Monday, May 31, 2010

Kass: Joe Sestak affair isn't a scandal, just embarrassing Chicago politics

Sestak affair an embarrassment but no scandal

Obama, White House giving Chicago politics a bad name

John Kass

May 30, 2010

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Some of you will probably accuse me of smoking that last stash of primo Hopium trimmed from the Happy Obama Chia head in my office.

Once my head clears, I might accuse myself, too, but only after I search my scalp for the probe with which White House media guru David Axelrod sucked out my brains.

But the thing is, I must agree with the Obama White House in the matter of this Joe Sestak patronage scandal.

There's no scandal, despite the hopes of Republicans and some journalists.

"If I ever thought anything had been wrong about this, I would have recorded it," U.S. Rep. Sestak, the Pennsylvania Democrat, said in a Friday news conference.

He was talking about that conversation with former President Bill Clinton, who'd been sent by White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel to entice Sestak out of the Pennsylvania Democratic Senate primary and clear the field for Sen. Arlen Specter.

Specter, for decades a Republican with a spine of boiled okra, realized his own party couldn't stand him. So he flipped, became a Democrat, and gave President Barack Obama the all-important 60th vote in the Senate to stop Republican filibustering.

Obama wanted to protect Specter. And Clinton carried the message: Sestak could remain in Congress and take a fancy appointment to a presidential advisory board.

"I heard President Clinton say the words 'presidential board' and that's all I heard," Sestak said, "… and either intelligence or defense. I wasn't interested. I said no."

Sestak defeated Specter and is his party's nominee for the Senate.

But where's the scandal? It wasn't a payoff, because the advisory appointment wasn't a paying job.

White House counsel Robert F. Bauer wrote in a memorandum that all they were offering Sestak was another way to serve the public.

"There have been numerous, reported instances in the past when prior administrations — both Democratic and Republican, and motivated by the same goals — discussed alternative paths to service for qualified individuals also considering campaigns for public office. Such discussions are fully consistent with the relevant law and ethical requirements."

Naturally, this didn't satisfy Rep. Darrell Issa, a Californian who is the leading Republican on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. He has already found the Obama guys guilty.

"The White House has admitted today to coordinating an arrangement that would represent an illegal quid pro quo, as federal law prohibits directly or indirectly offering any position or appointment, paid or unpaid, in exchange for favors connected with an election," Issa said Friday.

It's possible the law could be read that way, and that someone is vulnerable to a misdemeanor charge. It's also possible that the Hopium might be wearing off and my brain might be regenerating, that is, if Axelrod sucked out only my frontal lobe with a straw.

But I'm not changing what's left of my mind. Leave Obama alone on this one. The poor guy's got enough to worry about, between the oil spill, the two Koreas, Afghanistan and Iraq, the economy and immigration.

So let him relax in Chicago this Memorial Day weekend, perhaps hosting a backyard barbecue, where he can grill while wearing a "Hail to the Chef" apron, or if the Daleys come over, maybe one that says "Kiss me, I'm Irish."

Offering a spot to an ambitious young politician to protect an old servile weakling isn't new. Presidents do it, governors do it. Big-city mayors really know how to do it.

If anyone from the Obama White House is to be embarrassed or perhaps even slapped over this business, it should be Bauer for using the phrase "alternative paths to service" to gloss over a political deal to protect the quivering Specter.

But there is one scandal here. A terribly embarrassing scandal at that:

It's scandalous when a bunch of politicians from Chicago — home of patronage abuse and trained by the Daleys — recruit former President Clinton to dangle a job before a congressman and fail.

What's next? Will Emanuel stop swearing like a truck driver? Will Clinton wall himself off in a monastery?

There are plenty of other jobs they could have offered Sestak, from Water Reclamation District commissioner to city sewer inspector. These are real political jobs. The applicant does little or nothing and collects a salary and a great pension. And Axelrod and Emanuel know it.

They spent years in Chicago learning how to play. If there are two guys who know about patronage, it's these two.

Axelrod was (and still is) a mouthpiece for Mayor Richard Daley. He honed his dark arts by channeling the minds of eager and pliant journalists in Chicago to paralyze enemy candidates.

He even wrote a Tribune op-ed piece published in August 2005 extolling the virtues of ham-fisted Chicago-style political patronage, just before Daley's patronage chief was convicted and ultimately sentenced to prison.

And Emanuel, formerly the U.S. representative of Illinois' 5th Congressional District, is also a direct beneficiary of patronage. To install him in Congress, the Daleys sent him an illegal patronage army of hundreds of political workers led by the corrupt city water boss, Don Tomczak, who later went to prison.

But offering "alternative paths to service" isn't a crime in my book.

It's just old-fashioned politics. Only difference is, it's now practiced by the president who promised to transcend the broken politics of the past.

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  • COMMENTS (61) | Add Comment

    Even David Axelrod LAST WEEK said on CNN with John King that there was no evidence (this was BEFORE the Bauer memo came out on Friday) of a job being offered, and, if such an offer were made, it would constitute "a serious breach of the law."

    Going back for MONTHS on this, the White House via Robert "George Costanza" Gibbs has been stonewalling on this issue. It isn't trivial.

    gwrudmin (05/31/2010, 7:14 AM )

    Here's the statute, Mr. Kass. There's no mention of the job being offered a job with pay. Why didn't you did the MINIMUM amount of research before writing your column? The White House broke the law. Don't you remember that we are a nation of laws and not of men?

    TITLE 18 PART I CHAPTER 29 " 600
    " 600. Promise of employment or other benefit for political activity

    Whoever, directly or indirectly, promises any employment, position, compensation, contract, appointment, or other benefit, provided for or made possible in whole or in part by any Act of Congress, or any special consideration in obtaining any such benefit, to any person as consideration, favor, or reward for any political activity or for the support of or opposition to any candidate or any political party in connection with any general or special election to any political office, or in connection with any primary election or political convention or caucus held to select candidates for any political office, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than one year, or both.

    gwrudmin (05/31/2010, 6:26 AM )

    unlike some here who bring Reagan up to basically say that since Reagan got away with it, that Obama should, too.
    Mike7000 (05/29/2010, 7:51 PM )
    Nice false equivalency Mikey, but nope, not at all what the reality based community is saying. We are saying that repiglicans are only outraged when a Democrat does these things. It is as if the repiglicans only pay attention to news when Democrats are running things. This applies to the past, present, and future, presumably. The hole repiglican platform is fear, scorn, contempt and outrage. If they can't push those buttons, they have nothing else, so they pretend to b outraged by something a Democrat does. Tell ya what. Let's let this go where it goes, and if there are any convictions, we'll go about stripping Ronny Rayguns name off the airport, ship, highway, government building, etc. After all, if this is bad behavior, we shouldn't be honoring a man that did it himself.

    I_heart_Schadenfreude (05/30/2010, 6:51 PM )

    Copyright © 2010, Chicago Tribune

    Posted via web from Brian's posterous

    Sunday, May 30, 2010

    At least 21 wounded in separate shootings, 1 dead - Chicago Breaking News

    One of the shootings happened about  3 p.m. in the 6200 block of South Cottage Grove in the Woodlawn neighborhood. A 56-year-old man was standing on the corner when a passing car fired in his direction, said Police News Affairs Officer Laura Kubiak. He fell to the ground in pain and discovered he was shot in his calf, Kubiak said. He was taken to an area hospital and listed in good condition.

    About 8:10 p.m. in the 2900 block of North Milwaukee Avenue in the Logan Square neighborhood, a 47-year-old man was shot in his arm.  Police said the shooting might have been a drive-by. The victim was taken to Norwegian-American Hospital and is now listed in good condition.

    In another shooting, which happened roughly 20 minutes earlier in the Ashburn neighborhood, a man, 19, was wounded in the leg in the 3900 block of West 79th Street outside Bogan Computer Technical High School. He was taken to Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn and is now listed in critical condition.

    A little earlier, about 7:30 p.m., a 17-year-old boy was standing on the sidewalk on the 7400 block of South Evans Avenue when he heard shots and felt pain. He was hospitalized with a gunshot wound to the upper right side.

    Two people were shot at about 6:45 p.m. in the 8400 block of South Muskegon Avenue, but both told conflicting stories, said Kubiak.  

    An 18-year-old gang- affiliated man suffered a graze wound but refused treatment. He said he was walking in the 8400 block of South Escanaba Avenue when a suspect walked up and shot him, police said. The other victim, 19, told a different story. He said he was driving when someone pulled up and began shouting gang slogans and shot into his car, police said. He drove himself to Advocate Trinity Hospital where he was treated and released.

    Police could not locate either victims for interviews after the shootings, Kubiak said.  

    Earlier Saturday at about 11 a.m., a 25-year-old man was shot on the 5300 block of South Laflin Street. He was wounded in the arm and hospitalized.Police said the Laflin shooting appeared to be gang-related, but witnesses were giving conflicting accounts of the event.

    Nearby that shooting, a 19-year-old man was shot in the head at about 12:28 a.m. today  in the 5100 block of South Laflin Street, police said. He was pronounced dead at 1:10 a.m., said Police News Affairs Officer Hector Alfaro.

    About two minutes later, a 28-year-old man was shot in the Roseland neighborhood in the 10500 block of South Corliss Avenue, police said. He was taken to Roseland Community Hospital with a gunshot wound to his right calf and was described as in "stable" condition.

    At the same time on the Southeast Side, three more people were shot as the sat on a porch in the 9200 block of South Blackstone Avenue, said police News Affairs Officer Laura Kubiak. One victim, a 25-year-old man was taken in critical condition to Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn. An 18-year-old man was taken in "stable" condition to Advocate Trinity Hospital. Another victim, 27, was treated and released from Trinity with a graze wound to his arm, police said.

    About 15 minutes later, a 16-year-old boy was shot in the 1500 block of East 67th Street. He was taken in critical condition to Northwestern Memorial Hospital with a gunshot wound to his arm.

    On the West Side at about 12:15 a.m., two people were shot in the 3900 block of West Gladys Avenue, police said. A 24-year-old man was taken to Mt. Sinai Hospital in stable condition with a graze wound to his head. A 19-year-old woman also was taken to the same hospital. She was listed in stable condition with a gunshot wound to her neck.

    About 2 a.m. in the 10800 block of South Racine Avenue, two people were shot while they sat in a parked vehicle, police said.

    One victim, a 43-year-old man, was shot in the chest and taken to Advocate Christ Medical Center where he is now listed in critical condition. The other victim, 22, was shot in the shoulder and is listed in stable condition at Roseland Community Hospital. Police said the 22-year-old is gang affiliated.

    Both men were shot by a passenger of a gold-colored 4-door car, police said.

    Four people were shot at about 3:15 a.m. in the 9100 block of South Marshfield Avenue, said Police News Affairs Officer Ron Gaines. The four vctims were taken to area hospitals, he said. There was no immediate information available about their ages or conditions.

    No one is in custody for any of the shootings. Calumet Area, Harrison Area and Wentworth Area detectives are investigating.

    -- Deanese Williams-Harris



    Posted via web from Brian's posterous

    Saturday, May 29, 2010

    Advertisement of the Request for Proposal for School Community Watch Services Phase II, Specification # 10-250035

    ---------- Forwarded message ----------
    From: Holloway, Craig A <>
    Date: Fri, May 28, 2010 at 8:35 AM
    Subject: Advertisement of the Request for Proposal for School Community Watch Services Phase II, Specification # 10-250035
    To: "Holloway, Craig A" <>




    The Board of Education of the City of Chicago (the “Board” or “CPS”) invites the submission of proposals from community-based organizations (“Proposers”) that wish to provide School Community Watch Services Phase II (“Services”) to the Board. The Board reserves the right to (i) select one or more Proposers to provide the Services outlined herein; (ii) reject any and all proposals; (iii) accept portions of the proposals from one or more Proposers; and (iv) identify any areas where a conflict of interest may require limitations on a Proposer.


    An organization may propose either as a joint venture or independently as a single Proposer, but not as both. However, two (2) or more organizations may submit proposals as a prime contractor(s) and subcontractor(s) relationship.  In the event of such an arrangement, the Board reserves the right to reject any subcontractor and accept only the prime contractor.  The Board will not accept a subcontractor and reject the prime contractor.  If a subcontractor wishes to be considered separately for a portion of the Services, such organization should submit a separate proposal. A “partnership”, “joint venture” or “sole proprietorship” operating under an Assumed Name must be registered with the Illinois County in which it is located, as provided in the Assumed Business Name Act (805 ILCS 405.0.01, et. seq.).


    Proposals must be submitted both in hard copy and in electronic form. Proposals shall be submitted in sealed envelopes or packages. The outside of the envelope must clearly indicate the name of the project ("School Community Watch Services Phase II"), the time and dates specified for receipt (10:00 A.M Thursday, June 17, 2010), and the name and address of the Proposer.


    Where proposals are sent by mail to the Chief Purchasing Officer, the Proposer shall be responsible for their delivery to the Chief Purchasing Officer before the advertised date and hour for the receipt of the proposals. If the mail is delayed beyond the date and hour set for the proposal receipt, proposals thus delayed will not be considered and will be returned unopened. Proposer shall bear all cost of responding to this proposal. 

    Downloaded Solicitations

    The RFP and accompanying attachments are available for download from the Board’s web site at:


    Proposers who download the solicitation document waive their right to have clarifications and/or addenda sent to them.  Such Proposers are responsible for checking the web site for clarifications and/or addenda.  Failure to obtain clarifications and/or addenda from the web site shall not relieve such Proposers from being bound by additional terms and conditions, the clarifications and/or addenda, if any, or from considering, additional information contained therein in preparing their proposals.  Note that there may be multiple clarifications and/or addenda.  Any harm to a Proposer resulting from such failure shall not be valid grounds for a protest against award(s) made under this RFP. 


    Addenda to this RFP:  If a Proposer is in doubt as to the true meaning of a part of this RFP, a written request for interpretation thereof may be submitted to the Chief Purchasing Officer.  Any revisions of this RFP deemed necessary by the Chief Purchasing Officer will be made only by an addendum issued by the Department of Procurement and Contracts prior to the due date of this RFP.  A copy of any such addendum will be e-mailed or faxed to each Proposer receiving this RFP.  Failure on the part of the Proposer to receive any written addenda will not be grounds for withdrawal of a RFP.  Proposer must acknowledge receipt of each addendum issued on the RFP Execution Page.  Oral clarifications offered by any Board employees will not be binding on the Board.



    Pre-Submittal Conference


    A Pre-Submittal Conference will be held on Thursday, June 10, 2010, at 10:00 A.M. Central Standard Time, at Chicago Public Schools, 125 S Clark St., Chicago, Illinois 60603. This conference will allow attending Proposers to ask questions and to learn more about the Board environment and the Services described herein. The conference is optional but recommended and all Proposers (who have registered) will receive a copy of any materials that were distributed. Please bring a business card with an e-mail address to the Pre-Submittal Conference.


    Questions regarding the RFP process should be addressed to:


    Opal L. Walls, Chief Purchasing Officer

    Board of Education of the City of Chicago

    Department of Procurement and Contracts

    125 S. Clark Street, 10th Floor

    Chicago, IL 60603


    ATTN: Craig A. Holloway, CPPB

    Tel. (773) 553-2903

    Fax (773) 553-2281



    Questions may be submitted in writing via e-mail only and received by 12:00 p.m., Tuesday, June 8, 2010. Questions received by the deadline will be answered at the Pre-Submittal Conference. The written clarification will also be posted on the Board’s web site at:



    Late questions will not be answered.





    Posted via email from Brian's posterous

    Wednesday, May 26, 2010

    Apple Dethrones Microsoft As World's Biggest Tech Company

    SEATTLE — Apple has surpassed Microsoft as the largest technology company in the world by market capitalization.

    Apple's move comes as the company's iPhone, and now its iPad tablet computer, have taken on more of the personal computing tasks once handled by computers running Microsoft's Windows operating system and other programs.

    Market cap is the dollar value of a company's outstanding shares. On Wednesday, Apple Inc.'s shares slipped $1.11 to close at $244.11, making its market cap about $222 billion.

    But Microsoft Corp.'s stock fell $1.06, or 4.1 percent, to close at $25.01, for market cap of about $219 billion.

    The only U.S. business with a higher market value is Exxon Mobil Corp. The oil company's market cap is about $279 billion, based on Wednesday's closing price of $59.31.

    (This version CORRECTS the spelling of Exxon Mobil)

    Get HuffPost Technology On Twitter, Facebook, and Google Buzz! Know something we don't? E-mail us at

    Posted via web from Brian's posterous

    Mobile Giving



    The Mobile Giving Foundation brings the power and reach of mobile phones to nonprofit organizations as a new fundraising and donor interaction mechanism. Through the Mobile Giving Foundation, non profits can leverage the ubiquity of mobile without the complexity, expand and cultivate a new base of givers and create permissive donor interaction.


    Our goal is to enable the “mobile channel” for charitable giving in support of good causes by using the convenience, security and ubiquity of text messaging and other wireless network based billing systems. Nonprofit organizations will find mobile to be an effective channel for new donor acquisition, fund raising and donor interaction.  Donors will find the use of mobile to be convenient, immediate, private and secure.  Merging philanthropy with the power of the mobile medium serves the broader objective of expanding the pool of contributors to include those who might only be able to afford to make a small gift through a $5 or $10 charge collected through their wireless bill.  Donors can immediately respond to a mobile call to action whether it is delivered at point of sale, on television, via print, etc.  100% of each donation is remitted directly from the wireless operators to the Mobile Giving Foundation, which in turns gives 100% to the recipient charity.

    The Mobile Giving Foundation operates in the US and Canada, and serves global charitable interests by:

    • Provide the organizational element that enables charitable giving across wireless carrier platforms
    • Be responsible for compliance with all federal and state laws and regulations
    • Develop, manage and keep standards for participation
    • Certify non profit participation and giving campaigns
    • Manage assigned short codes to be utilized by charities for mobile giving
    • Act as billing settlement and records clearinghouse between carriers and participating charities
    • Issue the donor receipt
    • Conduct research on the demographics of mobile giving and optimizing mobile giving campaigns
    • Increase awareness among the general public about the “Mobile Philanthropic Channel”

    Posted via web from Brian's posterous

    Haiti: The SMS donation tipping point - Mobile Marketer - Columns

    Haiti: The SMS donation tipping point

    January 28, 2010

    Alan Pascoe

    Alan Pascoe is senior manager of product marketing at Tekelec

    By Alan Pascoe

    The charitable response to Haiti earthquake relief efforts has shown the best of people�s generosity and their urgency to meet survivors� needs.�

    This outpouring has also revealed the best of telecommunications companies, which have expedited donations to organizations, eliminated surcharges to subscribers and charities, and revealed the power of SMS donations.

    find a job for you

    The numbers are staggering.

    The American Red Cross alone had collected more than $25 million through $10 text donations.

    During National Football League games on Jan. 16-17, the Red Cross said text-message donations reached $500,000 an hour.

    Also, the Mobile Giving Foundation processed up to 10,000 text messages per second at peak giving times in the earthquake�s aftermath.

    So far, more than $35 million have been collected through SMS donations.

    Text donations here to stay
    The technology story behind the humanitarian and financial stories is that SMS-based donations have unequivocally arrived. Nonprofit campaigns will now make mobile giving as routine as phone and online donations for several reasons.

    First, text-based donations are the perfect way to engage many contributors. This method eliminates the need to disclose financial or personal data, providing an inherent trust in the system about identity theft or being placed on yet another marketing list.

    SMS also is the fastest course of action. A donor spends less than 30 seconds to contribute, without enduring telephone hold times or having to complete an online form.

    Moreover, billing is accurate, with the amount pre-determined and the process using wireless carriers� infrastructure.

    In addition, organizations can see immediate results from their campaigns.�

    Many donors respond immediately to aid requests.�

    For example, public service announcements aired on Fox, CBS and national radio broadcasts before and during NFL playoff games, and on the NFL Network and ESPN pregame shows, driving the $500,000 hourly results.�

    Marketers dream of that level of correlation between their message and the results.

    Fine-tuning needed
    As with most new systems, some improvements are needed. Carriers are already addressing the first: shrinking the pass-through window to more quickly deliver money to charities.

    Though this typically is a 90-day gap, many carriers have sent money immediately to the Red Cross and other relief agencies due to the urgent need. Long term, however, this window needs to shrink to no more than a 45-day processing timeframe.

    Another hiccup that arose was the difficulty that some prepaid users experienced in making a donation, even if they carried a sufficient balance.

    Because premium text messages fall under a separate billing category, some subscribers have been blocked from contributing.�

    Next steps
    The Haiti texting relief efforts have set a precedent for future giving.�

    The impressive collections, rapid distribution and ease of use will benefit the Red Cross and all organizations relying on donations for years to come.�

    Furthermore, this will also jump-start other groups to unite around specific causes.�

    Political parties will raise funds for candidates, sports teams can solicit donations for their sponsored charities with in-stadium ads, and universities can include texting as part of their next fundraising activities.�

    As Haiti donations have shown, a timely need combined with an easy way to donate equals dramatic results.

    Alan Pascoe is senior manager of product marketing at Tekelec, Morrisville, NC. Reach him at .

    Posted via web from Brian's posterous

    Government, nonprofits adopting mobile touch Web faster than commercial companies: Study - Mobile Marketer - Res

    Government, nonprofits adopting mobile touch Web faster than commercial companies: Study

    By Rimma Kats

    April 13, 2010

    More than five in six households have a mobile pho

    She's touched

    Government and nonprofit organizations are outpacing commercial companies in developing creative uses and services for the mobile touch Web, according to Taptu.

    The study shows how organizations get users to access information and content while on the go. Additionally, religious organizations are the most active of all, making up 72.5 percent of the 13,600 mobile touch Web sites in the category.

    �The key finding of the study is that although nonprofits, government agencies and charities are typically slow to adopt new technologies due to budget and personnel constraints, these groups are adopting the mobile touch Web for many purposes,� said Jason R. Harris, community manager at Taptu, Portland, OR.

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    �We found them eager to hop on the touch Web in order to get the word out, raise funds and connect with mobile Web users who have touchscreen devices,� he said.

    Taptu�is a mobile search engine that lets consumers explore mobile touch Web sites, applications, images and the real-time Web.

    Quick adapters
    The study found that charities are using mobile donation portals to streamline the fundraising process, which mirrors the continued development of mobile commerce.

    In addition, colleges and universities are creating virtual campuses to promote student engagement, improve pastoral care and provide mobile access to learning resources.

    �For marketers, they need to know that the touch mobile Web is a very cost-effective channel for marketing goods and services,� Mr. Harris said. �Applications for specific phones are costly to build and only allow an organization to target a very specific audience.

    �For example, an iPhone app only targets 15 percent of United States smartphone sales and 9 percent worldwide,� he said. �A touchfriendly Web site allows you to target all platforms including iPhone, BlackBerry, Android and Nokia.�

    Mobile touch findings
    Taptu found that local government agencies are providing access to public transport routes and schedules.

    Health care organizations are providing information about medical issues, locations and real-time care via the mobile touch Web, letting patients in any geographical location get medical information and care.

    Additionally, the central government lets citizens pay their taxes and contact political representatives using the service and museums let visitors check open times, read about�current and future exhibits, and access information and maps while on site.

    The military also uses the mobile touch Web to let service personnel stay connected and access real-time news and other military information and resources while away from their computers.

    According to Taptu, government and nonprofit organizations are usually under limited financial budgets and should prioritize their mobile spending efforts.

    �Touch phones are growing in popularity,� Mr. Harris said. �The touch phenomenon is only growing to strengthen with time.�

    �With all this fragmentation of differing platforms, one thing remains constant: the touch Web,� he said. �Each of the platforms mentioned above all have Web browsers and can act as the great equalizer for marketers and brand advocates.�

    Posted via web from Brian's posterous

    The Last Hold Out: Senator Blanche Lincoln Against 13 Bankers « The Baseline Scenario

    The Last Hold Out: Senator Blanche Lincoln Against 13 Bankers

    with 18 comments

    By Simon Johnson

    By now you have probably realized – correctly – that “financial reform” has turned into a victory lap for Wall Street.

    When they saved the big banks, with massive unconditional support (both explicit and implicit) over a year ago, top administration officials promised they would be back later to fix the underlying problems.  This they – and Congress – manifestly have failed to do.

    Our banking structure remains unchanged, the rules will be tweaked at the margins, and the incentive and belief system that lies behind reckless risk-taking has only become more dangerous.  (The back story, if you can still stomach it, is in 13 Bankers).

    There is only one small chance for any sensible progress remaining – and you are about to see this crushed in conference by the supporters of unfettered big banks.

    Senator Blanche Lincoln’s proposal with regard to derivatives has much to commend it.  A fiduciary duty for swaps dealers vis-à-vis customers would be entirely appropriate – in fact long overdue.

    Real time price reporting should also help regulators at least begin to understand what is driving market dynamics, for example around the May 6 “flash crash” – a point that Senator Ted Kaufman has also been making most forcefully.

    Legal authority against market manipulation would be greatly strengthened and there would be more protection for whistleblowers.   And the kind of transaction that Goldman entered into with Greece – a swap transaction with the goal of reducing measured debt levels, effectively deceiving current and future investors, would become more clearly illegal.  All of this is entirely reasonable and responsible – and completely opposed by the most powerful people on Wall Street.

    Of course, most of the anti-Lincoln fire has been directed against the idea that “swaps desks” would be “pushed out” to subsidiaries – i.e., the big broker-dealers could still engage in these transactions, but they would need to hold a great deal more capital against their exposures, thus making the activities significantly less profitable. 

    It is striking that while Treasury argues that increasing capital is the way to go with regard to financial reform, they are adamantly opposed to what would amount to more reasonable capital levels at the heart of the derivatives business.

    This is beyond disappointing.

    No doubt the administration feels good about what it has “achieved” on financial reform.  The public aura of mutual congratulation will last for about three weeks.

    But outside of the inner White House-Capitol Hill bubble, it is very hard to find anyone well-informed about the financial system who thinks that anything substantial has changed or that risks will be better managed as we head into the next cycle.

    “Business as usual” is the abiding legacy of the Obama administration with regard to the systemic risks posed by this financial system.  Treasury and White House let us down repeatedly and completely in the last 18 months on financial sector issues – just as they did (as decision-making bodies and as some of the same individuals) at the end of the 1990s.

    At one point in early 1998, Larry Summers called Brooksley Born – the last person who really tried to rein in the dangers posed by derivatives (and it was a much lower level of danger then compared with now).  Summers reportedly said, “I have thirteen bankers in my office, and they say if you go forward with this you will cause the worst financial crisis since World War II.”

    We now seem to have come full circle to exactly the same people saying exactly the same things – no doubt top people in the administration are now calling Senator Lincoln and impressing upon her a version of the same point made by Summers to Born.

    The 13 bankers have won, completely.  Here we go again.

    Written by Simon Johnson

    May 26, 2010 at 7:26 am

    Posted in Commentary

    Tagged with

    18 Responses

    Subscribe to comments with RSS.

    1. Nothing more to say.


      May 26, 2010 at 7:44 am

    • This answers the question about how empires crumble… the powerful elite convince “the public” that their lecherous ways are good for everyone. It will work for awhile, until the the music stops, and the ’13 bankers’ all scramble to sit in a chair, only to find they are all gone. unfortunately, their demise is ours as well….


      May 26, 2010 at 8:05 am

    • “…and if there’s one place where you can redefine yourself, one place where your relevance is a deal away, it’s Wall Street” – the new normal


      May 26, 2010 at 9:18 am

    • If there are other candidates who are stronger on bank and finance reform (Kaufman, Bernie Sanders, Jeff Merkley, Carl Levin, Maria Cantwell) I won’t be voting for President Obama in 2012. If he is going to handle the most crucial issue for our country in a superficial way I have no time for the man anymore.

      I’m finished with this administration. Excuse time is over.

      Ted K

      May 26, 2010 at 8:01 am

    • I agree 100% with Ted K.

      Game over Obanksta!


      May 26, 2010 at 8:06 am

    • Look at this imbecile and what he’s saying now. Have you ever seen anything so pathetic??? Oh yeah Timmy, they’ll be changing that exchange rate tomorrow. MORON!!!

      Ted K

      May 26, 2010 at 8:07 am

    • I also want to thank you for your book and this blog. Keep up the good work!


      May 26, 2010 at 8:07 am

    • Lincoln is running ads bashing the bankers. Conveniently, her runoff happens the DAY BEFORE FinReg is supposed to be reported out of conference. If she wins, she can simply backpedal. If she loses, oh well.

      c smith

      May 26, 2010 at 8:15 am

    • Yes. Thanks for your hard work Simon.

      It has been strange and awful, paying such close attention to all this over the past two or three years.


      May 26, 2010 at 8:18 am

      • Ditto. Thank you for being the chronicler for this disaster of mankind. Yes, the people will be in the streets and not just in NY.


        May 26, 2010 at 10:53 am

    • It would be wonderful to see Brooskley Born come out in support of Senator Lincoln and expose the players and events one more time. Greenspan has been shown to be a misguided player. Couldn’t she expose Summers as well?

      If the derivative reform does not go through, Obama’s fate is sealed. We can begin calling him Mr. “O” Jangles. He is only dancing to the tune of Wall Street. He will not survive. Sites like this will continue to expose the folly that has been perpetuated.

      No more lobbyists. – What an absolute joke.


      May 26, 2010 at 8:26 am

    • I guess this isn’t the stuff of a million-person gathering in Washington, but that is what is sorely needed right now.


      May 26, 2010 at 9:49 am

    • And what exactly led any of us to expect any different outcome?


      May 26, 2010 at 9:49 am

    • The Center for Advancement of the Steady State Economy is working to have a sustainable alternative ready when global economy crashes. I read about it a few days ago in a comment on this blog, and you can, too, at


      May 26, 2010 at 10:02 am

    • “O” Jangles is a bit racist. How about OBush, or Bush III?

      I’d like to unseat Obama, too, but who would we vote for? I don’t fancy Rand Paul.


      May 26, 2010 at 10:06 am

    • Dear Prof. Johnson,

      In your book « 13 Bankers » (I posted a book review of mine in my blog) you notice that in the long term the most effective constraint on the financial sector is public opinion. How should be the public opinion encouraged and supported? What is to be done ? Which means and resources do we need ? Can you supply some arguments please ?

      @ James Kwak : James, did you get my interview request per email ? Thanks.

      Cezmi Dispinar

      May 26, 2010 at 10:51 am

    • “The 13 bankers have won, completely.”

      Does that mean you’ll finally pack up your ill-informed nonsense and go home? 


      May 26, 2010 at 10:53 am

    • Our government be it an economic, financial, or industrial disaster has responded along the following lines

      “We will take the necessary steps to ensure that this never happens again”

      In reality nothing happens, and every time another disaster happens we find the regulators are filled with people from the industry they are meant to regulate, and both parties have taken gobs of cash from corporations

      The crash of ’29 nobody prosecuted and jailed although congress did pass strong legislation

      Savings and loans – Neil Bush fined $50,000, cost to taxpayer $1.3 billion

      Iran contra – most of the players pardoned by BUSH senior

      NIXON – Pardoned by FORD

      Buffalo Creek Flood – 125 people killed, 1000 injured, 4000+ homeless – Toothless investigation. The governor of Virginia settled for 1 MILLION DOLLARS

      Martin County Sludge Disaster – MASSEY fined $5,000 and later that year gave $100,000 to the NATIONAL REPUBLICAN Committee

      Sago Mine Disaster – 13 Killed. Bush filled Regulation Agency with people from ENERGY INDUSTRY

      Upper Big Branch Mine – 29 dead – So far no criminal prosecution

      07/08 Financial Meltdown – Nobody prosecuted. Financial Reform toothless and does not protect the people


      May 26, 2010 at 10:53 am

    Posted via web from Brian's posterous

    Thursday, May 20, 2010

    Off-duty Chicago police officer killed in robbery attempt - Chicago Breaking News


    Wortham, of the Englewood Police District, had just finished his second tour in Iraq, according to police sources and Ald. Freddrenna Lyle (6th). He was 30 and single, and had been on the force for three years, according to Supt. Jody Weis.

    Only five days ago, Wortham had attended a memorial at  the Capitol in Washington, D.C. for police officers killed in the line of duty last year. He was active in working against crime in his neighborhood and nearby Nat King Cole Park, where he was the Cole Park advisory council president.

    Wortham had ridden his new motorcycle to his parents' house near 85th Street and King Drive Wednesday night to show them pictures from the memorial, Lyle said.

    Wortham's father watched from the door as Wortham left and got on his bike about 11:25 p.m., the alderman said.

    The father saw at least two men get out of the Nissan and try to steal the motorcycle, according to Lyle and police.

    The father grabbed his gun and came to his son's aid, sources said. In the exchange of gunfire, Wortham was shot several times and two of the three suspects were wounded, authorities said. Retired police officers are allowed to keep guns, officials said.

    The two other robbers fled in the Nissan Maxima onto the Dan Ryan Expressway and headed north, police said.

    "This is a tragedy. This young man survived two tours in Iraq, and came home and got murdered on the streets in front of his house that he grew up in," said Lyle, who has known the officer and his family for years. "In front of his father, it's just unbelieveable."

    "When they talk about the good die young, this is the perfect example. He was nice. He was mannerable. He was polite."

    Weis said police had located a vehicle that witnesses reported fleeing from the scene.

    Early this morning, the body of one of the suspects lay in the street near the scene of the attack, a few feet away from a motorcycle parked in the middle of the street. He was covered by a white sheet.

    The dead suspect was identified as Brian Floyd, 20, of the 3700 block of South Wentworth Avenue.

    About 12:30 a.m., a woman screaming "That's my baby, that's my baby" was escorted to a police car. Police said she was the mother of one of the suspects.

    The other suspect and the officer were taken to Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn, said Chicago Fire Department spokesman Kevin MacGregor. Wortham was shot more than once.

    The shooting took place in the Chatham neighborhood, across the street from Nat King Cole Park. As president of the park's advisory council, Wortham had been trying to find ways to combat violence in the neighborhood.

    "He was part of a group of residents concerned about the park," Lyle said. "They were working on trying to make sure things went on as they should. He was there all the time. We were getting ready to have a community event this Saturday. ... I don't think we'll have it now.

    "After the last shooting in the park (in late April) we were going to take back the park on the first 80 degree day. That was this week. We are not going to give up the park to the thugs. The residents were going to converge there with lawn chairs."

    Neighbors said the officer had attended Brother Rice High School. His father, they said, is also a military veteran.

    King Drive was blocked off from 87th to 84th this morning as police continued to investigate the shooting.

    Dozens of officers -- some in blue uniforms and vests, some in plainclothes, some in green uniforms -- worked around a single-story brick house on the northeast corner of King and 85th. Some of them carried rifles.

    Also on the scene were two mobile command centers and at least a dozen marked and unmarked police cars and SUVs.

    Several neighbors gathered on the street, discussing the shooting and the recent rash of violence at Nat King Cole Park across the street from the house.

    "It's unbelievable," said neighbor Elliot Powell, who has lived near the Worthams for 29 years. "This used to be a quiet neighborhood."

    Powell said he was at home Wednesday night when he heard what sounded like firecrackers.

    "I just heard, 'pow, pow, pow,'" said Powell. "Then I ran to the front window and saw two people lying in the street and Wortham's father pacing up and down."

    Nancy Termon, who lives with her husband Ron Ernest down the street, said she heard at least six shots.

    "I got up and put on my jeans and looked out the window," Termon said. "I was kind of scared because it was so loud being just across the street."

    Termon said she saw a man wearing a white shirt lying on the street. "I said, 'Oh my God, somebody's laying on the ground,'" Termon said.

    Ernest said violence seems to have taken over the community. "It's an urban terror," he said.

    Termon said she does not let her two grandchildren play at Cole Park, where a group of people were shot about a month ago.

    Termon and Ernest said they were too shaken up to go to sleep as they headed back inside to warm up.

    Another resident, who lives on Vernon, said there have been at least three recent shootings at the park and his mother was carjacked a few weeks ago.

    By about 4 a.m., police cars were lining streets between Christ Medical Center and the medical examiner's office, as Weis and others escorted the officer's body to the office. Nearly 100 vehicles, most of them police cars, were part of the procession.

    This is the second officer from the Englewood District killed in the last year. Officer Alejandro "Alex" Valadez was killed in the line of duty last year.

    "The entire district is just reeling right now," said Lt. Maureen Biggane, a police spokeswoman.

    Officials from the Independent Police Review Authority is investigating the shooting, said Curtis Travers, a spokesman for the agency which looks at all police involved shootings.

    -- Serena Maria Daniels, Liam Ford, Jeremy Gorner and Annie Sweeney


    Posted via web from Brian's posterous

    Is This the Most Powerful Man in Sports?: Profiles: GQ

    Auburn Hills, Michigan, November 2004. William Wesley, a middle-aged mortgage broker, runs onto the court to shield Ron Artest from a uniformed police officer wielding a can of pepper spray. Artests teammates are trading haymakers with fans; coaches and referees are struggling to restore order. The mortgage broker lunges forward and throws his hands in the cops face, and in the next instant, Pacers teammates Austin Croshere and Reggie Miller rush to restrain Artest. Through a tempest of tossed soda and popcorn, Wesley moves on to shepherding the Pacers Jermaine ONeal on the court. Once in the tunnel, ONeal breaks free, but Wesley wraps him in a bear hug and drags him to the locker room.

    Two years later, when I ask Reggie Miller about Wesleys presence on the court, hell say: What the hell is he doing out there in the middle of all that? I mean, what is he doing? He has no business out there! He injects himself into the middle of everything!

    Others werent quite so surprised to see William Wesley—or Wes, as hes known—in the middle of the fray. At any given time, if you look at any sporting event, theres a very good chance youre going to see Wes, says NBA analyst David Aldridge. Over the years, Wes has been spotted hugging Jerry Jones on the field after a Cowboys Super Bowl win, high-fiving University of Miami football players after a national championship win, and embracing Joe Dumars after the Pistons won the NBA Finals. Hes been spotted sitting next to Jay-Z at the NBA All-Star Game, with Nike czar Phil Knight at the Final Four, and trolling the sidelines of Team USA practices in Las Vegas and Japan. People who really know Wes, says superagent David Falk, Wess longtime friend, know that hes one of the two or three most powerful people in the sport.

    In his March 2005 ESPN Page 2 column, the well-known basketball writer Scoop Jackson wrote, I believe Phil Knight is the most powerful man in sports next to Wes Wesley. Eight months after Jacksons column, New Jersey-based basketball journalist Henry Abbott mounted an obsessive open-source investigation on his blog, TrueHoop, that brilliantly illustrated how, if you look closely at the various forces at work in basketball at every level of the sport—the AAU programs that funnel players to college programs, the agents looking to land players as early as NBA rules allow, the shoe companies, coaches, franchise owners, front-office executives, players—it eventually dawns on you that they have one thing in common: William Wesley.

    So why have you never heard of him? Whenever I told journalists, players, agents, and NBA executives the subject of this article, the common reaction was an amused chuckle and then Good luck. Very few people, even Wess friends, are able to describe his role. Chicago Sun-Times writer Lacy Banks recalls his confusion upon meeting Wes twenty years ago: I thought he worked for the Secret Service or the FBI or the CIA. Then I thought he was a pimp, providing players with chicks, or a loan shark or a bodyguard or a vice commissioner to the league. The few people who know what Wes is really up to arent talking. And thats the way Wes likes it.


    Many of the stories circulating about Wes are sensationalistic: He was a guest at Frank Sinatras funeral. He worked as an operative for his close friends Bill and Hillary Clinton. Spike Lee is planning a movie about his life. Of all the rumors, the movie seems to make the most sense, because the story of how William Sydney Wesley, the child of a middle-class family from southern New Jersey, turned himself into Worldwide Wes is such a perfect realization of the modern American dream—full of old-fashioned wheel-greasing, hustling, and social climbing—that it feels like it was written for the big screen.

    The story begins in the early 1980s at Pro Shoes, a lunchbox-sized store in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, that serviced hoops stars from all over the Delaware River Valley—from local high school stars to 76ers like Darryl Dawkins and Doug Collins. William Wesley, age 16, was the preternaturally suave salesman who knew all about the clientele. He knew the pro players from TV, and he knew the high schoolers from bumping shoulders with them on the court—there was Leon Rose, the crafty point guard from Cherry Hill East, and those two juggernauts from Camden named Billy Thompson and Milt Wagner.

    Wes was my best friend, Wagner says. My whole career, he followed me everywhere I went.

    In 1981, Milt headed to Louisville, where he made three trips to the Final Four and won a national championship. In 1987, when Milt went on to the Los Angeles Lakers, Wes was there, too, taking it all in, learning that young men, as they make the transition from college to the NBA, have needs. If a player needs a custom-clothing designer, Wes can help you with that, Banks says. Need a hairstylist who knows how to do complicated cornrows? Wes can do that.

    In 1989, Kenny Payne, one of Milts former Louisville teammates, introduced Wes to fellow 76er Rick Mahorn, who in turn gave Wes a job as the doorman at his Cherry Hill nightclub, a favorite bump-and-grind spot for Phillys pro athletes. It wasnt long before Wes was running the place.

    Recalling that early period, 2 Live Crew frontman Luther Campbell tells me, My claim to fame is that I took Wes on his first flight on a jet. We went to the NBA All-Star Game, we went to the University of Miami games, we went everywhere. We were at a Mike Tyson fight in Atlantic City, and Wes took me back into the casino vault! With the money! You only get to go back there if youre an employee or youre one of the boys. I said, Oh, my God! Who the hell are you, Wes? Whatd you do? And Wes said, I just know everybody.

    Wess big break came in the late 1980s or early 1990s, when Milt Wagner put him in a room with Michael Jordan. Jordan ended up giving Wes a job at his basketball camp. After that, according to Lacy Banks, Wes just popped up out of nowhere. Youd see him in locker rooms, courtside at games, in the hotels, restaurants, everywhere. By late 1993, Wes had taken up residence in Chicago. Being close to Jordan and the Bulls was good for business.

    Chicago is where Wes became friends with, among others, the Clintons, Phil Knight, and Reebok exec Tom Shine. He made allies in the media, providing inside information and facilitating interviews with difficult-to-reach stars, and he gained a reputation as a trustworthy adviser/fixer for at-risk athletes. I know of a particular NBA player who got into a staggering gambling situation, says Shine. The people this guy lost money to, they were not nice guys. Wes saved him from getting killed.

    In 1997, when Allen Iverson was arrested for possessing marijuana and a concealed weapon, Wes stepped in to clean up the mess. According to Reebok executive Que Gaskins, Iversons constant companion during that period, After Allen got in trouble, Wes called to check in on us and make sure we had the right resources and the right people to get in touch with. He was very close with Billy Hunter [head of the National Basketball Players Association] and wanted to make sure that if Allen wanted his voice heard, he and Billy had a conversation.

    Numerous sources also told me that Wes played a significant role in mediating peace between Iverson and his coach, Larry Brown. One well-circulated anecdote tells of Wes urging A.I. over speakerphone to quit bitching and get his ass to practice. Coaches around the league took notice of the sway Wes had with players. Put it this way, says Cleveland Cavaliers coach Mike Brown. If I have a problem and I need an outside influence, I know I can call him. We talk all the time.


    In 2001, Wess godson and Milts son, Dajuan Wagner, was the consensus best high school basketball player in the world. If Dajuan had entered the NBA draft after his junior year at Camden High, he might have been the number one pick. But Wes persuaded him to let the NBA wait and spend a year or two playing for John Calipari at the University of Memphis. The deal came with plenty of strings attached: Wes made it clear to Calipari that Dajuan was more inclined to sign with a school that also gave a free ride to his best friend, Arthur Barclay, an all-state player whod been passed over because of poor test scores. (Done.) Then Milt, despite lacking a college degree, was hired to be Memphiss head of basketball operations. When news of the deal leaked out, the media crucified Calipari, painting it as nothing more than legalized graft. Wes answered accusations that something shady had gone down, saying, Man, Ive heard the second-guessing. Its simple: Juanny needed to improve his defense and prove that he can play on the next level. Coach Cal can help him do that. What do I have to gain by him going to Memphis?

    Wes had been managing Dajuans career since the boy was 11, and so when it came time for Dajuan to head to Memphis, Wes went along. After only one season—in which Dajuan averaged twenty-one points a game—Calipari called Milt and Dajuan into his office. I tore up Dajuans scholarship in front of him to make sure he understood he wasnt coming back, Calipari says. Dajuan was ready for the NBA. The Cavaliers selected him in the first round of the 2002 draft, and as Dajuan made his move from college to the pros, Wes was there to ease the transition. In his first year, Dajuan was among NBA rookie leaders in scoring, assists, and minutes played.

    Injuries and illness derailed Dajuans career after a few seasons, but Wes already had another, more lucrative reason to stick around Cleveland: Less than an hour away, in Akron, a teenage phenom named Le-Bron James was capturing imaginations.


    My first in-the-flesh glimpse of Wes is through binoculars during halftime of a Cavaliers game at Quicken Loans Arena as he stands on the end line kibitzing with Cavs GM Danny Ferry. With the break winding down, Wes shakes Ferrys hand and starts walking up the sideline, stopping along the way to man-hug security guards and high-five ball boys. His seat is center court, first row, next to a brunet in a tight pink T-shirt. He sits back, arms folded across his chest, legs extended. Every couple of minutes, he plucks a cell phone from a belt holster; sometimes he has a phone pressed against each ear. When LeBron slashes to the hoop and throws down a two-handed slam, I detect a trace of a grin. Otherwise, he remains expressionless.

    Earlier in the week, when the Toronto Raptors were in town, I spotted LeBrons agent, Leon Rose, a close friend of Wess from back in the Pro Shoes days. (Rose also happens to be Wess attorney.) Ten years ago, Roses client list consisted of the itinerant scrub Rick Brunson and a handful of foreign players. Then, in 2002, seemingly out of nowhere, Rose somehow bagged Dajuan Wagner and Allen Iverson. Soon after, he was hired by Richard Hamilton. And then, in 2005, he landed the most desired client in the world, LeBron James.

    Rose is coy about his relationship with Wes, but according to many sources, its no coincidence that nearly all of Roses clients are Wess nephews. LeBron James was 15 when Wes started attending games at Akrons St. VincentSt. Mary. Wes befriended Eddie Jackson, LeBrons surrogate father, then became acquainted with LeBrons family and eventually won over LeBron himself by introducing him to his idol, Jay-Z.

    But Leon Rose never formally entered the LeBron sweepstakes. Ultimately, West Coast agent Aaron Goodwin won the right to represent him. His first order of business was structuring more than $120 million in endorsement contracts before LeBron ever set foot on NBA hardwood. Still, Goodwins hold on LeBron was tenuous. Wes tells me everybody had a hunch the relationship wouldnt last. Goodwin has a history of being fired by superstar clients. And although Wes was already acting as LeBrons adviser, insiders speculate that he was really seeking to pry the young star from Goodwin: In 2003, Wes moved into an apartment just across the hall from LeBrons downtown-Cleveland digs.

    Two years later, in May 2005, LeBron severed ties with Goodwin. (Wes insists that he had nothing to do with the decision.) And two months after that, LeBron hired Leon Rose.

    Although they missed out on the millions in commission money that Goodwin pocketed from LeBrons endorsements, the benefit to Wes and Rose was astounding. (Wes denies any financial quid pro quo with Rose.) Rose recently brought his practice to the Hollywood talent agency CAA, putting at his disposal multifaceted promotional services and nearly unlimited resources. And his sudden clout was showcased during the first round of the 2006 NBA draft, when the New York Knicks selected six-foot-eight-inch swingman Renaldo Balkman, a pick that caused ESPNs Chad Ford to say, Renaldo Balkman?… He averaged fewer than ten points per game…. No other team wouldve taken him in the first round…. Wow. Greg Anthony called the selection of Balkman befuddling and later hypothesized that Isiah Thomas had selected Balkman and Temple University guard Mardy Collins because both were clients of Leon Rose, and that taking these players in the first round might help them in the pursuit of free agent LeBron James.

    A month later, LeBron signed a three-year contract with the Cavs. And the Knicks still suck. But the implication was out there: Leon Rose has the power to influence the NBA draft and the larger marketplace.

    When I present this theory to David Falk, he stops me and says, Leon Rose doesnt have any clout. Wes has clout.


    As I stand outside the locker room last December, a Cavs media liaison grants me five minutes with LeBron for a postpractice chat. Can you describe your relationship with Wes? I ask. Friend? Adviser? Both? What kind of advice does he provide? What services?

    He looks down at me and says softly, Hes a great guy. I met him a few years back. Hes been a great role model to me. I can only say good things about him.

    As a role model, I ask, whats he in your ear about?

    He adjusts the giant silver earphones fixed above his temples and says, Thats kind of personal information, honestly. Whats said, what goes on with, you know, our family, stays with our family. But as far as him being a good person—hes always been good to me. Hes never asked me for anything. Hes always been trustworthy to me, and I respect him for that.

    Hes never asked me for anything. According to Reebok executive Tom Shine, Wes doesnt have a hidden agenda, unlike a lot of other people in the grass roots and the college- basketball business and the agent business and all of the other businesses that attach themselves like barnacles to these players. Luther Campbell: He doesnt come on as no salesman. You know, Wes never asks for nothing. John Calipari: Why would a pro player shun everybody else but bring this guy into the fold? Because he never asks for anything.

    He never asks because the players already provide him with what he needs most: access. Wess relationships with the NBAs elite players give him access to the owners and general managers of every team in the league. (Not to mention agents, media, and corporate execs.) In 2004, Reebok sent Wes to Athens with Team USA to manage Allen Iverson. Wes stayed in the players quarters on the Queen Mary 2, placing him in close proximity to LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Carmelo Anthony, and other superstars. He was granted access to Team USA practices and functions that were off-limits to players families and entourages during last summers World Championships, landing him alongside twenty-three other players Leon Rose covets. (Wess presence caused quite a commotion. As Henry Abbott reported on TrueHoop, Two independent sources confirm that one, if not more, NBA agent was livid at USA Basketball for letting William Wesley into closed sessions with the young and impressionable stars of Team USA. Its an agents worst nightmare to have someone like that hanging around your player in a closed session.) Nike also provides Wes with access to the nations premier prep players at their summer basketball camps. And access to these kids means access to college coaches. William Wesleys world is integrated to the max. Working for nobody allows him to work for everybody.


    Whats it like to meet William Wesley? Whats it like to be sucked into his vortex of power and connectivity? In January, Henry Abbott sends me the phone number for a man named Gregory Dole. Dole, he says, has a story he wants to share. A story that will tell me what its like to meet William Wesley.

    Dole lives in Brazil, where he works as a basketball coach and scout. In the winter of 2003, he tells me, he accompanied a then unknown Brazilian guard named Leandro Barbosa to the States. Barbosa, who spoke not one word of English, was determined to play in the NBA, so Dole arranged showcases with a number of NBA teams. Their tour passed through Cleveland, where they met Ron Harper—a fifteen-year NBA veteran and longtime friend of Wess. After seeing Barbosas highlight tape and declaring that the 20-year-old Brazilian was good enough to play in the NBA, Harper invited Barbosa and Dole to watch the Cavaliers take on the Knicks. When the game was over, according to Dole, We were chatting with Ron and LeBron and his crew, when this guy makes a beeline for Leandro. Wes knew everybody else in the group, so he made a point of getting to know who we were. He peppered us with questions: Who was Leandro? Where did he play? He found out we were visiting from Brazil and joked, Im going to come to Brazil, and I want you to organize for me to have sex with a different woman every day. Then Wes said, I want you to meet my close friend Allan. Allan was former Knicks star Allan Houston. Barbosas knowledge of the NBA was limited. He knew about Michael, Magic, and Larry. But Allan Houston? Dole leaned in and told him about Houstons seven-year, $100 million contract. Barbosa, who was making $3,000 a month in Brazil, was awestruck. Before long, Barbosa and Dole were sitting in the back of Wess Mercedes.

    Wes asked Barbosa who his favorite player was.

    Michael Jordan, Barbosa said.

    Wes activated the keypad on his steering wheel. And in an instant, the cars speakers filled up with the sound of a ringing phone. No answer. But then a voice: Michael Jordan asking the caller to leave a message. Dole had no clue who Wes was, but he and Leandro were blown away. The show was on.

    What kind of music do you like?


    Wes pounded away at the keypad, there was the sound of a phone ringing, and this time there was an answer. Jay-Z. He and Beyoncé were working late in the studio. There were a few moments of conversation, and Leandro attempted to sing Jay-Zs hit song Hard Knock Life. Beyoncé laughed. Jay-Z laughed.

    Wes called Nikes global director of basketball, Lynn Merritt. He called Scott Perry, director of player personnel for the Detroit Pistons. Barbosas going to be a big star, Perry said.

    Then Wes drove them to Blue Point Grille, one of Clevelands finer restaurants, where, according to Dole, he boasted about how hed arranged Dajuan Wagners contract with Nike and pressed Barbosa on his business dealings.

    Which sneaker companies are courting you?

    Reebok, Adidas, And-1.

    And-1 is no good, and stay away from that three-stripe shit. Nike and Reebok are the best. Whos your agent?

    Dole said hed set Leandro up with a small-time guy named Michael Coyne. Wes just scoffed.

    On our way out of the restaurant, Dole told me, Wes said, See that man over there? Hes the president of the Cleveland Browns. He just paid for our dinner. Lets go say hello. 

    William Wesley is the best MySpace page in the NBAs universe. Get on his friends list and just like that youll be introduced to Le-Bron, D-Wade, Carmelo, Jay-Z, Phil Knight, Michael Jordan. Youll be connected to heads of industry, politics, and entertainment. Youll be given a key to the club. Youll be taken care of. But mainly, if youre a middling agent from New Jersey or a 15-year-old kid from Akron or a 20-year-old unknown from Brazil, what William Wesley offers is pretty simple: He can pluck you from obscurity and turn you into a (very, very wealthy) somebody.


    I know what its like to meet William Wesley. In Cleveland I had attempted to dive headlong into his world, but he spit me out. So I fly to Detroit the day after Christmas to try to talk to Wes again. When he struts through the security door of the Palace, home of the Pistons, I nod at him, trying to get his attention. He stops. How you doin?

    All right. All right.

    Where you from, again?


    Ive been hearing about you. That youve been misleading people. Asking a lot of questions about me. Im not a story. Im just a nice guy. Im not powerful; thats a myth.

    I think you are—

    Telling people that youre writing a story about one thing and then asking a lot of questions about me. Hes angry that Ive been looking into his association with high school players. Thats a land mine you sittin on, boss.

    You going to be around this week?

    Nah. Im out of here.

    We should talk.

    And then his tone changes. From slightly annoyed to confrontational. Why should I talk to you? You should have come to me first.

    I wanted to do my homework first.

    If youve done your homework, then youll know that theres a lot of sensational stuff out there. Im not going to talk to you now. He turns and begins walking away, then he stops, spins on a heel to face me. He extends a finger in my direction and says, Because the moment you write one wrong thing…


    The Nike Super 6, a mid-January extravaganza of high school hoops staged at the Worlds Most Famous Arena, is exactly the type of event that Wes marks on his calendar. Its a chance for the next generation of superstars to put their talent on display in front of a crowd of thousands. Rick Pitino is here. Rumor is that John Calipari is in attendance. And Wes is here, too, seated courtside between a man named Reggie Evans and Eric Goodwin, the muscle-bound brother of LeBrons former agent, Aaron Goodwin. Its surreal to see Wes sitting next to Goodwin; by all accounts he loathes Wes. Between games, Wes mockingly waves to me.

    This afternoons main attraction is one Derrick Rose, a six-foot-three-inch blisteringly fast point guard from Chicagos Simeon Career Academy. Journalists and insiders who have followed Roses career also noted Wess presence on the sideline of Derricks AAU games last summer. Roses college choices came down to Memphis, Illinois, and Indiana. One journalist told me, When I saw the list, I knew Derrick was going to Memphis. The prediction was correct.

    When I talk to John Calipari, he says it makes sense that Wes would recommend Memphis to Derrick Rose. Its the right fit, he tells me, and then adds, Wes is a goodwill ambassador to our program.

    In addition to Rose, another of Wess nephews is showcasing his talents this afternoon: Tyreke Evans, Reggie Evanss brother. Scouting service ranks Evans among the best juniors in the country. Its easy to see why: Even when hes warming up, Tyreke has a stunning array of pull-up jumpers and fallaway jumpers and leaners and floaters. At one point, Tyreke stops to show Wes some love. By the fall, Tyreke will decide on a college, maybe UNC, U Conn, Louisville, Villanova, or Memphis.

    Tyreke was 12 when Que Gaskins took notice of him at a basketball tournament. His coach hardly let him play, so Que and Allen Iverson started an AAU team called the Raiders. And Tyreke was the star. When his brother Reggie started believing the hype that Tyreke was NBA material, Que reached out to Wes: They had so many people coming at them, and they were so green. They needed somebody who had the wisdom, a surrogate uncle who wouldnt have any vested interest in seeing Tyreke succeed or fail—would just do it out of love. Wes said to Que, Send him to me. You know Uncle Wes got it.

    I like to call Wes a school without walls, Que says. He describes Wes connecting young players with their role models, guys like A.I. and LeBron. Theyve already gone down that path. Theyve already made a lot of the mistakes that a kid like Tyreke is going to make. He gets the truth directly from their mouth. What kid wouldnt be motivated? What kid wouldnt want to work hard?

    Tyreke dominates the second half of the game, finishing with thirty-three points and six assists. Its a good day for Wess nephews, and there are better days to come. Chances are good that a year from now, after one season at Memphis, Derrick Rose will be an NBA lottery pick. And a year after that, Tyreke Evans will follow suit. For now, though, Tyreke stands at center court, gripping his MVP plaque, trying not to blink at the flashbulbs. Wes stands five feet out on the court in a circle of people. A few feet away, Reggie Evans stands on the Garden floor, too, with his hands in his pockets, taking in the moment. Wes drapes an arm over Reggies shoulder and pulls him closer. I think I can read Wess lips: Come here. Theres somebody I want you to meet.

    Alex French is a GQ researcher.


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