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« December 2018 | Main

January 18, 2019

The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour #235: Bears, Cubs Hangovers

Both teams and their fans suffering, but in very different ways. Including: There Is No There There; So, A Chiefs-Saints Super Bowl!; Manny Mania; Wrong Way Ricketts Wrecking Ball; Boiberg; and Bleak Blackhawks.


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SHOW NOTES

* 235.

1:35: Bears Hangover.

* Coffman: Parched.

* Bald Guy In A Visor?

* Matt Nagy Said He Has Spoken To 'Really Good Kid' Kareem Hunt, Praises Him.

* People Saw Right Through Kareem Hunt's Apology Interview On ESPN.

* Bears Defense Will Have Almost Entirely New Coaching Staff In 2019.

* 4 Changes To Expect For Bears Defense Under Chuck Pagano.

25:19 So, A Chiefs-Saints Super Bowl!

* Take the chalk.

30:32: There Is No There There.

* Oh, Oakland.

* The Fightin' 47th.

* Vince Vaughn, Olin Kreutz & Michael Jordan.

* The Oakland White Sox.

40:45: Manny Mania.

* Wallenstein: "[T]here appear to be some simple facts - aside from the millions of dollars - that point to Machado coming to the South Side. Stated another way, if the Sox don't land Machado, they just don't have the glamour and pizzazz to attract a player of his caliber."

* Get Pollock!

53:43: Wrong Way Ricketts Wrecking Ball.

*

* Theo: Luxury Tax Not Dictating Cubs' Offseason vs. Forbes: Cubs Ownership Needs To Answer For Sudden Financial Restrictions.

* Theo Didn't Really Want To Fire Davis, According To Multiple Sources.

1:18:00: Boiberg.

1:08:11: Bleak Blackhawks.

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STOPPAGE: 11:10

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

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 3:22 PM | Permalink

Old Town School Teachers Win Union Election

At a celebration Wednesday night, teachers from the Old Town School of Folk Music announced that votes have been tallied and an overwhelming majority have elected to form a union, joining the Illinois Federation of Teachers.

"We are thrilled! Today the teachers of the Old Town School of Folk Music have honored the institution's rich history by voting to form a union with the Illinois Federation of Teachers," said Lindsay Weinberg, an Old Town School teacher of piano, guitar, and voice for 13 years.

"We've known all along that the Old Town School teachers form a strong and passionate community, but it's so exciting to see that truth in action through this vote to unite so we can strengthen the school as one collective body," Weinberg said. "Our group came together fueled by a desire to do what's right, to support our organization's rich community, and to preserve its soul. It is because of our commitment to the OTSFM mission and the culture and history of the American folk music tradition that we are taking this step."

Chris Walz, who has taught guitar, banjo, and mandolin for 22 years, said, "Sixty years after the school's founding, a small group of teachers wondered if organizing themselves would be the best way to help that school and the teachers move forward towards the next sixty years. Tonight's union vote makes it official. I am so encouraged by the number of true believers in the teaching staff who voted for our union in order not only to benefit themselves and their working conditions, but the overall health and future of the Old Town School of Folk Music. We look forward to working together with the administration toward our shared, positive future."

John Mead, a guitar and ensemble teacher for more than a decade, was similarly excited: "It's a thrill to realize how much we've accomplished and to know that organizing and working collectively is still a powerful political tool. I look forward to the work we'll do as we continue to strengthen our community through an officially sanctioned union."

Lyn Cole, who has been a dance teacher for 18 years, said her students supported for the organizing effort. "My students and I are ecstatic at the possibilities that our union will bring."

The teachers began their organizing drive in November 2017 with support from local workers' rights group Arise Chicago. OTTO decided the best way to address issues at the school was through union representation with the IFT, which also includes K-12 and higher education members in the Chicago area and throughout the state.

Results of the vote will now be submitted to the National Labor Relations Board for certification.

Rev. C.J. Hawking, executive director of Arise Chicago said: "Forming a union is the DNA of the School and will help secure its future."

"Old Town School of Folk Music is one of the greatest cultural institutions in one of the greatest cities in America," said Dan Montgomery, president of the Illinois Federation of Teachers and a high school English teacher. "When it started, Studs Terkel, Pete Seeger and others were labor organizers, traveling the country, singing for the rights of working people. There's no better place to form a union than here and now. On behalf of the 100,000 members of the IFT, we proudly welcome them to our union and look forward to many years fighting and singing together for the future we all deserve."

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:45 AM | Permalink

January 17, 2019

The [Thursday] Papers

So I watched - on Facebook Live! - the mayoral forum this morning at Whitney Young High School and this afternoon at the Tribune, the last in their series this week. I tweeted my commentary at #WYHSForum, #WYHSDebate, #ChiMayor19 and #TribEndorse from @BeachwoodReport.

Near the end of the Trib session the judge in the Jason Van Dyke cop conspiracy trial released her (absurd) decision.

Now I'm in Bucktown for another Weekend at Benny's - long-time (and even mid-time) readers know what this is about. New readers will soon learn!

I have some additional notes besides my tweets on the mayoral forums. I'm going to work on putting them together now and post them here in a bit, so there will be a column. You can see them below this photo of Benny's tail.

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Benny is shy today. That's his tail as he hides out in the litter box area.

bennytail.jpg

*

First, I can hardly let the candidates' praise of Whitney Young High School principal Joyce Kenner go without noting how undeserving she is of any civic acclaim - much less how undeserving she is of still holding her job. From the Beachwood vault:

February 25, 2008:

"The youngest son of NBA legend Michael Jordan entered Whitney Young Magnet High last fall under a little-known loophole that gives principals of Chicago's elite-eight college prep schools wide-ranging discretion - on top of new powers they could get this week," the Sun-Times reports.

"Marcus Jordan was a junior-year transfer.

"That means he never had to sit through the freshman admission test that eighth-graders take for Chicago's college prep high schools. He was exempt from being judged by a mathematical formula involving tests, attendance and grades that is used by Young and seven other CPS college preps to decide freshmen admission.

"Instead, as a transfer, Marcus' fate was left up to the principal of Young, an academic and basketball powerhouse.

"'Transfers into selective-enrollment high schools are entirely principal discretion,' said CPS spokesman Michael Vaughn."

Whitney Young Principal Joyce Kenner put it this way: "[The Jordan family] has done a great deal for this city."

And this city has done a great deal for the Jordans. We made him rich and famous; rich and famous enough, in fact, to clout his kid into a magnet school.

August 25, 2009:

Anthony Beale is now the second alderman to admit he made a phone call to the principal of Whitney Young to get his daughter into the school, the Sun-Times reports.

"You're talking about an A-minus student," Beale said.

Yes. But was this straight-A student left out of Walter Payton Prep because of a similar call?

*

It gets better.

"[Whitney Young Principal Joyce] Kenner said she had a 'personal relationship' with Beale, whom she knew as a baseball coach when her son was playing baseball. 'When he called me, it wasn't about him being a political figure,' Kenner said."

It was about her personal relationship with Beale.

I don't know which is worse.

*

Similarly, Kenner didn't know Ald. Ricardo Munoz as an alderman when he called her to get his daughter into her school. "She knew Munoz as the father of a boy her son played basketball with."

*

It gets better.

"I try not to be political at all,'' Kenner said. "If you ask me how many aldermen there are, I don't even know."

The principal of Whitney Young doesn't know how many aldermen there are?

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And finally:

"Even Michael Jordan, whose youngest son by-passed the usual admission process by transferring to Whitney Young as a junior in 2007, did not contribute [money] to the school, Kenner said."

March 22, 2010:

"In 2008, former U.S. Sen. Braun sought help for two students, though she said Monday she does not recall placing a call to Duncan's office. Pickens said she called him, seeking help getting a student into Whitney Young Magnet High School, and he asked Principal Joyce Kenner to call the former senator back.

"Braun said she called Kenner to inquire after one child's mother told her the student's application had been 'lost in a computer glitch.' Braun said Kenner told her: 'I'll take care of it.'"

Personally.

"The child got into Whitney Young, despite a below-average admission score."

Also the result of a "computer glitch."

"This process is not pure, and everyone knows it," Braun said. "The process is a disaster, and quite frankly, I don't have a problem making a call. If the process were not as convoluted as it is, parents wouldn't be asking for help."

The Chicago Way: Game the process instead of fixing it.

"Kenner, who has testified under subpoena in the federal investigation, said the admissions problems are 'old news.'"

Old news to her, she knew about the list!

"'There is a new framework in place for principal discretion,' she said in her e-mail response. 'I think we have an opportunity to move on from this issue.'"

Her e-mail account refused to answer further questions.

"Burnett requested consideration of a student in 2008 whose test score did not get him into Whitney Young. The log suggests the principal offered the student future enrollment as a consolation and notes that Burnett 'was OK with that offer.'"

March 25, 2011:

"In 2009 the Whitney Young boys varsity basketball team had one of its best seasons, winning the Class 4A state title with a squad that included seven players who joined college programs," the Tribune reports.

"But the team wasn't even supposed to be in the playoffs, the Tribune has found. After its coach, Tyrone Slaughter, was found to have violated Chicago Public Schools recruiting rules, district regulations called for the team to be banned from the postseason, but officials failed to enforce that penalty.

"Slaughter received a six-game suspension and then went on to break recruiting rules again. In February he was suspended for 10 days by the Illinois High School Association after he held a team practice at a suburban middle school 23 miles from Young."

And he still has his job?

Yup, sports sure teaches character.

*

But this is my favorite part:

"In addition, the Tribune has learned that Joyce Kenner, the principal at Young, was found to have violated CPS policy when she admitted two basketball players in 2008 even though they did not go through the required process for selective enrollment at the magnet school. The students were on the championship team roster."

January 23, 2012:

"The Chicago Schools Inspector General has recommended that Principal Joyce Kenner be banned for life from hand-picking kids for admission to Whitney Young Magnet High," the Sun-Times reported last January.

So when candidate after candidate in their welcoming remarks slobbered over how great Kenner was, I threw up a little in my mouth. (Paul Vallas even jokingly thanked her for not running for mayor; she certainly has the graft part down.)

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Now, a few notes beyond my Twitter commentary:

-> Amara Enyia standing next to Bob Fioretti was a reminder that she endorsed him over Chuy four years ago. Someone should ask her why, if she regrets doing so, and what that says about her judgement.

-> Amara again proclaims that she's an organizer, but she had four years to organize this campaign and owed $70,000 in state election board fines and had $60 in the bank before Chance the Rapper came to her rescue. What does that say about her organizing bona fides?

-> Vallas laughs at candidates how repeat on the trail how they'll use the money that would be spent on a new police academy to fund all of their own plans instead: "Throw down the mic, no police academy, problems solved!"

-> Lori Lightfoot won me over with her police task force leadership and ensuing actions, and I've kind of rooted for her a bit in this campaign, but she doesn't seem up to the job of mayor to me. That's a thought I had - and not for the first time - during this forum. It's not that anything is wrong with her, per se, like I don't have a bill of complaints against her like I do some other candidates, but mayor is a job that is bigger and broader than her experience has prepared her for thus far.

-> Amara has the rhetoric, though it's often also empty progressive-activist buzzwords without any meat on the bones, while Vallas has the nitty-gritty ideas (not big, sexy ideas, but a ton of budget and financial maneuvering), while Toni Preckwinkle has a real record of progress and position on criminal justice and education, even if she isn't the greatest campaigner in the world and definitely has her flaws.

-> Gery Chico twice attacked Preckwinkle for a quote to the Sun-Times he reads as she being against magnet and selective enrollment schools. Preckwinkle says she's only saying she supports great open enrollment schools in every neighborhood so every kid can get a great education.

I'm disappointed in Chico's campaign. As I wrote earlier this week, his previous campaigns for U.S. Senate and the mayor's office were substantive, impressive affairs. This week he seems to just be on the attack in a desperate bid for attention and traction.

Chico also exposed his key flaw in his attack against Preckwinkle: He's elitist. This was my major bone of contention with him when he was Richard M. Daley's school board president. He led the charge as much as anyone for a magnetized, selectively enrolled, charter district, and that's the opposite of where I'm at on education policy. (Vallas says that, as CPS superintendent, he magnetized every neighborhood. But the idea of strong neighborhood schools isn't to attract students from around the city, but to create strong schools right in the neighborhood! The way those of us who grew up in affluent suburbs with great schools had.)

-> Bill Daley says the school district must be right-sized, which means more school closings, because the city is shrinking and "We're not getting new kids in the system." How does this square with his campaign to grow Chicago back to 3 million people?

-> Amara does a lot of "reimagining." And I support that. Absolutely. But she rarely gets down to brass tacks. Her rhetoric is as airy as Vallas's is straight from a budget book.

-> Chico calls one student's question on neighborhood youth councils the best question he's heard in four months of campaigning. The next question is the second-best. #Pandering

-> Fioretti can never seem to think of enough to say to fill his allotted time, so when he's done he says, "Thank you," and that's the signal that he's done talking.

-> What if all of these candidates were in the city council? A council with many of these folks would be a much better and lively council than the one we have.

Okay, it's getting late, so I'm going to save the Trib session and the cop conspiracy ruling for tomorrow.

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The Beachwood McRibTipLine: Bennylicious.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 3:11 PM | Permalink

January 16, 2019

Illinois Could Recover $1.3 Billion Lost To Corporate Tax Loopholes

Every year, corporations use complicated schemes to shift U.S. earnings to subsidiaries in offshore tax havens which helps them dodge both state and federal taxes. Reforms to end tax dodging in Illinois would reduce revenue loss by $1.3 billion, according to a new report called "A Simple Fix for a $17 Billion Loophole," released Tuesday by the Illinois PIRG Education Fund.

"When multinational businesses dodge millions in Illinois taxes, that money doesn't come out of a hat. It means either means we have less money for public priorities like education or other taxpayers end up footing the bill," said Abe Scarr, Illinois PIRG Education Fund director. "Luckily, there are ways for Illinois to even the playing field, and recover more than $1.3 billion for critical services without raising rates."

"A rational public budget has to start with the revenue base," said Ralph Martire, executive director of the Center for Tax and Budget Accountability. "This report shows how leaving important parts of the economy out of that base both makes government more regressive and makes it harder to support core public services. Fixing that should be a top priority."

For years, some corporations that do business in Illinois have dodged taxes by booking profits made in America to tax havens like the Cayman Islands, that levy little to no tax. The report, which was co-authored by Illinois PIRG Education Fund, the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, SalesFactor.org and the American Sustainable Business Council, looks at approaches Illinois can take to address this offshore tax dodging.

States have the power to use a global picture of a company's activities in order to determine how many tax dollars a state rightfully should receive. A Simple Fix details how much money each state would recover if it required companies to follow one or more standard procedures, including domestic combined reporting, tax haven list reform and worldwide combined reporting - otherwise known as complete reporting.

Combined reporting (used already by 27 states and Washington, DC, including Illinois) applies a formula to the total domestic business of a company to determine how much income a company should attribute to the state, instead of letting the company decide unilaterally how to allocate its profits (which incentivizes shifting money to low-tax jurisdictions).

Complete reporting expands the combined reporting to include the company's entire global business in order to close loopholes that allow corporations to hide profits offshore.

"Right now, responsible businesses pay their fair share of taxes, while others are allowed to dodge and avoid their fair share. That hurts everyone," said John O'Neill of the American Sustainable Business Council, which has a member network representing 250,000 businesses. "Too many companies have abandoned their moral obligation to pay the full amount they owe for the public services and infrastructure they use in our states. That means other taxpayers, including other businesses, have to pay more."

Closing loopholes that allow offshore tax dodging would lead to significant revenue gains for most states, totaling $17 billion across the country, as illustrated in the table below. By modernizing state tax codes with these simple reforms, Illinois would bring in $1.3 billion each year, level the playing field for local businesses that compete with multinational corporations, and protect honest taxpayers from picking up the tab for tax dodgers.

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Previously in tax scammage:

* McDonald's Breaks Promise To Raise Wages.

* Last Year, Amazon Paid No Federal Income Taxes. Now, It's Trying To Kill A Local Tax That Aims To Help the Homeless.

* Trump Vowed To Punish Companies That Moved Jobs Overseas. Is Congress Rewarding Them?

* After Long Career Bailing Out Big Banks, Obama Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner Now Runs Predatory Firm That Exploits The Poor For Profit.

* Jeff Bezos Just Became The Richest Person Ever. Amazon Workers Just Marked #PrimeDay With Strikes Against Low Pay And Brutal Conditions.

* A Sweet New Century For America's Most Privileged.

* With Nation Transfixed By Kavanaugh Monstrosity, House GOP Votes To Give Rich Another $3 Trillion In Tax Cuts.

* Deepwater Horizon Settlement Comes With $5.35 Billion Tax Windfall.

* Offshoring By 29 Companies Costs Illinois $1.2 Billion Annually.

* Government Agencies Allow Corporations To Write Off Billions In Federal Settlements.

* The Gang Of 62 Vs. The World.

* How The Maker Of TurboTax Fought Free, Simple Tax Filing.

* $1.4 Trillion: Oxfam Exposes The Great Offshore Tax Scam Of U.S. Companies.

* How Barclay's Turned A $10 Billion Profit Into A Tax Loss.

* Wall Street Stock Loans Drain $1 Billion A Year From German Taxpayers.

* German Finance Minister Cries Foul Over Tax Avoidance Deals.

* Prosecutor Targets Commerzbank For Deals That Dodge German Taxes.

* A Schlupfloch Here, A Schlupfloch There. Now It's Real Money.

* How Milwaukee Landlords Avoid Taxes.

* Study: 32 Illinois Fortune 500 Companies Holding At Least $147 Billion Offshore.

* Watch Out For The Coming Tax Break Trickery.

* When A 'Tax Bonanza' Is Actually A Huge Corporate Tax Break.

* The Hypocrisy Of Corporate Welfare: It's Bigger Than Trump.

* Oxfam Names World's Worst Tax Havens Fueling 'Global Race To Bottom.'

* Offshore Tax Havens Cost Average Illinois Small Business $5,789 A Year.

* State Tax Incentives To Corporations Don't Work.

* GOP Tax Plan Would Give 15 Of America's Largest Corporations A $236 Billion Tax Cut.

* Triumph Of The Oligarchs.

* Amazon Short-List Proves Something "Deeply Wrong" With America's Race-To-The-Bottom Economy.

* Apple's $38 Billion Tax Payment Less Than Half Of $79 Billion They Owe.

* U.S. Surpasses Cayman Islands To Become Second-Largest Tax Haven On Earth.

* Less Than Year After GOP Tax Scam, Six Biggest Banks Already Raked In $9 Billion In Extra Profits.

* After Budget Cuts, The IRS's Work Against Tax Cheats Is Facing "Collapse."

* $6.5 Billion: A Low-Ball Estimate Of The Walton Family's Haul After 16 Years Of Bush, Obama And Trump Tax Giveaways.

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Previously in The Paradise Papers:

* 'Paradise Papers' Reveal Tax Avoidance, Shady Dealings Of World's Rich And Powerful.

* Just How Much Money Is Held Offshore? Hint: A SHIT-TON.

* Development Dreams Lost In The Offshore World.

* Keeping Offshore 'Hush Hush,' But Why?

* Tax Havens Are Alive With The Sound Of Music.

* Today In Tax Avoidance Of The Ultra-Wealthy.

* Go To Town With This Offshore Leaks Database.

* The Paradise Papers: The View From Africa And Asia.

* The Paradise Papers: The End Of Elusion For PokerStars.

* The Paradise Papers: An Odd Call From The Bermuda Government.

* The Paradise Papers: Nevis Is An Offshore Haven Of Opportunity

* The Paradise Papers: The Long Twilight Struggle Against Offshore Secrecy.

* The Paradise Papers: A Fair Tax System Will Be Lost Without Public Pressure.

* Item: Today In The Paradise Papers: Through Death Threats And Scare Tactics, Honduran Reporter 'Perseveres.'

* The Paradise Papers: Journalists Flee Venezuela To Publish Investigation.

* Last Stop: Chicago.

* The Paradise Papers: 'Africa's Satellite' Avoided Millions Using A Very African Tax Scheme.

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Previously in The Panama Papers:

* The Panama Papers: Remarkable Global Media Collaboration Cracks Walls Of Offshore Tax Haven Secrecy.

* The Panama Papers: Prosecutors Open Probes.

* The [Monday] Papers.

* Adventures In Tax Avoidance.

* Mossack Fonseca's Oligarchs, Dictators And Corrupt White-Collar Businessmen.

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! They're All In It Together.

* Meet The Panama Papers Editor Who Handled 376 Reporters In 80 Countries.

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Previously in carried interest, aka The Billionaire's Loophole:

* Patriotic Millionaires Vs. Carried Interest.

* The Somewhat Surreal Politics Of A Private Equity Tax Loophole Costing Us Billions (That Obama Refused To Close Despite Pledging To Do So).

* Fact-Checking Trump & Clinton On The Billionaire's Tax Break.

* Despite Trump Campaign Promise, Billionaires' Tax Loophole Survives Again.

* Carried Interest Reform Is a Sham.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:52 AM | Permalink

The Ex-Cub Factor

One in an occasional series tracking the movements of former Cubs.

1. DJ LaMahieu.

Now a Yankee.

2. Donn Roach.

Now a White Sock.

3. Clayton Richard.

Now a Blue Jay.

4. Anthony Bass.

Now a Red.

5. Casey Coleman.

Now a Met.

6. Justin Grimm.

Now an Indian.

7. Jon Jay.

Now a White Sock.

8. Jaime Garcia.

Now retired.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:48 AM | Permalink

The [Wednesday] Papers

This morning was Day 2 of the Tribune editorial board's series of mayoral candidates debates. On Tuesday, the paper brought in Bill Daley, Gery Chico, LaShawn Ford, Willie Wilson and Toni Preckwinkle. Today it was Susana Mendoza, John Kozlar, Bob Fioretti, Dorothy Brown and Paul Vallas.

I didn't tweet as much today as I did yesterday, but for the running commentary I (and others) did provide, you can check out #TribEndorse or @BeachwoodReport.

I did take fairly extenstive notes, though. Highlights:

* Susana Mendoza's team tweeted out some Ed Burke material attacking Toni Preckwinkle and Gery Chico just minutes before the debate started, perhaps anticipating the opening question would be the same as it was yesterday. But Burke didn't come up until much later in the debate.

* Mendoza's "50New" plan to target CPS's 50 most underutilized schools is perhaps so-named to contrast with Rahm Emanuel's closing of 50 schools - which Mendoza didn't oppose. (Vallas later says Mendoza's resource-rich plans shouldn't be limited to 50 schools but should be used in all schools, and makes the case that he basically did that as CPS chief in the '90s.)

* You quickly see the separation in this grouping. Fioretti and Brown are out of their depth and Kozlar shouldn't even be in the room. Even Mendoza pales in comparison to what Vallas brings to the table on this day.

* The bulk of the debate is spent on CPS, then the city budget. On CPS, Trib edit board member Kristen McQueary asks for a single game-changer, which is not typically how successful public policy is made. Also, they're running for mayor, not schools superintendent. Maybe the mayor shouldn't micromanage CPS? This is an honest question; not sure how involved a mayor should be in the school system.

* Vallas talks about magnetizing neighborhood schools. Doesn't that miss the point?

* Vallas says the only program that he's seen come close to closing the achievement gap is pre-natal to the classroom.

* Brown wants magnet schools throughout the city, which I think we already have and also misses the point of neighborhood schools? Isn't the point of neighborhood schools that they are filled with kids from the neighborhood?

* Kozlar: We don't challenge the heads of these organizations (CTU)! Um, Rahm forced a strike in his first term in a big fuck-you to the CTU, so I'd say that's ahistorical. Kozlar adds that we should pay teachers more and lower class size, which isn't exactly a challenge to the CTU. Calls for being able to attend any school in the city you want, which I think we already have, excepting selective enrollment schools.

* Vallas: To deal with CTU, lay out a five-year blueprint in the first budget, articulate vision, identify initiatives that are critical, sets parameters to negotiate. Also, strategic bargaining that never ends, continuing to meet. "I always negotiated affordable contracts."

* Mendoza: Son just started kindergarten at a CPS school in her neighborhood (Portage Park), so she's going to be a CPS parent for the next 13 years.

* Mendoza: Rahm poisoned well with the CTU strike. (Rahm has actually since acknowledged this.)

* Vallas: CPS has enough resources. Really? Even the wealthiest schools never feel like they have enough resources, and parents of some CPS schools in wealthy neighborhoods raise tens of thousands (if not hundreds of thousands) of extra dollars on the side. Is the bar for "enough resources" set lower for CPS?

Anyway, you have to respect Vallas. He has wicked policy chops; knows more about budgets and education policy in his little finger than most of the other candidates will ever know in their lifetimes. Doesn't mean I always agree with him, because I don't! But I respect his knowledge and experience.

However, I find it curiously lacking in this campaign - perhaps because he's not a frontrunner, but who actually is in this size field? - that the central question being brought to him isn't about the chartering of the entire New Orleans school district.

* You can now cross "kicking the can down the road" off your bingo card.

* Vallas has a role to play in public policy, I'm just not sure what role that is. Same with Lori Lightfoot, who I could see as, say, a deputy mayor for public safety in a Preckwinkle administration.

* Fioretti actually makes sense when talking about city council reform and reminds us of his halycon days as an alderman. That's what makes his clownishness since then so sad. And look, we all know he endorsed Rahm in 2015 so Rahm would help him retire his debt, but to do that and turn around now and talk about how bad Rahm's been (without naming him, as far as I can tell) just does not speak well of the man, and makes you wonder if he really has any principles at all outside of his own ambition. It doesn't help that since his failed mayoral run he also lost a race for state senator and county board president. You start to look foolish and desperate.

* Brown says she's a lawyer, a CPA and has an MBA, yet I'm left wondering, how the hell did she get her job, because she's . . . terrible.

* Vallas: "Opportunity zones are empowerment zones on steroids." Combine with equity TIFs (and bonding, I think) and you can turn $2 billion in equity into $10 billion in capital and I don't doubt him but I didn't quite follow, but this stuff deserves a hard look at to understand what he's talking about, even if it isn't campaign-friendly. Also, though, I've seen enough "zones" in my lifetime to know they never work.

* Vallas, after Brown talks about all the great platitudinal things we need to do: "So many plans." Heh-heh. "Let's talk about specifics." Have to give him credit, he does just that.

* Mendoza's campaign has been a disappointment. I thought she'd be a stronger candidate (and she still has a very good shot at the runoff, but that's because she comes with a built-in base of trade union and Establishment political support). She talks in platitudes and, this morning in particular but often in these forums, seems too small for the job. (That is not a pun about her short stature.)

* Mendoza: Here we go, how she had to leave the neighborhood . . . it wasn't her choice, she was 7, but it was her choice to come back.

* Vallas: "We need to talk about substantive issues, I mean, leaving when you were 7-years-old and then coming back . . . "

Thank you, Paul Vallas, for the greatest clapback of the campaign yet!

Mendoza says she's offended, and violence isn't something to be dismissive of; Vallas talks about how many funerals of kids he went to as CPS chief. Clearly he's not being dismissive of violence but of cheap political rhetoric.

* Mendoza has her set pieces but not much else. The irony is that no one is running more as a caretaker mayor than her. She wants to be mayor more than she wants to do anything in particular with the job.

* McQueary: Burke's complaint has changed the dynamic of the race. But has it? The polling I'm aware of shows a static race with Preckwinkle out front followed by Mendoza, then the rest all bunched up and a huge chunk of undecided. The Burke complaint has changed the media's focus and the subject of some candidates' attacks, but I'm not sure if it's changed the dynamic of the underlying race.

* Vallas idea: Rotate city council committee chairs.

* Editorial page editor John McCormick: "Why should I give you my vote for mayor of Chicago?" I wish someone answered, "You shouldn't, because you live in the suburbs!"

* Kozlar: "I'm surprised we didn't talk about pensions today." John must've fallen asleep for 20 minutes.

* Mendoza: "I'm running for mayor because the future of our city is at stake." Gawd. Like you have to save the city from the rest of the candidates - including the ones who were running before Rahm bowed out? You were okay with Rahm, then? (Of course she was. She was one of his biggest cheerleaders and she has to own that.)

* Finally, the proceedings opened with a (very) brief discussion of whether "comptroller" is pronounced "controller" despite the way it's spelled. Mendoza says it is. I did not know that.

This will serve as my State of the Race, Part 2. If I did capsule summaries of each of today's candidates, like I did with yesterday's, I would just be repeating what I've written above.

Oh hell, I'll do capsules.

Susana Mendoza: She's such a pol. If Donald Trump hadn't made nicknames so dishonorable, I'd call her Susana Mendacious. God I loved her when she emerged as the leading explainer of why Rod Blagojevich should be impeached. God how appalled I was when she emerged as the leading cheerleader of Rahm Emanuel when she was city clerk. (Assignment Desk: Go back and check her Twitter feed for how she fell silent during the Laquan McDonald mess.) I've already written more than once that she politicized the comptroller's office - far more than Leslie Munger did. And I would have liked it so much more if, instead of playing coy, she would've explained her mayoral run by saying, Hey, I had no idea Rahm Emanuel would step down, so of course I'm going to consider running for mayor. People would understand that. On the other hand, maybe she truly didn't decide until after she won her comptroller's race because her campaign shows no evidence of strategic thought - or even vision or a compelling reason why she's running outside of personal ambition. And her mentors are Ed Burke and Michael Madigan, and that tells you enough.

John Kozlar: On one hand, I'm all for easy ballot access. On the other hand, it doesn't serve anyone well to have to listen to John Kozlar during these things. On the other hand, I've always argued the media should give every candidate on a ballot equal time. On the other hand, I've already spent more time than I ever wanted to on John Kozlar.

Bob Fioretti: Can someone just give him an appointment or something? I mean, I'd hate to see him rewarded in some way for his behavior, but I'd also like to see him go away.

Dorothy Brown: She must really have God on her side because she keeps getting re-elected.

Paul Vallas: I dismissed Vallas's chances from the outset, though today you can see that I'm giving him a lot of praise. I still don't know if mayor is the right job for him, though (it's not, particularly at this time), and I don't see where his votes come from. I'm fascinated by the rift between him and Chico, but I get it - Chico cashed in while Vallas (in his mind) rolled up his sleeves in thankless jobs instead (he also kept needing a job). I don't like how he lives in the suburbs but rented a place in the city so he could run for mayor. Maybe he needs to go to Washington and run OMB or something.

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New on the Beachwood . . .

Illinois Could Recover $1.3 Billion Lost To Corporate Tax Loopholes
Federal reforms have failed to address tax dodging, but Illinois can take its own action.

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The Ex-Cub Factor
Two White Socks, a retiree and the Yankee who got away.

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ChicagoReddit

Hey Chicago, where should I get drunk tonight? from r/chicago

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ChicagoGram

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ChicagoTube

Little Chicago Is Burning

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BeachBook

Strongest Opponents Of GM Foods Know The Least But Think They Know The Most.

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TweetWood
A sampling.

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The Beachwood McRibTipLine: That's about right.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:46 AM | Permalink

January 15, 2019

The [Tuesday] Papers

So I watched - live on Facebook! - the Tribune editorial board's first mayoral debate this morning, featuring Bill Daley, Gery Chico, LaShawn Ford, Willie Wilson and Toni Preckwinkle.

The Trib is holding a series of these, splitting up the otherwise unmanageable field of candidates into what I presume are randomly selected groupings. This is a really good idea.

You can find my running commentary - and that of everyone else - on Twitter at #TribEndorse. I also used the hashtags #ChiMayor19 and #ChicagoMayor. For times when I forgot to hashtag, you can check out @BeachwoodReport.

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And with that, let's take a look at the State of the Race starting with this morning's five candidates.

Bill Daley: I still can't figure out why exactly he wants this job. Because he's bored? To reclaim his family's legacy? After all, he's a former U.S. Commerce Secretary, fancy-schmancy banker, and White House chief of staff. Does he really want to worry about what the schmos in Streets & San are up to?

Then again, I said the exact same thing when rumors first started circulating that Rahm Emanuel was considering a run in 2011.

Still, Daley has failed to articulate any sort of vision for the city - because he doesn't have one. It's not lazy to surmise we'd be getting a combination of the seventh term of Richard M. Daley and the third term of Rahm Emanuel, making Bill the most status quo candidate this side of Susana Mendoza.

This morning he defended the traditional Chicago arrangement of a supine city council in the interests of "getting things done" and claimed he didn't need to release his tax returns because he's already the most vetted candidate in the field.

And yet, I wouldn't count him out. He's raising prodigious amounts of money and has the city's most politically successful name.

All I can say is, please don't let this happen, Chicago.

Gery Chico: Chico is smart and substantive. I was impressed with his policy chops when he ran for U.S. Senate in 2004 - the race Barack Obama won - and to some extent by his mayoral campaign 2011. When it became clear that Miguel del Valle wasn't going to win that race, I pulled for Chico over Rahm, even though I thought Chico would rule much in the same way his patron Richard M. Daley ruled. I did think - and continue to think and Chico pressed again this morning - that he could be an imaginative leader. But . . .

Chico, too, is a status quo candidate. He comes from the Daley tree and while serving as a loyal Daley apparatchik at the school board, park board, as Daley's chief of staff, and other positions, he wasn't particularly memorable and certainly didn't challenge power. Well, that's not totally true - he was memorable for his partnership with Paul Vallas overseeing Chicago Public Schools, even though Vallas is sniping at him these days like nobody's business.

The problem for me is that, as school board president, he struck me as elitist and set us on the path toward the selective schools and charter system we have now that has badly damaged neighborhood schools. He also led the system into a hypertesting regime.

If it's truly way past time to focus on the neighborhoods, he's not your guy. He's a downtown attorney who has leveraged his public posts to get rich. He's basically a more interesting, less wealthy Bill Daley.

LaShawn Ford: Ford had one good go-around with Willie Wilson this morning (see Twitter for that), but otherwise appeared badly out of his depth and doesn't appear to have a serious chance of even coming close to getting into what surely will be a runoff. So why is he running? Why does he want to raise his profile at this moment?

Willie Wilson: Wilson was rude and inconsiderate this morning, as well as remaining fairly unintelligible and uninformed about not only the issues but how the city and government work in general. He has an amazing personal story and I don't want to begrudge his wealth, but he must have really had a special knack for running McDonald's restaurants to get so rich, because he otherwise is not a smart man. He is generous, but he also voted for Trump and Rauner, so go figure.

Wilson can get enough votes to create havoc and make a difference in the race (can we move to ranked-choice voting, please?), but he has almost no more business being mayor than president, which he ran for in 2016, apparently on God's instruction.

Toni Preckwinkle: Preckwinkle doesn't suffer fools easily, as the cliche goes, and it showed this morning as she was seated next to Wilson and looked exasperated for much of the debate. Preckwinkle's star has certainly dimmed from four years ago, when she passed on a chance to knock Rahm Emanuel out of office without - in my view - needing a runoff. Her flaws have really come to fore, and that has made her vulnerable as the frontrunner. But she still has the best command of the issues, the nitty-gritty experience working on them to back up her positions, and progressive positions on criminal justice and education that go beyond platitudes and would significantly re-orient the city's direction on both. Her biggest challenge may be maintaining her patience through this whole process.

As an aside of sorts, she said this morning that the now-infamous fundraiser that Ed Burke hosted for her was actually an Anne Burke production, and that she and Anne Burke have worked closely together on criminal justice issues. I'm actually not much of an Anne Burke fan either, but be that as it may.

To be continued.

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New on the Beachwood . . .

The Political Odds
Updated to reflect recent developments.

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The White Sox Report: Get Manny!
A deep dive suggests the only way the South Siders lose Machado to the Phils or anyone else would be their singular lack of pizzazz.

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City's Administrative Hearings Department Still Sucks
Two years after the inspector general took a look, they still haven't gotten their act together.

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Mailbox Fishing
"Fishing tools" and how they are used to steal mail!

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ChicagoReddit

Has the shutdown effected O Hares TSA at all? from r/chicago

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ChicagoGram

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ChicagoTube

Así se prepara la mejor carne de Chicago | La Capital

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TweetWood
A sampling.

Thread.

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The Beachwood McRibTipLine: Secret sauce.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 3:13 AM | Permalink

January 14, 2019

Get Manny!

Forgive me for being foolish or overly optimistic, but I, along with many Sox fans, have to believe that the White Sox's chances of signing Manny Machado are increasing by the hour.

With reports over the weekend that the Sox are offering $230 million over eight years, this is getting serious.

Of course, I have no pipeline into Manny's gray matter, nor am I privy to the inner workings of the Hahn-Williams-Reinsdorf strategy. However, there appear to be some simple facts - aside from the millions of dollars - that point to Machado coming to the South Side. Stated another way, if the Sox don't land Machado, they just don't have the glamour and pizzazz to attract a player of his caliber.

The Yankees, who inked second baseman DJ LeMathieu to a two-year, $24 million deal last week, have added a skilled player to an infield group that includes Rookie-of-the-Year runner-up Miguel Andujar, Gleyber Torres, the healing Didi Gregorius, and newly-acquired Troy Tulowitzki. With the third highest projected payroll for 2019, it appears the Yanks have removed themselves from the Manny Mania.

Which leaves the Sox and Phillies, according to just about every website, hot stove commentator, and the scribe who covers the ballclubs unless an outlier like the Giants or Cardinals sneak in to nab Manny.

The signing of Machado's wife's brother Yonder Alonso - aside from now having a Yonder and a Yolmer (as in Sanchez) on the same ballclub - was a cuddly move by GM Rick Hahn, who then landed outfielder Jon Jay, one of Manny's closest buddies in Miami.

If Manny had a teenage son, the Sox probably would let him be a fixture in the clubhouse. Wait a minute. I think they already tried that without success.

Assuming that Alonso and Jay are putting, at the minimum, gentle pressure on Machado to join them on the South Side, there are additional sensible reasons why Manny is leaning toward Chicago.

Machado's robust ego makes him desirous of a contract similar or greater than baseball's highest paid player, Giancarlo Stanton of the Yankees with his 10-year deal averaging $28.5 million annually. The Sox offer equates to $28.75 million per season, so there! Take that, Giancarlo. And no offer is final. The Sox could go longer and higher as you are about to see.

Both the Sox and Phillies are in the midst of a rebuilding process although the Phils, having finished 80-82 last season, are further along. However, they haven't had a winning record since 2011. As recently as 2017, the Phillies lost 96 games. So their process isn't so much ahead of the White Sox.

Both clubs have highly-rated farm systems with the Sox ranked third and the Phillies sixth. The strategy of tempting Machado as the veteran mentor to the likes of Yoan Moncada, Eloy Jimenez, Luis Robert and other sizzling prospects surely has been on Hahn's playlist.

The Phillies are doing their own nurturing by hiring Bobby Dickerson last week to be their third base coach. Dickerson, an infield specialist, was an influence for the young Machado in the Oriole organization both in the Dominican Republic and with the big club. And Phillies president Andy MacPhail led the front office in Baltimore when Machado debuted in 2012.

But family and friends should be a bigger draw than what the Phillies have to offer.
Machado is very familiar with the Sox ballpark, having played 17 games there with a slash line of .286/.333/.848. He's slammed five homers at The Grate (nee The Cell) and has driven in 14 runs. By comparison, in seven games in Philadelphia, his numbers are .179/.281/.674 with a homer accounting for his only RBI.

That sample size obviously is small, but both ballparks are quite similar in terms of venues advantageous for hitters. The foul poles at The Grate are 330 (left field) and 335, while they're 329 and 330 at Citizens Bank Field in Philly. The alleys are within three feet of one another at both parks while center field is 400 in Chicago and 401 in Philadelphia. Last season there were 193 home runs hit at Citizens Bank and 186 at The Grate. So that one's pretty much a toss-up.

Whether Machado plays third base or shortstop could be an issue since he came up as a shortstop before the Orioles put him at third base when J.J. Hardy was a fixture at short. The Phillies might have an advantage here if Machado is dead set on being a shortstop. However, most scouts rate Manny's defensive skills at third base superior to his play at shortstop.

Tim Anderson has made improvement at shortstop and has a decent upside going forward while last year's third baseman Yolmer Sanchez would move into a utility role, one which easily suits his ability.

The Phillies have one of their building blocks at third base in Maikel Franco, but rookie Scott Kingery was their everyday shortstop last season with a .226 batting average along with eight homers. Machado figures to play his original position if he joins the Phillies.

If it were the Cubs vs. the Phillies vying for Machado's services, the allure of Chicago over Philadelphia easily could figure into the mix. The fickle Philly fans surely would be compared to the adoring North Side denizens who would fawn over a player with Machado's credentials.

While the White Sox normally play in a half-empty stadium, they still play in Chicago, and we all know that our home is preferable to Philadelphia. That, of course, is blatant bias, but it's not a stretch to think that Manny would more likely be booed after striking out with the bases loaded in Philadelphia than on the South Side where fans are accustomed to that kind of performance.

Mentioning "half-empty," the Sox have plenty of potential to bring in much greater revenue if they sign Machado while prospects like Jimenez, who will be here by mid-April, and others join the fray. The team drew an average of 20,110 fans last season (the Phillies averaged 27,318). The average ticket cost $26.05.

An increase of 5,000 per game would account for approximately $10.5 million in additional revenue to help pay the fare for Machado. If you want to get really crazy, go back to 2006 when almost three million fans came to see the defending World Series champions. If you believe that the team could regain that kind of success, the surge in attendance would more than pay for Machado.

Of course, Manny wouldn't be the only player reaping the financial jewels of a winning ballclub. The entire payroll would blast off. But ticket sales account for only about 30 percent of a team's revenue, enabling the Sox's finances to reap rewards from all sources. According to Statista, Sox revenue in 2017 was approximately $266 million compared to the MLB average of $315 million. The potential for millions more dollars is apparent. The Sox's $71 million payroll last season was the second to lowest in MLB so they're well-positioned to give Machado what he's seeking. Jerry Reinsdorf and his investors bought the team 38 years ago for $20 million. Today it's valued at $1.5 billion. We should all be as fortunate.

The other Reinsdorf contingency in town, the Bulls, are paying Jabari Parker $20 million this season to sit on the bench. Don't tell that to Machado's agent.

Meanwhile, the Phillies are in hot pursuit of the other marquee free agent Bryce Harper. They emerged from a meeting with him in Las Vegas last Saturday feeling "optimistic" about signing him. Does that mean that they're making Machado their second choice?

Sox manager Ricky Renteria was among the Sox personnel who have met with Machado, the same Manny Machado who didn't run hard on a ground ball in last fall's NLCS. When questioned later, Machado said, "Obviously I'm not going to change. I'm not the type of player that's going to be 'Johnny Hustle,' and run down the line and slide to first base. That's just not my personality. That's not my cup of tea; that's not who I am."

Oh, gee. And he's going to play for a manager noted for creating a culture where everyone runs hard, hustles all the time, and exhibits maximum effort? Would Renteria bench Machado the first time he jogs to first base? This could be a problem.

Back in 1972 Sox manager Chuck Tanner had two sets of rules: one for superstar Dick Allen and one for the other 24 players. It worked splendidly that season as the team finished 20 games over .500. Allen hit 37 homers, drove in 113 and batted .308 and was named MVP. He saved a drowning franchise.

But things went south the next season when Allen suffered a broken leg, and he unceremoniously left the team with two weeks remaining in the 1974 season. It would be interesting to know what Renteria said to Machado when they met.

For now all we can do is wait to see where Manny lands. If it turns out to be the South Side, those ticket sales, and the money they bring in, will immediately spike.

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Former Bill Veeck bar buddy Roger Wallenstein is our White Sox correspondent. He welcomes your comments.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 2:13 PM | Permalink

SportsMonday: Parkey & Pace

I knew cutting Cody Parkey would result in a salary cap hit against the Bears in 2019. I didn't know until this past week that it is a $5.1 million (!) hit. Wow, but Ryan Pace has been the most hit-and-miss general manager we've ever seen in these parts.

He was so good with his second coaching hire, his non-quarterback free agent signings (especially in 2018 but also Akiem Hicks, Danny Trevathan et al in the previous two years) and drafting in the fourth round in 2017 (Pro Bowlers Eddie Jackson and Tarik Cohen). He has been so bad evaluating kickers, quarterbacks and with at least half of the rest of his draft picks. And there haven't been nearly enough draft picks in general.

I suppose you also have to acknowledge that Pace was good at not screwing things up with the left tackle (Charles Leno) and shutdown cornerback (Kyle Fuller) he inherited.

You would think Parkey nailed the coffin shut on his Bears career with his ludicrous appearance on the Today show on Friday.

But given what he is owed, my guess is he at least gets an invite to training camp late this coming summer and if he performs best there, Parkey is the Bears' kicker going into next season.

Then again, the thing that will potentially save Pace from all of his mistakes is the ever-skyrocketing cap. It was announced late last year that next season's total per-team salary limit will be $190 million, up from $176 million. That increase is why it was so stupid of Jon Gruden to trade away Khalil Mack from the Raiders. Gruden claimed his team couldn't afford huge contracts for both its quarterback (Derek Carr) and a star pass rusher. He was clearly wrong.

And the big cap is why the Bears can actually, probably, afford to eat Parkey's salary and re-sign any of their own free agents - primarily right tackle Bobby Massie, safety Adrian Amos and nickelback Bryce Callahan - if they so choose.

The main thing is, I'm not ready to let go of reviewing the Bears' 2018-19 season (certainly not until Matt Nagy and Ryan Pace face the post-season press-conference music Monday) because there has not yet been a full accounting of all the ways the Bears choked away a glorious opportunity against the Eagles and in this post-season in general.

Did you notice what happened this past weekend? While AFC powers New England and Kansas City jumped all over their foes in the first halves and cruised to playoff victories on that side of the draw, the NFC's Rams and Saints struggled mightily before finally eking out wins against exhausted and injured squads from Dallas and Philadelphia, respectively.

Upset road wins over the Rams and the Saints and a trip to the Super Bowl were there for the taking . . . until Parkey's double-doink.

A few other factors: I would give it maybe a 30 percent chance that the Bears' defense is adversely affected in a big way by the departure of Vic Fangio and the arrival of new defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano. But this is one of the many things that people need to remember when they say, "Just wait til next year!" in the NFL. One of the things that happens from one generic season to the next is that successful coordinators leave to become head coaches.

And then there is the fact that this year's Bears team was so lucky to avoid more injuries. I think NFL announcers in general are doing a better job of not saying things like, "This team has been so plagued by injuries," because being plagued by injuries is now normal in this league. The game is too violent and too fast for there not to be numerous infirmities appearing each week for each team.

And yet the Bears took on the Eagles with just two beginning-of-the-year starters on the bench - the aforementioned Mr. Jackson and the still mysteriously groin-pulled Trey Burton (when did it happen, Bears? In the Saturday night buffet line?) That will never happen again in our Bear fan lifetimes and the fact that the Bears failed to take advantage is just so aggravating.

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Jim "Coach" Coffman welcomes your comments.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:35 AM | Permalink

Mailbox Fishing

"Fishing tools" and how they are used to steal mail!


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Plus:

Mail Theft.

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Opioids In The Mail.

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Previously:

* Vanishing Vending Machines.

* Item: Art Fraud Bust.

* Janene Gordon, Postal Inspector.

* Happy Birthday, U.S. Postal Inspection Service!

* U.S. Postal Inspection Service 2018 In Review.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:43 AM | Permalink

Two Years After Original Findings, Department Of Administrative Hearings Still Not Doing Job Properly

The City of Chicago Office of Inspector General has completed a second follow-up to its May 2016 audit of the Administrative Hearings' adjudication timeliness which concludes that DOAH has not fully implemented corrective actions related to the audit findings.

The original audit assessed whether DOAH used nationally recognized performance measures of clearance rate and time to disposition to assess the flow and timeliness of cases under its purview. OIG found that DOAH did not measure or set standards for clearance rates or time to disposition, and that the Department's lack of monitoring impeded its ability to identify potentially problematic backlogs and cases of unusually long duration.

OIG previously recommended that DOAH use national standards to evaluate its performance on an ongoing basis, and work with ticketing departments to identify and address underlying causes for changing trends. DOAH committed to adopting clearance-rate and time-to-disposition standards, monitoring its performance through quarterly reports, and taking appropriate action to reduce backlogs.

In August 2017, OIG inquired and concluded that DOAH had begun to implement corrective actions. In October 2018, more than two years after the original audit, OIG inquired for a second time about the status of corrective actions. While DOAH has created clearance-rate and time-to-disposition monitoring reports, the reports are not finalized, and time-to-disposition reports are still a "work in progress." OIG urges DOAH to complete the design and implementation of monitoring reports to improve the Department's ability to identify and address negative operational trends.

The full report can be found online at OIG's website.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:17 AM | Permalink

Political Odds

For entertainment purposes only. And office pools. Updated as events warrant.

The chance that . . .

Toni Preckwinkle gets elected mayor: 45 percent. Down five ticks on inability to anticipate and deflect opponent (and media) attacks.

Susana Mendoza gets elected mayor: 30 percent. Down five ticks on a vacuous, craven campaign.

Bill Daley gets elected mayor: 5 percent. Holding steady because who wants to admit he could be a factor?

column_pol_odds.gifLori Lightfoot gets elected mayor: 5 percent. Up two ticks as folks look around for an alternative.

Amara Enyia gets elected mayor: 5 percent. Up four ticks as folks looks around for an alternative, but this is probably her ceiling unless Chase drops some cash quick.

Gery Chico gets elected mayor: 5 percent. Up five ticks as he goes on attack, though he also looks hacky doing it.

Garry McCarthy gets elected mayor: 0 percent. Disingenuous campaign can't escape Laquan McDonald's shadow.

Paul Vallas gets elected mayor: 5 percent. Up five ticks for demonstrating budget proficiency.

Willie Wilson gets elected mayor: 0 percent. Can pull just enough black votes to wreak havoc, but not nearly enough to make a runoff. Also, just plain out to lunch.

Dorothy Brown gets elected mayor: 0 percent. The church vote isn't as big as it used to be; might not even make the ballot.

Jeremiah Joyce Jr. gets elected mayor: 0 percent. No shot but advertising his willingness to play.

LaShawn Ford gets elected mayor: 0 percent. What's his endgame? Delusional or signaling.

Bob Fioretti gets elected mayor: 0 percent. Once-promising alderman now perennial joke candidate on the grift.

Neal Sales-Griffin gets elected mayor: 0 percent. Please. UPDATE: OUT

Ja'Mal Green gets elected mayor: 0 percent. Dude. UPDATE: OUT

John Kozlar gets elected mayor: 0 percent. Doesn't even have name recognition in his own family.

Ed Burke wins re-election: 40 percent. Down 10 ticks on indictment aftermath, but don't count him out.

Rahm runs for president: 0 percent. Of CNN, maybe.

Bruce Rauner runs for office again: 0 percent. Not here, at least; maybe in Montana.

JB Pritzker gets indicted: 50 percent. That's where the line starts for any Illinois governor.

Elon Musk's O'Hare tunnel thingie gets built: 5 percent. Down five ticks. Rahm was his lifeline; now his lonely eyes turn to Susana Mendoza.

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Propositions

Over/Under on number of mayoral candidates who make the ballot: 10 UPDATE: Looks like the over as petition challengers lose their nerve.

Over/Under on number of aldermen who will be indicted before the next city council election: 4. Hurry up, feds, transcribe those tapes!

Over/Under on number of aldermen currently wearing a wire: 1.5. There's always at least one.

Next alderman likely to be indicted, three-way parlay, choose from the following, in descending probability: Jason Ervin, Howard Brookins, Anthony Beale, Emma Mitts, Walter Burnett, George Cardenas, Carrie Austin, Danny Solis, Patrick O'Connor.

Daley brother most likely to be indicted in descending probability, parlays available: John, Michael, Richard, Bill.

Daley relative most likely to be indicted in descending probability: Patrick Daley, Patrick Daley Thompson.

Emanuel brother most likely to be indicted in descending probability: Ari, Rahm, Ezekiel.

Next city/county officeholder likely to be indicted in descending probability: Dorothy Brown, Karen Yarbrough, Stanley Moore, Maria Pappas.

Former county officeholder most likely to be indicted: Joe Berrios.

Over/Under on how long Janice Jackson lasts as CPS CEO: 12 months. The only question is what will force her out.

Over/Under on how long Eddie Johnson lasts as CPD Supt.: 6 months. Unless the next mayor is Mendoza, he's outta here.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:10 AM | Permalink

The [Monday] Papers

"A decade ago, when Jen Sincero was in her 40s and totally broke - flailing about in 'Loserville,' as she puts it - she decided to change her life. And she actually followed through," the Tribune reports.

Now she's a successful author. How did she do it? She became a life coach!

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How To Not Be A Loser Like Me.

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Actually Sincero is building a brand based on advising people to be the badasses they purportedly really are. For example, Sincero turned her life around - along with the life coaching thing - by starting a business teaching companies how to write book proposals. How bad ass is that?!

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"Sincero says the following six steps can help us unlock our own inner badassery."

I'll save you the click and tell you the six steps are variations of the same things you've heard your whole life, blah blah blah.

I have my own six steps to follow to unlock your badassery, and number one is to ignore the Sinceros the world. The other five you have to pay for.

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Also, it's virtually impossible to be a corporate soldier and a badass - or be a badass motivational speaker. Let's not define badass down.

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"If my broke ass can get rich, you can too."

In 2011 she sold most of her possessions and spent the next three years running her business from all corners of the globe, writing, speaking, coaching and encouraging people to live lives of unbridled awesomeness.

How to get rich? Start a business teaching other people how to get rich! I think I'm qualified! No. 1: Be a badass!

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Real badassery will not get you rich, sorry. That's part of being a badass.

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Note: Tony Robbins never had a "real" job outside of motivational speaker. He started out at 17 telling other people how to best live their lives without the benefit of any experience of his own at doing just that. So it goes!

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Programming Note
I hope to return to politics this week; I just haven't had the strength, I feel like shit every day and I think I'm dying. So we'll see!

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New on the Beachwood . . .

SportsMonday: Parkey & Pace
Like his kicker, Bears GM has been the most hit-and-miss general manager we've ever seen in these parts.

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ChicagoReddit

Can we please get some buttons from r/chicago

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ChicagoGram

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ChicagoTube

Dick "The Bruiser" Afflis vs. Bill Melby | 1950s Chicago wrestling

"Here is wild wrestling match featuring Dick The Bruiser Afflis vs. Bill Melby from Fred Kohler's Chicago territory. After being thrown off the Green Bay Packers football team, Dick Afflis turned to professional wrestling."

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BeachBook

MUST-READ: Two Towns Forged An Unlikely Bond. Now, ICE Is Severing The Connection.

This, sadly, is my favorite piece of journalism so far this year. It illustrates so much about human identity, connection, cultural transmission, and the brutal, fascist times we live in.

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TweetWood
A sampling.

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The Beachwood McRibTipLine: Low and slow.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:06 AM | Permalink

January 12, 2019

The Weekend Desk Report

For completists, there was no column on Thursday or Friday; reasons and things.

Check out #1Chi4All as well as @BeachwoodReport for my running commentary.

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New on the Beachwood . . .

The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour #234: Double Doinkage

Worst Chicago sports loss ever? Including: What We Still Don't Know About Cody Parkey's Double Doink; Hero Or Heel?; Hawk Bearelsons; The Other 59:50 Of That Game; The Vic Vacancy; Another Inside Story Of The Bears Blowing It By Drafting Trubisky Instead Of Mahomes; The Meaning Of Mediocre; and Rewriting Robbie Gould!

Plus: White Sox Making Moves!; Dear Cubs Fans: Your Favorite Baseball Team Can Afford Any Free Agent It Wants; Jim Boylen Sucks, What More Do You Need To Know?; Don't Believe The Blackhawks Hype (Apparently There's Blackhawks Hype); and The Four-Part Recipe For The Oily Stew Of Dysfunction That Ousted Tom Thibodeau.

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IL AG: Illinois Dioceses Massively And Abhorrently Failed Underage Sexual Assault Victims
What a sick institution.

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When UW Arboretum Restoration Research Fired Up An Oscar-Winning Disney Doc
1954's The Vanishing Prairie helped spark interest in conservation science - and came with a cool poster.

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Weekend ChicagoReddit

Today is the 50th anniversary of Led Zeppelin's debut album that was released on January 12, 1969! Here is a 1969 concert handbill promoting the group and others for a concert at The Kinetic Playground once located at 4812 N Clark St. from r/chicago

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Weekend ChicagoGram

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Weekend ChicagoTube

Eagles Mic'd Up Against The Bears.

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Weekend BeachBook
A sampling.

What The Laquan McDonald E-Mails Really Showed.

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Boston's Great Molasses Flood Of 1919.

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Earth's Magnetic Field Is Fucked Up.

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Weekend TweetWood
A sampling.

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The Weekend Desk McRibTipLine: Take care of business.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 1:42 PM | Permalink

January 11, 2019

IL AG: Illinois Dioceses Massively And Abhorrently Failed Underage Sexual Assault Victims

Excerpts from December's "Preliminary Findings of the Investigation into Catholic Clergy Sexual Abuse of Minors in Illinois" from the Office of the Attorney General.

The following preliminary findings are based upon information the Office has obtained through meetings and interviews and its review of thousands of pages of documents, including information and documents provided by the Illinois Dioceses, files related to clergy sexual abuse maintained by the Illinois Dioceses, communications with survivors of clergy sexual abuse, discussions with experts on clergy sexual abuse, and discussions with law enforcement officials.

Scope of the Problem: Clergy sexual abuse of minors in Illinois is significantly more extensive than the Illinois Dioceses previously reported.

In the four months since the Office opened this investigation, the Illinois Dioceses have acknowledged that they are aware of an additional 45 previously undisclosed clergy who they deemed to be "credibly" accused of sexually abusing minors.

These additional disclosures are a direct result of the Office's investigation. With few exceptions, the dioceses have provided no adequate justification for failing to disclose these names before the Office's investigation.

* Based upon the Office's review of the Illinois Dioceses' files, the Illinois Dioceses have, in total, received allegations related to sexual abuse for approximately 690 clergy.

* The Illinois Dioceses have publicly identified only 185 clergy as having been "credibly" accused of sexual abuse. As a result, the Illinois Dioceses have received allegations of sexual abuse for more than 500 clergy that the Illinois Dioceses have not shared with the public.

Disregarding Survivors' Allegations: The Illinois Dioceses often disregarded survivors' allegations by either not investigating the allegations, or finding reasons not to substantiate the allegations.

* Of the allegations against clergy that the Illinois Dioceses have received, the Illinois Dioceses have deemed 26 percent as "credible" allegations, meaning 74 percent of the allegations were either not investigated, or were investigated but not substantiated by the Illinois Dioceses.

Each diocese has its own process for determining whether an allegation is "credible" or "substantiated." The Office is using the terms "credible" and "substantiated" to describe allegations because these are terms the Illinois Dioceses have used. While each diocese has a different process, the Illinois Dioceses all require that an allegation be deemed "credible" or "substantiated" before publishing the name of an accused clergy.

* The Office found dozens of examples where the Illinois Dioceses failed to adequately investigate an allegation of clergy sexual abuse it received from a survivor.

* Among the most common reasons for a diocese to decide not to investigate was the fact that a clergy was either deceased or had resigned from ministry when the allegation was first reported to the diocese. Dioceses failed to investigate allegations for deceased or resigned clergy even when they received allegations from multiple survivors. Failing to investigate deceased or resigned clergy ignores both the impact such a decision has on survivors seeking closure and that an investigation might lead other survivors to come forward. Failing to investigate also makes it impossible to determine whether other clergy, including those who are alive and involved with the church, helped conceal the abuse.

* The Illinois Dioceses also failed to investigate clergy who were order priests.15 Allegations related to order priests were simply referred to the order from which the priest came, even though the priest was ministering with the authority of the bishop and within the geography of the diocese. Once a referral was made, little to no follow up from the dioceses was commonplace, leaving survivors without answers or resolutions.

* a lawsuit was filed; the survivor wanted to remain anonymous; a criminal investigation was opened; and the clergy left the country. In many of these cases, information and evidence related to the alleged abuse was readily available and easily confirmed.

* When the Illinois Dioceses investigated an allegation, they frequently found reasons not to deem an allegation "credible" or "substantiated." In the Office's review of clergy files, a pattern emerged where the dioceses frequently failed to "substantiate" an allegation when it came from only one survivor, even when the dioceses had reason to believe that survivor and reason to investigate further. The dioceses also often found reasons to discredit survivors' stories of abuse by focusing on the survivors' personal lives.

* Based upon its review, the Office believes that additional allegations should be deemed "credible" or "substantiated" by the Illinois Dioceses.

* A diocesan priest is a clergy member ordained and assigned to a certain geographical region (i.e., diocese). Diocesan priests are assigned to their posts within a diocese by the Bishop, and their assignments include work at parishes within the geographical diocese. A religious order priest is a clergy member who belongs to a religious order, whose assignment is given by the Superior (akin to an executive officer) of the religious order. Religious order priests may be assigned by their Superior to serve within a diocese, but only the Bishop of that diocese may grant the order priest permission to perform various sacramental functions within the geographic region of the diocese.

Insufficient Transparency: Increased transparency is necessary to serve the Illinois Dioceses' stated goal of holding clergy accountable and promoting healing for survivors.

* Despite the Charter's call for openness and transparency, a majority of the Illinois Dioceses do not have a written policy for publishing the name of a clergy member who committed a substantiated act of sexually abusing a minor.

* Prior to the Office's investigation, only the Archdiocese of Chicago and the Diocese of Joliet had compiled and published a list of clergy who had been "credibly" accused of sexual abuse of minors. The Dioceses of Belleville, Peoria, Rockford and Springfield did not take the basic step of publishing a comprehensive list of clergy who had been "credibly" accused until the Office became involved. Even now, these lists, for the most part, remain difficult to locate on the Illinois Dioceses' websites.

* It took the Office's involvement for the Illinois Dioceses to disclose an additional forty- five clergy as having been "credibly" accused of sexually abusing minors. Remarkably, the Illinois Dioceses had been aware of nearly all of these allegations for years, in some cases decades, and the dioceses had substantiated the allegations long ago.

* Based upon its review of the Illinois Dioceses' files, the Office believes that there are more clergy in Illinois who should be listed publicly by the Illinois Dioceses as having been "credibly" accused of sexually abusing minors.

Flawed Processes and Practices: The Illinois Dioceses' response to clergy sexual abuse is not uniform across Illinois and is often inadequate.

* During its initial review of clergy sexual abuse files maintained by the Illinois Dioceses, the Office was unable to discern if any diocese in Illinois has made an effort to shine light on attempts by Church leadership to cover up and conceal allegations of clergy sexual abuse against minors. On this issue, the Catholic Church itself has yet to undertake polices to ensure accountability of its bishops for their part in covering up clergy sex abuse against minors.

* The Office found multiple examples where the Illinois Dioceses failed to notify law enforcement or DCFS of allegations they received related to clergy sexual abuse of minors.

* Each diocese uses different terms and explanations, or none at all, to indicate the evidence required for the diocese to determine whether an accused clergy did or did not commit sexual abuse against a minor. As a result, different dioceses apply different "burdens of proof." Differing burdens of proof found in the various policies include: "reasonable cause to suspect," "sufficient evidence," "sufficient possibility that an incident occurred," and "more probably true than not."

* The dioceses use different terms to define the conclusions they draw at the end of an investigation. For example, some use the term "substantiated," others use the term "credible," and others use both. Such different terminology makes it confusing for the general public to understand what conclusions to draw, further frustrating the goals of transparency and accountability.

* While the Illinois Dioceses have touted their "independent audits" as evidence that they are adequately responding to clergy sexual abuse allegations, the audits are seemingly not designed to discover clergy abuse, but rather are perfunctory, "check the box" exercises done in a routine manner by the same entity nationwide, using a process that does not appear to involve a systematic review of the contents of files or the decisions a diocese made.

Failing Survivors: The Illinois Dioceses' investigatory processes often do not realize the Charter's goal to prioritize survivor healing, particularly when conflicts of interest are present with respect to the Dioceses' own interests and liabilities.

* The Office found examples where dioceses refused to confirm for a survivor that they were not the only individual who had been abused by a specific clergy member, even though the diocese was already aware of allegations from other survivors.

* The Office found examples where a diocese received allegations from a survivor and took steps to obtain the survivor's story, only to inform the survivor later that there was nothing the diocese could do because the clergy accused of sexually abusing a minor was an order priest.

* The Office found examples where a diocese sought to discredit a survivor's allegations based upon the survivor's personal life.

* An inherent tension exists between a diocese offering support for the survivor and the diocese's fact-finding process related to confirming allegations of sexual abuse. Given the important roles clergy have within dioceses, the potential financial impact of deeming an allegation "credible", and the negative publicity related to a clergy member being "credibly" accused of sexually abusing a minor, there is undoubtedly a conflict between the Catholic Church's interests and the survivor's interests. Unfortunately, that conflict often prevented the dioceses from meeting their commitment to survivor healing and reconciliation.

* By and large, the Illinois Dioceses' investigative processes remain a mystery to survivors who report allegations of clergy sexual abuse against minors. The Office found examples where survivors were not provided updates on the status of the investigation or informed when the diocese did determine that allegations against the accused had been substantiated.

Conclusion: The Office's investigation is ongoing, and the information included in this update is preliminary. However, the Office has reviewed enough information to conclude that the Illinois Dioceses will not resolve the clergy sexual abuse crisis on their own. It appears that the Illinois Dioceses have lost sight of both the key tenet of the Charter and the most obvious human need as a result of these abhorrent acts of abuse: the healing and reconciliation of survivors. Long after legal remedies have expired, the Catholic Church has the ability and moral responsibility to survivors to offer support and services, and to take swift action to remove abusive clergy. The actions taken by the Catholic Church should always be survivor-focused and with the goal of holding abusers accountable in a transparent manner.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 3:19 PM | Permalink

The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour #234: Double Doinkage

Worst Chicago sports loss ever? Including: What We Still Don't Know About Cody Parkey's Double Doink; Hero Or Heel?; Hawk Bearelsons; The Other 59:50 Of That Game; The Vic Vacancy; Another Inside Story Of The Bears Blowing It By Drafting Trubisky Instead Of Mahomes; The Meaning Of Mediocre; and Rewriting Robbie Gould!

Plus: White Sox Making Moves!; Dear Cubs Fans: Your Favorite Baseball Team Can Afford Any Free Agent It Wants; Jim Boylen Sucks, What More Do You Need To Know?; Don't Believe The Blackhawks Hype (Apparently There's Blackhawks Hype); and The Four-Part Recipe For The Oily Stew Of Dysfunction That Ousted Tom Thibodeau.


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SHOW NOTES

* 234.

* Worst loss in Chicago sports history?

* Coffman: SportsMonday: Gut-Punch.

* Rhodes: Parsing Parkey Pique.

* Wikipedia: Does icing the kicker work?

* NPR: Eagles' Defeat Of The Bears Revives The Question: Does Icing The Kicker Work?

* Google: Does icing the kicker work?

14:00: What We Still Don't Know About Cody Parkey's Double Doink.

* Did the tip matter?

* Did an offensive lineman miss an assignment?

* Was the kick too low?

* Did Treyvon Hester simply make a great play?

18:35: Hero Or Heel?

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Or maybe he's just a guy who didn't make a successful kick - for whatever reasons - and nothing more than that.

26:25: Hawk Bearelsons.

* Goo as Gould.

33:23: The Other 59:50 Of That Game.

* Nagy's play-calling.

* Trubisky's quarterbacking.

* Tabor's special teaming.

39:15: The Vic Vacancy.

* Ed Donatell vs. Chuck Pagano?

* There goes the Kubiak theory!

47:17: 'We Got It Done!': The Inside Story Of How Patrick Mahomes Landed With The Chiefs.

The night began with a twist: The Chicago Bears traded up a spot, from the third pick to the second pick.

"I'd been in communication with the Bears pretty regularly," [agent Chris] Cabott said. "I knew they liked Patrick a lot. So when they moved up, 'Everybody was kind of like, 'Hmm. What's that for?' "

It was for Mitchell Trubisky, the quarterback out of North Carolina. The pick surprised Cabott, but it didn't change his outlook . . .

* Rhodes: This is just the latest version of several well-reported accounts showing that the Bears were only bidding against themselves when Ryan Pace moved up in the draft to get Mitchell Trubisky - as well as showing that Trubisky wasn't necessarily everybody's first choice of quarterbacks that day.

And yet . . .

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Also from Hawk Hoge . . .

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And . . .

"There's enough to like about Glennon to understand what Bears general manager Ryan Pace sees in him. We're talking about a 27-year-old quarterback who was never given a fair shake in Tampa. Watching the tape is important because it exposes realities that cannot be seen on a stat sheet . . . "

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(The KC Johnson piece Coffman mentions: Jabari Parker - Warts And All - Deserves Another Chance To Play.)

54:47: The Meaning Of Mediocre.

trubiskymediocre.png

* Also beware Bears writers citing stats showing Trubisky to be one of the best quarterbacks in the league, because there are just as many stats showing him to be one of the worst.

Screen Shot 2019-01-11 at 4.34.41 PM.png

1:00:04: Rewriting Robbie Gould!

* From BRSH #226, at 55:41: Don't Rewrite History; Cutting Robbie Gould Was The Right Thing To Do.

'In 2015 Gould converted 33 of 39 field goals for an 84.6 percentage, 19th in the league. He struggled during the later portion of the season, missing two field goals against the 49ers and a potential game-tying kick against the Redskins, with a combined two of five field goals converted in those two games.'

He looked shitty at the end of that season. Then, the following exhibition season, he missed two extra points in the finale, as well as a field goal in another. It was hard to stick with him. If anything, the Bears' big mistake was bringing him to camp the next year and not cutting him until the final week of the preseason in favor of Connor Barth, who had just been released by the Saints.

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Fox Sports, December 2015:

After missing three field-goal attempts in the past two weeks, Chicago Bears kicker Robbie Gould is in a serious slump.

However, on Wednesday, special teams coordinator Jeff Rodgers said he's not worried about his veteran placekicker's poor performances as of late.

Via ESPN's Jeff Dickerson:

Gould's recent misses have been particularly painful, as they've cost the Bears games that they desperately needed to stay alive in the playoff hunt. He missed two attempts in an overtime loss to the San Francisco 49ers in Week 13. Then, against the Washington Redskins last Sunday, he missed a 50-yard try that likely would have sent the game into overtime.

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Dickerson, September 2016:

Determined to bounce back, Gould embarked on a new training and nutritional regimen in the offseason and reported to camp at a heavier weight after he gained muscle mass. While Gould went 5-for-6 on field goals in the preseason, he failed to convert two PATs in the Bears' preseason finale at Cleveland.

"For us it was if a specific player comes available, and we know that we're able to acquire that player, then that's something we need to entertain and discuss," Pace said. "So that's kind of how it played out, when we knew this guy [Barth] would be available for us, it made the switch a possibility.

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Dickerson, November 2017:

"The Bears have signed former Chiefs kicker Cairo Santos and released veteran kicker Connor Barth.

"Barth missed a last-second, game-tying 46-yard field goal attempt in Chicago's 27-24 loss to Detroit on Sunday."

1:07:03: White Sox Making Moves!

* Jon Jay!

* Kelvin Herrera!

* Alex Colome!

1:07:52: Dear Cubs Fans: Your Favorite Baseball Team Can Afford Any Free Agent It Wants.

1:08:52: Jim Boylen Sucks, What More Do You Need To Know?

1:08:59: Don't Believe The Blackhawks Hype (Apparently There's Blackhawks Hype).

1:10:35: The Four-Part Recipe For The Oily Stew Of Dysfunction That Ousted Tom Thibodeau.

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STOPPAGE: 22:31

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

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 3:04 PM | Permalink

When UW Arboretum Restoration Research Fired Up An Oscar-Winning Disney Doc

In the early 1950s, the Walt Disney Company moved beyond animated cartoons to nature films. When creating movies like Bambi, Disney brought in live animals for its artists to study, and even had natural science lectures to educate the animators. Walt Disney himself developed an interest in conservation and launched a series of 13 documentaries titled "True-Life Adventures."

The series focused primarily on the fading frontier, conservation and nature. These films were some of the first of their kind, and served as inspiration for many entries to the genre.

Environmental awareness, at least relative to cinema, can also be traced back to the "True-Life Adventures" series. The first film in the series was Seal Island (1948), set in the Alaskan frontier. Russia and Japan had just signed a treaty on seal hunting and that is likely what caught Disney's attention.

Seal Island ran for 27 minutes; too short for a feature and too long for a short. Theaters weren't interested, but Disney managed to get it into a friend's theater, qualifying it for Academy Award consideration. It won an Oscar for best documentary short subject, and so the series was off and running.

It was at that point Madison became part of nature film history.

curtisprairie.jpgEvening light illuminates a sculpture in Curtis Prairie at the UW Arboretum/Lauren Parnell Marino (CC BY-NC 2.0)

One of the most acclaimed entries in the series was The Vanishing Prairie, released in 1954. Disney needed a prairie for filming, one that reflected a prairie "before civilization left its mark upon the land." The Curtis Prairie fit the bill and was used for much of the documentary, in particular the scenes of a prairie fire, which was filmed during a controlled burn.

John Curtis and Max Partch conducted groundbreaking research on ecological restoration at the UW Arboretum in the 1940s, documenting the important role of fire in maintaining and restoring prairie landscapes.

Fires still occur on the Curtis Prairie and elsewhere at the UW Arboretum during spring (March through May) and fall (November-December) prescribed burning seasons. Fire is a part of the ecological process that shapes Wisconsin's plant communities. It is a natural phenomenon that helped maintain various ecosystems, including the prairie, before European settlers arrived.

Prescribed fire is deliberately set under expert supervision to achieve ecological objectives to maintain or re-establish plant and animal communities. Factors like weather (temperature, wind speed and direction, and humidity), fuel load, and smoke management are part of the burn plan to reduce risk.

Over the last 25-30 years, approximately 100 acres of UW Arboretum lands were treated with prescribed fire every year. Currently there are around 20 areas (including outlying properties) that are managed with regular prescribed fire by prescribed burning professionals.

science-ecology-disney-thevanishingprairie-poster.jpg

Only portions of The Vanishing Prairie were filmed in Madison. It is unlikely footage of prairie dogs or a bison giving birth was filmed in Madison. (The New York State Censorship Board banned the film due to that latter scene, but later relented.)

The Vanishing Prairie won an Oscar for best documentary feature in 1954. Disney's clandestine nod to a conservation ethos can be seen in the film's title changes, from The Grazing Story to The Prairie Story to finally The Vanishing Prairie. Walt Disney's goal was that "the vanishing pageant of the past may become the enduring pageant of the future."

The series was shown in public schools for decades and influenced many young people to choose careers in conservation and forestry.

Since the UW Arboretum publishes its prescribed fire schedule online prior to each burning season, it is possible to see a real fire on the "vanishing prairie" with a little planning.

Thomas Straka is a professor in the Department of Forestry and Environmental Conservation at Clemson University. He studied forestry at UW-Madison, and spent many hours in the UW Arboretum. This article was originally published on Oct. 25, 2018 in the Isthmus.

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Previously in Wisconsin:
* Song of the Moment: On, Wisconsin!

* Wisconsin Cheese Production Continues To Grow.

* Wisconsin's Specialty Cheesemakers May Be Better Off Than Other States.

* Tips For Growing Blueberries In Wisconsin.

* Amid A Boom, Wisconsin Cranberry Growers Look To Future Markets.

* The Top 10 Wisconsin Insect Trends Of 2016.

* Wisconsin's Penokees Are A Geologic Gem.

* Wisconsin Researchers Aim To Make Cows Happier.

* Wisconsin And The Extinction Of The Passenger Pigeon.

* The Life Of Land After Frac Sand.

* Blueberry Maggot Fly Poised To Expand In Wisconsin.

* Efforts To Boost Marten Numbers In Wisconsin Meet Ongoing Failure.

* How To Raise A Pizza.

* RECALL! Wisconsin Pork Sausage Patties.

* Making The Most Of Wisconsin's Autumn Garden Harvest.

* Who Is Stealing Wisconsin's Birch?

* How To Harvest And Process Wisconsin's Edible Tree Nuts.

* Lakes, Cheese And You.

* When Oshkosh Was Sin City.

* Wisconsin Workers, Chicago Commuters And The Cost Of Living.

* Chicago vs. Wisconsin.

* Before Dairy Ruled, Wheat Reigned In Wisconsin.

* The Allure Of Destination Breweries As Rural Economic Engines.

* Green Bay Packers Fans Love That Their Team Doesn't Have An Owner. Just Don't Call It 'Communism.'

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:42 AM | Permalink

January 9, 2019

The [Wednesday] Papers

"Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan's private remarks during his 18 months at the Pentagon have spurred accusations that he is boosting his former employer Boeing, people who have witnessed the exchanges told Politico - fueling questions about whether he harbors an unfair bias against other big military contractors," Politico reports.

"Shanahan, who spent 31 years at Boeing before joining the Pentagon in mid-2017, has signed an ethics agreement recusing him from weighing in on matters involving the mammoth defense contractor. But that hasn't stopped him from praising Boeing and trashing competitors such as Lockheed Martin during internal meetings, two former government officials who have heard him make the accusations told Politico.

"The remarks raise questions among ethics experts about whether Shanahan, intentionally or not, is putting his finger on the scale when it comes to Pentagon priorities. They also call new attention to a recent decision by the Pentagon to request new Boeing fighters that the Air Force has said it does not want - a request that Bloomberg has reported came after 'prodding' from Shanahan."

Boldface mine.

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Reminder:

"Seven weeks after announcing that it would move its headquarters out of Seattle, the Boeing Company selected Chicago as its new home," the New York Times reported in 2001.

"Boeing, the world's largest maker of commercial aircraft, chose Chicago over Dallas and Denver after it was promised tax breaks and incentives that could total $60 million over 20 years by the city and the State of Illinois."

Just three more years to go! It's like Bobby Bonilla's contract.

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Also:

Boeing just had a record year, with $10.3 billion in profits.

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Back to today's Politico piece:

"Shanahan is the first Pentagon chief to come purely from the private sector since the 1950s and has virtually no government or policy experience . . .

"Shanahan's experience at Boeing is 'his only reference point,' [a] former Trump administration official said. 'He doesn't have a lot of other experiences to draw on. He owns it in a powerful way because he doesn't have the military experience, he doesn't have the experience in government. So when he talks about those things, he's very forceful.'"

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"Shanahan's critics are misreading his comments, according to two currently serving officials, who requested anonymity to speak about internal discussions. While Shanahan regularly recounts his experience working on major programs at Boeing, they say, he has not said the company should have won the F-35 contract.

"He's not talking about Boeing right now; he's really speaking more to his experience, his leadership. His insight is, 'I've seen this, I've done it,'" one Defense Department official said.

Right. He's speaking from his experience - at Boeing.

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"The late Senate Armed Services Chairman John McCain (R-Ariz.) was among those expressing qualms about Shanahan's ties to Boeing during his confirmation hearing to be deputy secretary in June 2017. 'I am concerned that 90 percent of defense spending is in the hands of five corporations, of which you represent one,' McCain told Shanahan. 'I have to have confidence that the fox is not gonna to be put back into the hen house.'"

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From the Daily Beast last December:

"A much smaller contract perhaps is the most troubling. On Dec. 21, Bloomberg reported that the Pentagon would request funding in the 2020 defense budget for a dozen upgraded F-15X fighters worth $1.2 billion. Boeing builds the 1970s-vintage, non-stealthy F-15 at its plant in St. Louis.

"The Air Force for years has said it does not want more F-15s, instead preferring to order F-35 stealth fighters from Lockheed for around the same price as the F-15X, per plane. But the Pentagon reportedly overruled the Air Force and added the new Boeing fighters to the budget.

"Shanahan 'prodded' planners to include the planes, according to Bloomberg - this despite the requirement that Shanahan recuse himself from decisions involving Boeing."

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From "Boeing Executive Named to Pentagon Will Face Many Potential Conflicts," The Center for Defense Information, March 2017:

"Unsurprisingly, disclosure forms show Boeing has lobbied on the need to lift defense spending caps, putting both Boeing and Shanahan in line with the proposed Pentagon budget. As Boeing noted in a recent SEC filing, 'We derive a substantial portion of our revenue from the U.S. government, primarily from defense related programs with the U.S. DoD . . . Future budget cuts, including cuts mandated by sequestration, or future procurement decisions associated with the authorizations and appropriations process could result in reductions, cancellations, and/or delays of existing contracts or programs. Any of these impacts could have a material effect on the results of the Company's operations, financial position and/or cash flows.'"

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From the Los Angeles Times/Tribune Newspapers, March 2008:

"Since taking the helm of the 787 program, Shanahan has declined media interviews so that he can focus on solving the problem at hand, Boeing executives said."

That was written with a straight face. #PuffPiece

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"[H]e is said to be just as comfortable donning work overalls as he is wearing pinstriped suits, seamlessly moving between the factory floor and the company's mahogany-paneled boardroom."

An engineer for a manufacturing company better be! A media trope that reminds me of the dating profile cliche of woman who is just as comfortable in jeans and a t-shirt as high heels and and an evening gown.

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From Devdiscourse last week:

"Patrick Shanahan was thrust into the spotlight during his debut as acting U.S. defense secretary on Wednesday, sitting next to President Donald Trump as he publicly disparaged Shanahan's predecessor, lampooned the war in Afghanistan and called Syria a land of 'sand' and 'death.' The former deputy defense secretary officially took office during the New Year's holiday on Tuesday, issuing a statement saying that he looked 'forward to working with President Trump to carry out his vision.'"

"Trump's vision for the second half of his four-year term in office came into view on Wednesday as he spoke exhaustively during a cabinet meeting about America's wars, and his displeasure with them. Shanahan, a former Boeing executive, sat silently at Trump's side, often expressionless, as television cameras rolled."

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Bonus Space Force coverage!

From the Tribune last August:

"A Trump appointee, Deputy Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan, had begun preparing the congressional-ordered report on whether to create an independent space force.

"A former senior Boeing executive, Shanahan was familiar with the cumbersome Air Force procurement system. He became the administration's space force point person, consulting with Pence, Rogers, the Air Force and other Pentagon players, and the space council.

"I can hear my dad kind of whispering in my ear, 'Don't screw anything up,' " Shanahan told reporters Aug. 9, adding: "There are extensive military operations going on throughout the world right now, and they're heavily reliant on space."

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And just last week from Space News: Shanahan Keeps Tight Grip On Space Force Planning.

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New on the Beachwood . . .

Muting R. Kelly
Calling on Sony and Live Nation, as well a number of other entities still supporting his music, to drop R. Kelly for good.

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NBC Reporter's Kiss-Off
Inside the media's national security state.

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Overhauling Illinois' Unconstitutional Prisons
Preventable deaths, unnecessary pain and suffering.

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Sports Betting Should Come With A Consumer Warning
"Please gamble responsibly" is not enough.

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Myopic 2000
An interview with the bookstore owner 18 years ago.

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The U.S. Postal Inspection Service Year In Review
What a year it was - package devices, natural disasters, scams, and more.

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ChicagoReddit

1/19 Popular Chicago bar to be first to demo new cryptocurrency point-of-sale platform from r/chicago

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ChicagoGram

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ChicagoTube

Sound Warehouse, 1986

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TweetWood
A sampling.

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The Beachwood McRibTipLine: Back in slack.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 5:39 AM | Permalink

January 8, 2019

U.S. Postal Inspection Service Year In Review

"What a year it was - package devices, natural disasters, scams, and more. Here's how the U.S. Postal Inspection Service kept the mail safe in 2018."


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Previously:

* Vanishing Vending Machines.

* Item: Art Fraud Bust.

* Janene Gordon, Postal Inspector.

* Happy Birthday, U.S. Postal Inspection Service!

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:24 PM | Permalink

Here's A 2000 Interview With The Former Owner Of Myopic

'Owner Joseph Judd of Myopic Books on Milwaukee Avenue in Wicker Park talks about bookstore life, his changing neighborhood, the emergence of online book sellers, and much more in a wide ranging interview for the CITY 2000 project, an archive now housed at the UIC. Subscribe to and enjoy lots more great videos from Chicago and around the world on this channel and at my website.'


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Notes:

* Judd opened a bookstore in Charleston in 2015.

* Shrouded in mystery.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 5:35 PM | Permalink

Sports Betting Should Come With A Health Warning

"Please drink responsibly" is a familiar plea to those who might be inclined to consume alcohol, and we are also reminded to "gamble responsibly," a timely reminder during a busy period for Premier League football, full of fixtures and plenty of casual fans with time on their hands.

You can make a reasonable judgement about responsible drinking by using the percentage of alcohol by volume (ABV) information on the label of whichever bottle has been opened. But how can we determine the strength of a football bet?

In fact, "gambling harm" can also be approximated by a percentage. The "gamblers' losses" percentage is a measure of the money bet that a gambler will lose in the long term. Short term randomness around this percentage is what makes gambling interesting, but over longer time periods, gamblers will lose this percentage of all the money they bet.

We think most people probably have no idea of what percentage of money is lost across different football bets. So we looked at eight seasons of Premier League betting odds and results using machine learning.

Machine learning allowed us to simulate three potential human betting strategies over long periods of time. One "random" strategy effectively simulated the risks of throwing darts at a set of betting odds. By comparison, a "most-skilled" strategy carefully studied the betting odds and results for three whole seasons before judiciously selecting the best bet it could find for each match.

We also looked at the returns of a strategy that deliberately tried to be as unskilled as possible. The "least-skilled" strategy chose what might be thought of as the worst case scenario for each match. This mirrors the returns of someone who is not merely unlucky, but is unskilled (and who may benefit from more help and advice). Any differences between these three strategies reflect the role of skill in Premier League football betting.

The risks varied based on both the type of bet chosen and the specific betting strategy used. When simulating the returns of a given bet of, say £1, we found that the gamblers' losses percentage varied by a factor of 54. Using the drinking comparison, this is like the difference between a 1% reduced strength lager and a strong bottle of whiskey.

Some of the highest risks came from betting on the correct score - a bet with pretty high odds - which you might have seen the actor Ray Winstone offering on British television over Christmas. For example, Manchester City to win 3-1 might have odds of 9/1, meaning every £1 bet wins £9 if Manchester City win by that score line.

We found that just randomly selecting correct score bets would hit you with a strong average loss of 34.3%. But the worse case scenario was a whopping average loss of 58.9%, which came when the least skilled strategy picked very high correct scores (such as the away team winning by four goals to nil). Of course, sometimes bets at high odds pay off. But overall, these figures mean that for every £100 bet, on average the gambler lost £34.30 and £58.90 for their betting strategies.

Luckily there are two tips that gamblers can do to keep their losses within reasonable limits.

Good Odds It's Bad Bet

The first tip is to select types of bets with relatively low odds. The bookmakers love advertising correct score bets, for example, because these bets offer high odds if gamblers guess the correct score.

But one bet with lower odds is what we call a "home-draw-away" bet, either betting on Manchester City to win, draw, or lose to the away team. Here the random strategy returned average percentage losses of 8.7%, so nearly four times less than randomly choosing correct score bets.

The second tip is to select bets with relatively low odds within a given bet type. Manchester City are usually expected to win by the bookmakers, and at the time of writing, betting £1 on them to win their recent match against Southampton gave a potential win of £1.27 if successful. By comparison, a £1 bet on Southampton to triumph would return £11 if successful.

Many gamblers might get excited by those higher odds on Southampton winning. But across each bet type, bets at low odds had the lowest average losses for gamblers. If a bet has odds that seem too high to be true, it probably is a bad bet on average.

warninglabelbets.jpg

The gambling industry recently announced that it will stop showing gambling advertising pre-watershed starting next summer. So promoting betting odds on TV during the football will soon become a thing of the past.

But the industry is currently spending five times as much on online marketing (£1.2 billion) as on its total TV advertising spend. This online marketing is largely hidden to anyone who is not targeted to receive these messages.

We believe that the very high differences in product risk across football bets should at least be communicated in some way to consumers. While further research should investigate how best to educate football fans about these different risks, reminders to just "gamble responsibly" won't cut it.

Consumers need to be told about the risks of football bets with high odds.

Arman Hassanniakalager is a lecturer in finance at the University of Bath. Philip Newall is a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Warwick. This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license.

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Comments welcome.


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 5:12 PM | Permalink

The [Tuesday] Papers

1. Chicago Employers Among Those Rushing To Hire Temporary Immigrant Workers.

"Intense demand for seasonal foreign workers has crashed a federal government website, leaving many employers across the country wondering if they'll be able to hire those workers. Some Chicago businesses rely on temporary seasonal workers, including landscapers and other service workers," WBEZ reports.

"H-2B visas are for low-skilled seasonal foreign workers in nonagricultural jobs. There are only 33,000 such visas available nationwide. Employers submitted three times as many applications for eligible workers with those visas in one day, crashing the website through which employers submit their applications."

2. Chicago Organizations That Support Survivors And Work To Prevent Sexual Violence.

"The recent airing of Lifetime's Surviving R. Kelly documentary series fueled this list of Chicago organizations making that third one a reality for tens of thousands of survivors every year," the Reader writes.

"These nonprofits and agencies offer free or low-cost services such as medical and legal advocacy, emergency and transitional housing, and individual, group, and family counseling for survivors of all ages and their loved ones. They also provide education, training, and prevention programs to stop rape culture once and for all."

3. 23 Years After Drunken Crash That Killed His Friend, McHenry County Man Sent To Prison For DUI.

"Nearly 25 years ago, Dennis Zidek crashed his car in McHenry after a night of drinking beer, killing his friend and passenger Peterson Doud," the Tribune reports.

Just 18 at the time, Zidek was given probation and spent a few months in jail on work release.

But on Monday, Zidek, now 41, was ordered to prison after he was convicted recently of driving under the influence - charges that were heightened because of his involvement in the long-ago crash.

As family quietly looked on, Zidek was cuffed and led away by a McHenry County sheriff's deputy after he was sentenced to two years in prison on the aggravated DUI guilty plea, which stemmed from Zidek being found intoxicated and nonresponsive in a parked but running car in Richmond in 2016, authorities said.

Zidek, of Wonder Lake, must serve at least half of his sentence and then will be placed on supervised release for a year. He could have faced up to 10 years in prison had he been convicted at trial. An additional charge of driving on a suspended license was dropped in exchange for his plea.

4. Landlord Mark Fishman Kicked Me Out Of My Ward Office, Ald. Carlos Ramirez-Rosa Says.

"A long-standing feud between Ald. Carlos Ramirez-Rosa (35th) and controversial landlord Mark Fishman boiled over this month when Fishman evicted Ramirez-Rosa and State Rep. Will Guzzardi out of their shared office on Sawyer Avenue," Block Club Chicago reports.

"Fishman alleges Ramirez-Rosa and Guzzardi (D-Chicago) owed more than $42,000 in back rent - a dispute stretching back to December 2015 when Fishman bought the building at 2708-2710 N. Sawyer Ave.

"But Ramirez-Rosa contends Fishman manufactured the dispute in an effort to have power over him, to 'bully and buy him,' as he describes it."

5. Man Whose Twin Brother Is Serving Time For Murder Also Headed To Prison For Fatal Shooting.

"A man who was sentenced in the fatal shooting of an Evanston resident will join his twin brother in the Illinois prison population," the Tribune reports.

"Dominic Connerly, 27, apologized to the family of the shooting victim before he was sentenced last week to 15 years in the Illinois Department of Corrections . . . Connerly's twin brother, Darien Connerly, is currently serving a 35-year sentence for the murder of cabdriver Leodis Blackburn in Evanston in 2011."

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What is Chicago's tech scene like? from r/chicago

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Activist Olga Bautista Illuminates South Chicago's History

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R. Kelly Has Been Dropped By His Publicist, Lawyer And Assistant. But Heed These Words From Local Music Journalist Nikki Roberts.

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TweetWood
A sampling.

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The Beachwood McRibTipLine: Graphically designed.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 1:10 PM | Permalink

Overhauling Illinois' Unconstitutional Prisons

Just days before the opening of trial in Lippert v. Baldwin - a case challenging the inadequate and dismal quality of health care provided in Illinois prisons - the parties reached an agreement to resolve the case. The agreement, which is embodied in a consent decree and must be approved by the court, is the latest development in a case first filed as an individual complaint in 2010.

As part of the decree, filed in court last week, the State of Illinois has agreed to a court-approved monitor who will oversee a complete overhaul of the system for providing physical health care to some 40,000 state prisoners.

The State and the monitor will create a staffing plan for health care professionals in Illinois' prisons, a plan that addresses the number of medical and dental professionals needed at these facilities, as well as an implementation plan for numerous other system-wide reforms.

The agreement contains specific, detailed professional qualifications for physicians and also calls for improvements to health care space and equipment, for new staff dedicated to oversight and infection control, for the implementation of an electronic medical record system, and for the development of a stringent quality assurance program, so that the system can identify and address problems in the delivery of health care before they cause problems for patients.

In the course of pursuing this lawsuit, two court-appointed experts (reporting four years apart) found serious and profound problems in the health care provided in Illinois' prisons.

The most recent report - made public just last month - blamed the poor system for preventable deaths inside Illinois facilities. According to the experts, of the 33 deaths examined, 12 were clearly preventable, another 7 may have been preventable and in 5 other instances the records were so poorly kept that the experts could not make a determination.

In response to last week's developments, the lawyers for the plaintiffs (all prisoners in Illinois state prisons) issued the following statements:

"We hope this is the beginning of the end of prisoners' needless suffering and even death. It is a long road, and we are committed to ensuring the necessary changes are made," said Alan Mills, executive director of the Uptown People's Law Center.

"Today's agreement is a victory for 40,000 men and women across Illinois who have suffered because of this inadequate health care system - some of whom have died. The State of Illinois will now be bound by a court-enforceable agreement with specific benchmarks and structure for measuring success. Most important, there will now be a monitor in place to oversee the entire function of the health care system in Illinois prisons. The monitor will be there to demand improvements and accountability - something that has been sorely lacking," said Camille Bennett, senior staff attorney at the ACLU of Illinois.

"It is significant that the State has agreed to very specific professional qualifications for the physicians hired to provide health care in the state's prisons. The expert reports of 2014 and 2018 both showed that many personnel lacked the professional credentials and experience necessary to offer effective medical care. The result was preventable deaths for several and unnecessary pain and suffering for too many. After ten years of litigation, this is the end of the beginning of change. We can only hope that real change will now start," added Harold Hirshman, lead trial counsel from Dentons US LLP.

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Previously:

* Mentally Ill Prisoners Win Injunction; Judge Declares IDOC's Failure To Provide Mental Health Care An "Emergency Situation."

* Judge: "Deliberate Indifference" Of IDOC Mental Health Care Requires Federal Oversight.

* Federal Judge To IDOC: Get Your Unconstitutional Shit Together.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:50 AM | Permalink

After Premiere Of Surviving R. Kelly Docuseries, Nearly 75,000 Renew Call For Sony And Live Nation To #MuteRKelly

With the recent premiere of the new Lifetime docuseries Surviving R. Kelly, revisiting past allegations of abuse and sexual misconduct, I wanted to re-flag this Care2 petition calling on Sony and Live Nation, as well a number of other entities still supporting his music, to drop R. Kelly for good. The Care2 petition has gathered nearly 75,000 signatures.

Oronike Odeleye and Kenyette Tisha Barnes, two activists and leaders in the movement to #MuteRKelly, started the Care2 petition and are featured in the Lifetime docuseries.

"R&B singer R. Kelly has preyed on teenage girls for the past 25 years. It's time our society stops his cycle of abuse. Sony and Live Nation need to #MuteRKelly, ensuring he doesn't profit while continuing to victimize women," the Care2 petition reads.

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Previously:

In reaction to R. Kelly's new song, the founders of the #MuteRKelly movement, Oronike Odeleye and Kenyette Barnes, issued the following statement:

"R. Kelly's latest song, 'I Admit,' is really a sex-trafficking fundraising anthem in which he appeals to his fans to not abandon him, blames black women for his downfall, and calls all his victims "hos" and "gold diggers." We will not be duped or manipulated by this desperate attempt to deflect and deny his well-documented history of sexually abusing underage black girls and young women - which dates back to the 1990s."

The #MuteRKelly Care2 petition is continuing its call for Sony Music, RCA Records, Ticketmaster, Spotify, Pandora, Apple Music, radio stations, and all other entities currently playing his music, hosting or promoting his events or doing business with R. Kelly to cut ties with him immediately.

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See also:

* Jezebel: 'He's The Puppet Master': Women Speak Out In New Surviving R. Kelly Trailer.

* New York Times: Surviving R. Kelly Documentary On Lifetime Details Sex Abuse Accusations.

* The Root: Only 2 Hours Into Surviving R. Kelly, The Conclusion Is Simple: Black Girls Deserve Better.

* The Root: Revelations From The 2nd Night Of Surviving R. Kelly.

* The Root: Complicit Police, Staged Rescues, And Other Revelations From The Final Night Of Surviving R. Kelly.

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Plus:

* NPR: R. Kelly's Ex-Wife Accuses Him Of Physical Abuse.

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Adding:

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:28 AM | Permalink

Veteran NBC Reporter Rips Pro-War Posture Of Corporate Media In Scathing Resignation Letter

In a biting resignation letter published in full by CNN, longtime NBC News reporter, commentator, and military analyst William "Bill" Arkin blasted the corporate media network for embracing U.S. "national security leaders and generals" while "ignoring the empirical truth of what they have wrought: There is not one country in the Middle East that is safer today than it was 18 years ago. Indeed the world becomes ever more polarized and dangerous."

Reflecting on his past couple of decades working with the network - in addition to writing books and columns for major newspapers and serving as as military adviser to human rights and environmental groups - Arkin laments, "My expertise, though seeming to be all the more central to the challenges and dangers we face, also seems to be less valued at the moment. And I find myself completely out of [sync] with the network, being neither a day-to-day reporter nor interested in the Trump circus."

Noting in his 2,228-word memo that "the world and the state of journalism [are] in tandem crisis," Arkin delivers a scathing critique of how NBC has responded to the foreign policy of Donald Trump - whom he calls "an ignorant and incompetent impostor" - asserting that "in many ways NBC just began emulating the national security state itself - busy and profitable. No wars won but the ball is kept in play."

However, Arkin also delivers a broader condemnation of the network's coverage of the so-called War on Terror in the nearly 18 years since 9/11, and how it has helped produce a scenario in which "perpetual war has become accepted as a given in our lives." He writes:

Seeking refuge in its political horse race roots, NBC (and others) meanwhile report the story of war as one of Rumsfeld vs. the Generals, as Wolfowitz vs. Shinseki, as the CIA vs. Cheney, as the bad torturers vs. the more refined, about numbers of troops and number of deaths, and even then Obama vs. the Congress, poor Obama who couldn't close Guantanamo or reduce nuclear weapons or stand up to Putin because it was just so difficult.

We have contributed to turning the world national security into this sort of political story. I find it disheartening that we do not report the failures of the generals and national security leaders. I find it shocking that we essentially condone continued American bumbling in the Middle East and now Africa through our ho-hum reporting.

Characterizing himself as a "difficult guy" who spent much of his time at NBC challenging conventional narratives about war and nuclear weapons and arguing against hawkish U.S. foreign policy both on- and off-air, Arkin suggests the state of television news has worsened in the Trump era. He writes, "In our day-to-day whirlwind and hostage status as prisoners of Donald Trump, I think - like everyone else does - that we miss so much."

Summarizing his disagreements with the pro-war positions commonly bolstered by the network under the Trump administration, Arkin continues:

For me I realized how out of step I was when I looked at Trump's various bumbling intuitions: his desire to improve relations with Russia, to denuclearize North Korea, to get out of the Middle East, to question why we are fighting in Africa, even in his attacks on the intelligence community and the FBI. Of course he is an ignorant and incompetent impostor. And yet I'm alarmed at how quick NBC is to mechanically argue the contrary, to be in favor of policies that just spell more conflict and more war. Really? We shouldn't get out Syria? We shouldn't go for the bold move of denuclearizing the Korean peninsula? Even on Russia, though we should be concerned about the brittleness of our democracy that it is so vulnerable to manipulation, do we really yearn for the Cold War? And don't even get me started with the FBI: What? We now lionize this historically destructive institution?

Despite noting that "my time at NBC has been gratifying," and thanking a few former colleagues by name, Arkin concludes, "I'm ever so happy to return to writing and thinking without the officiousness of editorial tyrants or corporate standards."

According to the memo, he is currently working on a novel about 9/11 and "a non-fiction book, an extended essay about national security and why we never seem to end our now perpetual state of war."

Here is the full text of Arkin's resignation letter, as reported by CNN and confirmed by NBC:

January 4 is my last day at NBC News and I'd like to say goodbye to my friends, hopefully not for good. This isn't the first time I've left NBC, but this time the parting is more bittersweet, the world and the state of journalism in tandem crisis. My expertise, though seeming to be all the more central to the challenges and dangers we face, also seems to be less valued at the moment. And I find myself completely out of [sync] with the network, being neither a day-to-day reporter nor interested in the Trump circus.

I first started my association with NBC 30 years ago, feeding Cold War stories to Bob Windrem and Fred Francis at the Pentagon. I became an on-air analyst during the 1999 Kosovo War, continuing to work thereafter with Nightly News, delighting and oftentimes annoying in my peculiar position of being a mere civilian amongst THE GENERALS and former government officials. A scholar at heart, I also found myself an often lone voice that was anti-nuclear and even anti-military, anti-military for me meaning opinionated but also highly knowledgeable, somewhat akin to a movie critic, loving my subject but also not shy about making judgements regarding the flops and the losers.

When the attacks of 9/11 came, I was called back to NBC. I spent weeks on and off the air talking about al-Qaeda and the various wars we were rushing into, arguing that airpower and drones would be the centerpiece not troops. In the new martial environment where only one war cry was sanctioned I was out of sync then as well. I retreated somewhat to writing a column for the Los Angeles Times, but even there I had to fight editors who couldn't believe that there would be a war in Iraq. And I spoke up about the absence of any sort of strategy for actually defeating terrorism, annoying the increasing gaggles of those who seemed to accept that a state of perpetual war was a necessity.

I thought then that there was great danger in the embrace of process and officialdom over values and public longing, and I wrote about the increasing power of the national security community. Long before Trump and "deep state" became an expression, I produced one ginormous investigation - Top Secret America - for the Washington Post and I wrote a nasty book, American Coup, about the creeping fascism of homeland security.

Looking back now they were both harbingers for what President Obama (and then Trump) faced in terms of largely failing to make enduring change.

Somewhere in all of that, and particularly as the social media wave began, it was clear that NBC (like the rest of the news media) could no longer keep up with the world. Added to that was the intellectual challenge of how to report our new kind of wars when there were no real fronts and no actual measures of success. To me there is also a larger problem: though they produce nothing that resembles actual safety and security, the national security leaders and generals we have are allowed to do their thing unmolested. Despite being at "war," no great wartime leaders or visionaries are emerging. There is not a soul in Washington who can say that they have won or stopped any conflict. And though there might be the beloved perfumed princes in the form of the Petraeus's and Wes Clarks, or the so-called warrior monks like Mattis and McMaster, we've had more than a generation of national security leaders who sadly and fraudulently have done little of consequence. And yet we (and others) embrace them, even the highly partisan formers who masquerade as "analysts." We do so ignoring the empirical truth of what they have wrought: There is not one country in the Middle East that is safer today than it was 18 years ago. Indeed the world becomes ever more polarized and dangerous.

As perpetual war has become accepted as a given in our lives, I'm proud to say that I've never deviated in my argument at NBC (or at my newspaper gigs) that terrorists will never be defeated until we better understand why they are driven to fighting. And I have maintained my central view that airpower (in its broadest sense including space and cyber) is not just the future but the enabler and the tool of war today.

Seeking refuge in its political horse race roots, NBC (and others) meanwhile report the story of war as one of Rumsfeld vs. the Generals, as Wolfowitz vs. Shinseki, as the CIA vs. Cheney, as the bad torturers vs. the more refined, about numbers of troops and number of deaths, and even then Obama vs. the Congress, poor Obama who couldn't close Guantanamo or reduce nuclear weapons or stand up to Putin because it was just so difficult. We have contributed to turning the world national security into this sort of political story. I find it disheartening that we do not report the failures of the generals and national security leaders. I find it shocking that we essentially condone continued American bumbling in the Middle East and now Africa through our ho-hum reporting.

I'm a difficult guy, not prone to either protocol or procedure and I give NBC credit that it tolerated me through my various incarnations. I hope people will say in the early days that I made Brokaw and company smarter about nuclear weapons, about airpower, and even about al-Qaeda. And I'm proud to say that I also was one of the few to report that there weren't any WMD in Iraq and remember fondly presenting that conclusion to an incredulous NBC editorial board. I argued endlessly with MSNBC about all things national security for years, doing the daily blah, blah, blah in Secaucus, but also poking at the conventional wisdom of everyone from Matthews to Hockenberry. And yet I feel like I've failed to convey this larger truth about the hopelessness of our way of doing things, especially disheartened to watch NBC and much of the rest of the news media somehow become a defender of Washington and the system.

Windrem again convinced me to return to NBC to join the new investigative unit in the early days of the 2016 presidential campaign. I thought that the mission was to break through the machine of perpetual war acceptance and conventional wisdom to challenge Hillary Clinton's hawkishness. It was also an interesting moment at NBC because everyone was looking over their shoulder at Vice and other upstarts creeping up on the mainstream. But then Trump got elected and Investigations got sucked into the tweeting vortex, increasingly lost in a directionless adrenaline rush, the national security and political version of leading the broadcast with every snowstorm. And I would assert that in many ways NBC just began emulating the national security state itself - busy and profitable. No wars won but the ball is kept in play.

I'd argue that under Trump, the national security establishment not only hasn't missed a beat but indeed has gained dangerous strength. Now it is ever more autonomous and practically impervious to criticism. I'd also argue, ever so gingerly, that NBC has become somewhat lost in its own verve, proxies of boring moderation and conventional wisdom, defender of the government against Trump, cheerleader for open and subtle threat mongering, in love with procedure and protocol over all else (including results). I accept that there's a lot to report here, but I'm more worried about how much we are missing. Hence my desire to take a step back and think why so little changes with regard to America's wars.

I know it is characteristic of our overexcited moment to blast away at former employers and mainstream institutions, but all I can say is that despite many frustrations, my time at NBC has been gratifying. Working with Cynthia McFadden has been the experience of a lifetime. I've learned a ton about television from her and Kevin Monahan, the secret insider tricks of the trade and the very big picture of what makes for original stories (and how powerful they can be). The young reporters at NBC are also universally excellent. Thanks to Noah Oppenheim for his support of my contrarian and disruptive presence. And to Janelle Rodriguez, who supported deep expertise. The Nightly crew has also been a constant fan of my too long stories and a great team. I continue to marvel as Phil Griffin carries out his diabolical plan for the cable network to take over the world.

I'm proud of the work I've done with my team and know that there's more to do. But for now it's time to take a break. I'm ever so happy to return to writing and thinking without the officiousness of editorial tyrants or corporate standards. And of course I yearn to go back to my first love, which is writing boring reports about secret programs, grateful that the American government so graciously obliges in its constant supply. And I particularly feel like the world is moving so quickly that even in just the little national security world I inhabit, I need more time to sit back and think. And to replenish.

In our day-to-day whirlwind and hostage status as prisoners of Donald Trump, I think - like everyone else does - that we miss so much. People who don't understand the medium, or the pressures, loudly opine that it's corporate control or even worse, that it's partisan. Sometimes I quip in response to friends on the outside (and to government sources) that if they mean by the word partisan that it is New Yorkers and Washingtonians against the rest of the country then they are right.

For me I realized how out of step I was when I looked at Trump's various bumbling intuitions: his desire to improve relations with Russia, to denuclearize North Korea, to get out of the Middle East, to question why we are fighting in Africa, even in his attacks on the intelligence community and the FBI. Of course he is an ignorant and incompetent impostor. And yet I'm alarmed at how quick NBC is to mechanically argue the contrary, to be in favor of policies that just spell more conflict and more war. Really? We shouldn't get out Syria? We shouldn't go for the bold move of denuclearizing the Korean peninsula? Even on Russia, though we should be concerned about the brittleness of our democracy that it is so vulnerable to manipulation, do we really yearn for the Cold War? And don't even get me started with the FBI: What? We now lionize this historically destructive institution?

Even without Trump, our biggest challenge as we move forward is that we have become exhausted parents of our infant (and infantile) social media children. And because of the "cycle," we at NBC (and all others in the field of journalism) suffer from a really bad case of not being able to ever take a breath. We are a long way from resolving the rules of the road in this age, whether it be with regard to our personal conduct or anything related to hard news. I also don't think that we are on a straight line towards digital nirvana, that is, that all of this information will democratize and improve society. I sense that there is already smartphone and social media fatigue creeping across the land, and my guess is that nothing we currently see - nothing that is snappy or chatty - will solve our horrific challenges of information overload or the role (and nature) of journalism. And I am sure that once Trump leaves center stage, society will have a gigantic media hangover. Thus for NBC - and for everyone else - there is challenge and opportunity ahead. I'd particularly like to think and write more about that.

There's a saying about consultants, that organizations hire them to hear exactly what they want to hear. I'm proud to say that NBC didn't do that when it came to me. Similarly I can say that I'm proud that I'm not guilty of giving my employers what they wanted. Still, the things this and most organizations fear most - variability, disturbance, difference; those things that are also the primary drivers of creativity - are not really the things that I see valued in the reporting ranks.

I'm happy to go back to writing and commentary. This winter, I'm proud to say that I've put the finishing touches on a 9/11 conspiracy novel that I've been toiling on for over a decade. It's a novel, but it meditates on the question of how to understand terrorists in a different way. And I'm undertaking two new book-writing projects, one fiction about a lone reporter and his magical source that hopes to delve into secrecy and the nature of television. And, if you read this far, I am writing a nonfiction book, an extended essay about national security and why we never seem to end our now perpetual state of war. There is lots of media critique out there, tons of analysis of leadership and the presidency. But on the state of our national security? Not so much. Hopefully I will find myself thinking beyond the current fire and fury and actually suggest a viable alternative. Wish me luck.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:28 AM | Permalink

January 7, 2019

SportsMonday: Gut-Punch

As the ball sailed toward the upright, I started to slide down in my chair. Then, for a moment, it seemed to stop tailing off to the left and I stopped sliding. Then the stupid football hit the upright.

Still, sometimes balls glance off the upright and still go through. This time the ball bounced straight down - still a chance! Then the ball hit the crossbar. Still alive! Then it became clear the ball was coming back into the field of play.

I jumped out of my seat and rushed toward a sometimes-irritating friend who had twice said in the minutes leading up to the kick, "Which upright do you think it will go off?" I didn't clench a first but I did raise my voice a bit as I asked, "Are you happy?" Then I slumped back into my seat.

It is a killer that Cody Parkey missed that kick but I'm not going to excoriate him here. He had a subpar year and probably would have been released midseason but for Ryan Pace having given him a ridiculous multi-year contract with almost $10 million guaranteed. But plenty of other things went wrong for this team in this game.

Clearly, it shouldn't have been this close. Virtually all of the Bears were inexperienced in the postseason and it showed, but they still should have won comfortably.

A number of folks are eligible for scapegoat status.

But first, let's remember that this still qualifies as a great season. It ended with a gut-punch of a loss but 12 wins, man! And the Bears were right there to possibly win in the final minutes of all five of the losses. This was an amazing run.

You might say it doesn't matter because the team gagged in the playoffs and lost to an inferior team. And there is something to be said for that point-of-view.

But there is more to be said for focusing on the regular season and focusing on the fact that all of the major players are relatively young and almost certain to return next year. The Bears will also almost certainly go into next season as at least a co-favorite to make the NFC Championship game.

Mitch Trubisky was clutch but he wasn't good enough overall. The Eagles defense is good but it was bad ridiculous the Bears only scored 15 points and it would have been only slightly less bad ridiculous if they had scored 18.

The second-year quarterback made undeniable progress this season, but he was also the luckiest quarterback I have ever seen in terms of opponents dropping potential interceptions all . . . season . . . long.

He's gotta clean that up. He's gotta get a lot better at going through progressions and making good passes from the pocket. He clearly missed injured tight end Trey Burton on Sunday but he still missed plenty of open recievers and he didn't get the ball to Tarik Cohen often enough.

We are still a long way from cursing the day that Ryan Pace botched another quarterback evaluation and made the bad ridiculous trade up to the second spot in the 2017 draft to take the guy who so far is the third-best quarterback in that draft. (Pat Mahomes is obviously better; Deshaun Watson is marginally better but it is close).

The Bears defense was not clutch and not good enough overall. They didn't generate nearly enough pressure on Nick Foles, didn't force enough turnovers and choked in the end. They missed nickelback Bryan Callahan, but come on.

A little later at my house after the game I turned to a friend's 15-year-old son, who is a true diehard, and said something like, "Just think, you have a whole life of Chicago sports suffering ahead of you."

But there is every reason to believe that next Bears season will contain a relatively tiny amount of that.

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Jim "Coach" Coffman welcomes your comments.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:22 PM | Permalink

The [Monday] Papers

1. 3 Failed Gambles Led To Timberwolves Firing Tom Thibodeau.

"As the Thibodeau era unfolded, though, his red flags and hang-ups won out over his bona fides. His arrival didn't transform the Timberwolves' poor defense, which ranked 27th and 26th, respectively, in his first two seasons. His all-gas, no-brakes approach to playing time led Towns and Wiggins to rank among the league's leaders in minutes, even as their play - particularly in fourth quarters - suggested signs of exhaustion. Perhaps most importantly, his role as head of basketball operations did not reveal a kinder, gentler side or a more wide-angle approach. Instead, the gruff coach emerged as a gruff executive, with little interest in making allies within the organization and no interest in overseeing a slow-and-steady construction project."

In other words, Thibodeau hasn't learned a thing. He has shown no growth. He is not NBA head coaching material - much less NBA executive material. He is who he is, full stop.

2. Aldermen, Mayoral Candidates Trip Over Themselves To Propose Ethic Reform.

"First came Ald. Joe Moore (49th), who traded his political independence for a committee chairmanship doled out by Mayor Rahm Emanuel . . . "

Check, please! We've seen all we need to see here today.

3. War And Politics: My Story With Speaker Madigan.

"I share this story because millions of dollars were spent during the last campaign cycle vilifying a man in a manner hitherto unheard of. I worked with and against that man on various legislative issues. I found him to be tough but fair. Our disagreements were never personal. Rather, they were restricted to the merits of the issue. And in my time of need, a time of war, that man, Speaker Michael J. Madigan, extended a hand because it was the right thing to do."

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I'm certainly (still) no fan of Michael Madigan, but I thought this story was worth sharing. (h/t: @dmihalopoulos)

4. State Flags North Shore Towns For Shortage Of Affordable Housing.

"Multiple towns along the North Shore are among 46 Illinois communities that have been informed they must submit affordable housing plans to the state by mid 2020 because less than 10 percent of their housing stock is considered affordable . . .

"Less than 5 percent of the housing stock was considered affordable in some towns along the North Shore, including Kenilworth, Glencoe, Winnetka, Northfield and Lake Bluff. The village of Northbrook registered at 5.7 percent and the village of Glenview at 7.3 percent."

5. I'm A Chicago Teacher Who Has Watched Many Javions Fall Through the Cracks. Here's What Would Help.

"As a Chicago Public School teacher and librarian for the past 15 years, I've seen many students fall through the cracks.

"I remember the young man who sat in my class at the beginning of his senior year, eager to learn. By the end he was failing, having missed over 30 days of school for reasons unknown to me. Or the sophomore girl who transferred out after displaying behavior and academic problems. I saw her years later on the Chicago Tribune's mugshot webpage.

"Both of these students came to mind when I read Adeshina Emmanuel's story about Javion Grayer, a 16-year-old Chicago student who reads at the second grade level . . . "

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New on the Beachwood today . . .

Parsing Parkey Pique
Just what are these emotions we're feeling?

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Late add . . .

SportsMonday: Gut-Punch
"As the ball sailed toward the upright, I started to slide down in my chair . . . "

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ChicagoReddit

Learning my manners on the L from r/chicago

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ChicagoGram

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ChicagoTube

Voa até Chicago com o Double Big Mac

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BeachBook
A sampling.

Midwest Utilities Made Big Renewable Energy Moves In 2018.

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The Strange, Sordid History Of The World's First Nude Female Statue.

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Digital Privacy Is A Big Concern In Europe. For This Reporter, Too.

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TweetWood
A sampling.

By the time Mueller is done, he's gonna tie all the world's scandals together in a Theory of Everything and we're gonna learn Trump's been at the center of all of 'em. Then, we drive a stake through his heart.

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*

*

*

*

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The Beachwood McRibTipLine: Glutton for punishment.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 1:41 PM | Permalink

Parsing Parkey Pique

Let's parse our emotions. I'm not mad at Cody Parkey. He tried his best. I might be mad at Ryan Pace for investing so much confidence in Parkey, but I only get mad at players who seem to be major assrockets, like, say, Jay Cutler. Or players who are lazy, don't care, spoiled.

In fact, I usually feel really bad for kickers who miss in situations like this. Can you imagine? On the other hand, they are paid millions of dollars to not only make kicks but absorb the psychological blow of missing kicks. That's part of the deal.

I'm not happy with Matt Nagy's playcalling, but I'm not mad at him. I only get mad at coaches who are major jackwagons like John Fox. The #Bears were outcoached on both sides of the ball Sunday, IMHO. It happens.

I'm not happy with fanboy media working so hard to make Mitch Trubisky out to be somebody he isn't, at least not yet, and fanboy media working so hard to make Ryan Pace into the genius he isn't, though he finally had a good year at his job.

And the rehabilitation of George McCaskey? Please. Sports media bray all day long about accountability, yet . . . it's very odd who they hold to account and who they don't (including themselves), and what a menace journesia is to the field.

It was a remarkably (and unexpectedly) fun season. The end came too soon, in heartbreaking fashion. For once, the fans can't wait for next season to start, and you can bet that locker room feels that way times a thousand. Now they have an urgent mission for next season.

(Also, the ball was tipped. I still haven't seen whether *that* was what made it go awry, but sometimes the other team makes a better play. Sports.)

Finally, don't get me wrong: This sucks! What I'm really mad at is that the ride is over - and that it ended that way. I'm not even really a Bears "fan." So I am mad, or angry, or frustrated, or disappointed, or all of those things, but not at Cody Parkey. I'm mad it's over.

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Okay, this line of reasoning doesn't make sense to me. Cody Parkey isn't paid to make every kick, and opposing special teams players are paid to block kicks. This is like saying that Mitch Trubisky is paid to make passes. He missed a lot of passes this year, though!

*

I would say "even" a professional athlete, not "much less" a professional athlete, as if they should get some special regard. But yes, the question is whether Parkey is good enough for a playoff team to employ. On the other hand, that question should be directed at Ryan Pace - Parkey was a problem all year.

Also, again, should we be "attacking" the Bear who allowed the Eagle to tip the kick?

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Sometimes the other guy makes a better play?

*

Is part of Parkey's job to get the kick high enough at liftoff to avoid a tip or block? Did an offensive lineman fail in his assignment? Should we somehow blame special teams coach Chris Tabor, whose case our very own Jim "Coach" Coffman has been on all season? Is this a story more of a hero (theirs) than a goat (ours)?

(Maybe all of those - except that Parkey made a habit of hitting uprights all season . . . )

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How media narratives work:

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Unlike our elected officeholders and other public figures . . .

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UPDATE:

Does this change the narrative?

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:18 PM | Permalink

January 4, 2019

The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour #233: Bear Raid

Legion of Boom. Plus: The NFL Season In Review & Playoffs In Preview; Managers-In-Waiting; White Sox Sweepstakes; Bulls(hit) On Parade; and Blackhawks Actually Irrelevant.


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SHOW NOTES

* 233.

* The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour #232.

* No rest for the playoff wicked.

9:24: Magic Matt.

* Sports Illustrated: How The Bears Became Fun Again, One Knock At A Time.

* Army Leading The Charge In Football's 'Never Kick' Movement.

15:25: NFL Season Review.

* AFC East: The Patriots, Sam Darnold, Josh Allen, Miami's heat, and the Ghost of Jay Cutler.

* AFC West: The Chiefs, the Chargers, Phony Philip Rivers, Anthony Lynn, living and dying in LA, and those poor San Diegans.

* AFC North: Lamar Jackson, Mike Tomlin, Baker's Browns, and Marvin Lewis.

* AFC South: The Texans, the Colts, Illinois' Whitney Mercilus, and a lot of defense.

* NFC East: The Cowboys, home-field advantage, and Mitch Trubisky's intermediate passing game.

* NFC West: The Rams, the Seahawks, and Russell Wilson's sex life.

* NFC South: The Saints, Cam Newton, Matt Ryan, Jameis Winston, Ryan Fitzmagic's beard, and the Lovie-less Buccaneers

* NFC North: The Vikings, the Packers, Matt Patricia, Matthew Stafford, and of course the Bears.

51:40: NFL Playoff Preview.

* Andrew Luck vs. Deshaun Watson.

* Pete Carroll vs. America's Team.

* Offense vs. Defense.

* Matt Nagy vs. Doug Pederson.

56:39: Legion Of Boom.

1:07:08: Manager(s)-In-Waiting?

* Mark Loretta vs. Mark DeRosa vs. David Ross.

* Tewks!

* The question-marky Cubs.

1:09:04: White Sox Sweepstakes.

* Harper and Machado!

1:11:45: Bulls(hit) On Parade.

* "Everything they're doing is wrong."

1:15:35: Blackhawks Actually Irrelevant.

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STOPPAGE: 17:55

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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 2:50 PM | Permalink

January 2, 2019

After Netflix Pulls Episode At Saudi Request, Comic Hasan Minhaj Urges Donations For Suffering Yemen

Taking advantage of the attention brought to his Netflix series Patriot Act by the Saudi government's objection to an episode that criticized Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, comedian Hasan Minhaj called on supporters to contribute to aid efforts in Yemen, where tens of thousands of civilians have been killed by the Saudi's U.S.-backed military campaign.

On Tuesday, on Saudi orders, Netflix removed from its Saudi platform a Patriot Act episode released shortly after the killing of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi by Saudi agents - which the CIA concluded was ordered by bin Salman, often called MbS - because Minhaj discussed the need for the U.S. to cut ties with the Saudis in light of the murder. However, the episode remained on YouTube in the country and is still available on Netflix outside Saudi Arabia:

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Minhaj mocked the Saudis for drawing attention to content they claimed was harmful to their government, while asking his fans to donate to the International Rescue Committee's efforts to fight famine and disease in Yemen:

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In the episode, Minhaj slammed bin Salman and the Saudi government for continuing to deny that they had orchestrated Khashoggi's murder even after the CIA conducted an exhaustive investigation and came to its conclusion - which was quickly dismissed by President Donald Trump, who said he would not cut ties with the Saudis.

"MbS asked, 'Why the outrage?' and frankly, MbS's confusion is completely understandable," Minhaj said. "He has been getting away with autocratic shit like [Khashoggi's killing] for years with almost no blowback from the international community."

Contrary to praise that's been heaped on the young prince by elite members of the international community who have called him a "reformer" and a "modernizer," Minhaj criticized MbS directly in the episode, saying, "The only thing he's modernizing is Saudi dictatorship."

The episode, communications officials told Netflix, violated the country's anti-cybercrime law, banning online material that the government deems threatening to "public order, religious values, public morals, and privacy." Netflix called the order to pull the content a "valid legal request."

The move was condemned not only by Minhaj, but human rights and free speech advocacy groups as well.

"Saudi Arabia's censorship of Netflix using a cybercrime law comes as no surprise, and is further proof of a relentless crackdown on freedom of expression in the Kingdom," said Samah Hadid, campaigns director for Amnesty International in the Middle East. "By bowing to the Saudi Arabian authorities' demands, Netflix is in danger of facilitating the Kingdom's zero-tolerance policy on freedom of expression and assisting the authorities in denying people's right to freely access information."

"Banning a comedy act that brings valid criticism of a government is a counterproductive measure and an affront to the freedom of expression that all citizens deserve," said Jillian C. York of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a free speech and digital rights group.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:06 PM | Permalink

MUSIC - Old Town Teachers Unionize.
TV - NBC Reporter's Kiss-Off.
POLITICS - IL Could Recover $1.3B In Corporate Tax Loopholes.
SPORTS - Beachwood Sports Radio: Bears, Cubs Hangovers.

BOOKS - Myopic 2000.

PEOPLE PLACES & THINGS - Mailbox Fishing.


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