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« May 2012 | Main | July 2012 »

June 30, 2012

The Weekend Desk Report

Weekend Desk Editor Natasha Julius is on a mission of national import. She will return next week.

The Public Safety Report
"The clock runs out on Chicago's Police Department and Fire Department union contracts Saturday night, but don't expect any difference in how cops and firefighters respond to emergencies around the city if the deal remains unresolved," the Tribune reports.

But the ticket-writing and rig-washing will become particularly angry.

The Suburban Areas Report
"Chicago-style corruption has afflicted more than 60 suburbs in Cook County . . . and has snared more than 100 public officials and police officers, including 17 mayors and village presidents," according to a report released this week.

Awww, cute! Mall cops go bad too.

The Fourth of July Report
Just a reminder: Like guns, fireworks are illegal in the City of Chicago.

*

Yes, guns are now legal under certain conditions in Chicago homes, though not on Chicago's streets. If you don't like the joke, go on the Internet and complain.

The City Sticker Report
"City stickers expire today," WGN-TV reports, "however, there is a two-week grace period before ticketing begins."

In other words, city stickers expire on July 14.

The Drug Market Report
If this is where you shop, adjust your weekend plans accordingly.

The Friday News Dump Report
"The Emanuel administration released the [NATO bill] information on Friday, typically a day when City Hall puts out news it wants buried, in response to a Freedom of Information request filed last month by the Chicago Sun-Times," the paper reports.

"City Hall did not release the information the newspaper requested for the number of city employees who worked during the summit and the individual overtime payments to those workers . . . "

*

"The White House released its annual report to Congress on staff salaries," Politico reports. "At 4:39 p.m. on Friday.

"A quick review found the White House payroll appears to have grown since last year, going from $37.1 million in 2011 to $37.8 million in 2012. The number of employees listed also grew - from 454 last year to 468 in 2012.

"White House officials did not immediately respond to a message seeking explanation of the growth. Overall, the payroll has shrunk since 2009, when it totaled $39.1 million."

Don't Worry, Be Happy
Pat Quinn and his fellow Democratic governors channel George H. W. Bush. (h/t: Cap Fax, with photo.)

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The Weekend Desk Tip Line: Rah.

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The Flying Saucer Weekend Brunch Report: Summer Cobb, Red Velvet.

The Sound Opinions Weekend Listening Report: "Van Hunt and his band stop by the studio to perform songs from his latest independent release What Were You Hoping For? And later, Jim and Greg butt heads over pop chanteuse Fiona Apple's new album, The Idler Wheel . . . "

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

Perspectivas Latinas: Central States SER

6-25-CentralStateSER.jpg

Central States SER Executive Director Guadalupe Preston highlights the organization's work promoting economic self-sufficiency and upward mobility for low-income community residents through education and employment.

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

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The Future of Risk

6-25-FutureOfRisk.jpg

University of Chicago professionals from insurance, law, and risk-management fields discuss whether governments will focus on predicting and minimizing risk or if they will shift towards supporting riskier behaviors in the modern economy.

Sunday, July 1 at 9 a.m. on CAN TV21
2 hr 30 min

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Logan Square Neighborhood Association's 50th Anniversary Congress

6-25-50thAnniversary-2.jpg

This celebration of the community development organization highlights its accomplishments in promoting the growth and vitality of the Logan Square area.

Sunday, July 1 at 11:30 a.m. on CAN TV21
2 hr

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Protecting Fair Courts in a Citizens United World

6-25-CitizensUnited.jpg

Judges and judicial experts discuss ways to minimize the impact of campaign contributions on the selection of judges and their rulings.

Sunday, July 1 at 1:30 p.m. on CAN TV21
2 hr

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Working Together to Prevent Wrongful Convictions

6-25-WrongfulConvictions.jpg

Former Cook County State's Attorney Richard Devine joins a panel addressing the problem of wrongful convictions in Illinois, current reforms and what additional preventative steps can be taken.

Sunday, July 1 at 3:30 p.m. on CAN TV21
1 hr 30 min

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Chicago Afro-Puerto Rican Ensemble Concert

6-25-ChicagoAfro-sm.jpg

Chicago's "first Bomba & Plena Orchestra" performs their fusion of Puerto Rican ancestral rhythms, jazz, blues, rock, and more.

Sunday, July 1 at 5 p.m. on CAN TV19
1 hr 30 min


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 2:56 AM | Permalink

June 29, 2012

The [Friday] Papers

Illinois just cut $1.6 billion in Medicaid spending in part by tightening up eligibility and leaving thousands of needy citizens on the sidelines. Now, under Obamacare, Medicaid eligibility will be expanded, as explained in part by the Tribune this morning.

The good news, in a manner of speaking, is that the federal government will pick up the costs of the Medicaid expansion through 2016, when states will have to start contributing to the additional cost.

And that's when things may get ugly - though they'll get uglier much sooner for states that opt out of the expansion.

One result may be the eventual full takeover of Medicaid by the federal government, which is probably where Medicaid should reside anyway.

*

"Some health care providers added that Medicaid expansion alone won't remedy systemic problems with health care delivery," the Tribune reports.

"'We have fewer and fewer providers in Illinois who will accept Medicaid payment for provision of services,' said Dr. Claudia Fegan, past president of the Chicago-based Physicians for a National Health Program, which advocates a single-payer system. 'It's like giving somebody a credit card with no credit on it . . . You're going to tell people, Now you're entitled to health care, but they can't go anyplace to get that care. People are already struggling to find a provider who will accept Medicaid.'"

*

"About 100,000 of [Cook] county's poorest residents could gain Medicaid coverage as soon as next month if federal officials approve a waiver sought by the county hospital system to begin enrolling uninsured patients earlier. Along with that request, the county is seeking $70 million a year in new federal reimbursements."

Words Matter
The problem with John Roberts' convoluted ruling isn't that he has pulled off the covers to show us that the mandate at the core of Obamacare is a tax, as argued by John Kass and many other conservatives, but that the fine for not purchasing a private health insurance policy most assuredly isn't a tax. Not by any stretch of the imagination except the one made by Roberts and joined by the liberal wing of the court.

Folks buying health insurance under the new law who previously did not do so are not handing their money over to the federal government; they are handing their money over - under coercion of the federal government - to private companies. That is not a tax, and that isn't even being argued as such.

What is now construed as a tax for whatever convenience Roberts found necessary to achieve is the fine for those who do not purchase insurance - unless you want to argue that private insurance companies are now tax-collecting intermediaries.

Mopes of the Year
The machinations of most mopes are mostly mundane.

Such is the case of former alderman Ambrosio Medrano and former Cook County commissioner Joseph Moreno, who were both charged on Thursday with allegedly participating in bribery and kickback schemes involving bandages at Stroger Hospital and a waste transfer station in Cicero.

They saw their boring-ass opportunities and they took 'em.

*

"For Medrano, his arrest Thursday had to bring back bitter memories," the Tribune reports. "Almost exactly 16 years ago, the Chicago alderman was sentenced to 2 1/2 years in prison for bribery in another federal courtroom as part of the undercover Operation Silver Shovel probe."

Mopus operandus.

*

At least Moreno added his own twist on an old local saying, thereby earning a spot on an illustrious list of famous Chicago political utterances, just under Arenda Troutman's.

"I don't want to be a hog; I just want to be a pig," Moreno is alleged to have explained to the businessman, who was secretly cooperating with federal authorities and recording their conversations. "Hogs get slaughtered; pigs get fat."

Mission accomplished.

*

The Sun-Times has a much longer, more detailed account that includes this Moreno riff.

In one exchange captured on tape, Moreno allegedly tells a cooperator about the benefit of putting vacant property back on the tax rolls.

"And you make money, and you make money," the cooperator adds.

"Abso-fucking-lutely," Moreno replies, according to charges.

(I filled in the "uck" that the Sun-Times left out, apparently on the grounds that sensitive readers who would be disturbed by such a word won't be able to fill in the paper's blanks and will therefore be spared, or perhaps because impressionable young children who might otherwise never know such a word will be scarred by having chosen to read a story about Joe Moreno and Ambrosio Medrano.)

The Sun-Times also notes in a separate story that "Over the years, Moreno has been seen as a loyal, so-called Machine Democrat close to Chicago Ald. Ed Burke (14th) and fellow Commissioner John Daley. As a commissioner, Moreno shared county office space with Daley."


Master Morgue Mopes
"An Illinois Department of Labor investigation has found nearly two dozen problems at the Cook County morgue - from trays damaged by falling bodies to shortcomings in vaccinating employees against serious diseases they could encounter on the job," the Tribune reports.

The place was never the same after they hired Bill Blazejowski.

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Master Madman
"MasterChef judge Graham Elliot recently kicked ABC Chicago food critic Steve Dolinsky out of his newly opened g. e. b., not because he was particularly disrespectful to Graham, but because he once live-tweeted his way through a meal at Charlie Trotter's documenting how terrible it was," The Braiser reports.

I'd suggest that ABC retaliate by blocking transmission of its broadcast to the Elliot residence, but that wouldn't exactly be a big loss.

Still, Graham Elliot is Today's Worst Person In Chicago.

The Week in Chicago Rock
Short but solid.

Clearance Clarence
The runway lights are back on at Midway.

This patronage employee was found to be the problem.

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Steve McCroskey later ordered workers to pour every light they had on that runway.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Good luck, we're counting on you.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:31 AM | Permalink

The Week in Chicago Rock

You shoulda been there.

1. Robbie Fulks and Steve Dawson at the Hideout on Monday night.


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2. Death To All at the House of Blues on Tuesday night.

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3. Ted Nugent on Northerly Island on Sunday night.

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4. Explosions In The Sky at the Chicago Theatre on Tuesday night.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 3:15 AM | Permalink

June 28, 2012

About The Health Care Ruling

POST-RULING UPDATE BELOW . . .

Angry that the U.S. Supreme Court's decision this morning will be based on politics?

Let me ask you a question: To what degree is your view on what the court should decide based on politics?

Unless you are one of the very few who have actually read the legal briefs and listened to the oral arguments and researched the legal analyses of the case, your view is the one based on politics.

I once posted on Facebook a status update that said something like "A law's constitutionality isn't based on whether you like it or not."

The responses seemed to assume this was a shot at Republicans and the court. It wasn't. In fact, it was directed more at liberals, though it was directed at everyone.

Similarly, presumed good intentions or outcomes of a law don't confer constitutionality upon it. Just because insurance companies must under this law issue policies to those with pre-existing conditions doesn't make the mandate that those companies demanded in exchange - they ran the numbers and it's quite a profitable structure - constitutional.

So spare me in advance of your righteous political anger.

That's not to say I don't believe the court is political. Antonin Scalia, in particular, is not only a political player but one often misstating the facts residing on the ground here on planet Earth.

Now, if court strikes down part or all of Obamacare by a vote of more than 5-4 (as I suspect it will), does that make the decision non-partisan? If the court upholds the law is it suddenly non-partisan?

The court has suffered greatly in credibility over the years, starting with Bush v. Gore in my view, though it would be interesting to see what court scholars have to say about the matter. The combination of ugly confirmation battles and obsequious, useless confirmation hearings don't help. Restoring public confidence in the court is a fairly urgent task. I'm sure there are ideas out there. (The best political response to Bush v. Gore would have been to eliminate the Electoral College; with a close result apparently ahead of us this fall, you can bet each campaign is already gaming out strategies to cope with a popular vote that does not elect a president in America, much less the state-by-state strategy already in place that leaves much of the country out of the process because their states are already "red" or "blue.")

But the real part of the politicization of Obamacare that disgusts me is how utterly hypocritical nearly every vociferous voice in the debate is. Not an unusual complaint, I know, but one that perhaps is the primest example currently out there.

First, consider how evil Obamaphiles painted Hillary Clinton during the 2008 primary for including a mandate in her health care proposal. How odd; liberals for years had championed a mandate. But hey, follow The Leader.

The intense debate during the primary didn't change Obama's mind, but his position mysteriously evolved once he had dispatched Clinton.

Likewise, Obamacare supporters like to point out that the mandate - and in fact the very core of the president's plan - evolved out of the conservative Heritage Foundation.

This is something to brag about?

See? Conservatives won the debate!

Make no mistake, Republican hypocrisy is nearly as great; it has long been conservative gospel that the federal government should not regulate any kind of national health care, but all you have to do is hold this column to a mirror to see that the doublespeak goes both ways. This is what Americans hate about politics.

And I believe it's true that conservatives simply don't care as much as liberals about the fate of people without health care. Sink or swim.

I also believe, though, that a lot of Democrats give lip service to their so-called ideals in order to score political points; that's why they'll change their positions on a dime if it suits their cynical purposes.

What gets lost in all of this - along with the Big Pharma deal-making and string of broken promises like putting the negotiations on CNN, which people took seriously, as they should have - is the real human cost to the bullshit. People die.

And true health care reform gets kicked down the road - again.

Few people have a right to feel righteous about that.

* * *

As I've written more than once (among many, many others), some of us have always supported a mandate - except when that became a mandate to buy a policy from a hugely profitable private sector provider. That wasn't what we had in mind. And that's really the crux of the matter.

The notion that the federal government can force its citizens to purchase a consumer product in the private market is indeed a constitutional one, and whether you think it can or can't ought not be decided by which political party you belong to.

POST-RULING UPDATE: Initial thoughts based on early reports . . . The court indeed seems to have ruled the mandate unconstitutional - as constructed under the Commerce Clause. In other words, the federal government cannot compel citizens to buy a private product. However, the court decided that the mandate could stand by simply calling it a tax - which is not how the Obama administration constructed it and in fact vociferously argued against. This, it seems was John Roberts' way of forging a compromise that would also protect the court from partisan attack. It's not necessarily wrong - in fact, it goes along with what I wrote on Wednesday about the constitutionality of Social Security - but what's not clear to me is whether the Act must be reworked in some way or whether it simply is a tax because the court declares it so, even if it's not collected as such.

I didn't think Roberts would take this step, though Justice Ginsburg essentially suggested it during oral arguments when she said "[W]hy should we say it's a choice between a wrecking operation, which is what you are requesting, or a salvage job. And the more conservative approach would be salvage rather than throwing out everything."

On the other hand, Justice Sotomayor asked if the Act should be sent back to Congress for them to fix it.

"If we strike down one provision, we are not taking that power away from Congress. Congress could look at it without the mandatory coverage provision and say, this model doesn't work; let's start from the beginning," she said. "Or it could choose to fix what it has. We are not declaring - one portion doesn't force Congress into any path . . . Because Congress would choose to take one path rather than another. That's sort of taking onto the Court more power than one I think would want."

Roberts chose to salvage it by stating in his opinion that the court's job should be to "conserve" legislation rather than destroy it. I'm sure he was mindful of the political implications of using that word.

Likewise, the Obama administration didn't want to associate anything that could be called a tax with its plan, which is why they constructed the Act the way they did and argued chiefly for its constitutionality under the Commerce Clause. And that didn't fly, though the outcome accrues to Obama's advantage.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:26 AM | Permalink

Political Ad Transparency Rule Clears Another Hurdle

A new rule requiring TV stations to put political ad data on a government website is one step closer to taking effect, as the Office of Management and Budget approved the measure following a mandatory review.

The Federal Communications Commission rule, passed earlier this year, will require broadcasters to post online information including who buys politics ads and for how much. The information, which should help shed light on the expected tsunami of ad spending by campaigns and outside groups in the election, is currently available only on paper at stations.

The approval of the rule by OMB, which was assessing whether it complies with the Paperwork Reduction Act, was first reported by the Sunlight Foundation. The approval came last week over the objections of broadcasters, who have been fighting the transparency measure at every turn. But it's still unclear when the new website with political ad data will be up and running.

When the FCC passed the rule in April, it said stations would have to begin posting political ad files online 30 days after the FCC announces OMB approval in the Federal Register. We now have OMB approval, but the FCC has yet to announce it in the Federal Register. An FCC spokeswoman declined to comment on when that might happen. So stay tuned.

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Previously:
* Here's The Political Ad Data Chicago TV Stations Won't Put Online

* Meet The Media Companies Lobbying Against Transparency

* FCC-Required Political Ad Data Disclosures Won't Be Searchable

* Broadcasters Sue For Right To Hide Political Data

* New Political Ad Disclosure Rules Could Take Months

* Republicans Vote To Block Transparency On Political Ads

* Media Companies Make Yet Another Push To Defang Transparency Rule

* Republicans Back Down On Effort To Defund Transparency Rule

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:17 AM | Permalink

The [Thursday] Papers

The upshot to the health care ruling as I understand it thus far: As long as the penalty for not buying a mandated private insurance policy is called a tax, the federal government can force you to make that purchase. Yuk.

See also: About The Health Care Ruling.

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Dewey Beats Obama
CNN: The Counter-News Network.

*

Guess who else got it wrong?

stalert.gif

NEWS ALERT 6/28/2012

BREAKING: Supreme Court strikes down individual mandate on health care law

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If they'd been following SCOTUSBLOG instead of CNN this wouldn't have happened.

Limping Toward Bethlehem
An Illinois Democrat who has led work on implementing a key part of President Barack Obama's health-care overhaul now says the state will need to partner with the federal government for its insurance exchange," AP reported on Wednesday.

"Rep. Frank Mautino told The Associated Press this week that Illinois won't meet be able to meet a Nov. 16 deadline for the online insurance marketplace and must consider a new option - a federal-state partnership - to get ready for its first year if the U.S. Supreme Court upholds the law."

Oops!

Developmentally Disabled
"The state agency created to prevent neglect and abuse of disabled adults who live at home rejects hundreds of hotline calls for help each year and doesn't investigate when people die after severe mistreatment," the Belleville News-Democrat reports. (h/t: Rich Miller)

Hot Schools
"A forecast featuring warnings of excessive heat has forced Chicago Public Schools to cancel summer school classes for some students," AP reports.

"Schools CEO Jean-Claude Brizard called off classes Thursday at 10 schools that don't have air conditioning."

I failed in my attempt to map those 10 schools but I think you get the point by looking at the addresses provided by the Trib:

Altgeld, 1340 W. 71st St.; Attucks, 5055 S. State St.; Bennett, 10115 S. Prairie Ave.; Courtenay, 1726 W. Berteau Ave.; Faraday, 3250 W. Monroe St.; Gregory Academy, 3715 W. Polk St.; Holden, 1104 W. 31st St.; Penn, 1616 S Avers Ave.; Stevenson, 8010 S Kostner Ave., and Harold Washington, 9130 S University Ave.

Still, only 10 schools out of the whole system isn't bad - until you consider the schools where the AC barely works. And, as has been pointed out to me, the fact that we're only talking about the schools being used for summer courses, meaning the problem is likely larger and there'll be hell to pay for some kids if a heat wave arrives in August.

Corporate Industrial Complex
"The Federal Savings Bank, a Kansas-based home lender bought last year by a pair of Chicago brothers in the mortgage banking business, is opening a national home loan center in the West Loop that it says will create 400 jobs over three years," the Tribune reports.

"The bank said it's getting $9.5 million in tax breaks over 10 years from the state through the Economic Development for a Growing Economy, or EDGE, program. It's also getting up to $4 million in training funds from the city of Chicago."

So taxpayers in need of jobs because bankers tanked the economy continue to subsidize their own training at those very same banks - as well as tax breaks in the name of economic development even though banks destroyed the economy. The never-ending bailout is never-ending.

*

"Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel 'also offered for TFSB to have direct input into the curriculum' of Harold Washington College."

Just like Harold Washington would have wanted.

Prison City
"The Great Recession has helped stabilize the population of big cities including Chicago, which after the loss of 200,000 residents in the last decade saw a slight uptick, according toU.S. Census Bureau estimates being released Thursday," the Tribune reports.

"Unfortunately, that's probably because many people can't afford to move, demographers said."

In other words, Chicago has become such an unattractive place to live for those who aren't affluent that desperate financial straits are the only thing keeping them here . . . which is why Chicago has become such an unattractive place to live for those who aren't affluent. Can't afford to live here, can't afford to move.

So He'll Just Get A Ticket
"Tests Find Only Marijuana In Face-Chewer's System."

Political Ad Transparency Rule . . .
. . . Clears Another Hurdle.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Hurdley.


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:26 AM | Permalink

June 27, 2012

Tweeting Rizzo

Anthony Rizzo's Cubs debut on Tuesday night sent fans into paroxyms on Twitter that were only rarely clever and mostly consisted of lame Hall of Fame predictions and dating come-ons. It may have been the #Rizzocalypse (though it wasn't the #Rizzogeddon), but it wasn't pretty. (Even Wrigley Field official scorer Bob Rosenberg gave in to the hype, changing an error to a hit to give Rizzo his first asterisk in a Cubs uniform and then scoring his single as a double when he advanced to second on a throw.)

Here's our own narrative arc constructed of a few Beachwood tweets along with some of the best of the rest.

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Previously:
* Tweeting Hawk

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 5:17 PM | Permalink

The [Wednesday] Papers

The U.S. Supreme Court is expected to issue its ruling on Obamacare on Thursday. I'm for a mandate, but I think the mandate as constructed in Obamacare is unconstitutional. Here's why: I believe the argument that the federal government cannot compel individuals to buy a private product. The important part here is buying a private product.

The federal government compels the purchase of many things. Our taxes buy airplanes and highways and medical research and food inspections. On the local level, property taxes pay for schools regardless of whether you have children enrolled in them; you are forced to pony up either way.

Perhaps more to the point, you have no choice but to be automatically enrolled in Social Security, whose constitutionality was challenged long ago and upheld because of the way it is constructed: your taxes pay for it. You aren't required to go purchase it in some separate transaction. So in that way it becomes just another government program in which you have no choice but to participate.

And that's the problem with Obamacare. To construct it in the way of, say, Social Security, it would have to be a program in which you are automatically enrolled, like a single-payer system such as Medicare For All, or at least offered a public option that you could opt out of to participate in the private market.

Forcing citizens to buy a private product from the very profiteers who are in large part responsible for the problem is the worst of all worlds.

Staples vs. Residency
But if Rahm Emanuel's petition sheets used paper clips instead of staples, the media would have rallied around him and the Illinois Supreme Court would have pissed all over his challengers.

See:
* Rahm's Rules: Part 1
* Rahm's Rules: Part 2

Rahm's Restaurants
Let food trucks park wherever they damn well want, please. If brick-and-mortar crybabies don't like it, they should get in the game themselves.

*

Ald. Tom Tunney is co-sponsoring the ordinance, WBEZ reports.

Tunney, of course, owns the immobile Ann Sather's. In his first campaign he promised to divest himself of his interest in the restaurant but later reneged.

Maybe put those cinnamon buns on the road, dude, and you'll change your mind.

Where's Junior?
"A Jackson spokesman refused to say whether the congressman was in Illinois or was even in a medical facility, but he did beat back a rumor that Jackson was staying at a hotel in Puerto Rico. 'That would be absurd,' said the spokesman, Frank Watkins," the Tribune reports.

No, Frank, what's absurd is that a United States congressman is being kept in an undisclosed location.

We already have a United States senator whose health status has been shrouded in secrecy and we lived through the hidden medical mysteries of the Stroger family. It's not acceptable and it's going to come out anyway. Fill us in; Jackson works for us and you can't just disappear from your job without telling your boss where you are.

Regional Bias
Avoiding the obvious: Rich white kids smoking pot are viewed differently by society than poor black kids smoking pot.

What's Your Policy?
There's no money except for when there is.

Tweeting Rizzo
The antidote to the hype.

And Stay Out
"An 'enraged' employee of a [Chicago] Chinese restaurant threw a customer through a glass door, shattering it and injuring her, because she 'politely requested more sauce packets' for her takeout order, the woman claims in court," Courthouse News Service reports.

Doesn't mean it's true, but either way it sounds like there's a good (terrible) story here.

Collaborative Brewing
It's very crafty.

Spare Part Or New Start?
Youk.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Crafty.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:08 AM | Permalink

Fantasy Fix: Spare Part Or New Start?

Our White Sox picked up Kevin Youkilis for spare parts last week, though the enthusiasm for the deal was tempered in some quarters by the belief that Youkilis himself may be no more than a spare part.

When Youkilis came to Chicago, he had 4 HRs, 14 RBIs and a .233 average - the making of a career-worst year in which he already had seen himself benched in Boston in favor of a rookie. In fantasy terms, he has been a non-factor, still kept as a bench player in many leagues, but giving no one a reason to play him.

Does anything change with his arrival in Chicago?

Trading season hasn't really kicked off yet, or at least to this point has involved more buzz than real action. Youkilis is one of our first test cases this season for how a fresh start with a new team in a different park and different city can affect bottom line stats. Change of scenery is something that teams involved in a trade of marginal players rarely talk about, but must always be thinking about.

On the surface, there is not much reason to think things will change dramatically for Youkilis. He hasn't changed leagues, and while having more games at The Cell always suggests an increase in HRs, going long has never really been Youk's strong suit. For that reason alone, I've tended to avoid drafting him in fantasy leagues, but he does have value: Getting on base is his strong suit, or used to be anyway.

If the Sox remain committed to batting him second, as they did in his first two games, ahead of their big bats, Youkilis could see a nice bounce in his OBP and runs-scored (of course, someone needs to remind those big bats to start hitting again). Getting extra at-bats by going early in the order might also otherwise help him work out the kinks in his performance.

All this is pretty speculative, but if you've still got Youkilis on a fantasy roster, I don't see any reason to drop him now, and if you're short-handed at 1B or 3B, you might want to watch him closely for the next couple weeks to see if a change of venue coincides with an offensive rebound.

Expert Wire
* SI.com reports on our two favorite call-ups: our very own Anthony Rizzo and Arizona pitcher Trevor Bauer. Can they handle the major league glare?

* Full Spectrum Baseball thinks Tigers shortstop Jhonny Peralta is ready to turn around his season.

* Bleacher Report assesses the Reds' rebounding Mat Latos, finally unburdened by hype and doing well. Also, BR finds Youkilis lacking.

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

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:38 AM | Permalink

The Beer Thinker: Collaboration Brewing

After the heady beer-drinking days of May, when Chicago Craft Beer Week had us forcing an unbelievable variety of brews on our palates and livers, I tried to slow down a bit - you know, drinking only two beers a night instead of four.

I used the small increase in clarity this afforded me to think about some of the ongoing trends in the craft beer world. One of those trends is collaboration brewing, a not entirely new concept by any means, but one that seems to have taken off in new directions in recent months.

Some of the first collaboration beers I remember seeing were three or four years ago, and most often the product of partnership between two or three breweries. San Diego's Stone Brewing Co. has been an especially prolific collaborator, working with Dogfish Head and many others.

In Chicago, several new craft breweries have done some collaboration brewing with other brewers. For example, Half Acre Beer Co. has worked with Three Floyds Brewing, Pipeworks Brewing Co. and Short's Brewing Company from Michigan, among others.

More recently, collaborations between craft breweries and chefs have become increasingly common, not surprising since there is probably a fair amount of overlap between the foodie and craft beer geek audiences. Locally, the most prolific craft beer collaborator on the foodie side is Cleetus Friedman, chef and gregarious host at City Provisions, whose frequent collaborations with local brewers reportedly were a direct out-growth of his dinner events.

We've also seen collaborations between breweries and renowned craft beer bars, such as the partnership between Greenbush Brewing Co. in Sawyer, Mich., and SmallBar Division.

There has even been at least one collaboration series involving a local brewery and some of the Midwestern farms that regular show up at local farmers markets, an idea that leverages both the momentum of the local/seasonal food movement and the timing of the farmers markets appearing in Chicago.

In addition to its chef collaboration series, Goose Island Clybourn has been featuring farmers market collaborations brewed on-site. They have been getting sucked dry too quickly for me to taste one yet, but recent collaborations have included a strawberry recipe with Klug Farms and a blueberry brew with Seedling Farms (The latter still available, according to the Goose Clybourn online menu).

There also have been collaborations that look more like co-marketing schemes, like the one between Finch's Beer Co. and apparel designer Threadless. They produced Threadless IPA, which may sell T-shirts to beer drinkers, and beer to people who wear t-shirts (wow, that's some addressable market).

Collaboration and experimentation are generally good things, as the craft beer hype machine runs on the industry's ability to continue putting new spins on its offerings. Whether these partnerships are between breweries branching out a bit from their own distinctive styles, or between brewers and other businesses wanting to try something new, they have a way of doubling the natural curiosity in the result.

Of course, that is not exactly what craft beer purists want to hear. They think there are already too many styles and recipes, and too much cross-pollinating creates Frankenstein beers like hoppy stouts. They also tend to feel that collaborations force flavors into beer that have no real need to be there.

The cynic will say it's all a big cross-marketing game, in the end a horrible application of big corporate strategy to the little craft beer world that will leave us all feeling a little dirtier. There may be some truth to that.

However, part of the fun of drinking craft beer is a willingness to seek new things, even things that sound a little dicey. Both craft beer brewers and customers can essentially be described as a group of people who weren't happy with the status quo, the predictability of flavor watered down in order to reach the largest possible audience. Their willingness to leave that world behind is what created this ever-growing market, and one of the chief attributes that can sustain it.

That said, I wouldn't blame you if you didn't want anything to do with a green garlic beer that sprang from the mind of a chef, or something called Chicago Parking Meters, LLC IPA (which, thank God, doesn't actually exist).

Here are a few collaboration brews I've tried in recent months:

Finch's Toasted Summer: The second collaboration between chef Friedman and Finch's, after Cleetus Slack Jawed Dunkel, is the better of the two in my opinion. The toasted hops give it a bite that is different from the typical hop spiciness, and it doesn't otherwise overreach into too many other flavors. It's just a recognizable kolsch with an added bite, and a great hot-weather beverage.

Greenbush Mr. Hyde: On this list, the one collaboration between a brewery and a bar, though not just any bar, as SmallBar is a legendary craft beer outpost. The version of Mr. Hyde aged in Journeyman Distillery barrels was one of my favorite beers of 2012 so far, rich and sweet yet very drinkable. The non-barrel version is pretty good, too.

Goose Island Florence: A collaboration with chef Doug Psaltis of RPM Italian, it advertises a tangerine peel aroma and peach flavor. I haven't smelled any tangerines lately, so all I can say of the aroma is that it was powerfully citrusy. I can't say it was overtly peachy, but did seem the perfect beer to be having on the hot June day I visited Goose Island Clybourn.

Half Acre Sanguis: I don't know whether to call this beet-and-blood orange concoction a contract brew or a collaboration. It was produced for the El Bulli menu at Next, but later appeared in 22-ounce bombers at the Half Acre store on Lincoln Avenue. (Half Acre also made a wheat beer, Horizon, for Next; Guys Drinking Beer review here.) I had Sanguis out of the bomber without the benefit of a Next-like food pairing (Full disclosure: It was paired with Ruffles). I was a little taken aback by the overall strongly-beety vegetable juice aroma, and therefore surprised by a generally mild flavor and some not-unpleasant bitterness that didn't really hint at beets or blood oranges, at least to my possibly warped tongue.

Finch's Threadless IPA: Only recently started appearing in cans. I tried it from the tap at a couple craft beer events months ago, and at the time didn't feel it was anything special, but for some reason it's really refreshing out of the can, and a complete hop-monster. I had it with some spicy Thai food, and it worked really well.

Some other recent beer news:

* Speaking of collaborations, Half Acre just announced another one - King Puff, with Rock Bottom Warrenville. Popcorn beer? We'll try anything once.

* A $20 billion beer acquisition? A/B InBev must be involved, this time buying Grupo Modelo.

* Growler Station re-thinks craft beer retail sales and distribution.

* The Chicago Craft Beer Festival (another one?) is this weekend in Old Town.

* The Square Roots Festival is coming up next month.

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Previously in The Beer Thinker:
* Tapping Lincoln Square
* Size Matters
* Lagunitas Changes Everything
* Make Beer, Not War

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

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:23 AM | Permalink

June 26, 2012

The [Tuesday] Papers

"Cook County Assessor Joe Berrios should fire his son and sister, two of three relatives who call him boss in the government tax office he was elected to run in 2010," the Sun-Times reports.

"That's according to the county ethics board, whose members investigated the hirings and issued a 'finding of violation' detailed in a report marked 'confidential' and obtained by the Sun-Times. The board found he violated his fiduciary duties as well as a prohibition on hiring relatives laid out in the county's ethics ordinance."

Berrios counts Pat Quinn and Toni Preckwinkle among his allies.

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"Berrios hired son and namesake Joseph 'Joey'' Berrios as a $48,000-a-year residential analyst and sister Carmen Berrios as director of taxpayer services at a salary of $86,000 just after the November 2010 election. The assessor later promoted both, and both have since seen a few pay boosts. The younger Joe Berrios, now chief of the land division, is now earning $69,285 annually while the assessor's sister - a deputy assessor of taxpayer services - is making $107,841, according to payroll records."

Berrios counts Pat Quinn and Toni Preckwinkle among his allies.

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"The ethics board also looked into the employment Joe Berrios' daughter, Vanessa Berrios, but the report makes no mention of her.

"Vanessa Berrios was already working in the assessor's office when her father was elected. But Joe Berrios promoted his daughter and gave her a $10,000 raise and later another nearly $1,000 raise. Her salary is now $69,285.48, county payroll records show."

Berrios counts Pat Quinn and Toni Preckwinkle among his allies.

*

"Berrios, learned about the report when the Sun-Times contacted him Monday. He shrugged it off saying the ethics board doesn't have jurisdiction over his office.

"'To me it's not big deal, because I've been told by the state's attorney they have no power over us,' Berrios said, adding: 'In fact the state's attorney hired outside counsel for me in this case.'"

Berrios counts Pat Quinn, Toni Preckwinkle and Anita Alvarez among his allies.

*

"Asked whether he's going to consider removing his relatives from the payroll, Berrios said: 'I'm not going to do anything until my attorney tells me what the hell I should do.'

"He said his relatives work 40 hours a week and were 'instrumental' in helping the county get second installment tax bills, set to arrive in property owners' mailboxes in the coming days, out on time - the first time in 30-plus years."

Do the non-relatives in his office work less than 40 hours a week?

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"He says his relatives are more than qualified to do the job, noting that they worked for him when he was at the county's tax appeals Board of Review and the ethics board didn't come after him then. He also notes that he didn't technically 'hire' his relatives, but instead 'transferred' them to his office."

Because political offices in Illinois are just divisions of the larger conglomerate of Combine, Inc. You can just "transfer" between them whenever the bosses approve.

*

"Berrios adamantly denies he's an old-school politician stacking the payroll with friends and family.

"'If I was an old school politician, I would have picked up the phone, had someone else hire them and I wouldn't even be answering these questions,' Berrios said."

Wait. So the old-school pol has someone else hire your kids for you but the new-school pol just does it himself?

Dear Joe Berrios: Congratulations, you not only Have It Backwards but you are Missing The Point.

Exhaust Pipe
Jesse Jackson Jr. Is Super Tired.

Executive Privilege
Mayor Rahm Emanuel Serves Up Own Food Truck Plan.

What, he's gonna drive around town and yell at you while throwing a donut in your face?

Exhausting Me
Dan Rutherford continues to pretend that he's doing the job he was elected to instead of running for governor.

Breaking: Eric Zorn Does Something Funny
Credit where it's due.

Groupon Is One Big Joke
And it's not funny.

Has Gospel Fest Been Ghettoized?
Make it big or go home.

The Marlon Byrd Supplemental Report
We were there first.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Making us thirsty.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:16 AM | Permalink

Jesse Jackson Jr. Is Super Tired

I wonder if Jesse Jackson Jr. is exhausted from booze, drugs, sex or federal investigators.

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Junior joins an illustrious list.

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Look, if the guy is suffering from an addiction or depression or just needs some time to work out issues in his marriage - as the Sun-Times reports - we can all be sympathetic. But don't give us "exhaustion." If you're going to ask that we respect your family's privacy, respect our intelligence.

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Does it say something about the sparse coverage of our congressional delegation that one of its more high-profile members can go missing for 16 days and no one seems to notice until the family issues a statement?

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John Kass seemed to know something was up last week when he wrote a column headlined "Nayak's In The Federal Frying Pan. But Where's Jesse Jackson Jr.?"


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It was Phil Kadner, though, with perhaps the best (pre-exhaustion) take, in the SouthtownStar:

While covering the trials of both former Gov. George Ryan and Blagojevich, I repeatedly pointed out that whether or not a guilty verdict was returned, both men surrounded themselves with people who were slime.

There's only one reason you do that, and it has nothing at all to do with good government.

Congressman Jackson has repeatedly and vehemently denied that he ever had anything to do with a bribe in exchange for a Senate seat.

At this point, I don't care. I leave that sort of stuff to judges and juries and congressional ethics committees.

I do care that Jackson chose the Great Ragu to be his confidant, his drinking buddy and his travel agent for his "social acquaintance."

There are good, honest, hard-working people all over America, but time and again our elected officials choose to associate with shady, dishonest characters who are willing to bend the law, break the law and raise campaign cash.

You and I would hope that the day Nayak stepped into Jackson's office or home for the first time, the congressman would have told him, "Follow the slime trail you left on your way in and never come back again."

Jackson didn't. Blagojevich didn't. That in itself is unacceptable.

Jackson still doesn't seem to understand that his association with Nayak tells us a lot about the congressman's character. He thinks it's all about the court system and ethics committees.

No one has convicted him of anything, he will tell you.

The politicians would say you little people just don't understand what it's like in their world.

I think we do. And it's rotten to the core.

*

It's true. Some of my friends may be degenerates, but they're not slimebags. They tend not to have police records and they never get indicted. The sleazoids in the political system get there one way and one way only: With their money. That's what gives them entree.

How incredibly odd, then, that this week the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a Montana law limiting corporate campaign contributions while reaffirming its Citizens United decision that said, in part, that "independent expenditures, including those made by corporations, do not give rise to corruption or the appearance of corruption."

On what planet is that true?

*

To be fair, Jackson attorney Paul Langer told the Sun-Times that his client's leave of absence was "unequivocally . . . unrelated to the arrest of Mr. Nayak."

Langer being a lawyer, I'm going to accept only the narrowest of interpretations of that statement: It wasn't the arrest per se, but maybe some other aspect of the Nayak case. Or the combination of Nayak and Jackson's marriage. Or maybe it's just his marriage, but his marriage is in trouble because of an affair Jackson had in which Nayak provided financial and logistical support to facilitate.

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"Raghuveer Nayak, the Oak Brook businessman arrested Wednesday on charges he paid hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes and kickbacks to doctors and then wrote them off on his taxes as advertising, 'was always welcome in the Jackson home,'" Mark Brown wrote in the Sun-Times last week.

"Don't take my word for it.

"That comes straight out of an interview Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. gave three years ago to House Ethics Committee investigators looking into whether he tried to buy the U.S. Senate seat that Rod Blagojevich was convicted of trying to sell him."

Ouch.

*

"Nayak was probably less welcome in the congressman's home after word later got out that he was the one who had paid to fly Jackson's 'social acquaintance' - Washington, D.C., restaurant hostess Giovana Huidobro - to Chicago for at least two visits where we can assume they got better socially acquainted.

"That's a friend indeed, which may be why Jackson doesn't seem to have volunteered that information during his 2009 interview with ethics investigators."

Maybe he was just too tired to spit it out.

*

Fellow congressman Danny Davis told the Sun-Times that "We knew that he at one time had some medical attention a few years ago, and so it does not surprise me. The heat may have just gotten the best of him for a little bit."

The paper also reported that "Last time Jackson was suffering from exhaustion, he sought refuge and recharged his batteries at the California home of supermarket magnate Ron Burkle, a source said."

The last time I suffered exhaustion was . . . right now.

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Look, Jesse Jackson Jr. is in a world of hurt. There is no intent here to be mean. But that's what happens when you aren't forthcoming. Going into hiding without a clearer explanation is only going to foster the cynicism it deserves.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:12 AM | Permalink

Has Gospel Fest Been Ghettoized?

Gospel Fest is apparently no longer fit for downtown. Instead, it was sliced, diced and segregated this year, opening at Millennium Park, moving to the Chicago Cultural Center for a day and then shipped off to Ellis Park for a lackluster weekend that didn't exactly sell the musical form to the masses. Let's take a look.

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"The reinvented, dramatically expanded Chicago Gospel Music Festival got off to a sometimes rousing, sometimes perplexing start Thursday night at the Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park," Howard Reich wrote for the Tribune last week.

"Rousing because most of the music captured the exuberant spirit one expects of gospel song, Chicago style. Perplexing because only some of the work could be considered gospel."

*

Two days later, Reich wrote:

"Thousands of Chicagoans poured into Ellis Park, at 37th Street and Cottage Grove Avenue, on Saturday, suggesting that a rather large cultural gamble had paid off handsomely.

"Though the Chicago Gospel Music Festival always has unfolded in the Loop - and indeed played there on Thursday and Friday - by Saturday the event had moved on to the ancestral home of gospel: the South Side of Chicago, where the music originated early in the 20th century."

Thousands pouring into a park is not impressive, given the festival's historic attendance levels, as we shall see. And the set-up at Ellis Park looked like a rinky dink affair if this typical YouTube video is any indication:

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Here's the way it looked in 2011 at Taste of Chicago:

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Which was a come-down itself from the pavilion at Millennium Park:

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It's not that Bronzeville shouldn't have such an event; move all the festivals there, I say! But then we also could have built Millennium Park there - or at least a new pavilion capable of holding the city's great music festivals. Talk about jump-starting economic development where it's needed. Instead, it gets a crumb that falls off downtown's table.

*

"[A] city spokeswoman estimated weekend attendance of 25,000," Dave Hoekstra wrote for the Sun-Times. "There was no outdoor concert lighting at the park, so the area was cleared by nightfall."

Hardly impressive.

In June 1991, the Sun-Times estimated that Gospel Fest drew 200,000 annually.

The Tribune that year reported that "The throng that surrounded the Petrillo Music Shell in Grant Park over the weekend for the city's seventh annual Gospel Music Festival packed plenty of power in its enthusiasm. And in its sheer numbers. Festival organizers estimated the weekend attendance at a record 150,000."

In June 2002, "Attendance [at Gospel Fest] reached about 225,000 over the weekend, according to the Mayor's Office of Special Events."

So 25,000 in 2012 is nothing to brag about.

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Too bad because Chicago ought to rightfully claim the biggest and best gospel festival in the land. It's in our heritage.

Here are some of the acts that appeared last weekend.

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J. Moss.

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Byron Cage.

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Fred Hammond.

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Mary Mary.

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Comments welcome.

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1. From Helen Adair:

This is horrible and poorly set up. Why is the Gospel Fest depreciated this way? I am a Christian female. Why go to Ellis Park on the site where there is shooting and a smaller area to accommodate thousands? Why, why, why. Very disappointed.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 2:46 AM | Permalink

June 25, 2012

The Marlon Byrd Supplemental Report

Former Cub Marlon Byrd revealed in 2009 that he not only had worked with steroid doctor/pill pusher Victor Conte but would continue to work with steroid doctor/pill pusher Victor Conte.

The unemployed Byrd has now been suspended for 50 games for violating the league's drug policy, though he has absolved Conte of any responsibility.

For reasons we can't quite remember - maybe it came back in the news - The Cub Factor tracked Conte's injections into Byrd during the 2011 season in a running item we called The Marlon Byrd Supplemental Report. Which means all those lame jokes going around about how Byrd's performance-enhancing drugs didn't enhance his performance were already made by us - in a much funnier way. Let us review and remember.

* Conte has been injecting Marlon with "Reed Johnson" in hopes to make him look better than he really is.

* Conte has been injecting Marlon with "season savior" but even Conte can't make up something that potent.

* Conte has been injecting Marlon with "Marlon Byrd" which makes him play like Marlon Bryd. Thanks, Conte.

* Conte has been injecting Marlon with "Astros pitching" this week and he is getting buff!

* Conte continues to inject Marlon with "decent, but not great."

* Conte is injecting Marlon with sedatives after he was asked to bat sixth on Friday, two spots down from Jeff Baker, and then asked to lay down a sacrifice bunt in the 10th with Tyler Colvin batting behind him. It was his first sac bunt as a Cub.

* Conte has been injecting Marlon with "Just 11 More RBI Than Tyler Colvin Despite 200 More At-Bats."

* Conte has apparently been injecting Marlon with sugar water all season because Marlon really had just another Marlon season.

* Conte has been injecting Marlon with "lost season."

* Conte has been injecting Marlon with "Starting Job in 2012" but we can't tell if it's working.

* Conte gave Marlon some pills labeled "third-place hitter" a few times this week but they were actually placebos.

* Conte is now giving Byrd weekly injections of "somewhat regrettable acquisition."

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See also: Marlon Byrd vs. Robert Byrd.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 11:29 PM | Permalink

The [Monday] Papers

"The City Hall hiring scandal was former Mayor Richard M. Daley's mess, but now some of it's spilling onto Mayor Rahm Emanuel, too," the Sun-Times reports.

"Emanuel is under fire from Noelle Brennan, the court-appointed City Hall hiring monitor. She's blasting his administration for its 'combative' response to her suggestions it should discipline city officials accused of taking part in fraudulent patronage hiring under Daley."

Apparently accountability isn't just an app.

"Shortly before Emanuel took office last year, a federal judge gave Brennan the authority to investigate - and recommend punishment for - city officials who had a role in the illegal patronage hiring and promotion scheme that fueled Daley's political machine. Brennan had sought those powers after Daley rejected her calls to punish aides who were implicated - though not criminally charged - in the hiring scandal.

"But Brennan and Emanuel also have tangled over what should be done with those officials."

Maybe hits a little too close to home? An oldie but goodie:

You can download the testimony of former Water Department Deputy Commissioner Donald Tomczak, who is currently serving his sentence in federal prison. This testimony shows how Chicago Democrats rigged the hiring and promotion of city employees in order to unduly influence elections. To read how Tomczak's unlawful patronage workers campaigned to elect Rahm Emanuel to the U.S. Congress, see the last page, 2444. To read how Tomczak's unlawful patronage workers campaigned for former U.S. Commerce Secretary William Daley's candidate Al Gore when Bill Daley was Gore's campaign chairman, see page 2443. The federal court testimony also implicates Senior White House Adviser David Aelrod because Axelrod was Rahm Emanuel's campaign manager and Axelrod was also an adviser to Daley for multiple campaigns in which Axelrod and Daley used patronage workers to rig the elections in their favor.

Back to the Sun-Times:

"In court filings, Brennan says she recommended disciplinary action be taken against 'four current high-ranking employees' in the Chicago Department of Transportation. She says she also called on Emanuel to place a retired transportation department official on the city's list of people who are ineligible to be rehired.

"Brennan says the Emanuel administration has rejected her advice 'for the most part,' instead hiring outside lawyers to conduct a 're-investigation' of the accusations that she leveled."

Wow, it's harder to fire a corrupt patronage workers than teachers!

*

"Last month, the Chicago Sun-Times reported (link mine) that the Emanuel administration gave a 90-day suspension to Hugh Donlan, a city official who testified under oath that he helped rig hiring for job applicants tied to the old Hispanic Democratic Organization and other pro-Daley political groups. City officials said they did so under pressure from Inspector General Joseph Ferguson."

Stop rushing Rahm! The urgency of now isn't that fierce.

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"The city's investigation into Brennan's allegations involving the transportation department was done by the law firm Mayer Brown. It cost taxpayers $148,000."

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Rahm Cares

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The System Works
"Seven months after the Chicago City Council appointed its first internal watchdog, he's run out of money to do his job," the Tribune reports.

Just as planned.

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The city council's inspector general was allocated just $60,000 and part-time job status. Get the message?

More Transparent Accountability
Why Obama Says He Won't Release Drone Documents.

Mystery Grants
A state budget shrouded in secrecy.

Boxed In
"Andrew Golota, one of Chicago's best-known boxers, was once within a few low blows of winning a world heavyweight title. Now his family says he's facing his biggest fight in years - deportation," the Tribune reports.

"Golota, 44, a Northbrook resident and national hero in Poland, learned two years ago that he was in deportation proceedings, court records show.

"The retired boxer was born in Poland, is married to a U.S. citizen and has spent the past 21 years as a legal permanent resident in the Chicago area. He made millions as a heavyweight title contender who fought Mike Tyson, Riddick Bowe and others."

So what gives?

"Golota had filed paperwork to become a U.S. citizen, which would have triggered a criminal background check. Immigration law allows noncitizens to be deported for committing crimes of 'moral turpitude.' After learning when he returned from a trip abroad that he was facing deportation, Golota tried to erase two state-court convictions."

Click through for the details.

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Golota PSA for the U.S. Census in 2010.

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Chicagoetry: Zoo of Shadows
The lion is my ambition.

The Weekend in Chicago Rock
Huge.

Beachwood Sports
* SportsMonday: The Fire, F-Rod And The Youk.

* The Cub Factor: Anthony Rizzo's Magic Bag.

* The White Sox Report: The Batboy, Dick Allen And The '72 Sox.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Loopy doopy.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 11:27 AM | Permalink

SportsMonday: The Fire, F-Rod And The Youk

When I go to Chicago sporting events - and I took in two on Saturday and Sunday - I usually sit in the cheap seats.

The only "season" tickets I have (my wife and I split a Cubs nights and weekends package with three other parties) are in the upper deck reserved.

I didn't quite make it down to the front row when I had a chance to take in the Fire game Saturday evening at Toyota Park and the White Sox's battle with the Brewers at The Cell Sunday. But I was pretty close to the action.

And here's a news flash: It was very cool to be so close - especially for the Fire's stirring 2-1 victory over the Columbus Crew.

Earlier on Saturday I watched on ESPN as Spain defeated France 2-0 in Euro 2012 quarterfinal action from either Poland or the Ukraine. The countries are co-hosting and I think the game was in Gdansk. In fact, I'm just going with that city as the setting just because that may be my one and only chance to ever work "Gdansk" into a column.

Anyway, Spain absolutely dominated. The favorites scored in the first half of the first half and France barely even threatened before Spain eventually put the game away with a penalty kick in the final few minutes in the 90-something'th minute.

The defending Euro and World Cup champs are a great, great team but France's unwillingness to extend itself to try to score the tying goal, especially in the second half of the second half, was aggravating to say the least. It seemed awfully clear that after their abysmal showing at World Cup 2010 (a petulant French team scored all of one goal on its way to embarrassing elimination during preliminary pool play), the team known as "Les Bleu" was more than happy to hold down the score against Spain, take its respectable Top Eight finish and head home. Boooo.

A lack of desperation was not a problem at the Fire game, to say the least. I'm not sure if it was the very early first goal - Marco Pappa shot from distance and his powerful blast found the upper right-hand corner in the second minute - but these two teams were playing 200 miles per hour the whole way. There wasn't a player on the pitch who wasn't doing everything he possibly could to push his team forward at every turn.

And the great thing about our seats, in about the 10th row (friends of ours had acquired them as part of a charity auction package) a little above the top of the north penalty box, was that we could really see the players' skill on several skirmishes by the sideline right in front of us. Twice we watched as ultra-skillful Fire striker/winger Patrick Nyarko worked his magic to find a way out of seemingly being trapped up against the boundary, to first dribble down the sideline before making a dangerous pass into the middle and, second, to simply keep possession and make a solid pass to one of the Fire's central mids.

We also watched two different Fire players not only prevent passes with pace from going out of bounds, but also turn them into slick little passes to teammates. One of my friends (not a big soccer fan) asked me about the difference between Premier League soccer and Major League Soccer during the game and of course I pointed out that the former is one of the best two leagues in the world and the latter is a second-tier collection of teams. But I feel confident that a Premier League game could not possibly have been more entertaining than Fire versus Columbus was on Saturday.

Striker extraordinaire Dominic Oduro turned a perfect through ball from Sebastian Grazzini into the Fire's second and final goal in the 26th minute and then disaster struck.

The Fire's Gonzalo Segares mustered an incredibly Ill-considered tackle of a Crew midfielder, arriving late and with cleats high. He was red-carded in the 29th minute and the Fire was looking at more than 60 minutes of playing a man down.

But they held on. The Crew managed a goal but Fire goalkeeper Sean Johnson back-stopped a great defensive effort (including a reflex save of a tipped shot that was other-worldly) that enabled the Fire to hold on. It was a great, great night at the little stadium in Bridgeview.

The official MLS highlights:

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As for the Sox game, we decided to splurge on a couple good seats for my son the White Sox fan and I as a week-late observance of Father's Day. We were about 30 rows up from third base and we immensely enjoyed a classic pitcher's duel that ended with the White Sox pulling out a 1-0 win in 10 innings.

The best thing about the day was watching Francisco Rodriguez go to work on the mound for the Brewers in the eighth inning. And the best thing for the White Sox was the Brewers only left him in for one inning.

Rodriguez, who starred at closer for the Mets late last decade before a domestic violence incident caused the team to unload him, has ridiculously nasty stuff - which we were in a real good place to assess. He either threw the Sox hitters outside corner breaking balls that clocked 77 on the gun or gas that was 94 or higher.

Starting pitchers Jose Quintana and Michael Fiers were great but Rodriguez was awesome when he had to bear down and get outs with men on base. Somehow you just knew Gordon Beckham and Adam Dunn didn't stand a chance against him and sure enough, they both struck out to end a threat.

But as it turned out, Eduardo Escobar saved the day in the tenth. Who knew.

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Also: The Youk's farewell to Boston. Welcome to Chicago.

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Jim "Coach" Coffman welcomes your comments.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:41 AM | Permalink

Why Obama Says He Won't Release Drone Documents

The covert U.S. effort to strike terrorist leaders using drones has moved further out of the shadows this year - targeted killing has been mentioned by President Obama and defended in speeches by Attorney General Eric Holder and Obama counterterrorism adviser John Brennan. The White House recently declassified the fact that it is conducting military operations in Yemen and Somalia.

But for all the talk, the administration says it hasn't officially confirmed particular strikes or the CIA's involvement.

Over the past year, the American Civil Liberties Union and reporters at The New York Times have filed several requests under the Freedom of Information Act seeking information about the CIA's drone program and the legal justification for attacks that killed terrorists and U.S. citizens. The government answered with a Glomar response - neither verifying nor denying that it has such documents.

So both the Times and the ACLU sued, claiming that there is widespread acknowledgement by government officials of drones and targeted killing, as well as the CIA's involvement.

Last week, the Justice Department submitted a motion in a federal court in New York seeking to dismiss the lawsuits. The government's argument, it turns out, mostly reiterates its Glomar response.

Any public statements by the administration, the motion states, were carefully phrased to avoid discussing specific operations and don't constitute official acknowledgement of targeted killing or the drone program. This includes Obama's statements on the killing of U.S. citizen Anwar Al Awlaki - "the President plainly did not acknowledge whether the United States was responsible for his death" - and Holder and Brennan's speeches this spring, which, according to the motion, address only the "potential targeting" of U.S. citizens, but not specific operations.

However, the motion says the CIA can now acknowledge that it has some documents related to "the use of targeted lethal force" against U.S. citizens - including, namely, the public speeches given by Holder and Brennan this spring.

The motion cites some existing legal analysis related to targeted killing and those public speeches.

But it says the government can't reveal more about the documents - neither their names nor how many there are.

Because whether the U.S. was involved in specific targeted killings, or whether the CIA is involved in targeted killing - at all - remains classified.

Similarly, the motion says that to acknowledge any number of records on drones would reveal whether the CIA possesses drones.

Finally, the government's brief adds that a few of the documents sought by the FOIA requests could be identified but are protected under executive privilege - because they involve internal deliberations in the Office of Legal Counsel, or are related to preparations for public statements by administration officials or meetings with the president.

The ACLU's deputy legal director said that the organization is preparing its opposition brief. A federal appeals court will hear arguments in September in another of the ACLU's FOIA lawsuits over the CIA's drone program.

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Previously:
* Dissecting Obama's Standard On Drone Strike Deaths

* ProPublica: The Best Watchdog Journalism On Obama's National Security Policies

* Obama's Drone Death Figures Don't Add Up

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Comments welcome.


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:26 AM | Permalink

The Weekend in Chicago Rock

You shoulda been there.

1. Immortal Technique at the Metro on Friday night.


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2. Bailiff at the Green Music Fest on Saturday.

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3. Marillion at the Park West on Saturday night.

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4. Aerosmith at the big arena on the West Side on Friday night.

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5. Eumatik at the Abbey on Saturday night.

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6. Archnemesis at the Bottom Lounge on Saturday night.

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7. The Dear Hunter at the Bottom Lounge on Friday night.

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8. Sugarland in Tinley Park on Saturday night.

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9. Dinosaur Jr. at the Green Music Fest on Saturday night.

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10. Dream Theater at the Chicago Theatre on Saturday night.

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11. Cheap Trick at the big arena on the West Side on Saturday night.

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12. Skid Row at the House of Blues on Thursday night.

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13. The Organ Crushers at Reggie's on Thursday night.

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14. The Raveonettes at Subterranean on Saturday night.

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15. Collective Soul at the House of Blues on Saturday night.

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16. Hey Rosetta! at the Green Music Fest on Saturday.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:24 AM | Permalink

Anthony Rizzo's Magic Bag

Oh people, he's coming. The next guy to take away all the pain. He's so close we can taste his musk. And he's bringing with him a huge bag of hope. Anthony Rizzo, come on down! You are the next contestant on Make The Cubs Right!

But hope and a big bat aren't enough to do the job alone. We here at The Cub Factor request The Riz bring a long a few other items if he wants to turn this team into a winner.

* A diagram of the strike zone to hand out to his new teammates, along with a baseball dictionary definition of the word "walk."

* An answer key to all the stats Dale Sveum seems to look at but doesn't seem to really understand.

* Some pills for Matt Garza to "take the edge off."

* A closer.

* A huge bag of unmarked bills, as the money for the Wrigley renovation has to come from somewhere.

* Some miracle-grow grass feed for the infield to help slow down Tony Campana's bunts.

* Pink slips for 3/4ths of this roster.

* A special wand that turns water into Old Style.

* A Jenny Craig enrollment form for Geovany Soto.

* A Ritalin prescription for Starlin Castro.

* A third baseman.

* An enrollment form for the federal witness protection program for Alfonso Soriano, so we can just make him disappear.

* A time machine that advances us to 2016.

Week in Review: The Cubs went 2-4 for the week, winning two of three from the White Sox before getting swept by the D-Backs. But at least they won the White Sox series, and that counts for a lot, if you have the mentality of a 5-year-old.

The Week in Preview: The Cubs come home for three each against the Mets and Astros. If nothing else, they can peer into the future two years down the line as the Astros are well into their own rebuild. Just look at what the future holds!

The Second Basemen Report: Darwin Barney started six of seven games this week and collected four hits and one walk. His replacement in the one game he didn't start, Adrian Cardenas, had two hits in that one game alone. But don't think that Barney is going to lose much playing time. This is right where he has a decent week to make you think he might actually be kinda okay. Which is just how the ghost of Jim Hendry would have drawn it up.

In former second basemen news, the Tigers organization has released Eric Patterson. Patterson, 29, posted a .244/.365/.317 line in 267 plate appearances at Triple-A before he was let go. He last played for the Cubs in 2008. I'd like to say he is missed but I don't think he actually is.

Crazy Corners: With Ian Stewart on the DL, the Cubs have now gone almost exclusively with Luis Valbuena at the hot corner. And Luis had one solid game last week and nothing else, which makes it feel like Ian Stewart never really left.

Meanwhile, the book on Bryan LaHR has apparently been checked out by all major league teams by now but maybe that will change when some of that RIZ thunder makes it's way to town. LaHR has also been playing in right field and The CLEVENGER has been keeping the base warm for The RIZ.

Weekly Bunting Report: Too many late games this week to dissect the bunting. Let's just say Tony Campana tried to bunt a few times, for sure.

The Zam Bomb: Big Z gave up three earned runs in five innings but didn't get the loss - although the Marlins did lose - against the Red Sox this week. But he did get through five innings and didn't get out of the third inning in his previous two starts, which means Big Z is Getting Angry.

zam_gettingAngry.jpg

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Endorsement No-Brainer: Anthony Rizzo for sliced bread.

Ameritrade Stock Pick of the Week: Japanese imports traded much lower this week on news that Kosuke Fukudome was let go by the White Sox. He really just wasn't very good.

Sink or Sveum: 20% Analytical, 80% Emotional. Sveum stays way too emotional this week in his anti-hype hype of Anthony Rizzo. Pick a lane, Dale. Either embrace the hype or downplay it; you can't do both.

On a scale of Bat Sh#t Crazy, (Charles Manson), Not All There, (random guy with a neck tattoo), Thinking Clearly (Jordi LaForge), and Non-Emotional robot (Data), Dale is still just Not All There.

manson.jpgneck.jpg jordi.jpgdata.jpg

And just like your thought-to-be level-headed uncle, Dale can't wait to buy that new Dodge Charger, yet he says in the same sentence that his commute to church is short and he doesn't need all that horsepower.

Over/Under: The number of Anthony Rizzo jersey shirts sold at the ballpark this season: +/- a helluva lot less that Fukudome's a few years ago.

Don't Hassle The Hoff: Micah Hoffpauir has a six-game on-base streak, if I'm reading this right. And that is not a hassle!

Beachwood Sabermetrics: A complex algorithm performed by The Cub Factor staff using all historical data made available by Major League Baseball has determined that this could be Gary Scott all over again.

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

The White Sox Report: Know the enemy.

Fantasy Fix: One-Trick Tony.

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Contact The Cub Factor!

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:55 AM | Permalink

The Batboy, Dick Allen And The '72 Sox

A little more than two weeks ago my phone rang with a 602 area code on the caller ID, which I recognized as Phoenix. But the number was unfamiliar. After ascertaining that this wasn't a solicitation or wrong number, the caller said, "I hear you know a lot of White Sox trivia."

Being a humble and modest fellow who's been watching the Sox for more than 60 years, I ventured that I knew a few things about the franchise.

"Well, if you know so much, who was the Sox batboy in 1972?" the caller blurted. I countered that I knew the 1954 batboy for the Cubs since he was my future brother-in-law, but, no, I was stumped. "No clue," I said.

"Well, you're talking to him," was the response.

Turns out that Rory J. Clark, who indeed handled the batboy duties for the '72 team that was honored Sunday at the Cell, shares a mutual friend with me who slyly suggested to Rory that he make the call. I'm glad he did.

Rory and his 21-year-old son Elliott traveled from Arizona to be part of the weekend celebration, which will culminate Monday night with a dinner at the Stadium Club.

Unmistakably, Clark had impressive people skills at an early age, so I wasn't surprised to learn that for the past 25 years he's had his own consulting company, Impact Corporation. He has developed a month-long curriculum that teaches sales people every aspect of customer development.

Before yesterday's nail-biting 1-0 extra-inning win over the Brewers, Rory kibitzed on the field with former Sox Dick Allen, Bill Melton, Goose Gossage, Bart Johnson, general manager Roland Hemond, and others. Just two seasons removed from the 56-106 disaster of 1970, when attendance dipped to 495,000, the '72 crew went 87-67 and injected new energy and interest into the team, which had been rumored to be headed to St. Petersburg.

Much of the attention on Sunday centered on Dick Allen, now 70, who arguably had the finest season in Sox history in '72. Clubbing 37 homers, driving in 113 runs, batting .308, and leading the league in seven offensive categories, Allen easily garnered the 1972 MVP award, doubling the total votes for runner-up Joe Rudi.

Yet controversy followed Allen for much of his 15 seasons, including 1974 when he abruptly walked away from the Sox with two weeks remaining on the schedule. He became known as a typically spoiled athlete with a wealth of talent whose ego got the best of him.

Not everyone felt this way since Allen was not an uncomplicated individual, but I can't recall him ever answering his critics in the press or publicly.

Forty years heals many wounds, and Allen was beaming on Sunday when he threw a perfect first-pitch strike before a cheering and appreciative crowd.

* * *

Going back to that season of long ago, Allen took a liking to the then 17-year-old Clark, who was headed to Northwestern University that fall after graduating from St. Ignatius. They talked often, sometimes in the on-deck circle before Allen performed feats like hitting a 445-foot home run into the old Comiskey Park center-field bleachers or slugging towering shots onto the left field roof.

"One of our conversations involved some criticism he got for how he ran the bases because he didn't appear to hustle," Clark told me after Sunday's game. "After the criticism we were in the on-deck circle and I said, 'Hey Dick, you got a lot of criticism for not running real hard, and that last double you hit would be an example.

"He said, 'Rory, that was a double.' And I said, 'What do you mean?' He said, 'If it had been a triple, I would have gotten a triple. It was a double.' I said, 'I don't know what you mean.' He said, 'When I hit it, I knew it was a double. So I ran double speed.'

"A lot of guys would say that and be joking, but he absolutely meant it. He ran the bases with a precision that I have never seen in baseball ever. He touched the corner of the bag, and he ran the shortest route around the bases. He knew baseball inside and out."

Clark didn't exactly fall into his job that summer. He aggressively earned it. Living close to Comiskey, Rory previously had jobs such as vending and ushering, so he was known around the place. He described a meeting with Sox general manager Stu Holcomb, who had previously been the athletic director at Northwestern.

"I found out that two batboys were leaving [after the 1971 season], and I saw Stu Holcomb walking through the park one day," Clark said. "I walked up to him and I said, 'Hey Stu, you're going to be losing two batboys next year. I'd like to replace one of them.' He said, 'I don't hire batboys.' I said, 'I know you don't but you run the team, right? So you know who hires batboys, don't you?'

"I said, 'So then maybe you could take me down to introduce me to him and then I could get the job.' He said, 'Well, why would I do that?' I said, 'You were the athletic director at Northwestern, and I'm going there next year so we're almost brothers.' He looked at me kind of dumbfounded, and he said, 'Okay, come and see me when the team's out of town.' And then he introduced me to the clubhouse manager and I got the job."

Hanging out with the likes of Dick Allen might sound like a teenager's dream, but don't think that the job wasn't demanding. Rory arrived at the park three hours prior to game time and remained there three hours after the final pitch.

"Before the game my responsibility was stocking all the food and things we provided for the players, making sure that their lockers were straightened out, making sure the clubhouse was clean, getting their equipment into place," Clark said.

"We [worked] the game and then after the game we'd have to clean up the locker room, get rid of all the food, and then shine their shoes. We polished their shoes every night. The bane of our existence was when they went to California because California had red clay in the infield so not only did we have to shine the shoes when they came back, but we had to replace the shoestrings because they were all red and nasty. We hated it when they went to the West."

I've always wondered whether ballplayers more or less tone down their conversation when they're within earshot of the batboys. You know, the role model thing where foul language, talk about off-field escapades and boys-will-be-boys conversation is guarded around kids.

"The locker room is a fraternity," Clark said. "Everything that happened in the fraternity was known to everybody in the fraternity. I was privy to all of those things. I think that anybody who's ever been on a sports team would know what I'm talking about."

Rory tore through a number of other anecdotes about people like pitcher Bart Johnson and Tony Muser, "the two funniest guys on the team."

But ultimately the conversation came back to the enigmatic Dick Allen. "If you tell only part of the story, then all of a sudden you get the wrong idea about guys, and I think that's one of the reasons why Dick Allen is not in the Hall of Fame. People have a bad opinion of him for no reason. The guy was private and he was an introvert, but he's one of the greatest players to ever play the game of baseball. He knew baseball better than anybody."

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Together Again: Rory Clark and Dick Allen

RORY AND DICK.jpg

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The 1972 White Sox

1972WhiteSox.jpg

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Dick Allen Recalls . . . A Team Tighter Than Pantyhose Two Sizes Too Small

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Dick Allen Recalls . . . A Team That Had To Be The Blunt End Of A Stick

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

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:50 AM | Permalink

June 24, 2012

Chicagoetry: Zoo of Shadows

Zoo of Shadows

This is a memorial garden,
an Eden of dreams,

free to the public,
a regeneration of a 19th century
graveyard.

Little black holes linger
amidst the sculpted landscapes,
shade for scorpions.
They lengthen as the sun wanes.

The lion was my ambition:
not unrealized, but passed.

The seal was my agility,
zipping elegantly against the current.

The tortoise was my endurance:
thick, slow, sure

The giraffe was my arrogance:
above and aloof.

The monkeys were my laughter
and the toucans my sighs.

These were by no means stunted lives.
They merely kow-towed appropriately
to the tyrant Time.

They took the form of being
and have left a supple imprint,
veering silently across the gristle
and stone

as long as there is light.

The elephant, my ego, thrives.
Solid, salient, the sole survivor,
Lord of Scorpions.

The elephant yet weeps
and bleats

but he is happy.

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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 11:56 AM | Permalink

June 23, 2012

The Weekend Desk Report

Ever feel like you're the worst parent in the world? Don't worry. You're not.

Market Update
It's hard to feel triumphant when the underlying conditions are still so incredibly bleak.

Weak Constitution
Shit, ten mil? That's a bargain.

School Haze
It's hard to feel triumphant when the underlying conditions are still so incredibly bleak.

Bat For Sashes
Apparently, this whole feeling-good-in-the-face-of-overwhelming-bleakness thing gets a lot easier when you get to wear a bitchin' presidential sash.

Pyrrhic Victory
It's hard to feel triumphant when the underlying conditions are still so incredibly bleak.

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The Weekend Desk Tip Line: Sashy.

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The Sound Opinions Weekend Listening Report: "Jim and Greg love lists so much, they can't wait until the end of the year to make them. Tune in as they run down the Best Albums of 2012 . . . So Far. And later, they review Americana, the new album from rock legends Neil Young and Crazy Horse."

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

Community Forum: Center on Halsted

6-18-CenterOnHalsted.jpg

Center on Halsted's Brian Richardson shares how the community center builds and strengthens the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) community.

Saturday, June 23 at 7:30 p.m. on CAN TV21
25 min

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What Future for Our Youth? A Dialogue Between Cornel West & Carl Dix

6-18-WhatFutureOurYouth.jpg

Public intellectual Cornel West and longtime anti-police brutality activist Carl Dix discuss the impact of unemployment, racial bias, and other societal problems on young people, and potential solutions.

Saturday, June 23 at 8:30 p.m. on CAN TV21
2 hr 30 min

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2012 Human Rights Awards: Uniting for Equal Justice & Power

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The Chicago Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression recognizes the contributions of local individuals and organizations to defending human rights.

Sunday, June 24 at 9 a.m. on CAN TV21
1 hr 30 min

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United African Organization's 6th Annual Chicago Summit

CAN TV presents complete coverage of the summit sponsored by the United African Organization.

Africa Matters: U.S. - Africa Policy

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Panelists shed a light on the impact the United States' policies on health, governance and human rights in Africa, and the implications of China 's increasing involvement in the continent.

Sunday, June 24 at 10:30 a.m. on CAN TV21
1 hr 15 min

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One Voice: African Leadership in the U.S.

6-18-UAO-OneVoice.jpg

James Thindwa of Chicago ACTS joins this conversation about immigration, civic engagement, and community development among Africans in the United States.

Sunday, June 24 at 12 p.m. on CAN TV21
1 hr

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Africans in Chicago: Oral History

6-18-UAO-FatimaTraore.jpg

Fatima Traore, president of the Illinois Association of Hair Braiders, highlights how African artistic and storytelling traditions help immigrants maintain a sense of history and identity.

Sunday, June 24 at 1 p.m. on CAN TV21
1 hr

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Keynote Address: Mayor Rahm Emanuel

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Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel Mayor Rahm Emanuel delivers the keynote address at the culmination of the 6th Annual Chicago Summit on African Immigrants and Refugees.

Sunday, June 24 at 9 a.m. on CAN TV21
1 hr 30 min

Posted by Natasha Julius at 9:23 AM | Permalink

June 22, 2012

The [Friday] Papers

News on tap.

1. Gridlock in a bottle.

2. "When high-ranking University of Illinois administrator Craig Bazzani retired in 2002, the board of trustees praised him for his financial expertise, his efforts to modernize the university's operations and his knowledge of the state's political system," the Tribune reports.

"There was no mention of police work.

"Yet Bazzani, the university's longtime vice president for business and finance, is drawing a pension not as a regular university employee but under the more lucrative pension formula intended for university police officers and firefighters.

"As a result, he was able to retire with full benefits at age 55 and has collected roughly $365,000 more in pension payouts over the last decade than he would have under the regular formula, according to a Tribune analysis based on his pension records. During that time, he's received about $2.7 million from the State Universities Retirement System of Illinois, or SURS."

Craig Bazzani, you are Today's Worst Person in Illinois.

3. "The last thing you'd expect to see at a museum exhibit on the Vice Lords, one of the largest, most vicious black street gangs in Chicago, is a photograph of a cherubic white guy," John Kass writes for the Tribune.

"A cherubic white guy in a graduate's cap and gown, with just a hint of a smile. Mayor Richard J. Daley."

Click through to find out why - if you don't know already. And even then.

4. "The city of Chicago is paying fire department employees more than $80 million a year for perks that boosted their salaries by an average of more than $15,000 apiece last year, a Chicago Sun-Times analysis finds."

"The salary-boosting extras aren't reflected in the online database of city workers' pay that Mayor Rahm Emanuel created in what he described as an effort to provide greater transparency for taxpayers about how City Hall operates.

"According to the Emanuel administration's 'data portal,' fire department employees made an average of about $87,000 last year. But when you take into account the extras, that boosted the average salary for the department to about $104,000 a year, according to a Sun-Times analysis of city budget data."

Data is meaningless without a reporter to tell you what it means - and to find what's missing or misleading. That's just one reason why putting energy into FOIA reform is far, far more important than politicians and their self-satisfied data-geek friends creating data portals that do little to actually transmit useful knowledge to citizens. It's the data public officials don't want us to have that's most important.

5. "Bridgeview officials stung by a costly soccer stadium got an earful from angry residents Wednesday who complained of a lack of answers on how much the struggling venture will cost them," the Tribune reports.

(See Fire Stadium Burning Taxpayers.)

"Mayor Steven Landek, who is also an appointed state senator running for election this fall, at first offered to meet privately in the homes of the handful of residents who complained."

The man wants two public jobs but doesn't want to have to perform them in public.

"But resident Julie Padilla told Landek that her husband was so angry he wouldn't let Landek in their house, and then she and two other residents asked Landek to hold a public forum. Landek said he would, although no date has been set."

Julie Padilla's husband is Today's Best Person In Illinois.

6. Chicago guitar player Durante sues NBA basketball player Durant over nickname Durantula.

7. "A Detroit-area pizza chain is launching a new line of Great Lakes-themed pizzas to help support environmental efforts in the region," AP reports.

"Buddy's Pizza announced Thursday that $1 from each pie sold from its Made in Michigan Great Lakes Pizza Collection will be donated to the Alliance for the Great Lakes, a Chicago-based environmental group.

"Each of the five Great Lakes gets its own pizza. They include the Lake Michigan, which has ground beef, caramelized onions and blue cheese."

Down it with a bottle of ORD!

(I thought an Asian carp joke was too easy here.)

(Also, links mine.)

8. Average Raise In 2009-10 For CEOs Of 18 Nonprofits Double That For Private-Industry Workers.

9. The Week in Chicago Rock.

10. Boeing took $56 million from Chicago and Illinois taxpayers to move its headquarters here - peanuts compared to the billions it has received from the federal government, a small slice of which ($5 billion) was ruled illegal by the World Trade Organization. This despite being a hugely profitable company.

In fact, for the first quarter of this year alone, Boeing reported a profit of $923 million.

That's a nice chunk of change for a company that has mercilessly laid off more than 10,000 workers in recent years.

But then, Boeing has never exactly been a great corporate citizen, as the financial press has documented for years. BusinessWeek, for example, has summarized the company's scandalous culture several times.

So it's a little hard to stomach Boeing CEO Jim McNerney complaining that the regulatory climate in the United States is worse than its ever been. If only.

Worse, McNerney got a 34% raise last spring to $18.4 million.

Jim McNerney, you are Today's Worst Person in America.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Cold and refreshing.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:51 AM | Permalink

The Week in Chicago Rock

You shoulda been there.

1. Foster The People at the Congress on Wednesday night.


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2. Kimbra at the Congress on Wednesday night.

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3. Mogwai at the Metro on Wednesday night.

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4. MGMT at the Riv on Monday night.

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5. Pinback at Bottom Lounge on Sunday night.

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6. Audastic at Livewire on Sunday night.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:22 AM | Permalink

June 21, 2012

The Chambers Report: The Last Boy Of Summer

Roger Clemens was just acquitted of lying to Congress about using performance-enhancing drugs in the latest of so many tabloid sports stories that they no longer shock.

But it wasn't always that way, and the demarcation of public awareness about what really goes on in clubhouses is often marked as Ball Four, former pitcher Jim Bouton's rousing expose that blew the doors off the squeaky clean image of baseball and its heroes - in particular, Mickey Mantle, the subject of a biography last year by Jane Leavy called The Last Boy.

The two books together provide seminal reading for baseball fans and students of the American hero industry; links in a chain to today's sports universe.

For reasons not clear to me, I put off Ball Four (1980, updated 1990) until only last year. The initial loss was mine, but it was an error easily overcome in a 2011 blink. Despite the passage of decades, Ball Four seemed to me still entirely undated, just as fresh as it must have appeared to its millions of readers back at the end of baseball's innocent Middle Ages.

Among the central figures of Bouton's great book is, of course, Mickey Mantle, probably the most popular ballplayer of all time. Mantle's worshippers have been crossing my path through life almost since 1951, when he first came up to the Yankees as the likely heir apparent to Joe DiMaggio, the surly superstar who could brook no competition, certainly not in center field at Yankee Stadium, "The House That Ruth Built," to be sure, but by the '50s one that the isolated and moody DiMag claimed as pretty much all his own.

(The Babe retired in bitterness in 1935 and died from cancer in 1948; he lay in state for two days and nights in his hallowed Stadium, where 77,000 people filed past to pay their respects; another 75,000 watched his funeral cortege as it left St. Patrick's Cathedral a day or two later.)

Among the countless Mantle adorers who did not cross my way until last year is Jane Leavy, author of an earlier biography of Sandy Koufax and a comic novel Squeeze Play, called by Entertainment Weekly "the best novel ever written about baseball."

This claim is disputable, to be sure, but what is not in doubt is either Leavy's writing talent, her love for baseball, or her profound dedication to the Mick. Her Last Boy is a "warts-and-all" yet loving tribute to, perhaps, the least mature major leaguer ever, but one who nevertheless remains a genuinely tragic hero for many almost 20 years after his death in Dallas in 1995. To absorb her devotional pages is intimately to meet not only the legendary baseball genius from Commerce, Oklahoma, but also the gifted woman destined to be his greatest biographer ever. But first to Bouton.

* * *

Ball Four is probably the best known of all sports books and surely the most famous single volume about baseball.

Written almost 35 years ago, when it was first published in 1980 it created a furor and instantly made author Jim Bouton persona non grata to ballplayers and baseball executives everywhere.

Bouton's "crime" was to be the first to tell it like it was (and is) in the national pastime, particularly in the Big Leagues . . . from the playing field to the bullpen to "beaver shooting" from either a hole drilled in the dugout back wall or, later at night, with Mickey Mantle and the entire Yankee team atop a New York hotel roof with binoculars. This was salacious stuff three decades ago.

What is most interesting about Ball Four today, however, is that the shock factor has worn off, completely . . . and that is Bouton's gift to us.

With this one book about his experiences with the Seattle Pilots in 1968 (a team that lasted only one year), Bouton tore down all the shibboleths about youthful innocence and lovable All-American boys frolicking blithely in professional sports fields. Never again could we look at Mantle (or his fellow juveniles) as just a supremely talented, fun-loving kid from rural Oklahoma playing our favorite game.

Bouton revealed all - or almost all - of these players to be, as he put it, "fifteen-year-olds in twenty-five-year-old bodies," physically grown, well-muscled men who had been mostly spoiled and tended to all their lives . . . men who were largely uneducated do-nothings with little interest in much of anything beyond beaver, booze, and their sport (and even there the depth of interest was skin-deep); men who had never grown up - and never had to! They were still playing a game they played when they were six. And they were being paid to do it.

The world of professional sports today - controlled by obscene amounts of money, drugs, alcohol, sex, venal owners, and selfishness - is not (except for the Niagaras of cash flowing everywhere) really so different from the seeming Cro-Magnon baseball world Bouton, Mantle, and their ilk knew in the 60s. The major change is that everything in the soiled underbelly of that former world is now out in the open for all to see - every minute of every day in our sports- and media-crazed universe.

Yet somehow the game itself remains great, even so. Despite their immaturity, countless flaws, and rampant insecurities, we still admire the marvelous skills of these graceful athletes doing what they do best - hit, run, and throw.

* * *

The Last Boy is fantastically researched, smart and knowledgeable; a genuine labor of love.

Despite his multitudinous flaws, Mickey Mantle was probably the most lovable - and beloved - of all professional athletes. God-given gifts made him perhaps the best baseball player of all time, if only he hadn't squandered his talents so disastrously.

The greatest switch-hitter ever, the Mick was also, in his prime, both the strongest and the fastest of all players. He surely was the most popular player of his era. To this day - 17 years after his death by cancer and alcoholism - he remains an admired and controversial icon. One-of-a-kind.

But Leavy doesn't simply admire Mantle; she truly loves him, despite the egregious failings she so brilliantly displays - boozing, selfishness, non-stop profanity, constant womanizing (including pawing her), and so on. It's all here, beautifully put down.

Leavy demonstrates that Mantle really was "the last boy," a man-child who never grew up . . . and didn't have to. Worshipped for almost half a century, Mickey (note the child-like first name that fit so sonorously with his last, a combination unmatched in sports history) was so idolized that Everyone gave him things - alcohol, women, money, you name it. On top of this, his every move was followed by millions even well after his 1969 retirement.

Yet, despite their adoration, many of these same fans constantly wondered why one so fabulously endowed perversely persisted in destroying himself before their very eyes, both during his playing days and later.

Toward the end of his life, Mantle finally revealed a dawning self-awareness never hinted at before, as shown by a confession made at his last press conference in 1995: "God gave me a great body and an ability to play baseball. God gave me everything, and I just . . . pffttt!"

After a stay at the Betty Ford Clinic in the California desert near the end of his life, Mantle finally quit drinking, but it was too late. His totally wasted body was gone by age 64.

Leavy explores the dark side of his demise. Was his father Mutt Mantle the ultimate cause of Mick's downfall . . . or was sexual abuse? He had symptoms suggestive of a wide spectrum of psychological and physical ailments.

The Last Boy documents the end of an era when great athletes could no longer be protected by a press and public that looked the other way rather than destroy their iconic deities. Mickey, Billy, and Whitey got away with everything until their fellow Yankee Bouton finally pulled their protective curtain away.

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Previously in Bob's Books:
* Steve Jobs vs. Jack Kennedy

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:52 AM | Permalink

June 20, 2012

Republicans Back Down On Effort To Defund Transparency Rule

Republicans on the House Appropriations Committee today dropped an effort to defund a new Federal Communications Commission rule that will make political ad data available on the Internet.

The FCC rule, which was okayed by the commission earlier this year and is expected to go into effect sometime this summer or fall, would require TV stations to put detailed records on political ad buys on a new website. The files are currently public but are kept on paper at stations.

The broadcast industry has vigorously fought the rule. Earlier this month Rep. Jo Ann Emerson, R-Mo., chair of an appropriations subcommittee, added an amendment to a bill that would have blocked the FCC from using any funds to implement the transparency measure. The defunding amendment passed the subcommittee on a party-line vote.

The maneuver to defund the transparency rule attracted media attention and sparked outrage from outside public interest groups and Democrats.

But in a full committee hearing this morning, the Republicans backed down. Emerson offered a new amendment that removed the defunding language.

Under the revised bill, which passed the committee on a voice vote with bipartisan support, the General Accountability Office will simply conduct a study of the effect of the political ad rule on the TV ad sales market. The GAO will also look at the costs to broadcasters of putting political ad files online, which media companies have argued would be costly.

The amendment requires the FCC to report to the committee on its response to the GAO study, which is due by July 2013

Broadcasters are still fighting the FCC rule, which will not go into effect until the completion of a government review. The companies have sued in federal court to block the rule and also filed an appeal at the FCC.

Emerson, the subcommittee chair, did not immediately respond to our request for comment.

A Democratic aide on the Appropriations committee told ProPublica that the increasing attention on campaign finance after Citizens United made it difficult for Republicans to oppose the FCC's transparency rule.

"The backstory is that the majority thought they would slip this language in and no one would make a ruckus over it," the aide said. "I don't think the staff quite realized what they were getting into."

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Previously:
* Here's The Political Ad Data Chicago TV Stations Won't Put Online

* Meet The Media Companies Lobbying Against Transparency

* FCC-Required Political Ad Data Disclosures Won't Be Searchable

* Broadcasters Sue For Right To Hide Political Data

* New Political Ad Disclosure Rules Could Take Months

* Republicans Vote To Block Transparency On Political Ads

* Media Companies Make Yet Another Push To Defang Transparency Rule

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 11:07 PM | Permalink

The [Thursday] Papers

Working on a bunch of stuff this morning, not sure if there will be a column. A few quick notes, though:

* My Lasko fan, which is sort of like this one if not this one, has been a trooper. Had it for years. Part of a three-fan system I use in case of emergencies, but I've rarely even had to go to two fans because I get such a good cross-breeze in my place. Plus, a ceiling fan.

* I've fallen out of love with Chicago the last few years and this is really the last straw. Oh, who am I kidding, I'm way beyond the last straw.

I don't even attend Taste of Chicago - I mean, c'mon - but I have a couple times in the past because that sort of thing tends to inevitably happen to all of us, sort of like finding yourself on Rush Street and asking, How did I get here?, and I had the turkey legs and I remember and cherish the turkey legs as one of God's great gifts to his children.

* Does this make the Panera in Lakeview the Radiohead of the bakery-cafe category?

More on the concept from Time and USA Today.

Back to the Trib: "Panera turns the stores over to the Panera Bread Foundation, a tax-exempt organization that runs day-to-day operations. This frees the publicly traded restaurant company of its obligation to run a profitable business."

* Jesse Jackson Jr. avoiding John Kass's calls.

Related: The Illinois Campaign for Political Reform looks at the top recipients of Raghuveer Nayak's campaign cash.

* "There was much fanfare back in early 2010, when Chicago signed a nearly $2 million deal to install 280 electric vehicle chargers around the city and surrounding areas," the Expired Meter reports.

"Chicago and the State of Illinois kicked in $1.9 million (much of it federal stimulus money) for a project with 350Green,one of the nation's most aggressive developer of EV charging station networks, to install a total of 280 charging stations. The total cost was pegged at $8.8 million, with 350Green finding private funds for the nearly $7 million to fully fund the project.

"According to the 55-page city contract, all 280 charging stations were scheduled to be completed by the end of 2011. But now, six months after the original deadline, the project is only 60% complete, contractors have not been paid for work already completed and it seems the City of Chicago has stopped their payments to 350Green."

Maybe Obama and Romney should form a coalition government whereby Obama handles the assassinations and Romney handles the venture capital.

* The Goose Island Effect.

* The Last Boy Of Summer by our very own Bob Chambers.

* Republicans Back Down On Effort To Defund Transparency Rule.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Accidents happen.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 5:20 PM | Permalink

The [Wednesday] Papers

"The Merchandise Mart has emerged as the likely destination of Google Inc., which is in talks for a lease that could exceed 500,000 square feet and would allow the technology behemoth to put a new stamp on the 82-year-old structure," Crain's reports.

"If it completes a deal, the Mountain View, Calif.-based company would become the largest tenant in the largest office building in Chicago.

"At Google's request, [Vornado Realty] would add a roof deck on the 4.2-million-square-foot Merchandise Mart, giving Google employees spectacular views along the Chicago River."

Also among Google's demands: Ping pong tables, a gym and your privacy.

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The Mart is already the home to new tech hub 1871, which is a pretty crappy name for a venture innovating for the present and future. It also references a tragedy - the Great Chicago Fire - even though it's supposed to represent the city's recovery; you know, the grit and determination and coding it took to rise from the literal ashes.

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Calling it first: The Geek Mart.

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P.S.: "Google already leases more than 100,000 square feet nearby at 20 W. Kinzie St., where it employs about 450 sales and tech workers."

Selective Enforcement
"The Quinn administration is gearing up to hire a company to check the eligibility of Medicaid patients, a key part of a plan to cut $1.6 billion a year from the health insurance program for the poor," Crain's reports.

Also, neither the Quinn nor Emanuel administrations are hiring companies to check the eligibility of tax subsidy and TIF recipients. They already know most don't qualify.

Got Pot?
Rahm Emanuel makes Cannabis Culture.

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"To appease squeamish aldermen, Emanuel said he plans to earmark revenue from his proposal to educate schoolchildren on the dangers of drug and tobacco use," the Sun-Times reports. "The money would come from the $100-to-$500 tickets that would be issued to people caught with 15 grams or less or marijuana."

There's a better way to appease squeamish aldermen, Rahm. Anything else is a waste of money.

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Seriously, news reports should tell us how much 15 grams is. The uninitiated have no idea what this standard of enforcement entails. A joint generally has half a gram, though obviously there are no rules. You're probably talking 20 to 30 joints here. Or one Chonger.

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Former police chief Phil Cline expressed his skepticism to the Sun-Times:

"What do you do with the marijuana? The officer still has to come off the street to inventory it. Does the officer keep it until their tour is over, then go into the station? Are they gonna test the marijuana before you go to the hearing to make sure it really is marijuana? If they don't test it, the person is gonna say it was oregano and get off. All those questions have to be answered. It's not as easy as writing tickets."

A) The officer has to come off the street now. Under this proposal, that's where it ends - no costly arrests and prosecutions that mostly go nowhere.

B) My guess is that anyone who pays the ticket admits to their guilt just like a parking ticket. Wanna fight the ticket? Take it to an administrative hearing.

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Bridgeport Ald. James Balcer also unhelpfully weighed in:

"Could this lead to legalizing [marijuana]? Could it lead to more problems than we have with it - health issues, too? Let's be honest. Smoking isn't good for your health. Pot may be worse."

Yeah, not so much. And that doesn't even address cancer.

Electing James Balcer, however, has been proven to be hazardous to our health.

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North Side Ald. Tim Cullerton also brought his brilliance to the proceedings:

"I'd like to see the people who smoke grass go out and cut the grass at vacant buildings."

If that's a joke, you need new writers, alderman.

"Do some physical community service work that's meaningful, instead of just getting off with a minor fine."

A) I'm not sure most people see a $100 to $500 fine "minor."

B) Isn't the city enforcing its already-existent Vacant Property Guidelines?

Get on it, alderman.

One-Trick Tony
In Fantasy Fix.

Chicago Dude Update
Illuminati not after him after all.

Jottings
"New Belgium Brewing has selected Perkins+Will, a Chicago-based architectural firm, to design its upcoming brewery at a 17.5 acre brownfield site in North Carolina," Drinks Business Review reports . . . Their task: Make the brewery "sustainable" . . . Stay away from Norman and Johnson and their "prestigious Chicago address in the Quaker Oats Building right off West Wacker Drive" . . . Apparently it's a scam . . . Former Bear Alonzo Spellman was "released from the Tulsa County Jail after pleading no contest to a variety of charges . . . though to the Ohio media Spellman is a "former Buckeye" . . . "Police Capt. Marc Buslik said some Chicago police officers are allegedly working at the Congress while off duty, a violation of department policy," the Tribune reports . . . I was under the impression that coppers often took off-duty security assignments to make an extra buck . . . Clarify, please! . . . A survey conducted in part by a University of Chicago pediatrician found that "More than 50 percent of resident doctors report that they have worked at least once when they were sick with flu-like symptoms . . . ewww! . . . turn your head to the side and cough while I touch your balls with my clammy, fluey hands . . . "People in Chicago will have the rare chance to touch a nearly 4-billion-year-old piece of moon rock at NASA's Driven to Explore traveling exhibit, a multimedia experience that immerses visitors in the story of NASA. The exhibit will be at the Adler Planetarium from 9:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, June 20, and from 9:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Thursday, June 21."

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Ahem.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 4:30 AM | Permalink

Fantasy Fix: One-Trick Tony

Stolen bases are a stat category that some fantasy baseball owners take for granted, perhaps because some of the best base stealers can't do much else to help your fantasy team.

Still, if you lose the SBs category on a frequent basis, it could be worth using a bench spot on one of those fast one-trick ponies, even just to activate him at the end of the week when you need a few SBs to get you over the top.

Here are some of the top SB specialists widely available in most leagues:

Tony Campana, OF, CUBS: No surprise here, as Campana leads all of MLB with 24 SBs. His average is, well, average at .261, and you will get absolutely nothing else for your money. He doesn't even walk much. Available in 87% of Yahoo! leagues.

Rajai Davis, OF, TOR: Davis is third in the American League with 16 SBs, and is actually capable of an occasional extra-base hit - even a homer. Available in 89% of Yahoo! leagues.

Jordan Schafer, OF, HOU: Houston traded away one of the best base stealers in Michael Bourn, but they got this up-and-coming thief in the deal. He walks much more than Campana, and has 16 SBs even though he doesn't always start. Available in 74% of Yahoo! leagues.

Juan Pierre, OF, PHI: The old man can still do it, with 14 SBs, and a .325 average that means he can help your team's bottom line average even when he's not running. Available in 84% of Yahoo! leagues.

Ben Revere, OF, MIN: He has 11 SBs, so he is a little further down the list, but nine of those have come in the last month. Plus, he's hitting .328. Available in 79% of Yahoo! leagues.

Expert Wire
* Yahoo! Pick-ups of the Week leads off with Revere.

* Bleacher Report eyes the emergence of A's slugger Brandon Moss.

* FakeTeams says it might be time to trade for Tim Lincecum, suddenly one of the worst starters around but probably destined for better things.

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

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:01 AM | Permalink

June 19, 2012

Illuminati Not After Chicago Dude After All

Off the bath salts.


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Previously: Chicago Dude Does Bath Salts, Destroys Produce Aisle.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:03 PM | Permalink

The [Tuesday] Papers

"Illinois lawmakers have found a way to whittle $1.3 billion from state government's massive backlog of unpaid bills, but it comes too late for The Counseling Center of Lake View," AP reports.

"The Chicago nonprofit, a mental health services provider, shut down at the end of April, waiting on about $200,000 in state money.

"Anticipating an annual summer stall in the already-slow payments and eroded by years of cuts in state funding, Executive Director Sharon Kayser said the agency opted to close and find new places for 400 clients rather than continue to slowly fade away."

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"The state budget passed by the Illinois General Assembly cuts many services for low-income children," Progress IIllinois reports.

"For example, cuts in early childhood education could keep thousands of kids from getting a pre-kindergarten education.

"The cut follows an $80 million loss in early childhood education money from the past three state budgets. Those cuts translated to about 17,000 children losing access to a state-funded preschool education . . .

"The new budget also includes a 13 percent cut in state funding to the Department of Children and Family Services, expected to result in the layoffs of 375 agency workers from its current 2,900 workforce. Some of these are employees who directly work with children in situations of abuse and neglect."

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"[T]he budget the Illinois General Assembly sent the governor includes $857 million or 8.2 percent in state education budget cuts from fiscal year 2012 to fiscal year 2013, which begins July 1," Progress Illinois reports. "The cuts will especially impact less wealthy school districts that cannot turn to local property tax revenue in lieu of reduced state money."

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See also: CIty Schools Scaling Back Summer Programs.

Killed Not Tortured
"A U.N. investigator has called on the Obama administration to justify its policy of assassinating rather than capturing al-Qaeda or Taliban suspects, increasingly with the use of unmanned drone aircraft that also take civilian lives," Reuters reports.

"Citing figures from the Pakistan Human Rights Commission, he said U.S. drone strikes killed at least 957 people in Pakistan in 2010 alone. Thousands have been killed in 300 drone strikes there since 2004, 20 percent of whom are believed to be civilians."

See also: Obama's Drone Death Figures Don't Add Up.

Mail Call
"Chicago Police Department officials exchanged a total of 297 e-mails - an average of six a day - during last year's reinvestigation of a 2004 homicide case involving a nephew of then-Mayor Richard M. Daley, newly obtained records show," the Sun-Times reports.

"The police refuse to make public those e-mails concerning the case of David Koschman, who died after being punched in the face by Daley nephew Richard J. 'R.J.' Vanecko, an act they decided was self-defense. The case is now the subject of a probe by a special prosecutor appointed as a result of a Chicago Sun-Times investigation.

"Transcripts of the e-mails exchanged in January and February 2011 total 'several hundred pages of documents,' according to the police, who rejected a public records request for the emails.

"Citing an exemption in the Illinois Freedom of Information Act, they said the newspaper's request would be 'unduly burdensome' to fulfill. They estimated that 'reading, redacting and reviewing' those e-mails would take officials at least 40 hours."

Let's just play along for a moment. So one person for a week. How is that unduly burdensome? And let's face it, we all know that's an exaggerated time-frame.

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"The Sun-Times also asked for copies of any text messages that lead Detective James Gilger or others might have sent during the reinvestigation, which ended with the police closing the case without seeking any criminal charges - less than three months before Daley left office. But the city doesn't preserve those, officials said."

Doesn't that violate some sort of records retention policy?

*

"'It has been determined that the department does not have the capability to store or search for historical text messages sent and/or received from city-owned mobile devices,' the department said in a letter. 'The messages sent to/from these devices are stored exclusively by the city's contracted third-party cellular carrier and are retained for a period of no more than 30 days before being purged.'"

Whew! But we all know there is no such thing as "purged." Shadow copies exist somewhere. Don't law enforcement agencies subpoeana this stuff all the time?

Picket Fence
"On Friday, outside the front doors of the Congress Plaza Hotel, a group of striking hotel workers were joined by hundreds of supporters marching in a noisy picket line to mark the ninth anniversary of the nation's longest-running strike," Progress Illinois reports.

*

He hasn't been back.

Not For The Children
"Jerry Zeldenrust retired as a commander from the Lansing Police Department in 2008 and received quite a parting gift: a $26,000 raise on his last day, hiking his annual salary to $133,680," the BGA reports in the Sun-Times.

"It turned out to be a gift that keeps on giving.

"The last-minute pay hike meant that Zeldenrust's annual pension soared to about $96,000 a year - or roughly $19,000 more than it would have been had he retired at the same time without the salary hike."

*

"A BGA investigation found that Zeldenrust is hardly alone. Over the past 20 or so years, about 40 veteran Lansing police officers and firefighters were given salary boosts by the village as they were retiring, spiking their individual pensions by at least $6,000 each in the first year alone. All together, at least $2.5 million in added pension payouts have been distributed since this taxpayer-funded perk was created in 1993."

To serve, protect and game our pensions!

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"But it turns out the sweetener, which could cost Lansing taxpayers millions of dollars more in coming years, may not even be legal."

Hey, they're cops, not lawyers!

Not A Tech Town
"The most objective measurement available for the strength of Chicago's technology sector shows this city's performance leaves something to be desired. It ranked eighth in 2011, behind San Diego and about on par with Austin, Texas, a city with less than a third of Chicago's population," Melissa Harris reports for the Tribune.

That's about right, despite what her interview subject goes on to say.

Our FOIA, Ourselves
Our Secret Government.

The Loathsome World Of . . .
. . . Ivan Brunetti.

Tweeting Hawk
Crotch squirrels and colonoscopies.

Antidote
Wow, what a depressing column, although that Hawk piece is pretty funny. Let's try to brighten the mood.

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Huh. That didn't work either. I guess we'll try again tomorrow.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Up to you.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:46 AM | Permalink

Tweeting Hawk

During a Sox beatdown at the hands of the Cubs.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:08 AM | Permalink

June 18, 2012

The Loathsome World Of Ivan Brunetti

"Ivan Brunetti makes dark, misanthropic comics that channel taboo-laden subject matter - making his adoring readers gasp with relish," says GravityFreeDesign in a YouTube upload on Monday.

"Brunetti was born in Mondavio, Italy and moved to Chicago in the 1970s, always with a reverence for comic book art. He is most famous for his Schizo series, wherein he vents about capitalism, politics, and his own shortcomings.

"The Chicago Reader describes Brunetti's work as follows: 'A sense of humor as black an ink . . . a darkly funny, intensely personal, uncompromisingly nihilistic comic book.'

"Spin magazine writes, 'Brunetti's self-loathing and seething disgust is so unrelenting that it begs a simple question: What the hell is wrong with this guy?'

"He's contributed cover designs for The New Yorker magazine, and he is also the editor of An Anthology of Graphic Fiction, Cartoons, and True Stories.

"Currently, he teaches classes on comics, drawing, and design at Columbia College of Chicago."


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Tribune: There's No Comforting Cartoonist Ivan Brunetti.

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Bookslut: Interview (2009).

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:11 PM | Permalink

Obama's Drone Death Figures Don't Add Up

Last month, a "senior administration official" said the number of civilians killed in drone strikes in Pakistan under President Obama is in the "single digits." But last year "U.S. officials" said drones in Pakistan killed about 30 civilians in just a yearlong stretch under Obama.

Both claims can't be true.

A centerpiece of President Obama's national security strategy, drones strikes in Pakistan are credited by the administration with crippling al-Qaeda but criticized by human rights groups and others for being conducted in secret and killing civilians The underlying facts are often in dispute and claims about how many people died and who they were vary widely.

So we decided to narrow it down to just one issue: have the administration's own claims been consistent?

We collected claims by the administration about deaths from drone strikes in Pakistan and compared each one not to local reports but rather to other administration claims. The numbers sometimes do not add up. (Check out our interactive graphic to explore the claims.)

Even setting aside the discrepancy between official and outside estimates of civilian deaths, our analysis shows that the administration's own figures quoted over the years raise questions about their credibility.

There have been 307 American drone strikes in Pakistan since 2004, according to a New America Foundation count. Just 44 occurred during the Bush administration. President Obama has greatly expanded the use of drones to attack suspected members of al-Qaeda, the Pakistani Taliban, and other groups in Pakistan's remote northwest region.

Obama officials generally do not comment by name on the drone strikes in Pakistan, but they frequently talk about it to reporters (including us) on condition of anonymity. Often those anonymously sourced comments have come in response to outside tallies of civilian deaths from drone attacks, which are generally much higher than the administration's own figures.

The outright contradiction we noted above comes from two claims made about a year apart:

* April 22, 2011 McClatchy reports that U.S. officials claim "about 30" civilians died in the year between August 2009 and August 2010.

* May 29, 2012 The New York Times reports that, according to a senior Obama administration official, the number of civilians killed in drone strikes in Pakistan under president Obama is in the "single digits."

As we also show in our interactive graphic, other anonymous administration claims about civilian deaths are possible but imply conclusions that seem improbable.

Consider:

* April 26, 2010 The Washington Post quotes an "internal CIA accounting" saying that "just over 20 civilians" have been killed by drones in Pakistan since January 2009.

* Aug. 11, 2011 The New York Times reports that CIA officers claim zero civilians were killed since May 2010.

* Aug. 12, 2011 CNN quoted a U.S. official saying there were 50 civilians killed over the years in drone strikes in Pakistan.

If this set of claims is assumed to be accurate, it suggests that the majority of the 50 total civilian deaths occurred during the Bush administration - when the drone program was still in its infancy. As we've noted, in the entire Bush administration, there were 44 strikes. In the Obama administration through Aug. 12, 2011, there were 222. So according to this set of claims more civilians died in just 44 strikes under Bush than did in 222 strikes under Obama. (Again, the graphic is helpful to assess the administration assertions.)

Consider also these three claims, which imply two lengthy periods when zero or almost zero civilians were killed in drone strikes:

* September 10, 2010 Newsweek quotes a government estimate that "about 30" civilians were killed since the beginning of 2008.

* April 22, 2011 McClatchy reports that U.S. officials claim "about 30" civilians died in the year between August 2009 and August 2010.

* July 15, 2011 Reuters quotes a source familiar with the drone program as saying "about 30" civilians were killed since July 2008.

It's possible that all these claims are true. But if they are, it implies that the government believes there were zero or almost zero civilian deaths between the beginning of 2008 and August 2009, and then again zero deaths between August 2010 and July 2011. Those periods comprise a total of 182 strikes.

The administration has rejected in the strongest terms outside claims of a high civilian toll from the drone attacks.

Those outside estimates also vary widely. A count by Bill Roggio, editor of the website the Long War Journal, which bases its estimates on news reports, puts the number of civilian killed in Pakistan at 138. The New America Foundation estimates that, based on press reports, between 293 and 471 civilians have been killed in the attacks. The London-based Bureau of Investigative Journalism, which draws on a wider array of sources including researchers and lawyers in Pakistan, puts the number of civilians killed at between 482 and 832. The authors of the various estimates all emphasize that their counts are imperfect.

There are likely multiple reasons for the varying counts of civilian deaths from drone strikes in Pakistan. The attacks are executed remotely in often inaccessible regions. And there's the question of who U.S. officials are counting as civilians. A story last month in the New York Times reported that President Obama adopted a policy that "in effect counts all military-age males in a strike zone as combatants."

There are also ongoing debates in the humanitarian law community about who the U.S. may legitimately target with drone strikes and how the CIA is applying the principle of proportionality - which holds that attacks that might cause civilian deaths must be proportional to the level of military advantage anticipated.

In a rare public comment on drone strikes, President Obama told an online town hall in January that the drones had not caused "a huge number of civilian casualties."

When giving their own figures on civilian deaths, administration officials are often countering local reports. In March 2011, for example, Pakistanis including the country's army chief accused a U.S. drone strike of hitting a peaceful meeting of tribal elders, killing around 40 people. An unnamed U.S. official rejected the accusations, telling the AP: "There's every indication that this was a group of terrorists, not a charity car wash in the Pakistani hinterlands."

Unnamed U.S. officials told the Los Angeles Times last year that "they are confident they know who has been killed because they watch each strike on video and gather intelligence in the aftermath, observing funerals for the dead and eavesdropping on conversations about the strikes."

U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay said during a visit to Pakistan this month that there should be investigation of killings of civilians by drones and that victims should be compensated. The U.S. has given compensation to victims of airstrikes in Afghanistan but there are no reports of victims of drone strikes in Pakistan being compensated.

Since the various administration statements over the years were almost all quoted anonymously, it's impossible to go back to the officials in question to ask them about contradictions.

Asked about the apparent contradictions, National Security Council spokesman Tommy Vietor told ProPublica: "[W]e simply do not comment on alleged drone strikes.

Additional reporting by Cora Currier.

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Previously:
* Dissecting Obama's Standard On Drone Strike Deaths

* ProPublica: The Best Watchdog Journalism On Obama's National Security Policies

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 5:29 PM | Permalink

Our Secret Government

"It took Ed Mrkvicka Jr. a year under the improved Illinois Freedom of Information Act to get a two-page state disciplinary report about a real estate agent," the Northwest Herald reports.

"The Marengo resident and his daughter filed two FOIA requests with the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation. Not only did the agency ignore the request, but it also had ignored the Illinois Attorney General Public Access Counselor's order to submit the documents for review.

"Suffice it to say, Mrkvicka doesn't think highly of the new and stronger law.

"'It's tantamount to fraud to let Illinois believe that we in fact have a [Freedom of Information] law that has teeth in it, because we don't,' Mrkvicka said.

"Audits of governments' compliance with the law - both before and after the reforms took effect - lend weight to Mrkvicka's skepticism.

"Watchdog groups before the reforms found mass noncompliance among Illinois' local governments. A new audit two years into the stronger FOIA finds that little has changed.

"The Illinois Campaign for Political Reform submitted FOIA requests to 400 governments statewide - 43 percent of them violated the law by never even responding to the request, according to its April report.

"The result mirrors pre-reform analyses done by The Associated Press and the Better Government Association showing that many of the state's 7,000 units of government don't provide the public with the public records paid for by their tax dollars."

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From the ICPR's April report:

"The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) enshrines the idea that government records belong to the people of Illinois. The Act begins with this broad declaration:

Pursuant to the fundamental philosophy of the American constitutional form of government, it is declared to be the public policy of the State of Illinois that all persons are entitled to full and complete information regarding the affairs of government and the official acts and policies of those who represent them as public officials and public employees consistent with the terms of this Act. (5 ILCS 140/1)

"In practice, the FOIA falls short of the goal of assuring that 'all persons' have 'full and complete information.' The goals of FOIA are blocked by public officials who do not follow, or perhaps do not even know, their obligations under the law. And sometimes the goal of transparency is frustrated by changes to the law that deny the public access to documents for political rather than policy reasons."

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See Rahm's Fake Transparency.

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"In August of 2011, ICPR sent over 400 FOIA requests to units of government around the state. We found units that did not know their obligations under the law, who refused to send records in their possession, and who attempted to charge unauthorized fees. Over 43% of our requests went unanswered, getting no reply at all in clear violation of state law."

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"In August of 2011, ICPR sent requests under FOIA to over 400 units of government around the state. We have been sending similar requests since 2007 to many of the same units of government. Indeed, some have told us they look forward to our requests every year. These requests are not surprises to most of the recipients. We contacted each unit by telephone in June and July in order to confirm their mailing address and to ask if they accept FOIA requests by e-mail. All told, we sent 187 requests by the US Postal Service, all placed into first class mail on Monday, August 8, and 214 requests by e-mail, sent in two roughly equal batches, at 10 am on Tuesday August 9 and Wednesday, August 10.

"FOIA says that units of government must reply to a request within five days. This reply may be a denial of the request, a full response with requested documents, or they may take one extension if they need additional time to gather requested records. Although not every public body surveyed has contractual lobbyists, each public body is required by law to respond to the request (either with the provided records or explaining that there are no such records to be provided) within the statutory deadline. By law, we should have received correspondence of some kind from all of these units by the end of August.

"In fact, by the end of August we had received correspondence from just 56% of the units to which we has sent requests - a failing measure by any standard. Some types of units were better than others. Convention Centers, which accounted for 13 of the units we surveyed, had sent full replies to our requests from 11 Centers, an 85% response rate. At the other extreme, charter schools, which were a new addition to our search this year, sent full replies only 23% of the time.

"ICPR's findings come just months after state lawmakers and Gov. Pat Quinn approved a rollback to the law, instituting new roadblocks to some FOIA requestors. The new law allows public bodies to delay responding indefinitely to requests made by people who submit a large number of requests for records under FOIA."

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"Six months after the FOIA requests were mailed and e-mailed, we have not received responses from 170 public bodies - over 42.3 percent of the public bodies surveyed overall. Some of these are very large public bodies, including the City of Chicago and Cook County."

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See City Can't Abide Blind Faith In Mayor's Trust.

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"Charter schools had the lowest response rate: only 16 of 108 responded within 10 working days. And six months later, 76.9 percent of charter schools surveyed have yet to respond at all (83 of 108)."

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See Charter Schools Report Card.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 1:50 PM | Permalink

SportsMonday: My Son The Scorekeeper

My 13-year-old son Noah loves to keep score at Cubs games. Doing so gives him a chance to participate in a spectator sport in a way that doesn't exist when we watch basketball or football or whatever else. Of course, he also loves to have information that others don't and then to fill them in on the gaps in their knowledge. Keeping score gives him a great chance to do that.

By the time a sixth inning of a given game rolls around, just about the time the conversation begins to lag during game-day get-togethers I have at the park, Noah starts busting out the little tidbits of information provided by his careful record-keeping.

It is exhausting at times but my wife reminds me that soon he probably won't talk to us hardly at all. A part of me pines for those future days but I think the bigger part knows she's right and that I better try hard to cherish our current interactions.

We took in the Cubs-Red Sox tilt on Sunday and by very good fortune we were able to settle into our seats literally as the Cubs were taking the field in the top of the first. I went for a beer and a Pepsi and Noah locked it down in his spot in the upper deck reserved for the next two hours.

Our seats are tough on hot summer nights. We are a little ways down the right field line (I have written before that if you draw a line from third base to first and then up into the stands, we are right on that line extended). The sun beats down on us for a good hour after the game begins before finally dropping below the upper-deck roof as it accelerates toward the horizon.

But Noah (who both handles the heat better than his dad and also had the foresight to wear sandals on this given night while his goofball dad stomped around in socks and shoes) was perfectly happy to sit in the heat and record every little detail about the game unfolding in front of him.

The last few years have been great because his dad can take trips to the concessions stand in part to track down food and drink and in part to cool off a little and he is all good sitting in his seat and focusing intently on just about every pitch. I'm thinking he maybe had to ask me twice last night "What happened?" And as any committed scorekeeper can tell you, that is an awfully good rate.

The main positive that flowed from this evening of scorekeeping was that we knew when Starlin Castro came up in the eighth inning, he was going for the cycle. After we had an argument about how rare cycles are - I said they were much less rare than perfect games, he disagreed and I don't really want to know what the right answer is because let's just say he reads a lot of books about baseball - we watched Castro step up and crush ball to right-center. But as is often the case with Castro (who has great gap power but rarely lofts the ball into the stands), the ball didn't carry and the outfielder was able to flag it down for the out.

Still, it had been a great night on the Castro stat line; the sort of night the young shortstop has with remarkable frequency.

I have to say that the baseball numbers contained in the scorecard are oftentimes mundane but are at least occasionally delightful. Noah was able to tell me at one point "Dad, the pitchers for both teams right now have the same number, number 37."

Still, I go to games for scenes like the Cubs' rally for their second run. Reed Johnson had doubled and after Darwin Barney failed to get him over to third with one out, Castro stepped up and hit a sky-high pop-up into shallow right.

I actually am in a great spot at games to evaluate whether pop-ups qualify as sky-high. This one did because it arched up and out of sight for a moment above the roof. As it came down, we realized that the Red Sox's awesome little second baseman Dustin Pedroia was scrambling like mad to get under it. He managed to do so but then the ball popped out of his glove. Johnson rounded third and raced for home and slid in head-first just under the tag. Castro took second. It was probably better he didn't hit for the cycle because that was a pretty weak double. The achievement would have required an asterisk.

In the end, Noah's tired (not because of excessive conversation but because it had been a long weekend) dad forced him to leave before the ninth inning of yet another disappointing Cubs performance. Fortunately I was able to sooth the savage scorekeeper by pointing out that he would still be able to complete his scorecard. The game's official play-by-play would be on ESPN.com - probably by the time we got home.

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Jim "Coach" Coffman welcomes your comments.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 11:07 AM | Permalink

Bargain Broken

Apparently Dale Sveum didn't get the memo.

This was supposed to be a new Cubs era.

One typified by the oft-repeated mantra of "Playing the game right."

One that stressed fundamentals.

And accountability.

Starting with the little things.

Like hustling out of the box on a batted ball.

Instead, we're back to how great of a teammate Alfonso Soriano is. What, he brings candy to the clubhouse every day?

No matter how great Soriano may be in the clubhouse, he's a selfish dolt on the field. And that's the worst kind of teammate you can be.

Unfortunately, we can now induct Sveum into the Kubs Kulture Hall of Fame.

His defense of Soriano's latest blunder comes on top of the realization that his definition of "last straw" doesn't include the word "last."

Cubs fans accepted an implicit bargain with Theo Epstein when he correctly gauged that they would accept a rebuilding that Red Sox fans wouldn't; the key part of that bargain was that we would be treated to a young, hustling team built on the fundamentals as we worked our way through the pain.

Sveum, as a former hard-nosed grinder himself, was supposed to mold this team in his image toward that end. Without even getting to his awful strategic errors, Sveum is failing badly.

Cubs fans will accept losing - for now - but not losing like this. It's not what we signed up for.

The Week in Review: The Cubs went 2-4 for the week, winning the opening games in interleague series' against the Tigers and Red Sox before dropping the next two in both. The Cubs are now a major league-worst 22-44 with a win percentage (.333) that is still higher than the on-base percentage of all but three Cubs.

The Week in Preview: The Cubs head to the South Side for three against the White Sox and then to Arizona for three against the D-backs. Ryan Dempster is scheduled to start on Wednesday if he's still a Cub.

The Second Basemen Report: Darwin Barney started all six games at second because he is the Cubs' second baseman. The ghost of Jim Hendry is not happy.

In former second basemen news, Aaron Miles is retiring after a scrappy little career that came to a screeching halt once he arrived here in Chicago. He is missed.

Crazy Corners: Dizzy Dale Sveum continues to sit All-Star Game candidate Bryan LaHair against lefthanders in favor of Jeff Baker, who, ahem, is more naturally a third baseman. With Ian Stewart on the DL and Joe Mather in center field against lefties instead of major league steals-leader Tony Campana, non-prospect Luis Valbuena is now getting starts at third. By the way, Sveum's righty platoon against lefthanders is 3-15.

Weekly Bunting Report: Bob Brenly wants Campana to bunt almost every time he comes to the plate, and why not? At some point the infield will draw in enough for Campy to get some real base hits, too. With his speed, developing Campana should be a top Cubs priority. Get it, Dale?

The Zam Bomb: It's happening in Miami - a Carlos Zambrano meltdown. First he gave up seven earned runs in 2 1/3 innings in a 13-4 loss to the Rays and complained of back stiffness. Then manager Ozzie Guillen said he was restricting Zambrano's batting practice habit of swinging for the fences. (Sound familiar?) Then he was chased in the third in the return match against the Rays on Thursday. I think we all know what's coming.

zam_gettingAngry.jpg

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Endorsement No-Brainer: Theo Epstein for The Price Is Right because it's time to open the bidding.

Ameritrade Stock Pick of the Week: Shares of 2015 fell sharply this week in favor of 2016.

Sink or Sveum: 20% Analytical, 80% Emotional. A sinking Sveum fell an astonishing 12 points on the Dale-O-Meter this week due to his overly emotional attachment to pseudo-analytical strategies like his right-handed platoon lineup that clearly do not work. His pathetic defense of Alfonso Soriano's failure to run out a botched soft liner to third with two on and two out late in the game also did lasting damage. On a scale of Bat Sh#t Crazy (Charles Manson), Not All There (random guy with a neck tattoo), Thinking Clearly (Jordi LaForge) and Non-Emotional robot (Data), Dale is really more Not All There than Bat Sh#t Crazy.

manson.jpgneck.jpg jordi.jpgdata.jpg

And just like your thought-to-be level-headed uncle, Dale totally followed instructions when he tried to fix your car but for some strange reason the wipers go on when you turn on the radio.

Over/Under: The number of times Soriano won't hustle out of the box for the remainder of the season: +/- every time.

Don't Hassle The Hoff: Micah Hoffpauir is hitting .306 and had both a homer and a walkoff sacrifice fly this week for the second-place Nippon Ham Fighters. Don't hassle him.

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

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

The White Sox Report: Know the enemy.

Fantasy Fix: Cubs For Sale.

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Contact The Cub Factor!

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:54 AM | Permalink

The Weekend in Chicago Rock

You shoulda been there.

1. Skrillex at Soldier Field on Saturday night.


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2. Friends at Schubas on Saturday night.

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3. Curumin at the Double Door on Thursday night.

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4. The Hold Steady at Taste of Randolph Street on Sunday.

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5. Jonathan Coulton at the Double Door on Saturday night.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 3:36 AM | Permalink

Sis Boom Bah

My friend Roger Zanarini had been after me for a few years to join him in Omaha for the College World Series, so last weekend we finally made the trip to see four games and all eight teams in two days. I'm glad I did.

Zanarini isn't exactly a stranger in Omaha. In the past 41 years, the only CWS he's missed was last year when his home in Dakota Dunes, South Dakota - about 100 miles north of Omaha - took on 39 inches of water thanks to the swollen Missouri River. Okay, it's a flimsy excuse for missing out on the big four-oh, but I can forgive him. He's the same guy who's played golf in all 50 states, so streaks and records obviously carry some weight with Roger.

Play continues in Omaha all this week as the national champion will be crowned next Monday or Tuesday.

TD%20Ameritrade%20Marquee.jpgOmaha has been host to the collegians since 1950, and the city's new jewel is TD Ameritrade Park The Trade, if you will - which opened for the 2011 Series at a cost of $140 million.

The place is impressive. It seats 24,000 and basically all 16 or 17 games are a sellout. Attendance last year was more than 360,000, and The Trade was packed last weekend with legions of college kids but also people like ourselves who simply enjoy baseball.

The previous site, Rosenblatt Stadium built in 1947, sits about two miles south, awaiting demolition to create additional parking for the adjacent Omaha Zoo. We drove over to view the old lady and found the depressing tableau of a ballpark surrounded by fencing with "No Trespassing" signs, awaiting its fate.

According to Inside Pitch magazine, the city poured more than $7 million into improvements for Rosenblatt over the last 10 years. The Omaha Storm Chasers, the Royals' Triple-A farm team, used to call Rosenblatt home, but they too opened a new ballpark in 2011, 9,000-seat Werner Park about 17 miles southwest of downtown. Apparently money isn't a problem when it comes to ballparks in Omaha.

Going back downtown, a party atmosphere prevails as you walk through the streets and parking lots surrounding The Trade. This is an NCAA event, so there are no beer sales inside the park. However, the flood at Zanarini's house pales in comparison to the barrels of beer consumed by the college kids and others at the bars and restaurants adjacent to the ballpark. If you can't get buzzed at the ballgame, just walk across the street.

Road%20to%20Omaha%20statue.jpgThe sculpture The Road to Omaha was brought over from Rosenblatt and now resides on the street corner behind the home plate entrance to The Trade.

I've seen many memorable monuments to baseball, but this one ranks near the top.

Inside we found mascots, up to 30 or 40 beach balls being batted around the outfield bleachers, pig sooey cheers for the Arkansas Razorbacks, enough waves to make you puke, and other collegiate behavior which clearly sets this event apart from any baseball I've witnessed.

I expected to see a slew of major league teams represented with scouts seated behind home plate, but I found just a few. Since the draft had been held only 10 days earlier, many of the players already had been selected.

Nevertheless, Butch Baccala from the Mariners had his notebook, stopwatch, and speed gun handy as he surveyed the scene. Seattle had selected Florida catcher Michael Zunino, the collegiate player of the year, with the third overall choice, and the Gators were part of the eight-team field.

"I'm here basically to watch Michael and also to see some of the players who will be eligible for next year's draft," said Baccala, who primarily covers the West Coast, prior to watching Zunino and his teammates fall 7-3 to defending champion South Carolina.

Baccala has been a scout for Seattle, Cincinnati, and Atlanta for 23 years after a brief two-year career as a pitcher in the Phillies organization. He first saw Zunino when he was "11- or 12-years old," and he's enthused about the kid's prospects.

"He's a solid, solid baseball player that has the skills offensively and defensively," Baccala said. "He has a chance to hit home runs, he's a plus defender and has great intangibles. He's a leader, a solid character guy, the type of guy you want to add to your organization, especially when you're a last-place team like we are. You're trying to get players who are good and who have the make-up. He fits all those. Michael has proven himself for years that he stands at the top, and now he's going to get a chance to prove his worthiness on a major league field."

South Carolina wasn't much interested in letting Zunino beat them, twice walking him intentionally. The Cape Coral, Florida, native struck out in the first inning but later drove in a run with a sacrifice fly.

I asked Baccala if he was familiar with White Sox first-round pick Courtney Hawkins, the high school outfielder from Corpus Christi, Texas.

"That's a good draft," he said. "The Hawkins kid is an absolute beast. The White Sox have done a good job of getting big, physical guys, and he fits right into the mold of players they've signed."

I was curious whether Baccala had seen Moneyball - especially the scene where Billy Beane (Brad Pitt) winds up firing one of his scouts after a heated discussion about how to evaluate baseball talent. The scout, Grady Fuson, comes across as old school and at odds with Beane's sabermetric philosophy. Baccala had seen the film.

"I think a lot of that was inaccurate," he said. "I know Grady Fuson very well. Grady is a stand-up guy and he's a scout's guy. All I would say about the whole Moneyball issue is after two years of doing it that way, Oakland went back to drafting high school players."

Heading back to my seat along the third-base line, I was impressed by a number of aspects of college ball. Fundamentally, these kids are well-schooled. For instance, in four games, I saw 12 successful sacrifice bunts. A couple of others were thwarted by defensive gems. These kids were able to deaden the ball and lay down successful bunts as good or better than big leaguers despite using these BBCOR bats, hyped as performing like wood. They sure don't sound like it.

CWS%20action%202.jpg

Later Saturday night, I watched Alejandro De Aza, obviously using wood, put down a splendid sacrifice bunt in the ninth inning of the Sox 5-4 win over the Dodgers. De Aza is one of the few Sox - Alexi Ramirez and Eduardo Escobar are others - who can bunt successfully. In Omaha it seemed like everyone was a threat to lay one down.

Tonight the Cubs and Sox begin another three-game set, this time on the South Side. Zach Stewart will make the start for our guys. He pitched for Texas Tech. Matt Garza goes for the Cubs. His school was Cal State-Fresno. And now here they are.

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

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:48 AM | Permalink

The [Monday] Papers

"A Chicago police officer cracked Greg Larkins' head open with a baton back in 2006, requiring him to be stitched up at a hospital," the Tribune reported over the weekend.

"Within a few days, several relatives of Larkins who said they witnessed the allegedly unprovoked attack gave statements to an investigator for the city. His mother also handed over photos of his injuries.

"Yet more than five years passed before the Independent Police Review Authority, which investigates allegations of wrongdoing against police, filed charges of excessive force against Officer Bruce Askew and called for his firing."

And guess what?

"[T]he long delay proved costly. Late last month, the Chicago Police Board, which decides the most serious disciplinary cases, dismissed the charge not based on the evidence, but because by state law, the disciplinary action had to be filed before a five-year statute of limitations ran out."

And those delays don't do the cops any favors either.

"IPRA is under fire for investigations that have lingered for years, jeopardizing in at least a few cases the firings of police officers that the superintendent had deemed unfit to serve. But the officers' lawyers say the delays are just as damaging to officers trying to defend themselves against charges they deny."

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Related:

"The city of Chicago must pay one of its police officers $30,000 after a jury found the Chicago Police Department tolerated discrimination by a police sergeant," Business Management Daily reports.

"Officer Detlef Sommerfield came to the U.S. from Germany as a child in 1982. As someone whose relatives had been persecuted in the Holocaust - including an aunt who had died in a Nazi concentration camp - Sommerfield was upset when his superior, Sgt. Lawrence Knasiak, called him 'Nazi' and 'Jew boy.'

Sommerfield first filed an Internal Affairs complaint against Knasiak in 2004. Nothing happened for three years. Finally, in 2007, Internal Affairs substantiated Sommerfield's claims.

"It ordered a 10-day suspension for Knasiak, but he elected to retire instead.

"Sommerfield continued to pursue the matter, and eventually sued the city in state court. The jury's award doesn't end the litigation. Federal discrimination charges against the Chicago P.D. are still pending."

Rodney King
I was working as a police reporter at the dreadful Courier of Waterloo, Iowa, when the Rodney King incident happened, and I'll never forget the reporter there who refused to believe the Los Angeles police had done anything wrong. "I know video can lie," she told me. She could never explain, though, how the video that the nation saw over and over was lying. She just had too much faith in authority to see it any other way.

She is far more emblematic of our press corps than I am.

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King was in the cast of Celebrity Rehab a few seasons ago and it was striking - and tremendously sad - to see that he hadn't really processed what happened to him that night at all. Then, in a one-on-one session, he opened up to Dr. Drew. That's the interview on videotape interspersed with this April call-in show on CNN.

Managing Media Messages
"David Axelrod - the top campaign adviser to President Barack Obama - sold his ownership stake in ASGK Public Strategies in 2009, when he became a senior White House adviser," the Sun-Times reports.

"But Axelrod didn't cut his ties to the Chicago public relations firm completely. He still has an office there. His name is on the door. His old partners are still paying him the five annual $200,000 payments they agreed to when they bought him out.

"Now, two of the firm's clients - Citibank and the Chicago Cubs - have a lot riding on decisions to be made by Mayor Rahm Emanuel, the Axelrod friend and former White House colleague who ran on a pledge to reform a City Hall he described as riddled with influence-peddling."

The City Hall run by Richard M. Daley - a longtime ally of Rahm Emanuel - who paid hefty sums to David Axelrod to craft an image conveying just the opposite?

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"ASGK quietly has played a role in a number of major issues at City Hall, among them helping win City Council approval in 2008 for the Chicago Children's Museum's now-abandoned plan to move from Navy Pier to Grant Park.

"The firm's executives don't register as lobbyists because they say they don't ever directly lobby - contacting public officials on behalf of their clients. Rather, they say they help clients get their stories out in other ways - with 'media relations, message development, advertising, social media and constituency relations.'"

In other words, propaganda.

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"Another Axelrod-founded firm - AKPD Media and Messaging - recently produced ads critical of the Chicago Teachers Union, which is embroiled in a contract dispute with Emanuel. AKPD oversaw Emanuel's ad blitz during his mayoral campaign, and the firm is a paid consultant to his political committee, state records show."

Who needs Republicans when Democrats can put a human face on hating teachers and unions.

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"Both AKPD and ASKG are housed at the same River North address that's also home to Axelrod Strategies, the firm he founded upon leaving the White House last year. 'I rent space in my old offices, but I work full-time out of Obama headquarters these days,' Axelrod says.

"ASGK's managing partner, Eric Sedler, won't talk about the work the firm is doing for the Cubs and Citibank.

Dennis Culloton, spokesman for the Cubs' owners, won't say what ASGK is doing for the team but says it was hired in the past year and answers to Michael Lufrano, the team's general counsel and executive vice president of community affairs."

For a media messaging firm, a lot of people sure refuse to speak to the media.

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"Citibank and a fund called Citi Infrastructure Partners - which won't talk about ASGK's work - were two of the five financial institutions that Emanuel singled out at a March 1 news conference with former President Bill Clinton at which he announced the formation of the Chicago Infrastructure Trust. Citibank and Citi Infrastructure Partners told city officials they're considering investing as much as $200 million apiece in the initiative, which is designed to use private dollars to pay for public works projects."

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"Ald. Will Burns (4th) - who voted for the trust - works for ASGK. Its website lists him as a managing partner. Burns says he doesn't work on the Citibank account and had been unaware that Citibank is an ASGK client, though Citibank is listed as a client on the firm's website. 'I don't do a lot of work for ASGK, to be very frank,' Burns says."

So that managing partnership is just honorary? Or are you drawing a (ghostly) paycheck?

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"[Burns added] that city ethics officials assured him that his vote for the Infrastructure Trust wasn't a conflict of interest because 'any number of financial institutions can participate in the trust.'"

But any number aren't participating. His is.

Paycheck earned.

See also: The Secret Side of David Axelrod.

My Son The Scorekeeper
In SportsMonday.

Bargain Broken
Apparently Dale Sveum didn't get the memo. In The Cub Factor.

Sooey And Beach Balls
In The White Sox Report.

The Weekend in Chicago Rock
They played at a venue near you. We have the video.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Memoriffic.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:42 AM | Permalink

June 16, 2012

The Weekend Desk Report

Shit, we're lucky if we get a kick in the head when we oversleep.

Market Update
With the cost of raw materials skyrocketing, the value of Human Dignity is once again plummeting.

Drachmatic
It may seem a drastic step to opt out of the Euro, but just look at some of the people trying to get in.

Write Your Own Punch Line, Part 1
Honestly, this would explain quite a lot.

You've Come a Long Way . . .
What better way to show your enduring support for women's rights than by shooting one into space, arewerite?!

Write Your Own Punch Line, Part 2
In which there can never really be a winner.

Kind of Embarrassing
Finally this week, you've got to admit it was pretty kind not to let some random guy take the fall for this.

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The Weekend Desk Tip Line: Punchy.

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A Special Father's Day Message From Lisa Madigan:

Dear Daddy . . . I mean Mr. Speaker,

You are the greatest dad ever. You got me this cool attorney general job, and that was after you got me that neat state senate seat.

Also, thanks for having all your union friends be real nice to me, they send me tons of campaign money at Christmas time, they must be rich!

My brother-in-law loves that job at Metra you gave him. He loved playing with toy trains growing up. I don't understand why the Republicans complain about the economy, all our family friends have great jobs!

You've done so much for the family, I'm glad you took time last month to make sure you got a bigger pension. You've been working so hard for the rest of us!

See you at Saputo's next week.

Lisa

(Brought to you by the Illinois Republican Party)

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The Sound Opinions Weekend Listening Report: "On the occasion of Willie Nelson's 66th studio release, Jim and Greg review the American icon's wide-ranging career with Texas music authority Joe Nick Patoski. Plus Spin writer David Bevan gives us the scoop on South Korea's latest sugar-sweet export, K-Pop."

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

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Taking It To The Streets: Medicaid Cuts

6-11-TakingItTotheStreets.jpg

State Rep. La Shawn Ford (D-Chicago) highlights the impact of state budget cuts and the loss of matching federal funding to Medicaid on services for seniors in Illinois.

Saturday, June 16 at 6 p.m. on CAN TV21
25 min

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Perspectivas Latinas: Concordia Place

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Martha DeLeon relates the impact of Concordia Place's early education programs on her children during this show highlighting the organization's work.

Saturday, June 16 at 7:30 p.m. on CAN TV21
30 min

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Right to Heal: Fighting for Service Members & Veterans

6-11-RighttoHeal.jpg

Iraq war veteran Aaron Hughes shares his experiences in the military and discusses the state of mental health and treatment programs among soldiers facing multiple deployments.

Sunday, June 17 at 9 a.m. on CAN TV21
1 hr

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The Renaissance Society: An Artist Talk with Dawoud Bey

6-11-PicturingPeople.jpg

The Renaissance Society presents an artist talk with Chicago-based photographer Dawoud Bey, discussing his unique approach to portraiture.

Sunday, June 17 at 10:30 a.m. on CAN TV21
1 hr

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A History of Connection: Old Friends

6-11-WomenMade.jpg

Poet Lauren Levato joins a live reading that features poets, artists, and writers whose involvement with the Woman Made Gallery spans 10 or more years.

Sunday, June 17 at 11:30 a.m. on CAN TV21
2 hr

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Studs Terkel's 100th Birthday Party

6-11-StudsTerkel.jpg

Local officials and journalists commemorate the birthday of journalist Studs Terkel, who worked for decades to tell the stories of people from all professions and walks of life in Chicago.

Watch online

Sunday, June 17 at 1:30 p.m. on CAN TV21
2 hr

Posted by Natasha Julius at 9:25 AM | Permalink

June 15, 2012

The [Friday] Papers

A walk through the day's news.

1. Well, it's not exactly decriminalization; Rahm's proposal has him collecting $150 to $500 from every schnook caught with 15 grams or less. Costly pot prosecutions become profitable ticket-writing. Next: Get nabbed twice and they boot your bong.

2. "School districts across Illinois are failing to disclose thousands of drug, weapon and teacher assault incidents to the state as required by a long-standing state law created to give the public a clear picture of crime at neighborhood schools," the Tribune reports.

"The statewide reporting system is deeply flawed, with lax oversight and no enforcement from the very state agencies that built it, a Tribune investigation found."

Can the state create a law it doesn't have to follow? #ExistentialIllinois.

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"School officials struggled to explain why their districts weren't complying with the 13-year-old state law . . .

"Jadine Chou, the top safety and security officer at Chicago Public Schools, said the district reports crime statistics to local police but acknowledged that CPS does not report directly to state police as required by law. Instead, Chou said, the district relies on local police to turn the data over to state police. Though crimes on school grounds are included in the data that Chicago police supply regularly to state police, the information does not tag incidents as school-related crime.

"Chou, who joined CPS earlier this year, had no explanation of why the district had not been sending crime data to the state's school crime database and was surprised to learn it was not in compliance with the law."

Is Chou on merit pay?

3. Theo Epstein held his first Hot Stove Cool Music event in Chicago last night at the Metro. I haven't seen video yet but the Beachwood was on the case last fall and it probably wasn't much different, with the exception of Billy Corgan's sad presence.

4. Leading economic indicator.

5. Why oh why oh why does the local media give the mayor the authority to commandeer its pages at will? Congratulations, Crain's, you are now Splash.

*

You do realize there's no difference between publishing a press release out of City Hall and publishing a press release out of City Hall dressed up as an Op-Ed except that the mayor's byline has been slapped on it?

*

Worse, you don't even extract a promise from the mayor that he'll actually abide by the state's Freedom of Information Act in exchange for acting as his press agent.

In other words, the mayor gets to say whatever he wants - no fact-checking or editing - in our various media outlets even as he stiffs the reporters at those same organizations whenever they are in pursuit of anything of substance.

Dear Chicago editors: There's room at my poker table.

6. Ostensibly to save taxpayers' money, a provision in the new Medicaid "reform" law allows no-bid contracts, which had been required to save taxpayers' money.

7. Just Say No: Only America drugs its racehorses.

8. I Am A Pizza Delivery Guy.

9. The Week in Chicago Rock: Last weekend's hugeness must have worn everybody out.

10. "800-588-2300 Empire, bitch!"

-

The Beachwood Tip Line: Carpet bombing.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:35 AM | Permalink

The Week in Chicago Rock

You shoulda been there.

1. Harper Blynn and Madi Diaz at Schubas on Wednesday.


-

2. The Eternals at Millennium Park on Monday night.

-

3. Wale at the MCA Warehouse on Thursday night.

-

Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 1:40 AM | Permalink

TrackNotes: Just Say No

Occupied by other activities, I was fairly relieved to learn midday Friday that I'll Have Another had been scratched from Saturday's Belmont Stakes and his attempt to become the first Triple Crown winner in 34 years.

I wouldn't have been, and wasn't, able to watch the race live. I knew the odds would take a beating with a lot more bettors getting on Union Rags and Paynter and I wouldn't be around to keep up with the tote board.

And my thoughts from a week ago haven't changed. So I was glad to be spared the angst of processing this Triple Crown winner. He of the slimy owner and cheating trainer.

It was an exciting, glacial race. Union Rags, as I figured he would, used an efficient rail ride and steamrolled past Paynter in the final 50 yards for the victory. His finishing time of 2:30:42 puts him with Drosselmeyer in 2010 and Ruler on Ice in 2011 for running three of the five slowest times in the Belmont since Secretariat's 2:24 in 1973. 2:24?! 2:24.

In that Belmont, the 31-lengths-behind place horse Twice A Prince finished in 2:28.2. So if Union Rags had been behind Secretariat, he likely still would have been on the turn as Big Red crossed the finish line. Yes, 2012's Belmont was slow.

From a horseplayer perspective, scratching I'll Have Another was good. They scratched instead of trying to run him at well less than 100 percent and taint the wagering. And they avoided a possible breakdown.

For owner J. Paul Reddam, the long rehabilitation, with no guarantees of full recovery, would have cost him next year's breeding season income.

If the racing industry is paying attention, it will use all of the negative publicity the game generated last week over horse drugs as an incentive to begin the process of getting rid of medications over the next three to five years.

NBC's coverage of the Belmont didn't help much, although they did bring up the drug issue with trainer Doug O'Neill. Bob Costas and O'Neill basically repeated verbatim an interview they did earlier in the week. It was like a honed killer hunk they polished on open mic night last Wednesday. Costas, like most, is horrible on the concept of the follow-up question.

Be as cynical or pessimistic as you'd like, but at least someone is talking about getting rid of raceday medication.

The Kentucky Horse Racing Commission (significant because it's not, say, Iowa's or, god forbid, Illinois') has called for an end to the use of furosemide, commonly known as Lasix or Salix. The drug helps to minimize the amount of respiratory bleeding a horse can do in a race. Other racing jurisdictions around the world do not use it - or any other raceday medications.

But the typical opposition by feet-in-the-manure status quo-niks has already risen.

Commission member and Breeders' Cup board chairman Tom "Little Conflict of Interest There?" Ludt said (third in video sidebar) he abstained from the vote because he's looking to see a few other state commissions get with the idea.

"Is this the right time to lead?" said Ludt. Well, Tom, leadership has to start somewhere and you are frickin' Kentucky. You know, "My Old Kentucky Home" and all that.

Kevin Flanery, president of Churchill Downs, failed to see the leadership Kentucky and his company might take.

"Kentucky's at a competitive disadvantage to other states with regard to racing," he said. "Obviously, we don't have purses that are enhanced by casino wagering. We're seeing a foal crop that is diminishing across the country, so the competition for horses is increasing. Putting us on an island, putting us at a competitive disadvantage to recruit horses to come to Kentucky, is not something that makes sense at this time."

How about this: As an owner of race tracks in four states with wagering and media relationships with many other tracks in other states, how 'bout you say that if Lasix becomes illegal in Kentucky, you will spread the policy to your tracks and those of your partners?

That's leadership. But I'm just a broken-down horseplayer.

The Kentucky General Assembly will have to approve the new regulations, so lobbying will become a real evil.

But there's something to remember here. Thoroughbred horse racing has a unique opportunity to clean up its sport very quickly. The Kentucky Derby horses for 2014 are being foaled now. If you eliminate the drugs with this generation, within five years, the entire sport can be clean if done on an industry-wide basis.

Wanna come to the Kentucky Derby? Clean it up.

-

Thomas Chambers is our man on the rail. He welcomes your comments.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:47 AM | Permalink

I Am A Pizza Delivery Guy

I don't care what our government's bean counters have been saying about the economy "recovering." It isn't, and it's not getting any better. But this really isn't news to people like me who have spent the past several months (or in my case, the past three years) trying to land a decent job we're qualified for - or hell, even minimum-wage jobs we're overqualified for.

If nothing else, the whole rotten experience has given me a vast new appreciation for our ancestors who somehow managed to make it through The Great Depression or The Dust Bowl without blowing their brains out.

But being hopeless isn't the same as being helpless, because there is one basic-survival job that has always been available even in times of dread like this; a job that has over the past few generations provided sustenance to high school and college kids, married guys with second mortgages, and divorced guys with too much alimony and too little paycheck left over from their daytime jobs.

This is why I am Pizza Delivery Guy.

I have a college education. I have won industry awards for my work. I am a genuinely well-mannered, congenial and helpful person. The problem is, I can't seem to buy a job, which seems to be the same problem a lot of people even smarter and more educated than I am are having these days. So, four nights a week from 4 p.m. to roughly 11 p.m., I've been Pizza Delivery Guy at a neighborhood mom-and-pop pizza joint on the South Side.

I actually like working there. The owners are good people who actually appreciate the people who work for them, they care about taking care of their customers, and they have a damn good pizza that anyone who has ever grown up on the South Side would recognize in a heartbeat. The three other Pizza Delivery Guys have been working there for several years. And believe me, if you've ever been a Pizza Delivery Guy at any point in your life, you'd know that's saying something fairly remarkable about who's running the place.

For me, being Pizza Delivery Guy is more that something that just helps keep my lights and my cell phone on, and my laptop connected to the Internet so I can network and keep sending out scads of resumes that are routinely passed over. It's something that, if nothing else, allows me to continue being a fine upstanding citizen because it's basically the only thing preventing me from becoming your kid's drug dealer or breaking into your house to steal your good stuff while you're away. Believe me, you don't have to be wealthy to any extent for me to rip you off; all of that ordinary sterling silver and 14-karat gold jewelry in that box on your dresser is worth a substantial penny these days, and I can have it all melted down for cash the same day. Unlike pawn shops, the people I know aren't required to record every piece of ordinary-everyday costume and heirloom bling that comes their way.

On the surface, it's easy to write off schlepping pizza as one of those last-resort unskilled-labor loser jobs that seem ideally created for social rejects with ridiculously excessive tattooery, dropouts who can't master a simple GED exam, or those without the personal graces to function within structured corporate environments. In all fairness, there are people like that filling jobs like mine. Pushing a broom, stocking auto parts, or choking chickens eight hours a day doesn't take a vast amount of intelligence or skill. But if that were 100 percent true, every single person collecting your tolls, shining your shoes, cleaning your urinals, serving your drinks, digging your graves, delivering your mail, filling your potholes, or collecting your garbage is a lazy, antisocial fuck completely devoid of any higher intelligence or initiative.

Yet, without these people, civilization as we all enjoy it would basically grind to a halt. Think you're so smart and gifted, motherfucker? Try growing your own goddamn food in your back yard and see how far you get, then.

Yeah, navigating a car in snowstorms, monsoons, numbing cold and scorching heat to bring a hot meal to your door because you're too lazy or can't be bothered to microwave a simple TV dinner doesn't take any huge skill whatsoever. All it takes to be Pizza Delivery Guy is a reliable car and a working knowledge of the neighborhood's streets. But that's not why I don't mind being Pizza Delivery Guy. First and foremost, the money's pretty damn good for a job that isn't physically demanding and asks nothing more of me than to be somewhere for six hours four nights a week. I average around $80 even on slow weeknights; $125 or even $150 on a busy Saturday night is more the rule than the exception. Call me a loser if it makes you feel superior, but I'm still a loser with $400 to $500 cash in my pocket every single week. It's not a living or a career by any means, but I'm far better off than your typical Walmart shelf stocker logging twice as many hours to put up with 10 times the bullshit from customers and your asshole manager.

And if there's a single entry-level Walmart job available to any high school dropout and educated unfortunate off the street just the same with the potential to go home with up to $20 an hour on a Saturday night, the world would like to know about it.

But as any good bartender or bellboy knows all too well, this kind of money doesn't just come to you automatically by default or by right. We survive primarily on tips, and we actually have to work for the privilege of getting a damn good one. Yeah, the basic delivery guy/bartender gratuity of a buck or two in regular-Joe neighborhoods like mine has always been common simply because everyone knows that people like me provide a basic service that you're either too lazy or incapable of doing yourself even on occasions when the service is nothing remarkable. But consistently scoring the $5 - and on rare occasion the $10 - tip from your regulars (and even those you're serving for the first time) who aren't drunk takes a fair grasp of interpersonal skills and - hell yeah - actual dedication to your lowly, loser-ass job and - hell yeah - not looking like a loser doing some loser-ass job.

Any Pizza Delivery Guy who basically manages to not deliver food cold and late can make $40 on a really slow night. But a good Pizza Delivery Guy will make $70 doing the same number of deliveries that same really slow night.

It's not rocket science, and I'm by no means a rocket scientist. But you know what? When I show up your doorstep with a smile and a cheerful demeanor, I know full well that you are basically the only thing keeping me from being homeless or setting up a home meth lab these days.

And that is basically why I'll probably be one of the best Pizza Delivery Guys you'll ever meet on your front porch.

-

Guy Essenfahr is our pseudononymous man on the pizza delivery beat. He welcomes your comments. And for more tales of working life, see our Life At Work archive.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:03 AM | Permalink

June 14, 2012

The [Thursday] Papers

"Gov. Pat Quinn signed a package of bills into law Thursday that will slash health care coverage for the poor and hike cigarette taxes by $1-a-pack to help pay for the struggling Medicaid program," the Tribune reports.

Gov. Pat Quinn signed a package of bills into law Thursday that will slash health care coverage for the poor.

Just to reiterate.

*

"Quinn had warned that without action the health care program would collapse under a mountain of debt."

We had to destroy people to save the program.

Heavy Lifting
"More than half of Chicago's elevators did not receive their required inspection last year, despite a reform program launched in 2009 to reduce a massive backlog of examinations, a Tribune analysis of city records found," the paper reports.

"Of roughly 26,000 elevators, lifts and similar equipment, the Tribune found that citywide about 65 percent did not have an inspection in the last year, as mandated by law to help ensure public safety."

Can the government create a law it doesn't have to follow? #ExistentialChicago.

*

"Outside the downtown Central Business District, about 82 percent were not inspected."

What is this "outside the downtown Central Business District" you speak of?

*

But seriously, this is just life in the big city, right?

"When compared with other places with similar device counts, Chicago's inspection record appears even bleaker. In Los Angeles, just 7 percent of the city's roughly 21,500 devices were not inspected in 2011. In Ohio, only 2 percent of about 32,000 devices did not receive their semiannual checks, according to the state's chief elevator inspector."

Oh.

*

Well, it just goes to show you how incompetent government is. Maybe they should privatize elevator inspections.

"The privatized Annual Inspection Certification program took full effect in 2010, and the city has touted it as a success.

"The compliance rate in the Central Business District is far better than elsewhere in the city, but records indicate that 1 in 4 buildings still were not checked in 2011.

"In addition to the incomplete compliance, the Tribune found that the program was marred by inconsistent record-keeping and lax enforcement."

Oh.

*

"[N]oncompliant building owners did not appear to have much to fear from city regulators, according to records. The city has in many cases declined to fine building owners.

"Officials can move to have building owners charged hundreds of dollars for every day they are in violation, but the Tribune found that only 17 of almost 200 relevant administrative hearings that occurred from 2010 to May 2012 resulted in fines. In addition, the city is allowed to charge scofflaw building owners for a comprehensive inspection done by the Chicago Department of Buildings, but no such follow-ups were entered in the data examined by the Tribune."

Maybe the city was too busy processing booted cars and red-light camera violations

*

But it's not as if uninspected elevators really pose a safety risk.

"Davis, who had been drinking, parked his car on the fourth floor, then fell to his death when he attempted to use the man lift.

"The next day, the city investigated the man lift and discovered building code violations, including that the lift's safety switches were inoperative and that the second-floor and fourth-floor hoist entranceways 'lacked security gates to prevent use of the equipment by non-authorized personnel,' according to an emergency police order that closed the garage until repairs could be made."

Oh.

Protection Racket
"Weeks before an expected shutdown for lack of funding, the Illinois Torture Inquiry and Relief Commission issued three decisions Wednesday supporting inmates' claims that Chicago Police detectives coerced their murder confessions," the Sun-Times reports.

"About 110 prisoners have submitted claims to the commission saying they were tortured into confessing to crimes."

Hey, times are tough. We can't afford justice for everybody. It probably costs millions to run a commission like this.

"Legislators . . . have whacked the commission's $150,000 annual budget as they try to address the state's multibillion-dollar budget shortfall."

Oh.

*

Hey, even $150,000 doesn't grow on trees.

Boeing To Donate $150,000 For Creation Of Chicago Jazz Website.

$150,000 Guaranteed Cash Giveaway At Horseshoe Hammond.

Man Finds $150,000 In His Garden.

Oh.

Why The Bulls Are Ditching Deerfield For Downtown
A Beachwood exclusive.

Memoir City
Shawn Colvin vs. Buddy Guy.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Ditch digging.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:03 AM | Permalink

The Real Reasons The Bulls Are Ditching Deerfield For Downtown

"The Chicago Bulls announced overnight Wednesday that they are moving their practice facility from suburban Deerfield to downtown Chicago," the Tribune reports.

Beachwood Sports can exclusively report what's behind the move:

* Rahm promised luxury tax breaks.

* What good is it to have a Lamborghini just to get stuck on the Kennedy?

* If they wanted to live and practice in the suburbs, they would have signed with Orlando.

* They got a Groupon.

* Access to a better brand of bail bondsmen.

* Derrick Rose's injury qualifies them for TIF dollars.

* Deerfield facility haunted by the ghost of someone named Berto.

* Will save money by sharing office space with Billy Dec.

* Easier for Derrick Rose to limp to practice from the Rehab Institute.

* Attracted by Rahm's new tall people tax break.

* The parking meter lease mandates it.

- Thomas Chambers, Marty Gangler, Steve Rhodes

Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 4:22 AM | Permalink

RockBookNotes: Memoir City

"Shawn Colvin, the three-time Grammy-winner best known for the 1997 hit 'Sunny Came Home,' released a new album All Fall Down, as well as a memoir this week," Laura Rowley writes for the Huffington Post.

"Diamond in the Rough is an utterly raw account of Colvin's childhood in South Dakota and Illinois; her life-long battle with anxiety and depression that started in middle school; conquering the alcoholism that dogged her through her 20s; her numerous romantic debacles (and two divorces); and finding happiness in her career and motherhood in her 30s and 40s. Lyrical, funny and painfully honest, Colvin's memoir reads like a seriously fractured fairy tale."

See also:

* Interview wherein she acknowledges her fondness for "Pumped Up Kicks."

* Interview wherein she says "I'm loving the Patti Smith memoir Just Kids. I've been re-reading Levon Helm's This Wheel's on Fire."

* Q&A with No Depression.

* Amazon author video.

Book Excerpts:

"The trouble mostly started when I was twelve, after the family moved from Vermillion to London, Ontario, briefly, and then on to Carbondale, Illinois. I was a simple geek in South Dakota, a cool cat in Canada, and a total freak show in Illinois - that was the general progression."

*

"Carbondale is a funky little town in southern Illinois whose claim to fame is its large university, where my father opted to finish his degree. Carbondale held no charm for me; I'll just come right out and say it. None of us like it very much. We made fun of it. The way people talked and their accents and the name were so . . . unpoetic.

"The town bordered Kentucky, Missouri, and Tennessee and had the humidity and summer heat to prove it, which I vividly recall because we arrived in July. We took up residence on a cul-de-sac called Norwood Drive, situated on the outskirts of some woods that separated us from the upscale part of town. I'd never been around strip malls, Walmart, or Arby's before. Vermillion was too small, Canada too smart. And I'd never experienced a southern accent either, which to me just sounded stupid. Now, having lived in Texas awhile, I've changed my mind, but Texas and southern Illinois are a bit different culturally, trust me. Of course, I made friendships there that would last me a lifetime, a lesson worth noting. During some of the unhappiest times of my life, I've made some of my best friends.

"None of this was obvious to me that blazing-hot summer, and I dreaded my first day of school. I had discovered a Top 40 radio station called KXOX out of St. Louis and was deeply immersed in the hits of that summer, such as 'Everyday People,' 'Gentle on My Mind,' 'Get Back,' 'Honky Tonk Women,' and 'Just Dropped in (to See What Condition My Condition Was In).' "

*

"My first concert was Judy Collins in Edwardsville, Illinois. I was probably thirteen or fourteen. My parents took me and Joanne, and I remember my father, as we sat on the lawn pretending to get high from secondhand pot smoke. Judy was a hero of mine - 'Someday Soon' was a staple in my arsenal, thanks to my folks, and I learned lots of songs off her records.

"Next I saw Simon & Garfunkel at the arena at Southern Illinois University. I believe I was fifteen and enough of a fan that I recognized Paul's brother, Eddie, who walked into the audience before the show started. Like an idiot punk, I yelled, 'Hey, Eddie!' I got him to look and then hid. I had made contact! If only with a blood relative.

"The first time I saw James Taylor was at the SIU arena as well. He played solo. I had pretty good seats and the undeniable feeling that he would sense my presence and ask me to sing with him. It must have slipped his mind. If you told me then that I would someday meet James Taylor, much less sing with him or kiss his cheek, for God's sake, I would have absolutely died right on the spot, but then I wouldn't have lived to meet Joni Mitchell and gotten to tell her about the necklace I made for her in 1974 and how I gave it to a roadie after her show in St. Louis with a note and express orders to deliver it to her."

*

"By the time I started high school in Carbondale, I had transformed my image from chronic truant to hip folkie girl with guitar. Music was my identity, and it served me well."

*

"However, I could sing. And where does one go to sing in a college town that likes to party? Right down to Illinois Avenue, the 'strip,' to any dive that would hire me. My first official paying gig was at a bar called the American Tap, an old house converted into a bar. Colonial decor. For thirty dollars I played four forty-five-minute sets consisting of songs by Joni Mitchell, Paul Simon, James Taylor, Carole King, Bonnie Raiit, Judy Collins, CSN&Y, Jackson Browne, Judee Sill, and, of course, the Beatles. I loved it. I felt like I was doing what I was meant to do. I entered my sophomore year at SIU but rarely attended class. Too embarrassed to drop out formally, I just let it go."

*

"I started attracting a following and thought I was hot stuff. We had a strong music community in Carbondale, and as I got better, I performed at other clubs in town. There was Gatsby's, a basement joint next to a pool hall whose owner sported a bad comb-over. Gatsby's had a proper stage, free popcorn and the coldest draft beer in town. Up the street a couple blocks was Das Fass, a German beer house of sorts, decorated with steins and wooden kegs. Das Fass had an outdoor stage, an indoor stage, and a downstairs room that resembled a bunker, where I played solo for a while, until I got the bug for company and more sound."

WHEN BUDDY GUY LEFT HOME

"The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee Buddy Guy nearly abandoned his career before it even started," Luke Epplin writes for the Daily Beast.

"In the winter of 1958, several months after he had arrived in Chicago from Baton Rouge, the 21-year-old Guy found himself unemployed, broke, and without a room of his own. Wandering through the city streets on a frigid night, not having eaten a meal in two days, Guy thought about calling his family in Louisiana to ask for train fare back home. 'And I would've done it if someone had just loaned me a dime,' Guy said. 'Thank God they didn't.'

"Serendipitously, a stranger approached Guy and asked him if he knew how to play the guitar strapped across his back. When Guy answered affirmatively, the stranger brought Guy to his apartment to strum some tunes for his wife. Impressed by Guy's virtuosity on the guitar, the couple took him to the 708 Club, a well-known blues establishment on the city's south side. The guitarist Otis Rush was on stage at the time, and he agreed to let Guy perform a song alongside him. Sensing an opportunity, Guy whipped the audience into a frenzy with the raucous theatrics that would later define his live style: racing across the stage, picking the guitar behind his back, blazing through extended solos. The owner of the 708 Club instantly took notice. As Guy remembered, 'He started telling people there, 'I don't know who the hell that is, but hire him.'

"The owner went one step further and rang Muddy Waters, arguably the most esteemed figure from the mid-century Chicago blues scene. Upon leaving the stage, Guy was escorted outside to a cherry-red station wagon, where Waters greeted him with a freshly sliced salami sandwich. During their talk, Guy confessed to Waters that he was thinking of asking his family to loan him money for a ticket back to Louisiana, but Waters assured him that was no longer necessary. He had just made a home for himself in Chicago."

-

Tavis Smiley interview.

Watch Blues guitarist Buddy Guy on PBS. See more from Tavis Smiley.

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Book Excerpts:

"The general store where I saw Lightnin' Slim had a jukebox that held all the records I liked so well. That's where I first heard Muddy Waters singin' 'Rollin' Stone.' Like John Lee and Lightnin', he cracked open my soul to everything he said in his songs. I felt like I knew him.

"Where does Muddy Waters live?" I asked Artigo.

"Chicago. All these guys live up there in Chicago."

"Chicago far away?"

"Real far."

Artigo said the harmonica man called Little Walter lived in Chicago too. He pressed a button, and I watched as one of Walter's records came on.

"Sounds like a woman crying, don't it?" said Artigo.

"Yes, sir," I said.

"Or a man begging," he added.

I wasn't sure what he meant.

"You ain't ever begged for it, boy, have you?"

"I guess not," I said.

"You will."

*

"Even though I was managing Club 99 in Joliet to make ends meet, I was still gigging in Chicago. I used to play Curly's at Madison and Holman. I liked Curly and got sad when he said that business was so bad he might have to close up. It was more than me worrying about losing a gig - I hated it when any blues club had to shut down. I took it personally.

"If I brought B.B. King up in here," I asked Curly, "would that help business?"

"Sure as shit would."

B.B. was playing Gary. I drove up and told him the situation.

"Curly's a good guy," I said, "but these other clubs around here are running him out of business. I'd like to help the brother.

B.B. responded with two words: "Me too."

So I ran back to Chicago and told Curly B.B. would come in that weekend.

"That ain't ever gonna happen," he said. "B.B. King ain't showing up. He don't give a fuck about saving no blues joint."

That Saturday night I got to Curly's around 1 a.m. Club was jammed, but B.B. wasn't there.

Curly was fit to be tied. Steam was coming off the top of his head. "You and your B.B. King are both no-good, lowdown dogs. I told you he'd never show."

"But . . . "

"I don't hear no buts. I don't need no lame excuses. Told all these folks they'd get to hear B.B. King, and they looked at me like I was crazy. Well, I was."

"No you wasn't," I said. "He just went to park his car."

"Right then B.B. came walking down the street. You better believe he was carrying Lucille. When he walked into Curly's, it was like Santa Claus coming down the chimney. Everyone was up and screaming. That night he played for free. Curly's got a good name and folks started flocking in."

-

Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:59 AM | Permalink

June 13, 2012

The [Wednesday] Papers

"Documents filed by the Attorney General's office indicate new evidence has been uncovered against several former Penn State officials, including Graham Spanier and Gary Schultz," KDKA-TV in Pittsburgh reports.

"In documents obtained by KDKA-TV investigators, the Attorney General's Office indicates former vice president Schultz kept a secret file with allegations regarding Sandusky and sex abuse. This comes after an NBC report alleges Spanier did not report alleged abuse because it would be humane to Sandusky to not report the matter."

Spanier grew up on Chicago's South Side, though his biography somehow leaves out a migration to the North Shore (see the item Graham Cracker in this column).

Criminal Injustice
In "Prosecutors Readily Use DNA To Convict, But Not To Clear A Convict," Peter Neufeld of the New York-based Innocence Project tells the Tribune that prosecutors in Cook and Lake counties are among the few in the country who consistently challenge DNA results indicating a suspect is innocent.

Related: Cook County Leads Nation In Wrongful Prosecutions.

Served Cold
Remember when Rahm Emanuel told Karen Lewis to fuck off? She just replied.

Infrastructure Distrust
"The former city inspector general named by Mayor Rahm Emanuel to the new board that will help rebuild Chicago says he expects the panel to meet in public, comply with public records law and subject itself to scrutiny from the city watchdog office he once ran," the Tribune reports.

"David Hoffman, whom Emanuel named to the five-member board of his infrastructure trust Monday, said it doesn't matter that the mayor rejected the idea of having the panel covered by state transparency laws."

You know what? It does matter - unless the politically ambitious Hoffman is personally put in charge of responding to records requests and keeping meetings open to the public.

Instead, Hoffman's already been marginalized.

"I don't know how that would work, having these meetings, as we work through these issues, be open," says board chairman James Bell.

"I think we will have some of those meetings where it will be counterproductive to do everything in the open," says Ald. John Pope, the city council's representative on the board.

Then there's Diana Ferguson, who is identified as a former Sara Lee executive but not by her more recent former position as the obfuscating chief financial officer of CPS.

Finally, there's labor leader Jorge Ramirez, identified in February by the Sun-Times as a member of Rahm's inner circle.

Mission accomplished.

Poopon
How 'bout I give Groupon $1,000 to go away.

Bizzaro Baseball
I'm not sure what planet Fox Sports senior baseball writer Ken Rosenthal resides on, but on this one the Cubs are anything but reluctant to start a long-term rebuilding process.

In fact, the time-frame for the rebuilding process they've begun is so long they oughta close Wrigley Field for repairs until 2017 when they're ready to field a real team again.

Chicago's On Fire Right Now
In our Local Music Notebook.

Bath Salts Gone Wrong
Chicago Dude takes it out on produce aisle.

Media Giants At It Again
They really don't want you to know who buys campaign commercials and for how much.

Cubs For Sale
In Fantasy Fix.

Keynote Genius
In BookNotes.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Revenge, dish.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:45 AM | Permalink

Local Music Notebook: Chicago's On Fire Right Now

A loose collection of whatnot.

1. "Chicago's rising rap duo, LEP Bogus Boys, recently sat down for an exclusive interview with VladTV, where they spoke about their upcoming clothing line, as well as all of the emerging talent coming out of there hometown."


-

2. As if to illustrate the point further:

"Listening to Chief Keef - who has released a handful of mixtapes in the last year but whose output has been accelerating in recent months after some mainstream attention - it's possible to believe that Waka Flocka Flame is more than an anomaly, that he's instead created room for the unhinged to stage a small comeback in hip-hop," Jon Caramanica wrote in the New York Times Magazine on Sunday.

"Though some of his young Chicago peers have begun to sign major label deals - spillover from the spotlight he's commandeered, no doubt - Chief Keef remains unsigned. In December he was arrested on a weapons charge, and he's been serving an extended house arrest at his grandmother's home on the South Side of Chicago, though lately he's been allowed to travel for business and performances. (He's scheduled to play S.O.B.'s on June 25, his first New York show.)

"Chief Keef raps in jabs and blocks, short bursts of rhymes that leave plenty of space for contemplation. The result is a sort of meditative vigor, swelling under pressure, then loosening, then swelling again, then loosening, and on and on. Mostly Chief Keef is a stomper, his lyrics a stark collection of threats and boasts, complemented by the unapologetically maximalist post-Lex Luger production of Young Chop, DJ Kenn and others. On a slew of official and not-quite-official mixtapes - Bang and Sosa Baby are the best - Chief Keef shows off a preternatural gift for catchy hooks."

See also:
* South Side 16-Year-Old Gets Shot, Blows Up

* Rockie Fresh on the Chicago scene.

3. Wilco said yes. Beach House said no. Five times.

4. From Robbie Fulks' "Awful 80s Night" at the Hideout, June 4.

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5. Fulks is scheduled to appear as The Everly Brothers at FitzGerald's 32nd annual American Music Festival at the end of the month. Here's the rest of the festival bill.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:16 AM | Permalink

Chicago Dude Does Bath Salts, Destroys Grocery Store Produce

"I went absolutely fucking nuts."


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Previously: Don't believe the media hype, man. (Oops!)

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:14 AM | Permalink

Fantasy Fix: Cubs For Sale

The trade deadline is more than a month-and-a-half away, but as the Cubs lurch inexorably toward a 100-loss season, there is plenty of buzz about who will be moved and when.

Beyond Starlin Castro, the Cubs really don't have any players you would consider every day starters on fantasy rosters - and it's highly unlike Castro will be moved. Other Cubs do see fantasy ownership, but they are more like bench filler for lineups and pitching staffs

Having said that, the fantasy fortunes of some Cubs could change if they do get traded sometime between now and July 31:

Ryan Dempster: The most likely to be traded, and there has already been a lot of chatter about him ending in Boston or in New York with the Yankees.

He has been so good this year that if the Cubs hadn't blown several of his great starts, we might be talking about him as a Cy Young candidate.

Still, Yankee Stadium is as much a launching pad for left-handed hitters as Fenway Park is for right-handers. Plus, I think a National League pitcher with no American League experience could get hit a little harder. He'll still be worth owning, but his ERA may start ticking upward.

Matt Garza: On the other hand, a pitcher with experience mowing down American League lineups could do well if he gets shipped to some place like Detroit, Baltimore or Cleveland. He could also do well for the Dodgers. It's not really clear who is vying for his services, though I think he has more fantasy value if he returns to the AL.

Alfonso Soriano: Since going on his home-run binge, Soriano has been a hot fantasy pick-up. He's another player you could easily imagine in an American League uniform, though as a DH, not necessarily a left fielder. His power resurgence would play well in NY, Boston or Baltimore, to name a few potential landing spots. He might see fewer at-bats if he stays in the National League, but it is clear he has found his power stroke.

Carlos Marmol: Could actually have an outside chance of winning a shot at a closer job somewhere, depending on how desperate a team is. He has no fantasy value now, but that could change with a change of scenery - even if it's just a set-up job with frequent appearances.

Bryan LaHair: It isn't really clear if a Soriano trade coupled with an Anthony Rizzo call-up would result in a move to the outfield or a move to another team. After a bit of a slump, he's hitting well again and is capable of being a nice contributor of OPS, HRs and doubles. If he is traded into a better lineup, he could see a jump in RBIs and runs scored, too.

Expert Wire
* Yahoo! Opening Time talks up Minnesota starter Scott Diamond and one or two other Twins worth owning, despite being a last-place team.

* CBS Sports says Heath Bell is bouncing back as Marlins closer. Aren't you glad you only benched him instead of dumping him?

* SI.com notes the struggles of Justin Upton, who's looking like the latest victim of the Upton family curse.

* Bleacher Report has 10 trading tips for fantasy owners. Most of them are common sense, though "acquire proven players off to poor starts" is definitely one of my mantras.

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

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:11 AM | Permalink

June 12, 2012

Media Companies Make Yet Another Push To Defang Transparency Rule

A group of broadcasters are formally asking the Federal Communications Commission to soften a new rule requiring TV stations to put political ad data on the Internet.

Washington attorneys for a group of twelve companies filed a petition for reconsideration of the rule, which was approved by the FCC in April and requires online disclosure about political ad purchases by campaigns and outside groups like Super PACs.

The information, which includes who buys ads, for how much, and when they run, is currently open to the public but is available only on paper at individual stations.

With the broadcasters' petition yesterday, the FCC will now have to consider whether to modify the transparency measure.

The rule isn't expected to go into effect until this summer at the earliest and the petition shouldn't change that timeframe.

The disclosure rule is also the subject of a lawsuit by the National Association of Broadcasters and a defunding effort by Republicans in Congress.

The companies making yesterday's request to water down the rule own TV stations and newspapers around the country. They are: Barrington Broadcasting Co., Belo Corp., Cox Media Group, Dispatch Broadcast Group, the E.W. Scripps Company, Gannett Broadcasting, Hearst Television, LIN Television Corporation, Meredith Broadcasting Group, Post-Newsweek Stations, Raycom Media, and Schurz Communications.

The argument advanced in the petition is one we heard earlier this year from broadcasters lobbying against the FCC disclosure rule: that making ad price information available online - even though it is already public on paper at stations - would hurt their business. The petition argues:

It is axiomatic that disclosure of price information is anti-competitive and disrupts markets - in this case, not only the local political advertising marketplace but also the local commercial advertising marketplace more generally, because stations' political ad rates, by law, must be based on commercial advertising rates (and based on their most favorable rates during the political "windows").

The FCC rejected this argument in its published April decision to put the political ad data online. The commission found that since the ad rate information has been available on paper for years, advertisers and station competitors already have access to it. The commission also concluded that the publication of rates on political ads would "not necessarily lead to marketplace distortions."

The group of stations petitioning the FCC on Monday also proposed an alternative to the new rule, one that is similar to a broadcaster proposal earlier this year. Under this scheme, stations would post online only aggregate information about money spent on ads, rather than the granular ad-by-ad information that the stations must maintain by law. The filing claims:

"Our discussions with journalists confirm" that "journalists and scholars do not generally need or want spot-by-spot rate information."

No such journalists or scholars are named.

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Previously:
* Here's The Political Ad Data Chicago TV Stations Won't Put Online

* Meet The Media Companies Lobbying Against Transparency

* FCC-Required Political Ad Data Disclosures Won't Be Searchable

* Broadcasters Sue For Right To Hide Political Data

* New Political Ad Disclosure Rules Could Take Months

* Republicans Vote To Block Transparency On Political Ads

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 11:36 PM | Permalink

BookNotes: Keynote Genius, Indie Comics And Regional Paintings

Quickly.

1. From The Chicago Writers Conference:

"Acclaimed author Aleksandar Hemon will be the Opening Keynote Speaker at the inaugural Chicago Writers Conference, announced conference Founder Mare Swallow.

"Born in Sarajevo and now living in Chicago, Aleksandar Hemon is the author of Love and Obstacles, The Lazarus Project, Nowhere Man and The Question of Bruno.

"He's also a winner of a MacArthur 'genius grant,' finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award and a Guggenheim Fellowship recipient."

Registration for the conference is now open.

2. Oops. This was last night but here's the trailer:

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3. Carpentersville Artist Publishes Book of Regional Paintings.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 2:09 PM | Permalink

The [Tuesday] Papers

Illinois' "top doc" wants men (and presumably women) to take their health seriously, even as the state is eliminating health coverage for 25,000 families.

*

Maybe those families should have promised to create jobs instead of merely promising to stay alive. That's what Bruce DuMont did when he landed a $6 million state grant for his oft-beleaguered Museum of Broadcast Communications - and just 15 full-time and four part-time at that.

"DuMont now expects the museum to open to the public with 11 part-time workers," the Tribune reports.

I wonder if any of them will have health insurance.

*

"Asked by e-mail to explain the discrepancy between the number of museum staff jobs promised by his project and the number actually created, DuMont wrote: 'If the MBC can manage our operations with fewer people and do so efficiently, we will do so, just like the Chicago Tribune has done.'"

First, why was he asked this only by e-mail? Later the story says he was interviewed.

Second, with all due respect to Mr. DuMont, you are an ass. The last time I looked, the Tribune wasn't the recipient of millions of taxpayers' dollars.

*

"DuMont said in an interview that the museum's opening also will create jobs for waiters, hotel employees and other service workers who will attend to museum visitors."

Right. I'm sure downtown restaurants are scheduling extra shifts as we speak.

*

"In DuMont's estimation, even inspiring young people to pursue careers in television falls under the definition of creating jobs.

"'I think inspiration is a form of job creation,' DuMont said, 'because it changes one life.'"

Well, in that case shouldn't the state buy everyone cable?

*

"Marcelyn Love, the spokeswoman for the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, said that 'construction and construction-related jobs' are the main type of employment that the state hoped to create with the Illinois Jobs Now package that included the museum's $6 million.

"The $31 billion package, signed by Gov. Pat Quinn in 2009, is expected to 'create and support' 439,000 jobs over six years, Love said. Questioned about the $6 million spent on the museum, Love said the money was 'to assist the Museum of Broadcast Communications with the completion of its new facility and support Illinois' thriving tourism industry' and called the expected jobs creation 'an added benefit.'"

Really? Maybe someone should apply for a grant to fund a Museum of Added Benefits.

*

Actually, I wonder if I could get a grant to create a Museum of Jobs, whose sole mission would be to employ people. Nearby stores and restaurants would thrive by attending to the needs of my workers.

Also, it would inspire other people to create jobs.

*

"Asked whether Quinn's office sees the museum's Jobs Now grant as a success, Quinn's spokeswoman Annie Thompson said in a statement: 'We are pleased to be part of this project, which put people to work. The museum will help support our thriving tourism industry, which is an enormous economic engine, for years to come.'"

I wonder what it's like to have a communications job whose main purpose is to not communicate.

*

Did the museum put people to work though - at least temporarily - like the 180-200 construction workers cited by DuMont?

"Pepper Construction Co., which built the museum, referred questions to DuMont and did not respond to attempts to verify his figures."

*

"David Merriman, associate director of the Institute of Government and Public Affairs at the University of Illinois, suggested that without DuMont's project, some other developer would likely have taken over the museum site at 360 N. State St., which was formerly occupied by a parking garage."

Someone who would have created more than 11 part-time jobs without asking for $6 million in taxpayer money.

*

"I don't think anyone can seriously argue that this was done for job creation," state Rep. Jack Franks (D-Marengo) told the Tribune.

Then why was it done? Isn't that the logical follow-up?

*

"The museum, like many American museums, also received other public funding in addition to the $6 million in job creation grants: two grants from the state totaling $3.9 million, as well as a series of smaller grants over the past decade."

I hope those are put on display, too; right between Charlie McCarthy and the old set of the Bozo show.

Generally Assembling
"Two of the most powerful legislators in Springfield ran their private businesses out of the offices of a crooked government contractor, according to documents obtained by the Chicago Sun-Times," the paper reports.

Two of the most powerful legislators in Springfield. We're not talking Derrick Smith here.

"State Rep. Edward Acevedo and state Sen. Tony Munoz won't say why they had desks and computers for their businesses in the Southwest Side offices of Azteca Supply Co., whose owner and her husband await sentencing in a minority-contract fraud scheme.

"The two Chicago Democrats - who each hold the title of assistant majority leader in the Illinois Legislature - have never listed the 4500 S. Kolin Ave. address on any business filings with the state of Illinois. Nor have they reported any business ties to Azteca on the financial disclosure forms that they are required to file each year with the legislature.

"But an Azteca employee-turned-government-informant told the FBI that Acevedo and Munoz kept the desks and computers for their businesses at Azteca's offices, according to a recently unsealed search warrant that led to the indictment and convictions of Azteca president Aurora Venegas and her husband, Thomas Masen."

Now, it's not illegal to have a desk at a dirty company [though, as a reader points out, those financial disclosure forms may pose a problem even if the statue requiring them doesn't provide for a penalty for noncompliance - it's Schrodinger's statute!]. It's just . . . uh . . . suspicious.

"The informant told federal investigators that the two lawmakers 'acted as consultants/lobbyists' for the crooked contractor, according to a sworn statement FBI Special Agent Julia E. Meredith wrote to obtain the search warrant for the July 17, 2008, FBI raid on the offices of Azteca, which got millions of dollars in work from the city of Chicago and was the largest female-owned subcontractor on Mayor Richard M. Daley's O'Hare Modernization Project."

Consultant, lobbyist, legislator; what's the difference?

"FBI agents searched Azteca's desks, computers, credenzas, file cabinets and vehicles, but they did not search the two desks and computers belonging to Acevedo and Munoz, according to the records, which had been kept under seal since 2008 . . . FBI spokeswoman Joan Hyde says investigators 'did not have probable cause to be looking' at the two men's computers nearly four years ago."

Couldn't they just have invented probable cause, like they do for fake terrorists?

*

"Acevedo wouldn't talk with a Sun-Times reporter seeking comment. Munoz didn't return messages left for him."

They were too busy majorly assisting the Democratic leadership in Springfield.

*

"Acevedo and Munoz are both 48 and both are cops on leave from the Chicago Police Department while serving in the Illinois Legislature. Both men were leaders of Daley's now-defunct Hispanic Democratic Organization."

Perfect.

"Venegas and her company had given money in the past to both politicians' campaign funds. Munoz got $10,470. Acevedo got $1,050, and Venegas also hosted campaign fundraisers for him."

Well, they gotta get paid for all that consulting, lobbying and legislating.

"Venegas falsely represented that she owned and ran Azteca giving the company a leg up on obtaining government contracts set aside for businesses owned and operated by women, according to federal prosecutors and City Hall's inspector general. Her husband admitted lying to the FBI about his role in the company."

Acevedo and Munoz probably had no idea who was really running the company they worked for . . . er, at.

"Prosecutors initially accused Azteca of fraudulently receiving more than $9.5 million tied to contracts between 2001 and 2008.

"Venegas, 63, pleaded guilty last year to a charge involving a $57,000 landscaping contract with the village of Orland Park. Masen, 67, pleaded guilty to lying to federal authorities when he denied he was helping his wife run a phony woman-owned business to win government contracts, with other companies actually doing the work.

"Azteca had other government deals to provide everything from concrete pipes at O'Hare Airport to chemicals to treat Chicago's drinking water, as well as deals to dispose of feminine-hygiene products at O'Hare and work on the reconstruction of the Dan Ryan Expressway."

*

"Azteca leased the space in the office and warehouse building on South Kolin from developer Calvin Boender, who has since gone to prison for bribing then-Ald. Isaac Carothers (29th)."

The only thing that can make it better at this juncture is if Bruce DuMont is involved.

*

"Venegas gave Munoz a desk to operate his company, Urban Risk Management & Consulting Services Inc.

"Acevedo used his desk to operate his company, Vallarta Consulting Group, according to the search warrant. When the FBI raided the offices on South Kolin, there were two names on the door - Azteca Supply Co. and Vallarta Consulting Group.

"Acevedo listed himself as president of Vallarta on his most recent legislative financial disclosure statement, filed last year. He didn't say what Vallarta does."

I think it has something to do with used tampons and highway girders.

"Vallarta's current address is listed as the South Loop condo of attorney Meribeth Mermall, who founded the company in December 2003 while working as an assistant Cook County state's attorney."

I'd especially like to welcome members of the Illinois law enforcement community to this story!

"Mermall, who now works as a lobbyist for Commonwealth Edison, is also a manager of Vallarta, according to state records. Her daughter works for Acevedo's legislative office, according to the daughter's Facebook page."

A) This is more complicated than Mike Martz's playbook.

B) Stephen Hawking is still working out the equations.

C) It's a cozy quilt we weave.

"Mermall, 53, did not return messages."

Was he acting in the capacity of a ComEd lobbyist or a manager of a state legislator's consulting business when he refused to answer questions?

*

"Acevedo wrote a letter on his official state letterhead on Sept. 12, 2006, encouraging City Hall to certify Venegas and her company as a woman-owned business.

"'She is one of the finest, most well-rounded individuals I know,' Acevedo wrote, singling out 'Aurora's ethics and willingness to go one step farther.'"

*

"At the time he wrote that letter, Acevedo was suing the city, claiming that his civil rights were violated by a fellow Chicago police officer who arrested the lawmaker during a scuffle at an auto pound in August 2001. City Hall paid a private law firm $132,363 to fight Acevedo's suit, which was thrown out by judge, reinstated by the appeals court and then rejected by a federal jury in September 2007."

Acevedo has been re-elected eight times.

Roger Waters at Wrigley
One of the most remarkable tours in rock history.

The Thunder Are Villainous Too
Hate LeBron, Boycott Starbucks.

Wavy Gravy
Chicagoan Shoves Enough Baby Back Ribs Down His Gullet To Set World Record.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Ultra-hygenic.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:45 AM | Permalink

Chicagoan Shoves Enough Baby Back Ribs Down His Gullet To Set World Record

Chicago Whole Foods manager Tim "Gravy" Brown set the world record for competitive baby back rib eating last weekend at Ribfest.

Here's the video, uploaded to YouTube this morning by Mike Sternoff. Then, a little bit about Gravy.


*

"Tim Brown began his humble competitive eating career hustling food challenges and state fair competitions up and down the Illinois/Indiana border," according to Major League Eating.

*

Here's his bubblegum card stats.

*

He is a member of Glutton Force Five.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:22 AM | Permalink

SportsMondayTuesday: The Thunder Are Villainous Too

You'll be rooting for the Thunder, right? Or should we say against the Heat?

When the NBA finals begin this evening at 8 p.m. on ABC, the vast majority of the viewing audience tuning in from outside of South Florida will be pulling for the exciting, precocious team representing one of the smallest municipalities in the country to have a major pro team.

And they will be rooting against LeBron "The Decision" James.

The most impressive thing about the Thunder has to be their collective age. None of the members of Oklahoma City's big three plus one - Kevin Durant, James Harden, Russell Westbrook and Serge Ibaka - has yet celebrtated his 24th birthday.

The least impressive thing about James - the thing that isn't quite infuriating any more but is still plenty irritating - was the way he toyed with Cleveland before tossing it in the garbage on his way to Miami as a free agent the year before last. In this day and age so many fans across the country could envision the stars of their teams eventually doing that to their hometowns. They felt Cleveland's pain . . . intensely.

But let's be clear that there are also plenty of reasons to root against the upstarts from down south. First and foremost is the fact that they should still be the Seattle SuperSonics. (Uber-sports commentator Bill Simmons calls the Thunder the Zombie Sonics).

There are several villains in this story. Commissioner David Stern couldn't help get the team out of Seattle fast enough after it became clear that the city was going to balk at committing hundreds of millions of public dollars to either the building a new home or renovating the old one, especially because a huge amount had been spent on a rehabilitation of Seattle's Key Arena just 12 years prior.

Sonics Owner Howard Schultz, the Starbucks mogul, was even worse. He sold out his hometown team when the public funds weren't forthcoming fast enough. He transitioned the team to an ownership group headed by Clay Bennett when everyone knew that Bennett was based in Oklahoma City and would eventually move the team there. Stern's NBA quickly approved the sale.

Oklahoma City had hosted the New Orleans Hornets in the season after Hurricane Katrina. During that season big crowds came out and, more importantly to the league, big sponsors paid big bucks just to be associated with the team. The story at the time was that where some NBA teams were struggling to sign on even one or two million-dollar-per season (or thereabouts) sponsors, Oklahoma City had a handful.

Sure enough, when Bennett's cursory efforts to get his own big public outlay of funds to boost the profits of the large private venture known as an NBA team predictably failed again in Seattle, Bennett called the moving vans. Soon Seattle fans found themselves without a team despite having supported the Sonics religiously up until Schultz started getting squirrelly in the 2000'.

Clearly the men who made that happen don't deserve a championship. Then again, as Clint Eastwood's Will Munny so memorably said to Gene Hackman's Sheriff Little Bill Daggett in Unforgiven right after Hackman's corrupt character told him he didn't deserve to be shot: "'Deserve's got nothin' to do with it." Then Clint blew him away with a shotgun.

Cub Grub
The Cubs' signing of Cuban outfield prospect Jorge Soler for a reported $30 million was an especially good sign in one way in particular. It was an indication that the team will continue to exploit its primary advantage over most of its National League rivals. And that advantage is not the scouting, drafting and developing abilities of Theo and his crew.

That advantage is the huge amount of revenue that continues to pour in even in this brutal season that found the team standing at 20-40 heading into this week's action. The Cubs need to go ahead and outspend most of their rivals because they can, and the Soler signing was a good first sign that they intend to do so.

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Jim "Coach" Coffman welcomes your comments.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:59 AM | Permalink

Roger Waters At Wrigley Field

An extraordinary piece of work, in its running order.

*

In The Flesh?


*

The Thin Ice

*

Another Brick In The Wall (Part 1)

*

The Happiest Days Of Our Life/Another Brick In The Wall (Part 2)

*

Mother

*

Goodbye Blue Sky

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Empty Spaces/What Shall We Do Now?

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What Shall We Do Now?/Young Lust

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One Of My Turns/Don't Leave Me Now

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Another Brick In The Wall (Part 3)/The Last Few Bricks/Goodbye Cruel World

*

Hey You

*

Is There Anybody Out There?

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Nobody Home

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Vera/Bring The Boys Back Home

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Comfortably Numb

*

Comfortably Numb/The Show Must Go On/In The Flesh

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Run Like Hell/Waiting For The Worms/Stop

*

The Trial

*

Outside The Wall

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some gather together in bands.

the bleeding hearts and artists make their stand.

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the music this man (and his old band) have made has meant so much to me.

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See also: At the United Center in 2010.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:10 AM | Permalink

June 11, 2012

Fire Stadium Burning Taxpayers

"Rising from the rubble of an old industrial site, the 20,000-seat Toyota Park was supposed to put a small suburb on the map," the Tribune reported over the weekend.

"Yet the soccer stadium also has become a model of what can go wrong when a little town takes massive development gambles in a state with loose borrowing and ethics laws: Politicians and insiders benefit, while taxpayers are stuck covering budget-busting losses.

"The blue-collar suburb of Bridgeview now suffers under the highest rate of debt in the Chicago region, a Tribune analysis of thousands of pages of state and local records found."

*

That's a far cry from the days in 2003 when south suburban business leaders wrote in a Tribune Op-Ed that "When it comes down to it, a stadium in Bridgeview makes the most sense from a soccer and business standpoint . . . This is a rare win-win situation that everyone in the Chicagoland community and the Chicago Fire can rally behind for the benefit of the entire region."

But then, it always is. Economic impact promises of stadium deals and events like the Olympics and NATO summits never live up to the hype. Yet, business and political leaders keep using the same rhetorical playbook to get what they want for their own reasons, while the media largely keeps believing them.

"The stadium could have a local annual economic impact of $18 million," the Tribune "reported" back then. That part is missing from their otherwise excellent current report - the part that the media played in not challenging the basic and familiar claims made by local leaders.

*

"To help make its payments, the village has nearly tripled the Bridgeview property tax bill in less than a decade for the town's mostly modest ranch homes and plans to boost that burden far higher," the Trib reports.

"[S]ince opening in 2006, it has come up millions of dollars short of making its huge debt payments. The yearly shortfalls are sometimes as big as the town's annual police budget, and they've helped sink the southwest suburb's credit rating to among the Chicago area's worst."

But here's the flip side:

"Still, not everyone in town is losing.

"The big borrowing created a torrent of cash that, in part, went to companies tied to high-level village employees, the town leaders' political supporters and even companies linked to the mayor's family.

"Plus, campaign contributions from those profiting at the stadium have helped bankroll a rarely challenged local political machine that recently elevated its leader, Mayor Steven Landek, to the Illinois Senate. The machine also has put thousands of dollars in rent payments into the mayor's pocket each year.

"Landek would not agree to an interview, but in e-mails, spokesman Ray Hanania blamed the economy for the stadium shortfalls and said nothing was done illegally or unethically. He chided the Tribune for questioning the project.

"'Toyota Park has been the best thing to ever happen to Bridgeview. It's brought a new spirit and pride and regional attention," he said. "The Fire is a remarkable team, far better than the Tribune's properties . . . "

Shame on Ray Hanania, who also posits himself as a journalist and recently ran for a seat on the Society of Professional Journalists' board of directors. He did not identify himself as a town flack when he did so.

First, the facts are the facts. Has the Tribune gotten them wrong, Ray? If so, prove it. Town "pride" doesn't pay the tax bill.

Second, the slam against Tribune properties is straight out of the Michael Madigan playbook. It's an irrelevant distraction ploy, a cheap shot, and really not even true.

But when you see a reaction like this to an investigative report, you can be sure of one thing: It's true.

*

"Village officials at first said the town would borrow up to $55 million to pay for most, but not all, of the stadium, and investors would assume much of the risk if the stadium didn't make money.

"But then the town borrowed more than $100 million, to pay for the entire stadium, and put taxpayers directly on the hook if it didn't turn a profit. And turning a profit would be harder: The final deal called for much of the revenue from soccer games to go to the Chicago Fire."

Cripes, is there a parking meter provision too?

*

"Landek wouldn't detail why the village chose to spend more and assume more risk. Via e-mail, he said 'fluid' negotiations led to a 'cutting-edge private and public partnership.'

"Through it all, officials told residents not to worry.

"Longtime trustee Michael Pticek told the Tribune that village-hired experts claimed in reports that, under a worst-case scenario, the town would break even: 'We were shown different scenarios, and there was no way we would lose on this thing.'

"Landek was quoted in the Daily Southtown as calling it 'ludicrous' to talk of a scenario in which property taxes would be raised to subsidize the stadium. 'Four years of nothing, of the stadium sitting empty, is when we would have to consider raising taxes,' he was quoted as saying.

"Exactly how those projections were made is unclear. The town did provide the Tribune hundreds of pages of requested records, but for perhaps the most key document - financial studies proving the stadium could make enough money - Landek and the village attorney insisted no such reports existed."

I wonder if any reporter requested such documents when the plan was hatched and sprung into action.

*

"Once Bridgeview started borrowing the cash, millions flowed to those who contribute to political funds controlled by town leaders.

"The Tribune found that people and companies profiting from the stadium have given the mayor's campaign and related funds more than $170,000 since 2004.

"The contributors included construction companies, lawyers, security firms and food vendors. They also included the financial team that made hundreds of thousands of dollars to consult on the stadium and assist the heavy borrowing.

"One of the financial advisers, Daniel Denys, declined an interview but said in an e-mail that his firm's donations came 'without any expectation of reciprocity.'"

Another key indicator is when the key players all refuse to answer questions. That usually means it's even worse than the reporters know.

*

"Buried deep in Bridgeview's financial records are acknowledgments that the stadium has never made enough money to cover its loan payments.

"Village officials say the stadium has come up about $11.5 million short of making its debt payments from opening day in 2006 to 2010. A Tribune analysis of the village's audited financial reports shows the shortfall could actually be more than double that amount, depending on which expenses and debt payments are attributed to Toyota Park."

*

"The Tribune called or left messages with every village trustee. Only two spoke with reporters. One, Claudette Struzik, said she thought the losses weren't yet a major concern. Another, Pticek, the finance committee chair, said he was sure the stadium would become profitable once the economy improved.

"The village wouldn't provide the Tribune any study or detailed projections to support that optimism.

"Records show the stadium lost money even before the recession began. It has lost money, year after year, despite often hitting broad benchmarks that were originally touted as a baseline for breaking even: a soccer team, four international soccer events and four concerts a year.

"In a statement to the newspaper, Bridgeview officials broadly said the stadium's 'collateral benefits have been obvious' and said 'our long term prospects are bright.'"

So one trustee doesn't think the losses are a problem yet; another mistakenly - according to the facts - attributes the problem to the economy.

And here's the only collateral benefit I've heard: Soccer fans in the city who would love to attend Fire games but don't want to go to freakin' Bridgeview to do so. It's not as if the town has burnished some sort of reputation.

Finally, as far as long-term prospects:

"But in its recent conversations with S&P, the village suggested it could raise property taxes by as much as $7 million by 2016 to help cover future stadium losses, according to the rating firm's report."

Better for town officials to say: "We screwed up. We're sorry. We resign."

*

The real collateral benefits:

"Democrats were gathering to pick an appointee to replace retiring state Sen. Louis Viverito.

"Presiding over the meeting was longtime House Speaker Michael Madigan, a South Sider who represents much of Bridgeview. He helped Mayor Landek lobby the Fire to come to the south suburbs and joined Landek at one of the first games as the pair stood in the middle of the field, greeting Fire players in front of the home crowd.

"Now, Madigan took a quick vote of local party leaders and announced Landek the new senator.

"He became senator over parts of more than a half-dozen suburbs, vowing to do for the region what he had done for Bridgeview. With the new role came a $67,000-a-year-paycheck on top of his $39,000-a-year job as Bridgeview mayor."

*

Remember when taxpayers weren't going to be on the hook for the 2016 Olympics? Then they were.

Soldier Field?

"As construction at Soldier Field advances," the Tribune reported in 2002, 'a Tribune analysis of the $632 million project shows that the public bill for the stadium renovation is higher than city officials have said it would be while benefits to taxpayers - in terms of promised parkland and additional park revenues - fall short of what was promised."

U.S. Cellular? Taxpayers covering shortfalls.

Now comes Wrigley Field.

Will anyone learn?

*

"A study by economists Dennis Coates and Brad Humphreys in Econ Journal Watch in September of 2008, which assessed twenty years of academic research on public subsidies for sports stadiums, found that:

"No matter what cities or geographical areas are examined, no matter what estimators are used, no matter what model specifications are used, and no matter what variables are used, articles published in peer-reviewed economics journals contain almost no evidence that professional sports franchises and facilities have a measurable economic impact on the economy." (h/t: Ham N Egger)

To the contrary: Taxpayers subsidize the glory of enormously wealthy jocks and their even more enormously wealthy owners.

*

Trib report sidebars:

* "As for the contracts awarded by the town, the Tribune asked Bridgeview for records to show if any were competitively bid before the vendors were picked. The town said there were no such records."

That's because there weren't any. Nothing was competitively bid.

"Instead, the village has acknowledged, it entered into key contracts without seeking competitive bids - with many given to companies with political connections."

* The Landek building: Where all roads lead.

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I've swiped a fair amount of the Trib's main story here for highlighting, commenting and added Beachwood value, but I encourage you to go read the whole package.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:09 AM | Permalink

The Ground Round!

"Here's a commercial for the old restaurant chain The Ground Round. Apparently, they are still in business in some form, but certainly not around here. This aired on local Chicago TV on Friday, December 11th 1981."


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"About The Museum of Classic Chicago Television:

"The Museum of Classic Chicago Television's primary mission is the preservation and display of off-air, early home videotape recordings (70s and early 80s, primarily) recorded off of any and all Chicago TV channels; footage which would likely be lost if not sought out and preserved digitally. Even though (mostly) short clips are displayed here, we preserve the entire broadcasts in our archives - the complete programs with breaks (or however much is present on the tape), for historical purposes. For information on how to help in our mission, to donate or lend tapes to be converted to DVD, and to view more of the 3,800+ (and counting) video clips available for viewing in our online archive, please visit us at: http://www.fuzzymemories.tv/index.php?contentload=donate."

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Comments welcome.


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:40 AM | Permalink

The Weekend in Chicago Rock

You shoulda been there.

1. Roger Waters at Wrigley Field on Friday night.


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2. Radiohead in Tinley Park on Sunday night.

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3. Mavis Staples at the Chicago Blues Fest on Sunday night.

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4. High and Lonesome at Martyr's on Saturday night.

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5. About the Mess at Cobra Lounge on Saturday night.

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6. Paradise Fears at the Bottom Lounge on Saturday night.

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7. Wanton Looks at Cobra Lounge on Saturday night.

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8. God Module at Reggie's on Friday night.

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9. The Deeper End at the Double Door on Friday night.

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10. 1349 at Reggie's on Friday night.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:05 AM | Permalink

Ricketty Rebuild

Um, what? After enduring yet another horrible week of Cubs baseball I am left with a question. What is this? Sure, the answer is "a rebuilding year." But there is so little to build with here. It's like trying to build a skyscraper with some pipe cleaners and Elmer's glue.

That's just not going to hold up. Yes my friends, this is rock bottom. Whodathunkit?

Well, everyone kinda thunk it this year I guess, but now that we are here, it's friggin tough to deal with. Which makes me think of the alternative.

You know, the way these guys have always done it. Like we could be watching guys like Aramis Ramirez dog it out there and still be three times better than anything we have going on at third base.

Or we could have found another veteran first baseman willing to take some big money just so the Cubs could hover around .500 for most of the season before calling it a year.

I mean, we could all see those types of moves weren't getting them too far, but would it be better than this?

The short answer is yes, the Cubs would have a few more Ws right now if they went that route. But what about the big picture, you say? Would this second scenario be better in the long run as well? The answer is probably yes as well. And I say this for a few reasons. First, this is horrible, and second, this is going to take forever, so in the meantime why not win at least a little.

I hope that four years from not we can say that this patheticness was worth it, but there is real chance it won't be. Maybe I'm just not cut out for rock bottom.

Week in Review: The Cubs went 2-5 for the week, losing the final game of four in San Fran and then losing two of three each to the Brewers and Twins. But, they did score eight or more runs in their two wins. I don't know why they don't listen to me and just score eight or more runs every game, because when they do they always win.

The Week in Preview: The Cubs come home to host a few interleague opponents as the Tigers and the Red Sox come to Wrigley. To say that interleague play has lost all of it's excitement is an understatement.

The Second Basemen Report: I wrote last week that Darwin Barney is apparently adequate at second base after all. And the Cubs started him there for every game last week. And Darwin responded by being Darwin Barney. Which means he barely did anything; six hits and one walk. But that's just how the ghost of Jim Hendry would have drawn it up.

In former second basemen news, Mark Grudzielanek retired in 2010 at the age of 40. He last played for the Cubs in 2004. What he is doing now I do not know. Grudzy! He is missed.

Crazy Corners: Ian Stewart continues to get most of the starts at third, yet the Cubs have been sitting Bryan LaHR against lefties. Apparently Jeff Baker is too good to sit against lefties - and so is Ian Stewart. The only problem with that statement is that it's not true. You can really sit Jeff Baker anytime you like because he's, um, he's Jeff Baker. I'm pretty sure he can play third as well, but he just doesn't for some reason.

Weekly Bunting Report: I may have missed a few bunts this week because there were so many blowouts and there is only so much my stomach can take. But I'm pretty sure at least Tony Campana tried a few times.

The Zam Bomb: Big Z gave up seven earned in a loss this week to the Rays and left the game with lower back stiffness. Finally the Big Z we know and love - the one who doesn't hydrate and gives up homers. This makes me happy but makes Big Z Angry.

zam_gettingAngry.jpg

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Endorsement No-Brainer: Alfonso Soriano for rent-a-bat. For when you play in the American League and need a guy who can heat up for weeks at a time and can't play the field, it's rent-a-bat. Try rent-a-bat and you'll be sorry too.

Ameritrade Stock Pick of the Week: Shares of Cub tickets traded lower this week as no one wants to go, even to what they thought was going to be a marquee match-up this week with the Red Sox.

Sink or Sveum: 32% Analytical, 64% Emotional. Sveum drops another eight points on the Dale-O-Meter this week due to not being very bright and bringing in Manny Corpas for James Russell in the ninth for no good reason on Thursday night in the same game he didn't pinch-run for Alfonso Soriano in the eighth with Tony Campana on the bench and the Cubs down by one. On a scale of Bat Sh#t Crazy (Charles Manson), Not All There (random guy with a neck tattoo), Thinking Clearly (Jordi LaForge) and Non-Emotional robot (Data), Dale is really just crazy.

manson.jpgneck.jpg jordi.jpgdata.jpg

And just like your thought-to-be level-headed uncle, Dale has a perfectly good car, but sometimes likes to go to the junk yard, buy a lousy car no one wants and then drive that car on his way to job interviews yet can't understand that he didn't get the job after his car broke down and he was three hours late to the interview.

Over/Under: The number of walk-off homers Norichika Aoki will have the rest of his career: +/- .5.

Don't Hassle The Hoff: Micah Hoffpauir might be hurt as he only started one game this week - or he could just be hassled.

Beachwood Sabermetrics: A complex algorithm performed by The Cub Factor staff using all historical data made available by Major League Baseball has determined that four years may not be enough.

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

The White Sox Report: Know the enemy.

Fantasy Fix: Call-Ups Maybe.

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Contact The Cub Factor!

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:25 AM | Permalink

Guess The Dynamic Attendance Game

If you lower the price, they will come.

In an attempt to counter the lukewarm response to the White Sox's early-season success, the team's dynamic pricing strategy offered $5 seats last week for the Toronto series. Lo and behold, people showed up.

We sat high and deep in the right field corner last Wednesday in Section 508 - only slightly closer than Kankakee - where fans embraced the price break.

Section 508 (2).JPG

"If they keep doing this, we'll come out more," said Gerry Bardachowski of Plainfield, despite witnessing a 4-0 loss to the Blue Jays. "We'll bring our grandchildren."

Bardachowski, who teaches at Bolingbrook High School and St. Xavier University, and his wife, Diane, are no strangers at the Cell. They attend about a dozen games a year, and price is a factor - "my limit is $30 to $35," he said - determining how many games they see and where they sit. They're already looking forward to the Minnesota series on July 23-25. According to Bardachowski, a $31 ticket in the lower deck of right field also includes a $10 voucher for food. Now that's dynamic!

Furthermore, the faraway vantage point didn't bother them. "I like them," he said of his seats in the third row. "I'm not sure I'd like to get 30 rows back, but these are fine."

Bardachowski was wearing a Sox hat and jacket with the discernible autograph of Ron Kittle adorning both items. It turns out that the former Sox slugger visited with Diane's father last March when her dad was in hospice care in Plainfield.

"He sat and talked with so many people," Diane said, adding that Kittle makes himself available for a number of similar visits every year. "My dad died the next day," she said, but the apparel will be handed down to future Bardachowskis.

Three generations of the Hmura family from New Lenox were sitting about ten rows behind the Bardachowskis. Three-year-old Reid was accompanied by his dad, uncle, and grandparents Tracy and Jeff. They read about the cheap - perhaps I should say "inexpensive" - seats in the Sun-Times.

"I paid $39 for five tickets," said Grandpa Jeff, explaining that taxes and a "convenience" fee were added. "I'd sit up here again. I don't think they [the seats] are bad at all. Tell them [the Sox] to do this more."

The largest group in the section belonged to third-graders, parents, and teachers from the Eberhart School at 65th and Kedzie. Since her class achieved the school's highest reading level, teacher Nancy Maldonado organized the excursion for the group of 51. This was only her second Sox game ever, and only one of her 24 students had ever been to the Cell.

So why not take the kids to Six Flags or the zoo?

"We're part of a South Side team, and we had to come to support them," said Maldonado with a touch of indignity that I had suggested a different reward for her scholars. Before coming to the game, the students "learned about innings and how to get to the game," said Maldonado. "We talked about the city's grid system [of streets]."

Being a school night, at the stroke of nine o'clock, it was time to leave, and the kids and their chaperones filed out.

Moments later the Jumbotron featured the Guess the Attendance contest. I've been to quite a few games this season, but this was the first time since Opening Day that I can recall management announcing how many people were in the park. Maybe I haven't been very alert, but I get the impression that the team hasn't been eager to call attention to the fact that the Sox rank ninth in the American League in attendance.

Wednesday's draw was announced at 25,672, which was the largest weekday attendance of the season until 25,743 watched the Sox beat the Jays the next night. The Sox usually don't draw many fans for Toronto, so obviously ticket prices resulted in a larger than usual crowd at the Cell.

After Dayan Viciedo struck out to end Brandon Morrow's two-hit mastery over our athletes, I asked the young usher at the exit whether she usually worked this section. She shook her head. "There's usually no one over here," she pointed out.

Much has been written about the apparent lack of fan interest in the 2012 White Sox, while the crosstown Cubs continue to draw close to 40,000. What's the big deal?

I get pumped up if the Sox draw a full house for a big game when the crowd is knowledgeable, noisy, and totally into it. But I also don't object to stretching out across adjoining empty seats when there's 20,000 people in the park, enjoying baseball in a relaxed, laid-back atmosphere like Sunday when few people were in Section 101, where we baked in the sun watching the Sox tumbled to the Astros.

I also am not concerned about ballplayers who claim they need motivation from big crowds. Again, just look to the North Side. Think the full houses are helping those guys? What about pride, talent, teamwork, professionalism, and a six-figure paycheck every two weeks? Thirty thousand fans a game would be nice, but the players have no control over that aspect of the game. They do have control over using their skills to reach their potential.

Furthermore, no one needs to worry whether the Sox will begin to draw more people as the summer marches on. The team is much better than anyone - except maybe the players themselves, who have newfound confidence under Robin Ventura - expected, and the wonders of dynamic pricing are not an illusion. Five-dollar tickets already are jump-starting attendance figures.

However, if the Sox remain in contention for a division championship, we'll see how dynamic the pricing will become. Management's disclaimer, "As the season progresses, ticket prices will be adjusted, either upward or downward, based on market demand," tells us that those attractive deals may disappear if the wins pile up and fans pack the Cell. Or, as Yogi Berra said, "No one goes there anymore, it's too crowded."

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

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1. From Frederick Nachman:

Another great column. Frank sat in that section for Game 1 of the World Series. The price was actually a bargain: $599. Got in on eBay the day of the game; everything else - including seats further back and some most likely with obstructed views - were going for $1,000.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:03 AM | Permalink

The [Monday] Papers

"Before most Chicago Public School seniors even hit the graduation stage, CPS officials Saturday were projecting the highest five-year graduation rate in 14 years," the Sun-Times reported over the weekend.

"A CPS news release touted the projected rate of 60.6 percent as "the highest graduation rate 'on record.'

"However, the release did not explain that CPS has only been calculating five-year rates, based on how many freshmen graduate within five years, for 14 years."

So by "on record" we don't mean, like, the fossil record.

And a five-year rate is nice, but high school is generally a four-year affair, to wit:

"The state requires public schools to calculate a four-year rate for official counts sent home to parents."

But that's not the biggest problem with CPS's claim - which was also touted by Rahm Emanuel, if not directed by him.

"[T]he projected 2012 graduation rate . . . was up 2.3 percentage points from 2011 - not quite as large a gain as the 2.5-percentage-point gain the year before or the 2.4-percentage-point gain in 2006."

In fact, this year's results merely reflect a steady rise that began way back when Rahm was an investment banker - before he ever set foot in Congress.

"[F]ive-year graduation rates have climbed from 47 percent to 56 percent in the last decade," the Tribune reported in 2010.

In other words, last year was a record too. I couldn't locate the rates for each of the last 14 years, but my guess is that each year was a record. That doesn't make this year's rise a bad thing; it just makes Rahm's claims disingenuous at best.

But the Sun-Times - and many other media outlets - took us for a ride on the Rahmobile, with superintendent Jean-Claude Brizard in the sidecar.

"The graduation rate is the first academic indicator CPS has released that reflects the first full year of Brizard's tenure," the Sun-Times "reported."

Sarah Karp of Catalyst puts an even finer note on that notion than I have: "The current administration has only been in place for a year and therefore can take no credit for the increase in graduation rates."

The Sun-Times, however, goes on to say that "Mayor Rahm Emanuel cited the improvements Brizard produced in the graduation rate in Rochester, N.Y., where Brizard had served as superintendent, in choosing him last April to lead the nation's third-largest school district."

But Brizard's Rochester claims have been repeatedly debunked - even if he and Rahm himself keep repeating them.

The Sun-Times itself reported as much last year:

Emanuel claimed last week that Brizard's willingness to shake things up and "put children first" boosted Rochester's high school graduation rate from 39 percent to 51 percent in three years under his leadership.

But the 39 percent figure dates back to 2006, well before Brizard became Rochester superintendent in January 2008. And the 51 percent figure reflects five years of graduates, ending in 2010 - not three.

Brizard's undated resume lists an even steeper climb, stating that he raised rates from 39 percent to 52 percent. That trajectory again starts in 2006, well before his tenure, and ends after his first eight months.

It fails to mention that rates went on to fall in his first full year, to 46 percent , but are expected to rise to 51 percent for 2010 - still less than the 52 percent on Brizard's resume.

Yes, Brizard lied on his resume. Mayor Accountability didn't care.

Emanuel's team also praised his work for New York City schools, noting high school graduation rates jumped 13 percent from 2005 to 2009, but it's unclear how much credit Brizard deserves for the increase. Brizard worked in four jobs in five years as a district administrator, including a year as executive director of the high school division in 2005-06 and a year as a regional superintendent. He was long gone by 2009.

And yet, the Sun-Times not only re-trumpeted the claims of Brizard and Emanuel but gave Rahm his own column to reiterate it just in case you didn't get the message.

Really, Jim Kirk?

*

"This year's record graduation rate demonstrates that when you give teachers the tools, time and techniques they need, there's no limit to what Chicago's students can achieve," Rahm writes - as he attacks the teachers who were here long before he was mayor and helped propel these kids to success.

"To anyone who doubts that every school in every neighborhood can achieve excellence, I want them to see what I saw this weekend at Christ the King Jesuit Prep in Austin."

Well, I would say that you, Rahm, doubt that every - and any - school in Chicago can achieve excellence; after all, you send your kids to private school.

Second, Christ the King is a private school.

Fire Stadium Burning Taxpayers
Yet another debacle benefiting insiders at the expense of the rest of us.

The Weekend in Chicago Rock
It was a doozy.

Ricketty Rebuild
Cubs using pipe cleaners and Elmer's glue.

Guess The Dynamic Attendance Game
Has to be The White Sox Report.

The Ground Round!
A Family Fun Place To Eat And Drink.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Learn, dammit!


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:11 AM | Permalink

June 9, 2012

The Weekend Desk Report

Natasha Julius is on a mission of national import. She either shows up in a hostage video or returns next week.

The Soft Bigotry of Low Expectations
With Chicago police chief Garry McCarthy just one step away from knighthood for bravely staring down a bunch of unarmed, ragtag dead-enders with the help of a militarized brigade better equipped than any U.S. army unit in Afghanistan, even the perpetually aggrieved Archie Bunkers at the true-blue Second City Cop have had enough. "OK, Knock It Off Already," sayeth our finest.

But this week's best examples of the ridiculously low bar set for measuring the accomplishments of our local leaders - the mayor actually consulted with aldermen! - comes courtesy of Cook County President Toni Preckwinkle's "The Week in Review" newsletter, featuring these highlights:

* County Releases Annual Financial Report on Time for First Time in 10 Years.

And . . .

* Toni, Elected Officials Announce Sending Tax Bills on Time.

Breaking news! Officials do their job!

What's sad is that governance is so bad in these parts that it actually is news; according to Preckwinkle's office, this is the first time in three decades that this round of tax bills have been sent out on time.

Pop Goes The Weasel
"This week Procter and Gamble and Walmart.com launched a joint, month-long initiative to increase the brands' footprint in big cities," Ad Age reports. "The effort features bus stop 'pop-up' stores in Chicago and 'food truck'-style mobile stores in Manhattan, replete with P&G products."

Great, pop-up Walmarts. Next: Pop-up Chinese prison labor camps. In your basement, for your convenience.

*

We prefer TacoCopter.

Leading Indicator
The private sector is doing fine.

Belmont and Boring
I'll Have Another won't. But the name of the new favorite is just as fitting given the race's new circumstances.

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The Weekend Desk Tip Line: Crowning.

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The Sound Opinions Weekend Listening Report: "This week, Jim and Greg break out the glow sticks. Tune in for a primer on electronic dance music (EDM) with Control Voltage writer Philip Sherburne. Plus, a review of the new album from nineties alt-rockers Garbage."

See also: "Electronic Dance Music Has Its Spring Awakening."

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

Technology Access Television

6-4-TechAccessTV.jpg

Judith Roussel of the U.S. Small Business Administration discusses programs and services offered by the SBA in Chicago.

Saturday, June 9 at 6 p.m. on CAN TV21
25 min

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Perspectivas Latinas: Building Blocks of Peace

6-4-PLBuildingBlocks.jpg

Abigail Wood-Lizalde of Universidad Popular discusses the organization's efforts to address violence in the Little Village area through town hall meetings and other means.

Saturday, June 9 at 7:30 p.m. on CAN TV21
30 min

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Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky's 11th Annual Ultimate Women's Power Lunch

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Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky (9th District) hosts a luncheon highlighting the issues and accomplishments of women in politics.

Sunday, June 10 at 9 a.m. on CAN TV21
1 hr 30 min

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America's Election & Its Democracy

6-4-AmericasElection-2.jpg

Eric Kohn of the Chicago Tea Party joins speakers from across the political spectrum to discuss the state of elections and democracy in the United States.

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

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Examining the Power of Place: Housing, Desegregation, & Opportunity

6-4-ExaminingThePower.jpg

Experts discuss the impact of Chicago's Plan for Transformation and other programs on decreasing segregation, reducing concentrated poverty, and bettering lives.

Sunday, June 10 at 12 p.m. on CAN TV21
1 hr 30 min

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Engaging Fissures & Envisioning Global Futures: A Conversation with Patricia McFadden

6-4-EnvisioningGlobal.jpg

Feminist and scholar Dr. Patricia McFadden discusses sexuality, citizenship, and revolutionary struggles on the African continent.

Sunday, June 10 at 1:30 p.m. on CAN TV21
1 hr 50 min

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An Afternoon of Good Times: A Place Called Home

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These awards hosted by the National Public Housing Museum recognize leaders for their commitments to housing, social justice and equality for inner city residents and communities.

Sunday, June 10 at 3:30 p.m. on CAN TV21
1 hr 20 min

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:41 AM | Permalink

June 8, 2012

The Chicago Lakefront Trail: A Biking Adventure

"Most interesting situations."


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See also: The lucaseq77 YouTube channel

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:21 AM | Permalink

Ray Bradbury's 2009 Commencement Speech at Columbia College

"Martians, robots, dinosaurs, mummies, ghosts, time machines, rocket ships, carnival magicians, alarming doppelgangers who forecast murder and doom - the sort of sensational subjects that fascinate children are the stuff of Ray Bradbury's fiction," Michiko Kakutani wrote for the New York Times this week after the author's death.

"Over a 70-year career, he used his fecund storytelling talents to fashion tales that have captivated legions of young people and inspired a host of imitators. His work informed the imagination of writers and filmmakers like Stephen King, Steven Spielberg and James Cameron, and helped transport science fiction out of the pulp magazine ghetto and into the mainstream."

In 2009, Columbia College awarded Bradbury with an honorary degree at its commencement ceremony. Bradbury was introduced by authorized biographer and faculty member Sam Weller before appearing via satellite from Los Angeles:

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:44 AM | Permalink

How Bank of America Execs Hid Losses - In Their Own Words

When Bank of America announced it was buying Merrill Lynch in September 2008, bank execs told their shareholders that the merger might hurt earnings a touch. It didn't turn out that way. Losses at Merrill piled up over the next two months, before the deal even closed. Yet the execs kept painting a prettier picture to shareholders - even though it turns out they knew better.

As the New York Times detailed on Sunday, a brief in a new lawsuit filed in federal court in Manhattan recounts sworn testimony and internal e-mails in which execs admitted to giving bad information to shareholders and that they had worried about the legal ramifications of doing so.

According to the filing, Bank of America's then-CEO Kenneth Lewis admitted in a deposition that what he told shareholders about the financials of the merger was no longer accurate on the day they approved it.

We've pulled out the most revealing parts of the suit, which tell the story of how the deal went down.

On Sept. 15, 2008, Bank of America announced its agreement to buy Merrill Lynch. In the press release announcing the deal and other presentations, Bank of America said it would cause a 3 percent decrease in earnings in 2009, and that by 2010 the deal would break even or do better.

In October, concerns started to emerge about Merrill's financials. As it became clear the company was going to lose $7.5 billion that month, one exec e-mailed another the numbers with the message "read and weep."

Merrill kept losing money in November. Late that month, Bank of America ordered Merrill to sell off assets to try to stabilize its finances.

After current Bank of America CEO Brian Moynihan admitted in a deposition that this sale meant the deal was less valuable to shareholders.

On Dec. 1, Bank of America issued a $9 billion debt offering. Publicly, they said this was "for general corporate purposes." But private communications showed that they were trying to raise money to cover Merrill's losses.

Bank of America's then-treasurer, Jeffrey Brown, wrote in e-mails just before the shareholder meeting that they needed to disclose that the Merrill losses were behind the debt offering. He also testified that he told other execs they could be committing a criminal offense by not disclosing the losses.

On Dec. 5, Bank of America shareholders met to decide whether to approve the merger. They questioned Lewis about the financial impact of the deal, and he reassured them.

That day, shareholders voted to approve the merger.

In his deposition for the lawsuit, Lewis said that what he told them was not accurate. Bank of America had already revised their numbers to reflect Merrill's losses.

Just days after the deal was approved, on Dec. 12, a law firm for Bank of America prepared documents making the case that they could back out of the merger, based on Merrill's new financial woes.

On the 17th, Lewis took that argument to then Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson and Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke, who, according to the lawsuit, were stunned by Merrill's losses.

According to the suit, Lewis raised the possibility of a bailout then.

But it wasn't until January that shareholders - and the public - learned how bad things were. Bank of America stock dropped precipitously, and taxpayers ultimately padded the bank's bailout funds with an extra $20 billion to cover the losses. The SEC has actually already settled its own charges against Bank of America over misleading shareholders on the deal. The bank paid $150 million 2014 and didn't admit any wrongdoing.

Bank of America didn't comment to the Times on the new lawsuit, and didn't immediately respond to a request for comment from us.

Update (6/7): Kenneth Lewis and Bank of America have also filed motions in the suit. Lewis' motion states that he relied on Bank of America's law firm's recommendation that disclosure of Merrill's losses was not required. Bank of America's motion asserts that the plaintiffs cannot tie the losses they claim to the non-disclosure.

Correction: This post has been corrected to show that Kenneth Lewis did not say the words "no longer accurate;" instead, it was attorneys paraphrasing his position.

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Comments welcome.


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:56 AM | Permalink

The Week in Chicago Rock

You shoulda been there.

1. Art vs. Science at Lincoln Hall on Tuesday night.


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2. Jonathan Richman at Millennium Park on Monday night.

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3. Rhapsody of Fire at Mojoes in Joliet on Tuesday night.

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4. Andy Metz at the Elbo Room on Monday night.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 2:43 AM | Permalink

The [Friday] Papers

So who doinked the state's torture commission? Jon Markel did some poking around and came up with the following:

* The bill.

* Relevant section (page 38): "Section 10. The sum of $0 or so much thereof as may be necessary, is appropriated to the Human Rights Commission from the General Revenue Fund for expenses associated with the Illinois Torture Inquiry and Relief Commission."

* Voting Yes/House.

* Voting Yes/Senate.

* State Sen. Dan Duffy (R-Lake Barrington), who has been opposed to the commission, actually voted against the bill that defunded it - and almost every Chicago Dem voted for defunding.

Finally:

* The floor amendment zeroing out the budget was filed on 5/29 by an unknown legislator.

I believe that would be The Unknown Legislator (R/D-Gutless).

UPDATE 12: 28 P.M.: A faithful Beachwood sleuther says:

"Looks to me like it was Rep. Sara Feigenholtz (D-Chicago):

"She filed House Amendments 4 & 5; 4 became the bill and 5 made changes to it."

UPDATE 2:25 P.M.: From Markel:

"The $0 for the commission first shows up in the second house amendment to the bill which was filed by Rep. Barbara Flynn Currie, not Feigenholtz, and then referred to a committee for review. That certainly doesn't absolve Feigenholtz since she is the chairperson of the Appropriations Committee on Human Services, the very committee that the zeroing amendment was referred to and subsequently recommended for adoption. I guess that actually makes Feigenholtz more culpable since the committee is where the real line-by-line hashing out is suppose to occur."

UPDATE 2:45 P.M.: From our other sleuth:

"[Feigenholtz] advanced this particular language; it's mostly her fingerprints."

-

Weed Whack
"For crying out loud, our last three presidents smoked pot," Rich Miller writes in the Sun-Times today, "and their lives seemed to work out okay."

Sounds like a PSA in the making!

*

Progress.

Criminal Injustice
A) "A man sent to prison for murder 21 years ago, then released last fall after a key witness recanted, accuses Chicago police in a lawsuit of manipulating the witness and falsifying evidence," the Tribune reports.

B) "A former west suburban man who was wrongfully imprisoned for rape in the 1980s has been awarded a $5 million settlement, it was announced today.

C) "A $2.5-million settlement check from the Illinois State Police to former Death Row inmate Randy Steidl must be in hand by June 15, according to records in a civil rights lawsuit pending in federal court."

Supreme Coinkydink
"The Illinois Supreme Court on Thursday rejected a Republican challenge to have the state's new Democratic-drawn legislative map tossed as unconstitutional," the Tribune reports.

"The remap challenge was decided on a 4-3 party-line vote."

Apparently they cited Bush v. Gore as a precedent.

*

"The court's Democratic majority justices, without a written explanation, rejected a request by the GOP leaders seeking to file a motion to have the map thrown out and to make changes affecting future elections."

Well, that's not exactly true. Here's the explanation right here.

Sunrise, Sunset
Yesterday's gangsters were just as bored as today's.

Good Call
"Therapy For Depression Can Work Over The Phone."

Yes, if you're calling 1-800-HOT-CHIX.

*

Or Domino's.

Madigoon
Last time I looked, Michael Madigan worked for a bankrupt company too.

Ghost of Daley
"Concluding the company committed 'theft' by overbilling taxpayers 'millions' of dollars, the state has banned McDonough Associates Inc., a 45-year-old engineering giant with ties to the Daley family and dozens of other politicians, from getting any state work for three years," the Sun-Times reports.

"Beside cutting off McDonough this week from what's been a lucrative stream of business, the Illinois Department of Transportation has sent a bill for more than $1.9 million to the firm, demanding reimbursement for overbilling.

"It also has referred its findings to 'the appropriate authorities' for possible criminal prosecution, IDOT spokesman Guy Tridgell said."

The company's chairman served as both Streets and Sanitation commissioner and CTA board chairman under the Mayor Richard J. Daley.

Reverse Psychology
Isn't the disease actually poverty mixed with drugs and guns? Gangs are a symptom; they've got it backwards.

Special Ed
A federal civil rights law that allows some public school students extra time on tests and assignments is applied less often in the Chicago area's poorest schools and most frequently in affluent districts, a Tribune analysis found.

"The so-called Section 504 accommodations spring from federal law and are aimed at students considered disabled. But thanks to help from educators and savvy parents, the assistance often has gone to those in affluent, predominantly white school districts in suburban Highland Park, Winnetka, Wilmette and Hinsdale, new federal data show.

"Meanwhile, not one child in some of the region's poorest, high-minority districts has benefited from the program, raising concerns that schools have created opportunities for the privileged while ignoring the disadvantaged, according to the data."

COMMENT: From a faithful Beachwood reader:

"As a parent of a child with learning differences, as they're called now, I know you have to fight tooth and nail to get services - from diagnosis through to defining accommodations to ensuring that the student has the tools they're supposed to get, including extra time if that's what's appropriate - and that's not easy.

"The system is there, but it does not surprise me one iota that families with more resources are better at working the school system to get the school's attention. Not that kids don't deserve accommodations, but that the borderline kids with adept parents are more likely to get what they need than the desperately needy kids with overwhelmed parents."

-

Triple Crowner Downer
"As great as horse and rider have been, the coin's other side shows connections who steal seashells and bust balloons," our very own Thomas Chambers writes in TrackNotes today about I'll Have Another's quest for history.

"A loan shark and a cheater."

Loving You
Ray Bradbury's 2009 Columbia College Commencement Speech.

The Chicago Lakefront Trail
A biking adventure.

The Week in Chicago Rock
Short but sweet.

How Bank of America Execs Hid Losses
In their own words.

GOP Roadblock
Vote to block transparency on political TV ads.

-

The Beachwood Tip Line: Black and white bloc.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 1:44 AM | Permalink

Republicans Vote To Block Transparency On Political Ads

The opponents of a new rule to post political ad information online have opened up another front in a long-running fight, inserting language into an appropriations bill that would bar the Federal Communications Commission from implementing the transparency measure.

The FCC voted in April to require television stations to put detailed data on political ad purchases online. The information, which includes who buys ads, for how much, and when they run, is currently open to the public but is available only on paper at individual stations.

Media companies have lobbied hard against the rule, and the National Association of Broadcasters recently sued in federal court to stop it.

The rule is currently under review by the government and will not go into effect until July at the earliest.

Rep. Jo Ann Emerson, R-Mo., chair of the financial services and general government subcommittee of the House appropriations committee, added language to an appropriations bill ordering that no funds to be used to implement the disclosure rule.

The bill, which passed the subcommittee Wednesday, funds the FCC and other agencies for fiscal year 2013.

The move by Emerson adds another question mark to the process of creating an FCC website with political ad data. At a subcommittee hearing Wednesday, a Democratic amendment to remove the Emerson language was defeated on a party line vote.

"I suspect there will be a big fight in committee and on the floor," Rep. Jose Serrano, D-N.Y., who led the Democratic effort to defeat the language, told ProPublica.

He added that Democrats will try again to strip the Emerson language when the full appropriations committee considers the bill, which may happen in the next couple weeks.

"When there's a campaign going on with the kind of money that is being spent today," Serrano said, "you as a citizen should have the right to know who is paying [for ads]."

Even if the measure to block the FCC from funding the political ad rule passes the House, it still has to get through the Democrat-controlled Senate and be signed by President Obama, whose administration has supported the transparency rule.

A spokesperson for Emerson did not respond to a request for comment. At a hearing in March, Emerson grilled FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski about the then-proposal.

"Why do you care about this?" the congresswoman asked Genachowski. "You have plenty of other things that are far more important to deal with since we already have a Federal Election Commission who has jurisdiction over campaign finance . . . Why in the world is this a big priority?"

At the hearing Wednesday, Rep. Hal Rogers, R-Ky., the chairman of the Appropriations Committee, joined other Republicans in arguing that the new rule would be overly burdensome for stations.

Since 2010, the National Association of Broadcasters Political Action Committee has donated $7,000 to Emerson's campaigns. Emerson's home state of Missouri is expected to be a swing state in 2012, meaning it will see a huge infusion of political ad spending.

Both the broadcasters association and the FCC declined to comment on the new appropriations language.

-

Previously:
* Here's The Political Ad Data Chicago TV Stations Won't Put Online

* Meet The Media Companies Lobbying Against Transparency

* FCC-Required Political Ad Data Disclosures Won't Be Searchable

* Broadcasters Sue For Right To Hide Political Data

* New Political Ad Disclosure Rules Could Take Months

-

Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:27 AM | Permalink

TrackNotes: Stolen Seashells and Busted Balloons

UPDATE 11:49 A.M.: I'll Have Another, the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes winner who was aiming to become the 12th horse to win the Triple Crown, was scratched Friday from Saturday's Belmont Stakes because of a leg injury, the New York Times reports.

-

Scratch any cynic and you will find a disappointed idealist. - George Carlin

For any fan of Thoroughbred horse racing, and horseplayers too, Saturday will be the ultimate day. I'll Have Another has a tremendous opportunity to become the first Triple Crown winner since Affirmed capped off the great 1970s with his epic Belmont Stakes victory over archrival Alydar.

And yet.

You rub off a little of the shine here and a some of the gloss there, and a Triple Crown winner Saturday will in no way provide that injection of interest racing so passively waits for. Just imagine how a Triple Crown winner would send racing right back into the mainstream of American sports, they say.

Without its house in order, racing will find that many newbies, potential fans, have peeked through the window during this bid for the crown and seen a mess they don't want to get involved in.

As always, it's the humans.

I'll Have Another's attempt will come exactly 34 years to the day since Affirmed's, making it the longest drought in Triple Crown history, nine years longer than the gap between Citation and Secretariat.

This horse is a horse, and it will be he and young jockey Mario Gutierrez who will deserve the true credit if they take the crown. In masterful rides beyond his years, the 25-year-old Veracruz, Mexico, native became one with I'll Have Another in both the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness, defeating a determined Bodemeister both times. Any ol' kind of a win Saturday, and I'll Have Another will have put together an impressive Triple Crown three-spot by any measure.

The son of one of my favorite horses, Flower Alley, I'll Have Another was famously purchased for only $35,000 at a 2010 yearling sale by owner J. Paul Reddam. And while this one is treading in fairy tale land, he wouldn't be considered an awesomely great horse unless somehow he keeps right on winning through Saratoga this summer, the Breeders' Cup and into a four-year-old campaign. But they'd still never be able to take that Crown away from him.

And we do hope he runs on past the Belmont, avoiding that all-too-typical detour to the breeding shed.

As a two-year-old, I'll Have Another was moving right along on the artificial in California before having trouble with the slop in the Hopeful at Saratoga. He bounced back in a big way to win the Robert Lewis in February and then the Santa Anita Derby. His next stop was Louisville to begin his current odyssey.

As great as horse and rider have been, the coin's other side shows connections who steal seashells and bust balloons.

At the top, it's simple. Canadian J. Paul Reddam, a one-time college professor who wanted more, parlayed the sale of his four-year-old DiTech Funding Corp. mortgage lending firm in 1999 to GMAC Mortgage Corp. into a fortune that allowed him to seriously get into the ponies.

Since founding Cash Call, Inc. in 2003, things just kept getting better for him on the track as he campaigned notables Wilko and Red Rocks to Breeders' Cup success.

I'll just say this: In some places they call his business juice. And there have been some complaints.

If Thoroughbred horse racing is the sport of kings, what is J. Paul Reddam the king of?

But it's in the day-to-day, as in horse training, where things really go awry.

Here you've got a horse who has won the first two legs of the Triple Crown and instead of average Americans just curious of who this verge-of-history steed might be, his trainer, Doug O'Neill, less than a week after the Preakness, is suspended for 45 days and fined $15,000 by the California Horse Racing Board after inspectors found an elevated level of TCO2 (commonly administered in a concoction nicknamed a "milkshake") in a horse in an Aug. 25, 2010 race at Del Mar.

Of course, the penalty can't begin before July 1 and might be appealed anyway. That incident was just weeks after a similar one with Stephen's Got Hope that spring in the Illinois Derby at Hawthorne. Illinois racing officials also fined and suspended O'Neill.

"While elevated carbon dioxide is associated with 'milkshaking,' the officer agreed with O'Neill that his horse Argenta had not been fed a mixture of bicarbonate of soda, sugar and electrolytes that enhances performance and combats fatigue," AP reported. "The officer did not indicate what might have caused the overage."

So the CHRB found that the horse was not milkshaked but that because the level of TCO2 was still illegally high, O'Neill still had to be punished. This reeks of industry accommodation between all parties.

Forevermore, O'Neill will be able to say he didn't milkshake the horse at Del Mar!

And O'Neill did just that in an interview with NBC's Bob Costas earlier this week.

After Costas suggested that O'Neill has found a way to increase TCO2 levels without milkshaking, O'Neill blamed high dosing in the use of Lasix, a drug used on race day to alleviate respiratory bleeding in horses.

"Yeah, Bob, you're right. It definitely needs to be addressed, and one of the things we found out and we weren't told is that Lasix can affect a horse's TCO2 levels and prior to finding that out, we had all the horses at the highest level of permitted Lasix, and we found out that this is a serious issue. We're playing with fire by doing that. We have scaled back on the use of Lasix pre-race."

While O'Neill plays the victim and pleads ignorance, the point is his horses, including two others the day of the Del Mar allegation, often register the highest levels of TCO2.

In racing, O'Neill is not really considered a buffoon for doing these things all trainers do. Just for getting caught. After all, you still have to swim if you're in the cesspool.

But the book on O'Neill has another dark page. "Nationally, thoroughbred horses break down or show signs of injury at a rate of 5.1 per thousand starts, according to The Times's analysis of more than 150,000 races over the past three years," the New York Times reports. "In more than 2,300 starts, horses trained by O'Neill show a breakdown or injury frequency more than double that rate, at 12.0 per thousand starts."

And how do some react to O'Neill's record?

You have your conspiracy theorists: "[Longtime friend Mark] Verge said O'Neill had been the victim of his success and might have been sabotaged," the Times report says. "'People hate his guts because he wins.'"

Verge is also part-owner of the horses involved in both the Del Mar and Hawthorne soda jerking incidents. He's also the CEO of Santa Anita and apparently a real nice guy.

And you have your apologists: "No racing writer has been tougher on 2012 Kentucky Derby/Preakness-winning trainer Doug O'Neill in recent years than I have been over his medication violations and the catastrophic breakdowns of horses in his stable." says Ray Paulick of PaulickReport.com. "I would, however, be the ultimate hypocrite if I didn't believe O'Neill deserved a second chance or an opportunity to rehabilitate his image."

Admitting he's made some mistakes too, Paulick outlines his approach. "What I am saying is that I'm going to judge him on how he conducts his business in the future. Everyone deserves a second chance."

Second chance? How about eleventh or twelfth? O'Neill is nothing more than a recidivist, through every fault of his own and that of every state racing board and the industry as a whole. When is all this going to stop?

If you think O'Neill is being singled out and picked on, no. There is no better time than a Triple Crown attempt to understand that O'Neill and many, many more like him or worse are the norm in Thoroughbred racing. American racing is so drug-oriented that the concept of "We love these horses" might just be blowing out the window. No other racing environment in the world uses medication as the United States does, and O'Neill is the epitome of these practices.

And, without O'Neill bringing a fresh suspension and fine in his back pocket to Belmont on Saturday, you wouldn't hear a damn thing about these issues.

* * *

And then you have the New York Racing Association, which has borrowed a page from the Rahminator's NATO how-to and will go draconian in advance, thank you, and quarantine three days out all the Belmont horses in a special barn that will be so secure that needles, pills and smoothies will be impossible to find.

Announced 11 days after the Preakness, the quarantine rules will mean that some of the horses, major creatures of habit, will have to repack their stuff and move to different rooms at the Horsey Hilton. Some horses won't arrive before Wednesday and will head straight for their stalls in quarantine, avoiding the inconvenience.

Also, I'll Have Another won't have the benefit of his nasal strips, illegal in New York.

See what I mean? National racing rules are so disparate that a horse could lose the Triple Crown because of a difference in regulations and the botched handling of arbitrary rules concocted by an inept bureaucracy.

Daily Racing Form's Jay Hovdey nutshells it:

"It would be comforting to think that this year it is no different, and that great care and consideration is taken every time a Triple Crown is on the line. No one mentioned that the welfare of the horses running in the Belmont Stakes was of particular concern."

And NYRA is engaging in even more ass-covering by instituting measures specific to O'Neill's horses during Belmont week.

"Among the requirements for O'Neill, according to a confidential e-mail obtained by The New York Times, are that his horses cannot in any way be treated 'without a board investigator present,' and that he should not allow treatment of any of his horses 'by mouth or in feed without conferring with a board investigator, who will first log the treatment and discuss the reason(s) for treatment.

"O'Neill must also provide veterinary records for I'll Have Another and any other horses he may be running over those days at Belmont 'no later than 10 a.m.' each day after any treatment."

Of all the sport's past mistakes, is this fair? Is O'Neill the lone black sheep in a trainers' group of angels?

Before Triple Crown momentum and hype could even get going, news outlets all over picked up the O'Neill suspension story. So you've got a real live Triple Crown in the offing and the sins of the game have unavoidably taken all the drama and the fun out of it.

After thinking long and hard about this, I'm finding it impossible to separate this Triple Crown quest from the actions of the many people who have brought us to this unique Belmont Stakes with these specific circumstances. It was the first damn thing I thought of after the thrilling finish of the Preakness. A loan shark and a cheater for connections.

And I don't want to hear from the "It's the Triple Crown, why do you have to be so negative?" crowd. This is the perfect opportunity to ponder these things. The situation demands it.

After this race ends and the turnstiles stop and betting handle goes low again and they wonder why I'll Have Another didn't "capture the nation's imagination," maybe the dazed powers of racing will understand.

And maybe listen to this lady.

"I think people like to believe that horse racing is fixed. I think there's a little something that's naughty, that if you know someone you can find out if the fix is in, and I don't think we should fall for that. Or let that image be true."

Indeed, don't let the image be true.

But I'll tell you what.

If I'll Have Another wins this race, let the carnation-carpeted son of Flower Alley and Arch's Gal Edith, and his young jockey Mario Gutierrez, stand abso-effing-lutely alone in the winner's circle. And let the waves of adulation wash over them.

They're the only two who will deserve it.

* * *

The twelfth in position to win since Affirmed, will I'll Have Another become the twelfth Triple Crown champion in U.S. racing history?

Right now, he's ahead of his classmates. But those were two tough wins in the Derby and Preakness and Gutierrez is an inexperienced jockey on a track than can eat them alive.

O'Neill says the horse has bounced back well after the first two jewels. He hasn't had any official works since Pimlico, but reportedly gallops in a spirited manner, so that's okay.

Although he's a versatile horse, able to lay off a harmfully fast pace or lead a sensible one, the Belmont is a race where he'll have to measure his effort evenly through every inch of the 12 furlongs. Will the lack of a breathing strip hurt his air intake and will he panic because of it? That's all up to him.

As for Gutierrez, although he will ride several races Friday and Saturday, he doesn't really know Belmont and he is a rookie on this stage. The number one question will be his appreciation, or lack thereof, for the long stretches Belmont presents. He'll need to be a young man with patience.

And will the other jocks make him "earn" it by complicating his trip, as Jerry Bailey and Alex Solis did to Stewart Elliott and Smarty Jones in 2004?

The 12-horse field could cause early traffic problems, but give the top horses a clean go at it, and I'll Have Another has everything it takes to win.

At 4-5 morning line or worse, there's no way I'll bet on him, so who's the upsetter?

The wise guys are saying Dullahan or Paynter.

Dullahan (5-1 morning line), who observers say looks great this week, is a half-brother to Derby shockmeister Mine That Bird. He shows closing ability as long as he's not too far behind, and that suits this race. Coming in fresh from a third in the Derby, trainer Dale Romans is obviously keying this race.

With his racing lines showing a lot of trip trouble, Romans is replacing Kent Desormeaux with J. J. Castellano on Saturday. That's a good move.

But Dullahan's only two wins have come on Keeneland's Poly Track surface and his other good efforts have come on turf. After the Derby, there were whispers about him being a turf horse at heart. Which is it? He has the paper pedigree for the distance, but will he be able to handle the Big Sandy in Elmont, N.Y. after limited dirt experience at Churchill Downs? Morning line is 5-1 and I'm not sure I'd take anything less.

Paynter (8-1 ML) is the horse trainer Bob Baffert, early on, said was the star of his barn. That was before Bodemeister.

In only his fifth career race, all in 2012, Paynter is the only horse in the field besides I'll Have Another to bring in a three-digit Beyer Speed Figure.

Unimpressive in two graded stakes, he ran a 106 Beyer on the Preakness undercard. Out of Awesome Again with Tiznow in the higher branches, Paynter should have the pedigree to go 12 furlongs.

Except for the speed figures, Paynter looks like an awfully young horse with potential and too little experience or foundation to run with some big boys in the frickin' Belmont Stakes. But he might be too young to know better, lope along with the rest and sneak up. At least that's what Baffert is hoping.

A real enigma is Union Rags (6-1 ML), the once highly touted colt who has struggled and has been written off by many. Considered one of the most physically talented three-year-olds running, he has yet to show the form or the potential of his rookie season last year.

But there's a trend here. Up and down the line you see bad trips. Julien Leparoux has had (caused?) some tough times on this horse, getting him in a whole mess of traffic trouble in the Florida and Kentucky Derbies. Kentucky? Understandable. Florida? Leparoux had an early stranglehold on the horse, although Rags finished quite well once in the open. Michael Matz has made the change to jockey John Velazquez, a Belmont veteran if ever there was one.

His distance pedigree seems a bit short, but this big colt, in a reasonable pace scenario without a hassle, could be coming down the stretch like the Wabash Cannonball. All the better if he stays at 6-1 or more.

The others? D'OH!

Street Life (12-1 ML) is the son of Street Sense, winner of the Breeders' Cup Juvenile, Kentucky Derby and Travers Stakes. Not too shabby. He has experience at Belmont and does have that 93 Beyer last out at third in the Peter Pan at Belmont. That was first blinkers, so you figure he's still learning. I'll have a few clams on him.

Five Sixteen (50-1 ML) is a pure price play. However . . . he's showing Beyer improvement (I know, I know, only 78) in his last two, which included his maiden win, has shown some good works and has the very capable Rosie Napravnik in the saddle. The son of Invasor, a world-class horse who won both the Dubai World Cup and the Breeders' Cup Classic, he should have no problem getting the distance. If the race falls apart, who knows?

After these, you're on your own.

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Thomas Chambers is our man on the rail. He welcomes your comments.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:00 AM | Permalink

June 7, 2012

The [Thursday] Papers

Another stroll through the day's news.

1. Fritchey sees dead people. Preckwinkle does not.

2. Please, Billy, no.

3. "Beloved influential Southern California rock 'n' roll band Social Distortion have just announced a series of North American live dates in further support of their latest album Hard Times and Nursery Rhymes," Glide reports.

"Beginning in Chicago on October 11th, the band will be performing shows with alt-country Canadian recording artist Lindi Ortega and Atlanta rockers The Biters. Tickets go on sale for these shows starting Thursday, June 7 at 10 a.m. local time. All on sale times and locations can be found by visiting: SocialDistortion.com."

4. "Chicago chef Rick Bayless has been named to the Order of the Aztec Eagle, the highest distinction awarded to foreigners by the Mexican government."

5. Dot Chicago.

6. NATO Notebook V.

7. The Tribune once had a marching song and we've got it in our Local Music Notebook.

8. I have 527 e-mails in my inbox and 120 of them are unread. The rest are action items.

9. The gut rehab of the building next to mine continues to be up close and very loud.

10. TV Notebook: Our Heroes.

11. Catching up with the Chicago Fire's Art of Futbol.

-

The Beachwood Tip Line: Heroic.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 11:17 AM | Permalink

NATO Notebook V

"The NATO summit at McCormick Place cost Metra $800,000 in lost revenue from customers who stayed away and extra security expenses like bomb-sniffing dogs, the commuter railroad agency said Wednesday," the Tribune reports.

Oh, they'll make it back through increased tourism down the road.

"The South Shore Line, serving northwest Indiana, also expects a loss of about $100,000, General Manager Gerald Hanas has told officials of the Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District."

Add that to the (long) list.

*

What NATO Did To Us.

"It was like this all (Saturday) afternoon," [Ina] Pinkney told the Tribune.

On Friday, "people were taking the day off, treating it like a vacation day, so business was OK," she said. "This morning there was no start, no energy and then it totally dropped dead."

"None of the delegations are going out," she said. "One of our servers does room service at (a downtown luxury hotel), and he says the top delegates are going to special dinners, and the security details are ordering room service. No one's going out."

"This whole week has been the quietest ever," she said.

*

And don't forget: Corporate Chicago laid out $36.5 million for the summit.

*

But remember the breathless, credulous pre-summit reporting?

"The NATO summit coming to Chicago later this month will give a $128 million short-term boost to the city's economy, according to a projection released by the head of the host committee Monday," the Sun-Times reports.

"That does not count any long-term benefits of raising Chicago's profile."

To paraphrase John Maynard Keynes: In the long-term, the Metra and Ina's will be dead.

*

It's hard not to give Jim Tobin his due on this one.

"Chicago's hosting of the May NATO meetings was an expensive ego-trip for Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and his fellow politicians, charged Jim Tobin, President of Taxpayers United of America.

"Emanuel and his press flacks claimed that holding the NATO meetings put Chicago in a favorable light in the eyes of the world, and that as a result, Chicago's reputation as a world-class city will move up a few notches in the list of great world cities," said Tobin. "He's got to be kidding. Does he honestly think the world views Chicago as being in the same league as New York, London or Paris?"

"As far as the world is concerned, Chicago is the capitol of flyover country."

"On Friday and Monday, downtown businesses were ghost towns - the last thing they needed in this recession. LaSalle Street was empty according to reports, major employers asked their employees to stay home, and receipts in shops and restaurants were down sharply."

*

We'll be seeing a lot more of this, too.

"Charges were dropped Tuesday against a California man arrested on drug charges last month in Chinatown while in Chicago to protest the NATO Summit," the Sun-Times reports.

"Michael E. Lowe, 24, of the 100 block of West Morris Avenue in Fresno, Calif., was arrested and charged May 16 with one felony count of possession of a controlled substance and one misdemeanor count of possession of less than 2.5 grams of cannabis, police said.

"Prosecutors said he was found with heroin.

"On Tuesday, Lowe appeared in South Felony Court (Br. 48), where charges were dropped after a finding of no probable cause, Cook County State's Attorney's office spokeswoman Tandra Simonton said."

Oh, but there was probable cause:

"Lowe and fellow protester Danny Johnson, who had charges of aggravated battery and obstructing traffic charges dropped, educated inmates about the Occupy movement and had 'teach ins' and 'sit-ins' during their incarceration, Johnson said."

Where are their free baseball tickets?

*

First, George Washington. Now, Queen Elizabeth.

Memo to Chicago pols: A world-class city does not act like this.

*

Thank you, Ald. Waugespack.

-

Previously:
* NATO Notebook I
* NATO Notebook II
* NATO Notebook III
* NATO Notebook IV

-

Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:17 AM | Permalink

TV Notebook: Our Heroes

Broadcasts you didn't see.

1. From Occupy Boston TV.


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2. From PressTV Global News.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:38 AM | Permalink

The Chicago Fire's Art of Futbol

"Fire players Dan Gargan and Gonzalo Segares showcase their work with other artists at May's Art of Futbol event held at Society Art Gallery."


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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:38 AM | Permalink

Local Music Notebook: Rockie Fresh, In The Ghetto, Chicago Tribune March

A loose collection of whatnot.

1. Rockie Fresh on the Chicago scene.


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2. "In The Ghetto" alternate take.

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3. Chicago Tribune March. "From a time when newspapers actually had marches written for them," writes Lucius1958. "Edison Diamond Disc #51213-L, 'Chicago Tribune March' (W.P. Chambers), played by Sodero's Band (recorded June 1923). Played on an Edison BC-34 'Baby Console' from the 1920s."

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:03 AM | Permalink

June 6, 2012

The [Wednesday] Papers

Taking a stroll through the news.

1. Cook County Commissioner Peter Silvestri joined the rest of Official Chicago on Tuesday in lowering the bar for police performance in these parts when police chief Garry McCarthy stopped by to be honored for leading a veritable battalion against a handful of scraggly, unarmed protestors who got a little pushy at the end of their anti-NATO march last month.

"Congratulations superintendent," Silvestri said. "I saw you on the mountain on, uh, I think it was Michigan Avenue at one point. There was a mound and you were standing there, and it kind of reminded me of George Washington. All you needed was a horse and a sword."

Um, under that scenario wouldn't Washington have been leading the, uh, revolutionaries angry about their imperial, war-making taxmasters?

*

McCarthy undoubtedly will not be asked back to talk about this.

2. "A man exposed himself Monday at the Southwest Side ward office of Ald. Marty Quinn (13th), officials said," the Sun-Times reports.

"The man dropped his pants at the government building in the 6500 block of South Pulaski, police said."

Accepting punch lines all day.

3. Cheeseheads.

4. Barack Obama once promised to walk any picket line where the right to collectively bargain was threatened, but he didn't even set foot in Wisconsin during the recall campaign - though he had time to fundraise in nearby Chicago.

What else Obama was doing while Wisconsin was up for grabs:

* Sarah Jessica Parker Opens Home For Obama Fundraiser

* Obama Gives Bon Jovi A Ride On Air Force One

* President Obama, Bill Clinton Speak at 'Barack On Broadway' Fundraiser

And now he's off to Beverly Hills.

Maybe he'll read last week's jobs report on the plane.

5. "Morgan Stanley unlawfully executed, processed, and reported numerous off-exchange futures trades to the Chicago Mercantile Exchange and Chicago Board of Trade," Here Is The City reports.

But pot smokers are the ones we send to prison.

Memo to McCarthy and Silvestri:

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See also: Obama's Pot Reform Goes Up In Smoke.

6. Just hours after her husband sorted through his baseball cards.

7. Dissecting Obama's Drone Death Standards.

8. Damn Right, We've Still Got The Blues.

9. Duck Trouble In Sky Blue Waters.

10. Call-Ups Maybe.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: We know it's crazy.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:16 AM | Permalink

Duck Trouble In Sky Blue Waters

This aired on local Chicago TV on Wednesday, April 2nd 1980.


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About The Museum of Classic Chicago Television:

The Museum of Classic Chicago Television's primary mission is the preservation and display of off-air, early home videotape recordings (70s and early 80s, primarily) recorded off of any and all Chicago TV channels; footage which would likely be lost if not sought out and preserved digitally. Even though (mostly) short clips are displayed here, we preserve the entire broadcasts in our archives - the complete programs with breaks (or however much is present on the tape), for historical purposes. For information on how to help in our mission, to donate or lend tapes to be converted to DVD, and to view more of the 3,800+ (and counting) video clips available for viewing in our online archive, please visit us at: http://www.fuzzymemories.tv/index.php?contentload=donate.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:50 AM | Permalink

Damn Right, We've Still Got The Blues

"Blues fans from around the world will descend upon Grant Park in downtown Chicago for three free days of acoustic and electric blues by mostly-hometown musicians," Voice of America reports.

"The weekend's offerings will salute some of Chicago's blues legends. On tap are tributes to vocalist Koko Taylor, singer and guitarist David 'Honeyboy' Edwards and guitarist Hubert Sumlin. There will also be a celebration of Muddy Waters' disciples Pinetop Perkins, Willie 'Big Eyes' Smith and George 'Mojo' Buford.

"Waters' son Mud Morganfield will lead the All-Star tribute to some of his dad's best-known band members who passed away in 2011."

Let's take a look.

1. Preview Performance at Daley Plaza on Monday: Melvia "Chick" Rodgers and The Blues Machine Band.


*

2. Buddy Guy's Blues Fest Kickoff Jam.

Featuring The Brooks Family Blues Dynasty, Shemekia Copeland, Matthew Skoller & Lurrie Bell, Lil Ed Williams, The Chicago Blues Divas: Deitra Farr, Peaches Stanten and Nellie 'Tiger' Travis, and a special appearance by Billy Branch.

More details and the scheduled for Buddy Guy's for the whole weekend can be found at the club's website.

*

3. The 2012 Chicago Blues Festival opens on Friday. The day's schedule can be found here; the headliner is Texas Johnny Brown. Here's a taste.

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4. Saturday's headliner is Floyd Taylor. Here's the day's full schedule and a taste of Taylor.

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5. Mavis Staples closes out the festival on Sunday night. Here's the day's full schedule and a taste of Mavis.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:45 AM | Permalink

Fantasy Fix: Call-Ups Maybe

If you're a Cubs fan, there isn't much to do these days except debate when Anthony Rizzo will get called up. That's how it is when you're in last place.

And if your fantasy team is near the bottom of the standings too, you just might be doing the same thing, although more generally speaking. We're getting to the portion of the season where bad MLB teams are starting to call up their prospects in hopes of shaking things up, and if you pick up the call-ups at the right time, they can provide a nice fantasy boost.

This season, we have already seen at least two prospects presumed to be mid-season arrivals actually called up early - Bryce Harper of the Nationals and Mike Trout of the Angels. Both of them (especially Trout) have been doing so well that they are not available in most fantasy leagues, but don't worry. There are more call-ups on the way.

Here are my top picks for probable mid-season call-ups worth picking up:

1. Trevor Bauer, SP, ARI: The much-hyped, mechanically precise Bauer almost could have made the team out of spring training. He was sent to AA, dominated there, and moved up to AAA. Capable of delivering strikeouts by the truckload.

2. Anthony Rizzo, 1B, CUBS: Team management has dashed fans' hopes at every turn, insisting he won't get called up because the Cubs are losing, and won't get called up just for interleague games. But it's still a good bet Rizzo will make it to Chicago by sometime in July, particularly if an OF or 1B gets traded.

3. Danny Hultzen, SP, SEA: Like Bauer, another 2011 draft pick who could rise quickly. He's still in AA, but his low ERA potential could play very well in his home park.

4. Dylan Axelrod, SP, WHITE SOX: With a great season developing, the Sox are not in a hurry to call anyone up, and the effectiveness of Jose Quintana, the injury replacement for John Danks, could make it harder for another pitcher to get the call. But Axelrod will get the next slot available in the rotation or bullpen.

5. Travis d'Arnaud, C, TOR: Toronto's big league catcher, J.P. Arencibia, is known for his light-tower power, but has struggled mightily. d'Arnaud is a power hitter too, and if AAA is any indication, he looks like a better overall hitter.

Expert Wire
* Yahoo! Pickups of the Week agrees it's time to pick up Bauer.

* Full Spectrum Baseball notes that unlike Facebook, Rockies outfielder Dexter Fowler is seeing his stock value rise.

* Bleacher Report lists two-start pitchers for this week. These kinds of updates are definitely worth paying attention to in head-to-head leagues.

* CBS Sports.com looks at Detroit's Jose Valverde, who could be the next closer to lose his job.

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


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:35 AM | Permalink

Dissecting Obama's Standard On Drone Strike Deaths

In a lengthy front-page story last week exploring President Obama's use of drone strikes in countries including Pakistan and Yemen, the New York Times reported that the president had "embraced a disputed method for counting civilian casualties that did little to box him in."

Citing "several administration officials," the Times reported that this method "in effect counts all military-age males in a strike zone as combatants . . . unless there is explicit intelligence posthumously proving them innocent." The Times reported that this standard allowed counterterrorism adviser John Brennan to claim in June 2011 that for nearly a year "there hasn't been a single collateral death because of the exceptional proficiency, precision of the capabilities that we've been able to develop."

Human rights groups and others have expressed outrage at the reported counting method. And in the last few days alone, 27 "suspected militants" have been killed in three drone strikes in Pakistan, including the reported No. 2 of al-Qaeda.

We wanted to lay out exactly what's known (not much) about the apparent policy, what's not (a lot), and what the White House is saying in response to the Times report.

Crucially, the White House has done nothing to knock the story down. I gave the White House a chance to respond, and it declined to comment on the record. But speaking on condition of anonymity, an administration official acknowledged that the administration does not always know the names or identities of everyone in a location marked for a drone strike.

"As a general matter, it [the Times report] is not wrong that if a group of fighting age males are in a home where we know they are constructing explosives or plotting an attack, it's assumed that all of them are in on that effort," the official said. "We're talking about some of the most remote places in the world, and some of the most paranoid organizations on the planet. If you're there with them, they know you, they trust you, there's a reason [you're] there."

When we asked a White House spokesperson about how the U.S. knows even the number of people killed in strikes, they told us to speak the CIA. The CIA did not immediately respond to our request.

Another thing that's unclear is whether the controversial counting method is a new policy. Sen. Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., the ranking Republican on the Intelligence Committee, told Fox News last week that he was not aware of any change in the policy of how corpses are counted, but that if there had been a change, his committee should be briefed.

Several people in the human rights community told ProPublica that the metric for counting civilians described in the Times report represents a new and troubling standard.

"We have never before heard anything quite like the idea that if you have to be in a certain place and you happen to be of a certain age, that in and of itself can make you targetable," said Gabor Rona, international legal director at Human Rights First and former legal adviser at the International Committee of the Red Cross.

It's also not clear whether the policy applies to all covert drone strikes or just ones done by the CIA.

Asked last week about the Times report, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney told reporters the president "goes to extraordinary measures" to avoid civilian casualties.

"We have at our disposal tools that make avoidance of civilian casualties much easier, and tools that make precision targeting possible in ways that have never existed in the past," Carney argued.

But analysts point out strikes can go awry even if a missile hits its programmed target.

"Any military official will tell you your precision is only as good as your intelligence sources and your intelligence analysis," said Naureen Shah, associate director of the Counterterrorism and Human Rights Project at Columbia Law School. "How much do we really know about Somalia and Yemen and Pakistan? We have errors in targeting in Afghanistan and we've been there for a decade."

Shah, who is working on a study on civilian harm from covert drone strikes, said she was not surprised by the Obama administration's reported standard for counting civilians given the extremely low estimates of civilian casualties leaked by administration officials over the years.

The Times story last week, for example, quotes a "senior administration official" claiming that the number of civilians killed by drone strikes under Obama in Pakistan is in the "single digits."

That's in stark contrast to outside estimates. Independent organizations analyzing news reports and other sources have put civilian deaths from drone strikes from the high double digits in Pakistan alone to the high triple digits including countries like Yemen and Somalia.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:25 AM | Permalink

June 5, 2012

The [Tuesday] Papers

"On Tuesday, a state commission set up to investigate claims of police torture will refer its first cases to Cook County's chief judge, beginning to fulfill its mandate to plumb one of Chicago's most stubborn scandals by making recommendations for legal relief," the Tribune reports.

"Then it will go out of business."

Wha?

"Its budget last year: $150,000. Its proposed budget for the coming year, which called for adding a staff attorney: $235,000.

"The state House and Senate, however, voted last week to strip the commission of its funding."

Name those legislators!

Seriously, name every legislator who voted to strip this funding.

And if it was tucked into some larger bill, find out who did the tucking. Because somebody did.

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"Sen. Kwame Raoul, D-Chicago, a sponsor of the bill that created the commission, said he was unaware funding had been cut."

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Somebody did it, and I hope the Tribune - and/or others - find out who. After all, the budget for the commission is about a tenth of what Michael Madigan has in his campaign fund.

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"Madigan also informed lawmakers that if they're called back this summer to deal with pension reform, they should hope Quinn makes the call instead of the legislative leaders," the Tribune reports.

"'If the governor calls the special session, why the members will get their per diem allowance' of more than $100 a day, Madigan said."

Which would be more than enough to fund the torture commission.

Marching Orders
"Chicago will end up paying $16 million to settle a lawsuit filed by about 900 participants a 2003 anti-war march when attorneys' fees and a deal in a related lawsuit are added in," AP reports.

Good job, CPD!

"Some 10,000 demonstrators flooded the plaza near the city's federal courthouse in March 2003, shortly after the Iraq war began. The protesters marched to Lake Shore Drive, blocking traffic.

"More than 500 people were detained, and about 300 were charged with crimes. All the charges were later dropped."

The city says CPD has learned its lesson but that's easy to say when you spend millions of dollars to, say, police an anti-NATO march of about 2,000 people.

The City That Subsidizes
"A City Council Committee on Monday approved a $5.2 million tax-increment financing subsidy to pave the way for construction of a 131-room Hyatt Hotel near the University of Chicago," the Sun-Times reports.

Here's a question: Why? Hyatt can't afford to build hotels on their own?

Meat Puppets
"Sara Lee Corp. said today that Hillshire Brands Co. will be the name of its North American meat company when the company splits later this month," Crain's reports.

Yada yada yada.

Here's the real Sara Lee news, from Footnoted:

"Sara Lee is also giving [new CEO Sean] Connolly a one-time hiring payment of $1.65 million cash, $2.0 million shares of restricted common stock, and a bonus of $250,000. (Connolly's Offer Letter, filed with the most recent 10-Q, explains that all these payments are to compensate him for what he lost by leaving the Campbell Soup Company.)

"On top of that, though, in the years to come, Connolly will get several million dollars more in long-term incentive awards, which the company set out as follows:

"Fiscal 2012-2014 - $1.8 million grant value, with 50% awarded in performance stock units and 50% awarded in stock options

Fiscal 2013-2015 - $3.0 million grant value; form of grant to be determined."

"Meanwhile, Maria Henry will become Sara Lee's new CFO. She's getting a salary of $575,000 with a target bonus of another $460,000. Sara Lee is also giving Henry a one-time hiring payment of '75,000 cash (net) and $500,000 shares of restricted common stock,' and it set her long-term annual incentive award target at $1.25 million, with 50% to be awarded in performance stock units and 50% to be awarded in stock options."

That's a lot of dough. But they've got some money to play with. From us.

"Part of Sara Lee's corporate headquarters is coming 'home' to Chicago - along with up to 650 jobs - thanks to a $6.5 million city subsidy that's a first for Mayor Rahm Emanuel," the Sun-Times reported last December.

Off With The Fire Department's Heads
Demeaning and denigrating the public workplace.

The Ghosts of Birmingham
The White Sox's Double-A affiliate collides with history.

Electric Mud
Remembering Un(der)Sung Chicago Guitar Hero Pete Cosey.

Marketing Chicago's Bus Stops
The Vitamin Water Wrap.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Share our umbrella.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:58 AM | Permalink

Marketing Chicago's Bus Stops

JCDecaux is our bus shelter ad overlord. Here's their latest Chicago video upload.

Please note:

* Nobody's really looking at the ad. How is effectiveness measured?

* The skateboard kid is cool in an ad but would scare many Chicagoans if seen on the street - which is their problem, not Vitaminwater's.

* No audio; maybe talk about the marketing packages and costs.

* On YouTube, this video category is listed as Nonprofits & Activism. Really, Decaux?

Background:

From the Tribune, 2001:

"Selecting from a list of companies represented by influence-heavy local lobbyists, the Daley administration announced Friday that it has chosen a European firm to install nearly 2,200 pieces of fancy 'street furniture,' from bus stop shelters to newsstands.

"Officials insisted that clout played no role in the selection of JCDecauxCo. of France. The firm's local representatives include the law firm of Gery Chico, former Board of Education president and one- time chief of staff to Mayor Richard Daley, and other political heavyweights.

"David Malone, the city's purchasing chief, and Chicago Transit Authority President Frank Kruesi said JCDecaux offered the best deal among proposals submitted by five companies.

"Under JCDecaux's proposal, the firm will construct, install and maintain 2,000 shelters to be placed at selected Chicago Transit Authority bus stops; seven bus supervisor kiosks; up to 110 newspaper vending racks in the downtown area; 21 newsstands; and 10 vending kiosks, some in city parks.

"The items will cost the city nothing under a 20-year contract. But the city will receive $200 million over the next two decades as JCDecaux shares revenues from advertisements that will be placed on the street furniture, officials said."

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From the Tribune, 2003:

"A media conglomerate seeking a lucrative contract to erect bus shelters on Chicago's streets guaranteed $39 million more in payments to the city than JCDecaux, the French advertising giant chosen by the Daley administration.

"Records obtained by the Tribune show that Infinity Outdoor Inc. promised $314 million over the two-decade life of the contract, even with no assurance that it could install shelters on the desirable State Street and North Michigan Avenue shopping corridors where advertising on the shelters would command premium rates.

"JCDecaux was declared the winner in November 2001 with a bid that guaranteed the city $275 million, though city officials said that they did not like some of the package and stripped it down. The city's official announcement in 2001 calculated the value of JCDecaux's winning bid at $200 million.

"After that announcement, the company's representatives and city officials began lengthy negotiations on details of a final contract that then increased the money offered to $307.5 million.

"But critics contend the city gave away the store, dramatically sweetening the terms of the deal for JCDecaux and, in the end, settling for a figure that was lower than what Infinity offered from the start.

"David Malone, the city's purchasing chief, said that the Infinity bid, like that of JCDecaux, included items that the city did not want. But Malone said he did not know the value of those unwanted Infinity add-ons."

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From the Tribune, 2005:

"After strong opposition from downtown property owners killed a recent proposal that would have required them to pay the $7.4 million annual operating expense of Millennium Park, the Daley administration has decided on another source of revenue to cover the park's costs: street furniture.

"Escalating annual receipts from a contract awarded several years ago to a company that has installed more than 2,000 bus shelters, newsstands, newspaper vending racks and other items citywide will be used to pay the bill for everything from security to janitorial services associated with the park, Budget Director Paul Volpe said Wednesday."

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From the Tribune, 2006:

"The city has lost more than $640,000 in revenue because it failed to meet the timetable laid out in a controversial contract for bus shelters, newspaper boxes and other street furniture.

"JCDecaux recently delivered a certified check to the city for more than $3.2 million as its 2005 payment, but that was nearly 17 percent under the almost $3.9 million called for in the contract.

"But city officials on Thursday acknowledged that the payment amount was accurate because of delays in giving the company the green light to proceed with more than 85 street furniture items that should have been up by now.

"Money from the JCDecaux contract took on added significance late last year when the City Council approved a mayoral proposal to use the cash generated by the pact to fund annual Millennium Park operating costs."

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:01 AM | Permalink

Off With The Fire Department's Heads!

What in the world is up with arbitrator Edwin H. Benn?

That's what city inspector general Joe Ferguson - and much of the (small) portion of Chicago that pays attention to these things - wants to know.

"Chicago's internal watchdog on Monday defended his recommendation to fire dozens of firefighters who padded mileage reports and called an arbitrator's ruling to soften penalties in the case 'patent nonsense,'" the Tribune reports.

"Last year, Inspector General Joseph Ferguson recommended firing 54 firefighters in the Fire Prevention Bureau that his office determined had falsified their mileage reimbursements to the tune of $100,000 in 2009. Then-fire Commissioner Robert Hoff decided instead to issue lengthy unpaid suspensions to most firefighters but fired four of them.

"The arbitrator, Edwin Benn, reversed the firings last week, ruling that the four instead should be suspended without pay for 40 days. He also ruled that most of the other firefighters have their 30- to 60-day suspensions reduced to 20 to 40 days.

"Benn found that while firefighters and supervisors violated city rules, they engaged in conduct that had been 'almost a work rule,' condoned within the department for decades."

In other words, Benn decided to let the firefighters off easy because the corruption they engaged in is so widespread that they shouldn't be held accountable for their misdeeds. What a novel legal theory.

On Monday, Ferguson fired back in fine form, releasing this statement:

"Last year, after a lengthy investigation, my office determined that firefighters assigned to the Fire Prevention Bureau routinely lied on their mileage reimbursement requests in order to defraud the City out of money. The IGO recommend that most of these employees be terminated. The Chicago Fire Department instead imposed lengthy unpaid suspensions.

"Last week an Arbitrator reduced those suspensions, arguing that because the scheme was so widespread it amounted to a de facto work rule tacitly condoned by the Bureau's supervisors.

"The Arbitrator's decision expressly found the IGO's investigation to be thorough. We established widespread, long-running theft and falsification by scores of sworn personnel of the Chicago Fire Department. These findings notwithstanding, the Arbitrator's decision also includes a lengthy and gratuitous criticism of the IGO. The Arbitrator argued that our recommendation to terminate the employees was 'draconian . . . Like the Queen of Hearts in Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland, whose only response to any perceived misconduct was the overly cruel mandate, 'Off with their heads,' in the end, those bellicose commandments which are not followed ultimately make that individual a powerless figure who is not to be taken seriously[.]'

"City residents struggling to understand the Arbitrator's opinion may be reminded of another quote from Alice in Wonderland: 'It would be nice if something made sense for a change.' I can sympathize with that sentiment. The idea that stealing, fraudulent falsification of official records - and lying - is acceptable because everyone else is doing it is patent nonsense. Any child knows better. These firefighters did not engage in conduct that unknowingly brought them in technical violation of some obscure and misunderstood City rule. Rather, they admitted to routinely and systematically lying in order to steal money from the City - and, ultimately, from Chicago taxpayers.

"While that certainly violates a number of City rules, that conduct is also criminal, inherently and obviously wrong. It cannot be excused just because supervisors, as equally 'culturally challenged' as their charges, found it acceptable.

"And let's be clear: the supervisors did not even tell these firefighters their conduct was acceptable - they told them that they would not get caught if they filled out their paperwork in a specific manner. Unfortunately, if not for the dedicated work of my staff, that was probably true.

"The Chicago Fire Department has a long and proud history of service to our City. However, bravery in service to the public does not put them above the law, or excuse them from their moral and fiduciary obligation to the people of this City. Just as I would fire an IGO employee for stealing or lying, I would again recommend the Fire Department terminate firefighters who steal from the City they are sworn to protect. The certifications and testimony of Fire Prevention Bureau inspectors are relied upon by law enforcement, and their work is used by numerous regulatory bodies to ensure the safety of millions. When government allows those who steal taxpayer money to keep their taxpayer-funded jobs, we do grievous damage to the public trust, and especially the trust placed in the honest, dedicated employees of the CFD. The Arbitrator argued that our termination recommendation 'demean[s] and denigrate[s]' the Fire Department. He has it exactly backwards - it is the reprehensible conduct of these Fire Prevention Bureau employees that demeans and denigrates the work and sacrifice of their fellow firefighters.

"In the end, if the Arbitrator thinks I owe some sort of apology for recommending that employees who are proven to be liars and thieves be terminated, let me dispel that delusion - no apology is necessary and none will be forthcoming. I would do it again tomorrow - anything less and I would stand rightfully accused of failing my duty as Inspector General.

"And if the Arbitrator, or anyone else, thinks I am going to back down from investigating other City employees who lie and steal, or from recommending their termination if the evidence supports it, let me be crystal clear - I will not. Chicagoans can be assured that we will continue to work tirelessly to protect their interests and resources from City employees who put their own selfish desires ahead of the duty they owe the City and its residents.

At its core, the IGO operates from a very simple belief: City employees who lie, cheat or steal in the performance of their official duties have forfeited the honor to be City employees and should be terminated. Nothing that happened last week changes our commitment to that fundamental principle, and I am confident that our documented track record in upholding that principle ensures we will continue to be taken very seriously by those who would believe and act otherwise."

Amen.

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From Benn's ruling:

"The Department and the City disagreed with the IGO's recommendation that Grievants should all be discharged and instead issued discipline in individual cases of suspension (30, 45 and 60 days) and discharge."

The City is Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

["Mayor Rahm Emanuel does not plan to appeal an arbitrator's order to rehire four firefighters who were fired for padding mileage reports, but he continued his tough talk on employee misconduct," the Tribune reported last week.

["'I give no quarter to anyone who does anything wrong or violates the public trust,' Emanuel said at an unrelated news conference Friday. 'When it comes to a culture and atmosphere, we condone no violation of the public trust. None. Zero tolerance.'"

[Except in the very case he was asked about. Talk about Alice in Wonderland.]

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"I find that the City has shown that Grievants engaged in the charged misconduct. There is no real dispute that Grievants knowingly submitted inaccurate mileage reimbursement reports and obtained compensation for mileage expenses (ranging, in some cases, into the thousands of dollars) that they did not actually incur. Such conduct clearly violates reasonable expectations of employees in the workplace.

"Further, such conduct clearly violates the City's Personnel Rules and the Department's rules and orders. As the IGO correctly concluded after his detailed investigation, the evidence shows that Grievants ' . . . routinely falsified their reimbursement claims by systematically vastly over-stating the number of miles they drove in their personal vehicles when performing inspections and other FPB-related business.'

"The Union's arguments that Grievants' conduct was consistent with a decades-long practice which was condoned - indeed, encouraged (as well as engaged in) - by their supervisors as found by the IGO, do not go to whether Grievants engaged in misconduct, but go to the question of whether the actions taken against them were appropriate."

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"I find that even with the City's disagreement with the IGO's recommendation for discharge of all Grievants, the City has not shown that the actions taken against Grievants were appropriate.

"First, the purpose of discipline is to send a corrective message to employees who engage in misconduct that they must conform their conduct to their employer's rules and reasonable expectations in the workplace. Therefore, progressive discipline is typically used to accomplish that message-sending goal."

*

"Given what the IGO found in this case - the pervasive supervisory condonation and encouragement of the conduct which elevated the long-standing practice concerning mileage reimbursements in the FPB almost to the status of a work rule, as well as the long and often unblemished service of these employees - anyone with any labor relations experience can only wince when reading the IGO's recommendations that all Grievants should be discharged. Whether intended or not, the IGO's draconian disciplinary recommendations in this case demean and denigrate the Department and all of its members from the highest supervisors to the lowest ranks."

*

"By ignoring the IGO's own findings of the decades-long condonation and encouragement by supervisory personnel of the mileage reimbursement practice, with the IGO's draconian disciplinary recommendations for mass discharge of all of the in- volved FPB employees, then, like the Queen of Hearts in Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland whose only response to any perceived misconduct was the overly cruel mandate of 'Off with their heads!', in the end, those bellicose commandments which are not followed ultimately make that individual a powerless figure who is not to be taken seriously.

"In Chapter IX of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (The Mock Turtle's Story), the Queen of Hearts walks away from Alice and the Gryphon stating that 'I must go back and see after some executions I have ordered.' Then, after the Queen departs, the Gryphon explains the Queen's lack of power to Alice:

"'The Gryphon sat up and rubbed its eyes: then it watched the Queen till she was out of sight: then it chuckled. What fun! said the Gryphon, half to itself, half to Alice.

"'What is the fun? said Alice.

"'Why, she, said the Gryphon. It's all her fancy, that: they never executes nobody, you know.'

"The point here is that not only do the IGO's draconian recommendations of discharge for all Grievants demean and denigrate the Department and all its members as a whole, the IGO's recommendations - which ignore the extraordinary mitigating factors in this case of condonation and supervisory encouragement of the conduct - also demean and denigrate the IGO as those recommendations exhibit an utter lack of knowledge of basic labor relations principles and the core purpose of discipline, which is that discipline is meant to correct and not punish.

"Given the extraordinary mitigating factors of the level of supervisory condonation and encouragement of the long-standing mileage reimbursement practice presented in this case, the IGO's recommendations of 'Off with their heads' were borderline ludicrous and may well make the IGO - like the Queen of Hearts - into a powerless entity which is not to be taken seriously."

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Or is Edwin Benn the one not to be taken seriously? To wit:

* "A Chicago Transit Authority mechanic, convicted of theft in an overtime pay scam in 1985, was ordered returned to his $14.28-an-hour job by an arbitrator and awarded about $70,000 in back pay, CTA officials said Monday," the Tribune reported in 1988. Benn was that arbitrator.

* "In a blow to the Daley administration's efforts to deal with the volatile issue of race in the city's Fire Department, an arbitrator on Wednesday tossed out the punishments against 28 Chicago firefighters who had been disciplined for their role in a raucous 1990 firehouse party," the Tribune reported in 1998.

"The decision, if it survives an appeal by the city, would reverse what had been the biggest bloodletting at the department in recent memory - brought on by public outrage at a videotape showing firefighters making racial slurs and drinking during the party.

"The arbitrator ruled that seven dismissed firefighters should be reinstated and that assorted suspensions of 21 others were invalid.

"Edwin Benn, the independent arbitrator, ruled that the city had waited too long to take the disciplinary action - 6 1/2 months after Edward F. Altman, the former head of the department's internal affairs division, first learned of the videotape in May 1997 . . .

"'He said that we could not discipline them because we had not done it in a timely manner in that Ed Altman had had the videotape for several months before anything was done,' said John Camper, a spokesman for Mayor Richard M. Daley. 'We don't agree with him. The corporation counsel and the mayor only found out about it after it appeared on TV (months after Altman learned of the videotape).'"

The Illinois Appellate Court overruled Benn two years later.

* Benn's employment history:

"Partner in the firm of Asher, Pavalon, Gittler, and Greenfield, Ltd., Chicago, Illinois (employed 1978 - 1985). Duties included general representation of labor organizations. Clients in- cluded various local unions of the Fraternal Order of Police, International Brotherhood of Teamsters, Service Employees International Union, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, United Food and Commercial Workers, United Union of Roofers, Glaziers, Bricklayers, Sprinklerfitters, Cement Lime & Gypsum Workers, United Rubber Workers, National Association of Letter Carriers, Railroad Yardmasters of America and the American Federation of Musicians along with various related benefit funds."

The irony: Benn is doing labor a disservice - demeaning and denigrating it, you might say - by defending inexcusable behavior not just in any workplace but the taxpayer-funded workplace. It's almost like Through The Looking-Glass.

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Comments welcome.


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:49 AM | Permalink

Remembering Un(der)sung Chicago Guitar Hero Pete Cosey

"As one of the more criminally glossed-over guitar heroes of jazz-rock's psychedelic heyday, Pete Cosey had an unflashy but unusual knack for making six strings sound like a thousand," Bill Murphy writes for Premier Guitar.

"When the news broke on May 30 of his death in Chicago at the age of 68, all those scorching leads may have gone silent, but the legacy Cosey left behind - including his classic late-'60s recordings with Muddy Waters and Howlin' Wolf, and above all his groundbreaking fusion work with Miles Davis - will resonate among guitar heads for decades to come."

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"Pete's scorching guitar lines, out-of-this-world effects, unconventional tunings and sheer virtuosity have inspired and influenced many guitarists - even Jimi Hendrix is rumored to have picked up a trick or two from Pete.

"In this exclusive interview with TheLastMiles.com, Pete talks about playing, his musical influences, being a member of the Miles Davis band and the struggles he faced when Miles' band finally broke up."

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Peter Margasak of the Reader wrote about Cosey in 1997 and 2003. He links to those pieces in last week's "Chicago Guitar Genius Pete Cosey Dead At 68."

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From 2009 by Harrison Owen:

"The players: Pete Cosey on guitar and assorted percussion and vocals, Melvin Gibbs on bass, JT Lewis on drums, Johnny Juice on conga and turntables. There was also a special guest sax solo by Dave Liebman."

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By loveolv:

"Pete Cosey's Children of Agharta performed two incendiary sets at NYC's Village Underground, on June 21st, 2002. The group featured Cosey on guitar, JT Lewis, drums, Gary Bartz and John Stubblefield on saxes & flute, Matt Rubano, bass, Johnny Juice, turntables, Baba Israel, words and beats, Kyle Jason, voice, Bern Pizzitola, guitar, Wendy Oxenhorn, harmonica.

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By potupchik:

From the album After the Rain. Could be considered Electric Mud 2 since most of the same musicians play on here. Pete Cosey on lead guitar."

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:00 AM | Permalink

June 4, 2012

Introducing The Oak Park Sculpture Walk

"Oak Park's first annual summer outdoor sculpture walk is set for June 2 - mid-October. Art will be on display at 12 locations on Lake Street and Forest Avenue. The walk will begin at the Oak Park Public Library, 834 Lake St., head west along Lake to Forest, then north toward Chicago.

"The sculpture walk was organized by the Public Art Advisory Commission, citizen volunteers who promote the acquisition and placement of public art that reflects diversity and artistic expression, and enhances the esthetic environment of the Village.

"Details are posted at www.oak-park.us/sculpturewalk. For more information, call 708.358.5648 or e-mail planning@oak-park.us."


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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 1:09 PM | Permalink

The Weekend in Chicago Rock

You shoulda been there.

1. Iggy Azalea at Reggie's on Saturday night.


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2. Chris Connelly at Do Division on Saturday.

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3. Drake in Tinley Park on Saturday night.

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4. Thrice at the Metro on Saturday night.

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5. Craig Finn at the Empty Bottle on Saturday night.

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6. Moon Furies at Do Division on Friday.

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7. Against Me! at the Congress on Friday night.

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8. Graffiti6 at Schubas on Friday night.

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9. Listener at the Capitol Club on Friday night.

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10. The Cult at the Congress on Friday night.

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11. Le Butcherettes at Subterranean on Friday night.

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12. Eiren Caffali Band at Do Division on Sunday.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:24 PM | Permalink

SportsMonday: Even Up

The basketball was beautiful Saturday night. Sunday's action was less so.

But yesterday's result certainly warmed the heart of anti-Heat fans everywhere. And there is some drama in the NBA playoffs after the first two games in both conference finals earlier last week were dominated by the favorites. Now deuces - a pair of 2-2 deadlocks - are wild.

The disliked Heat (they aren't really "hated" this time around even if that adjective makes for such better alliteration) had its chances and then some against the limping Celtics last night. Boston and in particular the amazing Rajon Rondo (his fake behind-the-back pass uncontested lay-up is a move for the ages) dominated the first half but slowly let things slip away heading down the stretch.

I'm still not sure exactly how they held on to force overtime and then win 93-91 despite squandering a 14-point fourth-quarter lead and scoring only four points in the extra time. A huge factor, of course, was the fact that for the first time in four years, LeBron James fouled out. He did so a few minutes after Paul Pierce suffered the same fate.

It was just plain ugly out there in the final minutes. For goodness sake, the stars of the show were the floppers. Old pro Shane Battier collapsed like a demolished building after Pierce made mild contact with him to account for foul-out number one. Then Mickael Pietrus did him one better. His flop was preceded by a slick bit of footwork that made it impossible for James not to take a tumble onto him.

The even-up nature of the call was a bit of comfort, but for goodness sake you would think conference final officials wouldn't fall for this sort of stuff.

Dwyane Wade will never have a more open three than the one he took as the final seconds of overtime ticked off the clock. But it clanked off the rim and the Celtics survived.

The star of the weekend was Kevin Durant. The Oklahoma City forward would not let his team lose the Saturday evening contest that ended with the Thunder on top of the Spurs 109-103.

Just as he had at last year's World Basketball Championship in Turkey, Durant absolutely took over down the stretch of a game his team had to have. He scored 16 straight points in the fourth quarter on an array of intermediate jump shots interspersed with a few shots at the rim. He finished with an awesome 36 points.

Just about all of his buckets were required because the Spurs were just about scoring at will at the other end. It has never seemed as though Oklahoma City has played championship defense, but if they keep putting up points like this maybe they can become the first NBA team in just about forever to score its way to a championship.

But the favorites are still the heavy favorites. The Heat have home court advantage and almost certainly have Chris Bosh coming back in Game 5 on Tuesday night. Rondo appeared to run out of gas in the second half for Boston. He has been playing ridiculous minutes and unless he can come up with two more super-human performances in the next three games, the Celtics will bow out.

As for the Thunder, they barely competed in San Antonio in the series' first two games. And that is where two of the final three (if necessary) will be played. But with Durant on your side, well, let's just say I'm very much looking forward to tonight's Game 5.

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Jim "Coach" Coffman welcomes your comments.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 11:29 AM | Permalink

This Just In: Darwin Barney Is Adequate

Okay. So, if you are reading this right now, you probably read last week in The Second Basemen Report that I said that Darwin Barney "should never be starting on a major league roster."

So, first, what I said kinda makes no sense because he should never be starting, or never be on a major league roster - it should be one or the other, right? But my point pretty much was, he shouldn't be a consistent starter.

But then we have to go out to San Francisco and see that Ryan Theriot is the starter at second for the Giants. And on top of that, Barney went out and had a really solid week at the plate - even more solid when you think about how bad the Cubs are at hitting.

Which made me think: I might be wrong.

Darwin Barney might actually be a starting second baseman. If you look at the first years as starters of both Theriot and Barney you see that they are close to the same player - except that Barney was 25 when he got his first crack at starting and Theriot was 27.

In their first seasons, Barney notched a .666 OPS to Theriot's .672. Theriot stole a bunch more bases, but their WAR were the same at 1.5.

My point is not to throw stats at you but to show that, truly, Darwin Barney is actually a starting second baseman on a major league team.

Which is not to say that Darwin Barney is good, but more to say that there are at least a bunch of starting second basemen who are just as bad as he is.

Week in Review: The Cubs went 3-3 for the week sweeping the Padres at home and losing three to the Giants on the road. In two of their three wins, the Cubs scored eight and 11 runs. So my theory holds: They never lose when they score eight runs or more.

The Week in Preview: The Cubs stay in San Fran for one more with the Giants and try to avoid the four-game sweep. Then they head over to Miller Park for three with the Brewers and up to Minny for three against the Twins. If nothing else, Len and Bob will talk a bit about Target Field in Minny. And these days it's the little things you look forward to.

The Second Basemen Report: Darwin Barney got the nod in all six games this week. I will still say that I'm not wrong that Barney shouldn't be a starting second baseman, but apparently it's really hard to find 30 or so people in the world capable of being better than he is. It's crazy, but that's just how the ghost of Jim Hendry would have drawn it up.

In former second basemen news, Mickey Morandini - once known as the nifty little gloveman - is now being the angry little manager for the single-A Lakewood Blue Claws in the Phillie system. He is missed.

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Crazy Corners: The bloom is a bit off the rose for Brian LaHR but the guy is still riding a five-game hit streak - even though he's not in there against lefties too much these days. Three games each for Super Joe Mather and Ian Stewart this week at third. Should be fun to see who wins the job. And when I say should be fun, I mean probably nauseating to see one guy be just barely better than the other.

Weekly Bunting Report: The Cubs love to friggin' bunt. Reed Johnson had a sweet bunt single on Sunday. Bunting really is a part of the offense on this team. And the offense is offensive.

The Zam Bomb: Big Z had two wins this week as well as a homer at the plate for the Marlins. No one is better when things are going well, and that makes Big Z Apologetic.

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Endorsement No-Brainer: Alfonso Soriano for meat cleavers. Because this guy is still a butcher.

Ameritrade Stock Pick of the Week: Shares of pencils traded higher this week as the Cub prepare for the amateur draft this week. They sharpened the hell out of those pencils. They can't F up this draft, or the next or, or the next one, or, well, you get the idea.

Sink or Sveum: 42% Analytical, 58% Emotional. Sveum drops another four points on the Dale-O-Meter this week due to playing the old guys and still losing. On a scale of Bat Sh#t Crazy(Charles Manson), Not All There (random guy with a neck tattoo), Thinking Clearly (Jordi LaForge) and Non-Emotional Robot (Data), Dale is really filling up his neck with ink this week.

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And just like your thought to be level-headed uncle, Dale knows the family volleyball game is just for fun and really about the kids, but he's telling the bigger cousins to hit the ball every time because Uncle Earl is just talking too much smack and losing get old.

Over/Under: The number of walk-off homers Darwin Barney will have for the rest of his career: +/- .5.

Don't Hassle the Hoff Looks like Micah Hoffpauir has nine of these "背番号." Is that a hassle? I don't know.

Beachwood Sabermetrics: A complex algorithm performed by The Cub Factor staff using all historical data made available by Major League Baseball has determined that I really can't believe the world is not capable of creating a few better second basemen.

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

The White Sox Report: Know the enemy.

Fantasy Fix: Dual Diagnosis.

Swings Both Ways: Cheap Sweep.

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Contact The Cub Factor!

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 11:01 AM | Permalink

The Ghosts Of Birmingham

History hangs in the air the same way that the kudzu hugs the trees. Sitting in the first base grandstand, I closed my eyes for a few moments last Wednesday afternoon and tried to visualize Satchel Paige standing on the mound as a 20-year-old rookie in 1927. If that sounds somewhat peculiar, blame it on Rickwood Field.

Billed as the oldest ballpark in America, Rickwood's turnstiles first spun in 1910. Its rich tradition and history are a part of Birmingham, Alabama, where the steel and iron industries highlighted its early economy and where the civil rights movement gained a foothold, signaling genuine change in America.

For the past 17 years, the Birmingham Barons, the White Sox' Double-A affiliate, have staged the Rickwood Classic, a regular Southern League contest characterized by vintage uniforms, brass bands, and a few thousand fans - the announced crowd Wednesday was 7,180 - eager to hold onto and honor the past.

P1000666.JPG"I've played here since 2009, and just coming into Birmingham, you can just feel the history," said Barons pitcher Henry Mabee. "We're in the clubhouse, and it's like a museum. Walking on the field, you can see [the history]."

Mabee has a point. The outfield fence is decorated with advertising from the 1930s and 40s. The scoreboard has been restored, listing teams like the Little Rock Travelers, New Orleans Pelicans, Brooklyn Dodgers and New York Giants. Imposing light towers, added in 1936, overhang the roof along the baselines.

Willie Mays, who played for the Negro League Black Barons in 1948, grew up nearby. Satchel pitched at Rickwood for parts of four seasons as a member of the Black Barons. Babe Ruth slammed a long home run over the right field wall as the Yankees played their way north from spring training. And Reggie Jackson's final minor league layover in 1967 came at Rickwood as a member of the Birmingham A's. Teammates included Rollie Fingers, Tony LaRussa, Dave Duncan, and Joe Rudi.

One criticism of today's ballplayers is their lack of interest and knowledge about the history of the game. However, my wife Judy and I found Mabee mingling among the fans bent over the table of silent auction items about 45 minutes before the first pitch last week. His focus was on an autographed photo of Andre Dawson. Mabee, a Canadian from British Columbia who is having a stellar year with an ERA under 1.00, explained that his mother always admired Dawson, and he wanted to give her a belated Mother's Day gift.

He was persistent. After his initial bid was topped, Henry returned and eventually got the photo for $75. Mom had to be pleased.

Mabee and his teammates, who dropped a 7-6 decision to the Chattanooga Lookouts (a Dodger affiliate), obviously represent today's link to Rickwood. But they were easily outnumbered by representatives from the past.

Throwing out one of the ceremonial first pitches - former Atlanta star Dale Murphy was advertised as the main attraction - was 87-year-old Rev. William H. Greason. Years ago he was plain, old Bill Greason, pitcher for the Black Barons in 1948 and later with the St. Louis Cardinals. In fact, Greason was the second African-American signed by St. Louis - first baseman Tom Alston was the first - and he appeared in three games in 1954. All this occurred after he served in an all-black Marine unit that experienced combat on Iwo Jima.
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"Did you play with Satchel Paige?" I asked.

"I played against him," Greason said. "I was with the Rochester Red Wings, and he was with the Miami Marlins."

The year was 1956 in the International League when Satch was 49 and Greason was 32. According to Rev. Greason, Satchel beat him 2-1.

"He was a tall fella; he had a good arm and he had unusual control," Greason said. "He didn't have no breaking stuff. He just had a good fastball and pinpoint control. He could throw that ball wherever he wanted. He was just a great pitcher, one of the best I've ever seen."

Greason's memories of playing at Rickwood are just as poignant.

"Every Sunday we played here, the house was packed," he told me, adding that the deepest part of the outfield was roped off to accommodate standing-room-only fans.

Most, but not all, of the spectators were African-American.

"Over there in right field they had stands," he said, pointing toward the foul pole. "When the whites played, that's where the blacks sat, and when the blacks played, that's where the whites sat. It didn't bother us."

Baseball in Birmingham in the 1940s was the only game in town. Rickwood's capacity is 10,800, and the 1948 Barons drew 445,000 fans, which was 110,000 more than the American League's St. Louis Browns.

Tom Russell, who was sitting in the row in front of us, remembered that season. "There were eight, 10, 12 thousand a game" he recalled. "Those were the days when they had street cars lined up bumper-to-bumper [in the street]."

Echoing Greason, Russell mentioned how fans stood in the outfield to view the games, especially the Dixie Series featuring the champions of the Southern Association and the Texas League. He also talked about a Birmingham clothier who offered a new suit for every Baron home run.

"Walt Dropo got about 37 suits," laughed Russell. In reality, Dropo clubbed 14 round-trippers in 1948 and later was Rookie of the Year with the Red Sox in 1951 before playing for the White Sox in 1955-58.

"Television and the comforts of air conditioning" signaled the beginning of the end of capacity crowds, according to Russell, and segregated seating at Rickwood also fell by the wayside as Jim Crow began to take a beating.

"It wasn't until Billy Graham came here with a crusade that there was mixed [seating]," he said.

We also made the acquaintance of Dean Self, who was sitting to Russell's left. A missionary who spent 20 years in Bolivia, Self now ministers to a segment of Alabama's 300,000 Latinos, including eight who play for the Barons. He serves as the team's chaplain for Spanish-speaking players.

"My daddy brought me here [to Rickwood] when I was six," he said. Once he returned from Bolivia eight years ago, Self quickly resumed attending Barons games. He had nice things to say about the current crop of players, including the day's starting pitcher Nestor Molina, the 23-year-old Venezuelan whom the Sox obtained in the Sergio Santos trade with Toronto.

"He goes to church every Sunday," said Self as we watched Molina pitch into the sixth inning, yielding four runs while striking out six. When the kid missed his spots, he got hit. When he had command, the other guys were swinging and missing.

The pitcher who was most impressive was Dominican reliever Santos Rodriguez, 24, who came to the Sox from Atlanta with Tyler Flowers and Brent Lillibridge in 2008 in exchange for Javi Vasquez and Boone Logan. The 6-5 left-hander pitched the ninth inning, displaying a live fastball as he struck out two of the three men he faced.

Outfielder Kenny Williams Jr. led the Barons' attack with two line drive singles, driving in three runs. First-round draft choice (2009) Jared Mitchell had a rough day, going 0-for-4, while promising infielder Tyler Saladino looked good in the field while collecting a couple of hits.

However, the day belonged to grand, old Rickwood - its steel girders and concrete steps - along with the people who grew up watching baseball played in a pure, unspoiled setting. "The people here know the game," mused Henry Mabee. "You get a feeling for it right away."

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Photos by Roger Wallenstein.

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

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:57 AM | Permalink

ProPublica: The Best Watchdog Journalism on Obama's National Security Policies

Inspired by the New York Times' expose on Obama's "secret 'kill list,'" we collected some of the best pieces of watchdog journalism on Obama's national security policies.

For a good introduction, and to see how they've evolved since Bush, see our timeline.

One of our resident national security experts, Dafna Linzer, helped curate this list. If we missed any, please let us know by e-mailing MuckReads@ProPublica.org.

ON OBAMA'S WAR ON TERROR:

Getting Bin Laden, New Yorker, August 2011

Twenty-three Navy SEALs, one Pakistani-American translator and a dog named Cairo: Nicholas Schmidle's gripping narrative brings to life the night they killed Bin Laden, as well as the hunt that led to the end of the man Obama had dubbed a top national security priority.

ProPublica reporter Dafna Linzer also recommended this Time article (paywalled) as a seminal piece on the hunt for Bin Laden.

Secret 'Kill List' Proves a Test of Obama's Principles and Will, New York Times, May 2012

Obama's hands-on counterterrorism record means that he, in effect, is "personally overseeing the shadow war with al-Qaeda." But some officials criticize his tactics - like a formula for counting civilian deaths that may significantly lower the actual numbers.

ON DRONES:

Inside the Killing Machine, Newsweek, February 2011

In 2011, at the time of this article's writing, the American public knew the military used drones to kill suspected terrorists. But the formal process of deciding who should be hunted and killed had never been reported - until Tara McKelvey snagged an exclusive interview with a man at the CIA who approved these "lethal operations."

The Rise of the Killer Drones: How America Goes to War in Secret, Rolling Stone, April 2012

In war, soldiers used to have to point a gun at the enemy to kill. Today, they simply have to push a button from a station on their base, what some say is like playing a video games. This piece is one of the most in-depth looks we found on the rise of the U.S. drone program, and how it's changed the way we fight.

And for everything else you ever wanted to know about drones, see our guide.

CIA Shifts Focus to Killing Targets, The Washington Post, August 2011

The number of employees at the CIA's Counterterrorism Center has ballooned from 300 in 2001 to about 2,000 in 2011, representing a fundamental shift in the agency's focus: from gathering intelligence to operations meant to locate, target and capture or kill.

ON CYBERSECURITY:

Cyber-Intruder Sparks Massive Federal Response - And Debate Over Dealing With Threats, Washington Post, December 2011

The military discovered in 2008 that malware, borne on somebody's thumb-drive, had infiltrated their classified network. The resulting investigation set off a battle over the rules of engagement for cyberwarfare, finally restricting the military to defending its own networks and not crossing into civilian or other federal agencies' turf.

[See also: Obama Ordered Wave Of Cyberattacks Against Iran.]

ON INTELLIGENCE:

Top Secret America: A Hidden World, Growing Beyond Control, Washington Post, July 2010

Since September 11th, the United States' intelligence operations have ballooned. An estimated 854,000 people hold top-security clearances, nearly 1.5 times as many people as live in Washington D.C., and comprise part of a network so sprawling that it's sometimes hard for top officials to keep track of it all.

The NSA Is Building the Country's Biggest Spy Center (Watch What You Say), Wired, March 2012

The National Security Agency's under-construction data center in Utah (dubbed, aptly, the Utah Data Center) will cost $2 billion and sprawl over 1 million square feet, more than five times the size of the U.S. Capitol. When it's done, slated for September 2013, it will be "the country's biggest spy center." And part of its duties may be to monitor your personal data.

ON PROSECUTING LEAKS:

The Secret Sharer, New Yorker, May 2011

Though Obama trumpeted the value of whistleblowers when he entered office, he's also launched an aggressive crackdown on government leaks. The case of Thomas Drake, a former senior executive at the National Security Agency, is a prime example of the tension between whistle-blowers who reveal wrongdoing and leaks that jeopardize national security.

Sealing Loose Lips: Obama's Crackdown on Leaks, ProPublica, March 2012

Our timeline of leak prosecutions under the Espionage Act - and how they've picked up steam under Obama.

ON THE MIDDLE EAST AND AFGHANISTAN:

In Yemen, U.S. Airstrikes Breed Anger, and Sympathy for al-Qaeda, Washington Post, May 2012

The Obama administration has escalated airstrikes in Yemen against high-ranking al-Qaeda leaders, but is it an effective military strategy in the long run? This article describes the backlash in Yemen against civilian deaths and what's seen as an incursion on their sovereignty.

U.S. Not Reporting All Afghan Attacks, The Associated Press, April 2012

An AP exclusive found the military doesn't report non-fatal attacks on coalition troops by Afghan policemen and soldiers, even though the incidents are an important indication of the level of mistrust between Afghan and coalition troops. A military spokesman says this is due to differences in policy between coalition governments on reporting attacks.

2 Top Lawyers Lost to Obama in Libya War Policy Debate, New York Times, June 2011

Obama rejected the views of top Pentagon and Justice Department lawyers when he decided to continue America's role in the air war in Libya without congressional authorization - a legal, but "extraordinarily rare" move. According to Dafna, this is one of the most significant national security stories of Obama's presidency, having "more to do with war power and executive authority than anything else."

Congratulations, you finished! Now test your knowledge by taking our quiz: Obama vs. Bush on National Security.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:05 AM | Permalink

June 2, 2012

The [Monday] Papers

I'm so hopelessly behind for about 50 different reasons that I'm just going to have to go ahead and skip the column today. But here's some other goodies we have:

* This Just In: Darwin Barney Is Adequate. Apparently it's really hard to find 30 or so people in the world capable of being better than he is. In The Cub Factor.

* A special White Sox Report is in but I haven't finished preparing the photos yet. Look for it later today, tonight or tomorrow morning at the latest.

* Pro Publica's Best Watchdog Journalism On Obama's National Security Policies. Worse than Bush.

* Introducing The Oak Park Sculpture Walk. First ever.

* The Week in Chicago Rock. Beyond Do Division.

* SportsMonday: Even Up, Deuces Wild. But the favorites are still the heavy favorites.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Jacks or better.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 4:09 PM | Permalink

The Weekend Desk Report

You know what? Totally worth the risk.

Market Update
See? See what happens when you peg the markets to unstable entities like actual people?! Much tidier to focus on the solid foundation of profit.

Recount
So it turns out that quantities over 80 million are really difficult to count. Maybe they should break it out into 2- or 3-unit increments; that adds up pretty quick.

Chicago Elevated
Do you think, when the CTA get its shiny new buses, they'll throw in a fancy bus elevator?

Memorial Day's Over
Thank goodness these women are allowed to risk their lives defending our freedom, huh?

Trumped
Sure you could dismiss this idea as the craven sell-out it is, but else is the CTA going to get Trump to back them?

Earhartless
Finally this week, the answer is no.

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The Weekend Desk Tip Line: Kill listless.

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The Flying Saucer Weekend Brunch Report: Peachy and potato pancakey.

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The Sound Opinions Weekend Listening Report: "The aptly named punk trio Screaming Females visit the studio. Plus Jim and Greg explore Alan Lomax's online archive of roots music."

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

Perspectivas Latinas: National Latino Education Institute

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Executive Director Elba Aranda-Suh highlights its efforts to provide job training to the Latino community in a wide range of areas, from computer technology to health.

Saturday, June 2 at 8 p.m. on CAN TV21
30 min

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The Curated Experience: We Don't Need No Stinking Critics . . . Or Do We?

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Author and music critic Jim DeRogatis engages in a lively discussion of the music scene and the usefulness of music criticism in the digital age.

Saturday, June 2 at 10 p.m. on CAN TV21
1 hr 30 min

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Zona Abierta Aqui y Alla (Open Zone, Here & There): Art, Identity, and Flight 587 Memorial

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Artist Freddy Rodríguez explores how his identity as a Latino and an immigrant informed his art and development as a visual artist.

Sunday, June 3 at 9 a.m. on CAN TV21
1 hr 10 min

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Wealth Inequality, Economic Justice, and the Occupy Movement

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Author Chuck Collins connects growing inequality in today's society with the emergence of the Occupy Movement and its mantra of "We are the 99%."

Sunday, June 3 at 10:30 a.m. on CAN TV21
2 hr

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Dust in Their Veins: A Visual Response to the Global Water Crisis

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Chicago artist Candace Hunter and James Parker discuss "Dust in Their Veins," a mixed-media art installation that sheds light on the plight of women and children who have no access to clean water.

Watch Online

Sunday, June 3 at 12:30 p.m. on CAN TV21
30 min

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Gang Culture Awareness Conference: Dialogues with the Youth of the Next Generation

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The Illinois NAACP Youth & College Committee hosts a conversation about gang culture and violence prevention in Chicago 's neighborhoods.

Sunday, June 3 at 1 p.m. on CAN TV21
3 hr

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Take Back Chicago Rally

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As the Chicago Mercantile Exchange holds its annual shareholder meeting, protesters call for tax dollars to be spent on community programs instead of subsidizing the CME.

Sunday, June 3 at 5 p.m. on CAN TV19
1 hr 30 min

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Community Rally to Show Impact of Medicaid Cuts

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Workers, community leaders and healthcare advocates protest the impact of proposed cuts to Medicaid.

Sunday, June 3 at 6:30 p.m. on CAN TV19
30 min


Posted by Natasha Julius at 9:47 AM | Permalink

June 1, 2012

The [Friday] Papers

"State lawmakers spent the final day of the spring session failing to act on the crucial issue of pension reform, instead approving a major gambling expansion that wasn't at the top of the agenda," the Tribune reports.

Here's what it looked like.


"The gambling expansion would authorize Mayor Rahm Emanuel's city-owned casino in Chicago along with new casinos in the south suburbs, north suburban Park City, Rockford and Danville, as well as slots at horse tracks."

Governor Pat Quinn opposes the bill, which passed six votes short of being veto-proof. Which doesn't mean six votes can't be found. Just add more cups.

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"John Schomberg, Quinn's general counsel, told the Senate Executive Committee that revenue estimates were overstated."

Probably done by Deloitte. Can't wait to see their Super Bowl study. Just add more balls.

Kirk Perk
"U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk was a leading sponsor of congressional legislation that has meant $5.3 million for two clients of his onetime girlfriend, and he is backing another bill that could bring millions of dollars to a third group she represented," the Tribune reports.

Ruh-roh.

"Kirk supported bills directing the Treasury Department to mint and sell collectible coins, with a surcharge for three nonprofit groups - all of which had hired Arcadian Partners, a public relations firm led by Dodie McCracken, Kirk's ex-girlfriend and former congressional staffer."

Vs. John Edwards. Just sayin'.

"Kirk, 52, who suffered a stroke Jan. 21, declined to be interviewed about the coin legislation. Instead, his staff asked for written questions and answered them in writing."

Why, did they suffer strokes too?

"Eric Elk, Kirk's chief of staff, told the Tribune that any suggestion Kirk was trying to help his onetime girlfriend was 'a baseless and unfounded allegation.'"

They probably didn't even talk about it!

Hey honey, how was the Senate today?"

Oh, just the usual. Introduced a bill. Nothing you'd be interested in.

*

"[Elk] downplayed Kirk's role in backing the coin legislation, noting that the disabled veterans bill passed the House 416-0 and the Medal of Honor bill passed on a voice vote."

Which is both irrelevant and disingenuous:

"Kirk had characterized himself as a key player when he spoke on the House floor before votes on the two bills. He called the disabled veterans' bill the 'Moore-Kirk bill,' a reference to himself and then-Rep. Dennis Moore, D-Kan., and said the two of them 'worked many weeks' to find more than 290 co-sponsors."

And while Elk is "downplaying" Kirk's role in the legislation now, the Tribune notes that "Kirk, in his final speech on the House floor in November 2010 before entering the Senate, cited the disabled veterans coin act as one of his achievements."

*

The backdrop:

"The Tribune reported this week that McCracken received more than $143,000 in consulting fees and expenses for working on Kirk's 2010 Senate campaign, but that she was not listed as a recipient in federal disclosure reports because she was a subcontractor to a firm the campaign hired for advertising. The Federal Election Commission is reviewing the payments after Kirk's ex-wife, Kimberly Vertolli, complained that Kirk may have purposely hidden the payments to McCracken - an allegation he disputes."

(Link mine.)

Flyover Country
"An influential alderman warned Metra's executive director on Thursday that 'people are going to get hurt' if the commuter rail agency fails to bolster minority participation on a $133 million South Side railroad bridge known as the Englewood Flyover," the Sun-Times reports.

"Earlier this year, the Chicago Sun-Times reported that U.S. Rep. Bobby Rush (D-Chicago) was threatening to stop Metra 'in its tracks' unless black contractors get a piece of the pie."

(Link mine.)

Lab Schools
"Mayor Rahm Emanuel's star power within the Democratic Party has put a national spotlight on the fight over the future of public schools in Chicago and attracted support from education reform groups eager to see how much change can be effected in a pro-labor city," the Tribune reports.

"'The headlines from Chicago are emailed around to mayors and policymakers every morning,' said Joe Williams, head of Washington,D.C.-based Democrats for Education Reform, a group started by Wall Street hedge fund managers."

I hope that includes this dispatch:

*

Also, let's make a deal: We'll all start listening to hedge fund managers' ideas for education reform when they start listening to teachers' ideas for hedge fund reform.

Another Ball 'N Cup
While you weren't looking.

Casting Calls
End Zones And Bibles.

The Week In Chicago Rock
Including the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Poi Dog Pondering and Kelly Hogan.

Bacon Fat And Buttermilk
My Mind Is Like A Rhododendron.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Mind-blowing.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:37 AM | Permalink

The Week in Chicago Rock

You shoulda been there.

1. Brother George at Schubas on Sunday night.


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2. Red Hot Chili Peppers in Rosemont on Monday night.

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3. Poi Dog Pondering at the Double Door on Sunday night.

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4. Kelly Hogan at Millennium Park on Monday.

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5. The Early November at the Metro on Tuesday night.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:32 AM | Permalink

MUSIC - Christgau Loves Chicago Neonatologist.
TV - Amazon & The Way Of The World.
POLITICS - Yes On Vouchers For After-School Programs.
SPORTS - The Ex-Cub Factor.

BOOKS - Writers Under Surveillance.

PEOPLE PLACES & THINGS - Original Warrior.


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