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November 22, 2014 / jeffnward

Jeff Ward roasts the Sheriff!

Please forgive the shaky video work, but my wife was a bit under the weather and a bit too far away from the stage. That said, the sound quality is just find and who wants to see my made-for-radio face anyway?

Now, you’ll finally understand why I’ve been hiding in my crawl space for the last three days! Enjoy!

November 22, 2014 / jeffnward

A tip of our hat to Jim Romenesko!

We here at The First Ward want to thank media blogger Jim Romenesko for including our irreverent How do you make a small fortune in the newspaper business in his Friday Morning Report! Jim was the inspiration for the piece which explained what Tribune and Sun-Times executives really mean when they issue all sorts of platitudes.

RomeneskoIf you don’t read Jim’s blog you really should because, while we do it occasionally, he does his damndest to keep the media honest 24/7. And there’s always something fascinating to read there, like the Tribune’s sudden reversal on their inane new time off policy.

Thank you Jim! Those extra hits are greatly appreciated.

November 21, 2014 / jeffnward

A proper sendoff for the Sheriff!

To all the people I offended last night:

  • The Sheriff
  • The Chief Judge
  • The State’s Attorney
  • The Chairman
  • Dawn Barsanti
  • All of the Sheriff’s Deputies
  • All of the attorneys
  • All white people
  • All black people
  • All Hispanic people
  • TR Smith
  • The entire Perez family
  • Karen McConnaughay
  • Joe Arpaio
  • Kim Kardashian
  • Willie Mayes
  • The Latin Kings
  • Elgin Police Chief Jeff Swoboda
  • Kevin Williams
  • Dave Wagner
  • Pat Gengler

I want you to know that I meant every word of it.

roastActually, I want to thank Pat Perez for putting me up there on the roasting dais with some of the finest law enforcement officers known to man. And I also want to thank everyone there for being such good sports – especially the Sheriff.

You really have to give Janet Ardelan and Pat Gengler an incredible amount of credit for putting together the kind of sendoff worthy of our departing lawman. The food was great, the roasters were great, and the serious speakers did a great job too.  Everyone had a great time, especially me!

As soon as we figure out how to get my roasting session video off of my wife’s phone, I’ll put it up here!

November 20, 2014 / jeffnward

Here is your November 20, 2014 Left Right and You fix!

We talked about the current crop of Elgin City Council hopefuls, we talked about the surprising treasurer’s race, we paid homage to the late Chicago Mayor Jane Byrne.

Larry and I want to thank former LR&Y co-host and current Kane County Deputy Republican Chairman Allen Skillicorn for calling in and enlightening us as to the lengths some cities are going to undermine the current FOIA laws.

skillicornWe also want to thank Pete for calling in with yet another cogent point.

Enjoy the show!

November 20, 2014 / jeffnward

The November 20th edition of Left, Right and You is…

… on the way!

Today, Larry and I will be talking about the best mayor the City of Chicago ever had, the late, great Jane Byrne! Say what you will about here, but she beat the machine (before rejoining them) and she was never boring.


Then we’ll move on to the recent assault on FOIA laws from Carpentersville to Rosemont and the attempted resurrection of an anti-FOIA bill in the current Springfield veto session. I’ve filed FOIAs and Larry had to respond to them and we both agree the statute should not be weakened. Former LR&Y co-host Allen Skillicorn may just call in with an interesting observation on this one!

Time permitting, we’ll also cover conspiracy theories and how – especially political conspiracy theories – are rarely are worth the virtual paper they tend to be printed on.

We’re looking forward to your calls at 847-931-1410 too.

That’s Left, Right and You with Jeff Ward and Larry Jones from 3 to 4 p.m. today on WRMN AM1410. Don’t miss it!

November 20, 2014 / jeffnward

How do you make a small fortune in the newspaper business?

You start with a large one!

According to an SEC filing, when Tribune Publishing picked up those 38 Sun-Times suburban properties late last month, they paid $23.5 million for the privilege. Meanwhile, back in 2000, the Sun-Times paid Copley Newspapers $120 million just for the Beacon-News, Courier-News, Naperville News-Sun, and the Joliet Herald-News.

If you extrapolate that kind of loss across the newspaper board, it comes out to an astonishing 90 percent decline in value in just 14 years. That’s what you call a depression folks! The sad thing is, there was a time when owning a newspaper was a license to print money.

To be fair, despite all their flowery fourth estate proclamations, in the end, a newspaper is nothing more than just another business. But even with that caveat clearly stipulated, I can’t help but feel the platitudes coming out of both camps are the height of disingenuosity – which I’m pretty sure isn’t even a real word.

CT-BIZ-TRIBUNE_CTMAIN 0712 SROf course, the massive irony is, those words are being issued by the very folks whose staff would leap on a faltering company’s doubletalk like a leopard on a wounded wildebeest. So with that thought in mind, please allow me to employ my vast journalistic experience and exceptionally accurate BS-O-Meter (also not a word) to translate some of these bromides back into the common vernacular:

Tribune CEO Tony Hunter: “We’re thrilled to add these great iconic titles to the Chicago Tribune Media Group.”

Translated: “After being spun off from the main company with a $350 million debt parting gift, we had to do something to appear to still be relevant. We also wanted to distract folks from our most recent corporate suicide attempt consisting of doubling our print subscription rates.

Wrapports Chairman Michael Ferro: “This transaction allows Wrapports to focus on our international digital strategy and to financially strengthen the Chicago Sun-Times.”

Translated: “If we didn’t get a quick infusion of cash we were finished. Since we don’t have AOL money in reserve, we needed something to pursue our digital strategy which mirrors the failed Patch experiment and doesn’t stand a chance in hell of succeeding.”

CEO of Tribune Publishing Jack Griffin: “This acquisition represents an important step forward for Tribune Publishing Co. and Chicago Tribune Media Group. It supports our stated strategy of leveraging our existing infrastructure, resources and management teams to drive growth for our company.”

Translated: “This is the best we could do with the paltry $50 million in cash we have on hand. In our hearts, we know that buying a bigger piece of a shrinking market can’t be called growth and it isn’t a viable business model either.”

Tony Hunter: “It’s also exciting to establish a new long-term relationship with the Chicago Sun-Times and to ink the print and distribution deal.”

Translated: “The only way we were ever going to see a dime of the vast amount of money the Sun-Times already owes us was to agree to this deal. You can’t collect a debt from a dead man.”

Tribune Publishing spokesman Matthew Hutchison: “No changes are expected and we welcome them (former Sun-Times employees) into the (Chicago Tribune Media Group) family.”

Translated: “As soon as we think no one’s paying attention anymore, we’re going to lay off two-thirds of those 150 employees because they’re redundant and salaries are our biggest single line item. And the staffers working under the old salary structure will be first.”

Jack Griffin: “We have reach in the suburbs now, but this gives us more reach, deeper reach, with really good brands that we’re acquiring.”

Translated: “The Trib-local experiment has failed miserably. This is our last shot at trying to take some dwindling market share from Paddock Publications.”

Jack Griffin: “We think it’s very rational, very sensible and it will be another good test for us and the ability to demonstrate that this kind of activity makes sense for the company and ultimately, our shareholders.”

Translated: “This move makes absolutely no sense and not even we believe a word we’re saying.”

Please note how, especially in Jack Griffin’s case, Tribune management consistently reuses the same words – “reach” and “sense” for example which, when combined with the overuse of emphasis terms like “really” and “very” are signs that someone’s being deceitful. (Please see the book Liespotting by Pamela Meyer.)

I’m not saying they’re lying outright, but they’re certainly not nearly as excited about this acquisition as they’re desperately trying to appear to be. Based on that observation, I’m willing to predict Tribune Publishing isn’t going to be putting any serious money into these suburban newspapers either.

Whatever happens, it will certainly be interesting to watch this story unfold.

November 19, 2014 / jeffnward

A few quick hits!

Sorry for the dearth of posts here lately folks! Between putting a lot more effort into the book and preparing to roast the Sheriff tomorrow night, I’ve been a busy boy. All I can say is, I have a newfound respect for comedians like Jeff Ross, Lisa Lampinelli, the late Craig Geraldo, and Amy Schumer who make roasting some poor victim look so easy.

Even though you didn’t ask, here are some of the things I’ve been thinking about:

1. Jane Byrne

She was the woman for whom the term “feisty broad” was originally coined. Between her brashness, her charm, her self-inflicted wounds, her capacity to make you laugh, her poor choices, and her love of the City of Chicago, she was the Second City’s least boring mayor.

Byrne and the "Blues"I was living in Evanston when she threw the Machine into that 1979 tizzy and the news was even bigger than Neil Armstrong landing on the moon. You can call her temporary Cabrini Green residency a publicity stunt if you want, but no male politician ever had the balls to pull that kind of thing off.

But instead of living up to her carefully crafted reform campaign image, she listened to her no-account husband, former Daily News reporter Jay McMullen, who convinced her that the only method of staving off the younger Daley was to get in bed with the very folks she beat to a political pulp. He didn’t see Harold Washington coming and heronor was gone after four too-short years.

Rest in peace Mayor Byrne, I have nothing, but fond memories of you!

2. Carpentersville

No thanks to the village and their inexplicable FOIA scofflaw ways, we finally know what happened to Joshua Paul during that August 17 traffic stop. And the only reason we know anything is because the Coroner finally released the death report.

You can read Jake Griffin’s take on the Coroner’s report right here.

Suffice it to say that, while there may be something to Paul’s proposed hyper-alcoholism induced deterioration, the fact that, after three long months, Carpentersville still refuses to answer a FOIA request deemed eminently legal by the Attorney General’s office, is clear and convincing proof that they’re still trying to hide something.

Minimally, the city council is desperately trying to skirt some serious liability issues.

I’ve spoken with a number of current and former law enforcement officers who unanimously agree this “investigation” should’ve been wrapped up in no more than 30 days. One said that sitting on it for three months and counting is completely beyond the pale.

The lessons here are, don’t drive through Carpentersville and this is why the appearance of impropriety is always worse than any actual impropriety.

3. Climate Change

Just because it’s really cold here and heavily snowing in other places, doesn’t mean that climate change is some sort of hoax. That would be like saying that just because you didn’t get any mail today, the Post Office doesn’t exist, which is exactly the kind of demented logic a remedial third grader would use.

In fact, this early cold and voluminous snow is proof that climate change continues to tighten its grasp.

Climate change symptoms consist of short term extremes within a larger long-term global warming trend. We have millions of years of atmospheric carbon dioxide levels on record and we know exactly what happens to the planet when those readings get too high. It’s simple scientific cause and effect and anyone who doesn’t believe the basic math is either not too smart, doesn’t care about their kids, or simply full of shit.

The President’s recent carbon emissions agreement with the Chinese should be lauded as one of the most important accords of our time.

4. Conspiracy Theories

Virtually never hold water.

Most of the time they’re like a harmless superstition that purports to explain something the “theorist” can’t completely comprehend. Not only that but, being the bearer of that “inside knowledge” also makes the theorist feel a greater sense of self-importance

But when taken too far, these conspiracy theories become excuses for ineffectual people (and especially ancillary players) who’ve never managed to make anything of their generally meaningless and depressing lives.

It goes something like this, “If someone of my vast significance and indelible righteousness can’t succeed, then it has to be because someone’s got it in for me/us!” Like a black president for example. That’s when these theories can get dangerous and co-opt the political process.

Let conspiracy theories go folks and live your bleepin’ lives!

And we’ll be talking about all this on Left, Right and You Tomorrow!


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