Just Saying

Maybe they talk differently in Chicago. Pack more meaning than most between the lines. “Chicago Alderman Anthony Beale gave new meaning to constituent advocacy yesterday when he told Metra’s executive director ‘people are going to get hurt’ in the dispute over how many minorities they decide to hire for a railroad bridge project, the ‘Englewood Flyer.'”

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The Sun-Times also states Beale is not the only elected official weighing in on the project. Earlier this year, Congressman and former Black Panther Bobby Rush also threatened Metra over African Americans not getting their fair share of the first $86 million being spent on the project.

So the question is:  who doublecrossed whom? Why think so low? After all, the ground that was broken in October, 2011, for this $133 million rail project was funded by the President’s 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. By the messiah himself. It was slated to employ 1,500 workers. “Governor Quinn says the majority of those 1500 jobs … will be filled locally, as in by South Side Chicagoans.” What could go wrong?

As it turned out, everything could go wrong, when things work out as they should.  The labor contracts, Beale averred, were fixed.

“When you look at the make-up of the community — when you look at the unemployment rate … in that particular community, it’s probably 35, almost 40 percent. … To have a contract come like this in the African-American community with less than one percent minority participation is an insult.” …

“I’m trying to help you help yourself. When I say that, problems could arise. When you look at a community like Englewood [that] is challenged and you have over $1 billion of work coming through and there’s no people of color working on that project, I’m afraid people are going to get hurt,” Beale told Clifford during Thursday’s committee hearing.

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You don’t say? You can see why Beale might be suspicious of Chicago’s Metra Board. After all this august body actually takes out corruption insurance on its own leadership.  “How far does corruption go in Illinois? So far that Chicago’s commuter rail agency actually took out insurance against it.”

When Metra chief Phil Pagano stepped in front of a speeding commuter train last May, he took a number of secrets with him.

Perhaps the largest was what he did with the nearly half-million dollars he was accused of misappropriating from the agency. Specifically, Pagano was accused of taking some $475,000 in improper advances on vacation time, even forging the signature of Metra chairman Carole Dorris on the paperwork. …

But after his suicide, few held out hope that the public would see any of the money returned.

Some of it came back last week in the form of a check, from an insurance company. Since 2001, Metra has required its executive director, chairman, and board members to carry corruption insurance.

Just in case. Just in case people walk in front trains, steal money or renege on promises. Maybe the contracts that really matter aren’t the ones written on paper. Recently President Obama’s ex-best buddy Tony Rezko described the life and times of former Governor Rod Blagojevitch, now doing time in prison.  He expressed surprise not at the corruption of the governor, but at his habit of calling people from anything other than a pay phone.

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Rezko was behind bars when Blagojevich was arrested on charges that he tried to sell Obama’s old Senate seat. But there was something else that surprised Rezko.

“I thought he knew better, I should say. I was surprised. I was surprised that he had said the things he said with regard to the Senate seat on the phone,” Rezko said. “I wasn’t surprised that these conversations take place, I was surprised that these conversations take place on the phone.”

There are certain circles where no one is surprised at venality. They are only shocked by the lack of it. In rough towns honesty looks as out of place as duck on a bicycle. When you fit in nobody notices. For example, on a day when job numbers were reported to by abysmally low, the Daily Caller reported that the President was “raising $5 million at fundraisers in Chicago this Friday – including one co-hosted by Marilyn Katz.”

So who is Marilyn Katz? According to the New York Times, she’s the person who gave Obama “entry into another activist network: the foot soldiers of the white student and black power movements that helped define Chicago in the 1960s. As a leader of Students for a Democratic Society then, Ms. Katz organized Vietnam War protests, throwing nails in the street to thwart the police.”

The Chicago Tribute also noted that Katz, “once advocated throwing studded nails in front of police cars, back in the SDS days when the group was alleged to have thrown cellophane bags full of human excrement at cops and cans of urine and golf balls impaled with nails.”

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What could be more natural than pals talking old times?  But Katz’s strictly legit now, as far as it goes. Perhaps the accusations suggesting that the President is foreign born are entirely unjust and defamatory. He may in the end be as American as deep dish pizza pie, Chicago style.


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