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« July 2010 | Main | September 2010 »

August 31, 2010

Manny Vision

I hate the White Sox but some of the hand-wringing over the acquisition of Manny Ramirez is driving me crazy. Bottom line: The team is better with him than without him.

So what's the problem?

Yes, the move doesn't address what seems to be the team's biggest problem: The bullpen. It doesn't help that the Twins have done just that for the third time this season, adding former Angels closer Brian Fuentes to new addition Randy Flores to former Nationals closer Matt Capps, whom the team acquired in July.

But most of what I'm hearing and reading about Manny is just plain ignorant.

For example, the Tribune's Paul Sullivan said on Chicago Tribune Live last week that Manny "hasn't done anything" since his steroids scandal.

Really?

"With Ramirez in the starting lineup, the Dodgers are 10 games over .500. In 73 games without him, they are seven under," STATS reported before the Sox acquisition. "With Ramirez starting, the Dodgers hit .282, and score an average of 5.3 runs per game. Without him, they're at .241 and 3.6 runs a game."

STATS also notes that "Ramirez - who's currently hitting his career average, .313 - would knock in 101 runs over a full season."

Manny has hitting his career average.

Now it's true that he's been on the DL three times this year. Inability to push through - and recover quickly - from injuries may be the biggest impact of not being on the juice anymore.

But when he's healthy he can still rake.

Manny's OBP is .405 and his OPS is .915.

Compare that to current White Sox DHs, who are hitting a collective .241 with a .310 OBP and a .707 OPS.

The Sox have made a significant upgrade. They may not have made the move or moves to prevent more runs, but they will score more runs.

(His Wins Above Replacement number is 1; in a close race this could be the difference. That one, single home run, perhaps, that gives the Sox at least a share of the division title.)

"In 456 at-bats since his suspension was lifted July 3, 2009, Ramirez has hit .287 with 21 home runs and 83 RBIs with 30 doubles," the Trib's David Haugh sniffs.

I'll take it!

"This year, a body that has begun to break down since his positive test has limited Ramirez to a solid .311 average with a disappointing eight home runs and 40 RBIs in 196 at-bats," Haugh writes. "Yes, you can prorate those numbers and speculate Ramirez would have the second-best power statistics on the Sox to Paul Konerko. But at this stage of Ramirez's career, doing that is a little like a college kid projecting future earnings after a good night at the blackjack table."

Is 40 RBIs in 196 at-bats really disappointing? Only if you're not allowed to prorate those numbers!

"Heading into Monday night's game against the Indians, no team in the majors had scored more runs than the Sox in August (141). Mark Teahen, whose at-bats will be limited now, was hitting .316 with a home run and seven RBIs since returning Aug. 13. Ozzie's Way was working."

Unless you prorate the numbers!

But apparently Mark Teahen maintaining his "hot" streak is less of a gamble than Manny Ramirez in a contract drive!

This is why it's hard to take our local sportswriters seriously.

Instead, check out this post at FanGraphs, which is as succinct and smart as I've found.

And you know what else? It's practically risk-free!

According to CoolStandings, the Sox have a 12 percent chance of winning the division. There's nothing wrong with throwing a Hail Manny.

After all, the move didn't cost the Sox a single prospect. And the money? As the Trib's Teddy Greenstein said on CTL, it's Jerry Reinsdorf's money, so who cares!

But the million dollars the team will lay out for the remainder of the year could be largely made back by increased attendance and merchandise. The remainder? We'll see. Maybe Kenny Williams brings Manny back next year.

In the meantime, Mannywood comes to the South Side. Tell me you won't be watching.

-

Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:50 AM | Permalink

The [Tuesday] Papers

"St. Louis music fans celebrated 'Jeff Tweedy Day' on Sunday, Aug. 29, when Mayor Francis G. Slay officially honored the Wilco frontman in conjunction with his solo performance at the city's Loufest. Slay made the announcement just hours before a 90-minute concert by Tweedy, a native of nearby Belleville, Ill.," Spinner reports.

"Tweedy joked to the crowd that the proclamation was 'the stupidest thing I've ever heard,' according to a report by the Riverfront Times.

Stink Eye
"Driving into Chicago always makes me evil," Peter Michael Miller writes in his We Are The Willows tour diary> "I get really uptight and curse at people that I most likely wouldn't curse at normally. I played at a joint called Quenchers SALOON and it felt a lot like a Minneapolis bar."

Retry Robert!
Why? Because he's guilty.

Hail Manny!
Why? Because he makes the White Sox better.

*

Yes, I hate the White Sox. I don't want them to be better. Just sayin'.

Transformer
Miley Cyrus is scheduled to be here tomorrow on a film shoot.

Oh my God, shut down the streets!

Cheli Whack
"Veteran defenseman Chris Chelios has officially called it a career and will move into a front office role with the Detroit Red Wings," the Toronto Sun reports.

Volt Dolt
"With journalists and firefighters gathered nearby, members of the Chicago Fire Department ripped apart an already battered Chevy Volt last week," Cars.com reports. "No, it wasn't retribution for Chevrolet's sponsorship of last season's Green Bay Packers. It's part of a joint effort by Chevrolet and the National Fire Protection Association, which is funded by a $4.4 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy, to educate emergency responders about strategies for dealing with electric-vehicle crashes."

Can't you just, um, unplug them?

Web Wobblies
"In a first for the Writers Guild of America East, the union has added Web-only content writers/producers to its roster of represented employees," Broadcasting & Cable reports.

"According to the union, the stations' four web-only news staffers at CBS' WBBM-TV Chicago voted Aug. 27 to join the guild."

Or maybe we should call them Webblies.

Psst . . .
"By the way," he says, in a voice that usually means I'm going to get yelled at for leaving a beer can on the porch. "Your mother just came home. She has breast cancer."

And with that, he turns back to the computer.

- Our very own Claudia Hunter in today's episode of Cirque du Familie

Jay The Joke
Perez Hilton (barf) says Jay Cutler's got a new girlfriend . . .

-

The Future of News?

-

The Beachwood Tip Line: Psst.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:41 AM | Permalink

Retry Robert!

Okay, it's too late for that to happen. But dropping the charges against Blago's brother amidst a weird groundswell of pundit sympathy hardly equates with justice.

Let's review.

Burris Buddy
The amnesiac media forgets that Robert Blagojevich first came to our attention during the Roland Burris saga.

"A former top official for then-Gov. Rod Blagojevich said Thursday he got a 'courtesy call' from Roland Burris last fall noting Burris' interest in a vacant U.S. Senate seat - a contact Burris failed to mention to lawmakers in his evolving testimony about how he got the job," the Tribune reported on February 20, 2009.

"In a Feb. 4 affidavit Burris quietly filed with the Democratic leader of the House committee, he revealed other contacts he had with Blagojevich allies and insiders, including Robert Blagojevich, the former governor's brother and chief fundraiser, who requested fundraising help."

Get it?

But as part of his own media strategy to gain sympathy among potential jurors, Robert and his wife gave the compliant Sun-Times an "exclusive" last September that reframed that incident without challenge.

"Rob Blagojevich declined to discuss the specifics of the criminal case. But he pointed to an exchange last November between himself and Roland Burris, who eventually got the Senate appointment. The secretly recorded conversation was made public as part of a U.S. Senate ethics inquiry. Burris can be heard telling Rob Blagojevich that he's feeling conflicted, that he wants to give to Rod Blagojevich 's campaign fund but worries how it would look as he sought the Senate seat appointment.

"On tape, Rob Blagojevich presses Burris to donate to his brother. But, regarding the Senate seat, he's heard essentially telling Burris: Get in line, that others also were seeking the appointment.

"'How I conducted myself with Burris is how I conducted myself with everyone when no one was looking,' Rob Blagojevich told the Sun-Times."

But this is how the New York Times - in a tone quite similar to other reports - saw it in "Burris Says Audiotape Confirms Innocence" on May 28, 2009

"In speaking with Robert Blagojevich, who served as his brother's top fund-raiser, Mr. Burris seemed to contemplate ways to raise money for the governor without creating a public perception that he was trying to buy the Senate seat. Perhaps he could write a check, he said at one point. At another, he said, 'I might be able to do this in the name of' his law partner, who, he added, 'is not looking for an appointment.'

"'I'm just trying to figure out what the best way to do where it won't create any conflict for either one of us,' he said, ultimately pledging that he would 'personally do something' and 'it'll be done before the 15th of December.'"

"Mr. Blagojevich was arrested by federal agents on Dec. 9 . . .

"Two inquiries are continuing into how Mr. Burris received his appointment, and whether he told the truth to state legislators to whom he testified later. He at first said he had had no earlier contact with the governor's representatives about his appointment. Weeks later, he described talks with Mr. Blagojevich's allies, including his brother."

Two-Way Networker
Is it possible Robert Blagojevich didn't understand the nature of the conversation he was saying with Burris? Hardly.

"Though Robert Blagojevich had always been involved in politics, his background was in banking," the Tribune reported in April 2009. "He headed up a Nashville bank's trust and investment divisions and also sold securities in Tampa, where he got his degree. His success even earned him a chance to give the commencement speech at the University of Tampa in May 2008.

"'I've been very lucky to have benefited numerous times from people who knew people who led me to a new opportunity or advanced me in my business,' he said, according to a copy of his speech. 'Networking should be a two-way street, though. In order to build a network of centers of influence, you should be willing to help someone yourself.'"

Military Stooge
For a guy who used to have top-secret security clearance in the Army and whose success as a businessman is always noted, Robert Blagojevich sure gets a lot of credit for being the most naive person in the history of American politics to head up a campaign fund for the governor of the nation's fifth-most populous state.

"I've got to admit there's a part of me that feels a little sorry for Robert Blagojevich," Sun-Times columnist Mark Brown wrote in June in trademark wishy-washy style.

"These feelings of sympathy for Robert Blagojevich have come and gone several times during the year and a half since Rod Blagojevich 's arrest - and even in the process of writing this column - as I've argued out the evidence with myself.

"It doesn't help Robert 's case that he's a year older than Rod. After all, the older brother is supposed to know better."

In novels, maybe. This is real life.

"Nor does it help that Robert was on Rod's campaign payroll at a salary of $12,500 a month - or $150,000 a year - when federal prosecutors say he was caught on wiretaps taking part in his brother's shakedown schemes. At that rate of pay, he had even more of a responsibility to know what he'd gotten himself into."

Well, he is a military man, as the media keeps reminding us. Honor, accountability, all that stuff.

"It won't help Robert that one of the wiretaps recorded Rod advising caution to big brother on how to approach a friend of Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. for campaign contributions as he dangled an appointment to the U.S. Senate.

"'You gotta be careful how you express that and assume everybody's listening, the whole world is listening. You hear me?' Rod tells him.

"Rod also advised his brother to conduct a crucial meeting on the Senate seat in person instead of over the phone, both of which should have been red flags to an honest person."

To a dishonest person, too.

"Robert 's main legal problem is that he is the one who made the direct approach for campaign contributions after consulting with Rod.

"He's accused of being part of the conspiracy to sell Barack Obama's Senate seat and in separate schemes to extort campaign donations from an executive at Children's Memorial Hospital, an Illinois racetrack owner and a construction contractor.

"In all instances, he was the middleman who asked for the money. Even if he believes he never personally overstepped his legal bounds, he must have realized the game Rod was playing."

Of course he did. He said so himself - it was "just politics." As he saw it.

Robert's Testimony
"Everything had gone so well on the witness stand Monday for Robert Blagojevich, the former governor's brother and co-defendant," Brown wrote in a later column.

"Finally, after all these months, he'd gotten the chance to tell his story and to tell it his way, coming across as every bit the solid former military officer and successful businessman that his lawyer Michael Ettinger had portrayed in opening statements.

"More than that, he'd been the anti-Blago - a sober sensible adult with a voice and demeanor at odds with his flamboyant politico sibling, topped off with a grown-up's haircut that doesn't try to hide the gray.

"His testimony, backed up with new wiretaps that seemed to cut in his favor, had played out so positively that even a prosecution-sympathetic observer such as myself was left second-guessing whether he really deserved to be on trial with little brother.

"And then it all blew up in Robert Blagojevich 's face in just the first 15 minutes of cross-examination by federal prosecutor Chris Niewoehner as the former chairman of Friends of Blagojevich was left trying to explain a previously unheard conversation in which he counseled brother Rod to conduct 'horse trading' with then President-elect Barack Obama to kill the federal criminal investigation of his administration.

"The Nov. 5, 2008, discussion came one day after the presidential election at a time the Blagojeviches already knew Obama wanted Valerie Jarrett as his replacement but a month before the governor's arrest when the full extent of the investigation would become known.

"'If you can get Obama to get [U.S. Attorney Patrick] Fitzgerald to close the investigation on you, it completely provides you with total clarity,' Robert Blagojevich was quoted as telling Rod in a transcript read by Niewoehner, suggesting this as a more realistic gambit than angling for a Cabinet appointment.

"On the witness stand, Robert argued his suggestion had nothing to do with Jarrett's appointment, but didn't offer a more convincing explanation. He said he meant it 'in the context of what politicians do.'"

Which is what, doing the president a favor to get a federal investigation killed?

"One minute he's testifying about how he'd taken pains to maintain a separation between fund-raising and official government action and fully appreciated the legal ramifications, and the next minute he's defending the idea of political interference in a federal corruption probe.

"Robert said he'd only made the suggestion 'as a concerned brother,' and argued he'd been 'very naive to suggest that.'"

Yes, that was when Robert had his "concerned brother" hat on. Then he took that hat off and put on his "campaign director" hat and advised that it was a terrible idea. That must be how it happened.

"You could interpret that as naive, I suppose, but you could also see it as symptomatic of the same cynical, amoral world view that characterized Rod's political machinations."

Bear in mind that Robert was inspired to go into real estate - this is not a joke - by watching infomercials.

The Lying Game
"On a tape played Monday by the defense, Robert could be heard insisting forcefully to an Indian businessman interested in Jesse Jackson Jr.'s selection that 'money is not going to be a factor' in Rod's pick to replace Obama.

"'Rod's going to do what's best for Illinois. Nothing else matters,' Robert said, sounding as if he meant it," Brown continues.

But we know from the other tapes that Robert knows otherwise. He has spent months listening to his brother tie decisions to fundraising.

The Jackson Affair
"Three months after he took over his brother's campaign fund, Robert Blagojevich said he was approached with an offer by a longtime fund-raiser to U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr.: Then-Gov. Rod Blagojevich would get $6 million in campaign money if he appointed the congressman to Barack Obama's open U.S. Senate seat," the Sun-Times reported during the trial.

"The offer came from longtime Jackson fund-raiser Raghu Nayak, the man authorities described in charging documents as an emissary of Jackson Jr., Robert Blagojevich said.

"Testifying for the defense on Monday, Robert Blagojevich said that at an Oct. 31, 2008, fund-raising meeting, Nayak promised that if Jackson were appointed, $1 million would be raised for Blagojevich by the end of 2008 and then another $5 million would go to Blagojevich after Jackson became senator.

"Robert Blagojevich testified that three days earlier, state employee Rajinder Bedi told him of a $1.5 million offer for Jackson's appointment. Bedi, who testified for the prosecution, said he met with Robert Blagojevich the same day he had a breakfast meeting with Jackson in which Nayak told Jackson he'd raise $1 million for Blagojevich if Jackson were appointed senator.

"Robert Blagojevich said he relayed the information from Bedi to his brother.

"'We thought it was just a joke,' Robert Blagojevich testified of Bedi's overture. 'It was outrageous.'"

Forgive me for not recalling Robert's lawyer introducing into evidence a tape that captured that sentiment. Instead, we heard Rod talk about how he was reconsidering a Jackson appointment.

"His testimony on Monday in part served to explain phone calls regarding the Senate seat, including on Dec. 4, 2008, when former Gov. Rod Blagojevich told him to approach Nayak and tell him Jackson would be elevated: 'If there's tangible political support like you've said, start showing us now.'"

This is where the infamous Starbucks defense comes in.

"Robert Blagojevich testified he got the call from his brother while he was at Starbucks on a rare outing his wife, Julie, and was only half-paying attention.

"'I thought he was being rude. He knew I was with Julie,' Robert said."

How would that be rude? Why does it matter that he was in a Starbucks? You've never taken an important call when you're out for coffee? You don't pay attention when the governor is talking about who he is going to appoint to the United States Senate? Please.

"Robert Blagojevich said he wasn't exactly sure what his brother meant by 'tangible political support.'"

It just escaped the imagination of the director of fundraising?

"He said he did set up a meeting with Nayak and after a newspaper article was published reporting that the then-governor may have been captured on a wire, he postponed the meeting."

HELLO, PEOPLE!

"Did you intend at any time to bring up fund-raising with Raghu Nayak when you met him?" Ettinger asked.

"No," Robert Blagojevich said.

They were just going to share an expresso.

Political Value
"Cross-examining Robert Blagojevich, Assistant U.S. Attorney Chris Niewoehner repeatedly asked him whether he urged his brother to exchange the appointment of Jarrett in for a promise from Obama to pull the plug on the federal corruption investigation," AP reported.

"'As a part of horse-trading, right?' Niewoehner said.

"'Absolutely not!' Robert Blagojevich shot back, raising his voice.

"He said he never suggested to his brother that he try to wrest any personal benefit from the Senate seat but only things of 'political value' that would advance the then-governor's legislative agenda.

"[Robert's lawyer Michael] Ettinger replayed a recording initially played by prosecutors in which Robert Blagojevich is heard telling the governor 'the only brotherly advice I'd give ya . . .I wouldn't give anything away.'"

But what about "Rod's going to do the best for Illinois, nothing else matters"?

"Robert Blagojevich said he merely was talking about getting a good political deal."

But what about "Rod's going to be the best for Illinois, nothing else matters"?

"He testified that his brother frequently spoke of naming Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan to the Senate seat. The idea was to make a deal with her father, House Speaker Michael Madigan (D-Chicago), that would put his legislative program through the House.

"Robert Blagojevich also said he often was outside the loop when his brother and political advisers met to discuss raising campaign contributions. He said the governor often would go in a back office with lobbyists such as former aides Alonzo Monk and John Wyma to discuss fundraising matters."

Hello?

"He described himself as merely "the score keeper" of the campaign fund. He also said fundraising for his brother was difficult in part because of reports that the administration was under investigation."

So at this point you knew your brother had lied to you about the investigation being behind him - or you knew perfectly well where things stood when you took the job. Either way.

"At one point, Robert Blagojevich went out of his way to address the profanities he and his brother threw around on the secret FBI recordings. Breaking courtroom protocol, he turned toward the jury without his attorney asking any direct question on the subject. "If anyone was offended by the vulgarity, I apologize,' he said casting his eyes around the courtroom. 'I didn't expect anyone would hear me.'"

Just A Dupe
"[Robert] Blagojevich told the jury he had a bright career in the Army, leading a platoon that oversaw strategic Pershing missiles in Germany during the Cold War," the Tribune reported. "He went into banking after leaving active duty, he testified, and eventually started up in real estate after he watched an infomercial on a hotel television."

Told ya.

"Robert Blagojevich's lawyer, Michael Ettinger, asked him about a Dec. 4, 2008, conversation between the brothers in which the governor said of Jackson that he was 'elevating him now.' It was in this conversation that Rod Blagojevich talked about help from the Jackson camp, and that 'some of it can be tangible upfront' - a reference, the government alleges, to the fundraising promise.

"Robert Blagojevich said he was annoyed during the call because he was at a Starbucks with his wife and repeatedly gave short answers to speed the call along. He also said he was 'not quite sure' what the governor meant by his 'tangible' comment. "But I know it had nothing to do with that approach (to Jackson) because that was a dead issue,' Blagojevich told the jury."

Except Rod was telling him a Jackson appointment was no longer dead. That was the point of the conversation. Jackson was now being "elevated" because the Jackson camp was (allegedly) offering a deal.

Media Strategy
"The strategy was, it was a disappointment I wasn't acquitted. It was important to reach the next jury pool," Robert told the Chicago News Cooperative after charges against him were dropped.

"We had a 9-3 vote in my favor, so we came very close. And that was with a jury pool that had been polluted by [U.S. Attorney] Patrick Fitzgerald's press conference. So now that we had a trial, it was a good time for me to make a case, be interviewed, explain my situation, and emote whatever I could emote."

Irony Alert
"I haven't lost faith in the institution of my government, but I have lost faith in some of the people who represent government. Because they are the ones who ultimately represent us and when they have unbridled power to what they want to do, and not consider the consequences to the people that they are targeting, we should all as citizens be concerned and warned, and do everything we can to not squander any more of our civil liberties."

Dude, your brother was impeached.

Patsy Cake
So Robert set out to "emote whatever I could emote" in an interview given to (natch) the Sun-Times before the charges against him were dropped in an effort to reach the next jury pool. The paper ran the interview on Sunday anyway.

First, it's a little hard to feel sorry for someone who has spent millions of dollars on lawyers the rest of us couldn't afford. Complain to Ettinger, not us.

Second, a smart guy like you didn't realize the depth of the probe against your brother? Ever hear of Google?

Third, you say "I never would have tied fundraising" to state actions, but didn't you say that was how you thought politics worked? Which is it?

Fourth, enough with the Starbucks defense. What do you suppose made your brother think he could have that kind of discussion with you if you weren't playing ball?

Fifth, the next time you complain about tax dollars being used to prosecute political corruption, throw in a complaint about tax dollars being used to pay the salaries of elected officials who spend their time bowling and hiding in bathrooms instead of doing their jobs.

Finally, to the Sun-Times: Think before you conduct an interview. This was your chance and this is all we get?

Jury Pool Coverage
This wasn't the first time, of course, that the Sun-Times enabled Robert.

In September 2009, the paper published two "exclusives" designed to elicit sympathy and reach at least one juror.

"Rob Blagojevich , who spent 21 years in the Army, said he has always lived by the rules and takes it as a personal affront that the country he has served has, in his view, turned on him," the Sun-Times reported.

Has Robert always lived by the rules? I have no idea, and neither does the Sun-Times. Just because he says it doesn't mean you have to write it down.

"Their mother had often cried to them about her own brothers and how they'd grown estranged."

If we're going to keep hearing about this, we ought to hear about why they became estranged. Perhaps one of them didn't live by the rules?

"Rob Blagojevich won a military scholarship and, after graduating cum laude, went on active military duty. By 25, he was living in Germany, had distinguished himself in the Army and was in charge of three Pershing nuclear missiles.

"He moved back to the United States, and his career in financial services took off. At one point, he was in charge of $3.5 billion in trust assets with First American, then Tennessee's biggest bank."

Just want to reinforce the notion here that Robert is far from the naif he is constantly portrayed as.

"My husband is an innocent man, wrongly accused," his wife, Julie, said. "He's done nothing wrong. He's been portrayed to be the bagman for his brother. . . . He is so not that person. He's the most honorable, forthright, direct . . . moral person you will ever, ever meet."

Examples, please.

"Rob Blagojevich said he spent years building a good reputation as a businessman in Nashville."

He says that, but an examination of his record in Nashville would be more instructive.

Prop Wife
A week later, the Sun-Times struck again.

"In an exclusive interview with the Sun-Times, Julie and Rob Blagojevich described the case against him as weak and the FBI wiretaps as overly intrusive."

Stop the presses.

Patsy Wake
And just last week Robert emoted to Sneed through as source whose name is probably Michael Ettinger that he had visited his parents' graves. And he wanted to make sure everyone knew it.

The Verdict
Why criticize the media when the jury failed to convict Robert?

Well, as I've written, it was a crappy jury, too. Look no further than foreman James Matsumoto. Matsumoto sure seems like a sweet man on TV, and I'm sure the press doesn't want to rough him up. But he had a responsibility and all available evidence indicates he fell short - and continues to do so.

"I'm glad Robert's off," Matsumoto told the Sun-Times. "I think he did break the law, but I think justice is being served with his not being retried."

If Robert broke the law, how is justice being served? Does he have a get-out-of-jail card I'm not aware of? Immunity?

Robert wasn't charged with shoplifting a pack of gum from 7/11. He was charged with conspiring to auction off a United States Senate seat in exchange for such benefits for his brother as millions of dollars in campaign contributions or a job in the president's cabinet.

"Even though he committed a crime, it was never to his benefit," Matsumoto said. "He was never getting anything. He was just doing it for his brother."

Oh, I get it. Apparently there is a just-doing-it-for-my-brother exclusion in the law.

The New Math
But the majority of jurors thought Robert was innocent!

That's what I heard Elizabeth Brackett say the other night and it's certainly been the claim of several other pundits, but Matsumoto says that a majority of jurors thought Robert was guilty on three of the four counts he was charged with.

How, then, does the Sun-Times get away with reporting that "The majority of of jurors have said they found his testimony credible"?

Who Is Robert Blagojevich?
What kind of guy is Robert Blagojevich? I have no earthly idea, and neither do the pundits drawing conclusions from their brief observations during his and his brother's recent trial.

"A former military man with tamed hair, he's a hard guy to actively dislike," the three- or four-person Sun-Times editorial "board" decided last week.

Really? Is that all it takes?

For all I know, Robert is an awesome guy. Let's say he is. Should that preclude him from due justice in a court of law? Is his guilt - or even the question of whether he should be retried - to be decided by how likable someone is?

And someone who has no problem admitting to projecting a stalwart image in hopes of reaching a future jury pool?

This is your media, still scrambling to find the popularity they never had in high school. Let me be your friend! they cry and wail as they scramble to get close to the beautiful and influential. Like us, like us! Share your secrets with us, we won't tell! It will make us feel "in."

Punished Enough
Then there is the "he's been punished enough" school of thought.

I didn't know that was a facet of our criminal justice system.

"He was a novice forced by family loyalty into a job for which he had no background, and he clearly was in over his head in the shark tank of Illinois politics," the Tribune's Steve Chapman writes.

He was forced to take the job. He was in over his head. This was nothing like Pershing missiles!

"He was not a guy in a Corvette with a radar detector doing 100 mph on the Interstate. He was a guy who was going 70 in a 55 zone because everyone else seemed to be doing it."

Who was everyone else? His brother?

"Trying him once was punishment enough."

Again, jurors weren't close to acquitting Robert. Doesn't that count for something?

Poor Robert
"His lawyers cost him a small fortune," the Sun-Times editorial "board" writes. "His reputation is forever tarnished. He was compelled to put his life on hold for the last couple of years, never sure if his future wasn't a cell in prison.

"And forever, his brother is Rod Blagojevich."

How clever! How could they ever try him in the first place? He's suffered enough!

Now, as for all those poor chumps sitting in Cook County Jail who still haven't seen the inside of a courtroom . . .

Media Virus
Remember how damaging Robert's testimony was? Forgotten.

"A star witness," Irv Miller said on CBS2.

"An effective witness," a jury consultant said on another station.

"Cut this guy loose," Mike Flannery said on Fox Chicago. "Let him go home."

(Flannery added that there was "no need to charge" Patti, either. Maybe Flannery was out of town during the trial.)

Has the world gone crazy?

Wish Wash
SouthtownStar columnist Phil Kadner provides some welcome relief.

First, he reminds us of December 5, 2008.

"On that day, in a front-page headline, the Tribune declared, 'Feds taped Blagojevich.' On that very day, a federal wiretap caught the governor talking to his brother.

"Robert Blagojevich reminded Rod that he had a meeting at 1 p.m. with Raghu Nayak, an Indian businessman who allegedly had offered to raise $6 million if U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-2nd) was appointed to the Senate seat.

"'I got a meeting today at 1:00,' Robert Blagojevich tells his brother.

"'Raghu,' Rod Blagojevich replies.

"'Yeah.'

"'Yeah, I don't know if you should do it,' the governor says.

"And Robert postponed the meeting as a result of the call.

"Four days later, Blagojevich was arrested."

I just don't get what Kadner wrote a week later.

"As far as I'm concerned, the decision by the U.S. attorney is a disappointment only because Ettinger had promised to call U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-2nd) as a witness at a retrial, along with the Indian-American businessman who allegedly told Robert he could raise $6 million if Jackson was appointed senator.

"'The whole story' about the sale of the Senate seat will come out, Ettinger vowed, although he implied it would prove there was no deal to sell that seat.

"I still think the public is owed an explanation, some detail, whether or not it helps or damages the federal government's case.

"As for Ettinger, he talked openly about his strategy for defending Robert before the trial even began.

"Here was an honest guy, an American patriot, whose only crime was trying to help out his brother.

"It was brilliant. It worked. And maybe, even justice was done in the end."

I don't see how.

Class Bias
An Eric Zorn commenter:

"Respectfully, I am troubled by your position that Robert Blagojevich should be 'let go' because he's already paid attorney's fees and loss of reputation, yet you admit there is evidence he broke the law. Your position suggests that if you have the financial means to buy your way out of legal trouble you should be set free. What if Robert Blagojevich didn't have access to money to pay attorney's fees? (By the way, check the docket in this case. A massive amount of money was paid on his behalf from the Friends of Blagojevich campaign, authorized by an Order entered by Judge Zagel.) If he were poor, he'd not have been able to pay for such a defense. Would you support him being convicted of a felony and punished then?

"I think you are a sensitive person who didn't think that comment all the way through. Felons are felons. Regardless of economic means.

"ZORN REPLY - The punishment, what he's been through, more than fits the crime, as I see it. You've got to have a sense of proportion here."

I didn't know a trial alone was sufficient punishment for conspiracy to commit extortion and conspiracy to commit bribery involving the highest office in the state.

Media Narrative
As Bob Somerby often notes, the press loves to type novels. In this case, it was the good brother vs. the bad brother. The consequences of loyalty. The naive do-gooder caught up in a world he didn't understand. It sounds good, but it has nothing to do with the truth.

Dropped Ball
Why criticize the media and the jury when it was the prosecution that decided to drop the charges? Clearly I think the prosecution has dropped the ball. But clearly it was a strategic decision made in part because of the sympathetic portrait Robert was able to craft through his media dupes. And clearly Robert was a distraction to the jurors; they started their deliberations on him before realizing they had to take up Rod first. But that doesn't make Robert any less guilty.

Not Just The Senate Seat
In Pay to Play, Elizabeth Brackett reminds us of Robert's involvement in some of the other alleged shakedowns.

"Based on information John Wyma gave to the feds, a judge allowed wiretaps of Friends of Blagojevich office.

"The FBI began listening to conversations from the bugs in the Friends of Blagojevich office on October 22, 2008. They proved so productive that Fitzgerald went back to court with an unusual request to wiretap Rod Blagojevich's home phone."

Ahem.

"As the tape-recorded conversation was played at the governor's impeachment trial, the Senate chamber stilled. Then the voice of Blagojevich was heard clearly saying to Monk, 'Call Jimmy Johnston - or should I have Harris call him?'

"Monk told Blagojevich that the governor should call Johnston. But then he reassured Blagojevich, 'I'm telling you - he's gonna be good for it. I got in his face.'

"The state senators then heard the voice of Blagojevich's brother, Robert, telling the governor, 'He's gonna give. You . . . know, he didn't get it. But he said, 'You know, I'm good for it. I gotta just decide what, what . . . uh . . . accounts to get it out of.'

"And . . . Lon's going to talk to you about some sensitivities - legislatively - tonight when he sees you with regard to the timing of all this.'

"They heard the governor respond, 'Right - before the end of the year though, right?' A few minutes the governor tried to clarify the timing of the money from Johnston. 'Clearly before the end of the year, right?' Blagojevich had to get the contribution before the end of the year because of the new state ethics law, scheduled to take effect January 1, 2009, that would bar political contributions from those who did business with the state.

"Robert Blagojevich figured Johnston was 'good for it' because he had long been one of the governor's top contributors. A February 2009 report from the National Legal and Policy Center found that interests owned or affiliated with Johnny Johnston had contributed more than $343,000 to Blagojevich's campaign committee from 2002 to 2007. But those close to Johnston say he was outraged by the latest request linking it to the horse-racing bill sitting on the governor's desk. Johnston considered the . . . "

I can't tell you what Brackett wrote next because I used Amazon's "Search Inside The Book" function to get this; I don't have a copy myself. But we know that Johnston thought he was being shook down.

"Rod Blagojevich's former top aide said Monday the ex-governor delayed signing legislation in order to pressure a racetrack owner to make a campaign contribution," ABC7 reported.

"During Monk's testimony, prosecutors played over a dozen secret recordings of the ex-governor, Robert Blagojevich, and others dealing with the racetrack legislation. All were recorded in the months leading up to Blagojevich's arrest.

"Blagojevich never says on any of the tapes that he won't sign the bill unless he gets his contribution first, but that's what prosecutors allege was going on and that's the theme of Monk's testimony. When asked if they were linked, Monk answered, 'Yes.'"

I rest my case.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:07 AM | Permalink

Cirque du Familie: Psst, Your Mother Has Cancer

I woke up this morning, like most mornings, around 10:30. I immediately realized that the carpet-cleaning people were here, so I grabbed my cell phone (yes, I seriously did this), called the home phone, told my dad I had allergies and didn't want to come out in my pj's, and asked if he could bring me some soup and ginger ale.

He actually did it.

That should have tipped me off that today was going to be one of the most abnormal of my life.

As he left the room, I asked where my mother was.

"At the doctor," he shrugged, and left.

Fast forward two hours.

I wander into my father's bedroom/office to ask a question and read an e-mail from my cousin. We have some idle chit-chat. I start to leave the room.

"By the way," he says, in a voice that usually means I'm going to get yelled at for leaving a beer can on the porch. "Your mother just came home. She has breast cancer."

And with that, he turns back to the computer.

I am rendered speechless. When I do find my voice, "What? Where is she?" I ask, a feeling of horror creeping over me. No one in my family has ever had cancer.

He waves his hand in the general direction of the other part of the house. "In her room, or downstairs, I think."

And that's that. No tears, no hugs, no discussion.

I find my mother sitting downstairs. She is reading a catalog. She glances up at me, makes a wry face, and goes back to the catalog. I walk over and give her a hug.

"I'm so sorry," I tell her.

"Well it's certainly a surprise," she answers, cool as a cucumber.

She offers no details and answers few questions. Finally, I ask if she would like me to contact my siblings.

"No, I don't think so. I think I'll send them an e-mail tomorrow."

Wait.

An e-mail?

"Hi, it's Mom, just wanted to let you know I have breast cancer. Call when you can!"

Somehow, my already surreal world has become even stranger.

"I wouldn't have told you yet if you didn't live with us," she tells me. She calmly goes back to her catalog.

I shut myself in my room for an hour, trying to make sense of this. The cancer I understand. Their reactions, I just don't get.

When I emerge, my mother invites me to "a dumb movie" to "take our minds off things."

My father goes along to whatever romantic comedy Jennifer Aniston is playing herself in. Afterwards, we go shopping at Ulta, an expensive hair and body care store. We drive home, chat about the movie, and my mother makes supper.

I arrange to spend the next two nights with my boyfriend. Things here are just too normal for a day that should be really really weird.

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Claudia Hunter is the Beachwood's pseudononymous family affairs correspondent. She welcomes your comments. She welcomes your comments.

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Previously:

* Home for the Holidays: The Preamble
* Home for the Holidays: Day 1
* Home for the Holidays: Day 2
* Home for the Holidays: Day 3
* Home for the Holidays: Day 4 (Christmas Eve)
* Home for the Holidays: Day 5 (Christmas)
* Home for the Holidays: Day 6
* Home for the Holidays: Day 7
* Home for the Holidays: Postscript
* Home for the Holidays: The Sequel

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:44 AM | Permalink

August 30, 2010

The [Monday] Papers

1. "Rod Run To Be Held Saturday."

Though it's not what I thought it was, you can't tell me it wasn't plausible.

2. "Boeing Again Delays Dreamliner Release."

Don't worry. Glenn Beck will fill in.

3. "Lisa and Michael Madigan helped ensure that a new law was passed concerning payday loan operators," the Sun-Times reports. "That law could benefit a client of Jordan Matyas, husband of Michael Madigan's daughter Tiffany."

I propose a new law: Conspiracy to commit cynicism.

4. From our good friends at NBCChicago, natch: "Uncovering The Peek-A-Boo-Bra Trend."

Next: Suits are back.

5. International Polka Association.

6. "The peripatetic life prompted Loh and writer-friend Calvin Trillin to form a fictitious 'society' called 'American Correspondents Covering America,' whose imaginary meetings were held at Chicago's O'Hare Airport."

Jules Edward Loh was 79.

7. "Surrogate parents of newborn triplets claim a hospital and major media outlets violated medical privacy laws and subjected them to 'humiliation, embarrassment and emotional distress' by publishing photos and stories about their newborns," Courthouse News Service reports. "The parents say they never gave Advocate Christ Medical Center permission to release personal information about them or their babies, nor did they agree that the Sun Times, Tribune Co. or WLS-TV could photograph and publish the babies' pictures."

8. "7-11 Tests Roasted Chicken."

9. "State Representative Seeking To Move Indiana To Central Time Zone."

Next: Suits are back.

10. "American, Frontier, JetBlue, and United have just posted secret unadvertised sale fares in response to Virgin America's newest sale, but here's the catch: The low fares from all five airlines are slated to disappear at 11:59 p.m. PT tonight," SmarterTravel reports. "These promotional fares start at $49 one-way ($98 round-trip)."

11. Preseason NFL games matter after all (at least for the Bears), our very own Jim Coffman writes.

12. "They don't really want their consumers to know that Stacy's, which is owned by PepsiCo's Frito-Lay, is making their pita chips," NPR reports. "They would rather you think it's Trader Joe's brand."

13. "Violence and crime do not lead the discussion among members of the City Council committee overseeing violence and crime," the Chicago News Cooperative reports.

"An analysis to be released Tuesday by the Chicago Justice Project, a nonprofit focused on increasing access to criminal justice data, shows that 40 percent of the 148 agenda items considered from 2006 through 2009 by the Council's Committee on Police and Fire concerned the donation of old equipment, mostly police and fire vehicles, to communities in Iraq, Mexico and elsewhere.

"In contrast, just 1 percent had anything to do with crime or violence."

Talk about the code of silence . . .

14. Sox still trying to reassemble 1996 Indians team.

15. The Cubs play Q Ball.

16. If you watched Mad Men last night, you'll be particularly amused by this if you watch it until the end.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: The cure for the common tip line.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:05 AM | Permalink

SportsMonday: Bears Not Safe For Work

So I guess we'll have to make an exception to our "preseason games don't matter" mantra.

Because late Saturday it was the Bears themselves (and even Lovie, kind of, after the head coach tried to blame it all on a couple botched field goals) who were acknowledging their concerns after this season's third such game, the game that many believe is slightly less inconsequential than the rest of the preseason.

After all, this is traditionally the one where the starters play longer and try to execute at least a little bit of regular-season type game-planning.

So in the spirit of this game mattering a tiny bit more than not at all, I have a few observations.

* The Bears once again, just like they did all of last season, struggled on third-and-long on Saturday.

There is a ridiculously obvious reason for this: their safeties suck.

Sure, rookie Major Wright is out with an injury, but Wright would not have been the answer this year even if he had stayed completely healthy.

The Bears have too often tried to solve their problems at safety with rookies.

In fact, it was just last year that our favorite football team opened the season with first-year man Al Afalava at a starting safety spot.

He was such a failure there is a good chance he won't even be on the team when final cuts are made this time around.

Drafting a safety doesn't immediately solve a problem at that position. Even if Wright hadn't been hurt he wouldn't have been ready to excel at the position in his first year in the NFL.

* I continue to marvel at the fact that Jerry Angelo apparently truly believes that Chris Harris is another answer at the position.

Once again, we are reminded that the Bears figured out Harris wasn't good enough several years ago and shipped him out. He was surrounded by talented players and apparently well-coached at his next stop, Carolina, and had some success.

Still, he was and is the same player!

And sure enough, he wasn't good enough against the Cardinals and hasn't been good enough all preseason.

* But Danieal Manning had a decent day at the position, you say. Maybe he's the answer?

First of all, best case scenario, he's only half the answer.

Second, Manning has failed to contribute consistently for several seasons now in the Bears secondary - and I'll never forgive him for the blown coverage that led to Reggie Wayne's wide-open touchdown catch in the Super Bowl back when Manning was, wait a minute, a rookie.

I can't bring myself to believe that he will finally find a way to get it done this time around.

* On the other side of the ball, quarterback Jay Cutler is finding it more and more difficult to hide his impatience with his line, and that is understandable given the impact its ineptitude will almost certainly have on his health.

What is not understandable is two terrible interceptions that were 100 percent the quarterback's fault.

We can't have that Jay! Don't start with that crap again!

If Johnny Knox runs the wrong route and isn't open even though you think he would have been open if he had run the right route, you can't throw the ball in his direction just because you're pissed off.

The Bears wrap up the preseason against the sorry Cleveland Browns this coming weekend. The game will not matter in the slightest. Then we finally turn our attention to the regular season and the opener against the Lions. I can't wait. Or maybe I can.

First Tee
I hit the links on Sunday, not to play but to watch my kids participate in a clinic and a little three-hole scramble at the Creekside course in Valparaiso. My aunt and uncle live nearby, do some work on behalf of the First Tee program and had set up the day.

We had some friends there as well and one of them snuck in his clubs and managed to finagle a spot in the scramble. He then proceeded to play pretty well despite the fact that while he had his bag, he ended up taking the course in slightly less-than-ideal footwear (high-end Crocs). Note to self: Next time be prepared for that sort of scenario - if you want to play, of course. And I must admit I didn't really want to. It has been years since I have taken club to ball and it will probably be more than a few years more before I get back to it.

There are several factors in play - the fact that I stink at golf first among them.
That along with the fact that I still haven't figured out how to carve out time to initially get my game back to a level at least slightly above embarrassing (I shouldn't say "get my game back to" that status - I should say "get my game up to" that level for the first time) and then to find a way to play 18 with any kind of regularity.

Do guys get away with heading out to the club early on Saturday or Sunday anymore to spend the day on a course, leaving the smiling wife behind to take care of the kids solo for a half-dozen hours?

I have yet to try that in my house during a little more than a decade's worth of family living and I won't be trying it any time soon. If I did, our parental scale of justice would be thrown so far out of whack that I would be on extended kid duty for at least the next month's worth of Sundays.

On this day the kids received some instruction from Valpo pro Nancy Bender and then played the scramble with a promising young player named Logan Bertalan, a local high school junior who recently won a chance to compete in a Champions Tour event at Pebble Beach this week in which the senior golfers are each paired with junior golfers sponsored by First Tee. Pebble Beach! Is it too late for me to sign up for First Tee?

Other than having to battle through some significant heat, it was a great couple of hours. My son came out of if talking about playing some more golf and if he persists, we might have to make an adjustment to the football/basketball/baseball sports track he's on. Or maybe we'll just see if we can find ways to help him sneak into the occasional scramble.

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Jim Coffman brings you SportsMonday every week and then sits back and awaits your comments.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:23 AM | Permalink

Q Ball

The Cubs still stink, but they seem to stink a little less in the Mike Quade era.

It's nice to have someone managing the team again.

And I must admit I was impressed during his pregame interview on Sunday with Ron Santo he called Jeff Baker "Bakes" and James Russell "Russ."

I mean, Lou Pinella has been calling these guys, "that other second baseman we have that I don't play much" and "that one kid in the bullpen."

Here are some improvements we've noticed under Quade:

* He didn't get lost on the way to Cincinnati this week.

* Generation gap with rookies now one generation less.

* Towel drill now using paper towels based on advice of sabermetricians.

* Mustard cleaned off scouting reports to reveal previously unknown tendencies by the opposition.

* Locker room no longer smells like grandpa's house.

* Alan Trammel era comes to an unceremonious close.

* Errors now made by promising rookies instead of lazy veterans.

* Kosuke Fukudome no longer using whiffle bats.

* Triangle offense scrubbed.

Week in Review: The Cubs swept the Nats before losing two of three to the Reds. In Cub Nation, this is progress.

Week in Preview: A thrilling homestand featuring three each against the Pirates and Mets. In other words, the three of the worst-managed organizations in sports will be on display in Wrigleyville over the next seven days. Take notes.

The Second Basemen Report: New Cubs leadoff man Blake DeWitt got five starts at second this week; new Cubs backup leadoff man Jeff Baker got the other. Just like Jim Hendry drew it up.

In former second basemen news, Ryne Sandberg might become the next Cubs manager. It's like he was never missed.

The Zam Bomb: Big Z has a really long fuse showing these days as he auditions for his next team.

zam_apologetic.jpg

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Lost in Translation: Uncle-san Lou-san is Japanese for that weird guy who used to manage this team is just like my crazy drunk uncle.

Endorsement No-Brainer: Mike Quade for that toy where the eyes bug out. Tell me he doesn't look like this.

Sweet and Sour Lou: 50% sweet 50% Sour. Lou stands pat on the Sweet-O-Meter this week due to being glad it's over and tearful goodbyes. And just like your real crazy drunk uncle, Lou is toasting what was a long run at the plant and also glad he doesn't have to deal with those idiots telling him what to do anymore, two good reasons to get good and loaded.

Ameritrade Stock Pick of the Week: Shares of Falstaff traded higher this week because someone has been POUNDING them.

Over/Under: The real chance that Mike Quade has at keeping this job: +/- 28%

Beachwood Sabermetrics: A complex algorithm performed by the The Cub Factor staff using all historical data made available by Major League Baseball has determined that a manager who at least tries can make a little difference.

Agony & Ivy: It's a way of life.

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

The White Sox Report: Now with a weekly Cubs Snub.

The Mount Lou Alert System: In honor of the North Side's retired crazy drunk uncle, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security has declared Wrigleyville a natural disaster area and asks citizens to remain on highest alert for the remainder of the season. After all, there's still a lot of clean-up to do.

mtlou_red.gif

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Contact The Cub Factor!

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 4:18 AM | Permalink

Cleveland West

How ironic that we can only now finally say the Kotsay/Jones experiment ever amounted to anything significant, even if its greatest contributions were in its dismantling and abandonment in favor of yet another chance to win the 1996 World Series for the city of Cleveland. From Albert Belle to Kenny Lofton to Bartolo Colon to Jim Thome and now to Manny Ramirez, the South Side is littered with the remains of former Cleveland Indian superstars; here's hoping the new guy can do more for us then he did for them.

Week in Review: Even. Take two of three from the terrible O's, but drop two of three to the goddamned Yankees for a week of .500 ball.

Week in Preview: Earning. Three for the taking at Cleveland followed by three for the money in Boston.

Hawkeroo's Can-O-Corn Watch: "That David Ortiz, now that's a guy who can hit the baseball like something, but that's nothing new for the Red Sox. I remember when I was with Boston, I had a teammate who knew a thing or two about hitting, fella you may have heard of by the name of Carl Yastrzemski. I remember there was a doubleheader we played against the Tigers where Yaz hit for the cycle in the first game and made a pair of terrific plays out there in left field, roughed himself up making one of those dives, and our manager Dick Williams said 'Yaz, we're gonna rest you for the second game today.' And I'll tell you, you might as well have told Carl you were gonna dock his pay or trade him to the Yankees, because I have never seen a ballplayer get that upset at a baseball manager ever the way Yaz did. Because that's how the game was played then, and you see that now to this day, and that just goes to show what a tremendous influence Yaz has had on the game of baseball."

Gordon Beckham Hall of Fame Update: Gordon Beckham career-high stolen bases: seven. Frank Thomas career-high stolen bases: six. Advantage: Beckham.

Alumni News You Can Use: Former White Sox outfielder Sammy Sosa remains hilarious.

The "H" in "DH" Stands For: Hopeful, as the Sox aim to solve a six-month-old problem with a 39-year-old bat.

The Q Factor: If it's a mental game, then they know they've already lost the game the second they lost focus. They see it as a matter of 'paying' attention, but it's not that simple; more a case of 'investing' attention, with dividends paid larger than what anyone could dream of. But let them ignore this; the rewards shall be mine and mine alone to sow.

The Guillen Meter: His team quietly losing ground (and time), the Guillen Meter reads 32 for "What do you mean we have play all of them?"

Endorsement No-Brainer: The White Sox and Dodgers for British Telecom: it's good to talk.

Cubs Snub: Hey, how about that sweep of the Nationals? Only 18.5 out of the Wild Card chase: It's a "W"ay of life.

The White Sox Report: Read 'em all.

The Cub Factor: It's funny because it's true.

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The White Sox Report welcomes your comments.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 4:08 AM | Permalink

August 28, 2010

The Weekend Desk Report

Sure we're emotionally drained, but no way are we stepping down.

Market Update
Own Business continued to thrive this week, demonstrating once again that when the rest of the economy tanks people finally start minding it.

Keep Your Frienemies Close . . .
A survey this week has shown we Chicagoans really like our neighbors. It's our families we're not so sure about.

. . . And Your Enemy Closer
Of course no sooner do we abandon our natural paranoia, it turns out our largest neighbor really is out to get us.

Splendor in the Grasses
Interestingly enough, the Garfield Park Conservatory doesn't list threatening violent cons among its family-friendly programs.

Triumvirate Times
President Barack Obama this week reasserted his determination to liberate Lindsay Lohan despite copious evidence that she's nowhere near ready. Meanwhile, former president Jimmy Carter has finally talked some damn sense into Britney Spears. And no matter the international apologists, we learned this week you never can trust Paris Hilton.

Going Down
And in other news, duh.

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The Weekend Desk Tip Line: Open for bidness.

Posted by Natasha Julius at 8:16 AM | Permalink

August 27, 2010

The [Friday] Papers

I'll deal with Robert Blagojevich on Monday, I didn't have time to finish my post this morning. I need a personal assistant, a wife, a managing editor, a personal trainer, a million dollars and a better couch to fall asleep on while watching bad late-night TV as part of my unique research habits. Inquire within.

1. The holdout juror speaks. Monday, people. Can't do the heavy lifting today.

2. I'll tell you who's doing the heavy lifting around here today - Mike Luce and Tom Chambers. Mike Luce - also known as Dr. Dude - is our resident college football analyst and if I can say so myself, I'm not sure there's a better one anywhere in the nation.

Mike - or, Dude - doesn't even get paid to know every nook and cranny of every college football program in America. Yet he does. And he's a joy to read.

We welcome Mike and his (twice-weekly!) College Football Report back today with the first of his two-part season preview: Coach Joker, Correspondent Kardashian & Coed Hostess Hotness.

I'm not a college football fan in particular but Mike is turning me into one. He has just the right sense of perspective for the beauty of the game within the romantic collegiate environment of drunkenness, tradition and raw athletic prowess and the absurdity of its corrupt, money-grubbing characters and their sleazy egos. Yay, Mike!

Today he sets you up nicely for the season to come; next week he'll get down to business at the betting window - because he's like that too, you know, also likes to play the ponies - along with the inimitable Beachwood Sports Seal and a Beachwood Bankroll.

Mike writes from the road a lot because he's always traveling on business but he produces more in a single column than Rich Roeper does in six months sitting at the same gates.

Among Mike's recent status updates: "DFW late at night. Not pretty," "Today's theme: Rage," and "yea, a Ute probably doesn't care about 'greener pastures' but whatever. just go with it, people."

Mike - we really just call him Luce, but I'm personalizing him for you - also famously reviewed the Beachwood Inn's current (and greatest) pinball machine.

Mike is in Dallas today generating revenue for the economy and I'm not sure if he'll be back in time to attend festivities at the Beachwood tonight, but if you're ever in the bar he's the guy with the short red hair tellin' travelin' stories and drinking High Life.

*

And if Mike's talkin' horses, then our man on the rail Tom Chambers is probably in the house. Like Mike, Tom writes about a sport - horse racing - that I don't follow closely, and yet I enjoy reading his TrackNotes column every week as much as anything else we do around here. Again, a pleasure.

Today Tom writes about The Travers Stakes, also known as The Mid-Summer Derby. He fills us in:

"[T]his is the one where they paint the colors of the winning stable on a carved canoe that's mounted in the middle of the infield pond. Cool."

See, Tom still loves horse racing - no matter how badly the sleazy egoists who run the sport treat it. Sound familiar? Like Mike and college football, Tom is still enthralled by the magic - even as he's keenly aware and viscerally outraged by the game's dark forces. See, we still believe around here. We believe in all that was once good and can be good again. Or maybe it was never good but it could be. You can be a romantic and still see the world for what it truly is.

"Whatever you want to say about Rachel [Alexandra's] record this year, she has run her race every time and nobody knows her like Calvin Borel," Tom writes today. "And no horse in the world has more heart."

You can find Tom at the Beachwood maybe once a month or so - he lives downtown; Mike lives between me and the bar - on a Friday night tellin' stories and dispensing gambling tips (for entertainment purposes only, of course.)

Tom is a throwback; he also loves boxing (actually goes to matches) and still calls it the sweet science.

Beachwood writers don't get enough attention and credit in this city, in part, I suppose, because we haven't redesigned this damn front page to look more like a front page instead of just this column. That's not out of my desire to not do so; it's a matter of logistics, money, priorities, technical considerations and so forth. We'll get there.

But I'll put Mike Luce up against any wanker in the sports media around here, and I'll put Tom Chambers there too. And that goes for everyone else who writes for this site. We don't just post anyone.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: On your behalf.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:20 AM | Permalink

TrackNotes: The Mid-Summer Derby

As the dog days of summer evaporate, we - or at least I - begin the buildup to the Breeders' Cup.

If nothing else, its prevents overdosing on the NFL - good medicine in these parts - and provides an opportunity to fine-tune handicapping on horses we've seen most of the year.

This week, we have what I think is annually one of the top races, The Travers Stakes at Saratoga. Saturday, it's the 141st edition of the "Mid-Summer Derby."

Everybody knows about the Kentucky Derby. And while the Breeders' Cup Classic is much richer than the $1 million Travers, the cachet that the Classic and other Breeders' Cup races enjoy as arbiters of the best horses of the respective divisions is overwrought. In what-have-you-done-for-me-lately America, the Breeders' Cup holds too much sway in the Eclipse Awards.

The Breeders' Cup is a single race, not the end of the "playoffs," leaving the best horse standing. To me, it's the full season that counts, and the Travers is one of the high points of the year.

It's for three-year-olds, and this is the one where they paint the colors of the winning stable on a carved canoe that's mounted in the middle of the infield pond. Cool.

The bad-and-good of this year's race is that while it features a fairly lackluster group of sophomores, that's what makes it a very bettable affair. Both alumni and refugees from the Derby Trail.

A Little Warm is your mild 7-2 favorite. He missed the Derby with low graded stakes earnings and bled (lungs) just before the Preakness. But after a tuneup claiming win, he bested the Jim Dandy field, which included Travers runners Miner's Reserve and Afleet Express.

Late entry Trappe Shot is the second favorite at 4-1. I dunno. He ran a respectable race in time to get up for second in the Haskell but ran into a razor-sharp Lookin At Lucky that day and lost by four lengths. His only other stakes win was in the ungraded Long Branch at Monmouth. If you like him, it will have to be because he might be able to grind out a closing run. I said might.

Habitual wiseguy First Dude should be part of the early speed and could help set it up for the closers. He gets a lot of attention, but has won only once in his career, a maiden special weight (MSW). I'm not sure his style is suited for this race and I don't like the way Ramon Dominguez is riding these days. While they're putting the blinkers on First Dude, maybe Ramon should take his off.

You could debate all day that Gio Ponti was not going to win the Arlington Million last week, not with Debussy's shot-from-a-cannon finish on the rail, but Dominguez never saw him coming and assumed he had the race in his pocket.

"I thought I had enough to hang on," Dominguez said. "Once I got clear, the horse was idling a little bit, maybe looking at the stands or something. I had a great trip."

I ain't buying it, Ramon. Euro turfers always save it for a mad stampede in the final 300 yards.

Coming into the Belmont, Fly Down was another wiseguy, based on a win in the Dwyer. But he was unable to get it done in a glacially run Belmont and finished fifth in the Jim Dandy. He's one of three Nick Zito entries.

Miner's Reserve comes in with two gaudy three-digit Beyers in his last two but I'm not sure he's up to these at all. His only two wins were an MSW and an allowance race. An in those last two, it seems to me A Little Warm looked him in the eye and 'Reserve backed down. That is a concern.

Afleet Express is the James Jerkens trainee who suffered a bad trip in the Jim Dandy. But open lengths victories in his previous two, including the Grade III Pegasus, suggest he'll do okay at the 10-furlong distance. But J.J. Castellano is going to have to get him a good trip.

Ice Box, the Derby runner-up, may take some action based on name recognition, but he hasn't done much since two grueling wins at Gulfstream, including the Florida Derby. He was rested after the Belmont, but finished a difficult sixth in the Haskell.

Kentucky Derby winner Super Saver with Calvin Borel up, drew the outside post and continues to bear the burden of proving that his Derby win was not a slop fluke. He hasn't shown he belongs, not after clunkers in the Preakness and the Haskell.

And keep a close eye on the tote board at Admiral Alex. The son of Afleet Alex - out of a Kingmambo mare - has run only once in his life. But that was an MSW win at Saratoga a month ago. He recorded a very respectable 87 Beyer, and at 9 furlongs at that.

Owner/trainer Leon "Blue" Blusiewicz, who apparently succeeds with quality over quantity, is sky-high over this horse. And apparently Leon is a bettor.

I like A Little Warm, Trappe Shot and Afleet Express. And I just told you about Admiral Alex.

Rachel's Big Day
Is Sunday still Ladies' Day anywhere on Earth?

It will be at Saratoga as we'll have a chance to watch Rachel Alexandra in her most important and probably most difficult race of the year so far.

She'll run in The Personal Ensign, a $300,000 Grade I.

And by virtue of the fact she'll face the estimable Life At Ten, the race should give us a very good idea if the reigning Horse of the Year is back in form in the run-up to the Breeders' Cup.

Back in form? What's a girl gotta do? Looking at her past performances from 2010, she has maintained triple-digit Beyers, including a 109 in the Fleur De Lis. She lost her first two races of the year by a total of less than one length and has won her last two by open lengths. Trouble is, her level of competition has been deemed subpar. Not this week.

Life At Ten, the five-year-old daughter of Malibu Moon, is on a six-race winning streak. She beat Unrivaled Belle, who beat Rachel earlier this year, and has shown a versatility that results in one thing: winning.

But her Beyers pale next to Rachel's - tops was a 101 in the Sixty Sails Handicap at Hawthorne in April - and she most certainly has not faced the class Rachel has. Nevertheless, she's a quality opponent.

Whatever you want to say about Rachel's record this year, she has run her race every time and nobody knows her like Calvin Borel.

And no horse in the world has more heart.

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Thomas Chambers is our man on the rail. He brings you TrackNotes (nearly) every Friday. He welcomes your comments.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:41 AM | Permalink

The College Football Report: Coach Joker, Correspondent Kardashian & Coed Hostess Hotness

With the September 2 season kickoff just around the corner, the College Football Report welcomes you to our two-part Preseason Special. Break out the books, sharpen your pencils and for godssakes wipe that barbecue sauce off your face. We're going to back to school!

First, we will take a look at the offseason - the stories, the coaching changes and the controversies that have kept college football in the news since January. In the second half of our kickoff coverage, we will offer up the Beachwood Sports predictions for the upcoming season. Should we be able to call him home from his summer mating grounds, we'll also welcome the return of the Beachwood Sports Seal.

In this issue: a head coach named Joker, the BCA, FBS, USC, the UAAA, the Big Ten Plus Two, Big Five-Sixths, Pac-(10*1.2), Correspondent Kardashian, the vindication of Al Davis, Coach Sark vs. Coach Smirk, hot coeds, a Golden Hurricane, a seventh BCS conference and a slew of NCAA investigations.

The (Slow) Increase in Minority Coaches
The 2010-11 season will kick off with three new black head coaches running programs at BCS schools. Joker Phillips took over for Rich Brooks at Kentucky and will be joined by first-timers Charlie Strong at Louisville and Mike London at Virginia. With Randy Shannon remaining at Miami (last year's only member of this all-too-exclusive club), the efforts of the Black Coaches & Administrators organization and many others seem to be paying off.

The "Football Hiring Report Card," published annually by the BCA since 2004, gives a sense of the glacial pace of this trend. According to the '08-09 Report Card, FBS schools (i.e. Division I-A; for some clarity about the FBS vs. FCS, etc. see the "housekeeping note" in last year's Report) have hired only 16 African-American coaches in the past 14 years, despite 221 vacancies. While the issue of minority hiring practices in college football is too complex (and too thorny) to explore here, we wish the newcomers at UL, UVA and UK all the best. Tracking their relationships with fans, boosters and the media, much less how their teams perform on the field, will be an interesting wrinkle to the upcoming season.

The Lane Kiffin Express and USC Trainwreck
Early last season, we expressed skepticism about Lane Kiffin. Better put, we doubted the Lane Kiffin PR machine. We compared him to another rising star: Steve Sarkisian at the University of Washington.

Let's review 2009-10: U-Dub scored upsets over two ranked teams (#3 USC and #19 Cal), but inconsistency and a shaky D left the Huskies at home for bowl season with a 5-7 record. Kid Smirk led the Vols to a winning (7-6) record but ended the season with a 37-14 stinker against Virginia Tech in the Chick-fil-A Bowl. Shortly after, Kiffin fled Knoxville to return to the sunny beaches of Southern Cal.

Kiffin served as an assistant coach at USC under Pete Carroll from 2001-2006, including roles as offensive coordinator and (notably, given the below) recruiting coordinator in the '05 and '06 seasons. When Carroll resigned his position to accept the top job for the Seattle Seahawks, Kiffin bailed out of Tennessee after a mere 14 months on the job. Suffice it to say, the Volunteers were not amused.

Kiffin's Trojans come into the 2010 season ranked (AP #22), but the long-term may favor Sarkisian: the NCAA lowered the boom on USC in June for a "lack of institutional control" during the '04-'09 football seasons. The NCAA found a variety of violations involving the recruitment and treatment of Reggie Bush ("student-athlete 1") and O.J. Mayo ("student-athlete 2") during both players' one-and-done college careers at USC.

The NCAA's report on the infractions at USC offers a "window onto a landscape of elite college athletes" (and athletic programs, we'd argue) who " . . . disregard NCAA rules and regulations." Due to the number and severity of the rules violations, combined with USC's position as a repeat offender (having been called on the carpet in '01, '86 and '82), the NCAA handed down some stiff penalties, including:

* A ban on postseason play in 2010 and 2011;
* Four years of probation;
* A loss of 30 scholarships from 2010-2013, and;
* The dreaded "public reprimand and censure." (For shame, Southern Cal! For shame!)

Not for nothing, but the Trojans must also vacate all victories and titles from the '05 season . . . such as their National Championship over Oklahoma and some other minor banners, accolades and awards. Like Reggie Bush's 2005 Heisman Trophy. Or the school's replica of it, anyway.

For Reggie's side of the story, let's go to Beachwood Sports special correspondent Kim Kardashian. Kim? "He earned it!" And, there you have it.

Thus, while Kiffin muddles through until 2012, Sarkisian can look ahead to building a program. And although it might be unfair to punish the new guy while Carroll pulls down $33MM in the NFL, we can't find much sympathy for Kiffin. As it turns out, Al Davis may have been right all along.

Conference Realignment Roulette
All you need to know about the offseason chaos surrounding the future of most major (and some mid-major) NCAA football conferences is this: none of the changes go into effect this season.

At one point this summer, more than a dozen teams were rumored to be changing conferences. The Big 12 nearly collapsed, the Big Ten flirted with Notre Dame (again) along with a number of Big East teams and the Pac-10 almost enveloped most of the Plains.

But as with past shuffles (see 1996, 2005), all the action boiled down to a handful of changes: Colorado left the Big 12 to for the Pac-10; Boise State fled the WAC for the Mountain West; Nebraska flipped the Big 12 the bird to join the Big Ten, and; Utah upgraded to the Pac-10 from the Mountain West. Oh, and the new Pac-(10*1.2) will get a snappy new logo.

The Big Ten Plus Two and Big Five-Sixths
The Big Ten will welcome the University of Nebraska on July 1, 2011. The Big Ten has had 11 members since Penn State joined in 1990, so the conference has been "ten" in name only for some time. The Cornhuskers made up part of the original Big Eight Conference (1907-1996) until the merger with remnants of the Southwest Conference formed the Big 12. Yet Nebraska never meshed well with the Big 12 due to the dominant role of the Texas Longhorns. Revenue sharing, the Big 12 title game, the location of the league office, academic standards - name the issue and Nebraska (and AD Tom Osborne) has been on the other side from Texas.

Now the Huskers will join what will likely be the West Division of the Big Ten Plus Two Conference. Sadly, Nebraska will leave behind traditional conference rival Oklahoma. And just as tragically, the 'Huskers will swap aesthetically-pleasing Big 12 fans for these guys. Questionable choice.

*

The Big Ten Plus Two has yet to announce the date or venue for the inaugural conference championship game in 2011. Not that teams like Indiana, Purdue, Illinois, or Minnesota will care - the only issue at hand for league's bottom-dwellers is the revenue resulting from ticket sales, broadcast rights, merchandise, etc. Or more precisely, their cut.

The remaining 10 teams in the new Big 12 (or as we prefer, Big Five-Sixths) Conference will be forced to determine the conference champion in regular-season play: NCAA rules require conferences to have at least 12 members to host a championship game. Thus, Big Ten and Texas fans should celebrate. The long layoff for Big Ten teams (as many as 50 days, for the '06 Buckeyes) between the end of the regular season and the BCS has been partially blamed for the conference's disappointing performance (10-11 overall) in BCS games and the title game (1-2) in particular. The championship game should ensure that the league's top representative in the BCS has been battle-tested.

But the big winner here is Texas. The Longhorns single-handedly saved the Big Five-Sixths by agreeing to a TV deal that will reportedly net the school $25 million per year. Fox and ESPN will pay broadcast rights that, when split up using the conference's unbalanced revenue sharing, should pay UT, A&M, and Oklahoma at least $20 million annually, with the remaining schools seeing $14-17 million each. Tack on another $3-5 million in loose change from their Longhorn TV network, and Texas will hold sway at least until the 2015-16 expiration of the ESPN deal.

So, let's consider the future for last season's national championship runner-up: the Longhorns will play in a weakened conference, avoid a post-season conference championship game and rake in more cash than any of its competitors. Seems like a pretty good deal.

Utes and Broncos Find Greener Pastures
Boise State has dominated the Western Athletic Conference over the past four years. Under current head coach Chris Peterson (2006- ), the Broncos have lost just one conference game and earned the WAC title three times. Yet the WAC's "mid-major" status limits the post-season possibilities of member schools to one of only three mediocre bowl tie-ins. (Can't name them? Here's a hint - one of them was previously known as the Pineapple Bowl.)

Note: even mid-major conferences like the WAC (and the MWC, Conference USA, etc.) can send a team to a BCS game provided the BCS HAL 9000 deems it worthy. Or forgets to move the decimal and accidentally awards a random team, like the Tulsa Golden Hurricane, a BCS berth.

Boise officials felt that the Mountain West Conference offered more exposure, a higher level of competition and an advantageous travel schedule (i.e. no more flights to Hawaii). Plus, the top MWC team plays in the Maaco Bowl Las Vegas. So, they'll have that going for them. Which is nice.

Here's the thing: Boise's switch looks like only a half-step up. As the Broncos join the MWC in 2011, the Utah Utes depart for the Pac-10. Since '05, the Utes have appeared in five bowl games (with a 5-0 record) and finished 2008 undefeated (AP #2). To be fair, both BYU and Air Force have both produced good teams. But the MWC also boasts powerhouses such as New Mexico, UNLV and Colorado State (a collective 9-27 in 2010). Without the Utes, the Mountain West doesn't look as impressive.

That leaves TCU as the other major player. You may recall that TCU and Boise linked up in the least-satisfying BCS matchup last year: the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl. Both teams survived the regular season with a perfect record, yet the BCS system forced a match-up between the two mid-majors rather than offering both a chance to test their mettle against a BCS big boy.

Joining their fellow BCS spoiler presumably improves Boise's post-season position. But Boise just appeared in two ('07, '10) BCS bowl games. Why not keep plugging away? You might argue that the move only served to eliminate a repeat of 2010.

And what will happen if TCU coach Gary Patterson bolts for a big-name school and a big-time payday? In the 20 years prior to Patterson's first full season (2001) TCU appeared in just four bowl games with only two ('98, '99) wins. There's no guarantee TCU will continue to excel, and thus even less reason to think Boise's campaign for the MWC as the seventh BCS conference will succeed.

As for Colorado, well . . . the Buffaloes haven't been relevant since the days of Eric Bieniemy and Kordell Stewart. We're already looking forward to taking USC and the points in their first Pac-12 matchup.

The NCAA Investigates Everyone
If you are a fan of any school in the Southeast, the chances are good that you will read about your team being investigated by the NCAA this season. As if trying to move the spotlight from the West Coast (see: Kiffin, Lane and Bush, Reggie), the NCAA is cracking down on everyone south of the 40th parallel plus some others besides.

* West Virginia may become the USC of the East if the charge of five major rule violations sticks. The NCAA investigation concerns the activities of non-coaching staff, but it could add up to a "culture of non-compliance." We don't know how that compares to "a lack of institutional control," but it doesn't sound good.

* In related news, former West Virginia head coach (2001-2007) Rich Rodriguez seems to have brought his look-the-other-way culture with him to Michigan. While racking up an 8-16 record over the past two seasons, his Wolverines routinely violated NCAA practice and workout rules. Coach, clear this up for us - your team allegedly practiced more than twice the allowed limit and still sucked?

* While Rodriguez and others try to wriggle off the hook, the Ol' Ballcoach has accepted the possibility of NCAA penalties. South Carolina TE Weslye Saunders traveled to South Beach in May on a trip allegedly funded by sports agents. Several players on the SC defense joined Saunders and the investigation has spawned inquiries at Alabama, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina and Tennessee. (What, nobody texted Jacory Harris and the boys? Did nobody have Luther Campbell's number? I don't understand how The U got left out of the party.)

* Tennessee, which owned up to a sketchy "recruiting hostess" program last December and at least six minor violations during Coach Smirk's brief reign, now expects to receive an official letter of inquiry from the NCAA for improper contact with recruits. No word yet on whether any contact occurred in the swimsuit area.

* Taking a page from the Ozzie Guillen playbook, 'Bama coach Nick Saban thinks we should blame the immoral middle-aged professional men involved in these recruiting issues . . . no, the other guys. The agents!

* Funny thing is . . . although Saban would have us believe that we need more rules and regulations, 39 states have adopted the 2003 Uniform Athletes Agents Act. Under the UAAA, schools have the legal right to sue agents who violate the rules for civil and criminal charges and suspend or revoke licenses. Yet few states can (or choose to) enforce the law. Thus, the fingerpointing.

What have we learned from all this mess? Let's try to reduce it to a few simple rules:

1. 6-foot-6, 270-pound senior tight ends stand a better chance than anyone you know of getting a complimentary trip to South Beach;

2. Tennessee should consider more subtle job titles such as "Prospective Student Entertainment Facilitators," and;

3. Rich Rodriguez blows at cheating.

Next week in the College Football Report Preseason Special: Part II (Somewhat Like Part I Only Shorter and with More Sea Mammal)
Topics to possibly include: teams we would like to see do well (but won't), teams we would like to see suck (and will), shamelessly biased postseason predictions and titillating advice on wagering - who to avoid, who to date casually, and who to take home to mama.

Pay attention, there will be a quiz.

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Mike "Dr. Dude" Luce brings you The College Football Report in this space twice a week, with the generous assistance of the Beachwood Sports Seal. They both welcome your comments.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 2:27 AM | Permalink

August 26, 2010

The [Thursday] Papers

The Beachwood is going to have a nice pancake breakfast and then spend the day mired in a tardy assignment from its accountant as well as other business-related unpleasantries. We will return on Friday chock full of vigor.

In the meantime, remember you can follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

See you tomorrow.

The [Wednesday] Papers
Illinois congressman Timothy Johnson makes about a hundred phone calls a day in an effort to reach every one of his 653,647 constituents, Tribune Newspapers reports.

Tribune notes that Johnson is "one of the most unconventional Republicans in the House," according to CQ's Politics in America.

Here's my favorite part of the Tribune report:

"Johnson has been active in efforts to promote civility in hyperpartisan Washington, although he cast the only vote against a resolution congratulating the New Orleans Saints on their Super Bowl victory over the Indianapolis Colts this year. 'I'm an Indianapolis Colts fan,' he said."

*

More on Johnson:

"Though he's served in Congress a decade, few know of Johnson outside of his heavily rural district, which extends about 60 miles south of Chicago to near the Kentucky border, taking in corn and soybean farms and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign."

*

From his Wikipedia page:

"In the House, Johnson's voting record is the most moderate among Illinois Republicans outside of the Chicago area. The American Conservative Union gave him its second-lowest rating among Illinois Republicans, behind only Mark Steven Kirk of the 10th District."

Also:

"For each of the 107th, 108th, 109th, and 110th Congresses Johnson received a score of 0% from the Human Rights Campaign. This was for, among other things, voting against the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, which would have prohibited discrimination in the workplace based on sexual orientation, and for refusing to adopt a written policy for his own office pledging not to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation in employment decisions."

Also:

"Timothy V. Johnson was the sole Republican congressman to vote against the FISA Amendments Act of 2008 including immunity for American telecommunications companies that implemented warrantless wiretaps outside of the scope of the FISA program for the Bush administration. The bill passed, 293, 129."

You Are Free To Forgive
"There are some things that Fred Taylor Jr. and his crew at Southwest Airlines Co. just cannot explain," McClatchy/Tribune reports.

"For example, there was the female passenger who kneeled in front of her middle seat and chewed on the seat cushion, then stripped off her top and ran down the aisle. But Taylor and others on his customer service team can apologize to the other passengers on that flight and did so, as they've done thousands of other times when something has gone wrong in the air or on the ground.

"Their job: to find out the situations in which something went wrong - a mechanical delay, bad weather, a medical emergency or a berserk passenger - then apologize to all passengers on that flight, within 24 hours of their bad experience, if possible."

Border War
"The Illinois Tollway missed out on an estimated $7 million in tolls and fines because of a mix-up in how it issued violation notices to Indiana drivers, officials said," the Sun-Times reports.

"That means more than 116,000 Indiana residents who used the Tollway over the past two years are about to get some unwelcome bills in the mail."

Black Metal Mania
"Belgium isn't the most black metal of countries, possibly because it's hard to develop strong feelings about Satan with so much great beer around," Monica Kendrick writes for the Reader. "The members of Enthroned, a black-metal group based in Brussels, apparently feel driven to compensate: their sound is a stinging maelstrom fit to scour the corpsepaint right off your face, and they seem to have come up with their stage names using a Black Speech of Mordor Demoniker Generator."

Vette Fest
"The first show at Tinley Park's expanded convention center next June will feature something fast, shiny and beloved by car buffs worldwide," the SouthtownStar reports.

"The National Council of Corvette Clubs, which includes 271 clubs in 16 regions throughout the United States, will gather at the center, 183rd Street and Harlem Avenue, from June 18 to 24."

Say It Ain't So
"But unless someone in New York really angers him, it's hard to imagine [Joe Girardi] leaving a job where he's offered a chance to win the World Series every season," Barry Rozner writes for the Daily Herald.

"On the North Side of Chicago, he'd be offered the chance to win the World Series, well, never. If you grew up a Cubs fan, then you know this to be truth, not rumor.

"And all misery aside, it's not like the Cubs are well positioned for the next few years.

"There's also the memory of four years ago when Girardi was coming off a Manager of the Year award, but the Marlins had put the stink on him after Jeff Loria lost his mind and fired him.

"That's when the Cubs hired Lou Piniella, and had Bruce Bochy lined up as their second choice.

"There was no third choice, and all nonsense about any other candidates is just that. Nonsense.

"The Cubs did not intend to even call Girardi until a friend got to John McDonough, who arranged for Girardi to get a courtesy interview and a chance to tell his side of the story.

"But that's all it was. The Cubs believed what they were hearing about Girardi from the clowns in Florida, and it wasn't pleasant.

"Those who wanted nothing to do with Girardi back then still run the Cubs, and you wonder if Girardi will so easily forget."

Month At City Hall Next
"More than 1,500 people have applied to spend a month at Chicago's Museum of Science and Industry," AP reports.

"The winner of the promotion will live at the museum - roaming freely and sleeping in exhibits like the U-505 submarine or the coal mine."

Leaders Blame Privatization
"9 Day Traffic Jam Grips Beijing," the Expired Meter notes.

-

The Beachwood Tip Line: Scratch and sniff.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:53 AM | Permalink

August 25, 2010

The [Wednesday] Papers

Illinois congressman Timothy Johnson makes about a hundred phone calls a day in an effort to reach every one of his 653,647 constituents, Tribune Newspapers reports.

Tribune notes that Johnson is "one of the most unconventional Republicans in the House," according to CQ's Politics in America.

Here's my favorite part of the Tribune report:

"Johnson has been active in efforts to promote civility in hyperpartisan Washington, although he cast the only vote against a resolution congratulating the New Orleans Saints on their Super Bowl victory over the Indianapolis Colts this year. 'I'm an Indianapolis Colts fan,' he said."

*

More on Johnson:

"Though he's served in Congress a decade, few know of Johnson outside of his heavily rural district, which extends about 60 miles south of Chicago to near the Kentucky border, taking in corn and soybean farms and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign."

*

From his Wikipedia page:

"In the House, Johnson's voting record is the most moderate among Illinois Republicans outside of the Chicago area. The American Conservative Union gave him its second-lowest rating among Illinois Republicans, behind only Mark Steven Kirk of the 10th District."

Also:

"For each of the 107th, 108th, 109th, and 110th Congresses Johnson received a score of 0% from the Human Rights Campaign. This was for, among other things, voting against the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, which would have prohibited discrimination in the workplace based on sexual orientation, and for refusing to adopt a written policy for his own office pledging not to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation in employment decisions."

Also:

"Timothy V. Johnson was the sole Republican congressman to vote against the FISA Amendments Act of 2008 including immunity for American telecommunications companies that implemented warrantless wiretaps outside of the scope of the FISA program for the Bush administration. The bill passed, 293, 129."

You Are Free To Forgive
"There are some things that Fred Taylor Jr. and his crew at Southwest Airlines Co. just cannot explain," McClatchy/Tribune reports.

"For example, there was the female passenger who kneeled in front of her middle seat and chewed on the seat cushion, then stripped off her top and ran down the aisle. But Taylor and others on his customer service team can apologize to the other passengers on that flight and did so, as they've done thousands of other times when something has gone wrong in the air or on the ground.

"Their job: to find out the situations in which something went wrong - a mechanical delay, bad weather, a medical emergency or a berserk passenger - then apologize to all passengers on that flight, within 24 hours of their bad experience, if possible."

Border War
"The Illinois Tollway missed out on an estimated $7 million in tolls and fines because of a mix-up in how it issued violation notices to Indiana drivers, officials said," the Sun-Times reports.

"That means more than 116,000 Indiana residents who used the Tollway over the past two years are about to get some unwelcome bills in the mail."

Black Metal Mania
"Belgium isn't the most black metal of countries, possibly because it's hard to develop strong feelings about Satan with so much great beer around," Monica Kendrick writes for the Reader. "The members of Enthroned, a black-metal group based in Brussels, apparently feel driven to compensate: their sound is a stinging maelstrom fit to scour the corpsepaint right off your face, and they seem to have come up with their stage names using a Black Speech of Mordor Demoniker Generator."

Vette Fest
"The first show at Tinley Park's expanded convention center next June will feature something fast, shiny and beloved by car buffs worldwide," the SouthtownStar reports.

"The National Council of Corvette Clubs, which includes 271 clubs in 16 regions throughout the United States, will gather at the center, 183rd Street and Harlem Avenue, from June 18 to 24."

Say It Ain't So
"But unless someone in New York really angers him, it's hard to imagine [Joe Girardi] leaving a job where he's offered a chance to win the World Series every season," Barry Rozner writes for the Daily Herald.

"On the North Side of Chicago, he'd be offered the chance to win the World Series, well, never. If you grew up a Cubs fan, then you know this to be truth, not rumor.

"And all misery aside, it's not like the Cubs are well positioned for the next few years.

"There's also the memory of four years ago when Girardi was coming off a Manager of the Year award, but the Marlins had put the stink on him after Jeff Loria lost his mind and fired him.

"That's when the Cubs hired Lou Piniella, and had Bruce Bochy lined up as their second choice.

"There was no third choice, and all nonsense about any other candidates is just that. Nonsense.

"The Cubs did not intend to even call Girardi until a friend got to John McDonough, who arranged for Girardi to get a courtesy interview and a chance to tell his side of the story.

"But that's all it was. The Cubs believed what they were hearing about Girardi from the clowns in Florida, and it wasn't pleasant.

"Those who wanted nothing to do with Girardi back then still run the Cubs, and you wonder if Girardi will so easily forget."

Month At City Hall Next
"More than 1,500 people have applied to spend a month at Chicago's Museum of Science and Industry," AP reports.

"The winner of the promotion will live at the museum - roaming freely and sleeping in exhibits like the U-505 submarine or the coal mine."

Leaders Blame Privatization
"9 Day Traffic Jam Grips Beijing," the Expired Meter notes.

-

The Beachwood Tip Line: Scratch and sniff.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:44 AM | Permalink

Fantasy Fix: Greg Olsen vs. Johnny Knox

The age of the do-it-all tight end began about five years ago with the rise of guys like Alge Crumpler, Antonio Gates, Tony Gonzalez, Randy McMichael and Todd Heap. Jason Witten and Dallas Clark followed. Last year's discoveries were Vernon Davis and Visanthe Shiancoe, who led TEs in TDs with 13 and 11, respectively. This year's star will be Jermichael Finley.

TE is a position where you can't expect a ton of receiving yards or a lot of TDs, so why not gamble on who you think will be the next big thing. Here's how I'd pick TEs this season:

1. Jermichael Finley, Green Bay: Four TDs in his last five games in 2009, and probably would have been among yardage leaders at his position had he not missed three games. The best QB in the league will feed him regularly.

2. Visanthe Shiancoe, Minnesota: Brett Favre's return and the loss of Sydney Rice to injury for several games assures he'll have another great season with plenty of chances.

3. Vernon Davis, San Francisco: Could easily earn the No. 1 ranking, though a lot depends on the consistency of QB Alex Smith and how much the 49ers run the ball.

4. Antonio Gates, San Diego: Unbelievably, he had his first thousand-yard season last year, when many people were expecting him to start slowing down.

5. Dallas Clark, Indianapolis: A little worried about the likelihood that injuries will force him to miss the entire preseason, but should be a frequent choice in a pass-first offense.

6. Tony Gonzalez, Atlanta: The TE Godfather is aging gracefully and could be in line for more passes in his second year working with QB Matt Ryan.

7. Jason Witten, Dallas: A lot of these picks come down to the QB involved, and Tony Romo is not someone I have a ton of faith in, but Witten and Miles Austin are his best targets.

8. Greg Olsen, Chicago: Could be a gamble even this low, Supposedly, he wasn't going to fit in a Mike Martz offense, but QB Jay Cutler keeps looking for him.

9. Brent Celek, Philadelphia: Almost a thousand yards receiving last year, and QB Kevin Kolb will need him.

10. Owen Daniels, Houston: You will see him ranked higher, and he could finish higher, but he tore his ACL halfway through last year and I think he'll get off to a slow start.

Expert Wire
* First Down reports about how everyone is down on Larry Fitzgerald. Blame Matt Leinart.

* Bleacher Report has confessions of a fantasy football fanatic.

* FanHouse lists five underrated fantasy picks, and one of my favorites, the Bears' Johnny Knox, makes the list.

* SB Nation reminds us about Brian Westbrook, for former first-rounder who was always too injury-prone for my tastes. Could he actually be worth a late pick in the same backfield as Frank Gore?

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Baseball Bonus
Struggling to make the playoffs in the waning weeks of the season? Figure out your problem category and try one of these pick-ups:

Problem: Home runs.
Solution: Luke Scott, 1B/OF, Baltimore. Eight homers in August, and 68 percent owned in Yahoo! leagues.

Problem: Stolen bases.
Solution: Coco Crisp, OF, Kansas City. Five SBs in the last week, and playing more regularly with Scott Podsednik gone. Only 33 percent owned.

Problem: Strikeouts.
Solution: Daniel Hudson, SP, Arizona. 19 strikeouts in his last 14 innings, and trying to make the White Sox look bad for trading him. Only 29 percent owned.

Problem: Saves.
Solution: Hisanori Takahashi, SP/RP, NY Mets: With Francisco Rodriquez out for the season, Takahasi supposedly is the closer of choice. Only 25 percent owned.

So, there you go. Enjoy the playoffs.

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Dan O'Shea's Fantasy Fix appears in this space every Wednesday. He welcomes your comments. You can also read his about his split sports fan personality at SwingsBothWays, which isn't about what it sounds like It's about.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 5:51 AM | Permalink

August 24, 2010

The [Tuesday] Papers

"Four vehicles, each filled with garbage, sit outside a home in a quiet Schaumburg neighborhood, where a mentally ill man has been living in his front yard since it was padlocked by a mortgage company," the Tribune reports. "As angry as his neighbors have become, they have hesitated to sign complaints that would get John Wuerffel arrested."

One of the more poignant signs of the times.

Spin City
So let me get this straight: City Colleges is not considering abolishing its open admissions policy, it's just considering abolishing its open admissions policy. Try again, Trib.

Parks and Rec
"A 25-year veteran Chicago Park District supervisor has been fired from his $56,500-a-year job for allegedly permitting a nude male dancer to perform at a private party at a South Side park," the Sun-Times reports.

"Larry Baldwin, supervisor of recreation for Wentworth Gardens Park, 3770 S. Wentworth, said he was terminated Friday after being confronted with pictures of the male stripper taken by a Chicago Park District underling who left work early to attend the Jan. 8 dinner dance."

Here's my favorite part:

"Baldwin, 55, insisted that he had no advance warning about the nude dancer and had his hands full that night breaking up a dice game in the men's washroom."

I Couldn't Agree More
"I've said this before, but it's worth repeating: Almost everyone close to Blagojevich in his administration has gone to prison or will in the near future," Phil Kadner writes in a must-read column for the SouthtownStar.

"The former governor is a crook.

"Fitzgerald is not.

"If you can't choose the right side in this fight, you deserve the government you get."

A Blago Media Guide
What the nationals should be asking when he goes on their shows.

O'Hare 57
"A UFO sighting from 2007 has been re-ignited to top news today," the Weekly World News reports. The sighting took place at Chicago's O'Hare Airport and has been mired in controversy - as is the case with any UFO sighting."

Why?

"An unedited pre-interview discussion of the sighting from 2007 has surfaced. The conversation is between Jon Hilkevitch (the Chicago Tribune transportation reporter who reported the Chicago UFO story) and Jim Wagner, a news anchor with CLTV, a 24 hour news channel in Oak Brook, Illinois."

Well, it didn't just surface, but here it is:

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Swamp Thing
And now the latest from an earthbound creature.

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Metal Month in Chicago
They rocked us like a hurricane.

Welcome to the Mike Quade Era
What to expect.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Now by a factor of Q.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:23 AM | Permalink

Questions for Blago

As the Rod Blagojevich Comeback Tour continues with the national media, we hope against hope that the dillrods who keep giving this guy a platform to taint the jury pool takes up its proper responsibilities and asks the former governor the questions prosecutors weren't able to when he refused to testify on his behalf. And also some other questions prosecutors may have bypassed.

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1. Every member of your inner circle testified against you - including several not facing any charges and who hadn't cut any deals with prosecutors. Is it all really just a conspiracy against you?

2. Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan just said you lied the other day when you claimed you were about to appoint her to the U.S. Senate. Sure, she's a political enemy. But Chicago political reporter Mike Flannery said the other day that if you didn't lie to the FBI, they were the only ones in Illinois you hadn't lied to. Even while you were still governor you were accused by state lawmakers and others in the system of being a liar. You were forced to sign "Memorandums of Understanding" with legislators who no longer trusted your word. Is everybody lying except you? Why do so many people think you're a liar?

3. Did you really hide in the bathroom to avoid your budget director?

4. Did you really only work a few hours a week?

5. Was former deputy governor Bradley Tusk lying on the stand when he said he was basically running the state and even had to track you down at a bowling alley to get bills signed?

6. Before being indicted you were impeached and removed from office. Why would there be such a huge conspiracy against you? Couldn't the political system just install someone else in the governor's office if they didn't like you? Is it possible this is all your fault?

7. You are once again threatening to call people like Valerie Jarrett and Rahm Emanuel to the stand in a retrial. They would be hostile witnesses, of course. Don't you have any friends or allies who could testify in your defense? Not even one?

8. Describe the work Patti did to earn those fees from Tony Rezko.

9. Where did you get the money to pay for those suits? You weren't thinking of your daughters' college educations then, were you?

10. You are a former prosecutor. Where is the line between political horse-trading and criminal behavior? And the Senate seat may have been horse-trading, but how do you explain people like Children's Hospital CEO Patrick Magoon feeling like they were being extorted? Just another pattern where everybody is wrong except you? Part of the conspiracy?

11. Why do you think the jury didn't acquit you of a single count? Doesn't that mean the government has a responsibility to retry those counts?

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:27 AM | Permalink

Live: Metal Month in Chicago

Catching up with this month's metal.

1. "Slayer, Megadeth and Testament - three bands that helped reinvent metal in the '80s - drew nearly a full house Friday inside the steamy UIC Pavilion, defying age and gravity to play sets that hit hard and fast, brutality delivered with a sinister smile," Greg Kot writes for the Tribune.

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2. "Avenged Sevenfold teased the crowd much like KISS does prior to starting their set," Bob Zerull writes for Zoiks!. "First the curtain drops, but no band, then the fire starts up, but no band, then some lights turn on, still no band. Finally all the lights go out, one of the rafters above the stage falls. A guy falls off of the rafter and hangs himself, then the boys in Avenged Sevenfold bust into their newest hit 'Nightmare.'"

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"The crowd went nuts," Jason Tanamor writes for Zoiks!. "It definitely benefited Disturbed being from Chicago. That and the fact Draiman assured the fans that Disturbed is and will always be from Chicago. From there, the guys had the venue at their disposal."

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3. "They came, they rocked us like a hurricane, and they said goodbye," Bobby Reed writes for the Sun-Times. "Saturday night at the Rosemont Theater, hard-rock icons the Scorpions performed in the United States for perhaps the last time, and two famous siblings shared the stage for the historic occasion."

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:40 AM | Permalink

August 23, 2010

What To Expect In The Mike Quade Era

* Brisker trips to the mound.

* Batting leadoff, Starlin Qastro!

* An end to waiting for the manager to kick dirt on an umpire in order to change the team's fortunes.

* Seventh-inning stretch will always be sung by Joel Quenneville.

* The party's over, Soriano.

* Your new right fielder, Carlos Quentin!

* Remember Bruce Kimm? Sort of like that.

* A new Scrabble edition featuring him and Xavier Nady on the cover.

* Remember Tom Trebelhorn? Sort of like that.

* An overload of "Q" jokes.

* Not much.

* Meet your Chicago Qubs!

* A lack of interest until Joe Girardi or Ryne Sandberg takes over.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 5:01 PM | Permalink

The [Monday] Papers

I haven't even gotten to today's papers yet so let me just catch up with the weekend and cover today tomorrow. Just like print editions do!

Blago's Next Moves
What sources tell the Beachwood.

Why Lou Really Left Early
What sources tell the Beachwood.

Water Waste
"Working for the public agency that handles Cook County's storm water and wastewater often involves unglamorous trips into the cavernous Deep Tunnel or to the malodorous sewage treatment plant in south-suburban Stickney," the Chicago News Cooperative reports. "But duty has also called district employees on trips to Thailand, Denmark, the Greek islands and some of Chicago's nicest steakhouses - all at the taxpayers' expense.

"An investigation by the Chicago News Cooperative found that 40 employees at the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago charged about $1 million on the district's credit cards in the last three-and-a-half years. Most of that money was spent on travel to professional conferences, with employees sometimes staying at such luxury hotels as the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas."

Can you imagine water reclamation district employees in Vegas? Put it all on black - just like our sewage!

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Too easy? I've been tired lately. But I can see the film trailer now . . . and the voiceover . . . "Take three parts sludge, two parts junket, one part politics and a million parts zany and you've got . . . Sewer Rats in Vegas . . . starring Adam Sandler, David Spade and Jenny McCarthy."

Or something.

Thank You . . .
. . . Tribune, for this.

Every media appearance Blago makes should come with instant fact-checking.

. . . Sun-Times, for this.

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But even journalists believe a lot of things that aren't true.

For example, this appeared in the Sun-Times

But LBJ never said "If I've lost Cronkite, I've lost Middle America."

Just like Al Gore never said he invented the Internet or that he was inspiration for a character in Love Story, despite what you are still being told.

Maybe not the same as believing in ghosts, but a lot of people believe in ghosts.

And after all, are birthers any worse than truthers- or maybe less worse, I happen to believe their ridiculous position is actually more plausible.

My guess is that a certain number of birthers just don't know any better or say Yes if asked if Obama is a Muslim because they figure he is if they're being asked. Yes, far more birthers are conspiracists, among other unpleasantries, but being a truther requires a more active conspiratorial mind; you aren't a truther by accident.

But let's take a more rudimentary example: The recent Tribune poll showing that nearly half of Chicagoans wrongly believe crime is up.

Now where would Chicagoans get that idea? What a head-scratcher!

And yet, the Tribune set out to track every shooting in July because, um, crime is down? Or to ride the meme?

The Trib's findings over the weekend must have disappointed editors and reporters:

"Crime has been holding steady in Chicago in recent years. Through July, there have been 1,089 shootings in the city, a 2.4 percent decrease over last year. This July, police counted 221 shooting incidents, compared with 229 in July 2009. A review of seven years worth of shootings showed similar numbers.

"In other words, this was a typical July."

Breaking news!

Cliche Replay
Look, the New York Times accidentally republished a story from 1991 . . .

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Next: Why aren't college students protesting like they did in the 60s?

And: Why don't twentysomethings just get jobs? Like we did in the 60s?

Jock Straps
"I do know it is a great deal more satisfying taking Alana to see the Red Stars than the Bulls or Blackhawks," our very own Jim Coffman writes in SportsMonday. "The dreadful Luvabulls and Ice Crew girls are the only women in the spotlight at those events and Alana notices - big time.

"Do the guys who run these teams have daughters? And are they happy to continually send them the message that their place at sporting events is on the sideline, leading cheers or skating around in slutty outfits for the enjoyment of the boys in the spotlight?"

Blame Game
The White Sox should look in the mirror, not at Joe West or Delmon Young.

Smells Like Shaving Spirit
A correspondence about PR and passion.

Unfinished Business
Didn't even come close to dealing with all the material at hand. The news is killing me. More tomorrow.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Like a gateway drug.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:46 AM | Permalink

Smells Like Shaving Spirit

Another round of correspondence from the crossroads of PR and journalism.

*

From: Joanna Goldstein, Porter Novelli
To: Steve Rhodes
Date: July 27
Subject: Story/interview

Hi Steve. Please let me know if you are interested in the following interview or story_idea that's timely for 8/7 or 8/8 on How to land your dream job @ Lollapalooza.

Looking to land your dream job, look no further when following tips from Adam Ward and Jason Fisher, two regular guys who scored a sweet deal with Gillette, who are putting them to work as Brand Ambassadors after winning the Ultimate Summer Job Contest where they shot and edited a 60-second video expressing their passion for Gillette.

The job sends the guys on a summer road trip in local_markets across the country where the next stop will be at Lollapalooza in Chicago, IL.

We can provide you with:

- Adam and Jason interviews via telephone or at the Gillette Shave Station (offsite)

- Lollapalooza survival tips including Festival Dos and Donts, where to eat, sleep & shower

- Exclusive access to follow Adam and Jason around Lollapalooza as they turn skeptical consumers into believers of the new Gillette Fusion ProGlide razor

- Tips on how to become a brand ambassador

- Information on what this means for upcoming brand campaigns on consumer involvement

- Free shaves and product giveaways

- Free tickets to Lollapalooza for readers who can name all of the members of a specific band and/or all seven nnovations in the new Gillette Fusion ProGlide

- Details on the previously attended events, celebrity meet & greets, and more!

The effort, which supports P&G's recent Gillette Fusion ProGlide launch, will send the guys on a 18-city summer road trip and have them document their experiences on a blog: proglidesummerjob.com. (Ward and Fisher were selected from many contestants following a Gillette rap performance on stage in New York's Hudson Hotel.)

The summer trip includes stops at the ESPY Awards, Lollapalooza, the Vegas Strip, and more.

Live up-to-the-minute photos, updates and details on the exclusive VIP access will be broadcasted daily on Twitter at @ProGlideUSJ.

Please let me know if you are interested in attending the music fest to follow the brand ambassadors or to talk with them for an interview regarding how they won their dream job!


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From: Steve Rhodes
To: Joanna Goldstein
Date: July 28

So let me get this straight. These guys' dream job was to be brand ambassadors for Gillette? And that's the brand they have a passion for? And would exclusive access mean that no other media but me would be allowed to follow them around?

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From: Joanna Goldstein
To: Steve Rhodes
Date: July 29

Hi Steve,

Thank you for your interest. (Ward and Fisher were selected from Many contestants following a Gillette rap performance on stage in New York's Hudson Hotel.) They love the brand since they got their first razor at age 18 and decided to enter the contest that was open to consumers across the country. It's a dream job to them because they entered and had the winning video for the Ultimate Summer Job that consists of them turning consumers on to the new product launch at major high-profile events that include the ESPYS, All Star Game, Lollapalooza and more! They document their journey on their Twitter at @ProGlideUSJ and the following blog:proglidesummerjob.com

The media coverage isn't exclusive, but what the initiative offers is a ticket to the 2-day fest along with exclusive access to the 2-day festival and all the activities and areas that the winners will be attending/participating. There will be shave booths and areas to interact with other consumers as well as VIP access areas with other potential high-profile people that the winners meet and greet with throughout the festival.

Let me know if you are still interested in attending and covering winners as they continue to be brand ambassadors on their next stop to Chicago and attend Lollapooza and I will be happy to work with you on securing you a ticket and finalizing logistics with you for the opportunity for coverage on your news website.

I completely understand that there is a lot of branding involved in the story. Keep me posted on your interest in coverage and I will see if my team can secure you a ticket to the festival.

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From: Joanna Goldstein
To: Steve Rhodes
Date: July 29

Steve,

Please keep me posted on your interest level. I would like to begin securing you a ticket if you can confirm coverage.

Thank you,
Joanna

*

From: Steve Rhodes
To: Joanna Goldstein
Date: July 30

Um, no thanks.

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From: Joanna Goldstein
To: Steve Rhodes
Date: July 30

Hi Steve,

Although this is open to all media, I am pitching one outlet at a time and if you are no longer interested then I will move on to another outlet. If you change your mind as far as interest, please let me know and I will be happy to accommodate your needs.

Have a great weekend.

Best,
Joanna

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:00 AM | Permalink

Blago's Next Moves

Sources say.

* Discloses he was just going to read passages from Moby Dick if he actually was called to the stand.

* Drives to Terre Haute federal pen just to moon George Ryan.

* Dinner with Ozzie Guillen.

* Forms book club with Carlos Zambrano and Billy Dec.

* Replaces Criss Angel on Mindfreak.

* Orders 5 million pencils from Office Max for November write-in campaign.

* Feeds tidbit to Sneed about the family dog.

* Signs up as new spokesman for Hair Club For Men ad campaign: "Hair Is Fucking Golden and You Can Be, Too!"

* Hires Peter Francis Geraci to handle bankruptcy and stiff his creditors, including the Adams'.

* Visits White House with winning defense team to pose with president.

* Presses hair into wet cement at his Hollywood Star ceremony.

* This time Trump appears on his reality show, Celebrity Defendant.

* Proposes Ground Zero Liberty Museum.

* Starts teaching "How To Beat The Rap" at the Learning Annex.

* Continues to ignore his brother.

* Rolls Lincoln over in his grave just for fun.

* Goes as self for Halloween.

* Stars in new reality show where contestants compete to be the next holdout juror.

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Comments welcome.

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1. From Beachwood Mark:

* In talks to pair up with George Ryan for a relaunched version of At The Movies.

* Angling for the open third-base coaching job for the Cubs - has experience making tough decisions for a losing organization (State of Illinois).

* Ghostwriting Roeper's S-T column - has experience working only a few hours a week.

* Taping new Magic Bullet infomercial with Patti - guests gathered around the Blago kitchen island will include Patrick Fitzgerald, Tony Rezko, Sam Adam, Jr., and an Elvis impersonator. Patti won't actually do any of the mixing.

* Getting cash on the spot from Victory Auto Wreckers after his car door falls off in the street outside his house.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:46 AM | Permalink

Why Lou Left Early

The Cub Factor has learned that - with all due respect to Lou Piniella's ailing mother - the Cubs skipper called it a career early for a host of other reasons:

* Got a better offer from the Shady Oaks Retirement Home's softball team in Tampa.

* He's finally going into labor.

* He can't believe Jim Hendry still has his job either.

* Coma patients who awaken often make rash decisions.

* Better offer from AARP softball team.

* New Ricketts early retirement plan includes all the bison burgers you can eat.

* Beer league back home needs an advance scout.

* Must study major league rosters if he's going to do well for Fox in the playoffs.

* Activated for service in Afghanistan.

* Told Soriano the team wasn't big enough for the both of them.

* Lost a bet to Sam Fuld.

* Ricketts pulled his parking privileges.

* He was upset that he was put on waivers and no one claimed him.

* His wife finally realized he wasn't at the store getting cigarettes.

* Wanted to give Mike Quade his big shot.

* He just couldn't take it anymore.

Week in Review: The Padres came into Wrigley and swept a four-game set, followed by the Braves winning two of three for a 1-6 homestand. Meet your 2011 Cubs.

Week in Preview: The Mike Quade Era begins with three in Washington against former Cubs manager Jim Riggleman and three in Cincinnati against former Cubs manager Dusty Baker. Riggleman's Nats are in last place in the NL East but still have a better record than the Cubs and, from the looks of it, a brighter future. Baker's Reds are in first place and looking to re-sign the skipper unless he takes a better offer from the Dodgers. Quade's employment as Cubs interim manager is a nice going-away gift when the team releases him and Alan Trammel to greener pastures elsewhere.

The Second Basemen Report: The fact that backup second baseman Jeff Baker started Lou Piniella's last game in right field just about says it all. It was his second start there last week. Meanwhile, Blake DeWitt got five starts at second and minor league shortstop Darwin Barney got two. Just like Jim Hendry drew it up.

In former second basemen news, Ryan Theriot is hitting .288 with the Dodgers and batting second. Mike Fontenot is hitting .300 since joining the Giants and platooning with Freddy Sanchez. All-Star utility man Omar Infante, who was briefly a Cub, went 4-for-6 with two home runs, four RBI and four runs scored at Wrigley on Sunday. He is missed.

The Zam Bomb: Like Bart Simpson and a substitute teacher, we expect Carlos Zambrano to test Mike Quade this week.

zam_Boom.jpg

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Lost in Translation: Domo ariWHAT? is Japanese for Get me the hell out of this madhouse.

Endorsement No-Brainer: Lou Piniella for Planned Parenthood. It's not the best way to go, but pulling out early at least gives you a chance to avoid a life-long legacy you really don't want.

Sweet and Sour Lou: 50% sweet, 50% sour. It was a wild ride but it had to end, and you have to wonder if it really should have ever begun. And just like your real crazy drunk uncle, you have to wonder if the plant should have hired that young guy a few years ago who they seem to be so hot for now. Would've saved everyone a lot of time, stress and money. And he knows how to work the new equipment.

Ameritrade Stock Pick of the Week: Goat commodities are making a strange comeback; hop on that gravy train.

Over/Under: The number of rookies playing now who will make the team next spring: +/- 3.

Beachwood Sabermetrics: A complex algorithm performed by the The Cub Factor staff using all historical data made available by Major League Baseball has determined that Jim Hendry is the goat.

Agony & Ivy: It's a way of life.

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

The White Sox Report: Now with a weekly Cubs Snub.

The Mount Lou Alert System: In honor of the North Side's crazy drunk uncle, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security has declared Wrigleyville a natural disaster area and asks citizens to remain on highest alert for the remainder of the season.

mtlou_red.gif

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Contact The Cub Factor!


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:29 AM | Permalink

SportsMonday: Young Girls Seeing Stars

We had my daughter Alana's small ninth birthday party at the Red Stars women's soccer game at Toyota Park on Sunday. Taking a page from the Blackhawk book, the team started the game at 5 p.m. (a few years ago, the Blackhawks decided to move up the start time on many Sunday evening games to 6 p.m. - and parents everywhere thanked them for it).

Most of the park was closed for the contest, which the home team lost 3-2 to a squad actually called FC Pride. Before games, boring soccer teams who can't think for themselves parade their players onto their home pitch holding hands with kids because that's what teams do in the top leagues and at the World Cup. I'm thinking pre-game FC Pride parades have to be far more entertaining.

The Red Stars are named after the red stars in the middle of the Chicago flag. Of course they play their games in Bridgeview but maybe that small southwestern suburb has stars in its flag as well. I couldn't find any Bridgeview flags to confirm. The team is averaging maybe three or four thousand fans per game this summer and that sort of a crowd fits nicely into the quarter or so of the stadium that spreads up and out from the benches on the east side of the field.

I suppose the primary question, besides why soccer teams that play primarily in the summer would put their prime seats and luxury suites on the sunny and oftentimes scorching side of the field, is whether there is a future for women's pro soccer.

Attendance was more than 6,000 on Sunday - I suppose that is a good sign. And the Chicago Bandits and the Chicago Sky are still making it in the North American Professional Softball League and the WNBA, respectively. Nobody is getting rich in these endeavors but they are still in business. Still, I don't think anyone would say they know whether any of these teams will still be around in five years.

I do know it is a great deal more satisfying taking Alana to see the Red Stars than the Bulls or Blackhawks. The dreadful Luvabulls and Ice Crew girls are the only women in the spotlight at those events and Alana notices - big time.

Do the guys who run these teams have daughters? And are they happy to continually send them the message that their place at sporting events is on the sideline, leading cheers or skating around in slutty outfits for the enjoyment of the boys in the spotlight?

On the other hand, I can't watch the WNBA for more than five minutes. A decent boys high school game in Chicago is far, far more exciting than anything women's professional basketball can deliver. And the fact that no one in the league seems willing to even consider trying to add a little pizazz to the game like, say, Bob Cousy did way back when when the NBA needed a spark, is oh so dim.

Pro softball doesn't do it for me either.

The Pride and the Red Stars played very entertaining soccer on Sunday. I hope that counts for something. It helped that the teams scored early and, for soccer, often. I am a fan of the game but scoreless ties and plenty of 1-0 finals make me angry. Sometimes two teams play compelling soccer and just happen not to score or a single tally makes the difference.

Far more frequently overly conservative game plans result in a boring back-and-forth and in the end we've wasted 90 minutes with chicken . . . salad teams that refused to take the chances needed to achieve anything worth having in sports.

That definitely wasn't a problem Sunday. And my daughter, and my son and my other daughter (well, she's a little young and was mostly concerned about yet another kind of parade - that was the one featuring different forms of junk food and drink being trotted out by various vendors in our section) and the rest of our group had a real good time . . . especially after the sun finally went down behind the western grandstand about 20 minutes into the second half.

Bears Bite
Egad - is anyone paying even a little bit of attention still optimistic about the Bears after that debacle against Oakland on Saturday?

How would that be possible after watching the defense give up huge swaths of yardage to the absolutely unremarkable Jason Campbell and his band of unknown skill players on one side of the ball and Jay Cutler run for his life on the other?

The fact that the Bears' terrible defense and Chris Williams' inability to stop a simple speed rush were incredibly bad signs was covered in terrific detail in the local papers on Sunday.

But there is another side to this. In the first week of the preseason, against a Cowboy team many observers are describing as the most talented in Big D since the 1994 squad brought home the franchise's third Super Bowl in four years, the Raiders recorded four sacks in the game's first 20 plays.

It might be that Oakland, which has been bad for a half-dozen years now and maybe is finally starting to take advantage of the drafting advantages that go with that status, won first-half battles more than the Bears lost.

In other words, this is one of the things that happens in the preseason - a young group with much to prove hits the ground running and gets a little ahead of the competition no matter what team it is.

And of course there is the fact that . . . preseason games mean nothing! Yep, I have repeated this fact during the preseasons the past several years and I suppose I always will when writing about the practice games that receive an inordinate amount of attention in a football-mad metropolis.

We won't really start to know anything (other than perhaps the fact that the Bears' age on defense is almost certainly going to result in more injuries like Urlacher's pulled calf in the first series than would be suffered by a younger crew) until the true kickoff in three weeks.

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Jim "Coach" Coffman brings you SportsMonday in this space every, um, Monday. He welcomes your comments.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:13 AM | Permalink

The Truth Shall Finish In Second Place

It's not their fault they're rapidly losing ground.

It's not their fault they can't move a runner past second base, it's Joe West's fault, because he's a terrible umpire.

It's not their fault the bullpen has been effectively useless, it's modern medicine's fault for allowing two of their most valuable relievers to fall prey to injury.

It's not their fault Alex Rios' bat has turned to stone, it's the Royals' fault for rescheduling Friday's game to capitalize on that sweet, sweet WGN money.

It's not their fault they can't beat the teams they need to beat, it's the other teams' fault for playing good baseball at the wrong time.

It's not their fault last winter's low-rent approach to roster construction has destroyed them, it's Jim Thome's fault for being a great hitter.

It's not their fault the cracks are turning into chasms, it's Delmon Young's fault because he plays dirty.

But whatever.

There's still a month left and it's a long season/grinder/grit/2005/four touchdowns in a single game, but the real problem isn't just the Twins' lead, nor is it the league's conspiracy against them, nor is it the weather gods' spitefulness. Instead, let us look within, into the cold, ugly heart of 2010 White Sox baseball and admit it: they are not very good, and they never were and we know this now because we know that bad teams make the excuses good teams never need.

Week in Review: Steady. Lose-win-lose to the Twins, then lose-win-lose to the Royals for another 2-4 week.

Week in Preview: Mid-Atlantic. The Sox host the O's for three, then say hello to the goddamned Yankees. The White Sox Report would like to extend a warm "Who's this ****in' guy?" to every New Yorker making the trip to Chicago for the weekend. Bensonhurst is that-a-way, man.

Hawkeroo's Can-O-Corn Watch: "That was always the thing, when I was with Boston, about playing against the Yankees, was that you knew they had some players. You look at that tradition, from Mantle and Maris, Reggie Jackson, Paul O'Neill, Ruben Sierra, Nick Swisher now, guys who were just great baseball players who played the game of baseball, but did it in a way that made it so winning was what happened when they played, and there's no one who understands it better than that young man playing shortstop down there with the number '2' on his jersey, that's a guy who's going to do those things Ruth did, Lou Gehrig, even the pitchers, you look at Sonny Siebert who gave me all kinds of trouble in the batter's box, that's the kind of player that the Yankees bring to play, and that's what our Sox need to do to turn this around."

Gordon Beckham Hall of Fame Update: Gordon Beckham triples this season: two. Frank Thomas triples during MVP-winning 1993 season: zero. Advantage: Beckham.

Alumni News You Can Use: Former White Sox reliever Mike MacDougal can still inspire the wrong kind of fear.

The "H" in "DH" Stands For: Hurt, as in The Big Hurt, who hit almost as many home runs between 1995 and 1997 (118) as Mark Kotsay has in his entire 14-year career (121). How awesome. How sad.

The Q Factor: "The number they're retiring," he says, "It exceeds the 'twenty' I wear only in the purest mathematical sense. Nothing more. But nothing less, either."

The Guillen Meter: His longtime teammate and short-time subordinate soon immortalized on the outfield wall, the Guillen Meter reads "35" for "A guy who can hit for extreme power? That's crazy."

Endorsement No-Brainer: White Sox pitching for your fantasy football team: it looks great on paper, and you might get a big week here or there, but it will still going get you surprisingly little in the end.

Cubs Snub: On the occasion of his retirement, The White Sox Report salutes Lou Piniella's achievements with the Baltimore Orioles, Cleveland Indians, Kansas City Royals, New York Yankees, Cincinnati Reds, Seattle Mariners, and Tampa Bay Devil Rays. That is all.

The White Sox Report: Read 'em all.

The Cub Factor: It's funny because it's true.

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The White Sox Report welcomes your comments.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:59 AM | Permalink

August 21, 2010

The Weekend Desk Report

Sick of the Cubs? Can't stomach the Sox? Thank goodness Major Lying Bastard season is in full - and perpetual - swing.

Market Update
Sadly, it's looking like the whole Noble Ideas Index may collapse after this week as Community, Revitalization and Dignity were all subjects of a hostile takeover by Reality.

Churchill Downs
Semi-professional gasbag Rod Blagojevich continued his unpaid tour of media outlets this week, comparing himself on ABC News with Winston Churchill. By which he means, naturally, that he would've tried to shake down Gandhi if given half the chance.

Winston, Lose Some
As for Blagojevich's Churchillian future, the Weekend Desk Research Department regrets to inform him that there is no Nobel Prize for profanity.

Beating the Rap
Meanwhile, the race for the 2010 Well-Intentioned Grandstander election got much less interesting this week as Wyclef Jean was officially ruled ineligible for the Misguided Party nomination. Analysts say Jean may switch to the Blowhard Party for the 2015 race, when he will likely challenge incumbent Sean Penn.

Blaze of Glory
Finally this week, medical science has at last confirmed what we all suspected: It's all fun and games until someone strokes out.

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The Weekend Desk Tip Line: Stroke us.

Posted by Natasha Julius at 8:25 AM | Permalink

August 20, 2010

The Holdout Juror

"What [the other] jurors are being too polite to say is that that one holdout juror was somehow just, I mean, crazy," Rob Wildeboer of WBEZ said on Chicago Tonight on Wednesday night.

"Not crazy obviously, but given what the evidence showed, how could that person not - it was overwhelming evidence and they all agreed on it, how could she not see what they all saw. There's no real good reason that any of the jurors have given for why that holdout juror was a holdout juror."

Indeed. And according to the form she filled out when she went through jury selection, she even listens to NPR!

"She had a different interpretation of the facts as they were set upon us, and it didn't gibe with the rest of us," juror Robert Schindler told Phil Ponce in a separate segment.

Is the holdout juror - Jo Ann Chiakulas of Willowbrook - nuts? Or did she simply pay too much attention to seeing Blago on Leno - which she did - than to the jury instructions and the government's wiretaps?

The jury took up Robert Blagojevich first, thinking it would be an easier way to start, before realizing that they had to determine first if Rod was guilty.

Still, they held an early vote on Robert and "It occurred to me that we had a problem," jury foreman James Matsumoto told Ponce.

They were six days in when they found the verdict forms in their basket of materials. That, they said, gave them a roadmap; they essentially started over.

Still, the count that could fairly be described as the weakest going in - the alleged selling of Barack Obama's Senate seat - was a slam dunk to everyone but Chiakulas once deliberations began.

SCHINDLER: What finally brought me over on the Senate seat count was the opportunity to put the testimony aside and listen to the tapes sequentially and get the flow . . . It became clear to me that the crime had been committed.

MATSUMOTO: I felt the same way. It was up putting laying up on layer with each conversation . . . I decided that he was actually trying to sell that Senate seat, for Secretary of Health and Human Services, and also the things he said. I felt at that particular point he was desperate or campaign funds and funds to help his own financial situation.

SCHINDLER: To me as much as anything it was the pattern and the development of fallback positions. It became more and more clear that the objective was to get the best that he could for that decision.

MATSUMOTO: We already knew it was only attempts, attempts to commit conspiracy . . . because he didn't get the money. It didn't' matter, because he took a 'significant step' . . .

SCHINDLER: The [jury] instructions were clear.

PONCE: Did you argue about that?

MATSUMOTO: There were some who didn't see . . . she had said if there was something that was definitive . . . there was layer upon layer and you made logical inferences . . .

*

In a separate segment, former U.S. Attorney Jim Burns said "it sounds like a bit of a nullification vote."

That's also what Terry Ekl, the attorney for John Harris, told the Daily Herald:

"What the defense did was really jury nullification. It was not about following the law. They said, 'Well, it was just talk. He's broke.' But, that's what conspiracy is. Even if he just intended to get something, he's guilty. You probably had two or three jurors who didn't understand that even just talking is still a crime."

Ekl said he thought Blagojevich would be found guilty across the board on all counts.

*

WILDEBOER: There was undisputable evidence that Blagogojvich was out for himself when it came to that Senate seat. He was trying to get something for himself. I don't see how anybody reasonable could sit in that courtroom, hear that evidence and not come to that conclusion. You've got him on tape saying things like 'Maybe I can get a deal for four years and a million dollars or $750,000 but it's gotta be good.' So the fact that there was one juror that didn't buy into that, I think it's interesting to note -

PONCE: She wanted to see the payoff . . .

WILDEBOER: - but we heard the two jurors sitting here tonight saying we understand that there's a difference between a completed act and an attempt, so the prosecution really proved its case on that part, and what [the other] jurors are being too polite to say is that that one holdout juror was somehow just, I mean, crazy. Not crazy obviously, but given what the evidence showed, how could that person not - it was overwhelming evidence and they all agreed on it, how could she not see what they all saw. There's no real good reason that any of the jurors have given for why that holdout juror was a holdout juror.

*

The Senate seat count was the most sensational, but it was by no means the most airtight - as airtight as it was. NBC5's Phil Rogers pointed out that prosecutors opened and closed with the count alleging that Blagojevich tried to shake down a children's hospital, a charge the he called "pretty close to a slam dunk."

And the count alleging that Rahm Emanuel have his brother hold a fundraiser in exchange for releasing state money to a school in Emanuel's then-congressional district?

The evidence on that count seemed absolutely crystal clear," Rogers said. "Were they watching a different case than we were?"

Yet, more jurors thought Blagojevich was not guilty than guilty on that count. What happened, Ponce asked the jurors. Any ideas?

"I really don't [have any ideas]," Schindler said. "I saw it as a guilty situation. And we talked about it more than once, in more than one approach. Each time we would hold a vote and we could never get close one way or another."

*

WILDEBOER: In the jury instructions it said if the governor was trying to get something of personal gain, then that's a crime. How those two didn't get matched up here I don't understand.

*

So far, Chiakulas isn't speaking up for herself.

"A juror in Rod Blagojevich's trial, which ended Tuesday, lives in Willowbrook, but has not returned calls for comment," the Burr Ridge Doings-Weekly reports.

"Jo Ann Chiakulas, 67, bought a town house in the Stanhope Square subdivision in January 2006. She had previously lived for years in Chicago.

"Chiakulas is a former state employee, having been appointed special assistant for minority affairs in the Illinois Department of Public Health in 1991.

"Chiakulas also was director of the Chicago Urban League's Young Parents Center for over 10 years and was coordinator for the state's Parents Too Soon program."

*

"She is a black woman in her 60s, according to testimony during jury selection," Chuck Goudie reports. "She is divorced and lives in suburban Willowbrook. The juror has a college degree. She retired in 1999 as director of a state public health department center. She is active with the Chicago Urban League and in some local politics and has donated to national candidates. Juror 106 watches national news, listens to public radio and liberal talk shows. She heard and read about the Blagojevich case but said she wouldn't be influenced by it."

*

For a time on Thursday some of us thought we had stumbled upon an extraordinary revelation: that Chiakulas was a precinct captain for Ald. Sandi Jackson.

Here's what led us - seemingly - astray:

"Jurors No. 106 and No. 126 won't make the cut," the Chicago News Cooperative reported in June. "No. 106 said she worked as a precinct captain to Sandi Jackson, the wife of Democratic Representative Jesse Jackson Jr., who has been subpoenaed by the defense. The woman brought out the heartiest chuckle from the courtroom crowd yesterday when Zagel asked if she had recalled seeing either Rod or Patti Blagojevich on television and she said that she had seen Patti on a reality show, 'something about bugs.' The juror was referring to Patti's appearance on NBC's I'm a Celebrity, Get me Out of Here."

Chiakulas is Juror No. 106.

But hold on.The Sun-Times reported at the time that "No. 102 told the judge she is a precinct captain who's done work for Chicago Ald. Sandi Jackson's office. The defense has subpoenaed Jackson's husband, U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr., as a potential witness in the trial."

So it appears there was simply a mix-up.

Interestingly, ironically and presciently, though, the Blago-Report paired Nos. 102 and 106 in its report back then:

"Juror #102 seemed rather eager to be on the jury and emphasized what a fair person she could be. Blagojevich was vigorously nodding while she was talking, and watching intently (as opposed to his usual head bowed, taking notes posture he adopted during most of the interviews). Her eagerness might make her a volatile juror for both sides, and the positive things that Blagojevich liked might make her a candidate for a peremptory challenge by the prosecution. Blagojevich also seemed to like juror #106 - who did community work - and she could be another candidate for a prosecution dismissal.

"Juror #106 said she has gotten some of what she knows about Blagojevich from Jay Leno, which got a broad smile and a big laugh from the former governor."

There you have it. Maybe Chiakulas will get booked next.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 5:18 AM | Permalink

The [Friday] Papers

For awhile there yesterday - and I wasn't the only one - I thought I had learned that the holdout juror was a precinct captain for Sandi Jackson. Wouldn't that have been interesting?

I had to settle instead for discovering that - according to one report - she said during jury that "she has gotten some of what she knows about Blagojevich from Jay Leno, which got a broad smile and a big laugh from the former governor."

For that and the exasperated - and right - local reporter who thinks she's crazy, see The Holdout Juror in Beachwood Politics.

Too Easy?
"Blago: Senate Seat Talk Was Legal 'Horse Trading'."

Or trading by a horse's ass.

Too Easy?
"In a news release Wednesday, Daley says the O'Hare Express Blue Ribbon Committee will evaluate whether new train service is feasible and then make a plan to develop it," Crain's reported this week.

If they make it the Pabst Blue Ribbon Line, I'm there.

Too Easy?
"Joe The Plumber Focuses On Responsibility In Springfield."

Not too easy, but too tortured; I was going to go for a "cleaning up the horse poop from all that horse trading" line here.

Will skip similar Cubs joke.

Too Easy?
Blago can't wait to testify at his retrial . . .

Too Easy?
"City To Create 'Name Registry' For Homeless."

Must provide an address to be eligible.

*

Hey, this is the early show. The material gets better. Please tip your baristas.

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Surf & Turf
"Want turf racing? Arlington Park's got your turf racing. It's Million Week and the palace is hammerin' the turf angle home as it plans to run 11 of its 12 races Saturday on the world-class grass course," our man on the rail Thomas Chambers reports. See who he likes.

The Week In WTF
The holdout juror, Mike North, Dan Rostenkowski, Sam Zell and the Chicago Bears all make David Rutter's list this week. See why.

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Boston Globe Tailors Print Edition For Three Remaining Subscribers

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New Google Ad Service Whispers Targeted Ads Directly Into Users' Ears

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Rejoin the conspiracy.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 3:02 AM | Permalink

TrackNotes: Million Dollar Baby

Want turf racing?

Arlington Park's got your turf racing. It's Million Week and the palace is hammerin' the turf angle home as it plans to run 11 of its 12 races Saturday on the world-class grass course.

We'll see the only Grade I races and some of the best horses Chicago offers in any year. The marquee races kick off with 79th running of the Grade III Stars and Stripes Turf at 3:06, followed by The Secretariat, The Beverly D and the Arlington Million. Chasers will also have the $60,000 Hatoof right after that.

Rumors are that Comcast Sports will carry the Million, but my local listings don't check out.

The Stars and Stripes
This venerable race goes off for the 79th time and the Grade II offers $100,00 in purse money. Frankie Torres and Free Fighter are the morning-line favorites. It's based on his ability to get the longer distances for this 13-furlong race (1-5/8 miles).

Perfect Shower, Ramon Dominguez up, brings in much the same cred. And if he takes to the luxurious Arlington lawn, look for Inez Karlsson and Blushing Bear to contend.

The Secretariat
The 34th running of this $400,000 race for three-year-olds at 10 furlongs will feature the biggest favorite of the day, Paddy O'Prado. He's already even money on the morning line and comes off victories in the Colonial Turf Cup and the Virginia Derby. In the former, he beat two others in this race, the highly regarded Workin for Hops and Two Notch Road.

Kent Desormeaux takes the reins on Paddy, who has found his home on turf after a detour into the (Kentucky) Derby Fever season, where he finished a respectable third in the Run for the Roses. Frankie Torres returns on Workin for Hops and will try to parlay the win in the American Derby here at Arlington on July 17th.

Irish shipper Wigmore Hall comes in off of two straight wins in England and four wins in nine starts.

The Beverly D
The 21st running of this $750,000 race for fillies and mares, three and up, at 9.5 furlongs will be one of the best betting opportunities of the day.

Your early favorites are Rainbow View with Julien Leparoux up, and Treat Gently with Desormeaux. Local boy Jimmy Graham rides Hot Cha Cha, a consistent performer who finished third in the July 17th Modesty Handicap at Arlington behind the late Tuscan Evening. Rainbow View finished fourth in that same race and while she is capable, her Beyer Speed Figures are on a downward trend and it looks like the distance here may just be a few yards too many.

Junior Alvarado's Eclair de Lune posted a 13-point Beyer improvement in shadowing Tuscan Evening in the Modesty and 5-1 seems a nice price. Treat Gently's won her last two. Don't know if she cares to win, but British-bred Ave with Ramon Dominguez likes to be in the thick of it. At a price, I'll take a horse-for-the-course approach with Hot Cha Cha and also keep an eye on the Pulpit filly Pachattack, a British runner with wily veteran Kieran Fallon up.

The Arlington Million
Your darling of the day, Gio Ponti, runs in the 28th edition of the first American million-dollar race, slated at 10 furlongs.

Ramon Dominguez will seek to repeat Gio's win in this race last year and become the first back-to-back winner of the Million. The legendary John Henry won the first Million in 1981 and came back again in 1984.

Gio Ponti might be one of the most underappreciated horses in America. He gives you an honest effort every time and wherever his services are required.

The reigning American Champion Male Turf Horse andAmerican Champion Older Male Horse sports a 20-10-6-0 lifetime record and has won on and between both coasts. He took a shot at the Dubai World Cup on the artificial Tapeta surface and turned in a respectable performance for fourth place.

He took a very tough beat to Zenyatta in last year's Breeders' Cup Classic just after winning four Grade Is on turf courses rated yielding to firm. And he's won more than $4 million under the watchful eye of trainer Christophe Clement.

With four placings and a fourth in Dubai, they whispered he'd lost a step, but he comes to Arlington off a neck win in the Grade I Man o' War and another tough beat after a rough trip in the Manhattan. Sure, you try to beat him at his price. But you don't watch this Million without enjoying him and appreciating everything he brings to every race.

Joining Gio will be a decent field with a few of the typical foreign invaders. The seven-year-old veteran Just As Well, Leparoux up, is the second favorite on the morning line. He hasn't won since last year's Arlington Handicap and it's possible he's still feeling the effects of a trip to the Japan Cup last November. He nearly caught Rahystrada in the Arlington Handicap July 17 and had some bad luck in the Grade II Dixie on Preakness Day and in the Manhattan. Don't discount him.

I've got to mix in Rahystrada with local gem Karlsson riding after he made me a few dollars on Million Preview Day. He may be in a tad deep, but he won here last summer and is in good form now under trainer Byron Hughes.

Of the foreign-raced horses, Tazeez jumps off the page. Yeah, he hasn't won since October 2008, but he's been keeping good company in graded races in Britain and France and has solid Racing Post Rating numbers. If you subscribe to the theory that Euro turfers are generally better than American turfers, this is a good spot. He's 6-1 on the morning line and I just hope he stays somewhere around there.

Irish-bred Summit Surge brings in many of the same credentials and beat Bushman and Allybar last month in the Group 2 York Stakes. If you're sentimental, you're hoping for General Quarters to do something. But his form is going in the wrong direction. Somewhere in the trifecta will probably be his best.

In another race of note, the always-puzzling Giant Oak and Recapturetheglory square off in the fourth, a $62,000 allowance optional claiming race. I guess the relatively gaudy Beyers give him the favorite's role, but Giant Oak just doesn't seem to have his heart in it. He did close to within a respectable short two lengths to a thundering Rahystrada in the Arlington Handicap. He's always highly placed, but he hasn't won in 14 months. The big handsome lug has to step it up some in this one.

Recapturetheglory is an inconsistent sort who comes in off an allowance win in Indiana. He shows some good key races in the last year and appears to be the class here.

Alabama Tide
Don't let your horse racing excitement start and end at Arlington.

It's out to Saratoga for the 130th running of The Alabama, a $500,000 Grade I for three-year-old fillies at 10 furlongs.

This is a showdown between the favored Devil May Care, coming in off a stylish four-length win in the Coaching Club American Oaks, and Blind Luck, the Kentucky Oaks winner.

After a respectable trip in what I considered a questionable decision to run her in the Kentucky Derby, Todd Pletcher's Devil May Care has hit her stride, also winning the Grade I Mother Goose in June.

Jerry Hollendorfer sends Blind Luck, basically a California shipper who won the Delaware Oaks July 10. Although the Pollard's Vision filly has won on synthetics, I think she prefers dirt, the surface of choice at tradition-rich Saratoga. Her pronounced closing style will be a cool contrast to Devil May Care's just-off-the-lead approach.

Don't look for an upset here, but how can you not like the Brooklyn Boyz Stables' Connie and Michael? Great name for a very good horse who's in tough here.

Down the Jersey Coast at Monmouth Park, we have the Grade III Phillip H. Iselin, nine furlongs for a $300,000 purse.

It's notable for a comeback appearance by I Want Revenge, the Richard Dutrow trainee who, as the probable favorite, was scratched the morning of the 2009 Kentucky Derby. He suffered a leg injury and required surgery and has only run once since that Derby morning, a third-place finish in the Suburban Handicap at Belmont July 3.

If he's right, he's awesome. But he'll be sorely tested by Redding Colliery, who comes in fresh from a seven-length win in the Lone Star Park Handicap May 31. Look for Sir Whimsey to challenge as well.

Praise the Lord!
Santa Anita Park owner Frank Stronach announced that he'll be taking out the blasted Pro-Ride synthetic surface at the California oval.

The venerable venue lost several days of racing with the surface as the materials themselves clogged the delicate, high-tech drainage system, leaving the place flooded even after just a typical SoCal rainstorm.

Stronach says it will be ready by December, when the SA winter meet starts, but the Oak Tree Meet at Santa Anita will probably be switched to Hollywood Park this autumn.

Let's hope this starts a trend and that trend reaches the Prairie State. Arlington's Poly Track is a deal-breaker for me.

Slot Plot
I don't know why they haven't done this sooner, but Arlington Park and its Churchill Down Inc. parent are going to the media stating its case to install slots to buoy the flagging racing industry in Illinois.

Racing officials are quite optimistic slots will be passed in the November veto session in Springfield.

It's hard to know just how many people really care about racing, besides its fans, but then who cares about the numbskulls in Springfield? Make an end run.

But it could boil down to the casino lobbyists who will probably try to protect the casino in Des Plaines versus the Arlington Heights location. The Horsemen have never been top-drawer when it comes to convincing legislators of anything.

And, horsey people, play fair and let Hawthorne have its slots too.

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Thomas Chambers is our man on the rail. He brings you TrackNotes (nearly) every Friday. He welcomes your comments.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 1:09 AM | Permalink

The Week in WTF

1. One Effing Juror, WTF?

A) Blago's sole conviction - the lying to the FBI rap - seems inconsequential. Don't be so sure. It's what got Martha Stewart prison time. It will get Blago time, too. Plus, there are virtually no acceptable grounds to overturn it. Federal verdicts aren't overturned or successfully appealed on the "I-didn't-like-how-the-first-case-finished" grounds. There is likely to be no new evidence in that charge. It's res ipsa loquitur. WTF, go look it up yourself. What am I, Wikipedia?

B) The creeping, insidious corruption of Illinois politics has a real face and a tangible effect on our public life. Jo Ann Chiakulas, the juror who rejected American jurisprudence and decided on her own that plotting a crime is not itself a crime, is the face of that reality.

Chiakulas is hardly Henry Fonda in 12 Angry Men.

But as goofy as the one holdout was, she was only mouthing what you hear every day in the Chicago media and have ever since Al Capone was translated historically into a quaint, charming rogue.

Chiakulas succumbed to what "everyone" here says about our politics. It's The Chicago Way. It's us. It's our unique way of doing public business. WTF, it's not a crime.

And thus hiring a hit man is not a real crime in Chicago parlance if the police step in before the hit takes place. Where does this rejection of conspiracy-as-crime arise? Well, it's sort of Chicago's fault. Chicago tacitly supports the idea. And explicitly pays for it.

You hear it from TV and print observers. Hundreds of books have assessed the issue. You hear it expressed everywhere as a quaint and amusing localism.

It has forged a system that gives us a president not nearly as fine and noble as we had hoped. It's given us a series of mayors and governors who couldn't spell integrity much less practice it.

Chicago's politics are a cesspool. How do you like the smell now?

2. Rosty, WTF?

Coincidentally during the same week as the Blago deliberations, the state's political class put beloved Dan Rostenkowski in the ground with all the pomp and solemnity of a fallen pope. WTF. Another crook gets to explain himself to a Higher Court.

Chicago media resiliently liked Rostenkowski and often painted him as a giant. That says as much about local media as it does about Rostenkowski. We - I mean the collective we - have a hard time separating venal self-serving thieves from legitimate heroes. Cleverness is not integrity.

3. Sam Zell, WTF?

At the risk of seeming obsessive with Sam Zell, WTF counters that life is sometimes too funny to ignore. Now that the bankruptcy referee in the Tribune financial death spiral (hasn't this thing lasted longer than a Paleozoic Era?) has inched closer to paying off debtors, Sam the Sham wants his money back, too.

Yes, you can sense this is somehow bizarre. But how? Here's the metaphor:

Let's say a bank robber accidentally ties his shoelaces together while he's waiting for the bank teller to fork over the loot. And then let's say he takes a run for the door and trips and falls on his head. Bam! Oooh, that's going to hurt in the morning. Later, he applies for the capture reward because, after all, who had more to do with his capture than him? And he wants his medical bills paid by the bank. That's Sam, WTF.

4. Chicago Bears, WTF?

Bears President Ted Phillips won't issue an ultimatum for coach Lovie Smith to reach the playoffs or else be gone. Phillips seems fearful of being called unmannerly and gauche.

But WTF, Tedster.

Does Lovie actually have a pay-for-performance standard? If the NFL is really a business, which it is, no business lets its CEO fail every year and still keep the job. Making the playoffs regularly would seem to be a modest standard.

There does not seem to be another NFL franchise that lollygags so indolently about the price of failure. Are the Bears becoming just another version of the Cubs who are beloved by their fans for being lovable losers?

Maybe Bears fans head out to Soldier Field every Sunday just for the "experience."

Winning? We don't need no stinkin' winning.

Here's a compromise. If Lovie can't get the Bears to the playoffs for first time since 2006, a local reporter should ask him why he gets to keep the job. Maybe Lovie has a better theory than the rest of us.

5. Mike North, WTF?

As hard as we try here to unravel cosmic mysteries, there is no plausible explanation for Mike North as a media personality. Smart? Well, no evidence. Personable? Ever been bothered by a lout in a tavern? Amusing? Not unless you think infected ingrown toenails are a riot.

Channel 2 could stand him and his dated and creaky Monsters and Money in the Morning mishmash for only so long and bid him an unceremonious adieu last week. Actually, he seems to have fled just before the arrival of the ratings sheriff.

But North? On to bigger and better with Fox Sports Radio. He's taken a series of grotesque local failures and turned them into a national gig.

It goes without saying that it you can't explain Mike North's survival skills, how Dan Jiggetts keeps returning is beyond all comprehension.

As critic Robert Feder notes, desperation seems to have replaced strategic planning as the operative mechanism at WBBM.

And though the North and Jiggetts "Total Dawn Fiasco" wasn't a key initiative for Channel 2, it is reflective of a deeper turmoil. WTF was shocked that, given their collective ages, they could all get up at that time of the morning.

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David Rutter is the former publisher/editor of the Lake County News-Sun, a Sun-Times Media property.

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Comments welcome.

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Previously in The Week in WTF:
* TWIWTF: Walter Jacobson, Mark Kirk, the Sun-Times
* TWIWTF: Conrad Murray, Jim Laski, Notre Dame Nation
* TWIWTF: Chris Zorich, Eddie and Jobo, Blago.
* TWIWTF: Burge, Zambrano, Tyree
* TWIWTF: Pundits, LeBron James, Lake County
* TWIWTF: Stroger, Transformers, Six Flags
* TWIWTF: Blago, Channel 2, Cubs
* TWIWTF: Blago, Tribune, Big Z
* TWIWTF: Tribune, CPD, Sun-Times

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Also by David Rutter:
* The Lords of Ireland.

* Speaking of Notre Dame . . .

* Scheduling Notre Dame.

* Spade Robs Farley's Grave.

* Gov. Fester.

* Black Talks, Zell Walks.

* Roeper's Games.

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Plus:
* An excerpt from Rutter's Olga's War

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:37 AM | Permalink

August 19, 2010

A Blago Pundit And Pols Review

More tales from the front, from both pols and pundits, culled from various sources and reports.

*

Best Blago Reaction Quote Ever: Edwin Eisendrath

"If we find him guilty, it's an embarrassment. If we don't, it's an embarrassment. We found a way to do both."

*

Lamest Attempt To Politically Exploit The Verdict: Alexi Giannoulias

"Today, the jury found Rod Blagojevich guilty for lying, and on November 2nd, the voters of Illinois will reject Mark Kirk for lying. The people of Illinois deserve leaders they can trust."

*

Lamest Reaction To The Lamest Attempt To Politically Exploit The Verdict: Illinois Republican Party Chairman Pat Brady

"I fully support U.S. Attorney Fitzgerald's decision to seek a retrial of Rod Blagojevich. Let's be clear, Rod Blagojevich isn't concerned about the use of taxpayer money; he is concerned about the use of Rod Blagojevich's money to mount another high-priced defense.

"Well, Rod should be worried. With Broadway Bank closed, I'm not really sure where he's going to find a bank willing to loan millions to a convicted felon."

*

Most Unexpected But Welcome Piece Of Editorial Page Rhetoric: The SouthtownStar

"[Blagojevich] is a scumbag, unfit to lead a dog pound let alone a state."

*

Worst Commentary By A Movie Reviewer: Richard Roeper

"There was no 'smoking gun.' No envelope stuffed with cash. No Swiss bank account bulging with an eye-popping number. None of that type of stuff you see in the movies or on TV."

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Worst Boy Scout Rhetoric By A Phony Egotist: Pat Quinn

"Another former governor was convicted of a felony by a jury of 12 men and women good and true."

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Best Argument For A Retrial (Tied): Tribune editorial page

The government's accusations of racketeering and conspiracy are too serious to go unresolved. We trust that another jury will tell the people of Illinois whether the state's only impeached and ousted governor is guilty or innocent of more than one felony."

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Best Argument For A Retrial (Tied): The Springfield State Journal-Register

"If it costs each of Illinois' 12.9 million residents a couple of bucks to get conclusive verdicts on the most serious charges against their former governor, a retrial will be the best use of taxpayer dollars this state has seen in some time . . .

"We believe the remaining charges against Blagojevich describe corruption and disregard for the duties of office so serious and so blatant that they must be addressed conclusively by a jury."

*

More Worst Boy Scout Rhetoric By A Phony Egotist: Pat Quinn

"I think the people of Illinois know they have the first honest governor in a long time . . . I think the people of Illinois are good and true . . . They know they have a governor who fights for honesty every day of my life."

*

Worst Commentary By An Editorial Board Obviously Not Paying Attention To The Evidence, The Law Or The Deliberations: The Sun-Times

"Fitzgerald's problem was that Blagojevich may have broken laws, but he never reaped much from all that dark-of-night sowing - no sweet job, no big campaign contributions. About all he managed to cultivate was a no-show job for his wife, Patti . . . it's hard to fault a juror who was looking for a little more ill-gotten gain by the ex-gov. A cash payoff, perhaps, or a George Ryan-style free Jamaican vacation."

*

Best Column By Far: Phil Kadner

"[The Adams'] have used the news media masterfully, hoping jurors would read about the case or watch the TV news, despite the judge's order not to do so.

"I don't believe there ever was a real disagreement between father and son over whether to put the former governor on the witness stand. And I believe they advised their client to bring his two daughters into the courtroom in hopes that a juror would sympathize with the man.

"Without a shred of evidence to prove that their client was innocent, they used everything else they could to try to win their case and deadlock the jury.

"But make no mistake about this: Blagojevich is not a victim here. He does not deserve public sympathy.

"Just about everyone who came in contact with the man - deputy governors, chiefs of staff, fundraisers, his best friend - have been convicted or pleaded guilty to criminal charges of corruption. One of these men committed suicide."

*

Most Ignorant Column By Those Whose Hindsight Isn't Much Better Than Their Foresight: Mary Mitchell

To tell you the truth, the feds lost me when they wanted to take Rod Blagojevich's house.

That's pretty low.

I don't have a problem with the feds seizing the homes of drug dealers and mobsters, but the federal case against the impeached governor never rose to the level of that kind of racketeering.

Unless Blagojevich managed to sneak his ill-gotten gains out of the country, there were no ill-gotten gains to speak of.

So why take the man's house?

That just seemed like overkill.

*

Lamest Attempt By Blago's Favorite Patsy To Take Credit For An Obvious Prediction: Michael Sneed

"Wow! As Sneed reported Aug. 13 . . .'It's a safe bet: The feds will retry Blago on every charge where the jury winds up being permanently deadlocked.'"

*

Biggest Oops By A Good Government Advocate Confusing A Hung Jury With An Acquittal: Andy Shaw

"He and his cabal of thugs hijacked our government. It was disgraceful and reprehensible. But, at least to these 12 jurors, not illegal."

*

Representative Ridiculous Conspiracy Tweet/Joke: The Nation

"@thenation Ironic Patrick Fitzgerald did a better job covering up for Karl Rove, than he did convicting Blago..!"

*

Worst Commentary By A Columnist Who Must Have Just Awoken From A Five-Year Slumber And Maybe Ought To Stick To Poems And The Weather: Mary Schmich

"Money wasn't shown to change hands. Explicit deals weren't caught on wiretap. The former allies who testified for the prosecution could be suspected of selfish motives. Key players never took the stand.

"It's hardly a surprise then that at least one juror - and I'd bet more - added up those insufficiencies and couldn't find him guilty.

"I wouldn't have voted to convict . . .

"The state legislature impeached Blagojevich on the fuel of Fitzgerald's fury. Consensus was born in the time that it takes to say 'mob.'

"It became fashionable to speak about Blagojevich as if he were evil on a par with a genocidal dictator."

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Worst Crowing By A Dubious Source That Continues To Mangle The Facts And Act The Fool: NBCChicago.com's Ward Room

As Rich Miller of The Capitol Fax Blog wrote, there's so much wrong with this it's hard to know where to start. I'll leave this one up to you, dear readers.

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See also:
* The [Wednesday] Papers: Blago pundits dream up every possible theory except the obvious one: It was a terrible jury and they simply got it wrong.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:34 AM | Permalink

The [Thursday] Papers

"Feeling the eyes of the nation upon them, jurors in the corruption trial of Rod Blagojevich grew tense as realization sank in earlier this week that they might convict the former governor on only one of 24 counts he faced," the Tribune reports.

"Of particular concern, several jurors said Wednesday, was the lone holdout on numerous counts that would have convicted Blagojevich of trying to sell the U.S. Senate seat vacated by President Barack Obama.

"John Grover, 52, a juror from Joliet, said he grew so frustrated after three days of deliberating on the same charge that he yelled at the woman who refused to join the other 11 in agreeing to convict.

"'I gave her a piece of my mind,' Grover said. 'If it wasn't for that one lady, we'd have had him convicted on probably 80 percent of (the indictment).'"

And then we wouldn't have all these brilliant minds telling us everything that was wrong with the government's case.

*

"Juror Stephen Wlodek said that for the next go-around, the prosecution also might consider calling Jackson and Emanuel to testify what happened from their standpoints," the Sun-Times reports.

"Intermediaries for Jackson allegedly offered Blagojevich $1.5 million if he appointed Jackson senator, while a $2 million school grant Emanuel sought was allegedly delayed by Blagojevich in a bid to pressure Emanuel's Hollywood agent brother to hold a fund-raiser."

But those are the two counts that the jury was incredibly close to convicting on - the Senate seat charge was blocked only by the holdout juror and the jury actually agreed at one point on the school charge.

Seems to me all of this validates the government's approach. They just got a bad jury.

*

"If they do retry him, he might be in trouble, " Grover told the Sun-Times. "He was lucky."

*

Some jurors complained that prosecutors didn't provide a timeline of events. But why would they need a timeline? The charges were discrete events, linked only by the alleged method of operation. "Streamlining" the charges, which I assume means dropping some of them, also makes no sense, as one juror notes.

"Take a charge out here and there, to me, would have been counterproductive in that you lose the - what's the word I'm looking for? - the totality of everything together," juror Ralph Schindler told the Sun-Times.

*

Grover also said of the holdout juror:

"[Her thinking] didn't make much sense to me. And there really wasn't much reasoning either. We would read a paragraph and would understand it one way. And she wouldn't. It got to the point where we were beating a dead horse. At least three full days on the Senate seat. Once we got to an 11-1 vote we spent three days trying to address her concerns."

Juror Erik Sarnello told the Daily Herald that "She wanted concrete evidence. If it were a murder trial, she would have wanted to see the video of the shooting."

Apparently hearing an audiotape of the murderer saying "I'm shooting you now" wouldn't have been enough.

*

The holdout juror is Jo Ann Chiakulas. Get ready to hear a lot about her - like the fact that she listens to NPR and is active in the Urban League.

From a 1991 edition of Illinois Issues:

"Department of Public Health Director John Lumpkin named Jo Ann Chiakulas of Chicago as the first special assistant for minority affairs, effective September 16. Chiakulas is charged with setting up and supervising the department's new Chicago-based Center for Minority Health Services. Created by H.B. 1216 (PA. 87-633), the center will evaluate the health needs of minorities in Illinois, provide training and technical assistance and improve coordination and communication with minority groups. According to the department, minorities are at greater risk for AIDs, infant mortality, lead poisoning, heart disease, stroke, homicide and high-risk behaviors such as smoking and alcohol use.

"Chiakulas was director of the Chicago Urban League's Young Parents Center for over 10 years and was coordinator for the state's Parents Too Soon program. She has also worked with the Chicago Department of Mental Health and the Belden Manor Shelter Care Home in Chicago."

*

Depending on what else is dug up, Judge James Zagel might regret not releasing the names of jurors to the media at the outset.

*

This is also disturbing.

"Schindler, who is 58 years old and retired from the Navy, said the audio recordings of Blagojevich 'were pretty solid evidence to me.' But he said the prosecution's case was weakened because Blagojevich never actually appointed anybody to the open Senate seat that he allegedly was trying to sell.

"'There was no conclusion to any of the alleged activities,' Schindler said. 'You just couldn't say, There, it happened. It never happened.'"

As the prosecution said in its closing, the talk is the conspiracy according to the law, regardless of whether it is consummated. It just takes one step of "furtherance."

I wonder if jurors had this textbook definition at their disposal (many pundits obviously don't):

Generally speaking, a conspiracy is an agreement by two or more persons to commit a criminal act or series of criminal acts, or to accomplish a legal act by unlawful means.

At common law, a conspiracy need not be based on an express agreement. Furthermore, an agreement can exist although not all of the parties to it have knowledge of every detail of the arrangement, as long as each party is aware of its essential nature. [Blumenthal v. United States, 332 U.S. 539, 557-58 (1947)] Moreover, a "conspiracy may exist even if a conspirator does not agree to commit or facilitate each and every part of the substantive offense." [Salinas v. United States, 522 U.S. 52, 63 (1997)] It is enough that each person agrees, at a minimum, to commit or facilitate some of the acts leading to the substantive crime.

Four types of agreement fall within the definition of conspiracy. A person is guilty of conspiracy if he agrees to:

1.) commit an offense;
2.) attempt to commit an offense;
3.) solicit another to commit an offense; or
4.) aid another person in the planning or commission of the offense.

Common and Statutory Law - A common law conspiracy is complete upon formation of the unlawful agreement. No act in furtherance of the conspiracy need be proved. [United States v. Shabani, 513 U.S. 10, 13 (1994)]

Today, many statutes require proof of the commission of an overt act in furtherance of the conspiracy. In jurisdictions requiring an overt act, the act need not constitute an attempt to commit the target offense. Instead, any act (and perhaps an omission), no matter how trivial, is sufficient, if performed in pursuance of the conspiracy. A single overt act by any party to a conspiracy is sufficient basis to prosecute every member of the conspiracy, including those who may have joined in the agreement after the act was committed.

Just to be clear, because this is referring to common and statutory law and you may think I'm stacking the deck because this was a federal trial, well it's the same thing:

It is important to note that an actual crime is not necessary to prosecute a conspiracy case - only the stated intent to break the law. This means that even if the ultimate crime was not committed, the conspirators can be prosecuted under federal law.

*

Remember, Zagel instructed the jury - as is usual - that you may not like the law as it is written, but you must apply it that way.

*

A question jurors should also be asked - and I'm not speculating either way.

*

See also: A Blago Pundit And Pols Review in Beachwood Politics.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Further the conspiracy.


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:14 AM | Permalink

August 18, 2010

The [Wednesday] Papers

Sometimes juries get it wrong.

Think about the dozen people sitting closest to you at work. Or at the bar. Or picked at random out of the phone book - which is pretty much how juries get picked.

It's amazing they ever get it right.

So the Blago pundits can blather - have we ever seen a more embarrassing display of know-nothingness disguised as expertise? - about all the reasons this jury returned the verdict (or non-verdict, mostly) that it did, but I find it hard to suddenly blame the government for the case it put on.

Sometimes juries get it wrong.

Why must it be off-limits to say so?

As I understand it, the conviction rate for the feds is even higher in retrials than the 90 percent it gets the first time around. There is a reason for that.

It's not that the feds are perfect or faultless; it's that the feds only bring certain kinds of cases with certain kinds of evidence educed by certain kinds of investigators at the direction of certain kinds of prosecutors. They mostly bring cases - at least in the realm of political corruption - in which they are certain.

This jury was uncertain from the start.

"I knew we were in trouble from the first day of deliberations," foreperson James Matsumoto told the Chicago News Cooperative.

A lone holdout juror frustrated the rest of the panel on about a quarter of the counts, Matsumoto said.

That's pretty significant considering that the 24 counts against Rod Blagojevich and four against Rob Blagojevich were based on just a half dozen acts.

And if the jury convicted on one - let's say the weakest of them - you'd think that, rationally, they'd convict across the board. After all, the prosecution demonstrated a pattern of behavior, a method of operation.

And on the weakest charge, the selling of a United States Senate seat, the jury was 11-1 for conviction.

This is why the law allows for retrials; it should never come down to one person who just doesn't - or won't - get it.

"[Juror Erik] Sarnello addressed the question of why the jury Tuesday asked for a copy of the oath they took at the start of deliberations," the news cooperative reports. "Some jurors felt one of the jurors was not deliberating in good faith. 'Some people felt that they were deliberating not under what the law told us to do,' he said.

"'What they were looking at wasn't what we were supposed to be looking at based on what the judge gave us as a set of rules,' Sarnello said."

Perhaps that juror liked what they saw of Rod and Patti on TV.

Matsumoto unfortunately gave some pundits some ammunition when he told WTTW-TV last night that the case was too complicated. Huh? It was pretty straightforward and certainly no more complicated than other political corruption cases we've seen at the federal courthouse: Here are six instances in which the governor demanded campaign contributions in exchange for state action. And here are the tapes.

Most cases don't have tapes.

Matsumoto also said that maybe the government should have let Blagojevich go ahead with the sale of the Senate seat. But the law clearly does not require an act to be completed; as the government said, talk alone is conspiracy if it's furthered by a single act.

That didn't stop Roger Ebert from making a fool of himself on his Twitter feed.

"All thanks to Chicago Tribune for blowing the cover on the federal undercover investigation before Blago was able to collect," he tweeted.

First, that Tribune report came on Dec. 5, 2008 - after every other alleged act had been consummated.

Second, again, there was a lone holdout unlikely to be moved if the check to Blago had "U.S. Senate seat" written in the memo.

Third, the prosecution never indicated it arrested Blagojevich when it did because of the Tribune's revelation; in fact, the story probably arose from federal sources.

Fourth, again, the act didn't have to be completed to be criminal.

Finally, as if the Sun-Times wouldn't have published that story with war headlines on its cover.

It's just cheap and petty, but for as much praise as Ebert has gotten over his blog and non-movie writing, well, he needs a fact-checker and an editor because this isn't the first time - and I'm still a big fan of his movie writing - that he's gotten it terribly wrong. Stick to the cinema, Roger.

But that was par for the course for the pundit post-mortems.

That old nostrum about Blago not putting a penny into the pants of his half-million dollars' worth of suits arose from the dead, even though the allegations centered on campaign contributions.

And all of the sudden Patti earned every penny that Tony Rezko paid her even though nobody ever saw her in the office.

Just as suddenly, reporters wondered why Rezko wasn't called to the stand; "For reasons we don't understand," one TV reporter said, even though the judge himself stated in open court that Rezko was "toxic" to both sides because of his unreliability and unpredictable nature.

Another TV genius talked about what a great witness meth-raver Stuart Levine would have made.

And that Lincoln quote from Patrick Fitzgerald that the media can't seem to get over? Fitzgerald always makes a comment like that when announcing an indictment.

When Rezko was indicted, Fitzgerald said it was "Pay-to-Play On Steroids"; when George Ryan was indicted, Fitzgerald said "The state of Illinois was for sale."

Lincoln rolling over in his grave is hardly inappropriately inflammatory.

Bear in mind that that almost the entire inner circle of Rod Blagojevich pled guilty and testified against him. They were all guilty but he isn't?

Sometimes juries get it wrong.

For example, one member of the inner circle who escaped prosecution was deputy governor Bradley Tusk. The jury had at one point agreed to convict Blagojevich on an alleged scheme to shake down a school in Rahm Emanuel's congressional district, but upon re-reading Tusk's testimony, one juror again changed their mind.

Funny because Tusk testified that he thought Blagojevich's scheme was illegal.

And yet, Scott Turow was moved to write in the New York Times that "the unwillingness of one or more jurors to convict Mr. Blagojevich of anything but bare-faced lying makes some sense. I suspect the jury's indecision might have been a reaction at some level to the hypocritical mess our campaign financing system has become, especially in light of recent Supreme Court jurisprudence about political donations."

Really? Was that it?

I guess if the New York Times offers you some space you've got to come up with something that sounds smarter than "What a terrible jury."

But then, they were picked from a pool of us.

Somehow, the guy who tweeted this has a show on MSNBC:

"They got Blago on 'Lying to federal agents'? Lying is a crime now? What else gets you jail time? 'Tardiness'? 'Bad table manners'?"

Um, yeah, lying to federal agents is a crime now. It's considered tantamount to perjury and the law against it is designed to both bolster the integrity of the criminal justice system and act as one helluva deterrent against bullshit artists. Yuk yuk.

But it's not just unctuous cable TV talkers getting it wrong.

Consider pundits - not journalists - like Harvard man (magna cum laude) and Atlantic Monthly writer Matt Yglesias, a popular liberal blogger.

From his Twitter stream:

"Real talk: Blago was a pretty good governor, all things considered. about 15 hours ago via Twitter for iPhone."

Maybe at this point someone clued Yglesias in to the testimony about Blago only working a few hours a week and hiding in the bathroom when he didn't want to make a decision - not to mention being impeached and removed from office by his own party.

"Reassessing my positive view of Blago based on newfound knowledge of the facts. about 12 hours ago via Twitter for iPhone."

These people get paid a lot of money to opine about things such as, oh, merit pay for teachers and how dumb kids are today. They are overly ambitious, overly vain, and hold themselves in much higher regard than deserved, perhaps because society has rewarded them for being dolts.

It occurs to me: They think they can talk their way around anything and that they'll never be held accountable. Sound familiar?

Sometimes juries get it wrong, but not as frequently as the media does. In the court of public opinion, our former governor was certainly tried by his peers.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Peer review.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:17 AM | Permalink

Fantasy Fix: The Rookie RB & Top WRs

A rookie RB in the top 10?

Ryan Mathews, rookie running back for the San Diego Chargers and successor to LaDainian Tomlinson, has been getting some high praise during training camp, high enough that he's currently the No. 8-ranked player in all of Yahoo! Fantasy Football 2010 - not the No. 8 RB, the No. 8 overall.

If you want to judge everything by his pre-season performance against the Bears last weekend, the ranking may look accurate. He had 50 yards on just nine carries and looked good catching two short passes and running through defenders. In short, he looked like a combination of L.T. and Darren Sproles, the mighty mite RB who was favored on short passes the last couple seasons while L.T. did more of the running.

We love Sproles at Fantasy Fix because he is a great triple threat for leagues where kick and punt returns count in the scoring and you have to fill flex positions with pass-catching second-tier RBs. Sproles alone probably can't replace L.T., which is perhaps part of the reason why so many people are high on Mathews. Still, Sproles will take catches away from Mathews, as well as change-of-pace runs.

Meanwhile, San Diego also has Mike Tolbert, a fullback type of RB who scored four touchdowns last season, and up-and-comer Jacob Hester. Tolbert and Hester could both see a lot of goal-line action.

I'm not saying Mathews won't be a star, and I'll still put him down for 1,100 yards and eight touchdowns, but to me, those are late second-round, early third-round numbers.

*

Now, in keeping with our pre-season tour, my top 10 wide receivers:

1. Andre Johnson, Houston: No-brainer here. The easiest top-pick at any position.

2. Randy Moss, New England: Could be in for a big year with Wes Welker still tender.

3. Calvin Johnson, Detroit: I like his young QB and I like him as the lead target in a productive offense.

4. Reggie Wayne, Indianapolis: He was looking worn after 2008, but bounced back with a better 2009.

5. Brandon Marshall, Miami: No reason to doubt he'll reach 100 catches yet again, plus see some trick-play action in a creative offense.

6. Roddy White, Atlanta: Another tremendously consistent WR with a great QB in Matt Ryan.

7. Larry Fitzgerald, Arizona: Could easily be ranked higher with Anquan Boldin gone, but a pre-season injury concerns.

8. DeSean Jackson, Philadelphia: A gamble here, but he'll benefit if QB Kevin Kolb matches the hype. Returns kicks, too.

9. Miles Austin, Dallas: Great season last year, and every reason for him to have another. Could play more like No. 6 or No. 7, but I don't trust Tony Romo enough.

10. Greg Jennings, Green Bay: Disappointing 2009 season - at least for his high pre-season rank last year - but he's the best WR target that the stellar Aaron Rodgers has.

Expert Wire
* Bleacher Report examines the fantasy impact of Brett Favre's return, which now seems all but a done deal.

* Roto Arcade thinks that Michael Bush is worth a gamble over Darren McFadden.

* ESPN's 32 Questions sees LaDainian Tomlinson as a fantasy find despite his waning production and the existence of the exuberant Shonn Greene in the same backfield.

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Baseball's Back Burner
The season, like the summer, has entered its dog days. Not many bargains left on the waiver wire, and many leagues are past their trade deadlines. But, look, here's a few things worth talking about:

Fantasy Find of the Week: Mike Stanton, OF, Florida.

A .556 average, four homers and eight RBIs over the last week prove this rookie isn't ready to live in the shadow of Stephen Strasburg, Buster Posey, Starlin Castro or Jason Heyward.

Fantasy Stud of the Week: Alex Rodriguez, 3B, NY Yankees.

With the anti-climatic hunt for 600 homers over, A-Rod actually hit three in one game last week on the way to four homers and nine RBIs.

Fantasy Dud of the Week: Mark Teixeira, 1B, NY Yankees.

Looked like he was back in his early season slump last week, hitting .158 with no homers and just one RBI.

Fantasy Match-Up of the Week: Jeremy Hellickson, SP/RP.

The rookie Ray has won three straight in impressive fashion, and may have an automatic coming up against soft-hitting Oakland before tackling the LA Angels.

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Dan O'Shea's Fantasy Fix appears in this space every Wednesday. He welcomes your comments. You can also read his about his split sports fan personality at SwingsBothWays, which isn't about what it sounds like It's about.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 3:51 AM | Permalink

August 17, 2010

The [Tuesday] Papers

BREAKING! The Blagojevich jury just asked for a pitcher of water. Good for the government? Stay tuned for updates all day and a special panel on Chicago Tonight this evening.

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1. "CPS To Hold Public Budget Hearings This Week."

Will ignore public the following 51 weeks.

2. "CTA: About One Bus Collision A Day in 2009."

Worst offender identified.

3. "Braidwood Nuclear Plant Shuts Down, Vents Steam."

Nothing to see here.

4. "Turn Blue Island Refinery Into Fish Farm?"

Are these too obvious?

5. "Commanders Told To Make Lists of Worst Cops."

Today's Beachwood is safe for children.

6. Okay, let's kick it up a notch.

7. "Meat-Man Parfait Grabs Illinois State Fair's heart."

8. "Rostenkowski To Be Buried."

Along with the truth.

9. "Study Suggests Beer Could Give Women Psoriasis."

I'm not even going to go there.

10. "City to Cops: You're Not Writing Enough Tickets."

Cops to City: You're Not Hiring Enough Cops.

11. You know what's awesome about the Sox being three games back?

Everything.

12. Why is D-Lee still getting at-bats?

Because Jim Hendry is Hassling The Hoff.

13. "The Chicago native was seemingly born to be a star on the ice. She was skating by age 3, trained with top-flight coaches and claimed second place in the novice division at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships at age 11. At 14, she took fourth in the World Junior Championships."

And now, seemingly born for Celebrity Rehab.

14. "CPD Displaying Historical Department Artifacts."

Current artifacts, such as an accurate number of officers on the streets, remain unavailable.

15. "Jennifer Underwood, a SUBWAY Sandwich Artist from Spokane Valley, WA, captured first place in the 2010 Sub Jammers' Competition at the annual SUBWAY convention in Chicago, Ill., recently."

Who knew.

16. "Are you looking for help getting permits in and around Chicago? We help get residential and commercial building permits, special event and film permits, business and liquor licenses. We have the most reasonable rates in all of Chicago."

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Expedited.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:07 AM | Permalink

Bring Back The Hoff

Dear Jim Hendry,

So, you have this first baseman.

Yes, I agree that he used to be good. Heck, he won a batting title and knocked in a bunch of runs a bunch of times, but aren't his best years behind him?

And doesn't his contract, like, expire at the end of the season?

And didn't you try to trade him and he decided that he didn't want to help you get ready for next season and he vetoed the trade?

Plus he's hurt now.

So why is he still getting at-bats?

Because maybe you have another guy who could be a decent player.

No, I'm not talking about Xavier Nady. I'm talking about the Hoff.

Sure, the Hoff is 30 now - a bit old to be considered a prospect - and maybe he's a classic Four-A guy; too good for Triple-A but not good enough for the majors. But who knows. He's hot and he's still with the organization and he's never really had a good shot with the big club. Maybe he'll catch someone else's eye as a throw-in. Maybe Cub management's famous skills for talent evaluation are just a bit off on this one.

So do the kid a favor - and us - a favor: Stop Hassling The Hoff.

You have nothing to lose - apparently not even your job anymore.

Sincerely,

The Cub Factor

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Week in Review: Because Major League Baseball forces them to keep playing, the Cubs lost three of four to the Giants and won two of three from the Cards. Maybe that made you feel good, but they started this week with a heartbreaking loss to the Padres on Monday night. You are allowed to stop watching now.

Week in Preview: The Cubs stay home for three more against San Diego and then Atlanta comes to town for three. Once again Cub management will fail to take notes on how the best teams in the league do it. But D-Lee will get his starts.

The Second Basemen Report: The Cub Factor would like to throw its arms around Darwin Barney, the newest Cubs second baseman. He doesn't look like much but he has the cutest name on the team, and a this point isn't that what it's all about? Which is just like Jim Hendry drew it up.

In former second basemen news, Mark DeRosa hasn't played for the Giants since May because of a bad wrist. But don't let that fool you, he is still missed.

The Zam Bomb: Big Z is saying all the right things - for now. So he is apologetic - for now. Okay, we really can't stress the "for now" enough.

zam_apologetic.jpg

Lost in Translation: No-e no silverio liningee is Japanese for There is nothing good about this season.

Endorsement No-Brainer: James Russell for Supercuts. He got a haircut.

Sweet and Sour Lou: 48% sweet, 52% sour. Lou stands pat again this week due to attending his, um, didn't he attend something this week? And just like your real crazy drunk uncle, according to his time card Uncle Lou punched in this week but no one saw him on the forklift moving any freight. I guess he'll still get paid.

Ameritrade Stock Pick of the Week: Shares of the company that the Cubs buy letters from for jerseys have continued to climb all season as demand remains brisk.

Over/Under: The amount of innings a good Cub fan should watch the rest of the season: +/- 8.5

Beachwood Sabermetrics: A complex algorithm performed by the The Cub Factor staff using all historical data made available by Major League Baseball has determined that it's too bad that either LaRussa or Baker is going to win.

Agony & Ivy: It's a way of life.

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

The White Sox Report: Now with a weekly Cubs Snub.

The Mount Lou Alert System: Still green and nothing is going to change this except the discovery of a clause in his contract that forces him to return for another year.

mtlou_green.gif

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Contact The Cub Factor!


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:06 AM | Permalink

Their Former Selves

You know what's awesome about the Sox being three games back?

Everything from now on, all the time, every day.

They lost today? That's huge.

They won today? That's also huge!

Split the series? THE SUSPENSE IS KILLING US!

And this is only possible because the once mighty have suddenly been reduced to . . . not quite a shell of their former selves, but really just their former selves.

Shaky pitching in general, a questionable bullpen in particular, poor defense and a lineup just good enough to lose, and right now those are all collectively the single greatest thing that could happen.

Yes, first place is nice but do you know what else first place is? Complacent at best. Tenuous more often than not. Frightened at worst. The entire American League Central painting a target on your back, every manager shuffling his rotation to spite you, every injured player hurrying back just for a chance to bring you down, every loser turning one of your few losses into one of their lone bright spots.

That doesn't happen when you're in second place. In second place, you become just another heelbiter. A nuisance with three frenemy ballclubs by your side. A team with nothing to lose aside from the everything you don't have and the White Sox, having awoken to the hard reality of not feasting on the entrails of the Pirates and Orioles Mariners every day, have earned this luxury.

Or, you know, maybe they're just once again revealing themselves to be the same awful team they had briefly tricked us into thinking they weren't. Are they better than the Twins? Are they not? Once again, the suspense is killing us.

Week in Review: Subpar. Lose a winnable game against the O's, lose two unwinnable games against the Twins, then just say 'to hell with it' once Detroit comes to town, and thus another week of .281 baseball comes to a gentle close.

Week in Preview: Tremendous. Three at Minnesota offer a chance for sweet, sweet revenge while three at Kansas City offer a shot at nothing in particular.

Hawkeroo's Can-O-Corn Watch: "Now, it used to be that if teams looked up and saw they were three, four, twenty games back, that they thought 'Okay, well, looks like we're not in first place anymore,' but because the game has changed so much, what with the DH, the Wild Card, with so many guys who are better athletes now than when they first came up, so many great managers, all these great young players, guys like Joe Mauer, Alex Gordon, Manny Ramirez who would be a great addition to any ballclub, the Jakemeister, our own Carlos Quentin and Paul Konerko, where now teams know that just being atop the standings or winning the most games in your division isn't really the same as being in first place, because now you have so many teams competing that it's tough to say it's over until some team goes out there and clinches the division, and that's why, for my money, a team made of Joe Mauer, Billy Butler, Zack Greinke, that's a team made of players of that mold made to win all the way up to game 162, whereas players used to not have to do that. And that's why this series with Kansas City, that's why this could be the season right here, because of these young Royals players playing now."

Gordon Beckham Hall of Fame Update: Gordon Beckham batting line, past 28 days: .301/.381/.534. Manny Ramirez batting line, past 28 days: immeasurably low. Advantage: Beckham.

Alumni News You Can Use: Former White Sox lumberjack Jim Thome currently boasts the fifth-best OPS in the American League, as though he were some sort of superhuman given the singular ability to move a baseball through air with a bat - a "designated hitter," if you will.

The "H" in "DH" Stands For: Heard it through the grapevine the Sox are still after Manny Ramirez. Old? Check. Past his prime? Check. Injured? Check. Not left-handed? Check. Defensive liability? Check. Sounds perfect.

The Q Factor: "I'm not interested in adding to rumors about what happened to them," he says, "and I know how you illiterate savages will twist my words. But let it be known that better men than you have tried to stop me while shaming my brothers in arms. Some of them may play in Minnesota. Some may play in Detroit. All have tried harder and threatened far greater things than you could ever imagine. Go find those men now. See what became of them, and then ask me that question again."

The Guillen Meter: His team hoping to gain maybe one game this week in Minnesota, the Guillen Meter reads 14 for "Shut the **** up you low expectation-having ************."

Endorsement No-Brainer: The second-place White Sox for low-rent, decade-old websites: Minnesota Sucks.

Cubs Snub: The Tribune reports some of the rooftop bars across the street from Wrigley Field are losing money this season. The White Sox Report sheds no tears for them. Not a one.

The White Sox Report: Read 'em all.

The Cub Factor: It's funny because it's true.

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The White Sox Report welcomes your comments.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:53 AM | Permalink

August 16, 2010

The [Monday] Papers

The Beachwood will return in full on Tuesday after I become reacclimated from my trip to Bizarro Chicago. Example: None of the grim-faced Chicagoans give ground on the jam-packed El to O'Hare. On the jam-packed light rail from the Minneapolis airport to Target Field: "Oh, come on in, we'll make room!"

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We do have two new pieces for today.

- Things The Blago Jury Does Agree On. According to sources.

- Things That Make Me Happy. Another list by Drew Adamek.

See you Tuesday.

The Weekend Desk Report
By Natasha Julius

You stay inside and drink some nice lemonade. We'll head out and man the beats for you.

Market Update
This week saw an unexpected bull run on the Hypocrisy market as earnings reports showed the primary throwers of stones actually live in glass houses.

At the Movies
Sony Pictures is hoping to reverse lackluster box office earnings with this week's release of the Julia Roberts dramedy Eat Pray Love. Analysts predict the gamble will not pay off in Illinois, where viewers will be treated to at least another week of the classic Cheat Prey Mug.

President Beefcake
Professor Stephen Leatherman of Florida International University has issued an interesting demand to the Commander in Chief. "Absolutely, I want him to take his shirt off and get in the water and show it's clean and safe," the professor said of the president's trip to Panama City. Considering what happened last time, he's probably not alone.

Triumvirate Report
The mainstreaming of what was once the most notorious third of the Triumvirate of Terror continued this week as Russia announced it would begin loading fuel into Paris Hilton's reactor. Let's just make sure it's the right hair, shall we, or there will be no end of fuss.

The Way to Really Dry
Finally this week, Metra has announced a significant drop in ridership adversely affecting the company's bottom line. Officials blame the falloff on the local economy, noting many suburban Chicagoans haven't got a pot to piss in. Which makes the agency's plan to provide some all the more logical.

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The Weekend Desk Tip Line: At your command.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:28 AM | Permalink

Things The Blago Jury Does Agree On

* Patti is guilty on all counts.

* These pretzels are making us thirsty.

* Transcripts schmanscripts! Let's say we want 100 gold bars.

* Having the race car is better than having the iron or the little scotty dog when playing Monopoly.

* We've got this verdict and it's frickin' golden. We're not gonna just give it away for nothing.

* America actually does run on Dunkin'.

* The wrong Blagojevich brother was elected governor.

* Could you repeat the jury instructions?

* It doesn't seem right that the judge made us all buy his book.

* It doesn't seem right that the judge made us all read his book.

* Juror No. 5 smells something fierce.

* This has been so much fun that we might as well have a retrial.

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Contributing: Drew Adamek, Scott Buckner, Steve Rhodes

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See also:
* Inside The Blago Jury Room

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:10 AM | Permalink

August 15, 2010

Things That Make Me Happy

I've been reading over my last couple of lists and it struck me that a reader could reasonably infer that I am a dark and unhappy person.

It seems I am writing more "barely survived" this and "contemplating suicide" that and "many are my struggles" than I actually feel.

One could get the impression that I spend a lot of time hanging on to a dark and gloomy emotional precipice, hanging on for my very sanity, saved in the nick of time only by Metallica songs, brooding navel-gazing and the love of a good woman.

While that might have once been true, the real story is that it's been decades since life has been all that tough. My self-loathing and self-destruction are long, long, long gone.

In fact, life now is pretty fucking good. I've got a fantastic wife, a rewarding career and a cadre of lifelong friends. I live in a great town, have a super apartment and very little daily stress. I like my life; I treasure the unique experiences I get to have and I wouldn't trade for any other life in the world.

I am, dare I say, happy.

Sure, I want more money and recognition but I really am living my best-case scenario. The comfort and ease of my life now makes all that long-ago negative shit seem like it simply belongs to someone else.

And yes, sometimes depression and anxiety creep up, but I am old enough and smart enough now to know how to use effective coping skills.

Writing about that distant, dysfunctional time is easy. It is a rich vein of material; the anguish and struggle from back then are dramatic and memorable. My current life of watching Family Guy every night at 6 and going to the farmer's market on Thursdays is much harder source material to use in building a compelling narrative.

I like pessimism and doom-and-gloom because it is comforting to think everything sucks from the outset so there is nothing I can do to make it any better. But the truth is that happiness requires responsibility, and I ain't so big on that. My happiness requires perspective and gratitude, healthy attitudes I am still learning.

Happiness also takes work and practice; it doesn't come with the instant gratification I think I deserve. I have to always remind myself how good I have it and how far God has brought me.

Here, then, are things that make me really fucking happy:

1. The Elephant Riders.

It happens about once a month or so: I'm on a walk, iPod on shuffle, turned up really fucking loud and a deep-cut song I haven't heard in years comes on. And it just sounds fucking great. It takes about three or four seconds for me to remember why I loved it in the first place but then, suddenly, it takes me back to all the great memories I have attached to it.

I feel high with giddiness when I rediscover music like this. I get overtaken with, "Goddamn, this is a great fucking song/album/band" and a whole new appreciation for the music washes over me.

I usually go on a three- or four-week bender of whichever band it is until I rediscover another new song or album. I've had resurgences of Clutch, Buddy Guy, Iron Maiden and AC/DC in the last six months almost by accident. My favorite part of finding music this way is calling my brother and bullshitting about what a fantastic jam XX is.

2. Drama-Free Zone.

I am totally free from interpersonal conflict bullshit. I am happy to see the people I am involved with now. I can go anywhere I want without worrying about who I might run into and what I might have done wrong to them.

I don't have negative relationships anymore: no more avoiding certain places because an ex-girlfriend might be there; no more staying out of a certain part of town because I ripped a landlord off; no more screening phone calls because I stole something.

My life is filled with healthy people, living really interesting lives and I am so glad that I get to be involved with them. Best part is, I can go all over the country and find friends in a lot of different places.

3. To The Bat Cave.

I have the man cave of my dreams. For the first time, I've found a place where I can be physically and emotionally comfortable writing and, as a result, my output has really exploded.

My wife and I live in a giant apartment, and I have an entire room for my office. This is the first space I've ever had - as a child or an adult - dedicated solely to my work and creativity. My isolated little office is a cocoon for me to think great thoughts, write masterpieces and cruise YouTube alone.

It's the only space I've ever had with my sole decorating imprint: I picked out the English Pea Green paint, the childhood pictures, the mid-century modern Danish teak desk, the Rolling Stones poster and the Metallica calendar all by myself.

I believe that my office is the main reason I've started writing again (outside of the years of painful therapy but this is a happy list).

4. Freaking Sweet.

It makes me happy to have a fellow Family Guy quote fanatic in Beachwood Steve. We put together a grant proposal for an investigative project using only quotes from Family Guy. Well, not really, but pretty damn close.

It does my heart good to have someone else validate my obsession with this dumbass show. I know that I am not alone in the world when someone else can rattle off mindless and juvenile inanities unsuitable for all occasions. I am comforted and held warm by the camaraderie we share when we discuss last night's episode. (I'm also talking to you Ms. G.)

5. 4 For A Dollar.

I love finding great garage sale deals and steals. My wife and I have a little online vintage resale shop, the point of which is less to make money than to justify our own junk-store buying. I get a little tingle in my dingle when we find a cool piece of retro stuff - either for our store or for the house - for next to nothing. A couple of days ago we found an entire, absolute mint set of 1960s dishes for cheap at a yard sale. We can't decide if we should keep them or sell them. Ah, what a delicious dilemma to have.

6. He Ain't Heavy.

Any alone time that I get to spend with my brother makes me happy. He lives in Virginia and we don't get to see each other very often. When we do get to hang out, there are usually wives, children and lots of other people involved.

But once or twice a year we get to hang out, just the two of us. It might be as much as a couple of days on a fishing trip or as small as ride to the hardware store. However much time it is, it is certain that there will be dick jokes, lots and lots of music and too much food we shouldn't be eating. I am rarely happier than when I am in my brother's truck, radio volume bumping and playing the "check this shit out" game.

A couple of weeks ago, he came to my house and we sat in my mud room with a couple cups of coffee and watched it rain and talked about heavy metal and our garden. I will remember moments like that on my deathbed.

7. Old School.

I love the thrill of making connections with friends without involving electronics: playing cards, taking a walk, chatting over a fine glass of Chablis. I didn't like living in D.C. but there was one thing that I miss like crazy: we used to host a game night for some of our friends and it really was a ball. Every couple of weeks we'd have eight to 12 people over in our tiny little apartment, a case of wine and a dish to pass and just go nuts. I remember laughing until I cried some nights playing Cranium.

Those game nights reminded me of the best parts of my childhood: playing card games with the family over homemade caramel corn and root beer Kool-Aid.

8. Serves Two.

I love to cook and when life isn't too crazy, my wife and I make a special dinner on Sunday afternoons. When it all comes together and we end up with a winning recipe that we get to enjoy, well that's just the total package: love, companionship and great pasta.

9. F-Stop.

Getting a great picture really snaps my shutter. I fancy myself a little bit of an amateur photographer. I won a photography scholarship to college, took one class and switched to journalism because my waiter salary was not going to pay for the $700 worth of class supplies and equipment the course required.

But I've started to pick up the camera again, and while I am no Gordon Parks or Sam Taylor-Wood, every couple of months I get a decent shot. We've hung up a couple in the house and it makes me happy to walk past something beautiful I've created.

10. To The Left.

I've gained a lot of weight over the last couple of years - living next door to a really stressful job and watching a lot of shitty cable television added a bunch of pounds in the last three years. I get pretty butthurt about how fat and lazy I am and all that negative self-messaging is counterproductive to where I want to go.

But I've recently gone on a diet and this morning the scale moved in the right direction - just a little bit, but a little bit is the right beginning.

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Comments welcome.

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Other Lists By Drew Adamek:
* Today's Syllabus
* Shit My Dad Says
* Work Weirdos
* Things I Miss About Chicago
* 20 Albums I Wish I Had Never Bought
* Their Chicago
* Cities I've Slept In
* My Favorite 1980s Chicago Radio Memories
* Why Milwaukee Rules
* Why I'm Glad I Don't Live In D.C. Anymore
* The Beer Goggle Recordings
* A List Of Reader Comments To Drew's Lists
* Life's Little Victories
* The Worst Jobs I've Ever Had
* Jobs For The Zombie Apocalypse
* Lemme Get A Bite Of That
* Lists I'll Never Write
* Things I Miss About My Imprisoned Best Friend
* Things I Miss About Being Single
* Things I Love About Being Married
* Why Chuck D Should Have Been Our First Black President
* Picture This
* My Suggestions For Ways To Further Desecrate Wrigley Field
* Signs I Am Getting Older
* My Most Memorable Half-Assed Ideas
* Why My Mom Rules
* My Summer To-Do List
* Signs That My Doomsday Is Nigh
* Five Albums That Changed My Life

Plus:
* Fan Note: Me & Metallica

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:35 AM | Permalink

August 14, 2010

The Weekend Desk Report

You stay inside and drink some nice lemonade. We'll head out and man the beats for you.

Market Update
This week saw an unexpected bull run on the Hypocrisy market as earnings reports showed the primary throwers of stones actually live in glass houses.

At the Movies
Sony Pictures is hoping to reverse lackluster box office earnings with this week's release of the Julia Roberts dramedy Eat Pray Love. Analysts predict the gamble will not pay off in Illinois, where viewers will be treated to at least another week of the classic Cheat Prey Mug.

President Beefcake
Professor Stephen Leatherman of Florida International University has issued an interesting demand to the Commander in Chief. "Absolutely, I want him to take his shirt off and get in the water and show it's clean and safe," the professor said of the president's trip to Panama City. Considering what happened last time, he's probably not alone.

Triumvirate Report
The mainstreaming of what was once the most notorious third of the Triumvirate of Terror continued this week as Russia announced it would begin loading fuel into Paris Hilton's reactor. Let's just make sure it's the right hair, shall we, or there will be no end of fuss.

The Way to Really Dry
Finally this week, Metra has announced a significant drop in ridership adversely affecting the company's bottom line. Officials blame the falloff on the local economy, noting many suburban Chicagoans haven't got a pot to piss in. Which makes the agency's plan to provide some all the more logical.

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The Weekend Desk Tip Line: At your command.

Posted by Natasha Julius at 8:48 AM | Permalink

August 13, 2010

The [Friday] Papers

Thank God there wasn't a verdict yesterday and won't be one today - I've got a busy morning and then I'm going out of town for the weekend. No time to dally.

Dally.

Anyway . . .

"If anyone's entitled to laugh like a hyena over the troubles of Rod Blagojevich, it's Paul Vallas," a columnist for the Philadelphia Daily News writes this morning.

"But Vallas wouldn't indulge much schadenfreude at the expense of the Illinois ex-governor, who's on trial for corruption.

"'I'm too old to wish anyone ill,' Vallas, 57, said when I called to ask how he was feeling about the legal travails of 'Blago' (such an apt, Bozo-y nickname for a man who, convicted or cleared, is the Clown Prince of Politics).

"Still, Vallas chuckled: 'How embarrassing is it that I got beaten by a guy whose legal defense has been that he's not bright enough to do what they say he did?'"

Mindless Speculation
Continues unabated by people making shit up off the top of their heads.

Hash Tag
Catch up with our #Blagojevich tweets at @BeachwoodReport. Even though @capitolfax weirdly accused of "spamming up" that hashtag, we were on a roll and quite a hit.

We're on Facebook too, even though we got this weird message this morning: "Your account is temporarily unavailable due to site maintenance. It should be available again within a few hours. We apologize for the inconvenience."

A few hours? I could wait for the cable guy for that amount of time.

It's not the first time.

Facebook continues to be exceedingly poorly managed.

Zenyatta Not All That
Our man on the rail explains why.

Publishing Note
Look for another fabulous Weekend Desk Report by the inimitable Natasha Julius tomorrow, and though I'll be out of town I'll still be online in various forms.

I'll leave y'all with some music from two of my favorite bands of all-time.

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1. She doesn't covet what she doesn't have.

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2. This used to be my town . . .

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3. Everybody dressin' funny.

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4. Liberty is a lie.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Bi-coastal.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:14 AM | Permalink

August 12, 2010

TrackNotes: Zenyatta Not All That

It never ceases to amuse me how racing writers, in dipping to the same level as the blowin'-in-the-wind general media, bestow greatness on the latest very nice thing.

"Zenyatta's quest for her 17th victory would make her perhaps the 3rd greatest racehorse to ever live," Charles Jay writes for BetUs.com. "She's already considered the greatest female racehorse to ever live . . . Winning this Sunday's Vanity would no doubt cement her place in thoroughbred racing history and put her on the greatness list after the immortal Man O'War and the indomitable Secretariat."

It gets worse.

"I have been fortunate enough to see other greats, too: Kelso, Forego, John Henry and, yes, Rachel Alexandra," John Pricci writes for HorseRaceInsider.com. "But given her unique combination of personality and ability, Zenyatta has entered the rarified air normally reserved for the best thoroughbreds ever to walk the planet. I've seen many great horses in the flesh: Bid, Secretariat, Seattle Slew, Ruffian. And great horses have a presence. But the show Zenyatta puts on; the bowing, the prancing?"

What is this, the Lipizzaner Stallions or horse racing?

Pricci's air is so rarified, it's a vacuum of logic.

If I came to your house and reeled off better horses off the top of my head, I'd be "The Thing That Wouldn't Leave." And the great mare Azeri enters the Hall of Fame today.

The reality is that racing fans will be arguing about the "greatness" of super mare Zenyatta until all of us in the here and now are dead and gone. Even after that, it will be "I hear she was the greatest," with the immediate retort "Yeah, but grandpappy said she didn't beat nothin'. "

Six-year-old Zenyatta ran her perfect record to 18 by capturing the Clement L Hirsch Stakes (Grade I) by a long neck at Del Mar on Saturday. Her streak is greater than the 16 consecutive victories reeled off by both Cigar and Citation.

Is this were a simpler time, perhaps like, oh, 1973, she'd be on the cover of Time and at least gaining a mention and maybe a mug shot in most of the nation's newspapers, almost all of which have stopped covering horse racing.

Or with the way she's been campaigned, maybe not.

Now I love Zenyatta. She's a huge, magnificent specimen. She plays the crowd with her Citation-esque head bow and ground scratching. Amazing to me is how she runs the same race nearly every time: drop to last, contend on the turn, swing wide and close it out. Pace doesn't appear to matter. And then there is the perfect record.

But even those who claim to - or really do - know a thing or two about racing are having a very difficult time calling Zenyatta the greatest horse ever, or even the greatest female ever. She just has not conquered the land, and because her connections have fashioned two straight years of a play-not-to-lose campaign, her legacy in the game is taking a beating.

It is inconceivable that a horse that has done something no other top thoroughbred has ever done - remain undefeated lifetime with a record winning streak and be female - is so questioned.

Greatest horse ever?

"I can't see that," says Jim Jamgotchian, the owner of Rinterval, the horse who challenged Zenyatta down the stretch Saturday. "The best I can give her is the best California-raced horse of all time. That should piss everybody off."

The tide is starting to turn against Zenyatta in the racing media. And some of these people vote on the year-end awards.

"Can we honestly say (Zenyatta's) better than Ruffian?" Nick Canepa writes for the . "(Ruffian) led at each pole in every race she ran, setting records in all eight stakes starts. I refuse to say Zenyatta is better than Ruffian. I can't. I won't."

The supposedly grizzled national handicapper for the Daily Racing Form, Mike Watchmaker, seems to be elevating Zenyatta in a most backhanded, Twilight Zone-ish manner, almost as if his editors told him to, which means it's not really an elevation:

"It was Zenyatta who ran on Saturday, and if the time hadn't come already, it certainly has come now to recognize that Zenyatta has earned the right to be measured by a different standard. It's not about who Zenyatta beats, anymore. All that matters now is this: Eighteen for 18, and counting. Eight straight Grade 1 victories, and counting. And 12 Grade 1 wins overall."

I think Watchmaker is actually reflecting the shallowness of the vehement arguments Zenyatta wingnuts make without doing the handicapping. He betrays Zenyatta's competition, or lack of it, on Saturday:

"If any other mare had won the Hirsch the way Zenyatta did Saturday, it frankly would have attracted only passing attention, and even less praise."

I think if you run the LP backwards in a "Paul Is Dead" kind of way, Watchmaker might be saying "she's beaten nobody."

Her soft schedule is gaining attention.

"Meanwhile, the bum of the month club will reconvene on Oct. 2 at the Oak Tree at Santa Anita meet when Zenyatta will once again defeat an overmatched bunch of fillies and mares and the result will generate barely a ripple of attention outside of the industry," Bob Ehalt for ESPN. "The magic of last year's Breeders' Cup Classic, or the Apple Blossom or even the Vanity was missing because the horses she was chasing (in the Hirsch) were not in her league. She was going to win, you knew it."

People are even debating what everybody saw Saturday as Zenyatta won her third Hirsch in a row. Did jockey Mike Smith have to kick Big Z's ass to get her going to the wire?

"I don't know," Jamgotchian said, "but what I saw was him hitting her pretty good three or four times with his whip. That didn't look to me like she was winning as she pleased."

While Smith didn't wind up and slap Zenyatta down the stretch, he at least poked her a few times to let her know he had the whip.

* * *

The debate first hit the fan in January when Rachel Alexandra won Horse of the Year right on the heels of Zenyatta's dramatic win in North America's biggest race, the Breeders' Cup Classic, which was and still is the domain of the boys.

But as Rachel was beating her three-year-old classmates, both boys and girls, and also the older boys, owners Jerry and Ann Moss and trainer John Shireffs were running Zenyatta in the ultimate closed and controlled environment: at home in California, on synthetic surfaces, facing restricted (female) company and running against competition whose talent has been questioned.

Like the Santa Ana winds, it's happening again this year.

Last year, Zenyatta ran the Milady, the Vanity, the Clement Hirsch and the Lady's Secret before winning the big one. This year, she's run the Santa Margarita, the Apple Blossom, the Vanity and the Clement Hirsch. Her 2010 competition is decidedly weaker, and in her last two she's won by well less than a length each time, but there's even debate about that. Was she just toying with them and doing only what was necessary to win? Or is she getting older and perhaps losing a step?

Zenyatta's people have said they are pointing to the Breeder's Cup and the Classic. They're dying to get Horse of the Year and they think a Classic win and 20-0 will do it. In an eerie, Pavlovian manner, they're taking the majestic mare through nearly an identical campaign as last year's HOY-losing string to get her to Churchill Downs in November. But there's one big exception: this year's Breeders' Cup will be run on dirt. Z's run on dirt twice in her life.

You can bet the Mosses and Shireffs are, to a degree, rolling the dice that no other horse this year will have anything close to the once-in-a-lifetime campaign Rachel did last year. But if Quality Road wins out, he'll legitimately lay claim to the Oscar.

It appears that Zenyatta is now pointed to the October 2nd Zenyatta Stakes (formerly the Lady's Secret and that still riles me) at Santa Anita. (There are rumblings the traditional Oak Tree Meet at Santa Anita will be run at Hollywood this fall because of major track problems at Santa Anita. That's another column. Hollywood is considered Zenyatta's home course!)

Which means she'll be missing the better competition of races like the Personal Ensign on August 29th at Saratoga, with Rachel Alexandra in the field; or even the Pacific Classic against a field of beatable boys on August 28th at Del Mar.

C'mon Queen Z. You can't beat up on The Little Sisters of the Poor forever.

Imagine. As great as Zenyatta is, we may never know how good she really is. Or could have been.

Fickle Finger
Widely touted as the best American horse in training today, at least before Saturday, Quality Road will try to "bounce back" after getting beaten a head by Blame in the thrilling Whitney Handicap on Saturday at Saratoga. See how fickle this game is?

QR seemed to have the race, but Blame would not back down and nipped him at the wire. They both beat hard worker Musket Man and 2009 Kentucky Derby winner Mine That Bird.

Blame appears headed to the Jockey Club Gold Cup at Belmont on October 2nd with Quality Road pointing toward the September 4th Woodward. After that, it's on to Kentucky for the Breeders' Cup.

Evening Collapse
Sad to hear the news of Tuscan Evening collapsing and dying right after a workout Sunday at Del Mar. A heart attack is suspected.

The female turfer, 5, was six-for-six this year including the Grade I Gamely Stakes at Hollywood. I saw her win the Grade III Modesty Handicap at Arlington Park on July 17th as she turned in a masterful demonstration of controlling the pace to win easily.

She ran just fast enough to stay ahead, but not so fast as to burn up and get caught at the wire. I tried to beat her that day, but she put me in my place. It was such a great performance, I almost didn't mind losing.

The Irish-bred was being pointed to the Beverly D Stakes on Million Day at Arlington on August 21st.

Fee State
We're seeing some reaction and consequences regarding last week's topic of Illinois advance deposit wagering (ADW) bettors being shut out from the premier U.S. tracks in a dispute over fees.

The Illinois Racing Board imposed a ceiling of 5% of what out-of-state tracks can charge ADWs to provide their signals to Illinois bettors.

It's not good.

"IRB figures through Aug. 3 indicate average daily ADW wagering has plunged 35.7% from $316,532 a day to $203,394 since the fee cap took effect," Bloodhorse reports. It's difficult to say how much Arlington is losing in what would have to be an ADW boycott of Arlington by Illinois bettors. Arlington is still available on ADWs here.

"The timing, (Arlington president Roy) Arnold said, could not be worse as the entire racing industry is facing contraction and the loss of customers. While the cap may meet one of its objectives of sending more customers back to Illinois offtrack betting locations rather than making their wagers through the ADW systems, Arnold said overall it will result in a drop-off of horse racing bettors."

Arnold said that "The only way it makes sense is if the OTBs pick up 100% of the handle they were making at the ADW channel" before the fee was imposed.

"Considering the pressures being put upon all racing jurisdictions, Arnold said he understands the action of the legislature and IRB to impose the cap. But he said it is a form of protectionism that could be harmful if other states elect to go the same route."

It will be interesting to see if any exceptions are made for next week's Arlington Million card, the biggest day of the year in Illinois racing.

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Thomas Chambers is our man on the rail. He brings you TrackNotes (nearly) every Friday. He welcomes your comments.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 5:09 PM | Permalink

The [Thursday] Papers

Yes, there may be a verdict today.

Or maybe not.

The jury sent the judge a note.

Nobody but the jury really knows what it means.

So relax.

Speculation is not news.

We're adults.

You can just report that they sent a note.

Here's what the note said.

Here's what the judge said.

Here's what happens next.

No need to hyperventilate.

No need to imagine every possible scenario.

No need to ask experts and pundits who are rarely right to imagine every possible scenario.

Speculation is not reporting.

Punditry is not reporting.

The amount of misinformation and top-of-the-head bullshit y'all are putting out there is just making us stupider.

Your job is to make us smarter.

Show some discipline and maturity; just report what you know and move on.

Please.

We beg of you.

The Rosty Files
* The [Rosty] Papers

* Reading Rosty

Kirk Equals Obama
Mark Kirk is a crumb, as Rich Miller points out here, but Barack Obama's DNC sent me an e-mail claiming that "because of [the state assistance bill], hundreds of thousands of jobs will be saved - including an estimated 5,700 public school teachers across Illinois," which doesn't appear to be true either according to Miller's post.

See, the promise of Barack Obama was that he would put an end to these sort of games - you know, rise above the tired politics of the past. Obama can't control what Mark Kirk does, but he can certainly remake the DNC and its ancillary operations and tell them: "No more. From now on, we practice a different kind of discourse."

Instead, Obama preaches civility in the afternoon and attacks and distorts at night - while everyone who works for him just attacks and distorts.

Chico and the Man
"A student who started preschool in 1995, when Chico was appointed president of the Chicago School Board by Mayor Daley, would have been in fourth grade - when most of the fundamentals of reading and math should have been laid down - when Chico left that position in 2001," Julie Woestehoff of PURE notes. "That young person would be 19 years old now, probably would have been flunked at least once and maybe twice under the Chico-Vallas 'promotion' policy, and would just be starting to apply to the city colleges system."

Rosty Myths
* "He was the quintessential Chicagoan."

Why? Because he was a fat, white, gin-soaked, corrupt pol?

He was the quintessential fat, white, gin-soaked, corrupt pol, that's for sure. But that's as far as it goes.

* "At least he brought home the bacon."

You paid for that bacon, and it was loaded up with even more bacon so his friends could get rich and richer. He was the Baconator. Is that something we should be thankful for?

* "He never forgot his roots."

Well, this one is true: His roots were in the Machine. So was his trunk. And his leaves.

* "He fought for working people."

This one is sufficiently debunked elsewhere on the site, where the record shows he worked hardest for his wealthy friends and patrons, including those in the financial services industry.

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Rosty Fighting For Regular People

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Sparkle and fade.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:52 AM | Permalink

August 11, 2010

The [Rosty] Papers

When I heard the news of Dan Rostenkowski's death, I couldn't help but flash in my mind upon the scene the night he lost his re-election bid in 1994 when I was in office of then associate managing editor Gerry Kern - now the Tribune's editor-in-chief - along with a gaggle of other reporters discussing the coverage we were preparing.

I was there because - though I had just been told days before that the paper wouldn't be retaining my services when my reporting residency ended - I was asked to join the small team otherwise composed of Tribune veterans that was covering what would turn out to be pretty historic midterms.

The election had just been called in favor of Rostenkowski's opponent, the inestimable Michael Patrick Flanagan. Tribune bigwigs were aghast - as if nobody saw this coming.

"Oh, Rosty!" political reporter Dorothy Collin exclaimed. I almost offered her a hanky.

When I mentioned the unmentionable - that nobody should have been that surprised seeing as how he was under indictment - Kern threw me a sharp look and said "Some people think the charges are chickenshit," or something very close to that. I was appalled. I didn't know the paper's official stance was that Rosty was getting rooked.

I quickly figured out that I was probably the only one in the room who read America: What Went Wrong by two of my reporting heroes, Donald L. Barlett and James B. Steele.

Barlett and Steele do something very curious as reporters investigating topics such as tax policy: They actually read the laws our legislators pass. You can say you are the defender of the middle-class and you just passed tax relief for them, but that doesn't make it true. Barlett and Steele found that, in Rosty's case, the actual legislation made it a lie. To the hilt.

I was glad, then, to see Whet Moser refer to Barlett and Steele's work even as the mainstream media - and the so-called experts they rely on time and time again despite the amazing consistency with which they get things wrong - largely remain in the dark.

"Rostenkowski Remembered For Fighting For 'Regular People,'" the Tribune reports.

Well, just because he's remembered that way - and gee, I wonder where people got that idea - doesn't make it true. Indeed, it's not even close.

In his famous Harper's magazine essay on corruption in the Illinois legislature, Paul Simon noted that a group of influential lawmakers owned stock in the horse racing industry that they routinely rewarded with special favors. Rostenkowski was one of those lawmakers. And so it went on for the whole of his career. But he told great stories.

* * *

"There are two different minds on the matter of Dan Rostenkowski," Tribune editorial page editor Bruce Dold wrote in 1996 (the Trib reposted the piece Wednesday night). "One belongs to politicians and the news media. The other belongs to everybody else in the world. That should worry people in my business."

The irony, of course, is that it should have been the media telling people the truth about Dan Rostenkowski instead of yukking it up with him. But it's more fun for too many people in this business to get a thrill up their leg being close to power. Danny's my friend!

"There could have been a wonderful split-screen image on the day Rostenkowski's indictment was announced two years ago," Dold wrote. "Astonished and crestfallen newsies and pols on the right; high-fiving, back-slapping regular Joes on the left.

"With the exception of a few reporters, including those who uncovered some of the corrupt practices that led to indictment, we've handled Rostenkowski as, at best, a sympathetic figure and, at worst, as something close to a martyr.

"Why? Because we like him. He's a steak-and-gin guy, and we like that in a politician. He's a colorful storyteller, if a world-class name-dropper, and we like that, too. He gave us access to what was going on, and we don't just like that, we earn our paychecks on it."

There's another way for us to earn our paychecks: Doing our job.

* * *

"Mr. Rostenkowski indeed was a creation of the old school - gruff and at times overbearing," veteran political reporter Greg Hinz writes affectionately. "One of the first stories I did here at Crain's was about how he was able to up-zone 32nd Ward property he owned before selling it, making a fat profit."

Ha ha! That's our Rosty!

"I once described Mr. Rostenkowski - who followed his father into politics - as the biggest gorilla in the Washington jungle," Hinz continues. "But he was our gorilla."

* * *

If Rostenkowski was guilty of simply not noticing that the rules had changed, he somehow missed noticing all the pols before him who went to prison for similar offenses, including a fair share of Chicago city council members. The memo must not have reached George Ryan, either, even though Ryan shared a lawyer with Rostenkowski in Dan Webb - a former U.S. Attorney here. And when Rod Blagojevich was running for governor on a campaign of reform in the wake of the Ryan scandals, he must not have paid attention to just what those scandals were; the other day he spouted that "If I get convicted of this, every politician in America should!"

Maybe so, but we can only try one at a time.

Even Mike Royko, when nobody had the guts at the end of his career to tell him he had gone off the rails, propogated this nonsense, likening Rosty's crimes to running a red light.

Really?

From Reading Rosty:

"Holder said fourteen ghost workers were paid $529,000 over a twenty-one-year period for doing little or no official work while providing personal services for Rosty such as cutting the grass at his Wisconsin home or keeping the books at Confidence Insurance. The indictments listed the ghosts by number, but the Sun-Times promptly named them in the next morning's edition.

"Further, Justice charged Rostenkowski with $101,767 in a fraud to get seven personal vehicles disguised as 'mobile district offices,' with $1,800 in House-paid parking garage fees tossed in for good measure. Also, he was accused of pocketing $49,300 in stamps-for-cash scams and taking $42,200 in stationery store items. In total, the chairman allegedly misused $724,267. Of this sum, $668,000 came from taxpayers and $56,267 from campaign funds.

"The government leveled no charges on Rosty's practice of paying himself and family members rents for family-owned property. Nor did it accuse him of income tax evasion. Some, until they read the forty-eight page indictment, took the latter omission as a sign of weakness in the government's case. Rather, it was a deliberate act to keep the trial in Washington. In a previous prosecution of a Louisiana congressman, the defendant exercised his right to be tried in the jurisdiction where his tax returns were filed, whereupon a hometown jury acquitted him. Holder was not about to let Rosty move the trial to Chicago.

*

"[F]or the most part, Rosty's use of ghosts seemed petty, abusive, tyrannical. Roger A. Kopacz, an electrical inspector, married Kristie Rosten in 1980. Before joining the family, Kopacz was required to hand over most of his $10,400 ghost pay to Rostenkowski as cash kickbacks."

*

"In another specimen of machine money churning, the son of a state senator got $48,400 in ghost pay over three years while Rosty's daughters Stacy and Dawn received $48,000 from the senator's payroll."

Was Rostenkowski supposed to be above the law, allowed to act like a common gangster? To squirrel away taxpayer money for his own fun and games?

Apparently so.

"Danny's problem was that he played precisely under the rules of the city of Chicago," Gerald Ford once said. "Now, those aren't the same rules that that any other place in the world lives by, but in Chicago, they were totally legal, and Danny got a screwing."

The current editor of the Tribune - the one who says watchdog reporting is part of the paper's "brand statement" - agrees.

* * *

"Had lunch last Friday with Dan Rostenkowski and a few other pals," Neil Steinberg wrote on Feb. 4, 2009. "A rollicking good time upstairs at Gene & Georgetti, as always, and while discretion forbids me from revealing anything that was said, I must comment upon one gesture.

"Occasionally, to emphasize a point or subtly signal that I should shut up so he could speak, Mr. Chairman would reach over, grasp my forearm and give it a squeeze.

"Afterward, I thought about how many times Lyndon Johnson must have done the same thing to Rostenkowski , and it pleased me greatly to think of that squeeze being passed from LBJ to Rosty to me."

* * *

"He was a throwback to a different era when backroom deals were alright," the Tribune's Bob Secter said on WGN-TV on Wednesday.

When was that? The 50s? The 60s? The 70s? Chicago pols have gone to prison for corruption since the town was found.

And if he was a throwback, why do pols continue to behave that way today?

"A throwback who was caught in a time warp and did not keep up changes in the rules - this was the received judgment," James L. Merriner wrote in Mr. Chairman. "Although in many ways an anachronism, Rosty was more of an exemplar, an imago of what the rest of the country hated about Washington, the excesses and nuisances and abuses of big government and its celebrity masters."

* * * *

"The persistent effort to excuse Rostenkowski has shown why the news media, particularly the Washington circle that shows up hand-in-hand with their sources on weekend TV, are perceived by readers and viewers as one class with politicians," Dold wrote 14 years ago.

We don't seem to have learned a damn thing.

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Comments welcome.


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 11:21 PM | Permalink

Reading Rosty

On the occasion of his death; relevant excerpts from and for the record. Links added for clarification and background.

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Book: American Pharaoh
Authors: Adam Cohen and Elizabeth Taylor
Excerpt: "Before [Martin Luther] King's Chicago Campaign was over, Dan Rostenkowski would suggest to presidential aide Lawrence O'Brien that the White House find an assignment that would take his friend Daley 'out of the country for a week or two.' Rostenkowski was 'most concerned,' he told O'Brien, about the toll the civil rights campaign in Chicago was having 'on the mayor personally.'"

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Book: Fire on the Prairie
Author: Gary Rivlin
Excerpts: "For a time after Daley's death Rostenkowski was Chicago's top political figure nationally. 'A case study of the dangers of getting in over your head,' the Washington Monthly wrote when ranking Rostenkowski among the country's six worst congressman based on the views of fellow congressmen, lobbyists, staffers, reporters, and others. 'Hogs get slaughtered but pigs get fat,' he explained to a New York Times reporter.

"Yet the local media treated him with an affection and respect that bordered on reverential."

*

"Congressman Dan Rostenkowski was one notable no-show; confronted by reporters, he hemmed and hawed about endorsing Washington. The burden falls on Washington, Rostenkowski said, to convince white voters he's for all people, not just black Chicago.

"Only after influential House Democrats reminded him that he needed their support as chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee did Rostenkowski endorse Washington. Still, precinct captains who were part of his ward organization went door-to-door on Epton's behalf."

*

"The nonpartisan election was an old idea that independents floated from time to time. After the 1983 election the regular Democrats adopted it. Petitions were passed out on the southwest and northwest sides; among those supporting the drive were Dan Rostenkowski and fellow Congressman William Lipinski, both allies of Rich Daley. 'It's the only way Rich can run for mayor,' a top Daley adviser, requesting anonymity, told the Tribune."

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Book: Bashing Chicago's Traditions
Authors: Melvin Holli and Paul Green
Excerpts: "When U.S. Congressman Daniel Rostenkowski endorsed Washington's mayoral opponent Thomas Hynes, Washington spat out, 'Was he driving when he said that?' It was a snide reference to the solon's recent arrest on drunken driving charges."

*

"Congressman Daniel Rostenkowski and William Lipinski (long-time Daley stalwarts) claimed that Hynes could beat both Washington and Byrne in a three-way 1983 rerun."

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Book: Here's the Deal
Author: Ross Miller
Excerpt: "Swibel and his group had already induced Congressman Rostenkowski to write an unprecedented exclusion into 1980 federal tax legislation that allowed them to build more than two thousand units of luxury housing with low-moderate-income HUD rental subsidies on the old West Side renewal land, formerly called Madison-Canal."

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Book: Rogues, Rebels, and Rubber Stamps
Author: Dick Simpson
Excerpt: "One controversial proposal that recurred several times during the Byrne years was the Presidential Towers apartment building project. Land for the project was bought from Byrne confidant and supporter Charles Swibel, who was a banker, real estate speculator, and chairman of the Chicago Housing Authority Board.

"The Presidential Towers project was put together by business partners of powerful congressional Ways and Means Committee chairman Dan Rostenkowski, who supplied the special federal tax breaks to make these politically well-connected developers rich. Although the poor were displaced by this development, the city council approved it in a series of contested and divided roll call votes."

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Book: Fire on the Prairie
Author: Gary Rivlin
Excerpt: "Byrne and Rostenkowski were the project's most influential benefactors. One of the three developers was Daniel Shannon, a former business associate of Rostenkowski's and manager of the congressman's blind trust portfolio. The $159 million loan Rostenkowski won for Presidential Towers represented about sixty-two percent of all federal money made available in 1983 for subsidized developments. The city floated a $180 million bond to provide an additional low-interest loan."

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Book: The Great American Tax Dodge
Authors: Donald L. Barlett and James B. Steele
Excerpt: "The new era of rampant special-interest tax breaks was defined by the Tax Reform Act of 1986. Amid blasts of rhetoric from lawmakers as to how they were routing special interests and making the tax code fairer for middle-class America, tax-law writers working behind the scenes crammed the legislation with hundreds of clauses benefiting a handful of taxpayers.

"Dan Rostenkowski, the Illinois Democrat who chaired the House Ways and Means Committee, called the tax reform measure 'a bill that reaches deep into our national sense of justice - and gives us back a trust in government that has slipped away in the maze of tax preferences for the rich and powerful.'

"Then Rostenkowski inserted dozens of special provisions, including one worth at least $150 million to Commonwealth Edison Company, the utility serving Rostenkowski's native Chicago."

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Book: America: What Went Wrong?
Authors: Donald L. Barlett and James B. Steele
Excerpts: "But the idea of an excise tax on securities transactions has been blocked each time it has come up in Congress . . . Dan Rostenkowski, the Illinois Democrat and committee chairman: 'I am on the record as being generally unsympathetic to such taxes . . . such a tax would raise serious questions about our ability of our nation to compete . . . '

"From 1980 through 1990, Rostenkowski collected $37,000 in speaking fees from the Chicago Board of Trade. And $22,500 from the Public Securities Association. And $20,000 from Citicorp-Citibank. And $19,500 from the American Stock Exchange. And $18,000 from the American Bankers Association. And $15,500 from the Securities Industry Association.

"He picked up $15,000 from the National Venture Capital Association. And $15,000 from the CL Global Partners Securities Corporation. And $14,500 from the American Council for Capital Formation. And $13,000 from the Midwest Stock Exchange. And $10,000 from the Exchange National Bank of Chicago,

"Add up the honoraria and the total comes to $213,500 for the eleven years. And that's just from twelve organizations - all with a direct stake in the Internal Revenue Code in general and the imposition of new taxes, such as an excise tax, in particular. Over the eleven years, Rostenkowski pulled in $1.7 million in speaking fees or honoraria from businesses and organizations with an interest in tax legislation.

"To put that sum in perspective, consider this: The $1. million that Rostenkowski received from groups seeking favored treatment was double the amount of money that he received for serving in Congress."

*

"[I]n the summer of 1991, Rostenkowski introduced legislation to simplify the tax code that included a deduction for goodwill. Financial analysts have predicted that it will be part of any tax package enacted in 1992. If so, the goodwill deduction will give a boost to another round of corporate takeovers and result in the further elimination of jobs and additional lost tax revenue running into the billions of dollars."

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Book: America: Who Really Pays The Taxes?
Authors: Donald L. Barlett and James B. Steele
Excerpt: "[Rostenkowski's] work prompted one financial publication to label the budget legislation 'The Investment Bankers Relief Act of 1993.'"

*

Note: This book details several other tax breaks for rich people and industries that Rostenkowski slipped into tax legislation while spewing rhetoric about helping the middle-class, but those deals are too complicated to retell here. Let's just say that Barlett and Steele single out Rostenkowski as the man most responsible for tax-writing during his time as Ways and Means chairman and most responsible for loading up the tax code with what we could call today "earmarks" - always for the wealthy and influential, never for the everyday Chicagoans (and Americans) Rostenkowski supposedly represented.

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Book:Rostenkowski: The Pursuit of Power and the End of Old Politics
Author: Richard E. Cohen
Excerpts: "According to the federal indictment, he had 'engaged in in a pattern of corrupt activity for more than 20 years.' He was said to have used his official accounts to pay for personal expenses that ranged from cleaning his Washington apartment to taking photographs at his daughter's wedding. Worse, prosecutors charged he had converted House of Representatives Post Office stamps into cash, which he used to line his pockets. To an angry public, the indictment fit the worst stereotypes of Chicago politicians. The charges 'represent a betrayal of the public trust for personal again,' said U.S. Attorney Eric Holder."

*

"He did not deny he had placed on his payroll family members of longtime pals: they kept the grass clipped at his Wisconsin lake house much as Rostenkowski's twin sisters and four daughters had sometimes performed make-work tasks on the payroll of other Chicago pols 'Did I put a kid on my payroll because he was my buddy's son?' he said later, with a rhetorical shrug. 'Did I expect him to do some work? Yes, but not a lot.'

"Likewise, he had directed his staff to make official purchases such as glass sculpture and wood-backed chairs from the House stationery shop; these he gave as gifts to supporters and dignitaries.

"In Rostenkowski's mind that was both perfectly legitimate and no big deal for a sultan of Congress. Indeed, he was proud that many years earlier he had helped to expand the legions of staff courtiers and official perks for his colleagues."

*

Book: Mr. Chairman: Power in Dan Rostenkowski's America
Author: James L. Merriner
Excerpts: "As a rule, the more charges that prosecutors throw at a defendant, the weaker their case; the fewer, the stronger. Multiple charges are a device to induce a plea bargain. But these seventeen charges were plangent with vivid specifics of wrongdoing. The plea bargain had already been spurned. Only a rare jury would acquit on all seventeen.

"Holder said fourteen ghost workers were paid $529,000 over a twenty-one-year period for doing little or no official work while providing personal services for Rosty such as cutting the grass at his Wisconsin home or keeping the books at Confidence Insurance. The indictments listed the ghosts by number, but the Sun-Times promptly named them in the next morning's edition.

"Further, Justice charged Rostenkowski with $101,767 in a fraud to get seven personal vehicles disguised as 'mobile district offices,' with $1,800 in House-paid parking garage fees tossed in for good measure. Also, he was accused of pocketing $49,300 in stamps-for-cash scams and taking $42,200 in stationery store items. In total, the chairman allegedly misused $724,267. Of this sum, $668,000 came from taxpayers and $56,267 from campaign funds.

"The government leveled no charges on Rosty's practice of paying himself and family members rents for family-owned property. Nor did it accuse him of income tax evasion. Some, until they read the forty-eight page indictment, took the latter omission as a sign of weakness in the government's case. Rather, it was a deliberate act to keep the trial in Washington. In a previous prosecution of a Louisiana congressman, the defendant exercised his right to be tried in the jurisdiction where his tax returns were filed, whereupon a hometown jury acquitted him. Holder was not about to let Rosty move the trial to Chicago.

*

"[F]or the most part, Rosty's use of ghosts seemed petty, abusive, tyrannical. Roger A. Kopacz, an electrical inspector, married Kristie Rosten in 1980. Before joining the family, Kopacz was required to hand over most of his $10,400 ghost pay to Rostenkowski as cash kickbacks."

*

"In another specimen of machine money churning, the son of a state senator got $48,400 in ghost pay over three years while Rosty's daughters Stacy and Dawn received $48,000 from the senator's payroll."

*

"Washington mourned the chairman's fate. Al Hunt of the Wall Street Journal said Washington 'will not see his like again.' Russell Baker of the New York Times said he was 'under indictment for everything from mopery to failing to wash the ring out of the bathtub.' Jon Margolis of the Chicago Tribune scorned they 'pygmies trying to bring down a giant.' David S. Broder of the Washington Post, the most respected and respectable of the pundits, wept over his keyboard: '[T]he reaction is one more of tears than of anger. Maybe that's just a relection of the stunted moral character many citizens impute to the capital. I prefer to think that it is Washington's appreciation of the rarity of people like Rostenkowski with a passion not just to win elections but to govern.'"

*

"The Tribune, the dominant newspaper, endorsed Rostenkowski of course, but so did the Sun-Times, editorially sneering at its own reporters' revelations of the incubment's thefts. Both papers said he was an indispensable civic asset. Rosty's performance at the Sun-Times editorial endorsement meeting was a virtuoso smash of charm and swagger as he spun stories about Dick and Lyndon. He simply wowed the editors."

*

He lost the election.

*

"He set up Danross Associates Inc., consultants in 'legislative and governmental affairs,' working at first out of the North Michigan Avenue office of Michael Segal, head of Near North Insurance, former business partner of George Dunne, investor with Rosty in Wisconsin real estate, and all-around machine fixer . . .

"Government documents in the investigation of the Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees International Union later indicated that union president Edward T. Hanley, an old Rostenkowski friend, had provided Danross a $50,000 consulting fee for a single memo."

*

"Robert L. Russo was accused of lying to the grand jury to cover up his ghost job . . . Testimony revealed how Rostenkowski used Damen Avenue has a hiring hall. He would rotate relatives and neighborhood folks on and off the payroll for months at a time, sometimes collecting each worker's pay for the whole year while dribbling out cash to one and all. "

*

"Haltingly, with rain splattering the sheet of paper, Rosty read a statement: 'I'd like to emphasize that I pled guilty to the least serious charges set forth in this indictment . . . I personally have come to accept the fact that sometimes one person gets singled out to be held up by law enforcement as an example.'"

*

"Officialdom grieved. A Republican elder told a reporter, 'What happened to Danny is the same thing that happened to Nixon. The rules changed and they didn't.' Such an opinion could not survive scrutiny of the record in either man's case."

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:46 PM | Permalink

The [Wednesday] Papers

"Chicago Mayor Richard Daley says he wants the open-admissions policy at the city's colleges to be thrown out," WBEZ reports. "Daley says about $30 million is spent on special classes for students who are lagging behind."

Students who are lagging behind because they attended Chicago Public Schools.

Last week the mayor sent his hand-picked city colleges chief and old hand Gery Chico to the Sun-Times editorial board to soften the ground. Mission accomplished. The resulting Sun-Times story didn't include a single critical voice, though it did lift a "quote" from a University of Illinois professor from a news release put out in July.

Didn't anyone here go to J school?

That story allowed this gruesome statement by Chico to go unchallenged:

"Why is it the responsibility of Chicago community colleges to spend $30 million a year to pick up lost math and reading skills? I'm not saying that as a society we shouldn't be charged with doing that someplace. But why is it placed in the lap of higher education?"

Let someone else do it!

Like, um . . . someone else!

Of course, those math and reading skills were lost in the public schools that Chico used to run. What's next, naming Chico president of the U of I, where he'll lambaste the performance of city colleges?

Now, if that so-called $30 million is pumped back into CPS instead, maybe we've got something here. Not likely.

Not only that, but there is a theory behind open admissions: Everybody gets a chance. Isn't that the way up and out for some people?

"Chico and new Chancellor Cheryl Hyman argued that those students might be better and more inexpensively served through programs run by alternative high schools," today's Sun-Times report says.

Right.

"In the future, Hyman wants to identify and assist lower-performing Chicago Public high school students before they even apply to City Colleges."

Right.

I'm pretty sure neither of those things is going to happen. Let's see the plan first.

And let's be clear: This is about cost-cutting not education. The mayor is saying there are some folks - motivated enough to pursue a college education - whom we just can't afford to educate anymore.

Bad Day Chicago
I've long argued that Fox Chicago News is underrated, probably because of the taint of the national Fox brand, but I have to say the station's new version of its Good Day Chicago morning show is too painful to watch.

Corey McPherrin and Anna Davlantes hardly make an "attractive and personable team"; they are grating and unctuous. You know - TV people.

Regular readers know I was a fan of the previous version, but now I'm lost in the mornings.

That's Ozzie!
Just when my dislike of Ozzie Guillen was starting to soften he goes and pulls his woe-is-me act again. Mr. Macho sure is a crybaby.

At The Movies?
Hey, let's dress like we're in a Tom Cruise thriller!

Alternate: Hey, let's dress like we're in a middle-aged sequel to Swingers!

That's Desiree!
I really have nothing funny to say about this; the jokes are too easy.

*

In a statement, Rogers said "I am humbled to have such an incredible opportunity."

So Rogers is starting her publishing career on a lie - she's never been humbled.

O'Hare Screws Virgin
"Virgin America plans to begin flights to and from Dallas, its first midcontinent destination, after failing for more than two years to secure airport gates in Chicago," the Tribune reports.

Apparently Virgin balked when the city demanded unmarked euros in a paper bag.

Misquote of the Day
A morning laugh for anybody who's ever talked with former state Senate President Emil Jones and never heard him sound anything remotely like this:

"Zimek's automatic rapid decontamination and disinfection technology is a powerful addition to our arsenal of weapons to fight infectious diseases and biohazard attacks," Senator Jones said. "Zimek's technology can meaningfully help hospitals throughout our country improve infection control quality standards and ensure they use best practices to comply with new federal provisions issued by CMS (Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services) which encourage hospitals to disclose and, proactively, reduce their healthcare acquired infections (HAIs). HAIs will now be tied to hospital Medicare reimbursement incentives."

Cutler vs. Favre
Surprise!

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Biohazardous to your health.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:48 AM | Permalink

Fantasy Fix: Ps & QBs

This being the Year of the Pitcher and all, it might be a good time to get your hands on every spare fantasy arm you can find.

The trouble is there are usually (unless your commissioner is a nit-wit) only so many starting pitcher slots - four in some leagues, but I've seen others with three or even two.

Starters don't go every day, and they may not all pitch on the same day, but if you are trying to gain fantasy points by loading up on pitching stats, you need a lot of arms, and that means potential conflicts. That means it's time to look for pitchers with flexible position eligibility - the sometime elusive SP/RP.

There are actually a decent number of SP/RPs every season, but they tend to change from year to year. Players who come out of the bullpen or the minors and then get moved into the rotation early in the year may only be SP/RP for that year if they pitch well. A good way to find the best ones is by searching for RPs, but ranking them by most innings pitched.

Here are a few SP/RPs who should be on your radar right now:

Brandon Morrow, SP/RP, Toronto: Almost threw a no-hitter last weekend, but the best part fantasy-wise were his 17 strikeouts. Morrow actually has been a great strikeout pick all season at well over one per inning. A fairly high ERA has kept him on the waiver wire in many leagues, but look for that to change. 40 percent owned in Yahoo!

Colby Lewis, SP/RP, Texas: He's had an up-and-down year, but still has a 3.37 ERA and, like Morrow, will get you a lot of strikeouts. 77 percent owned.
Brett Myers, SP/RP, Houston: Only eight wins for a poor-hitting team, but another low ERA, high strikeout pick-up. 55 percent owned.

Brian Duensing, SP/RP, Minnesota: He's bounced between the rotation and the bullpen more than the others, but looks like he may start frequently the rest of the way. 5-1 right now with a 2.27 ERA for a late-season surging team. 11 percent owned.

Expert Wire
* Closing Time says the latest SP/RP to size up is Jeremy Hellickson. Just one start in the bank, but the Rays will give him a lot of run support.

* Bleacher Report asks if Gio Gonzalez, SP, Oakland is worth owning. Like his more successful teammate Trevor Cahill, he delivers a low ERA, WHIP and wins games in which Oakland cares to score, but also has relatively few strikeouts. On a winning team, he'd be an easy pick.

* ESPN has a good feature for folks in keeper leagues on the top-ranked keeper choices.

And now, over to football . . .

Top 10 QBs
A quick look at my top 10 quarterbacks as we get ready for draft day:

1. Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay.

My love for him has been pretty well documented. I predicted an MVP-type season last year, and this year I'm going to be right.

2. Drew Brees, New Orleans.

Everyone keeps expecting a let-down, maybe conditioned by his early-career inconsistencies. He still has a wide range of players to throw to, and probably more confidence than ever.

3. Peyton Manning, Indianapolis.

Why? Because he's Peyton Manning. He excelled last year with a young, questionable group of receivers, and now they have all the awkward getting-to-know-you stuff out of the way.

4. Matt Schaub, Houston.

His breakthrough year of more than 4,700 yards passing and 29 touchdowns almost gets him a No. 3 rank.

5. Philip Rivers, San Diego.

He's getting to be a reliable choice for 4,000-plus pass yards and right around 30 TDs.

6. Tony Romo, Dallas.

Still getting beat up despite rising passing yards and fewer interceptions and fumbles.

7. Brett Favre, Minnesota.

This is assuming a best-case scenario where he's ready to go no later than Game 4 of the season. Until he cashes his first pension check, he remains in my top 10.

8. Jay Cutler, Chicago.

Surprise! Leading a Mike Martz offense won't be a miracle cure, but I like his potential for something like 32 TDs, 16 INTs, 4,000 pass yards.

9. Tom Brady, New England.

His stock is definitely on the decline, but it looks like Wes Welker will be healthy, and Brady can quickly and quietly pile up passing yards.

10. Matthew Stafford, Detroit.

A pretty high-profile gamble for a guy who had 20 INTs in just 10 games last year, but he showed flashes of brilliance and has a solid receiving corps. Like Brady, more of a passing-yards play than a TD play.

Next week: The top 10 WRs.

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Dan O'Shea's Fantasy Fix appears in this space (nearly) every Wednesday. He welcomes your comments. You can also read his about his split sports fan personality at SwingsBothWays, which isn't about what it sounds like it's about.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 5:48 AM | Permalink

August 10, 2010

The [Tuesday] Papers

Now is about the time to start thinking about the Blagojevich jury coming in. All this media wrangling about how long they've been out has been nonsense. Did the pundits expect the jury to return a verdict within a couple days? There are 120 pages of jury instructions alone! It probably took a couple days just to organize themselves. Think about it: 28 counts between two defendants in a seven-week trial with reams of documents and hours of tapes.

Not only that, but the trial of a former governor. You better be thorough; if the jury came back inside of a week you'd wonder if their verdict would have any credibility. Past corruption trials tell us that these juries are serious about their work; they must look at every charge, the evidence from the prosecution and the defense, and the law. In this case, they must determine - among other things - if a conspiracy was "furthered." And they must be able to show the public that they've done their due diligence.

Due diligence isn't exactly the media's forte, though. But they're great at wasting time and resources. Here's thought: When nothing is happening, don't feel compelled to report on the trivial. For example, stories about how the media is waiting for something to happen. (Spare me Camp Blago; I've seen it and it's boring.) Nobody cares - and they shouldn't.

More egregious was Elizabeth Brackett's "exclusive" interview last night with Blagojevich attorney and blowhard-in-arms Sam Adam Jr. on Chicago Tonight. First, calling any interview with Adam an "exclusive" is like calling an interview with Ozzie Guillen an exclusive. These are two guys who never stop talking. They give interviews to strangers on the El.

I mean, didn't we just read this in the Tribune?

Second, if you are going to call an interview an "exclusive," you better bring it. Getting a tour of Adam's office does not qualify, even if we now know where the paralegals sat.

And poor Sam Adam! There's a million things maybe he would have done differently! And by the way, if the jury is watching, Rod Blagojevich saved my kid's life!

This time the story went not that he didn't have health insurance, but that he didn't have maternity coverage. Perhaps the pregnancy was unplanned. After all, Adam has already said that if it wasn't for Rod Blagojevich's All Kids, his wife may have aborted. (It must be a pro-choice jury.)

Of course, Adam has another motive: Polishing his image so his reputation isn't too badly damaged after putting on a disastrous defense. (Or, rather, not putting on a defense at all.)

If you're going to get a formal interview with Adam, maybe think ahead of time about the questions you really want to ask - besides, you know, how are you holding up?

Start with these:

* Do you really believe in your heart of hearts that your client didn't try to extract a campaign donation in exchange for funding for a children's hospital?

* Hasn't the "it was just politics" defense failed in every previous corruption case from George Ryan to Robert Sorich to Al Sanchez to Scott Fawell?

* If your client is so stupid, as you portray him, how did he get elected to the governorship of the country's fifth most populous state twice? Did the people of Illinois make a grave mistake? Should we have elected someone else?

* Was the argument with your father about whether Rod would testify staged? Would you testify to that in a court of law?

* What kind of evidence did you expect the government to produce that they didn't when you planned on putting your client on the stand?

* Did you fail to put on a defense because every friend and insider of your client had already testified for the prosecution?

* Were there ever any discussions about cutting a deal? And you would testify to that in a court of law?

* Tell me about how you planned your media strategy. Is this interview part of it?

* How much are you getting paid? Where is the money coming from - isn't Rod broke?

* Do you really believe R. Kelly didn't urinate on an underage girl in that video?

Ask the questions you really want to ask. That's the job. You're not supposed to be all cozy-like with everybody, acting on Gentleman's Agreements that you won't ask the tough questions. If Sam Adam Jr. says he loves the ex-governor . . . check it out, for godsakes.

Trib Squib
Let's pretend the story went like this:

"Two top executives at United Airlines engaged in 'intentional fraud' in late 2007 when working to finish the $8.2 billion sale of the company, an examiner said in a 1,500-page inquest into its bankruptcy."

I bet it would get more coverage than the real news alleging that very thing about two top executives at Tribune Company is getting. As Joe Biden would say, this is a big frickin' deal - not just because of the scope of the alleged misdeeds, but because it imperils Tribune's emergence from bankruptcy. Like it or not, Tribune is one of the city's most historic, longstanding and influential companies with properties across the country. The story is totally getting underplayed.

Take, again, Chicago Tonight last night. In the business segment, moderator Phil Ponce asked the usually strong, smart and respectable Kris Kridel if a criminal prosecution of Tribune executives could follow. After all, they've just been accused of fraud.

Good question, and one I've wondered myself.

Kridel didn't know, which isn't a crime (no pun intended), but a little preparation would have been nice. Worse, Ponce asked her to name the two executives. She couldn't recall their names. Huh?

The best she could do was to say that one is the current CFO (that would be Chandler Bigelow) and the other is retired (that would be Don Grenesko).

Now, let me be the first to say that things can slip when you're on live television. For the grace of God . . .

But Kridel is a pro - when it comes to TV, I certainly am not - and so is Ponce.

In fact, it's quite obvious that Ponce almost always asks questions that he already knows the answer to. He's basically a set-up guy. So chances are he already knew the names of the executives he asked about. But he kept that to himself. (If he didn't know, he's got no business hosting that segment.)

Ho-hum. Another day of misplaced priorities and media bumbling.

Now, if Brackett can get an exclusive interview with Chandler Bigelow, we may have something.

The Chicago Way Network
Forget Oprah's OWN; here comes The CWN.

The Clown Prince of Illinois Politics
On the weird new book by the Assistant Majority Leader of the Illinois Senate, Rickey R. Hendon (the "R" stands for Hollywood.)

A New Cubs Drinking Game
Spiral into the gutter right alongside your favorite team.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Gutter-ready.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:28 AM | Permalink

The Spiral Toward Last Place Drinking Game

How in the world are you still watching?

You should have better things to do.

But if you insist, we here at the Cub Factor would like to give you a little something for the effort.

If you do watch these guys, we suggest drinking - heavily. And if you do drink, why not make a game out of it? If the Cubs aren't going to make a game out of it, at least you should.

Here, then, are some suggestions for the 2010 Chicago Cubs Spiral Toward Last Place drinking game:

* Take one drink every time you say out loud, "Who the hell is this guy?" when another no-name reliever comes into the game for the Cubs. If anyone can prove they know who that guy is, they get to give two drinks.

* Take a drink any time a Cub reliever enters the game with an ERA under 4.00. Then take a drink every time that reliever leaves the game with an ERA over 4.00.

* Take a drink for every Jeff Baker or Xavier Nady at-bat the rest of the way.

* Take a drink for every Kosuke Fukudome at-bat in which he makes contact against a left handed pitcher. If he corkscrews himself into the ground, drink twice.

* Take drink for any game in which Lou Piniella is actually in the dugout. If you can make a case that he is actually managing, give three drinks.

* Take a drink for every Starlin Castro play that makes you say "Whoa!"

* Take a drink for every Starlin Castro play that makes you say "Yikes!"

* Take a drink every time you wonder why D-Lee is getting any at-bats at all at this point. Then take another drink every time D-Lee strikes out with runners in scoring position - and then spit it out in disgust.

* Take a drink every time Len & Bob mention Ryne Sandberg as the next Cubs manager. Also take a drink every time Len & Bob mention Joe Girardi, as the next Cubs manager. Give three drinks if either of them ever consider that Bob wants to be the next Cubs manager and says on the air, "Awkward!"

* Take a drink for every game closer to last place the Cubs go.

* Take a drink every time you wonder how Jim Hendry still has a job. No, that's too much drinking even for us.

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Week in Review: The Cubs keep the train a rollin', going 1-5 at home. And by rollin' I kind of mean tumbling sideways over a cliff and exploding in a heap of twisted metal.

Week in Preview: The Cubs stay in San Fran for three more and then head in to St Louis for three against the Redbirds. The season just can't end soon enough; I need a drink.

The Second Basemen Report: The Blake DeWitt Era has begun and it has really taken the city by storm. Okay, he might be the best second baseman they've had in a long while, but he also could be double-switched by the end of the season. You just don't know, and neither does Jim Hendry, just like he drew it up.

In former second baseman news, Ryan Theriot is batting .258 for the Dodgers with 2 RBIs in eight games. So he is kind of the same and is missed.

The Zam Bomb: Big Z seems to be apologetic but we think deep down he's still getting angry - so he's kind of in between.

zam_apologetic.jpg

zam_gettingAngry.jpg

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Lost in Translation: Tomieo Ricketts-san is Japanese for asleep at the wheel.

Endorsement No-Brainer: Tom Ricketts for Ambien.

Sweet and Sour Lou: 48% sweet, 52% sour. Lou stands pat this week due to his mother being sick. And just like your real crazy drunk uncle, Lou knew he didn't have any vacation days left but he is quitting and the guys at the plant aren't going to be dicks, so they didn't dock him anything.

Ameritrade Stock Pick of the Week: Analysts urge investors to sell all their stock in toothpicks now as their value will never be higher and will most certainly go down.

Over/Under: How many games the rest of the way that someone other than D-Lee starts at first: +/- Not enough.

Beachwood Sabermetrics: A complex algorithm performed by the The Cub Factor staff using all historical data made available by Major League Baseball has determined that Dusty Baker will screw this up.

Agony & Ivy: It's a way of life.

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

The White Sox Report: Now with a weekly Cubs Snub.

The Mount Lou Alert System: Mount Lou Is still green and his mom is sick. So yeah, I'm not going to touch that one either.

mtlou_green.gif

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Contact The Cub Factor!

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:15 AM | Permalink

The Chicago Way Network

Forget OWN, here comes CWN.

*

I'm a Committeeman, Get Me Out of Here!: Stranded at the Board of Elections all night, some contestants will be forced to eat ballots.

*

CSI: Bridgeport: A crack team of analysts dissect political deaths emanating from this region.

*

Who Wants to Be a Porch Inspector?: All the more dramatic because contestants don't have to even show up for the competition to win.

*

Everybody Loves Huberman: Or do they? Watch and find out!

*

Last Alderman Standing: Contestants brave wiretaps, political recriminations, union organizing and constituent fatigue to see which can hold on to their job the longest.

*

Parks and Recreation: Airs only in white neighborhoods.

*

This Week in Graft: A jaunty review co-hosted by Jim Laski and Betty Loren-Maltese.

*

As The Tape Rolls: Highlights from wiretaps past and present.

*

So You Think You Can Sing: Recollections from the likes of Lon Monk, John Wyma, Scott Fawell and - rumor has it - Tony Rezko.

*

Who Sent Ya?: Contestants apply for city jobs in this hilarious candid camera show.

*

Deadliest Catch : The Fitzgerald finally finds a school of Daleys.

*

Angelo Who?: Bear Grylls tries to find the elusive hiring manager.

*

$20 Billion Dollar Pyramid: The exciting new game show where we finance Chicago's solvency by auctioning off its assets!

*

Pensions of the Rich and Connected: Inside the new generation of Chicago's luxury class.

*

The Real Housewives of Streets and San: Inside the new generation of Chicago's luxury class.

*

Survivor: Audy Home Edition: Outfight, Outgun, Outgame.

*

Just Shoot Me!: Mayor Daley and Father Pfleger host this madcap look at the Second Amendment; special musical guest Ted Nugent.

*

America's Funniest Blue-Light Surveillance Videos: Narrated by Bill Kurtis.

*

Everybody Hates Todd: Or do they? Watch and find out!

*

Billy Dec's Celebrity Body Spray (Infomercial - 30 mins.): Starring Billy Dec.

*

Jeremiah Wright Says The Darndest Things!: And most of them are true!

*

All in the Family: Because nepotism is timeless.

*

Law & Order: Electric Shock Unit: Narrated by Bill Kurtis.

*

Jody Weis for The Total Gym®: Fighting crime single-handedly.

*

Undercover Mayor: Richie takes on jobs such as pothole filler, garbage collector, nightclub inspector, and laborer watching over holes others are digging, and even testifies at a corruption trial!

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 1:13 AM | Permalink

The Clown Prince of Illinois Politics

A new book by Rickey R. Hendon (the "R" stands for "Hollywood") is even weirder than Chicago News Cooperative columnist James Warren lets on.

It is also hugely instructive - as a field guide to door-to-door politics and a window into Hendon's bleak soul.

It's not a tell-all, as Hendon warns us early on, but it wants to be. Hendon takes sideways shots at several political figures known and not along the way.

It's also a psychological portrait of a self-absorbed and paranoid pol who portrays himself as an independent reformer but acts like nothing of the sort.

It's important because Hendon is the assistant majority leader of the Illinois Senate.

It's laughable because Hendon preaches attention to detail while misspelling the names of familiar officeholders.

It's disturbing because this mess is written by an ostensibly powerful member of our state's legislative body; it's enlightening in opening a window into the mindset of somebody who came up through a street-level, bare-knuckles culture of acquiring power lacking in the niceties of thoughtfulness about policy. Politics, to Hendon, is only about power and pork.

On the other hand, public relations visionary Hermene Hartman, also the publisher of N'DIGO, also embarrasses herself - and can't spell the name of our hometown president correctly, as we shall see.

In fact, the best thing this book has going for it is its compact size and inspired cover art (look closely; that flagstaff is a knife, albeit a butter knife).

But that doesn't mean it's not worth a look.

hendon.jpg*

Hartman's preface begins with a statement that is, um, highly questionable:

"The game of politics, the art of politics, the structure of politics is played no better in the world than in the world's most vibrant city, Chicago."

Really? Our corrupt politics are played better than anywhere else? (And Chicago is more vibrant than, well, New York? Paris? Tokyo?)

An argument could more easily be constructed placing our politics at the bottom of the barrel; our ballot shenanigans and racial divisions and ethnic rivalries and sheer cynicism of putting the fix in wherever and whenever possible. Ghost candidates, patronage armies, steady conviction rates. The best?

"Politics in Chicago is a sport," Hartman continues.

A good thing? Or sad and pathetic, if not hurtful to the lives of tens of thousands?

"Everybody plays it, from the man on the corner to the person in the corporate office."

Then why is our voter turnout so low?

"It may be the reason the city is so vibrant, unapologetically it is the place where things get done."

Things get done here? Take a look around. What things - parking meters and federal trials? (The corollary: Things don't get done anywhere else!)

"It may be the rationale for the city that works."

The city works? For whom? Because politics is a sport?

"It may be the reason for Chicago's reputation as the city with big shoulders."

Or the reason for Chicago's reputation for the city where politics is a sport. A cynical blood sport.

"It is the only place in America that could deliver a Black President."

It produced one, but it is hardly the only place that could have.

"Chicago is a city that does not trust outsiders."

We're small town.

"We welcome them but we send them on their way."

We're small-minded.

"This is a city that likes insiders, we have our way, we understand it and we like it."

We're pro-insider. That's why we're the only city in America that could produce a Black President who presented himself as an outsider.

"A political adage is 'Don't send me nobody nobody sent.'"

It's the adage that has landed many a Chicago pol in prison - and for a long time kept many a Black American off the public payroll.

"And 'Dance with the one who brung you' rings true and is a hard-core reality."

I thought that was a political adage from Texas.

*

How embarrassing for Hartman, though maybe not as embarrassing as her spelling the president's name "Barrack" both times she mentions him by name.

*

Hartman, who describes herself as "One of the most significant and influential black women in American publishing," calls this book "brilliant," which can only lead me to believe she is performing the same kind of "friend journalism" here that she has accused Sun-Times columnist Mary Mitchell of.

She also describes this book as "poignant," which perhaps it is in ways Hartman fails to grasp - as we shall see.

*

In his introduction, Hendon gives us a glimpse of the kind of rationale that is to come:

"I also lost a try for Alderman of the 27th ward; in a suicide mission that I knew I was going to lose . . . I had just won re-election to the Senate and most of my supporters wanted me to stay there.

"Besides, my contributors were tapped out from my recent race. They couldn't understand why I was running for my old job. I ran to keep my opponents in check and to send the establishment a message. I'm not saying I didn't try hard, but I wasn't angry at anyone who said he wasn't going to help me. Winning that City Council seat back would have forced me to give up my Senate seat through media pressure."

Poor Rickey Hendon.

Later he writes "I ran only in order to prove that I was willing to continue to fight my arrogant enemies, but I knew I wasn't going to win. I really did not want to go back to the City Council. My plan actually worked because they were willing to make peace after spending all that cash. We are now on cordial terms with each other."

So his plan worked! By losing he made peace with his arrogant enemies!

(Those unnamed enemies by the way? Jesse White and Ald. Walter Burnett Jr.)

*

To say Hendon's ego is inflated is to say Richard M Daley can be irritable; laughably understated.

For example:

"In the 2006 Dean Nichols-Pat Horton-Governor Rod Blagojevich race . . . "

Huh?

It turns out Nichols and Horton were candidates Hendon ran for the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District board. Their campaigns are Hendon's prime examples in this book.

The way Hendon portrays it, the whole state was breathlessly watching.

Apparently delusional thinking isn't the sole province of the governor's office.

The funny thing is that - 40 pages later - after Hendon describes the painstaking process of getting his candidates on the ballot and surviving petition challenges, he decides later that "I now needed Dean Nichols to GET OFF THE BALLOT!!"

Why?

"It was clear to me from the beginning that we could come to this point. Both of my candidates filed on the first day and were in the lottery. Nichols pulled the third top ballot position and Patricia Horton pulled the fourth spot. There are twelve candidates running.

"I was trying to cut some deals and get other elected officials to carry my candidates but most of them would only commit to one of them.

"Some people liked Nichols while others preferred Horton. There was talk about me being greedy by trying to get two at one time. This can be disastrous to an elected official or a mover and shaker. Greed is not well received and ONE IS BETTER THAN NONE. So I met with Dean Nichols and explained our situation. If Dean agreed to step down Pat Horton would move up to being third on the ballot and this would give her a much better chance to get elected."

Oy.

But that's not all.

"I caught the opposition's people checking out my sign sheets at the Board of Elections. They also requested my time sheets from my job at the Board of Review . . ."

You know, the one he held when he wasn't a state senator or running to add the city council to his duties.

No wonder we're the city that gets things done; our elected officials work several jobs at once.

(Hendon also put in a few years as "Secretary and Treasure of the Cook County Forrest preserved.)

*

Hendon's lack of self-awareness is stunning, if unsurprising.

"Some of these candidates are nuts; others are so corrupt they will stop at nothing!"

*

When Hendon writes that he was "double-crossed by the Alderman of the 29th Ward," he's referring to Ike Carothers. Everybody, it seems, double-crosses Hendon.

*

The real piece de resistance of Backstabbers, though, is Chapter 7, titled "Characters, Agents Provocateur, Idiots, And Fools." Off we go:

"When Congressman Danny Davis and I met with the heads of the Chicago Board of Education to discuss school issues in the rear of Edna's, a popular restaurant on the West Side, some fools broke into the meeting with a camera."

Oh yeah, I remember that.

"They have a little cable show here in Chicago. They got money from a couple of Republican candidates and the guy who was running against Congressman Davis, brought a camera and used video as a political tool. They were breaking up meetings and videotaping them for their cable show."

Um, sort of. I guess. Maybe they read a manuscript of your book, Rickey.

"They were telling people that we had a secret meeting at this big, popular restaurant which really doesn't make any sense because if we were going to have a secret meeting we wouldn't have it in an open popular place."

Except it was a secret meeting - with school board president Michael Scott and school CEO Arne Duncan present. And Davis called the police.

But that wasn't the end of it.

"Since these people successfully broke up this very important meeting, I planned another meeting at my Senate office. I also went on the radio and told the community our side of the story. I knew as we went forward with the community meeting about our schools, they were going to show up. So I got all my tough guys and put them at the door and outside the office and refused to let them in."

He got all his tough guys! To prevent folks from a community meeting!

Rickey, listen to yourself.

"Since the Rodney King video some people made a determination that video taping is the means to an end."

What?!!!

Later, Hendon writes that "The same ones who interrupted the meeting we held to try to save our schools had threatened to kill Congressman Danny K. Davis and they followed him wherever he went in order to intimidate him."

I kinda think that if identifiable people following a United States congressman around town made death threats against him, arrests would have been imminent. I have found evidence of no such thing and Hendon doesn't provide any.

*

Backstabbers is not without practical advice. Always provide stamps when rustling up absentee voters, for example. But for all his attention to detail - which colors to use on a poster - Hendon went to press with these misspellings:

- Jessie White (Correct: Jesse)
- Cheryl Jackson (Cheryle)
- Chewie Garcia (Chuy)
- Miguel DeValles (del Valle)
- Donnie Trotter (Donne)
- Natasha Thomas (Latasha)
- Deborah Shore (Debra)
- Judy Barr Topinka (Baar)

*

But back to backstabbing.

"In my most recent race for Lieutenant Governor I formed an alliance with a powerful Hispanic organization. I kept my end of the bargain, but they played games and did not help me. They lied and still act as if they kept their word. So much for the black and brown coalition in Illinois."

UNO?

*

Hendon also had a falling out with Frank Avila Jr.

*

"I was never able to find out who stole my PC with all my fundraising information on it. We raised the reward to $300 and it still didn't show up."

Gee, Rickey, why didn't you try $300.50?

*

Why waste time with a clown like Hendon? Well, as I said (and he said), he is the assistant majority leader of the State Senate. And he's adept at playing with our money. No such clown should be overlooked.

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See also:
* Rickey Hendon Could Become Governor

* Money For Nothing, Campus for Free

* Hollywood Hendon's After-School Specials

* Jesus is waiting for you, Rickey.

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From The Papers:
* Feb. 23, 2007: "[State Sen. Rickey] Hendon, a former county employee and longtime political supporter of [Bobbie] Steele's, resigned his county job Sept. 5 and was signed to a contract the next day that doubled his monthly paycheck, records show," the Sun-Times reports.

* Aug. 19, 2008: State Sen. Ricky Hendon (D-Chicago), now vying for the presidency of the Illinios Senate, told Carol Marin last night on Chicago Tonight that "maybe three groups did it incorrectly out of a hundred" when she questioned him about a recent education grant scandal. In fact, Hendon bragged about what he called a 97 percent success rate.

But that's not what the facts show.

"[A] Tribune investigation found that nearly half of the 48 groups that got money this past school year were running dubious programs, or declined to show how they spent the money. Only 11 of the grants went to established programs with a history of tutoring or mentoring school-age children," the paper reported last month.

"All of the questionable projects share the same sponsor: West Side Sen. Rickey Hendon (D-Chicago), who awarded many grants to campaign workers and donors, the investigation found."

* Jan. 8, 2009: Chicago Tonight last night featured a segment with Mary Hayes, the one-time deputy attorney general under Roland Burris who resigned because he insisted on letting an innocent man face the death penalty, and state Rep. Rickey "Hollywood" Hendon (D-Chicago, natch). From my notes:

HAYES: When Roland Burris was the attorney general, we had a crisis in a death penalty case . . . I had secured a promise ahead of time [before taking the job] that his door would be open. He assured me that his door would be open for questions. I quickly found it was not open at all. He would not discuss the case with me . . . I was never allowed to discuss the mater with him . . . I wrote numerous memos . . . Mr. Burris failed to recognize what was right and what was wrong.

HENDON: Perhaps he made a mistake at that time . . . [argues that Illinois needs two U.S. senators, as if we'll be left with just one if Burris isn't allowed to take the job]

HENDON: I would have accepted it if [Blagojevich] had offered it to me. I told congressman Davis he should have accepted it . . . I'm just keeping it on the up-and-up with the people of the state.

* Sept. 1, 2009: State Sen. Rickey Hendon (D-Chicago) appeared on Chicago Tonight last night to defend putting $40 million into the governor's capital bill for a West Side campus that Chicago State University has neither asked nor planned for.

"Poppycock!" Hendon said.

Hendon said he's been to meetings, a committee already exists, and "This story has been in the paper at least 10 times."

Yes. But there is no plan and CSU didn't ask for the money.

Shouldn't there be a plan in place - even, you know, a budget - before money is appropriated?

"There is a planning committee that's been meeting for two years," Hendon said.

Yes. And they still don't have a plan.

Hendon explained that he originally asked former Senate President Emil Jones (D-Chicago State) to pony up some dough. Jones only offered $10 million.

"You can't even build a house for $10 million these days!" Hendon said.

*

This One Goes Out To You, Rickey

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:09 AM | Permalink

August 9, 2010

20 Tweets: John Cusack

Hot tub tweet machine.

1. yes sir.. @mikesayswhat about 6 hours ago via TweetDeck

2. anyone have any info on edgar allan poe what he was like? about 6 hours ago via TweetDeck

3. @SusanaKennedy what is? 7:19 AM Aug 7th via TweetDeck in reply to SusanaKennedy

4. me too.RT @MinouChatte: "We are at war with our own hearts. Love is a cease-fire thats destined to fail." 2:53 AM Aug 5th via TweetDeck

5. here you go amy! 2:45 AM Aug 5th via TweetDeck

6. rt @This_isAmy101-- http://www.twitvid.com/JIRAY -- 2:44 AM Aug 5th via TweetDeck

7. @This_isAmy101 sure -- sounds great.. Can u do it? 12:12 AM Aug 4th via TweetDeck

8. @kickcows i do like it! 12:59 PM Aug 3rd via TweetDeck in reply to kickcows

9. @johncusack - I saw this and thought you may enjoy this picture. http://www.thinkmogul.com/photos/photo72.jpg 12:46 PM Aug 3rd via web Retweeted by johncusack and 100+ others

10. stone cold truth... http://nyti.ms/cU6BpU 2:25 AM Aug 3rd via TweetDeck

11. @grizzlybottoms nk yuou sir! 2:16 AM Aug 3rd via TweetDeck in reply to grizzlybottoms

12. @HateEngine absolutely 2:14 AM Aug 3rd via TweetDeck in reply to HateEngine

13. Hey @johncusack ...thought it was pretty cool you had a "gonzo" type moment in hot tub time machine.personal tribute to an old friend? 1:12 AM Aug 3rd via twidroid Retweeted by johncusack and 5 others

14. @Griffering yes.. 2:13 AM Aug 3rd via TweetDeck in reply to Griffering

15. where with war inc i knew i had to make it but wish i didnt have to.. and knew it would be attacked.. 12:14 AM Aug 3rd via TweetDeck

16. that was kind of the point i felt like i wasnt supposed to make httm but i did.. it felt so wrong it was right.. 12:13 AM Aug 3rd via TweetDeck

17. @johncusack @robcorddry i feel like i wasn't supposed to like Hot Tub Time Machine. but i did. thanks for the laughs. we needed them. 11:57 PM Aug 2nd via TweetDeck Retweeted by johncusack and 8 others

18. love me some elvis.. 12:12 AM Aug 3rd via TweetDeck

19. Elvis Costello - Peace Love And Understanding (2004) http://youtu.be/-3ZXdvN3orA @JohnCusack. P.S yer war inc-ers aren't big on httm. 11:44 PM Aug 2nd via web Retweeted by johncusack and 8 others

20. i noticed that really rich people have romantic longings for " a normal" life--as soon as they lose there money - want to be special quick 1:25 AM Aug 2nd via TweetDeck

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Previously in 20 Tweets:
* 20 Tweets: Richard Roeper
* 20 Tweets: Pete Wentz
* 20 Tweets: Billy Corgan
* 20 Tweets: Billy Dec
* 20 Tweets: Jeremy Piven
* 20 Tweets: Billy Dec Olympic Edition
* 20 Tweets: Bill Rancic
* 20 Tweets: Patti Blagojevich
* 20 Tweets: Stedman Graham
* 20 Tweets: Oprah

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:43 AM | Permalink

SportsMonday: Bears Preview

What we need is a preseason checklist: 1. Make fun of Bears offense in general. 2. Make fun of Jay Cutler's interceptions in particular. 3. Make fun of Bears defense in general. 3. Make fun of Bear defender . . . nah, let's make it "Make fun of Brett Favre." On second thought, I think we'll have to make that, "Make fun of the people who have been making fun of Brett Favre."

Then again in this space, we always look for reasons for optimism - especially before the games start. And there is one gigantic reason for Bears fans to have a shiny, happy feeling when looking forward to fall Sundays: Julius Peppers. It is already clear that the defensive end the Bears signed for gigantic dollars in the offseason isn't just good enough to pile up sacks, he's good enough to enable multiple teammates to pile up sacks.

If he can stay healthy, he will force opponents to game plan for him in particular. And the Bears haven't had a defender like that since Brian Urlacher was at his sideline-to-sideline best earlier this decade.

Peppers' abilities might even enable the Bears to overcome their unbelievable unwillingness yet again to make a significant upgrade at safety. More on that later in the inevitable slide back toward pessimism.

This team is working on a streak of three failed seasons in a row, after all, and yet still hasn't been willing to bring in any new managers who matter, i.e. a new head coach or a replacement for any of his direct supervisors.

And so we start with the offense. I love the concept that offensive line coaching superstar Mike Tice will make a big difference. Sure he will - just like Rod Marinelli made such a big difference working with the Bears' defensive line last year. And you might ask the Cubs how hiring superstar hitting coach Rudy Jaramillo is working out.

You either have the horses or you don't. The big question for the Bears is whether Lance Louis is a horse. If he can step in at right guard and be a physical presence, he can make Frank Omiyale's shortcomings as a run blocker less glaring. After last year's failed experiment at guard, Omiyale has moved back to right tackle this preseason and it is clearly his best position.

If the line can't protect Cutler, the interceptions will pile up again. But even if Cutler is being sacked three or four times a game, there can't be a return to the ridiculousness of last year's 26 picks, the third highest single-season interception total for any NFL quarterback in the last 15 years.

Plenty of Cutler's picks were due to pressure in 2009, but plenty more were due to pique. You could just see Cutler entering brat mode and firing stupid passes in the vicinity of receivers who "should" have been open but weren't. If it wasn't sub-standard receivers holding Cutler back, it was a sub-standard game plan.

Well the game plan excuse is out the window now. Cutler could not have asked for a smarter offensive coordinator more committed to an aggressive passing attack than Mike Martz. I am actually not optimistic about the Bears' chances in general but I am optimistic about Cutler improving. The thing I come back to is his undeniable intelligence. And Cutler knows that more than anything this year, he needs to avoid the big mistakes that demoralize his team and make the lowlight reels.

As for the Bears defense, well, the front seven will clearly be better but I don't see how anyone can be confident about the secondary covering anyone. Peanut Tillman is old. Zachary Bowman has yet to prove he can stay healthy for a whole season, let along be an impact corner. And who the hell knows who is going to play safety for this team.

You can justify trying to save a few bucks at a few positions (most teams do so at safety first on defense and at guard on offense) when salary cap concerns exist. But there is no cap this year. So there is no excuse for Jerry Angelo adding only a draft pick (Major Wright) to the safety corps this year. Does Chris Harris really count as an addition? We've seen what he could do a few years ago before the Bears traded him away to Carolina and if I'm not mistaken it was pretty clear to Lovie and everyone else that he wasn't good enough.

The Bears primary addition at safety last season was also a rookie. Is Al Afalava, who began last season as the starter, still even on the roster? Atrocious.

Finally, folks do love dumping on Brett Favre don't they? And his end-of-career "will he retire or won't he?" dance has gone on about 100 times longer than usual. But the guy believed he could still play when Green Bay pushed him out in 2008 and he was good with the Jets until late-season injuries dragged him down. And then last year all he did was throw 33 touchdowns versus only seven picks.

All sorts of folks were all over all sorts of media last week talking about how Favre has "held the Vikings hostage" with his indecision about whether to play this year. Except it isn't indecision - it is the standard aftermath of an injury, in this case, an ankle injury.

Also, this notion that if Favre had communicated better, the Vikings would have signed another quarterback during the offseason is farcical. The guy is 40 years old! You need to have at least one back-up plan, if not several. If the Vikings feel they need a different quarterback than Tarvaris Jackson to contend for the Super Bowl this year if Favre can't go, they of course should have signed one regardless of what Favre was telling them.

Ah, football. Other than ever-mounting evidence that an ever-growing cross section of players significantly damage their brains during the routine activities involved in playing the game, other than the relatively tiny qualms that result from that information, is there a more entertaining and stimulating pastime than following this great game of ours?

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Jim "Coach" Coffman brings you SportsMonday (nearly) every Monday in this space. He welcomes your comments.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:03 AM | Permalink

I'm With Whitney

I am sick of Illinois politics as we know it today! Blind abeyance to massive debt and unbalanced budgets are now the norm. This well entrenched corrupt political system has only expanded in the 39 years since my coming to Chicago in 1971.

So, I'm going to do something to work for change. I've decided a third party is a viable option. I'm volunteering with the Green Party doing media for the Rich Whitney candidacy for governor. Whitley is a civil rights lawyer from Carbondale is the Green Party's candidate for governor.

In the latest poll he was at nine percent of the vote. In 2006 he received 10 percent of the statewide vote.

As you know I have been a Democrat all my life. I have voted for a few Republicans along the way. The two usual party candidates for governor are dismal at best. One, Bill Brady, the Republican was born with the word NO on the tip of his tongue. Pat Quinn the Democratic incumbent and a friend for 25 years has become a disappointment since he took over from the disgraced former Governor Rod Blagojevich. Unfortunately Pat has moved away from previous positions that had formed our friendship. He's just another Springfield politician now.

So, I intend to do what I can for Whitney to make him more of a viable candidate that could result in his being Illinois' next governor.

As you might guess there is little money. But the Green Party's positions on issues are very good. You can see for yourself. You would want them in charge of the environment, social services and democracy in general. The Greens are that fresh breath of air this state so desperately needs.

Some of you may ask, well, is Doug just going to help elect Bill Brady as governor by taking votes away from Quinn?

No, that is not the case. In the 85 days left to the November 2nd election I will work hard to elect Rich Whitney governor. And only hard work will make the change Illinois needs.

I invite you to join me in that effort as volunteers with the campaign. The only way for Rich Whitney to win is for people to move away from the same-old same-old to a new way of action.

Send me your name, your area of expertise and contact information and I will forward it to the campaign manager.

As always, I invite your thoughts and comments.

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See also:
* The [Dobmeyer] Papers

-

Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:56 AM | Permalink

The [Monday] Papers

1. Gov. Quinn inspires us with his reformist leadership once again.

2. "Pat Quinn the Democratic incumbent and a friend for 25 years has become a disappointment since he took over from the disgraced former Governor Rod Blagojevich," writes longtime social services advocate Doug Dobmeyer. "Unfortunately Pat has moved away from previous positions that had formed our friendship. He's just another Springfield politician now."

3. Daley Donor Bounced $884,509 In Checks To City Hall.

Or, the strange saga of Fred Latsko, the former driver for legendary Bear quarterback Sid Luckman who once bought a $7 million farm from Oprah and whose criminal record was once erased by Rod Blagojevich.

4. "Did you just hear that loud POP?" Prescott Carlson writes at Chicagoist.

"That was the anti-government pension types' collective heads exploding when they found out that Roy McCampbell, a former village administrator in Bellwood, is now collecting a pension of $252,689 a year - the highest in the state - after boosting his salary to $472,255 his last year before his retirement.

"According to a Chicago Tribune report, McCampbell achieved that feat by assigning himself 10 different job titles.

"Even without that supposed gaming of the system, McCampbell still would have been able to retire at age 55 with a cushy $180,000 a year pension. For sake of comparison, former U.S. Presidents currently receive a pension of $191,300 per year."

5. One of my favorite columnists, Kristen McQueary, checks out tea partiers in one of the more thoughtful takes you will find.

6. Morgan Stanley's $11 Billion Makes Chicago Taxpayers Cry.

Who's the redistributionist now?

7. 10 Little Known Facts About Chicago Facebook Users.

8. Illinois Man Changes His Name To "One Nation Under God."

Is he now also indivisible?

9. FEMA To Tour Cook, DuPage Homes for Flood Damage Today.

10. Cubs Continue To Explore New Depths In Futility.

If I had a nickel for every time I've seen that headline in my lifetime . . . I'd be rich enough to buy the Cubs.

NOTE: The Cub Factor will appear on Tuesday this week.

11. The Cage Match Is On.

Here come the Twins.

12. The Bears Are Back.

Sort of.

Maybe.

13. From John Cusack's Hot Tub Tweet Machine.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Not a volunteer day.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 4:09 AM | Permalink

August 8, 2010

The Cage Match Is On

So here we go.

The Twins sit one game back in the loss column but tied with the Sox in the win column.

Mark Kotsay is still the designated hitter despite repeatedly showing he can't hit, his contributions moving closer and closer to winning this year's Grindy McGrinderstad award for Outstanding Achievement By An Inexplicably Overused And Overvalued Veteran Who Plays The Game The Right Way Except When It Comes To Hitting And Fielding.

Bobby Jenks is probably still the closer, even if he's hurt and can't close games and even while J.J. Putz is pitching like a 2007 version of J.J. Putz or, even better, a 2006 version of Bobby Jenks that didn't worry so much about proving he could pitch with "finesse" and "control" but rather came in and brutalized the enemy with air-scorching fastballs and curveballs that actually curved.

Twins pitching rests entirely on the resurrected arm of Francisco Liriano and the fraudulent, perpetual contract audition of Carl Pavano.

Justin Morneau, leading contender for American League MVP at the time of injury, might not be the same hitter once (read: if) he comes back.

The Twins brought aboard a fine reliever from trading season while all signs indicate the Sox may have done the same with their new starter.

Two similarly flawed teams somehow becoming the division's class-by-default. Two clubs with major problems. Two rosters full of serious holes. And with that, let the annual A.L. Central low-rent cage match begin!

Week in Review: Inverse. Take three of four from the allegedly good Tigers, but drop two of three to the expectedly mediocre Orioles.

Week in Preview: Centralized, as the Good Guys finish up in Baltimore, then stack a six-game homestand with three apiece against the Twins and Tigers.

Hawkeroo's Can-O-Corn Watch: "There's a school of thought, and I agree with this, that says consistently starting out with a 1-0 count, 2-0, even a 3-0 count can be a sign of a good pitcher, because that gets the batter thinking he's got it all figured out, then you can sneak a slider on the corner there and suddenly you look up and it's a full count, or it's a 3-1 the batter doesn't know what to do with. And you see Freddy out there, Edwin when he was with Detroit, Nick Blackburn in Minnesota, Greg Maddux, Alex Fernandez when we had him, that's what great pitchers do is keep batters thinking they've got a thing, when really it's just a case of knowing what that thing is."

Gordon Beckham Hall of Fame Update: Gordon Beckham injury scares brought on by displays of defensive wizardry this weekend: one. Jim Thome injury scares brought on by displays of defensive wizardry this weekend: zero. Advantage: Beckham.

Alumni News You Can Use: Former White Sox pitching prospect Daniel Hudson defeated former White Sox laid-back dude Jon Garland Friday night in a showdown for the ages.

The "H" in "DH" Stands For: How, as in "How does Mark Kotsay still have a job as a full-time designated hitter?"

The Q Factor: The assistant turns the dial on the pitching machine up to 60. "It's not a case of (WHAM!) division rivals per se," he says, watching the ball float towards the warning track. "Now 70, Ronnie. The larger goal is to distance ourselves, be it from the Twins, Tigers (WHAM!) whoever we have to." The ball tears through the outfield air and into the left-field bleachers. "Gimme 85, Ronnie." The assistant nods. "They need to know we're not just here to win (WHAM!) or even win big. But we've got larger ambitions than what people think. (WHAM!) Let's try 95 now, Ronnie." The assistant turns the dial again. "Runs, victories, they're nice (POW!) but it's a pursuit of balancing what we play with how we play. (POW!)" He takes a step out of the batter's box, first watching the ball bounce mightily off the scoreboard, then examining his wrists as he tightens his gloves. He signals to the mound. The assistant moves the dial to 105. "Are we scoring runs? (BOOM!) Of course we are, and if we weren't I would make it so. But how are our opponents (BOOM!) leaving the field?" In the distance, the sound of breaking glass. He signals again to the mound. The assistant sighs and sets the machine to 120. Maximum velocity. "We don't just want to take the game (KA-BOOM!). We want their pride, their future, their hope (BOOOOOOOM!). Without those, wins mean nothing." Somewhere across the Dan Ryan, a series of sirens kick on; before we can even ask him how he did that, Carlos Quentin is gone.

The Guillen Meter: His heart in the right place but his words falling just a bit short, the Guillen Meter reads 79.8 for "And don't even get me started on white people."

Endorsement No-Brainer: Gordon Beckham for the George C. Scott remake of Hans Moleman's Man Getting Hit By Football: Argh, my groin!

Cubs Snub: Former Greatest Pitcher Ever and 2003 World Series MVP Mark Prior threw a scoreless inning Saturday for the Independent League's Orange County Flyers. A non-simulated inning, even. Also: fifth place is a "W"ay of life. Lemme hear ya, Cub fans.

The White Sox Report: Read 'em all.

The Cub Factor: It's funny because it's true.

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The White Sox Report welcomes your comments.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 5:13 PM | Permalink

August 7, 2010

The Weekend Desk Report

Apparently the North Side is being stalked by wild animals again, but that won't stop us watching the key stories for you.

Market Update
The assets of the blue chip Alphabetic Grading System suffered heavy hits this week when it was revealed they had been repeatedly short-sold. Taking into account the arbitrary manner in which top assets have been distributed, Fitch Ratings has downgraded AGS's rating from "Super Fantastic Plus" to just plain "Super Fantastic."

One Man's Ceiling . . .
When officials with AGS were asked to give a cap for their asset valuation - something along the lines of "AAAA++" perhaps - they balked. "If we tried to set a ceiling on the Chicago exchange, someone would just try to climb in through it," one official was quoted as saying.

. . . Is Another Man's Floor
China's culture minister has expressed his displeasure with the country's mass media and popular culture, branding them "vulgar" and "vanity projects." Damn, in Illinois that qualifies you to be governor.

Mayor Disappointment
The newly installed mayor of Reykjavik, Iceland, has apparently fundamentally misunderstood his mandate. You're supposed to be a total drag not totally show up in drag.

Apple Polisher
When asked to assess Gov. Quinn's plan to balance the state's budget by taking in less revenue, Fitch Ratings awarded the plan its highly pessimistic AAA- rating.

Drink Green
Finally this week, Starbucks has taken the concept of health food to a new low by declaring their green coffee low-calorie fruit juice. Look at the bright side: at least they won't be able to over-roast the beans this time.

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The Weekend Desk Tip Line: Super Fantastic.

Posted by Natasha Julius at 8:02 AM | Permalink

August 6, 2010

The Week in WTF

1. Tribune Company, WTF?

We here at WTF are enjoying the heck out of that giant, greasy slime ball that just landed on Tribune's doorstep.

Schadenfreude is such an underappreciated vice.

2. Tribune Clydesdales, WTF?

Of hundreds of former titled Tribunites, maybe dozens - or at least one or two - are swell folks who were dedicated, honest and smart. (How smart? Just ask them). But it does seem like many bigwigs have survived in exile to run new journalistic-related operations. Some show up on TV pretending to be experts. Others do PR for companies they used to smirk at. One big Trib hotdog now works as a college "vice president of civic engagement." WTF, really.

WTF's chief correspondent once worked for Conrad Black and David Radler, in addition to several others with even less human DNA, so we know how you can get trapped inadvertently with vermin.

But the way-too-many-titles-at-the-top-of-the-pyramid exiles created a Tribune just good enough to be Sam Zell roadkill (with the help of many suits), and they just won't go away. Ever, it seems. And what stories do they plan to tell now that are different from the ones they wouldn't cover before?

Take ex-newsroom Big Cheese Jim O'Shea, founder of a Tribune-in-exile outfit called the Chicago News Cooperative and suddenly an expert in innovative Internet journalism that he snubbed when he ran the Trib. O'Shea claims a five-year plan to wean his operation from freebie grants. We call it Baggie asphyxiation.

Or O'Shea sidekick James Warren, who always seems to have some title though you can never quite tell what his job is.

Most recently, he was a Chicago News Co-op columnist who ran the Reader in his spare time.

When that proved a bad fit, the Reader turned to disgruntled ex-Tribune reporter Geoff Dougherty (and believe WTF, the disgruntlement went both ways) to bring over the same magic that made the Chi-Town Daily News and Chicago Current such successes.

Let's just say Dougherty has created some uncomfortable waves on the "reliability scale." Good luck there, my alternative journo pals.

So what are we suggesting? Basically, if this is the best aging newsroom Clydesdales can manage in their "next life phase," just beat it. Scram. Get in a real game or cash out your chips. Go save the world from starvation. Go carry malaria medicine to Africa. Go teach a junior high English class. Adopt a handicapped kid. Maybe two. Go actually do something that matters. Let's see if you've got any real stuff in your marrow. What-THE-EF. Stop being so damned pathetic.

3. Fried eggs and ham, WTF?

Does anybody but us wonder if Jon Burge laments that he had to retire 20 years too early now that he could be using a Taser on everyone he encountered?

Yes, we now that Tasers don't normally kill the recipient, but they do deliver excruciating pain which, as we recall, was just the motivational tool that Burge preferred. Plus, isn't excruciating pain a punishment? If courts administered 50,000 volts for misdemeanors, someone would claim it was cruel and inhumane punishment. Which, of course, it is.

Anyway, Chicago police are frying suspects at an alarming rate. But they don't appear to be stopping anyone who Glocks the kid down the street. WTF.

4. Lake County State's Attorney, WTF?

Lake County finally freed Jerry Hobbs after five years in jail for a double murder and no trial.They did this because, well, he's clearly innocent and even Lake County State's Attorney Michael Waller couldn't think of a defensible reason to ignore DNA. Waller said Wednesday that Hobbs' release shows "the system works." WTF?

What's going to work even more efficiently is a civil liability trial that earns Hobbs about $50 million. Just a guess. They'll have to pay that to avoid their own trial. Can you see the ironical circular twist to the universe?. Yeah, me too.

5. Sun-Times Sports, WTF

The Sun-Times's online sports operation, or as we used to call it, The Ringling Brothers Clown Car, has struck again.

Sure, rumors of payoffs to college athletes often turn out to be true. But merely posting the rumor even has sports bloggers (yikes) in a righteous uproar. And when sports bloggers question your cred, it's a WTF blow to pride.

As Jason Robards says in All the President's Men, get us some harder information next time.

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David Rutter is the former publisher/editor of the Lake County News-Sun, a Sun-Times Media property.

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Comments welcome.

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Previously in The Week in WTF:
* TWIWTF: Walter Jacobson, Mark Kirk, the Sun-Times
* TWIWTF: Conrad Murray, Jim Laski, Notre Dame Nation
* TWIWTF: Chris Zorich, Eddie and Jobo, Blago.
* TWIWTF: Burge, Zambrano, Tyree
* TWIWTF: Pundits, LeBron James, Lake County
* TWIWTF: Stroger, Transformers, Six Flags
* TWIWTF: Blago, Channel 2, Cubs
* TWIWTF: Blago, Tribune, Big Z

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Also by David Rutter:
* The Lords of Ireland.

* Speaking of Notre Dame . . .

* Scheduling Notre Dame.

* Spade Robs Farley's Grave.

* Gov. Fester.

* Black Talks, Zell Walks.

* Roeper's Games.

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Plus:
* An excerpt from Rutter's Olga's War

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 5:11 AM | Permalink

TrackNotes: Bet Bug

It wouldn't be the end of the world. Really.

The cessation of Thoroughbred horse racing in my life would certainly be a void, but I can report is hasn't happened - yet.

But after a confrontation with that very possibility in the past two weeks, I can say for sure the game will never be the same to me again.

It's an abusive relationship, that of the racing industry toward its lifeblood, the horseplayer. Rather than get its house in order, the oldest sport in America relentlessly inflicts pain upon its customers, sometimes sharp and cutting, sometimes dull and fatiguing. Whatever, they're pushing the perceptive fans away.

The latest aggravation came on the eve of the opening of the legendary Saratoga and Del Mar racing meets, when we here in Illinois found out that we would not be able to use our advance deposit wagering (ADW) accounts to bet on these two prestigious meets, as well as a number of others, including Calder, Evangeline Downs, Laurel, Lone Star, Los Alamitos, Louisiana Downs, Ohio 7&7, Presque Isle Downs, River Downs, Sacramento, Sam Houston, and Santa Rosa.

While Del Mar is most definitely a suffering part of the beleaguered California racing industry, it is still the West Coast's premier summer racing venue. Saratoga, in the opinion of many, including me, is the year's finest racing meet, offering a schedule that showcases many of the best horses in the nation and determines to a large degree the pecking order going into the Breeders' Cup.

So coming into the meets, we learn we're shut out in Illinois from wagering on premier summer racing, unless we go to the track or an OTB. It's a very complicated issue, but I'll give it a shot.

Advance deposit wagering companies like my two, TwinSpires.com and YouBet.com, are charged a (negotiated) fee by tracks outside of Illinois to procure their signal and wagering capabilities for residents in Illinois. This fee can be anywhere from the capped 3.5% in California to 10% or more of the amount bet on that track. (These restrictions do not apply at the track or at an off-track facility; those are different arrangements.)

The Illinois Racing Board recently passed its own a cap on that fee, limiting it to 5%. So a track like Saratoga, which might have been charging 8% for Illinois bettors to wager on it through an ADW, refused to lower its negotiated percentage. The ADWs and tracks, unwilling to eat the difference, cut off Illinois bettors from wagering at several tracks, including Saratoga and Del Mar. Blame the IRB.

The racing board's argument is that any money over the 5% that would have been taken by the ADW to pay off Saratoga stays here, instead going to the horsemen and, ideally, purses for Illinois races. Higher purses means better racing here.

"These interstate fees come largely from revenues that would otherwise be paid to Illinois horsemen in the form of purses on Illinois races," the board says in a statement posted to its website. "The purpose for the cap on interstate fees is to preserve and promote the interests of Illinois horsemen and Illinois racing relative to other states."

The IRB appears to be doing whatever it can to support struggling Illinois purse levels. The ADWs are taking out a cut to pay out-of-state tracks and a cut for themselves. As those cuts get bigger, our local purses suffer greatly, which helps explain the low quality of racing in Illinois. I believe the IRB is merely demonstrating stewardship here, but not doing anything constructive.

But how could the IRB not know that the ADWs would cut off Illinois players from out-of-state tracks? That's how they operate. On the very surface, IRB's action was proprietary. But it certainly did not take players into consideration.

If it wanted to drive Illinois players to Illinois tracks or OTBs, it's hard to see how that would work. It's not easy for all players to get to a facility. Perhaps it figured computer players would be content to sit out these tracks and transfer their handle to other tracks. I am not one of those players. In fact, one of my reactionary tactics has been to play on the phone even while attending the OTB to avoid the 3.5% ripoff cut Illinois OTBs take out of every winning ticket.

The decision hurts handle, and that's never good.

The industry has not adequately evolved from the days when making a bet meant going to the track. The ADW-related cut is not taken from a bet on an Arlington race placed at Arlington or an Illinois OTB, so that portion ostensibly goes right back into the purse structure.

But the vast majority of racing wagering is done either through simulcasting outlets - OTBs - or, more increasingly, through ADWs. Name me another industry that has had so much trouble acclimating to technology. Global video and wagering access, in the world of technology, is really a no-brainer. They just can't agree on the money.

A corporation like Churchill Downs Inc. (CDI) does well because it runs both ADWs and tracks. Profits are being redistributed in the industry and tracks that don't have something, like continued decent handle, a huge day like the Kentucky Derby, or casino subsidies, are struggling. In the case of Arlington Park, the corporation is at least partially subsidizing it.

Hawthorne Race Course is struggling to maintain live racing, and its biggest revenue stream is in simulcasting - acting as an OTB.

The vortex of issues and problems that the game is incapable of addressing or solving is so complex that any discussion breaks down into "yeah, but what about this?" or "yeah, what about that?" This is on both the big-picture and a state-by-state levels.

Yes, racing, as it has been known, is dying. There will be a Darwinian-esque shakeout and it will be ugly and painful.

In this specific situation, it was yet another indignity for a horseplayer. I don't want to play Charles Town, Mountaineer, the Podunk County Fair summer meet or even Arlington Park much. On the computer at home or on the smartphone, I want to play Saratoga. I want to play Del Mar. I rarely can get to the OTB or the track.

So I had to take action.

I reduced one of my accounts to subsistence level. I maintained another account because I was able to use it last weekend for the Haskell Invitational at Monmouth. I'll probably take that down to a minimum balance very soon.

And I found an alternative that I can't really go into. This alternative appreciates my business, rewards my efforts and communicates with me on matters other than further draining my wallet.

I've already scaled back significantly on the dollars I push through the window. Maybe I take it too personally, but when you feel pushed away and there are real dollars involved, you retreat. You pick your spots.

The IRB makes a finger-in-the-dike, parochial decision completely ignoring Illinois players. ADWs like TwinSpires and YouBet react predictably to protect its margins.

I look it as an entire industry. All I know is that the industry tried to shut me out of wagering on my favorite racing. Now, they won't see my dollars at all.

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Thomas Chambers is our man on the rail. He brings you TrackNotes (nearly) every Friday. He welcomes your comments.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:28 AM | Permalink

Inside The Blago Jury

What they've really been doing all this time.

* Arguing about the finale of Lost.

* Leash training the courtroom cat.

* Waiting for Paul the World Cup octopus to quit dicking around on Priceline.com for a flight out of Berlin.

* Writing Yelp reviews of every downtown restaurant that delivers lunch.

* Playing the world's longest game of Rock Paper Scissors.

* Haggling with book agents and movie studios.

* Waiting for the defendant to testify.

* Reminiscing about the time they convicted George Ryan.

* Trying to figure out which one of them is Keyser Soze.

* Waiting for judge to respond to request for transcript of Blago's appearance on Celebrity Apprentice.

* Waiting for Apple to approve Poll The Jury iPhone app.

* Trying to convince Henry Fonda to change his vote.

- Scott Buckner, Matt Farmer, Athenae, Beachwood Mark, Paul Clark, Steve Rhodes

Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:17 AM | Permalink

The [Friday] Papers

1. I was tipped to these Chandler Bigelow nuggets:

"His mother is the director of Chateau des Enfants, a private school in Lugano, Switzerland," his New York Times wedding announcement reports. "His father is a vice president at the Cronheim Mortgage Company in Morristown, N.J."

And:

"Encouraged by former Tribune Chairman John Madigan, a family friend, he applied for an entry-level job in Tribune's finance group in 1998," Crain's reports.

Too perfect.

2. I won't use names because I didn't ask permission, but this came over my Facebook Feed yesterday:

[JOHN DOE] is wondering whether this Lake Shore Drive traffic jam is Obama's fault.

Comments:

On Fox News it is

It isn't his fault but once it happened he just stood back and figured private enterprise would untangle the mess on their own.

No. Blame it on Bush.

I'd be happy to attach names to anyone who wants to claim well-deserved credit.

3. Black Crowes Interview Series Shows How To Market Music.

4. "Even city lawyers are now conceding that Chicago's parking meter deal amounted to a sale of public property," Mick Dumke reports for the Chicago News Cooperative.

"In the nearly 18 months since Mayor Richard M. Daley's administration handed off day-to-day management of the meters - and the millions of dollars in revenues they produce every month - city officials have stressed that the public still owns the street parking system. They've said that the city merely forged a 'public-private partnership' with Chicago Parking Meters LLC by entering into a 'concession agreement' for the next 75 years.

"'The concession agreement is an agreement to operate the meter system over 75 years,' Gene Saffold, the city's chief financial officer, said last year. 'It is neither a sale nor a lease.'

"But in a recent court filing city attorneys describe CPM as the owner of the meters, even as they characterize the deal as a boon to local taxpayers.

"'The fact that the Concessionaire now owns the parking meters and receives the meter fees does not eliminate the public benefits,' attorneys write in a motion to dismiss a lawsuit challenging the legality of the deal."

*

Last week, Dumke and Dan Mihalopoulos reported that "financial documents raise new questions about whether the city negotiated the best deal it could for leasing away one of its most lucrative assets. Chicago Parking Meters is on track to take in more than $73 million in 2010, according to Standard & Poor's, one of the agencies. That is more than three times the roughly $20 million a year that the city had reaped from its meters before the privatization deal."

But bear in mind that the parking meter controversy isn't just about whether the city could have struck a better deal; it's about what's in the public interest. And it just might be in the public interest that meter rates are set not just to maximize profit, but with other factors like the impact on small neighborhood businesses and life's little conveniences for residents as well as the kind of accountability that (at least theoretically) comes with public ownership.

In any case, I think the meter mess has become such a flashpoint for the mayor not just because of the extra cost of parking but because it so epitomizes the way he does business in a way that makes all us feel like chumps.

5. "City workers have been attempting to catch an alligator that was seen on the Chicago River banks on the North Side Thursday," reports.

6. Free Carvel Ice Cream Cake Cups at Tribune Tower.

Bankruptcy judge orders Chandler Bigelow's private stock liquidated.

7. What's really going on inside the Blago jury room.

8. The Illinois Racing Board shoots itself in the hoof.

9. A Tribune two-fer in The Week in WTF.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Delivering verdicts daily.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:17 AM | Permalink

August 5, 2010

The [Thursday] Papers

Welcome back to The Chandler Bigelow Show.

Today's episode: Cash Flow Is For Closers.

Let's watch.

"Although only confidence flowed from deal participants in 2007, the report shows that what held the complex, two-stage transaction together was mostly fear of getting sued if it fell apart," the Tribune reports.

"The banks that had agreed to finance the deal wanted out, the documents show, and in the offices of Sam Zell, the Chicago real estate magnate who orchestrated the LBO, debate ensued over whether to bail."

Wow. No wonder Zell put so little of his money into the deal; he had little faith in it. But then, neither did anyone else at the table.

"With just hours before the planned close of the $8.2 billion buyout of Tribune Co., the market is still jittery about the transaction, with the stock trading at a large spread to the final $34-per share offer price," Dennis K. Berman reported at the time for the Wall Street Journal. "Despite some deep worries from the banks funding the deal, the plans have clicked into place - led by JPMorgan - and it appears the Trib's harrowing 18-month sales saga should be over tomorrow, say three people involved in the matter.

"In recent days discussions among the lending banks - JPMorgan, Merrill Lynch, Citigroup and Bank of America - have become excruciating exercises, these people added, as the banks tried to weigh their duties to their clients and their shareholders."

The Tribune itself reported that "Even some industry rivals are dumbfounded by what Zell has planned."

"The amount of debt Tribune is going to have blows my mind," one of them told the paper. "It seems very dangerous to me."

Even subprime.

"According to a deposition taken from then Chief Financial Officer Donald Grenesko, Tribune Co.'s board was never shown the final five years of projections," this week's Trib account says. "But the report said Valuation Research depended on them in coming to a positive solvency opinion. Klee said it remained to be investigated why Valuation Research decided to use Tribune Co.'s projections when it had a set of its own, based on outside research, that were much less optimistic.

"[Chandler] Bigelow couldn't be reached. Through an attorney, Grenesko said the report is 'deeply flawed' and based on 'conflicting testimony.'"

He's just dying - dying - to put his hand on the Holy Bible and testify in a venue that's appropriate: a courtroom!

"Another issue Valuation Research glossed over, the report said, was a repayment crunch Tribune Co. was going to face in 2014. Valuation Research asked Tribune Co. to officially 'represent' that it could refinance the debt. It also asked management to get a similar opinion from Morgan Stanley, which was advising the board.

"E-mails and depositions in the report show the executives asked Morgan Stanley banker Thomas Whayne for such a representation, but he declined, saying he could provide data showing only that similar securities had been refinanced successfully. Notes from a Valuation Research executive, however, indicated Tribune Co. implied that Morgan Stanley had given its assurances.

"Klee accused Tribune Co. management of being dishonest in how it used Morgan Stanley's imprimatur to get over a last hurdle to a Valuation Research solvency opinion. And he noted tartly that Valuation Research had been irresponsible in relying on Tribune Co.'s word, anyway, when there was plenty of evidence that the ability to refinance billions in debt seven years out might be problematic."

Sort of like Alfonso Soriano's contract. Cubs see, Cubs do.

"In a statement about the report, Tribune Co. said it agrees with some of Klee's findings, but that 'some are simply wrong.'

"'For example,' the statement said, 'we disagree with the examiner's characterization of the company's dealings with Morgan Stanley and believe there are more facts yet to be disclosed regarding the company's relationship with that firm.'"

The statement refused to elaborate.

"As early as August 2007, one of Mr. Zell's executives told him in a confidential memo that solvency was a concern and former Tribune CEO Dennis FitzSimons 'did not appear to be taking the issue seriously,' according to the report," Crain's reports.

"The report said that Mr. FitzSimons waffled with respect to his support for the Zell buyout and alternative proposals. Still, the examiner said in a footnote that he had not 'drawn any conclusions about whether Mr. FitzSimons engaged in dishonesty.'"

The examiner's Magic 8 Ball, though, said "Definitely Yes."

These days, though, it's Zell who doesn't appear to be taking solvency seriously - even though his company is in bankruptcy.

"In his interview with the examiner, Mr. Zell denied any solvency concerns. '(A) solvency opinion doesn't do shit for me . . . Cash flow is all we care about,' he is quoted as saying."

Okay. Like maybe having enough cash flow to stay solvent?

Or maybe cash flow has other important purposes.

"Testifying before a federal bankruptcy judge, Chief Financial Officer Chandler Bigelow III said the bonuses would help 'incentivize our key managers to battle all of the intense challenges that unfortunately our local media businesses are facing,'" AP reported last fall.

"Bigelow said the bonuses were designed using operating cash flow as the key metric."

Chandler Bigelows I, II and IV were not available for comment.

But jj8899usa was.

"Let's hear about the Tribune Company's culture of corruption," he/she wrote in a comment posted to the Trib story.

"Yeah, but they still want the bonuses," meesohawnee added.

See, meesohawnee, you just don't understand business; cash flow is for closers. Solvency is for chumps.

Meanwhile, we don't want to frighten you but comments from Mystery Guest appear to be coming from . . . inside the building!

That's okay. There's a good chance that building will be the world's largest Dollar Store by this time next year. Everything must go.

You're In Chicawga Now
Speak Svengalese!

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Grow a twisted pair.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 3:56 AM | Permalink

You're In Chicawga Now - Speak Svengalese!

Mark Kirk's Ex-wife: 'Svengali Figure' Influencing Candidate

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The Cubs: The Complete Story of Chicago Cubs Baseball
By Glenn Stout, Richard A. Johnson

Page 176: "According to Bill Veeck, who had remained employed by the Cubs until 1941, at about this time Wrigley hired someone Veeck described as 'a little bum' and paid him $5,000 a year, with a promised bonus of $25,000 if the Cubs won the pennant . . . Wrigley had either seen a professional wrestling match or read about one in which a wrestler used an assistant to cast spells and hexes or otherwise put a 'whammy' on his opponent. In the arranged world of pro wrestling, the record of the 'whammy man' was spotless. A very dim lightbulb went off in P.K. Wrigley's head. He decided that the Cubs needed just such a person . . . Wrigley apparently had no idea that pro wrestling was fixed, and none of the sycophants he surrounded himself with felt they could tell the boss the truth. Veeck's 'little bum' was Wrigley's 'whammy man.' Although his name is lost to history, the whammy man accompanied the Cubs at home and on the road, sitting in the stands, staring at opposing players, and giving them the 'evil eye' while ominously wiggling his fingers. If it hadn't been so pathetic, it would have been funny."

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Stone For Mayor.

Chicago Hynosis/Dr. Jay Stone.

DNA: Will it be the Scientific Proof of Past Lives?

Time-Line Therapy™ Lessons and Erickson's Double and Triple Binds

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casey.gif

svengali.jpgExpanded Pop-Up Image!

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Comments welcome.

-

Previously by Astralopry:
* Blago Goat Gate
* Daley's Gunbutt Diplomacy
* Obama "Spiritual Manager" A Quirky Venezuelan Tyrant

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 2:57 AM | Permalink

August 4, 2010

The [Wednesday] Papers

A news organization's business side is (theoretically) separate from its editorial side, but when the business side doesn't conform to the editorial side's values - which in large part establish a media company's brand - the organization loses its moral authority.

For example, it's hard to take the Tribune's carping - as agreeable as I am to the rationale - about Pat Quinn giving raises to his staff during a time of great financial distress (see "Clueless in Illinois") when the Tribune Company wants to hand out exorbitant bonuses as well as golden parachutes to its top executives even as it languishes in bankruptcy court.

Yes, there is a difference between public money and private. But greed, self-dealing and financial mismanagement stinks no matter who is perpetrating it, and a news organization opens itself up to charges of hypocrisy as well as simply damaging its own credibility.

When a U.S. bankruptcy trustee says the Tribune Company doesn't understand "shared sacrifice," it sounds like a phrase ripped from a Tribune editorial pointing a finger at everyone but themselves. Breathless reporting, however justified, about shenanigans in corporate suites rings hollow when reporters seem oblivious to what is going on in their own.

For years, Mayor Richard M. Daley has used not only the financial problems of the Tribune and Sun-Times against them in deflecting questions about his own fiscal management, but has often snidely pointed to felons Conrad Black and David Radler as evidence that corruption flourishes everywhere, not just right under his nose (and to his benefit) at City Hall.

For a news organization to retain credibility, its business operations must be as pristine as its editorial. Obviously both of our major newspapers (as well as our broadcast operations here, but they are way long gone) have failed those tests.

"Two top executives at Tribune Co. engaged in 'intentional fraud' in late 2007 when working to finish the $8.2 billion sale of the company to Sam Zell, an examiner said in a 1,500-page inquest into its bankruptcy," David Roeder reports for the Sun-Times.

"Chandler Bigelow, a company treasurer who was promoted to chief financial officer after Zell took over, and former Senior Vice President of Finance Donald Grenesko falsely assured the deal's financiers that the company had an opinion from Morgan Stanley that it could refinance debt in 2014, the examiner said. The assurance, which Morgan Stanley told the examiner it never gave, was essential for Zell to complete his debt-loaded takeover."

So the deal was rotten on both ends; it's become obvious that those of us who warned that Zell was saddling the company with too much debt - at little risk to himself or his own financial position - were correct. It turns out, though, that it was even worse than that. It always is.

"The Klee report casts a harsh light on Bigelow and Grenesko as the two who worked to close the last stage of the deal, called Step Two. It called for $3.6 billion in financing to, among other things, pay Tribune stockholders $34 a share. Both men, Klee noted, were in line for financial gain in closing the deal; each was entitled to a $400,000 bonus, while Grenesko received $4.47 million for selling his shares.

"Klee does not blame Zell or aides for involvement in any fraud. But he notes the pressure they applied to complete the sale and suggests Bigelow cooperated because he expected Zell would retain him at Tribune. Klee has a memo from Zell associate Nils Larsen, now a Tribune executive vice president, that listed Bigelow as one of three Tribune insiders who could be trusted to 'drink the Kool-Aid.'"

That's not all. On Tuesday the Wall Street Journal got a jump on the release of the bankruptcy examiner's report when it reported that a Los Angeles-based bank refused to give the deal the "solvency opinion" that Tribune and Zell sought because they thought it was "going to fail" and "DOA."

(The bank then "got an angry call from Zell asking why it was holding up his deal," the Tribune reports.)

Instead, Tribune turned to a smaller valuation company to get its solvency opinion - which a court examiner found was reached through faulty methodology.

Members of the Tribune editorial page may not have been able to know that when they wrote this self-serving stew of self-congratulations in December 2007:

"We hope the Chicago Tribune's prospects are as promising as this infusion of new leaders and new energies feels to us today. During a whip through Tribune Tower on Thursday, our company's new chairman and CEO, Sam Zell, projected excitement for what we do and why we do it. That excitement is infectious. And it only enhances our belief in the point this page made in April:

"The men and women whose work brings you each day's Tribune are but temporary stewards of journalistic traditions and values that we trust will endure for another 60,000 mornings. And for 60,000 mornings after that."

But they and the reporting and editing staff should have applied a little journalistic scrutiny to the new world they were about to enter; instead there was a fair amount of delusion because Bob Dylan quotes began appearing in Tribune Tower about, you know, the times changin'.

As I've written before, these deals aren't made for some sort of public benefit no matter how they are framed; not even to strengthen a company. They are made because the people who make them profit so handsomely by doing so. It's legalized looting, and often a transfer of money upward. Besides that, the pathological greedy egotists who fill most corporate suites would be bored silly simply running a company every day; they want to do something; deal-making is exciting. Think of the endorphin rush.

But in the end, a lot of people get hurt - far more so in many cases than are hurt by fingers in the public till. That's a distinction that isn't always as important to make as lazy journalists would have you believe. It's all corruption, and the people on the bottom of the pyramid are always the ones left holding the empty bag.

Scrubs
I haven't read through the report myself yet so I can't tell you who Tom Ricketts turned to for a valuation of the Cubs roster when he bought the team from Zell. I'm thinking Chandler Bigelow.

Our Crusade Continues
We Hate My Boys Too.

On the other hand, it's probably Chandler Bigelow's favorite show.

Ted Lilly vs. Ryan Theriot
One's fortunes ought to rise; the other's will fall. Which is which? Find out in Fantasy Fix: Trade Factors.

And beware making a trade with Chandler Bigelow.

Working The Door
No public restrooms - not on Danny Fender's shift.

Especially if your name is Chandler Bigelow.

You Just Like Saying Chandler Bigelow
Guilty.

It's Not His Fault His Parents Named Him Chandler
No, but if they wanted to spare him, they should have named him Wally. Wally Bigelow. He probably would have led a more honest, if less affluent, life.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Set yourself free.


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:28 AM | Permalink

We Hate My Boys Too

My Boys, how we hate thee, let us count the ways . . .

Since we missed the first show of the season, you'll have to forgive us if we stick to reasons we hated last night's episode.

1. Bobby's hair.

Is it a comb-over? A bad dye job? Maybe both? Whatever the issue, it was distracting every time he was in a scene.

2. Mike.

Each show, he becomes a bigger and bigger douchebag. As it was his birthday - is he 35? Is he 40? Or was it, gasp, 43! - he was particularly irritating. Plus, how the hell did this random group get together again? We thought Mike was a college friend.

3. Bobby's family has its assets seized.

I've never lost my fortune nor invested it with a crook, but I'm going to guess that if you lose all your money in a Ponzi scheme, the Feds don't really come over and kick you in the nuts by taking all your shit. Isn't that the bank's job? Unless Bobby's family was in on the scheme, why were they sending over a Fed and a policewoman?

Editor's Note: And then they pulled that hilarious classic gag of having a character surmise the policewoman as a birthday party stripper. Way to earn your paycheck, writers!

And how were those two going to take everything? And why wasn't Bobby more upset? Which brings us to No. 4.

4. Bobby's reaction to his family's assets being seized.

If your family fortune is going down the tubes, wouldn't you be with your family instead of getting random phone calls from your brother telling you your assets are about to be seized? And wouldn't you be freaking out? Instead, Bobby explains that they just need to make a brief detour to his place before resuming a pub crawl.

5. Mike's job.

How does Mike earn a living working for Kenny at a memorabilia shop?

6. Ridiculous Chicago name-dropping.

Our new drinking game consists of taking a drink every time a character mentions something Chicago-related to drive home the fact that this takes place in Chicago. Hey, did he just say Bucktown? Drink! Lakeview, Wrigleyville, Fullerton Avenue? Drink, drink, drink.

7. How to get a movie deal.

Now, I realize I don't have a book, nor do I have an agent, but I'm going to guess that if my agent sets me up with a movie producer to discuss making a movie out of my book that my agent sent him, my agent is going to be at that meeting, not my dorky boyfriend.

8. Brendan.

Sure he's cute, but grow up, dude. Actually, the best part of the show is seeing what T-shirt he might be wearing.

9. The poker table.

Since they gave up actually playing poker in Season 2, they can stop pretending and just drink around a coffee table in the living room like everyone else.

10. Crowley's.

Seriously, everything else is so fake Chicago, but you couldn't find a real Chicago bar for them to hang out in?

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Comments welcome.

-

Previously:
* What I Watched Last Night: My Boys

* My Boys: Not So Much Sex In A City Barely Resembling Chicago

* What I Watched Last Night: My Boys and The Daily Show

* What I Watched Last Night: My Boys and Scarborough Country

* What I Watched Last Night: My Boys and Celebracadabra

* Still No God: My Boys Returns

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 5:44 AM | Permalink

Fantasy Fix: Trade Factors

It was looking pretty quiet leading up to the MLB trading deadline until a flurry of deals occurred in the final hours. There was nothing huge, which means Prince Fielder, Adam Dunn, American League home run leader Jose Bautista, Manny Ramirez and Carlos Lee all stayed where they were. Lee's Houston mates Roy Oswalt and Lance Berkman probably were the biggest newsmakers.

So, how will all the moves play in the fantasy baseball world? Here's a look at several players with fantasy value who changed addresses, and which direction their value is headed:

Lance Berkman, 1B/OF, now with NY Yankees: UP.

Plain and simple, Berkman will benefit from being on a better team where all he'll have to do is hit as a DH most of the time.

Roy Oswalt, SP, now with Philadelphia: UP.

Same logic here, as the Phillies, even though missing important offensive parts, will still score more runs for him than the Astros.

Ted Lilly, SP, now with LA Dodgers: UP.

Lilly goes from a team, the Cubs, that didn't score runs for him to a team that probably won't score many more, but he should benefit from a few home starts in a park where his fly balls are more likely to stay within the walls.

Ryan Theriot, 2B, now with LA Dodgers: DOWN.

He'll face more NL West pitching, which isn't a good thing, and with Rafael Furcal in the house, he'll never bat leadoff. He also may split time with Ronnie Belliard and others.

Jorge Cantu, 1B/3B, now with Texas: UP.

He goes from a team, Florida, where he was one of the major RBI producers, to a team where every spot in the lineup produces. He probably will score more runs and won't see pitchers pitching around him if he bats before one of the Rangers' big boppers.

Matt Capps, RP, now with Minnesota: UP.

He can't really pitch much better than he has, but with the Twins heating up in customary fashion as the season nears end, he will get more chances.

Miguel Tejada, SS, now with San Diego: DOWN.

Actually, his value more or less remains even, which is to say down. He certainly won't hit more home runs, and while the Padres are winners, they don't do it with hitting.

Scott Podsednik, OF, now with LA Dodgers: DOWN.

He'll still lead off most of the time, but can he count on playing time after Manny Ramirez comes off the DL?

Cliff Lee, SP, now with Texas (early July deal): EVEN.

He will win more, but his ERA will suffer. In his new home ballpark, the strikes he's so fond of throwing will more often be home runs, and I'll bet he gets fewer complete games, though he does already have two with his new mates.

Expert Wire
* Closing Time looks at Jake Westbrook's value after a trade sent him to St. Louis. The Cards win more than the Indians, but Westbrook delivers too few strikeouts for my tastes.

* FanHouse has the gruesome details (or actually links to them) on Cleveland catcher Carlos Santana's nasty looking knee injury. Don't drop him just yet. It's not as bad as it looked.

* Bleacher Report has interesting news from the LA Angels: Speedster Peter Bourjos has been called up, and apparently will start. If stolen bases are a category where you are looking for an edge, he might be a good pickup.

* Bleacher Report also wonders why so many fantasy owners are still holding on to Kung Fu Panda.

* MLB Skinny celebrates the new Yahoo! 14-day stat filter by looking at some of the hottest players during that stretch.

One More Thing
Oh, yeah, from the fantasy football wire, it sounds like Brett Favre may be retiring - or maybe not. No official word yet. If you happen to be drafting a fantasy football team in the next week or so, well, I feel sorry for you because you still need to look at Favre as a top 10 QB (and therefore a fantasy starter). If he does retire, hopefully there'll be a few nice QBs left on the waiver wire for you.

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Dan O'Shea's Fantasy Fix appears in this space (nearly) every Wednesday. He welcomes your comments. You can also read his about his split sports fan personality at SwingsBothWays, which isn't about what it sounds like it's about.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 2:02 AM | Permalink

Working The Door: No Public Restroom!

I'm new to the door man game, but I think I'm getting good at it. After all, I learned everything I know about working in bars from Road House. Expect the unexpected. Be polite - until it's time not to be polite. Remember, it's just a job; it's nothing personal. If a customer give you trouble, walk him to the door. Never start anything inside the bar. Take out the trash.

Here's how things went one night last weekend.

* The big thing about this particular night was that a neighborhood street festival was going on. We were in the line of fire. Because of bad past experiences, our door was plastered with signs saying "No Public Restroom!" I pranced around the bar before my shift started shouting "No public restroom!" just for practice. It turned out I would need it.

So a guy walks into the bar and asks me if he can have a beer. A strange request that should have tipped me off, but I simply asked to see his ID and let him proceed. He headed straight for the bathroom. When he walked out I kept my eyes on him, which he noticed, so he sat down at the bar and pretended he was going to order a drink. Then he stood up and started to walk out.

Me: You're not going to have a beer?

Him: Well, um, I, uh, was going to but . . .

Me: No you weren't. You just came in to use the bathroom.

Him: Well, um, I, uh . . .

(He starts to walk out.)

Me: You're not welcome back.

* A little while later a woman comes in and takes a long time to dig out her ID, which is valid. Then she heads straight for the bathroom. She comes back to see the disappointed look on my face. "I'm sorry, I just came in to use the bathroom," she says sheepishly, eyes looking down. Then she tried to open the door to leave but couldn't get the door open.

Her: What's going on here?

Me: That's what happens when you don't follow the rules.

I didn't lift a finger to help her navigate the door, the lock, the handle, whatever was holding her back. I just stood there with my arms folded. She figured out how to get the door open and left.

* Two douchey types show me their IDs and walk in. They head straight for the bathroom. Now I've got a head of steam about me. Not on my shift! While the one is in the bathroom, the other waits outside the door. I approach. "You guys are gonna order drinks, right?" I say. "Uh, yeah, I know how it is," the guy says. They each take turns in the bathroom and then, sufficiently intimidated by their otherwise mild-mannered doorman, order a couple beers they don't seem to really want and spend the rest of their brief time there chatting me up and forcing down their brews. These guys were pretty much done. Finally they ask if they can leave with their beers.

Me: No.

Them: We won't tell anyone.

Me: It doesn't matter. What if the police drive by while you're walking out with beers?

Them: There's a [well-known chain store] across the street, we'll just say we got them there.

Me: I don't think that would hold up in court.

I couldn't quite figure out why they wanted to take beers with them that they didn't seem to want in the first place, but I think it was so they wouldn't be embarrassed by admitting that they really just came in to use the bathroom. They'd rather toss their beers out of my sight. Once they finally finished and left, I felt satisfied with my performance.

* I made a guy who set down a plastic beer cup from the festival outside the bar before coming in put it in the trash instead. Not on my shift!

* About a half dozen men and women walk into the bar together, but one doesn't have her ID. "I won't drink, I promise," she says. Sorry, I don't think that will hold up in court either - or at the liquor license revocation hearing. What are people thinking? Who goes anywhere without an ID? I know things used to be looser, but this is Daley's Chicago.

* A guy with a glazy look in his eyes walks in the door and says "I'm a little confused tonight." I ask to see his ID, which is valid, and let him in. I regret it immediately. He was off. I almost went to tell the bartender not to serve him, but she's a pro and she didn't need me to know to turn him away. Lesson learned: Trust my instincts.

* So later a guy comes charging in and I gently lay a hand on him and ask to see his ID. "Sure you can see my ID." And as he fumbles through his wallet he suddenly screams "Fuck you, you can't see my ID!" Then you can't come in I say, gently steering him toward the door. At that point a woman who appeared to be his girlfriend came charging up half-yelling and half-pleading "You can't serve him, he's been overserved!" I know, I said. "You can't serve him, you can't serve him," she kept repeating as I helped walk him out the door. I kept an eye on them in the street because he was slightly belligerent and I wanted to be ready to intervene - or at least witness for the police - any ensuing incident. After a little straggling, they went on their way.

* Under the city's ban on smoking in bars and restaurants, customers who go outside to light up must stay at least 15 feet away from the door. At our bar we have a designated smoking area on the sidewalk on one side of the bar. We ask those who smoke on the other side of the bar to please move to the designated area, which has a temporary ash can thingie we put out there. On this night I had to ask several small groups to please move. This is how I do it: "It's not that we're pricks or anything, it's the city. They make us do it and they're really cracking down - they're trying to get revenue from every little thing, be it the parking meters or tickets or what have you. So they're the pricks, not us!" This was a well-received message; yeah, it's us against the Man, man!

Working the door is a lot tougher than it looks. Think about it: You're interacting with humans who are either anxious to drink or have already drunk. If you don't deal well, you could find yourself in a pretty ugly situation. And if you make the wrong kind of mistake, you could lose the bar - or at least incur a heavy penalty. But you also get a chance to meet every person who comes into your establishment, and if you're a pro you garner instant respect. You're an authority figure. Plus, you're working in a bar. What could be better than that?

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The pseudononymous Danny Fender works as a doorman at a corner tavern somewhere in the Midwest. He welcomes your comments.

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See more tales of door working, security guarding, pizzeria waitressing, barista-ing and office drudgering in our Life at Work collection.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:31 AM | Permalink

August 3, 2010

The [Tuesday] Papers

"Ask people what they like most about living in the Chicago area, and the answers aren't much different than what you'd expect from the millions of tourists who flock here each year - cultural activities, the lakefront and restaurants," the Tribune reports.

And yet, we wasted time, effort and resources doing it anyway!

Tomorrow: What's your favorite month? Oh wait . . .

Geez, what's next, reprising the Sun-Times's hottest fan contest?

Oh wait . . .

*

Speaking of sexism, there's always the Trib's "Around The Web" feature to glance at on its homepage, which actually just links to stories around the Trib's web, not the real one. I've been watching this for some time waiting for the day when every entry is offensive, just not most of them.

Let's take a look at what we've got today.

* There's the come hither gals accompanying the link to "Chicago's Nightlife in Pictures: Take a Peek Inside Chicago's Top Nightclubs," which links to Shots in the Dark, described as "a Metromix promotions blog."

* There's the come hither gal accompanying the link to "Photos: Chicagoans at the Beach." Related items there include "Pictures: Sexy Celebrities at the Beach" and "Pictures: Hottest Sports Wives and Girlfriends."

* There's the two gals accompanying the link to "Photos: Wicker Park Fest 2010," where you can find a photo and three links to "Photos: Beachcombers," where we started.

That's actually not bad compared to many days - like the day that included "50 Hottest Female Athletes: See Danica Patrick, Misty-May Treanor and more who made the list" and "Loop Rock Girl Finalists: See the 32 finalists for the $75,000 WLUP Loop Rock Girl contest."

And right now on WGNTV.com you can find homepage photos and links to:

* "Comic Con Hotties"
* "Hot Sports Wives & Girlfriends"
* "Sexy Celebs at the Beach"
* "Pictures: Women's Beach Volleyball"
* "Pictures: Extreme Yoga Positions"

I guess the tone is set at the top.

*

It appears the cached version of "Trib CEO Has A Shocking Past" that I link to in the piece above has now also been disappeared. That's okay. This will get it back onto Google:

Tribune's New CEO Has a Shocking Past
Zell steps aside for old friend
By STEVE RHODES
Updated 12:54 PM CST, Thu, Dec 3, 2009

Sam Zell is leaving control of Tribune Company in the hands of a former shock jock who used to tell jokes about gay people on the air and reportedly roamed the offices of a past employer with a rubber penis tied around his neck.

That would be Randy Michaels, Zell's chief lieutenant at Tribune and now the once-staid media institution's CEO, a post Zell abdicated on Wednesday. Zell will remain chairman of the company to provide, you know, a strategic vision until Tribune gets out of bankruptcy. Then Zell will probably be gone.

Michaels, however, reportedly wants to stay. What a nice gift that would be for Zell to leave behind.

Michaels is known for, among other things, believing he is the first to measure reporters' productivity by the number of words they produce and actually believing that is a legitimate way to measure a reporter's productivity. That and a lawsuit that once alleged - among other things - that he roamed his old Clear Channel offices with a "flexible rubber penis" tied around his neck as well as a host of other crude rituals. The suit was settled.

As an executive with Clear Channel, Michaels was "an effective but tasteless programmer," according to Salon.

"Behind the mike he made a name for himself back in the '70s and '80s farting on the air, cracking jokes about gays and tantalizing listeners with descriptions of 'incredibly horny, wet and ready' naked in-studio guests," the Salon account reports.

Michaels is "well regarded by the creditors who are expected to control Tribune when it emerges from bankruptcy protection next year," the New York Times reports.

Michaels, whose real name is Benjamin Homel, was once described as the AntiChrist of radio. He told Radio Ink magazine that "We'd all prefer to be liked, so of course it bothers me. I think I personify uncomfortable change in our business for a lot of people."

Or at least a certain kind of change.

Don't Blame Edwin
"As a Democrat, I get to go to bed every day and know who's not to blame," Blago's 2006 primary challenger tells me.

Relevant Excerpts: Helen Shiller
"With the announcement this week that Ald. Helen Shiller would not run for re-election, I headed for my Chicago bookshelf. Here's what I found - interspersed with comments from her interview with Carol Marin on Chicago Tonight last night."

Black Ghost
"I think my dad wanted me to be Sears Tower. I think my mom just wants me to be happy." In Chicagoetry.

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judgement.gif

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Cached.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:52 AM | Permalink

Relevant Excerpts: Helen Shiller

With the announcement this week that Ald. Helen Shiller would not run for re-election, I headed for my Chicago bookshelf. Here's what I found - interspersed with comments from her interview with Carol Marin on Chicago Tonight last night.

Book: Chicago Politics Ward By Ward
Author: David Fremon
Date: 1988
Excerpt:

"Uptown over the years has seen both glamour and destitution, sometimes within blocks of each other. The rich and the poor live here, and it is uncertain which group will dominate the area over the next decade . . .

"Poor people abound in Uptown. The area has been a port of entry and home for transients ever since the first apartment hotels appeared in the 1920s. Conversion of single-family homes to rooming houses during World War II furthered the low-income population. They have been joined by Mexicans, Puerto Ricans, marielito Cubans, blacks (from America, the Caribbean, and Africa), Koreans, Filipinos, Vietnamese, Cambodians, and Hmong from Laos, among others . . .

"Traditionally, the 46th Ward has been the scene of the closest fights in the city between regulars and independents. That tradition was continued in the 1987 aldermanic race, considered by many a class struggle as much as an election. Helen Shiller, co-owner of a graphics company and a close Slim Coleman ally, won that election by less than 500 votes over incumbent Jerome Orbach. Shiller became the first independent alderman elected from the 46th Ward. Previous ones came from the Regular Democratic Organization, although they at times showed maverick tendencies.

"One such alderman was Chris Cohen, handpicked choice of longtime (1922-72) committeman Joseph Gill. Cohen, first elected in 1971, never officially broke off from the regulars. However Finance Committee chairman Tom Keane and other party leaders criticized him for leaving the council floor on several important roll calls.

"He made his mark as a legislator, most notably in day-labor regulation. He also made a hobby of removing archaic ordinances from the municipal code. Thanks to Chris Cohen, Chicago no longer has laws outlawing kite flying, flagpole sitting, or marathon dancing; prohibiting women from tending bar or from wearing hatpins on public transportation; barring vehicles in tunnels which are under city streets; and banning ugly persons from walking the streets.

"Cohen won reelection in 1975 over former street gang member 'Cha Cha' Jimenez but retired in midterm for a federal administrative job. Ralph Axelrod, who had assumed the committeeman position after Gill's death, slated himself in the ensuing special election. One of his opponents was Shiller, who then edited a leftist magazine called Keep Strong. Axelrod beat her by 1,000 votes. The two met again along with others in 1979. This time, Shiller outpolled him, 46 to 40 percent. But Axelrod mustered enough support in the runoff to win by 247 votes.

"Axelrod had a weak organization, and his ward secretary was willing to exploit that vulnerability. Jerome Orbach ran against his mentor for committeeman in 1980, losing only by four votes. Orbach never stopped running, and Mayor Jane Byrne gave him strong support. But Axelrod showed no signs of stepping down. Party regulars feared a split that would throw the aldermanic seat to an independent.

"Party chairman Vrdolyak stepped in to quell the impasse. Axelrod quit the council to take a sheriff's office job just before the 1983 election. In turn, Orbach promised to respect Axelrod's position as committeeman.

"Once again it was close. Community activist Charlotte Newfeld forced Orbach into a runoff, which he won by only sixty-six votes. The following year Orbach ran for committeeman despite any promises he might have made to Vrdolyak. He defeated Newfeld's campaign coordinator, former union official Paul Waterhouse.

"Orbach's record as alderman was in many ways impressive. He cosponsored Wrigley Field no-lights legislation, obtained a lighted schoolhouse program for Uptown, and successfully proposed a rebate of garbage fees for condominium owners. He backed the ward's influential gay population by assuring funding for AIDS research in the city budget and proposing vacated Henrotin Hospital for an AIDS research and care facility. Orbach and 44th Ward Alderman Bernard Hansen were the only two anti-Washington aldermen to vote for the gay rights measure.

"Despite this record, Orbach's Council Wars stance assured him vehement opposition. No alderman tried harder than Jerry Orbach to portray himself on all sides of the political fence - to the point of passing out brochures of himself with Harold Washington in black precincts while vocally supporting Republican mayoral candidate Bernard Epton in white ones. Nevertheless, he sided with the council's Vrdolyak bloc on every significant issue. Washington made no secret of the fact that Orbach was the alderman he targeted for extinction more than any other.

"Opposition to Orbach came from two sides in 1987: Shiller and attorney Nancy Kaszak, best known for her work in barring lights from Wrigley Field. A follower of political cult leader Lyndon LaRouche also entered the race.

"Kaszak early on gained important endorsements: the IVI-IPO, National Organization of Women, AFSCME, Charlotte Newfeld, former aldermen Bill Singer and Dick Simpson. Shiller, however, gained two endorsements or greater value: those of Slim Coleman and Harold Washington. Orbach received not only the regular Democratic but also the regular Republican endorsement.

"The intense dislike between Shiller and Kaszak became obvious during the campaign. Shiller accused Kaszak of being a last-minute intruder into ward politics. Kaszak charged that Shiller was a radical who could not obtain widespread ward support. After Kaszak was eliminated from the runoff, she eventually gave Shiller an endorsement, although many of her followers worked for Orbach.

"Unlike many of the aldermanic runoffs, the 46th Ward race provided a true difference in philosophies. Orbach contended that every vacant building in his ward was either renovated or scheduled for rehabilitation. Shiller countered that Orbach was attempting to drivve out low-income people and senior citizens and charged that most of his campaign donations were coming from large developers and regular Democrats from outside the wad. Orbach prided himself on his efforts to vote precincts 'dry.' Shiller argued that the bars affected were those that were social centers for poor people, and that troublesome bars could be regulated by other actions.

"In the end, it might have been an unusual constituency which decided the election. Jesus People U.S.A., a religious group with many members living in the ward, supported Orbach throughout his career. They suddenly switched to Helen Shiller in the runoff. Orbach supporters charged that a city official had offered the Jesus People's construction firm city contracts if Shiller was elected - a charge the group denies.

"Orbach retained his edge in the Lakefront and Jewish areas. Shiller captured the Uptown vote between Broadway and Clark, plus enough of the Kaszak vote to win 9,751 to 9,253.

*

"How important could a few Uptown votes be? Consider that Shiller defeated Orbach in 1987 by a handful of votes. Had Orbach won that election, he most likely would have sided with fellow Vrdolyak-bloc aldermen in determining Washington's successor. That additional vote could have meant that Richard Mell, not Eugene Sawyer, would be mayor today."

*

From Chicago Tonight:
SHILLER: I came in to be Harold's 26th vote . . I don't really like politics . . .

MARIN: You ran two times before you got in that third time.

SHILLER: Totally . . . I said I won't do it, I'm not running in '83 . . . I don't like politics . . . When he said to me, You can be the 26th vote . . . How could I say no?

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Book: Rogues, Rebels and Rubber Stamps
Author: Dick Simpson
Date: 2001
Excerpt: "In fifty-nine key divided roll call votes between 1995 and 1999 only two aldermen, Shiller and Shaw, voted less than 50 percent of the time with Mayor Daley's floor leader; overall, all aldermen voted with the mayor's administration an average of 84 percent of the time."

*

From Chicago Tonight:
MARIN: Daley comes in and he doesn't want you to be the alderman of the 46th Ward . . . Very often you were the one vote against the budget . . . But somewhere along the line you've been voting with Daley . . . The critics say, Where's Helen Shiller?

SHILLER: The real question is what are the issues . . . a single vote is symbolic . . . I have a strong commitment to problem-solving . . . The biggest one has clearly been affordability and is it possible for development without displacement.

MARIN: Where did it turn?

SHILLER: The issue is the budget . . . in the last several years I was voting no because I was having trouble getting answers on the budget . . . I now get all the answers . . . I have to understand how to deliver services in the ward and how to impact policy . . . my arguments [for voting against Daley's budgets] rang a little hollow; I don't do things symbolically.

MARIN: You wanted Wilson Yard . . .

SHILLER: The truth is there's no question that the mayor was very supportive.

MARIN: Do you like Mayor Daley?

SHILLER: I agree with him on some things, I disagree with him on others . . . You have to understand where someone is coming from . . . If you disagree, that should be an honest disagreement.

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Book: Beyond Segregation: Multiracial and multiethnic neighborhoods in the United States
Author: Michael T. Maly
Date:
Excerpt: "Just having people of different races or classes is not enough. Helen Shiller, alderman of the Forty-sixth Ward in Uptown, captured this notion very well in our July 15, 1996, interview:

"'The truth of the matter is that the stability of the community is not defined by what percentage of people are different ethnic or racial or socioeconomic backgrounds. The real test of the strength of the community is its own process of struggle, its own collective struggle to define itself. To what extent . . . do people join together on the basis of respect? With respect being a key part of it, that we are respecting people as human beings. So that if there are collective structures in the community that allow [people] to be able to struggle to change the basic things that are not fair or not functional in terms of the development of their children, their development of their families, et cetera. It is when you have the opportunity to realize the potential in the community.'

"Shiller is suggesting that demographics are not enough. Racial diversity is not integration if you never talk to your neighbors. Thus, the test of stable integration is not the percentage of groups, but in the community's process to join different groups in such a way that there is respect and a sharing of power. This is difficult to measure. And this difficulty illustrates the complexity of integration and the need to broaden our discussion of integration."

*

From Chicago Tonight:
MARIN: But you've got a ward that's got class warfare going on. Mike Royko once wrote: "One of the most depressing sections of Chicago is the Uptown area on the North Side. Shabby apartment buildings, vacant stores, wino bars, littered vacant lots, junkies, muggers, and career down-and-outers. It also has a new alderman, Helen Shiller, and she has a vision of what that seedy old neighborhood should be in the future. And apparently her vision is that Uptown should remain a seedy old neighborhood."

SHILLER: That was a cynical argument.

MARIN: But you cast your luck with the poorest parts of Uptown.

SHILLER: It's just not true. You're reading the blogs, but you're not reading the election results . . . I brought resources into the community - it's a double-edged sword; made it attractive to developers . . . It wasn't acceptable to me that people stay in housing that was decrepit or substandard

MARIN: Are you a mellow Marxist now?

SHILLER: Helen Shiller in 1987 said we should be able to make sure that everyone has a place in the city, and when we do development . . . we should make sure that the people who are here today will be here when that is complete . . . my most singular perspective was g to prove that that is possible . ... we have to have a city that is not just inclusive about our diversity but is serious and honest about makin sure that everyone has a place here . . .

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 3:26 AM | Permalink

Chicagoetry: Black Ghost

Black Ghost

If a flamingo, be of steel.
Strike a pose in mid-pirouette.
I see myself in Calder's Flamingo,
bright red steel striving to dance

and my parents are the Federal Buildings,
serene monoliths of dignity, repose
in black steel and glass.
So I am the carefree child at their stolid feet

dancing in both reverence and defiance.

I think my dad wanted me to be Sears Tower.
I think my mom just wants me to be happy.
I don't think either imagined a flamingo,
even one of strong, stubborn steel.

Say my dad was molded by Mies,
elegance and strength in extremis.
Say my ego was molded by God,
who, in poetry, is expected to be addressed

as "Father." Say: this is not the curvature
of my mind. I dig the omnipotence of mind,
like the omnipotence of Mies,
like the omnipotence of a monolith.

When impotent, I am livid.
When potent, I am vivid.
When my dad died, I was id.
When God died, I suspected ego.

I think my dad wanted me to be Sears Tower.
If he was Mies, I wasn't even Bertrand Goldberg,
protege defying the square steel master
with voluptuous concrete and curvature.

At least Goldberg was an architect, too.
I wanted to dance, OK? Jesus: I shall dance.
My father, my teacher, did expound the value
of individuality. So I got that part right.

I can't blame him if he secretly wished
I might be like him only taller and more
complicated. I hope he'd be proud of me
but it has to be OK if he wouldn't be.

I have to allow him his serenity,
his individuality. I shan't project my ego
into his peace, his transcendence of this
vale of suffering. I sure am proud of him.

My bright dance would be invisible
if his fell black ghost didn't hover
serenely

nearby.

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

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More Tindall:

* Book of poems: Ballots From the Dead

* Music: MySpace page

* Fiction: A Hole To China

* Critical biography at e-poets.net

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:40 AM | Permalink

Don't Blame Edwin

In response to last week's Who Is To Blame For Blago? post, Lew Manilow sent us a comment - which you can see at the bottom of that piece - and suggested I speak to his stepson, Edwin Eisendrath, who challenged Blagojevich in the 2006 primary. Here are some bits from that interview and then a look at the coverage of that primary, which is even more fascinating in retrospect than it was at the time. Edited for clarity.

Beachwood: You got a decent chunk of the vote, didn't you? (30 percent; a landslide loss but still)

Eisendrath: Most of the votes came from downstate. And it snowed. We did better than the pundits thought we would.

Beachwood: Why didn't the pundits take you more seriously?

Eisendrath: The pundits spend their time listening to what the political insiders tell them. And the political insiders weren't interested in me . . . It becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Beachwood: Was it hard to get media coverage?

Eisendrath: It was hard.

Beachwood: But we all knew Blagojevich was under investigation.

Eisendrath: We all knew. The U.S. Attorney went to the extraordinary length of [detailing Public Official A] so everybody knew.

Beachwood: Then why did the political Establishment stick with him?

Eisendrath: Everyone's gotta look in the mirror . . . the party's early warning system, which is largely made up of North Side liberals - Dawn Clark Netsch, Abner Mikva - a self-appointed early warning system - it was a role they didn't play.

Beachwood: Why not?

Eisendrath: It's very hard to do the right thing . . . [but] as a Democrat, I get to go to bed every day and know who's not to blame . . . I talked to [AP reporter] Chris Wills about this. The Democrats had been out of power a long time. There was a lot of low-hanging fruit, things were getting accomplished [on the Democrats'] social agenda. Gay rights, etcetera . . . I was told 'don't depoliticize the criticism of Rod - if it was just Republicans who said he was a crook, who cares!'

Beachwood: It seems like there's an instinct to rally around the incumbent regardless - look at how the Establishment rallied around Pat Quinn once he was governor when you might have thought Dan Hynes would be their guy. Maybe they figure he's someone they can roll, or they want rewards from the current governor and they'll deal with the later governor later.

Eisendrath: Pat's not a crook. And people who stood behind Rod would find it hard not to stand behind Pat now.

Beachwood: Obama stood behind Rod.

Eisendrath: The enemy was George Bush, no question. That was the focus of Democrats. The focus was on Barack - money was being raised for Barack.

Beachwood: So nobody wanted to raise questions about, say, Tony Rezko for fear it would spill over and taint Obama?

Eisendrath: People did raise questions. It was well-known. But there were a lot of other priorities . . . I'm not excusing Democrats - finally they got him out - but it was pretty awful . . . I was hoping someone else would have run against Rod and they didn't and shame on them . . . I was terribly depressed before that about the state of our state. I was more optimistic at the end.

Beachwood: Why?

Eisendrath: [I learned that] government is quite limited . . . I saw amazing things that the people of Illinois were doing not through government . . . for example, people in Decatur were upset with former CHA families from the Robert Taylor Homes who took their vouchers and moved there. 'We don't have the services to take care of them down here,' they said. But church groups and communities came together to take care of each other and the families got help, and were so much better off. Communities, not government, rallied . . . We have fools in government, but our civil society is phenomonal.

Beachwood: But we have such terrible candidates now in both the governor's and U.S. Senate race, isn't it even more depressing?

Eisendrath: So what! Our democracy will survive, our country will survive. It's depressing as all get-out but we have what we have.

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As admirable as Eisendrath might be, a look through the clips reminded me that he didn't exactly run a stellar campaign. But can anyone say now they wouldn't have preferred him to the guy we got? Anyway, here's the way the coverage in the Tribune and Sun-Times (and Beachwood) went.

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Headline: Ex-Alderman May Take On Blagojevich
Date: Nov. 13, 2005
By: Rick Pearson, Tribune
Excerpt: "Though Blagojevich's administration has been buffeted by investigations into allegations of pay-to-play style politics, and though his popularity among voters has suffered, leading Democrats have stood by the governor's re-election.

"The co-chairmen of Blagojevich's re-election committee are House Speaker Michael Madigan, who heads the Illinois Democratic Party, and Senate President Emil Jones Jr.

"Asked about a potential primary contest, Blagojevich campaign adviser Peter Giangreco said, 'The governor isn't concerned about who's in and who's out.'

"Blagojevich also is winning over some of his Democratic critics, including those who once explored a primary challenge to the governor. One questioned whether an effective political organization could even be developed when the deadline for filing candidacy petitions for the March 21 primary is little more than a month away.

"'For someone who brings a political background, money, organizational skills and has groups behind him, even now I would think it's too late,' said state Rep. Lou Lang (D-Skokie), who contemplated challenging Blagojevich. 'While I've been critical of the governor in the past few years, I do have to say that in the last two or three months he has begun to turn the corner and is heading in the direction we had hoped to see when he was elected.'"

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Headline: Bring It On, Eisendrath
Date: Nov. 20, 2005
By: Carol Marin, Sun-Times
Excerpt: "But can he win?

'''No,' says Paul Green, expert on Illinois politics and director of policy Sstudies at Roosevelt University. 'He's betting on the come.'

"Which means?

'''He's betting that between the December filing deadline and the March primary, something drastic happens to Blagojevich . Either someone in his administration gets indicted. Or, he gets indicted. In that case, Eisendrath would be the alternative candidate and could win,' says Green. 'Otherwise he loses - big time.'"

*

"Blagojevich has not been charged with wrongdoing and there is no sign I have seen yet that he will be."

*

'''Look, his family has hundreds of millions of dollars,' laughed WBBM-TV's political editor Mike Flannery on Chicago Tonight last week. 'At Thanksgiving dinner, he'll be able to raise the $5 million to $6 million it would take to scare Rod Blagojevich.'

"But Eisendrath , who in 1987 ran what was then the most expensive aldermanic race in Chicago history, says he won't come close to the governor's war chest and doesn't want to.

'''The governor's money isn't just an asset for him, it's an issue,' said Eisendrath , who added he would try to raise far less, somewhere between $3 million and $6 million."

*

"But the danger here is that we as an electorate suffer from bipartisan corruption fatigue, and either shrug off or laugh hysterically when somebody - anybody - comes along and promises political reform.

"That, after all, is what Rod Blagojevich promised in 2002. No more business as usual, remember?"

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Headline: Pressure Tactic To Clear Dem Primary Field Falls Flat
Date: Dec. 4, 2005
By: Lynn Sweet, Sun-Times
Excerpt: "Two Blagojevich allies cooked up a plot designed to pressure Edwin Eisendrath not to challenge the governor in the March Democratic primary - a letter signed by 25 A-list Illinois progressives urging him to stay out of the race . . .

"Eisendrath said he considers the whole exercise, orchestrated by state Sen. Carol Ronen (D-Chicago) and Democratic donor Leo Smith, a child welfare advocate, 'irrelevant.'

"'It was something I thought was a good idea,' Ronen said.

"Ronen, acknowledging her role, said the letter was supposed to be private.

"'How did it become public? The idea was to just send it,' she asked.

*

"Ronen, one of Blagojevich 's earliest supporters, said the letter - outlining Blagojevich 's long and strong record on progressive issues - was written to let Eisendrath know that his entry in the race may 'start diverting attention away from what was accomplished.'

*

"The penultimate paragraph of the letter to Eisendrath said, 'We must continue the fight as a unified Democratic community for the values we hold dear without the distractions of a hopeless primary challenge.'"

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Headline: Eisendrath Joins The Race
Date: Dec. 19, 2005
By: Rick Pearson, Tribune
Excerpt: "'Four years ago, I supported Rod Blagojevich because I believed his promise that he would end the Ryan legacy of pay-to-play. I thought he was committed to change. I was wrong,' Eisendrath said. Instead, he said, Blagojevich has turned state government into a personal public relations machine, 'paid for by your taxes and contributions bled out of state contractors.'

*

"In taking on Blagojevich, Eisendrath, who served on the City Council from 1987 to 1993, is mounting an insurgent campaign against a first-term Democratic governor who holds not only a bankroll estimated at nearly $20 million but who also carries the endorsement of the state's Democratic Party establishment."

*

"On the eve of the final day for filing candidacy petitions for the primary, Eisendrath was joined by about one hundred friends and family members as he said Blagojevich 'built a wall to hide the truth,' made up of 'imagery built by political consultants and held together with mountains of campaign cash.'

"Pledging a true end to 'business as usual,' which Blagojevich promised in his campaign, Eisendrath cited myriad investigations into the Democratic governor's administration.

"'It took our party nearly 30 years to win the governorship,' he said. 'In less than four, the Blagojevich administration has left a perception of ethical lapses to put all that we've worked for at risk.'"

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Headline: Gov Challenger Hits The Trail
Date: Dec. 19, 2005
By: Jim Ritter, Sun-Times
Excerpt: "Word of Eisendrath 's candidacy surfaced a month ago, but so far no fellow Democrats have endorsed him publicly.

*

"'The governor is focusing on his positive accomplishments for working families, and that's where he is going to keep his focus,' campaign spokesman Doug Scofield said.

"Eisendrath said he has talked to Blagojevich 's father-in-law, Ald. Richard Mell (33rd), who has been feuding with the governor. But Eisendrath didn't offer specifics."

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Headline: Gov Lacks Support In The Trenches
Date: Jan. 8, 2006
By: Carol Marin, Sun-Times
Excerpt: "'There will be protest votes against Rod in the Democratic primary for [former Ald.] Edwin Eisendrath,' predicts state Sen. John Cullerton (D-Chicago). 'Eisendrath will get a surprisingly higher number of votes than people expect."

*

Is he going to vote for Blagojevich?

"'Oh, yes, absolutely,' Cullerton said. 'I think he deserves a second chance' though '. . . I'm disappointed in him in certain areas.'"

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Headline: Blagojevich Avoids Fray; Governor's Strategy Seems To Be: Can't Talk, Too Busy Running State
Date: Jan. 9, 2006
By: Rick Pearson and John Chase, Tribune
Excerpt: "'Candidates say what they're going to do. Governors do and no governor has done more than this guy on issues such as health care, education, on helping working families make ends meet,' said Blagojevich strategist Peter Giangreco. 'You'd be hard-pressed to find a governor who has done so much in so little time.'"

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Headline: Eisendrath Challenge May Help More Than It Hurts Blagojevich
Date: Feb. 27, 2006
By: Rich Miller, Daily Southtown
Excerpt: "Eisendrath 's campaign has been a joke up until now. Not only is it the gang that couldn't shoot straight, they don't even own a gun. I doubt they even have an FOID card.

"Last week, with just a month to go before the election, the campaign was forced to hire a new manager, Felicia Shallow Davis. Davis was initially described in a press release as the deputy field director for the Obama Senate campaign.' Later in the day, another press release was issued that listed her simply as having 'worked on two of Barack Obama's campaigns.' The Chicago Tribune reported that she was merely a 'volunteer"'on the campaigns. It also turns out that she just graduated from the cooking and hospitality school where Eisendrath works. You can't make this stuff up.

"Yes, there's been considerable pressure on Democrats from above to steer clear of Eisendrath 's campaign. The strong-arm tactics have been even more brutal against anyone who would support Forrest Claypool's effort to unseat Cook County Board President John Stroger, yet Claypool has run a respectable campaign and has a long list of endorsements from top Democrats. Alexi Giannoulias' unslated campaign for state treasurer has also had to deal with the long arm of the Democratic Party establishment, but he has still managed to put together a decent effort.

"Perception is almost everything in politics, and if Eisendrath is blown out next month then Rod Blagojevich will gain political strength . . .

"Eisendrath misled supporters and staff, who believed him when he promised to run a real campaign, with real money. But he now looks like he was just jumping in with the hope that the U.S. attorney's office would decide the outcome for him."


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Headline: Governor Defends War Chest; Blagojevich Says "We Follow Rules"
Date: Feb. 26, 2006
By: Rick Pearson and John Chase, Tribune
Excerpt: "As his administration faces investigations at the state and federal level into allegations of pay-to-play politics, the first- term Democrat says his office has done nothing wrong. He vouches for the honesty of close friends and advisers who make money lobbying at the Statehouse.

"'We follow all the rules. We follow all the laws,' Blagojevich said."

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Headline: Edwin? Rod? What Campaign?
Date: Feb. 26, 2006
By: Tribune editorial
Excerpt "Rod Blagojevich won the governor's race in 2002 on a vow that a new ruling party with a new message would bring a lemony fresh approach to state government. A Democrat could wash the office of its shame. Voters trusted that message of restoring honesty and integrity to governance, and especially of ending Illinois' 'business as usual.'

"Since then, Blagojevich has revealed himself to be "usual," even to the most ardent Democrats. Federal and state authorities are probing his administration's hiring practices. Investigators are examining allegations of pay-to-play politics involving contributions to the governor's campaign from state contractors and appointees to state regulatory panels. The resulting collective loss of faith has manifested itself in sub-par approval ratings for Blagojevich.

"Many Democrats yearned for a choice in the March 21 primary for governor. They deserved a credible alternative to Blagojevich - at least they deserved to hear the governor explain himself.

"So when Edwin Eisendrath announced his candidacy Dec. 18, he engendered great hope. He seemed to have the smarts, the gumption and the public resume to provide a worthy, if long-shot, challenge . . .

"He and the governor met Friday with the Tribune editorial board. Eisendrath was asked where, precisely, to find his campaign. He replied, 'Certainly a lot of it is [on the] Internet, which is kind of hard to see and feel. But that's it. It's not a big, traditional parade, rah-rah campaign" . . .

"Voters who seek sustenance on Eisendrath's Web site will leave with hunger pangs. His positions on security and safety, on guns, on pensions, on gambling, could fit inside a fortune cookie."

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Headline: Eisendrath's Campaign
Date: March 4, 2006
By: Felicia Davis, Campaign manager, Eisendrath 2006
Excerpt: "Your Feb. 26 editorial asked 'Edwin? Rod? What campaign?'"

"Our answer is simple.

"We have been on the ground throughout Illinois.

"Democratic candidate for governor Edwin Eisendrath has personally campaigned in every township in Cook County, in the collar counties, Downstate and in diverse Chicago communities like Chatham, Beverly and Rogers Park.

"Edwin has spoken daily with voters about the issues important to them--including education, the economy and ethics.

"Edwin's education proposals include creative ways to improve teacher training and management accountability, and viable methods to increase state aid.

"Edwin believes that the Illinois State Board of Education can be an innovator and advocate of educational best practices.

"He refuses to take a no-tax pledge.

"And he will dedicate 51 percent of all new revenue to school funding.

"Edwin has been on the air in Illinois too.

"In addition to his TV ads, Edwin has been a guest on dozens of radio shows to discuss his plan for improving Illinois' economy . . .

"Voters have a clear choice in this election. Voters can opt for the status quo - a world of pay-to-play politics, questionable lobbyist practices and broken promises. Or voters can choose Edwin Eisendrath - a man who will focus on the Democratic values that really matter to us, not perpetuate the scandals that distract us."

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Headline: Uphill Fight For Political Upset: The Governor's Only Democratic Foe Eyes Defeat Of His Goliath
Date: March 5, 2006
By: John Chase, Tribune
Excerpt: "'I think Edwin is a well-intentioned, decent guy with a good record but nobody behind him,' said Larry Suffredin, a Cook County Board member who comes from the same lakefront Democratic circles as Eisendrath. 'It is just Edwin.'

"Mike Quigley, another Cook County Board Democrat who is working for Forrest Claypool in his quest to unseat President John Stroger, said some Democrats had hoped for an alternative to Blagojevich but haven't warmed to Eisendrath's campaign.

"'Edwin's polling nowhere near viability,' Quigley said."

*

"Eisendrath was hired by the college's president, Howard Tullman, an art dealer, a friend of Eisendrath and the Manilows and a Democratic fundraiser.

"Tullman is working behind the scenes in Eisendrath's political campaign because he's become disenchanted with Blagojevich. In 2001, Blagojevich asked Tullman for his support. Tullman obliged, hosting a fundraiser and donating $5,250 to Blagojevich's campaign fund.

"'We did do some fundraising for him, and then he got elected and we never heard from him again,' Tullman said."

*

"Eisendrath recently visited his old stomping grounds, seeking the endorsement of the 43rd Ward's Democratic Party over Blagojevich. Eisendrath lost."

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Headline: Stealth Challenger Seeks Political Upset
Date: March 5, 2006
By: Chris Fusco, Sun-Times
Excerpt: "Edwin Eisendrath - a Harvard graduate turned schoolteacher turned alderman turned public housing official turned college administrator - is now living what he hopes will be the political upset story of the century."

*

"At Harvard, he took time off to teach in Appalachia before graduating and returning home to become a Chicago public school teacher . . .

"When asked why he left teaching, he quickly answers, 'Four strikes in five years and a 12-year-old murdered in front of me' during a fight outside a school."

*

"As of Dec. 31, the lone Democratic challenger to Gov. Blagojevich raised just $209,000 - most of it from family and friends. Blagojevich , meanwhile, had more than $15 million at his disposal."

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Headline: Eisendrath Launches Attack Ads
Date: March 9, 2006
By: Scott Fornek, Sun-Times
Excerpt: '"Rod Blagojevich says he'll give you four more years of the same,' Eisendrath says in one. 'That's four more years of investigations, subpoenas, wiretaps in the governor's office. Four more years. Are you kidding? Democrats have to hold to a higher standard, or we're no better than this guy,' he says, holding up a photo of Cheney."

*

"'Gov. Blagojevich is working to improve health care and education and to pass a jobs bill and assault weapons ban,' spokesman Doug Scofield said. 'Silly, negative distortions from a desperate campaign are sad and irrelevant.'"

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Headline: A Message To The Governor
Date: March 12, 2006
By: Tribune editorial
Excerpt: "A 2004 Tribune review found more than 120 political appointees tied to $1.9 million in campaign donations to him. More than one of every four individuals and businesses that contributed at least $50,000 to Blagojevich received state business during his first term in office . . .

"This page gave great credit to Blagojevich in his first year for demonstrating discipline and creativity, particularly on spending . . . Then came fiscal tricks, massive borrowing and pension payment deferrals that have this state in nearly as precarious a financial position as it was three years ago. The Illinois auditor general has questioned many of the governor's claims of cost savings . . .

"Eisendrath's campaign and his platform have been too thin for the Tribune to offer a formal endorsement of his candidacy.

"Blagojevich, though, needs to hear the message that many Democrats are disappointed and disenchanted with his haphazard governance . . . Democrats who want to send a message to the governor have a way to convey it: Vote for Edwin Eisendrath."

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Headline: Blagojevich Deserves Chance To Keep Moving Forward
Date: March 12, 2006
By: Sun-Times editorial
Excerpt: "When Rod Blagojevich won the governor's office four years ago, he promised to shake things up in Springfield. Did he ever! He never feared to bruise egos in disturbing the go-along-get-along politics in the capital, where lobbyists outnumber legislators. His agenda of expanding educational opportunities and health care insurance for Illinois kids has earned him the endorsement of the Sun-Times News Group in his quest for the Democratic nomination for a second term as governor.

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Headline: A Beachwood Guide To The Primaries
Date: March 16, 2006
By: Steve Rhodes
Excerpt: "His stealth campaign is almost stalker-like. Has a lone challenger to a vulnerable sitting governor whose administration is drowning in corruption ever run as lame a campaign anywhere at any time in history?"

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Headline: Ways & Means: A Primary Review
Date: March 23, 2006
By: Steve Rhodes
Excerpt: "His phantom campaign won 30 percent of the vote. Makes you wonder what it would have been like had a real challenger stepped up and forced a real referendum on Public Official A's job performance."

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Headline: I'd Get A Kick Out Of Booting These Losers Into The Next State
Date: March 24, 2006
By: Rich Miller, Sun-Times
Excerpt: "You're supposed to run to win, not to make a 'statement.' Maybe Eisendrath started out his campaign with the idea that he could topple Gov. Blagojevich in the Democratic primary, but he seemed to have an aversion to putting together a real campaign.

"His TV ads, paid for with his mom's money, were horrid. His field organization was nonexistent. He had a long list of complaints but no solutions and he disappointed a whole lot of Democrats who wanted to see a real alternative to Blagojevich. And what's up with that 'Edwin' name? Who runs as Edwin? In the end, Eisendrath won many of the same counties that the ever-kooky Alan Keyes took in 2004. Some accomplishment."

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Headline: Proud Of My Campaign
Date: March 28, 2006
By: Edwin Eisendrath
Excerpt: Rich Miller's angry deportation piece [''I'd get a kick booting these losers into the next state,' commentary, March 24] aims at the wrong target. Sure, I lost a primary fight against an incumbent governor. Not every underdog carries the day. But I fought hard all over Illinois for the principles of our Democratic Party: building a growing and inclusive economy, funding and improving education, and good, honest government. That's real, and more than a third of Democrats agreed with me.

"Miller did not like my TV ads. Many others thought they were among the most effective of the year. I earned more than a quarter of a million votes and spent about $6 per vote. That makes my campaign one of the most efficient and effective in recent memory.

"Miller does not like my name. I suppose I could have adopted a new one for the campaign like some of the judicial candidates in Cook County sometimes do. But I ran as who I am, not some media consultant's concoction of programs, sound bites and comebacks.

"Of course, I would have preferred winning. Miller suggests that not doing so disappointed a lot of Democrats. I'm one of them. Still, those who helped me are proud of our campaign. Those who didn't can't really complain about it.

"But whether voters were with me or Gov. Blagojevich or voted in the GOP primary or just opted out, all Illinoisans are going to have to face our budget realities and work together to grow our economy and to invest in our future."

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Headline: On Second Thought: Campaigning Against A Culture Of Corruption
Date: Jan. 1, 2009
By: Edwin Eisendrath
Excerpt: "I challenged Rod Blagojevich for governor in the 2006 Democratic primary. I ran because he sold out the public for piles of campaign cash. I said no to Blagojevich when it mattered.

"A very savvy pol recently said to me, 'Ed, if we only knew then what we know now.' I replied that we did know it then. He laughed and admitted it was so . . .

Many people knew how bad it was . . . Nearly all the state's Democratic politicians calculated that rallying around Blagojevich would ensure their re-election.

"The insiders' reaction to my campaign was swift. Even before I formally announced, I heard from a longtime friend who leads a non-profit that is partially funded by the state. She was being pressured to sign a letter asking me not to run . . .

"A national Democratic Party leader warned me that running would only 'depoliticize the charges against the governor.' He meant, of course, that it would be better to write off any allegations of wrongdoing in an election year as just Republican name-calling. The head of one of the most powerful unions in America warned that loyalty and unity were the things that mattered in politics . . .

"A state representative told me after a church service how much she disliked the governor and loathed his brand of pay-to-play politics. That legislator appeared as the governor's surrogate at an endorsement session later the same day."

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Finally, you can see an archived version of Eisendrath's campaign website here; his campaign's BlagoGame.com is still live.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:03 AM | Permalink

August 2, 2010

The [Monday] Papers

1. Wow, what's next, Blackhawks drop Chief Blackhawk?

2. "When he arrives at the Markham courthouse, Adam receives a hero's homecoming," the Tribune reports. "It's one of his first appearances there since the trial began, and seemingly everyone wants to talk to him. Sheriff's deputies and defense attorneys hug him and offer their congratulations, while a fully robed judge steps off the bench and goes into the hallway to shake his hand.

"Another judge welcomes him back, then criticizes some rulings that Zagel made against the Blagojevich defense team."

Isn't that, um, inappropriate?

Name that judge!

"For his 90 minutes inside the building, Adam seems to forget his nervousness and reverts back to his gregarious ways. He trades kisses, fist bumps and hearty backslaps with people in the lobby. He waves as deputies point him out to young children and tell them that he's the ex-governor's lawyer.

"Though Adam later admits he recognized only 10 percent of the non-courthouse personnel who approached him, he acts as if everyone is a long-lost friend. He's like a kid who spent two long months at summer camp and is relieved to finally come home.

"'These are my people,' he says. 'They're salt of the earth. They're not interested in ego.'"

Just like you, Sam.

3. "Anger Erupts At Ravinia."

Police looking for walk-by cheese thrower.

4. "More Kids Have Personal Trainers" vs. "Child Poverty Over 30% In Chicago."

5. "Daley Looking To Expand Internet Access To Underdeveloped Neighborhoods."

Says reach of Beachwood Reporter needs to be broadened.

6. "Northwest Indiana Serbs Awaiting Blagojevich Verdict."

Niche journalism strikes again.

7. "Refrigerator Art Comes To Mag Mile" vs. "Unprecedented Number in Chicago and Cook County Seek Emergency Food Assistance."

8. Chicago artist's lime crime.

9. Live From Wicker Park Fest.

10. 20 Tweets: Oprah.

11. The Cubs finally give up the ghost.

12. The White Sox's unknown knowns.

13. SportsMonday: Trade Bait.

14. Report From The Front Lines.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: We save.


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:54 AM | Permalink

20 Tweets: Oprah

Taking on the world's most pressing issues . . .

1. Think you can host YOUR OWN SHOW? Or know someone who can. The search is on. Go to oprah.com for details. 9:11 PM May 19th via web

2. TheOprahShow The global call to end distracted driving--will you respond? Hang up; put it down; just drive. #gcedd #npz 10:09 AM May 19th via web Retweeted by Oprah and 100+ others

3. Great way to spend a Sunday - "Life" marathon all day on Discovery Channel 6:34 PM Apr 16th via web

4. Time flies - O Mag celebrates its 10th anniversary May 7-9. Join me and my friends in NYC! Tix @ Oprah.com/Oturns10 5:51 PM Apr 5th via web

5. A big No Phone Zone shout-out to ABC'S Cougartown! That's right guys, talking on your phone while driving IS crazy-dangerous 3:58 PM Mar 26th via OpenBeak

6. 15 minutes tune in to my Oscar special. Some cool celebs interviewing each other. 8:51 PM Mar 3rd via web

7. RT @SheriSalata if you need some perspective today about life watch film critic roger ebert on @TheOprahShow today. it is an uplifting WOW. 9:51 AM Mar 2nd via web

8. RT @sherisalata drew brees on today with his gorgeous wife and little baby boy-- big who dat fun. 1:11 PM Feb 12th via web

9. RT @sherisalata big moment with the fabulous Celine Dion today on @theoprahshow. surprise surprise surprise 8:41 AM Feb 10th via web

10. Yes that was REAL D, J and me. Shot Tuesday nite in New York undercover at D's studio. 6:37 PM Feb 7th via web

11. If you have a child.know someone who has a child.or you were molested as a child.I pray you'll watch Monday's show & Tweet me your thoughts 4:11 PM Feb 5th via web

12. RT @sherisalata Dr Oz on @theoprahshow today. Don't miss the first 12 minutes 8:44 AM Feb 4th via web

13. http://twitpic.com/10dbi7 - Hey y'all! Meet my new birthday babies... 3:37 PM Jan 29th via TwitPic

14. The aftershow reaction to our jay leno interview is up on oprah.com. http://tinyurl.com/yj9jywg 6:00 PM Jan 28th via web

15. @Sr_JoSeR I salute you I applaud you 6:11 PM Jan 20th via web

16. http://twitpic.com/yznza - It was a harpo staffer, novona who first told me about the magnitude of Maxwell. she hasn't quite recovered 5:56 PM Jan 20th via TwitPic

17. @cosmoalien - that's how we start a revolution. Did you sign the pledge? http://bit.ly/5lYRPb #nophonezone 5:03 PM Jan 20th via web

18. @KELivinlife - Next time tell the bus driver to stop texting! 5:00 PM Jan 20th via web

19. Wyclef will do great things for Haiti once he gets the right CFO. watch today's show. 10:31 AM Jan 20th via web

20. just met MAXWELL , so sweet, great spirit. loooved him. Rihanna's legs look like they're growing from her armpits. Boy is she gorgeous. 10:30 AM Jan 20th via web

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Previously in 20 Tweets:
* 20 Tweets: Richard Roeper
* 20 Tweets: Pete Wentz
* 20 Tweets: Billy Corgan
* 20 Tweets: Billy Dec
* 20 Tweets: Jeremy Piven
* 20 Tweets: Billy Dec Olympic Edition
* 20 Tweets: Bill Rancic
* 20 Tweets: Patti Blagojevich
* 20 Tweets: Stedman Graham

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:08 AM | Permalink

Live: From Wicker Park Fest

We beg to differ.

1. Post-punk post-mortem.

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2. The inventors of emo? With a French horn.

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3. His troubled mind.

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4. "Pushing the boundaries of live electronica for nine years."

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5. Straight Outta Duck Fest.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:04 AM | Permalink

SportsMonday: Trade Bait

I wonder if the White Sox and their fans were starting to worry when they couldn't even draw 30,000 for Friday's game with the A's.

Fortunately, 35,000-plus and 32,000-plus showed up for Saturday and Sunday, respectively, or Jerry Reinsdorf may have started slashing payroll, given his history of such threats.

Still, people, get your butts to the park. Not only is this a good team with a chance at greatness but it is a good team with a chance at greatness that needs you and your energy to beat the Minnesotans. Did you notice what happened this last week? That was when the White Sox won six of seven and lost ground in the standings to the Twinkies (winners of eight in a row).

Fortunately, the Twins now face much tougher opposition than the pathetic Mariners (who they swept over the weekend) on their upcoming lengthy road trip. But it isn't as though the White Sox have a series of cream puffs coming up.

One way the White Sox beat the Twins last week was that, in the grand scheme, the South Siders' big trade was a better move than Minnesota's big trade. I know that doesn't conform to conventional wisdom but hear me out.

Now, former Washington National Matt Capps is a good reliever and he has been a successful closer this year. He was what the Twins needed to stabilize their bullpen. But there are plenty of knowledgeable analysts who think he wasn't worth one of the top catching prospects in the game (Wilson Ramos) - a prospect the Twins were apparently unwilling to include in a potential deal for uber-ace Cliff Lee last month.

As for the White Sox's acquisition of Edwin Jackson for Daniel Hudson and a prospect, well, several national baseball columnists at mainstream sports web sites are convinced the White Sox acquired Jackson from the Diamondbacks only to pass him along to the Nationals in a deal for Adam Dunn.

And if that was the case it wasn't a good deal for the White Sox. But these guys are selling Kenny Williams short. It was actually clear Williams knew there was a decent chance Nationals GM Mike Rizzo wasn't going to accept a deal for Adam Dunn for anything less than Jackson and either Gordon Beckham or Carlos Quentin. And Williams, who understandably was not willing to deal one of his cornerstones and a prime young pitcher for the slugging first baseman who will be a free agent at the end of the season, did the deal for Jackson anyway.

Jackson has had powerful, accurate stuff and has proven he can use it to good effect over a long haul (13-9 with an impressive 3.62 ERA for the Tigers last year before being traded to the Diamondbacks). He has had a rough season this time around, especially since he threw about 150 pitches in a no-hitter last month.

But the White Sox have watched pitching coach Don Cooper resurrect or jump-start a series of careers over the past half-dozen years (starting with Jose Contreras during the glory year and moving on, most recently, to John Danks and Gavin Floyd, just to name a few). The only way the White Sox will win down the stretch (and in the playoffs for that matter) will be if they get consistent quality starts against good teams, the kind of starts that happen much more frequently with experienced pitchers with powerful stuff on the mound. If Cooper can just work a little of his magic, Jackson clearly has a better chance to provide more of those starts than callow rookie Hudson.

Of course it was also telling that Williams made sure to mention early and often that the Jackson trade helps the White Sox in 2010 and 2011. I think people are already forgetting it will be a minor miracle if the White Sox make the postseason this year for several reasons but most prominently because they lost their big money ace for the season for goodness sake. Jake Peavy's injury is the sort of setback that 99 percent of teams cannot just shrug off on their way to success.

Williams and White Sox fans know it will be tough for even Cooper to transform Jackson on the fly. But Williams decided it was a chance worth taking. And Jackson will have a great chance to be a great fourth starter for the White Sox next year.

In the end, isn't it something that Rizzo's stubbornness apparently paid off in his negotiation with the Twins but didn't with Williams. After all he got nothing for a slugger, Dunn, who will probably go elsewhere in free agency next year. Dunn reportedly wants to keep playing first base but his defense has slipped and he will be more valuable to an American League team that can at least play him at designated hitter some of the time.

*

As for the Cubs' big trade, the best rundown I found is this one from Call To The Pen.

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Jim "Coach" Coffman brings you SportsMonday (nearly) every Monday in this space. He welcomes your comments.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:11 AM | Permalink

A Good Kind Of Whimper

So this is the way trading season ends; not with a bang, but with a reclamation project pitcher no one believes the Sox ever really wanted in the first place.

Not that anyone's saying the team has finished all its wheeling and dealing (last year's waiver acquisition of Alex Rios should have proven once and for all that July acquisitions aren't the only acquisitions) but it's hard to see how a team which had pinned its hopes on its starting pitching can consider itself improved when the back end of the rotation just fell from an inexpensive rookie with high upside to an overpaid veteran with terrible numbers to his name.

There may be things we can't see here, but with any luck this is more a case of there being things we don't know.

The Nationals, for example, may have gone rogue and defied some kind of gentlemen's agreement that would have sent Adam Dunn our way; the Astros may not have even asked Lance Berkman and Roy Oswalt if they'd be interested in moving to Chicago; the Dodgers may have thought Kenny Williams was inquiring about some other Manny Ramirez.

Or, more plausibly, nothing big was ever really that close to happening. But it was nice, for a moment, to imagine it was, that the One Missing Piece was on its way and the Sox could finally go from winner to contender.

But then we remember: without a left-handed bat, without a power pitcher up front, without a designated hitter, without an enviable defense, the Sox are still ahead of the Twins, still the envy of the division, still the kings of the mountain. Quite literally trading tomorrow for today, they've let us know they think this season is for real.

Forget about waiver deals; by spending so much of the past few months winning, they've pushed themselves to the bottom of the pecking order on that front.

What the trade deadline instead gave us was comfort, knowledge, and the kind of partially justified arrogance that makes the dog days so exciting. This is the team. This is the time. Let's rock.

Week in Review: Assaulting. Sweep the four-game series against the Mariners, then outshank the Raiders A's to go 6-1 on the week.

Week in Preview: Homicidal. The team heads to Detroit, third-most murderous city in America, for a four-game set against the Tigers, then jet off to Baltimore, fourth-most murderous, for three against the Orioles.

Hawkeroo's Can-O-Corn Watch: "I tell ya, that Nick Markakis, he is some kind of baseball player. That is a guy who, if you take a ballplayer like that and you give him an outfield like this, I could see him hitting some of those Mickey Mantle kind of home runs, and you see it now when he comes up to the plate giving so many of the great pitchers trouble. You look at him against guys like Mark, like Freddy, like Jake, and that's a battle up there. If you could have a lineup of nothing but Nick Markakises against a rotation of Freddies and Marks, that'd be one heck of a ballgame, and that's why I love these trips to Baltimore: to see the best go up against the best."

Gordon Beckham Hall of Fame Update: Gordon Beckham failed attempts at hitting career home run number 600: zero. Alex Rodriguez failed attempts at hitting career home run number 600: 38. Advantage: Beckham.

Alumni News You Can Use: Former White Sox outfielder Scott Podesdnik was traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers to fill the void left by current White Sox outfielder Juan Pierre. The White Sox Report chuckled when it saw that.

The "H" in "DH" Stands For: Headcount, as both Juan Pierre and Alex Rios took a stab at the DH position last week. Pierre went 1-for-2 while Rios went 0-for-4, making them collectively as effective as all other White Sox designated hitters combined.

The Q Factor: Standing up and walking away from the television, he just shakes his head. That show got so much right, he thinks, but so much wrong as well. Yes, institutions become self-defeating but what is an 'institution,' really? We're dodging the core problem, which is neither structure nor buildings nor rules, even, but people. The humans who fail humans. We can blame these abstractions, but in the end we must simply point the finger at ourselves. Also, does anyone know where to find the storefront they used for Prop Joe's appliance shop? I want to get my picture taken there.

The Guillen Meter: His team welcoming a new pitcher aboard, the Guillen Meter reads 33 for "Edwin Jackson? Who the hell is Edwin Jackson?"

Endorsement No-Brainer: Ken Williams for jailhouse poker: sometimes nothin' can be a real cool hand.

Cubs Snub: The riot: quiet.

The White Sox Report: Read 'em all.

The Cub Factor: It's funny because it's true.

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Andrew Reilly lives in Chicago but never really came back from Milwaukee. The White Sox Report welcomes your comments.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:57 AM | Permalink

Coming Clean

Doesn't it feel good to come clean?

To finally admit it?

To stop the charade?

The Cubs finally admitted it to themselves, to their fans and, well, to anyone else who is paying attention: They suck.

They aren't lighting candles in church or rubbing their "lucky bat" to go on a big winning streak; they have finally told you "Look, we aren't going to win this year. We tried to pretend for a long time but even we couldn't keep up this level of pretending - and as you may know, that is saying something because we have been pretending to you for your entire life. We pretend to have a chance every season, we pretend that this next prospect is going to be the savior, we pretend to care about you, but most of all we pretend that we know what we are doing. We are done pretending this season, we f'd up and really have to look at ourselves in the mirror."

Yep, they finally told you that they are out of it. And I couldn't be happier.

Sure the rest of the season they will probably not win many more games, but it'll finally be something worth watching. A tryout for next season with the next group of guys doing most of the heavy lifting. I couldn't be happier as a fan of this team. This has been the best week of the season. It just would have been nicer if they moved a few more of their bigger issues. Because we can't pretend them away. Not for that much money.

Week in Review: The Cubs went 1-5 for the week losing two of three to the Astros and getting swept by the Rockies. It was still the best week of the season. No one can believe now.

Week in Preview: The Cubs come home for three against both the Brewers and Reds. Let the Blake DeWitt era begin. He instantly becomes the most likable Cub now that Ryan Theriot is gone, D-Lee hosed the team, and Ryan Dempster has had enough.

The Second Basemen Report: The Cub Factor would like to welcome Blake Dewitt to The Second Basemen Report. Blake, no one had any idea you would be the third guy the Cubs will try to start at second base every day this season. Even Jim Hendry had no idea, which is just like he drew it up.

In former second basemen news, Ryan Theriot is now a Dodger. The Riot became a fan favorite here because he tried really hard and wasn't very good. The fans in LA will figure this out soon enough if they haven't already. He will be missed.

The Zam Bomb: Big Z is back, baby. And he may be in a better mood, but the time off didn't fix his pitching any. So he is getting angry.

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Lost in Translation: Carlieoo Silvanee-san is Japanese for Cinderella at 12:01 a.m.

Endorsement No-Brainer: Blake DeWitt for the new face of the Chicago Cubs. Good luck, Blake.

Sweet and Sour Lou: 48% sweet, 52% sour. Lou stands pat this week due to attending his uncle's funeral. And just like your real crazy drunk uncle, when old uncle Dave died Lou knew he didn't have any vacation days left but he is quitting soon and the guys at the plant aren't going to be dicks, so they didn't dock him anything.

Ameritrade Stock Pick of the Week: Riot gear traded higher this week in Chicago. Then lower.

Over/Under: The number of games D-Lee should start the rest of the season: +/- 3.5.

Beachwood Sabermetrics: A complex algorithm performed by the The Cub Factor staff using all historical data made available by Major League Baseball has determined that the Cubs know they are still f'd for a while.

Agony & Ivy: It's a way of life.

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

The White Sox Report: Now with a weekly Cubs Snub.

The Mount Lou Alert System: Is still green and his uncle died. So yeah, I'm not going to touch that.

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Contact The Cub Factor!

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:09 AM | Permalink

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