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Army Of Darkness
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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)
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Tribune: 51/37
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Weather Channel: 44/41
Ntl Weather Service: 54/43
BWM*: 82/12
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« April 2014 | Main | June 2014 »

May 31, 2014

The Weekend Desk Report

Honestly, it could rain tiny gold ingots on Sunday. No one in Chicago will notice.

Market Update
Good thing Care is Affordable now, because Getting to It sure as hell isn't.

Homeward Boundary
So, wait, a high-performing neighborhood school can have a positive impact on real estate values? Well, thank goodness the poor folks around Obama High will finally catch a break.

Basket Ballmer
Okay, Clippers fans, the good news is, you're getting rid of your dickhead owner. The bad news is, his replacement hasn't exactly been known for picking winners.

Cost Sharing
Quick, which will wind up being more this winter: total number of potholes patched or dollar amount to keep Divvy running?

Sheer Lunacy
Finally this week, if cracking glass under your patrons' feet DOESN'T mean they're about to plummet to their death, maybe . . . post a sign?

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The Weekend Desk Tip Line: Ingotty.

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The Beachwood Radio Network
* The Beachwood Radio Hour #9: Food Fight (Or Adults Behaving Badly).

Chicago's city council and school board met at the same time this week and the laws of quantum decency were violated in innumerable ways. Plus: Ballistic Taco Mayhem, Barry Gibb Is Brilliant, Karen Lewis Is Super Smart, David Vitale Is Sleepy and Exene Cervenka Is Batshit Crazy.

* The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour #2: Kaner & The Kubs.

Here we go again.

Plus: Are The White Sox Still Playing?

And: Chicago's French Open.

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The Sound Opinions Weekend Listening Report: "Warpaint, a quartet from Los Angeles, makes incredibly danceable rock and roll, and they join us this week on the show. Plus, Jim and Greg review the new lo-fi covers album from Neil Young."

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BeachBook
* Daisy Cutter Could Be Hard To Come By Due To Can Shortage.

* Downstate Danville Is The Cheapest Place To Live In America.

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TweetWood

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Posted by Natasha Julius at 11:40 AM | Permalink

The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour #2: Kaner & The Kubs

Here we go again.

Plus: Are The White Sox Still Playing?

And: Chicago's French Open.


SHOW NOTES

00: What Did We See Last Night?

* Patrick Kane's Game-Winner.

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* Corey Crawford Readies To Rumble.

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* Ben Smith's Coming-Out Party.


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* Play of the Night: Kane to Keith.

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7:27: Cubs: Here We Go Again.

* Plan 7 From Outer Space.

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* Cosmo Kramer as Crane Kenney.

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* Worst Lineup Ever?

* Manny vs. Sammy.

Coffman: Perhaps the Cubs brought in Ramirez to teach their guys how to use Performance Enhancing Drugs. I wonder who they will bring in to teach them how to not get caught?

Rhodes: Sammy Sosa.

20:55: Are The White Sox Still Playing?
* (Hint: Yes. And Not Badly.)

30:50: Chicago's French Open.
* Englewood Native Stuns French Star In French Open.

* Not Yet A Star, Taylor Townsend Flashes Star Power.

* Townsend, Young Share Deep Connection.

* Three American Men Including South Side's Don Young Defy Recent History In Reaching French Open's Third Round.

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See the Beachwood Radio Network archives.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:39 AM | Permalink

The Beachwood Radio Hour #9: Food Fight

Chicago's city council and school board met at the same time this week and the laws of quantum decency were violated in innumerable ways. Plus: Barry Gibb Is Brilliant, Karen Lewis Is Super Smart, David Vitale Is Sleepy and Exene Cervenka Is Batshit Crazy.


SHOW NOTES

00: Left of the Rail.
* See a Little Light.

* Bob Mould plays the Pritzker Pavilion at Millennium Park on June 23rd.

* The high on Friday was 79.

* TrackNotes: Murderous Marketers.

* Correction: This was the opener, not the encore.

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* Peter Guralnick.

11:45: Headlines.
* Southwest Fined For Advertising $59 Atlanta-Chicago Fares That Didn't Exist.

* Karen Lewis Says CNN Tried To Stage Chicagoland Scenes With Her.

* Rahm Emanuel Is An Angry Black Woman.

[Ald. Scott] Waguespack is one of five aldermen who in January asked the city's inspector general to investigate the mayor's controversial $99 million contract for janitorial services at O'Hare Airport. (Last November, the Sun-Times reported that the owner of the janitorial firm, United Maintenance Company, has alleged Mob ties; the firm also made an undisclosed change in ownership structure that resulted in the privatization of union jobs.) Waguespack says that he and his colleagues did so only after the mayor's office wouldn't adequately answer their questions about the contract. "We felt like we were getting the runaround," he says.

The result was a confrontation in a council hallway that started with a mayoral aide screaming at Waguespack and ended with a red-faced Emanuel exploding in a way that will sound familiar to those - such as Chicago Teachers Union president Karen Lewis - who have experienced being Rahminated. "He just came up a couple, three times and grabbed my arm a couple times, squeezed my elbow," Waguespack recalls. "He dropped the f-bomb a few times . . . no big deal. He did it in a way that was meant to be 'I'm the tough guy.' It just shows you what we're doing has an effect, and it makes him very angry, I guess, just for asking questions and asking for an outside opinion."

I sensed while reporting this that it was a bigger deal than Waguespack let on, but he didn't really want to make an issue of it.

16:20: GOTHAM.

21:22: News.
* Pat Quinn's Neighborhood Recovery Initiative May Have Gotten Him Elected Four Years Ago And May Get Him Unelected This Year.

* Barack Obama's Leather Bomber Jacket.

* The City Council Spends More Time On Honorary Resolutions Than Binding Ordinances.

* School Board President Caught Sleeping In Class, So Parent Trying To Talk To Him Is Thrown Out.

33:20: The Week In Juvenile Justice.

* Ridgewood High School Students Denied Diplomas After Throwing Caps In Air.

* High Schoolers Facing Criminal Charges For Ballistic Taco Mayhem.

You just gotta keep livin' . . . L-I-V-I-N.

42:14: Exene Cervenka Is Batshit Crazy.

* Says J.J.: I'm second left coming out from behind the silos (faux mohawk, tank top, Doc Martens). Goes by quick . . .

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45:21: The Ledge.

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See the radio hour archives and the rest of the Beachwood Radio Network, now transitioning to a new SoundCloud home.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:50 AM | Permalink

May 30, 2014

The [Friday] Papers

Once I'm moved in next week I'll do a little write-up about the new Beachwood HQ. We here at Beachwood are committed to doing less with more, and that philosophy is guiding this move. Our strategic plan puts us closer to the kind of beers readers like in an environment that is not trying to monetize your every move. We're also rearranging our relationship with lenders and their collection personnel.

So stay tuned. The Papers returns on Monday, though I'm already foreseeing exhaustion preventing a full re-flowering of this column until midweek.

We are planning extra special podcast editions this weekend.

Meanwhile . . .

A Bailout Botched By Centrists
ProPublica delivers the goods - again - in a companion podcast to its piece last week placing blame for lack of financial reform squarely on the shoulders of Barack Obama.

It's important to note how Obama's true nature is revealed and indeed was on display from get-go; when you hire Tim Geithner, Arne Duncan and Ray LaHood into your cabinet and Rahm Emanuel (followed by Bill Daley) as your chief of staff, after running a campaign promising transformational change, well, the jig oughta be up.

We need to see clearly who our elected leaders are - be it president or mayor - and not who they pretend to be. When the media fails to do its job in that regard, the media becomes an obstacle to democracy, not a conduit, and it ought to be held to account every bit as much as as those it covers.

TrackNotes: Murderous Marketers
"It defies bedrock common sense that nobody at Churchill Downs was capable of anticipating that something like Never Tell Lynda's death would happen," our very own Tom Chambers writes.

"But then, Churchill is infiltrated with MBAs and marketing experts who know nothing about horses or racing. It's never about the horses or the racing with these people."

Beachwood Photo Booth: Signpost
Out of the light at Milwaukee and Belden.

The Week In Chicago Rock
Featuring: Barry Gibb, Bane, Assault & Battery, Mo, Lacuna Coil, and Barton Cummings.

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The Week In Juvenile Justice
Ballistic Taco Mayhem, Georgia Turnover, Macon County Continuum, U of C's Trauma and more.

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BeachBook
* Southwest Fined For Advertising $59 Atlanta-Chicago Fares That Didn't Exist.

* Local High School Students Denied Diplomas For Throwing Caps In Air.

Also: administrators raid Barry Manilow's wardrobe.

* Karen Lewis Says CNN Tried To Stage Chicagoland Scenes With Her.

* Local Documentary Producers Were In The Midst Of Making A Maya Angelou Film.

* U of C Refuses To Provide South Side With A Trauma Center.

* Snowden Responds To Release Of E-Mail By U.S. Officials.

* The Best Reporting On Guns In America.

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TweetWood

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Don't be a stranger.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:30 AM | Permalink

A Bailout Botched By Centrists

If former Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner has faced his share of criticism for his rocky tenure, Jesse Eisinger says, his new book makes clear that most of it should be borne by his old boss, President Obama.

Following up on his unsparing examination of the book, Stress Test, last week, Eisinger joins Steve Engelberg for ProPublica's newest podcast to expand on Obama's missed opportunities in the wake of the financial crisis.

Among the highlights:

* "I consider the Obama appointment of Geithner to be the single worst political mistake Obama made," Eisinger says, pointing out that as a former head of the New York Federal Reserve under President Bush, Geithner linked Obama politically to the status quo on financial regulation.

* A tendency to take the center road - even when sweeping change was needed - undid Obama's chances for lasting financial reform: "They compete in the Obama administration to be the one who bows the longest and the deepest to political reality," Eisinger says. "But I think that they significantly misread the moment of 2009."

Other resources from our financial coverage:

* Our reporting showing that as head of the New York Fed, Geithner missed clear signs of impending catastrophe before the financial crisis.

* Our series on the foreclosure crisis.

* Eisinger's reporting on the Volcker Rule.

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See also:

The Buck Stops With Obama On Tepid Financial Reform.

And:

The Wall Street Money Machine.

"As the housing market started to fade, bankers and hedge funds scrambled for ways to maintain the lavish bonuses and profits they had become so accustomed to, repackaging mortgages in complex securities called collateralized debt obligations. The booming CDO market masked how weak the housing market was, and exacerbated its collapse."

Including:

* The Rise Of Corporate Impunity.

* How Bank Of America Execs Hid Their Losses - In Their Own Words.

* How A Handful Of Merrill Lynch Bankers Blew Up Their Own Firm.

* Banks' Self-Dealing Super-Charged Financial Crisis.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:49 AM | Permalink

Beachwood Photo Booth: Signpost

Unenlightened.

Milbeld.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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Listen to Helene talk about Photo Booth; starts at 57:54.

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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.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Deluxe Cleaners.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Marie's Golden Cue.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Die Another Day.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Sears Key Shop.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Window Dressing.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Jeri's Grill.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Barry's Drugs.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Liberty.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Kitchen.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Golden Specials.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: We Won The Cup.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Bartender Man.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Blue Plane Blues.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Finest Quality.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Family Guy.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Girls Wanted.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Skokie Savanna.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:23 AM | Permalink

The Week In Chicago Rock

You shoulda been there.

1. Barry Gibb at the big hockey arena on Tuesday night.

See also: "Some highlights . . .Covering Bruce Springsteen's 'I'm on Fire,' thanking The Boss for covering 'Stayin' Alive' on his current tour."

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2. Bane at Beat Kitchen on Wednesday night.

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3. Assault & Battery at Bottom Lounge on Sunday night.

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4. Mo at Lincoln Hall on Wednesday night.

See also: "Danish singer Karen Marie Orsted, who performs under the moniker MO, embraced a confluence of influences during her short, but energetic sold-out show at Lincoln Hall on Wednesday," Althea Legaspi writes for the Tribune. "From hip-hop beats, to girl-group vibes, to touches of reggae and punk, it seemed there wasn't a genre that couldn't be fused into MO's heady concoction of electro-pop. And coupled with her boundless energy, the show was an exhilarating watch."

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5. Lacuna Coil at Bottom Lounge on Tuesday night.

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6. Burton Cummings at City Winery on Wednesday night.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 2:51 AM | Permalink

May 29, 2014

TrackNotes: Murderous Marketers

There's a marvelous episode in Seabiscuit: An American Legend, Laura Hillenbrand's wonderful chronicle of one of America's greatest sports stories, of how the seeming upstart Seabiscuit trained for his legendary match race against the supposedly invincible War Admiral, winner of 1937's Triple Crown.

Back in November 1938, one aspect of racing was in a bit of an evolution. Until that point, race starts were generally primitive, ranging from a simple chalk line on the track, to wood rail "chutes" to the common starting wire. It was simply a wire across the tracks, above the heads of the horses. Jockeys would slyly get their mounts walking into position to anticipate, the wire would be snapped upward and the horses would go.

Though the starting gate as we know it today was in limited use by the time of the big match race, it didn't come into widespread use until several months later.

Because of War Admiral's dislike of starting gates, owner Charles Riddle insisted on an old-fashioned wire-and-bell start for the big showdown.

Trainer Tom Smith knew that War Admiral was one of the best starters in the game, and that if his Seabiscuit was to even keep up in the early stages of the race, he would need a good start. But 'Biscuit was a horse who would make his start, measure the field, and then wreak whatever havoc he could in the stretch. That would have been an inevitable losing proposition in this race.

In the lead up to the race, the Baltimore Fire Department-issue bell used at the track went missing. Coincidentally, or not, Smith began a training regimen, mostly at night, of simultaneously swatting Seabiscuit on his hind end just as the loud fire bell went off. Soon, Seabiscuit would respond to the bell without the swat. The rest is history.

In following the racing game, you learn a few things about horses. They are intelligent, often highly-strung animals who are creatures of habit, very fragile, and also claustrophobic. They need to be taught how to take a saddle, how to take a rider in the saddle, how to interact with other horses. And how to deal with the modern starting gate.

They are given hours of instruction and, in fact, must prove to racing officials before certification that they can stand the close confines of the gate and react properly to the bell of the start and the loud clang of the gate doors. Our 2014 Triple Crown candidate California Chrome is still learning and improving at the task.

Churchill Downs, the self-styled cradle of American racing, has forgotten, or chosen to forget, everything we all know about horses, and it resulted in an absolutely needless death of a horse, five-year-old mare Never Tell Lynda.

On May 22, 'Lynda was walking toward the paddock (schooling, again, to get her familiar with the surroundings) when what her trainer, Kenneth Wirth, described was a loud commercial, came from the obscenely large video screen and 750 loudspeakers Churchill Downs unveiled just in time for the Kentucky Derby. Apparently the commercial included the loud noise of a starting bell and the gates clanging open. Doing what she was trained to do, Never Tell Lynda bolted, twisted, fell and hit her head. She was injured so badly, she had to immediately be euthanized.

The screen is larger than what should ever be permitted on earth. Besides the audio the system is spewing, add the overwhelming noise of a crowd of 150,000 or more.

Wirth could only be obvious in his reaction. "We teach horses to break from that," he said. "And you've got it on a loudspeaker that everybody in a two-city block can hear. Well, what's she going to do? She thinks she's supposed to take off. And that's what she did. And when she did, she lunged and she lost her balance and went down."

Hall of Fame jockey Gary Stevens complained about the noise from the sound system, blaming the gate troubles of two horses (Empress of Midway actually flipped and fell over before the race and was scratched), including his, at the start of the Kentucky Oaks. Rosie Napravnik, winner in the Oaks aboard Untapable, also said the noise level was "overwhelming."

Kentucky racing officials conceded they had received many complaints about the new system. Churchill Downs officials offered the usual "condolences, thoughts and prayers" after the death of Never Tell Lynda. Churchill apologists instill in us the rightful fear that nothing will be done.

On a smaller scale, I remember complaining vociferously about the deafening noise a bad Pink Floyd cover band was making at Arlington Park years ago immediately after races and right up to the next one. I think there were many others and they then toned down the band. I've seen and heard these race noises in commercials on Arlington Park's video screen.

"If you had sound that was gradually getting higher, it'd be different," said veteran Churchill trainer Dale Romans. "I'd rather my horse listen to a rock concert than one real quick blast of sound. They get scared, and they want to get away from it."

So how does Arlington Park justify its annual Fourth of July fireworks show, when the sounds of random explosions have got to be aggravating to the horses? By it's being the highest attendance Arlington gets every year, that's how.

It defies bedrock common sense that nobody at Churchill Downs was capable of anticipating that something like Never Tell Lynda's death would happen. But then, Churchill is infiltrated with MBAs and marketing experts - hence the video advertising delivery system - who know nothing about horses or racing. It's never about the horses or the racing with these people.

I sincerely believe that Churchill Downs Inc. is well down the road to losing its privilege to conduct Thoroughbred horse racing, especially the Kentucky Derby. It has embraced in the Derby every bit of the crass spectacle emblematic of American sports today. It has turned its overall participation in the game into a massive money grab with many of its priorities set well above that of racing itself. It really wants slots and card games. It doesn't really care about racing. I wouldn't mind a bit seeing the Derby run at Keeneland. Or anywhere else - call it "The America Derby."

We can only hope that Churchill Downs Inc. will just go away. Until then, all we can do is stay away from its toxic atmosphere - at HQ in Louisville, and at Arlington, Calder and Fair Grounds.

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In good Twin Spires news, it appears a players boycott advocated primarily by the Horseplayers Association of North America just might be working, at least a little.

After increasing in April the takeout (top level wager skim) from 16% to 17.5% on win, place and show bets and from 19% to 22% on exotic (exactas, trifectas, superfectas, pick fours, etc.) bets, it became clear the Churchill Downs Inc. was looking to take bettors for even more on the bonanza of Kentucky Derby weekend.

HANA president Jeff Platt said wagering at the Churchill spring meet is down about 6.4%, or about $1.4 million per day, including Derby weekend.

Consider the Derby itself took in $124.66 million in wagers itself, down 0.8% from 2013, and the full Derby Saturday card betting was up 1.4%, to $180.75 million. And that attendance Derby day was 164,906, second largest of all time. It would seem to me that at least some small percentage of off-premise bettors were staying away.

The powder keg was lit when Churchill announced the takeout increase, with forum and blog participants almost universally denouncing the grab and vowing personal boycotts - after the Derby. But it does seem some actually did boycott Churchill on the first Saturday in May.

It's a grassroots effort we can all get behind. I'll tell you, I'm doing my part.

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Previously on The Beachwood Radio Hour: Lost Faith In A Ruined Sport.

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

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:59 PM | Permalink

The [Thursday] Papers

Once I'm moved in next week I'll do a little write-up about the new Beachwood HQ. We here at Beachwood are committed to doing less with more, and that philosophy is guiding this move. Our strategic plan puts us closer to the kind of beers readers like in an environment that is not trying to monetize your every move. We're also rearranging our relationship with lenders and their collection personnel.

So stay tuned. The Papers returns on Monday, though I'm already foreseeing exhaustion preventing a full re-flowering of this column until midweek.

We are planning extra special podcast editions this weekend.

Meanwhile . . .

BeachBook
* Catalyst: Turnarounds And No-Bid Contracts.

* Getting The Innocent Out Of The NSA's Database.

* FBI Taps Cell Phone Mic As Eavesdropping Tool.

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TweetWood

Quinn's NRI.

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Obama corollary to Clinton book No One Left To Lie To will be No Promise Left To Break.

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School board meeting. Ignoring parents and teachers is exhausting.

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They removed the wrong person; Vitale should have been hauled out of there.

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Stop blaming the rooftop owners and start blaming Tom Ricketts, who has established a clear record as a world-class bumbler. Also, he retained noted clown Crane Kenney, who negotiated the "strange" contract the team now seeks to violate.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Clown it up.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:22 AM | Permalink

May 28, 2014

The [Wednesday] Papers

The Papers will return on Monday, June 2nd, in part because I'm preparing to move this weekend eight blocks up Milwaukee Avenue to the California stop. If anyone wants to help, let me know; many hands make light work (as Cameron Poe once said). I really don't have much besides books and files.

But that doesn't mean there won't be any new Beachwood content over the next few days. To wit:

* Did Comcast Refuse This Chicago Cannabis Conference Commercial?

Organizers: "We are not understanding how killing cancer or stopping seizures in epileptic children are too controversial."

* House Committee Puts NSA On Notice Over Encryption Standards.

Spy agency deliberately lessened standards and willfully diminished American citizens' and businesses' cyber-security for their own purposes.

* Fantasy Fix: Astrology.

How is it that this starting pitcher was still available in more than 30% of Yahoo! leagues as of Monday?

* The Cub Factor: Yeah, the CF might not happen this week. I'll make it twice as good next week.

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ICYMI: If you haven't yet, I highly encourage you to listen at least to Angela Caputo's segment on this week's Beachwood Radio Hour (starting at 23:51) for the harrowing story that is Chicago's Mortgage Street.

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Also, The Beachwood Radio Criminal Justice Hour called it . . .

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BeachBook
* There's A Hero Replacing Chicago's Horrible Potholes With Mosaics.

Reminder: Potholes aren't just a Chicago problem. I'm actually not into blaming Rahm on this one.

* Summer Programs Facing Cuts In Federal Dollars.

The exact programs we need to help curb violence.

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TweetWood

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Soon with expanded clubhouse.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:41 AM | Permalink

Did Comcast Refuse This Chicago Cannabis Conference Commercial?

"As the rules for a state medical marijuana pilot program are being finalized, a group of proponents has announced that a cannabis conference will be held in Chicago in June," the Tribune reports.

"Don't be shy. It's OK to talk about marijuana - cannabis," Amish Parikh, vice president of My Compassion, the Michigan-based nonprofit that is hosting the June 7-8 conference at Navy Pier, said.

But Comcast doesn't feel the same way, the conference organizers claim.

"Comcast was to allow this commercial to play in Chicago but has since declined the idea stating it was too controversial," My Compassion said Tuesday on YouTube.

"We are not understanding how killing cancer or stopping seizures in epileptic children are too controversial."

Comcast, to my knowledge, has not responded.

Here is the commercial that was apparently declined:

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See also:
* Chicago Cannabis Conference.

* My Compassion.

* That Medical Marijuana 'Commercial' Never Actually Ran in New Jersey.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 3:55 AM | Permalink

Fantasy Fix: Astrology

We're almost to June in our fantasy baseball campaigns, the point at which it becomes pretty hard to find any buried treasure on the waiver wire.

Sure, maybe you can land an SB specialist to help you with one category or an RP with 14 strikeouts per 9 IP to help you with another, but it's a good bet all the best players are taken.

So how is it, then, that Astros starter Dallas Keuchel was still available in more than 30% of Yahoo! leagues as of Monday?

His numbers: 6-2, 2.52 ERA, 0.98 WHIP, 61 strikeouts in 70 IP, two completes games (he came within one out of having a third) and two shutouts.

He is the sixth-ranked pitcher in standard Yahoo! scoring formats, and the 28th-ranked player overall. There is not another player in the rest of the overall top 50 that is less than 89% owned.

Keuchel just won Player of the Week honors, so the secret's out now, but the truth is that is he has been pitching well all season, and has been lights-out good for the last three to four weeks.

The best reason I can think of that many owners have paused before picking him up is that he pitches for arguably the worst team in baseball (yes, I'm leaving room for someone to argue the Cubs are the worst; for the record, Houston has one more victory than the baby bears entering Tuesday, but a lower winning percentage).

Houston has not been good, and will not get much better this season. Like the Cubs, they have a stable full of young, but mostly still clueless talent. If farm system hype is to be believed, we'll see a Cubs-Astros World Series around 2017.

Despite pitching for a cellar dweller, Keuchel has gotten a ton of support from Houston's feeble bats. The Astros have scored no fewer than four runs in any of his six wins, the sort of luck that makes him Jeff Samarzdija's opposite, I suppose. If owners continue to hesitate, it's because they believe that luck will run out sooner rather than later.

Still, I'd say Keuchel is worth a gamble at this point. Even if you only get another six wins out of him, he has Samarzdija-like value in ERA and WHIP, with decent strikeout numbers.

And, who knows? Maybe Keuchel will turn out to be another Steve Carlton. In 1972, Carlton won 27 games for a Philadelphia squad that finished in last place with only 59 wins. Carlton was responsible for about 46% of his team's total victories.

Expert Wire
* ESPN takes a look at the hottest prospects.

* Bleacher Report suggests a few possible waiver wire pick-ups.

* FoxSports.com reports that much-hyped Royals starter Yordano Ventura could be headed to the DL.

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

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:10 AM | Permalink

May 27, 2014

House Committee Puts NSA On Notice Over Encryption Standards

An amendment adopted by a House committee would, if enacted, take a step toward removing the National Security Agency from the business of meddling with encryption standards that protect security on the Internet.

As we reported with the Guardian and the New York Times last year, the NSA has for years engaged in a multi-front war on encryption, in many cases cracking the technology that is used to protect the confidentiality of intercepted communications.

Part of the NSA's efforts centered on the development of encryption standards by the National Institute of Standards and Technology, which sets standards that are adopted by government and industry.

Documents provided by Edward Snowden suggest that the NSA inserted a backdoor into one popular encryption standard, prompting NIST to launch an ongoing review of all its existing standards.

The amendment adopted this week by the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology would remove an existing requirement in the law that NIST consult with the NSA on encryption standards.

In a "Dear Colleague" letter, the amendment's sponsor, Rep. Alan Grayson (D-FL), quoted our story on the NSA from last year.

"NIST, which falls solely under the jurisdiction of the Science, Space, and Technology Committee, has been given 'the mission of developing standards, guidelines, and associated methods and techniques for information systems,'" Grayson wrote.

"To violate that charge in a manner that would deliberately lessen standards, and willfully diminish American citizens' and businesses' cyber-security, is appalling and warrants a stern response by this Committee."

Grayson's amendment, which is part of a bill that funds NIST, was approved by a voice vote Wednesday.

Grayson's office says it is working on a broader reform package to address the problems with NIST and the NSA.

Even if the current bill makes it through the House and Senate and is signed into law, NIST is expected to continue to consult with the NSA on encryption issues.

NIST itself does not have a large staff of cryptographic experts.

But advocates hope the amendment would signal to NIST that Congress expects the agency to be serious about protecting rather than undermining encryption standards.

"NIST is in no way precluded from interacting with NSA as a result of this amendment, but the message will be clear an agency that subverts the legitimate work of another agency will face consequences," Grayson wrote in his letter to colleagues.

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Previously:
* Which Tech Companies Help Protect You From Government Data Demands?

* Lawsuit Demands DOJ Release More Secret Surveillance Court Rulings.

* Human Rights Organizations To Foreign Ministers: Stop Spying On Us.

* What The Proposed NSA Reforms Wouldn't Do.

* Technologists Turn On Obama.

* Dear Supreme Court: Set Limits On Cell Phone Searches.

* EFF Fights National Security Letter Demands On Behalf Of Telecom, Internet Company.

* Eighth-Grader Schools The NSA.

* You Know Who Else Collected Metadata? The Stasi.

* Today We Fight Back.

* The Day We Fight Back.

* FAQ: The NSA's Angry Birds.

* 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 5:44 PM | Permalink

SportsMondayTuesday: Panic Central

Here are a couple thoughts on the Hawks. I'm going to get them out of the way quickly so we can move on to the latest bit of absolute lunacy at Wrigley Field, otherwise known as Panic Central.

The Hawks haven't just lost three of four to the Kings after they dropped Monday night's 5-3 decision; they haven't been close.

But for Jonathan Toews they would have been completely out-classed in Game 3 and last night was a simple thrashing (and what was the final in Game 2? I stopped keeping track when the Kings scored their fifth goal in that one). I know the Hawks trailed 3-1 to Detroit last year and rallied. In order to rally like that, a team has to have untapped reserves. Anyone have any idea what those might be this time around?

I know the defensive corps can play much, much better and maybe the trip back to Chicago will help the big four (Seabrook and Keith, Oduya and Hjalmarsson) and Nick Leddy find their better hockey-playing selves. And maybe the Patricks (Sharp and Kane) will remember how to score and win. But there is really only one way to describe the Hawks' prospects at this point: not bloody likely.

And now, the Cubs. Folks who have been paying attention have known for a while that the great Theo Epstein North Side franchise rebuild isn't going well.

Despite all the glowing reports regaling the potential of all the seemingly wonderful prospects down on the farm, Theo and his minions have actually not drafted well. If you disagree, perhaps you could point to just one current Cub prospect that Theo and Jed (Hoyer) and the rest of them drafted outside of the first round who is on the verge of making an impact in the big leagues.

They have made lousy trades. They've alienated their one and only major league asset with big-time value (Jeff Samardzija). And they choked all over themselves when they signed the one big-money Cuban free agent of the last three years, Jorge Soler, who has been a complete bust. They could have spent just a little more money and signed Yoenis Cespedes (who signed for about $36 million) instead . . . or Yasiel Puig ($41 million) . . . or even Jose Abreu ($68 million).

Cespedes has battled through numerous injuries but since he arrived, all the A's have done is win. Puig is lighting up the National League again this year and Abreu will be back from injury soon to resume his pursuit of American League Rookie of the Year. All were right there for the Cubs' taking. Instead they signed bat-man Soler for more than $30 million.

And now, in an absolutely desperate move, Epstein has turned to one of the worst actors in Major League Baseball history and actually hired him as a Triple A player/coach.

You thought No Tippin' Pippen was bad? Manny Ramirez never met a poorly paid clubhouse attendant he couldn't stiff, and stiff again year after year for more than a decade.

But that wasn't the worst of it, not by a long shot. In his final few years as a player (and everyone other than Ramirez has figured out that he was done as a player several seasons ago), Ramirez physically assaulted the Red Sox' 64-year-old traveling secretary at one point when the guy couldn't come through with a last-minute Ramirez ticket request. Thanks to ESPN's Buster Olney (unfortunately most of the column at is behind a paywall), we have the story of how Ramirez once trashed a hotel room so badly that the Red Sox were asked to leave in the middle of the night.

And early on in the 2008 season, he simply stopped trying. He realized the Red Sox weren't going to offer him a big new contract so he couldn't be bothered to play hard anymore. Theo managed to trade him to the Dodgers, where he made an initial splash and was rewarded with one last obscene contract . . . which he screwed up by being caught taking performance enhancing drugs, twice.

I suppose the "not trying" part fits right in with the Cubs. They haven't been trying for three years now . . . at least trying to win at the major league level. They've been trying to pile up profits, and to win the Baseball America "most best prospects" award, but they haven't had any interest in making the major league product better despite continuing to charge their fans major league prices and then some.

Ramirez is the guy Theo is counting on to get his stalled prospects going at the plate? Epstein says that Ramirez will get weekly chances to play but that his at-bats will not get in the way of prospects' hitting. Wait, did baseball grant the Triple-A Cubs the right to use a 10-man lineup? Because otherwise, when Manny plays, a prospect, of course, sits.

Perhaps the Cubs brought in Ramirez to teach their guys how to use Performance Enhancing Drugs. I wonder who they will bring in to teach them how to not get caught?

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

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:55 AM | Permalink

The [Tuesday] Papers

The Papers will return on Monday, June 2nd, in part because I'm preparing to move this weekend eight blocks up Milwaukee Avenue to the California stop. If anyone wants to help, let me know; many hands make light work (as Cameron Poe once said). I really don't have much besides books and files.

But that doesn't mean there won't be any new Beachwood content over the next few days. To wit:

* SportsMondayTuesday: Panic Central.

* The Cub Factor: Will appear on Wednesday.

* Good News TV: When Crime Was Down And Local Nazis Weren't Bugging Us.

* Under The Surface: Lifting The Veil On Daily Life In The Middle East.

* The Weekend In Chicago Rock: Featuring Purge, Deadly Attribute, Pressure Point, Those Unknown, Failure, De/vision, Future, and the Eels.

And in case you missed it . . . the latest from The Beachwood Radio Network:

* The Beachwood Radio Hour: Mortgage Street.

The Chicago Reporter's Angela Caputo explains the foreclosure crisis through the prism of a single property on a block known as Mortgage Street.

Plus: The Neighborhood Issue That Could Bring Down Rahm, Redflex Redux & Downstate's Dark History.

* The Beachwood Radio Criminal Justice Hour: Pot.

How Chicago's New Pot Law Is Bogus, How Roosevelt University's New Study Is Bogus, And How The Media Covers The Bogosity. With Tracy Siska of the Chicago Justice Project.

Plus: The Week In Juvey.

* The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour: Coach Queasy & The Qubs.

* Due to unforeseen circumstances, Beachwood International will return next week.

BeachBook
* Most U.S. Drone Strikes In Pakistan Attack Houses.

* The Lawyer And The Kill-List Memo.

Barron's memo providing the legal case for killing Awlaki was written seven months after Obama placed him on the kill list.

* Memorial Day 1994: Pre-Congress Mike Quigley And Chicago's Killing Fields.

* Anti-Homeless Barriers Installed Under Kennedy Expressway.

* Lithuanians In Springfield: The Mine Wars.

* MLBPA Concerned About Cubs' Spending.

* A.J. Pierzynski's Struggles A Symbol Of Woe.

* Baseball Lords Vexed By Plans For A New King.

But as Mr. Selig's final season unfolds, Mr. Manfred's candidacy is meeting turbulence from an unexpected antagonist: Jerry Reinsdorf, the 78-year-old owner of the Chicago White Sox and long one of Mr. Selig's most loyal allies in the game.

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TweetWood

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The Beachwood Tip Line: No pants, no service.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:17 AM | Permalink

Under The Surface Lifts The Veil On Daily Life In The Middle East

Under the Surface: A Photographic Portrait of the Middle East, by internationally acclaimed photographer Hossein Fatemi, will make its United States debut in Chicago on Saturday, June 7.

Featuring a number of never-before-seen photographs, the exhibition documents the many facets of the Middle East's complex society, lifting the veil on some of the less observed areas and realities of daily life. The exhibition will also feature images published in The New York Times Sunday Review and The New York Times Lens.

A native of Iran and having traveled throughout the Middle East for more than a decade, Fatemi possesses a deep understanding and knowledge of Islamic cultures that differentiates him from American and European photographers.

Through his lens, Fatemi reveals the reality of daily life, particularly for women and youth, in a complex and changing society.

Fatemi's work exposes the attempts of millions of people to navigate a precarious path through a thicket of religious legislation and custom while pressured by the infiltration of a fast-paced, modern world.

The Arts Palette along with Pasfarda Arts & Cultural Exchange and ThinkArt present the premiere of Hossein Fatemi's Under the Surface at an exclusive one-night exhibition accompanied by dinner and a panel discussion with Fatemi and special guests and a musical performance by Bad Mashadi to celebrate the Middle East's rich culture, its people and traditions.

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Hossein Fatemi was born in Iran in 1980 and began his photographic career in 1997.

Fatemi was the first Iranian to embed with the United States military and in the course of his career has worked in Lebanon, Pakistan, Turkey, Iran, Iraq, Georgia, Russia, India, Somalia, Kenya, Afghanistan and Bangladesh.

His award-winning work has been published in numerous national and international publications including The Times, Newsweek, Time, The New York Times, National Geographic, Paris Match and the Washington Post.

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Panelists:

  • Azadeh Gholizadah, Chicago-based interdisciplinary artist & architect
  • Nasrin Qader, assistant professor of literature, Northwestern University
  • Asad Jafri, president, Sukoon Creative
  • Narimon Safavi, co-founder & director of Pasfarda Arts & Cultural Exchange, commentator of Worldview, WBEZ Chicago (moderator)

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Schedule:

7 p.m. to 8 p.m. - VIP Cocktail & Viewing

8 p.m. to 9 p.m. - VIP Dinner & Panel Discussion with Hossein Fatemi

9 p.m. to 11p.m. - Live Music Performance By Bad Mashadi

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Location:

Chicago Urban Art Society on 600 West Cermak Road, Unit 1B.

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See also:

* The New York Times Sunday Review: Veiled Truths.

* The New York Times Lens: Youth In Iran: Inside And Out.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:05 AM | Permalink

Good News TV: When Crime Was Down And Local Nazis Weren't Bugging Us

"Here's an editorial by Dillon Smith, editorial director of WMAQ Channel 5, soaking in the sun at poolside outdoors during a company outing, and summarizing some good news of the summer season."


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Editor's Note: The murder rate in Chicago for 1978 was about twice what it was in 2013.

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See also:
* The Museum Of Classic Chicago Television on YouTube.

* The website: FuzzyMemoriesTV.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 4:54 AM | Permalink

The Weekend In Chicago Rock

You shoulda been there.

1. Purge at Cobra Lounge on Friday night.


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2. Deadly Attribute at Mojoes in Joliet on Sunday night.

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3. Pressure Point at Reggies on Sunday night as part of the Midwest Live & Loud Weekend.

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4. Those Unknown at Liar's Club on Thursday night as part of Midwest Live & Loud Weekend.

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5. Chad VanGaalen, Cousins and Bry Webb at the Empty Bottle on Thursday night.

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6. Failure at the Metro on Thursday night.

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7. De/vision at the Abbey on Friday night.

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8. Future at the Concord on Sunday night.

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9. Eels at the Vic on Saturday night.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 4:00 AM | Permalink

May 25, 2014

Jeter Exits The Cell

Despite standing ovation after standing ovation when Derek Jeter strode to the plate at the Cell over the weekend, these are not the Yankees we thought they were.

They used to be a team the White Sox saw 22 times a season when Mickey, Yogi and Whitey wreaked havoc on the South Side. Or George Steinbrenner fired yet another manager, one of whom, Billy Martin, was just the other day called a "bigot" by former pitcher Tommy John in an interview by Dan Patrick.

What about the ugly dugout fight between Reggie Jackson and Martin when the manager pulled his star right fielder in the middle of an inning for perceived lack of hustle? Or the way Joe Torre, who led the Yankees into the post-season for all 12 seasons he managed the team, was disrespected in 2007 when he was offered a measly one-year contract?

Now those were the Yankees we thought they were, a truly despicable outfit.

Mickey Mantle played 18 years (1951-68) in the Bronx including 322 games against the White Sox. The Mick banged out 72 homers and drove in 192 runs against our guys. We admired Mickey's skills, but we weren't sorry when his Sox-killing days were over.

Same with Whitey Ford, who had a 39-21 lifetime record against the Sox which included 13 shutouts, more than he blanked any other team. Why would any self-respecting Sox fan be upset when he was finished?

Yogi faced the Sox in 289 games, hitting .274 with 42 homers and 173 RBI. Many of those came in late innings, snatching victory from defeat for the Bombers when they toyed with the White Sox.

When Berra walked by me one evening on his way to the exit of a Palm Desert, California restaurant, my reflex reaction was, "I'm a Sox fan, and you broke my heart so many times."

"Oh, shit," he responded, being consistently distasteful.

Respecting the skills of those athletes was warranted, but we certainly didn't have to like them. They simply were better than anyone else. We acknowledged that they had earned their swagger, which was not inconsequential.

Jeter never was a nemesis like those other fellows. To begin with, because MLB schedule-makers have morphed into carbon copies of their NFL brethren, he faced the Sox just 142 times in his 20 years with the Yankees, hitting .294 with 13 home runs and 59 driven in. So Jeter played against the Sox in Chicago only three or four times a season since his rookie year in 1996.

Jeter saved his best for the other Sox, the division rivals from Boston. He played them almost twice as often as our Sox, slugging 25 round-trippers and driving in 129 runs.

So other than the hype emanating from Bud Selig's and the Yankee marketing
departments, what is it that encourages fans from other cities to honor Jeter?

For openers, even playing in the fish bowl of New York, he's never done much to attract negative attention. No DUIs, PEDs, messy divorces, drinking or carousing. He's dated models and actresses but never married. He's been labeled an "ambassador of the game" more often than Ronald Belisario blows saves.

Whereas Mantle, Ford, Martin, Berra and others grabbed headlines for escapades like brawling at New York's Copacabana nightclub, Jeter has flown under the radar since he first arrived at the Stadium. Even if he was on the radar, there would be nary a blip.

In her book The Last Boy: Mickey Mantle and the End of America's Childhood, Jane Leavy details the shenanigans of Mantle and Martin when Billy would visit Mickey in the off-season in rural Oklahoma. The local citizenry, instead of bursting with pride, informed the duo that they were persona non grata because of their boorish alcohol-fueled behavior.

Jeter, for crying out loud, is a clean-cut wholesome Midwesterner from Kalamazoo. The Yankees made him a first-round pick (sixth overall) in 1992, but they didn't rush him to the big leagues even though the long-forgotten Spike Owen, Mike Gallego, Andy Stankiewicz, and Alvaro Espinoza had been manning the shortstop position for the pinstripes.

Jeter has never been MVP, and he's never led the league in hitting. Yet he has amassed 3,362 hits - 641 more than Lou Gehrig, who is second in Yankee history - and has eight 200-hit seasons. He's won five Gold Gloves, though there have been other shortstops, such as Omar Vizquel, who were better fielders.

What Jeter has done better than anyone is win. Not alone, but he's the trustworthy catalyst who led the Yankees to 17 post-season appearances in the last 19 seasons. He's played almost one entire season - 158 games - in October, resulting in nine post-season records, including hits, runs, doubles, triples and total bases.

Jeter isn't alone in representing the about-face these Yankees represent from those of yesteryear. The crusty Casey Stengel, who managed New York for 12 seasons (1949-1960), guided the team into 10 World Series', winning seven. He was the first manager to platoon players; his gibberish - known as Stengelese - confused everyone including himself; and he ignored the off-field antics of his minions.

Today's Yankees are led by Joe Girardi, a native Peorian who attended Northwestern. He actually makes sense when he talks. He's as far a cry from Stengel as Steinbrenner was to Branch Rickey.

Although these Yankees project a much different persona than their predecessors, it still is sweet when the Sox beat them. Adam Dunn's two-run walk-off blast in Friday night's 6-5 Sox victory was euphoric.

And when Belisario blew a 3-0 ninth-inning lead on Saturday before Jacoby Ellsbury homered in the 10th to erase John Danks' best outing in two years, we Sox fans were stung as badly as if Berra had deposited a drive into the upper deck at Comiskey.

Jeter led the Yankees to an easy 7-1 win and a series split on Sunday in his final game in Chicago - barring an unlikely playoff match-up.

His four hits included a triple - his first since August 2011 - and an RBI.

Meanwhile, Masahiro Tanaka avenged his first loss earlier in the week on the other side of town by handcuffing the Sox for 6 2/3 innings to run his record to 7-1.

Saturday was my day at the Cell, but unlike the majority of the 33,413, I wasn't moved to stand and applaud the Yankee captain when he came to the plate in the first inning. What I discovered when the Yankees mounted their ninth-inning rally to tie the game at 3 is that the cheers were even louder than those for Jeter. At least a third of the fans were Yankee supporters. It never occurred to me that New Yorkers and other Yankee fans have taken to the road to follow Jeter in his final campaign. But apparently that's the case.

Before the game, I ran into my friend Patrick, a staunch Cubs fan.

"What are you doing here?" I asked.

He said he'd come for a final look at Jeter.

"What's the big deal?" I said. "He's played here only three or four times a year."

"I'm here for the other 158 or 159," Patrick replied.

He had a point. In an era filled with too many self-centered, pompous athletes, Jeter has been the ultimate sportsman, the truest example of a team player. While I chose not to stand in his honor - after all, he's a Yankee - he received my finest golf clap.

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

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1. From Frederick Nachman:

Great column. I stood on Thursday, mainly because everybody else was blocking my view and I wanted to snap a photo (here's the Flickr album).

I've found Yankees fans to be good ones, unlike Red Sox Nation, but our luck some idiot two rows in front seemed to think the game was also about him, standing, preening, bowing, etc. . . . just like a Red Sox fan.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 11:54 PM | Permalink

The Beachwood Radio Criminal Justice Hour #1: Pot

How Chicago's New Pot Law Is Bogus, How Roosevelt University's New Study Is Bogus, And How The Media Covers The Bogosity. With Tracy Siska of the Chicago Justice Project. Plus: The Week In Juvey.


SHOW NOTES

* The Week In Juvenile Justice.

* Roosevelt University Study Of Marijuana Misdemeanors In Illinois.

* Tribune: Study: Despite New Law, Pot Arrests Likelier Than Tickets.

* Tribune: Experts: Police Arrest For Marijuana Offenses Out Of Habit.

* Sun-Times: Chicago Cops More Likely To Arrest - Not Ticket - For Pot Possession.

* Capitol Fax: Today's [Pot Arrest] Numbers Are Depressing.

* DNAinfo Chicago: Pot Enforcement 'Uneven, Unjust,' Says Roosevelt University Study.

* Reader: Illinois Pot Policies Are Inconsistent And Unjust, Report Concludes.

(See the Related Stories on the Reader post for Mick Dumke's extensive work on the topic.)

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The Beachwood Reporter Radio Archives.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:01 PM | Permalink

May 24, 2014

The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour #1: Coach Queasy & The Qubs

Welcome to the pre-beta edition of The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour, our weekly sports roundup. In this show: Coach Queasy & The Qubs. Plus: Theo Doesn't Get It, Rick Renteria's Disconnected Optimism Wearing Thin & The Jed Hoyer Condescension Meter.


SHOW NOTES

* The Cub Factor: Future Shock.

Worrying about "sustained success" is for normal franchises, not the Cubs.

* Coach Q Is Queasy.

Why he's worried.

* Tweeting Samardzija.

Pitching his way off the island.

* Will The Yankees Pursue Samardzija?

Duh.

* Samardzija Admires The Yankees' Way.

Duh.

* Elena Delle Donne Helps Sky To Third Straight Win.

Have the Cubs done that yet this season?

* 99 Years Of Cubs Losses.

And that was seven years ago.

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For more Beachwood Radio, see The Beachwood Radio Network archives.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 5:53 PM | Permalink

The Beachwood Radio Hour #8: Mortgage Street

The Chicago Reporter's Angela Caputo explains the foreclosure crisis through the prism of a single property on a block known as Mortgage Street. Plus: The Neighborhood Issue That Could Bring Down Rahm, Redflex Redux & Downstate's Dark History. In the weekly podcast of the world's wittiest Chicago-centric news and culture review.


SHOW NOTES

00: Strawberry Rock Show.

* Programming Notes: This we're breaking our segments up into three podcasts, so look also for our companion Criminal Justice Radio Hour discussion about pot with Jake Siska of the Chicago Justice Project and our companion Beachwood Radio Sports Hour discussion with our very own Jim Coffman about the Blackhawks' Coach Queasy and the Qubs.

Also, my voice was so good yesterday. Today I have a cold.

Also, a major solution to improving the quality of this podcast's sound backfired disastrously, so live with it.

5:13: Oozing Wound at the Empty Bottle on Tuesday night.

6:10: The Neighborhood Issue That Could Bring Rahm Down.

* How many times can I say the world alienate?

* That's the Blue Line in the background, not an airplane.

11:13: Sixteen Tons Of Dark Downstate History.

17:12: Blue Line Blues.

* The world is a witch with a gift for hurt so you gotta stay alert.

20:00: Rahm's Redflex Red Lights Redux.

* Yellow Lights Shorter In Chicago.

* Rahm Caught Lying About Speed Cameras.

22:46: The Jerry Garcia Symphonic Celebration at the Chicago Theatre on Tuesday night.

23:51: Spotlight: Mortgage Street with Angela Caputo.

* For the better part of a day we had lost the first 10 minutes of Angela; the miracle solution means my voice is somewhat faint . . . in fact, I think it's just the bleed into her mic, but live with it. The interview is worth it, I promise.

* The Chicago Reporter: Reclaiming The Avenue.

* Watch The Vacancy Epidemic Spread.

* 6210 South Fairfield Avenue.

* Chicago Lawn resident Andrew Durden on what it's like to live next to 6210 South Fairfield Avenue - and on the fire there.

* This should have been an episode of Chicagoland.

* This story is basically a tale of the rich plundering the poor - coming and going.

* Cook County Files Lawsuit Against HSBC, Bank of America, Countrywide and Merrill Lynch for Predatory and Discriminatory Mortgage Lending Practices.

* CookCountyLandBank.org.

* State Attorneys General, Feds Reach $25 Billion Settlement with Five Largest Mortgage Servicers on Foreclosure Wrongs.

* ProPublica's FAQ on The National Foreclosure Settlement and Independent Foreclosure Review.

* Rehab Aid Focused In Gentrifying Areas, Distressed Areas Languish.

* How many times can I say extraordinary?

* Gold Coast predator, y'all.

STOPPAGE TIME: 5:01.

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Visit the Beachwood Radio Network for all our radio archives.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 2:48 PM | Permalink

The Weekend Desk Report

So for this holiday weekend, you'll pay more for diminished health? Maybe they should call this holiday Illinois Day.

Market Update
Must be nice to be Marriott, huh?

Memorial Day Special Edition
It's the unofficial start of summer, and for once we're not the ones getting screwed by the weather. How are you planning to spend your federallymandated time off?

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The Weekend Desk Tip Line: In memoriam.

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The Beachwood Radio Network

* The Beachwood Radio Hour: Mortgage Street.

The Chicago Reporter's Angela Caputo explains the foreclosure crisis through the prism of a single property on a block known as Mortgage Street. Plus: The Neighborhood Issue That Could Bring Down Rahm, Redflex Redux & Downstate's Dark History. In the weekly podcast of the world's wittiest Chicago-centric news and culture review.

* The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour.

The Blackhawks' Coach Queasy. Plus: Theo Doesn't Get It, Rick Renteria's Disconnected Optimism Wearing Thin & The Jed Hoyer Condescension Meter.

* The Beachwood Radio Criminal Justice Hour.

How Chicago's New Pot Law Is Bogus, How Roosevelt University's New Study Is Bogus, And How The Media Covers The Bogosity. With Tracy Siska of the Chicago Justice Project. Plus: The Week In Juvey.

Coming Monday:

* Beachwood International.

The hippest trip around the globe goes into production Saturday afternoon, to be posted by evening. Expected stops include:

  • The Bahamas, where the NSA is recorded every single cell phone call.
  • Abu Dhabi, where migrant workers building a New York University campus are living in slave labor conditions.
  • Rio, where drinking the water may be okay but falling into it could be hazardous to your health.
  • Thailand, where the military is taking over the government in a move the United States refuses to define as a coup.
  • Australia & New Zealand, where government leaders applaud the drone assassinations of their citizens by the U.S. without trial - or even charges.

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The Memorial Day Weekend Events Report:
* Unspoken Sacrifice and Unraveling Veterans.

* Surrealism And War.

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The Sound Opinions Weekend Listening Report: "In honor of Memorial Day and our brave men and women in service, Jim and Greg play Songs from the Front Lines. Later, they review the new album from Chris Martin and Coldplay."

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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.

Health Reform, Public Health & Health Planning Forum

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State of Illinois officials and experts examine the progress of efforts to reform healthcare and promote public health in the State, including expansions of Medicaid and implementation of the Affordable Care Act.

Sunday at 10:30 a.m. on CAN TV21.


Posted by Natasha Julius at 8:12 AM | Permalink

May 23, 2014

The [Friday] Papers

If you've been reading this space the last couple of days, you know I'm just trying to make it through this month in one piece. Then the Papers will return in full. Still, a lot to offer:

New In Juvey
From kangaroo courts to Canadian coat fires, this week's review of juvenile justice in the news.

Gun Violence Research
Dems push to re-start it.

Loose Ends From The Triple Crown Trail
Our very own Tom Chambers gets you up to speed. In TrackNotes.

Beachwood Photo Booth: Skokie Savanna
Enlarge for proper viewing.

The Week In Chicago Rock
Featuring: Oozing Wound, NYPC, Pelican, Panda Bear, Nazoranai, Jerry Garcia Symphonic Celebration, Elbow, Down, and Big Happy Face.

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The Beachwood Radio Hour
Production is underway!

This week's guests include:

* Angela Caputo of the Chicago Reporter explains how the foreclosure crisis continues to play out in Chicago's poor and working class neighborhoods, as told through the story of one home and one block. This is also the story of how City Hall essentially sides with the very banks that created the problem over real people whose lives have been thrown into chaos by those banks.

* Tracy Jake Siska of the Chicago Justice Project analyzes with great insight the city's (half-hearted) attempt to issue tickets for minor pot possession offenses instead of making arrests. This discussion was sparked by a Roosevelt University study released this week and discussed at a symposium on Monday about those efforts.

* Jim Coffman of the Beachwood Reporter takes on Queasy Coach Q and the Queasy Cubs in his weekly sports roundup.

* J.J. Tindall of the Beachwood Reporter reads a poem.

* And I'll play some music and round-up the rest of the week's news and items of interest.

Beachwood International
The hippest trip around the globe goes into production late Saturday afternoon. Expected stops include:

* The Bahamas, where the NSA is recorded every single cell phone call.

* Abu Dhabi, where migrant workers building a New York University campus are living in slave labor conditions.

* Rio, where drinking the water may be okay but falling into it could be hazardous to your health.

* Thailand, where the military is taking over the government in a move the United States refuses to define as a coup.

* Australia & New Zealand, where government leaders applaud the drone assassinations of their citizens by the U.S. without trial - or even charges.

Links and supporting materials will be provided for both shows when posted.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Double down.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:59 AM | Permalink

The Week In Chicago Rock

You shoulda been there.

1. Oozing Wound at the Empty Bottle on Tuesday night.


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2. NYPC at Reggies on Wednesday night.

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3. Pelican at the Owl on Monday night.

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4. Elbow at the House of Blues on Monday night.

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5. Jerry Garcia Symphonic Celebration at the Chicago Theatre on Tuesday night.

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6. Nazoranai at the Empty Bottle on Tuesday night.

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7. Panda Bear at Thalia Hall on Wednesday night.

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8. Down at the House of Blues on Tuesday night.

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9. Big Happy Face at the Elbo Room on Tuesday night.


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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 2:25 AM | Permalink

Democrats Push To Restart CDC Funding For Gun Violence Research

Two Congressional Democrats are unveiled legislation Wednesday that would restart the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's gun violence research efforts.

Since 1996, when a small CDC-funded study on the risks of owning a firearm ignited opposition from Republicans, the CDC's budget for research on firearms injuries has shrunk to zero.

The result, as we've detailed, is that many basic questions about gun violence - such as how many Americans are shot each year - remain unanswered.

The new legislation, which will be introduced by Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) in the House, and Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) in the Senate, would give the CDC $10 million a year "for the purpose of conducting or supporting research on firearms safety or gun violence prevention."

"In America, gun violence kills twice as many children as cancer, and yet political grandstanding has halted funding for public health research to understand this crisis," Maloney said in a statement.

A National Rifle Association spokeswoman called the push for new CDC funding "unethical."

"The abuse of taxpayer funds for anti-gun political propaganda under the guise of 'research' is unethical," spokeswoman Catherine Mortensen said in a statement to ProPublica. "That is why Congress should stand firm against President Obama's scheme to undermine a fundamental constitutional right."

Maloney, who co-sponsored the 1994 assault weapons ban, is a long-time gun control advocate. Earlier this year, she and Markey encouraged President Obama to include CDC funding in his proposed 2015 budget, which he did.

Obama's proposal has been opposed by key Republicans and, so far, Markey and Maloney's legislation has not attracted any Republican support. "On the House side, we have over 20 co-sponsors already. We do not have a Republican," Maloney said at a press conference Wednesday morning.

"The President's request to fund propaganda for his gun-grabbing initiatives though the CDC will not be included in the FY2015 appropriations bill," Rep. Jack Kingston (R-Ga.), chairman of the appropriations subcommittee that traditionally sets CDC funding, told ProPublica last month.

The CDC sponsors a wide variety of disease and injury prevention programs, focusing on everything from HIV/AIDS to averting falls by elderly people.

Since 2007, the CDC has spent less than $100,000 a year on firearms-focused work, according to a CDC spokeswoman. The money goes not for research but for a very rough annual estimate of the number of Americans injured by shootings.

The NRA's director of public affairs told CNN last year that more government-funded gun research is not needed.

"What works to reduce gun violence is to make sure that criminals are prosecuted and those who have been found to be a danger to themselves or others don't have access to firearms," Andrew Arulanandam said. "Not to carry out more studies."

Professional groups that represent doctors, including the American Medical Association, the American Psychological Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics, support the push for more research funding.

In a letter last summer, the associations wrote that "the dearth of gun violence research has contributed to the lack of meaningful progress in reducing firearm injuries," and noted that "firearm injuries are one of the top three causes of death among youth."

The CDC is not the only source of federal funding for gun violence research. The Justice Department - which has funded gun violence prevention studies since the 1980s - gave nearly $2 million to firearms violence projects last year, and is offering as much as $1.5 million in research funding this year.

The National Institutes of Health, which invests $30 billion in medical research each year, put out a call last fall for new research projects on gun violence prevention. It's not yet clear how much money the NIH will devote to the research; the NIH will announce the gun violence projects it will fund in September and December, a spokeswoman said

A report last year from experts convened by the federally funded Institute of Medicine outlined the current priorities for research on reducing gun violence. Among the questions that need answers, according to the report: How often do Americans successfully use guns to protect themselves each year? Could improved "smart gun" technologies reduce gun deaths and injuries, and will consumers be willing to adopt them? And would universal background checks - the most popular and prominent gun control policy proposal - actually reduce gun violence?

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Previously: Why Don't We Know How Many People Are Shot Each Year In America?

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Comments welcome.


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 1:43 AM | Permalink

TrackNotes: Loose Ends From The Triple Crown Trail

Every bacchanal demands a cleanup.

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New drinking game: Take a pop every time you hear "California Chrome ('Chrome for us hipsters) is America's Horse."

You do have to admire him after victory in the 139th Preakness Stakes propels him on the odyssey of seeking Thoroughbred horse racing's Triple Crown.

'Chrome, with Victor Espinoza aboard, ran a nearly identical race to his victory in the Kentucky Derby two weeks before. I say nearly because the son of Lucky Pulpit required a bursting turn of foot on Pimlico's far backstretch to keep himself out of trouble and traffic as he bided his time before the big money run down the stretch. Another new twist was his relative serenity in the starting gate, usually a hellhole for him. He still didn't like it, but at least he wasn't trying to tear it apart weld by weld as in the past.

Once again, he tucked in behind the early leaders, Pablo Del Monte and the filly Ria Antonia - two of the more improbable pacesetters - showing the world he never needs to be the number one seed. Nearing the end of the backstretch, Espinoza asked and California Chrome obliged to a slight downshift and pedal punch that kept him from getting bottled up and requiring the scenic route to get free.

Once he reached the home stretch, 'Chrome accelerated and took an insurmountable lead. Ride On Curlin did his best to make a race of it and might have run down many other horses, but California Chrome had all the space he needed. Social Inclusion, green and rank, was a nervous wreck before the race, obviously spooked by the crowd and lathered in sweat. But his third-place finish has to bode well for him this summer.

'Chrome has arrived at Belmont Park and reportedly had a very nice gallop mid-week. But there will be plenty of time to talk about the Test of Champions soon, down the line.

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I felt like Otis Campbell all day. Just as Otis incredulously asked anyone and everyone why Barney threw the tomato at him, I kept asking why NBCSports Network and NBC itself did not show any of the other races on the Preakness undercard.

I understand that I am going to see the same features on the broadcast network after the switch from premium cable, but not only was the beating of the same dead . . . story line of California Chrome's rag-to-riches saga tedious and grating, NBC didn't even break it up by showing the other races. Almost simultaneously with the starting gate bell for one of the stakes races, NBC went to a commercial break!

Upon reentry, they immediately went back to Chrome's humble beginnings. AGAIN! The three Triple Crown days are each filled with good races that can give all fans, casual or not, a good feel for the sport. So help me God, if they do the same thing on Belmont Stakes Day. Belmont has loaded the card with five Grade I races besides the Belmont, including the Metropolitan Handicap, the Ogden Phipps and the Acorn. Sure, I can watch them all on the Bozoputer, but if NBC doesn't show them, why do they even send the taking heads?

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Amid all the buzz and revelry on the trophy stand after the race, Steve Coburn, part owner of California Chrome, became my new biggest hero. As Raven Mane Robby Costas spooned up the softballs, Coburn let out with a blast at Churchill Downs personnel for the lack of hospitality they apparently showed the Dumb Ass Partners stable group (that's really their name) during Derby week.

It was pointed, jaw dropping, and truly impressive: "All I can say is my partner (in California Chrome), Perry Martin, is a very private person," Coburn said. "And Perry, I hope you're listening to this because we love you and really wanted you to be here. But I can understand why he's not here. The hospitality we received at Churchill Downs wasn't very good, and Perry decided he and his family were going to watch the race somewhere else in the world."

Apparently, the keepers of the Kentucky Derby showed little inclination in helping Martin's elderly mother get around before, during and after the Derby was run.

Coburn, much like his horse did at the finish line in front of him, drove the point home after the Preakness.

"I'm serious about this. I'm serious as a heart attack. We got to Churchill and not only did I complain, but there were other trainers, owners, and even jockeys complaining about the way they were treated. I've said this once, I've said it 50 times - Churchill Downs needs to call Maryland to get a lesson in hospitality. Because these people right here, they've treated us like royalty, and I can't say thank you enough."

Even Louisville columnist Mark Coomes had some choice words for his hometown corporate behemoth:

Owners and trainers have quietly stewed for years about inflated prices, sparse tickets and austere amenities provided to the people whose animals stage the sport's greatest show - and the signature event of Churchill Downs Inc.

It's a long story, but Coomes nutshells it. Always remember, Churchill Downs Inc. owns Arlington Park. We are not immune. We too suffer.

(Editor's Note: For more on this particular sore spot, listen to Tom on The Beachwood Radio Hour #5: Lost Faith In A Ruined Sport. His segment begins at 17:46.)

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The annual hand wringing over the supreme demands put upon a horse and his connections to win the Triple Crown rose up again this year around Preakness time, this time raised by officials of Pimlico itself.

Pimlico is complaining about how trainers and owners don't like to run their horses again two weeks after Kentucky Derby weekend and skip the festivities at Preakness time. Make it easier, they say, by putting a month between races. That is today's reality, but they need to be a little more creative.

Just because today's horsemen are more interested in stud fees and horse sales doesn't mean they have to mess with a sport that has existed since horses became horses. The Triple Crown tradition has absolutely no equal in American sports.

As national handicapper Mike Watchmaker of the Daily Racing Form observed, as Pimlico's undercard on both Black-Eyed Susan and Preakness days are constructed, race conditions are near carbon copies of Churchill's Oaks and Derby card, making it somewhat desirable in this day and age of coddled horses to skip Preakness weekend and move on to Belmont day or beyond.

Watchmaker suggested throwing in more turf races and/or sprints on Preakness weekend. The Triple Crown contenders will always run the Preakness.

Baseball and its legions of lazy, indifferent players has ruined that game. NBA basketball doesn't get good until the finals, if then. NFL football is nothing more than a made-for-TV video game with on-the-fly rules legislation.

A horse has to be special to win the Triple Crown, to truly become an America's Horse. We still talk about them all, remember them all, in reverent tones. We still reminisce about the what ifs of the ones who fall one race short.

I know the Chicago Bears won the 1985 Super Bowl in 1986. After that, don't ask me who won what when. Do we remember any of the scores of other Super winners?

We do remember Sir Barton, Gallant Fox, Omaha, War Admiral, Whirlaway, Count Fleet, Assault, Citation, Secretariat, Seattle Slew and Affirmed. It's easy to remember them, because they're forever special.

We must keep it so.

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

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:52 AM | Permalink

Beachwood Photo Booth: Skokie Savanna

Giraffe vs. car.

giraffeskokiesportparkorig.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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Listen to Helene talk about Photo Booth; starts at 57:54.

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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.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Deluxe Cleaners.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Marie's Golden Cue.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Die Another Day.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Sears Key Shop.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Window Dressing.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Jeri's Grill.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Barry's Drugs.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Liberty.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Kitchen.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Golden Specials.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: We Won The Cup.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Bartender Man.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Blue Plane Blues.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Finest Quality.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Family Guy.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Girls Wanted.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:38 AM | Permalink

May 22, 2014

The [Thursday] Papers

Like I said yesterday, I'm totally squeezed between now and the end of the month. So no Papers column again today - and so much I'm missing, I know - but a full Beachwood elsewhere on the site and, of course, a social media presence that does half the job (thought not all, I know) of the Papers anyway.

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ProPublica: Blame Obama For Tepid Financial Reform
Venerable investigative outfit determines it was Obama who didn't want change.

Albini In Toyland
Plus: Loopy Lupe, Finding Little Miss Cornshucks & Golden Eagle Greg Kot. In Local Music Notebook.

Tweeting Samardzija
Writing comedy is all Cubs fans have left.

Gay Steelworkers And The Real Duncan Hines
Plus: Naperville Book Store Welcomes Famous Racist, Sexist & Growing Up Goose Island. In Local Book Notes.

Memorial Day Is Super Early For Some Reason
Here's two things you can do about it.

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BeachBook
* Nebraska Watchdog Won't Cover Pete Ricketts' Campaign For Governor Because He Gave Them Money.

Yes, that Ricketts.

* Climate Change Denier Sponsors Chicago Dream House Raffle.

* Chicago Mind Kontrol 2014.

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TweetWood

The best predictor of future behavior is past performance . . .

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It's not just inside baseball; the person who edits the New York Times leads a hugely influential institution and helps set a national (and international) news agenda. That person's judgement affects people in America's malls and grocery stores - those, for example, whose kids will go fight wars based on lies that the Times could and should have exposed.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Vowels are free.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:26 AM | Permalink

Tweeting Samardzija

The Cubs should thank their lucky stars for Twitter, because without it watching this wretched mess would be unbearable.

To wit:

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:47 AM | Permalink

Memorial Day Is Super Early This Year For Some Reason

Here are two things you can do about it.

1. Museum & Library honors veterans with free lineup of events for Memorial Day / Tribute includes exclusive free access to new exhibit on U.S. Navy SEALs.

"The Pritzker Military Museum & Library will celebrate Memorial Day on May 24 with several free offerings for the public, including a military genealogy talk, drop-in oral history sessions, a movie matinee, and free access to the new SEAL: The Unspoken Sacrifice exhibit.

"The Museum & Library also will participate in the city of Chicago's annual Memorial Day Parade by sponsoring a float dedicated to the men and women who have served in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

"From 10 a.m. until 4 p.m., all patrons will be granted free regular admission to the Museum & Library and access to its full range of resources, including the newly unveiled SEAL: The Unspoken Sacrifice exhibit.

"Featuring more than 80 intimate photographs of SEALs and their families by Stephanie Freid-Perenchio, the exhibit also includes a wide range of artifacts on loan from the Navy SEAL Museum in Fort Pierce, Florida, a rare book display from the Museum & Library's collection, and an official U.S. Navy photo exhibit memorializing fallen SEALs from 2001 to the present day.

"At 10:30 a.m., genealogist Jennifer Holik will discuss her work and offer advice for those interested in pursuing a more complete history of family members who have served in the U.S. military.

"Holik, who has conducted extensive research using the Museum & Library's resources, is the author of To Soar with the Tigers and the recently published Stories of the Lost. Learn more or reserve your seat here.

"Throughout the day, veterans and those who have actively supported the military are encouraged to share their stories of service with the Museum & Library's Holt Oral History Program, which seeks to preserve the history and heritage of citizen soldiers through firsthand accounts of their experiences.

"Participants will be interviewed in the Museum & Library's private Coleman T. Holt Oral History room, where state of the art technology is used to capture and later share these important oral histories.

"Other free activities include hourly guided tours by Museum & Library staff and a big-screen showing of Tears of the Sun at 1 p.m., as part of the regularly scheduled Saturday Matinee Series."

2. The world premiere of a new play with a revealing look at how duty alters the lives of the men and women who serve. Five veteran's stories from Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq weave together a common theme of strength, courage and camaraderie.

"In 2006, Chicago Danztheatre Ensemble created Unraveling Bill, a 15-minute performance about Theresa Blake's brother Bill, who committed suicide shortly after returning from military service in Iraq. Bill's suicide sent ripples of pain and destruction through his family and community.

"Injury Prevention published a study in March of 2012, which found that between 2004 and 2008, the rate of American soldier suicide increased by 80%.

"Chicago Danztheatre Ensemble is expanding Unraveling Bill to include more veterans and their families stories called Unraveling Veterans which will illustrate a more complete description of veterans' needs, presence, and the true cost of war."

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:33 AM | Permalink

Local Book Notes: Gay Steelworkers, Goose Island And The Real Duncan Hines

1. Professor's Book On Gay Steelworkers Is Must-Read.

2. Duncan Hines Was A Real Guy, And Kind Of A Jerk.

3. Naperville Author's Photo Totally Not Retouched.

4. Another Author Believes We Don't Yet Have Enough Books About Lincoln.

5. Lincoln Memorial Also Gets A New Book.

6. Goose Island Writer With Neighborhood Values Was Once A CIA Spook.

7. Local Author's Press Release Blog Post Totally Not Written In Third Person.

8. Jesse Jackson Jr. Has Already Written Two Books In Prison.

9. Famous Author Whose Latest Book Exposes Secret Manipulations Of Financial Industry Secretly Speaks To Financial Industry.

10. The Working Man's Reward: Chicago's Early Suburbs and the Roots of American Sprawl.

11. A Transplanted Chicago: Race, Place and Press in Iowa City.

12. Naperville Book Store Welcomes Famously Racist, Sexist Comedian.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 5:38 AM | Permalink

Local Music Notebook: Albini In Toyland

"Honestly, the biggest problem with music has always been the encroachment of outside industry into what functions best as a self-sufficient community, and that hasn't changed," Steve Albini tells Maureen Herman in a fresh interview this month at Boing Boing.

The difference is that now the record business is only a small influence relative to the corporate influence over live venues, ticket sales, merchandising and sponsorship.

To the extent bands keep their shit together and manage their own affairs, now is a better time than ever to be in a band.

You can record really efficiently, put a video on YouTube, release albums on Bandcamp, sell your merchandise using PayPal, fund bigger projects on Kickstarter, press up your own albums, book your own tours and keep all the money. It's totally conceivable to run a band as a small business now, and that's a new and radical development.

Anybody complaining about the new paradigm has simply refused to take advantage of it, and for a street-level musician the change in the industry has been fantastic.

Whenever I see some industry dinosaur pining for the old days of the sharecropper system the big labels operated on I feel about the same way I did watching the Quincy episode about punk rock.

Bitching about how different things are now betrays a profound and malignant kind of stupid.

I highly recommend reading the entire interview.

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"Maureen Herman is a writer and executive director of Project Noise, a nonprofit that serves to amplify the impact of nonprofits and raise awareness about critical social issues.

"She is the former bassist of Reprise/Warner Bros. recording artists Babes in Toyland and was previously Associate Editor of Musician magazine.

"She lives in Los Angeles with her Awesome and Adorable daughter."

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From Neal Karlen's pretty awesome Babes in Toyland: The Making and Selling of a Rock and Roll Band:

By day, Maureen Herman worked as a secretary to the chairman of the English department at Chicago's Columbia College and tutored students in the college computer lab. By night she played bass guitar in a bar band called Cherry Rodriguez and studied for her degree in film.

Maureen had gotten to know Babes in Toyland when she'd lived in Minneapolis a year or two before and attended the University of Minnesota. Her boyfriends there were big shots on the local music scene. Mo never played an instrument, she just hung around with the handsome men who did. Though always very talented and relatively successful, these boyfriends, unfortunately, were still musicians.

And then, while coed Mo was living with a leader of the Minneapolis punk kings the Cows, it hit her. She didn't want to live any longer off the rock-and-roll glow generated by these egomaniacal puds. Shy Mo, in the most daring act of her life, went out and bought a guitar. No one noticed on the local music scene, because she was a girl, and because she was Maureen, the girlfriend.

In time she joined a Minneapolis bar band, but she ultimately decided to move home to Chicago because she hated the heroin scene then enveloping the Minneapolis music community.

Despite her day job in academe, Maureen just seemed like a bass player. Like the archetypal bass players, the Rolling Stones' Bill Wyman and the Who's John Entwistle, Maureen was tall, laconic, and reserved, a musician who preferred to hang on the side of the stage while her band mates showed off.

Maureen was quiet, but she was also blazingly funny. Her humor translated best on paper, and she delighted in writing satires and parodies for her writing classes. Growing up as the second youngest child of a schoolteacher and a corporate executive, she hung out in high school with the literary crowd, and, like [original Babes bassist] Michelle Leon, had fancied herself a junior anarchist. Back then she'd busied herself writing incendiary editorials for the school newspaper and short stories for herself.

Lori [Barbero] and Kat [Bjelland] invited Maureen up to Minneapolis for an audition; after playing for them once, she was offered the job as bass player for Babes in Toyland. Yes, Maureen said, she wanted in.

I highly recommend the book.

Loopy Lupe
"The U.S. national team is set to receive an injection of hip-hop beats and a lyrical hype ahead of next month's World Cup in Brazil."

Uh-oh.

"U.S. Soccer announced on Tuesday the signing of Grammy Award-winning recording artist Lupe Fiasco as music director for the USMNT's run through the upcoming Send-Off Series and 2014 World Cup.

"Building on the One Nation. One Team. theme, Fiasco will collaborate with U.S. Soccer in a variety of areas over the next six weeks. He will also create a public Spotify playlist and handle in-game music programming during the Send-Off Series,"

Oh, good; I know I couldn't get properly psyched over the next six weeks without a public Spotify playlist as my soundtrack.

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Here's what Michael Hann of the Guardian had to say about it:

It being the United States, they don't have pre-World Cup friendlies, they have the "Send-off Series," with Google+ Hangouts with players, public training sessions, invitations to the public to share messages of support via social media, an intriguing event called "Men in Blazers at the Town Hall," and - lest we forget - three games, against Azerbaijan, Turkey and Nigeria. Naturally, that needs a music director.

And who better than Chicago MC Lupe Fiasco, who "will be creating Spotify playlists, in collaboration with his DJ group the SNDCLSH, and handle in-game music programming during the Send-off Series."

Because, as everyone who's ever been to a football match knows, the best part of the experience is the music that gets played over the PA at half-time, the crowd sitting in rapt silence (though there's a fighting chance Lupe might buck the trend and play neither Tina Turner's "The Best" nor the Fratellis' "Chelsea Dagger").

But what else will he do? "Fiasco will appear in Times Square, in New York, during Fan Appreciation Day on 30 May, and he will hold a music set in Chicago at the U.S. Soccer Fan fest prior to the USA's match against Ghana on 16 June."

But for all this work, what does the poor man get out of it for himself? How selfless must he be? "U.S. Soccer is working to promote Fiasco's new single, "Mission," during the Send-off Series." Ah, as you were/

To be fair, "Mission" is a song designed to boost cancer research, though I liked Lupe better before he (seemingly) swore off real politics.

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See also: The Ghosts Of Lupe Fiasco's West Side.

Who Is Little Miss Cornshucks?
"A rustle of paper as the sleeve is removed. A clunk and click as the needle arm is swung across. The needle hits the vinyl, bringing it to life. At first there's a lot of crackling in the ether. Then at last the music begins. A sultry saxophone. A few notes on the guitar, slow, low and relaxed. At last the voice enters.

"It's not at all what you would expect from that swing band opening. The voice is strong, unmelodic, harsh almost, but so passionate you're drawn in straight away. We're told it's Little Miss Cornshucks. She's singing a version of 'Try A Little Tenderness' that sounds just as good, if not better, than Otis Redding's amazing version from 1966.

Who is she? You might well ask. Salena Godden went in search of her and ended up in Chicago, as we found out on Tuesday morning on Radio 4 in Try a Little Tenderness: The Lost Legacy of Little Miss Cornshucks."

You'll have to click through to follow the journey.

Golden Eagle
Some Marquette students made a video/short film about one of their alums - veteran Tribune rock critic Greg Kot. Check out the record stacks he has in his home.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 3:51 AM | Permalink

May 21, 2014

ProPublica: The Buck Stops With Obama On Tepid Financial Reform

Examining the new book by former Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, Jesse Eisinger writes for ProPublica's "The Trade" and The New York Times's "DealBook" that the reluctance to push for serious change in the financial system after the 2008 meltdown can be traced to the very top: President Obama.

The flaws we thought we were seeing during Mr. Geithner's tenure turn out to have replicated themselves in other Obama departments, Eisinger writes. And they have persisted after Mr. Geithner left.

He goes on to note:

  • Favored Obama appointees seem to share certain qualities: They work within the system, they don't like to ruffle feathers or pick fights, and they keep their profiles low.
  • For example, at the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, the outspoken Sheila Bair was replaced with the low-profile Martin J. Gruenberg. Gary S. Gensler, the tough chairman of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, didn't get nominated to a second term. The new head of the S.E.C., Mary Jo White, has been disappointing on regulatory questions.
  • Geithner was consistent in his hostility to significant action, at least: He writes of his opposition to the Volcker Rule -- which prohibits banks that take taxpayer-insured deposits from speculating for their own account - saying he accepted it only in a "purely legislative calculation" that it would help the overall Dodd-Frank reform package pass. (This admission comes only three pages after his praise of "the impressive extent to which policy trumped politics in the Obama administration.")

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See also:

The Wall Street Money Machine.

"As the housing market started to fade, bankers and hedge funds scrambled for ways to maintain the lavish bonuses and profits they had become so accustomed to, repackaging mortgages in complex securities called collateralized debt obligations. The booming CDO market masked how weak the housing market was, and exacerbated its collapse."

Including:

* The Rise Of Corporate Impunity.

* How Bank Of America Execs Hid Their Losses - In Their Own Words.

* How A Handful Of Merrill Lynch Bankers Blew Up Their Own Firm.

* Banks' Self-Dealing Super-Charged Financial Crisis.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 11:40 AM | Permalink

The [Wednesday] Papers

I have a reporting project coming to a head and I'm also moving at the end of the month, so things may get spotty for the next 10 days. At least there's social media.

BeachBook
* RedFlex Caught Using Violation Calculator In Virginia.

Red light camera vendor uses a spreadsheet to calculate profit based on engineering deficiencies such as short yellow time.

And:

Redflex Traffic Systems uses a special spreadsheet to calculate precisely how much profit a city can expect from red light cameras on an intersection-by-intersection basis.

* Changes To Surveillance Bill Stoke Anger.

Leaders of both parties in the House of Representatives, at the Obama administration's request, have changed a surveillance overhaul bill that restricts the power of the government to obtain Americans' records in bulk.

A revised version of the bill was unveiled on Tuesday, and the House may vote on it this week.

Several civil liberties groups that had backed a previous version argued that the changes weakened the limits in a way that leaves the door open for the government to obtain enormous volumes of records. They said they were withdrawing their support.

The bill is called The U.S.A. Freedom Act.

* How The NSA Is Transforming Law Enforcement.

If you've been imagining NSA surveillance as something distant, with analysts sitting in remote data centers quietly analyzing metadata - stop now. NSA surveillance has become a part of day-to-day law enforcement fabric in the United States.

* Blame Auletta.

Most of what you've read about the firing of Jill Abramson is wrong.

* The Cubs' Last Link To A World Series Doesn't Have Much Time Left, Theo.

There were always plans to return to Wrigley for the next World Series, Merullo said. When Chicago looked to be close - in 1969, 1984 and 2003 - Jean, his wife of 73 years, bought new outfits for the trip. Each time, she returned them as some calamity befell the Cubs.

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TweetWood

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Far from being silenced, it's been well-documented by now to the point of ad nauseum that climate-change deniers have gotten far more consideration than they merit, thanks to a confused and gutless media which has now struck again. Will the Tribune publish my Op-Ed next week on how the science isn't settled on the existence of the Tribune?

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Settle a score.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:43 AM | Permalink

May 20, 2014

The [Tuesday] Papers

"In an era when some U.S. Olympic athletes have turned to crowd source funding to pay for their training, the top brass at the U.S. Olympic Committee is doing better than ever financially," the Tribune reports.

"In 2013, nine USOC officials earned more than $200,000 in base salary, up from seven people a year earlier, and seven had total compensation of more than $300,000, according to the USOC 2013 tax filing made public Monday.

"Atop the list is chief executive Scott Blackmun, whose base salary and bonuses for the last two years total approximately $2 million."

So a national version of the Illinois High School Association, as documented by the Sun-Times.

In his 1992 book Work of Nations, Robert Reich described the informal agreement between the three-legged stool that propelled the American economy in the post-war years - business, labor and government - that kept executive salaries, wages and regulation in relative balance.

That structure was blown apart by the Reagan-era ethos surmising that greed was good - for everybody. Ever since, we've been living in a deranged economic world and stories like this are the result. When the message is to simply take what you can get, those who can do just that will. Hence, the looting of America. It's an inside job.

Sweet Sucker
"An Obama library on Chicago's South Side would, according to an economic study done for the University of Chicago, lure enough visitors for 30 restaurants and 11 retailers nearby; create demand for a new hotel near the site; bolster state and local tax revenues, and spur other development and jobs," Lynn Sweet "reports" for the Sun-Times.

Will they ever learn? It's the Olympics all over again.

"The University of Chicago commissioned a consulting firm, the Anderson Economic Group, to forecast the Chicago impact of an Obama presidential library and museum near its Hyde Park campus in advance of the looming June 16 deadline for submitting bids."

Institution bidding for taxpayer-subsidized vanity project commissions study to show how awesome said project would be and, voila, study shows just that!

"I've exclusively obtained an abridged version of the Anderson report."

You might as well write "I was chosen as stooge."

Sweet's report merely repeats all the wonderful made-up numbers in the report without any analysis or critical evaluation - and fails to provide the methodology, which I'm sure isn't nearly rigorous enough to even get a freshman admitted to the University of Chicago.

Paging Allen Sanderson, who always vets these things as a reality check and then is always promptly ignored, because facts are no fun.

Lobby Hobby
"Cook County's chief watchdog wants to tighten up lobbying rules after finding that 'rogue lobbyists' are ignoring requirements to register or report their activities," the Tribune reports.

"People selling products to the government escape from all lobbying requirements under a 'loophole' in the county lobbyist ordinance, concluded Inspector General Patrick Blanchard in a report released today."

Rules are for little people; loopholes are for big people.

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"Blanchard's team compared lobbyist reports to sign-in logs at county government. They also interviewed county officials and employees. The office found 58 instances where lobbying activity went unreported during a 21-month period that ended last December. The unreported activities included lobbying by people who did not register, and by lobbyists who did not report all of their activities, the report states."

There's a simple way to fix this: Make violating the rules hurt. Consider democracy so sacred that breaking the public trust costs more than a ticket for an expired meter.

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"The number of unreported activities is probably low, because nearly 700 sign-in signatures were unreadable . . . "

Oh, come on. That's just 700 coincidences.

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" . . . and some lobbyists were able to ply their trade in ways that aren't easily tracked. For example, lobbyists who enter county offices through a door behind the board room dais don't have to sign in . . . "

They do have to bring a gift, though.

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" . . . and sometimes lobbyists simply lean over 'the rail' to bend a commissioner's ear during meetings."

But haven't they already signed-in? Oh yeah, forgot.

Future Shock
The fundamental premise of Theo's Plan is wrong: We don't care about sustained success. We just wanna win it once. After that, we're willing to wait another 100 years.

In The Cub Factor.

16 Tons Of Dark Downstate History
Gun battles, bombings and assassinations.

Empty Bottle Blackout
HoZac Fest highlights.

Blue Line Blues
No i-Phone, ear-buds,
Tabloid or book.

In Chicagoetry.

Chicago 2-1-2
The TV pilot America wouldn't buy.

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TweetWood

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Including reporters

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Set a record.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:56 AM | Permalink

Sixteen Tons Of Dark Downstate History

"Mother Jones once proclaimed Illinois to be 'the best-organized labor state in America,' and the people of the Illinois coalfields - where Kevin Corley's enjoyable new novel Sixteen Tons takes place - were always at the center of the action," David Markwell writes for Labor Notes.

At the beginning of the nationwide coal strike of 1897, only 400 Illinois miners were members of the United Mine Workers of America. By the strike's conclusion, the number stood at 30,000.

The following year owners of the Chicago-Virden Coal Company brought in non-union miners from out of state. The effort to land them prompted a confrontation known in popular local history as the "Virden Mine Riot." A number of security guards and striking miners were shot dead, and many more were injured.

But the non-union miners never got off the train, and the gains made by the 1897 strike (higher wages, union recognition) were solidified. At her request, Mother Jones was later buried in the only union-owned cemetery in America, with the striking miners who died at Virden.

Illinois miners later grew dissatisfied with what they saw as the autocratic rule of United Mine Workers President John L. Lewis. They and their families formed the breakaway union Progressive Miners of America in 1932 to get grassroots control over union decision-making.

Sixteen Tons is grounded in this historical context. Beginning in the aftermath of the 1897 strike, the book traces several decades of trying times for the Vacca family, Italian immigrants to Illinois.

Click through for the rest of Markwell's review.

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"Sixteen Tons carries you down into the dark, dirty and dangerous coal mines of the early 1900s, as Italian immigrant Antonio Vacca and his sons encounter cave-ins and fires deep below the earth's surface," publisher Hardball Press says.

"The dangers above ground are equally deadly, as the men and women battle gun thugs, corrupt sheriffs and crooked politicians at Virden, Matewan and Ludlow in an epic struggle to form a union and make the mines a safer place to work.

"Historian Kevin Corley has fashioned a unique novel by interviewing retired miners, their wives and children across the country throughout Illinois. He has used these oral histories to fashion an honest, accurate portrait of life among the coal mining families. You will be moved by the dramatic events in the novel, which are all the more moving and inspiring, given their foundation among real individuals who walked through history."

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"History is not just about kings and queens and presidents," Corley says on the book's website.

"It is about the anonymous men and women who made events happen. Lest we forget the sacrifices our working class ancestors made, let us all do everything we can to honor and remember them.

"As a teacher of history I was always pleased when students were able to understand how the organization of labor during the industrial age had effected their own families.

"I taught in central Illinois where many of the student's parents and grandparents had witnessed or sometimes even took part in gun battles, bombings and assassinations in the war to gain the right to have collective bargaining and union representation. Memories of the coal mine wars of the first half of the 20th century still linger in many of these communities.

"Fighting forward through working class studies is dependent on keeping these histories alive. One way that we can do this is through oral history. Armed with little more than a tape-recorder students can preserve their families' heritage and at the same time learn the valuable history lessons that their elders would love to share."

You'll want to click through for the photos alone.

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Kevin Corley on Facebook.

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See also: Greg Boozell's MineWar.org.

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Sixteen Tons by Tennessee Ernie Ford.

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Sixteen Tons by Jeff Beck and ZZ Top.

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Sixteen Tons by Johnny Cash.

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Sixteen Tons by Tom Morello.

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Sixteen Tons by Merle Travis.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:07 AM | Permalink

Cavalcade of America: Chicago 2-1-2

According to Jack Sullivan, who uploaded this to YouTube on Monday, this aired in 1957 as a pilot that was not bought.


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The IMDB plot summary by David Bassler:

"A Chicago fire investigator attempts to apprehend the arsonist who has set a series of blazes in run-down buildings near the river. He suspects that the perpetrator might be part of the throng of on-lookers that gawk at the firefighters battling the blazes. When a deaf woman is seriously injured in one of the torched buildings, the inspector redoubles his efforts to arrest the firebug before one of his blazes results in death."

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The clip has been uploaded and commented on before.

Whet Moser of Chicago magazine called the show "the proto-Chicago Fire" in 2012.

Lee Bey, then of WBEZ, wrote in 2011 that "54 Years Ago, The Chicago Code Was 2-1-2," which isn't actually an apt comparison.

As Moser noted, 2-1-2 "celebrates a time when men were men, public-safety officials were stiff bureaucrats in gray suits, and propaganda was really boring."

Chicago Code, on the other hand, was about a time when the police chief was a woman, public-safety officials were thoroughly corrupt, and Delroy Lindo was perhaps the best Chicago alderman portrayed on camera.

2-1-2 does feature "Square-jawed, intense, no-nonsense Frank Lovejoy [who] played a succession of detectives, street cops, reporters, soldiers and such over his career," according to IMDB.

We'll take Lindo.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:28 AM | Permalink

Empty Bottle Blackout

The HoZac Blackout Fest happened at the Empty Bottle over the weekend. Here are some highlights, thanks to the YouTube uploads of the indispensable seijinlee, whose channel you can subscribe to here.

1. First Base on Friday night.


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2. The Boys on Friday night.

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3. Counter Intuits on Thursday night.

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4. Nones on Thursday night.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:00 AM | Permalink

Future Shock

One of Theo Epstein's constant refrains is that the pain we are going through now is the price we have to pay for "sustained success" in the future.

But what if we don't care about sustained success in the future?

Worrying about sustained success in the future is for normal franchises. These are the Cubs. We've suffered enough. We just want to win it once. After that, who cares? We'll be more than happy to wait another 100-plus years.

This is what Theo doesn't understand. Sustained success isn't what Cubs fandom is about. That ship has sailed. It's about that one moment. Win us a World Series first; then we can think about sustained success.

Because you don't truly understand this franchise, Theo, and in particular how it differs from the Red Sox and their championship drought, you are putting the cart that is future before the horse that is the present.

Sustained success, see, is for later. Winning is for now.

In that vein, I'd like to dedicate this week's Cub Factor to Betty J. Soedler, of Locust Grove, Virginia. We lost Betty nine days ago.

"Her two biggest regrets were that the Minnesota Vikings did not win the Super Bowl and the Chicago Cubs did not win the World Series during her lifetime."

She couldn't live long enough to see your plan through, Theo.

The rest of us - like the plan itself - aren't guaranteed either.

The Week In Review: The Cubs lost two of three to the Cardinals with another game postponed due to rain, then actually took two of three from the division-leading Brewers to win a series for just the second time this season. They won't do it again.

The Week In Preview: The Yankees come in for two, which means the unimaginative local press corps will revisit (and absolve) Alfonso Soriano again, before the Cubs head west for four in San Diego, where the Andrew Cashner-for-Anthony Rizzo trade will be (absolved and) rehashed.

Wrigley Is 100 Celebration: To honor their esteemed ballpark's centenary birthday, the Cubs will make the final 11 games of the month seem like 100.

Today In Cubs History: "In 1971, Peter Cetera, bass player and vocalist with [the band] Chicago, was beaten by three men at a Chicago Cubs game, apparently because they didn't like the length of his hair. Cetera lost four teeth and required five hours of surgery."

Jed Condescension Meter: 10.

Mike Olt isn't playing every day because Luis Valbuena is "a really good player. "

Um, Jed, does your butt ever get jealous of the shit that comes out of your mouth?

"The Oakland A's, they're getting Miguel Cabrera-like performance out of their catchers with Derek Norris and John Jaso just strict platooning. If one of those guys was a prospect and the other wasn't, would the fans be going crazy because one guy wasn't playing enough?"

No, because the fans in Oakland are watching a contender. Here in Chicago, we're paying to watch prospects. You can't have it both ways.

Prospects Are Suspects: "[W]e are nearing the point in the season where the sample size is significant enough to validate the concerns about his offensive struggles," Baseball Prospectus says of Javy Baez.

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One of the guys on Sports Talk Live, Mark Grote or Mark Schanowski or Jason Goch, not sure which, but I saw it, said that several people in the game who are watching told him that Jorge Soler will not be a star. (If anyone has the video or the date, let me know.)

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"Last season, Vogelbach hit .284 (123-for-433) with 17 homers, 71 RBI and a .364 on-base percentage with the Daytona Cubs and the Kane County (Illinois) Cougars of the Midwest League," the Fort Myers News-Press reports.

"He entered the series against the Miracle hitting .242 (31-for-128) with two homers, 13 RBI and a .319 on-base percentage this season."

That's Ricky: "Before the Cubs played the Milwaukee Brewers on Friday, manager Rick Renteria took exception to the contention that his team hadn't played well behind starting pitcher Jeff Samardzija. 'I beg to differ,' he said."

Samardzija is 0-4 with a 1.62 ERA.

Laughable Headline Of The Week: Cubs Lose In 12th On Walkoff HBP.

That's not even laughable as much as a laugh.

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Alternate: Cubs Hope Kris Bryant Can Change Conversation, Stopping Talk About Future.

Right. The Cubs hope that in the future Kris Bryant will be good enough to get us to stop talking about the future.

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Alternate: Cubs' Situational Hitting A Bright Spot In 3-0 Victory Over Brewers.

Because the "situational hitting" described is spare parts Emilio Bonafacio and Chris Coghlan bunting at fielding-challenged Matt Garza in the game's first two at-bats.

"Today was a good development day," Renteria said.

Really. He said that.

Mad Merch: Tuesday and Wednesday are Joe Girardi Bobblehead Days. Except there is no bobblehead, just Girardi in the Yankees dugout where he was always gonna be, despite hometown reporters with fake sources and delusionary wonderment that Joe would want to stay with a backsliding team that happens to be in first place instead of the up-and-coming Cubs who happen to be in last place.

Billy Cub vs. Clark Cub: "With new team mascot Clark the Cub on hand this morning, the Cubs also gave out T-shirts to those who showed up this morning ready to watch paint dry."

Advantage: Billy.

The Junior Lake Show: All Junior did was get on base in all six games last week, including a 3-for-6 performance with one HR and six RBI against the Cardinals and a pinch-hit walk against the Brewers. All told: 8-for-21 with 2 HRs and eight RBI.

The Outfield: "According to ESPN Stats & Information, Cubs outfielders have a .289 on-base percentage, second worst in baseball," Jesse Rogers reports for ESPN Chicago.

:Their .639 OPS is third worst. Their 24.7 strikeout percentage is third highest and their 5.9 walk percentage is fourth lowest. Their six home runs are the fewest in the National League. When Junior Lake (five home runs) doesn't start and with Justin Ruggiano (one homer) on the disabled list, the Cubs' outfield has zero home runs."

The Tribune's Mark Gonzales says "Simply, the outfield situation has been a bad miscalculation by the front office."

Mustache Wisdom: "At the conclusion of pinch-hitter Jon Jay's 10-pitch walk, Bourjos stole third off pitcher Carlos Villanueva with such ease that fans could be forgiven for forgetting he wasn't standing on it before the pitch."

Ah, but that's part of the illusion.

Wishing Upon A Starlin: "Scouts confirm what the eye test shows: Castro doesn't see the ball well off the bat, especially on line drives. On all balls hit to his left and right he's plus-16, on balls hit straight at him he's minus-27 for his career. Either he doesn't pick up the spin or isn't judging the speed or trajectory."

Ameritrade Stock Pick of the Week: It's kinda like that upside-down plane stamp.

Shark Tank: Jeff Samardzija threw 99 pitches in five innings against the Brewers on Friday before being pulled. "Cubs manager Rick Renteria said Samardzija did not have his best stuff but battled and was able to grind through his outing," the Tribune reported. No worries; he'll be ready to toss another 126 pitches in a meaningless game in no time.

Jumbotron Preview: 5,700 square-feet of Wrigley's 125th birthday, which will be heavily marketed to draw attention away from the rebuilding project on the field.

Kubs Kalender: Wait 'til next year 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020.

Over/Under: Number of teams that finish with a better record than the Cubs: +/- 28.

Beachwood Sabermetrics: A complex algorithm performed by The Cub Factor staff using all historical data made available by Major League Baseball has determined that the Cubs can't do anything right.

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Hashtag Cubs

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

The White Sox Report: Know the enemy.

Fantasy Fix: Broken Arms: Jason Hammel vs. Jose Fernandez.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 2:34 AM | Permalink

Chicagoetry: Blue Line Blues

BLUE LINE BLUES

The train sang
In a whirlwind of tones,
A thousand tongues
Of steel and stone,

A thousand tons
Of brick and bone.

Steel wheels and hot rails
Rocked a rhythm section,
Momentum made maracas
Of the swaying hull

And I lost myself in the music
Of the dynamo hum.

Consuming space,
Creating time
This ream of lines
Got me in its sway.

No car, no choice
For getting to work.
No i-Phone, ear-buds,
Tabloid or book.

In all likelihood,
Heading for work
With no desire
To shorten the ride

With distractions,
Needing to stay alert.
The world is a witch
With a gift for hurt

So you gotta
Stay alert.

In all likelihood,
Heading to work
Or to visit a sick friend.
Rarely, but sometimes,

O'Hare is my end.
Or I could hop off
At Damen
And re-live my youth

In Groovytown.
If this were really
A Chicago Blues number
The chorus might be

Something like
"Hauling my ass to work,
Got those meddlesome
Blue Line Blues . . . "

I dig how
"Meddlesome Blue Line Blues"
Scans like "Leopard-Skin
Pill-Box Hat."

Like: "Headin' off to work,
Got them meddlesome
Blue Line Blues. Yeah I'm
Headin' off to work,

Got them meddlesome
Blue Line Blues. To the
Last place on earth
But I gotta pay my dues...

(Meddlesome
Blue Line Blues)" like
"Leopard-Skin
Pill-Box Hat."

And that's where we're at,
In all likelihood,
Heading to work,
Making no effort

To shorten or kill
The time from the suburbs
Through the Troubles
To the Loop.

Pricks sitting on the aisle seat
With their bag on the window seat,
Beggars, urine, loud phone
Conversations

Transcended through
The music of the swirling spheres:
Swaying cars, whooshing tubes,
Soaring bridges, clicking wheels.

Moms teaching babies their 1,2,3s,
Women reading novels
You'd hope
They'd read,

Sports fans en regalia
Counting the minutes
To game time,
Laughter in three different languages

Enhanced by
The music of the swirling spheres.

So it's this ream
Of lines
That's got me
In its sway

As I head
In all likelihood
To someplace

I'd rather not be.

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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 12:27 AM | Permalink

May 19, 2014

The [Monday] Papers

"A group representing city and suburban homeowners seeking relief from increasing airplane noise called today for Chicago Aviation Commissioner Rosemarie Andolino to resign or for Mayor Rahm Emanuel to fire her," the Tribune reports.

I doubt that's gonna happen, but Rahm needs to give her a swift kick in the butt.

Leaders of the Fair Allocation in Runways Coalition said they issued the demand because of "mounting frustration over the lack of response from Mayor Emanuel'' to meet with them to discuss possible remedies concerning "the ceaseless airplane noise'' since air-traffic patterns were changed last fall at O'Hare International Airport.

The Tribune requested a response from Andolino and the mayor.

Andolino has rejected requests from the coalition and U.S. Rep. Mike Quigley, D-Chicago, to consider expanding the airport's voluntary "fly quiet'' overnight program for pilots, so it would start at 9 p.m. nightly instead of 10 p.m. She also turned down the idea of O'Hare air-traffic controllers more widely altering the use of runways at night to spread out jet noise instead of concentrating it over one or two air corridors.

This is the sort of thing that gets mayors unelected. I mean, besides all the other things.

Alternate: Mayor Emanuel: Alienating Chicago one constituency at a time.

Loop Alliance
"On his first day in office in 2011, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel signed an executive order saying he wouldn't accept campaign donations from contractors doing business with the city," the Better Government Association reports.

"But taking money from employees of those contractors? A different story by Emanuel's standards."

For example:

Emanuel banked $18,100 last December from attorneys at Sidley Austin LLP - six months after the Chicago law firm started working for the city on a heater case involving the Chicago Police Department.

To be clear, the firm hasn't given Emanuel a penny. But the firm's attorneys have been awfully good to the mayor.

In all, they donated $57,100 to Emanuel's campaign fund since late 2010, shortly after he announced he was running for mayor. Just over a third of that total, or $21,100, arrived after the city hired Sidley Austin.

I'm not sure if there's a connection but that's a pretty big loophole - one that Rahm doesn't want to discuss.

The BGA asked whether Emanuel would consider broadening the order to include employees of city vendors, too - plugging what's a pretty sizable loophole.

"I won't have a comment for you on this," the spokeswoman says.

And so much - again - for the new transparency.

David Hoffman, the city's former inspector general, also is a partner at the firm (as well as a BGA board member). Hoffman endorsed Emanuel for mayor in February 2011, shortly before Hoffman joined Sidley Austin.

But that support had nothing to do with the city's decision, the city spokeswoman says, adding Corporation Counsel Stephen Patton picked Sidley Austin because of Lassar's "reputation for independence and thoroughness."

"The mayor had no involvement in the decision," she adds.

Hoffman did not return phone calls.

Lassar was among the attorneys who donated to Emanuel last December, chipping in $1,000 as part of a fund-raiser for the mayor. Sidley Austin attorneys attended the event, but officials said the firm did not host it.

Lassar declined to comment for this story, as did Carter Phillips, chairman of Sidley Austin's executive committee.

If Sidley is doing anything wrong, why is everyone there so afraid to talk?

A) They're doing something wrong.

B) They're afraid Rahm will get mad if they talk.

C) All of the above.

Schooling Student-Athletes
"More than one of every four employees of the Illinois High School Association - the governing body for high school sports in Illinois - gets more than $110,000 a year in pay and benefits, according to Internal Revenue Service records," the Sun-Times reports.

Sidley Austin had no comment.

Just kidding.

Doesn't Sidley Austin sound like the nerdy superhero of an animated show on Adult Swim?

Anyway, clearly looting the joint:

IHSA executive director Marty Hickman received a $204,840 salary plus $16,528 in health insurance benefits, bringing his compensation to $221,368. The association also reported $77,198 in deferred compensation for Hickman, which he describes as "the present value of the pension benefit payable over my lifetime earned during that year."

Six of the association's other 24 employees got between $112,893 and $134,501 in salary and benefits. Each holds the title of assistant executive director and oversees different sports and business functions.

IHSA officials are peddling the familiar refrain that salaries need to be high enough to attract and retain top talent. Does it seem like they are composed of top talent? Me and my buddies will do the job twice as well for half the pay.

Also, if every state high school association pays exorbitant salaries, they can all say they need to do it to compete against each other. It's a racket.

On Friday, for example, the Sun-Times reported:

Between 2006 and last year, profits from the tournament fell by 29 percent, government records filed by the IHSA show. Revenues - mostly from ticket sales - decreased by 17 percent between 2009 and last year.

IHSA spending on salaries and employee benefits, meanwhile, is up 21 percent in just one year's time, according to the private, not-for-profit group's most recent filing with the Internal Revenue Service.

That's not cool.

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And this:

"Since it's not a government body, the IHSA isn't subject to the Illinois Freedom of Information Act, which would require it to make public individual royalty and sponsorship agreements. Such deals netted the organization $647,633 last year."

Why isn't it a government body? It's governing agency of state high school athletics!

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Finally, that revenue drop seems to indicate they're doing a lousy job:

"Even as pack-the-house players like Derrick Rose, Jabari Parker and Marcus Jordan led their teams to state titles in recent years, the Illinois High School Association has seen revenues and profits from its marquee state boys basketball tournament plummet."

High school basketball in Chicago is super hot. The IHSA is not.

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The Hippest Trip Around The Globe
This week in Beachwood International with The Angry Aussie, we travel to Qatar, Rio, the Ukraine, West Antarctica, North Korea and Australia in order to inform and entertain you the way no other podcast can.

And ICYMI:

The Beachwood Radio Hour #7 including Clemente's Awesome Archers, Rahm's Falling Fortunes with Kari Lydersen, I Am A Tour Guide with J.J. Tindall, Why The Chicago Sky with Jim "Coach" Coffman, The White Sox Change The Guard with Roger Wallenstein, and A Preakness Preview with Tom Chambers. Music by Sister Speak and Rodriguez.

Kangaroo Court Suit Settled
Kids have rights too.

Beware Sharks & Urban Chickens
The problem with ABC and WGN. In Local TV Notes.

Coach Q Is Queasy
On the edge of unhingement. In SportsMonday.

Bye Bye Beckham
Hello, Micah Johnson. In The White Sox Report.

The Cub Factor
Will appear on Tuesday.

Another Awesome Weekend In Chicago Rock
Featuring: Disappears, Lana Del Rey, Haim, Ashanti, Black Stone Cherry, Punch Cabbie, Break of Reality, Seether, Cameron Ford, the Blasters, Tennis, Juiceboxxx, Phosphene, Matrimony, Empty Isle, Chiodos, Our Last Night, and The 7th Year.

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BeachBook
* When Great Lakes Ice Doesn't Melt.

* Everyone Should Know Just How Much The Government Lied To Defend The NSA.

* How Jane Byrne Foretold The Parking Meter Lease Future.

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TweetWood

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Point and label.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 11:52 AM | Permalink

SportsMonday: Coach Q Is Queasy

The Hawks took advantage of home ice advantage and won Game 1 against the Kings 3-1 on Sunday in the Western Conference final. They couldn't be in better position at this point in the playoffs.

They haven't lost at the United Center since the end of the regular season (three home wins in the first round against the Blues and three in the second versus the Wild) and if they win the rest of their home games, they win the whole thing, plain and simple.

Given that the other two teams in the NHL Final Four, the Rangers and Canadiens, finished the regular season with fewer points than their counterparts from Chicago, the Hawks would also have home ice advantage in the Stanley Cup finals. Not that I want get ahead of myself and maybe even jinx the local squad. But a lowly local sports commentator can't do that, can he? If it turned out that I could by the way, I promise I would use my power for good.

Anyway . . . despite all of that good stuff, coach Joel Quenneville seems awfully worried about things, doesn't he?

Of course it is a coach's job to worry. Just as it is his job to make sure officials give his team a fair shake. And when hockey coaches try to make sure their team is getting a fair shake, they oftentimes bust out a remarkable amount of profanity. They are the reigning world champs in the F-bomb all-around (one of my daughters does a lot of gymnastics so I try to bust out a reference to that sport every once in a while).

So a fan watching Quenneville screaming "that's fucking bullshit!" again and again after the Hawks' first goal of the second period was disallowed yesterday could I suppose be reassured by the fact that hockey coaches do that all the time. And I can attest to the fact that it isn't just NHL coaches who do so. I used to cover a little high school hockey for Pioneer Press in the northern suburbs and it didn't take much to incite the participants and coaches to start screaming F-ing this and F-ing that either at each other or at a ref.

If high basketball coaches and players had done the same, there would have been a major scandal. But in hockey it was just accepted. And after the games, the coaches and players reverted to completely polite conversation, at least in the interviews I did. The professionals do the same.

Still, this was what, the third or fourth time we've watched Coach Q come completely unhinged during the playoffs? He didn't grab his crotch this time so he probably won't face a big fine but . . .

Look, I understand there is a long tradition in every major sport in America of coaches yelling at officials. And I suppose it isn't a complete disaster when they do so. But it isn't good if a coach loses his composure too frequently; surely we can agree on that.

Coach Q was also seen in the Wild series agitatedly changing lines all over the place and making strange decisions regarding which players were in the lineup and which were scratched. You would think that a coach who has already won a couple Cups would be a bit more serene but that has not occurred with Quenneville.

Could it be that he is so visibly concerned because he knows the Hawks have even more to worry about than the average team on the cusp of playing for a championship? There are now multiple advanced hockey metrics that can accurately measure the flow of puck possession and those metrics show that the Kings out-performed the Hawks in that category for much of Game 1. The same held true during long stretches of the Wild series.

Goaltender Corey Crawford stole a victory for the Hawks in Game 6 against the Wild. Game 1 yesterday wasn't quite as much of a goalie win, and the Hawks continue to have an amazing defensive corps in front of their netminder, but it was still a game that felt like it easily could have gone Los Angeles's way despite the final score.

So a fan certainly has cause for concern. Fortunately that fan can perhaps take comfort in the fact that Quenneville clearly has enough concern for just about everyone.

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

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 11:26 AM | Permalink

Beachwood International with The Angry Aussie No. 14: The Hippest Trip Around The Globe

This week we travel to Qatar, Rio, the Ukraine, West Antarctica, North Korea and Australia to inform and entertain you like no other podcast can.


SHOW NOTES
* Blatter Says Qatar World Cup A Mistake.

* Roof Will Not Be Ready Before Rio World Cup Opener.

* Scientists Warn Of Dengue Fever Risk At Brazil World Cup.

* China Warns Vietnam Over Deadly Protests In Territorial Dispute.

* John Pilger: In Ukraine, The U.S. Is Dragging Us Towards War With Russia.

* Irreversible Collapse Of Antarctic Glaciers Has Begun.

* North Korea: Life In U.S. Is A Living Hell.

* Australia's Education Minister Denies Using C-Word Despite Video, Audio Evidence.

* World's Oldest Sperm Found In Australia.

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Catch up with 'em all at Beachwood Reporter Radio!

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 11:02 AM | Permalink

Settlement Reached In Kangaroo Court Lawsuit

A settlement has been reached in a 2012 lawsuit alleging unconstitutional treatment of hundreds of Illinois youth imprisoned annually without access to an attorney for alleged technical parole violations. The suit charged the youths' parole revocation hearings amounted to a "kangaroo court" system. The Roderick and Solange MacArthur Justice Center has issued the following news release about the settlement. - Jim Bray

Illinois officials have agreed to major reforms aimed at protecting children in the state's parole system. These reforms will resolve a class-action lawsuit that alleged due process restrictions have been denied to children in Illinois' parole revocation hearings. The reforms include state-funded lawyers to represent youth returned to prison for alleged parole violations.

Filed by the Roderick and Solange MacArthur Justice Center and the Uptown People's Law Center in October 2012, the class action challenged the "arbitrary detention and imprisonment" of more than 1,000 young people each year through actions of the Illinois Prisoner Review Board and Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice. In agreeing to resolve the lawsuit, the PRB and the DJJ did not admit to the allegations contained in the complaint.

"Illinois children don't deserve to be churned through a system they don't understand and re-imprisoned unnecessarily," said Alexa Van Brunt, clinical assistant professor of law and attorney for the MacArthur Justice Center. "Thankfully, Illinois officials have recognized that assembly line justice is bad for youth, for communities and for public safety. This consent decree represents a remarkable sea-change in the parole process."

The PRB is charged with determining whether a youth violated parole, and with imposing sanctions, including additional imprisonment, on those youth determined to be violators. The DJJ is responsible for supervising children placed on parole or aftercare.

In a 2011 study of the parole revocation system, the Illinois Juvenile Justice Commission found the majority of youth did not understand the process and routinely waived their right to a preliminary hearing that would determine whether probable cause for revoking parole exists - a step intended to prevent inappropriate incarceration. An attorney was present at only one of 101 revocation hearings observed in the study, and only 2 percent of youth were informed they had a right to counsel.

Key provisions of the settlement reached with the DJJ and PRB include:

  • Within one day of being returned to prison for an alleged violation of parole, youth will be given a written notice of the charges and material explaining the parole revocation process.
  • Youth under the age of 18 will automatically be appointed counsel to represent them throughout the entire parole revocation process and without cost to the youth or the youth's family.
  • Youth between the ages of 18 and 21 also may be eligible for appointed counsel. Such youth will be screened by DJJ staff to determine if they need help presenting their case to the PRB.
  • DJJ and PRB will abide by strict deadlines in the parole revocation process, for instance, the final revocation hearing before the PRB will occur no later than 45 days after a youth is incarcerated in DJJ.
  • If a youth is revoked at the final revocation hearing, PRB will provide a written explanation of the decision and an explanation of the appeal process, which will be conducted by three PRB members who were not involved in the initial revocation decision.
  • An independent monitor will be appointed with access to observe the parole revocation process, and talk with the youth, their lawyers and staff at DJJ and PRB. The independent monitor will present the federal court with quarterly compliance reports.

U.S. District Judge Andrea R. Wood has scheduled a fairness hearing for July 31 on the proposed settlement.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:42 AM | Permalink

Local TV Notes: Beware Sharks And Urban Chickens

1. Tribune: A Visual Perspective On Chicagoland.

2. The Truth About Shark Tank.

"Emory University student Kaeya Majmundar survived the 'sharks' and secured a deal for her invention during ABC's Shark Tank on Friday night," the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports.

"Majmundar, a rising senior, was featured on the show's season finale with her 'BZbox' invention. The BZbox is billed as a durable, collapsible cardboard packing box that doesn't require assembly.

"Lori Greiner, the Queen of QVC, agreed to invest $50,000 in BZbox for a 40 percent stake in the company if it can be marketed as a storage box. Greiner also noted that some aspects of the product need improving.

"Majmundar, a Chicago native came up with the idea two years ago when she and her roommate were packing up their dorm room for summer break. Before BZbox, her parents wanted her to become a doctor, she told the television investors."

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Majmundar is just the latest in a long line of folks with Chicago connections to appear on Shark Tank - not a surprise given we're the nation's third-largest city.

A warning to Majmundar: Be careful.

Perhaps no contestant on Shark Tank has been as controversial as Scott Jordan, who used to practice law at DLA Piper in Chicago before founding Scottevest, which makes technology-enabled clothing.

Mark Cuban decided his goal on Jordan's episode was to make him cry.

But here's the real rub, as told to Huffington Post:

The reason I went on Shark Tank was because I love the show. I thought it was a great forum for me to introduce my company, my brand and me personally to the world. We're also a fast-growing company, and we needed capital to keep the company growing.

I originally pitched SCOTTEVEST to Shark Tank. TEC is the technology, but the vest is what consumes most of my time.

What I realized in the pitching process was that the producer, Mark Burnett, gets a portion of every company featured, whether they get funding or not.

When I got the materials, I thought 'Wow, am I really willing to give up a portion of a company on track to do $24 million dollars a year to Mark Burnett?'

I did some math to see if the value of that percentage was worth the exposure, and I decided no, I could sell that percentage of the company and buy that exposure and control it.

So, I scratched my head and I pivoted, as you do in business. I decided to pitch TEC instead, but I couldn't go in there and pitch TEC and then start talking about SCOTTEVEST.

That's right - at the time of Jordan's appearance, Shark Tank producers got a percentage of the companies pitched regardless of whether a deal is struck. That's pretty heinous - first, that producers are also getting equity (though they could argue that simply by putting a pitch on the air they are increasing a product's value) and second, that they get equity, um, regardless of whether a deal is struck.

Producers have now struck that clause from the contract all contestants must sign after Cuban threatened to leave the show over it.

Here's Jordan talking about it in February:

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See also:
* 8 Things You Didn't Know About Shark Tank.

* The Chicago Shark.

3. WGN Lays An Egg.

Oops, WGN re-broadcast a show from 2005. Or at least that's what it seemed like when they aired "Chickens in the City: Urban coops growing in popularity" last Thursday.

Gawker has been making fun of the trend since 2007, which means the "trend" is at least seven years old, and the truth is it was barely even a trend then.

In 2009, Jack Shafer named urban chicken-raising as one of his bogus trends of the week in Slate.

Shafer even named the WGN's sister Tribune as a chief culprit in conveying nonexistent nonsense:

For more all-feather, no-bone journalism, see the May 10 Chicago Tribune Magazine, where "Chicken Chic: The Backyard Bird Is Back in Style" claims that chicken keeping is a "craze," is "[w]ay in," and is "a fresh fad." The piece insists that "[m]any an ordinary citizen of many an ordinary neighborhood owns an actual chicken," but never assigns a number to the "many."

This is the paper's second example of crying chicken in recent months. The Dec. 15, 2008, Trib discovers "[s]igns of the burgeoning urban chick movement" in the mere publication of Backyard Poultry magazine, the existence of the urbanchickens.net blog, and the fact that a local workshop on raising your own birds sold out in 48 hours.

Shafer shows how the evidence of this trend has been fuzzy ever since it was first reported - in 1986.

Apparently WGN's Ana Belaval and her bosses never checked the clips. If it had, it would have found at least that the trend in reporting this non-trend is to declare the trend over.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:43 AM | Permalink

The Weekend In Chicago Rock

You shoulda been there.

1. Disappears at Thalia Hall on Friday night.

See also: A Sneak Peek Inside Thalia Hall.

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2. Lana Del Rey at the Aragon on Friday night.

See also: Lana Del Rey's Eerie Drama Unfolds At Aragon.

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3. Haim at the Riviera on Saturday night.

See also: Trib Review: A Deceptively Complex Confection.

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4. Ashanti at the Shrine on Friday night.

See also: Ashanti Taking A Brave New Step.

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5. Black Stone Cherry at House of Blues on Sunday night.

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6. Punch Cabbie at the House of Blues on Friday night.

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7. Break of Reality at Lincoln Hall on Saturday night.

See also: Break Of Reality Fuses Cello's Classical Orchestra Traditions With Heavy Metal And Rock.

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8. Seether at House of Blues on Sunday night.

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9. Cameron Ford at the Hideout on Saturday.

#FunnyBecauseItsTrue

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10. The Blasters at SPACE in Evanston on Saturday night.

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11. Tennis at the Riv on Saturday night.

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12. Juiceboxxx at the Burlington on Friday night.

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13. Phosphene at the House of Blues on Friday night.

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14. Matrimony at SPACE in Evanston on Thursday night.

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15. Empty Isle at Beat Kitchen on Friday night.

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16. Chiodos at Mojoes in Joliet on Saturday night.

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17. Our Last Night at Mojoes in Joliet on Saturday night.

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18. The 7th Year at Phyllis' Musical Inn on Saturday night.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:56 AM | Permalink

Bye Bye Beckham

Is there any other profession besides professional sports where trades take place?

Like, what would happen if we could dump Emanuel and get de Blasio? I think we'd be dumb not to make that deal. Or how many surgeons from Rush would it take to pry James Andrews loose from his practice in Birmingham? Suppose we didn't like the sopes rancheros super chef Rick Bayless concocted at the Frontera Grill. Imagine if we then dispatched him to New Orleans in a straight-up deal for Emeril and his chorizo po' boy.

Of course, the world doesn't work that way, but baseball does. Before the days of free agency and guaranteed, no-trade contracts, players were chattel and trades were made with regularity.

In his 25-year career as general manager of five teams - including the White Sox from 1948 to 1955 - Frank Lane engineered almost 400 deals. At that time a pitcher named Dick Littlefield was famous not so much for his fastball or curve but for the 10 teams he played for in his nine-year career. Add another 12 in the minors, and it's a reasonable assumption that Littlefield kept a packed suitcase at all times.

Years ago there were far more trades during the season when GMs had no union or binding contracts to consider. Today trades occur primarily during the off-season and right before the July 31 trading deadline when the also-rans have been weeded out from the contenders.

After a quarter of the season, visions of the White Sox making the playoffs seem far-fetched. This is not the 99-loss team of a year ago, but it also is not a bunch which can challenge folks like the Tigers or Athletics. Not yet, anyway.

So general manager Rick Hahn, not the bashful type, likely will make a deal or two. The probable candidate to go is second baseman Gordon Beckham. At least he's been at the center of most trade rumors even before the season began.

Beckham started the 2014 campaign on the disabled list, and the Sox split 22 games before he was activated. Since he's returned, the team is 10-13 after a disappointing series in Houston over the weekend. Injuries to Chris Sale, Adam Eaton and others have stunted the team's improvement, so you can't pin the blame on Beckham. On the other hand, he's not the kind of player who can carry this team the way someone like Jose Abreu, who went on the DL Sunday, just might be able to do.

Marcus Semien, despite a .214 batting average and a strikeout rate of almost a third of his plate appearances, filled in admirably both for Beckham and third baseman Conor Gillaspie, who also spent time of the DL. Semien has had some huge late-inning hits, he can run and he's more than adequate defensively. Plus, at 22, he's five years younger than Beckham, and should improve at the plate.

If Semien proves overmatched, the Sox have Micah Johnson, who recently was promoted to Triple-A Charlotte where he's off to a solid start, hitting .296/.321/.655. Johnson, an Indiana University product, is 23, and hit .331 for three teams last season while stealing 84 bases.

During Saturday's telecast of the Sox's 6-5 loss to the Astros, Hawk Harrelson was talking up Johnson's merits, concluding that he's going to be a "game-changer." Well, if that's so, and he fills that role for the White Sox, he's going to play second base. Maybe Hawk knows something although the more I listen these days, the less I believe.

The White Sox also have two other middle infielders at Charlotte, second baseman Carlos Sanchez and shortstop Tyler Saladino. Sanchez, a Venezuelan, is a few weeks short of his 22nd birthday, and he's been in the Sox system since he was 17. His numbers aren't as impressive as Johnson's, but Robin Ventura praised him during the spring after he went 7-for-13 before joining the minor league camp.

As for Saladino, he's another home-grown product, having been drafted in the seventh round in 2010. After a college career at Oral Roberts, Saladino moved up quickly. He's been Charlotte's shortstop since 2012. Saladino will turn 25 in July.

Not long ago, Beckham was the team's Micah Johnson. An All-American shortstop at the University of Georgia, the Sox groomed him as a third baseman, a position he played when he broke in in 2009. Joe Crede's sore back drove him from the game, Juan Uribe opted for free agency, and heir-not-apparent Josh Fields couldn't play. The Sox were sorely in need of a third baseman.

So after slightly less than 100 minor league games and carrying a .313 batting average, Beckham took his talents to the South Side in June of 2009 when the Sox were struggling a few games below .500. After going hitless in his first 13 at-bats, Beckham showed a load of potential, finishing the year at .270/.347/.808. He was fifth in Rookie of the Year voting. In a 79-83 season Beckham was one of the bright spots. Surely he would be a cornerstone of the team for years to come.

Even though the Sox couldn't produce a legitimate third baseman the next season - Mark Teahen, Dayan Viciedo, Omar Vizquel, Brent Morel, and Jayson Nix all saw action there - Beckham was moved to second base, and he's become one of the best. He has range and a strong arm. He turns the double play as well as anyone.

But he's never reached the heights offensively that we saw when he first arrived. Injuries slowed him a year ago when he hit just five home runs and drove in 24 runs. He was idled again at the beginning of this season.

But Beckham is healthy now, and appears mature, seasoned, experienced and confident; he strung together an 11-game hit streak with three homers and eight RBI through Sunday, when he finally went hitless in three at-bats.

So why trade him when he may be on the brink of stardom for the next six or seven seasons? Because you have to trade value to get value, and aside from Alexei Ramirez, who is five years older than Beckham, the Sox don't have much bargaining power. It's a safe assumption Hahn's phone isn't ringing with inquiries about Alejandro De Aza's availability.

The ballclub is sorely in need of starting pitching. Check out John Danks' pitiful outing on Sunday when the lowly Astros lit him up for eight runs and 10 hits in less than five innings. This from a pitcher who is signed through 2016. The Sox were counting on Danks this season, and so far he's been awful.

With seven losses in their last 10 games and with Jose Abreu on the disabled list at least for a couple of weeks, the White Sox are reeling. They have three games on tap in Kansas City where Scott Carroll, Andre Rienzo and Jose Quintana will try to hold the Royals in check and hope that their teammates can score often enough to steal a couple of wins. You can bet the Royals aren't losing any sleep over the prospect of facing those three this week.

Meanwhile, contending teams like the Yankees and Blue Jays would like nothing better than plugging gaps at second base with a player of Beckham's caliber. It just might be time for Hahn to strike while Beckham is a hot commodity. It's not Gordon's fault that the team is playing poorly, but he certainly might become part of the long-term solution for better days ahead - on another team.

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Roger Wallenstein is our man on the White Sox. Listen to him on this week's Beachwood Radio Hour starting at the 1:12:00 mark. He welcomes your comments.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:16 AM | Permalink

May 17, 2014

The Weekend Desk Report

This week's Beachwood Radio Hour is already up, complete with Show Notes. I have a vision (again), people: That the future of true multimedia involves reading, listening and watching at the same time. With our BRH Show Notes, you can do just that!

It doesn't always have to be so integrated; it could simply mean that - if you turn on the tool to do so - when you scroll over a quote you actually hear the person saying it, for just one example. Or see the person saying it.

Or when you listen to sports radio online, you can actually see video of the highlights they are talking about as they talk about them. That sort of thing.

There could be music corollaries, too. Even weather and traffic. Think it through.

And of course, with serious and investigative news, a more sophisticated package.

If history is any guide, I'll get nowhere with this idea and wind up broke in senior public housing, only to find douchebags getting rich off a crappy version of it five to 10 years from now.

This week's segments include:

* Clemente's Awesome Archers.

* Rahm's Falling Fortunes with Rahm writer Kari Lydersen.

* I Am A Tour Guide with J.J. Tindall. (And he really is.)

* Why The Chicago Sky with Jim "Coach" Coffman.

* The White Sox's Changing Of The Guard with Roger Wallenstein.

* A Preakness Preview with Tom Chambers.

And music by Sister Speak and Rodriguez.

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Beachwood International with The Angry Aussie
This week's hippest trip around the globe travels to Qatar, Rio, the Ukraine, West Antarctica, North Korea and Australia to inform and entertain you like no other podcast can.

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ICYMI: The Week In Juvenile Justice
From Suspension City to Cyprus.

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BeachBook
* New York Times' New Editor Has History Of Steering Clear Of Controversial Reporting.

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TweetWood

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The Weekend Desk Tip Line: Authentic.

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The Sound Opinions Weekend Listening Report: "Uncle Tupelo helped start the Alt-Country explosion of the 1990's. Drummer Mike Heidorn joins us this week to talk about Jay Farrar, Jeff Tweedy and the rise and fall of Uncle Tupelo. Then Jim and Greg review new albums from Lykke Li & The Black Keys."

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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.

Living Like We're Bulletproof: Boots On The Ground

LIVE-5-17-bulletproof-lg.jpg

Join the conversation on how Chicagoans' collective efforts can prevent gun violence, with insights from community leaders and legal experts including Marcus Redwood, Father Michael Pfleger, Principal Elizabeth Dozier and the Hon. Thomas R. Sumner.

Saturday at 1:15 p.m. on CAN TV27 and livestreamed here.

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Asian-American Pacific Heritage

5-12-AsianAm.jpg

Asian-American organizations and community leaders come together to celebrate their common heritage and culture.

Sunday at 11 a.m. on CAN TV21.


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:11 PM | Permalink

The Beachwood Radio Hour #7: I Am A Tour Guide

This week our segments include:

* Clemente's Awesome Archers.

* Rahm's Falling Fortunes with Rahm writer Kari Lydersen.

* I Am A Tour Guide with J.J. Tindall. (And he really is.)

* Why The Chicago Sky with Jim "Coach" Coffman.

* The White Sox's Changing Of The Guard with Roger Wallenstein.

* A Preakness Preview with Tom Chambers.

Music by Sister Speak and Rodriguez.


SHOW NOTES

00: Strawberry Rock Show.

1:28: Sister Speak at Reggies on Tuesday night.

2:37: Clemente's Awesome Archers.

* Every School Is My School.

* Save Lafayette. (It didn't make it.)

4:36: "Sugar Man" by Rodriguez at the Chicago Theatre on Wednesday night.

* Searching for Sugar Man.

* Sugar Man Director Malik Bendjelloul Committed Suicide, Family Says.

7:00: Rahm's Falling Fortunes with Kari Lydersen.

* Mayor 1%.

* Sun-Times poll.

22:36: News concerning a certain ornithological matter.

24:00: SPOTLIGHT: J.J.Tindall Is A Tour Guide.

* Chicagoetry.

* Col. Mustard With A Bic?

* The Jewelers Building.

* Dave Matthews Band Bus Driver Pleads Guilty To Dumping Poop On Tour Boat Customers.

* Shoreline Sightseeing

* The Beachwood Reporter YouTube Channel.

* Interpretive Jazz Dance To The Match Game Theme.

* Interpretive Jazz Dance To "Roundabout."

57:27: Sports Corner with Jim "Coach" Coffman

* It'll be the Kings.

Clarification: John Gibson plays for the Ducks.

* Andrew Shaw Will Return 'At Some Point' in Next Series.

* That Kris Versteeg Goal.

* Ten Hawks Selected For Olympics.

* Cubs Owner Ricketts: 'We Have A Team Right Now That Can Go To The Playoffs.'

* The Chicago Sky.

* Elena Delle Donne Scores 23 In Sky's Season-Opening Victory.

* Sylvia Fowles Talks About Her Injury.

* All-Star Guard Epiphanny Prince Missing.

* Pokey Chatman.

1:12:00: Changing Of The White Sox Guard with Roger Wallenstein.

* White Sox, Furthering Legacy, Provide Warm Home For Cubans Amid Chill.

1:25:50: Preakness Preview with Tom Chambers.

* Ria Antonia: More Than A Long Shot?

* California Chrome Coughs.

* Dynamic Impact Looks To Make Points.

* Midnight Hawk: Lower Body Injury.

* Ride On Curlin: Another Outside Post.

* General A Rod: Contender.

* Pablo Del Monte: Expecting Speed.

* Kid Cruz: Surreally Stepping Up.

* Social Inclusion: A Speedy Threat.

* Bayern: Baffert's Last Bullet.

* Secretariat's Preakness.

* After 39 Years, Secretariat Is Awarded Preakness Record.

STOPPAGE TIME: 45:50.

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See also: The Beachwood Radio Network.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 11:05 AM | Permalink

May 16, 2014

The [Friday] Papers

"Spurring Republican outrage, the Democratic-led Illinois House passed more than $38 billion worth of spending bills Thursday without a clear-cut way to pay for it all," the Sun-Times reports.

Democrats should be outraged too. Are they even capable of self-loathing anymore?

House Speaker Michael Madigan has decided to pass a set of spending bills that essentially assume the temporary tax increase set to expire will be extended - even though he doesn't appear to have the votes to make that so.

It's a fascinating political maneuver in that it will force even members of his own caucus to go back and publicly strip items out of those bills if they don't agree to the tax extension which would fund them.

That's why he "invoked a rare parliamentary maneuver that blocks the spending bills from being sent to the Senate, keeping them under House control."

Those bills will need to be amended if the tax gambit fails. It will become clear which legislators to blame for the resulting cuts.

In effect, Madigan has turned the budget-making process upside-down to put the screws to holdouts willing to let the tax hike lapse.

Absolutely brilliant politics, but absolutely horrid governance.

For example:

One of the first bills to come before the House Thursday was a $6.7 billion spending plan for elementary and secondary education.

Its sponsor, Rep. William "Will" Davis, D-Homewood, who chairs the House Appropriations-Elementary and Secondary Education Committee, shot down the Republican complaints and defended the Democrats' fiscal approach.

"We all indicate K through 12 education is an important part of what we do. While some have suggested this is 'backwards, upside down, cart before the horse,' when it comes to investing for our kids, we should put a high number out there and figure out how we get to that number," Davis told colleagues.

Okay, well, how did you arrive at your number, Will? Why not $7.7 billion? Or $10 billion? Or $100 billion? After all, we all agree that K-12 education is important!

Republicans peppered the various Democratic sponsors of the spending bills with questions about how their proposals would be paid for and typically got non-answers.

"I'm not going to tell you how we're going to pay for it," Rep. Luis Arroyo, D-Chicago, said at one point when asked by Rep. Ron Sandack, R-Downers Grove, how his legislation supporting the Prisoner Review Board would be funded.

Okay, don't tell Sandack. But how about filling in the rest of us who will get the bill?

In one instance, Rep. Jeanne Ives, R-Wheaton, zeroed in on a mysterious $15 million grant program for at-risk communities that Democrats inserted in the state Department of Labor budget with little to no explanation of its purpose.

"Can I have the criteria for qualifying for this grant program?" Ives asked Arroyo, who sponsored that spending bill, as well.

After a brief back and forth with Ives, Arroyo answered, "We'll develop the program after we pass this budget."

Maybe hire Dorothy Brown's husband to help.

"You cannot make this stuff up," Ives shot back in disgust. "I hope people are watching. This is appalling. This sickens me."

It's no way to run a government. Maybe the real plot by Madigan is to put Bruce Rauner in the governor's office; this totally plays into his narrative. Meanwhile, the current governor seems to be missing in action.

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Which Tech Companies Have Your Back?
More than used to, thanks to Snowden.

The City's Best Archers . . .
. . . Go to Roberto Clemente High School.

Beachwood Photo Booth: Girls Wanted
For key positions.

The Week In Chicago Rock
Featuring: Sister Speak, Rodriguez, Cage the Elephant, Foals, Avicii, Gabrielle Aplin, Sturgill Simpson, and Willie Watson.

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BeachBook
* Chicago-Based Boeing Uses Surveillance On Union Activity.

* Spin, Weasel Words And Lies.

* Chicago Cubs Among Those Buying Domain Names Last Week.

* Chicago Dream by Sister Speak.

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TweetWood

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Dreamy.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:26 AM | Permalink

The Week In Chicago Rock

You shoulda been there.

1. Sister Speak at Reggies on Tuesday night.


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2. Rodriguez at the Chicago Theatre on Wednesday night.

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3. Cage the Elephant at the Aragon on Wednesday night.

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4. Foals at the Aragon on Wednesday night.

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5. Avicii in Rosemont on Thursday night.

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6. Gabrielle Aplin at Schubas on Tuesday night.

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7. Sturgill Simpson at House of Blues on Thursday night.

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8. Willie Watson at SPACE in Evanston on Tuesday night.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:13 AM | Permalink

Which Tech Companies Help Protect You From Government Data Demands?

Technology companies are privy to our most sensitive information: our conversations, photos, location data, and more. But which companies fight the hardest to protect your privacy from government data requests?

Today, the Electronic Frontier Foundation releases its fourth annual Who Has Your Back report, with comprehensive information on 26 companies' commitments to fighting unfair demands for customer data. The report examines the privacy policies, terms of service, public statements, and courtroom track records of major technology companies, including Internet service providers, email providers, social networking sites, and mobile services.

"The sunlight brought about by a year's worth of Snowden leaks appears to have prompted dozens of companies to improve their policies when it comes to giving user data to the government," said EFF Activism Director Rainey Reitman. "Our report charts objectively verifiable categories of how tech companies react when the government seeks user data, so users can make informed decisions about which companies they should trust with their information."

EFF's report awards up to six gold stars for best practices in categories like "require a warrant for content" and "publish transparency reports."

Last year, just two companies we surveyed earned a full six stars - Sonic, a California ISP, and Twitter.

This year, Apple, CREDO Mobile, Dropbox, Facebook, Google, Microsoft and Yahoo all joined Sonic and Yahoo in receiving six full stars, and several others - LinkedIn, Pinterest, SpiderOak, Tumblr, Wickr and Wordpress - only missed getting all six stars because they did not have to bring public court battles on behalf of their users.

This year, the majority of the companies surveyed have made a formal commitment to inform users when their data was sought, a welcome safeguard that gives users the information they need to fight on their own.

This shows that the technology industry is adopting a best practice pioneered by Twitter, which in 2010 fought for the right to tell its users about a government order for their information as part of the WikiLeaks investigation.

Additionally, 20 of the companies EFF reviewed published transparency reports detailing government requests for user data, which is a striking increase from last year, when only seven companies in EFF's report published them.

This is now a new standard in the tech industry: corporations are actively and voluntarily working to shed light on the government attempts to access user data.

However, it's not all good news in this year's report. Photo-messaging application Snapchat received only one star - particularly troubling due to the sensitive nature of photos and the company's young user base.

"Snapchat joins AT&T and Comcast in failing to require a warrant for government access to the content of communications. That means the government can obtain extraordinarily sensitive information about your activities and communications without convincing a judge that there is probable cause to collect it," said EFF Staff Attorney Nate Cardozo. "We urge these companies to change course and give their users this simple and needed protection from government overreach."

As part of this year's report, EFF collaborated with data analysis company Silk to help explore trends in government access requests. Silk's analysis provides a simple mechanism for reporters and the general public to explore corporate transparency reports, shedding light on which companies receive the most data requests, which companies push back against government data requests, and which countries are most aggressive in demanding user data.

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Previously:
* Lawsuit Demands DOJ Release More Secret Surveillance Court Rulings.

* Human Rights Organizations To Foreign Ministers: Stop Spying On Us.

* What The Proposed NSA Reforms Wouldn't Do.

* Technologists Turn On Obama.

* Dear Supreme Court: Set Limits On Cell Phone Searches.

* EFF Fights National Security Letter Demands On Behalf Of Telecom, Internet Company.

* Eighth-Grader Schools The NSA.

* You Know Who Else Collected Metadata? The Stasi.

* Today We Fight Back.

* The Day We Fight Back.

* FAQ: The NSA's Angry Birds.

* 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 8:54 AM | Permalink

Clemente's Awesome Archers

"It might be surprising that Clemente, an urban school in Chicago's West Town neighborhood, has an archery team," Barbara Brotman wrote for the Tribune in March.

"On top of that, it has the third-ranked team in the state."

That's out of 143 Illinois schools that participate in the National Archery in the Schools Program. Seventeen of those are Chicago schools.

Clemente traveled to Louisville last weekend for nationals - the only Chicago team to do so. (Ten other teams from Illinois also went; just three of those were in the high school division, while the rest were elementary or middle schools)

The team hoped for a top 30 finish; they wound up 58th (of 164). That might have been a disappointment - they finished 56th last year - but it was the second-best showing among Illinois teams in the high school division. (The others: Schlarman Academy of Danville, 28th; Armstrong-Potomac, 92nd; Georgetown-Ridge Farm, 142nd.)

(Jefferson Middle School of Springfield had the most success in the younger divisions; they sent two teams to nationals and one finished 15th out of 197. The other finished 162nd.)

From Clemente's Facebook page:

We had a great nationals trip!! We scored our highest score ever 3273! We placed 2nd in Illinois teams! We placed 58 out of 164 which placed us in the top 35% in the nation It was a 3-way tie with our score and was decided by bulls eyes!!

Here is how our top archers scored out:

Margarita Colon top 9% in the nation out of 1466 high school girls
Ashley Roman top 11%
Natalie Vazquez top 17%
Maria Estrada top 32%
Shantel Lane top 32%

Michael Padilla top 17% in the nation out of 1684 high school boys
Itzocatl Rodriquez top 17%
Edward Delgado top 33%
David Garcia top 35%

This was an outstanding tournament for us and we also qualified for world!!!!!!!!

Here's a photoset.

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See also: Clemente Making A Name For Itself In High School Archery.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:13 AM | Permalink

Beachwood Photo Booth: Girls Wanted

For key positions.

girlsworksignorigclose.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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Listen to Helene talk about Photo Booth; starts at 57:54.

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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.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Deluxe Cleaners.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Marie's Golden Cue.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Die Another Day.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Sears Key Shop.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Window Dressing.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Jeri's Grill.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Barry's Drugs.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Liberty.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Kitchen.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Golden Specials.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: We Won The Cup.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Bartender Man.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Blue Plane Blues.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Finest Quality.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Family Guy.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:44 AM | Permalink

May 15, 2014

The [Thursday] Papers

"The former head of Chicago's red light camera program was arrested Wednesday in a $2 million bribery scandal and charged by federal prosecutors with plotting to steer the contract to Redflex Traffic Systems before the first ticket was ever issued in 2003," the Tribune reports.

"John Bills, the former transportation official who managed the red light contract until 2011, coached Redflex officials in a series of clandestine meetings and helped them grow their program into the largest in the country, authorities alleged. In return, they said, Bills received hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash spent on a vacation home, a boat and a Mercedes convertible, along with dozens of trips and a condominium near the company's Arizona headquarters.

"The single bribery charge against Bills puts him at the center of sweeping allegations in a scandal that by size alone ranks among the largest in Chicago's notorious history of corruption."

I wonder who will read John Bills' induction speech into the Chicago Way Hall of Fame.

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"The Tribune reported earlier this year that the cooperating source is fired Redflex Executive Vice President Aaron Rosenberg, who acknowledged he was cooperating with authorities in a civil defamation lawsuit against the company. Rosenberg accused Redflex of doling out bribes and gifts at 'dozens of municipalities' in 14 states and said he was made a 'scapegoat' to cover up the long-standing practice after the Tribune began asking questions about the Chicago contract."

That's why this has been an international story; dozens of municipalities in 14 states have been reassessing their own relationships with Redflex as a result of what's happened here. The very existence of the company has been threatened, though for now they're still hiring.

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"The federal complaint also alleges that while Redflex was still competing for the contract, Bills called Rosenberg to ask that Redflex pick up the tab for a Los Angeles trip for Bills and his friends, which Rosenberg did with the approval of his supervisor.

"At the time, Rosenberg's supervisor was Karen Finley, the CEO of Redflex Traffic Systems. She and two other Redflex executives - including the general counsel - resigned last year amid the scandal."

So Redflex's corporate culture was a perfect match for Chicago's civic culture.

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"The complaint said Bills met with Rosenberg to review red light photographs of both competitors for the contract, choosing photographs that made Redflex appear to be the better candidate. Bills even arranged the seating for the City Hall selection committee in an attempt to influence the vote for Redflex, lining it up so that members supporting Redflex voted first to create momentum, the complaint alleges."

Emphasis mine, because how did that work?

"Where do you want us, John?"

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"Bills retired in 2011 after a 30-year city career that saw him rise from a streetlight maintenance worker to the deputy managing commissioner of the Transportation Department under former Mayor Richard M. Daley. He was a longtime top precinct captain in the political operation of House Speaker Michael Madigan."

So he was qualified.

"Madigan spokesman Steve Brown initially said that Bills had not been involved in the speaker's powerful political organization 'for like 10 years,'" the Sun-Times reports, "but he later acknowledged that Bills worked for Madigan's House Democratic candidates in 2010 and 2012."

So, for like two years. Until he got hot.

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"The complaint alleged that Redflex worked to support Bills even after he left the city, when Bills 'made it known' to Rosenberg and other Redflex employees 'that he wanted a job with Redflex.

"'It was decided that Redflex could not directly hire Bills due to a city of Chicago ordinance' that prohibits contractors from hiring city employees until one year after they leave the city, the complaint said.

"Instead, Bills landed a job as a consultant with longtime Chicago political adviser Greg Goldner, who owns Resolute Consulting. Goldner was paid by Redflex to establish the Traffic Safety Coalition, which campaigns for automated traffic camera programs around the country."

Wait for it.

"The Tribune reported in 2011 that Goldner, Emanuel's onetime congressional campaign manager, was working with the coalition to legalize speed cameras in Illinois at the same time Emanuel was pushing to start his program in Chicago."

How cozy.

"[Goldner] runs a powerhouse public affairs firm that, during Rahm's reign, has functioned like an appendage of City Hall," Chicago magazine noted last year.

Oh, he also ran Rahm's 2002 congressional campaign; the one that used Donald Tomczak's illegal street soldiers.

And Goldner formed For a Better Chicago while Rahm was running for mayor in 2011, described by Rick Perlstein in Rolling Stone as "an Emanuel-aligned political action committee that raised nearly a million dollars in secret cash to funnel to Rahm-friendly candidates for alderman."

Finally, Goldner was the man behind the CPS rent-a-protestor scandal.

So, naturally, Goldner hired Bills for his fake traffic safety coalition.

"The complaint alleges that Redflex increased its monthly payments to the Traffic Safety Coalition to help cover Bills' salary, an allegation Goldner denies," the Tribune notes.

"It is true that they changed how much we were paid from time to time, but there was no correlation," Goldner said.

Just coincidence. Which in Chicago is causation.

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It's true that the Redflex contract was originally awarded under Daley's watch. And the Sun-Times notes that "Redflex was fired by Mayor Rahm Emanuel last year and banned from bidding for contracts after the Chicago Tribune disclosed Bills' relationship with the firm."

But when Emanuel says, as he did Wednesday, "that the move proves he has 'zero tolerance for corruption and has worked to change the culture at City Hall,'" well, that's a little hard to take. After all, Emanuel participated in erecting that culture and keeping it in place for 22 years as one of Daley's closest allies and advisers.

You can't say with any validity that "For 22 years I told Chicago to vote for this man and his administration and now I want you to vote for me so I can change everything he did."

Of course, Emanuel isn't changing everything Daley did, except to the extent that he's doing it on steroids (including side effects of exploding rage and shrinking testicles). And I do believe Emanuel truly is embarrassed by the kind of corruption that pervaded Daley's City Hall; it's so low-rent. But that doesn't make Emanuel a paragon of virtue; it just makes him a different kind of ugly (and modern) political creature - an elitist whose corruption is built around ever slicker deceits of messaging, public relations and image-making disconnected from the reality of his shadowy governance.

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Fantasy Fix: Broken Arms
Jose Fernandez vs. Jason Hammel.

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BeachBook
* King County Pays Seattle Times More Than $40,000 For Public Records Violations.

#Hint.

* Glorious Leader! Kim Jong-Un Takes On U.S. Army In New Video Game.

The promo ends with Kim and a tooled-up Dennis Rodman standing side-by-side on a basketball court before descending through the floor.

* Carlos Boozer Gets A Bad-Ass Jeep.

How fast can he drive it out of town?

* CenterPoint Plans 12-Story Data Center Next To Chicago Data Hub.

Chicago officials greenlight massive facility next to 350 East Cermak.

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TweetWood

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Slayer tips only.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:13 AM | Permalink

May 14, 2014

Fantasy Fix: Broken Arms

It's a wonder Cy Young's arm didn't fall right off of his body at some point. His 511 career wins, 749 career complete games and 7,356 innings pitched are baseball's most unbreakable records. Sure, things were different back then - games were managed differently, pitchers didn't throw as hard and they were never pulled from games. Still, I think the "Cy" may have been short for "Cyborg."

This year, we are being reminded again why no modern pitcher will ever come close to those numbers. Not only has bullpen micro-management made the complete game virtually a thing of the past, the best pitchers in the game today simply can't stay healthy. Since the start of spring training, at least 18 pitchers have either had or are waiting to have reconstructive Tommy John surgery on their elbows, according to the USA Today.

Many of them, including the latest slated for season-ending surgery - Marlins ace Jose Fernandez - were considered to be in the top tier of fantasy pitching stat contributors.

Even aside from those catastrophic injuries, several more top pitchers - including Clayton Kershaw, Yu Darvish and Chris Sale - already have spent time on the disabled list this season with various maladies.

The trend is a troubling one, and has the potential to radically change how young amateur and professional pitchers are trained and handled. In the long term, it could also change the art of pitching and the game itself. Already, it is changing fantasy baseball.

As a fantasy manager, you can no longer place a premium value on pitchers - particularly starting pitchers. That's a big change from a few years ago, when it seemed like the best bet for winning a daily head-to-head fantasy league was to load up on top-tier arms early in the draft, then spend the season cycling them in and out of the rotation, piling up wins and strikeouts throughout the week.

With the current higher risk of injury among the best starters, it's starting to look like a better idea to focus more on offense early on, then in later rounds focus on drafting No. 2 and No. 3 starters from teams that are likely to contend.

I expect that for the time being, young pitchers will still try to bring up triple-digit readings on the radar gun, and as long as they do, the game will continue to be filled with massively-hyped SPs who will be hard to turn down come draft time.

No one will blame you for drafting an obvious stud like Fernandez in the second round, but do so with the knowledge of the increasing likelihood that seven weeks into the season you could very well be dropping a hotshot like Fernandez on the waiver wire for some undrafted schmo named Jason Hammel.

Expert Wire
* ESPN says it's hard to guess which pitchers will get hurt, which is why you need to adjust your whole concept of pitching value.

* CBS Sports eyes two-start starters for this week.

* Fantasy CPR is monitoring the status of new Cubs ace Hammel.

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

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:18 PM | Permalink

The [Wednesday] Papers

You were warned!

Normality should be restored to this column on Thursday.

Meanwhile:

* Into Thick Air.

My magazine story about the Elgin radar facility where a fire grounded air traffic today. This was the first piece I did for Chicago magazine; I was freelancing at the time.

* Tweeting Riot Fest's Truly Awesome Lineup.

Dear God Someone Help Me.

* Why Don't We Know How Many People Are Shot Each Year In America?

Hint: Politics.

* Local TV Notes: Dave Grohl vs. Tamron Hall.

Plus: Chicago's lizard penis king.

* Local Book Notes: Revisiting Comiskey.

Plus: 600 Eggs.

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BeachBook
* Democratic Senators Accuse Obama Of 'Culture Of Misinformation.'

Tried to warn ya'. Still accepting apologies. Not over it yet.

* Imprisoned Member Of Council Keeps Seat.

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TweetWood

Name names, please. Did Rahm order it? If not, who did? Will anyone be fired? Or does Rahm condone?

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Waiting for Patrick Daley's name to surface; he's probably got a sewer contract or something.

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Culture of misinformation.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Eggscellent.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 4:52 PM | Permalink

Local Book Notes: Revisiting Comiskey

1. "Everybody knows that one of the driving forces behind the 1919 Black Sox scandal was that the White Sox players were so upset with the penny-pinching ways of owner Charles Comiskey that they conspired with gamblers to throw the World Series to the Cincinnati Reds," Paul Hagen writes for MLB.com.

"But what if what everybody knows is wrong

"That's the bold premise of Tim Hornbaker in Turning the Black Sox White: The Misunderstood Legacy of Charles A. Comiskey."

2. On de-cluttering your bookshelf:

"Amy Trager, a certified professional organizer based in Chicago, suggested flipping the books around so the pages are facing out, instead of the spine, to cut down on the visual clutter of the books' different colors and sizes.

"That only works, of course, if you don't need to quickly access specific books, but it's a great way to add texture and a neutral, toned-down feeling to your space, Trager said."

Great tip - if books are merely decorative devices not made to be read.

3. "As you page through this lovely book, you start to understand the rationale behind Easter eggs," Laurie Hertzel writes for the Minneapolis StarTribune.

"On page after page of photographs of bird eggs from all over the world - 600 eggs - there is not a white one in the bunch. The eggs range from cream to tan to brown, from green to blue to red. Some have squiggles, or spots, or mottles."

The book is The Book of Eggs by Mark Hauer, published by the University of Chicago Press. Subtitle: A Life-Size Guide to the Eggs of Six Hundred of the World's Bird Species.

4.The Cook County Law Library continues its drive for new or gently used children's books through Sunday.

5. The Rise Of The Midwest In Young Adult Literature.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 3:15 PM | Permalink

Why Don't We Know How Many People Are Shot Each Year In America?

How many Americans have been shot over the past 10 years? No one really knows. We don't even know if the number of people shot annually has gone up or down over that time.

The government's own numbers seem to conflict. One source of data on shooting victims suggests that gun-related violence has been declining for years, while another government estimate actually shows an increase in the number of people who have been shot. Each estimate is based on limited, incomplete data. Not even the FBI tracks the total number of nonfatal gunshot wounds.

"We know how many people die, but not how many are injured and survive," said Dr. Demetrios Demetriades, a Los Angeles trauma surgeon who has been studying nationwide gunshot injury trends.

While the number of gun murders has decreased in recent years, there's debate over whether this reflects a drop in the total number of shootings, or an improvement in how many lives emergency room doctors can save.

Doctors and researchers have been advocating for better gun injury data since the late 1980s. But fierce political battles over gun violence research - including pressure from congressional Republicans that put an end to some government-funded studies on firearms - has meant that we still don't know many basic facts about gun violence in America.

"In the absence of real data, politicians and policymakers do what the hell they want," Dr. David Livingston, the director of the New Jersey Trauma Center at University Hospital in Newark. said "They do what the hell they want anyway," he added, "but in the absence of data, they have nobody to call them on it."

An initial push to create a national database of firearm injuries in the late 1980s and early 1990s was slowed by the political fight over Centers for Disease Control and Prevention funding for gun research, according to a history of the project written by researchers who worked on it. To make the effort more politically viable, as well as more scientifically rigorous, researchers decided to collect data on all violent deaths, not just firearm deaths.

And to cut costs, they decided to focus only on fatal injuries. Even that more limited effort has languished without full congressional funding - the database currently covers fewer than half of all states.

Most discussions of crime trends in America look back 20 years, to 1993, when violent crime of all kinds hit its peak. Compare 1993 to today, and the picture looks bright: The number of murders is down nearly 50 percent, and other kinds of violent crime have dropped even further.

The Department of Justice has estimates of nonfatal shootings that suggest a similar trend: Its National Crime Victimization Survey shows a decline, from an average of about 22,000 nonfatal shootings in 2002, to roughly 12,000 a year from 2007 to 2011, according to a Department of Justice statistician.

But over the same time period, CDC estimates show that the number of Americans coming to hospitals with nonfatal, violent gun injuries has actually gone up: from an estimated 37,321 nonfatal gunshot injuries in 2002 to 55,544 in 2011.

The contrast between the two estimates is hard to clear up, since each data source has serious limitations.

Experts say that household data-gathering efforts, like the National Crime Victimization Survey, likely miss the Americans who are most likely to be victims of gun violence.

Shooting victims are "disproportionately young men of color who are living unstable lives and often involved in underground markets or criminal activity, and this is a group that is incredibly difficult to survey," said Philip Cook, a gun violence expert at Duke University. "A lot of them are in jail at any point in time, or if they're not in jail, they have no stable address."

Meanwhile, the CDC numbers are based on a representative sample of 63 hospitals nationwide, and the margin of error for each estimate is very large. The CDC's best guess for the number of nonfatal intentional shootings in 2012 is somewhere between 27,000 and 91,000.

"Uncertainty in the estimates precludes definitive conclusions," one group of medical researchers explained in a back-and-forth in a journal on internal medicine last year.

The FBI also gathers data on gun crime from local police departments, but most departments do not track the number of people who are shot and survive. Instead, shootings are counted as part of the broader category of "aggravated assault," which includes a range of gun-related crimes, from waving a gun at threateningly to actually shooting someone.

There were about 140,000 firearm aggravated assaults nationwide in 2012, according to the FBI's report. How many of those assaults represent someone actually getting shot? There's no way to tell.

The lack of a clear number of nonfatal shootings has caused confusion.

A frequently cited 2012 Wall Street Journal article attributed the falling murder rate to advances in trauma care: "In Medical Triumph, Homicides Fall Despite Soaring Gun Violence." The article based its conclusion - that "America has become no less violent" over the past two decades - on the CDC's shooting estimates.

The article did not cite the other estimates of gun violence that show shootings trending down, or the level of uncertainty in the CDC's own data.

Livingston, the Newark trauma surgeon, said that it's "very nice" when journalists give trauma surgeons credit for saving more lives. "I think that improvements in trauma care clearly have made a great difference," he said. "On the other hand, if you don't know the extent of all of the patients, and all of the data, you can make some erroneous conclusions."

At University Hospital, which treats the vast majority of shooting victims from Newark and surrounding towns, Livingston and other doctors decided to do their own research.

"It's easy to count dead people. But counting people who are merely injured? The data was all over the place, and, frankly, terrible," Livingston said.

In a paper published early this year, they looked back at their own hospital's records and logged every gunshot wound patient from 2000 to 2011.

What they found was that the number of patients injured by guns had actually held roughly steady over the past decade. But the injuries were getting worse. The percentage of patients who came in with multiple bullet wounds had increased from only 10 percent in 2001 to 23 percent in 2011. The incidence of brain and spinal cord injuries almost doubled.

And though trauma care has advanced over the past decade, the mortality rate for gunshot wound patients in Newark had actually increased, from 9 percent to 14 percent.

With more severe gunshot injuries came increased costs. The researchers estimated the total cost over 10 years for their hospital was at least $115 million - and three quarters of that was unreimbursed, which meant that taxpayers ultimately paid the bills.

In total, the hospital had treated an average of 527 patients with intentional violent gunshot injuries each year: "unrelenting violence," as the researchers termed it.

Are the trends that the Newark researchers observed an anomaly? Or are gunshot wound injuries across the county becoming more severe, as they have at this one hospital? The Newark researchers looked for national data and could not find it.

After the American Bar Association and medical and public health groups collaborated on an extensive campaign - with the message, "what we don't know is killing us" - Congress did approve funds to begin building a National Violent Death Reporting System in 2002. The push was inspired by a successful effort to track highway vehicle accidents, which experts say has helped reduce the number of deaths from car crashes.

But until last year, the system had only received enough congressional funding to collect detailed data on deaths in 18 states. Then after the Sandy Hook shootings, Congress approved an additional nearly $8 million for database, though that still isn't enough to detail violent deaths in all 50 states.

President Obama has asked for enough funding next year - $23.5 million - to allow the CDC to finally begin to collect violent death data nationwide.

As for tracking the number of Americans who are violently injured and survive, CDC spokeswoman Courtney Lenard, said simply, that "is something that may be considered in the future."

Funding a CDC effort to track nonfatal violence is not the only path to getting a better answer. Livingston and Demetriades, the Los Angeles trauma surgeon, suggested that independent medical associations could also help collect national nonfatal gun injury data, supported by government funding, and perhaps by legislation. In order to get a clear picture of gun violence, injury data from hospitals should be combined with local law enforcement data about crimes, they said.

Another solution might be better FBI data.

"In my opinion, the FBI's Uniform Crime Reports system should be changed so that it tracks nonfatal gunshot woundings in criminal assaults," said Daniel Webster, a gun violence researcher at Johns Hopkins University. "If the FBI could get local agencies to include nonfatal criminal shootings into its UCR system, you have the capacity to track information that hospitals couldn't - distinguishing domestic shootings, from gang shootings, from robbery shootings."

An FBI spokesman said that changes in data collection practices could be made through congressional mandate or through the Criminal Justice Information Services Division Advisory Process, which would require buy-in from an advisory board of local, state and national law enforcement representatives.

In the past, changes to UCR data collection methods have been rare, the spokesman said. But several changes have been made in recent years, including changing the definition of rape, and changing how data about hate crimes is collected.

Cook, the Duke University researcher, said that the first step should be to find out why CDC data shows a different trend than other measures, and clarifying whether the ways hospitals collect data - or changes in the willingness of patients with minor gunshot wounds to come to the hospital for treatment - might explain the disparity.

"We have a variety of other evidence that gun violence is going down," Cook said. "By Occam's razor, I'd have to believe that the simplest explanation is that the nonfatal woundings are going down, too."

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Comments welcome.


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 2:46 PM | Permalink

Local TV Notes: Dave Grohl vs. Tamron Hall

1. "Foo Fighters frontman Dave Grohl will present and produce his own TV series on HBO, according to a report in Classic Rock magazine," Jam Bands notes.

"The untitled series will expand on what Grohl set out to do in his Sound City documentary, as the frontman will visit and record at some of the world's most iconic recording studios.

"In addition to the recording, Grohl will conduct interviews with some of the artists who have recorded at each facility. Studios in consideration include Steve Albini's Electrical Audio in Chicago."

2. Tamron Hall's Morning Routine Is Of Interest To People Because Our World Is Badly Flawed.

Hall formerly indulged her morning routine for Fox Chicago before getting promoted to the big leagues of indulgement.

3. Chicago Man On TV Because A Lizard Crawled Up His Penis - And He Liked It.

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4. Glencoe Native's Stupid Rom-Com To Be Set In Chicago But Not Filmed Here.

5. "A Crystal Lake man who in 2008 drunkenly crashed a snowmobile in Wisconsin, killing a Chicago TV news anchor, was sentenced to two years in prison today for a later DUI," the Tribune reports.

"Scott Hirschey, 50, was charged with drunken driving in Crystal Lake in July 2012, just around the time he was due to complete a three-year probation sentence for the snowmobile crash that killed his longtime friend and passenger, WBBM-Ch. 2 morning news anchor Randy Salerno."

6. "Here's a report [uploaded Saturday by The Museum of Classic Chicago Television] from Fred Villanueva of WLS Channel 7 on the funeral of slain mob boss Sam Giancana This was apparently from the 5 p.m. edition, as the report is introduced by John Drury.

"From this report, we learn that the funeral was held at 6901 West Belmont, and after the procession passed by his home, it went to the Queen of Heaven Cemetery where he was buried with his late wife who'd died in 1954.

"After the report ends, John is about to report on a hearing held by Senator Charles Percy about opium and the CIA before the recording cuts out.

"Technical Note: While this report originally aired in color, as presented here it was recorded on an early reel-to-reel home videotape recorder in black-and-white. Also, the recording cuts out for a brief period almost a minute in before resuming.

"This aired on local Chicago TV on Monday, June 23rd 1975."

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 1:43 PM | Permalink

Tweeting Riot Fest's Truly Awesome Chicago Lineup

Thanks to the person behind @RiotFest, the announcement of the lineup every year has become the music world's equivalent of the NFL draft - a man-made drama filled with speculation, hype, disappointment and surprise. Here are highlights of the best responses to this year's announcement, made Tuesday night.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:42 PM | Permalink

May 13, 2014

The [Tuesday] Papers

"There isn't much glamour in this kind of work, but someone has to do it," Kristina Strain writes for Inside Philanthropy.

"Since 1890 - that's right, for over 100 years - the VNA Foundation has been dedicated to community health initiatives in and around Chicago. First as a hands-on care group - VNA stands for Visiting Nurse Association, after all - and later, from 1995 forward, as a grantmaker funding groups doing the hands-on health work, VNAF has been giving out funding to the tune of about $2 million per year.

"And the beautiful thing is, they're transparent as glass. They're generous and accessible, and if you're Chicago-based with a health-access angle, you need to know about them."

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Programming Note
I don't have time for a full column today. Tomorrow is iffy. But after that, should be back on a normal schedule.

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The Cub Factor: Misaligned Incentives
Ricky Renteria ordered the Code Red.

Local Music Notebook: Exploding In Sound!
Featuring: Kelly Hogan, Nels Cline, Tommy Lee, Muddy Waters' son, George Harrison, Lollapalooza, Tortoise, Jessica Cleaves of Earth, Wind & Fire, Israeli Jazz Fest, and Geronimo!

Beachwood International No. 13
The Hippest Trip Around The Globe.

Featuring: Rob Ford, Gerry Adams, Donald Sterling, the Rio Olympics, international man of mystery Abu Hamza, Michael Lewis and our rigged stock market, and planes with parachutes and auctions with virgins in Australia Is The Florida Of The World.

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BeachBook
* Chicago Bus Stop by The Salsoul Orchestra.

* Andrew Bird Is Making A Record Of Handsome Family Covers.

* Columbia College Students To Design City-Themed Condom Dispensers For CPS.

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TweetWood

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Silver and gold.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 11:39 AM | Permalink

Misaligned Incentives

Here's the problem with Jeff Samardzija throwing 126 pitches against the White Sox last week: According to Theo Epstein, it doesn't matter whether the Cubs win 68 or 73 games this year.

So why is Ricky Renteria trying so hard to win that game that he pushes him past what he acknowledges was his pitch limit?

If the game mattered, that would be one thing. And even still, if this was a potential playoff team, you'd want to keep Samardzija fresh for late in the season.

But the game did not matter. It didn't even matter to show Samardzija's trade value; it only endangered it.

Misaligned incentives all the way around.

The Week In Review: The Cubs dropped three of four to the White Sox and got swept by the Braves before exploding for 17 runs last night to rout the Cardinals, thereby filling their May quota in one fell swoop.

The Week In Preview: Seventeen runs in one game may look good, but when all is said and done they can - and most likely will - still lose three of four in St. Louis. Then it's home to face Matt Garza and the division-leading Milwaukee Brewers.

Wrigley Is 100 Celebration: The Cubs' team batting average is .235, but as part of the season-long promotion of their ballpark, they will try to get it down to .100 by season's end - in which case everyone wins a free taco.

Theo Condescension Meter: 9.

No movement due to keeping his mouth shut this week.

Jed Hoyer Condescension Meter: 10.

First, he's a liar. Consider this story from Carrie Muskat at MLB.com last Friday:

Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer said Thursday the subject of pitch counts regarding Jeff Samardzija, who threw a career-high 126 pitches Monday night, is a "non-story" and not worth discussing any more.

Samardzija threw that many pitches over nine innings against the White Sox at Wrigley Field. The Cubs right-hander did not get a decision in a 3-1, 12-inning loss. Cubs manager Rick Renteria and pitching coach Chris Bosio wanted to keep Samardzija in the game as long as possible in hopes of getting him his first victory in his seventh start.

"It's Thursday," Hoyer told reporters at U.S. Cellular Field. "We're talking about something that happened on Monday. You look at the comments that Rick made and I made, they're almost identical. To me, that's a non-story."

Renteria was asked before Thursday's game if he had talked to Hoyer about Samardzija, and said no.

"I talk to Rick every day about pitcher usage, bullpen usage, starter usage," Hoyer said. "Our conversation the day after that outing was really not that much different. I think all three of us said individually when asked about 126 pitches, he said, 'Am I going to do it every time out? No.'

"No one, Theo [Epstein, president of baseball operations] and me included, had a problem with [Samardzija] throwing 126 on Monday night," Hoyer said. "But I think all three of us have said individually that that's something that's not going to happen every time out.

"If you read all of our comments, I don't think any comment was really an outlier," Hoyer said. "It's just a story that should probably die."

Okay. Now consider what Hoyer said three days earlier: "You don't like to see a guy get (his pitch count) up that high . . . Certainly after an outing like that, we're all going to sit down and discuss it."

Also, Hoyer doesn't get to decide what is and what isn't a story.

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Plus, this:

"Certainly, part of our payroll going down a little bit is right now our ticket revenue isn't where it has been."

So the team isn't spending on major-league payroll because not enough fans are shelling out hard-earned dollars on the worst squads the woebegone franchise has ever dared to field, making them even worse?

Is Hoyer aware that his employer has a net worth well over a billion dollars?

Prospects Are Suspects: ESPN analyst Rick Sutcliffe told a national audience last week that if the Cubs were really trying to win, Javy Baez would've opened the season batting third.

Um, okay.

In 26 games at Iowa, Baez's slash line is .153/.245/.276. He has 40 strikeouts in 98 at-bats. He's committed six errors.

Come to think of it, it actually is a wonder he's not with the big-league club.

That's Ricky: It's a non-story that the manager himself says he pushed the team's most valuable trade asset to the limit in a game that didn't matter?

"I put myself in a no-win situation potentially," said Renteria, who admitted Tuesday that he had a 125-pitch limit in mind as Samardzija took the mound for the ninth and that Dayan Viciedo would have been the final batter for Samardzija no matter what.

"If he doesn't get that double play, I'm not going to let him face the next hitter," Renteria said. "I've got to think about his health, his well-being, and the pitches he's thrown."

That also doesn't jibe with Hoyer's contention that everyone's statements aligned.

But also:

Renteria said he "wasn't aware" of all the attention generated by Samardzija's comments.

"I can't speak to it because, again, I don't read the paper," Renteria said. "I didn't know any of that was going on."

Um, the budget is so tight they won't pay for a subscription? Or do you prefer ignorance as a strategy?

Since you don't read, Ricky, let me fill you in on something: One, Dale Sveum didn't read the news either. It showed, as he often appeared in the dark and at odds with his bosses until the very day he was fired.

Oh, and also, that means you missed this reminder: "A front office that fired manager Grady Little in Boston a decade ago for allowing Pedro Martinez to pitch longer than advised in a playoff game watched anxiously."

Laughable Headline Of The Week: Ugly Triple-A Start Can Be Good for Javier Baez.

Yes, so much so that we're all rooting for Kris Bryant to go in the tank next.

Mad Merch: The first 10,000 fans to the ballpark on Friday will get a Babe Ruth Called Shot bobblehead. Only at Wrigley do the promotions celebrate the historic moments of the opposition.

Billy Cub vs. Clark Cub: Liars!

Advantage: Billy.

The Junior Lake Show: Homered, doubled twice and drove in six runs against the Cardinals. Also committed a bone-headed error. Yes! That's why we love him here; he keeps both teams in the game.

He's on pace to hit 17 HRs and drive in 50 - a pace dictated by his limited playing time. Free Junior Lake!

Mustache Wisdom: "Cubs players were wearing new T-shirts, courtesy of pitcher Edwin Jackson, that feature a picture of Carlos Villanueva and his curly mustache on front and some of the pitcher's favorite sayings on back," Muskat reported Friday.

"It's the second version of the T-shirt, which the players also wore last year. This season, Jackson had two colors done - blue and a bright citron. Not all of the 10 sayings are printable, but they do include such Villanueva favorites as 'I'm the glue' and 'Whatever.'"

Wishing Upon A Starlin: Starlin Castro has 5 HRs and 19 RBIs after in 148 at-bats. Junior Lake 4 HRs and 14 RBIs in 98 at-bats. Castro is the new Cubs' clean-up hitter.

Ameritrade Stock Pick of the Week: Shares of Jed Hoyer are trading at a higher volume as he threatens to become an even bigger dick than Theo. We caution sitting tight, however, as Theo is likely to have more staying power than Hoyer.

Shark Tank: "It's an on-field issue for uniformed personnel."

What is this, the Army?

Besides that, it became an off-field issue for civilians the second you signed that first $10 million contract.

Jumbotron Preview: 5,700 square-feet of Javy Baez setting the team's single-season strikeout record.

Kubs Kalender: Wait 'til next year 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020.

Over/Under: Number of pitches Samardzija throws in his next start: +/- 60.

Beachwood Sabermetrics: A complex algorithm performed by The Cub Factor staff using all historical data made available by Major League Baseball has determined that Jeff Samardzija will get hurt before the Cubs trade him.
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Hashtag Cubs Mother's Day Special.


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

The White Sox Report: Know the enemy.

Fantasy Fix: A Crosstown Couple.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:29 AM | Permalink

Beachwood International with The Angry Aussie No. 13: The Hippest Trip Around The Globe

This week the boys tie up loose ends with Donald Sterling, Gerry Adams, Rob Ford and the Rio Olympics before checking in on the New York City trial of accused terrorist and international man of mystery Abu Hamza.

We also discuss Michael Lewis's expose of our rigged stock market (and the amazing lack of American media coverage thereof), and talk about parachuting planes and virgin auctions in our Australia Is The Florida Of The World segment.


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Catch up with the Beachwood Reporter Radio archives.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:17 AM | Permalink

Local Music Notebook: Exploding In Sound!

1. "One of the recent additions to Exploding In Sound's ever expanding roster is the Chicago punk band Geronimo! who really earn that exclamation point in their name with the new album Cheap Trick," Miles Bowe writes for Stereogum.

Here's one track; you can click through for the rest.

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2. Israeli Jazz Fest continues through May 17.

3. What It's Like To Be Muddy Waters' Son.

Blues singer Mud Morganfield speaks about his tough upbringing in the Chicago ghetto and stepping out of his father's shadow.

4. Wilco Guitarist Nels Cline Also Fronts A Jazz Band.

5. Soul Singer Jessica Cleaves Dies At 65.

Cleaves joined the Friends of Distinction, formed by Cleaves, Harry Elston, Floyd Butler and Barbara Love, in the late '60s and the group's first single "Grazin' in the Grass" reached the top five on both the pop and soul charts in 1969.

She later left the group to join the then-fledgling Chicago band Earth Wind and Fire and recorded the albums Last Days and Time and Head to the Sky.

6. Tortoise In Asia.

7. Tommy Lee To Play Drums On New Smashing Pumpkins Album.

And then he'll read from One Hundred Years of Solitude at Billy's tea shop.

8. Wall Street Journal: The Concert Industry's Big Hot Summer.

For Lollapalooza in Chicago, tickets sold out in 20 minutes - twice as fast as ever - even before the lineup of bands was announced.

Article neglects to mention Pitchfork or Riot Fest.

9. Guitar Bought By Beatle At Discount In Illinois Could Fetch $600K At Auction.

Harrison bought the 1962 Rickenbacker 425 for between $400 and $500.

10. Kelly Hogan Puts Down Roots Near Madison After Befriending Lynda Barry And Touring With Neko Case.

[T]he last neighborhood I lived in Chicago, your landlord should tell you when you're moving in [there] that you're on a gang-turf boundary line. You find that out the hard way. I was in a violent neighborhood, and it was really destructive. I bartended a long time at this place called the Hideout. I would be coming home by myself at 3 a.m. and dodging gunfire from 15-year-olds who couldn't even grow a mustache yet. No grasp of mortality. I was a little rattled. When I was home from tour, I couldn't rest.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 5:52 AM | Permalink

May 12, 2014

The [Monday] Papers

"Folks in Bridgeport have been looking to the skies in recent weeks, wondering why they are suddenly hearing hundreds of planes some days headed into Midway Airport about 7 miles away," the Sun-Times reports.

"In 30 years, I've not heard noise like we are hearing now,'' said Kathy Krugler, 64, of Bridgeport. "It's unbelievable.''

"Turns out, since Feb. 6, a new flight path into Midway's Runway 22L has been sending a barrage of planes over a new swath of South Side and Southwest Side neighborhoods."

So it's not just the North Side suffering from new noise patterns.

It's the sort of thing you think Daley wouldn't have allowed but that Rahm probably isn't even aware of.

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"That includes portions of the Bridgeport, Armour Square and Douglas neighborhoods and perhaps parts of McKinley Park, according to estimates pieced together by the Chicago Sun-Times from Federal Aviation Administration maps.

"Of all the wards, the 11th - home to once clout-heavy Bridgeport - has the largest land mass affected by the flight changes, maps indicate."

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

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Like with most everything in the Rahm administration, residents were given no advance warning, much less a semblance of a say in the changes. At least Daley could anticipate trouble spots and co-opt potential opposition (or simply buy silence).

"A spokeswoman at the Chicago Department of Aviation was unable to answer questions last week about Midway. But Krugler and Weyer say they didn't know about the changes until they were hit in the face with them. That's becoming a familiar pattern, said Jac Charlier of the Fair Allocation in Runways Coalition, which is pushing for more even usage of O'Hare runways.

"Some Northwest Side and suburban residents were taken by surprise by two O'Hare flight pattern changes since October of 2013, Charlier said."

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"Following I-55 and the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal, the route flies over fewer residences and a smaller area, saving fuel and time for airlines and travelers, [FAA spokesman Tony] Molinaro said. New flight technology made it possible, he said."

That might very well be true - and just by looking at the map the change seems to make sense - but I don't understand it. How does "new technology" allow for the new route? Old technology couldn't follow I-55 and the sanitary canal?

(Molinaro's e-mail account was apparently unavailable for questions.)

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"Ald. James Balcer (11th) said he couldn't remember if he was invited to the public meetings about the Runway 22L flight path changes."

Maybe he couldn't hear the phone ring when the FAA tried to notify him.

But if there were public meetings, why was anyone surprised?

Also, if Balcer can't remember if he was invited to the public meetings, that means he surely didn't attend the public meetings.

Maybe he was too busy at the heliport meetings.

Watch your flank, alderman.

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The Beachwood Radio Hour: Rahm On The Ropes!
Now with Show Notes.

Beachwood International with The Angry Aussie
The Hippest Trip Around The Globe.

SportsMonday: Johnny Hockey
Can anyone tell me, specifically, what it is that Jonathan Toews does so well?

The White Sox Report: Escalators & Troughs
Some choices are easier than others.

The Cub Factor
Will appear on Tuesday.

The Weekend In Chicago Rock
Featuring: Electric Citizen, Slint, Powerman 5000, Television, Reignwolf, Flamin' Groovies, OFF!, Gladys Knight, Within the Hollow, Timber Timbre, Thee Silver Mount Zion Memorial Orchestra, Pretentious Moi, Adventures, Seahaven, Foxing, and Dance Gavin Dance.

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BeachBook
* O.J. Simpson Media Grateful For Double-Murder.

* Illinois School District Quits National School Lunch Program.

* Under Emanuel, Principals Have No Voice.

Join the club.

* Chicago Heights Is The Fastest-Growing Town In Illinois.

* Responses To 'Under Emanuel, Principals Have No Voice.'

Proposed title for Rahm's biography: No One Left To Alienate.

* Former NSA Director: 'We Kill People Based On Metadata.'

* Muralist's Last Surviving Painting Destroyed In South Shore.

* EEOC Sues AutoZone Again.

AutoZone, Inc. violated federal law when it implemented a nationwide attendance policy that failed to accommodate certain disability-related absences, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in its fourth disability lawsuit in recent years against the giant auto parts retailer.

According to the EEOC's complaint, from 2009 till at least 2011, AutoZone assessed employees nationwide "points" for absences, without permitting any general exception for disability-related absences. Twelve points resulted in an employee's termination.

As a result, qualified employees with disabilities with even modest numbers of disability-related absences were fired, the complaint alleges. This included, for example, an Ottawa, Ill. employee with Type 2 diabetes who had to leave work early occasionally because of insulin reactions and who was fired because of the resulting attendance points.

* Hydrox Cookies Making A Comeback.

Leaf Brands will make the official announcement later this month at the Sweets & Snacks Expo in Chicago on May 20.

* Blogger Wins Bikini Battle.

Brooke Birmingham, a 28-year-old blogger from Illinois in Chicago set the Internet alight last week when she claimed that her bikini-clad 'after' shot following her 77 kilogram weight loss was rejected from Shape magazine for their 'success stories' section on their website.

* Can't We All Agree That Criminal Defendants Should Have The Chance To See Secret Evidence?

In the 36-year existence of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), the government has never disclosed classified FISA materials - the specific applications for surveillance and the factual affidavits that support the surveillance request - to a criminal defendant.

That all changed in January 2014 when a federal judge in Chicago ordered the government to turn over surveillance applications and affidavits to the attorneys representing Adel Daoud, a 19 year-old accused of attempting to blow up a bar in Chicago.

As the government appeals that decision to the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals, we've signed onto an amicus brief written by the ACLU and the ACLU of Illinois filed today that explains why Judge Sharon Coleman was right to order disclosure.

* Lawfully Present, Lawfully Excluded: DACA & Obamacare.

* Telecom Giants Paid Millions To 'Honor' Minority Lawmakers Before Merger.

* Summertime With WGN.

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TweetWood

Hint: No.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: We'll kill for your metatips.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:15 PM | Permalink

The Weekend In Chicago Rock

You shoulda been there.

1. Electric Citizen at the Subterranean on Sunday night.


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2. Powerman 5000 at Mojoes in Joliet on Sunday night.

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3. Reignwolf at the Double Door on Friday night.

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4. Flamin' Groovies at the House of Blues on Friday night.

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5. Slint at Bottom Lounge on Saturday night.

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6. Television at the Metro on Thursday night.

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7. OFF! at Bottom Lounge on Thursday night.

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8. Within the Hollow at Mojoes in Joliet on Friday night.

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9. Timber Timbre at the Empty Bottle on Saturday night.

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10. Thee Silver Mount Zion Memorial Orchestra at Lincoln Hall on Thursday night.

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11. Pretentious, Moi? at Bottom Lounge on Friday night.

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12. Adventures at Schubas on Saturday night.

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13. Seahaven at Schubas on Saturday night.

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14. Foxing at Schubas on Saturday night.

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15. Gladys Knight at the Chicago Theatre on Friday night.

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16. Dance Gavin Dance at Bottom Lounge on Friday night.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:59 AM | Permalink

Escalators & Troughs

Life may simply be a series of choices, but some are easier than others.

When I was a just a kid of six or seven, our family moved to suburban Chicago from Cincinnati. The choice of Sox versus Cubs was an obvious one. The Sox were a good team. The Cubs weren't, and we were frontrunners.

For all I know, our dad never saw an American League game until he drove us to Comiskey Park for the first time. Since the Reds were his National League team, he never said boo about us becoming Cub fans even though we lived on the North Shore.

In the grander scheme of things, this sort of choice ranks below choosing a career, how best to parent children, or whether to drink light beer. You might want to put being a faithful, loving spouse who makes healthy decisions in your top two or three.

Nevertheless, picking the White Sox more than 60 years ago clearly goes into my "life-changer" column.

Not all of my friends were influenced by their parents when they were old enough to detect that Mom and Dad were aficionados of either the North Side team or the South Side team. A couple of guys rooted for the Phillies because the brother of one of them signed a contract with them and pitched in their minor league system.

Another pal whose Cardinal hat I still can picture, e-mailed last week, "My dad took me to my first MLB game at Wrigley in 1948. We sat behind the Cards' dugout, and I never will forget seeing those redbirds sitting on the yellow bat on the chests of the uniforms. Love at first sight. My dad said I picked the right team. He disliked the Cubs."

There were plenty of Sox fans on the North Shore as families moved there from the South Side, but the majority rooted for the Cubs. Some of my best friends were Cub fans. There were arguments - who would you rather have, Aparicio or Banks? - but for the most part, we lived in harmony.

In the interest of full disclosure, we Sox fans also went to Cub games. When we were 11 or 12, we could ride on the old North Shore Line, transfer to the El at Howard Street, and go to Wrigley Field. The Cubs played only day games, and management boasted that "20,000 tickets go on sale the day of every game."

They could have said "30,000" on most weekday afternoons and been accurate. We rooted for the visiting team, ate hot dogs, drank lemonade, and basically sat wherever we wanted. Even when the Schuessler brothers and their friend Robert Peterson - boys about our age - were found murdered on the North Side in 1955, our parents never balked when we said we were going to a Cub game. It was the '50s.

Wrigley Field was clean, bright, well-maintained and - how shall I say? - almost angelic. Ernie's "Let's play two!" danced among the mostly empty seats, creating an innocent tableau to match the times.

But Comiskey was another story. The Sox played night games in a stadium with an entirely different aura than the so-called Friendly Confines. A parent was required to accompany us to the South Side where there were Negroes, poor people and neighborhoods that were as different from ours as Target is from Gucci.

Unlike Wrigley Field with bleachers open to the sky, Comiskey's upper deck encircled the entire stadium except for dead-center field where customers sat on wooden planks far from the action. Yet, a Friday night game against the Yankees could draw 50,000, and we often wound up in the dark corners of the outfield gazing down on the emerald field where the games actually meant something in the standings.

The unfathomable happened in 1959 when Fox, Aparicio, Wynn, Pierce and others overtook Mantle, Berra, Skowron and Ford to win the pennant. (The Yankees actually finished third that year.)

Dad, who clung to the notion that the Sox "roll over and play dead" when facing the New Yorkers, vowed that he'd take us to the World Series if the Sox ever got there. That's how certain he was that they'd never make it.

This being Chicago, clout is what counted when Series tickets went on sale, and Pop didn't have enough. But we soon learned that Bill Veeck was selling those 2,000 centerfield bleacher tickets before each game. All we had to do was make sure we were near the front of the line, and, bingo, we'd see the World Series.

Since Dad felt guilty about failing to score tickets, he was easy pickings when we lobbied to roll down (my older friends were 16 and could drive) to Comiskey the night before Game 1 to wait until 8 a.m. when tickets went on sale. Our mother didn't have a chance. Let's just say that none of us slept that night. My parents because they were worried sick, and me and five friends because we were having the time of our lives with a couple of thousand delirious Sox fans lined up outside the left field grandstand.

By the way, tickets cost $2.06.

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So we saw the glorious opening game - an 11-0 pasting of the Dodgers - and returned a week later for the demoralizing 9-3 loss in Game 6 that ended the season.

Sitting behind the Sox bullpen at Wrigley Field last week, I thought about those days when Wrigley was no anomaly. All the ballparks were of the same vintage when I was a child. Wrigley differed because there were no lights. From a business standpoint, that was dumb, judging from the team's attendance. (Of course, a losing ballclub didn't help.)

I watched the Sox beat the Cubs 3-1 and 5-1 from my friend Steve's seat down the right-field line. He's had one ticket for 25 or 30 years, but he was out of town, so I got the seat.

I asked myself, Is this the same place I went to as a kid? The winter-like night on Monday was nothing like those warm summer days full of sunshine, and walking to my seat, I stepped in more potholes than you encounter on Halsted. The concourses were full throughout the game as fans waited in slow-moving lines at the concession stands even though the park was just over half full.

I limited my beer intake as lines in the bathroom matched those for food. And maybe it's just me, but pissing in a trough has never been my cup of tea.

Lights have been around Wrigley Field for almost 26 years, and the field is by far the brightest spot in the building. Seats far back in the grandstand are every bit as dark as those at old Comiskey, and the concourse is enveloped in a dim pall.

Possibly some of what I experienced could be remedied with a potent dose of Ernie's mantra and optimism, the same kind of anticipation gripping The Cell these days. The Cubs finally came to life on Thursday, pummeling the Sox 12-5. Many fans departed when Mike Olt belted a grand slam off the now-departed Maikel Cleto in the top of the eighth.

But the Sox crowd was alive over the weekend at The Cell despite two losses to the Arizona Diamondbacks. When the revered Paul Konerko drove a line drive far over the left field fence on Saturday to bring the Sox within a run, the place was electric.

Paulie came up again in the ninth against former Sock Addison Reed with the tying run on second and two outs. More than 24,000 fans were on their feet. The vision of this White Sox icon performing yet another super feat energized the stands. What if he slammed another one into the seats?

Unfortunately - maybe predictably - Konerko grounded out, the Sox lost 4-3 and then were listless on Sunday in a 5-1 loss to pitcher Chase Anderson, who was making his big league debut.

Filing out of The Cell on Saturday, a ballpark to which I've never felt much attachment, I couldn't help but notice how bright it is. The concourse is airy and wide. An escalator whisked me to street level. I can't say I've ever truly admired or appreciated the place. But after experiencing two nights on the other side of town, this didn't seem too shabby.

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

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:51 AM | Permalink

SportsMonday: Johnny Hockey

Can anyone tell me, specifically, what it is that Jonathan Toews does so well? It isn't puck-handling. It isn't Marian Hossa-style hold the puck and hold the puck and hold the puck and then make the perfect pass or shot at the absolute last second.

His shot is strong but not blisteringly fast or accurate. He is a physical presence, especially on defense, but he isn't flying around crashing into everyone and thank goodness. Otherwise he'd probably be out with an "upper body injury" that sure looked like a killer shot to the head. Actually, we'll get back to that physical presence stuff.

He skates well but he isn't flying down the ice faster than just about anyone else like, say, a Patrick Sharp.

I suppose we have to go with a cliché. I mean, there is a reason people say certain things about great athletes and then say them again. It is because those truths are particularly apt, particularly frequently.

And as far as Toews goes, the man has been remarkably good at doing exactly what his team needs, when it needs it. He has done it game after game, month after month and season after season. He also knows how to finish, especially with the game on the line.

Toews isn't particularly known for his physicality but he knew yesterday's game was of the sort that could turn on a perfectly timed hit.

And sure enough he provided a crunching body check deep in Minnesota territory with the game in the balance well into the third period. Just as the Wild's Matt Cooke had set the tone the previous game with physical play that led to turnovers and goals, so did Toews rub out a foe to create offense. Shortly thereafter, Toews powered into perfect position in front of the net.

That hit gave the Hawks possession that resulted in a shot, a mad scramble, an almost hand pass, a rebound and finally a weak Toews backhander that barely crossed the goal line. The Hawks had the lead they would not relinquish and the eventual 2-1 victory gave them a 3-2 advantage in the series with the Wild. Game 6 is Tuesday back in St. Paul at 8 p.m.

It was Toews' 10th career, post-season, game-winning goal. That remarkable number is a nice, specific accomplishment that speaks to the man's brilliance on the ice.

Speaking of Toews, thank goodness coach Q finally calmed down, at least a little bit, and put Patrick Sharp back on the top line with the Hawks captain and Hossa at the start of the second period. It wasn't a coincidence they were the forward trio who were mixing it up like nobody's business in the moments leading up to Toews somehow jamming in his game-winning goal.

At some point during the Hawks' trip up to Minnesota last week, Mr. Quenneville came a bit unhinged and started over-coaching. He sat Nick Leddy in one game and Kris Versteeg in the next. He devised all sorts of goofy line combos and gave rookies like Jeremy Morin and Phil Regin significant ice time. Now, Regin did make a big play on Sunday, drawing the hooking penalty that led to Bryan Bickell's second-period power-play tip-in of a Patrick Kane shot.

But Games 3, 4 and 5 of a second-round playoff series is an awfully strange time to be making every change in the book. Game 3 was disappointing and the Hawks did not play their best hockey in Game 4 or even in the first period of Game 5. But they were still close.

At some point a coach has to trust his championship team to get itself going. And while all of Quenneville's activity may have sparked the Hawks a bit, the biggest keys to Sunday's game were rock-solid defense spearheaded by stalwarts Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook and goalie Corey Crawford at one end, and the Hawks' best forwards making a few huge plays at the other.

That will be the formula for one more win as well and an invitation to play on in the Western Conference championship. As long as Toews leads the way, and Quenneville stays out of the way, the Hawks should be good to go.

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Jim "Coach" Coffman is our man on Mondays. You can also listen to him weekly on The Beachwood Radio Hour. He welcomes your comments.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:20 AM | Permalink

The Beachwood Radio Hour #6: Rahm On The Ropes!

Plus: Spotlight interview with Robeson's High School's after-school activities director Tanis Seats.

Also: Cowboy Nate's Rainbo Boilermaker.

And: Jim "Coach" Coffman on the Bears' draft, the Blackhawks' change of fortune [before Game 5], and the continued comical stylings of the Cubs.


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SHOW NOTES

00: Strawberry Rock Show

2:48: Rahm on the Ropes!

* Rahm's Receipts

* Chicagoland Stage-Managed

* Rahm's Chicagoland Response Requires Suspension Of Disbelief

* Nobody Likes Rahm's Proposal For Obama High

* Obama High Developed Under 'Communications Gap'

* Stanton Parks Advisory Council

* Whites Getting More Spots At Top Chicago Public High Schools

* Rahm's Arrogance Exceeds His Accomplishments

* Naftali Bendavid, Howard Dean & The [Rahmbo] Papers

* Reading Rahm: Master Media Manipulator

* Rahm's Rules Part 1: Paperclips And Petitions

* Rahm's Rules Part 2: Ballot Bollocks

* The Problem With @MayorEmanuel

* Running Red Lights

* FORGOT TO MENTION: Under Rahm, Principals Have No Voice

Which has spawned a movement.

* Sun-Times Poll

20:10: "If I Had A Tail," Queens of the Stone Age at the Aragon last Monday night.

21:37: SPOTLIGHT: Tanis Seats, after-school activities coordinator, Robeson High School.

The secret lair.

SeatsLair.JPG(ENLARGE)

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* Kennedy-King College: Biological Sciences, HVAC Lab, Washburne Culinary Institute

39:46: Matchess at the Burlington last Tuesday night.

The Problems & Politics Of Pat Quinn's Neighborhood Recovery Initiative

42:51: Nate Cowboy

* The Picket Fence

* Letherbee Distillers

* Battle Brews Over Malort Name

51:40: "Airwaves," Ray LaMontagne, at the Park West last Thursday night.

53:54: Sports Roundup with Jim "Coach" Coffman. The Blackhawks get more than they bargained for in the Wild; the Bears make a luxury draft pick; and the Cubs continue their comically crappy ways.

* NFL Draft Ratings Dwarfed Everybody Else

* Johnny Manziel Playing The World's Smallest Violins

* Ego Ferguson

Stoppage Time: 18:42:10

See also:
* Beachwood International with The Angry Aussie No. 13: The Hippest Trip Around The Globe.

This week the boys tie up loose ends with Donald Sterling, Gerry Adams, Rob Ford and John Coates, then check in on the New York City trial of accused terrorist and international man of mystery Abu Hamza as well as Michael Lewis's expose of our rigged stock market (and the amazing lack of American media coverage thereof). Finally, our Australia Is The Florida Of The World segment is back with parachuting planes and virgin auctions.

* The Beachwood Radio Network.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:37 AM | Permalink

May 10, 2014

The Weekend Desk Report

If only all Chicago elections were this entertaining.

Special Olympic Edition
Have you heard the news?! Rio's a disaster, which means we're still in this thing! Maybe this has been Mayor Emanuel's plan all along . . . Consider:

Exhibit A: Olympic Village? Hell, we've got 50!

Exhibit B: If any of the cycling time trials take longer than 30 minutes, the athletes pay a penalty!

Exhibit C: Bob Costas won't have to worry about his pink eye, because these Olympics will be broadcast on CNN!

Exhibit D: Best. Judging controversies. EVER.

Exhibit E: Guess that DePaul stadium deal doesn't seem so damn shady now, does it?

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The Weekend Desk Tip Line: Throwin' shade.

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The Beachwood Radio Hour: Rahm On The Ropes!

Plus: Spotlight interview with Robeson's High School's after-school activities director Tanis Seats.

Also: Cowboy Nate's Rainbo Boilermaker.

And: Jim "Coach" Coffman on the Bears' draft, the Blackhawks' change of fortune, and the continued comical stylings of the Cubs.

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Beachwood International with The Angry Aussie: The Hippest Trip Around The Globe.

This week the boys tie up loose ends with Donald Sterling, Gerry Adams, Rob Ford and the Rio Olympics before checking in on the New York City trial of accused terrorist and international man of mystery Abu Hamza.

We also discuss Michael Lewis's expose of our rigged stock market (and the amazing lack of American media coverage thereof), and talk about parachuting planes and virgin auctions in our Australia Is The Florida Of The World segment.

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The Sound Opinions Weekend Listening Report: "Electronic duo Darkside join Jim and Greg for an interview and live performance. Later they review a new album by experimental pop artist Tune-Yards."

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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: Puerto Rican Tiple Construction Workshop

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Activist Carlos Flores and classical guitarist Jeff Kust share their work preserving the history of the Puerto Rican tiple and keeping its legacy alive by helping people build one themselves.

Saturday at 7:30 p.m. on CAN TV21 / En Espanol Saturday at 2 p.m. on CAN TV21.

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Perspectivas Latinas: St. Augustine College

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St. Augustine College president Andrew Sund discusses issues facing Latino college students.

Saturday at 8 p.m. on CAN TV21.

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Know Your Rights Criminal Justice Panel

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Karen Sheley of the ACLU and other expert panelists shed light on how civilians should interact with police, courts and the corrections system, as well as manage new laws involving concealed carry and medical marijuana.

Sunday at 9 a.m. on CAN TV21.

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Know Your Rights Housing Workshop

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Frank Avellone of the Lawyers Committee for Better Housing highlights rights all renters possess, how landlords should manage different scenarios, and the steps involved in filing for foreclosure.

Sunday at 10 a.m. on CAN TV21.

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The Poverty Puzzle: Ending Poverty In America

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A panel of experts examines how national poverty trends affect people in Chicago, and what strategies can bring them into prosperity.

Sunday at noon on CAN TV21.


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:52 AM | Permalink

May 9, 2014

The [Friday] Papers

"Not long after taking over the budget committee of a state agency, Cook County Circuit Clerk Dorothy Brown voted by proxy to channel $5 million to a West Side nonprofit to help continue funding Gov. Pat Quinn's now-disbanded Neighborhood Recovery Initiative," Dave McKinney reports for the Sun-Times.

"That vote by Brown came at the same time the nonprofit, Chicago Area Project, employed her husband, Benton Cook III, to oversee millions of dollars in Neighborhood Recovery Initiative programming. The organization subsidized his paycheck with state anti-violence grant money.

"It's not clear whether any of the grant funds Brown authorized for Chicago Area Project's use in September 2012 trickled into Cook's paycheck since the nonprofit says he left its payroll in October of that year.

"But her decision to proceed with a vote on the matter instead of abstaining sparked criticism Thursday from Gov. Pat Quinn's office and a call from the top House Republican that she resign her chairmanship of the Criminal Justice Information Authority's budget committee, through which state anti-violence grants are disbursed."

What's odd about Brown's maneuver is that her vote wasn't even necessary; the funding to CAP was approved unanimously. That's what they call in sports an unforced error.

*

Meanwhile, the Tribune reports:

"Cook County prosecutors are investigating a land deal that netted Circuit Court Clerk Dorothy Brown and her husband tens of thousands of dollars with no money down, the Tribune has learned.

"Brown's husband, Benton Cook III, confirmed that a grand jury is probing the deal, which saw him get a North Lawndale building for free from a longtime campaign contributor to Brown.

"The court clerk quickly became a co-owner, and her company sold the parcel for $100,000 to a Frankfort real estate developer who'd long had his eye on it. The developer said Thursday that he testified before a grand jury earlier this year about how he came to acquire the land."

(The Trib notes that "The land deal was first reported in late November by WFLD-Ch. 32 news and the Better Government Association." See "Dorothy's Deed, Done Dirt Cheap.")

*

"It's becoming even more clear that Alvarez's probe of Gov. Quinn's anti-violence initiative is a lot more about Brown than it is about Quinn - at least, for now," Rich Miller writes today at his Capitol Fax blog.

That would help explain why Alvarez is proceeding on one track while the feds proceed on another; Brown is her territory and and an investigation focused on her doesn't muck up the larger probe into the NRI by the U.S. Attorney's Office out of Springfield.

(Cook County inspector general Patrick Blanchard is also reportedly looking into the Brown affair; a legislative panel is also looking into the now-defunct NRI.)

*

Let's take a look at The Dorothy Brown Files via Beachwood vault.

March 25, 2008: "Fox Chicago's Dane Placko reported that Circuit Court Clerk Dorothy Brown put a former police officer on her payroll as a 'systems analyst' who instead appears to be her chauffeur. I say 'appears to be' because Brown claims the man is part of her security force.

"That's just a budget title," she says of the "systems analyst" designation.

"That sounds like fraud to me, but I'll leave that up to others to decide."

January 26, 2010: Who Is Dorothy Brown?

March 19, 2012: Dorothy Brown Outraged By E-Filing Pledge She Pretends She Didn't Know About.

November 8, 2012: Vote totals for incumbents with token opposition.

* Circuit Court Clerk Dorothy Brown: 1,220,896.

* Recorder Karen Yarbrough: 1,215,387.

* State's Attorney Anita Alvarez: 1,348,783.

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See also: Double Agent Dorothy Brown.

*

There shall be collateral damage. From last month:

"The wife of a state lawmaker from the south suburbs made more than $137,000 in salary and benefits from Gov. Pat Quinn's now-abolished Neighborhood Recovery Initiative, state records show," the Sun-Times reported.

"That total for Jaclin Davis, wife of state Rep. Will Davis, D-Homewood, represented 11 percent of the anti-violence grant dollars her employer, Healthcare Consortium of Illinois, was allotted in 2011 and 2012 under Quinn's program.

"Davis was the organization's program coordinator, which put her in charge of managing how the governor's 2010 program was implemented in Thornton Township. More than $1.2 million in state funds were disbursed through her agency."

I suspect we'll see a lot more stories like this in the next few months. Anyone who ever got even a sniff of NRI money ought to be lawyering up right now.

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See also:
* The Problems And Politics Of Pat Quinn's Neighborhood Recovery Initiative.

* Quinn's NRI Fiasco Splashes Mud On Rahm.

* The Political Odds have been adjusted to reflect recent events.

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The Week In Juvenile Justice
Why new DCFS chief Bobbie Gregg shouldn't get too comfortable.

Plus: Are Teen Beefs The New Turf Wars? It's not just Garry McCarthy saying so.

And: The Bullied And Guns, Sex Abuse In China, Nigeria's Missing Girls.

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Trollscout Lives In Elmhurst
Meet the NFL's most infamous talent evaluator.

Beachwood Photo Booth: Family Guy
Comedy. On time.

The Week In Chicago Rock
Featuring: Queens of the Stone Age, Wolfmother, Uh Huh Her, Chromeo, Joseph Arthur, Mastodon, Ray LaMontagne, Primal Fear, Matchess, and Tech N9ne.

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BeachBook
* World's Most Prolific Online Drug Dealer Pleads Guilty In Chicago.

* Shanghai Daily: Chicago's Homeless Recovering After Record Cold Winter.

* Some Steadying Words On The Current Situation.

Utterly brilliant.

* Michael Jordan Mulling Return To Craps Table.

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TweetWood

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But they suck in different ways, which satisfies science.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Satisfy science.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:34 AM | Permalink

The Week In Chicago Rock

You shoulda been there.

1. Queens of the Stone Age at the Aragon on Monday night.

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"Queens of the Stone Age singer-guitarist Josh Homme towers over his band, the audience, his music," Greg Kot writes for the Tribune.

"He's an imposing figure in no-nonsense black shirt and jeans, with a scarf dangling from his back pocket like a tail or a talisman. He exudes don't-mess-with-me presence.

"But the voice is softspoken and casual, the voice of a guy who spends a lot of time in wide open spaces with not a lot of company. When he sings, he doesn't growl or threaten so much as croon, breaking out a falsetto that belies his imposing physical stature.

"And those seeming contradictions are all there in the music, integrated to create an imposing mess of menace and vulnerability, power and poignance. Homme and his quintet have risen to rarefied status in the last decade; without big commercial singles they nearly filled the Aragon on Monday night and will return Friday to play to a capacity audience - nearly 9,000 fans on two Chicago nights."

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2. Wolfmother at the Metro on Monday night.

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3. Uh Huh Her at Lincoln Hall on Tuesday night.

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4. Chromeo at Lincoln Hall on Monday night.

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5. Joseph Arthur at City Winery on Tuesday night.

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6. Mastodon at the Riv on Thursday night.

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7. Ray LaMontagne at Park West on Thursday night.

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8. Primal Fear at Mojoes in Joliet on Tuesday night.

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9. Matchess at the Burlington on Tuesday night.

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10. Tech N9ne at the House of Blues on Tuesday night.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:25 AM | Permalink

Trollscout Lives In Elmhurst

"Think of the most important thing you'd want to know about an NFL prospect," Barry Petchesky wrote for Deadspin on Thursday, ahead of last night's draft.

"The piece of information that should be listed first on his NFL.com draft profile. It is, almost certainly, nothing like these:

Texas A&M WR Mike Evans: "His father, Mickey, was murdered when Mike was 9."

NIU safety Jimmie Ward: "Has a child."

Oregon TE Colt Lyerla: "Grew up poor in an unstable environment."

"The man behind all these evaluations is Nolan Nawrocki, known around some parts as Trollscout. Perhaps most famous for his dog-whistle evaluations of Cam Newton and Geno Smith for Pro Football Weekly, Nawrock is now part of the official NFL media machine."

Click through to read Chicago writer Daniel Libit's profile of Nawrocki, re-posted from last month.

*

"Nolan Nawrocki's NFL.com draft profiles are fantastic, but normally point out some very odd points about players," the CBS sports radio station in Houston points out.

"(Example: 'Overly emotional and prone to outbursts following a dysfunctional childhood that offered little direction and much confusion related to a divorce.')

"Here are our Nolan Nawrocki-esque Draft Profiles of SportsRadio610 Jocks.

Nick Wright: Blew $70K gambling in an 11-month span, an admitted marijuana user, encourages race mixing & rabble rousing.

John P. Lopez: Mexican-American. Grew up with four siblings and four cousins in the same inner-city barrio house. Once got stabbed in the knee in a fight. Ate beans and rice with every meal until the age of 18. Hid in an alley for three hours after getting caught in crossfire of street gunfight. Eats menudo.

And so on. Click through for the rest.

*

"Nolan Nawrocki is back, which means the NFL Draft's Silly Season has commenced," Ty Duffy wrote last month for The Big Lead.

"The analyst who believed Cam Newton was a delusional con artist and Geno Smith was 'not a student of the game' is back. Topping his list of 'most controversial prospects for the 2014 Draft,' ahead of Colt Lyerla and Jeremy Hill are Johnny Manziel and Jadeveon Clowney."

To be fair, those guys topped everybody's lists as risks with red flags. But, yeah.

*

"Nolan Nawrocki is like the Punxsutawney Phil of the football world. Ignored all year until he suddenly emerges each February, usually to piss everyone off," Brad Gagnon wrote for Awful Announcing.

"The former senior editor at Pro Football Weekly, who is now at NFL.com, unofficially ushers in draft hype season on an annual basis by throwing at least one promising quarterback prospect under the bus in exaggerated, sensational fashion."

*

"Nawrocki isn't racist, he's gutless," Jason Whitlock wrote for Fox Sports last year.

Click through to see why.
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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:55 AM | Permalink

Beachwood Photo Booth: Family Guy

Comedy. On time.

familyguyorig.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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Listen to Helene talk about Photo Booth; starts at 57:54.

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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.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Deluxe Cleaners.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Marie's Golden Cue.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Die Another Day.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Sears Key Shop.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Window Dressing.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Jeri's Grill.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Barry's Drugs.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Liberty.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Kitchen.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Golden Specials.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: We Won The Cup.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Bartender Man.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Blue Plane Blues.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Finest Quality.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:23 AM | Permalink

May 8, 2014

The [Thursday] Papers

From my juvenile justice column on Friday:

Michigan Avenue magazine this week named Toni Irving, the executive director of Get In Chicago, one of the city's most influential women.

Get In Chicago is a pet project of Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who founded the organization in March 2013 with private money he had solicited to address violence in the city.

Irving was previously a deputy chief of staff to Governor Pat Quinn, chair of the State of Illinois Human Services Commission and Co-Chair of the Poverty Elimination Commission.

"When I came to the state, we had 1,337 youth in the juvenile justice system reporting to adult parole officers, [and under my leadership] all kids in Cook County were given social workers to track them, so it became a more supporting, therapeutic model of care," Irving told Michigan Avenue. "The last day I was at the state, there were 850 [kids in the system], and they were doing so much better."

* I can't vouch for Irving, I'm just the messenger.

I was interested in Irving for that column because of her work in the juvenile justice system, but boy am I glad I issued that disclaimer; I figured if she was brought aboard by Rahm, she was inherently suspicious. (Call it political profiling.)

Now comes the Sun-Times with this report:

"The head of a new city alliance with business titans to reduce gun violence in Chicago was one of the architects of the governor's scandal-plagued Neighborhood Recovery Initiative."

Uh-oh.

"Irving acknowledged in an interview she helped come up with the ideas for the program . . . But Irving insisted, 'I had nothing to do with the implementation of the program,' despite e-mails from 2010 obtained by the Chicago Sun-Times that show her playing a key role in planning who would get grant money."

Oops.

*

The timing is exquisite.

"On Wednesday, Get In Chicago awarded $1.7 million in grants to 11 organizations. Irving, Emanuel and Allstate Insurance CEO Tom Wilson visited a West Side social-services agency where the awards were announced."

Was it arranged by CNN? I only ask because that's the same Tom Wilson we saw expressing pride in Chicago during Chicagoland's commercial breaks from teenagers shooting each other.

See how it all comes together?

*

"At an unrelated news conference Wednesday, Emanuel sought to distinguish Get In Chicago from Quinn's troubled Neighborhood Recovery Initiative, which was launched during the governor's closely contested campaign in 2010. Republican critics have blasted the Quinn initiative as a political 'slush fund' created to generate support for Quinn.

"First of all, this is private money. Totally different," Emanuel said.

Right. Private money is untraceable. That's where Quinn went wrong.

*

"Wilson said he talked to Irving about her involvement in the Neighborhood Recovery Initiative prior to her 2013 hiring and learned that 'she was not actively involved in that process.'"

Um, really?

"Last year, a press release announcing Irving as the new head of Get In Chicago tout[ed] Irving's involvement with the Neighborhood Recovery Initiative as a reason why she's qualified to lead Get In Chicago," WBEZ reports.

In fact, Wilson also said Wednesday that "This is really a state of the art process in terms of awarding money to help at-risk youth and Toni designed that process, she's run that process."

So which is it, Tom? She wasn't actively involved in the process or she ran that process?

*

Irving refused to speak to WBEZ, but she told the Sun-Times that "she helped come up with the concept for the Neighborhood Recovery Initiative, but 'I had absolutely nothing to do with the implementation of the program.'"

The Sun-Times, however, reports that "internal e-mails dating to September 2010 - a month before the Neighborhood Recovery Initiative's launch - show Irving played a key role from within the governor's office in planning the program, including one discussion about making one group, the Chicago Area Project, the main conduit for state anti-violence grants in West Garfield Park.

In one exchange, Irving corresponded with the head of the now-defunct Illinois Violence Prevention Authority, Barbara Shaw, in what appears to be a discussion about selecting the main social-service agency through which Neighborhood Recovery Initiative funding would pass in West Garfield Park, state records show.

In an e-mail on Oct. 18, 2010, Irving wrote Shaw to tell her that she had spoken three days earlier with former Rep. Annazette Collins, D-Chicago, who with former Ald. Ed Smith (28th) had made recommendations about providers for West Garfield Park and East Garfield Park.

"She indicated Chicago Area Project," Irving wrote Shaw, alluding to Collins and her apparent choice for West Garfield Park.

Chicago Area Project ultimately was chosen to funnel $2.1 million in state funding into that West Side neighborhood and hired Cook County Circuit Clerk Dorothy Brown's husband, Benton Cook III, as the program coordinator, a post that paid him more than $146,000 in salary and benefits over two years.

Yeah, if you're going to take direction from Annazette Collins, this is what's going to happen.

From the Beachwood vault:

Secretary of State Jesse White calls Collins "the most unethical person in government," which is patently untrue. If it were true, she'd be the chairman of the Illinois Democratic Party . . . Nonetheless, she's got a track record that makes Dorothy Brown look like Paul Simon; just check out what she meant when she said "There is no rule that says you can't give everyone on Walnut Street a scholarship." . . . Watkins tells Huffington Post Chicago that she wouldn't be surprised if Collins is the next public official in Illinois to go to jail, though a long line is already forming . . . Better, Watkins says: "And I bet she wouldn't be surprised either." . . . In fact, Collins tells HuffPo that if allegations over a tax credit had been - or turn out to be - true, "That would have been something to go to jail for." There's still time.

See how it all comes together?

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Irving's name, however, does not appear in state auditor William Holland's report, which pulled the curtain back on the NRI debacle.

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Assignment Desk: Did any of the organizations that just got money from Get In Chicago also get NRI money? Did they show up in the audit? (I'd check myself, but I don't have time this morning to do other people's jobs.)

*

I don't really get the name Get In Chicago, which apparently is actually Get IN Chicago. Like, get indoors where it's safer?

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Slightly related, from a Beachwood reader:

"I have to say I was pretty surprised that CPD went with 'surge' in the messaging for their summer anti-violence initiative. Given the obviousness of the connection back to certain terminology used during the Iraq War, I can only assume they intended to strengthen the Chiraq meme? Can't wait to see Rahm in military fatigues in front of Mission Accomplished banner this fall to bring everything full circle."

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Meanwhile, in fantasy broadcast land:

"As investigations mount concerning spending within Governor Quinn's anti-violence program, CBS 2 has learned the same woman who oversaw it is now running a private $50 million anti-violence initiative in Chicago."

Also, CBS 2 has "learned" that the Cubs lost last night. Exclusive details at 10.

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See also: The Problems And Politics Of Pat Quinn's Neighborhood Recovery Initiative.

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BeachBook
* The Cobras of Champaign.

* Why This Member Of The Minnesota Wild Should Be Your Favorite Player Of This Blackhawks Series.

* Park Ridge Officials Decline To Release Income Taxes.

* Vernon Hills Trying To Help Turtles Cross Roads Safely.

* Brazilian Kids Learn English By Talking To Lonely Chicago Seniors.

* Illinois Face Of Obamacare Mired In Health Law Snags.

* Obama Transparency Record Remains Unimpressive.

* Obama Administration Proves Why We Need Someone To Leak The CIA Torture Report.

And, as long as we're ending this segment on a theme:

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#AskVentra

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#CrosstownCup

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TweetWood

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Fair to partly surly.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:16 AM | Permalink

Fantasy Fix: A Crosstown Couple

I've already had an unusually good number of Cubs and White Sox mentions in this column this season, which is a neat trick considering neither team is a real contender (don't fool yourselves, Sox fans).

Yet this week I find myself on the topic of local heroes once again - it's the week of the Crosstown Cup.

Now, maybe this series is not what it was. Maybe it would be more exciting to see Jose Abreu wrestle a bear than watch his team take on the other named for baby bears. But there is still reason while you're perusing the waiver wire to occasionally stop at the name of a Cubs or Sox player.

In fact, here are two names beyond the usual suspects - the Abreus and Rizzos - who might be able to help your fantasy team.

Tyler Flowers, White Sox: I've considered the loss of A.J. Pierzynski to be much more meaningful to the Sox's chances than the departure of Mark Buehrle or the active-but-ineffectual semi-retirement of Paul Konerko. Flowers has never seemed like the answer, yet he's still hitting above .300 more than a month into the season, with his power sure to kick in as the weather warms. You could do worse at a position with shallow fantasy value. Available in about 80% of Yahoo! leagues.

Hector Rondon, Cubs: The closer job on the North Side is indeed a thankless one, with a rotating door, too. But, Rondon looks like a safe bet right now with both Jose Veras and Pedro Strop injured. Even if the Cubs don't get him many save opportunities, he'll still see late-game action. He currently has three saves, with 18 strikeouts in 16 innings. His ERA rose to 1.69 after he gave up two runs to the Cardinals on Sunday, but he was victim to some horrible calls, and should have been out of the inning clean.

Expert Wire
* Yahoo! Sports has Rondon on its Saves Index - if you dig deep enough.

* SI.com breaks down the breakout year of Dodgers shortstop Dee Gordon.

* Bleacher Reports says you're missing out on former Cub folk hero and present-day Ray Dioner Navarro, and a bunch of other no-names.

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

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:58 AM | Permalink

The Problems And Politics Of Pat Quinn's Neighborhood Recovery Initiative

"On Oct. 6, 2010, less than a month before the election, Gov. Pat Quinn stood alongside congressmen Bobby Rush and Danny Davis to announce he was plowing $50 million in state funds into an anti-violence program for Chicago neighborhoods," Sun-Times columnist Mark Brown wrote Tuesday.

"As far as I can tell, the newspapers never even reported it at the time. All I can find are the press releases.

"I have no memory of the announcement myself, but would guess most reporters figured it for an election year repackaging of existing state programs and ignored it. That was probably a mistake on our part."

As far as you can tell? Your memory? Look it up!

I did.

(And "probably" a mistake by reporters who "figured" it was an election-year repackaging of existing state programs? Ho-hum, reporters are so easily bored. They just "figure" stuff. Like, what's the big deal about the state spending $50 million to stop violence in the city? It's "probably" nothing. Oh, gotta go. Another dead kid. Hope she died holding a teddy bear. Now, about that code of silence . . . )

Like I said, I did Brown's job for him - just put the check in the mail, Mark - and looked it up.

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October 8, 2010, Sun-Times: "Two leading groups fighting violence against women and youth rapped Gov. Quinn Thursday for launching a $50 million anti-violence initiative when Illinois has become the biggest deadbeat state in the country by one new survey.

"We are dismayed and disheartened by the governor's decision to spend $50 million on a new initiative at a time when the state owes millions of dollars to agencies providing critical services and prevention programming in communities across the state," said Polly Poskin, executive director of the Illinois Coalition Against Sexual Assault.

"Her organization, which distributes funding to 22 rape crisis centers across Illinois, has had its state funding cut 27 percent in the last two years and is owed more than $1.7 million because the state is five months behind in its bills. Because of the funding squeeze, six of those rape-crisis centers may not meet their payrolls by month's end, she said.

"We are confused by the ability to find dollars in our current budget crisis when our local agencies are still waiting to be paid for fiscal year 2010," said Vickie Smith, executive director of the Illinois Coalition Against Domestic Violence.

The headline: "Agencies Slam Quinn On Overdue State Bills; They Go Unpaid As He Launches $50 Mil. Program."

This is remarkable context. Quinn was met with derision when he introduced what he called the Neighborhood Recovery Initiative. After all, he had just spent months cutting funding from social service agencies, which all in their own way do a part in addressing youth violence, but not paying the bills already due those agencies. (The latter part we knew; the contrast to new monies found for Quinn's pet project just now comes into focus. Bear in mind, too, that Quinn stood with two congressmen, Rush and Davis to announce the program, not the actual mayor of the actual city benefiting from the money. So, clearly an effort to turn out the black vote.)

Other than that, yes, the media ignored the project.

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To be fair, let's provide some additional context.

For example, the NRI didn't just spring up one day when Quinn realized he was about to lose the governorship to state Sen. Bill Brady, and that a little walking-around money could be just the thing to put him over the top.

No, the NRI sprung from an anti-violence commission he formed three months prior.

That's not to say it still couldn't have been part of the plan - the timing is exquisite. The commission was asked to submit its findings to the General Assembly when it came back into session that November. Quinn didn't wait.

And what was going on in Chicago at the time?

Much the same as is going on now. Consider this from the Tribune on August 3, 2010:

For the third consecutive day, a top Chicago police official held a briefing for the news media as the department struggles to get out its message that crime isn't out of control despite headline-grabbing stories about the city's daily violence.

On Monday it was Police Superintendent Jody Weis who highlighted that murders have dropped sharply during the past two decades and for the first seven months of 2010 are holding about even with last year. He also noted other violent crimes have plummeted since the early 1990s.

Weis also suggested Chicago not only is battling street gangs but also an image problem when it comes to crime.

"Despite reading the screaming headlines and the nonstop coverage that these violent incidents receive - as well they should - the fact is that the decline in violence over the past two decades is significant," Weis said as he released charts and statistics to prove his point.

Obviously I can't know what was on Quinn's mind at the time, but I do know that I've watched public officials who, time and again, never let a crisis go to waste. Feeling compelled to act in the face of the facts, goaded by reckless and irresponsible media coverage, the "best" of them also see an opportunity to exploit (even if that opportunity comes in the form of dead kids). Those are the times when Chicago becomes the most coincidental city on the planet.

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Part of Quinn's defense now against charges that he was buying votes is that "No money was distributed to any organization until well after the election."

But that's what makes the whole enterprise a thing of beauty.

If the money had been dispensed, there would be no guarantee that anyone would feel extra motivated to get to the polls.

And if the contracts hadn't yet been let, there'd be no confidence that the money would ever arrive; it would just be another campaign promise waiting to be broken.

But with the contracts out and checks to come after the election, Quinn had set the perfect trap - again, perhaps unwittingly, but boy did that work out sweetly. If you were the recipient of a contract, or even if you were just about to be employed by an agency that was, you sure wanted to see Quinn win. A Brady win could quash the whole deal and leave your pockets empty.

Of course, it's standard operating procedure in America to dole out contracts and other goodies in an election year. It's also wrong; it's a perverse use of our money, and it perverts the policy-making and budget processes.

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Where did the money come from?

Well, in politics, money can always be found when an elected official wills it, just as finding money for other people's needs and desires is simply mathematically impossible when an elected official wills it.

Consider that in March 2010, seven months before Quinn came up with $50 million for the NRI, "Quinn proposed $2.2 billion in program cuts, $4.7 billion in borrowing and more than $6 billion in unpaid bills being pushed off into the following year."

True, $50 million is the proverbial drop in the bucket compared to those figures, but it's a huge amount to those whose budgets were getting slashed.

And just two months before Quinn formed the NRI, the Tribune reported this:

"Illinois owes its vendors - most of them nonprofits, such as YSP and Cicero's Corazon Community Services - more than $3.7 billion, according the state's comptroller's office.

"Many operate anti-violence programs that have cut back drastically or shut down during the summer months, when violence peaks."

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In October 2010, the Tribune reported this:

"Nonprofit organizations that serve some of the nation's most vulnerable citizens have been forced to freeze salaries, dip into cash reserves and cut programs because government funding is shrinking and often late in coming, according to a report released Thursday by the Urban Institute. And human service nonprofits in Illinois have been among the hardest hit."

"Nationally, 41 percent of human service nonprofits reported late payments from state, federal and local government sources in 2009, the survey found. In Illinois, that number reached 72 percent, highest in the nation.

"Laurel O'Sullivan, vice president of Chicago-based Donors Forum, said a number of human service nonprofits - which provide services in fields including mental health, child care, housing, food assistance and alcohol and substance abuse - are suffering because of the state's financial turmoil.

"The Land of Lincoln has really become the land of late payments," O'Sullivan said. "There's no honor in balancing the state's budget on the backs of human service providers."

"A spokeswoman for Gov. Pat Quinn said he is committed to making good on payments due to nonprofits. But the state is nearly $5 billion behind on its bills.

"We are working with vendors and providers to expedite payments to the best of our financial ability," said Kelly Kraft.

Right after we kick this $50 million out the door.

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The Champaign News-Gazette seems to be alone in calling out Quinn in real-time.

Gov. Pat Quinn, with great fanfare, announced this past week a new social program that he said is aimed at strengthening and revitalizing urban communities.

It will provide, among other things, jobs, job training and incentives for business creation. The Neighborhood Recovery Initiative, which pretty much runs the gamut of social intervention into the pathologies of poverty, is the brainchild of a commission Quinn appointed to study and recommend solutions to violence-related issues.

It will cost $50 million, and Quinn said the money will come from a special discretionary fund he controls that is made up of federal and state appropriations.

Republicans have made no secret of their suspicion that Quinn's announcement is aimed as much at shoring up his political support in the cities as addressing real social problems.

It wouldn't be the first time that a politician put his own interests first. But, setting the problematic politics aside, here's why the people of Illinois should be concerned about Quinn's decision.

Illinois is $13 billion in debt, the state's budget is in a shambles and the economy is growing at a snail's pace. The state's revenue picture isn't going to improve in the near future.

Yet the state has embarked on a costly new social spending program even as its unpaid bills continue to pile higher and its promised payments for a variety of public programs and institutions lag behind. In a time when the state should be limiting its ambitions because of a lack of funds, Quinn has expanded them.

The issue is not about the wisdom of this new program. It's about the decision to spend money that Illinois doesn't have.

If the state had unlimited resources, this neighborhood initiative would be worthy of serious consideration. But Illinois is not just broke, it's bankrupt.

When individuals find themselves in a hole like this, the first thing they should do is to stop digging. But Illinois' elected officials won't stop digging.

Running an effective government - be it city, county or state - requires establishing priorities and addressing them with available revenues. Or as former Illinois Attorney General Jim Ryan said, "There are a lot of great programs, but you can't fund them all."

In other words, elected officials must choose.

During the unfortunate six-year tenure of former Gov. Rod Blagojevich, state officials went on a spending spree. Blago was big on new programs and uninterested in how they would be funded. The Illinois House and Senate enthusiastically participated in this spending orgy, apparently preferring not to think about the day the chickens would come home to roost.

Well, the chickens have arrived, and it's a rare day when some new story doesn't come out about the failure of the state to provide promised appropriations to the University of Illinois, local schools all over East Central Illinois, social service agencies organized to address public health issues or domestic abuse problems.

The state can't fund what it has, and it's not paying its bills to service providers. Yet Quinn has shown that he can't resist the temptation, even under these dire circumstances, to spend more money on a new program.

He's effectively saying he can't choose and that means he can't govern because you can't do one without the other.

There's nothing complicated about this. Indeed, it's amazingly simple. When you're in a hole, stop digging. Unfortunately, Quinn wants a bigger shovel.

Now, I happen to believe that social services should be the last area to cut funding, not the first. But you get the idea.

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Now, let's say you ran one of those anti-violence programs that shut down over the summer because Quinn turned off the spigot through which state dollars trickled. What would have been thinking when you awoke in November to a report like this?

"Circle Family HealthCare Network will soon begin deciding how to dole out about $1.13 million in state funding for a new violence prevention initiative in Austin, and the non-profit wants the community's help.

"State officials chose Circle Family HealthCare Network - which provides medical care at two federally qualified community health centers in Austin and employs about 120 people at six locations - to be the lead agency.

"Groups in 17 other Chicago neighborhoods and several suburbs were named lead agencies and will be responsible for distributing millions of dollars elsewhere."

I'd say that by that time you had caught on. And eventually, for those who weren't clued in from the get-go (including those in the media who brushed off complaints from Republicans), that's what happened.

"The deep cuts to social services spending proposed by Gov. Pat Quinn have left private agencies that work with the state's most vulnerable residents feeling they are being used in a political game," the Tribune reported in February 2011.

"Quinn has enlisted the agencies' support for his 67 percent income tax increase and asked them to apply pressure on the mostly Republican group of lawmakers who have balked at his plan to borrow $8.75 billion to help pay the state's giant backlog of bills."

Again, $50 million isn't much against the backdrop of an $8.75 million borrowing plan. But if $50 million was nothing, why spend it at all?

I can assure you that if you look at it from the receiving end, not the giving end, $50 million is as much money as us ordinary folk imagine it to be.

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After Quinn squeaked by Brady (separated by some 30,000 votes out of 3.5 million cast), the money started to go out the door.

(One example highlighted at the time by Quinn's PR staff: "Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity Director Warren Ribley visited ACCION Chicago today to highlight a new financing tool that will give start-up and existing small businesses the financial bridge they need to succeed coming out of recession.

("A total of $5 million is being made available through the Community Development Fund, a component of Governor Pat Quinn's Neighborhood Recovery Initiative launched in October to help revitalize urban communities.")

Just seven months after announcing the program, the General Assembly tried to take back some of the money.

"Needy college students, impoverished pre-schoolers and those living in crime-infested neighborhoods all would feel the pinch from competing state budget proposals that have now moved from one chamber of the General Assembly to the other," the Sun-Times reported on May 15, 2011.

"The Senate's spending package would all but zero out spending on the Operation Ceasefire anti-violence program, while the House has proposed paring back Quinn's $33.5 million Neighborhood Recovery Initiative he announced last fall by $23.5 million."

And that's the last we heard of the NRI in the local media - with one exception - until February of this year, when state auditor William Holland eviscerated it and touched off the media cycle we're now in.

The exception was this Tribune endorsement in October 2012:

"27th District: Ask Sen. Matt Murphy of Palatine to suggest some spending cuts, and you won't get the usual sing-song about eliminating waste, fraud and abuse. Instead, he zeroes right in on some eye-popping outrages. The Grow Your Own Teachers program costs hundreds of thousands of dollars per teacher produced, he says. Funding for the Neighborhood Recovery Initiative, a supposed crime-fighting program, largely ended up being spent in not particularly violent neighborhoods just before the 2010 election and there still is no data to show it works."

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If the NRI worked in any significant way, Quinn might be able to plead that good politics makes for good government. The evidence, however, is not in Quinn's favor.

In December 2012, CNN took a look:

ASHLEY BANFIELD: Part of our ongoing coverage of Chicago's gun violence has been to look at what's being done to stop it which brings us to tonight's report. With killings on the rise, Illinois's governor, Pat Quinn, launched an ambitious anti-violence program two years ago called the Neighborhood Recovery Initiative. And on paper it sounded like a great idea and it really did catch our eye. And then we investigated. And the CNN investigation found some pretty serious questions about whether this was crime prevention or good old-fashioned politics.

Here's investigative correspondent Drew Griffin.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

GRIFFIN: Hello? Hello? Anybody here?

This is one of the community organizing groups hired to help reduce violence in Chicago. Part of a $54.5 million initiative, Governor Pat Quinn's Neighborhood Recovery Initiative or NRI, rolled out just before his contentious 2010 election. This group, called the Woodlawn organization, got $1.2 million.

So this is all that's left of the Woodlawn organization. We walked through a front door that was wide open. You can see the equipment is here. This was defunded by the program because they couldn't figure out what they had done with the money.

It was one of about 160 community, church and civic groups that got the NRI money from the state. Now most of the money has run out. Homicides are up and questions are being raised about just what the NRI was really for. To cut crime or save an election?

What we do know is the money was spread out on Chicago's South and Southwest Sides. The idea, get communities involved to stop the violence.

How? On this chilly afternoon, teenagers across Chicago's south side are paid to hand out flyers -

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You have a nice day, sir.

GRIFFIN: - and spread a message of nonviolence. The NRI is credited with creating about 3,500 temporary jobs, mentoring youth and parents, providing re-entry services and counseling in schools. But our four-month investigation found those jobs included handing out flyers, attending yoga class, taking museum field trips, even marching with the governor in a parade. The jobs are now gone.

CNN has taken an extensive look at where the money went, what it did, and most importantly, the timing of how the program was rolled out. The Neighborhood Recovery Initiative began sending money to tough neighborhoods in the City of Chicago right before Chicago voters went to the polls. According to these minutes from a state meeting, a member of the governor's staff promised quote, "allocating some of the funds for this initiative immediately, the rest after the election."

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm happy to say that I'm always honest.

GRIFFIN: In October 2010, then lieutenant governor Pat Quinn was struggling to be elected to the job he assumed after the former governor, Rod Blagojevich, was removed from office for misconduct. Quinn, a Democrat, needed a huge turnout in Chicago's heavily Democratic districts on the South Side. That's where critics say the NRI money ended up. The governor won that election by less than one percentage point, but the results on reducing crime? So far there's been 476 murders this year, up nearly 20 percent from 2011.

MATT MURPHY: On its face, it appears to be a waste.

GRIFFIN: Illinois Republican state Senator Matt Murphy.

MURPHY: About a month before the election, at a time when reports everywhere were showing a diminished interest in the election in the governor's base and lo and behold, here he comes with a new state program and millions of dollars to get people interested.

PAT QUINN: It is a lot of baloney. They know that. Matter of fact, people make those charges were running against me. You know, it's all politics.

GRIFFIN: In an early November interview, governor Quinn insisted to CNN the murder rate was so high in the summer of 2010, he had to do something.

QUINN: The City of Chicago is the third largest city in America. I live in Chicago. I live on the West Side. I live in a violent neighborhood. And I know firsthand that you better have government do something about the violence because that's what the people want.

MURPHY: But the murder rate is up 25 percent. Are you saying that the murder rate would be up 30 percent, 35 percent without this program?

QUINN: You take it one year at a time and you try and evaluate the programs and find out what is working, what isn't working so well, and you focus on the things that work well. But, you don't just say we're not going to do anything.

GRIFFIN: Even a member of Quinn's own party though, Democratic state Representative Thaddeus Jones, has questions, asking where are the audits, administration costs and oversight of the many organizations.

We can show you what the Neighborhood Recovery Initiative did that is proof, say organizers, the money was well spent. Teaching teens to change behaviors. And for $8.75 an hour, this is how the teens worked to reduce Chicago's murder rate.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This week we're talking about seeking inner peace.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How do you deal with stress.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My topic of this month is about being healthy.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Governor Quinn does not miss this parade.

GRIFFIN: And yes, the state confirmed, part of promoting positive messages included paying teens to march with the governor in the annual parade.

Is this the type of thing that you think leads to long-term employment or long-term reduction in violence?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's another way of providing welfare.

GRIFFIN: The director of one of the agencies that received more than $2 million concedes NRI was rushed out without much of a plan.

MICHAEL SHAVER, COO, CHILDREN'S HOME AND AID: Actually, there was a fast and furious nature to it. There was certainly, from the time that the governor, who was running for re-election, announced it, to the time frame to actually put the money in the community.

GRIFFIN: Mike Shaver says the program, modeled in part after a now defunct Philadelphia initiative, did hand out a lot of money but spent little time determining if it was effective.

SHAVER: I have not seen anything that's been produced by the Illinois Violence Prevention Authority that would make a compelling case that this array of programs based upon the model in Philadelphia worked.

GRIFFIN: As we began asking questions of agencies who got the money, we have been getting more and more "no comments." You can't talk? Remember the Woodlawn Organization which received $1.2 million? Anybody here? Hello?

The leader of that group isn't talking, either. An audit by the state agency that ran the program could explain the silence. The state found questionable expenses, a lack of clear accounting, a $10,700 check written to a part-time staff member supposedly to pay a utility bill that they didn't prove was paid.

The state shut down all funding for the organization. The group's attorney tells CNN all documents will be provided to show it did nothing wrong.

I just want to get back to the point of did this program work, governor? As well-intentioned as it was, did it work?

QUINN: Yes, it did. It did work. If it saves one life, it worked.

GRIFFIN: Chicago remains on track to approach 500 murders this year.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BANFIELD: And Drew Griffin joins me now.

Drew, that last stat - the police superintendent in that city says that just recently things are getting better, that it's actually going down, that the rate is dropping. Has something changed?

GRIFFIN: Well, something has changed, but it wasn't a change of handing out more flyers or going to more yoga classes. According to the police superintendent, the murder rate, which actually was incredibly 66 percent higher earlier this year, has been steadily dropping because the Chicago Police Department has focused on the bad guys. They're arresting more gang members. They're tearing down abandoned buildings. They're putting more and more cops on the streets. That has reduced the pace. But as we reported, Chicago is on pace for a 20 percent higher murder rate this year than last year.

BANFIELD: And what does that mean for this program, the Neighborhood Recovery [Initiative]? Is it kaput?

GRIFFIN: It's still hanging on. It has a much smaller budget, $15 million. It's under a whole new state agency to monitor it. There is a big state audit going on right now to figure out where all of this money went. And get this: According to this new scaled-down program, we are told that quote, "any new jobs would be more traditional employment situations." So it survives a little bit, but not by much.

For example, last summer the NRI was still sponsoring peace marches.

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In February, state auditor general William Holland released his bombshell.

"The state's top auditor slammed a $54.5 million anti-violence program launched by Gov. Pat Quinn one month before the 2010 election," the Sun-Times reported.

"Auditor General William Holland described the governor's Neighborhood Recovery Initiative as 'hastily implemented' and said it didn't target some of the most crime-prone neighborhoods in Chicago.

"Holland found that Quinn's administration didn't 'adequately monitor' how state grant dollars were spent or on whom; community organizations that hired people with those funds weren't maintaining time sheets; and city aldermen dictated where funding was to be steered.

"'Our audit of the NRI program found pervasive deficiencies in [the Illinois Violence Prevention Authority's] planning, implementation and management of the NRI program,' Holland's audit concluded, referring to the agency Quinn put in charge of running the program."

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In the last week, Quinn has gone on a media blitz of sorts, hitting the local TV stations to plead his case.

"Gov. Pat Quinn says he takes responsibility for a program that's now under investigation, but he insists he quickly took steps to correct it," CBS2 Chicago reported.

That's not entirely correct, however.

Worse, CBS2 Chicago also reported this:

Quinn said the program sprang from a young man's 2010 shooting death.

"It was a program that was designed to protect the public safety and violence-plagued neighborhoods and to provide jobs for young people, mentoring," the governor says.

Spending records CBS 2 obtained tell a different story. In Maywood, where murders dropped from a high of 10 in 2008 to two in 2009, Quinn's program gave the Village of Maywood millions. In 2010, the Democratic machine in Maywood cranked out more votes for Quinn in 2010 than for Rod Blagojevich both times he won the governor's race.

Quinn OK'd millions to Healthcare Consortium of Illinois, based in Dolton, to dole out funds to worthy groups. A document CBS 2 obtained shows politicians ruled the advisory board.

It included three state representatives, two state senators and Frank Zuccarelli, the powerful supervisor of Thornton Township.

Worse still, Quinn has hit the trifecta: the NRI is now under investigation by the feds, Cook County State's Attorney's Office, and a legislative subcommittee.

*

Back to Mark Brown:

"The governor continued to pat himself on the back Tuesday for shutting down the program in the summer of 2012 when he said he first learned 'it wasn't going in the right direction.'

"'I didn't sweep anything under the rug,' Quinn told reporters.

"Maybe not, but he sure didn't hold a press conference with Rush and Davis or put out a press release to let everyone know what problems he had found in the Illinois Violence Prevention Authority, the agency that oversaw his Neighborhood Recovery Initiative."

You mean he didn't spoon-feed the media with accounts of a program it ignored in the first place?

"As to the original concern about the program being used to help Quinn for the 2010 campaign, that's not a clear picture."

Clear enough.

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Here's Quinn introducing the NRI, as conveyed by his PR team. You can read the press release here or at YouTube (where comments have been disabled).

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:35 AM | Permalink

May 7, 2014

The [Wednesday] Papers

"On Oct. 6, 2010, less than a month before the election, Gov. Pat Quinn stood alongside congressmen Bobby Rush and Danny Davis to announce he was plowing $50 million in state funds into an anti-violence program for Chicago neighborhoods," Sun-Times columnist Mark Brown wrote Tuesday.

"As far as I can tell, the newspapers never even reported it at the time. All I can find are the press releases.

"I have no memory of the announcement myself, but would guess most reporters figured it for an election year repackaging of existing state programs and ignored it. That was probably a mistake on our part."

As far as you can tell? Your memory? Look it up!

I did.

(And "probably" a mistake by reporters who "figured" it was an election-year repackaging of existing state programs? Ho-hum, reporters are so easily bored. They just "figure" stuff. Like, what's the big deal about the state spending $50 million to stop violence in the city? It's "probably" nothing. Oh, gotta go. Another dead kid. Hope she died holding a teddy bear. Now, about that code of silence . . . )

Like I said, I did Brown's job for him - just put the check in the mail, Mark - and looked it up.

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October 8, 2010, Sun-Times: "Two leading groups fighting violence against women and youth rapped Gov. Quinn Thursday for launching a $50 million anti-violence initiative when Illinois has become the biggest deadbeat state in the country by one new survey.

"We are dismayed and disheartened by the governor's decision to spend $50 million on a new initiative at a time when the state owes millions of dollars to agencies providing critical services and prevention programming in communities across the state," said Polly Poskin, executive director of the Illinois Coalition Against Sexual Assault.

"Her organization, which distributes funding to 22 rape crisis centers across Illinois, has had its state funding cut 27 percent in the last two years and is owed more than $1.7 million because the state is five months behind in its bills. Because of the funding squeeze, six of those rape-crisis centers may not meet their payrolls by month's end, she said.

"We are confused by the ability to find dollars in our current budget crisis when our local agencies are still waiting to be paid for fiscal year 2010," said Vickie Smith, executive director of the Illinois Coalition Against Domestic Violence.

The headline: "Agencies Slam Quinn On Overdue State Bills; They Go Unpaid As He Launches $50 Mil. Program."

This is remarkable context. Quinn was met with derision when he introduced what he called the Neighborhood Recovery Initiative. After all, he had just spent months cutting funding from social service agencies, which all in their own way do a part in addressing youth violence, but not paying the bills already due those agencies. (The latter part we knew; the contrast to new monies found for Quinn's pet project just now comes into focus. Bear in mind, too, that Quinn stood with two congressmen, Rush and Davis to announce the program, not the actual mayor of the actual city benefiting from the money. So, clearly an effort to turn out the black vote.)

Other than that, yes, the media ignored the project.

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To be fair, let's provide some additional context.

For example, the NRI didn't just spring up one day when Quinn realized he was about to lose the governorship to state Sen. Bill Brady, and that a little walking-around money could be just the thing to put him over the top.

No, the NRI sprung from an anti-violence commission he formed three months prior.

That's not to say it still couldn't have been part of the plan - the timing is exquisite. The commission was asked to submit its findings to the General Assembly when it came back into session that November. Quinn didn't wait.

And what was going on in Chicago at the time?

Much the same as is going on now. Consider this from the Tribune on August 3, 2010:

For the third consecutive day, a top Chicago police official held a briefing for the news media as the department struggles to get out its message that crime isn't out of control despite headline-grabbing stories about the city's daily violence.

On Monday it was Police Superintendent Jody Weis who highlighted that murders have dropped sharply during the past two decades and for the first seven months of 2010 are holding about even with last year. He also noted other violent crimes have plummeted since the early 1990s.

Weis also suggested Chicago not only is battling street gangs but also an image problem when it comes to crime.

"Despite reading the screaming headlines and the nonstop coverage that these violent incidents receive - as well they should - the fact is that the decline in violence over the past two decades is significant," Weis said as he released charts and statistics to prove his point.

Obviously I can't know what was on Quinn's mind at the time, but I do know that I've watched public officials who, time and again, never let a crisis go to waste. Feeling compelled to act in the face of the facts, goaded by reckless and irresponsible media coverage, the "best" of them also see an opportunity to exploit (even if that opportunity comes in the form of dead kids). Those are the times when Chicago becomes the most coincidental city on the planet.

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Part of Quinn's defense now against charges that he was buying votes is that "No money was distributed to any organization until well after the election."

But that's what makes the whole enterprise a thing of beauty.

If the money had been dispensed, there would be no guarantee that anyone would feel extra motivated to get to the polls.

And if the contracts hadn't yet been let, there'd be no confidence that the money would ever arrive; it would just be another campaign promise waiting to be broken.

But with the contracts out and checks to come after the election, Quinn had set the perfect trap - again, perhaps unwittingly, but boy did that work out sweetly. If you were the recipient of a contract, or even if you were just about to be employed by an agency that was, you sure wanted to see Quinn win. A Brady win could quash the whole deal and leave your pockets empty.

Of course, it's standard operating procedure in America to dole out contracts and other goodies in an election year. It's also wrong; it's a perverse use of our money, and it perverts the policy-making and budget processes.

*

Where did the money come from?

Well, in politics, money can always be found when an elected official wills it, just as finding money for other people's needs and desires is simply mathematically impossible when an elected official wills it.

Consider that in March 2010, seven months before Quinn came up with $50 million for the NRI, "Quinn proposed $2.2 billion in program cuts, $4.7 billion in borrowing and more than $6 billion in unpaid bills being pushed off into the following year."

True, $50 million is the proverbial drop in the bucket compared to those figures, but it's a huge amount to those whose budgets were getting slashed.

And just two months before Quinn formed the NRI, the Tribune reported this:

"Illinois owes its vendors - most of them nonprofits, such as YSP and Cicero's Corazon Community Services - more than $3.7 billion, according the state's comptroller's office.

"Many operate anti-violence programs that have cut back drastically or shut down during the summer months, when violence peaks."

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In October 2010, the Tribune reported this:

"Nonprofit organizations that serve some of the nation's most vulnerable citizens have been forced to freeze salaries, dip into cash reserves and cut programs because government funding is shrinking and often late in coming, according to a report released Thursday by the Urban Institute. And human service nonprofits in Illinois have been among the hardest hit."

"Nationally, 41 percent of human service nonprofits reported late payments from state, federal and local government sources in 2009, the survey found. In Illinois, that number reached 72 percent, highest in the nation.

"Laurel O'Sullivan, vice president of Chicago-based Donors Forum, said a number of human service nonprofits - which provide services in fields including mental health, child care, housing, food assistance and alcohol and substance abuse - are suffering because of the state's financial turmoil.

"The Land of Lincoln has really become the land of late payments," O'Sullivan said. "There's no honor in balancing the state's budget on the backs of human service providers."

"A spokeswoman for Gov. Pat Quinn said he is committed to making good on payments due to nonprofits. But the state is nearly $5 billion behind on its bills.

"We are working with vendors and providers to expedite payments to the best of our financial ability," said Kelly Kraft.

Right after we kick this $50 million out the door.

*

The Champaign News-Gazette seems to be alone in calling out Quinn in real-time.

Gov. Pat Quinn, with great fanfare, announced this past week a new social program that he said is aimed at strengthening and revitalizing urban communities.

It will provide, among other things, jobs, job training and incentives for business creation. The Neighborhood Recovery Initiative, which pretty much runs the gamut of social intervention into the pathologies of poverty, is the brainchild of a commission Quinn appointed to study and recommend solutions to violence-related issues.

It will cost $50 million, and Quinn said the money will come from a special discretionary fund he controls that is made up of federal and state appropriations.

Republicans have made no secret of their suspicion that Quinn's announcement is aimed as much at shoring up his political support in the cities as addressing real social problems.

It wouldn't be the first time that a politician put his own interests first. But, setting the problematic politics aside, here's why the people of Illinois should be concerned about Quinn's decision.

Illinois is $13 billion in debt, the state's budget is in a shambles and the economy is growing at a snail's pace. The state's revenue picture isn't going to improve in the near future.

Yet the state has embarked on a costly new social spending program even as its unpaid bills continue to pile higher and its promised payments for a variety of public programs and institutions lag behind. In a time when the state should be limiting its ambitions because of a lack of funds, Quinn has expanded them.

The issue is not about the wisdom of this new program. It's about the decision to spend money that Illinois doesn't have.

If the state had unlimited resources, this neighborhood initiative would be worthy of serious consideration. But Illinois is not just broke, it's bankrupt.

When individuals find themselves in a hole like this, the first thing they should do is to stop digging. But Illinois' elected officials won't stop digging.

Running an effective government - be it city, county or state - requires establishing priorities and addressing them with available revenues. Or as former Illinois Attorney General Jim Ryan said, "There are a lot of great programs, but you can't fund them all."

In other words, elected officials must choose.

During the unfortunate six-year tenure of former Gov. Rod Blagojevich, state officials went on a spending spree. Blago was big on new programs and uninterested in how they would be funded. The Illinois House and Senate enthusiastically participated in this spending orgy, apparently preferring not to think about the day the chickens would come home to roost.

Well, the chickens have arrived, and it's a rare day when some new story doesn't come out about the failure of the state to provide promised appropriations to the University of Illinois, local schools all over East Central Illinois, social service agencies organized to address public health issues or domestic abuse problems.

The state can't fund what it has, and it's not paying its bills to service providers. Yet Quinn has shown that he can't resist the temptation, even under these dire circumstances, to spend more money on a new program.

He's effectively saying he can't choose and that means he can't govern because you can't do one without the other.

There's nothing complicated about this. Indeed, it's amazingly simple. When you're in a hole, stop digging. Unfortunately, Quinn wants a bigger shovel.

Now, I happen to believe that social services should be the last area to cut funding, not the first. But you get the idea.

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Now, let's say you ran one of those anti-violence programs that shut down over the summer because Quinn turned off the spigot through which state dollars trickled. What would have been thinking when you awoke in November to a report like this?

"Circle Family HealthCare Network will soon begin deciding how to dole out about $1.13 million in state funding for a new violence prevention initiative in Austin, and the non-profit wants the community's help.

"State officials chose Circle Family HealthCare Network - which provides medical care at two federally qualified community health centers in Austin and employs about 120 people at six locations - to be the lead agency.

"Groups in 17 other Chicago neighborhoods and several suburbs were named lead agencies and will be responsible for distributing millions of dollars elsewhere."

I'd say that by that time you had caught on. And eventually, for those who weren't clued in from the get-go (including those in the media who brushed off complaints from Republicans), that's what happened.

"The deep cuts to social services spending proposed by Gov. Pat Quinn have left private agencies that work with the state's most vulnerable residents feeling they are being used in a political game," the Tribune reported in February 2011.

"Quinn has enlisted the agencies' support for his 67 percent income tax increase and asked them to apply pressure on the mostly Republican group of lawmakers who have balked at his plan to borrow $8.75 billion to help pay the state's giant backlog of bills."

Again, $50 million isn't much against the backdrop of an $8.75 million borrowing plan. But if $50 million was nothing, why spend it at all?

I can assure you that if you look at it from the receiving end, not the giving end, $50 million is as much money as us ordinary folk imagine it to be.

*

After Quinn squeaked by Brady (separated by some 30,000 votes out of 3.5 million cast), the money started to go out the door.

(One example highlighted at the time by Quinn's PR staff: "Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity Director Warren Ribley visited ACCION Chicago today to highlight a new financing tool that will give start-up and existing small businesses the financial bridge they need to succeed coming out of recession.

("A total of $5 million is being made available through the Community Development Fund, a component of Governor Pat Quinn's Neighborhood Recovery Initiative launched in October to help revitalize urban communities.")

Just seven months after announcing the program, the General Assembly tried to take back some of the money.

"Needy college students, impoverished pre-schoolers and those living in crime-infested neighborhoods all would feel the pinch from competing state budget proposals that have now moved from one chamber of the General Assembly to the other," the Sun-Times reported on May 15, 2011.

"The Senate's spending package would all but zero out spending on the Operation Ceasefire anti-violence program, while the House has proposed paring back Quinn's $33.5 million Neighborhood Recovery Initiative he announced last fall by $23.5 million."

And that's the last we heard of the NRI in the local media - with one exception - until February of this year, when state auditor William Holland eviscerated it and touched off the media cycle we're now in.

The exception was this Tribune endorsement in October 2012:

"27th District: Ask Sen. Matt Murphy of Palatine to suggest some spending cuts, and you won't get the usual sing-song about eliminating waste, fraud and abuse. Instead, he zeroes right in on some eye-popping outrages. The Grow Your Own Teachers program costs hundreds of thousands of dollars per teacher produced, he says. Funding for the Neighborhood Recovery Initiative, a supposed crime-fighting program, largely ended up being spent in not particularly violent neighborhoods just before the 2010 election and there still is no data to show it works."

*

If the NRI worked in any significant way, Quinn might be able to plead that good politics makes for good government. The evidence, however, is not in Quinn's favor.

In December 2012, CNN took a look:

ASHLEY BANFIELD: Part of our ongoing coverage of Chicago's gun violence has been to look at what's being done to stop it which brings us to tonight's report. With killings on the rise, Illinois's governor, Pat Quinn, launched an ambitious anti-violence program two years ago called the Neighborhood Recovery Initiative. And on paper it sounded like a great idea and it really did catch our eye. And then we investigated. And the CNN investigation found some pretty serious questions about whether this was crime prevention or good old- fashioned politics.

Here's investigative correspondent Drew Griffin.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

GRIFFIN: Hello? Hello? Anybody here?

This is one of the community organizing groups hired to help reduce violence in Chicago. Part of a $54.5 million initiative, Governor Pat Quinn's Neighborhood Recovery Initiative or NRI, rolled out just before his contentious 2010 election. This group, called the Woodlawn organization, got $1.2 million.

So this is all that's left of the Woodlawn organization. We walked through a front door that was wide open. You can see the equipment is here. This was defunded by the program because they couldn't figure out what they had done with the money.

It was one of about 160 community, church and civic groups that got the NRI money from the state. Now most of the money has run out. Homicides are up and questions are being raised about just what the NRI was really for. To cut crime or save an election?

What we do know is the money was spread out on Chicago's South and Southwest Sides. The idea, get communities involved to stop the violence.

How? On this chilly afternoon, teenagers across Chicago's south side are paid to hand out flyers -

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You have a nice day, sir.

GRIFFIN: - and spread a message of nonviolence. The NRI is credited with creating about 3,500 temporary jobs, mentoring youth and parents, providing re-entry services and counseling in schools. But our four-month investigation found those jobs included handing out flyers, attending yoga class, taking museum field trips, even marching with the governor in a parade. The jobs are now gone.

CNN has taken an extensive look at where the money went, what it did, and most importantly, the timing of how the program was rolled out. The Neighborhood Recovery Initiative began sending money to tough neighborhoods in the City of Chicago right before Chicago voters went to the polls. According to these minutes from a state meeting, a member of the governor's staff promised quote, "allocating some of the funds for this initiative immediately, the rest after the election."

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm happy to say that I'm always honest.

GRIFFIN: In October 2010, then lieutenant governor Pat Quinn was struggling to be elected to the job he assumed after the former governor, Rod Blagojevich, was removed from office for misconduct. Quinn, a Democrat, needed a huge turnout in Chicago's heavily Democratic districts on the South Side. That's where critics say the NRI money ended up. The governor won that election by less than one percentage point, but the results on reducing crime? So far there's been 476 murders this year, up nearly 20 percent from 2011.

MATT MURPHY: On its face, it appears to be a waste.

GRIFFIN: Illinois Republican state Senator Matt Murphy.

MURPHY: About a month before the election, at a time when reports everywhere were showing a diminished interest in the election in the governor's base and lo and behold, here he comes with a new state program and millions of dollars to get people interested.

PAT QUINN: It is a lot of baloney. They know that. Matter of fact, people make those charges were running against me. You know, it's all politics.

GRIFFIN: In an early November interview, governor Quinn insisted to CNN the murder rate was so high in the summer of 2010, he had to do something.

QUINN: The City of Chicago is the third largest city in America. I live in Chicago. I live on the West Side. I live in a violent neighborhood. And I know firsthand that you better have government do something about the violence because that's what the people want.

MURPHY: But the murder rate is up 25 percent. Are you saying that the murder rate would be up 30 percent, 35 percent without this program?

QUINN: You take it one year at a time and you try and evaluate the programs and find out what is working, what isn't working so well, and you focus on the things that work well. But, you don't just say we're not going to do anything.

GRIFFIN: Even a member of Quinn's own party though, Democratic state Representative Thaddeus Jones, has questions, asking where are the audits, administration costs and oversight of the many organizations.

We can show you what the Neighborhood Recovery Initiative did that is proof, say organizers, the money was well spent. Teaching teens to change behaviors. And for $8.75 an hour, this is how the teens worked to reduce Chicago's murder rate.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This week we're talking about seeking inner peace.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How do you deal with stress.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My topic of this month is about being healthy.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Governor Quinn does not miss this parade.

GRIFFIN: And yes, the state confirmed, part of promoting positive messages included paying teens to march with the governor in the annual parade.

Is this the type of thing that you think leads to long-term employment or long-term reduction in violence?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's another way of providing welfare.

GRIFFIN: The director of one of the agencies that received more than $2 million concedes NRI was rushed out without much of a plan.

MICHAEL SHAVER, COO, CHILDREN'S HOME AND AID: Actually, there was a fast and furious nature to it. There was certainly, from the time that the governor, who was running for re-election, announced it, to the time frame to actually put the money in the community.

GRIFFIN: Mike Shaver says the program, modeled in part after a now defunct Philadelphia initiative, did hand out a lot of money but spent little time determining if it was effective.

SHAVER: I have not seen anything that's been produced by the Illinois Violence Prevention Authority that would make a compelling case that this array of programs based upon the model in Philadelphia worked.

GRIFFIN: As we began asking questions of agencies who got the money, we have been getting more and more "no comments." You can't talk? Remember the Woodlawn Organization which received $1.2 million? Anybody here? Hello?

The leader of that group isn't talking, either. An audit by the state agency that ran the program could explain the silence. The state found questionable expenses, a lack of clear accounting, a $10,700 check written to a part-time staff member supposedly to pay a utility bill that they didn't prove was paid.

The state shut down all funding for the organization. The group's attorney tells CNN all documents will be provided to show it did nothing wrong.

I just want to get back to the point of did this program work, governor? As well-intentioned as it was, did it work?

QUINN: Yes, it did. It did work. If it saves one life, it worked.

GRIFFIN: Chicago remains on track to approach 500 murders this year.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BANFIELD: And Drew Griffin joins me now.

Drew, that last stat - the police superintendent in that city says that just recently things are getting better, that it's actually going down, that the rate is dropping. Has something changed?

GRIFFIN: Well, something has changed, but it wasn't a change of handing out more flyers or going to more yoga classes. According to the police superintendent, the murder rate, which actually was incredibly 66 percent higher earlier this year, has been steadily dropping because the Chicago Police Department has focused on the bad guys. They're arresting more gang members. They're tearing down abandoned buildings. They're putting more and more cops on the streets. That has reduced the pace. But as we reported, Chicago is on pace for a 20 percent higher murder rate this year than last year.

BANFIELD: And what does that mean for this program, the Neighborhood Recovery [Initiative]? Is it kaput?

GRIFFIN: It's still hanging on. It has a much smaller budget, $15 million. It's under a whole new state agency to monitor it. There is a big state audit going on right now to figure out where all of this money went. And get this: According to this new scaled-down program, we are told that quote, "any new jobs would be more traditional employment situations." So it survives a little bit, but not by much.

For example, last summer the NRI was still sponsoring peace marches.

*

In February, state auditor general William Holland released his bombshell.

"The state's top auditor slammed a $54.5 million anti-violence program launched by Gov. Pat Quinn one month before the 2010 election," the Sun-Times reported.

"Auditor General William Holland described the governor's Neighborhood Recovery Initiative as 'hastily implemented' and said it didn't target some of the most crime-prone neighborhoods in Chicago.

"Holland found that Quinn's administration didn't 'adequately monitor' how state grant dollars were spent or on whom; community organizations that hired people with those funds weren't maintaining time sheets; and city aldermen dictated where funding was to be steered.

"'Our audit of the NRI program found pervasive deficiencies in [the Illinois Violence Prevention Authority's] planning, implementation and management of the NRI program,' Holland's audit concluded, referring to the agency Quinn put in charge of running the program."

*

In the last week, Quinn has gone on a media blitz of sorts, hitting the local TV stations to plead his case.

"Gov. Pat Quinn says he takes responsibility for a program that's now under investigation, but he insists he quickly took steps to correct it," CBS2 Chicago reported.

That's not entirely correct, however.

Worse, CBS2 Chicago also reported this:

Quinn said the program sprang from a young man's 2010 shooting death.

"It was a program that was designed to protect the public safety and violence-plagued neighborhoods and to provide jobs for young people, mentoring," the governor says.

Spending records CBS 2 obtained tell a different story. In Maywood, where murders dropped from a high of 10 in 2008 to two in 2009, Quinn's program gave the Village of Maywood millions. In 2010, the Democratic machine in Maywood cranked out more votes for Quinn in 2010 than for Rod Blagojevich both times he won the governor's race.

Quinn OK'd millions to Healthcare Consortium of Illinois, based in Dolton, to dole out funds to worthy groups. A document CBS 2 obtained shows politicians ruled the advisory board.

It included three state representatives, two state senators and Frank Zuccarelli, the powerful supervisor of Thornton Township.

Worse still, Quinn has hit the trifecta: the NRI is now under investigation by the feds, Cook County State's Attorney's Office, and a legislative sub committee.

*

Back to Mark Brown:

"The governor continued to pat himself on the back Tuesday for shutting down the program in the summer of 2012 when he said he first learned 'it wasn't going in the right direction.'

"'I didn't sweep anything under the rug,' Quinn told reporters.

"Maybe not, but he sure didn't hold a press conference with Rush and Davis or put out a press release to let everyone know what problems he had found in the Illinois Violence Prevention Authority, the agency that oversaw his Neighborhood Recovery Initiative."

You mean he didn't spoon-feed the media with accounts of a program it ignored in the first place?

"As to the original concern about the program being used to help Quinn for the 2010 campaign, that's not a clear picture."

Clear enough.

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Here's Quinn introducing the NRI, as conveyed by his PR team. You can read the press release here or at YouTube (where comments have been disabled).

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 5:07 AM | Permalink

Eddie Shaw Blows His Way Into Blues Hall Of Fame

"Howlin' Wolf shouted and moaned like a man large enough to whip any demon. But this blues hero also possessed incredible control, and in the 1960s and '70s he relied on saxophonist Eddie Shaw's arrangements to support his unmistakable voice," Aaron Cohen writes for the Tribune.

"If you write something, you have to put it together right," Shaw said about arranging. "You can make a presentation to a woman and put it in a way that'll make her say, 'I don't want to speak with this guy no more.' Or you can use the same words, put them in a correct order and she'll want to hang with you."

"Shaw has lived fully enough during his 77 years to devise an array of such metaphors, which he revealed over cups of tea at a Mexican diner. This month, he is being recognized for his life's accomplishments as an inductee in the Memphis-based Blues Hall Of Fame."

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"The powerfully constructed tenor saxist has rubbed elbows with an amazing array of luminaries over his 50-plus years in the business," Bill Dahl writes for AllMusic.

"By the time he was age 14, Shaw was jamming with Ike Turner's combo around Greenville, MS. At a gig in Itta Bena where Shaw sat in, Muddy Waters extended the young saxman an invitation he couldn't refuse: a steady job with Waters's unparalleled band in Chicago.

"After a few years, Shaw switched his onstage allegiance to Waters's chief rival, the ferocious Howlin' Wolf, staying with him until the very end and eventually graduating to a featured role as Wolf's bandleader."

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Eddie Shaw Tour Dates.

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Eddie Shaw & The Wolfgang.

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George Thorogood's Induction Message.

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Thorogood & Shaw, 2006.

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Little By Little, April 2014.

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With Black Joe Lewis at the Double Door, 2011.

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Riding High, 1964.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:11 AM | Permalink

May 6, 2014

Traveling Salesmen & Hookers

"The Blue Jays could make up their 2.5-game deficit in the AL East by making four changes, Paul Swydan writes in an Insider-only piece for ESPN.com," MLBTradeRumors.com notes.

"One of those moves would be an upgrade at second base, and Swydan suggests that Rickie Weeks, Luis Valbuena, Emilio Bonifacio and Danny Espinosa could all be logical trade targets."

So that's why the Cubs still have Darwin Barney - someone's gotta play second once even mediocrities like Valbuena and Bonifacio are sent packing.

When the Cubs go on the road, it must be like the flea market coming to town.

The Week In Review: The Cubs managed to split a three-game series against the Reds, thanks to a rainout. Then they took two of three from the Cardinals before order was restored in the ninth inning on Sunday.

The Week In Preview: The worst edition yet of the Crosstown Classic - can we rename, please? - is already underway with the opener going to the White Sox. The Cubs then travel to Atlanta for three to showcase their roster for the Braves, sort of like showing a little knee. That's what the Cubs basically are these days - a combination of traveling salesman and hooker. Like our goods? What'll you pay?

Editor's Meta-Note: I wrote that conceit before the flea market concept in the opening. The Cubs: too metaphorical for their own good.

Wrigley Is 100 Celebration: This week the city's sports media joins the festivities by producing 100 more stories about Jeff Samardzija's contract status.

Theo Condescension Meter: 9. Down half a point on "keeping his power dry" for Masahiro Tanaka in lieu of Jose Abreu.

UPDATE: Back up to 9.5 on thinking he could land Tanaka.

Jed Hoyer Condescension Meter: 10.

On Matt Garza's entirely correct summation of CubsLand:

"[It's] like interviewing a girl that broke up with you two days ago and asking her opinion of you."

Also, for this, though it's more fitting for a Delusion Meter:

"Three consecutive years, we've kind of fallen on our face right out of the gate in April," Hoyer said. "It's really been kind of Groundhog Day. It's been closer issues in April. It's been bullpen woes."

Um, whose fault is that?

"All the years, we've had a better run differential and lost a lot of one-run games early."

So just bad luck - three years in a row.

"We should be better than our record."

Or worse.

"But, ultimately, you are what you are."

Bingo.

Prospects Are Suspects: C.J. Edwards placed on DL.

That's Ricky: "Cubs manager Rick Renteria continues to rotate several players in the starting lineup, including outfielder Junior Lake, ostensibly to put them in the best positions to succeed.

"We continue to chip away and make sure we give them the best opportunity to feel more and more confident," Renteria said.

"Lake, who was 3-for-3 with a two-run home run Saturday, was not in the starting lineup Sunday night against Cardinals right-hander Lance Lynn. Left-handed Ryan Kalish started in left field. Lake had gone 6-for-13 (.462) with a double, triple and two homers against the Cardinals this season."

Yeah, but still lacking confidence.

*

Alternate:

"After winning three straight entering Sunday night's series finale, several Cubs players talked about how loose and relaxed they felt.

"I think that's accurate," Renteria said. "I think they are having a lot of fun right now. But we also know it's a long season. We've got to make sure we maintain a little bit of an even-keeled approach to everything. But go out there and play the game and have fun."

"The Cubs' 17 losses in March and April were the most since the 1997 team endured a club-record 19."

Fun!

Laughable Headline Of The Week: Grimm Night For Cubs.

Because it's so predictable on two levels.

Mad Merch: When is Beer Can Borowski Bobblehead Day?

Billy Cub vs. Clark Cub: Who wins the Mascot Cup?

Advantage: Billy.

The Junior Lake Show: Junior went 3-for-3 with a two-run home run Saturday, sat Sunday, and drove in the lone Cubs run - scored by Samardzija - on Monday night with a sacrifice fly. But he's day-to-day in Renteria's lineup. He's not confident enough yet.

Mustache Wisdom: Carlos Villaneuva's mustache reportedly got an audition for the Star Wars Cantina band.

Wishing Upon A Starlin: Another week, another error - which actually lowers his season rate. And only a gift from a hometown scorer prevented another boot from being recorded in the history books.

Also, he went 0-for-5 on Monday night, leaving three on base - including the potential winning run in the bottom of the 11th.

Inexplicably, Renteria has been batting him clean-up.

Ameritrade Stock Pick of the Week:
Brokers warn against trading in Samardzija due to the volatility of the market.

Shark Tank: "This could go down as one of the best games Samardzija has participated in. He was a one-man wrecking crew in all phases. He made one great play in the field, bare-handing a high-bouncing ball over his head and throwing to first ... only to have Anthony Rizzo drop it. He also nailed a runner at home with a nice flip. Then came his double to break up Quintana's no-hit bid. His main job was to get White Sox hitters out and he did plenty of that as well. His ninth inning was all guts as he surpassed 120 pitches after walking back-to-back hitters. On his 126th and final pitch of the night, he induced a double-play grounder off the bat of Dayan Viciedo. It was a great performance on the big stage, par for the course for Samardzija, who lowered his ERA to 1.62."

Matt Spiegel of The Score wonders: Could a pitcher with 0 wins start the All-Star Game?

Jumbotron Preview: 5,700 square-feet of declining attendance.

Kubs Kalender: Wait 'til next year 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020.

Over/Under: Days within October 1, 2015, that Ricky Renteria is fired: +/- .5.

Beachwood Sabermetrics: A complex algorithm performed by The Cub Factor staff using all historical data made available by Major League Baseball has determined that Jim Deshaies has brought out the worst in Len Kasper and in turn made the Cubs broadcast unlistenable.

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Hashtag Cubs

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

The White Sox Report: Know the enemy.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:21 AM | Permalink

The [Tuesday] Papers

"A ProPublica examination shows that officials in scores of school districts do not know the status of their desegregation orders, have never read them, or erroneously believe that orders have been ended. In many cases, orders have gone unmonitored, sometimes for decades, by the federal agencies charged with enforcing them."

This is a highly recommend, remarkable piece of work - particularly so here in Chicago though most of it takes place in the South.

While not entirely on point, it's hard to read this story and not recall that a federal judge lifted the desegregation decree governing CPS in 2009 - at the request of Mayor Richard M. Daley - especially against the backdrop of what we learned last week about our selective enrollment high schools.

It's even more remarkable given the response of the Obama administration (reminder: Obama is black):

The [U.S. Department of Justice] would not allow its officials to be interviewed for this article. And it refused to respond to a dozen written questions concerning how it monitors, enforces and litigates desegregation cases.

A department spokeswoman sent a one-paragraph response that said the department will "continue to use all tools available to ensure equal educational opportunities for all students."

The U.S. Department of Education, whose Office of Civil Rights also is charged with monitoring desegregation efforts, would not allow its officials to be interviewed.

The agency initially refused to provide a list of desegregation plans that it oversees, saying in an e-mail that "students and communities feel sensitivity" about being categorized by race and by the fact that their schools remain "subject to ongoing legal oversight regarding desegregation obligations."

A few days later, after ProPublica said it would push for the information, the press secretary for Education Secretary Arne Duncan said the agency could provide a list, but required time because officials needed to "do some final checks on our end to be sure everything is correct." Two weeks later, ProPublica has not yet received the list.

Maybe Bruce Rauner could give him a call for us.

The Dorothy Brown Show
"Cook County Circuit Clerk Dorothy Brown had a direct managerial role in a not-for-profit group that got an anti-violence grant from Gov. Pat Quinn's now-disbanded Neighborhood Recovery Initiative, state records obtained by the Chicago Sun-Times show," the paper reports.

That sounds about right.

Next city/county officeholder besides Berrios likely to be indicted in descending order: Dorothy Brown, Karen Yarbrough, Stanley Moore, Maria Pappas.

Back to the Sun-Times:

"The group, Dream Catchers Community Development Corp., was founded by Brown's husband, Benton Cook III. It was asked to return unexpended grant money after having its contract terminated in 2011 by Chicago Area Project, a larger not-for-profit that had been overseeing organizations that had received money through the Quinn anti-violence initiative.

"Dream Catchers was supposed to be paid as much as $10,000 by Chicago Area Project to distribute anti-violence literature between February 2011 and November 2011.

"The group initially was awarded $3,333 of the $10,000. But Chicago Area Project ended the deal after only a few months, in May 2011, saying it learned of the potential conflict of interest posed by Cook also being paid tens of thousands of dollars by Chicago Area Project to oversee other Neighborhood Recovery Initiative programs.

"On March 26, 2012, Chicago Area Project asked for $1,797 in unexpended state grant money to be returned from Cook's organization. Dream Catchers complied in early April of that year."

So it's not a lot of money, but it is pretty greasy.

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The Brown link?

A February 2012 "closeout" report turned over to the now-disbanded Illinois Violence Prevention Authority bears Brown's signature, listing her as Dream Catchers' "fiscal manager."

*

Also noting: Dorothy Brown Issues Press Release On Official Letterhead Slamming Sun-Times For Exposing Huge Raises To Five Favorites.

Sacrifice Bunt
I was just saying (starting at 7:12) that if the mayor was caught speeding, it'd be huge news to the local press corps, but when the mayor breaks the law by violating the Freedom Of Information Act, it's largely written off as "inside baseball."

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

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Reference point: American President.

The Real American President
Importing war criminals while deporting war heroes.

Sponsors Snub Cubs, Sox
Fail to land sponsor for Crosstown Classic.

We have some suggestions:

* Sponsored by Rahm Emanuel, because he speaks out of both sides of his mouth.

* Sponsored by Michael Jordan, because both sides of town buy shoes.

* Sponsored by The Combine, because they win no matter who wins.

Traveling Salesmen & Hoookers
When the Cubs go on the road, it must be like the flea market coming to town. In The Cub Factor.

Michael Jackson's Chicago
Plus: Zakk's Axe Is Back & Wayne "The Train" Hancock Is Derailed. In Local Music Notebook.

Her White Chicago Friends
Plus: Michael Jordan's Fucked-Up Family & StudsFest.

The (Monster) Weekend In Chicago Rock
Featuring: M.I.A., Lawrence Peters Outfit, Protomartyr, These New Puritans, Murder by Death, Andre Williams, Aretha Franklin, Shlomo Artzi, A Minor Forest, Amy Ray, Tall Walker, Mighty Fox, The Steel Wheels, Alice Smith, Charlie Parr, Ich Troje, Turisas, Korpiklaani, Malas, Sadistic Intent, A Friend Called Fire, Kid Ink, Tomorrow Kings, The Ivorys, and Friends of the Universe.

And on the heels of this? Forget it.

The Hits Keep Coming
New batting coach Todd Steverson's job is safe - for now. In The White Sox Report.

Now With Show Notes!
The Beachwood Radio Hour #5: Lost Faith In A Ruined Sport.

Featuring: White Parents Don't Send Their Kids To Chicago Public Schools. Xerox Is Watching You. Remembering DJ Rashad. The Consterning Case Of Chicago's Best (14-Year-Old) Rapper. Our Magic City Council. Chicago Newsroom vs. Chicagoland.

Honorary Mention: Dick Mell and Patti Blagojevich doing what they do.

Music: Yo La Tengo, Sons of Hippies, When Wealthy Fell, I Am Icarus, Eleven Fifty Two.

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And:

Beachwood International with The Angry Aussie No. 12: The Hippest Trip Around The Globe.

This week: Rob Ford in Chicago. Gerry Adams in the dock. The Ukraine on the edge. The election in India that America is ignoring. So you think you're better than Donald Sterling. Mel Reynolds: The Movie. Blame it on Rio.

SportsMonday
Will return next week when our very own Jim "Coach" Coffman returns to the country from a top-secret mission involving imported beer.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Blame it on Dio.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:39 AM | Permalink

Beachwood International with The Angry Aussie No. 12: The Hippest Trip Around The Globe

This week: Rob Ford in Chicago. Gerry Adams in the dock. The Ukraine on the edge. The election in India that America is ignoring. So you think you're better than Donald Sterling. Mel Reynolds: The Movie. Blame it on Rio.


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See also: The Beachwood Radio Network.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:31 AM | Permalink

Local Book Notes: Her White Chicago Friends

"When Myra Greene asked her white friends to be a part of her photographic exploration of whiteness, their first question was usually, 'Why?' Their second: 'What should I wear?'" Jordan Teicher writes for Slate.

"As Greene traveled the country making collaborative portraits for her book My White Friends, the answers were often ambiguous. But the conversations they spawned were fruitful, if slightly foreign, to her subjects. 'Being asked to be in a photograph because of race has happened many times in my life,' Greene said, who is African-American. 'I don't think a lot of white people have been asked to do something because of their racial identity. It changes the way they think of that experience of being photographed.'

"Greene, an associate professor of photography at Columbia College Chicago, has frequently used photography as a means to explore questions of race and its representation."

*

"Myra Greene was born in New York City and received her B.F.A. from Washington University in St. Louis and her M.F.A. in photography from the University of New Mexico.

"She currently resides in Chicago Il, where she is an Associate Professor of Photography at Columbia College Chicago.

"She received an Illinois Arts Council Fellowship in Photography (2009) and has completed residencies at Light Work in Syracuse New York (2004) and the Center for Photography at Woodstock (2004)."

*

Photos via the PBS NewsHour.

*

Additional slideshow with a public radio interview.

Michael Jordan's $5 Million Gambling Spree
It happened one night, according to Roland Lazenby's new biography.

But the real - if not entirely new - revelation, via Ed Sherman for the Tribune, is this:

"Lazenby's portrayal of Jordan's father James is highly unflattering. He includes charges by Jordan's sister, Sis, that James Jordan sexually abused her, which she detailed in her own book. While Lazenby says it is impossible to verify what happened, he writes that the allegations'"would prove to be an unarticulated seed of division in the family.'"

Let's go to the Daily Mail for more:

The marriage of Michael's parents was fraught with violent battles with James allegedly delivering knockout punches at times. The family was never without 'a lurking element of fear', writes Lazenby, a basketball journalist who spent almost 30 years covering Jordan's time in college and then the NBA and beyond.

According to Sis, when Deloris realized her daughter was sexually active, she called her a slut which prompted Sis to declare, 'If I'm such a slut, why don't you keep your husband out of my bed'?

James Jordan had been climbing into bed with the little girl for eight years starting when she was a preschooler, Sis claimed.

'Her father first explained that he was teaching her to kiss like an adult,' and the abuse escalated over time.

When forced to confront her father, he lunged at her and began choking her saying she misunderstood his affection. Michael was only 12 at the time in 1975 and never knew about the abuse until years later.

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Sports Illustrated interviews Lazenby.

Wayne's World
"From his boyhood memories of the raid on a bookie joint under the Chicago apartment where he grew up, to the murder cases he worked on as an officer with the Chicago Police Department's organized crime division, Harper College professor Wayne A. Johnson has been steeped in the violence of mobsters," Burt Constable writes for the Daily Herald.

"Isolated murders, such as the infamous St. Valentine's Day Massacre or the beating deaths of brothers Anthony 'Tony the Ant' and Michael Spilotro, have become scenes in mob movies.

"'But nobody ever put it in one place before,' says Johnson, who has done that with his new book, A History of Violence: An Encyclopedia of 1,400 Chicago Mob Murders."

You may remember Johnson from his days at the Chicago Crime Commission. Now he's an associate professor at Harper College.

I&M Canal Tell-All
"Organizers behind an illustrated history book about the Illinois & Michigan Canal hope to raise $12,500 over the next few weeks to make the project a reality," Bill Wimbiscus reports for the Joliet Herald-News.

"Author/illustrator Tom Willcockson and the Canal Corridor Association plan to use Kickstarter.com funding to publish Passage to Chicago: Traveling the Illinois and Michigan Canal in 1860.

"The planned 80-page book, which will feature more than 100 illustrations, will depict a single mule-drawn cargo boat's 100-mile journey from LaSalle to Chicago."

Click through for more, including a sample illustration.

Modern Mob
"Harry Blackstone Copperfield Dresden is a professional wizard and private investigator in modern-day Chicago, where the criminal underworld isn't just the mob, but also vampires and demons and their ilk," Colton Geoffert writes for the Washburn Review, a student-run publication of Washburn University in Topeka.

"If I haven't sold you on the concept of The Dresden Files with that concept alone, then feel free to move on."

Otherwise, click through.

KISS Off
Paul Stanley of KISS is scheduled to hit Anderson's Bookshop in Naperville on May 16 as part of his book tour behind Face The Music, in which, among other things, he alleges that Ace Frehley and Peter Criss are anti-Semites.

Just be aware: "He will pose for fan photos. However, please note: Stanley will not sign memorabilia of any kind."

*

Rolling Stone has an excerpt.

The Art Of Secrets
"The Art of Secrets is the young-adult story of an investigation centered on a suspected hate crime in Chicago. NPR's Scott Simon speaks with the book's author, high school librarian James Klise."

Klise was born in Peoria and lives on the North Side. From his website:

"The truth is, I always thought of myself as a 'real writer' - but I pay my bills doing another job that I love: running a high school library in Chicago. I also supervise the school literary journal, the book club, and the Gay-Straight Alliance. (For info about finding a GSA where you live, please check out my links page.)

"The best part of my job is filling the shelves with GREAT books that I know my students will read for fun. I also enjoy helping students to revise and edit their own writing - making sure it's the best work possible."

StudsFest
"A full schedule is now available for Let's Get Working, a new three-day festival honoring the life and work of Chicago legend Studs Terkel at the University of Chicago's Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts, 915 E. 60th Street, Chicago," the university has announced.

"Let's Get Working explores Terkel's legacy while showcasing individuals and groups from Chicago and beyond who have been influenced and inspired by Terkel's work as a broadcaster, historian, actor, and Pulitzer Prize-winning author. This event is free and open to the public."

See also: studs.uchicago.edu.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:19 AM | Permalink

Local Music Notebook: Wayne "The Train" Hancock Derailed

Bloodshot recording artist Wayne "The Train" Hancock hopes to go home on Friday after a motorcycle accident last month landed him in a Texas hospital near his home with a collapsed lung and fractured elbow.

The accident occurred a week ago Saturday (April 26) and was serious enough that Hancock was initially admitted into the ICU.

His tour dates through June 8 are postponed.

"As with most independent musicians," Bloodshot says, "Wayne's income is wholly derived from performances and selling music and merch. Please help him offset growing medical expenses and the additional financial woes of canceling two months of tour dates, by donating on PayPal to waynehancockfund@gmail.com."

Here's Wayne at the Westport Saloon in Kansas City on April 4th:

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And here's "Looking For Better Days."

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Murder Sentence
"A Chicago man has been sentenced to 100 years in prison for the 2008 gun-slaying of a music producer," AP reports.

"Thirty-year-old Darryl Evans was convicted of first-degree murder in the shooting, which occurred during a failed robbery at a gas station. His sentencing was Friday.

"The victim, Michael Phipps Jr., was a music producer with a Chicago hip-hop record label called Meen." [link added]

Here's a Meen Records release from 2012:

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Preserving Disorder
Only at the University of Chicago does a college student trying to foil ticket scalping say "What I was basically trying to do was to add as much entropy to the market that I could."

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Michael Jackson's Chicago
The first single from the new posthumous Michael Jackson record is called "Chicago." It sounds like a hit.

Alternate audio source:

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Zakk's Axe Is Back
"A custom-made, $10,000 guitar stolen in March from heavy metal rocker Zakk Wylde's tour bus outside The Chicago Theatre has been recovered after being sold to a Chicago pawn shop, Wylde's manager confirmed Saturday," the Tribune reports.

The owners of Royal Pawn Shop, 428 S. Clark St., said a man came in to sell the guitar on March 24 - about 10 days after it was reported stolen from Wylde's unlocked tour bus while he was performing at The Chicago Theatre as part of the Experience Hendrix Tour.

The pawn shop had been alerted about the reported theft right after it took place, said Randy Cohen, who along with his brother Wayne owns the Loop pawn shop that was previously the subject of the Tru TV reality show Hardcore Pawn: Chicago.

"I forgot about (the alert)," Cohen said. "That happens every day. To be honest, I can't remember (expletive)."

But the seller's information was recorded as part of the transaction, the Cohens said, and the guitar's serial number and description was entered into an online database accessible by law enforcement across the country.

The guitar then sat in storage at the pawnshop for the 30-day period required under Chicago ordinance, Cohen said.

Cohen said an employee originally paid around $50 for the guitar. But as the brothers took a closer look, they said they started to realize the guitar could be more valuable.

Click through for the rest.

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Chicago police will return the guitar to Wylde when he returns to Chicago for a show later this month, according to the New York Times.

*

Here's Wylde from that Chicago Theatre show:

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 4:59 AM | Permalink

May 5, 2014

The Beachwood Radio Hour #5: Lost Faith In A Ruined Sport

Plus: White Parents Don't Send Their Kids To Chicago Public Schools. Xerox Is Watching You. Remembering DJ Rashad. The Consterning Case Of Chicago's Best (14-Year-Old) Rapper. Our Magic City Council. Chicago Newsroom vs. Chicagoland.

Honorary Mention: Dick Mell and Patti Blagojevich doing what they do.

Music: Yo La Tengo, Sons of Hippies, When Wealthy Fell, I Am Icarus, Eleven Fifty Two.



SHOW NOTES

00: Strawberry Rock Show

1:13: Yo La Tengo at the Concord.

3:28: White Students Getting More Spots At Top CPS High Schools.

4:49: Federal Judge Ends Chicago Schools Desegregation Decree.

* ProPublica: The Disintegration Of Desegregation.

12:34: Eleventh Dream Day at the Hideout.

13:43: Ousted Red-Light Camera Operator Rakes In Windfall In Contract's Final Months.

17:10: Sons of Hippies at the Double Door.

17:46: SPOTLIGHT: Our very own Tom Chambers on The Near Total Demise Of Thoroughbred Horse Racing.

* A Derby Lament.

* Lost Faith In A Ruined Sport.

* The Kentucky Derby Presented By Yum! Brands.

* Angels, Devils & Drugs.

* The Near Total Demise of Thoroughbred Horse Racing.

* PETA Accuses Two Trainers Of Cruelty To Horses.

* Churchill Downs Incorporated.

* Secretariat Jockey Ron Turcotte Says Kentucky Derby Snubbed Him.

* Normandy Invasion Owner Vents At High Costs To Attend Kentucky Derby.

* Coach Q's Midnight Hawk.

1:04:04: When Wealthy Fell.

1:05:31: I Am Icarus.

1:06:00: Dick Mell with Patti B.

1:07:02: Remembering DJ Rashad.

1:11:52: The Mouse That Roared.

* Derrick Rose's High School Grades Changed.

* Derrick Rose Failed The ACT Three Times In Chicago; Passed In Detroit.

* NCAA Penalizes Memphis Because Derrick Rose Cheated.

* Yummy Sandifer.

1:18:25: City Council Report: "A super-stealth parliamentary maneuver literally when nobody was looking."

1:21:30: Madigan Ally Seeks To Derail Democracy.

1:22:35: Stealth not required; city council is in your face.

1:26:09: Eleven Fifty Two at Mojoes.

Note: Kid Rock took the Southern rock and mixed it with the hip-hop.

1:28:07: Rahm's Chicagoland Response Requires Suspension Of Disbelief.

* Credulous vs. incredulous.

1:35:15: Chicago Newsroom vs. Chicagoland.

Stoppage: 44:36

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See also: The Beachwood Reporter Radio Network.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 11:51 AM | Permalink

Lack Of Order: The Erosion Of A Once-Great Force For Integration

For decades, federal desegregation orders were the potent tool that broke the back of Jim Crow education in the South, helping transform the region's educational systems into the most integrated in the country.

Federal judges, often facing down death threats and violence, blanketed Southern states with hundreds of court orders that set out specific plans and timetables to ensure the elimination of racial segregation. Federal agencies then aggressively used the authority of the courts to monitor hostile school systems, wielding the power of the 1964 Civil Rights Act to strip federal dollars from districts that refused to desegregate.

The pace of the change wrought by the federal courts was breathtaking. In 1963, about 1 percent of black children in the South attended school with white children. By the early 1970s, the South had been remade - fully 90 percent of black children attended desegregated schools. Court orders proved most successful in the South, but were also used in an attempt to combat de facto segregation in schools across the country, from New York to Michigan to Arizona.

Today, this once-powerful force is in considerable disarray.

A ProPublica examination shows that officials in scores of school districts do not know the status of their desegregation orders, have never read them, or erroneously believe that orders have been ended. In many cases, orders have gone unmonitored, sometimes for decades, by the federal agencies charged with enforcing them.

At the height of the country's integration efforts, there were some 750 school districts across the country known to be under desegregation orders.

Today, court orders remain active in more than 300 districts. In some cases, that's because judges have determined that schools have not met their mandate to eliminate all vestiges of segregation.

But some federal courts don't even know how many desegregation orders still exist on their dockets. With increasing frequency, federal judges are releasing districts from court oversight even where segregation prevails, at times taking the lack of action in cases as evidence that the problems have been resolved.

[Editor's Note: In 2009, a federal judge lifted the desegregation decree overseeing Chicago Public Schools at CPS's request.]

Desegregation orders were meant to guarantee black and Latino children the right to an equal education. They addressed a range of issues including the diversity of teaching staff, racial balance in schools, curriculum, discipline and facilities.

The orders uniquely empower parents to fight actions by school districts that might lead to greater segregation or inequality. In districts under court order - having been found in violations of the constitutional rights of black children - parents do not have to prove intent, only that black students could be harmed.

Since the 1990s, the Supreme Court has sharply curtailed the power of parents to challenge racial inequities in schools. Districts not under court orders are largely prohibited from considering race to balance schools. And parents in these districts must show that school officials are intentionally discriminating when they make decisions that adversely affect black and Latino students.

And so, as desegregation orders are ignored, forgotten or lifted, black parents are losing the ability to effectively challenge school inequality.

Over the course of months, ProPublica has compiled the nation's most comprehensive and accurate data on active desegregation orders. We used legal databases, academic studies and contacted more than 160 school districts across the country.

The effort uncovered a world of confusion, neglect and inaction.

For example, the lawyer for the school district in Hollandale, Miss., said he didn't know if the desegregation order that had long ago been imposed on the district was still in effect.

"I haven't looked at anything or researched it. I've never read the order," the lawyer, Bennie Richard, said.

The order is, in fact, in place, but it has been 30 years since the school district submitted the required reports detailing its efforts at furthering integration.

In Washington, Ga., court records show the school system remains under a federal mandate to desegregate. This was news to the district's lawyer, who in an interview told ProPublica the order had been lifted in 2000.

The U.S. Justice Department provided ProPublica with its list of active desegregation orders, but even this data was a bit off: At least two orders on it had ended and a few more are in dispute.

The department would not allow its officials to be interviewed for this article. And it refused to respond to a dozen written questions concerning how it monitors, enforces and litigates desegregation cases.

A department spokeswoman sent a one-paragraph response that said the department will "continue to use all tools available to ensure equal educational opportunities for all students."

The U.S. Department of Education, whose Office of Civil Rights also is charged with monitoring desegregation efforts, would not allow its officials to be interviewed.

The agency initially refused to provide a list of desegregation plans that it oversees, saying in an e-mail that "students and communities feel sensitivity" about being categorized by race and by the fact that their schools remain "subject to ongoing legal oversight regarding desegregation obligations."

A few days later, after ProPublica said it would push for the information, the press secretary for Education Secretary Arne Duncan said the agency could provide a list, but required time because officials needed to "do some final checks on our end to be sure everything is correct." Two weeks later, ProPublica has not yet received the list.

Wendy Parker, a former Justice Department lawyer who now teaches at Wake Forest University School of Law, said she found the general confusion about the orders "stunning."

The superintendent of the Yancey County Schools in North Carolina, for instance, asserted that a court order had never been imposed on its schools. But court records at the federal archives in Atlanta show not only was Yancey County placed under a desegregation order in 1960, but the order remains in force.

In response to additional questioning, the district's lawyer, Donny Laws, said the district was placed under court order but that, "I can safely tell you that's the first time it's been mentioned in Yancey County in 45 to 50 years."

Some school officials interviewed by ProPublica said they had been frustrated in their attempts to simply determine the status of any ongoing federal oversight. A school board lawyer for Warren County, N.C., said he contacted the federal courthouse in Raleigh to see whether that district's court order had ended, but said court officials told him the records had been shipped to the federal archives, and thus they couldn't give him an answer.

The lawyer asked ProPublica to send him the court records if we found them. We did find the archived case docket for Warren County and it appears the order remains active.

But confirming the status of desegregation orders is not easily done.

The bulk of orders predate the Internet, so many can't be found online.

Across the country, original court orders and their underlying records have been destroyed by fire, shipped to a central archive center, or lost in the dusty parchment graveyards of courthouse basements. Some orders have lain dormant for so long that everyone involved, including judges and lawyers, are either retired or dead.

The federal government was not a party to all of these cases, many of which originated with civil rights organizations. In some instances, these agencies, too, have not closely monitored districts' progress.

The desegregation order for St. Martin Parish in Louisiana sat idle for more than 30 years. In 2010, a federal judge who was cleaning up his roster of old desegregation cases determined the order had ended in 1976.

But the judge soon heard from the Justice Department, which insisted that the order was operative and necessary. The St. Martin Parish school board disagreed.

"The Clerk of Court in Shreveport couldn't even find all of the records," said Jack Burson, the board's attorney. "I've been in law practice for 49 years, and I've never seen a silent case sort of resurrect."

For now, the order remains active. The parties are waiting for an appellate court ruling.

Brian K. Landsberg, a law professor at The University of the Pacific who worked as a Justice Department civil rights lawyer in the late '60s, said he was dismayed by the lack of action.

"This is not the way it's supposed to work," Landsberg said. "It is the job of both the school district and the civil rights division to monitor these cases. There is an obligation of the law enforcement agencies to enforce these orders."

A Pioneer's Sense of Betrayal

Fred Gray was once a driving force behind the effective use of federal desegregation orders.

Sitting in his Tuskegee, Ala., law office - located along the dilapidated downtown circle that bears his name - Gray, 83, recently explained how as a child he had made a secret vow to become a lawyer, and to then "destroy everything segregated" in his state.

At the time, no Alabama law school admitted black students, so Gray headed north to Ohio to earn his degree. Then, in 1955, at age 24, he took his first case, that of a teenager named Claudette Colvin who had challenged Alabama's segregated buses months before Rosa Parks. Gray went on to represent Parks, as well as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and helped to banish segregation on buses and to ensure voting and other rights for black Americans.

But the fight for fair and integrated schools proved longer and harder, much to the consternation of black parents eager for their children to realize the promise of the landmark Brown v. Board of Education case in which the Supreme Court struck down the doctrine of separate but equal schools. By 1963, for example, Alabama schools remained utterly segregated.

That year, Gray sued the Macon County Board of Education. The case wound up before U.S. District Court Judge Frank Minis Johnson Jr. Johnson's rulings in favor of civil rights had led to death threats, cross burnings on his lawn, and the firebombing of his mother's home.

Not surprisingly, then, Johnson ordered Macon County schools to desegregate. Ultimately, Johnson served on a three-judge panel that granted Gray's subsequent petition to place the entire state of Alabama under federal order to desegregate its schools and universities.

The orders had real muscle, for the federal government had recently been authorized to withhold money from school districts that resisted integration.

"After the Civil Rights Act, if you didn't comply you would actually lose aid and still be sued by the Department of Justice," said Gary Orfield, co-director of The Civil Rights Project at UCLA. "And the Department of Justice never lost."

At the time, no one knew how long the orders would or should last, but it was clear from the outset that their potential to bring about change was entirely contingent on the willingness of officials to enforce them.

By the 1980s, the will to do this was buckling under what some civil right experts call integration fatigue. President Ronald Reagan, upon taking office in 1981, immediately cut federal financial support for desegregation efforts. The head of the Justice Department's civil rights division under Reagan, William Bradford Reynolds, said the department would not "compel children who do not want to choose to have an integrated education to have one."

Reagan's Justice Department worked to curtail and end court orders. The trend continued and accelerated dramatically under George W. Bush. The ideological shift had implications even for those school districts that remained under order to sustain or improve their integration efforts. Orders had their power wither for lack attention and regular enforcement.

Wendy Parker, the former Justice Department lawyer now at Wake Forest, examined just how much of an afterthought many of the country's standing desegregation orders had become. Parker studied all the written school desegregation opinions from 1992 to 2002, figuring that such opinions would reflect meaningful activity in the cases.

Though hundreds of desegregation orders remained active, Parker could find published opinions for cases in just 53 school districts.

Federal judges once wielded the considerable power bestowed on them by the nation's highest court to oversee school desegregation. The high court even empowered them to write desegregation plans themselves if necessary. But Parker concluded that contemporary judges have largely left school districts to police themselves.

That certainly happened in Buncombe County, N.C.

Even though a judge had never dismissed the local school district's 1965 desegregation order, the lawyer for the Buncombe schools this year called the order essentially moot because of "the passage of time."

In e-mails, the lawyer, Chris Campbell, told ProPublica the district had been ordered to eliminate a policy of sending its black students to a black high school operated in another district, which it had long ago done.

"There has been no further court action and no plan to take further action by the school district since the issues were resolved nearly 50 years ago," he wrote.

But it's hard to know if the district has been fully compliant, as Campbell does not have a copy of the desegregation order and neither does the federal court or its archives. However, an entry on an archived copy of the case's court docket makes it appear that the district was at the very least mandated to desegregate its teaching staff as well. Campbell declined to answer questions about how he knew what was required without a copy of the order or to specifically address the teaching staff issue.

In Alabama, where the entire state was once under order to desegregate schools, two federal judges in the late 1990s decided to do something about the dozens of desegregation orders that had become dormant in their part of the state.

The life stories of the two judges - Myron Thompson and William Harold Albritton III, both of whom are still on the bench - could not be more different. Albritton came from three generations of lawyers and had attended all-white schools in Andalusia, Ala. His father had strongly opposed Judge Johnson's civil rights rulings. Thompson attended all-black schools in Macon County and knew the students involved in the case that led Johnson to order the entire state desegregated. Thompson's stepfather was a field secretary for the NAACP.

If the school districts under court order were totally desegregated, Albritton said in an interview in his chambers last fall, it was time to return control to the local school boards.

"And if they weren't," he said, "it was time for them to get with it and get that way after 25 years."

Albritton said he and Thompson split up the cases in their region, called in all the parties to determine what the remaining issues were, and then worked towards a way of solving them. Albritton said the process was hampered by the fact that many districts didn't realize they were still under court orders.

But Thompson and Albritton did not simply accept claims by the school districts that they'd met their obligations. They assigned a magistrate judge to work closely with the parties to address racial disparities. Before dismissing the orders, they made sure the districts worked - often over the course of years - to address inequities across a range of issues, including the disproportionate placement of black children in special education.

"I wanted to look at the statistics, I wanted to look at discipline, I wanted to look at all these factors," said Thompson. "I was calling status conferences every three to four months, and I would have them file status reports and we would talk . . . I was unwilling to just sign off on them."

Still, Thompson often wonders how much of an impact his hands-on approach had on integration in the long run. He invoked William Faulkner and said that it was better to have tried than to have done nothing.

"Faulkner said 'between grief and nothing I'd rather have grief,"' he said.

Other judges have not been nearly as rigorous in overseeing active desegregation orders. Parker found that when cases come before the courts, judges almost always rule against the interests of minority students seeking greater integration.

In 2000, a judge released the Gadsden, Ala., school district from its desegregation order, even though court records show the district still operated a 90-percent black high school, hadn't adopted any specific policies to address segregation, and had refused to consider removing the name of Ku Klux Klan founder Nathan Bedford Forrest from one of its schools. The district had been ordered to, among other things, develop a multicultural curriculum, hire more minority teachers, increase access to advanced courses for black students, and eliminate curriculum disparities between schools.

According to court records, U.S. District Court Judge William Acker said he had considered ordering the district to do more to comply with its court order, but decided against it because it would "only invite another dispute." He said the district had "done a pretty good job of meeting the standards it agreed to." He offered that the "level of cooperation, open mindedness and acceptance" in Gadsden "beats by a mile" the situations in Northern Ireland and Kosovo. Acker did not respond to an interview request.

An appellate court overturned Acker, and ultimately the district agreed to an extensive settlement agreement that led to the termination of the district's order in 2005.

Rulings by lower courts with the most direct supervision of desegregation orders, Parker said, have generally been discouraging.

"The court still requires a commitment to the elimination of vestiges of discrimination that are caused by the defendant and can be practically addressed. Yet the district courts have ignored this responsibility," Parker wrote in her study. "Today courts are willing to accept lingering segregation that the Supreme Court's jurisprudence prohibits."

Gray, whose family firm is still battling for racial equality in schools, is frustrated by the unwillingness of the courts, federal agencies and local school boards to seriously address the segregation he'd vowed to end.

"I thought at some point they'd begin to do something because it is the right thing to do, but that has never happened and that is one of the most disappointing points," he said. "We have to keep fighting."

The Price of Neglect

In 2005, a series of battles began in Pitt County, N. C., over the racial makeup of local schools, showing what can happen when desegregation orders go dormant for years.

Initially, the school district adopted a zoning plan that reassigned some white students to heavily black schools. Some white parents yanked their kids out of the district in protest. Later, the board, in a bid to halt any white flight, reversed course and adopted a plan that actually increased segregation at some predominately black schools.

Black parents were outraged and turned to the strongest legal weapon at their disposal: A 1970 desegregation order that was still in effect and that barred what the district was then proposing.

The order's existence had come as a surprise to many. It had been idle for 35 years, resurfacing only when the district used it to defend its initial plan to reassign white kids.

"Communities get caught sort of unaware about what they have a right to challenge and what is going on," said Elizabeth Haddix, a staff attorney at the University of North Carolina Center for Civil Rights.

The black parents' lawsuit to enforce the long-idle order wound up before U.S. District Judge Malcolm Howard.

The district sought to have the order lifted, arguing that it had long ago achieved the mandate to integrate. It offered evidence that it had racially balanced its schools within a few years of being placed under court order and had maintained that balance for a period of years, repeatedly rejiggering attendance zones to ensure integration. Because there had been no recent activity in the case, the district declared that it had met its legal obligations decades ago.

"The board no longer operates any school that could be accurately labeled a 'one race' school," the school system said in a brief filed with the court. " Pitt County Schools did not respond to interview requests.

Black parents, represented by the UNC Center for Civil Rights, claimed the order was still necessary. They insisted that racial inequities continued to exist and that the district hadn't met the conditions the Supreme Court requires for orders to be dismissed.

Howard sided with the district and lifted the order. An appellate court overturned that decision, and sent the case back to Howard for an additional hearing. Last year, Howard once again declared federal involvement with the district over.

"Times have changed since the 1960s," Howard wrote in his decision. "The School Board has proven that the vestiges of state-mandated discrimination practiced over forty years ago have been eliminated to the extent practicable."

The Center for Civil Rights is appealing.

"There is hostility to these claims in some cases, and certainly an incredulity that these things are still out there in 2014," said Mark Dorosin, managing attorney at the UNC Center for Civil Rights.

After its experience in Pitt County, the Center decided to help educate communities in the state and elsewhere about existing court orders that might empower parents to take action. It requested an up-to-date list of the active orders from both the Justice Department and the Education Department, but has yet to receive it.

"It was surprising that there wasn't a complete list somewhere," said Dorosin. "But the conspiracy theorist in me says it's not surprising because the government has deprioritized integration. It's a willful neglect. The promises that were made to these kids have never been fulfilled from 40 years ago."

Researchers Katia Savchuk, Jonathan Lin and Hanna Trudo contributed to this report.

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Search here for desegregation documents ProPublica collected during their reporting.

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Comments welcome.


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 11:00 AM | Permalink

The Weekend In Chicago Rock

You shoulda been there.

1. M.I.A. at the Riv on Thursday night.


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2. Lawrence Peters Outfit at the Logan Theater Lounge for CIMMfest on Saturday.

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3. Protomartyr at Reckless on Saturday.

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4. These New Puritans at the Empty Bottle on Saturday night.

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5. Murder by Death at the Logan Square Auditorium at the Bloodshot Records 20th Anniversary Showcase for CIMMfest on Saturday.

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6. Andre Williams at the Logan Square Auditorium at the Bloodshot Records 20th Anniversary Showcase for CIMMfest on Saturday.

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7. Aretha Franklin at the Chicago Theatre on Saturday night.

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8. Shlomo at the Bottom Lounge on Friday night.

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9. A Minor Forest at the Empty Bottle on Friday night.

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10. Amy Ray at the Double Door on Saturday night.

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11. Tall Walker at Subterranean for CIMMfest on Friday night.

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12. Mighty Fox at Subterranean for CIMMfest on Friday night.

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13. The Steel Wheels at City Winery on Saturday night.

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14. Alice Smith at City Winery on Friday night.

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15. Charlie Parr at FitzGerald's in Berwyn on Friday night.

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16. Ich Troje at the Copernicus on Saturday night.

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17. Turisas at Mojoes for Paganfest on Saturday night.

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18. Korpiklaani at Mojoes for Paganfest on Saturday night.

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19. Malas at the Cobra Lounge on Saturday night.

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20. Sadistic Intent at the Cobra Lounge on Saturday night.

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21. A Friend Called Fire at the Cobra Lounge on Sunday night.

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22. Kid Ink at House of Blues on Friday night.

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23. Tomorrow Kings at Quenchers on Saturday night.

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24. The Ivorys at the Metro on Friday night.

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25. Friends of the Universe at the Elbo Room on Friday night.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:34 AM | Permalink

The Hits Keep Coming

The good ones never stop trying to figure out what's going on when it's going bad, and when it's going good, they know how to keep it going. He's one of, if not the hardest-working hitting coach I've had. He gets all the credit.

- Adam Dunn

After the game he's in the cage working with people. [Guys] like Viciedo and [Gordon Beckham]. Those guys will be saying he's their guy."

- Paul Konerko

Yessir, looks like the White Sox have a keeper in new batting coach Todd Steverson. Only problem is that those quotes from Dunn and Konerko were lifted from last season when Jeff Manto was the team's hitting instructor.

Manto was well-credentialed - and well-traveled. His Baseball Reference page lists 30 entries in the "Transactions" section.

He played in the bigs for parts of nine seasons - in 1995 playing for Baltimore he hit 17 homers - but his greatest success came in the minor leagues, where he slugged 243 homers. He's the only player in Buffalo Bisons history to have his number retired, and he's a 2014 inductee into the International League Hall of Fame.

Manto made it back to the bigs as the Pirates' batting coach in 2006-07, after four years as their roving minor-league hitting instructor. Manto lost his job there when the Bucs fired manager Jim Tracy; the Sox snatched him up and made him their minor-league roving batting guru for four seasons before promoting him back up to the majors.

But Manto took the brunt of the responsibility for last season's miserable Sox offense. He was fired the last weekend of the season.

He wasn't out of work long. Now Manto works for the Orioles in their minor league system.

That's the life of a lifer. Steverson made brief appearances as a player for the Tigers and Padres in 1995-96 and retired two seasons later at age 26. Right away he became a coach with stops in places like Potomac, Peoria, Palm Beach and Vancouver. His career as a batting instructor began in 1999.

Steverson, who already is receiving accolades for the Sox's offensive resurgence, also managed in the minor leagues, leading the Triple-A Sacramento River Cats to the Pacific Coast League championship in 2008.

The Oakland A's, the parent club of the River Cats, made Steverson its first-base coach for two years before sending him back down to act as their minor-league batting coordinator.

In 2012, he found himself subbing for the manager of the Stockton Ports in a game that ended up going 18 innings. Having run out of pitchers and with his second position player on the mound, Steverson decided he should end the game to protect his men from injury. So over the course of two innings he ordered outfielder Josh Whitaker to balk three opposing runners into scoring position before the Modesto Nuts finally took advantage and pushed the winning run across the plate. The California League banned Steverson for a year, saying he had damaged the integrity of the game.

Steverson was still working in the A's system when the White Sox started hunting for Manto's replacement. The White Sox reportedly drew up a list of 17 candidates; they hired Steverson the same day they interviewed him.

We can only guess whether players such as Viciedo, Alexei Ramirez, Tyler Flowers and Dunn would be so much improved over 2013 had Manto kept his job on the South Side.

Viciedo, who hit an opposite field three-run homer in Cleveland on Sunday to salvage a 4-3 win for the Sox, has shown the most dramatic improvement under Steverson. His strike zone used to be only slightly smaller than the Grand Canyon. He drew a mere 52 walks over the past two seasons but already has 11 this year - in addition to his .330 average. He simply is swinging at strikes and letting the wide ones go by.

Is this a result of working with Steverson, whose mantra is "selective aggression?"

It appears so. Before this year, Viciedo had a curious habit of drooling at anything remotely near the strike zone's outside corner. Now he primarily swings at strikes.

And the walks? Manto thought they were overrated.

So it's no surprise that under Steverson's approach, the Sox have been far more selective at the plate than they have in the past. They rank ninth in drawing walks so far this season, after finishing 29th in the league last year.

Of course, the biggest reason for the offensive surge - only the Rockies have scored more runs - is Jose Abreu.

Abreu who hit two more home runs last week and continues to lead the American League in homers (12) and RBI (34).

Adding the speed and selectiveness of Adam Eaton to the top of the lineup also seems to reflect a change in philosophy from the softball-type squads the Sox have favored in recent years; Eaton's on-base percentage is .363.

So how important is the batting coach?

Until the late 1960s, teams didn't have them; the manager and his coaches supplied all the advice about hitting they thought was necessary.

That changed with the emergence of coaches such as Charley Lau, a journeyman catcher who transformed himself into the game's most legendary hitting instructor as he worked his way through five teams, including the White Sox in 1982-83.

Lau pioneered the technique that George Brett made famous - releasing the top hand off the bat at the end of the swing.

Now every team has at least one hitting instructor (Harold Baines is officially listed as Steverson's assistant) and they tend to bounce from team to team.

Still, unlike the new wave managers such as Robin Ventura, Brad Ausmus, Walt Weiss Mike Matheny, who never managed or even coached in the majors before assuming the reins of big-league teams, batting coaches remain hired to be fired.

When the Sox dumped the much-maligned Greg Walker after nine season, for example, the Braves didn't hesitate to grab him up. He replaced Larry Parrish, who had replaced Terry Pendleton, both of whom had successful major league careers as players. (Parrish now manages the Toledo Mud Hens, where he replaced Phil Nevin, who now manages the Reno Aces and is considered the heir apparent if Kirk Gibson gets fired in Arizona. Pendleton moved to first base for the Braves, replacing Glenn Hubbard. And so it goes.)

Simply put, a hitting coach is safe as long as his team is . . . hitting. When a team isn't, the hitting coach becomes a favorite scapegoat for the fans and a convenient sacrifice for the front office.

A batting coach doesn't necessarily change a hitter's mechanics; athletes don't reach the major leagues if they haven't been good hitters, usually from the time when they were Little Leaguers. Sometimes what's important is to change a hitter's head, both in approach at the plate and a game plan for each at-bat, and in self-esteem.

Ramirez, for example, has always been a decent hitter, and his swing looks the same as always. But he appears much more confident at the plate this season, collecting more hits (40) in April than anyone in the team's history. Dunn is making much better contact using the same mechanics as always. Maybe the fact that he'll be a free agent this winter has something to do with his line of .273/.409/.909. Or maybe Steverson has provided just the right kind of advice and encouragement.

(On the North Side, the Cubs fired Dale Sveum as manager in part because of the regression of Starlin Castro at the plate, attributed to the now-former manager and his staff filling their prodigy's head with too much advice.)

Whatever it is that Steverson is doing right, it's clear from last week's four straight losses sandwiched by wins on Monday and Sunday that he'll have to continue whatever magic he can muster to keep this club putting runs on the board. Until Chris Sale returns, the starting pitching will be an adventure. Even when he does come back, the rotation won't scare anyone. (The staff as a whole has issued 15 more walks than any team in baseball.)

On the plus side, the bullpen has responded nicely of late. In the last eight games, the relievers have covered 25 2/3 innings with an ERA of 0.70.

With Sale, Conor Gillaspie, Eaton and others idled with assorted injuries, the Sox take on two National League cellar dwellers this week, the Cubs and the Diamondbacks. Both teams have recently played better, but their combined record remains 22-41.

Prediction: Steverson's job is safe for one more week.

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

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:32 AM | Permalink

May 3, 2014

The Weekend Desk Report

Subtle reminder to all Weekend Desk readers: Mother's Day is a week from Sunday. Don't fuck it up.

Market Update
Only in Chicago can you tighten the noose by making the Loop bigger.

Derby Odds
Since when did Chrome become the undisputed leader in speed?

Chicago Blue
A team of scientists will take on the gargantuan task of dissecting a massive, bloated heap on the brink of catastrophic collapse. So maybe there's hope for TIF reform after all.

Reformed Rob
In related news, embattled Toronto mayor Rob Ford has reportedly flown to Chicago in his quest to control his baser appetites. And by "baser appetites," we mean city council.

Droning Along
Finally this week, did anyone consider that the so-called "drone over Schaumburg" was, in fact, just kinda, you know, Schaumburg?

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The Weekend Desk Tip Line: Home base.

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Weekend Sports Special: Secret To Success: A Derby Win And Racing's Doping Addiction.

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The Beachwood Radio Hour #5: Kentucky Derby Edition: Lost Faith In A Ruined Sport.

Plus: White Parents Don't Send Their Kids To Chicago Public Schools. Xerox Is Watching You. Remembering DJ Rashad. The Consterning Case Of Chicago's Best (14-Year-Old) Rapper. Our Magic City Council. The Chicago Newsroom vs. Chicagoland.

Honorary Mention: Dick Mell and Patti Blagojevich doing what they do.

Music: Yo La Tengo, Sons of Hippies, When Wealthy Fell, I Am Icarus, Eleven Fifty Two.

Note: Will be re-posted Monday in our People, Places & Things section with Show Notes, but if you want Kentucky Derby handicapping you better listen now!)

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Beachwood International with The Angry Aussie No. 12: The Hippest Trip Around The Globe.

This week: Rob Ford in Chicago. Gerry Adams in the dock. The Ukraine on the edge. The election in India that America is ignoring. So you think you're better than Donald Sterling. Mel Reynolds: The Movie. Blame it on Rio.

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The Sound Opinions Weekend Listening Report: "Without Chess Records, there'd be no Rock 'N' Roll. Jim and Greg take stock of the history and legacy of the legendary blues label. Then they review new albums from Blur & Gorillaz frontman Damon Albarn, and the food-obsessed R&B singer Kelis.

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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: Rape Victim Advocates

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Every six minutes someone is sexually assaulted in the United States. Liliana Vargas of Rape Victim Advocates shares how the organization helps survivors and works to end rape.

Saturday at 7:30 p.m. on CAN TV21 / En Espanol Sunday at 4 p.m. on CAN TV21.

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Perspectivas Latinas: The Chicago Cuatro Festival

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Orlando Rivera, founder and director of the Chicago Cuatro Festival, highlights the organization's work preserving the sounds and history of Puerto Rico's national instrument, the Cuatro.

Saturday at 8 p.m. on CAN TV21 / En Espanol Sunday at 4:30 p.m. on CAN TV21.

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Chicago Gaming Expansion Hearing

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Community members weigh in on State Rep. Bob Rita's (D-Blue Island) proposal to create a state-owned casino in Chicago.

Sunday at 9 a.m. on CAN TV21.

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LIFT Keynote Address: Kirsten Lodal

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LIFT founder Kirsten Lodal gives insight into her work starting and running a national anti-poverty nonprofit.

Sunday at noon on CAN TV21.

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Shattered Hopes: Obama's Failure To Broker Israeli-Palestinian Peace

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Author and activist Josh Ruebner discusses obstacles facing the United States' diplomatic efforts in the Middle East and President Obama's inability to help form a lasting peace between Israel and Palestine.

Sunday at 1 p.m. on CAN TV21.

Posted by Natasha Julius at 8:05 AM | Permalink

Secret To Success: A Derby Win And Racing's Doping Addiction

Today at least 95 percent of American racehorses have the drug in their system when they leave the starting gate. Is this horse in this race the reason why?

Fifty years after the 1964 Kentucky Derby, revisiting the race and its implications for drugs in the Sport of Kings.

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On looks alone, Northern Dancer did not stand out as he entered the starting gate for the 90th running of the Kentucky Derby in 1964. He was the small bay colt from Canada nobody had wanted to buy as a youngster. He had sore feet and a volatile temperament. Still, as he filed into Post 7 and the crowd of 100,000 got to its feet, Northern Dancer was the second betting choice. Churchill Downs anticipated a classic.

Once the gates opened, a horse named Mr. Brick charged to the front, and the pace was quick early on. Mr. Brick was followed by Royal Shuck, Wil Rad and The Scoundrel, who slightly bumped the betting favorite, Hill Rise.

Jockey Bill Hartack, with three Derby wins in his career, later recalled that he had a snug hold on Northern Dancer. He dropped him to the rail where he could save ground.

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E.P. Taylor, a tycoon who rolled his inherited brewery fortune into dozens of Canadian companies, had bred Northern Dancer at his Windfields Farm outside Toronto. Canada had never delivered a Derby winner, and millions watched their national pride on television. Taylor, or Eddie to his friends, was a man "who often looks as though one of his many companies has just declared bankruptcy," wrote Whitney Tower of Sports Illustrated.

Northern Dancer was a little runt, born late in the season, on May 27, 1961. When Taylor offered up his yearlings at his annual sale, there were no takers at the base price of $25,000. So Taylor kept him. Nevertheless, Northern Dancer's pedigree was faultless, and for a horse his size he had a large girth - spacious room for heart and lungs. As he grew into his stocky frame on the racetrack, he shocked observers with exceptional balance.

"He has a stride that looks two sizes too big for him, but it is perfectly controlled, like something they do at the Bolshoi Ballet," Charles Hatton, a racing writer, once remarked.

Northern Dancer won his first five of seven races in Canada - the minor leagues - but when he came to New York in the fall of 1963, he proved no northern fluke. He finished the year with two easy victories, giving the impression that there was more to come.

But there were fears: one of Northern Dancer's legs was not perfect, and he ran that fall with what is known as a "quarter crack" in his left front hoof. In order to allow for a chance at the Derby the following May, his trainer, Horatio Luro, a tall, dashing, Argentinean born into a family of horsemen, called upon an inventive California blacksmith who had developed an operation for vulcanizing a split hoof.

It appeared to work.

Northern Dancer returned to the races in Florida early in 1964, and he quickly ran off one win after another against the best three-year-old horses on the East Coast. Luro, better known as El Gran Señor, knew how to get a horse to the Derby. He had won with Decidedly in 1962.

But the Derby of 1964, run 50 years ago this weekend, would in some ways turn out to be one of the most important and telling in horseracing history, its real and symbolic impact felt a half-century later throughout a sport roiled by doping scandals.

Not that the fans in the stands had any idea at the time. After all, few at Churchill - for all the tip sheets and bets sold that day - knew the identity of Northern Dancer's veterinarian.

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As the field of 12 horses passed the stands that afternoon in May of 1964, Northern Dancer, in the turquoise and gold silks of his Canadian owners, was five lengths behind Mr. Brick. Hartack, his jockey, kept a close eye on Hill Rise to his outside. Luro, Northern Dancer's trainer, had instructed Hartack to conserve Northern Dancer's energy early in the race and save him for a late charge.

And so Hartack, after a fast opening quarter-mile, was content with Northern Dancer's mid-pack position.

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In the week before the 1964 Derby, Luro sought the consideration of one man: equine veterinarian Alex Harthill.

Harthill turned 39 that week but was already a legendary figure. He had by then attended to 10 Derby winners, the first in 1948 with Triple Crown victor Citation. His veterinary lineage traced back four generations; his father and grandfather had also cared for Derby winners and contenders. Harthill's influence was such that he had the extraordinary privilege of his own barn on the Churchill backstretch: Barn 24.

John Veitch, the Hall of Fame trainer of Calumet Farm's celebrated Alydar and later a state racing official in Kentucky, knew Harthill well.

"Alex was a real Damon Runyon character," Veitch told me recently. "He was a brilliant vet. But he'd rather make a dollar on the sly than a hundred bucks on the level."

Harthill, at 80, died in 2005, but, in truth, his epitaph had been written decades earlier: brilliant but controversial. For almost six decades, he was the most desired veterinarian in America. He was investigated frequently, but almost always emerged unscathed and defiant, unafraid of giving what to many seemed like self-incriminating interviews.

The legend of Harthill, then, has percolated over the years in the racing world, a place of cynical assumptions and plenty of enduring mystery.

One certainty is that his undisputed talent in caring for horses was matched by his talents inside the office laboratory he kept across the street from Churchill. In the years following World War II, the science of medicine advanced rapidly, as drug manufacturers churned out remedies for human illness. None of these drugs were ever designed specifically for horses, so enterprising veterinarians like Harthill, an avid reader of human medical journals, were at the vanguard of experimenting with them at the racetrack.

Racing authorities, then or now, have never had much luck in their fight against doping. The first laboratory tests - of the saliva of competitive horses - were not introduced until the 1930s, and only then were mostly intended for three things: morphine, heroin, and strychnine. The tests were aimed at determining whether a race had been affected by a horse having been sabotaged by a rival camp or a stable eager to make a large wager.

But the drugs coming from major pharmaceutical companies after the war were being used to improve a horse's performance, and they were remarkably effective. Orders from veterinarians poured in.

Barry Irwin, a prominent owner in today's racing game, said in an interview that he will never forget something Harthill once told him: "Even though a horse is five or seven times larger than humans, the amount of dope needed to have an effect is so small. An amount on the tip of a match would be enough to flick up a horse's nose to get a spectacular result."

The racing authorities were becoming overwhelmed. There was often a lag of years between the synthesis of a human drug for horses and a test for it. These new medications also raised the question of what amounted to doping: testosterone, for instance, became available to trainers in 1947 and allowed them to add spirit to their geldings. It was harmless. It was effective. Was it doping?

Harthill's innovation in this area had already put him in front of law enforcement. There were two incidents in 1954 - one in Kentucky, the other in Illinois - where he was accused of illegally injecting a horse with amphetamines. The following year in New Orleans, he was arrested for public bribery following an alleged doping plot at the Fair Grounds racetrack. The Thoroughbred Racing Protective Bureau, the sport's investigative arm, regularly watched Harthill during this time. But he always won vindication.

Veitch recalled one famous story in which law enforcement was tipped off that Harthill had medications in his car which were legal in Canada but not in the United States. "The story is he claimed the car was stolen and he had never seen those vials," Veitch said. "He was a brilliant veterinarian," Veitch said. Then he paused. "He loved the edge."

"I don't care where the medication was made, whether it was in Europe or Canada or Mexico, Alex was right on it - and often before it was legal to be used in the United States," Veitch continued. "Day or night, if you called Alex, and he liked you, he was there for you."

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Entering the backstretch, Hartack guided Northern Dancer to the outside, away from any prospective trouble along the rail. The fractions were swift: 22 2/5 seconds, 46 seconds, and1:10 3/5for three quarters of a mile. But Northern Dancer was still a very relaxed horse.

The Scoundrel began his run after the leaders and Hartack tracked him, leaving Hill Rise, the betting favorite, behind. It was still a half mile from the finish line, and so Hartack was happy to let The Scoundrel go ahead in order to save Northern Dancer for the stretch. He was only concerned about Hill Rise eventually catching him.

"I was in good shape," Hartack said after the race. "I had a horse who had run easily under a tight hold, I was in front of Hill Rise and I knew I had plenty of run left."

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The medical term for it is exercise-induced pulmonary hemorrhaging (EIPH), but horsemen for more than 300 years have known it simply as bleeding, a condition as old as the thoroughbred.

For most of that time, however, the cause of it was unknown. Only in the 1960s did it become obvious that this bleeding came from burst capillaries inside a horse's lungs after great pressure during exercise. Blood can make its way into the trachea and, in the most severe cases, pour from the nostrils. For racehorses - nose-breathing animals - this problem can certainly hamper making it to the finish line.

By the end of the 1960s, furosemide, better known by its trade name Lasix, became the drug to deal with it. It was a diuretic that flushed out a horse's system and relieved pressure on the lungs.

Horses with no business winning began doing so, and even the trainers of horses with no bleeding issues began to give Lasix to them. Why not - one well-regarded medical study showed it could leave a horse 16 pounds lighter on race day.

As Lasix use took off, Veitch, the former trainer and racing official said, "In most jurisdictions you had two veterinarians that would certify that a horse was a true bleeder through endoscopic examination. Well, that made two veterinarians liars."

In 1974, Maryland became the first state to allow Lasix to be given on the day of a race to horses with documented bleeding problems, and a line was cut through the history of American racing. That year, Fred W. Hooper, the famous owner, told an industry roundtable: "I don't believe that you can control it (medication) once you open up the door."

Other states quickly followed Maryland. Today, claims that a horse has a bleeding problem are no longer required for the use of Lasix, and at least 95 percent of American racehorses have the drug in their system when they leave the starting gate.

Over the years, there has been speculation that Lasix can cause the bones of horses to become more brittle, and it is generally accepted that horses today run less often than in the past because the dehydration and weight loss caused by Lasix is quite taxing.

None of the concerns have tamed the use of Lasix, however, and scores of other drugs have followed Lasix to the racetrack - almost all of them with an ostensible therapeutic use, and almost all of them vulnerable to being abused. And that abuse, over the last decade, has led to the suspensions of prominent trainers, complex sting operations by animal rights advocates, and congressional hearings into the plague of drugs in racing.

For many, then, Lasix is sort of the godfather of the modern doping epidemic. To this day, while the use of many other drugs has been banned or sharply controlled, almost all efforts to curtail the use of Lasix have been stopped cold.

"Whether they need it or not, who the heck knows?" longtime trainer Jonathan Sheppard once told me. "But it's a preventative thing."

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Approaching the quarter pole, Hartack decided it was time to go. Decisiveness in such moments can make or break a race: if you use your horse too soon, then he will grow weary in the final strides. But Hartack knew the horses in front of him had gone too fast to keep going; they would begin to labor, their strides faltering, and drop back quickly. Possibly even get in the way, and put him off course.

He had let those in front do the dirty work, and now was the time to ask Northern Dancer, until then relaxed and unruffled, to turn on his renowned acceleration, surge past The Scoundrel and put daylight in front of the field. And make the few horses who had avoided the suicidal pace come after him. Hartack was Mr. Derby. He could see the Churchill stretch without opening his eyes.

"I knew the time had come to use my speed and use it quickly before Hill Rise could start his own run," Hartack said.

Northern Dancer, all balance and velocity, spun out of the final turn in a sensational 11 seconds for an eighth of a mile. He opened up a little more than two lengths between the quarter pole and the eighth pole.

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Harthill's work with drugs and horses in the 1960s seems to have straddled the line between legitimate care and the push for advantage. Even those wary of his motives don't believe he ever intentionally harmed horses. And if what he was giving them violated the spirit of the sport, it wasn't illegal. The authorities could not or did not test for the drugs he was introducing to privileged clients.

"He didn't always live by the rules," his friend Gary Priest, who ran a surgical practice with Harthill, admitted to me. "He'd travel all over the world to find the source of a drug we didn't have in the States, and he'd bring it in and use it on horses he thought would benefit from the treatment."

Harthill was beloved and feared, charismatic and hot-tempered. He counted among his friends Frank Sinatra and Ronald Reagan. But he also sucker-punched reporter Billy Reed of the Louisville Courier-Journal in 1968. (The newspaper did not press charges.)

"He was in demand probably as much as any veterinarian of his era, from the standpoint of horses pointing for major races and had some small infirmity," Veitch said. "He knew what his reputation was. He was really proud of the horses that he had - let's use the world 'helped' - in their careers."

In the days before the 1964 Derby, Hill Rise, Northern Dancer's top rival, looked invincible. He won the Derby Trial on the Tuesday of Derby week, and jockey Bill Shoemaker opted to ride Hill Rise over Northern Dancer in the big race, the Derby itself.

Still, Luro, who had saddled winners for all the big prizes, appeared confident in Northern Dancer before the race. Luro, who died in 1991, felt the winning horse would have to travel the final quarter mile in 24 seconds, and that only his horse had the speed and freshness to do it.

During these days, Harthill had his normal clients, but then his special ones too. Luro was a close friend.

"I don't know how to say this," Veitch said, "but he wasn't going to share his secrets with everybody. I don't think Alex was averse to making a wager himself. And if he was sharing those secrets with everybody, it would make it harder for him to have a special horse in that race."

For Northern Dancer, it appears Harthill had Lasix. Veitch said Harthill told him he had been able to get his hands on the drug even before it had been approved for use in humans. The first mention of furosemide appeared in a German medical journal. Trials had evidently been ongoing for several years for German patients with heart problems.

A dozen years ago, Harthill told Jay Hovdey of the The Daily Racing Form that he had given the drug to Northern Dancer before the Derby. Still, how he had obtained a newly synthesized drug is not known.

"Alex was very secretive about his sources," Veitch said. But Veitch, in an interview several weeks ago, said Harthill had openly told him he had used it on Northern Dancer.

Dr. Robert Copelan, a contemporary of Harthill's still practicing after 61 years, told me he first heard about this new injectable diuretic at a veterinary conference in the fall of 1965, which makes Harthill's possession of it in 1964 not out of the question.

It is unclear if Northern Dancer was a true bleeder. His performances on the track - except for a third-place finish against weaker company in early 1964 - suggest he may not have bled badly, and Harthill had other reasons for administering it. Veitch said Harthill had told him that Northern Dancer was hot-blooded and that the diuretic would lower his blood pressure and calm his volatility. He wouldn't leave his race in the paddock, as horsemen say.

"I'm sure they might've experimented with it on Northern Dancer before to make sure it didn't have an adverse effect on him," Veitch said. "They wouldn't go into an event like that without giving it to him and seeing how he reacted, whether it would benefit him or not."

In the interview with The Daily Racing Form in 2002, three years before his death, Harthill described a certain cloak-and-dagger flavor to his doping of Northern Dancer in the hours before the Derby in 1964.

Track security, he said, had been following him.

"So I got a vet I knew from out of town to come along with me," Harthill said. "I told him I was going to turn to the right, and would he go that way and take this little syringe down to barn 24, stall 23, and give this to that horse. There would be a guy there called Will. He'd be waiting.

"So he did it, while the gendarmes followed me."

On May 2, 1964, just past 4:30 in the afternoon, Northern Dancer hit the top of the homestretch at Churchill Downs.From the final turn to the finish line was 1,235 feet. Hartack, atop Northern Dancer, did not know where Hill Rise was. But Shoemaker and Hill Rise had finally found room, and they came charging. Still, time was short.

Hill Rise had won eight in a row, and surely now he would catch Northern Dancer. The infield crowd swelled to the rail. It was the two-horse race everyone had expected. The rest of the horses were toiling, as Northern Dancer burst from the pack, and Shoemaker uncorked Hill Rise to his outside.

With a sixteenth of a mile left, Northern Dancer's two-length lead was cut to one. Hill Rise moved powerfully and straight. Hartack pushed Northern Dancer, so game he never needed the whip.

At the wire Hill Rise could only reach Northern Dancer's neck. As Luro, the trainer, had plotted, the final quarter was run in 24 seconds; the final time of two minutes was a Derby record. Hartack had won his fourth Run for the Roses, Luro his second, and E.P. Taylor had bred the first Canadian winner.

* * * * *

Noreen Taylor was 17 when she watched, on television, Northern Dancer win the Derby. She later married into the family that owned the horse, and she learned that her husband, Charles Taylor, the son of E.P. Taylor, had in 1964 been a reporter for Toronto's Globe and Mail newspaper in communist China. E.P. notified his son of Northern Dancer's win via telegraph.

It does not seem from the public record that either the owner or trainer of Hill Rise ever commented on Harthill's claims about using Lasix, and recent attempts to track down anyone who was close to Hill Rise at the time proved fruitless.

Four years ago, Noreen Taylor and the family estate sold Windfields Farm, once home to over 600 racehorses. But some of Noreen's time, she said, is still committed to the remembrance of Northern Dancer, a member of the Canadian Hall of Fame. Books and films are still being made on his life.

As for the role Alex Harthill played in all of this, Taylor said she could not say. In her encounters with Harthill, she said, the subject of doping never came up.

"And yet I know that he has said it," Noreen said of Harthill's boast. "But there is no record we have of any Lasix being administered, or there is nobody I could even call and ask. But he was a terrific veterinarian. It unfortunately just falls within the mists of time."

She did say Northern Dancer could be difficult, so much so that Luro suggested gelding the colt before he ever raced - an idea, it turns out, that E.P. Taylor wisely overruled.

Northern Dancer won the Preakness after the Derby, but lost his Triple Crown bid at Belmont Park. He won the Queen's Plate in front of his beloved Canadian fans, and then an injury ended his career. Like a starburst, it was over in 10 months.

But in a way, it was only a preview. Northern Dancer became one of the most iconic stallions of the 20th century, known especially for his European progeny, and for decades his yearlings sold for eye-popping figures. His sons became champions, and their sons champions. His bloodlines today span the globe.

And much of all that history turned on the outcome of one race, the length of a neck, and maybe a little help.

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See also: The Beachwood Radio Hour #5 Kentucky Derby Edition: Lost Faith In A Ruined Sport.

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Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

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Comments welcome.


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:09 AM | Permalink

May 2, 2014

The [Friday] Papers

"Tripped up by a whistleblower, clout-heavy firm McHugh Construction has agreed to pay $12 million in fines to resolve a case involving alleged fraud on government programs intended to benefit women and minority-owned subcontractors, according to the U.S. Department of Justice," the Sun-Times reports.

In exchange for refusing to answer questions from reporters, the Sun-Times published a statement prepared by McHugh's public relations department:

"Over the last 26 months, we have not only cooperated fully with the government, but we have taken proactive steps to become an industry leader in . . . compliance issues," company chairman Patricia McHugh "said."

What's funny about that is that in a letter to "clients, colleagues, competitors and friends" on its website addressing the matter, McHugh boasts that it has operated on a principle of transparency since its founding in 1897.

What's also funny is that it boasts it has similarly operated on principles of integrity and honor, but is just now, after 117 years of doing business in Chicago, taking proactive steps to addressing minority contracting fraud.

Oh, and it also reported more than a half a billion dollars in revenue last year.

i wonder if their wrists hurt when they get slapped.

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"Project manager Ryan Keiser has a passion for building big, so he was thrilled eight years ago when he joined a suburban firm that partnered with clout-heavy McHugh Construction on major projects like bridges, highways and rapid transit infrastructure," the Tribune reports.

"But he quickly learned that working construction in Chicago didn't necessarily mean building anything. Keiser said he was instead forced to participate in a subcontracting scam, spending his days falsifying purchase orders, labor hours and other paperwork to show that his company - which was owned by a woman - was doing jobs that were actually being handled by McHugh."

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"The probe involved about $150 million in McHugh contracts on some of the biggest recent public works projects in the Chicago area, including the reconstruction of Kennedy Expressway ramps in 2005, the massive 2006 revamp of the CTA Brown Line, the reconstruction of the North Avenue Bridge in 2006 and the 2010 Wacker Drive viaduct reconstruction.

"Under laws designed to give companies with less clout a foot in the door, McHugh was supposed to subcontract out about $40 million of the work on those projects to businesses owned by women or minorities."

Impact of McHugh's behavior vs. Donald Sterling's thought process. Discuss.

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"McHugh admitted no wrongdoing and will not be barred from winning future government contracts."

Maybe they'll buy the Clippers.

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"Keiser's attorney, Mike Kanovitz, acknowledged that a $12 million hit is unlikely to make an immediate dent in the world of construction deals.

"Kanovitz also blamed the city's lax oversight and 'bad whistleblower culture' for fostering an environment where fraud is rampant."

McHugh, for example, remains defiant - no matter what statement they put out for public consumption.

"In a letter to employees posted on its website, McHugh said it 'recognizes the seriousness of the allegations' but disputed 'any suggestion that we intentionally disregarded the requirements of (disadvantaged business) programs.'"

We didn't intentionally ignore decades of massive minority contracting fraud in Chicago until now; we just coincidentally decided to become an industry leader in preventing it when visited by the FBI.

Patricia McHugh, you are today's Worst Person In Chicago.

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The Week In Juvenile Justice
I'll provide some of the takeaways, you'll have to click through to see the items they are attached to.

Indeed, this is the kind of context missing amidst an explosion of crime news fueled by data geeks getting their hands on police stats, hyperlocal sites streaming incident reports, reporters and hobbyists retweeting police scanners, and homicide watch projects at large newspapers that not only track every victim but raise the bar on melodrama-for-clicks. Crime really is down.

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I'm sure the program helps some particular individuals but I'm always skeptical of approaches that fail to address structural root causes both because they are rarely if ever sustainable and because they fail to address structural root causes.

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At recent House and Senate budget hearings, Gregg's performance was panned for her lack of grasp of basic agency financial and operational details, according to accounts. Gregg fumbled for answers regarding recent cuts to the agency's budget despite being spoon-fed questions by lawmakers. Legislators - Democrats and Republicans - were privately stunned by Gregg's lack of preparation.

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The cruelest irony is police actually found DNA evidence implicating someone else in the murder, just two days after it happened, records show. But they didn't hand it to prosecutors, so it was never used in court.

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Chicago Newsroom vs. Chicagoland
Real journalists vs. fake ones.

Lawsuit Demands DOJ Release More Secret Surveillance Court Rulings
"The government's secret interpretation of laws and the Constitution needs to end."

Meet The Magic Blackhawks Ice Bucket
Licensed by the NHL and the NCAA.

Beachwood Photo Booth: Finest Quality
The Zwick Window Shade Co.

The Week In Chicago Rock
Featuring: Yo La Tengo, Eleventh Dream Day, Jon Langford & Sally Timms, Diana Ross, The Aquabats, Leon Russell, Sons of Hippies, Peter Wolf, Circuit des Yeux, When Wealthy Fell, Galantis, I Am Icarus, Eleven Fifty Two, Glass Cloud, letlive, Alter Bridge, Bombay Bicycle Club, and Gabe Dixon.

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BeachBook
* Rent Too High? Move To Singapore.

Redfin, the real estate website, recently found that there was not a single home on the market in San Francisco that would be affordable on a teacher's salary.

* Fed Study: Poor Falling Further Behind Rest Of U.S.

Seemingly related: Dow Closes At Record High As Fed Pares Stimulus; Study: U.S. Policies Favor The Wealthy; CDC: Hundreds Of Thousands Of Poor Americans Die Unnecessarily Every Year Because They Lack Access To Quality Health Care.

Oh, and this:

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TweetWood

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The Beachwood Tip Line: The new old tip line.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:57 AM | Permalink

The Week In Chicago Rock

You shoulda been there.

1. Yo La Tengo at the Concord on Thursday night.


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2. Eleventh Dream Day at the Hideout on Sunday night.

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3. Sons of Hippies at the Double Door on Monday night.

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4. The Aquabats at House of Blues on Thursday night.

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5. Jon Langford and Sally Timms at Lincoln Hall on Wednesday night for the Chicago premiere of Revenge of the Mekons.

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6. Circuit des Yeux at the Hideout on Monday night.

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7. When Wealthy Fell at Reggies on Sunday night.

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8. Galantis at Lincoln Hall on Tuesday night.

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9. Leon Russell at Mayne Stage on Tuesday night.

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10. Peter Wolf at City Winery on Monday night.

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11. Diana Ross at the Chicago Theatre on Wednesday night.

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12. I Am Icarus at the House of Blues on Monday night.

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13. Eleven Fifty Two at Mojoes in Joliet on Tuesday night.

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14. Glass Cloud at Bottom Lounge on Tuesday night.

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15. letlive at Bottom Lounge on Tuesday night.

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16. Alter Bridge at House of Blues on Tuesday night.

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17. Bombay Bicycle Club at House of Blues on Wednesday night.

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18. Gabe Dixon at SPACE in Evanston on Wednesday night.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:24 AM | Permalink

Chicago Newsroom vs. Chicagoland

In this corner, Chicago Newsroom host Ken Davis, with guests Rick Kogan, Richard Steele, Ray Salazar and Bill Ruthhart.

In that corner, Mark Konkol, Marc Levin and Chicagoland.

Not even close.


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Among the highlights:

  • Among the redactions in the e-mails that Ruthhart obtained through a Freedom of Information Act: The "characters" that the mayor's office suggested for the show.
  • Deep suspicion about the amazing coincidence that the only two schools out of more than 50 that were saved from closure were the two schools that CNN's cameras were following.
  • Rahm's contention that he hasn't watched the show belied by the fact that the mayor's office - as Ruthhart has reported - asked for a private screening before it was aired. Ruthhart also notes that Rahm is briefed by his staff on every piece of media about him; at the very least he was briefed on each episode and it defies reason to think he never watched for himself.

    Is it safe, then, to call Rahm a liar? Let me tell you something: Rahm earned a reputation as a liar long ago from people inside the political system who have watched him stretch, twist, distort and mangle the truth repeatedly, often to accrue undue credit onto himself.

  • A peace march organized by Liz Dozier in Roseland was conflated with a shooting in Englewood to make it appear as if they were related; they were not. They are, um, not the same neighborhood.
  • Salazar, a CPS English teacher who blogs at The White Rhino, tweeted Billy Dec during one show to make a point I've also made: Fundraising for Fenger High School may help alleviate budget problems, sparingly, one year, but what about the next and the next? Juanita Jordan isn't going to be there every year parsing out enough to barely save one job, especially when the cameras are gone. If Dec really cares, he can immerse himself in the issues and get involved. After all, he as an infamous nightlife impresario has the mayor's ear in a way that the world's education experts don't!

    Alternately, Kogan says that if Dec really wants to help, he can put a nightclub in Roseland or open some other business there.

  • Kogan really hands it to Rahm. "[The series] shows a guy who doesn't seem to have a real clue about what Chicago is . . . a playful guy peeking in school rooms . . . a guy out of control . . . the mayor comes off kind of like nuts in this thing."
  • Kogan also hands it to producer, writer and narrator Mark Konkol, saying that he first thought the script must have been written by Rahm press secretary Tarrah Cooper and her aides, but then thought, "No, they're way better than that." Zing.
  • Kogan also reveals that Konkol asked him to participate and he refused.
  • Steele notes that Konkol told WBEZ that he considered Chicagoland to be "reality journalism" and "a new way of storytelling."
  • Responded Ruthhart: "Telling them how great they're gonna look, that's not journalism."

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Previously:
* Tweeting Chicagoland | Episode 1: Oh My Lord, I Hate It Already.

* Cracking The Chicagoland Code 1: Docu-Series Or Docu-Wank?

* Tweeting Chicagoland | Episode 2: Brought To You By Allstate, Billy Dec & The Central Office.

* Cracking The Chicagoland Code 2: Fixing The Facts.

* Tweeting Chicagoland | Episode 3: Get Me Rewrite.

* Cracking The Chicagoland Code 3: Our Fact-Challenged Heroes.

* Tweeting Chicagoland | Episode 4: Did We Mention That Rahm Loves (Black) Kids?

* Cracking The Chicagoland Code 4: LollapaRahmza.

* Tweeting Chicagoland | Episode 5: Back To Black.

* Cracking The Chicagoland Code 5: Yada Yada Yada.

* Tweeting Chicagoland | Episode 6: Building A New Rahm.

* Cracking The Chicagoland Code 6: Unwired.

* Tweeting Chicagoland | Episode 7: Tripling Down.

* Cracking The Chicagoland Code | Epsiode 7: We Don't Care How They Do It In New York.

* Exposing Chicagoland.

* Cracking The Chicagoland Code 8: Ending The Way It Started - In Deceit.

* Rahm's Chicagoland Response Requires Suspension Of Disbelief.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:42 AM | Permalink

Lawsuit Demands DOJ Release More Secret Surveillance Court Rulings

In a continuing campaign to uncover the government's secret interpretations of the surveillance laws underlying the National Security Agency's spying programs, the Electronic Frontier Foundation Thursday filed another lawsuit against the Department of Justice, demanding that the government hand over key Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court opinions and orders.

"We can't have an informed debate about mass surveillance with access to only half the story," EFF staff attorney Mark Rumold said. "The government's secret interpretation of laws and the Constitution needs to end. Disclosure of the opinions we've requested will be an important step towards providing the public with the information it needs to meaningfully debate the propriety of these programs."

In recent months, the U.S. intelligence community has sought to repair its image by posting FISA court decisions and other documents on a new Tumblr site. While this looks like an altruistic attempt to provide transparency, government officials often fail to acknowledge that the documents are primarily being made public in response to successful FOIA litigation from organizations such as EFF.

So far, EFF's FOIA lawsuits have forced the government to disclose FISA court opinions detailing how the NSA violated court orders and the Fourth Amendment, as well other troubling facts and insight about the operations of these programs. We have also learned of the existence of other records and opinions that EFF believes should be made public.

"With all the disclosures that have taken place over the past year, there's no valid reason these opinions are still secret," EFF senior counsel David Sobel said. "The government's refusal to provide these opinions looks more like an attempt to control public opinion about the NSA's operations, rather than protecting any legitimate intelligence sources or methods. "

EFF has yet to receive key documents in response to four outstanding FOIA requests. Among the most significant records EFF is seeking in this FOIA suit:

  • The FISA court's "Raw Take" order, which was revealed in documents released by Edward Snowden. According to the New York Times, this secret 2002 order weakened restrictions on sharing private data, allowing federal intelligence agencies to share unfiltered information about Americans.
  • Two FISA court opinions from 2007 that first authorized, then later stopped, the NSA's warrantless content collection program approved by President George W. Bush.
  • The first FISA court opinion from 2008 that analyzed the legality of NSA surveillance under Section 702 of the FISA Amendments Act.

EFF has also requested any still-secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court of Review (FISCR) decisions and appeals from the FISCR to the Supreme Court on NSA surveillance.

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The complaint.

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More information and the underlying FOIA requests.

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Previously:
* Human Rights Organizations To Foreign Ministers: Stop Spying On Us.

* What The Proposed NSA Reforms Wouldn't Do.

* Technologists Turn On Obama.

* Dear Supreme Court: Set Limits On Cell Phone Searches.

* EFF Fights National Security Letter Demands On Behalf Of Telecom, Internet Company.

* Eighth-Grader Schools The NSA.

* You Know Who Else Collected Metadata? The Stasi.

* Today We Fight Back.

* The Day We Fight Back.

* FAQ: The NSA's Angry Birds.

* 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 6:47 AM | Permalink

Meet The Magic Blackhawks Ice Bucket

This 100% aluminum beauty holds approximately six to eight bottles of your favorite beverage, plus ice.

Check the reviews:

"Not what I expected."

- one star, K-Rud.

"Terrible buy for the price."

- one star, LuckyEscape.

Watch the video:


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Sold out?

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Also at Amazon, where it is also licensed by the NCAA. (Only two left in stock at the time of this post.)

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 3:27 AM | Permalink

Beachwood Photo Booth: The Zwick Window Shade Co.

Handmade in Chicago.

IMG_1203.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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Listen to Helene talk about Photo Booth; starts at 57:54.

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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.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Deluxe Cleaners.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Marie's Golden Cue.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Die Another Day.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Sears Key Shop.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Window Dressing.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Jeri's Grill.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Barry's Drugs.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Liberty.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Kitchen.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Golden Specials.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: We Won The Cup.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Bartender Man.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Blue Plane Blues.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 2:35 AM | Permalink

May 1, 2014

The [Thursday] Papers

"A controversial proposal to build a hotel and a new DePaul arena near McCormick Place with public money was approved [Wednesday] before many aldermen even knew they voted for it," Phil Ponce said last night on Chicago Tonight.

How is that even possible? he asked.

Chicagoland!

No, but seriously, here's CT correspondent Paris Schutz's extraordinary explanation:

"Some aldermen at this moment may not be aware they actually voted for this. It passed using a super-stealth parliamentary maneuver literally when nobody was looking. There was no debate, there was no actual out-loud roll call. Before anyone knew what happened, it was all over . . . A handful of aldermen later discovered it was passed."

I wonder if our other local news organizations know it passed, because I couldn't find the story on either the Tribune's website or the Sun-Times's website. DNAinfo Chicago didn't have it, and none of the local TV stations appears to have it.

This is one of the most controversial proposals of Rahm Emanuel's mayoralty. It was snuck through "literally when nobody was looking."

That sounds like blockbuster news to me.

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Additionally, it merits comment (again) that our elected officials view democracy as a hassle that unnecessarily constrains them from simply doing what they want. In this sense, you can see that the impulses of people like Rahm Emanuel - and Richard M. Daley before him and Michael Madigan still - are quiet similar to the impulses of the Vladimir Putins of the world. If Rahm Emanuel had grown up in Russia, he'd probably be Putin. Just read this interview.

That may seem like rhetorical overreach, but think about it. We're all human and we become socialized into the culture we are born into. The badly flawed founding fathers of America sought to create a government of checks and balances that would rein in the impulses of those driven (by whatever motive) to lead. One of those checks and balances is a legislative branch. In Chicago, that branch obviously has been "captured."

But has the media, too?

Obviously not in all cases. See today's Rahm's Chicagoland Response Requires Suspension Of Disbelief.

But note also this passage:

"Let me tell you something: It's not about whether the conduct by his staff was appropriate. Of course it wasn't. But his staff doesn't conduct itself that way except at the behest of the mayor. The more pertinent question is about his involvement and what marching orders he gave to his aides.

"The more pertinent question is whether he thinks that manipulating an international news agency to present a distorted picture that doesn't align with the facts is the sort of thing a public official should do in America, as opposed to, say, Russia or China or North Korea."

Rahm Emanuel may truly be driven by what he thinks is the right thing to do. I doubt that, because the record shows otherwise. But let's say he is. Getting elected isn't supposed to simply clear the way for him to therefore work his will; it gives him the right to pursue an agenda and be the city's top decision-maker within the framework of a system of governance that includes legislative and judicial branches, as well as, yes, a fourth "estate" of independent journalism to critically observe the system from the outside.

It may seem silly or odd that I keep trying to give basic civics lessons here; surely everyone already knows this. Surely "preaching" isn't going to help.

But I'm not convinced everyone does know this. I'm not convinced that Rahm Emanuel or Richard M. Daley or Michael Madigan ever stop and think about democracy and their own role in it and how their behavior is counter to our country's core (on paper) values.

Mostly, I think the media forgets it as it gets caught up in the daily drama, gossip and theater of our political life. In part, that's by design; folks like Rahm plan on which days to "break" news in order to distract the media from that which they would rather not see get scrutiny.

But it's up to the media to combat such manipulation, not become co-dependent on it.

After all, if the media doesn't take its responsibilities seriously, no one will take the media seriously - most of all, people like Rahm Emanuel.

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"A longtime ally of House Speaker Michael Madigan is trying to thwart efforts to ask voters whether to impose term limits on lawmakers and curb some of the politics in drawing new legislative district boundaries before the two proposed constitutional amendments have even landed on the ballot," the Tribune reports.

Michael Madigan is the chairman of the state Democratic Party.

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"The Chicago City Council today filled the November general election ballot with enough referendums to prevent any citizen questions from being placed on all ballots in the city," the Tribune reports.

"Aldermen voted to place three questions on the Nov. 4 ballot - the limit for questions to be asked of voters in all the city's precincts - just as they have done in previous elections.

"That effectively prevents citizens from gathering enough petition signatures to place on the ballot other questions, such as whether the Chicago Public Schools Board of Trustees should be elected instead of appointed by the mayor - a question that Mayor Rahm Emanuel opposes."

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Obama Averages 1 Fundraiser Every 5 Days
But he wants you to pay for his library.

Rahm's Chicagoland Response Requires Suspension Of Disbelief
Stage-managing 'til the end.

Revenge Of The Mekons, The Pogues & Veruca Salt
Plus: The greatest thing since punk rock according to Steve Albini. In Local Music Notebook.

The Taco Bell Death Star
Plus: At least the eating at The Cell is competitive. In Random Food Report.

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The [Wednesday] Papers
Posted relatively late yesterday, so here's the link.

And just as a reminder, here's the Papers archive.

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I just think violations of democracy are big news. That's also why I think FOIA fights out to be not only fought about to the fullest by news organizations, but reported on. Not complying with FOIA is breaking one of our nation's most vital laws. Why isn't that huge news?

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BeachBook
* U.S. Report Offers Grim Portrait Of Afghanistan's Future.

* Facebook Is Throttling Nonprofits And Activists.

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TweetWood

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Uncovered.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:34 AM | Permalink

Rahm's Chicagoland Response Requires Suspension Of Disbelief

"Mayor Rahm Emanuel on Wednesday sought to pivot away from questions about how his top aides worked with producers to coordinate scenes for CNN's Chicagoland documentary," Bill Ruthhart reports for the Tribune.

Pivot is one word for it. Let's take a look.

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"The mayor said he still hasn't watched the series."

Right. The most media-obsessed mayor in American history hasn't watched the series that he stars in and that his staff essentially co-produced that was arranged in part by his agent brother and broadcast to the world over the most internationally famous news channel that has ever existed. Not curious in the least as to how it all turned out.

And secondarily, not curious at all over how his city was presented even as he tries to sell its virtues the globe over. Just hasn't fit it in yet. Too busy with Game of Thrones.

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"He praised a Fenger High School principal who emerged as a main character for 'doing incredible things.'"

None of which he's seen, but he's read the reviews.

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"Beyond that, however, Emanuel said only that his spokeswoman already had answered numerous questions about the administration's involvement with Chicagoland."

Oh. Well, from now on we'll just direct all questions to your spokeswoman and never bother you again.

"Ms. Spokeswoman, how is your wife Amy?"

"Ms. Spokeswoman, did this remind you of that time when you were the president's chief of staff?"

"Ms. Spokeswoman, have you talked to your brother Ari lately?"

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"On Friday, the Tribune reported that more than 700 city e-mails showed Emanuel's senior staff working hand in hand with Chicagoland producers to develop storylines, arrange specific camera shots and review drafts of a CNN news release officially announcing the show.

"On Wednesday, Emanuel took reporters' questions for the first time since the Tribune story was published. Asked whether his staff's work with the producers to set up key interactions for the eight-part TV series was appropriate, Emanuel said his communications director, Sarah Hamilton, already had covered the topic.

"Look, Sarah has answered that question tirelessly," Emanuel said. "I think if you look at that, there's a lot of different views, in which (the producers) expressed they didn't get all the cooperation they wanted."

So his defense is that he even screwed his broadcast partners.

Are journalists supposed to cheer that? "Yeah, good for you! Block those motherfuckers!"

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"While Emanuel declined to say whether such conduct by his staff was appropriate, he did say he was glad the series drew attention to Dozier's work at the South Side high school with a history of violence and lagging test scores."

Let me tell you something: It's not about whether the conduct by his staff was appropriate. Of course it wasn't. But his staff doesn't conduct itself that way except at the behest of the mayor. The more pertinent question is about his involvement and what marching orders he gave to his aides.

The more pertinent question is whether he thinks that manipulating an international news agency to present a distorted picture that doesn't align with the facts is the sort of thing a public official should do in America, as opposed to, say, Russia or China or North Korea.

The larger blame (and shame) by far, of course, falls on CNN. But it would be interesting to know what Rahm thinks about his own efforts to damage the integrity of journalism - and if he thinks CNN is deserving of scorn. How would Rahm feel if CNN gave a political opponent of his the kind of treatment it just gave him?

There are many questions to ask Rahm that aren't satisfied by the "tireless" efforts of his press team.

Others:

  • Did you ever talk to your brother Ari about this?
  • Did you ever have personal conversations with any of the producers?
  • When were you first brought this idea, and how was it presented to you?
  • What instructions did you give your staff on how to proceed?
  • Were any of the scenes you were in not orchestrated?
  • What did you not allow CNN to see?
  • Are you disappointed in the ratings?

There's plenty left for us to know.

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Also:

That response makes no sense; it's not CNN that would have to report it, it's Rahm's campaign committee.

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Plus:

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And:

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Previously:
* Tweeting Chicagoland | Episode 1: Oh My Lord, I Hate It Already.

* Cracking The Chicagoland Code 1: Docu-Series Or Docu-Wank?

* Tweeting Chicagoland | Episode 2: Brought To You By Allstate, Billy Dec & The Central Office.

* Cracking The Chicagoland Code 2: Fixing The Facts.

* Tweeting Chicagoland | Episode 3: Get Me Rewrite.

* Cracking The Chicagoland Code 3: Our Fact-Challenged Heroes.

* Tweeting Chicagoland | Episode 4: Did We Mention That Rahm Loves (Black) Kids?

* Cracking The Chicagoland Code 4: LollapaRahmza.

* Tweeting Chicagoland | Episode 5: Back To Black.

* Cracking The Chicagoland Code 5: Yada Yada Yada.

* Tweeting Chicagoland | Episode 6: Building A New Rahm.

* Cracking The Chicagoland Code 6: Unwired.

* Tweeting Chicagoland | Episode 7: Tripling Down.

* Cracking The Chicagoland Code | Epsiode 7: We Don't Care How They Do It In New York.

* Exposing Chicagoland.

* Cracking The Chicagoland Code 8: Ending The Way It Started - In Deceit.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:05 AM | Permalink

Obama Averages 1 Fundraiser Every 5 Days

"Barack Obama has attended 373 fundraisers while president, making it an average of one every five days he's been in office, according to analysis by CBS News.

"He was at a fundraiser when he found out about the Fort Hood shootings, he went to a fundraiser when he attended the Fort Hood memorial service, and he'll attend even more even though he's no longer able to run for president. The Resident discusses."


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See also:
* National Journal: Obama's Real Job: Fundraiser In Chief.

* The Guardian: Obama's Record-Breaking Effort To Tap Wealthy Donors For Cash.

* Petitioning the White House: Reject and Ban Taxpayer or Public Funds, Land or Resources From Being Spent on Private Presidential Libraries.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:42 AM | Permalink

Random Food Report: The Taco Bell Death Star

So Taco Bell has finally caught on to taco & whiskey thing, spinning off a fast casual version of themselves complete with the now-familiar iconography of hipster Mexican.

In other words: Taco Bell Spinoff Explicitly Branded With Death Symbols.

This can't end well.

First, Taco Bell is banking on a trend, not a segment. Trends don't last.

Second, as this feature has constantly harped, there is a long history of failure by companies who don't know themselves and step outside their true brand to be something the are not. That way lies failure. It's like a jock trying to be cool, or a stoner trying to be a jock. Or in this case, a deliciously bad fast food franchise trying to be hip and even a bit more upscale. Don't.

When we think of Taco Bell, we think of making a run for the border. That resonates on multiple levels. Be who you are. Own it. Focus on what you already have - and making it the best damn version of it you can. In other words, think operationally. Sometimes that's the best place to divert your pride.

Dog House For Sale
"The Portillo Restaurant Group Inc., which describes itself as the largest privately owned restaurant company in the Midwest, has hired Piper Jaffray to explore its financial alternatives, including a sale of its fast-casual division," the Wall Street Journal reports.

"The Oak Brook, Ill.-based company's main chain, Portillo's Hot Dogs Inc., operates 38 stores that are decorated to fit themes ranging from the prohibition era through to retro. It traces its roots to a hot dog stand known as 'The Dog House' that opened in 1963 with an $1,100 investment from the company's founder, Richard J. Portillo."

Maybe they should spin off Portacos's.

Chili's Bakery
"In a corner booth this week at a Corner Bakery Cafe in Dallas, the chief executive tasted some of the newest menu offerings: buttermilk pancakes and a roasted pork sandwich with cucumbers and pickled jalapenos," the Dallas Morning News reports.

"Across the room he spotted a new manager who was handing out samples from the chain's staple of sweets.

"She and a new franchisee, who were in Dallas for training this week, will open the first of 10 franchised Corner Bakery Cafes in northeast Florida later this year.

"The additions - new food and new franchisees - form the twin planks of Corner Bakery's growth platform."

Yada, yada, yada.

But here's something I did not know: Corner Bakery (and Maggiano's) is owned by Chili's.

See, that's how Taco Bell should do it, if it feels it must expand; go into a completely different part of the market. Like, Burrito Bell. Or Taco Fish. Or Taco Bakery.

Trench Mouth
"The 3 1/3-pound Banana Split Helmet Sundae introduced by the White Sox this season was designed to be casually eaten by a family of four," DNAinfo Chicago reports.

Because it's DNAinfo and this is news.

"Pat Bertoletti obliterated it in 2 minutes, 53 seconds. Of course Bertoletti, of Pilsen, is no ordinary eater. The Morgan Park Academy and Kendall College graduate is a professional eater who holds the distinction of pounding down 55 Nathan's hot dogs in 10 minutes; 94 Krystal hamburgers in eight minutes; 21 pounds of grits in 10 minutes; 15 1/4 pounds of strawberry shortcake in eight minutes; and 275 pickled jalapeno peppers in an eight-minute stint."

Of course. But how many Taco Bell tacos can he eat in one sitting?

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Bertoletti actually owns Taco in a Bag in West Dundee.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 5:02 AM | Permalink

Local Music Notebook: The Revenge Of The Mekons, The Pogues & Veruca Salt

1. The Revenge of The Revenge of the Mekons.

From the Beachwood vault, September 2013: The Revenge of the Mekons.

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2. "This wasn't supposed to be a eulogy."

From Jessica Hopper's piece for Spin about DJ Rashad and his creative partner, DJ Spinn.

Rashad: [Laughs] Yeah, yeah. Our age group - we were the guys. From that skatin' rink, we started going to all the skatin' rinks. We ended up going to the other rinks, meeting other DJs. And back then, Chicago, with us being young, I started really DJ'ing when I was in sixth grade. I auditioned for KKC, the college radio station; they had a Friday and Saturday night program for kids to play, so I auditioned for Sound Waves and Friday Night Audio and DJ Gant-Man was there, DJ Nehpets, Janet Rush, LaTelle, couple other guys. We were all maybe 11 or 12 at this time; I met Gant from there. I got introduced to Paul Johnson and all these other people that I didn't know they made records, but I knew their records. I got hip to who was who, like DJ Deeon, Milton - my idols. And it took off from there, networking with everyone at KKC.

Spinn: I was listening to them guys DJ'ing and I didn't know it was actually them, and then I was like, "They my age! DJ'ing on KKC!" Y'all the dudes I was listening to.

KKC stands for Kennedy-King College.

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See also: Remembering DJ Rashad.

3. Veruca Salt Is Back And Has A New Video.

4. Steve Albini Calls Online Music Sharing The Best Thing Since Punk Rock.

5. The Pogues In Paperback.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 4:11 AM | Permalink

MUSIC - Christgau Loves Chicago Neonatologist.
TV - Amazon & The Way Of The World.
POLITICS - Yes On Vouchers For After-School Programs.
SPORTS - The Ex-Cub Factor.

BOOKS - Writers Under Surveillance.

PEOPLE PLACES & THINGS - Original Warrior.


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