: A complex algorithm performed by The Cub Factor staff using all historical data made available by Major League Baseball has determined that the Cubs don't have a single prospect who will contribute this year - and maybe not next year.

The Cub Factor: Unlike Alfonso Soriano, you can catch 'em all!

The White Sox Report: Know the enemy.

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Contact The Cub Factor!

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 1:52 PM | Permalink

Watch Rahm Emanuel Lie To 48 Hours

On Saturday night, CBS's 48 Hours broadcast "The War In Chicago," described by the network thusly:

"An exclusive investigation inside the DEA's battle to win the war on Chicago's streets. Drugs, gangs and gun violence are killing hundreds a year. Innocent children are caught in the crossfire."

As well as questioning police chief Garry McCarthy and following the exploits of local DEA chief Jack Riley, CBS spent a lot of time with the parents of Hadiya Pendleton in what were the most heartbreaking portions of the show.

And Rahm Emanuel couldn't be bothered. This scene - captured on video - was played with about seven minutes left in the program:

"For months, 48 Hours tried to get Mayor Rahm Emanuel to sit down and talk about the drugs, gangs and street violence effecting his city, and how he plans to sustain the current level of police protection as the summer months approach.

"But he refused. So 48 Hours went to a press conference at City Hall:

Armen Keteyian: Hello, Mr. Mayor. I'm Armen Keteyian from CBS News in New York, I'd like to start on a different topic . . .

Mayor Rahm Emanuel: Wait a second . . . I'll get to you in a second, okay . . . I promise I'll answer your questions . . . okay . . .

"But he did not. After taking 15 minutes of questions on other topics, he turned and left the room."

You can see it for yourself here - just jump ahead to the 35:23 mark:

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Rahm Emanuel, everyone.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:34 PM | Permalink

The Weekend In Chicago Rock

You shoulda been there.

1. Peter Murphy at the House of Blues on Thursday night.


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2. Reagan Youth at Township on Friday night.

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3. Ledisi at the Shrine on Friday night.

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4. Verma at the Empty Bottle on Saturday night as part of the Hozac Blackout Fest.

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Expanded Hozac Coverage Coming Tuesday.

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5. Kanye West's "New Slaves" video at Millennium Park on Friday night.

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See also: Kanye West Video Shuts Down Wicker Park's Main Intersection.

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Not just Chicago, of course, but a worldwide event/stunt.

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6. Warren Franklin at Beat Kitchen on Saturday night.

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7. Good Ground at Reggies on Thursday night.

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8. T.I. at Adriana's in Harvey on Sunday night.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 11:29 AM | Permalink

SportsMonday: Kids At Home Should Not Watch Chicago's Baseball Teams

As the Cubs' Ryan Sweeney bumbled around the bases in the fourth inning on Sunday and eventually crash-landed at third, turning what should have been a lead-off triple into an absolute gift out for the Mets, it occurred to me again: So many major leaguers are the last guys a youth baseball coach wants his charges to emulate.

Sometimes you just can't believe these guys are playing at the highest level of baseball.

This season may be all about player development but we've said before that young players need to develop ways to win in addition to developing better swings and defensive mechanics. The Cubs have been playing better the last few weeks, providing some hope that the first half of this season won't be just another grim march in which the priority is profiling certain veterans in order to trade them later on.

But they took a big step back against the Mets on Sunday and there was no shortage of little things that could have made a big difference.

The first was Anthony Rizzo striking out with David DeJesus at third with one out in the first inning. DeJesus ended up stranded. Situational hitting demands at least making contact in that at-bat.

Then there was Travis Wood throwing a brutal high change-up to Mets rookie Juan Lagares. Lagares bashed it into the left-center field stands for his first major league homer to tie the game at 3 with two outs and two strikes in the seventh, tarnishing what was otherwise another strong start for Travis Wood.

Meanwhile, Starlin Castro committed another error on Saturday and still lacks plate discipline though he's in his fourth season with nearly 2,000 major league at-bats behind him.

With 34 errors on the season so far, the Cubs trail only the Washington Nationals (38) among all teams in horrible fielding. (The White Sox lead the American League with 31 errors, good for fifth-worst overall as the National League is really stinking it up this year.)

So it can truly be said that the Cubs are lacking fundamentals in all phases of the game.

Let's return to Sweeney, though, to reinforce our point.

it's true that he did redeem himself a few innings later with a solo home run. And he has been a solid platoon outfielder for the Cubs since he was signed off waivers earlier in the season.

But that didn't really make up for the blown opportunity during the previous turn of the batting order, especially in light of the Cubs eventually losing by a single run and in the process losing a three-game home series (2-1) that was absolutely there for the taking.

First of all, if there was any chance in the universe that he would have been thrown out, Sweeney should have stopped at second with a double. Throughout their development, base-runners are told and told and told and told to never make the first or third outs at third.

That's because a fundamentally sound team can then get the guy in from second without even another hit. Starlin Castro put the Cubs on the verge of that accomplishment in the aforementioned first inning with a flyout that advanced DeJesus to third. But then Rizzo, who had gone almost 40 at-bats without striking out heading into the game, picked a bad time to end his streak.

After stumbling and almost falling just after he rounded second, Sweeney still insisted on heading for third. And then he executed a brutally bad head-first slide. The guy was lucky he didn't hurt himself as he hit the ground chest first and failed to extend his arms. The ugliness of the whole thing made it easy for third base umpire Manny Gonzalez to call Sweeney out - without argument - though replays showed he might have gotten in there.

Sometimes just looking like a professional - like the whole of the Mets relay team on that play - can help calls go your way.

The same goes for a wild swinger like Castro, who isn't going to get the benefit of the doubt that batters with a razor-sharp sense of the strike zone do.

Wood is the least culpable of the bunch - mistake pitches happen to the best of them. But he should have had the advantage over a rookie with two strikes and two outs in the seventh inning of a game with his team down by one.

Nonetheless, when Wood began the season with eight quality starts (at least six innings pitched, no more than three earned runs given up), he had statisticians looking all the way back to Hippo Vaughn to find a previous Cub starting pitcher to do the same. Now that it is nine quality starts in a row to start the campaign, we have to go even deeper into the archives: Mordecai "Three Finger" Brown was the last local to do it and he did so in the magical year of 1908.

But still.

We did see a positive example at Wrigley on Saturday for all the kids to follow. Unfortunately, it came from a Met.

Coaches constantly talk about players adopting a different hitting plan based on circumstances. When the pitcher gets two strikes, for instance, a batter needs to focus on shortening up his swing and giving himself a better chance to make contact, put the ball in play and potentially make something happen, especially if there are runners on. (Unlike what Rizzo did in that first inning on Sunday.)

One of the things that has driven White Sox fans crazy this year has been Adam Dunn's absolute unwillingness to change his hitting plan no matter what the circumstance. He always swings from his heels even in a two-strike count. And he has absolutely refused to change up when teams deploy the radical defensive shift on him which puts three infielders on the right side of the diamond.

The Cubs deployed that sort of a shift on the Mets' Rick Ankiel on Saturday by moving third baseman Luis Valbuena - a natural second baseman - to the right side of the infield and leaving Castro all alone on the left.

Ankiel went to the plate knowing that his team, down by five in the seventh, just needed baserunners, so he accepted the gift formation and easily put a bunt down the third-base line for the infield hit.

Hey Adam Dunn, it wouldn't kill you to do the same sometime. Youth baseball coaches everywhere would thank you.

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

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:03 AM | Permalink

Big Daddy At The Big A

"Welcome to Orange County," the Southwest flight attendant blurted over the PA as the aircraft bounced onto the tarmac last Thursday.

The airport sits in the city of Santa Ana; we were looking forward to watching the Sox play in Anaheim. We had hotel reservations in Garden Grove, and before the two days had ended we think we may have been in Tustin, Irvine and maybe even Costa Mesa.

It's all Orange County, home of the Los Angeles - located in Los Angeles County - Angels of Anaheim. No wonder these guys are 10 games under .500. They're confused. They don't know who they are. Not Albert Pujols nor Josh Hamilton nor Mike Trout can make sense of this.

An expansion team in 1961, the Angels originally were the Los Angeles Angels. They played in Wrigley Field - no, not that one - the former home of the Pacific Coast League team of the same name for one season before sharing Dodger Stadium the next four years.

Then owner Gene Autry got his own place, and the Angels moved to Anaheim into what today is known as Angel Stadium. In 52 years of existence, the team has had four names: Los Angeles Angels (1961-64); California Angels (1965-96); Anaheim Angels (1997-2004); and presently the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.

The name game continues when it comes to the ballpark. Angel Stadium originally was Anaheim Stadium until 1998, when it morphed into Edison International Field of Anaheim. That lasted only until 2003 when the energy conglomerate pulled out. Today it's simply Angel Stadium or the Big A.

Angels Stadium.jpg

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The Big A.jpg

I like the place. It's the fourth-oldest major league park behind Fenway, Wrigley and Dodger Stadium. While a number of renovations have been undertaken over the years, it has the feel of an older park. The further back you climb in the grandstand, the darker it gets, and the concourses feel like a ballpark rather than a shopping mall. The iron railings cordoning off sections of seats are reminiscent of Comiskey Park, and entering the park is a breeze: go through the gate, up the ramp, and you're there.

The Sox blew into town - I mean, county - after coming to life in Minnesota with wins on Tuesday and Wednesday. The 9-4 win on Wednesday afternoon featured 14 hits including a couple of home runs off the bat of Adam Dunn, and our guys made only one error in the two games, that coming when the webbing of Dunn's glove broke. That's not an error; it's equipment malfunction.

Getting to the Big A early for Thursday's game, we saw quite a few Sox fans, all of whom were happy to be in Orange County, especially since they were able to find the ballpark amidst the urban sprawl.

Seeing a couple about our age enjoying a pre-game meal and sporting Sox garb, we asked whether they were from Chicago.

"No," said the gentleman, "we're here because we have someone on the team."

Yeah, sure, I'm thinking. Maybe a distant cousin or that cousin's brother-in-law.

"Who's that?" I asked.

"Robin Ventura," he replied.

Turns out that John and Darlene Ventura had driven down from their home in Santa Barbara County - we'll stick with this county thing - for the weekend series.

Venturas.jpg

In the next 15 or 20 minutes, we had pretty much summarized what the Sox need to do to improve. It's didn't come as much of a bulletin when John disclosed that he had the MLB package so that he sees all the Sox games. I opined that the hits started coming in Minnesota, to which he replied, "Yes, but they need to play defense."

Papa Ventura is a big fan of his son having the team take infield and outfield practice prior to the first game of each series. In addition, five hours prior to the team's 4-2 win in Minnesota last Tuesday, Robin called a 45-minute practice session to emphasize fundamentals such as positioning, hitting the cutoff man, and playing tight defense. His dad thought that was a dandy idea.

Although we were talking baseball with the parents of the White Sox manager, it seemed more of a Sox-fan-to-Sox-fan exchange. John Ventura sees the same things all of us see. Like all Sox fans, he wants the club to play better, win more games, move up in the standings. He just happens to be the manager's dad.

Of course, the Venturas and all the Sox fans at the Big A were treated to a couple of sweet wins in the first two games of the series. On Thursday, the Angels played a very Sox-like game by committing two errors (both by shortstop Erick Aybar) and walking three batters (all by reliever Michael Kohn) in a Sox three-run eighth to give the game away 5-4.

Even Mr. Everything, Mike Trout, set up the winning rally by making an ill-advised attempt to nail Alejandro De Aza at third base with no one out on a hit by Alexei Ramirez. Trout had no chance to get De Aza, the throw was wide, and Ramirez alertly took second on the play. This kind of play has been typical of miscues the Sox have made this season. It's no coincidence that the Sox and Angels lead the American League in errors.

On Friday, Chris Sale continued his mastery of the Angels by shutting them out in 7 2/3 innings of work. The Angels are happy not to have to face Sale again this season. In two games the talented lefty has blanked the Halos - yet one more name for this franchise - over 16 2/3 innings on a yield of only four hits while striking out 19.

Unfortunately, the weekend resulted in two losses for our athletes as they head back home to face the Red Sox in a three-game set starting tonight. Hector Santiago had a rare wild streak on Saturday after his teammates had staked him to a 4-0 lead. Santiago walked four in three-plus innings, and three relief pitchers added six more walks in the 12-9 defeat. Even though the Sox pounded out 17 hits, they fanned 15 times. It was an ugly game.

And on Sunday, Jake Peavy, who has had terrific command this season, couldn't find the plate. Two of the five batters he walked came around to score and the Sox never recovered in the 6-2 loss.

Nevertheless, it was a 4-3 road trip in which the team began to hit and played acceptable defense in spots. Gordon Beckham is rehabbing in Charlotte and is expected back this week. His presence alone should immensely help the Sox catch and throw the ball.

One thing is certain. When the White Sox touched down last night at O'Hare, no one said, "Welcome to Cook County." Our mayor might not be much of a baseball fan, but it's Rahm and not Toni Preckwinkle who welcomes visitors to Chicago.

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

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1. From John Ventura:

That was a very nice article, very well written. Enjoyed visiting with you and your wife and hope the rest of your trip was enjoyable.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:08 AM | Permalink

State Commission: Chicago Police Tortured These Seven Men

The Illinois Torture Relief and Inquiry Commission (TIRC) voted to send seven alleged police torture cases to the Chief Judge of the Criminal Court for evidentiary hearings. The seven are (links and parens by Beachwood):

* Jackie Wilson
* Jaime Hauad (third poem)
* Tony Anderson (No. 3)
* Darrell Fair (Along with Hauad, a non-Burge case)
* Clayborn Smith
* Harvey Allen
* Vincent Wade

In each case, the commissioners voted unanimously that there was "credible evidence of torture" based on the record of the cases.

Each case was investigated by TIRC executive director David Thomas. In three other cases the commissioners voted that there was not a sufficient evidence available to them to refer the cases. Those three were William Atkins, Drew Terrell and Joseph Davis.

In [five] cases police detectives associated with police commander Jon Burge and his "midnight crew" of torturers were involved in interrogating the suspects. In all cases they defendants had moved in their initial trials to suppress their confessions on the grounds they were coerced.

"It's an important victory that the TIRC has been provided the funds to function again," commented Frank Chapman, a leader of the Chicago Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression. "This is the last relief available to the hundreds of people who are in prison today as a result of being tortured and falsely convicted."

The Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority has allocated $160,000 of its budget to fund the TIRC, which was mysteriously defunded by the Illinois legislature last year.

"However," Chapman said, "even though the TIRC members are very dedicated to their task of reviewing these cases, in three years they've been able to refer only a dozen cases for review by the chief judge. At this rate, most of these men will die in prison.

"Every case in which any detective with a record of involvement in torture should be automatically reopened by the state's attorney. But more than that, these police officers should be indicted and held to account for their crime.

"This further underscores the need for an elected Civilian Police Accountability Council (CPAC) with the power to initiate federal prosecution of police officers who abuse the civil rights of the people in violation of federal law. That's why we are calling for a mass march on City Hall to pass CPAC legislation on August 28."

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See also: The University of Chicago's Chicago Police Torture Archive.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 5:02 AM | Permalink

May 18, 2013

The Weekend Desk Report

At least we know what our mayor might be smoking soon.

Market Update
You know, for a second there, the Navy Pier renovations seemed like a bargain. Then we realized the $110 price tag was a typo.

Into Darkness . . .
What can you expect from this summer's hottest sequel? Well, despite a lot of noise about heroes rising, it's almost guaranteed to disappoint.

Business As Usual
So a well-connected son with suspect credentials lands a massive contract? Yup, must be Chicago.

Truth And Consequences
Finally this week, three people actually died last night in 11 shooting incidents. Meanwhile nothing was still happening outside Saks on the Mag Mile.

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The Weekend Desk Tip Line: Into light.

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Weekend Special: Follow The Citywide Three-Day March Protesting CPS Closings Through This Twitter Feed.

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The Sound Opinions Weekend Listening Report: "Legendary bassist Peter Hook remembers Ian Curtis and Joy Division. And later in the show, Jim and Greg review new releases from up-and-coming Chicago MC Chance the Rapper and indie headliners Vampire Weekend."

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The Flying Saucer Weekend Brunch Report: Ask for the secret specials list.

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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.

The New Chicagoans

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A panel of journalists, activists and thinkers discuss how 21st century Chicago is becoming home to recent migrants and how this influx of new citizens and workers plays into the evolution of the city.

Sunday at 9 a.m. on CAN TV21.

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How to Promote Leadership & Advocacy in the 21st Century

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The Black Women Lawyers' Association of Greater Chicago hosts Newark Mayor Cory Booker.

Sunday at 11 a.m. on CAN TV21.



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Grady's Notebook: Rufus Hunt

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Host Grady Davis interviews aviation historian Rufus Hunt.

Sunday at 1 p.m. on CAN TV19.



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LGBT Suicide Prevention Symposium

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The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention brings together mental health experts and members of the LGBT community to discuss suicide prevention research and techniques.

Sunday at 1 p.m. on CAN TV21.



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Celebrating Diversity: Asian/ Pacific American Heritage

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Celebrate Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month with cultural demonstrations from across the region, including Puja Indian Dance, Filipino Martial Arts, Chinese Paper Cutting, and Japanese-style drumming.

Sunday at 3:30 p.m. on CAN TV21.


Posted by Natasha Julius at 7:54 AM | Permalink

May 17, 2013

The Beer Thinker: Craft Favorites

In honor of Chicago Craft Beer Week, running May 16 to May 26, here is a list of a few of my favorite Chicago beer things:

Favorite Chicago Beers of 2013 So Far: Spiteful Ghost Bike and Malevolence; 18th Street Brewery Sinister' Pipeworks Raspberry Truffle Abduction; Begyle Neighborly Stout.

Favorite Chicago Beers of 2012: Revolution Very Mad Cow and E. Norma Gene; Goose Island Baudoinia; Half Acre Big Hugs, Two Tugs and Akari Shogun; Pipeworks Coffee Break Abduction; Finch Secret Stache Stout and Fascist Pig.

Favorite Chicago Craft Brewery of 2012: Pipeworks Brewing. They made a commitment to produce new brews at a breakneck pace, and the results have been interesting - sometimes great (their Abduction series of stouts; their Ninja series featuring different breeds of hops), sometimes less so (their Berliners and a cranberry holiday beer were ambitious, but maybe a little over the top).

Either way, they set the pace for what turned out to be a breakthrough year for craft beer in Chicago. At a time, when everyone in town was looking for something new every week, Pipeworks was delivering.

Favorite Chicago Craft Brewery of 2013: Spiteful Brewing. Spiteful's G.F.Y. Stout got all the notice before the brewery really got going, but the rest of its lineup, including Ghost Bike, Malevolence Russian Imperial Stout, Bitter Biker IPA, and Burning Bridges Brown Ale, is where the attention really belongs.

Favorite Chicago Craft Beer Bar: Fischman Liquors & Tavern, 4780 N. Milwaukee Ave. Sure, this has a lot to do with it being very close to home for me, but the Fisch is also unique among the throng of increasingly popular craft beer bars for (so far) hanging onto its identity as a neighborhood "slashie," where you're as likely to find an old guy drinking Pabst without irony as you are to find a young craft brewery employee sipping Evil Twin Imperial Biscotti Break.

Favorite Chicago Craft Beer Store: Capone's Liquor & Food, 3678 N. Elston. First of all, it's nearly impossible to choose one from among a long list that also includes West Lakeview Liquors (knowledgeable staff, extensive European selection), Fischman's (nice community vibe), The Beer Temple (smart owner, modern look and feel, tight craft focus), Puerto Rico Food & Liquors (great neighborhood place, zero elitist attitude), Cardinal Liquors (big selection), Binny's (ditto), Golden Leaf (nice staff who remember regulars), Bottle & Cans (best place for a build-your-own-six pack), and more. They are all fantastic in different ways, but Capone's seems to me to have the broadest and deepest selection specifically of Chicago brews - not only everything that everyone in Chicago is brewing, but also enough of it that new arrivals usually last past the first hour on the shelves.

Favorite Chicago Craft Beer Event: Festival of Wood and Barrel Aged Beer. The Illinois Craft Brewers Guild knows how to put on a party, and chose the right place - the aptly-named Skyline Loft at the Bridgeport Arts Center. Huge room, nice view, very well organized, and most importantly, a lot of new and experimental beers you won't find anywhere else.

Favorite Chicago Craft Beer Surprise: Flesk Occam's Razor Smash. For this I'll go outside the city limits to west suburban Lombard, where Flesk Brewing has been doing some interesting stuff in recent months, the topper being this single-malt, single-hop beer that is simple, clean, crisp, and refreshing. It's like a macrobrew re-imagined by someone with a soul.

Favorite Craft Beer of 2013 From Outside The Chicago Area: Lakefront Bridge Burner Special Reserve Ale, Milwaukee. I'm not sure if this is more an amber or a strong ale, as some Beer Advocate folks describe it, or something else, but it has many layers of flavor - earthy, kind of nutty, sweet like dried fruit, maybe even a little chocolatey, and finally just a little hoppy. It's hard these days to find something that doesn't immediately taste like something else, but when I tasted Bridge Burner a month ago, the first word that came to mind was "unique."

Favorite Chicago Craft Beer Trend: Riffing on Belgian and French influences. Sure, Goose Island and Two Brothers have been doing this for years, and other new breweries have popped up with Belgian inspiration as part of their mission statement, but it's cool to see so many takes on Belgian IPAs, Belgian Ryes, Dubbels, Biere de Gardes and more. They prove you can describe a beer as bready, sour or tasting of dried fruit and actually mean that you like it.

Least Favorite Chicago Craft Beer Trend: Wax-dipped bottles. Like the Belgian/French movement, it's not just a local thing, but I would love to see the local guys take a stand against it. It makes opening a beer a messy pain in the butt, and I actually cut my finger once while trying to open a wax top that seemed to have hardened into cement. Sometimes it serves a purpose to mark different batches of beers, but to me it's a nuisance that is going to result in wax flakes on the counter, on the floor and possibly in my beer.

Beer Wire
* The official Chicago Craft Beer Week schedule.

* Chicago magazine interviews the cicerone at Bangers & Lace.

* Slate features a bitter beer manifesto against the hops mafia.

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Previously in The Beer Thinker:
* Tapping Lincoln Square
* Size Matters
* Lagunitas Changes Everything
* Make Beer, Not War
* Collaboration Brewing
* Summer Brew
* Mothership Goose
* The Pumpkin Is A Fruit, An Ale And A Lager
* Barreled Over

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Dan O'Shea is The Beer Thinker. He welcomes your comments.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:30 AM | Permalink

The [Friday] Papers

"Making the case to close Ericson Academy on the West Side, Chicago Public Schools officials stressed that it would cost $9.6 million to fix the 51-year-old building. What they didn't point out in materials provided to parents was that they planned to spend nearly as much this summer on repairs to Sumner Elementary, where Ericson students would be reassigned," the Tribune reports.

"District officials said one downside of Calhoun Elementary, also slated for closing, was its lack of air conditioning in every classroom. Yet records that were not part of the district's presentation on closings show the designated replacement school, Cather Elementary, would require the installation of 33 window units to bring cooling to every room.

"Mayor Rahm Emanuel's controversial push to close 53 elementary schools, set to be voted on by the school board next week, has been accompanied by a blizzard of numbers and assertions aimed at demonstrating the cutbacks are prudently crafted and financially wise for a system in fiscal distress.

"But a Tribune review of documents related to the closings raises questions about how CPS used information to promote and defend its plan. In many cases, the district appears to have selectively highlighted data to stress shortcomings at schools to be closed, while not pointing out what was lacking at the receiving schools.

"In fact, total renovations to several of the schools slated to take in students would cost millions of dollars more than the estimated cost of fixing up the buildings where those children are currently enrolled, records show."

I would say this is astonishing if it weren't so unsurprising. CPS has lied - let's not be afraid to use that word - about school closings at nearly every turn. To wit:

* CPS Tries To Hide Acknowledgement That It Overestimated Supposed Savings From Schools Closings By A Whopping $122 Million. (And that was before today's Trib report.)

* CPS Conveniently Forgets To Count Special Ed Students.

* CPS Secretly Alters Class Size Formula So It Can Declare More Schools "Underutilized."

* CPS Declares Demographic Loss Of Five Times As Many Students As Facts Show.

And that's just a sampling.

From the Trib:

"But parents and teachers at some schools on the closing list have accused CPS of spreading misinformation about their facilities. Michelle Rose, the grandmother of three students at Ericson, was furious when CPS sent a flier home contending that the school lacked the science and computer labs like ones promised at Sumner. This summer's work at Sumner is only a start; the district estimates complete renovations will run a total of $24.5 million.

"We have two computer labs, two mobile computer labs, we have a science lab, we have two pre-K classrooms, so I don't know why no one saw this," said Rose, a volunteer at the school.

(See also Linda Lutton's report for WBEZ on the Ericson math teacher who discovered that CPS can't add.)

That's par for the course. CPS officials don't seem to know their own district. Or they aren't willing to let the facts get in the way of their plan.

"Take the officer who oversaw the public hearing on closing Delano Elementary," WBEZ reported. "Delano is not on probation. The proposed receiving school, Melody, is on probation - a fact CPS had not mentioned in its presentation before the hearing officer.

"Such an omission gives credence to those who believe the process is flawed," the hearing officer wrote in his report.

Here's a fact: CPS is basing the largest mass school closing in U.S. history on faulty facts.

(And remember: It's not that hearing officers found that "just" 14 of the 54 proposed school closings were based on flawed premises, but that just 14 hearing officers had the guts to say it.)

It's also quite clear that CPS officials are willfully misleading the public. Take $165,000-a-year communications director Becky Carroll, who is trying harder to sell whoppers than Burger King.

Last month, Carroll wrote this in a WTTW online chat:

"Regarding Aldermen Fioretti's claim on walks: On average students will walk less than 2 blocks more to their welcoming school then they currently walk to their existing school."

Catalyst found Carroll's statement to simply not be true.

Today, the Tribune agrees with Catalyst:

"Chicago's plan to close 53 elementary schools has created a number of fears for parents, among them that their children might have to walk a significantly greater distance to get to their new schools," the paper reports in a sidebar to its other story.

"District officials have insisted that is overblown. 'For neighborhood students that will not receive transportation, the average increase in distance from their home to their school building will be less than two blocks,' says a 'Fact Check' statement released by Chicago Public Schools several weeks ago.

"The database used by CPS to calculate that claim, obtained by the Tribune under the Freedom of Information Act, tells a more complicated story.

"For children who aren't eligible for busing, the average walk to a new school in the coming year will be almost twice as far as it is now, increasing from about a third of a mile to nearly six-tenths of a mile, the data show."

This is madness. It has to stop.

The Best of Chicago Beer
Our man on beer weighs in.

Reboot Redistricting
Change Illinois.

Epic Stories Of . . .
. . . The Great Migration, Bruce Springsteen & Wage Theft Avengers.

The Week In Chicago Rock
Not clear you shoulda been there.

Chicago's Last Wooden Alley
And the blockheads who saved it.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: With a choice of sides.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:27 AM | Permalink

Local Book Notes: Epic Stories Of The Great Migration, Bruce Springsteen & Wage Theft Avengers

1. DuSable Museum Now Has A Book Club.

"Introducing the DuSable Museum Book Club, which provides a unique forum to discuss exciting and emotive literature related to African American history and culture. Be among the first to take part in these dynamic learning experiences, starting with our first selection The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America's Great Migration, presented in collaboration with One Book One Chicago.

"The Warmth of Other Suns is Isabel Wilkerson's historical study about the The Great Migration and the Second Great Migration, the movement of blacks out of the Southern United States to the Midwest, Northeast and West between 1915 and 1970.

"The book intertwines a general history and statistical analysis of the entire period, and the biographies of three persons: a sharecropper's wife who left Mississippi in the 1930s for Chicago named Ida Mae Brandon Gladney; an agricultural worker, George Swanson Starling, who left Florida for New York City in the 1940s; and Robert Joseph Pershing Foster, a doctor who left Louisiana in the early 1950s, for Los Angeles.

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"The DuSable Museum Education Council presents The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America's Great Migration, A DuSable Museum Book Club Discussion. Sunday, May 19, 2 p.m. - 5 p.m.

"The DuSable Museum Book Club discussions are facilitated by The DuSable Museum Education Council and include a light reception.

"General Admission is $5.00 and FREE for DuSable Museum Members."

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"With a Chicago Public Library card, the e-book can be downloaded to any device - iPad, Kindle, etc. Here is the link to the e-book of this title for download: http://goo.gl/wue5s. New to Chicago Public Library e-books? http://goo.gl/9hHr9."

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WGBHForum/Published on Sep 6, 2012:

"Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Isabel Wilkerson discusses her book The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America's Great Migration, presented by Harvard Book Store. Wilkerson chronicles the decades-long migration of black citizens who fled the South for northern and western cities, in search of a better life. From 1915 to 1970, this exodus of almost six million people changed the face of the U.S."

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2. Springsteen on Springsteen via Chicago.

"One day in late 1973, the mailman delivered a review copy of Bruce Springsteen's just-released second album," Jeff Burger writes for No Depression.

"I'd barely heard of him before the LP arrived but the more I played it the more captivated I became. So I called the publicity department at Columbia Records and said I'd like to talk with Bruce. A couple of weeks later, on January 15, 1974, he phoned me at home and I interviewed him for an article that ran that March in a then-popular national music magazine called Zoo World.

"Flash forward nearly four decades. A writer contacted me out of the blue via this very No Depression website and told me he was putting together an anthology of Tom Waits interviews for publication by Chicago Review Press.

"He'd unearthed an interview I'd done with Waits for Melody Maker back in 1974, and he wanted to use it in the book. I said OK and wound up having a few email exchanges with the publisher, during which I asked whether Chicago Review Press might ever be interested in a similar book on Bruce Springsteen. Next thing I knew, I was staring at a deadline for what became Springsteen on Springsteen: Interviews, Speeches, and Encounters."

Click through to No Depression to read an excerpt.

See also: Chicago Review Press.

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3. Let's See Hollywood Make A Superhero Movie About This.

"Worker advocates have turned to a new tool to educate low-wage employees about wage theft," the Catholic News Service reports.

"Welcome the comic book.

"The first issue of Wage Theft: Crime & Justice, published by Chicago-based Interfaith Worker Justice, may not be coveted by comic book collectors, but clients at worker centers around the country are poring over the bilingual book to learn how best to regain wages owed to them by deceitful employers."

Click through to read more.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:23 AM | Permalink

Chicago's Last Wooden Alley

"I was strolling up State Parkway on Chicago's Near North Side. After stopping to pay my respects at the former Playboy Mansion, I was heading up to some Louis Sullivan-designed row houses. As I approached North Avenue, a sign caught my eye. It said 'Wooden Alley.' Ah-ha, this was something I had heard about; this was the last alley in Chicago that was still paved with wooden blocks.


"For the most part, these aren't the original blocks but new ones installed a few years back before it was added to the National Register of Historic Places. There is a small section just off State where the remaining original blocks were placed.

"The price for paving the alley in 1909 was just a little over three thousand dollars. For repaving the alley the cost was around four hundred thousand dollars. To find out more about wooden paving and a group of 'blockheads' effort to restore this alley follow this link."

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See more video from ChiTown View!

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:03 AM | Permalink

The Week In Chicago Rock

You shoulda maybe been there.

1. Fall Out Boy at the Riv on Thursday night.


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2. Limp Bizkit at the House of Blues on Wednesday night.

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3. The Chicago Rhythm Kings uploaded to YouTube on Tuesday.

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4. "Chicago" by Cosmos & Tengis uploaded to YouTube several times this week.

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5. Krisiun at Ultra Lounge on May 6, uploaded today.

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6. Jesse Cook at Park West on Saturday night, uploaded to YouTube on Thursday:

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See also: Tweeting The Riot Fest Lineup.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:38 AM | Permalink

Reboot Redistricting

A growing coalition of prominent and diverse organizations on Thursday announced a grassroots campaign to fix the broken process of drawing General Assembly districts in Illinois.

CHANGE Illinois! launched the exploratory phase of an effort aimed at giving voters in the November 2014 election the opportunity approve a state constitutional amendment distancing legislators from the map-drawing process by establishing a nonpartisan, independent commission to create fair, representative districts.

CHANGE is a diverse, statewide coalition representing everyday residents, business and civic leaders, and nonprofit organizations from around the state and across the political spectrum demanding fair, honest government. Much of its leadership is drawn from the coalition of more than 50 groups representing 2 million Illinoisans whose policy analysis and public education helped lead to the 2009 passage of Illinois' first major campaign finance reform in a generation.

"Changing the way Illinois does redistricting is the best, surefire path to a more fair and effective government in Illinois," said George A. Ranney, Jr., chair of the CHANGE Illinois! Board of Directors. "Our proposal will bring sunlight to the redistricting process and make our elected representatives more responsive and accountable to the voters who elect them."

The amendment would create a citizens' redistricting commission made up of a group of Illinoisans who, via a standardized qualification process, would reflect the state's geographic and demographic diversity. It would replace the flawed provision in the 1970 Constitution, which has resulted every 10 years in either a highly partisan map approved by the legislature and governor, or one decided by a partisan name drawn out of a hat as a "tie-breaker."

Through a politically neutral process, the commission would draw new lines for legislative districts every decade, following the release of U.S. Census data, beginning in 2021. That process would ensure that district lines reflect shifts in population over time and fairly represent the people of Illinois.

"Our draft amendment would create a fair, open redistricting process that allows the people of Illinois to hold politicians accountable," said vice chair Deborah Harrington. "We will give Illinoisans' the chance to prove that their votes matter."

"Redistricting in Illinois is still a back-room process, one that fails to give the people of Illinois the transparency and accountability they deserve," said board member Sylvia Puente, executive director of the Latino Policy Forum. "Our nonpartisan redistricting commission would bring the process out into the open, where it belongs, clearing the way for a more diverse candidate pool of public servants to lead."

Studies show that Illinois citizens are tired of corruption and want a say in how to improve their government. According to a Simon Institute Poll, a whopping 77 percent of Illinoisans believe corruption in Illinois government is widespread. Yet partisan redistricting currently prevents voters from holding politicians accountable. According to State Board of Elections data, only 4 percent of legislative races from 2002-2010 were competitive, and in nearly half of elections, there wasn't even a challenger. Last year's General Assembly election was even less competitive.

"Right now, the politicians are choosing their voters instead of the people choosing their legislators," said vice chair Peter Bensinger. "Legislators owe their allegiance to the leaders who draw the maps. Under our proposal, they will owe their allegiance to the voters."

Newton Minow, former chairman of the Federal Communications Commission and senior counsel at Sidley Austin LLP, as well as a founding member of the CHANGE coalition, added, "The best way to clean up Illinois government is to put the voters in charge - and here is the way to do it."

In the coming weeks, CHANGE Illinois! will meet with as many Illinois residents as possible to solicit their ideas to finalize the amendment text and the plan to put the reform amendment before voters in 2014.

"The current redistricting process is conducted behind closed doors. Our proposed process - and our entire campaign - will be open and transparent," said Ryan Blitstein, CHANGE Illinois! president and CEO. "We will bring together community leaders, people at the grassroots, and everyone in between in support of redistricting reform."

At the beginning of June, the group will make revisions and place the final amendment language on petitions. Thousands of volunteers will begin collecting the 298,399 signatures needed to place the initiative on the ballot. The signature-collection process will continue through April 2014, and then Illinoisans will get to vote for fair change in state government on Nov. 4, 2014.

The following organizations have signed on to support CHANGE's redistricting reform initiative:

* Asian Americans Advancing Justice-Chicago
* Better Government Association
* Business and Professional People for the Public Interest
* Chicago Appleseed Fund for Justice
* Common Cause Illinois
* Illinois Campaign for Political Reform
* Illinois Public Interest Research Group
* Latino Policy Forum
* Metropolis Strategies
* Reboot Illinois

For more information about the initiative and a full list of supporters, visit www.ChangeTheDistricts.org.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:24 AM | Permalink

May 16, 2013

The [Thursday] Papers

I just turned in a freelance op-ed for Crain's that should go up tomorrow (or early next week) and there's nothing left in the tank for a column today, so too bad. Besides, I have other money-seeking activities to attend to.

Here's what we've got elsewhere on the site today:

* Carol of the Bulls: This Season's Team Had More Heart Than Hallmark On Valentine's Day.

* Tweeting The Riot Fest Lineup: Blink-182 vs. Motörhead.

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Bonus Tweet:

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Bonus Audio:

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Bonus Video:

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* The Epic Double Fail Of Chicago's Red-Light Cameras. I've added on a couple paragraphs about the city's response to the IG audit, which I wrote about and posted yesterday, instead of making a whole 'nother post about it, because there wasn't as much to say as I thought. Plus, I just lost heart.

* Meet Chicago Comics. Don't be overwhelmed, we're here to help.

* Meet The Cerebral Palsy Doctor Born With Cerebral Palsy. One of America's best.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Now accepting WIC.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 2:56 PM | Permalink

Tweeting The Riot Fest Lineup

"Riot Fest is bringing the carnival back to Chicago's Humboldt Park from September 13-15," Pitchfork reports.

"This year's lineup features Public Enemy, Dismemberment Plan, Dinosaur Jr., Best Coast, Bob Mould, Mission of Burma, Guided By Voices, FLAG, DeVotchka, GWAR, Stars, Toots and the Maytals, Peter Hook, Surfer Blood, Blondie, Rocket From the Crypt, X, Atmosphere, Motörhead, Violent Femmes, Bad Brains, Fall Out Boy, Blink-182, White Mystery, Maps and Atlases, and more."

Here's the way the lineup was received on Twitter.

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But mostly, the tweets have been like this one:

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riotfest.jpg

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:38 AM | Permalink

Carol Of The Bulls

Our way of saying thanks in 10 parts.

1. Here Come The Bulls, There Went The Bulls.


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2. Banged-Up Bulls End Season That Never Began For Rose.

3. Top 10 Plays of Nate Robinson's Career.

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4. Season Was A Successful Failure.

5. Derrick Rose's Gmail Inbox.

6. Just sayin'.

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7. Joakim Noah's Play(s) Of The Day.

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8. Luol Deng's Instagram For The Ages.

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9. Tom Thibodeau Inside The Locker Room.

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See also: If Tom Thibodeau Managed The Cubs.

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10. "Say this for the gritty, resilient, short-handed Bulls: They did not succumb meekly here Wednesday," Barry Jackson writes for the Miami Herald. "[They] fought to the end and never gave up."

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:16 AM | Permalink

Meet Chicago Comics

Don't be overwhelmed.


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See also:

Nerd City montage.

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Owner talks about why Wednesdays are so important.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:01 AM | Permalink

Meet The Cerebral Palsy Doctor Born With Cerebral Palsy

"When Dr. Jan Brunstrom-Hernandez was born prematurely and diagnosed with cerebral palsy, doctors told her parents she had a zero chance of survival," AP reports. "She survived, thrived, and now treats cerebral palsy patients in St. Louis."


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"My mission is to radically change the future for patients with cerebral palsy. I want every child to grow up dreaming their own dreams and pursuing their own goals. I will inspire you to help! I will challenge you to change your perceptions and raise your expectations so that you, like I, can dare to believe in miracles!"

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"Dr. Jan doesn't see me as a kid with disabilities; she sees me as a kid with possibilities."

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See also:
* One of America's Top Doctors
* Academic Profile

Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:21 AM | Permalink

May 15, 2013

The [Wednesday] Papers

"If state lawmakers were to approve the slots, Chicago would become the first U.S. city outside Nevada to offer gambling at an airport," the Tribune reports.

"Currently, only McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas and Reno-Tahoe International Airport offer slot machines.

"In both those airports, the blinking lights and ringing bells of the slots are visible on the terminals, greeting travelers as they walk off a plane. The Emanuel administration, however, does not envision the same kind of atmosphere in Chicago.

"If this does move forward, it will not be like Las Vegas where slots are visible as soon as you walk off a plane,' said Sarah Hamilton, a spokeswoman for the mayor. "Any slot machines would be in a secured, separate area similar to a private airline club - where individuals can access, but they are not readily visible to people traveling through the airport."

Isn't being readily visible to people traveling through the airport the whole point? Otherwise you might as well put slots in Arby's.

Road Trip
"Less than half of state road fund money spent in the last decade went to direct road construction costs, a new audit revealed Tuesday," the Springfield State Journal-Register reports.

"Instead, Auditor General William Holland found the road fund was used for things like state police and secretary of state salaries and was overcharged for its share of expenses related to employee group health insurance and workers' compensation."

In Illinois, you can't spell fund without the f-u-n.

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Plus, this:

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Paging Rachel Schteir
"At one point the plaintiff's lawyer, Shelly Kulwin, told Trump, a New Yorker, to wait until he finished with the question, saying sharply, 'We're in Chicago. We go a little slower.'"

Hole Dance
"As the housing market recovers, bidders are emerging for the note on the stalled Chicago Spire condominium property, once slated to be North America's tallest building," the Wall Street Journal reports.

Build That Screw!

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From the Beachwood Tweet Deck:

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Elsewhere On The Beachwood Today

* IG: Rahm's Red Lights An Epic Double-Fail. A Beachwood analysis.

* Fantasy Fix: Core Keepers. Meet the Brewer whom Cub fans wish Starlin Castro could be.

* Tree-Kangaroo Awareness Day Is Coming! Start preparing now.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Highly visible.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 11:08 AM | Permalink

IG: Red-Light Cameras An Epic Double-Fail

"The City of Chicago Office of Inspector General (IGO) has completed an audit of the City's Red-Light Camera (RLC) program," the IGO announced Tuesday.

"The audit found that Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) was unable to substantiate its claims that the City chose to install and maintain red-light cameras at intersections with the highest angle crash rates in order to increase safety."

Perhaps even worse, the audit found that if City Hall instead is really using the red-light program to generate revenue instead of increase safety - something Rahm Emanuel has vigorously denied - it is doing a poor job of that, too. Revenue, it turns out, isn't being maximized.

So we have the worst of all worlds. Let's take a look.

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"Additionally, the audit found that:

  • CDOT was unable to produce evidence that it continually evaluates cameras for relocation, as stated in its "Intersection Prioritization Steps for Relocations." Further, since the program started in 2003, the City has relocated only ten cameras from five intersections out of the present total of 384 cameras at 190 locations.
  • For one set of cameras, the City is spending nearly 56% of the purchase price on maintenance expenditures each year.
  • CDOT was unable to verify the accuracy of the information it uses to determine RLC installation locations.

"'The City cannot effectively manage its programs unless it measures its programs," said Inspector General Joe Ferguson. 'In addition to finding that the City cannot prove RLC installation locations are based on safety considerations, we discovered a striking lack of basic record-keeping and analysis for this $70 million program.'

"The audit, which was designed to answer nine questions posed by six members of the City Council, sought to determine if red-light camera installations were made based on CDOT's stated primary criterion of reducing angle crashes to increase safety.

"The IGO made two recommendations for the City going forward. First, the City should establish and follow clear criteria for its decisions on where to locate automated traffic law enforcement systems. Second, the City should retain records and verifiable documentation of the process for each location decision.

"CDOT's response is included in the audit. CDOT stated that it intends to review the RLC installation and removal criteria and determine what, if any modifications should be made going forward. Additionally, it has pledged to work with the winning RLC vendor to review current camera locations and ensure that the criteria have been met and appropriately documented at intersections where cameras are now located."

CDOT was hardly cooperative with the audit, however. Let's dig in.

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"The limited information provided by CDOT to the IGO did not provide a sufficient basis to show or substantiate that RLC installation decisions were based on the primary criterion of reducing vehicle angle crash rates. Therefore, the IGO could not verify that the City followed its own stated criteria for selecting RLC locations."

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"We were unable to determine the reliability of the data due to limitations such as lack of access to underlying source data, age of requested data, and discrepancies among datasets provided by CDOT. However, CDOT claims that this data was used by management to assist in identifying potential intersections for RLCs. While the conclusion of this report is not solely based on this data, the use of this data could lead to inaccurate conclusions."

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"The specific questions asked by members of the City Council overlapped significantly with the IGO's objective of determining whether red-light camera installations were based on the primary criterion of reducing angle crashes to improve safety. Therefore, we present our findings below as answers to the City Council's questions."

1. Has the City installed, and is the City installing, red-light cameras in locations with the highest number of angle crashes?

"CDOT data and documentation provided an insufficient basis to determine whether CDOT selected RLC locations based on the highest angle crash rate."

CDOT referred further questions to Plow Tracker.

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"CDOT was unable to provide the purported underlying list of 3,000 signalized intersections with the highest number of angle crashes."

Maybe it's in the hidden drawer.

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2. Has the City used, and is the City using accurate data in determining the location for red-light cameras?

"CDOT data and documentation was insufficient to verify the accuracy of information CDOT states was used to determine RLC installation locations."

That's because city officials swallow their paperwork after memorizing it.

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3. CDOT has established the Red Light Prioritization Model to calculate annual Total Crash Rate and Angle Crash Rate at each intersection. How often is the Model reviewed, and who is responsible for verifying its accuracy?

"CDOT data and documentation was insufficient to determine or substantiate that camera locations were selected based on the Red Light Prioritization Model."

CDOT: Chicago Department of Telepathy.

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"CDOT provided the IGO with a memo from the current Deputy Director or CDOT's Division of Project Development dated April 29, 2008 and addressed to the RLC Project Manager. The memo established the angle crash rate as the primary criterion for RLC installations. Current CDOT personnel speculated to the IGO that RLC installations prior to that memo were based on highest angle crash rates. However, no current CDOT employee had any first-hand knowledge to substantiate this nor did they provide any documentation supporting that speculation."

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"In addition to the Top 205 Angle Crash Rate list dated October 10, 2007, CDOT provided the IGO with Top Angle Crash Rate lists for the years 2003, 2004, and 2005 which were the only years they could locate. These additional reports, however, were undated therefore we could not determine their creation date. CDOT could not show, nor were we otherwise able to determine if or how these lists were actually used in determining installations. Even if one assumes that these lists were used to select the 67 intersections where RLCs were installed prior to January 1, 2008, 22 of those intersections, or 33 percent, are not on the lists.

"CDOT stated that it is responsible for verifying the accuracy of the data used to compute the angle crash rates for signalized intersections which may become candidates for RLC installation. CDOT reported that it obtains crash data from the Chicago Crash Database, maintained by the Chicago Police Department, and traffic volumes from the Chicago Average Daily Traffic database, maintained by CDOT, to create intersection annual Total Crash Rates and Angle Crash Rates.

"CDOT stated that the Chicago Average Daily Traffic database was last updated in 2006."

So even when CDOT did provide data, it was older than Suri Cruise.

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"CDOT was unable to provide the Crash Database data that it represented as having been used to determine the various Top Angle Crash Rate reports dating back to 2003."

Maybe it was destroyed in a crash.

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4. How often does the City reassess if RLCs should be relocated?

"CDOT stated that it used the 'Intersection Prioritization Steps for Relocations,' created in May 2010, to evaluate RLCs for possible relocation, but was unable to produce data that might substantiate this claim."

Chicago Department of Making Shit Up As We Go (CDOMSUAWG).

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5. Is CDOT following its own prioritization steps for RLC relocations?

"CDOT was unable to produce evidence that it continually evaluates cameras for relocation, as stated in its 'Intersection Prioritization Steps for Relocations.'"

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6. Are field evaluations for potential red-light camera installations being done in accordance with the appropriate traffic engineering standards?

"The IGO could not determine if field evaluations for potential RLC installations were done in accordance with appropriate traffic engineering standards to ensure that signal timing is set properly."

CDOT could not provide data proving there is a field.

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"The IGO requested the traffic engineering standards used by CDOT and any documentation to show that RLC installations and signal timing were completed in accordance with the standards.

"CDOT did provide the IGO with the standards but did not provide any documentation supporting that signal timing is set to the required minimum standards or regularly monitored for adherence to those standards."

CDOT also could not provide its address, phone number or code for the copy machine.

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7. Which City departments, consultants, and/or employees of Redflex are involved in the decision to install or relocate RLCs, and how?

"CDOT management reported that Redflex provided the City's RLC program Project Manager with a site survey report indicating whether cameras could or could not be installed in locations proposed by the City based on limitations such as physical barriers at the site.

"The IGO requested the documentation provided by Redflex to the City's Project Manager. CDOT responded that it could locate only some engineering drawings that would not be of much help in evaluating the selection."

The Beachwood agrees that these drawings are not useful.

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"The IGO asked CDOT about the decision-making process for RLC installation specifically at the intersection of Kingsbury and Ontario in 2007. The Chicago Tribune reported on November 22, 2009 that then-Alderman Burt Natarus claimed responsibility for having RLCs installed there despite a lack of crashes at the intersection.

"The article quoted City officials as stating that 'Natarus had no influence on the decision to install the cameras there.'

"CDOT has not responded to the IGO's inquiry about the decision to place RLCs at this intersection."

A non-denial non-denial.

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8. What data does the City collect regarding the amount of revenue generated by each red-light camera, and what influence does that revenue data have on the decision to maintain or relocate cameras?

"CDOT has relocated cameras from only five intersections since the inception of the RLC program and the IGO did not find evidence that the amount of ticket revenue influenced those camera relocation decisions."

Those were Burt's calls.

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9. What is the total cost of the cameras, including installation and annual maintenance?

"The City paid Redflex a total of $106,271,823 through March 8, 2013, but CDOT did not have documentation breaking out purchase, maintenance, repair, and other costs by RLC location.

"CDOT maintains no records of the purchase, maintenance, operation, repair, and additional costs for each individual camera.

"Therefore, the IGO was not able to determine (nor could CDOT otherwise explain) how much of the $106,271,823 paid to Redflex was associated with each of these cost categories.

"Without this information, CDOT could not answer basic cost questions such as:

  • What did the equipment cost?
  • How much was spent on repairs at each installation?
  • Should CDOT have replaced the equipment or repaired it?
  • Is the RLC program cost effective?

"CDOT did provide documentation obtained from Redflex showing the contract from which each camera was purchased. However, the data was incomplete and could not be used to calculate the exact amount of equipment purchased."

I can see why.

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"We were able to determine, from the information provided and our own independent review of invoices, that purchase of the 384 cameras cost approximately $19.1 million.

"CDOT also provided documentation that the City is currently paying the vendor $1,564,920 monthly for maintenance and operational support.

"This includes $967,200 for 248 cameras ($1,150 for maintenance and $2,750 for operational support per camera), and $597,720 for 136 cameras ($1,645 for maintenance and $2,750 for operational support per camera).

"For the cameras purchased at $24,500 each under the most recent Redflex contract, the annual maintenance cost is $13,800, or 56 percent of the purchase price."

Can't they just use iPhones?

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"A fundamental management function is the ability to identify various program costs. Without knowing how much is being spent in various categories, management does not have the necessary information to make informed operational decisions such as:

  • Should we repair or replace equipment?
  • How much should we budget for repairs or new equipment?
  • Should maintenance agreements on equipment continue at 56 percent of the original
    purchase price?"

Good questions.

"CDOT requested an extension from the IGO in order to provide further information, but was denied," CDOT says in its response.

I think we can all be reasonably sure it wouldn't have been worth the wait.

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Also from CDOT's response, included in the audit:

"From CDOT's perspective, the most important aspect of the RLC program is that it is designed to increase safety on City streets."

And yet, it cannot supply documentation to prove that.

"Recent analyses of Chicago's red-light enforcement program found that dangerous angle crashes were reduced by an average of nearly 30% when a high angle crash rate intersection was equipped with red-light cameras."

That may be - and it's a shaky proposition - but the IGO found that the most dangerous intersections were not the ones always equipped with the cameras. And CDOT doesn't cite the analyses.

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"CDOT reviews the RLC effectiveness every year to year and a half. To date red-light cameras at five intersections have been relocated based on the reduction in angle crashes at the intersection to zero angle crashes."

So cameras are only relocated if crashes are reduced to zero at a particular intersection? What if crashes went from 100 to five? Aren't crashes being reduced significantly enough at other intersections to warrant relocation?

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"CDOT thanks the IGO for their work on the Red Light Camera Installation Audit."

No you don't.

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See also: Rahm Caught Lying About Speed Cameras.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:50 AM | Permalink

Fantasy Fix: Core Keepers

The No. 2 player in standard format Yahoo! fantasy baseball leagues is someone who not a lot of people heard of before this season, let alone had listed on their preseason draft rankings: Brewers shortstop Jean Segura. Ranked at No. 264 overall in Yahoo! leagues before the year began, Segura has six home runs, 13 stolen bases and an OPS of 1.000 through the first month-and-a-half of the season.

He has all the markings of a highly valuable fantasy baseball player (power, speed, plate patience) and if he keeps up his current pace, he could be considered a top 10 fantasy player going into 2014. He is also only 23 years old. In short, he is the player Cubs fans would like Starlin Castro to be.

For these reasons, if I'm a team owner in a keeper league, Segura is someone I would be willing to overpay for in a trade. Because of Segura's position, I would probably even be willing to give up someone like Bryce Harper,, who looked like the No. 1 fantasy player for the first two weeks of the season, but is now hanging around No. 30.

What's interesting about this season is that while we were all falling over ourselves to see who could draft young Harper first before the season started, there are a bunch of young players emerging this year whom I wouldn't mind building a team around in a keeper league. Segura is one, but here are a few others:

Manny Machado, 3B, BAL: Not yet 21, Machado is hitting .331, with five HRs, 24, RBI, 28 runs scored and 5 SBs. He's young enough that we are likely to see those power and speed numbers rise in the coming years, and it's easy to see him as the top-ranked fantasy 3B by 2015 or 2016.

Anthony Rizzo, 1B, CUBS: The Cubs just signed him to a big deal at the age of 22, and you should, too. He is still fighting his way back from an early slump, but is among the league leaders at his position in hits (42), HRs (9) and RBI (28).

Shelby Miller, SP/RP, STL: Another 22-year-old, Miller has been talked about far less than Mets sensation Matt Harvey, but a 5-2 record, 51 strikeouts and just 11 walks in 42 innings, and a 1.58 ERA currently have him ranked higher than much bigger names.

Expert Wire
* Bleacher Report says it's time to pick up Travis Wood, otherwise known as the reincarnation of Hippo Vaughn, such is his ability to throw quality starts.

* CBS Sports.com muses about trading the struggling Matt Kemp.

* Rant Sports keeps an eye on the keepers of tomorrow.

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

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 3:07 AM | Permalink

Tree Kangaroo Awareness Day!

On Saturday, May 25, the Milwaukee County Zoo will offer special activities highlighting the importance of the Matschie's tree kangaroo, a critically endangered animal from Papua New Guinea. This day marks the second annual celebration for the National Tree Kangaroo Awareness Day.

kanga.jpg

In celebration of the day, zookeepers will present a talk on Matschie's tree kangaroos at 2 p.m. in front of the exhibit. The talk will include information on the critically endangered status of these animals, along with details on their natural history in the wild.

Take a trip "Down Under" to the Australia Building where you'll meet our three resident tree kangaroos: mother Kiama, father Kokoda, and youngster Tia. At just 18 months of age, Tia can be seen on indoor exhibit with Kiama, a 15-year-old kangaroo who has produced a total of five joeys. In 2011, she was the only captive North American tree kangaroo to produce offspring. Tia is at the age when a female joey starts to be independent and leave her mother. She now spends a lot of time near Kiama, but is becoming more self-confident.

Following the talk, zookeepers will show some of the enrichment items the tree kangaroos enjoy most. Enrichment helps to keep the animals healthy and active, allowing them to show different behaviors like they would in the wild. Some of these items include willow browse - tree branches the animals eat as it offers them a varied food option. The keepers will also provide the animals with puzzle feeders. These feeders are specially designed to encourage the animals to work the "toy" to get to the food inside.

Visitors can also learn more about the Tree Kangaroo Conservation Program which is spearheading wildlife and habitat conservation initiatives to help this endangered species survive. The Milwaukee County Zoo is proud to be a financial supporter of this important conservation program.

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Beachwood Bonus Video:

1. "NEW footage of the joey Matschie's tree kangaroo in the mother's pouch. Taken June 8 - Sept. 12, 2013. Incredibly rare footage of a joey Matschie's tree kangaroo inside the mother's pouch. This video was filmed by a Lincoln [Nebraska\ Children's Zoo animal keeper. The mother, Milla, is one of the highest offspring producing Matschie's tree-kangaroo in captivity. This year this is the world's second known captive birth of this extremely endangered animal."

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2. "A six-month-old endangered Matschie's tree kangaroo joey begins to emerge from its mother's pouch for first time since it was born in December 2010 at Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle. Woodland Park Zoo's Tree Kangaroo Conservation Program (TKCP) is saving tree kangaroos and their wild habitat in Papua New Guinea."

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3. All growns up in Toronto.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:08 AM | Permalink

May 14, 2013

IRS Office That Targeted Tea Party Also Disclosed Confidential Docs From Conservative Groups

The same IRS office that deliberately targeted conservative groups applying for tax-exempt status in the run-up to the 2012 election released nine pending confidential applications of conservative groups to ProPublica late last year.

The IRS did not respond to requests Monday following up about that release, and whether it had determined how the applications were sent to ProPublica.

In response to a request for the applications for 67 different nonprofits last November, the Cincinnati office of the IRS sent ProPublica applications or documentation for 31 groups. Nine of those applications had not yet been approved - meaning they were not supposed to be made public.

(We made six of those public, after redacting their financial information, deeming that they were newsworthy.)

On Friday, Lois Lerner, the head of the division on tax-exempt organizations, apologized to Tea Party and other conservative groups because the IRS's Cincinnati office had unfairly targeted them.

Tea Party groups had complained in early 2012 that they were being sent overly intrusive questionnaires in response to their applications.

That scrutiny appears to have gone beyond Tea Party groups to applicants saying they wanted to educate the public to "make America a better place to live" or that criticized how the country was being run, according to a draft audit cited by many outlets.

The full audit, by the Treasury Department's inspector general for tax administration, will reportedly be released this week. (ProPublica was not contacted by the inspector general's office.)

Before the 2012 election, ProPublica devoted months to showing how dozens of social-welfare nonprofits had misled the IRS about their political activity on their applications and tax returns.

Social-welfare nonprofits are allowed to spend money to influence elections, as long as their primary purpose is improving social welfare. Unlike super PACs and regular political action committees, they do not have to identify their donors.

In 2012, nonprofits that didn't have to report their donors poured an unprecedented $322 million into the election. Much of that money - 84 percent - came from conservative groups.

As part of its reporting, ProPublica regularly requested applications from the IRS's Cincinnati office, which is responsible for reviewing applications from nonprofits.

Social welfare nonprofits are not required to apply to the IRS to operate. Many politically active new conservative groups apply anyway. Getting IRS approval can help with donations and help insulate groups from further scrutiny.

Many politically active new liberal nonprofits have not applied.

Applications become public only after the IRS approves a group's tax-exempt status. On Nov. 15, 2012, ProPublica requested the applications of 67 nonprofits, all of which had spent money on the 2012 elections.

(Because no social welfare groups with Tea Party in their names spent money on the election, ProPublica did not at that point request their applications. We had requested the Tea Party applications earlier, after the groups first complained about being singled out by the IRS. In response, the IRS said it could find no record of the tax-exempt status of those groups - typically how it responds to requests for unapproved applications.)

Just 13 days after ProPublica sent in its request, the IRS responded with the documents on 31 social welfare groups.

One of the applications the IRS released to ProPublica was from Crossroads GPS, the largest social-welfare nonprofit involved in the 2012 election.

The group, started in part by GOP consultant Karl Rove, promised the IRS that any effort to influence elections would be "limited."

The group spent more than $70 million from anonymous donors in 2012.

Applications were sent to ProPublica from five other social welfare groups that had told the IRS that they wouldn't spend money to sway elections.

The other groups ended up spending more than $5 million related to the election, mainly to support Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney. Much of that money was spent by the Arizona group Americans for Responsible Leadership.

The remaining four groups that told the IRS they wouldn't engage in political spending were Freedom Path, Rightchange.com II, America Is Not Stupid and A Better America Now.

The IRS also sent ProPublica the applications of three small conservative groups that told the agency that they would spend some money on politics: Citizen Awareness Project, the YG Network and SecureAmericaNow.org.

(No unapproved applications from liberal groups were sent to ProPublica.)

The IRS cover letter sent with the documents was from the Cincinnati office, and signed by Cindy Thomas, listed as the manager for Exempt Organizations Determinations, whom a biography for a Cincinnati Bar Association meeting in January says has worked for the IRS for 35 years. (Thomas often signed the cover letters of responses to ProPublica requests.) The cover letter listed an IRS employee named Sophia Brown as the person to contact for more information about the records. We tried to contact both Thomas and Brown today but were unable to reach them.

After receiving the unapproved applications, ProPublica tried to determine why they had been sent. In e-mails, IRS spokespeople said ProPublica shouldn't have received them.

"It has come to our attention that you are in receipt of application materials of organizations that have not been recognized by the IRS as tax-exempt," wrote one spokeswoman, Michelle Eldridge. She cited a law saying that publishing unauthorized returns or return information was a felony punishable by a fine of up to $5,000 and imprisonment of up to five years, or both.

In response, ProPublica's then-general manager and now president, Richard Tofel, said, "ProPublica believes that the information we are publishing is not barred by the statute cited by the IRS, and it is clear to us that there is a strong First Amendment interest in its publication."

ProPublica also redacted parts of the application to omit financial information.

Jonathan Collegio, a spokesman for Crossroads GPS, declined to comment today on whether he thought the IRS's release of the group's application could have been linked to recent news that the Cincinnati office was targeting conservative groups.

Last December, Collegio wrote in an e-mail: "As far as we know, the Crossroads application is still pending, in which case it seems that either you obtained whatever document you have illegally, or that it has been approved."

This year, the IRS appears to have changed the office that responds to requests for nonprofits' applications. Previously, the IRS asked journalists to fax requests to a number with a 513 area code - which includes Cincinnati. ProPublica sent a request by fax on Feb. 5 to the Ohio area code. On March 13, that request was answered by David Fish, a director of Exempt Organizations Guidance, in Washington, D.C.

In early April, a ProPublica reporter's request to the Ohio fax number bounced back. An IRS spokesman said at the time the number had changed "recently." The new fax number begins with 202, the area code for Washington, D.C.

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Comments welcome.


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:54 AM | Permalink

Local TV Notes: The Illinois PR Firm That Cannot Get You On TV

1. Duh.

"Can you pay a public relations firm to make you a relationship expert on TV, such the Oprah Winfrey Network or CNN? Uh, no."

"But that doesn't prevent an Illinois PR firm from trying to convince hopefuls that a hefty fee will land them a casting call and an appearance on national shows such as Oprah Winfrey, Tyra Banks, Rachael Ray, Today and CNN," the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports.

Click through to see how the scam works - or doesn't.

2. For Some Reason This Is News.

Brittany Payton Eats With Care To Stay In Shape For Wedding.

3. This Actually Is News.

"A popular Chicago Spanish-language TV host and producer is accused of molesting a young girl he was giving music lesson to," NBC Chicago reports.

"Elpidio Contreras, 53, faces felony charges of Predatory Criminal Sexual Assault of a victim under the age of 13. His bond was set at $500,000.

"Contreras hosts the popular music show El Show De Juan Contreras on TV Azteca America WJYS, and also appears in numerous TV commercials for local car lots."

4. Upload Of The Week: Elvis Day 1987 On Fox Chicago.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:58 AM | Permalink

SportsMondayTuesday: Reality Bites Bulls

In 2008, I had the chance to attend Game 1 of the National League Division Series between the Chicago Cubs and the Los Angeles Dodgers at Wrigley Field. I arrived late (I know, I know, I'm a bad fan - all I can say is I'll try to do better), and found that Mark DeRosa had launched an opposite field home run in the second inning and the Cubs led 2-0 in the third.

The place was lousy with optimism. It was palpable. The Cubs had won 97 games that season, we were clearly better than the team from Southern California, and we were led by master strategist Lou Piniella. It was only a matter of time before the team recorded the three necessary victories over the Dodgers and moved on to what we were sure would be better things in the National League Championship Series and then maybe even the World Series.

One problem, though: Cubs starting pitcher Ryan Dempster wasn't particularly sharp. He had already handed out several bases on balls and, then in the fifth, he walked the bases loaded. Up stepped young Dodger first baseman James Loney and just like that, the walks came a cropper. Loney launched a grand slam and in an instant a two-run lead became a two-run deficit.

And in another instant, tens of thousands of Cubs fans shut it down. Again, it was palpable. How could we have been so stupid as to have believed in this team?

Of course we were going to lose again, just as we had every single, stinkin' season for the previous century. How many times were we going to do this to ourselves?

Sure enough, the Dodgers went on to win that game 7-2 and swept the best-of-five series in what seemed like record time.

I was reminded of this experience Monday night at the Bulls game - to a lesser degree, to be sure, but similar in kind.

When I arrived, that irrational sense of optimism was already gone with the Bulls already down double-digits (still a bad fan - I have excuses I swear but already in retrospect they do not suffice). A familiar sense of resignation filled the arena the rest of the way; it had been silly to get our hopes up about winning this game and evening the series. Instead, the Heat won 88-65 to take a commanding 3-1 lead in the series.

And now we know we are going down again.

Of course this Bulls team has already thrilled with three glorious playoff victories in particular. The triple-overtime Nate Robinson Show in Game 4 against the Nets goes down in heroic local sports lore, as does the Game 7 victory in Brooklyn (unbelievably, the franchise's first-ever Game 7 win on the road) and the stunning Game 1 triumph in Miami.

Of course, this Bulls team doesn't carry a century of baggage like that 2008 Cubs team did. But last night was a simple thrashing put on a Chicago team by a Miami team that is clearly, simply better.

The thing we will never know is whether this Bulls team could have knocked off the Heat with a healthy Kirk Hinrich and Luol Deng. (I'm not even talking about Derrick Rose here because he chose to never even enter the discussion of on-court matters this season despite hanging around the whole way - a neat trick really.)

Hinrich and Deng could have made a difference; could have accounted for another victory or maybe even two against LeBron James' squad. But one suspects they wouldn't have put the Bulls over the top. And if they had been there, that first glorious victory in Miami would have been a little less so.

And so the Chicago sports fan moves on.

Good luck with the rest of your rehab, Derrick. We hope you figure out sooner rather than later that you've had unrealistic expectations for your return (that the knee would at some point actually feel better than it did before you hurt it), and that you just need to get out there and play at this point.

There is always next year.

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See also:
* Tribune: Bulls Hit New Lows In Blowout Loss To Heat.

* Sportige: Nate Robinson Finally Runs Out Of Luck & Confidence.

* New York Times: Heat Take Control From The Start.

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

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:19 AM | Permalink

The [Tuesday] Papers

Obama's America.

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Why Benghazi Matters
What I wrote last October:

"A clear-eyed review of the coverage and official statements clearly show that the Obama administration went to great lengths to portray the Benghazi assault as one of spontaneous mob reaction to a crappy anti-Muslim video. Why? Because a planned attack by Libyans upon a U.S. embassy consulate in which the ambassador is killed is a Tet moment; it demonstrates an organized opposition capable of such attacks that belie the rosy story we've been told about the president's brave intervention there. A spontaneous mob action spurred by a video, on the other hand, posits an ambassador's death as an 'accident' in the chaos of irrational extremists, even if aided by 'opportunists.'

"This is why this is important. We were misled - and not just to preserve the president's policy options (for example, not having to declare war on Libya or send troops or take retribution militarily, explicitly anyway, i.e., special forces are probably operating, but so the administration doesn't have to respond immediately and publicly) - but also on behalf of the president's political imperatives, particularly this close to an election.

"While Republicans have failed to articulate this dynamic, instead just repeating the apparent sin of not immediately labeling the attack as a terrorist act, i.e., in order to paint the president as a weak failure who does not stand up for America, the Benghazi critique remains essentially just as valid from a progressive perspective. But that perspective, one that takes great issue with the civil rights disaster this president has been as well as the his radically right-wing foreign policy approach that has gone further than Dick Cheney ever would have dreamed, including kill lists and civilian drone bombing campaigns, is missing from the media discourse."

Also, Benghazi was more CIA station than consulate, and a lot of nasty shit was run through there. Do your homework, people.

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Why IRS Targeting Matters

See also: IRS Office That Targeted Tea Party Also Disclosed Confidential Docs From Conservative Groups.

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Elsewhere In The Beachwood Today
* SportsMondayTuesday: Reality Bites Bulls.

* Sneaker Con Brought The Heat.

"With over 60 vendors peddling their wares at the Broadway Armory Park, each with their own brand of heat of all makes, models, and sizes, there was something for sneakerheads of all ages and something for every collection."

* Local TV Notes: No, This Illinois PR Firm Cannot Get You On Oprah.

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Bonus Tweet:

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Matter.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:06 AM | Permalink

Sneaker Con Brought The Heat

"With over 60 vendors peddling their wares at the Broadway Armory Park, each with their own brand of heat of all makes, models, and sizes, there was something for sneakerheads of all ages and something for every collection," freshness reports.

Let's take a look.

1. The Promo Video.


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2. Standing In Line.

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3. Setting Up Tables.

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4. View From Above.

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5. Pickups, Unboxing And Review.

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6. Recap.

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See also:
* The Air Jordan Retro Chicago 10s Have Dropped.

* About A Song: Pumped Up Kicks.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 5:05 AM | Permalink

May 13, 2013

The [Monday] Papers

"Now under investigation by two state agencies, the United Neighborhood Organization is also facing tough questions on Wall Street from investors who lent tens of millions of dollars to help pay for the rapid expansion of UNO's charter-school network," the Sun-Times reports.

That's right - charter schools are a Wall Street play. Get it now?

*

"During a March 27 'investor update call,' UNO's chief executive officer, Juan Rangel, tried to reassure the Wall Street interests, who lent his organization $37.5 million in 2011 through state-approved bonds.

"He told representatives from Wall Street financial houses he felt UNO still had the support of state officials, according to a recording of the call. He said he expected Springfield would continue to bankroll construction of the new charter high school at 51st and St. Louis and that the half-built school would open, as planned, for next school year and 'ensure our long-term viability.'"

Click through to read the whole thing - including the suspicions of one financier who thinks there's more going on than we know about.

*

"The questions were prompted by Chicago Sun-Times reports on $8.5 million in state grant funds paid to companies owned by two brothers of Miguel d'Escoto, a top UNO executive."

From reader Jon Markel:

"Last fall Chase Bank had a commercial with Rodrigo d'Escoto from Reflection Window (and UNO Charter School) on its small business promotional website as an example of success story made possible by Chase. The recent events surrounding the reality of his business success made Chase rethink the role they played in his business's success. But the Internet has ways of remembering."

* The press release.

* The banner ad.

* Reflection Window website.

"And finally lets look at the difference between the cached and current versions of their webpage:"

Cached (from Jan 29, 2013). See fourth video.

Current. Video removed.

"I guess Chase Bank doesn't like promoting its competition in the sleazeball industry."

*

Also from the Sun-Times:
+ Audio of investors grilling Rangel.
+ Where UNO money comes from.

Oh, Bill
A Daley's Cry For Help.

No Such Thing As Free Parking
By Brendan Reilly.

Dodd-Frank Fairy Tale . . .
. . . Omits Grim Ending.

Blueprint Blues
Cubs' plan is at odds with itself. In The Cub Factor.

Red Line Red Alert
"The CTA promises a 'faster, smoother, better' experience," our very own Roger Wallenstein writes. "If only the Sox could do the same."

Lion Tacos & New Zealand Mutton
In our Random Food Report.

The Weekend In Chicago Rock
Including: Amy Rigby, 30 Seconds to Mars, Jason Molina, Mobb Depp, SOJA and a couple country dudes, one of which you've heard of.

SportsMonday
Will appear on Tuesday this week. And called SportsTuesday.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Reflections, pooled.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 2:46 PM | Permalink

Blueprint Blues

Did you know the Cubs are looking at the success of the Nationals as a blueprint for their own rebuilding?

Also, the Orioles and the A's.

And the Cardinals, the Reds and the Red Sox.

Oh, don't forget the Rays and the Pirates.

Why not throw in the Braves, the Giants and the Tigers?

Guess what: It's not really useful to look at other franchises for winning formulas.

Why?

Because every franchise (and every market) is governed by a unique set of circumstances.

And that's why their formulas are all different.

For example, the Cardinals have always had a strong farm system built on glue guys that can be plugged into the major league lineup and perform. But the idea that letting Albert Pujols go means they don't spend richly is a fallacy - they signed Carlos Beltran and extended Yadier Molina, for example. (And they badly tried to bring Pujols back.)

The Tigers built their team through a variety of means, but most importantly signing Prince Fielder to complement Miguel Cabrera in a monster lineup that now includes Torii Hunter hitting second, behind Austin Jackson, who came over in a trade with the Yankees. That's not to dismiss Justin Verlander, but an ace can't win a World Series on his own, as history shows.

The Giants have been sustained by the crafty moves of general manager Brian Sabean, probably the most underrated in the game.

Walt Jocketty, who helped build the Cardinals, has rebuilt the Reds.

Among small-market teams, the A's and Twins, for example, didn't take the same approach as much as some folks think they did; Billy Beane thought for quite awhile that defense was overrated and pioneered the Earl Weaver school of sabermetrics, while the Twins believed in defense so much they trained their staff to pitch-to-contact. They were also, in their successful days, free swingers (at least until at-bats when they became situational hitters).

Beyond that, teams must tailor their formulas to their home ballparks and their payroll potential. If you have extra money to spend, you can take chances in free agency (see the Yankees) as well as not having to work so hard trying to eke out games with the fundamentals. Power pitchers and monster hitters can then be your friend if you have enough of them to overwhelm your opponents.

The Cubs have never really figured out a formula, veering back-and-forth between trying to play Wrigley Field as a hitter's park and pitcher's park (it's both, depending on the weather) and utterly disregarding even the most simple of advance statistics like OBP for a long time. Now they are more data-oriented, even if the product on the field doesn't show it. And they are also the most profitable team in the majors, and generate the fourth-highest revenue, even if the front office doesn't show it.

The team has also, in more recent years, veered between building a farm system on a five-year plan (paging Andy MacPhail) and spending recklessly in the final years of Tribune Company ownership after years of cheaping it out.

Nothing has worked - and the latest plan doesn't show signs of being any better.

Unfortunately, the Ricketts' have a debt service to pay incurred when they bought the team from Sam Zell, and a father who apparently is demanding (or a son who is intent on showing) the kind of short-term economic return that we're not allowed to expect on the field in terms of performance.

The Ricketts' want short-term assets in their pockets today, while preaching long-term assets on the field years away. No baseball philosophy can overcome that kind of formula.

Week in Review: The Cubs beat the Rangers in a make-up game, split two games with the Cardinals, and took two of three from the Nationals in Washington to go 4-2 for the week. But don't get your undies in a bunch - it happens to the worst of them.

Week in Preview: The Rockies and Mets come in for three each. Wednesday is Law Enforcement Appreciation Night. On Friday, the first 20,000 fans get Budweiser Pitchers and/or Mugs. On Saturday, the first 10,000 fans get a Silicone Scoreboard Slap Watch, whatever that is. On Sunday, the first 10,000 children 13-and-under get mini-Starlin Castro figurines courtesy of Pepsi, which is trying to build childhood brand loyalty by sponsoring giveaways at baseball games in order to increase profits by through the unhealthy eating habits it hopes your kids adopt.

The Second Basemen Report: Darwin "Ian" Barney went 2-for-15 in five starts. Luis Valbuena got the other start. Barney is a smart ballplayer with all the right instincts (unlike his middle infield teammate), so we here at The Cub Factor have always thought he'd learn to take walks and drive up his OBP, but now he can't even hit for a respectable average. (Well, I always thought that; Cub Factor founder Marty Gangler was never much of a fan.) Barney is hitting .154 with a .275 OBP. That's Ian Stewart territory, and the shame of it is that they both have golden gloves.

The Not-So-Hot Corner Valbuena and Cody Ransom each got three starts. Dale Sveum has a huge man-crush on Valbuena, and with a .385 OBP, a relatively solid glove and a penchant for clutch hits, it's not hard to see why. But let's never forget that he's Luis Valbuena, whose career OBP is .301 - including this season.

Likewise, Ransom, who at 37 is 10 years older than Valbuena, is hitting .394 with an OBP of .444. His career numbers are .225 and .310 - including this season. So enjoy it while you can, Dale. But if you drink too much of it, you're in for a nasty hangover.

Prospect Joshua Warren Vitters is hitting .121 with a .193 OBP in Iowa. Maybe he should be moved to second base.

The Legend of Dioner Navarro: In one start he went 0-for-4 but notched a ground-out RBI; in his other start he went 2-for-3. He was not called upon to hit a pinch-hit home run this week.

(With a slash line of .282/.327/.369, the not-so-legendary Welington Castillo has come down to earth.)

Deserted Cubs: Tony Campana has his batting average up to .235 with a .262 OBP at Reno. Erstwhile Cub Randall Delgado took a no-hit bid into the sixth for the Aces last week. Eric Hinske is stinking it up for the D-backs, but still.

Bullpen Bullshit: Kevin Gregg hasn't given up a hit in 9 1/3 innings. Be fooled at your own peril.

Ameritrade Stock Pick of the Week: If anyone's buying shares of Kevin Gregg and you happen to have some left over from, say, a birthday gift from grandma at some point over the last 10 years, sell immediately.

Sveum's Shadow: 8 p.m. Dale Sveum's Five O'Clock Shadow recedes to 7 p.m. after pushing all the right buttons against the Nationals on Sunday - if pushing all the right buttons means Castillo deflecting Kurt Suzuki's throw to third with his bat without getting called for interference.

Shark Tank: Smarge gave up seven runs - five earned - in five innings and 73 pitches on Friday. Next: Dead arm (see Over/Under).

Jumbotron Preview: Six thousand square feet of the loudest commercials you've ever heard.

Kubs Kalender: Wait 'til next year 2016.

Over/Under: Games until Jeff Samardzija enters a dead-arm phase: 2.

Beachwood Sabermetrics: A complex algorithm performed by The Cub Factor staff using all historical data made available by Major League Baseball has determined that keeping Edwin Jackson in the rotation upon Matt Garza's return because of his big contract is just the sort of thinking we thought we were getting away from.

The Cub Factor: Unlike Alfonso Soriano, you can catch 'em all!

The White Sox Report: Know the enemy.

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Contact The Cub Factor!

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:16 PM | Permalink

No Such Thing As Free Parking

From the alderman's constituent e-mail newsletter.

Dear Neighbor:

At City Council on Wednesday, Mayor Emanuel introduced a new Parking Meter proposal to govern the remaining 71 years of this flawed, disastrous lease agreement. Although the new proposal includes some attractive components, there are controversial changes to meter hours that many aldermen do not support. In fairness to the Mayor, he inherited this horrendous contract from his predecessor and has spent much of his first two years in office working to find a way to get out of the contract or improve it for taxpayers. We are fortunate the Mayor has been so persistent in aggressively pushing-back against the parking meter company on our behalf.

To that end, the Mayor directed his Corporation Counsel Stephen Patton and Chicago's Chief Financial Officer Lois Scott to assemble a team of smart, talented lawyers and financial experts to deconstruct every aspect of the Lease for the purpose of identifying leverage opportunities to dispute annual multi-million dollar invoices being sent to the City by Chicago Parking Meters LLC (CPM) and to negotiate a better deal for taxpayers moving forward.

I applaud the Mayor and his team for their excellent work to secure a settlement agreement that would limit the City of Chicago's exposed liability on annual reimbursements to CPM for meters taken out of service by the City (for free handicapped parking, rush hour parking restrictions, etc.). The Mayor's team compelled CPM to accept our econometrics in calculating annual "true-up" money owed to the Company. Without this great work, the City would have been obliged to pay CPM roughly $20 million per year over the remaining 71-year lease (slightly over $1 billion). This is a big victory for taxpayers.

Unfortunately, the Administration's new proposal goes far beyond the legal settlement of the $1 billion in potential future liability for the City. At the Mayor's insistence, this proposal would also extend paid parking meter hours during the week and on Saturdays until 10 PM or Midnight for 29,000 of Chicago's 36,000 metered spaces - to offset the cost of "free" Sunday parking in less populous areas of the City.

This proposal would extend paid meter hours from 9 PM to Midnight across most of the 42nd Ward and extend hours from 9 PM to 10 PM for tens of thousands of meters located in other wards across Chicago. Over the past week, I have heard from hundreds of my constituents and hundreds more from across Chicago who object to the City Council lengthening meter hours in exchange for "free" Sunday parking in areas outside of the Central Business District and Near North side.

We all know nothing is truly "free" and this certainly applies to the Sunday parking proposal. Rest assured, families from every corner of the city will be paying for that "free" parking until 10 PM in their neighborhoods during the week. When they visit downtown for dinner, a movie, or concert they'll pay to park until Midnight. No matter where you live, you'll pay for that "free" parking one way or another.

Some aldermen have expressed concerns that "free" Sunday meters in their neighborhood wards could actually inhibit local businesses because those spots would be occupied all day and not turn-over for shoppers on a regular basis. Visitors could take advantage of those free meters by parking their car in a spot on Saturday night and not picking it up until Monday morning. In some wards, that would make it very difficult for residents to secure short-term street parking to support local businesses on Sunday.

Crain's Chicago Business recently editorialized against the proposed swap of extended meter hours in exchange for "free" Sunday parking saying: "instead of providing real relief, this renegotiated deal just pushes the slop from one trough to another." The Chicago Tribune Editorial Board also recently opined: "But here's what keeps gnawing at us. If this deal is so good financially for the city, why would Chicago Parking Meters LLC agree to it?" These opinions regarding extended meter hours are currently shared by a majority of aldermen on the City Council.

The Mayor has given the City Council a tight deadline to review this proposal: 28 days to review a tremendous amount of data and complex calculations - not to mention wading through the complex legalese contained in the 3-inch thick, phone-book sized settlement proposal we received five days ago.

Although 28 days is far better than the 72 hours the Daley Administration gave the City Council to review the original Parking Meter Lease - setting this artificial deadline to review such a complex proposal and reams of data is somewhat reminiscent of the very process that resulted in the City of Chicago making the mistake of approving this disastrous lease agreement in the first place.

In the meantime, I have also been meeting with municipal bond experts to try and identify ways for the City of Chicago to potentially buy-back this valuable public asset. Although we would have to potentially pay more for the asset than we originally leased it for - buying it back now could limit our exposure to future, costly litigation by CPM and allow the City to again control the asset decades before the Lease would be due to expire. Bond experts have informed me that this approach is within the art of the possible and I will continue to aggressively pursue this option.

I consider myself one of Mayor Emanuel's supporters on the City Council and have enjoyed a solid working relationship with him over the past two years. I truly believe his team did an excellent job negotiating a settlement to the $1 billion in potential liability over the term of the lease and I would vote to approve that good work in a heartbeat. However, extending meter hours until 10 PM or Midnight for more than 29,000 parking spaces across the City, six days a week, would be a burden for many families across Chicago and could result in yet another windfall for CPM. I simply cannot support this proposal.

I do not relish this public disagreement with the Mayor. But, as I proved during the Daley Administration, I will always stand up and oppose policies when I genuinely believe they could hurt downtown Chicago or the city at-large. My first loyalty as Alderman of the 42nd Ward is to the thousands of constituents who have trusted me with protecting their interests on the City Council.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:05 PM | Permalink

The Weekend In Chicago Rock

You shoulda been there.

1. Amy Rigby & Wreckless Eric at Schubas on Friday night.


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2. 30 Seconds to Mars at the Chicago Cultural Center on Thursday night.

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3. Mobb Depp at the Double Door on Thursday night.

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4. Brad Paisley in Tinley Park on Saturday night.

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5. Chris Young in Tinley Park on Saturday night.

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6. SOJA at the House of Blues on Friday night.

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7. Jason Molina tribute concert at the Bluebird in Bloomington, Indiana, shot by Robert Loerzel. Includes this video with Chicago's Lawrence Peters on vocals:

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:33 AM | Permalink

Red Alert On The Red Line

Compared to the thousands of people who use the Red Line to get to work every day, Sox fans really have little to complain about.

Starting Sunday, the CTA will close its nine southernmost stations on the Red Line, including 35th-Sox, which lets fans off just a half-block from the Cell. Five months from now, the CTA promises that the new tracks will make travel "faster, smoother, better."

We'll see about that, but in the meantime, fans going to U.S. Cellular on the "L" can use the Green Line - after transferring at Roosevelt - which lets them off two blocks further east. Judging from comments to a Sun-Times article posted on Friday, this will be a minor inconvenience. Sox vice-president of communications Scott Reifert went so far to say, "We really don't think it will have a huge impact on us."

The way the team has been playing, you wonder if Reifert was saying, "Impact? What impact? Why would anyone travel - on the 'L' or otherwise - to see this miserable team?"

But my guess is that Reifert has seldom, if ever, taken the "L" to work ,so closing the team's train stop the remainder of the season is no big deal to him in any case.

But it is for those who want a convenient, cheap way to get to the ballpark. While the team estimates that an average of only 3,500 fans use the "L" each game, my experience is that far more Sox faithful use public transportation, especially if a big crowd is expected.

As far as I can tell, the Sox's website hasn't even acknowledged the work scheduled for the Red Line. A couple of clicks leads one to information indicating that it's easy to get to the Cell on the "L:" just take the Red Line and exit at Sox-35th.

Even if you accept the front office's estimate, where's the love for those 3,500 diehards? Many are older folks on fixed incomes as well as students who are piling up debt and look forward to jumping on the "L" and going to the ballgame with minimum fuss. Sure, they'll need to walk just two additional blocks, but why minimize the "impact." They pay the same ticket price as the people who drive Mercedes'.

I also wondered what kind of reaction the CTA would receive if, say, it decided to shutter the Addison stop for five months during the baseball season. You think Tom Ricketts would say, "Just dumb luck. Wait 'til next year?"

There was a time when most people living outside the neighborhood spent hours traveling to 35th and Shields. Both the Kennedy and Dan Ryan Expressways weren't opened until the early '60s, and coming from the northern suburbs meant taking the Edens to Peterson and driving east to Lake Shore Drive before heading south again to the ballpark.

Thankfully, night games didn't being until 8 p.m., so we rarely missed the first pitch. It was easier for my golf buddy Sam Dicola, who grew up at 55th and Morgan and attended his first Sox game in the early '40s.

"Sometimes I walked over and took the Halsted bus that went down to 35th and I walked [to the ballpark] or the Racine Avenue bus and hooked up with the 35th Street bus," Sam told me last week. "It was one of those cars where the conductor could go out and pull the gizmo that attached to the electric line, a street car. It took 25 minutes to get there."

Sundays were extra special for Sam.

"There were seasons I went to all the Sunday doubleheaders," Sam said. "I spent my day there. I got there early enough to watch batting practice."

The Comiskey Park neighborhood had a rough reputation - at least among some white people - because it was located in a black area.

"I don't remember any discussion about that [in my house]," he said. "I used to stay late sometimes to get signatures. By the time I got home it might be getting close to dark. Often I was there by myself. I always felt comfortable."

Not everyone feels so comfortable this season at the Cell. Not because of racial tensions. No, the cold weather and the team's inexplicable poor performance have already tested the mettle of Sox fans. Had it not been for Chris Sale last night pitching a one-hit shutout and facing only 28 batters, the Sox would have fallen further from the .500 mark. As it was, they split six games last week.

(Sale's one-hitter was one of two masterpieces from last week. On Tuesday, the Mets' Matt Harvey allowed a lone infield hit by Alex Rios as he also faced 28 batters in a 1-0 Sox defeat. Sox hitters were helpless against a guy who looks like Cy Young material.)

The 3-2 loss Saturday night in front of almost 29,000 - I wonder how many took the "L" - was another agonizingly close, low-scoring game characterized by mistakes at the worst possible time.

The game was decided more or less in the third inning when catcher Tyler Flowers let a Jose Quintana pitch wiggle away from him, enabling Albert Pujols - not exactly a speedster - to score from third. Pujols used a bit of trickery and guile in eluding Quintana's tag. Neither team scored again.

And wouldn't you know it? Just the night before, Flowers let another one get by - he has four passed balls in this young season - letting in the last Angel run in the top of the seventh in a 7-5 Sox loss. (Though we must also point out that Flowers didn't get much help from reliever Matt Lindstrom, who stayed anchored to the mound as baserunner J.B. Shuck came down the line to score.)

Did I mention that the inning began with an error by third baseman Conor Gillaspie? Not the best way to behave in the late innings of a 5-5 game.

The week also was noteworthy on two other occasions. In Monday's makeup game in Kansas City, a game the Sox won in 11 innings on Jordan Danks' home run, the Sox managed four hits and a walk in the top of the ninth, all of which resulted in just one run. That's hard to do. But again on Friday in the bottom of the second inning, the Sox accounted for five hits and just two runs, thanks to Jeff Keppinger being thrown out at home to end the inning.

By the way, Danks the past two seasons has hit two homers, both game-winners. And within hours after each, he was sent back to the minors. If the guy is confused, who can blame him?

(All he did upon returning to Charlotte was team up with brother John for a special Mother's Day win.)

It's scary to think where the Sox would be without its starting pitching, especially Sale and Jake Peavy. They have an 8-3 record between them, an ERA of 2.94 with 94 strikeouts and just 20 bases on balls. All with a porous defense behind them.

And yet, almost 75,000 fans turned up at The Cell for the weekend series, a testament to the notion that "If it's reasonably priced, they will come." Without the ease of the Red Line, though, and with a team whose major achievement this season may be winning the errors title, that notion will be sorely tested.

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

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:52 AM | Permalink

Random Food Report: Lion Tacos, New Zealand Mutton & Honey That Isn't

Mmmm.

1. Tests Reveal Honey That Isn't; Fly-Attracting Effectiveness Not Yet Assessed.

In the course of reading an update on the latest attempt by lawmakers to require labels on all "genetically engineered" foods (below), we discovered a related story: almost all store-brand honey sold in the U.S. isn't, in fact, honey.

If you'd like more details, you should a) read the article or b) consult your local melissopalynologist.

While dated (the story ran in November 2011), we felt the article fit into the topic of this edition of the Random Food Report, namely: "mysterious food-like substances," or MFLS, if you will. Note: MFLS are a totally different thing than MILFs, although both go well with sweet, sticky toppings . . . like Nutella.

2. Government Attempting To Influence What People Eat and Drink.

Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR) proposed a new piece of legislation last month that would require the FDA to "clearly label" all "genetically engineered" (GE) foods approved by the agency. The Genetically Engineered Food Right-to-Know Act (or GEFRTKA, for short) should align nicely with public sentiment: Americans overwhelmingly believe genetically modified foods should be labeled as such. Why? Because people say they want to know What the Hell Is In That Stuff.

As an aside, we think the shift in terminology toward the use of "engineered" rather than "modified" is a clever move. Why? Think of automobiles. Cars are "engineered" (by robots, of course) in a plant from scratch. But "modifications" are after-market - ground effects, nitro tanks, bad tint jobs, you name it. Just ask the Fast And Furious guys - those cars don't roll off the assembly line ready to go. You need a tatted-up, muscle-bound, white-t-shirt-wearing guy to ratchet up that Mazda, which is where Vin Diesel gets involved. (Are we the only people shocked that we are on the sixth installment of the F&F franchise? Please say no.) Thus GMO implies tinkering whereas GE connotes food whipped up from raw, or in this case fake, ingredients . . . probably using science. We Americans don't like science. The mere mention of terms like polyunsaturated, gravity, or partially hydrogenated makes us go all squinty-eyed.

The GEFRTKA-backers will face an uphill battle. We can look to the fate of Prop 37 in California as a benchmark: the bill, which would have required the labeling of biotech content in (some, but not all) packaged foods, failed to pass by more than six percentage points in November 2012. Prop 37 proponents encountered a number of challenges, including accusations that the requirements were full of loopholes and exemptions that favored some special interests. Add in the $44 million spent by opponents such as Monsanto, DuPont, Hormel and Nestle, and it's a miracle the final margin was in the single digits.

3. People: "Government Can Go To Hell."

On April 25, Harris Interactive/HealthDay released findings of a recent poll showing that people are "opposed to government taxes on sugary drinks and candy by a more than 2-to-1 margin." People like sweets. People like soda. Just in case we change our minds, Coke and Pepsi spend billions of dollars (the soda lobby spent $40.2 billion, with a B, in 2009) petitioning Congress to stamp out ideas such as sugary drink taxes.

4. Sonic Launches New Milkshake Flavors, Featuring PB&J, Chocolate-Covered Banana, Chocolate-Covered-Peanut-Butter-and-Bacon-Banana-Cookie.

Consumers previously limited to ho-hum varieties of shakes and malts on offer at Sonic (such as the droll Sonic Blast® and Creamslush®) can now choose from a myriad of new milkshake flavors, including pineapple, cherry cheesecake, peanut butter banana, peanut butter cookie, peanut butter and jelly, and peanut butter and bacon. Wait . . . is that supposed to read peanut butter comma bacon or peanut-butter-and-bacon? Not that it really matters, both sound disgusting.

Also, what's with the profusion of peanut butter flavors? We suspect a wild-haired food scientist somewhere devised a chemical compound that, when paired with a linear sulfated polysaccharide like carrageenan, results in a delicious peanut buttery molecule.

We take back what we said about science. We are cool with science. Sweet, sweet science.

5. I Thought That Mongolian Hot Pot Tasted Funny.

Until now, the logistics of cobbling together fake mutton has not ranked among the many troubles disturbing our sleep. But due to a spate of arrests of meat counterfeiters in China, we find ourselves counting rats, not sheep, in the wee hours.

The Ministry of Public Security (not to be confused with the Peace of Mind Department) announced earlier this month the arrest of "a gang of traders in eastern China who bought rat, fox and mink flesh and sold it as mutton." A related story implicated the Chinese division of Louisville-based Yum! Brands in the scandal.

Invoices seized by one supplier of packages of "New Zealand mutton" reportedly showed "that some of the meat had already been sold to several restaurants, including outlets of Yum-owned Little Sheep."

Yum! called the story "false, misleading and wrong," but could not explain the recent absence of chicken bones in its KFC.

6. King of the Jungle: Not Too Gamey.

Tampa-area taco purveyor Taco Fusion recently caused a controversy due to an unusual ingredient in a new dish - the $35 lion taco.

"It didn't taste too gamey to me, similar to steak," said patron Lee Weiner.

We think the food industry should run with this idea: whale shark sashimi, Komodo dragon kebobs, polar bear po' boys . . . the possibilities as endless as our imagination and the diversity of nature.

As an added bonus, eating apex predators like lions seems like a neat solution to Rule #2.

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The Random Food Report is prepared by the pseudononymous Luke Chen and his band of foodie monkeys. Address correspondence to the Random Food Affairs Desk.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:26 AM | Permalink

Dodd-Frank Fairy Tale Omits Grim Ending

This was co-published with the Washington Post.

President Obama signed the Dodd-Frank financial reform law in July 2010, hailing it as an overhaul to prevent the kind of crisis that hit the world economy in 2008 and one of the signature achievements of his first term.

Almost three years later, much of the big stuff the law calls for is on hold, under legal and legislative assault, or still working its way through the regulatory intestines. According to a law firm that tracks the legislation, only 38 percent of the 398 Dodd-Frank rules have been imposed, while regulators haven't yet publicly put forward versions of almost a third of them.

Is this the face of success? A new book, Act of Congress, by Robert Kaiser, an associate editor and senior correspondent for the Washington Post, gives that question a qualified yes.

"The story of Dodd-Frank does demonstrate that Congress still can work," he writes, "and it shows how, but only in extreme circumstances."

To a Beltway expert such as Kaiser, that a dysfunctional and hyperpartisan Congress passed such a sweeping bill constitutes a small miracle. He concludes that "the big banks and Wall Street institutions never gave up trying to shape the bill to serve their interests, but that they had little success."

As former Massachusetts Congressman Barney Frank, whose name is on the bill, says: "Money is influential [in Congress], but votes will kick money's ass any time they come up against each other . . . Public opinion drove that bill."

At another point, Frank declares, "The big banks got nothing."

Kaiser's account reminds you of those fairy tales that end with the wedding and don't follow up to see how the prince and princess's married life turns out.

Act of Congress doesn't cover what happened after the law's enactment. In large part because of the ongoing, messy aftermath, many students of finance don't see Dodd-Frank as much of a triumph at all. In the wake of this generation's worst global financial and economic crisis, Congress passed the bare minimum of what was necessary. Dodd-Frank did not restructure the financial industry. It did not remake the financial regulatory architecture. Instead, the law tinkered around the edges, increasing regulation for this, expanding the power for that. Congress left much of the toil to financial regulators with limited resources. Troublingly, this has given the banks another opportunity, out of the public eye, to wrest exemptions that emasculate the rules.

* * *

Kaiser's book is roughly divided into two parts. The first covers how the House version of the law, shepherded by Frank, came to be; the second half covers the work of then-Sen. Christopher Dodd of Connecticut in his chamber. The legislation is both men's capstone achievement, and both left Congress after it was passed.

The author has delivered a blow-by-blow account of the tawdry compromises, Republican intractability and factional fighting within the Democratic Party that went into making the law. Congress comes across as the nation's grandfather: antiquated, inconsistent, as slow-moving as it is dull-witted. The book is in part an elegy for the Congress - particularly the Senate - of yore, the Senate of Dodd's father, Thomas J. Dodd.

Kaiser repeatedly characterizes today's Congress as "dysfunctional." But he doesn't demonstrate that so much as he shows Republican obstructionism. The Democrats - Frank, Dodd and their staffs - repeatedly seek compromise with the other party. Dodd gives significant ground without ever having a true negotiating partner.

Instead, he has Sen. Richard Shelby of Alabama, the ranking Republican on the Senate Banking Committee. Kaiser gives us a damning portrait of Shelby's evolution from a reasonable, though conservative, voice for a certain level of banking regulation into a partisan hack and the cat's paw of his extreme staffers.

Shelby repeatedly flirts with working on the bill and then capriciously withdraws, unfairly denouncing Dodd for not working in bipartisan fashion and assailing the bill with inaccurate attacks.

And when the bill emerges from committee, Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican leader, moves to filibuster it, giving up only when some Republicans defect.

This isn't dysfunction so much as a demonstration of the Republican leadership's lack of interest in doing anything about a reckless and out-of-control financial system that gave the country such a terrible global crisis.

More broadly, Kaiser's account once again shows how unserious the modern Republican Party is about policy; how beholden to special interests it is, and; how determined to not give any victories to the Democrats and a president it views as illegitimate.

With its focus on Congress, Kaiser's account underplays the work of financial industry lobbyists and the White House. Kaiser does point out that the financial industry employed 2,700 lobbyists (including 1,447 former government employees) to work against reform in 2009 and 2010, spending more than $750 million. By contrast, groups advocating reform to the system spent a paltry $5 million. But the author doesn't show us much actual lobbying. And given the modesty of the eventual law and the myriad delays in implementation, Frank's crowing that the banks got nothing for all of this dough rings false.

Obama White House officials, especially then-Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, play only bit parts in Kaiser's book. The White House created the template for the House version of the bill, which was "generally cautious," he writes. But then throughout the many months of negotiations, White House officials made only rare appearances. When the law was finally enacted, Dodd was angry that the Obama administration took so much credit. But since Kaiser hasn't focused much attention on the White House's contribution, it's hard to evaluate who has the better claim.

According to other reports, Geithner and his staff played a large role, often working to blunt more radical reforms.

In one case, the Treasury secretary personally lobbied against the Brown-Kaufman amendment, a truly transformative and dramatic proposal that would have set high capital requirements on banks and put limits on their size.

Frank is the star of this book. The congressman lives up to his reputation as brilliant and witty. But he is also a flawed boss who leaves to his staff the difficult job of bringing less brilliant colleagues around to his way of thinking.

Dodd isn't nearly as interesting a character. If Dodd has a core ideology or set of principles, Kaiser didn't find them. Instead, Dodd wants to get something, anything, done - and it's important for that something to be bipartisan.

Kaiser enjoys pointing out the intellectual limitations of our nation's politicians, and we enjoy reading about them. At one point, Rep. Jeb Hensarling, a Republican from Texas, attacks what he thinks is a taxpayer-funded bank bailout fund. He likens it to his college fund, which he and his wife have "because we intend to send our children to college."

The author writes slyly, "This bit of rhetorical wizardry seemed to please Hensarling." Like many Republican charges about Dodd-Frank, Hensarling's comparison was erroneous. The banks, not taxpayers, were going to pay for the fund. But his objection also made no sense. The fund was more like insurance. Buying fire insurance doesn't mean you are counting on your house to burn down.

By contrast, Frank understood the complexities of financial regulation. But perhaps being smart in this context wasn't such a good thing. Smart legislative and regulatory solutions may embrace flexibility and exemptions that banks can later exploit. Regulations that create clear, bright lines may seem simplistic and dumb. But such rules tie regulators' hands, freeing them from banking influence.

Dodd-Frank may have been too smart for its own good.

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Comments welcome.


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:19 AM | Permalink

May 11, 2013

The Weekend Desk Report

Would it be naive to wish everyone a Happy Working Mothers Day? Probably, right?

Market Update
In a free and fair market, Shitty Ideas would fail on their own lack of merit. In a less free and fair market, failure isn't always an option.

Hardy Laureate
Interesting. There's bipartisan agreement on creating a national science laureate but almost no agreement on what constitutes science.

Write Your Own Punch Line . . .
West Wing. Overheated transformer. Go.

. . . Or Let Them Write It For You
After all, the powers that be make it awfully easy sometimes.

Timing Is Everything
Finally, if your groundbreaking new service involves people jumping in cars with total strangers, this maybe wasn't the best week to launch it.

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The Weekend Desk Tip Line: Groundbreaking.

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The Sound Opinions Weekend Listening Report: "Break out your paisley shirt: psychedelic rockers Tame Impala are live in the studio! Kevin Parker and Co. perform tracks from their latest album, Lonerism. And later, Jim and Greg review the debut album from buzzed-about post-punk band, Savages."

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The Flying Saucer Weekend Brunch Report: Secret specials not advertised to the public! Stop in for more information.

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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.

Living Like We're Bulletproof: The Public Health Crises of Youth Trauma & Violence

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Clinicians, educators, parents, youth, legal professionals, and the faith-based community come together to develop strategies for combating the devastating effects of youth violence.

Plenary: Cause & Effect

Speakers include Judge Marilyn F. Johnson, Marlita White, Chicago Safe Start, Dr. Dominica McBride, Become Inc., Rev. Walter A McCray, Black Light Fellowship, and clinic professor Randolph N. Stone.

Sunday at 9 a.m. on CAN TV21.

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Lunch Lecture

Keynote speaker Dr. Terry Mason, chief medical officer, Cook County Health and Hospitals system.

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

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Plenary: Options & Solutions

Panelists include Professor Herschella Conyers, University of Chicago Law School; Robert Spicer, Dean of Culture & Climate, Fenger High School; Mark Davis, Chief of Police of Calumet Park; Phillip Jackson, Black Star Project, and; Edlena D. Quintana, Adler School of Professional Psychology.

Sunday at 11:30 a.m. on CAN TV21.

Progressive Jobs: Lessons Learned for the 21st Century

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Get an insider's perspective of Harold Washington's progressive jobs, economic, and neighborhood development policies, and how they could function in today's economy.

Sunday at 1 p.m. on CAN TV21.


Posted by Natasha Julius at 8:11 AM | Permalink

May 10, 2013

The [Friday] Papers

"Emanuel on Wednesday did not directly answer questions about whether his proposed settlement was financially linked to free Sundays, time extensions and the 35-cent-per-transaction pay-by-cell program," the Tribune reports.

What is the mayor hiding? Remember, when he announced the new meter deal he left the podium before reporters could ask a single question. And he's been just as squirrely ever since. What's the deal?

"Ald. Patrick O'Connor, 40th, the mayor's floor leader, said the council cannot unilaterally decide to break apart the deal."

That doesn't appear to be true. Our parking meter overlords don't seem to care much about the swap of free Sundays for extended hours, though it's likely to net them even more gobs of money than they're already getting.

"But while O'Connor said that splitting up the parts could kill the entire deal, [Ald. Brendan] Reilly said that if the administration is being square that there's no financial linkage, it shouldn't be a problem.

"When Emanuel was asked Wednesday if no free Sundays or longer hours in downtown areas would kill the deal, he replied: 'I don't think the deal would die. But the point is that free Sundays would not be available for the residents for the next 71 years.'"

Of course, that's just silly - unless there's a provision in the new deal we don't know about precluding the city from ever broaching the topic of free Sundays again. Plus, free Sunday parking for the next 71 years is just a weird rallying cry. In 71 years, we might all be using jetpacks.

Something is definitely up. Either Rahm is playing hide the ball by keeping some sort of fine print out of the public eye, or he's just simply embarrassed that all his tough guy talk resulted in Chicago Parking Meters LLC getting even richer off us while he makes a political play for black votes (the Sunday churchgoers who he says will benefit from the deal; churchgoers mostly on the South Side, as Reilly has pointed out, and not the thousands of churchgoers downtown who are excluded from the arrangement).

*

"Ald. Ameya Pawar, 47th, told the Tribune editorial board Thursday that he and other aldermen need far more information about the aspects of the deal not related to the settlement.

"My question is: 'Are they making additional dollars? Is this revenue-neutral for CPM or are they making money?'" Pawar said. "Because if they're making money, it looks like to me that we have simply shifted the burden to the consumer."

That's exactly right - this deal looks like a cost-shift dressed up as a discount. Drivers in River North will now pony up for what taxpayers citywide used to pay for. That may not be a terrible idea, but City Hall refuses to acknowledge that's what's going on here.

"Pawar said that if the savings negotiated for the city will be on the backs of increased parking hours for drivers, 'let's just be honest about that, because if it isn't, why are we tweaking hours and providing free Sundays if no one is complaining? Why can't we take that piece out?'"

Little Big Picture
"Researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago have developed a way to introduce precisely four copper ions into each and every quantum dot."

But we can't renegotiate a parking meter lease.

Big Little Picture
"It's only been two years since Anahita Ghazvinizadeh moved from Iran to the U.S. to pursue a film-focused master's in studio art at the School of the Art Institute Chicago, but the 23-year-old filmmaker already has racked up a nomination for the Cannes Film Festival's prestigious Cinefondation Prize," RedEye reports.

"Ghazvinizadeh's 21-minute short film, Needle, the story of a preteen girl getting her ears pierced, was one of 1,550 entries from 277 schools all over the world."

The Week In Chicago Rock
Including Patti Smith, Bill Callahan, Scott H. Biram, Paramore, Kelly Hogan and Zoe Keating.

The Political Odds
Read closely, conditions may have changed in your area.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Unmetered.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:15 PM | Permalink

The Week In Chicago Rock

You should've been there.

1. Patti Smith at the Vic on Tuesday night.

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See also: "Sex as sacrament, youth as state of mind, religion as rock 'n' roll - Patti Smith jumped right into that deep, wide river at the outset of her sold-out concert Monday at the Vic Theatre."

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2. Bill Callahan at Mojo's in Columbia, Missouri on Tuesday night.

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See also: "The beguilingly odd singer-songwriter made a welcome return to Chicago on Monday (May 6), playing at an unusual venue - the Garfield Park Conservatory - in a concert booked by Land and Sea Dept., which featured tap dancer Flat Foot as the opening act."

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3. Scott H. Biram at Bloodshot HQ on Wednesday.

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4. Paramore at the Chicago Theatre on Thursday night.

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See also: "[Hayley Williams] was also a joy to watch; whether headbanging or working the stage, she's exceedingly charming."

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5. Kelly Hogan at the Hideout on Sunday night.

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See also: "It was another outstanding performance by Hogan, featuring most of the songs on her 2012 album I Like to Keep Myself in Pain as well as 'No, Bobby Don't' and the Magnetic Fields' 'Papa Was a Rodeo.'"

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6. Zoe Keating at the Old Town School on Sunday night.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:08 AM | Permalink

May 9, 2013

The [Thursday] Papers

"Church leaders took a 'leap of faith' Wednesday and got behind Mayor Rahm Emanuel's compromise plan to charge non-profits for city water, after some last-second lobbying that ended with unanimous City Council approval," WBEZ reports.

"The city will now charge non-profits based on a sliding scale, determined by their net assets. Groups and churches with less than $1 million in net assets will still get free water, while groups that are worth more than $250 million would pay full price."

That actually sounds like a pretty good plan, but taking a leap of faith in Chicago is like betting it all against the house in Las Vegas: It's just not realistic to think you're going to be rewarded.

"Coalition leaders claim they had the City Council votes to block the mayor's plan, but withdrew their opposition after gaining assurances that administrative rules would later be written in their favor."

If I had a parking meter for every time someone around here has heard that, I'd be a very rich man.

Meter Madness 2.0
"Emanuel said his deal would save at least some of the $103.9 million in exorbitant penalties the company sought under the contract, saying taxpayers would no longer be treated 'as suckers and dumb money' for the firm," the Tribune reports.

"But the mayor dodged repeated questions about the details, including how he could assure taxpayers and aldermen that it was a good deal to get free Sunday parking in city neighborhoods in return for longer hours at meters across the city."

That's because he can't.

"I've been around the city a lot," Rahm said. "And I've talked to a lot of aldermen and a lot of other people who wanted the convenience of going back to free Sundays like we used to have. Eighty-one percent of the meters will be out of commission on Sundays - gone. Now, the only way you can do [that] in a straight-jacket was to set up a trade-off. I've asked the City Council, unlike the past with three days, to evaluate this and take the time to ask questions."

Emphasis mine. Why?

Because the Sun-Times reports that Ald. Brendan Reilly, who opposes the swap, "has said the clincher for him was when Corporation Counsel Stephen Patton told aldermen during closed-door briefings that the swap was 'not important' to the company. It was an add-on demanded by the mayor."

And why would the mayor do that?

See: Emanuel Approval Ratings Slip, Especially Among Black Voters.

Hence, Rahm's talking point that what he was doing was good for "Sunday church-goers."

Who will soon have to pass the hat for water bills because their pastors took a leap of faith.

*

"Under the agreement, the city would swap more than 1,800 parking spaces - including nearly 1,000 in the Loop - in return for 17 parking lots with 1,100 spaces currently operated by the parking firm," the Tribune account says.

"The mayor's office did not provide the section of the agreement that details the locations of those spaces, but a spokeswoman for the mayor said they are outside the Loop. Emanuel said another positive aspect of the plan would be the new ability for drivers to pay for parking with their cellphones, as they can in other major cities. But some details of that plan were likewise unclear."

Maybe it's just a framework of an agreement, like the Wrigley Field deal.

Or maybe the council is being asked to vote on a draft and the final plan won't be known until later, like CPS school closings.

Or maybe we're all just supposed to take a leap . . .

*

"Thom Serafin, a spokesman for Chicago Parking Meters, said the company had no estimates for how many Chicago drivers might use the [pay-by-cell] program or how much it might earn in interest by investing the balance of those accounts."

The company hasn't run the numbers?

Let me tell you something: Corporations in America don't take leaps of faith. They know exactly how much they're going to rake in. That's why they're so happy.

Surface Profits
"There's another little tweak in the revised parking meter deal that Mayor Rahm Emanuel will present to a City Council committee [Wednesday] that hasn't received any notice," Greg Hinz reports for Crain's.

Right now, the 16 lots with 1,100 collective spaces are under the direct control of Chicago Parking Meters LLC, the private operator which in 2008 leased the city's parking operation for 75 years. That means they're used for parking, and only parking. Most of the lots are located in the 46th, 47th, 32nd and 35th Wards, with another cluster in the Southwest Side's 19th Ward.

Under a portion of the revised deal, the city will regain control. That means it's up to the city and not CPM whether to shut for a weekend farmer's market, or a weeklong street festival. The spaces still will be metered, but the Emanuel Administration says it will be up to the city whether the lot is open or not on a given day.

In exchange, the city is returning 938 on-street spaces to CPM's direct control. But most of them are located in the 42nd Ward, which as previously reported will not get the free Sunday parking provided to other wards under the wider deal.

Beyond that, those using the new 938 spaces, along with most other on-street parking in the ward, will have to pay until midnight, up from 9 p.m. now.

The tradeoff actually will cost the city a net $1 million a year. Team Emanuel says it's worth it.

How is a $1 million annual loss worth it? Team Emanuel doesn't say and it's not clear that Hinz asked. And that's really the most important part of the article.

"Of course, the city says that operationally, it will still come out ahead $110,000 a year overall."

I have no idea what that means. The $1 million annual loss is net. What does it mean, then, to "operationally" still come out $110,000 a year?

Maybe we're just supposed to take it on faith.

Circular Argument
"Chicago has been opening and closing public schools every year for the past decade," Becky Vevea reports for WBEZ.

"It's a controversial strategy that former Chicago Public Schools CEO Arne Duncan believed was an answer to improving public education.

"But in the most recent round of proposed school closings, CPS is shutting down the very schools Duncan created."

Maybe those schools can be turned into parking lots for street festivals that turn operational profits. #GrouponAccounting.

Sprint Doesn't Work In Wicker Park
And they don't care.

Robert Redford Is A Twit
Lauds Rahm ahead of CNN series.

Obama's War On Drugs
If he was president when he was young, he would have put himself in jail.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Orbital.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:07 AM | Permalink

Sprint Is Useless In Wicker Park And They Don't Care

Last month Alisa Hauser reported for DNAinfo Chicago that "Sprint customers have been experiencing difficulty in some parts of Chicago as the company works on what it calls 'network upgrades.'"

I was actually relieved to hear that Wicker Park was one of those areas because I thought it was just me - that my crappy cell phone had finally crapped out.

But no.

Sprint spokeswoman Kelly Schlageter said Sprint has not had any cell sites down as a result of the network upgrades.

"However, during the process, some customers may experience difficulty making or sustaining a phone call," she said.

For example, the sites in the 60622 area code completed their upgrades Wednesday night "so customers should begin noticing that their service is not only back to normal, but also that they have [a higher-speed] 4G LTE signal," Schlageter said.

If only. I've got news for you, Kelly: The problem is worse than ever and people around here are pissed.

*

First, it would've been nice for Sprint to notify customers - and the third-party carriers who use their networks, like CREDO, which is what I have - that there would be issues with service during this time.

Instead, folks who weren't as fortunate as I to see Hauser's article have no idea what's going on.

Second, refunds for massive service interruption are certainly due.

Third, quit lying.

Service that supposedly should have been back to normal by April 3 is still horrible more than a month later.

Upgrades complete, Kelly? That's not what Sprint says now.

*

I started my journey with CREDO, my service provider, using their e-mail support system. My rep was Jason.

ME: Sprint, whose service I believe you use, is upgrading towers in the Wicker Park area of Chicago, but it's caused really terrible service for a month now. Wanted to make you aware. Cannot receive calls on cell. This article is from last month but the problems have not abated: http://www.DNAinfo.com/chicago/20130404/wicker-park/sprint-customers-complain-as-carrier-beefs-up-high-speed-network

JASON: I am sorry to hear that your phone has been unable to receive calls lately. I understand just how frustrating that can be. You are correct and CREDO Mobile does operate on the Sprint network. At times, a phone does need to refresh its connection with the network to recognize the updated towers. In order to update your connection, we will need to re-activate your phone. Before re-activating your phone, we do want to make sure that roaming is set up on your phone.

[Instructions followed, but as you will see, he missed a couple steps.]

ME: Thanks. Two questions, and bear in mind that I have a pretty old phone.

1. Should Roaming be on Home Only, Automatic or Roaming Only.

2. In Tools, I do not see an Activate option.

JASON: Those are definitely some great questions and I am sorry I left a couple steps out. For roaming, we want that set to "Automatic" so your phone will switch between the best network available. Since your device is activate already, that option may not be available in the phone settings. The other way to activate your phone is by dialing ##228# and then select "Yes" when it asks you if you want to activate your device.

[Did just that.]

ME: Now I can't make outgoing calls either. I set roaming to automatic. Still could not receive a call. So I used the code provided below to activate. I have five bars. It says connecting. Then says no service.

*

I never heard from Jason again, so two hours later I sent him this:

So I now have a cell phone that doesn't work at all, after following your instructions, and you disappear. I hope you have a lousy night.

Then I turned my efforts to Sprint, using their e-chat system. My rep was Paige.

I wasn't able to capture the first half of the conversation, but after explaining the problem the rep kept telling me I had to speak to CREDO and I kept telling her that the problem was with Sprint's towers and CREDO was merely a reseller who has no way of fixing the problem or at least explaining when it might be solved. It was a maddening back-and-forth until Paige finally broke down and consented to look into it.

Paige S.: Credo is a third party service provider. we are unable to access Credo accounts. As you stating that you are using Sprint tower I will check the outage for Sprint in that area for the zip code that you have provided.

Paige S.: Give me a moment to check this.

Me: thanks.

Paige S.: Thank you for your patience, I will have the information shortly.

Me: ok.

Paige S.: Thank you for waiting.

Paige S.: I have checked that tower is being upgraded to Network Vision. We are currently in the process of planning the necessary enhancements to improve the service. This is a high-priority case for us and our network team is working to get it resolved at the earliest.

Me: Ugh. It's been a month. People here hate you. No better estimate than that? Sheesh.

Paige S.: I understand the importance of the phone services to you. The area has been marked on a high priority. I assure you that our technicians will resolve this issue soon. We do understand the importance of phone services in your daily life and apologize for the trouble. We appreciate the co-operation from all our customers in this situation.

Me: That's a weasel answer. You are losing customers. But I can see this is futile. Good night.

*

So Kelly Schlageter lied and Sprint is incompetent. But we're getting Network Vision! Me? I just want to be able to make and receive phone calls.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:02 AM | Permalink

Local TV Notes: Robert Redford & Shark Tank Come To Chicago

1. Shark Tank Casting Call.

Today at the Shedd.

See also: The Chicago Shark.

2. Robert Redford's Series On Chicago Looks Like A Wank.

"The vibrant culture and opportunities inherent in this 21st century, world-class city run alongside profound daily challenges," Redford said in a statement.

"Much of it falls on the shoulders of its tough, visionary mayor, his team and people doing heroic work in neighborhoods throughout the city. Chicago has always had a rhythm all its own. It's a city that wears its heart on its sleeve and I am honored to be a part of telling this story."

Gross.

3. Fox News Anchor Megyn Kelly, Who Once Worked In The Chicago Office Of Bickel & Brewer And Has A Net Worth Of $5 Million, Renews Contract, According To The New York Times, Which Left Out The Most Important Fact: How Much Does She Make?

*

On her time in Chicago, from a GQ interview with photo spread because women on TV must always be sexualized:

I knew it was time to get out one day - it was around my sixth year of practice - when I was driving home on the Kennedy in Chicago. It was 3 a.m. Tears were pouring down my face. I was so exhausted. And I thought to myself, 'What if I just had a car accident where I broke a bone? I don't want to hurt myself, I don't want to die, but if I just broke my femur that would keep me out of work for a good three months.'

So she went into broadcast "reporting," which had easier hours.

4. Fox News Chicago's Robin Robinson Lists Bucktown House For $1.29 Million.

Presented as part of our ongoing service to remind you how much money local TV newsreaders make.

5. Chicago In The UK.

And it's a mess.

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Comments welcome.


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 5:55 AM | Permalink

Is Obama Delivering on His Promise of a "21st Century" Approach to Drugs?

When the Obama administration released its 2013 Drug Control Strategy recently, drug czar Gil Kerlikowske called it a "21st century" approach to drug policy.

"It should be a public health issue, not just a criminal justice issue," he said.

The latest plan builds on Obama's initial strategy outlined in 2010. Obama said then the U.S. needed "a new direction in drug policy," and that "a well-crafted strategy is only as successful as its implementation."

Many reform advocates were hopeful the appointment of former Seattle Police Chief Kerlikowske as head of the Office of National Drug Control Policy signaled a shift in the long-lasting "war on drugs."

But a government report released a day after the latest proposal questioned the office's impact so far.

"As of March 2013, GAO's analysis showed that of the five goals for which primary data on results are available, one shows progress and four show no progress," the report by the Government Accountability Office found.

For instance, the GAO noted that there's actually been an increase in HIV transmissions among drug users and drug-related deaths, as well as no difference in the prevalence of drug use among teens.

Many public health experts say the administration deserves credit for increasing access to drug treatment. But others say despite an increase in funding for rehab, the administration has continued to push programs and policies built to punish drug users.

As the administration lays out its latest plan on a new approach to drugs, here's look at what's in it, and what they've done so far.

"Break the cycle of drug use, crime, delinquency and incarceration"

"While smart law enforcement efforts will always play a vital role in protecting communities from drug-related crime and violence," the latest strategy says, "we cannot arrest our way out of the drug problem."

FBI records indeed show a drop in drug arrests, from 1.8 million in 2007 to 1.5 million in 2011.

But overall, the government spends roughly the same proportion of the drug policy budget on law enforcement now as was spent during Bush's final years in office. In Obama's 2014 budget proposal, 38 percent is allocated for domestic drug law enforcement, while another 20 percent would be spent to crack down on drugs along U.S. borders and abroad.

The Obama administration has also renewed funding for controversial programs like the Justice Assistance Grant program, formerly known as Byrne Grants, which had been cut under President Bush.

The funding created local drug task forces, which critics say were quota-driven and increased corruption and misconduct.

Budget-minded conservatives like the Heritage Foundation also argued the grants hadn't led to a decrease in crime.

States like California and New York have used some funding from the program for treatment instead of enforcement.

The administration has made progress when it comes to overcrowding in prisons: One Department of Justice program gives states money to support research toward policymaking that reduces recidivism. Several state legislatures have independently lessened mandatory minimums, reformed parole policies, and passed other laws aimed at cutting the high cost of incarceration.

Obama also signed the Fair Sentencing Act in 2010, which ended a five-year mandatory-minimum sentence for crack possession at the federal level, and lessened the sentencing disparity between crack and cocaine.

According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, the number of inmates in state prisons dropped roughly 2 percent from 2010 to 2011. Seventy percent of that is from a decrease in California's prison population, after the Supreme Court upheld an order for the state to reduce overcrowding.

But as a recent Congressional Research report highlights, the number of inmates in federal prisons continues to rise, increasing over three percent from 2010 to 2011. More than half the current federal prison population is drug offenders.

"Support alternatives to incarceration"

In his latest budget, the president is requesting $85 million to go toward drug courts, which some have pushed as an alternative to criminal trials. Since 1999, the number of drug courts has grown from just under 500 to 2,734 today.

Drug courts allow for non-violent offenders to avoid being charged, or to have their convictions expunged and sentences waived after completion of a rehab program and passing regular drug tests.

Proponents of the system say it allows non-violent drug offenders to serve their time in treatment, instead of in prison.

A 2011 GAO report found statistics suggest drug courts reduce recidivism, but there's not enough data to fully assess their effectiveness.

Some critics argue drug courts still fall short, by taking a criminal justice approach to a public health problem.

"Increase addiction treatment services"

Obama has indeed repeatedly increased funding for addiction treatment. He proposed $9 billion in his latest budget, up 18 percent from 2012.

Despite that, only 1 in 10 of the 21.6 million Americans in need of drug or alcohol addiction treatment received it in 2011.

The number of people receiving treatment has stayed roughly the same since 2002.

The treatment gap should narrow as Obamacare goes into effect: Roughly five million more Americans currently facing drug addictions will soon have insurance coverage for treatment.

"That's the biggest expansion of treatment in 40 years, and maybe in the history of the U.S., " said public health professor Keith Humphreys, who has served as a policy advisor to the ONDCP.

But a recent Associated Press analysis said current clinics will be overwhelmed by the new demand for treatment.

State-level budget cuts have hit organizations hard, and treatment centers in over two-thirds of states are at or close to 100 percent capacity.

ONDCP spokesperson Rafael Lematire said the administration's latest plan calls for an increase in the number of health care workers to treat newly insured patients.

"Review laws and regulations that impede recovery from addiction"

The latest drug strategy highlights the need to reduce "collateral consequences" (barriers to public benefits, employment and other opportunities) for those convicted of drug crimes.

But Obama has little leverage on those issues, which are mostly decided on the state and local levels.

For example, while HUD has encouraged public housing authorities to not disqualify former drug offenders from receiving public housing or Section 8 vouchers, it's up to each city housing authority to determine their own rules.

"While we encourage housing authorities to give ex-offenders a second chance, the decision to admit or deny to public housing remains with the housing authorities," said HUD spokeswoman Donna White.

Obama's administration has not announced any plans to address the 1996 federal ban on food stamps or cash assistance for those convicted of drug felonies. Most states have opted out of or amended the law.

"Reduce drug-induced deaths"

The GAO noted that drug-induced deaths and emergency room visits increased from 2009 to 2010. Much of that is likely due to pharmaceutical abuse, which contributes to more accidental overdose deaths than illegal drugs or alcohol.

In 2011, the government released a plan to crack down on the abuse of prescription drugs. There's little current data on overdose deaths, but recent studies have indeed noted a drop in prescription drug abuse.

Advocates have praised Obama's decision to endorse increasing access to emergency drug Naloxone, which can reverse opioid overdoses. Some lawmakers have criticized that position, saying it essentially encourages drug abuse.

In 2009, Obama also attempted to end the federal ban on funding for clean needle exchange programs, but Congress reversed the decision.

"Curtail illicit drug consumption in America"

The GAO report notes that the prevalence of drug use among teens and young adults has stayed the same since 2009.

"With the exception of marijuana use, illicit drug use is trending down, specially prescription drug abuse and use of cocaine, hallucinogens, inhalants, and methamphetamine," said ONDCP spokesperson Lemaitre.

Research cited in the GAO report suggests the increase in marijuana use is tied to a decreased perception of risk.

Obama remains staunchly opposed to legalization, but it's unclear how hard the administration plans to come down on states loosening marijuana laws.

Obama has overseen far more medical marijuana raids than under the Bush administration.

For states that have legalized pot, Attorney General Eric Holder said he intends to "enforce federal law," though Obama said he had "bigger fish to fry."

The Department of Justice said it is still reviewing the latest laws.

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See also: Obama And Marijuana: Then And Now.

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Comments welcome.


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:54 AM | Permalink

May 8, 2013

Hurt And Be Hurt: The Lessons Of Youth Sports

When our children head out to play sports this spring, the pressure to win is so intense; a troubling new survey reveals 59% of young athletes say they expect to get hurt as part of the game. What's even more surprising - kids polled say coaches, teammates and in some cases even their own parents have tried to make them play injured and even suggested they hurt another player. 69% of young athletes who were hurt say they continued to play hurt and half of them say they hid their injuries so they could play.

The just released survey of 210 boys and 138 girls (ages 8 - 14) who play sports reveals:

* 63% say they have been hurt playing sports. 59% say it's part of the game and they expect it.

* 64% say they're afraid someone will hurt them while playing sports.

* 11% say they were offered gifts or money to hurt another player.

The survey was commissioned by the non-profit arm of i9 Sports. The survey also reveals:

* 81% of those who have been hurt say their teammates/friends have thought of them as tough, cool, a good player, or even a hero when they played hurt and "took one for the team."

* 42% of those hurt say they were called foul names if they sat out while hurt - some by their own mom and dad! Names include "wuss," "wimp," "cry baby" or "mama's boy." Other names were given but were too graphic to print.

* 29% say they are secretly glad when a player on the other team gets hurt.

So who's influencing our young players to rough-it-up at all cost?

* 34% say their coaches' priority is the win over safe play.

* 16% of the respondents said they or their teammates tried to hurt another player. When asked who gave them the idea, 57% said teammates, 23% said their mom or dad, and 11% said coaches.

* Of the 37% of respondents who said someone made them or tried to make them play while hurt, 52% said it was a teammate, 41% said it was a coach, 35% said it was one of their parents.

"I'm concerned about the direction of youth sports," says Dr. Robert Cantu, renowned neurosurgeon, expert on youth sports safety and acclaimed author of the book Concussion and Our Kids. "Over the past twenty years or so it's all become so serious. Fun no longer seems to be the main object. Now it seems to be about grooming your child to be a star . . . It can be taken to extremes."

"Across the country, young players are all-too-frequent victims of a sports culture that's turning its back on them," says Mark Hyman, sports journalist and author of Until It Hurts: America's Obsession With Youth Sports. "With each passing season youth sports seem to stray further and further from their core mission of providing healthy, safe and character-building recreation for children."

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:32 AM | Permalink

Random Food Report: The Emerging Poop Sector

1. McDonald's Is Gonna Regret This.

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2. Easy Being Cheesy After All.

"Lay's has announced the winner of its "Do Us A Flavor" contest, which pitted three original flavors - cheesy garlic bread, sriracha and chicken and waffles - against one another for the right to join the company's permanent snack-chip lineup. Cheesy garlic bread, created by Wisconsin native Karen Weber-Mendham, beat them all," Culture Map Dallas notes.

"For her efforts, Weber-Mendham will receive $1 million or 1 percent of the chip's sales in 2013, depending on which is higher. But do not cry for the runner-ups; they aren't going home empty-handed.

"Sriracha creator Tyler Raineri of Illinois and chicken-and-waffle mastermind Christina Abu-Judom of Arizona will both win a cool $50,000. Their chips will make a limited run this summer."

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Weber-Mendham describes herself as a youth librarian superhero, among other things. She likes margaritas and sarcasm.

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Tyler Raineri is a junior at Illinois State who hails from Lake Zurich.

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We don't really care about the Arizonan.

3. Deep Inside Taco Bell's Doritos Locos Taco.

"From handshake deals to experiments at Home Depot, the history of Taco Bell's disruptive faux cheese-dusted taco."

4. Angelo's Chicago Taste in O'Fallon, Missouri.

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5. Domino's Webcam: Watch Your Pizza Get Made.

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6. Cheating Spouses Choose The Cheesecake Factory.

7. Man Has Eaten At 6,297 Chinese Restaurants In The U.S. And Canada.

8. Obesity Caused By Chicken Dishes And Grains, Says Coca-Cola.

9. The Most Expensive Coffee In The World Comes From Civet Poo.

Foodstuffs derived from animal poop is apparently a growing sector. See also:

* From Elephant Poop Coffee Comes Elephant Poop Beer.

* Beer Made From Elephant Poop Sells Out Immediately.

In other words, hipsters now are truly full of shit.

10. Chuck Norris Vs. Wired Waffles & Perky Jerky.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:33 AM | Permalink

Who Should Be The Next Chairman Of The Illinois GOP?

"Pat Brady's resignation Tuesday as chairman of the state's Republican Party was a move months in the making, an effort to leave on his own terms rather than being ousted for his support of gay marriage," the Tribune reports.

"Republican leaders, who orchestrated Brady's exit strategy last month at a meeting in Tinley Park, said about a dozen contenders are vying to replace Brady. That number is likely to be winnowed to five or fewer within the next two weeks after a Wednesday conference call of the state central committee members, they said."

The Beachwood Political Affairs Desk has been busy compiling its own list of possible contenders. Let's take a look.

* George Ryan. Not tan, but rested.

* Marc Trestman. Because he's all about making organizations more offensive.

* Derrick Rose. Seems available, nothing better to do.

* Fred Phelps. He'll be free right after Hanneman's funeral.

* The Rev. James Meeks. Also a religious nut who hates gay people, except he's black. Outreach!

* Monty Burns. Experienced businessman and polluter, though not clear where he stands on social issues.

* Michael Madigan. Impressive record turning Democrats into Republicans.

* Bill Daley. Former U.S. Commerce Secretary who pushed through NAFTA and worked for JP Morgan Chase seems like a natural - especially given his fixation with being the chief executive of an Illinois party without having to go through an election.

* The Cubs' Jumbotron. Six thousand square feet of raw revenue.

* Sam Zell. Tax avoidance master who hates the little people. Perfect!

* Billy Corgan. Anti-redistributionist who doesn't believe in global warming. Perfect!

* Tom Ricketts. The poster boy for an incompetent rich kid who got everything he has from his (right-wing nut job) dad. Perfect!

* Rita Crundwell. Financial whiz, budding criminal justice expert and a woman. Outreach!

* Rahm Emanuel. Already the most powerful Republican in the state; why not just make it official?

* The Monopoly Man. See Monty Burns.

* Andrew Mason. Already has chief executive experience alienating both the public and the SEC despite relative youth. Outreach!

* Penny Pritzker. Experience in subprime banking, anti-unionism and screwing the working poor (many of whom are immigrants) makes her a natural fit should her Cabinet nomination fail.

* Juan Rangel. Hispanic wheeler-dealer charter school king. Outreach!

* Joe Walsh. The guitar player, not the ex-congressman. They say he's crazy but he has a good time, which would be new to the job.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 1:30 AM | Permalink

The [Wednesday] Papers

"CPS officials on Tuesday mostly dismissed the conclusions by independent hearing officers that the district should not close 11 schools, without addressing safety concerns and questions about the academics at the receiving schools," Sarah Karp reports for Catalyst.

"Speaking on background, the officials said that the hearing officers - who concluded that CPS did not comply with state law and therefore should not close the schools - either did not understand or over-stepped their role."

Perhaps they should visit today's city council meeting to get a better idea of what is expected of them.

"I didn't assume [I was supposed to be] a potted plant," one hearing officer said.

First time in Chicago, huh?

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"CPS spokeswoman Becky Carroll says the district was only required to provide a draft transition plan - which, as drafts, are works in progress and won't be complete until mid-June," Karp reports.

After the hearings are over and the school board has voted. That's like asking to be passed before turning in your final.

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"She added it was not up to the hearing officers to comment on the quality or feasibility of the plan."

Just to say things like, "As a potted plant, I find your perpetual motion machine with its spinning blades and nuclear fission to be perfectly compliant with the criteria you have set out as well as a narrow reading of state law designed to allow you the easiest possible path to build such machines regardless of the danger to others."

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And Rahm's statement about "the responsibility not to allow an injustice if you see it?"

No longer operative.

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"Rather than addressing [one hearing officer's] concerns, in a formal written response, CPS' General Counsel James Bebley wrote 'the Hearing Officer substituted his judgment for the CEO's in applying a different standard to higher-performing schools than the one expressed in the guidelines.'"

Right. The standard being that a school actually has to be higher-performing to be defined as one.

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So CPS redefined its ideal class size in order to declare more schools underutilized than otherwise, with no change in actual reality; it misoverestimated the alleged capital cost savings of closing schools by $122 million, or 20%; it plans to send thousands of students to schools that are, at best, not higher-performing, and are, at worst, lower-performing, which is par for the course; it failed to properly inventory school utilization in the first place, in part by not counting special education students; and its safety and transition plans are still only drafts that won't be finished until June, just a few months before school starts. What could go wrong?

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"Take the officer who oversaw the public hearing on closing Delano Elementary," Linda Lutton reports for WBEZ.

"Delano is not on probation. The proposed receiving school, Melody, is on probation - a fact CPS had not mentioned in its presentation before the hearing officer.

"'Such an omission gives credence to those who believe the process is flawed,' the hearing officer wrote in his report."

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"School district spokeswoman Becky Carroll said the hearing officers who had found the district out of compliance were overstepping their role 'by opining or creating or adding their own opinion to criteria that would determine, for example, what is a higher performing school.'"

Like presuming a school not on probation was performing better than a school on probation.

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"Or, they had simply 'misinterpreted' the state law, Carroll said."

Legal scholar Becky Carroll vs. 14 former state and federal judges. Discuss.

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Here is Carroll's interpretation of the hearing officer's role under state law.

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"The hearing officers, retired state and federal judges, in many cases used sharp language to make it clear they felt many closures were insensitive to children, including special needs students, and even put them in harm's way," the Tribune reports.

"Carl McCormick, a former Cook County circuit judge, complained in his evaluation of Overton Elementary in Bronzeville that officials promised to send all students at shuttered schools to better ones but in this case were shifting children from one poorly performing site to another.

"'This is tantamount, using a food metaphor, to the promise of an omelet with a crisp waffle,' he wrote. 'Then what is delivered are broken eggs, whose contents are oozing out and a burnt pancake.'"

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"In opposing the closing of Jackson, retired federal Judge David H. Coar wrote in his report that the safety of students in the Auburn-Gresham community was key," the Sun-Times reports.

"'There is no question that Jackson is underutilized. However, the safety of the youngest and most vulnerable children in the school system is a very serious thing, not to be addressed with generalities and vague promises.'"

CPS said Coar "exceeded the scope of his authority" because he was only supposed to decide if it the district's plans complied with state law.

I'm pretty sure there's a law about knowingly endangering kids, though. It's called negligence, which pretty much sums up this entire venture.

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The Next State GOP Chair
We've got the short list.

Hurt And Be Hurt
The Lessons Of Youth Sports.

The Emerging Poop Sector
In our latest Random Food Report.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Water us.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:02 AM | Permalink

May 7, 2013

The [Tuesday] Papers

"Chicago Public Schools has already admitted it overstated the capital savings it could achieve by closing 54 schools. Parents say they have no proof the new numbers are right either." - Lutton and Karp, bringing the goods.

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"[Parent Ali] Burke says she's sure of one number at this point: her trust in the school district is at zero."

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Meanwhile . . .

"Independent hearing officers are opposing 14 of the school closings proposed by Chicago Public Schools officials, citing safety concerns and the district's failure to show students would be going to better schools," the Tribune reports.

"The hearing officers' recommendations are due 15 days before a final board vote on the closings, expected May 22. After repeated requests for the reports throughout the day Monday, CPS posted them on the district's website shortly before midnight."

Only because a Friday afternoon wasn't legally available.

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"CPS spokeswoman Becky Carroll said the late night release of the reports had to do with the district's legal department reviewing the submissions, many of which came in over the weekend and Monday."

That's about as believable as the money CPS won't be saving.

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The reports are quite damning. Click through to read the Trib's account, of course, but also recommended for the best (worst) of it: @CatalystChicago, @ILRaiseYourHand and @WBEZeducation.

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If the Board of Education takes the recommendations in full (ha!), 40 schools would be closed. Beachwood oddsmakers set the Over/Under at 35 when the process began, and the number didn't move the whole time. Still, interference by Rahm Emanuel could squash payouts.

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And this just in:

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How 'Bout Those Bulls!
If Tom Thibodeau Managed The Cubs.

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See also: The New Derrick Rose Shoe.

New Jersey's Jackson
Good news for elk head dealers.

Toni TIF
"Property taxpayers in Englewood were furious upon learning at a town hall meeting Saturday that their tax dollars had contributed at least $44 million to the Englewood Neighborhood Tax Increment Financing (TIF) District since it rolled out in 2001," Progress Illinois reports.

Apparently $44 million worth of development has not ensued.

But here's the part that really caught my eye:

"At least one resident at the meeting put the blame for the lack of TIF developments in Englewood on the local aldermen. But others explained that Chicago's aldermen typically know little about how the program actually works.

"I can't speak for all the aldermen, but I'm speaking for myself, and we don't know a lot about TIFs," said Ald. Toni Foulkes (15th) who represents parts of Englewood.

She said Saturday's CivicLab presentation was the fourth community meeting she's been to regarding TIFs. Foulkes noted that some of the people in the room probably had more TIF knowledge than their alderman.

"The reason that I come is to get educated and to learn about this because they don't teach us this," she said.

Foulkes is celebrating her sixth year in office this month.

Chicago's Silent Segregation
"Those who are new to Chicago, particularly those in the highly educated labor force that our mayor desperately wants to attract, will likely to seek housing in relatively small areas of the city," our very own Kiljoong Kim writes.

"Subsequently, the economic benefit of such population growth is likely to be limited to those areas. These new residents will merely reinforce the level of inequity we currently have, if not make the situation worse."

Young And Homeless In Chicago
CPS aggravating the situation.

Jesus Died For Somebody's Sins, But Not Theirs
Patti Smith, Little Walter, Gary Richrath and Bloodshot's Latest Epic Badass in our Local Music Notebook.

Daredevils Of Chicago
Skyscrapers, Bike Messengers And Plainfield's Poet in Local Book Notes.

Wanna Be On TV?
Here's how.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Both epic and badass.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 11:11 AM | Permalink

Wanna Be On TV? Here's How

Interested in producing your own show but not sure where to start? Come get a behind-the-scenes look at our studios and take the first step towards being a part of CAN TV.

Saturday, May 11 at 11 a.m. at CAN TV, 322 S. Green St. It's free!

Can't make it Saturday? CAN TV holds free orientation sessions to introduce Chicago residents to the opportunities available at CAN TV.

Sessions are held at 322 South Green Street and do not require a reservation. Please be prompt. There is no admittance once the session starts.

Bring a photo ID with proof of city of Chicago street address, or a letter on organizational letterhead authorizing you to represent a nonprofit group based in the city of Chicago.

To reserve a spot in the Introduction to Video Production class place a $25 deposit after the orientation session.

Orientation Dates
Saturday, May 11, 11 a.m.
Wednesday, May 22 5:45 p.m.
Saturday, June 8 11 a.m.
Wednesday, June 26 5:45 p.m.

For more information about training schedules call (312) 738-1400.

Also available:

PROFICIENCY EXAMINATIONS

Examinations will be offered to individuals who have video production experience and desire to become certified access users without undergoing basic hands-on training at CAN TV. Anyone wishing to take a proficiency exam must first attend an orientation session. Each session costs $50.00 for a two-hour session.

PRODUCTION TRAINING

The purpose of taking video production training at Chicago Access Network Television (CAN TV) is to become eligible to produce noncommercial programming using CAN TV's equipment and facilities. Click here for a list of classes and production flow chart PDF.

INTRODUCTION TO VIDEO PRODUCTION (IVP)
A detailed overview of different video production methods. Identify the most effective uses of video for your particular program ideas and needs. Develop pre-production skills and learn to write a treatment. Classes meet for one four-hour session on weekends or weeknights.

CLASS SIZE = 6
CLASS FEE = $25 (deductible toward one production course which you select from the list below.)

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STUDIO PRODUCTION

BASIC STUDIO
Procedures and techniques for camera operation, directing, audio, switching, lighting, and electronic titling in our main studio. Classes meet once for four hours, then once a week for eight hours with a one-hour lunch break on three consecutive weekends.
CLASS SIZE = 8
CLASS FEE = $200

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FIELD PRODUCTION

BASIC PORTABLE AND EDITING
On-location production using a digital video camcorder, microphones, and lights. Classes are offered in weeknight and weekend sessions. Classes meet once a week for four hours for five consecutive weeks. Includes basic editing with the non-linear Adobe Premiere Pro 2.0 system.

CLASS SIZE = 4
CLASS FEE = $275

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BASIC PORTABLE
Class meets for four hours for two consecutive weeks.
CLASS SIZE = 6
CLASS FEE = $75

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P.V.O.M. (Portable Video Operations Module)
Combine portable and studio methods with our two-camera, Mini-DV production system. Classes meet once a week for eight hours on three consecutive weekends.
CLASS SIZE = 8
CLASS FEE = $175

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OTHER TRAINING AND NETWORKING OPPORTUNITIES

NON-LINEAR EDITING
Edit pre-recorded footage into completed programs with the new non-linear Adobe Premiere Pro 2.0 system. Classes meet once a week for four hours for three consecutive weeks.
CLASS SIZE = 4
CLASS FEE = $200

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PRACTICE SESSIONS
Free, hands-on, supervised practice for certified users in studio, basic portable, editing, electronic titling, and PVOM.

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For more information call (312) 738-1400
or stop by our offices at 322 South Green Street
(one block west of Halsted at Van Buren)

CAN TV office hours:
Monday through Friday: 10 a.m. - 7 p.m.

Production Services hours of operation are:
Monday & Friday

2 p.m. - 11 p.m.

Tue., Wed., Thurs.,

5 p.m. - 11 p.m.

Editing

Monday & Friday

Noon - 11 p.m.

Tues., Wed., Thurs.,

4 p.m. - 11 p.m.

Saturday & Sunday

9 a.m. - Midnight

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DISCLOSURE: The executive director of CAN TV is Barbara Popovic, who is also a friend and landlord to Beachwood editor & publisher Steve Rhodes.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:44 AM | Permalink

Local Book Notes: Skyscrapers, Bike Messengers & Plainfield's Poet

1. Chicago Skyscrapers, 1871-1934, by Thomas Leslie.

"For more than a century, Chicago's skyline has included some of the world's most distinctive and inspiring buildings. This history of the Windy City's skyscrapers begins in the key period of reconstruction after the Great Fire of 1871 and concludes in 1934 with the onset of the Great Depression, which brought architectural progress to a standstill. During this time, such iconic landmarks as the Chicago Tribune Tower, the Wrigley Building, the Marshall Field and Company Building, the Chicago Stock Exchange, the Palmolive Building, and many others rose to impressive new heights, thanks to innovations in building methods and materials. Solid, earthbound edifices of iron, brick, and stone made way for towers of steel and plate glass, imparting a striking new look to Chicago's growing urban landscape.

"Thomas Leslie reveals the daily struggles, technical breakthroughs, and negotiations that produced these magnificent buildings. The book includes detailed analyses of how foundation materials, framing structures, and electric lighting developed throughout the years, showing how the skeletal frames of the Rookery, Ludington, and Leiter Buildings led to the braced frames of the Masonic Temple and Schiller Building and eventually to the concealed frames of the City Opera, Merchandise Mart, and other Chicago landmarks. Leslie also considers how the city's infamous political climate contributed to its architecture, as building and zoning codes were often disputed by shifting networks of rivals, labor unions, professional organizations, and municipal bodies.

"Featuring more than a hundred photographs and illustrations of the city's physically impressive and beautifully diverse architecture, Chicago Skyscrapers, 1871-1934 shows how during these decades, Chicago's architects, engineers, and builders learned from one another's successes and failures to create an exceptionally dynamic, energetic period of architectural progress."

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2. "What's it like being a bike messenger in Chicago?" Mike Stephens asks on Outside The Loop radio

Northern Illinois University sociologist and former bike messenger himself, Jeff Kidder, author of Urban Flow: Bike Messengers and the City answers.

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"During his courier days, Kidder transported everything from a dress for a model to a vial of blood for the Red Cross to a grocery bag full of family photos for actress Kathleen Turner. More typically, however, the messengers carry time-sensitive documents, such as architectural, legal and advertising materials," NIU Today says.

"The reason Chicago has so many messengers is that the companies that now define the city need documents shuttled back and forth in very short spans of time," Kidder says. "A daredevil on a bicycle is the fastest way to make this happen."

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Here's Kidder talking about his work while riding his bike.

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3. Congratulations to Plainfield high school student Raphael Mathis, who was a finalist in the Poetry Foundation's Poetry Out Loud competition.

Here's a little bit on Raphael.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:05 AM | Permalink

Chicago's Silent Segregation

It's no secret that Chicago has a history of segregation. The issue has been debated and researched for decades and has resulted in significant books including Black Metropolis, American Apartheid, There Are No Children Here and American Project, to name a few. While there are ever so slight signs of progress, there is a residential pattern seldom discussed but so persistent that it is a reminder that we are still very much divided as ever.

Many recent issues around the city can be traced to the uneven distribution of residents across the city: The ignorant parents who are too afraid to send their children to other neighborhoods for a baseball game; massive closure of schools under the label of under-enrollment in some parts of the city while many schools in other neighborhoods are bursting at their seams; and numerous shootings that are ignored by the media and remain uninvestigated by the police. All are about negligence of our environment and failure to think beyond few blocks of where we live.

For all intents and purposes, we live in separate cities within miles of each other, begging the question: Why?

One way to look at segregation is through educational attainment. According to the latest census data available through the American Community Survey conducted between 2007 and 2011, approximately a third (32.8%) of Chicago's population over 25 years of age has at least a 4-year degree. While the figure is clearly higher than the national percentage of 27.5%, it lags behind other major cities like Pittsburgh (55.2%), Boston (55.1%), San Francisco (51.5%), Seattle (51.2%) and Washington, D.C. (46.6%), each of which boasts significantly higher proportions.

It also is a significant segregator. Education reflects much about individuals, from one's profession to their social networks. It also impact housing selections, which indicate that most people live close to those who have similar levels of education.

edseg1.jpg

Looking at the extremes, out of 801 census tracts in Chicago, there are five areas that have over 90% of the adults who are college educated.

edseg2.jpg

Not surprisingly, those five areas are all located in affluent sections of the North Side: two census tracts in Lakeview, one census tract each around Sheffield Avenue and the Park West area in Lincoln Park, and one census tract in River North.

In fact, college graduate-majority areas are largely confined to the North Side along the lake, Hyde Park and Beverly.

edseg3.jpg

On the other hand, there are 55 census tracts where fewer than 5% of residents are college graduates. Again, not surprisingly, virtually all of these areas are located in the West (West Humboldt Park and Hermosa), Southwest (Little Village), and South (Back of the Yard, Englewood, New City, and Marquette Park) Sides of the city.

edseg4.jpg

This heavy concentration by formal education is not solely about simple division of economic status. If higher income leads to better housing, given that there is plenty of good housing stock spread across the city, we should have far less concentration by educational level. Anyone who has seen small studios and one-bedroom apartments in Lincoln Park and Lakeview can testify that even in these affluent areas, some conditions are far less than desirable. And yet, they are fully occupied by those who long to fit into these neighborhoods.

Conversely, West Humboldt Park, Hermosa, Gage Park and Marquette Park have more than adequate housing options available at fraction of the cost of living in Lincoln Park or Lakeview. This means educational attainment is one of the major determining factors for supply and demand in residential selection: Those with similar levels of education seem to seek similar lifestyles (and living in a certain neighborhood is just as much of a status symbol as cars, clothes, or any other consumption patterns).

Even anecdotally, this is evident among generations of South Siders from Beverly, Hyde Park and Bridgeport who settle on the North Side upon graduating from college, including a large proportion of highly educated African Americans.

Researchers for the past 30 years have shown that people's level of education is impacted by the levels of education of those around them. The idea of having role models and educated leaders are all valid reasons to live among those who are highly educated. But just as it would be false to assume that living in Lincoln Park and Lakeview translates to being affluent, it is false to assume that those areas with lower levels of education lack resources. There are plenty of neighborhoods that have churches, schools and other organizations that provide support.

What is at danger, however, is the perception and marketability of neighborhoods where economic development is continually suppressed while the value of other neighborhoods continues to inflate. Those who are new to Chicago, particularly those in the highly educated labor force that our mayor desperately wants to attract, will likely seek housing in relatively small areas of the city. Subsequently, the economic benefit of such population growth is likely to be limited to those areas. These new residents will merely reinforce the level of inequity we currently have, if not make the situation worse.

While the tech sector and its highly educated work force may be the wave of the future to grow the city, for example, the existing social ills of gangs, drugs, violence and poverty will always hinder progress toward the overall enhancement of the city unless the areas where they flourish are fixed in a meaningful way. Maybe that means incentives for a more even dispersal of the highly educated along with the city's economic development muscle; whichever comes first, the other will follow.

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Kiljoong Kim recently earned his Ph.D in sociology at the University of Illinois at Chicago. He welcomes your comments. Read more of his work in the Who We Are archives.

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1. From Paul Egan:

Interesting story on where college graduates live in Chicago; it would be even more interesting if the map was overlaid with crime statistics. Perhaps another project for Kiljoong Kim.

2. From Bill Schuele:

How can Chicago have a more even distribution of higher educated people? The people living in the less-educated areas need to be educated. The schools are there. They need to attend the schools. The real question is attendance. Most kids motivated to go to school are lead by the example and direction of their parents, families, friends. For a whole class of residents who do not value education there must be incentives developed to gradually make education important for them. What could these meaningful incentives be? I am not sure. A feeling of self-worth in a connected interrelated town where all the horses pull the same cart of citizenship? I know, I know. Too abstract . . . How? Thoughtful article.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 5:38 AM | Permalink

Young & Homeless In Chicago

1. Public Service Video/Lakeview Action Coalition & Chicago Coalition for the Homeless.


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2. Homeless Youth in Chicago.

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3. What is Homelessness? Poverty in Chicago/PBS.

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4. Homeless Children Are 8% Of 45,870 Students Impacted By Chicago Public Schools' Closing/Merger Plans.

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See also:
* Homeless Man Who Inspired Public Television Series Goes Viral.

* Homeless Chicago Man Gives A Shit.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 5:35 AM | Permalink

Local Music Notebook: Patti Smith, Little Walter, Gary Richrath & Bloodshot's Latest Badass Signing

1. Jesus Died For Somebody's Sins, But Not Hers.

"Sex as sacrament, youth as state of mind, religion as rock 'n' roll - Patti Smith jumped right into that deep, wide river at the outset of her sold-out concert Monday at the Vic Theatre," Greg Kot writes for the Tribune.

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And from St. Louis a day earlier: Patti Smith Lights Up The Contemporary Art Museum With Sound And Stories.

2. There Is A Little Walter Music Festival In Alexandria, Louisiana.

"Playing with the legendary Muddy Waters and with his own band recruited from the Chicago club scene, Little Walter, according to some music critics and historians, changed what people thought was possible with the harmonica," the Town Talk there reports. "In addition to harmonica, Little Walter played guitar, sang and wrote songs.

"Music journalist Bill Dahl called him 'the king of all post-war blues harpists . . . without a solitary doubt. The fiery harmonica wizard took the humble mouth organ in dazzling amplified directions that were unimaginable prior to his ascendancy.'

"Little Walter died in Chicago at 37. He was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2008 in the Sideman category."

3. Gary Richrath Comes Out Of Hiding For Charity.

This was at a Make-a-Wish event with the band Angeles.

4. Bloodshot Signs (Another) Epic Badass.

"We are very excited to share the news that we have officially signed the epicly badass, garage rock/soul punk legends Barrence Whitfield & the Savages. The Boston-bred collective will release a new album with us this summer - their first since 2011's Savage Kings - entitled Dig Thy Savage Soul (CD/LP/Digital). Following the release date the band will tour the east coast, Europe, and then eventually other select cities across the United States.

"Barrence is a soul screamer of the highest order, and the Savages lay down a groovy racket that's so thick and greasy, you'll need to keep moist towelettes near the hi-fi. Bloodshot Rob caught them a dozen times in college in the '80s and those were some sweaty dance parties. Barrence and the boys are to soul what the Cramps are to Rockabilly - a gateway musical drug to America's demented roots underbelly.

"When we first heard the tunes from the new album, halfway through the first song, our jaws were left hanging. Somebody in the office walked by, absolutely floored, and asked if the Dirtbombs had come unhinged. Age has not mellowed these cats one bit and, if anything, they are wilder, rawer and more exciting than ever. We LOVE this record and could not be happier to lay it out there for you. We here at Bloodshot have been lucky enough to work with people who blew our minds when we were nascent, dewy-eared music geeks: Alejandro Escovedo, the Mekons, Charlie Pickett, Andre Williams and now Barrence Whitfield & the Savages! Dig thy savage self!

"Barrence Whitfield & the Savages are made up of Barrence Whitfield (vocals), Peter Greenberg (guitar), Phil Lenker (bass), Andy Jody (drums), and Tom Quartulli (sax)."

Here's a sample:

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6. The Rolling Stones Are Having Trouble Selling Tickets.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 4:40 AM | Permalink

If Tom Thibodeau Managed The Cubs

* Alfonso Soriano would be crumpled up and crying behind a vending machine in the bowels of Wrigley Field.

* Nate Robinson would be playing a very nice center field.

* That goat would be so worn out that the only thing left it could curse would be the urinals.

* Giving up unearned runs would be a concept with which he would be unfamiliar.

* Baseball's first man-to-man defense.

* We wouldn't need no stinkin' Jumbotron.

* Reed Johnson and Mark DeRosa would still be with the team, batting first and second.

* The league would store its Gold Gloves in Chicago just to make handing them out easier.

* The team would perform exceptionally well in cold weather.

* There would be no such thing as rebuilding because every season would be sacred.

* We wouldn't need a stinkin' bullpen because starters would be expected to complete games.

* Moises Alou would have caught the Bartman ball.

* That goat would have been allowed into Wrigley - and thoroughly enjoyed the game with his goat family.

* Bleacher tickets would still be $5.

* Mark Grace would have finished his career as a Cub and done his time as a multiple-DUI offender right here in Cook County.

* Darwin Barney would have learned to take a walk by now.

* Starlin Castro would be a Dodger.

* They would win more 1-0 and 2-1 games than any other team in the league.

* They'd be having a World Series ring ceremony this week.

* Carlos Marmol would be well into his second career as a gas station attendant.

* Mark Prior would be in his 13th injury-free year.

* The Bulls' season would be over by now.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 3:09 AM | Permalink

May 6, 2013

The [Monday] Papers

"Richard Herman doesn't have to do much teaching as part of his $212,000 faculty job at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign," Jodi Cohen reports for the Tribune.

"When he resigned as chancellor after a high-profile admissions scandal, he made a deal to teach just two classes a year in the College of Education, where a professor typically teaches four.

"But Herman's class this semester was canceled for low enrollment - the second time that has happened since 2011. His biography on the College of Education's faculty website is blank. Herman, who lives in Chicago, said through a university spokesman that he goes to campus about once a week."

Herman said that through a university spokesman because he wasn't willing to be interviewed.

"He did not respond to requests for comment from the Tribune, instead relaying his answers through university spokesman Thomas Hardy."

Richard Herman, God's special creature.

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"Herman, chancellor of the state's flagship university from 2005 to 2009, resigned in October 2009 after a Tribune series revealed that the campus had a shadow admissions system that allowed well-connected applicants to get into the public university over more qualified students.

"A state commission, formed in response to the Tribune stories, investigated the university's admissions abuses and concluded that Herman was 'the ultimate decision-maker' for the applicants who were connected to trustees, lawmakers and other powerful people. Herman at times overruled admissions officials to enable the students to get into the school.

"After resigning, Herman worked for eight months as a special assistant to the interim president at his nearly $400,000-a-year salary. Then, during 2010-11, he took a $244,000 sabbatical designed in part to prepare him to teach.

"Since he joined the faculty in fall 2011, he has taught two online classes and one on-campus class. Slightly more than 50 students total took those classes."

Casino Games
"Some people argue that a major casino in Toronto would have dynamic effects for the city's economy," the Toronto Globe and Mail says.

"But the balance of the evidence goes to show that gaming establishments do not have any especially stimulative economic effects.

"There will be construction jobs. There will be employment. But those things would result no matter what development were to occur on those lands. Think of it this way. Forget the casino. If a developer proposed a new stand-alone shopping mall at Exhibition Place, it would generate economic growth, but without much inflated boosterism or impassioned argument. Would it have gotten as far as the casino has? Likely not.

"Studies of the socio-economic consequences of casino gambling show there is no special windfall to be had. Yet the rhetoric claims otherwise. Such arguments are apt to be advanced - with unwarranted emphasis - when it comes to proposed casinos and major-league sports franchises; sports teams do not bring the same social problems, but both tend to be promoted and subsidized by government. They are invariably a fertile source of tenuous economic propositions."

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From a Toronto consultant's report:

"The participants who indicated opposition to a casino did so for a variety of reasons. Some expressed the opinion that casinos attract illegal activities such as drug dealing, prostitution and money laundering. Others felt that the social costs of a casino far outweigh any benefits to be gained, citing the potential for a casino to severely impact problem gamblers and their families. Some participants at the open house discussions related how their friends or family members had lost their savings, jobs and families as a result of gambling. Some felt that the need for additional social services for problem gamblers and their families would be difficult to meet, given the current demands on the City's social services system. Some stakeholders indicated that there is evidence that the potential for problem gambling increases with proximity of a casino.

"Many participants challenged the projected revenues the City would gain from a new casino, indicating that estimates from various sources (e.g. Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation/OLG and the Ernst and Young Report) were unclear, unsubstantiated, or varied significantly from one another. Some indicated that the revenues expected to be obtained from casinos in other cities have not materialized. Because of the negotiations still required to finalize the amount of revenue the City might receive, many felt they could not determine or have confidence in what would be the actual revenues received by the City.

"In addition, some felt that the revenues would be offset by the cost of additional social services needed to respond to the social impacts caused by gambling. The view was also expressed by some that the City should look at creative ways to fund long-term economic prosperity without a casino. Many participants viewed a casino as not aligning with nor being compatible with the residential neighbourhood focus in Toronto. They see Toronto as a vibrant, world class city with many arts, cultural, theatre, restaurant and entertainment attractions to which a casino would add little or no value as a tourist draw and in fact could negatively change the international image of the city. The concern was expressed that a casino may adversely impact existing local businesses and cultural activities due to a loss of customers and sales."

The Lost Lessons Of The Payton Prep Saga
"Forty years working with kids and their families has taught me a number of things, one of which is that rational people occasionally react irrationally when confronted with issues concerning their children," our very own Roger Wallenstein writes.

"Furthermore, parents who may be somewhat unhinged to begin with become more so when their kids face adversity."

Chicago Had A Pipe Show
We've pulled the Tobacco Disease Acquisition Reports from YouTube.

The Weekend In Chicago Rock
Including Yngwie Malmsteen, Green, the Chicago Mass Choir, Pierce The Veil and more!

SportsMonday: Noah vs. Rose
Who's more compelling now?

Garbage In, Garbage Out
Eight of the nine starters from last year's 101-loss Cubs team are still starting.

Even The White Sox's Injuries Are Boring
"Years from now, no one will say, 'Gee, that sure was something when Beckham broke his wrist swinging and missing back in '13,'" Wallenstein writes.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Compelling.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 11:39 AM | Permalink

Garbage In, Garbage Out

It shouldn't surprise anyone that the Cubs are well on their way to matching last season's 101 losses. After all, it's essentially the same team.

Think about it: Eight of nine starters among position players were starters last year. The only difference is that Tony Campana (and Reed Johnson before him) is out and Nate Schierholtz is in. That's an improvement insofar as Schierholtz is hitting .302 with a .355 OBP, but that's easily cancelled out by the poorer play of everyone else except Welington Castillo if you ignore his defense and only consider his relatively hot bat.

The bullpen is essentially the same, too: Marmol, Russell, Camp and the return of Kevin Gregg to fill out Kerry Wood's role in some weird way.

And while the rotation has exceeded expectations, thanks largely to Carlos Villanueva and Travis Wood, Edwin Jackson looks like the Alfonso Soriano of the Theo era.

It ain't getting better, folks. And if you're not getting better, you're getting worse.

Week in Review: The Cubs split a four-game series against the Padres and then got swept in a three-game set against the Reds. In other words, when the Cubs took three of four from the Marlins, that was about the Marlins, not the Cubs, just like we said. And yet, the Marlins will be back in a World Series before the Cubs, guaranteed.

Week in Preview: The Cubs have an unusual opportunity to add to their unique lore this week by losing to three different teams in three days, as the Rangers drop in for a make-up game Monday night and the Cardinals open a two-game series on Tuesday. This, of course, follows Sunday's loss to the Reds. You pretty much have to root for it to happen.

The Second Basemen Report: Darwin Barney got all seven starts last week and is certainly playing Gold Glove defense, but he's hitting just .159. Which means he's Ian Stewart, whom Dale Sveum just labeled a Triple-A player. So there's that.

The Not-So-Hot Corner On a good team, Luis Valbuena might make for a nice super-sub. On the Cubs, he's part of a platoon with Cody Ransom, who wouldn't make a nice anything on a good team. Valbuena got four starts last week; Ransom got three.

Prospect Joshua Warren Vitters finally made his debut with the Iowa Cubs - as an outfielder. But how will he compete with Dave Sappelt for playing time?!

The Legend of Dioner Navarro: Went 1-for-4 in each of two starts, with 2 RBI. Went 1-1 pinch-hitting.

Dale Fail: Welington Castillo not only stayed in the game after this play, but got the start the next day.

Deserted Cubs: Tony Campana's batting average is up to .229 in Reno, with eight stolen bases in 70 at-bats.

Meanwhile, Brenly.

Ameritrade Stock Pick of the Week: Empty Threats traded up this week until investors realized what they were buying. Stick with the basic: Urine Troughs will deliver steady returns for years to come.

Sveum's Shadow: 8 p.m. Dale Sveum's Five O'Clock Shadow returns is now in its darkest position of the season. Expect it to be two minutes 'til midnight right around June 1.

Shark Tank: Reds profiting more from Jeff Samardzija than Cubs.

Jumbotron Preview: Six thousand square feet of Jorge Soler destroying a Gatorade cooler as he enters the All-Star break of his rookie year batting .159.

Kubs Kalender: Wait 'til next year 20167.

Over/Under: Waiver claims this month on players already released by at least two teams: 2.

Beachwood Sabermetrics: A complex algorithm performed by The Cub Factor staff using all historical data made available by Major League Baseball has determined that if the Cubs ever become contenders again, Dale Sveum won't be around to see it.

The Cub Factor: Unlike Alfonso Soriano, you can catch 'em all!

The White Sox Report: Know the enemy.

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Contact The Cub Factor!

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:12 AM | Permalink

Even This Team's Injuries Are Boring

The discussion focused on Pete Reiser and Tony Conigliaro, two talented ballplayers of bygone eras, whose careers were cut short by injury.

I was privy to this conversation last winter as an old Dodger fan talked about Reiser, who broke in with Brooklyn in 1941 as an outfielder at the age of 21. The next season he led the National League with a .343 batting average while legging out 17 triples, 39 doubles, and scoring 117 runs.

In 1942 he was sailing along at a .388 clip when he had his first encounter with an outfield wall. Reiser, you see, gave chase to deep flies the way Joakim Noah approaches loose balls. And in those days there was no padding on the bricks.

Reiser suffered untold concussions. His skull was fractured on one occasion. He holds the unofficial major league mark of being carried off on a stretcher 11 times. And according to his Wikipedia entry, he once had last rites said over his prone body while still at the ballpark. After age 28, he never played in more than 84 games in a season and was finished when he was 33.

Meanwhile, an erstwhile Red Sox fan described the injury that Conigliaro suffered in August of 1967. I remember this one. Tony took a pitch square in the face, suffering a broken cheekbone, dislocated jaw, and damage to his retina. Three years later Sports Illustrated featured Conigliaro's own telling of the story on its cover complete with a gruesome photo taken soon after the injury.

Before being hurt, Conigliaro began his career in the Red Sox outfield when he was just 19. By the time he was 22, he had hit 100 home runs, the second youngest player ever to reach that plateau. (Mel Ott was the youngest, 65 days younger than Conigliaro. A Hall-of-Famer, Ott went on to hit 511.) He was just 20 in 1965 when he led the American League with 32 homers.

Like Reiser, Conigliaro came back although he missed all of the 1968 season. He managed another 56 round-trippers in 1969-70 before double vision plagued him, and his career ended at the age of 30.

That both Reiser and Conigliaro would have had possible Hall-of-Fame careers was a distinct possibility had they remained healthy.

Staying healthy is just one of the problems of this year's White Sox. But bizarre and tragic events haven't figured in the least when it comes to the shelving of Gordon Beckham and Dayan Viciedo. Both were injured doing something they do a few thousand - counting batting practice - times each season: swinging the bat.

It's not news that Beckham broke his wrist and Viciedo strained a now-prominent oblique in the most basic of baseball's actions. No running into walls or being hit by a pitch. The Sox have severe problems with the basics: catching the ball, throwing strikes, making contact, and apparently swinging the bat without injury.

Players like Reiser and Conigliaro are remembered decades later not only for their talent but the manner in which their abilities were extinguished by injuries. Years from now, no one will say, "Gee, that sure was something when Beckham broke his wrist swinging and missing back in '13."

Beckham and Viciedo are not the only ones. Gavin Floyd marched off the mound 10 days ago without drama. We found out later that his elbow may be turning to mush. Who knows when and if he'll return?

And Jake Peavy, someone whom the team really will miss, went into back spasms last week simply by bending over.

When Minnie Minoso played for the Sox in the '50s, the first black player in franchise history, he frequently had to duck pitches thrown at his head. A few times he didn't move fast enough, and he got rocked. Those were injuries you remember, especially because it usually was only a matter of days before Minnie was back in left field.

Then there was Ferris Fain, a first baseman for the Sox in 1953-54. General manager Frank Lane should have known something was amiss when the Philadelphia A's were willing to part with Fain even though he led the American League in hitting in 1951 (.344) and 1952 (.327). Needless to mention, as soon as he donned a Sox uniform, his average plummeted to .256.

I seem to remember an instance when Fain grounded out and kicked first base in anger, breaking his foot. I have found no documentation of that self-effacement, but Fain did break a finger in a barroom fight outside of Washington in 1953 and missed a few weeks.
In addition, there was a locker room incident in 1953 when a row of lockers fell on diminutive second baseman Nellie Fox, resulting in Fox sitting out a couple of games. A few teammates indicated that Fain pushed over the lockers in a fit of temper because he - Fain, not Fox - wasn't hitting.

Talking about Nellie Fox, he played 14 seasons for the Sox and rarely missed a game, logging at least 150 games in 11 of those seasons. Then again, Nellie was strictly a contact hitter - he averaged just 15 strikeouts a season - so pulling an oblique or breaking a wrist while swinging was virtually impossible for the guy they called the Mighty Mite. I'm not even sure he had an oblique.

Another infamous Sox injury involved Carlos May, who blew off part of his right thumb swabbing out a mortar launcher while on reserve training with the Marines during his rookie season of 1969. (During the Vietnam War, many players were absent for a few weeks during the season to fulfill their duties in the reserves. That sure was better than going away for a couple of years.)

May healed and came back to play seven more seasons on the South Side. He even slammed 20 home runs and drove in 96 in 1973. Think of what he might have accomplished with two full-sized thumbs.

And arguably the most famous injury to a Sox player also came off the field. Right-hander Monty Stratton went 30-14 over two seasons in 1937-38 with a mediocre ballclub. However, the 26-year-old hurler suffered a hunting accident - he accidentally shot himself - after the '38 season and wound up losing the lower part of his right leg.

So ended a promising major league career for Stratton, but he soon made adjustments, and, after all, there was nothing wrong with his arm. Stratton pitched for a number of seasons in the minors, even going 18-8 in the East Texas League at the age of 34 in 1946. Hollywood got a hold of the story, and Jimmy Stewart and June Allyson starred in The Stratton Story. I've never seen it listed in a Top Ten of sports movies, but I recall enjoying it as a kid.

I'm confident that Beckham, Viciedo and Peavy will bounce back. In Saturday's 2-0 loss at Kansas City, the Sox started four guys hitting .192 or less. Catching and throwing the ball appear to be genuine problems, and those relief pitchers make more trouble for themselves by walking guys at the most inopportune times.

Heal quickly, fellows. The ship is taking on water.

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

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:54 AM | Permalink

SportsMonday: Noah Vs. Rose

We're going to trust the Hawks to take care of business against the Wild. There was a little setback Sunday, but the No. 1 seed is still in control. And as Joe Gilmartin of the Phoenix Gazette first said in 1987 (and Laker coach at the time Pat Riley immediately parroted), "No playoff series truly begins until a home team loses."

So if the perpetually home-ice advantaged Hawks can just keep all their series' from even starting this year, we should be good. Then again, it would be fine if they wanted to record a road win in Game 4 tomorrow night starting at 8:30 p.m..

The point of all this is that despite plenty of Blackhawk playoff drama around here, the big spotlight still shines on the amazing Bulls, who open their series with the Heat this evening at 6 p.m.

The indomitable Joakim Noah continues to lead this team on what can only be described as a ridiculous journey.

Noah, who led the last NCAA men's basketball repeat champs in his final two years at Florida (2006 and '07), has been a compelling figure for a long time. He said the Bulls would win Game 7 in Brooklyn on Saturday (despite the fact that the franchise was 0-6 in road Game 7s in its history) and then delivered 24 points, 14 rebounds and six blocks to make it happen. Noah has always played with unusual fervor and passion, but during the past two weeks he took his game to an even higher level.

We'd have to get some sort of sports podiatrist in here to confirm but let's just say it sure seems as though the Bulls' big man has essentially willed his foot to recover from a painful bout of plantar fasciitis that seemed certain to severely limit him in this year's playoffs.

And where others would have wilted in the still brand new Barclay's Center in Brooklyn facing a talented home team with his team's playoff life on the line and on his shoulders, Noah obviously reveled in the challenge. And then he capped it all off by storming the stands to celebrate with his New York-based family and bellowing "Mommy, I love you!"

Did I mention the guy is compelling?

Now we'll see if a few of his best lieutenants can find a way past health challenges of their own. It wasn't enough that Luol Deng's bout of flu last week was probably going to send him to the sideline for at least a game. Deng also had to deal with after effects of a botched lumbar puncture prescribed to make sure he didn't have viral meningitis. The procedure is common but the after effects in this case - severe headaches and other symptoms due to leaked spinal fluid, were fearsome.

And it turned out that knee, hip, back and elbow injuries weren't enough this season for Kirk Hinrich. He capped it off (we hope!) by suffering a severely bruised calf last week. He may or may not play in Game 1. Deng is out tonight.

This team is obviously remarkably good at shrugging off not just injuries and illness but unique and unusual injuries and illnesses. So fans would be well-advised to not even start writing these guys off.

And then there is Derrick Rose.

It appeared clear after his statements to the media on Saturday that Rose is still clinging to the idea that his knee will eventually heal so well that it will be even better than it was before he tore his anterior cruciate ligament.

We've pointed out before that this is simply not feasible. Given that this is still his standard, he won't be returning against the Heat. If this is still his standard in the fall, he won't be returning for the start of the next season. It would be great if someone would fill him on the medical reality (his knee will always be at least slightly diminished from now on) but Rose also made it clear Saturday that he doesn't receive a whole lot of input from outside his little personal cocoon, despite his presence on the Bulls bench of late.

His absence from the court these playoffs is too bad for Bulls fans but it is worse for Rose. He is missing a hell of a run.

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

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:21 AM | Permalink

Chicago Had A Pipe Show

It was over the weekend. Here's what you missed.

1. Northern Bohemian's Two-Part Tobacco Disease Acquisition Report.

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2. Pipes magazine Pipe Show forum.

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3. The Chicagoland Pipe Collectors Club.

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4. Sandahl Pipe Report And Summary.

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See also: The Making of a Sandhal Pipe.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:59 AM | Permalink

The Lost Lessons Of The Payton Prep Saga

Forty years working with kids and their families has taught me a number of things, one of which is that rational people occasionally react irrationally when confronted with issues concerning their children. Furthermore, parents who may be somewhat unhinged to begin with become more so when their kids face adversity.

The accounts of the Walter Payton College Prep's baseball team's sticky situation concerning its forfeit of a game against Gwendolyn Brooks College Prep reminded me once again of this kind of parental reaction.

I haven't talked to anyone involved in this story, but I have coached students from Payton over the course of seven summers in the Liberty League, a high school in-house league under the auspices of the Welles Park Parents Association. I also was the varsity coach at Francis Parker for four seasons (1985-88).

I even saw Payton play at Brooks a few springs ago. It was a state regional game between Payton and the University of Chicago Lab School. I had players from my summer team playing on both sides.

The current story goes something like this: Payton had a 7 p.m. game scheduled for April 27 at Brooks, located at 250 E. 111th St. When Payton coach Will Wittleder counted the number of players who said they would be available to play the game, he quickly realized he didn't have a full team.

From the accounts I read, the coach made the trip to Brooks to personally inform the evening's opponents that Payton could not field a team. Hence Payton forfeited.

I spent the spring of 2005 as the junior varsity coach at Kelvyn Park High School, so I have some experience with the workings of Chicago Public League sports. Forfeits - for whatever reason - are not isolated instances.

My ballclub was slated to play a first-round playoff game on a weekday after school against a school on the Far South Side. We had the higher seed, so they had to travel to our home field, Hanson Park at Fullerton and Central.

At the seeding meeting, the opposing coach came up to me, asked where our field was located, and - to paraphrase - said, "You know, that's a long way for us to travel. We wouldn't be able to leave until three o'clock. It's just more convenient for us to get a game that day with another school in Indiana." No drama, no argument, just a coach who thought it didn't make sense to put himself and his team in traffic to play a game and get home after 8 p.m.

Experience tells me that Wittleder has 15 or 16 kids on his team. Because many of his parents attend the games - and this being a Saturday evening contest - he surmised that parents could drive the kids to the South Side. In addition, some of his players may have their own driver's licenses. He decided against ordering a team bus, not an unreasonable decision in this age of budget cuts and school closings. Obviously it took only seven or eight kids to say they weren't coming, and the coach had a problem.

Apparently that's what happened.

According to the Sun-Times, Wittleder claimed that some parents didn't want their kids in the Brooks Prep neighborhood on a Saturday night because the area is potentially dangerous, which quickly created a picture of white families not wanting their sons in a black neighborhood.

Predictably the Payton administration downplayed this aspect, and Brooks principal D'Andre Weaver, in a letter on the school's website, wrote, "I want to strongly encourage all members of our community to resist the temptation to engage in futile discourse around topics that continue to perpetuate racial and economic segregation in Chicago."

That did little to stop the controversy. My interpretation is that some - not all - of the Payton parents weren't interested in seeing themselves and their children being represented in a negative light. A scapegoat was required, and they easily found one in their sons' coach.

We have learned via the media that Wittleder benched some players for missing practice. The one parent who was identified in Saturday's Sun-Times article sarcastically admitted that players indeed missed practices for "such shameful reasons as college visits, studying for tests and taking standardized or placement tests."

The adage "if you don't practice, you don't play" is familiar with most of us who have played and/or coached. So regardless of the reasons for missing practice, Wittleder clearly isn't the first coach to play the kids who show up most consistently.

Francis Parker is renown for educating the "whole child," and sometimes this meant that students were encouraged to participate in all kinds of extracurricular activities: sports, plays, debate, music, and more.

As the school's varsity baseball coach, did I want my players to skip pre-season practice so that they could rehearse for the spring play? Not really. Was my ego involved? Absolutely. I wanted the young men to choose baseball over drama.

Coaches in our summer program had only 13 players on a team and faced similar situations because kids had summer jobs, family vacations, summer school, proms, and a bunch of other stuff that got in the way of their commitment to baseball. I certainly wasn't going to stand in the way of a guy who needed to work, although some of the other reasons for not showing up made me question whether a few of my players made a good choice to play summer baseball.

As a coach, if you care about developing your players so that they work toward their potential, you need a commitment from them. Their young lives don't stop as a result of playing on a team, but c'mon man, show up, play hard, support your teammates, and have fun.

At the same time, the coach needs to know his audience. Francis Parker, Walter Payton, and the Liberty League are not professional baseball. They're not college ball, and for that matter, they're not the Chicago Catholic League, which has three teams ranked in the area's top five.

A balance is required somewhere between being a hard-ass and an anything-goes babysitter. Maybe Wittleder would be better suited for an environment other than Walter Payton. Or maybe he's a lousy coach and poor communicator like some of the parents say.

A coach is basically a teacher, and some teachers are more capable than others. Some know how to talk to kids, and some don't. Some have greater command of the content than others. In the course of one's education, you learn to deal with all kinds of teachers.
We all have had teachers whom we fondly remember and others whom we have long forgotten. That's part of growing up, and parents need not protect their children from that reality because one day parents aren't going to be around to bail out their kids. They'll have to do it for themselves and the sooner the better.

My sense is what actually occurred at Payton prep last week is somewhere between the parents being raging racists and the coach being totally incompetent.

The parents didn't support the program. Otherwise they would have made sure that their kid got to the game. If they didn't know all the details - where, what time, how to get there, etc. - they could have asked. Some of the parents - at least the vocal ones - blame the coach. They assume little or no responsibility or accountability which, in my view, is not desirable role modeling for our young people.

The coach likely has misjudged the Payton culture. Sure, playing ball is nice, but it can't take precedence over "more important" matters. As a coach in that kind of atmosphere, you either have to adapt to it without totally compromising your expectations and values or resign and seek a position which is more in line with your thinking.

What gets lost is what's best for the kids. The message from some parents is, "If you don't like the coach (or teacher), protest, draw attention, and make noise to get rid of him or her." If the coach is attempting to drive a wedge between the parents and their sons - "you're not coming to the game because your parents won't let you" - nothing helpful is accomplished.

This story would have died quickly if the health of the students had been the top priority. Somewhere that seems to have gotten lost.

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Comments welcome.

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1. From Shani B.:

Your explanation seems reasonable enough, sure. But I can't help but think about the Brooks kids, and the lasting impression that they have about Payton. That should matter too.

I have to admit, the lessons I thought you would have included weren't there. The lesson about how to consider what it means when Payton plays schools in parts of the city that look like Brooks, and what it means when it is decided that the gesture isn't important enough to honor.

The other unsaid factor that everyone knows, but nobody says is that while Brooks and Payton are selective enrollment schools on paper, everyone knows it doesn't mean the same thing. That is why the gesture, the importance of the gesture of Payton playing schools like Brooks is so important to find, well, important.

Also, in this day and age, this all just gets tiring. Either it's OK to treat people like people, all the time, or it's not when you have reasonable explanations. At some point, it just makes sense to find importance in a bigger message. That while Payton is aware of its power, prestige, and privilege, its representatives are aware it is part of the CPS community, and the CPS athletic community.

The gesture would not have solved all the city's problems, but it sure wouldn't have felt like something from my parent's other-worldly time of off-limit swimming pools.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:18 AM | Permalink

The Weekend In Chicago Rock

You shoulda been there.

1. The David Mayfield Parade at the Abbey on Thursday night.


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2. Yngwie Malmsteen at the House of Blues on Saturday night.

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3. Chicago Mass Choir at the Sweet Holy Spirit Church on Saturday.

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4. Perfect at the Copernicus Center on Saturday night.

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5. All Time Low in Hoffman Estates on Friday night.

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6. Emma Hewitt at the Palladium on Saturday night.

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7. Pierce The Veil in Hoffman Estates on Friday night.

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8. Green at FitzGerald's on Saturday night.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:59 AM | Permalink

May 4, 2013

The Weekend Desk Report

We always have a lot of success. And we think you know what we mean by that. Right? Huh? Huh?

Market Update
Look, it's obviously disappointing that CPS will be slightly more shit broke than expected next year. But listen, if Mayor Emanuel uses the same methodology to close a few dozen schools in each of the next 20-odd years, just think of the money we'll save then!

Derby Odds
So, Will Take Charge is a long shot? Yeah, that seems about right.

Derby Odds, part 2
Are you the least bit surprised no one wants to back Falling Sky? Yeah, we weren't really surprised either.

Derby Odds, part 3
We'll tell you one more thing; Frac Daddy is going to get absolutely buried by the usual Lines of Battle.

Invest in the Future
Just remember: whether you win or lose, you should never feel guilty for taking a massive gamble. After all, it's for the kids, right?

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The Weekend Desk Tip Line: Orb.

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The Sound Opinions Weekend Listening Report: "It's stop number two on the Sound Opinions World Tour, and Jim and Greg are 'Big in Japan.' Tokyo-based journalist Daniel Robson gives us an education in J-pop and the Japanese underground. And later, Jim and Greg review UK singer Jessie Ware's stateside debut."

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The Flying Saucer Weekend Brunch Report: Mmmm.

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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.

A Sip of Inspiration: Gun Violence: Chicago Under Fire

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Host Stephanie Wilson-Coleman interviews Ameena Matthews of Cure Violence, Marhaun Bacon of Youth-Guidance.org, and Rev. Gwindol P. Tate of R.I.S.E. ministries about their efforts to reduce gun violence in Chicago.

Saturday at 4 p.m. on CAN TV19.

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The Obama Administration's War on Terror

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Professor David Cole of Georgetown University examines the Obama administration's use of targeted killing and drone strikes in the War on Terror, and whether U.S. citizens can legally be targeted in secret.

Sunday at 9 a.m. on CAN TV21

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Immigration Court Reform

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Experts discuss how reform could affect different aspects of the U.S. immigration system, including the trial and detention of immigrants.

Sunday at 10 a.m. on CAN TV21.

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Gun Violence: Examining Public Health Solutions

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Examining gun violence as a disease with Rebecca Levin of Lurie Children's Hospital, Tio Hardiman of Cure Violence, and Dr. Carl Bell of UIC.

Sunday at noon on CAN TV21.

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Climate Change and Migration

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Claudia Lucero of La Red Mexicana explains the connection between global warming and "climate refugees" - people who are forced to relocate due to droughts and other environmental changes caused by a changing climate.

Sunday at 1:30 p.m. on CAN TV21.

Posted by Natasha Julius at 9:57 AM | Permalink

May 3, 2013

The [Friday] Papers

"Chicago's school district will not be saving as much by closing 54 schools as it originally told the public," Linda Lutton reports for WBEZ.

"When it announced the closings, Chicago Public Schools said it would save $560 million in capital expenses over the next 10 years by closing schools and avoiding repairs and upgrades on those buildings.

"Now, the district is revising that cost savings number downward. It says it was off by $122 million, or 20 percent."

Or, to put it another way, it was off by $5 million more than the entire Cubs' payroll.

I thought we were running CPS like a business now! A public corporation missing the mark on such a fundamental estimate would be introducing a new CEO right about now.

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"The real 10-year cost savings figure is $437.8 million, CPS now says. It made the correction on page 36 of a 457-page document that lays out the district's facilities plan for the next decade."

C'mon, CPS! Y'all are losing it; back in Brizard's day the new number would have been buried in the footnotes.

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"Chicago Public Schools says it made an 'honest mistake' when adding numbers, and had plugged in some schools that didn't belong there."

Perhaps, but I'm afraid that under our new accountability regimen those officials will be held back a year. It's not like they just filled in the wrong oval.

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"CPS officials say they discovered their mistakes after repeated questions from WBEZ and Catalyst Chicago Magazine about how capital cost-savings were calculated."

Reporting!

Thank you, WBEZ, Catalyst and everyone else who has worked so hard to ferret out the facts. The work done on this and related issues in recent months has been an intense and amazing display of awesome journalism.

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"A top CPS official said it's 'intuitive' that closing buildings will save money."

Well, it's also intuitive that the Earth is flat. That's why we go to school - to learn how to think critically and gain skills such as, oh, let's just say math.

And something about history.

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"It's clearly something that will save us money. That's indisputable," he said.

Gee, where have I heard that before?

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"The district's press office allowed reporters to speak with him only on background, without printing his name."

We're going with David Miranda unless someone asks for a correction. It's intuitive.

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DAVID MIRANDA. DAVID MIRANDA. DAVID MIRANDA.

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DAVID MIRANDA. DAVID MIRANDA. DAVID MIRANDA.

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UPDATE 4:01 P.M.: I'm told it wasn't David Miranda. But it was intuitive to think so. I think there's a lesson there.

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Today's Must-Read
Tweeting Tom Ricketts: Funny and true.

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Bonus Sports Tweets

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The Week In Chicago Rock
Including Lydia Loveless, Slayer, Ribfest and Pitchfork.

Is Cable TV Recession-Proof
Illinois consumer coalition thinks so.

The Cook County Forest Preserve . . .
. . . Actually Has A Lot Of Cool Things Going On.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Intuitive.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:37 PM | Permalink

Tweeting Tom Ricketts

Boiling down this clusterfuck to a few salient points that our foggy, amnesiac media keeps missing, because this is a well-worn script and we're sick of it.

(And we'll take Harry Caray and Steve Stone over David Haugh and David Kaplan any day.)

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:06 PM | Permalink

Is Cable TV Recession-Proof?

"Despite a slowdown in the number of customers paying for cable and high-speed Internet subscriptions, Comcast reported a 17.4 percent increase in net income, to $1.44 billion, in the three months that ended March 31," the New York Times reports.

"The solid earnings announced on Wednesday were partly the result of higher cable bills for 72 percent of Comcast's subscribers."

That squares with an analysis by the Keep Us Connected coalition, which recently released this statement in opposition to proposed changes to the Illinois Cable Act:

"The Illinois legislature will act this session to renew the Cable and Video Competition Act ('the Cable Act') that must be renewed before October of 2013.

"The Illinois Cable Television and Communications Association is now seeking changes to the Cable Act that will cut back funding and channels for the public, further reduce local regulatory controls, and create an unlevel playing field with other video providers.

"Cable companies often point to the fiscal pressures caused by a competitive market as sufficient reason for more deregulation.

"But let's look at the facts.

"The number of U.S. cable TV subscribers decreased over the last decade. But at the same time, the average monthly cable bill went up 84% (see chart below). From 2001 to 2011, cable TV in the U.S. grew from a $37.5 billion to a $56.9 billion industry. And when you add in Internet and telephone, you're up to a whopping $97.6 billion by 2011, with total cable industry revenue doubling since 2001.

"The upshot is that unlike most local communities across the state, the cable industry saw revenues climb right through the recession.

"Illinois welcomes healthy business partners. But Illinois residents need and deserve laws from the legislature that protect the public.

"They are already paying the price."

cable_slide_1.jpg(View larger image)

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Disclosure: The Keep Us Connected coalition includes CAN TV, whose executive director is Barbara Popovic. Popovic is a friend and landlord to Beachwood editor & publisher Steve Rhodes.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 11:21 AM | Permalink

The Week In Chicago Rock

You shoulda been there.

1. Black Dot at Reggies on Sunday night.


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2. Lydia Loveless at Bloodshot Records HQ on Tuesday.

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3. Joe Bonamassa at the Chicago Theatre on Wednesday night.

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4. Greg Kot on Jeff Hanneman.

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5. Gospel Pitch:

"With her new project, Worship Soul, Anita Wilson joins the rich musical heritage known as the Chicago sound, while simultaneously heralding a new style in today's gospel music - Worship Soul. A featured vocalist in the Grammy Award-winning ensemble Donald Lawrence & Company, she boldly takes the solo stage with an album that is at once fiery and soulful, dynamic and meditative.

"The album's lead single is featured on WOW Gospel 2012: a collection of 30 of 2011's most popular songs. Anita co-produced the album with acclaimed songwriter/producer Rick Robinson and it was recorded live in Chicago at Fellowship Missionary Baptist Church.

"The South Side church, founded by Rev. Clay Evans and currently under the pastorate of chart-topping Pastor Charles Jenkins of 'Awesome' fame, is also the ministry where Anita is a member. Powerful and moving from beginning to end, Anita Wilson's debut collection is refreshing and authentic. Worship Soul is a richly painted portrait of a truly inspired artist, a deeply committed worshipper.

"Recently, the singer was nominated for three 2013 Stellar Awards. The most coveted award in Gospel music, Anita received nominations for Contemporary Female of the Year, Praise & Worship CD of the Year (for Worship Soul) and Urban Inspirational Single or Performance of the Year (for 'Speechless').

"To cap off her phenomenal 2012, Anita was nominated for her first Grammy Award for Best Gospel Album of the Year. In addition, Anita Wilson was tapped to open for the Grammy Award-winning duo Mary Mary for two dates on their tour.

"Ben Ratliff of the New York Times ranked Anita's Worship Soul as the Top 10 Album of 2012. Anita recently played South by Southwest, the nation's most popular music festival."

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6. Chicago at the Potawatomi Casino-Northern Lights Theatre in Milwaukee on Tuesday night.

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7. Ribfest Lineup Announced.

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8. Pitchfork Wins National Magazine Award.

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9. Bloodshot's Dex Romweber Duo Slated For Muddy Roots Spring Weekender.

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10. The Body Signs To Thrill Jockey.

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11. The Shoes At FitzGerald's On Saturday Night; Patti Smith At The Vic Next Week.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:18 AM | Permalink

The Cook County Forest Preserve Actually Has A Lot Of Cool Things Going On

From Cook County Forest Preserve PR:

Birding Paddle

Saturday, May 4, 9 a.m.

Skokie Lagoons, Winnetka. Meet at the Tower Road Boat Launch (parking lot is located at 1757 Tower Road in Winnetka).

Space is limited; call 708.771.1189 to reserve a spot.

Join us for this free paddling event during the height of bird migration.

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Crabtree Nature Center's International Migratory Bird Day Celebration

Saturday, May 11, noon - 4 p.m.

Crabtree Nature Center, Palatine Road, one mile west of Barrington Road.

The annual event brings attention to the challenges that migratory birds face every year. Join our staff and volunteers from the Prairie Woods Audubon Society as we identify birds along our trails. Activities will include Beginning Birding, our Migratory Bird Obstacle Course Challenge, and more.

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A Celebration Of Birds: International Migratory Bird Day at the Sagawau Environmental Learning Center

Saturday, May 11, 7 a.m. - 3 p.m.

Sagawau Environmental Learning Center, 12545 W 111th St., Lemont.

Celebrate the lives of migratory birds as they fly across the Americas. Learn simple ways to identify and protect these birds by visiting our Tip Stations. Join us for bird hikes, bird banding, build a nest box, nest search, and many other activities.

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Nature Block Party at Eggers Woods

Saturday, May 18, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Eggers Grove, 11201 S. Avenue B, Chicago.

The Forest Preserve District of Cook County and the Illinois Department of Natural Resources will be hosting the first-ever Nature Block Party, a free family program celebrating nature, at Eggers Grove and William Powers State Recreation Area.

Activities at Eggers Grove will include guided tree and bird hikes, removal of invasive garlic mustard and other restoration work, bike activities and bike helmet giveaways, while the William Powers State Recreation Area will host fishing and archery. Eggers Grove is located at 11201 S. Avenue B, and William Powers is located at 12949 S. Avenue O, both on Chicago's Southeast Side.

Participants are encouraged to bring their bikes and use the Burnham Greenway Trail to travel between the two sites. Knowledgeable naturalists from the Sand Ridge Nature Center will be available along the tail to provide more information on local plants and wildlife.

The Forest Preserve District will also dedicate the newly renovated Eggers Grove Pavilion with a ribbon-cutting ceremony at 12:30 p.m. New trails, extensions and improvements planned in the area will be highlighted.

This event is part of the National Urban Biodiversity Week, a seven-city collaboration to bring urban dwellers into contact with local flora and fauna. Urban Biodiversity Week will showcase events in the Millennium Reserve: Calumet Core area. It will celebrate urban biodiversity and conservation activities and will provide opportunities for local residents and visitors to participate in outdoor activities in the Calumet region. Please check www.urbanbioweek.illinois.gov for a full list of events happening during the week.

Other event partners include Wild Indigo, University of Illinois Extension, the Chicago Park District and the Calumet Ecological Park Association.

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Aquatics Centers Open

Saturday, May 25

- Whealan Pool Aquatic Center, 6200 W. Devon Avenue, east of Milwaukee Avenue, Chicago

- Cermak Family Aquatic Center, 7600 W. Ogden Avenue, west of Harlem Avenue, at the Des Plaines River, Lyons

- Green Lake Family Aquatic Center, 1100 River Oaks Drive, Calumet City

Admission to all Aquatics Centers is FREE on Saturday, May 25. For the rest of the summer, rates are:

Children 3 & under: FREE
Children ages 4 to 12: $4.00
Adults (12 years & older): $6.00
Family Aquatic Pass is $150.00/family of 4 (additional members are $35/person).
An Individual Aquatic Pass is $40.00.

Special event rentals of the facilities for the 2013 summer season are also be available.

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About The Forest Preserve District of Cook County
Established in 1914, the Forest Preserve District of Cook County is the oldest and largest forest preserve system in the nation, maintaining more than 68,000 acres of open land for the education, pleasure and recreation of the public.

The District strives to protect and restore the county's diverse ecosystems, so all our unique native plants and animals can live and thrive. Each year, millions of people use these lands and facilities to enjoy or study nature, bicycle, hike, fish, cross-country ski, picnic, golf, canoe, or simply relax in a large preserve that leaves urban life behind.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:22 AM | Permalink

May 2, 2013

Penny Pritzker Is Trending

President Obama totally did not add to the political cynicism he so often pretends to abhor by nominating billionaire hotel heiress and major campaign bundler Penny Pritzker as his next commerce secretary today.

Instead, he chose a self-made woman and noted education expert whose desire to serve her ego is nearly unmatched in America.

Bravo!

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Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:22 AM | Permalink

The [Thursday] Papers

"Investigative Reporters & Editors, Inc. is launching a new award - dubbed the Golden Padlock - recognizing the most secretive publicly-funded agency or person in the United States. It is calling on journalists and the public for worthy nominees," IRE announced this morning.

"This honor acknowledges the dedication of government officials working tirelessly to keep vital information hidden from the public," said David Cay Johnston, president of IRE, a grassroots nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the quality of investigative reporting worldwide. "Their abiding commitment to secrecy and impressive skill in information suppression routinely keeps knowledge about everything from public health risks to government waste beyond the reach of citizens who pay their salaries."

"IRE is now accepting nominations for the inaugural Golden Padlock. Nominations should be e-mailed to goldenpadlock@ire.org by May 24. Submissions should include the name of the agency or individual along with reasons and/or media coverage detailing the intransigence.

"Governments at all levels - from local to federal - are eligible for the award. A list of finalists will be announced in early June and the award will be handed out annually at the IRE's national conference.

"The winning public agency or individual will be invited to attend the award ceremony to be 'honored.' This year's conference is June 20 - 23 in San Antonio, TX."

Tough call. I mean, Barack Obama would be a natural choice - and he's the big kahuna.

Daley is gone but Rahm is here - and the rest of the country would be shocked to know the lengths they have each gone to in order to conceal the doings of their administration. That's why it's so easy, or so it's been said, for the Chicago press to win national awards (and you'd think they'd win a lot more) - reporting on schemes and scandal here looks like massive investigative work elsewhere when a lot of it is what the U.S. attorney serves up on a silver platter or simply represents business as usual.

IRE might be interested in the Koschman case, in particular, as an example of a multi-agency cover-up, though I think the award is more geared toward one individual or office that doesn't so much cover things up as locks everything down in the first place.

In any case, I've been a proud member of IRE since college; it's the only professional journalism association I can recommend unreservedly. If I ran a newsroom, I would consider every member of the staff be a member of IRE - it's not just for investigative reporters. I've used the techniques in the IRE handbook my entire career, and I've never been employed as a dedicated investigative reporter. Absorbing and using IRE's reporting methods can and should be put to use in daily reporting; IRE also focuses on beats and topic areas. I just don't understand journalists who don't pay attention to this stuff.

(IRE's first executive director was John Ullmann, who also taught the investigative reporting class I took as an undergraduate at the University of Minnesota; I use a couple key principles from that class to this day, which is one of many reasons why I am a strong advocate of [the right kind of] undergraduate journalism education.)

Piggly Wrigley
I've gathered a lot of string, as they say in the business, on this sad saga, but too much to put into a coherent post today without just unwinding a rant for the ages. Not that there's anything wrong with that, but that involves time and energy not presently aboard. Hope to get it up in the next few days; on the other hand, sometimes I gather string on topics like this and never get to the actual post. I'm just one person. (For example, the day after the Rachel Shteir ridiculousness blew up, I created a post with the headline "Rachel Shteir Is Absolutely Right About Chicago." Unfortunately, the childish responses from our vaunted journalists and the rest of the city's offended elite grew to such a humungous pile of heaping dung that I haven't been able to see my way through it yet to expose what a bunch of frauds most of our press is. So there's that.)

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You can catch up with my preliminary commentary and test lines on the Beachwood's Twitter feed, of course.

Obama Exchange
"Only six insurance carriers have told the state of Illinois they want to sell a combined 165 health policies on the state's online insurance marketplace under the nation's new health care law - numbers far lower than expected, raising concerns the trend will hold true across the country," AP reports.

"Fewer health plans could mean less competition and possibly higher premium prices. Officials in President Barack Obama's home state had anticipated some 260 health plans would be offered by 16 different insurance carriers, based on a survey the Illinois Department of Insurance conducted last fall.

"The Illinois numbers are an early indicator that insurance companies are backing away from full participation in the online marketplaces, said Robert Laszewski, a former insurance executive turned industry consultant."

It's gonna be a mess - and rather than be a stepping stone to a single-payer plan, as some delusionaries suggest in their farflung fantasies of a president supposedly playing 3-D chess, it's far more likely to put the kabosh on ideas like Medicare-for-all for good.

Penny Pritzker Is Trending
We take a look.

Documenting Violence Against Women
"Join Steve Edwards, from the Institute of Politics at the University of Chicago, as he moderates a discussion among journalists, advocates for survivors, and criminal justice leaders about violence against women, its news coverage, and the potential for increased data access to impact the public discussion."

Panelists include Sun-Times editor-in-chief Jim Kirk.

Journalism's Most Dangerous Beats
Politics, corruption.

SATs Do Not Test For Maturity
"Evanston bar World of Beer has canceled a University of Illinois alumni event scheduled for next week after a swell of complaints from Northwestern University students and fans, a U of I spokesman confirmed," Crain's reports.

"The 'Fighting Illini caravan,' featuring Illinois football coach Tim Beckman, men's basketball coach John Groce, women's basketball coach Matt Bollant and Athletic Director Mike Thomas, had been scheduled to appear at the bar May 8 for an 'Our State, Our Team' promotion after spending the day at rallies downtown.

"Since Illinois announced its plans last week, however, students from Northwestern's 'Wildside' fan organization formed a Facebook group protesting the event."

Call the wahmbulance.

A Night At The Opera
The leather, the clubs, the shrieking, the blood.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Like a day at the races.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:10 AM | Permalink

May 1, 2013

The [Wednesday] Papers

It's 1:20 p.m. as I write this and I've spent most of my day talking to people about Rahm's new parking meter deal and the Ricketts' proposed Wrigley renovation. Here's my unsurprising takeaway: People are lying to you. Namely, Rahm and Ricketts.

Unfortunately, I no longer have the time to write up a column given my stepped-up efforts lately to figure out how to pay my bills, so you'll just have to trust me on that at least until tomorrow.

Here's some awesome new Beachwood material we have elsewhere on the site today, though:

* Exclusive! Behind The Wrigley Renovation: One thing's for sure - it will be a LED-certified project.

* Pizzeria UNO vs. UNO Schools: Bad Yelp reviews and indictments are both inevitable.

* Chicagoetry: A Night At The Opera: The leather, the clubs, the shrieking, the blood.

* Fantasy Fix: Run Support: Where to get it, cheap.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Fort in a port.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 1:18 PM | Permalink

Chicagoetry: A Night At The Opera

A NIGHT AT THE OPERA

"The bullies . . . may have been mistreated children and worthy of understanding but would nevertheless kill you." -Stanley Booth, on the Hell's Angels at Altamont, from "The True Adventures of the Rolling Stones."

Is this the real life?
Is this just fantasy?
Caught in a landslide,
No escape from reality.

Queen
Was coming
To the Stadium.

They were touring
"A Day at the Races."

I had to be
At that show.

There was
Nothing for it
But to sleep out
In front

Of the Flipside
Record store

At the Ogden
Strip Mall
at Naperville Road
And Ogden Avenue.

I took Mom's
Gold '76 Dart
And loaded up
With blankets

And a lawn chair.

I wasn't quite
First in line;
A couple of acquaintances
From Naperville Central

Were already there--
Including our dope-smoking Quarterback--
Plus a couple of dudes
From nearby Warrenville.

We set up
Our little line,
And somebody
Had a boom-box.

We listened
To tunes
And rapped
About rock,

About
What other
Cool shows
We'd seen.

Open your eyes,
Look up to the skies
And see...

Then: the fucking
Greasers showed up.
A gang of local toughs,
Literally in black leather jackets,

Blue jeans and boots,

Fucking Lords of Flatbush
Cornball, looking back,
But you best
Kept your mouth

Shut about it
Since they'd just as soon
Crack open your skull
As look at you.

The leader ignored me
And started making nice
With the Doper QB.
Fine by me.

Then, he zeroes in
On a dude from
Warrenville,
Taunting him, really

Fucking with him
In a menacing way.
At one point,
He picked up

A huge rock
And used it
To smash this dude's
Lawn chair up.

It became clear
They'd encountered
One another
Before.

The Greasers split,
For the moment,
And the Warrenville dude went
To a pay phone.

Soon, he had
A sizable crew
Gathered for what was clearly
Going to be

Another confrontation.
Sure enough, the Flatbush Fucks
Returned, and the crews
Stood each other off,

Making some kind
Of negotiation.
It was decided, apparently,
To get it on.

Here's the thing:
The leader of the
Naperville crew
Went into the back

Of his pick-up truck
And started handing out
Huge two-by-fours,
Some clearly honed

For skull-busting,
While the Warrenville crew
Obviously hadn't bargained
On any weapons.

They scattered,
But the Naperville boys
Caught a couple of them
And began

To fucking
Pummel them
With these massive
Clubs.

One dude, shrieking, managed
To get himself
Under a car
For safety.

I had never
Seen anything
Like it. My blood
Was up

In fear,
My adrenaline
Heightening my senses
And actually

Keeping me from running
Which I think
Would have attracted
The wrong kind

Of attention.
Somebody
At the mall
Called the cops

And the Greasers
Got lost.
The cops talked
To the Warrenville dudes

But not to me
Nor to the Doper QB.
Apparently, that
Was the end of it.

Any way the wind blows
Doesn't really matter
To me...

Except it wasn't:
A short while later,
The Warrenville crew
Returned,

This time
To the front of the movie theater
Next door.
I will never forget this:

Two young men were walking
Out of the theater
Toward their cars
When the Warrenville crew

Walked toward them,
The leader coming up to them
And thrusting BOTH his fists forward,
Smacking each guy

In the face
Simultaneously
As he walked
Between them,

Taking his
Rage
And vengeance out
On innocent bystanders.

The cops came again
And talked to the
Victims
In front of the theater.

What a night!

As the darkness deepened
And the mall cleared out,
We found ourselves
A little worse

For the wear
But finally ready to crash.
This, too, I will
Never forget:

At this strip mall,
They leave the humming
Yellow lights
Over the walkways

On all night.

As well
As the Muzak.

Lord: the Muzak...

After that eerie, violent
Evening, here's me
Trying to crash
On a lawn chair

At a strip mall
But I can barely
Close my eyes
With the humming lights

And relentless
Muzak.

Dawn arrived,
The Flipside opened
And we scored
Our tickets

Without further incident.
Before we left,
A dude had his boom-box
Tuned into the Loop

For "The Steve and Garry
Show." I'd never heard
The guy before, but
Got a kick out of his playing

Rod Stewart's
"Da Ya Think I'm Sexy?"
Only to harshly draw
The needle back across it

To the sound of
A loud explosion.
It was to be
The beginning

Of a beautiful friendship.

Later, back in school,
Flatbush Fuck
Sees me
In the hall

And goes "Tindall:
You didn't see
ANYTHING
The other night..."

I just nodded
My head.
I still hate
That sorry-ass

Cocksucker.
I wish him
And his crew
Naught but ill,

To this day.
I realize
It may be wrong
But it is, nevertheless,

The truth.

I don't care
What abuse he endured
At home
To make him

That way.
Fuck him anyway.

Nothing really matters,
Anyone can see.
Nothing really matters

To me...anyway
The wind blows...

The concert
Was another story
For another time.
The smashed lawn chair,

The leather, the clubs,
The shrieking, the blood,
The adrenaline,
The second attack

All stick in my head
And probably will
Forever, along with
The humming yellow lights

And the Muzak, Lord,
The Muzak.

-

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

-

More Tindall:

* Chicagoetry: The Book

* Ready To Rock: The Music

* Kindled Tindall: The Novel

* The Viral Video: The Match Game Dance

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:41 PM | Permalink

Fantasy Fix: Run Support

One of the most obvious maxims of baseball is "To win games, you need to score runs."

That may not always be true in fantasy baseball weekly match-ups, however, especially in those leagues that count every stat up to and including put-outs.

Yet at some point this season, no matter what kind of league you're in, runs could be the stat category that turns a weekly match-up loss into a win, or vice versa. It may not even make that big a difference, perhaps even just a point that proves valuable in playoff bracketing later on.

The runs category is probably in the back of the minds of fantasy owners on draft day, though probably almost never top of mind. You figure you will pick up runs with players that hit a lot of home runs (Justin Upton, leading MLB with 12 HRs and third in runs scored with 22) and steal a lot of bases (Coco Crisp, second in MLB with 8 SBs and second in runs scored with 24), or are generally fantastic across multiple categories (Mike Trout, who did everything in 2012, including lead MLB in both runs scored and SBs), but if you find yourself a few runs short during the season, it might be a good idea to head to the waiver wire with the runs in mind.

When looking for runs, it's good to keep in mind some rather obvious guidelines:

1. High OBP: On-base percentage, or in any case, lots of walks, should translate to more runs.

2. Stolen bases: The leading base-stealers get themselves into scoring position more often than slowpokes.

3. Lead-off hitters: They get more plate appearances, generally hit a few spots ahead of the big bats and usually get their jobs because they are pretty good with OBP, SBs or both.

4. Extra-base hits: If you can put yourself on second or third base, you should score even in some of the league's more inept offenses

Some of the best run-scorers are already taken in most leagues, but I noticed a couple bargains just this week:

Nate McLouth: 15 runs scored so far in just 93 plate appearances, available in 36% of Yahoo! leagues. He often bats lead-off, is among the SB leaders with eight, and right now has an OBP per .450. McLouth was once considered a multi-tool fantasy stud, and though he faded over the years, his role in Baltimore's strong lineup suggests he can help with runs and other categories.

Starling Marte: 20 runs scored so far, available in 25% of Yahoo! leagues. He has seven SBs and has helped himself into prime scoring position with two triples (which qualifies as a lot at the end of April). He also frequently hits lead-off.

Josh Rutledge: 19 runs scored so far, available in 25% of Yahoo! leagues. Doesn't walk a lot, although he has eight walks in 102 plate appearances, compared to just nine in about 300 PAs last year. He is also hitting only .213, but bats second in a productive lineup and already has five SBs

Expert Wire
* Bleacher Report lists April's fantasy baseball downers, including Josh Hamilton.

* SI.com likes former Cubs pitcher Andrew Cashner as a waiver wire pick-up.

* Yahoo! Roto Arcade looks at Giancarlo Stanton, who hit the DL right after he finally started hitting HRs again.

-

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

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:29 AM | Permalink

Exclusive! Behind The Wrigley Renovation

Tom Ricketts finally dribbled out his family's renovation plans for Wrigley Field on Tuesday, in advance of his big presentation at the City Club today showing why we should all take pity on how one of America's richest families is being restrained from running its own business by pesky binding contracts, existing preservation law, city building and zoning codes, annoying neighbors and general Kubs Karma. Hint: The new Wrigley will look like an LED sign convention.

The Beachwood, as usual, has obtained the Ricketts' confidential companion marketing plan to the renovation. Here are the highlights:

* LED ribbons on players' bats.

* LED ribbons on players' hats.

* LED ribbons on all black cats.

* LED ribbons on Wrigley's rats.

* LED ribbons on Dale's tats.

* Instead of walk-up songs, Cubs batters will choose walk-up commercials.

* Fans will be replaced by renderings of fans.

* Team will save money by not counting Cubs errors.

* Actual games will be played at Payton Prep while Wrigley will be used for concerts, hockey games and Northwestern football.

* Relief pitchers to be driven to mound in cars sponsored by Bob Rohrman.

* Revenue from every beer sold goes to fund Joe Ricketts' next movie.

* Views from the rooftops to be shielded by Romulan cloaking device.

* Mark Grace's car will be retired in the first of a new series of promotions.

* Farm system will actually become a system of working farms.

* The proposed Triangle Building will become a Triangle Waistshirt Factory.

* Wrigley Field to be renamed after Bazooka unless Wrigley Company ponies up the sponsorship dough.

* Team will save money by combining TV and radio broadcasters into one position and giving the job to this guy.

* Team will change name to the Chicago Nikes unless Lincoln Park Zoo coughs up the sponsorship dough.

* The Captain Morgan Club will be renamed The J.P. Morgan Club.

* In what is sure to be a winner, team will lease all seats to Chicago Parking Meters LLC for the next 75 years in exchange for a big upfront payment.

-

See also: Exclusive! Inside The Ricketts' New Wrigleyville Hotel.

-

Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:51 AM | Permalink

Pizzeria UNO vs. UNO Schools

UNO Schools: Built from clout.
Pizzeria UNO: Built from scratch.

Pizzeria UNO: Serves patrons.
UNO Schools: Hires relatives of patrons.

Pizzeria UNO: Comes with extra cheese.
UNO Schools: Comes with extra bullshit.

Pizzeria UNO: Deep dish.
UNO Schools: Deep throat.

Pizzeria UNO: Gratuity included.
UNO Schools: Favors noted.

Pizzeria UNO: All about patrons.
UNO Schools: All about patronage.

Pizzeria UNO: Comes veggie style.
UNO Schools: Comes with learning gardens.

Pizzeria UNO: Soft crust.
UNO Schools: Upper crust.

UNO Schools: Serve pizzaburgers.
Pizzeria UNO: Serves pizza and burgers.

Pizzeria UNO: Expansion must pass zoning requirements.
UNO Schools: Expansion must pass House.

Pizzeria UNO: Must pass health inspection.
UNO Schools: Must pass inspector general.

Pizzeria UNO: Family-run business.
UNO Schools: Family-run business.

Pizzeria UNO: Bad Yelp reviews inevitable.
UNO Schools: Indictments inevitable.

-

Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:03 AM | Permalink

MUSIC - Christgau Loves Chicago Neonatologist.
TV - Amazon & The Way Of The World.
POLITICS - Yes On Vouchers For After-School Programs.
SPORTS - The Ex-Cub Factor.

BOOKS - Writers Under Surveillance.

PEOPLE PLACES & THINGS - Original Warrior.


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