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November 2009


When did it become OK to screw the customer?

Would you pay $5.66 for a can of Pepsi? A can. Not a bottle.  Not a liter.  We're talking a mere 24 ounces of the brown gooey goodness.  And $5.66 is what McCormick Place charges its vendors for each can of pop they want delivered to their booth during trade shows.

For all of the talk of labor costs, hotel rates, and cut-rate deals being offered in Las Vegas and Orlando... sometimes it's the simple stuff that has the biggest impact on perception. It did for folks in the plastics industry.  They are the ones who brought the high price of pop to our attention, just before they decided to move their trade show to the Sunshine State after decades in the Windy City. 

Twice in three weeks, we gave those who operate McCormick Place the opportunity to defend the high price of pop.  Finally, CEO Juan Ochoa pulled out the old chestnut: "it's the industry standard." If your kid came home with a tattoo on his neck and a piercing through his nose and offered the "everyone else is doing it" rationale, it would suggest a child in need of discipline and common sense.  Same goes for the fine folks trying to lure conventions to Chicago.   

Perception matters.  While I may not know what it costs to install wide-spectrum reverse lighting on a holiday weekend, I do know what a can of pop should cost. And so do people contemplating holding their next convention in Chicago.


Contraband in the Clink

Spent a few hours inside the Cook County Jail today.  Corrections officers find a ton of contraband in cells, things ranging from weapons to pornography.  A few weeks back imagine my surprise when a Sheriff's employee sent me a photo they found when searching a cell in one of the roughest units of the jail.  I suppose it's further proof ABC 7 really is Chicago's # 1 news!

CH 7 at jail


Caught on an Alderman's Wire?

Alderman Ike Carothers wore a wire.  When that news came out several months back it caused more than a few of Carothers' City Council colleagues, not to mention those in the business of making deals with City Hall, to search their memories.  What did I say to him? Was it being recorded? Could anything come back to hurt me?  I asked myself those exact same questions.

A year or two ago I was covering what we refer to as a "dog and pony show."  It was a news conference at McCormick Place where Mayor Daley talked up new security systems while surrounded by law enforcement types.  When the event was over, my photographer and I got separated and there wasn't a taxi to be found. Just then Alderman Carothers pulled up in his city-owned Crown Victoria and offered me a ride back downtown.  

No doubt we talked about Daley, exchanged the latest gossip and conspiracy theories, and perhaps even cracked a few inappropriate jokes.  Truth be told, I only have a vague recollection of what we talked about.  And that's what gnaws at me every time I read a new headline revealing new details of the secret recordings Carothers made: Was anything I said caught on tape?

My brother doesn't own land in Carothers' ward and I don't have a cousin with a concrete business in Bridgeport so I didn't broker any illegal deals with the Alderman in our short ride downtown.  However it's still unsettling to think federal agents may be playing and replaying tape recordings of private conversations.  If it's an unsettling feeling for me, imagine how the real back room dealers feel.


103 floors??? No sweat!

I hope you'll consider climbing to the top of the Sears/Willis Tower with me on Sunday morning, November 15th to benefit the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago. Come on! It's only 2,109 steps! We'll finish on he Skydeck where you can check out the new "Ledge" glass box that gives you a view straight down the side of the skyscraper. 

We're working on a live remote from the stair climb that morning...so we can all put our sweaty selves on TV!  More info and to register: www.skyrisechicago.org