Chicago - Dec. 13, 2017
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Army Of Darkness
ElRey
5 p.m.
A discount-store employee is time-warped to a medieval castle, where he is the foretold savior who can dispel the evil there. Unfortunately, he screws up and releases an army of skeletons. (tvguide.com)
Weather Derby
Tribune: 51/37
Sun-Times: Ferro/McKinney
Weather Channel: 44/41
Ntl Weather Service: 54/43
BWM*: 82/12
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8, 25, 39
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I am open and receptive to new avenues of income. (louisehay.com)
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« December 2013 | Main | February 2014 »

January 31, 2014

The Super Bowl Is Decadent And Depraved

"In 1976, a San Francisco video collective took some of the earliest portable cameras and descended on Miami for Super Bowl X," Deadspin reports. "They produced one of the best, funniest, strangest, and most revealing football documentaries ever made."

Here it is, in four parts:

1. The devil's got you.


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2. Dues are due!

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3. The real thing.

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4. Professional Oxygen.

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See also: Fear And Loathing At The Super Bowl: No Rest For The Wretched.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:08 PM | Permalink

The [Friday] Papers

"House Speaker Michael Madigan played a little role reversal Thursday, proposing to cut in half the state income tax on corporations, a move that could further frame this year's elections along economic lines as Democrats try to stave off Republican efforts to win the governor's office and lessen their grip on the General Assembly," the Tribune reports.

Yeah, that's a lot of confusing concepts for one opening paragraph.

The Sun-Times went at it like this:

"A day after Republicans slammed Gov. Pat Quinn for the state's jobs climate, House Speaker Michael Madigan gift-wrapped a $1.5 billion election-year bouquet to Illinois businesses by offering to halve corporate income tax rates so they can 'grow their work forces with good-paying jobs.'"

I would have done something more like this:

"Just one month after decrying that Illinois corporations "don't pay their fair share" in taxes, House Speaker Michael Madigan on Thursday surprised the state's political world - including the governor - with a proposal to cut corporate income taxes in half, amounting to a $1.5 billion annual loss to the state budget.

"The proposal throws a potential monkey wrench into Pat Quinn's re-election campaign by placing a potential huge corporate tax cut on the agenda just as the governor is being pressed about whether he supports letting a temporary tax increase imposed on businesses and individuals three years ago actually expire amidst the state's gaping budget deficits.

"As is often the case with Madigan, the political class is left wondering what underlying agenda motivated the move."

*

From the Tribune:

"Madigan's move may be an attempt to undermine a Republican campaign theme that he and the Democrats who rule state government have enabled the deterioration of Illinois' slow-to-recover economy and continued high unemployment, particularly through that 2011 tax hike."

Doubtful. First, it's not clear at all that any theme coming out of the Republican primary right now is in need of undermining. Second, Madigan has always been about protecting his own majority, which hardly seems in danger. Still, that's the direction I would look - that and the very real possibility he would prefer a Republican win the governorship and felt now was the time to put Quinn in a corner.

*

"I am hopeful this legislation will encourage CEOs to grow their work forces with good paying jobs," Madigan said.

Then why not just eliminate corporate taxes? I'd like to know how Madigan arrived at the figure he thought would provide optimum encouragement.

Also, good luck! Those savings are going in the pockets of executives, not workers.

Raisin' Rahm
"Mayor Rahm Emanuel recently met with the four leaders of the Illinois General Assembly to discuss major shortfalls in the city's employee pension funds that could blow a huge hole in next year's city and Chicago Public Schools budgets," the Tribune reports.

"The mayor regularly meets with the legislative leaders to discuss the city's agenda in Springfield, including pensions," said city spokeswoman Kelley Quinn in a written statement when asked about the meeting. "He has repeatedly said Springfield's work on pensions is not complete until Chicago's funds are addressed to protect taxpayers and preserve retirement security for our workers."

Why would any public official in Chicago face questions from reporters when they know they can just send in a written statement that will dutifully be printed?

*

Meanwhile, the Sun-Times, which "broke" the story, buried the lead literally at the bottom of a story about the Chicago Teachers Union (predictably) forming a coalition to fight the mayor's pension proposal.

"Last Friday, the mayor held a 2.5-hour meeting with the Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan and Senate President John Cullerton, both Chicago Democrats, to outline the magnitude of the problem and propose solutions.

"Emanuel wants the General Assembly to impose annual property tax increases on Chicago home-owners and businesses, but put off the balloon payment to shore up police and fire pensions until 2023 to make the bitter pill easier to swallow."

Rich Miller responded on his Capitol Fax blog:

"Emanuel wants the General Assembly to hike property taxes so he can avoid direct responsibility? That's rich."

After all, this is the mayor who touts his ability to fearlessly make difficult decisions instead of merely kicking cans down the road like his predecessor.

*

Rahm's press statement wasn't available for comment.

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Beachwood Photo Booth: Deluxe Cleaners
Professional dry cleaning.

Local TV News Agrees
Don't worry, be happy.

The Week In Chicago Rock
More like "the weak."

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BeachBook
* When David Gregory Welcomed Michael Chertoff Back!

* Terror Defendant's Lawyer Wins Access To Secret Papers.

* United's Topeka-Chicago Flights Averaging 25 Percent Of Capacity.

* Feds Keep Drone Info From Congress That They've Already Released Publicly.

* Press Conference On $9 Billion In SNAP Cuts Affecting NYC.

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TweetWood

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TweetWood

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Hysterical.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:39 AM | Permalink

The Week In Chicago Rock

You shoulda been there.

1. Stone Sour at House of Blues on Tuesday night.


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2. Erimha/Abigail Williams at Reggies on Sunday night.

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3. Guilty By Design at Bobby McGee's in Chicago Ridge on Sunday night.

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4. Alternate Flow at Bobby McGee's in Chicago Ridge on Sunday night.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:53 AM | Permalink

Beachwood Photo Booth: Deluxe Cleaners

Professional dry cleaning.

deluxecleanersorigexp.jpg(ENLARGE FOR PROPER VIEWING)

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More Chicago photography from Helene Smith.

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Helene on Twitter!

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Meet Helene!

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Stationery, iPhone cases, hoodies.

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Previously:
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Man Grilling
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Yum Yum Donuts
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Father's Day
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Vintage Airmaster
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Time
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Window Shade
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Illinois Slayer
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Fire Escape
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Golden Nugget
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Hollywood, Chicago
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Flag Man.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Van In Flames.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Fluid Power Automation.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Corn Dog.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Stop The Killing Car.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Backyard.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: A to Z Things.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Swedish Diner.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Rothschild Liquors.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Silos.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Wires.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Orange Garden.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Irving Park Guy.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Pigeons.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: O'Lanagan's.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: For Rent.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Marie's Pizza & Liquors.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Mori Milk.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: American Breakfast.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: A Chicago Christmas Postcard.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Holiday Harold's.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Family Fun.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Snow Bike.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Nativity Scene.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Old Warsaw.

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Comments welcome.


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:24 AM | Permalink

January 30, 2014

Local TV Newscasters Agree: Don't Worry, Be Happy

Good day, Illinois!


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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 11:17 AM | Permalink

The [Thursday] Papers

"The National Security Agency appears to have spent a lot of time trying to agree on a set of talking points agency officials could use to respond to revelations that originated with Edward Snowden about the lawfulness of the agency's classified surveillance programs," Jason Leopold reports for the Freedom of the Press Foundation.

"Indeed, last October, I filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request seeking all draft talking points - from June 1, 2013 through the present - prepared by the NSA after The Guardian and Washington Post broke news about the agency's controversial programs.

"On Tuesday, I received a letter from the NSA stating that it had located 156-pages of responsive records. But the NSA classified all of the records as 'top secret' under a FOIA exemption established by presidential executive order and determined that 'their disclosure reasonably be expected to cause exceptionally grave danger to the national security.'"

So now even talking points are classified. The State of the Union is Soviet.

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Seemingly relevant:

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Rauneromics
Bruce Rauner Tosses Another $1 Million Of Own Money Into Campaign Fund.

It takes a lot of money to win a campaign based on cutting spending.

Madigan Mike
Declaring that he's "ready to be part of a solution in the city council," Ald. Mike Zalewski announced his re-election bid on Wednesday with Michael Madigan at his side.

If Michael Madigan is part of the solution, I don't want to solve the problem.

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Speak of the devil:

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Train In Vain
Metra Board Expected To Interview CEO Candidates.

Experience bungling a major agency preferred.

Onion Or Sun-Times
The South Side Is Finally Getting Its Ultra-High-Speed Wi-Fi - At Least Two Blocks Of It.

And that's just because the Apostolic Church of God signed up for U-verse.

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The network will be named after Arthur Brazier. The password is "cloutavenue123."

Moto Dodo
Google Selling Motorola Phone Business To Lenovo For $2.9B.

Moogle to become Molotov.

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This phone business will self-destruct in 15 seconds . . .

Altered States
The State of the Union is surveilled.

The State of the State is corrupt.

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Also: impovershed.

Worst Day Ever?
January 30

1933: Hitler named Chancellor
1948: Gandhi assassinated
1968: Tet Offensive begins
1972: Bloody Sunday

- Tim Willette

Field Note
Something I learned at the Field Museum yesterday: Africa is so big you could fit the United States and China inside it and still have plenty of room to spare. I did not know that.

Chicago (The Band's) Big Week
From the Grammy's to the CSO to downstate Bloomington for tornado relief.

BeachBook
* My Dash Cam Caught A Chicago Taxi Fleeing A Pedestrian After An Apparent Accident.

* Chicago Cubs Picked As Worst Team In Baseball.

* A Way For You To Reform Illinois.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Autocomplete.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:08 AM | Permalink

Chicago (The Band's) Big Week

1. At the Grammy's.


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2. With the CSO.

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3. In Bloomington for tornado relief.

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CBS Chicago Report In Two Parts

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:19 AM | Permalink

January 29, 2014

The [Wednesday] Papers

"In a ceaselessly challenging winter, Tuesday, for many, was the breaking point," the Tribune reports.

"Schools across the area canceled classes for the fourth day in less than a month, and for the second straight day the cause was subzero temperatures and double-digit negative wind chills, not the typical culprit: heavy snow.

"The decision irked some parents, who once again had to deal with the logistics of having their kids home. It also raised the issue of how cold is too cold and what other factors are considered when it comes to deciding to keep schools shuttered."

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It would be one thing if this was the norm, but it's not. For a fuller argument in favor of closing schools in extreme weather, I turn it over to this Op-Ed from the Minneapolis Star Tribune: "Why Days Off Due To Extreme Cold Are Not 'Silly.'"

(h/t: Mike Knezovich)

State of The #SOTU
Obama: Ready To Act Alone.

Never say I didn't tell you so.

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"Tuesday night, Obama didn't dwell on his lost 2013," the Tribune editorial board theorizes.

"There was an oblique nod to his gridlock with Congress last year: 'Let's make this a year of action.' The subtext: He has to wonder whether, if his signature health overhaul doesn't succeed, his presidency totals one year of managing through a financial crisis, followed by a biblical seven years of lean.

"That's why his staffers have been broadcasting the message that Obama will try to circumvent Congress by marshaling his powers of office."

Then what explains all the other years of broadcasting that message?

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The New York Times says that the president's proposal to raise the minimum wage for federal contractors "underscores that Mr. Obama is willing to bypass Congress to make progress on his agenda."

I wonder what proposals underscored that concept in every year since 2009.

At least one of their reporters got right - though even his memory was short-sighted.

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What Obama's use of that threat for virtually all of his presidency - including when his own party held both houses of Congress - really underscores is his inability to get a handle on how to do his job.

It's reminiscent of Larry Summers - not a sympathetic character I know - crying out (as reported in Confidence Men) during Obama's first year in office that "We're home alone. There's no adult in charge."

It also exemplifies a president no one fears, which doesn't bother me, and no one respects, which does. He was sized up a long time ago, and that's just as much the reason for congressional gridlock as the tea party caucus.

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The Sun-Times is, unsurprisingly, guilty as well.

"Obama calls for 'year of action' - vows to act on his own, if necessary," the paper blares.

If necessary!

Apparently he hasn't found it necessary in five years despite making the same threat every year.

Politico caught on last year and wrote "[T]his time, he really, really, really means it. Really."

That was one "really" for each year he'd said it, so just add another and re-post!

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For perhaps more entertaining #SOTU commentary, see our illustrious Twitter stream.

*

Didn't Snowden feel compelled to go around Congress too?

FAQ: NSA's Angry Birds
There is no adult in charge.

Fantasy Fix: Hot Stove Happs
White Sock Adam Eaton on the radar.

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I'm gonna start using White Sock now.

Black Ink Book Exchange
A pop-up appeal.

Field Note
I'll be at the Field Museum again this afternoon with another group of kids in the Urban Youth Journalism Program. While we're taking the kids through the whole museum, our objective is showing them the State of Deception exhibit about Nazi propaganda.

#NATO3
Though I called it when the arrests first happened (see No. 4, for starters), I'm just about the last to comment on the trial. That's just the way the ball's bounced here at Beachwood HQ. The best I can do today is to direct you thusly. If you haven't been following it, you will surely be amazed.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Go around.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:50 AM | Permalink

Black Ink Book Exchange

"Black Ink Book Exchange is a pop-up library open for the exchange of books primarily by black authors, and about black culture. The project aims to create a space around books as a cultural currency, and consists of creative workshops, a reading lounge and book barter. The project will begin at the Arts Incubator in Washington Park this spring, and with support, will continue through the end of the summer in other South Side locations.

"This project will rely on your book donations. While the emphasis of the collection is on books by and about people of the African Diaspora, I am most interested in 'good' books - books that have shaped the way you see yourself and the world, or books that you always recommend to friends. I am willing to pick books up in the Chicago area. If you would like to donate to this exchange, please e-mail us at BlackInkBE@gmail.com."


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See Black Ink Book Exchange's Indiegogo page for more details.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:53 AM | Permalink

Fantasy Fix: Hot Stove Happs

A long winter break is something you shouldn't come off of too quickly - you could sprain something.

So, I'm going to mull over my fantasy baseball draft kit for another week before I start handing out the goodies.

Instead, let's look at some players at the center of off-season moves that could have major significance for the fantasy season to come:

Robinson Cano. 2B, SEA: Signed with Mariners as a free agent. The park dimensions have changed enough in Seattle that there shouldn't been any related subtraction from Cano's typical numbers. He is not very well protected in Seattle's lineup, but with so many injuries in New York last year, he wasn't protected there either and still managed stats that arguably keep him as a top five fantasy player going into this season. The question mark here is whether the 31-year-old will start to show his age.

Prince Fielder, 1B, TEX: Traded from the Tigers to the Rangers, where he will play more games in a much better ballpark for an aging power hitter than Detroit's Comerica Park. What troubles me is his AVG, OBP and SLG numbers all dipped big-time last year. He's still a 100-RBI man, but there isn't any reason to see him as any higher than the early second-rounder he was before.

Jacoby Ellsbury, OF. NYY: Signed with the Yankees as a free agent. He proved last year that he could still break 50 stolen bases (52) when he remains healthy for a full year. His other numbers were substandard: 9 HRs, 53 RBIs, .298 AVG. Yankee Stadium's right-field fence is more of a chip shot for left-handed hitters than Fenway Park's odd dimensions. Could he return to 2011's massive output of 32 HRs, 105 RBI, .321 AVG? Hard to see that happening, but better numbers all around than 2013 for sure.

Mark Trumbo, 3B/1B/OF, ARI: Traded from the Angels to the Diamondbacks. His power numbers have inched up each of the last three seasons to 34 HRs and 100 RBIs last year, but his strikeouts have risen more quickly to a career high of 184 last year. Switching leagues probably won't end the latter trend, and he won't have Mike Trout to drive home anymore.

Those are a few of the biggest moves, but here are a few smaller ones worth watching, too:

Adam Eaton, OF, WHITE SOX: Traded from Arizona to Chicago in the three-team Trumbo trade. Eaton is a former top prospect with injury issues, but could easily be among league leaders in stolen bases.

Joe Nathan, RP, DET: Signed with the Tigers as a free agent. Nathan is getting into a pretty perfect closer situation as far as the park, lineup and starting rotation are concerned, though he is 39.

Josh Johnson, SP, SD: Signed with the Padres as a free agent. Notoriously injury prone, but he will pitch a lot of games in a big park.

Next week: The Fantasy Fix Fantasy Baseball Draft Kit, Part 1- SPs and Catchers.

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

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 5:41 AM | Permalink

FAQ: The NSA's Angry Birds

As we detailed on Monday, documents show the NSA and its British counterpart have been probing advertiser data on smartphone apps, which can include your gender, income, and even whether you're a "swinger."

Do you have questions? Post them in comments or tweet us.

What's new here?

This article reveals how U.S. and British spy agencies have sought to intercept the information transmitted by the games and other apps that users download onto their smartphones. Previous stories have detailed how U.S. and British spies have been intercepting massive quantities of cellphone text messages and gathering the location of cellphones around the world.

How does it work?

Many people don't realize that when they use a smartphone app - to play a game or listen to music - the app may transmit information back to the app maker and may contain tracking technology placed by advertisers.

The spy agencies call these "leaky apps." The spies collect information from, among others, Google Maps, Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and Yahoo's Flickr, which in turn can transmit location, buddy lists, browsing history and more, according to a 2010 NSA document.

A 2010 Wall Street Journal survey of 101 iPhone and Android apps showed that the majority of apps were transmitting the phone's unique ID - a type of serial number assigned to the device - and the user's location to advertisers.

Since then, advertisers have been building even more detailed profiles of app users.

By using the phone's identifier, advertisers can often monitor the user's behavior in multiple apps and when the user browses the Web from their smartphone. Advertisers can tie the information together in a dossier that can include a user's location, income and preferences such as sexual orientation and political leanings.

How does the NSA get it?

The agencies can pick up much of this information as it travels through private cellphone networks around the world. And because the data includes a tag from your phone, the agencies may have the ability to know who you are.

Does this mean the NSA is watching me while I play Angry Birds?

It's not clear. The documents show that spies have collected data from Google's AdMob, which is largest mobile advertising network and is one of many advertisers whose ads have appeared in Angry Birds.

The agencies say that even if they collect the data, they don't look at it unless it is relevant to an investigation.

The NSA also says that it "minimizes" - or throws away - the data it intercepts from people who live in the United States. However, its minimization rules allow it to keep information about U.S. residents if it is deemed suspicious or could be relevant to an investigation.

Do they really know if I'm a "swinger"?

Documents show that analysts at GCHQ in 2012 studied the possibility of collecting traffic from Millennial Media, which included advertising profiles that identified users by 'sexual orientation' including the category of swingers.

However, it is unclear whether the data has been used for intelligence purposes.

It is also not clear what type of app usage or Web browsing behavior would lead Millennial Media to characterize someone as a swinger. Millennial declined our request for comment.

Can I stop leaky apps from sending out data about me?

No, but you can make it harder for advertisers to track you on your phone.

Apple's latest iPhone software, iOS 7, offers two options to limit ad tracking.

  • In privacy settings, users can turn on "limit ad tracking," which prevents apps from using the phone's unique ID - which Apple calls an "Advertising Identifier" - to deliver targeted ads within apps. But this setting does not prevent apps from collecting your information.
  • In privacy settings, users can also reset their Advertising Identifier, which can make it more difficult but not impossible for advertisers to correlate the user's behavior to the advertising profile associated with the old identifier.

Google's Android also offers users two options to limit ad tracking.

  • In the Ads section of the Google Settings app, users can check a box to "Opt out of interest-based ads." But this does not prevent apps from collecting user's information.
  • In the Ads section of the Google Settings app, users can also reset the Google advertising identifier, which can make it more difficult - but not impossible - for advertisers to correlate the user's behavior to the advertising profile associated with the old identifier.

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Previously:
* Jon Stewart: The Old Hope-A-Dope.

* Four Blatantly False Claims Obama Has Made About NSA Surveillance.

* EFF To DOJ In Lawsuit: Stop Pretending Information Revealed About NSA Over Last Seven Months Is Still A Secret.

* Judge On NSA Case Cites 9/11 Report, But It Doesn't Actually Support His Ruling.

* Edward Snowden's Christmas Message.

* Jon Stewart: Obama Totally Lying About NSA Spying.

* Presidential Panel To NSA: Stop Undermining Encryption.

* The NSA Is Coming To Town.

* 60 Minutes We Can't Get Back.

* Why Care About The NSA?

* NSA Surveillance Drives Writers To Self-Censor.

* Filed: 22 Firsthand Accounts Of How NSA Surveillance Chilled The Right To Association.

* Claim On 'Attacks Thwarted' By NSA Spreads Despite Lack Of Evidence.

* Obama Vs. The World.

* How A Telecom Helped The Government Spy On Me.

* UN Member States Asked To End Unchecked Surveillance.

* Government Standards Agency: Don't Follow Our Encryption Guidelines Because NSA.

* Five More Organizations Join Lawsuit Against NSA.

* A Scandal Of Historic Proportions.

* Item: NSA Briefing.

* The Case Of The Missing NSA Blog Post.

* The NSA Is Out Of Control.

* Patriot Act Author Joins Lawsuit Against NSA.

* Obama's Promises Disappear From Web.

* Why NSA Snooping Is A Bigger Deal In Germany.

* Item: Today's NSA Briefing.

* NSA Briefing: It Just Got Worse (Again).

* Song of the Moment: Party at the NSA.

* It Not Only Can Happen Here, It Is Happening Here.

* What NSA Transparency Looks Like.

* America's Lying About Spying: Worse Than You Think.

* Obama Continues To Lie His Ass Off About The NSA.

* The Surveillance Reforms Obama Supported Before He Was President.

* America's Spying: Worse Than You Think.

* Has The U.S. Government Lied About Its Snooping? Let's Go To The Videotape.

* Who Are We At War With? That's Classified.

* Six Ways Congress May Reform NSA Snooping.

* NSA Says It Can't Search Its Own E-Mails.

* Does The NSA Tap That?

* Obama Explains The Difference Between His Spying And Bush's Spying.

* FAQ: What You Need To Know About The NSA's Surveillance Programs.

* NSA: Responding To This FOIA Would Help "Our Adversaries".

* Fact-Check: The NSA And 9/11.

* The NSA's Black Hole: 5 Things We Still Don't Know About The Agency's Snooping.

* Defenders Of NSA Surveillance Citing Chicago Case Omit Most Of Mumbai Plotter's Story.

* Obama's War On Truth And Transparency.

* ProPublica's Guide To The Best Stories On The Growing Surveillance State.

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See also:
* Jimmy Carter: America's Shameful Human Rights Record.

* James Goodale: Only Nixon Harmed A Free Press More.

* Daniel Ellsberg: Obama Has Committed Impeachable Offenses.

* Paul Steiger: Why Reporters In The U.S. Now Need Protection.

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Comments welcome.



Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 3:26 AM | Permalink

January 28, 2014

The [Tuesday] Papers

"President Barack Obama will lay out a strategy for getting around a divided Congress and boosting middle-class prosperity on Tuesday in a State of the Union speech that reflects some scaled-back legislative ambitions after a difficult year," the Tribune reports.

"Obama will make clear in his 8 p.m. CST address that he is willing to bypass U.S. lawmakers and go it alone in some areas by announcing a series of executive actions that do not require congressional approval."

Gee, that sounds familiar.

*

"One Saturday last fall, President Obama interrupted a White House strategy meeting to raise an issue not on the agenda. He declared, aides recalled, that the administration needed to more aggressively use executive power to govern in the face of Congressional obstructionism," the New York Times reported in 2012.

"'We had been attempting to highlight the inability of Congress to do anything,' recalled William M. Daley, who was the White House chief of staff at the time. 'The president expressed frustration, saying we have got to scour everything and push the envelope in finding things we can do on our own.'

"For Mr. Obama, that meeting was a turning point. As a senator and presidential candidate, he had criticized George W. Bush for flouting the role of Congress. And during his first two years in the White House, when Democrats controlled Congress, Mr. Obama largely worked through the legislative process to achieve his domestic policy goals.

"But increasingly in recent months, the administration has been seeking ways to act without Congress. Branding its unilateral efforts 'We Can't Wait,' a slogan that aides said Mr. Obama coined at that strategy meeting, the White House has rolled out dozens of new policies - on creating jobs for veterans, preventing drug shortages, raising fuel economy standards, curbing domestic violence and more."

Huh. That "We Can't Wait" link goes to this quote from Obama:

"Without a doubt, the most urgent challenge that we face right now is getting our economy to grow faster and to create more jobs . . . we can't wait for an increasingly dysfunctional Congress to do its job. Where they won't act, I will."

- President Barack Obama, October 24, 2011

And sure enough:

"For President Obama, it was something akin to a public policy hat trick," USA Today reported in 2011.

"During a three-day Western trip that ended Wednesday, Obama announced initiatives that could help 1.6 million college students repay their federal loans, 1 million homeowners meet their mortgage payments, and 8,000 veterans find jobs.

The Democratic president did this with nary a negotiation with congressional Republicans. Like many of his predecessors in the White House, he got past Congress the old-fashioned way: He spurned it.

"'We can't wait for Congress to do its job. So where they won't act, I will,' Obama told students at the University of Colorado-Denver. 'We're going to look every single day to figure out what we can do without Congress.'"

But wait, there's more!

"With newly-empowered Republicans poised to bring gridlock to Congress, a powerhouse liberal think tank has some advice for President Obama: 'Go around,'" CNN reported in 2010.

"'The public wants progress, not positioning,' said John Podesta, a former chief of staff to President Bill Clinton who now heads CAP. If Obama can't find partners in the new congressional regime, Podesta said the president should turn to executive orders, rulemaking, agency management, and his command of the armed forces to start implementing changes."

Obama recently hired Podesta, who brought with him a "plan to bypass Congress on climate change," according to the Washington Post.

That's not new either.

"If Congress won't get the job done on climate change, President Obama has a way to do it himself. But is he strong-arming the legislative branch?" CNN asked in 2009.

"It certainly looks that way as a series of new environmental regulations, released over the past two weeks by the EPA, are putting legislators on notice and executives on edge."

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"President Barack Obama is planning to bypass congressional Republicans with a surge of executive actions and orders on issues like voting rights, health care, job creation, the economy, climate change and immigration," Politico reported last year.

"And this time, he really, really, really means it. Really.

"Obama's started to sell his pitch to congressional Democrats, meeting with caucus groups at the White House and going to the Hill on Wednesday morning to speak with House and Senate Democrats.

"'I have to figure out what I can do outside of Congress through executive actions,' Obama told the Congressional Black Caucus earlier this month, according to Rep. Karen Bass (D-Calif.).

"'He's very ready to use his executive powers whenever possible,' said Rep. Judy Chu (D-Calif.) who heard Obama discuss the new approach at a meeting of the Congressional Asian Pacific Caucus to the White House last week."

Hardly a new approach, then. Just an old threat that dates back to the very first year of his presidency - when Democrats ruled both houses of Congress.

Perhaps it's time to stop blaming Republicans for Obama's sad-sack presidency. After all, he's been going around Congress for years.

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It's not just the story the Tribune cobbled together from wire services that set the table for this report; Obama's threat to go around Congress has been the main media meme all the way around in the run-up to the State of the Union speech - just like every year, it turns out.

NSA The Chicago Way
"Obama's Pick To Lead NSA Is Chicago Native."

Does that make you feel any better? Because it scares the shit out me. At least pick someone from Minnesota or Vermont.

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Actually, the dude is from Winnetka.

Went to New Trier.

Yup, that's an Obama pick.

Remembering Pete Seeger In Chicago
From Studs Terkel's apartment to the Old Town School.

Rapping The News
Way better than you'd think it would be.

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Rauner Wrong On Reagan
Don't rich guys ever do their homework?

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Rap it up.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:21 AM | Permalink

Rapping The News

"Anchorman of the Juice Rap News Robert Foster embarks on a new era of adversarial rap journalism by casting a critical eye on the paradigm that shapes our collective reality each night.

"Featuring a smorgasbord of guests, from the stalwart General Baxter to Terence Moonseed having a friendly chat on about the Trans-Pacific Partnership to our special correspondents in Russia and the colonies.

"Meanwhile, what is going on in finance, show business and the weather? Special surprise guests are in tow to cover all this and more, helping Robert delve deeper into this very odd phenomenon of 'The News' itself."


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"Juice Rap News - the news show for the Internet nation, delivering a bulletin to restore your faith in the Fourth Estate, and make you nod your head to the beat even as you shake it in disbelief; written & created by Giordano Nanni and Hugo Farrant in a suburban backyard studio in Melbourne, Australia."

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See also:

WHISTLEBLOWER ft. Edward Snowden.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:54 AM | Permalink

Remembering Pete Seeger In Chicago

"Pete Seeger, the singer, folk-song collector and songwriter who spearheaded an American folk revival and spent a long career championing folk music as both a vital heritage and a catalyst for social change, died Monday," the New York Times reports. "He was 94 and lived in Beacon, N.Y."

Studs Terkel once famously described Seeger as "the boy with that touch of hope in the midst of bleakness" and helped him early in his career.

"[H]e first met Pete Seeger in July 1941, when the Almanac Singers (Seeger, Woody Guthrie, Millard Lampell, Lee Hayes) were on a cross-country trip," according to The Pete Seeger Reader.

"The four stayed in Terkel's apartment on 52nd Street. Terkel quickly identified with Seeger's left-wing politics as well as his musical style and versatility, and he became his champion until his own death almost seventy years later. Often a guest on Terkel's radio show . . . Terkel was instrumental in Folkways Records issuing the 1956 album Studs Terkel's Weekly Almanac on Folk Music Blues on WFMT with Big Bill Broonzy and Pete Seeger."

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How Terkel described that first meeting:

"That night when I first encountered the four wandering minstrels was a cold Chicago beauty. At 2 in the morning, my wife heard the doorbell ring. I was away rehearsing the first play in which I had ever appeared. It was Waiting for Lefty, of course. There, at the door, were the four of them. The first was a bantam--freckled, red-haired and elfin. He handed my wife a note saying: 'These are good fellas. Put them up for the night.' Putting them up was a rough assignment, even for a Depression-era social worker, what with the only spare bunk being a Murphy bed that sprang from the wall. Freckles announced himself as Woody Guthrie. The second was an Ozark mountain man named Lee Hayes. The third was a writer, Millard Lampell. The fourth, somewhat diffident, more in the background, was a slim-jim of 20 or so, fretting around with his banjo. He was Pete Seeger."

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"Folk singer Pete Seeger will appear in concert at 8:15 p.m. tomorrow in the Kenwood-Ellis Community church, 4608 Greenwood Av.," the Tribune reported in 1956. "The concert is sponsored by the Kenwood-Ellis Community center's parents group. Proceeds will go to the center's nursery school."

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At Mandel Hall at the University of Chicago, 1957.

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"Teens Are Taking to Folk Music: Its Serious Effort to Learn Old Tunes," the Tribune reported in 1962, name-checking Seeger.

"They study Saturday afternoons at the Old Town School of Folk Music, an unpretentious institution in the heart of the city's Mexican district."

That was the same year, by the way, that Seeger's contempt of Congress conviction for refusing to say whether he ever was a Communist was thrown out.

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A year later, the Tribune revisited its trend story - again name-checking Seeger - with "Rock 'n Roll Out: Teens' Tastes in Music Turn to Folk Songs."

Seeger was also on the bill that year that resulted in the Trib's "Hootenanny B rings 12,067 to Ravinia."

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In 1964, Seeger visited an ailing Mahalia Jackson at the Little Company of Mary Hospital in Evergreen Park.

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In 1966, an Orchestra Hall show was favorably reviewed by the Trib in "Pete Seeger Charms With Songs, Satire."

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In 1976, Seeger & Co. were introduced by Terkel for this broadcast from Chicago's public television studio.

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"The man who made folk music into a popular idiom in this country, Pete Seeger, sailed up to Navy Pier last week in a friend's sailboat, sang for 90 minutes before an audience of 2,200, and helped save Chicago's financially troubled Old Town School of Folk Music," the Tribune reported in 1977.

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"The hair was almost gone in one case, and graying in another, but an ageless joy still lit the voices of folk singers Pete Seeger and Arlo Guthrie at Orchestra Hall Wednesday night," the Sun-Times reported in 1991.

"And despite competition across town from the Bulls' NBA finals game, a nearly full house sang, hooted and clapped along with the veteran troubadours."

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Also in 1991: Seeger, accompanied by his grandson, at the Studs Terkel Toast, Bismarck Hotel.

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"Pete Seeger toted his guitar and banjo on stage Saturday night in the auditorium of the Chicago Historical Society," Dave Hoekstra wrote for the Sun-Times in 2002.

"He carried his instruments with a certain dignity, as though they were pieces of luggage packed with worldly treasures. This is what Seeger does. He spreads songs like seeds."

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"Bruce Springsteen's We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions is the best record Springsteen has made in several years," Hoekstra wrote in 2006.

"The disc, out Tuesday, overcomes the glossy production and calculated messages of his post-9/11 work."

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Finally, Seeger asking the right question - not just of America's schools, but of its media and of itself.

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Comments welcome.

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1. From Aaron Michael Lisec:

Thanks for the nice compilation. He and Studs were cut from the same cloth, for sure. I was at that Navy Pier concert in 1977. A great memory. Such a beautiful late summer afternoon and the audience was like a huge choir. Magical.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 4:17 AM | Permalink

January 27, 2014

Health Care Fine Print Strikes Again: Canceled Customers Transferred To New Policies Without Permission

When California pharmacist Kevin Kingma received a letter last fall notifying him that his high-deductible health plan was being canceled because of the Affordable Care Act, he logged into his state's health insurance exchange and chose another plan beginning Jan. 1.

Thanks to a subsidy, Kingma's monthly premium went down, from about $300 to $175, and his benefits improved.

But this month, Kingma logged into his bank's website and saw that his old insurer, Anthem Blue Cross, had deducted $587.40 from his account and had enrolled him in another of its insurance products for this year - he says without permission.

Hundreds of other consumers are caught in the same predicament, insurers acknowledge. And the California Department of Insurance said it is exploring whether any laws were broken when insurance companies withdrew money from consumers' accounts for plans they didn't select.

Here's what happened to Kingma and others: When they received letters last fall, they were informed that their plans had been canceled. But within the letter, it also said that if they did nothing, they would be switched over to a different plan and if they had set up their payment to autodraft from their account, it would continue to do so.

Kingma said he didn't read the whole letter, just enough of it to know his old plan was being canceled.

Once he noticed the withdrawals from his account this month, Kingma said he tried calling Anthem's customer service hotline but couldn't reach anyone because of "high call volume." Dozens of consumers have reported long phone waits trying to reach Anthem.

Kingma then repeatedly faxed and contacted the insurer through its website. An Anthem representative first told him that he may only receive reimbursement for about half of January, until the date he actually canceled the new policy. Since then, it appears the insurer canceled his policy at the end of 2013. But as of Friday afternoon, it hadn't refunded Kingma's money, he said.

"I and a number of other former Anthem policy holders are stuck in Anthem's Kafkaesque nightmare as part of healthcare reform," Kingma, 57, wrote to me in an e-mail.

Darrel Ng, a spokesman for Anthem Blue Cross, said in an e-mail that insurers across California had moved members from canceled plans to new ones that comply with the law "and that transition retained their payment preference.

"In cases where members neglected to inform insurers that they had selected a new plan or informed insurers too late that they had selected a new plan, members are receiving a full refund for any amount paid."

Kaiser Permanente spokesman Chris Stenrud confirmed that his insurer has also found cases similar to Kingma's.

"Unfortunately, about 500 of our existing members in California who had automatic payment set up for their current plans were inadvertently charged before our systems recognized their enrollment in new plans through Covered California," the state's exchange, he wrote in an e-mail. "We have identified the affected members and are in the process of contacting them to make them aware of the mistake, and of course, our commitment to refund the extra charge.

"We take this seriously, and want to assure our members that we will make them whole," he wrote.

These actions may not fully satisfy the California Department of Insurance. Janice Rocco, deputy commissioner for health policy and reform, wrote in an e-mail that insurers have cooperated with her agency and refunded premiums when questions arose, so "we hadn't been focused on what the potential legal violations might be."

She said insurers may have violated the law in two ways by deducting funds from customers' bank accounts electronically.

"Moving a policyholder from one product to another would be considered a 'material change' that would trigger a requirement in law to provide information about how to cancel the electronic funds transfer agreement. We did not see any notice of how to cancel an electronic transfer of funds in the policy cancellation notices, so there may be some violations of law in this regard."

Beyond that, Rocco said, some of the new products used by two health insurers were technically "sold by one of the insurer's affiliated companies with which that policyholder had no prior electronic funds transfer agreement, so that might be another area of potential legal violations," she wrote.

It isn't known whether similar complaints have been lodged outside of California. But insurers in a number of states sent consumers letters saying they would be moved to new plans unless they said otherwise. (This letter was posted online by Politifact.)

The Associated Press reported last month that at least 4.7 million people were told their old health plans were going away because they didn't meet the coverage standards of the Affordable Care Act.

In the meantime, consumers have taken to Twitter to voice their frustration. Here's a sampling of their tweets (ProPublica has not verified their claims):

Kingma said the whole situation has left him frustrated.

"No business conducts fair business that way," he said in an interview. "In December, they should be telling customers, this is the plan you will be converted into, this is the cost. I don't put anything past large corporations."

Has your insurance been canceled? Have you tried signing up for coverage through the new exchanges? Help us cover the Affordable Care Act by sharing your insurance story.

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Previously:
* Health Care Sign-Ups: This Is What Transparency Looks Like.

* How The New Yorker's Ryan Lizza Became A Mistaken Poster Boy For Obamacare.

* Loyal Obama Supporters, Canceled By Obamacare.

* Answered: Why Two Obama Loyalists Lost Their Health Policies.

* Health Care Delays Squeeze Patients In State High-Risk Pools.

* Coming In January: Obamacare Rate Shock Part Two.

* The Obamacare Deadline No One Is Talking About.

* The Obamacare Paper Pileup.

* Deadline? What Deadline? The Obamacare Sign-Up Dates Keep Moving.

* Journalists Turn To Themselves For Obamacare Stories.

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Comments welcome.



Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:30 PM | Permalink

The [Monday] Papers

I'm not ignoring the NATO3 trial (or, even, last week's charter school decisions by the school board), I've just got so much gathered about what a farce the whole thing is that I haven't had time to shape it up into something coherent besides "Whaaaaaaaaaa!"

Also, don't get me started on this. I intend to refute all of its dangerous, misinformed and hackneyed silliness in full.

Today, though, I can only handle less soul-sapping items.

1. David Axelrod Puts Lake Point Tower Condo On Market.

Change he can afford.

2. Daft Punk Take Album And Record Of The Year Grammy Awards.

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3. Latin King Leader Wants To Conceal And Carry.

Well, it's not illegal to be a gang leader. Now he can carry all legal-like.

4. Under Rahm, City Slows Spending On Public Art.

And it's not just because the money isn't there.

"[H]undreds of thousands of dollars now sit unspent in the program's accounts - much of that for two years or longer. The total balance in the program's account was nearly $700,000 as of Nov. 25, officials say."

5. Obama Plan: Businesses Stand To Gain From Revised Tax Breaks.

"One of the most generous offerings for corporate America in the U.S. tax code is about to become even more bountiful under an Obama administration proposal.

"The new rules, which are being finalized by the U.S. Treasury Department, would lift restrictions on the types of activities that qualify for tax breaks for business research and development - raising the prospect that Boeing, Lockheed Martin and many smaller firms could reap hundreds of millions of dollars in fresh savings."

For as long as I live, I will never tire of saying I told you so about Barack Obama - even if some of you get tired of it. I took too much shit for relying on facts in 2008 instead of slogans to let it slide now. I'll put my reporting and analysis from those days up against anyone's in the country. Journalists wondering where the 2008 Obama is still don't get that the 2008 Obama never existed.

6. U of I Athletic Director Gets Raise, Extension.

"The University of Illinois has extended Athletic Director Mike Thomas' contract three years through August 2019 and raised his base salary by roughly $50,000.

"The school's board of trustees voted today to boost Mr. Thomas' annual pay to $554,320, 16 percent higher than his salary when the university hired him in 2011.

"That total doesn't include value of perks like cars or country club memberships."

Also doesn't include whatever tax breaks Obama has in store for him.

7. Chicago Swingers.

JON FAVREAU: I had been broken up with by my old girlfriend from Chicago who I'd lived with, and I was taking it pretty hard and I was feeling pretty lonely. And then I was realizing that even though I had been in movies already, the work was not going to come easy - that frustration brought on the writing. I was taking things into my own hands.

RON LIVINGSTON: Jon and I met in Chicago before either of us moved to L.A. I was 25 and living with roommates, just that mid-twenties thing when you're trying to pull your shit together. I was doing theater and a bunch of my buddies were doing improv comedy. Jon was on one of the house teams at Improv Olympic.

8. Jon Stewart: The Old Hope-A-Dope.

9. 24-Hour News Cycle Seems Like It's Taking Forever.

10. SportsMonday: Hawks Our Only Hope.

But if they struggle on the road the next few weeks . . .

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Blackhawks new slogan: The Chicago Team Not Trying To Tank.

11. The White Sox Report: Extending Robin Ventura's Pulse.

Let's talk about the new contract for a 99-loss manager whose original hiring remains a curiosity.

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Note I sent to our White Sox correspondent Roger Wallenstein after editing his piece:

Ventura strikes me as Ryne Sandberg had Sandberg not gone down to the minors to make his bones as a manager. Sandberg was also a quiet guy, but his personality changed as he learned his craft. Sandberg also eventually admitted that as much as he thought he was ready to manage in the majors from the get-go, he wasn't . . . he needed that minor league experience.

My impression was that Ventura impressed Kenny with his baseball knowledge while sitting alongside him as an assistant of some sort, and that's what gave Kenny the idea. Maybe they watched games together and Kenny liked the comments Robin made. That's what I always guessed, anyway. But not sure Robin is ready for prime time. I figured the first year he basically sat back and just let the team operate itself, and the second year they really needed a manager and found themselves without one. But I don't follow the Sox as closely as I follow the Cubs, so I could be wrong.

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Roger responded with some thoughts about managing which I'll withhold, as he may use those thoughts for a future column.

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Also, Cub Factor founder Marty Gangler sends this link about Carlos Zambrano with the note I actually miss him now.

My response:

Totally! Back then, he was a horse's ass detrimental to the team. Now he'd be welcome comic relief.

And a fiery competitor for a team that needs one. Funny how the makeup of a ballclub changes the way we perceive what players bring to the table.

12. Random Food Report: Hooters, Hershey's & Hinsdale.

Plus: Eating the world's worst Chicago-style hot dog.

13. The Weekend In Chicago Rock.

Latyrx, The Wailers, Bubbles Erotica, Chance the Rapper, St. Lucia, HEMI, Rusted Root, Citizen Cope, and Willie Nile.

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BeachBook
* Puppy Bowl X To Feature Two Chicago Puppies.

* This Brew Crew Keeps Trainloads Of Beer From Freezing.

* Muhammad Ali Jr. Living On Food Stamps In West Englewood?

* Slugger Dunn Plays Role In Dallas Buyers Club.

* This City Is Back: Jane Byrne 1983 Ad.

* Carlos Zambrano Throws Haymakers In Venezuela Winter League Finals.

* WSVU President's Expenses Include Bears Tickets.

* A Secret Prison In Poland Cost The CIA $15 Million.

But the important part is what was done there.

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TweetWood

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Sorry not sorry.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:14 AM | Permalink

SportsMonday: Hawks Our Only Hope

In a world where the Cubs are tanking a third season in a row but are still projected to still draw well over 2 million fans, a world with no Derrick Rose but with Adam Dunn, a world where the Bears defense is historically bad, at least Chicago sports fans have the Blackhawks.

They enter this week with 76 total points and sit atop the Central Division. The Anaheim Ducks (83) have pulled away a bit in the Western Conference overall, but when the Hawks last faced them a little less than two weeks ago, they controlled the game on the way to a 4-2 victory.

Wait a minute, I'm receiving an update. What's that, the Hawks have lost three in a row? They are hitting the road for a seven-game ice show road trip off the heels of one of their worst losses of the season, a 3-1 setback against the Winnipeg Jets at the UC last night?

Hoo boy.

Wait, the Jets?I thought they were long gone? They took Bobby Hull away from us way back when (1972) and the bad karma eventually killed them, didn't it?

It turns out the Jets went back into business three years ago. The Thrashers, who brought hockey back to Atlanta after the demise of the Flames, who moved to Calgary, failed and the team was sold and moved north, to the frigid Alberta metropolis where they care slightly more about hockey than they do in Georgia.

And playing the Jets is always a trip because before they left Atlanta, they picked up a couple key contributors from the Hawks' 2010 Stanley Cup winners. And then this past offseason, they grabbed a solid contributor from the 2013 model. And all those guys are going strong.

In fact, it was good old Andrew Ladd who scored the third-period game-winner for the Jets last night. He and fellow former Blackhawk Dustin Byfuglien (I haven't missed trying to spell that name) have been with the franchise the last three years and were joined by Michael Frolik this year.

But it was another familiar name who had the best night last night. The NHL's only Cuban-American, Al Montoya, was between the pipes and he saved 34 of 35 shots. Montoya, who spent his childhood in Glenview and played a season for the Loyola Gold hockey club, is actually the Jets' back-up goalie and he had not played well his previous two games before sitting out the last few weeks.

Montoya then gave up a brutal goal on just the second shot on net he faced last night - Brandon Bollig's medium-speed wrap-aroundthat went off the shaft of Montoya's stick and his right pad before sliding into the goal.

But then Montoya rallied - he ended up winning the game's No. 1 star - with the Hawks helping on a whole bunch of those plays where play-by-play man Pat Foley yells "What a save!" and you look at the replay and the shot went right into the goalie's mid-section.

So the Jets were still in it heading into the third period despite being outshot 22-2 through the game's first 33 minutes.

And that's about enough about game No. 54 on the Hawks' marathon schedule. They are in the midst of a rough patch no doubt, but they are still in good shape overall. In the division, the Blues remain a major concern. They have 75 points but have played three fewer games than the local squad.

In the conference, the Hawks are still one of only four teams with more than 70 points. In other words, they have built themselves a bit of a cushion. The goal this year has always been finishing in the top four in the West. Then you have home ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs and go from there.

But if they struggle on the road the next few weeks . . .

Fortunately, that has just about never happened with Joel Quenneville at the helm. The Hawks kick off the western swing (known as the "Hey, the Hawks are actually on TV again! . . . but bedtime is in a half-hour" portion of the schedule from my childhood) tomorrow night in Calgary to face the other former Atlanta team at 8:30 p.m.

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

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:29 AM | Permalink

The Weekend In Chicago Rock

You shoulda been there.

1. Latyrx at the Double Door on Saturday night.


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2. The Wailers at Mojoes in Joliet on Saturday night.

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3. Bubbles Erotica at the Abbey on Saturday night.

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4. Chance the Rapper at Lincoln Hall on Thursday night.

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5. St. Lucia at Lincoln Hall on Saturday night.

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6. HEMI at the Cobra Lounge on Friday night.

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7. Rusted Root at the Concord on Saturday night.

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8. Citizen Cope at City Winery on Saturday night.

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9. Willie Nile at FitzGerald's on Saturday night.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:02 AM | Permalink

Extending Robin Ventura's Pulse

When I heard that Robin Ventura had signed an extension as White Sox manager, my question didn't focus so much on the wisdom of three more years - apparently he now is under contract through the 2016 season - with a guy who just guided the team to 99 losses last season.

No, my original curiosity remains about why Ventura took the job in the first place.

Ventura, who will turn 47 in July, made $67 million during his 16-year career, according to Baseball Reference. It's a safe assumption that he didn't accept the Sox's offer because he needed the money.

Furthermore, Ventura and his family make their home in Arroyo Grande, a California town I've visited since good friends left Chicago a few years ago and settled into the oceanside village along the Central Coast.

Robin's parents live in the area, and a brother is a teaching golf pro nearby. I wouldn't go so far as to describe Arroyo Grande as "sleepy," but let's just say that you wouldn't miss much if an afternoon nap was included in your plans.

"Life here is very easy," says my friend Barbara, who actually grew up in Arroyo Grande prior to emigrating to Chicago. "It's rural. People are very friendly. We're close to the ocean. We have a temperate climate. You don't battle traffic or congestion. We have a farmer's market seven days a week and great wineries in the area. There's no pressure. It's just like Pleasantville."

Honest. That's the way she describes the place. So when the team announced two years ago that Ventura would succeed Ozzie Guillen, I wondered why in the world would he do that.

Maybe once baseball is in your blood, it's next to impossible for a guy like Ventura to turn down an offer to return to the South Side after being out of the game for eight years. They came after him. He didn't seek the position.

"There was a lot of (apprehension) when I first went home to talk to my wife about it," Ventura said at the time.

Ventura grew up near Arroyo Grande, but he left the state to play college ball at Oklahoma State, where his feats were epic. His 58-game hitting streak in 1987 remains an NCAA record. He led the Cowboys to the College World Series finals that yea,r where they lost to Stanford and future teammate Black Jack McDowell. As a freshman he led the nation in runs, RBI and total bases.

Ventura signed with the Sox in the fall of 1988 following his junior year at OSU and became the Sox' regular third baseman in 1990.

Then there was The Slump. Between April 21 and May 10 that season, Ventura was hitless in 39 consecutive at-bats. His average plummeted to .117. Yet manager Jeff Torborg stuck with the kid. The Sox went 94-68 finishing second to Oakland's 103 wins, and Ventura rebounded to hit .249. The next season he drove in 100 runs and hit .284, thus solidifying his status as one of the finest third basemen the team has ever had.

Nevertheless, all was not mellow during Ventura's 10 years as a Sox regular. He spoke out about the White Flag Trade in 1997 when the Sox trailed Cleveland by just 3 1/2 games and then-general manager Ron Schueler dealt three of the team's top pitchers to San Francisco for six prospects. The team finished 80-81, six games behind the Indians.

So Ventura was no stranger to tough times during his playing days on the South Side. Maybe that helped him weather the storm of 99 losses last season.

Much is made is Robin's personality, which is even-keeled to say the least. At SoxFest last weekend, a fan asked whether he, indeed, has a pulse. His so-called post-game press conferences are all the same. You can't tell from his demeanor whether the team won or lost.

While many of us reached for the Maalox last summer, Ventura sat calmly in the dugout as Alexei Ramirez booted yet another grounder, Alejandro De Aza got doubled off second, and Gordon Beckham made a mad dash on an infield popup to botch a game-ending out.

Yet Paul Konerko described Ventura as "stern" and "a good fit" for the Sox when the contract extension was announced. We did notice when he benched Alex Rios last season in the middle of a game when Rios failed to run out an infield grounder, resulting in a double play. But we don't know how he handled his players who made more mental blunders in a season than a guy like Ventura made in his career.

These guys simply didn't know how to play, and apparently Ventura was ineffectual in teaching them.

Still, Sox fans remember Ventura's initial season at the helm when they challenged the Tigers for the Central Division right down to the final two weeks. So Robin is basically .500 as a manager: one solid season versus one miserable campaign.

Let's suppose that Ventura's relatively young age along with his passion for the game dictate that playing golf and walking the ocean beach would never be enough to satisfy him at this stage in his life. Combine that with general manager Rick Hahn, who's only 42 and not shy about making moves and taking risks, then add in a bunch of young new additions - Avisail Garcia, Adam Eaton, Jose Abreu and Matt Davidson - and maybe you've got something.

Extending a manager's contract after the kind of season the White Sox suffered last year seems foolish. You can't blame a Sox fan for thinking, "Let's see how they do this year before locking in Ventura for another two seasons."

However, what is clear is that Hahn and his boss Kenny Williams don't flinch when it comes to taking chances. They took one when they first hired Ventura, who wasn't so much as a coach - let alone a manager - at any professional level. And the inexperienced Ventura also took a risk.

Will Rogers once said, "Why not go out on a limb? That's where the fruit is." Let's hope the Sox find apples on the branches once September rolls around.

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

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1. From Ron Weiner:

Let's see what he can do with the young players he has now.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:46 AM | Permalink

Random Food Report: Hooters, Hershey's & Hinsdale

1. Hooters Revamps Its Look, Aims To Be A Family Breastaurant, Er, Restaurant.

This can only work if they hire owls to replace their current waitstaff.

2. 3D Printed Chocolate Objects: Hershey Partners With 3D Systems.

PC Load Letter? What the fuck does that mean?

3. White Castle Named "Most Influential" Burger Of All Time.

Only in the after-midnight category. McDonald's, obviously.

4. Red Lobster to Be Split From Darden's Empire.

No longer family to Olive Garden.

5. Bee People.

"The sentiment behind Asheville Bee Charmer, a store slated to open in March on Haywood Road, isn't solely sweet," the Black Mountain News reports.

Sure, Kim Allen and Jillian Kelly plan to include a honey tasting bar.

But the couple's motivation is equal parts nectar and necessity.

"It's really going to be catastrophic if we don't do something," said Allen, citing the mass beehive deaths due to the mysterious colony collapse disorder. "It is a serious problem. If we can do a small part by providing responsibly made honey, that's our part."

The Asheville Bee Charmer shop, which will cutely open next to The Mothlight at Mr. Fred's on Haywood Road, is intended to be a fun celebration of these winged insects that pollinate up to 30 percent of the world's crops and 90 percent of wild plants, according to the National Resources Defense Council.

Turns out the whole thing got its start in Chicago.

[T]hey couldn't, however, start raising bees in their Chicago community after neighbors protested the possibility. As their son entered his freshman year in Chicago, they decided it was time for their next chapter, both professionally and personally.

A friend who lived in Asheville put this mountain town on their radar, and they knew they wanted to head south soon. The duo love the outdoors, and are avid hikers and bikers.

They met at the Chicago Board of Trade more than 20 years ago. Kelly left the business to pursue massage therapy, but Allen continued to work as a commodities trader on the floor until recently.

"We just knew we loved it here," Allen said. "We really liked the people here - the people were really nice - and we didn't want to do the corporate thing in Chicago anymore."

Rahm loses cute business to North Carolina!

6. Key Trends For 2014.

Pretty much the same trends from previous years.

7. Plocky's Breaks Out.

"2013 was a breakout year of export success for one Illinois company," according to the Food Export Association of the Midwest.

"Plocky's Fine Snacks has taken its products from Hinsdale, IL to multiple export markets with the support of Food Export's programs."

For example:

"The year marked the company's first time ever exporting their products to Australia. The first order of tortilla and hummus chips took place in November 2013 for $10,000.

"Another first for the company included two orders of hummus chips to Guatemala. The July and November sales amounted to $7,300 for the company.

"Plocky's is also in its second year of exporting to the Middle East. Two orders to a buyer in Dubai resulted in sales of $6,600.

"Previous relationships established in China and Canada continued to grow the company. Total sales for products exported to China were $60,000 and Canada buyers purchased $46,000 worth of Plocky's hummus chips. Overall the company saw export sales to these five markets of approximately $130,000 this year!"

See also: Plocky's.

8. Kraft recall: Kraft Velveeta Cheesy Skillets Singles Ultimate Cheeseburger Mac.

It's not easy being cheesy.

9. Honolulu's Chicago-Style Hot Dog Joint Farkles Is Moving.

To Chinatown - not kidding.

10. Eating The World's Worst Chicago-Style Hot Dog.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 3:24 AM | Permalink

January 25, 2014

Jon Stewart: The Old Hope-A-Dope

We will totally follow the rules until we determine such time when we will no longer follow the rules. In two parts.

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Previously:
* Four Blatantly False Claims Obama Has Made About NSA Surveillance.

* EFF To DOJ In Lawsuit: Stop Pretending Information Revealed About NSA Over Last Seven Months Is Still A Secret.

* Judge On NSA Case Cites 9/11 Report, But It Doesn't Actually Support His Ruling.

* Edward Snowden's Christmas Message.

* Jon Stewart: Obama Totally Lying About NSA Spying.

* Presidential Panel To NSA: Stop Undermining Encryption.

* The NSA Is Coming To Town.

* 60 Minutes We Can't Get Back.

* Why Care About The NSA?

* NSA Surveillance Drives Writers To Self-Censor.

* Filed: 22 Firsthand Accounts Of How NSA Surveillance Chilled The Right To Association.

* Claim On 'Attacks Thwarted' By NSA Spreads Despite Lack Of Evidence.

* Obama Vs. The World.

* How A Telecom Helped The Government Spy On Me.

* UN Member States Asked To End Unchecked Surveillance.

* Government Standards Agency: Don't Follow Our Encryption Guidelines Because NSA.

* Five More Organizations Join Lawsuit Against NSA.

* A Scandal Of Historic Proportions.

* Item: NSA Briefing.

* The Case Of The Missing NSA Blog Post.

* The NSA Is Out Of Control.

* Patriot Act Author Joins Lawsuit Against NSA.

* Obama's Promises Disappear From Web.

* Why NSA Snooping Is A Bigger Deal In Germany.

* Item: Today's NSA Briefing.

* NSA Briefing: It Just Got Worse (Again).

* Song of the Moment: Party at the NSA.

* It Not Only Can Happen Here, It Is Happening Here.

* What NSA Transparency Looks Like.

* America's Lying About Spying: Worse Than You Think.

* Obama Continues To Lie His Ass Off About The NSA.

* The Surveillance Reforms Obama Supported Before He Was President.

* America's Spying: Worse Than You Think.

* Has The U.S. Government Lied About Its Snooping? Let's Go To The Videotape.

* Who Are We At War With? That's Classified.

* Six Ways Congress May Reform NSA Snooping.

* NSA Says It Can't Search Its Own E-Mails.

* Does The NSA Tap That?

* Obama Explains The Difference Between His Spying And Bush's Spying.

* FAQ: What You Need To Know About The NSA's Surveillance Programs.

* NSA: Responding To This FOIA Would Help "Our Adversaries".

* Fact-Check: The NSA And 9/11.

* The NSA's Black Hole: 5 Things We Still Don't Know About The Agency's Snooping.

* Defenders Of NSA Surveillance Citing Chicago Case Omit Most Of Mumbai Plotter's Story.

* Obama's War On Truth And Transparency.

* ProPublica's Guide To The Best Stories On The Growing Surveillance State.

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See also:
* Jimmy Carter: America's Shameful Human Rights Record.

* James Goodale: Only Nixon Harmed A Free Press More.

* Daniel Ellsberg: Obama Has Committed Impeachable Offenses.

* Paul Steiger: Why Reporters In The U.S. Now Need Protection.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:51 PM | Permalink

24-Hour News Cycle Seems Like It's Taking Forever

Frustrated Americans demand more panel coverage, around-the-clock bulletins and breaking reactions from Twitter.


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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:27 PM | Permalink

The Weekend Desk Report

This is the weekend we traditionally refer to as Super Bore Sunday. This year, however, promises to be more entertaining as we all face the very real possibility of freezing to death. In honor of fortitude we'll need to get through this, the Weekend Desk humbly presents:

The Literal Super Bore Sunday Survival Guide, Literally

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The Weekend Desk Tip Line: Literally.

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The Sound Opinions Weekend Listening Report: "LOST! Jim and Greg remember bands they thought were destined for big things, but which disappeared with barely a trace . . . into the Bermuda Triangle of Rock. Then we review a new album by the California indie rock band Warpaint."

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The Flying Saucer Weekend Brunch Report: Guinness and quinoa, oh my.

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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.

Charter Expansion At CPS

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Education experts and members of the public join this public forum on whether charter schools are performing better than neighborhood schools, and what the impact of funding charter schools is on the money given to district schools.

Sunday at 9 a.m. on CAN TV21.

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Marriage Equality Law

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Learn more about the legalization of same-sex marriage by the State of Illinois, including what the law says and how couples can get new marriage licenses.

Sunday at 11 a.m. on CAN TV21.

Posted by Natasha Julius at 7:29 AM | Permalink

January 24, 2014

The [Friday] Papers

"Republican leaders called Thursday for Susanne Atanus to drop out of the GOP primary for the 9th Congressional District after she told the Daily Herald this winter's bitter weather is a sign that God is angry over abortions and same-sex marriage," the paper reports.

God refused to comment.

*

"[Atanus's opponent, David Earl] Williams, of Chicago, has some issues of his own. He has a domestic violence order of protection that was brought by a former girlfriend and approved by a Washington, D.C., judge in December.

"Williams' campaign manager, Rae Ann McNeilly of Taxpayers United of America, called it a 'frivolous, unfounded claim' that resulted from a six-month, casual long-distance relationship."

Apparently that argument did not work in court.

*

The "winner" of this primary goes on to lose to Jan Schakowsky.

"Meanwhile, on more traditional issues, Atanus said she would work to eliminate the stock indexes, including the S&P, Dow Jones and Nasdaq, to fix the economy."

So she's not all bad.

*

In seemingly related news . . .

"lllinois Treasurer Dan Rutherford declared Thursday that he was not a 'Republican with horns and a tail,'" the Sun-Times reports.

That would be Bruce Rauner, though for this campaign he's only wearing an $18 tail.

*

"The four Republican candidates for governor tried to woo downstate Illinois voters at the latest in a series of debates Thursday, pledging not to let the state be dominated by Chicago-area clout," AP reports.

Rauner promised to cheat his kid into Southern Illinois University for a semester just to prove it.

*

"All vowed to live in the governor's mansion in Springfield, something incumbent Gov. Pat Quinn and predecessor Rod Blagojevich were criticized for not doing."

Rauner noted that "I've got way more experience living in mansions than anyone else in the race."

*

"I'm the only one who hasn't been in Springfield for decades," Rauner said.

But he's sure he could find it with a map and John Buck's bus.

*

(h/t: Rich Miller on the bus.)

*

"Citing a late Republican political icon from the Peoria area, Rauner said, 'Many of you will remember our wonderful U.S. Sen. Everett Dirksen. He had a famous line about corruption in Springfield, Cleanliness is next to godliness, except in the Illinois legislature, where it's next to impossible,'" the Tribune reports.

"But Dirksen didn't say that - the line is attributed to Adlai E. Stevenson II, the late former governor and twice unsuccessful Democratic presidential candidate."

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Beachwood Photo Booth: Old Warsaw
Chicago buffet.

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TweetWood

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Our flagship tip line.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:35 AM | Permalink

Beachwood Photo Booth: Old Warsaw

Chicago buffet.

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More Chicago photography from Helene Smith.

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Helene on Twitter!

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Meet Helene!

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Stationery, iPhone cases, hoodies.

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Previously:
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Man Grilling
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Yum Yum Donuts
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Father's Day
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Vintage Airmaster
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Time
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Window Shade
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Illinois Slayer
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Fire Escape
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Golden Nugget
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Hollywood, Chicago
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Flag Man.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Van In Flames.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Fluid Power Automation.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Corn Dog.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Stop The Killing Car.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Backyard.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: A to Z Things.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Swedish Diner.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Rothschild Liquors.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Silos.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Wires.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Orange Garden.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Irving Park Guy.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Pigeons.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: O'Lanagan's.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: For Rent.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Marie's Pizza & Liquors.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Mori Milk.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: American Breakfast.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: A Chicago Christmas Postcard.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Holiday Harold's.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Family Fun.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Snow Bike.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Nativity Scene.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:44 AM | Permalink

January 23, 2014

The [Thursday] Papers

"A fired executive of Chicago's beleaguered red light camera company alleges in a lawsuit that Redflex Traffic Systems doled out bribes and gifts at 'dozens of municipalities' in 13 other states and says he is cooperating in an ongoing federal investigation," David Kidwell reports for the Tribune.

"The explosive allegations, accompanied by few specifics, suggest investigators may be examining Redflex's business practices around the country in the wake of the company's admission last year that its flagship camera program in Chicago was likely built on a $2 million bribery scheme."

Thankfully, the city is switching from Redflex to Xerox.

"Baltimore's speed cameras likely charged motorists for thousands more erroneous tickets than previously disclosed, according to data from a secret audit conducted for the city last year and obtained by The Baltimore Sun.

"Consultant URS Corp. evaluated the camera system as run by Xerox State and Local Solutions in 2012 and found an error rate of more than 10 percent - 40 times higher than city officials have claimed. The city got those findings last April but never disclosed the high error rate, refusing calls by members of the City Council to release the audit.

"The city issued roughly 700,000 speed camera tickets at $40 each in fiscal year 2012. If 10 percent were wrong, 70,000 would have wrongly been charged $2.8 million."

Oh.

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Still, while Xerox has the new red-light camera contract, the speed camera contract is in the hands of American Traffic Solutions. So we should be good to go.

"More than 81,000 citations worth $10.2 million were issued in New Jersey through red light camera programs that were not in compliance with state law," The Newspaper reports.

"Rather than fight a drawn-out class action battle to defend the money it collected, American Traffic Solutions (ATS) last week filed a proposed settlement in federal court designed to limit the firm's liability to a sum 'not to exceed' $4.2 million."

Yes, but those are red-light issues, not speed-camera issues.

"Speed cameras are magnets for corruption," the Maryland Drivers Alliance argues.

That's because speed cameras - even more so than red-light cameras - are better than printing presses for making money.

"Speed camera contractors lobbied heavily for statewide speed cameras, even buying lawmakers steak dinners. In Prince George's County, the county's speed camera contract was awarded to a company with questionable technology which had made substantial contributions to the county executive."

Go read the whole post from the good drivers of Maryland.

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See also: "In a series of stories beginning in 2012, the Tribune has exposed a questionable relationship between Chicago's red-light camera vendor and City Hall."

Shock The Monkey
"Former Chicago mayor Richard Daley says he's 'absolutely shocked' his name appeared in the 6,000 pages of internal documents released by the Archdiocese of Chicago Tuesday regarding sexual abuse by priests," NBC Chicago reports.

He's absolutely shocked because he thought he had absolutely covered his tracks.

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"Daley is currently out of town on business, but said through his spokeswoman Jackie Heard that he 'didn't call anybody,' and 'has no recollection of calling anyone,' and finds the whole thing 'absurd.'"

So he had time to call Jackie Heard but not to call the actual reporter, who presumably would ask follow-up questions including the evidence presented in the documents. He's right, that's absurd.

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Reminder: "Underage drinking parties in [Father Robert] Mayer's room at St. Stephens rectory were brought to the attention of the Des Plaines Police Department, and the documents show that then Cook County State's Attorney Rich Daley called the Archdiocese to say the 'police captain is not held in high esteem.' No charges were filed in the case."

Mayer later went to prison for sexual abuse.

*

Daley is similarly shocked that anyone would think he knew anything about Jon Burge during his time as state's attorney. He deemed that scenario so absurd that he did everything possible to escape being deposed despite repeated promises to make himself available for questioning under oath.

Journos & Obamacare
When the personal is political.

The Political Odds
Updated to reflect recent developments.

Why Tanaka Rejected Chicago
Another Beachwood Special Report.

Uncle Fun Leaves Smiling
Our goodbye to a purveyor of whimsy.

Requiem For The Rock
A mighty fine line. Plus: Requiem for the passenger pigeon, an amazing story of Amazing Fantasy #15 and one woman's quest to rebuild CPS's libraries. In Local Book Notes.

Human Ken Doll vs. King Of The Nerds
Chicago vs. Grayslake.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Human tip line doll.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 11:59 AM | Permalink

Local TV Notes: Human Ken Doll Vs. King Of The Nerds

"Justin Jedlica has had 140 plastic surgery procedures in the last 15 years," DNAinfo Chicago reports.

"The 33-year-old Trump Tower resident has 12 implants in his torso that mimic shapely arm and chest muscles, 15 silicone injections in his buttocks and 11 in his face.

"The spate of procedures earned him the nickname 'the Human Ken Doll' when he made his first TV appearance on a 2012 20/20 special called 'Extreme Plastic Surgery.'"

He also just appeared on TLC's My Strange Addiction:


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See also:
* Google Image search of Justin Jedlica.

* JustinJedlica.com.

* Valeria Lukyanova 'Barbie' Mocked by 'Ken' Justin Jedlica.

Nerd Trend Unabated
"Josh Wittenkeller has put his passion for sci-fi, comic books and video games to good use," the Tribune reports.

"Besides running a Pokemon and Nintendo-focused YouTube channel (The JWittz, with more than 800,000 subscribers), the Grayslake native will compete for the $100,000 grand prize on the TBS reality show, King of the Nerds. The reality competition, which premieres Thursday, is hosted by Revenge of the Nerds stars Robert Carradine and Curtis Armstrong."

That YouTube channel would be this one.

FYI: Wittenkeller is a media studies graduate.

The trailer:

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Noted
Young Chefs Flock Downtown for MasterChef Junior Casting Call.

Cautionary Comics Tale
The description of a recent Hardcore Pawn: Chicago:

"A mother of her son away at college makes a deal with Wayne and Randy to sell his comic books for $100, after an expert they hired determined their value. However, she later called off the deal when she got a better offer from another dealer, who was offering her $200. They would later find out that that other seller was actually the expert that they hired. Furthermore, they found the reason why the expert wanted the comics - it included a copy of Amazing Fantasy #15, which featured the debut of Spider-Man, valued at around $12,000."

Here's the whole episode.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:51 AM | Permalink

Local Book Notes: Requiems For The Passenger Pigeon, The Rock Island Line & Amazing Fantasy #15

"It was 100 years ago when the passenger pigeon became extinct. WBBM's Steve Miller spoke with a Chicago author who chronicled the disappearance of the species," the station reports.

"It's rare when we know when the last of a species died," said Joel Greenberg.

"Joel Greenberg is the author of A Feathered River Across the Sky: The Passenger Pigeon's Flight to Extinction."

Click through for the interview.

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From Bloomsbury Publishing:

"Joel Greenberg is a Research Associate of the Chicago Academy of Sciences Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum and the Field Museum. Author of three books, including A Natural History of the Chicago Region, Greenberg has taught natural history courses for the Morton Arboretum, Brookfield Zoo, and Chicago Botanical Gardens. He helped spearhead Project Passenger Pigeon to focus attention on human-caused extinctions. Greenberg lives in Westmont, Illinois. He blogs at Birdzilla.com and you can find more about Project Passenger Pigeon at http://passengerpigeon.org."

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From a review in the New Yorker:

"In his new book about the passenger pigeon, the naturalist Joel Greenberg sets out to answer a puzzling question: How could the bird go from a population of billions to zero in less than fifty years?"

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From a review in the Wall Street Journal:

"[O]n Sept. 1, 1914, Martha, a denizen of the Cincinnati Zoo, was found dead in her cage. She was the last of her kind. Stuffed and mounted, she is in the Smithsonian, although not currently on display. What could have driven a bird so abundant as to blot out the sun itself into extinction in only half a century? As Mr. Greenberg makes clear, it was the combination of three factors: the species' peculiar nesting habits, the Industrial Revolution and human ignorance."

Rock Island Requiem
"Anyone who grew up in the heart of the Midwest at one time or another felt the thunder of a Rock Island railroad train," Patrick Cooke writes for the Wall Street Journal.

"With some 7,000 miles of track from Chicago and St. Louis to Galveston, Texas, and Tucumcari, N.M., the line built a latticework of influence across 13 states. The approach of a two-mile long 'Rock' brought with it the passing music of American prosperity. For generations it beckoned and comforted. A Rock Island train was that lonesome whistle in the night.

"One of those beguiled by the railroad's song was Illinois native Gregory L. Schneider, a history professor at Emporia State University and the author of the heroically researched Rock Island Requiem: The Collapse of a Mighty Fine Line. Such was Mr. Schneider's dedication to the rails growing up that he claims to have preferred Trains magazine to Playboy. His history recounts the back-stabbing, greed, meddling and incompetence that led to the company's long death march during the 1950s and 1960s and its ignominious end in the 1970s."

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Also keep your eye on: This Railroad.net forum.

Strike Gold
"The 2012 Chicago Public Schools teacher's strike had an unintended consequence, parking one woman's drive to put books in the city's elementary schools," DNAinfo Chicago reports.

"So far Bernadette Pawlik's BooksFirst has created libraries in two CPS schools, is about to start a third and has collected more than 5,000 books for Chicago's schoolchildren."

Cautionary Comics Tale
The description of a recent Hardcore Pawn: Chicago:

"A mother of her son away at college makes a deal with Wayne and Randy to sell his comic books for $100, after an expert they hired determined their value. However, she later called off the deal when she got a better offer from another dealer, who was offering her $200. They would later find out that that other seller was actually the expert that they hired. Furthermore, they found the reason why the expert wanted the comics - it included a copy of Amazing Fantasy #15, which featured the debut of Spider-Man, valued at around $12,000."

Here's the whole episode.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:18 AM | Permalink

Why Tanaka Rejected The Cubs And White Sox

Japanese pitching phenom Masahiro Tanaka rejected Chicago twice in signing with the Yankees this week instead of one of our local teams.

While conventional wisdom has Tanaka choosing New York for the money, the big stage, and the chance to win at least one if not many World Series championships, the Beachwood has learned that a variety of other factors turned him away from Chicago.

* Cubs offered $175 million over seven years to be paid out in Ventra cards.

* White Sox refused to build Tanaka a cooler stadium in a better location.

* Clark the Cub.

* Unelected school board.

* Couldn't come to terms with Cubs rooftop owners.

* White Sox have no rooftops.

* Len Kasper tries too hard to pimp pseudo-indie bands on broadcasts.

* Hawk Harrelson even worse than Clark the Cub.

* Cubs wouldn't give up Cody Ransom's number 1, also worn by Kosuke Fukudome.

* White Sox wouldn't give up Tyler Green's number 1, also worn by Kosuke Fukudome.

* Would have been required to be Tom Ricketts' friend.

* Would have been required to be Hawk Harrelson's friend.

* Saw right through Theo's plan.

* Would have been required to spend one day a week in the White Sox call center hawking season tickets.

* New York is way better than Chicago, as is Los Angeles.

* Not room for him and Jay Cutler in same town for next seven years.

* Found out Oprah isn't here anymore.

* Had bad experience with grid garbage pick-up as a child.

* Yankees' check didn't bounce.

* Didn't want to live in a TIF district.

* Found out Mark DeRosa isn't on the Cubs anymore.

* Still mad about the White Flag trade.

* Was determined to play wherever Joe Girardi managed.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:37 AM | Permalink

Journalists Turn To Themselves For Obamacare Stories

After months of hype and hysteria, insurance policies purchased under the Affordable Care Act went into effect on New Year's Day, and journalists have largely pivoted from writing about the problems of HealthCare.gov to how the law is actually working for consumers.

Some journalists don't have to look very far. That's because they are the story, too.

Back in December, I wrote about Missouri public radio reporter Harum Helmy, who earned too much for her state's Medicaid program and too little to qualify for a subsidy that would have offset the cost of an insurance policy on Healthcare.gov.

"I know - an uninsured health reporter," she wrote to me. "The joke's not lost on me."

Since then, reporters across the country have been telling their stories - and they seem to square with the broader experiences of the public.

Take Steve Friess, a freelance journalist and former reporter at Politico. In a first-person story for the Daily Caller last week, Friess wrote about how his partner, Miles Smith, had signed up for a plan, only to try to cancel it days after it took effect because it turned out to have unexpected costs.

After the initial elation at finding a reasonably priced plan, Friess wrote, Smith found out it wasn't so great after all.

Three days into 2014, Miles took his Obamacare out for its maiden drive. His stop at the doctor went fine. At the pharmacy, it crashed.

His medication - which has cost us a co-pay of between $10 and $30 under every other plan he's had since - including one under Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan - would not be covered. At all.

That's $438 out of pocket. Every month. And it won't even go against the plan deductible.

In other words, this nifty $246 Obamacare plan would actually cost $686 a month.

Friess said he ate up an entire work week making a series of lengthy phone calls to try to figure out why the medication wasn't covered. It was an exercise in frustration.

That's not how it was supposed to be. After dozens of hours of phone calls that displaced my usual work obligations this week, only one thing is clear: Nobody can give anybody a straight or consistent answer to anything.

Our troubles may strike some as trivial and particular, although they wouldn't if it happened to them. And anyone who wants a successful system - as we do - must understand that these nightmares are happening across the nation to the very people who want Obamacare to work.

Other reporters also felt similar frustration, but their stories had somewhat different endings. Jon Brooks, a former reporter at KQED radio in San Francisco, wrote a piece about the incorrect information he was given, delays, and, ultimately, success.

But if all goes smoothly from here on out, it is quite true that I, personally, am going to be one of the winners in the Obamacare game, receiving guaranteed insurance at a big cost savings. And by big, I mean about 60 percent, or thousands of dollars per year.

Not everyone is experiencing that, of course: Cancellations of individual policies that seemed to put the lie to the president's now notorious "If you like your insurance, you can keep it," message have been well-reported, as has the sticker shock when some of those cancelled customers shopped for a replacement policy on an exchange.

For me, though, I'd have to say the entire process was a little like my recent mortgage refinancing: frustrating and riddled with potential pitfalls at every step, but with a big financial benefit as the end result.

Finally, last month, freelance science writer Anna Azvolinsky shared her concerns on Twitter in response to a tweet about enrollment in the New York State of Health exchange:

I checked in with Azvolinsky this week via e-mail to ask her how it was going. She said she and her husband had been on hold with Blue Cross for a total of 22 hours trying to pay their premiums and ensure they were enrolled. On Jan. 10, they received insurance cards in the mail, but they were for their previous plan and were of no use. She added

We were finally able to receive our [new plan] ID number on the 10th of Jan. I needed a prescription filled on the 13th so spent more than an hour on hold several times that day to receive the Rx numbers on Monday Jan. 13th, again being volleyed from rep to rep. We would be forwarded to reps in other states that had only information about specific geography customers but not to our information (in NY and other states in this area I assume).

She told me that she still doesn't have her ID card and has found that none of her doctors take her new plan. She expects to write more about her experience in the future.

Sometimes journalists become better reporters when they not only cover a story but live it, too. I can't help but wonder if that's what's happening here.

Has your insurance been canceled? Have you tried signing up for coverage through the new exchanges? Help us cover the Affordable Care Act by sharing your insurance story.

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Previously:
* Health Care Sign-Ups: This Is What Transparency Looks Like.

* How The New Yorker's Ryan Lizza Became A Mistaken Poster Boy For Obamacare.

* Loyal Obama Supporters, Canceled By Obamacare.

* Answered: Why Two Obama Loyalists Lost Their Health Policies.

* Health Care Delays Squeeze Patients In State High-Risk Pools.

* Coming In January: Obamacare Rate Shock Part Two.

* The Obamacare Deadline No One Is Talking About.

* The Obamacare Paper Pileup.

* Deadline? What Deadline? The Obamacare Sign-Up Dates Keep Moving.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 4:02 AM | Permalink

Uncle Fun Leaves Smiling

Local purveyor of fine goods and accessories designed to restore the whimsical nature with which you arrived on the planet is departing. We say our goodbyes in a series of photos.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:04 AM | Permalink

January 22, 2014

The [Wednesday] Papers

"Thousands of pages of secret church documents released Tuesday as part of a court settlement provide an unprecedented and gut-wrenching look at how the Archdiocese of Chicago for years failed to protect children from abusive priests," the Tribune reports.

"The documents provide new details and insights into how the nation's third-largest archdiocese quietly shuttled accused priests from parish to parish and failed to notify police of child abuse allegations."

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The consistency with which the Catholic Church behaved in these matters in archdioceses around the country is remarkable - as is the consistency within each archdiocese.

The documents, for example, similarly implicate Cardinals Cody, Bernardin and George.

"I feel that this whole matter should be forgotten by you as it has been forgotten by me," Cody wrote to one accused priest in 1970. "No good can come of trying to prove or disprove the allegations, and I think that you will understand this."

The revered Bernardin was no better.

"In a November 10, 1990 letter, a priest discusses a conversation he has had with then Cardinal Bernardin about an accused priest known as Fr. X," WGN-TV reports.

"We agreed that I would not indicate to Fr. X that the Cardinal was aware of anything, unless Fr. X asked me directly. The Cardinal also agreed that he would make no reference to this, unless Fr. X himself brought it up. Therefore, unless Fr. X himself raises the issue, neither the Cardinal nor I will give any indication that the Cardinal is aware of the charges."

And George:

"The files provided details not just on steps taken by church leaders decades ago, but also on Cardinal Francis George, who has led the Chicago Archdiocese since 1997," the Wall Street Journal reports.

"Victims' lawyers who have pored over the documents in recent days said they show that Cardinal George delayed removing one priest from the ministry over the recommendation of a review board and worked for the early prison release of another priest convicted of sexual assault."

In some cases, the church was aided and abetted by politicians.

"In one remarkable instance in 1997, Gov. Tommy Thompson of Wisconsin was persuaded to allow the body of an abusive priest's mother to be brought to the prison where the priest, the Rev. Norbert J. Maday, was incarcerated so he could pay his respects," the New York Times reports.

"Cardinal Francis E. George, the Roman Catholic archbishop of Chicago, described the accommodation in a thank-you note as 'an exceptional act of charity.'"

Bernardin behaved even more reprehensibly in the matter.

"The personnel file of Norbert Maday is a perfect example of how the Archdiocese of Chicago bent over backwards to help a convicted child-molesting priest, but did little to
nothing to help his victims," according to Abused in Chicago.

"Maday was convicted of child sexual abuse and intimidating witnesses in 1994, six years after the Archdiocese learned that Mayday was molesting kids. He was sentenced to 20 years in prison. In response, Cardinal Bernardin increased the priest's salary to help him in prison, after loaning Maday $100,000 for his criminal defense."

And then there is the matter of Richard M. Daley.

"More than 10 years before [Father Robert] Mayer ended up in prison for abuse, Cardinal Joseph Bernardin was aware a parish youth director compared Mayer to Charles Manson," NBC Chicago reports.

"Underage drinking parties in Mayer's room at St Stephens rectory were brought to the attention of the Des Plaines Police Department. Documents show that then Cook County State's Attorney Rich Daley called the Archdiocese to say the 'police captain is not held in high esteem.' No charges were filed."

At one point, the mother of one of Mayer's victims was threatened by the church with excommunication, according to a 1993 Tribune report.

She persisted, no to avail.

"[She] finally called the chancery herself and spoke with Rev. Kenneth Velo, now Cardinal Joseph Bernardin's executive assistant, then head of the diocese personnel board. [She] says he told her that she was just giving in to her 'motherly instincts' and that she couldn't prove a thing."

Four years after Daley blew off the case, Bernardin finally removed Mayer from his post - though he told parishioners in a letter that Mayer was merely taking a sabbatical for personal reasons.

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WGN-TV's Mark Suppelsa absolutely - and rightly - grills an archdiocese official in an interview that should be shown in journalism schools (and newsrooms) all over the country. A must-watch.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:43 AM | Permalink

Local Music Notebook: Vic Mensa Graduated While Amy Ray Got Schooled

1. Vic Mensa on Sway.

"The whole school system is mad corrupted and twisted in Chicago."


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2. Indigo Country.

"Born in Decatur, Ga., [Indigo Girl Amy] Ray is a daughter of the South," Chrissie Dickinson writes for the Tribune.

"But even though she grew up hearing the hits of Willie Nelson and Dolly Parton on the radio, she wasn't steeped in the genre. Her country music epiphany didn't happen until the 1990s, when she started listening to bands like the Waco Brothers on the Chicago alternative country label Bloodshot Records.

"The punk kind of bands that started doing country led me to look back and listen to Hank Williams, Johnny Cash and Loretta Lynn," she says. "The classic '50s and '60s stuff really turned me on to country.

Ray told much the same story to accessAtlanta:

"Before I moved [to the north Georgia mountains] , which was 20 years ago, my exposure to country was probably limited to Willie (Nelson) and Dolly (Parton) and Kris Kristofferson, which is all great. But when I got up here, that was the same time I was listening to a lot of stuff on (alt-country focused) Bloodshot Records out of Chicago, and that made me delve deeper.

Bonus Chicago connection:

She did, however, have to travel north to Chicago to hook up with old pal Kelly Hogan, the soulful singer from Atlanta who currently works with Neko Case and Iron and Wine, among other acts.

Hogan, whom Ray calls, "one of those people who always has a lot of great things to say," sings harmonies on the title track and the song "Time Zone."

Hogan now lives in Wisconsin but fondly recalls the "long, crazy day" she spent recording her vocals with her friend at the Wilco Loft, the cozy Chicago studio run by the indie rock band.

You're to blame, Bloodshot!

The trailer:

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3. Meet Tink.

"Chicago is home to a burgeoning bunch of female hip-hop talent: Sasha Go Hard, Katie Got Bandz, and more recently, Tink," Dana Droppo writes for Complex.

"Tink is a talented rapper lyrically, rhythmically, and stylistically . . . But the thing that distinguishes her from her hometown contemporaries is her alternate identity as an R&B vocalist."

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 5:07 AM | Permalink

January 21, 2014

This Happened: The 45th Annual Chicago Festival Of Polka Bands

In Chicago Ridge over the weekend.

1. Music Company.


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2. Lenny Gomulka & The Chicago Push.

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3. Chicago NuTones.

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4. Chicago Image.

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5. Eddie Korosa Jr.

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6. Tony Blazonczyk's New Phaze.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 2:24 PM | Permalink

The [Tuesday] Papers

"Chicago Public Schools said it will tap into $21.5 million in surplus tax increment financing funds to hire extra teachers for arts and daily physical education classes," the Tribune reports.

On one hand, yay!

On the other, further evidence - as if any was needed - that TIF is just a slush fund for the mayor. This isn't in any way what the collection of these funds is meant to be used for under state law.

*

"Last week, the financially strapped district announced that it planned to finally comply with state requirements for daily physical education for kindergarten through 12th grade. Officials said how the extra gym classes would be paid for was still being worked out.

"Now officials say TIF money allocated by the city in November will be used to pay for 84 physical education teachers and 84 art teachers for schools in need. Many of those same positions were cut earlier this school year by principals facing declining enrollment and cuts to their budgets."

Further evidence - as if any was needed - that the CPS not only lacks cohesive long-range planning, but lacks cohesive short-range planning too.

*

"Teachers, students, parents and activists from two dozen Chicago schools descended on the Board of Education Wednesday to protest what they say are 'deep, painful' budget cuts at local schools," WBEZ reported last June.

"Speakers Wednesday urged board members to use their political clout to demand that TIF funds destined for developers be channeled back to education.

"But board member Andrea Zopp said it was 'magical thinking' to assume there's a pot of money hidden somewhere."

Ta-da!

Divvy Doozy
"A Montreal-based equipment supplier for Divvy filed for bankruptcy Monday, but at least one city official said it shouldn't affect operations of Chicago's bicycle-sharing program," the Tribune reports.

Well, as long as at least one city official said that.

*

"One of Bixi's U.S. customers says the cash-strapped Montreal company is not fulfilling key obligations of its contract to supply bike-sharing equipment and software," the Montreal Gazette reported in October.

"Nice Ride Minnesota has filed a 'notice of material breach' of the purchase agreement it signed in 2010 with the Public Bike System Co., the city-of-Montreal-controlled firm behind Bixi.

"Nice Ride will not say how Bixi is alleged to have breached the agreement. Such notices are sometimes a first step toward a lawsuit or a contract termination."

At least one Chicago official, though, said to just ride along; nothing to see here.

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"Montreal has said Bixi is $42 million in debt, running a deficit of $6.5 million and owed $5 million by cities that purchased systems.

"The city has dismissed speculation that Bixi is on the brink of bankruptcy."

Or, at least one city official did.

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Of course, airlines still fly planes while in bankruptcy. Just make sure your Divvy bike can outrun the repo man.

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"Vancouver will review its proposed but already-delayed bike-share program after Bixi Bikes, the supplier, filed for bankruptcy protection on Monday," the Vancouver Sun reports.

"Bixi, a non-profit company controlled by the City of Montreal, filed for protection after the city demanded repayment of a $37-million loan. Montreal taxpayers are also on the hook for a $6.4-million line of credit to the company, and Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre says Bixi owes the city about $48 million."

Apparently Montreal doesn't have a magical pot of TIF money to dip into.

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"Vancouver delayed the proposed rollout until early 2014 because Alta and Bixi hadn't met the city's financial conditions, including providing a sound business plan."

But this is the same plan we sold Chicago on!, at least one Bixi official exclaimed.

*

"Bixi began operations in 2008 and Montreal became a major shareholder. The company expanded into international sales, but now that global arm is dragging it down, as foreign customers owe Bixi $5.6 million.

"Other cities are not paying because they are not happy with delays in promised updates in back-end software. New York City owes $3 million, Chicago $2.6 million."

Taxicab Non-Confession
"Taxi industry insiders have their suspicions about why the City of Chicago is holding out on results of a medallion auction held three months ago," WBEZ reports.

"The city's department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection set the starting bid for the licenses at an eye-popping $360,000 apiece - nearly twice what it was when the city last auctioned medallions in 2010. That time around, the winning bids were made public within a month of the auction.

"The BACP promised similarly to publicize results of the more recent auction within weeks of the end of the bidding period. But WBEZ received a response on Friday to a Freedom of Information Act request about the bids. The city still appears to be far from publicizing the results of the auction.

"'No information or documents may be released until all medallion sales have closed,' the letter states. 'Therefore, at this point in time, the Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection cannot disclose any bid submission documents.'"

In other words, something went wrong and we haven't fixed it yet. But we're hiring back some cab drivers to teach gym!

The Tanaka Tease
In typical Cubs circularity, the team's grand plan may be the very thing that keeps them from landing the Japanese pitching phenom. In SportsMonday.

The Weekend In Chicago Rock
Featuring: The Rural Alberta Advantage, Spires, Toy, Robert Glasper, Superchunk, Darkside, Killing Gods, Sworn In, Walk Off The Earth, Mutual Benefit, John Newman, Andy Allo, and David Grisman's Folk Jazz Trio.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: One small step.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:29 AM | Permalink

January 20, 2014

SportsMonday: The Tanaka Tease

The Cubs, and particularly chairman Tom Ricketts, don't want to sign Masahiro Tanaka. But they realize they can't afford to let the White Sox have him.

The bottom line is it would be a huge upset if either Chicago team signed the top remaining free agent starting pitcher. Other teams bidding for the player who went a ridiculous 24-0 for the Japanese League champ Rakuten Eagles last season reportedly include the Dodgers and Yankees. And those teams have of course displayed far more willingness to spend huge on free agents than Ricketts' Cubs, or the White Sox for that matter.

Those teams also represent a far better chance for Tanaka to quickly play for a contending team than do the Cubs. After a deadline of late last week for teams to make an offer to the Japanese pitcher, a deadline the Cubs and White Sox both met, there is a deadline late this week for Tanaka to choose a contract.

Ricketts has already established this off-season that his first priority is profits and only profits. The Cubs have done virtually nothing to upgrade their major league roster in the last few months despite losing almost 200 games the last two seasons. And one starting pitcher, no matter how good, won't make a big difference. But they know that fans are watching carefully and they are keenly aware of the moves made on the other side of town.

For their part, the South Siders have made a series of savvy transactions that filled holes with exciting young players such as Adam Eaton, Matt Davidson and Jose Abreu. And the White Sox made the big moves at the end of last season to add potential outfield star Avisail Garcia and speedy utility man Leury Garcia (no relation).

No matter how much they talk about "the plan" to pile up prospects and eventually contend in, I guess, 2017, the Cubs brass has to be feeling the heat. The White Sox' new young players all have at least a little major-league experience. They won't all make it but they all have legitimate chances. The Cubs might manage to get a prospect or two to the majors this year, but it is a stretch. The team talks about giving all of their prospects endless time to develop, seemingly oblivious to the fact that stars usually make it to the majors in a hurry.

But back to profits: The Cubs slashed their payroll about as low as they could possibly go in 2013 by trading the last of the big-money free agents of the previous regime. The last man out was Alfonso Soriano. Actually Soriano isn't quite all the way out - the Cubs still owe him $14 million in this the final year of the eight-year deal he signed with Jim Hendry and the Cubs way back when. The Cubs agreed to cover most of his remaining salary when they traded him to the Yankees.

While attendance was down to about 2.6 million last year, payroll going forward is down considerably further. The best current estimate is that the Cubs 2014 payroll is more than $30 million below the league average. In other words, even if the Cubs sign Tanaka to a contract worth something like the $20 million a year that is reportedly a possibility, they are still way below even the league average, let alone what a team whose revenues were in the top five in the league a few years ago should be.

The company line is that the team can't afford to increase payroll because the owners are so highly leveraged and they have to get more revenue streams going. The problem is, they are highly leveraged because they chose to be. The Ricketts' could have put more money into the enterprise when they purchased it five years ago. They decided against it.

In classic Cubs circularity, it is this state of affairs that may keep Tanaka from the Cubs, which just goes to show how dumb "the plan" really is.

Meanwhile, another Cub convention came and went last weekend. There are apparently still thousands of Cubs fans willing to wait and wait some more for a contending team. One guy who clearly is not willing to wait is the Cubs only returning major league asset with significant value: Jeff Samardzija.

The Cubs have tried to pressure their best starting pitcher into signing a long-term extension on their terms. Samardzija has resisted and it is clear that a part of the reason why, which he made clear in remarks at the convention, is he wants to see what the team will do to contend soon - not just theoretically in 2017.

Samardzija is taking a hard look at whether the Cubs are actually doing everything in their power to bring in Tanaka. Cubs fans should obviously do the same.

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

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:05 AM | Permalink

The [MLK Day 2014] Papers

"For six months in 1966, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., his wife Coretta Scott King and their children lived in a run-down, tenement building that once stood here [a ramshackle, West Side apartment building at 1550 South Hamlin], while King campaigned against segregation in the North," Fox Chicago News reported in August.

He actually lived and what he did in bringing light to fair housing in the world, in America, that we appreciate that. And that's why we have done, we have started on, right now," says Kim Jackson of the MLK Fair Housing Exhibit Center.

Kim Jackson said her group needs to raise about $300,000 to open a Fair Housing Exhibit in a first floor space on the site. January 26th is the target date, the 48th anniversary of the King Family moving into North Lawndale.

Beyond that are far more ambitious plans for a "Martin Luther King, Jr., Memorial District" that would require millions of dollars.


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The MLK Historic Memorial District.

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Largest Mural Of The Decade.

King vs. Chicago
King in Chicago, Part 1: To King, Chicago was the Birmingham of the North. Meanwhile, Richard J. Daley mobilized black machine pols to undermine King here.

King in Chicago, Part 2: Daley told machine leaders that King and his followers were simply trying to "grab" power.

King in Chicago, Part 3: Daley went into a rage about King, calling him a sonafabitch, a prick, and a rabble-rouser.

King in Chicago, Conclusion: The housing summit was Daley's masterstroke, a way of ending the protests and driving the movement out of town in exchange for vague and unenforceable commitments.

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TweetWood

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Dream stream.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:38 AM | Permalink

The Weekend In Chicago Rock

You shoulda been there.

1. The Rural Alberta Advantage at Lincoln Hall on Friday night.


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2. Spires at Beat Kitchen on Thursday night.

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3. Toy at Beat Kitchen on Thursday night.

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4. Robert Glasper at the Double Door on Thursday night.

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5. Killing Gods at Mojoes in Joliet on Friday night.

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6. Sworn In at Mojoes in Joliet on Saturday night.

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7. Walk Off The Earth at House of Blues on Saturday night.

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8. Darkside at the Metro on Friday night.

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9. Superchunk at Saki on Saturday afternoon.

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10. Mutual Benefit at Lincoln Hall on Friday night.

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11. John Newman at Lincoln Hall on Saturday night.

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12. Andy Allo at the Elbo Room on Saturday night.

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13. David Grisman's Folk Jazz Trio at City Winery on Thursday night.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 5:35 AM | Permalink

January 18, 2014

The Weekend Desk Report

1. Oh, OfficeMax.

2. Don't go with Gusto.

3. Nun fun.

4. The New York Times' Most Popular Story of 2013 Was Not An Article.

5. Drinking leaves you smarter than you thought.

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The Weekend Desk Tip Line: Apply now.

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Special Weekend Music Report: Nation Discovers R. Kelly's Past. A teaching moment slow on arrival.

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Local TV Notes: Redford's Rahm. Be very afraid.

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The Sound Opinions Weekend Listening Report: "Definitive Beatles historian Mark Lewisohn talks about the Fab Four before they were legends. His comprehensive new text Tune In delves into the band's early years in Liverpool and Hamburg. And Jim and Greg rekindle an age-old Sound Opinions debate: To Bruce or not to Bruce."

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The Flying Saucer Weekend Brunch Report: The special ingredient is love.

saucerjan1814.jpg

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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: Latino Art Beat

1-13-LatinoArt.jpg

Don Rossi discusses the work and aims of Latino Art Beat, a Chicago-based nonprofit arts organization that awards scholarships to high school students from select cities across the country.

Saturday at 8 p.m. on CAN TV21.

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Shutdown Guantanamo

1-13-Guantanamo.jpg

Visual art projects and an expert panel shed light on Guantanamo Bay, its issues today, and the movement to close it.

Sunday at 9 a.m. on CAN TV21.

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Childcare in Chicago: A Working Woman's Issue

1-13-Childcare.jpg

This roundtable brings together perspectives of childcare providers, teachers and parents, highlighting the challenges mothers and all parents face in making sure their children are cared for while they work.

Sunday at 11 a.m. on CAN TV21.

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To My Sister With Love

1-13-ToMySisterWithLove.jpg

This candid interview program examines what it's like to lose a loved one to cancer.

Sunday at 9 p.m. on CAN TV19.

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Let's Shout! Chicago

1-13-LetsShoutChicago.jpg

Gospel artist Cornell Williams performs his songs on this show dedicated to sharing Chicago soul and gospel music.

Sunday at 9:30 p.m. on CAN TV19.

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Hopes & Dreams of MLK Jr.

1-13-HopesAndDreamsMLK.jpg

Reflect on the words, deeds and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., with guest Velma King and host Frank Avila.

Monday at 6:30 p.m. on CAN TV19.


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 1:05 PM | Permalink

January 17, 2014

Local TV Notes: Robert Redford's Rahm & Rich Kids' Reality

"CNN's Chicagoland docu series is apt to be a ratings bonanza when the 8-part unscripted series starts airing on March 6, a date stated in a promo, now airing, but still unconfirmed by CCN," Reel Chicago reports.

"It was produced by Robert Redford's new Sundance Productions set up for TV and multimedia."

Fear the worst.

CNN formally says the show will give viewers "an inside look of the city's leaders and residents as they work to improve the public education system and neighborhood and youth safety."

"Chicago's vibrant culture and opportunities inherent in this 21st century, world-class city run alongside profound daily challenges," said Redford, who was the series' executive producer.

"Much of it falls on the shoulders of its tough, visionary mayor, his team and people doing heroic work in neighborhoods throughout the city."

Indeed, the promo displays a positive focus on Mayor Rahm Emanuel (he's being called "America's dominant mayor") for the way in which he has handled these hot button issues that have keep Chicagoans in a constant uproar.

Rahm Emanuel, our hero. I wonder if Redford will mention his somewhere-in-the-teens approval rating.

Rich Kids Reality
This just in:

ATTENTION CHICAGO: E! CELEBRATES DEBUT OF "#RICHKIDS OF BEVERLY HILLS" WITH SOCIAL MEDIA HUNT GIVING AWAY LUXURY DESIGNER ITEMS IN CHICAGO ON 1/19

Um, okay.

"E!'s new series #RichKids of Beverly Hills takes viewers inside an elite circle of wealthy twenty-somethings whose closets are filled with items from the world's most luxurious brands . . . "

Is there a flash mob we can join instead?

Reminder Of How Much They're Paid
* "WBBM-Ch. 2 weekday news anchor Rob Johnson has sold his six-bedroom house in Hinsdale for $1.08 million," Bob Goldsborough reports for the Tribune.

"The co-anchor of Channel 2's 5 p.m. and 10 p.m. newscasts, Johnson, 45, had owned the 3,440-square-foot brick-and-stone home since buying it through a bank trust in 2004 for $1.17 million."

* "Former WFLD-Ch. 32 news anchor Jan Jeffcoat has sold her three-bedroom, single-family house in the Roscoe Village neighborhood for $725,000," Goldsborough also reports.

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TV TweetWood

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 4:42 PM | Permalink

Four Blatantly False Claims Obama Has Made About NSA Surveillance

Today President Obama plans to announce some reportedly limited reforms to National Security Agency surveillance programs.

Since the first disclosures based on documents provided by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, Obama has offered his own defenses of the programs. But not all of the president's claims have stood up to scrutiny. Here are some of the misleading assertions he has made.

1. There have been no abuses.

And I think it's important to note that in all the reviews of this program [Section 215] that have been done, in fact, there have not been actual instances where it's been alleged that the NSA in some ways acted inappropriately in the use of this data 2026 There had not been evidence and there continues not to be evidence that the particular program had been abused in how it was used. - Dec. 20, 2013

At press conferences in June, August and December, Obama made assurances that two types of bulk surveillance had not been misused. In fact, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court has reprimanded the NSA for abuses both in warrantless surveillance targeting people abroad, and in bulk domestic phone records collection.

In 2011, the FISA Court found that for three years, the NSA had been collecting tens of thousands of domestic e-mails and other communications in violation of the Fourth Amendment.

The court ordered the NSA to do more to filter out those communications. In a footnote, Judge John D. Bates also chastised the NSA for repeatedly misleading the court about the extent of its surveillance.

In 2009 - weeks after Obama took office - the court concluded the procedures designed to protect the privacy of American phone records had been "so frequently and systemically violated that it can fairly be said that this critical element of the overall . . . regime has never functioned effectively."

The NSA told the court those violations were unintentional and a result of technological limitations. But the NSA's own inspector general has also documented some "willful" abuses: About a dozen NSA employees have used government surveillance to spy on their lovers and exes, a practice reportedly called "LOVEINT."

2. At least 50 terrorist threats have been averted.

We know of at least 50 threats that have been averted because of this information not just in the United States, but, in some cases, threats here in Germany. So lives have been saved. - June 19, 2013

The record is far less clear. Obama's own review group concluded that the sweeping phone records collection program has not prevented any terrorist attacks. At this point, the only suspect the NSA says it identified using the phone records collection program is a San Diego cab driver later convicted of sending $8,500 to a terrorist group in his homeland of Somalia.

The NSA's targeting of people abroad appears to have been more effective around counter-terrorism, as even surveillance skeptics in Congress acknowledge. But it's impossible to assess the role the NSA played in each case because the list of thwarted attacks is classified. And what we do know about the few cases that have become public raises even more questions:

3. The NSA does not do any domestic spying.

We put in some additional safeguards to make sure that there is federal court oversight as well as congressional oversight that there is no spying on Americans. We don't have a domestic spying program. What we do have are some mechanisms where we can track a phone number or an e-mail address that we know is connected to some sort of terrorist threat, and that information is useful. - Aug. 7, 2013

In fact, plenty of Americans' communications get swept up. The government, of course, has the phone records of most Americans. And, as the FISA Court learned in 2011, the NSA was gathering tens of thousands of domestic e-mails and other communications.

Additionally, the NSA's minimization procedures, which are supposed to protect American privacy, allow the agency to keep and use purely domestic communications in some circumstances. If the NSA "inadvertently" vacuums up American communications that are encrypted, contain evidence of a crime, or relate to cybersecurity, the NSA can retain those communications.

The privacy standards suggest there is a "backdoor loophole" that allows the NSA to search for American communications. NSA critic Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., has said, "Once Americans' communications are collected, a gap in the law that I call the 'back-door searches loophole' allows the government to potentially go through these communications and conduct warrantless searches for the phone calls or e-mails of law-abiding Americans." It's not clear whether the NSA has actually used this "backdoor."

And while the NSA acknowledges that it intercepts communications between Americans and surveillance targets abroad, the agency also intercepts some domestic communications that mention information about foreigners who have been targeted. As a result, the NSA has sometimes searched communications from Americans who have not been suspected of wrongdoing - though an NSA official says the agency uses "very precise" searches to avoid those intercepts as much as possible.

4. Snowden failed to take advantage of whistleblower protections.

I signed an executive order well before Mr. Snowden leaked this information that provided whistleblower protection to the intelligence community - for the first time. So there were other avenues available for somebody whose conscience was stirred and thought that they needed to question government actions. - Aug. 9, 2013

Obama's presidential policy directive forbids agencies from retaliating against intelligence personnel who report waste, fraud and abuse. But the measure mentions only "employees," not contractors. Whistleblower advocates say that means the order does not cover intelligence contractors.

"I often have contractors coming to me with whistleblower-type concerns and they are the least protected of them all," attorney Mark Zaid told the Washington Post.

What's more, the directive was not yet in effect at the time Snowden came forward.

Since the leaks, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence has said "the Executive Branch is evaluating the scope" of the protections.

Former NSA employee Thomas Drake argues that even if Snowden were a government employee who went through the proper legal channels, he still wouldn't have been safe from retaliation. Drake says while he reported his concerns about a 2001 surveillance program to his NSA superiors, Congress, and the Department of Defense, he was told the program was legal. Drake was later indicted for providing information to the Baltimore Sun. After years of legal wrangling, Drake pleaded guilty to a lesser charge and got no prison time.

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Previously:
* EFF To DOJ In Lawsuit: Stop Pretending Information Revealed About NSA Over Last Seven Months Is Still A Secret.

* Judge On NSA Case Cites 9/11 Report, But It Doesn't Actually Support His Ruling.

* Edward Snowden's Christmas Message.

* Jon Stewart: Obama Totally Lying About NSA Spying.

* Presidential Panel To NSA: Stop Undermining Encryption.

* The NSA Is Coming To Town.

* 60 Minutes We Can't Get Back.

* Why Care About The NSA?

* NSA Surveillance Drives Writers To Self-Censor.

* Filed: 22 Firsthand Accounts Of How NSA Surveillance Chilled The Right To Association.

* Claim On 'Attacks Thwarted' By NSA Spreads Despite Lack Of Evidence.

* Obama Vs. The World.

* How A Telecom Helped The Government Spy On Me.

* UN Member States Asked To End Unchecked Surveillance.

* Government Standards Agency: Don't Follow Our Encryption Guidelines Because NSA.

* Five More Organizations Join Lawsuit Against NSA.

* A Scandal Of Historic Proportions.

* Item: NSA Briefing.

* The Case Of The Missing NSA Blog Post.

* The NSA Is Out Of Control.

* Patriot Act Author Joins Lawsuit Against NSA.

* Obama's Promises Disappear From Web.

* Why NSA Snooping Is A Bigger Deal In Germany.

* Item: Today's NSA Briefing.

* NSA Briefing: It Just Got Worse (Again).

* Song of the Moment: Party at the NSA.

* It Not Only Can Happen Here, It Is Happening Here.

* What NSA Transparency Looks Like.

* America's Lying About Spying: Worse Than You Think.

* Obama Continues To Lie His Ass Off About The NSA.

* The Surveillance Reforms Obama Supported Before He Was President.

* America's Spying: Worse Than You Think.

* Has The U.S. Government Lied About Its Snooping? Let's Go To The Videotape.

* Who Are We At War With? That's Classified.

* Six Ways Congress May Reform NSA Snooping.

* NSA Says It Can't Search Its Own E-Mails.

* Does The NSA Tap That?

* Obama Explains The Difference Between His Spying And Bush's Spying.

* FAQ: What You Need To Know About The NSA's Surveillance Programs.

* NSA: Responding To This FOIA Would Help "Our Adversaries".

* Fact-Check: The NSA And 9/11.

* The NSA's Black Hole: 5 Things We Still Don't Know About The Agency's Snooping.

* Defenders Of NSA Surveillance Citing Chicago Case Omit Most Of Mumbai Plotter's Story.

* Obama's War On Truth And Transparency.

* ProPublica's Guide To The Best Stories On The Growing Surveillance State.

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See also:
* Jimmy Carter: America's Shameful Human Rights Record.

* James Goodale: Only Nixon Harmed A Free Press More.

* Daniel Ellsberg: Obama Has Committed Impeachable Offenses.

* Paul Steiger: Why Reporters In The U.S. Now Need Protection.

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Comments welcome.



Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 11:54 AM | Permalink

The [Friday] Papers

"The Chicago Sun-Times has ended its lease at 350 N. Orleans effective at the end of 2014, according to building owner Shorenstein Properties LLC.," the Tribune notes.

"The newspaper's owner has been leasing 98,000 square feet at the riverfront building bearing the paper's name since 2004. It is unclear whether the paper will move to another building or reduce its space."

Or just ask everyone to work from home.

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Alternatives:

* Or just ask everyone to work out of Peet's (because Starbuck's is too expensive).

* Seeking phone booth to lease to better suit downsized staff.

* Considering a move to a closed school because those buildings are used to being under utilized.

-

Yes, I know, there aren't really phone booths around anymore.

Cup O' Joe
Judge: Cook County Watchdog Can Investigate Berrios' Office.

In possibly related news, Joe Berrios gathered his staff yesterday to consider resigning for family reasons.

Trash Man Follies
Al Sanchez is a real Chicago creature. In The [Alfred Sanchez] Papers.

*

An old-school creature. These are the new-schoolers.

Phony Baloney
"A Chicago federal judge has delayed the bribery trial of state Rep. Derrick Smith after prosecutors said they needed time to locate phone records," AP reports.

The punch line is way too easy, so just think it in your head and move on.

Booze Cruise
"Chicagoans could do their Sunday morning booze shopping three hours earlier, under a change in the works by Mayor Rahm Emanuel's City Council floor leader," WLS-AM notes.

"Ten years after relaxing Chicago's liquor law to give people an early start on Sunday champagne brunch, Ald. Pat O'Connor (40th) wants to permit the sale of 'package goods liquor' at 8 a.m., instead of 11 a.m. on Sunday."

The champagne brunch lobby has entirely too much power in this city.

*

Nonetheless, why limit the hours at all?

*

"The change stems from O'Connor's efforts to lure a new grocer into the site of a now-shuttered Dominick's on Lincoln Avenue just north of Foster Avenue."

Yes, of course it does!

"I've been talking with people who own grocery store chains. I'm kind of getting a primer on how grocery stores make money and don't make money and this came up. If they're leaving revenue on the table and they could make more money from something so simple, it's worth looking at," O'Connor said.

Hint: The markup on booze is tremendous.

*

On the other hand, nothing good happens before 11 a.m.

Beachwood Photo Booth: Nativity Scene
Wise man.

How To Make Clark Cub Cool
Our advice.

The Week In Chicago Rock
According to YouTube, there wasn't one. We'll try again on Monday.

-

The Beachwood Tip Line: For Petey's sake.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:22 AM | Permalink

The [Alfred Sanchez] Papers

"Convicted ex-Streets and Sanitation Commissioner Alfred 'Al' Sanchez's political comeback hit a major roadblock Thursday: an elections board kicked him off the Cook County ballot because he's not done with his parole," the Tribune reports.

(For some reason, the Tribune felt it was important to use Sanchez's full legal name in this article for the first time since 2005; it has done so only 11 times dating back to what appears to be his first mention in the paper in 1986.)

"State law allows convicted felons to run for County Board, but Sanchez was on supervised release stemming from a city hiring fraud conviction when he filed his paperwork to secure a spot on the March 18 Democratic primary ballot.

"Sanchez attorney Dan Johnson argued that state law only required Sanchez to be finished serving his sentence by the time he would take office Dec. 1. Johnson argued Sanchez was eligible to ask to have his parole terminated in July, and the elections board should err on his side.

"In baseball, there's a rule, the tie goes to the runner, and here the rule is similar," Johnson argued via speaker phone in a basement hearing room at the George W. Dunne Cook County Office Building.

Sanchez's lawyer not only got the law wrong, but he got baseball rules wrong too.

"But an attorney representing a resident of the South Side and south suburban district who was challenging Sanchez's ballot spot contended state law required Sanchez to be eligible when he filed papers to run.

"There is no tie to the runner in this case. There are no extra innings," election lawyer Adam Lasker said. "We have shut out Mr. Sanchez."

FTW.

*

"Donald Pechous, an elections board member representing the state's attorney's office, said the decision was easy.

"The candidate was not qualified when he filed his statement of candidacy," Pechous said. "And it is wholly speculative that he will be eligible on the day of the election or when he would take office if elected."

Game, set, match.

*

"I'm not a legal beagle, but I thought I was eligible," Sanchez said. "They didn't want to see me on this ballot. That's what it's about."

Are you saying the selection process is rigged, Al?

To wit:

"Sanchez was convicted of rigging City Hall hiring to benefit political foot soldiers under then-Mayor Richard M. Daley. In addition to running Streets and Sanitation, Sanchez also headed the once-powerful pro-Daley Hispanic Democratic Organization and was the highest-ranking Daley appointee sent to prison following a federal investigation into hiring."

*

Sanchez remains unrepentant, which makes him unfit for office - though there are certainly worse currently holding down public jobs. Still, it's amazing to see just how far back Sanchez goes as a political mope who has always played dirty. Let's take a look.

*

"When Ald. Edward Vrdolyak (10th) announced Monday that he would run for mayor on the Solidarity Party ticket, he also introduced two of his friends as running mates for city clerk and treasurer," the Tribune reported in 1986.

"The men - one black, the other Hispanic - have held city jobs or contracts and say they are not satisfied with Mayor Harold Washington's administration. They are John J. Thomas, Jr., 55, candidate for city clerk, and Alfred Sanchez, 39, candidate for treasurer."

Sanchez was also a Vrdolyak precinct captain. And:

"Sanchez, also a resident of the 10th Ward, is a former Department of Human Services employee and has worked for the last two years in the research office of the city council finance committee."

Chaired by Ed Burke.

*

Sanchez, of course, lost that election. But he rose to the top of the Daley-created Hispanic Democratic Organization patronage machine and eventually got his reward.

"[I]n a surprise announcement that generated controversy of its own, Daley appointed Alfred Sanchez, a veteran political operative, as the new Streets and Sanitation commissioner," the Tribune reported in 1999.

Sanchez, tabbed to replace Eileen Carey - who Daley announced was his choice to head the Public Building Commission - has been the subject of a recent investigation by the city's inspector general into allegations that he did political work on city time. Two employees also allege that he tried to force them to do political work.

And earlier this year he was involved in an off-duty accident in which a city car was demolished.

Sanchez denied any wrongdoing, attributed some of the allegations against him to ill will generated by the rough-and-tumble politics played in his native 10th Ward.

Here's the funny part:

Sanchez acknowledged that representatives of the city's Office of Inspector General have questioned him about doing political work while on the city clock, "but I know everything has been unfounded . . . I have done this too long to cross that gray line.

Gold.

*

"As for the auto accident last winter, Sanchez said he was returning home from a political function when he was cut off by another vehicle and slammed into a guardrail.

"Sanchez acknowledged that he had consumed 'a beer or two' and submitted to a field sobriety test, 'but I was not intoxicated.' No charges were filed."

*

Two weeks later, the Tribune reported this gem:

In other action Tuesday, Alfred Sanchez, Daley's choice to become the new commissioner of the Department of Streets and Sanitation, won approval of the council's Committee on Budget and Government Operations.

Sanchez, a longtime political operative and a leader of the Hispanic Democratic Organization, "will be a good commissioner," Daley asserted.

Asked by reporters if he will cease his political activities, Daley said first that Sanchez will "lessen" them. Pressed, the mayor said, "He will stop it" and will "separate himself" from the Hispanic Democratic Organization.

Six years later, Daley forced Sanchez out ahead of his indictment and eventual conviction for doing Daley's dirty work.

"Al Sanchez, the former commissioner of Chicago's Streets and Sanitation Department, was sentenced to 2 1/2 years in prison today for rigging city hiring as part of a political patronage scheme," the Tribune reported in 2011.

"Sanchez continued to deny wrongdoing before U.S. District Judge Robert Gettleman imposed the prison sentence.

"They had to get Al Sanchez," he told the judge. "That's what this has been all about."

Gee, that sounds familiar.

Sanchez denied knowing the hiring practices were illegal, saying, "I didn't create this system. Had I known it was corrupt, I wouldn't get involved in it."

In 1999, he had been at it too long to "cross that gray line." Twelve years later, he didn't know where the line was.

After all, he's no legal beagle.

-

From the Beachwood vault.

March 26, 2007:

On Week in Review, Channel 2's Mike Flannery once again complained that federal investigators found no quid pro quo in the Robert Sorich trial - as if Sorich wasn't rewarded with job security, a cushy salary, clout, and a future in return for his fraudulent hiring scheme. Looking only for a cash exchange exhibits a stunning naivete for such an often sharp political observer.

Likewise, pundit John McCarron complained that the City Hall hiring scandals looked like the business-as-usual he grew up with. "Now we're informed that this was all illegal," he says.

Besides the fact that fraud has always been illegal, Michael Shakman filed the lawsuit that led to the Shakman Decree prohibiting political hiring in 1969. I'm pretty sure everybody got the news.

Tribune sports editor Dan McGrath opined that indicted former Streets and San commissioner Al Sanchez "was a good administrator" because the streets got plowed. (Not everyone in many South Side neighborhoods would agree.) Apparently McGrath is under the impression that the streets don't get plowed in cities without massively fraudulent hiring.

"He demanded that his guys do their city jobs!" Flannery screamed.

March 11, 2009:

"Authorities say Sanchez and other HDO leaders rigged city hiring in favor of campaign workers who helped Daley and the mayor's endorsed candidates in elections for more than a decade," the Tribune reports.

"Raymond Gamboa, a deputy commissioner in the city's General Services Department and a former HDO operative, testified Monday that top Daley political strategist Timothy Degnan promised city jobs in exchange for political support in Daley's first successful run for mayor in 1989.

"In his first news conference since the trial began last week, Daley cut off a question Tuesday about that testimony, saying, 'I don't know.'

"He also was asked about testimony that a former city truck driver got her job due to political connections to Sanchez despite her inexperience. The Tribune reported in 2006 that the driver, Denise Alcantar, crushed another city worker against a pole.

"'Let the trial go on,' the mayor said. 'You can't comment on [a] pending trial'."

Of course you can. (And, of course, the trial is no longer "pending" but actually, you know, happening.)

You can comment to your heart's delight. But whatever you said wouldn't likely be true anyway, so whatever.

See also from this month: 'It Happens,' Convicted Pol Says Of City Worker's Death Tied To Clout.

March 19, 2009:

Is it just me, or is it odd that the federal corruption trial of the former Streets and San Commissioner, particularly placed within the context of the conviction of Robert Sorich, the mayor's former patronage chief, has basically been buried by not only the newspapers but local TV news?

Seems to me that this is sort of a big deal - some might even say "front-page news."

After all, the crimes that Sorich was convicted of, like those alleged against Al Sanchez, were for the benefit of one man: Mayor Richard M. Daley.

In fact, the defense in each case has as much as said so.

On Wednesday, Sanchez's lawyer, Thomas Breen, said his client was merely a dupe used by political powers greater than he. What powers might he be speaking of?

* Trash Man Trial Goes To Jury. My summary of closing arguments.

March 24, 2009: Mystery Sanchez Theater.

March 26, 2009:

"The 2006 trial and conviction of Daley patronage chief Robert Sorich revealed that the generations-old Chicago tradition of patronage hiring had continued to thrive in secret since virtually the beginning of the mayor's reign," the Trib reported.

And actually before the mayor's reign; testimony in the trial showed that HDO was formed while Daley was still the Cook County State's Attorney for the express purpose of getting him elected mayor - and keeping him there.

March 27, 2009:

I saw an excerpt on Chicago Tonight last night of John Callaway's interview with Ron Huberman to be aired tonight. Very interesting - but not in a way that I think Callaway realized.

Huberman is now the CEO of Chicago Public Schools; he was previously the president of the CTA and for two years was Mayor Daley's chief of staff. Before that, he was in the Chicago Police Department for nine years. He has an MBA as well as a Master's of Social Service Administration from the University of Chicago. Few know the city's operations as well as he does, and he is so trusted by the mayor that some think Daley is grooming him to be his successor.

Ron knows Rich.

So Callaway asks Huberman about Daley, and Huberman describes the mayor as someone who continues to surprise him with how much he knows about what is going on in every city department - things not even the department leaders sometimes know. The quality and quantity of information the mayor has, Huberman says, is stunning.

Do you see where I'm going with this?

Now, as an expert interviewer, you might think Callaway's next question would have been, "Then how could he have not known what was going on in Al Sanchez's Department of Streets and Sanitation and Robert Sorich's Office of Intergovernmental Affairs? In fact, how can he repeatedly profess ignorance to the stream of scandals that have come out of City Hall for 20 years under his nose?"

But no. Callaway, giddily, asked for examples of this wonderful quality that Daley has that would show us the mayor's managerial mettle; Callaway even framed the question as if he was ghost-writing a manual on management.

July 12, 2010 (during Sanchez's second trial):

"Later Thursday, Jack Drumgould, [Al] Sanchez's personnel director from the late 1990s to 2004 testified how he'd hand Sanchez a list of folks who'd applied for Street and Sanitation jobs, and how his boss would highlight those people he wanted hired," the Sun-Times reports.

"Testifying under a grant of immunity, Drumgould said he would take the list to Mayor Daley's Office of Intergovernmental Affairs, which essentially controlled city hiring despite strict rules against hiring based on political clout. Drumgould said Sanchez showed no interest in interviews conducted with candidates he hadn't personally recommended."

January 8, 2014: Sanchez an innocent victim.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:40 AM | Permalink

Nation Discovers R. Kelly's Past

"On December 6, R. Kelly dropped one of the most anticipated releases of 2013, his 12th studio album, Black Panties, which arrived after months of hype that found him duetting with Lady Gaga, headlining the Pitchfork and Bonnaroo music festivals, and popping up beside Phoenix at Coachella," Jim DeRogatis writes for the Village Voice. "It was his year as much as anyone else's.

"So why is he nowhere to be found in this year's Pazz and Jop poll results? Is this the year people stopped ignoring R. Kelly's many crimes? Why, after my 15 years of reporting on those many crimes, have people started to take notice?

"The short answer may be the interview the Village Voice ran in December, a conversation I had with fellow Chicago journalist Jessica Hopper that in its first 24 hours online racked up 1 million views. As of this writing, it's approaching 4 million hits. It is, essentially, all the reporting I've done over the years in one place, a one-stop shop for the truth about R. Kelly in the age of social media. Could it be why?"

Yes, I think that's exactly why. And that's a huge indictment not just of the music industry but of the news business.

*

That December interview was a revelation to many - and a reminder to some - of the horrid, life-wrecking behavior of R. Kelly that is indisputable, despite his acquittal in a criminal court on a narrow charge that juries other than the one empaneled could very well have gone the other way on. The lock-down reporting of DeRogatis (and then-colleague Abdon Pallasch) while at the Sun-Times unmistakably paints a picture of a sexual predator who preyed on young girls at Chicago high schools and commanded them to perform various sex acts they were clearly unable to comprehend. DeRogatis and Pallasch combed through civil lawsuits and extensively canvassed Chicago neighborhoods to piece together a horrifying picture of a rapist run amok, protected by a coterie of hangers-on and a checkbook that bought the silence of victims and their relatives. How anyone could listen to Kelly's songs about believing he could fly as well as believing he could bring nirvana-like heights of sexual satisfaction to others after learning the truth about the his practices and proclivities is beyond me.

Unfortunately, the Sun-Times reporting never really went beyond the Sun-Times, which I suspect is a major reason why it never got traction. This was the news pre-Internet.

In 2003, I castigated the Tribune in my old Press Box column for Chicago magazine for essentially ignoring the Sun-Times's reporting. Their excuse at the time was that they didn't believe in reporting on civil lawsuits, given that anyone can sue anyone for anything in a civil suit. And that is true; filing a civil suit isn't exactly akin to getting a criminal indictment or charge.

But what the Sun-Times reporting showed was the utter validity of those lawsuits. Still, the Tribune sat on the sidelines, and being a bit of a student about Chicago media culture, it's a good bet that they simply ceded the story to their competition. "That's their story," I've heard said far too many times from local news shops. (That's essentially been the Trib's stance on the David Koschman story as well.)

Of course, media outlets spend much of their time reporting the same stories every day. So when an outlet chooses to take this approach, it's quite meaningful; it means the editors are simply lazy or uninterested. In the case of the Trib, they are also likely making a marketing judgement about their audience. "Two-thirds of our readers are suburban, you know," they are wont to say. (Yes, and their kids all buy R. Kelly records!)

This dynamic was at play, as I've written before, when John Conroy was blowing the lid of the Jon Burge torture scandal for the Reader. He once said on a panel I moderated that he kept expecting the other media in town to jump on the story and turn it into a competitive venture. That didn't happen, and he was left hanging out there alone for far too many years - despite his amazing reporting being rock-solid.

*

Here's that 2003 column:

When you've got a rare and extraordinary interview with a global musical superstar from your hometown who is facing child pornography charges in two states in a continuing investigation, on top of several civil lawsuits alleging sex with underage girls, you probably want to get it into the paper as quickly as possible - and on the front page. The Tribune chose another route, publishing its R. Kelly story Monday on the front page of Tempo and not exactly taking a hard edge that pushed the best revelations to the top. Kelly wouldn't discuss details of the cases against him with writer Soren Baker, but Tribune entertainment editor Scott Powers says there were no ground rules going in. Still, Powers says, Baker suspected Kelly wouldn't address the allegations against him. So the story's angle turned on how Kelly's life has been turned upside down since the charges. Given the Tribune's perplexing lack of interest in the R. Kelly saga, this is troublesome. All the more frustrating is how revealing the interview proved to be anyway. Kelly doesn't specifically deny the accusations against him; he merely explains that he doesn't believe he's a criminal. "I've always loved women," Kelly told Baker. "I've never had a problem with saying that. But I don't have a bag with little suckers in it, hiding behind some tree talking about, 'Come here, little girl.' Not me."

And then, there was this jaw-dropper: "I think I'm the only one that can understand how bin Laden feels, and I'm not supposed to know what he feels like, being a predator, being someone that's hunted down or being someone that's constantly made to look like the devil himself. And I know I'm not that. I'm not God, but I'm not the devil." Relating to Osama bin Laden is probably not a good career move, aside from the astonishing lack of perspective it displays.

Snoop Dogg, a friend of Kelly's, is then quoted as saying, "I think the media treated him very unfairly in the beginning." But he is never asked, or never offers, just exactly how.

The other curious aspect of the piece is that the interview took place in June. "We were not in a hurry to put this in the paper," Powers says. "We wanted to be extra careful we had everything together." With a court date this week in which Kelly sought permission to travel out of state for a series of concerts, the paper got the peg it felt it needed.

Baker returned to the Tribune's pages a few months later and buried this lead from an author who was close Kelly: "I knew that some of the things people were saying in judgment about Rob were true."

That appeared on page 3 of the Trib's Tempo feature section, under the Books rubric.

*

DeRogatis is to be commended for never lettting the story go - as if he could. But where was everyone else?

It's been observed many times in many places that had R. Kelly's victims been white girls, the media would have been all over it. This is true. The Tribune would not have stood by while its readership was victimized - especially by a black musician.

It's one of the biggest misses in local reporting history. Hyperbole? No. After all, Kelly rose to superstar status as one of the biggest acts on the planet. Dude's right in your backyard.

*

DeRogatis, as a rock critic, has ruminated about whether we can enjoy the art of artists who are awful people. Kelly apologists often cite immensely flawed artists like James Brown as examples of enjoying the art despite the artist.

"A lot of art, great art, is made by despicable people," DeRogatis told Hopper.

James Brown beat his wife. People are always, "Why aren't you upset about Led Zeppelin?" . . . Led Zeppelin did disgusting things . . . I have a couple of responses to that: I didn't cover Led Zeppelin. If I was on the plane, like Cameron Crowe was, I would have written about those things if I saw them.

The art very rarely talks about these things. There are not pro-rape Led Zeppelin songs. There are not pro-wife-beating James Brown songs. I think in the history of rock 'n' roll, rock music, or pop culture people misbehaving and behaving badly sexually with young women, rare is the amount of evidence compiled against anyone apart from R. Kelly. Dozens of girls - not one, not two, dozens - with harrowing lawsuits."

I think there's an even simpler response: It's not as big a sacrifice as you might think to give up artists whose work you treasure. There is a ton of great music out there. Sacrificing one great artist whose work means something to you actually isn't that big a sacrifice in the big picture. One must listen to James Brown to learn and appreciate his role and influence in music, for example, but apart from that, could you have done with refusing to spend any money on the man? Certainly. There is so much great music out there that none of us can get to everything we really want to. Removing an artists from the field of possibilities is an incredibly tiny loss. My all-time favorite artist is Bob Dylan, and my all-time favorite band is The Replacements. Going without them seems impossible, but if either were revealed to have even a tenth of R. Kelly's history, I could easily jettison them in disgust and replace them in my bandwidth with more of my other favorites or bands and artists I simply have not had time to get to whom I'm fairly sure I would love. The notion that it's so hard to give up, say, an R. Kelly, is just laziness and uncaring on the part of the listener, in my book. What it really means is you don't want to and you don't care.

*

This issue arose at last summer's Pitchfork festival, which DeRogatis wrote about. (Two years before that, it was DeRogatis rightly asking similar questions about Odd Future.) Would life have been that much less enriching had someone else headlined?

Certainly not. The world would be far, far better off without Kelly's art if we could give those girls their lives back. Because we can't do that, we can at least spare them the idolization, amnesia and forgiveness of their tormentor.

-

-

Previously:
* Lady Gaga's Affront To R. Kelly.
* Ask R. Kelly.
* Meet Mrs. R. Kelly.

-

Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 1:53 AM | Permalink

How To Make Clark Cub Cool

* Trade him for Bernie Brewer.

* Build a bear den in the rafters and he comes out after every home run to maul a deer. Or shotgun an Old Style.

* Redesign him as the opposite of everything he is now.

* Build a better backstory that includes a meth lab, a hooker and a goat.

* Ditch Regis and hire Brant Brown.

* Make him sentient.

* Steroids and a corked bat.

* Drop him from an airplane onto the pitcher's mound before every game without a parachute.

* Trade him for Brian Griffin.

* Assign him to knock off Jim Belushi.

* Send him to Des Moines for more seasoning.

* Make him a transvestite.

* Stuff him and display him above Joe Ricketts' fireplace.

* Assign him to stalk Hawk Harrelson.

* Wipe that smirk off his face.

* Heavy metal Clark.

* Party at the moon tower.

* It'd be cooler if he did.

* Have him wear a Julio Zuleta jersey.

* Have him do an Ask Me Anything on Reddit.

* Have him shoot t-shirts that say "I'm With Stupid" out of one of those t-shirt guns between innings.

* Hire Louis CK to play him.

- Steve Rhodes, Marty Gangler

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See also: Exclusive Interview With Clark Cub.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:57 AM | Permalink

Beachwood Photo Booth: Nativity Scene

Wise man.

mannativityscene14.JPG(ENLARGE FOR PROPER VIEWING)

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More Chicago photography from Helene Smith.

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Helene on Twitter!

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Meet Helene!

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Stationery, iPhone cases, hoodies.

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Previously:
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Man Grilling
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Yum Yum Donuts
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Father's Day
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Vintage Airmaster
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Time
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Window Shade
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Illinois Slayer
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Fire Escape
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Golden Nugget
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Hollywood, Chicago
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Flag Man.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Van In Flames.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Fluid Power Automation.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Corn Dog.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Stop The Killing Car.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Backyard.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: A to Z Things.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Swedish Diner.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Rothschild Liquors.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Silos.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Wires.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Orange Garden.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Irving Park Guy.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Pigeons.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: O'Lanagan's.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: For Rent.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Marie's Pizza & Liquors.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Mori Milk.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: American Breakfast.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: A Chicago Christmas Postcard.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Holiday Harold's.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Family Fun.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Snow Bike.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:17 AM | Permalink

January 16, 2014

The [Thursday] Papers

"In July 2012, The Chicago Reporter exposed one of the Chicago Housing Authority's best-kept secrets: The agency was cashing federal rent checks worth millions for empty apartments while a record number of families sat on a wait list hoping for a unit to open up," Angela Caputo reports.

"The CHA has made little progress on filling thousands of empty units, and there is still no clear plan for how many - or when - they will get filled. Meanwhile, the agency has built a nice little slush fund - mostly with federal money - that is supposed to be used to house poor families.

"The CHA had $661 million in unrestricted assets at the end of last year, a Reporter review of audited financial reports shows."

*

"This is crazy," Sarah Karp of Catalyst notes on Facebook. "[B]y the way, more than 10,000 CPS students are homeless."

*

See also Karp's report from last week: "More Transparency On Suspensions And Expulsions, But Racial Disparity Lingers."

Caputo, Karp and Linda Lutton are like the Justice League around here.

Catholic Guilt
"In the past, priests from the Archdiocese of Chicago with substantiated allegations of child sex abuse were sometimes relocated to another parish, but that wasn't a cover-up, an archdiocese representative said Wednesday - the same day local church officials released documents to attorneys detailing accusations against dozens of priests," the Sun-Times reported.

"The relocations happened 'after' the priests underwent therapy, Bishop Francis Kane, vicar general of the archdiocese, told reporters at the archdiocese's Near North Side offices. 'You wouldn't do that today. That's something we learned.

"One of the things that we've learned is that we sent people off for evaluation and we got reports back saying . . . it's safe to put them back in ministry" with monitoring, Kane said. "We found out that isn't true."

I'd like to know exactly who told them it was safe to do that.

Petcoke Poppycoke
"Chicago elected officials have vowed to crack down on the growing piles of petcoke stored by a subsidiary of Koch Industries and another company along the Calumet River on the city's Far Southeast Side," Kari Lydersen reports for Midwest Energy News.

"But at a public hearing Monday night, local residents made clear that they don't trust the City Council or Mayor Rahm Emanuel to take meaningful action on the issue."

Go read the whole thing to find out why.

Alinea Baby
Coming to an eTrade commercial near you.

*

Hawkeye on Alinea baby: "Will you shut that chicken up!"

- Tim Willette

NSA Today
Beachwood post cites Jewel v. NSA.

Tim Willette responds: Even the produce is under surveillance nowadays.

*

That's Jewels vs. NSA.

Clark Speaks
Beachwood Lands Exclusive Interview With Clark Cub!

Should Tom Thibodeau Be Fired . . .
. . . For Player Abuse?

Chi-Fi vs. Westin
Convention cancelled after alleged freaks slur.

AccentureCare
Chicago company called upon 'cause shit's fucked up.

Unreliable Source
Howard Kurtz Lied About Ties To Fox News Contributor.

Chicago-Style Drumming
A history lesson.

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TweetWood

*

*

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Danceable.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:27 AM | Permalink

Exclusive Interview With Clark Cub!

You would never known he was a big-time celebrity, strolling into Hub 51 (he's banned from Harry Caray's; there was an incident) in just a jeans and t-shirt, greeting the waitstaff like they were old friends and farting freely and unself-consciously throughout our interrview. No, Clark Gabriel Cub really is just a regular guy, despite the glitz and glamour. As he picked at his Del Mar Seafood Salad and sucked down six Amstel Lights, we talked about life, longing and how he came to be the Cubs mascot. This is an edited transcript.

How did you get the job?

Well, this is Chicago, so obviously it was because I had a connection. In this case, it was Crane Kenney. Me and Crane trained together at Cypress Gardens back in the day. We we're trying to get to the show - Disneyland. What I didn't know is that the whole time Crane was helping the warden, er, that's what we called him, the executive director, keep a second set of books to evade taxes. Then I worked the what we used to call the shitlin' circuit - Boone's Farm, Chuck E. Cheese conventions, Geyser Falls . . . I mean, it was a lot of toil. But I kept in touch with Crane the whole time.

You had some personal issues through the years.

Yeah, I mean, I was kind of legendary for finding ways to fuck up on the job. I mean, remember the Missie Mouse scandal?

That was you?

Yeah, I guess it can be told now. But to be fair, I had no idea that she was allergic to lambskin.

Was that rock bottom?

Oh no. Heh-heh. Not even close. Look, when you've been to rehab 36 times, it's kind of hard to identify a bottom, know what I mean?

But you never lost hope?

Oh, I lost hope! I was fully prepared to live out my life as a fetish bear in Cheyenne, which, by the way has a very vibrant fetish bear community, not at all as squalid as Roanoke or Thirtyninepalms, where I also lived during that time.

So how did the Cubs gig come about?

Well, like I said, I kept touch with Crane over the years, I mean, he would call up drunk all the time during the Sam Zell years, that was a real mindfuck apparently, and I guess Todd Ricketts insisted the Cubs get a new mascot or he'd sell his percentage in the team to Jeff Gordon, and by the way, they were gonna bring Ty Warner in to create the new mascot but they assumed he'd be going to prison given that he hid $25 million from the federal government, but oh well, I mean, nothing Sam Zell hasn't done, but anyway, so Crane called me one night just hysterical because his idea of a Greek Orthodox priest as mascot didn't go over too well with the Ricketts family, though he did bring them back from the ledge on changing the team name to the Obama Devils, and I was feeling pretty bold because, well, I swear, Bill Kurtis Tallgrass is, um, fine. real fine. And so I said, hey, what about me?

And that was it?

No, no, no! Crane didn't want me, per se. I mean, at the time I wasn't Clark Cub, remember. I was Jim Shoe. I was working for Famously Footwear in Ames, um, the state of Wyoming kind of deported me after an ugly incident with Liz Cheney . . . and I certainly couldn't be Jim Shoe for the Cubs, though I originally suggestion Cubbie Cleat, but we started tossing ideas around and we eventually settled on the douchiest possible bearcub we could come up with, backwards hat and all, in an effort to kill the idea outright.

Kill the idea?

Yeah. Crane flew me in and I was supposed to be so douchey that the Ricketts would just drop the idea altogether, but you can't really out-douche the Ricketts'. They took to me immediately and I got the gig.

Backwards hat and all?

Yeah! Crane told them the costume would be tax deductible if the hat remained on backwards for a full season. That sort of sealed the deal.

Wow. But you're not even a Cubs fan!

No, I hate baseball. But that fits in perfectly with the business plan for the next couple of years.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:02 AM | Permalink

History Of The Drumset: Chicago-Style Drumming

"Prohibition is enacted, leading to the decade known as the Roaring Twenties. Chicago, with its culture of gangsters and illegal speakeasies, offers a rich environment for the underground but highly danceable sound of jazz to thrive."



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"In this 16-part series, Vic Firth and Daniel Glass will be looking at 100 years of drumming evolution. Learn about the key events and advancements that shaped the drumset we know and love today!

"Visit the Vic Firth website today for an interactive timeline and hundreds of great photos cataloging the history of our instrument the drumset!"

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See also: A History Of Jazz Drumming.

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And: George Wettling: The Ultimate "Chicago Style" Accompanist.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:14 AM | Permalink

January 15, 2014

The [Wednesday] Papers

Our very own Roger Wallenstein is on the Bruce Rauner beat today with a fine post we've unimaginatively called A Lesson For Bruce Rauner. It's a little tale about a kid named Andy Velez, whom Rauner might be surprised to learn matters just as much as his daughter.

Meanwhile, I'll be out most of the day. For the last couple of months, I've been working with the Urban Youth International Journalism Program run by We The People Media, mostly out of Paul Robeson High School. (More on that in the days to come.) Today we have a field trip to the Field Museum, so I won't get back to Beachwood HQ until late afternoon.

Kafka Meets Orwell
EFF To DOJ In Lawsuit: Stop Pretending Information Revealed About NSA Over Last Seven Months Is Still A Secret.

Orwell Meets The Three Stooges
Spanglish Obamacare Website Makes Less Sense Than A Telemundo Game Show.

The Three Stooges Meet Robin Ventura
White Sox Hotel Rooming List Reveals Some Great Fake Names.

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TweetWood

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Stuff that matters.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:22 AM | Permalink

A Lesson For Bruce Rauner

Andy Velez got it right.

In the spring of 2005, I was the junior varsity baseball coach at Kelvyn Park High School. I used to live a few blocks west of the school and passed by it many times. Aside from thinking it was a typical, fortress-like building housing an urban high school, I never gave the school much thought.

Andy was a sophomore. He played left field. Couldn't hit much but he could go after a fly ball with dexterity, and as my leadoff man, he walked frequently and could steal a base. He also lived right across the street from the school in the 4500 block of West Wrightwood. If Andy was late to a game or practice, which was infrequently, I could always knock on his front door to jump start him.

Andy also was a bright kid. In a school which "did not meet federal education standards," according to the 2013 CPS report card, Andy ranked third in his class and talked about going to college.

More than 88 percent of today's 1,000 Kelvyn Park students are Latino, and almost 93 percent come from low-income families.

Without any preconceived notions other than playing a ballgame, we traveled one spring day to Walter Payton College Prep on North Wells Street. The bus driver dropped us off in front of Payton, and we had to walk through the campus of the then five-year-old school to reach the baseball diamond.

Walking next to Andy, he gazed up at the state-of-the-art building and observed, "They'd never build anything like this for us."

"You're a good student," I answered. "Why wouldn't you apply here to see if you could get in?"

"What?" he said. "And leave all my friends and my neighborhood?"

I've been thinking about that spring afternoon this week after reading about gubernatorial hopeful Bruce Rauner pulling strings so that his daughter could attend Payton, whose students today have the highest standardized test scores of any school in Illinois.

If my left fielder had decided to pursue admittance to Payton, it's laughable to think what kind of reception his mother would have received if she had called Arne Duncan in hopes of getting Andy on the principal's list for admission.

While the Rauner family foundation wound up gifting $250,000 to the school, Andy's mom would have had only her son to offer to the school, a priceless gift for sure, but not one that gets kids into an elite school.

Furthermore, apparently Rauner's daughter lived in Winnetka, and she could have gone to New Trier, a school that does meet federal education standards. And then some. For many, many years. Was it not good enough for the venture capitalist's kid?

Getting back to Andy Velez and his teammates, they were a unique bunch. Individually, I enjoyed my relationships with most of the 12 or 14 kids on my team. I liked these guys.
However, as a group, I had no control. The bus rides to and from road games were torture for me. Flashing gang signs to other teens on the streets of Chicago was common practice. Mooning unsuspecting motorists on the Dan Ryan was great fun for them. Challenging pedestrians to a fight - usually when the bus was moving - happened on every trip.

Funny thing, though. On the return trip home, once we crossed Pulaski, they all sat quietly like choirboys.

Prior to each bus ride, I attempted to lay down ground rules. My spiel went something like this: "I really need you guys to behave yourselves today. There are 12 of you and only one of me. I'm asking you for your cooperation so that you don't embarrass yourselves, your families, your school, and your coach. You think you can do that?"

"Sure, Coach," they assured me. Five minutes into our journey they reneged.

"Aww, Coach, you did the same things when you were a kid," they'd tell me.

"Actually, I didn't," I'd respond. "I couldn't even think of doing some of the stuff you guys do."

So why didn't I kick the perpetrators off the team? For one, we wouldn't have had enough players to continue the season. Aside from maybe two or three kids, the remainder joined in with what they interpreted as a really good time.

In addition, I figured that these 15- to 17-year-olds were better off playing baseball with me as their coach for a couple of months than they would have been that spring on the streets during their free time. If that's a cop-out, so be it.

The Rauner story churned up these memories of kids who clearly had/have no chance of a school such as Payton becoming part of their neighborhood. "The gubernatorial hopeful has said little about his daughter's admission to Payton, dismissing it as 'stuff that doesn't matter,'" according to the Sun-Times.

In my view, this "stuff" matters a lot. It matters for kids like Andy Velez who might have experienced success at a place like Payton rather than feeling alienated from a school like Payton. It matters because a child of privilege - living outside the city - assumed a spot in an elite school that could have been awarded to another youngster for whom the opportunity could have been life-changing.

It matters because public policy tends to pour money and resources into elite schools while slapping negative labels on places like Kelvyn Park. The city has committed $17 million to enlarge Payton Prep to accommodate 400 additional students. Meanwhile, the Kelvyn Parks of the world have shrinking enrollment, narrowed curriculum in an attempt to raise test scores, and staff cutbacks.

It matters because young Rauner's chances of a fulfilling and healthy life required little enhancement.

The last I heard of Andy Velez his mother was contemplating a move to Orlando to get away from gang activity in his neighborhood. He's in his mid-20s now, and I like to think that he went to college and has become a healthy citizen contributing to his family and community.

I also suspect that some of his teammates haven't been as fortunate either by poor choices and/or circumstances out of their control. They matter as well.

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Roger Wallenstein authors our White Sox Report and last winter wrote a four-part series about Oasis Elementary in Thermal, California.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:16 AM | Permalink

January 14, 2014

EFF To DOJ In Lawsuit: Stop Pretending Information Revealed About NSA Over Last Seven Months Is Still A Secret

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) asked a federal court on Friday to order the Department of Justice (DOJ) to release more thorough information about the dragnet electronic surveillance being conducted by the National Security Agency (NSA). The filing in EFF's long-standing case, Jewel v. NSA, also argues that the DOJ must stop pretending that information revealed and publicly acknowledged about government surveillance over the last seven months is still secret.

"The government has now publicly admitted much about its mass spying, but its filings before the court still try to claim broad secrecy about some of those same admissions," EFF Legal Director Cindy Cohn said. "It's long past time for the Department of Justice to stop using overblown secrecy claims to try to prevent an open, adversarial court from deciding whether the NSA's spying is constitutional."

Since the Jewel case was first filed in 2008, the government has used claims of state secrets to fight court review. Last year, documents revealed by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden confirmed many of the case's allegations. As a result of the Snowden disclosures, Judge Jeffrey White of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California ordered the government to review all of its filings and release everything that was no longer secret. The court also ordered the government to explain the effects of the disclosures on the case.

The DOJ filed its response on December 20, releasing eight, still-heavily redacted, declarations. The government also submitted new declarations, but those declarations largely ignored, and failed to explain the impact of, the flood of new information concerning the NSA's surveillance operations revealed through the press, congressional hearings, or the administration's website icontherecord.tumblr.com.

In our response, EFF argues that the DOJ did not comply with the judge's order and that the agency's submissions fell far short of an accurate and comprehensive presentation of the facts - especially with regard to the "upstream" program where the NSA accesses communications as they flow across the Internet backbone, the participation of AT&T in NSA surveillance, and the lack of demonstrated effectiveness of the bulk collection programs.

"The court ordered the government to review for release all previously secret filings in this case, yet there are still secret documents in the record," EFF staff attorney Mark Rumold said. "We at least deserve an explanation for why we can't have access to those documents. Our plaintiffs, as well as the general public, have a right to know what the government has been telling the court in secret."

The filing.

The accompanying declaration.

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Previously:
* Judge On NSA Case Cites 9/11 Report, But It Doesn't Actually Support His Ruling.

* Edward Snowden's Christmas Message.

* Jon Stewart: Obama Totally Lying About NSA Spying.

* Presidential Panel To NSA: Stop Undermining Encryption.

* The NSA Is Coming To Town.

* 60 Minutes We Can't Get Back.

* Why Care About The NSA?

* NSA Surveillance Drives Writers To Self-Censor.

* Filed: 22 Firsthand Accounts Of How NSA Surveillance Chilled The Right To Association.

* Claim On 'Attacks Thwarted' By NSA Spreads Despite Lack Of Evidence.

* Obama Vs. The World.

* How A Telecom Helped The Government Spy On Me.

* UN Member States Asked To End Unchecked Surveillance.

* Government Standards Agency: Don't Follow Our Encryption Guidelines Because NSA.

* Five More Organizations Join Lawsuit Against NSA.

* A Scandal Of Historic Proportions.

* Item: NSA Briefing.

* The Case Of The Missing NSA Blog Post.

* The NSA Is Out Of Control.

* Patriot Act Author Joins Lawsuit Against NSA.

* Obama's Promises Disappear From Web.

* Why NSA Snooping Is A Bigger Deal In Germany.

* Item: Today's NSA Briefing.

* NSA Briefing: It Just Got Worse (Again).

* Song of the Moment: Party at the NSA.

* It Not Only Can Happen Here, It Is Happening Here.

* What NSA Transparency Looks Like.

* America's Lying About Spying: Worse Than You Think.

* Obama Continues To Lie His Ass Off About The NSA.

* The Surveillance Reforms Obama Supported Before He Was President.

* America's Spying: Worse Than You Think.

* Has The U.S. Government Lied About Its Snooping? Let's Go To The Videotape.

* Who Are We At War With? That's Classified.

* Six Ways Congress May Reform NSA Snooping.

* NSA Says It Can't Search Its Own E-Mails.

* Does The NSA Tap That?

* Obama Explains The Difference Between His Spying And Bush's Spying.

* FAQ: What You Need To Know About The NSA's Surveillance Programs.

* NSA: Responding To This FOIA Would Help "Our Adversaries".

* Fact-Check: The NSA And 9/11.

* The NSA's Black Hole: 5 Things We Still Don't Know About The Agency's Snooping.

* Defenders Of NSA Surveillance Citing Chicago Case Omit Most Of Mumbai Plotter's Story.

* Obama's War On Truth And Transparency.

* ProPublica's Guide To The Best Stories On The Growing Surveillance State.

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See also:
* Jimmy Carter: America's Shameful Human Rights Record.

* James Goodale: Only Nixon Harmed A Free Press More.

* Daniel Ellsberg: Obama Has Committed Impeachable Offenses.

* Paul Steiger: Why Reporters In The U.S. Now Need Protection.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 1:57 PM | Permalink

The [Tuesday] Papers

Bruce Rauner is making my life complicated right now. This is the wrong week to go nuclear while imploding even as compliant TV "news" personalities aid and abet your counterattack on the well-reported facts!

So more on Rauner & Co. to come, but let me get out some other stuff first.

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For example, this:

"Last week's bitter cold canceled the same two days of school for students across the Chicago area. But when those days will be made up will vary, as some school districts move away from tacking on days in June," the Tribune reports.

The Beachwood has obtained proposals CPS is considering to make up days lost to the cold as well as other weather-related adjustments:

  • Closing schools that are consistently underheated. The fact that almost all of these schools predominantly serve African Americans is in no way racist.
  • Kids' performance at lunch will now be evaluated via standardized testing. To make up for lost testing during cold days.
  • Fixing Rahm's Skype. So he can close schools due to weather from anywhere in the world.
  • Summer school for everyone. In buildings without air conditioning only, because by CPS logic, that evens out teaching in underheated buildings during winter and delivers an average annual classroom temperature that looks good to the outside world

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And then, this:

"The billionaire creator of Beanie Babies, Ty Warner, could face up to five years in prison when he is sentenced in Chicago federal court on Tuesday on his guilty plea for tax evasion," Reuters reports.

TY: I understand you're a man who knows how to get things.

RED: I'm known to locate certain things from time to time. They seem to fall into my hands. Maybe it's 'cause I'm Irish.

TY: I wonder if you could get me some pellets.

RED: What are they and why?

TY: You make your customers' motives a part of your business?

RED: If you wanted a toothbrush, I wouldn't ask questions. I'd just quote a price. A toothbrush, see, is a non-lethal sort of object.

TY: Fair enough. Pellets, or "beans," provide a more flexible feel than conventional stuffing.

Red beats Ty's ass.

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Finally, for now:

"Telling him he had 'pulled off the corruption trifecta,' a federal judge Monday sentenced disgraced former Chicago Ald. Ambrosio Medrano to 2 1/2 years in prison on top of the 10 1/2-year term he received last week for a separate bribery conviction," the Tribune reports.

"The sentence handed down by U.S. District Judge John Tharp means that Medrano faces a combined 13 years behind bars, making it one of the longest prison terms ever for a defendant convicted in a public corruption case in Illinois."

AMBROSIO: I understand you're a man who knows how to get things . . .

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Rage Against The E Street Band
Plus: Shut Up, Studs Terkel! In Local Music Notebook.

Meet Ke$ha's New Home
About Timberline Knolls in Lemont - including its very Chicago history.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: TiK ToK.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:28 AM | Permalink

Meet Timberline Knolls

Ke$ha has now been joined in rehab by her moms at Timberline Knolls, forever giving the treatment center in Lemont a boost in its Google search rankings.

Timberline Knolls is serious business, though. Let's take a look.

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"Timberline Knolls - one of the leading residential treatment centers in the U.S. - helps women struggling with:

  • Eating disorders
  • Alcoholism
  • Co-occurring disorders
  • Drug addiction
  • Mood disorders
  • Trauma & PTSD


See also: The Timberline Knolls YouTube channel.

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Testimonials.

Timberline Knolls Saved My Life.

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Timberline Knolls (Depression, Anxiety, Self-Harm, Anorexia and Substance Abuse.)

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Demi Lovato Timberline Knolls Speech: This Place Will Change Your Life.

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History.

"A 112-bed residential treatment center for young women is slated to open on the site of a long-shuttered psychiatric hospital in Lemont," the Daily Southtown reported in 2005 in "New Facility Targets Young Women With Drug Addiction, Eating Disorders, Depression."

"Timberline Knolls will occupy the 43 acres where the Rock Creek Center operated before closing in 2002 amid financial problems and allegations of fraud."

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"Early next year, troubled teenage girls, most likely from wealthy families, will populate the ghost-town estate of early Lemont settler and land speculator Nathaniel Brown," the Daily Southtown also reported in 2005, stating in "Affluent And Afflicted" that "Timberline Knolls expects to treat girls from the 'top 5 percent' of the socioeconomic ladder."

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"Two men linked by federal prosecutors to one of the most notorious health care scams in recent local history are back in business as part owners and directors of a treatment center with a new client base: teenage girls and women suffering from eating disorders and other serious emotional problems," the Tribune reported in 2010.

"Prosecutors said in court filings that the influential business partners, psychiatrist Jay Reibel and Washington attorney Roger Barth, approved bribes, fueling a massive patient-brokering scheme that harmed vulnerable and disabled nursing home residents and reportedly cost Medicare millions of dollars. There were four convictions in the case, although Reibel and Barth were not charged with any crime and strongly deny wrongdoing.

"Four years after their psychiatric hospital, Rock Creek, closed amid scandal in 2002, Barth and Reibel refurbished the same wooded Lemont property and reopened as Timberline Knolls, a $995-a-day treatment facility for troubled girls and women from across the country.

"The new center has been credited with saving lives but has faced a handful of patient complaints to the Illinois state attorney general about its medical and financial practices. The facility also posted treatment success claims that medical experts called misleading - but withdrew those claims from its Web site after the Tribune raised questions. Timberline Knolls eventually provided figures showing that it shares the significant failure rate typical of these types of facilities."

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"Two men linked by federal prosecutors to a large-scale health care scam have resigned as directors of a Lemont mental health center following a Tribune article that detailed government allegations against them," the paper reported two days later.

"In a three-page letter announcing their resignations from the Timberline Knolls center for women with eating disorders and other serious emotional problems, the men strongly denied prosecutors' court assertions that they once had approved bribes to fuel a massive patient-brokering scheme at a psychiatric hospital they ran."

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:09 AM | Permalink

Local Music Notebook: Shut Up, Studs!

This 1963 Studs Terkel interview of Bob Dylan has bounced around social media the last couple of months with rave reviews. Being a huge Dylan fan, I was eager to listen, but I never made it past the first few minutes because I became so frustrated with Terkel interrupting Dylan, jumping around in his questions instead of maintaining a consistent narrative, and putting words in Dylan's mouth.

Is it just me?

"If you're a fan of Dylan's early work, I implore you to spend an hour with this stellar interview that he did with Studs Terkel from the spring of 1963," Jason Shafer writes at Dangerous Minds. "You won't regret it. It's a very cool piece of history in my humble opinion."

Not so sure about that.

The original source, besides the original show, appears to be NPR - from 2011.

It was a picked up by Open Culture more than a year ago and then by Dangerous Minds in November (which sourced it to a YouTube version).

From Open Culture:

"In the spring of 1963 Studs Terkel introduced Chicago radio listeners to an up-and-coming musician, not yet 22 years old, 'a young folk poet who you might say looks like Huckleberry Finn, if he lived in the 20th century. His name is Bob Dylan.

"Dylan had just finished recording the songs for his second album, The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan, when he traveled from New York to Chicago to play a gig at a little place partly owned by his manager, Albert Grossman, called The Bear Club.

"The next day he went to the WFMT studios for the hour-long appearance on The Studs Terkel Program. Most sources give the date of the interview as April 26, 1963, though Dylan scholar Michael Krogsgaard has given it as May 3."

Here it is.

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The Ghost Of Tom Morello
Libertyville-raised Tom Morello, best known for his work as a guitar god in Rage Against The Machine and for his solo Nightwatchman project, is an awfully unlikely selection as the newest (de facto) member of the E Street Band, but there you have it.

From Springsteen in Rolling Stone:

I was on the road and, just to amuse myself, I'll have a computer filled with a lot of this music. Very often, if I have nothing to do late at night, I'll bring it up and look at different bodies of music I have to be worked on. I guess if there was a common thread in this music it would be that most of it had been recorded over the past 10 years and it had, for one reason or another, not gotten on The Rising or Magic or Working on a Dream.

I had music that was relatively current by my lights and had a similar sound-picture. They were modern recordings of the E Street band, which I credit to Brendan O'Brien as being the initiator of the modern sound of the E Street band on record. He was the guy that, when we went to do The Rising, I went down and cut two or three songs, came into the studio and immediately heard the band in a very fresh and different way. He kickstarted our recording career into another gear back in 2002, when we did The Rising. This is all stuff that's post-that event, post-his influence.

There was this certain common currency to its sound picture. I was interested in putting this material together in some form because, orally, it sounded like it fit together. So I had that music, and Tom came in and what he did was, he took that music and sort of jolted it into the now. He brings a complete sound picture with him. He's one of the few, few guitarists that creates a world by himself. It's like, "Whoa." Edge does it. Obviously, Pete Townshend, Jimi Hendrix, the great guitarists. Different guys for different bands. Johnny Marr, the Smiths, had that ability.

It's funny. When Tom Morello's up there, the E Street Band is a pretty big house. But he builds on another room. He builds on a room that hadn't existed before. With that idea in mind - that I had another architect - I re-looked at the music that I had and said, "Let me run this one through Tom." So that's what I started to do. His influence is very noticeable on maybe half the [tracks].

Tom's a very intellectually-inspiring guy. He has a lot of ideas. He's very articulate about them, and very casual as we worked together. He has so much creativity. I'd just send him a track and he'd send me back four or five things that were just terrific. He was another way that I unified this particular group of material. He became a filter that I ran all of that music through, and he would send it back to me with a very current slant on it. I'm not sure if the record would exactly exist without his influence. He really allowed me to tie it all together, in a way that I've been looking for that I hadn't found. He just really brought that stuff to life.

See also: Tom Morello: 'Bruce Springsteen Concerts Are Orthopedically Exhausting.'

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Reviews not so good.
* Kot: Springsteen Smothers High Hopes.
* Guarino: Bruce Springsteen Covers Old Ground.

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Lawrence Arms To Hold You
From their first album in eight years, dropping January 18 on Epitaph.

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By Steve Rhodes. Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:11 AM | Permalink

January 13, 2014

The [Monday] Papers

"After pulling strings to get his daughter into Walter Payton College Prep, Bruce Rauner, a Republican candidate for governor, became one of the elite Chicago public high school's biggest benefactors," the Sun-Times reports.

"The Rauner Family Foundation gave $250,000 to the Payton Prep Initiative for Education on Dec. 14, 2009 - about a year and a half after Rauner called then-Chicago Public Schools CEO Arne Duncan to overturn his daughter's rejection for admission, records examined by the Chicago Sun-Times reveal."

A minimum-wage worker would have to log 30,303 hours to earn that much.

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"Rauner's gift was the largest the not-for-profit foundation had received up to that point. It amounts to nearly 30 percent of all the money the group has gotten during its first five years, according to records the Rauner and Payton charities have filed with the state."

I'm betting his daughter didn't even have to show up to graduate with honors after that bequest.

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"Rauner, a venture capitalist, called Chicago school officials in early 2008. Within days, his daughter was admitted to Payton for the 2008-09 academic year by the school's principal, according to a source familiar with the matter."

Specifically, Rauner called Arne Duncan, who is now the U.S. Secretary of Education.

"According to multiple sources at Chicago Public Schools, Mr. Rauner in 2008 picked up the phone and called Mr. Duncan on behalf of his daughter, who was trying to get into Payton," Greg Hinz reported for Crain's last April.

There only was one problem, the sources say: Her test scores, academic record and other factors weren't good enough to get her into Payton.

According to a report by CPS Inspector General James Sullivan that has not been released to the public, the younger Ms. Rauner had good scores, very good scores. But not quite good enough. Her application was denied. So dad called Mr. Duncan, a Duncan aide called the Payton principal and she was admitted, graduating last June. She's now a college freshman.

That, more than his minimum-wage flipperoo, should disqualify Rauner from ever holding public office.

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"A spokesman for Mr. Duncan says he 'doesn't recall' any such conversation," Hinz reported.

Right. That time Bruce Rauner - who has donated megabucks to Democrats as well as Republicans - called to clout his kid into Payton? Slips my mind.

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"The Rauner campaign wraps itself in family and tries to blow the whole thing off. It says in a statement:

"While the Rauners expected to be attacked throughout this process, they are not going to allow their children to be used as a political football and will protect their children's privacy - in fact, their children's pictures aren't even on the website. They won't be bullied or intimidated by the insiders' scare tactics. The kids are off limits on this issue and in the future."

Fine. We won't ask the daughter to comment. But you, Bruce, get no such leeway.

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Back to the Sun-Times:

"The gubernatorial hopeful has said little about his daughter's admission to Payton, dismissing it as 'stuff that doesn't matter.'"

If it doesn't matter, what's the harm in answering questions about it?

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"On Saturday, Rauner's aides declined to elaborate on specific questions about his daughter's admission to Payton. Two weeks ago, Rauner's campaign spokesman Mike Schrimpf said Rauner's daughter 'was admitted off the principal's list, the same way many students have been admitted.'"

Yes, the students of other clouty insiders whom Rauner is pretending to run against.

Case - and campaign - closed.

Ghost Data
"The wrongdoing laid out in the latest report from the inspector general for Chicago Public Schools includes cases of school administrators faking data, a problem the district watchdog said has been a particularly troubling development in recent years," the Tribune reports.

"We do have a concern about CPS data as evidenced by the cases we had this year," said Jim Sullivan, who's been the district's inspector general for nearly 11 years. "The system has incentivized how performance is evaluated based on data, and much of that data is created and can be manipulated at the school level."

There's an old business bromide that says "what gets managed gets measured, and what gets measured gets managed." In Chicago, what gets managed gets measured, so what gets measured gets manipulated.

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"Sullivan's latest annual report, issued earlier this month, revealed that a high school principal and her programmer created 'ghost students' to pad enrollment so the school would be eligible for an assistant principal and additional non-teaching staff."

So add ghost students to ghost payrollers, ghost candidates and ghost voters.

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Maybe those ghost students went to ghost schools.

Hysterical News Vortex Grips U.S.
Lou Malnati's as a weapon.

SportsMonday: Anti-Tanking 101
Even if tanking was acceptable, it almost never works.

A Mind Of Winter
Ceramic images of Mary and Joseph calling dibs.

The Weekend In Chicago Rock
Featuring:

Our Likely Escape, Deep Fayed, Railroad Earth, Bric-a-Brac, whysowhite, and Patrick Harman & the Last Chances.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Both bric and brac.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 11:11 AM | Permalink

SportsMonday: Anti-Tanking 101

Why is it so hard for so many professional commentators to understand that tanking is the death of sports? Does it have something to do with the fact that they don't buy tickets?

Since Derrick Rose was injured, many seemingly intelligent voices have called for the Bulls to lose on purpose - i.e., to tank - to gain entry into the draft lottery of non-playoff teams and secure a high pick later this year. And, true, the 2014 collegiate and international talent disbursal projects as top-heavy with serious prospects like local guy Jabari Parker (Duke preceded by Simeon) and Andrew Wiggins (Kansas) as top attractions.

But fans who buy tickets do so with certain fundamental assumptions. Primary among them is that the team they are paying to see will try its hardest to win. It isn't exactly complicated and yet people continue to advocate that the Bulls blithely violate that trust.

This column is the introduction to Anti-tanking 101, by the way. We will be running through the basics. A more nuanced take on the issue, Competitive Fire 202, will be offered next semester.

Even more observers hopped on the "lose on purpose" bandwagon when Luol Deng was traded. In fact, there is a belief that Bulls management signaled its plans to tank when it moved Deng for draft picks and financial relief. That was not the case.

Deng's contract, one that has paid him $71 million the past six years, will end at the end of this season. Let's pause here for a moment and note that hopefully thinking fans don't believe that the Bulls did anything wrong when they made a "take it or leave it" $30 million contract extension offer to Deng shortly before he was traded.

The Bulls forward had an opportunity to accept that deal, and if he had it would have had the Bulls had paying him more than $100 million during his career. In other words, he was not mistreated in any way shape or form.

Well, he was mistreated at the end of last season, when the Bulls botched his post spinal-tap treatment. Deng suffered complications after a shoddily performed test to see if he had viral meningitis, complications that he has described as "life-threatening." But team president John Paxson apologized for that mistreatment right after the trade.

Otherwise, it was been a very fortunate run in Chicago for the forward from South Sudan by way of Egypt, London and Duke.

So the Bulls moved Deng and received picks of dubious value in return. They also received center Andrew Bynum, but due to Bynum's unique contract (in that it was guaranteed for only the first half of the season), the Bulls were able to then cut him and move out of luxury tax land (where teams with payrolls above the salary cap reside and pay penalties to the league).

The Bulls now have Portland's second-round picks in 2015 and 2016 and may receive a Sacramento first-round pick at some point in the next three years. The funniest part of this deal is the Bulls now become big Kings fans. The draft pick they received is top-12 protected this year and top-10 protected the next two years. If the Kings don't get out of the bottom 10 in the league in 2015 or '16 (they almost certainly aren't getting out of the bottom 12 this season), the Bulls get a Kings second-round pick instead.

The Bulls have promised that the money they saved will be plowed back into the team in the next few years. We'll see. First and foremost, the Bulls better use plenty of it to amnesty Carlos Boozer the day after the current season comes to an end. The current collective bargaining agreement in the NBA allows teams a one-time ability to take one player's salary off the salary cap books, though the team still has to pay the player.

I have long been skeptical that Bulls chairman Jerry Reinsdorf would agree to pay Boozer for not playing for the Bulls no matter how many times (at least three per game) Boozer blows defensive rotations and allows opposing teams free access to the basket. The forward's contract has one year left after this season at a cost of more than $16 million. But maybe the money saved with the Deng deal makes that move more palatable for ownership. And if they amnesty Boozer, the Bulls will have a lot of room under the cap to sign free agents in the coming offseason.

The other fundamental fact is that even if tanking was acceptable, it almost never works. Prospects are tricky business (just ask the Cubs). In basketball, most high picks become serviceable players. Very, very few become difference-makers on championship contenders. If having high picks - even in loaded drafts - was a sure-fire path to success, teams like the Kings and the Bobcats would have moved up into perennial playoff status years ago.

The beautiful thing in Chicago is that if there isn't a professional coach on the planet less likely to tank than Tom Thibodeau. If the Bulls are planning on tanking, they'll have to fire the coach first. And then they'll have to trade Joakim Noah, and then still, in the terrible Eastern Conference, the Bulls might not be able to lose their way out of the top eight.

In other words, tanking isn't happening (oh, and the Bulls have also won five in a row to move into the fifth spot in the conference). So people, why not enjoy another year of indomitable Bulls like Noah and Taj Gibson and Jimmy Butler fighting for every last scrap of success? They will be in the playoffs and they will have a chance to win at least one series, just like last year.

That's a hell of a lot better than rooting for a lottery pick.

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

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:54 AM | Permalink

Chicagoetry: A Mind Of Winter

A Mind of Winter

It was written, once,
in America, that

"one must have a mind

of winter...
and have been cold
a long time...
not to think

of any misery"
in the sound

of the frozen land,
the snow-encrusted black boughs,

expressways laced with black ice,
fire-breathing railroad switches,

ceramic images
of Mary and Joseph
calling dibs
on a shoveled-out

parking space.
Indeed!

Misery? Seriously?

Any more so
than any other season?
We have four.
One needs four-

one for each wind-

four each year
to develop
a full, dynamic
personhood, yes?

Adaptive, resourceful,
experienced, enduring;

no particular misery
in the back yard ice-rink,
the slow-cooked gumbo,
the hot apple-cinnamon cider,

the hand-knit scarf,
the TV crime-drama binge.

Piece of cake.

A mind of winter,
a heart of spring,
a soul of summer
and the sweet grieving brow

of early autumn.
Nothing particularly miserable,
nor miserly,
to winter

if you have
a mind of it.

Autumn, really,
should take the rap.
October
is the cruelest month:

the winds cool,
the leaves die

in a final eruption of color,
a last explosion of grace

before the white clouds
of winter's cold heaven descend.

Heaven! It's nothing!
Nothing insurmountable, nothing

we can't skate through.
I can almost hear

the tulips
begin to bloom.

Piece of cake.

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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

* The Viral Video: The Match Game Dance

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:58 AM | Permalink

Hysterical News Vortex Grips U.S.!

Using Lou Malnati's as a weapon.


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See also: Snowy Conditions Proving Hazardous For Nation's Idiots.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:45 AM | Permalink

The Weekend In Chicago Rock

You shoulda been there.

1. Our Likely Escape at Bottom Lounge on Friday night.


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2. Deep Fayed at the Double Door on Saturday night.

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3. Railroad Earth at the Vic on Saturday night.

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4. Bric-a-Brac at Schubas on Thursday night.

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5. whysowhite at the Double Door on Saturday night.

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6. Patrick Harman & the Last Chances at the Double Door on Saturday night.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:01 AM | Permalink

January 11, 2014

The Weekend Desk Report

Yeah, our fiscal policy keeps getting overshadowed by our private life too.

Market Update
Returns on Revenge have soured.

Weekend Desk New Year's Anagrams
Welcome to 2014, the year in which we attempt to unravel the hidden meaning of today's top news stories. Let's see what the subliminal press has been reporting this week.

1. RAHM'S INDONESIAN GLOW = O, HARMS SNOWING DENIAL

2. OTHER MEMBER NOT ON DIVVY = MOVED ON NOVEMBER THIRTY

3. OH TOO FEW SPEED CAMERA TICKETS = WE COOKED THE ESTIMATES FOR CRAP

4. NOW THE THAW STARTS = WOW THAT'S THE RATS

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The Weekend Desk Tip Line: Anagrammatic.

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The Sound Opinions Weekend Listening Report: "The guitar duo Rodrigo y Gabriela record a special acoustic set at the Goose Island Barrelhouse. And then Greg drops the first coin of 2014 into the Desert Island Jukebox."

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The Flying Saucer Weekend Brunch Report: Back in black.

saucer jan2014.jpg

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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.

We Are Noble Sports Show

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Catch recent high school girls basketball match-ups with local teams and meet the people behind them, including one-on-one interviews with coaches and players.

Saturday at 1 p.m. on CAN TV19.

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Facing Our Water Crisis II

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Citizens Act to Protect Our Water (CAPOW!) brings together development and environmental experts to illustrate potential threats to the cleanliness of groundwater, including fracking, nuclear energy and pollution.

Saturday at 8:30 p.m. on CAN TV21.

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A Review Of The Affordable Care Act

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Brian Gorman (Illinois Health Insurance Marketplace), Ron Pollack (Families USA) and Harold Pollack (University of Chicago) look ahead to the state of health care in the U.S. in 2014 and over the next five years.

Sunday at 9 a.m. on CAN TV21.

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Illinois Health Care Options

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Political, labor and industry leaders provide insight into the state of health care in Illinois in 2014 and over the next five years.

Sunday at 11 a.m. on CAN TV21.

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Dispatches from the Latina/o Theatre Commons

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This roundtable brings together theater experts, writers and producers to share ideas and outcomes from a recent 2013 national convening of Latina/o artists and scholars in Boston.

Sunday at 1 p.m. on CAN TV21.


Posted by Natasha Julius at 8:09 AM | Permalink

January 10, 2014

The [Friday] Papers

"Three days after the snow stopped piling up on Chicago streets, complaints about side-street snow removal - or the lack of it - were going in the opposite direction," Fran Spielman reports for the Sun-Times.

"Some aldermen accused Mayor Rahm Emanuel's administration of falling down on the job in a city where the politics of snow removal reached legendary proportions after the Blizzard of '79 buried then-Mayor Michael Bilandic.

"'The side streets are a problem. We've got to improve on the side streets,' Zoning Committee Chairman Danny Solis (25th), a mayoral ally, told the Chicago Sun-Times this week.

Another alderman, who asked to remain anonymous, called the condition of side streets "horrible" and said Emanuel "needs to beef it up or it could get ugly."

Asked to remain anonymous because they fear reprisals? Or perhaps they are already being reprised against.

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The outstanding questions to me are these:

1. Was the city slow off the mark in any way because the mayor didn't come home from his Indonesian vacation early to ride herd on a historic weather event?

2. Was the clearing of side streets delayed because city crews focused first on school parking lots and streets near schools due to the mayor's insistence through Sunday that CPS would be open on Monday?

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Perhaps Plow Tracker data could actually be put to good use here with a hardcore analysis of where crews were working.

Non-Trial Of The Century?
From the Papers in September:

"A nephew of former Mayor Richard M. Daley will stand trial Feb. 18 for involuntary manslaughter in the death of David Koschman," the Sun-Times reports.

Will he? That's certainly the trial date given to Richard Vanecko, but isn't there a good chance he never sees in the inside of a courtroom? My guess is that he pleads out.

I went to explain why.

Now comes Mark Brown to finally raise the possibility for the Sun-Times, though his column is basically a shallow ramble.

Vanecko just doesn't seem to have enough of a defense. And even if Vanecko hangs a jury, Dan Webb will surely try the case a second time.

Vanecko is much more likely in my view to cut a deal while pretending to "spare" the Koschman family further pain, his friends a public shaming, and his family further embarrassment.

Can he avoid prison time? He'd have a better chance if he and his friends hadn't engaged in a cover-up. The clout-friendly Webb could try to get creative in fashioning a deal without hard time; then it would be up to the judge to approve.

The ABC$ Of UNO
How did UNO get so clouty and corrupt? They had Democrats Rahm Emanuel, Michael Madigan and Ed Burke at their side.

Chicago magazine and the Better Government Association have the details in their new investigation. I take a look and add value.

Blurred Poverty Lines
"In 1964, even a minimum wage job was enough to keep a family of two adults and one child above the poverty line, ensuring they would have the basic necessities of life," Sid Mohn, president of the Chicago-based Heartland Alliance, writes at Huffington Post.

"All in all, in 1964, if you had a job, you could provide for your family. Not so in 2014. Today, nearly 60 percent of families (often minorities) who receive food stamps are working. Many of them work for minimum wage - just $7.29 an hour, or $279 a week before taxes for a full-time worker."

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See also: The Poverty Line Was Designed Assuming Every Family Had a Housewife Who Was a 'Skillful Cook.'

Governor Burns
Pat Quinn this week compared the Republican candidates for governor to Montgomery Burns, but his administration has been a major disappointment to the social services sector, which has endured life-threatening cuts time and time again even while the governor continues to dole out tax breaks and taxpayer subsidies to wealthy corporations.

It's nice that he wants to raise the minimum wage, but unless it comes with a more comprehensive package of economic justice measures, it's hard to see his efforts in this area as anything more than cynical and disconnected posturing.

"A new forecast from the Governor's Office of Management and Budget (GOMB) shows massive revenue losses for Illinois over the next three years," Larry Joseph says in a statement from Voices for Illinois Children.

"Unless the General Assembly maintains stable revenue beyond the end of 2014, billions of dollars in cuts to public services will be inevitable.

"According to GOMB projections, revenue losses due to the scheduled decrease in income tax rates will lead to budget shortfalls of $1.9 billion in fiscal year 2015 (which begins in July 2014), $4.1 billion in FY 2016, and $4.6 billion in FY 2017. Closing gaps of this magnitude would require draconian cuts to programs and services that are essential for the well-being of children, families, and communities across Illinois.

"The state's investments in early childhood education, K-12 education, and higher education - which have eroded over the past five years - would be significantly undermined. Programs such as child care assistance, afterschool programs, child protection services, and a wide range of community-based services for families, people with disabilities, and seniors would be in serious jeopardy."

The Week In Chicago Rock
Featuring Meah!, Man Called Noon and Jay Z.

Beachwood Photo Booth: Snowy Bike
Chicago-style.

NFL Concussion Conclusion
Ex-Players Killing Themselves Because They Miss Football So Much.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Minimally mandatory.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:59 AM | Permalink

NFL Concludes Ex-Players Taking Their Own Lives Because They Miss Football So Much

A new study from the NFL's Head, Neck, and Spine committee finds that giving up the slam-bang action of football can lead to serious depression, violence, and suicide.


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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:22 AM | Permalink

The Week In Chicago Rock

You shoulda been there.

1. MEAH! at Schubas on Tuesday night.


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2. Man Called Noon at the Elbo Room on Wednesday night.

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3. Jay Z at the big hockey arena on Thursday night.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:39 AM | Permalink

The ABC$ Of UNO

How did UNO get so clouty and corrupt? They had Democrats Rahm Emanuel, Michael Madigan and Ed Burke at their side.

Chicago magazine and the Better Government Association have the details in their new investigation.

Among the major findings, as summarized by the BGA:

  • UNO has received more than $280 million in public money over the past five years but neither Chicago Public Schools nor the Illinois State Board of Education closely monitored how those funds were spent.
  • A good chunk of the public money UNO collects never touches the classroom. In 2012, for example, it received $49 million from local, state and federal sources. Of that amount, more than $5 million went to management fees, nearly $3.5 million to debt interest payments, nearly $1 million to consultants and $68,200 to promotional materials.
  • According to state law, charter school networks are supposed to conduct and videotape blind admissions lotteries. But two sources with direct knowledge of the process say UNO never held a "real" lottery and instead cherry-picked students based on where they live in order to build up coalitions in certain Latino neighborhoods.
  • UNO has co-developed at least five senior housing developments in and around Chicago, signaling its growing business prowess, and push to diversify its interests. As is the case with its schools, taxpayers helped foot the bill. UNO and its business partner have received loans, grants and housing tax credits worth $78 million from the governments of the State of Illinois, Cook County and City of Chicago.

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Don't forget: UNO impresario Juan Rangel was Rahm's campaign co-chairman. Rahm later appointed Rangel to the Public Building Commission. Then Rahm assigned that agency to handle construction projects related to school closings instead of CPS, which would normally handle the job.

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Meanwhile, Madigan and Burke. From Chicago:

In the summer of 2007, UNO embarked on its biggest project yet: the gut rehab of an abandoned industrial bakery near 47th and Pulaski - a campus that UNO would later name Veterans Memorial. Sure, says Rangel, the graffitied eyesore could have been improved on the cheap, with some new windows and a fresh coat of paint. But nothing quite spells success in Chicago like a multimillion-dollar feat of modern architecture.

UNO hired the Near North firm UrbanWorks, which designed a curtain wall of acoustically enhanced panes of glass to block out the noise from Midway Airport. "Why settle?" Rangel remembers thinking. "Why not do something that puts a mark on a community?" ("Juan is really just a frustrated architect," says one insider.) For Rangel, a major construction project was a twofer: It also brought the power to dole out tens of millions in contracts.

Halfway through construction, however, UNO began gasping for cash. Rangel reached out to some powerful political allies with a concentration of UNO schools in their districts. One was Illinois House speaker Michael Madigan, who had been working to tack facilities funding for charters onto the state budget. But the speaker was squabbling with Governor Rod Blagojevich, who in the summer of 2007 slashed a slew of Madigan-supported "add-ons" from the budget, including a $3.5 million grant that would have helped UNO.

Madigan later made it up to him.

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Back to Chicago:

It got worse. The credit markets were tightening. CPS, meanwhile, was no help. The school system was refusing to increase its per-pupil allotments, funding that UNO was counting on to help secure construction financing. The lead contractor, F.H. Paschen, threatened to pull its crews.

Desperate, Rangel tried political lifeline No. 2: Southwest Side alderman Ed Burke (whose daughter-in-law was later hired at UNO). In June 2008, Burke convened a team of bankers, LaSalle Street lawyers, and politicos, including his brother, Daniel, a state rep, and Daley's chief of staff, Lori Healey. The group helped UNO secure a $65 million low-interest loan from a consortium of banks led by Cole Taylor Bank and MB Financial Bank and quietly guaranteed by City Hall.

This being Chicago, few were surprised when Rangel subsequently threw his support behind Dan Burke in his hotly contested reelection race for the Illinois House in 2010. The fact that Burke's opponent was a Mexican American in a predominantly Hispanic district didn't stop Rangel. To critics, it was further proof that UNO's Latino-empowerment principles could be readily abandoned when self-interest was on the line.

The story was told earlier by the Tribune's Melissa Harris:

Within days, Burke summoned executives from three banks to City Hall. He put them in a conference room with Rangel, his two attorneys and three elected officials, all UNO allies, and told the bankers not to leave until Rangel got what he needed. The resulting $65 million loan, which closed in June 2008, saved UNO from ruin.

This being a tale of Chicago politics, the story doesn't end there. Less than two years later, Burke's brother, Illinois state Rep. Dan Burke, found himself in a tough re-election campaign against Mexican-American Rudy Lozano Jr. At Edward Burke's request, Rangel backed the Irish clan, lending his name to a mailer, introducing Dan Burke to voters and getting people to the polls.

"I went all out," Rangel, 46, said of his efforts on Burke's winning campaign. In a separate interview, he scoffed that there was a quid pro quo. "I'm not that simplistic about 'I'm going to go with the Mexican.' If you want to think about it in simple terms, I run charter schools, and Dan Burke is super supportive of charter schools. Rudy Lozano is against charter schools. So where should I be?"

When Lozano made another run at political office earlier this year, Rangel seized the opening. He knew Edward Burke was still steaming about Lozano's challenge to his brother. So Rangel asked Burke to support Silvana Tabares, a 33-year-old journalist and graduate of UNO's Metropolitan Leadership Institute, a training program for young Latino professionals.

With Burke and Rangel's support, Tabares won the February Democratic primary for an Illinois House seat by about 300 votes.

Lozano, too, came from a political family - a good one.

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Back to Chicago:

According to records, UNO's charter network also spent freely on things you rarely see on your neighborhood public school's budget, such as restaurant meals (about $48,000 in 2012) and educational trips to New York City, Orlando, and Beijing (about $59,000 in 2012). Asked about the Orlando expense, Rangel crowed about the glossy Disney corporate training center where he sent a portion of his staff - including janitors - to study customer service. The bill: $38,000 for the trip, and thousands more for Disney trainers to come to Chicago. "You go there, and the bus driver, the security guy, the ticket attendant - they are on. They call it 'onstage'! It's the Disney magic! Why don't schools function this way?"

Um, maybe because they are schools and not theme parks?

At any rate, that explains this (watch to the end for the fireworks):

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Quinn also implicated.

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And Daley.

"UNO Chief Executive Officer Juan Rangel doesn't see any conflict in tying a back-to-school rally to the Olympics," WBEZ reported in 2009. "He serves on a council that helps promote the Olympic bid and reaches out to the community."

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Back to Chicago:

And the other trips? Many underprivileged Latino students, Rangel says, have never been to the Loop, much less overseas. "The idea of a group of Mexican kids from the neighborhood going to China - I don't think any of those kids ever dreamed that."

Student trips notwithstanding, a good chunk of the public money flowing into UNO never saw a classroom. Take the $49 million that the charter network collected from local, state, and federal sources in 2012. Once you subtract the management fees ($5 million), the lengthy roster of consultants (nearly $1 million), the promotional materials ($68,200), and a host of other expenses that have little to do directly with kids and classrooms, you're left with $38.6 million. Then factor in about $3.5 million in interest payments on its roughly $70 million worth of debt. Suddenly a big charter school operation doesn't sound so streamlined after all.

And how.

"The United Neighborhood Organization celebrated the opening of its new $22 million charter school on the Northwest Side last September with a laser light show and fireworks display," Catalyst noted in July.

"The cost? More than $143,000, according to records obtained by the Chicago Sun-Times. Now, 10 contractors say UNO stiffed them out of more than $1.3 million they're owed for work they did for the school."

Neither Pat Quinn nor Michael Madigan or Ed Burke donned their hard hats and grabbed their shovels for a ceremony to explain that.

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Back to Chicago:

Behind the scarlet curtain, UNO's schools could be sloppy. Rangel rarely entered them. From 2008 until 2011, day-to-day operations fell to a strict Catholic nun, Sister Barbara McCarry, a veteran from the CPS office that vetted charters. To make up a budget gap from leaner times, UNO began stuffing more kids in classrooms (up to 30 in kindergarten and first grade, compared with the CPS average of 24) and levying "activity fees" on unsuspecting families.

Someone has to pay for the fireworks.

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Bonus anecdote! From The City Council Just Secretly Redrew Your Ward:

So @DriXander heard an Alderman today say someone from UNO got more time in the map room than they had to see their own ward. #remap

Basically UNO has been running a political machine operating as a shadow school district.

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Leading legislative fauxgressive Don Harmon - once voted the state's best legislator by Rich Miller and his Capitol Fax readers - also comes out pretty stinky.

"In 2009, state Sen. Don Harmon (D-Oak Park) was among the members of the General Assembly to vote to give the United Neighborhood Organization an unprecedented $98 million state grant to build charter schools in Chicago," the BGA reports.

But UNO wasn't the only group that ended up benefiting from the grant, which was part of a massive capital spending bill that provided money to infrastructure projects across the state.

Harmon's law firm did, too - collecting at least $35,000 for legal work it subsequently performed for UNO, according to copies of invoices and payment records obtained from the State of Illinois.

What's more, the Better Government Association found the firm, Burke Burns & Pinelli, had done legal work for UNO prior to Harmon's June 2009 vote.

This means Harmon not only voted on a measure ultimately benefiting his firm, he also voted on a measure benefiting a past (and continuing) client of his law firm.

That sounds about right.

"Is there even a shred of evidence that a legislator is under the thumb of a legislative leader because of campaign spending?" Harmon said in 2009, trying super-hard to maintain a straight face.

"I don't see it. I see members elected from competitive districts vote in the best interests of their district, which is often counter to the way the legislative leader votes."

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And then this:

"Back on February 13, state rep Kevin Joyce introduced a bill to expand the kinds of materials open to the public under the Illinois Freedom of Information Act," Ben Joravsky reports. "On April 3 that bill passed the house and was sent to the senate, where it sat in committee for weeks. Legislators tell me that during that time city lobbyists got in touch with their allies in the senate, and on May 18 Senator Don Harmon gutted the bill, removing the language about the FOIA and adding an amendment that extended the life of the four Chicago TIF districts: Madden/Wells, Roosevelt/Racine, Stony Island/Burnside, and Englewood Mall. None of these fall into Harmon's legislative district.

"Harmon - who didn't return calls for this story - is from Oak Park, whose TIF policies seem to be almost as nutty as Chicago's, hard as that is to believe. (Hardly a week goes by without some Oak Parker calling and asking me to write about one TIF debacle or another.)"

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Back to the BGA:

"A previous BGA investigation found that in 2012 Harmon supported gaming expansion legislation that included language Burke Burns helped craft on behalf of a client, the City of Des Plaines, where Rivers Casino is located.

"Gov. Pat Quinn ultimately vetoed the bill, which would've reduced the suburb's casino-related tax payments to the state by $120 million over 30 years.

"That same investigation also revealed that since Harmon joined Burke Burns as a partner in January 2005 the small Chicago law firm has secured at least $6.3 million in legal work from state agencies that receive funding and are overseen by the General Assembly. At the time, the firm said it had long-standing relationships with many state agencies and that Harmon had nothing to do with the contracts."

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"An UNO spokesman declined to comment. The law firm's president, Mary Patricia Burns, didn't return messages.

"What's known is that both Burke Burns and UNO have strong ties to Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan (D-Chicago).

"City of Chicago filings show Burke Burns was a lobbying client of Madigan's law firm in 2001 and 2002. And Burke Burns and its partners have contributed more than $287,000 since 1994 to political committees controlled by Madigan, according to Illinois State Board of Elections records.

"Harmon is linked to Madigan, too - Harmon served as the speaker's deputy legal counsel before becoming a state senator in 2003. Harmon has since risen to become one of the Senate's top Democrats, holding a leadership position called president pro tempore and chairing the General Assembly's influential Executive Committee."

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"Madigan spokesman Steve Brown says the speaker was unaware UNO had any involvement with the senior housing developments, and therefore it wasn't the reason the law firm won the business."

Just got lucky!

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Fallout:

"When Chicago public television's nightly news show tried to get folks to come in and talk about charter schools for a segment last night, there weren't any folks from the charter community who were willing to show up," Alexander Russo reports on his This Week In Education blog.

"That's strange. Usually it's not hard to round up people who want to be on TV. Perhaps it was just the cold weather.

"Or perhaps it was the fact that charters are particularly controversial in Chicago right now, despite being just 12 percent of kids in Chicago (#9 for choice in the nation according to the recent Brookings report) and having what some consider a very tight application process.

"The most obvious reason for the controversy surrounding charters in Chicago is the spectacular flameout of one of its biggest advocates - and beneficiaries - Juan Rangel. The latest issue of Chicago magazine chronicles his story, which makes for excruciating or exciting reading depending on your point of view on charters."

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See also:

"The United Neighborhood Organization, the city's largest Latino community group, is poised to become the biggest charter school manager in Illinois after scoring a $98 million state grant to build eight more schools," the Tribune reported in 2009.

"How UNO landed all that cash - believed to be the largest-ever taxpayer windfall in the U.S. for a community-run charter group to build schools -- at a time of massive government budget deficits is a classic Chicago story of awakening immigrant clout and lobbying muscle."

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Previously in the Beachwood:
* The [UNO] Papers.
* Pizzeria UNO vs. UNO Schools.
* UNO No-No (last item).
* UNO & Wall Street.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:47 AM | Permalink

Beachwood Photo Booth: Snow Bike

Chicago-style.

bluebikefendersnoworigvelvetrsz.jpg(ENLARGE FOR PROPER VIEWING)

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Purchase it on Etsy!

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Also for bike lovers!

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More Chicago photography from Helene Smith.

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Helene on Twitter!

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Meet Helene!

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Stationery, iPhone cases, hoodies.

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Previously:
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Man Grilling
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Yum Yum Donuts
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Father's Day
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Vintage Airmaster
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Time
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Window Shade
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Illinois Slayer
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Fire Escape
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Golden Nugget
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Hollywood, Chicago
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Flag Man.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Van In Flames.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Fluid Power Automation.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Corn Dog.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Stop The Killing Car.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Backyard.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: A to Z Things.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Swedish Diner.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Rothschild Liquors.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Silos.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Wires.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Orange Garden.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Irving Park Guy.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Pigeons.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: O'Lanagan's.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: For Rent.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Marie's Pizza & Liquors.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Mori Milk.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: American Breakfast.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: A Chicago Christmas Postcard.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Holiday Harold's.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Family Fun.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:02 AM | Permalink

January 9, 2014

The [Thursday] Papers

1. Macy's Shares Jump On Plan To Cut 2,500 Jobs.

Bruce Rauner must be a major stockholder.

2. Rauner Makes U-Turn On Minimum Wage: 'I Was Flippant.'

A) Flippant Rauner Flops Wage Test.
B) Flippant Rauner Flip-Flops.
C) Rauner Flippant, Then Flops.

Or just come up with your own.

3. Rodman Apologizes For Comments, Says He Was Drinking.

Or was he just being flippant?

4. Flippant.

Disrespectfully casual or lighthearted, particularly when someone or something is serious. Usually people behave like this when they honestly couldn't care less about a situation.

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Rauner: I'm never going to get the votes of 47% of the people on minimum wage anyway!

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Seeing reaction to Rauner's proposal to lower minimum wage by a dollar, the three other GOP gubernatorial candidates pledge to only try to lower it by 50 cents.

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Actually, Kirk Dillard wants to abolish the minimum wage altogether - and he's not even being flippant. That means the candidate who started out this race as the closest thing to a moderate is actually more craven than Rauner.

In the wake of the Rauner "gaffe," Dillard said the "marketplace" should decide the minimum wage.

Also, from December:

"State Sen. Kirk Dillard says Gov. Pat Quinn's call for an increase in the minimum wage is merely an "election-year stunt."

But Dillard, who is running for governor in 2014, voted in favor of raising the minimum wage in 2006 when it was being pushed by now-imprisoned former Gov. Rod Blagojevich.

Dillard, a Hinsdale Republican, was among eight GOP senators who said "yes" in November 2006 to a plan to bump the minimum wage to $7.50 an hour in 2007. It topped out at $8.25 an hour in 2010.

So Dillard just flip-flopped and he wasn't even flippant about it.

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Also:

Two of Dillard's opponents in the GOP race for governor - state Sen. Bill Brady of Bloomington and state Treasurer Dan Rutherford of Chenoa - voted "no" on the 2006 minimum wage hike.

Dillard's running mate, state Rep. Jil Tracy, R-Quincy, also voted "no" on the 2006 proposal.

So now, given his new position, Rauner is now the only GOP candidate actually supporting a higher minimum wage!

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Lesson: In American politics, you can get away with saying the minimum wage should be abolished because it seems like you are taking a principled stand on behalf of the market, but you can't get away with saying the minimum wage should be lowered because then you simply want the lowest-paid employees to make even less money, and that sounds cruel, even though it's less cruel than abolishing the minimum wage altogether. In other words, saying someone should only make $7.25 an hour instead of $8.25 an hour is somehow more horrible than saying employers should be free to pay whatever they want, even if that means $1.25 an hour.

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The federal minimum wage after five years of Barack Obama's presidency is $7.25 an hour - a dollar less than it is here in Illinois. What if Rauner had said this: "I propose aligning Illinois' minimum wage with that of America under Barack Obama!" He'd probably get some crossover votes.

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Considering inflation, today's minimum wage is equal to $4.87 in constant 1996 dollars - just slightly higher than the adjusted 1955 minimum wage of $4.39.

Meanwhile, the stock market is at an all-time high - and it's going higher thanks to Macy's laying off thousands of workers!

5. "Rauner even quickly penned a Tribune op-ed that the paper obligingly rushed to print," Rich Miller notes at Capitol Fax.

Here's the funny thing: It's behind a paywall.

6. Quinn Running Mate Paul Vallas Will Continue Working In Connecticut Until March Primary.

Why even then? Lieutenant governors should only be called into work if the governor dies or is indicted.

7. WorldStarHipHop Presents:

The Field: Chicago (A Profile Of The City's Hottest Artists, The Violence That Surrounds Them And The Hope Music Brings To Their Lives).

Starring Lil Durk, Lil Reese, King Louie, Lil Bibby, Young Chop, Katie Got Bandz, Lil Mouse, Rhymefest & more.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Flippantish.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:25 AM | Permalink

The Field: Chicago (A Profile Of The City's Hottest Artists, The Violence That Surrounds Them And The Hope Music Brings To Their Lives)

Starring Lil Durk, Lil Reese, King Louie, Lil Bibby, Young Chop, Katie Got Bandz, Lil Mouse, Rhymefest & more.


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Executive produced by @QWorldstar. Produced by Javier "Jay" Sang. Directed by Mandon Lovett. Cinematography by Sher Toor & Jonathan Hall.

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Note: This dropped on Tuesday and already has more than 6.5 million views at WorldStarHipHop.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 4:08 AM | Permalink

January 8, 2014

The [Wednesday] Papers

Clout's consequences can be deadly. Some pols don't care.

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Meanwhile:

"Former Streets and Sanitation Commissioner Al Sanchez wants to run for Cook County Board Commissioner, but he could be tossed off the ballot in a Wednesday hearing - in part, the argument goes, because he can't run for office while on probation for a federal conviction," the Sun-Times reports.

"For some reason they think I can't run in a contested primary because of my conviction," Sanchez said in a recent interview. "I think that people know that when I was employed by the city that I did a good job and cared about people and we did good things."

For some reason - possibly the law!

But I'm a good guy so that shouldn't matter.

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Memo to Al: The "people" have never heard of you.

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"I got the same as Jesse Jackson Jr.," Sanchez complained to the Sun-Times. "He stole $750,000! I didn't take money," Sanchez said, adding he thought Jackson's prison camp in North Carolina was cushy. "He got to go to Butner. Aww man, everyone wants to get in there. That was where people would say, 'C'mon man. I gotta get to Hawaii.'"

Whining about your prison bid is not a good look, Al.

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"Convicted felon, former city official and current Cook County Board candidate Al Sanchez asks, in the Jan. 5 Sun-Times, how he 'violated the public trust' when he was convicted of devising and participating in a scheme to defraud applicants for city of Chicago jobs by rigging the job process to deny jobs to qualified applicants," Cook County Commissioner Larry Suffredin writes in a letter to the Sun-Times. "He claims to be an innocent victim who just happened to get caught being a crook.

In fact Sanchez knowingly violated employment laws and court orders, including the well-know Shakman decree, in criminally fixing hiring practices to hire political hacks. The Shakman decree is intended to protect the public from this type of political corruption. Sanchez knows exactly what he did and that he defrauded many innocent job applicants. He can't claim now to not understand how he 'violated the public trust.'

Sanchez wants to represent the 4th District on the Cook County Board because he thinks he was such an outstanding city official. Felons with a history of defrauding the public do not deserve to be elected to any office. The people of the 4th District deserve better than another convicted felon after William Beavers vacated the office last year upon his conviction.

Commissioner Stanley Moore was appointed after the Beavers' conviction and he has represented the 4th District with integrity, energy and distinction.

As a member of the Cook County Board I am proud of the role I played in modifying our hiring process through the Shakman decree. Today all applicants for county jobs have a fair and equal opportunity to be hired and serve our citizens. The current county president and board have established a high ethical standard for hiring fairness. We have reformed the bad politics and government of the past. The County Board does not need a convicted felon whose history is one of dishonesty and corruption to tamper with this solid reform.

Al Sanchez still doesn't seem to understand what he did wrong. For that reason alone, he shouldn't hold public office.

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Reminder: Al Sanchez is a Democrat.

Barack Rauner
"Like many other programs for the poor, the federal government's Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) has been steadily whittled down over the last few years," Yana Kunichoff reports for the Chicago Reporter.

"And that means many Chicagoans could be frozen out of getting much needed help with their heating bills during a winter that's seeing record-breaking low temperatures.

"Between 2010 and 2013, LIHEAP funding fell 17 percent, leaving 1.5 million households without necessary financial assistance to pay their energy bills, according to the National Energy Assistance Director's Association, the primary policy organization for LIHEAP directors."

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Think twice before simply blaming Republicans.

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Back to Kunichoff:

"The state's portion of LIHEAP funding also has declined in recent years, falling from $268 million in 2009 to $176 million in 2013, according to the Campaign for Home Energy Assistance."

Democrats hold the governor's office and both chambers of the General Assembly.

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"Cook County saw a similar fall in funding, from $122 million in 2011 to $85 million in 2012. The county requested only $68 million in 2013."

Cook County is obviously run by Democrats.

Dodgy Doctor Discipline
"In 2012, the agency responsible for protecting the public from dangerous doctors disciplined fewer than 30 Illinois physicians in cases where the department cited medical errors or failures to properly diagnose a problem, according to a Tribune review of state data."

Click through to find out way.

What If A Drone Strike Hit An American Wedding?
We'd vow vengeance, no?

Rhymefest The Radio Host
"The show will discuss current events, serve as a platform for investigative reporting, take on the issues of the day and get Chicago talking."

In our Local Music Notebook, along with news from Common, Sasha Go Hard, Chance the Rapper and Buddy Guy.

Luol Deng Too Good To Be A Bull
Unlike Derrick Rose, Luol Deng is a leader and great humanitarian - and a player the Bulls didn't care to keep.

Snowy Conditions Proving Hazardous For Nation's Idiots
The local TV weather follies.

Is The Velveeta Shortage A Hoax?
Plus: Velvet Taco Coming To Town, The Death Of Bacon and The Peanut Butter Pop Tart. In our Random Food Report.

JFK Won't Go Away!
Plus: Agate Eats Hot Doug's, Mama Hoosier Pie and the Chicago Diner. In our Local Book Notes.

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TweetWood

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Competitive rates.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 11:48 AM | Permalink

Local Book Notes: JFK Won't Go Away!

1. Agate Eats.

The personalities behind three popular Chicago restaurants are coming together for a panel discussion on entrepreneurship, culinary innovation, and what it takes to be a successful start-up.

Join Doug Sohn of Hot Doug's, Paula Haney of The Hoosier Mama Pie Company, and Kat Barry of the Chicago Diner as they sit down for a conversation with WBEZ's Peter Sagal at the Harold Washington Library on January 15 at 6 pm.

In a city of standout restaurants, Hot Doug's, Hoosier Mama, and the Chicago Diner have all earned devoted followings. Fans come from near and far seeking the unique blend of high-class craft with traditional American foods, be it gourmet sausages, artisanal pies, or meat-free diner fare. From finding the perfect market niche to day-to-day business practices, the resourceful entrepreneurs behind these eateries have innovated ways to keep growing their enthusiastic fan bases, locally and beyond.

The evening will include entertaining stories from the restaurants' histories, a Q&A with the audience, as well as a book signing for each of their newly published books. This is a unique event bringing together leaders from three of Chicago's favorite restaurants to discuss their stories and success.

Free, with books available for purchase.

2. JFK Won't Go Away!

Best-selling author James Swanson will speak about his new book, End of Days: The Assassination of John F. Kennedy, in this Society of Midland Authors event at the Harold Washington Library.

Swanson, a Chicago native, is also the author of Manhunt: The 12-Day Chase for Lincoln's Killer and Bloody Crimes: The Chase for Jefferson Davis and the Death Pageant for Lincoln's Corpse (both HarperCollins), and the young adult books Chasing Lincoln's Killer and The President Has Been Shot! The Assassination of John F. Kennedy (both Scholastic).

In End of Days (HarperCollins), Swanson reveals Lee Harvey Oswald's history of violence and follows John and Jacqueline Kennedy's swing through Texas and their fateful Dallas motorcade ride. Swanson also re-creates the last hours of the doomed assassin and the days of national mourning for the president that followed.

Starts at 6 p.m. Free.

3. A Painter Among Poets.

"The Poetry Foundation presents the exhibition Jane Freilicher: Painter Among Poets and features a portfolio of the artist's work in the January 2014 issue of Poetry magazine.

Jane Freilicher was a prominent figure in the New York School poetry scene of the 1950s and '60s. Jane Freilicher: Painter Among Poets explores Freilicher's pivotal role among the poets of the New York School, particularly John Ashbery, Kenneth Koch, Frank O'Hara and James Schuyler. The exhibition comprises paintings, including landscapes, cityscapes, interiors and still lifes, as well as works on paper and a selection of original letters, book covers and photographs.

Freilicher, who painted in the era of abstract expressionism, pursued a painterly realism distinct among her contemporaries. "My poet friends didn't influence me directly with their work," she once said. "There's a sympathetic vibration, a natural syntax - a lack of pomposity or heavy symbolism - and something to do with intimism, an intimate kind of expression."

The New York School poets - Ashbery, Koch, O'Hara and Schuyler - were influenced by Jane Freilicher in their poems and in their daily lives due to her artistic camaraderie and legendary wit. Kenneth Koch remarked that James Schuyler "passed one test for being a poet of the New York School by almost instantly going crazy for Jane Freilicher and all her works."

Through Feb. 21, weekdays, 11 a.m. - 4 p.m. Free.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 11:17 AM | Permalink

Random Food Report: Velveeta Vs. Velvet Taco

1. Is Kraft Really Running Out Of Velveeta?

"It's not a seasonal product," says Ken Albala, a culinary historian who teaches a class on 'History of Food' at University of the Pacific in Stockton, Ca. "There is no dish served between Thanksgiving and Christmas that is quintessentially Velveeta."

What's more, says Albala, if there's one cheese product on the planet that should never run out, it's Velveeta. "The whole point of Velveeta is you keep it on the shelf indefinitely. It's the cheese for people who don't know how to cook."

Also, Velveeta's YouTube Channel Is Titled Eat Liquid Gold.

2. Velvet Taco Expands To Fort Worth And Chicago.

Those Chicagoans have no idea what goodness is coming their way.

Maybe, but we're a pretty tough taco market to tap right now.

3. Pork Supply Rebounds: Bacon Prices Drop As Food-Fad Wanes.

Good. Weed out the pretenders.

A&W Restaurants Inc. says it was the first chain to serve a bacon cheeseburger in 1963. In the past two decades, fast-food restaurants started adding more items with bacon in their menus and frozen, pre-cooked bacon made it easier to eat at home. Forty-four percent of Americans eat bacon in a two-week period, compared with 38 percent 13 years ago, according to NPD Group, an industry consultant.

Denny's, which operates more than 1,680 restaurants, reprised its 2011 'Baconalia!' menu in March with 12 items including BBQ Bacon Mac 'n Cheese Bites and Caramel Bacon Stuffed French Toast. Wendy's started selling the Bacon Portabella Melt on Brioche in November. McDonald's, the world's largest restaurant chain, last month added three $2 sandwiches with bacon.

Barley & Grain in New York offers a Bacon Manhattan, while Double Down Saloon in Las Vegas serves a Bacon Martini.

Rule: Bacon cheeseburger at Arby's is cool, Bacon Martinis and Manhattans not.

4. McDonald's Looking For A Way To Move Unsold Mighty Wings.

Wrap them in bacon?

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See also: Popeye's And McDonald's Both Want A Piece Of Buffalo Wild Wings' Business.

5. In Defense Of Pop Tarts: Innovation Can Be Simple And Delicious.

True, but Peanut Butter Pop Tarts are an abomination. And don't try adding bacon.

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In Hi-Def.

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6. Oh, McDonald's, You Just Don't Know What To Do With Yourself These Days.

This has epic disaster written all over it.

7. Buns On Blast.

The new fast-food battlefield?

8. Applebee's To Serve Tablets At Every Table.

The action follows a similar move by rival Chili's, which already has begun the process of placing tablets at its company-owned locations. IHOP, also owned by Applebee's parent, DineEquity, is looking into tablets, too.

To Insure Prompt Service?

9. Five Myths About Obesity.

10. Exporting Chicago.

* Potbelly Opens First Tennessee Location.

In Turkey Creek.

* Bradenton's Joey D's Chicago Pizza Expands To Sarasota.

Began in Minneapolis in 1994.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:30 AM | Permalink

Luol Deng Too Good To Be A Bull

Unlike Derrick Rose, Luol Deng is a leader and great humanitarian - and a player the Bulls didn't care to keep.

1. The Silent Star by Dunkman827.


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2. 28 Points Against The Heat by Dawk Ins.

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3. Dengorous by Mrdjhiphop23.

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4. Luol Deng's Exit Shows The Callous Nature Of Business.

"But for someone who did so much good for the Bulls and doubled as the NBA's biggest humanitarian, Deng rarely felt fully appreciated by the organization," former Beachwood White Sox correspondent Rickey O'Donnell writes for SB Nation. "The way they treated a player and person of his stature was often an embarrassment."

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"The relationship between the player and team really started to sour in 2009. The Bulls misdiagnosed what turned out to be a stress fracture in his right leg and publicly challenged him to play through it. That isn't an exaggeration. In the news release announcing the injury was this line: 'He will be encouraged to challenge himself physically.' A few weeks later, doctors were advising him not to put any weight the leg.

"It didn't end there. Deng was issued a spinal tap when doctors suspected meningitis during last season's playoff run, an injection that had severe repercussions on Deng's body and glued him to a hospital bed. Once he was there, the Bulls showed little concern for him. Deng didn't even have a private hospital room, much less visits from team personnel. Tom Thibodeau had the gall to say Deng had 'flu-like symptoms, whatever' when asked about Deng's illness. It set the stage for another contentious negotiation process. Deng's impending free agency hung over this season the moment the last one ended.

"It should come as no surprise, then, that the Deng era ends in Chicago with a thud. The Bulls made one final overture to Deng, a three-year, $30 million contract that would have amounted to a hometown discount. Deng does some important things with his money. He wasn't about to take less to play for an organization that mistreated him on numerous occasions over the years."

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5. No Autographs by The UN Refugee Agency.

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6. Luol Deng's Speech At The 2013 South Sudanese Australian National Classic.

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7. South Sudan: How Did The World's Youngest State Unravel So Quickly?

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:51 AM | Permalink

Snowy Conditions Proving Hazardous For Nation's Idiots

If you know an idiot, please make sure they're safe and not standing naked in a snow embankment on a dare.


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Plus:

Weather Forecast Says It's Windy As A Bastard.

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And:

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Finally:

Arctic Chill In LA.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:02 AM | Permalink

Local Music Notebook: Radio Host Rhymefest

1. Rhymefest On The Air.

"Social activist, rapper and former aldermanic candidate Che 'Rhymefest' Smith will be the host of a new show Speak Up on Mondays from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. on WVON 1690AM," the station has announced.

"The show will discuss current events, serve as a platform for investigative reporting, take on the issues of the day and get Chicago talking."

Rhymefest's first show was this week.

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See also:

"After receiving the fifteenth 'Chiraq' article in my inbox and seeing a British director come to Chicago and create a documentary with the same title, I realized how dangerous, provocative and exciting the word 'Chiraq' was to verbalize," Rhymefest writes.

"This is exactly why I'm naming my new album Violence Is Sexy."

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This is what a poor kid does for a scholarship.

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From the Beachwood vault:
* Rhymefest's Run.
* Rhymefest's Rap.
* Rhymefest vs. Chief Keef.

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2. Common's Not Smiling.

Prepping his 10th album.

"We came up with this concept Nobody Smiling [and it] was really a thought that came about because of all the violence that was going on in Chicago, or that is going on in Chicago," he told Revolt.

"I like to say was because we're going to bring it into fruition that it's going to stop and all the violence that was going on and it happens in Chicago but it's happening around the world in many ways.

"It may not be to the numbers that's happening in Chicago but, it's happening in inner cities all over America. So we were talking about the conditions of what's happening when I say Nobody Smiling, but it's really a call to action."

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3. Sasha Go Hard's "Own Lane."

They used to try to fuck me to get on the song.

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4. Chance the Rapper Gets Away.

On the heels of a monster year.

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5. Buddy Guy Still The Man.

"If the adage that you're only as old as you feel is true, then Buddy Guy is decades younger than his 77-year-old age suggests," Bob Gendron writes for the Tribune.

"Playing the opening night of a 16-date residency at his namesake Legends, the Chicago icon showed no signs of slowing down during a sprawling 130-minute set. While a majority of the packed crowd sat for the duration, Guy couldn't even stand still for more than a few seconds.

The guitarist's contagious energy and youthful flair have long been part of his annual January home stands, a tradition that continues to attract local and international fans. (Tickets to several upcoming performances are available.) While Guy rarely strays from a successful formula that's been in place for years, the venue's intimacy and 21-and-over policy normally guarantee concertgoers they will see a grittier, feistier version of the musician than the one that appears at all-ages events.

True to form, Guy repeated signature moves - many of which, like the perpetually grinning front man, never seem to grow old. Dressed in an eye-popping magenta suit, he waded into the crowd to get up-close with patrons, slashing ferocious solos as he worked the room like a confident politician. He strolled out the front door and disappeared for an instant, leaving a trail of distortion in his wake. He collaborated with guests (his son Greg and daughter Shawnna). He embraced the role of historian, demonstrating techniques of influential guitarists that left their mark on the genre he fiercely champions in the face of waning mainstream interest.

Go read the rest. And then enjoy this show excerpt:

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:56 AM | Permalink

What If A Drone Strike Hit An American Wedding?

"The Obama administration has launched an internal investigation into a Dec. 12 drone strike in Yemen that targeted an al-Qaeda militant but which local villagers say ended up hitting a wedding party, killing 12 and injuring 14 others, U.S. officials tell NBC News.

"NBC News has obtained exclusive videos and photos taken in the aftermath of the strike. The graphic images show the scorched bodies of young men who villagers say were part of a convoy on their way to the wedding celebration when they were killed in their pickups by two Hellfire missiles fired by a U.S. drone."

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The Atlantic: If A Drone Strike Hit an American Wedding, We'd Ground Our Fleet.

The Nation: The U.S. Has Bombed At Least Eight Wedding Parties Since 2001.

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"A drone strike in Yemen mistakenly targeted a wedding convoy last [month], after intelligence reports said the vehicles contained Al-Qaeda militants. The attack killed more than a dozen people and injured 22 others, nine of whom are in critical condition. Not long after, the Yemeni parliament approved a non-binding vote to ban drone strikes. RT's Ameera David talks to Michael Brooks, contributor at The Majority Report, about how the reaction might have been different if the drone strike had hit an American wedding instead."

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Previously:
* Drones Not Just For Threats Against America Anymore.

* Why Obama Says He Won't Release Drone Documents.

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

* Dissecting Obama's Standards On Drone Strike Deaths.

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

* Everything You Wanted To Know About Drones But Were Afraid To Ask.

* Obama Claims Right To Kill Anyone Anytime.

* The Drone War Doctrine We Still Know Nothing About.

* How Does The U.S. Mark Unidentified Men In Pakistan And Yemen As Drone Targets?

* Hearts, Minds And Dollars: Condolence Payments In The Drone Strike Age.

* Boy's Death In Drone Strike Tests Obama's Transparency Pledge.

* Does The U.S. Pay Families When Drones Kill Innocent Yemenis?

* Confirmed: Obama's Drone War Is Illegal And Immoral.

* Six Months After Obama Promised To Divulge More On Drones, Here's What We Still Don't Know.

* One Month After Drones Report, Administration Still Fails To Explain Killings.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 1:00 AM | Permalink

January 7, 2014

Exclusive: Inside Jay Cutler's Contract

So it turns out Jay Cutler's monstrous 7-year, 126.7 million contract is really just a middling 3-year, $54 million contract with club options thereafter.

The Beachwood, as it is wont to do, has obtained further exclusive details about the deal:

* Three bonus pouts per game.

* Nine bonus shrugs per press conference.

* Working Ventra card.

* Urlacher's old parking space once Urlacher finally moves his RV out of there.

* Private locker next to the training room.

* Obamacare Gold Insurance Plan.

* Doesn't have to play against Green Bay.

* Standing reservation at Hot Doug's.

* Josh McCown re-signed in the most non-threatening way possible.

* Roberto Garza required to shave his butt.

* Renewal of restraining order on Mike Martz.

* Name change to JJ Cutler.

* Gets his picture on the cover of the playbook.

* Gets Peyton Manning on his fantasy team for next three years.

* Will co-star with Kristin in new reality show called The Pills.

* Only required to give a shit once every three games.

* New house in Boca; will fly in for home games.

* All green M&Ms will be removed from the training table.

* No one has to know about Lauren Conrad.

* Gets to bunk with Brody at training camp.

* Team will take legal action against porn star Jay Smutler.

* For every touchdown he throws, he gets a Groupon to Diversey Bowl.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:30 AM | Permalink

That Boy Joe

Temperance as an antidote to juvenile delinquency.


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Via the Prelinger Archives.

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Previously from Prelinger:
* Behind The Bright Lights: How Chevrolet's giant electric sign in downtown Chicago works.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:47 AM | Permalink

Remembering Phil Everly

"Phil Everly, whose high, close-harmony singing with his older brother Don made the Everly Brothers one of the biggest rock and country acts of the 1950s and early 1960s, died on Friday at the age of 74, the Los Angeles Times reported," Reuters reports.

"Phillip Everly was born on January 19, 1939, in Chicago, the son of two country musicians, Ike and Margaret Everly.

"With Ike Everly on guitar, the family was a traveling act and had a radio show in which Phil and Don performed between commercials for XIP rat poison and Foster's 30-minute Wonder Corn and Callus Remover. Legendary Nashville guitarist Chet Atkins was one of their earliest supporters."

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"Don was born in 1937 in Brownie, Kentucky, to Ike and Margaret Everly, who were folk and country music singers," Sky News reports.

"Phil was born to the couple on January 19, 1939, in Chicago where the Everlys moved to from Brownie when Ike grew tired of working in coal mines.

"The brothers began singing country music in 1945 on their family's radio show in Shenandoah, Iowa.

"Their career breakthrough came when they moved to Nashville in the mid-1950s and signed a recording contract with New York-based Cadence Records."

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"In the '50s, the Everly Brothers arrived like a mirage from some deep Southern dream - boyishly handsome, guitar-playing siblings whose voices blended into something haunted, almost mystical," Greg Kot writes for the Tribune.

"When we first heard it, it blew us away," Paul McCartney once said of the Everlys' "All I Have to do is Dream," one of a string of hits Phil and Don Everly had in the late '50s and early '60s that transformed pop music.

"The sound of 'All I Have to do is Dream' echoed through the minds of the still-nascent Beatles, Byrds, Beach Boys and countless other soon-to-be-icons."

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Rare Everly Classic: Hey Doll Baby.

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The Everlys Covering A Dylan Classic.

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Others Covering The Everlys.

John Fogerty (via Linda Ronstadt, of course).

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R.E.M.

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Billie Joe Armstrong and Norah Jones.

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Willie Nelson and Sheryl Crow.

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Nazareth (song written by Felice and Boudleaux Bryant, but first recorded by the Everlys, followed by Roy Orbison, then Gram Parsons with Emmylou Harris).

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:33 AM | Permalink

The [Tuesday] Papers

"Homeless man Clifton Johnson tells U.S. correspondent Nick O'Malley how he plans to survive temperatures below -20 degrees centigrade on the streets of Chicago," the Brisbane Times reports.


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Icy Mayor
"Mayor Rahm Emanuel stepped off the plane Monday morning from a family vacation in Indonesia into a city blanketed in a winter freeze and quickly addressed the optics of his absence from Chicago in the run-up to some of the nastiest weather the area has seen in years," the Tribune reports.

"First up, the mayor made a morning stop at a city Streets and Sanitation garage to thank workers for plowing the snow that fell all day Sunday."

Yes, and every third person he met was fired.

"The mayor then gathered more than a dozen city officials for a news conference to tout efforts to deal with the dangerous cold."

Which was also simply a photo op, given how the mayor abruptly left while reporters were still asking all the questions that he'd dodged.

"Later, Emanuel headed to an afternoon photo-op with residents at a city warming center."

Thank you for being cold! Thank you! Remember to vote!

*

*

"In a city where mayoral careers have been measured by the response to snow on the ground, Emanuel was publicly getting out in front of the situation after he landed."

I would say he was attempting to make up ground having gotten needlessly behind the situation.

"But with many side streets still unplowed, temperatures at historic lows and schools closed, the sight of Emanuel at the microphone after returning from a trip to a warm country on the other side of the world could become fodder for critics who contend he's out of touch with regular Chicagoans."

Yes, if you insist on seeing everything through a political lens (and you assume he'll have an opponent to make it matter).

The real issue, though, was many side streets unplowed, temperatures at historic lows and schools closed.

Many side streets were unplowed because city crews focused much of Sunday on plowing around schools - because CPS insisted all day that schools would be open. Only after that decision was reversed did the city's side streets - which are most of them - begin to get the full attention of city crews.

And what about that decision to open and then close the city's schools? That was the big bumble here. Perhaps if Rahm had come home early from vacation given this storm's historic nature, he'd have gotten that call right from the start.

"Asked why he didn't return to Chicago sooner in light of the harsh forecast, the mayor told reporters his Indonesian trip wasn't all nature hikes and family fun.

"I think every one of the commissioners know and would report I've been in contact with them on a regular basis, and with my chief of staff multiple times on a daily basis," he said. "Communication equipment, be that text, cell phone, e-mail, allows you to stay in contact on a regular basis. My family would think that I wasn't much on vacation, given all the communication I was in with them."

Then why even come back at all?!

But seriously, Mr. Mayor, because you were in such contact with everyone here, why don't you detail the decision-making process regarding the schools?

Pass.

*

"District CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett said she made recommendations to the mayor about closing the schools after monitoring the situation.

"It may have seemed at the last minute, but it wasn't," Byrd-Bennett said. "We were being pro-active all along."

What does that even mean? Don't believe what things seem! It only seems like we closed schools filled with black and brown people! It only seems racist!

It was not last-minute! We planned all along to pretend schools would stay open knowing in the end - but not the last-minute - we would close them.

*

Then again, the initial decision to keep the schools open on Monday was anything but last-minute. It was made on Friday!

"The notifications started going out to teachers and parents Friday and Saturday," Alexander Russo reports on his District 299 blog, "and Sunday CPS sent the following announcement about its plans to open schools on Monday despite the severe cold (which is what persuaded New York City to close schools on Friday)."

Maybe Byrd-Bennett forgot she closed so many schools within easy reach of kids' homes, forcing them to trek long distances to make the morning bell.

*

Back to the Trib:

"Ald. Howard Brookins Jr., 21st, chairman of the City Council black caucus, said Emanuel has the right to take a vacation. And Brookins said his office had received few complaints about the city's snow removal efforts. But the alderman also said he expects opponents to beat the drum during Emanuel's upcoming re-election campaign over the Indonesia trip.

"They're always trying to find any chink in his armor, so I would guess they would try to use this," Brookins said. "But I would also expect cooler heads to prevail and for people to realize it's OK for him to take a vacation."

It's absolutely okay for him to take a vacation. It's also absolutely warranted to expect him to cut that vacation short in the face of a historic and life-threatening weather event that we all saw coming. After all, Mayor 1 Percent can always hop on over to Indonesia for a weekend with his family to make up for it any time he wants.

*

"Nice tan, Mr. Mayor!" John Kass writes for the Trib. "You came back from steamy and tropical Indonesia to a city frozen in ice and snow, where the side streets and alleys hadn't been plowed and where schoolkids were almost sent into the worst of the cold.

"But Rahm Emanuel wasn't worried. He held a Monday news conference about the cold, and almost all of his commissioners who flanked him were dressed like the mayor, in fleece and boots, bureaucrats eager to play the heroic action figure for the cameras."

Yes, who has the fleece contract for the city?

Emergency weather wear provided to the city by Eddie Bauer in exchange for promotional considerations.

*

"[A] few reporters speculated privately he might have used a wee bit of powder to tamp down that bronze sheen," Kass reports.

Bronzing and de-bronzing provided to the city by The Spa on Oak in exchange for promotional considerations.

*

"Byrd-Bennett was asked, didn't the teachers union compel you to close schools with its social media campaign?

"I actually was not aware they had done that," said Triple-B, proving she was the only person in Chicago who didn't know. "Somebody did send me an e-mail that there was a press release or whatever but that had no effect on the ultimate decision I've made . . . and the recommendation I made to the mayor."

1. She's either lying or incompetent in saying she wasn't aware of CTU's campaign to keep the schools closed. It wasn't just CTU, either; it was parents galore taking to Twitter and Facebook pleading for common sense.

On the other hand, Byrd-Bennett has proven rather adept at ignoring parents and teachers.

2. She just said straight out that she didn't take the view of teachers into account. What could they possibly have to contribute to the discussion?

3. She just confirmed that Rahm made the call.

Also, there's no way a political animal like Rahm checks in from Indonesia and discusses possible school closures without asking what Karen Lewis and the union are saying.

*

Rahm also acknowledged that he knew his kids' school had announced they'd be closed Monday when he was still trying to keep CPS schools open.

*

Finally, Rahm bailed.

*

*

Will Rahm be harmed by his cold performance? Not likely, according to the Beachwood Bookmaking Bureau. You can't be somebody with nobody, and right now the opposition doesn't even have a Nobody.

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Remembering Phil Everly
Born in Chicago like a mirage, he left to make rock 'n' roll history.

That Boy Joe
Keywords: Temperance, Juvenile Delinquency, Chicago.

Exclusive: Inside Jay Cutler's Contract!
Another Beachwood Special Report.

*

See also:

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DeathStar Quinn Has Assumed Control

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Be delinquent.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:33 AM | Permalink

January 6, 2014

The [Monday] Papers

"U.S. wheat futures approached a two-week high on Monday as the coldest weather in two decades threatened to damage dormant crops in the United States," Reuters reports.

"Cold weather can boost demand for livestock feed because animals eat more to generate energy to keep warm."

Who knew?

*

"Conditions in Northwest Indiana are so bad that some drivers have been stuck for two days, including a FedEx driver who has been trying to get a delivery down to Alabama," CBS Chicago reports.

"A line of truckers sat overnight near Merrillville, waiting for the roads to reopen. On Sunday night, Northwest Indiana officials declared a state of emergency, restricting travel to emergency vehicles and snowplows."

*

"It may not be snowing or icing over at American Airlines' hub airports on Monday but extreme cold temperatures have forced the airline to cancel over 750 flights," the Fort Worth Star-Telegram's Sky Talk blog reports.

"Fuel and glycol supplies are frozen - at [Chicago O'Hare] and other airports in the Midwest and Northeast. Additionally, our employees are only able to be out on the ramp for a few minutes at a time because wind chills are as low as 45 below zero at some airports," said American spokesman Matt Miller.

"At Dallas/Fort Worth Airport, 41 departures have been canceled, according to aviation website FlightStats.com. The airport is also reporting 105 delays for departures as aircraft need to be de-iced in the frigid temperatures in North Texas."

*

It's not even fun to stay at the YMCA today.

*

Onion or AP: Area Man Takes Refuge In Donut Shop During Cold Snap.

*

"Chicago officials and others have been searching for homeless people to get them inside as temperatures plummeted to life-threatening lows," AP reports.

"Matt Smith of the Chicago Department of Family and Support Services says workers from his office and Salvation Army and Catholic Charities volunteers tried to convince the homeless to come into shelters. He says after some would not, Chicago Transit Authority buses were dispatched to areas where the homeless were congregating so they could get on board to stay warm."

That sounds like an excellent idea. Some homeless folk shy away from shelters for a variety of reasons, including unsanitary conditions and thievery.

*

Robbie Fulks' show at the Hideout tonight has been cancelled.

*

Colder than the South Pole.

The North Pole too.

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Today's Beachwood
* The Weekend In Chicago Rock:

Real Friends, Blue Dream, Burnside & Hooker, Call It Treason, Bobby Bare Jr., Nikki Lane, Jimmy Chamberlin & Frank Catalano, The Eclectics, and Heavy Manners.

* SportsMonday: Don't Buy What The Cubs Are Selling:

Way too many local sports commentators have bought the company line regarding the Cubs' finances hook, line and sinker.

* Interpretive Jazz Dance To "Roundabout:"

The second installment of our jazz dance series.

* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Family Fun:

Slow and low in Pilsen.

(Our very own Helene Smith also landed this photo on Chicagoist.)

* @BeachwoodReport trended in Chicago over the weekend, and for awhile we held down the city's top tweet. See what all the fuss is about.

* Our Facebook page is kinda like our blog. Check it out.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Fast and high.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 11:03 AM | Permalink

SportsMonday: Don't Buy What Cubs Are Selling

Well into his third off-season at the helm of the Cubs, we know one thing about chairman Tom Ricketts: He is more concerned with making money than he is with winning. The evidence is overwhelming.

After football seasons crash and burn, the longstanding tradition of fans brushing themselves off and saying something like "six weeks 'til pitchers and catchers report!" kicks in. And oh by the way, there are (a little less than!) six weeks until Cubs pitchers and catchers report to good ol' Mesa for spring training.

So on a brutally cold day in Chicago, we turn our attention to baseball and we dream of sunny skies in temperate Arizona. Before we know it, it will be February 13 and the opening of baseball's extended preseason will occur.

That will be nice, for what, about a day? Then it will be time to start to assess this year's team and that will be ugly. There is certainly a remote chance that in the next month, the Cubs will sign supposed Japanese phenom pitcher Masahiro Tanaka. Big money clubs like the Yankees and the Mariners are going to be in on the bidding, however, and others such as the Diamondbacks have been rumored to be willing to spend large to land the potential ace.

And free agent starters like Ubaldo Jiminez and Ervin Santana are still out there for the taking. So is Matt Garza, for that matter, but something tells me he won't be returning to the North Side.

But it now appears as though the Cubs will enter spring training having done virtually nothing to upgrade the part of the team that drove fans crazy last year. As it stands, the team looks like it will have a very similar lineup in the coming season to the one it fielded in 2013. And surely the only sensible explanation is protecting profits.

Way too many local sports commentators have bought the company line regarding the Cubs' finances hook, line and sinker. Without additional revenues from Wrigley Field renovations and whatever else, this story goes, the team can't possibly increase the payroll. Except that is obviously not the case.

We all know the Ricketts family has enough money to significantly increase payroll in the blink of an eye. If Tom Ricketts and his siblings were truly committed to fielding a team that would at least offer fans hope of some improvement at the plate in the coming season, more transactions would have occurred. Currently the Cubs do not have even one player in the projected major league lineup with reasonable expectations of an above-average on-base percentage.

Some have employed the reasoning that if the Cubs sign a free agent or two or bring in a veteran in a trade, those players will potentially impede the progress of one the team's super-prospects. People, surely it is clear that if a young player shows himself to be ready for big-league promotion, the big league team can move the veteran (with a position change, a trade or heck, a release) to make room. It might be costly but hey, it isn't our money!

And oh by the way, the only real advantage the Cubs have over the majority of their competitors is higher revenues. People love to point to team president Theo Epstein's record with the Red Sox, but while Boston had some success in the draft while Theo was there, the best Beantown teams were always a mix of young players and veterans on a payroll that, for the first time, attempted to match that of the Yankees.

Now that the Cubs seem poised to stink for the third straight season in 2014, their precious revenues will probably take a hit. Revenues also clearly fell last year, when hundreds of thousands of fewer tickets were sold. It seems as though the Cubs are caught in a downward spiral but the way to get out is clear - spend some money on some veterans. The best free-agent hitters are gone but come on Theo, surely you can make some sort of move to give up one of your beloved prospects for a player with some sort of record of getting on base consistently.

The fans need that sort of guy but the Cubs need him even more. All of these young players desperately need someone to lead by example at the plate.

The Cubs have plenty of promise in the farm system. They should after holding a two-year sell-off of veterans and drafting high the last couple years with more good picks to come this summer.

The Cubs Convention is scheduled for the weekend after next. Hey self-respecting Cubs fans, you can't really justify attendance at that event, can you? Make a statement that this off-season hasn't been nearly good enough. If the Cubs aren't going to spend, why on earth should you?

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

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:08 AM | Permalink

The Weekend In Chicago Rock

You shoulda been there.

1. Real Friends at Beat Kitchen on Friday night.


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2. Blue Dream at Reggies on Saturday night.

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3. Burnside & Hooker at the House of Blues on Thursday night.

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4. Call It Treason at the Bottom Lounge on Friday night.

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5. Bobby Bare Jr. at City Winery on Friday night.

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6. Nikki Lane at City Winery on Friday night.

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7. Jimmy Chamberlin and Frank Catalano at Martyrs on Friday night.

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8. The Eclectics at the Metro on Friday night.

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9. Heavy Manners at the Metro on Friday night.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:56 AM | Permalink

January 5, 2014

JJ's Interpretive Jazz Dance 2: Roundabout

The muses dance and sing.


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Previously:
* JJ's Interpretive Jazz Dance 1: The Match Game Theme.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 3:35 AM | Permalink

January 3, 2014

The College Football Report: Jimmy Kimmel, Pistol Pete & The Discover Card

The past few days have been an orgy of college football, with the weekend - the prime-rib station of the bowl season buffet - still ahead. Following the Sugar Bowl on Thursday night, 30 games are in the books. Some observations on the results so far:

  • Favorites have delivered as expected, going 17-13 straight up.
  • To our unending amazement, the point spreads were dead-on: favorites have "covered" exactly half of the 30 games after Alabama failed to beat the 1- point spread against Oklahoma in the Sugar Bowl on Thursday night.
  • The "chalk" has performed better in low-scoring games, with favorites covering nearly all the low scoring games: 12 of the 15 covers came in games with point totals under the Vegas Over/Under line for total points.
  • Overall, offensive output has trended downward, somewhat contrary to the huge point totals posted throughout the regular season. The under has fared well, with 19 of 30 games finishing below the total, including most (9 of 12) of the games expected to finish with 60 total points or more.

The outliers in that group, however, are truly amazing. To date, in the two games with the highest O/U, the over has paid out. On New Year's Day in the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl, #15 Central Florida outscored #6 Baylor, 52-42, and blew away the 73 1/2 total. High scoring games are fun but take forever, and the Fiesta Bowl subjected us to more Tostitos commercials than we thought possible. (And no, we didn't understand the bits with Jimmy Kimmel either.)

But the Chick-fil-A Bowl set the bar. In a game with an O/U set at 76, #24 Duke and #21 Texas A&M combined for 100 points in a four-point victory by the Aggies "Johnny Football" (trademark pending) Manziel was responsible for five touchdowns in A&M's dramatic comeback W over the Blue Devils.

Together, the two games reached 194 points, which roughly averages out to a touchdown every five minutes.

With the predominance of the spread offense (in all its myriad forms), we should expect to see even more high-scoring games next year. Right or wrong, increased focus on (not) hitting vulnerable players, especially quarterbacks, will keep skill position players healthy and discourage defenses from fielding big, bruising players (with the possible exception of the defensive line) at positions such as safety and linebacker in favor of athletes capable of covering more space.

If you plan to follow college football in 2014, we'd suggest brushing up on the following terms: bubble screen and zone-read. Or just watch Oregon play every week. That said, we wouldn't recommended taking the Over any more often than usual. As this infographic illustrates, the pass-happy offense has been the new normal since at least 2008, but Vegas oddsmakers took note long ago, which makes the Over/Under results in the '14 bowls that much more remarkable.

Finally, Oklahoma's upset of heavily favored Alabama (by 17) may disprove the Nick Saban school of thought, also adopted by Saban devotees such as Auburn's Gus Malzhan. In short, a dominating rushing attack may not offset an opposing offense capable of putting up huge points in the passing game. As the Sooner "hurry up and wait" (our term) scheme demonstrated, a huge D-line does little good if you can't get them off the field for a breather. Throughout the second half of the Sugar Bowl, the camera showed the Tide's 300-pounders heaving and gasping as Oklahoma QB Trevor Knight rushed his team to the line, only to step back and calmly (for the most part) get the play call from the sideline. Saban could do little more than watch in frustration.

The remainder of the BCS bowls will give us more evidence, but as the recent spate hiring offensive-minded head coaches shows, the tide (if you will) is headed toward piling up big numbers.

Friday's games:

AT&T Cotton Bowl
WINNER: AWESOMEST MASCOT
Time: 7:30 p.m., FOX (AT&T Stadium, Arlington, TX)
Teams: #13 Oklahoma State Cowboys (-1) vs. #8 Missouri Tigers
Forecast: Sporty

Comment: We love Pistol Pete. Unique among college athletics, Pete does triple-duty as the mascot for not only Oklahoma State, but also New Mexico State and the University of Wyoming. Pete is a gun totin', chaps wearin', huge-headed intimidating dude. On the other sideline, Mizzou's "Truman the Tiger" bears a striking resemblance to Tony the Tiger, not the most fearsome choice. Our suggestion? Missouri should adopt the Liger as their new mascot, and maybe him loose on the opposing marching band for dramatic effect.

CFR Pick: Cowboys (and ligers)
Sacred Chicken Proprietary Final Score Prophesy (SCPFSP): Oklahoma State 32, Missouri 26

*

Discover Orange Bowl
WINNER: The Credit Card For That Exclusive Group Known As Anybody.
Time: 7:30 p.m., ESPN (Sun Life Stadium, Miami)
Teams: #12 Clemson Tigers vs. #7 Ohio State Buckeyes (-3)
Forecast: Would be sunny if played during the daytime, but because the sun will have set by kickoff, it will be dark.

Comment: Presenting the 2014 Also-Ran Orange Bowl! Both teams missed a BCS spot by losing the final game of the season, leaving Clemson as the almost-but-not-quite representative from the ACC to face but-wait-we-were-a-shoe-in-for-the-national-championship-game Ohio State Buckeyes. Clemson lost to eventual ACC champ Florida State earlier in the year but maintained BCS hopes until a 31-17 defeat to in-state rival South Carolina. Ohio State entered the season at #2 following an undefeated 12-0 season in 2012 and maintained the winning streak throughout 2013, only to fall in an upset to Michigan State in the Big Ten championship game. That MSU went on to win the Rose Bowl should be at least some slight comfort to the Buckeyes. In an odd way, avoiding the pressure of the title game may be a welcome relief to Ohio State, not that any of the players or coaches would dare admit it. The Buckeyes reached the National Championship Game twice during the BCS era, losing back-to-back in 2007 and 2008. Ending the BCS period with another loss would just add insult to injury.

We expect momentum will favor Clemson, who will try to cap off a successful season with a W over a big-name opponent. The Tigers can't play the "no one respects us card," given the modest point-spread, but Clemson has more to win. With a victory, the Tigers can argue that the once-proud program has been restored. Clemson has won only seven bowls games since 1990, and only two in the past five years, a far cry from the dominance of the 1980s, in which the Tigers recorded an NCAA championship (1981) and five ACC titles.

The Orange Bowl won't inspire a tremendous amount of excitement outside of Columbus (the home of Ohio State) and Clemson (the home of Clemson), especially given the Friday night schedule. Generally, we prefer to see upsets in otherwise unremarkable match-ups between big teams, as it should lead to more parity, which is good for the game and avoids the "rich get richer" objections that can drive away casual fans who tire of seeing the usual suspects (Alabama, et al.) come out on top. That said, in a high-scoring game, OSU and QB Braxton Miller (a one-time Heisman favorite) will likely come out on top.

CFR Pick: Over 69.5
SCPFSP: Clemson 22, Ohio State 35

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Mike Luce is our man on campus. He welcomes your comments.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 2:58 PM | Permalink

The Week In Chicago Rock

You shoulda been there.

1. Downtown Struts at the Concord on Tuesday night.


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2. The Lawrence Arms at the Concord on Tuesday night.

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3. Roky Erickson at the Beat Kitchen on Monday night.

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4. Astronautalis at Lincoln Hall on Tuesday night.

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5. Vintage Blue at the Beat Kitchen on Sunday night.

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6. Zedd at the Aragon on Tuesday night.

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7. Gramatik at the Auditorium Theatre on Tuesday night.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 5:47 AM | Permalink

Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Family Fun

Slow and low in Pilsen.

slowlowfamilywmkflkrlge.jpg(ENLARGE FOR PROPER VIEWING)

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More Chicago photography from Helene Smith.

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Helene on Twitter!

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Meet Helene!

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Stationery, iPhone cases, hoodies.

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Previously:
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Man Grilling
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Yum Yum Donuts
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Father's Day
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Vintage Airmaster
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Time
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Window Shade
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Illinois Slayer
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Fire Escape
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Golden Nugget
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Hollywood, Chicago
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Flag Man.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Van In Flames.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Fluid Power Automation.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Corn Dog.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Stop The Killing Car.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Backyard.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: A to Z Things.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Swedish Diner.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Rothschild Liquors.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Silos.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Wires.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Orange Garden.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Irving Park Guy.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Pigeons.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: O'Lanagan's.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: For Rent.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Marie's Pizza & Liquors.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Mori Milk.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: American Breakfast.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: A Chicago Christmas Postcard.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Holiday Harold's.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:12 AM | Permalink

MUSIC - The Weekend In Chicago Rock.
TV - Cricket vs. Brexit.
POLITICS - Corporate Spies Like Us.
SPORTS - Why Was This Game Even Scheduled?

BOOKS - Postdictatorship Argentina.

PEOPLE PLACES & THINGS - Public Lands Matter.


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