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August 31, 2012

The College Football Report: Ridin' Dirty feat. The Mercury Grand Marquis w/Kristen Saban

Welcome to another season of The College Football Report, featuring once again contributions from the Beachwood Sports Seal, the College Football Report Free Range Chicken, and other crackerjack members of the CFR staff.

The Saturday kick-off to the season is upon us, bracketed by Navy vs. Notre Dame (played in Dublin, Ireland) at 8 a.m. and #8 Michigan visiting #2 Alabama at 7 p.m. We do not recommend you fill any of the eleven hours with drinking games. Remember, it's a marathon, not a sprint. Kristen Saban would agree.

We have been diligently tracking some of the hottest stories in the sport during the offseason. To get caught up, see below. Remember, dear reader, we are here for you.

Ridin' Dirty, Grand Marquis Edition
The 2012 offseason saw the usual number of reprimands, suspensions, and dismissals from major college football programs. Take a lil' ol' incident in Athens, Georgia in June when police stopped sophomore Isaiah Crowell's 2005 Mercury Grand Marquis at a roadblock, discovering: an odor of marijuana, four other Georgia Bulldogs, and a 9mm Luger.

Crowell, the nation's top-rated running back prospect in 2011, was dismissed from the team after he was booked on three weapons charges.

Now he's seeking a fresh start at Alabama State. University, not Prison.

In another case a few weeks later, the Georgia State Patrol stopped Florida State cornerback Greg Reid for "window tint and seat belt violations" and, after searching Reid's 2000 Mercury Grand Marquis, Trooper Gordy Wright "suspected a marijuana joint was in the cup holder."

Both Reid and Crowell are also facing charges of driving a Mercury Grand Marquis in Georgia while black.

Bold Prediction
Savannah State University Will Shock #19 Oklahoma State on Saturday.

Well, maybe not. The Tigers have a much cooler logo but the Cowboys will probably win the game by 50.

Uni Watch
New Vanderbilt Kit Features A Surprised Toddler Affixed to the Helmet.

Head Coach Earning $850,000 Declares Bankruptcy
From the Schadenfreude File: New Arkansas football coach John L. Smith may declare bankruptcy resulting from a failed real estate venture.

Many Americans can identify with the situation Smith found himself in: "At that point, the bank was willing to give away money. We got in over our head with land, and then the bubble burst and all this land value dropped and we couldn't sustain it."

Although in Smith's case, the bank isn't foreclosing on the family home - more likely one of the subdivisions he owns.

And instead of taking two or three part-time jobs, Smith reneged on his coaching position at Weber State after only four months on the job, solicited Arkansas for their suddenly vacant head coach spot following the Bobby Petrino scandal, and accepted an offer for a 10-month contract at $850,000.

Our heart bleeds for you, JL.

Sadly, No Pillows Were Harmed
An innocent night of Power Hour ended in tragedy in July when Kristen Saban, daughter of the head coach at national champion Alabama, allegedly administered a beat-down on one of her sorority sisters in a confrontation over a Facebook post.

Kristen doesn't look too threatening, too threatening, but Saban reportedly slammed her sister's head into a door, pulled her hair, and punched her "multiple times in the head and nose" after a night out in Tuscaloosa.

We have two comments:

First, the guys at Business Insider (not surprisingly) don't know how to execute a proper Power Hour. As any drinking-game aficionado knows, you drink a shot of beer every minute for an hour, not "every time the song changes."

Second, whatever happened to sorority sisters getting into pillow fights in only their underwear? Yet another instance of how Facebook is ruining our lives.

Nike's Phil Knight Donates $68 Million to Build Oregon's New Football Operations Center
The new facility will feature all the latest modern amenities, including hot tubs for the coaching staff.

Also: "[C]oaches will have a private hot tub and steam room, each with a waterproofed video center, next to their locker room, so they can watch games while taking a soak."

Now that is multitasking.

The Game Will Be Followed by the Carrot and Celery Stick Parade
The former Copper-turned-Insight.com-turned-Insight Bowl has accepted a new sponsor and will now be known as the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl.

During pregame of the inaugural BWWB, we hope the commentators clear up a long-standing debate: Which is better, the little legbone piece, the drumstick, or the actual wing part?

Also: Blue cheese or ranch?

Finally: Does it make sense to refer to the renamed bowl as the 24th Annual Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl?

We say no, at least in part because we suspect an overwhelming majority of sports fans would have no idea about the BWWB if asked.

In fact, we suspect they would assume you were asking about some sort of delicious new concoction from Kentucky Fried Chicken, proud home of the Chicken & Biscuit Bowl.

Mmmm, a dish of chicken meat, mashed potatoes and cheese, drizzled with the new Wild Buffalo Ranch sauce. We can almost taste it already.

"He Did Admit the Pattern Made his Head Hurt"
The text for that header appears in Tim Barker's July column for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch about the two-tone barber pole-style turf installed for the new football stadium at Lindenwood University-Belleville.

The Lynx's new field is part of a $2.3 million renovation program for the university. The Lynx are competing in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) for the first time this season and the field represents Lindenwood's new "branding effort."

Some 258 small (tiny, downright little bitty, in some cases) institutions belong to the NAIA and Lindenwood seems to feel a need to distinguish themselves from the likes of Dickinson State, MidAmerica Nazarene and Valley City State.

To compete with these football powerhouses, much less vie for the NAIA championship, Lindenwood will need to appeal to some of the country's top (hopefully, color-blind) athletes.

The NAIA championship has a proud history dating back to the first Aluminum Bowl in 1956.

Last year, the Saint Xavier (IL) Cougars defeated the Carroll College (from Helena, Montana) Fighting Saints, 24-20 for the Russell Athletic-NAIA Football National Championship and took home the cumbersome RA-NAIAFNC Trophy. (Note: we made up the name of the trophy. We aren't really sure if it has a name, in fact.)

The 2012 game will have to be truly riveting to match the excitement from last year, but we doubt anything will surpass the hotly contested game in '56 which pitted Montana State against St. Joseph's (Indiana) and ended in a scoreless tie.

For a rundown of the remaining match-ups this weekend, we recommend that you check this out. We appreciate the brevity as well as the subtle references to gambling. But we ignored all the gibberish at the end, so consider this a lukewarm recommendation.

Come back next week for an update on all the action we care to talk about from Week One.

-

Mike Luce is our man in college football land. He welcomes your comments.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 3:40 PM | Permalink

The World Of Mathematica

"Mathematica: A World of Numbers . . . and Beyond is an interactive exhibition originally shown at the California Museum of Science and Industry," according to Wikipedia. Duplicates have since been made, and they (as well as the original) have been moved to other institutions."

Including the Museum of Science and Industry here in Chicago.


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"In November, 1961 a duplicate was made for Chicago's Museum of Science and Industry, where it was shown until late 1980. From there it moved to the Museum of Science, Boston, where it is currently on display."

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See also: The PersonalPicker YouTube channel.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:29 AM | Permalink

Off The Grid In 1979

"This 1979 WMAQ-TV (NBC Chicago) news segment was located on a dusty Betamax tape. It profiles a visionary family and their experience going 'off the grid' at a time when that phrase did not yet exist and the concept was almost unknown."


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Assignment Desk: Find this family today!

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TheMotiondevotion YouTube channel.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:18 AM | Permalink

Underground Talent: A Documentary About Chicago Subway Performers

For love and money.


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See also: More from Segatron Media.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:09 AM | Permalink

Local Sports Notebook: Lame, Lamer And Lamest

It's hard to tell right now which of our local franchises is the lamest. Here are the contestants:

The White Sox: "The White Sox have struggled to fill the seats this season and the team's latest move finally embraces a real (but painful) solution: cheaper tickets," Crain's reports.

"The Sox announced Tuesday that they'll offer discount tickets throughout the next three home stands (Twins, Royals and a critical four-game stint with the Tigers). That includes two 'Value Mondays' on Sept. 3 and 10, when upper-deck seats will start at $7 (normally $16) and lower-level seats at $17 (normally in the high 30s)."

The White Sox hold a three-game lead over the Tigers in the AL Central. So how lame is that?

The Cubs: Theoball is here. The fundamentals. Playing the game right. Grinding out at-bats. The Cubs rank 24th (out of 30) in fielding percentage and 29th in on-base percentage. And Alfonso Soriano is still the starting left-fielder.

At least the kids are here, though.

"Brett Jackson and Josh Vitters were brought up from Triple-A Iowa on Aug. 5 so the Chicago Cubs could get a long look at the two first-round draft picks," the Tribune reports. "Both have struggled, but Vitters' inability to solve major league pitching has earned him a seat on the bench.

"Manager Dale Sveum said he would play Luis Valbuena more at third base in the final five weeks of the season."

Valbuena? He's hitting .222 an OBP of .309. So yeah, how lame is that?

The Bears: They won't accept casino ads because gambling doesn't fit with the family values exhibited by free agent signee Brandon Marshall.

Now they've unveiled a new marketing campaign built around slogans like "It's Crueler by the Lake."

How lame is that?

The Bulls: Billy Dec judges Luvabulls tryouts. We think we have a winner.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:42 AM | Permalink

The [Friday] Papers

"Education and business leaders have told Chicago Public Schools CEO Jean-Claude Brizard that he'll be blamed by the mayor for the city ending up on the brink of a teachers strike and he may be on his way out, a high-ranking education source told the Tribune," the paper reports.

"Several sources said Mayor Rahm Emanuel is frustrated with Brizard and could let him go - potentially as soon as a contract agreement with teachers is reached."

I started hearing from sources last spring that Brizard wouldn't last the year. To put it bluntly, he's been a disaster - though his boss the mayor deserves a fair share of the blame.

"This week, for the first time, it became clear to me that Brizard has to go," ace education newsletter writer Seth Lavin wrote in June. (He has since given up Chicago Schools Wonks.)

I thought a month ago that the big CPS leadership shake-up proved Rahm's disgust but that he had no choice but to keep Brizard around. Firing him in the first year would look too clumsy politically. The last month has changed my view. It's like Brizard's on another planet. Keeping him is actually worse, not just for the district but also for Rahm, than the pain of amputating him. It's insane that we've arrived here. For Rahm, firing Brizard essentially means raising a white flag on his entire first year of school reform. Yet that's actually become a less damaging alternative than the charade of acting like Brizard's relevant or speaks for CPS. I can't believe I'm saying this but it's the middle of the night and I've reached a point of clarity. Get rid of him. Do it soon. Mark it - I predict that one way or the other Brizard's gone in 12 months.

Emanuel spokeswoman Sarah Hamilton denied to the Tribune that Brizard is on his way out.

"That couldn't be further from the truth, the mayor has complete confidence in J.C.," she wrote in an e-mail.

Brizard, too, issued a statement - a bizarre one given the question at hand.

"I am a systems thinker, and I have a very hands-on approach to leading the district," Brizard wrote. "I remain focused on my work with the children of our city."

Okay, then.

"Brizard's management style was criticized by the Chicago Board of Education in his annual evaluation, a copy of which was obtained by the Tribune. The board gave Brizard low marks for the way he communicates and runs the district."

Which is what the teachers union and other administration critics have been saying. That puts Brizard in a box - alone.

"Brizard's introduction to Chicago foreshadowed some of the minefields that lay ahead. On the same day the mayor named Brizard, Emanuel unveiled a hand-picked cabinet for his new CEO. Since then, Brizard has been unable to escape questions about who is setting the education agenda.

"Supporters of the schools chief say he's been handcuffed by an administration intent on micromanaging. Brizard also has been increasingly isolated at district headquarters, several central office employees said."

Indeed, Rahm Emanuel is currently holding at least three jobs: mayor, schools superintendent, and police chief. Brizard deserves the criticism but right now is holding just one job: Fall guy.

Strike One
"One big stumbling block in negotiations is teacher recall," the Tribune editorial board writes. "The union wants teachers who are laid off to be first in line for new jobs. Principals would not be free to hire the best teachers they can find. How does that serve students? It does not."

Is that the case, or would the district hire the cheapest, most inexperienced teachers who would serve kids the worst? You'd think the Tribune editorial board would have some knowledge of this odd phenomena, given that it's been happening in America's newsrooms for years now.

Strike Two
"The Chicago Public Schools has asked the Illinois High School Association for permission to hold practices and allow students to participate in sporting events [should] teachers begin their strike Sept. 10," the Tribune reports.

Science teachers are also asking that they allowed to still hold classes.

Strike Three
The Tribune reaches all the way out to Maryland to find a commentator asking that Rahm Emanuel crush the teachers union like a bug.

But just who is Sean Kennedy and what is the Maryland Public Policy Institute where he is a visiting fellow?

Kennedy is a bit of a mystery, but the institute claims on one hand to be non-partisan but on the other "the state's leading conservative free-market policy organization."

Really, Tribune? Is this the best you can do?

Model Misbehavior
"After reviewing DNA tests, prosecutors say they are dismissing charges against a man who has been in prison since 1997 for a murder that occurred during a home invasion on the South Side," the Tribune reports.

"Alprentiss Nash, 37, was sentenced to 80 years for the death of Lion Stroud. According to prosecutors, Nash was wearing a black ski mask when he broke into Stroud's home in 1995. The mask was found near the crime scene, they said."

The Sun-Times thinks this makes Cook County State's Attorney Anita Alvarez a hero - and her office "A Model For Justice."

"All too often in the past, prosecutors have fought to preserve convictions at all costs, even in cases of extreme doubt. Alvarez's office is to be commended for taking a different approach.

"In recent years, awareness has grown of the alarming problem of wrongful convictions. In February, Alvarez set up the new unit to re-examine old cases where justice might have gone off the rails. The Nash case is the first one in which the unit's work helped to overturn a conviction."

Really?

From the Tribune:

"Cook County prosecutors opposed Nash's request for DNA testing on the ski mask, but the Illinois Appellate Court later ordered it. Testing was done on skin cells found on the mask, and the genetic profile was matched to an inmate who recently was paroled from prison after serving time for a drug conviction."

The Sun-Times says Alvarez's office did more extensive DNA testing than the defense asked for, but I think it's pretty safe to say that was done in an effort to show Nash was guilty, not as a model of justice.

Standard Standards
"Struggling retail chain Sears Holdings is getting knocked off the Standard & Poor's 500 index," AP reports.

Now they'll just be on the Poor Index.

*

Too easy?

GOP Convention Notebook 4
Romney, Clint & Rezko.

Franchise Agreement
Our Town Sports: Lame, Lamer & Lamest.

Underground Talent
A documentary about Chicago subway performers.

The Week in Chicago Rock
Perhaps the lamest.

Off The Grid In 1979
Update, please!

Mathematica
From Chicago to Boston.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Standards and poor.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:42 AM | Permalink

The Week in Chicago Rock

You shoulda been there.

1. Harvey Mandel and Canned Heat at SPACE on Thursday night.


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2. Lindsey Buckingham at the City Winery on Monday night.

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3. Sexfist at the Abbey on Tuesday night.

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4. Golden Bloom at Schubas on Tuesday night.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:40 AM | Permalink

GOP Convention Notebook 4

"'Hope and Change' had a powerful appeal," Mitt Romney said in his nomination acceptance speech last night.

"But tonight I'd ask a simple question: If you felt that excitement when you voted for Barack Obama, shouldn't you feel that way now that he's President Obama? You know there's something wrong with the kind of job he's done as president when the best feeling you had was the day you voted for him."

That's true. At least if Romney wins the election, we'll feel bad about him right away.

Fox And Bears
The Chicago Republican Party is mad that Fox 32 made a programming decision based on market imperatives.

*

"[T]he first three Bears preseason games have average a 12.7 local rating in the Chicago market, or about 440,000 Chicago homes tuning in per game.

"As one source told me, it is 'doubtful' that the 9 p.m. Romney address, which also airs locally on CBS, NBC, ABC, PBS and various cable channels, would pull in those kind of numbers on WFLD.

"'Our concern is that the thousands of people who would watch on Fox (locally) won't make the effort' to switch over to channel 50, said Chicago Republican Party spokesman Chris Cleveland."

If that's your concern, you've got bigger problems on your hands.

Clint's Stint
They loved the doddering old fool in February.

Righteous Rave
"Republicans in their national convention in Tampa set a pretty high bar for the Democrats for their gathering in Charlotte next week," conservative columnist Steve Huntley writes for the Sun-Times under the headline "Republican Convention Hard Act For Democrats To Follow."

How so? Jack Blades?

I've already forgotten everything else except Ann Romney's blazing red dress and Tim Pawlenty's new stand-up act. But I digress.

"The GOP program kept to the great issues of jobs, taxes, spending and entitlements at the core of the nation's economic malaise and stayed away from the character assassination tactics at the heart of Democratic strategy so far in this presidential race."

I agree that the heart of the Democratic strategy is to assassinate Romney's character, but the Republicans are still trying to assassinate Obama's birth certificate.

Rezko Rap
"The combative and blunt-speaking John Sununu woke up Illinois' GOP delegation on the final day of the Republican National Convention by tossing some major broadsides at President Barack Obama, even suggesting convicted influence-peddler Antoin 'Tony' Rezko could help the Democrat purchase a new home after a Nov. 6 defeat," the Tribune reports.

"Are there folks here from Chicago?" Sununu asked the delegation. "You ought to go into the real estate business because there's a guy who's got a lot of friends who are coming, that's coming back to look for a house next January. Maybe Tony Rezko can help him again."

Double Duped
Sun-Times columnist Mark Brown (D-Vanilla) respects both lying mofos.

Dude, you're doing it wrong in reverse.

Don't Fear The Reaper
Like Brown, I don't fear a Romney presidency - yet. I'm too busy fearing the president we have.

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See also:
* GOP Convention Notebook 1
* GOP Convention Notebook 2
* GOP Convention Notebook 3

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:38 AM | Permalink

August 30, 2012

The [Thursday] Papers

"A new report released [Wednesday] found little tracking or enforcement of taxpayer subsidized private development projects that had promised job creation," the Illinois Public Interest Research Group says.

"The analysis by the watchdog group Illinois PIRG comes one year after Mayor Emanuel's Tax Increment Financing (TIF) Reform Panel released recommendations for how to fix the wasteful economic development program and underscores the need to implement reform to protect taxpayers.

The findings show that among projects that promised to create the most jobs, there are unacceptably low levels of tracking and enforcement:

* Between 2000 and 2010, the City of Chicago spent more than $380 million dollars to create 32,396 jobs through Tax Increment Financing projects, but only 16,948 of those jobs were accounted for;

* 15 out of 21 projects with jobs covenants did not report meeting their jobs goals on an annual basis;

* 6 of those projects, on which the City spent over $129 million dollars, have no record of periodic monitoring or job creation at all.

"Illinois PIRG is calling on the Mayor to implement his Reform Panel's recommendations that would create a standard set of metrics to track the progress and measure success of TIF projects and review performance regularly.

"Mayor Emanuel has showed us a year ago that he is committed to TIF reform by creating this Panel, and their proposed reforms would move the city in the right direction," said Hailey Witt, Field Director for Illinois PIRG. "But it's not enough to have these ideas on paper. The City Council should step up and pass an ordinance that the Task Force recommendations must be put in place."

Other findings:

* Out of 21 projects with some kind of jobs goal, 15 (71 percent) did not provide annual evidence that the jobs goals were being met, but the city asked only two of the projects to give money back.

* Not a single project complies with the 2009 "Sunshine Ordinance" that requires posting of five major documents online; most projects provide less than half.

* A significant number of projects (19 percent) did not even have specific job-creation goals in their official agreements with the city.

Rahm Emanuel preaches an awful lot about accountability, but is he willing to point the microscope at himself?

Chicago Code
It's a bit patronizing for Rahm to continue pounding the notion to poor black folk living in the most violent gang territory that "helping isn't snitching."

It might be easier to swallow if, again, Rahm followed his own advice. It wouldn't be snitching, for example, but helping if Rahm would let us in on the answers to questions like these:

* How exactly did it come to be that Don Tomczak's illegal patronage troops ended up working on your behalf in the 2002 congressional race that launched your elective career?

* Who hired Angelo Torres? It wasn't on your watch, but we still deserve to know.

* Transparency is not snitching. Why won't you comply with FOIA requests?

* Why do you refuse to mention Richard M. Daley's name when criticizing the mistakes of the past? It wouldn't be snitching, you know. Just helping.

Study Hall
"Though city dwellers may feel a little crowded as they watch 45,000 runners brave the annual Bank of America Chicago Marathon, the runners and their families and entourages last year boosted the city's economy by $219.7 million - the most in the event's history - by staying in local hotels, shopping and sightseeing, ordering pre-race pasta dinners and otherwise being tourists, according to a report to be issued Wednesday," the Sun-Times reports.

Right. That's about as believable as that now-discredited NATO economic impact study.

"The Chicago Sun-Times is a media sponsor of the marathon."

Oh.

GOP Convention Notebook 3
Illinois Ignominy.

Jimmy Chamberlin Does Drums
Listening is the key.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Don't snitch, just help.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:43 AM | Permalink

Jimmy Chamberlin Drum Clinic

A great drummer is a great listener.


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Bonus material:

Studio Solo.

*

At Vic's Drum Shop.

*

Drumhead Selection & Solo.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:37 AM | Permalink

GOP Convention Notebook 3

"A gun was left unattended on Mitt Romney's charter plane by a member of the U.S. Secret Service on Wednesday as the GOP presidential nominee flew to Indiana for a campaign rally," the Los Angeles Times - and thus the Chicago Tribune - reports.

"During a flight from Tampa to Indianapolis, the weapon was discovered in the lavatory by a CBS News reporter, who alerted agents on the flight, according to an account posted on the television network's website."

Here's that unlinked report.

Bus Break
"Transportation is always an important factor in moving delegates from their hotel to the national convention center site, but it's of special concern to Illinois Republicans who are in Clearwater Beach, 30 miles away from the Tampa Bay Times Forum," the Tribune reports.

Worse, it was the first time on a bus for most of them.

More Illinois Ignominy
"When the Illinois delegates finally get to the convention hall, they take their seats behind Wisconsin," the Tribune editorializes. "More ignominy. You try peering over a cheesehead hat.

"Delegates from Michigan, Virginia, Ohio, Arizona and New Hampshire all have better vantage points than the Illinois crew does.

"Convention organizers carefully selected more than 70 speakers for this convention. There's the governor of New Jersey! There's the governor from New Mexico! There's the attorney general of Georgia! (Really? The attorney general of Georgia?)"

"Not one scheduled speaker hails from Illinois."

Media Meme
It's always up to the prospective first lady to "humanize" her husband, in large part because that's what the media demands. And she's always his "secret weapon." And he'll always joke about how she's more popular than he is. The columns have already been written. The punditry's been pre-taped. Mitt irons his own shirts! Obama eats a hot dog! Good job! Fake it for the cameras! End scene. Time to review the kill list.

*

FYI: Romney's jeans are better than Obama's.

*

See also: A Woman's Place Is In The Humanizing.

Optical Illusion
"Rep. Joe Walsh and Rep. Robert Dold, who each have their own pitched suburban battles, were no-shows," the Sun-Times reports.

"Dold, facing Democrat Brad Schneider, was expected to make the trip to the central Florida Gulf Coast to meet with Illinois delegates on Thursday. But Walsh, facing Democrat Tammy Duckworth, put out the word early that he saw no use in coming to the convention.

"A senior party leader said for targeted Republicans such as Dold, there is an 'optics problem' in joining others at a beachfront hotel in Clearwater. It could create potentially dangerous opportunities for Democrat operatives to catch them lounging poolside or wading in the Gulf of Mexico during what essentially is a partisan vacation."

Meanwhile, Schneider pledged that if elected he too would never be caught on camera lounging poolside at a quadrennial national political convention.

Race Card
At least we haven't become another Detroit.

Douche Card
Another scintillating Chicago Young Republicans report for RedEye.

Meme Pie
"Did you know his real first name is 'Willard?'" Laura Washington asks in the Sun-Times.

Did you know the president's first name is Barack? That the Dem nominee in 2004, richer than Romney by multitudes, was named John? That Bill Clinton's given name was William? What's it all mean?

"Keep the rabble-rousing right wing on the plantation."

Maybe in chains.

"Round up the women folk and a preppy black couple or two. You'll need some props to preempt the rainbow display of blacks, Asians, Latinos, LGBTQI's, Wal-Mart moms and the multitudinous other demographic slices the Democrats will roll out at their convention in Charlotte."

What's the difference? The Democrats are using them as props too.

Beard Awards
The Craigslist personals in Tampa.

Republican Rock
"Ted Nugent, the die-hard Republican rocker and outspoken id of the GOP, is off the road having his knees replaced, and Lynyrd Skynyrd's concert was bumped by Hurricane Isaac panic," the Wall Street Journal reports.

"But the soul band The Commodores will appear, as will blues group Blues Traveler and vintage rockers Big Head Todd and the Monsters and Journey."

*

Kid Rock, too.

*

And here's Jack Blades of Night Ranger, with G.E. Smith on guitar.

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See also:
* GOP Convention Notebook 1
* GOP Convention Notebook 2

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:14 AM | Permalink

August 29, 2012

The [Wednesday] Papers

"Additional gambling revenue is not the answer to Illinois' fiscal problems," the Northwest Herald writes. "It only will create more addicts, bankrupt more families, and open the state up to more organized crime."

It's really that simple. It's a really sad state of affairs when government turns to a business that preys on the most vulnerable among us and depends on duping the customer into playing games they can't win in order to raise revenue for services that will will never flow back to the most vulnerable among us, no matter what the rhetoric. There are only a few winners in this configuration, and we all know who they are. And that's why they want it so bad.

Unfortunately, it's not clear that Pat Quinn's spine is really in it. Now that he's made a show of calling for stricter regulation, he can cave when Rahm Emanuel & Co. come back next time. Then he can claim he stood up for the people of Illinois against moneyed interests when he vetoed a gambling bill - no self-respecting journalist should use the word "gaming" - at the same time he reaps the rewards of passing a gambling bill (or live not at all uncomfortably with a legislative override of his veto.)

Because I sense wobbliness, and I don't call him Governor Gumby for nothing.

*

"I spoke with the governor this morning and we agreed it cannot take another 20 years of discussion to draft and pass a bill that will be signed into law," Emanuel said in a statement.

So Quinn is still okay with gambling expansion - as long as he has proper political cover.

*

"When it comes to gambling expansion in Illinois, nobody is happy right now," the Sun-Times opines.

Not true. Opponents of gambling expansion are quite happy. For now.

*

"Year upon year, deal-cutters in the General Assembly collect fat donations from gambling interests and dutifully write legislation to massively expand the industry's reach in Illinois communities," the Tribune opines.

"In fealty to the gambling lobbyists, the deal-cutters try to foist on this state more casinos and video poker outlets than many citizens will tolerate. The sponsors promise that massive expansion will bring vast new revenue to Springfield. They don't boast, though, about how they buy the votes for passage by earmarking a huge share of that revenue for their fellow legislators' pet causes and projects. Most dangerously, the sponsors punctuate thick expansion bills with sneaky ethical loopholes."

And yet, the Tribune somehow still has hope that a clean bill can be written, passed and signed into law that would, among other things, bring a casino to Chicago that would maintain the highest ethical standards.

In our lifetime? The Rosemont fiasco was only a few years ago. Let's face it, Chicago's not ready for a casino. And if the government is going to sanction it, it should demand fair odds for all the games - no house advantage. No casino company on the planet would go for that. And that tells you everything you need to know.

*

By the way, the late great Jim Tyree saw fit to put Kevin Flynn, chief protaganist of the Rosemont disaster, on his board when he bought the Sun-Times Media Group.

Flynn is now in the repossession business.

Trust Trust
"The five-member board overseeing Mayor Rahm Emanuel's $1.7 billion Infrastructure Trust agreed Tuesday to do what the mayor would not: give the city's inspector general carte blanche to investigate its members, employees, operations and actions," the Sun-Times reports.

Good.

"Legislation rammed through the City Council in April did not empower Inspector General Joe Ferguson to investigate the Trust."

At Rahm's insistence.

"In its second meeting, the Trust adopted bylaws that state that all directors, officers and employees of the Trust 'shall have a duty to cooperate' with the inspector general "in any investigation, audit or review undertaken' by the IG's office."

Good.

"The city's Board of Ethics has ruled that the Trust is a city agency and, therefore, that its members must follow the city's newly-revised ethics ordinance, including its disclosure requirements, its ban on gifts and loans as well as its revolving-door provisions.

"But Emily Miller of the Better Government Association questioned why reporters and members of the general public whose Freedom of Information requests are denied will not be free to appeal those decisions to the Illinois Attorney general's office. Instead, the city will be the final arbiter."

Which was my next question.

"If the Trust is a city agency in some areas and not in others, I'm not quite sure how that's gonna work out," Miller told the board.

Hoffman agreed "it would be strange if we were a city agency for one purpose . . . and not for other purposes like FOIA."

Of course, we were assured that the Trust would operate within the strictures of the state's FOIA and open meeting laws. Assured by folks not willing to put it in writing. And here we are.

*

"The Trust will launch with $200 million in energy efficiency projects for government buildings - including converting water pumping stations from steam power to electricity - expected to generate a 20 percent energy savings that will be used to repay investors. The Cultural Center, where the second meeting was held, is one of those buildings."

We keep hearing this, but the Emanuel administration insists there is no plan yet - and it's up to the Trust to come up with one. So those numbers are made up?

Worse:

"During Tuesday's meeting, Hoffman questioned why some "portions of city government, including sister agencies" are already factoring anticipated energy savings into their budgets and incorporating those projects into their presentations to bond investors.

"You don't want to see a government get too locked into the savings before the deal. Then, there's pressure to do the deal because you need those savings," Hoffman said, apparently referring to how Daley pressured aldermen to approve the parking meter deal.

But that appears to be exactly what's happening.

"[City CFO Lois Scott] also essentially told Hoffman not to get such big ideas - that while the board should be independent, its primary job was reviewing the mayor's plans," Mick Dumke reports for the Reader.

"It's also incumbent on us as government officials to work on this behind the scenes and present things for consideration," Scott said. When city officials have something for the trust to look over, "we will come before the trust and ask it for consideration."

So the board is for show; the real work will be done behind the scenes. And may or may not be subject to FOIA.

GOP Convention Notebook 2
Governor's race and Obama's ward politics.

Fantasy Fix: Top 20 WRs
"Jay Cutler could make Marshall the best single-season WR in franchise history."

Chicagoetry: How Everywhere She Is
Now she's gone.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Double down.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:28 AM | Permalink

GOP Convention Notebook 2

"The tension in the air between Dan Rutherford and Aaron Schock might be subtle this week in Tampa, but it's present," the Daily Herald reports.

"The two Republicans who reportedly are mulling Illinois gubernatorial bids in 2014 also have important - and strikingly different - roles in Mitt Romney's campaign for president."

Well, it's not clear yet whether any role will be something to brag about or run away from, but let's play along.

"Rutherford, the state treasurer from Chenoa, has spent months traveling around the state as Romney's Illinois campaign chair, telling voters that with his help, the former Massachusetts governor is going to fight for 'every inch' of territory, winning independent and moderate votes in President Barack Obama's backyard.

"Schock, a two-term Congressman from Peoria, is taking advantage of the national spotlight. His youth and close friendship with vice presidential pick Paul Ryan of Wisconsin have vaulted him onto a larger stage, aided further by the Romney campaign's fall plans to utilize him on college campuses and as a surrogate in tough swing states."

So Rutherford has exploited his role as Romney's state chair to further his own campaign for governor, just as he's used the Treasurer's office as an extension of his campaign.

Meanwhile, Schock is using his role to build a larger national footprint, which could come in handy with out-of-state donors for a gubernatorial run, or more likely raise his profile in Congress and maybe even fetch a role in a Romney-Ryan administration.

Personally, I don't think Schock is running for governor and I think Rutherford would be a disastrous nominee. So let's call it a draw.

*

"Schock, 31, gained fame as the youngest member of Congress, lending a youthful face to the GOP. He claimed his first election win at age 19 when, just after he graduating from high school, he was a successful write-in candidate for school board in Peoria.

"Campaigning for his first congressional term in 2008, he was the only speaker from Illinois to take the stage at the Republican National Convention in St. Paul, Minn. This week, he was scheduled to take part in several convention events, including a Medicare panel with Newt Gingrich."

Memo to Schock: Do your homework.

*

"[H]is work as Romney's Illinois campaign chair is once again generating campaign connections for Rutherford, but high-ranking Illinois Republicans and staff members say he's been frustrated to find Schock included in Romney's national strategic planning meetings during the primary and general election."

*

"Schock also has not confirmed whether he will run for governor in 2014, but recent actions - including a June MSNBC debate with Gov. Pat Quinn and a subsequent standoff at a governor's mansion event for the Special Olympics - indicate that he could be readying himself for a potential fight.

"Some speculate that Schock might also be considering a U.S. Senate bid in two years, if Democratic U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin does not seek re-election. The national perspective he's gaining through his work with Romney helps keep those options open."

I had a dream last night that included a sequence in which Durbin announced his retirement from the Senate. No kidding.

Hatchet, Axe And Saw
Is David Axelrod's butt jealous of the shit that comes out of his mouth?

On Wisconsin
"This week's Republican National Convention is a carefully controlled media event. But back when parties actually chose candidates at the convention, anything could happen," the Wisconsin Historical Society notes.

"In 1860, Republican Party bosses had groomed New York's William Seward for the nomination. But the convention was being held in Chicago, Abraham Lincoln's home turf. And location, as they say in real estate, is everything."

Red Faced
RedEye contracted with the political director of the Chicago Young Republicans, John Giokaris, to bring its readers scintillating inside coverage like this.

Myths And Metaphors
"[New Jersey Governor Chris] Christie has in recent days tried to make President Barack Obama a synonym for 'Chicago ward politics' even though Obama has never been a part of that club in any real sense of that term," Carol Marin writes for the Sun-Times.

I'm not sure his best pals Tony Rezko and Emil Jones would agree. Or these folks. Or Rod Blagojevich, whom Obama endorsed twice. Or any of the opponents he knocked off ballots. Or the poor constituents he left behind. What more would he need to do to be part of the club?

*

"And plenty of moderate Republicans in the Illinois delegation understand that."

Like Ray LaHood (D/R-Combine).

*

Mark Brown, also in the Sun-Times, is also stuck on the Obama myth of 2008.

"Here we go again with this business about Barack Obama bringing 'Chicago ward politics' to the White House," Brown writes.

You mean bringing Rahm Emanuel and Bill Daley into the White House doesn't count?

"John McCain pushed that notion to no effect four years ago, and one of my counterparts has never let up."

McCain barely pushed the notion, and if one of his counterparts, presumably Kass, has never let up, that's only because the rest of the media has never caught on.

"May I just point out that you can't even get elected mayor of Chicago any more on the basis of ward politics, not to mention U.S. senator, let alone president of the United States."

If you're defining ward politics as the system of the first Mayor Daley, sure. But we know what what they mean; it's a metaphor.

"I still can't sit back while others pretend that Barack Obama is just another ward hack who miraculously rose above his station - or that he's 'Daley's boy.'"

I mean, remember all those times he challenged the corruption oozing out of Daley's City Hall? Neither do I.

Obama wasn't on the city council, he was in the state senate; when it came time to make his move, he sewed his hip to that of uberhack senate leader Emil Jones. All he had to do to keep Daley's favor was to keep his mouth shut. Which he did.

Brown knows all this. He gos on to write:

"I stand by that - not having forgotten that Obama's first two White House chiefs of staff were Rahm Emanuel (who, yes, first got elected to Congress with some help from Don Tomczak's troops, but hardly owed the election to them) and Bill Daley, brother to former Chicago Mayor Rich Daley (who dismantled the traditional ward political apparatus because it only got in his way.) In the most important election of Obama's life, the Democratic primary for the U.S. Senate, the mayor was on the sidelines.

"Nor have I forgotten Obama's strange real estate deal with the now-convicted Tony Rezko, his first big campaign donor. I'm still troubled by their friendship, and still waiting for the day we hear the whole story. [But the editorial boards praised him for coming so clean in 2008!]

"I've never tried to tell anybody that Obama was a reformer. He was no crusader in the state Legislature, although nobody ever mistook him for just another hack either. It's obvious he was always trying foremost to protect his options for pursuing higher office."

So he's a phony. Isn't that true of nearly all Chicago pols who find it convenient to adopt the reformer label to protect their options? Isn't that classic Chicago politics?

Just because the old ward political apparatus doesn't exist anymore, as Brown points out, doesn't mean that the old ward political mindset doesn't exist. After all, our mayor is Rahm Emanuel - the president's former chief of staff. And make no mistake, Tomczak's workers went a long way in securing that congressional seat.

*

The Sun-Times editorial "board" is also offended. Apparently only Chicagoans can make jokes about the Chicago Way. When outsiders do, it's time to defend our dishonor.

"We love the cheap shots that have been hurled against our city during the last two presidential campaigns," the Sun-Times writes.

"They're meant to hurt President Barack Obama, of course, tying him to every sin of Chicago's political system.

"But the cheap shots fall flat. Few people outside Chicago really care about the city's politics. And, most important, the charges are usually off base and cartoon-like."

Only in their shallowness; if they only knew how deep the systemic corruption runs around here.

"That's why we love them. It's like meeting a foreigner on a far-away mountaintop who, upon learning where you're from, offers the obligatory 'Rat-a-tat-tat, Al Capone.'"

Oh lord, the obligatory rat-a-tat-tat Al Capone. What's next, the zillionth retelling of how Robert Michel and Dan Rostenkowski used to drive to Washington together?

"Never mind that Obama had little to do with ward politics. And never mind that the charge implies that he keeps a tight lid on his minions, enforcing his rule with patronage jobs and an iron hand.

"We can only wish Obama had that control over the nation's do-nothing, divided Congress. That, indeed, would be the Chicago Way."

So the Sun-Times is arguing that the Chicago Way of an iron hand at the tiller with patronage jobs to dispense is a caricature even as it wishes Obama ruled over a one-party Congress in just such a manner because that, indeed, would be the Chicago Way. The one that doesn't exist.

Indeed.

-

See also:
* GOP Convention Notebook 1

-

Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:56 AM | Permalink

Chicagoetry: How Everywhere She Is

How Everywhere She Is

How everywhere she is:

in the brittle trill of cicadas,

each with claves, sound

swirling like a flock of wooden blackbirds,

the sharp, black whoosh of the Blue Line--

which would be thunder, but the slugging,

fat hip-hop bass line from a passing car--

THAT is thunder, and thunder, and thunder.

The burgundy tree, candy litter, the far end of her street

I pass fetching beer and, occasionally, groceries,

the silent jogger, cars slowing to turn,

the park where we walked her awesome Weiner dog,

analyzing his leavings like emperor's eunuchs,

any other park, sound, image, intimation.

How everywhere she is

now she's gone.

-

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

-

More Tindall:

* Chicagoetry: The Book

* Ready To Rock: The Music

* Kindled Tindall: The Novel

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:30 AM | Permalink

Fantasy Fix: Top 20 WRs

If you wanted to completely disregard preseason fantasy wide receiver rankings, you could probably do pretty well just trying to draft WRs from Green Bay, New England and New Orleans, the teams with the most talented and prolific QBs.

Or, maybe you wouldn't. With one exception, none of these teams has a wideout ranked as a fantasy top 10 WR (and while that exception makes the top 10 on my list, you won't find him that high on many others).

Actually, if you want to make things simple for yourself, you should focus on limiting your WR selection to two other teams - Atlanta and the New York Giants.

My top 20 WRs:

1. Calvin Johnson, DET: The easiest decision on the list. I've heard Megatron is even going fourth overall in some drafts, ahead of Aaron Rodgers. Prediction: 1,700 yards, 15 TDs.

2. Larry Fitzgerald. ARI: If he can be the second-ranked WR with the QB talent he has, maybe he should be first. A good bet for 1,500 yards and 12 TDs if Arizona scores that many via passing.

3. Wes Welker, NE: A gamble this high, but an NFL-leading 122 catches last year shows Tom Brady still loves him. This year, we could see 12-13 TDs if defenders focus on the Pats' talented TEs.

4. A.J. Green, CIN: Surging up everyone's lists based on a 1,000-yard rookie year with a rookie QB. Should step up, though like Fitzgerald, he has little help from other receivers.

5. Percy Harvin, MIN: Another gamble. The Vikings have no other reliable WRs and he's reportedly disgruntled, but most rushing yards among WRs and occasional return TDs raise his value.

6. Roddy White, ATL: Interchangeable with his much more hyped teammate at No. 7, White had a great second half last year, and a new offensive coordinator may use him as the deep threat.

7. Julio Jones, ATL: If you want huge upside rather than reliability, take Jones first. He may run under White, and when he catches the ball across the middle, he's a rocket to the end zone.

8. Brandon Marshall, CHI: I'm drinking the Blue and Orange Kool-Aid. If O-line issues don't slow the passing game, Jay Cutler could make Marshall the best single-season WR in franchise history. It would only take 1,401 yards and 14 TDs, though even 1,200/12 would be just fine.

9. Andre Johnson, HOU: I have been so down on him coming into this season, that I may have hit bottom and started to bounce back. Health is the major challenge - for both him and QB Matt Schaub - but if the injury bug stays away, he could return to 1,000+ yards and double-digit TDs.

10. Victor Cruz, NYG: He was so great last year and so in synch with QB Eli Manning, it's hard to see how he could do better, but going from nine TDs to 10 or 11 would be a start.

11. Hakeem Nicks, NYG: As with the Atlanta duo, Cruz and Nicks are almost interchangeable, and barring recurring injuries, Nicks could benefit from Cruz getting more coverage attention.

12. Greg Jennings, GB: Disappointing 2011 season in which he drew the coverage that resulted in scores for other Packer receivers. But, he's still the most reliable receiver on the field for them.

13. Jeremy Maclin, PHI: High expectations last year, and he did have three 100+-yard games, but he was as inconsistent as the rest of his team. This could finally be his breakout season.

14. Jordy Nelson, GB: He's getting no respect for his 15 TDs last season, which a lot of us see as the result of defenses focusing on Jennings, but he remains a pretty solid deep threat.

15. Brandon Lloyd, NE: Some people say he's No. 1 for the Pats, ahead of Welker. Others fear a reprisal of last year's failed Ochocinco experiment. In any case, he has never had a better QB throwing to him than Brady.

16. Eric Decker, DEN: Last year, he made Tim Tebow look good. This year, he's quickly moving up the ranks, as he seems to be Peyton Manning's favored target. Could break into the top 10 WRs.

17. Steve Smith, CAR: The aged star still has some moves left and a young QB who knows how to find him. 1,200 yards and 10 TDs is not a reach if Cam Newton gets it to him.

18. Mike Wallace, PIT: He was ending his holdout as we went to press, so I might consider pushing him up a few spots, but teammate Antonio Brown took some of his catches and scores last year.

19. Dez Bryant, DAL: He has been up and down my rankings this preseason, but he's the same multitalented type as Harvin. If off-field issues are behind him, he could end up a top 10 WR.

20. Marques Colston, NO: I feel like I have to put one of Drew Brees' receivers in my top 20, though Colston was overshadowed at times last year by fellow WR Lance Moore and TE Jimmy Graham. Still capable of 100+-yard, 2-TD games (three in 2011), if you have patience.

Sleeper Pick: Justin Blackmon, JAC: He's not much of a secret anymore, but despite Laurent Robinson's presence, he's likely the No. 1 WR for gradually-improving QB Blaine Gabbert. He also probably will be targeted more if Maurice Jones-Drew continues to hold out.

Would-Be Rookie Of The Year If Not For Blackmon: Alshon Jeffery, CHI. His preseason overall hasn't been as memorable as his first game, but he's a viable late-round bet as you're looking to fill in your bench. His number could be called often in the second half of the season.

Expert Wire
* Yahoo! Roto Arcade tries to build Chargers running back Ryan Mathews, back up after he's been slipping down the draft lists - with good reason.

* Bleacher Report cools the hype on Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson, the hot pick-up for leagues that drafted early (There goes my Matt Flynn sleeper-pick idea).

* SB Nation says Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez could have more fantasy value after a contract extension.

-

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

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:06 AM | Permalink

August 28, 2012

GOP Convention Notebook 1

"As Illinois Republicans gathered yesterday to organize their convention delegation, the absence of the state GOP's highest-ranking officeholder did not go unnoticed," the Tribune reports.

"U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk, who suffered a major stroke in January, is sitting out the Republican National Convention as he recovers."

*

Mark Brown of the Sun-Times has a not uninsightful column today about Kirk's "not well-known, behind-the-scenes role as an architect of a political strategy to return Republicans to power in Illinois.

"Before the stroke, Kirk had been moving forcefully to use his position as the state's highest-ranking GOP elected official to consolidate power as unofficial leader of the state party."

*

See also: Who Is Mark Kirk?

Mystery Convention Theater
Memo to the Tribune's Chris Jones: The last thing we need from our political parties and their conventions is more stagecraft. The substance of real peoples' lives is dramatic enough; let's focus our politics on that. I could really go for a dry as dust convention that actually takes its party's responsibilities seriously.

*

Journalists always seem more interested in a better television program than better politics.

State Party Prospects
"Illinois Republicans are heading into November's elections feeling a lot better than they did a year ago," according to Paul Merrion of Crain's.

"The Illinois Republican Party has erased its debts, raised well over $2 million and stockpiled more than $700,000 for the fall, soon to be augmented by fundraisers with two of the party's top draws: House Speaker John Boehner and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker . . .

"While control of either house in Springfield is not expected to change, at stake is the GOP House majority in Congress and the state party's overall strength heading into the 2014 gubernatorial race."

*

It's too early for this to hold much significance, but at this juncture I'll put my money on Radogno.

Women Problem
Meme of the convention so far.

Conventional Wisdom
Be the millionth pundit to explain how Mitt Romney has to portray himself in a certain way for unsuspecting undecided voters - like a human with a plan - and you get a raise and a promotion!

*

There's never an egg-timer around when you need one.

*

Always about image, never about reality.

Elite Reporters Cover Nothing
"[T]he 15,000 journalists assembled here from around the world have found themselves without a real story," the Daily Beast writes.

God forbid they dig into welfare reform.

Best Convention Coverage
Here.

-

Swag Jags

-

Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:48 AM | Permalink

The [Tuesday] Papers

Actually, I can believe there isn't a single document in existence about the Emanuel administration's decision to turn Clemente High School into a wall-to-wall International Baccalaureate program.

My impression was that after a study released in March found the city's IB programs to be unusually successful, the mayor went off willy-nilly, as he is wont to do, and shouted something like "Why the fuck haven't we turned all our schools into IB schools then?! Let's fucking make them all IB schools! Fuck!"

Of course, there are several reasons why you can't do that, including the fact that only a select number of students are able to complete such a rigorous and time-consuming program as well as the fact that IB schools are expensive to create and maintain. They aren't one-size-fits-all.

And yet:

"Just one day after a University of Chicago study lauded a constellation of International Baccalaureate programs located in struggling neighborhood high schools, Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced Friday the city will open five more of the IB programs in high schools across the city," WBEZ reported last spring.

"And he said Chicago will start five stand-alone International Baccalaureate high schools, one in every region of the city. All 10 new programs will open in fall 2013."

So yes, I can believe that there isn't a single piece of paper about the decision to transform Clemente or any other school into an IB program, though if Rahm's phones were tapped there would be audio of him telling Jean-Claude Fucking Brizard to get on the goddamn case. I don't think there was a decision-making process.

There must be, however, documents existing since Rahm screamed in everybody's ear that lay out just how the transformation will occur. Or is Rahm and his CPS cronies willing to let us believe they are remaking a Chicago high school strictly out of their unFOIAable heads?

*

Matt Farmer's experience also demonstrates the utter disaster that the AG's office and its public access counselor has become. I've experienced firsthand how easy it is for any government agency to utterly make shit up and get a pass from Lisa Madigan's crew. Memo to Madigan: Fix it.

*

From a Facebook posting by union activist Kenzo Shibata:

My hipster wannabe alderman blogged about Clemente and took credit for the new program that led to dozens of firings. Well, at least he likes Arcade Fire, right guys?

That would be Chick-fil-Moreno. The blog post would be this one. Read the comments.

*

Memo to Rahm: Impatience isn't a virtue, it's just fascist and immature. Maybe if you went through an IB program yourself you would have learned that.

Justice High
"Students at a high school in Chicago's Little Village neighborhood were being taught English by temporary teachers Monday," Becky Vevea reports for WBEZ.

"That's because Chicago public school officials let two other teachers go for 'economic reasons' last week."

There's clearly more to this story than we know so far. The benefit of the doubt does not go to CPS.

"[CPS spokeswoman Robyn Ziegler] would not elaborate on why Hogan and her colleague were laid off, other than to say the new principal is looking for two teachers with 'strategic reading' certifications.

"She said the 'strategic reading' certification was deemed necessary by the new principal, who has been at the school since August 6."

Good timing! That's like the Bears suddenly demanding strategic blocking certification from their offensive line and dismissing two starters with the opener two weeks away.

"Ziegler said 12 percent of the students met or exceeded state standards in reading on the Prairie State Achievement Exam last year. But that number is from 2010-2011 data. The most recently released results show that 21 percent of students at Social Justice met or exceeded state standards in reading."

Nice try!

"Since the new principal came in, students and parents have said the school is in turmoil. Students walked out of class two weeks ago protesting cuts to advanced classes and the firing of two attendance clerks. At a raucous community forum last week, upset parents and students asked the new principal and administrative staff from central office why they were making the changes."

I'd suggest a FOIA request to figure out why CPS is doing what it's doing, but they apparently don't write anything down. That wouldn't be strategic.

Brief Interlude
"Five hundred Chicago Public Schools students at five high schools will receive free CTA rides to school, Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced today," the Tribune reports.

Now that's a good idea. What am I missing?

*

"Emanuel also announced today that all CPS students will have a free ride on CTA buses and trains on Sept. 4, the first day of the school year for most students. The roughly $150,000 tab is being picked up by Sun-Times Media, the parent company of the Chicago Sun-Times. The media company has signed on for a three-year sponsorship of the first day of school program."

Now that's a bad idea. A news organization should never partner with the government they cover - or any government. Even for a good cause. I hope the paper's reporters have free rein to investigate how the program is executed and how the money is handled.

CTA Follies
"CTA officials are responding decisively to commuters who intensely dislike the center-facing seating on the transit agency's $1.14 billion rail cars and want it changed," Jon Hilkevitch reports for the Tribune.

"The answer: You're stuck with it for the next 40 years."

Or for about half as long as the city's parking meters lease.

*

Even CTA officials know in their hearts the new configuration is wrong.

"[CTA president Forrest] Claypool, who joined the CTA as part of the Emanuel administration last year, did not select or approve the center-facing seating, and he did not say whether he would have chosen that design if it were up to him.

"'The decisions for the 5000 Series were made nearly 10 years ago, based on extensive engineering and design review,' Claypool said. 'Without doing the same kind of research and analysis they did 10 years ago, we don't know what factors would guide a decision today.'"

But here's the key:

"The high-capacity cars, which can hold up to about 120 total passengers, are inconsistent with the CTA's current philosophy of 'de-crowding' trains, with a goal of carrying only 70 to 75 people per car."

Wow. The old regime thought the answer to service problems was to cram more people on each car. Riders don't want more people on each car. They just want enough cars coming as quickly as possible so they don't have to wait forever to get to where they need to be - especially in inclement weather. Everything else the CTA does is details, but they seem to always work around the margins instead of addressing their longstanding core issues.

Good Times In Tampa
GOP Convention Notebook.

The Cub Factor
Benefit Of The Doubt Rescinded.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: De-crowd your mind.


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:52 AM | Permalink

Benefit Of The Doubt Rescinded

Giving Theo and Co. the full benefit of the doubt, does this season feel like a success? I'd say no, it feels like a huge failure. Theo hasn't kept up his end of the bargain.

The bargain was that we'd accept a team that didn't win a whole lot in order to engage in an organizational housecleaning and culture shift. But we'd get a team at the major league level filled with kids who hustled and "played the game right."

Is that the team we've been watching? Resoundingly, no.

On Monday night it came to Joe Mather taking his turn on the mound to get through an ugly 15-4 mess, and while that can happen in any season to any team, the fact alone that Mather is even on this roster speaks to Theo's failure. Mather is not a prospect. He's not even a prospective utility player. He sucks.

Alfonso Soriano is not only still on this team, he's batting fourth and expected to return next year. Josh Vitters is here and deservedly sitting on the bench. Steve Clevenger's slump-proof swing is in a slump. Brett Jackson is a two-outcome hitter: home run or strikeout. And it's strikeout far more often. He doesn't even walk, which makes him one-third less productive than Adam Dunn. Starlin Castro's contract extension seems more based upon Theo's theory of trying to underpay players now instead of overpaying later than anything else; Castro will only reach $11 million a year in the deal's seventh year while being counted on to perform as a player making considerably more. If he's not being counted on to outperform that contract, he shouldn't be on the team. (Len Kasper said earlier in the year that on a good team Castro would merely be a No. 6 hitter, and that's where he's landed in the lineup. I'd prefer to see him in the leadoff spot despite his lack of grindiness, but that's another column.)

Dale Sveum said this week that Darwin Barney could be a .300 hitter, and I've always liked Barney more than our regular Cubs correspondent Marty Gangler, but the fact is that the guy's on-base percentage is .300.

Anthony Rizzo might be good, but he's not great; Baseball Prospectus'sKevin Goldstein projects him as a career .280 hitter who might make a couple All-Star games (he's hitting .289 now with a .336 OBP.) That's not bad, but he's not Mike Trout.

As for the pitching staff, well, for now Theo seems to be mainly upgrading the quality of scrub.

No one expected Theo to do it in one year, but like I said, we expected to see a certain kind of play at the major league level - remember the bunting tournament? - and despite protestations to the contrary, we haven't. Especially since the deflating trade deadline debacle, which proves most of all that Theo is now heading toward an F in his first year.

At least he's fired six scouts.

A bigger problem is that next year doesn't look any more promising because we're really waiting on years three, four and five. I mostly agree with Theo's philosophy, but that's a bridge too far. The Cubs are not just a plaything for Theo and his pals to play out a grand experiment to prove themselves superior; they are a product with paying customers and a passion with debts owed. We shouldn't be expected to occupy ourselves with something else for the next three summers only to then tune in and see if it worked.

The Week in Review: The Cubs were swept by the Brewers last week before coming home to take two of three from the Rockies, the NL West's version of the Astros. Then the Brewers returned to Wrigley and put a 15-4 hurting on the Cubs on Monday night just to remind them of their station in life.

The Week in Preview: Three more against the Brewers and then the Giants come in for three. So expect the Cubs to take a seven-game losing streak on the road to Washington and Pittsburgh after that. In fact, the only chance the Cubs may have to notch another win this season may be in their road trips to Houston and Colorado next month.

The Second Basemen Report: Darwin James Kunane Barney got every start over the last seven games. It's just not cute anymore.

In former second basemen news, DJ LeMahieu started all three games at Wrigley for the Rockies and went 4-for-11 with two walks and a run. He's hitting .288 with an OBP of .321. Meanwhile, Jeff Baker is 7-for-31 in Detroit for a measly .226 average. Making fun of Jeff Baker is missed.

The Not So Hot Corner: Vitters went 0-for-5 on Monday night with three strikeouts and four men left on base. He's hitting .093.

Weekly Bunting Report: "Tony Campana took a five-game hitting streak into Friday's game with Oklahoma City," the indianapolis Star reports. "One single in each game, and none of them got out of the infield."

The Zam Bomb: Big Z gave up four runs - two earned - on four hits in one inning on Friday night. He also issued a walk. More than anything, Zambrano is officially irrelevant. And that means this is the last you'll see of the Zam Bomb in The Cub Factor. And that means Carlos is Getting Angry.

zam_gettingAngry.jpg

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Endorsement No-Brainer: Theo Epstein for Northwestern Memorial Hospital, because they're both counting on patience.

Ameritrade Stock Pick of the Week: Shares of Ivy and Bleachers are still trading higher than shares of Hawks and Cells.

Sink or Sveum: 25% Analytical, 75% Emotional: Sinking. Dale is just starting to realize he's only here to babysit until the team needs a real manager. 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 Not All There.

manson.jpgneck.jpg jordi.jpgdata.jpg

And just like your thought-to-be level-headed uncle, it's just dawned on Dale that the folks at the company picnic were laughing at him, not with him. This will not do.

Over/Under: The number of September call-ups who will make the team next spring: +/- 0.

Don't Hassle LaHoffpauir: His OBP is now just two points higher than DJ LeMahieu's.

Beachwood Sabermetrics: A complex algorithm performed by The Cub Factor staff using all historical data made available by Major League Baseball has determined that the Cubs are 6-19 since the trade deadline. At least the "getting worse" part of the "getting worse to get better" plan is working.

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

The White Sox Report: Know the enemy.

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Contact The Cub Factor!

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 2:07 AM | Permalink

August 27, 2012

The [Monday] Papers

Perusing the news.

1. "The University of Illinois says a record number of prospective freshmen applied this year for admission to its three campuses in Urbana-Champaign, Chicago and Springfield," AP reports.

Because applying to your legislator no longer works.

2. I dunno, what's Swahili for Will The Defendant Please Rise?

3. The Republican National Convention opens today at the Tampa Bay Times Forum, a monument to the newspaper industry's penchant for bungling the branding of its few quality products.

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The St. Petersburg Times used to mean something, as did The Des Moines Register and, even, the Chicago Tribune. In each case the brand diminishment was the direct result of corporate decision-making - such as refocusing resources covering snoozy but affluent bedroom suburbs - that had nothing to do with the Internet.

4. "U.S. unemployment is unlikely to fall below 7 percent before 2015 at the earliest under current policies, the Chicago Federal Reserve Bank President Charles Evans said on Monday," Reuters reports.

No wonder applications to U of I are up.

5. "A new study on guns seized by Chicago police shows that suburban gun shops are a main source of guns used in crimes in the city," the Tribune reports.

At 29 percent, the main source but not the overwhelming one. Still.

"Two gun stores in suburban Lyons and Riverdale accounted for more than 10 percent of the guns recovered."

That would be Chuck's Gun Shop in Riverdale and Midwest Guns in Lyons.

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From the Sun-TImes:

John Riggio, owner of Chuck's, has never been charged with wrongdoing involving his store.

The shop is small-town charming, its walls adorned with Bears and Sox posters and a photo of the Lone Ranger. There's also a sign warning customers it's illegal to buy guns and ammo for someone else.

Riggio declined to talk on the record, but privately he's happy to chat about the steps he takes to ensure he and his customers are following the law.

As he talked one recent day, a Dolton police officer walked into the store to say hello and helped a customer with questions about how he could legally transport his newly purchased gun in his car.

Riggio and his store don't project the image of an arms dealer indifferent to whether guns wind up in the hands of criminals or honest citizens.

Still, he's been blasted over the years, accused of being an irresponsible gun dealer. The criticism began after a study showed Chuck's sold more guns between 1996 and 2000 that ended up in the hands of criminals than any store in the country.

The store is periodically targeted for protests by gun-control activists such as the Rev. Michael Pfleger and the Rev. Jesse Jackson. In one rally outside the store in 2007, Jackson yelled to hundreds of protesters: "Futures not funerals! Sons not guns!"

John Riggio, you are Today's Worst Person in Chicago, even if you are in Riverdale.

6. "Chicago police have suspended nearly 80 percent of their investigations into nonfatal shootings on the grounds that victims wouldn't cooperate, according to a review of more than 1,100 cases through the first seven months of the year," the Tribune reports.

"The statistics are a stark reminder of both the level of violence on Chicago's gang-infested streets, as well as the difficulties police face in trying to penetrate barriers of mistrust and silence that encompass the city's most dangerous communities."

I'm not condoning it but you can hardly blame them. It's amazing the level of courage we demand from those most vulnerable compared to those most in a position to act honorably.

7. "Windy City Electric Co., its owners and their politically connected husbands have been permanently banned from working for City Hall for orchestrating a fraud scheme that landed them millions of dollars in city contracts set aside for companies owned by women and minorities, Mayor Rahm Emanuel's administration has announced," the Sun-Times reports.

"One of the people Emanuel banned is Anthony P. McMahon, a top precinct captain for Chicago's most powerful alderman, Edward M. Burke (14th)."

Burke refused to answer Sun-Times reporters' questions because he doesn't think he has an obligation as a public servant to do so. He does cash our paychecks, though.

*

"The Emanuel administration is still investigating Daniel Hebert - the husband of one of Burke's top aides, Michelle Murphy - who helped the McMahon brothers run Ace Mechanical Co., a plumbing company that also got city work and inexplicably paid more than $1 million to Windy City."

What a piece of work is Burke.

*

"Windy City has been paid nearly $11 million since 2007 under an electrical-maintenance contract with the aviation department. Windy City will continue to work under that contract until a new company is found.

"The McMahon brothers are part of an extended family that has reaped tens of millions of dollars in government deals - including electrical work at city airports and Chicago public schools, and delivering milk to the schools and the Cook County Jail. The family and its business partners have given more than $164,000 to political funds controlled by Burke, plus hundreds of thousands of dollars more to dozens of other politicians."

8. I think if you circle every fifth letter this love note from Rod to Patti says: "Please get me a rock hammer."

9. A Special Place In Hell: Toni Preckwinkle was right.

10. Real Streets & Real Hoods: Chicago's Wild 100s.

11. The White Sox Report: South Side Mystique.

12. SportsMonday: Cutler In Flux.

13. The Weekend in Chicago Rock: You shoulda been there.

14. The Cub Factor will appear on Tuesday this week.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Mystical.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:29 AM | Permalink

SportsMonday: Cutler In Flux

Jay Cutler has a to-do list longer than Julius Peppers' arms. He is running out of time. And real-life issues threaten to intrude.

Other than that, everything Bears is peachy keen.

Except for Brian Urlacher's knee . . . and the possibility that cornerback Charles Tillman is getting old in a hurry . . . and other stuff. But a fan focuses on the quarterback first.

One thing is certain: It would make sense for Cutler to play more than starters usually do in the Bears' exhibition finale Thursday evening against the Browns.

Not to say whatever happens in that game matters. Nothing ever does in the preseason except for injury prevention.

But there is work to be done - a ton of work - and there is only one more chance to do it in an at least quasi-competitive pressure-cooker.

The quarterback is transitioning to an entirely new offensive scheme featuring a new offensive coordinator (Mike Tice) and a new quarterbacks coach (Jeremy Bates) who have never worked together before. That scheme isn't just a work in progress; it is a work in furious flux.

There are new receivers to continue to break in, particularly rookie Alshon Jeffery. There is a running game that must be upgraded featuring a potentially exciting new option, running back Michael Bush. There are the old standby pass protection issues but strangely enough those seemed to be less urgent heading into this week.

Did we mention the regular season begins in less than two weeks? I'd say "Yikes" but that isn't strong enough.

The gosh-darned grouchy Jay was in effect in the Meadowlands in the Bears' disappointing exhibition win over the Giants last Friday.

We saw a lot more of grouchy Jay in the first halves of the last two seasons and it isn't surprising that those halves of seasons were not all we had dreamed they would be.

Cutler was better as those seasons progressed, rallying the team to a spot in the final four in 2010 and to a 7-3 record in 2011 before he was sidelined by injury. We need to keep this guy copacetic.

On Friday mostly Jay was yelling at refs after he appeared to take at least one blow to the head early on that wasn't flagged. All of the yelling didn't help by the way, as is so often the case.

If there was one prominent call further down the line that seemed to have been influenced by Cutler's griping, it was a ridiculous roughing-the-passer penalty called on the Bears in the Giants' final drive that nullified an interception.

On that play rookie defensive end Cheta Ozougwu hit back-up quarterback David Carr to draw the flag, but he did it before the ball had even left Carr's hand.

Fortunately a few plays later the Bears secured another interception and the 20-17 win was over.

But Cutler was also yelling at his receivers. And when Cutler is yelling he's frustrated, and when he's frustrated he makes more ill-advised throws, like the ones he tried to force into a tightly covered Brandon Marshall on several occasions against the Giants.

Now there is a bright side here - Marshall is ready and willing to fight for those sorts of 50-50 throws like no other Bear. Let's once again hear it for receivers with size. And even more importantly let's hear it for receivers who know how to use their size.

As for the real-world issues, well, if anyone thinks having a new baby in the house isn't a concern for Cutler they've never had a new baby in their house. It is making things tougher for the quarterback, this much we can say with confidence.

Yo Jay! Good luck navigating these churning waters over the next week-and-a-half. You will need it.

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

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:56 AM | Permalink

Chicago's Wild 100s

"RNR Ent. presents a TC Production Chicago SouthSide hood 2 hood. A few spots in Chicago Wild 100s from Chicago Roseland to Chicago Pullman 103rd, 107th, 115th St. (Ada Park n Cooper Park), Halsted (Emerald, Union, n Normal Ave) , Cottage Grove (London Town, Langley, Corliss) MLK (Vernon n St Lawerence) S. Michigan (119th) State St, Wentworth (117th). Check out all RNR Ent. Mixtapes at http://www.datpiff.com/profile/treyonefour/mixtapes. Instrumental provided by BeatBulletin & Producer Chill."


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Previously by RNR:

Chicago Englewood.

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Chicago's West Side Part 1.

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Chicago's West Side Part 2.

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For more, see the Real Streets & Hoods YouTube channel.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:20 AM | Permalink

The Weekend in Chicago Rock

You shoulda been there.

1. Thee Satisfaction at Schubas on Saturday night.

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2. The Fixx at the Backlot Bash in Skokie on Saturday night.

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3. Chelsea Wolfe at Lincoln Hall on Thursday night.

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4. Jello Biafra and the Guantanamo School of Medicine at Reggie's on Friday night.

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5. A Friend Called Fire at the House of Blues on Saturday night.

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6. Incubus in Tinley Park on Friday night.

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7. The Bright White at the Beat Kitchen on Friday night.

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8. Linkin Park at the crappy shed in Tinley Park on Friday night.

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9. Morgan Page at Enclave on Saturday night.

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10. Shiner at Bottom Lounge on Saturday night.

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11. White Shadow at Bottom Lounge on Saturday night.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:29 AM | Permalink

South Side Mystique

It was a short week ago that the White Sox limped home after being swept in Kansas City with the mighty Yankees lying in wait. Even the lousy Mariners who would follow the Yanks in had won eight in a row and 10 of 11. It looked like the collapse everyone seemed to be waiting for was at hand.

Sorry, that's not this team, this season. Pay attention.

This team, this season is Chris Sale striking out 13 to complete the sweep of the Yankees.

This team, this season, is Tyler Flowers (!) leading the Sox to a sweep of the Mariners. (Nate Jones got the vulture win out of the bullpen, running his record to 7-0.)

It's a shame the Cubs are still outdrawing the Sox, 'cause the mystique is all on the South Side this year.

If Kenny Williams announces this week that the Sox are signing Roy Hobbs for the stretch drive, I'd simply nod and proclaim, "Makes sense." After last weekend's heroics with a generous sprinkling of good fortune, the addition of Hobbs merely would add another piece to the puzzle of one of the most fascinating but underobserved seasons in recent baseball memory.

Unfortunately, the crappy attendance seems to be bigger news than the team's weird success. None of the six games last week drew 30,000. Meanwhile, across town in a weekend series against the anemic Rockies, the Cubs drew more than 30,000 all three games.

This is old stuff, and while it affects the bottom line for management, fans care a lot more about wins and losses than gate receipts. Let's face it: ticket prices were jacked up for the Yankee series thanks to the joy of dynamic pricing and it backfired. We wound up sitting behind home plate in the upper deck on Tuesday night for $42, which was about half of what we would have paid to sit downstairs. For about the same tab, we moved to the lower level on Saturday night for the Mariner game.

Assuming that few Sox enthusiasts lose sleep over the team's attendance, there is one aspect that is worth our attention. According to Tobias Moskowitz and L. Jon Wertheim in their entertaining and interesting book Scorecasting - Freakonomics for sports - home teams in baseball win 54 percent of the games.

Before returning home from a road trip earlier this season, Gordon Beckham remarked how nice it would be to sleep in his own bed and not have to travel for the next 10 days. However, this is not where the advantage lies, say Moskowitz and Wertheim. That's because the 54-46 advantage holds true for Cubs vs. Sox, Yankees vs. Mets, Angels vs. Dodgers, and A's vs. Giants when all the athletes are able to enjoy the comforts of home.

"It turns out that the most significant difference between home and away teams is that home teams strike out less and walk more - a lot more - per plate appearance than do away teams," write Moskowitz and Wertheim.

Hmmm. So far this season, the Sox have been issued 150 bases-on-balls on the road but a whopping 192 at home. In the strikeout department, they have whiffed 472 times away from the Cell and a slightly lower 454 at home. Maybe the guys are on to something.

To arrive at these conclusions, the authors studied about 5.5 million pitches between 2002 and 2008. I'm not sure what else they did during those six years, but let's be grateful for their commitment and devotion to the game.

What they were investigating were called pitches, those which were determined solely by the umpire. What they found is that the umpires "call strikes and balls correctly 85.6 percent of the time. But the errors they do make don't seem to be random. They favor the home team."

Furthermore, Mssrs. Moskowitz and Wertheim continue, the umpires are more prone to err in favor of the home team in the late innings of a close game when the place is packed with rowdy fans.

In Wednesday's nail-biting 2-1 victory over the Yankees, Addison Reed was trying to close out the game with one out and a man on first in the top of the ninth. The dangerous Mark Teixeira came to the plate, and Reed immediately threw him two balls. The next two pitches were called strikes, and Teixeira wasn't impressed with either, glaring at the umpire and asking where the pitches were. He flailed at strike three, a pitch up and away. As Teixeira walked back to the dugout, he had some choice words for the umpire. Had Mark been familiar with Scorecasting he might have realized he was in a hole even before he came to the plate.

We were feeling rather euphoric walking out of the Cell on Tuesday along with the announced crowd of 24,247 after Kevin Youkilis's grand slam sunk the Yankees 7-3.

Moments after the final pitch, my son Chet sent this photo from Safeco Field in Seattle where a sea of yellow t-shirts filled Safeco Field.

seattle.jpg

"40,000 here to watch Felix Hernandez pitch vs. Cleveland," Chet texted. "Just think what these guys could draw if they were good."

Back in 2001 when the Mariners were good - they won 116 games - they drew 3.5 million.
Chet texted the next day, "People here are dying for anything positive with this team. They all came out because of King Felix, and then when they got there, they realized how great baseball is."

Obviously the Sox don't have King Felix, but more importantly they didn't have to face him last weekend, which was another stroke of good luck for our guys.

Plus, we have Tyler Flowers.

On Saturday night, when a raucous crowd lit up the Cell, A.J. Pierzynski stirred the pot not by slamming another home run but by getting tossed out for arguing balls and strikes. Manager Robin Ventura quickly followed as the crescendo built. And this was only the third inning.

While this was entertaining theater, it also left our guys without their regular catcher, center fielder - Alejandro De Aza was disabled earlier in the week - and left-fielder Dayan Viciedo, who was scratched right at game time.

Not to worry. Flowers tied the visiting Mariners at 3 in the sixth with a line drive home run, and he chipped in later with a two-strike sacrifice bunt that hugged the third baseline for a single as the Sox won 5-4.

Sunday's game merely added to the aura that something other-worldly is happening here. Again Flowers was right in the middle of it.

In the seventh inning his long boomer to faraway centerfield put the Sox ahead 4-3. Jordan Danks - Viciedo's replacement who had driven in the Sox's first run with a sacrifice fly - preceded Tyler by drawing the only Sox base on balls of the afternoon. After a couple of more hits, the heavens put an exclamation point on the homestand as rain continued to fall far into the night to give the Sox their sixth straight win.

Next up: four games in Baltimore followed by three in Detroit. This appears to be a daunting barrier, but this team seems to create new heroes while finding unique and creative ways to win ball games. Who knows? We may even see 40,000 at the Cell before this all ends.

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

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:21 AM | Permalink

A Special Place In Hell

Toni Preckwinkle was right.


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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:38 AM | Permalink

August 25, 2012

The Weekend Desk Report

Watch out. We got cash upfront this week.

Market Update
Intellectual Property took a beating this week. Well, the Intellect part did anyway. The Property part is still doing pretty fucking well.

Rebirther
Of course no one asks to see Romney's birth certificate. Animation via lightning bolt doesn't really count. Of course, enough people asked to see his rebirth certificate that he had to put it on the ticket.

White(wash) Knight
Well, if Nike stands by Lance Armstrong, he must be innocent. Nike always knows how to pick a winner.

Legitimate Threat
Tropical Storm Isaac is forecast to reach Florida as a Category 1 hurricane just in time for next week's Republican National Convention in Tampa. No word from presumptive VP nominee Paul Ryan on whether a Category 1 is considered forcible enough to abort the Convention, but we're guessing he thinks the risk of life is totally worth it.

Star Trade
Finally this week, if the BoSox could trade an "s" for a "t," L.A. would be all over it.

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The Weekend Desk Tip Line: The It line.

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The Sound Opinions Weekend Listening Report: "Jim and Greg celebrate the best Days of the Week songs and review the new album from psychedelic pop band Yeasayer."

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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.

My Guest Ain't Guessing: South Street Journal

8-20-MyGuestAintGuessing.jpg

Ron Carter, owner and publisher of the South Street Journal, discusses how this local newspaper created by CHA residents survived despite pressures from the first Mayor Daley and problems with advertisers.

Sunday, August 26 at 5 p.m. on CAN TV21
45 min.

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Perspectivas Latinas: Life-Span

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Life-Span's Olivia Villegas explains how the organization works to end domestic violence and sexual assault and to provide relief to those who are victims of these acts.

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

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When Hollywood Landed at Midway Airport

8-20-HollywoodLanded.jpg

Historian and author Christopher Lynch pieces together 50 years of work by photographer Mike Rotunno, providing candid glimpses of Hollywood's brightest stars of the 1950s and beyond.

Watch Online

Sunday, August 26 at 10:30 a.m. on CAN TV21
1 hr

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Bloomingdale Line History Lecture

8-20-BloomingdaleLine.jpg

Terry Banich highlights the Bloomingdale Line's role in interstate commerce.

Sunday, August 26 at 11:30 a.m. on CAN TV21
2 hr

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Immigrant Justice Organizations Denounce Deferred Action for Undocumented Youth

8-20-DefferredActionProtest.jpg

Immigration activist Jose Herrera and others criticize possible pitfalls facing young undocumented immigrants who apply for a new deportation deferral program.

Sunday, August 26 at 1:30 p.m. on CAN TV21
30 min.


Posted by Natasha Julius at 9:11 AM | Permalink

August 24, 2012

The [Friday] Papers

"Mayor Rahm Emanuel has spending authority over millions of dollars in private donations left from the NATO summit, giving him a powerful new tool to reward projects and causes he supports, the Tribune has learned," the paper reports.

"The private donations were raised by Emanuel allies to help cover the city's share of hosting the May gathering of world leaders in Chicago, and officials have only said that any remaining money - currently as much as $14.9 million - would be spent on undefined NATO 'legacy' projects.

"But this week, the mayor's office and officials at World Business Chicago, the city's economic-development arm, confirmed that Emanuel will decide how to dole out the money."

I have a few ideas:

* Um, give the money back.

* Use the money to pay for the legal defenses of arrested protesters.

* Slip something extra into the envelopes of compliant reporters and editors.

* Um, give the money back.

"The first sign of how Emanuel wants to spend the money came Aug. 15, when the mayor announced he was contributing $150,000 from the NATO donations to the Illinois DREAM Fund, a state program to create college scholarships for undocumented students who are in the country illegally."

Um, good cause but what does that have to do with NATO?

"The controversial program is popular with fellow Democrats as well as Latinos who make up an increasingly strong political constituency."

Oh.

"It is difficult to ascertain how much money is in the fund because it is not public and officials have declined to reveal much."

So, like the city's TIF accounts.

"'It's very unusual to have one person have that much discretion' anymore," Judy Nadler of Santa Clara University's Markkula Center for Applied Ethics told the paper. "Most places have eliminated the slush fund fundraising - we didn't call it a 'slush fund,' we called it an 'officeholder's account.'"

Around here, we call it The Chicago Way.

High Stakes
"Also Thursday, Emanuel reiterated his support for a Chicago casino as Gov. Pat Quinn faces a deadline next week to act on the legislation," the Tribune reports.

"In the past, Emanuel has said he would dedicate casino funds to fixing Chicago's aging infrastructure, including schools."

In other words, Emanuel wants to help the kids with money their parents lose playing slots. I have to admit, the man's got vision.

Speaking Of Infrastructure
"Governor Pat Quinn [Thursday] announced a $100 million capital investment to address local transportation needs and put people to work throughout Illinois," his office said in a press release.

"The funding, which is part of the governor's six-year, $31 billion Illinois Jobs Now! capital program, will fund the repair of municipal, township and county infrastructure and improve public safety. Illinois Jobs Now! has created or supported more than 140,000 jobs since 2009."

I thought the old way of funding infrastructure was dead, and that's why we needed Rahm's trust. I mean, I was under the impression that no infrastructure was being funded anywhere in the country anymore because the old way was dead, we couldn't depend on Washington, etc. etc. That wasn't true?

Speaking Of The Old Way
"Gov. Pat Quinn says energy and aerospace company Woodward Inc. will receive tax incentives from Illinois for a new $200 million Rockford area manufacturing campus," AP reports.

Alternate headline: Rockford Beats Rahm.

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"Woodward Inc. will receive up to $49 million in state incentives to expand into Loves Park," the Rockford Register Star reports.

"The bulk of that incentive package - up to $45 million - will come through potential income tax breaks spread out over 15 years. Those tax credits are provided through the state's Economic Development for a Growing Economy program and are dependent upon the amount of jobs created and retained by Woodward.

"An additional $4 million will be provided for capital projects - to help Woodward buy land and build its new facility - and train new employees. That money will be provided immediately, while the EDGE tax credits will be given out annually."

And how much of the company will taxpayers own in exchange for their investment?

0.

But that's not all!

"The new 300,000 square-foot facility will also open in a tax increment finance district."

Lovely!

"That means the site's property taxes will be frozen. As Woodward builds and improves the property, it increases its value. But, instead of paying the increases in property taxes, called the increment, to local taxing bodies, that money will be pooled and used to develop the property."

Local taxing bodies like the local school district. Oops!

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Unmentioned in news reports: Woodward is a $2.5 billion company. Billion. They don't need our $49 million - but the people of Illinois certainly do.

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"The financial packages played a role, but the biggest factors, the company said, were the proximity to its existing aircraft turbine systems plant and offices in Loves Park and nearby Rockton, and the availability of a skilled workforce," the Tribune reports.

"'There's an aerospace cluster in the Rockford area,' said Sagar Patel, president of Woodward's Aircraft Turbine Systems, noting the presence of aircraft systems firm Hamilton Sundstrand and 'an extended supply chain.' The result is a deep pool of aerospace engineers, he said."

So would the company have made the same choice for $39 million? $29 milliion? $0 million? We may never know, but is Pat Quinn the guy you want at the poker table?

"State Rep. Jack Franks, D-Woodstock, said the state needs to devise a systematic way to analyze incentive packages before agreeing to award them, claiming Quinn's current practice is 'willy-nilly.'

"'It may be a good deal for the taxpayers, but how will we ever know?' Franks said."

Talking Heads
Rough Week At Channel 7.

The Week In Chicago Rock
We have the video.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Ask, receive.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:37 AM | Permalink

A Rough Week At Channel 7

"To be fair, it seems like there were issues with the script/teleprompter, and not the talent (for the most part)," PicklePower234 writes on this YouTube upload. "But I still think these people are very talented."


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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:43 AM | Permalink

The Week in Chicago Rock

You shoulda been there.

1. The Dyes at the Cobra Lounge on Tuesday night.


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2. Staind at the crappy shed in Tinley Park on Wednesday night.

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3. My Morning Jacket at Millennium Park on Wednesday night.

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4. Adelitas Way in Tinley Park on Wednesday night.

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5. Dead Can Dance at Millennium Park on Tuesday night.

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6. Vagora at Reggie's on Monday night.

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7. Nucleus at the Empty Bottle on Sunday night.

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8. Covenant at Logan Square Auditorium on Monday night.

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9. Vektor at the Empty Bottle on Sunday night.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:57 AM | Permalink

August 23, 2012

The Speaker's Son

"The son of Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan is forging a successful insurance career in the Chicago suburbs with the help of mayors who look to his powerful father to advance their political and legislative agendas," the Tribune reports.

"Andrew Madigan, 26, joined the powerhouse Chicago firm Mesirow Financial in 2008 after interning with the company during college. Since 2010, he has worked in business development for the company's insurance division, where he is now a vice president.

"His job: connecting with decision-makers, laying the groundwork for new business and then handing over the details to teams of Mesirow insurance brokers who seal the deals."

Oy.

"His emergence into a political world long dominated by his father raises new questions about the intersection of the speaker's public and private interests."

No shit.

"In the last two years, Mesirow has won new government business tied to Andrew Madigan in more than a half-dozen suburbs, according to public records and Tribune interviews. In at least three towns where Mesirow won business - Chicago Heights, McCook and Bridgeview - the speaker did favors for the mayors around the same time the suburbs hired the firm."

Look, the guy's allowed to make a living. But if this is the way he chooses to do so, he deserves every ounce of scrutiny he'll get.

*

"He's a hardworking kid, and he's done a terrific job for us," said Norm J. Malter, president of the insurance services division at Mesirow. "In business, people hire those who can go out and build relationships. Andrew is one of those people."

Not helping.

*

"Mayors said they have bumped into the younger Madigan at political events attended by local leaders - including at the annual 13th Ward appreciation dinner thrown by his father, the ward boss. Andrew Madigan handed out his business card at last year's event attended by some 300 political supporters, officials and community leaders."

Not helping.

*

"Speaker Madigan's spokesman, Steve Brown, said any attempt to connect Andrew Madigan's business to the work of his father was 'kind of a stretch.'"

Go complain to Malter, then.

*

"Asked about whether it is appropriate for Andrew Madigan to be soliciting business at his father's political events, Brown said he had no knowledge it ever happened."

But you were just told it happened.

*

"I talked to the speaker . . . and he said to me, 'It looks like the garbage haulers are on a new route, and now they're trying to dirty up my family,'" Brown said. "So that's really about all I would have to say about any of this."

Madigan wasn't willing to say that to reporters himself, though. Both he and his son refused to comment.

*

"Mesirow's political and civic involvement runs deep, and the firm touts itself as one of the largest public sector insurance practices in the Midwest.

"'It's not surprising that some of the opportunities he develops would be in an area where we are a market leader,' Mesirow said in a statement responding to questions about Andrew Madigan."

That's garbage!

*

"Mesirow has won new government business tied to Andrew Madigan in Berwyn, Burbank, Chicago Heights, Cicero, Lyons, McCook and South Holland, according to public records and Tribune interviews.

"Suburban leaders who responded to Tribune inquiries - including Burbank Mayor Harry Klein, Cicero Town President Larry Dominick and South Holland Mayor Don De Graff - said they felt no political pressure because of Andrew Madigan's involvement."

I'm sure they didn't. I'm thinking they felt something more like joy - hey, we got a guy now!

*

"I am not sure what profession that young man could enter where he bumps into politicians that wouldn't raise these issues," McCook Mayor and Cook County Commissioner Jeffery Tobolski told the Tribune.

I am. Airline pilot, gym teacher, English professor, dentist, graphic designer, entomologist, singer-songwriter, marine biologist . . . pretty much most jobs.

*

"Of course I wouldn't want to say anything that might upset the Speaker, but I see the issue," Tobolski said.

Shhh, don't upset the Speaker!

*

Andrew Madigan is also on the board of the Chicago Metropolitan Planning Agency. From his bio:

Prior to joining Mesirow, he worked for the Chicago White Sox in a variety of roles, including working in the purchasing, baseball, public relations/media relations, and ticket sales departments.

Appointed to the CMAP Board by Mayor Emanuel as one of five representatives for the City of Chicago, Madigan is also a member of the Regional Coordinating Committee.

I bet Rahm didn't even know he was related to the Speaker!

*

If Andrew and his father would merely submit themselves for questions by reporters representing a deserving public, maybe they could persuade us that all measures are being taken to prevent conflicts of interest. Refusing to answer questions only deepens suspicions that once again we are witnessing Illinois politics as usual, led by the chairman of the state Democratic Party.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:40 AM | Permalink

The [Thursday] Papers

"The mosquito responsible for the West Nile virus flourished during the summer's record heat and drought. Now, officials are concerned about emerging signs that a widespread outbreak may be on the horizon in Illinois," the Tribune reports.

"Updated figures from the state Department of Public Health show extremely high numbers of the Culex pipiens species have tested positive for the disease - 71 percent in DuPage County and nearly 60 percent in Cook, the health department reported.

"Although the 27 cases of West Nile virus in Illinois don't represent a particularly high number, experts start to get anxious when just 10 percent of samples of virus-carrying mosquitoes test positive."

*

Curiously, the Tribune doesn't mention that Lombard village president Bill Mueller just died from West Nile and Evergreen Park Mayor James Sexton has just been diagnosed with it.

The Speaker's Son
Andrew Madigan at the center of many coincidences.

Blowing Smoke?
Okay, what's the catch?

Evil Lurks
Beachwood contributor Andrew Kingsford points out that the Sun-Times lectured to Toni Preckwinkle that reasonable people can disagree without condemning each other just six days after splashing its end-of-war size headline FIRED MORGUE BOSS: PRECKWINKLE EVIL on its front page.

Mancow's Madness
"Shock jock Mancow Muller will begin simulcasting his syndicated morning radio show on WPWR-Ch. 50 this fall, station executives confirmed Wednesday," the Tribune reports.

This fall, Chicagoans will get a backstage pass into one of the most provocative radio programs in this market," Mike Renda, vice president and general manager of the station, said in a statement. "Viewers will have unlimited access into Mancow's madness, with a live, unedited simulcast that will bring this dynamic voice to life."

Maybe Mancow will expand on his theory that Andrew Brietbart was murdered. I bet Obama did it.

Feds Kill Hastert Highway
"The federal government is withdrawing its approval of the controversial Prairie Parkway, a proposed far west suburban highway that would have cut through mostly farmland, officials said Thursday," the Tribune reports.

"Critics who warned about uncontrolled growth and environmental harm labeled the parkway the 'Hastert Highway' because it was the pet project of longtime U.S. House Speaker Dennis Hastert, R, Ill., in whose then fast-growing district the parkway was to have been located . . .

"The parkway was estimated to cost more than $1 billion. It has languished for years due to lack of funding and opposition.

"Hastert resigned from Congress in 2008 after helping to secure a $207 million federal funding earmark through transportation legislation, to serve as seed money for the project. That same year, the Federal Highway Administration issued a record of decision approving the highway.

"Hastert was criticized for partnering with speculators who earned more than $3 million by buying and selling land near the Prairie Parkway route. In 2006 the Tribune chronicled how during his long career in public service, Hastert, who lives on a homestead near Plano, amassed a multi-million-dollar fortune through real estate holdings."

It's even worse than that.

See also: Hastert Highway Hijinks.

BP's Bad Gas . . .
. . . made it into 200 Chicago area stations.

Meet Hannah Ford
Chicago drum goddess.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Try it, you'll like it.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:13 AM | Permalink

Meet Hannah Ford

"Born and raised in Louisville, Kentucky, Hannah had the privilege of studying with some of the world's greatest drummers and teachers, including Diane Downs, Louie Bellson, Ruben Alvarez, Jerry Steinholtz and Ndugu Chancler," Drummerworld reports.

"After moving to Chicago when she was 12, Hannah took advantage of new opportunities to study and perform with mentors such as Peter Erskine, Stanton Moore, Danny Seraphine and Johnny Rabb . . .

"Following high school, Hannah accepted a scholarship to attend the Chicago College of Performing Arts at Roosevelt University where she continued her studies with multiple Grammy winner, Paul Wertico.

"Hannah credits college with helping to expand her knowledge of music and allowing her to become a better, more versatile musician. At the same time she was playing in the school orchestral, percussion and jazz ensembles, Hannah was also fortunate to work with major touring musicians like Ignacio Berroa, Wynton Marsalis, Butch Miles, Jeff Berlin and others.

"Now, with college behind her, Hannah maintains a calendar full of live and studio sessions for top pros as well as her own projects, Pandorum, The Hannah Ford Band - and her new rock band Bellevue Suite - yet still manages to find time to do a bit of writing and teaching."

Ford stopped by Vic's Drum Shop in Chicago recently. Here's a look-see.


*

"In 2006, Hannah won the Louie Bellson Heritage Days Drum Competition (the only female to ever do so) and the Outstanding Jazz Musician award at the New Trier Jazz Festival in Chicago," Drummer Cafe reports.

"In 2007 she was once again recognized with an Outstanding Musician award at the annual Jazz in the Meadows Festival in Chicago, as well as being voted Best Drummer/Musician two years in a row (2007/2008) in Suburban Nitelife Magazine's Best of the Burbs readers poll.

*

The Shure Interview:

*

Chicago Drum Circle Interview:

*

Playing Skrillex.

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See also: Hannah Ford Drums.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:41 AM | Permalink

August 22, 2012

The [Wednesday] Papers

"Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle on Tuesday said former President Ronald Reagan deserves 'a special place in hell' for his role in the war on drugs, but later she regretted what she called her 'inflammatory' remark," the Tribune reports.

"The comment from Preckwinkle, known more for a reserved, straight-ahead political style, came at a conference led by former Republican Gov. Jim Edgar, who's now at the University of Illinois Institute of Government and Public Affairs.

"Preckwinkle was defending the recent move by the city of Chicago to decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana by allowing police to write tickets, saying out-of-whack drug laws unfairly lead to more minorities behind bars."

*

It's refreshing to hear a politician remind us that Ronald Reagan was such a cruel president that his vice president had to promise a "kinder, gentler" nation to get elected as his successor instead of the typical pandering of Democrats oddly as eager to rewrite history and perpetuate the myth as Republicans. I'm only sorry that Preckwinkle felt the need to apologize, though she did that very well - by way of explanation, not withdrawal.

"Ronald Reagan wasn't the first or the last, but he was certainly the most prominent at the very beginning," Preckwinkle told the Tribune in a phone interview.

The resulting policies have had the effect of sending young African-Americans and Latinos to jail and prison in disproportionate numbers, she said. They also have driven up government costs and damaged communities, she said.

"Drug policy in this country has been in the wrong direction for 30 years," she said. "I think that's something they should acknowledge. If I had it to do over again, I certainly wouldn't say anything quite so inflammatory. But my position basically remains the same."

"Preckwinkle shrugged off suggestions that her comments about Reagan might have a negative impact on her chances of seeking statewide office in the future," the Sun-Times reports.

"I have a job as president of the Cook County Board, and I intend to run for re-election as I've always said," Preckwinkle said.

*

In June, Preckwinkle was named 2012 County Leader of the Year by American City and County. I try not to take these things too seriously given that Richard M. Daley won plenty of them, but worth passing along. From that article:

Preckwinkle has harsh words for the county's jail system. Currently, 70 percent of its 8,500 to 9,500 daily population consists of inmates awaiting trial for nonviolent offenses, such as drug use, shoplifting and prostitution. She points out that the county is spending almost $150 per day to jail the inmates but does not offer any treatment for substance abuse. "This is terribly wrong, and we have a duty to do something about it," she says.

As part of the change, the county is moving to increase the number of detainees on electronic monitoring, which costs about one-third as much as keeping a person locked up, through more collaboration between the various departments involved in the public safety system. In addition, the budget includes about $1 million in funds for job training and other programs for the alleged offenders. "Drug treatment, employment, mental health, anything we do is less expensive than to jail them, where there is no success," she says.

Less expensive, more effective. It's Reagan in reverse.

*

"Reasonable people can disagree on the Reagan administration's drug policies," the Sun-TImes opines. "Reasonable people can believe, as we do, that he took too much of a punitive law enforcement approach, rather than a public health approach.

"But we can disagree on policies without - quite literally - condemning the man."

By all means, let's not condemn the man. That would be so impolite. He condemned the lives of so many others, but he did so with civility and we should return the gesture.

*

BREAKING: Hell just called. Preckwinkle is right.

*

Finally, as long as we're talking about Reagan's legacy, this is from RT earlier this month:

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Tootsie Footsie
"How many licks does it take to get to the center of Tootsie Roll Industries Inc.?" the Wall Street Journal wonders.

"No one really knows. The 116-year-old company, run by one of America's oldest CEOs, has become increasingly secretive over the years, severing nearly all of its connections to the outside world. Tootsie Roll shuns journalists, refuses to hold quarterly earnings calls, and issues crookedly-scanned PDFs for its earnings releases. The last securities industry analyst to maintain coverage of the company stopped last year because it was too hard to get information."

Finally, a company with real Chicago values.

As In Wreck
"A welcome breeze blew in from Lake Michigan as the two older women, one white and one African-American, sat in the garden of their South Side retirement home and joked and reminisced about five decades of friendship knit tight by the game of baseball," the New York Times reports.

"Mary Frances Veeck, 91, is the widow of Bill Veeck, the gadfly who wreaked humorous havoc as an owner of three teams but was also instrumental in integrating the sport 65 years ago. Wyonella Smith, also 91, is the widow of Wendell Smith, who took on baseball's racial barriers as a sportswriter in Pittsburgh and in Chicago.

"Both men are honored in the Hall of Fame. Both are long dead. But the bond between the two women is still strong, and as they proceed together in the 10th decade of their lives, they remain a charming and enduring symbol of their husbands' efforts to push the sport forward."

Rat Patrol
"Chicagoans rejoiced over the historically mild winter, but now many are experiencing the downside of no deep freeze: the pitter-patter of tiny feet in neighborhood alleys, the sound of a city's rats thriving," the Tribune reports.

"Complaints to City Hall about the omnivorous urban survivors - the bane of those who garden, walk dogs or loathe leathery tails - are on the rise.

"Through the end of July, the number of calls to the city's 311 center asking for a crew to get rid of rats was up more than 28 percent compared with last year. The raw figures: 15,895 calls this year, compared with 12,375 over the same period in 2011."

But will the rats leverage their growing political power?

Speaking Of Rats
"Urlacher declined comment when pressed on the matter by a Tribune reporter."

*

Maybe Jenny McCarthy told him arthroscopic surgery causes autism. Too easy?

In case you missed it: The Beachwood's Exclusive Look Behind The McCarthy-Urlacher Breakup.

Fantasy Fix: Top 20 RBs
Matt Forte vs. Cedric Benson.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Your special place.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 4:17 AM | Permalink

Fantasy Fix: Top 20 RBs

I've never been a big fan of handcuffs - at least not in a fantasy football context. Drafting two RBs from the same team seems like a good idea in theory if the so-called star is an injury risk. It also can be worth doing if that team is committed to the run, and serious about splitting the workload between its top two RBs, especially the end zone opportunities.

However, it also usually means you're using a high draft pick on a guy you don't have complete faith in, and a mid-level pick on his teammate earlier than anyone else might draft him just so you can get your house in order.

Having said that, the RB pickings this year are rife with risky bets, and in a lot of situations, using a handcuff strategy might make sense. I probably still won't do it, but that's just me. See below for some ideas won who to handcuff to whom.

My top 20 RBs:

1. Ray Rice, BAL: The more I think about it, he is the closest thing to a sure-thing, double-threat, top-tier RB. I like the next two guys, but I'm starting to think they aren't even close.

2. LeSean McCoy, PHI: If Michael Vick's injury is serious, the Eagles may lean on McCoy, which is mostly good. With Vick healthy, his carries are likely to go down.

3. Arian Foster, HOU: Another great dual-threat, but also an injury threat. Handcuff him to Ben Tate, who may even be good enough regardless to get a decent share of the touches.

4. Ryan Mathews, SD: An up-and-coming dual-threat, but he already could be out Week 1, and good, ol' Ronnie Brown is a pretty good tag-team option when Mathews is out.

5. Chris Johnson, TEN: Looking decent in preseason, and could even re-claim his status as the league's top rusher if Rice and McCoy slack off a bit.

6. Darren McFadden, OAK: It would surprise no one if he led the league in rushing after eight weeks. It would surprise everyone if he played a full schedule. Unfortunately, his backup Taiwan Jones is not much of a viable draft pick, handcuff or not.

7. Marshawn Lynch, SEA: While the QB contest is getting the attention in Seattle, Lynch is the go-to scorer on this team. Only Rice and McCoy are more certain to deliver on expectations.

8. Darren Sproles, NO: He moved up on my list (and actually into my top 20 overall) because a couple other guys slipped (see below). A triple threat if your league counts return yards.

9. Fred Jackson, BUF: Great year last year for this workhorse, who may be challenged if Buffalo feeds C.J. Spiller. Spiller is a decent handcuff option, but I really do like Jackson as the lead dog.

10. Matt Forte, CHI: He was on course for a huge 2011 before injury. That shouldn't be a problem, but the presence of handcuff Michael Bush and the an inclination to pass might be.

11. Trent Richardson, CLE: A rookie with a lot of hype, but there's a growing mystery around how healthy he is after a recent knee surgery. He slipped three spots on my big board.

12. Maurice Jones-Drew, JAC: He's slipping fast as the Jags appear set to go without the holdout, and would-be handcuff Rashad Jennings is getting a lot of good reviews. If you have him as a keeper or commit to him early, Jennings is a must-draft.

13. Adrian Peterson, MIN: Things were looking up when he was activated earlier than expected, but now looks like he won't see the field in the preseason. Toby Gerhart is your handcuff.

14. Michael Turner, ATL: The Falcons have a lot of RB options, and some are handcuffing Turner to up-and-coming Jacquizz Rodgers. A safe play, but I'm betting Turner has gas left to burn.

15. DeMarco Murray, DAL: He has basically stolen the lead RB job from Felix Jones, though Dallas hasn't been known to lean on the run even when it should.

16. Steven Jackson, STL: Somehow, he keeps coming back for more and put up good numbers last year. However, injuries are always a concern with Jackson, and handcuff Isiah Pead can likely be had as a last-round pick.

17. Jamaal Charles, KC: Like Peterson, coming back from a bad injury, but further along, He was a top five RB in preseason 2011, but now you've got to cuff him to a possibly resurgent Peyton Hillis.

18. Reggie Bush, MIA: He was supposed to be handcuffed to Daniel Thomas last year, but shook it off for a solid season. Miami's offensive woes could work against him, but he's their best bet.

19. Doug Martin, TAM: A rookie who has moved ahead of the once-hyped LaGarrette Blount. Could get a good workload if QB Josh Freeman has another bad year throwing the ball.

20. Frank Gore, SF: A lot of runners could go here - and I just mean Gore's teammates Brandon Jacobs, LaMichael James and Kendall Hunter. The 49ers may be less dependent on Gore than in the past, but with 1,211 yards rushing last year, he's still a marquee yardage eater.

Sleeper: Cedric Benson, GB: He went from unemployed to possibly the best RB option in the most productive offense on the planet. The Packers don't demand much from their runners, and still their recent options have lacked consistency. Benson, similar to Turner, can scratch out yards all day long.

RBs not on this list who should be on this list: There are two that come to mind. Donald Brown, IND, will get a lot of dump-off passes from a frazzled Andrew Luck, and could easily be among RB total yardage leaders. Also, Rashard Mendenhall, PIT, is not supposed to play until Week 6 and could be slow to return to full strength, but when he's all the way back, watch out.

Expert Wire
* The National Football Post also offers handcuff advice.

* Yahoo! Roto Arcade monitors which players' stocks are rising and falling.

* Bleacher Report says don't draft Tim Tebow. I did anyway, but not until the last round.

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

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 3:01 AM | Permalink

August 21, 2012

The [Tuesday] Papers

The drought of 2012 is already legend, its destruction of corn, soybeans and most crops well-documented," the Sun-Times reports.

"But there is one cash crop in Northern Illinois that has fared OK during the drought, albeit a small one - grapes.

"It turns out drought is not as hard on grapes used in making wine as it is on corn, soybeans or even the bluegrass in people's lawns."

And that's good news for the state's winemakers. Click through for the rest.

Big Z
"After a state investigation into his troubled charity, ex-Bear Chris Zorich will be required to pay back almost $350,000 in funds that remain unaccounted for and will be barred from taking a leading role in any charity in Illinois, according to a consent decree expected to be filed Tuesday," the Tribune reports.

"The civil filing would cap a two-year review by the Illinois attorney general's office, prompted by Tribune reporting on the Chris Zorich Charitable Foundation. The newspaper reported in June 2010 that Zorich's charity was in disarray and that Zorich didn't have bank statements that could account for the charity's unspent funds."

It's not a pretty chapter in what was once the storybook arc of Zorich's life.

Speaking of Storybook Arcs
Meet the town doctor in downstate Rushville. He still charges $5 a visit.

*

"Part of the formula, he says, is keeping costs low. He doesn't take health insurance or do any billing. When patients arrive, there are no forms to fill out. Just tell the doctor what's wrong, and he'll do his best to help. If he can't, he'll send you to someone who can."

Health care crisis solved.

Chief Wiggum
On Chicago Tonight last week, police chief Garry McCarthy was asked The Crime Numbers Game, a book that documents how the NYPD in particular jukes its crime stats. McCarthy used to oversee the NYPD's vaunted CompStat program, which he's instituted here.

McCarthy played dumb.

"That's a drumbeat people have been beating for years," he said. "NYPD has a very, very, very, very stringent method of reviewing if those numbers are accurate. If they're not, careers are ended. How do you do that? I don't understand. That's virtually impossible."

Hardly. Just look at Milwaukee, "where thousands of violent assaults were not included in the crime rate since 2006."

Garry McCarthy knows full well how crime stats are manipulated, whether he's participated in it, condoned it or tried to uncover and fix it. If he doesn't, he has no business being the police chief of Chicago. But then, playing dumb and lying ought to be a disqualifying factor too.

*

It's not the first time McCarthy has played dumb - or exhibited massive dumbness. During the NATO protests, he said he had no idea what kettling was and seemed befuddled by the notion that agents provocateur might be employed by the authorities to discredit dissent.

*

Or you can believe he's George Washington.

*

McCarthy also said that the city had just experienced one of the lowest crime rates for a July in 30 years.

"That's a direct result of the implementation of a number of components of our anti-gang strategy," he said.

So how does he explain this?

Speaking of Agents Provocateur
Man Who Armed Black Panthers Was FBI Informant, Records Show.

Double Play
"The Secretly Successful White Sox System?/Starlin Castro's Makeup Concerns."

Market Play
"The CME Group is planning to start a European derivatives exchange, in a significant expansion of the American market operator's global footprint, a person briefed on the matter said on Sunday," the New York Times reports.

"The move is the latest effort by an American exchange to plumb for new ventures. As their core business has come under pressure and margins shrink, industry leaders have been expanding into lucrative areas like overseas markets and derivatives trading. CME, whose $18 billion market capitalization makes it one of the most valuable market operators in the world, now makes most of its profit from derivatives.

"CME has been particularly aggressive, using a combination of deal-making and creating new platforms."

Shouldn't they be regulated by the gaming commission instead of the SEC?

Fantasy World
"Quick," asks the Tribune editorial board, "Do you remember your high school valedictorian?

"Chances are, you actually do. You also may recall the long, rambling speech at graduation."

Um, no. I have no clue who the valedictorian was. I doubt many others do either - if they do, that's sad. And speeches? I suppose there was at least one, but again, no clue. In fact, I'm pretty sure I didn't know who the valedictorian was or remember a speech the day after graduation - if not ever.

I don't know what world the Tribune editorial board lives in sometime, but I like mine a whole lot better.

Local Music Notebook
From Boy Illinois to Billy Branch.

The Cub Factor
New Excuses, Same Results.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Juke box.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:17 AM | Permalink

Local Music Notebook: From The Boy Illinois To Billy Branch

A loose collection of whatnot.

1. The Boy Illinois.

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More.

2. Jim DeRogatis on Pussy Riot, Rage Against The Machine, Vladimir Putin and Paul Ryan.

3. "In the 1920s, the sound of music in the black church underwent a revolution. Standing at 40th and State Street in Chicago, Roberts Temple Church of God in Christ was a witness to what occurred," NPR Music reports.

"The high-energy gospel beat of the music that can still be heard in this Pentecostal church is the creation, music critics say, of Arizona Dranes, a blind piano player, a woman who introduced secular styles like barrelhouse and ragtime to the church's music.

"The Chicago studio where Dranes recorded her music in 1926 no longer exists, but when she played her music at Roberts Temple, she influenced people like 11-year-old Sister Rosetta Tharpe, who sat in the congregation and would go on to become a gospel superstar."

Click through for the rest.

4. "Artis's Lounge - a landmark blues club on the South Side for nearly 30 years - has lost its lease and closed," the Tribune reports.

"The congenial spot, at 1249 E. 87th St., had been a blues nexus featuring live shows Sunday and Monday nights. It attracted neighborhood regulars, local music devotees and visitors from around the world who wanted to sample authentic Chicago blues.

"The shuttering of the place, last Monday, also has brought to a finish a 28-year run by Chicago blues master Billy Branch. The harmonica virtuoso played weekly at the club - when he wasn't on tour - in one of the longest sustained club engagements in recent Chicago history."

*

Billy Branch, 1977.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:21 AM | Permalink

New Excuses, Same Results

Am I the only one who thinks it stinks to be a Cub fan right now?

Because it does.

Not only does the team stink, the new management has come out and admitted it stinks.

And this doesn't really sit well with me.

True, I'm so used to management trying to blow smoke up my butt that the honesty is refreshing.

It's like being relieved that your wife is at least telling the truth about her affairs instead of pretending she's been out late taking macrame classes. She's still having an affair, though.

The old excuses are gone. No more blaming the team's downfall every year on the same kind of injuries that befall every team every season. No more blaming the weather - always too cold to hit at first and then too hot to win all those dreaded day games - as if weather only occurs not just in Chicago but just on the North Side. No more blaming Uncle Lou or Dusty Baker or Jim Hendry, no matter how much blame they deserved. The problems with this organization always ran deeper.

The problem is that now we have a new set of excuses. Theo inherited a mess. We have to get worse before we get better. Spending money on free agents is foolish. It's gonna take time.

Right. How much time? It's hard to get excited about regime change when it comes with a five-year rebuilding plan that is as much a gamble as hoping to draw that inside straight. Building from within is the right thing to do, but it's not the only thing to do.

After all, are we really being asked to believe that the Cubs front office is now so good at evaluating young talent that we should be willing to simply sit around and wait for their draft classes to come of age? Should we shut off our TVs until then? Or should that just be one piece of the puzzle?

And if Anthony Rizzo represented a new philosophy of not promoting players before they were ready, why are we seeing Josh Vitters and Brett Jackson in Cubs uniforms, not to mention an array of unready pitchers? Meanwhile, Alfonso Soriano is still the starting leftfielder. Something just doesn't feel right about the way this season has gone. At this rate, the new excuses may not be any better than the old ones.

Week in Review: The Cubs went 3-4, winning two of three from the sixth-place Astros (the only team in the major leagues with a worse record) and losing three of four to the first-place Reds. It's too bad there aren't any seventh- and eighth-place teams in the division to play.

Week in Preview: The Cubs battle the Brewers in a three-game set at Miller Park and then come home to face the Rockies for three. Good seats are still available; just show up, they'll probably let you in for free right now if you promise to buy a hot dog.

The Second Basemen Report: Darwin Barney started five of the seven last week. Adrian Cardenas and Luis Valbuena (!) got the other starts. Let's face it, Theo and the boys have accomplished at least one thing this year that we never saw under Hendry: They made second base boring. Which is just like the ghost of Hendry would have wanted it.

In former second basemen news, Blake DeWitt is on the 7-day DL for the Iowa Cubs, where he was sent in exchange for Cardenas. As a reminder, DeWitt came to the Cubs from the Dodgers with minor league pitchers Brett Wallach and Kyle Smit in exchange for Ted Lilly and Ryan Theriot. Wallach was last seen with an 8.18 ERA in A ball. Smit was last seen with a 10.12 ERA in Iowa. Lilly has a 3.14 ERA for the Dodgers. Theriot is hitting .265 for the Giants. DeWitt is not missed.

The Not So Hot Corner: So much for Vitters' extended look-see at third. He was on the bench for three of the four games against the Reds. The Cubs have six more games against the Astros, though, so we haven't seen the last of him yet.

Weekly Bunting Report: You know that somewhere in this great big universe of ours Tony Campana is bunting - a lot.

The Zam Bomb: Big Z got a hold this week. And for those of you who don't know what a hold is, it's a stat made up for mediocre middle relievers. This has to make big Z angry.

zam_gettingAngry.jpg

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Endorsement No-Brainer: Cubs management for Groot waste disposal. Because they think it's all trash.

Ameritrade Stock Pick of the Week: Shares of toothpicks traded higher this week. And we don't like it at all.

Sink or Sveum: 29% Analytical, 71% Emotional. Dale moves down three points on the Dale-O-Meter for batting Luis Valbuena third. 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 Not All There.

manson.jpgneck.jpg jordi.jpgdata.jpg

And just like your thought-to-be level-headed uncle, Dale doesn't care if you don't like extra crispy KFC wings. He's going to buy them anyway and you are going to have to eat them if you don't want to go hungry.

Over/Under: The number of fans willing to fork over another nickel to see this team play in person: +/- too many of them.

Don't Hassle the Hoff: Micah Hoffpauir's still looks to be a spot starter in Japan. Which is just like America - which seems like a total 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 fans shouldn't be screwed around with like this.

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

The White Sox Report: Know the enemy.

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Contact The Cub Factor!

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:00 AM | Permalink

August 20, 2012

Rahm's Fake Jobs

"When Google Inc. announced Monday it would slice Motorola Mobility's payroll by 20 percent, the cutback represented a reversal of fortune for Emanuel, who less than three weeks earlier trumpeted the smartphone-maker's decision to move its headquarters, with its 3,000 high-paying jobs, to Chicago," the Tribune reports.

"Motorola's backpedaling is the most recent and dramatic example of how Emanuel's jobs announcements - aimed at creating buzz that he's kicking the city into high gear, pulling businesses from the suburbs and elsewhere in the country - don't all live up to their billing."

And how.

"Emanuel keeps a running tally: Eight companies committing to moving their corporate or regional headquarters to Chicago and 28 companies expanding here, adding about 20,000 jobs in a little more than a year in office. But a Tribune review found that while about 60 percent of those job pledges are for new positions, the remainder likely will be transfers - good for the city but not providing direct opportunities for the 1 in 10 Chicagoans who are out of work and looking for jobs in a soggy economy.

"Moreover, of the new jobs, more than 1,700 of the positions the mayor counts are construction jobs, which aren't permanent. Of all the announced jobs, 2,200 are with companies that failed to provide a definitive date on when they would finish the hiring, and about 3,600 are on phased timetables that could stretch beyond 2015, raising the question of how firm those pledges could be."

So Rahm is counting jobs that may never exist. And until now, the media has simply repeated those claims.

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"In a statement," the Tribune reports, "Emanuel said: 'Every business person knows confidence is one of the most important economic stimulants. Part of why we announce successful recruitments and expansions is it builds confidence in the economy and the decisions we are making . . . Other companies around the world have taken notice."

In other words, Rahm refused to face reporters' questions. Why not just say so? Rahm has thus far depended on the gullibility of reporters to get his fake claims across. Now he doesn't want to be held accountable. Let's not pretend.

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"For instance, Lawson Products' decision in November to relocate its headquarters from Des Plaines to Chicago was touted by Emanuel as 'a significant commitment to the city.'

"The move amounted to shifting the company from one side of the Tri-State Tollway to the other, bringing the distributor of maintenance and repair supplies a bit closer to O'Hare International Airport. The new location is less than four miles from the original spot.

"Lawson delivered on its promise and transferred 400 employees to the new headquarters in late spring. But by the end of June, the company announced it was laying off 100 employees, or 11 percent of its workforce, with more than half taking place at its headquarters."

Suggestion to Trib: A "whiteboard" on your home page keeping its own tally of Rahm's job claims next to verified jobs created next to verified jobs lost.

Suggestion to local TV: If you're gonna show every press conference in which Rahm makes a jobs announcement, report every job loss too and put his photo on the screen next to the numbers.

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Is a mayor responsible for jobs created and jobs lost? I'm sure there are times when a mayor is salesman-in-chief and helps lure jobs to the city. But policies that help create jobs are much more important than those that simply move them around. Even then, the most important factor in local job creation is actually the federal government. Rahm might like to say we can't depend on Washington, but Washington - and far moreso, Wall Street - put us in the predicament we are in. That's not to say we shouldn't try, but to say that we shouldn't give Rahm too much credit - or too much blame - for local unemployment. We should, however, evaluate his priorities. How much time does he spend talking to neighborhood groups versus bankers? (Here's the answer.) Local economic development is more about communities than corporations and downtown.

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"Asked whether the city will be checking on how jobs pledges pan out, [Rahm spokesman Tom] Alexander said: 'We follow up with companies on a regular basis. What we've found is that companies are meeting their commitments.'

"He said he did not know if the city's follow-up on results would be shared with the public."

Depends on the results!

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Suggestion: If Rahm isn't willing to answer questions at his next jobs announcement, cover that story with skepticism. These announcements are purely a media strategy that depends upon the compliance of reporters - who don't work for the mayor.

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See also:
* Rahm's Unbearable Whiteness Of Being

* Rahm's Pants Still Aflame

* The Moneyball Mayor's Credibility Gap

* Emanuel's Charter Stats Don't Add Up

* Emanuel Errs On Charter Performance

* Rahm Caught Lying About Speed Cameras

* The Mayor, The Lobbyist And The 6-Year-Old Girl

* Liar's Poker: Rahm's Minor Concessions Leave Gaping Holes In Our Civil Liberties

* Rahm's Fake Transparency.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:39 AM | Permalink

SportsMonday: Welcome Back, Bears

Welcome back football! We missed you, especially us Cubs fans.

What's that you say? Football started the weekend before last? Well I can't remember anything before Thursday. Heck, I barely recall Friday.

But Saturday, that was memorable. Bears fans won't soon forget that evening's delightful come-from-ahead and then behind, and then ahead by the margin of the foot or two by which Robbie Gould's (welcome back especially to you Robbie!) 57-yard, last minute field goal cleared the crossbar. Actually they almost certainly won't remember the 33-31 victory at all after the regular season opener in a few weeks but work with me here.

I always wonder about those analysts who breathlessly do their thing in the aftermath of exhibition games: They have to know that 90-something percent of what they are talking about is meaningless, don't they?

I've gone into detail about this before but there is always one quick way to put things into perspective - remember the '85 Bears! Before they won everything but that stupid Monday nighter in Miami, they went 1-3 in the preseason.

There is only one thing to say about exhibition games (and I admit, I have written this before as well but it is just too good a memory from too good a movie). Sing it with me now: "It just doesn't matter. It just doesn't matter. It just doesn't matter!"

Nonetheless, you wonder if Gould felt any pressure as he trotted onto the field with 30-something seconds remaining late Saturday and the Bears trailing 31-30. I mean, heck, no one wants to go 0-4 and the Bears would have been halfway there had Gould missed. So we'll take it and move on. Well, we can't quite move on completely can we? There are a few specifics to discuss.

1. Lorenzo Booker opened the second half with a 105-yard return that made the NFL's Can't Miss Plays.

2. Analyst Jim Miller performed well until the fourth quarter, when he went a little goofy gushing over his buddy Kirk Cousins, a fellow Michigan State grad on whom he has long had a mancrush. All Cousins did was go off against the Bears' third-string defense, which would have difficulty my cousins.

Even more goofy is that the Redskins drafted Cousins in the fourth-round last April having already traded three huge draft picks (two firsts and a second) to move up all of four slots in first round to take starting rookie signal-caller Robert Griffin III.

Surely the Redskins, who will need every warm body they can round up to form a halfway decent defense and, I don't know, an offensive line, a receiving corps, you know, everything but a quarterback in the next few seasons, will come to regret wasting a fourth-round pick on a sure to be backup quarterback (no matter how well he plays against opposing scrubs in the preseason).

You can't be drafting luxury backups when you won't have top picks for years to come.
After Cousins led the Redskins to three fourth-quarter touchdowns and a one-point lead, Miller suggested that Washington had a quarterback controversy on its hands. That is not the case in any way, shape or form no matter how much Cousins' fellow former Spartan - and others with airtime to fill - wants it to be. After paying a king's ransom for him the Redskins will give Griffin every chance as the starting quarterback this season and next, and maybe the next.

3. Word came through on Sunday that rookie safety Brandon Hardin, who was drafted by the Bears in the third round out of Oregon State, was released from the hospital after spending the previous night. He was carted off the field strapped to a backboard after he hurt his neck attempting to tackle a Redskin tight end.

Early indications are that Hardin will be fine but he will be out for a while. In the meantime, he will need to review tackling fundamentals. Hardin didn't play in his final year at college due to an injury so it is at least a little understandable that he wasn't as sharp as he should be (and in an effort to limit injuries, NFL players barely practice tackling these days) on Saturday.

But the tackle attempt that resulted in his injury should be a video shown to all players titled "how not to tackle (if you want to avoid neck injuries)." The key part of the play was that Hardin lowered his head before impact and made initial contact with the crown of his helmet. It is apparent that plenty of players, especially cornerbacks and safeties, are taught at some point to lower their heads and make themselves into missiles in certain situations where they must make a tackle against a speedy player out in space and the best way to do it is thought to be diving at the player's legs.

That should stop at all levels of football. Tacklers actually always have a better chance of getting foes on the ground if they keep their face up. That enables them to wrap their arms around ball-carriers and finish the play more efficiently. Learn it, live it, love it! Your neck will thank you!

4. Bears tell Alshon Jeffery to play smarter.

5. Phil Emery defends J'Marcus Webb.

6. Next game that doesn't matter: Against the Giants on Friday night.

7. And finally, game highlights, because we still like to watch them:

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

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1. From Steve Rhodes:

A week later, the Tribune's Dan Pompei echoes the Beachwood's Jim Coffman.


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:38 AM | Permalink

Evergreen Park Reality TV Star Is Dead

"Joey Kovar - a native of Evergreen Park who appeared in Real World: Hollywood and Celebrity Rehab 3 - was found dead Friday morning in south suburban Chicago Ridge, according to family and police," the Tribune reports.

"An autopsy conducted on Saturday was inconclusive and the cause of death was pending toxicological test results, officials said today."

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"His friends were shocked but they were also not surprised because he had been sending suicidal texts lately," says Celebrity Video Forums.


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"Kovar famously battled his addictions while on the Real World, even leaving the show midway through the season in 2008 to enter rehab," MTV reports.

"He ultimately returned to the production, but left again for fear that he might relapse. On the reunion special, Kovar shared that he had been sober for a year.

"However, he continued to battle demons, later appearing on the VH1 reality show Celebrity Rehab in 2009, after he relapsed and began using cocaine and ecstasy again."

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"Joey was discovered by a female friend early this morning who noticed blood coming out of Joey's ears and nose," according to TMZ.

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TMZ also reports that Kovar had mixed cocaine, alcohol and Viagra before dying, but his family says they do not suspect drugs. Police, however, say they do not suspect foul play.

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Visitation will be in Evergreen Park; the funeral service in Oak Lawn.

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Wrestling rap from July 2008:

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Win a day with Joey:

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His Celebrity Rehab cast bio:

"Joey Kovar worked as a personal trainer and aspiring actor in Chicago when he was cast on The Real World: Hollywood in 2008. His 'big break' fell apart though when he became uncontrollably drunk and high on drugs during the show. His behavior became so outrageous that he was asked to leave the program. It was this very public fall that brought Joey's long struggle with addiction to light. It soon became known that Joey had been abusing massive amounts of alcohol, cocaine, ecstasy, meth and, as part of his bodybuilding, steroids since he was a teenager and had come very close to death through an overdose."

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:05 AM | Permalink

The Weekend in Chicago Rock

You shoulda been there.

1. The Brian Jonestown Massacre at the Metro on Saturday night.


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2. Elliot Hoffman at the Bottom Lounge on Thursday night.

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3. 311 at Northerly Island on Friday night.

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4. Magic Castles at the Metro on Saturday night.

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5. Gojira at the Bottom Lounge on Thursday night.

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6. Nas at the House of Blues on Saturday night.

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7. Pusha-T at the House of Blues on Saturday night.

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8. Sebadoh at Schubas on Thursday night.

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9. Mumford and Sons at the Chicago Theatre on Thursday night.

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10. Eyes Set To Kill at Reggie's on Friday night.

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11. Slightly Stoopid at Northerly Island on Friday night.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:20 AM | Permalink

Royal Headache

Golfing legend Ben Hogan once said, "The most important shot in golf is the next one."

When it comes to playing the Kansas City Royals, especially at Kauffman Stadium, our White Sox could use a dose of Hogan's wisdom. It matters not what happened yesterday, or last month, or a year ago. Don't tell me about jinxes or curses. Hitting and catching the ball, effective pitching and a dose of intelligent baserunning determine whether the Sox can beat the Royals, or any other opponent for that matter.

Yet prior to Friday night's 4-2 loss at Kauffman - even with Chris Sale poised to take the mound - Chuck Garfien, Bill Melton and Frank Thomas were already setting the stage on Comcast's pre-game show by highlighting the problems that the Royals have caused the Sox this season. At that time, Kansas City held a 5-4 advantage over the South Siders, disappointing but far from disastrous.

The Big Hurt chimed in a couple of times, commenting how tough the Royals play the Sox, even harkening back to the 16 seasons he wore Sox pinstripes.

Interesting, but not true. From 1990 through the championship 2005 season, our guys pummeled the Royals to the tune of 139-91, thanks in part to Thomas' prodigious talents.

Of course, the three studio commentators are strictly observers and not participants. However, between them, Hawk Harrelson, and others who cover the ballclub, we are reminded over and over again how much trouble Kansas City is causing the White Sox. Please understand that the reports are not false, but you have to wonder whether a self-fulfilling prophecy threatens the ballclub because of the emphasis on what's occurred the past couple of seasons.

After Saturday's 9-4 loss - characterized by four errors, lack of timely hitting, and the stubborn commitment to pitch to Billy Butler - Daryl Van Schouwen wrote in the Sun-Times, "Maybe it's just a Kauffman thing. Alcides Escobar had three infield hits [actually it was four], [Alex] Gordon dropped a blooper for a key single, and two close plays at the plate went the Royals' way. The Sox are 8-17 here since 2009 and 0-2 in a series they came into with Chris Sale and [Jake] Peavy pitching after they had won three of four in Toronto."

After the Royals put Saturday's game out of reach with four runs in the bottom of the eighth, Hawk intoned, "We've created another Metrodome for ourselves." Then again on Sunday, "Everything is self-induced. It certainly appears in our own minds that we have created another Metrodome."

Cheesh! Has it come to that?

The Sox' travails playing in the former home of the Minnesota Twins, the Humphrey Metrodome, are etched in team history. In the last 10 seasons that the Twins played under the dome prior to the opening of Target Field in 2010, the Sox dropped 55 of 90 games. Most of the time - the banner summer of 2005 was an exception with the Sox winning six of nine - the Twins were simply the better team, so it made sense that the Sox weren't very successful.

But our guys were complicit in building up the Twinkies' brand, making Hawk's "self-induced" comment hit home. Ozzie Guillen labeled them "piranhas," giving credibility to the notion that Minnesota would keep nibbling away until they finally beat you. The Twins received high marks as an organization that did things the "right way." They taught fundamentals and performed the little things that won ballgames. The Twins' culture was something to emulate.

So how does one explain that in five post-season appearances between 2002 and 2009, the Twins went 3-16, not including the playoff 1-0 loss to the Sox in 2008? Evidently their playoff opponents - the Angels, A's, and Yankees three times - were much less impressed and awed than the Sox had been during those regular seasons.

Certainly all opponents need to be respected and taken seriously, but one wonders whether the Sox's dreaded their trips to the Metrodome, dwelling on past disappointments.

When I was a kid, the team that gave the Sox the biggest headache was the Yankees. The only year between 1951 and 1959 that the Sox had the edge over the New Yorkers was the pennant-winning season of 1959. After a weekend against the Yankees that looked a lot like last weekend in Kansas City, my dad would lambast the Sox, saying that they "roll over and play dead against the Yankees."

Pop was wrong. The White Sox were a very good team throughout the decade, but the Yanks had great teams, some of the best ever. I prefer to think that the likes of Minoso, Pierce, Fox and Aparicio weren't intimidated by Mantle, Berra, Ford and Skowron. They simply were beaten by a better team.

So does that mean that the Royals are better than the Sox this season? Not in my opinion, but last weekend our guys were outplayed. Or as Hawk said, "It seems like when we play Kansas City, we play like a fourth-place club, and they play like a first-place club."

Kansas City is on a roll, having now won nine of their last 12 games against the Sox, Orioles, and A's, all playoff contenders. But they're still 12 games under .500, and chances are good that this will be the 20th year in the last 27 that the Royals lose more than they win.

The teams will meet six more times in September, three in Chicago and three at Kauffman. The Sox will have some evening up to do, and I wouldn't be surprised to see them do exactly that. I simply think that our guys have a better team. They need to take care of business at home, and then head to KC and enjoy the sights. Maybe visit the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum, shop at the Plaza and sample some of the country's best barbecue. (Personally I favor Arthur Bryant's.) Then go out and do exactly to the Royals what they just did to the Sox last weekend.

In the meantime, the Yankees will be at the Cell tonight for the first of three games. Once in June and again in July, the Sox had stretches where they dropped six of seven games. But each time they bounced back.

Now they have to do it against one of the better teams in baseball. The teams split four games in June at Yankee Stadium, which apparently is nowhere near as intimidating as Kauffman Stadium, let alone the Metrodome.

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

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:57 AM | Permalink

The [Monday] Papers

Just a shorty today.

1. Rahm's Fake Jobs.

2. Why Your Team Sucks 2012: Chicago Beasr.

3. "Some of the early backers of Groupon Inc., including Silicon Valley veteran Marc Andreessen, are heading for the exits, joining investors who have lost faith in companies that had been expected to drive a new Internet boom," the Wall Street Journal reports.

4. "William J. 'Bill' Mueller, Lombard's village president, died Saturday of complications from West Nile virus, leaving a vacuum in leadership in the west suburban town he oversaw for nearly two decades," the Tribune reports.

5. Evergreen Park Reality TV Star Is Dead.

6. "Five Chicago government pension funds have won a six-month court battle to fire the money-management firm founded by a friend of President Barack Obama and a nephew of then-Mayor Richard M. Daley," the Sun-Times reports.

"Chancery Court Judge John Noble ruled last week in Delaware that the pension funds had sufficient cause to fire DV Urban Realty Advisors, which was formed by Obama's friend and onetime employer Allison S. Davis and Daley nephew Robert G. Vanecko.

7. In one of life's largest mysteries, more than 2 million people reportedly attended the air and water show over the weekend.

8. The Weekend in Chicago Rock.

9. SportsMonday: Welcome Back, Bears.

10. The White Sox Report: Royal Headache.

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The Cub Factor will appear on Tuesday this week.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: On the backstreets until the end.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:57 AM | Permalink

August 18, 2012

The Weekend Desk Report

Speaking of freedom of expression, it looks like the American media is still too chicken-shit to say "pussy."

Market Update
Looks like today's Groupon is Groupon, available for a 37% discount while supplies last. Which could be a while.

Trendspotting
Apparently, "shirtless" was the second most popular shirt term associated with newly-minted telegenic Republican blowhard Paul Ryan last week. The Weekend Desk can now exclusively reveal the rest of the Top Five:

5. Hairshirt

4. Shirttails

3. Tea Shirt

1. Full of Shirt

Trendspotting Redux
Is it too late to start questioning Paul Ryan's personhood?

Self-Loathing
Cheer up, Paul. Had he lived, Beethoven would hate your ass too.

Strike It Poor
Of course, there's still the chance that America could be saved by a sudden push of negotiation and bipartisanship. But we'll keep the presses running. You know, just in case.

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The Weekend Desk Tip Line: Riotous.

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The Flying Saucer Weekend Brunch Report: Steak and Kimber.

kimber.jpg-

The Sound Opinions Weekend Listening Report: "In part two of our series on 1977: The Year Punk Broke, Jim and Greg look at the punk movement stateside with music writer Ira Robbins. Then they review the new record from Brooklyn afrobeat band Antibalas."

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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: Poder Learning Center

8-13-PoderLC.jpg

Poder Learning Center's Daniel Loftus unveils "Oprima Uno (Press One)," a call center that gives young people firsthand customer service experience.

Saturday, August 18 at 7:30 p.m. on CAN TV21
30 min

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After Arizona

8-13-AfterArizona.jpg

Eric Posner of University of Chicago explains the national impact of the Supreme Court upholding portions of Arizona's immigration law, granting police officers the ability to ask for proof of legal status from anyone they reasonably suspect may be undocumented.

Watch Online

Sunday, August 19 at 9 a.m. on CAN TV21
1 hr

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Bughouse Square Debates

8-13-BughouseSquare.jpg

Free Speech is the only rule at this annual event where orators with a wide range of ideas take to the soap box and opine on everything from religion to the causes of the Great Recession.

Sunday, August 19 at 10:30 a.m. on CAN TV21
2 hr

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Alliance for Community Media National Conference: Opening Plenary

8-13-ACMGordonQuinn.jpg

Gordon Quinn of Kartemquin Films highlights the importance of independent media during the national conference of public, educational and government (PEG) access organizations and community media centers.

Sunday, August 19 at 12:30 p.m. on CAN TV21
2 hr

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Alliance for Community Media National Conference: Closing Plenary

8-13-ACMCraig.jpg

Craig Aaron of Free Press moderates a panel discussing the impact of national public policy on community media to end the national conference of community media centers.

Sunday, August 19 at 2:30 p.m. on CAN TV21
2 hr

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Sen. Dick Durbin Address On The Importance of Arts & Culture

8-13-DickDurbin.jpg

At a meeting for members of the Arts Alliance of Illinois, Senator Dick Durbin shares his insights on the importance of supporting the arts, humanities and education, especially during times when the legislative and political environment seem hostile to the arts.

Sunday, August 19 at 5 p.m. on CAN TV21
45 min.


Posted by Natasha Julius at 8:41 AM | Permalink

August 17, 2012

The [Friday] Papers

"The Illinois House might expel one of its members Friday, but Rep. Derrick Smith remains on the November ballot and still could be re-elected," AP reports.

Heh.

But wouldn't they just expel him again after the election?

"The Illinois Constitution prohibits either house of the General Assembly from expelling a member more than once for the same offense."

Heh-heh.

The obvious answer from the House's perspective would be to wait until after the election to see if expulsion is even necessary. Maybe the voters will do it for them. But Illinois legislators can't even figure out how to best kick out one of their own. And they're gonna reform pensions?

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"If you want to know how cynical and corrupt Illinois politics has become, you should focus on Springfield today," John Kass writes for the Tribune.

Go read the rest right now and come back.

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One of my favorite parts was Kass recalling U.S. Rep. Danny Davis (D-Chicago) saying before last spring's primary that "We know that our colleague is charged with criminal activity. But we also know that a charge is not a conviction."

Good enough to win the election for us but not good enough to actually be seated.

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But what should the Dems have done? Wasn't it proper of them to try to control the seat? Well, they're running an independent candidate anyway. What's the difference if the opponent is Smith or secret Republican Tom Swiss? In fact, it might have been better to back Swiss on principle and then work to pummel him in the fall instead of what they risk now, which is Smith winning re-election.

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Better yet, I would have advised residents that two really bad candidates ended up in the primary and while they were free to vote for either, the Democratic Party would back neither and instead put up that independent candidate in the fall, having failed to properly serve voters this time around. With an apology.

Tax Hacks
"Four large Chicagoland companies are among 26 publicly traded firms that paid more to their CEOs in 2011 than they did in federal taxes, according to a study released Thursday by a left-leaning Washington, D.C., think tank," the Tribune reports.

"Tax breaks on research and development, past losses and foreign-held earnings were among those lightening the load for many companies on the list, which included Abbott Laboratories, Boeing Co., Motorola Solutions and Motorola Mobility, according to the study by the Institute for Policy Studies."

But they're for gay marriage, so they can stay.

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Actually I have no idea if the CEOs of these companies are for gay marriage. For some reason, neither Rahm Emanuel nor their aldermen care.

Speaking Of Chicago Values
"While some NFL teams will feature casino advertising on stadium signage for the first time this year under a new league policy, the Chicago Bears won't be one of them," Danny Ecker writes for Crain's.

"The Bears are 'choosing not to participate' in doing ad deals with casinos, said the team's vice president of sales and marketing, Chris Hibbs, who called it a decision based on 'values.'"

The team wants instead to associate itself with blue-chip brands, like Lance Briggs and Brian Urlacher.

Speaking Of Brian Urlacher
See our exclusive Beachwood report on why he and Jenny McCarthy broke up. Only in the Beachwood!

Squeeze Play
"The patent wars have come to the ketchup business, with a Chicago inventor battling H.J. Heinz Co. over who came up with the idea for its 'Dip & Squeeze' condiment packets," the Wall Street Journal reports.

"In a patent-infringement suit filed earlier this month against the ketchup giant, Scott White claims he had a 'flash of inspiration' after too many ketchup spills at the drive-through. He came up with the idea of a flexible condiment package that would fit in a car's drink holder and allow people to 'choose between dipping finger foods and squeezing condiments onto sandwiches or other foods,' he claims in his complaint, filed in U.S. District Court in Chicago."

White is a risk manager for the Chicago Housing Authority, fyi.

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

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Endure.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:30 AM | Permalink

Why Jenny McCarthy And Brian Urlacher Broke Up

Exclusive Beachwood reporting from behind-the-scenes of the break-up has revealed a host of reasons why this Chicago wonder couple just couldn't make it.

* Brian blames Jenny for his recent surgery because she persuaded him not to take anti-knee injury vaccine.

* Jenny needs a bigger intellectual challenge.

* Brian upset because Jenny wouldn't come to bed Photoshopped.

* Jenny didn't think Jenny Urlacher had a good ring to it.

* Brian wanted an open relationship in which he'd be able to sleep with nitwits from other cities.

* Jenny is really more of a Packers fan.

* Brian was upset because Jenny never wanted to huddle after sex.

* Jenny, too, thought Urlacher's performance was overrated.

* Brian upset that Jenny would call out "Fireman Bill!" during sex.

* Jenny upset that Brian would call out the names of every woman he owed child support to during sex.

* Brian thought that whatever happened on the road should stay on the road.

* Jenny really didn't like the Bears' color scheme.

* Brian got really clingy once he had his knee scoped.

* Jenny thought Brian should get a job instead of staying home all day complaining about his poor knee.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:46 AM | Permalink

The Week in Chicago Rock

You shoulda been there.

1. System of a Down at the arena in Rosemont on Wednesday night.


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2. Deftones at the arena in Rosemont on Wednesday night.

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3. Charlene Kaye at the Beat Kitchen on Sunday night.

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4. Birthmark at the Empty Bottle on Monday night.

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5. A Skylit Drive at the Congress on Monday night.

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6. Attila at the Congress on Monday night.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:05 AM | Permalink

August 16, 2012

The [Thursday] Papers

"Two years ago, Roy McCampbell said in a Tribune investigative story that he earned every penny of his $472,000 salary by holding 10 different village positions," the paper reports.

"Today he faces indictment.

"The former Bellwood village administrator, McCampbell, 57, of Schiller Park, faces eight felony counts of theft and four felony counts of official misconduct, according to court records.

"The grand jury indictment accuses him of stealing more than $500,000 from the west suburban village, in part by manipulating his employment contracts and deceiving the Village Board about them."

I don't know if it should be easier or harder to get away with this kind of thing - presuming he's guilty - in such a small town. (See also: Dixon.)

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Bellwood - about 10 miles west of Chicago - has a population of about 20,000. Its most famous citizen is an astronaut.

"In the 1960s, Bellwood took great pride in the race to the moon by watching native son and astronaut Eugene Cernan travel to space several times before his spectacular landing on the moon in the early '70s," the village web site says.

"His footprints are the last ones left on the lunar surface. Cernan was raised on the 900 block of Marshall Avenue. In his autobiography, Last Man on the Moon, he described his affection for Bellwood and noted that the small size of his family home provided excellent training for the cramped quarters of a lunar module."

Oy.

"Today, Bellwood, with its many brick bungalows and ranch and Georgian homes, has matured. But in many respects it remains the largely residential suburb that it has been for the last 50 years."

Also: Plenty of good job opportunities for village officials willing to work multiple jobs for outrageous pay.

Not Worst Ever
"For the first time in more than a century, House lawmakers on Friday will try to expel one of their own," the Tribune reports.

Well that doesn't seem right. Is Derrick Smith really the worst Illinois House member of all time - the first one in a hundred-and-some years worthy of being kicked out of the chamber?

*

This explusion is kinda weird. He hasn't been found guilty in a court of law yet and says he's fighting the charges. It might seem obvious that he did the dirty deed, but what if a trial shows otherwise? If he's found not guilty, does he get his seat back?

Perhaps explusion should come after a member is found guilty of a felony, or of some other standard of conduct unbecoming.

*

That seems to be thinking of Rep. Al Riley (D-Olympia Fields). He looks to be the only member to vote against expulsion.

"[Riley] said clarity is needed on when a lawmaker should be reprimanded, censured or expelled to help legislators determine the best course of action.

"'It's great to have wide latitude,' Riley, D-Olympia Fields, said in an interview, 'but wide latitude does not mean that the process should be devoid of meaningful guidelines.'

"Riley maintained that the more appropriate punishment for Smith may be censure, noting he has not been convicted of any crime and that the House vote on expulsion is coming only weeks before the election."

The Tribune editorial board disagrees:

"The House has a system in place to deal with allegations of serious misconduct by its members, and expulsion is a remedy it has considered only twice in more than a century."

And that's a sign the system works?

Beyond that, how would you like to lose your job based on allegations still unproven, no matter how persuasive the evidence?

Now is yet another time to reaffirm our most vital national principles. Like the recent Chick-fil-A brouhaha, this is a teaching moment.

*

There are times when a legal remedy is more important than a political remedy. This is one of those times.

*

Smith, of course, won the Democratic nomination despite the charges against him. With the help of the Democratic Party, which did not abandon him until after he had knocked off his opponent, who was a Republican plant. Those facts are already proven. Censures all the way around.

Park Shark
"Mayor Rahm Emanuel's administration has awarded $203 million in contracts to manage parking and ground transportation at O'Hare and Midway Airports to a clout-heavy company that's had a lock on the business for nearly two decades," the Sun-Times reports.

Like a United States congressman, once they get in it's hard to kick them out.

"Standard Parking was one of four companies vying for the five-year, $145 million O'Hare contract in a field that included LAZ Parking, the operator hired by the consortium that paid $1.15 billion to lease Chicago's 36,000 parking meters for 75 years.

"In the competition for the five-year, $58 million Midway parking contract, Standard beat out a four-member field of competitors that included LAZ, Imperial Parking and CPS Chicago Parking LLC."

*

"The 20-year gravy train of city parking contracts has been worth at least $306.9 million to Standard Parking, records show."

Hey, maybe they do a good job. Maybe they're worthy of retaining their contracts.

"Standard Parking has made $190,718 in campaign contributions to local politicians in recent years. The company has also been an insurance client of Cook County Commissioner and Finance Committee Chairman John Daley, the former mayor's brother."

Oh.

What interest does a parking company have in making campaign contributions? Parking knows no ideology! We're left with only one conclusion - the obvious one.

"Mike Wolf, executive vice-president of Standard Parking, refused to say what service improvements, if any, the company expects to implement at O'Hare and Midway over the next five years."

Wow. That's harsh, dude. And hard-core. You are Standard Parking, in all its glory.

*

Parking is big business in Chicago. Just ask Marty Nesbitt, the president's best friend.

"A businessman by trade, Nesbitt started The Parking Spot, a lucrative airport satellite-parking company that is recognizable from its large yellow buses covered with black spots. Nesbitt started the company with financial backing from Penny Pritzker, the CEO of Pritzker Realty Group. Nesbitt later introduced Pritzker to Obama, and she became Obama's 2008 national fundraising chair."

Daily Splashdown
Marilu Henner has advice for how to have a wonderful summer. Can we vote to expel the Sun-Times for conduct unbecoming?

For the 20 years I've lived in Chicago I've yearned for the Sun-Times to grow up. It's still a child, despite having many different parents.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: For whom the bell tolls.


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:31 AM | Permalink

August 15, 2012

The [Wednesday] Papers

"A federal grand jury has demanded that a City Council committee led by a powerful alderman turn over records related to a program that last year alone paid out $115 million to disabled city workers, according to documents obtained by the Tribune," the paper reports.

Yay!

"Prosecutors sent subpoenas to the Finance Committee long led by Ald. Edward Burke, 14th. The Aug. 3 request asks for access to a host of records related to the 'duty disability' program.

"The subpoenas were issued about one week after city Inspector General Joseph Ferguson, a former federal prosecutor, announced that Burke's committee had rebuffed his attempts to obtain many of the same records."

Burke has, however, decided to hand over the documents he won't give to Ferguson to the inspector general for the city council, Faisal Khan.

"But Khan runs a fledgling one-man office that has funding of $260,000 this year, compared with Ferguson, who has an authorized staff of 67 and a budget of $5.8 million," the Tribune notes. "The powers of Khan's office also are more limited."

Quite.

"Aldermen created Khan's office in 2010 as they sought to fend off a move by then-Mayor Richard Daley to give Ferguson the power to investigate the City Council. Several aldermen said then that the city inspector general, appointed by the mayor, could not be truly independent.

"Critics contend that Khan's office is a sham because he must clear considerable hurdles before he can open an official investigation. Among them is approval from the city Board of Ethics, which has not issued a finding of aldermanic wrongdoing in more than 24 years.

"Khan does not have his own investigators, instead relying on those who work for the Board of Ethics."

*

Read those last two paragraphs again. I'll wait.

*

The executive director of the city's ethics board is Steven Berlin. He's been there in one capacity or another since 1993. Good job!

*

In a statement to the mayor's ethics task force, Berlin said this:

There are 4 important elements (or pillars in the edifice) of any effective governmental ethics program. I stress that an effective government ethics program, and the very idea of implementing effective government ethics reform in the first place-are about and should focus on so much more than having an "up-to-date" code of conduct. The elements are, in order of importance:

(1) providing prompt, professional and confidential advice and guidance; (2) providing ethics education; (3) regulating and maintaining public disclosures (transparency); and (4) investigating and enforcing ethics and campaign financing violations.

And, I emphasize, that last element is far from the most important. Yet in Chicago, and some other jurisdictions, it has interestingly become the bellwether for how the media, and, supposedly, the public, view the effectiveness of an ethics program.

Investigating and enforcing ethics and campaign finance violations is far from the most important element of the board's work? That says it all, doesn't it? Much more important to, say, provide an ethics education to those who either aren't going to stray in the first place or are going to stray anyway. Here's your ethics education: Don't lie or cheat. Don't use public office for personal gain. Do the right thing. Done.

We have learned that ethics programs cannot be measured by the number of investigations conducted by ethics commissions, inspectors general or the number of governmental personnel indicted and convicted by federal prosecutors.

Maybe in Mayberry, but this is Chicago. Unfortunately, that remains the most important metric.

Governmental ethics programs are not about putting people in jail. They are about training and encouraging government personnel to recognize and deal responsibly and professionally with conflicts of interests that inevitably arise in a complex institution like a municipal corporation with tens of thousands of employees and officials performing hundreds of tasks. The Board of Ethics, the Legislative Inspector General, and indeed, the (Executive) Inspector General are not criminal prosecutors. When, in the course of our work, we come to a reasonable belief that criminal activity has occurred, we are required to suspend our work and refer the matter to state or federal prosecutors. In fact, this has occurred on numerous occasions since I have been in the office.

Name them.

I am proud to say that, in the 2 most critical pillars - advice and guidance, and education - the City of Chicago excels.

If your advice, guidance and education excel so much, why do so many city employees still get busted? After all, isn't that the first metric to use when assessing how well you are educating and advising?

Our advisory function is so important that, without it, experts recognize, no ethics program can hope to succeed. In fact, I am often asked, waggishly, "how do you keep the City of Chicago ethical?" My answer, developed after about 15 years on the job: as long as people continue to contact our office and seek advice about the responsible, "ethical" thing to do, we will tell them and keep them "ethical."

And by that measure, you are winning, because there is no more "ethical" city in the country than Chicago.

The Board is the only agency in City government (aside from the Police Department, of course) with the authority to investigate all 53 elected officials and all employees from both branches of government.

And yet, investigations are "far from the most important" function of the board. Neat how that worked out.

[O]ur annual mandatory training program has seen resounding success. The City has achieved 100% compliance every year since mandatory annual ethics training began.

This is typical bureaucrat thinking. Maybe the process of delivering annual ethics training is a success, but is the result? Resoundingly, no.

[Enforcement and Investigations], unfortunately, receives the most press, because it is inevitably tied to scandal, and some have been conditioned to believe that Chicago is inherently scandalous.

We've been brainwashed.

It is a constant cause of antagonism between the Board of Ethics and the media, as the Board does not and by law cannot participate in "gotcha" stories.

We need to stop "getting" them!

[T]his area is not where the Board and City's ethics program make their mark. As cityethics.org commentator and author Rob Wechsler puts it: "enforcement is not an ethics program's principal goal; prevention is."

And how is that working out for you? And isn't enforcement the best prevention?

[O]ur value to City government is primarily in preventing misconduct and conflicts of interests, not punishing it.

Maybe in fantasyland, but in Chicago the array of investigators already out there need all the help they can get; and besides the U.S. Attorney's Office, there's virtually no one. The Cook County State's Attorney's Office takes a pass, as does the state attorney general. As the bros say, go big or go home.

We would hope that an employee or official who settles a matter, perhaps with a fine or other sanction, would be seen as someone who learns from his mistakes, rather than as just another corrupt Chicago pol who then becomes the focus of ridicule and cynicism in the media.

Right. From now on we'll frame these stories as "learning experiences."

*

Here are the board members.

*

The board calls on the media to stop calling it a "do-nothing" agency.

*

Look, if your most important mission is training and advising, shouldn't you just work in the city's HR department? Let's abolish the ethics board, send a few of your staffers to HR, and give the city's inspector general everything he needs to get the job done.

*

And if you want to be taken seriously, you can't pull crap like this.

*

Step back, ethics board. If everyone thinks you're a joke, maybe you should reflect upon the fact that everybody might be right and your view from the inside might be incredibly insular.

Fantasy Fix: Top 20 QBs
Martz still holding Cutler back.

Prized Poetry
Crash test dummies and close shaves.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Educating and advising.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:44 AM | Permalink

Fantasy Fix: Top 20 QBs

The 2011-12 football season was not a good one for many quarterbacks not named Rodgers, Brady, Brees or Newton.

For some, the problems stemmed from injuries and missed games (or missed seasons). For others, the season began with confirmation that they had starting jobs, but ended prematurely in demotion.

All of this made it a difficult season for fantasy owners to navigate. Now, a new season finds predictable names among the top-ranked QBs, but a host of others looking to rebound from injuries and other disappointments.

My top 20 QBs:

1. Aaron Rodgers, GB: You should well know by now of my man-crush on Rodgers. Nothing changes this year, as he'll again be the best QB - if not the pass yardage or TD leader.

2. Tom Brady, NE: Could have his best season since 2007-08, when he had 50 TDs, not that I'm unimpressed by 5,235 passing yards last year.

3. Drew Brees, NO: Another yardage beast with all his toys and a new contract in place, but missing his suspended head coach.

4. Cam Newton, CAR: Sure, he could sink under pressure to repeat his rookie feats, but the dual-threat posed by throwing arm and legs is what we call fantasy football gold.

5. Matthew Stafford, DET: If he stays in good health, he has the stuff to jump ahead of the big three in both TDs and passing yards.

6. Michael Vick, PHI: The Eagles' offense was a huge bust in 2011, but Vick still has three great receivers in DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin and Brent Celek, and he can still run.

7. Tony Romo, DAL: I've always been unimpressed by Romo's fumbles, late-game mistakes and general inconsistency, but he managed the highest QB rating in his career last season, and I think Dez Bryant will be a star receiver.

8. Eli Manning, NYG: Nothing to prove, not very glitzy, and like Romo can go from brilliant to bad quickly, but he piled up just under 5,000 yards last year and with his great receivers can blow past it this year.

9. Peyton Manning, DEN: I have him ranked higher than most, and critics say he has nothing but no-name receivers to work with, but he's made a career out of turning no-names into stars.

10. Matt Ryan, ATL: Suffered from high expectations in 2011, but rallied as the season went on, and has posted higher yardage and TD numbers each of the last three seasons.

11. Jay Cutler, CHI: I really wanted to put Cutler in my top 10, and believe he has ideal targets in Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery. He could be poised for career highs in TDs and yardage, but the offensive line still looks bad, and thanks to Mike Martz, he won't have an experienced tight end who can catch.

12. Robert Griffin III, WAS: With Newton's and Tebow's rookie antics last year, I'm as ready as anyone else to believe RG3 is the next ready-made pro. Like Newton, his effectiveness as a dual-threat could make him a starter in the deepest leagues before the year is done.

13. Philip Rivers, SD: Incredibly disappointing last season, with interceptions and fumbles ruining high-yardage games. He still leads a potent offense, which is why some will rank him as high as seven or eight among QBs, but there's too much risk for me.

14. Ben Roethlisberger, PIT: Already the subject of injury talk, and he threw 14 INTs last season, but Big Ben is a reliable fantasy backup or No. 2 in two-QB leagues.

15. Matt Schaub, HOU: Coming back from injury, he could either surge and become a top 5 QB this season, or might just fall flat with top target Andre Johnson's career fading rapidly.

16. Andy Dalton, CIN: With injuries to many QBs last year, he turned into a workmanlike fantasy starter, delivering decent points week to week without much down side.

17. Andrew Luck, IND: I wouldn't mind picking him up for the second string if my No. 1 QB is among the top five on this list. Could be a surprise if Colts keep things simple for him.

18. Carson Palmer, OAK: He didn't do much in 10 games last season, but has the targets in front of him to be a 4,000-yard 25-TD QB again.

19. Josh Freeman, TAM: Much-hyped at this time last year, he was a huge bust. Still, I'd be willing to gamble my backup slot on him.

20. Joe Flacco, BAL: Another no-glitz choice who should provide reliable numbers, though most of those numbers were down last year, except fumbles - 11, six of which were lost.

Sleeper Pick: Matt Flynn, SEA: Free from being backup to Aaron Rodgers, he's now fighting Tarvaris Jackson and Russell Wilson for a starting job. At times, he's looked like a young Brady, and has intriguing talent in his receiver corps. If he wins the job soon, he could be a late-round pick in many leagues.

QB Most Likely Drafted Despite Not Being A Starter: Tim Tebow, NYJ: It's still a mystery how often the Jets will use Tebow, but they reportedly have been working on wildcat scenarios. I'm guessing Tebow will go in the last round in many leagues, though if he somehow becomes the starter, he could become a top 20 QB. It doesn't matter how he gets the fantasy points - running or passing - just that he gets them.

Expert Wire
* SB Nation eyes a wildcat sighting in New York.

* Pro Football Weekly ranks Newton ahead of Brady and Luck above Cutler. Shocking.

* Bleacher Report weighs the prospects for Luck and Griffin.

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

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:59 AM | Permalink

Prized Poetry

The Poetry Foundation and Poetry magazine are proud to announce the winners of eight awards for contributions to Poetry over the past year. The prizes are awarded for poems and prose published during the past 12 months, from October 2011 to September 2012.

* The Levinson prize, presented annually since 1914 through the generosity of the late Salmon O. Levinson and his family, in the amount of $500, is awarded to Dean Young for his poems "Handy Guide," "Crash Test Dummies of an Imperfect God, and "Dear Bob," in the November 2011 issue; "Spring Reign" in the February 2012 issue; and "Peach Farm" in the June 2012 issue. Young's most recent book is Fall Higher (Copper Canyon Press, 2011). A collection of new and selected poems, Bender, is forthcoming.

* The Bess Hokin Prize, established in 1948 through the generosity of Poetry's late friend and guarantor Mrs. David Hokin, in the amount of $1,000, is awarded to Linda Kunhardt for her poems "Indian Winter," "Road Work," "Clifton Webb," "The Jingle," and "More Juice Please" in the December 2011 issue. Kunhardt has worked in schools in New York and New Hampshire. She was recently an AmeriCorps member in its Victim Assistance Program. She lives in Center Sandwich, New Hampshire.

* The Frederick Bock Prize, founded in 1981 by friends in memory of the former associate editor of Poetry, in the amount of $500, is awarded to Ange Mlinko for her poem "Cantata for Lynette Roberts" in the October 2011 issue. Mlinko's most recent book of poetry is Shoulder Season (Coffee House Press, 2010). She teaches at the University of Houston.

* The J. Howard and Barbara M.J. Wood Prize, endowed since 1994, in the amount of $5,000, is awarded to Eduardo Corral for his poems "To the Angelbeast" and "To Robert Hayden" in the December 2011 issue and "In Colorado My Father Scoured and Stacked Dishes" in the April 2012 issue. Carl Phillips selected Corral's first book, Slow Lightning (Yale University Press, 2012), as the 2011 winner of the Yale Series of Younger Poets competition.

* The John Frederick Nims Memorial Prize For Translation, established in 1999 by Bonnie Larkin Nims, trustees of the Poetry Foundation, and friends of the late poet, translator, and editor, in the amount of $500, is awarded to Peter Cole for his translation portfolio "The Poetry of Kabbalah" in the March 2012 issue. Cole's The Poetry of Kabbalah: Mystical Verse from the Jewish Tradition was published in March 2012 by Yale University Press.

* The Friends of LIterature Prize, established in 2002 by the Friends of Literature, in the amount of $500, is awarded to Devin Johnston for his poems in the May 2012 issue, "New Song" and "A Close Shave." Johnston's most recent books are Traveler: Poems (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2011) and Creaturely and Other Essays (Turtle Point, 2009). He is an editor for Flood Editions.

* The Editors Prize for Feature Article, established in 2005, in the amount of $1,000, is awarded to Mary Ruefle for her essays in the June 2012 and July/August 2012 issues, "On Fear" and "I Remember, I Remember." Ruefle's latest book of poetry is Selected Poems (Wave Books, 2010). Her collected lectures, Madness, Rack and Honey, were published by Wave in August 2012.

* The Editors Prize for Reviewing, established in 2004, in the amount of $1,000, is awarded to Adam Kirsch for his review of The Letters of T.S. Eliot, Volume 1 and 2 in the January 2012 issue. Kirsch is a senior editor at the New Republic. He is the author of Invasions: Poems (Ivan R. Dee, 2008) and, most recently, Why Trilling Matters (Yale University Press, 2011).

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The prizes are organized and administered by the Poetry Foundation in Chicago, publisher of Poetry magazine.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:11 AM | Permalink

August 14, 2012

The [Tuesday] Papers

Bits, pieces.

1. United Welcomes Olympic Athletes To O'Hare With Super-Exciting Water Cannon Salute!

Next time try shooting the Spice Girls out of those cannons; then you'd have something.

2. Investors Would Like To Aim Water Cannons At Groupon.

And then themselves.

3. CPD Would Like To Aim Cannons At CeaseFire, No Water Necessary.

Rahm-backed publicity stunt won't end well; might as well bring the Spice Girls in.

4. A 22-year-old Dallas woman was reportedly shot to death in her seventh-floor room at the fancy schmancy Whitehall Hotel on the Gold Coast.

5. "Army Spc. Lenette Tidwell of Chicago, an administrative specialist with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 405th Brigade Support Battalion out of North Riverside, Ill., carefully places chicken in hot oil under the watchful eye of Botswana Defense Force Head Chef Sgt. Gabobotswe Segoebe."

6. Cubs fans rejoice at the misfortune of other.

7. Toronto wants to get back together with us.

But it's also seeing three other cities.

8. Remembering Vonski.

A tribute to Chicago jazz legend Von Freeman.

9. The Cub Factor: Unwatchable.

You're losing us, Theo.

10. Smell Like A Superhero.

Scent wars.

11. Chicagoetry: Groovy Times.

When the blowtorch breaks.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Rats, cages.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:31 AM | Permalink

Unwatchable

The Cubs clubbed the Houston Astros last night at Wrigley Field but consider that the Astros have ten more losses this season than our hapless Scrubbies. That's not much fun to watch, and in fact, it's not even fun to pay attention to with a modicum of hope for the future anymore since the trade deadline fiasco that delivered middling prospects to Class A and not much else. You're losing us, Theo.

We get the whole "get worse to get better" thing, but if the "better" is a huge bet that today's prospects will become tomorrow's superstars in . . . 2015 and counting, we're gonna need to see more than balls rolling between Starlin Castro's legs sandwiched by Brett Jackson's strikeouts. Are we truly any better off than when we started the season? It would be a lot easier to believe in the plan if Alfonso Soriano wasn't still starting every game in left field.

You can build for the future while remaining competitive - or at least simply respectful of your paying customers - at the major league level. That's what good organizations do. The free pass is just about expired.

The Week in Review: The Cubs were swept by the Padres and lost three of four to the Reds to compile a nifty 1-6 mark for the week. Frankly, nobody cares anymore but it is interesting that a team that went 15-10 in July looks totally deflated and significantly outmanned since the trade deadline deals that have us hoping that one day Christian Villanueva will be the third baseman we once hoped Josh Vitters would be.

The Week in Preview: Two more against the Astros, and then three in Cincinnati. Tonight's tilt is Cubs Replica Cap Night, by the way, which means you'll get a pristine cap unmarred by the dirt that hustling can accumulate in a size fit for a growing youngster whose brain hasn't come in yet.

The Second Basemen Report: Darwin Barney got all seven starts last week. He may be playing Gold Glove defense, but his OBP is .312. I wonder where in the lineup he would hit in "the real world."

In former second basemen news, Jeff Baker failed to get the job done last night for the Tigers in their 9-3 loss to the Twins when he pinch-hit with two on and left them there. He was then inserted into right field. He is missed.

The Not So Hot Corner: Unlike Anthony Rizzo, who wasn't called up until he - and his service time - was just right, Vitters is here and set to get an extended look-see. No doubt, Luis Valbuena has been one ugly mo-fo at third, and wildly undisciplined at the plate, but his RISP is awesome, and that's why we here call him Clutch. He will be missed.

Weekly Bunting Report: We're not entirely sure - having stopped paying such close attention to Iowa Cubs traveling all-stars now ensconsed at Wrigley (are the real Cubs on a circus trip?) - but we think Dale has pretty much given up on the whole bunting thing at this point. (The real Iowa Cubs, by the way, are 44-76 and have lost 23 of 28.)

The Zam Bomb: Big Z got a win a relief last week, but we're pretty sure he wasn't happy about it.

zam_gettingAngry.jpg

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Endorsement No-Brainer: Cubs pitching for Paul Ryan. Ryan wants to kill you soon by taking away your Medicare; Cubs pitching wants to kill you now just for watching.

Ameritrade Stock Pick of the Week: Empty Seats are trading lower on all exchanges because, well, they're empty.

Sink or Sveum: 32% Analytical, 68% Emotional. Dale doesn't move the needle this week because his emotional response to having such a worse team now than when he started this crappy season has been neatly balanced by his additional intellectual energy in trying to construct a lineup that won't be disallowed by Major League Baseball as a farce. 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 barely thinking clearly.

manson.jpgneck.jpg jordi.jpgdata.jpg

And just like your thought-to-be level-headed uncle, Dale has found that is once strong opposition to prescription drugs has melted away under the need for some secret self-medicating. Hey, as long as he shows up to work every day, nobody's the wiser.

Over/Under: The number of prospects in the Cubs system who will one day become major league impact players: +/- 1.5.

Don't Hassle the Hoff: Micah Hoffpauir's numbers are very similar to those of Darwin Barney, so what's the 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 charging major league ticket prices for this mess is almost illegal.

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

The White Sox Report: Know the enemy.

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Contact The Cub Factor!

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:19 AM | Permalink

Smell Like A Superhero

"Hulk actually smells a lot better than most people think."


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See also: The Rockin' Comics YouTube channel.

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Comments welcome.


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:06 AM | Permalink

Remembering Vonski

"They said I played out of tune, played a lot of wrong notes, a lot of weird ideas. But it didn't matter, because I didn't have to worry about the money - I wasn't making (hardly) any. I didn't have to worry about fame - I didn't have any. I was free."

Chicago jazz legend Von Freeman died Saturday of heart failure. Here's a roundup of some beautiful remembrances and some essential video.

*

"Revered around the world but never a major star, worshipped by critics and connoisseurs but perpetually strapped for cash, the towering Chicago tenor saxophonist Von Freeman practically went out of his way to avoid commercial success," Howard Reich writes for the Tribune.

"When trumpeter Miles Davis phoned Freeman, in the 1950s, looking for a replacement for John Coltrane, Freeman never returned the call.

"When various bandleaders - from Davis to Billy Eckstine to King Kolax - tried to take him on the road, where his talents could be heard coast to coast, Freeman regularly turned them down. His refusal to leave Chicago during most of his career, except for the briefest out-of-town engagements, cost him incalculable fame and fortune but also enabled him to create some of the most distinctive, innovative work ever played or recorded on a tenor saxophone . . .

"Von Freeman always considered his relative obscurity - which lasted nearly until the final years of his career, when the world started to recognize his genius - a blessing. It enabled him to forge an extremely unusual but instantly recognizable sound, to pursue off-center musical ideas that were not likely to be welcomed in the commercial marketplace."

*

"Born Oct. 3, 1923, Mr. Freeman's father was a Chicago policeman and amateur jazz trombonist who worked near the old Grand Terrace Ballroom at 35th Street and Calumet Avenue," Chuck Sudo writes for Chicagoist.

"Through his father, Mr. Freeman's early exposure to jazz was directly from the stars of the day: Louis Armstrong, Fats Waller and Earl 'Fatha' Hines. Mr. Freeman was playing professionally at the age of 12 and, like many outstanding local jazz players of his day, honed his musical skills under Captain Walter Dyett at DuSable High School. Dyett's students are a litany of jazz legends: Dinah Washington, Nat King Cole, Johnny Hartman, Gene Ammons, Johnny Griffin and Clifford Jordan were among Dyett's students

"After a period of service in the Navy during World War II, Mr. Freeman returned to Chicago and developed a saxophone style that became known as the 'Chicago style' of jazz. Inspired by all the gigs he played at the time, his style was equal parts improvisation and intensity, rooted in blues and hard bop. The late saxophonist Fred Anderson said you knew immediately it was Mr. Freeman playing the moment he blew his first note."

*

"Over the last 40 years, Freeman had become known as the indefatigable patron saint of Chicago jazz who, through his storied jam sessions at the New Apartment Lounge, acted as de facto tutor to three generations of Chicago jazz musicians," Neil Tesser writes for the Examiner.

"He was also the surviving head of Chicago's First Family of Jazz; his younger brother, guitarist George, survives him, while their eldest sibling, drummer Eldridge (known as 'Bruz'), died in 2006.

"The subject of countless articles that celebrated his musical freedom, his buoyant personality, and his ability (at an age when most people are long retired) to outplay artists half his age, Freeman was a musical typhoon, raining down extravagant and voluminous torrents of notes. His solos were profligate, not neat: they exploded with gale force from the stage, looping back upon themselves, whipped by creative winds that only seemed to flag in the last couple of years."

*

"Von was absolutely unique, as a saxophonist and as a person," Sean Carroll writes for Discover.

"As a musician he managed to intermingle an astonishing variety of styles, from classic ballads to bebop all the way to free jazz, with more than a few things you would never hear anywhere else. Some thought that his playing was an acquired taste, full of skronks and trills and lighting-fast tempo changes. But once you 'got it,' you could hear something in Von that you just couldn't hear anywhere else. This isn't just formerly-local pride talking; when John Coltrane left Miles Davis's band in the 1950′s, Miles tried to get Von to replace him. But Von never left Chicago for more than a few days at a time.

"As a person, Von was charming, roguish, stubborn, warm, irascible, and utterly compelling. Sometimes on stage he would get in the mood for talking instead of playing, and honestly it was hard to tell which you preferred. The wisecracks, the wisdom, the Billie Holiday stories, all mixed with the smoke and the cheap beer to create an unforgettable atmosphere."

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The Tribune's Essential Von Freeman Recordings.

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NEA Jazz Masters Tribute: "With his individual sound, at once husky and melodic, he makes every song his own."

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Doin' It Right Now, 1972.

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Belgium, 1992.

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Berlin, 2002.

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At the New Apartment Lounge in 2009.

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At Taste of Chicago in 2009.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:16 AM | Permalink

August 13, 2012

SportsMonday: The Seinfeld Olympics

I tried. I tried to take satisfaction from the final of the men's metric mile (4 X 400) relay a few nights ago. Likable underdog the Bahamas pulled it out for the country's first-ever Olympic gold medal and it was the sort of story that I would imagine a mature viewer of the Olympics could enjoy without reservation.

But at this point, ensconced as I am in middle age, I still can't do it. I still care almost 100 percent about whether the team from the USA has done all it can. And in this event, the good old red, white and blue came up historically short.

It all goes to the overall experience of the London Olympics, which came to an end on Sunday with a big event featuring the Spice Girls (!) among others.

Just about everyone was so happy that the Games went as smoothly as they did with no major security breaches that they gushed about the closing ceremonies despite the prominent role for the, well, let's just say slightly over-hyped pop music phenomenon who had mercifully broken up for years before re-uniting recently.

And that is definitely enough about music.

We return now as quickly as possible to the assessment of a fan's perception of these Games. A part of me has always believed that at some point I would gain a broader perspective regarding sports. I would finally find a way to not care quite as much if a bunch of overpaid professional athletes (and everyone at these games was professional except for Missy Franklin, the awesome 17-year-old four-gold-medalist swimmer who has spurned hundreds of thousands of dollars in sponsorships in order to stay eligible for future scholastic and collegiate competition) came up short.

But it isn't happening. I know that a decent amount of the time, I'm rooting for clothes, as Jerry Seinfeld so memorably put it.

Still, I care intensely about games in which Chicago teams are competing and barely at all about ones in which they aren't. Part of this is that we are spoiled around here; we always have a team to root for no matter the season.

And so when I watch the Olympics, I feel the same way about events in which the U.S. has a chance to win. Other stuff? Not so much.

As for that track event, the heavily favored American team took a three- or four-meter lead into the anchor lap but Angelo Taylor, who was only in the race because numerous top U.S. quarter-milers had suffered recent injuries, couldn't hold on down the stretch. Ramon Miller passed him and held on for a glorious victory for the Bahamas.

At that point I wasn't thinking about that at all. I was thinking about the fact that the last time the U.S. hadn't won the metric mile relay was way back in 1980. And they only lost that year because they didn't contest it at the boycotted Moscow Olympics. Before that, the U.S. had won every mile relay ever contested at the Summer Games. Argh.

So congrats to the Bahamas.

And to the U.S. men's track and field team, which didn't have the greatest Olympics ever, let's try to develop a little more quarter-miler depth, eh?

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

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:49 AM | Permalink

The [Monday] Papers

"Motorola Mobility is laying off about 700 employees in the Chicago area, representing about 23 percent of its local workforce, as part of broader job cuts and restructuring measures announced Monday," the Tribune reports.

"After the local layoffs, Motorola Mobility will employ about 2,300 people in Libertyville and Chicago, Motorola Mobility spokeswoman Jennifer Erickson said. The Libertyville-based smartphone maker is laying off 20 percent of its 20,000-strong global workforce, affecting 4,000 employees worldwide, Google Inc. disclosed Monday in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The Mountainview, Calif.-based search giant acquired Motorola Mobility in May for $12.9 billion.

"The disclosure comes less than one month after Motorola Mobility and Mayor Rahm Emanuel made a high-profile announcement about the company moving its headquarters and 3,000 employees from Libertyville to the Merchandise Mart in 2013."

But because the company hasn't been outwardly against gay marriage, Emanuel proclaimed them still a symbol of Chicago values.

*

"T]he mayor said the timing of the layoff announcement is not an embarrassment for his administration or a setback in efforts to build a tech hub downtown."

Dear Tribune reporters: You actually got Rahm on the phone and the best question you could think to ask was if this was an embarrassment?

"Why yes, Tribune, this is a terrific embarrassment to me and to the city, I'm so glad you asked. I will be available for flogging at Daley plaza at noon."

A spokesman for the mayor then sent the Tribune a statement via e-mail which the paper deemed worthy of publishing:

"We expect them to create thousands of jobs in Chicago over time. This is a change to get the company moving in the right direction, but this is a long-term relationship and we're looking forward to many years of job growth, innovation and advancement from the company."

Right. Thousands of jobs. In the unicorn division.

"Motorola Mobility, the ailing cellphone maker that Google bought in May, told employees Sunday that it would lay off 20 percent of its work force and close a third of its 94 offices worldwide," the New York Times reports.

Those jobs aren't coming back any time soon, if ever.

"[S]ome analysts wonder whether Google can succeed in the brutally competitive, low-margin cellphone business," the Times says.

"Ninety percent of the profits in the smartphone space are going to Apple and Samsung, and everyone else from Motorola to RIM to LG to Nokia are picking up the scraps of that 10 percent," said Charlie Kindel, a former manager at Microsoft who writes about the mobile industry. "There's no real sign that's changing anytime soon."

That's business. But . . .

"Last year, Motorola Mobility agreed to retain a local workforce of 2,500 and make $600 million in investments in exchange for tax credits of more than $10 million a year for 10 years. The layoffs announced on Monday will drop Motorola Mobility's Chicago-area workforce below the 2,500-worker threshold needed to qualify for state incentives."

At least those incentives disappear. But oh, but I remember the glory days:

"Illinois will spend $10 million a year over the next decade to keep Motorola Mobility Holdings Inc.'s phone business headquartered in Libertyville," Crain's reported just 15 months ago.

"The cell-phone maker agreed to keep 3,000 jobs here, including about 200 workers in a design center in the Loop. The decision by CEO Sanjay Jha to stay in Illinois ends months of speculation over whether Illinois would lose one of its few large technology company headquarters.

"Gov. Pat Quinn defended the move: 'It's important for Illinois to have a world-class technology company and a brand the whole world knows. These are 3,000 high-paying jobs that are important to our state.'"

And then there was the breathless reporting just a few weeks ago that Chicago had cut Libertyville off at the knees. Yay!

"In an enormous win for downtown Chicago, Motorola Mobility Inc. is making it official, announcing this afternoon that it's moving its headquarters and 3,000 high-tech jobs to the Merchandise Mart," Greg Hinz wrote.

The truth is, though, that Motorola Mobility sucks. It's lost money 14 of the last 16 quarters and that's largely because they produce a terrible product. But that's their business, not Rahm's or Pat's. Let's keep the taxpayer - and the bravado of jobs-killing, taxpayer-subsidized relocations - out of it.

*

"If there's $6bn - or $6.5bn - of future profit lurking in MMI's handset and set-top box business, it's certainly well-hidden; the handset business, when profitable, made about $80m of profit per quarter, and the set-top box business $50m," the Guardian reports. "At that rate, clawing back the purchase cost would take 47 consecutive quarters, or just under 12 years. If the patents are overvalued, the payoff is even more distant."

Sears Is Still Around
"Shares of Sears Holding Corp. shot up more than 5 percent in early trading on Monday on documents the Hoffman Estates-based retailer filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission detailing its plans to spinoff its hardware and outlet stores," AP reports.

Yeah, that's probably not gonna work unless they bring back the Softer Side of Sears campaign and use it to market Sears Hardware at Night.

United Center Of Hell
United Airlines is moving its headquarters to The Tower Formerly Known As Sears.

"The fact that United has brought its company under one roof and extended their commitment to downtown is great news for all Chicagoans," Mayor Emanuel said in a statement.

Expect the layoff announcement in about six weeks.

Prison State
"Illinois prisons 'aren't country clubs,' Gov. Pat Quinn said Friday in rejecting the notion that news reporters should be allowed inside to see conditions in the crowded system for themselves," AP reports.

"Letting journalists visit the prisons is a security risk, the Chicago Democrat said, and taxpayers will have to trust his administration's experts on how the system is run.

"'That's my decision,' Quinn said."

Just trust the experts. That's always worked in the past.

*

"WBEZ Radio in Chicago and The Associated Press have asked to take a look inside the state's prisons after hearing years of complaints about overcrowding and understaffing, a watchdog group's reports last year of 'deplorable' living conditions at two lockups, and an employee union's worries about what it calls a 'rush' to close two facilities this month because of budget problems. Both have had requests denied.

"Corrections policy allows reporters to visit prisons with the director's approval, and media tours were fairly regular under previous administrations. On Friday, Quinn cited security concerns as reason for denying more recent requests.

"'Prisons aren't country clubs,' he said after cutting the opening-day ribbon for the Illinois State Fair in Springfield. 'They're not there to be visited and looked at.'"

In Illinois, secret prisons visit you.

The Seinfeld Olympics
Featuring the Spice Girls.

The Weekend In Chicago Rock
Guided by Voices, Olivia Newton-John, The Mighty Mighty Bosstones, The Handcuffs, The Wanton Looks, Hairlip, The Darlings and George Thorogood backed by The Destroyers played at venues near you. We have the video.

Danks You Very Much
Unexpected sibling heroics. In The White Sox Report.

The Cub Factor
Will appear on Tuesday this week.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Officer material.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:40 AM | Permalink

The Weekend in Chicago Rock

You shoulda been there.

1. Guided by Voices at the Metro on Saturday night.


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2. Olivia Newton-John at Northalsted Market Days on Sunday night.

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3. The Handcuffs at Northalsted Market Days on Saturday.

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4. The Spill Canvas at the Bottom Lounge on Saturday night.

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5. The Mighty Mighty Bosstones at the Metro on Friday night.

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6. The Wanton Looks at Northalsted Market Days on Saturday.

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7. The Darlings at Reggie's on Saturday night.

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8. Hairlips at Chicago City Limits on Schaumburg on Friday night.

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9. George Thorogood and the Destroyers at the House of Blues on Sunday night.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:10 AM | Permalink

He'll Be Back

When the season started it seemed as if John Danks - he of the huge new contract and implicit designation as staff ace - would be one of the major keys down the stretch if this team (implausibly) found itself in contention.

Instead, it's baby brother Jordan - at 26, he's 17 months the younger - who, at least for a week, proved pivotal while John was riding out the season on the DL.

Jordan's walk-off home run far into the right-field bleachers was the difference in Friday's 4-3 victory over Oakland. It was hella good timing as the Sox had just inexplicably dropped two of three to the Royals at the Cell, their their division lead over Detroit eroding to just one game. (The Tigers also won on Friday before dropping two straight - thank you very much! - over the weekend in Texas.) It was Danks' first major league dinger and it was a doozy.

But those Friday night heroics were not the only notable contribution Jordan Danks made last week.

In the previous Monday night's nail-biter against the Royals, the game was tied 2-2 in the eighth when Tony Abreu led off with a double against Chris Sale. Chris Getz followed with a hard single to center, where Danks was subbing for the ailing Alejandro De Aza. In one of those plays that doesn't show up in the box score, Danks charged the ball and came up throwing. Paul Konerko quickly got into position as the cutoff man and Danks hit him chest-high with a perfect strike. Abreu was held at third, and Getz retreated to first.

Even though this is the big leagues, a play like that is often mishandled. Either the outfielder doesn't handle the ball cleanly or makes a poor throw, or the first baseman is slow getting into position - as the mighty Albert Pujols was on a play in Game 6 of last year's World Series.

So Danks gave Sale a chance to work out of trouble. A fine catch by Alexei Ramirez followed by Sale's equally skilled play on an attempted safety squeeze bunt and then a strikeout of Lorenzo Cain, and the Sox had the momentum - Gordon Beckham homered in the bottom of the inning - to beat those pesky (to us, at least) Royals. It might not have happened without Danks making a perfect defensive play.

All of which earned Jordan Danks a ticket back to Charlotte on Sunday night.

Blame it on the elbow of the Royals' Jarrod Dyson, who clipped Konerko on a close play at first base in Tuesday night's 5-2 loss.

A woozy Paulie was placed on the newly-devised seven-day disabled list for concussed players, and the team brought up none other than Dewayne Wise, whom the organization recently re-signed after he was released by the Yankees, to fill Konerko's roster spot.

Like everyone else, I still smile when recalling Wise's spectacular catch that preserved Mark Buehrle's perfect game three years ago. It never gets old.

And I respect Wise, who at 34 has spent parts of 10 seasons in the majors with six different teams, never having been a regular. Talk about a survivor.

The Sox are out of options with Wise, so Danks became the odd man out when the team opted to dip into the farm system for additional pitching help - Hector Santiago Donnie Veal figures to get the call - for the seven-game road trip this week to Toronto and Kansas City.

We haven't seen the last of Jordan Danks, though. Purportedly he's the best outfielder in the system, and he patrolled both center and left admirably in his two-month stay. Here he is, for example, running down danger in Texas.

Furthermore, Danks seems to be maturing as a hitter, posting a .265 average in his abbreviated big league stint after hitting .302 at Charlotte.

So once the rosters are expanded on September 1, Danks will return to the South Side, poised for more heroics we thought would be reserved for his brother this year.

Sked Heds
The Sox have 49 games remaining, 23 at home and 26 on the road. Thanks to winning 15 of their last 20 home games, the team is now 32-26 at the Cell and 30-25 on the road.

Meanwhile, Detroit, which trails the Sox by three games in the loss column, plays 25 of its remaining 47 games at Comerica Park, where the Tigers have a 33-23 record. Of course, that speaks for itself, but the Tigers are beatable on the road with a 28-31 mark after dropping those two decisions over the weekend.

While the Sox tangle with the Blue Jays - still without the injured Jose Batista - Detroit will visit Minnesota for three games. In fact, the Tigers play the Twins nine more times this season. So far Detroit holds just a 5-4 edge over Minnesota, so one might expect that the lowly Twins will give Prince, Miggy, and the boys a run for their money starting this evening.

Detroit also has 10 games - six on the road - left against Kansas City, whom they have dominated by winning seven of eight so far this year. As Hawk Harrelson continually reminds his viewers, the Royals have been tough on the White Sox, holding a 5-4 advantage over our guys with nine games left to be played.

So while seven crucial games - three at Comerica and four at the Cell - remain between the Sox and Tigers, Kansas City will have a lot to say about who wins the Central Division.

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

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1. From Robert Anderson:

Re: Hawk

He is dour. A sourpuss. A killjoy. A wet blanket. He is like a bitter old grandma who spoils the fun at a family gathering. We have the best guys on the radio. Stoney is magnificent. Why do the Sox hold onto this guy? And he can only speak in cliches. Seems I have been listening to him for 30 years - since he did radio with the late great Don Drysdale. His time has come and gone.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:53 AM | Permalink

August 11, 2012

Chicagoetry: Groovy Times

Groovy Times

My favorite nanosecond every year
is the instant the goddam blowtorch breaks
and I can smell the first quarks of autumn.

The boiling blazes seem like forever
as they confound, conflate and constrict
from Memorial Day pretty much

through Lollapalooza.
You find yourself dazedly digging trenches
in your mind for a perpetual siege,
acceding to a scorched forever

and then the goddam blowtorch breaks.

I'm hip to "Autumn in New York," got respect.
But I venerate autumn in Chicago.
Illuminated trees, high-heeled boots,
traced-hand turkeys.

It's first, semi-secret Saturday morning
is a holy day.

My autumn in Chicago is "Groovy Times."

I bought that extended-play Clash 45
at Wax Trax records in Lincoln Park
some thirty years ago.

It contains that day.
it exudes that joy.
It confounds that fear,

all those broiling fears of youth,
that crippling desire, those exaggerated
intimations of doom,

that too-close hissing of an imposed blowtorch.
Now: the youth-tinged dusk,
the hissing vinyl, the shimmering harmonica

exude redemption.
Shattered fears, blistered presumptions,
eviscerated intimidations.

Again and again and again,
the goddam blowtorch breaks.
Some demon in the mind
will see to its repair

but in a nanosecond,
the fever breaks
and, though slowly, cooling winds
come to heal.

Even for just a nanosecond:

"Groovy Times"
forever more.

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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 1:01 PM | Permalink

The Weekend Desk Report

The Weekend Desk Report has been held together with this stuff for years.

Market Update
According to the USDA, this year has provided a brutal season for corn. Fortunately, it's also been a historically strong season for pure, unadulterated cheese.

Fall Previews
Sadly for the many fine talents involved, the economics of treating American viewers like complete idiots is about to change dramatically.

Mix And Match
Boring white guy Mitt Romney announced his pick for running mate this weekend, having used the popular Boring White Guys Who Look Most Like You app to narrow his search. Analysts suggest the lesser-known Boring White Guys Who Think Most Like You app may have been a better fit here.

Your Brain Is A Muscle
Apparently in Romney's world, when the phone rings at three in the morning, the president should be drunk on the couch, watching late-night TV with his credit card at the ready.

Not So Hastings . . .
Finally this week, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings has pledged his support for Facebook by purchasing $1 million of the company's troubled stock. Hasting has said he expects the stock to split soon, unless of course that starts to look like a colossal mistake.

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The Weekend Desk Tip Line: Colossal.

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The Sound Opinions Weekend Listening Report: "In part one of our series 1977: The Year Punk Broke, Jim and Greg explore the punk explosion in the U.K. with music writer Jon Savage. Later in the show, they review Researching the Blues, the new album from California rockers Redd Kross."

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.

Northwest Mental Healthcare Clinic Vigil

12-8-6-NWMental.jpg

Members of Occupy Chicago and former patients of a recently-closed mental health clinic hold a 24-hour vigil outside the facility, calling for Mayor Emanuel to reopen mental health centers across the city.

Saturday, August 11 at 11 a.m. on CAN TV21
30 min

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Green, Gorgeous And All Yours: Building A Custom Green Home

12-8-6-GreenHome.jpg

Lisa Elkins of 2 Point Perspective provides tips and resources for building a green home or remodeling an existing one to make it more eco-friendly.

Watch Online.

Sunday, August 12 at 9 a.m. on CAN TV21
2 hr

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Chicago-Area Arts Needs Study: Charting New Paths With Innovative Collaboration

12-8-6-ArtsNeeds.jpg

Researchers present a new study identifying the shared needs of arts organizations and offer solutions for them to remain relevant and sustainable in the future.

Watch Online.

Sunday, August 12 at 11 a.m. on CAN TV21
1 hr 30 min

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Peoples Hearing on Police Crimes

12-8-6-PeoplesCourt.jpg

Activists and community members kick off their campaign for an elected "Civilian Board of Control of the Police" to prevent instances of police violence.

Sunday, August 12 at 12:30 p.m. on CAN TV21
3 hr

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Town Hall Meeting: Chicago Cultural Plan 2012 Residents Provide Input on Draft

12-8-6-CulturalPlan.jpg

Michelle Boone, the Commissioner of Chicago's Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events, leads a town hall meeting seeking input from residents on the 2012 Cultural Plan.

Sunday, August 12 at 3:30 p.m. on CAN TV21
1 hr

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"Stop the Frack Attack on IL" Rally

12-8-6-Fracking.jpg

Southern Illinoisans Against Fracturing Our Environment calls for Illinois to ban hydraulic fracturing, which uses high-pressure water to harvest natural gas from deep underground.

Sunday, August 12 at 5 p.m. on CAN TV19

1 hr 30 min

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Chick-fil-A Controversy

12-8-9-Chik-Fil-A.jpg

Groups from both sides of the issue demonstrate in response to Chick-fil-A's CEO publicly opposing same-sex marriage.

Watch Online.

Sunday, August 12 at 6 p.m. on CAN TV19
9 min

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Arab Spring: Unfoldings, Refoldings

12-8-6-ArabSpring.jpg

Is Morocco a model for democratic change in the Middle East? Laila Lalami and Ahmed El Shamsy debate this question at a Renaissance Society public forum.

Sunday, August 12 at 7:30 p.m. on CAN TV21
1 hr


Posted by Natasha Julius at 9:52 AM | Permalink

August 10, 2012

The [Friday] Papers

Really jammed up this morning, just a few items and then we'll crank it back up next week.

1. "There was no Jay Cutler, no Matt Forte, no Brian Urlacher, no Julius Peppers and practically no offense for the Bears on Thursday night at Soldier Field," Joe Stevenson writes for the DeKalb Daily Chronicle in Whole Lot Of Nothing.

"Backup Jason Campbell started in place of Cutler and played the first quarter before Josh McCown took over. The offense gained only 41 yards in the first half and 132 for the game."

2. "[T]he way it's done in Chicago, the Chicago Way, is offensive and illegal," departing FBI bureau chief Robert Grant tells John Kass. "And after all these years doing these prosecutions, behavior hasn't modified significantly and won't change, until people start holding public officials to a much higher standard. There are aldermen who have networks of relationships, real estate firms, law firms, service firms, and you can't get a permit passed unless you do business with those entities connected to the family."

3. "Parking tickets revenues are a giant cash cow for the city, generating $154.4 million in annual revenue," Fran Spielman notes in the Sun-Times. "It's one of the biggest single sources of cash outside the city's annual property tax levy and revenue Chicago can ill afford to lose at a time when it's facing a $369 million budget shortfall."

The city wants you to violate parking rules! And so does Fran Spielman! The city's budget depends on it.

4. The Week in Chicago Rock.

5. Inside Rahm's Privatization Economic Team.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Jammy.


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:22 AM | Permalink

The Week in Chicago Rock

You shoulda been there.

1. Jason Ringenberg and Robbie Fulks at the Hideout on Monday night.


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2. Rufus Wainwright at the Vic on Wednesday night.

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3. Alexz Johnson at Schubas on Tuesday night.

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4. Jack White at Lollapalooza on Sunday night.

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5. Mona at Lollapalooza on Sunday.

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6. Oberhofer at Lollapalooza on Sunday.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:06 AM | Permalink

August 9, 2012

The Celluloid Ghosts Of The Chicago 8 To Haunt The 2012 Democratic Convention

The motion picture The Chicago 8, centered around famed political protestors Abbie Hoffman and Jerry Rubin, will premiere theatrically in North Carolina September 4, 2012, minutes away from the 2012 Democratic National Convention, at the EpiCentre Theater.

The movie is the true story from the notorious 1968 trial that resulted when seven leaders of a Vietnam anti-war movement, including Hoffman and Rubin, and a member of the Black Panthers, were charged with conspiracy to incite devastating riots in Chicago during the 1968 DNC.

Desperate to stop what they saw as an "immoral war," this group was ready to take on the establishment and express their freedom of speech by all means necessary while paying a price for their actions.

"With recent demonstrations on Wall Street and in the Middle East, The Chicago 8 is timely with its message of being non-apathetic and fearless when it comes to standing up for your rights," says director Pinchas Perry.

Gary Cole, familiar to film fans as Lumbergh in Office Space and Mr. Brady in The Brady Bunch Movie, portrays attorney William Kunstler.

"The content of the case is really interesting and unusual because of what it meant historically and the way it unfolded," Cole says. "It became kind of a circus. The usual decorum and tradition of a courtroom began to unravel, for many reasons, some of it having to do with the court itself deciding to play by its own rules, putting obstacles in the defense's way that were ruled to be illegal after the trial."

Winner of the Audience Choice Award for Best Feature Film at the 2011 Beverly Hills Film Festival, The Chicago 8 features a star-studded soundtrack with artists such as Bob Dylan and Jefferson Airplane.

The cast also includes Danny Masterson (That 70's Show, Men at Work), Mayim Bialik (The Big Bang Theory), Orlando Jones (also from Office Space), Thomas Ian Nicholas (American Reunion), Philip Baker Hall (the library detective from Seinfeld) and Steven Culp (The West Wing).

The movie also releases on Video on Demand September 4th, 2012.

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The movie's website.

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The trailer:

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 3:43 AM | Permalink

The Maxwell Street Market Vendors Association Wants You To Like Them

The New Maxwell Street Market, on Desplaines Avenue between Roosevelt and Polk, has been in decline for several years; fewer vendors and fewer shoppers.

Once the largest open-air market in Chicago, it had 1,200 vendors in 1994 in its original location. Now, on Desplaines, it has less than 100.

This has been caused by higher vendor fees; unnecessary expensive regulations, out of line with other outdoor markets in Chicagoland; city management unfriendly to the vendors; and city management disinterested in stemming the downward trend.

But the vendors have come to the rescue of the Market and formed the Maxwell Street Market Vendors Association. Their motto is "United in Justice, In Service to the Community, In Support to our Families."

The Association is multicultural and bilingual and is also known as El Maxwell Street Market Asociacion de Vendedores. The President is vendor David Petty, who is African American.

Their goals are to negotiate with the city to change the operation and structure of the Market and bring back its function as a business incubator, weekly multicultural celebration, and social safety net.

The Market is about half the size it can be. The Maxwell Street Market Vendors Association hopes that the Market could again provide a great opportunity for nascent entrepreneurs with few resources to test out their business ideas at low cost and be in an environment with other budding entrepreneurs who can provide advice and support.

Maxwell Street provided a step-up on the ladder towards economic well-being for my ancestors. It can do it again for Chicagoans who do not have a foothold. It seems morally reprehensible that, with the unemployment rate more than 20% on the South and West Sides, the New Maxwell Street Market should have so much empty space. Families could be eating better and kids could have an alternative to crime and violence.

The city will not negotiate with the Maxwell Street Market Vendors Association unless the Association can show community support. They have endorsements from U.S. Congressman Danny Davis and Ald. Bob Fioretti, each of whom has the Market in their constituency. Now the Association needs your support. Please "Like" them on Facebook and ask your friends to do so too.

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Roosevelt University professor Steve Balkin is an advisor to the New Maxwell Street Vendors Association.

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Previously:
* The Maxwell Street Muddle.

* Maxwell Street Malfeasance.

* City Needs New Policy For The Maxwell Street Market: An Open Letter To Mayor-Elect Emanuel.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 3:25 AM | Permalink

TrackNotes: Corruption At Calder - And Why It Matters In Chicago

My intensifying moral and ethical dilemma between enjoying one of the world's greatest of sports and rejecting it outright as the multilayered cesspool it has become is well documented here.

It's such a tangled mess that it's difficult, if not impossible, to know where to start. And then comes along a blockbuster like the one from Michael E. Miller of Miami's New Times documenting the utter corruption at Calder Casino and Race Course in Miami Gardens, Florida, located between Ft. Lauderdale and Miami, and you just want to give up.

Activities so heinous, not even Undercover Boss can handle the truth.

Keep in mind Calder is owned by Churchill Downs Inc., also the owner of our beloved Arlington Park.

Writes Miller:

"At tracks across the nation, a dark cloud of doping accusations hangs over the sport. Top trainers are routinely suspended for injecting animals with strange cocktails, including cobra venom and frog poison. The drugs mask the animals' injuries, which cause horses to break down and die on live television. Not even prestigious races such as the Preakness Stakes and the Kentucky Derby are free of suspicion.

"Calder shows exactly why. Records reveal dozens of cases of horse doping. Two ongoing lawsuits claim course officials conspired to steal horses, rig races, and ban anyone who raised objections. In May, three men connected to the track were sentenced to federal prison for running a $5 million scheme out of Calder for more than a decade."

Let's start with trainer the dark arts perfected by trainer Kirk Ziadie.

"Like other states, Florida permits trace amounts of medications in a horse's system, MIller writes. "Ziadie's thoroughbreds, though, began routinely exceeding those limits in 2004. That year, three of his animals tested positive for drugs: twice after winning and once after finishing second. Despite netting $27,130 from the three suspect results, Ziadie was fined only $1,100 and suspended for 15 days.

"A pattern quickly emerged. In 2005, two more of Ziadie's horses won, only to fail post-race tests. The trainer was fined just $550 and allowed to keep more than $20,000 in purse money. Then, in 2006, seven of his horses flunked tests, most of them for high levels of a powerful anti-inflammatory called phenylbutazone, commonly known as 'bute.' One horse, a filly named Rgirldoesn'tbluff, won a race worth $24,000 before testing positive for excessive bute. Ziadie was fined $1,000."

More chilling are the tales told in anonymous letters received by the Division of Pari-Mutuel Wagering in July 2009.

"[Zaidie] come[s] late at night when no one is there to give his 'vitamins," one letter began. "He carries a black briefcase and sometimes he takes the needles out of it to inject the horses."

Florida state racing authorities opened an investigation; the informant pleaded for anonymity, writing that "[Zaidie] is crazy and capable of killing me or paying someone else to do it for him."

Miller reports what happened next:

"Incredibly, state regulators closed their case against Ziadie a few months later when the informant abruptly disappeared. Even more outrageous: Despite 38 drug violations in less than five years, Ziadie never returned a cent of the more than $10 million his horses won. State law allows the Department of Business and Professional Regulation to reclaim winnings after tainted races, but the agency simply never asked. Instead, it fined Ziadie a total of $13,100 - less than the prize for a single race

Ziadie claimed other trainers jealous of his success were merely ganging up on him: "Look at Michael Jordan or Kobe Bryant," Ziadie told Miller. "Any time you do anything in life and you are successful, they are always going to try to bring you down."

Besides Calder being a sister track to Arlington under Churchill Downs, Inc., this putrid story has another Chicago connection: Ziadie's main owner is none other than Chicago's own Frank Calabrese.

Frank is basically persona non grata in these parts. Never mind any potential skulduggery. But he skewed the competitive and wagering nature of races here by perfecting the practice of taking a $35,000-level horse and dropping him into a $10,000 claiming race, all in the selfish pursuit of wins and the meet title. He did it for years in Chicago.

Miller also reports that the late Bob Umphrey, one-time racing secretary at Calder, is alleged to have secretly owned horses and bet on races. The racing secretary is the official who writes the races: determines the competitive levels of horses he has on the grounds and how often they've run and creates race conditions for those horses to fill each card.

And guess what?

"'For big races with lots of money in them, the officials actually set up the race ahead of time,' claims Gabriel Myatt, a former jockey and security guard at Calder. 'They pick the horses, then they set up the odds and tell the jockeys: You are fourth, you are fifth, and so on. If you're a jockey and you listen, you might make some extra money. If you don't listen to them, you don't get paid and you get blackballed.'"

Add in the alleged use of electric buzzers to stimulate horses during races, a $5 million side scheme for payments and kickbacks for goods and services that weren't delivered, and outright horse thievery, and you've got one peachy situation down there at Calder.

* * *

What does this all mean as we await the year's biggest card, Arlington Million Day, at Chicago's racing palace on August 18?

Well, Calder is in the Arlington family. If the corporation takes the profits as one entity and the family shows a disturbing lack of institutional control that serves to defraud the public, you must be appalled. You disassociate.

I haven't played Calder since my OTB closed and I didn't play it much then. It was truly a dart-throwing proposition, but there were often big scores. When you had a bunch of $6,500 claimers who basically took turns beating up on each other, it was always, Which one feels better today? You know what that means. Odds were tilted toward the dirty trainers.

In my evolution in the game and in the interest of full disclosure, I will tell you I have had fun playing a little Saratoga and other major individual stakes races this summer. We recently had the Haskell Invitational and Whitney Stakes, and the Travers Stakes is in two weeks.

I rationalize by figuring these are the biggest races of the summer and the purse money is too large to fool around with. Delusional? Yes, but less so.

As for the game itself, you wonder if this story will go viral. In the old, old days, individual tracks could get away with anything. Who would know? But doesn't racing understand the Internet and simulcast age. I'd love to see this story get some mainstream coverage.

As hurtful as it would be, maybe it would be the rock bottom racing needs to admit it has a problem and do something about it.

But then, there will be Nittany Lions on the gridiron this fall; Barry Bonds' records still stand; and the Obamas and Emanuels of the world still roam.

So I guess I'll just look up the local chapter of CorruptionAnon, the organization for those who have to live amongst the moral turpitude.

Barn Dance
In what is a savvy publicity stunt that will be swallowed by many, the New York Racing Association will institute added measures to "assure" barn security in the days leading up to the Travers.

The rules will be a little less disruptive than those enforced when I'll Have Another's cheat trainer Doug O'Neill gave NYRA the heebie jeebies before the Belmont and those horses were put on double not-so-secret probation and moved to a separate barn about 100 hours before the race. And O'Neill was singled out to provide detailed medical and treatment records for IHA. Not only will all the Travers horses have to do that, but the data will also be posted on the New York State Racing and Wagering Board website. The horses will not be given blogs.

But don't get all snuggy secure that the lords of racing are doing it right.

As BloodHorse.com recaps in its press release rewrite, there's this in the it's-sick-not-funny department:

"Besides the disappearance of a separate stakes barn, the new rules, compared to the Belmont security protocols, also do not limit the types of people who can enter a barn area and do not require logs of people who might enter a barn area of a horse running in the Travers. The Belmont rule also required veterinarians to be escorted onto the grounds."

Tune in to see if the NBC announcers call this spade a spade.

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

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 2:06 AM | Permalink

August 8, 2012

The [Thursday] Papers

The usual suspects.

1. Dear Patti Blagojevich: Now you know how Children's Memorial felt.

*

This part of the court transcript is already finished, though, and it's one of my favorites:

Patti: Tell them to hold up that fucking Cubs shit. Fuck them. Fuck them. What kind of bullshit is that.

Later:

Patti: Just fire them . . . What would William Randolph Hearst do? Say, 'Oh, I can't interfere with my editorial board?' They're hurting (the paper's) business.

2. "Thomas Flanagan was a widely respected accountant in Chicago who rose to the upper echelons of Deloitte & Touche. He was a business adviser to dozens of Chicago companies, and also was a player in civic and charitable organizations," the Tribune reports.

"Now, the 64-year-old faces a lengthy prison term for betraying clients and Deloitte."

The broken values of rich white guys; my guess is that it starts in the home.

3. Daley To Keynote Turnaround Management Conference.

Shouldn't that slot go to the head of Chicago Parking Meters LLC?

*

"Former Mayor Daley will kick-off Friday's program during a breakfast keynote during which he will provide his insight about the financial difficulties facing municipalities in the current economic environment."

His advice? Leave it for the next guy.

3. "School board member Penny Pritzker's Hyatt Hotels Corp. is benefiting from a $5.2 million TIF subsidy on 53rd Street - while CPS's proposed 2013 budget cuts seven schools surrounding the hotel project by $3.4 million, which is roughly the portion CPS is losing from the TIF deal," Curtis Black reports for Newstips.

4. It's not just Barack Obama who is into secret prisons: Gov. Pat Quinn is a fan too.

*

And like Obama, leaks are only acceptable when they are approved by the administration.

*

Aside: If the best rationale supporters can come up with for re-electing a president is, "Well, he's better than Romney," it's been a pretty shitty presidency.

5. "Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who declines to put political events on his public schedule, which I hope changes as we get closer to the election, flew here [to Washington] to bolster President Barack Obama's fund-raising Tuesday."

Rahm doesn't want anyone to know when he's off working on the campaign; perhaps because it wouldn't look good if something tragic like, oh, say, a bunch of kids were shot one night back home while he was in a Washington, D.C., tea room at a $40,000 per person fundraiser.

6. Good luck getting a franchise in the 1st Ward!

7. "TechnoBuffalo.com publishes news - not mere 'hype' - and need not identify the source behind leaked photos of a forthcoming Motorola smartphone, a judge ruled," Courthouse News Service reports.

If that's the standard, the Sun-Times hasn't qualified for reporter's privilege in ages.

8. "Twenty-two Tennessee lawmakers are attending a state-paid, national legislator conference in Chicago this week - including six who have either announced plans to retire or were defeated in last week's primaries, the Knoxville News Sentinel reports," the Nashville Business Journal notes.

Those six will be honored in a special ceremony in city council chambers. Ed Burke will read the proclamation. Michael Madigan sent a fruit basket.

9. The Celluloid Ghosts Of The Chicago 8 To Haunt The 2012 Democratic Convention.

10. TrackNotes: Corruption At Calder. Why it matters here.

11. The Maxwell Street Market Vendors Association Wants You To Like Them.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Safe not sorry.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:02 AM | Permalink

Local Music Notebook: Marshall Tucker Man, Mick & Muddy, Seraphine And The Fuzz

A loose collection of whatnot.

1. Longtime Marshall Tucker Band member Stuart Swanlund died in his sleep of natural causes at his Chicago home on Saturday. The band's statement:

Swanlund joined The Marshall Tucker Band in 1985 where his slide guitar work added a new dimension to the band - on newer material as well as standards like "Searchin' For A Rainbow," "Can't You See," and "Fire On The Mountain."

"Stuart, or 'Stubie' as we called him, was the longest standing member of The Marshall Tucker Band from 1985, onward," says Marshall Tucker Band founding member Doug Gray. "He recently took a hiatus from the road due to health problems and even with those issues, Stuart's enthusiasm onstage never wavered. Our thoughts and prayers are with Stuart's family and those who knew him. We have lost a great friend."

Stuart Craig Swanlund was born in Puerto Rico on April 3, 1958. Swanlund was reared in Spartanburg, SC, where he would sit on his grandmother's porch and listen to his neighbor, Doug Gray, rehearse with a rock and roll band across the street. He was only five years old, and had no way of knowing he'd one day play alongside Gray and The Marshall Tucker Band.

When not touring with The Marshall Tucker Band, Swanlund performed in Chicago with local band, the Tone Generators.

According to Doug Gray, one of the highlights of Swanlund's time on the road with The Marshall Tucker Band was last winter when he performed on the stage of the Grand Ole Opry at Nashville's historic Ryman Auditorium.

Swanlund is survived by his son, William "Billy" Swanlund, his lifelong partner Stacey Schmaren, three grandchildren and sister, Suzanne Spencer. He was 54 years old.

Funeral services for Swanlund will be held this Saturday, August 11 at 11:00 AM at the Good Shepherd Memorial Park in Boiling Springs, SC.

You can hear some Tone Generators tracks here on their MySpace page.

2. "As a founding member of the multiplatinum selling band Chicago, drummer Danny Seraphine, whose inspirations include Buddy Rich, Max Roach and Tony Williams, has become one of music's most highly respected jazz/rock fusion drummers and percussionists," Rob Nagy writes for the Journal Register News Service.

"As the rhythmic backbone for Chicago from 1967 to 1990, Seraphine was an integral part of the band's astonishing success. The drummer appeared on 18 gold and 13 platinum albums containing 50 top 40 hits, 5 of which made it to No. 1.

"Although Chicago positioned itself as one of the world's most successful rock bands, the pressures of fame, fortune and personal demons ultimately took a toll on Seraphine and the band. Amidst a wave of controversy and conflicting stories, Seraphine was pressured out of Chicago."

Seraphine has since started his own label, formed the California Transit Authority, and written an autobiography, which was released in 2010.

"He tells of touring with performers Dennis and Carl Wilson of the Beach Boys, Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix and Bruce Springsteen and gives insight into the many rumors about Chicago. Alleged Mafia ties, accounting and payola scandals and major drug tales are included as well."

3. "The Rolling Stones pay homage to their blues roots alongside one of their heroes on the newly unearthed live DVD Muddy Waters and the Rolling Stones: Live at the Checkerboard Lounge Chicago 1981."

4. Brian Westfall of the Chicago Music Exchange demo's the Fulltone '69 Fuzz Pedal.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:49 AM | Permalink

The [Wednesday] Papers

A member of the defense team in an ongoing trial offers to blog for a local newspaper and neither the editor of the paper or one of the town's few media critics can think of a reason to say no?

Here's one: He's a member of the defense team in an ongoing trial!

My God.

If I have to explain why that's a problem, neither of you deserve your jobs.

*

Wait, it's even worse than I thought.

"I did not volunteer I was recruited," the lawyer in question, Joseph "The Shark" Lopez, writes in a comment to the Reader post.

*

Does the Sun-Times get to edit Lopez's posts? Or his slant considered more valuable to readers than a proper vetting? Does it question Lopez's characterizations the way an editor would with a reporter? Does the Sun-Times ever ask Lopez what he's holding back?

*

Is there any concern by the Sun-Times that they are being used by a defense lawyer who would love to influence the jury?

*

Does the Sun-Times believe they are contributing in any way to the pursuit of justice - or were their internal discussion focused more on page views?

It's just horrid.

*

Maybe just have your very own noted policy expert and professional dilettante Margot Pritzker blog the trial. Or Stella. She's got free time on her hands now. Of course, she wouldn't be capable of blogging a transaction at a lemonade stand unless it came to her in a press release but we can all pretend she's one of the city's great journalists.

My God.

*

Dear Margot: If time is better than money, I'll trade you my time for your money. Make me an offer!

*

Today in the Sun-Times's Daily Splash: Mayor Emanuel Says Local Economy Is Booming. By Mayor Rahm Emanuel. No kidding.

*

Jim Kirk, you are now officially a Klown.

Foreign Correspondence
The Journatic Olympics.

Proco Zone
Ald. Joe Moreno announces the First Ward Values Accreditation System.

Town And Pawn
"Des Plaines aldermen checked the potential spread of pawn shops Monday, rejecting a request to open one just over a mile away from Rivers Casino," the Tribune reports.

"Aldermen voted 5-2 to deny a request from Lake in the Hills resident Peter Kozysa to amend Des Plaines' zoning code and allow him to open a pawn shop in a strip mall at 1926 E. Touhy Ave. Aldermen Dan W. Wilson and Michael Charewicz voted against the denial.

"'Adding a bunch of additional pawn shops to the city of Des Plaines is not my idea of community development, and I am not interested in having them in my ward,' said Ald. Mark Walsten, whose 6th Ward includes both Rivers and the strip mall."

Now, pawn shop owners (and their bulging pocketbooks) are welcome to live in Des Plaines - just as long as they make their money somewhere else.

*

Pawn shops vs. casinos. Discuss.

*

"Senior Planner Scott Malone said city hall has gotten more inquiries about pawn shops since Rivers opened in July 2011."

Damn it, let them hock their stuff in someone else's town! Near the shuttle bus to Rivers!

Cred Shred
"A credit rating agency has changed its outlook for Chicago Public Schools bonds from stable to negative because of the district's troubled financial situation," the Tribune reports.

"Fitch Rating, with headquarters in both New York and London, said the district's financial challenges in 2014 when CPS will face $338 million in back pension payments is leading to the negative outlook."

Maybe CPS should visit a pawn shop. Or open one.

*

"Last month, CPS officials proposed a budget that called for depleting the district's cash reserves. That led Moody's Investor's Services to downgrade the district's bond rating to A1 from Aa3.

"Moody's downgraded bond rating will mean $1 million to $2 million more in interest payments for bonds issued in the coming year, CPS officials said. The change in outlook by Fitch should not have that kind of effect, said CPS spokeswoman Becky Carroll."

Why?

*

"Fitch recognizes the positive steps the Chicago Public Schools have taken toward the path of financial stability in cutting more than a half-billion in spending over the last year, while also underscoring the mounting financial challenges facing the district," Carroll said. "We are committed to making the tough decisions necessary to move the district toward long-term financial stability, while also protecting and investing priorities that are necessary to boost our children's academic achievement."

Wow. I'm dizzy.

*

And here comes a third credit rating agency to the party; apparently they too recognize the positive steps the Chicago Public Schools have taken!

*

I'd rather CPS just tell the truth, because it's so powerful and ultimately tilts toward its advantage. Maybe something like this: "The system has been screwed up for years, and despite everything you read over the last 20 years, Richard M. Daley did most of the screwing. Then (bipartisan) Wall Street drove the economy into a ditch and the resulting global financial crisis has crippled us all. We're in a hole and the actions of these credit agencies - no angels themselves, of course, in aiding and abetting the world's financial disaster - just reflect that. We don't like it, but there's not much we can do about it."

And then I wish they'd add this: "As the fiasco on Wall Street shows, putting key public assets into the hands of profit-seeking privatizers whose objectives have little to do with the public interest isn't a great idea. So instead of selling off little pieces of the system here and there, we're rededicating ourselves to the notion that our public schools should be golden public assets that receive true top priority from our government, not just as places of education but as neighborhood linchpins that can help build community and aid in the reduction of poverty and the delivery of social services."

But we'd need a different mayor for that to happen.

Update: Obama's America
Kill lists, secret prisons, torture, assassination, warrantless wiretaps and a war against whistleblowers and the journalists who listen to them.

Marshall Tucker Man, Mick And Muddy
In our Local Music Notebook.

All The Pieces Are In Place
And none of them are Bears. In Fantasy Fix.

Shake Your Tambourine
McDonald's is testing a new After Midnight breakfast menu. Here's an idea: Do it at franchises near the local Applebee's.

Curiosity Kodachrome
Next, Instagram.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Down by the river.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:42 AM | Permalink

Update: Obama's America

Worse than Bush.

1. It's Fucked Up.

*

2. Unrestrained Savagery.

After all, what kind of terrorist monsters would bomb a funeral?

*

3. Bradley Manning.

TRUTHDIG: And the only comment that Obama has on the subject is that Bradley deserves to be imprisoned and tortured because "he broke the law." Obama's cowardice on the issue is beyond heartbreaking.

GRAHAM NASH: Of course, no military judge is going to go against his commander-in-chief. Manning doesn't stand a chance because WikiLeaks and Julian Assange cannot be allowed to win. That's why you'll hear very little about this trial. Nobody will report on how [the Obama administration] is railroading this guy and making sure he's in jail for the rest of his life.

TRUTHDIG: And Daniel Ellsberg is left to run around and wave the Pentagon Papers in the air, begging people to recognize the importance of whistle-blowing and nobody will pay attention.

NASH: The strange thing is that the documents that Ellsberg released were really top secret. None of the documents that Manning released were top secret. Some were secret and some were "for your eyes only," but none were top secret. But the game is different now. The new game is to kill these fucking whistleblowers now!

4. Warrantless wiretaps.

"The federal government may spy on Americans' communications without warrants and without fear of being sued, a federal appeals court ruled Tuesday in a decision reversing the first and only case that successfully challenged President George W. Bush's once-secret Terrorist Surveillance Program," Wired reports.

Obama ordered his Justice Department to defend the Bush program, which he has extended, in court.

5. "A number of journalists I know believe the Obama administration is the most secretive administration yet," Xeni Jardin writes for Boing Boing.

"When I read news like this, I am inclined to believe them: the Naval Criminal Investigative Service is going after our pals at Danger Room, over a 5-year-old leak about a weapon that was never built."

6. "In its first year, the Obama administration vowed an increase in transparency across government, including through the Freedom of Information Act, the proactive release of documents and the establishment of an agency to declassify more than 370 million pages of archived material," the Washington Post reports.

"Three years later, new evidence suggests that administration officials have struggled to overturn the long-standing culture of secrecy in Washington. Some of these high-profile transparency measures have stalled, and by some measures the government is keeping more secrets than before."

7. ACLU to Obama: You Can't Just Vaporize Americans Without Judicial Process.

8. Flawed Analysis of Drone Strikes Is Misleading Americans.

9. How Obama spends his Tuesdays.

* The President's Kill List.

* Obama The Pioneer.

* The President's Press Problem.

10. Secret prisons, torture and the national security state.

* ProPublica: The Best Reporting On Detention And Rendition Under Obama.

* ProPublica: The Best Reporting On Obama's National Security Policies.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 1:37 AM | Permalink

August 7, 2012

Fantasy Fix: All The Pieces Are In Place

This is a little bit later in the summer than I usually take a crack at my fantasy football preseason top 20, and I think I've spent more time mentally preparing for this year's unveiling than in any previous season. I don't say this because I'm that proud of my effort, but because with so many questions surrounding some of the top players, it's been that much harder to figure out where to place everyone.

We have at least three top running backs who are potential injury concerns, another who as of this writing was still a contract holdout, and still another who held out for part of the season last year and never quite regained form.

Meanwhile, there's a second-year quarterback I'd really like to rank higher, and now fewer than two tight ends in my top 20, which I think must be a first.

One other note: Matt Forte has made many preseason fantasy top 20 lists, but backup Michael Bush has great sleeper potential, and Jay Cutler will pass deep early and often.

See if you can figure out who's who:

1. Ray Rice, RB, BAL: Going against the crowd wisdom, which has Foster going No. 1 overall, but all of Rice's metrics trended upward from 2010 to 2011, and most importantly, he's durable.

2. LeSean McCoy, RB, PHI: His 17 rushing TDs to Rice's 12 make a good argument for him to be No. 1, but Rice's dominance as a receiver gives him the edge.

3. Arian Foster, RB, HOU: The consensus No. 1, and still very effective, but most of his stats were down last year; an injury limited his snaps; and he appeared to have a brief case of the fumbles.

4. Calvin Johnson, WR, DET: The most consistent player in one of the most potent offensive attacks is still getting better; scary for a guy who averaged 105 receiving yards per games in 2011.

5. Aaron Rodgers, QB, GB: Not among the passing yardage leaders, but a lot of his stats came in just the first half of his blowout games. His league-leading 122.5 QB rating and 45 TDs with just six INTs tell the real story.

6. Ryan Mathews, RB, SD: Heavily hyped for the third season in a row, and while he rushed for more than 1,000 yards last year, he still was slowed by injuries for the second consecutive year.

7. Tom Brady, QB, NE: Great 2011 performance included 5,235 passing yards and 39 TDs with only 12 INTs. Very likely to surpass 5,000 yards again.

8. Drew Brees, QB, NO: The perfect combo of Brady's yardage and Rodgers' scoring, but wondering how the Saints' scandal and his own contract fight will affect his output.

9. Chris Johnson, RB, TEN: Showed flashes after his contract holdout ended last year, but didn't completely regain form. One of several RBs who could play well above his draft position.

10. Larry Fitzgerald, WR, ARI: Still gets yardage like a top WR, but didn't score like one last year. He'll need QB Kevin Kolb to rebound.

11. Darren McFadden, RB, OAK: Possible gamble here on a hugely talented but injury-haunted runner. He could lead the league in rushing and become the top pick in 2013 if he manages to stay healthy.

12. Maurice Jones-Drew, RB, JAC: Contract holdout leaves a very consistent player as a big question mark. If he signs in the next few weeks, you can push him up into the top 10.

13. Rob Gronkowski, TE, NE: Led the league in TD receptions, and with a few more yards this year could challenge Calvin Johnson as the top receiver overall.

14. Jimmy Graham, TE, NO: If not for Gronkowski, Graham would be a revelation at his position. As it is, he looks like Antonio Gates in his prime, and he's still learning on the job.

15. Cam Newton, QB, CAR: Higher ranking than some may have him, and sophomore slump could be due, but 707 yards rushing as a QB and a gunslinger mentality make him a great fantasy play.

16. Trent Richardson, RB, CLE: A rookie manages to squeeze in. He's already way overhyped, and while I'm not entirely buying it, he could be Cleveland's workhorse and best offensive option.

17. Wes Welker, WR, NE: Most receptions, second-most receiving yards, and if defenses load up against Gronkowski, he'll easily surpass his nine TDs of a year ago.

18. Adrian Peterson, RB, MIN: A bad injury and legal hassles have dropped him from the elite ranks, but don't be surprised if he reels off a string of great performances late in the season.

19. Matthew Stafford, QB, DET: Having the top WR as a target helps, but Stafford heads an offense with blowout potential, and should be more consistent week to week this season.

20. Marshawn Lynch, RB, SEA: He had an incredibly productive second half of 2011, after many fantasy owners had already dropped him. Unlike many RBs these days, he has no real challenger for carries.

Expert Wire
* Rant Sports charts the top 50 RBs, taking McCoy over Rice at No. 1.

* Yahoo! Sports lays out the debate of the year: Gronkowski vs. Graham.

* Bleacher Report thinks Stafford might be a draft steal.

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

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 5:49 PM | Permalink

Amnesty Now? CPL Waives Overdue Fines

"The Chicago Public Library is offering an amnesty program on overdue materials for the first time in 20 years," WLS-AM reports.

"Officials say the library is owed $1.4 million in fines."

But then why waive fines? How 'bout doubling them! Provide work for a few library cops at the same time.


*

"Although the average outstanding fine is about $14, that still often proves to be a barrier to returning items among many city residents, especially children, library spokeswoman Ruth Lednicer said," the Tribune reports.

And then you end up like this guy.

*

Though this goes a bit too far.

*

So take advantage of the amnesty program. Chicago wants to forgive you, and that only happens once in a blue moon.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:35 AM | Permalink

The [Tuesday] Papers

"Former Gov. George Ryan's longshot - and likely last - chance to get out of prison early was denied Monday by an appellate court in Chicago," the Sun-Times reports.

"Lawyers for Ryan, who is nearing the end of his 6 1/2-year prison sentence for corruption, had argued last month that prosecutors had failed to prove he took bribes. But in a 16-page ruling issued Monday, the Seventh U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals disagreed, denying the 78-year-old Republican's appeal.

"The appeals court previously had rejected Ryan's arguments for overturning his 2006 convictions but was ordered by the U.S. Supreme Court in April to take another look at Ryan's arguments, saying it should consider whether the instructions given to jurors in Ryan's corruption trial were flawed in light of another high court ruling dealing with an arcane legal issue known as honest services fraud."

That puts the issue to bed; Ryan will be out soon anyway, as noted. And then we can pelt him with tomatoes on his way home to Kankakee.

Save some for his lawyers, too.

"This time, Ryan's attorneys argued that he accepted favors from friends - not bribes, and prosecutors failed to prove he took bribes, as the honest services fraud law requires."

Just favors? Hardly.

"His lawyers had argued that the gifts and vacations he took from people who did business with the state amounted to 'a friend doing a favor for a friend,' in the words of Ryan attorney Albert Alschuler, and not bribes."

That dog of an argument did not hunt.

"'By convicting on the tax counts, the jury found that Ryan knowingly accepted payment in exchange for official acts - that he was bribed, rather than just that he failed to disclose gifts to the public,' Chief Judge Frank Easterbrook wrote for a three-member panel," Courthouse News Service reports.

"Additionally, both the prosecution and the defense argued Ryan's case to the jury as being about bribery, the court noted."

Chicago On Mars
The new rover has already found many of our lost items.

Lolla Got Lucky
Evacuate yes. But to where?

That's Jay!
"Cutler is long gone from junior high, but he remembers how to deliver the type of condescending comment that makes seventh graders feel bulletproof," former Beachwood contributor Ricky O'Donnell writes for SBNation Chicago, where he is the editor.

Amnesty Now!
Chicago wants to forgive you.

Identify The Problem
"If anyone can put an end to black-on-black crime, it's going to be black people themselves," Dahleen Glanton writes in the Tribune today in an article about Minister Louis Farrakhan's efforts to help stem the violence in some of Chicago's most dangerous neighborhoods.

Setting aside for the moment the problematic (to say the least) issue of Farrakhan's message, I must once again point out that if urban violence had any sort of racial motivation, wealthy blacks would be driving down to Englewood and killing poor blacks - or vice versa. Instead, let's understand the nature of the problem. Poor blacks aren't killing other poor blacks because of their race, but because they are poor and proximate. (At least flash mobs on Michigan Avenue take it to the elite.)

For poor black people to think the problem is them is just what whitey wants you to think!

The problem is poverty - and the priorities of those in power. That doesn't mean I condone violence, but we have to understand how folks fall into the life. It's not because of some racial character flaw; in fact, in many ways people in the 'hood are responding rationally to their circumstances. So let's change the circumstances.

*

And by the way, that doesn't simply mean more "programs." It means an honest discussion and restructuring of our economic life and a reshaping of priorities. It means people in power behaving less greedily. (It means, for example, that an airport is built in Peotone to drive the region's economy the way O'Hare drives the economy of the northwest suburbs and city. I doubt O'Hare would be harmed, but if it was, so what? It also means that corporations would no longer be subsidized by taxpayers - and neither would they be depended upon to provide our health insurance. It means mental health clinics and libraries are last on the list at budget-cutting time, not first. It means doing away with talking points on both sides of the political aisle and only rewarding a culture of honesty and tolerance. That means liberals too. Arrgh, enough.)

*

See also: Why Washington Accepts Mass Unemployment.

Hint: Because the problem is "theirs," not "ours."

*

So funny to read stories about how lost "professionals" get when they lose their jobs; those stories litter the landscape, along with advice about how to keep from falling into depression or, at least, from losing your sense of identity. The strains on self-worth, marriage and other relationships. I mean, they still (usually) have their homes and a bank account and, well, a future. Those are stories that become quite frequent whenever economic ills creep into the middle- and even upper-class, but they never go so far as to consider that for those in the lower class, or no class at all, this is the norm. Instead, "they" have character flaws and only "they" can help themselves. It would be a revolutionary act, but it's not very realistic. Even successful businesspeople didn't do it all on their own, as our president has said; they used the economic levers and benefits provided by society as their stepping stones. Too bad those aren't available for everyone.

Runaround City
"I tried to talk to Kimberly Boyd, manager of Northpoint Apartments," Megan Cottrell reports in "Woman May Lose Custody Of Niece Over Eviction From Rogers Park Subsidized Unit."

"She referred me to AIMCO's corporate office. I reached out to AIMCO, the national company that owns Northpoint. Spokeswoman Cindy Duffy did not respond.

"I inquired with the Department of Housing and Urban Development office here in Chicago. Spokeswoman Laura Feldman said their office isn't involved in the matter and referred me to the Illinois Housing Development Authority.

"I contacted IHDA. Spokeswoman Rebecca Boykin said the agency was looking into the matter."

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Conditions favorable.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:23 AM | Permalink

Lolla Got Lucky

"'We got lucky with the weather tonight, didn't we?' Jack White asked from the stage Sunday night as he closed out Lollapalooza 2012, the eighth edition of the giant corporate concert that's become Walmart on the Lake," Jim Derogatis reports on his WBEZ blog.

"In fact, Austin, Texas-based concert promoters C3 Presents and city officials are the ones who should be counting their blessings after a severe-weather evacuation Saturday afternoon shunted more than 60,000 people out of Grant Park on to Michigan Avenue as a torrential downpour, intense lightning and winds up to 60 miles per hour descended on the lakefront. As WBEZ's Kate Dries observed, 'It's pure luck that things went as smoothly as they did.'"

Indeed.

DeRo's post - headlined "The Lessons of Lollapalooza 2012" - is the wrap-up I was hoping for in terms of the festival's emergency safety plan (there may be more) and a must-read from start to finish, so please click through.

*

And now, here's a first-person account from Beachwood newsletter editor Nikki Golden:

"As an attendee of Saturday's debacle, I can tell you for sure that while I agree absolutely that the park had to be evacuated, I did not agree that this so-called plan they'd been working on forever should be kept so secret squirrel.

"It was utter chaos. And for the people on the tail end of getting out of there, the bars in the Loop were either too full to let them in or were locking their doors to keep them out.

"If they had an emergency plan, they had plenty of ways to communicate that plan ahead of time to concert-goers. Trust me when I say that I'm an anal-retentive concert-goer, with my map printed out ahead of time and all bathrooms and water stations circled. I had all three days of the schedule printed, plus written out schedule of who I wanted to see. If they had prepared an evacuation plan ahead of time, I would have had it on me. Probably memorized.

"I also had the Lolla app downloaded on my phone, and I am looking at the push notifications now. If they sent a push notification with instructions on what I was supposed to do Saturday, I would have it here. But I don't, because there wasn't one. Instead, I have several reminding me to drink water and hydrate.

"The throngs of management personnel, police, Office of Emergency Management personnel were just standing around looking blank as waves of people exited the park. Maybe if you were at a stage, you were told to evacuate and there were screens, but a) they didn't tell you where to go and b) they didn't help the vast majority of people milling about, standing in line for beer/food, using the bathroom, etc.

"My mom had more info watching the news at home than I did wandering around the Loop.

"And again, I give them kudos for figuring out a way for the concert to go on, but I didn't find out about it except for my friend getting a text from a friend in California. I checked the app. Nothing. I checked Facebook. They had the news and new lineup posted at 7 something.

'It was irritating, to say the least.

"Quite honestly, they were very lucky that so many of the buildings in the area have covered entrances to walk/sit under or else I could see people being injured out on the streets during that storm. We were on the Brown Line platform at Adams and Wells, I think, when the sky turned black and the wind picked up, and we actually thought twice of getting on the El because of that. It was like tornado from Wizard of Oz scary."

*

And the video. You can hear someone yelling repeatedly "Seek shelter!" but with no instructions on just where shelter is.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:18 AM | Permalink

August 6, 2012

Things From Chicago The Mars Rover Has Found

Space ward shaping up nicely.

* The dude who hired Angelo Torres. Oh wait, that was a different rover.

* Richard M. Daley's response to police chief Richard Brzeczek's warning about Jon Burge

* Steve Bartman.

* Ald. Joe Moore's balls.

* That missing puck.

* The Lollapalooza emergency plan.

* A live Olympics TV feed.

* All 104 of John Kass's columns, running on a continuous loop, just like on Earth.

* Pat Quinn's spine.

* Bryan LaHair's bat.

* Mike Martz.

* 3,000 votes from the river wards.

* The ratings for Oprah's new network.

* Ald. Joe Moreno's copy of the Constitution.

* More missing Koschman files.

* Michael Sneed's sources.

* Todd Stroger's brain.

* Rahm Emanuel's heart.

* Michael Madigan's soul.

* Ryan Dempster's class

* The Bears' offensive line.

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* By Thomas Chambers, Mike Luce and Steve Rhodes

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Comments welcome.

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1. From Beachwood Mark:

* Billy Corgan s self-respect.

* Meeting minutes from the Infrastructure Trust.

* Roland Burris's humility.

* A sign reading: "This crater sponsored by Bank of America."

* A Journatic reporter, assigned to cover Palatine.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 3:52 PM | Permalink

The [Monday] Papers

"Wade Michael Page, an Army veteran who was a 'psychological operations specialist,' has been identified as the gunman in the deadly Sikh temple shooting, officials said Monday morning," the Tribune reports.

"As authorities searched for a motive in the Sunday attack, the first picture of the assailant began to emerge. Page died in a shootout with police outside the temple in suburban Milwaukee. In all, seven people, including the suspect, were dead and three others were critically wounded in what police have labeled an act of domestic terrorism."

If authorities are still searching for a motive, I'm not sure how this can be labeled an act of domestic terrorism quite yet.

And lo and behold, an FBI agent's statement quoted later in the story says that "While the FBI is investigating whether this matter might be an act of domestic terrorism, no motive has been determined at this time."

It would be nice to think the media would have learned to be careful by now - and I'm not aiming this at the Tribune, but more so at the folks on TV posing as journalists and the pundits whose theories will soon contaminate the minds of Americans everywhere - but the media (in a big, general way, I know) never seems to learn. They're like the kid who not only gets held back every year but regresses.

For example, gaze in wide wonder at how even the most basic facts got mangled in the Trayvon Martin case. That's what we're in for again, folks. This might be a case of domestic terrorism; it might be a lot of things. Every news organization gets in a hurry on stories like this, which are exactly the stories in which a hurry isn't needed. The facts will come out and we'll all get them. Hurrying should be reserved for that which we might not otherwise know.

The Curiosity Chronicles
"NASA's Mars science rover Curiosity performed a daredevil descent through pink Martian skies late on Sunday to clinch an historic landing inside an ancient crater, ready to search for signs the Red Planet may once have harbored key ingredients for life," Steve Gorman and Irene Klotz write (beautifully) for Reuters.

"Mission controllers burst into applause and cheers as they received signals confirming that the car-sized rover had survived a perilous seven-minute descent NASA called the most elaborate and difficult feat in the annals of robotic spaceflight.

"Engineers said the tricky landing sequence, combining a giant parachute with a rocket-pack that lowered the rover to the Martian surface on a tether, allowed for zero margin for error."

*

Reminiscent of another NASA achievement of note . . .

Lolla Pops
"Lollapalooza - which concluded three heat-baked, rain-soaked and increasingly mud-splattered days Sunday in Grant Park - had the attention-grabbling headliners, including most of the original Black Sabbath, the Black Keys and the Red Hot Chili Peppers," Greg Kot writes for the Tribune.

"It had gripping performances by rising stars Frank Ocean, the Weeknd and Passion Pit. It featured the biggest show yet by teen South Side hip-hop phenom Chief Keef. And it once again showcased the glittery domination of electronic dance music with overflow crowds for DJs such as Calvin Harris and Bassnectar.

"Jack White wrapped up the festival by summing up most of the music that preceded him: surf-into-metal-and-back-again guitar solos, erotic co-ed duets, fiddle and pedal-steel-charged country laments, eerie break-up ballads, twisted blues.

"And if that weren't enough, Lollapalooza promoters C3 Presents also announced that the festival would expand to a third foreign location next year - Tel Aviv, Israel, joining Sao Paulo, Brazil, and Santiago, Chile.

"But the eighth annual gathering of the musical nations, which drew a record-tying 270,000 fans to Grant Park, will always be most remembered as the evacuation festival."

And how did festival officials do?

"[P]romoters this year erred on the side of caution in clearing out the park," Kot writes. "There can be little doubt that the weather-related tragedies that befell outdoor concerts last summer had an impact on the decision to evacuate, particularly a stage collapse at the Indiana State Fair that killed seven and injured dozens."

The evacuation made prescient the reporting of Heather Gillers, who wrote for the Tribune last week that "With 270,000 fans expected to swarm Grant Park this weekend for Lollapalooza, the city and the concert promoter have been working for months on a severe-weather plan that takes into account wind, tornadoes, lightning and hail."

But Gillers signaled danger ahead:

"The 2012 Lollapalooza Severe Weather Plan makes emergency decisions a joint process, declaring that 'the internal decision to suspend festival activities and move patrons to a safe area rests with the (promoter) C3 Presents partners, in conjunction with City of Chicago Public Safety Officials.'

"But the written plan is unclear on what would happen if the safety officials and the promoter are in conflict - a situation that can stifle quick decisions. That type of conflict likely contributed to tragedy in the weather-related collapse of a stage structure last year in Indianapolis."

Gillers was the right reporter on the job, according to WBEZ blogger and veteran music scribe Jim DeRogatis, who wrote that "the paper's new investigative entertainment reporter who won nationwide acclaim in her last gig for her coverage of the Indiana State Fair stage collapse."

DeRogatis recalls the stonewalling he got from the city when he tried to report on the matter in 2008.

I haven't researched this year's evacuation performance closely enough yet to evaluate whether Lolla and the city got it right, but I can pass on this red flag from Trib music writer Bob Gendron:

*

Gillers' immediate report on Saturday night found "No Major Issues, But Little Direction For Lolla Evacuation."

I suspect we'll learn more in the days to come.

UPDATE 12: 17 P.M.: DeRo puts it all together - and it's not pretty.

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Tricky Technicalities
One thing the city - led by Mayor Rahm Emanuel, no doubt - got right was extending the festival's 10 p.m. curfew by 30 minutes to give Lolla officials at least a little flexibility in getting things going again. (And Lolla security, as I understand it, only loosely checked for wristbands in order to hustle folks back into the grounds as efficiently as possible.)

Of course, I couldn't help but thinking about how those 30 minutes contrasted with the three minutes in this story, and how rules - and their attendant technicalities - become weapons even in the hands of those who profess to despise red tape and bureaucracy. But that's another item for later this week.

Lolla Dollas
"If you get caught in traffic near Roosevelt Road this weekend or can't find a hotel room, you can thank Lollapalooza," the Sun-Times editorial "board" wrote last week.

"And we mean that sincerely.

"The three-day music festival that kicks off in Grant Park on Friday has turned into a huge boon for Chicago."

Apparently the Sun-Times editorial writers don't keep up with the work of DeRogatis, the paper's former star rock reporter who wrote this in April:

"The new contract that will keep Lollapalooza in Grant Park through 2021 will yield more money for city, county and state governments. But city officials blew the opportunity to eliminate other unfair advantages that the Daley administration gave the politically connected concert in its original sweetheart deal, and to correct problems these create for the city's permanent music scene.

"When the Chicago Park District crafted the new pact, Mayor Rahm Emanuel broke his oft-stated promise to ask the City Council to appoint an independent negotiator to handle any new dealings with Lollapalooza, which is co-owned by Austin, Texas-based concert promoters C3 Presents and William Morris Endeavor, the Hollywood talent agency run by the mayor's brother Ari.

"The Park District secured an extra $1.35 million a year from the festival, which previously benefited from an unprecedented tax-free deal negotiated by its attorney and lobbyist, Mark Vanecko, a nephew of then-Mayor Richard Daley. But it will continue to give the giant concert an exclusive lock on Grant Park, prohibiting similar events by other promoters in the city's biggest public space. It failed to weigh the negative impacts on the Chicago music scene against the profits the festival brings to local hotels and restaurants; it solicited no public input from the music community and did not consult the City Council; it did nothing to address controversial radius clauses that are the most restrictive in the music industry, and it did not set any penalties if Lollapalooza fails to live up to its obligations."

*

That said, Chicago seems to have become the summer music festival capital of the nation, no? Seems like making a better arrangement for the local industry could only enhance a great marketing asset.

*

We've got Lolla video and more in our three-part Weekend in Chicago Rock.

Dear White Sox
Nice idea, but terrible execution.

We just landed a rover on Mars, for godsake!

Ye Olde Schaumburg!
Worst Historic District Ever.

The Cub Factor
The remote is now a better friend than ever, our very own Marty Gangler writes in How 'Bout Them Nats?

The White Sox Report
Our very own Roger Wallenstein checks in with a White Sox legend on the great pitch count debate in Pierce vs. Sale.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: La vs. blah.


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:39 AM | Permalink

The Weekend in Chicago Rock Pt. 3

You shoulda been there.

Part 1.

Part 2.

1. Frank Ocean at Lollapalooza on Saturday night.

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2. Florence + The Machine at Lollapalooza on Sunday.

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3. Sigur Ros at Lollapalooza on Sunday.

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4. Red Hot Chili Peppers at Lollapalooza on Saturday night.

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5. Trampled by Turtles at Lollapalooza on Saturday.

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6. Fun. at Lollapalooza on Saturday.

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7. Calvin Harris at Lollapalooza on Saturday night.

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8. Aloe Blacc at Lollapalooza on Saturday.

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9. Afghan Whigs at the Metro on Saturday night.

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10. Gary Clark Jr. at Schubas on Saturday night.

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11. Bear in Heaven at the Empty Bottle on Friday night.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:38 AM | Permalink

How 'Bout Them Nats?

Well, that didn't take long.

The slashing of the roster has had an immediate impact on the Cubs.

As Cub vets were moved at the trading deadline for a look to the future, the present started to really stink up the joint again.

And for a season that started with let's-see-what-we-have-now, to boy-we-don't-have-too-much, to now-that-Rizzo-is-here-they-aren't-horrendous, it has moved back to let's-see-what-we-have-here.

But it's already close to we-don't-have-too much and could turn into, sheesh-what-else-is-on?

With this in mind we here at The Cub Factor would like to provide some pointers to watching the rest of the season.

First, set up a good remote toggle with the "last" button. This is so you can back-and-forth to see Rizzo and Brett Jackson at-bats and still see what is going on with Holmes on Homes, because you know that guy is going to find something really wrong with that house. And where does he buy all those overalls?

Second, pay no attention to the score. It's really detrimental to the watching experience. You have to treat the next two months as a kind of extended, extended spring training.

Third, find another team to hitch your wagon to for the stretch run. How bout them Nats? Or maybe you like those upstart Pirates? Or maybe you are just weird and think the Padres are really on to something with their own rebuilding plan. It will be less painful to watch someone else's team go through this than your own.

Week in Review: The Cubs kept up their habit of winning every game in which they score more than eight runs by "scoring over eight runs and winning" mode when they routed the Pirates 14-4 on Monday night. They lost the rest; two of three overall to Pittsburgh and all three to the Dodgers.

The Week in Preview: The Cubs stay way out west for three in San Diego before coming home to face the Reds for three. Let's just say they've got a shot against the Padres.

The Second Basemen Report: Darwin Barney started five of the six games this week with recently departed Jeff Baker getting the other start. Oh, and Barney broke Ryne Sandberg's major league record of most consecutive games in a season without an error at second base.

I'm going to go out on a limb and say this will probably be the only record held by Sandberg that Barney will break. Ever. Which is just like the ghost of Jim Hendry would have wanted.

In former second basemen news, Mighty Mike Fontenot was released by the Phillies this week. We hope Mike lands on his feet. And we also hope the Cubs do not consider picking him up, because then he would not be missed, and now he is.

We would also like to welcome Adrian Cardenas back to The Second Baseman Report. Congratulations on what we suspect will be your major league career highlight.

The Not So Hot Corner: Finally some relief in sight as Josh Vitters was called up to play him some third base. Luis Valbuena, you will not be missed, except when runners are in scoring position. So Cubs; everything screwed up in reverse.

Weekly Bunting Report: The promotion of Brett Jackson meant an outfielder had go and while we hoped his initials would be A.S., it turned out to be T.C. Tony Campana's bunting and pretending to bunt will really be missed. His bunting and pretending to bunt will really be missed, as will his 26 stolen bases in 158 at-bats. After all, it's taken Mike Trout 350 at-bats to get the 33 stolen bases that lead the major leagues.

The Zam Bomb: Big Z is reportedly "embarrassed" to have been demoted to the bullpen. However, we don't have Embarrassed as a graphic option, and this makes Big Z Angry.

zam_gettingAngry.jpg

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Endorsement No-Brainer: Ryan Dempster for Zanies. Because he sure showed what a joke he was.

Ameritrade Stock Pick of the Week: Shares of Family Game Night are trading much higher as the value of Cubs games decline.

Sink or Sveum: 32% Analytical, 68% Emotional. Dale moves down two points on the Dale-O-Meter due to the return of 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 barely thinking clearly.

manson.jpgneck.jpg jordi.jpgdata.jpg

And just like your thought-to-be level-headed uncle, Dale is just happy to be handing out towels at the rec center. There's no pressure and he can use the steam room. He knows he'll be on the hook for gaining members in a few years, but for now it's smooth sailing.

Over/Under: The number of teams who needed Jeff Baker: +/- all of them. C'mon it's Jeff Friggin Baker. Everybody needs a Jeff Baker.

Don't Hassle the Hoff: Micah Hoffpauir is back in the starting lineup, it seems. Doesn't sound like too much of a hassle to me.

Beachwood Sabermetrics: A complex algorithm performed by The Cub Factor staff using all historical data made available by Major League Baseball has determined that players to be named later are never good and might as well never be named.

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

The White Sox Report: Know the enemy.

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Contact The Cub Factor!

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:27 AM | Permalink

Billy Pierce vs. Chris Sale

He pitched 18 seasons in the big leagues, winning 211 games of which 189 came in a White Sox uniform. A 20-game winner both in 1956 and 1957, much of the time Billy Pierce finished what he started.

"When they gave us the ball, they expected us to pitch nine innings," Pierce said last week when I called him. "[If] we had a bad day, then somebody would come in in relief. Very rarely did they have someone [come in] for the eighth or ninth inning. Usually you finished."

He did just that to the tune of 193 complete games in his career, including three straight years (1956-58) when he led the American League.

Tonight the Sox are simply encouraged that Chris Sale will start - let alone finish - against the Kansas City Royals. The kid is being treated with kid gloves, having last pitched 10 days ago. On that occasion he wasn't as sharp as usual, yielding five runs to the Texas Rangers. However, Sale did get into the seventh inning to earn his 12th win.

I'm no anthropologist, but I do know that 55 years ago when Billy Pierce was pitching, the human anatomy wasn't much different than today. Homo sapiens sure weren't ambulating on all fours. Yet the approach to pitching has radically changed.

"We never heard of such a thing as a six-inning quality start," said Pierce, who, like Sale, was a lefthander. "There was no such thing as that. A quality start was nine innings or extra innings if it had to be. Nobody ever heard the word '100 pitches' back in those days. I mean sometimes you could pitch 140, 150 pitches. Nobody ever counted pitches.

"There would be a sore arm now and then, but there was no such thing as Tommy John surgery. Very rarely did you have somebody who would have to be out for a couple of weeks or rested for a period of time. It's just the way it was."

At age 22 last season, Sale pitched 71 innings. He's up to 124 so far this year, which is the focus of concern. He's never pitched this much. Yet this guy is a gamer. Back in May he balked at being sent to the bullpen to limit his innings. He is an aggressive competitor who challenges the hitters every time he stands on the mound.

However, consider this: As a 21-year-old in 1948 Pierce pitched 55 innings for the Tigers. Traded during the offseason to the Sox - an exchange that helped solidify the South Siders for the next decade - he started 26 games the following season and hurled 171 innings. Over the next four seasons, the fewest number of innings he pitched was 219.

Pierce wasn't alone. Most teams had pitchers like Whitey Ford, Early Wynn, Warren Spahn, Bob Lemon, Don Newcombe and many more who logged big innings year after year and never visited the disabled list. "I don't think there was such a thing as a disabled list," said Pierce.

Sale and the rest of the Sox staff have the guidance not only of pitching coach Don Cooper and trainer Herm Schneider but six team physicians, an ophthalmologist, optometrist, podiatrist, assistant trainer and director of conditioning.

The White Sox of the 1950s depended on trainer Eddie (Doc) Froelich, who consulted with medical doctors when Froelich felt he needed help. Writing from spring training in 1950, the Sarasota (Fla.) Herald-Tribune reported, "[Froelich] comes to town with truckloads of liniments, salves, ointments, tablets, oils, and whatnot that keep the clubhouse training quarters smelling like an army field hospital."

But don't be mistaken to think that physical conditioning was akin to lifting a beer mug back in the day.

"We had a different theory back in those days," said Pierce. "The key thing was running and throwing, running and throwing. No exercise or anything like that. Just a lot of running to keep your endurance up. We would run fairly hard from center field to the right field corner. Sometimes the coach would be throwing a baseball to you, and you had to reach out and get it."

Pierce said that he would throw one bullpen session between starts, but added, " I remember [manager] Paul Richards [saying], 'Bill, get your throwing in down in the bullpen the last inning or two because I may use you for an inning.' I pitched quite a bit in relief in the middle 50s."

What about weightlifting? "Never even thought of such a thing," said Pierce. "We were told not to lift weights. In baseball you have long thin muscles. You lift weights you get short, stocky muscles. [If] you expand them, you're going to tear one of them. That was our theory in those days anyway. There are so many more injuries now than we ever had in the 50s and 60s."

Unlike many kids today, Billy Pierce never was a pitcher until he was 15 years old, growing up in suburban Detroit.

"We played in a league in Michigan, and we always played nine innings," he said. "One pitcher would go out and pitch nine innings. Nowadays the little leagues, the pony leagues, the colt leagues play seven innings. Little League is six. So it's a different situation. We started out pitching nine innings. We were used to that. We also played other sports like football and basketball where these fellas now specialize in one sport and one sport alone. So I think there's a little difference in body coordination than what we had back in them days. There's no question it's not the same."

My impression is that Pierce, now 85 and living in a Chicago suburb, is not the kind of guy who thinks everything was better in the old days. He talked about his friendship and respect for Mark Buehrle. Of Chris Sale, he said, "He hasn't pitched as much as he's pitching now, and he's quite a thin fella. He throws a little bit of three-quarters, and you strain your arm a little more at three-quarters than you do overhand.

"I think he's going to be alright. They're just playing it smart. He had a couple of ballgames where he wasn't quite as effective as he was before so they figure maybe a little bit of rest will do him a lot of good. Let's just hope he can come back strong again because they're going to need him."

At the same time, he remembers his childhood when spontaneous play was the norm rather than the exception.

"What gets me sometimes is that I go past all these parks, and there isn't one kid out playing in the park until 5 o'clock when the coach comes out with the balls and the bats," he said. "Everything is organized. We used to make our own games. You go out at 10 o'clock in the morning and maybe go home for a quick lunch then come back and play 'til 5 or 6 o'clock at night."

You think maybe all that unsupervised, creative youthful play years ago might have conditioned kids for the long haul? Obviously it's strictly theoretical. Nevertheless, professional ballplayers today seem more injury-prone than ever while we can all gaze upon the likeness of number 19, Billy Pierce, which adorns the left centerfield wall at the Cell.

Wouldn't it be lovely if Chris Sale joins him out there someday.

Pierce.JPG

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

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:51 AM | Permalink

Ye Olde Schaumburg!

Vast parking lots and historic strips malls that recall the glory days of America's suburbs!


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"One of America's least impressive historic districts."

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Town history.

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Progress Through Thoughtful Planning? That "S" stands for Socialism!

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 5:22 AM | Permalink

August 5, 2012

The Weekend in Chicago Rock Pt. 2

You shoulda been there.

Part 1.

1. Die Antwoord at Lollapalooza on Friday.


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2. Franz Ferdinand at Lollapalooza on Saturday night.

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3. Chancellor Warhol at Lollapalooza on Saturday.

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4. Washed Out at Lollapalooza on Saturday.

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5. Wale at Lollapalooza on Friday night.

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6. Chief Keef at Lollapalooza on Saturday.

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7. The Wet at the Burlington on Friday night.

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8. Metric at Lollapalooza on Friday.

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9. The War on Drugs at Lollapalooza on Friday.

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10. The Growlers at Subterranean on Friday night.

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11. BJ The Chicago Kid at The Shrine on Thursday night.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:43 AM | Permalink

August 4, 2012

The Weekend Desk Report

While Natasha Julius has been on missions of national import quite frequently lately, she's also utilizing The Beachwood Media Company's generous mommy leave policy to tend to her adorable 2-year-old, Tiki. Natasha has been with us from Day One here, so she's accumulated an unlimited number of mommy days to keep her fresh, witty and sane. Once again, I step into a breach I cannot fill, but which I can at least hope to contain.

Schock Treatment
"Peoria's Schock Proposes Tax Breaks For Olympic Medalists."

Hey, they didn't do that alone.

Value Meal
"Cardinal George says that city officials like the mayor shouldn't be trying to define Chicago's values," WLS-AM reports.

"The mayor says in response, he's not defining them he's just expressing them."

Hey, I didn't make up these values, they were posted on the wall when I walked in! I'm just relaying them to the rest of you!

*

For what it's worth, though, anyone who can diagram this statement from Rahm should be awarded an honorary University of Chicago degree:

"First of all, there has been enough been said and I'm going to be focusing on our kids. and I express my views as it relates to the values and I've always had those values which is I'm for gay marriage and legalizing it."

Peeling The Onion
"Jones called the blurb 'a very important story,' then added: 'We're surprised other major news sources are not giving it the coverage it deserves.'"

World Report
Libya begins to normalize.

Police Story
When the raid's on the other foot.

The Weekend In Chicago Rock So Far
Part one of our ongoing coverage.

Illinois Native Will Date You If . . .
. . . You Help Fund Her Book Tour.

The True Story Of How An Incompetent Gun-Runner . . .
. . . Fraudulently Founded Streeterville.

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The Weekend Desk Tip Line: Operatic.

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The Flying Saucer Weekend Brunch Report: "This weekend 10% of all sales will be donated to Vida/SIDA of Humboldt Park and their El Rescate program. This program helps provide transitional residency for homeless LGBTQ youth of Chicago."

saucermenu.jpg
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The Sound Opinions Weekend Listening Report: "Jim and Greg sit down with the hardest working man in rock, Jack White, at Third Man Studios in Nashville."

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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: Mujeres Latinas En Accion

12-7-30-MujeresLatinas.jpg

Arabel Lopez of Mujeres Latinas shares the group's efforts to make a difference in the lives of victims of domestic abuse.

Saturday, August 4 at 7:30 p.m. on CAN TV21
30 min

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Creatives at Work Forum: Health Insurance Options

12-7-30-HealthInsurance.jpg

This forum highlights the services available to artists, musicians, and dancers and choreographers, who are among the least insured artists in the country.

Sunday, August 5 at 9 a.m. on CAN TV21
2 hr

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Ninth Annual Supreme Court Term in Review

12-7-30-SupremeCourt-SM.jpg

A panel of legal experts evaluates the performance of the Illinois Supreme Court during its 2011 term.

Sunday, August 5 at 11 a.m. on CAN TV21
1 hr 30 min

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Local School Council: Reading Possibilities

12-7-30-LocalSchoolCouncil.jpg

Nine-year-old I'deyah Ricketts, who recently published her second book (along with a study guide), tells about her joy of reading and her goal of encouraging other children to read.

Sunday, August 5 at 11 a.m. on CAN TV19
30 min

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Beneficial Bugs in Your Home Garden

12-7-30-HelperBugs.jpg

Join Erik Grossnickle of Bartlett Tree Experts to learn about setting up an integrated pest management program for your garden, including the use of beneficial insects.

Sunday, August 5 at 12:30 p.m. on CAN TV21
30 min

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Winning Marriage Equality in the Courts

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Couples challenging the Illinois law denying gay and lesbian couples the right to marry provide updates on the status of their cases.

Sunday, August 5 at 1 p.m. on CAN TV21
1 hr 30 min

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Rally to Raise the Minimum Wage

12-7-30-MinimumWage.jpg

Protestors from Stand Up! Chicago and other groups demonstrate throughout the city, calling for an increase in Illinois' minimum wage to more than $8.25 per hour.

Sunday, August 5 at 5 p.m. on CAN TV19

1 hr

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:19 AM | Permalink

The True Story Of How An Incompetent Gun-Runner Fraudulently Founded Streeterville

Capt. George Streeter was an incompetent gun-runner and vice lord who once declared himself the governor of the "Lake Michigan District" who would answer only the president.

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From Streeter's Wikipedia entry:

"From 1886 to 1921 Streeter spun lies, forged legal documents and used violence to wrest 186 acres of Lake Michigan shoreline away from its rightful owners. Failing in his efforts to defraud the wealthy landowners, he then turned to robbing the poor by selling them land that he did not own."

See also: Streeterville's Wikipedia entry.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:50 AM | Permalink

Illinois Native Will Date You If You Help Fund Her Book Tour

Which is apparently something worth paying for.


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See also: About Richarde.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:14 AM | Permalink

The Weekend in Chicago Rock Pt. 1

You shoulda been there.

1. Jeff The Brotherhood at Subterranean on Friday night.


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2. The Black Keys at Lollapalooza on Friday night.

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3. Blind Pilot at Lincoln Hall on Friday night.

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4. Ours at Ultra Lounge on Thursday night.

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5. O Rappa at Lollapalooza on Friday.

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6. Shonen Knife at the Empty Bottle on Thursday night.

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7. Black Sabbath at Lollapalooza on Friday night.

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8. M83 at Lollapalooza on Friday.

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9. Passion Pit at Lollapalooza on Friday night.

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10. The Sex Bombs at the Elbo Room on Thursday night.

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11. Bassnectar at Lollapalooza on Friday night.

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12. Band of Skulls at Lollapalooza on Friday.

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13. The Bribes at Township on Thursday night.

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14. Alder Kings at Reggie's on Friday night.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:32 AM | Permalink

August 3, 2012

The [Friday] Papers

"A onetime top aide to former Cook County Board President Todd Stroger was arrested Thursday on charges he pocketed nearly $35,000 in payoffs in return for steering county contracts to several acquaintances willing to make the kickbacks," the Tribune reports.

"The federal charges against Eugene Mullins, Stroger's childhood friend, come nearly two years after another high-ranking Stroger adviser was charged in Cook County in a similar scheme."

Oh what a piece of work is a man named Gene Mullins!

*

The Sun-Times captures Stroger's priceless initial reaction:

"When the Sun-Times informed Stroger that his best friend and long-time confidant had been indicted, the first thing he said was: 'That's too bad because he'll have to spend money on lawyers.'"

*

Back to the Trib:

"The four individuals who allegedly kicked back money to Mullins - including one executive producer to WVON radio's Cliff Kelley - were also charged in the 12-count indictment unsealed Thursday in federal court. Mullins allegedly steered contracts to two others as well, but both returned the checks after Mullins solicited kickbacks from them, authorities said. Neither was charged and could be key witnesses for the government.

"According to the charges, Mullins intentionally steered contracts worth a little less than $25,000 to the six, knowing that they wouldn't need the approval of the Cook County Board at that level."

Ah, the infamous 24-9 contracts. My favorite was this one.

*

"In October 2010, another former top Stroger aide, Carla Oglesby, was charged by Cook County prosecutors with stealing more than $300,000 in taxpayer funds by steering more than a dozen contracts to herself and others who did no work for the money."

To see what a piece of work is a woman named Carla Oglesby, see the item That's Carla!

See also the item Toddler Going Out With A Bang.

Twisting Trust
The mayor's infrastructure trust held its first meeting on Thursday and his appointment board members seem just as confused as everyone else as to how this is going to work. "There's also confusion in the investment world," Phil Ponce said on Chicago Tonight last night.

CT correspondent Paris Schutz reported that it's not at all a slam dunk that the Trust's first project will be Retrofit Chicago, in which the Trust would hire a private company to make city buildings and facilities more energy efficient and then take their profits from what the city saves in utility bills.

The Tribune reports that half of the $200 million that would be spent on the plan could go to converting city water pumping stations from steam power to electricity.

The real question, then, is this: Couldn't the city do the conversion itself and keep all of the savings?

The theoretical answer is that the city, being broke, would have to borrow the $200 million to fund the project. (Even if the city wasn't broke, it would almost certainly borrow the money in chunks over time instead of getting it all upfront like it would via the investors working through the Trust.) The question then becomes whether paying the money back with interest would come to more or less than the portion of savings the city would pay to a private investor in the form of its profits to do it instead. Without those profits, there is no incentive for a private investor.

For the investor, the revenue stream created by the project - in this case the savings the city would be prepared to hand over - would have to be enough above and beyond the outlay to make it worthwhile profit-wise. What I'm not clear is if the investor would be the contractor, or if an investor would hire the contractor, or if the investor is one of the financial institutions that has already seeded the Trust and the money for the contractor would be taken out of there, paid back at a low interest rate, presumably.

Now, not every project would have to be financed the same way. But that's the general gist of as near as I can tell. The most important aspect is that the only projects that will get funded through the Trust will be those that can generate a profitable revenue stream for the private concern. So the Trust will hardly be the grand solution to all the city's infrastructure ills, as the mayor likes to often intimate. Unless, for example, you start charging a toll on roads where a private company has fixed the potholes, pothole repair won't be part of the Trust. Only a narrow band of infrastructure projects will be able to generate profits. Bridge repair, for example, is likely to be another non-starter.

As far as Wrigley Field goes, the Trust is meant only for public assets. Wrigley Field is a private asset. Maybe the Trust could help finance surrounding neighborhood improvements, but in conjunction with a Wrigley rehab that might also include public money, that's likely to get complicated.

*

Schutz also spoke to the BGA's Emily Miller, who was at the meeting to monitor transparency and governance issues. Miller essentially said that the mayor's transparency promises are worth the paper they're written on. Which they aren't. Written on. Paper. Anywhere.

*

And then there's oversight.

"Emanuel aides sought to portray the fight over the inspector general's reach as a non-issue that was settled months ago," WBEZ reports.

"The Mayor has said from the start that he expects the Trust to act to the highest ethical standards and believes the IG already has oversight of Trust projects because of the City funding being used," said Kathleen Strand, an Emanuel spokesperson, in an e-mail. "He's glad to see the board implementing that vision."

That misses the point, which is whether the Trust itself will be subject to oversight from the inspector general. But nice try.

*

Rewrite: "Meanwhile, a spokesperson from the Emanuel administration, which has promised Trust trasparency but refused to put it in writing, refused to answer questions about inspector general oversight, instead sending a prepared statement via e-mail."

*

"In a lighter moment at the meeting, Bell explained that despite the commitment to deliberative decisions,'I did make an executive decision. We do have a logo,'" the Tribune report says.

"The logo is a triangle made of up three colored sections that represent all the trust's stakeholders," Bell said, "along with transparency, and is something that looks like a pyramid, which is foundational."

Because the Trib failed to include an image of the logo with its story, I'm going with this until further notice.

Bell then adjourned the meeting because he had to catch a flight to Bilderberg.

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

Pandrew's Picks No. 1
Bad-Ass T-Shirts.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: 24-9.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:51 AM | Permalink

Pandrew's Picks Episode 1: Bad-Ass T-Shirts

Overplayed? Fuck you, hipster.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:47 AM | Permalink

The Week in Chicago Rock

You shoulda been there.

1. Delta Spirit at Lincoln Hall on Wednesday night.


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2. The Bouncing Souls at the Metro on Sunday night.

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3. Slim Cessna's Auto Club at the Beat Kitchen on Wednesday night.

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4. Gaelic Storm at Lincoln Hall on Tuesday night.

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5. The Menzingers at the Metro on Sunday night.

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6. The Goddamn Gallows at Reggie's on Sunday night.

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7. Little Boy Jr. at the Double Door on Sunday night.

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8. Filthy Still at Reggie's on Sunday night.

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9. Fargo at the House of Blues on Sunday night.

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10. Chance the Rapper at Park West on Thursday night.

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11. Band of Horses at the Metro on Thursday night.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:10 AM | Permalink

August 2, 2012

Political Ad Data Comes Online - But It's Not Searchable

After a bruising months-long fight between media corporations and the Federal Communications Commission, a government website came online today that will feature political ad data from television stations around the country.

This means that detailed files about political advertising - which show who is buying political ads, how much they are paying, and when the ads are running, among other information - will finally be available online. In the past, those interested in the files, which are by law public, had to travel to stations to get physical copies.

Though the new system is far from perfect, it will likely give the public and journalists a new window into how an expected few billion dollars are spent on political ads on local television this election cycle.

For now, only the affiliates of the top four broadcast networks in the top 50 markets will have to upload their political files to the FCC site. (The Sunlight Foundation has a map of the missing markets here.) All broadcasters will have to start complying in July 2014. And the rule is not retroactive for political ad data - so the site will only have information on political ad buys going forward.

The FCC requires broadcasters to upload information on political ad purchases "as soon as possible, which the Commission has determined is immediately absent extraordinary circumstances."

So what can we find on the new site? So far, not very much. Few broadcasters have uploaded files. But there are a few examples of what we'll get more of in the coming weeks.

Here, for example, are the files posted by WCPO, the ABC affiliate in Cincinnati. If you navigate to the "Federal" folder, then the "President" folder, then the "Obama" folder, you will find this contract for an ad buy the campaign made this week.

You can see that GMMB Inc., a Democratic ad firm in Washington that works with the Obama campaign, paid a total of $67,110 for three days' worth of ads on the station this week. The ads were targeting the 35+ demographic and ran on shows including Jeopardy and Jimmy Kimmel Live!. The filing does not make clear which specific ad was run.

The new system has a few serious limitations.

It is difficult to get an overall picture of spending by a single campaign, super PAC, or other outside group. You can only search by station name, network affiliation, or channel number, not by, say, typing in the name of the political campaign or outside group that bought an ad. I asked the FCC about this and an agency official who declined to be named said that "plans are to have a search function shortly but the scope is yet undetermined."

Then there's the fact that, as we've previously noted, the FCC declined to require broadcasters to upload files in a single format. That means that it won't be easy to aggregate data and analyze it in volume. That's in contrast, for example, to federal election filings, which are uploaded in a single, so-called "machine-readable" format that can be analyzed with computers.

The head of the FCC's media bureau has said that putting the files in a single format is a "long-term goal."

The new FCC website is also still under construction. The "Help" section, for example, is blank. And a page for developers also appears incomplete.

Another part of the public file that is worth keeping an eye on requires broadcasters to post "a list of the chief executive officers or members of the executive committee or board of directors" of any entity that pays for ads or programming on a "political matter or matter involving the discussion of a controversial issue of public importance." This could come in handy when, as often happens around Election Day, opaque outside groups are created and start buying ads.

It's also worth noting that there's a range of other non-political information from broadcasters' public file that will be going online, including: information on who owns a station; an Equal Employment Opportunity file describing the racial makeup of a station's employees; a map showing where a station's signal reaches; descriptions of children's programming on the station; and a range of other information.

ProPublica launched a project earlier this year, Free the Files, to get readers to go to TV stations and send in political files to be posted on our site. Stay tuned for more coverage of the FCC and political ad spending.

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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

* Political Ad Transparency Rule Clears Another Hurdle

* Broadcasters Make Emergency Motion To Block Transparency Rule

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Comments welcome.


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 2:16 PM | Permalink

Our Lieutenant Governor Picks A Funny Tune

"Lt. Gov. Sheila Simon welcomes The Onion to its new home in Chicago with a song about Illinois corruption at a Better Government Association Young Professionals Board fundraiser at Paris Club (July 31, 2012)."


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Lyrics via Rich Miller's Capital Fax:

We've had our share of governors who
Took some money from me and from you
They thought they were the smartest guys in town
They just could not hold in
Something f-in golden
Thanks to tapes we know exactly how
They're in the jailhouse now
They're in the jailhouse now
They had trials once or twice, and Colorado must be nice
They're in the jailhouse now

Yodel . . .

We have a place named Dixon
Sure could use some fixin'
The city clerk there may have robbed the town
She has found her way
To have that city pay
To race her horses for a Triple Crown
She's in the courthouse now
She's in the courthouse now
She's gambled once or twice, with public funds and loaded dice
She's in the courthouse now

Yodel . . .

I see our state a different way
Work with my friends at the BGA
Think of better laws and write them down
The vote might be a squeaker
Did someone call the Speaker?
I've heard he's the sweetest guy around
We're in the statehouse now
We're in the statehouse now
We'll try it once or twice, some real disclosure would be nice
We're in the statehouse now

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:38 PM | Permalink

The [Thursday] Papers

"As the head of an Illinois nonprofit that provides care and job training to the disabled and elderly, James Starnes was required to report publicly that his compensation more than doubled over four years, eclipsing $428,000 in pay and benefits," the Tribune reports.

"But because his salary now comes from a private company he formed to run the day-to-day operations of the Galesburg charity, he didn't have to disclose publicly what he earned last year, Starnes said.

"'That's private information,' he said.

"The use of for-profit companies to manage nonprofits has grown increasingly common in Illinois, a practice that has permitted organizations relying heavily on state money to shield pay levels from public scrutiny, critics say."

*

James Starnes, you are Today's Worst Person In Chicago.

*

"Do I make pretty good money? Yes, I do," Starnes told the Trib. "Do I have a lot on my table? I have a huge amount on my table. I have 10,000 people that I care for every year in all of our entities. And so, you know, if you want to compare my job with the person that has a shelter that serves 23 families a year in a small town, I don't think they're comparable."

I've got news for you, Starnes: We've all got a lot on our table. It must be nice to have the kind of perks, privileges and support that go along with being a chief executive. Much harder to be disabled and elderly.

*

"In his free time Jim enjoys motorcycling around the country, spending time and boating at Lake of the Ozarks in Missouri and restoring collector cars."

Red Flag
To those aldermen - including Proco Chicken Moreno - suckered into believing the mayor's Infrastructure Trust would abide by the state's open meetings and freedom of information acts, the first worrisome sign:

"The mayor appointed all members of the trust's board, including Chairman James Bell, who recently retired as chief financial officer and executive vice president of Boeing Co. He and the other board members either could not be reached for comment or declined to comment."

Yeah, there's not gonna be a lot of commenting coming out of there.

*

"The five-member board overseeing Mayor Rahm Emanuel's $1.7 billion Infrastructure Trust held its first meeting Thursday amid demands from its feistiest member to do what the mayor would not: give the city's inspector general carte blanche to investigate all Trust-funded project," the Sun-Times reports.

"During his four years as Chicago's inspector general, David Hoffman was a constant thorn in former Mayor Richard M. Daley's side. After briefly mulling his own run for mayor, Hoffman joined forces with Emanuel to propose ethics reforms and refused to criticize the mayor, even though Emanuel has not yet fully implemented those changes.

"On Thursday, Hoffman signaled that his days of sitting quietly on the sidelines may be coming to an end.

"He demanded that current Inspector General Joe Ferguson be empowered to investigate the Trust that will decide what projects to fund and what user fees to impose to guarantee five financing giants receive a sufficient return on their investment."

Hoffman is one of two board members not asked to serve as an officer.

*

On the other hand, Diane Ferguson will server as secretary-treasurer. This Diane Ferguson.

*

"At its first meeting Thursday morning, board Chairman James Bell, a retired Boeing Co. executive, put out a proposed set of rules to guide trust operations that was drafted by David Narefsky, a Chicago lawyer whose practice focuses on government matters," Greg Hinz reports for Crain's.

"A copy was not immediately available. Officials promised to email me one, and I'll put it up when they do."

They didn't bring extra copies to hand out to reporters? If it was on the table at the meeting, it's a public document. Or it would be if this was a public body.

"[Hoffman] described the document as 'fairly long and impressive' and said it appears to require that trust actions will be subject to Illinois' open meetings and Freedom of Information laws."

Well, as long as they're keeping up appearances.

Block That Kick
I didn't know Block 37 still had tenants to lose.

Dweeb Demolition
"The Los Angeles Dodgers will conduct their first Star Trek Night at Friday's game against the Chicago Cubs at Dodger Stadium, with William Shatner throwing out a ceremonial first pitch," the City News Service of Los Angeles reports.

"Fans are being encouraged to dress in their favorite Star Trek costumes. The customary Friday night fireworks show will be set to Star Trek-themed music."

Then they'll be gathered at second base and blown up.

Simon Sings
Our Lieutenant Governor Picks A Funny Tune.

Dennis Rodman's Kid Lit
Writes children's book, plans world tour.

Political Ad Data Comes Online
But it's not searchable.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Appearing daily.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:35 PM | Permalink

Dennis Rodman Has Written A Children's Book Called Dennis The Wild Bull

"While Rodman's colorful character might fit well with kid lit, let's just hope that this bedtime story doesn't include an afterward on missing your child support payments."


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See also: Dennis Rodman Wrote A Kids' Book And Isn't Telling Anyone What It's About

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:30 AM | Permalink

August 1, 2012

The [Wednesday] Papers

Yesterday's news tomorrow.

1. "Only $623 million remains from the $2.98 billion paid to the city after former Mayor Richard M. Daley privatized the Chicago Skyway and Chicago parking meters," the Sun-Times notes.

"The windfall was supposed to last for 99 and 75 years respectively and replace the continuing income once generated by those assets."

Richard M. Daley, now bringing his financial acumen to Coca-Cola.

2. "Daley's pace of change in the schools was too slow for reform advocates," the Tribune reports.

"Susan Crown, who has pushed for an education overhaul and runs a foundation on digital learning, told the Tribune last month that reform under Daley was incremental in 'a system that needed disruption as opposed to tweaking.'"

Really? That's the first time I've heard that complaint - and it's ridiculous on its face.

The pace of change at CPS under Daley was frenetic. Paul Vallas and Gery Chico ripped the place apart, for both good and ill, and then Arne Duncan came in and undid some of it and did some other stuff and the Ron Huberman came in and tried to do a CompStat thing and if anything, the pace has been too fast in terms of determining what makes sense and sticking with it rather than jumping from fad to fad without addressing the system's underlying problems.

Or maybe Crown just means the schools haven't been privatized fast enough.

*

One of the commenters notes that "the article only quoted 'school reform' (read - union busting) advocates." I was struck by that as well; when it comes to education, "reformers" are almost always union-hating conservatives advocating for more charter schools, merit pay and the like. And that is their right. But the word "reform" can be confusing when "privatizers" might be more accurate, and it doesn't leave room for those advocating for liberal reform that is actually liberal.

3. Such as the Illinois Lottery?

4. I join the Parking Ticket Geek in applauding this Street Cleaning Samaritan.

In my neighborhood, the orange signs that went up on our trees every month to warn of impending street cleaning was the visual cue for everyone to move their cars. Then those orange signs were replaced with permanent signs poled into the ground that just became part of the visual clutter; many of us never remembered to move our cars and we ended up paying mightily for it.

E-mail and text alerts came along to save the day in my ward, but given the digital divide, it's not a solution for every ward.

I also want to commend the Samaritan for his signwork. Note the continuing consistency of using orange, plus the easy-to-read clean and understandable lettering, as opposed to the often undecipherable messaging of the real deal. Bravo.

5. "Illinois' legislative watchdog closed an investigation into how someone besides state Sen. Jacqueline Collins voted her switch in late May, casting the 30th and deciding Senate vote for a gambling expansion package that she said she opposed," the Sun-Times reports.

"In a letter released Tuesday, Legislative Inspector General Thomas J. Homer said he decided no evidence existed that whoever voted errantly on the gambling bill while Collins (D-Chicago) wasn't at her desk did so 'maliciously.'

"'While there is ample evidence that someone other than Sen. Jacqueline Collins voted her switch, there is insufficient evidence to establish who actually voted her switch or that the offender did so maliciously,' Homer wrote."

It was just an honest, irreversible mistake.

"Homer said he interviewed Collins, the Senate parliamentarian, the legal counsel to Senate Minority Leader Christine Radogno (R-Lemont) and state Sen. Donne Trotter (D-Chicago) 'to determine whether reasonable cause existed to believe that a violation of any ethics rules or laws has occurred.

"'Following my investigation and careful consideration, I have determined to close the investigation without further action,' Homer wrote."

I have not determined just what happened, therefore I will close the investigation!

"Collins said she was in the back of the Senate chamber getting an aspirin for a headache when her voting switch was cast the wrong way.

"In her absence, she said, 'Trotter was monitoring my switch.'"

So Trotter did it.

"Homer said in his interview with Collins, she 'indicated to me that she does not know who voted her switch, and Senator Trotter denied to me that he voted her switch.'"

Then who did, Trotter? You were the monitor.

"Homer went on to write, 'Senator Collins explained that it is common for staff or another senator to vote the switch of a member who is away from his or her desk when the roll is taken. She did not believe that the matter under review was that unusual or merited an investigation.'"

Except that whoever did it didn't vote on her behalf but against her wishes. Unless that's just what she wants us to think.

"Neither Collins nor Homer returned messages Tuesday seeking comment on the closure of his legislative probe."

Maybe somebody else picked up their phones.

6. Rahm's Fiscal House.

Not in order.

7. The Chambers Report: How Bush And Obama Undermined America.

Game didn't change after all.

8. For Chicago's Crafty Kith And Kin.

Folk art at the Art Institute.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Crafty.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:37 AM | Permalink

Rahm's Fiscal House

"City of Chicago debt payments are expected to soar by $278 million next year to the record level of $1.55 billion, according to a city financial analysis released Tuesday by Mayor Rahm Emanuel," the Tribune reports.

I hope we've learned by now not to trust any numbers coming out of the Emanuel administration, but then again, not learning that lesson helped get us into this mess in the first place.

"The debt problem began to grow a decade ago, under former Mayor Richard Daley. Overall city long-term debt has nearly doubled during the past 10 years as the city borrowed money to expand O'Hare International Airport, upgrade its sewer and water systems, fix streets and build new libraries and police stations. More than $1 billion also was borrowed to pay retroactive police and fire raises and cover legal judgments against the city. Payments are expected to surge in 2013 because of the way the debt is structured."

At the same time, while Daley was hardly a prudent or even attentive manager when it came to spending, these stories always forget the enormous fact that it was Wall Street's recklessness and greed that imploded the economy and is chiefly to blame for turning manageable problems into unmitigated disasters.

Now, however, we have every right to judge officeholders - including the president - for how they respond to crises we know they inherited but we hired to solve.

*

"The analysis indicates that Emanuel has continued the trend, started under Daley, of reducing the number of city workers. Payroll records verify that, showing the number of workers has dropped by nearly 1,300, to the current 32,925 employees, since Emanuel took office in mid-2011."

Is this really wise? Throwing 1,300 more people out of work is likely to hurt the local economy not help it, right? Democrats argue one thing nationally but behave differently locally. Yes, the city budget must be balanced, unlike the federal budget. But the city budget, as we have just seen, hasn't been balanced for a long time. And there always seems to be money for pet projects and corporate subsidies. We need a change of thinking. Otherwise it's just the same old game.

*

"Although the size of the city workforce has decreased by about 20 percent in the past decade, personnel costs have gone up by 14 percent, with rising wages and higher health care costs fueling that increase, the analysis states."

I'd like to see - and I haven't dug into the report so maybe it can be teased out of it, maybe not - if a rise in personnel costs are in any way the result of lower-wage employees being let go and while higher-wage employees get hired on and/or get even sweeter deals. There always seem to be raises on hand for the city's executives, who somehow need to be motivated in a way that the rank-and-file don't.

*

Meanwhile, the Sun-Times reports that "Worker's compensation costs now the subject of a jurisdictional dispute between Inspector General Joe Ferguson and Finance Committee Chairman Edward M. Burke (14th) have also continued their steady climb - from $58.4 million in 2003 to $114.5 million last year."

Typically, this is where the tough-talking Rahm goes wobbly.

"Mayor Rahm Emanuel refused Monday to take sides in the political battle between Inspector General Joe Ferguson and Ald. Edward M. Burke (14th) over access to information needed to investigate Chicago's $100 million-a-year worker's compensation program," the Sun-Times also reports.

Burke is the chairman of the council's finance committee, which administers the program.

Furthermore:

"(Burke) has sole authority to process and settle workers compensation claims and handpick attorneys when claims are challenged."

In other words, the workers comp buck stops on Burke's desk. So do Rahm's balls.

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"My budget is aggressive about reforming the worker's comp," Rahm said. "We're aggressively pursuing $15 million in savings from worker's comp. I don't need a report to do that. I know that it needs reform."

So worker's comp costs have gone from $58 million to $114 million and Rahm's working super hard to save $15 million. And he knows the program needs reform, he just doesn't want to know exactly what is wrong with it. That's leadership! He'd rather close mental health clinics than tangle with Ed Burke.

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"The mayor has ruled out the politically toxic move of raising property or sales taxes, administration sources said," the Tribune reports.

It wasn't politically toxic during Rahm's campaign.

And he just raised property taxes - for the second time since coming into office.

Not according to the Trib: "But Emanuel avoided property and sales tax increases, which can prove politically fatal to government leaders."

And don't argue that the school budget is a different story; Rahm made the decision. And some funds are apparently fungible; the same Trib article reports that Rahm "also began shifting pension costs off City Hall's books to Chicago Public Schools."

Finally, keep your toxic and fatal remarks to yourself. I'm not arguing in favor of increased taxes, but embedding an anti-tax message as received wisdom into news stories only furthers a talking point and constrains terms of the debate.

*

And was now really the time to do this? Guess who makes up the difference.

*

Don't fear though, help is here. From Wall Street.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:18 AM | Permalink

For Kith And Kin

Uploaded on Tuesday by the Antiques and the Arts Channel in conjunction with Antiques and the Arts Weekly's cover story this week. It could use a soundtrack, but still.


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Previously:

From Chicago Tonight (image gallery and text here):

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And:

"For Kith and Kin: The Folk Art Collection at the Art Institute of Chicago, written by American Art curators Judy Barter and Monica Obniski, highlights sixty illustrious and unique works from, as the title suggests, the Art Institute's Folk Art collection. The pieces, many of which have never been published, are on permanent display in the newly reinstalled Folk Art gallery."

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:42 AM | Permalink

The Chambers Report: How Bush And Obama Undermined America

I.

Wither our leaders?

This question has troubled me for decades. I have raised it among academic folk, business people, sports persons, and especially politicians at every level. This obsessive interest in the paucity of leadership in our country long ago turned me into a political junkie. It's one reason my all-too-sprawling private library is packed with volumes about politicos here and abroad, some of them pretty good leaders in the end, but hardly enough of them.

We now seem to be in something of a heyday of dramatic books about politics. Perhaps that's because our leadership is so pathetic, wherever we look. Failed politicians, ironically, energize angry observers who, in turn, grind out good reading for the rest of us. Since political commentaries are almost invariably ponderings about leadership - what it is, who is good at it, where is it taking us - I want to focus here on three of the most probing recent political studies. Two of these are by Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter Ron Suskind: The Way Of The World: A Story Of Truth And Hope In An Age Of Extremism (2008) and Confidence Men: Wall Street, Washington, And The Education Of A President (2011). The third book - Game Change: Obmaa And The Clintons, McCain And Palin, And The Race Of A Lifetime (2010) - is co-authored by two of our leading students of politics today, John Heilemann and Mark Halperin.

Looked at together, these three volumes, totaling some 1,300 pages in all, offer hundreds of insights into the last dozen political years in America. All the major actors are here - from the Clintons, through the Bushes, to the Obamas - as well as countless lesser ones, including Sarah Palin, John McCain's unwelcome gift to all of us. In the end, the question above about our leaders remains largely unanswered. Where are they?

From tales of Bush's stubborn incompetence to Obama's surprising reluctance to do the things we all expected him to do (at least, the things many of us expected him to do), we are left dangling. The disappearance of true leadership has cast a pall on the United States, and thereby on much of the rest of the world as well. Here we are saddled with a shamefully inept Congress, a shambling White House, and an aging and divisive Supreme Court. And this crippling anemia has spread. Are the Europeans, the Asians, the Africans, the Aussies, any better off than those of us here in the Americas? The sole politician anywhere today who seems capable of providing even a dollop of inspiration is Boris Johnson, the zany mayor of London, who's wowing 'em at the Olympics. Just ask the Queen. She loves him!

But read on!

II.

On October 3, 2008, George and Laura Bush, for the first time during his White House years, visited the 43rd president's childhood home in Midland, Texas. The modest three-bedroom house was purchased by his father, the 41st president, in 1951 for $9,000 and formally dedicated as a presidential birthplace in a 2006 ceremony attended by 43's parents and spouse, but not by "W" himself. As the Bushes were leaving the house, they were greeted by members of the press, one of whom asked the president if things had changed since he had left town years earlier. Here was his response:

"You know, I've told my friends here, I said, 'You know, I'm not going to change as a person because of politics in Washington' - that's what I said when I left. I think they appreciate that. I want them to know that, you know, even though I had to deal with a lot of tough issues, that I'm still the same person that they knew before and that, you know, I'm wiser, more experienced, but my heart and my values didn't change."

As reported by Suskind in the New York Times Magazine, "the president had all but vanished" a month later, his 20% approval rating at the time being the lowest on record of any president's in history. In Suskind's view, Bush's abysmal rating was fully-deserved, standing, as it did, as "testimony to how the country had rejected his prideful, intensely personal model of leadership."

By November 3, 2008, "Americans simply wanted him gone." And gone he was, "a pariah across the land he'd governed with will and nerve." True to his statement above, "W" hadn't changed an iota or grown a bit while in office. And now he wasn't going to apologize for anything that might have gone wrong during his eight years, either.

"He wouldn't be discussing lessons learned . . . No, he was in hiding. Nor was he planning to leave the house (the Presidential Mansion) the next day. He voted by absentee ballot. The president of the world's leading democracy would be staying home on Election Day."

It is difficult to overstate the deep contempt Suskind felt for the drawly, inarticulate Texan, a contempt that drips from every page of his lengthy indictment, The Way Of The World, a venomous volume published just prior to his Times article.

It is a dismaying analysis of just how much the United States - and the world - had sacrificed and lost during the disastrous, furtive reign of Bush, Karl Rove, Dick Cheney, and Donald Rumsfeld. Suskind depicts these men as truly malevolent figures for whom dishonesty, treachery, and secrecy were all. They yearned for dictatorship and so most of what they did over two presidential terms was to undermine democracy, using the catastrophic 9/11 destruction of the twin trade towers always as their justification for imprisoning people without reason, for torturing them, and then justifying it all in the name of an abused phantom called "national security."

Suskind points out eloquently and convincingly that the greatest threat to national - and world - security in the first decade of the 21st century was not Osama bin Laden, but the George W. Bush administration, a group of arrogant, supremely ignorant people who had bullied their way largely unchecked through a sheepish world for eight years. Their victims were countless, including Benazir Bhutto (the candidate for Pakistan's presidency, again, who discovered, only days before her assassination, that she had been abandoned by the United States at her moment of greatest need), Prime Minister Tony Blair and the British people, and all of the rest of us.

They "led" always by fear and furtiveness, never by reason and openness. As a result, they also lied their way into an immoral war in Iraq, even while snubbing the Iranians (who came to us quietly in 2003 seeking detente), and generally leaving the world much worse off than they found it.

Suskind sees all this as a sad and shameful squandering of the United States's "moral authority," much of it bestowed by 9/11, so that, by the end of the years of Second Bush, "no one believed what came out of the U.S. anymore."

To rest his case, Suskind ends by noting that, despite all their protestations to the contrary, Bush-Cheney knew full well, months before attacking Iraq, that Saddam Hussein had no weapons of mass destruction. They just didn't care. They had their own agenda to follow.

Given the documentable evils of the Bush years, Suskind doubtless looked to the election of Barack Obama, Bush's stunningly gifted and seemingly highly moral successor, as a kind of Second Coming of one destined to undo all, or at least most, of the misdeeds of the criminal Republicans. Was he to be disappointed? We'll see below when we look at Suskind's next work. But first, let's glance at another, frequently hilarious volume's depiction of what would become the most remarkable presidential campaign ever witnessed.

III.

It's difficult to know just what to make of Game Change, a volume based on numberless interviews and much research, yet entirely void of note references or any revelation of resources. Not just words are put in people's mouths here, but thoughts are put in their heads, too. Yet, many months after the book's splashy first appearance, very few refutations of fact had come forth, so this reader assumed - and still assumes - that most of what is said here is very nearly fact.

Though co-authored, Game Change speaks with one, very funny voice. The witty language brings all the actors to life, as we are absorbed by the most amazing presidential run-up in American history. It's a more riveting tale than any novel or play could produce.

John McCain's improbable vice presidential nominee, Sarah Palin, of course, was easy for the authors to lampoon. She seemed to invite it. When she was prepping - or supposed to be prepping - for her all-important interview with Katie Couric, for example, she insisted upon first completing a questionnaire from her local Wasilla, Alaska, newspaper: "How 'bout I do the Katie interview after I get The Frontiersman interview questions and reply to them? It's been my priority."

The irony here is rich because the nadir of her Couric third-degree was a query about Palin's suspect reading habits. When Katie wondered what newspapers and magazines she read to stay abreast of the world, the governor responded "Most of them." "Specifically?" asked Katie. "All of them, any of them that have been in front of me all these years." "Can you name a few?" "I have a vast variety of sources where we get our news, too," Palin said. "Alaska isn't a foreign country."

This from a wannabe vice president who couldn't herself name more than handful of countries, who didn't know why North and South Korea were separate nations, and who thought it was Saddam Hussein who attacked America on 9/11. Obviously Palin had never been much of a reader and had no intellectual curiosity at all, but, more amazingly, she didn't even know the name of her upcoming debate foe, the sitting vice president. Over and over, and despite being constantly corrected by her debate coaches, she referred to Obama's running mate as "Senator Obiden - or was it O'Biden?" The corrections never stuck, so her tutors finally suggested that she simply call him Joe - which she did.

Palin comes across as totally clueless, a vacuous former beauty contestant, poorly educated at five second-rate colleges, who would be an utter disaster anywhere other than in Alaska (she, of course, couldn't get out of there fast enough, and so would soon drop her gubernatorial title, go on the stump for masses of money, and eventually abandon Alaska altogether for gated-community luxury in suburban Arizona).

The HBO special later based on this book would turn Palin - brilliantly portrayed by Julianne Moore - into a vapid anti-intellectual who didn't know a whit about much of anything, especially anything political . . . including who really runs Great Britain (the Queen or the Prime Minister?), where Afghanistan is, or just what the Fed might do. For her to be within "a heartbeat of the presidency" would clearly be a disaster for everybody, the USA and the world. Even many members of the McCain staff came to accept this view.

For the most part, while the other main players in this drama get somewhat kinder treatment, they generally take their knocks, as well. Hillary and Bill emerge as foul-mouthed mixed-bags, alternately impressive and disgruntling. As for McCain, he comes across as an old warrior of limited brainpower, stunted ambition, and few credentials to be president. Throughout the book, he evolves into an embarrassment, a man with few principles, running on a "war-hero" image forged half-a-century earlier. He is the man, after all, who, with almost no reflection and very little vetting, gave us Sarah Palin in the first place. As these authors see it, a man who could so perilously act on an irresponsible whim such as this deserved the presidency little more than Palin deserved the second spot.

In the end here, only Obama emerges unscathed. The infatuated authors present him consistently in these pages as the smartest person in every room he enters, a man whose preternatural cool, eloquence, and astonishing intelligence make all the other players seem quite ordinary. Obama is, to them, the only one qualified for the big job he wants. To see if such optimism was warranted or if grotesque disappointment might yet lurk on the political horizon, we need to look at Suskind's most recent book.

IV.

Written only three years after his angry diatribe about the villainous Bush team's efforts to destroy democracy both here and abroad, Confidence Men (the title is borrowed from Melville) presumably could be much more upbeat with a handsome and seemingly open-minded intellectual, rather than a stubborn troglodyte, sitting in the Oval Office. One can readily imagine Suskind's joy in watching Obama's triumphal march to the White House in 2008 to clean up the Bush-made swamp of lies and incompetence and put the U.S. back on the right road toward its self-evoked destiny as "The Greatest Nation on Earth." Such joy was, in fact, felt all across the globe, as symbolized by the bestowal of a ridiculously premature Nobel Peace Prize on the untested new president. A right-angle historical turn was badly needed by everybody. And Obama, suddenly the most famous person on Earth, was elected as its agent.

Unfortunately, it was to prove otherwise. Almost from the get-go, the shiny new Pennsylvania Avenue resident was a disappointment, especially to sharp-eyed analysts such as Ron Suskind. After our seeming escape from the incompetence of the Bush years, the developing fact that our anointed "savior" would apparently be little better was a very bitter pill to swallow. Despite whatever his hopes might have been for Obama, Suskind reveals throughout the endless bloated pages of his new book his grotesque disappointment that, only two years into the presidency, the admittedly brilliant Barack had almost entirely squandered his huge mandate of 2008, lost all of the momentum he had brought to the Office of President, and made the world little better off than Bush had left it.

How did this happen? That's the argument of Confidence Men, a volume blasted by one critic in the New York Times as "bloated, portentous, reeking of self-importance" . . . a tedious repetitive listing of Obama's many failings that is "at least 200 pages too long." Amen! This worn-out reader couldn't wait to finish this jeremiad and finally put it aside.

Even so, there are many plusses in the book. As listed here, Obama's chief early sins were these: (1) rash inexperience; (2) appointing the wrong people; (3) a total inability to make decisions; and (4) an unflagging self-assurance that his golden tongue could resolve all problems.

Alas, his utter failure to assume control freed egomaniacs like Larry Summers and Timothy Geithner to lead the amateur president around by the nose, almost entirely shutting down his White House. Both were continually driven by their own arrogance and disloyalty to Obama to undermine his every move. Seeing this presidential ineptitude for what it was, Summers told budget director Peter Orszag that "We're home alone . . . there's no adult in charge. Clinton would never have made these mistakes."

At bottom, as Suskind sees it, Obama has thus far allowed his own arrogance - his unalterable sense that he's always the smartest person in sight - to sap virtually every strength that he originally brought to his lofty office, allowing distasteful men (and they are all men) such as Rahm Emanuel and the others to ruin his presidency. Like Woodrow Wilson and Jimmy Carter, both failed loners and brainy academics, Obama has been stranded atop his naive, lofty ego by "the best and the brightest" of his own time.

But whereas JFK had his family all around him to get him through crises and help him re-establish himself, Obama has only his self-certainty to sustain him, a slim reed to lean upon. His braininess alone can't seem to rescue him. As Paul Volker aptly put it, "Obama is smart, but being smart is not enough."

Surprisingly, Suskind tries to end his sad book on an up-note, implying that with Emanuel, Summers and Geithner out of the way (the latter was apparently headed for the exit some time ago, but it hasn't happened yet), and Peter Rouse and Bill Daley running the White House, we might expect better of our talented "leader" in the future.

Unfortunately, Obama's recent dithering on the debt-ceiling crisis and other matters has cast a dark shadow on that possibility. He is who he is - and what he has long appeared to be: a charming, supremely articulate and brilliant law professor always looking for the next article to explain things, a man basically uninterested in making decisions, only in talking things through . . . endlessly.

According to Suskind, what we all need today is "confidence" - in our banks, in our country, in our leaders, in each other - but the "tragedy" of our time may well be, ironically, that, just like with his predecessor, our president's unbending confidence in his own, as yet unproven abilities may prove to be the largest underminer of all.

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

* The Last Boy Of Summer

* Melville, Elvis And Baseball

* A Tale Of Three Cities

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:25 AM | Permalink

MUSIC - The Weekend In Chicago Rock.
TV - Time For Royal Scroungers To Earn Their Keep.
POLITICS - More College Aid Going To The Rich.
SPORTS - Bears At Peak McCaskey.

BOOKS - Before Breitbart.

PEOPLE PLACES & THINGS - Chicagoetry: New Fucking Frying Pan.


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