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« June 2015 | Main | August 2015 »

July 31, 2015

TrackNotes: The Good, Bad, Sad And Suspicious Return Of American Pharoah

Checking the horse racing crawl, as often happens, it's much more than just a great horse returning to the track. We see good, bad, sad and suspicious.

I know it's the Sabbath for a lot of people, but set your DVR to 4 p.m. Sunday, NBC, as our newly minted Triple Crown winner American Pharoah faces seven challenged challengers in the William Hill Haskell Invitational Stakes (Grade 1, 9 furlongs, and more on the $1.75 million purse later) from beautiful Monmouth Park, hard by Springsteen's Asbury Park promised land. You'll see the term "invitational" in the quiz later.

If you are morally torn about the propriety of wagering on Sunday, you could sit it out and just watch, as the road apple on this race is that it will be merely a gallop, a handsomely paid workout, breeze, cakewalk. It certainly looks that way and if 'Pharoah holds any kind of his form, it will be. The East Coast Skillings are calling for a sunny high of 89, but our hero has been training, and training well, at Del Mar, so he should be fine. Oh, and trainer Bob Baffert has won this race seven times - in the money all 11 times - including last year with Bayern and previously with stars such as Point Given and War Emblem, who, at only 16, will soon dominate Mah-Jong at Old Friends Farm.

So you say it's not a bettable race? After 'Pharoah who cares? You tell that to the bronze medal winner in Trampoline in the five-ring circus in Rio next summer. I think bronze could be heavier than gold this Sunday.

Which of his subjects will the 1-5 morning line king see in the paddock?

Upstart, at 6-1, is considered the chief rival. The Holy Bull and Fountain of Youth winner, and runner-up in the Florida Derby, finished last in the Kentucky Derby and hasn't run since. So he's going to have to run to his form from way back in the spring to contend.

Competitive Edge (8-1) won the Hopeful Stakes showcase for two-year-olds last year and looked impressive in the Pat Day Mile Stakes on the Derby undercard. But he looks more like a sprinter, just like his sire, Super Saver, having never run more than a mile.

Keen Ice (12-1), whom you may remember from such races as the Louisiana Derby, Kentucky Derby and Belmont, resurrects, because of his name recognition, the age-old question about the morning line: Is that what his price should be, or the price the bettors will set? He hasn't won since his second race, last September. He was a moot, decent third to 'Pharoah in the Belmont.

There is absolutely nothing in the past performances that tells me any of these can beat American Pharoah.

The suspicion comes in the raising of the purse from $1 million to $1.75 million Wednesday, merely hours before the post position draw.

There are four big races this weekend for three-year-olds: the Curlin Stakes on Friday and the Jim Dandy on Saturday, both at Saratoga; the West Virginia Derby; and the Haskell.

Being an invitational, you have to think the Monmouth people invited at least several of the cream of the crop. But for weeks, the racing world was resigned to a five-horse field for the Haskell, with the old spin that nobody wanted to take on the mighty American Pharoah.

Raise the purse, why not?

Forbes contributor Teresa Genaro explains: "While it's not unusual for purse incentives to be added to big races to attract top horses, those incentives are generally announced weeks, not days, before the race is scheduled to be run, and not the day before the race is scheduled to be drawn, in order for owners and trainers to make decisions about where they will run their horses."

The mass racing media dutifully transcribed this gut buster:

"The Haskell has been called the fourth jewel of the Triple Crown," said Bob Kulina, president of Darby Development LLC, operators of Monmouth Park Racetrack, in a press release. (So has the Travers; and both sparingly.)

"With the Derby purse at $2 million and the Preakness and Belmont going to $1.5 million, it's only fitting that we join in that mix for our race, which has proven itself the next logical step for 3-year-olds following the Triple Crown."

Huh?!

"While a popular, lucrative race that carries Thoroughbred racing's highest ranking - Grade I - the Haskell is seldom, if ever, discussed in terms of the Triple Crown," Genaro confirmed.

Sending a Triple Crown race runner to Monmouth is one thing, but it has never seen a Triple Crown winner. Derby-Preakness winner War Emblem won in 2002, but other than that, the best horse to win the Haskell is probably Rachel Alexandra in 2009. A hobbled Big Brown won it in 2010.

On the other hand, winners of the Jim Dandy have included luminaries Palace Malice, Street Sense, Bernardini, Flower Alley, Medalgia d'Oro, Awesome Again and 1978's Triple Crown hero Affirmed.

But the money outlay worked. Upstart and Competitive Edge, both cross-entered in the Jim Dandy, decided to go south to Monmouth. Todd Pletcher, a veteran of the Eastern Seaboard turnpikes, did his part by sending - along with 'Edge - Nonna's Boy and Dontbetwithbruno.

Preakness runner-up Tale of Verve trainer Dallas Stewart was probably a lot more miffed than the quotes portray. He said he would have sent 'Verve to Monmouth, but for him the purse increase was made too late. 'Pharoah's charter touched down in Lexington, but took off again before Stewart knew of the extra Monmouth moolah.

"It's an invitational but they never notified the invitees," he said.

One somewhat unusual aspect here is that the total purse was raised. It will now be $1.1 million to the winner, $330,000 to Place, and $150,000 for Show. A straight appearance-fee bribe would have been so unseemly. Owner Ahmed Zayat and Baffert each personally get a $75,000 bonus at Monmouth, $25,000 for each of the Triple Crown wins. The m.o. must be that American Pharoah is so sure to win, there's his appearance fee. But if he doesn't fire . . .

Let your imagination run wild. Was Monmouth so worried about appearances of a five-horse field that might have scratched down to four or three? Did Monmouth rig the race through its invitation process to get 'Pharoah a Haskell win? Did 'Pharoah make the layover in Lexington in order to make sure the squeeze was on? Is Zayat on a slippery slope, greased by greenbacks, as we look past the Haskell to his next race?

The money is bleeding out of the walls.

Canterbury Downs in Shakopee, Minnesota, offered a $2 million purse for 'Pharoah to run in its Mystic Lake Derby, even offering to take it off the turf for him, according to the New York Times' Joe Drape.

"(Dennis) Drazin (an adviser to Darby Development, the management company that operates Monmouth Park for the New Jersey Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association) said he tried to persuade Parx executives - as well as those at the New York Racing Association, and Del Mar and Santa Anita in California - to guarantee a $5 million bonus if American Pharoah swept the Haskell, the Breeders' Cup Classic and either the Travers Stakes, the Pennsylvania Derby or the Pacific Classic," Drape reported.

Drape added "Drazin said that he had told Baffert that Monmouth would create a $1 million race for American Pharoah here in September on the date and at the distance Baffert, a Hall of Fame trainer, specifies for the Triple Crown champ."

Hey, Secretariat ran for the money, once, right here at Arlington Park in the Arlington Invitational, but not before stopping at Saratoga first for the famous Onion upset in the Whitney Handicap. The Marlboro Cup was invented for him in 1973, but before tobacco sponsorship became taboo and helped end the race, superstars Forego, Seattle Slew, Spectacular Bid and greats Winter's Tale and Slew o' Gold also won that race. Secretariat finished out at Belmont twice and at Canada's racing jewel, Woodbine. Affirmed ran as a four-year-old and if you want to see a legacy, you can look it up.

I'll say this now, before the Haskell. If American Pharoah keeps dancing this way as expected, all the money in the world is not worth him running at Parx in the Pennsylvania Derby. It's a cheap, casino-pomaded track of the Monday- and Tuesday-night variety that was successful in flashing the cash last year to California Chrome, who was beaten by Baffert's Bayern. Parx? It's called Parx Casino, with horse racing only a menu item behind the homepage of its website.

It will be a very serious demerit for Zayat and Baffert if they never visit Saratoga to run in the Travers on August 29, or, if there's a problem there, at Belmont in the Jockey Club Gold Cup on October 3. Then they finish out at perhaps America's greatest racetrack, Keeneland, in the Breeders Cup' Classic.

My guess is that 'Pharoah's connections will think the Travers is too far out from the Breeders' Cup and the Gold Cup is too close. I'd even take the September 26 Awesome Again Stakes at Santa Anita, nine furlongs, three and up. So pump up the smallish $300,000 purse. Anything but Parx!

Saturday Specials
But before Sunday's racing church service, it should be a great Saturday too.

Saratoga runs the Alfred G. Vanderbilt and Amsterdam Stakes sprints, the 11-furlong test of the Bowling Green, and the Jim Dandy, which will feature Japan, Texas Red and Frosted.

The West Virginia Derby (GII, 9 furlongs, $750,000) from Mountaineer will feature Tale of Verve, Stanford, Tommy Macho, War Story and Madefromlucky.

You'll find these two in the sports package, but if your TVG is not hi-def, look around. The Fox regionals often pick up the feed. Keep an eye on scratches because of the musical chairs between the three tracks.

Evil, Inc.
When a corporation is as evil as Churchill Downs Inc., you must cease to be amazed at the depravity.

CDI has announced that it will be tearing down the grandstand at what is now called Calder Casino & Race Course - the priorities are in the name - and will be erecting tents on the grounds to accommodate its patrons. Ever see a late-afternoon, sideways mini-hurricane during the races there?

With track officials saying the teardown "will not affect the adjacent casino building or other non-attached racing structures (praise the lord for that!)" it comes just months after CDI, in a move perhaps inspired by the Daley-Meigs Field blitzkrieg, fenced off access to several barns and then demolished them earlier this year. All for good old-fashioned "development opportunities."

CDI owns Calder. Horse racing has become so distasteful to its new, greedily fashioned culture, that it gave up on racing all together and leased the horse operations to The Stronach Group, once hated rivals, who own and operate racing at nearby Gulfstream Park.

Consistency is a key for the nefarious, and CDI is focused.

The New York Off-Track Betting Corporations have decided to end its carrying of the Churchill Downs simulcast signal and bet-taking because of exorbitant demand for rights fee increases from CDI.

Besides a blatant effort to get New York State players to perhaps go online to wager, hopefully to the monopolistically ambitious TwinSpires.com owned by CDI, it's also a pure money grab. You know, maximize every revenue opportunity of what is a marquee event in all of American sports, the Kentucky Derby. Just like the Cubs and the Ricketts crew.

CDI's Luca Brasis have been regular callers at the shop door of the NYOTB.

"In exchange for the rights to simulcast the 2014 Kentucky Derby, CDI demanded non-negotiable rate increases totaling 29 percent over 2013. In 2015 CDI further threatened that New York State OTBs would lose the right to simulcast the Kentucky Derby if their demanded rates, which violated New York State statute, were not met," the Daily News reported.

"The actions of CDI constitute nothing less than extortion," said Western OTB President Michael Kane. "CDI's rate increases are outrageous and outside the boundaries of industry standards."

NYOTB said that with the combination of the the payouts it has to make to various faction in the industry, and the forwarding of tax revenues to municipalities and other governing bodies, CDI's demands simply cannot fit its economic structure.

CDI is on the march. Realize it, understand it and know that the dominoes are falling and the not-so-shadowy menace already occupies our suburban shores. And as monolithic threats often do, where sanctuary within the corporation shields the individuals, it must and will assert itself, only following the orders of Wall Street of course. It knows not its past, and cares only of a future built on the hypnosis of spinning fruit, aqueous-coated cards and tiny plastic cubes. It cannot last, at least not as long as what put them on this earth.

IT has no problem turning its back on its own bedrock. Such as 13 of the 15 jockeys in the first Kentucky Derby, won by Oliver Lewis, being African-American, although probably being considered less than that and given the "chore" to ride the races and becoming some of the best jockeys this world has ever known. As good as any, even today, until somebody planted the notion that blacks do not belong in any major sport.

Look at Alonzo Clayton, or Isaac Murphy, or Jimmy Winkfield, who was huzzahed and hailed around the world, including Russia, but not here after sentiment turned and his usefulness was deemed evaporated.

Arlington Park still functions as a racetrack only because Richard L. Duchossois still draws breath. But the signs are there. While the racing might be a notch above Parx, the signs of not-so-benign neglect and rank exploitation abound.

AP needs a new main track, lifespan, if not book-cooking amortization of the PolyTrack already come and gone. It is squeezing its fans at a regular rate through higher ticket prices, fees, the fleecing through "special packages" on the couple of "premium days" it has, including watching and betting the Derby on TV(!) at Arlington.

CDI is holding out for slots - I can only imagine how much grease it has slathered in Springfield - touting the idea that racing will be back, better then ever with them.

Don't be naive. The evidence is there, and it's not circumstantial. Hollywood Park, leveled. Calder, soon to be leveled. Lackadaisical (at best) attention paid to Fair Grounds.

It'll take what, 15-25 years, tops, for Churchill Downs Inc. to destroy what took, pick your date, 125 years to build in Kentucky and beyond?

It's just one of the things evil does.

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

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:01 PM | Permalink

The Week In Chicago Rock

You shoulda been there.

1. "Tiny Dancer" from Almost Famous at Millennium Park for "Sound Opinions: At The Movies" on Tuesday night.

You are home. (But the crowd could've done better than that.)

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2. Viet Cong at the Virgin Hotel on Thursday night.

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3. St. Paul and the Broken Bones at Thalia Hall for a pre-Lollapalooza after-show on Thursday night.

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4. Mutemath at the Double Door for a pre-Lollapalooza after-party on Thursday night.

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5. Lissie at Lincoln Hall on Tuesday night.

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6. Paper Mice at the Emporium on Wednesday night.

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7. Colin Stetson at Schubas on Tuesday night.

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8. Dick Dale at Reggies on Wednesday night.

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9. Snow Tha Product at Bottom Lounge on Wednesday night.

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10. Smoking Popes at the Elbo Room on Thursday night.

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11. Laura Marling at Lincoln Hall on Wednesday night.

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12. Johnny Flynn at Lincoln Hall on Wednesday night.

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13. Bryan Adams on Northerly Island on Saturday night.

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14. 50 Cent at the Shrine on Thursday night.

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15. Shania Twain in Rosemont on Wednesday night.

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16. Delbert McClinton at City Winery on Wednesday night.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 5:54 PM | Permalink

The [Friday] Papers

"Mayor Rahm Emanuel on Thursday would not provide a full financial picture of his administration's deal to redevelop the Malcolm X College site into a Blackhawks practice center and a Rush University expansion," the Tribune reports.

Welcome to Chicago: Quod tibi necesse erit FOIA - you'll have to FOIA that.

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"As part of the musical chairs on the Near West Side, City Colleges of Chicago will move into a new $251 million campus for Malcolm X on a parcel just north of the college's current site. When that project is completed in January, Emanuel said the city will take steps to start redeveloping the 11-acre campus on West Van Buren Street for the Blackhawks and Rush.

"The city would pay to tear down the old Malcolm X buildings and prepare the site for construction. The Blackhawks will purchase four acres for its practice facility, while Rush would buy the remaining seven acres."

Here's where it gets interesting:

"Asked what the Blackhawks would pay for the land, Emanuel responded: 'They're going to be paying market rate . . . Our job as the city will be making the land available, which means taking down the old Malcolm X.'"

But just two paragraphs later:

"Emanuel also was asked whether the Blackhawks would get a discount on the purchase price for the land in exchange for making its rinks available to the public.

"They'll have all the information on that," Emanuel said of his staff. "Know that it will be a net gain for the city from a financial standpoint, not even counting what they're doing in the sense of community work."

So what did the mayor just say?

He said the Blackhawks would pay market rate for the land it will purchase from the city. And then he refused to say the Blackhawks would pay market rate for the land it will purchase from the city. I tend to go with the latter because A) this is Chicago; B) it's Rahm Emanuel, and; C) while dodging the question, Rahm was quite eager to advise reporters that, no matter what, the deal will be a net financial gain for the city.

In fact, that became something of a mantra for Rahm on Thursday - or at least a talking point he was eager to reinforce.

"When the mayor was asked how much it would cost to tear down the old college, he responded, 'We'll get you all that information. Know that the net result will be resources that come back to the city, because when you're done with the demolition of the facility, (with the Blackhawks) paying market rate, there will be additional resources for the city.'"

Just know that the net result will be more bullshit than you started with.

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Reporters were directed to get financial details from "staff." Here's what happened when at least one of them tried:

"Later, however, Emanuel spokeswoman Elizabeth Langsdorf declined to say how much the demolition work would cost the city. And Langsdorf declined to say how much the site preparation would cost because bids had not gone out yet. She declined to provide an estimate."

That's not entirely implausible: The city could have said to the Blackhawks, Hey, we'll pay for the demolition, and left it at that. Or it could have figured out its costs the way any smart negotiator would and put it on the table while discussing the deal. Even if bids haven't gone out yet on the demolition, businesses generally know what that sort of thing takes.

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And then back to market rate again:

"Langsdorf also would not disclose how much Rush and the Blackhawks will pay for the land, other than to say it would 'exceed market value with a mix of cash and community benefits.' Langsdorf would not identify the specific community benefits or their value."

Which sounds just like the sort of deal the mayor was asked about: A discount on the land in exchange for the community rink the Blackhawks are building alongside their practice rink. Which in effect means the city is building the community rink.

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"'Nothing is being hidden,' Langsdorf said. 'The final paperwork isn't done. As soon as the purchase agreement is finalized, the details will be made available. No one is rushing anything.'"

Hey, who said anything about rushing?!

But yeah, the details are rarely made available in this administration. At least Langsdorf gave the Tribune its headline.

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"Ald. Walter Burnett Jr., 27th, said this was not the first parcel the Blackhawks considered for the facility and that the team had been persistent about striking a deal.

"Wirtz and Bulls owner Jerry Reinsdorf, whose teams jointly own the United Center, previously had talked about building a $100 million entertainment and retail complex next to the arena, but sought a replacement for current tax incentives set to expire in 2016. When the city didn't agree to such a change, the teams pursued a more modest office complex plan near the stadium."

Punks.

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"There also has been talk of the teams seeking a guaranteed freeze in the city's amusement tax on sports tickets in exchange for future development by the teams. Wirtz said Thursday that such a freeze was not discussed as part of the deal to build the Blackhawks practice center."

Good. As long as he didn't receive the "private assurances" he was seeking, which he may not consider part of the discussion per se.

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Am I being too skeptical? Well, here's how oft-mayoral flunky Fran Spielman wrote it up for the Sun-Times:

"Mayor Rahm Emanuel on Thursday basked in the glow of an agreement to bring a $50 million Blackhawks practice facility and new academic buildings for Rush University Medical Center to the site of the old Malcolm X College without saying what the deal would cost Chicago taxpayers."

That's the lead.

My guess is that the truth will slowly leak out over the next couple of years until Ben Joravsky puts it all together and we just shake our heads.

And this isn't even a very complicated deal. And it's also pretty cool; who doesn't want a community ice rink next to the Blackhawks' facilities? But can they make the community ice rink a neighborhood school, and fully fund it?

*

"Chicago taxpayers will be asked to foot the bill for demolishing the building and preparing the site for construction. But the mayor did not put a price tag on those items either.

"There is no public support, financial support for this endeavor," Emanuel said.

Depends on how you define "public support."

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"Pressed on how much it would cost to demolish the site and do environmental clean-up, the mayor said, 'We'll get you all of that information. But know that the net result will be resources that will come back to the city.'"

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"We went to the mayor, I don't know, seems like several years ago," Wirtz said. "I don't think it was quite that long. And we said we want to do something really special on the West Side."

How special? This special:

"At one point during the sometimes contentious negotiations, Wirtz privately sought assurances from Emanuel of an amusement tax freeze."

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"The revenue package tied to the mayor's 2015 budget counted on raising an additional $4.4 million by forcing the owners of skyboxes at Soldier Field, Wrigley Field, the United Center and U.S. Cellular Field to pay the city's 9 percent amusement tax instead of getting a 40 percent break. Asked Thursday if he got that assurance, Wirtz said, 'We never even discussed it.'"

Instead, Rahm just winked and Rocky just nudged.

(Which, by the way, is enough to convict for extortion, according to the appellate court ruling in the Blago case.)

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Note: After leading her article with Rahm not willing to tell us how much this venture will cost taxpayers, Spielman ends with praise for his hardball negotiating tactics.

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"When it came to building a new practice facility for the Blackhawks, Rocky Wirtz could have stopped with plans that called for the installation of one sheet of ice for his team's use," Chris Kuc writes for the Tribune. "Instead, the chairman of the Stanley Cup champions had a much grander vision."

Oh please. My understanding - and I could be wrong - is that the Blackhawks originally wanted a $25 million practice facility subsidized by taxpayers and with an assurance that amusement taxes would be capped. If my understanding is correct, the community rink was added (doubling the cost of the project) as a way to sell the deal by adding a "community benefit." I'm not saying that was the wrong thing to do; it's a pretty cool thing to do. But it was done in the service of meeting the Blackhawks' objective, not because a community ice rink was a city priority.

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Greg Hinz with the backstory for Crain's:

More than a year ago, Hawks owner Rocky Wirtz floated plans to build a practice facility and neighborhood ice rink east of the United Center, near where UC co-owner Jerry Reinsdorf's Chicago Bulls just put up their own practice center. Emanuel, who like all politicians loves a winner, immediately signed on.

But they had a problem. The parking lots on which the facility would be built aren't controlled by the city or Wirtz but by private owners who didn't want to sell - and some of who reportedly use as their tax lawyer John Cullerton. That's the same John Cullerton who is president of the Illinois Senate and a key Emanuel ally in trying to get critical state aid out of a stalemated Springfield.

For many months now, city officials have been trying to put together a deal to assemble the parking lots and make them available to Wirtz. Emanuel would ask and ask and ask, city officials would try and try and try, and nothing would happen. Some of the lots were part of family businesses that had been operating for generations, one insider tells me. "They just didn't want to sell."

Suddenly, after the Hawks won their third championship in six years, someone had a brainstorm. With Malcolm X's old building soon to be empty, and just two blocks away from the UC, why not put the hockey facility there?

That someone who had the brainstorm must not be named Rahm Emanuel or we'd be hearing all about it.

*

"Shazzam! A little City Hall magic occurred, and in a month, a deal was done. And believe it or not, sources on both sides swear that Wirtz's request for a halt to further increases in the city amusement tax is not part of the deal. At least not officially."

Wink, wink, nudge, nudge.

*

Hinz makes two additional points I haven't seen elsewhere:

"The hockey facility will be good for Chicago, even if a nice and reusable building will be demolished in the process. So will an expansion of the Rush complex. But two things still need resolving:

"Meanwhile, it's really too bad that a not-too-old Malcolm X structure that could have been put to other uses is being demolished. And, someone please condemn and buy out those parking lots, which are killing needed development near the UC."

*

Lastly, don't forget the Rush University part of the deal:

"Rush University Medical Center is considering building a state-of-the-art medical school and student housing on the site of Malcolm X College, creating an educational hub for its students and faculty," Crain's reports.

"Rush's ideas for the Malcolm X site were born out of strategic planning the medical center is doing for its Near West Side campus, which is quickly filling up. It's looking at everything from where to put a new outpatient medical building to more space for research."

So they don't even know what they're doing with the land yet?

"Nothing is final, and he said it's too soon to say how much the plans could cost. But they likely would be expensive."

And will public money be involved?

"[CEO Larry] Goodman and a spokeswoman for Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel would not say how much Rush could potentially pay for the land.

"'Rush and the city are finalizing the deal points on the purchase agreement now, which will primarily be cash, but there is a commitment to exceed the appraised market value with a mixture of cash and community benefits,' City Hall spokeswoman Elizabeth Langsdorf said in an e-mail."

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Previously: Rocky Wirtz oughta be ashamed of himself.

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Beachwood Photo Booth: Book Window
Don't touch da books.

EPK For Media Covering Blago
It's all about telling stories.

Paid Influencer Opportunity!
We have some great executions we would love to work with you on that your readers and followers would love.

New Polish Books For Summer
A boredom murder, a naive altruist, unacknowledged fears and a wandering coffee grinder.

The Week In Chicago Rock
Is in production Featuring: "Tiny Dancer" From Almost Famous at Millennium Park, Viet Cong, St. Paul and the Broken Bones, Mutemath, Lissie, Paper Mice, Colin Stetson, Dick Dale, Snow Tha Product, Smoking Popes, Laura Marling, Johnny Flynn, Bryan Adams, 50 Cent, Shania Twain, and Delbert McClinton.

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BeachBook
* Music Festivals: Peace, Love And A Business Battle.

* Almost 6 Acres Of Land Added Near Fullerton Avenue Beach.

* Prominent Logan Square Wall Gets New Look.

* Frankie Knuckles Mural Under Attack.

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TweetWood
A sampling.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: By any means necessary.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:21 AM | Permalink

Beachwood Photo Booth: Book Window

Don't touch da books.

bookswindowaptetcbw.jpg(ENLARGE FOR PROPER VIEWING; CLICK TWICE, EVEN BETTER)

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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.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Signpost.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Old Man And The Tree.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Street Fleet.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Citgo Story.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Fantasy Hair Design.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Garage.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Clark Stop.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Pole Position.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Window Dressing.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Geometry.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Found Love.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Fill In The Blank.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Vacuums Of The Night.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Dumpster Still Life.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Wagon Master.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Intersecting West Rogers Park.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Penn-Dutchman Antiques.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Cow Patrol.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Backstage Chicago.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Skully Bungalow.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Francisco Frankenstein.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Long Cool Heat.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Smokers' Mast.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Big Fat Phone.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Happy Day.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Alley Men.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Holiday Show!
* Beachwood Photo Booth: You've Got Mailbox.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Broken Window Theory.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Dali Logan.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Svengoolie.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Horner Park Hot Dogs.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Cubs Rehab.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: 20th Century Schizoid Man.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Men On Vans.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Penn-Dutchman Is Done.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Snowy Lincoln.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Waiting Room.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Avondale Chicken.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Winter's End.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: The Friendly Skies.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Boyhood Buzzer Beater.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: J Date.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: International Window Lady.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Shanghai Inn.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Open For Business.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Andersonville Unplugged.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: 3-Flat.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Evanston Turkey.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicagolandia.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Eat At Odge's.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Deitch Pharmacy.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Sud-Z Bubble.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Bands Wanted!
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Belmont Tavern.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Superheroic San Luis Freeze.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Evanston Oasis.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Lyndale Food & Jewelry.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Lincoln Tap.

-

Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 3:47 AM | Permalink

EPK* For Media Covering Blago

Hi Steve,

This is Tyler Ragghianti, and I'm part of the media team at The Publicity Agency (www.thepublicityagency.com) working with Rod Blagojevich, his family and his legal team. We've been with the former governor a long time - since 2009 and Glenn Selig has been working with the former governor since his last days as governor.

As there will be various developments over the coming weeks and months, I wanted you to be aware of the webpage we've created to keep you and others in the media informed. The Blagojevich Appeal page is where you'll find the latest updated information, press releases, contacts and other important information. Please feel free to bookmark this page for easy reference.

Because you received this e-mail, you are already on the media list. If you know of colleagues who wish to be added to the media list for all media alerts, bulletins and press releases, please send an e-mail to media@thepublicityagency.com with the subject line: "Add to Blagojevich Media List." (If you received this and you want off this list, we apologize. Please respond REMOVE to this email. )

If you have any questions, please let me know. Or, of course, you may also contact Glenn Selig at The Publicity Agency. He may be reached at (888) 399-5534 or on his cell (813) 300-5454 or via e-mail glenn@seligmultimedia.com.

Thank you,
Tyler

Tyler Ragghianti
Project Manager
PR NewsChannel / The Publicity Agency / Selig Multimedia, Inc.
Email: tyler@seligmultimedia.com
Phone: (813) 708-1220 x7780
3903 Northdale Blvd.
Suite 150 West
Tampa, Florida 33624

Websites:

www.PRNewsChannel.com
www.ThePublicityAgency.com
www.SeligMultimedia.com

-

See also:
* Blago Ruling Indicts Media.
* Tyler Ragghianti on LinkedIn.
* Why Brand Journalism Makes For Great PR.

-

* Electronic Press Kit.

-

Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:20 AM | Permalink

New Polish Books For Summer

Looking for a taste of Polish writing to tide you over in the dog days of summer? Check out these recent Polish books by some of Poland's greatest writers.

killing_auntie_digital.jpgKilling Auntie
by Andrzej Bursa
translated by Wiesiek Powaga
New Vessel Press, 2015

When Jurek, a young student, kills his doting aunt out of boredom, he faces a host of problems as he tries to dispose of the body. This dark comedy featuring nearsighted relatives, false-toothed grandmothers, meat grinders and lovemaking lynxes sheds a caustic light on how a whole society gets caught up in disposing of dear old Auntie.

*

boleslaw.jpgEmancipated Women
by Boleslaw Prus
translated by Stephanie Kraft
Self-published, 2015

The first translation into English of this classic of Polish literature, Emancipated Women by Boleslaw Prus (1847-1912) tells the story of Magdalena Brzeska, a naive altruist trying to make her way in 19th century Polish society. Though written over a hundred years ago, the book is startlingly relevant, with a charming, sprightly writing style that makes it ideal for a modern reader.

*

theworldshared_bookstoresmaller_1.jpgThe World Shared
by Dariusz Sosnicki
translated by Piotr Florczyk and Boris Drayluk.
BOA Editions, 2014

This bilingual edition is the first collection by this prolific and celebrated Polish poet and critic available in English. Sosnicki's surreal, dream-like poems speak to our suppressed, unacknowledged fears about contemporary life, his style evoking writers such as John Ashbery, Jorie Graham and Bill Nott.

*

TCM_max.jpgThe Coffee Mill
by Konstanty Ildefons Galczynski
translated by Antonia Lloyd-Jones
Festina Lente, 2015

A classic children's fairy-tale by the legendary poet, playwright and humorist Konstanty Ildefons Galczynski. The Coffee Mill is the story of a coffee grinder thrown away by its owners, Mikolaj and Celina, that goes wandering through Earth and outer space, trying to find where it belongs. Translated for the first time by Antonia Lloyd-Jones.

-

See also:
* The Polish Cultural Institute New York.

* The Polish Cultural Institute In Chicago.

-

Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:10 AM | Permalink

July 30, 2015

Paid Influencer Opp: The Flaming Lips, Patti LaBelle, Kings of Leon + Josh Groban To Appear On New Ovation Show

Hi -

I hope this e-mail finds you well. I'm excited to share some news about a new project we're working on!

New Ovation show, On The Record With Mick Rock, follows legendary rock-and-roll photographer Mick Rock as he visits the hometowns of musicians Josh Groban, Patti LaBelle, Kings of Leon, and The Flaming Lips.

The conversations that ensue are candid, unconventional, and shed light on the unknown stories behind an album cover, record release or tour. On The Record With Mick Rock premieres Sunday, August 2nd at 8 p.m. ET.

In support of the upcoming premiere, I wanted to reach out to you with an exciting opportunity to be an ambassador for the show. We have some great executions we would love to work with you on that your readers and followers would love. We can promote your tweets, Facebook posts, or blog on Ovation's social channels with paid support.

Please let me know your interest at your earliest convenience, as we'd like for content to go live by the end of the week. My sincere apologies - I know this is short notice, but we think you would be such a great fit for this campaign and would really love to work with you.

-

See also:
* CarrieCourogen.com.
* Why Brands Should Pay Influencers.
* If You Are Thinking About Paying Your Influencers . . . Stop.
* Paid Influencers Undercut Ads On Pinterest.

-

Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:24 PM | Permalink

The [Thursday] Papers

"Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel will announce Thursday the city has come to an agreement with the Blackhawks for the team to build its new practice facility and community ice center on the site currently occupied by Malcolm X College, which is just south of the United Center," the Tribune reports.

Missing from the article: Is taxpayer money involved?

*

"The cost of the project was not immediately announced, though sources close to the mayor and [team owner Rocky] Wirtz said earlier this year that a 105,000 square-foot facility would have a cost in the neighborhood of $50 million," Danny Ecker reports for Crain's.

"Also not announced yet is the location and cost of a parking garage for the building, which Wirtz has said would be a key to moving forward with the project.

Oy.

"Terms of the Blackhawks' deal with the city were not disclosed, but Wirtz has long pushed for incentives from the city in return for further development in the blighted area near the arena."

Uh-oh.

"Most notably, he has asked for a commitment from Emanuel to not raise the city's 9 percent amusement tax, which is among the highest in the nation."

Love ya, Rocky, but you should in no way be in charge of the city's tax policy.

"The announcement of the new facility also comes less than a week after Wirtz and United Center co-owner Jerry Reinsdorf released an economic impact study they commissioned to quantify what the privately financed arena has paid in taxes during its 20 years of existence and what it has done to improve its surrounding neighborhood."

I knew there had to be an ill motive behind commissioning and releasing a bullshit economic impact study.

Also, I thought I just read that the neighborhood was so blighted Wirtz wanted incentives to build his practice facility there. But the report says the neighborhood has blossomed because of the United Center. Which is it?

And, you shouldn't get points for paying your taxes. Is that something we should be grateful for?

Besides, we paid those taxes. Costs always come back to the fans.

But I'm sure the media will be totally behind this project, because it's not like poor Rocky could afford to build his damn practice rink himself. The city kind of has other financial needs right now. But great PR for Rahm - and you can bet Rocky will do everything in his power to keep the mayor in office.

*

"For the Blackhawks, the new facility stands to be a moneymaker through rentals to youth and other hockey leagues."

Then why do they need public money?

*

"The team also stands to get a financial windfall from selling naming rights to the new building. Their fellow United Center tenant, the Chicago Bulls, opened a new practice facility east of the arena last year after selling naming rights to the building to Advocate Health Care for an estimated $1 million per year."

Then why do they need public money?

*

Question for Rocky: Do you feel even the slightest bit of shame demanding taxpayer subsidies when our schools are eliminating sports programs - and special education teachers - to meet budgets?

*

Now here comes the (predictable) story telling us why we should feel sorry for the Blackhawks, from Sun-Times beat writer Mark Lazerus:

"While the Bulls spent the past season practicing at the spacious, state-of-the-art Advocate Center, enjoying two courts, state-of-the-art weight rooms and workout facilities, expansive locker rooms and top-tier training facilities - all right next door to the United Center - the Blackhawks crammed into a cramped locker room at bare-bones Johnny's IceHouse West, a mile down the road on Madison Street."

Let me tell you something, Mark: This city's kids are crammed into bare-bones schoolrooms where the only thing state-of-the-art is the bullshit coming out of the Central Office.

*

"Providing a facility that can support youth hockey was a key facet of the project for Hawks owner Rocky Wirtz."

More like, providing a facility that can theoretically support youth hockey was a key PR facet of the project.

*

"Last year, the Sun-Times reported that Wirtz was 'reluctant' to green-light a practice facility - then planned to be about 70,000 square feet on the current site of Lot E, just northeast of the United Center - unless Cook County and the city agreed not to hike the amusement tax, which was at 12 percent. Wirtz has voiced his concerns over the amusement tax several times."

But I thought the new facility was all about the community?

*

I'd like to link to the story from last year that Lazerus references, but it doesn't appear to exist anymore.

I did find this January article from Fran Spielman. Note the tone and framing:

Though neither the office building nor the Blackhawks' practice facility is contingent on a property tax break or on the amusement tax freeze that Wirtz floated last year, he is counting on the city to help assemble the land.

First, it appears that maybe the deal was contingent on the amusement tax freeze! I guess we'll see for sure today.

Second, Wirtz is counting on the city to help assemble the land. What does that mean? Condemning properties? Displacing people/businesses? Is it really the city's job to do that for him? And then to throw in tax subsidies as well? Let business be business and government be government! Mixing the two is the very definition of fascism, though we think of that word as simply meaning authoritarian.

Of course, these sorts of deals are so de rigueur that journalists rarely challenge their very existence - just the Potemkin details.

Back to Spielman:

After forcing the Cubs to bankroll a $375 million renovation of Wrigley Field at their own expense with an influx of outfield sign revenue, Emanuel said he was not about to extend the property tax break granted to the United Center at a time when the Bulls and Blackhawks were "pioneers" on the Near West Side.

The city forced the Cubs, an immensely profitable private corporation (belonging to a socialist organization protected by immunity from antitrust laws) owned by one of America's wealthiest families, to spend their own money renovating a property they bought with their eyes wide open. And just to be clearer, the family isn't even spending their own money on the renovation; they're spending the money of their fans, adjusted for three seasons of losing on purpose while desecrating the golden goose and baseball temple that is/was Wrigley Field by plastering ads on every last blade of grass and ruining the best vista in sports - or maybe anywhere - with a Jumbotron or two.

But no, Rahm Emanuel, our hero, was not about to extend a benefit to the owners of the Cubs that was extended to the immensely wealthy owners of the Bulls and Blackhawks because the Cubs owners were not "pioneers" in the way that the Bulls and Blackhawks were, engaging in a courageous, selfless mission of building on the Near West Side with absolutely no benefit to themselves, outside of their money machines in a moat, and what the city granted in tax breaks that it would not grant the Cubs. Because of the Cubs' owners political beliefs.

*

"The mayor also took a political beating for his proposal to use $55 million in tax-increment-financing (TIF) money to build a DePaul basketball arena near McCormick Place that will double as an 'event center.' The financing was subsequently rearranged to use TIF money to acquire land for a hotel."

It's all through the frame of the mayor. Poor guy took "a political beating."

*

"To avoid a similar controversy in the middle of a mayoral campaign, the United Center tax break will now be allowed to expire in 2016."

So it was a campaign move. Or did Spielman just make that up in a theoretically objective news story? And does that mean the tax break will reappear now that the campaign is over?

*

"Like Wrigley Field, we're not giving tax assistance," the mayor said. "These are good, private-sector investments. We'll make an investment in improving the Blue Line. We'll make an investment in improving Malcolm X's campus. And because of those other investments, they have the confidence to make their own investment."

That statement appears to now be inoperative. Will reporters remember?

*

"Emanuel didn't miss a beat when asked whether an entertainment complex wasn't better than an office building.

"Three years ago, you weren't talking about a training center. There's now a new [Bulls] training center without tax assistance. . . . There'll be other training centers," he said."

Emanuel didn't miss a beat. He also didn't answer the question. Give them the old razzle-dazzle - they'll never catch wise.

*

Now let's look at that economic development study (three words that should make every journalist blanch).

First, the headlines, almost all like this: Study Shows Big Economic Benefits Of United Center, Plus Impact On Near West Side.

More truthful: Bulls, Blackhawks Begin PR Campaign For Tax Breaks.

Now, the coverage:

"If you went to an event at the United Center in 2014, the average price you paid for a ticket, about $98, was only a small part of your fiscal impact on the city and state, and benefit to the Near West Side," the Sun-Times reported.

"Of the 2.6 million people who attended a Bulls or Blackhawks game, concert or other event, according to a study commissioned by United Center ownership, you also spent an average of nearly $36 on transportation and parking, $54 in restaurants or bars, $16 for lodging and $32 in other retail shopping."

You know what that tells me? Only rich people go to Bulls and Blackhawks games.

*

"Visitor spending is not the only benefit to Chicago, Cook County or the state of Illinois from the UC, which opened its doors in August 1994 at a privately funded cost of $175 million.

"The venue supports about 21,000 jobs per year, including the Blackhawks and Bulls, and various other events, the study shows. About 12,500 of those jobs are supported directly by the spending of visitors to events at the venue."

So? The Blackhawks and Bulls are immensely profitable organizations. You know where their revenue comes from? Overcharged fans. I don't feel the need to be grateful.

"Overall, it generates about $2 billion annually in economic activity and more than $1 billion in labor-related activity, according to the study."

I'm so tired of typing this, but every journalist ought to know a few years into their career that these kinds of estimates never hold up to scrutiny and are, in effect, simply made up.

Sadly, most reporters write up the press release without vetting the actual study. And most editors let them.

"It also paid about $35 million in state, county and city taxes (amusement, operating, sales and real estate) in 2013, a total that has risen 257 percent since the opening year, and reached over $334 million over the building's lifespan.

"The study also estimates that the economic activity created by the UC generates another $115 million a year in tax revenues."

This is supposed to impress us, but should it? You should (almost) never cite statistics without citing a standard or baseline to compare them to. In this case, we have no idea how that compares to other businesses; we're just supposed to be awed by the numbers standing alone. Further, it would be interesting to note all of the tax benefits the owners of the United Center - Reinsdorf and Wirtz - receive from the taxpayers before congratulating them on their civic largesse. To wit.

(And how much tax avoidance are they doing on their personal filings? How much revenue goes untaxed because it is shifted to other businesses, like Rocky's liquor distributorship?)

As you read through the rest of the Sun-Times account, note that there is not a single source outside of the "study." Neither Reinsdorf or Wirtz is there to answer questions; not a single economist is quoted. I can tell you that Allen Sanderson, one of the nation's leading authorities on these matters, is very accessible!

*

The Tribune used the report as a jumping off point to examine life on the ground around the United Center. The report, in fact, isn't even mentioned until the fifth paragraph.

"Hawks Chairman Rocky Wirtz and Bulls Chairman Jerry Reinsdorf, who together co-chair the group that operates the United Center, sent Mayor Rahm Emanuel and other city and state officials a report titled The Economic Impact of United Center, touting the arena as a job and opportunity creator. The report, compiled by accounting firm KPMG, had been in the works for more than a year, and it was released publicly to coincide with Wirtz's appearance before the Chicago Tribune Editorial Board."

I doubt it takes more than a year for a crack firm like KPMG to put together a report like this. More like it was released publicly to coincide with Wirtz's appearance before the Chicago Tribune Editorial Board.

Even that isn't entirely accurate. It's not so much that the report was released to coincide with an editorial board appearance - typical Tribune self-importance - but that the report and the editorial board appearance (which apparently you can get just by asking for one, if you're one of the city's chosen) were coordinated as part of a PR campaign to maximize media exploitation.

"There was no hidden motive behind the report, Wirtz's representatives said. It is meant to underscore the value of the arena to the city and the surrounding community, which the report says generates $2 billion in economic activity annually."

No hidden motive. We just decided to do it!

(Greg Hinz in Crain's:

("The owners of the United Center today released a glitzy report contending that the facility generates more than $2 billion a year in economic activity and pays $34 million annually in taxes.

("They insisted that they had no ulterior motive - even though the 97-page, four-color document was delivered to every elected official in city and Cook County government, as well as the Illinois General Assembly.")

*

Back to the Trib:

When fans came to the neighborhood 25 years ago, Wirtz said, "being a blighted area might have been an understatement. No one talks today of going to the United Center and talking about your safety." Today, Wirtz said, families bring their children to games, free of concerns.

Again, that's great for people going to games now, but that doesn't mean the lives of those displaced have changed for the better.

"Those in the community tend to agree that the neighborhood is on the upswing but said the trickle-down effect of hockey success has its limits. Gone are the liquor stores and grimy fast-food restaurants that populated the area around the old Chicago Stadium, before the United Center was completed with private money in 1994.

"A new sports apparel shop has opened near the area, and the corner of Madison and Ashland and Ogden avenues has seen a resurgence. Madison and Damen Avenue, however, are still a far cry from business meccas."

Agreed. The "renaissance" indeed is more limited than the impression given. Madison was basically paved in gold in an westerly direction until the United Center - an effort openly made by the formerly awesome Mayor Richard M. Daley in preparation for the 1996 Democratic National Convention. Beyond that, not so much.

"To John Spence, the longtime custodian and member at Greater Union Baptist Church, on West Warren Boulevard nearly in the United Center's shadow, the biggest difference is the trash and discarded beer bottles on the ground outside."

Meaning there is more of it now due to sports fans or less of it now due to . . . gentrification?

The success of the city's hockey team is generally good for the neighborhood, and many church members in the nearly all-black congregation who previously didn't pay attention to hockey now sport Hawks gear, Spence and the Rev. Willie Morris Jr. said. But what's good for the United Center - more parking lots, more restaurants catering to suburban fans, luxury accommodations for millionaire players and owners - isn't necessarily a good thing for the neighborhood, they said.

Morris is resistant to the prospect of more bars, or any establishment that serves alcohol, coming to the area, especially in the coveted corner across the street from his church. There needs to be a balance, he said, between business development in the area that caters to sports fans and what is in the best interests of the residents who live and worship there year-round.

Thank you. The Tribune actually visited the neighborhood in question and talked to people.

"What the neighborhood needs, Spence said, are more service-oriented businesses like laundromats or cleaners that benefit residents going about their daily lives."

Neighborhoods where people live have different needs than neighborhoods that become entertainment destinations. I watched that happen in Wicker Park as laundromats and hardware stores were replaced by restaurants and bars and more restaurants and bars.

Mike Quinlan, who lives a few blocks from the United Center, said aside from a few shops, the Hawks' winning ways haven't had much of an impact.

"The target market isn't the surrounding neighborhood," Quinlan said, "it's regionally based."

And income based.

*

"And with public transportation access to the area spotty - the nearest 'L' stop to the United Center is three-quarters of a mile away - Spence said 'it's designed for you to come to the United Center, then you get in your car and you go home.'"

Just like the Cell.

"The Hawks and Bulls tried to change that. But a proposed 'entertainment district,' like those found near sports arenas in cities like St. Louis and Detroit, never got off the ground. Plans were scaled back to include the emerging office complex, scheduled for completion in a year and a half, and an atrium for fans."

The aforementioned. The Trib fails to mention that the Hawks and Bulls wanted tax breaks (during an election year) to build such a district. Still, a better answer is to build a better neighborhood with residents in mind first. But the very structure of the United Center (like the Cell) isn't designed for that.

"In the report released Thursday, Wirtz and Reinsdorf said the United Center supports 21,000 jobs each year and in 2013 paid $35 million in city, Cook County and Illinois taxes. The arena, they said, generates about $115 million in additional tax revenue for the city, county and state.

Wirtz said a new practice facility would be used sparingly by the Hawks, who usually practice only a few times a week during the season when the team is not on the road. The remainder of the time it could be used by community members.

"'For all intents and purposes, it's a community rink that the Hawks will occasionally practice at,' Wirtz said."

Love ya, Rocky, and I love the idea of a community rink, but don't try to make it sound like you're doing everyone a favor.

*

One element too often missing in these stories is the deep well of research (beware the mythical multiplier!) showing that tax subsidies for stadiums, arenas and other sports facilities (as well as events like the Olympics and, well, draft towns) are not only not worth it, but huge losses for taxpayers. Chicago journalists in particular should have some expertise in this area, given that the world's foremost experts in it live here.

It's a story that could have been told in almost any American city over the past two decades. Owners of teams in the "big four" sports leagues - the NFL, MLB, NBA and NHL - have reaped nearly $20 billion in taxpayer subsidies for new homes since 1990. And for just as long, fans, urban planners and economists have argued that building facilities for private sports teams is a massive waste of public money. As University of Chicago economist Allen Sanderson memorably put it, "If you want to inject money into the local economy, it would be better to drop it from a helicopter than invest it in a new ballpark."

Studies demonstrating pro sports stadiums' slight economic impact go back to 1984, the year Lake Forest College economist Robert Baade examined thirty cities that had recently constructed new facilities. His finding: in twenty-seven of them, there had been no measurable economic impact; in the other three, economic activity appeared to have decreased. Dozens of economists have replicated Baade's findings, and revealed similar results for what the sports industry calls "mega-events": Olympics, Super Bowls, NCAA tournaments and the like. (In one study of six Super Bowls, University of South Florida economist Phil Porter found "no measurable impact on spending," which he attributed to the "crowding out" effect of nonfootball tourists steering clear of town during game week.)

What will it take for this reality to sink in?

*

I couldn't find a copy of the actual study on the Web. I'd like to vet the fuck out of it.

But the graphs supplied in this Crain's article are sorely lacking in context. A business publication should know better.

Take Figure 7: Amusement Tax.

Of course the arena is paying more in amusement taxes today than it 10 years ago; prices at the arena have skyrocketed, while the Blackhawks have packed in more fans. (The biggest jump coincides with the current Stanley Cup run by the Hawks.) Also, does this report include events such as concerts and so on? Have those increased? What the graph doesn't show is if the tax burden has increased - and even if it has, it has for everyone. Because the city was busy selling its parking meters and train stations to nowhere. Somebody's got to make up the difference.

To reporter Danny Ecker's credit, he notes: "The Blackhawks' amusement tax payments have skyrocketed along with the team's ticket prices, which went up by more than 33 percent during the period measured in the KPMG report. The average price of Hawks tickets next year will have gone up by 80 percent since 2009."

Figure 9 shows the real estate taxes are just about the same as 10 years ago. Lucky ducks.

Sales taxes? See amusement taxes.

Total tax history? See sales taxes.

My guess is the UC has gotten off easy.

For example:

"Reinsdorf and Wirtz enjoy a cap on the building's property taxes granted when the owners agreed to finance construction of the arena out of their own pockets more than two decades ago. The incentive allows deductions of income taxes, maintenance costs and mortgage interests."

*

"In what a spokesman for the owners deems purely a 'statement of fact' after 20 years of operating the building - and not an effort to bargain for future tax breaks - the UC commissioned consulting and accounting firm KPMG to put together a study measuring the arena's economic impact on the city."

Look, we know that's a lie. We don't need to keep repeating it. In fact, I would ask that spokesperson if they would swear to that statement under oath just to shut him up.

*

"Forbes recently published its annual list of the most valuable sports franchises in the world, and Chicago teams were well represented in the top 50," Rick Morrissey recently noted for the Sun-Times (link not available because this story too appears to have been disappeared.)

"The Bulls ranked 14th at $2 billion, the Cubs 17th at $1.8 billion and the Bears 20th at $1.7 billion. The Blackhawks and the White Sox didn't make the cut, but I wouldn't cry for Hawks owner Rocky Wirtz, whose family reportedly is worth $4.4 billion, or Sox chairman Jerry Reinsdorf, who also controls the Bulls."

Here's the Forbes link.

*

I wasn't able to determine this morning if Wirtz and Reinsdorf have donated money to Rahm Emanuel's campaigns. In other words, I came up empty, which surprised me. Either they didn't, or I missed it.

*

Finally, why do public officials spend taxpayer money so eagerly on stadiums, arenas, sporting events and so on? First, because it makes them popular with people who don't know any better - like rabid fans. Second, because they want to attend sporting events in new facilities. Third, because they want to be popular with sports owners and athletes. Fourth, because life is like high school, and the jocks always get what they want while everyone else sacrifices at their altar. Fifth, because the media laps it up, too.

-

Comments:

1. From Tom Chambers:

On a minor note, I wonder if the "primitive," cramped conditions at Johnny's Ice House helped create and maintain the Blackhawks' team camaraderie. It was the same boo-hoo for the Cubs players facilities. As for the restaurants and bars near United Center, bunched on Daley's Madison Street, they must be like farmers. Watching their sales and receipts in a big-picture kind of way because of the roller coaster of business of nights with UC events and "dark days" of no UC events. I know, I go over there from time to time. A player lockout or dip in attendance would be like a drought or locusts to some of those places.

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Exclusive: Trumps Puts Lion Killer On Short List
"John McCain probably doesn't even own a bow and arrow."

In California League, Computer Calls Balls And Strikes
Next: Sending the calls direct to your smartwatch.

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BeachBook
* First Taco Bell To Sell Alcohol Agrees To Have Bouncers.

In Wicker Park.

* Royals Players Fine Each Other For Not Using Fetty Wap References In Interviews.

* Wicker Park Shell Gas Station Owner Wants To Build Hotel On Site.

* New From The Onion Media Empire, Edge: Uncaged, Unaccountable, Fucked Up.

* Noam Chomsky On Illinois Pensions:

"So you remember in 2008, when the whole economy was crashing, we could have gone into a huge depression, mostly because of the banks and their corruption and so on. But there was one huge insurance company, AIG, the biggest international insurance company, which was collapsing. If they would have collapsed, they would have brought down with them Goldman Sachs and a whole bunch of big investment firms, so the government wouldn't let them collapse.

"So they were bailed out, a huge bailout. And it was really malfeasance, if not criminality, on their part that led to all of this, but they were bailed out, and Timothy Geithner had to keep the economy going. Right after that, right at that time, the executives of AIG got huge bonuses. That really didn't look good, so there was some publicity about it, bad publicity. But Larry Summers, the former secretary of treasury, a big economist, said, you have to honor the contracts. And the contract said that these guys have to get a bonus.

"Right at that same time, the state of Illinois was going bankrupt, it claimed. And so they had to stop paying pensions to teachers. Well, you didn't have to honor that contract. So yeah, for the gangsters at AIG who practically brought the economy down, you got to honor that contract, because they got to get their multimillion dollar stock options. But for the teachers who already paid for the pensions, you don't have to honor that one."

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TweetWood
A sampling.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Dead or alive.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:47 AM | Permalink

In California League, Computer Calls Balls And Strikes

"No blaming or booing the umpire for a questionable called third strike at a Northern California independent league. A computer will call balls and strikes as the home plate umpire handles all of his other regular duties."


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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:31 AM | Permalink

Exclusive: Trump Puts Lion Killer On VP Short List

Donald Trump is seriously considering asking Dr. Walter J. Palmer, lion killer, to join him as running mate even before the 2016 primaries begin, a source wishing to remain anonymous to avoid embarrassment by association says.

"Donald is looking for a man with true courage," the source says. "He was impressed by Doc Palmer's trip to the Dark Continent, where he bagged Zimbabwe's most notorious killer with only a bow and arrow."

Trump is said to have told his closest advisers that "This lion guy is an authentic hero, unlike John McCain. McCain probably doesn't even own a bow and arrow. And all the other Republican candidates are losers. I wouldn't want any of them on my ticket. I want winners who can bring me the head of a wild beast on a platter."

Meanwhile, Republican opposition researchers were working feverishly to connect Palmer's visit to Zimbabwe to the Benghazi scandal, seeing as how both are located in Africa.

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Ed Hammer is a retired police captain and author of the book One Hundred Percent Guilty. He can be reached through his website.

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Previously by Ed Hammer:
* George Ryan's Park Bench
* George Ryan's Dogs and Ponies
* George Ryan's Other Jailhouse Interview
* Bugging The Chicago School Board
* Cop vs. Teacher
* Signs of Change
* Pols vs. Teachers
* The Terre Haute Redemption
* Rahm's War On Teachers
* About Those Indicted Nurses
* Body Language Bingo: A Guide To Watching The Presidential Debates
* George Ryan's Day Of Independence
* The Ironic George Ryan.
* George Ryan Is Unrepentant.
* Must Like Puppies.
* ILGov2014: The George Ryan Connection.

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See also: Honoring A True Illinois Hero.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:39 AM | Permalink

July 29, 2015

Your Chief Keef Hologram Reader

You know what's funny? When I wrote Mayor Rahm vs. Chief Keef a week ago, there was hardly a peep. But now that the hick Hammond police force has done essentially the same thing as Rahm, the pundits are outraged. Let's take a look at the coverage.

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"Whether or not cutting the power to the Chief Keef portion of Saturday's Craze Fest was a direct violation of anyone's First Amendment rights hinges solely on the contract Hammond and the promoter signed, legal experts say," the Tribune Co.'s Gary newspaper reports.

Well, two legal experts say. Two legal experts who aren't familiar at all with, um, the contract.

"Steve Sersic, attorney for the Hammond Port Authority, which oversees the Wolf Lake Pavilion, described the contract between Craze Fest promoters and the city 'as a license agreement that provides the city can revoke the license at any time for any reason, or no reason at all.'"

Wow, that's some contract. Who would sign that?

"The contract also has an addendum that says the promoter must follow safety directives issued by the Hammond police, fire or any other emergency management services.

"It didn't enumerate Chief Keef specifically, nor any of the performers, Sersic said Tuesday. But since the directive was given after the contract was signed that Chief Keef wasn't to perform, the promoters ended up losing their license, he said.

"It doesn't matter if the directive came a week before, a day before or an hour before - they were told not to play Chief Keef, but they did," Sersic said. "Not only that, but they said they wouldn't, so they're actually doubly in breach of the contract."

Show me that contract! Seriously. Hasn't anyone FOIA'd it yet?

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The same reporter - via city officials -described the contract differently in a previous article:

"Craze Fest promoters can be upset with the city of Hammond all they want, but Mayor Thomas McDermott Jr. said they had the right to pull the plug on rapper Chief Keef's hologram performance Saturday night.

"McDermott said Sunday the contract promoters signed with the city allows it to approve all acts who perform on Wolf Lake Pavilion stage."

Aha. So city officials approved this.

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"I know nothing about Chief Keef," McDermott told the New York Times.

Glad to know you made an informed decision.

"All I'd heard was he has a lot of songs about gangs and shooting people - a history that's anti-cop, pro-gang and pro-drug use. He's been basically outlawed in Chicago, and we're not going to let you circumvent Mayor Emanuel by going next door."

Rahm Emanuel is now the nation's Minister of Culture.

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"[R]egardless of who is in the right in the eyes of the law this entire episode feels like a big win for Keef - or at the very least a publicity coup," Leor Galil writes for the Reader.

"The story's gone national, with Keef becoming a symbol for free speech activists in the process, and it's easy to see him staying in the spotlight, at least as long as the rapper and his camp push the hologram issue with no sign of the mayor's office relenting. That might not last longer than a couple weeks, but a couple weeks is more than enough time to give a boost to Keef's latest project. His forthcoming album, Bang 3, is due to come out August 18 on FilmOn TV and MondoTunes, which signed Keef to a $2.5 million deal for two albums. Greek billionaire Alki David owns a majority stake in MondoTunes and nabbed Keef the deal; David also founded Hologram USA, which has been behind Keef's aborted virtual performances."

In other words, Rahm may have done Keef a big favor!

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"So in a month that, so far, has seen 274 Chicagoans shot, 45 fatally, Mayor Rahm Emanuel snapped into action and blocked a hologram appearance by rapper Chief Keef because he worried it might be dangerous?" Neil Steinberg writes for the Sun-Times.

First, that's a typical month of violence, is it not?

Second, well, yes.

I disagree - vehemently - with Emanuel, but it's not difficult to follow his logic: A hologram of Keef could be seen as dangerous if it incites violence among warring posses.

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"'An unacceptable role model,' in the words of a mayoral representative.'

"That's a joke, right?"

No, this column is a joke. Look, that was a stupid thing for anyone in City Hall to say - and I bet whoever it was wishes they could take that one back and keep the focus on public safety. But this is just as stupid:

"The mayor is now vetting the role models for black youth in Chicago."

Not just for black youth. Most rap is bought by white kids - like those who live in Steinberg's leafy Northbrook suburb.

As the aforementioned Galil wrote, "While Keef has reentered the public consciousness in a big way, he never lost his grip on rap fans, for whom he supplied a steady stream of stylistically scattershot mixtapes and singles. And Keef's still making hits: most recently his 2014 track 'Faneto' grew into an underground phenomenon that spurned countless remixes. His voice isn't quite everywhere, but it still feels somewhat present - I heard at least one DJ drop Kanye's remix of 'I Don't Like' at Pitchfork Music Festival."

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Speaking of role models, by the way.

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"Yes, Keef, who once upon a time went by Keith Cozart, is vile," Steinberg continues, "his persona an image of black manhood as crafted by the Klan, his songs soporific, a bunch of gyrating toughs flashing guns and wads of cash while flinging their fingers around."

Sigh.

1. Yes, his given name is Keith Cozart. Like no one else in show business has a stage name or invented persona.

2. I find Rahm Emanuel, Neil's biking buddy, to be vile. I find Keef to be an artistic product of his environment to whom attention must be paid. After all, the environment he's a product of is an environment created by Rahm and the rest of this nation's greedy, power-hungry elite.

3. Seeing Keef's manhood as a KKK-like image of black manhood says more about Steinberg than Keef or the KKK.

4. Soporific? Not all of Keef's songs are winners, but they hardly induce sleep. Notice that the link merely goes to Chief Keef's YouTube page - not a particular song.

5. Gyrating toughs and wads of cash - have you never seen a rap video before?

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(David Drake, echoing Galil, writes in the Tribune:

("In the early days of the Chief Keef media hype - back around the time of Kanye West remixes and his emergence on the national scene - many were dismissive of his music, suggesting that the attention he'd drawn was more about what he represented to outsiders than the work itself. For many onlookers, the idea of Keef probably did mean a lot more than the actual music. But there were those who listened and heard something there.

("One was funk legend George Clinton, who talked about the rapper's breakthrough record 'I Don't Like' in terms of his own song 'Get Off Your Ass and Jam' in a 2013 interview with VladTV.com.

("But more than his gift for a good hook, Keef had a preternaturally strong rapper's voice, at once laid-back in the manner of his idol, Atlanta rapper Gucci Mane, but with a more dynamic delivery that popped effortlessly from the speakers.")

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"The mayor's office said a Keef concert 'posed a public safety risk.' So does the St. Patrick's Day Parade. So does traffic. So does Lollapalooza, but that's a bunch of white kids, so the risk is acceptable."

True, though the mayor would argue that the risk of those other events is far less than that of a gang shootout breaking out. The real answer is how unlikely that is to have happened - and that, yes, even then certain risks are acceptable in a democracy.

"Everything is a public safety risk. All the oppressions of Communist China are done in the name of security, protests and concerts and books banned because they might disturb domestic harmony. Given that the Chicago police kill more civilians than any other big city force in the country, I'd say a little musical pushback is to be expected."

Now that last line is a line I like - except that, just to be factual, Chicago police are fourth when it comes to killing civilians. I know it's not as sexy to ignore the per capita figures, as most of the Chicago media has for years when it comes to crime stats, but it's the accurate, truthful and journalistic thing to do.

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"You want to know the worst part of this? This elevates Chief Keef, a flash-in-the-pan with cognac dribbling down his chin like pablum."

I think Galil has answered the flash-in-the-pan charge, but even if that was true, it's hardly the worst part of this. Rahm Emanuel and Hammond officials are the worst of it.

"I never had a charitable thought about Keef before."

Nor he you!

"Not exactly the brightest bulb, Keef was the guy tweeting photos of himself smoking an enormous blunt in what was clearly his Northbrook home while simultaneously claiming not to be living there."

Gee, what a dummy! What's next - smoking pot on the roof of the White House?

"And now he's Patrick Henry."

Keef is no more elevated into Patrick Henry than the Nazis were elevated into Thomas Jefferson after rightly being allowed to march in Skokie. Everyone still knows who everyone is.

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"Anyone going to a Chief Keef concert at least has to be aware of the chance of trouble."

Has there ever been?

Also, don't go to Jason Aldean shows.

"Why doesn't the mayor help kids whose only risky behavior is sitting in their bedroom when the bullets come through the wall?"

1. Why don't you ask him on your next bike ride?

2. And yet, you endorsed him.

3. The way to protect kids sitting in their bedroom when bullets come through the wall is to understand the likes of Chief Keef.

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I can't believe I'm doing this, but I'm going to recommend Mark Konkol's column on DNAinfo Chicago as an antidote to Steinberg in gaining a fuller understanding of who Keef is.

To wit:

Take a closer look and you'll find that Chief Keef, who documents his life from a California mansion with a pool and tropical flowers on Instagram and Twitter, doesn't seem to be wrapped up in the thuggish life he left behind in Chicago anymore.

Rather than posting pictures of his gang-member pals pointing semi-automatic pistols, Chief Keef now shows off his impressive arsenal of paint ball guns - and short videos of him in action on paint ball battlefields - that have become his new hobby. He told Boombox.com that pop star Justin Bieber recently challenged him to a paintball war.

Chief Keef also posts pictures of his son Krue Karter and daughter Kay Kash, who has her own Instagram account. On Friday, Chief Keef endorsed a fancy $1,000 baby stroller you might find at a Roscoe Village Starbucks.

Go read the whole thing.

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Now let's get back to the legal to and fro.

"Councilman Anthony Higgs, D-3rd, who has been outspoken regarding race relations in the city, said Monday if the contract indicated Chief Keef couldn't perform at Craze Fest, its promoters were wrong to allow the hologram of the rapper to be shown," the Tribune's Gary paper reports in yet another article.

"He's aware that much of the rapper's music glorifies violence, and he said no one in the city administration would approve it being brought in."

If you're gonna ban every artist who "glorifies" violence, your gonna ban acts from a whole lot of genres. After all, Johnny Cash shot a man in Reno just to watch him die.

But here's the killer:

Higgs gets the impression, however, that Chief Keef, whose real name is Keith Cozart, could be trying to change his message to one that fosters peace. And if that's the case, people should give him a chance to be heard.

"I could be wrong, but I think he's trying, and he's doing it in the way he knows how - through his concerts. And if he is, we shouldn't eliminate him from the process," Higgs said. "None of us are perfect, so I think Father (Michael) Pfleger (of St. Sabina Church in Chicago's Auburn Gresham neighborhood) and the ministers in Chicago should give him a chance. It's only fair.

Just not in Hammond.

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"As well, the contract 'preserves the right to refuse lewd or indecent performances,' but what happened with Chief Keef didn't fall under that description, but one of safety, police said Saturday.

"With recent violence associated with (Chief Keef), the police thought showing the hologram had the potential to incite violence," Sersic said. "The perspective was that if there was any reasonable chance of even one person getting injured, why expose anyone to it? Plus, with like-minded acts the whole day, there was no intention to suppress any sort of speech. It was completely a safety issue."

The potential to incite violence doesn't stand a First Amendment test, as we shall see. Plus, like-minded acts the whole day hurts your case, not helps it.

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"Even Chief Keef has rights," Eric Zorn writes for the Tribune.

"He's a rapper from the Englewood neighborhood who glorifies guns, gangs and illegal drugs. He's had numerous run-ins with the law and is considered a toxic element of our culture by establishment people like me."

Ugh, who would ever identify themselves as an establishment person? You're the enemy! Especially of (real) journalists.

But Zorn is right.

He infuriates. He baffles. He frightens. So let me put it another way: Especially Chief Keef has rights.

The First Amendment guarantee of freedom of expression protects the infuriating, the baffling and the frightening from the impulses of those who'd silence them if they could.

That guarantee is why the Ku Klux Klan and other hate groups can obtain permits to march and rally in provocative locales. It's why you're never more than a few clicks away online from misogynist, racist, seditious yet perfectly legal claptrap.

It's so obvious as to be maddening.

"The courts have consistently held that the government can't shut down a speaker because they think he's merely dangerous," said Martin Redish, a constitutional expert at Northwestern University School of Law. In this context, "speech can be suppressed only if it advocates imminent violent behavior and is deemed likely under the circumstances to lead to such behavior," he said.

Okay, fine, but what about that (yet to be seen) contract?

"[Y]es, concert promoters violated the letter of their agreement not to allow a performance by an artist not on their contract. But the purpose of enforcing that provision under these circumstances was purely to deny a platform to a particular rapper whose material is similar to the material of other artists. Therefore, Hammond flagrantly trampled on Chief Keef's rights by quickly disabling his hologram and sending fans home early."

Even if the contract says the city needs no reason to cancel a performance? My thinking is that the contract itself may not be constitutional: Could the city cancel a performance because they don't want a black or gay artist performing, given that they supposedly don't even need a reason?

[The ACLU's Ken] Falk pointed to the emphatic opinion in Collin v. Chicago Park District, a 1972 federal court ruling upholding the right of the National Socialist Party of America (Nazis) to rally in Marquette Park. The park district had blocked the event based on a previous Nazi rally in Gage Park that "led to a public commotion (that) could have led to a riot or breach of the peace."

But the court concluded that "under none of the constitutionally permissible tests for prior restraints based on violence can the denial of a permit to plaintiff be upheld."

Is Hammond's contract the equivalent of a permit? I would think so.

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Whet Moser, writing for Chicago, notes that Cicero and Harvey banned Keef a year ago. And Chicago's history, also noted in part by Steinberg, is hardly clean on the matter.

"Chicago specifically has gotten away with killing a concert to 'prevent a breach of the peace.' You may have read a recent piece in the Tribune about how a huge 1970 music festival in Grant Park, featuring Sly and the Family Stone - 45 years ago today - turned into a riot that injured 162 people, mostly police officers. It led to the preemptive cancellation of six rock concerts - just on the basis of them being rock concerts."

That was upheld by the district court here, but commenter Samuel Henderson writes:

"This is some good and timely analysis, but it seems a little strange to put a district court case up against a Supreme Court one. Are there really no appellate cases that have upheld a city canceling a concert based on - well, whatever it is that Hammond based its actions on?"

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Side note: I dig the way Chicago notes a change in its post. Check it out. Though I also like this solution for more extensive edits:

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Also, not government, but . . .

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Finally, Eugene Volokh's analysis for the Washington Post is getting a lot of attenton. Volokh writes:

"Nor does any change in the playlist justify the police shutting down the event, when the objection to the change was the inclusion of someone whose viewpoint the city disapproves of."

But has he seen the contract?

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Bonus commentary:

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It's really depressing that lessons are seemingly never learned. We've been through this before - over and over. We read books about it in high school. We lived through the Tipper Gore hearings. Judas Priest was sued for allegedly inciting suicide. There are whole genres of white supremacy music. There is also "Sweet Home Alabama." There was Public Enemy. Jim Morrison. NWA. "Brown Sugar."

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People upset with Keef's lyrics sure don't listen to a lot of music.

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P.S.:

Memo to the media: He's not fucking running for mayor. Christ.

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Previously in Chief Keef:

* South Side 16-Year-Old Gets Shot, Blows Up.

* Rhymefest Vs. Chief Keef.

* Chief Keef's Deadly Rap War.

* More Shit Chief Keef Don't Like.

* Chief Keef Loves Soda, Ain't White.

* Chief Keef: Baller Of Confusion.

* Free Chief Keef!

* Save Chief Keef.

* Chief Keef: Psychedrillic.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:48 AM | Permalink

Fantasy Fix: Your 2015 NFL Top 20!

It's an exciting week in the fantasy baseball world, as the looming trade deadline means that several players are changing their uniforms and possibly their fantasy fortunes.

However, it's also a critical week for fantasy football, with a handful of NFL training camps already open and the rest set to start in the next couple of days.

For those of you who want to hear about how much more fantasy value SP Johnny Cueto has after leaving Cincinnati, please skip to the end of this column. If you're more interested in Matt Forte's fantasy value, let's begin:

1. Adrian Peterson, RB, MIN.

It's true that the RBs ranked tops overall last season all took a step back, but don't let that obscure the likelihood that A.P. is poised to have his best season. Healthy and with a lot to prove, he returns to an offense still built around him - and improving.

2. Eddie Lacy, RB, GB.

Everyone assumed last year that he could easily run for 1,500 yards after getting 1,178 his rookie year in 2013. He ended up with 1,139, but his use in the passing game increased from 257 yards receiving to 427 yards. Good chance to be a 1,400/600 man this year.

3. Jamaal Charles, RB, KC.

1,033 yards rushing, 291 yards receiving and 14 TDs last season, but we all expected more from the consensus No. 1 overall pick. KC needs to use him in the passing game, so a rebound looks likely.

4. LeVeon Bell, RB, PIT.

Arguably the No. 1 overall talent, but he'll miss four games under a drug suspension. He's so good that, even given a 12-game slate, he's still in the top five. Pitt's scary good offense will have him running, receiving and scoring often.

5. Marshawn Lynch, RB, SEA.

The aging beast was nothing short of amazing last season. QB Russell Wilson has new toys to play with in the passing game, but maybe that helps Lynch's ground game. Could easily have another season of 1,300 yards rushing and 15+ TDs.

6. Antonio Brown, WR, PIT.

Remember that scary Steelers offense? Brown is another reason why. Led the NFL with 129 receptions and 1,698 yards receiving. Experts scoffed at his 110 catches in 2013, and figured him for a drop-off last year, but it's now clear he's the next WR superstar.

7. Rob Gronkowski, TE, NE.

He's possibly bat-shit crazy, but not in a way that hurts his game, gets him suspended or leaves his team hating him. If QB Tom Brady remains suspended for four games, it will hurt, but he's still almost the best receiver in the NFL and is the best TE by a mile.

8. Odell Beckham, Jr., WR, NYG.

His highlight reel precedes him. Despite missing the first few games, he caught 91 passes last year for 1,305 yards and 12 TDs - as a rookie. Seems to have helped QB Eli Manning rebound from a horrible slump, so a bigger season awaits.

9. Matt Forte, RB, CHI.

Made an argument for No. 1 overall last year, but that was before the wheels fell off the Bears bandwagon. Still, 808 yards receiving were second to Bell among RBs, and 102 catches were second to none. A few more touches could give him top five value.

10. Dez Bryant, WR, DAL.

At times last year, he caught and scored seemingly at will. Led all WRs with 16 TDs and every other metric increased - except receptions, down from 93 to 88. Loss of DeMarco Murray in running game could mean more passes - and tighter coverage schemes.

11. Demaryius Thomas, WR, DEN.

Second to Brown in both receptions and receiving yards last year, with a more than respectable 11 TDs. Seems like he should be higher, but a budding running game and aging QB may limit his potential to out-do himself.

12. Julio Jones, WR, ATL.

Huge talent, but the Falcons' offense sputtered badly last year. His 1,593 yards came with only six TDs - a few more scores puts him in the top 10 overall. Don't be surprised if he wins the yardage crown this season, but needs TDs to take the next step.

13. DeMarco Murray, RB, PHI.

The Eagles are an enigma from top to bottom, starting with the head coach, who could use Murray as a running/receiving workhorse or just as a decoy for his no-huddle hijinks. Still, Murray's league-leading 1,854 yards last year are hard to ignore.

14. Andrew Luck, QB, IND.

Luck has gaudy stats - 4,761 yards passing and 40 pass TDs both led the league last year - and almost certainly will step up in the yardage department. Does off-season acquisition WR Andre Johnson have enough left in the tank to help Luck to a few more TDs?

15. Jeremy Hill, RB, CIN.

Maybe a bit under the radar despite a strong rookie year: 1,124 yadrs rushing, 215 receiving yards. Most interesting stat is 5.1 average yards per carry. We're betting he gets a lot more touches this season than the 222 rush attempts and 32 pass targets of 2014.

16. Aaron Rodgers, QB, GB.

Best QB in the NFL is too good to achieve maximum fantasy potential. He never throws INTs - 38 TDs to five INTS last year - and GB's offense is so efficient that he never gets the chance for 400-500 yard games that other QBs get while making up for mistakes.

17. Arian Foster, RB, HOU.

Still a fantastic dual threat running and receiving, and the Texans may lean on him this year, so 1,200 yards rushing, 500 yards receiving and 12-15 total TDs is doable. The limiting factor is an offense that is still a sputtering mess, and he can't take the ball every snap.

18. Jordy Nelson, WR, GB.

Perennially underrated big-play machine had a career-best 1,519 yards last year and tied for second-best in catch TDs with 13. Making him the sixth WR in the top 20 mostly shows how good the first five are.

19. Alshon Jeffery, WR, CHI.

Might be giving him a little bit of a hometown bump here, but he's unquestionably the No. 1 WR in town now. Given that, 1,133 receiving yards and 10 TDs last year should be easy marks to surpass this year, even if the Bears stay conservative.

20. Calvin Johnson, WR, DET.

The mighty have fallen, mostly because the Lions offense got conservative and relied less on Megatron's wing span last year. Still, hard to imagine he can't improve on last year's 1,077 receiving yards and eight measly TDs.

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Fantasy Baseball Update
Quick hits from Trade Week, baseball's version of Shark Week:

* Johnny Cueto, SP, traded from CIN to KC: The Royals are being seen as the big winner of the week already, but Cueto may prove the biggest winner, as KC's offense arguably is good enough that a guy with a 2.62 ERA and 0.93 WHIP shouldn't lose again this season.

* Ben Zobrist, 2B/SS/OF, traded from OAK to KC: He really didn't have any fantasy relevancy this year, except for maybe his .801 OPS, but if he plays every day he'll no doubt see his stats rise as part of the Royals' pinball offense.

* Troy Tulowitzki, SS, traded from COL to TOR: I don't really see much of a stat change - he went from one prolific offense to another, can feast on AL pitching and play home games in a HR-friendly park, but he just left the ultimate hitters' park. Long-term, his injury-prone nature seems a bad match with an artificial surface, but DHing is always an option.

* Jonathan Papelbon, RP, traded from PHI to WAS: Maybe the hardest one to figure so far, because the assumption is Papelbon automatically moves from being closer for a last place team to closer for a firs place team. But Drew Storen, RP, WAS has been awesome, with 29 saves, 12 more than Papelbon. Either Storen's fantasy value just plunged, or he and Papelbon will be the most impressive closer committee ever, which actually limits the fantasy value of both.

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

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 3:29 AM | Permalink

The [Wednesday] Papers

What do Will Burns and the Hammond police chief have in common?

They both want to control other people's art.

"South Side alderman's effort to tweak filmmaker Spike Lee for using 'Chi-raq' as the title for a movie about Chicago violence fell flat Monday with his colleagues," the Tribune reports.

"Ald. Will Burns, 4th, was pushing a symbolic resolution urging the state to reject Lee's application for $3 million in tax breaks for filming in the city."

Sort of like Lee is making a symbolic movie about violence in Chicago. It's all just theater.

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He should make a movie called Willraq next, just out of spite.

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"Burns said the movie's title - based on a rapper slang term used to evoke the violence in predominantly African-American neighborhoods - could harm attempts to promote economic development on the South Side."

I love how the Tribune feels the need to explain, at this late date, what the term "Chiraq" means. Also, we're a long way from "Chiraq" being rapper slang; at this point it's worldwide pundit slang.

But I digress: the film might harm attempts to promote economic development on the South Side? Because it will tell business interests something they don't already know?

I'll tell you what's harming economic development on the South Side: the total lack of any meaningful plan coming out of Rahm Emanuel's office.

Also: I'd love to hear Burns' big ideas.

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"But before the issue even came up at the City Council Finance Committee, Burns opted not to call his resolution for a vote, saying instead that his only goal was to give residents a chance to speak out."

Riiiiiiight. Because without a symbolic city council resolution that most people never knew existed, residents wouldn't have had a chance to speak out. No one had said a word before Burns' resolution!

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Let us now pause to consider Will Burns:

"Yes, I have friendly relations with the mayor. He respects how hard I work, my interest in policy, my willingness to work with everybody. If you're going to pass a bill in the House, you talk to speaker Madigan; in the City Council, you talk to the mayor. Yes, I have conversations with the mayor; the best negotiations are done behind closed doors."

Okay, first, Burns is hardly known as a hard worker. Apparently he refers to his work with ASGK as his "real job."

Second, if you are a member of the Illinois House and you want to pass a bill, yes, you would naturally speak to the House leader. The mayor of Chicago is not, however, the leader of the city council; he is the leader of an entirely different branch of government. The idea that, as a member of the city council you speak to the mayor just shows how perverted the (lack of) separation of powers is in this town. No wonder the Progressive Caucus (according to Burns) stopped inviting him to their meetings.

*

Back to the Trib:

"At the start of debate, state Sen. Jacqueline Collins, D-Chicago, said the tax credit decision is not the city's to make. 'The city has no power to grant or to withhold a tax credit, an Illinois state tax credit,' said Collins, who added that Lee met the required tax break criteria by hiring many people and vendors from the Englewood neighborhood."

Well, doesn't that mean that we hired all those people? After all, it's our money.

And just what business does Spike Lee have asking for a tax break from a state that has cut funding for children on ventilators? Has anyone asked Spike that?

*

Spike Lee ought to be ashamed demanding tax breaks; the State of Illinois ought to be ashamed granting them; and Will Burns ought to be ashamed for trying to use the power of government to punish someone for the name of their movie.

*

Let's throw Rahm and Ald. Joe Moreno into the mix too: It's not up to government to decide which role models are "acceptable" nor which companies have the correct values to do business here.

Talk about separation of powers.

*

Also, not government, but . . .

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Your Chief Keef Hologram Reader
When I wrote "Mayor Rahm vs. Chief Keef" a week ago, there was hardly a peep. But now that the hick Hammond police force has done essentially the same thing as Rahm, the pundits are outraged.

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Fantasy Fix: Your 2015 NFL Top 20!
Matt Forte over Aaron Rodgers?

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BeachBook
* Rich Dumb Kids More Likely To Get Jobs Poor Smart Kids.

* U Of M To Create Dataset Showing Access To Jobs.

* Comcast Hiring Hundreds In Chicago.

* Secret TPP Talks Continue At Luxury Hotel In Hawaii As Deal Becomes More Controversial.

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TweetWood
A sampling.

Only tools will attend. Meaning it will be packed.

*

But we're reassessing his legacy!

*

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Fear not.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:52 AM | Permalink

July 28, 2015

The [Tuesday] Papers

Yeah, obviously this isn't happening today.

I was unexpectedly out late last night, and then this morning one thing just snowballed into the other, until was afternoon and then night again.

(This happened last night, among other hijinks.)

Still, I worked really hard today.

To wit:

* Calling Out The Tollway Pastor.

* Yay, Tastee-Freez!

* MLB's Next Target: China.

* Chicago Book Haul.

* '58 Corvette.

* The Weekend In Chicago Rock.

Featuring: Chief Keef, Lil Bibby, Radioactivity, Mac McCaughan, Negative Scanner, Craze Fest, Riff Raff, Van Halen, Warped Tour, Rock The Yacht, Ambrosia, Robbie Dupree, Little River Band, Player, Eleventh Dream Day, X, Ringo Deathstarr Deafheaven, Veruca Salt, Replicant, Blonde Redhead, Brokeback, Charles Bradley and His Extraordinaires, Happyness, Empires, This Will Destroy You, Wicker Park Fest, The Life and Times, Velvet Teen, Bob Schneider, Fit for a King, Blessthefall, Attila Asking Alexandria, TV Color, Dim, Never Shout Never, Beartooth, Simple Plan, Escape The Fate, Stephen Bishop, Bombo Estereo, Josh Garrels, The Bannermen, Basement Family, Volcano Weather, and The Returnables.

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BeachBook
* Wabash Lights Project Exceeds Kickstarter Goal.

* Boston Bid For Summer Olympics Is Terminated.

Deep skepticism here about whether taxpayers would be stuck footing the bill for the Olympics has doomed Boston's bid to host the 2024 Summer Games and raised questions about whether any other major American city might be willing to take on the risk.

The Chicago media is willing!

* Ian Is Leaving Gold Star After 21 Years.

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TweetWood
A sampling.

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*

*

*

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Blame Blago.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:23 PM | Permalink

'58 Corvette

"The C-1 Corvettes have always been popular and were completely redesigned in 1958 with quad headlights and chrome trunk spears.

"One of the very popular designs of the time was the exhaust coming through the rear bumper removing the ugly exhaust tips dangling from the underside of the trunk pan.

"This Signet Red beauty with white coves and matching Signet Red interior is sure to impress at any show.

"Recently this car was given a Bloomington Gold certification and this car is ready to show and collect some awards.

"The 230 horsepower 283 CI V8 runs nice and strong and is a blast to drive with the 4-speed transmission.

"This car was ordered from the factory with a soft-top delete and has the original fiberglass hardtop included."


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"Located in our Chicago showroom this 1958 Chevrolet Corvette can be seen including an HD video and pictures at www.gatewayclassiccars.com. For additional information please call (708) 444-4488 or e-mail Chicago@gatewayclassiccars.com

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 5:46 PM | Permalink

Chicago Book Haul

"I went to Chicago and I got a lot of books."


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See also: readingandwritingandmore's YouTube channel.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 5:27 PM | Permalink

MLB's Next International Market: China

In the wake of the first player from Major League Baseball's three development centers in China signing with a Major League team, young players from MLB China look to impress scouts. Nathan Frandino reports.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 5:02 PM | Permalink

Calling Out The Tollway Pastor

What: Action Now will demonstrate outside of New Beginnings Church of Chicago to put pressure on Pastor Corey Brooks to utilize his relationship with Governor Bruce Rauner during the budget debate.

Members are demanding that Pastor Brooks step down from his appointment to the Illinois Tollway Board, and begin fighting for progressive revenue solutions to fix the budget crisis.

A list of demands will be left for the pastor in order to make community and congregation members aware of his broken promises.

When: Wednesday, July 29, 1 p.m.

Where: New Beginnings Church of Chicago, 6620 S. King Drive.

Why: Governor Bruce Rauner continues to propose cuts to important social programs that benefit working families and community members. Brooks, in his public endorsement of Rauner, promised that changes would be made under Rauner to better the community. This proclamation, however, has been broken by the governor's clear jump towards cuts. Brooks has been silent on Rauner's detrimental policies, and for his silence, has received a new $30,000 a year position on the Illinois Tollway Board.

Visuals: About 40 community members will protest in front of the church with signs, chants, and lists of demands to bring visibility to the pastor's silence during the budget fight.

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Previously in Corey Brooks:
* The Weekend In Occupy Chicago (Item No. 4).

* TweetWood.

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Plus:

* From the Rauner campaign, September 2014:

"Pat Quinn has been a failure for the African American Community. Whether on job creation, education or out-of-control violence, he made promises and broke all of them. "The fact is Bruce Rauner isn't a Johnny-come-lately to our community; he and his wife, Diana, have been working in the community for years building schools, helping teachers and empowering parents, and helping those less fortunate."

Dr. Willie Wilson
Mr. Gil Walker
Mr. Lee Walker
Pastor Corey Brooks
Esquire Jerome Butler

* Karen Lewis And Corey Brooks Duke It Out On Twitter.

Including:

* November 2014: Rauner appoints Brooks to transition committee.

* Friday, July 17, 4:02 p.m.:

Governor Bruce Rauner announced today he has made appointments to the Illinois Tollway, the Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority, and the Illinois Community College Board.

Name: Corey Brooks
Position: Board Member - Illinois Tollway

Governor Bruce Rauner has appointed Pastor Corey Brooks to the Illinois Tollway Board. He has a strong track record of working with private and public entities to affect positive change in his community.

Currently, Brooks is the Senior Pastor at New Beginnings Church in Chicago. He founded the church in 2000. He leads a congregation of more than 2,000 members, including a staff of nearly 70, which has a budget of more than $1 million annually. His leadership has led to the church becoming a resource center for the community.

Previously, Brooks founded Project Hood, where he worked as a community activist. He took steps to combat gun violence in the City of Chicago and provided support to families impacted by the violence.

Brooks is a graduate of Ball State University. He earned a law degree from the University of Florida, as well as graduate degrees from the Dallas Theological Seminary and the Grace Theological Seminary. He lives in Chicago.

* Compensation: Illinois State Tollway Authority board members are paid $31,426 a year.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 4:32 PM | Permalink

A Good Old-Fashioned Tastee-Freez Commercial

A Good Old-Fashioned Treat!

"This aired on local Chicago TV on (most likely) Thursday, May 13, 1982."


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Previously in Tastee-Freez:

* Tastee-Freez Chicago.

* Song: Corn Dog From The Tastee-Freez.

* Podcast segment: He Worked At A Tastee-Freez.

* Podcasting From The Tastee- Freez Picnic Tables.

* Best celebrity sighting ever:

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Previously from The Museum of Classic Chicago Television:
* Carleton The Mime.

* The Ground Round.

* Dance Fever Christmas Special.

* Into The Valley Of The Space Invaders.

* Help Save Classic Chicago TV!

* Monstrous Movie Flashback Starring Bag O'Laughs.

* Help Save Classic Chicago Television!

* Dominick's Holiday Turkey With Pop-Up Timer.

* The Safety Elves Of Northbrook.

* Smoking Stinks.

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

* When Gary Coleman Pitched Harris Bank.

* Sword Of Justice!

* Jobs In Chicago.

* When A Chicago TV Show Interviewed The San Diego Chicken.

* Paul Lynde vs. Halloween.

* Tom Turkey Cake.

* A Classic Chicago Television Christmas.

* Rainbows Of Flavor & Fun.

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See also:
* The Museum of Classic Chicago Television YouTube Channel.

* Fuzzy Memories TV.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 3:39 PM | Permalink

The Weekend In Chicago Rock

You shoulda been there.

1. Chief Keef via hologram at Craze Fest in Hammond on Saturday night.


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2. Radioactivity at the Empty Bottle on Friday night.

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3. Lil Bibby at Craze Fest in Hammond on Saturday night.

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4. Mac McCaughan and John McEntire at Schubas on Thursday night.

Kot: Story Of Youth Told In Chunks: Mac McCaughan's Solo Debut Recounts Teen Experiences.

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5. Eleventh Dream Day at the Hideout on Friday night.

Kot: Band's Legacy Beats Out Nostalgia: Eleventh Dream Day Makes Rare Gig Count.

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6. Van Halen in Tinley Park on Friday night.

Setlist.

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7. Negative Scanner at Cole's on Saturday night.

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8. Ringo Deathstarr at the Empty Bottle on Sunday night.

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9. Replicant at the Double Door on Sunday night.

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10. Blonde Redhead at the Subterranean on Friday night.

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11. X at City Winery on Sunday night.

Elbel: A three-night stand to help Billy Zoom kick cancer's butt.

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12. Brokeback at Schubas on Thursday night.

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13. Deafheaven at Wicker Park Fest on Sunday night.

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14. Charles Bradley and His Extraordinaires at Wicker Park Fest on Saturday night.

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15. Happyness at Wicker Park Fest on Saturday night.

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16. Empires at Wicker Park Fest on Sunday.

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17. This Will Destroy You at Wicker Park Fest on Sunday.

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18. The Life and Times at Wicker Park Fest on Sunday.

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19. The Velvet Teen at Wicker Park Fest on Sunday.

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20. Veruca Salt at Wicker Park Fest on Sunday night.

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21. Bob Schneider at Thalia Hall on Saturday night.

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22. Fit for a King in Tinley Park for the Warped Tour on Saturday.

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23. Blessthefall in Tinley Park for the Warped Tour on Saturday.

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24. Attila in Tinley Park for the Warped Tour on Saturday.

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25. Asking Alexandria in Tinley Park for the Warped Tour on Saturday.

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26. Never Shout Never in Tinley Park for the Warped Tour on Saturday.

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27. Beartooth in Tinley Park for the Warped Tour on Saturday.

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28. Simple Plan in Tinley Park for the Warped Tour on Saturday.

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29. Escape The Fate in Tinley Park for the Warped Tour on Saturday.

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30. Ambrosia at RiverEdge Park in Aurora for Rock the Yacht on Friday night.

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31. Player at RiverEdge Park in Aurora for Rock the Yacht on Friday night.

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32. Stephen Bishop at RiverEdge Park in Aurora for Rock the Yacht on Friday night.

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33. Robbie Dupree at RiverEdge Park in Aurora for Rock the Yacht on Friday night.

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34. Little River Band at RiverEdge in Aurora for Rock the Yacht on Friday night.

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35. Bombo Estereo at the Concord on Sunday night.

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36. Josh Garrels at House of Blues on Saturday night.

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37. The Bannermen at the Red Line Tap on Friday night.

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38. At Bric-a-Brac on Sunday.

* Dim.

* Basement Family.

* Volcano Weather.

* The Returnables.

* Color TV.

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39. Chief Keef, Lil Bibby and Riff Raff at Craze Fest in Hammond on Saturday night in three annoying parts.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:38 PM | Permalink

July 27, 2015

The [Monday] Papers

It's a podcast bonanza here at Beachwood HQ. Let's take a look.

* The Beachwood Radio Hour #63A: We Are Living In The Golden Age Of Rock 'N' Roll.

Every age of rock 'n' roll, in fact, is a golden age.

Also: My Heart, Ranked; and Women Rule Rock.

Plus: A few words about a suicidal Sandra Bland.

Remember, you can follow along in Show Notes - or use those to guide you to the exact point in the 'cast you wanna go.

* The Beachwood Radio Hour #63B: My Journey Through America's Dumbest Newsrooms.

I've got stories. Boy, do I have stories. I could go on for years. And I may!

Granted, my journey hasn't really been through America's dumbest newsrooms, but, sadly, through America's typical newsrooms. It ain't pretty, folks.

Subhed: Inside The Media's Mediocre Mindset.

Plus: Making The Milwaukee-Medill Mural. This is really cool stuff. Links to photos in Show Notes - which you should always consult . . .

*

Podcasts are also downloadable. They can also be found on Soundcloud, where they are archived more neatly than they are here. All the information you need is right there on the posts.

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The Cub Factor: Designated For Assignment
For example, make a shoebox diorama of the bullpen.

The White Sox Report: Play Out The String
Now Roger's believing again. Sheesh.

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The Weekend In Chicago Rock
Is in pre-production. It will appear today or on Tuesday.

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BeachBook
* Will Stephen Johns Even Make The Stars' Roster?

* Elena Delle Donne Emerges As The Face Of The WNBA.

* Suburban Chicago's Discover Card Ordered To Pay $18.5 Million Over Student Loan Practices.

* American Teenagers Are Having Less Sex Than We Did.

* Amidst Budget Cuts, Payton Prep Principal Wonders If He Should Send His Own Kid To A CPS School.

* Why Doesn't Legacy Media Link Out To Sources More Often?

* Chicago's Independent Police Review Not So Independent?

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TweetWood
A sampling.

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*

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Cast your lot.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 1:36 PM | Permalink

The Beachwood Radio Hour #63B: My Journey Through America's Dumbest Newsrooms

Not really the dumbest, but sadly typical. Subhed: Inside The Media's Mediocre Mindset. Plus: Making The Milwaukee-Medill Mural.


SHOW NOTES

* Strawberry Rock Show.

1:59: The Milwaukee-Medill Community Mural.

* Mural prep!

* Mural painting!

* Flash in action!

* FlicksOnFlash.

* GretchenHasse.com.

9:38: Freddie Gibbs at Pitchfork.

12:31: How The Media Thinks. (Quality Is Not Job 1)

*

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* The Intercept: A Crucial Realization About Journalism Is Learned By Being Its Subject.

* Jayson Blair.

* Travelers Find Holiday Is No Sweat.

* Flint Taylor says this WBEZ reporter spent 20 minutes trying to get him to repeat her pre-set narrative that the Guardian's Homan Square expose 'mischaracterized' the activities going on there, which he denied because he didn't have the requisite knowledge to pass judgement. Then, Taylor says, she attributed to him only the closest, most grudging thing he said that could fit that narrative. Additionally, Taylor says, Craig Futterman, who came under a lot of fire from the civil liberties community for his comments, told him he was misquoted.

* Air Show Goes Off Into Wild Blue Yonder.

* ("Severe clear" was the term.)

* Attack On U.S. Skating Star Felt Even By Amateurs On Ice.

* City's Safest Police District Isn't That Way By Accident.

* Smoker Backlash? It May All Be Puffery.

* I believe the editor actually said "We only need one." Because that would be the anecdote to the lead the story. You see, in a newsroom, an anecdote isn't an example that illustrates a larger trend, but the most extreme outlier that . . . represents a larger (non-) trend.

* How Slate's Jack Shafer Calls Out Bogus Trend Stories.

45:05: Murder By Death at Millennium Park last Monday night.

* Downtown Sound Proves Millennium Park Can Rock.

* The Press.

"Caustic, informed - often hilarious - this survey of the omissions, distortions and downright fiction in our newspapers may well be the best book written about the American press."

* Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail.

* The Boys on the Bus.

What's the lead, Walter?

One of Crouse's key observations was that few people on that bus dared go off the reservation and report stories no one else was reporting for fear that their editors squawk.

* On Bended Knee: The Press and the Reagan Presidency.

"Based on more than 175 interviews with most of the key figures in the White House and the press, the book exposes one of the great scandals of 20th century American politics - how the press, both through government manipulation and voluntary self-censorship, abdicated its responsibility to report on what was really going on during Reagan's eight years as president. Indeed, as author Mark Hertsgaard reveals, there were many instances of network and press executives at CBS, The New York Times, ABC and elsewhere, stifling their own reporters' coverage of such stories as Reaganomics, the invasion of Grenada and the Iran-Contra Affair."

* Who Will Tell The People: The Betrayal Of American Democracy.

* Not mentioned, but a crucial must-read: Read All About It!

"A look at how the owners of American newspapers have sacrificed journalistic ideals for profit shows how journalism has become the province of large corporations that care more about private profit than about public debate."

That's a pretty antiseptic description. It's more like A searing insider tell-all about how the corporatization of newspapers perverted their mission, as seen through the activities of the Tribune Company.

To wit:

"By reducing circulation efforts among low-income, minority readers, newspapers actually improve the overall demographic profile of their audiences, which they then use to justify raising advertising rates," wrote James Squires in his 1993 book, Read All About It! The Corporate Takeover Of America's Newspapers. Squires was editor of the Tribune for eight-and-a-half years."

* Confidence Men.

* They both reached for the gun.

* Justice For John Conroy.

* End of the Nightstick.

* The Tribune's Ken Parish Perkins wrote about it a year after I pitched it.

* Heat Wave.

"Elizabeth Taylor, who edits the Tribune's book review, once told me she just didn't think the book was that big of a deal."

* Royko: Killer Heat Wave Or Media Event?

My guess is that when someone does an in-depth study of all deaths during earlier heat waves, it will be found that many more people of all ages died of heart attacks, strokes and assorted seizures.

Wrong.

* Rokyo on Burge: Facts Don't Add Up To Police Brutality.

I don't doubt that someone abused Andrew Wilson after he was arrested. But we don't know who did it, and we'll never know. It could have been the three facing dismissal. It could have been others.

Since the city doesn't know, it should let it go.

As for those sign-waving protesters who are seeking the hides of the three cops, one two-part question: Have you ever had any firsthand experience with them, and did they ever torture you?

If not, get a life.

Wrong.

* Scroll to A Small Step For Chicago.

* The ebonics story I reported on for Newsweek is not online.

* The Case Against Daley.

Another point I forgot to make: One time at Chicago the magazine industry's "cover" guru spoke at an event we all went to. This guy's specialty was telling editors what words, phrases and topics sold best off the newsstand. He kept a database of such things pertaining to nearly all the nation's city magazines. He pointed out, as if we hadn't already been told a million times, that "political" covers didn't sell. For that matter, "newsy" covers didn't sell. I would never argue that point, I said, when I asked a question, but on his chart the example I saw of a political cover was a profile of Laura Bush, for Texas Monthly or something like that. I suggested that that wasn't a political cover, and that instead a cover story with the line "How The Mayor Is Stealing From You" would probably do pretty well. In the ensuing conversation, I pretty much leveled the guy and his "data." In the ensuing months, though, whenever the discussion within Chicago turned to covers, it was as if the exchange had never taken place. And for the remaining years of my time at the magazine, the cover guru's wisdom was frequently cited. The brainwashing goes deep, my friends. It's not just about crazies denying climate change; the person next to you is in deep denial about some pretty basic things. Maybe you are too.

(I also never got a good answer - then or from my bosses - for why we should have been slaves to newsstand sales when they were about a fifth of our subscriber base.)

* Chicago later did a big story on how "The Speech" came to be; I never would have done that story, obvs.

* "Press Box" not online, but I've got the files so I hope to get them up one day. Here's one example, though, from the Wayback Machine.

* See also "Deserted Press Box."

At the time, I said to my editor, Hey, I could do this every day. The seeds were sown.

* Obamathon.

My favorite: It's mighty nice of the Chicago media to give Barack Obama a largely clean bill of health on his relationship with Tony Rezko now that he's held strategic meetings with editorial boards of the Tribune and Sun-Times, but as near as I can tell, every media outlet in the city missed the story. Let's try it this way:

"Barack Obama acknowledged in meetings with the city's two editorial boards that he had not been truthful in describing his knowledge of Tony Rezko's legal problems when he became entangled in a real estate deal with the political fixer involving Obama's South Side mansion."

Let's take a look at what we really learned over the weekend.

If I ever write the book about Obama I've been thinking about, the opening scene will these visits to the city's editorial boards.

* When The Tribune Got NBC Chicago To Take Down A Totally True And Prescient Post About Their CEO.

* The Tribune Also Had The Post Removed From Google, So I Reposted It Here.

No one ever reported on this.

* Media Management Center/Readership Institute, Etc.

* I created my own graduate degree in media management at Northwestern; I was asked about it when one my mentors helped Kellogg create this.

* I also earned a graduate certificate in Telecommunications Science, Policy and Management (the online world was still called "telecommunications" back then).

* I also worked on several Knight-Ridder projects (and even did a consulting project for the Tribune Co.)

* The point is this: I'm not just making shit up out of my head. I've done my homework.

* That's exactly how it happened!

* I forgot to re-tell this story: The [Rosty] Papers.

I quickly figured out that I was probably the only one in the room who had read America: What Went Wrong by two of my reporting heroes, Donald L. Barlett and James B. Steele.

1:20:58: Kitten Forever at the Double Door (No. 3) on Tuesday night.

* What The MSM Could Learn From Gawker.

* Deadspin: Sports News without Access, Favor, or Discretion.

* Nobody's job is to lie.

* The (undergraduate) journalism education I received was reform-minded. I learned how sucky the industry was ahead of time - a running joke was that the faculty was trying to talk us out of going into the profession. But the reality was that they wanted us to fix the profession.

* Every journalist should be required to be a member.

* The Beachwood Radio Hour #60: Don't Blame Garry McCarthy For Rahm Emanuel's Crime-Causing Policies.

Published since 1900, the [ Minnesota Daily ] is currently the largest student-run and student-written newspaper in the United States.

* You reap the sources you sow.

* Edward Snowden did not trust the New York Times.

* Homan Square in real-time.

* Is the subject of this podcast my book? Is the real Obama as I wrote from the start my book? Is the Beachwood Inn my book?

* The [Olympics Tax] Papers.

* The Beachwood Radio Hour #2: Crime Is Down.

How Chicago got its vaunted story about homicide stats wrong.

* The false claim about New York City's mandatory minimums that the media continues to trumpet.

* Blago Ruling Indicts Media.

* Correcting Greg Hinz (D-Rahm) On TIFs.

Hinz has publicly endorsed Rahm, and you can tell.

* Greg Hinz, For One, Would Like To Welcome Our New Overlord.

* As former Tribune reporter/editor Maury Possley once told me, looking out across the newsroom, a lot of people here think they have 10 years of experience when they really have 10 years of one year of experience.

1:55:36: The Bank Notes at Reggies a week ago Sunday.

1:56:30: Dumpster Babies at the Double Door (No. 3) on Tuesday night.

1:56:46: Mr. Twin Sister at Lincoln Hall a week ago Saturday night.

STOPPAGE: 58:40.

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For archives and other Beachwood shows, see The Beachwood Radio Network.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:42 AM | Permalink

Play Out The String

At 3 p.m. Central Standard Time on Friday, this silliness known as the Trade Deadline will be behind us. It can't come too soon.

Not that there is a problem with players being dealt to new clubs. That practice has been part of Organized Baseball since the beginning.

Granted, until 40 years ago with the ascension of the Players Association, the athletes were completely at the mercy of the owners in terms of where they would be performing. Nowadays free-agents-to-be like Jeff Samardzija simply need to be patient and pitch where they are told until they can entertain offers from anyone.

What is redundant and bothersome is all the blather about buyers or sellers, who is going where, who are the best prospects, and which rent-a-player is most likely to make a difference. I have a lot of company from those who much prefer the action on the field to all the rumors and conjecture.

Talking about action, the White Sox displayed plenty of it the past four days in sweeping Cleveland on the Tribe's home turf for their first four-game road sweep in eight years.

So here we are once again, four games below .500, five games from a wild-card berth with five teams to leapfrog to get there and 66 games to do it.

Despite losing five of their first six games after the All-Star break - including a pair to the front-running Cardinals at The Cell last Tuesday and Wednesday - our enigmatic crew has won 14 of its last 22 games. The Sox outscored the reeling Indians 26-5. In splitting 10 games since the break, the Sox have made just two errors, one of which was catcher's interference by Tyler Flowers last Wednesday that led to the winning run on Yadier Molina's eighth-inning bases loaded triple.

Promoting Tyler Saladino from Charlotte 13 games ago so far has proved to be a master stroke of genius by general manager Rick Hahn. The kid can play. Gone are the defensive miscues of Conor Gillaspie - in fact, just plain gone is Conor Gillaspie who was picked up by the Angels last week after the Sox designated him for assignment, whatever that means.

(Actually it means that the team can either trade the player or release him outright after 10 days. The Sox got "cash considerations," another ambiguous phrase, for Gillaspie. Personally, I'd rather have the cash. You can hold onto the considerations.)

In Gillaspie's place is Saladino, who not only has made all the routine plays that tended to intimidate his immediate predecessor, but he's turned in a few gems as well, to say nothing of a slash line of .294/.327/.778. The sample size is small, but the 25-year-old Saladino, batting second in the order, has given the team a new look.

In addition, since Saladino entered the scene, shortstop Alexei Ramirez, perhaps sensing that Saladino is the heir apparent at shortstop, has become a demon in the field. He and Carlos Sanchez are turning exciting double plays as often as Donald Trump says something outrageous.

Sox pitchers have to be ecstatic about the development in which their fielders actually can catch the ball. Sox starters in the past 10 games have a 3.00 ERA. John Danks in his last two starts against Kansas City and St. Louis didn't give up a run in 12 2/3 innings. Carlos Rodon shut out the Indians on Sunday for 6-plus innings while Jose Quintana pitched his first complete game ever on Friday, blanking Cleveland 6-0.

Although the South Siders still have scored fewer runs than any team in either league, there are signs that just maybe they are awakening from their season-long hibernation.
If so, Melky Cabrera, who was hitting .228 back on June 8 with just five extra base hits in 56 games, deserves a lot of credit. Since that first week of June, the Melkman is hitting .338 with 16 extra base hits. Sanchez was hitting an embarrassing .165 at the end of June. So far this month, he's rolling along at a .306 clip. He hit his first career home run Saturday in the team's 10-3 laugher, and then he belted No. 2 on Sunday and scored both runs in the 2-1 squeaker.

Leadoff man Adam Eaton remains at .251, far below the .300 he hit last season. But after two hits and two walks on Saturday, his OBP is a respectable .327. Jose Abreu isn't close to the numbers he posted in his rookie season a year ago, but he remains a threat every time he walks to the plate. If he just went back to swinging primarily at strikes, he would be even more productive.

Lest one is led to believe that the White Sox are speeding toward a division title, let me tell you about Adam LaRoche, who usually bats fifth, thus providing "protection" for Abreu. Poor Adam is hitting .141 this month without a homer and only three RBI. Only six players in all of MLB have struck out more than LaRoche this season.

Yet manager Robin Ventura continues to bat LaRoche fifth behind Abreu. Okay, the guy's making $12 million, so you have to play him. Or do you? Having the speedy J.B. Shuck as DH would make so much more sense.

Signing LaRoche last winter appeared to be a brilliant move. But he is having by far his worst season ever. So do something. The Indians walked Abreu on Sunday to load the bases in the top of the seventh of a 2-0 game. The odds were that LaRoche would strike out, which is exactly what he did. If LaRoche must play, can't he bat eighth or ninth?

Catcher Tyler Flowers strikes out almost as often as LaRoche, but he gets credit for his handling of the pitchers. So let him catch Chris Sale and once or twice more each week while giving Geovany Soto much more time than presently is the case. Geo's OPS is .748 compared to Flowers' .599. C'mon Robin. Play Soto.

So there you have it. Solid pitching. Much improved defense. A few hitters finding their stroke and becoming productive. Why not make a few adjustments and stand pat? Let Samardzija do what he was brought in to do. Play out the string and see how far these fellows can go.

Not everyone sees it quite this way. In fact, my guess is that if Hahn does little or nothing this week in the way of trades, he will be derided as a wishful thinker for believing that the 2015 White Sox can actually reach .500 and then make a move against the teams ahead of them.

Beachwood editor Steve Rhodes e-mailed me last week asking, "Shouldn't the White Sox think about moving [closer David] Robertson and [relievers Zach] Duke and [Dan] Jennings?"

He correctly suggested that a pitcher the caliber of Robertson or a hitter of Cabrera's ilk could bring a good return of a position player or a hot prospect.

"Robertson has the most value and is a luxury on a team this bad," Steve continued. "You can't just bring the same guys back. That's death."

Hahn has been adept at holding his cards extremely close to his vest. And my sense is that this is where they will remain as the White Sox invade Fenway Park for four night games against the Red Sox this week. If our Sox come anywhere close in Boston to where they were last weekend in Cleveland, Jeff Samardzija, Alexei Ramirez and possibly the rest of the roster will stay right where they are.

If that kills them, so be it. At least we can stop hearing the inane chatter about the Trade Deadline until next season at this time.

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

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:20 AM | Permalink

Designated For Assignment

Today's Cub Factor is all about loss. And not just losing on the field, because the Cubs sure did a lot of in the last week. It's about the biggest loss on the roster in some time. Yes friends, I'm talking about the loss of Edwin Jackson.

The Cubs parted ways with E-Jax since our last installment of the Cub Factor and boy, was he missed. He could have easily got to pitch in at least three games in the last week in his "eat innings in mop-up duty in games they have little chance of winning" role.

Just so weird that the Cubs had so few of these games they had little chance of winning up until the point when they DFA'd E-Jax; then they got three in a week.

And what is the whole "DFA" thing about? Technically it means "designated for assignment," but I always thought that was odd. Like you are assigning them a project or homework or something. So, with this in mind we here at the Cub Factor have decided to create a list of assignments that should be given to our newest ex-cub, Edwin Jackson.

* A report on the Great Lakes. (Because this was always our favorite assignment.)

* Make shoebox diorama of the bullpen.

* Learn an instrument so you can join umpire Cowboy Joe West's band .

* Sit in a corner and think about how you've let people down.

* 50 words on warming up properly.

* 300 words on the art of stealing money in professional sports.

* 500 words on how to fleece Theo.

* 1,000 words on sunflower seed etiquette.

* Learn to use a GPS correctly.

* Read some books on how to invest money you don't deserve.

* Re-learn how to pitch.

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The Week in Review: The Cubs went 4-6 since coming out of the All-Star break, culminating with a laughable 3-game home sweep by the lowly Phillies. They even got no-hit in the process. This is rock bottom (thus far) for the season. Even the coming out party for phenom Kyle Schwarber can't take the stank mouth taste out of this week.

The Week in Preview: The Cubs stay home for three against the Rockies and then travel north for four against the Brew Crew. Maybe more importantly, this week is the trading deadline in MLB. We will see if Theo & Co. plan to give this season a real shot. And really, can't we say we have our young core right now and just move forward? Do the Cubs really have to wait and see who the next young player to come up is? Because these guys look good now, but are still years away from being consistent real guys. Do fans have to wait two to three more years for the next couple guys to get their feet wet, then do good, then struggle, and then hope they make adjustments, etc? Because then we are still talking years before fans get a consistent lineup. Draw the line and go get some hitters already.

Left Field Report: Christ. I mean, I get it. Chris Coghlan is going to mostly play in left until there is someone else on this team better than Chris Cohglan. It certainly doesn't seem like a hard thing to do - you know, be better than Chris Coghlan - but it just doesn't happen. The decent news is that everyone's "try hard but not that great at catching" catcher, Kyle Schwarber, got a taste in left on Sunday. Maybe Kyle jumps from catching to left field, though I'd much rather get a decent bat this week who can play left every day and keep Kyle at catcher most of the time. But what do I know? I just look at stats that show the Cubs are tied for 11th in the National league (still 15 teams) in runs scored.

In former left fielder news, Hank Sauer last played left field for the Cubs in 1955. He is a Hall of Famer and his nickname was "the Honker." He was also known as the Mayor of Wrigley Field, as he was the only bright spot on a pretty horrendous run of losing. Boy that sounds so Cub. Hank died at the age of 84 in 2001, so he missed Bartman. He is missed.

Mad(don) Scientist Big Poppa Joe is staying the course. I'm not sure what would have to happen to make him go "nuts" or be overtly angry. It just seems like he's still being Joe. So that is probably good, and maybe he really is getting the best out of this team, they just aren't good enough.

Wishing Upon A Starlin: Another stretch of games and another 4-for-37.
Okay, I'm not sure that he's had a stretch like this where he's gone exactly 4-for-37, but you get the point. Should they send him to Iowa for a bit? Like a limbo bar, how low can you go before you just say, Let someone else win the limbo contest, I have to work in the morning.

Kubs Kalender: The Brew Crew are giving away Matt Garza gnomes on Sunday against the Cubs. I don't even know what to say to this. Is it an insult to gnomes? Gardening in general? The Brewers? America? Earth?

Ameritrade Stock Pick of the Week: Shares of the season traded lower this week.

Over/Under: The number of fans getting worked up over this team only to be disappointed again: +/- all of them.

Beachwood Sabermetrics: A complex algorithm performed by The Cub Factor staff using all historical data made available by Major League Baseball has determined that the Cubs are 2.5 back of the second wildcard, and falling?

* Touch 'em all: The Cub Factor archives.

* Know thy enemy: The White Sox Reports.

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Marty Gangler is our man on the Cub. He welcomes your comments.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:25 AM | Permalink

July 26, 2015

The Beachwood Radio Hour #63A: We Are Living In The Golden Age Of Rock 'N' Roll

These are the good old days. Plus: My Heart, Ranked; Women Rule Rock; and A Suicidal Sandra Bland.


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SHOW NOTES

* Strawberry Rock Show.

1:36: Bully at Pitchfork.

3:55: My Heart, Ranked.

5:31: These Are The Good Old Days.

* Genre & Era: A Grateful Dead Dime Story.

* Songfacts.com.

* "Don't you understand? This - this is important to me!"

Every one of my records means something.

* Jessica Hopper on Steely Dan.

* Sound Opinions.

* St. Vincent.

* It's part of your job!

* WSJ: Discord Lingers In Grammy Nomination Process.

* Slate: Why I Hate The Grammys.

* Vox: The Grammy Voting Process Is Completely Insane.

* Indie Pop Rocks!

* Beachwood Music.

30:12: Run the Jewels at Pitchfork.

31:25: Waxahatchee at Pitchfork.

32:59: Women Rule Rock.

35:29: Audible!

35:58: About A Suicidal Sandra Bland.

* Dashcam video.

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* White kid who knew his rights.

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* Operation Corinthian (which I broke; clip not online).

55:07: Future at the Shrine on Tuesday night.

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For archives and other Beachwood shows, see The Beachwood Radio Network.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 3:46 PM | Permalink

July 25, 2015

The Weekend Desk Report

Because I live at AnySquared Studio, I've watched the design for this cool mural project develop into something, well, really cool. Here's the deets:

Art + Community: PAINT WITH US on SUN July 26th! We'll have paint materials available. Come dressed for painting. All welcome! All ages. Families encouraged.

Volunteer to help on the Paint Day and/or help prep the wall on the Friday and Saturday before. Message AnySquared if you want to volunteer or e-mail us.

Look here for any rain date or additional information.

The old mural:

mural3.jpg

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The new canvas:

mural.jpg

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Primed Friday night:

mural2.jpg

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The new design:

TOP SECRET! You'll have to see it for yourself.

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Rahm's Pension Crisis Coming Along Nicely
But is it going to waste?

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Beachwood Sports Radio: Cold Stove League
Seasonal baseball disorder in reverse.

Plus: The Same Old New Jay Cutler; The Chicago Fire Did Something This Week; Chicago Sky Still Rolling; and Duck, North Carolina.

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The Sound Opinions Weekend Listening Report: "Kate Pierson of the B-52s joins us to talk about the past, present and future of the band. Then Jim and Greg review the new album from Wilco."

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BeachBook
* Do You Know Why I'm Pulling You Over, Being Wildly Aggressive, And Charging You With Assault Today, Sir?

* Exclusive: Feds Regularly Monitored Black Lives Matter Since Ferguson.

* Demolition Begins On Art Deco Salerno Cookie Factory.

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TweetWood
A sampling.

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The Weekend Desk Report Tip Line: Mellon colliesque.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:48 AM | Permalink

Rahm's Pension Crisis Coming Along Nicely

"A law aimed at shoring up two of Chicago's financially shaky public worker retirement systems violates pension protections in the Illinois constitution, a judge ruled on Friday," Reuters reports.

"The ruling is a setback for Mayor Rahm Emanuel who has repeatedly said he will not raise taxes without pension reforms."

Gee, where have I heard that before?

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The financial conditions of the city, the state and even CPS are "real," the crisis mode surrounding them is quite unnecessary. Rahm and Rauner have driven us to this point in furtherance of their own agendas, while holding solutions hostage. It's the shock doctrine come home - and they haven't tried to hide it.

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"[The judge's ruling] also gives Illinois' public labor unions more leverage to resist pension cuts."

This is a factual statement, but a more true statement might be something like "It also gives Illinois public labor unions more leverage to protect the retirement incomes hard won in numerous contract negotiations with a series of political leaders."

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"In a written opinion, Cook County Circuit Court Judge Rita Novak rejected Chicago's arguments that the 2014 law results in a net benefit because it will save the municipal and laborers' retirement systems from insolvency . . . "

So the city argued that merely by "saving" the retirement systems from "insolvency" it had gotten around the state Constitution's requirement that benefits not be diminished? That, my friends, is a Blagojevichian absurdity.

" . . . and that the law was backed by a majority of affected labor unions."

So the city also argued that violating the Constitution was permissible as long as everybody was in on it?

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"She also took issue with Chicago's contention that it was not legally on the hook to pay pensions."

And we aren't legally required to pay income taxes!

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What's most sad about this ruling is that - along with the Illinois Supreme Court ruling striking down pension "reform" at the state level - is that it just reinforces how much time we've wasted (years!) on "solutions" that were so obviously illegal from the start. How much has that cost us?

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"Chicago will appeal Novak's ruling up to the Illinois Supreme Court, according to a statement from the city's top staff attorney."

I'd say the odds of Chicago getting a favorable ruling there are considerably longer than the odds the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals was going to exonerate Rod Blagojevich.

To wit:

"Novak's ruling also cited the Illinois Supreme Court's sweeping decision in May that found public sector workers have iron-clad protection against pension benefit cuts. That decision came in litigation over a 2013 law that reduced benefits for workers in state retirement systems."

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The Tribune characterized Novak's ruling as "slapping down the city's arguments point by point."

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"One expert on the Illinois Constitution characterized the city's chances of winning on appeal as futile, given the previous Supreme Court opinion on state pensions.

"Ann Lousin, a John Marshall Law School professor who teaches a course on the state constitution, said she saw the city's chances of success at 'somewhere between zero and a snowball's chance in hell.'"

Ann Lousin is just one expert, but do you ever get the feeling Rahm just sold us a bill of goods? Oh, of course, you get that feelng all the time. Still, we just had a re-election campaign and all.

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From the New York Times:

"I do not believe the taxpayers have $1 billion-plus in their pocket ready to put into a pension and bear the entire burden," he said on the news program Chicago Tonight in May. "Which is why I said to labor, 'If you come forward, I'm ready to step up on the issue of revenue, which no mayor has done before. But you have to be part of the solution.'"

The taxpayers have already put $1 billion-plus into the pension system - and Rahm's pals spent in elsewhere (in ways that mostly benefited Rahm's pals). Let's be clear about that.

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"It's indisputable that participants are better off with this legislation than they would be without it," city attorney Stephen Patton told the Sun-Times.

It's also indisputable that I'd be better off stealing a million bucks from Chase bank than not stealing it, but it's still illegal.

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Mmmm, stealing a million bucks from Chase bank . . .

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Patton acts like these are the only two options: the city's unconstitutional plan or the status quo. That's Pattonly ridiculous.

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"The loss at the circuit court level should spur the city to consider alternatives," Standard & Poor's says. "In our view, the ruling forces the city to identify a solution that does not rely on pension reform to manage the budget demands of its pension liabilities in the long-run."

In other words, forget pension reform. It's illegal. Find the money owed - perhaps through a financial transactions tax, TIF surpluses, a property tax increase, eliminating corporate subsidies, legalizing and taxing pot, a progressive income tax - and pay it.

I still like the Rahm Emanuel dunk tank and Rahm Emanuel swear jar, but those ideas haven't caught on.

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"Earlier this week, Chicago aldermen said they were preparing for the worst and wracking their brains to come up with new ways to raise revenue and cut costs.

"On Friday, Ald. Pat O'Connor (40th), Emanuel's City Council floor leader, failed to return repeated phone calls and text messages."

Let me fix that for you:

"On Friday, Ald. Pat O'Connor (40th), Mayor Richard M. Daley's city council floor leader when Daley and the council were spending pension money on Daley's pet projects, and who is now Emanuel's floor leader, failed to return repeated phone calls and text messages."

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:52 AM | Permalink

July 24, 2015

The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour #61: Cold Stove League

Seasonal baseball disorder in reverse. Plus: The Same Old New Jay Cutler; The Chicago Fire Did Something This Week; Chicago Sky Still Rolling; and Duck, North Carolina.


SHOW NOTES

* Bill George.

* Sun-Times: Chicago's Greatest Athletes By Uniform Number.

* Designated for assignment: The Great Lakes.

3:56: Cold Stove League.

* Hammel for Hamels?

* Albert Almora's Makeup Is Off The Charts. So Are His Numbers.

* Samardzija for Russell redux?

* What's the matter with Starlin Castro?

* The Middle Infield Myth.

* I was thinking of Cliff Lee; Cole Hamels has spent his whole career with the Phillies.

* David Robertson, asset.

* Kyle Schwarbeast.

* Tyler Flowers vs. Tyler Teagarden.

* The Mad(don) Scientist.

* Carlos Sosa.

* Everyone will just play left field.

* Kris Bryant's fielding.

* David Ross.

* Sir Edwin Jackson.

55:45: The Same Old New Jay Cutler.

* Rick Morrissey: Jay Cutler Is A New Man? We Won't Get Fooled Again.

* Item: Jay Cutler's Conversion Van.

1:00:30: The Chicago Fire Did Something This Week.

1:01:14: Chicago Sky Still Rolling.

1:01:35: Duck, North Carolina.

ducknc.jpg

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STOPPAGE: 3:36

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For archives and other Beachwood shows, see The Beachwood Radio Network.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:19 PM | Permalink

The [Friday] Papers

"Three years after creating a city infrastructure bank with a huge splash, Mayor Rahm Emanuel has decided to remake management of the finance unit, which by many accounts never has lived up to its potential," Greg Hinz reports for Crain's.

I'd say by every account - let's face it, it's been an abject failure. Why not just say so? Some of us haven't forgotten how Rahm rammed this down everybody's throats without proper consideration because it was so urgent to get it up and running immediately.

But then, consider the source as we take a trip through the Beachwood Wayback Machine.

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From March 9, 2012:

"Mayor Rahm Emanuel plans to ask aldermen next week to consider giving him broad authority to try a new way to pay for big-ticket projects, even though details on how it would work remain fuzzy," the Tribune reports.

"Top administration officials dispatched Thursday to explain the Chicago Infrastructure Trust insisted they don't know what public works improvements would be included and can't guarantee that public disclosure laws would apply."

So just like the current system.

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"I'm not smart enough to know all the ways it could potentially be used," said the city's chief financial officer, Lois Scott.

At least we have the right person in charge.

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"Emanuel wants to establish a nonprofit to oversee the trust, governed by five mayoral appointees approved by the council."

So city government is going to create a nonprofit to oversee the privatization of building public infrastructure.

I need a drink.

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Strangely, Greg Hinz had a different view in his write-up for Crain's:

"Having apparently learned from Richard M. Daley's mistakes, the Emanuel administration is pledging both total transparency and limited city financial risk in its much ballyhooed new infrastructure bank."

Huh?

"In a background briefing late Thursday, city officials said the new Chicago Infrastructure Trust will operate under strict rules designed to protect taxpayers, attracting the kind of private financing the city needs without burdening its own balance sheet."

ALTERNATE: "Officials from the mayor's office trying to generate positive publicity for their boss's "infrastructure bank" pledged total transparency and accountability in a background briefing in which they wouldn't allow their names to be used and couldn't provide even the most basic details about how the bank would work. By holding the 'background briefing' late Thursday for journalists from several competing news organizations, officials used a timeworn strategy for stoking reporters into writing stories lacking sources other than the briefers due to lack of time to flesh out critical voices and views while feeding the impulse to not be 'scooped.' In at least one case, it worked."

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Back to today:

"And the trust appears to have received an enlarged mission."

Great. Double down on failure.

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"City Chief Financial Officer Carole Brown declined to detail what's in mind but in an interview said a couple of eye-catching projects could be unveiled within coming weeks.

"Brown denied that the agency is being 'shaken up,' saying it's more a case of moving to a new phase."

A new phase called the Not An Abject Failure Phase?

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"The old leadership team 'got the trust up and running. They've had incredible success,' [Brown] said.

Incredible success if you define incredible success as success that's not credible, that is. Quick, Carole, name the Trust's top three successes (and moving the Penske papers into an accordion file doesn't count)?

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"[Outgoing executive director Steven] Beitler, in a quick interview, said it was 'time to leave and go back to the private sector. I promised I'd stay for two years, and it turned out to be two years and eight months.' Beitler declined to comment further."

You mean he didn't want to talk about the Trust's incredible success under his leadership?

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"[S]ome sources familiar with the trust say that while he could have acted faster on occasion, so could City Hall and its notoriously complex bureaucracy."

On its face, this sounds like good insider dish. But when you re-read it you're left with a nothingball.

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"[T]he trust has approved just two deals worth roughly $50 million, one in which private groups will help retrofit city buildings to make them more energy-efficient and, in turn, share in the energy savings. The trust also is assisting the CTA in upgrading cellphone capacity in the subway."

Neither of which needed the Trust to happen.

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"The Chicago Infrastructure Trust has the ability to move forward projects that are beneficial to the city for Chicago's communities and neighborhoods, and this new board will enable us to bring more of these innovative projects over the finish line," Emanuel said in a statement. "I appreciate the work that the outgoing board and executive director have undertaken."

Why even publish this? If Emanuel won't take questions about the Trust, fuck him. Don't give him a commercial that is clearly false. Be a fucking journalist.

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See also: Greg Hinz, For One, Would Like To Welcome Our New Overlord.

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Hinz also endorsed Rahm's re-election.

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Hinz also, inexplicably, thinks TIFs are awesome and Ben Joravsky doesn't know what he's talking about.

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See also Hinz's role in Blago Ruling Indicts Media.

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See also the item Rahm's Trust Is A Bust.

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Maybe former inspector general David Hoffman, ostensibly put on the Trust board to mollify critics, has something to say (hint, hint).

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Did you know that Carole Brown and Lois Scott were both once on the board of directors of the Better Government Association?

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Pilgrim's (Non-)Progress
"When a fire in 2006 nearly demolished Pilgrim Baptist Church, an architectural treasure by Louis Sullivan that is known as the birthplace of modern gospel music, many Chicagoans insisted that the building had to be restored," the Tribune reports.

"Two years after the fire, architects hired by the Bronzeville church's board of trustees revealed dazzling plans for a $37 million rebuilding project that would include a social services building and a cultural center. At the time, some architectural preservationists questioned how an aging congregation whose membership had declined from its height of 1,000 members to a couple of hundred would be able to undertake such a project.

"Now those skeptical voices ring prophetic. Nearly a decade after the blaze, steel bracing that stabilizes the church's limestone walls offers the only clear evidence that anyone intends to save one of Chicago's most historic places. Hopes of a restoration have fallen so far that some architectural preservationists think the only remaining option might be to preserve the surviving walls and turn the site into a park."

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What the hell happened? You'll have to click through to find out.

But let me pull out one of a series of screw-ups that seems to have doomed Pilgrim.

"[F]ormer Gov. Rod Blagojevich promised $1 million in state money, which later became mired in controversy when it was directed to and used by a school that held classes on the church's grounds.

"In 2010, the church filed a lawsuit against the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, seeking compensation for the mix-up. The suit, which the church later withdrew, claimed the church had spent $65,015 on demolition and building expenses. Pilgrim Baptist never received any of the promised $1 million from the state, a representative of the commerce department said recently."

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From the Beachwood vault, April 2008:

A House panel grilled a high-ranking Blagojevich aide, Deputy Gov. Louanner Peters, about how the politically connected Loop Lab School mysteriously wound up with $1 million in state funds the governor had intended for fire-ravaged Pilgrim Baptist Church on the South Side," the Sun-Times reports.

"But at least 59 times in the roughly 90-minute hearing, Peters professed ignorance toward what Blagojevich has called a 'bureaucratic mistake.'

"'I would not have any idea who in the governor's office would have the most answers,' Peters told members of the House State Government Administration Committee.

"Even though Blagojevich last month indicated two former aides oversaw the apparently errant deal giving Loop Lab School money, Peters said she was unaware of whom the governor was talking about."

Maybe it's time to haul the governor before the committee.

From the Beachwood vault, July 2008:

"The confusing controversy over Gov. Rod Blagojevich's decision to give $1 million in state assistance following the Pilgrim Baptist Church fire has a new twist - the founder of the private Chicago school that got the money is contradicting the governor's statement about what happened," the Tribune reports.

Will the last person in the state who hasn't been lied to by the governor turn the lights out?

Now, to be sure, Blagojevich isn't the only villain in the story. Just sayin'.

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"At this point, city historians and architects hope to at least salvage the walls and incorporate them into a memorial park on the site, with hopes that either the church or another organization eventually can raise enough money to rebuild."

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The Political Odds
Updated to reflect recent developments.

Beachwood Photo Booth: Lincoln Tap
Pole dancing.

The Week In Chicago Rock
Featuring: Future, Freddie Gibbs, Murder By Death, Kitten Forever, The Bank Notes, Dumpster Babies, Mr. Twin Sister, AWOLNATION, and REO Speedwagon.

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BeachBook
* 1977 National Safety Council PSA ('Gas Leaks') Featuring John Cusack.

* YouTube's 5 Biggest Stars Are Millionaires.

* Make PR People Confirm Quotes.

* NPR: White Men Talking.

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TweetWood
A sampling.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: A matter of trust.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:58 AM | Permalink

The Week In Chicago Rock

You shoulda been there.

1. Future at the Shrine on Tuesday night.


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2. Freddie Gibbs at Pitchfork on Sunday.

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3. Murder By Death at Millennium Park on Monday night.

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4. Kitten Forever at the Double Door (No. 3) on Tuesday night.

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5. The Bank Notes at Reggies on Sunday night.

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6. Dumpster Babies at the Double Door (No. 3) on Tuesday night.

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7. Mr. Twin Sister at Lincoln Hall on Saturday night.

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8. AWOLNATION at House of Blues on Thursday night.

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9. REO Speedwagon at River Edge in Aurora on Saturday night.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:32 AM | Permalink

Beachwood Photo Booth: Lincoln Tap

Pole dance.

lincolntapgirletcbw.jpg(ENLARGE FOR PROPER VIEWING; CLICK TWICE, EVEN BETTER)

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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.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Signpost.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Old Man And The Tree.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Street Fleet.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Citgo Story.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Fantasy Hair Design.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Garage.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Clark Stop.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Pole Position.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Window Dressing.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Geometry.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Found Love.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Fill In The Blank.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Vacuums Of The Night.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Dumpster Still Life.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Wagon Master.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Intersecting West Rogers Park.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Penn-Dutchman Antiques.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Cow Patrol.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Backstage Chicago.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Skully Bungalow.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Francisco Frankenstein.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Long Cool Heat.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Smokers' Mast.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Big Fat Phone.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Happy Day.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Alley Men.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Holiday Show!
* Beachwood Photo Booth: You've Got Mailbox.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Broken Window Theory.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Dali Logan.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Svengoolie.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Horner Park Hot Dogs.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Cubs Rehab.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: 20th Century Schizoid Man.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Men On Vans.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Penn-Dutchman Is Done.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Snowy Lincoln.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Waiting Room.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Avondale Chicken.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Winter's End.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: The Friendly Skies.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Boyhood Buzzer Beater.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: J Date.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: International Window Lady.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Shanghai Inn.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Open For Business.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Andersonville Unplugged.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: 3-Flat.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Evanston Turkey.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicagolandia.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Eat At Odge's.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Deitch Pharmacy.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Sud-Z Bubble.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Bands Wanted!
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Belmont Tavern.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Superheroic San Luis Freeze.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Evanston Oasis.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Lyndale Food & Jewelry.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 5:37 AM | Permalink

July 23, 2015

Justice, Chicago Style

"2015 Ahamo Journalism Excellence Pick: Interview with Rob Warden about a book he co-authored entitled Greylord: Justice, Chicago Style.

"The book was about the undercover investigation of corruption in the Cook County circuit court that resulted in the convictions of more than 70 former judges, lawyers, policemen and other court personnel by the FBI."


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See also: Judges For Sale.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:34 AM | Permalink

A Grateful Dead Dime Story

I quite enjoyed Tony Fitzpatrick's current column in New City about the Grateful Dead, and wanted to add some thoughts to some of what he wrote - some critical, some not.

"My pal Steve Jesus was in town for the weekend's Grateful Dead end of days," Fitzpatrick writes. "He was happily sad at the prospect of a final Dead show. He was determined to experience the holy trinity of mind-altering Grateful Dead substances: X, acid and 'shrooms, in that order."

I think pot and not X is in that "holy trinity."

In either case, though, I'm continually bothered by the emphasis of commentators on drugs when it comes to the Dead.

This isn't a criticism of Fitzpatrick - in his case, he's telling the truth (presumably) about the experience of his friend. But as a general proposition, the Dead's music tends to get short-shrift by those still mesmerized by cultures independent of button-downed Corporate America. Fitzpatrick does not do this - he goes on to discuss the music, as we shall see. But drug use is not endemic to every Dead fan (not that there's anything wrong with it); most Dead fans I know rarely if ever use drugs, or partake in nothing more serious than pot and beer.

Also unmentioned by most MSM commentators: Drug use is far worse at, say, mainstream country concerts, if you count alcohol as a drug. It's a lot uglier, too.

*

"There were all manner of Deadheads in town over the weekend and at first I thought they would be of the sixty-plus-year-old vintage. To my surprise there were plenty of kids who were not even alive before Jerry Garcia died."

This should not have been a surprise. Dead concerts in the '90s were jammed with twentysomethings. Those fans are in their 40s now. And so-called Millennials who weren't alive before Jerry Garcia died are just as enthusiastic, having found the band through the world's archive of fan tapes as well as the voluminous concert recordings on YouTube (and tracing back the influences of current bands they love and finding, in some cases, the Dead). The appeal of the music - and the culture - is timeless.

Young people growing up in internet culture are far less bound than those before them by the old boundaries of genre and era. Mashing genres (and influences, sometimes through samples) together, in fact, is a hallmark of much modern music. The old tribes of, say, metal, disco, folk, country, still exist but to far less a degree. Just check out the Pitchfork lineup every year; we just saw a festival featuring Sleater-Kinney, Chance the Rapper, Wilco, Run The Jewels and Iceage.

I bet those acts shared plenty of audience members.

*

When I bartended at the Beachwood Inn, I watched people's jukebox picks closely - even more so than when I was just a customer. Something I noticed right away was that the twentysomethings played music across genres and eras, while older patrons tended to stick to a narrower playlist.

This revelation really hit me one night when a 21-year-old who came in regularly on my shift with a pal of mine asked me what my favorite Bob Dylan record was. She was really into Dylan. And why shouldn't she have been?

Another example: a twentysomething server at the Logan Bar, where I work sometimes during the day, has the best playlists in the place - and I've talked to her endlessly about them because they so often surprise and delight. How so? Songs from a variety of genres and eras bump up against each other for hours on end.

I'm not saying this isn't the case for older generations, but I'm quite convinced that it isn't the case in the main or to the bone for older generations like it is more and more with each passing generation - and I think the Internet has a lot to do with that.

*

FYI: The Dead's music itself is a microcosm of that, spanning and combining folk, country, jazz, rock and soul derived from decades past and contemporary and recombined into a vast catalogue of Goodness.

*

Back to Fitzgerald:

Steve Jesus told me, "There should be a massive open-air drug market at a Dead show. It's only proper," he sighed. "I blame Rahm."

Um, I think there was! Thanks, Rahm!

*

The question is, why were Chicago police so lenient? Did Rahm order police to back off, so not to incur the ostensibly bad publicity of massive arrests - particularly twinned with holiday weekend violence that would have inevitably led pundits to wonder about the deployment of police resources? That's my guess.

*

"I have to say that everyone I met surrounding the Dead Fare Thee Well tour was unfailingly nice, polite and friendly."

As I discussed on this Beachwood Radio Hour, core Dead fans tend to be kinder people than the population at-large, yuppies and celebrity hangers-on notwithstanding.

Later, Fitzpatrick writes that "Their fans tend to be a nice bunch determined to share some goodwill."

Tru dat.

*

"[T]here was something admirable about how the core four maintained a currency in our culture and never became a nostalgia act despite the fact they'd released no new music for more than twenty years as the Grateful Dead."

This is a fresh insight to me. Fitzpatrick is right - the Dead never were a nostalgia act. At least not in the way we typically think of one.

In a certain kind of way, the Dead are instant nostalgia due to the tapers' culture. On the other hand, the tapers' culture evolved in such a meaningful way in large part because the band famously never played the same song twice the same way (well, maybe a bit of an exaggeration) and constantly mixed up its set lists, often right there on stage. The band's vast catalogue - of both originals and covers - also kept their shows fresh.

The band was only a nostalgia act to those who probably weren't there in the first place; the aforementioned yuppies and celebrity hangers-on, or those who sold out a long time ago.

As much as Dead culture evolved a lengthy set of rituals and folkways, those things never hemmed in the band - or its fans.

*

"The Dead were never the carefree money-doesn't-matter hippies people mistook them for."

I'm not so sure about this. The Dead certainly did not manage their career to maximize profit. And the idea behind a "money doesn't matter" philosophy isn't about living our lives in tents in the forest. It's that money isn't the most important thing in life, and that greed is ugly, and the pursuit of money deadens souls and often ruins those things which are most important. It's not as if the Dead refused to live up to their creed by actually charging their fans admission prices. It's about not letting money warp our values.

"At a certain point they became big business with a lot of people depending on them for a living."

That's right. And they treated those people well, including generous benefits including health insurance. As they should have.

"Yet by the same token, they remained their own men who consistently did whatever they wanted and answered to no one."

Which gets back to my first point in this segment. (I'm not sure doing "whatever one wants" is a value to be admired as much as "stayed true to themselves and their artistic vision" without compromising to the corporate wankers who wanted to exploit their popularity.)

*

"The purists will kvetch, as purists always do, that Trey is NOT Jerry."

Why is everyone so down on purists?

Because usually when one is accused of being a purist one is advocating a course of action that someone else simply does not want to take because it means a sacrifice of some sort, usually in the pocketbook. And usually it's the sort of sacrifice that one would make in order to not hurt other people.

Now, when it comes to true purists, yes, a problem, because in the physical world we live in, it is essentially impossible to live purely, try as much as some might. But the pursuit of ideals - especially those involving the lessening of harm to others - is to be admired. It reminds me of those in Illinois, in particular, who use the term "goo-goos" derisively, to those who dare suggest political corruption is a bad thing. Why should advocating "good government" be criticized? Perhaps because too many benefit from the status quo.

*

But Trey, yes; in one way he was a logical choice, given Phish. In another way, you could have seen other choices for handling Jerry's absence. Fans have every right to that debate.

*

"But from all accounts I heard Trey Anastasio attacked the opportunity with his own chops and maybe made people rethink the songs they'd been karma-dancing to for years."

Huh. Every account I read said just the opposite: that Trey treaded too lightly, which didn't serve himself or the songs well.

*

"Well done, gents, well done."

Agreed.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:55 AM | Permalink

Fantasy Fix: Adrian Peterson vs. Martellus Bennett

Late July is when the portion of the brain that has been entirely devoted to fantasy baseball since April starts to yield some space to a few inklings, thoughts and prognostications regarding fantasy football. I'm not ready to unveil my top pre-draft position rankings just yet, but here are a few points I'm mulling over as I prepare my list:

Does Adrian Peterson, RB, MIN, deserve to be the No. 1 fantasy draft pick this year, with his contract issues settled? I've read some observations that a restructured contract was the only thing standing between A.P. and a massive season to come. I don't know about that. He's 30 years old and has to shake off some rust, though he's also in "ridiculously good shape." He also returns to an offense, headed by second-year QB Teddy Bridgewater, that is likely to lean more than ever on him as a rusher and give him more work as a receiver. I'll tell you right now he's one of my top two fantasy players overall.

Is Calvin Johnson, WR, DET, still an elite fantasy WR? With his 2014 season coming in well below expectations and the surge of new talent into the tops ranks of this position - Odell Beckham, Jr., anyone? - Megatron has lost his luster. The former overall first-rounder probably will not even land in my top five for the WR position.

Will Russell Wilson, QB, SEA, finally throw for 4,000 yards this year? The short answer is "maybe." The longer answer is "Who cares, especially if he runs for another 849 yards and six TDs to go along with 20 passing TDs?" Wilson passed for 3,475 yards last year, and has yet to reach 3,500 yards passing in any of his three seasons, though he has slightly increased his passing yardage each season. With Jimmy Graham, TE, now in Seattle, a lot of people are thinking Wilson is going to throw a lot more. That could be true, though I'd count him as one of my top three fantasy QBs even without that possibility.

Is Martellus Bennett, TE, Bears, really a top-five fantasy TE? You better believe it. The perception the Bears want to get rid of him is at odds with the reality of his value last season - 916 yards receiving and six TDs (though four of them came in the first three games). This season, with Brandon Marshall gone, the highly regarded Kevin White still in training and the streaky Eddie Royal as the other likely WR starter, it certainly seems like Bennett should be in line for another solid season - maybe even something more.

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

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:05 AM | Permalink

The [Thursday] Papers

"Chicago's school board unanimously authorized more than $1 billion in new bonds Wednesday, in part as a hedge against the possibility that state lawmakers won't come through with help for the financially ailing district," the Tribune reports.

"Board members also approved Mayor Rahm Emanuel's appointment of Forrest Claypool as the district's new chief. He'll be paid a $250,000 annual salary, officials said, but will not have a written contract."

Why? Is this unusual?

Just wondering.

*

Catalyst has the answer:

"That gives the mayor's office flexibility in choosing the next CEO and prevents the possibility of a contractually obligated payout. When Jean-Claude Brizard left after just over a year as CEO, his severance package included a year's salary, plus health insurance for him and his family."

In other words, Claypool is a short-term fixer who will leave the post when Rahm Emanuel decides it's time to hire a real CEO again. In more other words, Claypool is essentially an interim CEO. Which means Rahm will be hiring his fifth schools chief in no time, if you count interim CEO Jesse Ruiz.

*

Catalyst also notes that "The Board unanimously passed every agenda item Wednesday," which got me wondering: Has the school board ever voted No on a single thing?

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United's State
"Chicago-based United Continental Holdings, parent of United Airlines, on Thursday said it earned nearly $1.2 billion in the second quarter, its highest quarterly profit ever," the Tribune reports.

Now they can finally move out of Sycamore and get a bigger office!

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A Grateful Dead Dime Story
Starring Steve Jesus.

Justice, Chicago Style
It wasn't long ago that the entire Cook County Circuit Court was found to be corrupt to the core.

Fantasy Fix: Adrian Peterson vs. Martellus Bennett
Thoughts turn to football.

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TweetWood
A sampling.

*

I was just noting this Wednesday, within "Blago Ruling Indicts Media."

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The Beachwood Tip Line: This is not for you. #subtweet

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:49 AM | Permalink

July 22, 2015

Blago Ruling Indicts Media

The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals could not have been any clearer on Tuesday when it handed down its ruling on Rod Blagojevich's appeal of his 18-count indictment: The evidence against the former governor was overwhelming, his lawyers' arguments were frivolous, and, while there were some technical issues to clarify, a reduction in his sentence was unlikely.

And yet, several journalists and news organizations got it wrong, trumpeting headlines about overturned counts, a vacated sentence, a possible retrial and a victorious day for Blago. One put a call into Blagojevich's brother, who declared that justice had been served; others "analyzed" Blago's "winning" case.

I took to Twitter immediately to correct the record, but at one point I was so exasperated I tweeted this:

Let's take a look at the ruling itself, which you can read for yourself here, and the corresponding coverage.

*

After recounting the case against the Blagojevich, the court says:

Blagojevich now asks us to hold that the evidence is insufficient to convict him on any count. The argument is frivolous. The evidence, much of it from Blagojevich's own mouth, is overwhelming.

Given that the court states that right up front, it's hard to see how reporters drew the conclusion that this was going to be a good day for Blago, but many of them did.

Now, bear in mind that the court has already said this in its opinion:

Because the charges are complex, the trials long, and the issues numerous, an effort to relate many details would produce a book-length opinion. Instead we present only the most important facts and discuss only the parties' principal arguments. All else has been considered but does not require discussion.

So the court's statement about Blagojevich's overwhelming guilt and the generally frivolous nature of his appeal covers the overwhelming portion of the case. That's important so the next section can be read in context, which seems to be where many reporters failed.

But a problem in the way the instructions were told the jury to consider the evidence requires us to vacate the convictions on counts that concern Blagojevich's proposal to appoint Valerie Jarrett to the Senate in exchange for an appointment to the Cabinet.

So, just to take it slow, Blagojevich is overwhelmingly guilty and his appeal overwhelmingly frivolous, but there was an issue with the jury instructions regarding the multiple counts concerning a single aspect of the case: the (potential) Valerie Jarrett appointment.

A jury could have found that Blagojevich asked the President-elect for a private-sector job, or for funds that he could control, but the instructions permitted the jury to convict even if it found that his only request of Sen. Obama was for a position in the Cabinet. The instructions treated all proposals alike. We conclude, however, that they are legally different: a proposal to trade one public act for another, a form of logrolling, is fundamentally unlike the swap of an official act for private payment.

In other words, Blagojevich made several proposals regarding the possible appointment of Jarrett - some (or one) illegal, another simply a form of hack-but-legal politics. The court is saying that the judge should have specified this to the jury instead of lumping the proposals - legal and illegal - together. When the jury convicted on these counts, the court says, maybe they were convicting on one of the proposals that was actually legal.

The opinion's author, Frank Easterbrook, then spends a considerable amount of time describing why political logrolling is simply politics - if it doesn't contain the elements needed to become a crime. Perhaps this got too much attention of some reporters - especially reporters who all along have tried to dismiss Blagojevich's actions on the whole as simply politics. But the court clearly states that Blagojevich massively violated the law. And on the Jarrett incident, the court does not clear Blagojevich, but merely states that, given a more specific set of jury instructions, perhaps a jury would find differently. Given the evidence the court lays out, that seems quite unlikely. But it is an error made by the judge nonetheless.

The remedy isn't to overturn those counts - at least not in the way we civilians understand that term - but to vacate the counts and allow prosecutors to accede to the reduction of guilt or take Blagojevich back to court to try again with proper jury instructions. It seems unlikely prosecutors will do so, given the time and energy it would take, as well as the circus atmosphere that would once again surround the proceedings. Beyond that, for what? As the court states, even without those counts, Blagojevich's sentence remains well under federal guidelines, and is not likely to change.

As a matter of process, however, the case goes back to the district judge - James Zagel - for him to reconsider Blagojevich's sentence, just in case he added time based on the jury's finding on these particular counts. It is unlikely that he did so, because, again, he found a number of ways to reduce the sentence from federal guidelines, and sentences on each count run concurrently anyway. The only way Zagel should find it necessary to reduce Blagojevich's prison time in this instance would be if the sentences corresponding to these counts run longer than any of the others.

I haven't looked it up, but I'm pretty sure they don't.

*

"The indictment also charged Blagojevich with wire fraud," the court said next. "That the negotiations used the phone system is indisputable, but where's the fraud?"

The court goes on to argue that Blagojevich didn't commit fraud over the phone because nobody was fooled; everybody was in on the game.

Again, Easterbrook spends far too much time elaborating on a cynical view of politics that allows for and even expects mistruths. While it's true that lying isn't necessarily illegal (unless you do so to an FBI agent), you could see how prosecutors felt Blagojevich used the phone to further his multiple schemes. Nonetheless, throwing out this charge again isn't likely to reduce Blago's sentence.

*

And that's pretty much it. Oh, the court takes up a few other issues, but on those does not rule in Blagojevich's favor. So you can see that it was not a good day for the ex-governor - despite what so many media reports declared. His appeal fell flat on its face. The issues Blagojevich won are likely to be non-consequential, as if a ball might be changed to a strike without the final score being affected.

*

And yet . . .

True only insofar as the ex-governor is likely to be re-sentenced to the very same sentence. Or, more like, his sentence will be reconsidered and then upheld.

*

And yet . . . Korecki has this tweet pinned to the top of her feed.

This gives a false impression of the court's use of the word "appropriate." In fact, the court didn't "urge" Zagel to re-sentence Blagojevich in a more appropriate manner befitting the bouncing of five counts. It merely said the judge should consider if he still thinks his sentence is appropriate, given that five counts have been vacated - while also noting that, given the sentencing guidelines, a reduction is far from assured.

In fact, the court goes to some effort to illustrate just how favorable the current sentencing already is to Blagojevich - regardless of reporters who have long had it in their own minds that the sentence was too harsh. Based on, you know, just how they feel.

The court's exact words:

It is not possible to call 168 months unlawfully high for Blagojevich's crimes, but the district judge should consider on remand whether it is the most appropriate sentence.

You can take that out of context and read it Korecki's way, as she does here . . . :

. . . or you could take it into context and read it the way the court intended, which is in a wholly neutral fashion.

*

Korecki has always been soft on Rod's brother, Robert, who once was a defendant in the case himself. Remember that car trip? (The article doesn't appear to be online; my guess is that it's disappeared with so many others given the various iterations of the Sun-Times's website, but it's still in the databases: "With their attorney Michael Ettinger, [Robert and Julie] spoke with a Chicago Sun-Times reporter during a trip from their home in Nashville to visit their son Alex in Chicago." The companion sob story was "The Other Mrs. Blagojevich Speaks.")

When I challenged Korecki on those articles in person years ago - particularly the absence of any tough questioning - she told me that "You get what you can get." Sadly, that's what some journalists believe. In this case, that means you get bullshit, and you publish it. It's the epitome of access journalism - access to bullshit. No wonder Korecki is this town's Robert Blagojevich reporter - always willing to record his latest whine about Jesse Jackson Jr., or quick to get his comment about somesuch, which he's always willing to give to her. No need to wonder why. So, this:

I would agree - if I thought Robert Blagojevich understood at that moment what the ruling said. He probably knew nothing more than what Korecki (wrongly) told him.

Further, it's hard to see how Robert cares, beyond the reflection upon himself and his own case, given that he reportedly has not spoken to his brother since the trial ended, returning to the estrangement that gripped them years before. That might be worth asking about, seeing as how the media played up at trial the defense team's narrative of two brothers reunited for their mother's sake (and not to save their own skins).

See also: Retry Robert!

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"Tells the Sun-Times," like it's an exclusive. Exclusive bullshit.

*

Oops.

By this time, reporters were figuring out why the Blago camp was so depressed.

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Your job is not stenography.

*

In the end, Korecki decided the ruling didn't mean much at all. (Sort of, if you click through.)

After all that.

*

Greg Hinz, of Crain's, latched on to language in the ruling that I'm guessing is most in line with his worldview and twisted it into this:

*

*

Chuck Goudie, of ABC7 Chicago, had the ruling as a win for Blagojevich.

*

This was me from the get-go:

*

And now, doing some correcting:

*

*

One who got it right.

His post.

*

Another who got it right. By this time in the day, the reality of the ruling was starting to sink in.

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Not everyone got the (right) news. Unless . . .

*

Goudie gonna Goudie.

*

NBC5 Chicago got it turned around by the time it went on at 5.

Not what the initial reports indicated, is it?

*

In a display that showed just how bereft Blagojevich's case is, attorney Leonard Goodman stood in front of the family home on Tuesday and made the same arguments that the appellate court had just, in Marin's word, eviscerated.

"Goodman said Tuesday that the appellate court erred in three ways. He said it's relevant that Blagojevich thought his actions were legal . . . "

I didn't discuss it here, but the Easterbrook spends a fair amount of time in the court's order destroying this argument.

" . . . and he said jurors received bad instructions on extortion law."

Dealt with.

"He also said those jurors never heard evidence that Blagojevich tried to separate Senate talks from his efforts to obtain campaign contributions from former U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr."

Only after he thought someone was listening. Besides that, the court said this:

Much of Blagojevich's appellate presentation assumes that extortion can violate the Hobbs Act only if a quid pro quo is demanded explicitly, but the statute does not have a magic words requirement. Few politicians say, on or off the record, "I will exchange official act X for payment Y."

Similarly persons who conspire to rob banks or distribute drugs to not propose or sign contracts in the statutory language.

"Nudge, nudge, wink, wink, you know what I mean" can amount to extortion under the Hobbs Act, just as it can furnish the gist of a Monty Python sketch.

And with that, the Blagojevich farce comes full circle.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 11:00 AM | Permalink

Local Book Notes: Curing Suicide, Weight Loss, Freedom

"Nearly a decade after TV pitchman Kevin Trudeau began hawking the controversial weight-loss book that ultimately landed him in prison, a federal judge tentatively approved a plan Tuesday to send refund checks to hundreds of thousands of people who bought into Trudeau's false promises of shedding pounds while eating steak and ice cream," the Tribune reports.

Did the judge also order remedial education for those who bought the book? You almost want them to be punished, too.

*

"The plan greenlighted by U.S. District Judge Robert Gettleman calls for the Federal Trade Commission to send several rounds of checks to purchasers of the hit book, The Weight Loss Cure 'They' Don't Want You to Know About, using an address list turned over after the government sued Trudeau for lying about the contents of the book in his infomercials.

"More than 800,000 people bought the book that the smooth-talking Trudeau claimed was filled with 'easy' weight-loss techniques when it actually called for prescription injections of a hormone found only in pregnant women, a month of colon hydrotherapy and a 500-calorie-per-day diet."

Heh.

*

"In a recent report detailing Trudeau's finances, the receiver said Trudeau hid tens of millions in an elaborate 'asset protection plan' that diverted funds overseas to banks in Switzerland and the Caribbean as well as various business entities and shell companies controlled by his wife and personal attorney, Marc Lane.

"In all, Trudeau's vast business empire collected more than a half a billion dollars in revenue from 1999 to 2013, and at least $30 million remains unaccounted for, according to the receiver's report.

"On Tuesday, Gettleman said the report was further evidence that Trudeau lied under oath when he repeatedly told the court in 2013 he was penniless, even though he continued to lead a lavish lifestyle that included jetting around the world and enjoying fancy dinners, luxury homes and expensive cigars. The judge said that if Trudeau thinks there will be a 'pot of gold' waiting for him when he's released from prison, he should reconsider.

"'He told me he was broke when he had hundreds of millions of dollars going through his hands,' Gettleman said. 'When he gets out, we're going to be going right back into this.'"

Heh.

*

They didn't call Trudeau the infomercial king for nothing. He was good. Real good.

Suicide Dreaming
"The young U.S. writer Jesse Ball is enjoying a rise to popularity as the creator of dystopian novels written with an experimental edge. His latest is called A Cure for Suicide," the ABC reports.

Yada yada yada.

"As well as writing fiction and poetry, he gives classes in lying and 'lucid dreaming' at the prestigious School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

*

From the Paris Review:

I've read that you teach a course on lying. How does one do that?

"It's just a reappraisal of the general moral position that it's wrong to lie and it's right to tell the truth. That's reductive and silly, since everyone lies all the time. Malicious lying is usually a matter of need, but often the cruelest things we say are the truth. My class goes through different ways of lying, and at the end, it's not like students come out of it as expert liars. What they get from the class is that they can write more precisely without having this very weak idea about the morality of truth and lies - to not parody some idea that is very popular."

Eh. Not as interesting as I thought it'd be.

The Freedom Principle
"[T]he Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago [has] launched the exhibition The Freedom Principle: Experiments in Art and Music, 1965 to Now, co-organized by Naomi Beckwith and Dieter Roelstraete," Kristi McGuire writes on the University Of Chicago Press blog.

"An easy explication for the impetus behind the show takes the viewer to the South Side of Chicago in the 1960s, where African American artists and musicians grappled with new language and forms inspired by the black nationalist turn in the Civil Rights movement.

"I'm plucking that line from the jacket copy, but the show (and its associated book) goes beyond [its important] cultural inventory and instead repositions the wide-ranging experimental works and the community of artists who made them in one particular canon to which they have long-belonged: the history of avant-garde collectives engaged equally in art and social justice."

*

From the MCA's website:

"The exhibition, which takes its title from a 1984 book by Chicago jazz critic John Litweiler, showcases the multifaceted world of the black avant-garde in Chicago during the 1960s alongside a selection of contemporary artists' interpretations of this heritage.

"It includes works of music and art from, among others, AACM-founder, pianist, and painter Muhal Richard Abrams; Art Ensemble of Chicago bandleader Roscoe Mitchell; and AfriCOBRA cofounders Jeff Donaldson, Jae and Wadsworth Jarrell, Barbara Jones-Hogu, and Gerald Williams.

"Archival materials - brochures, banners, photographs, posters, sheet music, record covers- provide a rich context for the exhibition. Recent works by artists such as Terry Adkins, Nick Cave, Renee Green, Rashid Johnson, Lili Reynaud-Dewar, Cauleen Smith, and Stan Douglas present an ongoing intergenerational conversation about experimentation, improvisation, collective action, and the search for freedom.

"Working together across multiple platforms, Catherine Sullivan, George Lewis, Charles Gaines, and Sean Griffin are collaborating on an opera, to be presented on the MCA Stage, and on a related installation within the exhibition.

"A listening station and an online microsite accompany the exhibition, as does a fully illustrated catalogue that includes essays by exhibition curators Naomi Beckwith and Dieter Roelstraete, as well as by leading musicians, composers, artists, and scholars."

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:34 AM | Permalink

Jockeys Ride Elephants Through Chicago!

"An elephant race through Chicago in 1935 is among one million minutes of archive footage being uploaded to YouTube."


*

"Jockeys riding elephants would probably be considered cruel today - but in 1935 it was top banter," the Mirror reports.

"The huge elephants seem happy to help their jockeys aboard and then race along through the streets of Chicago."

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:04 AM | Permalink

Mayor Rahm Vs. Chief Keef

City Hall officials asked an East Pilsen theater not to allow a benefit concert by Chief Keef who was supposed to appear by hologram to help memorialize a toddler killed in the aftermath of a shooting, according to a spokeswoman for Mayor Rahm Emanuel," the Tribune reports.

"On Saturday, Emanuel spokeswoman Kelley Quinn said officials with Emanuel's office reached out to urge Redmoon [Theater] officials to not allow the concert by Keef, whose real name is Keith Cozart.

"The mayor's administration called Redmoon and informed them that the show by Mr. Cozart, whose music promotes violence, posed a significant public safety risk," Quinn said.

Okay, there's all kinds of wrong going on here.

1. "The plan for the Chicago concert was to project a hologram of Chief Keef on a stage built into a parked semitrailer as the rapper sang on a soundstage in Beverly Hills, Calif."

That was a horrible idea destined for failure - and I won't even make the requisite Redmoon Theater joke here (or did I just?).

Why the hologram?

"Organizers said Chief Keef couldn't attend the concert in person because of outstanding warrants out for him. Records show a July 2014 warrant out for nonpayment of child support and a warrant issued last year out of Lake County for driving under the influence of drugs."

2. "[Alki] David's company Hologram USA also planned to live-stream the concert on filmon.com and charge a $50 minimum donation to attend, Hologram USA spokesman Owen Phillips said."

That's a bit much to see a hologram.

3. "Any money raised at the concert, and matched by Chief Keef and David, reportedly would to go to the family of the boy."

What boy?

"According to Keef's promoters, the concert was planned after Dillan Harris, 13 months, was killed on July 11 when a car struck his stroller on a sidewalk in the 6300 block of South Ellis Avenue in the Woodlawn neighborhood.

"Antoine Watkins, 21, of the 8100 block of South Bennett Avenue in Chicago, was charged Monday with murder and attempting to elude police in connection with Harris' death.

"Police say Watkins was fleeing the shooting of Marvin Carr, a Chicago rapper known as Capo who was affiliated with Chief Keef. Carr, 22, was shot in the 7700 block of South Kingston Avenue in the South Shore neighborhood and later died, according to authorities."

So Keef, in a way, was taking some measure of responsibility for the death of Harris - or at least trying to show some compassion for an incident to which he was associated with.

Still, it seems like an odd way to do that.

4. "Redmoon on Thursday said it would not host the concert because it did not 'understand the full nature of the event.'"

What the fuck does that mean?

More likely, Redmoon didn't want to damage its extraordinary relationship with the mayor, which has somehow snagged another $100,000 in taxpayer money to set a fire - this time on Northerly Island.

5. As much as the concert may not have been a good idea, it's also not a good idea for the city to decide what kinds of art are acceptable. Safety concerns weren't the only ones, you see, voiced by the city.

"The city called Redmoon and requested that they not host the event," mayoral spokesperson Kelley Quinn told the Sun-Times. "The reasons were pretty clear: Not only is he an unacceptable role model, but he promotes violence."

It's not up to Rahm Emanuel to decide who is an acceptable role model.

6. Rev. Michael Pfleger didn't help matters, despite the backing of a media that likes to tally weekend violence for clicks and self-satisfaction but doesn't seem to understand it.

From the Sun-Times:

Forget the concert. Send a check instead.

That's Father Michael Pfleger's response to rapper Chief Keef's plan to hold a concert in memory of a rapper friend slain in gun violence over the weekend, as well as a toddler who died in the aftermath.

Earlier Monday, Pfleger had an even more blunt message for the rapper on his Facebook page: "SHUT UP!!!!!"

Nice.

"Chief Keef has announced that he will hold a benefit concert to raise funds for his friend and the Baby who were killed this past weekend....REALLY...Chief Keef is one of the reasons we have all this violence...he has been one of the encourager's of the Violence," wrote the outspoken pastor who has taken to the pulpit and the streets to fight gun violence.

Right. Let's blame Chief Keef. He's the one who segregated the city and created the ghettos and closed 50 schools and moved TIF districts from blighted areas to the Loop and raises interest rates every time too many people get jobs and maintains the economic structure dependent on cheap labor and a permanent underclass - and endorsed Rahm.

"Instead of having a concert...why doesn't he Man Up and acknowledge it's time to stop this violence and Apologize for his part in it!!!! we don't need a concert...we need PEACE......7 DEAD and 24 SHOT this weekend and he wants to do a concert.....Chief Keef....SHUT UP!!!!!" the post ends.

Within five hours of the post being put up on Facebook, it had more than 400 likes.

Is that a lot? Pfleger's rudimentary complaint about Donald Trump has more than 2,700 likes. His Facebook page is liked by more than 69,000 people.

Later Monday, Pfleger branded Keef a hypocrite for this week announcing the formation of a new anti-violence foundation, while embracing violence through his music.

Isn't Keef forming an anti-violence foundation exactly what has been asked of him by the likes of Pfleger? And I'm not sure his music "embraces" violence. Where he grew up isn't exactly Mai Tais and Yahtzee.

Pfleger said the rapper could be a "very strong voice for peace. But the question is, does he have the courage to be the voice for peace?"

I think we're trying to find out. Squelching him doesn't help.

7. For his part, Keef released this statement:

"I'm with the 'Stop The Violence' campaign. That's why I paintball now. Everybody go pick up some paintball lessons, go to the field. I think it's a big deal to do that. It's crazy back home. I'm glad to be someone that people can look up to and listen to. I'm glad that I can be able to change the situation and the scenery that's going on around Chicago. I love my city still."

Look, the dude has at least some degree of talent. And he's a paintball nut. He's really into it. If he thinks it will help to encourage gangbangers to drop the guns and pick up paintball, well, okay. He's probably not going to be the one to come up with solutions, though, y'all understand.

But then, neither is Pfleger. And neither is Rahm. They've had their chance.

8. The Tribune editorial page sees what it wants to see.

Father Pfleger had it exactly right. His outrage was precise, on point. His words were far more productive than a Chief Keef rap concert, which isn't going to happen anyway.

Pfleger's ranting was hardly precise. And in what way was it productive? Did he get the concert stopped? If so, are you telling me that the city would have been fine with it if not for Pfleger's political pressure? We're now going to let Pfleger decide who gets to play shows here? I don't seem to remember Pfleger complaining about Rahm Emanuel attending a Robin Thicke concert and dancing to the rapey, Cosby-esque "Blurred Lines."

It wasn't that long ago that fellow Chicago rapper Che "Rhymefest" Smith called Chief Keef "a spokesman for the Prison Industrial Complex."

A spokesman for the prison-industrial complex, or its inevitable result? I'd peg the Tribune as spokespeople for the prison-industrial complex a hundred times over before it would even occur to me to lay that on Keef.

"He represents the senseless savagery that white people see when the news speaks of Chicago violence," Smith wrote in a 2012 online essay.

That's racist, y'all.

It's not about what white people see on the news - black people are appalled by the news too. It's also about the images the news perpetuates about violence that warps people's perceptions. Also, savagery is a pretty loaded word choice. Who are the real savages?

Chief Keef grew up in Englewood, where drugs, gangs and guns are embedded in the landscape. Some of his earliest recordings were made while he was 16, living with his grandmother under house arrest for allegedly pointing a gun at a police officer. He's lost a stepbrother and a cousin to street violence.

And you wonder about his music?

In the meantime, we hope Keef is busy writing lots of songs. If he wants to be a change agent, he's going to need some new material.

The same could be said of Rahm Emanuel - and the Tribune editorial page.

-

Previously in Chief Keef:

* South Side 16-Year-Old Gets Shot, Blows Up.

* Rhymefest Vs. Chief Keef.

* Chief Keef's Deadly Rap War.

* More Shit Chief Keef Don't Like.

* Chief Keef Loves Soda, Ain't White.

* Chief Keef: Baller Of Confusion.

* Free Chief Keef!

* Save Chief Keef.

* Chief Keef: Psychedrillic.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 5:22 AM | Permalink

Chicago's Statues Speak

Starting in Chicago.

The Beachwood has an exclusive preview:

* The Art Institute Lions: "Bob ROHR-man!"

* The Picasso: "Good statues copy, great statues speak."

* The Bean: "Don't touch me."

* Crown Fountain: "Hey kid, do you want some candy?"

* Miro's Chicago: "I'm surreal too!"

* John Altgeld: "But I don't want to be a housing project!"

* Abraham Lincoln: "No, it's not smartphone neck. I'm just shakin' my head over Illinois."

* The Wrigley Field Noodle: "I'm a noodle, what am I doing here."

* Jack Brickhouse: "I'd rather be at Wrigley."

* Oz Park's Tin Man: "Oil can! Oil can!"

* Batcolumn: "I'm Batcolumn."

* The Michael Jordan: "I'm still better than LeBron. Also, where are all the women?"

*

But why stop at statues? Other parts of Chicago should be allowed to speak too.

* Every Parking Meter Pay Box: "Exxxcellent."

* The Wrigley Urinals: "I hate myself and want to die."

* The Principal's Phone at Payton Prep: "Rauner used me!"

* Ed Burke's Phone: "He acts like I'm bugged!"

* The Walls of the Mayor's Office: "It's ten times worse than you think it is."

Contributing: Tim Willette, Natasha Julius, Tom Chambers, Steve Rhodes

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 4:39 AM | Permalink

Chicago's Strictest Parents

Er, not really.

I kinda love these folks - and I'm not really a rules and discipline kind of guy.

But let me back up.

I came across this episode on YouTube of a show called World's Strictest Parents. This particular installment features a Chicago couple - though their block looks awfully suburban to me - from 2013. I was surprised by what I saw.

See, I was expecting parents whose strictness was beyond reason. That's not them at all. I love you, DeWayne and Vanessa Davis!

While I wouldn't necessarily have wanted to live in their house, I found them to be eminently fair in their parenting.

And the kids from England sent to live with them? Awful.

*

Here's the episode description:

Two rebellious British teenagers experience strict parenting on the other side of the world, as rule-breaker Alex Miles and selfish diva Dina Darweish get new parents in Chicago.

For a week they must live with the Davis family. Dad DeWayne is the pastor of a church in Chicago's West Side, a predominantly African-American neighbourhood. As a man who experienced the trauma of the Chicago riots in the late '60s, he has personal insight into how to resolve conflict.

Today, he believes that that the best way to get teenagers to toe the line is to build good relationships with them in a warm, loving family home. But despite their loving nature, the Davises don't back down when it comes to setting firm boundaries.

Completely out of his parents' control in the UK, Alex is set for a battle of wills with DeWayne over his lack of respect and dishonesty. Dina learns the value of having a father figure in her life and starts to question the way in which she has been treating her own mum.

I found DeWayne's philosophy quite insightful. He called it Rules + Relationship. You need both, he said, because if you only have rules, kids will rebel; if you only have a relationship, kids will become spoiled; thus, you need both to have healthy parent-child dynamic.

*

DeWayne grew up at 4818 West Superior in West Garfield Park.

The show doesn't identify where the Davis's live now.

DeWayne is a pastor at the New Morning Star M.B. Church on the West Side; here's his bio.

*

Finally, here's the show:

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:52 AM | Permalink

July 21, 2015

The [Wednesday] Papers

I posted a buttload of stuff to the site today, and - at 2 p.m. - I'm just getting around to the column, which I always do last. So you know what?

I'm just gonna direct you to everything else.

Blago Ruling Indicts Media
False impressions went around the world before truth got its Twitter on.

Mayor Emanuel vs. Chief Keef
Not a good look for anyone.

Chicago's Strictest Parents
Meet DeWayne and Vanessa Davis.

Chicago's Statues Speak!
Another Beachwood special report.

Cures 'They' Don't Want You To Know About
In Local Book Notes.

Jockeys Ride Elephants Through Chicago!
Let it ride on Babe the 50-year-old filly.

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BeachBook
* Pitchfork Welcomes Polyglot Of Styles.

* Patrick Kane Plays One Direction At Rockit.

* The Chicago Waddlers' Midnight Dan.

* Schaumburg Kuma's Corner Enjoying Early Success.

* New York Times Weekly Hate Read.

* Judge: CIA, Pentagon May Still Neither Confirm Nor Deny Records Exist On U.S. Citizens Killed By Drones.

* MUST-READ: The Spirit Of Judy Miller Is Alive And Well At The NYT, And It Does Great Damage.

* Entrepreneurs Don't Have A Special Gene For Risk - They're Rich Kids With Safety Nets.

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TweetWood
A sampling.

*

*

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Book it.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 2:46 PM | Permalink

The [Tuesday] Papers

"A Northwest Side alderman long at odds with Mayor Rahm Emanuel put a temporary halt Monday to a street closure as the city prepares to install a digital billboard that would tower over the Kennedy Expressway," the Tribune reports.

"Giving aldermen advance notice of major work in their wards is routine at City Hall, but Ald. John Arena, 45th, said that courtesy was not afforded in this case."

Where'd Rahm's sweater go?

*

"By the time Arena showed up at the site early Monday morning - several days after the project started - workers already had torn up part of Wilson Avenue, where it parallels the Kennedy before curving onto Lamon Avenue. That's where the electronic billboard is set to go up. It's about a block southeast of where the Emanuel administration was authorized to put the sign on the lawn near the Mayfair Water Pumping Station.

"The city did not give me one bit of information before they started the work," said Arena, before comparing what happened to a certain high-profile move by former Mayor Richard M. Daley. "There is no reason to do a Meigs Field on a project like this. You consult the community."

Like a crappy boyfriend who used a lot of fast talk to win you back, it turns out Rahm hasn't changed. They never do.

*

Hint to opponents: Start building your 2019 campaign now.

*

"The digital billboard was approval by the City Council in late 2012 as part of a public-private contract the city signed with a giant French advertising firm to generate revenue for the city's cash-strapped coffers.

"Arena voted against the deal but said his concerns now have to do with the changed location."

I was in city council chambers when that deal went down; it was clear then that Rahm wasn't about to let any stinkin' alderman have a role in deciding where in their wards these bright behemoths would go.

*

"Closing the road will limit the exit of trucks, including 44 city garbage trucks that use a parking lot on Lamon, to a northern route that will worsen congestion on Lawrence Avenue, Arena said.

"The exit from the area onto Wilson was 'a relief valve for a very congested area that's now closed off,' he said.

"City transportation officials, however, said they believe Lawrence can handle the traffic. They say they're closing off the street for safety reasons because the road running alongside the Kennedy had a 'history of excessive speeding' that led to crashes from cars losing control at a curve. They also said trucks leaving the area had hit a low-clearance viaduct. The city, however, did not provide accident data to back up either assertion."

Enough said.

No-Snitch Code
"A Chicago investigator who determined that several civilian shootings by police officers were unjustified was fired after resisting orders to reverse those findings, according to internal records of his agency obtained by WBEZ," the station reports.

"Scott M. Ando, chief administrator of the city's Independent Police Review Authority, informed its staff in a July 9 e-mail that the agency no longer employed supervising investigator Lorenzo Davis, 65, a former Chicago police commander. IPRA investigates police-brutality complaints and recommends any punishment."

Well, maybe he was tardy a lot, or drank on the job. Let's not jump to conclusions.

"Davis's termination came less than two weeks after top IPRA officials, evaluating Davis's job performance, accused him of 'a clear bias against the police' and called him 'the only supervisor at IPRA who resists making requested changes as directed by management in order to reflect the correct finding with respect to OIS,' as officer-involved shootings are known in the agency."

Oh.

*

"Since its 2007 creation, IPRA has investigated nearly 400 civilian shootings by police and found one to be unjustified."

Is it possible to believe Chicago police are just that good?

Sure. But it's also possible to believe Donald Trump would make a great president.

*

"WBEZ asked to interview Ando, promoted last year by Mayor Rahm Emanuel to head the agency."

Ding, ding, ding!

*

"The station also sent Ando's spokesman questions about sticking points between IPRA investigators and managers, about the agency's process for overturning investigative findings, and about the reasons the agency had reversed many of Davis's findings.

"The spokesman said there would be no interview and sent this statement: 'This is a personnel matter that would be inappropriate to address through the media, though the allegations are baseless and without merit. IPRA is committed to conducting fair, unbiased, objective, thorough and timely investigations of allegations of police misconduct and officer-involved shootings.'"

1. It's inappropriate not to address this matter through the media - even if it turns out Davis was relieved of his duties because he drank on the job. (That's just an example; I have no reason to believe this is the case.) Particularly at this moment in time, it is of supreme public interest to know exactly why Davis was fired.

2. What allegations are baseless - that he was criticized for not being a team player in a recent review; that he was fired for that very reason; or that IPRA is fixing its cases?

3. IPRA's investigations are provably untimely, and arguably unthorough.

*

"Davis says he helped investigate more than a dozen shootings by police at the agency. He says his superiors had no objections when his team recommended exonerating officers. The objections came, he says, after each finding that a shooting was unjustified. He says there were six of those cases.

"They have shot people dead when they did not have to shoot," Davis said about those officers. "They were not in reasonable fear for their lives. The evidence shows that the officer knew, or should have known, that the person who they shot was not armed or did not pose a threat to them or could have been apprehended by means short of deadly force."

"Davis says he can't go into detail about the cases because some are still pending and because the city considers them confidential."

Keep this in mind:

"Davis served in the police department for 23 years. As a commander, he headed detective units, the department's Austin district and, finally, its public-housing unit. He retired from the department in 2004 . . .

"IPRA hired Davis as an investigator in 2008. Two years later, around the time he completed a master's degree in criminal justice, IPRA promoted him to lead a team of five investigators.

"Through most of his IPRA tenure, Davis's performance evaluations showered him with praise. They called him an 'effective leader' and 'excellent team player.'"

That was until Rahm promoted Ando to head the unit. The mayor's office, of course, refused to comment.

*

So who is Ando?

Well, he came to IPRA from the DEA.

You know what that means, right?

*

In 2014, Ando "vehemently denied" participating in a "code of silence" alleged in federal court.

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Chicagoetry: Dancing With Men
Remembering Neo.

Badass BMX In Chicago
Sick shit, y'all.

Pitchfork P.S.
Featuring: Bully, Run The Jewels, Viet Cong, Waxahatchee, Natalie Prass, The Julie Ruin, Vince Staple, Perfume Genius, Single Mothers, Bitchin Bajas, Todd Terje, and Jamie xx.

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BeachBook
* Frenemies Hershey, Mondelez, Kraft Heinz Come Together To Push S'mores.

* The Best And Most Accurate Headline Ever.

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TweetWood
A sampling.

*

Way to negotiate, Rahm! Did you enter into a credit swaps deal with them too?

*

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Where credit is due.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:50 AM | Permalink

Pitchfork P.S.

Previous coverage at The Weekend In Chicago Rock.

1. Bully on Saturday.


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2. Run The Jewels on Sunday night.

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3. Viet Cong on Sunday.

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4. Waxahatchee on Sunday.

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5. Natalie Prass on Friday.

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6. The Julie Ruin on Sunday.

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7. Vince Staples on Saturday.

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8. Perfume Genius on Sunday.

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9. Single Mothers on Sunday.

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10. Bitchin Bajas on Sunday.

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11. Todd Terje on Sunday night.

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12. Jamie xx on Sunday.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:47 AM | Permalink

Badass BMX

1. BMX Day in Chicago.

From BMX Union:

Saturday, July 18th was international BMX day. Monster Energy threw a massive 5 event day with Street Series jams going down in Riga, Latvia, Glasgow, Scotland, Nagoya, Japan, Chicago, Illinois and San Francisco, California. BMX Union is excited to present to you a video from the Monster Energy Street Series stop in Chicago! Despite being incredibly hot with temps in the 90's, there was a massive turn out of riders. This video features riding from Timmy Theus, Dan Kruk, Trent McDaniel, Joe Jarvis, Dylan Gold, Alex Duleba, Mike Stahl, Austin Auginbaugh, Julias Carrasquillo, Dylan McCauley, Mike Strong and Carlo Hoffmann! Filmed and edited by Andrew Brady.


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2. Mic'd Up.

From Ride BMX:

Lacey is one straight-forward, funny mother fucker. So, when I strapped to a mic to him at the beginning of the Chicago stop of The Street Series, I knew this would end up being a long edit. From dealing with security, whispering sweet nothings in my ear, and talking a bit of shit, Lacey pretty much had commentary for everything. Besides a couple of missed clips at the last spot (I had to go get something to drink), I think this video does a pretty proper job of showing all the good times that were had in Chicago. Thanks to Monster for organizing this, Kachinsky for doing the ground work, Lacey for being a part of this, and all the locals for coming out and making #bmxday a huge success.

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3. R.I.P. Glenn Salyers.

The BMX community took a massive blow this morning with the news that Glenn Salyers has passed away as a result of a tragic motorcycle accident. Glenn was an incredibly talented man on a bike, and the outpouring of grief and support via social media this morning proves he was an amazing person as well. We will follow up with more information when it becomes available, but for the time being please feel free to use the comments as an open forum to share any stories or memories of Glenn. Best wishes to his friends and family.

For those of you who may not be familiar, check out his completely incredible video of Glenn that dropped a couple of months ago above, and more amazing videos here.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:08 AM | Permalink

Chicagoetry: Dancing With Men

DANCING WITH MEN
Remembering Neo

My blood would chill
And the micro-hairs
On the back of my neck
Would stiffen

Whenever the trill,
The sinister wobble,
Of the opening to
"She Sells Sanctuary"

Oozed ominously
From the mega-speakers.

One lady friend,
Now a professional dancer,
Took my hand insistently
And the game was on.

Sing:

Neo, Smart Bar,
Artful Dodger,

Exit, Octagon,
Club 950 (&

Let's don't forget
Lizard Lounge).

Now: unless you accompanied
A lady friend,
At the time,

You were dancing with men.

At the time,

My boys and I
Un-self-consciously
Made the scene
To go dancing.

We weren't cruising,
We weren't binge-ing.

We were dancing.

And if you intended
To dance with a woman
You'd better bring a friend.
It wasn't

That kind of dancing.
Once, at Smart Bar,
I asked a girl
Who, mid-dance,

Spontaneously shimmied
Into my space,
For a second dance.

And she laughed
In my face.

Like the time Gang of Four
Played Mabel's,
And a lithe red-head
Jumped into my space

And we danced to the pummeling
Bass of Ms. Sara Lee
Like Rogers and Astaire.
When the tune ended,

After she jumped
In my space,
I asked her name
And she laughed

In my face.

Unless you accompanied
A female friend
You were dancing
With men.

Sing: Neo, Smart Bar,
Artful Dodger,

Exit, Octagon,
Club 950 (&

Let's don't forget
Lizard Lounge).

And so you might
Bring a female friend
Who wouldn't come
Unless she knew

You could take care of business.
Which was nice.

Say: you haven't jitterbugged

Until you've jitterbugged
With a woman
Who could jitterbug

To "Lust for Life."

If it was "Temptation"
I'd be dancing with

Myself.
If it was "Rebel, Rebel,"
I was once again

Dancing with men.
Sing...

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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 12:49 AM | Permalink

July 20, 2015

The [Monday] Papers

"With less than two months until school starts and a massive hole in the Chicago Public Schools budget, officials are planning as much as $1.16 billion in long-term borrowing," the Tribune reports.

Well, that's just what Rahm Emanuel told us he'd do during his campaign last spring.

Heh-heh.

*

Actually Rahm campaigned on getting pension relief and an expanded sales tax from Springfield. And they said Chuy Garcia had no plan!

*

I would prefer Chuy about now, who would have already gathered all the city's and schools' stakeholders to come up with a plan together, in order to get buy-in to take measures such as raising property taxes, diverting surplus TIF funds to CPS, aggressively challenging banks' bad behavior, and finding real consensus for real shared sacrifice. Couldn't be worse than what Rahm is doing.

*

Not that Chuy was great shakes. I was never under any illusion about that. But if you wanted more of the same, you got it. I would have preferred a different approach, borne of a different set of values and priorities. And I would venture to say a better relationship with the Chicago Teachers Union would have been for the better, not the worse, as Rahm's campaign - and some members of the media - contended. Finally, David Vitale may be gone, but it's still a Rahm-centric board. How well has that worked out?

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"Even as Mayor Rahm Emanuel has held the line on property taxes, revenue from other local levies has climbed nearly 20 percent since he took office," Crain's reports.

Rahm Emanuel, regressive Democrat.

*

"CPS' New Funding Formula Risks A Repeat Of The School-Closing Debacle," Greg Hinz writes for Crain's.

First, Hinz endorsed Rahm despite the school-closing debacle - which was hardly his only one. Doesn't a debacle that large disqualify someone from a journalist's backing, if not the voters'?

Second: "A policy in which money follows the kids, whether they go to charters or neighborhood schools, could put classrooms in the middle of an ugly, winner-take-all contest."

You voted for it, Greg. And encouraged others to do so as well.

*

Rahm's vision: Pit schools against schools. Make them compete. Some schools will invariably lose. Sucks to be those kids.

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Beachwood Radio: It's A Shame About CPS
Someone really ought to do something about it.

Plus: Donald Trump vs. Mark Kirk; and the Rock 'N' Roll Confederacy.

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The White Sox Report: Once (Or Twice) Is Not Enough*
Debunking the delusion.

*Featuring a staged Tribune photo!

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The Art Of Staying Out The Way
What the fuck you gonna do, except hustle?

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The 4 Lies Adults Tell The Most
Now including "I have a financial plan!"

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The Weekend In Chicago Rock: Pitchfork Plus
Featuring: Sleater-Kinney, Ex Hex, Courtney Barnett, Chvrches, Wilco, Vic Mensa, Chance the Rapper, Parquet Courts, Ought, The Sueves, Tweens, Future Islands, Shamir, Protomartyr, How To Dress Well, Caribou, Mac DeMarco, Rise Against, Panda Bear, Future Brown, A$AP Ferg, Ariel Pink, Freezepop, Super 8 & Tab, Machine Gun Kelly, Foghat, Whitesnake, and (sort of) Taylor Swift.

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BeachBook
* Ohio Capital Gives Redflex Red Light.

* The Misconception Of NBA Players And Free Agency.

* Sleuths Tracing 1st Black Male Slave Freed By Lincoln To Pekin.

* Blackhawks Say Anaheim Was Biggest Obstacle To Cup.

* Young Parents Learn To Love Chicago, Even With Toddlers In Tow.

* A Fresh Look At The Chicago Megacity.

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TweetWood
A sampling.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: More of the same.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:55 PM | Permalink

The Art Of Staying Out The Way

"The Art of Staying Out the Way is book written by Andre Smith. This 'Pledge on Staying Out the Way' is a section from the book."


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Andre G. Smith.

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Previously from Smith:

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See also: Dre Smittie's YouTube channel.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:10 AM | Permalink

The 4 Most Common White Lies Adults Have Told

Things aren't always what they seem - 90% of adults admit to having told a white lie.

KRC Research's Pulse Poll asked adults to be honest about when they're not being honest, and revealed the most common things you should question that someone tells you.

Here are the four most common things adults admit to having lied about:

  • Their whereabouts. Your friend might not be where they say they are - 35% of adults have lied about their whereabouts.
  • Their preferences. Does your sweetheart really want to go see the newest chick flick? 29% of adults have lied about their preferences.
  • Their income. Champagne tastes on a beer budget - 22% of adults have lied about how much money they make.
  • Their age. There's no harm in skipping a birthday . . . or a few - 16% of adults have lied about how old they are.

Less common lies adults have told include their relationship status (14%), their professional qualifications (10%) and their height (6%).

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Comments welcome.

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1. From Steve Rhodes:

* No, I did not drink your last beer.

* No, I did not smoke your last cigarette.

* Of course I wore a condom.

* No, I did not bet your paycheck on Papa's Mustache in the 4th.

2. From Natasha Julius:

* Grandma went to Heaven.

3. From Tom Chambers:

* Then this oil truck hit the car. It was horrible.

* It's not you, it's me.

* The bus was late.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:56 AM | Permalink

The Weekend In Chicago Rock

You shoulda been there.

1. Sleater-Kinney at Pitchfork on Saturday night.


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2. Ex Hex at Pitchfork on Saturday.

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3. Courtney Barnett at Pitchfork on Sunday.

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4. Chvrches at Pitchfork on Friday.

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5. Wilco at Pitchfork on Friday night.

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6. Vic Mensa at Pitchfork on Saturday night.

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7. Chance the Rapper at Pitchfork on Sunday night.

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8. Parquet Courts at Pitchfork on Saturday.

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9. Ought at Pitchfork on Friday night.

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10. The Sueves at the Empty Bottle on Friday night.

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11. Tweens at the Empty Bottle on Friday night.

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12. Future Islands at Pitchfork on Saturday.

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13. Shamir at Pitchfork on Saturday.

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14. Protomartyr at Pitchfork on Saturday.

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15. How To Dress Well at Pitchfork on Sunday.

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16. Caribou at Pitchfork on Sunday.

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17. Mac DeMarco at Pitchfork on Saturday.

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18. Rise Against on Northerly Island on Friday night.

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19. Panda Bear at Pitchfork on Friday.

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20. Future Brown at Pitchfork on Saturday.

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21. A$AP Ferg at Pitchfork on Saturday.

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22. Ariel Pink at Lincoln Hall for a Pitchfork after-party on Saturday night.

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23. Freezepop at Subterranean on Thursday night.

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24. Super 8 & Tab feat. Julie Thompson at the Mid on Saturday night.

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25. Machine Gun Kelly at the Concord on Sunday night.

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26. Foghat at Vasa Park in South Elgin on Friday night.

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27. Whitesnake at Vasa Park in South Elgin on Friday night.

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Or you could have gone to see Taylor Swift at Soldier Field on Saturday night. See what I mean?

See also: Lydia Loveless vs. Taylor Swift.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:52 AM | Permalink

Once (Or Twice) Is Not Enough

I didn't want to fall for the hype, but when the succession of convertibles carrying members of the 2005 World Champion White Sox rolled in from center field on Saturday, my interest was piqued.

I mean, that was a decade ago, a piece of history. I'm mired in the present, trying to digest this latest dismal edition of the South Side team. The short speeches by Aaron Rowand, Jermaine Dye, Orlando (El Duque) Hernandez, Jon Garland, Scott Podsednik, Paul Konerko, and Ozzie Guillen were not particularly unique. All of them thanked the fans for their support and said how happy they were to return to the scene of their greatest success.

I watched on TV, including the ensuing 7-6 13-inning loss to the front-running Royals. The Sox made a gallant effort, staging a ninth-inning rally after two outs to tie the game at 6 on J.B. Shuck's two-run double, before Lorenzo Cain's home run decided things.

But evidently Saturday's scene made an impression because Sunday morning I was glued to the video highlights of the playoffs and World Series from 10 years ago. A.J. "stole" first base; Paulie smacked the grand slam; and Scotty Pods' walk-off sunk the Astros. Geoff Blum lined an unlikely homer in the third game in Houston, and Juan Uribe flew into the seats to snag that pop-up. All were delicious moments, hurling me back in time to when it felt really special and good to be a Sox fan.

The video piece that the White Sox created for Saturday had statements from fans about their experience in 2005. One fan said that he and his buddies ran outside after the four-game sweep over the Astros and poured Champagne over one another, emulating what was going on in the clubhouse in Houston.

And that's the heart of these experiences. The athletes provide the backdrop, the drama, and the accomplishments. But the attraction focuses on reliving those events, recalling where we were, whom we were with, and how we reacted. On that rainy, damp evening that featured Paulie's slam and Pods' exclamation mark at the end of the Series' second game - the last one played at The Cell since the Sox completed the sweep in Houston - my brother and oldest son had seats behind home plate. Win or lose, we planned to meet after the game at Miller's Pub, a location not unfamiliar to us. Along with other friends and family, we didn't spill the Champagne. We drank it far into the next morning.

In the ALDS clincher in Boston, when El Duque entered in the sixth inning with the bases loaded and no one out, our Sox were clinging to a 4-3 lead. It must have been unseasonably warm in Chicago that night because my pal Tom had the ceiling fan spinning in his living room as we nervously watched El Duque induce Jason Varitek and then Tony Graffinino to pop out. When he got Johnny Damon swinging on a ball in the dirt, Tom jumped off the couch, threw his hands in the air, and made solid contact with the fan.

He never felt a thing. Or if he did, he wasn't saying. The moment was too precious.

My brother John, a former minor league executive, had a close friend, Bill Blackwell, who happened to be general manager of the White Sox Triple-A affiliate in Charlotte in 2005. Bill called to say that no one from his office would be coming to Chicago for the AL playoffs, and would we be interested in the tickets allotted to the Charlotte club? Well, yes, and there we were with four choice seats behind the plate for the games against the Angels and Red Sox.

The president of the Charlotte club used two of the seats for the World Series. We had the other two.

This was in stark contrast to the Sox' other appearance in a World Series in my lifetime in 1959. The nights prior to Games 1 and 6, four of us ventured to Comiskey Park and camped outside the bleacher gate, joining a few hundred fans waiting for center field seats that went on sale at 8 a.m. the next morning. The Tribune sent a photographer to snap some shots before the first game. He staged us, telling us to pretend we were asleep. That's me second from the right. Hell, we never slept at all. We were too excited.

P1010441.JPG

Sox owner Bill Veeck used to say that the "Fedoras" tended to gobble up tickets for events like a World Series while the working class was left at a distinct disadvantage. Bill believed that the Sox had a good chance to repeat as AL champs in 1960, so he came up with an idea where fans who attended the most games would be rewarded with Series ducats. Green folders were passed out at the ballpark whereby we could insert our ticket stubs from the games we attended. Each folder held 30 stubs. Season ticketholders would get first crack if the Sox won the pennant again. But the rest of us were asked to mail in our folders in mid-September. The instructions proclaimed, "TICKETS AVAILABLE FOR DISTRIBUTION WILL BE SENT TO FANS WHO HAVE ATTENDED THE MOST GAMES."

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Of course, the Sox finished third as the Yankees ran away with yet another American League pennant, and we were left with our folders full of ticket stubs. Brother John was on his second folder. He had 40 stubs in all - out of 77 home games - which was quite a feat considering that he was a high school senior in the spring and a college freshman in the fall.

When the White Sox made their stirring run to the championship 10 years ago, many fans of my generation thought, "Well, now I'm satisfied. The Sox won a World Series, and no matter what happens the rest of my life, I can say that I saw them win it all."

That thinking was totally delusional. Having an exhilarating dose of White Sox World Series highlights, seeing almost-forgotten players like Timo Perez and Cliff Politte along with the heroes of 2005, and recalling the joy and pride of a once-in-a-lifetime experience, I journeyed to The Cell on Sunday. This was not smart.

Chris Sale wasn't quite himself, giving up four runs and 11 hits in six-plus innings. He struck out only six Royals as the White Sox went down 4-1. Only recent call-up Tyler Saladino's first big-league home run in the ninth inning averted a shutout.

Watching Melky Cabrera double to lead off an inning only to be thrown out at third on a grounder to short made me forget all about my edict of 10 years ago. Seeing Saladino bunt runners to second and third only to have Jose Abreu and Cabrera follow by striking out elicited groans from this observer.

Should I be content watching runners left in scoring position time after time? Should I simply overlook the fact that four guys in the Sox lineup Sunday were hitting .224 or less? Do we attribute Adam LaRoche's nine home runs and 33 RBI to poor luck?

It would be healthy relief to be able to adhere to the rationale from a decade ago. But we're fans. We like to see our team win. We beg them to hustle and give 100 percent. Playing the game the way it's supposed to be played would be a welcome development. We don't necessarily need another World Series, but .500 would be nice. Is that asking too much?

Chances are I'll revisit those video highlights from 2005 in the very near future.

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

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:52 AM | Permalink

July 19, 2015

The Beachwood Radio Hour #62: It's A Shame About CPS

Someone really ought to do something about it. Plus: Donald Trump vs. Mark Kirk; and the Rock 'N' Roll Confederacy.


SHOW NOTES

:00: Strawberry Rock Show.

1:15: Martin Kember at Township on Tuesday night.

3:47: Donald Trump vs. Mark Kirk.

* Donald Trump Uses Old Al Franken POW Joke About John McCain.

* Who Is Mark Kirk? Two Pols In A Pod.

* Tammy Duckworthless (see item No. 6).

* Andrea Zoppless:

18:24: Jill Scott at Northerly Island last Saturday night.

19:35: Trump P.S.

* Trump was actually attacked - by liberals - for each of his previous horrible statements. It's conservatives who are now joining in. Let's get that right.

* Also:

21:36: Forrest Christ.

* Apparatchik.

* Saint.

* Transcript: Rahm Asks Blago To Appoint Claypool To Congress.

* What if everyone sent their kids to CPS?

* How White People And The U.S. Government Created School Districts Like CPS.

46:23: Kinky at the Cobra Lounge last Saturday night.

47:43: Rock 'N' Roll Confederacy.

* 20 Tweets: The Charlie Daniels Band.

* Define irony:

* @tanehisicoates.

* Patterson Hood: The South's Heritage Is So Much More Than A Flag.

* Patterson Hood vs. The Beachwood.

* Tom Petty On Past Confederate Flag Use.

* Dave Stewart.

1:01: Lil Kim at the Shrine on Thursday night.

1:02:26: Loving Public Education - For Others.

1:06:47: EFF Sues For Records About 'Hemisphere' Phone Call Collection And Drug Enforcement Program.

1:08: Laura Poitras Sues U.S. Government To Uncover Records After Years Of Airport Detentions And Searches

1:09:03: TrackNotes: True Justice For Arlington Park, California Chrome.

STOPPAGE: 10:26

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For archives and other Beachwood shows, see The Beachwood Radio Network.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 4:19 PM | Permalink

July 18, 2015

The Weekend Desk Report

"The National Weather Service has issued a heat advisory for Saturday when temperatures are expected to be in the middle 90s but it will feel like 105 to 110 degrees," the Tribune reports.

If you want to cool down, go stand next to Rahm. His heart is forecast to remain below freezing and will feel even colder.

Market Report
Have Corn Prices Peaked?

Yes.

Portfolio District
"When Synesi Associates applied for Chicago Public Schools business working with struggling city high schools, it gave a seemingly impeccable reference, Barbara Byrd-Bennett, CPS' chief executive officer, documents obtained by the Chicago Sun-Times show.

"Synesi, which had never gotten any business from the Chicago schools before, got the job. But things didn't work out the way that Synesi's owners or Byrd-Bennett - a former employee of the north suburban educational consulting firm - hoped.

"The plan was for the company to do work at eight Chicago high schools - and get paid $1.9 million for that, the newly obtained records show. But state education officials overseeing the grant program Synesi was hired under called a halt to its involvement, questioning its qualifications."

Look, a cabal of Byrd-Bennett acolytes took over CPS right under Rahm Emanuel's nose and tried to squeeze it dry.

Meanwhile, Rahm's banker bud got a little too cute and now kids are paying the price.

It's that simple.

Ear To The Ground
"The White Sox haven't made any determinations on which direction they'll take as the trade deadline nears, GM Rick Hahn told reporters, including the Chicago Tribune's Colleen Kane," MLBTradeRumors.com notes.

"[T]he South Siders closed out the first half on a 9-3 run, giving the club a bit more optimism about its chances. 'Certainly if I did it from an emotional or fan standpoint, we want to be aggressive, we want to add,' said Hahn."

I don't think that's what fans are saying, Rick.

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The Sound Opinions Weekend Listening Report: "Led by multi-instrumentalist Kevin Parker, Australian psych-rockers Tame Impala made huge waves in both hemispheres with the release of their album Lonerism in 2012. They join Jim and Greg for a discussion and live performance. Then, Jim and Greg review the band's new release Currents."

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BeachBook
* Pretend To Buy Things At Pretend Garage Sale In Logan Square.

* From The TPP To The ACA: The Media And Obama's Weird Legacy.

* Neo Leaving Lincoln Park.

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TweetWood
A sampling.

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The Weekend Desk Tip Line: Escort us.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:06 AM | Permalink

July 17, 2015

The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour #60: Talkin' Baseball

Damn Cardinals. Plus: Duncan Keith In The Pantheon; Blackhawks South; Elena Delle Donne, Superstar; and The Chicago Fire Actually Did Do Something This Week.


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SHOW NOTES

* Wally Chambers.

1:06: Talkin' Baseball.

* The I-Something Series!

* St. Louis Cardinals Enter 2nd Half With Majors' Best Record.

* After World Series Run, Royals Proving Rebuild Was No Fluke.

* Long-Suffering Astros Finally Back In Contention.

* Don't mortgage the future!

* In Year Of Parity, Nearly Every Team Has Playoffs Chance.

* Hunter's Leadership Has Lifted The Twins, And So Have His Homers.

* Among All-Star Pitchers, Envy Flows With Esteem.

* Kyle Schwarber.

* Welington Castillo.

* The Renaissance Of Clint Hurdle.

* How The All-Star Game Is Like The Electoral College.

41:50: Duncan Keith In The Pantheon.

* Haugh: Duncan Keith Toughs Out Personal Strife As He Does Professional Challenges.

48:18: Blackhawks South.

* Johnny Odontya.

52:13: The Chicago Fire Actually Did Something This Week.

53:30: Elena Delle Donne, Superstar.

54:31: Redamak's!

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For archives and other Beachwood shows, see The Beachwood Radio Network.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:55 PM | Permalink

The Week In Chicago Rock

You shoulda been there.

1. Martin Kember at Township on Tuesday night.


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2. Jill Scott at Northerly Island on Saturday night.

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3. Kinky at Cobra Lounge on Saturday night.

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4. Lil Kim at the Shrine on Thursday night.

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5. Raekwon and Ghostface Killah at House of Blues on Tuesday night.

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6. Matthew Sweet at Millennium Park on Monday night.

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7. Eric Roberson at City Winery on Wednesday night.

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8. The Answer at Reggies on Sunday night.

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9. Say Anything at House of Blues on Thursday night.

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10. Motion City Soundtrack at Durty Nellie's in Palatine on Monday night.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:19 AM | Permalink

Beachwood Photo Booth: Lyndale Food & Jewelry

Our favorite kind of store.

lyndalefoodsetcbw.jpg(ENLARGE FOR PROPER VIEWING; CLICK TWICE, EVEN BETTER)

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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.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Signpost.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Old Man And The Tree.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Street Fleet.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Citgo Story.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Fantasy Hair Design.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Garage.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Clark Stop.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Pole Position.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Window Dressing.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Geometry.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Found Love.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Fill In The Blank.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Vacuums Of The Night.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Dumpster Still Life.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Wagon Master.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Intersecting West Rogers Park.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Penn-Dutchman Antiques.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Cow Patrol.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Backstage Chicago.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Skully Bungalow.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Francisco Frankenstein.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Long Cool Heat.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Smokers' Mast.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Big Fat Phone.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Happy Day.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Alley Men.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Holiday Show!
* Beachwood Photo Booth: You've Got Mailbox.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Broken Window Theory.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Dali Logan.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Svengoolie.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Horner Park Hot Dogs.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Cubs Rehab.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: 20th Century Schizoid Man.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Men On Vans.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Penn-Dutchman Is Done.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Snowy Lincoln.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Waiting Room.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Avondale Chicken.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Winter's End.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: The Friendly Skies.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Boyhood Buzzer Beater.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: J Date.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: International Window Lady.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Shanghai Inn.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Open For Business.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Andersonville Unplugged.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: 3-Flat.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Evanston Turkey.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicagolandia.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Eat At Odge's.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Deitch Pharmacy.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Sud-Z Bubble.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Bands Wanted!
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Belmont Tavern.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Superheroic San Luis Freeze.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Evanston Oasis.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 4:00 AM | Permalink

The [Friday] Papers

"Mayor Rahm Emanuel once again tried to write "the next chapter" for Chicago Public Schools on Thursday, this time turning to a trusted ally and political insider he hopes can repair the damaged district," the Tribune reports.

Okay, so the Tribune just adopted Rahm's "next chapter" spin at the same time it passively references a damaged district without saying who damaged it - Rahm Emanuel.

More accurate: "Rahm Emanuel turned Thursday to a trusted ally and political insider he hopes can clean up the mess the mayor has made at the Chicago Public Schools."

Any less objective?

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"While Forrest Claypool lacks the education policy pedigree of Emanuel's first two picks to run the schools, his experience is suited for two of CPS' greatest short-term problems: finances and ethics."

Now the Tribune is adopting the mayor's apparent argument that what the district needs most right now isn't someone with an education policy pedigree. That's arguable.

*

"Claypool made his reputation as a city administrator slashing budgets and issuing pink slips, which could prove helpful as CPS faces a $1.1 billion budget shortfall."

Now the Tribune is adopting the position that a district already cut beyond bone (and already deep into classrooms, if truth be told) needs to keep cutting - and fire a slew of people - instead of raising badly needed revenue.

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"And Claypool tried to establish himself as a political reformer by taking on the old-school Stroger family on the Cook County Board, an image in need at a school district facing a federal probe into a $20.5 million, no-bid principal training contract."

Claypool indeed tried to establish himself as a political reformer on the county board - after decades as a Machine loyalist and close ally to Richard M. Daley (including two stints as his chief of staff), whose City Hall was infested with corruption.

At the county, recasting himself as a reformer was a branding exercise that aided the Daleys in pushing out the hapless president Todd Stroger - having had installed him there in the first place.

Claypool's image was also made with the help of the media, given that a boatload of leaks about Stroger's mismanagement were doled out behind-the-scenes by Claypool's office. Then Claypool would be quoted saying how awful Stroger's mismanagement was.

Just to be clear.

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"At CPS, Claypool appears content to let others handle classroom details while he tries to figure out how to keep the district afloat financially."

Oh, those niggling classroom details.

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"The mayor announced Claypool as his City Hall chief of staff in late April, a week after reports surfaced that then-CPS CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett was at the center of a federal grand jury investigation into a contract Emanuel's school board had issued. Once it became clear he would have to replace Byrd-Bennett, Emanuel focused on naming Claypool as her successor, said a City Hall source familiar with the decision who was not authorized to speak publicly."

Why is anonymity necessary here? Why is citing a source even necessary here? We know this.

Plus, I'm convinced that CIty Hall sources who speak anonymously (most often to the Sun-Times's Fran "Steno" Spielman) because they have not been authorized to speak publicly have damn sure been authorized to speak under cover of anonymity (which is tantamount to the same thing) given the temperament of this mayor and the approving nature of the comments.

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"Emanuel interviewed internal candidates at CPS to surround Claypool on the district's senior leadership team but did not consider other options for CEO, the source said. Unlike his previous two hirings for the job, the mayor did not conduct a national search, the source added."

I don't need a "source" to tell me the mayor did not conduct a national search. The question for the mayor is, Why? (For more on that, see The [Thursday] Papers.)

And I don't need a source to tell me that Emanuel interviewed internal candidates at CPS to surround Claypool with because of the next paragraph:

"The mayor sought to take the attention off of Claypool's lack of education expertise by announcing other new leadership posts at CPS and the Chicago Board of Education. Emanuel named Janice Jackson, a fast-rising middle manager at CPS, as the district's new chief education officer. And Denise Little, a longtime CPS educator, was picked to serve as Claypool's senior adviser."

The question for the source and the mayor is this: Did he alone conduct the interviews? Is that a wise process? What criteria did he use to make his choices? Shouldn't the superintendent make those hires? Aren't we just getting more of the same, then, instead of a "new chapter?"

*

"Asked Thursday about Claypool's qualifications for the top CPS post, Emanuel repeatedly referred to the whole team's expertise. But Emanuel also sought to bring cachet to Claypool's hiring, even though the mayor only had to walk down a fifth-floor hallway at City Hall to make it.

"I've worked with some of the country's great Cabinet secretaries at the federal level. I've worked with a number of people at different levels in corporate America, but I've never seen a manager with Forrest Claypool's capacity for leadership," Emanuel said.

Okay, I'm not quite sure how to deal with this kind of desperate buffoonery, but let's try it this way:

"So, Mr. Mayor, you're saying that Forrest Claypool is a greater leader than Hillary Clinton? Timothy Geithner? Robert Gates? Eric Holder?'

You could go down the line. Make him say it.

*

"But the Chicago Teachers Union dismissed Claypool's appointment as nothing more than Emanuel turning to a 'political fixer.' During her own news conference Thursday, CTU President Karen Lewis spoke pointedly about Clark's role in closing schools and said Claypool's reputation as a mayoral insider didn't leave her confident that the district would make many positive changes.

"Still, Claypool characterized a Thursday morning phone call he had with Lewis as 'a very good conversation' and added that he hoped both sides could look past their differences and political rhetoric to unite in lobbying state lawmakers for the financial relief the district needs."

The obligatory brief aside before turning back to valorizing Claypool.

*

Now, this part is precious:

"I know Forrest is exactly the right person at the right time to lead CPS at this moment," Emanuel said. "With the financial crisis at CPS having reached the doors of our schools, Forrest has the skills, but also the relationships in Springfield, to work through these challenges to ensure the gains we've made educationally continue on the right path and that the financial challenges do not threaten them."

But when Claypool was asked Thursday how he would approach state lawmakers to obtain a deal to rescue CPS from some of its financial obligations, Claypool quickly backed away from the podium and looked toward Emanuel.

"I would defer to those political ones," Claypool said. "Not my bailiwick."

Oops.

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Now comes the Tribune editorial board to doubly bless the sainted Claypool:

"Mayor Rahm Emanuel has plenty of problems. One is that he doesn't have enough Forrest Claypools. The mayor has just one, and he has wisely dispatched his best turnaround pro to rescue the Chicago Public Schools."

If Claypool is the turnaround pro, then why isn't he the mayor?

After all, no one is saying we don't have enough Rahm Emanuels around.

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"So, no nationwide searches for new leaders. There wasn't time."

Really? Barbara Byrd-Bennett took her leave of absence in April and her contract would have expired on June 30 anyway had she not resigned. Also, every smart organization has a succession plan and a working list of external chief executive candidates. That's not to say I can't see the argument for plugging the hole quickly, but I do see the need to ask the question, because Claypool isn't likely in it for the long haul and we'll soon see Rahm's fifth CPS CEO.

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Now to the Sun-Times and outgoing school board president David Vitale, who is truly an abhorrent person.

"Vitale had come to the board in 2011 with education chops - he was CPS' chief administrative officer under former CEO Arne Duncan, as well as president of the board of the private education nonprofit Academy for Urban School Leadership," the Sun-Times reports.

I'm not sure I'd call those "education chops," but whatever.

"But as the board slashed budgets and shuttered schools under Vitale's leadership, while opening new charters and handing troubled neighborhood schools over to AUSL for a 'turnaround,' his detractors often accused him of being a man of means out of touch with the struggles of working-class parents and their kids."

I find the word "detractors" to be a diminishment, like "critics." Just say who made those accusations: teachers, parents, community organizers, policy advocates - you know, his constituents.

I'm also not sure the main criticism, though, was that he was out of touch, as much as it was his absolute refusal to listen to others with an open mind and to consider that he was the one who quite often had his facts wrong instead of everyone else. Vitale seemed to treat the public - including teachers, parents, community organizers and policy advocates - with contempt. And he ended nearly every board meeting by stating that not everything we all heard from the public - including teachers, parents, community organizers and policy advocates - was factual. That's the way he went out, too, as we shall see.

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"Mayor Rahm Emanuel insisted Thursday that the decision to step down was made by Vitale alone to give new CEO Forrest Claypool a fresh start. He denied the leadership change was a response to Vitale's fingerprints being all over controversial district borrowing and the $20.5 million, no-bid principal training contract with a company that once employed Barbara Byrd-Bennett. She resigned following a federal probe.

"Weeks ago, when David and I met . . . I said why I thought Forrest was the right person and the team, David offered the idea that he should step down after his tenure because the tradition at CPS has been a CEO and a new chair. It allows us, as I said, to write that new chapter," Emanuel said.

There's that "new chapter" theme. I wonder how long it took for Rahm to settle on that as his media message.

Anyway, what isn't there is that Emanuel didn't disagree and ask Vitale to stay, although WBEZ reports that "The mayor said he was at first reluctant to accept Vitale's resignation, adding that he had to go swimming a few times before he made the final decision."

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"CPS declined to make any resignation letter public."

Does that mean there isn't one? Because that's a public document.

So . . . "CPS refused to comply with state public records laws and show us the damn resignation letter."

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"[A]fter a press conference at Westinghouse College Prep high school, Vitale explained why he wanted out.

"'Want' is a strong word," he said. "I offered to get out because I've been involved in the system for 12 years one way or another. . . . I've been president of the board for four years. I haven't missed a board meeting."

"But I also said to the mayor, `Historically, there's been a value to a CEO and a board president coming together and I wasn't gonna stay for however long Forrest is there," he continued. "I don't think it's got anything to do with the controversy. It's building a working relationship that's really important going forward."

Right, none of this has anything to do with the controversy that caused Byrd-Bennett's resignation and opened up the CEO job in the first place, without which Vitale would still be board president.

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"The appointment of a white male Thursday to replace a black woman as schools CEO made it all the more important for Mayor Rahm Emanuel to make Forrest Claypool part of a salt-and-pepper leadership duo."

Um, the district has more Hispanic students than black or white students - and almost as many as black and white students combined.

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My understanding is that interim CPS CEO Jesse Ruiz didn't want the job permanently - and that's not to say he would have been considered - but you'd think he would've alternately been a candidate for board president. He remains as the board's vice chair.

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But onward . . .

"The mayor did that by choosing businessman Frank Clark as school board president; rising star Janice Jackson, a beloved network chief, to serve as chief education officer; and longtime CPS educator Denise Little as Claypool's 'senior adviser.'"

Again, no Hispanics.

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Back to Vitale:

"Sources recently told the Chicago Sun-Times that Byrd-Bennett's employment contract was presented as a done deal by Vitale. One said Vitale 'was the one who managed her contract. He was very, very supportive of Barbara.' Another characterized the board generally as 'president-centric.'"

So Vitale ran the show.

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"My job is to be president of the Chicago Board of Education and all that goes with it," Vitale said. "Whether the press has got the stories right - that's a different story. But I don't care. I'm proud of the accomplishments we've had with the kids."

See what I mean? It's pretty rich for Vitale to complain about the press when all they did for years during his reign was fact-check his ass and find that he and the rest of CPS were serial liars.

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Back to the Trib for more of Vitale's contempt:

Afterward, as Claypool and Clark stuck around at the high school to greet well-wishers and answer questions, Vitale walked out as reporters followed him.

"I don't think it has anything to do with controversy," Vitale said when asked what role the school closings he oversaw and the federal investigation hanging over CPS played in his departure. "I think it's building a working relationship that's really important going forward."

As reporters continued to ask Vitale about the principal training contract, Vitale walked up and down the sidewalk in front of the high school looking for his ride, at one point quietly holding up his hands rather than respond to questions about the no-bid deal.

"We were closing 50 schools, trying to make sure we had 12,000 kids in the right place," Vitale eventually said about the controversial contract. "We did everything we were supposed to do, but we did not spend enormous amounts of time on every single contract that came through. We had a lot going on. We were closing 50 schools and we were making sure 12,000 kids ended up in the right place."

Then Vitale finally found the black SUV he was looking for, climbed in and rode off.

Right. The board was too busy to spend an "enormous" amount of time vetting the district's largest no-bid contract with the dude who essentially acted as agent for Byrd-Bennett, whose own contract Vitale "managed."

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"There's a lot of facts out there about what has gone on and when, that I don't believe are actually accurate in the press, OK?," Vitale also said, according to the Sun-Times report.

Again with the facts.

"We followed the exact process we should have followed on that contract. I have no regrets on that one. I've said we handled the SUPES contract in a professional way and we did it the right way, and I have no regrets about what we did."

I'm not sure what's worse - if he believes this or he's lying.

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Here's what I wrote to someone this morning who asked me if Claypool could solve the district's financial crisis.

"No. How? He might be able to calm things down but if he's there simply to cut, cut, cut . . . well, that's no solution. I think he's there to calm things down, streamline management, fix Barbara's and Vitale's messes . . . they'll make a show of him chopping off a few heads, doing things that supposedly show savings, but the real ballgame is in Springfield and revenue and Rahm."

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"In naming a trusted political ally and local technocrat to take over Chicago Public Schools, Mayor Rahm Emanuel acknowledged that his strategy of bringing in outsider educators with experience managing other school districts was not working," Catalyst writes.

"Instead, Emanuel went back to the leadership structure his predecessor, Richard M. Daley, had put in place a decade earlier by hiring a non-educator to lead the system. That's when Daley named his budget director, Paul Vallas, as CEO and his chief of staff, Gery Chico, as board president."

I suppose, but I don't suppose Daley's structure worked either or we wouldn't (still) be in this mess. Also, Daley's other CEO picks were Arne Duncan, who came from inside CPS, and Ron Huberman, who came from CTA after working at CPD and OEMC, and I wouldn't call their tenures successes, either.

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"The very fact Claypool was allowed to answer questions both during and after the press conference showed the level of trust Emanuel has in his new CEO - something that was not visible in 2011, when Emanuel presented his first pick for the job: Jean-Claude Brizard. During that press conference, Brizard - an educator and schools administrator whose previous post was at a much smaller school district in upstate New York - read from prepared notes and was whisked away before reporters could ask questions."

Heh.

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"Claypool, meanwhile, spoke freely and without notes as he gave some general ideas about how he'd run the school district. He said he plans to look both within Chicago and outside the city for the expert help, and will 'follow best practices' to support teachers and principals in schools."

Is the district not already following "best practices?" Has it not already asked for expert help?

Either this is an indictment on Rahm's CPS, or it's meaningless rhetoric.

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And finally, more on Clark (though I'll have more next week):

By far, Clark's appointment to the school board is the most controversial. He retired from a 40-year career at ComEd three years ago after serving as the company's chair and CEO.

But educators and community activists will know Clark more for his role leading the Commission on School Utilization, a mayoral-appointed group that weighed in on the historic 2013 school closings. The group held community meetings throughout the city, warned against closing high schools and ultimately suggested CPS closer far fewer schools than had been initially proposed.

Still, many had questioned the independence of the commission and its final report.

Valencia Rias-Winstead, who sat on a separate state task force created to monitor decisions on school facilities in CPS, says that though she had no personal interactions with Clark, she was disappointed with his work on the school closings commission.

"The commission that he headed was less than receptive or inclusive or even willing to look at anything that the task force had done," Rias-Winstead says. "They could have learned tremendously from our own work."

When she learned Clark had been named to head the school board, Rias-Winstead says her first thought was, "So he's just coming to finish up Barbara Byrd-Bennett's hatchet job?"

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Beachwood Photo Booth: Lyndale Food & Jewelry
Our favorite kind of store.

TrackNotes: Dark Justice For Arlington Park & California Chrome
"There is no way in hell the track deserved to have a horse of 'Chrome's stature run there," our main on the rail Tom Chambers writes.

Big Money Dominated Chicago's Mayoral Elections
Only 2 percent of all Rahm and Chuy voters gave less than $150.

The Week In Chicago Rock
Featuring: Martin Kember, Jill Scott, Kinky, Lil Kim, Raekwon & Ghostface Killah, Matthew Sweet, Eric Roberson, The Answer, Say Anything, and Motion City Soundtrack.

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BeachBook
* Tinley Park Music Venue Changing Name Again.

* Illinois High School Will Keep 'Midget' Name And Mascot.

* Bowa Explains Ryno's Decision To Quit.

* 13 Great Cheap Eats For $5 Or Less.

* United Rewards Hackers With Millions Of Frequent Flyer Miles.

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TweetWood
A sampling.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Run, Robot Harold, Run.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 1:48 AM | Permalink

July 16, 2015

TrackNotes: True Justice For Arlington Park, California Chrome

The good news is that California Chrome is still alive.

There is no bad news, thankfully, but there's a lot of sad news, all centering around a group of people - Dumb-Ass Partners Stable - who were and are ill-equipped to have been given a horse as magnificent as California Chrome. And a racetrack that I am glad did not get the chance to exploit this horse and the fans who would have come out to see him.

Our first concern is his health. Former co-owner Steve Coburn - yes, I said former - admitted that 'Chrome is about 150 pounds underweight and as that picture and this one illustrate, his ribs were clearly showing as he arrived at Arlington Park on July 7. This is not the look of a horse that was expected to conquer the Arlington Million on August 15.

In fact, California Chrome is out the rest of the year with what his connections called a cannon bone bruise on his right front leg. Near as I can tell, and I'm no expert on horse anatomy, it's like he got kicked in the shin. How would that happen, to a front leg? Just like the vows that he will run again next year, this announced reason sounds awfully shallow.

And just this week, Coburn, forever famous for his "cowards" rant after 'Chrome lost the Belmont Stakes and Triple Crown in 2014, sold his minority interest in the horse to Taylor Made Farm in Kentucky, 'Chrome's destination for rest and recuperation while his majority owner, Perry Martin, will try to figure ways to squeeze even more money out of the colt. Interesting that Coburn sold his share to a third party and not to Martin.

This is the same Martin who made the decision to hoodwink breeders, by his own admission, into thinking 'Chrome is or could be some wondrous turf monster. For breeding purposes only, to a colt who is widely considered to have questionable stud qualities.

He was even willing to throw 'Chrome to the wolves in the Arlington Million after hardly training since the Dubai World Cup, where he ran his guts out, and detouring to England where Martin expected him to take on all the Queen's horses and a couple of the Queen's races. He had a "foot problem" and missed two races on the olde sod.

People laughed when many of his fans began a Bring Chrome Home campaign on Facebook. Ah, what do the fans know, California Chrome is just fine! As always, the fans know, or can sense, everything.

So what happened? Is California Chrome ill? One forum commenter opined that maybe the horse got lonely in England, where trainer Art Sherman was replaced by a rent-a-trainer, along with strange grooms and other attendants. Plus three different nations of food since the beginning of the year. Seems plausible to me. They shipped him to Dubai too late to get acclimated to Meydan, if he ever would have, or even to run a race over the course. They shipped him to Arlington too late to get in a prep race for the Million, although it now seems he was never in good enough shape to even run in the Million.

California Chrome is not a soapbox derby racer. He's a living, breathing, intelligent animal who has to be wondering where he is, or where they might take him.

As for Arlington Park, with all of the bad karma it and its parent company Churchill Downs Inc. (CDI) have been throwing around for years, there is no way in hell the track deserved to have a horse of 'Chrome's stature run there. There is no way California Chrome should ever have to be within a time zone of the PolyTrack travesty it calls the main track.

Arlington has started a war with the Illinois Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association, cutting purses and reducing races to eight per card. For the time, distance, expense and the mismatched train schedules, eight races are not worth the bother of making the trip. Not that I have in several years. I'm late to the news, but I hear they are now charging 17 frickin' dollars for a picnic table under the "general admission" canopy. They used to be free, although you always had to fight the two people who guarded their conquest like territorial wolverines. And get a load of the target demographic in those pictures. Oh, lordy!

It'a always about money. We know the greenbacks drive the sport, nourish the wiseguys. But Ray Paulick of the Paulick Report succinctly describes the situation between the two battling factions, painting a picture of a corporation that does not care trying to squeeze the life out of the people who help make the sport.

Just as one example, 2-year-old maiden special weight races at Arlington are offering a $21,600 purse. That's less than tracks in neighboring states are putting into maiden races: Indiana Grand ($32,000), Prairie Meadows in Iowa ($30,000), Ellis Park in Kentucky ($29,000) and Canterbury Park in Minnesota ($28,000).

The operative baloney is that once the Illinois legislature approves slots at the racetracks, all will be well and Illinois racing will be saved.

The truth is that CDI has proven that it gives not one damn about horse racing, except for the two days of the Kentucky Derby, and would just as soon get out of the game. It got slots at Fair Grounds and had to be ordered by the State of Louisiana to maintain the place. It got slots at Calder, stopped keeping things up, and eventually farmed out racing operations to Frank Stronach's Gulfstream group, once their cold war enemies.

There is absolutely no guarantee CDI will keep Arlington open if it gets slots, unless they come with the stipulation that at least some racing must be held. Like a bad Steven Seagal movie, it's attitude is if it goes down, the entire Illinois racing industry must go down with it. And we all know what the lawyers and accountants see when they look at the Arlington real estate, besides their personal bonus skims.

I can only imagine how they would have pumped up ticket prices and lousy concessions - more than they already do - on Million Day if Chrome had been in the house.

This is true justice for Arlington Park and its overlords.

Now, let's turn to California Chrome and hope he gets the justice and health he deserves and gets to run again, just for fun.

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

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 3:57 PM | Permalink

Big Money Dominated Chicago Mayoral Elections

Ninety-six percent of all money raised by the Rahm Emanuel and Chuy Garcia mayoral campaigns came from donors giving $1,000 or more, according to Illinois PIRG Education Fund analysis of fundraising reports, the latest of which were released late Wednesday.

Only 2% came from donors giving less than $150.

"The final mayoral fundraising totals make clear that the voices of small donors were drowned out by the spending of large donors," said Abe Scarr, director of the Illinois PIRG Education Fund.

The Emanuel campaign raised 98% of its campaign funds from donors giving $1,000 or more, and only 0.6% from donors giving less than $150.

The Garcia campaign raised 83% of its campaign funds from donors giving a $1,000 or more, and 10% from donors giving less than $150.

big v small 7.16.jpg

Overall, 49% of donors gave contributions of under $150, yet their contributions amounted to 2% of all money given to the two campaigns.

Sixty-one percent of contributions to the Emanuel campaign came from donors giving $1,000 or more, while 23% came from donors giving under $150.

Eight percent of contributions to the Garcia campaign came from donors giving $1,000 or more, while 69% came from donors giving under $150.

contributors 7.16.jpg

New York City has adopted a small-donor matching program that is a model for national legislation, including a bill sponsored by Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin, and numerous local reform efforts across the country.

In the last New York City Council race, 61% of participating candidates' funds came from small donors, when the match is factored in.

In the last election, all but one winning New York City Council candidate participated in the program.

Chicagoans had the opportunity in February to vote on whether the city should pursue campaign finance reforms to empower small donors, and they overwhelming supported it, with 79% of voting yes.

"Decision-makers at every level of government should pursue reforms to empower small donors and small donor-backed candidates in our elections," Scarr said.

The Illinois PIRG Education Fund will be releasing a report later in the summer with a fuller analysis of big money in the mayoral and aldermanic elections.

Numbers represent "individual contributions" and "transfers in" to candidate committees from February 23, 2011 through April 7, 2015. Small contributions are not itemized so may begin in January 2011 and extend through the end of June 2015.

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Previously in campaign finance from Illinois PIRG:
* Auctioning Democracy.

* A Few Rich People Vs. The Rest Of Us In The Illinois Governor's Race.

* 17 Megadonors Vs. Everyone Else.

* Mayoral Election Dominated By Big, Out Of Town Money.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 1:50 PM | Permalink

The [Thursday] Papers

Everyone is reporting that Rahm Emanuel has tapped apparatchik par excellence Forrest Claypool to become the next CEO of CPS.

Wow.

That says to me that Rahm simply couldn't find anyone else to take the job. Or maybe he didn't want to risk conducting a national search and bringing someone in - or promoting someone from within, but who's left what with Barbara Byrd-Bennett's kitchen cabinet disappeared - and finding in a few months that he had struck out for a third time.

I can't imagine Claypool is in it for the long haul; maybe he's just supposed to get the city through contract negotiations with the teachers' union and the pension and budget mess before stepping aside to, I don't know, run the Department of Aviation or something.

Which just adds up to more chaos for CPS; let's face it, Rahm has really made a hash of the place.

It would be interesting to know Rahm's reasoning - I doubt we'll get sincere answers - in going from an experienced if out-of-his-depth and not entirely honest educator/superintendent in Jean Claude-Brizard to experienced educator cum grim reaper extraordinaire Barbara Byrd-Bennett to public payroll dilettante/fixer Claypool, whose resume includes various positions for Richard M. Daley, a showy term on the Cook County board, stints running the CTA and park district, and in-between tours of duty as a mayoral chief of staff.

Now Claypool is being called upon to clean up a mess made by a mayor who just got re-elected and finds himself having to gut his schools leadership.

I said it then and I'll say it now: The case against Rahm should have rested as much on competence as elitism. Before becoming mayor, he had never been a chief executive and never exhibited chief executive abilities. He's an operator, a legislator (of sorts), a hack, dealmaker, a fundraiser, but not a leader.

And for someone who has spent more than four years telling us how important the city's kids are, he sure has mucked up their education and paralyzed the system they (and their parents) depend on.

Let's take a look at the coverage.

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"The appointment is a sign of the troubles at CPS, which faces a massive budget hole, a federal investigation into contracting and negotiations on a new teachers contract," the Tribune reports in its second paragraph.

"Emanuel also is expected to appoint Frank Clark, a retired ComEd executive, as the new Chicago Board of Education chairman, the sources said. Clark headed up an advisory panel during the process that led to the controversial closings of 50 schools. Clark would replace David Vitale."

Good riddance. Vitale was yet another abject failure amidst the long list of failures on Rahm's scorecard. But we need his financial acumen to save the city!

"Claypool was chief of staff twice under Daley, and between those stints he served as superintendent of the Chicago Park District, where he was lauded for cutting costs and streamlining bureaucracy."

Lauded by who? Passive construction is rarely recommended. More accurate: " . . . where conservative institutions like the Civic Federation and the Tribune editorial page lauded him for cutting costs and streamlining bureaucracy but organized labor and community organizations criticized him for cutting jobs and services."

*

At the Sun-Times, "Sneed hears rumbles a major upset at the Chicago Board of Education will be announced soon," in what is billed as an exclusive but of course is nothing of the sort.

Education reporters and others close to the system such as advocacy groups had been hearing the same rumblings over the last week or so.

Everything else Sneed "reports" is background.

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Reminder:

"Emanuel trusts Claypool so much that he wanted Claypool to temporarily take over his Northwest Side congressional seat after Emanuel was named chief of staff to President Barack Obama. He asked then-Gov. Rod Blagojevich to appoint Claypool to the position, according to a transcript of a Nov. 8, 2008, telephone conversation, which was taped by the FBI. Blagojevich said he didn't have power to make the temporary appointment, according to the transcript, which was filed in 2011 in Blagojevich's criminal case. No wrongdoing ever was alleged.

"There was a lot of interest in the seat, but Claypool 'wants to do it for like one term or two, max,' said Emanuel, who was considering an eventual return to the U.S. House."

To be clear, Rahm wanted Claypool as a placeholder; after serving as Obama's chief of staff, he would then reclaim his old House seat through a previously agreed-upon perversion of democracy. He had no intention of becoming mayor, regardless of the campaign narrative reporters bought that it was his lifelong dream (and regardless of what he argued during his residency kerfuffle.)

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From the CTU:

"Claypool is a political 'fixer' and longtime mayoral insider who represents another non-education, business-style manager of our schools. Mayoral control has given us 20 years of businessmen running CPS, going back to Paul Vallas, and look where it's gotten us. This appointment suggests that the mayor will look to cut even more from neighborhood schools, when what we need is a return to an education-centered approach," said CTU Vice President Jesse Sharkey.

"The choice of Frank Clark to replace David Vitale is merely swapping one businessman for another," Sharkey said. "As chairman of the commission that recommended the closing of more than 50 Chicago public schools, Clark played a key role in managing the greatest number of school closures in U.S. history, and in the cruelest of ironies, he has a charter school named after him - the Rowe-Clark Math and Science Academy."

"The CTU is negotiating a contract with the Board and is willing to work with anyone, but these political appointments are telling us a lot about where the mayor is taking our schools, which is over a cliff," Sharkey said. "The need for a new CEO and Board president because of corruption and irresponsible financial practices are clear examples of why we need an elected, representative school board."

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Now let's turn to the intriguing and informative Twitter stream of excellent education reporter Sarah Karp:

Running schools, running trains - same thing, right? Also, how well do our trains run?

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I rest my case.

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This is important; essentially a banker was running our schools - and putting them into great financial peril.

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Also, how well does ComEd run? You can say you want to run CPS like a business, but be careful which business you pick to run it like.

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Comment from Tom Chambers: I wonder if Forrest Claypool has all the trouble he's shot stuffed and mounted above his fireplace.

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20 Tweets: Charlie Daniels
Bringing his homespun Southern wisdom about Barack Hussein Obama, Donald Trump and the Confederate flag to Illinois.

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TweetWood
A sampling.

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They're all horrible human beings. Every last one of 'em.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Be beautiful.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:35 AM | Permalink

20 Tweets: Charlie Daniels

The Charlie Daniels Band is scheduled to appear at the downstate DuQuoin State Fair in September. Will he bring his Confederate flag with him to the Land of Lincoln (and Obama)? Let's take a look.

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Previously in 20 Tweets:
* 20 Tweets: Richard Roeper
* 20 Tweets: Pete Wentz
* 20 Tweets: Billy Corgan
* 20 Tweets: Billy Dec
* 20 Tweets: Jeremy Piven
* 20 Tweets: Billy Dec Olympic Edition
* 20 Tweets: Bill Rancic
* 20 Tweets: Patti Blagojevich
* 20 Tweets: Stedman Graham
* 20 Tweets: Oprah
* 20 Tweets: John Cusack
* 20 Tweets: The Mix 101.9
* 20 Tweets: Jay Cutler's Girlfriend.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 4:28 AM | Permalink

July 15, 2015

The [Wednesday] Papers

"Investment banks this spring paid $2 million to the city of Houston to settle claims they did not sufficiently warn city officials about the risks of the auction-rate bond market - the latest in a series of awards to governments damaged by auction-rate losses," the Tribune reports.

"No such award is coming to the Chicago Public Schools, even though CPS issued more auction-rate securities than any other school district in the country and more than most major cities. CPS did not file a claim with the relevant arbitration panel during its six-year eligibility period, a time span that included several years of Mayor Rahm Emanuel's tenure.

"It's not clear why the cash-strapped district decided not to pursue a claim - or even whether there was a decision at all. Under questioning from the Tribune, school officials acknowledged that they don't know whether CPS ever explored the option of filing a claim over its auction-rate losses. A Tribune series last year estimated those losses at roughly $100 million over the life of the deals."

Wait a second.

School officials acknowledged that they don't know whether CPS ever explored the option of filing a claim over its auction-rate losses.

I thought school board chairman David Vitale kept telling the teachers union, community groups and others agitating for such a move that they tried but, hey, a contract's a contract (except when it's one signed with teachers).

Have I - and others- been under a false impression this whole time? Was that debate confined to interest-rate swaps, which are related but still different? Or were we simply lied to - again?

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"The school district said in April that it was 'analyzing the (auction-rate) situation to see whether there is a valid claim and, if there is, how best to proceed.'"

So it did explore the option.

"On Tuesday a CPS spokeswoman said the district 'has not made any definitive decisions regarding claims about auction-rate securities.'"

So it's still exploring the option.

But if I understand this Tribune report correctly, the deadline for such a claim has passed.

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CPS could still pursue a claim in the courts, but "Attorneys who work on such cases say going to court can be much more costly and time-consuming than filing a claim with the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, or FINRA, a self-regulatory organization that operates a dispute resolution forum and set the six-year deadline."

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Before you ask yourself (again) how Vitale retains his post, consider this:

"Current school board President David Vitale, a former vice chairman and director of Bank One Corp., presided over the district's auction-rate borrowing strategy beginning in 2003, first as chief administration officer, then as chief operating officer."

Now let me take you back to a Tribune story from last November (ah, the value of links still forsworn by legacy media . . . ):

Fresh from the world of high-stakes trading, David Vitale arrived at Chicago Public Schools a decade ago with a plan to transform the way it borrowed money.

With the district thirsty for cheap cash, plain old municipal bonds weren't good enough anymore, and banks were standing by with attractive new options.

So Vitale, then the chief administrative officer at CPS, and other officials pushed forward with an extraordinary gamble. From 2003 through 2007, the district issued $1 billion worth of auction-rate securities, nearly all of it paired with complex derivative contracts called interest-rate swaps, in a bid to lower borrowing costs.

No other school district in the country came close to CPS in relying so heavily on this exotic financial product. In fact, market data show the district issued more auction-rate bonds than most cities, more than the state of California.

But the bold move disregarded an iron law of finance: Nothing is free. If money is offered at a lower price, it means there are associated risks - risks the district could ill afford to take.

As it turns out, the gamble likely will cost CPS an enormous sum, according to a first-of-its-kind analysis by the Tribune. Over the life of the deals, the district stands to pay an estimated $100 million more in today's dollars than it would have on traditional fixed-rate bonds.

Now is the time to wonder how Vitale retains his post. Rahm?

See also: Vitale Flunks Finance 101.

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Now returning to today's Trib:

"Beginning in 2003, CPS entered four auction-rate deals worth a total of $1 billion. Three weeks before CPS closed its final deal in 2007 with Bank of America, a senior BofA official warned internally of a potential market 'meltdown,' according to a federal complaint brought later on behalf of investors. CPS officials say Bank of America never shared those concerns with the district.

"Securities consultant Craig McCann, a former Securities and Exchange Commission economist who has counseled municipal borrowers considering auction-rate claims, reviewed public documents concerning CPS' auction-rate debt after a call from the Tribune last year piqued his firm's interest.

"We think they suffered substantial damages," McCann said. "We think the case would have been as strong at least as the average auction-rate securities issuer case we've observed."

Stronger than the case for, say, closing 50 schools.

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"Opinions differ about when the six-year period for filing an auction-rate claim begins. For CPS, the period could be said to begin either when its last auction-rate bond was issued in 2007 or when the market collapsed in early 2008. Either way, it overlaps with Emanuel's tenure, which began in 2011."

And now it overlaps with Rahm's re-election, which was predicated in large part on his financial legerdemain.

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"CPS in December gave the impression that the Emanuel administration had weighed and rejected the option of filing of an arbitration claim."

Aha! I thought so!

"In answer to a question from the Tribune about whether it had considered arbitration over auction-rate securities, the district provided a statement, which the Tribune printed, saying it 'had previously reviewed the transactions and determined there is no avenue for arbitration.'"

Again, don't print statements supplied in lieu of an official actually answering questions. Just say the district refused to comment, which would be true.

(Also, don't use the word "print" when the Internet has been around so long; "publish" will cover both the print and online versions of your article.)

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"Several months later, CPS officials said they had misinterpreted the question and their answer referred to other financial transactions, not auction-rate securities."

Really? Can we see the question to determine if that's even remotely possible? Maybe they were thinking only of swaps, too?

Also, talking to a live person would have prevented that. In lieu of a live person, so would noting a refusal to comment. No more statements, ever again. From anyone. No more e-mail interviews. No more bullshit.

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"They said they could not say whether the district had considered filing an arbitration claim with FINRA and noted that the time for doing so has passed."

We don't know if we considered it, but we do know the deadline has passed!

Also, there's no way CPS or the city doesn't know if filing a claim was considered. Did you consider it, Vitale? No? You, Rahm? Any of our lawyers? Okay, then the answer is No. Or the answer is Yes. "Don't Know" is unacceptable. So the truth is more like "CPS officials won't say why they didn't file a claim, or even acknowledge whether they considered doing so, even though the issue was raised with them - passionately - numerous times over recent years. For some reason, the district prefers to play dumb over answering our questions."

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"'We remain vigilant in trying to manage the challenges presented by CPS debts - including bonds and pensions - that were incurred over decades,' the district said in its statement."

Aaarrrggghhhhh!

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Addendum:

"Tracking arbitration claims can be difficult because the process often remains confidential, but the Tribune has documented settlements paid to nine governments, including $2 million for the city of Modesto, Calif., and Houston's recent $2 million settlement."

So it is possible. If you try.

School Colors
"Just 15 years go, 40 percent teachers in CPS schools were black. Today, it's 23 percent," Natalie Moore reports for WBEZ.

(And what's more: "Many black students are segregated into majority black schools.")

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"The face of Chicago Public Schools teachers is changing: the teaching workforce is whiter and less experienced. Meanwhile, most of the students in Chicago's public schools are Hispanic and African American. Black enrollment has gone down, but black students still make up 39 percent of the district."

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"[Chicago Teachers Union researcher Pavlyn Jankov] said the number and percentage of schools where there are virtually no staff or no students who are African American has increased a lot too. In just the last decade the number of schools with fewer than a 10 percent black teaching staff jumped from 69 to 223. Schools with no black teachers soared from 10 to 50."

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Click through for the whys and wherefores.

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I often wonder: What would CPS look like if the city's elite - along with those fleeing to the suburbs solely for the schools - sent their kids there. Investing in the public schools is not just about money - though more money would surely, almost magically, follow. What if the city's parents all did it together - a massive effort to send everyone's kids to CPS to not just bolster but uplift the whole damn system. Such an increase in stakeholders would be transformative - and teach our kids quite a lesson.

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Instead, under Rahm Emanuel's direction, we are creating a two-tiered system within a two-tiered system:

"The school-level budgets show a continued trend of decreasing enrollment - and funding - for neighborhood schools and increases for charter schools. District-run schools as a whole will lose about $60 million next year, which CTU Vice President Jesse Sharkey says is 'going to be felt in the classroom,'" Catalyst reports.

And yet, charters still don't show any better results than real public schools.

Taste Of Journalism
Stenography vs. reporting.

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You can't compare attendance at this year's five-day Taste with last year's storm-shortened Taste and wonder "Is The Taste Cool Again?" Of course attendance is "up" over last year. That's why the Tribune compared this year's numbers to 2013, when the Taste was last the same number of days.

(Also: I wonder what per capita numbers would look like. The city's population keeps declining, you know.)

Also, memo to DNAinfo: The Taste was never cool. Even in its heyday, that would not be an accurate way to describe it.

Antonio Brown P.S.
Additional thoughts on yesterday's Miming McCarthy item:

Police are calling Brown a high-ranking gang member, but I have yet to see anyone name which gang. Isn't that one of the first questions you would ask McCarthy?

Also, what does it mean to be of high rank these days when the traditional hierarchical gang structure has collapsed?

Also, do the police suspect which rival gang had a beef with Brown?

If I've missed any of this in the coverage, let me know.

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Another Secret Phone Call Collection Program
"Investigators using the program were urged to ''keep the program under the radar'' and use the call records in such a way as to keep Hemisphere's information 'walled off' from public scrutiny," the Electronic Freedom Foundation notes.

"'The federal government, specifically the Drug Enforcement Administration, has taken pains to hide its use of Hemisphere, telling police agencies to 'never refer to Hemisphere in any official document,'' said Hanni Fakhoury, EFF senior staff attorney."

Can we got back to talking about Obama's legacy (27:53) again?

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Fantasy Fix: Second-Half Surprises
Jonathan Herrera vs. Carlos Rodon.

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TweetWood
A sampling.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Let's swap.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:23 AM | Permalink

Fantasy Fix: Second-Half Surprises

The second half of the baseball season is a few days away, and without any roster changes to busy myself with during the All-Star break, I thought I'd make a few predictions on what the rest of the season holds:

Player Most Likely To Produce Second-Half Value Who Currently Has 0% Ownership in Yahoo! Leagues: Jonathan Herrera, 2B/3B/SS, Cubs.

He's 7-for-18 in the last two weeks with one HR, four RBI and four runs scored. He seems destined for more playing time with the Cubs for a variety of reasons: 1) Addison Russell's development at the major league level has stalled. He either needs rest or more time in the minors or both. Barring a trade Herrera appears most likely to benefit. 2) Kris Bryant needs rest. 3) Starlin Castro is either headed out of town or needs competition for starts. Herrera won't hit many more HRs, but he is a big SB threat waiting for a bigger chance.

Player Most Likely To Fade Who Is Currently Ranked In Top 10: Bryce Harper, OF, WAS.

He's having an outstanding season - 26 HRs, 61 RBI and a .339 average, and he's unquestionably a fantasy stud, but he has only five HRs over the last month, and that average has been sliding down steadily from Ty Cobb territory of late. I wouldn't be surprised if he pulls himself together and wins the MVP, but in his first three seasons, he's seen most of his stats fall in July, August and September.

Player Most Likely To Lead American League In Both Strikeouts And Walks In The Second Half: Carlos Rodon, SP, White Sox.

His WHIP is ridiculously high - 1.61 - but his ability to overpower batters is also clear, to the tune of 68 strikeouts in 66 IP. He probably will have many more games this season like last week's visit to Wrigley Field - 5 IP, six strikeouts, six walks, and didn't hang around long enough to get the victory. Still, I could see him with a couple of big 14- or 15-strikeout games before the season is done.

Biggest Fantasy Disappointment Who Could Still Save Your Team: Yasiel Puig, OF, LAD.

An injury-marred first half and reports of further character problems might have you wanting to unload Puig, but be careful. He's already demonstrated an ability to quickly pile up extra-base hits. The Dodgers have too easily found their way into first place, and will need Puig to step up in the second half.

Pitcher Most Likely To Remind Fantasy Owners Of Mark Prior And Kerry Wood: Stephen Strasburg, SP, WAS.

The talent is indisputable, but he's now on the disabled list for a second time this year. Most signs point to him returning soon, but Strasburg sure is starting to look like someone who manages short stretches of brilliance before inevitably being sidelined with something or other - kind of like two other guys Cubs fans used to know.

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

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 5:49 AM | Permalink

EFF Sues For Records About 'Hemisphere' Phone Call Collection And Drug Enforcement Program

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) on Thursday filed lawsuits against the U.S. Department of Justice and the California Attorney General's office demanding records that shed light on a secret drug enforcement program that allows federal and local law enforcement agents to obtain citizens' phone call records from AT&T.

The ''Hemisphere'' program, which is funded by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and the White House's Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), places AT&T employees within law enforcement agencies to help investigators get quick access to call records stored with the company, according to a New York Times report from 2013.

Hemisphere covers all calls passing through an AT&T switch - not just those made by AT&T customers - and includes calls going back to 1987, the Times revealed. Investigators using the program were urged to ''keep the program under the radar'' and use the call records in such a way as to keep Hemisphere's information ''walled off'' from public scrutiny, according to government documents disclosed by the Times.

EFF filed Freedom of Information Act and Public Records Act requests last year, looking for answers about Hemisphere. But the Justice Department and the California attorney general released only heavily and improperly redacted records, withholding important information about the program and how it is used by law enforcement. In lawsuits filed in both state and federal court in San Francisco, EFF asked judges to order the Justice Department and California to turn over the requested records.

''The federal government, specifically the Drug Enforcement Administration, has taken pains to hide its use of Hemisphere, telling police agencies to 'never refer to Hemisphere in any official document,''' said Hanni Fakhoury, EFF senior staff attorney. ''The public has a right to know about this vast phone call records program.''

White House records disclosed by the New York Times revealed that Hemisphere is coordinated in part through the California attorney general's Los Angeles Regional Criminal Information Clearing House (LACLEAR), an intelligence support center for Los Angeles drug enforcement activities.

EFF's request under the California Public Records Act asked LACLEAR for documents about its involvement in Hemisphere, including training materials, contracts between it and federal agencies, and communications about the use of program between LACLEAR and federal and state agencies. However, after a lengthy delay, LACLEAR produced only 99 pages of PowerPoint presentations about training - many of which were redacted in full to hide the names of police squads that used Hemisphere and the law enforcement agencies involved in the Hemisphere request process.

The Justice Department similarly withheld documents, providing only heavily redacted, and essentially worthless, records after EFF filed its FOIA request in February 2014.

''These lawsuits seek transparency over a program that allows law enforcement agencies to tap into a vast phone record database without court oversight,'' said Jennifer Lynch, EFF senior staff attorney. ''The agencies are misusing public records laws to hide information that is crucial to understanding how the Hemisphere program is being used.''

See also: Hemisphere: Law Enforcement's Secret Call Records Deal With AT&T.

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Previously:
* Snowden Documentarian Laura Poitras Sues U.S. Government To Uncover Records After Years Of Airport Detentions And Searches.

* Obama Secretly Expanded NSA Spying To Internet.

* Court: NSA Phone Program Illegal.

* The Chicago Connection To The Hidden Intelligence Breakdowns Behind The Mumbai Attacks.

* Human Rights Watch Sues DEA Over Bulk Collection Of American's Telephone Records.

* U.S. Secretly Tracked Billions Of Calls For Decades.

* Amnesty International Joins ACLU, Wikimedia In Lawsuit To Stop Mass Surveillance Program.

* Stop Spying On Wikipedia Users.

* EFF Wins Battle Over Secret Legal Opinions On Government Spying.

* The NSA's "U.S. Corporate Partners."

* I Fight Surveillance.

* Illegal Spying Below.

* Smith vs. Obama.

* EFF Sues NSA Over FOIA.

* Stand Against Spying.

* The NSA Revelations All In One Chart.

* U.S. Supreme Court Limits Cell Phone Searches.

* EFF To Court: There's No Doubt The Government Destroyed NSA Spying Evidence.

* House Committee Puts NSA On Notice Over Encryption Standards.

* 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 3:31 AM | Permalink

July 14, 2015

The [Tuesday] Papers

"Taste of Chicago attendance dipped this summer compared with the last time it was a five-day event, according to city estimates released late Monday after the annual lakefront food carnival wrapped up," the Tribune reports.

"Roughly 1.4 million people walked through the gates at Grant Park between Wednesday and Sunday, according to the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events. That's down slightly from 1.5 million who attended in 2013 . . .

"Recent Taste crowds pale in comparison to its pinnacle. In 2008, when the 10-day fest hosted Stevie Wonder among its headliners, the Illinois Restaurant Association estimated 3.5 million people attended throughout the run."

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Maybe it's already been reported over the years, but my question is: Why? Why has attendance fallen so drastically? Are people just bored with it? Why would such boredom suddenly set in? More competition? After all, it seems like there's a street fair or music festival - if not several - every weekend. (Just check out the newest Weekend in Chicago Rock for evidence.)

I wonder if the city did any market research when it began reconceptualizing the Taste a few years ago to determine why attendance was dropping. If so, I'd like to be reminded.

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"Emanuel has tried to increase profits by shortening the Taste and finding ways to charge more. Last year, the city raised its surcharge for every strip of 12 food tickets by 50 cents, to $2.50 from $2. The mayor also started offering an upscale $45 daily 'chef du jour' meal. And the mayor pushed through an ordinance to charge $50 for "premium seats" to Taste concerts starting last year, up from $25 the year before. Those prices stayed in place this year. Until Emanuel took office, all Taste concert seats were free."

Everything was better before Rahm.

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I wonder if lowering the price of Taste tickets and reinstating free concerts would attract enough additional people spending additional dollars on food and merchandise to actually end up increasing revenue. Or maybe linking Taste with neighborhood fairs and other music festivals over the Fourth with some sort of all-access ticket. Or free turkey legs.

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Personally, I haven't gone to Taste in many, many years. I went once or twice early in my tenure here in Chicago, almost as an obligation, like visiting the Sears Tower or the Rock and Roll McDonald's just once to see what they're like. I found the food overpriced and the crowds of what seemed like mostly tourists and suburbanites to be simply unbearable.

So: Lower the prices and get rid of the people! Can't we make that add up?

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Here's another idea: We live in Chicago. We taste it all the time. How 'bout holding Taste of ___. Fill in the blank with a different city every year. Next year: Taste of Cleveland!

Meanwhile, send Taste of Chicago on the road.

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Or get that Next dude to create a themed Taste every summer. Taste of the Greek Economy; Taste of George Clooney's Wedding; Taste of the Cubs Never Winning The World Series Again.

Park Snark
"The entrance to the parking lot offering the lowest rates at O'Hare International Airport will close Wednesday to make room for construction of a rental car facility and public parking garage, city aviation officials said Monday," the Tribune reports.

"The rate in lot F is $9 a day, the lowest of any parking facility operated for the Aviation Department. Travelers who park there ride a free shuttle bus to parking lot E, where the People Mover airport transit system provides service to O'Hare's four terminals."

Boy, everything really was better before Rahm.

Beach Screech
"The lightning, wind and hail that came during Monday's weather pyrotechnics have moved on, leaving behind a partly cloudy, humid day that would seem to make for a perfect time to hit the beach," the Tribune reports.

"But no. The National Weather Service has issued a beach hazards statement for Lake Michigan from about 4 p.m. this afternoon until Wednesday morning, warning of dangerous swimming conditions. The agency is predicting high waves in the range of 3 to 5 feet and strong rip currents for beaches that surround southern Lake Michigan."

Dammit, Rahm!

We're Gonna Need A Bigger Reward
"Chicago Public Schools on Monday unveiled school spending plans that rely on a half-billion dollars more than the district has on hand - an approach the head of the city's principals association compared to writing a bad check," the Tribune reports.

"The preliminary budgets distributed to school principals for the coming school year assume state lawmakers will free CPS from having to make $500 million of a $700 million pension payment due June 30, 2016, either by giving the district more money or by allowing CPS to delay the payment until 2017 or later."

CPS is in such a hole that it would have to capture El Chapo at least 138 times just to get through the coming school year.

Commuting Time
"President Barack Obama granted shorter prison sentences for 46 federal prison inmates serving time for drug convictions, including two men from Chicago and one Gary man, the White House announced Monday," the Tribune reports.

"The president's move was part of a broader effort by the administration to make the U.S. criminal justice system fairer. Obama has now issued nearly 90 commutations during his presidency, most of them to nonviolent offenders sentenced for drug crimes under outdated sentencing guidelines."

Great, but let's tell the whole truth about this president's record on this score.

Miming McCarthy
"A frustrated Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy said the laws are so toothless that gang members are more worried about being beaten up by their gangs for losing a gun than going before a judge after being caught with one," AP reports.

"In the first quarter, police arrested 688 people for illegal firearms. By April 1, 60 percent of those people were already back on the street, McCarthy said.

"That frustration boiled over last week when he told reporters that a bullet that killed 7-year-old Amari Brown on July 4 was intended for his father, Antonio, whom police described as a gang member with nearly four dozen arrests, including one in April on a gun-possession charge.

"If Mr. Brown is in custody," the chief said, "his son is alive."

Okay, here's my problem with this: Antonio Brown supposedly had four dozen arrests, including one in April on a gun-possession charge, but he apparently had no convictions. As far as we can glean from this piece of reporting, he was never found guilty of anything. Given that police are calling Brown a high-ranking gang member, my guess is that those arrests were essentially made to harass. (And now you want Brown to cooperate with police?)

And no matter how stiff the penalties, you can't imprison someone on arrests alone.

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That's not the end of the story, though.

"Antonio Brown, the father of seven-year-old Amari Brown - who was shot and killed this weekend - has been convicted of five felonies and seven other crimes in Cook County Criminal Court over the past dozen years," NBC Chicago reports.

Now maybe we're getting somewhere.

"NBC 5 Investigates has found that 29-year-old Brown has been charged in Cook County Criminal Court in 32 separate cases since 2003. In 12 of those cases he was found guilty. Five of those convictions were for felonies, all involving possession and dealing of narcotics like cocaine and heroin.

"After his most recent arrest last April on multiple felony gun charges, he was released from jail the very next day after posting $5,000 on a $50,000 bond. He pleaded not guilty in that case. Before April, all of his previous charges were drug-related."

So he only has one gun possession charge, which has not yet been adjudicated. Tougher gun laws would not, then, have kept Brown in custody, thus saving his son.

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Missing: Did he do any time on those drug convictions?

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"In seven additional cases, Brown was convicted on misdemeanor charges for crimes including vehicle theft, criminal trespass, pot possession, resisting a police officer, driving on a suspended license and assault. All other cases were dropped."

So clearly the cops have had this guy in their sights. Maybe the failure is theirs.

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"In contrast, Marilyn Hartman, the serial stowaway with no history of violence, is currently being held in Cook County on a $100,000 bond - twice that imposed on Antonio Brown, despite his criminal history, and despite the fact that Chicago police listed him as a 'known' gang member."

That's a silly comparison. First, it's not illegal to be in a gang; I don't know if judges can impose higher bonds because of that association. Second, maybe the case against Brown is exceedingly weak. Third, bonds are often set depending on how likely someone is to flee. Maybe Hartman is a bigger bet in that regard.

Don't get me wrong - I don't have an ounce of sympathy for Brown. But this kind of reporting doesn't really deliver a better understanding of who he is and why - and why his son was killed.

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"The mayor took the lead of the superintendent without really knowing all the facts, and now that the facts are coming out, it's very clear to the police department that my client was not the intended target of the shooting," Brown's attorney, Donna Rotunno says.

"I have a hard time believing that a deranged shooter targeted this child," Mary Mitchell writes for the Sun-Times.

Of course not. Kids are never the target. But stray bullets don't know that.

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"Brown, 29, has been arrested 45 times, according to the police."

Sigh.

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Poitras vs. U.S.
"Academy and Pulitzer Prize Award-winning documentary filmmaker Laura Poitras (CITIZENFOUR) sued the Department of Justice and U.S. transportation security agencies Monday demanding they release records documenting a six-year period in which she was searched, questioned, and often subjected to hours-long security screenings at U.S. and overseas airports on more than 50 occasions."

Brain Ghosts, Buzz Rides, Card Cheats, Literary Frauds & Identity Crises
In Local Book Notes.

Chicago Ladies Bullet Skates!
Designed for racing but also a popular choice for social skating.

RatRod TV
RatRod Ricky pitches ratrodders' favorite tool.

The Weekend In Chicago Rock
Featuring: Diarrhea Planet, Negative Scanner, Keeps, Slaughter & the Dogs, King Diamond, Erykah Badu, Hellyeah, Sister Sin, Slayer, Frankie Beverly & Maze, Dead Moon, Absolutely Not, Swirlies, Spray Paint, DestrOi! DestrOi!, The Murder City Devils, The Mekons, Empire of the Sun, Phantogram, Passion Pit, The Devil Wears Prada, Whitechapel, Thy Art Is Murder, Jungle Rot, Shattered Sun, Chris Creswell, Spoon, Althea Grace Band, Weezer, The Virus, Steve Miller Band, Urge Overkill, The Smithereens, The Hang Union, Toe, Eddie Vedder, Aretha Franklin, and The Chieftains.

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BeachBook
* Chicago Scenester Kicked Runaways Rapist Kim Fowley's Ass In '80s.

* Q&A With Unlock Congress Author Michael Golden.

* People Try Chicago Deep Dish Pizza For The First Time.

* Access Denied: Welcome To Chicago.

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TweetWood
A sampling.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Crotchety.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:15 AM | Permalink

Chicago Ladies Bullet Skate!

1. "This speed skate from Chicago is designed for racing but is also a popular choice for all-around rink and social skating."


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2. My Sister's Chicago Bullet Skates.

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3. I Use The Chicago Bullets!

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:20 AM | Permalink

Local Book Notes: Brain Ghosts, Buzz Rides, Card Cheats, Literary Frauds & Identity Crises

1. Who Are We?

Palabra Pura, the Guild Literary Complex's monthly Spanish/English reading series, presents a final summer show on Wednesday, July 15, from 7:30 p.m. - 9 p.m. at La Bruquena Restaurant (2726 West Division Street).

Latinidad, curated by Ruben Quesada, will focus on cultural identity as shaped by violence, asking "Who are we?" The reading event is free and open to the public ($5 donations suggested).

For featured authors Diego Baez and Amy Sayre Baptista, violence inhabits their lives and what they write about.

This is a violence that divides our culture and us; this is a colonization of our identity as a man, as a woman, and as a Latina/o. What does it mean to be Latina/o?

These poets sing compelling stories about the lives of men and women navigating a changing landscape of language, culture, and the physical body. Their passion is for the experiences of the unheard, the misunderstood, and the undervalued. They manifest political, historical, and secret stories with vehement compassion and grace.

In 2015, Palabra Pura celebrates 10 years of monthly Spanish/English readings by Latino and Chicano authors from Chicago and all the Americas - making it the longest-running program of its kind in the city.

2. The Ghost In My Brain.

In 1999, a car accident left DePaul University professor Clark Elliott concussed. As a leading scientist in the field of artificial intelligence he was intrigued by the impact on his brain and kept meticulous notes documenting the effects of his traumatic brain injury. Those notes became the basis for his new book. He join[ed] us on Chicago Tonight.

There's also an excerpt at that link.

3. Buzz Ride.

"I hope you'll be interested in speaking with Chicago resident Pat White about his book Buzz Ride and what he learned during his experiment as a rideshare driver across the city."

Sort of interested, but not enough to make time for it. I'll just post the rest of the pitch:

Anyone with a driver's license, clean background check, and a decent four-door car can become a rideshare driver. Pat White, a highly successful Chicago business consultant, became so intrigued by the success of rideshare apps he launched a three-month experiment. What he learned was far beyond even his wildest expectations.

In BUZZ RIDE: Memoirs of a Rideshare Driver, Pat White shares the incredible stories about the people he drove and the places they went in and around Chicago. He drove more than 600 people in his Mercedes, logging thousands of miles from spectacular homes and hot night spots to dive bars and apartments in some of the city's tougher neighborhoods. During the rides his car transformed from a simple sedan to an audition stage, boudoir or confessional, depending on the needs - and condition - of his passengers.

Pat's drive to succeed in the boardroom served him well as he competes to be the most efficient, profitable, and highly rated rideshare driver in the city. But driving strangers can have a dark side, and his personality undergoes a shift as he becomes more guarded, taking on the attitude of an urban survivalist. Readers get a true glimpse into the enterprising business with White's unvarnished version of his time on Chicago's city streets.

Pat is a lifelong Chicagoan. He began his professional career in 1979 as a runner on the Chicago Board Options Exchange. Then he became a retail stockbroker for several of Wall Street's largest and most prestigious firms. After 16 years as a stockbroker, he made the decision to pursue his MBA in management. He currently consults and advises some of the most influential Chicago businesses and families. The exploration of disruptive businesses and the new sharing-business paradigm led Pat on this unique journey.

4. Forbidden Lie$.

"Norma Khouri was perfect talent for a publishing house: an outspoken and articulate English-as-a-second-language author shining a light on a bone-chilling culture of brutal misogyny in an exotic foreign location," Luke Buckmaster writes for the Guardian.

Khouri's 2003 memoir, Forbidden Love, which detailed the "honour" killing of her childhood best friend, Dalia - purportedly murdered by her father in Jordan because she fell in love with a Christian soldier - became a blockbuster. The book was published in 16 countries, sold more than 250,000 copies worldwide, and positioned the author as a vigorous advocate for the rights of oppressed Arab women.

There is a scene near the beginning of director Anna Broinowski's terrific 2007 documentary Forbidden Lie$ that re-enacts the moment Khouri says she discovered her friend's dead body. The author herself (who was living in Queensland when the book was published) participates; we watch as she runs down a street to the scene of a crime and discovers an ambulance taking a body away. She moves inside a house screaming "where's Dalia and what have you done with her?" A man emerges wiping his hands with a bloodied cloth.

It's a deeply unsettling moment, but viewers familiar with the story-behind-the-story know there is a twist in the pipeline. Following an investigation by the Sydney Morning Herald journalist Malcolm Knox, it was discovered the book was fabricated and Khouri a fraud.

She lived in Chicago from the age of three and left the city in 1999 when the FBI wanted her for questioning over a series of property-related transactions. Forbidden Love was relocated to the pantheon of great literary hoaxes.

5. The Search For The World's Greatest Card Cheat.

"I first encountered the name S.W. Erdnase at random," Sam Munson writes for Boing Boing.

A former colleague turned out, under questioning, to be a fairly serious amateur prestidigitator; he told me about a book called the Expert at the Card Table, from which he had learned almost everything he knew about legerdemain. He told me, as well, that no-one really knew who the author was.

This itself was reason enough for interest - documentary absence carries with it in our infosaturated age the air of an earlier epoch. My interest developed into a novel, my second, called The War Against the Assholes, and still lives.

Though it stands no nearer to satisfaction. Erdnase's identity still remains a matter of educated speculation. We know this much: S.W. Erdnase is the name under which a, if not the, seminal 20th century English-language treatise on card manipulation appeared, amply illustrated, in 1902 from a publishing house in Chicago, a city described almost contemporaneously by Max Weber as resembling a human being with the skin removed.

6. Stranger Than Family.

"When the Avignone brood goes out, people rubberneck at the sight of the older white couple with five Korean and Indian children," David Gonzalez writes for the New York Times.

For a while, it bothered Matthew Avignone that he did not have a "normal" family - but who among us does? In his case, his parents adopted five children - four with special needs - creating a family by choice, not chance.

"People wonder why are we together," Mr. Avignone said. "People would come up to us at Walmart and ask my mom, 'Are these your children?' What I want to show is that we are not too far away from you, even though we look different. And though we have special needs, that does not define our family. What defines us is the fact that we are a family, that we love each other and that we'll be there for each other."

Those questions are at the heart of Stranger Than Family, an edition of 10 handmade books that is Mr. Avignone's take on his Illinois family. The volume includes formal portraits of his parents and siblings, as well as details and moments from their everyday lives. If the scenes are mundane at times, that was part of his intent, to show the bonds of rituals that have brought them together.

Matthew, 27, was the first child adopted from South Korea by his parents after they learned they could not have biological children. When the Korean government cracked down on foreign adoptions of healthy children, his parents adopted three special needs children: Alicia, who had cerebral palsy; Jami, who has spina bifida; and Eric, who is visually impaired. The Korean adoptees were joined by Nicholas, an autistic child who was born in India.

The project began in 2010 while Mathew was studying photography at Columbia College in Chicago, when he presented formal portraits of his family that he had taken with a Hasselblad. His classmates had the same reaction that strangers on the street had when they saw his family: Who are these people?

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:41 AM | Permalink

Oscar And Pulitzer Award-Winning Journalist Laura Poitras Sues U.S. Government To Uncover Records After Years Of Airport Detentions And Searches

Academy and Pulitzer Prize Award-winning documentary filmmaker Laura Poitras sued the Department of Justice (DOJ) and U.S. transportation security agencies Monday demanding they release records documenting a six-year period in which she was searched, questioned, and often subjected to hours-long security screenings at U.S. and overseas airports on more than 50 occasions.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) is representing Poitras in a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit against the Department of Homeland Security, DOJ, and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.

"I'm filing this lawsuit because the government uses the U.S. border to bypass the rule of law," said Poitras. "This simply should not be tolerated in a democracy.

"I am also filing this suit in support of the countless other less high-profile people who have also been subjected to years of Kafkaesque harassment at the borders. We have a right to know how this system works and why we are targeted."

Poitras is a professional journalist who won an Academy Award this year for her documentary film CITIZENFOUR about NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, shared in the 2014 Pulitzer for Public Service for NSA reporting, and is a recipient of a MacArthur Foundation "genius" grant. During frequent travel from 2006 to 2012 for work on her documentary films, Poitras was detained at the U.S. border every time she entered the country.

During these detentions, she was told by airport security agents that she had a criminal record (even though she does not), that her name appeared on a national security threat database, and, on one occasion, that she was on the U.S. government's No Fly List. She's had her laptop, camera, mobile phone, and reporter notebooks seized and their contents copied, and was once threatened with handcuffing for taking notes during her detention after border agents said her pen could be used as a weapon.

The searches were conducted without a warrant and often without explanation, and no charges have ever been brought against Poitras.

After years of targeting by security agents, Poitras last year filed FOIA requests for records naming or relating to her, including case files, surveillance records, and counterterrorism documents. But the agencies have either said they have no records, denying or ignoring her appeals for further searches, or haven't responded at all to her requests. For example, the FBI, after not responding to Poitras' FOIA request for a year, said in May it had located only six pages relevant to the request - and that it was withholding all six pages because of grand jury secrecy rules.

"The government used its power to detain people at airports, in the name of national security, to target a journalist whose work has focused on the effects of the U.S. war on terror," said David Sobel, EFF senior counsel.

"In refusing to respond to Poitras' FOIA requests and wrongfully withholding the documents about her it has located, the government is flouting its responsibility to explain and defend why it subjected a law-abiding citizen - whose work has shone a light on post-9/11 military and intelligence activities - to interrogations and searches every time she entered her country."

The detentions ended in 2012 after journalist Glenn Greenwald published an article about Poitras' experiences and a group of documentary filmmakers submitted a petition to DHS protesting her treatment.

"We are suing the government to force it to disclose any records that would show why security officials targeted Poitras for six years, even though she had no criminal record and there was no indication that she posed any security risk," said Jamie Lee Williams, an EFF attorney and the organization's Frank Stanton Legal Fellow.

"By spurning Poitras' FOIA requests, the government leaves the impression that her detentions were a form of retaliation and harassment of a journalist whose work has focused on U.S. policy in the post-9/11 world."

Poitras' documentary films include the 2006 Oscar-nominated My Country, My Country - a story about the Iraq war told through an Iraqi doctor and political candidate in Baghdad who was an outspoken critic of U.S. occupation.

Poitras also directed and produced the Emmy-nominated The Oath, a 2010 documentary film about Guantanamo Bay prison and the interrogation of Osama bin Laden's former bodyguard days after 9/11.

Poitras' latest film, CITIZENFOUR, about Snowden and NSA mass surveillance, earned her a Director's Guild of America Award and an Oscar.

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See the full complaint here.

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See also:
* The Intercept: Laura Poitras Sues U.S. Government To Find Out Why She Was Repeatedly Stopped At The Border.

* The Guardian: CITIZENFOUR's Laura Poitras Sues U.S. Over 'Kafkaesque Harassment.'

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Previously:
* Obama Secretly Expanded NSA Spying To Internet.

* Court: NSA Phone Program Illegal.

* The Chicago Connection To The Hidden Intelligence Breakdowns Behind The Mumbai Attacks.

* Human Rights Watch Sues DEA Over Bulk Collection Of American's Telephone Records.

* U.S. Secretly Tracked Billions Of Calls For Decades.

* Amnesty International Joins ACLU, Wikimedia In Lawsuit To Stop Mass Surveillance Program.

* Stop Spying On Wikipedia Users.

* EFF Wins Battle Over Secret Legal Opinions On Government Spying.

* The NSA's "U.S. Corporate Partners."

* I Fight Surveillance.

* Illegal Spying Below.

* Smith vs. Obama.

* EFF Sues NSA Over FOIA.

* Stand Against Spying.

* The NSA Revelations All In One Chart.

* U.S. Supreme Court Limits Cell Phone Searches.

* EFF To Court: There's No Doubt The Government Destroyed NSA Spying Evidence.

* House Committee Puts NSA On Notice Over Encryption Standards.

* 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 3:29 AM | Permalink

July 13, 2015

RatRod Ricky On RatRod TV

"RatRod Ricky pitches the official air tool of RatRodTV."


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See also:
* Seprel Nakel's YouTube page.

* TUFF TV.

* RatRod TV.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:11 PM | Permalink

The Weekend In Chicago Rock

You shoulda been there.

1. Diarrhea Planet at West Fest in West Town on Sunday night.


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2. Negative Scanner at West Fest in West Town on Saturday.

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3. Keeps at the Burlington on Friday night.

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4. Slaughter & The Dogs at Reggies on Sunday night.

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5. King Diamond at the Mayhem Festival in Tinley Park on Sunday night.

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6. Erykah Badu at Taste of Chicago on Thursday.

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7. Hellyeah at the Mayhem Festival in Tinley Park on Sunday night.

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8. Sister Sin at the Mayhem Festival in Tinley Park on Sunday.

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9. Slayer at the Mayhem Festival in Tinley Park on Sunday night.

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10. Frankie Beverly & Maze at Taste of Chicago on Sunday.

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11. Dead Moon at West Fest in West Town on Saturday night.

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12. Absolutely Not at West Fest in West Town on Saturday.

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13. Swirlies at West Fest in West Town on Sunday.

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14. Spray Paint at West Fest in West Town on Saturday night.

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15. DestrOi! DestrOi! at Reggies on Friday night.

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16. The Murder City Devils at West Fest in West Town on Sunday night.

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17. The Mekons at the Square Roots Festival in Lincoln Square on Friday night.

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18. Empire of the Sun at Mamby on the (Oakwood) Beach on Saturday night.

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19. Phantogram at Mamby on the (Oakwood) Beach on Sunday night.

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20. Passion Pit at Mamby on the (Oakwood) Beach on Sunday night.

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21. The Devil Wears Prada at the Mayhem Festival in Tinley Park on Sunday.

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22. Whitechapel at the Mayhem Festival in Tinley Park on Sunday.

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23. Thy Art Is Murder at the Mayhem Festival in Tinley Park on Sunday.

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24. Jungle Rot at the Mayhem Festival in Tinley Park on Sunday.

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25. Shattered Sun at the Mayhem Festival in Tinley Park on Sunday.

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26. Chris Cresswell at Beat Kitchen on Friday night.

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27. Spoon at Taste of Chicago on Saturday.

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28. The Althea Grace Band at Durty Nellie's in Palatine on Friday night.

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29. Weezer at Taste of Chicago on Wednesday.

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30. The Virus at Reggies on Friday night.

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31. Steve Miller Band at Ravinia on Friday night.

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32. Urge Overkill at the Square Roots Festival in Lincoln Square on Friday night.

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33. The Smithereens at Burger Fest in Roscoe Village on Saturday night.

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34. The Hang Union at Reggies on Saturday night.

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35. Toe at Lincoln Hall on Sunday night.

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36. Eddie Vedder at the Metro for Hot Stove Cool Music on Thursday night.

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37. Aretha Franklin at Ravinia on Saturday night.

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38. The Chieftains at Taste of Chicago on Friday.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 5:47 PM | Permalink

The [Monday] Papers

In case you missed it:

* The Beachwood Radio Hour #61A: Grateful Dead Edition.

Let there be ungentrified songs to fill the air: What the media and David Axelrod get wrong.

* The Beachwood Radio Hour #61B: Beachwood Does Tinder.

Like or Nope? Plus: Covering Chicago Violence In The Worst Possible Way; Really Reassessing Obama's Legacy; and Beachwood Funnies.

* The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour #59: What Cubs Kids?

One is not a wave. Plus: The Crushingly Boring Crosstown Classic; Jeff Samardzija Vu; Patrick Sharp Is Still No Longer A Blackhawk; World Cup Carli; and Elena Delle Donne Deserves More Stardom.

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New on the site so far today:

* The Cub Factor: Bot Day.

Teen Titans Edition: All I know is pain.

* The White Sox Report: Remain Calm.

Don't be fooled - wave the white flag.

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Now let's take a look at some items in the news.

"Chicago Public Schools on Monday unveiled dire financial projections for the coming school year, warning that cuts will be even worse than those announced earlier this month if pension relief is not granted in Springfield," the Tribune reports.

I'm sure the situation is dire, but just based on historical fact, I don't find any projections from CPS to be credible.

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"'We're trying to keep cuts from the classroom door, (but) we're not keeping them from the school door,' CPS interim CEO Jesse Ruiz said."

As I wrote earlier this month, there's really no such thing as keeping cuts from the classroom.

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"A video published this week as part of a lawsuit against the Chicago Police Department shows police flooding a street on Chicago's West Side," WBEZ reports.

"A large officer identified in court papers as Brett Kahn extends a telescoping baton and walks in a circle yelling at residents, 'Get out of the street or you're going to jail! Get out of the street or you're going to jail!'"

If you click through, you can watch the video for yourself.

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"The officer approaches a man identified in court papers as Jeremiah Smith, who is standing a couple feet from the curb. Officer Kahn grabs him by the shirt and, seemingly unprovoked, punches him in the head. Smith goes down and is handcuffed. A woman holding a small child near Smith puts her hand to her mouth in shock, and residents can be heard on the video yelling expletives at the police.

"Chicago police say the incident is under investigation but won't say whether Officer Kahn is on the job, or on leave, or desk duty or anything else. The police department's Office of News Affairs referred reporters to IPRA, the Independent Police Review Authority, but a spokesman for IPRA says they don't make employment decisions. He said CPD is indeed the appropriate source for that information."

I propose a new city slogan: "Welcome to Chicago - You'll Have To File A FOIA For That*."

*Which we will deny after a lengthy delay. Have a nice day!

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"With his decision to pull his request for a $500 million loan from the teachers' pension fund, Mayor Emanuel has ended his brief but entertaining experiment in financing public education by turning teacher into loan sharks," Ben Joravsky writes for the Reader.

"The deal fell apart because the teachers insisted that the mayor fortify the loan with collateral - like leases to Chicago Public Schools property - in case the city didn't make good on its loan payments."

I, for one, would have enjoyed watching Chicago's teachers repossess school property - such as the 50 or so schools closed by Rahm - as the city defaulted on its loan. Maybe the teachers could have re-opened those schools!

Now, is there a way to repossess the parking meters?

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"The Central Intelligence Agency's health professionals repeatedly criticized the agency's post-Sept. 11 interrogation program, but their protests were rebuffed by prominent outside psychologists who lent credibility to the program, according to a new report," the New York Times reports.

"The 542-page report, which examines the involvement of the nation's psychologists and their largest professional organization, the American Psychological Association, with the harsh interrogation programs of the Bush era, raises repeated questions about the collaboration between psychologists and officials at both the C.I.A. and the Pentagon.

"The report, completed this month, concludes that some of the association's top officials, including its ethics director, sought to curry favor with Pentagon officials by seeking to keep the association's ethics policies in line with the Defense Department's interrogation policies, while several prominent outside psychologists took actions that aided the C.I.A.'s interrogation program and helped protect it from growing dissent inside the agency . . .

"The report, which was obtained by The New York Times and has not previously been made public, is the result of a seven-month investigation by a team led by David Hoffman, a Chicago lawyer with the firm Sidley Austin at the request of the psychology association's board."

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BeachBook
* 54 Rays Die After Malfunction At Brookfield Zoo.

* Whatever Happened To That Riverfront Lighting Contest?

* The Largest Financial Crime In History That The Media Would Like You To Forget.

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TweetWood
A sampling.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Back in black.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 11:40 AM | Permalink

Bot Day

If you have kids in this day and age, you know the power of the DVR, on demand, and Netflix. Parents can play tantrum-saving cartoons at any second of the day.

I have boys seven and almost four, and we've found a good overlap with a show called Teen Titans. It's a cartoon that has superheroes at its core, but it's more about the day-to-day interaction of the teenish superheroes than actually stopping crime. And it's silly and clever enough to not be horrendous to watch as a middle-aged man.

Okay, I'm getting to the Cubs tie-in. One of the characters is called Cyborg and he is, um, a cyborg - part machine and part man/boy or whatever. And Cyborg was feeling bad about not having a pet, so he befriended a machine that was once an enemy called Pain Bot. And as much as he tried to reform Pain Bot, it just didn't work; the only thing Pain Bot knows how to say is, "All I know is pain." And that's what it felt like to be a Cub Fan this week. All we know is pain. How about that ninth-inning loss to the Cardinals when they were down to their last strike? All I know is pain. Or how about losing that game to the White Sox despite drawing seven walks by not scoring a single run to lose 1-0? All I know is pain. And while we are at it, how about all those years you've been alive as a Cub fan? All I know is pain.

So yeah, I sometimes watch that Teen Titans episode (it's a fave so we see it at least once a week - don't judge me) and I feel like Cyborg, trying to love something that only knows how to do one thing, inflict pain. So yeah, despite all the goodness of this season thus far and currently holding the second wild-card spot, I feel like the Cubs are going to turn on me with a really big knife or a horrific electric shock, or just a big drill that goes straight through my brain. All we know is pain.

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Week in Review: The Cubs split two of four games with the Cardinals and lost two of three to the White Sox for a 3-4 week heading into the All-Star break. I want to say it could have been worse, but it really couldn't have been worse. It should have been a 5-2 week, and those two that got away were bad ones. Bad.

The Week in Preview: Most of the Cubs get a break over the All-Star pause to think about what they've done in the first half of the season. I'm thinking that Chris Coghlan will look back on this first half and think, how in the world am I still in this lineup almost every day? Next weekend the Cubs get back to business with three in Atlanta.

Left Field Report: Chris Coghlan finally got less playing time; two starts, than someone else, then five starts, in left field. The problem was the someone else was Chris Denorfia. Sure, Denorfia's numbers are slightly better this year than Coghlan's, but he is still Coghlanesque. Baseball Reference does a thing where they show you player stats and then list the most similar players throughout the history of baseball to the guy you are looking. Here is Chris Denorfia's list:

1. Alejandro De Aza (975)
2. Terry Whitfield (975)
3. Al Woods (972)
4. Gene Hermanski (970)
5. Brady Clark (970)
6. Mike Kingery (967)
7. Bud Stewart (966)
8. Bernie Neis (966)
9. Chris Coghlan (965)
10. Bob Seeds (963)

Gotta love No. 9. Need I say more? Anyway, the trade talk with the Cubs seems to be around more pitching, but there is almost no way they can't get better with anyone else in left - or even center.

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Here, by the way, is Coghlan's most similar list:

1. Alejandro De Aza (970)
2. Fred Lewis (969)
3. Lew Ford (967)
4. Chris Denorfia (965)
5. Al Woods (961)
6. Jimmy Ripple (960)
7. Kiddo Davis (959)
8. Cal Abrams (958)
9. Ernie Koy (958)
10. Terry Whitfield (958)

Denorfia is 4th on Coghlan's list whereas Coghlan is 9th on Denorfia's list. But one thing is certain, they are both De Aza . . .

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In former left-fielder news, Augie Galan last played left field for the Cubs in 1941. Galan threw right-handed and began his career as a switch-hitter, but, starting in the latter part of 1943, he became strictly a left-handed hitter until the end of his career. Which is smart if you are clearly better at one side over the other (looking at you, Dexter Fowler). Augie Died in 1993 and also never saw the Cubs win the World Series, like the rest of us. He is missed.

Mad(don) Scientist Big Poppa Joe has at least acknowledged the pantsless bear in the room by talking about the Cubs' lack of offense a bit this week, but he's too classy to say anything different. I think you call that classy. Right?

Wishing Upon A Starlin: Another week and another drop in the numbers. Castro is now batting .247 with a .283 OBP. Do guys lose it at 25? Because it seems like it's lost.

Kubs Kalender: Anthony Rizzo and Kris Bryant are both participating in the Home Run Derby. And a lot of talk from the blowhards will be about how the resurgent Cubs are led by their position-playing talent. When it's really just the pitching.

Ameritrade Stock Pick of the Week: Shares of Pain traded higher this week. They only know how to go higher.

Over/Under: The number of back, back, backs I will listen to: +/- .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 All-Star games should be exhibitions and nothing else.

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* Touch 'em all: The Cub Factor archives.

* Know thy enemy: The White Sox Reports.

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Marty Gangler is our man on the Cub. He welcomes your comments.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:30 AM | Permalink

Remain Calm

Are we to believe that the White Sox recent streak of nine wins in 12 games, including taking two of three at Wrigley Field over the weekend, is a portent of a drive to postseason contention? Improbable but not impossible. This puzzling group has shored up its defense while the pitchers have led the charge in close, low-scoring, nail-biting games. Meanwhile, hits still are few and far between, let alone runs.

But we must remain calm. This is not the time for hopes to rise because most teams continue on a similar pace in the season's final 80 games like they performed in the initial 80. Lest euphoria reign, let's pause this week for the four-day All Star break. It comes at an opportune time. We can relax along with the entire Sox roster sans Chris Sale, who will be the team's lone representative Tuesday night.

It's also a good time to take a peek at history.

Most often the teams qualifying for the postseason at the All-Star break remain in the same position the rest of the season. Take last year, for example. At the break, all five American League teams that eventually kept playing into October, occupied the top spots in mid-July: Baltimore, Detroit, Kansas City, Oakland and the Angels. The A's traded places with the Angels in the second half, as Anaheim won the division after trailing Oakland for much of the season, but the A's still qualified for the playoffs.

In the National League, there was a bit of movement as the Braves and Brewers faded to be replaced by the Cardinals and Pirates.

In the vast majority of cases, teams in position for the postseason at the All Star break are favorites for staying there. But at the same time, a club or two will have a surge to overtake one of the front runners.

In 2014, the Pirates went 39-28 after the break, while St. Louis was 38-28. Nice records to be sure, but not overwhelming. What hastened their ascension to the postseason was Milwaukee slumping to 29-37 while Atlanta went 27-40.

Aside from the fact that the White Sox are just five-and-a-half games out of a wild card berth, they will have to leapfrog six clubs to get there. We can't expect all of them to tank any more than we can count on the White Sox playing at .750 like they have the last two weeks.

But chances are there will be a team or two that gets hot and makes a bid to play past 162 games. Can the White Sox be one of those clubs?

Yogi Berra once said, "Good pitching will beat good hitting and vice versa." Of course, we know what he meant, and the Sox proved it last week when they took three-of-four from the imposing Toronto Blue Jays, who came to The Cell as the highest-scoring team in baseball.

Chris Sale beat Mark Buehrle 4-2 on Monday (more about that later) before Jose Quintana lost a tough 2-1 decision the next night. (Quintana may have the least luck of any pitcher in baseball. The Cubs beat him 3-1 on Sunday.) After Adam Eaton's eleventh-inning home run beat the Jays 7-6 on Wednesday, Jeff Samardzija shut out Toronto 2-0 on Thursday yielding a mere four hits.

Proving that Yogi was onto something, the mastery continued on the North Side with a 1-0 win on Friday followed by another Sale masterpiece on Saturday in a 5-1 decision. In Friday's game, the Sox scored the lone run without the benefit of a hit as Emilio Bonifacio was hit with a pitch, stole second, and was sacrificed to third by Eaton. He scored on pinch-hitter deluxe J.B. Shuck's flyball to left.

After Sox pitching racked up 30 consecutive scoreless innings - the longest streak by a Sox staff since 1986 - the Cubs put up a run on Saturday. For the last 12 games, the White Sox pitchers have a sparkling 2.16 ERA. Couple with that a defense that accounted for five double plays on Friday along with a number of outstanding plays, and the Sox have been able to overcome an attack that still has scored the fewest runs of any team in baseball.

Adding a dose of offense to the mix certainly would help the Sox' prospects, but there have been many light-hitting teams that won a lot of games. The Cardinals have the best record in the major leagues, yet they're tied for 18th in runs scored. If Sox pitching and defense come close to where they've been the last couple of weeks, they'll continue to improve.

Of course, what could mess with this dynamic is the real possibility that Samardzija - a free agent at season's end - will be dealt between now and July 31. Such a trade would signal that the front office is giving up on this season with an eye to the future, at which point The Cell will draw about as many people as Radio Shack in August and September.

It's conceivable that Samardzija is not as attractive as some observers think - Johnny Cueto and Cole Hamels are out there as well - since he no doubt would be a two-month rental for whoever gets him. We saw how that worked out last season when Oakland's Billy Beane traded the likes of Addison Russell for Samardzija and Jason Hammel in early July before adding Jon Lester right at the deadline. A contender last year, the last-place A's still are reeling.

Manager Robin Ventura was one of the most outspoken members of the 1997 White Sox when they made the infamous "white flag trade" at the deadline. In third place with a 52-53 record but trailing division-leader Cleveland by just 3.5 games at the time, three top pitchers were traded to the Giants, who went on to win their division while the Sox finished at 80-81.

Ventura was asked last week how the club would deal with losing Samardzija, and he diplomatically said that it obviously would hurt to lose a pitcher of the Shark's stature. No matter what you think of Ventura's attributes (or lack thereof) as a manager, he is not a quitter. If Samardzija departs, you wouldn't blame Ventura if those acid memories from 18 years ago are once again stirred up.

Chances are Samardzija will stay if the resurgence continues.

There is, however, another aspect that could derail the team, and that is injuries. While Detroit is playing without Miguel Cabrera after missing Victor Martinez for much of the season, Kansas City's All-Star left fielder Alex Gordon will be out for at least seven more weeks with a severe groin strain. The Tigers are barely a .500 team, although their bullpen is partly responsible, and we'll have to see how the Royals react to Gordon's absence. So far the Sox have been extremely fortunate. They could ill-afford losing any of their starting pitchers, closer David Robertson, or Jose Abreu, Melky Cabrera, Avi Garcia, or Adam Eaton. The team has been remarkably healthy so far this season. Staying that way could be key to run for the playoffs.

Another key could be what Steve Stone referred to last week: home runs. For a team that has so many problems scoring, the long ball could be a panacea. Two of the last nine wins came via the courtesy of home runs by Eaton and Tyler Flowers in the team's final at-bat. The Sox have hit only 60 homers in 2015. Only two teams have hit fewer. As unlikely as it sounds, if guys like Adam LaRoche, Cabrera and Garcia could find their long-ball stroke, the offense would be immensely more potent. With six round-trippers, leadoff man Eaton has just one less homer than Garcia and Flowers and three less than LaRoche. How sad is that?

At least the boys are playing some exciting games, none more so than last Monday when shortstop Jose Reyes's error behind Buehrle opened the gates to an eighth-inning three-run rally as the Sox escaped with a 4-2 verdict. Buehrle didn't give up an earned run. You could excuse him if he was confused, thinking he was still pitching for the White Sox. Both Sale and Buehrle pitched complete games. Neither issued a walk. That's been done just one previous time this season back in April when Seattle's Felix Hernandez bested the Twins' Phil Hughes 2-0.

The time of Monday's game was a slick 1:54 despite two challenges by Toronto manager John Gibbons. Of the 95 active major league pitchers with at least 100 starts, Buehrle works the fastest. His games take an average of 2:39. Sale is 10th at 2:47.

Talking about Buehrle, he won on Sunday, making him 10-5 for the season. He now has 209 career wins, of which 161 came in a White Sox uniform. (I had the wrong number in last week's column; 161 is correct.)

SaleK.jpg

Adding to Monday's fun were about 15,000 "K cards" given to fans as Sale tried to strike out ten batters for the ninth consecutive game. He fanned only six Blue Jays, but snagging the victory was so much sweeter.

So as Sale heads to Cincinnati, the rest of us who follow these events can take a break. A few days of void of leaving runners on base, botched bunts, and ill-timed errors are a welcome relief. When play begins again on Friday at The Cell with a doubleheader against the Royals, we'll see whether the White Sox can continue their upward spiral. It won't take long to find out.

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

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:59 AM | Permalink

July 11, 2015

The Beachwood Radio Hour #61B: Beachwood Does Tinder

Like or Nope? Plus: Covering Chicago Violence In The Worst Possible Way; Really Reassessing Obama's Legacy; and Beachwood Funnies.


SHOW NOTES

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:00: Strawberry Rock Show.

* The Beachwood Radio Hour 61A: Grateful Dead Edition.

1:31: Kehlani feat. Chance the Rapper at Lincoln Hall on Tuesday night.

4:12: Covering Violence The Worst Way Possible.

* The Beachwood Radio Hour #60: Don't Blame Garry McCarthy For Rahm Emanuel's Crime-Causing Policies.

* Pliable time frames.

* Shitty shooting stats.

* Context-free.

* Scanner stenography.

* Crappy comparisons.

* Breitbart: 82 Shot, 15 Killed Over Fourth Of July Weekend. Headline now adjusted without any acknowledgement of their big boo-boo.

14:47: Whitney at the Owl on Monday night.

* Pointless photos.

* Kass: No Answers At Shrine To A Fallen Innocent.

* Konkol: A Plea To Break The No-Snitch Code.

* Once again: There is no such thing as black-on-black crime.

* How The U.S. Government And White People Created Crime- And Poverty-Ridden Ghettos.

26:13: Hums + Haws at the Empty Bottle on Monday night.

27:53: Really Reassessing Obama's Legacy.

* Third item: Confederate flag? What the hell did Obama have to do with that?

* The rest:

* #UniteBlue.

46:40: Doomsquad at the Garfield Park Conservatory on Monday night.

48:37: Beachwood Funnies.

* Rahm's Plan C.

* CPS Covers Madonna.

* Exclusive! Inside Amtrak's New Union Station.

* LiLo vs. Blago.

* Greece: The Musical.

58:06: Fucked Up at the Garfield Park Conservatory on Monday night.

59:15: The Beachwood Does Tinder.

STOPPAGE: 17:18.

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For archives and other Beachwood shows, see The Beachwood Radio Network.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 4:24 PM | Permalink

The Beachwood Radio Hour #61A: Grateful Dead Edition

Let there be ungentrified songs to fill the air: What the media and David Axelrod get wrong.


SHOW NOTES

:00: Strawberry Rock Show.

1:13: Lenka at the Beat Kitchen on Wednesday night.

4:28: Long Live The Dead.

* Kot: Grateful Dead Play Slack Tribute To Legacy.

* Gendron: Missing Garcia, Finding Spirit In The Crowd.

* Dead in the head.

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* We came here to get away from you.

* "In Bloom," not "Lithium."

51:42: Ripple.

* Songfacts: Ripple.

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Previously in the Dead:
* Confessions Of A Covert Deadhead.

* Grateful Dead Chicago.

* Meet Chicago's Worst Deadheads.

* Items 2 & 3.

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See also:
* Hippies, Yippies, Yuppies: How the 1% Diluted the Progressive Movement by Slandering Boomers to Foster Culture War Between Them and Gen Xers and to Distract from Their Own Looting.

* The Big Lie About Yuppies Being Hippies.

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STOPPAGE: 3:34

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For archives and other Beachwood shows, see The Beachwood Radio Network.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 2:44 PM | Permalink

July 10, 2015

The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour #59: What Cubs Kids?

One is not a wave. Plus: The Crushingly Boring Crosstown Classic; Jeff Samardzija Vu; Patrick Sharp Is Still No Longer A Blackhawk; World Cup Carli; and Elena Delle Donne Deserves More Stardom.


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SHOW NOTES

* Wilber Marshall.

* Wilber Marshall Is Not Doing Well Physically Or Financially.

* Joe Cain.

* Ron Rivera.

2:36: The Crushingly Boring Crosstown Classic.

* The BP Crosstown Cup.

* Restore Wrigley.

* Morrissey: Of All The Sports Execs In Chicago, Cubs' Theo Has It The Easiest.

* Joe Ricketts' 47 percent moment:

12:52: What Kids?

* How current Cubs were acquired. Vaunted farm system? No.

C - Montero. TRADE
1B - Rizzo. TRADE
2B - Russell. TRADE
SS - Castro. INHERITED; HENDRY INTL FREE AGENT
3B - Bryant. DRAFT
LF - Coghlan. FREE AGENT
CF - Fowler. TRADE
RF - Soler. INTL FREE AGENT

SP - Lester. FREE AGENT
SP - Arrieta. TRADE
SP - Hammel. FREE AGENT
SP - Hendricks. TRADE
SP - Wada/Wood/Jackson/Roach/Richards/Beeler. FREE AGENT/TRADE/FREE AGENT/WAIVER CLAIM/TRADE/HENDRY DRAFT PICK

RP - Rondon. RULE 5 PICK
RP - Motte. FREE AGENT
RP - Ramirez. TRADE
RP - Grimm. TRADE
RP - Strop. TRADE
RP - Russell. HENDRY DRAFT PICK; RE-SIGNED FREE AGENT

DL - Ross. FREE AGENT
DL - Rosscup. TRADE
DL - LaStella. TRADE
DL - Olt. TRADE
DL - Turner. TRADE

Bench - Teagarden. FREE AGENT
Bench - Herrera. FREE AGENT
Bench - Denorfia. FREE AGENT
Bench - Baxter. FREE AGENT

* Batting ninth.

20:20: What Marty Said: How The Cubs Are Really Winning.

* See also: The Beachwood Radio Hour #58: The Real Cubs Story.

* Albert Pujols.

* Yadier Molina.

* Michael Wacha.

* Kolten Wong.

* Tommy Pham.

* Dan Vogelbach (actually in AA).

28:29: Patrick Sharp Is Still No Longer A Blackhawk.

BREAKING:

31:06 Jeff Samardzija Vu.

* Star of his own annual Trade Or Sign drama.

* Designated first baseman Adam LaRoche.

* Getaway day.

* Home dayfield advantage.

* Priority: second.

* DJ LaMahieu.

43:37: World Cup Carli.

* The men's Gold Cup.

* The Chicago Fire Did Something This Week.

50:39: Elena Delle Donne Deserves More Stardom.

* Jimmy The Butler.

* Aaron The Brooks.

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For archives and other Beachwood shows, see The Beachwood Radio Network.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 1:00 PM | Permalink

The Week In Chicago Rock

You shoulda been there.

1. Lenka at the Beat Kitchen on Wednesday night.


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2. Kehlani feat. Chance the Rapper at Lincoln Hall on Tuesday night.

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3. Whitney at the Owl on Monday night.

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4. Hums + Haws at the Empty Bottle on Monday night.

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5. Doomsquad at the Garfield Park Conservatory on Monday night.

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6. Fucked Up at the Garfield Park Conservatory on Monday night.

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7. DEN at Permanent Records on Sunday.

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8. Brian Wilson at Ravinia on Tuesday night.

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9. Morrissey at the Civic Opera House on Thursday night.

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10. Sewers at Permanent Records on Sunday.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:10 AM | Permalink

Beware Wall Street's Magic Pension Beans

If there were ever a time not to bet the moon on the stock and bond markets, it's now, with U.S. stocks at near-record highs and interest rates on quality bonds at near-record lows. But Wall Street is urging state and local governments to do just that - and they're listening.

Despite the risks, governments are lining up to issue billions of dollars in new debt to replenish their depleted pension funds and, as a bonus, take some pressure off strapped budgets. In some cases, the borrowing makes their balance sheets look vastly better.

Bankers, who make fat fees for raising the money, are encouraging this borrow-and-bet trend. Their sales pitch is that borrowing at today's low interest rates all but guarantees a profit for the governments because they can invest the proceeds in their pension funds and for decades earn returns higher than the 5 percent or so in interest that they will pay on the bonds.

But there's a catch: If the timing is wrong, these so-called pension obligation bonds could clobber the finances of the government issuers. Pension funds and beneficiaries will be better off because pensions will be more soundly financed. But taxpayers - present and future - might be considerably worse off. They will be running huge risks and could get stuck with a massive tab.

"It's sold as a magic bean," said Todd Ely, a professor at the University of Colorado at Denver who has studied pension bonds. "But when it goes bad it's not free. Then it isn't really magic. If it could be counted on to work as often as it's supposed to, then everyone would be doing it."

Plenty of takers are bellying up to the borrowing bar. Governments sold $670 million worth of pension bonds through the first half of this year, more than double the $300 million raised for all of last year, according to deal-trackers at Thomson Reuters.

That total would more than double if Kansas completes a pending $1 billion deal, which would be its biggest bond issue. A $3 billion sale is under consideration in Pennsylvania, that state's largest as well. Lawmakers recently rejected record multibillion-dollar deals in Kentucky and Colorado, but those proposals are expected to resurface. And new proposals are being pitched to other governments.

Pension bonds have waxed and waned since the 1980s, but the current boom is different. An examination by the Washington Post and ProPublica found that it's being driven not only by the prospect of investment profits but also by a new accounting quirk that has largely escaped public notice while morphing into a major marketing tool for Wall Street banks.

The quirk stems from a rule change that, ironically, was meant to force governments to more clearly disclose the health of their pension funds. But a side effect is to allow governments with extremely underfunded pensions to slash reported shortfalls by $2 or more for each $1 borrowed.

Here's how: If a pension plan is so poorly funded that it is projected to run out of cash, the new rules require it to make less optimistic projections about future returns. That increases the reported pension shortfall. But if governments infuse a big slug of borrowed money into the fund, they can resume using optimistic projections, and the shortfall shrinks.

It's like getting a new credit card, borrowing on it to pay off part of an existing loan, then having the total amount owed magically shrink by more than what is borrowed. Sounds impossible - but it's true.

The impact can be dramatic. In March, the town of Hamden, Conn., reduced its unfunded pension amount by about $320 million with a $125 million pension bond and promises of future payments, according to an estimate by ProPublica and the Post. The Kentucky Teachers' Retirement System said it estimates that a $3.3 billion bond issue plus payment promises could carve $9.5 billion off its unfunded liability.

Those figures don't reflect the decades of debt and risk placed on taxpayers.

The rule change, from the Governmental Accounting Standards Board, has been in the making since 2006, but is only now starting to take effect - and to be noticed. So GASB (pronounced GAZ-bee) is fast becoming a recognized acronym in state capitals.

"GASB is certainly a huge concern," said Beau Barnes, deputy executive secretary of the Kentucky system. Until this year the term was unfamiliar to state legislators, he said, "but in 2015 when you say 'GASB,' most of them have an idea that it's going to be bad."

It's not clear whether anyone involved in the long rulemaking process realized that the change would encourage governments to sell bonds to improve their balance sheets.

We asked GASB Chairman David Vaudt about this, but couldn't get a clear answer. His response was, "We follow our due process, and the input that we consider is from our stakeholders: the preparers, auditors and users" of governmental financial statements.

The question of whether governments will come out ahead in the real world - as opposed to the accounting world - with pension bonds is far from clear. In large part, it depends on governments' willingness to make substantial payments to their pension funds after the bonds are sold.

A review by ProPublica and the Post of the 20 largest pension bonds issued since 1996 found that in three-fourths of the deals, governments did not make their full required contribution in the years after the bonds were sold. Those bonds account for nearly two-thirds of the pension debt issued since 1996, according to Thomson Reuters. In more than half the deals, some proceeds even went on to make annual pension contributions - borrowing from the future to pay today's expenses.

Because of the underfunding, most of the pension funds now are worse off than before the bonds were issued.

In all five recent or proposed bond sales examined - by Kentucky, Kansas, Pennsylvania, Colorado and the town of Hamden, Conn. - the issuers and potential issuers said they were planning to make less than full payments for many years.

"These bonds are pernicious," said Alicia Munnell, director of the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College. "They discourage pension funding. They shift costs forward to future generations."

'Dark Road With Thorns'

Munnell said that soundly funding pensions is a much more important factor in the overall success of a bond issue than outearning interest costs - which is largely a roll of the dice.

A 2010 study by Munnell's group of all the pension bonds issued since 1986 showed that, in most cases, the interest paid on the bonds exceeded the return on pension fund assets. Returns had been hurt by the 2007-2009 market crash. But a 2014 update, five years into the current bull market, showed the reverse, with most issuers ahead.

Given this mixed history, Wall Street salespeople point to the bonds' other benefits. Bonds offer "immediate budget relief," as Citigroup put it in sales pitches to Colorado and Pennsylvania, whereas funding pensions "contributes to budget stress."

In a pitch book to Kentucky, investment bank Raymond James asserted that the bonds would "materially reduce the reported liability" that the teachers' retirement system would have to disclose under the new GASB rule. Bank of America Merrill Lynch also cited the rules in a pitch book to Pennsylvania. Both banks declined comment, as did others we contacted.

There's big money at stake not only for the prospective borrowers, but for Wall Street as well. The pending $1 billion Kansas issue is expected to generate more than $3 million in fees for bankers, while providing budget relief for Gov. Sam Brownback (R) and lawmakers.

You can see why people whose time horizons don't extend past the next election might like pension bonds: Reducing the required annual pension payments leaves more money for schools, roads and other needs.

Hamden's experience shows how this can play out. In 2014, after years of underfunding, the small New Haven suburb's pension fund was about to run out of money. The town faced the prospect of having to pay pensions directly out of its $211 million operating budget. The tab was projected to grow to more than $60 million annually, said Mayor Curt Leng, an amount Hamden simply couldn't afford without a "gigantic tax increase."

Hamden also would have had to show a huge increase in its unfunded pension liability under the new rules.

Connecticut law requires issuers of pension bonds to make the full required annual pension payments after the bonds are issued - a safeguard to make sure politicians can't dig the hole deeper later on. The law would have compelled Hamden to put in $29.5 million this year.

"We would have had to lay off half our police force and three-quarters of our fire department to make it happen," said Scott Jackson, who was Hamden's mayor when the bonds were issued.

So Hamden - population 61,000 - got the state legislature to pass a law giving "any municipality in New Haven County with a population of less than 65,000" an exemption from the full-payment requirement.

After the bond sale - which doubled the town's outstanding debt - Hamden's pension fund went from almost broke to a still-low 40 percent funded. This year, it put in roughly half its normal required contribution. The town doesn't have to make full payments until 2019.

Even if Hamden ultimately makes the payments and earns its projected 7 percent annual return, the pension won't be fully funded until 2044. If things go badly, its funding level will linger at 40 percent.

Jackson said he doesn't think Hamden had much choice: "If you're staring at a dark road and a dark road with thorns in it," he said, "take the dark road."

Known Unknowns

Issuing bonds to fund pensions originated in the 1980s, when state and local governments realized they could use their tax-exempt status to borrow at low cost and get guaranteed higher returns.

In 1984 and 1985, the first two governments to use the strategy - a school district in Oregon and the city of Oakland, Calif. - sold low-interest tax-exempt bonds and bought annuity contracts that paid their pension funds fixed amounts of money each year.

Because the annuity income exceeded interest costs, the strategy was a surefire winner. "You knew what the annuities were going to pay," said Bob Muszar, president of the Retired Oakland Police Officers Association, who has studied the city's pension bonds. "You don't know what the stock market is going to pay."

Congress quickly decided that it didn't want local governments using their tax-exempt status to mint free money, and closed the loophole in 1986 by making interest on pension bonds taxable. Governments could still borrow to fund pensions - but they had to take on serious risk.

Bankers then changed their sales pitch from "borrow to buy annuities" to "borrow to make a profit in the market." Returns would be nice enough for the issuer to come out ahead, the new pitch went.

Governments can borrow cheaply these days - but the risks of investing pension bond proceeds are unusually high.

Stock prices have more than tripled from their 2009 lows and are elevated by historical standards. At the same time, interest rates on high-quality bonds - the kind pension funds invest in - are at very low levels. When interest rates rise, as is widely expected to happen, bondholders - including pension funds - will get whacked.

Should the U.S. stock market fall 20 or 25 percent soon after bond proceeds are invested, it will put issuers into such a deep hole that they may never come close to making the returns they bet on. In the past 16 years, the market has twice fallen by more than 50 percent.

Given today's markets and governments' histories of cutting pension contributions after selling bonds, the Government Finance Officers Association, Munnell's retirement research center and many credit analysts say they now consider pension bonds a terrible idea. Previously, they were mildly negative. Now, they're wildly negative.

"I think that right now is probably as sketchy a time as any to get into pension bonds," said Dustin McDonald, who leads federal liaison efforts at the finance officers association. "You're gambling with taxpayer dollars that in the end the investments you're making are going to pan out for you . . . I just think it's desperation that makes you make the decision."

The association previously had cautioned against these bonds, saying they were risky. But in January, it officially recommended against using them.

Eric Atwater, the actuary who advised Hamden on its deal, said pension bonds aren't the problem. "It's the potential impact on future behavior after it's done that can cause problems," he said, pointing to so-called pension funding "holidays."

The biggest pension bond in history - Illinois' $10 billion issue in 2003 - shows how pension funds can deteriorate even when the markets are with you.

Illinois has earned more by investing bond proceeds than it has paid out in interest. But after that issue, the state cut back regular contributions and delayed reforms. It later doubled down by selling another $7.1 billion in pension bonds to pay for its annual contributions.

It's no accident that Illinois now has the worst state credit rating in the nation. Its pension funds are more than $100 billion underwater, putting huge pressure on its budget.

One big pension fund seems to have done it right. Wisconsin was soundly funded, though not fully, when it sold $850 million of pension bonds in 2003. The state continued to make the full required payments to its pension, and a 2014 Pew Charitable Trusts study said it was the best-funded state plan in the nation.

Betting on Liquid Assets

Nervousness about making huge, long-term bets has stymied some pension bond proposals - at least for now.

In February, Colorado Treasurer Walker Stapleton steered lawmakers away from authorizing a pension bond sale. Stapleton sent them a chart of the Standard & Poor's 500-stock index showing the two aforementioned 50 percent drops. Given the run-up in prices, he said, stocks were poised for a fall.

In an interview, Stapleton, a Republican, said he opposed letting Colorado's pension system make the state "pregnant" with a liability that could have tripled the state's debt. By making the pension fund look healthier, he said, it would also greatly reduce pressure to reform benefits and bring the system into long-term stability.

Greg Smith, executive director of Colorado's Public Employees' Retirement Association, said as much during an April meeting about the deal. ProPublica and the Post obtained an audio file of the session through an open-records request.

"We are a focus for the next legislative session in terms of potential focus on our benefit structure," Smith said, as he reminded board members that "our duties go exclusively to our members and beneficiaries" while the state bears the risk of any bond deal.

Asked about his remarks, Smith said that the pension bonds are meant to address the "failure to fund past promises," not to impede reforms.

Once legislators realized the bond issue could be as large as $12 billion, support quickly disappeared. "For us, the word 'billion' is a very large number," said state Sen. Chris Holbert (R), who voted against the bond proposal in committee.

One of the major problems with pension bonds, for taxpayers, is that they transform a relatively soft obligation into a hard one. Many governments have made deals to trim pension obligations, especially cost-of-living adjustments. But you can't trim back bond obligations without painful and messy restructuring.

In Pennsylvania, the Republican-controlled legislature would rather trim benefits than incur a hard obligation by supporting Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf's proposal to sell $3 billion in pension bonds.

Wolf wants to pay for the bonds with $185 million a year in projected profits from expanding sales at state-owned liquor stores. On Thursday, he vetoed a Republican package that, among other things, would have converted future pensions into a less-generous 401(k)-style plan.

The alternative? Drinking up to help fund pensions, and hoping not to get a hangover from pouring billions in liquid assets down the drain.

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ProPublica is a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative newsroom. Sign up for their newsletter.

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Comments welcome.


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:26 AM | Permalink

Beachwood Photo Booth: Evanston Oasis

Yellow brick home.

hamburgershotevanstonexp2bw.jpg(ENLARGE FOR PROPER VIEWING; CLICK TWICE EVEN BETTER!)

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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.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Signpost.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Old Man And The Tree.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Street Fleet.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Citgo Story.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Fantasy Hair Design.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Garage.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Clark Stop.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Pole Position.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Window Dressing.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Geometry.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Found Love.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Fill In The Blank.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Vacuums Of The Night.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Dumpster Still Life.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Wagon Master.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Intersecting West Rogers Park.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Penn-Dutchman Antiques.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Cow Patrol.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Backstage Chicago.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Skully Bungalow.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Francisco Frankenstein.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Long Cool Heat.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Smokers' Mast.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Big Fat Phone.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Happy Day.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Alley Men.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Holiday Show!
* Beachwood Photo Booth: You've Got Mailbox.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Broken Window Theory.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Dali Logan.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Svengoolie.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Horner Park Hot Dogs.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Cubs Rehab.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: 20th Century Schizoid Man.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Men On Vans.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Penn-Dutchman Is Done.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Snowy Lincoln.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Waiting Room.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Avondale Chicken.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Winter's End.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: The Friendly Skies.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Boyhood Buzzer Beater.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: J Date.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: International Window Lady.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Shanghai Inn.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Open For Business.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Andersonville Unplugged.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: 3-Flat.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Evanston Turkey.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicagolandia.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Eat At Odge's.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Deitch Pharmacy.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Sud-Z Bubble.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Bands Wanted!
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Belmont Tavern.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Superheroic San Luis Freeze.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:45 AM | Permalink

July 8, 2015

Fantasy Fix: Drinking The Crosstown Kool-Aid

The "Crosstown Cup" rivalry between the Cubs and White Sox lacked any real tension the last few years as both teams scuffled. This year, the Cubs have been both good and lucky, while the Sox have been just plain bad, but I sense a comeback. Here's why:

1. The Cubs have been better than expected, currently sitting nine games over .500 and in the lead for the second wild card spot. They're coming off a couple motivational victories against the Cardinals, and are primed to go on a run. Having said that, given their wild card position, every game is important. The Cubs' bats have gone quiet lately, and I wonder how many runs total they can manage against this weekend's likely Sox starters - Carlos Rodon, Chris Sale and Jose Quintana. If they come out on the losing end in their six-game North Side-then-South Side series, it could very well make the difference in their potential to make the postseason.

2. The Sox have been worse - far worse - than expected, seven games under .500 when many people had them back in April as a dark horse to make the postseason. Everyone wants Robin Ventura's head on a platter, and while I'm not so sure that's a bad idea, the Sox are quietly finding themselves. They are 9-5 in their last 14 games and just six games out of the second wild card slot. A big part of this is their pitching, with Sale magnificent as usual, but Quintana never better and Rodon actually kinda maybe ready for a big second half. Can the Sox bats get going against former Sox pitcher Clayton Richard on Friday and then Kyle Hendricks and Jon Lester over the weekend?

My pick: I'm thinking the Sox could very well take two of three against the Cubs this weekend. If the Cubs beat the Cardinals again tonight, the high could carry them into another win Friday. Even if they lose, Rodon has been issuing a lot of walks, and could be overwhelmed by Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo - who by the way now kills left-handed pitchers. But Sale and Quintana have been two of the toughest starters in the majors of late, while Hendricks and Lester both have been inconsistent all year.

*

The rivalry weekend also makes for a good time to size up a couple of unheralded fantasy options from both teams. I would not describe either of these guys as must-haves, but I think both are at least a little under-owned right now:

Alexei Ramirez, SS, White Sox: Until the past two seasons, he was a guy who was terrible in the first two months of the season and much better after, and he might be returning to that mold. After hitting around .220 until mid-June, he is 9-for-18 recently, and remains a solid SB threat when on base. It will be interesting to see how things play out in the second half - he could end up being a trade piece if the Sox throw in the towel, and if he lands in a contender's lineup on a daily basis it could further drive up his numbers. However, if he is dealt to a team just looking for back-up infield help, his fantasy value could end there. His ownership in Yahoo! leagues has declined since Opening Day, so he's still available in more than 50% of them.

Jason Motte, RP, Cubs: Fantasy owners have mostly stayed away because the general impression is that Cubs manager Joe Maddon is using a closer-by-committee approach. It doesn't look that way to me - Motte has three saves in the last two weeks, with Justin Grimm getting the only other one in an 11-inning game. My theory is that Maddon and the front office liked Motte as closer all along for his World Series experience, and were just waiting for him to find his groove after a slow start so they could turn Hector Rondon and Pedro Strop into wicked set-up men - actually the true closers, according to some modern baseball thinking. Over the last 30 days, Motte has four wins, four saves, a 1.50 ERA and 1.00 WHIP. He did look shaky giving up a run and three hits against the Cardinals on Tuesday night, but has only given up two runs in 22 appearances since May 16. He's available in 77% of Yahoo! leagues.

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

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 1:24 PM | Permalink

July 7, 2015

The [Tuesday] Papers

The Papers will return on Monday, July 13. I need some "me" time.

In the meantime, I'll still be posting occasionally to our other sections.

I'll still be active on the Beachwood's Facebook and Twitter feeds.

I also hope to do some bonus podcasting along the way.

And if any of my get-rich-quick schemes come to pass in the next six days, well, see ya, suckers!

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Beachwood Radio Sports Hour: The Real Cubs Story
It's not what you think. It's what Marty said. Plus: The White Sox Meet Their Past; Old White Men vs. Soccer; Bulls Media Madness.

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Greece: The Musical
A Tim Willette work in progress.

Euro One That I Want.

Hopelessly Devoted To EU.

Look At Me, I'm Angela Mee.

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Greece Is The Worst.

Greece Plighting.

Eurozone Dropout.

- Marty Gangler

*

Alexis:
I got bills, they're multiplying
And I'm losing control
'Cause the funds you're supplying
I hear they're drying

Angela:
You better shape up, 'cause I have a plan
And my sights are set on you
You better shape up, you better understand
To my bonds I must be true

A&A:
Nothing left
Nothing left for me to do

Euro one that I want
Euro the one I want
Ooh, ooh, ooh - money!

Euro one that I want
Euro the one I want
Ooh, ooh, ooh - the one I need
Oh, yes, indeed

*

If you're moved to defection
You're too shy to convey
Raise a flag in my direction
Feel your way

I better shape up, 'cause you need a plan
I need a plan to keep me satisfied
I better shape up, if I'm gonna prove
You better prove that my faith is justified
Are you sure? No, I'm not down deep inside

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Mmmm, Ponderosa
This aired on local Chicago TV on Sunday, July 27, 1980.

"In 1965, Dan Lasater, Norm Wiese and Charles Kleptz founded Ponderosa in Kokomo, Indiana."

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Bubble Wrap Blasphemy
These people have no joy.

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Grateful Road House
The Grateful Dead Close Out Their Final Concert With Music And The Words 'Please, Be Kind.'

Until it's time not to be. - Dalton

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The Beachwood Tip Line: It's time.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:26 AM | Permalink

July 6, 2015

The Real Big 3

Remember when the Cubs had all these great young position players who were really good? And these kids were leading the team to a great bounce-back season after a handful of years of losing on purpose? Well, you shouldn't believe what you kind of think. Because the Cubs are having a solid year and it has close to nothing to do with these great young position players.

The Cubs are 12th (out of 15) in the NL in runs scored, yet have the fifth-best record in the league. It's all been the pitching, which is fourth in the league (still 15 teams) in ERA. And there are a ton of other fancy stats to tell you in every conceivable way that the Cubs have pitched their way out of the mess they were in a few years ago.

And it's not like they developed any of these arms in the minors - they traded for them or just bought them outright on the open market. Savvy moves in most cases (sorry, Lester) thus far, but all the patting on the back that Theo and company are doing (to themselves) about building from within is still a bunch of crap. It hasn't really led to any more wins than if they would have just bought and traded for position players - and you are saying that you couldn't have pieced together a lineup out of nothing that could be 12th in the league in hitting?

The narrative is still a bit off about what is really going on. Sure, down the line this may not matter. One World Series win and no one will ever care about any of this kind of stuff. Everyone will be too drunk to speak and have too much Champagne in their eyes to see what happened in the past.

But the Big Three on the North Side are not Bryant, Russell and Rizzo. They're Hammel, Arrieta and Hendricks.

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Week in Review: The Cubs' pitching staff gave up five runs in six games to go 5-1 for the week. The Marlins and Mets are worse at hitting a baseball than the Cubs. And that is not easy to do these days - I mean be worse than 12th in the league. (Still 15 teams in the NL.)

The Week in Preview: The Cubs stay home for four against the Cardinals and three against the White Sox. It seems like the Cardinals are due for a hiccup sometime - like losing to a team worse than they are. Which is all the teams, but they did just lose two games to the White Sox. So I guess anything can happen.

Left Field Report: Chris Coghlan was the left fielder for five of the six games this week, with Matt Szczur getting the lone other start. And then Szczur was sent down the minors. The interesting thing was that Szczur had two hits in the game he started, and Coghlan had three for the week. Chris ends the week with a Coghlanesque .254 batting average, yet still holding on to the job of primary left-field starter. How much more Chris Coghlan does Chris Coghlan have to be before he is former Cub Chris Coghlan? Aren't the Cubs trying now?

In former Cubs left fielder news, Moises Alou last played left field for the Cubs in 2004. He has teamed up with old pal Mark Prior in the Padres organization, which probably tells you why the Padres are a mess these days. Why would you do that to yourselves, Padres? Anyway, Moises is missed.

Mad(don) Scientist: Big Poppa Joe brought in a magic act to cure the Cubs' hitting and losing woes. I guess it worked. I am in continued fascination with Joe Maddon. His act is not getting old at all, but will it? I keep asking myself this same question. And then I think, just enjoy this guy instead of wondering things like that. Stop taking the fun out of things; do you always have to be that guy? And then my answer is, pretty much yes. You are too old to change.

Wishing Upon A Starlin: Our favorite Castro (sorry, Fidel) had a day off this week and Addison Russell played short. If Russell wasn't batting .229 himself you would raise an eyebrow at this seemingly random game of the season. But I think we are going to have to live with Starlin for a bit longer.

Kubs Kalender: On Friday, July 10, the Cubs will host a concert after the game against the White Sox. It's Fitz and the Tantrums. Because nothing says Crosstown Classic like Fitz and the Tantrums. Would have been cool to have some kind of Chicago band tie-in. But these guys never really get it.

Ameritrade Stock Pick of the Week: Shares of Bitterness should trade higher this weekend. The Sox are not in a good place.

Over/Under: The number of runs scored by both Chicago teams this weekend: +/- 6.5.

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

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* Touch 'em all: The Cub Factor archives.

* Know thy enemy: The White Sox Reports.

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Marty Gangler is our man on the Cub. He welcomes your comments.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 1:08 PM | Permalink

The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour #58: The Real Cubs Story

It's not what you think. Plus: The White Sox Meet Their Past; Old White Men vs. Soccer; Bulls Media Madness.


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SHOW NOTES

1:38: The Cub Factor: The Real Big 3.

* Addison Russell. I've been calling him Addison Reed all season.

* Actually, Miguel Montero was acquired in a trade.

16:48: Fractured Fairy Tales.

17:11: The White Sox Report: Present vs. Past.

24:39: Dudley Do-Right.

25:02: Old White Men vs. Soccer.

Rick Morrissey.

* 2010: Soccer Not My Cup Of Tea.

* 2014: World Cup Last Chance To Convert Soccer Nonbeliever.

* 2015: One Question After U.S. Team's Wonderful World Cup Title Game - What Now?

David Kaplan.

* Tribune: U.S. Girls, Women's Soccer Thriving - But Pro Team Owner Says Media Lagging.

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Plus:

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34:45: Famous Adventures of Mr. Magoo.

35:20: Bulls Media Madness.

* Twitter Asshole Joe Cowley Had Me Fired From The Sun-Times.

* Joe Cowley Rides A Plane, Degrades Women Everywhere.

* Joe Cowley Hates Women, Can't Write And Is A Lousy Reporter - But Keeps Job.

* Cowley: The Bulls Front Office Is Doing Its Best To Pretend Rose-Butler Conflict Doesn't Exist.

* Cowley: The Idea That Rift Is Much Ado About Nothing Is Just Not Accurate.

* K.C. Johnson: Jimmy Butler Says Relationship With Derrick Rose 'Fine.'

* Chicago Tribune Writer Sits On Fighting Bulls Scoop, Sun-Times Has No Problem With That.

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For archives and other Beachwood shows, see The Beachwood Radio Network.

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Comments welcome.

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1. From Tom Chambers:

As far as the lost opportunity in failing to cover soccer, while I don't think Morrissey has the brains to participate in such a conspiracy, could it be that soccer doesn't get the local coverage because of the ethnic diversity - or profile - of its fans?

Reply: Indeed.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 11:47 AM | Permalink

The Weekend In Chicago Rock

You shoulda been there.

1. The Grateful Dead at Soldier Field on Sunday night.


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2. Leftover Salmon at the Park West on Thursday night.

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3. Jackie Greene at SPACE in Evanston on Saturday night.

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4. Greensky Bluegrass at the Chicago Theatre on Thursday night.

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5. First Year On Earth at the Burlington on Thursday night.

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6. Revolution at the House of Blues on Friday night.

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7. Ancient Gods at Cobra Lounge on Friday night.

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8. Funeral Nation at Cobra Lounge on Friday night.

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9. Force Of Darkness at Cobra Lounge on Friday night.

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10. Sacrocurse at Cobra Lounge on Friday night.

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11. Hades Archer at Cobra Lounge on Friday night.

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12. Gene Ween at the Concord on Thursday night.

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13. Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros at Thalia Hall on Friday night.

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14. The Fray in Tinley Park on Friday night.

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15. Train in Tinley Park on Friday night.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:29 AM | Permalink

Chicagoetry: Heaven

Heaven

Sometimes it hurts
Even in heaven.

Yep: and sometimes
It's lonely
At a table of seven.

Sometimes the day
Comes in low

Like a rickety
Turboprop plane
Overloaded with bills,

Baggage, blues, bullies,

And yesterday's news,
Dry engines shrieking
Steadily toward you,

Heaving propellers
Clipping the tree line
Before the runway,

Branch stems
And leaf shards
Festooning

The end
Of the designated
"Low Noise" corridor.

Dreamliner my ass.

Like: an old C-130
Listing, fuming, backfiring,
Skidding off the runway

Left.
Winston Freakin' Churchill
Over here

Lumbering down the gangway
Grousing about not having
His morning brandy

And cigar and what are
YOU going to do about it?!

Lady Freakin' GaGa
Over here

Won't come out of the toilet
Until she gets a Rolls Royce limo
Stocked with bottled rain water

And fresh bougainvillea.

Lady Freakin' Madonna
Over here,

Baby at her breast,
Wonders if you'd manage
To feed some uninvited

Guests.

This morning apparently
Your head has become
Chicago's desperately needed

Third airport.
Sometimes heaven
Is an abandoned airport

Or the concept
Of a desperately needed
Third airport

As of yet militantly
Unrealized.
Or a long, empty

Dining table
Polished to a dazzling sheen,
Lovingly set

For one.

Empty of shrieking,
Empty of judgment,
Empty of need.

Sometimes heaven
Is quiet ("a place
Where nothing

Ever happens"),
Secluded, solitary,
Safe, garlanded

With bougainvillea
And the remnants
Of rain.

No guests.

Temporary heaven, hewn
From a hard world,

Like an Amish
Oak table,
Like a Cuban cigar.

Heaven enough,
Heaven begun,
Heaven with a finite

End.

Then you hear
The next sputtering jet

Descend.

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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 8:07 AM | Permalink

Present vs. Past

In less than two weeks the White Sox will celebrate the 2005 World Series champion ballclub. Former players like Joe Crede, Aaron Rowand, Geoff Blum, Jermaine Dye and Paul Konerko along with Ozzie Guillen - back in Kenny Williams' good graces - will return to The Cell to bask in past glory and enjoy the adoration of the Sox faithful.

Too bad that the schedule-makers didn't get lucky. What a treat it would have been to have the Atlanta Braves provide the opposition instead of the Kansas City Royals.

That's because two of the four active players from that championship crew are alive and banging out base hits these days in Atlanta. Since former Sox shortstop Juan Uribe came over from the Dodgers via a trade in late May, he and catcher A.J. Pierzynski are regulars in the Braves' starting lineup.

In fact, three times last week Pierzynski batted clean-up with Uribe fifth in the order. With three hits yesterday, Pierzynski is hitting .267, while Uribe has hovered around .300 all season for a mediocre Atlanta club that stands at 40-42.

This is not an indictment of the Sox brass for letting Uribe walk after the 2008 season while Pierzynski wasn't re-signed after 2012. A.J. was 35, and Tyler Flowers had been waiting patiently in the wings to assume regular catching duties. Pierzynski was paid about $6 million, or about $5.5 million more than Flowers. We all know that baseball is a business. Thus Flowers is in his third season as the regular. In the last eight games, he's gone 8-for-22 to raise his average to .222. We should be encouraged.

Uribe, who played five seasons on the South Side, is one of those baseball lifers who keeps re-inventing himself. He cashed another World Series check in 2010 as the Giants' third baseman, and he went to the playoffs with the Dodgers the past two seasons. Since leaving the White Sox, he's made almost $40 million while playing third, short and second with skill and style.

So it will be nice - if less than thrilling - to see the fellas in street clothes parade around The Cell, waving to the crowd during the reunion weekend. But the fun and pizzazz of watching A.J. and Uribe actually return to the South Side scene to play against the Sox would have been delightful.

Expounding on that theme, we will have Sox present versus Sox past on display Monday evening at The Cell when ex-Sox darling Mark Buehrle takes the mound against his former club in a match-up with Chris Sale. Like Pierzynski and Uribe, Buehrle's career just keeps on rolling. (Neal Cotts is the other active member from the '05 team, pitching for Milwaukee.) Buehrle is 9-4 for the Blue Jays this season, his 16th. He now has 208 career wins, of which 150 came in a White Sox uniform. No one can forget his no-hitter and perfect game.

However, Buehrle made $14 million in 2011 when he went 13-9 - what we'd give to have a pitcher with a similar record today - so at age 32, Buehrle took his talents to South Beach for a season before being traded to Toronto, where he now makes $20 million. As previously mentioned, baseball is a business.

The buzz around tonight's game is noticeable because Sale will be trying to strike out 10 or more batters for the ninth consecutive game. No one - not Cy Young, Sandy Koufax, nor Nolan Ryan - has ever done that. And, as we all know, Buehrle mentored Sale when the young left-hander first broke in five years ago.

Sale will be facing a Blue Jays club that leads the majors in runs scored and is second in home runs. They average about seven strikeouts per game, so Chris will have his work cut out for him.

The crafty Buehrle, who gives up his usual average of a hit per inning, faces our Sox, who have more hits than only two other teams while ranking dead last in runs scored. I have to think that Sale will need to be almost perfect for the Sox to prevail.

But Sale and fellow starters Jeff Samardzija, Jose Quintana, John Danks and Carlos Rodon have been pitching all season with those parameters.

Occasionally it all works out, such as last week in St. Louis. When the Sox arrived, the Cardinals owned baseball's best record and were a stunning 29-6 at home. Clearly a recipe for disaster for our cellar-dwelling athletes.

What makes the game so interesting is its unpredictability. No better example occurred than at Busch Stadium where Sox pitching shut down the Cardinals two nights in a row. On Tuesday, Sale gave up a lone homer in eight innings on a yield of six hits while fanning 12. Flowers' sixth home run in the 11th inning gave the Sox a 2-1 unexpected victory.

The next night Quintana was nicked for a first-inning run before he and four relievers shut out the vaunted Cardinals. Scoring five times in the ninth, the Sox won 7-1.

And the Little White Machine kept chugging away at home on Friday, nipping Baltimore 1-0 behind a superb Danks. And then, in possibly the most exciting game of the season on Saturday, Avi Garcia's game-saving catch over the right-field fence preserved a 3-2 decision over the Orioles. Samardzija was again outstanding, pitching into the eighth before Zach Putnam's second pitch to Manny Machado landed in the left-field bleachers with a man on to tie the game at 2. Pinch-hitter J.B. Shuck's double in the bottom of the eighth scored Gordon Beckham for the margin of victory.

Here was the momentum we all had been seeking. Four wins in a row behind great pitching, improved - and sometimes spectacular - defense and just enough runs to nurture those thoughts of "maybe, just maybe the Sox have awakened."

Carlos Rodon retired Machado to lead off Sunday's series closer before third baseman Conor Gillaspie bobbled Nolan Reimold's dribbler before throwing the ball into the Baltimore dugout for his 11th and 12th errors of the season. Reimold scored on Adam Jones' double.

Even though Rodon pitched well enough, an ineffective bullpen crippled by two more errors and the ever-present five-hit attack resulted in an ugly 9-1 embarrassment. Gillaspie, who can turn around a fast ball every now and then, has a fielding percentage of .889. Advanced analytics are not required to realize that poor Conor boots about one of every 10 chances. Of the 110 players this season who have handled at least one chance at third base, Gillaspie ranks 93rd.

Let's be fair. Gillaspie is simply one dimension of what makes this such a disappointing ballclub. And his defense could be overcome if these guys could score some runs.

Reliving the 2005 season might provide a dose of relief from the debacle of 2015. And, similar to retiring Konerko's number earlier this season, the Sox figure to draw more fans for the weekend. But having Buehrle return to the mound at The Cell to face off with the kid whom he mentored is a far more interesting proposition.

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

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:39 AM | Permalink

July 4, 2015

The Weekend Desk Report

1. Englewood Residents Hold Independence Day Weekend Vigil vs. Thousands Line Route For Arlington Heights 4th Of July Parade.

Relevant: How The U.S. Government And White People Segregated Neighborhoods, Towns.

P.S.: Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner chose to attend the Arlington Heights parade.

2. "As rock legends the Grateful Dead retire from the stage, their thousands of tie-dyed fans are gathering one last time in an enduring sign of how the band pioneered alternative culture," Agence France Presse reports.

"Instead, the Grateful Dead both helped define the countercultural spirit that blossomed in the 1960s and became a harbinger of later alternative scenes by creating a community that bonded precisely because the band was out of the mainstream."

Dear punks and indie rockers: The Dead beat you to it. Who in the history of rock 'n' roll has been more DIY?

Not that I valorize DIY, because I don't. Or should I say, it depends.

*

"Formed in the cultural ferment of the San Francisco area in the 1960s, the Grateful Dead were generally described as psychedelic rock but brought in elements of blues, country, bluegrass and jazz.

"The Dead adopted jazz's defining trait of improvisation, which convinced traveling Deadheads that each show would be different and not a repeat of the night before."

How great is that?

3. "Stellar weather and good vibes smiled on Grateful Dead fans in Chicago Friday as the band kicked off its last three 50th-anniversary concerts at Soldier Field stadium, rolling through a four-hour celebration of favorites, from 'Box of Rain' to 'Ripple,'" John Jurgensen writes for the Wall Street Journal.

Just about any band would be thrilled to have just a tiny slice of the Dead's catalogue; most will never, ever come close to writing "Box of Rain" or "Ripple."

*

P.S.: The police reported no arrests.

4. Two Founders, Two Fourths.

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The Week In Chicago Rock
Featuring: Dick Diver, CoCoComa, Clearance, The Inn Keepers, moe., Kataplexy, Disentomb, Death Grips, Manwolves, Surabhi, Poi Dog Pondering, Paul Rodgers, and Blondie.

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Beachwood Radio: Don't Blame McCarthy For Rahm
The real case against the Chicago police chief. Plus: Bracing For Holiday Weekend Reporting; Here We Go Again With The National Guard; Boykin's Bullshit; and The FBI-CNN Joint Task Force For Fear-Mongering.

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About Gentrification
WE CAME HERE TO GET AWAY FROM YOU.

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Barack Obama Wishes You A Happy Independence Day
* Obama Spied On German Journalists.

* Obama Lied About The NSA: How XKEYSCORE Really Works.

* Exclusive: U.S. Operates Drones From Secret Somalia Bases.

* Health Insurance Companies Seek Big Rate Increases For 2016.

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The Sound Opinions Weekend Desk Listening Report: "Torres, the musical project of Mackenzie Scott, has shown off her prodigious songwriting abilities in two critically acclaimed and intensely emotional albums. Torres joins Jim and Greg for a conversation and live performance."

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BeachBook
* Here's The Government's Horrifying New Fireworks Safety Demonstration.

* Real-Life Pollution Superhero 'The Fox' Headed To The Big Screen.

* How The Mammoth Got Its Wool.

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TweetWood
A sampling.

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*

*

*

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The Weekend Desk Tip Line: Red-eyed and blue.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:38 PM | Permalink

The Week In Chicago Rock

You shoulda been there.

1. Dick Diver at the Empty Bottle on Wednesday night.


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2. CoCoComa at the Empty Bottle on Wednesday night.

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3. Clearance at the Empty Bottle on Wednesday night.

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4. The Inn Keepers at Moe's Tavern last Saturday night.

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5. moe. at House of Blues on Thursday night.

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6. Kataplexy at Reggies on Wednesday night.

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7. Disentomb at Reggies on Wednesday night.

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8. Death Grips at the Metro on Wednesday night.

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9. Manwolves at Schubas on Wednesday night

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10. Surabhi at City Winery on Monday night.

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11. Poi Dog Pondering at Millennium Park on Tuesday night.

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12. Paul Rodgers at Ribfest in Naperville on Thursday night.

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13. Blondie at Ravinia on Thursday night.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:43 AM | Permalink

July 3, 2015

The [Friday] Papers

1. Beachwood Radio: Don't Blame McCarthy For Rahm's Policies.

The real case against the Chicago police chief. Plus: Bracing For Holiday Weekend Reporting; Here We Go Again With The National Guard; Boykin's Bullshit; and The FBI-CNN Joint Task Force For Fear-Mongering.

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And that's it!

For now.

I'll be back at various times through the weekend with additional material.

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Beachwood Photo Booth: Superheroic San Luis Freeze
Super satisfying.

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BeachBook
* Reddit Upheaval Leads To Shutdown Of Popular Chicago Site.

* Hoffman Estates Mattress Maker Kicks Trump Out Of Bed.

* I Used To Lead Tours At A Plantation. You Won't Believe The Questions I Got About Slavery.

* Unlock Congress!

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TweetWood
A sampling.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Bang bang.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 11:00 AM | Permalink

Beachwood Photo Booth: Superheroic San Luis Freeze

Super satisfying.

superheroicecreamtrucketcbw.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.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Signpost.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Old Man And The Tree.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Street Fleet.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Citgo Story.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Fantasy Hair Design.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Garage.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Clark Stop.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Pole Position.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Window Dressing.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Geometry.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Found Love.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Fill In The Blank.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Vacuums Of The Night.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Dumpster Still Life.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Wagon Master.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Intersecting West Rogers Park.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Penn-Dutchman Antiques.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Cow Patrol.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Backstage Chicago.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Skully Bungalow.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Francisco Frankenstein.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Long Cool Heat.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Smokers' Mast.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Big Fat Phone.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Happy Day.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Alley Men.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Holiday Show!
* Beachwood Photo Booth: You've Got Mailbox.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Broken Window Theory.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Dali Logan.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Svengoolie.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Horner Park Hot Dogs.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Cubs Rehab.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: 20th Century Schizoid Man.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Men On Vans.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Penn-Dutchman Is Done.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Snowy Lincoln.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Waiting Room.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Avondale Chicken.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Winter's End.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: The Friendly Skies.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Boyhood Buzzer Beater.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: J Date.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: International Window Lady.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Shanghai Inn.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Open For Business.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Andersonville Unplugged.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: 3-Flat.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Evanston Turkey.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicagolandia.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Eat At Odge's.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Deitch Pharmacy.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Sud-Z Bubble.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Bands Wanted!
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Belmont Tavern.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:54 AM | Permalink

July 2, 2015

The Beachwood Radio Hour #60: Don't Blame Garry McCarthy For Rahm Emanuel's Crime-Causing Policies

The real case against the Chicago police chief. Plus: Bracing For Holiday Weekend Reporting; Here We Go Again With The National Guard; Boykin's Bullshit; and The FBI-CNN Joint Task Force For Fear-Mongering.


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SHOW NOTES

:00: Strawberry Rock Show.

1:11: Good Graeff at Lincoln Hall last Friday night.

5:04: Bracing For Holiday Weekend Reporting.

* Police chiefs don't stop crime.

* Chicago Justice Project.

* Stenographic scanner tweeting is not reporting.

18:40: Fire Garry McCarthy - But For The Right Reasons.

* Crain's: Fire Garry McCarthy.

* DNAinfo Chicago: CAPS Is 'Dead,' Says New Police Commander: New Agenda Set for Logan, Wicker.

* Fox Chicago: African-American Aldermen Want New Police Chief.

* Understanding police stats.

* The Truth About Chicago's Crime Rates: Crime Is Down.

* Closing the 13th district station.

36:58: The Case Against McCarthy.

* Lack of transparency.

* Continuing instead of ending the gaming of statistics.

* Deceit about staffing studies; ignoring the data.

40:40: Here We Go Again With The National Guard.

* Behind The 'Disappeared' Of Homan Square.

* The Guardian's Homan Square Story Was Huge On The Internet - But Not In Chicago Media.

50:20: Boykin's Bullshit.

* A 7-Point Plan.

* Chicago lobbyist, federal lobbyist.

* Rahm's crime-causing budgets.

* Janey Rountree.

1:02:20:Ximena Sarinana at Schubas on Friday night.

1:04:26: The FBI-CNN Joint Task Force For Fear-Mongering.

STOPPAGE: 8:38

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Previously in Tracy Siska:
* How Many Police Officers Does Chicago Need?

* The Beachwood Radio Hour #2: Crime Is Down.

* The Beachwood Radio Criminal Justice Hour #1: Pot.

* The Beachwood Radio Hour #38: Lessons In Chicago Crime, Politics & Media.

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Also relevant: How The U.S. Government Created Crime-Ridden Ghettos.

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For archives and other Beachwood shows, see The Beachwood Radio Network.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 5:07 PM | Permalink

The [Thursday] Papers

"Mayor Rahm Emanuel on Wednesday detailed the fallout he attributes to Chicago Public Schools making good on a $634 million pension payment: 1,050 workers will lose their jobs, 350 vacant positions will be eliminated and several education programs will be slashed as a result of $200 million in budget cuts," the Tribune reports.

"Emanuel also proposed a $175 million property tax increase to help pay for teacher pensions - but only if the state and Chicago's teachers chip in as part of what the mayor described as a 'grand bargain' to put an end to the district's perennial money woes."

I'm not sure that's either grand or a bargain, but let's continue.

"Emanuel, who has warned that without help from the state, district cuts will start to affect the classroom, insisted Wednesday that is not yet the case.

"While we still have not affected the classroom, they are now beginning to affect what I refer to as operations at the schools themselves, and that is a different ill," Emanuel said.

Okay, the way I read this is that Rahm wants to threaten that cuts will affect the classroom, but he doesn't want cuts to the classroom on his political resume, because the fact is that CPS budgets have already affected the classroom - you simply cannot quarantine the classroom from the rest of the district's operation. If CPS had higher budgets - or, let's say, diverted dollars from consulting contracts - class sizes would be smaller, books and technology would be newer, and teachers wouldn't have to pay for supplies out of pocket. For that matter, schools would be cleaner, after-school activities would be more plentiful and better funded, and teachers would be happier. All of those things affect the classroom. School food would be healthier; transportation routes would make more sense. Neighborhood schools wouldn't be closed. I wish someone would ask Rahm what he means, exactly, about "the classroom." The budget line for chalk won't be affected?

*

"Although class size will not be impacted and 'very few' of the 1,050 layoffs are teachers, schools will feel the pain, the mayor said," the Sun-Times reports.

"CPS' high school day will begin and end 45 minutes later to save $9.2 million in transportation costs."

Apparently this will save money because it will allow some routes to be consolidated, though I'm not exactly clear how and why. Also, if this saves $9.2 million, why haven't we already done it? What is the downside? (The only one I can think of is that it could impact some students' after-school jobs.)

*

"An additional $2.3 million in busing costs will be cut by consolidating stops for magnet school students to "within two miles of students' homes" instead of at their local attendance school."

So kids will have to walk further to bus stops? That's not necessarily terrible, though maybe some Safe Passage routes will have to be extended.

*

"Another $17.4 million will be cut from network offices, reducing funding for teacher development and start-up funding for new turnaround schools."

What does it mean to cut millions from network offices? Less support for teachers and principals? If none of these items affect the classrooms, then why are we paying for them?

See, I have a feeling they do.

*

"An estimated $15.8 million will come by eliminating start-up funding for newly authorized charter schools. That doesn't necessarily mean a moratorium on new charters. It simply means new charters either have to find their own start-up funding or not open."

Good. Fuck 'em.

*

"Although school cleanliness was an issue last year, about $11.1 million will come from reducing facility repair and maintenance budgets by 25 percent. Schools will be asked to 'share' engineers. Privatized positions will be reduced by 'limiting access to unused space' at some schools."

Okay, so dirtier schools.

*

"In a cut that could cut off the pipeline that feeds high school athletics, CPS will save $3.2 million by eliminating central funding for elementary school sports teams and ending stipends for 5,300 grade school coaches. That doesn't necessarily mean no elementary sports. But if schools want to keep them and pay coaches, they'll have to raise the money themselves."

So elementary sports for schools with affluent parents only, now.

*

"CPS said it planned to overhaul special education services and staffing after conducting an 18-month review," Catalyst reports.

So the following cuts are merely coincidental to the budget crisis?

"The review found that CPS 'currently exceeds the state's standards for special education staffing,' which the district said was due to 'mismatches between shifting enrollment and staff hiring.' CPS said the special education overhaul would save $42.3 million, including $14 million from not filling 200 vacant positions."

So CPS has been spending too much on special education? That seems implausible.

*

"Other cuts that didn't have price tags included reducing funding for software licensing, freshman orientation, attendance grants and academic competitions."

So in other words, they just made some shit up.

*

"Emanuel also proposed eliminating CPS's pick-up of 7 percent of teachers' pension costs, leaving them with a 9-percent contribution. Right now teachers pay 2 percent. The 7 percent pickup began decades ago in lieu of salary raises one year.

"'Everybody would have to give up something,' Emanuel said.

"Sharkey said eliminating the pension pick-up was 'troubling' to the teachers union because it appeared CPS was 'backsliding' on a commitment it had made previously at the bargaining table. He said cutting the pension pick-up amounted to a salary decrease."

Indeed.

*

"These pension problems stem from 15 years of neglect and mismanagement at CPS and the city," WBEZ reports.

From 1995 to 2004, CPS did not make a single payment to the Chicago Teachers Pension Fund, and instead used revenues to pay for operations. From 2011 to 2013, the school district got a "pension holiday" that temporarily shrunk payments, but didn't make a dent in the unfunded liabilities.

Ralph Martire, executive director of the Center for Tax and Budget Accountability, said the district should be "front and center taking blame" for "using the pension system very much like a credit card, running up debt and deferring payment of it until now."

"The City of Chicago has known that more money was going to have to go into the pension systems in 2015," he said. "They had four-and-a-half years to plan for it and they did nothing."

Emanuel disputes that he's been putting the pension problem off, telling reporters Wednesday that over the past few years, "we negotiated with the laborers and municipal fund, we negotiated with police and fire and we negotiated with park district employees and reached pension agreements and passed a number of them . . . so I would slightly beg to differ the characterization that we were passive."

Martire didn't place all of the blame at the mayor's feet. He said state lawmakers are equally at fault for not contributing to Chicago teachers' pensions, like they once promised and by generally underfunding public schools.

"When you have such significant underfunding from the state, the mayoral administrations and the administrations of the CPS are going to look to beg, borrow and steal," he said. "And just simply write an IOU into the system saying, 'We'll pay you back someday at compounded interest.' And someday has arrived."

Again, let's name names of every official responsible - and bill them.

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CPS Covers Madonna
Including such classics as Express Yourself (In Two Minutes Or Less At Our Monthly Board Meetings).

Rahm's Plan C
CPS kids work off pension debt as Aramark janitors.

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Exclusive! Inside Amtrak's New Union Station
Now to be called Right to Work Station . . .

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BeachBook
* Fire Garry McCarthy - But For The Right Reasons.

* Lawsuit: Illinois Women's Basketball Coach Is Incredibly Racist.

* Chicagoans Ax Property Taxes.

* Chicago Rents Rising Fastest In Wicker Park, Logan Square & Avondale.

* Where's The Respect For Women's Sports?

Evan F. Moore strikes again.

* Farewell To America.

The Guardian's Gary Younge is going home - but not before telling us a few things about our country we need to understand.

* Florida Man, Accused Of Terrorism Based On Book Collection, Set Free.

* Frank Bruni Loves Corporations.

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TweetWood
A sampling.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Comic News Network.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:12 AM | Permalink

Rahm's Plan C

The Beachwood has learned, however, that Rahm is also working on Plans C through Z. To wit:

* Hold the school board hostage for $1 million $6 billion.

* Sell naming rights to all CPS kids.

* Welcome to the world's first all-online school district!

* CPS kids work off pension debt as Aramark janitors.

* Make Winnetka a Sister City and ask to borrow some money to go to the mall.

* Sell the whole city to George Lucas and let him worry about it.

* Introducing Schools in Space!

* Kickstarter.

* First National Bank of Chiraq.

* Let it all ride on Papa's Mustache in the fourth.

* CPS CEO for a Day Auction, starting with J.B. Pritzker and Ken Griffin.

* CPSAfterDark.com.

* Use the New Math!

* Tell Indiana to "Look over there!" and swipe the dough out of their till.

* Strip like the rest of us when we need cash.

* Introducing CPS CEO Kevin Trudeau!

* Chicago Pepsi Schools.

* Close down the Central Office 15 more times.

* School-based casinos.

* David Vitale/Billy Corgan dunk tank.

* Seize the Daley family's assets and call it civil forfeiture.

* Marry a rich city.

* Call in that Taylor Swift chit.

* Sell off that stupid Picasso.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Steve Rhodes at 8:48 AM | Permalink

CPS Covers Madonna

* Pension Holiday

* Junk Bond Borderline

* Lucky PARCC

* Like A Virgin Borrower

* The School Year Will Start Like A Prayer

* I'm Crazy For CTU

* Into The School Closing Groove

* Test You Up

* Live To Tell The Inspector General

* Rauner Don't Preach

* No Materials, Girl

* Untrue Blue

* La Isla Byrd-Bennett

* Lose That Girl

* Express Yourself In Two Minutes Or Less At Our Monthly School Board Meetings

* Perish

* Rogue

* Justify My Charter

* Ray of Blight

* Bitch, I'm Rahm

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Steve Rhodes at 3:50 AM | Permalink

Exclusive! Inside Amtrak's New Union Station

"Amtrak is betting millions of dollars to transform Union Station into an entertainment and tourist destination, complete with restaurants and outdoor cafes, retail, a hotel and even a grocery store," the Tribune reports.

"Amtrak wants to open up thousands of square feet of space long closed to the public, literally throwing open the doors to the 90-year-old building in a bid to return the landmark station to its heyday in the 1940s and '50s.

"Hidden deep inside Union Station are palatial rooms with 33-foot-high ceilings and assorted alcoves that have been mothballed for decades. During the golden age of passenger rail, those spaces were filled with ritzy restaurants, coffee shops (including the fabled Harvey House), a dance hall, tailoring shops specializing in custom suits, law offices and more."

That's nothing compared to what's on the way, the Beachwood has learned. To wit:

* Per governor's order, will now be called Right to Work Station; free riders permitted to opt out of paying fare.

* New Rick Bayless restaurant: El Loco Motive!

* Slots. Tons of slots.

* Burrito Beach will now have a beach.

* Shoe shine service to add mustache waxing.

* Hall of Rahm to showcase his impact on the train industry over the years.

* Hello, Navy Pier Ferris wheel!

* New marble floor really made of marbles.

* Totally unencrypted Wi-Fi.

* Brewpub featuring Amtrak Ale: For when you're no longer drinking for pleasure.

* The old Beachwood jukebox.

* Alinea To-Go.

* The new Uber track; hail a train driven by some schmo off the street!

* The new Snuggery will have a VIP room complete with mustard pretzels, more self-pity and loathing.

* Redmoon Theater will set a train on fire every 15 minutes.

* Paper bag Tall Boy craft cocktails will be available for the long ride to Elburn.

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Contributing: Nick Shreders, Tim Willette, Mike Luce, Tom Chambers, Steve Rhodes

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:54 AM | Permalink

July 1, 2015

The [Wednesday] Papers

"The interim CEO of Chicago Public Schools said Tuesday 1,400 jobs will be 'impacted' after Illinois lawmakers failed to provide relief and the financially struggling district had to borrow money to make a $634 million contribution to its teacher pension funds," AP reports.

"Jesse Ruiz said in a statement that CPS must make $200 million in cuts, and he blamed Illinois lawmakers for 'driving the district further into debt.' Mayor Rahm Emanuel, speaking at a news conference earlier in the day, described the nation's third-largest district as being at 'a breaking point.'

"As we have said, CPS could not make the payment and keep cuts away from the classroom, so while school will start on time, our classrooms will be impacted," Ruiz said.

"Ruiz said only that the jobs would be 'impacted' beginning Wednesday, without further elaborating on how. A spokeswoman for CPS - which has about 40,000 employees - didn't respond to questions. A city official says Emanuel and Ruiz will lay out a plan Wednesday."

*

Upon hearing the news of the last-second, full payment the Emanuel administration had said was not possible to make without legislative action, the Chicago Teachers Union released this statement:

"We are blindsided by reports that the district intends to lay off 1,400 public school educators, given that we just met with them yesterday and there was no mention of this action. These layoffs prove that the Board never intended to make the pension payment in good faith and that they are using this to justify more attacks on our classrooms," said Karen Lewis, president of the CTU. "Putting 1,400 people out of work is no way to balance a budget and resource our schools. This is going to hurt our students and the most vulnerable children in our district. These cuts are a result of a history of poor fiscal management by the Board of Education. Mayor Rahm Emanuel's handpicked board has led this district over a financial cliff.

"We are outraged at this deceptive action that only furthers the distrust teachers, parents and students have of the Board. We thought it suspect at the time that the Board was pressuring us to sign off on an agreement yesterday, before we had a complete agreement. This is retaliatory and unnecessary because the mayor refuses to seek revenue options to stabilize CPS."

*

I don't know what to think of this - besides thinking that Rahm is exploiting a crisis to stick it to teachers and their union - without seeing more reporting, so I'll hold off on any analysis. I would like to know, though, why Rahm rejected the governor's offer of an advance to provide relief (unacceptable strings?) and what happened to legislative action that would have delayed the payment's due date.

*

Also: Would the pension fund have been willing to compromise with, say, a payment plan? I know that's the sort of thing that got us into this mess, but maybe it could have also helped get us out of it - at least for now.

One thing seems clear: None of this was really coordinated with the fund or the union. It just came like a bolt from City Hall. That's so Rahm.

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Hidden drawer callback.

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They're Next To The Film Strips
Meanwhile, our noted anti-Semitic homophobic state education board chairman is an idiot.

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Fantasy Fix: Closing Arguments
A three-fer.

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BeachBook
* Legal Fireworks Are Rare - Unless Your Alderman Approves.

* DOJ: Ferguson Cops Escalated Protests, Violated Right To Free Speech.

* Illinois Teacher Fired For Stepping On U.S. Flag.

* The National Commission On The War On Terror Is Hereby Called To Order.

* Video: Endangered Wolf Pup Debuts At Illinois Zoo.

* It Took 10 Years To Build Logan Square's Masada.

* Redfin School Data Flunks The Accuracy Test.

Then again, relying on Redfin for school data would be like the U.S. Supreme Court relying on drugs.com for expertise.

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TweetWood
A sampling.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: In a flash.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:56 AM | Permalink

MUSIC - The Week In Chicago Rock.
TV - Cricket vs. Brexit.
POLITICS - Trailer: Swing District.
SPORTS - Ryan Pace's Narratives Are Killing Us.

BOOKS - Chicago For Dummies.

PEOPLE PLACES & THINGS - The Sears Motor Buggy.


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