March 18, 2015 archive

2015 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament: Play Ins Day 2

It’s hard to characterize any of these results as upsets.  Manhattan was a mild favorite and lost, Old Miss a mild favorite who won.  Tonight (and every night for that matter) we will continue with teams I don’t root for since UConn (defending Champions) didn’t make the cut and sentimental favorite Syracuse is under a 5 year NCAA penalty with Jim Boeheim scheduled to retire in 3.

He was no damn good anyway, his players could never hit the clutch free throws.  Besides, it was Daryl Gross’s, the AD’s, fault.

So the only team I’m rooting for is State (Michigan duh) and they’re not that good.

Last Night’s Results

Score Seed Team Record Score Seed Team Record Region
64 16 Manhattan 19 – 14 74 16 * Hampton 17 – 17 Mid-West
94 11 * Mississippi 20 – 12 90 11 BYU 25 – 9 West

Tonight’s Matchups-

Time Channel Seed Team Record Seed Team Record Region
6:40 True 16 North Florida 23 – 11 16 Robert Morris 19 – 14 South
9:30 True 11 Dayton 25 – 8 11 Boise State 25 – 8 East

Tomorrow is the real deal and you might find this interactive analysis of upsets from The Guardian instructive.

Oh and the NCAA are still greedy bastards.

Second City

GOP plutocrat gallops to Rahm Emanuel’s rescue: What Kenneth Griffin’s support says about “Mayor 1%”

by Luke Brinker, Salon

Wednesday, Mar 18, 2015 12:28 PM EST

It’s little wonder, then, that Emanuel has earned the moniker “Mayor 1%.” So we should be little surprised when we read in the Chicago Sun-Times that Kenneth C. Griffin, the billionaire CEO of the hedge fund Citadel, has just infused the pro-Emanuel PAC Chicago Forward with a cool half million in cash – on top of the $250,000 he contributed to Emanuel’s campaign shortly after Garcia forced him into the runoff?

A primer on Griffin: With an estimated net worth of $6.6 billion, the 46-year-old is one of the Republican Party’s most generous megadonors. During the 2014 election cycle, Griffin and his wife Anne contributed $3.6 million to GOP candidates and outside groups for federal elections and precisely zero (0) to Democratic candidates and groups, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. (The hedge funder does not hedge.) Additionally, Griffin lavished $8 million on Rauner’s campaign fund after he ousted Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn, in what the Sun-Times reports was a bid to boost Rauner ahead of his battles with the Democratic state legislature.

“One thing Rahm, Rauner and Griffin have in common is that they understand that money doesn’t just talk, it shouts,” Kristen Crowell, the executive director of United Working Families, said in a statement to Salon. “You see it in the disinvestment in our schools, parks and core services, as public dollars get funneled to politically connected downtown developers and education profiteers.” United Working Families is the Chicago-based sister organization of the national Working Families Party.

Rahm Emanuel’s Housing Agency Sitting On Hundreds Of Millions Of Dollars With Massive Waitlist

Kim Bellware, Huffington Post

03/18/2015 8:02 am EDT

Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s housing agency has been pulling hundreds of millions of dollars from a fund earmarked for its affordable housing program and using the money instead to boost its pension, purchase government debt and build up a staggering cash reserve.

The decision to hoard cash while tens of thousands of families are in need of housing appears to be a strange one only if the goal is to find housing for the people the agency is supposed to serve. Yet developers, bar and restaurant owners and other interests who want to see the city of Chicago continue to gentrify have little interest in assisting the poor, black and brown single moms who populate the waitlist. Instead, they’d prefer the women and their children leave the city and find housing somewhere in the distant suburbs or beyond. The trend was underway before Emanuel took office, with the 2010 census finding 182,000 fewer African-Americans living in the city than a decade before, when Chicago began demolishing its public housing.

The CHA gets tens of millions each year for apartments it controls but leaves vacant. One of the CHA’s larger sites, Lathrop Homes, has a staggering vacancy rate despite the fact that the most recent November 2014 housing lottery saw more than 282,000 applicants. Lathrop Homes has 925 units, but according to longtime resident and co-chairman of the Lathrop Leadership Group, Miguel Suarez, only about 150 of them are occupied today.

“In 2000, CHA froze all leasing in Lathrop with the promise that in 2001, they would start rehabbing,” Suarez told HuffPost. “And of course, that never happened.”

Suarez said that by 2007, developers still hadn’t made improvements, though roughly 45 families were still living on the north end of the site. Shortly after, those remaining families were moved to the south end of the site and CHA “went in and boarded all of the north end up.”

Suarez, who has lived in Lathrop Homes for 25 years and is a chairman for the residents’ leadership team, said some families left after years of what he characterized as neglect by CHA.

“There are apartments that have mold issues, leakage from the outside, and things of that nature,” Suarez said. “When I first moved in, it was totally different: [Lathrop Homes] was fully occupied. Along [North Hoyne Avenue] had a canopy of trees. It was beautiful. Somewhere along the line they got rid of it. Ladies had their flower gardens up front, vegetables in the back. People would even hang their laundry.”

“It was a very different thing — it was a true community,” Suarez noted.

But as the surrounding neighborhoods of Bucktown, Lincoln Park and Roscoe Village hit new levels of prosperity, Suarez called the situation with Lathrop Homes “gentrification at its worst.”

“It’s no secret that today, Lathrop Homes is on some of the most valuable property in the city,” Suarez said. “For developers to come in and say, ‘We want to make this a revitalized community,” well, it already is. They want to move the current residents out to give this property to people with greater means.”

Suarez said that knowing the agency is sitting on hundreds of millions of unspent dollars while Lathrop deteriorates is a clear sign of the city’s priorities. “Knowing very well that CHA has $400-some-odd million stashed, knowing that money is there, and seeing that Lathrop Homes has had no major rehab done to it, it’s evident that the CHA as a whole is not willing to make these units [livable] that could be made available,” he said.

“Not true and they knew it”: What Rahm Emanuel’s Wall Street craze cost Chicago

by David Dayen, Salon

Tuesday, Mar 17, 2015 06:14 AM EST

The city of Chicago and its public school system could recoup potentially billions of dollars in overpayments from complicated, unjust deals inked with Wall Street banks, if they pursued legal action or demanded enforcement from federal regulators. But Rahm Emanuel, the current mayor, has refused to chase this opportunity, despite the city’s drastic fiscal outlook and the effect on citizens. By contrast, his opponent in the April 7 mayoral run-off election, Jesus “Chuy” Garcia, appears far more likely to take action against a powerful financial sector Emanuel has relied on for campaign contributions.

A growing group of public interest activists, lawyers and experts believe that Wall Street violated securities laws by failing to disclose risks on these instruments. “The banks made a fundamental representation, that it was a cheaper way to borrow,” said Brad Miller, a former Congressman and Of Counsel at Grais and Ellsworth, who has focused on these deals. “That was not true and they knew it.”

Chicago was a serial user of this type of exotic borrowing. The Chicago Tribune found that between 2003 and 2007, Chicago Public Schools (CPS) issued $1 billion in auction-rate securities, more than the entire state of California. Goldman Sachs wrote in a letter to CPS that the deals had “no downside.” But over the life of the auction-rate securities, CPS will pay $100 million more than they would have on fixed-rate bonds.

That’s just a sliver of what Chicago financed with Wall Street. “The Tribune investigation was on auction-rate securities,” said Saqib Bhatti, director of the Roosevelt Institute’s ReFund America Project. “There are only four of those. CPS has 10 or 12 other swaps, and the city of Chicago has 25 more.” Banks like JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America, and Deutsche Bank made the deals with the city.

ReFund America estimates that the City of Chicago and Chicago Public Schools have already paid $1.2 billion on swaps, and roughly $106 million annually since 2008. For context, last year Chicago closed nearly 50 schools in underserved areas, for a total savings of only $25 million a year.

Emanuel has publicly stated that it’s simply too late to recoup any money from bad swap deals, because “there’s a thing called a contract.” Of course, Bhatti and his colleagues allege there was a breach of contract, which can trigger legal remedies. In addition, “the same administration so quick to say a contract’s a contract was quick to throw the teachers’ contract out the window when they had a chance,” Bhatti said, referring to a bruising 2012 city teacher’s strike and Emanuel’s proposal to cut retirement benefits. “To them, a deal’s a deal except when it’s not.”

And then there’s the issue of Emanuel’s ties to Wall Street. Investment bankers, including those managing city pension funds, have delivered millions of dollars to Emanuel’s re-election campaign. While the Mayor’s office insisted Emanuel would pursue any opportunities to save taxpayers money, highlighting an ordinance to protect tenants in bank-owned foreclosed properties, advocates frustrated by the inaction on swaps remain skeptical. “This requires taking on the most powerful interest group in the country, which has been an enormous support for Rahm,” Brad Miller said.

Rahm Emanuel Fails to Show Up for Meeting with Families of Victims Killed by Chicago Police

By: Kevin Gosztola, Firedog Lake

Tuesday March 17, 2015 10:07 am

Over a week ago, on March 5, families of loved ones killed by Chicago police officers held a press conference and demanded a meeting with Mayor Rahm Emanuel. They requested that he address the issue of police violence. His office scheduled a meeting for March 16 in the early afternoon. However, when multiple families impacted by police violence came to his office for the meeting, they found out he was going to be a no show.

“He couldn’t take out a mere hour out of his day to come talk to us. That’s unexcusable,” community activist and director of Christianaire, William Calloway, said. “Rahm Emanuel does not have our vote in the African American community and we’re going to stand together. We’re going to band together. And we’re going to make sure that man does not get re-elected come April 7.”

“I came here today to see Rahm Emanuel and he coward out and didn’t show up.,” Dorothy Holmes, mother of Ron Johnson, who was killed by police on October 12, 2014. “How do you figure he’s here for the people? He can’t even face us. And I’m not the only one feeling like he backed out on us. So, if he can’t face us, why should we vote him in office?”


The Breakfast Club (Die, Winter, Die)

Welcome to The Breakfast Club! We’re a disorganized group of rebel lefties who hang out and chat if and when we’re not too hungover  we’ve been bailed out we’re not too exhausted from last night’s (CENSORED) the caffeine kicks in. Join us every weekday morning at 9am (ET) and weekend morning at 10:30am (ET) to talk about current news and our boring lives and to make fun of LaEscapee! If we are ever running late, it’s PhilJD’s fault.

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This Day in History

Russian cosmonaut first man to walk in space; Singer John Philips of The Mamas and The Papas died of heart failure at a hospital in Los Angeles.

Breakfast Tunes

Something to Think about over Coffee Prozac

What if we’re on the right path but headed the wrong way?

Charles Kingsley Michaelson, III, Some Assembly Required

Rep. Aaron Shock Resigning from Congress

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

Illinois Republican Representative Aaron Shock, he of the Downton Abbey office, announced his resignation from the House of Representatives after questions about his finances and high spending life style.

Schock’s spending came under scrutiny after a Washington Post report highlighted the Republican’s newly redecorated office, allegedly modeled after the popular British period drama “Downton Abbey.” The report noted that the office’s decorator, Annie Brahler, remodeled the office for free, sparking an ethics complaint against the congressman.

Schock ultimately repaid $40,000 for the redecoration, but the initial story set off a series of reports on the 33-year-old congressman’s lavish spending habits. Subsequent reports detailed a taxpayer funded weekend in New York for his staffers, a dozen charter flights worth over $40,000 on donors’ planes and $24,000 in campaign funds spent on concerts and events, including a sold-out Katy Perry concert.

Other reports raised questions over Schock’s relationships with donors. In February, a complaint was filed against Schock over the alleged sale of his home to a campaign donor for a significant profit. And earlier this week, the Chicago Tribune reported that multiple Schock donors were directly involved in a 2014 property deal in which the congressman paid one donor for a commercial property, and then took out out a mortgage for that property from a bank run by other donors.

When Rep. Shock was first elected in 2008, he was the youngest member of congress. He is currently the third youngest.

In another development, the ex-girlfriend and fund raiser for convicted felon former Rep. Michael Grimm (R-NY11), was sentenced to three months in jail. Diana Durand, 48, plead guilty last September to violating campaign finance law. Despite the recommendation of the prosecutors for no jail time, Federal Judge Sterling Johnson Jr disagreed.

Ms. Durand pleaded guilty in September to using straw donors to illegally contribute more than $10,000 to Grimm’s 2010 congressional campaign. Kaplan had asked for no prison time, noting that she’s the single mother of a 16-year-old son.

Prosecutors did not object to that request, but U.S. District Judge Sterling Johnson Jr. had other plans Tuesday.

“This is a very perplexing case, as all sentences are,” he said, adding, “I think that a custodial sentence is necessary.”

Johnson gave no other explanation for the sentence — three months, followed by a year of supervised release and a $10,000 fine. Ms. Durand is slated to surrender to U.S. Marshals in Texas, where she lives, on May 1.

Ms. Durand was also accused of giving illegal funds to Rep. Shock. Nor does this bode well for Mr. Grimm who is to be sentenced June 10.

Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner (R) has five days to notify the county clerk of the vacancy and the state must hold a special election for Rep. Snock’s empty seat within 115 days. The special election for the NY-11 vacancy is May 5.

Ah, the young ans the restless.

On This Day In History March 18

This is your morning Open Thread. Pour your favorite beverage and review the past and comment on the future.

Find the past “On This Day in History” here.

March 18 is the 77th day of the year (78th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 288 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1766, the British Parliament repeals the Stamp Act

After four months of widespread protest in America, the British Parliament repeals the Stamp Act, a taxation measure enacted to raise revenues for a standing British army in America. However, the same day, Parliament passed the Declaratory Acts, asserting that the British government had free and total legislative power over the colonies.

The Stamp Act of 1765 (short title Duties in American Colonies Act 1765; 5 George III, c. 12) was a direct tax imposed by the British Parliament specifically on the colonies of British America. The act required that many printed materials in the colonies be produced on stamped paper produced in London and carrying an embossed revenue stamp. These printed materials were legal documents, magazines, newspapers and many other types of paper used throughout the colonies. Like previous taxes, the stamp tax had to be paid in valid British currency, not in colonial paper money. The purpose of the tax was to help pay for troops stationed in North America after the British victory in the Seven Years’ War. The British government felt that the colonies were the primary beneficiaries of this military presence, and should pay at least a portion of the expense.

The Stamp Act met great resistance in the colonies. The colonies sent no representatives to Parliament, and therefore had no influence over what taxes were raised, how they were levied, or how they would be spent. Many colonists considered it a violation of their rights as Englishmen to be taxed without their consent, consent that only the colonial legislatures could grant. Colonial assemblies sent petitions and protests. The Stamp Act Congress held in New York City, reflecting the first significant joint colonial response to any British measure, also petitioned Parliament and the King. Local protest groups, led by colonial merchants and landowners, established connections through correspondence that created a loose coalition that extended from New England to Georgia. Protests and demonstrations initiated by the Sons of Liberty often turned violent and destructive as the masses became involved. Very soon all stamp tax distributors were intimidated into resigning their commissions, and the tax was never effectively collected.

Opposition to the Stamp Act was not limited to the colonies. British merchants and manufacturers, whose exports to the colonies were threatened by colonial economic problems exacerbated by the tax, also pressured Parliament. The Act was repealed on March 18, 1766 as a matter of expedience, but Parliament affirmed its power to legislate for the colonies “in all cases whatsoever” by also passing the Declaratory Act. This incident increased the colonists’ concerns about the intent of the British Parliament that helped the growing movement that became the American Revolution.

Late Night Karaoke

The Daily/Nightly Show (Opera)

Poo Mountain

Larry has left no clue, not even on Twitter, what the heck tonightly’s subject is.  Thanks for nothing Larry.


Jim and Artie would not approve

This Week’s Guests-

When last we saw Amanda Seyfried, Cosette was pledged to Marius, Eponine was dead, and Jean Valjean was dying to be welcomed in heaven by Anne Hathaway and pretty much the whole massive body count of Paris.

Remember Rule #3 of Opera– “Everyone must die, hopefully in an ironic and gruesome way.”

She’s a big fan of taxidermy (eew) with a baby horse, a fox, an owl, a moose, a goat, a hybrid deer, and butterflies in her collection.  She’s probably on to talk about Ted 2, another in a long list of movies I will never watch except by accident.

Andrew Cockburn’s 2 part web exclusive extended interview and the real news below.