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« October 2011 | Main | December 2011 »

November 30, 2011

The [Wednesday] Papers

"Mayor Rahm Emanuel has denied requests for public records that might shed light on his decisions to raise vehicle fees and water rates and to legalize speeding camera tickets that could hit drivers with $100 fines," the Tribune reports.

"It's the latest in a pattern of records denials from the mayor, who proclaimed a new commitment to transparency at City Hall under his leadership."

A chip off the ol' boss.

*

"After Emanuel announced his budget plans, the Tribune reported that there is little evidence to back up his claims that minivans and sport utility vehicles - singled out for big increases under the original proposal - cause more damage to roads. His revised fee plan passed by the City Council lowered the increases but broadened them to cover more vehicles"

(I put in that link, by the way. If you buy me lunch, Tribune, I'll show you how!)

"The newspaper also reported that the water and sewer rate hikes that would double many Chicago homeowners' bills by 2015 would also be passed along to the suburbs. Some suburban officials have questioned how the city plans to use the money."

(Ditto.)

"Separately, the mayor announced and gained quick state legislative approval for his plan to install speed cameras at 79 intersections near schools and parks, arguing that the first-ever use of such cameras in Illinois is needed to protect children. Tribune reports have questioned the statistics cited by the administration and disclosed that the legislation, awaiting action from Gov. Pat Quinn, would give Emanuel authority to expand the potentially lucrative program to nearly half the city."

(Ditto.)

Is anything true that this guy says?

*

See also: Reading Rahm: The Master Media Manipulator.

Charter Amendment
"Mayor Rahm Emanuel and other city leaders have long heralded charter schools' innovative approach to education, but new research suggests many charters in Chicago are performing no better than traditional neighborhood schools and some are actually doing much worse," the Tribune reports.

"[T]he trends show that despite their celebrated autonomy, discipline and longer school days, charter schools are struggling to overcome the poverty that so often hampers underperforming neighborhood schools.

"Charters with the highest numbers of students from low-income families or those with recognized learning disabilities almost universally scored the lowest last year on state exams, a trend common throughout CPS."

*

"A report to be released Wednesday by the Brown Center on Education Policy at the Brookings Institution ranks CPS second among large urban districts in providing choices for parents aside from traditional neighborhood schools. Expanding those options is a major point of emphasis for Emanuel and CPS chief Jean-Claude Brizard.

"But the majority of charter schools in Chicago and around the U.S. rely on nonunion teachers, who are frequently paid lower wages and asked to work longer hours."

*

"In short, most regular high schools in Chicago - with their unionized teachers - are beating the charters, at least when it comes to ACT scores," Ben Joravsky reported earlier this month for the Reader upon Senator Mark Kirk's claim that nine of the top 10 high schools in Chicago were charters. Kirk's critics should be aware that he was only making a claim that Emanuel himself made during his mayoral campaign.

"Rahm Emanuel asserted that besides Northside and Walter Payton, two public magnet schools, 'the seven best-performing high schools are all charters,'" Joravsky recalls.

"That's not any more true than what Kirk said. If anything, it's a more egregious falsehood than Kirk's. After all, Kirk's connection to Chicago is largely limited to using it as a place to raise money when he's not using it as a whipping boy to win over Chicago-hating voters from downstate and the suburbs.

"Emanuel, on the other hand, was running for mayor. So you'd think he'd at least know a few of the basics about the schools he was promising to reform."

*

So Rahm is either just plain wrong or simply lying about his budget and his education reform plan; arguably the two early pillars of his administration. Responding - as he is required by law - to the Tribune's records requests could shed light on whether he's misinformed, which seems highly unlikely given his highly touted smarts, or he's purposely not telling the truth, which he's spent much of his career doing.

Either way, the media-hyped political "win" of his unanimously passed budget says as little about the realities at-hand as they did during the reign of Richard M. Daley, whose legacy as a management miracle worker has disintegrated faster than Lance Louis chasing down an opposing linebacker.

The facts are the facts, and Rahm Emanuel is either not familiar with them or doesn't care. Do you?

Conflict Perverse
"Mayor Rahm Emanuel reacted angrily Tuesday to questions of whether it was a conflict of interest to award management of six new turnaround schools to the Academy for Urban School Leadership, whose former executives were handpicked by the mayor to help run Chicago Public Schools," the Tribune reports.

"It is not a conflict to give kids a good education," he said at a news conference touting AUSL. "It's the responsibility I have as mayor. The conflict would be if I knew it was here and I was scared to do it because of politics."

A) Is it a conflict to give kids a bad education?

"A growing body of research indicates Chicago's Renaissance 2020 plan to close, phase out, consolidate or turn around schools and turn them over to private charter school operators or selective enrollment schools does not benefit low-income students of color."

Which accounts for 86% of CPS students.

B) Rahm has never been scared of politics.

*

"Even though PURE sent Freedom of Information (FOIA) requests to all 85 Renaissance 2010 schools earlier this year, only 18 schools responded," Substance reported in 2008.

"Despite follow up letters from Arne Duncan and Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan, two-thirds of Renaissance 2010 schools never responded, even though they are legally obligated to do so."

Yeah, Rahm was gonna change all that.

*

When AUSL takes over, kids disappear.

*

"Blocks Together youth organizer Ana Mercado said she thinks administrators are trimming the rolls to increase the school's attendance figures," PURE reported last March. "CPS refuses to hold AUSL accountable for these lost children.

"We've blogged and testified about this issue before the Board of Education to no avail. No one knows if these students have gone on to create hugely successful internet businesses, landed on some faraway island where Wendy reads to them and Peter teaches them to fly, or what's happened."

*

Back to the Tribune:

"The principal of AUSL's Bethune School of Excellence was a co-chair of Emanuel's mayoral campaign. The former chairman of AUSL's board is now president of the city's Board of Education. CPS's new chief operating officer also comes from AUSL."

It's not a conflict, though, if Rahm is doing it for the kids and not at all acting all political and stuff. Like commissioning a poll to measure how his attacks on teachers are being received.

That's just his responsibility as mayor.

-

UPDATE 10:35 A.M.: I forgot to include this from the Trib earlier this month:

"The mayor refused Tribune requests for his emails, government cellphone bills and his interoffice communications with top aides, arguing it would be too much work to cross out information the government is allowed to keep private. After lengthy negotiations to narrow its request for two months of these records, the newspaper was told that almost all of the emails had been deleted.

"Emanuel's response is in keeping with that of his predecessor, Richard M. Daley, who repeatedly denied similar requests under the state's Freedom of Information Act. But it's not the practice in major cities across the nation.

"A Tribune survey found such records are routinely available - in many cases with a phone call or an email request - in Atlanta, Boston, Hartford, Houston, Miami, Milwaukee, Phoenix and Seattle. In Illinois, it only took a phone call to Gov. Pat Quinn's office to get the August bill for his taxpayer-funded cellphone."

*

And this from a Springfield State Journal-Register editorial:

"So you're a public official and you need to get some messages out but you don't want nosy people - the ones for whom you work and who pay your salary - checking your official phone or email to know what you're up to.

"What to do?

"Why, just use your personal cell phone and perhaps a private Gmail account you created specifically for this particular transaction. Voila! Instant exemption from the state Freedom of Information Act!

"Amazingly, that's pretty much how it worked until this month.

"And plenty of officials took advantage of that loophole. Their reasoning was simple: Because the communication happened on a private cell phone or computer, it's not in the government's possession and thus can't be considered a public record.

"An opinion issued by the Illinois Attorney General's Office on Nov. 15 changes that. The opinion stemmed from the city of Champaign's denial of a reporter's request for documents pertaining to public business, even if those documents were in private cell phone, Twitter or email accounts.

"The city partially denied the request by saying the documents were not in its possession.
That explanation violated the intent of the Freedom of Information Act, the attorney general's office said."

Good. Now let's see if Madigan has the guts to truly take on Chicago City Hall as aggressively as the chumps in Champaign.

-

The Beachwood Tip Line: Neither conflicted nor political.


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:05 AM | Permalink

Fantasy Fix: Hoop Dreams Are Here

The NBA is set to start a 66-game season on Christmas Day, and I have to say this pleases me both as a basketball fan and as a fantasy basketball participant. The first seven or eight weeks of the season - like the first month or so of baseball season - have always been a mess of waiting for stars to get their butts in gear while trying to determine which fast starters are really flashes in the pan. With a shorter season this year, the top 50 fantasy players are really going to have to come out and show their stuff immediately.

This is not to say there won't be bumps in the road. For example, we don't yet know where free agents like Nene Hilario, David West and Tyson Chandler will land (the free agent signing rush is likely to start Dec. 9). There also have been question about the availability of players who signed contracts to play in China, like Wilson Chandler. The upcoming season will not be without surprises.

Here's my early attempt at ranking the top 20 fantasy players:

1. LeBron James, SF, Miami: This will be the year Miami really rides him, with no worries about fatigue. I'm betting on both MVP and, finally, a championship.

2. Kevin Durant, SF, OKC: My No. 1 last year showed a gap or two in his game last season, but is still improving. He could easily make an argument for the top ranking.

3. Kevin Love, PF/C, Minn: Multi-talented breakout big man of last season (sorry, Blake Griffin). Could be even more dominant in a shorter season.

4. Derrick Rose, PG, Chi: Some rankers still argue for Chris Paul as the top PG and a top 3 pick, but Rose is far better in every facet but assists, and is still improving there.

5. Chris Paul, PG, NO: His shrinking numbers argue for a lower slot, but a potential trade to New York or elsewhere could change everything.

6. Dwyane Wade, SG, Miami: The aging superstar may yield a bit more to LeBron, but a shorter slate will help his health.

7. Dirk Nowitzki, PF, Dallas: The aging champ has nothing to prove anymore, but that should free him to have at least one more great season.

8. Dwight Howard, PF/C, Orl: We're no longer expecting his FT percentage to surpass 60%. Meanwhile, PPG and RPG were both up last season.

9. Stephen Curry, PG, GS: In line to post his first 20+ PPG season, though would be nice to see him beef up other stats, too.

10. Pau Gasol, PF/C, LAL: Mr. Consistency looks to gain from new coach Mike Brown's system, which won't be so Kobe-centric.

11. Deron Williams, PG, NJ: Looking to bounce back from a wrist injury, and the Nets will need him to do it all, not just steer the offense.

12. Russell Westbrook, PG, OKC: PPG and FTs jumped last year, pushing him into top five PG realm.

13. LaMarcus Aldridge, PF/C, Por: Another big man who broke out last season. Could be really impressive if he gets to the line more.

14. Kobe Bryant, SG, LAL: See No. 10 above. Still among the top scorers, but the buzz is that the shorter schedule and new system will hurt him.

15. Monta Ellis, SG, GS: With Curry, the other part of the Warriors' impressive 1-2 back-court scoring punch. Faded late last year, but is a good bet to return to 25 PPG.

16. Carmelo Anthony, SF, NY: PPG was slightly higher after last year's trade, and seems like he's added three-pointers to his repertoire.

17. Rudy Gay, SF/PF, Mem: Injury derailed a fine start last year, but he should inch up in all categories, including above the 20 PPG level.

18. Al Horford, PF/C, Atl: His stats trended a bit downward last year, but this should be his season to average a double-double, with few turnovers for a big man.

19. Al Jefferson, PF/C, Utah: One of the most buzzed-about veterans this season, looking for a return to double-double territory.

20. Amar'e Stoudemire, PF/C, NY: Put up MVP-like numbers until 'Melo came to town and a nagging back injury returned. Likely a feast or famine year.

We'll return with a fantasy football playoff outlook next week.

Expert Wire
* Yahoo!'s Big(ger) Board likes Durant at No. 1. I can't blame them, but I think we'll finally see the best LeBron has this year.

* Bleacher Report features its own top 100, including Paul at No. 3. They better hope he gets traded.

* Opposing Views has the experts saying that the short season will affect rookies. So don't go get Jimmy Butler just yet.

-

Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 4:59 AM | Permalink

November 29, 2011

The [Tuesday] Papers

"A $250 million corporate tax-break package aimed at keeping Chicago's financial exchanges and Sears from bolting Illinois wobbled out of a House committee Monday amid signs the measure faces legislative trouble," the Sun-Times reports.

"CME Group Inc., which owns the Chicago Board of Trade and the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, and Sears Holdings Corp. would stand to gain $100 million in tax savings under the legislation, which is poised for a full House vote after advancing out of that chamber's Revenue and Finance Committee by a 6-0 vote. Democrats accounted for all of the 'yes' votes, while two GOP members voted 'present.'

"The plan, which also contains a $1 million tax break aimed at luring Broadway productions to Chicago's theater scene, was pared back from an earlier $850 million package. It provides more modest tax breaks for small businesses and for the working poor."

Maybe they'll lure Les Miserables here and the theater community can mourn the poor they have stiffed.

*

"House Republicans on the committee expressed their own qualms, saying the bill did not go far enough for small businesses and questioned why ruling Democrats simply didn't repeal the hike in income taxes that took effect last January."

Because then Democrats couldn't campaign against loopholes in the tax code for corporations and special interests that they themselves enacted!

*

"One Republican, Rep. Sandy Cole (R-Grayslake), went so far as to scold CME for not showing up at the hearing to answer questions from legislators despite the firm's threats to move if state lawmakers don't cut its $150 million state tax bill."

Maybe they were too busy threatening other states that they would move their and loot their treasury.

*

"Cole voted 'present' on the package."

Cheeky!

*

"A CME spokesman declined comment on the company's absence."

In fact, the spokesman wouldn't even confirm the CME exists. "Just write out the check to Cash," he said.

*

"House Republican leader Tom Cross questioned how many more companies will come forward asking for tax breaks," the Tribune reports.

"If we do this tomorrow, who's going to be knocking on our door next week? Who's going to be knocking on our door in January? And everybody is going to say they've got a compelling case," Cross said.

You'd think that would be a sentiment every Democrat could get behind. You'd be wrong.

*

And any deal involving Sears should require the store to stop selling these.

Federal Judge Blasts Citigroup Settlement
Team Obama continues to ignore recidivist bank fraud.

The Legacy of Ruth Stone
And the legacy of Illinois upon her poetry.

Health Wealth
"As a long-time Chicago commodities trader, [Ken] Spriggs was shocked to discover that there's no standard to exchange patient data in health care," Forbes reports. "In finance, there's the financial information exchange; it's been the standard for swapping data for thirty years . . .

"Spriggs did go to Google Health to check out its personal health record, instead he found a blog post announcing that the company was shutting it down. He didn't bother looking up Microsoft's HealthVault.

"It took four arduous months for Spriggs to collect his data in the form of 600 loose papers, many handwritten, from doctors and hospitals in Chicago, Fort Collins, Co., and Charleston, S.C.; he just finished. Up until 1996, it is based on his recollection.

"By mapping out his drug prescriptions, Spriggs made three key observations, none of his doctors had made, or bothered to share."

Naked Eye
"Wyd Eye Software, a family-owned business in northern Illinois, has launched a new anti-sexting application that allows parents to monitor the texts and photos their children transmit on their mobile phones," the company says in a press release.

Ew.

Franks Spanx
"Coming on the heals of the successful million-dollar renovation of the house next to the Obamas in Hyde Park, General Contractor Foster Build is moving on to the 'Bobby Franks' mansion in nearby Kenwood," Curbed Chicago reports.

"In what promises to be a much larger but far smoother renovation, the former home of 'crime of the century' victim Bobby Franks, kidnapped and murdered in 1924, will be renovated head-to-toe. The property had been owned by The DeLena Day School, which closed in 1991. Vacant ever since, the school sold the house at auction in 2008 for $484,000."

Bootleg Wright
"A house designed by famous American architect Frank Lloyd Wright is on the market in the Chicago suburbs for a cool $1.4 million," the Daily Mail reports.

"The Robert G. Emmond House, built in 1892, is considered one of Mr Wright's 'bootleg' houses because he designed it in violation of his contract with a Chicago architecture firm."

Ridiculous Chicago Guitar Player . . .
. . . Shreds The Legends.

They Call Theo Epstein The Seeker
Ridiculously, he also plays guitar.

Richland Rogue
"The only daughter of Soviet dictator Josef Stalin, Svetlana Peters, who denounced communism after a Cold War defection worthy of a novel, has died in Wisconsin, authorities said on Monday," Reuters reports.

Turow Guilty
"With the success of mystery shows like C.S.I. and The Mentalist, why not try and bring back a staple of the '70s and '80s TV scene, the mystery movie of the week?" Brian Tallerico writes for HollywoodChicago.com.

"Such is the thinking behind TNT's programmers, as the network will debut a whopping four stand-alone mystery movies in the next month, starting with tonight's debut of Scott Turow's Innocent, starring Bill Pullmanz, Marcia Gay Harden, Alfred Molina, and Richard Schiff.

"Despite the stellar cast, this is a limp, dull effort that will only serve to remind viewers why they don't make TV movies like this often any more."

They Had A Doctor Who Fest In Lombard
Special guest appearance by Inspector Spacetime.

Chicago Christmas Ship
"The Duluth-based Coast Guard Cutter Alder is taking on a new role this week, re-enacting the voyage of the legendary 'Christmas Ship' on Lake Michigan," the Duluth News Tribune reports.

"The Alder departed Sault Ste. Marie, Mich., this morning with a load of Christmas trees, bound for Chicago, according to a Coast Guard news release. After the Alder arrives in Chicago on Friday morning, the trees will be distributed to low-income families.

"The journey is a re-enactment of the voyage of the original Christmas Ship, the schooner Rouse Simmons, which brought Christmas trees and wreaths from the Upper Peninsula to Chicago for many years. The Rouse Simmons, with its load of Christmas trees, sank with all hands in a Lake Michigan storm in 1912."

Jail Bait
"A man who was stabbed in his jail cell because another inmate could open his door without a key can sue corrections officials individually, a federal judge ruled," Courthouse News Service reports. "Byron Brown has spent over two years as a pretrial detainee of the Cook County Jail.

"In August 2009, a guard served Brown breakfast in his cell at 3:30 a.m., then supposedly locked and shut the cell door. Brown ate and went back to sleep.

"At approximately 4 a.m., an unknown detainee 'popped' open the door of Brown's cell and stabbed Brown in the head and forearm with a homemade knife. Brown required staples and stitches to close the wounds and now has permanent scars.

"He sued Cook County Sherriff Thomas Dart, Cook County Jail Superintendent Michael Miller and Cook County Jail Executive Director Salvador Godinez in January 2011 for violating the 14th Amendment by failing to protect him from harm while he was in custody.

"It was allegedly 'widespread and common knowledge' throughout the jail that numerous cell doors were 'in a state of disrepair.' Specifically, Department of Justice officials inspected the condition of the jail and reported the malfunctioning doors to Cook County employees, according to the complaint."

-

The Beachwood Tip Line: Widespread.


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:51 PM | Permalink

Why A Federal Judge Trashed The SEC's Settlement With Citigroup

When the Securities and Exchange Commission struck a deal with Citigroup over a failed security that the bank sold to investors, we asked whether regulators had handed Citigroup too sweet a deal.

Today in Manhattan, U.S. District Judge Jed Rakoff appeared to reach that very conclusion: "If the allegations of the Complaint are true, this is a very good deal for Citigroup," Rakoff wrote as he refused to sign off on the $285 million proposed settlement agreement.

While the full opinion is worth reading, here's a summary of the judge's objections:

The SEC's allegations don't match the charges.

The SEC, in its complaint, alleged that Citigroup knowingly misrepresented or failed to disclose to investors key information about the collateralized debt obligation, or CDO, known as Class V Funding III. We first reported on Class V last year in our story on CDO self-dealing, noting that the CDO contained risky pieces of other Citigroup CDOs.

Specifically, the SEC charged that Citi put risky assets into the deal, bet against it and didn't disclose that to investors. According to the SEC, "Citigroup knew it would be difficult" to sell the CDOs if it disclosed all that to investors.

Judge Rakoff concluded, "This would appear to be tantamount to an allegation of knowing and fraudulent intent"

But in the end, the SEC only charged Citigroup - and one low-level exec - with negligence, for which there's a lower standard of proof than for intentional fraud. Charges were not filed against more senior Citi execs who, according to the SEC, also knew details of the deal.

The settlement's boilerplate language forbidding future violations by Citigroup is essentially meaningless.

"By the S.E.C.'s own account, Citigroup is a recidivist," wrote Rakoff, who noted that the SEC had not sought to enforce that prohibition for at least a decade.

The context here is more than adequately explained by a recent New York Times article that found that Citigroup had agreed on at least four other occasions not to violate that same anti-fraud statute, only to continually break that promise.

The fine is too modest to have a deterrent effect.

According to Rakoff, the fine in this case is "pocket change to any entity as large as Citigroup" and amounts to just a cost of doing business.

Rakoff loathes the longstanding practice of reaching settlements without admissions of wrongdoing.

Sure, it's standard in deals like this, and judges have routinely signed off on such language, but Rakoff has signaled that he has serious qualms about non-admission, non-denial settlements.

For one, he said the Citi deal shortchanges investors, who lost more than $700 million, according to the SEC: With no mea culpa from Citi, private investors will have a much harder time bringing their own lawsuits against the company - which, for Citigroup, is precisely the point.

Rakoff also argued that this practice cheapens judicial power, which must be used in conjunction with "cold, hard, solid facts." A non-admission of guilt but agreement to pay, while in keeping with conventional procedure, denies the court of established facts on which to decide whether the settlement is reasonable, he said.

The truth should come out.

Finally, Rakoff argued that, especially regarding the financial sector 2013 and especially now, the public deserves to know the truth: "In any case like this that touches on the transparency of financial markets whose gyrations have so depressed our economy and debilitated our lives, there is an overriding public interest in knowing the truth."

One thing Rakoff didn't touch on? A discrepancy we raised last month: Citigroup seems to believe this deal would have settled all of its potential liability over CDOs - something the SEC has denied.

The SEC's response.

The SEC issued a statement today defending its settlement: "We believe that the proposed $285 million settlement was fair, adequate, reasonable, in the public interest, and reasonably reflects the scope of relief that would be obtained after a successful trial," said Robert Khuzami, the SEC's head of enforcement.

Khuzami pointed out that Rakoff's objection to the lack of an admission of guilt "ignores decades of established practice throughout federal agencies and decisions of the federal courts."

That response is in line with what Khuzami has said in the past - that securing confessions from companies like Citi, while ideal, would slow down the agency's investigations.

"No one disagrees with the sort of abstract notion that you'd like to have admissions in your cases," Khuzami said earlier this month. "One has to make choices between competing demands."

The SEC also has argued that taking banks to costly trials would divert scarce resources from its other efforts to fight securities fraud, and prove counterproductive.

What's next?

The case has been scheduled for trial next year - something Citigroup would presumably like to avoid, given the mountains of evidence in the SEC's possession that would become public in a trial.

But a trial is still not a sure thing. Rakoff initially rejected a proposed SEC settlement with Bank of America but eventually approved a deal last year after the agency came back with a bigger fine. It remains to be seen whether the SEC will try to do the same this time around.

-

Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 11:58 AM | Permalink

They Call Theo Epstein The Seeker

"Newly signed GM for the Chicago Cubs comes back to Boston to throw down with Buffalo Tom and Mike O'Malley. Song: The Seeker. Event: Buffalo Tom's 25th Anniversary show at Brighton Music Hall, 26 November 2011."


*

Now go get us Prince Fielder!

*

Background:

"Buffalo Tom is a perennial performer at the Hot Stove Cool Music concerts that benefit Theo Epstein's charity Foundation To Be Named Later."

*

Theo is scheduled to return to Boston on January 12, 2012, for the next Hot Stove Cool Music event:

"Our Foundation To Be Named Later fundraiser will feature performances by Grammy award-nominated Boston Native Susan Tedeschi, legendary Boston rockers The Remains, Grammy award-winning guitarist Derek Trucks, and the Hot Stove All-Stars featuring Peter Gammons, Buffalo Tom's Bill Janovitz, indie rocker Kay Hanley, J. Geils Band's Seth Justman, folk rocker Robin Lane and more. Glee actor Mike O'Malley will take the reins as emcee."

*

From the Theo archives:

Last January, helping out with "Tallights Fade."

*

With Gammons in the band, 2010:

*

The 2010 finale including Bronson Arroyo and Kevin Youkilis.

-

Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 11:25 AM | Permalink

The Legacy of Ruth Stone

"Ruth Stone, a poet who wrote in relative obscurity until receiving the National Book Award at the age of 87 for her collection In the Next Galaxy, died on Nov. 19 at her home in Ripton, Vt. She was 96. Her death was announced [last] Tuesday by her daughter Abigail Stone," the New York Times reports.

"A quietly respected poet who wrote in rural solitude, Ms. Stone became something of a public figure when news of her award was announced in November 2002 and press accounts drew attention to her unusual life story of struggle and belated acclaim, dominated by the suicide of her poet husband in 1959."

Walter Stone was a graduate student at the University of Illinois when they met.

*

"By age 19, Stone was married and had moved to Urbana, Ill., studying at the University of Illinois," AP recalls. "There, she met Walter Stone, a graduate student and poet who became the love of her life, well after his ended. 'You, a young poet working/in the steel mills; me, married, to a dull chemical engineer,' she wrote of their early, adulterous courtship, in the poem 'Coffee and Sweet Rolls.'

"She divorced her first husband, married Stone and had two daughters (she also had a daughter from her first marriage). By 1959, he was on the faculty at Vassar and both were set to publish books. But on a sabbatical in England, Walter Stone hung himself, at age 42, a suicide his wife never got over or really understood."

*

From an interview with Modern American Poetry:

MA: Where did your anger with men come from? How old were you?

RS: I was older, when Walter died, I finally woke up to what was going on. I was in Illinois teaching and a bunch of us bought out a magazine and put women's writing into it. I must have been 44, I was 42 when he died.

*

"In 1959, after her husband committed suicide, she had to raise three daughters alone, all the time writing what she called her love poems, all written to a dead man who forced her to 'reside in limbo' with her daughters."

*

"A different way to think about genius."

*

In The Next Galaxy.

-

Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:48 AM | Permalink

They Had A Doctor Who Fest In Lombard

The annual convention billed as the premier Doctor Who event in the Midwest took place over the weekend.

(From the Elgin Courier-News preview: "For the uninitiated, Doctor Who involves the exploits of the titular character, a time lord from another world who takes human companions on adventures through history using the TARDIS (Time and Relative Dimension in Space), a space ship of sorts that looks like an English police box on the outside. The British sci-fi series originally ran from 1963 until 1989. There was a made-for-TV movie in 1996. The series returned to the BBC in 2005, and now it is more popular than ever.")

Let's take a look.

1. "I only travel first class . . . "


*

2. A Dalek makes an appearance.

*

3. Dalek meets girl.

*

4. Children pet the electronic K-9.

*

5. The guests.

*

6. Community's spoof.

*

7. A Chicago TARDIS plea to save Community.

*

8. A wrap-up from fan club president Rob Levy.

-

Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:04 AM | Permalink

Ridiculous Chicago Guitar Player Shreds The Legends

"Michael Angelo Batio, also known as Mike Batio or MAB, is a guitarist and columnist from Chicago, Illinois. His work has encompassed many genres, notably metal and its subgenres. Batio was voted the 'No. 1 Shredder of All Time' by Guitar One Magazine in 2003. He was also listed as one of the 'Top 100 Greatest Metal Guitarists of All Time' by Guitar World Magazine, for which he wrote the column 'Time to Burn,' and one of the '20 Greatest Shredders of All Time' by Total Guitar Magazine, both in April 2008. Batio also won the 2009 Guitar World Magazine Readers Choice award in the 'Best Shredder' category. In November 2011, Michael won the Guitar World Magazine Readers Choice Award and was voted the 'Fastest Guitarist of All Time.' Over 440,000 votes were cast."


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"Michael is from Chicago, Illinois and has a B.A. in Music Theory and Composition from Northeastern Illinois University," Batio's bio says.

"When MAB was in college and taught guitar privately, Tom Morello [who grew up in Libertyville] from Rage Against the Machine was his student."

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"Michael Angelo Batio's Hands Without Shadow's - A Tribute to Rock Guitar show is a multimedia extravaganza featuring the music of some of the greatest rock guitarists of the past 50 years.

"Guitar legend and virtuoso Michael Angelo Batio takes you on his 90-minute auditory and visual journey to the different eras of rock music while playing guitars with incredible speed and musical precision.

"Michael begins by first playing guitar right-handed, then left-handed, then playing two guitars at the same time on his Double-Guitar and ending the show by performing on a four necked, mechanized, laser equipped, 'Quad' guitar.

"This chronological tribute features Michael's incredible arrangements and medley's from the different eras of rock beginning with Jimi Hendrix and Eric Clapton, then moving on to Led Zeppelin, Van Halen, Metallica and more."

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According to the ProQuest and NewsBank databases, Batio's name has never appeared in the Tribune or Sun-Times.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:27 AM | Permalink

November 28, 2011

The [Monday] Papers

I'm gonna get some coffee. Take a shower. Ease back into the work week. So here's what we've got so far.

1. The Weekend in Chicago Rock.

Are you kidding me? Check out how many interesting and even great shows took place on Saturday night. And several top venues aren't even repped. If you're not rockin' in this town, you're not livin'.

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In particular, check out Lady Pank, which played Burbank.

And what's it like to be Jackyl playing Libertyville?

2. Elyse Keaton Had An Abortion.

3. The Weekend in Occupy Chicago.

Rahm Emanuel mic checked, the Occupied Chicago Tribune, and an Occupy Christmas Carol (the first of many, we trust).

How can you not love this movement?

4. The Borrowed Book visits Chicago and recommends a breakneck chase for a murderous maniac.

5. If Aliens Abduct You.

A guide.

6. Paging Kyle Orton!

But we'll accept Josh McCown.

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Memo to Caleb Hanie: You can fake a spike but you can't fake a fake spike.

7. Occupy the Beachwood!

I'll be back behind the bar tonight slinging cold Old Styles and judging your jukebox picks. Doors open at 5 p.m. and close at 2 a.m.

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Also:
* Don't forget to follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Mic checked.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 1:04 PM | Permalink

The Weekend in Occupy Chicago

This is what democracy looks like.

1. "It behooves President Obama to put his Justice Department to work going after those police departments which have broken the laws and which have teargassed and beaten American citizens for exercising their constitutional rights."


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2. Occupy the Red Line tomorrow.

WHEN: Tuesday 11/29, 5:30 p.m.

WHERE: Meet at McDonald's next to the 95th/Dan Ryan Red Line Stop

WHAT: We will have a brief meeting to run through the script, assign roles, distribute flyers and discuss the plan. Around 6pm, we will board the Red Line train and take it to Jackson. From there we will march to the Occupy Chicago General Assembly at Congress and Michigan.

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3. Occupy Christmas Carols!

Emanuel, Emanuel
The Mayor sold us out!
16 million to his banker friends
That's what he's all abou-out!
Emanuel, Emanuel
The Mayor sold us out
Fines and fees and job layoffs
Cutting workers till they shou-out!

You'll be a one term Mayor
Cause the people who you serve
Don't think that you really care
About their jobs at all (no, no, no!)
We'll occupy all day
and we'll occupy all night
Until you change your way
We won't give up our fight!

Emanuel, Emanuel
The Mayor sold us out!
16 million to his banker friends
That's what he's all abou-out!
Emanuel, Emanuel
The Mayor sold us out
Fines and fees and job layoffs
Cutting workers till they shou-out!

The Mayor's only friends
Line his pockets full of cash
He'll sell out city piece by piece
Till we're left with only ash (cough, cough, cough)
We are here to say ENOUGH
That we just won't take no more
When Rahm tries to take your job
Just tell him: there's the door!

Occupy, Occupy
Occupy in your heart!
People fighting for their human rights
Can never be torn apa-art
Occupy, Occupy
Occupy in your heart
Join us against these budget cuts
And the Mayor will fall apart!

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4. Chicago Afrobeat Project for Occupy Chicago at Reggie's on Friday night.

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5. Occupied Chicago Tribune.

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6. Rahm Emanuel Mic Check.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:11 PM | Permalink

Family Ties Mom At Chicago Pro-Choice Event

"Local bipartisan pro-choice political action committee Personal PAC hosted its 18th annual luncheon Nov. 17 at the Hilton Chicago," Windy City Times reported last week. "Events began with a VIP reception featuring speaker and out actress Meredith Baxter."

In an interview that WCT's Jerry Nunn, Baxter revealed a personal link to the cause:

"To tell the truth, I had an abortion. I didn't write about that [in her book] because it was just another sad aspect to my relationship with David [Birney]. I had to. It was actually a therapeutic abortion. It just happened to come a couple of years after Roe v. Wade was signed as a law. It was certainly legal. It had to happen and that was fine. It was a horrible time in our lives. It was two years into our marriage. I was desperately unhappy. I already had three children and thought I cannot do this again. I thought I was going to lose my mind if I had this other child. I wasn't ready for a fourth. I think it was before I did Family."

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Baxter was confronted by anti-abortion activists while here. This video was uploaded to YouTube last Thursday.

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See also: Family Ties' Mom Reveals She's A Lesbian

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And: Baxter's Untied: A Memoir of Family, Fame and Floundering

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 11:47 AM | Permalink

The Borrowed Book Visits Chicago

A history primer and a book recommendation.


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Ten Plagues via Amazon:

"Join the breakneck chase through Chicago for a murderous maniac. As the victims begin piling up, detective Keren Collins's spiritual discernment is on high alert. Will she capture the killer before another body floats to the surface? Ex-cop, now mission pastor Paul Morris has seen his share of tragedy, but nothing prepared him to be a murderer's messenger boy. Will his old ruthless cop personality take over, leading him to the brink of self-destruction? Can Keren and Paul catch the killer before the corpse count reaches a perfect ten?"

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See also: The Borrowed Book

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 11:24 AM | Permalink

The Weekend in Chicago Rock

You shoulda been there.

1. The Kooks at the Vic on Saturday night.


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2. Corey Taylor at the Double Door on Saturday night.

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3. Umphrey's McGee at the Aragon on Saturday night.

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4. Peter Murphy at the Metro on Saturday night.

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5. Cardiac Arrest at the Empty Bottle on Saturday night.

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6. Ghost of Vegas at the Red Line Tap on Friday night.

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7. Marketa Irglova at Lincoln Hall on Saturday night.

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8. Hoax at 2201 West Huron on Saturday night.

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9. Lady Pank at The Club in Burbank on Saturday night.

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10. She Wants Revenge at the Metro on Saturday night.

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11. Kid Rock at the House of Blues on Saturday night.

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12. Jackyl at Austin's Fuel Room in Libertyville on Friday night.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:43 AM | Permalink

SportsMonday: Paging Kyle Orton!

The kid is lucky the Bears didn't sign Orton.

Everyone was going nuts last year (myself very much included) when the coaching staff left in way-past-his-expiration-date quarterback Todd Collins to lead a second straight ineffective possession against the Packers in the NFC Championship game. But there was Caleb Hanie still in there for the second half on Sunday during the Bears' 25-20 loss to the Raiders after a grim first 30 minutes. Before the intermission he reminded us that there is ineffective (Collins last year) and there is willfully self-destructive.

Of course, if the Chiefs hadn't claimed Kyle Orton off waivers before the Bears had the chance last week, Hanie would still have been on the field in the second half against the Raiders. And he still would be the starter this coming Sunday against the Chiefs. And he still may end up being a decent quarterback in the NFL. How many times do commentators have to watch quarterbacks who have been in the league for five-plus years finally get it before they stop completely condemning signal-callers who have been in the league for only a few campaigns and are still struggling? For many guys it takes a long time to figure out how to play this toughest of positions in this toughest of leagues.

But if the Bears had signed Orton and he had this week to prepare, Hanie would be looking at a much shorter leash against Kansas City. A couple of picks and he'd be bench-bound. As it stands, he would have to be considerably worse in the first half this coming Sunday than he was against the Raiders in order for veteran backup Josh McCown to get into the game versus the Chiefs and I'm not sure that's possible.

As for the difficult details of the loss that left the Bears 7-4 and tied for a projected wild-card spot, well, it must first be noted that the third Hanie pick was at least as much on the play-caller as the quarterback. The first two . . . come on, Caleb! But that third one, well, the Raiders clearly engaged in comprehensive film study because the play was virtually identical to one the Bears ran in the season opener against the Falcons. Clearly Kamerion Wimbley and Aaron Curry in particular weren't surprised when Hanie turned and fired an almost blind pass back toward tight end Kellen Davis.

Only Lance Louis's spectacular hustle play, during which the tackle covered almost the entire length of the field to make a tackle, prevented a crushing touchdown against (proposed rule change - offensive linemen who cover more than 50 yards to make a tackle are allowed to grab ball-carriers by their collars). Wimbley went down near the 10, a penalty was assessed, the Bear defense held and the Raiders kicked a field goal.

Hanie has to know he can't throw that pass if he isn't utterly confident the entire defense has been fooled. But Martz should have known that a young quarterback will be far more likely to simply turn and heave a throw on that sort of play.

Back to the big picture for a moment: Using Hanie's performance on Sunday as a lens with which to better view Cutler's 2011 season, one realizes that the big thing Cutler has done this year is cut way down on the sorts of disaster picks that lose football games all by themselves.

And back to the details: That was one beautiful deep ball Hanie threw and one beautiful catch Johnny Knox made on that 81-yard play in the last few minutes. It is hard to understand why the Bears don't run at least one of those plays (a bomb to Knox) every game.

As for the defense: Welcome back, pass rush. That was a quality performance by Julius Peppers and Amobi Okoye in particular. As a result, Carson Palmer made numerous ill-advised throws. On the other hand, any time you want to actually grab one of those about four near-interceptions you had, Tim Jennings, that would be great.

And finally, the opposing coach: Good thing the Bears didn't quite find a way to come back and win that game, Hue Jackson. You would have had some serious splainin' to do. I don't care how messed up the personnel package was after that Darius Heyward-Bey sideline reception turned incompletion after the review in the second half. Actually, that shouldn't even have been an issue. You need to have a couple "possible pending challenge plays" in your pocket ready to go for situations like that. The team hustles to the line and prepares to run a play and at least you force the opposing coach to throw a challenge flag before he has the luxury of hearing from an assistant who has carefully viewed all replays.

Instead because you didn't have matching personnel and play call, you called a timeout that made it easy for coach Lovie to throw a risk-free challenge flag, which eventually negated what would have been an almost 20-yard reception and a first down near midfield. Not good.

And what was the deal with that last timeout as Robbie Gould was unleashing a mediocre initial onside kick (it landed way too far within the Raiders' coverage unit)? You may have been trying to freeze Gould (but you really shouldn't do that unless it is a late field goal) or you may have felt your team wasn't quite ready for the play but what you did was give Gould a nice little practice kick.

Sure enough, Gould's second effort was about as good as an expected onside kick can be, enabling Charles Tillman to crash into the Raider who was attempting to catch it just as the ball arrived and making it a free-for-all for possession. Jackson caught a huge break when his team came up with the ball anyway.

Finally, what the hell, Caleb?

"It's not like delayed spikes are only an NFL rule," Chris Chase writes for Yahoo!. "The same interpretation applies at the high school and college levels, so Hanie doesn't have an excuse."

See also:: The Official NFL GameDay Highlights.

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Comments welcome.


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:44 AM | Permalink

Strategy and Tactics to Manage an Alien Abduction or Unavoidable Alien Encounter

These suggestions constitute a set of organized strategies and tactics for survival under conditions of a forced encounter with members of extraterrestrial species which have unknown cultural traditions and advanced technology. The official position of the United States Government is that there is no possibility you will ever have to deal with this situation. Based upon the reported extraterrestrial abduction experiences of a significant number of individuals, this is a falsehood. There is no stated or implied warranty or guarantee that following these suggestions will result in a favorable outcome should anyone attempt to use them. Neither James Roger Brown nor The Sociology Center assumes any liability for their use or attempted use. Use these suggestions at your own risk.

The official United States Government position denying the existence and presence on Earth of extraterrestrials creates a hardship on citizens who have encounters with technologically advanced nonhuman species. There is a complete absence of any rational guidance from government and nongovernment crisis management organizations for citizens to follow managing such encounters.

The forms of possible interactions with extraterrestrials range from immediate death to the repeated collection from specific individuals of biological samples or information. The experiences reported by abductees run the gamut from feelings of terror and powerlessness to friendship and cooperation with the operations conducted by extraterrestrials. Extraterrestrials here as part of nonhuman government or military operations will be operating under one or more of the following, a mission plan, rules of engagement, legal code, health protocols, bureaucratic operating manuals, medical protocols, scientific protocols, intelligence collection protocols, and contamination control protocols. Extraterrestrial contractors, or their equivalent, working for a government or military will be operating under contract or order specifications. Robotic devices will be operating under some type of programming and may or may not be able to make independent decisions. Nonhuman species may be unfamiliar and frightening, but social processes, division of labor, command or management structures, and bureaucracies are familiar things you can comprehend through observation and rational thought.

Modified instructions for situations involving human abductors and hostage-takers may be of some use dealing with extraterrestrial abductors.

1. Attempt to avoid or escape the abduction. You must balance the risk of immediate death or injury against the reasonable expectation of a successful escape. If you experience unusual phenomena in your immediate vicinity that might be the result of advanced or clearly extraterrestrial technology, it might be prudent to put some distance between you and extraterrestrials or their technological proxies. If circumstance or time constraints prevent running, attempting to hide may be beneficial.

Especially for first-time abductees, your most profound initial trauma and fear will be that you do not know what is going to happen to you. During the initial stage of an abduction, the extraterrestrials will be dealing with the necessity of gaining physical control of you. They will have with them some means of accomplishing control of you. You must remain calm and make a rational assessment of the lethality of their equipment. A hand-held device that resembles a pistol is most likely a projectile or beam weapon. If your nerve signal transmissions are inhibited or blocked, you will not be able to move during your capture. This may be a terrifying experience, but you should still try to remain calm and rational. Remember everything you can about the experience. Any piece of information or understanding you gain may be invaluable as your abduction experience progresses.

If your central nervous system processes are not blocked or inhibited and no obvious projectile or beam weapon is present, simply running to escape may be possible. If the extraterrestrials appear unarmed and your only option is physical resistance, look for improvised weapons in your immediate vicinity. Also determine if they are using some breathing assistance device that you can pull away from their body and temporarily incapacitate them to improve your chances for a successful escape attempt.

Abductees report that just before they are released, their memories of the abduction event are erased or suppressed (that is why abductee regression therapists must use hypnosis or other methods to help their client recover the abduction memories). Some abductees report that conscious memory of abduction events or information can be retained by continually running what you want to remember through your mind, including when the erasure or suppression procedure is performed. The procedure involves touching the center of your forehead, which will be an indication of your pending release.

If you decide that immediate escape is not possible or will result in death or injury, cooperate with them and follow their instructions. If you feel familiar or safe with the extraterrestrials, it may be best to avoid escalating the situation with violent resistance. In the absence of necessary rational decision-making information, your intuition or inner voice may be your best survival guide.

2. Observe and remember as much as possible. Your goal is to improve your circumstances and expedite your escape or release. Look for any physical or social tools that can help you.

What is the layout and construction material of any place you are held? What are the number and types of species present? Can you identify uniforms, rank designations, or social deference among them? Is there a command structure among your captors? Are other humans present and what are their circumstances? Are other humans helping them process you or observing? Can you communicate with any other humans present? What security measures are in place to control you? How restricted are your movements? Can you determine their emotional states and attitude toward you? Can you determine from your surroundings why you were abducted or captured? Can you determine from your surroundings what they plan to do with you? Have you been injured, if so, can you ask for medical treatment? Can you understand their language or other means of communication? Does anyone in the immediate vicinity speak your language?

3. If you feel extreme fear or go into shock, regain your composure as quickly as possible. Extreme emotional states cause physiological changes in your central nervous system that make it difficult for you to process sensory input and make rational decisions. Extreme emotional states may result in increased levels of physical restraint or the use of unknown potentially dangerous drugs to control your behavior.

4. Try to determine why you have been abducted or captured. The most likely interests extraterrestrials will have in ordinary individuals are biological samples, recording physiological processes, or collecting intelligence.

Extraterrestrial intelligence collection protocols of at least one alliance are based upon scanning your central nervous system to identify neural structures associated with specific skills and knowledge. Neural structures are the unit of intelligence analysis and the units of a three dimensional social network mapping protocol that simultaneously integrates individual and group components of social exchanges.

Neural structures associated with specific skills are scanned and recorded for secondary use from knowledge bases. At the first opportunity, regardless of the abducting species, inform the extraterrestrials that you claim ownership rights for all the neural structures that exist in your central nervous system past, present, and future. Inform them that you want equitable compensation for copying any or all of your neural structures and equitable compensation for all future use of those copied neural structures in other individuals of any species, robotic devices, artificial intelligence or any automated applications.

Individuals may be monitored over time to study the addition of new skills. Since a finite number of skills exist in the world human population, not every human would need to be collected and scanned. A Golden Sample of an unknown percent of the total population would only need to be abducted and scanned to have a complete inventory of all the neural structures associated with specific human skills and knowledge.

A typical intelligence collection abduction experience might consist of being shown images or given a task while the central nervous system is scanned to identify the neural structures activated.

Some abductees report sexual or reproductive components to their abduction experience. Your reaction to this possible situation should again be based upon an assessment of whether resistance would result in your death or injury. It might be advisable to put some realistic thought into how you could mentally and physically deal with nonconsensual sex under such circumstances.

5. Survival should be your priority. Based upon the reports of abductees, at least some are held a short time for specific functions and returned, frequently to the same location from which they were taken. However, you should consider the possibility you may be kept for an extended period of time, especially if you have been abducted or captured as part of some military operation. The important point to remember is that people survive abduction experiences. If you do not panic, observe what is happening around you, and think rationally, you also have a chance of surviving an abduction.

6. Your abductors or captors may perceive taking you a time of high risk for them. Stay calm and try to calm any fear or anxiety your abductors may be experiencing. Cooperate within boundaries acceptable to you. Do not engage in arguments. Do not engage in violence against them unless your life is in immediate danger or it is part of an effective escape plan. Only attempt to escape if you have an acceptable chance of success or your situation suddenly becomes desperate. An unsuccessful escape attempt may result in an increased level of restraint or retribution. It would probably be pointless to attempt an escape if you know the craft or facility where you are held is not on the surface of the Earth.

7. Find ways for the extraterrestrials to identify with you as a sentient being with feelings. Try to make friends with one or all of your abductors. If they form some bond with you, it may be more difficult for them to kill, harm, or abuse you. Try to keep your dignity intact while dealing with the situation. Try to gain their respect, if nothing else.

8. It will be important to establish communication with your abductors or captors. If you cannot understand their language, verbally ask if someone speaks your language. Observe their reaction. If all the extraterrestrials look at one individual, look toward that individual. Address that individual and ask if they speak your language. Any sophisticated military or intelligence operations will have linguists for all languages in the area of operation. If no one present speaks your language, ask again when you interact with new individuals.

9. If you succeed in finding a way to communicate in your own language, you will need to politely ask questions about your status. Do not be confrontational. Are you a prisoner of war? Have you been accused of some criminal offense and arrested? Do you have any rights under any interspecies treaties, agreements, accords, legal code, military law or military rules of engagement? Do you have any recognized rights as an indigenous person of Earth? Ask to speak to the human liaison. (Some abductees report the presence of what appears to be a human military officer.)

If you are informed or otherwise learn that you have no recognized rights, you will clearly understand the situation you are in. You may then make informed decisions and plan the course of action you determine is in your long-term best interest.

10. Avoid insults, derogatory comments, and physical reactions to the appearance of the extraterrestrials.

11. Listen and observe. Try to learn their language or other means of communication. Learn what you can about their body language, social structure, friendships, chain of command, or management structure. Try to remember the names and faces of other humans who may be present. Be empathetic when interacting with the extraterrestrials. Ask if they have families. Ask them to tell you about their homes. Care about what they may have to say.

12. Learn as much as you can from any other humans present, especially their addresses.

13. Try to keep track of time and schedules. If you have guards, when do they change shifts? When do they eat and sleep? There is no telling what information may be of use if you are not released and ultimately need to escape.

If you are not released immediately, establish a daily routine for yourself.

14. Keep your mind active. Dealing with the boredom inherent in being removed from your normal surroundings and confined may become a major problem. Plan what you will do when you return. Remember your friends and loved ones. Visualize how your friends will react when you tell them your experience. Doing these mental exercises will help keep you sane. Do math exercises such as counting to one thousand by units other than one (3s, 7s, 15s, etc.). Work on imaginary puzzles. Visualize drawing a picture using an imaginary pencil and blank piece of paper. Try to remember the content of the chapters of books you have read. Recall from beginning to end movies, plays, concerts or other events you have attended.

15. To the extent possible, stay physically active. If physically restrained, flex your muscles to help maintain circulations and prevent your muscles becoming stiff. If you have sufficient space to stand up and move around, design ways to exercise with what is at hand.

16. If you ascertain that you will be held for some extended time, try to manipulate your abductors beginning with small accommodation requests. Avoid making requests so close together that you become an irritant. By appearing uncomfortable or in need you may gain sympathy or bonding with one or more captors.

17. If you are confined with a group of humans or other species, avoid drawing attention to yourself. Avoid behavior that may cause you to be labeled a threat or troublemaker. Avoid conflicts with other group members that may draw attention or require intervention by guards.

18. Observe the behavior of your captors for significant changes that might indicate your life is in danger. If you have been receiving food and water and that stops, it could mean you are about to be released or that your life may be in imminent danger. Other significant behavior changes could include an increase in the number of weapons deployed, increased restraint, increased hostility, the arrival of new equipment, and the extraterrestrials may no longer look at you or respond to attempts to communicate with them. It would also be significant if other abductees are prepared for release and you are not.

19. Escape attempts should only be made when you are certain you can escape or you are certain your life is in immediate danger.

20. If you are abducted by extraterrestrials, the chance of you being rescued by other human beings is extremely remote. However, should a rescue effort be made, stay out of the way of the rescuers. If you are able to move, find a safe place out of the line of fire to hide until the situation is stable. Avoid doing anything that could be construed as a threat to the rescuers. If you cannot move or there is no place to hide, lie on the ground and cover your head with your hands. Follow the instructions of the rescuers. Your rescuers will be feeling threatened and on edge, as when you were abducted, remain calm and act in a manner that will help calm any fear your rescuers feel.

21. In the political, military, and intelligence domains there is a type of operation called a "false flag." A false flag operation is executed in a manner that will result in responsibility for the outcome, such as a terrorist bombing, being attributed to someone other than those actually responsible for the act.

Some people reporting abduction experiences include details which indicate they have been victims of false flag operations in which human beings conduct kidnappings that mimic extraterrestrial abductions for illegal experimentation or, as in the case of one UN Ambassador, extracting intelligence information under the guise of an alien abduction. If you are abducted by human beings falsely depicting themselves as extraterrestrials you will need to be especially observant and on guard because you will be in the hands of well financed and organized human criminals acting outside of any legal authority.

If you become the victim of a false flag extraterrestrial abduction conducted by human beings, your life may be in greater danger than in a genuine abduction. It might be prudent to follow these same basic survival suggestions, keeping in mind that the more details you remember, they better chance you might have of being believed when reporting your kidnapping to a law enforcement agency. Safely obtaining some physical evidence or identifying information about your human kidnappers would also improve your chances of obtaining justice. Again, your main priority is to end the experience alive and uninjured.

22. If you are released and recall the details of your ordeal without regression or other memory retrieval methods, expect no constructive help or recognition of your traumatic experience from government agencies or programs. Knowledge of all information regarding extraterrestrial abduction of human beings and animals is classified and controlled by rogue corporate, military, and intelligence elements who are operating under the delusion that they are the only ones who can handle knowledge of the true facts regarding the extraterrestrial presence here.

These are for the most part people addicted to elite power, privileged knowledge, and will do whatever it takes to retain their special status. This includes, among a wide range or nefarious tools, harassing individuals who come forward with abduction accounts and murder if they deem someone a threat to their special status. Keep this in mind when making decisions about whom you trust and from whom you seek help. These rogue individuals did not reach the more reasonable conclusion that if they could handle knowing, then anyone could handle it. Instead of the secrecy, murder, and mayhem, they could have focused on developing tools to constructively inform people, acted to have our rights recognized by the extraterrestrials, and sought membership in any existing alliances of species that could have been beneficial for all of us. They could have even produced a set of abduction survival instructions, like these, fifty or sixty years ago.

23. One distinct possible advantage of extraterrestrial abduction over human hostage, kidnapping, or terrorist experiences is that it will occur in the context of an extraterrestrial government, military, intelligence, or scientific operation managed by a chain of command or management and laws, directives, a mission statement, rules of engagement, code of conduct, or scientific protocols which you may be able to understand and use. It is possible that you may have some recognized rights as a prisoner or under interspecies treaties, agreements, or accords.

It is also possible that none of these suggested strategies will be of any benefit whatsoever. The alternative is to do nothing and rely on fate, luck, extraterrestrial benevolence, or divine intervention for a positive outcome, any or all of which may occur in your instance.

Regardless of whether you are abducted by genuine extraterrestrials or human criminals masquerading as extraterrestrials, NEVER forget that any information you may have been given could be a lie. Not everyone who drives a Cadillac can be trusted because they drive a Cadillac. As when dealing with information from human beings with unknown motives, it might be wise to confirm, to the extent possible, any information obtained from extraterrestrials before relying upon it.

SUMMARY
The most important goals at the center of these suggested strategies and tactics are to survive the real or human false flag extraterrestrial abduction experience, avoid injury, regain your freedom, and to claim any legal or citizenship rights you are entitled to under whatever treaties, agreements, legal codes, orders, or military rules of engagement the extraterrestrials are operating under.

You should also keep in mind the extraterrestrials are most likely here in pursuit of the resolution of some real or perceived Earth originating problem or threat that affects them. No one is going to undertake the expense to send an expeditionary force of "manpower" and equipment sufficient to occupy and control an entire solar system to obtain cow delicacies or gene sequences. Anybody with the technology to accomplish sending and indefinitely maintaining an expeditionary force of that size in another solar system can probably make anything they can think of at home.

If you decide to use these suggested strategies and tactics, the following text invokes, in writing, all your conceivable rights under the circumstances of an extraterrestrial abduction. [Use] a font size that can be printed on an Avery business card form. You should memorize these requests in case you do not have the card with you when abducted. Laminating the card you carry is highly recommended.

FULL SIZE VERSION OF TEXT; NOTICE OF CLAIM AND PRESERVATION OF ALL RIGHTS
You are hereby notified that I do not relinquish, surrender, or agree to the suspension, revocation, curtailment, or attenuation of any natural right, primary right, secondary right, preventive right, remedial right, human right, sentient species right, or any right to which I am entitled or guaranteed under any applicable legal code, constitution, rules of engagement, applicable United Nations or interspecies human or interspecies rights accords or treaties, and all other international or interspecies agreements and accords regarding human or species rights. I request the presence of a translator who speaks my own language at any procedures, processing and administrative or judicial proceedings. I request to be informed in my own written language of any rights I am entitled to under these current circumstances. I request to be informed of the authority, orders, or other justification under which I am being held. I request to be informed of the name and location of your government, both its central and local headquarters, and any citizenship rights to which I am entitled as a result of the occupation, military control, or any territorial claims for this solar system or planet. I request to be informed of the procedures and means of communication for filing grievances regarding my abduction and any injures or other adverse consequences of my abduction or capture. I request to be informed of the means by which I may decline or withdraw from participation in your future operations that require my presence in your custody. I hereby claim ownership rights for all the neural structures in my central nervous system and use compensation.

© 2011 by James Roger Brown. All rights reserved. These suggested survival strategies and tactics may be posted, included in emergency management instructions, or otherwise distributed for educational purposes provided the content is not altered and no one profits from their use or distribution. Anyone using these suggestions in venues charging fees or admission are required to contact James Roger Brown to obtain approval and negotiate fair compensation for their profit making use. The mailing address is James Roger Brown, P.O. Box 101 Worthington, KY 41183-0101. Telephone (606) 836-7613.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 3:56 AM | Permalink

November 24, 2011

The Blue & Orange Kool-Aid Report: Thumb and Thumber

NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!
With Patrick Mannelly moved to the IR, the Bears' chances of a deep playoff run are finished. The team will play out the string with Bobby Nohnayme, Andy A. Nonimus or some special teams imposter heaving the ball between their legs to Adam Podlesh.

We can only hope that the Broncos cut their backup long snapper and none of the 28 teams in front of the Bears in the waiver order take action.

Thumb and Thumber
While it's something of a holiday bummer that Jay Cutler may be on the shelf for awhile, try and look at the bright side: The injury sets up a storybook return.

There's a real chance that No. 6 will heal just in time to spring majestically from a proverbial box beneath the tree like a disinterested Christmas stripper and lead the Bears to an impressive 34-28 loss to the Packers on December 25th.

Black Hole
Here's a fun drinking game:

Google "Raiders Fans" and take a shot for every image that does not feature a black dude (I specify "dude" because Tina Turner doesn't count).

Congratulations: you're about to get to f-d up.

For those of you who've been to Oakland, or even just Googled "michael moore occupy wall street," this may come as a surprise.

This doesn't happen when you search for "Falcons fans," so what's the takeaway from this statistical anomaly?

Don't ever mess with white people in Oakland. They organize well and they're all out of their goddamn mind.

Thanks For America, Assholes!
We'd be remiss if we didn't pass along Thanksgiving wishes to all of our family, friends and the proud native people that European explorers stole this land from Jesus.

Even Raider fans are getting in the spirit!

Kool-Aid (4 Out Of 5 Of Half-Full Glasses Of Delicious Oakland Tap Water)
Assuming it isn't 2005, Carson Palmer and the Raider passing attack shouldn't give the Bear D too much trouble. But assuming it isn't the 2010 NFC Championship Game, Caleb Hanie shouldn't tear up the Oakland secondary either.

Over/Under for combined INTs is 5.5; Over/Under for combined rushing yards is 400.

Bears 17, Raiders 10

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Comments welcome.


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 5:50 AM | Permalink

November 23, 2011

The [Thanksgiving 2011] Papers

"Some are holding potluck dinners instead of springing for the entire feast. Others are staying home rather than flying. And a few are skipping the turkey altogether," AP reports.

"On this the fourth Thanksgiving since the economy sank, prices for everything from airline flights to groceries are going up, and some Americans are scaling back."

First, the economy didn't "sink." It was torpedoed. Let's be clear.

Now to the part that caught my eye:

"In suburban Chicago, the Oak Park River Forest Food Pantry got rid of turkey altogether. Last year, the pantry had a lottery in October to distribute 600 turkeys between almost 1,500 families.

"The pantry's management has decided to give all of its families a choice between other kinds of meat - ground turkey, sliced chicken, fish sticks and hamburger patties - along with the other trappings of a Thanksgiving feast. The decision will save $16,000, money that can go to feeding the hungry for the rest of the year.

"'Do we give turkeys and hams to half of the people or do we give them to none of them and put that money back in the general food budget?' said the pantry's executive director, Kathy Russell."

* * *

Meanwhile, those fortunate to still be able to afford turkeys of their own are finding new ways to cook (and stuff) their birds.

* * *

And here's a Thanksgiving where, as the report says, the turkeys are the guests not the entree.

* * *

Don't eat The Pope's Nose! But please read our fantasy football correspondent Dan O'Shea's annual Pope's Nose Awards.

* * *

Also in Beachwood Sports this week:
* The Blue & Orange Kool-Aid Report: Thumb and Thumber
* Caleb Hanie's 2001 Highlights So Far!
* SportsMonday: Rivers Down, Cutler Out

* * *

A Beachwood Thanksgiving:

* Music: Gary's Flying Turkey Trot.

* TV: Beavis & Butt-head Do Thanksgiving.

* Politics: The Dark Side Of The Turkey Industry.

* Books: Why The Cubs Are Such Turkeys.

* People, Places & Things: Chicagoetry: Holiday.

* Social Media: Don't forget to follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Better than Butterball.


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:53 AM | Permalink

Fantasy Fix: Hanie, Orton McCown And The Pope's Nose

UPDATED 11/24

I'll get to my annual Pope's Nose Awards in a moment.

First up, our own Chicago Bears are in the hunt for QB help. After Jay Cutler got injured last week, it looked like we were set to pick up the Legend of Caleb Hanie where we left off last postseason, when he almost won the NFC Championship Game. However, as of Tuesday night, it looked like the Bears were going to add just-released Kyle Orton Josh McCown to the mix.

It wasn't clear as of this writing who the Bears plan on starting for the next four to five weeks, but in terms of fantasy value, neither Hanie nor McCown Orton has all that much to offer.

The Bears play a string of not terribly threatening opponents the next four to five games, and I think they'll win most of them no matter who starts, but if you were starting Cutler on your fantasy team, you probably have better options than following the Bears' depth chart.

Hanie can pass on the scramble, and he can run forward when necessary, but we shouldn't call him "Big Play" Hanie, any more than we should call him Caleb Tebow. The Bears likely will be playing things conservatively on offense until they have their backs to the wall.

I'm going to predict his weekly average through the next five weeks to be something like 130 yards passing, 1 TD, 1 INT, 35 yards rushing - assuming he starts.

Orton, besides being a little rusty at this point after being benched in favor of Tim Tebow, would not be coming back to the same offense or the same Bears receiving corps that was here when he was traded for Cutler (with the exception of Earl Bennett, who wasn't really used in the Orton era, and Devin Hester, who appears to be a dedicated return man again).

And while Tebow may have been swept into the Denver starting job by fan vote, Orton was having probably the worst season of his career before Tebow took over.

If there's one Bear whose fantasy value goes up regardless of who the QB is, it might be Marion Barber, who was already getting goal-line touches and should now take on a somewhat bigger role in the offense, especially if Matt Forte continues his recent lackluster stretch.

Pope's Nose Awards
Remember, this is the part of the turkey you want to avoid eating.

There have been so many off-putting fantasy performances this year that I'm just going to compile lists by position instead of just picking one big turkey at each:

QB Philip Rivers, San Diego: 17 INTs leads the league.


QB Josh Freeman, Tampa: Super-sleeper draft pick has been asleep all season.


QB Ryan Fitzpatrick, Buffalo: Went from a top 3 QB in the first quarter of the season to almost worthless now.

QB Mark Sanchez, NY Jets: Maturity was expected this year, but fumbles and other mistakes have been the story.

QB 
Michael Vick, Philadelphia: Dream team? Newbie Andy Dalton, Cincinnati, has more passing yards and TDs than Vick, and now he's injured.

*

RB Peyton Hillis, Cleveland: Last year's darling has fallen from his pedestal.


RB Chris Johnson, Tennessee: Trying for a second-half rebound, but his first half was worse than anyone would have imagined.


RB DeAngelo Williams, Carolina: Was expected to carry a poor team with a rookie QB, but Cam Newton refused to comply.


RB Ryan Grant, Green Bay: Expected starter was gradually demoted to back-up, which is worthless on a pass-first team.

RB Joseph Addai, Indianapolis: Derailed by injuries once again - and when the Colts otherwise would have relied on him.


RB Felix Jones, Dallas: Looked to have the backfield to himself with Barber gone, but a so-so numbers and an injury have let DeMarco Murray take the spotlight.


*

WR Andre Johnson, Houston: Injuries are getting to be a problem, and now his QB is done for the year. No longer the the top WR.

WR Mike Williams, Tampa: Was supposed to star along with his QB, but both have been in hiding all year.

WR DeSean Jackson, Philadelphia: Another victim of the Dream Team deflation, Jackson also ended up in the coach's doghouse.


WR Roddy White, Atlanta: Most consistent pass-catcher of recent years did little until Week 11. Can he rebound?

*

TE Antonio Gates, San Diego: Rivers' troubles have left him underfed.


TE Mercedes Lewis, Jacksonville: Vet had a great 2010, but has virtually disappeared in an offense now run by rookie Blaine Gabbert.

Expert Wire
* Yahoo! Pickups of the Week likes Vince Young in place of Vick, even after three INTs last week.

* SBNation says Cam Newton is back to throwing picks, but at least he's still running.

* Bleacher Report sees Matt Moore of Miami and Tyler Palko of Kansas City, as potential replacements for Cutler. I much prefer guys like Tebow, Christian Ponder or Carson Palmer.

* Fantasy Knuckleheads weighs whether Lions RB Kevin Smith has another big week in him.

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Comments welcome.


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:03 AM | Permalink

November 22, 2011

The [Tuesday] Papers

Trying to start the holiday early and take some time off from the day-to-day duties here to think about and plan for the future. So posting may be light and erratic this week. Oh hell, it will probably be the same as always. But I would also like to concentrate on getting some posts done that have been sitting on the back burner for awhile, so you may see these fine offerings sit here all week:

* Music: Gary's Flying Turkey Trot.

* TV: Beavis & Butt-head Do Thanksgiving.

* Politics: The Dark Side Of The Turkey Industry.

* Books: Why The Cubs Are Such Turkeys.

* People, Places & Things: Chicagoetry: Holiday.

Plus:
* Caleb Hanie's Surprising 2011 Highlights!

Also:
* Don't forget to follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Better than Butterball.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:48 AM | Permalink

Why The Cubs Are Such Turkeys

"It isn't Wrigley Field or because they play so many day games . . . it's always been poor management . . . [Theo Epstein faces] a far more daunting task than when he took over the Red Sox."

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:57 AM | Permalink

Caleb Hanie 2011 Highlights!

1. It happened in Countryside.


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2. See you on the beach!

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3. Birthday surprise!

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:41 AM | Permalink

The Dark Side Of The Turkey Industry

Stomach this.

1. Stomping on heads.


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2. Unspeakable horrors.

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3. The media hand-in-hand with industry.

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4. There is no way to prepare a tortured animal.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:21 AM | Permalink

Beavis & Butt-head Do Thanksgiving

You put it in the turkey's butt and then it comes out of your butt.


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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:09 AM | Permalink

Gary's Flying Turkey Trot

You get what you play for.

1. Back in the day.

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2. "People who like Heavy Metal say REO is not 'Rock,' but I don't think so. At least, Gary's sound was exactly a hard rock's one and he was one of some reasons that I love using Gibson Les Paul Standard and Marshall amp."

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3. Studio version along with The Unidentified Flying Tuna Trot.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:46 AM | Permalink

November 21, 2011

The [Monday] Papers

1. "The small Door County community of Egg Harbor holds the most liquor licenses per capita than any other place in Wisconsin, an analysis shows."

No wonder Egg Harbor was named The Best Small Town In Wisconsin and One Of The Coolest Small Towns In America.

2. New York Knights Extinguish Chicago Blaze In Chess Championship.

3. Fans Revolt As Chargers Lost To Chicago.

*

Rivers Down, Cutler Out.

4. Inside The Recently Completed National Hellenic Museum.

5. Occupy's Resident Comic Visits Chicago.

6. Jim DeRogatis's Biggest Turkeys of 2011.

7. The Koschman lineup.

8. "Paramedics may be liable for forcibly hospitalizing a man who refused medical attention, a federal judge ruled, recounting an undisputed record showing emergency responders put their patient in a headlock, rammed his head 20 times into an ambulance wall and taped him up 'like a mummy,'" Courthouse News Service reports.

"Howard Travis had just undergone neck surgery at a hospital in June 2008, when he went to a grocery store on the South Side of Chicago. Feeling faint and sweating profusely, Travis sat on a store display and attracted the attention of a store manager who called 911.

"Once paramedics Eileen Keiper-Knapp and Todd Czarnecki arrived on the scene, however, Travis said there was nothing wrong with him and that he did not need help.

"Nevertheless, the paramedics picked him up by his arms and legs and forced him into the ambulance. Many of the facts of the case are undisputed, according to the court."

9. "That's not a UFO on the roof of the Art Institute of Chicago," Co. Design reports. "Lunar, a solar-powered, spacecraft-looking sculpture by artist Spencer Finch, is shaped like a 'buckyball' - named for the geodesic dome invented by the architect Buckminster Fuller - and glows with the light of a full moon over Chicago.

"Finch measured the amount of moonlight in the city during the summer using a colorimeter, a device that measures the average color and temperature of light in a specific place and time. The luminosity is reconstructed using LED lights that have a bluer quality and filtered through the orange polycarbonate of the buckyball. The aluminum structure contains solar panels that collect sunlight during the day that it converts to moonlight over the darkened autumn and winter months."

10. "A coalition of preservationists are rallying around the former Brand Brewery complex, hoping to stave off a proposed demolition of the ensemble of Logan Square industrial buildings," Lee Bey reports.

11. "Notorious gangster Al Capone is known as the most infamous criminals of the 1920s, but his closest living relative says he didn't deserve being sent to Alcatraz, the harshest prison in the country with the most despicable criminals.

"'He was the King of Chicago,' Al's great-grand niece, Deirdre Marie Capone told RadarOnline.com in an exclusive interview."

12. Storm Brewing In Palatine Over Starbucks Plan.

13. Fire At Gary Recycling Site May Burn For Days.

Harrumph. That's nothing.

14. The Weekend in Chicago Rock.

15. AdVault: Morris Clothing 1979.

16. Chicagoetry: Holiday.

Programming Note
I'll be back behind the bar tonight at the venerable Beachwood Inn. Stop in for a cold Old Style or splurge for one of our many fine offerings from the Bell's Brewery of Kalamazoo. 5p - 2a.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Just brew it.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:50 AM | Permalink

SportsMonday: Rivers Down, Cutler Out

Before we embark on a discussion of whether the fracture is in the distal or proximal phalange and whether collateral damage was done to the (ulnar) collateral ligament, attention must be paid to at least some of the details of the Bears' fifth consecutive victory, the one that elevated them to 7-3 overall.

Jay Cutler's broken thumb notwithstanding, this 31-20 victory over San Diego featured prominent players making memorable plays for good and for ill. Let's start by shining a bright light on an extremely talented and particularly irritating opponent who is experiencing heaping helpings of comeuppance this fall.

About a month ago cocky Charger quarterback Philip Rivers, who has clearly rubbed Cutler the wrong way when the two have faced off in the past, blew a game when all he needed to do was get his hands around a snap and execute a simple hand-off to kill the rest of the clock and set up a last-second field goal. Instead he fumbled the ball and the Chiefs recovered. Rather than kicking a short field goal to win in the final seconds of regulation, Rivers' team went on to lose to Kansas City in overtime.

After the fumble, television cameras caught Rivers on the sideline mouthing "the worst day ever," though he claimed later it was only the worst play ever.

Well if he thought that was bad, check out this sequence.

Just as he had on the Chargers' previous possession, Rivers simply didn't see the Bear defensive back who was right there to grab this unbelievably bad pass. Corey Graham's pick wasn't as easy as Major Wright's earlier in the quarter, but the fact that Graham even had any chance whatsoever to make the play was mind-boggling.

And while we're at it, let's make fun of the opposing coach as well. Woo boy did Norv Turner step in it when he challenged a non-fumble call with about three minutes left. Not only did he lose the challenge but he obviously should have called for it before he called a timeout. That way, even if he lost the challenge, he only lost a timeout he was going to take anyway. Instead he called the timeout initially, had the time to assess whether a challenge was a good idea and had to know that it would almost certainly fail, challenged anyway, lost and therefore lost a second (and his team's final) timeout. It was positively Lovie-esque.

Then again, while Lovie may struggle with challenges, his biggest strength as a coach is evident in games like this. The Bears came into this one having scored two huge victories the previous weeks against potential fellow wild card contenders Philadelphia and Detroit. It would have been easy to have a letdown against an AFC foe that desperately needed to win to avoid a five-game losing streak.

But the best thing about Lovie's even-keeled-at-all-times demeanor is that his teams keep it even-keeled as well. They don't get too high one week and then bottom out the next (unlike the media). And that translates into wins like this one.

As for that aforementioned fake punt, it was the second time this season that one of Dave Toub's units has attempted a beautifully conceived but brutally timed trick play. The Devin Hester fake punt return in the final minute against the Packers early in the season was genius. But even if it hadn't been called back due to penalty, the Bears still would have trailed in the game, would have had very little time left and would've needed a successful onside kick and last-minute drive to complete a comeback. It would have clearly been better to have run the play at a different time.

This time, the pass out of punt formation was obviously there but when Adam Podlesh overthrew Craig Steltz the Bears gave the Chargers a boost just when it looked like they had absolutely no chance to come back. They were still long shots but the shot was much shorter than it would have been had they been pinned deep in their territory.

Then again, maybe the better field position caused Rivers to be overconfident and throw that immediately infamous interception.

The biggest highlight for the Bears had to be Cutler's two big second-half passes to Johnny Knox. The first took the ball down inside the five right before the Bear's second-to-last touchdown. The second was the Bears' final touchdown and sealed up the game.

On both of those plays, Cutler went ahead and trusted a teammate with whom he has had a shaky relationship in the past to make a tough play when he was seemingly covered. And sure, it was Knox falling down that led to the pick that announcers were initially saying led to Cutler's injury but still, Cutler and Knox took a big step forward on Sunday.

And note must be taken of how cool it was - heck, it was positively serendipitous - that Tyler Clutts, claimed off the scrap heap right before the season started, was ready and willing to fill in when the unthinkable happened: long snapper Patrick Mannelly was hurt during the game. Clutts came through with several point-after snaps in addition to his one perfect punt snap.

I actually don't know if Cutler's fracture is in the top half or the bottom half of his thumb or any other details of the injury. I do know it has been casually reported in the past couple weeks that Ben Roethlisberger has broken his throwing thumb and plans to play through the injury as he apparently did in 2005 when he led the Steelers to a Super Bowl victory as a rookie.

I don't know the details of the injury but I do know plenty of intrigue and controversy await. In other words, it's just another day on the Bears beat.

See also: Official NFL Highlights.

Thumb Crumbs
* "Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler likely will undergo surgery on a broken thumb on his throwing hand, league sources told NFL Network insider Jason La Canfora on Sunday night."

* Is His Season Over?

* Who Is Caleb Hanie?

* 10:10 A.M. UPDATE: Cutler surgery scheduled for Tuesday; Bears say he could be back before the end of the season.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:38 AM | Permalink

Occupy's Resident Stand-Up Visits Chicago

This is what democratic comedy looks like.


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Also from Lee Camp:

Your moment of clarity.

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Comments welcome.


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:11 AM | Permalink

AdVault: Morris Clothing 1979

Alterations while you wait.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:50 AM | Permalink

The Weekend in Chicago Rock

You shoulda been there.

1. Ryan Glassman at the Mutiny on Thursday night.


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2. Todd Hembrook & the Hemispheres at Subterranean on Saturday night.

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3. The MiniBosses at Reggie's on Sunday night.

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4. Furthur in Rosemont on Friday night.

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5. Mike Mangione And The Union at the Elbo Room on Friday night.

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6. Kopecky Family Band at Martyr's on Friday night.

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7. Steven Wilson at the Park West on Friday night.

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8. Joseph Arthur at Lincoln Hall on Friday night.

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9. Jeremy Messersmith at Schubas on Friday night.

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10. Ra Ra Riot at the Metro on Friday night.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:59 AM | Permalink

Chicagoetry: Holiday

Holiday

This insistent lathe of mind
concocts a life of sorts
from the howl and whirl
of the surging earth.

It hums on without our steering.
Queer. God: give it a rest.

Let us limn a shock
of Lethe, cry us a river
of gilded forgetfulness.

Yes: staunch the grind.

This lathe of mind
revolves relentlessly,
shearing the howl
unto a manageable symmetry,

a simulacrum
of humble grace.
God: enough already.

I seek a tipsy barque
in which to dawdle,
where the hot grind
begins to dwindle,

letting go, letting go,
just to get a little leave.
Not to drown,
just to float a league.

For a little while, I just want to float.

God: can mind limn
one kind brook
through the hoary vacuum,

one blind gush amid the sawdust?!
I crave a holiday from the withering gust.

Mind grinds on, time
relentlessly diminishes

but I believe my barque
has but one more seam to caulk
and then I'll stop the clocks.

You needn't frown: not to drown,
but to float,

to flow, mindlessly, in the howl.

For a little while
I just want

to float.

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

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More Tindall:

* Chicagoetry: The Book

* Ready To Rock: The Music

* Kindled Tindall: The Novel


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:52 AM | Permalink

November 19, 2011

The Weekend Desk Report

Is it at all possible for both teams to lose? Oh wait, of course it is.

Market Update
The share price of Super is expected to plummet next week, losing approximately $1.5 trillion in value and becoming almost as worthless as shares in Committee.

Blatter Up
Perhaps the Congressional Super Committee is only trying to deflect attention from the even bigger mess their governing body has already created. In international terms, the maneuver is referred to as "pulling a Sepp."

State of the Union
Around these parts, of course, we call it "pulling a Lewis".

Grand Old Farty
On the national level, the strategy of papering over massive cock-ups from the past with lots of little cock-ups in the present is called "seeking the GOP nomination."

Bounce Back
Congress needn't worry, though. Even when facing well-earned pariah status, the bar for international forgiveness is set pretty damn low.

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The Weekend Desk Tip Line: Cocked up.

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This Weekend On Sound Opinions: "It's the Sound Opinions Turkey Shoot! Let's all give thanks we don't have to hear these musical duds again. Plus, Jim and Greg review the latest from hip hop star Drake."

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The CAN TV Weekend Report
CAN TV brings you local, relevant issues from Chicago's neighborhoods and communities. See what's happening around the city in education, the arts, government, cultural events, social services and community activities.

Perspectivas Latinas: Working Hands Legal Clinic

11-14-WorkingHands.jpg

Alvar Ayala of Working Hands Legal Clinic explains the legal services it provides to local low-wage workers in need of assistance with employment law issues.

Saturday, November 19 at 7:30 p.m. on CAN TV21
30 min

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Cine Latino: Festival of Short Films, Episode 3

Cinelatino-RooftopWars-Thum.jpg

Presented by CAN TV and the International Latino Cultural Center of Chicago, Cine Latino features short films and animations from around the world that celebrate the diversity and themes of Latino cinema.

Saturday, November 19 at 8 p.m. on CAN TV21
1 hr

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Will the Real Progressives Please Stand Up!

11-14-StandUp.jpg

Community organizer Toussaint Losier joins local politicians, experts, and journalists in a discussion of the future of progressive politics in Chicago.

Sunday, November 20 at 9 a.m. on CAN TV21
2 hr

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Latino Policy Forum: The Changing Face of America

11-14-LatinoPolicy.jpg

Senior NewsHour Correspondent Ray Suarez addresses the policy implications of Chicago's growing Latino population.

Sunday, November 20 at 11 a.m. on CAN TV21
1 hr 30 min

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Women in the Workplace: Yes, Sexual Harassment Still Exists

11-14-SexualHarrasment.jpg

HR professional Monica Brennan shares her firsthand experience with sexual harassment cases during a discussion of the psychological, legal, and personal aspects of harassment.

Sunday, November 20 at 12:30 p.m. on CAN TV21
1 hr 30 min

Are You Plugged in? Technology's Effect on the Arts

11-14-PluggedIn.jpg

Director of Motorola Giving Eileen Sweeney highlights uses of technology that advance arts education and the impact of those innovations on Chicago students.

Sunday, November 20 at 2 p.m. on CAN TV21
1 hr

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Everyone Has a Story

11-14-EveryoneHasAStory.jpg

Host Marcus Jones interviews a wide range of local artists, community leaders, and others, inviting them to share their life stories and latest works.

Sundays at 7 p.m. on CAN TV21
30 min


Posted by Natasha Julius at 8:16 AM | Permalink

November 18, 2011

The [Friday] Papers

1. "An Illinois man has pleaded guilty in Rhode Island to charges he shipped unwanted penis enlargers to diabetes patients as part of a Medicare fraud scheme," AP reports.

"Prosecutors say [Gary] Winner bought $26 penis enlargers from an adult website, repackaged them and shipped them to patients with information claiming the 'erectile pumps' devices helped 'bladder control, urinary flow and prostate comfort.'

"Prosecutors say Winner billed Medicare an average of $284 for each item, claiming they were used to treat erectile dysfunction.

"The Northbrook, Ill.-resident has also agreed to forfeit $2.2 million."

*

"Winner was president of the Buffalo Grove-based company Planned Eldercare, whose employees allegedly made telemarketing calls to elderly people around the nation, then obtained Medicare and physician information from callers who said they suffered from diabetes or arthritis, according to court documents," Northbrook Patch reported in September. "Winner allegedly bought telemarketing leads specifically for English-speaking, non-Hispanic people over the age of 65 - ensuring that he would be contacting people eligible for Medicare."

*

Winner's bad deeds qualified him for this week's The Week in WTF - though three slots below Jim Belushi's new gout sponsorship.

2. "The Illinois Hotel & Lodging Association (IHLA) has awarded the prestigious Hotelier of the Year Award for the Chicago market to Jerry Keyes, White Lodging employee and General Manager at the Courtyard by Marriott Downtown," the White Lodging Services Corporation announced.

"Located less than a block from Chicago's famed Magnificent Mile, the Courtyard by Marriott has 306 oversized guest rooms and suites and is home to the stylish Viand Bar and Kitchen."

3. "A Cook County woman is suing a Lakeview neighborhood Domino's Pizza for failing to follow a federal law and truncate a customer's credit card number on receipts to hinder identity theft," WLS reports.

"Aimee Lipkis claims she used her credit or debit card on Nov. 25, 2009, at a Domino's in Lakeview and received a receipt with her entire credit card number on it, according to a class-action lawsuit filed Thursday in Cook County Circuit Court.

"The Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act of 2003 required merchants to truncate a customer's credit card number and mask expiration dates by June 2008, the suit claims.

"Lipkis has received more than four receipts with her entire card number listed since the effective date of the legislation, the suit said."

4. "Southwest Airlines Co was sued by an Illinois man over the discount carrier's decision to stop honoring coupons for free alcoholic drinks, which it had given to select travelers and which lacked expiration dates," Reuters reports.

"[Adam] Levitt, who lives in the Chicago area, said the policy change amounted to a breach of contract. He attached to his complaint copies of 45 coupons for free drinks, which he said he had accumulated and which the change left worthless."

5. "When identifying the big break that ultimately led Dale Sveum down the career path to Wrigley Field, where he will be introduced Friday as the new Cubs manager, look no further than his left tibia," David Haugh writes for the Tribune.

"Go back to Sept. 3, 1988. Sveum was playing shortstop for the Brewers when he crashed into left fielder Darryl Hamilton as both chased a blooper over third base. Hamilton's left knee collided with Sveum's left shin with such force the leg snapped.

[ . . . ]

"It altered the arc of the next two decades for Sveum, a baseball lifer."

*

See also: Meet Dale Sveum!

6. "A former managing director of the now-collapsed Chicago hedge fund Lake Shore Asset Management was sentenced to 20 years in prison Thursday," HedgeFund.net reports.

"Philip Baker was accused of soliciting approximately $294 million from 900 investors between 2002 and 2007, according to the Chicago U.S. Attorney's Office.

[ . . . ]

"Of the nearly $300 million that he obtained from investors, Baker admitted that he misappropriated at least $30 million for his own use and for the use of another Lake Shore director.

"He also admitted to misrepresenting Lake Shore's trading as profitable at a time when it was actually losing millions of dollars."

7. The Week in Occupy Chicago.

8. "The new lawyer for Justin Bieber's alleged baby mama tells TMZ he firmly believes his client's allegation that the singer knocked her up and says he's currently negotiating the terms of a DNA test with JB's legal team."

That new lawyer is Jeffery Leving, the fathers' rights advocate. No kidding.

9. A British Guy's Funny, Smart Take On Mob Wives: Chicago.

10. "Facial recognition technology is a staple of sci-fi thrillers like Minority Report," the New York Times reports. "But of bars in Chicago?

"SceneTap, a new app for smart phones, uses cameras with facial detection software to scout bar scenes. Without identifying specific bar patrons, it posts information like the average age of a crowd and the ratio of men to women, helping bar-hoppers decide where to go. More than 50 bars in Chicago participate."

11. The Week in Chicago Rock.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Tap us.

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ADVERTISEMENT

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Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:51 AM | Permalink

The Weekend in Occupy Chicago

This is what democracy looks like.

1. "We're just tired of it."


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2. We . . . Are . . . The 99%.

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3. The SEIU's early endorsement of the president poses a problem, however, to a movement that is not only decidedly non-partisan, but not at all pro-Obama.

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4. The Michigan Avenue March.

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5. Do you know what time it is?

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6. Occupy ADAPT.

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7. Unfuck the Future.

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8. Occupy Eucharist.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:11 AM | Permalink

Meet Dale Sveum!

With a little help from Prince Fielder; a dorky kid and his dad; and some dude in his bedroom.

1. "His main thing is just making sure you feel good mentally."


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2. After a physics lesson, Dale teaches us how to hit.

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3. He approves of the hire.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:12 AM | Permalink

A British Guy's Funny, Smart Take On Mob Wives: Chicago

The few Outfit geriatrics left apparently gave approval to reality TV filming their women. It's bullshit!


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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:57 AM | Permalink

The Week in Chicago Rock

You shoulda been there.

1. Mayhem at Reggie's on Sunday night.


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2. Brian Durbin with the Lynch Mob at Bobby's McGee's in Chicago Ridge on Thursday night.

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3. Woe at Reggie's on Sunday night.

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4. M83 at Lincoln Hall on Thursday night.

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5. Chris Carrabba at Bottom Lounge on Thursday night.

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6. Ray Manzarek and Robbie Krieger at the Congress on Sunday night.

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7. Guns 'N' Roses in Rosemont on Tuesday night.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:21 AM | Permalink

The Week in WTF

1. Jim Belushi, WTF?

Wheaton's own first brother has vowed to put an end to gout.

We wish he'd try to put end to his lousy sitcoms.

Says the story: "Belushi, in association with Savient Pharmaceuticals, is helping to launch Check Out Your Gout, an education campaign about gout."

Expect red ribbons around toes any day now. This may be what happens when all the good diseases are taken.

Or it may be what happens when Savient's expected profits for its gout drug takes a hefty beating from analysts.

2. Lawson Products, WTF?

WTF is not totally conversant with the intricacies of corporate extortion, but we always thought the main object was to divert tax benefits in order to steal a job-making company from somewhere else - like Utah or Mississippi - and bring it to Chicago.

But here we have tax benefits used to steal a company from Des Plaines and move it to Chicago.

The last time we checked, Des Plaines was not in Utah. It was sort of like, well, Chicago. Virtually. Like an outlying neighborhood.

What's next, the Loop stealing a business from Lake View?

3. Karen Lewis, WTF?

This was the year the Chicago Teacher's Union boss officially encountered the political skills of Rahm Emanuel. Welcome to the big leagues, Ms. Lewis. They throw hard sliders here.

Whatever skills she presumably has, Lewis has lost control of the argument about extended school days and charter schools. She's been flanked and cannot oppose them without seeming to be a rank obstructionist. The pending contract talks for teachers are likely to be a disaster for collective bargaining, although the hack-ridden cover-my-butt CTU will likely deserve what it gets. Pity good people trapped in lousy unions.

While this six-week-ago episode suggests she's feeling a little gravelly around the edges on several issues, she should most regret making fun of Arne Duncan because he lisps.

Mean, small and ugly. Statistically speaking, there are likely 4,000 or so Chicago public school students who have severe speech impediments. If she reconsiders why all this makes her look like a bad person, maybe she should abstain from telling us that she's sorry and and apologize to those kids.

4. Gary Winner, WTF?

If you don't know what the phrase "unwanted penis enlargers" could mean in a criminal matter, you'll just have to read this.

If you want more, plug the phrase "providence R.I. penis enlargers" into Google and these guys will tell you all you can possibly want to know.

5. Paul LaDuke and John Steinert, WTF?

Is it worse that this Christian school kept a teacher who claims he regularly whacked off in class or kept a teacher who likely was clinically demented?

Same guy. So the guy might be pathetic or criminal or mentally damaged or some combination of all three. That's too big for WTF to figure out that.

Or does this guy get a 10 on the sad-sack-of-bleep-o-meter?

As for Lake Forest's administrative performance, they are acting very sternly on "new evidence" which apparently was awareness the Tribune had caught them covering for a horny principal.

But we admit to be being very ashamed that we love this sentence from the Tribune about sad sack No. 1. It seems like a scene the talented Belushi brother would have played.

"Authorities said a student told a school official Friday that she had seen LaDuke appear to be masturbating behind his podium in his classroom, with his pants lowered . . . "

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:52 AM | Permalink

November 17, 2011

The [Thursday] Papers

"As Chicagoans continue to struggle with stagnant unemployment, and threatened cuts to essential services, families will be coming together for a National Day of Action declaring an 'Economic Emergency for the 99%,'" Stand Up! Chicago says in a statement released this morning.

"The Jobs Not Cuts Day of Action, culminating with a large rally and march beginning at Thompson Center Plaza, is one of a series of over 30 protests across the nation to be held on November 17.

"The action is a continuation of the Take Back Chicago Week of Action, which brought 7,000 protesters together outside the Art Institute's Modern Wing on October 10 to take back the jobs, homes and schools taken from working families by the financial institutions that wrecked our economy.

"The Day of Action comes on the eve of congressional Supercommittee recommendations for more job-killing budget cuts, cuts that will disproportionately impact the city's and the country's most vulnerable populations including senior citizens and unemployed veterans."

*

I might add that the action takes place a day after the budget of multimillionaire former investment banker Rahm Emanuel was unanimously approved by a Chicago City Council that spent hours extolling the greatness of Our Little Leader while "spreading the pain" between a variety of services for the poor and leaving their chief financial patrons alone.

For example, even as every single alderman put his or her name to cutting mental health services, child care, library hours, workforce development and front-line workers of all kinds, news broke of another corporate giveaway:

"Lawson Products, a distributor of maintenance, repair and operations supplies, is receiving a $7.8 million tax incentives package to move its headquarters to Chicago, it said Wednesday," the Tribune reports.

Here's my favorite part:

"The company would not say whether the distribution consolidation will result in layoffs. Roughly 120 people are employed at its distribution centers.

"The state incentives package is contingent upon 450 jobs being retained. Lawson currently employs 520 workers in Illinois."

And, of course, negotiations continue to see just how much taxpayers will give away to the Chicago Mercantile Exchange and Sears.

"The tax incentives include CME Group and other mercantile exchanges, which deal in the financial markets, in Illinois getting a total of $85 million in tax breaks every year; Sears Corp. getting a tax credit of $15 million annually for the next decade; and about $40 million annually in research and development tax credits and other incentives for other businesses," Illinois Statehouse News reports.

Tired of being nickel-and-dimed (now $75 for parking in a neighborhood zone!) to subsidize corporate payoffs? Or to support the crony capitalism we're so familiar with here in Illinois? That's what this is about.

*

"Unemployed workers, struggling families and other members of the 99%, including Occupy Chicago and members of the Stand Up! Chicago coalition will be calling for real job creation, protesting proposed job-killing budget cuts, and demanding that big banks take responsibility for wrecking the economy."

The deets:

3:30 PM
Rally Assembles at Thompson Center Plaza

3:35 PM
Program Commences, Speakers Include: Steve Hunley, Master of Ceremonies, Pastor of Complete in Christ Ministries; Idella Smith, Grandmother Raising Grandchild and Childcare Consumer; Alfonso Pulido, Unemployed Machine Operator; Urszula Domaradzki, Janitor; Kenny Borst, Visually Impaired Unemployed Person,;Will Attig, Iraq and Afghanistan Veteran; Ruth Long, Senior Citizen

4:00 PM
March Leaves from Thompson Center to LaSalle Street Bridge

4:15 PM
Marchers Arrive at LaSalle Street Bridge

5:00 PM
Protestors Meet at LaSalle and Jackson to Join Occupy Chicago March

WHERE: Thompson Center Plaza. Intersection of W. Randolph St. and S. Clark St., then proceeding to LaSalle Street Bridge.

*

From MoveOn:

"On Thursday in Chicago and in over 325 cities nationwide, we, the 99%, are rallying for a national day of action to show that they cannot and will not silence our demands for change. It's time for massive crowds to hit the streets as one united movement if we're going to stop job-killing cuts by Congress and send a clear message to the 1%.

"Can you join MoveOn, Rebuild the Dream, Occupy Wall Street, SEIU, AFL-CIO, and many more for our 'We are the 99%' day of action?"

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All these years wondering where the outrage was . . . well, it's here. How hard is that to understand?

*

From Dennis Kucinich:

"Nighttime in America

"Dear Friends,

"At 1:00 AM Tuesday night, after two months of peaceful protest against the people and institutions that wrecked our economy, police officers under direct orders from the Mayor of New York City raided Occupy Wall Street and evicted protestors from Zuccotti Park.

"The First Amendment of the Constitution guarantees all of us - including these protestors - the right to peacefully assemble and express our views. But over the past week, similar nighttime raids executed by mayors in Oakland, Portland and Atlanta have cast a dangerous shadow over our liberties.

"Today, I am asking you to join me in standing with Occupy protests everywhere and demanding that the Mayors of America respect the First Amendment and the rights of our citizens to assemble and express themselves. Click here to sign the petition and demand that the mayors of America respect the Constitution and the rights of Occupy Wall Street to exist.

"Right now, corporations are spending unlimited amounts of money to influence our election system under the guise of free speech. Yet when people like you and me gather in parks across America to protest this broken system, we are deemed a threat by local mayors.

"Stand with me, Occupy Wall Street and all Americans who wish to defend our disappearing liberties in demanding that America's mayors respect the Constitution and rights guaranteed to all Americans in the First Amendment. Sign the petition today.

*

The simultaneous crackdown of local occupiers was coordinated between mayors - all Democrats? - and the Obama administration. Thanks, Barack!

"In particular, the FBI reportedly advised on press relations, with one presentation suggesting that any moves to evict protesters be coordinated for a time when the press was the least likely to be present," Rick Ellis reports for the Examiner.

*

From Bill Moyers:

"Barack Obama criticizes bankers as 'fat cats,' then invites them to dine at a pricey New York restaurant where the tasting menu runs to $195 a person.

"That's now the norm, and they get away with it. The President has raised more money from banks, hedge funds, and private equity managers than any Republican candidate, including Mitt Romney."

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This was Wednesday:

"As many as 60 students from North Park University, Chicago, will gather at the North Park Friendship Center to pray and urge the U.S. Congress to maintain federal funding for nutrition programs that provide food to people in need. The Rev. Jim Wallis, president and chief executive officer of Sojourners, Washington, D.C., will join the students at the gathering, organized by the North Park Justice League.

"The North Park Friendship Center maintains a food pantry that serves 450 families each month, and it also provides donated clothing, household goods, and other services. The center is one of 650 pantries, soup kitchens and shelters in Cook County supplied by the Greater Chicago Food Depository, which serves the needs of more than 140,000 people in Cook County each week. Significant cuts in federal nutrition programs could affect tens of thousands of people in the Chicago area who depend on the programs for food assistance.

"Similar actions are being coordinated across the country by Sojourners, the nation's largest network of progressive Christians. Flagship 'Circles' will be held in NYC, Chicago, Orange County CA, Portland OR and other smaller circles will be in another dozen cities."

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"An examination of President Obama's decision to reject tougher smog standards shows how the interests of his re-election campaign are influencing White House policy," the New York Times reports.

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"Administration officials double as Obama campaign speakers," the Los Angeles Times reports.

*

We sick an' tired of-a your ism-skism game.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Stand up.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:49 AM | Permalink

El Warnings

HAL-EL

"[Beep beep beep!]. Your attention, please. The train is experiencing a delay because workers are on the tracks trying to stop me. They will be eliminated shortly."

HILL-EL

"Your attention, please. The train is experiencing a delay as the Jews are on the tracks ahead . . . "

JOR-EL

"Your attention, please. The train is experiencing a delay because General Zod is currently crushing the son of Jor-El's hands on the tracks ahead. We hope to be moving shortly."

FALAF-EL

"Your attention, please. The train is experiencing a delay because an abnormal accumulation of a chick-pea like substance has amassed on the tracks ahead."

KENEV-EL

"Your attention, please. The train is experiencing a delay because an Evel stuntman has crashed on the tracks ahead."

EL-S-D

"Your attention, please. This train is now entering another dimension."

EL-CID

"Your attention, please. This train does not stop for Moops."

EL-CHINO

"Your attention, please. This train is experiencing delays because a giant burrito is rumbling through the driver's intestines. Plus, there's a big bowl of chips on the track."

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Comments welcome.

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1. From Astralopry:

SING WE NO-EL

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:48 AM | Permalink

The Blue & Orange Kool-Aid Report: Hype It Up

SAT Prep: Analogies
Lance Briggs : Calvin Johnson ::

a). Penn State Student : News Van
b). Tyler Durden : FreeCreditScore.com
c). Marriage : Fitness
d). Female Japanese Drivers : Other Motorists*

Has Anyone Seen Matthew Stafford and Herschel Krustofski In The Same Room?

Dir-De-Troit
Oh, those wacky Lions. Didn't anyone tell Ndomikong Suh that the secret to a running game won't pop out of Jay Cutler's head you unscrew his neck?

As we all know in Chicago, the trick to a successful ground game is to completely ignore it for at least 25% of the season and then arrogantly act as though you were planning some season-long equivalent to a draw play.

Speaking of cheap shots . . .

Hey Stafford! How does it feel to get your ass kicked by the guy from The Fifth Element? (D.J. Moore) (DJ Ruby Rohd)

San V-ego
Thanks to Ron Burgundy all know, "San Diego" roughly translates to "the whale's vagina."

Thanks to a rivalry that became public during a 2007 in-game shouting match, Jay Cutler knows that "Philip Rivers" translates directly to "the human vagina."

What Were You, Raised In A Barn? Shut The Gate(s).
As the main underneath receiving threat, Chargers tight end Antonio "As Mexican As Taco Bell" Gates will put up the big, hollow numbers against the Bears defense. That's just the way the Bears want it, because Vincent "V-Jax" Jackson, the only wide receiver in the league with a cleaning product named after him, will be lurking in the secondary all day.

Kool-Aid (5 Out Of 5 Cargo Containers of Tesla Coils)
A win vaults the Bears from a playoff contender to a favorite to capture the fifth spot in the NFC.

Mandate: hype it up.

The Bears have a simple formula for success here. Keep V-Jax in front of them, put Rivers on his back and the watch the turnovers pile up. Mike "It's not Tol-BARE" Tolbert and the Chargers' running game don't do much unless they're on the goal line, so the Bears need to (and here's the most hard hitting analysis you'll get all week) keep San Diego away from that dang goal line.

Bears win by four due to a late Charger touchdown, but they'll fail on the two-point conversion and the game won't ever feel that close.

Bears 27, Chargers 23

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*Answer: None of the above. Lance Briggs is to Calvin Johnson as Cain Valasquez is to Junior Dos Santos.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:12 AM | Permalink

November 16, 2011

The [Wednesday] Papers

1. "Katherine Kalnes, the Chicago-based artist who created the incredible Justin Bieber pancake, has just released an all new delicious flapjack morsel in the shape of the already-delicious Ryan Gosling, and we're delighted to share this true work of art, made with a 'batter blaster,' frosting, peanut butter and raisins with all of you," Perez Hilton notes.

Kalnes has also done Kelly Ripa, Stephen Colbert, Ellen DeGeneres and others, using Batter Blaster.

Here's a slide show of her pancake works.

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Another Kalnes creation won an honorable mention at the 2007 Edible Book Festival at the University of Illinois, where she studied painting.

2. Mob Wives: Chicago To Debut In The Spring On VH1.

"Mob Wives: Chicago will introduce a new cast of women suffering the stronzi and agita of their Mafiosi connections," VH1 says.

3. "A Loyola University Chicago journalism professor who was filming an arrest near the Water Tower Campus over the weekend ended up getting handcuffed by a Chicago police officer - the cop then allegedly deleted the video file, in a possible violation of the law."

4. Rahm's Budget Win Is A Loss For Most Chicagoans.

5. Leading Flavor Experts Are Red Hot for Tart Cherries.

"Restaurateur Michael Moorman, owner of popular cafe m.henry and recently opened m.henrietta in Chicago, says he's been using tart cherries as a featured ingredient in everything from salads to sauces to baked goods."

6. "Mayor Rahm Emanuel delivers his first major speech for President Barack Obama Saturday in Des Moines," Lynn Sweet reports for the Sun-Times.

"The event is sold-out - 1,500 are expected to attend, with tickets ranging from $100 to $10,000 which includes a VIP reception with Emanuel."

Of course, you can meet with the mayor for free if you're a millionaire.

"Much of his mayoral schedule is taken up by meetings and calls with wealthy out-of-towners, many of whom have donated to his campaign," the Reader reports in The Mayor's Millionaire Club. "Indeed, it seems Emanuel has learned from his mentor, President Clinton. Under Clinton, the White House was open to big donors who got to spend the night in the Lincoln bedroom. In Emanuel's case, he either invites them into his City Hall office or makes time to hang out at one of his favorite haunts."

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"Some days, Emanuel meets with more multimillionaires within an afternoon than most of us will cross paths with during our entire lives . . . he doesn't regularly hold face-to-face meetings with social service organizations, community groups, or neighborhood activist types."

*

"Emanuel did meet with what his schedule makers called 'community leaders' - who turned out to be some of the most prominent black members of Chicago's business and social elite: Frank Clark, CEO of ComEd; Marty Nesbitt, one of President Obama's best friends; Terry Peterson, Mayor Daley's former campaign manager and current president of the CTA board; Avis LaVelle, spokeswoman for the company that owns Chicago's parking meter system; and James Reynolds, CEO of Loop Capital Markets, one of the most successful minority-owned investment banking firms in Chicago.

"Of course Emanuel always seems to find time for Juan Rangel, CEO of the United Neighborhood Organization, which receives $27 million a year in public funds to operate nine charter schools."

*

Rahm Not Tough Enough To Face Mental Health Advocates.

7. "As part of its cultural diplomacy program, the U.S. embassy brought the FEW Collective, a hip-hop troupe from Chicago, to Islamabad, where they danced, rapped and recited poetry to a Westernized, educated elite audience of young Pakistanis," Reuters reports.

8. Meet Chicago's Kangoo Crew.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Tough enough.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:19 AM | Permalink

Rahm's First Budget Win A Loss For Most Chicagoans

"Chicago aldermen are expected to pass Mayor Rahm Emanuel's $6.3 billion budget plan by a wide margin today," the Tribune reports.

It's a budget the media is declaring a "win" for Rahm instead of a loss for the city's most vulnerable citizens. Because the political implications for the boss man are always more important to the MSM than the real-life implications for real people.

For example, Rahm was able to "win" a fight against mental health advocates by simply ignoring them.

As for the city council, they're just happy that stepfather Rahm didn't beat them as badly as biological father Richie did.

"Ald. Joe Moore (49th), one of the more outspoken Daley critics, said he will vote in favor of Emanuel's budget partly because he engaged the council in the budget process more than Daley did," the Chicago News Cooperative reports.

Other aldermen find it convenient to ignore Rahm's deserved reputation for being one of the most vengeful bastards this side of . . . Richard M. Daley.

"[Ald. Walter Burnett] said he doubted that Emanuel would try punishing rebellious aldermen," CNC reports. At least Burnett is actually considering voting No.

Ald. Roderick Sawyer appears to be a No vote as well, unless his arm has been twisted in the 14 long days since this tweet.

That, of course, came the day after 28 aldermen sent Rahm a letter outlining their budget concerns. That uprising was brief and easily put down by Rahm with tweaks that hardly altered the underlying issues that gave rise to the letter.

But really, all that needs to be said about Rahm's budget was said by downtown alderman and former AT&T regional vice president Brendan Reilly.

"On the eve of a city council vote on an ambitious 2012 budget, 42nd Ward Alderman Brendan Reilly reassured a business crowd at Palmer House last night the Rahm Emanuel administration will treat them better than did any previous mayor," Marina City Online reports.

Because they've been treated so shabbily up to now.

"I will not be serving as a rubber stamp for this mayor," Reilly said. "It just so happens that right now major policy goals are aligned between his office and mine. I happen to think he's done a lot of good on his work in trying to craft a fair budget."

Fair to whom?

Finally, the idea that Rahm isn't using budgetary sleight-of-hand the way Daley did was (pardon the pun) blown out of the water last week by the Reader's Mick Dumke and Ben Joravsky.

"All summer long, in press conferences and at public hearings, Mayor Rahm Emanuel's budget refrain remained the same: no more accounting gimmicks and no new taxes," Dumke and Joravsky report.

"'We have been doing smoke and mirrors on the budget and avoided taking control of our own future as a city,' he said at a public budget hearing in Englewood in August. 'That moment of reckoning is here.'

"But the mayor who vowed to bring honesty to the budgeting process continues to rely on one of the oldest tricks of them all: the water/sewer fund sleight of hand.

"That's the one where the mayor says he's jacking up your water and sewer bill to pay for infrastructure and environmental protection - but then diverts millions of dollars a year to finance other city operations that have little direct connection to water, sewers, or protecting the lake."

Alderman Bob Fioretti was moved to tell the Dumke and Joravsky that "This budget is the biggest shell game I've seen yet."

And guess who the losers are?

"Water and sewer fees are among the most regressive of taxes, since everyone, regardless of income level, has to pay the same rate for a service no one can do without - as opposed to a sales tax on luxury items like, say, health club memberships or visits to the tanning salon, which Emanuel proposed during his mayoral campaign.

"Yet the city is becoming more dependent on a tax that many of its residents find increasingly hard to pay, especially in these tough times."

Oh yeah, Rahm's luxury taxes. The MSM forgot about those pretty quickly - just like Rahm's promise to not raise property taxes. Oops.

(And as long as we're on that link, whatever happened to "promising not to nickel-and-dime Chicagoans with tax increases to plug a budget hole at City Hall?" It just disappears from the discourse or is refashioned as a "dose of realism." Or maybe it's that Rahm's revenue generators are a burden on us far greater than nickels and dimes.)

Now the narrative is about Rahm eschewing budget gimmickry. That's why real reporting like this is so priceless:

"[T]he inspector general's office, which investigates City Hall corruption and budget shenanigans, gets about $2 million a year from your water and sewer bills - about a third of its overall budget. In other words, a budget gimmick will effectively pay for the watchdog against budget gimmicks.

[ . . . ]

"Similarly, another $8 million will go to the Department of Finance to pay for an assortment of expenses, including 'professional and technical services,' postage, and the rental and maintenance of computer equipment.

"Another chunk of money will flow to the Department of Innovation and Technology, which collects and posts city data online. That department is slated to get $5 million in water and sewer fees to pay for more 'professional and technical services.'

"And so on and so forth. If you want to track the water and sewer fund leakage go to page 330 of the budget and read for yourself."

Because most reporters and pundits in town don't appear to have done it for you.

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Comments welcome.


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:26 AM | Permalink

Meet Chicago's Kangoo Crew

"An impromptu Chikangoo Crew debut featuring a few members free styling this past Saturday. We're dancing on boots called Kangoo Jumps. Enjoy! And don't forget to check us out at www.chikangoo.com or join us - www.meetup.com/chikangoo."


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Comments welcome.

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1. From Helene Smith:

Barbra Streisand.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 2:11 AM | Permalink

November 15, 2011

The [Tuesday] Papers

"Mayor Rahm Emanuel is targeting librarians, youth service coordinators, public health nurses, animal care aides and emergency call takers in his 2012 budget that appears headed for easy approval Wednesday," the Tribune reports today.

"While the mayor has tried to focus attention on his plan to trim the ranks of senior and middle managers, front-line employees will bear the brunt of the cuts."

And yet . . .

"Mayor Rahm Emanuel's first city budget rewards a handful of top mayoral aides," the Sun-Times reported last month.

"While the Chicago Police Department is closing three district stations and eliminating 1,252 police vacancies, Supt. Garry McCarthy's chief of staff will get a nearly ten percent bump - to $185,004.

"The Police Department's new director of news affairs will be paid $112,008 a year, nearly 9.5 percent more.

"Transportation Commissioner Gabe Klein gets a nearly eight percent pay raise - to $169,500 . . .

"General Services Commissioner David Reynolds gets a nearly 12 percent bump from his predecessor - from $140,364 to $157,092 . . .

"Matt Hynes, director of the Mayor's Office of Intergovernmental Affairs, is in line for a nearly seven percent raise - from $158,364 to $168,996.

"An administrative secretary in the mayor's office gets a 22 percent pay raise - to $90,000. Four assistants to the mayor would be in line for increases ranging from 14 percent to 41 percent - one earning as much as $162,492.

"There are also pay hikes for two deputy chiefs of staff. The budget director and chief financial officer also get a boost, both receiving $169,992-a-year."

*

You might call Rahm's budget a redistribution of wealth. But that would be engaging in class war.

Apartment Department
"Tough economic times are forcing more Cook County residents to search for affordable apartments, but the dwindling supply is only expected to get worse," the Tribune reports.

"The number of renters who needed affordable housing in 2009 totaled almost 483,000, yet less than 303,000 rental units were considered affordable, meaning nearly two in five renters who needed those units didn't find it.

"Looking forward, by 2020 another 44,000 affordable apartments will be needed because of various demographic and economic changes shaping the market, according to a report that DePaul University's Institute for Housing Studies is expected to release Tuesday.

"DePaul's report, based on the most recent census data and foreclosure and rent statistics, paints a potentially dire situation for low- and moderate-income renters, and not just because foreclosures have wreaked havoc in some neighborhoods. Rather, the bigger issue is increasing rents at a time when household incomes are decreasing."

Well, not everyone's household income is decreasing. For example, the Chicago Police Department's new director of news affairs will make $112,008 a year under Mayor Rahm's budget - 9.5 percent more than the old director of news affairs.

Stand Up, Chicago
Reports From The Front: Car Wash Workers, People's Budget Assembly, Responsible Wealth.

Madigan's McCormick Mess
The funny thing about dictators is that they can't act alone. Michael Madigan, for example, needs his cowardly allies to have his back. For example:

"State Rep. Barbara Flynn Currie, a Chicago Democrat who is chairman of the rules committee, can't say why none of the bills reached the House floor for a vote. 'I don't have a good explanation,' she tells Crain's."

Do you have a bad one?

Seasonal Aisle
"Drugstore operator Walgreen Co. spend $700,000 lobbying the federal government in the third quarter, more than twice what it spent a year ago," AP reports.

"The largest U.S. drugstore chain said its lobbying interests included payments for home health care services, the Medicare Part D prescription drug benefit, the military's Tricare health program, and debit card regulations. The Deerfield company said it lobbied Congress and the Departments of Defense and Health and Human Services."

Rate Bait
I wonder where the local news shops would rank if they were included in this survey.

Paul McCartney Is A Huge Bears Fan!
Bears On The Run!

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The Beachwood Tip Line: What's your policy?

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:41 AM | Permalink

Reports From The Front: Car Wash Workers, People's Budget Assembly, Responsible Wealth

1. From Arise Chicago:

After Receiving Only Tips for Years and Losing Thumb at Work Accident, Latino Car Wash Worker Demands Back Wages

Community supporters join with worker to demand car wash clean up labor practices

CHICAGO - Carlos Ruiz, who reports working for 11 years at Little Village Car Wash at far below minimum wage for only tips and losing his thumb in a workplace accident, will be joined by Arise Chicago and 50 community supporters on Tuesday, November 15, at 3:15 P.M., to lead a delegation from the parking lot at 2551 W. Cermak Rd. to his former employer to demand payment of the wages stolen from him. His action is part of a national week of action against the crisis of wage theft in a dozen cities across the country.

Ruiz worked at the car wash from 2000 to 2011, first operating car wash machinery for five years. He reports that he was paid a fixed weekly amount below the minimum wage and was not paid overtime. In an accident, his right thumb was chopped off. He then began washing cars by hand until 2011. During that time, he reports that he was only paid in tips, never receiving anywhere near minimum wage.

"I stayed at the car wash because I didn't have any other options," Ruiz said. "I had to support my family, and I didn't know what my rights were."

In the summer of 2011, Ruiz met organizers from Arise Chicago and the United Steelworkers, who asked him about how much he was paid at work. They were shocked to find how little he and his fellow workers were making.

"On a fundamental moral level," said Arise Chicago organizer Micah Uetricht, "failure to properly compensate people for the work they have performed is wrong."

Organizers attempted to reach out to Ruiz's former employer to resolve the matter, making multiple attempts to communicate via telephone and mail. Their calls and letters were never answered.

Though the report of conditions at Little Village Car Wash are particularly terrible for workers, organizers have heard of similarly abusive treatment of workers at car washes around the city.

"Sadly, wage theft is a well-known practice in many low-wage industries. But we've found an unparalleled level of exploitation in the car wash industry throughout Chicago," said Uetricht. "Wages far below the minimum, no payment of overtime, nonexistent health and safety precautions like personal protective equipment or training on the use of chemicals - conditions in Chicago's car washes are hyper-exploitative."

Ruiz says he wants to see other car wash workers lose their fear and demand their rights be respected.

"Car wash workers should stand up for their rights," he said. "They don't have to be abused like this. They have the same rights as workers as everyone else."

After a press conference, Ruiz and community supporters will briefly march to Ruiz's former employer, brandishing squeegees, oversized sponges with messages in Spanish and English, and signs and drums outside the car wash along Cermak Road.

ABOUT ARISE: Arise Chicago builds partnerships between faith communities and workers to fight workplace injustice through education, organizing and advocating for public policy changes. It is an affiliate of the national Interfaith Worker Justice workers center network.

2. From Stand Up! Chicago:

STOP (Southside Together Organizing for Power) and Arise Chicago are among the dozens of Stand Up! Chicago coalition groups participating in the Jobs Not Cuts March and Rally this Thursday, November 17.

In advance of that:

What: People's Budget Assembly

When: Noon, TODAY, November 15, 2011

Where: Chicago Temple at 77 W. Washington

Who: Mental Health Movement and other Chicagoans concerned about the impact of closing mental health clinics in the city.

Why: To provide an opportunity to hear directly from those who would be affected by the closures of the six of the city's twelve mental health clinics. If the Mayor's budget passes unchanged Wednesday, these mental health clinics will be shut down and all of the Neighborhood Health Centers will be privatized.

While closing the clinics is being proposed as measure to save $3.3 million, even conservative analyses have shown the likely cost of the consequences of these closures will match or exceed $3.3 million, particularly because of the high cost of hospitalizations and police response to crises.

3. From United for a Fair Economy:

Wealthy Taxpayers Say, 'Tax Us More,' in Open Letter to Super-Committee

Boston, MA - United for a Fair Economy (UFE) has published an open letter to Congress' Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction, or the "Super-Committee." The letter was signed by more than 100 members and supporters of UFE's Responsible Wealth project who are business owners, investors and wealthy individuals in the top 5 percent of the U.S. economy. The letter calls for the majority of deficit reduction to be achieved with higher taxes on the wealthy and corporations.

The twelve member Super-Committee has been tasked with negotiating a plan by November 23 that will reduce the federal deficit by $1.2 trillion, in addition to the nearly $1 trillion in cuts made in August.

All of the signers have incomes of more than $200,000 and are willing to pay income tax at a 39.6 percent rate, as outlined in President Obama's proposal to allow the expiration of Bush-era tax cuts for upper-income households. Among the signers are 15 people with incomes in excess of $1 million who support rates of at least 45 percent on themselves. The signers hail from 23 states, including 6 of the 11 states represented by members of the Super-Committee.

Recent polls show that the majority of Americans, including wealthy people, strongly support higher taxes on the wealthy and corporations.

The letter includes two additional key principles:

* At least half of all spending cuts should be made by reducing unnecessary military expenditures.

* None of the spending cuts should adversely impact beneficiaries of key social programs such as Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, education and other programs relied upon by low- and middle-income families.

If the Super-Committee fails to negotiate a deal by November 23, $1.2 trillion in automatic cuts - half from defense, half from domestic programs (Social Security and Medicare exempted) - will take effect in January 2013. United for a Fair Economy and the signers of this letter believe that no deal is better than a bad deal. Together, they urge Super-Committee members to reject any proposal that does not meet the above principles. Read the letter at www.faireconomy.org/super-committee.

The following individuals are available for comment regarding this letter:

Arul Menezes, Research Manager and Software Architect, Microsoft Research, WA: "As an upper-income taxpayer whose wealth was entirely earned, rather than inherited, I feel my success was in great part due to the egalitarian and meritocratic society I encountered when I came to the U.S. That society has been all but destroyed by the current tax code. Today, much of my income is from capital gains and dividends. I find it grotesque that these should be taxed lower than income from work."

Phillippe Villers, President of Grainpro Inc., Concord, MA: "I am willing to pay more taxes to save the American economy. As an investor, I make decisions based on the opportunity offered, not the tax rates for wealthy Americans. Cutting Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security will not help to revive our struggling economy. I strongly oppose any compromise in the Super-Committee that does not include new revenues from those who can afford them, like myself, for half or more of this deficit reduction plan."

Jim Wellehan, President of Lamey-Wellehan Shoes, Auburn, ME: "I find it terribly frustrating that other large national and international companies pay little to no taxes. To continue with an unfair tax code is to encourage cheating. We should tax incomes of all types at the same rates, be they from capital gains, rent, dividends, interest or work."

Lee Farris, Federal Tax Policy Coordinator, United for a Fair Economy: "Much of the federal deficit is due to the 2001 Bush tax cuts - which largely went to the wealthy - and to two expensive and unpaid-for wars. The automatic cuts, while still very harsh and unfair to low- and middle-income families, would be better than a deal in the Super-Committee that does not meet the principles outlined in our letter."

United for a Fair Economy is a national organization working to close the growing income and wealth divides in the U.S. Responsible Wealth, a project of United for a Fair Economy, is a network of 700 business leaders, high-wealth and upper-income advocates of progressive tax policies and corporate accountability.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:37 AM | Permalink

Paul McCartney Is A Huge Chicago Bears Fan!

"Sir Paul McCartney is a huge Chicago Bears fan so he recorded this track years ago. It recently surfaced after being found in a yard sale in London."


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Also:

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:20 AM | Permalink

November 14, 2011

The [Monday] Papers

"Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan cost taxpayers nearly half-a-billion dollars by blocking repeated efforts to restructure McCormick Place bonds and finance a much-needed second hotel at the convention center, a Crain's investigation finds.

"Between 2005 and 2010, Mr. Madigan stopped five refinancing bills, ignoring declining interest rates that would have saved hundreds of millions. At the time, he never explained why, but his reasons seem petty and political: McCormick Place CEO Juan Ochoa, an appointee of then-Gov. Rod Blagojevich, had fired a Madigan ally at the convention center, and lawmakers from both parties say the speaker wanted retribution."

Madigan, of course, refused to answer Crain's questions. That's Steve Brown's job.

"As for Mr. Madigan, he never spoke of his reasons for rejecting bill after bill. But in response to questions from Crain's, a spokesman for Mr. Madigan now says the speaker blocked refinancing to prevent the Blagojevich administration from cashing in on contracts for bond work, such as underwriting and legal services. He provided Crain's an unsigned memorandum of understanding, dated August 2007, in which McPier agreed to allow the state to review and approve all fees and 'structuring decisions' related to bond refinancing."

If that was true, you'd have thought Madigan would have said so at the time. He didn't.

"I never got a firm answer as to why the bills never advanced in the House," State Sen. Kwame Raoul told Crain's. McCormick Place is in Raoul's district and he sponsored two of the refinancing bills that Madigan killed.

State Rep. Jim Sacia also tried to get an explanation once in real-time.

"I would be deeply grateful, Speaker, if you could explain to the body how that could happen, if that in fact was the case - did I misunderstand something?" Sacia asked during the session last spring. "Did a bill pass the Senate that could have saved the taxpayers of this state several hundred million dollars? Would you be kind enough to address that, if you could?"

Madigan's response: "Mr. Sacia, I'm not sure I understand your question . . . "

Today, though, Madigan's mouth seems to have gained just such an understanding, telling Crain's that the "consequences were outweighed by (opposition to) becoming part of the Blagojevich fundraising machine."

Of course, that didn't stop Madigan from co-chairing Blago's 2006 re-election campaign. But then, why start quibbling when Madigan (and Brown's) explanations are so patently false.

There's a lot more to this story and I hope to revisit several other parts of it through the week.

Jury Fail
"Some federal judges are reluctant to approve background checks because they perceive them as unwarranted invasions of privacy. Others avoid them because they cost too much money or require too much time," the Tribune reports.

"It's too cumbersome to do background checks on every juror in every case," defense attorney Steve Greenberg told the paper. "I don't know that anyone here is at fault. I don't think anyone starts from the position that a juror is going to lie."

Too cumbersome? Cook County courts have been doing it for years. How hard is it?

"Cellini's defense team didn't do background checks in this case because his attorneys didn't feel it was their place, Webb said."

Not your place? You're a defense lawyer!

"We don't go out and investigate whether someone is a U.S. citizen or over 18 years of age," Webb said.

So an underage citizen of North Korea can get on a federal jury here?

"Defense lawyers should not be invading a jurors' privacy."

Let me tell you something: Once someone is picked for a jury, they become akin to a public official, engaged in the public's business and open to scrutiny. That's democracy.

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"First Amendment proponents argue that the current legal mess could have been avoided if [federal judge James] Zagel had provided media with the juror questionnaires during the trial instead of a week after the verdict. As they did in the Ryan trial, journalists most likely would have reported the woman's criminal history before the verdict, allowing the judge to address it before a decision was reached, experts said.

"'Maybe now he'll understand that the press wasn't whining (about releasing the jurors' names),' said Beth Konrad, a Loyola University journalism professor and past president of the Society of Professional Journalists' Chicago chapter. 'There is a legitimate public interest.'"

And when government doesn't do its job, it's often up to journalists to do it for them.

City Council Joke Is On Us
"Everything you need to know about the Chicago City Council's relationship with its new inspector general was summed up in this anecdote from Thursday's Tribune: Reached by reporters, the just-named watchdog declined to answer questions, saying aldermen had asked him not to speak to the media," the paper says in an editorial.

I guess one of the tactics used by the world's most childish people is to just wear you down. Folks like Madigan and Ed Burke (see below) and the Daleys and Emanuels of the world never seem to tire of their antics the way we tire of being subjected to them. I guess because perpetrating antics is actually their job.

"[The new inspector general] won't be allowed to launch an investigation on his own. Instead, he'll need the approval of the Chicago Board of Ethics. In 24 years, that board hasn't accused a single alderman of wrongdoing, even as 20 of them were convicted of felonies.

"The inspector general isn't allowed to act on anonymous reports. That should keep a lid on the tattletales who might be tempted to rat out their bosses or political rivals.

"The office doesn't come with an investigative staff. Khan will have to rely on investigators from yes, the Board of Ethics.

"His job, according to Ald. Edward Burke, 14th, will be to 'respond to complaints, if there are any,' of wrongdoing by the 50 aldermen or their staffs."

I wonder if he'll respond to a complaint that his job is a sham.

Bears Brain Trust Smart After All!
"Numerous professional yakkers spent this week asserting that the Bears had found success the past few weeks because Mike Martz had changed," our very own Jim Coffman writes. "These were the people who wouldn't shut up about what a bad offensive coordinator he was, what a bad coach Lovie Smith was and what a bad general manager Jerry Angelo was (despite the team having made the NFL's final four the year before) when the team started this season 2-3.

"The talkers had to try to find a way to justify the fact that if you went back and listened to what they were saying during the weeks leading up to the Bears' current four-game winning streak, you would conclude they don't know what they're talking about.

"Perhaps in the aftermath of the Bears' dominant, 37-13 victory over the Lions we can get a few things straight and then maybe avoid sounding like idiots the next time the Bears suffer the horrible indignity of a couple losses in a row with the current leadership team in place."

The Weekend in Occupy Chicago
War veterans, police officers, an investigative cartoonist and some Shabbat challah get occupied.

Space Ace
Ace Frehley signs books and body parts in Chicago.

The Weekend in Chicago Rock
From Shonen Knife to Mr. Gnome.

Loyola Students Vie For Prize Beer Keg . . .
. . . In Odd Pushball Game.

Programming Note
Once again it's Monday, and once again that means I'll be behind the bar tonight at the venerable Beachwood Inn. Join us for antics of our own. Bring your thirst and your jukebox money. Occupiers welcome. 5p - 2a.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Anticky.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:30 AM | Permalink

The Weekend in Occupy Chicago

This is what democracy looks like.

1. "Veterans celebrated Veterans Day by joining Occupy Chicago protesters downtown to protest the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan," Samantha Abernathy writes for Chicagoist.

"Multiple veterans groups joined the march, including Iraq Veterans Against the War and We Are Not Your Soldiers, an anti-war organization that works to keep military recruiters off of high school campuses."

2. "Two mass arrests of Occupy Chicago protesters in mid-October obliterated the much-lauded mutual goodwill between city law enforcement and the movement, according to Occupy spokesperson Dan Massoglia," the Nation reports.

"The arrests occurred as large groups of protesters attempted to camp out overnight in Grant Park, a public space with a city curfew. Massoglia says some Occupiers were denied phone calls, food, water and medicine while they were held in jail.

"These arrests stem from what remains Occupy Chicago's most urgent task: finding a home. Though stationed at the corner of Jackson and LaSalle in the heart of Chicago's financial district, police have told the group to remain mobile and to keep their supplies on wheels."

See also: Occupy Chicago's new cart!

3. Occupy Chicago in solidarity with Occupy Judaism.

See also: Occupy Challah!

4. Occupy Chicago in solidarity with Occupy Police.

5. "Occupy Chicago protesters are mostly young liberals who blame Wall Street and the Bush administration for the state of the nation's economy, a survey has found," the Daily Herald reports.

"But while 139 of the demonstrators beating drums and holding signs in the city's downtown financial district overwhelmingly told Benedictine University researchers that President Barack Obama didn't contribute to the economic mess, only one-third say he's doing a good job."

6. Investigative cartoonist hangs out with Occupy Chicago.

7. Loyola Professor Al Gini: "The top 1% is dangerous to the very system it wants to sustain and lives off of."

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:12 AM | Permalink

Ace Frehley Signs Books And Body Parts In Chicago

At Books-A-Million in Chicago last week hawking No Regrets. Wait for the Norway guy.

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And the tattooing back in Norway:

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At the House of Blues in Chicago last Wednesday night:

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:48 AM | Permalink

Loyola Students Vie For Prize Beer Keg In Odd Pushball Game

"Newsreel footage from November 15, 1933. Chicago, IL: Exclusive pictures of a hectic pushball game in which the Freshmen of Loyola University defeat the Sophomores in a wild battle for a prize beer keg, after many players suffer bumps and bruises."


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"The Push Ball contest started in 1930 as a contest between Loyola freshmen and sophomores," according to the university. "It occurred on the football field, now Halas field, and students had to push a ball 8 feet in diameter to the opponent's goal line to score. If neither team scored, then the team with the most total yards gained was declared the winner. The winner of the contest would receive the 'little red barrel' as a trophy to display in the student lounge and the losers would have to jump into Lake Michigan. The Push Ball contest was held annually until the late 1960s."

See also: Loyola Pushball Match, 1932

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From Wikipedia:

"Pushball is a game played by two sides on a field usually 140 yards (128 m) long and 50 yd (45.7 m) wide, with a ball 6 feet (1.83 m) in diameter and 50 lb (22.7 kg) in weight. The sides usually number eleven each, there being five forwards, two left-wings, two right-wings and two goal-keepers. The goals consist of two upright posts 18 ft (5.5 m) high and 20 ft (6.1 m) apart with a crossbar 7 feet from the ground. The game lasts for two periods with an intermission. Pushing the ball under the bar counts 5 points; lifting or throwing it over the bar counts 8. A touchdown behind goal for safety counts 2 to the attacking side.

"The game was invented by M. G. Crane of Newton, Massachusetts, in 1891, and was taken up at Harvard University the next year, but never attained any considerable vogue. Emory University students played pushball from 1923 to 1955 before the game was retired due to its increasingly rough nature."

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Comments welcome.


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:21 AM | Permalink

SportsMonday: Bears' Brain Trust Smart After All!

Numerous professional yakkers spent this week asserting that the Bears had found success the past few weeks because Mike Martz had changed. These were the people who wouldn't shut up about what a bad offensive coordinator he was, what a bad coach Lovie Smith was and what a bad general manager Jerry Angelo was (despite the team having made the NFL's final four the year before) when the team started this season 2-3.

The talkers had to try to find a way to justify the fact that if you went back and listened to what they were saying during the weeks leading up to the Bears' current four-game winning streak, you would conclude they don't know what they're talking about.

Perhaps in the aftermath of the Bears' dominant, 37-13 victory over the Lions we can get a few things straight and then maybe avoid sounding like idiots the next time the Bears suffer the horrible indignity of a couple losses in a row with the current leadership team in place.

Martz has shown during his tenure with the Bears that he calls the plays that give his personnel their best chance to succeed, whatever they may be. He did it last year after the Bears struggled mightily to protect the quarterback in the first month of the season and he has done it this year as well.

In the Bears' season-opener a few months ago, they handily defeated a decent Falcons team 30-12. Jay Cutler threw for 312 yards and finished with a 107.8 passer rating. It appeared the team was all set to move forward with the classic Martzian scheme featuring deep quarterback drops and many big throws down the field.

During the next month it became clear that the Bears' offensive line still wasn't good enough to do that and neither were their receivers, at least with Earl Bennett sidelined by a chest injury he suffered in the second game. So the plan changed. The Bears played more conservatively and when the defense or the special teams came up with big plays, like the special teams did during wins over Carolina and Minnesota (during which they also scored), they were in position to win.

When Bennett came back for the game with the Eagles last week at the same time that Lance Louis had solidified his hold on the right tackle spot - steadying the entire line in the process - the plan started to change back. The Bears were able to beat a hot team on the road despite Matt Forte's two potentially crushing fumbles.

With Louis on one side and J'Marcus Webb on the other, by the way, the Bears now appear to have two of the most valuable commodities in the NFL - young, talented offensive tackles. They were both drafted - in different seventh rounds! - in the last three years by Angelo.

So Martz isn't changing, you numbskulls. Martz is being the same guy he has always been - a very smart play-caller.

(And when the game was still in question in the first half, Cutler completed nine of 14 passes for 123 yards, i.e., the passing game was clicking.)

That said, it doesn't take a genius coordinator to lead the way when the defense is forcing six glorious turnovers like it did against overmatched Lions led by deer-in-the-headlights quarterback Matt Stafford. Let's take a quick look back at those, shall we?

1. Julius Peppers, treat yourself and your friends to all the expensive champagne you want this week. You earned it.

The Lions were moving the ball smartly down the field in their first drive of the game before Peppers absolutely man-handled Calvin "Megatron" Johnson, punching the ball out of his hands and almost decapitating him in the process. Brian Urlacher scooped up the biscuit and ran 17 yards with it; a half-dozen plays later, Matt Forte blasted into the end zone. The Bears were on their way.

2. The next time the Lions had the ball it was Tim Jennings' turn to punch a football loose, and he went ahead and recovered this one himself just before his foot touched out of bounds, leading to a Bear field goal and a two-score lead they would not relinquish the rest of the day.

3. In the second half, Major Wright made a beautiful break on a pass out wide, snatched it out of the air and romped to the end zone to start turning this contest into a rout. It was his best play as a Bear.

4. The next time the Lions had the ball, Charles Tillman expertly jammed Johnson at the line and then released him just in time to avoid penalty and free up his hands for an interception of his own. He also romped into the end zone and the game was essentially over.

5. In the fourth quarter, Jennings snagged a pick on a pass over the middle.

6. Corey Graham finished off the proceedings by leaping high in the end zone to steal a pass intended for - again - Johnson.

How about those Bear cornerbacks! In the past week, Jennings and Tillman have stepped up huge, playing more man coverage and making tons of big plays.

See also:
* Teams Should Probably Stop Punting To Devin Hester
* A Brawl Broke Out In Chicago
* GameDay Highlights

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:32 AM | Permalink

The Weekend in Chicago Rock

You shoulda been there.

1. Shonen Knife at the Empty Bottle on Saturday night.


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2. Skrillex at the Congress on Saturday night.

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3. Dada Life at the Congress on Saturday night.

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4. TOOFUNCHILD at Reggie's on Saturday night.

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5. Heavy Cream at the Empty Bottle on Saturday night.

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6. Mike Doughty at the House of Blues on Saturday night.

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7. Noah and the Whale at Lincoln Hall on Saturday night.

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8. The 88s at the Chicago Theatre on Friday night.

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9. Isolated Incidents at the House of Blues on Friday night.

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10. Hunter Hayes at the House of Blues on Saturday night.

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11. Ray Davies at the Chicago Theatre on Friday night.

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12. Mr. Gnome at the Empty Bottle on Thursday night.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:58 AM | Permalink

November 12, 2011

The Weekend Desk Report

In most of the world, when a monstrous, unfeeling tyrant is toppled after more than 40 years in power, people tear down the symbols of their rule. In this country, we hide behind them.

Market Update
There's been a sharp increase in the value of Children this week. Just not these children.

Investigate This.
Just a suggestion for NCAA President Mark Emmert: If Penn State isn't in violation of your organization's bylaws, perhaps you should investigate yourself.

Title Hopes
Frankly, we think it's a tall order for the Nittany Lions to win any kind of Leaders Division. But hey, they're looking really good in the Lemmings Division.

Firing Blanks
The real reason for Penn State's famous blank uniforms? Joe Paterno doesn't give a fuck about your identity.

Long Game
It's time for Greece to take heart: sure, it's incredibly embarrassing to have everyone all up in your business, but eventually your detractors will screw up even worse and you'll look almost competent again. Just ask Barry Switzer.

No Game Balls
Finally this week, duh.

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The Weekend Desk Tip Line: Take heart.

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This Weekend On Sound Opinions: "They put the super in supergroup: Wild Flag is live in the studio! Plus, Jim and Greg review another supergroup of sorts, Lou Reed and Metallica."

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The CAN TV Weekend Report
CAN TV brings you local, relevant issues from Chicago's neighborhoods and communities. See what's happening around the city in education, the arts, government, cultural events, social services and community activities.

Community Forum: Youth Outreach

11-7-YouthOutreach.jpg

Rick Velasquez of Youth Outreach Services discusses how its community-based support services help children overcome abuse, neglect, and homelessness.

Saturday, November 12 at 7:30 p.m. on CAN TV21
30 min

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Cine Latino: Festival of Short Films, Episode 2

CineLatino-OnHold-Thumb.jpg

Presented by CAN TV and the International Latino Cultural Center of Chicago, Cine Latino features short films and animations from around the world that celebrate the diversity and themes of Latino cinema.

Saturday, November 12 at 8 p.m. on CAN TV21
1 hr

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Forum on Police Accountability

11-7-Police.jpg

Ilana Rosenweig, chief administrator of the Independent Police Review Authority, provides an insider's look at the disciplinary practices of the Chicago Police Department.

Sunday, November 13 at 9 a.m. on CAN TV21
1 hr 30 min

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Food Deserts: A Call to Action

11-7-FoodDeserts.jpg

Torrey Barrett, executive director of the K.L.E.O. Community Life Center, joins a symposium on the causes and impact of food deserts, and what can be done to help.

Sunday, November 13 at 10:30 a.m. on CAN TV21
1 hr 30 min

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Obama and the Gays

11-7-ObamaAndGays.jpg

Author and Windy City Times Publisher Tracy Baim takes an in-depth look at the evolution of President Obama's positions on LGBT issues throughout his political career.

Sunday, November 13 at 12 p.m. on CAN TV21
1 hr

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The Mansfield Lecture with Marian Wright Edelman

11-7-Miriam.jpg

Children's Defense Fund founder Marian Wright Edelman highlights inequities in education, income and health care faced by children of color in the United States.

Sunday, November 13 at 1 p.m. on CAN TV21
1 hr 30 min

Posted by Natasha Julius at 8:29 AM | Permalink

November 11, 2011

The Memory Penn State Dredges Up

I could sense him staring at me, watching me from around the corner. He had done it a few times.

I was 12 years old, and I worked at a newsstand in a northern suburb that summer. He was an older man with bad skin and a wispy combover. He creeped me out, but I was smart, I thought. I wouldn't let anything weird happen.

Then he came from around the corner and approached me. He started talking to me - asked my name, what I liked to do. He bought a newspaper and tipped me a few bucks. Then he asked if I wanted to earn some money. Oh, and he'd give me some pot. I said okay. I knew it was weird, but I thought I was worldly enough to handle whatever he did. I was 12, after all.

This long-ignored memory is what I started thinking about recently, with the Penn State insanity dominating the news. The awfulness happening - rather, that happened for decades - in State College brought back that one day in a horrible room in a transient hotel.

And I'm sure I'm not the only one. I'm sure there are thousands (millions?) of people like me, who have recently had some bad experience come to the surface, unwanted. And now it won't go away. I've spent 30 years trying to forget that day, but reading about Jerry Sandusky allegedly raping a 10-year-old boy in the shower took me back.

After I finished my shift at the newsstand, I followed this man to his creepy apartment just down the block. Thankfully, my friends were waiting for me in the alley outside. (They couldn't wait to get their hands on the pot.) The shades were drawn, but it was late afternoon so it was still somewhat light in the room. He asked me to sit in a chair and he set up a tripod in front of me. He grinned a lot, touched his forehead. He took picture after picture, asking me to smile more.

Then he asked me to open my legs wider. I realized that he was shooting the area between my shorts and my leg. I got nervous. I realized I wasn't in control of the situation. This was getting bad. Then he said he wanted to take pictures from a different angle. He asked me to lay down on the couch that had been opened up into a bed. The sheets were yellowed and messy.

I was numb, realizing something fucked-up was happening. But I was 12. This couldn't get too weird, right? I laid down on the bed, and he took more pictures. Then he said he wanted to show me a wrestling move. He laid down on the bed, lower, and put his head between my thighs.

"Tighten your legs," he said. So I did. "Put your hands on my head," he said. So I did. And I felt him kind of . . . rooting around, digging his face in the area under my balls. I was mortified, frozen. I had no idea what to do. The room was completely silent except for his raspy breathing. And there was a moment or two where it actually felt good, and I thought, "Oh my god, am I gay?"

Somehow, somefuckinghow, it ended there. Somehow, I got out of there. No clothes came off; there was no penetration. And true to his word, he gave me $15 and some pot. I got out of there, ran down the stairs and found my friends. I showed them the three joints in a wrinkled envelope, and they were elated. I didn't tell them what had happened.

The man came back around the newsstand a few times, and I told the cashier inside to call the cops if they saw him. Eventually, he never came back.

I almost never think about that day. But when I do, I want to tell my 12-year-old self not to fucking go to this apartment. But I did. And so I want to tell myself it's okay, you didn't do anything wrong. You trusted someone you didn't know, and that can be a mistake. But I know I'm lucky. I got out of the room safely. The boy in the shower at Penn State didn't get away. And that breaks my heart.

And now it's getting really ugly at Penn State. People are getting fired. Everyone is talking about the school and how fucked-up it is. Penn State is likely going to end up losing hundreds of millions of dollars in lawsuits. It's devastating. But I feel no sympathy.

At least Jerry Sandusky was discovered. At least there will be some semblance of justice here. But often, that type of evil doesn't get found out. There is no catharsis. There is no relief. It just appears, and then it fades away into darkness, leaving tears and memories you simply can't shake.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:46 AM | Permalink

The [Friday] Papers

"Court officials acknowledged Thursday that information revealed by the Tribune appears to show that a member of the federal jury that convicted Springfield power broker William Cellini concealed two felony conviction," the paper reports.

"Attorneys for Cellini said the information may be used in seeking to overturn last week's verdict . . . Federal law generally disqualifies convicted felons from serving on juries."

Okay, here's the important part for anyone who may have thought preventative measures had been put in place to address this type of problem after the fiasco of the George Ryan jury:

"While the jury was deliberating Ryan's fate, the Tribune uncovered that two jurors had concealed arrest records during jury selection months earlier. U.S. District Judge Rebecca Pallmeyer, who was presiding over the Ryan trial, booted both from the jury after eight days of deliberations, replaced them with alternates and ordered that deliberations start anew. The reconstituted jury convicted Ryan on sweeping corruption charges.

"Ryan, who also was represented by Webb, made the unusual conclusion to the trial a key part of his appeal of the verdict, but Ryan's conviction was upheld by appeals courts. He is serving a 6 1/2-year sentence in federal prison.

"Following Ryan's trial, Chief Judge James Holderman said the court would start conducting criminal background checks on prospective jurors in certain higher-profile trials. But under the proposal, the judge presiding over the case has veto power over whether the background checks would be allowed."

First, why would Holderman treat "certain higher-profile trials" differently than the rest when everyone deserves an honest jury?

Second, why give the presiding judge veto power when everyone deserves an honest jury?

Third, why would a judge deny background checks?

*

"It was unclear if U.S. District Judge James Zagel allowed background checks to be conducted of the prospective jurors in the Cellini trial. The judge did not respond to an email from the Tribune seeking to talk to him about the newspaper's findings. Holderman was unavailable for comment."

*

Now here's the bigger surprise:

"I consider this very important information that I was not aware of," said Dan Webb, one of Cellini's lawyers.

Does superlawyer Dan Webb never learn?

From the Beachwood's March 27, 2006 edition:

"Count me among those stunned that the defense in particular apparently didn't do a background check on jurors in the George Ryan trial.

"I guess $10 million doesn't go as far as it used to.

"It strains credulity to think that today's sophisticated jury consulting doesn't include gathering every single fact possible on every single juror, including their favorite colors so lawyers can choose the most advantageous wardrobe and their favorite TV shows so a reference or two can be dropped into closing arguments.

"But then, maybe Dan Webb is so brilliant that he doesn't need no stinkin' jury consultants."

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Finally, no sentence has appeared more often in Chicago's newspapers over the years than this one:

"Randall Samborn, a spokesman for the U.S. attorney's office in Chicago, declined to comment on the development."

Graham Cracker
"The plaque honoring fired Penn State President Graham Spanier, a 1966 graduate of Highland Park High School, was removed Thursday from the lobby of the North Shore school in the midst of a child sex-abuse scandal that has also claimed famed football coach Joe Paterno," TribLocal Highland Park/Highwood reports.

Huh. The accounts I cited yesterday noted Spanier's self-described hardscrabble childhood on the South Side but never mentioned a North Shore suburban existence.

The Memory Penn State Dredges Up
"I was 12 years old, and I worked at a newsstand in a northern suburb that summer. He was an older man with bad skin and a wispy combover."

Mental Floss
"Illinois has cut spending on mental health needs faster and by a greater amount than just about any other state, a new report out on Thursday asserted," Greg Hinz reports for Crain's.

"In terms of percentage change, Illinois' 31.7% cut topped all but South Carolina (a 39.3% reduction), Alabama (36%) and Alaska (32.6%). Despite hard economic times, 21 states increased spending in the three-year period, according to the study."

Maybe if crazy people threatened to leave the state they'd get a big subsidy.

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

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

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

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

The Definition of Insanity . . .
"As Chicago launches bonus pay for principals, studies show no impact on student achievement," WBEZ reports.

Maybe if principals dressed better.

Michael Jerkface Jordan
"Michael Jeffrey Jordan is a coin-operated, two-faced jerk," veteran basketball scribe and one-time confidante (I think) to Jordan Lacy J. Banks writes for the Sun-Times.

"During his NBA career, he always defended the average player because he was a committed, compassionate athlete. His marketing appeal helped players and owners reap millions.

"But now that he's the owner of the Charlotte Bobcats, Jordan is the chief headhunter for hard-line NBA owners who locked out the players."

For an even more devastating critique of Jordan's absolute hypocrisy, check out Tom Ziller's "Michael Jordan: The NBA's Biggest Pickle."

It's Not So Much That He's A Socialist Muslim . . .
. . . but that he's covering up his trip to Mars.

The Week in Occupy Chicago
"So while more and more Americans seem to be 'getting it' when it comes to the 99% movement, there's still one group that's woefully ignorant: The corporate media."

Lost Faith In A Ruined Sport
"For a sport that depends more than any other on the direct financial commitment of its fans, its partners, where the good graces of the horseplayers should be paramount, racing puts its fans last like no other," our man on the rail Thomas Chambers writes. "How long must I take my money, with upwards of 30 percent knowingly skimmed, to the window, at the track literally or online figuratively, and get treated like shit before I walk away from the ball peen?"

The Week in Chicago Rock
You shoulda been there.

The Week in WTF
JoePa, Alex Trebek and Ron Paul.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Faithless.


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:46 AM | Permalink

The Week in Occupy Chicago

This is what democracy looks like.

1. "The Occupy movement received a boost [Tuesday] from senior citizens. To send a message to Congress about plans to cut Medicare and Social Security - cuts that will likely come out of the Gang of 12 - hundreds of senior citizen patriots occupied a downtown intersection in Chicago," RT reports.

"They were joined by nearby members of Occupy Chicago and other grassroots organizations - as well as a few members of Congress including Representatives Jan Schakowsky and Danny Davis.

"Ultimately, police moved in to break up the demonstration, hauling away 47 people - mostly senior citizens - in handcuffs.

"We can add their names to the growing list of 3,362 patriots who've been arrested since the Occupy movement started more than a month-and-a-half ago.

"But these mass arrests of patriots instead of banksters don't jive with the attitudes of most of the American people.

"A new NBC/Wall Street Journal poll shows Occupy Wall Street popularity surging with 60% of Americans supporting the basic sentiment of the occupiers. That's twice as much support as the Tea Party received in the same poll.

"So while more and more Americans seem to be 'getting it' when it comes to the 99% movement - there's still one group that's woefully ignorant . . . the corporate media."


*

2. Occupy Des Moines invites Occupy Chicago to Occupy The Caucuses.

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3. Occupy Judaism Chicago.

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4. Famed filmmaker Haskell Wexler is now documenting Occupy Los Angeles. Reports the L.A. Times: "During a recent trip to a Chicago film festival, he stopped by the Occupy Chicago protests in his hometown. 'In Chicago, they had more overt union participation,' he recalled. 'Chicago seemed more working class than here, though the age was pretty spread.'"

*

5. "Outside of New York City, in small-city occupations like Allentown, Pa., Youngstown, Ohio, and Lexington, Ky., there are real problems of racial composition that are not being addressed," Arun Gupta writes for Salon. "But these are also small movements with extremely limited resources.

"In contrast, in Philadelphia, a huge percentage of occupiers were African-American, perhaps 50 percent, though it is constantly shifting. Detroit was more complicated because that city's black community has been so devastated. The composition of occupiers appeared to be about half African-American as well, but far fewer were participating in the General Assembly on the day I visited. It seemed many African-Americans at the occupation were homeless or impoverished and did not have the cultural capital to fully participate in the movement, but of the 10 African-Americans I talked to, all said they supported 'the cause' or were part of the Occupy movement there. And Occupy Detroit organizers are fully aware of this divide and trying to address it.

"Occupy Pittsburgh was at least 20 percent African-American, all of whom were very active in the work and activities there. Baltimore was heavily African-American when I visited about four weeks ago, and D.C. also had a large African-American contingent. Chicago was much harder to classify, even though I spent four days there, because they did not have a designated space, so it was much more fluid."

*

6. Upcoming Occupy Chicago Events.

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Comments welcome.


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 5:05 AM | Permalink

The Week in Chicago Rock

You shoulda been there.

1. Colin Tyler at Subterranean on Sunday night.


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2. Ace Frehley at the House of Blues on Wednesday night.

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3. Agnostic Front at Reggie's on Wednesday night.

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4. Airborne Toxic Event at the Riv on Wednesday night.

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5. War Hound at Reggie's on Wednesday night.

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6. Hollywood Undead at the Riv on Tuesday night.

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7. Fu Manchu at the Double Door on Monday night.

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8. Christina Perri at the House of Blues on Tuesday night.

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9. Asking Alexander at the Riv on Tuesday night.

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10. Borgore at the Riv on Tuesday night.

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11. Polica at Schubas on Tuesday night.

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12. Manchester Orchestra at the House of Blues on Monday night.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 4:29 AM | Permalink

The Week in WTF

1. JoePa and State Pen U, WTF?

Tell yourself as you click your heels together. Football is just a game. Foot . . . ball . . . is . . . just . . . a . . . game.

On the theory that Joe Paterno has been in a jet that has flown over Chicago, we are going to appropriate this story.

First, to prove that Paterno is a noble man and Penn State is a lofty fortress of thinking, 2,000 students riot. Okay, I'm convinced.

Second, if you've ever wondered what it means that college sports has gotten bigger than the universities that sponsor them, consider that they will still play the Nebraska-Penn State game this Saturday because, well, it's important. So, so important. Raped children? Coverup? That's too bad, but it can't be allowed to interfere with the higher purpose. Penn State is not shamed into deep mourning and contemplation; it's just "managing" the controversy.

2. Faisal Khan, WTF?

Could there possibly be a more useless exercise than this puerile silliness?

No staff, no ability to grant anonymity and $60,000 a year, which is about what Ald. Dick Mell's driver makes.

Why would a person even take this humiliating eunuch-in-residence job, one defined clearly as sit-there-and-be-quiet? Oh. I forgot. He's a lawyer.

Speaking of shams, the Chicago Board of Ethics, which will tell Khan what he can investigate, has a YouTube instructional video about how to be ethical.

The chairman apparently is Sergeant Schultz.

3. Ron Paul, WTF?

The Tribune says the state's GOP decided to conduct a canine-and-equine straw poll for the presidential nomination as a way to give itself more electoral pizzazz and relevance.

But then they let Crazy Uncle Charlie win the vote.

Ron Paul seems less crazy these days only because he's consistent in his nuttiness, and he's not quite as bat-bleep crazy as Herman Cain. Where's Lyndon LaRouche when you need crazy?

No worry; it was the standard election process in which money buys the candidate. It was cheap, too. Only $5 per ballot.

GOP chief buzz builder Tom Cross even told folks, inaccurately as it developed, they could vote as often as they wanted if they paid more, so it would be even more like a real election - except for the part about Ron Paul being allowed to win.

4. Kara Spak, WTF?

Maybe this is the only way for reporters to make a buck these days. She was recently promoted to Senior Staff Saucy Wench at the Sun-Times. No raise, of course.

5. John L. Wilson Jr., WTF?

This guy makes WTF wistful for the good old days when we fried pond scum on the electrical hot seat.

And though we have no philosophical affection for capital punishment, sometimes barbarism can be emotionally satisfying and useful because it cleans out the gene pool.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 3:51 AM | Permalink

TrackNotes: Lost Faith In A Ruined Sport

I've put a lot of faith into Thoroughbred horse racing.

Faith, by it's very nature, includes, even requires at times, at least some blindness. The acceptance of shortcomings, denial of imperfections. Blinkers, if you will.

I've used a lot of superlatives to describe the sport and nature of horse racing; its richest of histories, unparalleled pageantry, unsurpassed power and speed.

But like a kid with only one candy store in town, when the candyman keeps pushing you away with the likes of surly service, inconsistent or sometimes non-existent access, and even poisoned gumdrops, you get the hint to develop a taste for something else.

Racing's apathy for its fans and itself was already evident to anyone who pays attention, but after the debacle of the 2011 Breeders' Cup, audacious enough to call itself the "World Championships," the blinkers have fallen off. The faith is lost.

It could easily begin and end with the running of the BC Mile, the long-awaited race in which Goldikova would attempt to win her fourth straight. But there's more; there's always more.

The Mile could have been the equivalent of Joe DiMaggio's 56 games or even more, because today, horses rarely run long enough to achieve such things.

Instead, we got the perfect storm of ineptitude, indifference, laziness and pure outrage.

Saving ground on the hedge most of the way around, Goldikova, the one horse, found herself bottled up on the last turn coming into the stretch. As the horses spun out of the turn, Goldikova needed to get outside to find a hole, so Olivier Peslier took her out, one lane at a time.

As quick as she is, Goldikova went for a hole which closed up just as her head got in it; she held back and then went out one more lane to get back into another hole. Trouble was, in doing so she sharply cut off Courageous Cat, who had to pull up suddenly and then himself bumped Byword out of the way.

Court Vision held on for a photo finish over Turallure, paying an astounding $131.00 to win. Goldikova, with too much to do and her age catching up with her, came in another half-length back in third. Courageous Cat, the fourth betting choice, finished last.

Announcers going crazy, OBJECTION flashed on the results board. The stewards had most definitely missed the near pileup, but Courageous Cat's jockey, Pat Valenzuela, filed the protest. In both the overhead and head-on shot, it was clear Goldikova's bull move caused problems for at least two other horses, probably three.

The next TV shot was from the video-only camera installed in the stewards' booth as two chrome domes and a bureaucrat-type gazed at the five video monitors, looking just like what they turned out to be: slack-jawed do-nothings preparing to do just that - nothing.

As sure as Goldikova should have been disqualified to last behind the horse she impeded, your win odds that they wouldn't do anything - despite ESPN analyst Jerry Bailey's assurances they would do the right thing - were pretty damn good. And that's what they did. They let the order of finish stand.

I was in disbelief, I didn't care if it was Goldikova. Jerry Bailey was incredulous and seemingly livid.

"Somehow, the stewards thought differently than the rest of the human race," wrote ESPN.com racing columnist Bill Finley. "Goldikova stayed up, with steward John Veitch telling reporters that Byword was equally at fault and it was a case of two horses going for the same hole at the same time."

This is the same John Veitch who has still not been held accountable for one of the most egregious breakdowns of wagering integrity and indifference of a horse's welfare in recent memory with last year's Life At Ten episode.

Did they give Goldikova a mulligan because of her stature in the Breeders' Cup? Even though the incident happened fairly far up the track, did they arbitrarily decide that none of the other horses had any chance to finish better than Goldikova (this happens all the time)? Did they figure well, it happened, nothing we can do about it now?

What if you had Courageous Cat in anything from a win to a superfecta, as many bettors undoubtedly did? I had him in the mix. What if you had Gio Ponti, who finished fourth, in the trifecta?

But here comes the Joe Frazier body shot.

As pointed out by a Paulick Report commenter, one of the video monitors in the stewards room was tuned to the Kentucky-Ole Miss football game!

WHAT?!

IMG_20111110_175834.jpg

Having DVR'd the races, I took a look, in beautiful high definition, and there it was. With a video array of two screens above three more screens, the lower right screen was, in fact, tuned to the football game! There was a fist-pumping yahoo kid in the stands screaming at the camera, the shot then pulling away to give us the panorama of the football stadium. Disturbingly, as the sideline camera showed the players of both teams coming to the line of scrimmage, it even appeared as if one of the stewards was watching the game instead of reviewing footage of the disputed race.

Perched high above the race track in their glass booth, the perspective showed the mighty twin spires of the alleged cathedral of horse racing as big as battleships close up. Surely these stewards knew where they were, right?

I hadn't noticed Saturday, and if Jerry Bailey, while assuring us this was a DQ-able offense, did notice it he didn't say anything. I don't think he did.

It was wrong on dozens of levels. They're called stewards, by definition charged with caring for the integrity of the competition, the quality of effort and the cleanest of results. These guys could very well have found themselves in the position of ruling a jockey did not give "full effort" when they themselves did not put forth their own full effort in meeting their responsibilities on one of the biggest days of racing on the planet.

As I said, they did not order an inquiry in the race, Pat Valenzuela raised the objection, which was his duty to the integrity of the race. How do we know the stewards were even watching the race as it ran? Perhaps the Wildcats were first-and-goal.

If the stewards are giving only 80 percent of their attention to the most important races of the year, why should I give them 100 percent of my wagering money? And why is it in Kentucky that we have two major race controversies in two consecutive years?

Other transgressions were minor in comparison but contribute to the disappointment.

* We had the stewards and veterinarians, unconvincing and in classic overcompensation after their failure with Life At Ten last year, scratching Shotgun Gulch from the Filly and Mare Sprint on Friday because "she didn't look good in the left foreleg." If it was a legitimate scratch, it sure didn't feel like it. It felt smarmy, vindictive.

* In the unpreparedness-leads-to-problems department, Announce was scratched from the Filly and Mare Turf after she got loose from her lead pony, bolted down the track and then, while trying to get her bearings, spun around and smacked her hindquarter into the horse ambulance sitting trackside. Requiring stitches, it was an automatic scratch and her connections were grateful.

But it also pointed out the seeming failure of race officials to address the issue of European horses who don't use lead ponies to get to their starting gates. Like any athlete, these horses are creatures of habit and routine, and introducing another animal of similar or bigger size to shadow them to the gate can get disquieting. How much do you want to bet that there was no discussion between officials and these horses' connections about either schooling with the ponies beforehand or foregoing them altogether? It was an obvious problem with the Euros all weekend.

* The track never dried out. After rain Thursday that ended early Friday morning, races Friday and Saturday were run in ideal weather conditions. Okay, so they got a lot of rain and Friday races might see some effect of that. But after the cliched "Yahhhp, this track will dry out in no time; it's very high tech" from the TVG hosts Thursday night and Friday morning, we saw a track that was basically sealed as the Friday BC races began. Fine, seal the track if you have to. But why doesn't it just dry better than that?

Daily Racing Form's Dan Illman reported that the track was sealed all the way up until the first Breeders' Cup race Saturday, which was the third race on Saturday's full card. Sealing means that the track is rolled smooth so that any rain or excess water rolls off of it instead turning to soup or washing away.

Saturday dawned under perfect blue skies, but the track stayed wet, with glistening puddles, throughout the day, and it didn't look like they would or could do anything about it. As far as I know, it didn't rain in the overnight hours Friday; why seal the track instead of let it get air and dry out?

It made for a cuppy dirt track, as described by one jockey, which means hoof prints or "dents" in the track did not easily come out. Another called it sticky. I noticed in several races that the main running lanes were full of hoof prints and not raked out before the start of another race. Like running on flypaper. The dirt track was abominable, the turf course better. If somebody out there has an explanation, I'd love to hear it, because once again, fans were left in the dark during the races.

I believe the track most definitely did not allow these horses to give representative accountings of themselves. I think it was a definite factor in why the better horses in the Classic such as Havre de Grace, Flat Out, So You Think, To Honor and Serve and Stay Thirsty all had such difficult trips. One or two of those? Sure, but not all of them.

* This one goes on an egotistical owner and a pliant trainer, not the Breeders' Cup management, but the health of a horse was once again a factor and a possible detriment to the fans.

First thing this Monday morning, it was announced that Uncle Mo was retired from racing. Tested after the Classic, a liver enzyme was apparently elevated, an indicator of the disease that knocked him out of the Kentucky Derby and sidelined him for weeks.

Going off as the close fourth betting favorite, Mo was a spirited participant in the pace, even led for a few moments, looking like a million bucks. Coming into the stretch, he faded, like most knew he would, and finished tenth.

Now, the amount Uncle Mo took in wagering for this race was ridiculous. While talented, he didn't have the foundation or the breeding to even be in this race. While the health of the sport might have benefited from a more logical placing and also gotten Uncle Mo a win in the Dirt Mile, the fans lost again as blowhard, self-centered owner Mike Repole (where was the gentle "horseman," trainer Todd Pletcher, in all of this?) made this a caveat emptor. Think there's any chance the newbies who lost their money on an overhyped and misplaced Mo will be back?

But what health was he in? Were his enzymes elevated coming into the race, and if they were, how could his medical people and Pletcher not know? Was he 100 percent? Once again, we'll never know.

Is any or all of this is overreaction? Horseplayers work hard to study trends, find familiarity with a horse and a race. A $5,000 claimer in the Kentucky Derby - or Uncle Mo in the Breeders' Cup Classic - raises eyebrows, gets your attention, is illogical. You know it's not right. And apparently, seeing college football on a screen inside a screen is also not right and enough to put me over the brink.

After all these years of witnessing lackadaisical disregard for betting integrity; the introduction of synthetic surfaces for all the wrong reasons, including PR, track maintenance laziness and taking care of cronies like a Cicero town lord; childish and greedy bickering over simulcast signals that leaves me without tracks I want to see; and track and OTB management that offer up bad food, bad technology and surly bet tellers without even throwing out as much as a free-admission bone, you start to see a trend. Not tough to handicap that.

I see trainers, even the "horse whisperers," who juggle medications, legal and otherwise, to the point where their horses may never achieve their true peaks. I see a sport called racing that is so perverted, it's more profitable to not race! Depriving the fans of any affiliation to a star horse any sophomore marketing major could tell you is so important to any brand or product.

I see a Richard L. Duchossois banging with the faceless, dispassionate gang suits of Churchill Downs Inc., and working tirelessly to crush Illinois racing under his heel, pimping his gorgeous facility for his own aggrandizement rather than seek to nurse Illinois racing back to health.

I see the bible of racing, the Daily Racing Form, profit and profit - and never advocate.

And I see three featherbedded, arrogant racing stewards, on one of the most important days of their professional lives, watching a college football game.

For a sport that depends more than any other on the direct financial commitment of its fans, its partners, where the good graces of the horseplayers should be paramount, racing puts its fans last like no other. If the fiefdoms of racing such as Kentucky and Churchill Downs cannot ensure complete dedication and effort to maintaining the integrity of the wager, then I've got news: the sport's nothing. We had Goldikova this year, Life At Ten last year, and even now issues pertinent to the Pick Six Scandal of 2002 are still unresolved. How long do I put up with that?

How long must I take my money, with upwards of 30 percent knowingly skimmed, to the window, at the track literally or online figuratively, and get treated like shit before I walk away from the ball peen? How much more enthusiasm, or faith, must I invest knowing the overseers of the game would much rather protect and profit from the engineered chaos of American Thoroughbred horse racing than do the things its fans surely know and often ask for to save the game?

I'll never forsake the jockeys or the horses themselves, for they are the true heart and soul of the sport. And horseplayers are the salt of the earth.

But to those who hold the game in their care: Maybe college football is good for something.

Call me when they get it together, or hold the funeral. Whichever comes first.

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Thomas Chambers is our man on the rail. He welcomes your comments.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:32 AM | Permalink

November 10, 2011

The [Thursday] Papers

Robbie Gould, you are this week's Worst Person in Chicago.

"Let's hope the kids can re-focus now and worry about beating Nebraska and not worry about situations that are out of their control or not in their hands," Gould said.

Or, and I'm just spitballing here, Penn State could use this as a teaching moment and start by assigning to every football player - and every student, faculty member, administrator and booster - the reading of the stomach-turning grand jury report.

*

Fired Penn State president Graham Spanier grew up on Chicago's South Side and earned his Ph.D at Northwestern.

"Mr. Spanier was born in 1948 in South Africa, the country to which his father fled to escape the Holocaust, according to a profile in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette in 1995," the Post-Gazette reports.

"Within a year of his birth, as apartheid came to remind his father of Nazism, the family moved to the South Side of Chicago, where Mr. Spanier's father earned a living unloading trucks.

"Mr. Spanier grew up poor, but advanced himself, working multiple jobs, earning 27 college credits while still in high school, and paying his own way through Iowa State University, where he earned an undergraduate degree and master's degree.

"The man who once envisioned himself as a mathematics major ultimately went on to earn a doctoral degree in sociology from Northwestern University in 1973."

*

From a Bristol University (of England) press release upon Spanier receiving an honorary degree:

"Graham was born in 1948 in South Africa where his family had fled from Germany. Very soon after that, they emigrated to the United States of America and Graham was brought up in the south side of Chicago.

"The family was poor and Graham remembers a challenging childhood in which there was not enough food on the table and he had to work long hours to supplement the family income.

"Even as a child, Graham recognized that the only way out of this situation was education and he worked hard academically to become the first person in his entire family network to go to university.

"He gained his bachelors and masters degrees from Iowa State University and his PhD from Northwestern in Chicago becoming a professor at a very young age."

*

From Town & Gown:

"Born in Capetown, South Africa, Graham came to the United States as an infant and grew up on the south side of Chicago in a neighborhood of working-class immigrants. His father loaded and unloaded trucks in a warehouse, and his mother was a secretary.

"[His wife] Sandy was born and raised in Iowa, where her father was a schoolteacher and her mother, who had a degree in home economics, was a full-time homemaker.

"Graham and Sandy met at Iowa State University, Sandy's parents' alma mater. Graham was working on his master's degree in sociology there, had a column in the student newspaper, and was in student government. Sandy was just starting college and first noticed Graham when he was leading her freshman-orientation session. Graham eventually asked Sandy out, and for their first date, they went to a hamburger place where customers sat in booths and ordered their meals via phone.

"Graham finished his master's degree, and the couple got married on September 4, 1971. The newlyweds moved back to Graham's hometown so he could earn his doctorate in sociology at Northwestern University. Meanwhile, Sandy finished her bachelor's degree at the University of Illinois at Chicago and then taught high school."

Illinois Law Scam
"When the University of Illinois law school announced a new early entrance program in 2008, the stated reason was to recruit top U. of I. undergraduates and give them 'the first shot at the limited number of seats' at their school," Jodi Cohen reports for the Tribune.

"But behind the scenes, now-disgraced College of Law admissions dean Paul Pless revealed another motive was at play. By admitting high-achieving students in their junior years, without a law school entrance exam, the students' high GPAs would be included in the class profile but no test scores could potentially drag down the class.

"'That way, I can trap about 20 of the little bastards with high GPAs that count and no LSAT score to count against my median. It is quite ingenious,' Pless boasted in a 2008 e-mail exchange with an acquaintance about iLEAP, the early admissions program now in its fourth year. A law school class' median LSAT scores and GPAs are key factors in influential U.S. News & World Report rankings, and documents released by the university this week show the school's preoccupation with them.

"Pless resigned Friday after a two-month, $1 million school investigation found he reported inflated grades and test scores of admitted students in six of the last seven years to make the classes appear more academically accomplished than they were. A review of the investigative file shows the intense culture in which Pless worked, one focused on improving the academic credentials of the incoming classes in part as a means to improving the already well-regarded school's ranking.

"The college's strategic plans and annual reports focused on that ranking. Pless' salary increases were tied to it. The law dean and other top officials exchanged e-mails about the benefits of different combinations of test scores and GPA medians to achieve it."

Paul Pless, you are lucky Robbie Gould opened his mouth this week.

Ad Occupied
"[W]hen a financial institution expressed interest in sponsoring a downtown bridge earlier this fall, city officials and the company worried the ad would become a target of Occupy Chicago protesters, so the deal was put on hold," a marketing exec told the Tribune.

City Hall Crime Scene
Alderman John Arena and Sherlock Holmes investigate.

Daley To Harvard
Insert tired punchlines here.

Sneedless To Say
"I admit it was hard to stomach watching the rose-red-lipsticked mouth of your accuser, Sharon Bialek, issue her statement Monday - while flicking the streaked, white-blond hair out of her eyes," Sneed writes, "while twinkling crystal drop earrings enmeshed in hair extensions (?) snaked down her shoulders."

Yeah, but this is the truest picture of unreliable media statements.

Immobile America
"Americans like to believe that theirs is the land of opportunity, but the hard facts are that children born into poor families in the United States tend to stay poor and children born into wealthy families generally stay rich. Other countries have shown more success at lessening the effects of inequality on mobility - possibly by making public investments in education, health, and family well-being that offset the private advantages of the wealthy."

- Persistence, Privilege and Parenting

Chicago's Stand-Up Debt Comic
Schtick for the times.

The Real Andy Rooney
Hating on gays, blacks and Kurt Cobain.

Earl Bennett And The McRib Are Back!
In The Blue & Orange Kool-Aid Report.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Schticky.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:28 AM | Permalink

The Real Andy Rooney

Celebrated 60 Minutes commentator and Tribune Media Services syndicated columnist, died last week. The tributes were many, but Rooney was more Archie Bunker than, well, the avuncular Andy Rooney described in so many stories. Let's take a look.

1. On the suicide of Kurt Cobain.


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2. On his utter disconnect with popular culture.

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3. On the word "Negro."

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4. On sexual harassment.

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5. On "self-induced" ills such as AIDS.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:43 AM | Permalink

Chicago's Stand-Up Debt Comic

Schtick of the times.


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See also:
* Tim Clue's Wikipedia page
* TimClue.com

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:33 AM | Permalink

City Hall Budget Crime Scene Expanded To CBOT

Community leaders, joined by Ald. John Arena (45th), rallied against Mayor Emanuel's budget proposal Wednesday, citing cuts to city services and expanded fees for city residents at a time when a $240 million surplus will remain in the city's Tax Increment Financing (TIF) coffers. With many of Chicago's families facing a harsh economy, organizers believe the budget asks those with less to sacrifice more.

"Chicago needs jobs, not layoffs," said Charles Brown, a member of Action Now. "It's a crime for the city to be cutting programs while United Airlines and the Mercantile Exchange get $45 million of our money."

Coalition members taped yellow crime scene tape across the entrance to City Hall to make their point.

Critics believe that the TIF program disproportionately benefits wealthy areas while ignoring neighborhoods in need. According to documents on the city's TIF website, the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) was awarded $15 million in October 2009. Chicago's TIF website also shows, United Airlines was awarded a total $31.3 million in TIF money in two different deals in September 2009 and October 2007.

Meanwhile, the inclusion of a 20% TIF surplus by the mayor does not go far enough.

Maria Heuramo, leader with Brighton Park Neighborhood Council, stated, "Our communities are suffering. The 99% has shared in the sacrifice time and time again. What about downtown LaSalle Street, Mr. Mayor?"

According to an analysis of the Census' American Community Survey estimates, Brighton Park has 40.6% more people making less than $25,000 than people who live in downtown TIF districts. From this same Census report, 51.1% of Brighton Park residents graduated from high school versus 89.9% of residents living in downtown TIF districts.

"Mayor Emanuel has decided to propose a budget that allows business as usual for downtown developers and the corporate elite. Our tax dollars should go to our children, not languish in downtown slush funds," said Sara Echevarria, a former teacher at Clemente High School. "There are record number of teachers having to manage classes with thirty, even forty children, making it harder for our kids to learn. How is that good management?"

Community organizations want the mayor to do what is right and make sure taxpayer money comes back to serve taxpayers. Last month, these same organizations worked with 17 aldermen to introduce the Responsible Budget Ordinance. The legislation calls for a 50% TIF surplus to return to fund city and county services, education, libraries, and parks.

"I signed onto that ordinance because TIF money has been sitting in those accounts for years," Arena said.

Last week, 28 aldermen sent a letter asking Mayor Emanuel to consider alternatives to lessen the damage to Chicago's families. "We have brought those alternatives to the fifth floor and we have not heard back on everything that we have put in front of them," Arena said.

One of the areas long attacked in recent budgets has been the city-run mental health clinics. Gale Davis, an advocate for mental health services and leader with Southsiders Together Organized for Power asked,"If you can find $15 million for CME, how dare you say you can't find $3.3 million to keep our clinics open?"

Because of Chicago's handout to the CME, and the CME's current lobbying for new corporate tax loopholes, residents marched down LaSalle Street from City Hall to the Board of Trade. They marched in solidarity with Occupy Chicago, and rallied outside the trading pits.

"The Chicago Mercantile Exchange made $316 million dollars in the last quarter, but want taxpayers to give them even more," said Grassroots Collaborative Director Amisha Patel. "The city gave them $15 million to put in golden toilets, the State is considering giving them $100 million in tax breaks, and the community gets left in the cold. Mayor Emanuel has the chance to put people over corporations, and keep Chicago working. We hope he does right, stands with the working families of Chicago, and passes a Responsible Budget."

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See also:
* Medill Reports: Protesters Declare City Hall A Budget Crime Scene
* Progress Illinois: Chicagoans Declare City Hall, CBOT As Crime Scenes
* WGN-TV: City Hall Protests Over 2012 Budget Proposal

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ABOUT THE GRASSROOTS COLLABORATIVE

Community and labor groups present are organized by the Grassroots Collaborative, a coalition that forced Mayor Daley to use his first and only veto with the Big Box Ordinance, which sought higher wages for workers employed by stores such as Walmart and Target. More recently, the Grassroots Collaborative organized the People's City Council Meeting held on July 7, 2011 that brought together 19 aldermen and 1,600 community leaders in support of a progressive city agenda.

Grassroots Collaborative is Action Now; American Friends Service Committee, Great Lakes Region; Bickerdike Redevelopment Corporation; Brighton Park Neighborhood Council; Chicago Coalition for the Homeless; Chicago Teachers Union; Enlace Chicago; Illinois Hunger Coalition; Service Employees International Union, Local 73; Service Employees International Union Healthcare Illinois Indiana; Southsiders Organized for Unity and Liberation.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:01 AM | Permalink

November 9, 2011

The Blue & Orange Kool-Aid Report: Earl Bennett And The McRib Are Back!

Ad-Vandy-ge Bears
Apparently Vanderbilt University can produce some decent athletes through its football program and not just the Intramural Sports squad, as we had all assumed. Thanks to a healthy chest and a corresponding dip in the price of industrial pork emulsion futures, Earl Bennett and the McRib are back!

As a fan of both third down conversions and as a guy who brushes his teeth with KC Masterpiece, I couldn't be happier.

Julius Peppers Doesn't Need His Own Knee Ligaments . . .
. . . because he uses the connective tissue of his opponents as a gluten free substitute for pasta*.

Julius Peppers Never Takes A Shower . . .
. . . because odor causing bacteria knows that his saliva is a disinfectant.

Julius Peppers On One Bad Leg Is Faster Than Michael Vick . . .
. . . because his balls alone are muscular enough to propel him forward at high speeds.

Out Like A Lamb
Lions lineman Ndamukong Suh recently met with league commissioner Roger Goodell to get a better feel for what it is about his unique style of play that refs find inappropriate within the context of an NFL football game.

Goodell told him to stop doing this, which cleared the whole misunderstanding right up.

Expect the Detroit line to be greatly subdued this week thanks to their renewed understanding of safe workplace practices and good sportsmanship.

More Than Meets The Eye
Calvin "Megatron" Johnson and the rest of the Decepticons visit Soldier Field on Sunday in search of delicious Energon Cubes; the source of power that the Decepticons both covet and are seemingly able to crap out of their chest. Much like Michael Bay, Lions coach Jim Schwartz can't seem to do anything but wave his arms around and make things explode, but who needs direction when you've got giant robots and good looking young people to march around in front of an audience of millions.

Kool-Aid (4 Out Of 5 Jim Mora Soundbites)
Long story short, this is a game with playoff implications. Who friggin' knew?

The Lions are loaded with talent, but it always seems like they're down 10 points in the first half. If the Bears can get a lead and keep the Detroit skill players five to 20 yards in front of them (the secondary got that backwards in Week 5), the Lions offense can be limited.

If the Bears don't win, I'll kick a puppy and punch a kitten. Just for you.

Bears 33, Lions 17

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*Because of the high price of eggs, the sinew and bone of Peppers' opponents are ground into the binding element of the McRib.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 3:25 PM | Permalink

The [Wednesday] Papers

"When advocates for the needy and vulnerable wanted to stave off budget cuts earlier this year, they fought for a change in tax laws that would save Illinois hundreds of millions of dollars," AP reports. "Six months later, state leaders are giving the idea serious consideration - as a way to pay for corporate tax breaks."

Here's my favorite part:

"The idea went nowhere in the spring largely because of opposition from business groups, which considered [the change] to be a tax increase. Lawmakers wanted nothing to do with anything labeled an increase so soon after raising income taxes. Now, however, they're on board with the idea."

Funny, that.

*

We coddle the rich and punish the poor. And you know what? The rich are soft as a result and the poor are tough. Who do you think would have a better chance of survival in a post-apocalyptic world?

*

"The 2012 budget passed by the state legislature and signed by Gov. Pat Quinn earlier this year cuts funding for homeless prevention services by 52 percent, eliminating $4.7 million for shelters, emergency housing and transportation," Megan Cottrell reports. "Homeless advocates are fighting for that funding to be restored, but neither party seems optimistic about that happening.

"Numbers from the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless indicate that more people were turned away from homeless services last year than were taken in. That's 45,673 turn-aways compared with 40,542 intakes."

Maybe the homeless should occupy the lobbies of Boeing, Groupon, Navistar, Chrysler and other beneficiaries of the corporate safety net.

"[I]n two years in office Mr. Quinn has doled out corporate welfare to at least 80 firms, costing the state nearly $500 million," the Wall Street Journal noted recently (citing a Tribune report).

But there's not enough money for homeless shelters. Occupy Quaker Oats; maybe there's food there, too. Better yet: Jewel.

"The TIF program was designed to eradicate blight, add jobs and spur economic growth. It supports public and private sector projects including infrastructure, parks, schools and corporate subsidies," the Chicago News Cooperative recently reported. "Of the $1.2 billion designated for private sector projects since 2000, nearly half was earmarked for some of the area's most profitable corporations. City officials approved financing for Quaker Oats, CareerBuilder, UPS, Target and Jewel-Osco, among others."

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It ain't getting better, either.

"A little more than 46 percent of all single-family homes with a mortgage in the Chicago area were underwater in the year's third quarter, far more than the nation as a whole," the Tribune reports.

"The percentage of homes in the Chicago area with negative equity, meaning more is owed on the mortgage than the value of the underlying property, rose 9 percent from the second quarter, according to a report scheduled to be released Tuesday by real estate website Zillow."

*

Meanwhile:

Revamped Gambling Expansion Passes Illinois House Panel

Vs.

Lotto Sales Up In Poorer Areas.

*

And then there's the fierce urgency of now.

Vs.

A Plea To Save Our Mental Health Centers From Rahm's Rampage.

City Honors Bill Kurtis . . .
. . . For His Service To Official Sources.

Remembering Heavy D In Chicago
At The Shrine in 2009.

Lonely Bear In Chicago
Kilroy proves it was here.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Heavy.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:41 AM | Permalink

Lonely Bear In Chicago

This bear was here.


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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:06 AM | Permalink

A Plea To Save Our Mental Health Centers From Rahm's Rampage

Dear Citizens of the City of Chicago:

Pending City Council approval, Mayor Emanuel is about to consolidate twelve Mental Health Centers into six, and it also appears that that's only Phase One of a plan to privatize a little later. This is a shortsighted decision which will deprive the citizens of the City of Chicago of the health, safety, and educational benefits that could be derived from a reorganized and well-managed City of Chicago mental health system.

It has already been pointed out by mental health advocates within and outside our system that mental health services can effectively reduce medical and legal costs, help public school students achieve their maximum potential, and improve the overall quality of life of the communities of the City of Chicago. There is plenty of research data that supports these assertions, and a major urban public health department ignoring it isn't intelligently understanding "Preventive Care" and aspiring to "healthiest city in America."

The previous administration tried to downsize our mental health system because it lacked the competence to effectively reorganize and preserve the system. In fact, the former administration could not even handle something as basic as billing for services rendered. The software was flawed, (and the procurement process itself was eventually called into question). Despite a clear and timely warning by the State of Illinois that the CDPH billing system was not working, the administration could not create an alternative method of billing for services while the bugs in the flawed Cerner computerized chart system were being removed. It is extremely demoralizing to have millions of dollars lost as a consequence of managerial incompetence.

The current administration (while emphasizing performance metrics and productivity-standards) was unable to spend money that was in the budget to partially alleviate a psychiatric shortage that was rippling through system productivity and "kicking the can down the road" onto other budgets - particularly Cook County's Emergency Room at Stroger (not just for emergencies but even for routine prescription refills), the Chicago Police Department (not only for occasional crimes but also for psychiatric crises, emergencies, and serious risk-factors) and Chicago Fire Department (for paramedics).

Generally speaking mental health centers have continued to be inadequately staffed and poorly organized, fostering the very difficulties now used to justify privatization. Upper Management treats mental health staff in a dismissive, almost disdainful, manner. Information is tightly controlled and only flows downstream. The concerns of clinicians and directors have been minimized or ignored. Some poorly maintained buildings have threatened the health of the CDPH employees and consumers. How ironic is it for the CDPH to neglect the health concerns of their own employees and the consumers they serve, while City Government implements a tax on employees who opt out of their new wellness program.

It is important to note that the viability and ultimate survival of the so-called "privatization partners" (the agencies who would replace some of the services currently provided by City clinics) depend upon an inflow of government funds that is unreliable given the horrible economic condition of the United States as a consequence of the outsourcing of American jobs and the unregulated financial environment that produced the housing bubble and subsequent bust. If these "privatization partners" lose their funding who will then take care of Chicago's mental health needs?

Moreover, mental health clinicians and directors, in their capacity as public health employees, have been assigned to work in triage centers in the event of a bioterrorism attack or some other dangerous contagious disease outbreak. Mental health clinicians are uniquely qualified to treat hysteria and other manifestations of emotional dysregulation that would predictably accompany such an event. All personnel assigned to these centers will be risking their health and their lives. Who will perform this important public safety service if our clinics are privatized?

Mayor Emanuel appears to be a staunch supporter of outsourcing and privatization, despite all of the negative consequences that are now glaringly apparent. He also appears to feel that the respectable middle-class wages and benefits provided to City employees are unjustified. The expression of these ideas by the Mayor and other privatization advocates leads to the promotion of divisive envy concerning these middle-class wages and benefits which have systematically been taken away from private sector employees.

No one can argue that the "privatization partners" can provide cheaper services than City clinics because their employees receive relatively low wages and almost no benefits. This is analogous to the argument that since corporations and their stockholders can make greater profits using $10/day labor in China or Mexico, the outsourcing of jobs is a necessity. The tragic results of this logic are becoming all to clear to the American taxpayers.

The mayor's recent assertion that the City is in the business of public health, not the provision of services, suggests that the mayor is unaware or does not appreciate the creative ways that mental health personnel could partner with our epidemiologists, our police department, our department of human services, our public schools and our religious institutions in order to substantively improve the quality of life for the citizens of our city.

Before privatizing a mental health system that has been in place for decades, CDPH administrators who have responsibility for mental health and lack the experience and knowledge to effectively reorganize and promote our system should be removed and replaced by individuals who understand mental health and the tremendous potential of our system. In the private sector it is customary to make managerial changes before you go out of business.

Hopefully the collective voices of our mental health staff, our consumers, our union, our communities and our elected officials will halt this unnecessary destruction of a system that has faithfully served our City and can continue to do so. In furtherance of this goal, we suggest the following steps be taken before a privatization option is given serious consideration.

1. A team of consultants, acceptable to mental health employees, consumers, the union, and the CDPH administration, be hired to assess the current deficiencies, current strengths, and potential value of a well-managed, well-integrated CDPH mental health system.

2. After the issuance of the consultants' report, there will be a public discussion of the merits of preserving our system. Citizens/taxpayers of the City of Chicago are entitled to an "informed consent" understanding of what is at stake if our system is dissolved and the privatization option exercised.

Sincerely,

Friends of the MHCs

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See also:
* Dear Rahm: Save Our Mental Health Clinics
* Rahm Not Tough Enough To Face Mental Health Advocates
* Community Declares City Hall A Budget Crime Scene

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:33 AM | Permalink

City Honors Bill Kurtis For His Service To Official Sources

Monday was Bill Kurtis Day in Chicago. I don't see what's so great about Bill Kurtis; just the other day he was chatting on the air with "reporter" Jay Levine and co-anchor Walter Jacobson about how Rahm Emanuel's budget was a "win" for the people of Chicago. That's great journalism?

Time and again I've seen this kind of nonsense coming from the unfrozen dynamic duo manning the Channel 2 news desk. It's sickening, but then again this is a town with a journalism association that recently honored Stella Foster with a lifetime achievement award.

Kurtis, of course, is really a spokesman for Corporate America and a shill for pols staging groundbreakings, not a journalist.

As I wrote in July 2010, Kurtis has been City Hall's official emcee for years

No wonder they gave him a day.

From the Beachwood Vault:

* From September 29, 2011:

Bill Kurtis Keynoter for Meat Industry Hall of Fame Ceremony.

Stick around for the meet-and-greet with lobbyists and then an evening Q&A on media ethics.

* From January 21, 2011:

Bill Kurtis last night on Emanuel's fundraising: "I suppose it's impossible to know where the money came from."

Bill Kurtis, everybody.

* From October 22, 2011:

Bill Kurtis and bananas, WTF?

WTF's ears perked up this week. It sure sounded like him.

But what siren song could have brought Bill Kurtis, the Ancient Journalism Mariner, out of the comfy harbor of voiceover checks for one more voyage? Busting crime syndicates? Uncovering political corruption? Nah. Turns out Kurtis' duty Tuesday night was another of his specialties, a voiceover promo for a hard-hitting piece on why eating bananas in the morning can dampen your mood. They didn't even let him do the actual banana story. Just the cutaway promotion.

And the piece itself? Another indication that a TV franchise's long-term death spiral is not totally a function of which pretty face sits behind a desk and reads the teleprompter. Sometimes what's on the station stops viewers from watching.

This particular piece suggested we avoid carbs and eat fresh fruit, eggs and peanut butter for breakfast. Also, be sure to avoid turkey at breakfast because that tryptophan can make you really drowsy [Editor's Note: NOT]. Plus when you eat too much turkey, you wake up in the middle of a Lions-Cowboys game on Thanksgiving afternoon.

WTF, breakfast is your most important meal.

And somewhere far away where only the angels could hear, Murrow whimpered and asked, "What the EF?"

* From July 30, 2010:

Sorry for not being excited about the return of Bill Kurtis and Walter Jacobson to the Channel 2 anchor desk, but neither has any rightful place in a newsroom anymore. From the Trib last December:

"Dignitaries at an announcement today for the new French Market at the Ogilvie Transportation Center were treated to a bit of political theater featuring a deep-voiced announcer, heckler and a mayor irked at some aldermen.

"It all began with Chicago TV legend Bill Kurtis, mustering his best baritone voice to introduce Mayor Richard Daley: 'The king of public-private partnerships, who of course makes all this possible. . . . Ladies and gentlemen, with a tip of the hat today to Paris, let's give a big Chicago welcome to, how we say, the greatest mayor in the greatest city in the world, Mayor Richard Daley!'"

How is this acceptable, Channel 2?

And it's not as if the French Market is an innocuous project.

"In the case of the market, the City Council, at Daley's urging, voted in 2006 to spend a total of $12 million in taxpayer money on construction of a new shopping area in the Ogilvie Transportation Center; $8 million of that sum went to the French Market," the Reader reported. "The project happens to be headed by a well-to-do, politically connected developer who's contributed thousands of dollars to the mayor's campaign coffers. And the city plans to spend another $23 million in the River West TIF district through 2011.

"By contrast Roseland, one of the poorest neighborhoods in town, will get just $5 million to spend through 2011."

The greatest mayor in the world also showed his petty, tyrannical side that day when Kurtis endorsed him.

"The mayor then lashed out at the dozen aldermen who dared to oppose his budget on the ground that Daley was draining the $1.15 billion windfall generated by the sale of Chicago parking meters to a private company," the Sun-Times reported.

"I really appreciate those 38 aldermen who stood with me and the taxpayers of Chicago. The other ones are not gonna convince me to raise taxes or raise fees," Daley said.

"Not one of 'em gave me one amendment to cut basic services or . . . raise taxes . . . If you voted 'no,' then be proud. And I'll debate any of 'em any time.''

Of course, that's simply not true. I was in the city council chambers when Ald. Tom Allen, for one, offered an array of budget alternatives. As for debating any of 'em any time, we'll see how that plays out if any of the council members rumored to be looking at a mayoral run go through with it - Daley has refused to debate his campaign opponents for 20 years.

Kurtis has been City Hall's official emcee for years. When I wrote about McCormick Place for Chicago magazine in 2004, Kurtis was championing an $850 million expansion there.

In January, Kurtis said he represented "an extension of the FBI in the media" while accepting an award from the very same.

And according to his speakers bureau, he is a board member of "several distinguished organizations including The Nature Conservancy, the National Park Foundation, Chicago Green City Market, Chicago Botanic Garden, and the Field Museum of Chicago."

Of course, he's also a shill for AT&T. (And Mass Mutual.)

What does he do on the night AT&T executives are indicted and the Field Museum is embroiled in scandal?

As for Jacobson, in April he complained about media's coverage of U.S. Senate candidate Alexi Giannoulias. "Too much on the Giannoulias family bank," Jacobson said. "It's not news."

What?!

Jacobson went on to claim that Giannoulias had "a pretty good record" as a state Treasurer still in his first term, but offered no such endorsement of Mark Kirk's nine years as a U.S. congressman.

I know these guys are gonna just be reading the news, but maybe the smart move for Channel 2 would be to start reporting some.

* From December 4, 2009:

Bill Kurtis should never anchor the news again.

Thank you, Bill, for your "immeasurable contributions."

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Comments welcome.


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 5:32 AM | Permalink

Remembering Heavy D in Chicago

"Heavy D, the self-proclaimed 'overweight lover' of hip-hop who became one of rap's top hit-makers with wit, humor and a positive vibe, has died," AP reports. "He was 44. Lt. Mark Rosen of the Beverly Hills police said Heavy D died in a Los Angeles hospital Tuesday after collapsing outside his home."

*

"The last tweet from Heavy D, who frequently filled his timeline with positivity, was posted Tuesday morning and read, 'BE INSPIRED!'"

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"Combined with the fusion of the 'New Jack Swing' musical style, Heavy D was a constant presence on the charts, and also a go-to figure for several performers. He collaborated with such artists as Michael Jackson on the 1991 single 'Jam' and the 1997 duet 'Keep It Coming' with B.B. King."

*

"He most recently had a cameo appearance in the new movie Tower Heist, starring Eddie Murphy and Ben Stiller."

*

Heavy D and the Roots at The Shrine in Chicago in September 2009.


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Heavy D Remembers Joe Frazier In Final Tweets.

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The Hip-Hop Community Reacts.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 5:15 AM | Permalink

November 8, 2011

The [Tuesday] Papers

"The kids at Taft Elementary School in Lockport enjoy small class sizes and a strong basic curriculum, but the school offers no arts, language or technology classes, and the building's heating system hasn't been upgraded since 1959," the Tribune reports.

"Rondout Elementary School, near Lake Forest, offers Spanish in every grade, beginning with kindergarten. Most students are issued laptops, and they can join the band or chorus and study art, drama or dance.

"The schools are both in the Chicago area, but they're miles apart in funding because of the state's heavy reliance on property taxes to finance education. Taft spent $7,023 in operating costs per student in 2010, while Rondout spent more than three times that much - a whopping $24,244 - for each child."

Which school would you rather send your kid to? Then don't say money doesn't matter.

"The spending data, released last week as part of the state's annual School Report Card, comes as no surprise to Illinois activists who have complained for decades about inequities in educational funding but found no easy solution. In fact, a Tribune data analysis found the gap in spending between rich and poor districts is no narrower than it was 10 years ago.

"In both 2002 and 2011, the 10 poorest schools on average spent 30 percent of what the 10 richest schools spent on average to educate each student, according to the analysis."

School "reform" comes and goes; buzzwords and silver bullets and tough talk and the blame-game. But the problem with bad schools isn't teachers or standards or lack of uniforms or school days that aren't long enough; it's the inequity of resources that leaves so many Chicago classrooms with a fraction of the resources that Rahm Emanuel's children will get at their fancy private school. The elite make sure their kids don't lose their class status regardless of their innate abilities or work ethic. And all that does is bake in the inequities that pols like Rahm pretend to care so passionately about.

And as long as inequity is finally on the table - thanks, Occupiers! - let's face the fact that it starts long before kids arrive on school property. Poor kids are already woefully "behind" by the time they show up for their first class. If you want to solve our education problems, you have to start with our economic model.

"Ralph Martire, executive director for the Center for Tax and Budget Accountability, calls Illinois' education funding system 'structurally racist,' and he disagrees with those who argue that throwing more money at the problem will not fix it.

"'All the data show that if you want equal academic outcomes for children who grow up in poverty, you have to spend more' on food programs, extended school days and other services, said Martire, who is based in Chicago but serves on the federal Commission on Educational Excellence and Equity."

If money didn't matter, our mayor wouldn't be sending his kids to a school that charges $21,000 a year for kindergarten instead of to a public school for which tuition has already been deducted from his property taxes.

Too bad the vast majority of kids under the mayor's authority don't have that same educational opportunity.

*

Meanwhile: CME, Sears Tax Break Package Expands

*

And: Police Issue Citations To 43 Occupy Chicago Protesters

Rahm's Secret Government
"Mayor Rahm Emanuel has made it easier for the public to see who pays City Hall lobbyists, how much every city worker earns and where crime waves have rippled through Chicago neighborhoods," the Tribune reports.

"It's Emanuel's way of keeping his promise to create 'the most open, accountable and transparent government that the city of Chicago has ever seen.'

"But efforts to peer into the daily operations of the mayor himself - a man with enormous say over hundreds of millions of dollars in city contracts, hiring and regulations - are met by a stone wall.

"The mayor refused Tribune requests for his emails, government cellphone bills and his interoffice communications with top aides, arguing it would be too much work to cross out information the government is allowed to keep private. After lengthy negotiations to narrow its request for two months of these records, the newspaper was told that almost all of the emails had been deleted."

As I've written before, I was stunned when I arrived in Chicago as a reporter 20 years ago to find that, unlike other cities and states where I had worked, the Freedom of Information laws here were routinely ignored by government officials. And the local media was - and remains - partly to blame for enabling (in all sorts of ways) what is in effect treasonous behavior. It's not like this everywhere. Finally the media may be realizing it.

"Emanuel's response is in keeping with that of his predecessor, Richard M. Daley, who repeatedly denied similar requests under the state's Freedom of Information Act. But it's not the practice in major cities across the nation.

"A Tribune survey found such records are routinely available - in many cases with a phone call or an e-mail request - in Atlanta, Boston, Hartford, Houston, Miami, Milwaukee, Phoenix and Seattle."

A former editor of mine in Florida told me a few years ago that his City Hall reporter was automatically cc'ed on all of the mayor's e-mail. It's called democracy, which is still a foreign concept in the city that now also stocks so much of the White House.

"City officials routinely invoke the legal right to a two-week extension to comply with records requests, only to reject them. Weeks of negotiations may follow. Like the game Battleship where players try to guess the location of hidden ships, officials frequently ask that requests be narrowed and then respond that such records don't exist. In the end those seeking records are often left with only one option - a potentially expensive and drawn-out legal fight."

That's exactly right, and it's infuriating. And then you get people like Chris Mather.

"Of course it is possible to get records out of the mayor's office," Emanuel's communications director, Chris Mather, told the Tribune. "The problem here is not with the mayor's office, but with your request."

Why do you hate democracy so much, Chris? Is it your taxpayer-funded $162,492 annual salary that bought your soul?

"Ann Spillane, chief of staff to Attorney General Lisa Madigan, whose office works to resolve public records disputes, said cellphone bills are public, as well as email strings.

"'I don't know anything about the records retention policy at the city of Chicago,' she said. 'But they cannot simply by virtue of the way they handle public records, make a claim that it is unduly burdensome to provide them.'"

Now there's a new marching slogan: Democracy is not unduly burdensome. This, on the other hand, is what democracy looks like:

"In Phoenix, all emails to and from the mayor and City Council are automatically directed to the city clerk's office, where they are viewable on a public computer terminal.

"In Seattle, the details of every closed police internal affairs case are posted online. In Hartford, all the numbers on the mayor's cellphone bill are of public record.

"In Boston, city officials in 2009 posted online some 11,000 emails from a city official following a Boston Globe public records request that revealed the official had been deleting his emails against state records laws."

A lot of data geeks are thrilled by Rahm's "transparency" efforts but they're missing the point: government-approved data is not the same as the real transparency of fulfilling valid requests for public records by journalists and other citizens. It's one thing to find out the sketchiest details about a random crime that happened recently near your block; it's another to find out how the redeployment of officers in your district or a funding decision at City Hall led to that crime going unsolved. Data is the lowest form of information; it takes journalism to turn it into something useful.

RIP Flattus Maximus
Cory Smoot of GWAR played in Chicago and Minneapolis before he was found dead on the band's tour bus as it entered Canada. Take a look at highlights from his last show here.

Meet Jason Shaver
The voice of the Chicago Wolves is the grandson of the legendary voice of the Minnesota North Stars.

Crime Scene At City Hall
Sherlock Holmes to investigate.

Bears Make Eagles Feel Bad
Lions up next.

QBs On The Run
A revival afoot?

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The Beachwood Tip Line: An open book.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 11:36 AM | Permalink

Community Declares City Hall a Budget Crime Scene

From The Grassroots Collaborative:

WHAT: Community residents decry Mayor Emanuel's proposal to keep hundreds of millions of taxpayers' TIF money out of the budget discussion at a time when he's cutting libraries and closing mental health clinics, police stations, and potentially a dozen community schools.

Mayor Emanuel's budget declares a 20% TIF surplus of $60 million, but leaves $240 million in the slush fund. The 99% deserves more than just 20%. The mayor protects corporate subsidies at the expense of Chicago's families.

WHY: On Nov 9th, the City Council will debate key measures of the budget and vote on amendments. Community organizations want aldermen to do what is right and make sure taxpayers' money comes back to serve taxpayers. Organizations support aldermen asking to return 40% of TIF surplus to local taxing bodies and progress towards the Responsible Budget Ordinance goal introduced in October that calls for a 50% TIF surplus.

WHEN: Wednesday, November 9th, 2011 - 9:30 a.m.

WHERE: Outside City Hall, 121 N. LaSalle St.

WHO: Grassroots Collaborative and ally organizations

VISUALS: An estimated crowd of 90 people carrying crime scene tape in front of City Hall on LaSalle Street; a costumed Sherlock Holmes conducting an investigation; and a 3-foot tall Willis Tower with dollar signs for an antenna.

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Grassroots Collaborative is a coalition of community and labor organizations working towards the interests of all our constituents. Our member organizations represent over 100,000 residents throughout Illinois. Together, we organize for change that makes life better for working families.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 11:06 AM | Permalink

The Bears Made The Eagles Feel Bad

First the highlights. Then the Philly locker room.

1. Must be the shoes.


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2. Out-schemed.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:51 AM | Permalink

Fantasy Fix: QBs On The Run

I feel like I've been writing a lot lately about quarterbacks, but can you blame me? It's been a banner year for QBs so far, with Drew Brees threatening to break his own single-season passing yardage record and Aaron Rodgers hovering around the pace of the single-season touchdown pass record (Tom Brady's 50 in 2007).

Aside from a slew of great QB performances this year, we are also seeing the acceleration of a recent interesting trend: The running QB. The resurgence of Michael Vick, since last year, along with the arrival of Cam Newton and Tim Tebow points to a running revival of sorts among field generals (Rodgers, too, was an early harbinger, though with his arm working so effectively this year, he is way off his usual pace for rushing yards.)

If all QBs keep their present rushing pace, Vick could finishing with almost 900 yards rushing, and Newton and Tebow could easily clear 600. Last season, Vick led all QBs with 676 yards rushing, and no one else even surpassed 300. Newton already has seven rushing TDs this year with half a season left; Vick led the position last year with nine.

This is a big deal in fantasy football, as Tebow demonstrated again last week, adding at least 11 fantasy points to his total (more in leagues with bonus points) by rushing for 118 yards. His passing stats: 124 yards, 2 TDs, 0 INTs. The latter is good for about 18 points in most Yahoo! leagues - nice, but pedestrian for a QB. The 29-point total, however, made him the third-highest fantasy scorer among QBs. (One of the key things to remember here is that 100 yards rushing in most leagues is 10 points, while 100 yards passing is usually more like four or five points.)

It will be interesting to see if other NFL teams pick up on the trend. With Northwestern's Mike Kafka and Vince Young, Philly is currently cornering the market on thoroughbred QBs. In Minnesota, Christian Ponder has shown early potential to run effectively, and the Vikings also have Joe Webb. Miami, which led the re-introduction of wildcat formation to the NFL a few years ago, has decent running QBs in Chad Henne, now on IR, and Matt Moore.

If some of this talent gets spread around the league, along with the potential arrival over the next few years of University of Michigan's Denard Robinson and even Northern Illinois University's Chandler Harnish, running QBs could become a hot commodity in future fantasy drafts.

Expert Wire
* Yahoo! Scouting Notebook plays devil's advocate to my big theory, arguing Tebow is nothing more than a short-term gimmick.

* NFL Soup likes Ponder, along with pocket QB Carson Palmer, now with the Raiders.

* Fantasy Knuckleheads reports that Cowboys WR Miles Austin is hobbled again.

* Bleacher Report likes Redskins RB Roy Helu as Mike Shanahan's Flavor of the Week.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:38 AM | Permalink

Meet Jason Shaver: Voice Of The Chicago Wolves

I grew up in Minnesota listening to Al Shaver broadcast North Stars games. Now his grandson, Jason, is in his third season doing play-by-play for the Chicago Wolves. Here's a little profile put together by the team.


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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:22 AM | Permalink

Remembering GWAR's Flattus Maximus: Cory Smoot's Last Show In Chicago

GWAR guitarist Cory Smoot (aka Flattus Maxiumus) was found dead on the band's tour bus last week as they were gathering passports upon crossing into Canada on their way to a show in Edmonton. They had just played a show at First Avenue in Minneapolis and, before that, in Chicago on Halloween at the House of Blues.

"Just the other day I heard Cory tell a story about how some 20 years ago he was fourteen years old, at his first GWAR show, grabbing at the rubber feet of our then-current Flattus, and how blown away he was at the fact that now HE was the one getting his feet pulled by the same kid that he used to be," GWAR founder and lead singer Dave Brockie said in a statement posted to the band's website.

Here is a report on Smoot's death from the Artisan News Service, followed by video highlights of GWAR's House of Blues show - the last time Flattus Maximus will have played in Chicago. (Thanks to YouTube uploaders jdavidson091, KannibalKenny and piamuk.)

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1. From the Artisan News Service:


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2. Sick of You.

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3. Maggots.

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4. Goodnight, Snooki.

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5. The movie version of "Lulu" directed by Lars Ulrich.

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6. Vampires are giving queers a bad name.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:45 AM | Permalink

November 7, 2011

The [Monday] Papers

"The largest banks are larger than they were when Obama took office and are nearing the level of profits they were making before the depths of the financial crisis in 2008, according to government data," the Washington Post reports.

"Wall Street firms - independent companies and the securities-trading arms of banks - are doing even better. They earned more in the first 2 1/2 years of the Obama administration than they did during the eight years of the George W. Bush administration."

The time for blaming Bush is long past, too. Obama has owned this from the start.

"There's a very popular conception out there that the bailout was done with a tremendous amount of firepower and focus on saving the largest Wall Street institutions but with very little regard for Main Street," said Neil Barofsky, the former federal watchdog for the Troubled Assets Relief Program, or TARP, the $700 billion fund used to bail out banks. "That's actually a very accurate description of what happened."

Why else does Obama own this?

"[Austan] Goolsbee, the former chairman of President Barack Obama's Council of Economic Advisers, said the administration misjudged how quickly the country could recover from the economic damage of the 2008 economic collapse."

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What does Obama have to say about this?

"I believe all the choices we've made have been the right ones."

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What does David Plouffe have to say?

"Americans want leaders who will be fair and insist on accountability on Wall Street. But Republicans, including all of their presidential candidates, have essentially said, 'Let's give Wall Street a blank check.'"

Obama, on the other hand, is getting blank checks from Wall Street.

"He has courted financial executives for campaign donations, including inviting them to a campaign gathering at the White House. He has attracted more money for his campaign and for the Democratic National Committee from financial firm employees than all of the GOP candidates combined - a total of $15.6 million. "

And about the fairness and accountability Plouffe speaks of:

"Banks also have benefited from the large increase during the recession in unemployment insurance. Increasingly, banks offer debit cards to the unemployed to collect their government benefits. These debit cards carry a range of fees that bolster banks' bottom lines.

"What's more, states - with their budgets shattered by the financial crisis and recession - have increasingly been moving to enroll new employees into Wall Street-run retirement accounts rather than government pension programs. That's potentially more lucrative for Wall Street, which can charge fees for managing the savings of individual retirees."

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"In New York City, the average Wall Street salary last year grew 16.1 percent."

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See also: The Weekend in Occupy Chicago.

Keystone Light
Keystone Pipeline Decision Could Be Delayed Until After Election.

"On Sunday, thousands of onetime Obama supporters, including donors, environmentalists, campaign volunteers and at least one former White House staff member, formed a human chain around the White House to highlight the growing opposition to granting Keystone XL a permit."

How To Become A Judge
"I have been a loyal Democrat. I voted in each of the Democratic primaries last 20 years. I helped the Speaker [Madigan] out on a number of elections in the south suburbs, same thing for [former state senate president] Sen. Emil Jones. When the Democratic Party wanted somebody to go down and testify in Springfield, I did that. When they needed help writing legislation, I did that."

He got slated.

Introducing Reform Chicago
Chicago's First Dynamic Reformer Pilates Studio.

The Weekend in Chicago Rock
You shoulda been there.

This Will Only Be A Test
In the event of a real emergency, for godsakes don't depend on Comcast.

They're Saying "Boooackhawks!"
All downhill after the anthem.

Should The Bears Really Be An 8-Point Underdog?
Maybe 10 is more like it!

Programming Note:
I'm back behind the bar tonight at the venerable Beachwood Inn. Stop in to watch the Bears, drink some Bell's, shoot some stick and plug the jukebox. 5p - 2a.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Paint it black.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:02 AM | Permalink

This Will Only Be A Test

Dear Comcast Customer:

On Wednesday, November 9 at 2 p.m. (Eastern Standard Time), FEMA and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) will conduct the nation's first ever Emergency Alert System (EAS) test. The purpose of this test is to help determine if the national-level system will work as designed, should officials ever need to send a national alert.

This test will last approximately three minutes and will be seen on all local, cable, and satellite TV stations across the country, as well as radio.

Here's What You Should Know

Your Comcast programming will be temporarily interrupted. However, as soon as the test ends, you will be returned to your regularly scheduled programming. While we do not anticipate an interruption in your service, in some rare cases, you may need to:

* Use your remote to channel up and then channel down or power down your box to fully restore programming after the test completes.

* Any DVR recordings that are in progress during this test will be interrupted, and in some cases, lost.

If you experience the Emergency Alert System message for more than five minutes, please do the following:

* Power-cycle your cable box by unplugging the power cord from the outlet

* Wait thirty seconds and then plug it back in

The guide data and Video On Demand content will take a period of time to fully restore. Please wait 20 minutes before choosing Video On Demand as this might result in other errors with your box. To watch a video and learn more on how to Power-cycle, CLICK HERE.

To learn more about the national EAS test, visit us at: http://www.comcast.com/nationaleastest/ or visit FEMA at http://www.fema.gov/emergency/ipaws/eas_info.shtm or the FCC at http://www.fcc.gov/encyclopedia/emergency-alert-system-nationwide-test.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:37 AM | Permalink

Should The Bears Really Be An 8-Point Underdog?

On the other hand, can they hang with that Philly offense?


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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:28 AM | Permalink

SportsMonday: They're Saying "Booackhawks"

The tricky part of the Blackhawk game experience is that if they don't play well, the fact that the whole thing peaks before it starts is even more glaring. Jim Cornelison belts out the anthem as the crowd cheers and veterans are honored and everyone is fired up for several minutes before the first puck is even dropped.

Even in the best of circumstances, the actual game is a bit of a come-down. But Sunday's contest, a 6-2 setback, was especially so. Coming in, the archrival Vancouver Canucks had lost two in a row and were determined not to make it three.

Right from the beginning, they had the jump on the Hawks, who were playing their third game in four nights, and they took the lead with a power-play goal six minutes in. Goalie Corey Crawford kept his team in it during the first period, making 15 big saves (the post added one) and eventually Michael Frolik's flukey goal on a fluttering shot from well out near the boards and the blue line tied the score at one.

The level of excitement at the UC skyrocketed back to "anthem" after that one. Folks were certainly happy the Hawks had evened the score, but they were even more excited they had done so with a soft goal against the Canuck's Roberto Luongo.

A sizable segment of hockey fans love to give opposing goalies a hard time - in as profane a fashion as possible. I was more than a little surprised when I first covered high school hockey games 15 years ago - games that are often played late at night because that's when the ice time is cheapest - at the level of vitriol directed at opposing goalies virtually throughout.

It usually starts with fans slowly repeating an elongated version of the player between the pipes' last name ("Lu-onnn-go") until they cap it off with a robust "You suck!" And it's downhill from there.

What is possible at a small rink where high school games are played is more difficult at the cavernous United Center. But one thing that works beautifully even in the biggest sports settings is communicating disdain or affection for a player with "Lou" in his name. When Tiger fans were cheering all-time great second baseman Lou Whitaker, announcers famously reminded fans "They're not saying 'Boo,' they're saying . . . " you know the rest.

For at least 10 minutes after Frolik's goal, fans were bellowing "Lu" and "Boo" in unison every time the puck slid anywhere near the goaltender and loving every second of it. The Hawks had the chance to take advantage of a vulnerable netminder; heck, I think some of the fans could actually sense a scent of blood emanating from the frozen water below.

But the moment passed. The Hawks struggled to generate any especially good scoring chances during the first half of the game. The Canucks took a 3-1 lead midway through the second period, young Hawk Marcus Kruger chipped in a beautiful back-hand rebound to make it 3-2 and give the faithful hope . . . until Jannik Hansen scored the Canucks' only even-strength goal of the evening to stretch the lead back to two all of 43 seconds later. That was the killer.

Luongo is the goalie who back-stopped Canada's gold medal Olympic run in 2010 and he has had plenty of success. But he still tends to fall into slumps (like in the final two games of the Stanley Cup finals last year, when the Canucks blew a 3-2 series lead and lost in seven to Boston), and when he is struggling, he isn't shy about it.

During the finals last year, he made the curious assertion that because he had said lots of nice things about Bruin goalie Tim Thomas, Thomas was obliged to say more nice things about Luongo. Not surprisingly, that didn't happen. Thomas stayed focused on on-ice matters and eventually became the playoff MVP. One would think that Luongo's fragile psyche would have at least relegated him to backup status by now but when the guy is good, he is very good. On Sunday, he eventually stopped 38 of 40 Hawk shots.

As for the rest of the game, a huge highlight happened in the middle of the first period, when the Hawks actually killed Daniel Carcillo's high-sticking penalty. Usually a penalty kill isn't quite such a big deal but given that the Hawks couldn't manage it again despite putting Vancouver on the power play four more times made this one special.

Meanwhile, the Hawks went 0-for-5 on their own power play. The absence of frequent point-man Duncan Keith (out with an injured hand) certainly didn't help but the Canucks were skating without talented defenseman Sami Salo and ultra-pest Alex Burrows (who is also, it must be said, a skilled forward).

It was only one result but it is tough not to attach more than a little extra significance to one bad game against the team that knocked you out of the playoffs the year before and with whom you have built up plenty of bad blood over the past several seasons.

Then again, the Hawks exited the game with an 8-3-3 overall mark, good for first in their division. Earlier in the week, they completed a mini-road trip in which they took three of a possible four points from the Florida Panthers and Tampa Bay Lightning. And after a few more road games in the middle of the coming week, another home game with all its glorious pomp and circumstance is scheduled for Friday at 7:30 versus the Calgary Flames.

Maybe next time the game will live up to the pre-game glitz.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:09 AM | Permalink

The Weekend in Chicago Rock

You shoulda been there.

1. The Civil Wars at the Vic on Sunday night.

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2. Electric Six at the Double Door on Friday night.

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3. Anything Box at the Congress on Saturday night.

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4. Chickenfoot at the Metro on Saturday night.

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5. White Chapel at the House of Blues on Sunday night.

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6. Devil Wears Prada at the House of Blues on Sunday night.

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7. Never Say Never at the Riv on Saturday night.

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8. Blitzen Trapper at the Metro on Thursday night.

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9. SBTRKT at the Bottom Lounge on Friday night.

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10. A Rocket To The Moon at the Riv on Saturday night.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:23 AM | Permalink

The Weekend in Occupy Chicago

What democracy does and does not look like.

1. "The largest banks are larger than they were when Obama took office and are nearing the level of profits they were making before the depths of the financial crisis in 2008, according to government data," the Washington Post reports.

"Wall Street firms - independent companies and the securities-trading arms of banks - are doing even better. They earned more in the first 2 1/2 years of the Obama administration than they did during the eight years of the George W. Bush administration."

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"There's a very popular conception out there that the bailout was done with a tremendous amount of firepower and focus on saving the largest Wall Street institutions but with very little regard for Main Street," said Neil Barofsky, the former federal watchdog for the Troubled Assets Relief Program, or TARP, the $700 billion fund used to bail out banks. "That's actually a very accurate description of what happened."

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Jamie Dimon, former Chicagoan who is now the CEO of JPMorgan Chase, on Occupy protesters: "They're right."

2. Gerald Celente.

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3. Chicago's budget for the 1%.

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4. Chicago police confiscate Occupy Chicago's bottled water.

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5. JBTV Occupies Chicago.

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6. From the vault:

"Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) has been battling the banks the last few weeks in an effort to get 60 votes lined up for bankruptcy reform. He's losing.

"On Monday night in an interview with a radio host back home, he came to a stark conclusion: the banks own the Senate.

"And the banks - hard to believe in a time when we're facing a banking crisis that many of the banks created - are still the most powerful lobby on Capitol Hill. And they frankly own the place."

7. "As more than 1,500 supporters of the Occupy Chicago movement prepared to march through the Loop recently, Willie J. R. Fleming, a neighborhood organizer from the South Side, grabbed a bullhorn and wedged his way to the head of the mostly white crowd," the New York Times reports.

Mr. Fleming, who was followed by a group of blacks and Latinos that he said he had brought "from the 'hood," raised the bullhorn into the mild late-October night and shouted, "This is what democracy looks like!"

"I made sure we were up there," he said, "because I wanted the media to see that people of color were represented in the march and the movement. I wanted to remove the tools of division."

For Mr. Fleming, co-founder of the Chicago Anti-Eviction Campaign, the Occupy movement is "heaven sent," partly because it has done something he and many of his black, white, Asian and Latino colleagues in the city's grass-roots organizing community have struggled to do over the years: focus public attention on poverty and rising economic inequality.

8. "Is the Obama campaign's plan for Occupy Chicago to just ignore it and pretend it doesn't exist?" Joe Macare writes in In These Times. "That seems remarkably naive.

"Then again, having attended General Assemblies and marches and spoken to members of the movement (full disclosure: my partner is on the Press Committee, and at this point I feel I'm edging towards being as much a participant as an observer), I can say with some authority that attempting to co-opt this particular local iteration of the movement isn't going to work.

"Occupy Chicago is highly aware and on the look-out for attempts to bring them into the fold, and fiercely resistant. Some (but not all) within the movement might welcome support from local, quote-unquote progressive Democrats like Representative Jan Schakowsky, but the presidential re-election campaign? It's not going to happen."

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:13 AM | Permalink

November 5, 2011

The Weekend Desk Report

After a wave of criticism we've decided the unincorporated sections of this Report won't have to be funny after all.

Market Update
Meet the new 9-9-9 Plan: 9% unemployment; nine days of scandal; and the 99 percent.

Meeting of the Minds
News broke this week that Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel summoned new Cubs President Theo Epstein for a little chat at City Hall. The result? All Cubs home games will now last half an inning longer.

Sticks and Stones
Native American groups have reacted angrily to Kris Jenner's use of the term "Indian giver" in reference to her daughter's engagement ring. After all, they point out the correct term for throwing a shitload of money at a hopeless cause is "Greek bailout".

Skyfall
Finally, we've got news for the producers of the latest James Bond film. Topical as their title may be, these stories usually wind up fizzling on reentry.

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The Weekend Desk Tip Line: Topical.

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Eno Collaborators Coldplay Have Gone No. 1: Does the record deserve it? On this weekend's Sound Opinions.

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The CAN TV Weekend Report
CAN TV brings you local, relevant issues from Chicago's neighborhoods and communities. See what's happening around the city in education, the arts, government, cultural events, social services and community activities.

Perspectivas Latinas: Universidad Popular

10-30-UnivPop.jpg

Abigail Wood Lizalde of Universidad Popular discusses its efforts to empower and engage community members through its participatory learning and other programs.

Saturday, November 5 at 7:30 p.m. on CAN TV21
30 min

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Cine Latino: Festival of Short Films

10-30-CineLatino.jpg

Presented by CAN TV and the International Latino Cultural Center of Chicago, Cine Latino features short films and animations from around the world that celebrate the diversity and themes of Latino cinema.

Saturday, November 5 at 8 p.m. on CAN TV21
1 hr

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Impact of Millennium Park On Chicago

10-30-MilleniumPark.jpg

Author Cheryl Kent and DePaul University real estate professor Susanne Cannon discuss the economic and socio-cultural impact of Millennium Park on the City of Chicago and its residents.

Sunday, November 6 at 9 a.m. on CAN TV21
1 hr

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Illinois Association of Hispanic State Employees: Legislative Forum

10-30-IHASE-Forum.jpg

Members of the Illinois Latino Legislative Caucus discuss the impact of laws on the Latino community and Latino employment in state government.

Sunday, November 6 at 10 a.m. on CAN TV21
2 hr

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How to Love: Your Decisions, Your Body, Your Life

10-30-HowToLove.jpg

Lovette Luvvie Ajayi, founder of the Red Pump Project, participates in a forum for teens discussing the HIV/AIDS epidemic and other sexually transmitted infections.

Sunday, November 6 at 2 p.m. on CAN TV21
1 hr 30 min

Posted by Natasha Julius at 11:31 AM | Permalink

November 4, 2011

The [Friday] Papers

1. "To convince smokers to 'go cold turkey' during the American Cancer Society's 36th Great American Smokeout, organizers are planning to utilize the real thing - frozen turkeys - for a bowling event Nov. 16 on the SIU Carbondale campus," the Southern reports.

It'll look a little bit like this:


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2. America's dads have a reminder for you.

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3. "Federal prosecutors say Tony Rezko deserves to spend up to 15 years in prison for his crimes in two separate cases and that he damaged his own credibility by lying to the court," the Sun-Times reports.

Remember when he had a crush on Obama?

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4. "While corporations get a cut in their head tax, poor Chicagoans will see the city services they rely on - health centers, child care, workforce development, mental health treatment, library services and the like - get smaller and, in some cases, disappear."

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5. "This summer, Mayor Rahm Emanuel talked his former boss, President Obama, into bringing two simultaneous meetings of the world's most powerful politicians and military leaders to Chicago for the annual G8 and NATO summits," the Chicago Journal reports.

"Now, as the pieces are falling into place for next May's event, the city and South Loop institutions are shuffling, adjusting and preparing for the crush of international dignitaries - and protestors - that are expected to descend upon the city."

It'll probably be something like this:

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6. The Week in Chicago Rock.

Sample:

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7. The American Autumn on RT.

Sample:

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8. The [Cellini] Papers.

Bonus:

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9. TrackNotes: America's Big Weekend.

Bonus:

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10. The Week in WTF.

They're not out of it yet.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Paint the town red.


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:51 AM | Permalink

The [Cellini] Papers

John Kass began his coverage of the Bill Cellini trial by stating that the media had largely given a pass to the Springfield power broker - known as the Pope of Illinois politics. He returned to the theme near the end of the trial by noting that the halls of the federal courtroom where Cellini was eventually convicted were pretty damn quiet compared to the circus of the Rod Blagojevich trial.

Is Kass right? Did the media fail to properly scrutinize Cellini all these years?

I've always thought so, but I took a look through the clips over the years anyway just to see exactly what the local press had reported about one of the most influential men in state government in our lifetimes.

I found Kass to be largely - but not wholly - right.

Is that a wishy-washy conclusion?

I hope not. Instead, I think it reflects the nature of covering elusive people of power whose behind-the-scenes manuevers are sly, nuanced and, well, behind-the-scenes.

The complaint - which I share - that Cellini wasn't properly covered is one that also often applies to pals of his like Michael Madigan and Ed Burke.

Now, if you look through the clips, you'll see tons written about both Madigan and Burke. But a pesky feeling persists that they've escaped the full weight of the media spotlight relative to their power and influence. And rightly so.

Maybe it has to do with the media impulse to do a big story here or there and then turn attention elsewhere, instead of applying sustained coverage to particular individuals.

Or maybe it has to do with the almost-impossible-to-penetrate veil each has been able to construct around much of their lives.

Each also has back-slapping pals in the media to help promote their good names.

In fact, one media pal of Cellini's may account for the failures of Kass's own paper to look closely not only at Cellini but at, just to name two in their day, Dan Rostenkowski and Don Stephens.

That pal is Dick Ciccone, who served as the Tribune's managing editor from 1982 to 1995. Ciccone, you see, is now Cellini's spokesman. How's that for instantly casting doubt on the Tribune's coverage when Ciccone was at the paper?

Ciccone was also paid at least $50,000 in campaign funds to produce a biography of Don Stephens, the allegedly mobbed-up mayor of Rosemont who has since died. Being a "reporter pal" (as one account once put it) of Rostenkowski didn't keep him from writing admiringly about an emblem of political hackery.

So there was Ciccone, I'm told, in the front row as the Cellini trial opened - sitting next to another integral figure with a historical penchant for positioning himself between pol and paper: Paul Lis.

(Tribune political reporter Rick Pearson once testified for Lis as a character witness at his DUI trial.)

In 1993, the late Steve Neal, who was himself a cocktail correspondent known by insiders to be vulnerable to the wiles of political operators, wrote:

"Lis is known for pulling strings at several state newspapers, including a Chicago morning paper that isn't a tabloid. He has sought compensation from legislators in exchange for delivering editorial board endorsements. Lis, who's a pretty fair golfer and a PGA tour groupie, also has boasted about setting up thousands of dollars in free golf at the better Chicago area courses for political correspondents. He has offered to lend money to media friends. He has threatened the careers of other journalists. Tribune Statehouse correspondents who had differences with Lis were transferred out of the bureau. The Trib's Statehouse reporter, a Lis sidekick, ignored Jacobs' criticism of Ryan."

In 1993, Neal wrote: "Lis has been enormously helpful to Cook County Board president Phelan in his dealings with Downstate reporters and in improving his relationship with the Chicago Tribune, an institution to which Lis has close ties.

"Lis is a prime source of information and insight for many reporters and politicians, some more than others. Among the reasons that Lis is helping Phelan is that he was spurned by Gov. Edgar's camp. At a meeting of Edgar advisers, a member of the group suggested signing Lis for the '94 campaign because of his sweetheart relationship with a Springfield correspondent whose coverage of Edgar is often negative. Lis was influential in persuading a Chicago newspaper to hire the reporter and camps out in his office."

I certainly wouldn't take Neal's word to be the end-all, be-all, though the Tribune Company also once hired Lis to lobby for lights at Wrigley Field. (I reported on some of this years ago at Chicago magazine, I'm certain, but I haven't been able to find any of it.)

So let's just play along for a second: What, then, is the Sun-Times's excuse for failing to properly cover the theoretically untouchable Cellini?

Well, it turns out the Sun-Times actually took a hard look at Cellini in 1996, as we shall see below. And, if I'm reading the clip file right, the Sun-Times has an edge over the Trib in its pre-Board Games Cellini coverage.

So let's take a look - not only to assess the media, but to get an idea of the scope of the man's influence. Curated and edited for clarity.

-

Tribune, Oct 2, 1987: "It looks like developer Bill Cellini will be beating the fundraising bushes for Vice President George Bush's presidential campaign. Cellini got the full-court press for the preppy the other day during a Springfield meeting with Bush's Illinois campaign director Sam Skinner, and Gov. Jim Thompson's chief political operative, state Transportation Secretary Greg Baise."

*

Tribune, March 22, 1988: "The state has bailed out three luxury hotels, two of which are run by politically connected Downstate investors, after the hotels defaulted on more than $40 million of low-interest state loans, two of the state's top office-holders said Monday . . .

"The Springfield Ramada Renaissance Hotel [is] owned by investors assembled by William F. Cellini, who headed the state Department of Transportation under Gov. Richard Ogilvie and who is one of the most influential Republicans in Illinois. Cellini also is paid to manage the hotel, according to Dan Kubasiak, a Cosentino adviser. The hotel's investors borrowed $15.5 million from the state, stopped paying in January, 1987, and now owe $16.1 million in principal and accrued interest."

*

Sun-Times, July 24, 1988: "Three luxury hotels that received a controversial state bailout were worth barely half the $47 million the state recently lent to them, according to appraisal records obtained by the Chicago Sun-Times."

*

Tribune, September 28, 1989: "A state agency director Wednesday night called off a controversial $90 million purchase of 11 privately owned buildings, saying he did not want to create a protracted political issue for Atty. Gen. Neil Hartigan . . .

"Specifically, Hartigan questioned a 20-year tentative purchase agreement reached between the Department of Central Management Services, Pacificorp Capital Inc., the Portland, Ore.-based owner of six Springfield buildings, and a management company headed by prominent Springfield Republican fundraiser William Cellini.

"Cellini's management corporation, which sold the six buildings to Pacificorp Capital, would have received a 20-year contract from the state to manage all 11 of the structures under the tentative purchase agreement. The state would have been able to buy out the management contract for $1.1 million under the first five years of the deal.

"Such an agreement would have marked the first time the state has used a private management company to run a state-owned building. Backers of the deal had contended the state would have saved substantial amounts by turning over management operations to private hands."

*

Sun-Times, June 17, 1990: "Another prolific giver of honoraria is the Illinois Asphalt Pavement Association, a road construction industry group led by Springfield developer and power broker William F. Cellini.

"Cellini's group pays $1,000 appearance fees to lawmakers attending its annual meetings. The group backs higher gasoline taxes and larger appropriations for road building."

*

Sun-Times, October 3, 1990: "Democratic gubernatorial candidate Neil F. Hartigan charged Tuesday that the state is using too much asphalt in its road building program because political supporters of Gov. Thompson control the industry.

"At a press conference alongside the Kennedy Expy., Hartigan sought to link his Republican opponent, Jim Edgar, to a decision by the Thompson administration to allow new roads to be built with asphalt instead of concrete.

"Hartigan said Springfield businessman William F. Cellini, executive vice president of the Illinois Asphalt Pavement Association, has been the largest fund-raiser for Thompson and Edgar.

"Edgar countered that, as secretary of state, he had nothing to do with the state's road building. He blasted Hartigan for accepting more than $1 million in campaign contributions from lawyers while serving as attorney general.

"Hartigan said asphalt roads are costlier and less safe than concrete roads because they deteriorate faster. Those contentions have been rejected by the asphalt industry, which has been involved in a vigorous debate with the concrete industry in Springfield over which is better. Both sides cite studies to support their positions."

*

Sun-Times, October 8, 1990: "To date, according to state records, taxpayers have spent more than $1 million for Thompson's 22 trips, including costs for his security detail and members of state agencies traveling with the delegation. Friends who travel with him, such as Ald. Edward M. Burke (14th) and his wife, Anne, and fund-raiser William Cellini, pay their own tabs."


*

Sun-Times, October 11, 1990: "As lobbyist, landlord, developer, hotel operator and all-purpose influence peddler, William F. Cellini has become a legend in Springfield for his prolific ability to cash in on state government.

"A budding political and business force when Gov. Thompson was elected in 1976, this son of a police officer is now regarded by many as the state's most influential Republican not holding elected office.

"Much of that reputation is based on the goodies he has culled from the Thompson administration - six major state office leases plus state financing for eight apartment projects, one office building and a luxury hotel.

"Like all legends, it often is difficult to sort fact from fiction where Cellini is concerned. For every business deal that can be traced to him, there are always two more in which he was rumored to be involved but left no fingerprints.

"Cellini, 55, tends to add to the mystery, rarely talking to reporters. He did not answer Chicago Sun-Times requests for an interview for this story.

"Although he served as the state's first transportation secretary, under Gov. Richard B. Ogilvie, his only official positions these days are with the Sangamon County Republican organization.

"While acknowledging Cellini 's influence, Thompson denied that it stems from him . . .

"One source of Cellini 's clout is his role as executive vice president of the Illinois Asphalt Pavement Association, a trade group of road builders who have fared well under Thompson's policies. Their combined fund-raising prowess is considerable.

"Cellini also gets paid to protect the interests of three other groups, the Illinois Association of Sanitary Districts, Illinois Concrete Pipe Association and Prestressed Precast Producers of Illinois.

"His primary business, however, is the New Frontier Group, a diversified, Chicago-based real estate organization that was less than two years old when Thompson was elected. It now boasts that it has developed more than 1.3 million square feet of office space and 2,550 housing units.

"Much of that growth is attributable to Cellini's adept use of government programs.

"With $55 million in low-interest financing from the Illinois Housing Development Authority, a quasi-state agency under Thompson's control, New Frontier Developments Co. has built eight government-subsidized apartment projects since 1976.

"Cellini's New Frontier Management Co. serves as the management agent not only for his own properties but for many other Chicago-area apartment buildings.

"Cellini and New Frontier also emerged under Thompson as the state's favorite Springfield landlord.

"His first major office deal was in 1979, when Cellini bought an abandoned seminary and leased it to the state for a Corrections Department headquarters and training school.

"The controversial arrangement was typical of many of the Cellini deals that followed because state officials strayed from normal procedures to his apparent benefit.

"Corrections officials were in such a hurry to get the seminary property that they passed up an opportunity to buy it outright and instead entered into a lease-purchase agreement with Cellini. They said it enabled them to move in more quickly than if they had to go through the usual purchase process.

"The lease-purchase would have allowed the state to buy the facility any time over the term of the lease - at a generally escalating price. Eleven years later, though, the state still is renting.

"Cellini, who had paid $3.6 million for the property and spent at least $4.2 million remodeling it, collected $9.5 million in rent from the state before selling to a Virginia company in 1987 for $9.1 million.

"Cellini proved to be in the right place at the right time for many similar opportunities, renting space to the Public Aid, Transportation and Commerce and Community Affairs departments.

"In the cases of Public Aid and Transportation, Cellini 's company was hired to construct buildings and lease them back to the state, bypassing the state Capital Development Board, which usually constructs state buildings on a competitively bid basis.

"When Transportation Department officials got around to announcing the site that they insisted on having for their new building, it turned out that Cellini already had an option on the land.

"Even when Cellini began selling his buildings, at a tidy profit, his company was kept on by the new owner to manage them. The 20-year management agreements have a special termination clause that calls for a $1.1 million fee to be paid to Cellini 's company if the new owner replaces it.

"The most prominent symbol of Cellini's political influence is the Springfield Ramada Renaissance, a luxury hotel that he long had sought to build but couldn't get financed until Thompson and state Treasurer Jerry Cosentino approved a $15 million state loan in 1982.

"The hotel has been a financial embarrassment for the state, which has twice renegotiated the loan to avoid a default."

*

Sun-Times, December 24, 1990: "Word is top Edgar fund-raisers Bill Cellini, Bob Kjellander and Illinois State Medical Society director Al Lerner are not only this/close to Edgar, but they also have been selected to screen all potential directors for Edgar's Cabinet posts."

*

Sun-Times, December 28, 1990: Janis Cellini, patronage chief for Jim Edgar's secretary of state office, will remain on Edgar's executive staff after he becomes governor next month and will be handling patronage chores.

"Cellini is the sister of William F. Cellini , a major Republican fund-raiser and influence peddler with a knack for getting profitable state business.

"Edgar told GOP county chairmen, ever hungry for jobs, that Janis Cellini will be the 'key liasion' between his administration and the county chairmen."

*

Tribune, January 4, 1991: "It's not just Janis Cellini, patronage chief, interviewing people to join the administration of Gov.-elect Jim Edgar.

"Also talking to job prospects is William, her brother, GOP fund-raiser and influence peddler in the Thompson and Ogilvie administrations."

*

Sun-Times, February 26, 1993: "Politically powerful Springfield developer William Cellini has sold $5.3 million in riverboat casino stock as part of a deal that prompted the state treasurer to call for a windfall tax on such transactions.

"Argosy Gaming Co., owner of the Alton Belle riverboat, reported that Cellini sold 277,778 shares, netting him $4.9 million after fees, in last week's first public offering of Illinois riverboat stock.

"Argosy sold a total of $76.6 million in stock, and the original shareholders collected $29.5 million, the company said.

"Cellini remains the largest single shareholder, and his remaining shares could be worth more than $50 million, based on the value of the public shares."

*

Tribune, June 28, 1993: "Freedom to sell riverboats has turned a few select friends of Gov. Edgar and former Gov. James R. Thompson into multimillionaires.

"One example: The value of Republican fund-raiser William Cellini 's shares in Argosy Co., owner of the Alton Belle riverboat and a bidder in Windsor, is today worth more than $90 million.

"Cellini paid $85,000 for his riverboat license."

*

Tribune, April 20, 1993: "Robert Gibson, a former member of the state panel that regulates riverboat casinos, doesn't exactly recall the first time Springfield power broker and riverboat investor William Cellini offered him a job.

"He does remember that that one offer came as the men ate dinner - perhaps in Cellini's home - at a time when Gibson was a member of the Illinois Gaming Board, the panel that oversees the gambling operations.

"Gibson, the former president of the state's largest labor organization, said he turned Cellini down after authorities told him that working for a riverboat owner might be a conflict of interest.

"Yet five months after he left the Gaming Board in October 1991, Gibson joined a real estate investment firm in which Cellini was a major investor, according to state records and interviews. Last year, he became the firm's president."

*

Tribune, May 25, 1994: [At that year's Gridiron Dinner in Springfield.] Edgar to his wife: "Brenda, watch your purse. (Dick) Duchossois' money is in it. So is Jim O'Connor's and Bill Cellini's. I call it my diversified portfolio."

*

Sun-Times, April 26, 1995: "From the imported Italian marble floors to the cherry wood paneling, the Springfield Renaissance Hotel is by far the poshest place to stay for lawmakers, lobbyists and other visitors to the state Capitol.

"Republican power broker William F. Cellini spared no expense when he decorated the 12-story, red-brick hotel.

"There are crystal chandeliers, Victorian antiques and brass hardware.

"Each room comes with 'The Bill Cellini Shower Rod.' Cellini designed the rods with a bow in the middle to keep shower curtains from sticking to the derrieres of his guests."

*

Sun-Times, April 26, 1995: "Illinois taxpayers will lose $30 million today when state Treasurer Judy Baar Topinka closes the books on two hotel loans that former Gov. Jim Thompson and former Treasurer Jerry Cosentino made to political cronies.

"The hotels owe the state $40.3 million under low-interest loans they got in 1982, but Topinka has agreed to settle their debts for $10 million, the Sun-Times has learned. She plans to announce the deal today.

"Under the deal, the Springfield Renaissance Hotel headed by Republican power broker William F. Cellini will pay the state $3.75 million of the $19.8 million it owes."

*

Sun-Times, April 28, 1995: "Republican power broker William F. Cellini threw an intimate fund-raiser for Gov. Edgar at the Springfield Renaissance Hotel Thursday night, the day after the state treasurer let Cellini and other investors in the hotel off the hook for $16 million in taxpayer loans.

"Edgar refused to discuss the deal as he joined Cellini and 150 others in the hotel's ballroom."

*

Sun-Times, April 30, 1995: "When William F. Cellini and his investors got State Treasurer Judy Baar Topinka to settle their $19.8 million taxpayer-funded hotel loan for $3.7 million, it was just the political entrepreneur's latest government deal.

"Cellini, a Republican power broker and major fund-raiser for Gov. Edgar and his predecessor James R. Thompson, has numerous deals with the state.

"Cellini 'has parlayed his intelligence and his abilities into some financial successes,' House Speaker Lee A. Daniels (R-Elmhurst) said. 'He has a lot of influence with a lot of people in the state.'

"Is there anybody more influential in state government than Cellini?

"'Perhaps not,' said Sen. Kirk Dillard (R-Hinsdale), who spent three years as Edgar's chief of staff. 'He's in an upper handful of people that have a network of contacts in state government. He gets his calls returned.'

"How important is Cellini to Edgar?

"'Jim Edgar would have become governor without Bill Cellini, but it was a lot easier with Mr. Cellini 's help,' Dillard said. 'I think his power - and he has immense power - is not as great today as it was six or seven years ago. That's not to say he's not one of the most powerful men in Illinois.'"

*

Tribune, June 5, 1995: "He has achieved a unique and almost mystical aura as a clout-heavy Republican power broker, fundraiser and riverboat gambling captain.

"But William Cellini says he doubts he will ever be a hotel developer again . . .

"'Would I do it again? Never,' Cellini said in his first public comments on the hotel deal. 'Well, never is a long time. Let's put it this way: I'll never do another one with the government. You're too high-profile, and then everybody comes to these (political) conclusions . . . I know I have been honorable with this, but I can't fight the perception. I've got to let everybody know I'm not a cigar-smoking, short, fat and stuffy politician.'"

*

Sun-Times, August 28, 1995: "Illinois taxpayers are among the most generous tenants a landlord could have . . .

Republican power broker William F. Cellini can attest to that. He bought a former seminary in Springfield for $1.7 million and began leasing it to the Department of Corrections in 1979. Since then, the state has spent more than $20 million leasing the seminary, including $2.3 million this year.

"Cellini sold the complex and five other state-occupied buildings in 1987. But his company still manages them."

*

Sun-Times, October 6, 1996: "William Cellini is treasurer of the Sangamon County Republican Party in Springfield, but he is bipartisan in his business dealings, especially in the Chicago area.

"Like many savvy businessmen, Cellini has friends in both parties.

"Take House Democratic Leader Michael Madigan. Cellini has used the longtime House speaker's law firm, Madigan & Getzendanner, to handle real estate tax work for his apartment projects in the Chicago area.

"Then there is Ald. Edward Burke, another powerful Chicago Democrat.

"His law firm gets real estate tax work from another Cellini business, Commonwealth Realty Advisers, which advises the state teachers pension fund. Commonwealth hired Burke to get the real estate taxes reduced on Forest Park Mall, a troubled shopping center that Commonwealth manages for the fund.

"Burke also bought 5,000 shares in Cellini 's riverboat company, Argosy Gaming, when it went public in 1993.

"Burke shares office space with the law firm of Earl Deutsch, another Democrat and Cellini's partner in Commonwealth. While Cellini was raising money for Republican Gov. Edgar's re-election in 1994, Deutsch was one of the major donors for Roland Burris, a Democrat who lost his primary bid for the governor's seat.

"Cellini buys the insurance for some of his buildings from Near North Insurance Agency Inc., the clout-heavy Chicago brokerage firm once owned by George W. Dunne, the former Cook County Board president and onetime chairman of the Cook County Democratic Party.

"Near North is now headed by Dunne's partner, Michael Segal, a power broker in his own right.

"Cellini is also a partner in several Chicago area deals with developer Michael Marchese, a close friend of Mayor Daley's and the owner of Harlem Irving Companies Inc. Cellini was a partner in Marchese's redevelopment of the large tract of land that formerly housed the Read Mental Health Center. Marchese and Cellini are now developing a shopping center in Northlake.

"Cellini is also a close friend and business associate of Victor Cacciatore's. Cacciatore is a Chicago lawyer and entrepreneur, whose Elgin Sweeping Services Inc. got its first state contract when Cellini headed the Illinois Transportation Department.

"Cacciatore donated heavily to Burris in 1994 and also has made real estate investments with once-powerful Democrats such as former Chicago parks boss Edward Kelly and former Ald. Edward Vrdolyak as well as Republican Gayle Franzen, now DuPage County Board president.

"Cellini, Cacciatore and Franzen have invested in land together.

"Downstate, Cellini partners in the state's first riverboat, the Alton Belle, included Democrats and Republicans.

"The group has been bipartisan in handing out its contracts. They lease their offices from a brother of former state Rep. Jim McPike (D-Alton), the onetime House majority leader under Madigan.

"And when they took their company public, they turned for their legal work to Winston & Strawn, the law firm of former Gov. James R. Thompson, and turned for their underwriting to Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette, the investment bank that then employed Franzen."

*

Sun-Times, October 6, 1996: "In Springfield, some people believe that William Cellini makes money on every big deal in state government whether his name is on the contract or not.

"While that is an exaggeration, there is no doubt that Cellini sometimes makes money on other companies' state deals. In those cases, Cellini plays a more indirect role, and his footprints are often difficult to trace.

"Take Illinois' state-of-the-art Communications Center, which opened in 1990 just north of the Capitol in Springfield.

"The state leases the center from Illinois Bell for $1.6 million annually, but Cellini was the one who built it and still manages it.

"Bell was required by the state to build the facility as part of a hotly contested $100 million state telecommunications contract.

"Instead of building the center on its own, Bell paid one of Cellini 's firms $12.1 million to acquire the land and handle the construction, land records show.

"Although Cellini 's profits from the deal are difficult to determine, his companies were supposed to receive $1.1 million in developer and consulting fees from the sale in addition to any profit, records show.

"And because Cellini was not the landlord, he was able to keep the deal out of the public eye and avoid the publicity that used to dog him when he was the major landlord to the state in Springfield.

"Why did the state's largest phone company turn to Cellini to build the state's communication center?

"A spokesman for Illinois Bell denied that politics played any role."

*

Sun-Times, October 6, 1996: "Cellini ignored numerous requests from the Chicago Sun-Times to discuss his empire and power. Over the past few years, Cellini has placed many of his financial holdings in trusts to benefit his son, William Jr., 27, and daughter, Claudia, 22.

"Often referred to as a Downstate Republican powerbroker, Cellini has numerous business deals in Chicago and the suburbs, often working with businessmen allied with Democrats such as Mayor Daley.

"Cellini spends so much time in Chicago that he bought a $594,000 condo on Michigan Avenue in 1993 without a mortgage . . .

"Cellini 's clout is greatly exaggerated, Edgar insisted, the product of stories such as this.

"'It's something you in the media have kind of continued to perpetuate that aura about Bill Cellini.'"

*

Sun-Times, October 6, 1996: "Governors come and go, but for the last three decades there's been a constant in Illinois government: William Cellini.

"The 61-year-old Springfield businessman has amassed clout and contracts that have turned him into a multimillionaire and made him an unelected powerbroker in government.

"At various times, he's controlled federal appointments in Illinois, screened the governor's Cabinet choices, and lined up lucrative deals for himself and his associates.

"His financial empire of at least $50 million was built on savvy in a political atmosphere in which clout pays big dividends.

"Cellini has done it legally, in a wide-open system that government watchdog groups have been unable to tame."

*

Sun-Times, October 20, 1996: "The state secretly allowed a Downstate businessman to make millions of dollars from Illinois' first riverboat casino through a back-door deal that bypassed a background investigation, the Chicago Sun-Times has learned.

"The businessman, Victor Fears, sold his interest in the Alton Belle riverboat to Republican powerbroker William Cellini a week before the boat was licensed in 1990, and in turn, Cellini gave Fears and his father, Gary, an option to buy the interest back later.

"Under state rules, no one can own a gambling boat - or even work as a card dealer or waitress on one - without passing a background investigation. But because the Fearses owned only an option, not a share of the boat, the state did not require an investigation, and the option wasn't made public.

"In 1994, Victor Fears took over the entire option, and he sold it for a profit that his father estimated at $3 million to $4 million . . . According to interviews and state and federal records, the deal occurred this way:

"Gary Fears, a business associate of Cellini, led an investment group seeking one of the 10 casino licenses. But before the group applied for the license, Fears transferred his interest to his son Victor, then 24.

"The group, called the Alton Riverboat Gaming Co., applied for a license in July, 1990, with 11 stockholders, including Cellini and Victor Fears.

"In November, 1990, Victor Fears pulled out before his background investigation was completed and sold his 8.3 percent interest to Cellini, giving Cellini the largest stake, 16.6 percent. As part of the deal, Cellini gave Victor and Gary Fears an option to buy back the stock.

"The stock-option arrangement was approved behind closed doors by at least one key state official, but apparently not by the full Illinois Gaming Board.

"Seven days after Cellini and the Fearses sealed their stock-option deal, the board approved the Alton Belle license. The riverboat began operating in September, 1991, on the Mississippi River in Alton, north of St. Louis, and became wildly successful. In 1993, the company went public, issuing stock under the name Argosy Gaming Co. The original investors made a windfall, selling a fraction of their stock for nearly $30 million while keeping a controlling interest. The value of the Fearses' option skyrocketed, too. Cellini 's agreement with them was amended twice in 1993, giving them the right to buy more than 1.3 million shares of stock in Argosy.

"In early 1994, when Victor and Gary Fears each owned half of the option, they made inquiries with the board about using the option to buy stock. The board said both would have to pass background investigations first, and the Fearses backed off, deciding to try to sell the option instead.

"The entire option was transferred to Victor Fears. In a closed-door meeting, state officials decided he could sell the option without any further board action.

"Victor Fears began to sell it off in May, 1994. Most of it was sold to an institutional investor, a firm such as a mutual fund that trades large numbers of securities.

"So Fears made a huge profit from an investment that was never made public . . .

" Fears estimated a profit of between $3 million and $4 million. There are no public documents to confirm whether that amount is accurate, but some aspects of the sale offer clues. Victor Fears used his option on 78,975 shares to repay a $2.3 million loan that he and his father got from Cellini . . .

"It was impossible to determine how much the Fearses had agreed to pay Cellini in the stock option deal. Cellini ignored the Sun-Times' requests for an interview.

"State gaming officials said they have no financial details on the Cellini-Fears deal.

"'That's between the two of them,' said Michael Belletire, the gaming board's administrator since last year."

*
Sun-Times, June 12, 1997: "The University of Illinois at Chicago on Wednesday selected developer Richard Stein and William Cellini , a Republican insider with longtime access to state government contracts, to lead a team that will rebuild Maxwell Street . . . Arthur Savage, an associate chancellor and chairman of the UIC committee, said the panel was impressed by the Stein group's approach and ideas for financing. Cellini 's involvement did not dictate the choice, but political connections were a factor, Savage said.

"'We would not have wanted a team that wasn't politically connected because part of getting development done is knowing how to work with the city and the state,' he said."

*

Sun-Times, September 14, 1997: "Welfare benefits worth $2 billion a year now flow through First of America Bank, a Springfield institution with a history of clout.

"Food stamp money and cash assistance payments began flowing through the bank last fall when the bank's board of directors included William Cellini - a major fund-raiser for Gov. Edgar and other Republicans. The board was eliminated in June during a restructuring."

*

Tribune, May 13, 1998: "Gov. Jim Edgar took care of his patronage chief Tuesday, appointing her to a high-paying job that will keep her on the state payroll long after he leaves office.

"The appointment of Janis Cellini to the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board was one of dozens of gubernatorial appointments made Tuesday that would spill over into the term of the next governor - whether that is GOP candidate George Ryan or Democrat Glenn Poshard.

"Some of the appointments would take effect Jan. 10 - one day before Edgar leaves office and the next governor is sworn in . . .

"Cellini, 51, the sister of Republican powerbroker William Cellini, would take a [part-time] job that pays $67,019 a year. The board oversees teacher disputes and is the agency that receives notification of unions' intent to strike.

"For Cellini, the new job entails a pay cut of about $30,000 from her current position, but it represents job security through July 1, 2004 - roughly 18 months after the next governor finishes his first term.

"Cellini's name popped up frequently in federal trials over the Illinois Department of Public Aid scandal involving Management Services of Illinois Inc. She was not accused of wrongdoing, but her name appeared on MSI's high-profile list of people who received holiday assortments of steak and lobster from the firm.

"Edgar also reappointed William Cellini's wife, Julianna, as chairwoman of the board of trustees of the State Historic Preservation Agency, a post that pays expenses but no salary . . .

"As patronage chief, Cellini helps coordinate the appointments of the board and commissions, said Thomas Hardy, Edgar's spokesman.

"Hardy defended Edgar's moves as an example of good government, saying the appointees were 'eminently qualified.'

"'I don't think it is the governor taking care of key people,' Hardy said. 'I think it's the governor taking care of the business of the state.'"

*

Tribune, September 30, 1998: "For the second time in three years, state officials are trying to come to the financial rescue of Republican power broker William Cellini.

"Under the plan, more than $7 million in public funds would be used to buy a money-losing, low-income housing development in Springfield from a limited partnership controlled by Cellini.

"The proposal is the linchpin of a $13 million funding package to rehabilitate the 23-acre Evergreen Terrace complex. The deal has been aggressively pushed by top officials of a state housing agency over the objections of some staffers, according to documents and interviews. But final approval has stalled temporarily because of criticisms from the agency's own advisory commission.

"Cellini, a top GOP fundraiser whose sister is the patronage chief for Gov. Jim Edgar, is also a key owner of a money-losing luxury hotel in the state capital that cut a deal in 1995 to repay state economic development loans at less than 20 cents on the dollar.

"That controversial arrangement has since been blocked by Illinois Atty. Gen. Jim Ryan."

*

Sun-Times, October 1, 1998: "At least $6.2 million in state funds and tax credits could allow GOP power-broker William Cellini to rid his investment portfolio of a money-losing, low-income housing complex in the state capital.

A prominent Democratic state lawmaker called the deal a bailout for Cellini , though the elusive investor and close friend of Gov. Edgar bristled at that characterization.

"'There is no bailout for me. I will not make any money off of this,' Cellini said Wednesday.

"The controversy revolves around attempts by Cellini's limited partnership to sell Evergreen Terrace, a 284-unit complex of dilapidated, 1950s-era homes."

*

Tribune, February 11, 1999: "Plans to rehabilitate a troubled low-income housing development in Springfield remain in limbo, but Republican powerbroker William Cellini has already escaped from his money-losing investment in the complex.

"Cellini, a top GOP fundraiser, heads a limited partnership that owned Springfield's 23-acre Evergreen Terrace since 1985. At the end of last year, the partnership sold the property - and transferred its $6.1 million, federally insured mortgage - to a little-known non-profit group called Shelter Institute of America.

"Besides unloading the mortgage, Cellini and his partners could receive an additional $1.2 million from the deal upon completion of a complicated plan to spend public and private funds to rehab the complex . . .

"Cellini said in an interview that his publicly assisted escape from the project isn't a bailout because his partnership could have decided to default on its mortgage.

"'We have lived up to all our obligations,' Cellini said. 'No longer could we meet the mortgage payments. . . . We simply - as lots and lots of people do - could have said, Here are the keys. We're not going to be able to keep this going any longer.'

"However, officials at the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development in Chicago said such a mortgage default could have hurt Cellini's prospects for future HUD business. His New Frontier Management Corp. has contracts to manage numerous HUD properties in Illinois."

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Tribune, June 4, 2000: "Former Ald. Ted Mazola (1st), who led the City Council fight to close Maxwell Street six years ago, now stands to reap the benefits with an exclusive contract to sell private homes that will be built on part of the property . . .

"Now the politically connected trio of developers contracted by the university to oversee the development - Dick Stein, Mike Marchese and Bill Cellini - have awarded Mazola's Near West Realty the exclusive right to sell the 850 private residences that will be built on the southern part of the site."

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Tribune, August 24, 2000: "Top aides to former Gov. Jim Edgar and Senate President James 'Pate' Philip were among a lineup of powerful political insiders named as unindicted co-conspirators in a multimillion-dollar state contract scandal that led to federal convictions of an influential consulting firm, its founders and state bureaucrats, according to court documents released Wednesday.

"The firm, Management Services of Illinois Inc., a major political contributor to Edgar, was found guilty of bilking the state out of $12.9 million on a contract it held with the Department of Public Aid to cut welfare costs by identifying insurance coverage for public aid recipients that would replace government-paid health-care benefits.

"The list of those linked by prosecutors to the scandal but not charged included Michael Belletire, Edgar's deputy chief of staff and later head of the Illinois Gaming Board; Janis Cellini, Edgar's patronage chief and the sister of Springfield power broker William Cellini; and Jim Owen, a former assistant to Philip . . .

"Federal prosecutors declined Wednesday to explain why they chose not to seek indictments against Belletire, Cellini and the other alleged co-conspirators.

"But typically, people named as unindicted co-conspirators in federal criminal cases are those who have cooperated with investigators or who prosecutors believe were involved in a crime but think they might have a hard time proving in court . . .

"Each of the co-conspirators was mentioned prominently during the MSI trials . . .

"In the trials, prosecutors argued that Belletire and Cellini had urged Berger to watch over MSI's contract and to help the firm maneuver through the state bureaucracy . . .

"Janis Cellini did not testify, but she was portrayed by Martin in one of the trials as someone who offered to be the 'point person' for MSI in the Edgar administration. After his bribery conviction, Martin testified that MSI's lobbyists, Bedgood and Logsdon, hooked him up with Cellini."

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Tribune, April 17, 2001: "Though his tenure at the helm of the Joliet Empress casino was brief and stormy, controversial casino boss Jack Binion may walk away with a more than $100 million profit on the $465 million sale of the riverboat announced Monday to Downstate powerbroker William Cellini.

"For Cellini - a former state transportation secretary, top GOP fundraiser and friend to a succession of Republican governors including George Ryan - the acquisition represents the potential of another bountiful return from the Illinois casino business since his Argosy Gaming Co. opened the state's first casino in Alton a decade ago.

"Since then, Argosy has gone public and expanded to operate casinos in Missouri, Louisiana, Iowa and Indiana . . .

"The sale of the Empress to Cellini's firm would not have been possible had it not been for a controversial 1999 gambling law passed by the legislature and signed by Ryan.

"Prior to that, no firm was allowed to own more than one casino in the state . . .

"[George] Ryan named Ira Rogal, one of the state's top lobbyists, to the board. One of the partners in Rogal's lobbying firm is Gerald Shea, a former Democratic leader of the Illinois House, who was an investor along with Cellini in a Springfield hotel that benefited from a controversial state-backed construction loan."

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Tribune, July 25, 2001: "Despite giving Argosy the go-ahead for the deal, the board also slapped Cellini's company with a $100,000 fine for its involvement in a failed bid to build an Indian-owned casino in Kenosha, Wis. Board Administrator Sergio Acosta said the board had 'grave concerns' about a $46.5 million lobbying contract to push the Wisconsin casino and that one of its prime backers has been linked to Chicago crime syndicate figures."

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Sun-Times, January 31, 2003: [What those on Fawell clout list wanted.]

"Republican power broker Bill Cellini and his sister Janis: BC license plate and summer job for Bill Cellini Jr.; 17 other jobs; 7 other plates; one contract extension."

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Sun-Times, August 15, 2003: "Sneed hears William Cellini, a top GOP powerbroker/expediter/lobbyist, may be resurfacing as a Blago insider.

"Rumble is state Sen. Jim DeLeo, a Cellini confidant and Blago insider, is bringing the two sides to the table."

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Tribune, April 14, 2005: "A mural commissioned for the new Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum depicts a joyous scene in Washington at the end of the Civil War, but the faces of a few of the 19th Century revelers bear an uncanny resemblance to officials of the showcase 21st Century institution.

"The floor-to-ceiling painting, titled 'Washington Celebrates,' underwent a transformation from the time it was first depicted by a California artist.

"The clean-shaven likeness of Thomas Schwartz, Illinois' official state historian, was swapped in for the head of a man with a handlebar mustache. Another man with mutton-chop sideburns was turned into Julie Cellini, the wife of a modern-day Springfield power broker. She heads a board that oversees a state agency that administers the $90 million historical showcase, which will open Saturday."

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Sun-Times, August 16, 2005: "A firm linked to Republican powerbroker William F. Cellini has been tapped to invest up to $120 million in state pension funds even though one of his companies owes taxpayers millions of dollars on a loan for an unprofitable hotel.

"The Illinois State Board of Investment chose Commonwealth Realty Advisors Inc. of Chicago to invest retirement funds on behalf of state workers, university employees, judges and ex-lawmakers in a deal that will net the company up to $2.4 million in annual management fees.

"That state business comes on top of more than $1 billion that an Illinois pension system representing 330,000 suburban and Downstate teachers has authorized Commonwealth to invest. That relationship yielded the company $4.7 million in management fees last year.

"Commonwealth was founded in 1989 by Cellini and Chicago lawyer Earl Deutsch. In 1992, Cellini yielded his ownership stake to his two children, Claudia and William Cellini Jr., after the firm scored its first investment a year earlier: a $100 million commitment from the state Teachers' Retirement System."

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Sun-Times, September 6, 2005: "A state teachers' pension board member who is a business associate of Republican powerbroker William Cellini has voted to invest hundreds of millions of dollars in pension cash in a real estate investment firm that Cellini founded.

"James P. Bruner, a Downstate road builder and 12-year trustee of the Teachers' Retirement System, sits on the board of the Illinois Asphalt Pavement Association, which Cellini runs. Bruner also is chairman of the asphalt group's powerful political action committee, the Good Government Council, which has given hundreds of thousands of dollars to Illinois Republicans and $30,000 to Gov. Blagojevich.

"In addition, Bruner and Cellini sit together on the boards of Illinois National Bank and Illinois College. And Bruner was appointed by Blagojevich last year to the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum foundation board, which includes Cellini 's wife, Julie.

"Despite those links to Cellini, Bruner did not recuse himself in 2002 or 2004 from voting on three lucrative TRS investment deals with Commonwealth Realty Advisors Inc. totaling $370 million, records show. That's about one-third of the more than $1 billion that the 11-member TRS board has entrusted Commonwealth with investing on behalf of 330,000 suburban and Downstate educators.

"Bruner's votes are triggering conflict-of-interest questions from government watchdogs - especially in light of recent disclosures that Commonwealth, now controlled by Cellini 's children, is among several investment firms named on a federal subpoena to TRS. The U.S. attorney's office has indicted three people, including former TRS board member Stuart Levine, as part of an ongoing probe involving fees paid to investment consultants."

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And:

Kass, September 24, 2006: "Kjellander and Cellini don't interest the pundits, at least on the record. They have been powerful political string-pullers for years, working with Democrats and Republicans. Their relationship with Topinka was at the center of the Republican gubernatorial primary. Every major newspaper editorial board in the state asked Judy about them.

"Yet Cellini and Kjellander have never been the subjects of in-depth investigative profiles and the election is only weeks away. Amazing."

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Kass, October 29, 2006: "Cellini hasn't been the focus of an investigative profile for almost a decade."

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Which was true, as far as it went; the last one was by the Sun-Times. Maybe he should have asked his editors why.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:22 AM | Permalink

The Week in Chicago Rock

You shoulda been there.

1. The Elements of Style at Martyr's on Tuesday night.

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2. The Downtown Fiction at the House of Blues on Sunday night.

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3. Sebadoh at Schubas on Sunday night.

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4. GWAR at the House of Blues on Monday night.

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5. Plain White T's at House of Blues on Sunday night.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:41 AM | Permalink

TrackNotes: America's Big Weekend

Over at The Bright One, the newest racing story is two months old and isn't even about a horse or a race.

Up the river at The World's Greatest Newspaper, we learn through a bland canned piece picked up from the Los Angeles Times that trainer Bob Baffert really wants to win, and don't worry about Chantal Sutherland aboard Game on Dude in the Classic, a sexist question if ever there was one.

It ain't much, and we're glad Lance Louis, in typical Alfred E. Neuman style, isn't worried about anything on the Monsters' OL.

But, heads up, it is the biggest weekend in American sports as 178 horses in 15 races compete for $25.5 million in purse money in the 27th Breeders' Cup World Championships at Churchill Downs Friday and Saturday.

There's one new race this year, the Juvenile Sprint (Stakes, 6 furlongs, dirt), with Friday once again primarily Ladies Day and nine races for the males Saturday. The Weather Channel predicts ideal conditions.

We're certainly predicting there will be no snafus like last year's integrity breakdown when jockey John Velazquez told Hall of Fame jockey and ESPN analyst Jerry Bailey just minutes before the Ladies Classic that his Life At Ten did not feel right. She proceeded to basically gallop the race, was never the same again and is now retired.

How do I know this? A press release I stumbled upon at ESPN.com. I think these clauses might be the tipoff: "Inclusion of the stewards and representatives of the Jockeys' Guild in a pre-event television production meeting; and, Advance meetings with the Jockeys' Guild regarding on-track veterinary team and pre-race communications protocols."

In other words, "Keep your mouths shut before the race, jocks. And Borel and Castellano, no fisticuffs!"

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If you are going to watch any of the Breeders' Cup this year, be sure to tune in by 5 p.m. Saturday for the Mile (Grade I, turf) and Goldikova's attempt at her fourth straight win in this race. It figures to be one of the weekend's best and I guarantee at some point in the race, you will have chills.

Television coverage is all over the wide world of Disney. Check your listings early and beware of college football TV monkey wrenches.

I believe the Breeders' Cup Classic will be a respectable or even very good wagering race. Uncle Mo might very well be a false favorite, especially if he goes at 2-1 or less. Conversely, Havre de Grace could go off at better than her 3-1 morning line odds. Then you have to sort out the rest.

The Classic field, in post-position order with morning line odds.

1. Prayer for Relief is out with a fever.

2. Flat Out (8-1) is one of those horses that just jumps out at you. He comes in with four straight triple-digit Beyer Speed Figures (two wins and two seconds), including a 113 four back in his Suburban Handicap win and a 107 last out in a win in the Jockey Club Gold Cup, both at Belmont. He drilled a speeding bullet :46-3 4-furlong workout (best of 58 works at the distance that day) Oct. 30 at Churchill and has risen steadily up the class ranks. What's not to like? Well, besides Stay Thirsty, and the lesser Drosselmeyer and Game On Dude, he hasn't beaten a ton. He ran well, but was unable to catch Havre de Grace two back in the Woodward, although coming back later to win the JCGC bodes well. You do have to be concerned that his only 10-furlong win was on the mud. He's somewhat of a closer and will need the likes of Game On Dude, To Honor and Serve, and Uncle Mo to burn a pace up front and run into it. A lot to do, but if he's as on the muscle as his workouts indicate, it's not impossible.

3. Drosselmeyer (15-1) just doesn't figure. He won the Belmont Stakes in 2010 but hasn't done a thing since, save for a win in the $60,000 One Count at Belmont back in May. Don't let the 104 Beyer in last month's Jockey Club mud fool you = coming off an 82, it's got giraffe written all over it. Even if you look at Bill Mott's freshening the horse with only two races since June 10, it's still hard to figure him here. Drizzle, drazzle, drozzle, drone, eventually this one will come home. But don't take less than a 30-1 magic wizard flyer bet!

4. Ruler On Ice (30-1) might be 2011's Drosselmeyer. He won the Belmont at 25-1, aided no doubt by Animal Kingdom taking a hard bump and nearly losing his rider. AK was injured in the race. Ruler beat Stay Thirsty in the Belmont, but looking at the mud that day and a win more than a year ago in the Delaware slop, he may need a rain storm that he's not going to get. He mixed it up with To Honor and Serve and Rattlesnake Bridge in finishing second September 24 in the Pennsylvania Derby, but he doesn't really seem to measure up here. His best might be the very back end of the trifecta or superfecta.

5. So You Think (5-1) is the highly touted New Zealand-bred, five-year-old son of High Chapparal (winner of the Breeders' Cup Turf, 2002 and 2003), saddling up for the first time in the United States and running for the first time on dirt. Top-shelf trainer Aidan O'Brien doesn't mess around in his international travels and you figure he thinks he can at least beat this field. You can call him a closer, as the European style is to build up steam to the end and roar in. He had a very tough beat by less than a length in the Qipco Champion Stakes (Group I) October 15 and was beaten nearly six in the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe a month ago. But if you look at his Racing Post Ratings, they are consistently at the equivalent of 114 on the Beyer scale. That is plenty for this race. His 7-4-2-0 record this year is good but, as always, losses in his last two knock him off his pedestal. If he handles the travel and the dirt surface, there's no reason on earth he can't win this race and at a foreseeable 5-1 or better, a must use.

6. Ice Box (30-1) Thirty-to-one? How about 50-1? He won the Florida Derby in March 2010 and has been living off of it ever since. His Beyers have been at 90 or below and even his supposed mud form didn't show up in the Jockey Club. No form. No bet.

7. Rattlesnake Bridge (30-1) also falls short in this race. He beat nobody in the $165,000 Long Branch at Monmouth in July, but a decent second in the Grade I Travers caught the wiseguys' attention. He was sliced up at Uncle Mo's party in the Timely Writer in March. He probably needed to beat To Honor and Serve and Ruler On Ice last out in the Pennsylvania Derby to even get close to contender city in this one, but he didn't, and his Beyers are a tad low, hovering at about 94. He just doesn't seem to be a graded stakes-quality horse, especially in this ultimate of Grade Is. He'll have to run the race of his life and beat a lot of other very good individuals here.

8. Game On Dude (10-1) has a definite shot for a piece of the trifecta, but it's hard to see him winning. Immediately, I see the Bob Baffert trainee in the old "in-and-out" pattern of Beyers, with this race being an "out" event. I think we can ignore his form on the synthetic Del Mar and Hollywood tracks as he's done just about the same on dirt. He won the Grade I Goodwood at Santa Anita October 1, his first win in five attempts since the Santa Anita Handicap (Grade I) in March. Game On Dude should have no problem with the distance and while Chantal Sutherland is a good jockey and has won big races in Canada, the Breeders' Cup rookie will probably try to gun for the lead and will have to fend off tons of horseflesh bearing down on them. A tall order. I might take a flyer, but it will have to be 15-1 or better.

9. Stay Thirsty (12-1) might just become a wiseguy horse in this race, if you can believe that. I was down on him after losses in the Florida and Kentucky Derbies and a three-quarter length beat in the Belmont when I thought he should have beaten Ruler On Ice. After a six-week freshening, 'Thirsty joined the Breeders' Cup hunt with a powerful win in the Jim Dandy (Grade I), when he menacingly stalked the leaders and then powered away to win by four lengths. A month later, he earned Travers Stakes (Grade I) glory when he shot to the lead, hung around long enough to show them what's what and held nicely to his task in beating a rubber-leg-street Rattlesnake Bridge by more than a length. That's versatility in two big races, showing he'll handle whatever comes his way Saturday. Also known as Uncle Mo's stablemate, stories inevitably turn to Mo even when the subject is supposed to be Stay Thirsty. Both are trained by Todd Pletcher and owned by (Mike) Repole Stables. The son of Bernardini out of a Storm Bird mare (read: distance pedigree) finished nearly three lengths behind Flat Out for third in a muddy Jockey Club Gold Cup as jockey JJ Castellano looked like he was trying to governor Stay Thirsty on the backstretch and then didn't force a losing issue. Besides the races mentioned above, Stay Thirsty went the route of the Grade I Hopeful, Grade I Breeders Cup Juvenile and the Grade III Gotham to get to his three-year-old campaign. Add steadily improving Beyers all the way and no horse has had a more stellar path to this biggest of races. I'm with this horse and if he wins at 8-1, or 12-1 in my dreams, it could be party time.

10. Havre de Grace (3-1) should be the morning line favorite, but line maker Mike Battaglia tipped his hand by saying Uncle Mo will take the most money. It's the old what-will-he-be versus what-should-he-be oddsmaker argument. The talking heads will make a lot of comparisons between females Havre de Grace and Zenyatta, the Classic winner in 2009 and the close loser to Blame last year. That's because Havre de Grace beat the boys, including Flat Out, by 1-1/4 lengths two back in the Woodward. Zenyatta's one win against the boys was in the 2009 Classic. After wars with horses like Blind Luck, Unrivaled Belle, Switch and Royal Delta on the female side and the Woodward win, Havre de Grace comes into this Classic with better back class than Zenyatta did in 2009 and better recent class than Zenyatta last year. Trainer Larry Jones and Fox Hill Farms are grabbing for all the glory by entering this race, but it makes sense after she beat Royal Delta, who figures to be a near favorite in the Ladies Classic, by 8-1/4 lengths in the Beldame on October 1. The Saint Liam filly has been in triple-digit Beyers in all but one of her last nine races (at six different tracks) and even at that lofty level, her "in-and-out" pattern suggests "in." In the money in every one of her 14 races, she's won seven of her last 10 and, except for the Ladies Classic last year and her first race, has never been beaten by more than a neck. Yeah, she's done some great things on the female side, but she almost seems to have graduated from that, a tough-as-nails horse who has earned every bit of her entry into the Classic. Depending on how the civilian money goes on Mo, don't be surprised if Havre de Grace is the betting favorite as the gates open.

11. Headache (30-1) is your quarter-length victor of the win-and-you're-in Hawthorne Gold Cup Handicap October 8. The five-year-old Tapit colt has been hovering right at the 99-100 Beyer level, not quite enough. He has improved this year with an easy optional claiming win at Churchill in May and then a decent win in the Cornhusker Handicap in June. A Grade III at Prairie Meadows and the Grade II at Hawthorne? That's his class level, not the Breeders' Cup Classic.

12. Uncle Mo (5-2), the "it" horse, is your morning line favorite. There are a lot of people who would like to tell Mike Repole, the Del Griffith of Repole Stables: "YOU'RE GOING THE WRONG WAY!" with a horse that has Dirt Mile written all over him. Uncle Mo will instead try to get the full 10 furlongs of the Classic, a distance he's never even run at. His longest win is the 1-1/16th Breeders' Cup Juvenile last year and you have to toss his 1-1/8 mile Wood Memorial as he was sick that day and for weeks afterwards. Coming into the 2011 Classic, he has as preps just a 7-furlong loss in the Kings Bishop and an easy 1-mile win in the Kelso Handicap (with a 118 Beyer I don't readily buy) over Jackson Bend, a horse that has opted for the Sprint. While he has too much to deal with here and no indication he can get the distance, his short price will be yet another negative. No thanks. But Mikey Repole says he's the best horse in the world, capeesh? So you dowhatyagottado, okay?

13. To Honor and Serve (12-1) is a horse on the improve who is going to have to progress even more in the Classic. As a two-year-old, he duked it out and prevailed over the highly touted Mucho Macho Man. This year, he ran into difficulty on the Florida prep circuit for the Kentucky Derby and then missed four months with a ligament strain. He ran the worst race of his life in the Amsterdam in August and then busted out - at least Beyer-wise - with an optional claiming win at Saratoga and then a win over Ruler On Ice and Rattlesnake Bridge in the Pennsylvania Derby. Beyers of 102 and 105 in his last two suggest he's on the right track, he's been training decently and the son of Bernardini should have no distance problems for trainer Bill Mott. His 2011 took a major detour, but his connections have to be happy and grateful he made it to this race as a three-year-old. I think Mott knows something and if the horse is any good, he'll overcome the post position. He might be a win candidate straight up and if he's 12-1 or better, I would find it even more difficult to overlook him.

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My Classic superfecta? Stay Thirsty, To Honor and Serve, Havre de Grace, Flat Out and throw in Game On Dude if you can afford it. Boxed, of course.

Paging Jimmy Carter!
International racing tensions can only be heightened after a rail skirmish at Churchill Downs as track officials closed the turf course for training after a rain started falling Thursday morning.

Wet grass doesn't faze the Euro trainers and they reacted accordingly as their horses approached the rail opening to step on the turf course for morning calisthenics and were told the turf was closed. Voices were raised, menacing postures taken. No dice, the turf was closed.

How disastrous was this dustup? "Really, this has ruined our chances," said Robert Hannon Jr., trainer of Strong Suit, entered in the Mile.

Hindsight is always crystal clear, but I'll mention just a few tools that can be utilized to avoid these incidents: Doppler radar, stadium lights, rescheduling, up-to-the-second mobile texting. Capeesh?

If The Oak Rules The Forest
You won't see or hear it. Not easily, at least.

ABC won't be televising Giant Oak's showcase, the Breeders' Cup Marathon, the first BC race Saturday. If you want to see it, you'll have to be at an OTB, on the BozoPuter on an online wagering site, or on the limited-household TVG racing channel.

Seems the race is in a bad conflict with Today's Homeowner with Danny Lipford, and I don't need to tell you who always wins that battle.

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Thomas Chambers is our man on the rail. He welcomes your comments.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:23 AM | Permalink

The American Autumn on RT

When it was an Arab Spring they were heroes. When an American Autumn came they were mocked and misrepresented on other channels. But not here. Watch American Autumn on RT.


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See also:

The 1% Obsession

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Unconnecting Dots

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Maybe This Explains It

Note: She doesn't mention it, but Tribune Company was also a target of the New York Times column she references.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:20 AM | Permalink

The Week in WTF

1. Jesse Jackson Jr., WTF?

Mark December 2nd on your calendar, circus fans. That's the day the U.S. House Ethics Committee decides if it wants to chat with Junior about buying Senate seats.

His primary challenger, former one-term U.S. Rep. Debbie Halvorson of Crete, suggests that voters in the newly gerrymandered 2nd District don't need a congressman "distracted" by ethics issues. In his defense, we have never had any cause to think he's been affected by ethics in any regard. Pater peccavi.

2. William Cellini, WTF?

What now should become apparent, even to state politicians, is that no matter how often they use the defense, the concepts of political bribery and extortion are not murky at all. It's so obvious that anyone can figure it out. Didn't protect Ryan, Blago or this old fixer.

We should not be led to think that anything will change in Illinois as a result of this trial, because the corrupting power of greed is so ubiquitous as to outweigh even fear of prison. Pecunia non olet.

3. (Not That) David Gregory, WTF?

Bank robbery note from this Criminal Mastermind apparently read: "Give me all your money in small unmarked bills or else I will run into traffic and probably hurt myself . . . also, keep this note. It's important."

Maybe he just got bored with robbing the same bank. Quando omni flunkus, mortati.

4. Mihael Jocic,WTF?

Based solely on the profound superficiality of one mug shot, WTF guesses he's probably one of the Wild And Crazy Guys from a Country That Used to be Yugoslavia, and was only confused by the mixed romantic signals.

This romantic approach always worked for him in Sarajevo strip clubs. American women can be so inscrutable and, as he found out, inscrewtable. Servo permaneo bovis provestri.

5. Tribune Company, WTF?

The three-year battle to dissolve, reconstruct and make any sense of Sam Zell's parting bankruptcy gift to Tribune hit a new comedic high this week.

For you civilians in the audience, here are the only factors worth noting, because they are the only factors the bankruptcy judge is considering.

A) How much can the filthy rich people who should never have made a bad loan to Zell get back, and, by extension, who gets stuck with the biggest cold check.

B) How much can the senior leadership of what remains of Tribune haul away as bonuses.

All other issues are irrelevant to them. Sic transit gloria.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:03 AM | Permalink

November 3, 2011

Song of the Moment: White Riot

Not too chicken to try it anymore . . .

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Song: White Riot

Artist: The Clash

Recorded: February 1977

Released: March 1977

Format: 7"

B-Side: 1977

Length: 1:58

Wikipedia: Lyrically, the song is about class economics and race and thus proved controversial: some people thought it was advocating a kind of race war. Rather, lyricist Joe Strummer was trying to appeal to white youths to find a worthy cause to riot, as he felt blacks in the UK already had. It contains a positive message in the lines "Are you taking over / Or are you taking orders? / Are you going backwards / Or are you going forwards?"

The song was written after Joe Strummer and bassist Paul Simonon were involved in the riots at the Notting Hill Carnival of 1976.

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"White Riot" is considered a classic in The Clash canon, although as the band matured, Mick Jones would at times refuse to play it, considering it crude and musically inept. Over two decades later, Joe Strummer would perform it with his band the Mescaleros.

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Songfacts: This is inspired by the Notting Hill riots. On August 30, 1976, black youths clashed with Police at a carnival in the English town. Clash members Joe Strummer, Paul Simonon, and their manager Bernie Rhodes were there and got caught up in the riots, taking a stand against the police. Strummer felt that young white people should express their outrage over oppressive government just as blacks were, through direct action and protest.

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The album wasn't released in the US until 1979. Over 100,000 copies were sold there as an import in 1977.

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Clash members Mick Jones and Joe Strummer played this together for the last time in November, 2002. Jones was in the audience for one of Strummer's solo shows and came onstage to join him. Strummer died of a heart attack a month later.

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Lyrics:

White riot - I wanna riot
White riot - a riot of my own
White riot - I wanna riot
White riot - a riot of my own

Black people gotta lot a problems
But they don't mind throwing a brick
White people go to school
Where they teach you how to be thick

An' everybody's doing
Just what they're told to
An' nobody wants
To go to jail!

White riot - I wanna riot
White riot - a riot of my own
White riot - I wanna riot
White riot - a riot of my own

All the power's in the hands
Of people rich enough to buy it
While we walk the street
Too chicken to even try it

Everybody's doing
Just what they're told to
Nobody wants
To go to jail!

White riot - I wanna riot
White riot - a riot of my own
White riot - I wanna riot
White riot - a riot of my own

Are you taking over
or are you taking orders?
Are you going backwards
Or are you going forwards?

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The original single:

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Rage Against The Machine cover live in London, 2010:

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Previously in Song of the Moment:
* Iron Man
* The Story of Bo Diddley
* Teach Your Children
* Dream Vacation
* When The Levee Breaks
* I Kissed A Girl
* Theme From Shaft
* Rocky Mountain High
* North to Alaska
* Barracuda
* Rainy Days and Mondays
* Brother, Can You Spare A Dime?
* Baby, It's Cold Outside
* Man in the Mirror
* Birthday Sex
* Rio
* My Sharona
* Alex Chilton
* Surfin' Bird
* By The Time I Get To Arizona
* Heaven and Hell
* Sunday Bloody Sunday
* Lawless One
* Tell It Like It Is
* The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald
* Lake Shore Drive
* On, Wisconsin!
* Anarchy in the U.K.
* Ballad of a Thin Man

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See also:
* Songs of the Occupation: To Have And To Have Not
* Songs of the Occupation: Johnny 99

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And From The Beachwood Occupation Affairs Desk:
* Occupy Chicago. Occupy The Nation.

* The Week in Occupy Chicago

* Occupy America

* We've Got The Guillotine!

* Occupying The Hyatt; Trashing Bank Of America

* Why No One Believes The Banks

* Occupy CNN

* RT's Superior Cable News Coverage Continues With Its 'Occupy Wall Street' Reportage

* The Weekend in Occupy Chicago (October 17, 2011)

* Just How Much Can the State Restrict Peaceful Protest

* Blue Ribbon Glee Club Joins The Occupation

* The Week in Occupy Chicago (Oct. 21, 2011)

* The Weekend in Occupy Chicago (Oct. 24, 2011)

* Jimmy Fallon (& Friends) For The 1%

* Today In Occupy Chicago (Oct. 26, 2011)

* Occupation Diary: The Horse, Keith Sweat And Cell 72

* The Week in Occupy Chicago (Oct. 28, 2011)

* Wall Street to Occupy Chicago: Drop Dead

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:31 AM | Permalink

The [Thursday] Papers

Thank you, Huffington Post Chicago!

Now, was that really so hard?

Deposing Daley
"For the second time in four months a federal court judge has ruled former Mayor Richard M. Daley can be sued in an ongoing legal battle over allegations of police torture," Carol Marin and Don Moseley report.

"U.S. District Court Judge Rebecca Pallmeyer on Wednesday denied a motion to reconsider her prior ruling, setting the stage for Daley to be deposed by attorneys representing men who claim they were tortured by a small band of Chicago Police officers in the 1970s and 1980s."

*

"We have patiently awaited this decision before proceeding to question Daley under oath at a deposition," said plaintiff's attorney G. Flint Taylor. "Now the path is clear, Daley has no legitimate grounds to object, so we will [Thursday] subpoena Daley for questioning in early December."

*

"As Cook County state's attorney from 1980 to 1989, Daley is granted prosecutorial immunity. But as mayor, Pallmeyer ruled, Daley doesn't have the same privilege.

"The lawsuit charges that Daley was part of a conspiracy to cover up the torture allegations.

"In her original ruling, Pallmeyer wrote that Tillman had 'presented more than 'naked assertions' and his conspiracy claim survives.'

"In her ruling denying the motion to reconsider, Pallmeyer concluded 'that Plaintiff sufficiently alleged that Daley, as Mayor, participated in a conspiracy that included the concealment of exculpatory evidence.'"

Tax Facts
"The corporate tax rate is 35 percent, but an examination of 280 of the nation's largest corporations suggests that many aren't paying anything close to that," CNNMoney reports in a story republished by the Tribune.

"The real tax rate paid by a slew of major corporations averages closer to 18.5 percent, according to a study released Thursday by two liberal tax research groups."

I'm not sure why CNN felt compelled to label the tax research groups as liberal; the facts are the facts and conservatives (Tea Partiers, at least) aren't happy about it either.

Nonetheless:

"According to the study, utility Pepco Holdings and conglomerate General Electric have the highest negative income tax rates.

"Pepco's profits totaled $882 million over the three-year period, while the company had a negative tax rate of 57.6 percent. GE earned $10.5 billion, with a negative rate of 45.3 percent, according to the study."

The Beachwood Media Company pays more in taxes than GE!

"It wasn't always like this. The corporate tax code was cleaned of special tax breaks during the Reagan administration."

That's simply not true - and Dan Rostenkowski was the main reason why not.

"When Congress passed the Tax Reform Act of 1986, radically overhauling the Internal Revenue Code, Rep. Dan Rostenkowski (D., Ill.), chairman of the tax- writing House Ways and Means Committee, hailed the effort as '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,'" legendary investigative reporters Don Barlett and James Steele reported in "The Great Tax Giveaway."

"In fact, Rostenkowski and other self-styled reformers created a new maze of unprecedented favoritism. Working in secret, they wove at least 650 exemptions - preferences, really, for the rich and powerful - through the legislation, most written in cryptic legal and tax jargon that conceals the identity of the beneficiaries.

"When they were finished, thousands of wealthy individuals and hundreds of businesses were absolved from paying billions upon billions of dollars in federal income taxes. It was, an Inquirer investigation has established, the largest tax giveaway in the 75-year history of the federal income tax."

President 1%
A missive from MoveOn.org:

Some people just don't get it.

Tens of thousands of Americans have taken to the streets to demand accountability for the banks. But some members of the Obama administration - including members of his Cabinet - are pushing for a terrible deal to let the big banks off the hook for selling bad mortgages and then illegally foreclosing on homeowners - destroying the American Dream for millions of families.1

The president's top campaign advisors have said that he's going to run for re-election on his record of holding Wall Street accountable2 - but that'll be impossible if his administration pushes for another giveaway for the Wall Street banks who crashed our economy. And that could happen any day now.3

Can you sign our petition to President Obama right now telling him that we need a full investigation into the banks' wrongdoing, not another "deal" that lets them off the hook?

Add my name to the petition to hold the banks accountable.

We'll deliver it to the White House and to the campaign headquarters in Chicago. Here's what it says: "The banks have to be held accountable for destroying the American Dream for so many families. No immunity for the banks before a full investigation is done."

Members of the Obama administration have said that the immunity they're offering the banks would be very narrow. But we can't know if what the banks are being asked to pay is fair without a full investigation. What's already come out is shocking - intentionally overlooking problematic documentation, hiring "robo-signers" to sign thousands of documents without reading them, and even forging critical legal documents.4

And while the administration says we have to cut a deal because it's the only way to get homeowners relief quickly, what the banks are offering would only help a fraction of the homeowners who are in trouble, and it's not even clear how many of them it would allow to stay in their homes.5

Some state attorneys general - led by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and Delaware Attorney General Beau Biden - have walked away from the deal, because they believe it doesn't go nearly far enough.6 But members of the administration, including Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner and HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan, are continuing to push for a deal - any deal - so they can say they won something against the banks.7

That's why it's so critical that we speak up now and say that granting the banks immunity before we know the scale of their wrongdoing makes no sense. A deal could come any day, so we all need to send a message to the president that he needs to step up and hold the banks accountable. Click below to sign now:

http://pol.moveon.org/badagdeal/?id=32550-6811155-nloCDmx&t=4

Thanks for all you do.

Sources:
1. "A Deal That Wouldn't Sting," The New York Times, October 29, 2011

"'Robo-signing' of mortgages still a problem," CBS News, July 18, 2011

2. "White House officials defend economic efforts, hit Republicans for blocking," The Hill, October 30, 2011

"Obama plans to turn anti-Wall Street anger on Mitt Romney, Republicans," The Washington Post, October 14, 2011

3. See 1.

4. Ibid.

5. "State accuses Bank of America unit of thousands of illegal foreclosures," Seattle Post-Intelligencer, August 5, 2011

"4ClosureFraud Posts Lender Processing Services Mortgage Document Fabrication Price Sheet," naked capitalism, October 3, 2010

"Robo-signing: Just the start of bigger problems," CNNMoney, October 22, 2010

6. "Shake-Up in Mortgage Investigation," The New York Times, August 23, 2011

7. "Geithner seeks swift foreclosure pact with banks," Reuters, March 15, 2011

This solicitation from the Obama campaign arrived at almost the same time:

Election Day 2012 is almost exactly a year out.

So this weekend, supporters will be joining days of action across the country. We'll come together to phone bank and reach out to people in our neighborhoods. We'll ask our friends and members of our communities to step up and help spread the word about the progress we've made over the last three years - and why we should re-elect President Obama a year from now.

Whether you're already a regular volunteer for 2012, or if you haven't had a chance to pitch in just yet, this day of action is for you. Come out and work alongside other supporters to ensure that we have a strong ground game in Chicago.

Maybe the best thing Obama can do to ensure his re-election is to forget about campaigning and get his governing together. It just might work.

The Local Redistricting Song & Dance
Yesterday we posted ProPublica's examination of how redistricting works to shrink democracy.

For a local take, here's the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform:

A coalition of civil rights and public policy organizations supports a plan aimed at giving Chicago residents a chance to monitor the redrawing of the city's 50 wards, but said the resolution, which will be considered at Wednesday's City Council meeting, doesn't go far enough.

The redistricting transparency resolution, which was approved by the City Council committee charged with overseeing Chicago's once-in-a-decade remapping process Tuesday, mandates six preliminary hearings on redistricting and one public meeting on any draft ward map to be presented to the full City Council.

But the Illinois Campaign for Accountable Redistricting (ICAR), a coalition of civil rights and public policy non-profit organizations working for a more transparent and accountable redistricting process, said aldermen need to take more steps to ensure Chicago residents can participate meaningfully in the process. ICAR is comprised of the Asian American Institute, Citizen Advocacy Center, the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform, the Latino Policy Forum, the League of Women Voters of Illinois, and the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF).

[...]

ICAR has asked aldermen to hold at least five public hearings, with two weeks' notice, on any draft ward map to be considered by the City Council.

"Transparency and public participation are essential to a fair and accountable process of redistricting," said ICAR Member Margaret Herring, President of the League of Women Voters of Chicago. "Transparency ensures that Chicago residents have access to information about the remapping of Chicago wards and encouraging public participation offers Chicago residents the opportunity to weigh in on this important process."

The resolution, sponsored by Ald. Richard Mell (33rd Ward), also mandates that the Committee on Committees, Rules and Ethics make redistricting computer terminals available to the public so residents can draw their own maps, and provide an explanation of any full redistricting plan considered by the City Council.

However, the resolution does not prohibit use of political considerations in map drawing. ICAR believes that aldermen should not consider their home addresses, or that of likely opponents, when drawing ward boundaries.

Song of the Moment
White Riot.

Jiffy Helmet vs. Slim Shady
In The Blue & Orange Kool-Aid Report.

Tony La Russa vs. Chicago
"No rival manager has been as entwined with both Chicago baseball teams as Tony La Russa, who started his managing career with the White Sox - and whose firing is famously Jerry Reinsdorf's biggest regret - and who went on to manage the Cubs' greatest rival.

"Buzz Bissinger's 3 Nights in August, in fact, is a profile of La Russa as reported through the prism of a three-game series against the Cubs in 2003 - and includes plenty on his White Sox days.

"Now that La Russa has retired following his World Series win, it's a good time to go back and take a look at the Chicago portions of Bissinger's book, as well as a few other tidbits."

Do Lions And Tigers Ever Mate?
A Chicago zookeeper has the answer.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Roar.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 5:50 AM | Permalink

Do Lions And Tigers Ever Mate?

Matt Weibler from the Brookfield Zoo has the answer.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 5:48 AM | Permalink

Tony La Russa vs. Chicago

No rival manager has been as entwined with both Chicago baseball teams as Tony La Russa, who started his managing career with the White Sox - and whose firing is famously Jerry Reinsdorf's biggest regret - and who went on to manage the Cubs' greatest rival.

Buzz Bissinger's 3 Nights in August, in fact, is a profile of La Russa as reported through the prism of a three-game series against the Cubs in 2003 - and includes plenty on his White Sox days.

Now that La Russa has retired following his World Series win, it's a good time to go back and take a look at the Chicago portions of Bissinger's book, as well as a few other tidbits.

*

"When he started his managing career with the White Sox in the middle of the 1979 season, the prevailing sentiment was that he had been hired by owner Bill Veeck because he came cheap; his only experience was a little more than a year of managing in the minors with Knoxville and Des Moines.

"He was thirty-four years old and scared for his life. Self-doubt rattled through him - Do I really know what I'm doing? - and he became a whipping boy for the radio broadcast duo of Harry Caray and Jimmy Piersall, who offered the almost daily critique that he managed with his head squarely up his ass.

"In the insular world of baseball, where newness was anathema and crustiness a work of art, La Russa was a typical Veeckian choice, playing so far against type that he could have been sold as a novelty at the concession stand.

"His new general manager, Rollie Hemond, tried to warn La Russa that few in the game were rooting for him.

"'You have five things going against you,' Hemond told him. 'You're young. You're handsome. You're smart. You're getting your law degree. You have a nice family - I don't think you're going to last very long.'

"Given that LaRussa was also bilingual in English and Spanish, as well as a strict vegetarian in a church of meat eaters, there may have well been seven strikes against him."

*

"La Russa finished that first season of managing in 1979 by guiding the White Sox to a .500 record, twenty-seven wins and twenty-seven losses. It was a nice performance given that the team was in disarray . . .

"[W]ith the steady patience of new White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf, who stood by La Russa as the team continued to chug and churn in the early 1980s, he somehow survived.

"In 1983, he did arrive in the Promised Land - he took the White Sox to the playoffs for the first time in his career, against the Orioles. He emerged with an undesirable conclusion, a loss of three games to one to Baltimore."

*

"Early in his career with the White Sox, he had to wear a flak jacket as the result of a death threat. The threat passed, but La Russa wore the jacket for another month because his team was winning."

*

"For eight months a year, La Russa lives by himself. During spring training, he stays at a condominium near the Cardinals' complex in Jupiter. When the team moves north for the regular season, he stays in the residential hotel suite while his wife, Elaine, and their two daughters remain 2,000 miles away in Alamo near San Francisco. The support of La Russa's family has enabled him to focus his life 100 percent on baseball during the season.

"But the number of times he sees them during the season can be counted on two hands - a couple series' against the Giants and the occasional day off when he steals a plane to Oakland for a twenty-four hour reunion.

"A plaque on the wall in the La Russas' home sums up their relationship: 'We interrupt this marriage to bring you the baseball season.'"

*

"Their daughter, Bianaca, was born in September 1979, a month after her father had started managing the White Sox. Their second daughter, Devon, was born in August 1982.

"Their births came when La Russa was most vulnerable, or felt he was most vulnerable - still cutting his teeth as the White Sox' manager.

"Living in Des Moines, where La Russa had the Triple-A job with the White Sox, Elaine begged her husband not to make the move to the parent club in Chicago.

"She was eight months pregnant and the timing was beyond bad. Since their marriage on New Year's Eve in 1973, they had moved nearly forty times, shuttling between spring training and the baseball season and Tony's law school studies in the offseason. Most of their possessions were in storage, bed sheets often served as drapes, plants inevitably froze in the car on the way to some strange and faceless apartment filled with the sour odors of transcience. The thought of moving again, when Elaine was about to give birth, filled her with dread.

"A child, Tony. We're having a child. But they moved anyway."

*

"Elaine played the baseball wife at first, quietly nursing Bianca in the stands soon after she was born. She loved the game - at least at first she loved it - and she loved even more to keep score.

"After the games, White Sox owner Bill Veeck held court at a bar called the Bard's Room in the upper reaches of Comiskey Park. Her husband's attendance was mandatory, so Elaine dutifully followed with Bianca, even though they weren't allowed in the actual bar itself, because women simply were not allowed: an unwanted govenor in the bawdy, off-color atmosphere with which baseball defined itself back then.

"Instead, they sat in an adjacent room, falling asleep arm-in-arm until two or three or four in the morning, whenever Veeck, basically an insomniac, had had enough baseball talk for the night."

*

"Elaine also took her husband's intense temperament in stride, even when his body language, after a loss, said get the hell away from me. All coaches take losses hard. But Jim Leyland, who coached under La Russa and then went on himself to manage fourteen years for the Pirates and Florida and Colorado [and, since this book was published, his current gig in Detroit], believes that La Russa magnified the impact. 'Losing hurts all us, but it probably hurt Tony too much,' said Leyland. And it hurt others as well.

"'I was paranoid about not doing the job right,' said La Russa of those early years, paranoid about not being prepared, paranoid about missing some millimeter edge there for the teaking if he could only find it. He found himself consumed by the philosophy of Paul Richards, who had managed in the big leagues for twelve years, was considered a master innovator, and was the director of the farm system for the Chicago White Sox when La Russa took over: It's your ass. It's your team. It's your responsibility. There's a strategy for every situation. So start making some decisions.

"Early in the 1983 season, Elaine was taking care of their daughters in Sarasota. The White Sox had just broken spring training there, and she planned to bring the children north to Chicago in late May or early June so the family could be together. One night, she called from Florida: She had just been diagnosed with pneumonia and required hospitalization. La Russa responded to the news with a fateful decisions, one that would cement his status as a baseball man but would also define him in another way.

"Based on a strong finish in 1982, the expectations were high for the White Sox in 1983. But the season got off to a wretched start, mired at 16 and 24. Floyd Bannister was having trouble winning anything. La Marr Hoyt had a record of 2 and 6 and Carlton Fisk was a mess at the plate. In the middle of May, the team lost eight of nine games. Toronto swept them; then Baltimore swept them. La Russa found himself fighting for his life, or what he mistook for his life.

"He had a team that was supposed to win, that had spent money on free agents and had good pitching and still wasn't winning. The only reason he was still around was because of the vision of White Sox owner Reinsdorf, who continued to stand by him.

"So he did what he thought he had to do: He called his sister in Tampa and asked whether she would take care of the kids so he could take care of baseball.

"Only with the benefit of hindsight, twenty years of it, did he realize that the right decision was the one he hadn't made. 'How was I stupid enough? I should have left the team and taken care of my wife and kids. I've never forgiven myself for that and they've never forgotten.'

*

"In 1996, when La Russa went to the Cardinals, Elaine elected to stay behind with the children to lead their own lives while he led his. It wasn't for want of love, because the love in the family was intense, but because it was best for everyone involved, a division of labor that made sense in terms of what was important to each of them: Elaine in charge of parenting Bianca and Devon on the West Coast, her husband in the Midwest with nothing between him and baseball.

"From her origins as a dutiful baseball wife, Elaine realized how crucial it had become for both her and her children to have an identity beyond what her husband and their father did for a living, that he was the only one with his name spread across his shoulders.

"Back in the days when she had gone to the games, she had always noticed the other baseball wives huddled around in their enclave in the stands. Without being dismissive, she came to the conclusion that they were little more than fans with better seats and greater entitlement.

"Where do you go beyond that? she wondered. What do you do? What is your life about?

"She also noticed something else: how many marriages fell apart once the baseball stopped. It wasn't something she wanted, just as she also knew that if she and the kids simply followed Tony to St. Louis, they would have only ended up resenting him for the disruption he had caused, for the fact that he still would be the man who wasn't there."

*

"Home run hysteria peaked in 1998 when the Cards' Mark McGwire and the Cubs' Sammy Sosa battled to break perhaps the most sacred record in all of baseball, Roger Maris' sixty-one home runs in a single season. Both players didn't just break it; they shattered it: McGwire hitting seventy home runs and Sosa sixty-six. La Russa managed McGwire when he broke the record, and McGwire admitted that during the season he had taken a steroid precursor known as 'Andro,' short for androstendione.

"Andro was available over the counter at the time, although the NFL and the Olympics had banned it. McGwire made no attempt to hide his use of it. He kpet a bottle on the shelf of his locker in plain view, and La Russa does not believe that McGwire ever used anything other than Andro (he also stopped taking it in 1999 and still hit sixty-five home runs).

"He was big when he came into the league in 1986 and over time became dedicated to working out as often as six days a week in order to prevent further injuries. In the early 1990s, he actually lost weight to take pressure off a chronically sore heel; weight loss runs counter to the bloated look of someone on steroids."

*

Editor's Note: In January 2010, McGwire admitted to using steroids. "In an interview with ESPN's Baseball Tonight, La Russa said he didn't know McGwire had used steroids until the slugger admitted using performance-enhancing drugs in the phone call to the manager earlier Monday," ESPN reported.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:59 AM | Permalink

The Blue & Orange Kool-Aid Report: Slim Shady vs. Jiffy Helmet

Clear Eyes, Bye Week . . . Can't Lose
Leading the Bucs 21-5 at the start fourth quarter, Mike Martz capitalized on his free time by planning his bye-week activities. While it nearly cost the Bears the game, it wasn't a total waste. Here are some of his ideas for Week 8.

* Schedule an appointment at Jiffy Helmet to get that pesky issue with the sideline radio worked out.

* My quarterback keeps telling me to eat a dick, why not expand some horizons? Get that big guy Rollo on the phone and make it a true bi-week!

* We're playing the Eagles, Lions, Chargers, Raiders and Chiefs over the next five games? Note to self: Call Rich Eisen, you know, just to stay on his radar in case the NFL Network could use an extra analyst in the offseason.

* Post my sweet Tebowing picture from the pool bathroom on LinkedIn.

Rushin' Attack
Thanks to his excellent play and, to some extent, the Titans' Chris Johnson's recent extension and subsequent suck-ass play, Matt Forte will likely be dishonored with the Bears 2012 franchise tag.

Let this be a lesson to you all. Showing up every day and working hard can cost you dearly . . . in the sense that you may receive between $7 million and $8 million in guaranteed money for one year of work.

Rock, Flag and Eagle
The Bears take on the Eagles in Philly this Monday in a match-up of quarterbacks who got publicly thrown under the bus by their friends. Sure, Jay Cutler's shaming during the NFC Championship Game didn't lead to a prison sentence, but isn't the e-scorn of Maurice Jones-Drew just as bad as shower rape?

In any case, all national broadcasters seem to be contractually obligated to slobber all over the "comebacks" of each team's signal callers, so this ought to be a game that features many redemption narratives in between the mysterious holding calls that give ESPN additional time to cram lucrative Dodge ads and plugs for the Disney-financed Tower Heist onto the air.

Kool-Aid (2 Out Of 5 Bottles Of Yuengling)
Sure, Philadelphia has a guy with the word "awesome" right in his name (Nnamdi Asomugha), a dude who actually ate a dog for breakfast this morning (Andy Reid) and I think Eminem is their starting running back, but the Eagles weren't counting on the fact that you need linebackers and an offensive line to win football games.

I mean, they actually forgot. The Philly active roster only had 45 guys on it after the fourth week of the preseason. The only reason that they were able to sign a full front seven was because Andy Reid won a hot dog eating contest and the fact that an Eagles exec found a guy on the "Casual Encounters" section of Craigslist who turned out to be six-foot-five.

Oddly, this game has playoff implications for both teams . . . in the sense that ESPN's Monday Night Football promos keep insisting that this game has playoff implications.

LeSean McCoy and Michael Vick will become the first quarterback/running back combo to rush for 400 yards in a game, but for some reason the Eagles will only score 12 points.

Bears 20, Eagles 12.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:08 AM | Permalink

November 2, 2011

The [Wednesday] Papers

I've been working on a Bill Cellini piece for a couple of weeks but I've been sidetracked by Occupy coverage and other things, so I'll reserve any Cellini commentary today for that post, which I expect to get up Thursday or Friday.

Meanwhile . . .

"A majority of the Chicago City Council fired off a letter to Mayor Rahm Emanuel on Tuesday, expressing concerns about the administration's proposed cuts to libraries, public health centers, graffiti removal teams and the city's 911 center," the Tribune reports.

Too bad the Tribune neither posted the letter on its website, leaving us instead with 23 excerpted words, nor bothered to tell readers which aldermen signed the letter.

The first offense is an offense to digital journalism; the second offense is an offense to Journalism 101.

It's also something that ingrained in the bizarre behavior of our local prints; I've written before about reports of newsworthy votes that don't bother to list who voted how.

It just boggles the mind.

*

The Sun-Times also didn't bother to tell readers which aldermen signed the letter. Hey, if the letter is newsworthy, isn't it also newsworthy to know just who signed it?

Even worse, the Sun-Times doesn't see fit to quote a single sentence for the letter, though it sees fit to quote an alderman and the city's budget director talking at length about the letter. Nice.

*

WBEZ, same thing.

Compare and Contrast
Stories about how underpaid Matt Forte is vs. stories about how underpaid American workers are.

Hyperbole of the Year
"It's almost like the Beatles being reunited."

- David Schuster of The Score prefacing a question at the Cubs press conference yesterday

And from his insightful (not) report:

"Each one of these guys is more polished and sharp then the other. Combined, they look like a New York law firm in how they dress and how they act, but most importantly, they know their stuff."

Where The 1% Live
In Chicago (duh), Lincoln Park. Also: Barrington.

Trainsipping
"Join Allie as she makes her way from Chicago to San Francisco & back again while sipping 60 wines in 6 days."

Police State
"We were at Lawrence's when the cops arrest and beat up guy and then threaten to beat us cuz we were recording."

School Cops
"This summer, CPS officials announced a cost-cutting move that they hoped would save $13 million: Offer high schools $25,000 in exchange for each police officer they agreed to give up," Sarah Karp reports for Catalyst.

The Emanuel administration sure is into offering cash incentives to schools. Bust out a longer instructional day, too, and schools can make a killing!

"Having officers assigned to schools for 8-hour shifts cost about $75,000 a year per officer, according to CPS. But while CPS eventually upped its offer, most high school principals' concerns over safety have led them to hold on to the two uniformed police officers that have traditionally been assigned to their schools."

Yeah, I don't really get the tradeoff - unless a school spent the cash on . . . security measures.

"Chief Administrative Officer Tim Cawley says that only four high school principals let go of both their officers and 12 gave up one. CPS officials declined to identify those principals that took CPS up on the cash offer, but emphasized the schools have safety plans in place to avoid any problems the loss of the police might bring."

This just strikes me as a downright weird way to go about budgeting and policy. I'm sure the Emanuel administration wouldn't like to have to answer questions about a tragic incident taking place at a school that had been bought out of its police officers.

And isn't it up to the administration anyway to decide? No cops or extra money!

I'm instinctually not a fan of cops in schools, but file this under fail.

Charter Police
Sticking with the theme . . .

"Mayor Rahm Emanuel's announcement Thursday that most charter schools eligible for the financial incentives to lengthen the day by 90 minutes was held in a charter school that already has a longer day - and one of the district's lowest performance levels."

Rahm has (predictably) gotten kudos from an adoring media for his frenetic, go-go style, but maybe he should slow down and give everyone a chance to think clearly before diving into the deep end of the pool.

Simon Sez
"According to Nacogdoches cops, 25-year-old Jeremy Myhres walked into an area Chevron Monday night, picked up an unspecified quantity of bottled beer, and attempted to leave without paying," the Houston Press reports.

"When the clerk gave chase to the gold-grilled brew-heister, Myhres turned and hurled one of the bottles at the clerk, striking him in the arm and causing him an injury that required an emergency room trip. Myhres thus made good his escape, but not for long, as police soon found him at a nearby apartment complex, no doubt a couple of brews into what he had hoped would be a free drunk."

And here's why you're reading about it here:

"He also apparently claims affiliation to the Simon City Royals, a 40-year-old Chicago-born street gang with a predominantly white membership and a stronghold on the Mississippi Gulf Coast."

From Wikipedia:

"The Simon City Royals, formally the Almighty Simon City Royal Nation, are a Chicago street gang which began in the late 1950s as Simon City, a greaser gang. They named themselves for Simons Park, which is located on the corner of Drake and Wabansia, in the Humboldt Park neighborhood where they originally formed."

Meat Man
"Omaha Steaks today proudly announced that Company Chairman and Fourth Generation Family Owner, Alan Simon, was inducted into the Meat Industry Hall of Fame at an Induction Ceremony held in Chicago on November 1."

When KISS (And Rush) Played Fremd High School
Blood on the gym floor in Palatine!

The Redistricting Song
Cracking, packing, hijacking and kidnapping.

Wage Theft in America
Employers breaking laws more serious than curfew.

Camtastic!
Better than Rodgers, Brees and Brady.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Skull-cracking.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:22 AM | Permalink

The Redistricting Song (And The Devil's Dictionary Dance)

First, the song. Then the dance.


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The Dance: The Devil's Dictionary
Redistricting should be a way of ensuring your vote counts. If all districts have roughly the same number of people in them and are drawn to respect natural communities - neighborhoods where people share a heritage, work in the same industry, or just generally feel tied to their neighbors - voters have a chance to be represented by politicians who represent their areas' collective interests.

To that end, states are required to redraw lines for districts, all the way from Congress to county boards of supervisors, every 10 years to reflect demographic changes.

But that's where theory meets the harsh reality. Instead of voters choosing politicians, redistricting at its worst lets politicians choose voters.

Communities can have their influence diluted or overly concentrated by line-drawers interested in partisan gain, limiting minorities' influence, or pleasing powerful interests. (See our earlier story, The Hidden Hands in Redistricting.) The right lines can all but guarantee an incumbent a decade's worth of electoral success, or alternatively can help send others into retirement.

Such shenanigans persist, despite the 1965 Voting Rights Act and subsequent legal decisions meant to limit them. Indeed, increased mapping technology and know-how have allowed for ever more subtle manipulation of district lines.

Here's a rundown of the realities of redistricting, and the terms used by critics and insiders alike:

Cracking: This technique splits a community into multiple districts to ensure it doesn't have significant sway with a candidate. In the ugly racial history of redistricting, cracking was often used to ensure that African-Americans could not elect African-American politicians. The Voting Rights Act banned racially motivated cracking, with some success. But cracking is still common, with the goal now frequently to fracture communities for partisan gain.

Austin: Texas Republicans, who control both the state legislature and the governor's office, approved very Republican-friendly congressional redistricting earlier this year. A case in point: liberal Austin, which the plan splits into six districts that radiate outward to encompass hundreds of miles of conservative suburban and rural territory. (The Justice Department recently moved in court to block the plan, but not because of cracking in Austin. Instead, the suit alleges, lawmakers tried deliberately to minimize the voices of minority voters. Lawyers defending the Texas plan on behalf of the state say it protects Latino incumbents and creates additional Latino-friendly districts.)

Rochester: In the 2000 redistricting cycle, slow population growth cost New York State two congressional seats. In a backroom deal, Republicans and Democrats agreed to eliminate one seat each. As part of the deal, Democrat-friendly city of Rochester was creatively sliced into multiple districts so it would be represented by one Republican and one Democrat.

The 28th District is a wide and narrow ribbon along Lake Ontario that incorporates parts of Rochester and Buffalo, 75 miles away, and is represented by Democratic Congresswoman Louise Slaughter. The 29th District lumps another piece of Rochester into an Appalachian mountain district that spans 100 miles south, represented by Republican Tom Reed. New York is still in the midst of its latest redistricting, and it's an open question whether Rochester will be made whole again.

Packing: When faced with too many unfriendly voters, it can also be a winning strategy to limit the damage by drawing them all into one district. The benefit for you is there are fewer of the voters you don't want in all the surrounding districts. When race is involved, redistricting pros call it bleaching.

Voters in the packed district often lose out because no matter how large their influence in the district, they can only have sway with one representative. If the community members were spread over more districts, and had significant population in each, they could have the ear of multiple politicians.

Orlando, Gainesville, Jacksonville: Florida's 3rd Congressional District scoops African-American neighborhoods out of three cities to form a district that has mostly swampland in between. Districts like this one, created in the 1990 redistricting cycle, helped African-American congressional candidates win historic victories. But the districts surrounding it are now much whiter, and thus more Republican, than ever before. Many credit the 1990 redistricting with turning Florida from a blue state to a red state.

Birmingham, Montgomery: At 62 percent African-American, the Alabama 7th Congressional District was already a safe minority district. But when the Republican-controlled state legislature redistricted this year, they extended the district's tendrils further into Birmingham and Montgomery to carve out African-American neighborhoods and create a 64 percent African-American district. The result: The surrounding districts now have almost no African-American voters. Previously competitive, the districts are now safely Republicans.

Hijacking: If there's an incumbent you don't like, you can make their re-election difficult by putting them in a district with another incumbent to contend with. If you don't like either incumbent in the newly drawn district, even better, because only one can be re-elected. If the two incumbents are from your rival party, you can force a costly primary battle, weakening your likely opponent before general election.

Cleveland, Toledo: Which brings us to the curious case of Reps. Marcy Kaptur and Dennis Kucinich. Ideological kindred spirits, friends, and now incumbents in the same oddly-shaped district. A district the Republican state legislature appears to have designed by drawing a straight line connecting the two representatives' homes, 110 miles apart, in Toledo and Cleveland. Republicans in Ohio's state legislature have defended the new district maps, saying they don't break any laws.

Kidnapping: Most politicians have geographic political bases; places they came up in politics where they have supporters, political allies, donors and name recognition. But what if their home address ends up in a different district than their base? That can make re-election tough, as North Carolina Congressman Brad Miller is about to find out. A new district boundary adopted by the state legislature there elegantly sweeps out to cut his home in Raleigh out of his old district. Republicans in the state have said that gaining congressional seats is a goal of their redistricting effort

Gerrymandering: Taken together, all of these handy techniques are known by this most famous redistricting term. In 1812, a Massachusetts governor named Eldridge Gerry was blamed for a redistricting plan designed to weaken the influence of the opposition Federalist party. The map, drawn to favor the Democratic-Republicans, included a long, squiggly district wrapped around the other districts like a salamander. The district, immortalized by a famous political cartoon, was dubbed the "gerry-mander." (This was not fair to Gerry, since he was was not actually responsible for the map.) Gerrymandering has become the term of choice for all misbehavior in redistricting, but particularly refers to districts drawn in bizarre, wandering shapes for the benefit of particular politicians. A special subset of this is the sweetheart gerrymander, where incumbents of different parties collude to draw districts that make sure everyone stays in office.

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See this at ProPublica for maps we couldn't reproduce here that depict the heinousness.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:29 AM | Permalink

Wage Theft in America

"While crowds seeking economic justice occupy Wall Street and other cities, an interfaith movement has been busy winning victories and making allies in the effort to end wage theft. Kim Bobo tells that hope-filled story in her newly revised and expanded version of Wage Theft in America: Why Millions of Americans are not Getting Paid and What We Can Do About It.

The book is being released this month, in conjunction with the National Wage Theft Days of Action scheduled for Nov. 17-20.

Bobo, Executive Director of Interfaith Worker Justice, says few people in media or government were paying attention to "wage theft" in 2008, the year her book was first published. But she says, "A lot of progress has been made since then."

New chapters tell the story of anti-wage theft state and local laws. In the past 18 months alone, legislation has been passed in Texas, San Francisco, Seattle and Miami-Dade County. These efforts were spearheaded by coalitions of interfaith religious leaders, worker advocates, ethical business leaders and worker centers.

Workers have recovered hundreds of thousands of dollars from employers who stole their wages.

"These recovered wages," Bobo says, "are dollars those workers can spend in their communities. Employers who are being forced to pay back taxes are putting money into government coffers, money to pay teachers and fire fighters. And ethical businesses no longer have to compete with those who cheat to get ahead. What could be a better economic stimulus plan than that?"

Another new chapter in Bobo's book tells the story of ethical business leaders like Stan Marek, president and CEO of a family of large building and construction firms operating primarily in Texas. Marek operates in an industry notorious for wage theft. He says it's hard competing against employers who can underbid him because they're stealing from their workers. But he believes wage theft threatens the industry he grew up in. Plus, he says, it's just wrong. "If we care about our workers," Marek says, "we've got to see that folks are paid better."

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Kim Bobo, founder and Executive Director of Interfaith Worker Justice, is scheduled to testify before the U.S. House of Representatives Subcommittee on Workforce Protection this Thursday, Nov. 3.

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"Whether failing to pay minimum wage or overtime - or committing outright fraud against the government by misclassifying as 'independent contractors' workers who are clearly employees - they are stealing, says Bobo."

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Previously:
* Wage Theft. The executive summary of Unregulated Work in Chicago.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:02 AM | Permalink

When KISS Played Fremd High School (With Rush As An Opener)

It was a Saturday night in April 1975 when the Fremd Vikings' booster club got a little more than they bargained for. The boosters had hired KISS to play a fundraiser - see more on that below - and while the boosters were aghast they had also unknowingly contributed to local rock history.

ChicagoArchive just uploaded these photos along with audio from "the kid who took the pics" at a meet-and-greet" and apparently recorded the soundcheck.


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How It Happened:

"[T]he boosters had decided to have a fund raiser . . . They had the students vote on the act that would raise the funds . . . The winner: Kiss. Along with Kiss on the tour was a Canadian band called Rush. These two bands, just a couple of years later would go on to sell out stadiums.

"So Gene Simmons took his blood spewing, make-up wearing, flame shooting, tongue wagging rock show to Fremd High School's gymnasium. It is safe to say that the boosters didn't investigate what was included with the travelling circus . . .

"During the show, the Viking at center court of the gym was set on fire, a security officer had his gun lifted, and the geriatrics hired to watch the kids were left mouths agape as Gene SImmons flicked his footlong tongue in beast-like lust."

The Setlist:

1) Deuce
2) Strutter
3) Got to Choose
4) Hotter Than Hell
5) Firehouse
6) She
7) Ace Frehley Solo
8) Nothin' to Lose

Rush:

Rush was on their Fly By Night tour on which they also opened for Aerosmith and The Tubes.

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Comments welcome.

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1. From Jeffrey Schroeder:

I graduated from Fremd in the spring of 1975; missed the Kiss concert but knew something wild happened that Saturday night when during our Monday morning gym class it smelled like we were running inside a giant bong.

2. From Dave Lampson:

I was at this concert. Went with some friends who wanted to see Kiss, and then was blown away by Rush. The pyrotechnics at the concert weren't unexpected: the Fire Marshall was there. There were two columns of flame, one on either side of the stage. I can't speak to the accuracy of other comments in the last paragraph, but the "Viking at center court of the gym was set on fire" is highly doubtful. They put down a covering on the gym floor to protect the hardwood. You can see a picture here.

The only untoward occurrence I know happened before the doors opened. The crowd grew early, and the crush of people at the entrance where we were was enough to actually damage the doors.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:20 AM | Permalink

Fantasy Fix: A Camtastic First Half

This column is not about Tim Tebow.

If you're still reading, it is about a QB who has passed for more yards than Aaron Rodgers, has more total TDs than Tom Brady or Drew Brees, and who has run for yards than any QB except Michael Vick.

Cam Newton, QB, Carolina, is my choice for fantasy football MVP for the season's first half.

Newton has passed for 2,393 yards so far, 20 more than Rodgers, though you are right in assuming Rodgers has had his bye week already, and Newton's doesn't come until this week. Still.

Newton has 18 total TDs, seven of them on the run, and has 319 yards rushing, with Vick about 100 ahead, and none other than Tebow about 150 behind. It goes without saying that Newton also was the best rookie of the first half.

Newton started the season with blowout stats, passing for more than 400 yards two weeks in a row. We all expected him to cool down after that, and he did, but only a little.

And, in some ways, he got better as he ended the first half with no INTs in his last eight quarters.

It's hard to say if Newton can put up fantasy MVP stats the rest of the season, but looking ahead to next year and barring a major collapse, Newton could easily graduate to become a second-round fantasy pick next year, and a top seven QB.

Here are the rest of my first half favorites:

RB: LeSean McCoy, Philadelphia.

More resilient than Arian Foster and simply more productive than Adrian Peterson, with 754 yards rushing and 10 TDs thus far.

WR: Calvin Johnson, Detroit.

Eleven TDs receiving does it for me, though this is the toughest category, with Steve Smith, Carolina, closing in on 1,000 yards, thanks to Newton.

TE: Jimmy Graham, New Orleans.

Still a bit of a sleeper when the season starter, he became the Saints' top receiver after Marques Colston was injured.

K: Jason Hanson, Detroit.

Twenty-six PATs and 16 FGs, including four from 50-plus yards.

DEF: Baltimore Ravens.

Ray Lewis and company still bring the pain every game. Fewest points allowed, most sacks, enough said, though San Francisco gets an honorable mention.

IDP: Jared Allen, Minnesota.

Thirteen sacks in eight games has people once again talking about Allen as a one-man wrecking crew.

Expert Wire
* Bleacher Report urges you to start LaGarrette Blount, RB, Tampa, even though he's just returning from injury, essentially because he's now the only backfield option for Tampa.

* Yahoo! Sports recommends starting the Dallas defense the week after it was pasted for 34 points, mainly because of the match-up against woeful Seattle.

* Yahoo! Pickups of the Week suggests Javon Ringer, RB, Tennessee, for those of you who have finally given up on Chris Johnson.

* The Cover Two likes fast-rising Steeler WR Antonio Brown, who shockingly appears to be taking catches away from Mike Wallace.

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Dashing Dan O'Shea welcomes your comments.


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:43 AM | Permalink

November 1, 2011

The [Tuesday] Papers

No column today, but please enjoy these fine pieces:

* Songs of the Occupation: Johnny 99.

Like several other songs on the Nebraska album, "Johnny 99" is a song about complete despair. It has direct links with certain songs on Nebraska: the protagonist in "Johnny 99" notes that he has "debts no honest man could pay," repeating a line used by the protagonist in "Atlantic City", and, like the title song, "Johnny 99" is about a murderer - though rather than being a psychopath like the protagonist in the title song, "Johnny 99" is motivated by his economic circumstances.

* Mark Suppelsa Is A News Man You Can Trust Because He Used To Bring His Trumpet To Cubs Games.

The right skill set for TV, but for journalism?

* The [Herman Cain] Papers.

He was a front-page Tribune profile subject 24 years ago.

* Extreme Snowmobiling In Wrigleyville.

The competition will take place on one of the most jaw-dropping courses that the sport has ever seen. Thousands of cubic yards of woodchips, dirt and turf will be laid to the asphalt beneath three mammoth steel ramps. Between flips, grabs and big-air tricks, the unrelenting series of kickers will let riders ferociously vie for victory in front of captivated onlookers, and a panel of heavyweight judges.

* Leinie's Re-Releases "Big Eddy" Russian Imperial Stout; Blazes Trail For Three New Big Eddy Brews In 2012.

Inspired by the Big Eddy Spring, the lifeline of the Leinenkugel's brewery in Chippewa Falls, Wis. since 1867, the Big Eddy brand offers big beer fans complex, yet balanced flavors beyond the mainstream. The Russian Imperial Stout, only available November to January, is a deep mahogany brew featuring dark fruit, espresso and mocha character and finishing with toffee and molasses notes.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Like sugar.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 1:59 PM | Permalink

The [Herman Cain] Papers

Seeing as how the National Restaurant Association's annual show at McCormick Place is kind of the big dog of the local convention industry, I thought it would be interesting - in light of recent allegations - to dive into the ol' database and see what kind of notice Herman Cain received in the local press in and around the time that he was the NRA's chief executive officer.

Truthfully, there isn't much. But he was famously loud during the debate over health care reform during the Clinton administration, which is reflected here. (It turns out Cain had actually voted for Clinton). And at the end, a pre-NRA profile of Cain that ran on the Tribune's front page.

Headline: Health Reform: Restaurateurs Taste Victory
Publication: Sun-Times
Date: February 14, 1994
Excerpt:

Fresh off three major hits to the Clinton administration's health reform plan, restaurateurs are tasting victory.

Herman Cain, president of Godfather's Pizza and president-elect of the National Restaurant Association, was in Chicago last week to rally association members after the Congressional Budget Office, U.S. Chamber of Commerce and Business Roundtable all delivered painful shots to the plan.

"To hear the trade associations take the position we took, it re-energized me," said Cain , halfway through a lobbying tour to two dozen cities.

With passion and pathos, the poor-boy-from-Atlanta-turned-eloquent CEO struck a chord with the entrepreneurial crowd that, like society as a whole, recently survived recession and loathes government bureaucracy.

He likened the president's proposal to cutting off both a patient's arms to cure a hangnail.

"This issue isn't about saving Godfather's. It's about saving the economy of our country," Cain said.

Clinton supporters are cranking up their own lobbying efforts, and the CBO analysis does predict the plan will bring long-term deficit reduction and corporate savings by the turn of the century.

But Clinton is demanding that all Americans be covered, which is a problem to business groups who are lining up behind the Cooper-Grandy proposal, which does not include business mandates.

[...]

Trying to counter theories that companies will simply increase prices to pay for the program instead of firing workers, Cain said that Godfather's would have to boost the price for his chain's most expensive pizza to $35 from $13.99.

"This was frightening. It confirmed what we feared," Liz Hebson said of the meeting. But not surprising to Hebson and her family, which owns the Hackney's restaurants in the northern suburbs.

Hebson has calculated that insuring all of Hackey's 300 workers will cost $260,000 per year, even with a 7.9 percent payroll cap.

Scarier still: Another $900,000 in premiums will be paid by the government for her workers if the caps hold.

"When you look at the fine print, this stinks to high heaven," said Hebson, who has testified before a congressional committee on the plan and who says she was in favor of health reform when first proposed.

*

Headline: Full Plate for Restaurants - Spending Up, But Issues Loom
Publication: Sun-Times
Date: May 16, 1994
Excerpt:

On the cost side of the equation, the biggest issue to grapple with is health care reform, particularly because two-thirds of restaurant workers are part-time employees and not covered by employer programs.

The industry supports various components of several proposals, but says an employer mandate would unfairly penalize an industry that is dominated by small businesses and has a high employee turnover rate.

Cain, for instance, estimates that the 1.5 percent return rate at Godfather's Pizza would be eclipsed by the cost of President Clinton's health care proposal.

Despite the increased complexity of the industry, Cain said he regularly receives calls from entrepreneurs who want to open a restaurant and realize the American Dream. He understands such talk, but he advises against it.

"With the economy going through the infrastructure changes it's going through, people are looking for alternate careers," Cain said. "But every time you see a new restaurant opening, another one closes that you don't see."

*

Headline: Old-Fashioned Views Suddenly in Vogue
Publication: Sun-Times
Date: January 17, 1995
Excerpt:

Cain, a former dishwasher who's now president and chief executive of Godfather's Pizza, said 60 percent of restaurant owners started at entry level.

*

Headline: Rivals Face Off In N.C., Georgia
Publication: AP story in the Tribune
Date: Jul 21, 2004
Excerpt:

Rep. Johnny Isakson, a veteran politician who took Newt Gingrich's old seat in Congress, won the Republican primary Tuesday to succeed maverick Democratic Sen. Zell Miller, whose retirement has given the GOP an excellent opportunity to pick up a Senate seat in right-leaning Georgia.

Isakson is the immediate front-runner in November against either freshman Rep. Denise Majette or businessman Cliff Oxford, who will face each other in a runoff in three weeks after finishing one-two in the Democratic primary.

With 93 percent of precincts reporting, Isakson had 53 percent, followed by former Godfather's Pizza CEO Herman Cain, who had 27 percent. Six-term Rep. Mac Collins was in third with 20 percent.

[...]

Cain was only the second black person since Reconstruction to run for a top state office in Georgia as a Republican. His rock-ribbed conservative message and impassioned delivery style wowed audiences, but it was not enough against Isakson, a longtime legislator who lost the 1990 governor's race to Miller.

*

Headline: Godfather's Gets Well On Some Fatherly Therapy
Publication: Tribune
Date: September 28, 1987

When Herman Cain arrived here on April Fool's Day, 1986, to breathe life back into a bleeding and battered Godfather's Pizza, the company was awash more in red ink than tomato sauce.

The company had been torn by fractious relations between the chain's management and its franchisees. A spate of franchisee lawsuits were pending when Pillsbury bought Diversifoods Inc., the former parent of Godfather's, in May, 1985.

Jeff Campbell, chairman of Pillsbury Co.'s restaurant group, recalled what Godfather's was like:

"We had a desperately sick company, but there were some signs of potential. With so much franchisee litigation, even if we wanted to get rid of it, we might not have been able to. We decided to give it a shot."

That shot was delivered in the person of Cain. When he arrived, the chain, with 900 restaurants, "had one foot in the grave and the other on a banana peel," Cain said.

Sales had been plummeting for three straight years while pizza sales were soaring for the competition.

"We were going south when everyone else was going north," said Cain, 41, Godfather's president.

"All I knew was that Godfather's had a lot of trouble with franchisees, but they had a good, quality product. I did know that pizza was an opportunity."

Indeed, pizza has been growing faster in recent years than other restaurant concepts, pushed by consumer demands for convenience and nutrition. But Godfather's had failed to follow the pack.

"The feeling (at Pillsbury) to dump Godfather's was pretty strong," Cain recalled. "The perception was that the company needed to be in pizza, but it wasn't certain if Godfather's was the right vehicle."

Cain moved quickly.

"We closed some company stores that weren't making it," he said. "Some franchisees didn't have the confidence that we could come back. We didn't take the posture that they should stick it out.

"We only wanted the ones that believed in our inherent strengths and believed we could bring it back again."

The cutbacks slimmed Godfather's down from more than 900 units to 600, about one-third of which are company stores.

Godfather's had had a checkered career before it was bought by Pillsbury. Founded in 1973, it had grown rapidily and merged with Chart House Inc. in 1983 to form Diversifoods Inc., a company which soon foundered amidst executive bickering, lawsuits from franchisees and aggressive expansion.

When Pillsbury bought Diversifoods, it was moving to protect its 377 Burger King restaurants, according to John McMillin, an analyst with Prudential-Bache Securities Inc. in New York.

"The value of Diversifoods was its ownership of the Burger Kings, and the deal made sense without Godfather's," McMillin said. "Pillsbury got Godfather's for nothing, and some said they got what they paid for."

But Pillsbury is to be congratulated for healing a sick company, McMillin said.

"Pillsbury was not afraid to take the time and effort to nurse it back to health," he said. "Not many people want to fix things. If it's sick, get rid of it-that has become the mentality of Wall Street."

But the fixing was not done overnight.

"I sat down with the top 20 people here and asked what they felt could be done to improve things," said Cain, whose background was in Pillsbury's 4,700-unit Burger King chain. "I'm not a rocket scientist, but I can formulate the ideas of others."

That included ideas from outside the company as well.

Aware of the phenomenal success that Domino's Pizza Inc., based in Ann Arbor, Mich., has had with its 30-minute delivery business, Godfather's soon began test-marketing delivery in Seattle, where it has its largest presence with some 55 restaurants.

"Delivery represents one of the major components for growth," Cain said. "Last year we had delivery in 20 percent of our units; now it's about 85 percent."

Cain brought in Charlie Henderson from Burger King to be his vice president in charge of advertising. Henderson had helped Cain turn Burger King around in Philadelphia.

The company blamed the chaotic state of relations with its franchisees for slumping sales. There was little of the discipline needed among franchisees to assure a consistent, quality product.

For instance, there were dozens of companies supplying flour to franchisees. That number has now been pared down and distributors must be approved by Godfather's.

"I told the franchisees that I would be flexible on such things as getting up to scratch to maintain a certain image, to paying back royalties, and to putting in delivery," Cain said. "But I told them there would be no compromise on quality."

Besides instituting delivery, Cain decided to bolster lunch-hour sales with the sale of Hot Slices. Hot Slices are individually boxed pizza slices that sell for about $1.55, with a large combination of toppings.

If the Hot Slice isn't ready within two minutes of a customer's order, it's free. That may sound a bit reminiscent of the five-minute lunch guaranteed by another Godfather's rival, Pizza Hut, the PepsiCo Inc. subsidiary and pizza industry leader with about 5,000 units.

Since its introduction more than a year ago, Hot Slice has boosted sales 10 percent, Cain said.

Godfather's has also introduced a 2-for-1 promotion. That might remind consumers of the 2-for-1 promotion that has made Little Caesars Enterprises the leader in carryout pizza.

Cain points out that Godfather's 2-for-1 pizzas are several dollars more expensive than Little Caesars, but he says greater quality justifies the higher price.

"The customer has to decide if he wants to spend $11 for Godfather's quality or $9 for Little Caesars quality. The 2-for-1 is another tactic, and it's working," Cain said.

Keeping an eye on all the fast-food competition, not just pizza, has led Godfather's to introduce prepackaged salads in some company restaurants.

That move takes a page from McDonald's Corp.'s success book. Oak Brook- based McDonald's has been very successful with its prepackaged salads, while other fast-food operators have stumbled with their salad bars because many customers want to take their salads with them.

The results of Cain's innovations translated into a 10 percent sales increase at the company-owned stores in the fiscal year that ended May 31, he said. Franchisee sales were up just "slightly less," he said, declining to reveal a percentage.

"Godfather's is on a roll and is the one bright spot in a whole Pillsbury network of restaurants," McMillin said.

In addition, the firm has posted 46 consecutive weeks of increased sales.

"We've seen a total turnaround," said Campbell, chairman of Pillsbury's restaurant group. "The (Godfather) group has gotten a little smaller, but we have healthier franchises and the company has turned profitable again. I'm not sure we don't have a growth vehicle there, and Herman gets the credit."

For this year, Cain is predicting another double-digit sales increase. And Cain is talking to Campbell about expanding the company's restaurants next year.

As the godfather at Godfather's, Cain plans to make Campbell a proposition he can't refuse.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 11:31 AM | Permalink

Extreme Snowmobiling In Wrigleyville

Eight of the globe's top snowmobilers are descending upon Wrigleyville for Red Bull Fuel and Fury, a freestyle snowmobile competition that will take place outside of iconic Wrigley Field. The event, which will send competitors soaring against the night skyline, will mark the first time that extreme snowmobiling has touched ground in the heart of Chicago.

The competition will take place on one of the most jaw-dropping courses that the sport has ever seen. Thousands of cubic yards of woodchips, dirt and turf will be laid to the asphalt beneath three mammoth steel ramps. Between flips, grabs and big-air tricks, the unrelenting series of kickers will let riders ferociously vie for victory in front of captivated onlookers, and a panel of heavyweight judges. The competition will be judged in a double eliminated bracket.

WHERE: Just outside of Wrigley Field, in the lot on Clark Street between Addison and Waveland. Entrance will be at the corner of Clark and Waveland.

WHEN: Saturday, November 5, 2011. Gates: 5 PM Competition: 6 PM.

WHO: Seven-time Winter X Games medalist Levi LaVallee will host the competition alongside a judges panel of five industry superstars. Eight top snowmobilers from around the globe will compete, including Winter X Games gold medalists Daniel Bodin and Heath Frisby as well as all-stars Cory Davis, Eric St. John, Fred Rassmussen, Ted Culbertson, Jimmy Fejas and Jeff Mullin.

ADMISSION: Free tickets (required for entry) are available at www.redbullusa.com/fuelandfury

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See also:

"Fred Rasmusen in front of the lens warming up for this coming weekend's Red Bull Fuel & Fury event that will take place in front of Wrigley Field."

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 11:09 AM | Permalink

Mark Suppelsa Is A News Man You Can Trust Because He Used To Bring His Trumpet To Cubs Games

The right skill set for TV, but for journalism?


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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:54 AM | Permalink

Songs Of The Occupation: Johnny 99

Debts no honest man could pay.

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Song: "Johnny 99"

Artist: Bruce Springsteen

Recorded: January 3, 1982

Released: September 30, 1982

Length: 3:44

Album:Nebraska

Wikipedia: Like several other songs on the Nebraska album, "Johnny 99" is a song about complete despair. It has direct links with certain songs on Nebraska: the protagonist in "Johnny 99" notes that he has "debts no honest man could pay," repeating a line used by the protagonist in "Atlantic City", and, like the title song, "Johnny 99" is about a murderer - though rather than being a psychopath like the protagonist in the title song, "Johnny 99" is motivated by his economic circumstances.

*

The background of the song is based on a real life incident, the closing in 1980 of a Ford Motor Company plant in Mahwah, which had been open since 1955. The song also has antecedents in two folk songs that appeared on the box set Anthology of American Folk Music: Julius Daniels' "99 Year Blues" and Carter Family's "John Hardy Was a Desperate Little Man."

*

During a September 22, 1984 Born in the U.S.A. Tour concert in Pittsburgh, Springsteen used the introduction to "Johnny 99" to respond to President Reagan referencing the message of hope in Bruce Springsteen's songs, stating "The President was mentioning my name the other day, and I kinda got to wondering what his favorite album musta been. I don't think it was the Nebraska album. I don't think he's been listening to this one."

Songfacts: Springsteen recorded this as a 4-track demo in his home. He put his vocals and guitar on the first two tracks, and used the remaining two for overdubs.

*

The judge who sentences Johnny 99 is named "John Brown," which is also the name of the sheriff in Bob Marley's "I Shot The Sheriff." Bob Dylan also has a song called "John Brown," about a man who goes to war and comes back wounded.

*

Since Springsteen did not tour to support the album Nebraska, the first time he played this in concert was on the Born In The U.S.A. tour two years later.

*

Covers: In 2000, Los Lobos performed this on Badlands, a tribute album of songs from the album Nebraska.

*

Punk rock band The Loved Ones covered the song on their Distractions EP.

*

Johnny Cash covered "Johnny 99" and Springsteen's "Highway Patrolman" for a record he titled Johnny 99.

Lyrics:

Well they closed down the auto plant in Mahwah late that month
Ralph went out lookin' for a job but he couldn't find none
He came home too drunk from mixin' Tanqueray and wine
He got a gun shot a night clerk now they call'm Johnny 99

Down in the part of town where when you hit a red light you don't stop
Johnny's wavin' his gun around and threatenin' to blow his top
When an off-duty cop snuck up on him from behind
Out in front of the Club Tip Top they slapped the cuffs on Johnny 99

Well the city supplied a public defender but the judge was Mean John Brown
He came into the courtroom and stared young Johnny down
Well the evidence is clear gonna let the sentence son fit the crime
Prison for 98 and a year and we'll call it even Johnny 99

A fistfight broke out in the courtroom they had to drag Johnny's girl away
His mama stood up and shouted "Judge don't take my boy this way"
Well son you got a statement you'd like to make
Before the bailiff comes to forever take you away

Now judge judge I had debts no honest man could pay
The bank was holdin' my mortgage and they was takin' my house away
Now I ain't sayin' that makes me an innocent man
But it was more 'n all this that put that gun in my hand

Well your honor I do believe I'd be better off dead
And if you can take a man's life for the thoughts that's in his head
Then won't you sit back in that chair and think it over judge one more time
And let 'em shave off my hair and put me on that execution line

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The original:

*

Born in the USA tour:

*

Rocking it out, Hyde Park, London: June 28, 2009:

*

Los Lobos:

*

The Loved Ones:

*

Johnny Cash:

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See also:
* Songs of the Occupation: To Have And To Have Not

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* Song of the Moment: Anarchy in the U.K.
* Song of the Moment: Ballad of a Thin Man

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And From The Beachwood Occupation Affairs Desk:
* Occupy Chicago. Occupy The Nation.

* The Week in Occupy Chicago

* Occupy America

* We've Got The Guillotine!

* Occupying The Hyatt; Trashing Bank Of America

* Why No One Believes The Banks

* Occupy CNN

* RT's Superior Cable News Coverage Continues With Its 'Occupy Wall Street' Reportage

* The Weekend in Occupy Chicago (October 17, 2011)

* Just How Much Can the State Restrict Peaceful Protest

* Blue Ribbon Glee Club Joins The Occupation

* The Week in Occupy Chicago (Oct. 21, 2011)

* The Weekend in Occupy Chicago (Oct. 24, 2011)

* Jimmy Fallon (& Friends) For The 1%

* Today In Occupy Chicago (Oct. 26, 2011)

* Occupation Diary: The Horse, Keith Sweat And Cell 72

* The Week in Occupy Chicago (Oct. 28, 2011)

* Wall Street to Occupy Chicago: Drop Dead

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 4:07 AM | Permalink

Leinie's Re-Releases "Big Eddy" Russian Imperial Stout; Blazes Trail For Three New Big Eddy Brews In 2012

Beer aficionados, wine enthusiasts, home brewers and other taste-adventurers are about to get a hearty helping of Big Eddy brews from Leinenkugel's.

The Jacob Leinenkugel Brewing Company, which has only sparingly offered its Big Eddy beer in the past, last week announced the return of its Russian Imperial Stout, the first in a series of Big Eddy brews in the works. In 2012, Big Eddy fans can look forward to three brand new robust brews in this craft series: a Double India Pale Ale, a Baltic Porter, and a Scotch Ale.

Inspired by the Big Eddy Spring, the lifeline of the Leinenkugel's brewery in Chippewa Falls, Wis. since 1867, the Big Eddy brand offers big beer fans complex, yet balanced flavors beyond the mainstream. The Russian Imperial Stout, only available November to January, is a deep mahogany brew featuring dark fruit, espresso and mocha character and finishing with toffee and molasses notes.

BigEddy4-pack.203908.jpg

"At Leinenkugel's, we are always looking for new characteristics and flavor profiles to share and our Big Eddy brews offer big beer fans something more to explore for a dynamic flavor experience," said Jake Leinenkugel, fifth-generation brewer and president of the Jacob Leinenkugel Brewing Company. "The Russian Imperial Stout is a big beer with a rich history and we hope Big Eddy enthusiasts will join us to taste the second batch this year along with three new brews in 2012."

Big Eddy Russian Imperial Stout ages well and is reminiscent of the 18th-century Russian Imperial Stout style that contained extra malts and hops to act as preservatives during long voyages from England to Russia, where it was served in the royal court. Brewed with 11 different malts including Munich, Carmel, Chocolate, classic Pale and Pale Ale, this Russian Imperial Stout provides a rich, dry character, perfectly balancing Big Eddy's hoppy assertiveness. Warrior, Summit and Glacier hops create a bold tribute to the characteristic intensity of the flavor.

Big Eddy Russian Imperial Stout will be available in Wisconsin, Minnesota, Illinois, Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, Kentucky, Iowa, North Dakota, South Dakota, Georgia, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Washington D.C., Virginia, Kansas, Indiana, Kentucky, Texas, and Arizona. The stout, which is 9.5 percent ABV, will be available in four-pack bottles and on draft for a limited time.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:28 AM | Permalink

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