Saturday, February 17, 2018

Is anyone really shocked the jail inmates cheered for the cop killer?

I really have a hard time believing that Cook County sheriff’s police officials could be shocked that jail inmates awaiting their day in court on Thursday would cheer for the guy who’s facing criminal charges for the shooting death earlier this week of Chicago Police Cmdr. Paul Bauer.
Defendant? Or anti-hero?
If anything, I’d be shocked to learn they had been respectful of their jailers, or the legal system that I’m sure many of them believe is railroading them into a few years’ residence within the state prison system.

NEWS ACCOUNTS FROM both of the major metro newspapers (Sun-Times, Tribune) indicate the sheriff, who runs the county jail and criminal courts complex, wants to identify the disrespectful inmates.

With their names to be turned over to the assistant state’s attorneys who are prosecuting their pending criminal cases. Their hope is that someday, those disrespectful inmates will have extra time added to their punishments because of their behavior this week.

While several of the inmates awaiting trial in Cook County may wind up finding themselves transferred to county jails elsewhere. They may wind up awaiting trial in some rural county jail where their legal proceedings will be far more complicated to carry out.

But a little bit of inconvenience is being deemed as warranted for acting as though Shomari Legghette were some sort of hero because of the half-dozen gunshots he fired when Bauer tried to catch him Wednesday at the Thompson Center state government building.

THE NEWSPAPERS ARE going along with this tone – the county sheriff provided video taken of a holding cell so we can see, and hear, crude images of the cheering inmates as Legghette is brought past their cell en route to the courtroom – where a judge decided that Legghette should await trial inside the jail without the option of bond.

Now I’m not saying I think these inmates were anything but buffoons in the way they behaved, or that Bauer (who will get the full-ritual police funeral on Saturday) is deserving of disrespect.

It’s just that I wouldn’t expect anything but tacky behavior from jail inmates.

No matter what legal basis there is for saying these men (including Legghette) are innocent until proven guilty, the fact is that many of them are misfits from the standard beliefs of our society.

WHICH IS WHAT led most of them to actions that would bring them under suspicion by police and prosecutors and cause them to have criminal charges pending against them.

Besides, there’s something about incarceration that would break the spirit of just about anybody – surround yourself with enough misfits, and you’ll find yourself starting to take on their ideals.

I remember one time I was inside the Stateville Correctional Center near Joliet (as a reporter-type person). As the group I was with was passing the roundhouses, we could hear the inmates taunting us – letting us know they regarded us as being as much a part of the problem as anybody else.

It was execution duty (back in the days when Illinois still committed homicide in the name of justice), and the inmates let me and others know we would “burn in Hell” as much as anyone else for being a part of the ritual.

I ALSO RECALL crude and vulgar threats shouted specifically at the prison staffers – letting them know how they would be “f---ed up” by the inmates if they ever wound up inside the prison proper.

With that kind of mentality, it wouldn’t shock me in the least to learn that some of the county jail inmates (some of whom are bound to wind up in the Illinois Corrections Department eventually) would think cheers and applause would be worthy of a man charged with the shooting death of a cop.
Could he be Cook County sheriff?

So to learn that aides to Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart are saying the inmate behavior is “disgraceful and despicable, just beyond the pale” has a familiar ring to it.

Something similar to that of Capt. Renault from “Casablanca,” when he uttered his now-memorable line about being “shocked, shocked to learn that gambling is taking place on the premises” of Rick’s Café. Both of them are worthy of an equally insincere sigh.


Friday, February 16, 2018

Kennedy wants racial/ethnic vote to turn Dem gubernatorial primary into a two-way campaign w/ Pritzker

Some may dismiss one-time Illinois Senate President Emil Jones as “crass,” but Democratic gubernatorial candidate Chris Kennedy is banking that he can turn the March 20 primary into a one-on-one fight with J.B. Pritzker – the man who has support from much of the Democratic establishment of Illinois.
KENNEDY: Can non-Anglo vote make him a winner?
For Kennedy, whom some polls indicate has been caught by third candidate Daniel Biss, is the guy using radio spots featuring the gravelly voice of Jones to appeal to the African-American portion of the electorate.

PRITZKER HAS BEEN ahead in various polls, indicating his self-provided millions have been effective in getting his name recognition out there. But he’s also made his share of gaffes indicating he may have offended potential black voters.

Which has Kennedy going in for the kill.

He’s hoping that becoming the gubernatorial candidate of choice for black people will put him back in the running against Pritzker. Because it could make Biss’ attempt to appeal to a certain segment of white people insufficient to win overall.

For what it’s worth, Jones uses his minute of time in the radio spot to remind an older generation of African-Americans just who Kennedy’s father (Bobby) and uncle (Jack) were.
JONES: Obama mentor boost Kennedy?
THE MAN WE recently learned was belittled by Pritzker (in private conversations a decade ago with then-Gov. Rod Blagojevich) tells us how the Kennedys, “fought and struggled and sacrificed alongside Dr. (Martin Luther) King (Jr.) in the civil rights movement,” and also tells us that Chris would continue on in “the Kennedy way.”

Indicating that Kennedy is banking on the black vote to turn out in strong enough force to enable him to overcome those polls of late that say Biss has actually overcome Kennedy to be the serious challenger to Pritzker.

Actually, what the polls say is that there remains a strong-enough share of people who are undecided in the Democratic primary, with Pritzker, Biss and Kennedy all following behind.
PRITZKER: Still leading, but can he hold it?
This primary may be just a month in the future, but it is far from settled.

PERHAPS THE KENNEDY campaign is influenced by that PPP poll (conducted for Our Revolution Illinois/Chicago) that shows amongst potential black voters, Kennedy is not only second behind Pritzker (38 percent to 31 percent), Biss is virtually irrelevant (7 percent).

And when it comes to the Latino vote, Kennedy is actually the leader (31 percent to 28 percent), with Biss only at 14 percent.

Perhaps it is the spirit of the Viva Kennedy clubs of old that enabled Chris’ uncle, Jack, to win the 1960 presidential bid, but it may well be a combination of the Latino and black vote that keeps the Kennedy gubernatorial dreams alive.

And ensures that the suburban white segment of the Democratic primary electorate that actually takes Biss seriously never grows into a larger coalition that could actually win the March 20 primary.

IT MAKES ME wonder if this campaign advertising spot (which is airing on the Chicago radio stations appealing to African-American listeners) is going to be the first of many the Kennedy campaign will issue.
Can Chris resurrect JFK's 'Viva Kennedy' spirit?
Will we see every ethnic and racial name dredged up to make endorsements in hopes they will sway more non-Anglo voters to turn out for the primary election – hoping they will be the kind of voters who will not easily be swayed by the millions of dollars that Pritzker could put into his own campaign for governor.

Which, to be honest, seems to be the primary factor that wins over the support of his political backers. They like the idea of someone who won’t be constantly hitting them up for more money in order to pay for his campaign.

Although it should be noted that with the dozens of millions of dollars that Gov. Bruce Rauner has committed to campaigns for himself and for allies in the General Assembly, even Pritzker will be grossly outspent in a campaign battle for the Nov. 6 general election.


Thursday, February 15, 2018

EXTRA: Sox/WGN not radical change

Still the voices, for better or worse ...
For those of you still having fits over this week’s announcement that the Chicago White Sox are shifting their radio broadcasts (for the next three seasons) to WGN-AM, relax.

Yes, that station once spreading the Tribune Co.’s image throughout the nation’s airwaves did develop an unnatural closeness to the Chicago Cubs – helping to bolster their image as a cutesy batch of losers.
... of White Sox baseball

BUT THE REALITY is that in sports broadcasting, it’s really the ball clubs that are in charge. It’s still going to be the voices and personas of one-time White Sox ballplayers Ed Farmer and Darrin Jackson who will be doing the games. It’s still former ballplayers whom the White Sox think are best employed in the broadcast booth, and not on the field as a manager or coach!

Besides, WGN has the history of Chicago in its background – even that part of the history that occurred around 35th Street and Shields Avenue.

It was long-time Cubs announcer Jack Brickhouse who actually was the voice we find on the recordings of that September 1959 night when the White Sox actually won the pennant (not that he’s to blame for the city officials who celebrated by sounding Chicago’s air raid alarm system).
Comiskey Park on Brickhouse statue

Maybe it should also be noted that the only time the legendary Chicago broadcaster got to do a World Series was that very same ’59 Go-Go Sox ball club that, sadly enough, lost in six games to the Los Angeles Dodgers.

GOING ALONG WITH the tradition of the times, the World Series paired up the lead broadcasters for both ball clubs – creating a Vin Scully/Jack Brickhouse team that many baseball-minded people would regard as a broadcast fantasy pairing; both recipients of the Baseball Hall of Fame's Frick Award for broadcasters.

Besides, the Cubs have been off WGN radio for a few years now. The tie was already broken.
Nobody liked this image

It’s not like the ghost of Ron Santo is going to return from the Great Beyond to become the Voice of the White Sox, just as he spent the final years of his life adding to the image of Chicago Cubdom by being their radio voice.

Now as someone old enough to remember the sight of an aging Santo trying to play infield for the White Sox, that truly would be a dreadful thought. But it’s going to be the same sounds of Sox baseball – only at a different spot on the radio dial.


Rauner remembrance of tragedy – an effort to divert public’s attention?

Reading Gov. Bruce Rauner’s formal address to present a state budget for Fiscal 2019, I couldn’t help but notice his opening bit.

RAUNER: Trying to redeem his pol priorities?
The reference to it being exactly 10 years since the day a former Northern Illinois University student felt compelled to fire off his weapon – killing five students before he turned his gun on himself.

THE NEWS EVENTS of the day even called for a last-minute rewrite, also offering a mention of the death Tuesday of Chicago Police Cmdr. Paul Bauer – the officer who tried to stop a fleeing suspect being chased by other police, only to get shot and killed.

Both tragic happenings. In the case of the DeKalb slayings a decade ago, I’m sure the memories remain as strong now in the minds of those who were there as they were back then.

But a part of me couldn’t help but wonder how much this bit of rhetoric was an attempt at misdirection.

Rather than get worked up over the details of the budget proposal Rauner wants the General Assembly to approve for Illinois government for the fiscal year beginning July 1, he’d rather we think of these other happenings.

BECAUSE IF WE think too much of budgetary matters, then we wind up touching on some sore spots of the Rauner era of state government.

Let’s not forget that Rauner, although in his third year of government, has never managed to get a budget proposal of his implemented into law. Heck, he’s never offered up anything that wound up becoming policy.

The only reason we have a budget in place now is because Democratic legislators were joined by a few Republicans willing to put the daily workings of government at the forefront to pass a budget that Rauner himself tried to use his veto powers to kill off!

Because Rauner is the guy who came into the governor’s post thinking he could strong-arm the rest of state government into going along with his vision – one in which organized labor and unions take a severe blow to their influence over Illinois.

THAT CONCEPT WAS more important for the past two years to Rauner than anything concerning the daily operations of the state, which does have responsibilities to fulfill – regardless of one’s ideological hang-ups.

The question we ought to be asking ourselves is whether Rauner is willing to get serious and try to put together budget proposals this year – or if we’re headed for another budgetary standoff.

The last of which stretched out over two years, caused serious complications for daily government operations and created financial problems that will take Illinois years (if not decades) to resolve.

You’d think that Rauner, facing a re-election cycle complicated by the fact that the conservative ideologues the governor is counting on to support him have their own partisan objections (being anti-union isn’t conservative enough for them), would want a straight-forward budget process. Something to ensure that he signs into law the Fiscal ’19 budget on or before June 30.

BECAUSE THE $37.6 billion spending plan for state government the governor put forth includes some serious changes to the way retired teacher pensions are funded – mostly by sticking them on the school districts.

Something I’m sure will tick off the Chicago Public Schools, where officials would actually like to have the state assume a larger share of those pension costs. Is the governor’s budget address merely another excuse to set up a political brawl with Chicago interests later this year?

Some reports made mention of the fact that Wednesday’s budget address, in addition to being 10 years since the bloodshed at DeKalb, was 225 days from the end of the budget standoff.

Will it also become the beginning of a political sequel – one in which Rauner will try to redeem his political self-image at the expense of the people of Illinois. Elections day are March 20 and Nov. 6; those dates can’t come soon enough.


Wednesday, February 14, 2018

How far some fall -- from the ballpark to the court. Or silly costumes for some

Baseball pitchers and catchers for many ball clubs, including the Chicago White Sox, arrive for spring training camp Wednesday to begin preparations for another season of play, and I’m sure many former ballplayers have fond reminisces about those days in Arizona or Florida.

LOAIZA: Scheduled for court on Wed.
Although reading the news reports of late have me wondering what’s running through the mind of Esteban Loaiza – remember him?

HE’S THE BASEBALL pitcher who had a peak during his 2003-04 stint with the White Sox, when he and Mark Buehrle were the ball club’s most reliable starting pitchers.

He was the starting pitcher for the American League all star team in 2003, when the game was played at the then-named U.S. Cellular Field – the last time the All Star Game was played in Chicago.

Loiaza also wound up finishing that season with a record of 21 wins and 9 losses. The win tally matched the number of victories that Fernando Valenzuela had for the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1986, and gives the two of them the most victories ever in a single season for a Mexican-born ballplayer.

The Tijuana native was on top of the world back in those days when he was with the Sout’ Side ball club – just as Sammy Sosa was once a beloved celeb back in the late 1990s when he was hitting all those home runs for the Chicago Cubs.

SOSA: Silly, but not serious
YET JUST AS Sosa is now a comical figure whose latest antics include that photograph of himself and wife Sonia in their cowboy-like outfits, Loaiza has taken a plunge for the worse.

In fact, Loaiza is now far lower than anything Sosa is ever alleged to have done.

For Loiaza is the former ballplayer who got himself arrested last week and now faces criminal charges related to narcotics. Police in Imperial Beach, Calif., (near San Diego) found large-enough quantities of controlled substances in his rented home that he’s being regarded as some sort of low-level drug dealer.

That’s a label he may never be able to shake – even if he eventually is acquitted of the criminal charges or has them dismissed.

HOYT: Fallen even further
LOAIZA SUPPOSEDLY HAD drugs valued at $500,000 in his possession – although one needs to keep in mind that those dollar figures police toss out with regards to drug busts usually have their own sense of exaggeration.

They’re nowhere near as precise as the baseball stats we have that tell us of Loiaza’s 2.90 earned run average or his American League-leading 207 strikeouts back in that season of 2003 – which is tainted largely because the White Sox wound up collapsing that year in September and finished as a mere second place ball club.

Which means that Loaiza, who currently is being detained in lieu of $200,000 bond, is one whom I’m sure would rather be at a ballpark, rather than in a courtroom and jail cell combo.

It will be interesting to see how White Sox fans will acknowledge Loaiza’s existence as a ballplayer, and if it will turn out to be similar to that of LaMarr Hoyt – the 1983 Cy Young Award winner (best pitcher) whose own life became mucked up with several drug-related arrests. Hoyt is almost an un-person to the fans old enough to remember him.

WILL LOAIZA BECOME something similar?

BARRIOS: The ultimate fate
Although I have to admit that learning of Loaiza’s situation reminded me of another former White Sox pitcher. As in Francisco Barrios, who pitched for some crummy Sox teams of the late 1970s and was released at the end of 1981. Within a year, the one-time Mexican League ballplayer and native of Hermosillo was dead from cocaine use.

I still remember being at Comiskey Park for a ballgame when a “moment of silence” was held for Barrios. A sad end to another former ballplayer.

And will mean that at least a little attention will be paid to a Southern California courtroom where Loiaza has an appearance scheduled for Wednesday, while his former fans will be trying to see what’s happening at the Camelback Ranch training camp the White Sox have in suburban Phoenix to determine if there’s any hope for 2018 and the near future.


Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Madigan has investigation into sexual harassment by clout-heavy aide

I remember once someone telling me what was supposed to be the biggest of secrets into how politics really worked – the reason that Michael Madigan had managed to last so long (now nearly a half-century) as a public official is that he never resisted efforts to investigate himself.

MADIGAN: A sexual harassment firing
The way it was put to me is that any time federal investigators approached Madigan for information, he was always forthcoming with precisely whatever data was sought.

HE WASN’T SOMEONE likely to get caught up in some stupid technicality. In fact, I have heard of many of the political people who have been indicted throughout the years who, supposedly, got caught because Madigan’s staff essentially turned them in.

Meaning Madigan would snitch out anybody if it meant detracting investigatory attention from himself.

Admittedly, the person who told me this was trying to put as negative spin as possible on this – as though Madigan were the moral-less one who was selling out everybody else for his self-preservation.

Or could it be that the long-time Illinois House speaker (a legislator since 1971 and holder of the top leadership post for all but two years since 1983) has that bit of honesty in him that he’s not going to make the mistake of covering up for other officials just because they have that “D” following their names that indicates their Democratic Party leanings.

THIS POPPED INTO my mind when I read the statement Madigan had issued in his name about the dismissal of Kevin Quinn, an aide to the speaker in various roles for nearly two decades.

What also should have made Quinn safe is that he is the brother of Marty Quinn – as in the 13rd Ward alderman (Madigan’s home ward) who has his City Council post largely because of Madigan’s influence.

Yet when Madigan was made aware of complaints by women regarding Kevin Quinn’s behavior to them, the speaker brought in an attorney to investigate.

QUINN: Not enough clout to keep brother employed
That attorney, Madigan said, “recently came to the conclusion that the individual engaged in inappropriate conduct and failed to exercise the professional judgment I expect of those affiliated with my political organizations and the office of the Speaker.”

NOW I’M SURE the political cynics are going to complain that Madigan is only behaving in such a way because of the outburst of complaints we have heard in recent months concerning sexual harassment.

I’m sure they’re going to see this as Madigan selling out one aide so as to protect the overall structure.

But I can’t help but see it as a step in the right direction. Because a large part of the reason why the “old boy’s network” attitude that treats many female officials as potential playthings is because of the perception that the people in charge aren’t going to do anything about it.

This may be a sign that someone will do something about it, although the real acts of significance in Madigan’s statement are his claims that his attorneys have made recommendations for preventing inappropriate behavior and improving methods of reporting such allegations.

WE’LL HAVE TO see what becomes of this. If it results in future action, or just a whole lot of talk about nothing.

Could it be that part of the Madigan legacy (aside from being the longest-serving House speaker from any state) will be that he addressed the sexist culture that some would definitely like to have kept in the 19th Century – rather than advancing to the 21st?

DALEY: Had his own morals rules
Or is this just a moralist quirk that allows things to remain the same, similar to the old Mayor Richard J. Daley who supposedly was willing to turn a blind eye to all types of corruption EXCEPT that of government officials engaged in adulterous behavior.

Which would almost be proof of that old cliche, the more things change, the more they stay the same.


Monday, February 12, 2018

Would Trump military parade merely honor the REMFs of the world?

I find it somewhat odd that President Donald J. Trump would be taking inspiration from France and Bastille Day for a way to put on a great big spectacle ultimately paying tribute to himself.
This is what inspired Donald Trump to think of a military parade in the streets of D.C.
For the storming of the Bastille, which led to the ultimate overthrow of King Louis XVI, was literally a moment when the peasants of France overthrew their wealthy royal nobleman of a leader who actually supported the concept of American independence – someone who along with Marie Antoinette were most definitely not of the people.

YOU’D THINK THAT even Trump would realize that he’s the comparative figure to Louis (with first lady Melania being the equivalent of the alleged “cake eating” lady). The comparable move would be if the masses of this country (the majority of whom didn’t vote for him) were to get fed up enough to violently overthrow him.

Is that really the image Trump wants to put in the public mindset? Besides, I thought the Trump-types were the ones who openly denounced anything associated with France?

Somebody’s not thinking this all the way through. But as Trump himself said, he saw the big Bastille Day parade last year in France, saw the grand martial display of power and authority, and wishes he could have something similar to pay tribute to himself.
How Trumpian is the image of old ...

Which has led to countless numbers of people using their Photoshop software to create all kinds of goofy images portraying Trump as some sort of equivalent of the late Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet.

WHICH WOULD BE the closest you’d find to photographic images of Trump in a military uniform – for as so many have pointed out, he was of military age during the Vietnam War era, yet managed to avoid doing any sort of military service.

Heck, even George W. Bush could claim to have been in the Texas Air National Guard (although some insist he didn’t even fulfill the minimum service requirements) back in that era.

Not that I expect the ideologues who claim to value military service to mind so much – maybe they can be bought off by the image of a military parade. Forget about a Trump presidency actually accomplishing anything significant or meeting any of its promises.
... of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette?

You got a great big garish parade!!!

IF YOU’VE GOT the impression by now that I don’t think much of the idea of a parade, you’d be correct.

It’s actually mostly because I don’t really care much for parades in general. There are more sincere ways to pay tribute to someone than to stage a grand spectacle clogging the streets of the city, while expecting the masses to stand passively by.

I think those who serve in the military deserve more than a parade whose real purpose would be to pay tribute to the man with the bad combover whom many (including my sister-in-law, Vicki) refer to as the “big cheetoh.”

Perhaps it’s because I remember the two big military spectacles in Chicago during my adult life – back in 1986 and 1991. The latter was a series of parades held across the country to pay tribute to those who were in the military (including a cousin of mine) during the Gulf War of 1990.
Is this Trump's image of himself?

REMEMBER WHEN WE were foolish enough to have thought we resolved all the disarray and chaos of the Middle East in a matter of two months in Kuwait?

The former was when some types of people felt the need to finally put an end to the Vietnam era by staging parades welcoming back the troops who were so callously ignored when they really returned home more than a decade earlier.

I still remember watching that parade, and being told by veterans who actually saw combat that the crowds of former soldiers on display here were most likely the “REMFs” who never even came close to the front lines of fighting (figure out the obscenity for yourself). Is that what we’re most likely to see from a military spectacle in this Age of Trump?
DUCKWORTH: Most accurate?

If that’s the case, then perhaps Sen. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., is correct with her latest fund-raising e-mail, in which she says troops, “don’t need a show of bravado. They need steady leadership. They need long term funding.” And if they don’t get it, perhaps someday the masses will be offended enough to revolt in a Bastille-style image against Trump Tower buildings around the country. That would be gory.