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October 31, 2015

The Weekend Desk Report

Programming Note: I had jury duty today (Monday) and I actually got picked to serve despite being a journalist with a personal interest in rock and roll. As I write this, we just finished Day 1 of what is expected to be a four-day trial, so I'm not sure if I'll be able to write columns this week. I already know I will have a lot to write about serving on a jury! I know that story has been told many, many, many times, but every trial has its twists and turns and interesting characters in the jury box and the courtroom, so I'm sure I'll put something together. Meanwhile, like the Kansas City Royals, I'll try to keep the line moving:

* SportsMonday: All Bears Must Go.

Let the fire sale begin.

* TrackNotes Extra: American Pharoah Goes Out Grandly.

They'll have to train him not to run.

Now with an important news update!

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The Weekend Desk Report
Click through to Chris Mars' Facebook page for more great stuff.

A Treat, Oil on Panel, 12x15, 2011

Posted by Chris Mars on Thursday, October 29, 2015

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Special Report: Small White House Office Puts The Brakes On Life-Saving Regulations
Obama responsible for "a significant cost in human lives."

With appearances by Ray LaHood, Jan Schakowsky and Cass Sunstein.

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The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour #75: Black Cloud Moves From Bulls To Bears
TEAM HID JEREMIAH RATLIFF'S MASS MURDER THREAT IN LATEST COVER-UP.

Plus: A Cubs Post Post-Mortem: Not Yet Royal; Dominican Republic Dominates; Bulls' Black Cloud Lifts; and Wait 'Til Next Year For The Blackhawks?

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TrackNotes: Breeders' Classic No Longer In Eye Of Beholder
American Pharoah's to win- albeit at a crappy price.

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Beachwood Photo Booth: Mid-Century Modern Halloween
In Horner Park.

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Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! Explains The Economy
"I don't understand a word I just said. Maybe one in three."

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The Week In Chicago Rock
Featuring: Ana Popovic, AM & Shawn Lee, Leon Bridges, Halsey, Zedd, Al Di Meola, Chvrches, and Hinds.

Check out Ana Popovic, people. Trust me.

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The Sound Opinions Weekend Listening Report: "As baseball fans turn their attention to the World Series, Jim and Greg are eager to step up to the plate. They share their favorite examples of musical Grand Slams: four knockout albums in a row. Then they review the new record from Detroit post-punk band Protomartyr."

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TweetWood
A sampling.

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The Weekend Desk Tip Line: Code Red.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:08 AM | Permalink

Special Report: Small White House Office Puts The Brakes On Life-Saving Regulations

But for a small, little-known White House agency, Melissa Helcher might not have killed Clark Biddle in a Columbus, Ohio, parking lot one day in February.

The 24-year-old Helcher had just eaten lunch with her two children at an O'Charley's restaurant and was backing her 2012 Ford Fusion sedan out of a tight space. Biddle and his wife, Betty, both 88 and a couple since ninth grade, were making their way across the lot toward a high-school reunion lunch.

Helcher, looking over her right shoulder and through the rear windshield, didn't see the Biddles coming from the other direction as she eased her car out. Clark Biddle had just enough time to push Betty out of the way before Helcher's car knocked him over.

charleys.JPG

Thirty-six hours later, Clark Biddle was dead from the brain injuries he received when he hit the pavement.

Biddle's death, Helcher said, "is something I live with every day." The only thing that could have prevented the accident, in her opinion, would have been a rearview camera in her car.

Helcher's car and many others made in 2012 probably would have come from the manufacturer with rearview cameras as standard equipment if a law signed by President George W. Bush in February 2008 had been implemented, as the law specified, in 2011.

It wasn't. The reason rests with the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA). This White House agency was established in 1980 and given broad powers by executive order during the anti-regulation fervor of President Ronald Reagan's first term. Its job is to vet proposed regulations to be enforced by the executive branch. With a staff of about 45 people, it has the power to delay, weaken or even kill any such rule.

As Reuters found, OIRA sometimes exercises that power, with potentially lethal consequences.

When Bush signed the rearview camera law, an average of at least one child and an unknown number of elderly, disabled and other people were killed per week in backover accidents, according to KidsAndCars.org, a Kansas City, Missouri, group that promotes child safety in and around vehicles.

Under the law, the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) drafted a requirement that automakers install cameras as standard equipment. Cameras would be phased in starting in 2012 - the model year of Helcher's car - so that by 2014, all cars, SUVs, pickup trucks and minivans would come with them.

NHTSA sent its draft rule to OIRA for vetting before the law's Feb. 28, 2011, deadline for implementation. The proposal then spent three years ping-ponging between the agencies as OIRA balked at it, sat on it for months at a time and repeatedly demanded that NHTSA conduct more testing of cheaper alternatives.

OIRA staff, according to NHTSA officials, were hostile to it from the start. Jim Simons, former director of NHTSA's office of regulatory analysis and evaluation, said that in one meeting, an OIRA staffer blamed parents for backover accidents, saying, "How could anybody run over their own kid?"

The agency, he said, was "just having us go back and do things over again." The additional testing "wasn't going to make a hill of beans of difference," he said. "They were coming up with stuff to make us delay the rule."

He and others who have dealt with OIRA said the agency has an institutional bias against regulation. That bias, they said, is reinforced by the agency's requirement that regulations be assessed in terms of costs and benefits expressed in dollars and cents.

So while the cost to industry of installing rearview cameras could be easily quantified, the benefit of a life saved or the cost of anguish and suffering from a life lost was much harder to tally.

OTHERS TO BLAME

In an interview, President Barack Obama's OIRA Administrator Howard Shelanski refused to comment specifically on the rearview camera rule. He said that his agency acts as quickly as possible when vetting rules and that its main job is to circulate them among other agencies to ensure they don't conflict with existing regulations or policies. "Nobody . . . wants a single more person to get hurt, to get sick," he said. Other agencies, he said, often are to blame for slow responses to OIRA requests for additional research and testing. Delays also occur because "our objective is to help make rules better," he said.

Jim Tozzi, who as deputy administrator of the Office of Management and Budget in 1980 played a key role in establishing OIRA, said the agency serves a necessary function. Imposing too many onerous rules "has huge economic costs which translate into lack of competitiveness," he said, adding that once adopted, regulations are difficult to get rid of, even if they have unintended harmful consequences. (Tozzi is now head of the Center for Regulatory Effectiveness.)

But as Lisa Heinzerling, a Georgetown University Law School professor and former Environmental Protection Agency official, said, delays carry costs, too. "While rules are delayed, anything good the rule does won't be done," she said. "If that good thing is saving lives, that won't be done."

Among other potentially life-saving regulations OIRA has held up or weakened in recent years:

  • In 2011, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration sent to OIRA a draft regulation to protect workers from silica dust, common in many industries and a known cause of cancer and deadly silicosis. The regulation would cut by 50 percent the allowable exposure to the dust, ban certain work practices and give workers regular medical testing. OSHA has estimated that the regulation would save "nearly 700 lives" and prevent 1,600 new cases per year.

    OIRA released the draft back to OSHA in August 2013 with few changes, but required OSHA to hold another long comment period and public hearings. OSHA has yet to produce a final draft, which OIRA will review before it is adopted.

  • In October 2009, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) sent to OIRA a draft regulation for handling coal ash, a product of coal-fired power plants that contains arsenic, lead, mercury and other toxins. The regulation was prompted by a series of incidents in which containment ponds failed, sending billions of cubic feet of coal ash into rivers.

    The final version wasn't adopted until December 2014, and then only after it was watered down. OIRA, siding with industry and state governments, nixed the EPA's original proposal that coal ash be designated a "hazardous waste," subject to strict handling rules. Instead, at OIRA's insistence, the final version classified coal ash as "solid waste," similar to household garbage. OIRA also reduced or eliminated other proposed safety requirements.

  • In May 2010, the EPA sent to OIRA a proposed regulation that would create a list of possibly hazardous "chemicals of concern," based on reports from chemical makers, and require manufacturers to disclose chemicals used in their products. The chemical industry resisted. OIRA held up the rule for more than three years, until September 2013, when the EPA withdrew it. The EPA said the regulation wasn't needed because it already had developed plans to deal with more than 80 chemicals.

Obama's EPA Administrator, Gina McCarthy, refused to comment on specific regulations. Of OIRA, she said: "They make sure we're thinking outside of our own views."

As part of the Office of Management and Budget, OIRA falls under the direct control of the president, who has the power to intervene in the rule-making process. Obama at any time could have forced implementation of the rearview camera rule. Activists, members of Congress and his own transportation secretary, Ray LaHood, pleaded with him to do so.

At the same time, the auto industry was pushing back against the rule as financially onerous - the same auto industry that was only beginning to recover from the crisis that had prompted a government takeover of General Motors Co.

Congressional Republicans, too, were hammering the president for what they said was job-killing overregulation.

How much the industry pushed back is hard to determine. Under a revised 1993 executive order from President Bill Clinton, OIRA must disclose records of a review, including correspondence, as soon as the relevant rule is adopted or killed and identify any changes it made. But OIRA rarely makes such disclosures because Obama, like his predecessors, has allowed it to ignore transparency requirements. Federal courts have ruled that the judiciary has no authority to enforce an executive order.

In an e-mail response to questions, a White House spokesman said: "With the rearview camera rule, certain components within the White House held discussions with the Department of Transportation and other stakeholders that focused on maximizing both safety and effectiveness."

Only after a federal lawsuit was filed to end the delay did the Transportation Department in March last year announce approval of the final rule. The phase-in period began this year. By the 2017 model year, 40 percent of new cars must have the cameras. All cars must have them in 2018 - four years later than would have been the case had the rule taken effect when Congress intended.

"Every model year that you delay, you lose chances of preventing those accidents," said Simons, now retired. "The most lives saved per year is when every car has a camera. Every year that you lose in doing that means more death."

BUREAUCRATIC BRAKES

On the evening of Oct. 20, 2002, Greg Gulbransen, a pediatrician in Oyster Bay, New York, returned home from work, ran into his house to peek in on his sleeping two-year-old son, Cameron, and went back outside to move his wife's SUV.

Gulbransen put the vehicle into reverse, checked the side-view mirrors and looked over his shoulder. He saw nothing and began backing up. That's when he killed his son. He didn't know that Cameron had awakened and followed him outside.

Gulbransen said that beyond his own grief, he had an obligation "as a pediatrician and father to do good" by trying to help save others from similar tragedies. He soon had become a leading voice of a growing movement to require rearview cameras in cars.

Since 2000, 1,185 children have been killed in backovers, according to KidsAndCars.org. The actual number is probably much higher, said Janette Fennell, founder and president of the group, because many state and local agencies don't report accidents on private property, where many backovers occur, or don't collect accurate data.

From 2008 through 2011, an average of 232 people a year, including 95 children age 14 or younger, were killed in backovers, according to an April 2014 NHTSA report. The agency's data show that most often the driver is a relative of the victim.

Gulbransen teamed up with KidsAndCars.org and other groups to hold rallies across the country and pressure members of Congress to act. It worked. In 2007, lawmakers introduced a bill that would require the Department of Transportation to adopt a regulation specifying a method "to detect areas behind the motor vehicle to reduce death and injury resulting from backing incidents, particularly incidents involving small children and disabled persons."

The regulation would include technical specifications for automakers to follow. "Such standard may be met by the provision of additional mirrors, sensors, cameras, or other technology," the bill stated. The rule was to be adopted by Feb. 28, 2011.

It easily passed both houses of Congress. On Feb. 28, 2008, President Bush signed into law the Cameron Gulbransen Kids Transportation Safety Act.

The law ordered the Transportation Department to do research to determine the most effective method for preventing backover accidents. Transportation Secretary LaHood and his NHTSA administrator, David Strickland, embraced the rule, according to current and former DOT officials. Both refused to comment.

At NHTSA's testing facility in East Liberty, Ohio, technicians began running simulations using drivers in cars equipped with various configurations of mirrors, electronic sensors, or rearview cameras. Over and over again, drivers, not told of the specific purpose of the tests, backed out of parking spaces where testers had placed a 36-inch-tall corrugated plastic cutout of a child in the "kill zone" behind the vehicle. "Timmy," the testers called him.

By late 2008, more than a dozen tests showed that Timmy stood a far better chance of survival behind vehicles with rearview cameras than he did with mirrors or sensors, according to NHTSA documents and staff. By 2012, NHTSA had conducted more than 100 such tests.

In the tests, 93 percent of vehicles with ultrasound sensors took out Timmy, compared to between 30 percent and 67 percent for those with rearview cameras, depending on the size of the video screen and where it was mounted, according to NHTSA.

Based on those results, NHTSA drafted its rule to require rearview cameras in all cars, SUVs, vans and pickup trucks by the 2014 model year.

The Transportation Department sent a draft of the rule to OIRA for initial review in August 2010. In November, OIRA approved the rule and sent it back to the department. Any changes OIRA made to the rule were not disclosed.

On Dec. 7, 2010, the DOT released its proposed rule for 60 days of public comment, after which it sent the rule back to OIRA for additional review.

Then, on Feb. 25, 2011 - just three days before the deadline set by the Kids Transportation Safety Act - the department announced that it needed to reopen the comment period and evaluate more data. It said it now expected to adopt a final rule by Dec. 31, 2011.

It was able to do that because of a loophole in the law: Adoption of the rule could be delayed indefinitely, provided the transportation secretary formally notified relevant congressional committees why the DOT needed more time. Lawmakers often include such provisions in laws requiring new regulations.

On the very day of the DOT's announcement, Transportation Secretary LaHood sent such a letter to House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton and three other lawmakers. In it, LaHood said that based on comments received already, "We anticipate that a significant amount of analysis, additional vehicle testing, and testing with human subjects will be required."

That was the first of at least five letters LaHood sent to Congress over the next couple of years to extend the deadline as the rule was tossed back and forth between the agencies, languishing with OIRA for months at a time - including one 19-month stretch.

LaHood, a Republican and seven-term congressman from Illinois, had surprised the auto industry and consumer groups after his 2009 appointment as he backed regulations to limit texting while driving and, against industry opposition, promote truck safety.

People who worked for LaHood and NHTSA chief Strickland said both men strongly supported the camera requirement and wanted it adopted quickly.

"Ray LaHood felt very passionately about this rule for safety reasons," said a former aide to the secretary.

LaHood bristled at having to continually take public responsibility for the delays, these people said, but he considered it unseemly for a department secretary to criticize a White House agency.

As the first deadline passed, NHTSA officials began a series of meetings with OIRA staff. From the start, according to Simons and other DOT officials, the OIRA people were skeptical of the necessity of rearview cameras and continually pressed for cheaper alternatives and demanded more testing.

"They believed 'I can just turn around and look out my back window. Do I really have to have a camera?'" said a DOT official who attended the meetings.

Another quoted an OIRA staffer as saying at one of these meetings: "I'm a good driver. There's no way that I would ever back up on my child."

At OIRA's insistence, NHTSA did more tests on ultrasound sensors, which trigger an alarm when they detect an object. The tests came up with the same result as before, Simons said. Fabric absorbs the sound waves the sensors use; the sensors failed to detect clothed objects behind vehicles 85 percent of the time. What's more, Simons said, sensors cost more than cameras, and while OIRA staff promoted them, the industry had never proposed using them.

Automakers, too, were trying to throw up roadblocks. When Congress passed the Kids Transportation Safety Act, the industry publicly expressed enthusiasm. "This industry is 100 percent behind this legislation, and we're committed to using these initiatives to further enhance child safety in and around motor vehicles," Dave McCurdy, then president of the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, told the Detroit News. (Link not available.)

But in private PowerPoint presentations to OIRA and letters to the agency, reviewed by Reuters, the alliance complained that the regulation would result in "significant additional cost per vehicle." It also said rearview mirrors were adequate to meet the law's requirements because many backover accidents occurred when children ran or cycled behind a car from the side.

Automakers initially estimated that under the rule, the cost would exceed $200 per camera. When NHTSA adopted the rule in 2014, it said the actual cost per camera would be between $132 and $142 for vehicles that did not already have dashboard monitors, and $43 for cars that did.

NHTSA researchers hauled out Timmy the test dummy again to test the scenarios the industry described. And again, Timmy proved that cameras were superior.

Through it all, Simons and other DOT officials said, OIRA remained unconvinced.

OIRA's method of evaluating a new regulation presented another obstacle. The agency traditionally used cost-benefit analysis, expressed in dollars and cents. That method became even more rigorous under Cass Sunstein, a longtime friend of Obama's from their teaching days at the University of Chicago Law School who was appointed to head the agency in 2009.

Sunstein is well-known for his work in behavioral economics. In his scholarship, he has propounded that rigorous methods are needed to remove emotional biases from decision-making.

It fell on Simons to do the analysis for the camera rule. "The problem was that our cost-benefit analysis never showed it to be cost-effective," Simons said.

Simons and others involved in the process said Sunstein seemed sympathetic to the regulation. In one meeting, Simons said, the OIRA chief wondered aloud whether there was a way to come up with the dollar-denominated cost of parents' anguish to tip the balance.

But, Simons said, "there was no way for us to estimate the value of a parent's loss in a case like this."

NHTSA sent Simons' report to OIRA in November 2010. It contained a plea to make an exception: "The emotional well-being of the extended family members, friends, and other associates of the injured is not included in the cost-benefit analysis . . . [T]here can be an even greater emotional cost when a driver injures their own child or a child for which the driver is responsible."

However sympathetic Sunstein was to the rule, "OIRA's staff is not as oriented to safety as they are the cost of regulations," said Allan Kam, a former NHTSA lawyer.

In August 2012, Sunstein left the office for Harvard Law School. He refused multiple requests for comment, though in September he wrote an Op-Ed for the New York Times praising Obama for "making government logical."

Sunstein was succeeded by Boris Bershsteyn, who now advises clients such as JP Morgan Chase and Bank of America on regulatory matters. Bershsteyn served largely in a caretaker role until Shelanski's appointment in early 2013.

Advocates for the rule turned their attention to the president, who can, at his discretion and in secrecy, direct OIRA to approve, kill or delay any regulation.

In a Feb. 2, 2013, letter to the president and first lady, Gulbransen pleaded with Obama to order OIRA to clear the regulation. "Unfortunately OMB [OIRA's parent agency] is stalling while backover accidents are claiming approximately 2 toddlers every week," he wrote. He said he never received a reply.

Joan Claybrook, head of NHTSA from 1977 to 1981 and then longtime president of Public Citizen, a nonprofit consumer-advocacy group, said that in a February 2013 meeting with LaHood, he suggested "that we call the chief of staff at the White House."

Jan Schakowsky, a Democratic congresswoman from Illinois and a sponsor of the Gulbransen Act, said that on a March 15, 2013, flight with President Obama on Air Force One, she brought up the delays. "We've got to get this moving," she said she told the president.

As she pulled out photos of children who had been killed in backovers, she said, the president said: "Believe me, I know. Ray LaHood has made it perfectly clear to me that this was important."

Obama gave her no assurance that he would act, Schakowsky said.

LaHood sent his last delay letter to Congress on June 20, 2013, saying that his department would adopt a final rule by January 2015 - one month shy of three years after the original deadline. A few weeks later, he left his job - he had announced his resignation six months earlier - and was replaced by Anthony Foxx.

On Sept. 25, 2013, Public Citizen Litigation Group, an arm of Public Citizen, filed a lawsuit on behalf of Gulbransen; a mother who had seriously injured her three-year-old daughter in a backover accident; and three consumer and safety organizations. The suit asked the U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals in New York to order the Transportation Department to issue a regulation within 90 days.

The suit said that the multiple delays in adopting the rule came "at a significant cost in human lives."

The court scheduled a public hearing for April 1, 2014.

On March 31, 2014 - the day before the hearing - OIRA approved the regulation. It was largely unchanged from the original, but with the phase-in period ending in 2018. Later that day, DOT announced that the regulation had been officially adopted. The hearing was canceled.

"They didn't want to have to explain themselves in front of the Second Circuit," said Public Citizen Litigation Group attorney Scott Michelman.

Shelanski and spokesmen for the White House and Transportation Department refused to comment on the timing of the decision to approve the regulation.

Through the long delay, some automakers got ahead of the regulators. Honda Motor Co, for example, is now producing all Honda and Acura models with cameras as standard equipment. Others, including Ford Motor Co and GM, are putting cameras on more models as standard equipment while still offering them only as options on others.

So far this year, at least 41 children have been killed in backover accidents, according to KidsAndCars.org.

How many of those accidents involved cars that would have had cameras if the Gulbransen Act had been implemented on schedule isn't known.

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Sally Cress, daughter of Clark and Betty Biddle, holds a photo of her parents. (Jay LaPrete/Reuters)

Biddle.JPG

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Greg Gulbransen in his Oyster Bay, New York office. (Lucas Jackson/Reuters)

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OIRA Administrator Howard Shelanski. (Government handout)

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Cass Sunstein with his wife Samantha Power, the U.S. ambassador to the U.N. (Mary F. Calvert/Reuters)

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Obama with Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. (Larry Downing/Reuters)

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 4:05 AM | Permalink

October 30, 2015

The [Friday] Papers

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Beachwood Photo Booth: Mid-Century Modern Halloween
In Horner Park.

Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! Explains The Economy
"I don't understand a word I just said. Maybe one in three."

Uber's Surge Pricing Doesn't Surge Drivers
Walk a hundred yards and wait five minutes.

The Week In Chicago Rock
Featuring: Ana Popovic, AM & Shawn Lee, Leon Bridges, Halsey, Zedd, Al Di Meola, Chvrches, and Hinds.

TrackNotes: Breeders' Classic No Longer In Eye Of Beholder
American Pharoah's to win- albeit at a crappy price.

The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour #75: Black Cloud Moves From Bulls To Bears
TEAM HID JEREMIAH RATLIFF'S MASS MURDER THREAT IN LATEST COVER-UP.

Plus: A Cubs Post Post-Mortem: Not Yet Royal; Dominican Republic Dominates; Bulls' Black Cloud Lifts; and Wait 'Til Next Year For The Blackhawks?

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BeachBook

Zach Fardon is no Patrick Fitzgerald.

Posted by The Beachwood Reporter on Thursday, October 29, 2015

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The 1972 Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA), one of the “open government” laws, generally mandates that federal...

Posted by The Beachwood Reporter on Friday, October 30, 2015

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Scare us.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 4:09 PM | Permalink

TrackNotes: Breeders' Classic No Longer In Eye Of Beholder

Just as I was gathering notes for this piece, we learned that Beholder
was scratched
from the Breeders' Cup Classic.

Some bleeding in her lungs was detected after an examination Thursday morning.

What could have been a spectacular race had already turned into merely a great one when Liam' Map's connections decided to run him in the easier BC Dirt Mile. Now, it's just a very good one.

The Classic appeared to be a duel between Triple Crown hero American Pharoah and Beholder in what figured to have those two use their awesome speed to set their own pace and fight it down to the wire.

The super mare worked five furlongs in a handy 1:02 on October 15th, 20 days after a height-of-style three-lengths-plus win in the Grade I Zenyatta Stakes at Santa Anita, her sixth consecutive win.

Arriving at Keeneland on October 19th, she missed a planned workout the next day after spiking a fever. She turned in an excellent breeze of five furlongs in :59-2/5ths on Monday.

Trainer Richard Mandella underscored the fragility of these equine athletes.

"This was obviously due to the fever she had when she arrived. You could say we just haven't had any luck shipping, but it's been something different every time. She's an aggressive mare and just got herself worked up shipping and made herself sick."

Horseplayers can never count how many times they've been kicked in the head by hindsight. This is a case of a series of events that should have affected handicapping on the Classic. Call it prequel wagering.

The dope on California-based Beholder was that she doesn't ship well, but the sample size is low, with only two of 20 races outside of California (on the other hand, is that kind of career too parochial?). After a bad start, she still finished second less than a length back to Princess of Sylmar in the 2013 Kentucky Oaks at Churchill Downs. She finished fourth only one length back at Belmont in the June 2014 Ogden Phipps. No sins there. She may have overexerted two back in the Pacific Classic, where she won by more than eight lengths and recorded her highest lifetime Beyer Speed Figure, 114.

This one hurts. Casual fans and horseplayers alike looked forward to this Classic, with 'Pharoah and Beholder duking it out and competitive, deserving horses hoping to upset the apple cart themselves. The complexity of the race would have been so much better with Beholder.

But the good news is that Mandella chose to keep Beholder out. She's not well, but we know she would have run her heart - and lungs - out. This is for the best.

So what about the Classic?

This race could easily be a carbon copy of American Pharoah's Travers Stakes loss. At Saratoga, 'Pharoah gained the lead but was harassed by Frosted most of the way. As their duel played out, Keen Ice steamrolled up the middle lane and won the race.

This is American Pharoah's race to win or lose. If he's hitting on all cylinders with energy, he should be able to get the lead and dictate a relaxed pace. Or lay just off someone else's moderate pace and then pounce, usually on the turn for him.

Will some banshee just take off and try to run away? Smooth Roller? No-chance Hard Aces? Tonalist, Honor Code, Keen Ice and Frosted will hope to close into the win, with Tonalist the deepest closer.

'Pharoah is the best horse in the field, but he'll need to be high atop his tippy hooves to win. Also with no Liam's Map and Beholder, his price will be awful. I hope he wins and a bomber places.

Greatest Weekend In American Sport

Amid all this drama, it's still the greatest weekend in American sport: the 31st Breeders' Cup World Championships from beautiful Keeneland Racecourse.

And like the difference between seeing Mick and the boys at Buddy Guy's Legends versus Soldier Field, the vagaries of the venue must be taken into account.

The Dirt Mile will actually be a mile and 70 yards. Officials figured they'd give the field a chance to get a running start to sort it out a bit going into the clubhouse turn. Otherwise, at a mile, the starting gate would have been on the turn. This happens all the time. When they remodeled Gulfstream Park, they miscalculated and built in this problem on the track.

Pundits have been talking all week about the weather and, therefore the condition of the turf course. The same weather system we had cleared through Lexington later in the day Wednesday. Five different people will give you five different takes.

European wonder jockey Frankie Dettori, who will ride British superhorse Golden Horn in the 1.5-mile Turf the race before the Classic, walked the course Tuesday and declared it on the soft side. But that was before another day of rain and then at least 36 hours of drying time.

As some have pointed out, the 1985-vintage turf course was built with sand and drainage in mind, and might dry out better than people think.

NBC desk jockey Randy Moss - you'll see chrome dome in the middle between Laffit Pincay III/Tom Hammond and Hall of Fame Jockey Jerry Bailey on the telecast - offered up more confusion when he surmised in a Daily Racing Form webinar that the European horses sent to Keeneland, who are considered to be much more amenable to the soft, wet, deep turf courses they experience overseas, will be hurt by a soft or yielding Keeneland course. Huh?

His reasoning was that the horses they choose to send to the Breeders' Cup are more likely to prefer the typically American harder turf courses.

I think it's a reach. The theory doesn't hold. It's still a traditional turf course, not the hard runways of a Santa Anita, for example.

Euro king Golden Horn will try to become the first winner of the Prix de l' Arc de Triomphe, Europe's biggest race, to sail over and win the Breeders' Cup Turf.

Five have tried and only Trempolino way back in 1987 has even finished in the money.

You're going to hear a lot about 'Horn. He's lost only once in eight tries and that was by a mere neck.

Arlington Million winner The Pizza Man, coming in off a strong second in the Shadwell Turf Mile, will try to cheese the foreign invader.

NBC: Not (All) Breeders' Cup

We beat 'em twice and bailed them out two more times. You'd think NBC, aka Not (all) Breeders' Cup, would tell the British soccer blokes, "We'll show your soccer, but not on Breeders' Cup Saturday."

But the general public will miss the Juvenile Dirt Sprint, Juvenile Fillies and the always exciting Turf Sprint.

Must be a big match on the pitch, right? Seventh-place Crystal Palace and fourth-place Manchester will run around for no apparent reason. Tune in and you won't even have to pick up the remote for the Breeders' Cup. So that's a silver lining.

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

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 3:41 PM | Permalink

The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour #75: Black Cloud Moves From Bulls To Bears

Team hid Jeremiah Ratliff's mass murder threat in latest cover-up. Plus: A Cubs Post Post-Mortem: Not Yet Royal; Dominican Republic Dominates; Bulls' Black Cloud Lifts; and Wait 'Til Next Year For The Blackhawks?


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SHOW NOTES

* Dude.

1:05: Cubs Post-Post-Mortem: Not Yet Royal.

* Royals' Rotation Puts The 'World' In The World Series With Three Dominican Republic Natives | Royals first team in Series history to start three pitchers born outside the U.S.

* MLB: "While it is thought by many that baseball was first introduced to the Dominican Republic by United States Army soldiers stationed there, it was actually its Caribbean neighbor, Cuba, which brought the sport to the shores of the country.

"Although baseball was becoming very popular and widespread throughout Cuba in the early 1860s, the Ten Years War (1868-1878) forced many of Cuba's most passionate baseball fans to flee the country. Many of these individuals found solace on the shores of the Dominican Republic, where they attempted to introduce the sport to the island's natives in the late 1880s and early 1890s . . . "

* Lorenzo Cain scores from first in Game 6 of the 2015 ALCS:

vs.

Enos Slaughter scores from first in Game 7 of the 1946 World Series:

* Tribune: Cubs Invest Heavily In Baseball-Rich Dominican Republic.

* Just Like Everyone Else.

* South Side Sox:The Tawdry And Tangled History Of The White Sox In Latin America.

* Inside Major League Baseball's Dominican Sweatshop System.

13:50: Bears Hid Jeremiah Ratliff's Mass Murder Threat.

* Bears' Jeremiah Ratliff 'Felt Like Killing Everybody In The Building': Police Report.

* John Fox: Obviously We Were Concerned For The Building.

* Kraft clarification: "Kraft began his professional career with the Rand-Whitney Group, a Worcester-based packaging company run by his father-in-law Jacob Hiatt. In 1968, Kraft gained control of the company through a leveraged buyout. He still serves as this company's chairman."

* Daniel Snyder: "In 1989, Snyder and his sister Michelle founded a wallboard advertising (the sale of advertisements placed on boards inside buildings) company with seed money from his father, who took a second mortgage on his property in England, and his sister, who maxed out her credit cards at $35,000. They concentrated on wallboards in doctors' offices (where there was a captive audience) and colleges. They married the advertisement with the distribution of product samples - such as soaps and packages of medicine - to differentiate themselves from their competitors. The company was named Snyder Communications LP. The business was a great success and Snyder and his sister grew the business organically and through acquisitions[4] and expanded its activities to all aspects of outsourced marketing, including direct marketing, database marketing, proprietary product sampling, sponsored information display in prime locations, call centers, and field sales."

* Ryan Pace Buys $1.3 Million Lake Bluff Home.

33:45: Bulls' Black Cloud Lifts.

* ESPN: Nikola Mirotic Making Most Of New Opportunity With Bulls.

* Bernstein: Bulls' Offense Suits Mirotic.

* Tribune: Noah Accepts, But Didn't Ask For, Bulls' Bench Role.

* Pau Gasol's Game-Saving Block Of LeBron James:

46:24: Wait 'Til Next Year For The Blackhawks?

* Duncan Keith Missed More On Offense Than Defense.

* Q Benches Teravainen For 'Ordinary' Play.

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STOPPAGE: 5:26

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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 1:21 PM | Permalink

The Week In Chicago Rock

You shoulda been there.

1. Ana Popovic at FitzGerald's in Berwyn on Wednesday night.


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2. AM & Shawn Lee at Schubas on Tuesday night.

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3 Leon Bridges at the Vic on Tuesday night.

Kot: Leon Bridges Keeps His Soul Smooth.

Argyrakis: Review & Photo Gallery.

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4. Halsey at the Vic on Wednesday night.

Hendron: Halsey Connects With Confidence, Anger And Hooks.

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5. Zedd at the UIC Pavilion on Thursday night.

Stewart: Zedd Is Your Perfect EDM Gateway Act.

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6. Al Di Meola at Park West on Tuesday night.

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Catching up with . . .

Chvrches at the Metro on Saturday night.

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And: Hinds At Lincoln Hall Last Thursday Night Was A Punk, Drunk, Slam Dunk.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:16 AM | Permalink

Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! Explains The Economy

"We report record profits as if that's good news . . . "


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Previously in Jonathan Pie:

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 5:19 AM | Permalink

Beachwood Photo Booth: Mid-Century Modern Halloween

Horner Park.

mcmhalloweenexp.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.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Superheroic San Luis Freeze.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Evanston Oasis.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Lyndale Food & Jewelry.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Lincoln Tap.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Book Window.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Alco Dude.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Ballin Drugs.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Don't Worry, Be Cookie.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Four Trey.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: The Office.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: America From Inside The Golden Nugget In Ravenswood.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Cellphone Repair.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Boots 'N' Grill.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Sunrise Strip.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: At The Corner Of Glad And Happy.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Uptown Autumn Night.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Diner.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 4:34 AM | Permalink

Uber's Surge Pricing May Not Lead To A Surge In Drivers

Uber has long stirred controversy and consternation over the higher "surge" prices it charges at peak times. The company has always said the higher prices actually help passengers by encouraging more drivers to get on the road. But computer scientists from Northeastern University have found that higher prices don't necessarily result in more drivers.

Researchers Le Chen, Alan Mislove and Christo Wilson created 43 new Uber accounts and virtually hailed cars over four weeks from fixed points throughout San Francisco and Manhattan. They found that many drivers actually leave surge areas in anticipation of fewer people ordering rides.

"What happens during a surge is, it just kills demand," Wilson told ProPublica. "So the drivers actually drive away from the surge."

When contacted this week, Uber said that their own analysis has shown that surge pricing does, in fact, attract more drivers to surge areas.

"Contrary to the findings in this report - which is based on extremely limited, public data - we've seen this work in practice day in day out, in cities all around the world," Uber spokeswoman Molly Spaeth wrote in an e-mail.

The researchers also uncovered a few tips about how to avoid surge prices. They found that changing your location, even by a few hundred feet, can influence the price you get. They also discovered that you can often get back to normal fare levels by waiting as few as five minutes.

"The vast majority of surges are short-lived, which suggests that savvy Uber passengers should 'wait-out' surges rather than pay higher prices," the authors wrote in a new study they are presenting at a conference in Tokyo on Friday.

The Northeastern scientists found that Uber's price scheme divides cities into "surge areas" and calculates prices for each one independently. The boundaries are not known to consumers.

"[T]wo users standing a few meters apart may unknowingly receive dramatically different surge multipliers," the scientists wrote. "For example, 20 percent of the time in Times Square, customers can save 50 percent or more by being in an adjacent surge area" a block or two away.

The researchers sketched out those boundaries in their paper, and ProPublica has developed them into maps. (EXPAND)

20151028-uber-surge-map-960x584.jpg

Uber users in Manhattan can more easily cross from current surging to non-surging zones than users in San Francisco. The areas in Manhattan are smaller, and therefore more walkable; San Francisco's price areas also tend to surge together.

The Northeastern researchers also found significant differences between the San Francisco and Manhattan markets. While an Uber blog post last year stated that surge pricing "affects a tiny minority of all Uber rides, less than 10 percent of trips," the researchers documented that the price of Uber in Manhattan surged about 14 percent of the time, and 57 percent of the time in San Francisco.

When asked about these findings, Uber said that they sounded unrepresentative, but not outside of the realm of possibility.

Like other online marketplaces in the "sharing economy," Uber promises efficiency and openness. When using Craigslist, AirBnb, or eBay, for instance, buyers and sellers have the same information about what products are available, and for how much - both sides have a lot of information with which to make price comparisons. Uber is an outlier, these researchers explained, because under the Uber model, neither side of the transaction has all of the information.

"With Uber, the drivers don't know what's going on, and the customers don't know what's going on," said Wilson. "There's an algorithm behind the scenes that determines what the prices are, and you essentially have no idea what's happening."

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Previously:
* Uber Claims Credit For Drop In Drunk Driving Accidents. But Where's The Evidence?

* Uber Uber Alles.

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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 12:57 AM | Permalink

October 29, 2015

The [Thursday] Papers

A city council property tax hike notebook.

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Here's my favorite moment from Wednesday's city council meeting, as reported by the Tribune:

"[F]reshman Ald. Deb Mell, who was given a leg up on winning election by getting appointed by Emanuel to replace her long-serving father Dick Mell, scurried out of the council chamber after the vote. Chased down by a reporter, Mell pulled out a typed statement explaining her vote.

"Can I just give you this?" she asked.

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Oh.

My.

God.

That.

Is.

So.

Great.

Sure, it's no "I have tuition to pay and casinos to visit," nor a "most aldermen are hos," but what it lacks in color, it makes up for in sheer layers of density.

Consider how Mell (whose infamous brother-in-law sits in a Colorado prison cell) thought it might actually be okay, and how she was ready with a typed statement to pull out (of where? her purse? her pocket? a folder? An editor should have asked) in case she didn't make the clean get-away she clearly planned ahead for and was in the process of attempting.

Deb Mell, dual political science and history graduate, everybody!

*

Mell wasn't the only scaredy cat afraid to publicly defend their vote.

Meet Ald. Chris Taliaferro, a former Marine.

Taliaferro, 29th, declined after the meeting to discuss his no vote with a reporter. "Let me talk to you later," he said when asked to explain his vote.

Now, it's true that Taliaferro said during his campaign that he was "I am committed to making your voice heard," not his, but still.

*

Maybe it wasn't the press that aldermen were afraid of but Rahm's media minders - yes, we have that in the Soviet Republic of Chicago. Here's one now!

*

Back to the Trib:

"Ald. Ed Burke, 14th, the longtime chairman of the Finance Committee, seemed to flub the punch line on a very old joke - one some folks may not consider so funny - about Moses and the Ten Commandments.

With Ald. George Cardenas, 12th, talking about prayers for an answer to the city's pension woes, Burke said it reminded him of the one about Moses coming down from Mt. Sinai to deliver good news and bad news to his followers. Here it is as recounted by Burke to much laughter from his colleagues:

"They said, 'Moses, Moses, Moses, tell us what is the good news.' And Moses said, 'I've got the good Lord down to just 10 commandments. 'Oh, they said, that's wonderful, wonderful Moses, thank you. What's the bad news?' And Moses said six and nine are still in there.'"

The sixth commandment is "Thou shalt not kill," and the ninth is, "Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor." As usually told, the punch line is "Seven is still in there." The seventh commandment is "Thou shalt not commit adultery."

Neither Moses nor Burke's wife, who is a state supreme court justice, were available for comment.

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"Ald. Proco 'Joe' Moreno, 1st, got fired up as he accused colleague Ald. Carlos Ramirez-Rosa, 35th, of hypocrisy for opposing the spending plan.

Moreno took exception to a property tax break being given to a business in the 35th Ward following Ramirez-Rosa's speech calling for the city to rely more heavily on corporate taxes rather than raising taxes on homeowners.

"I just wanted to point out that this vote on this budget was big, obviously a huge deal, and it was mentioned in the 35th Ward, my esteemed colleague that we should be going to large corporations and getting higher taxes," Moreno said. "They are supporting a $5.5 million tax break today. So, again, let's keep this real. You're going to be against it, fine. But the hypocrisy of voting against this budget because we're not raising taxes and supporting $5.5 million in tax breaks today is unconscionable."

Ramirez-Rosa sat quietly at his seat about 15 feet away as Moreno went off.

First, supporting taxes on corporations is not mutually exclusive with corporate tax subsidies, even to someone like me who opposes the latter. It's actually the status quo and not at all at odds with Moreno's Democratic party, which tends to support (at least rhetorically) higher taxes on businesses while not at all against economic development incentives, from Barack Obama to Pat Quinn. In fact, I don't recall Moreno, who keeps trying to impress upon everyone that he's a progressive, coming out against Rahm Emanuel's corporate incentives.

Second, I'm not clear on what Moreno is talking about - and I wish the Tribune would have explained. What tax break is he talking about? Let's go to Twitter.

He's mad that Ramirez-Rosa isn't a better leftist?

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Is he talking about himself? Moreno's been my alderman from the first day he took office, so I know a little bit about this. Let's just say he doth protest too much.

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Ah, the no viable solutions/alternatives card.

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Actually, Moreno is not fine with anyone opposing this budget, just like he has not been fine with anyone opposing any Emanuel budget. Every single year he is the biggest critic of Emanuel budget critics.

Tru dat.

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I, for one, am not going to stand here! Gentlemen!

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Back to Moreno's specific charge against Ramirez-Rosa:

I'm not dismissing this, despite the source, tone, context and political motivation. I actually want to know more. Unfortunately, the Trib (nor anybody else, as far as I can tell) doesn't bother to enlighten us. It does seem, however, that we're not getting the whole story from Moreno. Retweeted by Ramirez-Rosa's chief of staff:

In what way is Moreno mischaracterizing the car dealer tax break, please.

Bwaahahahahahaha! Maybe look into that, Flannery!

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Moreno should be attacking the mayor - or are corporate tax breaks okay as long as you vote for the property tax increase that will pay for them?

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I don't doubt that Ramirez-Rosa could be a big hypocrite. I just wish I knew the facts. Sadly, they do not appear to be forthcoming.

First, you're taking advice from Carrie Austin, which is questionable in itself but also, she's the mayor's budget chairman. Dude.

(Austin: "I came from a sick bed to make sure this budget is passed." Then you don't count hedz very well - it was a 22-vote margin.)

Second, in what world is being the better man not defending yourself and setting the record straight? I'm left with the impression that Ramirez-Rosa is already twice the hack that Moreno is - and maybe that's why Moreno's so mad! He certainly feels some sort of political threat; only room for so many phony hipster progressives in the chamber. And maybe Moreno sees a bit of himself in the new guy and there's some insecure self-loathing going on, because nothing exercises Moreno more than his being called out for the fauxgressive that he is.

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Moving on. Rahm:

"We have made reforms and, yes, sometimes we have done less with more, but sometimes we've taken that more and put it to where it has never been before.

Less with more to where it's never been before. Got it.

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Coverage:

"The roll call on the budget itself was 36-14. But the roll call on the tax, fee and fine hikes to pay for it was 35-15. The difference? Freshman Ald. David Moore, 17th, was the only City Council member to vote for Emanuel's $7.8 billion spending plan but against the $755 million package of revenue to fund it.

After the vote, the South Side alderman told the Tribune that he voted no on the revenue package because '98 percent' of his constituents opposed the $9.50-a-month, per-unit fee for city trash pickup at single-family homes, duplexes, and three- and four-flats. Moore would have rather seen the property taxes increased even more to raise the $62.7 million that's expected to come from the garbage fee, he said.

The split vote was reminiscent of the tally on former Mayor Richard M. Daley's 2008 budget, which came with a $275 million package of tax, fee and fine hikes that included an $86.5 million hike in city property taxes. When that $5.9 billion spending plan was approved, the vote was 37-13. But the vote on the property tax hike was 29-21, according to Tribune archives.

According to Tribune archives? How in the world is that necessary? Is it in question? City records are good enough? It's a nitpick, but it's so damn odd. Also, you know what you can do instead of using such a weird attribution? Provide the damn link!

From that article, by the way:

Ald. Toni Preckwinkle (4th), who opposed the budget, said the city has to examine its spending closely.

"It's unclear to me whether the city can continue to afford to have the generous pension system that it has," Preckwinkle said. "When our most reliable source of income goes entirely to debt service and pension, I think we're in trouble over the long haul."

And:

Ald. Leslie Hairston (5th) supported the budget, but she agreed the city has to get a handle on spending in the coming years.

"If we don't show some restraint in the future, the taxpayers are going to rebel," Hairston said.

Moreno wasn't in the council at the time, but if he was he would've ripped those voting No. Which, back then, included progressive turncoat Joe Moore:

Ald. Joe Moore (49th) said the tax increases would weigh heavily on the poor and the working-class residents of the city. He said an administration hit with a number of scandals in recent years, from a rigged hiring process to the Hired Truck program to inspectors taking bribes, had done little to earn the tax hikes.

"Nothing has eroded public confidence in our local government more than the constant drumbeat of criminal indictments and convictions of people who have enriched themselves at public expense," Moore said. "And nothing has made the public more cynical than the endless string of broken promises to end business as usual in city government.

Well, you can't spell Moreno without Moore.

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Greg Hinz in Crain's on Monday:

After all, hiking the property tax long has been the third rail of Chicago politics, a too-hot-to-handle matter that even Richard M. Daley at the height of his powers refused to try.

You don't have to attribute everything to the Tribune archives, but if your memory is that poor, you ought to at least check them.

*

Separately, the Tribune reports that "After weeks of discussion, debate and flat-out complaining by some, Ald. Patrick O'Connor told his colleagues it finally was time for Chicago to face up to its woeful condition. O'Connor, an alderman since 1983, said decades of financial mismanagement had brought them to the point where approving a budget stacked with $755 million in new taxes and fees was the lone remaining option."

O'Connor was Daley's floor leader during those decades of fiscal mismanagement, shepherding the mayor's budgets through the council. I've yet to hear him take responsibility. I've yet to hear Rahm Emanuel hold him accountable. In fact, when Rahm was still Barack Obama's chief of staff but considering a mayoral run, one of the first phone calls he made was to O'Connor - before embarking on a campaign against the "old ways" of doing things. Then he kept on O'Connor as floor leader. Why not go after that, Proco Joe Moreno?

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O'Connor:

"Nobody wants to be told you're sick, you need to take medicine. You need chemo. You need an operation. This is an equivalent of a municipal illness. We don't have an option of saying, 'No.' We have the option of picking our choices to stay alive."

I'm confused: Who's sick, us or them?

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"The mayor later applauded aldermen for 'voting to put progress for the city ahead of their own individual politics, and I think that's the highest thing of public service.'"

The way he put off raising property taxes until he got re-elected?

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Burke:

"It's been said a politician looks at the next election, a statesman looks at the next generation," Burke said. "Today the members of the body have a choice. They can look to the next election, or can look to the next generation."

Do statesmen scurry out the back door to avoid the press?

*

"[W]hile the council's Progressive Reform Caucus has staked out positions against Emanuel's spending priorities and urged him to rely more on special taxing district funds and other alternative sources of revenue to balance the books, only four of the group's 11 aldermen voted against the budget.

"Meanwhile, six 'no' votes came from white downtown and North Side aldermen not allied with the progressives, but representing areas where a property tax hike will have a bigger impact."

Statesmen.

*

"The mayor stressed he went four years without turning to a property tax increase calling it 'the last place I'm going to look.' Emanuel did, however, raise a whole host of other taxes and fees, and raised property taxes every year at Chicago Public Schools."

Speaking of which . . .

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The Sun-Times coverage of the budget vote was just atrocious, from letting the mayor get away with saying things like "There was no other choice. No one ever presented, anywhere, another choice," which, as Waguespack pointed out, is an outright lie ("Rahm Says 'No Other Choice'" is even the headline), to the way the piece is constructed to back those supporting the budget. For example:

The tax increases are needed to meet the city's pension obligations to its police officers and firefighters, Ald. John Arena (45th) pointed out.

When you use the phrase "pointed out," you are agreeing with the claim made by the speaker. Arena may be right, but the effect is to remake the claim as objectively true. Which, in context, it isn't.

(Twenty paragraphs later, the Sun-Times states that "Emanuel's property tax hike will only help police and fire pensions if Gov. Bruce Rauner signs legislation - approved by the Illinois House and Senate - that would give Chicago 15 more years to ramp up to 90 percent funding level for the pension funds.")

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Speaking of Arena, he also said to Rahm:

"Mayor Daley favored the corporations far too much and frankly, so do you."

Paging Proco Joe!

*

FYI: Moreno is one of several aldermen whom Aldertrack refuses to name whose Twitter feed magically fills with observations and comments from the council floor even when he is nowhere to be seen there. In this case, though, it appears those tweets really came from him - just when you might want to blame an aide.

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U.S. CEO Retirement Packages: Bigger Than Yours
"The figures are stunning, and cast a harsh and troubling light on soaring retirement inequality."

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The Blue & Orange Kool-Aid Report
"For the first time in over a year, Chicago will have to figure out a way to contain Adrian Peterson as well as the NFL did."

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BeachBook

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Someone lied - Biden or Dowd. It matters.

Posted by The Beachwood Reporter on Wednesday, October 28, 2015

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Statesmanlike.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:55 AM | Permalink

U.S. CEO Retirement Packages: Bigger Than Yours

Most fast-food workers do not earn enough to retire with much of a pension. Then there is David Novak, executive chairman of YUM Brands, the conglomerate that runs Taco Bell, Pizza Hut, and KFC outlets.

Novak's total retirement holdings, including deferred compensation, are worth $234 million - more than any other Fortune 500 chief executive.

Novak tops the list of Fortune 500 CEOs with the largest retirement nest eggs, according to a study from two progressive think tanks - the Center for Effective Government and the Institute for Policy Studies.

Their data comes from Security & Exchange Commission filings for the 500 largest public companies. The figures are stunning, and cast a harsh and troubling light on soaring retirement inequality. The report offers yet another indication that runaway income inequality is producing grossly unfair retirement outcomes.

The top CEO retirement accounts are worth a combined $4.9 billion - equal to the total retirement account savings of the 41 percent of all American households with the lowest retirement wealth, according to the study.

Among all Fortune 500 CEOs, the typical value is $17.7 million. That includes the present value of defined benefit pensions, 401(k) account balances and other deferred compensation.

John Hammergren, CEO of drug wholesaler McKesson Corp. - which froze its employee pension fund in 1996 - has the largest Fortune 500 pension account, valued at $114 million.

McKesson refused to comment.

THE REST OF US

The CEO numbers are a stark contrast to the rest of us. In 2013, pre-retirement households (age 55-64) with annual income below $39,000 had median total retirement savings of $13,000 in 401(k) and IRA accounts, according to the Center for Retirement Research.

Middle-class households (income from $61,000 to $100,000) had median savings of $100,000.

Only in the highest-income band ($138,000 or more) were accumulations significant, at a median of $452,000.

Changes in our retirement benefit structure play a big role in account balances - especially the sharp decline in the share of private-sector workers receiving traditional defined benefit pensions.

In the past decade, 54 Fortune 500 companies changed their defined benefit pension plans, according to the Pension Rights Center - either reducing benefits, freezing plans or closing them to new hires, or terminating them altogether.

"Growth in CEO pay itself is one factor, along with the shift of employees out of defined benefit plans to less costly 401(k) plans, which have less risk for the employer," says Scott Klinger, director of revenue and spending policies at the Center for Effective Government and co-author of the report.

The growing mountain of evidence on retirement inequality is adding to momentum to change national retirement policies in favor of middle- and lower-income households.

The starting point should be an expansion of Social Security to boost benefits for middle- and lower-income workers, an idea embraced by people like Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders.

Nothing else would have a broader, bigger impact.

Beyond that, we need to make access to workplace retirement saving universal. The Obama administration's recent move to clear the path for states to create their own universal auto-IRA plans is a good start.

The financial services industry opposes these programs on ideological grounds - mainly because they are seen as government mandates.

MANDATORY SAVING

Even so, opposition is loosening a bit. That was clear in a remarkable speech this month by Hamilton "Tony" James, president of Blackstone - one of the world's largest private equity firms.

James issued a call for a universal, mandatory system of saving for all workers who do not currently have access to a workplace plan.

Specifically, he endorsed the Guaranteed Retirement Account (GRA), which is the brainchild of Teresa Ghilarducci, a labor economist at the New School for Social Research in New York City.

The GRA calls for mandatory worker and employer contributions to a low-cost, professionally managed account.

"There is really no alternative; it has to be mandated," James said. "I know that can be a politically loaded word these days, but I assure you that nothing short of a mandate will provide future generations of Americans enough income for a secure retirement."

Blackstone is not run by fire-breathing liberals. Its founders are deficit-hawk-in-chief Peter Peterson and Stephen Schwarzman, who several years ago infamously compared an Obama plan to raise taxes on carried interest taxes to the 1939 Nazi invasion of Poland.

Ghilarducci thinks positive movement might be coming.

"I never thought 25 years ago we'd be talking about Social Security expansion - but here we are."

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See also:
* Big Company Spins Off New Company. Loads It Up With 8,400 Retirees. New Company Goes Bankrupt. Retirees Lose Benefits.

* The [Pension] Papers.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:22 AM | Permalink

October 28, 2015

The Blue & Orange Kool-Aid Report: A Certain Level Of Cool Indifference

NFL Fever - Catch It! Whatever That Means
Seemingly each NFL season brings at least one instance of a Detroit Lion receiver involved in a play that forces us to study, question, ignore or amend the NFL rulebook on the fly.

This year, the Lions have provided the world a couple flavors of end zone weirdness, and Week 6's occurrence may have cost the Bears a shot at . . . nothing.

I don't think this team would be vying for a wild-card spot even if they were 3-3 right now. But still, WTF guys. We were enjoying that positive uptick.

For those of you who aren't familiar with the other play I'm referring to, watch Seattle's K.J. Wright just go ahead and slap a ball out of the back of the Seahawks' end zone.

As an NFL fan, I imagine that watching the above clip elicited roughly the same reaction from you as the one when you first encountered Rob Wilson awkwardly gyrating next to a Kia Sorrento prize package, or saw Bill Clinton cleverly trying to articulate/muddy the meaning of the word "is."

"Uh, the defense can just hit a fumbled ball out of bounds and gain possession? And did a former president get blown by a bird of prey in the Oval Office? You're saying that one of Barker's Beauties is named 'Rob?' What are we talking about??? Why is this happening??? Should I even give a damn about any of this???"

To which I reply: correct. That is the correct reaction.

And for the kids in the audience, google "pimpin-est nineties prez" and after you're done being confused about what passed for news during a good economy, have a good laugh at more timely memes like this.

Unfortunately, the result of the game proved that the Bears are, in fact, still not a great team.

The Lions aren't necessarily as bad as their record indicates, but the Bears spent most of their day on Detroit's side of the field.

And when you spend half your time on the business side of midfield, you gotsta put that cigar to good use. At least that's what my boy Slick Willie tells me.

So to recap, the Bears are better than we initially thought.

Good enough to at times impress, but waaaaaay bad enough to disappoint at the drop (or not drop?) of a hat.

Jeremiah Was A Bullfrog - A Mysteriously Unemployed Bullfrog
What the heck happened to The Plan? Are we not stockpiling sixth-round picks anymore?

Deemed by head coach John Fox as "what . . . is best for the football team," veteran defensive lineman and consistent contributor Jeremiah "Presumably Because Jeremiah Sounds Wholesome To Judges Presiding Over DUI Cases" Ratliff was cut by the Bears after a reportedly "heated" exchange with general manager Ryan Pace.

Most assume that the conflict must have been a harrowing experience for Pace, mostly because he can be described as a less handsome version of Dale Earnhardt Jr. in early cancer remission and that the police had to be summoned to Halas Hall to ensure peace was kept after Ratliff returned for another bite at the apple.

Word is that it was this return trip to the practice facility that ultimately cost the defender his job.

But rumor has it that the law had no need to visit Lake Forest that day, as the lanky GM used his reputation as a striker to ambush Ratliff with an improved ground game that was developed between bouts. Thanks to the element of surprise, Pace dispatched the 6-foot-4 Ratliff with a vicious arm bar only 45 seconds into the first round.

Full disclosure, I've been watching nothing but The Ultimate Fighter with the Bears on bye and, for all I know, Ratliff was fired because Virginia McCaskey walked in on him watching YouTube clip reel of the cheesiest quotes from Showgirls, which can definitely be an actionable offense within the Bears organization.

For example, if McCaskey had seen Ratliff watching this.

Or this.

Or this.

He would definitely get shit-canned.

This was definitely one of the more unusual roster moves in recent Bears history, but it was hardly the strangest cut to be found in the NFL. Not even the strangest this season.

  • Tim Tebow, QB: Seemingly a lock to make the Eagles roster as the third-string quarterback, Tebow was cut after the near the end of the preseason when he was found in the Philadelphia locker room brutally wringing blood from a live chicken into an onyx goblet.
  • Leon Washington, RB/KR: After successful stops in New York and Seattle, the former standout kick returner failed to make the Patriots' 53-man roster. It is rumored that New England head coach Bill Belichick got one look at Washington's rookie card and wanted no part of a player who makes obscene gestures in public, opting instead to uphold New England's proud tradition of investing in high-character players like LeGarrette Blount, Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez.
  • Devon Still, DT: In a 2014 story that captured the hearts of millions, Still was cut but quickly re-signed to the Bengals practice squad when the team learned that his young daughter was battling cancer. Unfortunately, misinformed Cincinnati defensive coordinator Paul Guenther cut Still earlier this season because he became convinced that cancer was a blood-borne disease spread by Russian vampires. "No commie Dracula gonna be spreadin' evil in my town," Guenther was quoted as saying shortly after receiving Still's playbook.

Kool Aid (3 of 5 Glasses Of Sauvignon Blanc)
I'll be watching this one with a certain level of cool indifference, thus sipping a beverage that reflects my mood.

Oh, who am I kidding. My doctor said if I don't slow down on the whiskey I'll die. Still not totally convinced, so wine it is. Like marriage, not dying of alcoholism is about compromise.

I am, however, very interested in how the Bears respond to their loss against the Lions. The offense put up over 30 points and we're all walking away from that game feeling like they couldn't finish the job.

Demoralizing, you say?

Remember last season when they gave up like 173 points in two weeks?

Yeah, last week was no big deal. I'm feeling more curious than anything.

For the first time in over a year, Chicago will have to figure out a way to contain Adrian Peterson as well as the NFL did.

So all the Bears have to do is prove that Peterson administered a type of discipline that is still widely considered standard punishment for rambunctious young males* and move onto game-planning for Jerick McKinnon.

Thus far, Peterson's been unable to shake off the rust and has been limited to a pace of 1,400 yards and 10 touchdowns.

Psssshhhh.

Whatevs.

Maybe I shouldn't overthink it. The guy's in the twilight of his career and barely warrants a concern.

The Vikings are 4-2, but their schedule has been pretty weak to this point and one of those losses came to the 49ers - a team that has a quarterback whom fairly reputable websites openly mock in game recap headlines. In other words, I don't think the Vikings are all that good.

The Bears will continue to compete under their newly upgraded coaching regime and, at home, win.

Thus fueling almost no rampant speculation that they can make a playoff run.

Bears 27, Vikings 23

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* And for those of you appalled by that assessment, you've clearly never lived with a male, raised a male, or dated a male between the ages of three and 26.

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About The Author
Carl Mohrbacher no longer has a Cubs playoff beard. Much as he loves to terrorize both Cubs opponents and his daughter with his face, that beard has sadly become inaccurate. That said, it's a long offseason and he's still got a few tricks up his sleeve in the "daughter embarrassment" department.

carlhat.jpg

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Carl Mohrbacher is our man on the Kool-Aid. He welcomes your comments.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:22 PM | Permalink

The [Wednesday] Papers

'It's not like he had much of a choice.'

*

Greg Hinz "explains" today for Crain's why Rahm's budget will pass. Has a Chicago mayor's budget ever not passed - and by a huge margin - in the last 30 years? Or ever?

*

"Six months ago, when Mayor Rahm Emanuel was fighting for his political life in a re-election runoff against Jesus 'Chuy' Garcia, even Chicagoans wise in the ways of City Hall would have raised an eyebrow if you'd told them that soon the mayor would propose a $588 million property tax increase and that a wide majority of aldermen would compliantly and promptly enact it."

What? We all knew a property tax hike was coming. It was common knowledge. That's partly what made Emanuel's attack on a property tax hike vote Garcia took when Harold Washington was mayor so despicable.

*

"After all, hiking the property tax long has been the third rail of Chicago politics, a too-hot-to-handle matter that even Richard M. Daley at the height of his powers refused to try. It couldn't happen now, could it?"

Huh? Daley did raise property taxes - including the largest such hike at the time in Chicago's history.

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P.S.:

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I haven't had the psychic energy to actually watch the interview - and I doubt I've missed anything. Think a little bit harder about the opportunity (and responsibility) you have, please.

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Then again . . .

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Maybe more local TV news like this!

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Big Company Spins Off New Company. Loads It Up With 8,400 Retirees. New Company Goes Bankrupt. Retirees Lose Benefits.
"All I could think is, you dirty, low-down rotten scoundrels. How could anyone with a conscience do something like this?"

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Local Book Notes: Chicagonomics & Bob Rohrman
Why are these men laughing?

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Local Music Notebook: Mac Sabbath, Babes In Toyland & The Old Comiskeys
"But the time had come, he said, to bring drive-thru metal up from the 'underground.'"

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BeachBook

Just because we're wearing bikinis to get your attention doesn't mean you should pay attention to the bikinis we're...

Posted by The Beachwood Reporter on Wednesday, October 28, 2015

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Joe Biden vs. Maureen Dowd vs. the Truth.

Posted by The Beachwood Reporter on Tuesday, October 27, 2015

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Really well done. Digital journalism, everybody.

Posted by The Beachwood Reporter on Tuesday, October 27, 2015

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Hey, at the 21-minute mark is a segment of this show, which appears on Mexico City Public TV, of the studio where I...

Posted by The Beachwood Reporter on Tuesday, October 27, 2015

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Look, I'm just the messenger.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Play it again, Mac.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:20 AM | Permalink

Local Book Notes: Chicagonomics, Del Hall & Bob Rohrman

"Chicagonomics, a new book by Lanny Ebenstein, a prolific author on the history of economic thought, sets out to investigate the history of the Chicago school of economics, to see what can be learnt for today from its past," the Economist writes.

"The author chronicles the intellectual history of what began life in the 1890s as the Department of Political Economy. Before the 1940s, Chicago's professors were much closer to the liberalism of British political economists such as Adam Smith, Jeremy Bentham and John Stuart Mill than the libertarianism of Hayek and Friedman in the 1980s and early 1990s. Mr Ebenstein looks at the ideas of scholars such as Jacob Viner and Frank Knight, and concludes that while they favoured individual freedom, their policy prescriptions did not exclude government action. Both perceived Smith as justifying the state intervening in the economy at times, such as with the provision of infrastructure, education for the young and the funding of arts, culture and science.

"By the 1940s, the use of redistribution to ensure that everyone had a basic standard of living was accepted by most Chicago economists. For instance, Henry Simons, when he worked at Chicago between 1939 and 1946, set out how redistribution, by diffusing economic power in a society, was necessary in a free society. Even Hayek, in his libertarian polemic of 1944, The Road to Serfdom, supported the use of environmental regulation and state-run social-insurance systems."

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The headline to the piece is "Going Off The Rails." The subhead is: "How libertarians hijacked liberal economics."

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The Photojournalism Of Del Hall
"Richard Campanella is probably best known for his books and writings about places, as a specialist in the historical geography of New Orleans. This time, he's sharpened his focus on a person and a fascinating one at that: pioneering WWL-TV and CBS News photographer Del Hall," Dominic Massa reports for WWL-TV in New Orleans.

"The title of Campanella's new book, The Photojournalism of Del Hall: New Orleans and Beyond: 1950s-2000s (LSU Press), shows how important the partnership is. In Hall, Campanella finds a witness to history, not just in New Orleans but at critical times in America's story as well.

"In his preface, Campanella explains how he first met Hall in 2008, when the Chicago resident phoned him about a set of aerial photographs he had taken of New Orleans. Hall had hoped to get them into appreciative hands, and couldn't have made a better choice. The two struck up a friendship that developed into a memoir."

delhall.jpg

"'I learned how this son of a Mexican immigrant, born during the Depression and raised in segregated public housing, had witnessed and filmed a thrilling sweep of world history and in the process helped invent modern television news,' Campanella writes on the first page of the book. His next sentence explains why this book is such a powerful read.

"'He documented key moments in Louisiana's civil rights struggle, got arrested at a sit-in, single-handedly covered Vatican II for a first-of-its-kind color news documentary, kissed Pope John XXIII's ring and sat at Ringo Starr's drums, got chased by the Ku Klux Klan and shot at by the Viet Cong, became the first journalist beaten by police at the 1968 Democratic Convention, served as a witness for the Chicago Seven, covered President Richard Nixon in Moscow, worked regularly with CBS' Walter Cronkite and 60 Minutes, won an Emmy for his camerawork on Charles Kuralt's On the Road and an Emmy nomination for his Vietnam work, was nearly killed in a helicopter crash at the America's Cup, and had before his camera everyone from Martin Luther King to Juan Peron, from Earl K. Long to John F. Kennedy, from a rude Bette Davis to a jovial Dalai Lama.'"

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"Hall came to Chicago to work in the Chicago CBS bureau in the late '60s at the behest of his friend, Dan Rather," according to Reel Chicago.

"As videotape was replacing newsfilm, Hall quit film, 'and I quit it forever,' and also learned the art of tape editing.

"A helicopter crash in 1974 ended Hall's CBS career and nearly ended his life. He was on assignment in August, 1974 covering the America's Cup Race out of Newport, R.I. when their helicopter burst into flame and plunged deep into the Atlantic Ocean.

"The survivors were dramatically rescued at sea and Hall spent the next several years recovering from injuries and the trauma."

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Here's Hall speaking Monday to students at his alma mater:

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There's Only One Bob Rohrman Memoir
"It was a sunny 64 degrees during the last week of the season at the Dog n' Suds drive-in when Jeff Washburn, coney and a root beer on the driver's side window tray, took a call Monday afternoon asking him to dish a few Bob Rohrman stories," Dave Bangert writes for the Indianapolis Star.

"If there's quota on Lafayette icons you're allowed to squeeze into one sentence, I'm not sure. What you just read up there has to be close.

"Two of those icons spent more than a year unspooling and transcribing an autobiography's worth of stories - Rohrman to Washburn - for A Fantastic Ride."

That's right, Bob Rohrman has a memoir.

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"Out in the past week, the book - 'A Bob Rohrman Production,' according to the credits - is the Lafayette auto dealer and ubiquitous TV pitchman's account of growing up in Lafayette, getting a start in the car business by cold calling potential customers, A-to-Z, from the phone book in the '50s and eventually assembling a dealership empire with his name on 32 locations in Indiana, Illinois and Wisconsin today."

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Here's an Indianapolis TV report on the book:

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Also, buy a new car and get an autographed copy at Count Bobula's Sales Spectacular.

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See also:
* Chicago: Why Is This Man Laughing?

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:27 AM | Permalink

Local Music Notebook: Mac Sabbath, Babes In Toyland & The Old Comiskeys

1. Yes.

Dec31_MacSabbath-LR.jpg

"It was the Year of Our Lord 2013, and I was devouring a cheeseburger in a Chatsworth, California, franchise of a certain multinational fast food conglomerate which shall remain nameless.

"Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed a crazed looking clown walking in my direction.

"Wearing a costume of bright yellow and red, and giant shiny shoes, he seemingly fit into the surroundings, but it didn't take long to see that something wasn't quite right. His costume was trailed by long, tattered, hippie fringe that was dirty from scraping the floor (and most likely the alley behind the restaurant), and more alarmingly his face was caked in ghostly make up that looked like it had been smeared on with a putty knife.

"My first thought was that he looked like Skeletor as a member of Uriah Heap. Taking a seat in my booth, he informed me that his name was Ronald Osborne, and he that he was familiar with my oddity rock band Rosemary's Billygoat. He was a fan of the band, and said he had a concept I might appreciate, something he termed 'drive-thru metal.'

"Some of the delinquent kids who worked for the franchise had been allowing him and a cast of characters named Slayer Mac Cheeze, Grimalice, and the Cat Burglar, to perform secret rock shows in the bunker-like basements of the local restaurants.

"But the time had come, he said, to bring drive-thru metal up from the 'underground,' and he asked if I would consider becoming the manager of his band. I asked him what the act was called, and proclaimed with pride, 'MAC SABBATH!'"

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Mac Sabbath at Durty Nellie's in Palatine in September:

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2. Catching Up With: Maureen Herman Out Of Reunited Babes In Toyland.

Reminder: "In 1992, I got the call to join [Babes] while sitting at my desk at Columbia College Chicago where I was the English Department Secretary and a student."

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3. Tom Morello and Maureen Herman are Cubs fans; no surprise here.

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Equal time of a sort - The Old Comiskeys:

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Yeah, I'll stick with Rage and Babes.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 4:03 AM | Permalink

Free Spirit Local TV News

More true or less than the dreck we see on commercial channels every night?


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Previously in Free Spirit Media:
* Free Spirit Media On The Road.

* Chicago Public Schools: Closed.

* Chicago Producers On The Rise.

* Kay Kay & Von Von.

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See also:
* Free Spirit Media's YouTube channel.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 3:55 AM | Permalink

Big Company Spins Off New Company. Loads It Up With 8,400 Retirees. New Company Goes Bankrupt. Retirees Lose Benefits.

John R. Leach worked for Peabody Energy Corp. in western Kentucky for 23 years. When he retired, he and his wife Rhonda relied on his pension and health benefits not only for themselves but to care for two severely disabled adult children. So when Peabody notified them in 2007 that their benefits were now the responsibility of a spinoff called Patriot Coal, they had a worrisome premonition.

"We said, 'There's something going on here that's not right,'" Rhonda Leach said.

The family's worries were justified. When Patriot filed for bankruptcy two years ago, retiree benefits for thousands of mining families were put at risk. While Peabody eventually agreed to pay for some of those costs, Patriot is now back in financial trouble. This time around, Peabody is quietly seeking to get out of paying for any of its remaining agreed-upon obligations to its retirees.

"All I could think is, you dirty, low-down rotten scoundrels. How could anyone with a conscience do something like this?" Rhonda Leach said.

Peabody's maneuver is perhaps the starkest example yet of how corporate engineering by coal companies under increasing economic duress is imperiling whatever security workers and retirees still possess after their years of work in frequently dangerous conditions.

It dwarfs another attempt to undermine retired miners' health benefits as part of the Patriot bankruptcy, which ProPublica wrote about earlier this month. In that instance, lawyers for Patriot were seeking to redirect for themselves and others involved in the bankruptcy case $18 million that was intended for the health benefits for about 200 retired miners in southern Indiana.

After ProPublica reported on that proposal and both Hillary and Bill Clinton spoke out against it, the lawyers withdrew that plan from the Richmond, Va., court handling Patriot's bankruptcy.

What Peabody is now proposing represents a sum eight times as big - $145 million - and a pool of retirees far larger than the southern Indiana group. If Peabody prevails, it will mean that a fund that covers 12,000 retired miners, their dependents and widows - most of them in Kentucky and West Virginia 2014 will run dry early next year, much sooner than expected. This will raise pressure in Congress to bail out the fund with taxpayer money.

Hillary Clinton, who is seeking the Democratic presidential nomination, issued a statement Monday about Peabody's latest plan. "These are people who put their own health and safety at risk for years so the rest of us could have the affordable, reliable electricity we take for granted, and now many suffer from black lung disease and other job-related illnesses," Clinton said. "They are entitled to the benefits they've earned, and which Peabody just two years ago committed to pay. I hope Peabody does the right thing, reverses course, and honors the commitments it's made."

The issue has its roots in the restructuring eight years ago by Peabody, the nation's largest coal company. It created Patriot Coal and transferred to the new firm 13 percent of its coal reserves and 40 percent of its health care liabilities, the obligations for 8,400 former Peabody employees and dependents. Patriot added responsibility for another 2,300 retirees and dependents when it acquired Magnum Coal, a spinoff from the country's second-largest coal company, Arch.

Under union contracts, the retirees qualified for their health benefits by working in the mines for at least 20 years.

The implications of the Peabody spinoff weren't entirely clear at the time, since the coal industry was still in relatively strong shape. But by 2012, coal companies were being pressed by competition from cheap natural gas, new environmental regulations and declining Appalachian reserves. Patriot, with its total liabilities rising to $1.37 billion, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, putting the benefits of its nearly 11,000 Peabody and Arch retirees and dependents at risk.

This drew the attention of Temple University business professor Bruce Rader, who wrote an article arguing that Peabody's maneuver should worry believers in free-market capitalism.

"This is a perfect example of the use of the legal system to socialize the costs and therefore lead to a transfer of costs to the general public from the shareholders of a company," Rader wrote.

But the judge overseeing the case in the bankruptcy court in St. Louis, Kathy Surratt-States, disagreed, and initially granted Patriot's request to offload more than $1.5 billion in retiree obligations.

"Was Debtor Patriot Coal Corporation created to fail? Maybe not. Maybe," wrote Surratt-States.

Regardless, she continued, the miners' benefits were probably too generous to begin with: "Unions generally try to bargain for the best deal for their members. However, there is likely some responsibility to be absorbed for demanding benefits that the employer cannot realistically fund in perpetuity, particularly given the availability of sophisticated actuarial analysts and cost trend experts."

It was only after further legal pressure from the United Mine Workers of America, as well as voluble protests at Peabody's St. Louis headquarters by union members, that Peabody agreed to a partial compromise.

A voluntary employee beneficiary association - VEBA - was established to cover the benefits of the 11,000 retirees and dependents. The VEBA was to be overseen by the union, but it would be funded with $400 million from the coal companies, $310 million of that from Peabody, whose retirees made up more than two-thirds of those in the VEBA.

This was much less than the $1.45 billion that the companies estimated as the benefits' cost, but it was better than nothing. In exchange, the union gave up an equity stake it had in Patriot, and it had to pledge not to disparage the companies.

Patriot also obtained new financing from a New York hedge fund, Knighthead Capital, which allowed it to emerge from Chapter 11. But the coal industry declined even more sharply, and earlier this year Patriot filed for Chapter 11 yet again, one of a host of companies to do so.

This time, it is auctioning off its mines, mostly to another coal venture also backed by Knighthead.

While this bankruptcy has been playing out in Richmond, Peabody made its move in St. Louis, asking the same judge who sided with it two years ago, Surratt-States, to reopen the 2013 agreement that established the VEBA payments. In effect, Peabody argued, it should be allowed out of that agreement with the UMWA and Patriot since Patriot was going out of existence. With more retirees having become eligible for the fund since 2013, it now holds about 12,000 people - 3,500 of them from Arch/Magnum, and the rest from Peabody.

On Oct. 9, Surratt-States granted Peabody's request to reopen the 2013 agreement and make its case for getting out of its remaining VEBA payments - $75 million due in January and another $70 million a year after that.

Last week, the UMWA filed a challenge, arguing that the fate of the VEBA payments should instead be addressed by the Richmond court handling the Patriot bankruptcy, since if Peabody is allowed out of the $145 million in payments, the union would demand those from Patriot instead.

"Peabody remains obligated to fulfill its obligations under the contract to the UMWA, notwithstanding" Patriot's collapse, the union said. Peabody, it continued, would be "inequitably and unjustly enriched" by being allowed out of the payments.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch first reported on the confrontation last week.

Asked about Peabody's effort to undo the 2013 agreement, a company spokeswoman provided a statement saying simply, "We look forward to gaining additional clarity on the three-party 2013 Settlement Agreement. This court [St. Louis] is the proper place to decide this given it originally settled the 2013 agreement."

The spokeswoman also challenged a reference to those in the VEBA as "Peabody retirees." "Please note that this is a group of Patriot retirees - not Peabody," she wrote.

In fact, the vast majority of them had in fact worked for Peabody and retired from it prior to the creation of Patriot - after all, they needed to work for 20 years to qualify for benefits, and Patriot has existed since only 2007.

The VEBA was expected to run dry in a few years even with Peabody's remaining $145 million on the books, given that the payments agreed upon in 2013 amounted to less than a third of the benefits' expected cost. Anticipating this depletion, there has been a move afoot in Congress to put the retirees into the Coal Act fund, which has since 1992 been covering union retirees from shuttered mines.

That fund was for years fed by the interest from fees coal companies were paying to restore abandoned mines, but since 2006 it has been buttressed by $490 million per year in taxpayer money. The proposal to add the VEBA members to the fund has 54 co-sponsors, but is still awaiting a hearing in the House. If Peabody is allowed out of the $145 million obligation, the question of a taxpayer bailout would become far more urgent - the union says the fund could run out as early as January.

The union is gearing up for protests before it comes to that. "We're going to try to fight as good as we can," said Kenny Smith, 64, who worked 17 years at Peabody mines in western Kentucky and was the vice president of his union local, and relies on his coverage for his serious heart disease. "We kept our deal and they didn't keep their deal. Back where I'm from in Harlan County, you tell a man a promise, you keep it."

The Leaches, who provide their adult children's home care on their own, depend on the retiree insurance to supplement disability insurance for the extensive costs they incur, everything from replacing feeding tubes to treating staph infections to paying for a special bar that connects their wheelchairs so that Rhonda can more easily take them with her when she goes shopping at Walmart.

She said she was more worried about Peabody widows than about her own children. "I thought about the elderly gentlemen who passed away thinking the one thing they could leave their spouse was a health care and a pension," she said.

"All I think," she added, "is that these people are living in a fallen world that's all about the money. The rest of what I'm thinking you couldn't print. It wouldn't be Christian."

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Previously:
* Bankruptcy Lawyers Strip Cash From Indiana Coal Miners' Health Insurance.

* Impact: Plan To Divert $18 Million From The Health Insurance Of Retired Indiana Coal Miners To Pay Bankruptcy Lawyers Is Dead.

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Related stories: For more coverage of labor and Wall Street, read ProPublica's previous reporting on a plan to divert money from miners to lawyers, the corporate attack on workers' compensation laws, and a hedge fund's $100 million payday.

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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 2:40 AM | Permalink

October 27, 2015

The [Tuesday] Papers

"While Mayor Rahm Emanuel has reduced Chicago's use of borrowed money to plug budget holes, records show he continues to rely heavily on the practice, devoting nearly half of the $300 million in long-term bond funds spent over the past two years to short-lived expenditures," the Tribune reports.

"As the City Council prepares to vote Wednesday on a 2016 budget, the newly released bond spending data underline the difficulty of cleaning up the city's financial mess. It shows that even after dramatically shrinking the budget deficit he inherited, Emanuel lacked the operating cash to cover numerous routine expenditures, including items as minor as decorative flower planters."

But everyone loved those decorative planters! They were world-class.

*

"Of about $300 million in new bond money spent in 2013, 2014 and early 2015 - debt on which the city will pay interest until 2044 - nearly half paid for short-lived items. Borrowing for operating costs sticks future generations with the tab, plus interest, for spending that will not benefit them.

"A total of $136 million in borrowed money went to court judgments and settlements against the city, records show. Emanuel also spent $5.3 million in borrowed money on landscaping of street medians and boulevards, $3 million on boarding up hazardous buildings, and $4.2 million on maintenance of city fountains, trees, roadway guardrails and other property and equipment."

*

"Mayor Rahm Emanuel said Monday that cash-strapped Chicago Public Schools is likely to borrow against a $45 million property tax increase he's proposed in his budget for school construction," the Tribune also reports.

"The CPS tax hike is part of the record $588 million property tax increase aldermen are expected to approve Wednesday. The mayor pitched the CPS tax in his budget address more than a month ago, but his comments Monday mark the first time he's indicated CPS would borrow against the new revenue stream to embark on a building program that would be more expansive than just $45 million per year."

Now, I know what you must be thinking: Didn't Emanuel just close 50 schools? Why, yes, he did. So now he's going to build new ones? Apparently. Why? My guess is that there are still parts of the city where school overcrowding is a major problem, so maybe new schools for those neighborhoods? Let's read on . . .

"The mayor and his administration have declined to say which schools would benefit or which projects would be tackled first once the new CPS 'capital improvement tax levy' is enacted. Emanuel has offered generalities about the money being spent on overcrowding and air conditioning. The Emanuel administration also has declined to provide a list of what it considers to be the city's overcrowded schools."

Oh, that's right, it's a state secret. You need to have national security clearance to know which schools the city considers to be overcrowded. You do not, however, need clearance of any kind to be billed for the mayor's secret overcrowding relief plan.

*

"As Emanuel tries to collect enough votes to approve a budget laden with tax and fee hikes, a school construction program would give him a potential avenue to bring aldermen into his camp by giving them new projects to take credit for in their ward. The mayor was asked Monday whether he had discussed specific school projects with aldermen in the run-up to the budget vote, but he did not answer."

Loose lips sink political ships.

*

"Emanuel added another new wrinkle to the CPS tax issue Monday. He said some of the proceeds from the tax increase would go toward expanding high-speed broadband access."

Including at overcrowded schools?

"Yes."

And which schools are those again?

[Walks away.]

*

That last part was just in my head.

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The Cubs' Season In Limerick
This is really good, IMHO.

Keywords: Duran Duran, Ronnie James Dio, Pam Dawber, Luis Tiant, Michael Ferro, Scrubs, Starlin Castro

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Kay Kay & Von Von
A Chicago mockumentary.

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BeachBook

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TweetWood
A sampling.

NOTE: Embeds not showing up properly; trying to resolve.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Bondo.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:02 AM | Permalink

Kay Kay & Von Von

"The Pulitzer Crew produced a mockumentary promoting their documentary, Fighting with Music."


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Fighting With Music

"Fighting With Music is a documentary about local Chicago artists expressing their feelings through their music about police brutality."

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Previously in Free Spirit Media:
* Free Spirit Media On The Road.

* Chicago Public Schools: Closed.

* Chicago Producers On The Rise.

-

See also:
* Free Spirit Media's YouTube channel.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:36 AM | Permalink

The Season In Limerick

There once was a manager named Maddon
Who benched Starlin Castro, who was saddened
But Starlin came back
at the keystone sack
And everyone was gladdened

There was also a prez named Theo
who probably likes Duran Duran's "Rio"
He put together a team
that played like a dream
But he's sure no Ronnie James Dio

And then there was the GM named Jed
who did whatever Theo said
He got Haren and Hunter
and nary a bunter
And Hammel shit the bed

There was a left fielder named Schwarber
whose parents wanted him to be a lawber
But he played catcher instead
Has rocks in his head
And is too young to know Pam Dawber

The Rookie of the Year is Bryant
For a third baseman, he's a giant
He might play left
If he gets too much heft
He's too young to remember Luis Tiant

Oh what to do with Starlin
Make him a Florida Marlin?
He once was benched,
His fists were clenched
But now he's everybody's darlin'

Do you remember Addison Russell?
It seems he pulled a muscle
He went on IR
Watched the games from a bar
Got carded and left in a tussle

The catcher was Miguel Montero
His pitch framing was narrow
He went bad at the end
The playoffs were not his friend
But at least he's not Michael Ferro

Then there was David Ross
One day he'll be the boss
But for now he just sucks
Dining on Jon Lester's bucks
And with him playing soft toss

There once was a man named Fowler
His first half was a howler
But he buckled down
And went to town
And now Dexter is a mauler

Surely you know Mr. Rizzo
Also known as the shizzo
He leads the young Cubs
Enjoys repeats of Scrubs
And all the girls want to Kizzo

There once was a field named Wrigley
The Ricketts' thought it was pigly
So they blocked the view
from me and you
And they're really horrible people

The Mets ended the season
It was just a tease on
All of us fools
who got taken to school
And Murphy was the reason

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Week In Review: The Cubs lost Games 3 and 4 to the Mets in the NLCS, completing the sweep. The total final margin was 21-8, as the Ghosts of Cubs Past inhabited the current squad's bodies and made a car wreck of a clown show out of it.

The Week In Preview: The post-mortems among Cubs fans have already dissipated, but White Sox fans continue to act like they had a better season than the North Siders. And I guess any time the Cubs don't win the World Series is considered a winning season on the South Side.

The Second Basemen Report: Starlin Castro started the last two games at second, though he moved to short in each of them too. Castro now spends an unlikely offseason as trade bait with rebuilt value or the team's untouchable second baseman for at least the rest of the decade.

In former Cubs second basemen news, former Cubs second baseman Mark Bellhorn last played for the Cubs in 2003. He's No. 1 batting comp is Luis Valbuena. He is missed.

Mad(don) Scientist: Poppa Joe played the Rocky theme in the locker room after his team's Game 2 loss to the Mets. That strikes us as a rare misstep. Poppa Joe also brought the magician back during the Mets series. Geez, Joe, out of ideas?

Wishing Upon A Starlin: Mr. Castro might have rebuilt his value after a surprisingly strong showing at second base after losing the shortstop's job, but to our way of thinking he just might have lost the NLCS in Game 1 when he failed to run hard out of the box and wound up on second base with a double instead of on third with a gettable triple, and failing to score because of it. The series swung on that play, people.

Kubs Kalendar: The first 1,000 fans through the doors of the Cubs Convention in January will be paddled for being such a bunch of children that they actually attend the Cubs Convention.

Ameritrade Stock Pick Of The Week: Shares of Trendy Pick For World Series Champion 2016 and Sports Illustrated Baseball Preview Cover Boys are trading very high.

Over/Under: Consecutive days of the offseason that will pass without discussion of where Kyle Schwarber will/should play: +/-.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 if the Cubs don't win it all in 2016, The Plan didn't work.

Touch 'Em All: The Cub Factor archives.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:50 AM | Permalink

October 26, 2015

The [Monday] Papers

"Peoples Gas executives withheld damning cost information in a 20-year infrastructure program to win state approval of a lucrative merger, an Illinois utility regulator charges, citing a new auditor's report," Crain's reports.

"In late July, about a month after the Illinois Commerce Commission backed the $5.7 billion sale of Chicago-based Integrys Energy Group to Wisconsin Energy, the utility disclosed that the estimated cost to replace nearly 2,000 miles of old Chicago gas mains had spiked to more than $8 billion from $4.5 billion. But Peoples had that estimate as far back as January and didn't disclose it until its sale was final, a new report by ICC-hired Liberty Consulting Group reveals.

Miguel del Valle, the only commissioner of the five-member agency to oppose the deal, says in an e-mail, "I voted against this merger because it was obvious to me the company's strategy was to keep information from the commission. I'm deeply concerned that while Liberty questions whether this multibillion-dollar program has adequate structure, Chicago ratepayers continue to pay for it each month."

Huh. The only member of the Illinois Commerce Commission to vote against the deal was . . . its chairman.

Del Valle was appointed to the board by former Gov. Pat Quinn, who also made him chairman, as is the sitting governor's prerogative. (The current chairman, as designated by Gov. Bruce Rauner, is Brian Sheahan.)

Let's take a step back from the issue at hand to look at this more broadly. First, this incident only reinforces how different del Valle is from, say, Rahm Emanuel, whom del Valle ran against for mayor in 2011 and who was a far better candidate than Chuy Garcia. Del Valle got crushed. But consider: If Emanuel had been chairman of the ICC when this vote came up, does anyone think he would've opposed it? Of course not. He would've behaved just as his hand-picked Chicago Board of Education behaved when Barbara Byrd-Bennett pushed that $20 million no-bid SUPES contract through; without due diligence. Most regulatory boards and commissions aren't designed to provide due diligence, but only the appearance of such so that insiders can all benefit. That's why they all sit on each other's boards and commissions. It's a closed system.

Emanuel is getting some pundit flak for not vetting Byrd-Bennett properly, but that's really missing the point, in part because there really wasn't anything in her background to indicate she was a scam artist (and everything in her background to indicate she'd be a fine hatchet woman) and in larger part because the problem with SUPES was the board, not Byrd-Bennett. Cheaters gonna cheat, so checks and balances gotta check and balance to stop them.

In the case of the school board, though, the mayor didn't appoint people he thought would provide due diligence checking his appointed school board chief; he appointed a board he thought would go along quietly with his appointed school board chief. See the problem here? The same person is appointing both sides of the equation. This is what speaks to a different model, be it an elected school board or removing the school district from mayoral control or some other solution. This is Exhibit A. It's staring us in the face.

This also speaks to the character of those who have served on Emanuel's boards, including U.S. Senate candidate Andrea Zopp, who saw Byrd-Bennett's relationship with SUPES as a "plus," not a conflict-of-interest. That's just the kind of worldview Emanuel was looking for when he made his appointments - a worldview so rampant in our political culture that he probably didn't have to think two seconds about it when it came to any potential board member he was considering. The last thing Emanuel wanted (and still wants) when it came to school board members was someone who would ask questions, tie things up, slow down his initiatives, embarrass his hand-picked CEO.

And landing an appointment to the school board is not exactly the fulfillment of a civic calling around here; it's good for one's future to be with the mayor. I don't know if Emanuel privately prefers Zopp or Tammy Duckworth for senate; he's publicly neutral. But school board members clearly work for a boss they want to please.

That's why the final sentence of my recent Op-Ed for Crain's says "Despite what school board members and CPS executives say, they are motivated more by their own desires and ambitions than they are by the desire to educate children. But that just means they're the wrong people for the jobs - and that goes to the mayor, who really needs to learn the kind of management lessons that someone like Joe Maddon can teach."

The SUPES scandal didn't arise out of a failure to properly vet Byrd-Bennett; I'm sure the more Emanuel saw of Byrd-Bennett's past, the more he liked her. The problem is in the appointment-making system, including who makes the appointments and why, and how boards of appointees really function, as opposed to setting them up to function the way they ought to.

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50th Anniversary Of St. Louis Arch Fraud
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch won a Pulitzer back in the day for exposing the fraudulent bond referendum that financed the Gateway Arch. That is recalled among other things as the Arch's 50th anniversary is celebrated.

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Note: The Arch story is a Reuters piece. As I've mentioned before, Reuters has made some of its work available for free to digital publishers, so I've been picking and choosing what fits here at Beachwood. Beyond that, though, I'd like you to take a look at the story and then consider that Reuters produced it in text only; I added the links and embedded the relevant video. Now, you tell me which is better? Sheesh. It's 2015. The legacy media mindset remains broken.

*

Here's another example:

Defining a story as a "Monday paper story" is a definition that still defines stories as "paper" stories. For a certain day. That day being tomorrow.

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See also: 4 TellTale Signs You're Too Print-Centric.

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Note: Stop tweeting out your damn sports covers. You are killing your own jobs.

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Wait Til This Year
Check out this Primetime Live report from 1984 - it's eerily familiar to today's reports about the Cubs, right down to the narrative of kids who don't know any better. It also shows how great it was to be a Cubs fan - and some of the whys and wherefores behind such - until the yuppies came along.

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The Allure Of Cage Fighting
The author of Thrown, hailed as the only book you'll ever need to read about MMA, is here this week to explain why so many think it's so great.

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How To Investigate Debt At Your Area's Colleges
Plug-and-play, people.

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The Weekend In Chicago Rock
Featuring: Cartoons, Heavy Times, Make Overs, Autopsy, Nones, In The Valley Below, Against The Current, Machineheart, Kelly Price, Phoebe Ryan, Kansas, and Obnox.

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BeachBook

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TweetWood

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The Beachwood Tip Line: A full line, not just a half.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 11:24 AM | Permalink

The Weekend In Chicago Rock

You shoulda been there.

1. The Cartoons at Auxiliary on Friday night.


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2. Heavy Times at Auxiliary on Friday night.

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3. The Make Overs at Auxiliary on Friday night.

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4. Autopsy at Reggies on Friday night.

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5. Nones at Auxiliary on Friday night.

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6. In The Valley Below at Lincoln Hall on Saturday night.

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7. Against The Current at Subterranean on Saturday night.

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8. Machineheart at the House of Blues on Saturday night.

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9. Kelly Price at Promontory on Friday night.

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10. Phoebe Ryan at the House of Blues on Saturday night.

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11. Kansas at the Arcada Theatre on Thursday night.

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12. Obnox at the Auxiliary on Friday night.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:57 AM | Permalink

Primetime Live 1989: Wait 'Til This Year

A brilliant managing job, young kids who didn't know any better, and a bright future. Guess what?


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See also:

1984 was also the start of something. First playoff appearance since 1945. Followed by four losing seasons.

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1998 clincher. Swept out of division series, missed playoffs for the next four seasons.

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2003 clinch and celebration. Missed playoffs for the next three seasons.

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WGN 2007 video tribute.

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2008 WGN Radio, clinch. Missed playoffs for next six seasons.

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Plus:

Cubs Fever, 1969 - in two parts.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:43 AM | Permalink

Primetime Live 1989: Wait 'Til This Year

A brilliant managing job, young kids who didn't know any better, and a bright future. Guess what?


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See also:

1984 was also the start of something. First playoff appearance since 1945. Followed by four losing seasons.

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1998 clincher. Swept out of division series, missed playoffs for the next four seasons.

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2003 clinch and celebration. Missed playoffs for the next three seasons.

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WGN 2007 video tribute.

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2008 WGN Radio, clinch. Missed playoffs for next six seasons.

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Plus:

Cubs Fever, 1969 - in two parts.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 4:44 AM | Permalink

The Allure Of Cage Fighting

"Thrown Is The Only MMA Book Anyone Ever Needs To Write," Deadspin's Tim Marchman declared last year.

"Kerry Howley's Thrown is so good in large part because, so far as possible, she ignores this entire sports-industrial complex in favor of her subjects' humanity. Rankings, purses, pay-per-view orders, judging, won-loss records, sober discussions of chronic traumatic encephalopathy, marketing strategies, and the like come in here only when they're truly unavoidable, and are quickly dismissed. Howley, who spent three years in the company of two serious fighters for this book, is writing about something else entirely.

"What she's interested in is what makes people watch, and what makes them fight. As ridiculous as it seems to the uninitiated - and Howley is both too self-aware not to know how ridiculous it seems, and too self-assured to care - it's the possibility of transcendence, of a moment like the one she experienced watching the first fight she ever saw, held at a convention center in downtown Des Moines in 2010 not far from a phenomenology conference from which she was fleeing."

You'll have to click through to see what that was. And/or maybe Howley will talk about it on Thursday when she speaks at Roosevelt University (5 p.m. in Room 700 of the Gage Building, 18 South Michigan Avenue).

*

From Publishers Weekly:

"This sui generis debut threatens to remap the entire genre of nonfiction. Howley, a philosophy student disillusioned by 'academic apple-polishing,' sets out on a quest to find the closest contemporary equivalent to Schopenhauer's concept of an ecstatic experience. She finds it, unexpectedly, in the world of mixed-martial-arts (MMA) fighting

"Howley becomes a 'species of fighterly accoutrement known as a spacetaker,' ingratiating herself into the lives of two cage fighters: Sean Huffman, a smash-nosed, cauliflower-eared veteran with a legacy of losing but never getting knocked out, and Erik Koch, a young, lithe, apprentice-level beginner 'destined for the big shows.'"

*

"It is absolutely true that Howley manages to conjure the moments that make fights so thrilling," Alyssa Rosenberg writes for the Washington Post.

"And it is striking that she manages to do so in a book that is also a very funny satire of the ways in which elites - including, famously, Norman Mailer - often make a fetish of violence and the people who commit it."

*

"I suppose the first thing to say about Thrown is that it's an effective portrayal of this reality of MMA: no matter how much he's making, the fighter gets fucked," Freddie deBoer writes.

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Here's Howley speaking in Washington, D.C., last year:

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This week's reading, which is free, is presented by Roosevelt's Department of Literature and Languages, its Creative Writing Program and the University's literary magazine Oyez Review. A reception with refreshments begins at 4:30 p.m.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 3:51 AM | Permalink

50 Years Ago, St. Louis Gateway Arch Monument Built On Rigged Votes, Protests

When the last section of St. Louis's Gateway Arch, an American landmark as iconic as the Statue of Liberty, was hoisted into place on Oct 28, 1965, it was the concluding act of a story that began more than 30 years earlier.

From rigged votes in a bond election to fund the project, to a famous father-son mix-up when the winning architect was alerted, to a civil rights protest high above ground, some of the Arch's rich, complicated history during those three decades has largely been forgotten as the 630-foot-tall, stainless steel structure nears its 50th anniversary.

The monument, meant to celebrate America's western expansion, has taken on different interpretations over its lifetime.

Bob Moore, resident historian at the Arch, called the structure "an icon of the modern age," but said it also represented the taking of land from Native Americans and Hispanic people.

While today's television viewers may know the Arch better as the centerpiece of the SyFy series Defiance, the seed for its creation was planted in 1933, when attorney Luther Ely Smith, returning by train to his hometown, saw the blight of the riverfront and proposed building the structure.

Two years later, city leaders, eager for jobs and federal money, asked voters to approve a bond issue in an election which had an unusually high turnout and approval rate. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch investigated the results and found the vote was fraudulent, winning a Pulitzer Prize for its revelation.

Starting in 1939, 37 blocks of the city's riverfront were demolished, but wartime priorities left the space unused until a design competition following World War II.

CONFUSION

The competition opened in 1947, attracting 172 entries with ideas ranging from abstract sculpture to a covered wagon. Entries came from Finnish-American architect Eero Saarinen and separately from his noted father Eliel, both living in the Detroit area.

The committee picked Eero's design of a catenary arch as the winner, but mistakenly alerted Eliel he had won. Eero and his team took home a combined $90,000 for a design that Smith called a "brilliant forecast into the future."

Still, Saarinen's design quickly came under fire, with some saying it looked too much like the arch planned for the 1942 Rome Exposition in Fascist Italy, while others described it as a giant croquet wicket.

Design critics didn't slow the plans, but a lack of funding did as the start of construction was delayed until 1963, two years after Saarinen died from a brain tumor.

Lawsuits also delayed the building of the Arch, which ended up costing about $13 million.

Construction of the constantly curving structure, the world's tallest in stainless steel, was a challenge as the bases of the two legs could not be off even as little as 1-64th of an inch or the final pieces would not fit together properly.

Underwriters had predicted more than 10 people would die during construction, but in fact, no one did.

Civil rights activists were unhappy with the limited number of minorities working on the project, given the involvement of federal funds.

On July 14, 1964, Percy Green and another man climbed 125 feet up the unfinished north leg to protest the exclusion of African Americans in the construction workforce.

Speaking about his protest at an event in September, Green said only a few token blacks were hired, but climbing the Arch was "an embarrassment to the establishment."

The Arch grounds and underground museum are now undergoing major renovations, with $380 million in public and private funding.

For the 50th anniversary, the National Park Service, which oversees the monument, plans to quietly celebrate with 1,000 free cupcakes and $1 rides to the top of the Arch, the original price.

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Note: All links and video provided by the Beachwood Added Value Affairs Desk.

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Bonus:

Special From The St. Louis Post-Dispatch

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 2:17 AM | Permalink

The Author Of Thrown Here To Tell Us What Makes Mixed Martial Arts Cage Fighting So Alluring

"Thrown Is The Only MMA Book Anyone Ever Needs To Write," Deadspin's Tim Marchman declared last year.

"Kerry Howley's Thrown is so good in large part because, so far as possible, she ignores this entire sports-industrial complex in favor of her subjects' humanity. Rankings, purses, pay-per-view orders, judging, won-loss records, sober discussions of chronic traumatic encephalopathy, marketing strategies, and the like come in here only when they're truly unavoidable, and are quickly dismissed. Howley, who spent three years in the company of two serious fighters for this book, is writing about something else entirely.

"What she's interested in is what makes people watch, and what makes them fight. As ridiculous as it seems to the uninitiated - and Howley is both too self-aware not to know how ridiculous it seems, and too self-assured to care - it's the possibility of transcendence, of a moment like the one she experienced watching the first fight she ever saw, held at a convention center in downtown Des Moines in 2010 not far from a phenomenology conference from which she was fleeing."

You'll have to click through to see what that was. And/or maybe Howley will talk about it on Thursday when she speaks at Roosevelt University (5 p.m. in Room 700 of the Gage Building, 18 South Michigan Avenue).

*

From Publishers Weekly:

"This sui generis debut threatens to remap the entire genre of nonfiction. Howley, a philosophy student disillusioned by 'academic apple-polishing,' sets out on a quest to find the closest contemporary equivalent to Schopenhauer's concept of an ecstatic experience. She finds it, unexpectedly, in the world of mixed-martial-arts (MMA) fighting

"Howley becomes a 'species of fighterly accoutrement known as a spacetaker,' ingratiating herself into the lives of two cage fighters: Sean Huffman, a smash-nosed, cauliflower-eared veteran with a legacy of losing but never getting knocked out, and Erik Koch, a young, lithe, apprentice-level beginner 'destined for the big shows.'"

*

"It is absolutely true that Howley manages to conjure the moments that make fights so thrilling," Alyssa Rosenberg writes for the Washington Post.

"And it is striking that she manages to do so in a book that is also a very funny satire of the ways in which elites - including, famously, Norman Mailer - often make a fetish of violence and the people who commit it."

*

"I suppose the first thing to say about Thrown is that it's an effective portrayal of this reality of MMA: no matter how much he's making, the fighter gets fucked," Freddie deBoer writes.

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Here's Howley speaking in Washington, D.C., last year:

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This week's reading, which is free, is presented by Roosevelt's Department of Literature and Languages, its Creative Writing Program and the University's literary magazine Oyez Review. A reception with refreshments begins at 4:30 p.m.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 1:59 AM | Permalink

October 24, 2015

The Week In Chicago Rock

You shoulda been there.

1. Sweet Spirit at the Empty Bottle on Wednesday night.


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2. Flesh Panthers at the Empty Bottle on Wednesday night.

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3. The Mad Doctors at the Empty Bottle on Wednesday night.

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4. Tricot at the Empty Bottle on Tuesday night.

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5. Meg Myers at the Metro on Thursday night.

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6. Masked Intruder at Beat Kitchen on Tuesday night.

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7. IAMX at Bottom Lounge on Tuesday night.

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8. The Ex with Ken Vandermark at Lincoln Hall on Wednesday night.

Loerzel: "The Ex sounded as strong as ever, with jagged chords colliding over strange rhythms. Why isn't this band more famous?"

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9. Tav Falco's Panther Burns feat. Mike Watt at Reggies on Thursday night.

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10. Machine Gun Kelly at the Tree in Joliet on Sunday night.

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11. New Year's Day at Bottom Lounge on Wednesday night.

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12. For Today at Bottom Lounge on Sunday night.

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13. Eyes Set To Kill at Bottom Lounge on Wednesday night.

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14. Idlewild at Bottom Lounge on Monday night.

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15. The Darkness at the House of Blues on Tuesday night.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:05 AM | Permalink

The Weekend Desk Report

Alternate universe seeps into this one.

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The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour #74: The Cubs' Confusing Conclusion
Our post-mortem on the team and the sports punditry's narrative.

Plus: It's now 2016 or bust - the honeymoon is finally over.

And: Back to the Future Was An Awful Movie And Huey Lewis Sucks; Jeremiah Ratliff's Bye-Bye Week; When It Comes To Aggrieved White Sox Fans, Cubs Fans Should Feel Fine About Gloating; Duncan Keith's Sudden Surgery; and Derrick & Joakim.

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The Week In Chicago Rock
Featuring: Sweet Spirit, Flesh Panthers, The Mad Doctors, Tricot, Masked Intruder, Meg Myers, IAMX, The Ex w/Ken Vandermark, Tav Falco's Panther Burns feat. Mike Watt, Machine Gun Kelly, New Year's Day, For Today, Eyes Set To Kill, Idlewild, and The Darkness.

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The Sound Opinions Weekend Listening Report: "With the spooky season creeping in, Jim and Greg are beginning to feel a little diabolical. In honor of Halloween, they share their favorite Songs About the Devil. Then, a more angelic sound from singer/songwriter and harpist Joanna Newsom."

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BeachBook

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Corporate sabermetrics.

Posted by The Beachwood Reporter on Friday, October 23, 2015

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TweetWood

Why is the media so consistently bad? The industry refuses to address its longstanding quality issue. If news organizations were, say, auto companies, they'd have recalled their entire fleets by now - with the exception of a single car here and there - and gone out of business.

You'd be astonished if you fact-checked a news organization's daily output. Close to 100% of the work would have at least one factual error. Framing issues are rampant. Most assumptions are false, yet built into so-called objectivity. Reporters and their bosses by and large ignore inaccuracies, falsehoods and institutional bias when pointed out; they just don't care. Biggest hypocrites on the planet.

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I always want to know the nature of someone's refusal to comment. In detail.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Baby tip line.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:13 AM | Permalink

October 23, 2015

The [Friday] Papers

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Beachwood Photo Booth: Diner
Logan Square.

The Week In Chicago Rock
In production.

Beachwood Sports Radio: The Cubs' Confusing Conclusion
It's now 2016 or bust - the honeymoon is finally over. Plus: Back to the Future Was An Awful Movie And Huey Lewis Sucks; Jeremiah Ratliff's Bye-Bye Week; When It Comes To Aggrieved White Sox Fans, Cubs Fans Should Feel Fine About Gloating; Duncan Keith's Sudden Surgery; and Derrick & Joakim.

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How To Investigate Student Debt At Your College
Five ideas.

Related:

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BeachBook

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TweetWood

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Peak Tip.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 2:50 PM | Permalink

The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour #74: The Cubs' Confusing Conclusion

It's now 2016 or bust - the honeymoon is finally over. Plus: Back to the Future Was An Awful Movie And Huey Lewis Sucks; Jeremiah Ratliff's Bye-Bye Week; When It Comes To Aggrieved White Sox Fans, Cubs Fans Should Feel Fine About Gloating; Duncan Keith's Sudden Surgery; and Derrick & Joakim.


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SHOW NOTES

* Jimbo Covert.

2:01: Fans, Media Both Wrong.

* Just everybody, chill about Schwarber.

* Sustained success should not be presumed.

* Mets' NLCS Planning, Preparation Are Paying Off.

* Mets Followed The Schwarber Trend.

* Cubs' Weakness Lets The Mets Steal A Few.

* The Coming Wave Of Cubs Pitching Prospects.

* How The Cubs Picked Schwarber In Draft Shocker.

29:40: 2016 Or Bust.

* The honeymoon is finally over.

41:20: Back to the Future Was An Awful Movie.

* Huey Lewis sucks.

* You may disagree.

* Cubs security state.

* Josie's on a vay-ka-shun far away.

* Songfacts: Your Love. From the album Play Deep by The Outfield.

* Hellfire Deathcult (No. 4).

46:09: Jeremiah Ratliff's Bye-Bye Week.

* Greg Gabriel.

54:42: When It Comes To Aggrieved White Sox Fans, Cubs Fans Should Feel Fine About Gloating.

* Kass: Sox Fans, Please, Wrigley Is A No Gloating Zone.

* Irony: White Sox Fans Let Cubs Dictate Their Happiness.

58:00: Duncan Keith's Sudden Surgery.

* Also, Patrick Kane Still Under Investigation.

1:02:54: Derrick & Joakim.

* Role model: Starlin Castro.

* Hoiball.

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Note: James Paul "Jimbo" Covert.

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STOPPAGE: 6:30

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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 12:48 PM | Permalink

Beachwood Photo Booth: Diner

Logan Square.

dinerloganexpbw.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.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Superheroic San Luis Freeze.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Evanston Oasis.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Lyndale Food & Jewelry.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Lincoln Tap.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Book Window.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Alco Dude.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Ballin Drugs.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Don't Worry, Be Cookie.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Four Trey.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: The Office.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: America From Inside The Golden Nugget In Ravenswood.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Cellphone Repair.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Boots 'N' Grill.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Sunrise Strip.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: At The Corner Of Glad And Happy.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Uptown Autumn Night.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 5:37 AM | Permalink

How To Investigate Student Debt At Your Area's Colleges

Student debt has tripled over the past decade to $1.2 trillion, with more than a quarter of former students struggling to make payments. But until a few weeks ago, there was very little public data on how well students fare at individual schools.

That changed in September after the government publicly released a massive trove of data on student debt and ProPublica published Debt by Degrees, an interactive database that allows anyone to look up over 7,000 schools and see how well low-income students do at each school.

Using our database, we've written about how some wealthy colleges leave poor students with big debts and how many Catholic universities do too.

So how can you report on student debt at your area's schools? Here are five story ideas to help jumpstart your own investigation:

1. As Tuition at Your School Goes Up, Poor Students May Be Left Behind

Colleges are not required to report data on the income distribution of their student body.

However, schools are required to report the percentage of their students that receive Pell grants - students from families that typically make less than $30,000 a year. This figure is widely accepted by researchers and academics as a proxy for determining which students are low-income.

The recently released government data provides new detail on how low-income students (Pell recipients) do compared to their wealthier peers. Using Debt by Degrees, you can look up all of the data on low-income students, which is highlighted in our database with orange text.

How to report on this:

Look up what percentage of students receive Pell Grants at your school

Some schools are better at enrolling low-income students than others. For example, only 11.3 percent of Tufts' student body receive Pell grants. Tufts' percentage is low compared to other research universities, as they are ranked 98th out of 101 schools.

  • Go talk to students and the admissions office.

    Don't stop at the data - find students who are Pell recipients and ask them about their college experience. Then talk to the admissions office. Does your school actively recruit low-income students? Is your school "need blind," meaning do they accept students regardless of their socioeconomic background? What extra resources does your school have for low-income students?

  • Report on the discount that your school gives to its poorest students.

    Schools are required to publicly report how much students actually pay on average after grants and scholarship aid. In Debt by Degrees, the figure is broken down by income group, enabling you to compare how much the poorest students pay on average to the wealthiest. We show the discount for the poorest students and using the data, you can also compute the discount for the wealthiest students. Or see how your school's discount for low-income students ranks against similar schools.

  • Compare the graduation rate of low-income students to the rest of the student body.

    For years, this data was only publicly available if requested by a prospective or current student at a school. But recently, the nonprofit Education Trust collected the graduation rates of Pell recipients at over 1,000 schools, which are now available in our interactive database.

    At Hofstra University, for example, students who receive Pell grants graduate at a much lower rate (53 percent) than the rest of the school (62.1 percent).

    At your school, are low-income students graduating at a lower or higher rate than their peers? Are there resources at your school to help low-income students navigate and graduate college?

  • Compare how much debt low-income students take on compared to the rest of the school.

    Some schools are able to better assist low-income students so that they don't have to graduate with a lot of debt. Low-income students at Vassar College, for example, graduate with $9,547 of debt, compared to the overall school average of $17,545. How much debt do low-income students graduate with at your school?

  • And then, again, interview students and graduates!

    Once you have the numbers, interview graduates of your university about their debt load. Ask them about their financial aid process, as well as their experience repaying their loans after graduation.

2. Not All State Schools Are Equal

If you attend a public university, look at how students at your school fare compared to those at other state colleges. State schools were created to be the most affordable option for local students, regardless of their economic background. However, ProPublica found that over the past two decades, public universities have gradually decreased the percentage of institutional aid given to low-income students while increasing the amount given to wealthier students. For poor students, the diminishing amount of aid has become a substantial barrier to entry.

  • Is this happening at your school or at other state colleges?
  • What kind of discounts does your school give compared to schools across the state?
  • How much debt do students at your school graduate with on average compared to the state average?
  • If your school has two different state education systems (for example, California has both the University of California and the California State University systems), how do they compare?
  • Which school system is better for low-income students?

In Debt by Degrees, we've organized the schools by state to help you make these comparisons. Simply search by state and sort the colleges by type to find all the public state schools.

How to report on this:

  • Look at which schools have the highest number of low-income students.

    Find the schools that accept the most Pell grant recipients, and those that accept the least. What does each group of schools have in common? Do urban schools have a different student body mix than rural schools?

  • How does your school's tuition compare to other state schools?

    Which state college is the most expensive? Once you have identified the schools, find out why there is a cost difference between the two schools. Call the press officers for the schools and ask them why their tuition is higher or lower than their peers'.

  • Find out which schools' graduates are struggling to pay off their loans.

    The non-repayment rate represents the percentage of student loan borrowers who are struggling to pay off their loans and haven't been able to pay even $1 off their original loan amounts. For example, in New York, 33.3 percent of student borrowers from the College of Staten Island CUNY are having trouble repaying their loans, compared with 9.3 percent of former students from SUNY College of Geneseo.

3. The Plight of College Dropouts: Debt, But No Degree

More than 40 percent of students at four-year colleges drop out before graduation. For students with loans, they are left with a pile of debt and no degree to show for it. Students who drop out of school also have more trouble finding work, earn less on average and are more likely to default on their loans.

The new government data reveals for the first time how much debt college dropouts take on. For example, Cornell graduates 93.3 percent of their students, but the students who don't graduate within six years end up with $9,496 of debt on average. At Central Texas College, a two-year community college, the figure is $4,750.

How to report on this:

  • How much debt do dropouts take on at your school?

    In Debt by Degrees, you can look up the average debt held by dropouts from your school. Even small amounts of debt can become a large burden for dropouts, who have no degree and are the most at risk for default.

  • Find students who dropped out of your university and interview them about why they didn't graduate. Does your school help struggling students?

    The most common reason students drop out is they are unable to balance work and school. Find out if your school has programs to help working students. How does your school assist students who need to take a break before finishing their education? What strategies does your school have to increase their overall graduation rate and also the rate of low-income students?

4. Graduates Can't Pay Off Their Loans

Until the most recent data release, the only available data on how well students do at repaying their loans was the "cohort default rate," or what percentage of students fail to pay back their loans. The Department of Education uses this rate to regulate schools: If a college's default rate is above 30 percent for the three most recent years, the school may lose its eligibility for federal aid.

The latest data release, however, allowed ProPublica to publish the "non-repayment rate," or what percent of students can't even pay back $1 of their original loan principal. We have data on all students, and you can look at repayment rates for just low-income students as well. Non-repayment rates are a more reliable indicator of trouble than default rates, which are susceptible to manipulation.

How to report on this:

  • How well are students able to repay their loans at your school?

    What percentage of students default on their loans within three years?Compare this with the percentage of students who are struggling to repay their loans.

  • Interview former students about their loan repayment experience.

    Did the school offer them any guidance on how to repay their loans? What are their monthly payments? Who is their loan servicer? How long do they expect it will take them to repay their loans?

  • Ask school administrators about the school's non-repayment rate.

    What are they doing to help students pay back their loans? How is your school financially preparing students for after graduation?

5. Some Alumni Don't Earn More Than High School Graduates

The government has also released data on how much alumni are earning at each school, but it's not broken down by school program, so this data can be difficult to analyze. It's not fair to compare the earnings of a tech school to a liberal arts school, for example, as their distribution of majors will differ substantially.

However, one of the figures on earnings remains valuable: "threshold earnings," or the percentage of students earning less than $25,000 a decade after entering school. This rate indicates how many students are earning the same amount or less than what they would have expected to earn with only a high school degree.

How to report on this:

  • For most schools, the percentage of students earning less than $25,000 a year will be quite low.

    However, if you are at a school where this number is very high (greater than 50 percent), this is something to focus on. How is your school ensuring that their educational program will improve students' future opportunities?

  • Perhaps your school's graduates seem to do fine, but what about the schools in your community or your city?

    Look into whether there are educational programs near you that are potentially exploiting their students. Interview students about their expectations for post-graduate earnings. Find out if the school advertised high earnings that contradict the data. Approach the school and ask why so many graduates are earning so little money.

Some Extra Tips:

  • Remember, the data is just the starting point.

    Talk to students, teachers, administrators and experts about what you're seeing in the numbers and get as much context as possible for your readers.

  • When comparing your school to other schools, make sure you're making apples-to-apples comparisons.

    If your school is a two-year public community college, don't compare your school to a four-year private research university. In Debt by Degrees, we always separate these schools so you are only comparing schools in the same category.

  • For the poorest of students, even a small amount of debt can be a large burden.

    Even small debts can severely limit the post-graduation opportunities of students, particularly those without a financial safety net. Think about debt numbers as a percentage of a low family income, such as $25,000. Leaving school with $25,000 in loans is 100 percent of how much that student's entire family earns over an entire year.

  • The government data on student debt and earnings only accounts for students receiving federal aid.

    If students do not receive federal grants or loans, they are not included in these figures.

  • Similarly, the newly released government data only tells the story of federal loans.

    For some students, federal student aid (which includes student loans, parent loans, grants, and work study programs) is not enough to pay for the full cost of going to college. Some rely on outside sources to help pay the bills, such as turning to parents to take out loans, or taking on private bank loans themselves. But these figures are quite low: about 4.5 percent of parents take on federal loans and only 6 percent of students take out private loans.

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Previously:
* New Data Reveals Stark Gaps In Graduation Rates Between Poor And Wealthy Students.

* As Pope Pushes To Help The Poor, Catholic Universities Leave Them Behind.

* Colleges Let Taxpayers Help Poor Students While They Go After Rich.

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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 1:50 AM | Permalink

October 22, 2015

The [Thursday] Papers

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Hey, CTA, Call Me Sometime When You Have No World Class
"Counting on help from the state, the CTA is proposing a $1.47 billion operating budget for 2016 that maintains fare prices for the third straight year, pays for two new rush-hour express bus routes and projects a paper-thin growth in ridership," the Tribune reports.

"But the fiscal blueprint, which CTA officials said would help keep Chicago on the path toward creating a world-class transit system, hinges in large measure on the state. The governor and lawmakers in Springfield have not agreed on a 2016 budget and the state still owes the CTA $221 million in capital-improvement funding that was expected in 2015, transit officials said."

Emphasis mine because why in 2015 is America's third-largest city and a noted transportation hub merely (and supposedly) on a path to creating a world-class transit system instead of already there? Also, CTA officials are admitting that we don't have a world-class transit system.

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Where the CTA is going, they don't need no roads.

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"In addition, the CTA 2016 spending plan assumes the Rauner administration will roll back a recent 50 percent cut in transit subsidies that help make up some of the cost of providing free and reduced-fare rides to disabled and low-income commuters."

Which the Rauner administration is totally willing to do in exchange for tort reform.

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"Despite all the potential financial roadblocks, CTA president Dorval Carter Jr. on Wednesday characterized the agency's 2016 spending plan as 'a realistic budget, realizing there are some unknowns here that we cannot control.'"

Like the budget part.

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"In the new budget year, the CTA projects state and federal funds totaling $2.3 billion for capital improvements ranging from constructing new stations and other facilities, modernizing aging infrastructure and buying new trains and buses in fiscal 2016 through 2020. The plans are based on Congress finally passing a multiyear transportation spending bill to replace legislation that expired in 2014 and has been temporarily extended."

Huh. I wonder how that's going.

"The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee is scheduled to markup a bipartisan bill to spend up to $325 billion on transportation projects over the next six years on Thursday, as Congress scrambles to prevent an interruption in the nation's infrastructure spending at the end of the month," the Hill reports.

"The measure would spend $261 billion on highways, $55 billion on transit and approximately $9 billion on safety programs, but only if Congress can come up with a way to pay for the final three years."

Reading the news reports, that's a big "only if."

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I will say this: You can't say Dorval Carter doesn't have - at least on paper - the experience for the job.

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TrackNotes: Keeneland > Wrigley
"The hallowed Keeneland racecourse in Lexington, Kentucky [is] a venue that will out-mecca Wrigley any day, especially now that the Ricketts' have their mitts on the 'ballpark,'" writes our man on the rail Tom Chambers.

Fantasy Fix: Best Defenses
"Eight team defenses scored TDs in Week 6," our man in fantasyland Dan O'Shea notes. "Also, eight defenses - seven of which were among the TD scorers - finished the week with more than 10 fantasy points."

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BeachBook

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Where no roads go.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:34 AM | Permalink

TrackNotes: Keeneland > Wrigley

You can tell a horse you love him, but you can't make him win.

Cubs trainer Joe Maddon is learning the hard way, perhaps because unlike the Thoroughbred, he has a stable of human sponges who understand English and are eager to absorb all the psychocandy he can Ferrara pan. Only now are the Lemonheads, sour, but a great part of the product lineup, coming off the line.

Marty, Steve and Coach do a great job of covering all of the 'Ville hijinks, so I'll leave it at that. Except to say that when I saw Tuesday night that they were not even using one of Bill Veeck's many masterpieces - as fine a piece of sculpture as this city possesses - and adding in the game itself, I self-diagnosed that I don't really dig the Cubs' schtick anymore, haven't for a while and may never again. It's just too much and I can't take it anymore.

All the while, in a largely quiet midsection of October in my corner of the sporting world, like the breathless anticipation of a heavyweight championship fight, the tension has been building. The game, the one at the track, doesn't wait every 12 years to give you something memorable. And it doesn't forget how to in the spaces between the great races.

So while admittedly dancing the big Cubbie feign, I've also tried to spread the gospel, to no avail, that the 2015 Breeders' Cup Championships, October 30 - 31, could be one of the greatest Thoroughbred racing festivals we've seen in a long, long time.

The Classic alone will be the destination entree, but all of the races make the two-day plot taste even better, like Emily's Thanksgiving sausage stuffing.

Part of the fun is that, rather than risking disappointment by loving just one horse, you get to see a bunch of great ones unfold their drama before your very eyes. Love them all and pick the winner, I say.

It's great racing in and of itself, but it should also be a real tree topper of a weekend in what has been a sugar plum season that blessed us with the epic journey of American Pharoah in his triumphant quest for America's Triple Crown.

He'll be joined by 199 others at the hallowed Keeneland racecourse in Lexington, Kentucky, a venue that will out-mecca Wrigley any day, especially now that the Ricketts' have their mitts on the "ballpark." Keeneland tops the pound-for-pound list year in and year out for its quality of racing, and the Breeders' Cup is a just reward.

While Keeneland itself has existed since 1936, they've been racing in Lexington since before Washington was president. It's also home to one of the most prestigious horse auction programs in the world.

Built on farmland once owned by Jack Keene, Keeneland has been a study in technological contrasts throughout its history.

"1961 saw the first Visumatic Timer in America: a system that posted fractions and final times on the tote board; and 1979 saw Keeneland become only the fourth race track in the country to use an electronic totalisator system that allowed patrons to buy and cash tickets from any window in the facility," BetAmerica notes.

Still without lights, Keeneland did not have a public address on-track race caller until 1997!

But it was one of the first tracks to use GPS-based Trakus technology to track every horse throughout the race in real time and display their blanket numbers on the screen. It was the first track I ever saw that transmitted its simulcast television signal in high-definition. It also introduced the 10-cent superfecta wager.

I've only seen the place on television, but it sure looks untouched, the bulk of the advertising being canvas banners stretched under the rail at the finish line. You'll remember Keeneland helped to capture the magic of Seabiscuit as his film biography used the track extensively. Anything for the cause and Belmont not available, Keeneland opened its track for Disney's Secretariat, as the film's director laughingly tried to duplicate the long Belmont stretch in its botched climactic scene. "HEY, that's Keeneland!" I said at the gargantuaplex at the time.

Keeneland is the place that introduced - and marketed - PolyTrack to America, perhaps in a senior moment that promised better living through chemicals. It installed the stuff in 2006.

But it saw the error of its ways, had the audacity to admit its mistake and reinstated the dirt track in 2014. Sure, it had to, what with its prestigious Blue Grass Stakes and other great stakes races losing relevancy because of horses' confusion over the surfaces. But it did and is now poised to host one of the greatest Breeders' Cups since its inception in 1984, which itself was kicked off by one of the classic Classics at the late great Hollywood Park.

We'll go into more horse and race detail next week.

But if the entries hold, we'll see American Pharoah take on a group of horses who look to be in form, and are winning.

The magnificent mare Beholder, on a sustained 2015 romp, looks to fearlessly take on the boys. You'll have Frosted, an ultimate heart horse coming in off a Pennsylvania Derby win. Whitney champ and tested veteran Honor Code figures in. Keen Ice, 2015's Sham, comes in against his Secretariat, American Pharoah, after beating 'Pharaoh in an epic edition of the Travers Stakes. The ultra-quality Tonalist, 2014's Belmont Stakes winner, looks to be peaking, coming in after an impressive win in the Jockey Club Gold Cup. And the pot o' gold could definitely find contender Wicked Strong.

Coming in after crushing the Woodward, we greedily wanted Liam's Map for the Classic, but indications are that he'll be going in the Dirt Mile. After a redeeming win in the Ack Ack, can Tapiture keep it going in that same Mile?

Calamity Kate graduates from the lounge to the main room in the Distaff (the ladies' Classic equivalent), but has the chops to wow 'em. She'll have to contend with the big three of I'm a Chatterbox, Stopchargingmaria and Untapable.

Unless the lawn is soft, Hard Not to Like will be hard not to like in the Filly and Mare Turf, where Stephanie's Kitten may also be playing her swan song.

Judy the Beauty, clearly full of run and the best horse in the race, is a woman scorned after landing in rail jail in the Grade II TCA October 3rd at this same Keeneland. She finished a tough second last year in this same Filly and Mare Sprint to the great Groupie Doll.

Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe (Fr-I) winner Golden Horn crosses over to grace us with his presence in the Breeders' Cup Turf. Big Blue Kitten in the 12-furlong Turf, after a tough beat in the Arlington Million and a win next out in the Turf Classic Invitational, can run on any kind of grass, so watch out, Frenchy.

Am I looking forward to it? AccuWeather extended is saying it should be a good weekend. I checked, so yeah.

Sadly, this will be American Pharoah's last race. Afterwards, we'll wax melancholy over what he might have become, knowing he's only a horse made of his abbreviating times. I don't know much, but I don't understand how they will, or can, tell him he's not going to run anymore.

A win in this race won't assuage the sadness of no four-year-old campaign for the Triple Crown champion but dammit, Secretariat didn't have one either. But if Pharoah wins this Classic . . . as fans we can't lose.

Man, I cannot WAIT for this race!

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

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:12 AM | Permalink

Fantasy Fix: Best Defenses

Eight team defenses scored TDs in Week 6. Also, eight defenses - seven of which were among the TD scorers - finished the week with more than 10 fantasy points.

Both figures sounded like a lot to me, but I went back and checked the previous five weeks this season, and was surprised to find that seven different defenses scored TDs in Week 1 and Week 5. Week 6 was the busiest so far this year for defenders or special teams players finding the end zone, but not by much.

Team defenses rank ahead of kickers in terms of draft priorities, but that doesn't say much. Some fantasy team owners are happy owning one and streaming the best available defense for their bye weeks, or even for multiple weeks if they see a defense with a better match-up than the one they own. Other owners take defense for granted, settling for drafting whichever defense is available that has the lowest points-against from the previous year, and sticking with it for the season.

But, like every other active fantasy team position, defense offers an opportunity to score points, whether it's by sack, INT, fumble recovery, block or TD. Look at the top teams in your league, and I'm betting a common component is that they have opportunistic defenses, or at least that the team owners are opportunistic about seeking defenses on the waiver wire that score - as opposed to just keeping opponents' scores low.

If you know what to look for, a good defense can be almost as valuable a fantasy scorer as a good offensive position player.

Week 6 Winners

QB: Matthew Stafford, DET.

Playing the Bears this year made a winner out of a QB that struggled the first five weeks of the season. His 405 yards and five TDs seemed like a flashback to when Stafford was a top five fantasy QB, but it's tough to get too excited about his big week - and by the time he plays the Bears again in January, the fantasy slate will be finished.

RB: Chris Ivory, NYJ.

After 166 yards rushing in Week 5, he came within four yards of having his second straight 150-yard game. He has never had a 1,000 yard rushing season, but at 27 he's starting to play himself into the top 10 fantasy RB discussion.

WR: Alshon Jeffery, CHI.

I was among those who didn't think he would do much last week after missing so much time. He was a game-time decision yet again, which doesn't give much confidence, but in a shootout he reeled in eight balls for 147 yards and a TD. Unless injury rears its head again, he's back to being the No. 1 WR on a team that has to throw.

TE: Benjamin Watson, NO.

He was really a fantasy non-factor coming into last week, but caught a whopping 10 passes for 127 yards and a TD. Hard to see this happening again, but perhaps Drew Brees has returned to targeting his TEs more frequently even though Jimmy Graham is gone.

Week 6 Losers

QB: Eli Manning, NYG.

Manning the Younger has been a pretty safe play this season, minimizing INTs and getting a couple TD passes in almost every game, but that ended in Week 6, with 189 yards passing, one TD and two INTs - a sorry output made worse by the fact that so many experts called Manning a must-start Monday night against the Eagles defense.

RB: Eddie Lacy, GB.

Yes, he has landed as the loser RB for the second week in a row - that's how bad he's been. He had a meager four carries for three yards, getting his only fantasy points on two catches for 17 yards. It appeared that backup James Starks took over the starting role. Lacy was supposed to have finally been healthy after injury problems, but it sure didn't seem that way.

WR: Randall Cobb, GB.

Another Packer who seems to be barely treading water. Three catches and 38 yards in Week 6 on just five targets suggested QB Aaron Rodgers is looking elsewhere. Cobb finally seemed to have the No. 1 WR job all to himself in GB, but hasn't had more than 50 yards receiving or a TD since Week 3.

TE: Vernon Davis, SF.

The 49ers had a good game offensively, but Davis only saw one target and had no catches. He had been injured and mostly a non-factor this year to begin with, and hardly seems like the starter anymore, with fellow TE Garret Celek seeing an increasing number of snaps.

Expert Wire
* SI.com sees Carson Palmer, QB, ARI, as the top fantasy QB play for Week 7 against BAL, a week after he threw for 421 yards and a TD, but also two INTs, in a losing cause. Palmer has great WRs to work with, though he has been a little inconsistent thus year, with a couple games under 200 yards passing.

* CBS Sports is eyeing Todd Gurley, RB, STL, as its start of the week as he looks for his first career TD against a Cleveland defense that hasn't been able to stop anyone. Gurley has rushed for 146 yards and 159 yards in his first two starts, so put two and two together on this one.

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

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:11 AM | Permalink

October 21, 2015

The [Wednesday] Papers

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Hey, here's my latest Op-Ed for Crain's - please read, comment and share.

Steve Rhodes' latest Op-Ed for Crain's.

Posted by The Beachwood Reporter on Tuesday, October 20, 2015

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Budget Bummers
"Mayor Rahm Emanuel wants to raise fines against businesses that don't shovel sidewalks as part of his 2016 budget," the Tribune reports.

"The proposal, part of the annual city management ordinance, would hike the potential fine from $50 to $500. Emanuel also wants to increase fines for anyone piling snow in a fashion that blocks the public way - including bike lanes and racks, bus stops or building entrances - from a minimum of $25 and a maximum of $100 to a minimum of $50 and a maximum of $500."

As much as I like a shoveled sidewalk, this is obviously about raising revenue from every nook and cranny of the city imaginable. Given that, wouldn't it be more efficient to simply enact a Our Budget Is Fucked Tax and just send everyone a bill to cover the tab?

To wit:

"Such penalties are rarely enforced, however. The city issued just 226 tickets for snow removal issues during the winter of 2014-15, according to the Department of Transportation."

By my math, that means the city stands to collect $113,000 from snow removal tickets this year compared to $11,300 last year. Of course, the city can step up enforcement - but that comes with its own costs, doesn't it? The real result is creating even more anger out there that the city is nickel-and-diming everybody to death.

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From the Sun-Times:

"You're tightening the time-line for the removal. You're making it harder . . . If there's a foot of snow, they should have more time to clean it . . . I don't want the city running around writing tickets," said Ald. Leslie Hairston (5th)

Demanding that the harsher snow removal penalties be made clearer, Hairston added, "We know how people get dinged with the boots. We know how they get dinged with not parking 13 inches from the curb. As long as we're doing it, we may as well do it correctly and allow people to know what to expect."

Holt said property owners will still get an "opportunity to dig out" from major snowstorms.

"What we're talking about here is really intending to address the people who don't ever shovel their sidewalks. Particularly those businesses and those large apartment buildings that don't make an effort to keep the right of way clear and make passage for pedestrians," Holt said.

Transportation Commissioner Rebekah Scheinfeld added, "We take into consideration the practical realities of the weather. And our first step is always to issue warnings."

If it's really about clean sidewalks, maybe the city should offer to provide snow removal services to repeat offenders for a fee. Turn it into a real profit center and be heroes at the same time.

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I know this is just about the least important budget issue to kvetch about. I really don't know why it's sticking in my craw.

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Back to the Tribune:

"Emanuel also introduced language to tie fees for heavy truck permits to the consumer price index, so they would increase or decrease each year depending on the rate of inflation."

For God's sake, why?

"Currently, the cost for an overweight truck permit is $50 to $150 for a single trip or $500 to $2,250 monthly, according to city records."

I don't like this, either. It just sounds fishy.

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Back To The Future
A dumb, stupid, horrible movie predictably embraced by America.

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BeachBook

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TweetWood
A sampling.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Kvetch.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:41 AM | Permalink

October 20, 2015

The [Tuesday] Papers

"O'Hare International Airport's voluntary 'fly quiet' program is routinely ignored in the early morning, the city said Monday, conceding what sleep-deprived residents near the airport have been complaining about for years," the Tribune reports.

You know what else was routinely ignored, then? The complaints of residents for years!

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"Between 10 p.m. and 7 a.m. every day, only one runway is supposed to be used for arriving flights at O'Hare, and pilots are asked by FAA air traffic controllers to follow designated fly-quiet tracks over less-populated areas.

"But the airlines have increased the number of overnight red-eye flights from the West Coast and Hawaii that start arriving at O'Hare as early as 5:30 a.m., an aviation consultant for the city told the Fly Quiet Committee of the O'Hare Noise Compatibility Commission. Planes flying shorter routes from the east also have increased, he said."

1. Why is the program voluntary? It might as well not exist, then.

2. Pilots and the airlines they work for don't just decide on their own to violate even voluntary rules of one of the world's busiest airports. At best, they have tacit permission from City Hall. The city's current aviation commissioner is Ginger Evans, but for most of the time in question, it was Rosemarie Andolino.

Also, a riddle: How many aviation council members does it take to not provide oversight on one of the world's biggest airports? 18.

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"As a result, one runway, which can safely accommodate about 40 landings per hour, is not enough, said Douglas Goldberg of Landrum & Brown, the city's longtime airport-planning consultant."

Thanks, Doug, but let me tell you something about Landrum & Brown. From part three of the Tribune's 2000 Pulitzer Prize-winning "Gateway to Gridlock:"

Landrum & Brown, the city's longtime aviation planning consultant, provides a case study in how politics and contracts mingle at O'Hare.

The Cincinnati-based firm, which is now paid $12 million a year and has played a crucial role in the city's efforts to block Peotone, operated on the same no-bid city contract from 1968 to 1995, when it got another no-bid deal.

Besides donating to the mayor's campaign and charities overseen by Daley's wife, the firm hired Oscar D'Angelo as its political adviser shortly after Daley took office. It also has handed subcontracts to companies owned by Daley allies. Former campaign manager Carolyn Grisko helps with public relations, Democratic fundraiser Niranjah Shah does engineering work, and Chicago Housing Authority Chairwoman Sharon Gist Gilliam is a computer consultant.

Oh, but that's not all:

In 1990, Daley dropped a bombshell, announcing plans for a $5 billion new airport at Lake Calumet on the city's Southeast Side.

The mayor argued that the new airport would take pressure off O'Hare and appease the northwest suburbs that were opposed to O'Hare expansion. He proposed to pay for the airport with a new $3 passenger ticket tax that Chicago Democrats pushed through Congress.

But the Lake Calumet proposal immediately hit turbulence because of concerns over its spiraling costs and resistance from South Siders who didn't want Midway shuttered. The airport plan fell apart after Republicans helped kill it in the state Senate in summer 1992, and Daley abandoned the idea.

By focusing attention on Lake Calumet, the city "succeeded again in preventing [the state] from making any meaningful progress towards developing a new airport in a suburban location," Landrum & Brown President Jeff Thomas wrote in a memo to city officials.

"Thus the city has conducted a protracted but successful guerrilla war against the state forces that would usurp control of the city's airports."

It also left Daley with a huge new pot of money, the passenger ticket tax, which has funneled more than $600 million into the city's coffers since it was passed by Congress in 1990. The city has spent the money on runway resurfacing, terminal upgrades and consultants' fees, but not on new runways or a new airport.

And consultants' fees!

After all, they have tuition to pay and casinos to visit too.

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But here's the real kicker:

Forecasts by City Hall's own aviation consultants have repeatedly indicated since 1980 that O'Hare is running out of room. But this became a problem when Peotone emerged as the leading option.

City officials have used a grab bag of tricks to fix the problem. They have changed the formula for devising forecasts and tossed aside forecasts that didn't match their arguments.

And they have insisted that O'Hare can handle more flights because of anticipated improvements in air traffic control that haven't yet materialized, records show.

For example, a 1993 forecast by Landrum & Brown showed that O'Hare would be out of capacity in two years.

"If this is the case, then why build anything at all except a new airport?" wrote Doug Trezise, another city consultant, in a 1993 memo to Chicago aviation officials.

The solution was simple: Change the formula.

The original calculation was based on how many passengers would use O'Hare if enough runways were built to meet the demand. City officials asked Landrum & Brown to base the new forecast on how many passengers would use O'Hare given its existing capacity.

The resulting numbers were much more palatable.

The numbers game continued two years later. Landrum & Brown came out with new forecasts that were uncomfortably close to predictions that state officials were using to tout the need for Peotone. But this presented a problem for the city.

"Clearly, the similarities between the L&B numbers and those developed by the [state's consultants] will make it more difficult for the city to debate the third-airport issue on the basis of demand forecasts," consultant Ramon Ricondo wrote in a 1995 letter to a top aviation official.

The Daley administration didn't change its position. It simply chose not to release the 1995 forecasts, the Tribune learned from court records.

Then, in 1998, the Daley administration pulled its best statistical stunt yet, again with the help of Landrum & Brown.

The consultants finally delivered a forecast that the city could not only live with but trumpet. The new figures were 25 percent lower than the previous prediction.

The forecasting change was made possible, in part, by careful manipulation of the numbers. Landrum & Brown plugged a population forecast into its formula that was lower than many other population estimates.

The lower number--which called for the Chicago area's population to grow at about half the rate of previous years--had the effect of dampening the aviation forecast.

Where Landrum & Brown had forecast 61 million passengers for the year 2015 in its 1995 study, it now predicted only 46 million passengers in its revised forecast. (Last year, about 36.3 million passengers boarded planes at O'Hare.)

"A realistic forecast proves a new rural airport is not necessary for the region," Landrum & Brown concluded in a summary of its findings.

Though it's too soon to say if Landrum & Brown's prediction is off the mark, one thing is certain: The population number it used was far too low. Already, the population in the Chicago region has exceeded the forecast for 2007 that Landrum & Brown used for its study, according to estimates by the U.S. Census Bureau.

"What L&B did was just go looking for low numbers," said Suhail al Chalabi, a state aviation consultant. "Nobody has used numbers this low before."

Officials at Landrum & Brown declined to comment.

More than a month after the series ran, the Tribune published a letter from Landrum & Brown president Jeffrey Thomas charging that the paper had gotten its facts wrong, though no correction was forthcoming, leaving readers in the dark. My policy would be that Landrum & Brown had their chance to answer reporters' questions and refused, so too bad; I would not reward such a refusal by publishing their unvetted press release.

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Landrum & Brown's core values: "We remain true to our values of quality, honesty, and hard work. We have the highest ethical standards in the industry. We 'do the right thing.' L&B is a company based on trust."

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Yes, Landrum & Brown seems to be one of the "good guys" in today's story. That just says to me that there is another motive at work emanating from City Hall.

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Back to today's Trib:

"How long more than one runway has been used in the early morning could not immediately be determined, according to officials from the Chicago Department of Aviation and the Federal Aviation Administration."

How hard could it be to determine this? Not only would there be plenty of data in the computer banks, but you could just go interview air traffic controllers, who are the type of people who remember every damn flight they've called forever.

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(One of my all-time favorite stories was "Into Thick Air," when I hung out with air traffic controllers on the job.)

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From one of my all-time favorite magazine stories, by Darcy Frey, in the New York Times (and the inspiration for Pushing Tin):

At Dunkin' Donuts, Zack's booming voice and machine-gun laugh turn the heads of several patrons, as does his order for 12 coffees, each with different milk and sugar requirements. "If I don't come back with 12 coffees, the guys look down on me," Zack explains.

These guys know.

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Back to today's Trib:

"Noise complaints have soared to record numbers since a new O'Hare runway opened in 2013. Another new runway - the fifth in a six-parallel-runway plan - opened last week."

New runways don't mitigate noise or delays if the number of flights using them increases accordingly; it just makes things worse.

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"Catherine Dunlap, who chairs the O'Hare Noise Compatibility Commission's technical committee, expressed frustration over how long it's taking the city to develop a comprehensive plan addressing O'Hare noise.

"I just want to make sure the public knows we are talking about the same things that we talked about before" in July, Dunlap told the other members of the Fly Quiet Committee.

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Friggin' related:

"Federal officials released incorrect and incomplete information about how new O'Hare International Airport flight paths would affect residents during a legally required period of public comment, the Chicago Sun-Times has found," the paper reports.

"Nearly three-quarters of the figures in one key table - on the now-contentious issue of what percentage of traffic each runway will carry - were quietly changed online months after public hearings ended, the Sun-Times discovered."

Lesson: If the FAA, City Hall or some consultant tells you that's not a plane you see in the sky, check it out.

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Cubs Curse Decoded!

Illuminati Matrix.

Posted by The Beachwood Reporter on Tuesday, October 20, 2015

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TweetWood
A sampling.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Push tin.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:38 AM | Permalink

October 19, 2015

The [Monday] Papers

"Chicago police 'physically and psychologically abused' three wrongfully imprisoned black men at Homan Square, according to a new lawsuit, which details an officer holding a knife to one man's throat as two others underwent strip searches and all were short-shackled without access to food, water, bathrooms, families or legal counsel," Zach Stafford reports for the Guardian.

"The federal civil rights lawsuit, filed on Monday against six officers and the city of Chicago, alleges the use of 'unconstitutionally coercive and torturous tactics' and connects the practices at Homan Square to a pattern of racially motivated policing."

The Chicago media denies the charges.

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"A Chicago police spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment, but the department has referred other outlets responding to the Guardian's reporting on Homan Square to a 'fact sheet' which claims: 'The allegation that physical violence is a part of interviews with suspects is unequivocally false, it is offensive, and it is not supported by any facts whatsoever.'

"Patrick, recalling a naked cavity probe while his mother and girlfriend frantically looked for him, told the Guardian a different story: 'I never want to go through it again,' said the 25-year-old, who was acquitted along with the two other men in January after they spent 15 months in jail."

The CPD's fact sheet declined to comment.

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"Homan Square . . . is not a police district station nor a jail, and does not generate public booking records during interrogation and detention, according to a recent deposition."

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"The new case [two other lawsuits have already been filed] began hours after the Guardian published an analysis of 7,185 arrest records it compelled the city to reveal in court, finding 5,906 were of black people taken to Homan Square over nearly 11 years - 82% of all arrests, compared with 33% of the city's population - and only 68 were allowed lawyer visits."

From that analysis:

"Guardian lawsuit exposes fullest scale yet of detentions at off-the-books interrogation warehouse, while attorneys describe find-your-client chase across Chicago as 'something from a Bond movie' . . .

"The narcotics, vice and anti-gang units operating out of Homan Square, on Chicago's west side, take arrestees to the nondescript warehouse from all over the city: police data obtained by the Guardian and mapped against the city grid show that 53% of disclosed arrestees come from more than 2.5 miles away from the warehouse. No contemporaneous public record of someone's presence at Homan Square is known to exist.

"Nor are any booking records generated at Homan Square, as confirmed by a sworn deposition of a police researcher in late September, further preventing relatives or attorneys from finding someone taken there.

"The reality is, no one knows where that person is at Homan Square," said Craig Futterman, a professor at the University of Chicago Law School who studies policing. "They're disappeared at that point."

The Chicago media refused to comment.

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"Twenty-two people have told the Guardian that Chicago police kept them at Homan Square for hours and even days."

The Guardian has now done about two dozen articles about Homan, which is about two dozen more than any outlet in Chicago, unless you count CPD stenography.

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Over/Under on the number of mainstream Chicago journalists who have read even half of the Guardian's work: 2.

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"Chicago attorneys say they are not routinely turned away from police precinct houses, as they are at Homan Square. The warehouse is also unique in not generating public records of someone's detention there, permitting police to effectively hide detainees from their attorneys.

"Try finding a phone number for Homan to see if anyone's there. You can't, ever," said Gaeger. "If you're laboring under the assumption that your client's at Homan, there really isn't much you can do as a lawyer. You're shut out. It's guarded like a military installation."

"The difficulty lawyers have in finding phone numbers for Homan Square mirrors the difficulties that arrestees at the warehouse have in making phone calls to the outside world. Futterman called the lack of phone access at Homan Square a critical problem.

"They're not given access to phones, and the CPD's admitted this, until they get to lockup - but there's no lockup at Homan Square," he said. "How do you contact a lawyer? It's not telepathy.

"Often," Futterman continued, "prisoners aren't entered into the central booking system until they're being processed - which doesn't occur at Homan Square. They're supposed to begin that processing right away, under CPD procedures, and at Homan Square the reality is, that isn't happening or is happening sporadically and inconsistently, which leads to the whole find-your-client game."

But then, whack-a-mole is the CPD's whole point.

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Previously in Homan Square:

* The Beachwood Radio Hour #46: Explaining Homan Square.

* The [Homan Square] Papers.

* John Conroy On Homan Square And The Problem With Chicago Media.

* The Beachwood Radio Hour #47: What Chicagoans Aren't Being Told.

* Welcome To The Homandrome, Tom Durkin!

* The Beachwood Radio Hour #48: Carol Marin's Blinders And The Homan Blackout.

* Homan Squared.

* Amnesty International Calls For Federal Investigation Of Homan Square.

* The Beachwood Radio Hour #49: Developing Homan Square.

* Chicago Newsroom: Homan Square.

* Black Hole Homan.

* The Beachwood Radio Hour #60: Behind The 'Disappeared' Of Homan Square & The Guardian's Homan Square Story Was Huge On The Internet - But Not In Chicago Media.

* The Beachwood Radio Hour #63: My Journey Through America's Dumbest Newsrooms - Including WBEZ's Homan Malpractice & Homan Square In Real-Time.

* Bonus tweet:

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The Cub Factor: Where's Your Plan Now?!
Daniel Murphy vs. Christopher Coghlan, c'mon!

F The Goat
This club's been like a ship on the ocean; the Titanic with a fanbase full of hope and devotion.

Former Chicago TV Reporter Has Mets Mania!
Jennifer McLogan reporting from America's last shopping mall.

I Am A Retail Warrior
Throw The Birthday Dog A Bone!

SportsMonday: The Bears' 10-Second Saga
Coffman says it's not a legitimate beef.

The Weekend In Chicago Rock
Featuring: Soddy Daisy, Clearance, Mr. and Mrs., Wolf PAC, Spike and the Sweet Spots, The Trolls, Kylesa, Mutemath, Dan Wilson, Replicant, The Frozen Autumn, Yip Deceiver, Owl City, Gardener, Garbage, Poi Dog Pondering, Ronnie Baker Brooks, and Rachel Yamagata.

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BeachBook

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Badger Guns in West Milwaukee.

Posted by The Beachwood Reporter on Sunday, October 18, 2015

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The mayor's "signature" French Toast isn't any better than anyone else's; stop with the mythmaking about public figures, please.

Posted by The Beachwood Reporter on Saturday, October 17, 2015

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Wow. "At least Blagojevich was off doing his crazy things and state government kind of continued to move along. I don't think state government's moving along right now."

Posted by The Beachwood Reporter on Saturday, October 17, 2015

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If only he was around for Meigs Field; hard to believe Rahm let him have this victory.

Posted by The Beachwood Reporter on Saturday, October 17, 2015

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TweetWood
A sampling.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Pimps and ho's.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:23 PM | Permalink

Where's Your Plan Now?!

Ugh. Why does this always feel the same way in the playoffs? Oh that's right, because it kinda always is the same way.

In the days leading up to this weekend the front office of the Cubs was front and center talking to anyone who would listen and gloating in the success of The Plan. But how does everyone feel now? We rode our ace for close to 90-some more innings over any season he's pitched in the past going into the game on Sunday. Was that part of The Plan? Fatigue might happen, right? Was there a plan for that?

It just sure would be nice if the Cubs would have went out and got a Johnny Cueto or a Cole Hamels or a David Price for this moment right now - you know, like other playoff teams did. Even the Mets ditched some assets and shored up their team at the trade deadline with track-record performance-tested bullpen help and a real bat (with a real arm). And it's kind of working out for them.

But I guess the price was too steep for the Cubs to pay. Come next season the Cubs will have that extra big arm and I would wager Jake Arrieta will have less innings on his arm. Because that will be part of The Plan. But as bright a future there seems to be, I have that same feeling in the pit of my stomach as I do every time the Cubs get into the playoffs. I probably should of planned on it.

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Week In Review: The Cubs dispatched the Cardinals in the NLDS and are sitting down 0-2 to the Mets in the NLCS after losing both games their "top" starters have started. Blah.

The Week In Preview: If a mediocre second baseman for the opposition (Murphy was a 1.4 WAR player this season - Chris Coghlan was a 1.9 War player! ) can look like the second coming of Barry Bonds in his prime, why can't a couple Cubs step up and do the same? I mean, geez, guys. So the Cubs come home and need to win like no other Cub team has won in the lifetime of anyone readying this. So, no prob . . .

The Second Basemen Report: Starlin Castro is the man, even if he doesn't always #Respect90. He's having better at-bats than almost anyyone who isn't named Dexter. I am still a bit dumbfounded.

In former Cubs second basemen news, former Cubs second baseman Addison Russell is out for the series with a hammy, and he is missed.

Mad(don) Scientist: Small sample sizes in the playoffs make even good managers seem like they aren't really doing much. But he's doing what he can. I mean, he played the Rocky theme after the loss last night. That's something.

Wishing Upon A Starlin: Even just respecting 45 might have changed Game 1.

Kubs Kalendar: The first 10,000 fans through the gates on Tuesday get the Jorge Soler winter emergency pack, which you can also use on your next trip to the North Pole.

Ameritrade Stock Pick Of The Week: BATS plunged while HOODIES soared. Buy and sell accordingly.

Over/Under: Games left in the season: +/- 2.5.

Beachwood Sabermetrics: A complex algorithm performed by The Cub Factor staff using all historical data made available by Major League Baseball has determined that it's harder to swing a bat in a hoodie.

Touch 'Em All: The Cub Factor archives.

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

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:57 AM | Permalink

SportsMonday: The Bears' 10-Second Saga

A dumpster fire of a game like that ends and the main thing people are bitching about is the coach should have refused the 10-second runoff? Really? I'll let you in on a little secret: that wasn't even in the top five grievances after this brutal 37-34 loss to the lousy Lions in Detroit. In fact, I'm going to argue it isn't even a legitimate beef.

Question the Bears ultra-conservative play-calling in overtime, even after they had piled up 34 points in regulation and should have been able to move the ball down the field with no problem with a few imaginative passes.

Wonder what the heck was going on with the Bears' defense when Calvin Johnson and Golden Tate had opportunity after opportunity to make big plays in single coverage in crunch time.

Ponder the worst of the worst: Lions coach Jim Caldwell did his damnedest to give the Bears the game with under three minutes remaining in regulation and the visitors still managed to gag it away. He had his team kick a ridiculous field goal on fourth down at the Bears' 13-yard-line. Of course the Lions should have gone for it instead. Either they would have scored the tying touchdown or they would have had the Bears pinned back in their territory with three timeouts and the two-minute warning left to force them to punt it back with plenty of time on the clock.

But they kick a field goal that didn't even pull them into position to tie it with another field goal and the Bears get the ball with the chance to at least (at least!) wind down the clock and pin the Lions' offense back deep in their own territory with no way to stop the clock other than incompletions or going out of bounds.

And then on first down, the Bears run a nice play up the middle. Matt Forte gets five yards and the visitors are in great position to get the one first down they need to make it absolute desperation time for the Lions, who burn their first timeout. The obvious call is something only slightly clever; a play-action pass gives Jay Cutler a chance for a nice, conservative completion somewhere in the middle of the field to just about put this game away with a first down that forces the calling of the Lions' second timeout. Even if the Bears then run three plays up the gut from there, the Lions can stop the clock with their last timeout and the two-minute warning but then it starts running and they can't stop it.

Yes there is a chance of an incomplete pass, but that doesn't really matter. If the Bears are really going to finish off this game (run through at least a substantial portion of the last two minutes on the clock), they need to run more than two more offensive plays.

Instead they call an obvious run up the middle and fail on second down and do the same on third. The Lions field the punt with plenty of time remaining and the offense that had moved the ball up and down the field against the Bears all day moves the ball right down the field.

After the Lions move inside the 10, the Bears get a huge break. Matt Stafford realizes his second-down play won't work and then heaves the ball way out of bounds, resulting in an obvious intentional grounding call. It is a spot foul, which moves the ball back to about the 10-yard-line and also results in a 10-second run-off and a loss of down. With the penalty, the Lions are facing third-and-goal. Sure enough on the next play, the Bears force another bad Stafford pass to set up a tough fourth down. Except the refs call a brutal roughing penalty on Pernell McPhee and the Lions get it first-and-goal inside the five. They score with 21 seconds left.

In hindsight, and man this is the worst kind of hindsight, people are arguing Fox should have figured out the Lions were going to score anyway and refused the intentional grounding penalty. That would have left about 40 seconds on the clock and the Lions about five yards away from the touchdown facing second down. That's the better option than third-and-goal from the 10, really?

In the real world, in the swirl and pressure of the last minute of an NFL game, of course the coach takes the penalty, the loss of yardage and a down and says, Hey defense, stop these guys from scoring on these next two plays. And yes, I know you can take the yardage but decline the runoff, but my argument still stands that you take the whole penalty and try to finish the game with the defense.

Oh, and it turned out 21 seconds was plenty of time for the Bears to go down and tie the game and force overtime anyway! Come on, this is not complicated.

Ridiculously good: The Bears' drive to a chip-shot field goal at the end of regulation contained two beautiful completions down the sideline and a perfect attempted back-shoulder throw that almost always draws a pass interference penalty - and did again for the Bears.

Ridiculous in a bad way: Caldwell's aforementioned decision to go for the field goal. And of course it was even worse that his terrible coaching was redeemed by the Bears' incompetence.

The McClellin conundrum: The defense wasn't very good without him but it wasn't very good with him. We will reserve judgement until he returns to the lineup but I still say that no matter where Pro Football Focus rated him going into the Kansas City game (an amazing #11 overall among all inside linebackers in the league), the Bears are better off without him.

You call that special?: A muffed punt and a punt that went off the leg of one of the blockers? The Lions are so bad they have worse special teams than the Bears. But they now have only one fewer wins. Both teams are buried deep in the back half of the NFL. And barring miraculous mid-season winning streaks, their seasons are over.

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

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:20 AM | Permalink

The Weekend In Chicago Rock

You shoulda been there.

1. Soddy Daisy at Bric-a-Brac on Saturday.


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2. Clearance at Bric-a-Brac on Saturday.

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3. Mr. and Mrs. at Bric-a-Brac on Saturday.

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4. Wolf PAC at Bric-a-Brac on Saturday.

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5. Spike and the Sweet Spots at Bric-a-Brac on Saturday.

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6. The Trolls at the Double Door on Friday night.

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7. Kylesa at the Empty Bottle on Thursday night.

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8. Mutemath at Lincoln Hall on Sunday night.

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9. Dan Wilson at the Old Town on Saturday night.

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10. Replicant at the Abbey on Saturday night.

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11. The Frozen Autumn at the Abbey on Saturday night.

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12. Yip Deceiver at the Double Door on Friday night.

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13. Owl City at the House of Blues on Saturday night.

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14. Gardener at the Comfort Station on Saturday night.

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15. Garbage at the Riv on Saturday night.

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16. Poi Dog Pondering at the Vic on Saturday night.

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17. Ronnie Baker Brooks at FitzGerald's in Berwyn on Friday night.

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18. Rachael Yamagata at Park West on Friday night.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:05 AM | Permalink

Former Chicago TV Reporter Has Mets Mania!

Jennifer McLogan still asking the tough questions.

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McLogan is from Michigan and worked in Chicago at Channel 2 from 1989 to 1993.

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Ah ha ha ha ha! Team coverage. Yuk, yuk, yuk.

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Bonus McLogan:

Because it's all about the TV reporter.

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And who could forget McLogan's 1991 report for CBS2 Chicago, "Garage Doors of Death?"

Actually, it's easy to, because we couldn't find it anywhere!

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:30 AM | Permalink

F The Goat

This club's been like a ship on the ocean; the Titanic with a fanbase full of hope and devotion.

A call-out to Cubbie Nation.


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Previously
* Please Stop Believin'

* 99 Years of Cub Losses

* The 1908 Song

* Go Blame It On Bartman

* We Can't Wait 100 Years

* Dusty Must Get Fired

* 100 Seasons in the Sun

* Eddie Elia

* We Can't Wait 100 Years

* Let's Call The Crosstown Off!

* Louuuuu!

* Ode to Ozzie

* The 12 Days of Cubness

* I'm Sammy

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:57 AM | Permalink

I Am A Retail Warrior: Throw The Dog A Birthday Bone!

Remember the customer who wouldn't stop texting my personal cell phone? Well she texted me at 7 a.m. on my day off a couple of weeks ago. Seems she just felt the need to reach out and wake someone. Actually, she was checking on a pending special order, because, like 95 percent of customers who order things from us, she decided to stop listening when we got to the part of the transaction when I tell them specials can take up to six weeks. I got the last laugh, though. I waited until the next day when I was in, called her to update her, then politely let her know she'd been texting my personal phone and would perhaps get a timelier and more accurate response if she called the store directly. She seemed only mildly miffed, and I haven't heard from her since, so I guess that's good news, though I have the feeling it's not over yet.

Since then, I've had several customers who just seem completely off the rails. Take, for instance, the woman who brought in a toy she'd been given as a "new puppy" gift and wanted to exchange it because she was sure her puppy would just destroy it. It was a sweet little toy, perfect for small breed puppies, and very popular among customers and gift-givers alike. And there's no stuffing in it, so who cares if the puppy destroys it? Puppies destroy stuff - better their own toys than your shoes or furniture. But she insisted she wouldn't have a toy that his tiny teeth could rip up, and asked for advice on something better and more durable.

"Let's take a look at this line," I suggested, and showed her some extremely durable U.S.-made toys for those tough chewers. "This is one of the most durable toys we carry."

She looked sour as I explained the features of each toy in the line. "This one isn't meant for unsupervised play, but it's a great toy for tugging," I said. Big mistake.

"There will be no tugging," she snapped. "This will be a well-behaved, well-mannered dog. I'll just look around on my own."

Okay, then . . . You got a puppy and you don't want it to play? Dogs are dogs, lady, they're going to tug, chew, run and jump. Deprive a puppy of toys and it's going to seek out other things to keep it entertained. At that point, I was kind of hoping the dog was back at home chewing up her hand-sewn Italian leather shoes.

She didn't leave with a toy. She got some dog ear cleanser and a dog toothbrush for her puppy. I sincerely hope this woman didn't have children. If she did, I can only imagine they were forced to behave like pre-Maria Von Trapp children, forced to march around the house in lock-step and obey when whistled at.

About a week later, another woman came in with her large, lovely dog - some kind of setter, I think. He was sweet-tempered and happy - unlike his human companion, who had brought him in because it was his birthday and he should get a present. Her ability to control him was more than somewhat lacking, though perhaps her Lilly Pulitzer outfit and high-heeled shoes were preventing her from being able to manage him. He bounded around as she tried to rein him in - a sea of black fur against green and pink flowers, staggering around on height-enhancing footwear and cursing under her breath. I decided to intercede. The dog had picked out several toys which she had rejected. I showed her a best-seller - one that my own dog adored and that we have trouble keeping in stock. The dog looked interested. The woman curled her lip in distaste. "I don't like it. I have to like it too," she said. So she teetered around a bit more and picked out two toys on her own, then tried to force the dog to pick which one he liked best. By that time, the dog was as exasperated as I. He flopped down on the floor and refused to look at either toy.

"I don't understand it. He has one like this at home and he just loves it. And it's adorable," she complained.

"Maybe he's just tired and overwhelmed," I said, trying to keep a straight face. "If he has one at home and likes it, I'm sure he'll show some interest once he's back at the house."

So she spent $22 on a toy her dog didn't seem interested in at all and was on her way. It's probably still lying in the bag, undisturbed, while her depressed dog dreams longingly of the toys he liked that didn't pass her cuteness test. Some birthday.

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Previously in I Am A Retail Warrior:
* 15 Things We Wish Customers Knew.

* I Am Not Your Friend.

* Doggy Dress Code.

* The 41-Cent Saga.

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Previously in Life At Work: Barista! Tales From The Coffee Front; At Your Service; I Am A Security Guard; I Am A Roofer; Working The Door; I Am A Wrigley Beer Vendor; I Am A Pizza Delivery Guy; and the original Life at Work.

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Jane Harper is our pseudonymous retail correspondent. She welcomes your comments.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:10 AM | Permalink

October 17, 2015

The Weekend Desk Report

We here at Beachwood Nation have a nice little history of Cubs ditties - just go here and check out the left rail - but in recent years we just couldn't muster the will to sing anymore. Well, just when we thought we were out of it, they've pulled us back in again. Our musical director Tom Latourette has come up with another gem. "It's been a long time since the muse has hit me," Tom says. "Playoff baseball will do that!"

Indeed. Enjoy. Share. And another way to visit our musical/video archive is to visit our YouTube page.

F The Goat


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The Hunt for Marketing October

If you will . . .

blueoctober.jpg

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But wait, this movie is playing in Kansas City, too!

kcblue.jpg

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And on WGN!

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And . . . and . . . and . . . are you kidding me? Plug-and-play, people.

redoct.jpg

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Who Wants It More?

Toronto-Wants-It-More-Shirts.jpg

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cubswant.jpg

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John Cusack.

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New York.

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Ricketts.

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Maddon and some player dude.

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But wait . . . so do these people!

Majestic-Kansas-City-Royals-Womens-Black-2015-Playoff-Wants-it-More-Locker-Room-T-Shirt-565x565.jpg

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Every team wants to "Take October," too; you get the idea.

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MLB McMarketing.

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Beachwood Sports Radio: Postseason Paradise

Including: Including: Metropolitans vs. Cubopolitans; Ron Coomer Is An Awful Announcer; Chasing Utley; No Flipping?; Bears Try To Save Season With Must-Win Game!; and Hoiberg Hooey.

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Weekend Cubs

* Mets Or Cubs Future? MLB Execs Torn Over NL's Young Studs.

* How The Cubs Picked Schwarber In Draft Shocker.

* Chicagoetry: Mighty Santo At The Bat (The Cubs Will Shine In '69).

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Steve Rhodes quoted in this story.

Posted by The Beachwood Reporter on Friday, October 16, 2015

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Might have to call this place and ask for Amanda Hugginkiss.

Posted by The Beachwood Reporter on Friday, October 16, 2015

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The Sound Opinions Weekend Listening Report: "Chicago garage-rock band Twin Peaks formed when its members were still in high school. Now the group is playing big festivals and shows around the world. They join Jim and Greg for a special live performance and conversation at the Goose Island Barrelhouse. Plus, a review of the new album from Jack White's band The Dead Weather."

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Weekend BeachBook

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Weekend TweetWood

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Bob Dylan contributed to this song, by the way.

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The Weekend Desk Tip Line: No gatos negros.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:54 AM | Permalink

October 16, 2015

The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour #73: Cubbin' It

Postseason Paradise. Including: Metropolitans vs. Cubopolitans; Ron Coomer Is An Awful Announcer; Chasing Utley; No Flipping?; Bears Try To Save Season With Must-Win Game!; and Hoiberg Hooey.


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SHOW NOTES

* Mike Hartenstine.

* The Super Bowl Shuffle: 10 singers, six band members, eight chorus members.

1:22: Cubs Kill Cardinals.

3:40: Ron Coomer Is An Awful Announcer.

9:40: Metropolitans vs. Cubopolitans.

28:25: Chasing Utley.

31:44: No Flipping?

* #BatFlip

* Korean Baseball Players Are The Best At Bat-Flipping.

* Anthony Rizzo Is Practicing His Bat Flips.

* John Baker: Playing The Game The Right Way (The Anthony Rizzo Story).

39:40: Postseason Paradise.

* The Oral History Of The ALDS Inning That Broke Baseball.

53:07: Bears Try To Save Season With Must-Win Game!

* Same old Jay. #Bearsnesia

1:01:51: Hoiberg Hooey.

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STOPPAGE: 7:34

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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 2:18 PM | Permalink

The [Friday] Papers

"The FBI has seized the cellphone of Cook County Circuit Clerk Dorothy Brown as part of an ongoing investigation into a 2011 land deal involving a longtime campaign contributor that netted Brown and her husband tens of thousands of dollars," the Tribune reports.

Sources told the Tribune that federal authorities have joined an investigation initially launched by the Cook County state's attorney's office into the sale of a North Lawndale building owned by Narendra Patel, a longtime campaign donor to Brown and a west suburban businessman.

Patel, who is now deceased, gave the 2,275-square-foot, triangle-shaped property on South Pulaski Road to Brown's husband, Benton Cook III, at no cost in June 2011, records show. Within months, Cook put the property in the couple's name. Later, they transferred it to the Sankofa Group, a for-profit company Brown had set up years earlier.

The couple then sold the run-down building for $100,000 to developer Musa Tadros, county documents show.

The Sun-Times though, in conjunction with the Better Government Association and Fox Chicago News, reports that the focus of the investigation is "whether Cook County Circuit Court Clerk Dorothy Brown accepted loans from employees in exchange for jobs or promotions as part of a wide-ranging probe into possible corruption, according to sources."

My guess is that they're both right - we're likely to see a wide-ranging indictment filled with whatever the feds can throw at the wall, even if they can't make all of it stick. Between Brown and Cook, there's a rich vein there for investigators. Now the federales are heating up the wonder couple in the press to induce some cooperative behavior. If you're anywhere close to these two, you better lawyer up.

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Also from the Sun-Times:

More than a year ago, the clerk's office was subpoenaed by the U.S. attorney's office for Brown's "office e-mails on the office e-mail system," according to a knowledgeable source.

After some back and forth between prosecutors and Brown's office, the subpoena was never fulfilled, with federal authorities apparently backing off, the source said.

That strikes me as odd. Why would federal authorities "back off?"

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Maybe the e-mail system in Brown's office, like the court records she presides over, is so outdated and cumbersome the feds wanted nothing to do with it. Like, maybe copies of e-mails are kept on carbon paper?

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Speaking of antiquated systems, Rahm still doesn't understand how things (don't) work around here.

Boot Hoot
"The cost of getting a boot off a car in Chicago is set to rise 66 percent to $100 under a change proposed by Mayor Rahm Emanuel in his 2016 budget," the Tribune reports.

"The fine will go up from the current $60 in a change Emanuel introduced to aldermen in budget documents this week, as he continues hiking fines and fees to try to close the city's budget hole."

If only the city's boot technology had become outdated and unworkable.

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"The city boots about 55,000 cars each year, mainly because they have other unpaid parking tickets or moving violations, according to budget department spokeswoman Molly Poppe.

"Poppe said the increase is simply an attempt to bring the fine in line with the city's costs."

Molly Poppe, you are Today's Worst Person In Chicago.

Hastert Highway
"J. Dennis Hastert, the small-town wrestling coach who rose to political power as the longest-serving Republican speaker of the House, intends to plead guilty in a case in which he is accused of skirting banking laws and lying to the federal investigators, a prosecutor said Thursday," the New York Times reports.

From the Beachwood vault, 2006:

"This state's congressional delegation is a powerhouse. You might not know this, but the frickin' Speaker of the House, you know, the guy who used to be Newt Gingrich, and before that Tip O'Neill, is from Illinois. His name is Dennis Hastert. He is from Yorkville. He is two heartbeats from the presidency - meaning if Dick Cheney shot George W. Bush while hunting and then had a heart attack, Dennis Hastert would be president.

"So yeah, he's kind of undercovered in the local press. Others have taken notice though."

You might want to click through on that link to find out why Jack Shafer wrote then that Hastert was "an absolute nut job."

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Also from 2006:

"If I ran one of the newspapers here - and how many times have I had that thought - I would have assigned a reporter to cover Dennis Hastert full-time from the day he became Speaker of the House. Then maybe we wouldn't have had to rely on the Sunlight Foundation to expose the controversial land deal that in part landed Hastert at the top of Rolling Stone's list of worst legislators in what it calls the worst Congress ever. Hastert is 'a guy who saw his chance to profit from his official acts and took it,' a Sunshine Foundation official says in 'The Highway Robber.'"

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Also from 2006:

"You wouldn't know it by the local coverage, but Denny Hastert is anything but a kindly, cuddly wrestling coach. He's a venal pol who tried to cover-up Foleygate."

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From 2007:

"Neil Steinberg, the smartest boy in the world, had this to say about Dennis Hastert: 'Rep. J. Dennis Hastert is a class act who did a lot for his district and for Illinois. It is in his character that, upon announcing his departure from Congress after 21 years, he would deliver a parting gift - a reiteration of his plea, first given when he assumed the speakership in 1999, that we not lose ourselves in a pool of bitterness.'"

See also: CNN, Chicago Tribune Uncritically Reported Hastert's Claim That He "Tried [His] Best" To Restore "Civility."

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From 2010:

"Former House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert has plowed through about $1 million in taxpayer dollars in the last two years for an office and staff in west suburban Yorkville, thanks to a little-known perk given to ex-speakers," the Tribune reports.

"Hastert, 68, a lobbyist and business consultant who retired from Congress in 2007, has hired three of his former staffers at salaries of more than $100,000 apiece to run the publicly financed office.

"Taxpayers also are paying monthly rent of $6,300 to a company partly owned by three sons of a Hastert mentor and business partner. Other public funds go for an $860-a-month 2008 GMC Yukon leased from a dealership owned by a Hastert friend and campaign donor."

Welfare queens.

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"As a House member, Hastert declared himself a foe of government waste. In 2005, he boasted of winning a 'Golden Bulldog' award from the 'Watchdogs of the Treasury' each year he was in Congress."

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See also:
* The item Hastert Hijinks.

* The item Feds Kill Hastert Highway.

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Mets Mania In Full Swing
Local TV news is bad everywhere.

Beachwood Photo Booth: Uptown Autumn Night
Timeless, like Havana in some sort of way.

The Week In Chicago Rock
Featuring: Nobunny, Pookie, Slushy, Hellfire Deathcult, The Word, Green River Ordinance, Stars, MS MR, Bring Me The Horizon, Soilwork, Soulfly, and Aaron Neville.

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BeachBook

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TweetWood
A sampling.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Sports adulting is hard.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:17 AM | Permalink

The Week In Chicago Rock

You shoulda been there.

1. Nobunny at Bric-a-Brac on Sunday.

Photos, Loerzel.

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2. Pookie at Bric-a-Brac on Sunday.

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3. Slushy at Bric-a-Brac on Sunday.

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4. Hellfire Deathcult at Cobra Lounge on Tuesday night.

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5. The Word at the Concord on Tuesday night.

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6. Green River Ordinance acoustic pre-show at the Bottom Lounge on Thursday night.

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7. Stars at Lincoln Hall on Wednesday night.

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8. MS MR at Park West on Tuesday night.

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9. Bring Me The Horizon at the Aragon on Tuesday night.

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10. Soilwork at the Tree in Joliet on Sunday night.

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11. Soulfly at the Tree in Joliet on Sunday night.

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12. Aaron Neville at SPACE in Evanston on Tuesday night.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:09 AM | Permalink

Mets Mania Shows Area Men, Pols & Local TV Newsfolk Are Idiots Everywhere

Reporting live from America's last shopping mall.

McLogan asks the tough questions.

A Hollywood ending.


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McLogan, by the way, is from Michigan and worked in Chicago at Channel 2 from 1989 to 1993.

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Ah ha ha ha ha! Team coverage. Yuk, yuk, yuk.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 3:50 AM | Permalink

Beachwood Photo Booth: Uptown Autumn Night

Timeless, like Havana in some sort of way.

carnightuptownexpbw.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.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Superheroic San Luis Freeze.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Evanston Oasis.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Lyndale Food & Jewelry.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Lincoln Tap.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Book Window.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Alco Dude.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Ballin Drugs.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Don't Worry, Be Cookie.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Four Trey.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: The Office.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: America From Inside The Golden Nugget In Ravenswood.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Cellphone Repair.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Boots 'N' Grill.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Sunrise Strip.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: At The Corner Of Glad And Happy.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 3:13 AM | Permalink

October 15, 2015

The [Thursday] Papers

Here we go again.

To the Beachvault:

January 26, 2010: Who Is Dorothy Brown?

March 19, 2012: Dorothy Brown Outraged By E-Filing Pledge She Pretends She Didn't Know About.

October 21, 2007: County Job Fair.

March 25, 2008: Clerk Perk.

October 9, 2009: Dorothy Brown's Ethics For Dummies.

November 30, 2009: Double Agent Dorothy Brown.

December 9, 2009: Dorothy Brown's Mirror Petitions.

December 23, 2009: The Pearl of Illinois.

January 21, 2010: County Clown.

February 2, 2010: Sleaze Factor 8.

"An enigma wrapped in a mystery stuffed in an envelope of cash that no one can account for."

March 20, 2012: Beachwood Primary Guide 2012.

"For such a churchie, Dorothy Brown is a noted ethical disaster. Worse, she's terrible at her job. Just another "independent" who flamed out . . . That might also describe Munoz, who greased his kid into Whitney Young . . . Then again, it's Brown who thinks it's right for innocent people to pay for the processing of their unjustified arrest."

March 21, 2012: Primary Points.

"'Several Cook County voters have received some very nasty robocalls over the past day or so,' Rich Miller reports on his Capitol Fax Blog. 'A large number of Cook County pols have been slammed by these robocalls, and the one thing they may have in common is that they all are opponents of Cook County Clerk of the Circuit Court Dorothy Brown.'

"Miller reports that one robocall also attacked Tribune political reporter Rick Pearson. Click through for the audio.

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"Brown won re-election over Ald. Rick Munoz - there is no Republican opponent - despite a raft of stories over the years and in recent week about her sheer ineptitude and total lack of an ethical compass. Those who work in the court system - lawyers, for example - have nothing but horror stories to tell about the terrible state of affairs there.

"That's why my favorite quote of the day might be this one from her campaign manager, Pete Dagher: 'This means that Dorothy Brown can continue the reform that she started 11 years ago.'"

November 8, 2012: 1,220,896.

That's how many votes Dorothy Brown got on her way to winning re-election.

March 10, 2014: Cooking With Dorothy.

"West Garfield Park ranks in the top 20 most violent areas on the city map," the Sun-Times reports.

"In 2011 and 2012, the West Side neighborhood got more than $2.1 million from Gov. Pat Quinn's administration through his Neighborhood Recovery Initiative anti-violence program, state records show.

"But instead of all that public money going toward quelling the shooting and other violence there, a substantial chunk of it - almost 7 percent - appears to have gone into the pocket of the husband of Cook County Circuit Court Clerk Dorothy Brown.

"Benton Cook, Brown's spouse, was paid more than $146,401 in salary and fringe benefits from state grant funds to serve as the program coordinator with the Chicago Area Project, the agency the Quinn administration put in charge of doling out anti-violence funding to West Garfield Park, state records show."

That seems like a lot for a program that should've been bent on delivering as much of that money to the problem - instead of administrators - as possible. But maybe Cook has an explanation.

"While Cook didn't deny receiving the anti-violence grant money, he told the Sun-Times on Sunday he did not remember exactly how much he banked working for the Chicago Area Project. Cook insisted he didn't make anywhere close to that kind of money.

"It wasn't nearly $145,000," Cook said, telling a reporter at his front door to "check your records."

Done and done.

"State records obtained by the Chicago Sun-Times show that in 2011 Cook received $67,526 in salary and fringe benefits. Those documents, submitted to the Illinois Violence Prevention Authority, even bear Cook's own signature attesting to his salary and benefits as well as five other Chicago Area Project workers paid with Neighborhood Recovery Initiative funds.

"In 2012, the organization told the Illinois Violence Prevention Authority Cook received $78,875 in salary and fringe benefits. State records spelling out that year's totals for Cook and three other employees did not have Cook's endorsement, as was the case in 2011, but they bore the signature of Howard Lathan, the Chicago Area Project's associate executive director."

I am a little confused. Do those totals include the salaries of Cook and the five (and then three) other employees?

I'd also like to know how Cook got the gig - did he have experience in this area? And what did Cook deliver exactly in this position?

I'm sure neither answer is satisfying - the whole thing stinks.

"Lathan did not return multiple messages for him left at the organization's office . . . The Chicago Area Project, which itself got $1.1 million through the program during that two-year window, did not respond to repeated messages left at its offices Friday. The Quinn administration also did not respond to questions about Cook's involvement in the anti-violence program."

Seems no one wants to talk about Cook. Perhaps this is why:

"On Friday, the Chicago Sun-Times reported [link mine] how the program employed two gang members on the South Side, who were paid $8.50 an hour to hand out anti-violence literature. One of those teens is now dead, shot in the head with a shotgun, and his colleague is charged with the youth's murder."

Meanwhile . . .

"A Brown aide would not facilitate an interview with her Friday about her husband's Neighborhood Recovery Initiative involvement nor offer any details about what exactly he did with the program to merit a six-figure income.

"This has nothing to do with the clerk's office," Brown spokeswoman Jalyne Strong-Shaw told the Chicago Sun-Times.

Really?

"Beyond his pay and benefits, a not-for-profit corporation he founded received another $3,333 in West Garfield Park's Neighborhood Recovery Initiative allotment. That entity, Dream Catchers Community Development Corp., is based in the home Cook shares with his wife."

And:

"Separately, Cook is at the center of a newly opened investigation by Cook County's inspector general into a June 2011 deal in which he was given land on the South Side for free by a campaign donor to his wife.

"A Better Government Association/Fox 32 investigation published in the Sun-Times found that Cook, once he'd obtained the land, added his wife's name to the property's deed, conveyed it to a corporation they both own, then sold it for $100,000. Brown never disclosed the transaction on her county economic interest statement."

Frankly, I'm surprised Brown has lasted this long. She's long been atop our leaderboard of county officials most likely to be indicted.

May 6, 2014: Dream Catcher.

"Cook County Circuit Clerk Dorothy Brown had a direct managerial role in a not-for-profit group that got an anti-violence grant from Gov. Pat Quinn's now-disbanded Neighborhood Recovery Initiative, state records obtained by the Chicago Sun-Times show," the paper reports.

That sounds about right.

Next city/county officeholder besides Berrios likely to be indicted in descending order: Dorothy Brown, Karen Yarbrough, Stanley Moore, Maria Pappas.

Back to the Sun-Times:

"The group, Dream Catchers Community Development Corp., was founded by Brown's husband, Benton Cook III. It was asked to return unexpended grant money after having its contract terminated in 2011 by Chicago Area Project, a larger not-for-profit that had been overseeing organizations that had received money through the Quinn anti-violence initiative.

"Dream Catchers was supposed to be paid as much as $10,000 by Chicago Area Project to distribute anti-violence literature between February 2011 and November 2011.

"The group initially was awarded $3,333 of the $10,000. But Chicago Area Project ended the deal after only a few months, in May 2011, saying it learned of the potential conflict of interest posed by Cook also being paid tens of thousands of dollars by Chicago Area Project to oversee other Neighborhood Recovery Initiative programs.

"On March 26, 2012, Chicago Area Project asked for $1,797 in unexpended state grant money to be returned from Cook's organization. Dream Catchers complied in early April of that year."

So it's not a lot of money, but it is pretty greasy.

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The Brown link?

A February 2012 "closeout" report turned over to the now-disbanded Illinois Violence Prevention Authority bears Brown's signature, listing her as Dream Catchers' "fiscal manager."

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Also noting: Dorothy Brown Issues Press Release On Official Letterhead Slamming Sun-Times For Exposing Huge Raises To Five Favorites.

May 9, 2014: Downbound Dorothy Brown.

"Not long after taking over the budget committee of a state agency, Cook County Circuit Clerk Dorothy Brown voted by proxy to channel $5 million to a West Side nonprofit to help continue funding Gov. Pat Quinn's now-disbanded Neighborhood Recovery Initiative," Dave McKinney reports for the Sun-Times.

"That vote by Brown came at the same time the nonprofit, Chicago Area Project, employed her husband, Benton Cook III, to oversee millions of dollars in Neighborhood Recovery Initiative programming. The organization subsidized his paycheck with state anti-violence grant money.

"It's not clear whether any of the grant funds Brown authorized for Chicago Area Project's use in September 2012 trickled into Cook's paycheck since the nonprofit says he left its payroll in October of that year.

"But her decision to proceed with a vote on the matter instead of abstaining sparked criticism Thursday from Gov. Pat Quinn's office and a call from the top House Republican that she resign her chairmanship of the Criminal Justice Information Authority's budget committee, through which state anti-violence grants are disbursed."

What's odd about Brown's maneuver is that her vote wasn't even necessary; the funding to CAP was approved unanimously. That's what they call in sports an unforced error.

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Meanwhile, the Tribune reports:

"Cook County prosecutors are investigating a land deal that netted Circuit Court Clerk Dorothy Brown and her husband tens of thousands of dollars with no money down, the Tribune has learned.

"Brown's husband, Benton Cook III, confirmed that a grand jury is probing the deal, which saw him get a North Lawndale building for free from a longtime campaign contributor to Brown.

"The court clerk quickly became a co-owner, and her company sold the parcel for $100,000 to a Frankfort real estate developer who'd long had his eye on it. The developer said Thursday that he testified before a grand jury earlier this year about how he came to acquire the land."

(The Trib notes that "The land deal was first reported in late November by WFLD-Ch. 32 news and the Better Government Association." See "Dorothy's Deed, Done Dirt Cheap.")

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"It's becoming even more clear that Alvarez's probe of Gov. Quinn's anti-violence initiative is a lot more about Brown than it is about Quinn - at least, for now," Rich Miller writes today at his Capitol Fax blog.

That would help explain why Alvarez is proceeding on one track while the feds proceed on another; Brown is her territory and and an investigation focused on her doesn't muck up the larger probe into the NRI by the U.S. Attorney's Office out of Springfield.

(Cook County inspector general Patrick Blanchard is also reportedly looking into the Brown affair; a legislative panel is also looking into the now-defunct NRI.)

June 30, 2014: Being Brown's Benton.

"Before he was paid more than $146,000 for work on Gov. Pat Quinn's scandal-plagued anti-violence initiative, Benton Cook III says he spent four years as a 'media production director' for political candidates," the Sun-Times reports.

"His biggest client, as it turns out, was his wife, Cook County Circuit Court Clerk Dorothy Brown, records show."

Not that there's anything wrong with that - except for the sneaking suspicion that Brown found a way to increase her household income by transferring fundraising dollars to a shady job for her husband, much in the same way that Jesse Jackson Jr. paid his wife monthly consulting fees.

Beyond that, Cook comes off essentially as a scammer in this article.

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With an election coming in the spring, a lot of folks this morning asking, "Gee, how much does that clerk's job pay again?"

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The platform of every candidate will be easy: Modernize the court's ancient computer system and rid the office of corruption - the same platform Brown ran on.

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Jacob Meister has already been running.

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Also, for those who believe that these things run in threes - and, yes, neither Dorothy Brown nor her husband has been charged with a crime yet, but c'mon - the good ol' wrestling coach Denny Hastert completes the trifecta.

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And don't forget: Sandi Jackson takes the baton from her husband this month.

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Speaking Of Barbara Byrd-Bribery . . .

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Lion Down On The Job
"Boy that's a crappy looking team they got over there in the mitten," our very own Carl Mohrbacher writes in The Blue & Orange Kool-Aid Report.

Always Absent Alshon
"The biggest fantasy bust among WRs this season," our very own Dan O'Shea writes in Fantasy Fix.

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BeachBook

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Au jus.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:55 AM | Permalink

Fantasy Fix: Always Absent Alshon

One of the biggest fantasy mysteries of this NFL season has been the injury-related one revolving around Bears' WR Alshon Jeffery. Jeffery hasn't played since Week 1, though by appearances he has been nearly a game-time decision in each of the last three weeks.

Is it his previous calf injury? A new hamstring injury? Both? We will get no answers from Bears coach John Fox. What it all adds up to is that Jeffery is arguably the biggest fantasy bust among WRs this season.

Judging by his 97% ownership in Yahoo! leagues, fantasy owners are not cutting Jeffery loose just yet (although a lot of them, myself included, have him on the trading block). His high rate of retention has a lot to do with the fact that when he does come back, he is virtually guaranteed to be the Bears' No. 1 pass target. With Jay Cutler having a better-than-expected campaign, this is no small thing.

Alshon's ongoing absence in Week 5 coincided with an injury that left Eddie Royal, the team's perceived No. 2 WR, also out. Cutler seemed to be enjoying a second week back from his own injury, as he turned to young WRs Marquess Wilson and Josh Bellamy.

Wilson was a great late waiver-wire pick-up for those paying close attention. He had six catches for 85 yards and one TD. Like Wilson, Bellamy was targeted eight times and also caught six balls, though for just 31 yards. (Undrafted rookie Cameron Meredith, who grew up in suburban Westchester and played at Illinois State, caught all four of his targets for 52 yards.)

Will Alshon be back for Week 6? He already has practiced this week, which seems like a good sign, but I'm guessing we won't know for sure until he exits the tunnel on Sunday. If you picked up Wilson last week, I'd still hold onto him a little bit longer.

Week 5 Winners

QB: Josh McCown, CLE.

A couple weeks ago, I couldn't figure out why he was starting, but the former Bear seems to be very comfortable exploding expectations. His Week 5 line: 457 yards passing, two pass TDs, one rush TD, one two-point conversion, zero INTs. He's had an amazing couple of weeks, but will get three tough defenses the next three weeks: DEN, STL, ARI.

RB: Doug Martin, TAM.

He couldn't manage more than 78 yards rushing in any of his first three games, and appeared to be losing touches to fellow RB Charles Sims, but has since reeled off 106 yards and a TD in Week 4, and 123 yards and two rush TDs and a receiving TD in Week 5.

WR: Andre Johnson, IND.

Failed to score any fantasy points in two of his first four games, but racked up 77 yards and two TDs in a so-called revenge game against former employer HOU. I'd still be afraid to start him until I see another week of the old Andre. If he does well against an aggressive NE secondary this week, we may have a comeback story on our hands.

TE: Antonio Gates, SD.

Two TDs in his first game back from suspension, and his QB, Phillip Rivers, was leading the NFL in passing yards even before his return. It's looking like a nice payoff for owners who drafted and stashed him.

Week 5 Losers

QB: Matt Ryan, ATL.

Ugly Week 5 line: 254 yards, zero TDs, two INTs, one lost fumble. Ryan continues to have a wide array of receiver talent at his disposal, and can surely pile up the yards, but has only one pass TD in the last two weeks, as the red zone is quickly becoming the domain of RB star Devonta Freeman.

RB: Eddie Lacy, GB.

Jamaal Charles suffered a season-ending injury, and may have been the biggest loss of the week, but Lacy is the biggest loser. True, he faced a very tough STL defense and GB only handed off to him 13 times, but he amassed only 27 yards. There should be better times ahead for Lacy, but he didn't get it done in Week 5.

WR: Antonio Brown, PIT.

Had his second straight week of less than 50 yards receiving since QB Ben Roethlisberger was injured. How massive a swing of fortune is this? Brown had 100-plus yards in each of the first three games. Substitute QB Michael Vick can't seem to find the best WR in the league.

TE: Charles Clay, BUF.

A one-catch, seven-yards performance in Week 5 effectively killed the hype Clay had accrued entering the week. The Clay hype peaked in Week 4 with a nine-catch, 111-yard performance, and the rest of the way we could probably expect him to remain a top 10 TE, though maybe not at the Gronk level.

Expert Wire
* ESPN's Talented Mr. Roto has Devonta Freeman at the top of his top 200 for Week 6. It's not even halfway through the season and Freeman is looking a lot like next year's overall No. 1 pick.

* CBSSports.com notes that the unheralded Charcandrick West, RB, KC, is likely to replace star RB Jamaal Charles. Not that anyone can really replace Charles, but Knile Davis has filled in for him before, and probably already was on a lot of rosters as a handcuff to Charles. West's sudden emergence has thrown waiver wires into a tizzy.

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

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:15 AM | Permalink

October 14, 2015

Chief Relief; Lion Down On The Job

Good news everybody! The AFC has a team nearly as banged up as the Bears and better yet, they're massive underachievers!

It was a nice victory for the Chicago Bears and their wide receiving corps of taxi squad recruits.

Given the number of injuries the Bears' offense has sustained, victory was likely contingent on a thus-far unknown player emerging, seizing the opportunity and shining on the national stage.

Would Marquess Wilson, Bill Bellamy or Burgess Meredith capture the hearts of Chicagoans?

Or would crappy late-game play doom this season to a four-month run of uninterrupted shitness*?

Turns out the last guy most would expect, our old friend Jay Cutler, was the man who came up with the goods in the clutch.

After being summoned from the area behind the gym where the cool kids go to burn coffin nails, Cutler channeled his inner Douglas MacArthur and elevated the play of his team, eventually leading Chicago to successive dramatic drives that culminated in a game-winning touchdown pass to Matt Forte.

Even as an unabashed Cutler apologist, that last sentence felt weird to write.

When asked what the keys were to the final two offensive series', the quarterback only responded "Bold Flavor" in a husky voice before climbing upon the back of a live bear and exiting Arrowhead Stadium astride his animal familiar.

Lion Down On The Job
Boy that's a crappy looking team they got over there in the mitten.

Last week, Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford got benched for taking the football and throwing it at the hands and chests of the Arizona Cardinals' defense.

During the postgame press conference Stafford told the assembled reporters that Lions head coach Jim Caldwell informed him at halftime that "if I threw another interception that I'll be pulled out of the game."

Stafford followed this up by burping.

When Stafford's preparation was called into question by several members of the Detroit press, the quarterback wasted no time putting his foot directly into his talking hole.

"Well I definitely wasn't getting drunk before the game at Dizzy's house," said Stafford before visibly wincing. "I mean, I was at a pornography store. I was buying pornography."

"Hey you guys [gagging noise]," slurred a random female Lions fan who had wandered into the room. "You guys need to . . . yooooooo guys need to back UFFFFF . . . I mean, back waaaaaaay OFF this guy." The fan pointed in the direction of rookie running back Ameer Abdullah, a man who by all accounts is not Matthew Stafford.

"Sheila, you're killing me here," Stafford hissed, leaning away from the microphone. "Boy this is pretty random, huh guys?" said the quarterback into the mic, before leaning towards his teammate. "Ameer, for shit's sake, help me out here." Abdullah responded by sprinting out of the room.

"No way Map," said Sheila pointing to the ceiling and then donning a confused look. "Dude, why did your mom name you Map?" Burp. "A map is a map. Not a name." Cough. "You're a person . . . wait." Sheila stumbled towards the podium. "You should take off your shirt. If you really are a map, you can show me the way to the AM/PM that sells booze 'til eleven. Then we can go slam some more forties at Dizzy's place like we did this morning!"

"Booooooo!" rang the chorus of the assembled group of Detroit reporters who began throwing old tomatoes and cabbage at the Lions QB.

"Wow guys," Sheila said in a dazedly impressed manner. "That took a lot of (buuuuurrrrrrrp), what's the word? 'Forsythe,' that's it. You guys had a lot of Forsythe to bring that spoiled produce to a presser."

"I think you mean 'foresight,' Sheila," said Stafford while fending off a stalk of celery that was well past its prime.

Eventually the mob ran out of vegetables and disbanded. The Lion's signal-caller shrugged, pulled a 40-ounce bottle of King Cobra malt liquor from underneath the podium and took a swig, then offered the bottle to Sheila.

"SWEET!" said Sheila. "You should still totally take off your shirt (burrrrrp)," she concluded before throwing up again. "Hey, it's pretty warm in this police station. Maybe I should take off my shirt."

"Nah," said Stafford inspecting the pool of vomit at the woman's feet, then taking the bottle back from her and putting down ten ounces of booze. "I'm good. (Buuuurrrp). You go ahead and keep that jersey on."

Okay, So Now What?
Thanks to their second straight clutch victory, the national media has collectively satted up and takened notice of the Bears' abrupt turnaround. Check out the chatter from other publications.

"The new coaching regime has the Bears playing out of their mind . . . thanks to their liberal use of peyote-infused water on the sidelines. They don't know where they are and they don't care where they're going. As long as that giant, top hat-wearing spider they all swear is perched atop the Gatorade cooler keeps playing Steve Vai tunes, they believe the sky's the limit. We're moving them up to 27 in our rankings." - Pat Kirwin, CBS Sports

"The Bears are a tolerable watch; a brand of football that doesn't force you to scramble for your remote to save your head from exploding like that guy in Scanners. Chicago is the 28th best team in the league right now." - Jim Nasium, USA Today

Last week we told you to keep your expectations in check and by all accounts, every single Bears fan has.

Thanks!

Now prepare to reverse course.

Reverse course, from not moving?

Okay, you have my permission to cease your listless drifting upon a sea of non-expectations.

Look, I'm not going to say that the Bears are a, quote, "good team."

But If they continue to max out their abilities, they can realistically beat three of their upcoming opponents; not in an "any given Sunday" kind of way, but the Bears might legitimately be a better team than the Lions and Vikings. I also think they can beat the Chargers and Rams.

Woah, woah, woah. Last week you proclaimed "Welcome To Limbo," pounded a Sierra Nevada tall boy, crumpled up the can and threw it at us. The Bears beat a middling team and, furthermore, the sharp edge of that can cut my kid's arm.

As a literary representation of a larger audience that only exists in my imagination, you can't reproduce. You don't have any kids. Secondly, I've upgraded my assessment of the Bears. They showed me something by beating a Chiefs team that's very difficult to beat on their home turf.

YOU CALLED THEM INJURED AND UNDERACHEIVING 700 WORDS AGO! THAT MEANS ANY TEAM CAN BEAT THEM ON ANY GIVEN DAY!

The coaching staff has won me over. I think they'll get the most out of the talent they have now and their absent key players will heal up as the season progresses. Also, some teams are a lot worse than I originally thought. I'd go so far as to say that in a few weeks, we'll look at the Bears as the best of the bottom half of the NFL.

The best of the bottom half. Wow. There's that Kool-Aid we've been hearing so much about. Name 15 teams worse than the Bears. I dare you.

Miami, Cleveland, Baltimore, Tennessee, Houston, Jacksonville, Oakland, Kansas City, Philadelphia, Washington, Minnesota, Detroit, Tampa Bay, New Orleans, San Francisco.

I don't think Minnesota, Oakland or Philadelphia belong on that list.

I'm not sure, either, but the fact that I can present a case that any one of those teams is worse than the Bears is a hell of an improvement from where we thought we were, so suck on that.

(Opens beer, gluck, gluck, gluck, throws can at imaginary child)

"Hey, watch it Dad!"

Oh crap, that one's real and legally my responsibility for another two years.

Sorry honey!

Idiot.

Kool-Aid (4 of 5 Bottles Of Bell's Two Hearted Ale)
I know, I know. Bell's Brewery is located in Kalamazoo . . .

Said nobody.

Shut up, you guys. It's a Michigan-based brewery that makes some of my favorite beers. I highly recommend a pint or five.

Early this season, it looked as though a date with the Bears would be just the thing to cure the Lions of their early-season woes, but it appears as though the change at the top of the franchise has been just what the doctor ordered for the Bears.

It's like somebody pushed the "Try Hard" button on these friggin' guys.

Conversely, the Lions are a 53-man dumpster fire.

I banged a guy in a dumpster once (buuurrrrrp).

Get out of here, Sheila. You're gross and my wife is going to come downstairs and get the wrong idea.

"Your loss, Dizzy."

Ugh. You tell a few people you occasionally get vertigo and before you know it, you've got a nickname you can't shake and you're getting hammered on Sunday mornings with the quarterback of the Detroit Lions.

I fail to see the corollary.

Which part of "shut up" do you guys not understand? I've got to finish this thing.

I think if the Bears are going to get burned by anything, it'll be that Matthew Stafford will remember that he's got a darn good number two receiver in Golden Tate and the Notre Dame product will run wild while Chicago puts all of its effort into stopping Calvin Johnson.

I see Detroit as a dangerous, cornered animal of a football team, but also a far more mistake-prone group than the Bears.

One more afternoon of late-game heroics are in store. Bears win by capitalizing on Detroit second-half turnovers.

Bears 26, Lions 20

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* Even though it tested well, the protagonist's name was changed from "Shitness" late in the production of The Hunger Games after the PMRC was invited to a screening.

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About The Author
Despite ceaseless complaints from his daughter, iron-willed Carl Mohrbacher is dominating all things life for at least another 10 days, thanks to his Cubs playoff beard.

#WeAreGood.

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Carl Mohrbacher is our man on the Kool-Aid. He welcomes your comments.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 5:45 PM | Permalink

The [Wednesday] Papers

On top of everything else that happened at Wrigley Field last night, Fernando Rodney fired the arrow:


I don't know why MLB video lately leaves a big block of white space beneath it, but I spent more time than I wanted to this morning trying to solve it, so we'll just have to live with the ugly.

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"Talent wins out above all else. And by series end, the Cubs just had more of it than the Cardinals - even if a lot of their key contributors, by baseball's standards, are still wearing diapers," Jonah Keri writes for Grantland

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Upping The Cubs' Nickname Game
George Sun and Schwarberry Short Cake.

Song Of The Moment: Go, Cubs, Go!
Steve Goodman wrote it at the request of a WGN exec.

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Barbara Byrd-Bribery
"As part of a plea agreement with federal authorities, former Chicago Public Schools CEO Barbara Byrd Bennett pleaded guilty [Tuesday] morning to one felony count of fraud in connection with the SUPES Academy corruption scandal," Catalyst reports.

"The former head of the nation's third-largest school district is now a convicted felon."

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Wow, check out this report from Cleveland on Byrd-Bennett. MUST-SEE.

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Byrd-Bennett's husband, Ed Suggs, is an assistant principal at Garrett Morgan High School in Cleveland.

As you may have already read, her daughter is the Cuyahoga County Clerk of Courts (and the county's former inspector general.

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REVEALED: The Boom & Bust Of The CIA's Secret Torture Sites
"We cannot have enough blacksite hosts," the official wrote.

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The Refund Kevin Trudeau Doesn't Want You To Know About
And the Winston & Strawn partner who didn't want you to have it either.

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SCRABBLE for Literacy
With teaser video!

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Chicagoetry: Longshadow
I wish I was taller, thinner,
Had more discipline at dinner

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BeachBook

Still so great.

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TweetWood
A sampling.

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Embedded tweets with images also creating white space. Twitter did recently alter their embed code, though I was able to instigate a solution from them for how it fucked up past embedded tweets by breaking our pages, but geez . . . I realize we aren't likely using the best tech elements in our design - or at least, certainly not the latest - but still! Our CMS is up-to-date!

We've never had proper tech help here, which isn't to say those who have aided us over the years aren't highly appreciated. But if we had someone who could really dig in, there's a lot we'd like to do, in terms of upgrades, basic maintenance, and innovative creative ideas - that are probably pretty basic in tech terms - that would be super cool. Just sayin' - I have a long list for anyone who wants to jump in and do some awesome things together.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:29 AM | Permalink

REVEALED: The Boom And Bust Of The CIA's Secret Torture Sites

In Spring 2003, an unnamed official at CIA headquarters in Langley sat down to compose a memo. It was 18 months after George W Bush had declared war on terror. "We cannot have enough blacksite hosts," the official wrote. The reference was to one of the most closely guarded secrets of that war - the countries that had agreed to host the CIA's covert prison sites.

Between 2002 and 2008, at least 119 people disappeared into a worldwide detention network run by the CIA and facilitated by its foreign partners.

A mammoth investigation by the US Senate's intelligence committee finally identified these 119 prisoners in December 2014. But its report was heavily censored, and the names of countries collaborating with the CIA in its detention and interrogation operations were removed, along with key dates, numbers, names and much other material.

In nine months of research, the Bureau of Investigative Journalism and The Rendition Project have unpicked these redactions to piece together the hidden history of the CIA's secret sites.

Although many published accounts of individual journeys through the black site network exist, this is the first comprehensive portrayal of the system's inner dynamics from beginning to end.

Read the full report here.

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Previously:
* Doc Of Rages.

* 'Incommunicado' Forever: Gitmo Detainee's Case Stalled For 2,477 Days And Counting.

* They Said No To Torture.

* The Trews: What Should We Think About CIA Torture.

* The Tortured History Of The Senate Torture Report.

* Torture USA.

* The Best Reporting On Detention And Rendition Under Obama.

* Primer: Indefinite Detention And The NDAA.

* The Senate Report On CIA Interrogations You May Never See.

* Guantanamo: If The Light Goes Out.

* Torture USA.

* The Prison That Just Can't Be Closed.

* Barack Obama's Secret Island Prison.

* Guantanamo Prisoner Lifts Lid.

* Read The Fucking Torture Report, People.

* American Torture Story - Chicago Chapter.

* Obama Administration Blocks Release Of New Torture Details.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:41 AM | Permalink

Song Of The Moment: Go, Cubs, Go!

I've actually always liked this song, which I admitted to my friends earlier this season. I'm not sick of it at all.

Written and performed by: Steve Goodman

Released: 1984, as a single.

Length: 2:51

Label: Red Pajamas Records

Album: No Big Surprise, 1994

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From Wikipedia:

"Goodman was a lifelong Cubs fan. The song was written by Goodman at the request of WGN/720, which was the Cubs' radio broadcast partner."

gocubsgo.jpg

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"Goodman had in 1981 recorded 'A Dying Cub Fan's Last Request,' a song about the historic failures of the Cubs franchise, but had been banned from playing it at Wrigley Field. That song described the team as 'doormat of the National League' and referred to Wrigley Field as an 'ivy-covered burial ground.'"

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"At the time that WGN Program Director Dan Fabian requested the new song, 'It's a Beautiful Day for a Ball Game' by The Harry Simeone Songsters was the theme song. He had been motivated by Cubs manager Dallas Green's effort to change the team spirit. Goodman happened to be in town for a WGN radio talk show and was receptive to the idea of writing the team a new song."

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Lyrics:

Baseball season's underway
Well you better get ready for a brand new day.

Hey, Chicago, what do you say
The Cubs are gonna win today.

They're singing
Go, Cubs, go
Go, Cubs, go

Hey, Chicago, what do you say
The Cubs are gonna win today.

Go, Cubs, go
Go, Cubs, go

Hey, Chicago, what do you say
The Cubs are gonna win today.

They got the power, they got the speed
To be the best in the National League
Well this is the year and Cubs are real
So come on down to Wrigley Field

We're singing now

Go, Cubs, go
Go, Cubs, go
Hey, Chicago, what do you say
The Cubs are gonna win today.

Go, Cubs, go
Go, Cubs, go
Hey, Chicago, what do you say
The Cubs are gonna win today.

Baseball time is here again
You can catch it all on WGN
So stamp you feet and clap your hands
Chicago Cubs got the greatest fans.

You're singing now

Go, Cubs, go
Go, Cubs, go
Hey, Chicago, what do you say
The Cubs are gonna win today.

Go, Cubs, go
Go, Cubs, go
Hey, Chicago, what do you say
The Cubs are gonna win today

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A Tribute To Steve Goodman

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Manic Sewing Circle's ska-punk cover:

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Previously in Song of the Moment:
* Iron Man
* The Story of Bo Diddley
* Teach Your Children
* Dream Vacation
* When The Levee Breaks
* I Kissed A Girl
* Theme From Shaft
* Rocky Mountain High
* North to Alaska
* Barracuda
* Rainy Days and Mondays
* Brother, Can You Spare A Dime?
* Baby, It's Cold Outside
* Man in the Mirror
* Birthday Sex
* Rio
* My Sharona
* Alex Chilton
* Surfin' Bird
* By The Time I Get To Arizona
* Heaven and Hell
* Sunday Bloody Sunday
* Lawless One
* Tell It Like It Is
* The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald
* Lake Shore Drive
* On, Wisconsin!
* Anarchy in the U.K.
* Ballad of a Thin Man
* White Riot
* Know Your Rights
* Chicago Teacher
* Youngstown
* Over The Cliff
* Almost Gone (The Ballad of Bradley Manning)
* Party at the NSA
* V.E.N.T.R.A.
* Plutocrat (The Ballad of Bruce Rauner)
* Fight The Power
* Baltimore

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Plus:
* Mayor 1%.
* Songs Of The Runoff.

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See also:
* Songs of the Occupation: To Have And To Have Not
* Songs of the Occupation: Johnny 99

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:07 AM | Permalink

SCRABBLE For Literacy

Whether you're a parlor player or an experienced pro, here's your chance to compete in the 12th Annual SCRABBLE for Literacy Challenge!

Sponsored by Literacy Volunteers of Illinois (LVI) with support from local chapters of the North American SCRABBLE Players Association (NASPA), the SCRABBLE for Literacy Challenge will by held on Sunday, October 25th at the Grossinger Honda Center, 6600 N. Western Ave., Chicago from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m.

The event offers three ways to play: Competitive, Just for Fun, and NASPA Tournament.

If you choose the Competitive option, you can compete one-on-one to become the Chicago SCRABBLE champion! Official SCRABBLE rules will apply, but "Rule Breakers" will be available for purchase. First, second, and third place prizes will be awarded.

If you decide to go with the Just for Fun option, you simply sit down with a table of your friends to play an open game. Rules are set by those playing.

If you're ready for a serious challenge, you can play in the official NASPA eight-game tournament. You must be NASPA member to play. Register at www.cross-tables.com.

Other highlights of the day include: Beat the Champs, an opportunity to test your mettle against World and National SCRABBLE champs; Word Play, a challenge to find as many words as you can in a group of alphagrammed letters; and a raffle and silent auction featuring donations from local restaurants, businesses, and entertainment venues.

All proceeds will benefit adult literacy programs in Illinois, as well as the Jump Start program, which serves incarcerated youth.

Complimentary food and refreshments, including drinks from Revolution Brewery, will be available throughout the event.

Tickets are $25 for adults, $10 for teens, and children under 12 are admitted free. To register for the event, visit www.lvillinois.org/scrabble.aspx

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LVI is a statewide organization committed to developing and supporting volunteer literacy programs that help families, adults, and out-of-school teens increase their literacy skills. In addition, LVI is the founder of the Jump Start program, which matches volunteers, primarily retired teachers, to serve as one-to-one tutors and mentors to youth residing in the Illinois Youth Centers.

To find out more about LVI and becoming a literacy volunteer, call (312) 857-1582 or visit us at www.lvillinois.org.

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Scrabble for Literacy video!

*

Classic trailer! Basalqwa!

*

Wittier! Not from Illinois!

*

24th Annual On The Road To Literacy Conference:

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:34 AM | Permalink

Upping The Cubs' Nickname Game

With the Cubs advancing to the National League Championship Series, this team needs to up its nickname game to the level befitting a World Series contender. We'll help.

Kyle Schwarber: Schwarbs - see - seems to be the richest in possibility: We already favor Bam Bam, and Babe is fine too. But let's play around a little.

* Schwarbsy.

* The Schwarbster.

* The Schwarb Master.

* Charles Schwarb.

* Schwarberry Short Cake.

Jorge Soler: George Sun.

Anthony Rizzo: Tony. I mean, really. The only one calling him Anthony should be his mother. More possibilities:

* The Rizz, which accompanying song to the tune of "The Streak:" Oh yes they call him the Rizz/look at him look at him . . .

* A-Rizz.

* Rizzolo.

* Rizzuti.

* The Rizzmaster.

* Rizzarooni.

* Rizz-a-Roni.

David Ross: Diana?

* The Rosster.

* Ross-a-Roni.

Starlin Castro: Fidel is too easy; Raul too obscure. For the way he teases with talent and then makes the big mistake, we'll go with Starlin Cutler.

Kris Bryant: The Minnesota contingent of the Beachwood can't help but wanna call him Bobby. For everybody else . . .

* Kris-B-Kreme.

* KB (borrrrring!)

* Schwarbsy.

Dexter Fowler: Poin.

Jake Arrieta: The Snake is pretty well set.

Miguel Montero: The Miguelster!

Schwarber, Bryant, Rizzo: We caught ourselves calling them the Axis of Evil on Tuesday night, but they're too nice for that. Boyz II Men? 'NSync? The Backstreet Boys?

Jon Lester: Is morester?

Travis Got Wood: Um, Got.

Jason Hammel: Notgonnapitchhereagain.

Javy Baez: Bye-Bye Baez.

Jonathan Whererra?

Austin Action Jackson: A given.

Chris Denorfia: Chris Denotgonnaplayhereagainfia.

Chris Coghlan: Maddon calls him CC, but we prefer Coghlanewski.

Fernando Rodney: Obviously the Arrow.

Hector Rondontblowitintheninth.

Pedro The Strop.

Maddison Russell.

Tommy La Stella: Stinson.

Wrigley Field: Madhouse on Maddison.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 4:13 AM | Permalink

The Refund Kevin Trudeau Doesn't Want You To Know About

"The Federal Trade Commission plans to start refunding customers duped into buying fraudster Kevin Trudeau's diet book 'as soon as possible' after a judge gave final approval to the plan, its lawyer said," the Sun-Times Media Wire (whatever that is) reports.

"Calling it the 'fairest way we can do this,' U.S. District Judge Robert Gettleman gave his blessing [last] Wednesday to the FTC's proposal to use $8 million of Trudeau's fortune to begin compensating people who were conned through false infomercials into buying the TV pitchman's book.

"The book Trudeau promoted as 'an easy weight-loss program' actually offered a 500 calorie-a-day diet, off-label injections of a fertility drug, frequent colonics and 'extraordinary, lifelong' diet restrictions, according to the FTC."

Here's my favorite part:

Gettleman also shot down a counterproposal by Trudeau to send refunds only to people who have asked for one.

LOL.

"The FTC's proposed distribution will give a windfall to certain customers who will receive a check even though they were perfectly happy with Trudeau's book and do not want a refund," Kimball Anderson, an attorney for Trudeau, argued in a court filing last month.

LMAO. Windfall.

(Kimball Anderson, by the way, is a partner at Winston & Strawn and the firm is proud of his work on behalf of Trudeau.)

*

Click through for the rest of this priceless saga.

-

Previously:
* Infomercial Review: More Natural Cures Revealed By Kevin Trudeau.

* What I Watched Last Night: Infomercial Armageddon.

* Local TV Notes: Kevin Trudeau Could've Been President.

* Kevin Trudeau's Jailhouse Jig.

* Estate Sale At Kevin Trudeau's Mansion.

* The Infomercial King Was Good. Real Good.

* And . . .

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Plus: Kevin Trudeau: I Went to Prison for Secret Society Mission Undercover.

The Global Information Network, by the way, still exists - apparently based out of Tinley Park, or maybe Wheaton.

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Bonus Trudeau:

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 2:50 AM | Permalink

Chicagoetry: Longshadow

Longshadow

Every fall
I pretend I'm tall,

Lingering in the garden
Just after dawn where
Every long shadow is

A partial eclipse
Of the lawn.

Summer's short lease
Is waked by a
Blood moon over

The black lake,
Then begins
The earthbound borealis

Of gorgeous death:
"Triage in the foliage!"

Shocking gold,
Shimmering pink, burnt auburn
And beyond,

Silent fireworks
Whose brilliance sustains,
A heat-less conflagration

Undaunted by the wind-chilled
Rain.

Here's the simple refreshment
Of change: the lowering sun
Re-boots the light,

The ground more yellow,
The sky more white
(Like cream in blueberry tea).

Arrange the gourd,
The maize, the
Cinnamon bound:

In ritual we reify
What was lost, what was found,
What was never around.

Laments both sacred
And mundane: where went love?
Who lost life?

I wish I was taller, thinner,
Had more discipline at dinner,
Then the recurring dream

Of the return to campus,
For the protected realm
Of the mind, and the loin.

Indeed:
"The promise of new love . . .
Mingled with pain,"

A harvest
Of things
And experiences,

An all-too-brief
Pause to gather,
To savor, to witness

And to mourn.

In every turning leaf
A lifetime of accumulated
Grief.

I say:

Savor quaint pleasures
Before they pass
Because the pain

Is what tends to last.
Joy dies fast

And will fall
Like a leaf -
Like a life -

Back into the earth.

Now: A sturdy boot,
A layer of wool,
The belled and tasseled cap

Of the Fool.

Every turning leaf
Inures; another churning year
Steadfastly

(Unwittingly?)

Endured.

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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 12:23 AM | Permalink

October 13, 2015

The [Tuesday] Papers

Just as I did for four hours one day last week, I had to fight, battle, cajole, negotiate, cope - pick a word (or two) - with the machinery of the State of Illinois bureaucracy this morning. Because they got it wrong at least two different ways last week. I'm skeptical the situation, which I will not get into here quite yet, is resolved. In fact, I'm fairly certain that I will go to my grave with this being an open case.

I can make some observations about my morning that may amuse you, though:

* There is an Arby's in the Thompson Center (nee State of Illinois Building) food court. Every time I see an Arby's, I confirm to myself that they not only still exist, but people apparently still eat their product. By the way, did you know that Arby's is simply the way you say RB's, as in Roast Beef?

* Seeing an Arby's there made me wonder about how they and the other vendors there got their contracts, because this is not just the State of Illinois but the State of Illinois Building - in Chicago. So the contracts there have to be dirtier than an Aramark school's bathroom.

Which reminded me of this: Politics Snarl O'Hare: "Daley seems determined to protect the cookie jar of jobs, concessions, contracts and economic largesse that is O'Hare. His administration, the Tribune has found, has manipulated statistics to downplay the need for a new airport near the Will County town of Peotone."

Which reminded me of this: Ann Marie's World: "Like just about anyone else who has flown in or out of Chicago in the past few years, Ann Marie Lipinski has a story to tell about a simple trip gone awry. Last summer, her flight home from Miami was rerouted due to weather. The plane, Lipinski says they told her, would get to O'Hare by way of Washington, D.C. They landed instead in Knoxville, Tennessee, and that was where Lipinski spent the night.

"Unlike just about anyone else who has flown in or out of Chicago, however, Lipinski has access to more than 600 employees and a printing press. At the time of her disjointed journey, she was the Chicago Tribune's managing editor, the second-highest post in the newsroom. She had the means to respond - not just for herself, but for all the travelers among her readership so ill served by an outmoded air traffic system. So with a little imagination and a lot of logistical magic, Lipinski and her team of loyal editors dispatched reporters to seven airports and five control towers to chronicle a day in the life of air travel in America. Twenty-six reporters in all contributed to the project. Their findings appeared in the paper last November, Lipinski's personal nightmare transformed into a four-part series called 'Gateway to Gridlock.'"

And sitting in the Thompson Center also reminded me of this, which sadly is not available online: "Lord Jim: Former governor Jim Thompson was considered Presidential material when he left Springfield in 1991. Instead, he's using his clout to get rich as a lawyer and lobbyist."

* I was starving so I actually ate something at the food court there (I wasn't doing business at the Thompson Center, just switching from the Green Line to Blue). My patience having already been sapped, I vowed to simply buy my lunch from the shortest line available. Sadly, that was Burger King. There wasn't any line at all. At noon. The line at Taco Bell, on the other hand, was almost as long as at the state office I had just visited.

There was one interesting thing about the Burger King, though: the weird, confusing soda dispenser. One pour button for 100+ drink choices, chosen category-by-category (diet, caffeine, every other permutation of everything, with a variety of flavors). I had a Diet Vanilla Coke.

drinks.jpg

Oh, and there was no ice. At least I couldn't find any. But I was scared.

* Whoever managed the contract for the El cars with facing seats must've gotten a huge kickback, because those cars DO NOT WORK AT ALL. On a number of levels, including inducing dizziness both before and after Burger King.

Not my first time on those cars, but something I think about every single time I find myself on one.

* I remain amazed at grown men who look like mommy dressed them. And I'm the one who's supposed to grow up? Be a man, dammit!

You grow up and you calm down
You're working for the clampdown
You start wearing the blue and brown
You're working for the clampdown

"The wearing of the 'blue and brown' refers to the color of the uniforms that are mostly worn by workers. This idea goes along with lyrics that refer to 'young believers' who are brought and bought into the capital system by those 'working for the clampdown' who will 'teach with twisted speech.'"

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Pretty Photos, Small Companies: How Obama Is Selling The TPP
Omitted from the report: any overt sign that big U.S. corporations, which have pushed for the deal, stand to gain.

Exclusive: U.S. Probes Allegations AB InBev Seeking To Curb Craft Beer Distribution
Small craft brewers have already been rattled by AB InBev's purchases of craft beer makers, including Golden Road in September, Blue Point Brewing in 2014 and Goose Island Beer Co in 2011.

-

BeachBook

*

-

TweetWood
A sampling.

*

Likewise, the Readerette.

*

-

The Beachwood Tip Line: Working against the clampdown.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:52 PM | Permalink

Pretty Photos, Small Companies: How The White House Is Selling The TPP

Crystal tumblers of Kentucky bourbon and Tennessee whiskey, on the rocks. Maine lobster and Maryland blue crabs, garnished with lemon slices. An adorable black Montana steer, staring head on into the camera.

These American-as-apple-pie images from a report released last Wednesday are ones the White House wants to spring to mind when Americans think about the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a sprawling 12-nation Pacific Rim trade deal that President Barack Obama has to sell to the U.S. Congress.

But even as Obama's top trade advisers extolled the 18,000 TPP "tax cuts" on a conference call with reporters, they were quickly overshadowed by the political headwinds that will buffet its passage.

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton said she rejected the deal, aligning herself with skeptics from labor and environmental groups who argue the deal will kill U.S. jobs.

Obama has said he is confident the deal will pass Congress, but he will need to count on Republicans for support. Republican Senator Orrin Hatch, the influential chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, has already said his colleagues have concerns and "quite a few" votes could be lost.

The White House will post the hefty text of the document on a website in the next few weeks, after lawyers have finished going over it.

In the meantime, it released a glossy state-by-state report to frame the benefits, complete with pictures and factoids.

Food figures prominently. Obama said last Tuesday that farmers, coming from every state and both Democratic and Republican districts, could help convince Congress to pass the TPP.

But North Carolina is represented by colorful spools of yarn, not tobacco plants. Republican senators from the tobacco-exporting state are angry that the TPP would let governments block tobacco companies from suing over anti-smoking measures.

Omitted from the report: any overt sign that big U.S. corporations, which have pushed for the deal, stand to gain.

Illinois is represented by a bulldozer, without mentioning Caterpillar Inc. Minnesota is illustrated with packaging tape, but the report does not explain that the headquarters of 3M Co. is located in the state.

Instead, the report showcases small businesses like Colorado's Crazy Mountain Brewing Company, whose craft beer has been priced out of Vietnam, Japan, Malaysia and Australia because of high tariffs.

"If you were to get rid of some of these tariffs, all of a sudden, we become more competitive in the marketplaces out there," said Kevin Selvy, Crazy Mountain's chief executive, on a conference call organized by the White House.

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Previously:
* Obama's Top Trans-Pacific Partnership Officials Were Given Millions By Banks Before Taking The Job.

* Dear Obama: If You Think Our Opposition To #TPP Is Based On "Rumors," Why Don't You Stop Negotiating It In Secret?

* Obama Admin Bars U.S. Senators From Letting Their Staff Or Experts See The Text Of The TPP Free Trade Deal.

* The Obama Administration Is Actively Misleading The Public About Fast Track And The #TPP. We Debunk Their Lies.

* The White House Has Gone Full Doublespeak On Fast Track And The TPP.

* This Shouldn't Be Necessary, But It Is: @wikileaks Offers $100,000 For The Text Of The TPP, Crowdsourcing The Funds.

* FROM THE TPP TO THE ACA: Silence Invaded The (Corporate News) Suburbs!

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

* Special Report: State Department Watered Down Human Trafficking Report. Guess Why.

* Meet The Lawmakers-Turned-Lobbyists Who Opposed Free Trade But Cashed In On The TPP.

* The Beachwood Radio Hour #47: What Chicagoans Aren't Being Told. Homan Square, the NSA, the CIA, the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

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See also:
* EFF: What Is The TPP?

* EFF: The Final Leaked TPP Is All That We Feared.

* Elizabeth Warren: The Trans-Pacific Partnership Clause Everyone Should Oppose.

* Atlantic: Is the Trans-Pacific Partnership Unconstitutional?

* TPP: Bad For Wisconsin Working Families.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:36 AM | Permalink

Exclusive: U.S. Probes Allegations AB InBev Seeking To Curb Craft Beer Distribution

The U.S. Justice Department is probing allegations that Anheuser-Busch InBev is seeking to curb competition in the beer market by buying distributors, making it harder for fast-growing craft brewers to get their products on store shelves, according to three people familiar with the matter.

In the past few months, the world's largest brewer has rattled the craft beer world by striking deals for five distributors in three states. Many states require brewers to use distributors to sell their product, and once AB InBev buys a distributor, craft companies say they find that they can't distribute their beer as easily and sales growth stalls.

2015-10-12T205802Z_3_LYNXNPEB9B0Y6_RTROPTP_3_ABINBEV-RESULTS.JPGAntitrust regulators are also reviewing craft brewers' claims that AB InBev pushes some independent distributors to only carry the company's products and end their ties with the craft industry, two of the sources said, noting that the investigation was in its early stages. AB InBev's purchase of several craft beer makers in recent years means that it is in a position to offer a greater variety of products itself.

State regulators in California, where AB InBev announced wholesaler purchases in Oakland and San Jose in September, are also looking into the matter, the people familiar with the matter said.

The beer giant confirmed that it was talking to regulators. "Anheuser-Busch has been in communication with the Department of Justice and California attorney general's office about the transactions. We are working cooperatively to address any questions they have," an Anheuser-Busch spokesperson said in an e-mail.

Craft brewers, who produce everything from well-crafted classics to odd flavors such as pumpkin or raspberry beer, have been a bright spot in an otherwise dull U.S. beer market. While beer sales rose 0.5 percent in 2014, craft beer sales rose by 17.6 percent to capture 11 percent of the U.S. market.

The Justice Department review comes at an awkward time for AB InBev as it is seeking to buy No.2 SABMiller Plc for more than $100 billion in what would be the biggest-ever merger of brewers. AB InBev is widely expected to sell SABMiller's stake in U.S.-based MillerCoors if the merger goes through, leaving its U.S. market share unchanged at 46.4 percent.

Small craft brewers have already been rattled by AB InBev's purchases of craft beer makers, including Golden Road in September, Blue Point Brewing in 2014 and Goose Island Beer Co in 2011.

As AB InBev also snaps up distributors, craft brewers have expressed concern that the company would push distributors to only carry its products.

To retain the craft title, a brewery must make less than 6 million barrels annually. That means those that get taken over by a big brewer like AB InBev lose that identity even if they still make small batches with distinctive flavors.

It was not clear if other state regulators were looking at the recent purchases of two distributors in Colorado and one in New York as well.

The Justice Department declined comment. The attorney generals' offices for California, New York and Colorado did not respond to requests for comment.

QUICKLY STALLED

Nikos Ridge, CEO of Ninkasi Brewing Co in Oregon, said that when two of his distributors were bought by AB InBev in 2011 and 2012, he saw what had been healthy sales growth quickly stall until it found alternative distributors.

"Our feeling was that we weren't getting the same level of representation," said Ridge. "We saw our trends drop and we have seen improvements since we've switched."

An executive at a second craft brewer, who asked not to be named, said that AB InBev had recently bought one of its distributors. "It (the distributor) is slowly but surely divesting itself of everything that is not ABI. And we're one of the last ones," said the executive, who noted that its other options for distribution were limited. "We're at the mercy of a lot of big players."

Their experience is not unique. Conversations with at least four other craft brewers told the same story.

There were some 4,000 craft beer companies as of September, brewing everything from artfully made classics like Dale's Pale Ale, Brooklyn Lager and Gordon Biersch Hefeweizen, as well as quirky brews like Breckenridge Vanilla Porter, and the super hoppy Palate Wrecker from Green Flash Brewing Co.

A handful of antitrust experts say that craft brewers have a case, albeit not an easy one.

The authorities could step in if AB InBev bought so many distributors that craft brewers lost significant access to a local market, said Jonathan Lewis, an antitrust expert at the law firm Baker Hostetler LLP. He estimated that the breaking point could be when AB InBev owned some 50 percent of distributors in a given area.

Andy Gavil, a former head of the Federal Trade Commission's Office of Policy Planning who now teaches antitrust law at Howard University Law School, said he believes the problem could be resolved by scrapping a requirement for alcoholic beverages to go through liquor distributors in most U.S. states. That would allow the craft brewers to go directly to the supermarkets, liquor stores and bars.

"There are some older justifications that it's about preventing underage sales but since the ultimate sale is done by a retailer, that's a bogus argument," Gavil said.

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Beachwood Bonus Material:

It's sort of like in Road House when Brad Wesley had the distributors stop delivering beer to the Double Deuce, until Dalton found Jim.

"I've called every supplier I know. Why won't they deliver?"

And then this:

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See also:
* Craft Beer Boom Prompts States To Ease Laws In Bid For Revenue.

* Craft Brewers Are Finding Loopholes In Big Beer's Distribution System.

* Illinois Beer Bill Passes; Will Allow Craft Brewers To Grow.

* U.S. Judge Overturns Wirtz Law On Liquor.

* Wine And Spirits Fair Dealing Act.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:56 AM | Permalink

October 12, 2015

The Truth About Joe Maddon

Look, we've had a lot of fun around here talking about the magical mysticism of Joe Maddon, but that's all in fun. In truth, Maddon is neither sprinkling holy water on his lineup cards nor playing hunches. As a sabermetrician, he is in diametrical opposition to hunches. I'd like to see us get it right, so we can understand the truth about the man's managing.

Instead, even the city's best sportswriter - by far - has fallen for the latest Cubs myth:

"Who takes out his hottest hitter and replaces him with another rookie and then gets a two-run homer as if it is exactly what he expected to get?" Bernie Lincicome wrote after the Cubs beat the Cards in Game 2 of the NLDS the other night. ["Shaft!" - Tim Willette]

"Manager Joe Maddon, the mad alchemist, that's who. He shakes his beaker and pronounces today's brew ready and darned if it isn't. What has no business being anything is not only good enough, not only remarkable enough but satisfying enough."

Please.

The reason why Maddon took Kyle Schwarber out of the starting lineup on Saturday and put Jorge Soler in is clear enough: Schwarber sucks against lefthanders and the Cardinals were starting a lefthander. Maddon even said so - straight up.

"For me, honestly, his body of work [against lefties], in general, has not been very good," Maddon told reporters

Indeed, Schwarber hit just .143 (8-for-56 with 27 strikeouts) against lefthanders during the regular season.

How do you get the best performances out of your entire roster? Put them in the best positions to succeed. Starting Schwarber on Saturday would not have been doing that.

Meanwhile, Soler. It was either him or Chris Coghlan. Maddon said he chose Soler because the liked the energy he brought on the basepaths as a pinch-hitter in Game 1.

Soler also has a .370 career OBP vs. lefties as a major leaguer (compared to .311 vs. righties); Coghlan's OBP against lefties is .208 (compared to .355 vs. righties).

You don't need to shake a beaker to figure that one out.

That doesn't mean Maddon merely lets the stats dictate his lineups. But what some people call "playing hunches" is really the work of an observational master who knows who's hurting, who's confidence is up and down, who needs a rest or even who is having personal problems. That's the secret sauce a great manager lays down over the analytics.

In the case of the Cubs, the analytics department is comprised of about 40 people, which is pretty amazing, running permutations and simulations of every combination and scenario they can think of. Maddon gets the results, surveys his locker room and figures it out with the touch of a boss with superior people skills - that's what sets him apart.

In the wild card game against the Pirates, for example, Cub Nation was aghast at Maddon's decision to start Tommy La Stella at third. First, haven't y'all learned by now that Maddon knows what he's doing? Not that he should be immune from questioning, but that a certain benefit of the doubt has been earned, and the question isn't really "Why in the world is Maddon doing that?" but "Let's try to figure out why in the world Maddon is doing that!"

People forget that LaStella began the season as the team's starting second baseman, and only seems like a utility player because he's been hurt most of the way. He's capable. Also, Maddon started Kris Bryant in left field and Kyle Schwarber in right field. In a one-game, do-or-die playoff game. Why? Maddon wanted to put his best nine bats in the game and go for an early lead. So he chose the bats (with the best match-ups against Pirates starter Gerrit Cole) first, then figured out where to play them. He could've put LaStella in left, really. But given the sort of contact that Cubs starter Jake Arrieta gives up, infield defense is more highly valued than outfield defense.

Having gotten the lead, Maddon switched to his defensive replacements.

On the other side of the diamond, reformed Old Schooler Clint Hurdle, now a sabermetric evangelist, did much the same, but in his team's case, he went for speed and defense to start, leaving Pedro Alvarez and Aramis Ramirez on the bench. Once the Pirates got down early, out came the boppers.

Similarly, there was nothing but logic behind the pair of squeeze bunts the Cubs put down on Saturday.

"The manager had been thinking about this day - or at least a day like it - for weeks now," Jayson Stark wrote for ESPN.

"Everything has to be set up properly for that," Maddon said. "It just was. I mean, that happens every so often, I guess a harvest moon, possibly, I don't know. But it's one of those things that you look for, you work toward, but it doesn't always present itself.

In other words, he was prepared for just such a moment for a squeeze bunt (or two) to present itself - and it did.

"There is a lot of setup involved in making that play work," Maddon said postgame. "Sometimes you have to wait maybe a month or two months to have it happen, and furthermore, you have to have the right people to execute it, honestly. So it just happened tonight that everything was set up well. The things we talked about in September showed up on Oct. 10. It's just one of those things."

Some managers are not so prepared - and neither, then, are their players. Not so with Maddon's.

When asked if he was shocked to see that second squeeze sign, Russell shook his head and said, "No, I anticipated it."

Before this season, Russell had laid down one sacrifice bunt in his professional career. But after he was traded to the Cubs in the middle of the 2014 season, his Double-A manager, Buddy Bailey, convinced him to practice his bunting every day.

"At the time, I was like, 'OK,' but I know now it's key," Russell said. "It's something I can incorporate in my game, and I think I can get better at it too."

He took it seriously enough, even after reaching the big leagues, that his manager took definite notice. Maddon hit Russell with the bunt sign four times in the last two weeks of September - again, with an eye toward a moment such as this. Russell rewarded that faith in September with two bunt hits and a sacrifice. So when that bunt sign came around again Saturday, he swore he wasn't shocked.

"I anticipated it - really," Russell said. "That's just something I bring to my game. And all these guys in this clubhouse do. We anticipate something that's out of the norm. We're just ready for that."

There are no magic beans involved. That's the old way. The new way is magical, but not magic.

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The Week In Review: The Cubs went 3-1 last week, beating the Brewers in the regular-season finale, dispatching the Pirates in the one-game wild-card game, and splitting the first two games against the Cards in the best-of-five NLDS. You knew that, but can you believe just a week ago they were playing the Brewers?

The Week In Preview: Games Monday, Tuesday and (if necessary) Thursday against the Cardinals. This week could be even better than last week.

The Second Basemen Report: Starlin Castro got all four starts at second last week. What a world.

In former Cubs second basemen news, Footsie Blair last played second base for the Cubs in 1931. His real name was Clarence, and he could also play first and third. He is missed.

Mad(don) Scientist: Think of him more as writing code than wearing a white lab coat and mixing up a batch of bewitching chemicals.

Wishing Upon A Starlin: Starlin Castro got all four starts at second last week. What a world.

Kubs Kalender: Is this year finally here? I can't tell by looking at my Cubs calender through this blurry, salty discharge.

Ameritrade Stock Pick Of The Week: Though White Sox Resentment is trading at an all-time high, we still rate it a BUY because the sky's the limit.

Over/Under: Goat stuff this week: +/- 1 million.

Beachwood Sabermetrics: A complex algorithm performed by The Cub Factor staff using all historical data made available by Major League Baseball has determined that next year is not guaranteed.

Touch 'Em All: The Cub Factor archives.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:53 AM | Permalink

The [Monday] Papers

"Mayor Rahm Emanuel's office was more involved in a $20.5 million school contract with a now-indicted consultant than previously disclosed, public records indicate, but his administration has refused to release hundreds of e-mails that could provide a deeper understanding of how the deal came to be," the Tribune reports.

I think when all is said and done with this administration, we're going to find out that Rahm Emanuel's office was more involved with Rahm Emanuel's office than we've been led to believe.

Has there ever been an elected official around these parts so quick to take the credit for occurrences to which he only has the slightest tangential relationship and so quick to deflect the blame for that which lay directly upon his shoulders?

I think not!

Even when Emanuel does "own" something that's gone wrong, he does so with the false magnanimity of an insincere pol whose political calculation has determined that he'll be better perceived by taking responsibility, even if he's not to blame. "Quick, find me something to own!" I can hear him barking at his aides. "I need to look magnanimous today!"

He probably commissions polls to find out what he should own and what he should blame on Daley, Springfield, the old ways, gun laws, poor black people's values, teachers or you.

Rahm Emanuel is like the cunning political antithesis to the George Costanza who found great success when he did the opposite of everything he'd ever done in his life, which had only brought him failure. In Rahm's case, he succeeds by pretending the opposite of reality. He's a reality-fucker. He fucks with reality.

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Back to the Trib:

"Emanuel and his aides have maintained that the mayor's office had nothing to do with the contract to provide leadership training for principals that is at the center of a federal bribery indictment against ex-schools CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett and the consulting firm where she once worked."

This is odd to me, because at least one Emanuel aide actually questioned the contract - in a way that no member of the school board we're aware of did. The Sun-Times reported on Friday that Barbara Byrd-Bennett was (faux) livid when the mayor's top education aide questioned the SUPES contract. Does this not reflect at least partially well on the Emanuel administration?

To wit:

Just before 6:30 p.m. on June 24, 2013, a CPS deputy press secretary asked the district's then-personnel director, Alicia Winckler, and an official in charge of hiring principals for more information about the proposal that was set to come to the Board of Ed. for approval less than 48 hours later.

"There is some concern that we're spending a large sum on some principals while laying off others, and teachers," deputy press secretary David Miranda wrote, saying the questions had come to CPS from the mayor's office.

Now, why the mayor's office would seek out the CPS press office for answers - just like us reporter mopes - instead of going directly to the source doesn't make sense to me. I'd joke that maybe they can't get answers out of CPS either, but let's face it, they are CPS.

Anyway:

According to Miranda, who referred to Byrd-Bennett as B3 - the nickname the mayor used for her - City Hall wanted to know the answers to these questions:

"Can you tell us how much money is spent on principal development in total? Where does SUPES fit into that - does it replace a previous training regimen, is it supplemental? Where does the money come from? Is this one of B3's pillars? Do we have any principals or third-party validators who could speak favorably about the program? Any additional info you can provide on the program, especially its benefits and value vs. cost?"

Though that e-mail wasn't addressed to her, Byrd-Bennett, told about it, instructed Winckler to tell the mayor's office that SUPES - which had been working for CPS on a more limited basis - was the "principal training vehicle for the district . . . previously disjointed and multiple strategies were used."

Byrd-Bennett told Winckler it "should be noted" that SUPES works for the American Association of School Administrators. That group cut ties to SUPES after federal agents served subpoenas to CPS in April and raided the offices of SUPES, which was based in Wilmette.

"Would they like for me to answer directly?" Byrd-Bennett asked.

Winckler told her she'd handle the response. That evening, Winckler sent a lengthy reply, telling City Hall, "SUPES is uniquely qualified for this work."

The top spokeswoman for CPS at the time, Becky Carroll, wrote that she was "calling Lisa to explain."

Again, it's hard to understand why CPS's media people are involved in this, except to say that Carroll, who would later leave CPS to run Rahm's mayoral Super PAC, was essentially his eyes and ears there.

Lisa Schrader, at that time Emanuel's chief of staff, said Friday the questions about SUPES had come from her after schools official presented the agenda for their next board meeting to the mayor's office.

So the agenda item raised eyebrows at City Hall (just as it did for Sarah Karp, the Catalyst reporter who broke the story) and they started asking tons of questions - they do understand reporters' jobs!

And then Byrd-Bennett did to City Hall what City Hall so often does to us: stonewalled. Now you know how it feels!

Angry at being questioned about the $20.5 million, no-bid contract she was about to hand to her former employers at the SUPES Academy, Byrd-Bennett wrote Emanuel aide Beth Swanson: "I cannot be second-guessed like this."

Now here's the really interesting part in terms of Rahm's media strategy, which will bring us back to today's Tribune story shortly:

CPS officials initially declined to release Byrd-Bennett's June 24, 2013, e-mail to Swanson, citing an exemption in the state's open-records law for correspondence involving "preliminary" deliberations. But in the wake of the indictments, officials said, "CPS believes that the public interest is best served by the release."

Of course, that's not how the state's open-records law works, but City Hall (no doubt Rahm himself, personally) figured out that it would make them look good politically to now release an e-mail chain that showed them pushing back against the SUPES contract.

Of course, that leaves unanswered the question of why Rahm's school board displayed no such curiosity that we're aware of.

In July, Swanson told the Sun-Times she was so concerned about a potential conflict that she raised questions to the school board about the relationship between Byrd-Bennett and Solomon in advance of the SUPES vote.

"But this was the board's decision, and they were comfortable moving forward," Swanson said.

David Vitale, then the board president, said he had "no recollection of talking to" Swanson about SUPES.

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With all of that in mind, let's return to today's Trib:

When asked in April if his administration had any role at all in the SUPES contract, Emanuel told reporters, "No, you obviously know that by all the information available. And so the answer to that is no."

Yet the mayor's office and schools officials have been in an ongoing struggle with the Tribune over reporters' public records requests that could bear directly on the controversy, withholding many e-mails for months before releasing them, several so heavily redacted that little more than the subject line and addresses remain.

The Emanuel administration has declined to provide about half of the roughly 1,000 emails requested. As part of that fight, the Tribune in June sued the city under the state Freedom of Information Act after the mayor's office redacted or withheld about two dozen emails emanating from Emanuel's office.

What that says to me is that the e-mails released to the Sun-Times were the ones that made the Emanuel administration look as good as they're gonna look in this case - and the rest make them look really, really bad.

By early 2013, efforts to expand the program were growing, and e-mails obtained by the Tribune show SUPES' co-owners and CPS officials discussing how to secure more money to broaden the training. Some of those e-mails were exchanged on the same day in May that CPS officials were scheduled to meet with Emanuel. The e-mails often referenced the phrase "CELA," shorthand for the Chicago Executive Leadership Academy, an Emanuel-backed initiative to train school leaders.

In one e-mail, the CPS official shepherding the SUPES contract, Alicia Winckler, received an update from a procurement officer about how much money had already been spent on SUPES, expressing concern about a budget "gap/shortfall" in the near future unless a new contract is approved. At almost the exact same time, Winckler was e-mailing SUPES' co-owners, Solomon and firm President Tom Vranas, with the subject line "Budget." The Tribune has not received that e-mail.

Then just hours before the meeting with the mayor, Winckler sent an e-mail to Robert Boik, a top aide to Byrd-Bennett, with the subject line "Mayor's Report DRAFT for Talent." As the "talent officer" for the district, Winckler headed the department responsible for principal recruitment and training. The administration has withheld the e-mail containing that report.

Within hours, Boik was scheduled to attend the "Vision/Action plan" meeting in Emanuel's office with the mayor, Byrd-Bennett, Swanson, other top Emanuel aides and two members of the school board, David Vitale and Jesse Ruiz, according to the mayor's calendar.

About a month later there was another series of e-mails between key players prior to an education meeting with Emanuel.

The back-and-forth on one string in June was completely redacted by CPS except for the message Swanson wrote to Byrd-Bennett: "Getting my frustration out today via email!"

The subject line on that email was "Next wed." Because it is redacted it is hard to know what was discussed. But the following Wednesday, Emanuel was scheduled to meet with Swanson, Byrd-Bennett, school board members Ruiz and Vitale, the board chairman, according to the mayor's calendar.

Then the day of the meeting with the mayor - two weeks before the board vote - CPS officials forwarded around and discussed several SUPES-related emails, including one titled "SUPES Board report." School officials did not provide those e-mails to the Tribune, but that title is the same one used for the summary report to the school board outlining the no-bid contract.

In the final days leading up to the June 26 school board meeting, the mayor's office was involved in a flurry of communications with Byrd-Bennett and her top deputies about SUPES, according to e-mail logs and the e-mail records provided by the Emanuel administration. That included e-mails between SUPES co-owner Solomon and the contract's overseer at CPS, Winckler.

In an e-mail thread titled "City Hall questions on SUPES," a CPS aide states, "The Mayor's Office has asked us for additional information on the SUPES board report." The questions included where the money is coming from and if there are any principals or others outside CPS who could speak favorably about the SUPES program, according to the e-mail . . .

As those e-mails were shuttling back and forth, another email thread shows Solomon communicating regularly with Winckler, telling her Byrd-Bennett and Swanson were on the phone late into the night after the City Hall questions were raised.

"She was pissed," Solomon wrote of Byrd-Bennett.

Solomon followed up, asking if there had been any word back from City Hall. He said he understood Emanuel aide Swanson and Byrd-Bennett had spoken but added he wasn't sure where the school board chairman stood on the deal.

"Vitale is my concern," Solomon wrote.

At the board meeting the next day, Vitale and Ruiz were part of the school board's 6-0 vote to approve the SUPES contract without discussion.

And, of course:

"Neither Emanuel, his aides nor his communications office would answer detailed Tribune questions based on the e-mail and meeting records."

*

Finally:

"A log of e-mails from the mayor's office showed Swanson, the mayor's education point person, sending or receiving SUPES-related messages more than a dozen times during the days before the board vote.

"But Swanson's responses were not included in the documents turned over to the Tribune. The mayor's office has declined to release what emails it has in its possession from this chain, stating those emails are covered by an exemption in the state law for 'preliminary drafts, notes, recommendations, memoranda and other records in which opinions are expressed, or policies or actions are formulated.'"

And now remember this response from the administration to the Sun-Times from earlier in this column:

CPS officials initially declined to release Byrd-Bennett's June 24, 2013, e-mail to Swanson, citing an exemption in the state's open-records law for correspondence involving "preliminary" deliberations. But in the wake of the indictments, officials said, "CPS believes that the public interest is best served by the release."

The truth is CPS is being directed by City Hall to best serve the interests of the mayor through a selective releasing of documents that are rightly the property of the public. To Rahm Emanuel, this scandal isn't anything to learn from but simply a political problem to solve.

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The Cub Factor: The Truth About Joe Maddon
Better than magic beans and beakers.

Exclusive! Inside The USS Illinois
Another Beachwood Special Report.

The Weekend In Chicago Rock
Featuring: Red Lions, Johnny Osbourne, COIN, Colony House, Wet, Sonny Vincent, Fatal Figures, Danger Signs, Fire Retarded, Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb, The New Sex and Drugs, Papadosio, and Armor For Sleep.

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BeachBook

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TweetWood
A sampling.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Hittin' and runnin'.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:30 AM | Permalink

The Weekend In Chicago Rock

You shoulda been there.

1. Red Lions at the Empty Bottle on Saturday night.


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2. Johnny Osbourne at the Double Door on Friday night.

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3. COIN at Subterranean on Friday night.

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4. Colony House at Subterranean on Friday night.

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5. Wet at the Empty Bottle on Thursday night.

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6. Sonny Vincent at the Empty Bottle on Saturday night.

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7. Fatal Figures at the Empty Bottle on Saturday night.

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8. Danger Signs at the Empty Bottle on Saturday night.

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9. Fire Retarded at the Empty Bottle on Saturday night.

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10. Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb at the Empty Bottle on Saturday night.

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11. The New Sex and Drugs at Beat Kitchen on Thursday night.

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12. Papadosio at House of Blues on Friday night.

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13. Armor For Sleep at the Metro on Friday night.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:33 AM | Permalink

Exclusive! Inside The USS Illinois

First Lady Michelle Obama and Gov. Bruce Rauner were on hand in Connecticut over the weekend for the christening of the USS Illinois.

"The $2.7 billion vessel is the 13th in the Virginia class of submarines, which can carry out a range of missions including anti-submarine warfare, delivery of special forces and surveillance. The 377-foot submarine will carry a crew of more than 130 and a payload of weapons including torpedoes and Tomahawk missiles," AP reports.

"The crest of the submarine features an outline of the state of Illinois, a white-tailed deer in honor of the state animal and foliage representing Illinois forest and prairie life. It also has a banner with the Latin words 'Nemo Magis Fortiter,' or 'none more brave,' a line from the Illinois state song."

Those aren't the only Illinois touches. A Beachwood investigation has found the sub has a few other features particular to its Illinois lineage:

* Moody's has already rated it junk.

* At Rauner's insistence, swabbies are non-union and the mess is a right-to-work zone.

* Michael Madigan controls a supermajority of the sub's sailors.

* The Hunt for Budget October already in development.

* Built by Caterpillar, financed by Amalgamated, mobbed up by the Grand Avenue crew, and prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney.

* Huge Ditka mustache on the front.

* The ship's brig is called Club Fed.

* Janitors provided by Aramark.

* Accommodates both Seals and Jesse White's Tumblers.

* Only restaurant onboard is the Park Grill.

* Chain of command must present credentials to Cook County slating committee every four years.

* Project used a lot of asphalt, for some reason.

* Better than USS Indiana but not nearly as good as USS Minnesota.

* Unable to dock at Navy Pier due to typical governmental lack of foresight.

* Rod Blagojevich on KP duty.

* Gambling on international waters subject to Chicago amusement tax.

* All Emergency Action Messages will go through Sneed.

* Innovative sonar will detect the presence of an FBI surveillance wire.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:34 AM | Permalink

October 10, 2015

The Weekend Desk Report

"St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay turned down the traditional friendly bet on the playoff series between the Cubs and Cardinals, according to Mayor Rahm Emanuel's office," the Tribune reports.

"Emanuel proffered the usual assortment of Chicago beers, deep-dish pizza and Eli's cheesecake, plus tickets to Chicago tours and a donation to charity as the city's offering if the Cubs lose to their hated rivals from Missouri in the National League Division Series. But Emanuel spokeswoman Kelley Quinn said Slay declined to reciprocate."

Maybe that's because:

A) Rahm can't name three current Cubs and obviously isn't sincere.

B) That's the same package Rahm offers every mayor whom he bets sports with. Try, dammit! His aides probably put it together without him. It's become so perfunctory a piece of political theater we all know the package of goods by heart. We're in an age of personalized marketing. St. Louis Cards Against Humanity was just waiting there for you.

C) The Cardinals are in the playoffs every year, they don't need to bet with mayors of their opponents' cities. That's for newbies.

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Or perhaps there was an incident:

"Mayors and police chiefs of 20 cities, including St. Louis, met Wednesday [in Washington, D.C.] for an anti-crime summit and to confront an unpleasant reality: Crime is rising for many, but stark budget realities are limiting the options in fighting it," the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports.

"Police Chief Sam Dotson . . . with Slay, sat a row behind Rahm Emanuel, the mayor of violence-stricken Chicago."

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Also, enough with the cheesecakes already, Rahm.

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Chicago's House Mouse
A North Carolina congresswoman thanked fellow Republicans for their support Friday after many received incendiary e-mails alleging an affair between her and House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, according to two Republicans in the closed-door meeting," the Charlotte Observer reports.

"On Thursday the rumors were repeated in e-mails to GOP lawmakers from Steve Baer, a conservative donor from Chicago who once promised to 'dine on RINO flesh,' using the disparaging acronym for Republicans in Name Only."

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"In the hours before House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) abruptly withdrew his candidacy to be the next speaker of the House, he received an e-mail from a conservative activist threatening to expose an alleged affair with a colleague. The subject line: 'Kevin, why not resign like Bob Livingston?'" the Huffington Post reports.

"The e-mail, sent just after 8 a.m. on Thursday, came from Steve Baer, a Chicago-based GOP donor known for mass-emailing conservative figures and Republican lawmakers. It was addressed to McCarthy and numerous others, including the personal account of Rep. Renee Ellmers (R-N.C.), whom conservative media sites have suggested is tied romantically to McCarthy."

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See also: How The Media Is Handling Kevin McCarthy's Rumored Affair. (Hint: badly.)

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Who is Steve Baer?

"A Riverside resident has played a significant but little noticed role in the rise of Rick Santorum from afterthought to serious contender in the race for the Republican presidential nomination," the Riverside-Brookfield Landmark reported in 2012.

"Steve Baer, who has lived in Riverside since 1989, played a key role in uniting Christian conservatives and others in Iowa behind Santorum, which led to his strong showing and ultimate 34 vote victory in January's caucuses."

Oh.

(Also, I hate when someone who lives in the suburbs is identified as a Chicagoan. Is it so heard to delineate?)

(FYI: It appears he used to live in Chicago's 44th Ward.)

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"Baer ran for Illinois governor in 1990 as a conservative challenger to Jim Edgar. He lost but received 256,889 votes, or 33 percent of the total."

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"Baer's support for Santorum goes far beyond a press release. Baer; his wife, Donna; and daughter, Salem - one of his 10 children - met with Santorum at a private dinner at a downtown Des Moines hotel on Nov. 18 . . .

"Baer, who has home schooled his children, has broad connections with home schoolers, social conservatives, economic conservatives and Tea Party leaders . . . "

Click through for the rest; it's worth it.

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Let's go to the archives.

"Grudgingly or not, the right-wing United Republican Fund of Illinois has been recognized by its mainstream GOP counterparts as a force to be dealt with in state party politics," the Tribune reported in 1987 under the headline "GOP Making Peace With Its Right Wing."

Ha. At least Baer's being consistent - except for that "making peace" thing.

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Before sparring with Edgar, Baer sparred with Jim Thompson.

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Reported in 1988 by now-editorial page editor Bruce Dold:

"This amounts to an effort to excommunicate people from the Republican Party," said Steve Baer, a 28-year-old Brown University graduate who is executive director of the United Republican Fund and is affectionately known to the group`s supporters as "The Kid."

"The end of all politics is policy, and the object is to get the Republican Party back in policy positions so it can be a winning party from now on," Baer said. "The model of capitulating and imitating the Democrats to see if we can give away more than they can is not a good strategy."

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In 1989, Baer called Edgar "decidedly more liberal" than Democratic gubernatorial candidate Neil Hartigan.

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And then, of course, devil stuff, from 1990:

"GOP gubernatorial candidate Steve Baer gave a rather hellfire and brimstone speech to worshipers at Springfield`s Calvary Temple on Jan. 28, according to a tape recently obtained by the Springfield State Journal-Register. After Baer noted that he and his wife spend time counseling women to avoid abortions, he went on to say that he has concluded 'that government so often is the instrument for Satan to do evil.' And he wants to be guv, Baer said, to work to 'restrain evil.'"

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Gives Edgar a "dogfight:"

"Edgar has been bruised almost daily by the rampaging campaign of challenger Steven Baer, the conservative ideologue who has made the race for the Republican nomination a referendum on Edgar`s moderate positions . . .

"One reason Baer is contesting Edgar for the nomination is what he and other ultra-conservatives view as Edgar`s cavalier attitude toward their philosophy.

"When the Pro-Family Taxpayers Network, an anti-abortion and anti-tax group, was beating the bushes for a gubernatorial contender last summer, Edgar dismissed them as a 'fringe' element of the GOP . . .

"An Arizona native, Baer has lived in Illinois since 1984. Until December he was executive director of the United Republican Fund, a conservative organization that feuded with the party hierarchy while pursuing an anti-tax, anti-abortion agenda.

"In his only other bid for office, Baer was defeated by a 2-1 ratio in a 1984 challenge to state Rep. John Cullerton (D-Chicago)."

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Return engagement, 1994:

"Conservative Repub Steve Baer will begin circulating petitions Monday to run for governor on the Term Limits & Tax Limits Party's ticket. Baer, who ran in the GOP primary against Jim Edgar in 1990, is the front man for a group of anti-tax, anti-abortion conservative Repubs who want Edgar to lose. Then, according to their scenario, they'll lead the Republican Party out of the wilderness after four years of Dawn Clark Netsch."

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How did that go? Not so well, according to this fire and brimstone from Tom Hardy, now the longtime chief spokesdude for the University of Illinois:

"Baer fancies himself as a foot soldier of the Republican Right. But his self-satisfied smirk and preoccupation with political pranks and hijinks are irrepressible. He lambastes Edgar as having lied to voters and broken a campaign pledge to hold the line on taxes, then laughs off serious allegations of election fraud concerning his party's nominating petitions.

"Baer's few remaining friends in the right wing of the Republican Party would have you believe that he is some incorruptible ideologue, persecuted by the compromisers and centrists (or 'hacks') of the GOP.

"To conservative commentator Tom Roeser's way of thinking, Baer is merely 'an artless, somewhat impractical young conservative' who is being punished for having the 'temerity to challenge the existing Republican structure' . . .

"Baer was fond of staging news conferences featuring a stooge dressed as a porcine lawmaker or as a bloodsucking 'Count Tax-a-Lot.'"

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P.S.: Contraindicated! From the Sun-Times, 1987:

Nicaraguan contra leader Adolfo Calero said Tuesday he expects Congress to vote continued - and perhaps increased - U.S. aid for the rebel cause in the wake of the Iran-contra testimony of his "good friend, Ollie North."

Campaigning in Chicago for public support of his cause, Calero said North "did a wonderful job" of educating the American public about the contras and put the rebels in a "much better situation" . . .

Calero was picketed by some 150 people outside the Palmer House, where he made a luncheon speech to the Executives Club. Two protesters were arrested and charged with disorderly conduct.

Some of the same protesters - part of an umbrella group called Pledge of Resistance - later showed up in a crowd of about 100 that protested Calero's arrival at Navy Pier for a fund-raising cruise on the Chicago Princess.

The cruise, sponsored by the United Republican Fund of Illinois, attracted 248 people who paid $35 each, said Steve Baer, executive director of the group. Baer said the proceeds would be used to support Congressional candidates who favor support for the contras.

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The Sound Opinions Weekend Listening Report: "As a keyboardist in the legendary recording studios of Muscle Shoals, Alabama, Spooner Oldham wrote and played on dozens of classic hits from Aretha Franklin, Percy Sledge, and more. He joins Jim and Greg for a conversation. Then they review the new album from Janet Jackson."

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Weekend TweetWood

Alternate: "Unlike Everyone Else, Cubs Aim To Sustain Success."

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The Weekend Tip Line: Contraindicated.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:03 AM | Permalink

October 9, 2015

The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour #72: Joe Cub

Manager of the Forever. Plus: Playoff-Bound Bears 10-Point Underdogs; Enough About The Bears, Let's Talk About The Cubs; The Bears' Plan; Blackhawks Belabor Banner-Raising; Enough About The Blackhawks, Let's Talk About The Cubs; and Beer Talk.


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SHOW NOTES

* The Fridge.

6:10: Manager of the Forever.

* The bat flip:

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* Jake Arrieta Stole A Base.

"Arrieta stood on first base, looking at the left-handed Watson while the left-handed Watson looked at Dexter Fowler. First-base coach Brandon Hyde sneaked in behind Pedro Alvarez to whisper a message into Arrieta's ear.

"The message, probably: take off, if you think you can make it. The rest was up to Arrieta, but he had his permission."

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36:35: Playoff-Bound Bears 10-Point Underdogs.

48:28: Enough About The Bears, Let's Talk About The Cubs.

* Starlin Castro's future.

* Dexter Fowler's future:

* If The Plan was to plow through three managers and four hitting coaches in four years, then fine, yes, The Plan is working.

55:03: The Bears' Plan.

56:57: Blackhawks Belabor Banner-Raising.

* Chicago's Pizza.

* The Rangers Were Annoyed That The Blackhawks' Banner Ceremony Took So Long.

1:01: Enough About The Blackhawks, Let's Talk About The Cubs.

1:02:16: Beer Talk.

* BreakRoom Brewery.

breakroom.jpg

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P.S: William Perry Auctioning Off His Size 25 Super Bowl XX Ring.

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STOPPAGE: 9:00

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

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 1:00 PM | Permalink

The [Friday] Papers

"Former CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett will plead guilty in a federal corruption case connected to the no-bid principal training contract for SUPES Academy," Catalyst reports.

"The federal case was launched as the result of a Catalyst investigation in 2013."

Here is how the first story began:

"Without fanfare, CPS board members recently approved a three-year, no-bid $20 million contract to provide extensive professional development for principals and network chiefs in what is being dubbed the Chicago Leadership Academy.

"The size and the circumstances surrounding the contract have raised eyebrows among some outside observers. The contract with Wilmette-based Supes Academy is by far the largest no-bid contract awarded in at least the past three years, according to a Catalyst Chicago analysis of board documents. In addition, CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett worked for the company as a coach up until the time she came on board at CPS as a consultant.

"There's also conflicting information about Byrd-Bennett's involvement with another company owned by the same individuals who run the Supes Academy."

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And how the reporting itself began:

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Here's Karp in April talking about the investigation on Ken Davis's Chicago Newsroom:

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Back to present day:

"A former head of Chicago Public Schools plans to plead guilty to planning a scheme to take hundreds of thousands of dollars, airfare, meals and baseball tickets in exchange for steering more than $23 million in contracts to her former employer, her lawyer and a federal prosecutor said on Thursday," the New York Times reports.

"The former head, Barbara Byrd-Bennett, 66, was charged Thursday in a 23-count indictment. An appointee of Mayor Rahm Emanuel, she served as chief executive of Chicago's beleaguered public school system from October 2012 until her resignation in June."

Baseball tickets, too? Cubs, White Sox, Indians or Tigers?

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"The indictment describes a plan in which Ms. Byrd-Bennett conspired with her former employers, Gary Solomon and Thomas Vranas, to provide her with bribes and kickbacks. Mr. Solomon, 47, of Wilmette, Ill., and Mr. Vranas, 34, of Glenview, Ill., the former owners of Supes Academy, an educational consulting firm, and Synesi Associates, a subsidiary, were also criminally charged with fraud, bribery and conspiracy."

Once again, suburbanites making bank on the city's schools. (Byrd-Bennett lives in this suburban Cleveland home.)

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"When positions of authority and accountability in government are dominated by the hand-picked designees of one man - in Chicago's case, the mayor - essential checks and balances against public corruption are greatly weakened," the Sun-Times opines about the person they endorsed twice and provide generous Op-Ed space too.

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"Even before she was hired to run Chicago Public Schools, Barbara Byrd-Bennett set up a scheme to get a 10 percent kickback on all the CPS contracts she could steer to a former employer, in part to set up a college fund for her twin grandsons, authorities said Thursday," the Sun-Times reports.

"The feds found damning, detailed e-mails between her and her ex-boss, Gary Solomon - apparently so damning that Byrd-Bennett will plead guilty in the case involving $23 million in CPS contracts. U.S. Attorney Zachary Fardon, in an unusual move, announced Byrd-Bennett's intention to plead as he announced the charges.

"I have tuition to pay and casinos to visit :)" the feds say Byrd-Bennett wrote in one of many e-mails discussing the alleged kickbacks.

That, of course, is the money quote, now inscribed for all eternity into the Chicago Testament, placement to be determined later by the Council of Elders, but probably somewhere between Arenda Troutman's "Most aldermen, most politicians, are hos" and Miriam Santos's "Now it's time for people to belly up."

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Two jobs wouldn't cover Byrd-Bennett's nut?

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Beachwood Photo Booth: At The Corner Of Glad & Happy
Intersecting in Edgebrook.

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CTU: Please Call Bank President Tim Maloney. Here's His Number.
Let him know: Bank of America profiting from the risky toxic swaps that they sold to our schools is a fraud that must end.

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By the way, the number works. I tried it very late last night and got Maloney's voice mail. (Sorry, Tim, that was me.)

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Fixing The (Racist) Legal System For Debt Collection
Commonsense reforms - and the black neighborhoods in Chicago hit the hardest.

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Impact: Plan To Scam Retired Indiana Coal Miners Is Dead
The deal was especially striking given that the unionized miners had themselves never worked for Patriot. Instead, they were having their benefits stripped of their value through an elaborate bit of financial engineering.

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Cute Kiddie Cubs Cuddle With Champagne, Complicate Feelings
Explaining my particular strain of Cubs fandom.

Keywords: Bruce Springsteen, Deacon Blues, Homi Bhabha, Kevin Coval, Mark Grace, Rod Beck, Sarah From The Real World Miami, The Chicago Board of Exchange, The Ricketts', Wicker Park, Wrigley Field.

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The Week In Chicago Rock
Featuring: Deaf Wish, The Well, Kadavar, Archie Powell & The Exports, Regular Fucked Up People, Wolf Alice, Genevieve, Jamie XX, Kristin Hersh, Franz Ferdinand & Sparks, Lianne La Havas, Mike Krol, Norma Jean, Hanson, Frank Turner & The Sleeping Souls, Chris Cornell, and Taylor Pearl.

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BeachBook

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TweetWood

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Boom shaka laka.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:27 AM | Permalink

The Week In Chicago Rock

You shoulda been there.

1. Deaf Wish at Township on Tuesday night.


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2. The Well at the Double Door on Sunday night.

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3. Kadavar at the Double Door on Sunday night.

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4. Archie Powell and the Exports at the Empty Bottle on Wednesday night.

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5. Regular Fucked Up People at the Empty Bottle on Sunday night.

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6. Wolf Alice at Lincoln Hall on Tuesday night.

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7. Genevieve at the Subterranean on Sunday night.

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8. Jamie XX at the Concord on Thursday night.

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9. Kristin Hersh at Schubas on Sunday night.

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10. Franz Ferdinand and Sparks at the Vic on Thursday night.

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11. Lianne La Havas at Park West on Sunday night.

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12. Mike Krol at the Empty Bottle on Wednesday night.

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13. Norma Jean at the Double Door on Tuesday night.

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14. Hanson at the House of Blues on Thursday night.

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15. Frank Turner & The Sleeping Souls at the House of Blues on Tuesday night.

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16. Chris Cornell at the Chicago Theatre on Tuesday night.

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17. Taylor Pearl at Uncommon Ground on Thursday night.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:13 AM | Permalink

Beachwood Photo Booth: At The Corner Of Glad And Happy

Intersecting in Edgebrook.

gladcleanersexpbw2.jpg

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ENLARGED

* Glad.

* Happy.

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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.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Book Window.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Alco Dude.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Ballin Drugs.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Don't Worry, Be Cookie.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Four Trey.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: The Office.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: America From Inside The Golden Nugget In Ravenswood.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Cellphone Repair.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Boots 'N' Grill.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Sunrise Strip.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 2:12 AM | Permalink

CTU: Please Call Bank Of America Illinois President Tim Maloney. Here's His Number.

On Thursday, the Chicago Teachers Union ran an ad in the Sun-Times highlighting predatory bank deals that take hundreds of millions from our schools.

The mayor and the Chicago Board of Education refuse to fight schemes like the toxic "interest rate swaps," even as they claim they are broke, lay off educators, and cut from special education.

CPS is about to make a massive payout of up to $228 million to Bank of America and other big banks. This is banker profit on the toxic swaps they sold us - and almost the exact same amount as cuts to school budgets announced so far this year! The mayor and Board of Ed are broke on purpose, choosing to lay off special education teachers to pay Bank of America profits.

CTU_ad_Sun-Times_2015_10_08.jpg(ENLARGE)

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The mayor and his board are protecting their banker friends at the expense of CPS schools, ignoring the advice of legal and financial experts who have given them options for challenging these deals. The Tribune has detailed others around the country taking action against these types of schemes and winning back money, yet Rahm won't budge.

If Rahm won't act, we will. We are asking people to call Tim Maloney, Illinois President of Bank of America, to demand they return the toxic swap money they have taken from our city and schools. B of A has already taken tens of millions in profits from these deals with CPS and the City - and they expect an estimated total of $219 million before they are done!

Please call Bank of America Illinois President Tim Maloney: (312) 904-8262

Tell him that Chicago's students, families and educators cannot watch our schools suffer to pay his profits. Ask Bank of America to return the toxic swap money they have taken from CPS and Chicago. Our schools have sacrificed too much already. It's unacceptable for bank profits to come before students' needs.

You can also e-mail Maloney & Bank of America at their fraud tip line: abuse@bankofamerica.com

Let them know: Bank of America profiting from the risky toxic swaps that they sold to our schools is a fraud that must end.

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See also:
* Lake Forest Resident And Bank of America Illinois President Tim Maloney Accepts Award From Youth Guidance.

* Guest Post From Tim Maloney, Bank of America Illinois President: Celebrating Local Partnerships That Develop And Empower Our Communities.

* Tim Maloney, Comcast Newsmaker:

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 1:54 AM | Permalink

What Can Be Done Right Now To Fix The (Racist) Legal System For Debt Collection

Laws governing debt collection lawsuits and garnishments are often antiquated, poorly thought out and place the burden on debtors to know their rights. Below are ideas for commonsense reforms.

1. Lower How Much Can Be Taken From Debtors' Wages.

The federal law limiting wage seizures to 25 percent of after-tax income passed in 1968. Lawmakers appear to have pulled this percentage out of a hat. Some states protect more of a worker's pay - and four (Texas, Pennsylvania and the Carolinas) prohibit garnishment for most debts - but most allow the federal level. Federal surveys show that low-income workers can't afford to lose a quarter of their pay.

2. Restrict How Much Can Be Taken From Debtors' Bank Accounts.

The 1968 federal law is so old that it is silent on the subject of bank account garnishments, which are now a common form of collection for collectors. As a result, a plaintiff can seize no more than a quarter of a worker's pay, but if that paycheck is deposited into a bank account, the entire amount can be seized.

3. Provide Clear Notice To Debtors About Laws That Protect Them.

When states do provide legal protections for debtors - such as allowing those with children to keep more of their pay under a "head of family" exemption - the burden is typically on the debtor to assert these protections. But there's frequently no clear notice provided to debtors that the protections exist.

4. Limit Attorneys' Fees To Reflect Actual Work On A Suit.

When companies sue, they often request an "attorney's fee," which is routinely granted and added to the judgment. The fees are usually set at arbitrary, fixed amounts, even though attorneys may spend only a few minutes on a suit. In 2013, we reported that one subprime lender in Mississippi added an attorney fee equal to one-third of the principal balance to each suit, even though the attorney was a company executive.

5. Cut Interest On Judgments To A Reasonable Level.

Under Missouri law, lenders can request that judgements grow at the contracts' rate of interest. Particularly when high-cost lenders sue, this can result in what one St. Louis judge called a form of "indentured servitude": A debt can balloon at triple-digit interest even as the debtors' wages are seized. A $1,000 loan can become a $40,000 debt, forcing the debtor to declare bankruptcy or make payments for a life.

6. Improve Enrollment In Programs To Help Low-Income Debtors.

Some common plaintiffs, such as utility companies and non-profit or public hospitals, have an obligation to serve the public. These sorts of entities often have a program of some kind to help lower-income patients or customers, and yet, as ProPublica has documented repeatedly, debtors often don't know about these programs.

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More From This Story

*How Collection Suits Squeeze Black Neighborhoods.

Our first-of-its-kind analysis shows that the suits are far more common in black communities than white ones.

* Interactive: The Color of Debt.

The black neighborhoods - including those in Chicago - where collection suits hit hardest.

* How We Reported It.

An explanation of how we analyzed whether debt-collection lawsuits disproportionately impact black communities.

* Have You Ever Been Sued Over A Debt?.

You can help us investigate questionable debt collection practices by completing a short survey about your experience.

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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 12:56 AM | Permalink

Impact: Plan To Divert $18 Million From The Health Insurance Of Retired Indiana Coal Miners To Pay Bankruptcy Lawyers Is Dead

The parties involved in the bankruptcy of a coal company have stepped away from a deal that would have diverted $18 million intended for the health insurance of retired Indiana miners to pay attorneys and other bankruptcy costs.

The turnabout came after ProPublica reported last week that the deal worked out by the lawyers and financiers involved in the bankruptcy of Patriot Coal Corp. would leave only $3 million to cover the guaranteed health-care benefits of 208 retired miners and their dependents, enough to last only about a year-and-a-half. The deal was especially striking given that the unionized miners had themselves never worked for Patriot. Instead, they were having their benefits stripped of their value through an elaborate bit of financial engineering.

Over the weekend, former president Bill Clinton attacked the deal in a speech to West Virginia Democrats in Charleston, and presidential candidate Hillary Clinton said the deal was "outrageous and must be stopped" in a statement to the media.

On Wednesday, at Patriot's bankruptcy hearing in Richmond, the company told the court that it was withdrawing the plan to strip the retirees' benefits. While the details remain to be worked out, the action means that the miners will retain the health benefits they were originally promised.

The retirees had worked for Squaw Creek Coal Company, a joint venture in southern Indiana between Alcoa and Peabody Energy, the world's largest private-sector coal company, which provided fuel for a nearby Alcoa plant. The venture had mostly petered out by 2000, but as part of the agreement, Alcoa was covering the cost of the guaranteed retiree health benefits, about $2 million per year.

In 2007, Peabody spun off a new entity called Patriot Coal and assigned to it a few of its mining assets and a lot of its pension and health care liabilities. Patriot also acquired Peabody's stake in what remained of the Squaw Creek venture with Alcoa, which continued to pay the retirees' health benefits.

Loaded up as it was with Peabody liabilities, Patriot stood little chance of surviving, especially with the coal industry suffering from competition from cheap natural gas, tougher environmental regulations and the depletion of easily recoverable reserves in Appalachia. Patriot entered Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2013, and exited it only after getting new backing from a New York hedge fund called Knighthead Capital, and after arranging to load the health care obligations of more than 11,000 retirees into a fund overseen by the United Mine Workers of America.

Earlier this year, Patriot filed for Chapter 11 again. This time, it is auctioning off its mines and going out of business. To cover the costs of the proceedings, its lawyers, from the New York firm of Kirkland & Ellis, struck an unusual agreement with Alcoa. Alcoa agreed to pay Patriot $22 million in exchange for Patriot assuming the health care obligations for the Squaw Creek retirees. This saved Alcoa money, since the actuarial value of the obligation was about $40 million.

But instead of putting the $22 million toward the actual health care obligations, Patriot stated in filings to the court that it was going to put only $4 million toward that purpose - $3 million for rank-and-file miners and $1 million for salaried Squaw Creek managers. The rest, $18 million, would go to the attorneys and others involved in the proceedings.

The Squaw Creek retirees would be moved into the same union-overseen fund that now covers the health care for the more than 11,000 retirees that Patriot passed off in the 2013 bankruptcy. That fund is expected to run out of money in a few years, a fate that the addition of the Squaw Creek retirees, with only 1.5 years of funding, would accelerate. As it is, Congress is already having to weigh whether to bail out the fund with taxpayer dollars.

An editorial this week in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch - in Peabody's headquarters city - called the deal a classic example of the dark coal-industry joke: "The company gets the profits; the miners get the shaft."

Now, with Patriot's cancellation of the deal with Alcoa, that outcome has been avoided. It remains to be seen how the Squaw Creek health care obligation will be handled - whether Alcoa will continue to pay for it on an ongoing basis, or move the retirees into the union-overseen fund with enough money to cover them - but off the table is the notion that the benefits could be drained to pay for the bankruptcy proceedings at a company the miners never worked for.

Patriot Coal, its lawyers and Alcoa all declined to comment on the matter.

"We are pleased that our retirees at Squaw Creek will continue to get the health care they were promised and have earned," said Phil Smith, a spokesman for the mine workers union.

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Previously: Bankruptcy Lawyers Strip Cash From Indiana Coal Miners' Health Insurance.

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Related stories: For more coverage of labor and Wall Street, read ProPublica's previous reporting on the Indiana miners, vanishing worker protections and a hedge fund's $100 million payday.

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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 12:31 AM | Permalink

October 8, 2015

The [Thursday] Papers

Geez, I got caught up writing a long Cubs essay and in the midst of it Barbara Byrd-Bennett gets indicted. I can't keep up!

So here's my Cubs piece:

Cute Kiddie Cubs Pass Playoff Audition, Cuddle With Champagne, Complicate Feelings.

It's about more than last night, though; it's about my particular strain of Cubs fandom.

Keywords: Bruce Springsteen, Deacon Blues, Homi Bhabha, Kevin Coval, Mark Grace, Rod Beck, Sarah From The Real World Miami, The Chicago Board of Exchange, The Ricketts', Wicker Park, Wrigley Field.

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Yeezus Christ You Guys
In The Blue & Orange Kool-Aid Report.

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TweetWood
A sampling.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Double down.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 2:58 PM | Permalink

Cute Kiddie Cubs Pass Playoff Audition, Cuddle With Champagne, Complicate Feelings

It's really not true that the Cubs are no longer cute or lovable. In fact, they're a little too cute for my taste. Their home runs leave rainbow chemtrails, and unicorn horns burst from their foreheads when they gallop the basepaths. Some of them are barely old enough to legally drink the celebratory Champagne in the clubhouse; others are old enough but too angelic, as if they don't want to displease their parents, who will be mad enough that their clothes are doused in alcohol, much less their bloodstream. I really wouldn't want to party with these guys because it'd be all Katy Perry and birthday cake.

It kind of makes me want to vomit.

Oh for the days of Mark Grace and Rod Beck holding forth at their lockers drinking Old Style and chain-smoking after every game, like the Johnny Benders of the locker room unafraid of catching detention from Daddy Manager. Yes, I know it didn't turn out well for either of them, but they were men, not boys, and they weren't interested in shining the teacher's apples and singing kumbaya in onesies.

And yet, I wasn't hate-watching the Junior Cubs' cute little playoff play-in Wednesday night the way I have so often as a fan like so many others alienated by the frauds perpetrated by this franchise. A few years ago, I went so far as to renounce by fandom in a very specific fashion. "Oh, I'm not a fan," I would tell people. "The Cubs are just the team I follow." I watched, but I didn't root for the team - at least not to win. I did root for the team to lose, out of hopes that a succession of awful managers would be fired and a despicable succession of owners would be punished in even the slightest way, such as somehow setting off a chain of events that would lead to a slip-and-fall over one of the billions of dollars falling out of their pockets on the way to the bank.

Like many, I have a complicated relationship with the Cubs.

I grew up in Bloomington, Minnesota, a suburb of Minneapolis. When cable came to our town, so did Cubs games on the WGN superstation. From then on, I spent many a sunny summer afternoon indoors watching summer on TV, live from splendiferous Wrigley Field. I was in love with a summer elsewhere, not the one in which I existed. The red brick behind home plate, the ivy-covered walls, the bleacher bums, the rooftops that created America's most gorgeous tableau, and a baseball game - hosted by Harry Caray, the only person on the planet who could make singing "Take Me Out To The Ballgame" cool.

It was like all the street romance of a Bruce Springsteen song, 81 times a year - if you knew the lore, of course. And no other team had the lore of the Cubs. It was like the living embodiment of "Deacon Blues" - a team for the losers of the world who lived by a different set of values where winning wasn't everything. Wrigley Field was where the game was beautiful, and that was the thing. It wasn't that fans of my ilk didn't want to win, but that, like in life, the quality of the experience - and its inclusion of everybody who appreciated it - was of far more value. It was a team for those who despise the jockocracy. Not all Cubs fans fit this profile; not even close. But those who did and who loved baseball gravitated to the team, the ballpark and the real live literary glory that came with it. It was no coincidence that the alt-nation to come was filled with Cubs fans; we found each other as surely as we found the Replacements. (A college friend used to wear a South Side Cubs Fan t-shirt; a colleague at The Minnesota Daily swore off McDonald's after 1984; The only cool person to ever appear on The Real World was skateboarder chick Sarah, whose frequently worn Cubs tee was as much a signifier as a Yo La Tengo record.)

What occurred at Wrigley each game was ours, not theirs. It was Wicker Park when it was first settled as an anti-Lincoln Park, only to be gentrified - like the Cubs - into the very thing we who made it hated. At Wrigley, players and managers would come and go, each performing their part in the play, but it was our play. It was a fan takeover. In the early '90s, I heard someone in the bar say "You may own this place, but the street runs it." It was like that. We didn't own the team, but we made it what it was. We created the experience, we nurtured the experience, and we loved it in the way that you love a band before a major label - or internal politics - sets in to ruin it.

(Major label: We love your band! We just want to change everything about it. Akin to: We love this neighborhood! If only we could make it like our old neighborhood, then it would be perfect! To wit: Wrigley is awesome! We need to make it like every other stadium, though, to make it even better!)

Remember, too, that Wrigleyville back in the day was hardly affluent; it wasn't even widely called Wrigleyville. Punks hung out at Belmont & Clark and the Metro showcased the city's coolest bands just a couple blocks from the ballpark.

Those days are long gone. Now the Cubs are a corporate conglomerate whose long losing streak has been turned into a brand undergoing a repositioning by a greedy hateful family of enormous inherited wealth who want you to believe they're bleacher bums too - Tom Ricketts met his future wife there!

That convenient oft-told media tale is possibly true - as a mediocre student who magically got into the University of Chicago, the unstudious young Tom spent an inordinate number of days during his five-year stay in Hyde Park at the ballpark, slumming, as only a child of privilege can do. In that way, Tom Ricketts is the perfect embodiment of the new generation of Cubs fans, who may romanticize the bleachers but are anything but bums. They may be among the 15% of the country Elia imagined as unemployed and therefore at the game on any given day, but they are not unemployed because can't find work; they are unemployed because they are trust funders.

Today the Chicago Board of Exchange sponsors premium seating from dugout to dugout made possible by pushing out those glorious red bricks, now clad with advertising that even former team president Andy MacPhail, the corporate tool's tool, once said he would never have dared to do. That's right, rich guys have literally encroached on the field.

In fact, one of the chief charms of Wrigley used to be its lack of advertising inside the park - coupled with the gigantic beer ads shouting in from outside the park, like electioneers being kept a reasonable distance from the sanctity of the polls on Election Day. What the Cubs really sold at Wrigley was the timeless experience of going to a baseball game, not the day's particular game itself. Crass intrusions into that experience were not welcome.

Now, crass intrusions are the point. The ballpark is the revenue generator, and sometimes a baseball game is even played there.

What was once not for you is now not for us.

Ricketts and his gang have continued the pricing out of those of us who gave the Cubs such outsized value, just like their lot price us out of our neighborhoods, our music, our coffeehouses, our bars, our jobs. It's a transfer of culture described brilliantly by cultural theorist Homi Bhabha, in The Location of Culture, which I've described briefly here before (I profiled him for Chicago magazine, but can no longer find the story online), to wit:

The white boy knows something is wrong, though. As cultural theorist Homi Bhabha argues, the oppressed possess a double-knowledge those from the oppressor culture can never attain; they know both cultures.

the whiteboy wants
a company, a crew
to accompany, a band
a brand, the whiteboy
wants his brand/name
uttered in tears
and ciphers

And:

I'm reminded of a phenomenon cultural theorist Homi Bhabha has written about in another context: Their fear is based in large part on a conscious or unconscious recognition that we know something they don't - as well as what they know. We know twice as much. That's why the oppressor fears the oppressed. The oppressor only understands his world. The oppressed understands the oppressors' world by necessity, but also their own. And that additional knowledge - and insight - makes the oppressors uncomfortable because it can be used against them.

Or:

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The Cubs are no longer mine. This is not my team. To the kids out there, I'm happy for you. You have Bryant and Schwarber and the rest, and you haven't yet felt the sting of disloyal exploitation and perversions of justice and economic dislocation. Sure, many of you can't afford to go games the way we could when bleacher tickets cost five bucks, but get used to it. You can at least watch on free TV - if you can find the right channel night after night as the games float up and own the dial in search of optimized revenue. But in the main, this isn't for you, either, unless your mommy or daddy are CBOEers. This is Rahm's Chicago; you and your neighborhood school are not welcome.

So, yes, I bring a lot of baggage to this Cubs team, including my aversion to the way it was built on the backs of three tanked seasons. No, this does not justify The Plan. Hardly. The Cubs could have acquired the Jon Lester and Miguel Montero and Dexter Fowler of the day four years ago. They wouldn't have Bryant or Schwarber, but neither has any team that has won the World Series between then and now. The Ricketts were executing a business plan - one that aligned perfectly with rebuilding in a way that even they have acknowledged no other fan base would tolerate in order to lower payroll and stall for time until new scoreboard and broadcast revenue showed up. The Ricketts are playing with house money - and you're the house.

Cubs ownership is hard to take, from the heinous Daddy Ricketts to world-class bumbling ironist Todd to Petey the gay-hating, murderous governor to Tommy The Overgrown Frat Boy.

And today's Cubs fans? Douchebag Central, we all know that.

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And yet, I was actually rooting for these guys last night. By about the 7th inning, I wanted them to hurry up their at-bats so Arrieta could come back out and whittle down the outs left until victory.

I haven't felt that way in a long time.

There was some magic to be had after all, and I've slowly come around to this team. But even if they win it all, it won't be the same. It won't be those Cubs finally winning the World Series, it will be these Cubs winning the World Series. The old Cubs are dead, just like the old Wrigley. The only thing that could bring them back - zombie Cubs! - would be destruction at the hands of the Cardinals and a complete meltdown next year. Then we might have something - if enough people flock to the White Sox instead.

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Still, I could not hate watching Wednesday unfold the way it did, starting with this:

I tried to resist at first, and even tried to work up some distaste that a law enforcement officer did it, but I just couldn't. It's pretty awesome - and it's way cooler than this:

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And after enduring the bro-y-ness of this kind of nonsense all day . . .

. . . I caught the fever just before game time. I was at least gonna rep the Beachwood. So I tweeted out links to the super funny and very cool Cubs songs from the Beachwood vault. I encourage you to click through.

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And then the game.

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Schwarbsy. The Schwarbster.

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Daddy Long Legs.

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Irrational Pirates lose composure.

But also, Arrieta needs to keep his growing arrogance in check.

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Jack The Snake Steals The Show.

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Last pitch, celebration.

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P.S.: Starlin Castro's pivot and lightning-quick throw.

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Bonus:

The Wild Card Game is Incredibly Cruel, Usually To The Pirates.

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The view from Pittsburgh:

"So much for the laughable notion put forth by many, including some in the media, that Jake Arrieta would be affected by the pressure of his postseason debut," Bob Smizik writes for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Arrieta was brilliant early and then merely very good the rest of the way as his historic dance through the 2015 MLB season continued last night at PNC Park. His otherworldly pitching ended the Pirates excellent season in a sea of disappointment. They could do nothing offensively in a 4-0 loss to the Chicago Cubs in the National League Wild Card game.

Arrieta allowed four hits and no walks while striking out 11. The best the Pirates could say is they hit some balls hard - two of which became double plays - in the late innings.

That Gerrit Cole could not match Arrieta was not surprising. That he could not come close was disheartening. The idea that Cole was somehow close to Arrieta was nonsense and the events of the game proved that out.

Kyle Schwarber - a .178 hitter since mid-August - delivered a run-scoring single in the first and a two-run homer in the third. Cole allowed four runs and six hits in five innings. It was the seventh time in his past 12 starts he allowed three or more earned runs. He may well be an ace in the making, but the speculation common in advance of the game that he was up to dueling Arrieta was unfair.

Critics will ridicule the Pirates for not being up to this challenge, but - really! - who is up to the challenge of Arrieta? It was a disappointing loss, no question, but the Pirates ran into the man who has been the best pitcher in the recent history of MLB. This shutout puts his post-July ERA at 0.37. The 1927 Yankees would have had trouble with Arrieta.

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And finally, the joy of Twitter. This is what it's all about, people, win or lose.

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Comments welcome.

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1. From Tom Chambers:

I remember when the bleachers were $1.50, my brother remembers $.75.

We lived in West Chicago, and he and his buddy Rick and maybe the Breen boys would take the Northwestern to the end of the El, the Forest Park line now, to Des Plaines Avenue, connect to the Howard-Dan Ryan El and go to Wrigley. I thought they were Lewis and Clark. I think he took me on that trip just once.

My uncle started developing that neighborhood, not gentrifying, but rehabbing those beautiful three-flats. We'd be painting, listening to the games on the radio - Vince and Lou - and could hear the crowd cheer.

And you are right, it was nothing special as a neighborhood. Wrigley was just there, with a game on game days. It was Ray's Bleachers (when it was just the front room) and Sports Corner, that's what we knew. The taverns, fewer of them, were just taverns.

And, believe it or not, you would just go there to watch the game. And I mean watch the game. My brother always taught us to pay attention. It was wondrous that the scoreboard had ALL the games from across the land! How do they do that?!

Dad took us to a real gosh doubleheader. Adolpho Phillips hit four home runs on the day. We were in the fourth row behind the screen, at the edge, and my dad barehanded a screaming foul ball by putting up his hand, as much self-defense as anything, as if he was catching a bug. He wouldn't admit how much it stung.

He also took us to Comiskey; we loved that ballpark too. The two were so different, and almost different games altogether.

I'll never go to Wrigley again. It's not Wrigley to me. The Ricketts' have ruined the greatest asset they have and they don't understand the experience. They take it for granted that the experience will always be the same, no matter how much they blaspheme the place, which is not in their vocabulary. And sorry kids, those are not the original bricks - eight generations removed.

As for this team, I suppose the players and coaches haven't done anything wrong, except for the Nickelodeon cuteness, but I don't care if they win or lose. The further a team goes in the playoffs, the more it resembles an old-fashioned ballclub. Pitching, defense and timely hitting. It has to play the game. I suppose it would be nice, I guess.

I'll never go to Wrigley again, too many $$$$$. And I don't need my senses stimulated.

I just feel sorry for those who haven't ever experienced what we experienced. Ignorance is bliss. They don't know what they missed.

2. From Andrea Kaspryk:

I enjoyed reading your article about the new Cubs, and I can also recall watching the Cubs from the '70s and '80s and Harry Caray. It is so ironic that though they are winning now, finally, as you observe, the Cubs character and players are so much more boring and predictable, as are the TV and radio broadcasts, the neighborhood and the fans.

I would only add that a great and irreplaceable loss was Ron Santo on the radio broadcasts, who embodied the spirit of the old Cubs. His lack of education and sophistication and moderation - all these constituted his assets. He thankfully never could quite control and censor himself consistently and fit into the mold of bland and generic color commentator, which his successors have. He lost his temper, raised his voice, shouted, made inappropriate comments and jokes and observations, and that's what made him so entertaining and charming, and this what made listening to the Cubs broadcasts fun and entertaining. Because of his status as a former Cubs star and fan favorite, as a color commentator, whatever his perceived deficiencies, he was allowed to stay on the job as long as he was healthy enough to do so.

The ongoing friction and tension that Santo had with Pat Hughes was a good thing - it showed the genuine clash of two worlds; Santo's raw, working-class, blunt, off-the-cuff manner of speaking versus Pat Hughes' always diplomatic and polite middle-class ideal, ever eager to avoid saying anything potentially regarded as offensive to anyone. This too, thankfully, was allowed to continue; it never got entirely and falsely brushed away and covered up.

3. From Marty Gangler:

I get it. It's just that baseball is not going to be any different than, well, everything else - and you touched on that. These Cubs are cute, but it really seems like the best approach. It's not surprising you aren't on board, your notion of cool isn't going to completely align with twentysomethings'. It's not possible. And this is on the field or in the stands.

But there is still the same game in there and they don't play in footy PJs and they first have to actually make a play happen in real life before it hits the Jumbotron. That's why you were sucked back in despite trying to stay a bat's length away.

4. From Roger Wallenstein:

Maybe it's a sign of age that we prefer the way it used to be when owners were baseball men whose fortunes depended on their teams rather than the money they made elsewhere. Once Bill Veeck and Calvin Griffith were forced out, everything changed.

The comments about Wrigley Field and Wrigleyville were familiar. We Sox fans saw the same thing happen 20 years ago with the demolition of a great ballpark torn down and replaced by the commercial mess that they call The Cell. One big difference: Reinsdorf tore down homes where the present stadium resides. We used to park our car in the yard of one of those houses. Mr. Brown was a wonderful guy. Had a 55-gallon barbecue drum in the yard. Worked his whole life. That was his neighborhood and home. He was paid for his property, but what recourse did he have? Would have made Donald Trump proud.

Of course, McCuddy's and O'Brien were sacrificed and replaced by the Sox Grill or whatever it is that is owned, I presume, by the ballclub.

Makes me sick when Reinsdorf pines about Ebbets Field. He assumes we're all idiots. I could go on and on.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 2:45 AM | Permalink

The Blue & Orange Kool-Aid Report: Yeezus Christ You Guys

The Agony Of Victory
Aw crap, the Bears just gave everyone hope.

I know it was a fun game and you want to get excited again, but all I can say is: don't.

Just . . . don't.

But Cutler came back and the offense looked semi-functional!

Don't.

We saw flashes of competence against the Packers as well, but four weeks into the season, Oakland has not figured out that tight ends are not required to be announced as eligible receivers before the snap and are allowed to run downfield to catch passes.

But the defense made some good stops! A lot of the Raiders scoring came directly from turnovers!

Don't.

The Raiders' young core has promise, but quarterback Derek Carr thirsts for crack. If last Sunday's contest wasn't a day game, I would have assumed he was a vampire. You saw how pasty and itchy he looked. Sans drug-riddled opponent, this defense is only good for half a game, tops.

Robbie Gould is a worldbeater! Nothing can stop him! He can split the uprights from 70 yards out!

Don't.

That final kickoff is still going on. He is a lone bright spot on an otherwise horrific special teams unit.

What the hell, man! So you're saying the Bears should just tank the season to get the first pick in next year's draft?

Don't.

There is no one projected as an early first-rounder in the upcoming draft who would have a clear impact on the Bears' long term fortunes. Heck, the only impact last year's first-round pick is having is the ass-shaped dent he's grooving into his couch.

So we shouldn't get excited about success and we shouldn't root for failure? What are we supposed to do here?

Crack a beer and enjoy the football limbo that is a 4-12 season, amigo!

[Gilk, gilk, gilk. Wipes mouth.]

But don't enjoy it too much.

Prick.

Ha! It's limbo not Disneyland, buddy.

We've even got post-game press conferences that feel like purgatory.

"Yeah it was a football game. Our guys played football," remarked John Fox after the win. "Those were real things that happened this afternoon. Also, I saw a ghost in the locker room a minute ago and I'm kinda freakin' out over here. He said his name was Pete McTavish, but his friends call him 'Diggy' and he was wearing those old-timey red onesie pajamas with the butt hatch. I'm kinda freaking out over here . . . alright, thanks guys."

[Leaves podium]

No questions were actually asked during the "interview," as all reporters in attendance had fallen sound asleep in anticipation of the boilerplate coachspeak all of us have become accustomed to when Fox is involved.

Beat The Caption
"They threw rocks at Jesus, and Jesus was an excellent guy who did a lot of awesome stuff."

- Martellus Bennett, October 4, 2015

I feel like I can't top that one if I tried.

The context of this remark was a direct response to the question "Is Jay Cutler too often criticized?"

Let's take a moment to unpack that masterpiece.

Perhaps this is effectively the "Bro" version of every Jew's polite, canned answer to the question "Hey, why don't you guys read the second half of that book?"

Twitter only gives you 140 characters; the whole quote may have been "Jesus was an excellent guy who did a lot of awesome stuff . . . but we do not believe that he was the Son of God."

Maybe Bennett was singing along to a new Kanye track and reporters didn't realize it. By all accounts Kanye West is both popular and terrible at rap.

Oh, save your angry letters, fans of the rhyme game, you know Kanye is the empirically shitty, Donald Trump* of hip-hop. He's a successful producer and even more successful self-promoter, not a rapper.

We're talking about a guy actually uses the line "In a French-ass restaurant/Hurry up with my damn croissants.**"

Kanye.

Just . . . don't.

Based on that level of rap proficiency, I think Bennett ought to be doing some freelance work ghostwriting for Mr. West.

Here's an excerpt of an interview with Pete Holmes that could be easily be tailored to another one of those block rockin' beats (starts at 2:02). Even in normal (?) conversation, Martellus Bennett is a hell of a wordsmith.

I feel magical, everywhere I go/it's like I'm shitting cupcakes and rainbows/As I go walking around town

But I digress.

I think the real answer is Bennett is playing it crazy like a fox, or more accurately, crazy like an Ozzie Guillen.

The best way to deflect attention from your teammates is to put the focus on yourself.

Chief Grief
Coming up next, the Missouri Chiefs Of Kansas City; a team with eerie similarities to our own Chicago Bears.

A cursory scan of Google reveals headlines that could be applied to either team. Play along at home and see if you can guess which team these real articles are about, then click on the link to get the answer.

If you guessed right, you'll be taken to the actual article. Imagine how impressed your friend(s) will be when you showcase your in-depth knowledge of this week's opponent. They'll think you've got a head full o' book learnin' and a pocket full o' foldin' money because, like John Fox, all of your friends are the ghost miners who lived during the mid-1800s.

If you guessed wrong you'll be directed to a video where Sean Connery will teach you, in surprising detail, when it's appropriate to slap a woman.

Kool Aid (3 of 5 Glasses Of Kansas City Ice Water)
Don't worry hon, I have no plans to get sober. There's gin and vodka in this beverage.

Call me crazy [Editor's Note: Ok, you're crazy. You have a Tupperware container of toenail clippings in your fridge], but I think this is a trap game for the Chiefs.

The Bears defense will probably give up 178 total yards to Jamaal Charles, but longtime check-down specialist Alex Smith has been trying to finally, finally, huck the ball downfield . . . and it's not going well.

Kansas City's defense is waaaaay down this year and if Alshon Jeffery returns this weekend as expected, we might have a shootout on our hands here.

Based on the ball-control issues the Chiefs have had of late, I expect the Bears to pull one out on the road.

But Yeezus Christ you guys, don't get your hopes up for the rest of the season.

Just . . . don't.

Bears 34, Chiefs 28

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* I could have just as easily selected Ric Flair. Trump is essentially the political version of a wrestling villain. "We're gonna build a wall around the ring at Royal Rumble so Rey Mysterio and Eddie Guerrero can't steal Kevin Nash's job or rape Ms. Elizabeth. WOOOO!"

** I could have just as easily selected the line "I just talked to Jesus/He said, 'What up, Yeezus?/I said, 'Shit, I'm chillin',/Tryna' stack these millions.'" C'mon people. We're supposed to let our producers record one hit where they are the vocalist and summarily dismiss them from fame after 15 minutes***.

*** "Screw you," signed Thomas Dolby.

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About The Author
Carl Mohrbacher completed this article early Wednesday morning because it is near impossible to type when one is screaming at the Cubs pregame broadcast.

And Carl Mohrbacher began screaming at the Cubs pregame broadcast 12 hours before the first pitch of the Wild Card play-in game.

#WeAreGood

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Carl Mohbacher is our man on the Kool-Aid. He welcomes your comments.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:34 AM | Permalink

October 7, 2015

Offshoring By 29 Companies Costs Illinois $1.2 Billion Annually

Tax loopholes encouraged more than 72 percent of Fortune 500 companies - including 29 in Illinois - to maintain subsidiaries in offshore tax havens as of 2014, according to Offshore Shell Games, released today by Illinois PIRG Education Fund and Citizens for Tax Justice. Collectively, the companies reported booking nearly $2 trillion offshore for tax purposes, with just 30 companies accounting for 65 percent of the total, or $1.35 trillion.

"When corporations dodge their taxes, the public ends up paying," said Abe Scarr of Illinois PIRG Education Fund. "The American multinationals that take advantage of tax havens use Illinois roads, benefit from our education system and large consumer market, and enjoy the security we have here, but are ultimately taking a free ride at the expense of other taxpayers."

Every year, offshore tax loopholes used by U.S. corporations cost Illinois $1.2 billion in state tax revenue.

"It's clear that our current tax code isn't fostering a level playing field - in fact, it's slanted heavily in favor of those who need the least help, leaving small and medium-sized employers and working families to foot the bill," said Rep. Jack Franks (D-Woodstock).

"There's no more pressing challenge facing Illinois than our budget, but instead of seeking middle ground, leaders on both sides of the aisle continue to fight between higher taxes and extreme cuts. Reforming our tax code offers a third way to approach these challenges. By closing tax loopholes and special deals for big businesses, we can generate necessary revenue without raising taxes, while also cutting the taxes and fees all businesses pay."

Illinois PIRG Education Fund's new study shows that while most very large companies use tax havens, a smaller subset are most aggressive about using offshore tax havens to avoid taxes.

Key findings of the report include:

* At least 358 Fortune 500 companies operate subsidiaries in tax haven jurisdictions, as of 2014. All told, these companies maintain at least 7,622 tax haven subsidiaries. The 30 companies with the most money booked offshore for tax purposes collectively operate 1,225 tax haven subsidiaries.

* Approximately 60 percent of the companies with any tax haven subsidiaries registered at least one in Bermuda or the Cayman Islands. The profits that American multinationals collectively claim to earn in these island nations' totals 1,643 percent and 1,600 percent, respectively of each country's entire yearly economic output.

* The 30 companies with the most money booked offshore for tax purposes collectively hold nearly $1.35 trillion overseas. That is 65 percent of the nearly $2 trillion that Fortune 500 companies together report holding offshore.

* Only 56 companies disclose the amount they would expect to pay in U.S. taxes if they didn't report profits offshore for tax purposes. All told, these 56 companies would collectively owe $170 billion in additional federal taxes. The average tax rate the 56 companies currently pay to other countries on this income is a mere 6.3 percent, implying that most of it is booked to tax havens.

Companies headquartered in Illinois that were highlighted by the study include:

AbbVie: AbbVie Inc. has booked $23 billion offshore in 35 tax havens, amongst the top 30 for amount of money held offshore.

Caterpillar: Caterpillar has booked $18 billion offshore in 72 tax havens, amongst the top 30 for amount of money held offshore.

Illinois Tool Works: Illinois Tool Works has booked $7.1 billion offshore in 81 tax havens, amongst the top 20 for number of offshore tax havens.

[ConAgra, which is moving its headquarters to Chicago from Omaha with the help of state tax credits, also makes the list.]

The report concludes that to end tax haven abuse, Congress should end incentives for companies to shift profits offshore, close the most egregious offshore loopholes, and increase transparency.

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See also: Wealth Doesn't Trickle Down - It Just Floods Offshore, Research Reveals.

A far-reaching new study suggests a staggering $21 trillion in assets has been lost to global tax havens. If taxed, that could have been enough to put parts of Africa back on its feet - and even solve the euro crisis.

"The world's super-rich have taken advantage of lax tax rules to siphon off at least $21 trillion, and possibly as much as $32 trillion, from their home countries and hide it abroad - a sum larger than the entire American economy."

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 5:36 AM | Permalink

Local Music Notebook: Viet Cong Blues

1. Vic Mensa: Down To Start A Riot.


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2. Viet Cong Changing Name.

"Our band lives to play music. We don't particularly like doing press, most of us are fairly private people and we have social media for the band only reluctantly. Most of us generally don't follow online criticism. Over the last year we have essentially lived our lives in a tour van and in music venues, playing over 130 shows. In that time we've met many amazing people and had many great conversations with people in person," the band says in a Facebook post.

"Over this time we've been listening, talking and having lots of valuable conversations with the members of the Vietnamese community about the name. Through this dialogue and hearing about what the name means to so many people, we have decided we will be changing the name of our band."

Highly recommend:
* Not Yours To Play With: Why Viet Cong's Name Offends.

The journalism surrounding the band Viet Cong has been no different. Claudine observed that it has mostly been white people - who lack a deep understanding of the Vietnam War, or don't come from an anti-racist perspective - who've written about the band. People have written about the possible offensiveness of Viet Cong, but I haven't really seen anyone write about it being racist. Charlene Hay at the Centre for Race and Culture, an organization that does anti-racist research and education explained that, "the word racism frequently elicits powerfully resistant emotions. Racism is an emotionally charged term. White people often resent the implication that they may have prejudice and discriminate against non-white people. Charges of reverse-racism and political correctness gone wild are common."

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Here's Viet Cong at Pitchfork this year.

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Here's Junior Wells with "Vietcong Blues."

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3. Psychology Today: Steve Albini Shows Punk Rock Ethics Are Good Business.

"The remuneration [at his studio] is very equitable. Everybody gets paid the same. I make the same amount of money in a month as the newest employee that we have. So there is a fundamental difference between that and virtually any corporate structure. But you can't expect people who feel like they are less valuable to a corporation - who feel like their effort, their input, and their opinion means less than someone else in that corporation - you can't expect those people to jump in and all be pulling for the same results, team players. Because you have defined for them that they are not all pulling for one thing, that they are not team players. You have defined their role for them as subordinate."

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4. Eradicator.

"Eradicator is a Chicago-based band that is made up of members of Direct Hit! and Galactic Cannibal," Ricky Frankel writes for PunkNews.org.

"Some might call their new self-titled EP a pop-punk release and some might call it a hardcore release. Honestly, there is so much of both subgenres in these songs that it falls right in the middle of the two."

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 4:16 AM | Permalink

Local Book Notes: The In$ane Chicago Way

"The In$ane Chicago Way is the untold story of a daring plan by Chicago gangs in the 1990s to create a Spanish Mafia - and why it failed.

"John M. Hagedorn traces how Chicago Latino gang leaders, following in Al Capone's footsteps, built a sophisticated organization dedicated to organizing crime and reducing violence. His lively stories of extensive cross-neighborhood gang organization, tales of police/gang corruption, and discovery of covert gang connections to Chicago's Mafia challenge conventional wisdom and offer lessons for the control of violence today."

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This sounds like an important and fascinating book. Note: The final chapter is called The Future of Gangs in Chicago.

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From Hagedorn's Wikipedia page:

"Hagedorn dropped out of college in 1967 to work full time in the civil rights and then anti-war movements. He was doing community organizing in Milwaukee in 1981 when he observed gangs forming. He ran the city's first gang diversion program and returned to school, getting his BS in 1985 and his MA in 1987. He studied under Joan Moore and received a PhD in 1993.

"Hagedorn's first book, People & Folks, argued for more jobs than jails and applied William Julius Wilson's underclass theory to gangs. He was the architect of a neighborhood-based, family-centered social service reform that became the subject of his dissertation, published as Forsaking Our Children.

"With a crew of former gang members he conducted a multi year re-study of Milwaukee gangs, which led to a second edition of People & Folks. In the first edition, Hagedorn predicted that if jobs were not created Milwaukee's gangs would entrench in the illegal economy. This prediction, unfortunately, was supported by his subsequent research."

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Hagedorn has been at UIC since 1996.

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Chicago Penny Farthing
"Pick up Bats of the Republic and - even before you start reading - you're instantly transfixed. The author, Zachary Thomas Dodson, is a book designer who co-founded Featherproof Books out of Chicago, and his debut novel is a glorious demonstration of what old-fashioned paper can still do in the hands of a creative genius," Donohue writes for the Washington Post.

"Stuffed into this illuminated novel are books within books, including a facsimile of a 19th-century novel, complete with tissue-covered plates and a wormhole piercing every page. The dust jacket has two sides, the lining printed in reverse. The whole steampunk apparatus is chockablock with fold-out maps, torn telegrams, bits of newspaper articles, drawings of bats and other real and imagined creatures, diagrams of steammoats and other inventions, and most fun of all, an actual envelope with the cryptic instruction: 'Do Not Open.' (Resist!) These beautifully designed elements not only add depth and detail to the story, but they also instruct the reader on how to move through the book."

But does he ride a penny farthing bike?

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My guess: Yes.

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Also, that can't be his real name.

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Teaser:

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Coke Screen
"You may think you have come to like soda all on your own. But that desire is the product of decades worth of focused and often troubling efforts on behalf of the soda industry," Roberto Ferdman writes for the Washington Post.

"This is, in so many words, one of the takeaways from a new book about how the industry has paid, lobbied and hypnotized its way into the hearts of people around the world. The book, called Soda Politics, is written by esteemed New York University professor and long-time food industry activist Marion Nestle. And it will leave a sour taste in anyone's mouth."

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Mercola is bullshit, but this is still an interesting interview, especially given the recent debate about enacting a soda tax in Chicago; see why you might view efforts like this in a different light. Also, naive reporters.

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Previously from Nestle: Food Politics.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 3:13 AM | Permalink

The [Wednesday] Papers

I have to fight at least three different bureaucracies today, so I don't have the psychic energy to write a column.

You know what the problem is with bureaucrats - and this includes private-sector customer service personnel? They are so intent on rules that they are adrift when the rules don't work for someone or someone has followed the rules and the system has broken down anyway. The bureaucratic mindset has no way to help you at that point.

If I were training a government agency or customer service department, I would advise my troops that their jobs were to be problem-solvers, not systems enforcers. The job is to be an advocate for the taxpayer, client or customer who is stuck in the gears.

That's not to say that the taxpayer, client or customer is always right, because that's clearly not the case. But solving the problem still should remain paramount.

Of course, it's difficult when the agency or company has been stripped of resources. I get that. And workers are likely not incentivized to be advocates or problem-solvers. Too bad, because that kind of short-term thinking is highly detrimental in the long run. Also, what kind of person do you want to go through life as? Do you really want to be a dick?

Sadly, too many people don't mind going through life as dicks. Again, the incentives are ass-backwards.

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Related:

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See also:
* Me and My Medicaid: The [Monday] Papers.

* Medicaid Mess: The [Thursday] Papers.

* Illinois Medicaid Nightmare at 1:03:35 of The Beachwood Radio Hour #43.

* Four Pinocchios To Obama For Medicaid Expansion Claims.

* Feature, Not A Bug: It Was Part Of The Plan That You Wouldn't Necessarily Get To Keep Your Doctor - And Obama Knew It.

(Obama: "If you like your doctor you can keep him, PERIOD! Don't believe the GOPs warnings." This was easily and instantly fact-checkable. I noted it in real-time!)

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Go Cubs Go

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If Joe Maddon Were Mayor
Cops wouldn't carry guns, man!

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Slightly related:

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Sadly related:

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Illinois Offshorers Cost Us $1.2 Billion A Year
Twenty-nine offenders, soon to be joined by corporate criminal ConAgra.

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Slightly related:

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The In$ane Chicago Way
Inside the plot by Chicago's Latino gangs of the '90s to create a Spanish Mafia.

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Chicago journalism needs someone to cover gangs as a beat and produce this kind of work.

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Viet Cong Blues
Local band changing name, because duh.

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Cook County Forest Preserves Photo Contest!
I voted, did you?!

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BeachBook

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TweetWood

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Also see @BeachwoodReport for real-time commentary on Tuesday's appearance of police chief Garry McCarthy at a city council budget hearing.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Dead or alive.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:53 AM | Permalink

Cook County Forest Preserves Photo Contest!

The Forest Preserves of Cook County is seeking the public's help in selecting 12 winning photographs to be featured in its 2016 wall calendar.

Photographs were submitted during the fourth annual photo contest, and highlight various habitats such as forest woodlands, wetlands, prairie and savanna as well as the native plant and wildlife that can be seen while exploring the Forest Preserves. Previous winning photographs have showcased the Forest Preserves under a soft blanket of snow, blooming with new life in springtime, and transforming to autumn's shades of gold and red.

"The annual photo contest allows participants to showcase what they enjoy about the Forest Preserves, and serves as a way of encouraging others to explore the wilderness of Cook County," said Arnold Randall, general superintendent of the FPCC. "The winning photographs are a sampling of the beauty, fun and exploration opportunities available to residents and visitors alike."

In addition to the wall calendar, winning photographs will also be featured on the FPCC website, utilized on social media accounts, and displayed in an exhibit at the Cook County Building in downtown Chicago as well as in various courthouses.

The voting period will remain open until 5 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 9. During the voting period, anyone with a Facebook account can vote for a photo by pressing the "like" button on that photo in the official photo contest gallery.

The 12 winners of the photo contest will be announced on Friday, Oct. 16. Each winning photographer will receive 10 copies of the wall calendar as well as a Forest Preserves prize package.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:38 AM | Permalink

October 6, 2015

Fire Prevention Week Do's & Don'ts!

October 4 - 10, 2015, marks Fire Prevention Week, a commemoration of the Great Chicago Fire in 1871 and an opportunity to emphasize fire safety and preparedness.

Remember these dos and don'ts to help you and your family protect against the dangers of a house fire:

DO keep a smoke alarm on every level of your home. Half of home fire deaths happen between 11 p.m. and 7 a.m. Stay safe with smoke alarms outside of every bedroom and each separate sleeping area.

DON'T forget to test your smoke alarm every month. The risk of dying in a home fire is cut in half in homes with working smoke alarms. If your alarm doesn't sound when tested, it's time to replace it.

DO address your needs. If you require eyeglasses, hearing aid, cane or a wheelchair, ensure they are next to your bed to quickly grab if necessary. If there is a fire, you may have less than three minutes to get out of your home. Be ready to act immediately.

DON'T assume you'll hear the fire alarm if it sounds. If you test the alarm and can't hear it, consider getting a strobe light that will flash or a bed shaker that will shake when the smoke alarm sounds.

DO make a fire escape plan that shows at least two ways out of every room. Identify a meeting place in the front of your home, to verify that everyone is safe and help firefighters ensure everyone exited safely.

DON'T stop to call 911 until you're safely outside and away from danger. Stay outside until the fire department says it's safe to go back inside.

Fire Safety(1).jpeg

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 5:47 AM | Permalink

The [Tuesday] Papers

"A group of black aldermen on Monday called for Mayor Rahm Emanuel to fire police Superintendent Garry McCarthy, saying the city's top cop hasn't done enough to deal with crime in their wards or bring more diversity to the upper ranks of the department," the Tribune reports.

"A City Hall news conference included most of the 18 members of the City Council Black Caucus, including some aldermen who have been staunch supporters of Emanuel's agenda. Ald. Roderick Sawyer, 6th, chairman of the caucus, said the group decided after years of frustration to push for McCarthy's ouster on the day before he and Police Department brass are scheduled to come to the council for their annual budget hearing.

"As aldermen of these communities, we are on the front lines of the work to keep our streets safe and secure. We have been troubled by the superintendent's lack of responsiveness to our concerns and requests as we face this crisis," Sawyer said. "In addition, we have been deeply concerned about the superintendent's failure to place African-Americans in a position of leadership throughout the department, as well as the reduction in new African-American police recruits despite our repeated efforts and inquiries."

Okay, not to invalidate (yet) the call from the Black Caucus, but isn't this sort of an annual occurrence? To the Beachcave!

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I guess I'm wrong. I could've sworn black aldermen had issued this call a few times before, but not according to the Tribune and Sun-Times archives.

Why am I misremembering this? People?

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What I was going to write, in part, was that if the Black Caucus, which rarely gets together for anything, really wants to make this happen, it has to do more than grandstand. For one thing, we just had an election in which this was an issue!

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Back to the Tribune:

"The call for McCarthy's dismissal comes weeks before aldermen will be asked to vote for an Emanuel budget that includes a massive property tax increase and new monthly garbage collection fee. But the council members denied they were trying to soften the political blow from that vote by going after the police superintendent who has borne much of the criticism for stubbornly high violent crime in their wards."

Did someone make that accusation - or is that just the Tribune's suspicion?

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"The Black Caucus held its news conference the same day the department's highest-ranking African-American, Alfonza Wysinger, 53, announced his retirement after nearly 30 years of service. McCarthy named Chief of Detectives John Escalante, who is Hispanic, to succeed Wysinger as first deputy police superintendent."

On Wysinger at this time last year:

"Chicago's First Deputy Police Supt. Al Wysinger is in line for a $9,408-a-year pay raise - to $197,724 - thanks to an 11th-hour amendment slipped into Mayor Rahm Emanuel's budget in response to questions from aldermen.

"Earlier this month, Ald. Howard Brookins (21st), chairman of the City Council's Black Caucus, put Police Supt. Garry McCarthy on the hot seat.

"Brookins demanded to know why the mayor's 2015 budget called for McCarthy's trusted chief of crime control strategy Robert Tracy to be paid $194,256 a year while Wysinger, the police department's No. 2 man, was in line for an annual salary of $188,316."

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Back to the Tribune:

"We said, 'Let's give him a chance,'" said Austin, who made reference to a recent Chicago Tribune editorial that called on aldermen to take more responsibility for the violence in their wards.

Here's that gruesome editorial that the paper doesn't link to; I'll deal with its misguided, patronizing, racist content another day.

Back to Austin:

"My concern is, my constituents get sick and tired of hearing about statistics and no action."

Okay, look: I'm no fan of Garry McCarthy. But aldermen tired of hearing about statistics are tired of hearing the truth; they'd rather pander to constituents ginned up by crime reporting malpractice by outlets including the Tribune. That doesn't mean violence in Chicago - and everywhere else in and by America - doesn't continue to be heartbreaking; it means we can't craft sensible public policy solutions unless we understand the nature of the problem. (Putting more cops on the streets isn't likely one of those solutions.)

As far as "no action," we've had a whirlwind of action; each week seems to bring a new crime-fighting plan. There is no lack of action.

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"Rules Committee Chair Ald. Michelle Harris, 8th, said she had not spoken to the mayor about her desire to see McCarthy replaced, but she said new leadership is needed.

"It's about our communities. We all love our communities. We live there," she said. "We're doing everything possible, given the resources we have in our communities, to make them a better place to live. So what we're saying now is, maybe a new leader will give us some of the things that we may need out in our communities."

Like jobs? Neighborhood schools? The end of TIFs looting communities? Sorry, that's not the police chief's department. Or, as discussed on this edition of The Beachwood Radio Hour, stop blaming McCarthy for Rahm's policies.

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I'm reminded of Crain's calling for McCarthy's ouster back in June; I prefer the thinking of this response by my friend Tracy Siska of the Chicago Justice Project, which begins this way:

"The calls to relieve Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy of his duties, including from Crain's editorial board, are right on time. His tactics haven't been the miracle cure for the city's violence we all desperately wished them to be. So our response is to fire the superintendent so we can live in denial for another four years about the possible impact any policing tactics will have on Chicago's endemic problems with violence.

"We are stuck in a cycle in which we love the new superintendent until we realize that his new idea is not really new, nor effective, at stemming the social ills that cause the violence in Chicago. It is not surprising, because the idea is designed only to lower violence numbers just enough that everyone is happy with the results.

"I am far from a McCarthy supporter. I do think we need to replace him. But my assessment is based on real-world expectations. I understand that the real impact of policing tactics on the violence in Chicago is small. Chicago's police are an important part of the solution, but our continued practice of throwing all of our eggs in that basket always will end in failure."

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Siska lays out a strong case against McCarthy. Let me put a few more logs on the fire: The continued and blatant misrepresentations (lies) about the impact of mandatory minimum sentencing; his bullshit spying regime; his position that Dante Servin, who was released from manslaughter charges only because a judge thought he should've been charged with murder instead, should never have been charged in the first place; disappearing thousands of Chicagoans; and, now, his promotion to chief of detectives of "a veteran cop under investigation for his role in creating a fictitious witness statement that helped prevent former Mayor Richard M. Daley's nephew from being charged with killing David Koschman."

JFC.

What's next, bringing Jon Burge back to run Homan Square?

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Will Burns, everybody.

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By the way, did you know that Richard M. Daley considered McCarthy for police chief back in 2003?

"Mayor Daley said Tuesday he will not be bullied into accepting the names of African-American candidates for police superintendent suggested by the Rev. Jesse Jackson," the Sun-Times reported at the time.

"If I start going around [the legally mandated process, there'll be big editorials, 'Why does Mayor Daley select his best friend as superintendent?'" the mayor told reporters.

Asked whether he was disappointed the list of three finalists did not include an African American, Daley said, "You want names of people. But if you start dictating, then you'll have editorials: 'Mayor Daley's a power boss' . . . You would love that editorial: 'Daley interferes with the Police Board. He's in there knocking heads.' Come on. We're not gonna fall for that."

Of course, when Daley hired Jody Weis in 2008, he did just that - ignored the police board and conducted his own, personal "search."

Anyway, here's the rest:

Last week, the surprise withdrawal of a black deputy superintendent set the stage for a political firestorm.

The Daley-appointed Police Board chose two whites and one Hispanic as finalists for the $159,288-a-year superintendent's job vacated by Terry Hillard.

Garry F. McCarthy, 44, the New York Police Department's operations chief, will vie against Acting Supt. Phil Cline, 53, and Winnetka's 56-year-old police chief Joseph DeLopez.

Jackson wants the mayor to reject the Police Board's finalists in favor of a "broader pool" of candidates suggested by a commission Jackson is setting up.

But Daley said he's not about to wait for more names.

"Where were they two months ago? This is a process. If you want to start changing the process now because you don't like the outcome, then that's very unfair," the mayor said.

The mayor said he's confident that process was "open and honest." It's not the Police Board's fault that Deputy Supt. John Richardson withdrew his name at the last minute. Richardson had been a lock to make the final three, according to Police Board President Demetrius Carney.

"You cannot ask somebody not to [withdraw] who doesn't want to be on the list. He has personal reasons," the mayor said.

Jackson said he originally blamed the Police Board for not having a black and a woman in the mix, but after speaking to several board members, he now feels Richardson torpedoed the process by dropping out the day before the final three candidates were picked.

"As we have begun to talk to board members they took into account the same thing we were concerned about," he said. "If he [Richardson] were going to retire, he should never have entered, or earlier on, withdraw. Surely the mayor must know the flawed process created a flawed pool . . . I still think the mayor must broaden the pool to include an African American and a woman."

If Daley is determined to ignore his recommendations, Jackson acknowledged there is little he can do to block the appointment of Chicago's next superintendent.

"We do not have the capacity to stop him from using his power, but we have the moral obligation to continue to raise our concern for justice, fairness and inclusion.

"Blacks are disproportionate in the number of people profiled, arrested, jailed and issued traffic tickets. Yet we're on the other extreme in positions of authority in the Police Department. My appeal to the mayor is to work on correcting those imbalances in the Police and Fire Department."

Ald. Dorothy Tillman (3rd) has worked closely with the mayor in recent years, but that didn't stop her from joining the call for Daley to scrap the three names. She was incredulous that a New York police official made the finals.

"New York has the highest rate of police brutality of any place in the country. It was in New York that they sodomized a black man with a broomstick," Tillman said.

Earlier this week, the mayor's chief liaison to the black community joined the chorus of criticism against the Police Board. Charles Bowen accused the nine-member board, whose president is black, of putting the mayor in a politically untenable position.

On Tuesday, the mayor respectfully disagreed with Bowen.

Daley said he chose Hillard not because he was black but because he was capable of serving all of Chicago and building "coalitions" with everyone. The next superintendent must do the same, no matter what color he is, Daley said.

Never before - at least not in recent memory - has a Chicago mayor rejected the three finalists and ordered the Police Board to start over. But Daley refused to rule out such an unlikely scenario.

Asked whether one of the top three would be the next superintendent, Daley said, "I can't tell you. I'm going to first interview them . . . I can accept or reject."

Daley chose Cline that go around.

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If Joe Maddon Were Mayor . . .
Another Beachwood Thought Experiment.

Obama's Shitty BP Settlement
Deepwater Horizon deal a tax windfall.

Fire Prevention Do's & Don'ts
FEMA says: Be ready to act immediately!

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BeachBook

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TweetWood

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Rat pack.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 5:39 AM | Permalink

Deepwater Horizon Settlement Comes With $5.35 Billion Tax Windfall

Monday's announcement by the U.S. Department of Justice of a proposed $20.8 billion out-of-court settlement with BP to resolve charges related to the Gulf Oil spill allows the corporation to write off $15.3 billion of the total payment as an ordinary cost of doing business tax deduction.

The majority of the settlement is comprised of tax deductible natural resource damages payments, restoration, and reimbursement to government, with just $5.5 billion explicitly labeled a non-tax-deductible Clean Water Act penalty.

This proposed settlement would allow BP to claim $5.35 billion as a tax windfall, significantly decreasing the public value of the agreement, and nearly offsetting the cost of the non-deductible penalty.

"BP was found to be grossly negligent in the Deepwater Horizon case, and yet the vast majority of what they are paying to make up for their gross negligence is legally considered just business as usual under the tax code unless the DOJ explictly prohibits a write-off," said Michelle Surka, program associate with US Public Interest Research Group. "This not only sends the wrong message, but it also hurts taxpayers by forcing us to shoulder the burden of BP's tax windfall in the form of higher taxes, cuts to public programs, and more national debt."

Under U.S. tax code, restitution, reimbursement, and compensatory payments made to damaged parties in a settlement can be claimed as ordinary cost of doing business tax deductions unless otherwise stated in the agreement. Penalties, by contrast, are almost always considered tax deductible.

In this proposed consent decree, the 80% of the civil penalty portion of the payment is, as per the RESTORE Act, to be spent on "environmental restoration, economic recovery projects, and tourism and seafood promotion in the five Gulf states."

If the Department of Justice had not been explicit about deny deductions for this portion, BP could have interpreted that portion of the penalty as tax deductible restitution and compensation.

"Being explicit about denying deductions for the Clean Water Act penalty is certainly a step in the right direction, but it's a small one considering that the remaining $15.3 billion is wide open for deductions. The Department of Justice should go farther and make sure that the entirety of the settlement is non-deductible, regardless of how the money is spent." said Surka.

BP has already written off the cost of its $32 billion cleanup effort after the spill, earning a tax windfall of $10 billion. Federal agencies did not attempt to prevent this giveback through the tax system.

By contrast, the Department of Justice reached a criminal settlement with BP over its role in the deaths of 11 workers who were aboard the oil rig when it exploded. That $4 billion criminal settlement specified that it was not tax-deductible.

Separately from today's announcement, BP has also come to settlement agreements with the five Gulf states, worth $5.9 billion in total. It is not known how much, if any, of those settlements will be tax deductible.

U.S. PIRG has called on the Department of Justice to deny tax deductions for BP's misconduct in the past. The proposed consent decree is now open to public comment for two months, and after that period the involved parties will decide whether to seek court approval of the consent decree.

You can read U.S. PIRG's research report on settlement deductions here.

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See also:
* New Orleans Times-Picayune: BP Still Has Leeway For Billions In Tax Breaks On Oil Spill Settlement.

* Los Angeles Times: BP's $20.8-billion Oil Spill Settlement May Give It A Huge Tax Deduction.

* Wall Street Journal: BP Settlement Spreads Out Payments Over Years.

Under the terms of the finalized deal announced by the Justice Department on Monday, BP won't have to pay all the money at once. Softening the hit to its cash flow, the company is able to spread out payments over a 15-year period. The last installments are due in 2031, more than 21 years after the Deepwater Horizon disaster, which killed 11 crew members and caused the largest oil spill in U.S. waters.

So inflation, too, will help mitigate BP's penalty.

* Guardian: BP Got 'Punishment It Deserved' New Obama Attorney General Loretta Lynch Says.

* AP: DOJ: Prosecute Corporate Execs.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:34 AM | Permalink

If Joe Maddon Were Mayor . . .

* The head of the CTA one day would be the head of CPS the next . . .

* Zoo Day: Animals released into city streets to get residents to relax.

* We'd not only have an elected school board, Chris Coghlan would be on it.

* Aldermen required to wear onesies to city council meetings.

* Cops wouldn't carry guns, man.

* No more charter schools - or schools at all, man. Learn in the streets, it'll be cool!

* 162 new city holidays.

* Taxes become voluntary, but for some reason you'll want to pay.

* The foie gras ban is back: It's not nice to force-feed geese to grotesquerie just to create delicacies.

* Gathers gang leaders for summit; truce declared.

* Respect 90 mph.

* Rainbow light cameras - that don't issue tickets.

* A fifth star for the city flag representing the pitcher batting eighth.

* Marijuana legalized, obvi.

* Everybody gets a pension.

* City finally gets super awesome recycling program.

* Garbage fee? City picks up for free.

* No more rubber stamp city council. Do your job!

* Ed Burke designated for assignment.

* City hosts baseball draft instead of football draft.

* Jay Cutler forced to vaccinate his kids.

* Hawk Harrelson only allowed to broadcast road games.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:21 AM | Permalink

October 5, 2015

SportsMonday: Forte Not Jay

John Fox is too old and Jay Cutler too far along in his career for the Bears to totally tank this season. Management will make smart little moves like dumping ill-suited veterans (Willie Young could certainly follow Jared Allen out the door if general manager Ryan Pace can get anything for him) or injury-prone question marks if there are draft picks to be had.

But don't bet on them moving Matt Forte unless they lose all three of the games - eminently possible! - they have left before the October 28 trade deadline. And even if that happens a Forte trade probably won't.

And let us pause here to note that Mr. Forte had a hell of a first quarter of the season that concluded with the Bears' 22-20 victory over the Raiders on Sunday. After battling for 91 hard yards on 25 carries Sunday and adding 64 more on four receptions, Forte is second in the league with 367 total rushing yards, only five behind leader Adrian Peterson. He also has 13 total receptions for 133 yards.

Ridiculous in a good way: Pernell McPhee! More big plays from the linebacker/lineman the Bears had to have excel after the team fell so far so fast defensively the last few years. When you invest big free-agent dollars in one player in a single offseason like the Bears did in McPhee, he better make an impact both in a hurry and over time. McPhee's interception was big but his solo tackle for loss of Raider running back Roy Helu with less than three minutes remaining forced a Raider field-goal attempt and ensured the Bears would get the ball back with more than two minutes remaining.

Ridiculously bad: Latavious Murray are you kidding us? It wasn't enough for the Raider running back to bobble away what should have been an easy catch in the flat, essentially handing a pick to Mr. McPhee in the first half. But then he added a dropped fourth-quarter lateral that was right in his hands before becoming a turnover recovered by Sam Acho.

Honorable mention: And then of course there was Cutler's crushing interception shortly thereafter. It is amazing that after all this time he keeps making mistakes like that. But enough about that in the aftermath of a victory.

This week in sideline reporting malfeasance: Nice cheap shot from correspondent Jamie Erdahl when she said "This may be a first" before reporting that Fox had called Cutler "a tough cookie" when he assessed his first-half performance against the Raiders. The inference was that the veteran quarterback is soft and always described as such. The inference was dead wrong.

Say what you will about Cutler but he has proved time and again he has the toughness to shake off hits that would send other quarterbacks to the sideline and to come back from injuries faster than average. And he has been described as such by the Chicago sports commentariat on many occasions. Folks who have covered the Bears for more than the week leading up to the Raiders game remember the bad old Mike Martz offensive coordinating days when the Bears led the league in sacks allowed and Cutler kept taking big hits and coming back for more.

Oh, and there is also the fact that in reports about his hamstring pull a few weeks ago, no one predicted he would miss fewer than two games. Not only did he miss just one but Fox said after the game that Cutler had almost recovered in time to play against Seattle.

You call that special? Whew but the first half was bad again. Holding penalty after holding penalty on returns forced the Bears to start possession after possession inside the 15. And the blocked extra point, that was extra special, eh?

Especially when the Raiders took a one-point lead with just over two minutes remaining.

And while in general I am OK with coaches going for one in the first half even if they have a chance to tie with a two-point conversion, that equation has changed since the league backed up the extra point kick. In general it makes more sense to take the almost sure single point before intermission but I wouldn't have argued against a more risky two-point conversion after the Bears' second touchdown. And sure enough in the end (after the Bears won by two), it wouldn't have mattered if the Bears had failed on a two-pointer in that situation.

Then again, no return touchdowns against!

(Mis)adventures in clock management: It was a little dicey there at the end, wasn't it? The Bears were aggressive with their first timeout with 2:50 remaining but then let 40 seconds bleed off the clock before the Raiders kicked the field goal that gave them a 20-19 lead. If you are going to stop the clock at 2:45 with a first timeout, it makes the most sense to stop it at 2:40 with the second, especially when the Raiders are facing fourth down and you know they will kick the field goal (and not run more plays and run more clock).

And the Bears could have used a little more time. Fox almost pulled a Trestman after Forte ran up the middle for a yard with 34 seconds left. The Bears then had time to run at least one more play before taking their last timeout to set up the field goal attempt. Instead they just let the clock run down. Sure enough, Robbie Gould's resulting 49-yard field goal attempt started down the middle but then started sliding to the right as we looked at it from behind the goalposts. Fortunately, whereas Gould missed a long field goal attempt once after Trestman failed to run a play or two to try to make it shorter in one of the worst Bears losses of the previous two seasons, this time the kick held on to slip inside the post for the winning points.

Next up: At the Chiefs, Sunday at noon.

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

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:03 AM | Permalink

The [Monday] Papers

"CPS frequently says it wants more input from parents and communities about how it educates nearly 400,000 children," Lauren FitzPatrick writes for the Sun-Times.

"The district touts its many ways for the public to weigh in, and said it has made recent improvements while remaining open to more.

"But when newly appointed board president Frank Clark told one speaker [last week], 'This is a board that truly listens,' laughter broke out."

Aside from the fact that Clark and the new board just installed by Mayor Rahm Emanuel haven't been on the job long enough to make such a claim, it became patently clear last week that such a claim is patently absurd.

In fact, hard as it is to believe, the new board is even worse than the last one, having further limited public participation by changing the rules without notice. Chicago Public Schools has, in effect, become a private operation.

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"Clark did not respond to e-mails seeking comment."

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From last week's board meeting and a charter school hearing:

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CPS: Chicago Private Schools.

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Myth Vs. Fact: Violence And Mental Health
"People with serious mental illness are three to four times more likely to be violent than those who aren't. But the vast majority of people with mental illness are not violent and never will be."

Is The Gun Lobby's Power Overstated?
Yes.

Also:

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The Cub Factor: What If?
That loudmouth White Sox fan you work with . . . would still be a loudmouth White Sox fan. Let's be real.

Kiddie Kubs Get Playoff Audition
On The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour #71.

Invited to cute play-in game. Plus: Inside Coach Coffman's Castle; The Immorality Of Daily Fantasy And Their Native Radio Announcer Advertising Tools; Jerry Reinsdorf's Pet Cemetery; The Ridiculous Resurrection Of Jay Cutler; The Bulls Are Back Dragging D-Rose's Baggage Around; and the Positive Coaching Alliance.

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I Am A Retail Warrior: The 41-Cent Saga
One big dysfunctional family.

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SportsMonday: Forte Not Jay
Everyone's talking about the wrong guy: With a quarter of the season now behind us, Forte is second in the league in rushing - just five yards behind Adrian Peterson.

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The America Flatboat Wreck
A plea that the boat be removed from the riverbank and preserved before the Ohio washes it away.

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The White Sox Report: The Season In Verse
Could've hardly been worse.

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The Weekend In Chicago Rock
Featuring: Oh Land, Nero, Like a Storm, Ghost, Morgue Supplier, Blood of the Wolf, Gene Ween, Become The Enemy, Otherwise, Purson, Flux Pavilion, Toronzo Cannon, The Chris Robinson Brotherhood, and Korn.

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BeachBook

Yay! Welcome to Chicago! Take our tax money! So proud to have you!

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Chicago Police Investigator Says Cops Abused Him.

Posted by The Beachwood Reporter on Saturday, October 3, 2015

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The buying binge includes the purchase last year of two full floors of the Waldorf Astoria hotel in Chicago, the city...

Posted by The Beachwood Reporter on Sunday, October 4, 2015

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TweetWood

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Block that kick.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:03 AM | Permalink

The Weekend In Chicago Rock

You shoulda been there.

1. Oh Land at the Bottom Lounge on Saturday night.


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2. Nero at the Concord on Friday night.

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3. Like a Storm at the Tree in Joliet on Thursday night.

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4. Ghost at the Riv on Sunday night.

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5. Morgue Supplier at Reggies on Saturday night.

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6. Blood of the Wolf at Reggies on Saturday night.

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7. Gene Ween at SPACE in Evanston on Thursday night.

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8. Become The Enemy at the Tree in Joliet on Thursday night.

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9. Otherwise at the Tree in Joliet on Thursday night.

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10. Purson at the Riv on Saturday night.

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11. Flux Pavilion at the Aragon on Friday night.

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12. Toronzo Cannon at Promontory on Thursday night.

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13. The Chris Robinson Brotherhood at Thalia Hall on Friday night.

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14. Korn at the Aragon on Thursday night.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:05 AM | Permalink

The Discovery And Investigation Of The America Flatboat Wreck

Flatboats were the most prolific type of vessel on the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers during the early 1800s. Thousands of these boats descended the two rivers each year, carrying not only valuable cargo to New Orleans but also western-bound emigrants to newly opened territories. By the late 1800s, flatboats had completely disappeared, and no intact examples were known to exist.

Our knowledge of these historic vessels had been limited to illustrations, memoirs and traveler accounts. That changed in 2000 after local residents found a wreck on the Ohio River shoreline in Illinois. Archaeologist Mark J. Wagner and his colleagues from Southern Illinois University investigated extensively and established that the wreck was a pre-Civil War flatboat, which they named America, after a nearby town.

978-0-8093-3437-7-frontcover.jpgIn The Wreck of the America in Southern Illinois: A Flatboat on the Ohio River, Wagner provides a general history of flatboats and the various reasons they wrecked - such as poor workmanship and encounters with pirates, storms, rocks and floating trees. Wagner describes the remains of the America, how it was constructed, the artifacts found nearby and inside - including pewter spoons, utensils with bone handles, metal buttons, and an iron felling axe - and the probable cause of its sinking. Wagner concludes with a plea that the boat be removed from the riverbank and preserved before the Ohio washes it away.

"Of the thousands of flatboats used to carry families and goods downstream in the 1800s, not a single one survives today. Mark Wagner, having led a team to thoroughly document the remains of the first flatboat wreck ever recorded, has written the book that finally gives the flatboat its due," says Leslie C. Stewart-Abernathy, station archeologist at the Arkansas Archeological Survey.

"But it's not just the story of the America, because Dr. Wagner has incorporated the memoirs of actual flatboat builders and accounts of their numerous contemporaries on the rivers. This book will become the source for helping to record other flatboat wrecks that will certainly appear."

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Plus:

* Hear Wagner discussing his book on WKMS.

* You can find chapter-by-chapter PDFs here.

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Mark J. Wagner is the director of the Center for Archaeological Investigations at Southern Illinois University. He is a former president of the Illinois Archaeological Survey and the author of The Rhoads Site: A Historic Kickapoo Village on the Illinois Prairie, as well as numerous essays, technical reports and books.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:40 AM | Permalink

Is The Gun Lobby's Power Overstated?

This story was co-published with The New York Times' Room for Debate. Read the full discussion here.

No sooner had the toll from the latest mass shooting been tallied than came the world-weary predictions that the carnage would have zero political effect. "Why the Gun Debate Won't Change After the Oregon Shooting," read truly grassroots network of committed and well-organized supporters who are willing to make calls to legislators and turn out in even low-turnout elections to back pro-gun candidates. This "intensity gap" bedevils gun-control groups, which, however well some of their proposals poll, have trouble getting voters to agitate and to prioritize the gun issue the way that gun-rights defenders do.

But the invincibility of the gun lobby is being overstated.

For one thing, gun ownership is becoming more concentrated in a smaller share of the population, one that is increasingly clustered in certain regions, thus limiting the lobby's political reach.

For another thing, the big recent defeat for the gun-control movement, the 2013 failure to pass universal background checks for gun purchases, was a close call. Six senators with A-ratings from the NRA voted for the bill; it fell just five short of the filibuster-proof 60. Had it passed the Senate, there would have been great pressure from the Sandy Hook families to bring it up for a vote in the House, and it would have needed only about 20 Republicans to pass.

No, the odds of the bill being revived anytime soon are not good, with the Senate now in Republican control. But things are shifting beneath the surface. The two Democrats who voted against the bill and were up for re-election last year both lost, after getting zero backing from the NRA in exchange for their vote; this will make centrist Democrats less likely to vote with the NRA in the future.

Meanwhile, two Democratic governors who signed tough gun laws, in Colorado and Connecticut, both won re-election in an otherwise brutal year for their party. A year earlier, Terry McAuliffe was elected governor of Virginia, the NRA's home state, while running on an outspokenly anti-NRA platform.

As more elected officials take on the NRA and live to tell the tale, the calculus for even self-interested politicians will evolve, especially if gun control supporters start to really challenge those who vote against them. There are three "no" votes on background checks with tough re-election races in swing states next year: Kelly Ayotte in New Hampshire, Ron Johnson in Wisconsin and Rob Portman in Ohio. Simply deciding that the gun control issue is a political loser is self-fulfilling, just the sort of fatalism that the NRA counts on to preserve the status quo.

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Comments welcome.


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:15 AM | Permalink

I Am A Retail Warrior: The 41-Cent Saga

So I've mentioned my co-workers before. There aren't many of us - the bosses, the old guy, the part-timer (technically, there are two part-timers, but one only works a couple of days a month), and me. There are many times I enjoy how few co-workers I have to deal with. I'm not much of a people person anyway - part of what makes me good at this job is the amount of time I get to focus on the canines. We've had a few other workers come and go over the years, but only one lasted longer than a couple of months. I got along really well with her, and was sad to see her move on to more lucrative things, but we've remained friends.

Because there are only five of us, we are very much like a family. This can be good - when someone is ill or going through hard times, we tend to comfort one another. My bosses are also my friends and advisers at times. In fact, on days I'm not working alone, I'm often asked if I'm the wife, daughter or sister of whichever colleague is there.

Like any family, though, we have some issues. Over the past year, one issue has been nagging at me, and it's bothersome enough to warrant sharing. My significantly older co-worker, "Joe," either brings his personal issues to work and takes them out on me or he's got a bizarre condition that causes him to have verbally violent temper outbursts directed at me (and only me), even in front of customers.

Early in the summer, we had one in a string of incidents - this one over a register shortage of 41 cents from the night before. It was a weekend, I had counted my register down at the end of a Saturday and found it short some change. I added change to it and thought it was taken care of, but when Joe counted it the next morning, he discovered it was still short. I came in later that day and began preparing for my shift. After clocking in and beginning to count my register, I noticed Joe was looming over me. He's old - my parents' age, in fact, but he's also a big guy, and sometimes a bit menacing.

"Your drawer was short 41 cents, Jane," he snapped.

"Uh, sorry, Joe. I added change last night and thought it balanced out."

"BULLSHIT!" he roared, causing heads to turn. The part-time co-worker "Danny" peered over from the back of the store.

"What?" I was totally incredulous. What was he implying? Why was he cursing? Did he not see the customers in the store?

"You KNEW it was short and you left it for someone else to fix," he snarled.

At this point, Danny, with whom I'd closed the previous night, came over.

"Uh, I was here, Joe. She counted it twice and when it was short she put the money in," he whispered.

"Get back on the floor, Danny," Joe snapped, before turning back to me. "You left it short and you know it," he said.

"You're being ridiculous," I replied. I am the most even-tempered of the bunch, at least while actually at work. "I'm sorry it was short, but accidents like that happen, and I'm more than happy to throw the change into the drawer."

"That's not the point!" he yelled.

This wasn't going well. Customers were getting uncomfortable. I'd seen a few slink out already. And it was obvious talking to him wasn't helping.

"You can think what you like, Joe. Here, I'm putting in 41 cents and getting to work," I said, and went about as if nothing had happened.

On the inside, my heart felt like it was going to explode and I was livid. But Joe had cost us enough time and potential business, so I tried to stay calm. Danny sidled up to me.

"What the hell was THAT all about? That wasn't cool at ALL!" he whispered.

"You got me. Did he say anything to you earlier?"

"He said it was a few cents short, but he didn't make a big deal out of it or anything. That was really weird."

"I'm just going to stay out of his way," I told Danny. "I can't deal with him right now, I'm too pissed off."

But after an hour or so of awkward sales and a general feeling of building malice in the store, I decided I needed to have a polite word with Joe about the way he'd spoken to me. It wasn't the first time he'd gone off the rails over nothing. It wouldn't be the last.

I walked over to where Joe was stonily reorganizing merchandise. Joe is older than I, but he is not my boss and it's not his place to take me to task. Still, I thought we could resolve this with a measure of dignity.

"Joe, we need to have a discussion here. Surely you recognize that all of us have miscounted a register before. And I don't appreciate you calling me out like that, especially in front of customers. That wasn't appropriate."

His face turned pink, then gradually got darker until it was crimson.

"Get the fuck away from me, Jane," he said, not at all quietly. "You just fuck off! I'm sick of your shit."

If he was sick of MY so-called shit, you can imagine how I felt about him at that point. Once again, he'd done it with customers in the store, only this time, he'd dropped an F-bomb. My jaw clenched and my eyes narrowed. Sure, he looked like a complete dick to everyone around, but he was also making ME look bad.

"We're not finished discussing this," I said, very quietly. "But I'm going to do my job now."

I walked away, endured another round of worried questions from Danny, who is a bit of a wuss when it comes to conflict, and put myself into selling and fawning over customers' dogs. Inside, I was enraged. But the customers had gotten to see enough of the Joe and Jane show. Displays like that are always off-putting. They come in to take refuge from their own lives by laughing over squawking rubber chickens and getting their pets the very best in treats and gear. Nobody likes to know what goes on backstage at a boutique. If they want to see things like that, they go to Walmart.

A good hour-and-a-half later, Joe walked up to me.

"Jane, we're good," he muttered. "You and me, we're fine."

Really? I wasn't fine. I was fucking furious. But it hardly seemed like the time to discuss it.

"Sure, Joe," I said, and went back to business.

As I've said, it wasn't the first time Joe had been unreasonably and unexpectedly nasty to me, but it was one of the worst. He tells me to "fuck off" on a pretty regular basis. He has a habit of asking me a question about product knowledge and as soon as I respond saying, "Okay, thanks, now go away."

I've told the bosses. It's not that I want Joe to get into trouble, but no one deserves to work in such a hostile environment. They've responded that they'll have a word with him, but that he's going through some tough times and we all need to be cut some slack from time to time. I agree. There are times Joe's been extraordinarily kind and helpful to me. But in the end, it always degenerates into angry confrontations that I never start.

Still, I make sure to check in when he's out sick, or when his wife's not feeling well, or when his daughter's ex-husband is causing trouble. Because we're family, right? One big ridiculously dysfunctional family.

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Previously in I Am A Retail Warrior:
* 15 Things We Wish Customers Knew.

* I Am Not Your Friend.

* Doggy Dress Code.

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Previously in Life At Work: Barista! Tales From The Coffee Front; At Your Service; I Am A Security Guard; I Am A Roofer; Working The Door; I Am A Wrigley Beer Vendor; I Am A Pizza Delivery Guy; and the original Life at Work.

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Jane Harper is our pseudonymous retail correspondent. She welcomes your comments.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:40 AM | Permalink

October 4, 2015

What If?

That's the big question as the Cubs embark once more unto the breach, dear friends. What if they win the whole thing?

Sure it's been speculated upon for years - the part about the Cubs faithful burning the city to the ground and wandering the ruins for months in a drunken stupor. And, yeah, that could really happen.

But how would all things Cub really change? I've been thinking in terms of all the things that would go away, never to be thought of again. I submit to you a list.

* The Billy Goat Tavern(s). Poof! Gone. Replaced in an instant with Beachwood Inns.

* Black cats would suddenly turn white.

* Steve Bartman would become a hero upon physicists determining that going back in time and making him sit down would have delayed a World Series championship by another 100 years.

* 1969, 1984, 1989, 1998, 2003, 2007 and 2008 would vanish from the world's calendars.

* Lee Elia's voice would suddenly disappear from that audio.

* Tom Trebelhorn's firehouse chat would turn into the time he put out the Chicago Fire.

* Babe Ruth's called shot would become a foul ball.

* Sammy Sosa's Flintstone vitamins would have really been Flintstone vitamins.

* Sammy Sosa's corked bat would have been corked with Flintstone vitamins.

* The Chicago Fire would become the Lovable Losers, and Section 8 the Bleacher Bums.

* We wouldn't bother hating Steve Garvey and Will Clark anymore.

* Every failed closer would be erased from our memory banks, as would Corey Patterson's stubborn at-bats, Don Baylor's thousand-yard stare, Dusty Baker's bullshit, Uncle Lou's dementia, and the impotence of Mike Quade, Dale Sveum and Ricky Renteria.

* That loudmouth White Sox fan you work with . . . would still be a loudmouth White Sox fan. Let's be real.

* The video scoreboards and lights and CBOE seats and ads on the brick behind home plate would all disappear, and old Wrigley would become old Wrigley again.

* Harry Caray would walk out of the ivy to call games for us again.

* Chip Caray would work far away, calling games for a semipro league in Butte.

* The outfield of Soriano, Fukudome and Bradley would remain intact - for the Yankees.

* No one would ever again utter that "The Cubs will never win because they are the Cubs."

Oh, who are we kidding, those things will never change; that's the Cubs lore that would make a World Series win so much sweeter than any other franchise could deliver.

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The Season in Review: The Cubs closed out the regular season on an eight-game winning streak and came up just one game short of hosting the Wild Card game and three games shy of the division-winning Cardinals. Hey, you know what? The Cubs went 5-3 to open the season without Kris Bryant! Maybe those first 10 "Let's all pretend we think Kris Bryant is not ready" games cost the Cubs after all!

The Postseason In Preview: The postseason so far is just one game in Pittsburgh. We'll take it.

The Second Basemen Report: Arismendy Alcantara, Javy Baez, Chris Coghlan, Starlin Castro, Jonathan Herrera, Tommy La Stella and Addison Russell all played second base for the Cubs this season. And we were so sure the position had stabilized that we briefly dropped this segment in favor of The Left Fielder Report.

In former Cubs second basemen news, Elliot Taylor "Bump" Wills last played second base for the Cubs in 1982. Bump, the son of Maury, was a disappointment as the 6th overall pick in the 1975 draft, but he did notch a career .266 BA and .335 OBP, which would make Bump totally a candidate for the Cubs right now. He is missed.

Mad(don) Scientist: Big Poppa Joe should win Manager of the Year, if not Manager of the Decade and perhaps even Best Manager of the Cubs Ever. And he's a Spoxer. Yeah, it's spinning and boxing. Who knew you could combine those things and make a movement out of it? I'll tell you who knew: Joe Maddon knew. And he'll make it chill and fun and super laid-back to do, and you'll be successful doing it because, well, because Joe Maddon.

Wishing Upon A Starlin: Everyone's favorite Castro (sorry, Fidel) finished the season on a tear; he did so well that he finished above replacement level, which isn't bad for a guy who was, well, replaced.

Kubs Kalender: No giveaways in the playoffs. Just a big trophy at the end of them all. And then the looting and fires, of course.

Ameritrade Stock Pick Of The Week: Beware overvalued shares of We Told You So; futures are tricky.

Over/Under: The number of hits Jake Arrieta gives up on Wednesday: +/- 2.5.

Beachwood Sabermetrics: A complex algorithm performed by The Cub Factor staff using all historical data made available by Major League Baseball has determined that Gerrit Cole is also good.

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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 10:26 PM | Permalink

The Season In Verse | Could Hardly Be Worse

Call it our National Pastime
Or America's Game,
But the way the White Sox play it,
Is just a doggone shame.

Where is the energy?
What happened to the drive?
Management keeps reminding us
They won it all in two thousand-five.

We all miss Minnie
And Billy Pierce has departed.
This season really ended
Almost as soon as it started.

Last in runs scored,
These guys couldn't reach base.
The defense had holes
That's why they're in fourth place.

Runner after runner
Was left on base
While hitters struck out, popped up, made outs
At a very alarming pace.

You can't blame the fans
For wanting Ventura to go.
Where are the fundamentals
Three losing years in a row?

But Robin will return.
The Chairman rewards loyalty,
But how in the world
Is his manager still royalty?

Hahn made headlines;
He signed Melky and Zach Duke.
LaRoche came on board.
Excuse me if I puke.

The Shark raised our hopes,
But we forgot a major rub.
We overlooked his past,
The guy used to be a Cub.

Abreu joined Pujols.
He mostly hit in the clutch;
30 homers, 101 RBI,
But they didn't help so much.

Chris Sale passed Ed Walsh;
He fanned 274 batters.
Yet he was just 13-11,
Isn't that what matters?

Look for a change at shortstop.
Alexei should be on his way.
His option calls for ten million.
That's way too much to pay.

The team's stable of lefties
Pitched well at times,
But the lack of support
Should be a federal crime.

Quintana has mastered
The art of no decision.
Hahn may have to deal him
To compete in the Central Division.

Danks makes big bucks,
But he's failed to deliver.
When his changeup isn't working,
He pitches like chopped liver.

Third base was a problem
We need a stud who can rake.
Not Gillaspie nor Beckham,
And Mike Olt is a fake.

Sanchez and Saladino
Have gloves that are nifty.
Is it too much to expect
That they hit two-fifty?

Imposing Avi Garcia
Was once considered Miggy's clone.
An exciting thought to be sure,
Until he enlarged his strike zone.

Adam Eaton hit leadoff;
He averaged over two-eighty.
His fielding is adequate,
His base running a bit crazy.

One bright spot emerged
In a Thompson named Trayce.
He can hit and he's fast;
What's he doing in this place?

Another shining light
Is pitcher Carlos Rodon.
But who's going to catch him?
It's still the same old song.

Changes are needed,
But it's tough to see them.
They could have axed Robin,
And brought back Guillen.

The team is so broken;
The repair will take time.
Certainly far longer
Than writing this rhyme.

But take heart, Sox fans,
Hold off on your discord.
No doubt you're going to love
The giant new video boards.

Despite all the folly
That make us want to scream,
When it's all said and done
The Sox are still our team.

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

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:03 PM | Permalink

Myth Vs. Fact: Violence And Mental Health

This story was last updated on June 18, 2015.

After mass shootings, like the ones these past weeks in Las Vegas, Seattle and Santa Barbara, the national conversation often focuses on mental illness. So what do we actually know about the connections between mental illness, mass shootings and gun violence overall?

To separate the facts from the media hype, we talked to Dr. Jeffrey Swanson, a professor in psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the Duke University School of Medicine, and one of the leading researchers on mental health and violence. Swanson talked about the dangers of passing laws in the wake of tragedy - and which new violence-prevention strategies might actually work.

Here is a condensed version of our conversation, edited for length and clarity:

Mass shootings are relatively rare events that account for only a tiny fraction of American gun deaths each year. But when you look specifically at mass shootings - how big a factor is mental illness?

On the face of it, a mass shooting is the product of a disordered mental process. You don't have to be a psychiatrist: What normal person would go out and shoot a bunch of strangers?

But the risk factors for a mass shooting are shared by a lot of people who aren't going to do it. If you paint the picture of a young, isolated, delusional young man - that probably describes thousands of other young men.

A 2001 study looked specifically at 34 adolescent mass murderers, all male. 70 percent were described as a loner; 61.5 percent had problems with substance abuse; 48 percent had preoccupations with weapons; 43.5 percent had been victims of bullying. Only 23 percent had a documented psychiatric history of any kind - which means 3 out of 4 did not.

People with serious mental illnesses, like schizophrenia, do have a slightly higher risk of committing violence than members of the general population. Yet most violence is not attributable to mental illness. Can you walk us through the numbers?

People with serious mental illness are three to four times more likely to be violent than those who aren't. But the vast majority of people with mental illness are not violent and never will be. Most violence in society is caused by other things.

Even if we had a perfect mental health care system, that is not going to solve our gun violence problem. If we were able to magically cure schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and major depression, that would be wonderful, but overall violence would go down by only about 4 percent.

Federal law prohibits people who have been involuntarily committed to a mental institution from owning guns. Is that targeting the right people?

The criteria we have are both over-inclusive and under-inclusive at the same time. They capture a lot of people who are not really at risk, at least not anymore. For instance, think about someone who had a suicidal mental health crisis 25 years ago, was involuntarily hospitalized, but now they're recovered and fine, they haven't had problems in years. They want to get a job as a security guard and they can't because they can't possess firearms.

Under-inclusive, because think about someone who's in the middle of their first episode of psychosis, but hasn't been treated. This might be a serious, dangerous mental health crisis - a person with paranoid delusions, believing that everyone else is out to get him, isolated, maybe drinking heavily - but he is not disqualified from going and purchasing any number of guns.

Then there's another problem: Even if someone has a record of serious mental illness, these records might not actually make it into the background check system.

Reporting [of mental health records] is spotty. Mayors Against Illegal Guns put out this report [which found that, as of 2014, 12 states have still reported fewer than 100 mental health records to the national background check system.]

In one recent study, you found that adding more mental health records to the background check system can prevent some violence - but only a very small amount. Can you explain what you found?

The State of Connecticut provided a natural experiment. Prior to 2007, they didn't report mental health records to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, and after that they did.

We compared two groups of people over eight years. Everyone had been hospitalized and had a major diagnosable psychiatric disorder, such as schizophrenia. One group had been hospitalized involuntarily, and was disqualified from buying guns. One group had been voluntarily hospitalized.

The criteria for involuntary commitment are intertwined with dangerousness and violence. Before Connecticut began reporting mental health records [to the background check system], people who had been involuntarily committed had a higher likelihood, month by month, of committing violence. After the period when the gun provisions were enforced, the difference went away - a 53 percent drop in their likelihood of committing a violent crime.

So blocking people with serious mental illnesses from buying guns worked - but it didn't have a huge impact. Adding the mental health records only prevented an estimated 14 violent crimes a year, or less than one half of 1 percent of the state's overall violent crime. Why is that?

The people who were [actually disqualified from buying guns] were only 7 percent of the study population of people with serious mental illness - and only a very, very small proportion of people at risk of engaging in violent crime.

It's like if you had a vaccine that was going to work against a particular public health epidemic, but only 7 percent of the people got the vaccine. It might work great for them, but it's not going to affect the epidemic.

After the Santa Barbara shootings, the House of Representatives approved an additional $19.5 million to help states add more mental health records to the background checks system - a rare bipartisan move. Do we know if adding more records nationwide will have a big impact on violence?

[There's an idea that] once we do that, it's going to have a big effect. We haven't done a lot of research on it.

When one of these mass shootings has occurred, there's immediately a lot of attention and finger-pointing. Mental health becomes the one square inch of common real estate between people who want to reform the mental health care system, and gun rights people.

So, if our current standards for denying people gun rights based on mental illness doesn't work very well, what would a better policy look like?

We want to focus more on behavioral indicators of risk, and not so much on "mental health" and "mental illness" as a category.

Even though the large majority of people with mental illnesses are never violent, there may be times in the course of illness and treatment when we do know that risk is elevated. One of those times is the period surrounding involuntary hospitalization. We think that if there are indicators of risk, that should be a time when firearms are removed - at least temporarily - with an opportunity for restoration of gun rights when the person no longer poses a public safety risk.

There are lots of states when people are involuntarily detained for a 72-hour hold, never have a commitment hearing, and are not prohibited from firearms. People in that time frame, if guns were temporarily removed from them, that might have a big impact, particularly on suicide.

California Democrats are pushing a new state law that would create a "gun violence restraining order," based on the model of a domestic violence restraining order. [Update: Governor Jerry Brown signed the bill into law in September 2014. It will go into effect on January 1, 2016.] With a judge's order, law enforcement would be allowed to temporarily take away someone's guns. Is this a better model?

Yes. There are times when a family member, or people who know someone, can be legitimately concerned that person poses a threat. They might not have committed a crime. They might not even be having a mental health crisis. But if there were a way for family members to get law enforcement involved, that might actually save some lives.

In the Santa Barbara shooting, for example, the police were called. His family was concerned for him. But he didn't meet the criteria to be involuntarily detained.

Gun violence restraining orders would allow people to say that someone seems dangerous, and have their guns temporarily taken away. How do you protect against someone abusing this law?

Connecticut, Indiana and Texas already have a dangerous person gun seizure law. With the gun violence restraining order idea, a judge would make that decision. There has to be evidence there. There is a constitutional right at stake.

You talk a lot about the tension between the way the media portrays mental health and violence, and the reality of the problem. If 'mental health' isn't the key to violence in America, what is?

Violence is not distributed at random. If you look at the victims of homicide, for example, young African American men are far more likely to be victims.

We need to think of violence itself as a communicable disease. We have kids growing up exposed to terrible trauma. We did a study some years ago, looking at [violence risk] among people with serious mental illness. The three risk factors we found were most important: first, a history of violent victimization early in life; second, substance abuse; and the third is exposure to violence in the environment around you. People who had none of those risk factors - even with bipolar disorder and schizophrenia - had very low rates of violent behavior.

Abuse, violence in the environment around you - those are the kinds of things you're not going to solve by having someone take a mood stabilizer.

What are the best ways of figuring out who is likely to become violent?

If someone has a history of any kind of violent or assaultive behavior, that's actually a better predictor of future violence than having a mental health diagnosis. If someone has a conviction for a violent misdemeanor, we think there's evidence, they ought to be prohibited [from owning guns.] Things like a history of two DUI or DWI convictions, being subject to a temporary domestic violence restraining order, or convicted of two or more misdemeanor crimes involving a controlled substance in a five-year period.

Those are the evidence-based recommendations of the Consortium for Risk-Based Firearms Policy [a group of mental health, gun violence, and legal experts who came together after the Sandy Hook shootings. You can also read their full federal policy recommendations and state policy recommendations.]

Most of our peer high-income countries can take a different approach. They can say, it's just too dangerous for someone to have a personal handgun for their own protection. They broadly limit legal access to guns. That's why they have lower homicide rates. What we try to do is keep the guns out of the hands of dangerous people, and that's hard, because it's hard to predict, and we have almost more guns than people.

What do we know about the risk factors for school shootings, in particular?

Katherine Newman's book Rampage, which looks at school shootings, identifies five common factors. Every shooter in her study had some kind of "psychosocial problems," which may include mental illness.

The other factors: Shootings tend to happen in smaller communities, where everybody knows everybody, and the person who does the shooting perceives himself as purely marginal. And there are cultural scripts that give them a model: the idea that if you go out and shoot people, you're going to become this notorious anti-hero, on the front pages of every newspaper.

Then there's the failure of surveillance systems - a teacher might have seen that the shooter was troubled, or it might be another kid. If everybody had been able to sit down together and connect the dots, they might have realized what was happening.

And the fifth factor is the availability of the weapons.

You've written a lot about the danger of making policy in the wake of high-profile tragedies. From the mental health perspective, what are the one or two worst laws pushed through in the wake of the Sandy Hook shootings?

One was the particular feature of the New York SAFE Act that put in place mandated reporting by mental health professionals of clients who disclosed a risk of harming themselves or others. They were required to report the names of individuals to the police, so that the names could be matched to the gun permit database and their guns taken away. A lot of mental health professionals in New York [did not support this] because of the potential chilling effect. It might keep people away from help-seeking and inhibit their disclosures in therapy.

You've estimated that preventing mental health-related gun deaths could save 100,000 lives over a decade - but most of these would not be mass shooting victims, or even gun homicides.

Everyone has been through our National Mall and seen the Vietnam Memorial - what a sobering sight it is to look at 58,000 names, over a 10-year period of time, U.S. military deaths. But if we were to build a monument to commemorate all the people who died as a result of a gunshot in the last 10 years, we would need a monument five times bigger than the Vietnam Memorial.

I've done these back-of-the envelope calculations. If you were to back out all the risk associated with mental illness that's contributing to the 300,000 people killed by gunshot wounds in the last ten years, you could probably reduce deaths by about 100,000 people. Ninety-five percent of the reduction would be from suicide. Only 5 percent would be from reducing homicide.

Mental illness is a strong risk factor for suicide. It's not a strong risk factor for homicide.

So if what matters is preventing suicides, why are we talking about guns?

Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem. Lots of times, it's the impulsive action of a young person who's intoxicated. There's a huge possibility to prevent it. If a person survives a suicide attempt, there's good evidence they're unlikely to go and die from another suicide.

But the fatality rate for gun suicide attempts is just huge. You might survive an overdose. You're not going to survive a shot to the brain at close range. At the time that someone is inclined to harm themselves, you don't want them to have a gun. I'm all for improved access to mental health care. But part of the suicide prevention puzzle has to do with limiting access to lethal means.

I don't think we're ever going to live in a world where we're not going to have troubled, confused, isolated young men. But we shouldn't live in a world where men like that have very easy access to semi-automatic handguns.

So what are some of the ways to limit access to lethal means?

We're not a country like the UK or like Australia, where we can say, "Let's just limit legal access to handguns." Guns are here to stay. Universal background checks, I would support. That, all by itself, wouldn't be sufficient. We need to do something about limiting access to the guns people already have when they are inclined to harm others or themselves. In some states, 50 percent of people live in homes where they have guns already.

I have colleagues who are psychiatrists. When they see patients with serious depression, they counsel them about the danger of having a gun in the house. They have a conversation with family members. You can do a lot without invoking law, by talking to people about harm reduction and locking up guns. Getting family members to voluntarily store guns somewhere else.

In Switzerland, an Army policy reform in the mid-2000s effectively cut in half the number of soldiers with guns stored in their homes. Researchers were able to show that this change in gun access resulted in a very significant decrease in the overall suicide rate.

We talked about why the current standards for disqualifying someone from owning a gun don't work very well. But there's also an interesting historical angle here. Why is the bar having been "committed to a mental institution"? Where does this standard come from?

The 1968 Gun Control Act - passed the year that Sen. Robert F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King, Jr. were assassinated.

When the law was enacted, the mental health system was very, very different. We had massive numbers of people locked up involuntarily in psychiatric hospitals, often for long periods of time. In 1950, there were about 500,000 people in these institutions. Now, after deinstitutionalization, there are probably 50,000.

Fewer people now are disqualified on the basis of a mental health record. That's not to say that the overall number of people disqualified from owning guns is lower. Some of the people who, in the old days, would have been disqualified because they were involuntarily committed - now some of them may have been disqualified due to a criminal record, and some would be incarcerated.

In Connecticut, we looked at 23,292 people with a history of serious mental illness. Only 7 percent of them were disqualified from owning guns because of mental health records. But 35 percent of them had a disqualifying criminal record.

But just because someone has a mental illness and they committed a crime - the illness isn't necessarily why they did it. Among these people with serious mental illness, the risk factors for committing a violent crime appeared to have more to do with the overall risk factors for violence: being young, male, socially disadvantaged, and involved with substance misuse.

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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 12:02 AM | Permalink

October 3, 2015

The Weekend Desk Report

The Cubs are in the playoffs. Me and Jim "Coach" Coffman talk about it and you should listen:

The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour #71: Kiddie Kubs Get Playoff Audition. Invited to cute play-in game. Plus: Inside Coach Coffman's Castle; The Immorality Of Daily Fantasy And Their Native Radio Announcer Advertising Tools; Jerry Reinsdorf's Pet Cemetery; The Ridiculous Resurrection Of Jay Cutler; The Bulls Are Back Dragging D-Rose's Baggage Around; and the Positive Coaching Alliance.

This is a particularly fun one; Coach is on fire. I'm reading books on the side just to keep up.

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About the Cubs' opponent, from Louisa Thomas at Grantland:

"Pittsburgh boasts one of the best outfields, best bullpens, and best rotations in the game. The Pirates have pitching talent to spare, Andrew McCutchen, Starling Marte. They have young players and old ones, phenoms and steady contributors, homegrown talent and one particularly fantastic international star. The front office is savvy with stats, and it's built a team that is balanced. And to show for it, the Pirates have the second-best record in baseball - and the best for most of the season, following a dismal first month and a half. But the Pirates don't have a great chance of making it into the division series, let alone playing for the World Series."

See also: The Cub-ler-Ross Model: How Pirates Fans Can Cope With Wild-Card Angst.

Although the writing device of using the five stages of grief really ought to be retired.

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Also from Grantland: Rizzo's Revenge: A New, Clutch-Driven Way To Look At Baseball's MVP Debate.

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Finally, let's acknowledge that the Bears play the Raiders on Sunday. Here's one more Grantland offering: From Marinovich To Russell To Carr: Have The Raiders Finally Found Their Quarterback?

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As you read these pieces, ask yourself why modern newspaper sports sections don't look like Grantland. Answer: The old shall not lead the new. You will never shake the complacency, arrogance and ignorance out of the kind of editors and reporters who still proudly tweet out photos of their print articles and cover designs with their archaic columns and dumbshit punny unclickable headlines.

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P.S.: This was a nice way to open the Twins' game story today from the Minneapolis Star Tribune:

"It took nine gloomy innings for 2016 to arrive. Chris Young limited the Twins to one run on four lousy singles, Glen Perkins gave up a pair of run-scoring hits, and playoff fever was broken at Target Field when Kansas City walked away with a 3-1 victory that leaves the Twins staring at wild-card oblivion."

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I submit to you: There is only one world-class sportswriter in Chicago.

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The Sound Opinions Weekend Listening Report: "London Calling, the double-album masterpiece by British punk band The Clash, recently celebrated its 35th anniversary. Jim and Greg pay it tribute with a Classic Album Dissection. Then they review the new albums by electronic duo Disclosure and rock icon Keith Richards."

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Weekend BeachBook

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Weekend TweetWood

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The Weekend Desk Tip Line: Blank space.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 11:17 AM | Permalink

October 2, 2015

The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour #71: Kiddie Kubs Get Playoff Audition

Invited to cute play-in game. Plus: Inside Coach Coffman's Castle; The Immorality Of Daily Fantasy And Their Native Radio Announcer Advertising Tools; Jerry Reinsdorf's Pet Cemetery; The Ridiculous Resurrection Of Jay Cutler; The Bulls Are Back Dragging D-Rose's Baggage Around; and the Positive Coaching Alliance.


SHOW NOTES

* Ron Yary.

* The Fearsome Foursome.

* The Purple People Eaters.

* The Doomsday Defense.

* Israel Idonije!

* Henry Burris was No. 10.

1:50: Kiddie Kubs Get Playoff Audition.

* Are The Cubs Better Off Playing The Wild-Card Game On The Road? No. Not even close.

* Les the Beer Vendor.

* No more second-guessing.

* Olney: Pirates Must Change Approach Against Arrieta, And Must Work On It Now.

* Jesse Rogers: Cubs' Achilles Heel: Getting Runners Home From Third.

* 2013: Gov. Kasich Backs Cincinnati Reds During MLB Playoff Push.

* In River North on Tuesday: "Before sitting down to eat, Kasich, who was born and raised in Pittsburgh, also criticized Major League Baseball's one-game wild-card playoff format - which could feature his Pirates and the Cubs.

"How ridiculous is it that these two teams, in all likelihood, Pittsburgh and Chicago, will play one lousy game? It's time to change this. This is an outrage," he said.

* And Dusty's not even there anymore:

* Coming Soon: Instant Cup-O-Game Seven.

20:35: Inside The Coffman Sports Castle.

* Noah's Ark.

15:18: Fantasy Sports Radio Is The Worst.

* Is this okay, Matt Spiegel?

“[T]he top 100 ranked players enter 330 winning lineups per day, and the top 10 players combine to win an average of 873...

Posted by The Beachwood Reporter on Tuesday, September 15, 2015

* Everyone wants a piece of the action - at your expense:

33:20: The Cubs Only Payroll Limit Is Their Own Greed.

34:56: The Ridiculous Resurrection Of Jay Cutler.

* If he's the answer, you're asking the wrong question.

* The worse a team is, the more valuable Jay Cutler will be!

* Bears wore out their punter, may miss Raiders game.

* Phil Simms, everybody:

* Jerry Reinsdorf's pet cemetery:

47:10: The Bulls Are Back, Dragging D-Rose's Baggage All Around The Court!

* Derrick Rose's Week So Far: Money, Sex And Surgery.

* Bulls Sign Stefhon Hannah.

* Telander: Chicago's Own Stefhon Hannah Gets A Chance With The Bulls.

58:25: The Positive Coaching Alliance.

pca.jpg

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STOPPAGE: 6:40

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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 1:22 PM | Permalink

The Week In Chicago Rock

You shoulda been there.

1. Heavy Times at Door No. 3 on Wednesday night.


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2. The Makeovers at Door No. 3 on Wednesday night.

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3. Skip Church at Door No. 3 on Wednesday night.

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4. A Place To Bury Strangers at the Empty Bottle on Tuesday night.

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5. Trivium at the Concord on Tuesday night.

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6. Tremonti at the Concord on Tuesday night.

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7. Wilson at the Concord on Tuesday night.

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8. Joywave at Lincoln Hall on Wednesday night.

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9. Ho Etsu Taiko at the Old Town School on Wednesday night.

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10. One OK Rock at the House of Blues on Tuesday night.

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11. ZZ Ward at the House of Blues on Sunday night.

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12. Madonna on the West Side on Monday night.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 3:16 AM | Permalink

Local Book Notes: The Inner Lives Of Animals, Newsrooms & Derrick Rose

"Sperm whales have the largest brains on earth - around six times larger on average than our own - while bottlenosed dolphins have the largest brains relative to body size, with the exception of humans," Tim Flannery writes in "The Amazing Inner Lives of Animals" for the New York Review of Books.

"Along with killer whales, these species have a place beside the elephants, dogs, and great apes in the animal intelligentsia. The Cultural Lives of Whales and Dolphins [University of Chicago Press] is a comprehensive academic work by researchers who have devoted their careers to studying sperm and killer whales.

"Ocean-going and deep diving, sperm whales are difficult to study, and researchers can as yet offer only a bare sketch of their societies. But it's already clear that their social organization has remarkable parallels with that of elephants. Like elephants, sperm whale females and young often live in 'clans' of up to thirty individuals, while adult males, except when mating, live separate lives.

"Sperm whale clans possess distinctive 'dialects' of sonar clicks. These are passed on by learning, and act as markers of clan identity. They are an important part of the whale's communication system, which enables the creatures to synchronize their diving, feeding, and other activities. So social are sperm whales that females share the care of the young of their clan, for example by staying at the surface with a young whale while its mother dives for food. Clan members are so closely bonded that they spend extended periods at the surface, nuzzling one another or staying in close body contact. As with elephants, clans can gather in large congregations, so it seems reasonable to assume that sperm whales have the capacity to memorize large social networks.

"Killer whales (otherwise known as orcas) have a very different social organization. Without doubt their most unusual characteristic is that all male killer whales are deeply involved with their mother. They never leave their mother's clan, and despite their enormous size (growing to twice the weight of females), their fates remain deeply intertwined with those of their mothers. If their mothers should die, even fully adult males over thirty years old (they can live to over sixty) face an eight-fold increase in their risk of death. Just how and why the orphaned adult males die remains unclear."

Killing The Media
"The Internet and social networks have opened up new avenues of communication for women and people of color, but mainstream news is still not adequately including minority communities in the conversation," Bitch notes.

"How Racism and Sexism Killed Traditional Media: Why the Future of Journalism Depends on Women and People of Color by Joshunda Sanders reveals the lack of diversity that persists in the media today. Uncovering and analyzing the racial bias in the media and in many newsrooms, this book reveals the lesser-known side of the media - newsrooms and outlets that are often fraught with underlying racist and sexist tension."

From an interview featured in Bitch's e-mail newsletter:

"I started the book while I was writing media critiques for the Maynard Institute for Journalism Education in 2012, after a decadelong career in the newspaper industry and with nearly 15 years of experience as a freelance journalist. Since the book is part of Praeger's Racism in American Institutions series, my focus was initially on racism in American news organizations. But about halfway through, I realized that sexism, like racism, was a major part of the story of how media organizations have failed to integrate both people of color and women in order to remain relevant."

Derrick's Anatomy
"There's a new book out called Basketball Anatomy, written by the Chicago Bulls team doctor Brian Cole," Kevin Ding notes for Bleacher Report. "A player wrote the foreword to the book, and I'll let you guess which one."

You can read it here.

And here's a trailer for the book:

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 2:18 AM | Permalink

Goodbye Live Lottery Drawings

Live TV lottery drawings have come to an end in Illinois.

"Wednesday's drawing was the last one aired live on WGN-TV, marking the end of an era as the Illinois Lottery transitions to a new digital system," the Tribune reports. "Starting Thursday, drawings for Pick 3, Pick 4, Lotto with Extra Shot and Lucky Day Lotto will simply be posted on www.illinoislottery.com."

Let's take a look at live TV lottery drawings over the years.

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1976, WSNS Channel 44:


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1984, when WFLD Channel 32 won the lottery from WGN:

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1984, WFLD Channel 32:

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1986, WFLD Channel 32:

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1987, WGN:

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1996, WGN:

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1999, WGN:

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2009, WGN:

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"Lottery host Linda Kollmeyer conducted the final drawing shortly after the start of the 9 p.m. newscast and signed off with a brief speech before being cut off by the sponsor message.

"Every one of you is a winner," Kollmeyer said before a sponsor message appeared but she could be heard continuing. "You know why? Because you've got it in your heart. This is not goodbye."

Um, okay. Exploiting people's desperate dreams for more than 20 years!

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"I try to base my life on karma."

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 1:33 AM | Permalink

Bankruptcy Lawyers Strip Cash From Indiana Coal Miners' Health Insurance

This story was co-published with The Daily Beast.

There was plenty in the complex deal to benefit bankers, lawyers, executives and hedge fund managers. Patriot Coal Corp. was bankrupt, but its mines would be auctioned to pay off mounting debts while financial engineering would generate enough cash to cover the cost of the proceedings.

When the plan was filed in U.S. bankruptcy court in Richmond last week, however, one group didn't come out so well: 208 retired miners, wives and widows in southern Indiana who have no direct connection to Patriot Coal. Millions of dollars earmarked for their health care as they age would effectively be diverted instead to legal fees and other bills from the bankruptcy.

As coal companies go bankrupt or shut down throughout Appalachia and parts of the Midwest, the immediate fallout includes lost jobs and devastated communities. But the Indiana case stands out as an example of how financial deals hatched far from coal country can also endanger the future safety net.

At issue is health insurance promised to people who worked for the Squaw Creek Coal Company in Warrick County, Indiana, near Evansville, who, like other retired union miners, counted on coverage after they turned 55.

"We were assured as miners we would have lifetime health care benefits - no one ever envisioned that we would have to worry about these other things that were going on," said Bil Musgrave, 59, one of the retired miners in Indiana. "A lot of them depend entirely on this."

Secure health insurance has been one casualty of the wave of bankruptcies. Companies in decline are seeking to offload those obligations onto taxpayers, putting more stress on an already-strained federal safety net. An effort is underway in Congress to protect at least some families facing a loss in benefits because of the industry's turmoil, but its prospects are unclear.

Squaw Creek, where Musgrave started working almost 40 years ago, opened as a joint venture between Alcoa and Peabody Energy, the world's largest private-sector coal company. The unionized surface mine powered Alcoa's huge aluminum plant nearby. The venture mostly petered out by the late 1990s, though mining has since resumed in the same area, using non-union miners.

Under their union contract, miners who worked at least 20 years at Squaw Creek were entitled to a pension and to health care coverage once they reached 55. For many of those who are still under 65, this coverage is what they rely on; for those who are on Medicare, it offers a supplement to cover the extensive health care costs many of them now face.

Some suffer from black lung disease, while others, including Musgrave, have fought cancers they believe are linked to industrial waste dumps at Squaw Creek.

The Squaw Creek miners thought little of it when, in 2007, Peabody passed what remained of its Alcoa venture - some environmental reclamation work at the mine - to an offshoot called Heritage Coal, a subsidiary of a new entity Peabody created called Patriot Coal. The health care obligation for the retirees was assumed by Alcoa, which paid Patriot to administer the benefits.

The United Mine Workers of America estimates this has been costing Alcoa about $2 million per year to cover the 208 miners, wives and widows.

But here's where the financial engineering got complicated and ultimately threatened those benefits: Peabody also transferred to Patriot 13 percent of its coal reserves, and about 40 percent of its health care liabilities - the obligations for 8,400 former Peabody workers. A year later, Patriot was loaded up with even more costs when it acquired Magnum Coal, a subsidiary of the country's second-largest mining company, Arch Coal. This left Patriot with responsibility for another 2,300 retirees, and, by 2012, total liabilities of $1.37 billion.

It looked as if Patriot had been set up to fail, and in 2013 it in fact did, seeking Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Patriot emerged from bankruptcy later that year after getting an investment stake from a New York hedge fund called Knighthead Capital Management. Patriot also reached a deal with the mine workers union to have it take over responsibility for the health care of those nearly 11,000 retirees, with a promise of about $310 million from Patriot to help cover the cost.

Still, the deal wasn't enough to keep Patriot healthy. With the industry contracting even further amid competition from natural gas, tougher environmental regulations, and declining coals reserves in Appalachia, Patriot filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy yet again earlier this year. This time, its assets are being auctioned off.

Back in Indiana, there was no reason for the retired Squaw Creek miners to think their benefits were at risk from the Patriot bankruptcy, since they were being paid by Alcoa, a thriving company with $24 billion in annual revenue. But last week, Patriot's lawyers, from the firm Kirkland & Ellis, made two filings at the bankruptcy court in Richmond that caught the union and the retired miners by surprise.

In the filings, the lawyers informed the court that Patriot (or technically, its subsidiary Heritage) had negotiated a $22 million payment from Alcoa to assume the outstanding health care obligations for the Squaw Creek workers. The deal offers savings to Alcoa, given that the actuarial cost of the benefits is $40 million.

But here's the catch: Patriot is not putting the $22 million toward the Squaw Creek health care benefits. According to the court filings, only $4 million will go toward that purpose - $1 million for the benefits of former salaried managers at the mine, and $3 million for the rank-and-file miners.

The rest of the money from Alcoa - $18 million - is going to cover the costs of the bankruptcy. This includes the fees for Kirkland & Ellis, which has at least four attorneys from New York and Chicago on the case, and the Washington, D.C. restructuring advisory firm Alvarez & Marsal.

The agreement with Alcoa, one filing states, "allows the Debtors [that is, Patriot] to obtain cash in the amount of $22,000,000, which will be critical for funding the Debtors' costs associated with emerging from chapter 11."

In other words, the cash for health care benefits guaranteed to miners who never worked for Patriot Coal - who live in a state far from Patriot's base in West Virginia - is now being used to pay the bills of lawyers and other professionals overseeing the break-up of Patriot Coal.

The Kirkland & Ellis lawyers on the case either did not return calls and e-mails or declined to comment. A spokeswoman for Patriot said the company "has no further comment" beyond the filings. An Alcoa spokeswoman said that company also had no comment. Knighthead, the hedge fund behind Patriot, did not return calls.

Under Patriot's agreement with Alcoa, the Squaw Creek workers will be added to the larger pool of retirees covered under the union's 2013 agreement with Patriot. The people in that pool, who now number about 12,000, get health insurance from the union-supervised Voluntary Employee Beneficiary Association. But Patriot's $3 million contribution to the beneficiary fund will only cover about 18 months of benefits for the Squaw Creek miners - putting more stress on a fund that is already expected to run dry in a few years.

The union is pushing legislation in Congress that would put the 12,000 Peabody/Patriot retirees into yet another fund that has since 1992 been covering union retirees from shuttered mines. That fund was for years fed by the interest from fees coal companies were paying to restore abandoned mines, but since 2006 it has been buttressed by $490 million per year in taxpayer money. The bill has 54 co-sponsors, but is still awaiting a hearing in the House.

Meanwhile, Patriot's deal with Alcoa, and its plan to put most of the money toward bankruptcy costs, goes before the bankruptcy court Monday in Richmond for approval.

"What we're seeing here is a very shady deal to deprive 200-plus elderly and working Americans of the benefits they've earned so that these lawyers can put money in their pockets," said union spokesman Phil Smith.

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Related stories: For more coverage of labor and Wall Street, read ProPublica's previous reporting on vanishing worker protections, a hedge fund's $100 million payday and how the big banks maintain close ties with their overseers.

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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 12:56 AM | Permalink

Beachwood Photo Booth: Sunrise Strip

You rɐng?

sunsettraingraff.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.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Superheroic San Luis Freeze.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Evanston Oasis.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Lyndale Food & Jewelry.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Lincoln Tap.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Book Window.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Alco Dude.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Ballin Drugs.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Don't Worry, Be Cookie.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Four Trey.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: The Office.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: America From Inside The Golden Nugget In Ravenswood.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Cellphone Repair.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Boots 'N' Grill.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:36 AM | Permalink

The [Friday] Papers

Speaking of ConAgra . . .

"Illinois' flagship job program has awarded millions of dollars to companies that never hired an additional employee," the Tribune reports.

It's doled out millions more in tax breaks for corporations that eliminated jobs and became smaller.

And it's allowed companies to reap lucrative rewards and then relocate to other states without penalty or repayment.

Illinois cut these deals through a strategy dubbed EDGE - short for Economic Development for a Growing Economy - that was launched in 1999 by Gov. George Ryan as a way to create jobs and lure businesses from other states.

But what began as a modest number of tax breaks for a handful of companies has mushroomed into a billion-dollar giveaway rife with failure.

This isn't the first examination that has drawn that conclusion, though the Trib says it's the best. Consider:

In the first comprehensive analysis of 783 EDGE agreements, the Chicago Tribune found that two of every three businesses that completed the incentive program failed to maintain the number of employees they agreed to retain or hire.

State officials can't say how many jobs have been created through the job program; nor can they say how many jobs EDGE companies have eliminated. The Tribune, however, found that 79 current or former EDGE recipients have reported eliminating 23,369 jobs through layoffs and closures since entering the program.

As Jeb! Bush might say, it's free stuff for (rich) white people.

Officials have long pitched tax breaks as a competitive tool that bolsters the state's fragile economy, and the program has seen explosive growth as Illinois battles with other states to attract and retain businesses. Leaders of the EDGE program say it has been a lifeline for dozens of companies, helping to create new jobs and improve workplaces.

But the Tribune's analysis suggests that tax credits often do little to help companies expand or create sustainable jobs. A pattern of deals emerges in which businesses lobbied for maximum rewards and minimum requirements - and the state said yes.

In other words, it doesn't even help Illinois "compete" against other states in a race to the bottom. The losers are everyone who plays - or should I say, everyone who pays, which is you and I.

Incentives also carry a steep public cost. Every dollar awarded to a company is a dollar not collected to fund basic public services like education, transportation and health care.

Or, to put it another way:

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And just for good measure, while we're discussing taxpayer-supported spending priorities that place actual human lives below the comfort of the ultra-wealthy:

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"Illinois has earmarked more than $1 billion for EDGE credits, and companies have collected about $450.3 million so far, state records show. In the 2014 fiscal year, Illinois diverted a record $101.7 million in tax revenue from public programs back to the bottom line of businesses."

Sort of like the state's version of TIF districts. Call them BIFF districts.

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"Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner, who took office this year as a frequent critic of EDGE, has ordered the program to focus on creating jobs. But the Rauner administration expressed surprise at the Tribune's findings of widespread job losses and mounting costs."

And here's where the governor has pulled a double-switch. See, Rauner was elected based on his business experience finding "efficiencies" in struggling companies and either turning them around or shutting them down. Voters in the main, I'm confident in saying, expected Rauner to root out waste in state government and re-organize it more like a lean, mean business machine. For the most part he wasn't elected to hold the state budget hostage to a laundry list of unrelated items such as workman's comp "reform" that would hold businesses less accountable for maiming their workers.

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"Jim Schultz, director of the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, which oversees EDGE, characterized dozens of the deals as 'very distasteful.

Schultz said the Tribune's analysis also underscores how state law and policies have served to obscure public disclosure and accountability.

For instance, the state discloses the overall value of tax credits each company is eligible to claim but not how much a company actually received, saying tax records are confidential. State law requires an annual status report for each participant, but only for the first five years of the 10-year deals.

"It doesn't make sense to me. I'm a taxpayer. We're all taxpayers," Schultz said. "We ought to be disclosing this information."

Jim, Principal Rauner will be seeing you in his office now.

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Rauner says he froze the EDGE program in June amidst budget stress, but that the ConAgra deal announced on Thursday was actually made before that. First, I'd like to see the proof of that. Second, too bad - the EDGE offers could have been rescinded. Why should their agreement be honored when agreements with, oh, say child care providers aren't?

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Go read the whole thing, there's a lot more there.

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Credibility Publicly Shredded
"Chicago Public Schools lowered four years of inflated high school graduation rates to account for a higher-than-advertised dropout rate, another blow to a district beset by financial and professional turmoil," the Tribune reports.

"The accuracy of the district's numbers had been called into question as early as January in a report by CPS' inspector general. But CPS officials did not announce the revised graduation rates until Thursday, months after Mayor Rahm Emanuel won re-election.

"Throughout the campaign, Emanuel repeatedly pointed to the district's improving graduation rates as proof that his often-controversial stewardship of one of the nation's largest public school systems was producing tangible results.

"This wasn't a one-year fluke, a statistical error," Emanuel said during an August 2014 breakfast with faith leaders.

That's one step from lying directly to God!

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Let us recall now Sun-Times reporter Lauren FitzPatrick on this subject in June:

"Emanuel and the CPS officials he appointed have a history of making bold claims that either can't be verified or turn out to be exaggerated to make them look better."

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Back to today's Trib:

"CPS CEO Forrest Claypool said Thursday that the district made a 'statistical error' and that a 'relatively minor modification' was needed to recalculate graduation rates.

"The graduation rate has been consistently rising," Claypool said. "This statistical error obviously reduces the rapidity of that rise, but the trend line is exactly the same."

Is it?

"The changes mean the 69.4 percent five-year graduation rate originally reported by CPS for the 2013-14 school year, often touted by Emanuel as a record high, dropped to 66.3 percent. The new formula drops graduation rates between the 2010-11 and 2013-14 school years an average of more than 2 percentage points."

If that stat was merely a "relatively minor" difference, the district wouldn't have juked it.

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"During his campaign, Emanuel often said what he characterized as his politically tough decisions - pushing for a longer school day, expanding kindergarten and closing schools - paid dividends in the form of improved education performance. And there's no statistic he cited more than the city's graduation rate.

"While Emanuel frequently mentions the projection that 80 percent of high school freshmen are on track to graduate, the graduation rate he pointed to during the campaign hovered at 69 percent, which Emanuel claimed was up from 58 percent when he took office, according to CPS numbers at the time.

"The district's new calculations also led to an adjustment of freshmen on-track numbers, which dipped between 2010-11 and 2013-14 based on the new methodology."

Whoa, possibly burying the lead here! The on-track numbers have been the subject of glowing reports - and mayoral spin:

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Back to the Trib:

"According to the district, the graduation rate has risen for much of the last decade with the exception of one year, 2008, when numbers slipped slightly. The improvement falls in line with an increase generally seen across the country."

Emphasis mine, for obvious reasons.

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"Graduation rates at Chicago Public Schools are at an all-time high, and have been trending upwards for the last four years," Emanuel spokeswoman Kelley Quinn said in a statement issued late Thursday.'

Here we go again: CPS GRADUATION RATES ARE NOT AT AN ALL-TIME HIGH.

"An April 2014 report from the Institute of Education Sciences, the U.S. Department of Education's research branch, found that the four-year graduation rate in the United States rose during the 2011-12 school year to a historical high of 80 percent, up from 79 percent in the 2010-11 school year.

"The admission by CPS that the numbers Emanuel frequently has lauded were inflated could hamper the mayor's messaging on the topic in the future . . . "

Um, what? I think what the Tribune means here is that the mayor could be seen as lacking credibility when talking about graduate rates in the future, which is incredibly silly given that A) the mayor's pattern of making shit up hasn't hurt him yet, and B) it hasn't hurt him because the media didn't make an issue of his credibility gap during the last mayoral campaign. Also, it's not as if the mayor's only been caught making shit up on this topic; it started during his first mayoral campaign. (Truthfully, it's gone on his whole political career, but once he decided to run for mayor the press corps came down with a huge case of journesia.) Finally, it's up to the media - like the Tribune! - to decide if it will "hamper" the mayor's messaging. The Trib acts like it's not part of the process here.

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By the way, four years of inflated graduation rates squares exactly with Emanuel's tenure.

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"[I]t's unclear what impact the changes in calculations may have on one of Emanuel's top campaign goals - to graduate 85 percent of CPS students by 2019."

It's not unclear at all: That goal will be harder to make, if even by a few percentage points.

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"On Thursday, district officials sought to downplay the issue.

"We're not saying that the distinction between the former methodology and the new approach is significant," said chief education officer Janice Jackson. "I mean, obviously it's an adjustment, but what really is important is that there's been tremendous growth over time."

From what I just read, there's been the same growth in Chicago as in the rest of the nation.

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Here's how WBEZ reported it:

"The official graduation numbers that Mayor Rahm Emanuel touted throughout his first term and his re-election campaign were wrong."

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From the BGA:

"Chicago Public Schools acknowledged Thursday that its graduation rate - heralded by Mayor Rahm Emanuel during his re-election campaign because the number of students finishing high school was reportedly rising - was overstated."

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Beachwood Photo Booth: Sunrise Strip
You rang?

Goodbye Live Lottery Drawings
We look at some of our favorites.

Bankruptcy Lawyers Strip Cash From Indiana Coal Miners' Health Insurance
The cash for health care benefits guaranteed to miners who never worked for Patriot Coal - who live in a state far from Patriot's base in West Virginia - is now being used to pay the bills of lawyers and other professionals overseeing the break-up of Patriot Coal.

The Spongebob Cubs
Now with an intra-staff comment war!

The Inner Lives Of Animals, Newsrooms & Derrick Rose
Big brains, small minds, fragile bodies.

The Week In Chicago Rock
Featuring: Heavy Times, The Makeovers, Skip Church, A Place To Bury Strangers, Trivium, Tremonti, Wilson, Joywave, Ho Etsu Taiko, One OK Rock, ZZ Ward, and Madonna.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: The edge of tomorrow.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:22 AM | Permalink

October 1, 2015

The [Thursday] Papers

"ConAgra Foods said Thursday that it plans to move its headquarters to Chicago. It will eliminate 1,000 corporate jobs in Omaha and move at least 300 to the Windy City, cutting its salaried payroll in the area by more than half," the Omaha World-Herald reports.

"Omaha-based ConAgra said the moves are designed to achieve cost savings of $300 million as it remakes itself under pressure from investors."

I'm not sure this is something Chicago should celebrate.

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On Wednesday, the World-Herald reported this:

Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts said Tuesday he has spoken with ConAgra Foods Chief Executive Sean Connolly in recent days about a state aid package that would assist the Omaha-based company.

Ricketts told The World-Herald that such aid would not be limited to the standard tax and economic incentives already enshrined in Nebraska law.

"We are not restricting this to what is on the books," Ricketts said. "We are willing to work with them in whatever way necessary to help them be competitive in their industry."

The Chicago Tribune reported Tuesday that Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner has offered ConAgra tax incentives to move its headquarters to Chicago from Omaha. Crain's Chicago Business, a magazine, reported the move "appears to be a done deal." Neither cited sources, and their reports couldn't be independently verified. Rauner's office didn't respond to a request for comment, nor did the office of Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

The Chicago Tribune said Connolly negotiated the incentive package with Illinois months ago.

Pete Ricketts, of course, is the spitting image Republican son of "Government Handout Hypocrite" Joe Ricketts, who bought the the Cubs for son Tom and owns junior reporting outfit DNAinfo Chicago.

Rauner, of course, is the Republican governor who can't find money for kids on ventilators and is now "using an obscure rule-making process to repeatedly tighten eligibility requirements for numerous social service programs for children, the elderly and the disabled."

Rahm Emanuel, of course, is the Republicanish mayor of Chicago who will take credit for the whole thing while ignoring the damage to 1,500 livelihoods.

ConAgra is the company with $16 billion in revenue in its last fiscal year.

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Repeat offender:

"In 1986, the company threatened to leave Omaha for Tennessee, which offered substantial incentives to relocating companies. The Nebraska Legislature passed a suite of bills that lowered corporate taxes for qualifying companies, exempted computers and corporate jets and cut personal taxes on the wealthy.

"Those laws have since been superseded by new ones that offer tax credits for investment and job creation, worker training grants and money for land acquisition and improvements."

Among the moves made by Nebraska for ConAgra:

"Reduced the personal income tax on the wealthy, which would include top business executives, by about 30 percent."

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Deduce for yourself which Illinois pols will receive ConAgra's largesse.

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Bills ConAgra lobbied in 2014.

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New ConAgra CEO Sean Connolly lives in Winnetka, according to the Tribune. So, yeah, this move was really about shortening his commute.

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Connolly's big move when he was at Campbell's was to put the salt back in its soup. So mad skillz.

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ConAgra is a portmanteau of Consolidated Agriculture.

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Global warming laggards:

"ConAgra has been criticized for its lack of response to global climate change.

"A 2006 report by CERES, a non-profit organization that works to address global climate change and other sustainability issues, titled 'Corporate Governance and Climate Change: Making the Connection,' measures how 100 leading global companies are responding to global warming.

"Companies in the report were evaluated on a 0 to 100 scale. ConAgra scored a total of 4 points, the lowest of any of the food companies rated.

"In a 2009 ranking by Newsweek, ConAgra was ranked 342nd out of America's 500 largest corporations in terms of overall environmental score."

Yay, welcome to Chicago!

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Also: "Looking to fund the cleanup of a Superfund site in western New York, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has sued the property's operators, ConAgra Grocery Products Co. Inc. and a raft of other companies, accusing them of dumping hazardous waste [toxic sludge] on the grounds and seeking past and future response costs."

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Labor laggards:

"In May 2003, ConAgra and its subsidiary Gilroy Foods agreed to pay $1.5 million to settle charges of hiring discrimination brought by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

"The charges involved a July 1999 Teamsters strike at a plant in King City, California, then owned by Basic Vegetable Products LP but later purchased by ConAgra.

"In August 2001, the company successfully negotiated with the union to end the two-year strike with a new contract that would recall workers based on seniority.

"However, the recall process excluded workers who were on leave at the time of the purchase including those out due to work injury or pregnancy.

"Others were denied jobs due to a history of previous injury or illness, despite their having no restrictions on returning to work.

"According to the EEOC, most of the 39 workers who were excluded from the recall process had been working at the plant for 10 to 30 years and were primarily Hispanic and female."

Yay, welcome to Chicago!

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Fraud and bribery:

"In 1997, ConAgra pled guilty to federal criminal charges that its Peavey Grain unit illegally sprayed water on stored grain to increase its weight and value and also bribed federal inspectors.

"The company agreed to pay $8.3 million to resolve the charges, which included a $4.4 million criminal fine, $3.45 million as compensation for illegal profits and $450,000 to reimburse the U.S. Department of Agriculture for storage and investigation expenses.

"ConAgra had also paid $2 million to settle a related civil case filed by a group of Indiana farmers.

"Multinational Monitor, a corporate watchdog organization, named ConAgra one of the 'Top 100 Corporate Criminals of the 1990s."

More specifically, ConAgra was ranked 50th among the top 100 corporate criminals of the '90s.

Yay, welcome to Chicago!

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Pattern of threats and historic preservation destruction:

"In 1988, ConAgra threatened relocating out of Omaha, moving to Denver, Chicago or Minneapolis if the city didn't help them find a new location for their headquarters.

"[CEO] Charles Harper requested that the city of Omaha demolish the historic site, one of the largest sites on the National Register of Historic Places

" Omaha approved the demolition of over 20 historic structures in 'Jobbers Canyon Historic District,' a 19th-century warehouse district along the banks of the Missouri River in Downtown Omaha, Nebraska.

"The demolition was performed to make room for a sprawling new corporate campus and headquarters, and prompted protests and lawsuits from historic preservationists. [Harper] described the structures as 'some big, ugly red brick buildings.'

"The National Trust for Historic Preservation asked that the historic legacy of a city and region not be held hostage to the narrow corporate preferences of a single commercial enterprise, but ConAgra refused to reconsider."

Yay, welcome to Chicago!

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And who can forget the Slim Jim factory explosion of 2009?

"On June 9, 2009 at 11:27 am ET, the Slim Jim manufacturing plant in Garner, North Carolina, was rocked by an explosion that resulted in the collapse of a section of the facility's roof and wall.

"Four workers were killed while 67 others - including three firefighters - were hospitalized for burns and exposure to ammonia gases.

"The explosion happened when natural gas was purged into the interior of the building during commissioning of a new, gas-fired water heater.

"This explosion was directly responsible for an amendment to the National Fuel Gas Code prohibiting fuel gas piping systems in large buildings from being purged indoors."

Yay, welcome to Chicago!

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See also: ConAgra Forced To Apologize For Tricking Bloggers Into Eating ConAgra Food.

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Roger Waters The Wall Is Back
New film, old classic, timeless relevance.

The Spongebob Cubs
Juiceboxes for everyone!

The Blue & Orange Kool-Aid Report
Fury road.

Derrick Rose's Week So Far: Money, Sex & Surgery
An elbow to the face may have been the best thing that could have happened to him.

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BeachBook

This dude is taking his collection to Minnesota.

Posted by The Beachwood Reporter on Thursday, October 1, 2015

Gain ConAgra, lose Science.

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But we've got ConAgra!

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Now featuring ConAgra press releases!

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Rauners, Ricketts' and Rahms in training.

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Here is our groundbreaking police accountability website! For the first time in America you can access 15 years of a police accountability agency's documents. We have data going back to January 1, 1999.

Posted by The Beachwood Reporter on Wednesday, September 30, 2015

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Consolidated.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:43 AM | Permalink

Roger Waters The Wall Is Back

"On September 29, Roger Waters The Wall premiered in nearly 3,000 theaters around the world. The film puts a new twist on Pink Floyd's revolutionary concept album The Wall, released in 1979.

"Waters sat down with RT correspondent Anya Parampil to discuss the new project, and to air his views on power and the media.

"He also talks about his activism surrounding justice in Palestine, BDS of Israel, and Guantanamo Bay, particularly the release of Shaker Aamer. Waters finally asks: Why are we killing the children?"


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"Due to phenomenal fan demand, more shows of Roger Waters The Wall have been added across the US. Please check rogerwatersthewall.com for details."

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 2:33 AM | Permalink

The Spongebob Cubs

That old saw that parents should not be their kids' best friend?

Cubs win big tonight and there's Maddon out on the field high-fiving them all: "You are the greatest and most bestest and nicest bunch of guys every minute of every day I have ever seen! You are truly great and you are loved! Juice boxes for everyone!"

I think I'm gonna hurl.

The manager moles into the tunnel, talks about it in the press meet and goes on. These are spoiled rotten, overpaid, multimillionaires simply doing their jobs, except for those players who are striking out 34% of the time or styling every high popup. Spongebob pajamas? No fucking way! Attention deficit anyone? Do they need their minds occupied? Maybe.

Champagne at every turn? I believe MLB orders it, so they can sell hats. Notice those hats? "PLAYOFFS" it said on the forehead. Generic feel-good. Complete with space age goggles to avoid the sting.

Every team does it, I know. But do the Cubs need so much self esteem that they must manufacture it 48 hours later? And walk out onto the field to "thank the fans?" Self-adulation is more like it. Shouldn't they have been concerned that they lost three in a row and four of six?

Sadistic, vicious executioners, runs-wise, so nasty that the other teams wonder and fear what you are capable of. Coming into a game knowing you have a struggle on your hands. Make them loathe coming into the Cubs ballpark. THAT'S a winning team, a winning culture. NEVER, EVER tip your emotions, happiness or sadness. Winning says it all, says everything. Two words: "We won." You leave it at that.

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Comments welcome.

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1. From Marty Gangler:

Geez Tom, just yell at all those kids to get off your lawn.

Maddon's credo is "Don't let the pressure surpass the pleasure." Or something close to that. He never waivers on that. And it's clearly working. Maybe the Cubs should bring back Dusty "Play The Vets" Baker or Sweet "Where Are My Pants Again?" Piniella. You think this team would have responded like this with these great baseball minds at the helm?

Big Poppa Joe has played these guys like fiddles and has milked as much out of this team as possible this season. Getting mad about how a manager communicates effectively to his team is kind of like sitting on your front porch hoping for ball that the neighborhood kids are playing with goes on your property so you can take it away from them and spoil their fun. It's just being jerky. So drink your lemonade and enjoy the ride, or go inside and watch Matlock and leave the kids alone.

Tom replies:

WOW!

It's all such a saccharin railroad spike to the brain after every one of 95+ wins, with one-run or come-from-behind wins off the charts. I don't doubt Maddon's value, I'll just say the self-esteem movement has reached the majors, and it's not just the Cubs. If they do win the World Series, what will they have left in their Neverland tanks? Will they float like Tinkerbells in the LED glow of the video boards? Will they all be given a gem-encrusted 2015 We Made The One-Game Play-In ring? If you don't win it all, you ain't won nothin'.

Marty replies:

Well, back in my day the Cubs were terrible and had nothing to celebrate. And we liked it!

Tom replies:

The New Luvable Cubbies and flowing water on Mars. It's overwhelming!

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 2:04 AM | Permalink

The Blue & Orange Kool-Aid Report: Fury Road

Pee Yew "N" "T"
Busy day for starting punter Pat O'Donnell, who successfully kicked the ball away from Jimmy Clausen in every Bears offensive series.

In case you missed the game, congratulations on your exciting day of yardwork, tax prep, abortion, or any of the other activities that were more entertaining than the process of watching last Sunday's contest in Seattle.

The game was the worst kind of bad: uninteresting.

A train wreck that you couldn't stop not looking at.

True story: I spent a significant portion of the second quarter actively listening to a conversation between the bartender and her manager regarding the whereabouts of a blue binder where all of the establishment's personnel policies and procedures are kept (Rule 12 - do not drink with the co-worker you are currently railing on the premises when only one of you is working a second shift).

When I returned my attention to the game, head coach John Fox was running out to midfield to offer a conciliatory handshake to his counterpart Pete Carroll, even though it was halftime.

The Bears were so prone to three-and-outs Sunday that it spilled over into the post-game press conference.

Fox: Alright, you guys have any questions?

Bob Condotta, Seattle Times: Coach, it looked like you were competing pretty well there through halftime. What happened in the third quarter?

Fox: We felt it was important to stick to a strategy of ball-control. Safe, sideways passes. Running the football, regardless of down-and-distance. Working the play clock, when losing by multiple scores. Fundamental football. You got two more before I get O'Donnell back out here.

Condotta: The punter again? What do you mean by that?

Fox: Okay, that's three. (Jogs away from podium. Still in full uniform, Pat O'Donnell sprints into the press room and kicks the mic through the ceiling).

Swap Meet
The rapid-fire trades of Jared Allen to the Panthers for a sixth-rounder and Jon Bostic to the Patriots for a conditional bag of Kraft Homestyle Mac n' Cheese, and the cutting of Brock Vereen in exchange for fewer guys named "Brock" on the roster* signaled that one of the unfortunate souls who has watched all three of this season's games so far in their entirety was Bears general manager Ryan Pace.

While Allen looks to be a solid contributor for an already solid Carolina defense and a terrifying enforcer for the Indian pimp in the movie Bachelor Party**, Bostic was immediately cut by New England after telling owner Robert Kraft that he loved the Liquid Gold commercials, a highly successful campaign created by Kraft brand Velveeta and a seemingly insightful piece of small talk.

What Bostic couldn't have known is that the highly unsuccessful follow-up to the "Liquid Gold" series was a brainchild of Kraft himself - the surprisingly risque "Chow That Cheesy Noodle" campaign which has been "credited" with a 17% drop in macaroni sales during the ad's run, while adult circumcision during the same time period increased 22% within both rural and urban areas of Massachusetts.

The backlash from this campaign has been a sore spot for the Pats owner for months and in an irrational fit of rage, Bostic was sent packing on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, my sources tell me that with the season effectively over, no one's job is safe. Other trades being explored include:

  • Matt Forte for Herschel Walker, along with the Vikings second-, third- and 10th-round picks in the 1992 draft***.
  • A three-way trade between the 49ers, Redskins and Bears that sends Martellus Bennett to San Francisco, Vernon Davis to the Redskins, a Redskins second-round pick to San Francisco, Martellus Bennett to the Redskins and a Bears third-round pick to Washington for Martellus Bennett and a sixth-round pick.
  • A Gino's East booth from the Soldier Field concourse that will net three Jacksonville Jaguar cheerleaders to be named later.

Rai-drrrr Nation
When they're not busy attacking impoverished outcrops of humanity for their limited oil resources in post-apocalyptic Australia, Oakland Raider fans can be found attacking impoverished Phillips 76 stations in currently apocalyptic Oakland.

There is some good news this week.

While Oakland fans aren't known for traveling this far east, you can be confident that if you encounter someone on the street dressed in spiked shoulder pads and an entire face worth of eyeliner, it's technically legal to kick them in the genitals sight unseen, whether or not they have a "rape-y" look about them.

They almost certainly deserve it, one way or the other.

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, it is the first time in "fucking foreeeeeeeever" that the Raiders look to be a team on the rise.

Young stars like Latavius Murray, Aravious "Ray-Ray" Armstrong, Amari Cooper and L'Carpetron Dookmarriot (okay, I made that last one up . . . okay, I didn't make that last one up) are propelling Oakland into the rarified air of competitive legitimacy.

Traveling fan base or not, I wonder when attendance will start to drop off for the Bears.

When I pay $75 to have my eyeballs abused, I at least like to climax once before walking away from the scene of the crime in disgust. I don't think I'm the only one who feels this way, so look for a few tickets to be snacked up by Mel Gibson's old nemeses****, the Jews.

Kool-Aid (1 of 5 Cans Of "Todd The Axe Man")
This beer is delicious and, like my wife, its can has a skull painted on it*****.

Skull. Raiders. Etcetera.

Sorry it's been a long day and I'm having a hard time getting my usual totally non-homosexual football boner for this match-up.

With any luck, the majority of players on the Bears roster will have been traded for either high draft picks or slightly deflated balls. We need all the help we can get.

With Jimmy Clausen at the helm and the team firmly in the throes of suck-a-tude, expect another conservative game plan designed to help expedite the evaluation of defensive talent currently on the squad.

Hey, why wait till the 2016 training camp?

I see a decent first-half performance from the run game and a good enough performance on D to give the Bears a 9-7 halftime lead. But Oakland's offensive aptitude will win out.

Raiders 28, Bears 16

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* Truth be told, Virginia McCaskey suspects that everyone named "Brock" is a secret Muslim and saw to it that Vereen was removed from the squad. The timing was entirely coincidental.

** Oh, so you read my stuff when I put one of your jokes in here, eh Mrs. Wifey?

*** I've been assured by several people that you must be at least 40-years-old and following football since the late Eighties to get that reference. For everyone else, here you go.

**** Nemes-es-is? Neme-sees? Nemeni? Mennonites? What the hell is the plural of "nemesis?"

***** Just checking to see if you're still reading this, hon.

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About The Author
Carl Mohrbacher's Cubs playoff beard has reached a stage where friends and family are constantly asking, "Are you alright? You look tired." He has also approved a pre-Homecoming dinner at Chipotle for his daughter, in the hopes that she will repel young suitors with farts.

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Carl Mohrbacher is our man on the Kool-Aid. He welcomes your comments.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 1:15 AM | Permalink

MUSIC - Christgau Loves Chicago Neonatologist.
TV - Amazon & The Way Of The World.
POLITICS - Yes On Vouchers For After-School Programs.
SPORTS - The Ex-Cub Factor.

BOOKS - Writers Und