American Crow

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The Zeros Never Lie

In Chicago Sports, Notre Dame on December 19, 2009 at 8:40 pm
Was the lecture on Mammon not in the curriculum?

Notre Dame continues to amaze with their altruistic vision of money grubbing fraud.  Seriously, if Notre Dame was my secret santa, they would gift wrap a piece of dog poo, attempt to convince me that the gift is actually something other than dog poo, then claim offense for any suggestion that they would ever gift wrap dog poo.

In my opinion, college universities with major football and basketball programs have clouded the line between themselves and their professional brethren.  The money made by the 6 major equity conferences (Atlantic Coast/ACC, Big East, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-10 and Southeastern/SEC) and the independent Notre Dame have tainted college sports into basically creating an alternative professional sports league.

The worst offender is the University of Notre Dame.  The Catholic university with the motto “Life, Sweetness, and Hope” should add greed, arrogance, and being disingenuous.  The football team has an exclusive contract with NBC for an estimated $9 million per year through 2015.  Back in 2005, Notre Dame signed a 10 year / $60 million apparel contract with Adidas.  It has a $5.5 billion endowment, but still rose tuition 4.4% during a recession.  It now costs an undergraduate student $48,845 (including room and board) to attend Notre Dame, and that doesn’t include the additional $230 to attend the 8 home games.

I feel the university has really gone downhill since the George O’Leary debacle of 2001, where Notre Dame hired the Georgia Tech coach without fully checking his inaccurate resume, which included falsifying his academic credentials and attending a non-existent school.  Subsequently, they hire Tyrone Willingham, whose firing 3 years later represented the first time in school history that a coach was fired before their initial contract expired.  Next was Charlie Weis.  After posting a 5-2 record in his first half of his first year, Notre Dame officials extended his contract to 10-years, which was to be worth a reported $30–40 million through 2015.  The extension was a horrible deal as Weis was fired this year.  No wonder tuition is going up, they have to pay Charlie Weis for the next 6 years to do nothing.

Obviously, the Willingham and Weis hires were bad calls.  Oddly enough, both Willingham and Weis had books written about them touting a “return/rise to glory.”:

I was surprised to find these listed under non-fiction.  I guess these books are slightly less presumptuous than the Tribune book “This is The Year” touting the Cubs 2008 season just before losing to the Dodgers in the playoffs.  Seriously, we need a special place in the Dewey Decimal System for books that jump the gun, which would be right next to books on Global Warming.

Athletic Director Jack Swarbrick hired Cincinnati head coach Brian Kelly to be the next head football coach at Notre Dame.  Kelly just won the Big East conference with an undefeated Cincinnati Bearcats squad (which in another example of NCAA fraud will not be given an opportunity to play for a national championship) and whose team will play in the Sugar Bowl against Florida on January 1st.  Notre Dame’s ego was on full display as they hired Kelly on December 11th thereby preventing him from coaching his undefeated squad in their bowl game.  Hey ND, way to think about Cincinnati’s students.  Even the NFL prevents interviews for any coaches or assistant coaches with teams still in the playoffs.  But then again, this is Notre Dame, who unapologetically writes their own rules.  Couldn’t Notre Dame have waited one month before beginning their coaching search?  Couldn’t they come to a verbal agreement and announce the hiring after the bowl game?  Couldn’t the NCAA write a rule preventing interviews between the regular and bowl season?  This situation is completely set up to the advantage of the money makers, in this example the university and coaches.

Did Kelly express remorse?

“Transition is very difficult…Those situations are extremely emotional. I handled myself in a way that was up front and honest. I’m forever grateful for the players at the University of Cincinnati, for what they gave me. They gave me this opportunity at Notre Dame.”

What a jackass.  Transition is difficult…but not difficult enough when you get millions.  Glad you feel you were up front and honest even though your old players don’t agree.  Way to pat yourself on the back.  You get to go off and make millions.  Players have to commit to the university, get paid nothing, and have no head coach for their bowl game.

For a more realistic perspective, ask Cincinnati receiver Mardy Gilyard how he feels:

“I heard everything I needed to know: ‘I accepted the Notre Dame job.’  He went for the money. I’m fairly disgusted with the situation, that they let it last this long.  I don’t like it…I feel there was a little lying in the thing. I feel like he’d known this the whole time. Everybody knows Notre Dame’s got the money. I kind of had a gut feeling he was going to stay just because he told me he was going to be here…Just blindsided by the fact that it’s a business.  People lose sight of that. At the end of the day, NCAA football is a business. People have got to make business decisions.”

During a news conference announcing the Weis firing, Swarbrick patronized Weis by discussing his national championship…in academics:

“You know, Charlie did win a National Championship; he won a National Championship when his football program finished first in graduation success rate this year, and that is an important contribution and one which we value very highly.”

Weis’ players were not just good classroom performers but the best performers in the country as he won a National Championship…in academics.  Apparently, winning an academic national championship is still not good enough to keep a job.  Imagine if the opposite were true.  Could anyone imagine Notre Dame firing Weis after winning a National Championship in football but only graduating 1/3 of the team (à la Bob Huggins)?  I guess if you are looking for excellence, its more economically feasible to have it on the field then in the classroom.

So much for high standards.  Notre Dame likes to publicize its standards when financially to their advantage.  They put a contract renewal with Taco Bell on hold due to their lack of disclosure regarding labor standards.  While Adidas has the same problems (which came under fire at Michigan and Wisconsin back in 2007), there is no talk about ending that contract.  The difference here is the Taco Bell’s contract is for hundreds of thousands of dollars, while the Adidas deal is worth millions.

Notre Dame has transitioned into exactly what they professed they would never be…just like everyone else.  They are no different from Alabama, Oklahoma, or USC.  Well, slightly different.  They still can’t win games.

It’s gotten so bad that even Jesus doesn’t want to coach there.

This Week in Chicago Sports Envy (11/29/09): College Football Edition

In Chicago Sports on November 29, 2009 at 5:06 pm

Given that Notre Dame is about to fire their 3rd head football coach since 2000 and Illinois is stuck in the Big 10 cellar, The Chicago Tribune needs to find a successful football story and their new favorite team is the Northwestern Wildcats.  In the November 23rd Chicago Tribune, reporter Teddy Greenstein examines the factors that will drive the bowl committee’s team selection of Wisconsin or Northwestern.  In my opinion, the bowl committee will choose teams based on the following 2 factors:  (a) teams providing a good matchup and (b) teams that will bring in the most money.  Teddy’s analysis looks at these 2 criteria and a host of other absurd critera:

Wisconsin advantages over Northwestern:

  • Better overall record, assuming the Badgers beat Hawaii (9-3 vs. 8-4). (Legit point)
  • Much larger fan base. (Absolutely legit point)
  • A stronger “name.” (Another legit point)
  • Many would view the Badgers as a better matchup against an SEC opponent such as LSU or Tennessee. (This may be true, but Northwestern may pose an interesting matchup as well)
  • A possible Top 25 ranking, though the Badgers fell out this week after their loss to Northwestern. (Another legit point)

Northwestern advantages over Wisconsin:

  • Head-to-head victory. (OK, this one is legit)
  • Wisconsin’s Florida bowl fatigue: The Badgers have played in Florida bowls the last five years. (And this is a problem, how???  The Badgers and their fans travel well and, except for last year’s trouncing by Florida State, the games have been exciting with Wisconsin winning 2 of the 5 contests)
  • Wisconsin’s season-ending trip to Hawaii will pull some traveling fans away from its bowl game. (Again, huh?  The bowl game is in Florida, not the China.  And, the games are over one month apart.  I don’t think the fans will be too worn out for a drive to Tampa.  Wisconsin fans will travel anywhere there is beer).
  • The Wildcats have momentum after winning three straight. (Legit point)
  • Northwestern has not played in a Florida bowl since the 1997 Citrus — and never has played in Tampa. (Does anyone really think the bowl committee really cares about the last time Northwestern played in Florida?  However, lets take Teddy’s point and examine that 1997 Citrus bowl, in which Tennessee beat Northwestern 41 – 21, and was leading 21-0 after the first quarter.  It was the 2nd biggest bowl thumping I have ever seen except for the 2000 Alamo bowl, where Northwestern lost to Nebraska 66 – 17).

How does one measure envy…the length at which one is willing to make stuff up.

Flying Through O’Hare Makes Me Feel Like ****

In Chicago Blogs, O'Hare on August 20, 2009 at 1:47 pm

Useless I am on my way to Charlotte for my cousin’s wedding.  I hate travelling.  Pre 9-11, I used to travel for work about 17 weeks per year.  After about four years of constant delays, luggage mishaps, security nightmares, and standby list screw jobs, I looked for a different line of work and avoided airports at all costs.  It even bothers me to come to the airport to pick up friends given that the Soviet Red Army is guarding the drop off / pick up lanes with their ticket briefcase and yellow glow stick.

I left my South Loop apartment over two hours before the flight left.  After catching a bus to the “EL” stop, I took the train to another train, which then took me to O’Hare.  The bus was fine, and the first “EL” train was also fine; however, the second train was a ridiculously slow.  I have no idea why.  Construction on the tracks?  No.  Train in front of us?  No.  Rush hour (i.e. many passengers getting on and off)?  No.  Homeless dude urinating on the tracks?  Not today.  I think that the slowdown was the result of pacing the train.  The CTA is on a budget crisis and they probably have less trains leaving, thus slowing throughput.   What should only take 50 minutes is now taking over an hour and 10 minutes as the driver is waiting at stops longer and driving the train slower.

After all this trouble, I still made it to the airport with 50 minutes to spare.  I wasn’t checking any bags and already had my boarding pass.  It took me about 7 or 8 minutes to get to the security line from the “EL” station.  The line was longer than usual, but I was figuring no more than 20 minutes tops.  This should give me at least 20 minutes, which is more than enough time to walk to the terminal.

Couple of problems with my estimates starting with the screening process.  The bottleneck in the operation was not necessarily the number of people in line but rather the TSA security officer taking far too long to check through bags.  We had tons of people standing and waiting for their bags to go through the screening machine.  Once I actually made it to the machine, I had to wait at least 5 minutes before my bags actually made it through.  I left security with 10 minutes to spare before my flight left.  I then noticed that my flight was leaving Terminal C and I was in Terminal B.  The only way to get to Terminal C from B is to walk in this very bizarre 80s-modernistic, Alice in Wonderland-esque relaxation tube.  The tube is so long that I think its dropping me off somewhere in Wisconsin.

Where is the white rabbit?

Where is the white rabbit? Oh dear! Oh dear! I shall be too late!

The mind bending spa music gave me my Timothy Leary moment of clarity.  I had a vision of myself as my morning’s healthy and nutritious breakfast being chewed up by the teeth of the “EL” and the stomach of the TSA.  I am now entering the intestine of the “Love Tunnel” on my way to the anus of Terminal C.  It is fitting description of the events, given that commercial airlines typically treat their passengers like a bowel movement.  Take my nutrients (i.e money) and poop me out.

I ran to the gate.  When I arrived, the door had been closed.  The ticketing agent (aka Nurse Ratched), returned to tell me that the flight was sold out and that they gave my seat away to a standby customer.  “How could you do that,” I proclaimed.  “I checked in on-line and have my boarding pass.  I’ve been waiting at this door for over 5 minutes”

“It doesn’t matter” said the agent while looking down and typing away on her keyboard.  “If you are not here 10 minutes before your departure time, we provide seats to the standing list.  Also, I called your name on the loudspeaker.”

I love how airlines get to write the 10 minute non-guarantee rule without checking with me first.  It is a “fine print” example of a company inventing rules that seek to benefit only them.  I cannot think of another situation where a company will give away your purchase if not claimed 10 minutes before delivery.  In my opinion, the seat is mine and if I don’t get it nobody should.  The reason this rule exists is because airlines are so incompetent they cannot profit without it.  Next thing you know they will start charging you for bags.

The ticketing agent was hearing me but not listening.  She has probably heard my story a million times before.  I loved her irreverence while she continues to type away not making eye contact.    She is like an automated call center.  I was waiting for her to say ‘Press pound after your response.’

“I was stuck in security,” I replied.  “Does your loudspeaker work over there?”

She finally look up at me with an annoying frown.  “No,” replied the agent.

“What was I supposed to do?  Security couldn’t get me through the line any faster.”

She shrugged her shoulders confirming her indifference.

“Look, I know you don’t care, but what am I supposed to do now?”

Her ears perked up.  “Sir, I do care.  Head to gate C16 for customer service.  There is another flight leaving in two hours.  See if you can get on the standby list.”

I am fuming as I walk to customer service.  Is it just me, or does every airline customer service area remind me of a a combination of a refugee camp and a Ponderosa buffet.  Stranded passengers from around the world come here for any and all issues, which are in turn completed by the lowest quality of employee.  Seriously, I think employees are assigned to Customer Service as punishment.  Also, why are the lines typically moving slower than the DMV at lunchtime?   This particular line probably had 15 or so people in it with 3 agents.  After 40 minutes, I finally get to the front part of the line, but by this time the line has easily doubled to 30 people.  In an act of unbelievable arrogance, two of the agents leave the desk and are replaced by one agent.  Are you kidding me?  If you have 3 agents and the line grows, what happens if you only have 2 agents?  Is the government overseeing this operation?

5 minutes later I finally get to the desk.  It takes the agent another 5 minutes to put me on the standby list and issue my ticket on a later flight.  The standby flight leaves in an hour and a half but is delayed by an additional hour.   I’m never getting out of here.  Seriously, this airport needs an enema.

This might be a little small for this logjam

This might be a little small for this logjam

Jackass Bombs Buildings, Boards Plane

In Ayers, Obama, Terrorist on July 12, 2009 at 9:25 pm

He's a Cubs Fan???

My Soviet hockey jersey is at the dry cleaners

Apparently Bill Ayers is not considered a terrorist by the TSA.  This is old news given my previous posting as I saw Mr. Ayers on-board a United flight bound for San Diego.

Apparently my criminal background and 4 ounces of carry on shampoo is more threatening than Bill Ayers.  My criminal background consists of underage drinking and trespassing as I was ticketed for being on a beach after-hours while serving some thirsty underage ladies (ba da bing).  Granted when I was thirteen I admit to participating in the traditional 4th of July firecrcker in my neighbor’s mailbox, but I think Mr. Ayers went a step further.

How much further did he go?  According to a book he co-authored, Prairie Fire, the Weather Underground lists the terrorist activities they participated:

Bombing List

pfintropg2_2

On top of all this, Larry Grathwohl, an FBI informant who was with the Weatherman from autumn 1969 through spring 1970, spoke in the documentary “No Place to Hide” about the organizations Pol Pot-esque re-education camps for capitalists:

I sent an email to the TSA asking 2 simple questions:

  1. What is the standard for an individual to be placed on a “Do Not Fly” list?
  2. Why does Mr. Ayers not meet this standard?

The TSA responded as follows:

As part of its airport security procedures, the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) requires airlines to verify the identity of all passengers to ensure that persons on Federal watch lists who are known to pose, or are suspected of posing, a threat to civil aviation or national security receive secondary screening or are denied boarding on commercial aircraft.  The Federal watch lists are maintained by the US Terrorist Screening Center in a consolidated Terrorist Screening Database, and are compiled from information provided by the Federal intelligence and law enforcement agencies.  The Federal watch lists include a No Fly List and a Selectee List.  Individuals on the No Fly List are prohibited from traveling on commercial aircraft.  Individuals on the Selectee List are permitted to fly but receive secondary screening at airport security checkpoints.

DHS can neither confirm nor deny whether an individual is on a Federal watch list because this information is derived from classified and sensitive law enforcement intelligence information.

We appreciate that you took the time to share your concerns with us.  I hope this information is helpful.

Sincerely yours,

Stephanie M Curtis

Correspondence Program Manager

Although the TSA won’t specifically address my second question, we can confirm that Bill Ayers is NOT on the No Fly List given he was on the flight.  I hope he is  on the Selectee list, which should include a mandatory hand wand colonoscopy.

Hey Bill, what are you hiding up there?

Hey Bill, what are you hiding up there?

So A Terrorist Walks Into A Plane…

In Ayers, Obama, Terrorist on May 25, 2009 at 9:13 pm

What a jackass...

What a jackass...

On a recent flight to San Diego out of O’Hare, I was shocked to see Bill Ayers sitting two rows in front of me.  You know, the guy that our esteemed Mayor awarded as Chicago’s Citizen of the Year back in 1997.   Oh, he is also the guy that co-founded the Weather Underground terrorist organization back in the 60s.  You can easily spot him as he’s the only Chicagoan with Obama/Biden AND Che Guevara bumper-sticker on the back of his Soviet Moskvitch Hybrid.

Random thought, but considering Chicago dubious past in crime and political corruption, how come I get the feeling William Hale Thompson gave Al Capone the Citizen of Year back in the 30s.  Just a thought.

I watched Ayers as he was going to the rear of the plane.  It was definitely him with his condescending and weathered “too much acid but I’m still smarter than you capitalist pigs” look.

Since he was sitting two rows in front of me, I did not have the chance to chat with him.  If I was sitting next to him, it would have been the the first opportunity I would ever have to play the role of the annoying jackass that you never want to sit next to on a plane, sort of like John Candy’s character in Planes, Trains and Automobiles.  I was thinking of the top 10 questions I would ask Bill Ayers if I could…:

10. Why are you going to San Diego?  I  mean, San Diego is not exactly a hotbead for anti-US sentiment.  Shouldn’t he be on a plane to Tehran, or Berkley?

9.  What’s in your carry on bags?  I really need to see what is in there…

8.  Who is waiting for you when you arrive in San Diego.  Let me guess, you will be greeted by Osama Bin Laden, Ward Churchill, Reverend Jeremiah Wright, and the Unabomber.

For Memorial Day, I'm planning on throwing some flags on the fire...

For Memorial Day, I'm planning on throwing some flags on the fire...

7.  What does Fidel like on his pizza?

6.  Why the hell did the Weather Underground break Timothy Leary out of jail?  I mean, you all had to accept payment from the Brotherhood of Eternal Love which was really a ragtag group of hippies and drug dealing surfers from Laguna Beach.  Did they actually pay you in cash or just keep you perpetually intoxicated with kind bud?

5.  Did you want to kick John Jacob’s ass for telling the Black Panthers that 25,000 people would show up for the Days of Rage, only to have 200 show up?

We can trash the Gold Coast, but leave my parents house alone!!!

We're just too cool for the Black Panthers...especially when I wear this helmet

4.  When you met Mayor Richard M Daley, did you tell him that his Dad was “total square?”

3.  Given that the Weather Underground blew up the memorial to the Haymarket Affair TWICE, did Mayor Daley ever ask if you were responsible for defacing Mary Brogger’s Haymarket Memorial sculpture.  It does have your symbol attached…

haymarket_memorial_plaque1

3.  Have you applied for a job at the Hamhŭng University of Education, or does the North Korean government not offer as lucrative of tenure as the State of Illinois?

2.  By working at the University of Illinois and receiving a salary from the State of Illinois, you are a government employee.  Given your renegade past, doesn’t this make you a complete sell out?

1.  How many bombs must you deploy illegally before you are not allowed to fly on a commercial airline?

Seriously, how the heck did Bill Ayers get on this plane?  I was so shocked that the TSA allowed him on the plane that I decided to send them an email:

To Whom It May Concern:

This past Saturday, My wife and I traveled from Chicago to San Diego on United Airlines.  Mid-flight, I recognized someone sitting two rows ahead of me. As this gentleman stood up and walked toward the rear of the plane, I recognized him as Bill Ayers, a member of the Weathermen or Weather Underground Organization. His background received a tremendous amount of publicity in the 2008 presidential election as his name was linked with then candidate Barack Obama.

I was surprised to see him on an airplane given that he was a founding member of an organization that issued a “Declaration of a State of War” against the United States government in 1970. A short list of their terrorist activities include a bombing of the United States Capitol in 1971, The Pentagon in 1972, and the United States Department of State Building in 1975. Mr. Ayers was never convicted for his role in the group due to government misconduct. He turned himself in to authorities in 1980.

Recently, Mr. Ayers wrote a New York Times Op Ed piece published on December 8th, 2008 to clarify his character. In this Op Ed, he admits that he, “co-founded the Weather Underground” and that the group “went on to take responsibility for placing several small bombs in empty offices.” He referred to the bombings as “symbolic acts of extreme vandalism.”

Although never convicted, Mr. Ayers does admit in his own words to being part of an organization that committed bombings against the United States. Unless there was an error, he obviously did not meet the standard to be included on a “Do Not Fly” list given he was allowed on the plane.

What is the standard for an individual to be placed on a “Do Not Fly” list and why does Mr. Ayers not meet this standard?

I look forward to your reply.

Sincerely,
American Crow

The TSA has not yet replied to my email.

I hope that on this Memorial Day, even idiots like William Ayers recognize the sacrifice of the those in the military.

Cubs Fans Are Acting Like Pagans

In Chicago Sports, Cubs on April 23, 2009 at 9:00 am
Jo-Bu can get you to the World Series

Jo-Bu can get you to the World Series

What in the name of Steve Bartman is wrong with the Chicago Cubs and their fans?  Over the past couple years, there has been a disturbing trend of Cubs management, players, and fans dabbling in the occult that would disturb any radical voodo-priest.

We start with out 3rd baseman Aramis Ramirez, who’s glorified cockfighting past may actually be masking a sacrifice to some voodoo diety to help lift his October hitting slump.

Mike Vick and I love to party

Mike Vick and I love to party

Next, before the Cubs home opener, some Cubs fans left a goat’s head outside Wrigley Field.  Now, normally I would write this off as some idiot that is really into baseball and owns their own butcher shop.  However, this is not the first time a Cubs fan has left a dead animal on Harry Carey’s statue.  Cubs fans have now gone from simply annoying to barbaric.  Seriously, is the 7th inning “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” going to be replaced with Ozzy Osbourne’s “Crazy Train” complete with flying bats?

By the way, I’ll bet a fan smuggled that cat into the stadium and onto the field Tuesday night.  I could see a Cubs fan rationale (which of course makes no sense) that releasing the cat on the field will break the curse of Ron Santo’s black cat at Shea.  You can throw that thought process away given that the idiot groundskeeper grabbed the poor cat by the tail.

cattail1

Let go of my tail you brute...

or you'll get more of this!!!

...or you'll get more of this!!!

Finally, the Cubs brass upset a priest by lying about a playoff blessing.  Cubs Chairman Crane Kenney spoke at the Cubs Convention (aka Pagan Winter Festival) about Rev. James L. Greanias, a Greek Orthodox priest that blessed Wrigley Field to help remove a curse before Game 1 of last year’s playoffs.  A fan asked Kenney about the priest, who responded that the priest approached him to conduct the blessing and that it was “one of the dumbest things” he had done.

First of all, when examining the Cubs playoff performance over the past few years, I sincerely doubt this was one the dumbest things he has ever done (i.e. Alfonso Soriano and his glove for $14 million, having Fukudome on the roster, etc).

Second, Kenny said, An e-mail comes in, and this was a huge Cubs fan who wants to get tickets to the game and has a cell phone with a Cubs ring tone on it, and I said, ‘Let him go.”  The article states that Rev. Greanias recalled the situation differently:

Kenney told me he wanted a Greek Orthodox priest because [William] Sianis was Greek,” said Greanias, referring to the tavern owner who placed a hex on the Cubs during the 1945 World Series. “The last thing on my mind was calling the Cubs to ask them to bless the field. In fact, I thought it was a joke at first.”

Does anyone actually believe that a priest from Valparaiso would actually email the Cubs President and offer to bless Wrigley Field in exchange for tickets?  And that the Cubs President would actually read this email (I’m sure he only gets a few daily emails from fans and he reads them all) and respond to it?

Also, someone actually paid for a Cubs ring tone?  Are you kidding me?

Finally, even if one disagrees with who is telling the truth, the fact remains that the Cubs President believed enough in the curse (or at least didn’t believe enough in his team’s chances to win) to allow a Priest to bless Wrigley Field.  In return, the Cubs were swept by the Dodgers in embarrassing fashion.

If only the Cubs and their fans actually spent more energy on winning…

PS:  I may be in trouble.  This post may upset my My Mother-In-Law.

Todd Stroger’s “American Way”

In Cook County, Stroger on April 20, 2009 at 9:01 pm

I have always known this particular sentiment was prevalent among politicians, but I never thought one of them would admit to it.

The Chicago Tribune reported the following on a WGN 720AM radio interview with host John Williams and Cook County President Todd Stroger:

Host John Williams asked: Isn’t it unfair to keep targeting smokers with tax increases?

“That is the American way,” Stroger replied. “And the way that it’s generally done is, you find some group that’s small enough where they can’t beat you up, and you tax them and you tell everybody else, ‘See? We didn’t tax you.’ “

This may be the single most outrageous quote I have ever heard by a public official.  OK, maybe its not as outrageous as Gov. Blago comparing himself to Mandella, Ghandi, and King, but this quote is a distant second.

The targeting of certain less-powerful groups for higher taxation is wrong but commonly practiced (and never admitted).  What is unusual is that Todd Stroger admitted the process and called it the “American Way.”  Yes, segmenting certain groups for higher taxation is about as American as segregation.  I have an idea.  How about we increase sales taxes to 25% for all Cook County officials with a first name of Todd?

The other problem with Stroger is that he didn’t even apply his own tactic by increasing sales taxes on every resident in Cook County.  The increase has left us with the highest sales tax in the country and resulted in 3 townships (Barrington, Hanover and Palatine) voting to secede from the county.

The Tribune recently called Stroger “an inept heir of a wasteful county government overloaded with lazy political hacks.”  Wow, I was only going to call him a great multi-tasker.  In addition to the above issues, Stroger had to fire his own cousin from her $175 thousand position as County CFO.  Not only is he battling a tough primary, Thanksgiving at his house is going to be rough.

Dickey’s Pawn Shop or How I Learned to Stop Worring and Keep Tons of Quarters

In Chicago Blogs, Parking Meter on March 31, 2009 at 9:30 am

What is the difference between the City leasing the rights to parking meters and the City pawning off parking meters for the $1.2 billion?  If desperate enough, a person will pawn off an asset for a loan at an outrageous interest rate.  You do this to fulfill a short term budgetary problem, like a drug addict getting their fix or a politician filling a budgetary need.  The City’s need to fill that gap lead them to pawn off the Skyway and parking meters.

The lease versus pawn argument can only be settled by comparing the value of the asset given up against the value of the loan received.  A Tribune article looked at this very issue:

“The city could have earned $1.5 billion—in today’s dollars—if it kept the meters and simply raised rates to the same levels it granted the winning bidder, according to H. Woods Bowman, a professor of public service at DePaul University. That’s nearly $300 million more than Chicago Parking Meters, a limited liability corporation formed by Morgan Stanley to operate the meters, will pay upfront, Bowman said.”

Great, so now the city lost money on the deal.  Any other strings attached?

A recent Tribune article found many glaring problems since the privatization measure was approved:

  • Outdated fee and violation-enforcement information still posted on many meters since the city switched from six parking zones to three.

  • Meters that, regardless of what the stickers indicate, charge the wrong hourly rates for the zone in which they are located, increasing the chance of vehicles being ticketed. For example, in the 1800 block of North Clybourn Avenue, an area where 25 cents is supposed to buy 15 minutes of parking time, meter No. 279089 provides only seven minutes for a quarter. A black marker was used to cover up the “15” on the meter’s rate sticker with “7.”
  • A surge in broken meters, many overstuffed with coins.
  • Stepped-up writing of tickets for parking-meter violations.

Outdated meters, incorrect rates, broken meters?  Anything else about Chicago parking people should know about?

How about the fact that Mark Geinosky, an Orland Park resident, got 24 incorrect parking tickets.  According to the Tribune:

“Of the 24 tickets he has received, 13 were written by the same officer.  The 13 tickets were written at four different South Side locations in May, July, August and October of last year. All 13 of those tickets were written at exactly 10 p.m., no matter which day they were issued. And all 13 were sequential in number, meaning that from May to October that officer wrote no tickets to anyone other than Geinosky from the ticket book in question.  In some cases, the tickets were issued on desolate stretches of road where legal parking appeared to be readily available.”

Fortunately, all 24 tickets have been dismissed.

So now the City is giving out tickets to drivers that did not break the law.  Is this an offshoot of the privatization deal?  Did they vote on this yet?

In my opinion, the city is doing this, in the immortal words of Bill Clinton,  “Because I could.”

They all better listen.  The backlash is on.  Check out the Meter Beater.

Ron Mexico Wants To Party…Chicago Style

In Bears, Chicago Blogs, Haugh, Vick on March 30, 2009 at 10:00 am
Hey Lovie...I'm ready!!!

Hey Lovie...I'm ready!!!

David Haugh, you finally got it right.

I’ve been waiting for the Tribune’s speculation on whether the Bears will sign Michael Vick and my wish came true last Thursday.   Vaughn McClure of the Tribune blogged about Lovie Smith’s comments from a USA Today article on Michael Vick.

“The Falcons own Vick’s contract rights, but have ruled out a return and are attempting to trade their erstwhile face of the franchise.

Any takers? Chicago Bears coach Lovie Smith said that while he is committed to Kyle Orton as his quarterback, he believes Vick deserves a chance to compete for a job.

“I would look at Michael like I look at every other prospect that’s available: He goes back into the pool,” Smith said. “That’s what everyone in society does. Martha Stewart went to prison. She paid her time. Now she’s back in society.

“Mike made a mistake, and he’s paying the price for that mistake. Once you’ve paid your debt to society, you have to say, ‘OK, let’s go on from there.’ “

In reviewing Smith’s comments, Haugh writes the following:

But despite Smith’s benevolent attitude, the Bears still should stay away because Vick would present too big a distraction as an unpolished quarterback unlikely to contribute immediately. Not to mention his unresolved status with the NFL. Any potential payoff isn’t worth the investment of time, money and emotion required.

Bravo David.

From a talent perspective, I think Michael Vick is phenomenal.  I do not think he is a polished quarterback.  Check his stats on NFL.com.  In six seasons, he never had a quarterback rating higher than 81.6, his rating in 2002.  Comparably, that puts him behind 20 other quarterbacks in 2008, and just slightly better than Kyle Orton’s rating of 79.6.  He does run for a ton of yards, but the best running quarterbacks in NFL history (Steve Young, Randall Cunningham) had a quarterback rating to offset their scrambling ability.  Steve Young played for fifteen seasons and had a quarterback rating higher than 100 in seven of them.

On a personal level (which Haugh chose not to address), I think Lovie Smith’s comments are absurd.  If OJ still had legs to run on, we should throw him back into the pool as well.  Comaring Vick to Martha Stewart may be the worst comparison of convicted felons, considering the difference between Vick’s crimes (cruelty to animals, illegal gambling) to Stewart’s (insider trading).  Why not compare Stewart to Al Capone’s tax evasion crimes?

Lovie Smith must be a Cubs fan given his poo-pooing of the dog fighting and dog murdering charges against Vick.  According to ESPN, Aramis Ramirez loves cockfighting.

“The New York Times reported this month that Ramirez was featured in an issue of a Dominican cockfighting magazine, En La Traba, and is pictured with some roosters.

“When I’m in the Dominican Republic, I’m dedicated entirely to them,” he was quoted as saying.

On Tuesday, Ramirez declined to address the subject. Cockfighting is legal and popular in his country.

“I’m not going to talk about that. That’s personal, that’s a different culture down there. I’m from [the] Dominican, so let’s talk about baseball,” he said.”

The Dominican Republic has a cock-fighting magazine?  Are you kidding me?  I believe the literal translation of “En La Traba” is “Jackass with a Rooster?”

I love the rationalization using the “different culture” example.  Cockfighting is probably just like Christmas, apple pie, and the 4th of July in the US.  Everyone does in the Dominican, which is why Albert Pujols has all those rooster farms (of course he has none).  Hey Aramis, there are countries in the Middle East that advocate stoning and flogging.  Hey, if its legal and part of the culture, it must be OK.

For full disclosure, I love dogs and grew up with them.  I find both Michael Vick’s and Aramis Ramirez’s actions deplorable and disgusting.  Michael Vick may pay his debt to society, but that doesn’t mean he should ever wear an NFL uniform again or become a millionaire again.  Let him pawn off “Shamwows” on cable given that their current pitchman is in jail for soliciting a hooker.

In the Ramirez situation, MLB cannot suspend him for following the law in another country.  If the union can keep steroids out of their player contracts for all those years, they certainly can prevent foreign based cockfighting limitations.  However, the fans can rise up and not buy his jersey or any product he endorses.

Vick in Chicago, it’s not impossible.  In fact, it looks like a group of people in the south side of the city may welcome Vick with open arms.

In my opinion, the problem in today’s society follows Lovie Smith’s comments, we try to rationalize everything in order to manipulate forgiveness.  The real intention lies somewhere between money and power.  Do you think Michael Vick really cares whether you forgive him?  He just wants the ball and the millions that come with it.  Given that his creditors probably want the same thing, there may be a massive PR push to get Vick reinstated.

You drowned and electrocuted a dog for not performing?  Ran gambling operations across state lines?  I’m really sorry.  I must have just slipped and forgot that was against the law.  But I’ve served my jail time and we all have to move on.   By the way, I have a great selling jersey and sell out stadiums.

Didn’t pay your Income Taxes?  I’ll just admit a “unintentional mistake” and move on.  You say you owe over $35 grand?  I really dropped the ball, it’s a Turbo Tax issue.  You can swear me in as Treasury Secretary now.

Colonel Sanders for Mayor

In Chicago Blogs, South Loop on March 29, 2009 at 6:58 pm
Someone please hire this man!!!

Someone please hire this man!!!

According to the Tribune, Colonel Sanders wants to fix your potholes.  The City of Chicago does not given that they are more interested in fixing a low traffic street that the International Olympic comittee is visiting.

This may be one example of privatization I would be in favor.  Maybe the City can hire Grimace and Mayor McCheese for traffic detail while The Burger King handles parking tickets.  With each ticket, he could give a free coupon for a Double Whopper.  It’s a win win situation.

Quick, someone find something that damn oven mitt at Arby’s can do?  No, don’t have him work out the Mayor’s office, he’ll just end up in jail.

On a serious note, the City’s priortization should be troubling for all residents.  The City of Chicago is looking to reap the financial benefits of hosting an Olympics.  Other than pride, will residents feel any of the financial benefits of Chicago hosting the Olympics?  Will potholes get fixed any faster?  Are property taxes going down?  Is traffic going to get better?  Is the corruption going to get better?  Will sales taxes go down?