In Which Toilet Scrubbing Enters Chicago’s Pay to Play Schemes

1st Interviewer: Mr. Murphy, do you mean that you lied on your application?
Spud: No! Uh. Yes. Only to get my foot in the door. Showing initiative and that like.
1st Interviewer: But you were referred here by the department of employment, there was no need for you to get your “foot in the door,” as you put it.
Spud: Ehhh… cool. Whatever you say, I’m sorry. You’re the man. The dude in the chair.
2nd Interviewer: Mr. Murphy, what attracts you to the leisure industry?
Spud: In a word: pleasure. It’s like, my pleasure in other people’s leisure.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day.

Seriously, what other pseudo national holiday could whip this city into an annual drunken frenzy and prompt even the most hardcore environmentalist to salute the discoloring of an even greener Chicago River? And on this day, without the assistance of the Dave Matthews band.

With that in mind, it only seemed apropos to talk about yet another pay to play scandal that has apparently entered King Dick’s court.

That being of course, Soldier Field’s toilets. And who gets the honor of cleaning them.

Huh you say?

Yup, you read that right. Pay to play for the honor to clean the porcelain throne that once graced the buttock cheeks of Her Heiress Paris Hilton, has been alleged. And keeping in the tradition of a hyper litigious society, there is now a lawsuit filed:

McGinnis filed a lawsuit Monday claiming a firm owned by Mayor Daley’s biggest fund-raiser in the black community, Elzie Higgenbottom, scored the Soldier Field contract as payback for Higgenbottom’s “generous donations” to the Democratic Party.

Oh joy, more potential tax payer money to be doled out in a settlement. Terrific. Let’s raise parking meters to $5.00 every 15 minutes and shutdown another 5 public schools.

Now don’t be mistaken to assume this is frivolous. Evidently, it is no small meat and potatoes business to be rewarded the privilege of cleaning up the vomit and other bodily fluids and waste of drunk Bears fans. It is reportedly worth $1.5 million to the winning bidder.

Is nothing sacred in this town? Can there be no credibility in the business of even selecting a custodial service?

Pay to play… Pay to play… Pay to play....

It would make a great mantra for the Chicago 2016 Olympics bid. Seemed to work for Salt Lake just fine.

If a “generous” political contribution was worth it to City Hall to allegedly engage in corrupt political swindling, how much dough is to be made under the table by rewarding multi-million dollar bids to contracting companies for the construction of Olympic facilities?

Good question. Perhaps that FBI investigation into the ongoing swindling of the O’Hare expansion might shed some light.

In the meantime, let’s hope that the urinal cakes are fresh and toilet seats be sanitary for this upcoming Bears season. It is the least that could be offered to the beleaguered and overtaxed Chicagoan.

In Which Some are Stuck on Stupid

DAPHNE BRAMHAM of the The Vancouver Sun today takes a look at the 2010 Olympics that are coming to Vancouver. And she is less than thrilled with what she has found. Let’s let her start with the small numbers.

Residents of Climax, Sask., or Come-by-Chance, N.L., probably don’t know that their provincial governments ponied up $1.5 million for the big sports extravaganza in Vancouver next winter.

Hey, what’s a mil here or there between friends? It isn’t like it’s real money. And, to the politicians, it isn’t. It isn’t their money, it’s tax money and that is kind of like Monopoly money. It must be considering the way it gets handed out to any idiot who shows up at the board.

Moving up the money chain, she notes this;

Folks in Quebec and Ontario must be wondering what they’re getting for the $5 million that their politicians tossed into the pot, if they even know that’s been done.

Hey, no need to look behind the curtain, it’s still only a few mil being tossed in the pit. Let’s forget these tightwads and move on to the real players.

Then there’s their portion of what Ottawa is spending on the Games. Its spending is more transparent than British Columbia’s; its website shows a total of $654.65 million in Olympic “investments”.

Okay, now we’re talking. This is the kind of money that will even hold an Illinois’ politician’s attention. And, joy of joys, it is the tip of their iceberg.

But that doesn’t include the full cost of security, which may be close to $800 million more than the budgeted $175 million. Another nearly $23 million has been paid by “official sponsors” Canada Post, the Royal Canadian Mint and the Vancouver Port Corp. That doesn’t include any travel expenses for politicians and staff, who went to the Olympics in 2006 and 2008 as fact-finders and glad-handers.

Add it up and — ka-ching! — it’s more than $1.55 billion.

All righty then! Now we are in the world of WTF!?!?!

But you say, using logic and reason (HA HA!), all of this had to be approved by the taxpayers, right?

But why should other Canadians know? At Ground Zero, none of us has any real idea. B.C.’s auditor-general, John Doyle, can’t dig out the province’s costs and he has all but thrown in the towel.

You read that right. The auditor for the province hasn’t got a clue where the money came from, how it was used or who is responsible for it.

She continues on adding and adding dollar after dollar that no one is being held accountable for until she gets to the grand total.

Drum roll please .........................

But by our incomplete tally and with another year to go until the Games, it’s more than $6,000,000,000.

Yes, that is $6 billion dollars and still counting.

Now, just take a minute to ponder this to yourself. Given the history of Illinois politics in general, and Chicago specifically, do you still feel good about the Olympics coming to our city? If you do, you are truly stuck on stupid.


In Which Joe Cowley Interviews Jerry Reinsdorf

Sandy: I want you to kill every gophers on the golf course!
Carl Spackler: Correct me if I’m wrong Sandy, but if I kill all the golfers, they’re gonna lock me up and throw away the key…
Sandy: Not golfers, you great fool! Gophers! The *little* *brown*, *furry* *rodents* !
Carl Spackler: We can do that; we don’t even have to have a reason. All right, let’s do the same thing, but with gophers!

Has springtime finally arrived?

Seriously, sun and warmth on a weekend? Awesome!

Anyhow, this space could be spent griping about Puerto Rico’s annihilation of Team USA during last night’s World Budball debacle (who was the starting pitcher again?) or the Almighty announcement of Mike Fontenot’s promotion of being the guardian of the North Side’s second base (so much for Aaron Miles).

But we won’t do either. Otherwise, I might be labeled a complainer.

Instead, let’s review a little excerpt from Joe Cowley’s interview of Reinsdorf:

Q: What about the economy for the regular season?

J.R.: “No, we’re in pretty good shape for the season. I’m worried about 2010. We lost a number of sponsorships coming into this year, but there are more deals that expire next year, in 2010. I’m concerned about that. Ticket sales, interesting enough, we’re running ahead of last year. Other than teams that are opening up new ballparks, I don’t know if anyone else is, so we’re doing alright there.’’

Pretty good stuff here. Blunt honest truth concerning the economy, marketing struggles and the future plans of the White Sox contingent upon losing significant corporate sponsorship. And yet, Jerry Reinsdorf has reason to be completely optimistic because of the leadership exhibited by Kenny Williams’ foresight (read about the 3 year plan) and his dwarf* intolerant manager, Ozzie Guillen.

Not your typical “house reporter” interview, eh Jerry?

Anyway, Jay the Joke feels left out. We have a few questions of our own for the Chairman:

1. What is the status for “Jay Day” at US Cellular Field? A petition can be started.

2. Regret partnering with the LA Dodgers for a training camp compound?

3. Any room on the White Sox programs for NiteOwl’s baseball player biographies?

4. If US Cellular goes kaput… EsNtion Records Ball Park, can you dig it?

5. Fake 2nd place rings for Tampa Bay “fans"*. This is a really dumb promotion, right?

Best of luck in 2009 to the White Sox.

Have a great weekend!

In Which This is so Stupid, It Might Just Work!

KYLE KOSTER, blogger extra-ordinaire and writer for the Sun Times (how did he slip through?) has noted an interesting turn in the ongoing development of the legendary COL. SANDERS’ CURSE.

For those of you who may have missed that particular curse, Kyle does yeoman’s work filling in your knowledge gap.

Fans of Japan’s Hanshin Tigers blame their decades-old drought on a Colonel Sanders statue that was uprooted from outside a KFC in Osaka and tossed into the nearby Dotonbori River by overzealous fans after a Tigers title in 1985.

Fans thought the Colonel looked like Oklahoma-born slugger Randy Bass, who played for the Hanshin Tigers at the time.

But no one could find the bearded fast-food magnate’s statue after his victory plunge. And the Tigers haven’t won since, launching the “Curse of Colonel Sanders.”

So, we have a poultry related curse in the land of sushi and we have a goat related curse in the land of hot dogs. Clearly, fried chicken is the answer. I am not 100% sure what the actual question is, but I am positive that fried chicken is the answer. Kyle takes a moment to bring us all up to date on the resurfacing of the statue and the efforts of KFC to spread some good old fashioned fried chicken voodoo.

Oh, they may accidentally get some fun publicity out of this too, but I am sure that never entered their minds.

But on Tuesday, divers checking for unexploded bombs in the river found the statue, causing great excitement among the Hanshin faithful. Perhaps, their curse is over. Perhaps the statue will bless the team with good luck and, in turn, a title.

Enter KFC.

In a letter sent to the Cubs on Thursday, KFC inquired about bringing the statue to Opening Day at Wrigley Field.

“We—at Kentucky Fried Chicken—want to help,” the letter reads.

“We are working desperately with our Japanese colleagues to bring the curse-breaking Colonel Sanders statue to your field by Opening Day. While we can’t promise the statue will snap curses of billy goats, black cats or even a foul-ball-interfering fan, we figure it can’t hurt.”

First off, if your job description reads “looks for unexploded bombs,” you might want to think about night school. Nevertheless, at the end of the day, “Do No Harm” is one of those slogans that has stood the test of time and, in this case, might just provide the levity the dour Cubs need to go all the way.

Now, on to a more serious topic. March 14th is today and it is the holiday that all married men revere. Invented by, all around humanitarian, Tom Birdsey, over a decade ago, STEAK AND A BJ DAY is one of the most wildly anticipated holidays I know. Christmas is a mere rumor by comparison. So, from all the married men at Jay the Joke to all the married men reading today, I want to wish you a happy, and safe, S&BJ Day.


In Which Bobby Knight Was Right.

“Because now you can have a kid come to school for a year and play basketball and he doesn’t even have to go to class,” Knight said Monday. “He certainly doesn’t have to go to class the second semester. I’m not exactly positive about the first semester. But he would not have to attend a single class the second semester to play through the whole second semester of basketball.

“That, I think, has a tremendous effect on the integrity of college sports.” - Feb. 18, 2007 - Bobby Knight.

As I sat through another woeful “tournament game” of bad basketball and forced hyperbole about what each and every dribble means to the bracketing for this year’s March Mediocrity, I remembered the above quote. Even for those of us who are not fans of basketball’s leading curmudgeon, you have to grant that he got this one dead right.

I may be the first to admit it, but I will surely not be the last. The current state of college hoops is godawful. Kids running up and down the court trying to score anyway they can, often heaving balls into some nether-land of dull which bears no relation to the actual basket and listening to coaches scream over and over about something called “defense.” That is apparently a Latin word meaning “give the ball to the other team.”

Kids now either are headed to the NBA shortly or to Chuck-E-Cheeses for their careers. There seems to be no middle ground in Division 1A hoops. And, thus, there is no incentive to play a team game.

I am actually starting to feel sorry for the coaches. No matter how much money they make, it has to be disheartening watching kids with some skills waste them on pipe dreams. Simply put, here are the bare facts;

156,096 – number of high school seniors playing boys’ high school basketball

4,735 — number of NCAA freshman positions in men’s basketball

3% – percentage of athletes who transition from high school to NCAA basketball

44 — number of NCAA athletes who transition into pro basketball

.03% — percentage of high school athletes who eventually make it to pro basketball

You would think that, with those startling odds, the NCAA and the NBA would be doing everything in their power to get kids, legitimately, into college and get them a career. After all, they do call the kids “Student-Athletes” and since more of them are destined to benefit from the “student” half of that moniker, it strikes me as vitally important that some rules be put in place to, at least, give the kids a fighting chance.

The NFL has rules in place that prevent them from drafting a kid until, at least, his junior year. They have been allowed to maintain those rules on the grounds that kids are just not physically developed enough to compete at the pro level. But, if you talk to management from an NFL team they will admit the second part of the reason; kids who balance school and football are better prepared mentally for the rigors of the NFL and adulthood in general. Yes, there are exceptions, but as a general rule it has worked for them.

Also, they don’t just tacitly acknowledge the facts, they drill them into kids who make the team at the 1A level. Here they are;

306,227 — number of high school seniors playing football

17,501 — number of NCAA freshman positions in football

3% – percentage of athletes who transition from high school to NCAA football

250 — number of NCAA athletes drafted into pro football

.08% — percentage of high school athletes who eventually transition to pro football

But, given the current rules, every kid playing college hoops is primped to believe that he will make the NBA. God forbid he waste his time in school or on defense when everyone knows that the only people who make a difference in games are the shooters.

I am not sure who “everyone” is, but they need to be beaten with a hammer.