This is the 10-13-14 Edition of Left, Right and You!

Today Larry and I talked about Carpentersville and FOIAs, all of the fine candidates that came on Left, Right, and You this fine political season, and then we had a very interesting conversation with GOP 44th State Rep Ramiro Juarez. Yes! You read that correctly! A Hispanic Republican!

I’m hearing his race against incumbent Fred Crespo is neck and neck!

ramiro2And please don’t forget to tune in to the special three-hour election night Left, Right and You. The festivities kick off at 6 p.m. We’ll have Kane County Board Member Kurt Kojzarek, Tim Elenz, Daily Herald Reporter Jim Fuller and all of the numbers.

See you then!

It’s almost time for Left, Right and You!

So here’s the promo!

Today, Larry and I will discuss the current Carpentersville/Daily Herald FOIA fiasco and why FOIA laws are so important to a functioning democracy. Then, as we glide towards election day, we’ll offer a recap of all the candidates that were kind enough to come on the show. And you all know how much I like to make predictions!

juarezJust when you thought it couldn’t get any better, 44th District GOP State Rep nominee Ramiro Juarez joins us in the second half to tell us a little about himself. The truth is, you don’t get to talk to an Hispanic Republican candidate very often.

That’s Left, Right and You today from 3 to 4 p.m. on WRMN AM1410. We certainly hope you’ll join us!

Obey the law in Carpentersville? Why bother!

Carpentersville has always been an interesting proposition. There was that marvelous dichotomy known as Jack Roeser, a city councilman who beat his wife but wouldn’t resign, and that Tea Party prescient 2006 anti-immigration drive that divided the council, the city, and destroyed businesses and neighborhoods without making a dent in the crime rate.

Who can forget former Village President Bill Sarto’s legendary city council performances forever immortalized on Youtube? Then he went on to lose a county chair race to an opponent who didn’t even bother to campaign.

But despite that vast and storied history, this city’s most recent attempt to make headlines may well take the cake.

cvilleAnd this particular form of embarrassment started with the still unexplained post traffic stop death of 31 year-old Joshua Paul on August 17. For the full details, please avail yourself of DH reporter Jake Griffin’s account of what happened that day.

Fast forward to the end of August and, after the DH sought to obtain the Paul arrest report and accompanying police video via the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), citing the need for an unimpeded investigation, the City of C’ville refused to comply.

Ah! But the problem with the village board’s “legal” theory was, since law enforcement officers can only act on behalf of the people, their reports and videos, by definition (and state statute), are public records that, regardless of any ongoing investigation, must be released upon request. Refusal to do so is not an option – at least that’s what any rational person understands.

So armed with the truth, the DH turned to the Public Access Counselor (PAC), an arm of Attorney General Lisa Madigan’s office charged with the mediation of rejected FOIA requests. I’m not sure why it took ‘em nearly two months (they’ve gotten back to me much quicker), but on October 15, they ruled in favor of the Daily Herald and told Carpentersville to turn over the goods.

Not being a group to take “yes” for an answer, in a clear violation of the law, citing the same specious investigation argument, the Carpentersville village board balked again.

And they embarked upon this blatantly illegal course of action because, as every single journalist in the state sadly knows, unless the Attorney General’s office expends the precious resources required to offer a rare “binding decision,” the Illinois FOIA law ultimately has no teeth. So the DH’s only recourse is to take the City of Carpentersville to court.

And that’s exactly what they have to do!

Because if they don’t, why would any government entity honor any future FOIA request on the part of any newspaper? I hate to cast the Daily Herald as the guardian of all things journalistically holy, but you can bet your bottom dollar that every last Illinois municipality is salivating over the prospect of getting away with even more bullshit than they already do.

Not only that, but the failure to fight back will be even worse for the Daily Herald because it sets such a terrible precedent.

Let’s say I’m the City of Bartlett and I just get handed a brand new DH FOIA request. All I have to do is come up with some reasonably sounding, but worthless excuse to refuse their request and when the PAC inevitably rules against me, I’ll simply flip them the C’ville bird because I know I can get away with it.

But the worst thing is, if the DH isn’t willing to fight for this most basic of all principles, then why should we believe anything they print? Their editorials, endorsements and columns are all compromised by the fact that that we don’t know if they really mean it.

So let’s hope the DH leads the legal charge and asks the courts for punitive damages (to be donated to charity) just to make a point.

Meanwhile, if you find yourself on the wrong end of one Carpentersville’s finest, I happen to have a fantastic suggestion for you. Ignore them! Moving violation? Rip it up! Parking tickets? Toss ‘em in the trash! Code enforcer pays you a visit? Simply slam the door on him!

Don’t even bother with building permits, water bills, ambulance fees, liquor licenses, or for that matter, zoning laws. Because if seven separate Carpentersville village board members can willingly sign the following oath of office:

“I solemnly swear that I will faithfully discharge the duties of the office in accordance with the Constitution of the United States, the Constitution of the State of Illinois, and the laws of the State of Illinois, to the best of my ability.”

and then turn around and ignore the very law they swore to uphold, then so can you!

Corporations DO NOT create jobs

They never have and they never will.

On the other hand, old line Communist countries actually do create jobs as investor Jim Rogers noted in his excellent book, Investment Biker. While circumnavigating the globe on his BMW motorcycle in the early 90’s, Rogers ran into a Congolese match factory donated by the North Koreans.

The problem was that no one in the Congo knew how to make matches and their currency was artificially inflated to the point where they couldn’t competitively sell the matches even if they made them.

As Rogers described, “Every day these seven people came to work at the match factory, did nothing, took vacations for two weeks a year, and returned to do more nothing. They hadn’t made a match in 20 years.”

Oh! And governments create jobs too! Rogers pointed out that, at the time, the Congo National Airline had all of two planes and 400 employees. That sounds eerily similar to the Chicago Street and Sans department right before an odd-year election.

clintonSo if the current crop of crazy conservatives really wanna get behind their “job creators,” may I humbly suggest a Pyongyang vacation adventure or putting a poster of Richard J. Daley on your bedroom wall. You gotta admit, Hizzoner was the archetypal job creator!

But corporations? Unless you count your neighbor bringing his no-account son-in-law into the family business because he’s been fired eleven times, corporations do not create jobs – only demand does!

In the deepest darkest desperate depths of the great depression, if more people purchased your company’s products or services than they did before, you hired folks to fill the gap. At the height of the housing driven early Oughties boom, if your company saw its customers turn to your competition, then you laid people off.

It’s as simple as second grade addition and subtraction.

So with the exception of our aforementioned charitable neighbor, since labor is always the single biggest business expense, no profit seeking corporation in this vast nation will ever hire a single person beyond the minimum required to reasonably provide their product.

And the fact that conservatives completely flipped out when Hillary Clinton shared her keen perception of the obvious in this regard only shows that they’re either utterly disingenuous or not nearly as smart as they purport to be.

Personally, I’ll go with the latter.

One of my former conservative radio co-hosts would routinely pound his fist on the studio table while lamenting that if only the government were a little more light-fingered, his business would be happy to hire another employee! But despite his vociferous protests, putting more money in a business owner’s pocket never translates into hiring more staff.

Never! This ain’t the Congo! If there’s nothing for your new employee to do, then there’s no point in hiring them. Unless demand has increased, taking the tax burden off a business only means more money in the boss’s bank account.

So when Ms. Clinton explained her “corporations don’t create jobs” comment by adding, “…trickle down should be consigned to the trash bin of history. More tax cuts for the top and for companies that ship jobs overseas while taxpayers and voters are stuck paying the freight just doesn’t add up,” she was dead on.

And the fact that conservatives immediately proceeded to shrieking and howling as if another cable channel just picked up Here Comes Honey Boo Boo, doesn’t make her statement any less true.

What utterly baffles me is how the one percenters have so completely conned our generally poorer conservative compatriots into buying their line of blatantly bogus bleep. It’s gotten to the point where they’ll consistently vote against their own best interest by putting more money in their sponsors’ already bulging pockets.

Even though I don’t hold out much hope this dynamic will change anytime soon, at least we can get one thing straight. Whenever a conservative starts talking about “job creators,” remember that they’re actually referring to Communist countries and the expansion of government.

It’s the only way their argument makes sense!

The resilience of the rescue dog

Unlike her master, our 11 year-old Australian cattle dog Eve has managed to mellow with age and, considering her current comportment with other canines, we thought she might like to have a buddy. Not only that, but since my son has always wanted a cuddly pet – birds and fish tend to do neither – we started perusing Petfinder to find an adoptable doggie which is always a very dangerous thing for me to do.

Truth be told, I’m just one divorce away from turning into a crazy old dog man.

Given my good fortune with female herding dogs, I was very pleased when a one year-old border collie/Australian cattle dog mix popped up and, after she virtually leapt into my son’s lap, it was a done deal.

And let me tell you, Pharrell Williams ain’t got nuthin’ on this dog! Oreo may well be the perfect manifestation of the word “joy!” It’s an absolutely fascinating phenomenon to watch her navigate this boundless existence and it goes something like this!

Oreo 2

“People! I love people! I’m sure they’ll want to pet me. Leaves! I love leaves! They make running around in circles for absolutely no reason sound so much better. Look! It’s Eve! I’m sure she’ll play with me. What! A dirty sweat sock? Let’s grab it and run around the house as fast as we possibly can. You mean all I have to do is sit and I get treats? Wow! What could be better than that? Matthew’s home from school! Yay! A ball! Please throw me the ball and I promise I’ll go get it. Now it’s time to take a nap because I’ve managed to completely wear myself out being so happy!”

Of course, taking Oreo for a walk is a lot like dealing with an ADHD child after eating an entire bag of gummy bears and playing video games for three straight days. God forbid, she should see a squirrel! And what I really want to know is, how can a 31 pound dog so effortlessly drag a 190 pound man wherever she wants?

The amazing thing is, just one short week ago this dog was in a high kill Indiana shelter (and God knows where she was before that), then she spent a couple of days at Rover Rescue in North Aurora, and now she’s suddenly with us. Getting stuck in traffic for five minutes is often cause enough to ruin our day, but nothing seems to phase this dog.

I’m not sure if “resilient” is a strong enough word to describe her.

Eve’s still not too sure about all of this, but adding a new pack member has certainly perked her up a bit. It’s kind of fun watching Oreo follow her lead and Eve loves to come and “tell me” when the new doggie is doing something she shouldn’t be doing.

I’m sure it will be a lot of fun to watch them continue to interact and see Oreo’s true personality come out. Apparently she’s a big fan of Ritz crackers and she’s already proving to be quite the watchdog.

Now, you do have to be careful because, like that proverbial box of chocolates, you don’t know what you’re gonna get when you’re dealing with strays. That said, out of my six adoption attempts, four have worked out fabulously.

Do your due diligence! Research the various breeds and pick a dog that fits your lifestyle. Working dogs are no problem for a runner like me, but if you’re a bit more sedentary, they might just start eating your drywall.

Most shelters and rescues do a reasonable job of determining a dog’s temperament and disposition with children and other pets, but there’s no substitute for meeting the dog (or cat) of your choice – maybe more than once – and seeing how it goes.

The great thing about dogs is, unless they’ve been abused, they can’t wait to figure out how to please you and rescue dogs will be eternally grateful for having a new home. It certainly has been very difficult convincing Oreo that constant licking is not a requirement of her residency.

How often do you get to save a life?

We really are our brother’s keeper!

So I was taking the old and new doggies for a longer walk this fine gray morning, when I noticed a Sheriff’s patrol car sitting at an elderly neighbor’s front door. Fearing the worst because this gentleman lives alone in a large house, I hustled up the long driveway to be sure he was OK.

Thankfully, he saw me walking up the drive, met me at the side door, and let me know that everything was fine. “It’s nothing to worry about,” he said, “I got scammed.” I said I was relieved he was OK and that, when it comes to handling this kind of thing, the Kane County Sheriff’s office was one of the best.

He seemed relieved and went back inside to talk to the deputy.

騙す男But as I retreated back to the bike path, I suddenly remembered seeing something semi-suspicious when my wife and I walked by that very house Sunday afternoon. At the time I thought it was odd, but given that general human propensity to ascribe the best of intentions to situations that don’t make sense, I didn’t do any more than make a mental note of it.

Armed with this new information, it really bothered me that I hadn’t grabbed my cellphone and taken a picture of that previous suspicious vehicle. So I called the Sheriff’s office, told them my story, and they asked me to pop by and discuss it with the officer involved.

About a half hour later I was speaking with Deputy Chris Ruchaj, one of the nicest law enforcement officers I’ve ever had the pleasure to meet. After duly noting my suspicions, he let me know that they were dealing with a version of the grandmother scam.

For the uninitiated, this particular con consists of a predator calling an elderly victim while purporting to be their grandson in dire need of bail money. The perp never actually uses a name. They simply say “it’s your grandson” and wait for the victim to reply “Is that you Johnny?” Then they beg the “grandparent” to send them money and not to divulge this sensitive information to their “parents.”

So while I was somewhat relieved that what my wife and I witnessed likely had nothing to do with the actual scam, I did ask the deputy if he’d be willing to drive by the house and keep an eye out for a particular vehicle.

Of course, he said he would, and then he thanked me for looking out for a senior citizen. But while walking back to my car I couldn’t help but think, “Isn’t that something we all should be doing?” We all have those elderly neighbors who, despite their fierce desire to remain independent, would greatly benefit from an extra pair of attentive eyes.

It’s so easy to do and many times that’s all it takes to keep things right where they need to be. If you do suspect something like a scam, please call the Sheriff’s office because they have an entire division that deals with that kind of thing.

And you know what? From now on, whenever I see something that doesn’t seem quite right, I’m whipping out the Galaxy S3 and taking a picture. And if I happen to offend someone in the process, no worries, I’ll just add ‘em to the long list of people I’ve already managed to completely aggravate.

Apparently, the capacity to irritate people is part of my vast and boundless charm.

This is the October 23, 2014 edition of Left, Right and You!

I have to say it was fascinating to discuss JFK’s visit to Elgin with my esteemed co-host who was actually there on DuPage Street on October 20, 1960. Larry and I also want to thank listener Bob for calling in and describing that momentous event and noting the lack of Secret Service agents back in those days.

OberweisLarry and I also want to tip our hats to U.S. Senatorial candidate Jim Oberweis for taking time out of his busy campaign schedule to call into the show. I’m sure this liberal surprised a few people with his final pronouncement. All I can say is, I love politicians who are willing to evolve!

Enjoy the show!

Is it Thursday already?

If it is, that means it’s almost time for Left, Right and You! For those of you who prefer my dulcet tones, here’s k our traditional recorded promo:

Fifty-four years ago this week, John F. Kennedy proudly stood in front of the Spiess department store on Grove Avenue to address the City of Elgin. Larry and I will juxtapose his speech with our current political proceedings. While it would certainly seem that some things never change, there was something very unique about JFK.

If you were actually there for that campaign stop, we’d love to hear from you at 847-931-1410.

OberweisThen, U.S. Senatorial candidate and friend of the show Jim Oberweis will join us to discuss his drive to dethrone Dick Durbin. You’ll want to listen in on that because our 25th District State Senator always has some interesting things to say.

All that said, please join the smiling conservative, Larry Jones, and yours truly today on Left, Right and You at 3 p.m. on WRMN AM1410 because, as the promo goes, you can handle the truth!

Dave McKinney resigns from the Sun-Times

As a result of his bosses’ complete capitulation in the face of a Bruce Rauner attack on he and his wife, Sun-Times political reporter Dave McKinney resigned today. It is, indeed, a sad day for the Sun-Times and for journalism in general.

I keep trying to tell you all that most of the current newspapers wounds are self-inflicted – the Net just makes those wounds bleed more – and this scenario is certainly proof positive.

I tried to link to this resignation letter on McKinney’s blog, but since that failed after a number of tries, you can find the entire text below. In my wildest dreams I never thought I’d ever say these words, but I will be voting for Pat Quinn and I would encourage you to do the same.


Why I left

October 22, 2014

Michael Ferro
Chicago Sun-Times

350 N. Orleans St., 10th Floor

Chicago, IL 60654

Dear Mr. Ferro:

I’ve worked for almost two decades at the Chicago Sun-Times because it had a soul.

The home of eight Pulitzer Prizes, this newspaper once set up a tavern to expose graft at City Hall and later listened to a grieving mother who wanted justice for her late son after the system failed her miserably. It has stood for hard news. It has stood for independence.

The Sun-Times is stocked with dedicated reporters, editors and columnists, who work every day with integrity, long hours and not enough pay. They are more than colleagues. They are my friends. They are my family. They are the soul of the Sun-Times.

But today, I’m faced with a difficult decision due to the disturbing developments I’ve experienced in the last two weeks that cannot be reconciled with this newspaper’s storied commitment to journalism.

At issue is the Sun-Times/NBC5 report about LeapSource and its fired female CEO, a story for which I proudly shared a byline with Carol Marin and Don Moseley. The piece focused on litigation involving the former executive, who alleged Bruce Rauner, while a director of the company, threatened her, her family and her future job prospects.

With the backing of our editors and supported by sworn testimony and interviews, the piece took us nearly a month to vet, report and write. It was approved by the legal departments at both the Sun-Times and NBC5 and was posted online simultaneously with Carol’s Oct. 7 broadcast report on NBC5. It was a Sun-Times story done in the finest traditions of the paper.

Prior to publication, the Rauner campaign used multiple tactics to block it, including having campaign staffers vowing to “go over” our heads. We are accustomed to such tactics.

But what does not come with the territory is a campaign sending to my boss an opposition-research hit piece–rife with errors–about my wife, Ann Liston. The campaign falsely claimed she was working with a PAC to defeat Rauner and demanded a disclaimer be attached to our story that would have been untrue. It was a last-ditch act of intimidation.

Yes, Ann does political consulting work for Democrats. But she has not been involved in the Illinois’ governor’s race and has focused on out-of-state campaigns. She and her business partner have gone to great lengths to prevent potential conflicts of interest, including creating a legally binding firewall that prevents Ann from participating in, strategizing in, or financially benefiting from the Illinois governor’s race. For that work, her partner formed a separate corporation with its own bank account that didn’t involve Ann in any way. In January, before we were even married, I presented this information to Sun-Times management and received approval in writing to move forward.

Faced with the Rauner campaign’s ugly attack, Sun-Times Publisher and Editor Jim Kirk immediately told the Rauner campaign that this “assault” on my integrity “border[ed] on defamation” and represented “a low point in the campaign.” In other statements, Kirk called the campaign’s tactic “spurious” and “sexist.”

Yet despite such strong rebukes, two days later, I was yanked from my beat as I reported on a legislative hearing focusing on Gov. Pat Quinn’s botched Neighborhood Recovery Initiative. My reporting for that day was then removed inexplicably from the Sun-Times website.

I was told to go on leave, a kind of house arrest that lasted almost a week. It was pure hell. Kirk told me that his bosses were considering taking me away permanently from the political and Springfield beats. He offered up other potential jobs at the paper, all of which I considered demotions. Because of my unexplained absence from my beat, colleagues started calling, asking if I had been suspended. Or fired.

Through all this, I simply wanted to get back to my beat, but the paper wouldn’t let me. And, Carol and I were instructed not to contact you or Tim Knight about the Rauner campaign’s defamatory allegations.

For guidance, I called Patrick Collins, a former federal prosecutor whose name is synonymous with ethics in Illinois. His involvement brought about an abrupt shift in the company’s tone from penalizing me to reinstating me. Ultimately, the company pledged I could return to the job with “no restrictions.”

Yet, on the first day back, I was advised I shouldn’t have a byline on a LeapSource-related story “right out of the gate” even though it was a legitimate follow-up to our initial story. While later relenting and offering me a contributing byline after I protested, the newspaper had failed an important test: It was not permitting me to do my job the way I had been doing it for almost two decades.

Was all this retaliation for breaking an important news story that had the blessing of the paper’s editor and publisher, the company’s lawyer and our NBC5 partners?

Does part of the answer lie in what Kirk told me – that you couldn’t understand why the LeapSource story was even in the paper?

Days later, the newspaper reversed its three-year, no-endorsement policy and unequivocally embraced the very campaign that had unleashed what Sun-Times management had declared a defamatory attack on me.

Readers of the Sun-Times need to be able to trust the paper. They need to know a wall exists between owners and the newsroom to preserve the integrity of what is published. A breach in that wall exists at the Sun-Times.

It’s had a chilling effect in the newsroom. While I don’t speak for my colleagues, I’m aware that many share my concern. I’m convinced this newspaper no longer has the backs of reporters like me.

I appreciate the recent, public statements of support by Kirk, an honorable man with solid news judgment who got the LeapSource story into print. But, ultimately, I don’t believe he called the shots here.

We reporters have a healthy suspicion of both parties and candidates. It’s our job. It’s regrettable that this issue has emerged in the homestretch of an important election in Illinois, but respectfully, this isn’t about either candidate or the election. It’s about readers and their trust in us. So my decision could not wait. I hate to leave, but I must.

And so, it is with great sadness today that I tender my immediate resignation from the Sun-Times.
Dave McKinney

cc: Tim Knight

Jim Kirk

Wrapports board of directors

The first death throe of the Chicago Sun-Times

Yikes! Thanks to Rob Feder, word just hit the street that the Chicago Tribune is purchasing the entire Sun-Times’ suburban portfolio. That list includes the Beacon-News, Courier-News, Naperville Sun, Southtown Star, Northwest Indiana Post-Tribune, Lake County News, and every last one of the weekly Pioneer Press publications.

According to Feder, the terms of the deal were not disclosed, but the sale will be moving forward on a “very aggressive timeline” with the requisite IT shifts coming as soon as early November.

The sad thing is, this marks the beginning of the end for the Sun-Times which has been far superior to the Tribune for the last 15 years. As once explained by a former managing editor, the only reason they held on to these suburban subsidiaries so long is it allowed their accountants to spread expenses around which propped up the parent paper’s bottom line for a quick sale.

But now the Sun-Times Media Group is so desperate for cash they’re selling off these fiscal albatrosses, most of which haven’t made money for quite some time. The problem is, when you start hemorrhaging assets just to survive, it signals the inevitable end because you eventually run out of things to sell.

I suppose when you’re staring straight down into that deep dark abyss, you do whatever it takes to buy yourself a little more time.

So while I understand that thought process, what I can’t wrap my mind around is what the Tribune has to be thinking, though this certainly isn’t the first time that group has completely confounded me. Having just been spun off of the WGN empire with a $350 million debt parting gift, why on God’s green earth would they pay anything for 38 profitless publications?

Well…the Southtown Star may actually be in the black, but when you consider that entire lineup it’s hardly something to get excited about. With print media fortunes looking as bleak as ever, I can only come up with two possibilities.

The first, and least likely, is the Tribune is actually going to start pumping some real money into these suburban satellites and put them up as the new face of their abjectly mediocre Trib-Local section, which never really caught on. If that is the case, it will mark their admission that relying on Journatics for content just doesn’t work.

But like I said, given the Tribune’s vast debt and the propensity of parent papers to hang their “children” out to dry, that’s about as likely as the Illinois Republicans taking back the General Assembly next month.

So I’m surmising the Tribune will somehow fold their new assets into the existing Trib-Local framework, perhaps going as far as including the appropriate suburban paper with your Tribune subscription. Given there’s virtually nothing to it these days, I could easily see the Beacon-News coming with your Monday, Wednesday and Friday Aurora-area Tribune.

Sun-TimesThey’ll probably keep names like Phil Kadner and Denise Crosby for continuity, but the reporters and background folks who still get paid the old scale wages will slowly be sloughed off. Let’s face it, when it comes to business mergers and the inevitable jealousies involved, the folks being “absorbed” never seem to fare too well.

Aside from any redundant Sun-Times staff, the likely losers in all of this – though there are hardly any print “winners” these days – are Shaw Media and Paddock Publications who simply cannot afford the additional stress of a coherent suburban competition. If the Tribune can come up with a reasonable local paper in your main newspaper model, then it’s going to be very tough for anyone else to stem their subscriber slide.

While it’s certainly sad to see the Sun-Times slowly fade into oblivion, the fact that we’re finally seeing the first hard evidence of that end can’t come as a surprise to anyone. And even though you have to give the Tribune credit for making such a bold move, it would behoove management to pay heed to Danny DeVito’s shareholder speech from the movie, Other People’s Money.

The paragraph I had in mind is this one; “Do you know the surest way to go broke? Keep getting an increasing share of a shrinking market. Down the tubes. Slow, but sure.”