Saturday, October 25, 2014

Why I left

     


October 22, 2014
Michael Ferro
Chairman
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

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

What is Democratic Socialism

 
 
 
What is Democratic Socialism?
Socialism in its essence is a state of society in which all people work cooperatively as equals for the common good of all. In recent times people who hold this principle have been describing this principle as democratic socialism, to distinguish the principle from authoritarian and undemocratic states which have wrongly described themselves as socialist in character.
Origins of Democratic Socialism
The word socialism , as it first appeared, was used in publications devoted to cooperatives in Great Britain. Socialism was used to describe a society in which people work together to increase the benefit of all.
Another underlying assumption was that people are, by natural rights, equals. Socialists have always been recognized for upholding the principle of the equality of peoples as a highest value.
Socialism describes a society in which people work together to increase the benefit of all.
Because Socialists value the principle of equality, persons truly socialist in spirit value democracy as a vital political principle. In a democracy, each person has the right to be heard and to be given due consideration. The government is chosen by a vote of the people. This is the basis for the label democratic socialist.
This label is used to distinguish democratic socialists from people who improperly call themselves socialist and do not support the values of both equality and democracy.

Principles of Democratic Socialism

Democratic socialism implies certain other values in human conduct:
  • No person should exploit any other person. This principle of opposition to exploitation is especially important in labor relations.
  • Natural resources should not be exploited or wasted.
  • Changes in society and its governments should be made by free and open elections. Thus, democratic socialism ought to be achieved through the ballot box.
Widespread and full public education is essential to guarantee the equality of people. People must have information and be allowed to communicate their ideas.
Public Enterprise in some economic activities is necessary to help people attain economic and social equality. The government should undertake to do for them what people cannot do well for themselves.
Public enterprise leads to the common definition of socialism found in dictionaries: "the public or collective ownership of the means of production and distribution and the democratic management thereof."
Democratic socialists support the principles of democratic collective ownership of the basic means of production and the priniciple of democratic management. Therefore, democratic socialists support not only public ownership, but cooperative ownership of economic functions.
Because Socialists value the principle of equality, persons truly socialist in spirit value democracy as a vital political principle.
Democratic socialists support the idea of democratic public control of those activities which are described as "the commanding heights" of the economy, but do not support the idea of state ownership of every human enterprise.

Socialism Misused
 
Certain societies have sometimes disguised themselves by using the term socialism.. "National socialism" advocates a one-party dictatorial society. "Communism" has frequently been used by political parties advocating and implementing a one-party society with very limited democratic practices. However, a truly communal society would be very democratic, as were some early societies in the Americas.

Differences between Socialism and Capitalism
 
Capitalism describes a state of society which accepts and encourages private ownership of the means of production. Capitalism exalts the selfish individual. In capitalism regulation of self-interest is discouraged as a hindrance to the operation of a "free market."
The United States is considered by many political and economic leaders to be a capitalist society with a free market. However, the U. S. political and economic system is in reality a system of private markets protected by the government against competition.
Further, to keep the faltering American capitalism functioning, the various governments step in to provide public funds and support for functions performed by a private enterprise. The United States underwrites the risks for banks and other financial institutions. Local and state governments provide assistance for real estate developers through construction and maintenance of roads and public infrastructure. Local governments provide tax incentives for local developers.
In contrast democratic socialists favor government programs to help provide all citizens with their basic needs. Socialists have implemented improved parklands, unemployment compensation, social security, more equitable taxation, public radio and television, and improved educational opportunities.
Democratic socialists have always favored PEACE and opposed war as a means of settling differences between nations and groups, thus, look to duly constituted courts to settle differences.
Democratic Socialists knowing the world societies are interdependent, hope to establish a world of "cooperative commonwealths"-- a world of nations which will cooperate with each other for the common good.
Thus, democratic socialism is the radical idea that people should live and work cooperatively in a democratic society.
A socialist society will provide for each individual's basic needs for food, clothing, shelter, transportantion, and health.

The spirit of cooperation acknowledges that we must live in a peaceful, environmentally sustainable world.
-Acredited to "The Socialist Party of Wisconsin"

Democratic Socialist? You Bet!

Democratic Socialist? You Bet!

Check This Out on Illinois Liberals FB Group

By Rick Wade
Last evening I attended a debate between US Rep Rodney Davis and Democratic challenger Judge Ann Callis. Throughout the course of the day I will be uploading these video segments on my timeline and in a FB group called IL (Illinois Liberals). By the way anybody out there from Illinois or any liberal from any state who would like to join the conversation just let me know and I would love to add you to our group we're just a fledgling group trying to network around this state to share ideas and inspiration. I know many of you out there are from Illinois but I won't just add you unless you ask to join Thanks
2:25   Added 11 hours ago

This Is What Billionairs Do

Sun-Times Reporter Quits; Blasts Paper’s Boss, Rauner Campaign Tactics

      
Chicago Sun-Times
The Chicago Sun-Times at the Apparel Center. (Credit: CBS)
John DodgeJohn Dodge
John Dodge is the Executive Producer of CBS Chicago's website.
     

 


By John Dodge
CHICAGO (CBS) — A top political reporter at the Chicago Sun-Times resigned on Wednesday, and pointedly accused Bruce Rauner’s campaign aides of intimidation and interference with his reporting and called into question the newspaper’s independence.
“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,” Dave McKinney, who was the Springfield bureau chief at the paper for about 20 years, wrote in a letter to the paper’s boss, Michael Ferro.
Earlier this month, McKinney, along with NBC 5’s Carol Marin, wrote a story that detailed “hard-ball tactics” by Rauner in his dealings with one of his companies, LeapSource.
READ THE FULL LETTER
The former CEO of LeapSource, Christine Kirk alleged in the lawsuit that Rauner threatened her personally, according to the Marin-McKinney report.
According to the story, the lawsuit alleged that Rauner told Kirk in February 2001: “If you go legal on us, we’ll hurt you and your family.”
As he worked on the story, McKinney said, 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 the campaign went a step further, McKinney said.
“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.”
McKinney’s wife does political consulting work for Democrats. Before the couple married, they hammered out a binding agreement–a “firewall”–that said Liston would not work on, or profit from, the Illinois governor’s race.
In a statement, Rauner campaign spokesman Lance Trover said “publishing the story was irresponsible” because the lawsuit was “tossed out in court and sworn depositions contradict the allegations.”
Trover also accused McKinney of “an extraordinary conflict of interest – married to a Democrat operative with deep connections to an attack group that has spent millions attacking Bruce Rauner.”
Trover added that “no one reached out to Mr. Ferro” about McKinney’s work.
What happened to McKinney next gets murkier and raises serious questions about the integrity of the paper.
Several days after the story was published, McKinney was inexplicably placed on leave–removing a veteran political reporter from covering one of the hottest races in the nation less than a month before Election Day.
The Sun-Times editor, Jim Kirk, allowed McKinney back on the beat after about a week, after finding Rauner’s questions about McKinney’s work totally unfounded.
However, the bizarre behavior at the Sun-Times continued, McKinney said.
“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 [Jim] Kirk told me – that you [Ferro] couldn’t understand why the LeapSource story was even in the paper?
Raising even more suspicion about the paper’s independence, the Sun-Times reversed its ban on political endorsements and threw its support behind Rauner.
“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.”
Jim Kirk emailed the following statement on Wednesday afternoon:
“It is with reluctance that I accept Dave McKinney’s resignation. As recently as this Monday on our Op/Ed page, I stated that Dave is among the best in our profession. I meant it then and I mean it now. The pause we took last week was to ensure there were no conflicts of interest and was taken simply to protect Dave McKinney, the Sun Times and its readers as we were under attack in a heated political campaign. We came to the right result, found the political attacks against us to be false and we stand by our reporting, our journalists and this great newspaper.
“I disagree with Dave’s questioning the integrity of this newspaper and my role as editor and publisher. I call the shots. While I’ve been here, our ownership and management have never quashed a story and they have always respected the journalistic integrity of this paper.”

IL GOPer Allegedly Threatened CEO Over Lawsuit: 'I Will Bury Her'

 

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AP Photo / Charles Rex Arbogast
Those comments, allegedly made by Rauner to Christine Kirk, were published in a report from The Chicago Sun-Times on Tuesday. Rauner's alleged threats were directed at Christine Kirk, a CEO of a national accounting firm who Rauner and GTCR recruited to help run the business-outsourcing company LeapSource. Rauner was a member of LeapSource's board.
The threats the Sun-Times reported came from a 2005 deposition that came out of a "corporate divorce" between Kirk and Rauner as a result of the LeapSource project collapsing. The Chicago Sun-Times was able to obtain records of the lawsuit Kirk filed against Rauner and GTCR. In it Kirk alleged that Rauner very directly threatened her.
"If you go legal on us, we’ll hurt you and your family," Rauner allegedly threatened to Kirk in February 2001.
According to Kirk, Rauner also suggested to another board member, Thomas Gilman, that he might go after her.
"I will bury her," Rauner allegedly said to Gilman.
There's more. Rauner also allegedly told Gilman that he would make Kirk "radioactive."
"She will never get another job anywhere, ever. I will bankrupt her with legal fees," Rauner said. "I don't know if she has a family or not, but if she does, she better think twice about this."
Gilman refused to comment to the Sun-Times.
Most of the lawsuit was thrown out by a federal judge, the Chicago newspaper reported, including the part that contained the alleged threats. The judge didn't specifically weigh in on how credible the allegations of the threats were.
A Rauner spokesman strongly denied that Rauner threatened Kirk.
"It's no surprise these allegations were dismissed in summary judgement, which means the complaint had no merit in the eyes of the judge," Rauner spokesman Mike Schrimpf said in a statement to the Sun-Times.
In Rauner's deposition in the case, he described Kirk as determined to keep funding LeapSource no matter what.
"She would say whatever she felt she needed to say to get us to continue to fund the business, that we were very close to a sale, that we were very close to an investor, that…we had a lot of clients signed up or virtually signed up," Rauner said in the deposition. "We were trying to be pretty believing and tried to be pretty patient, and we would keep going. And then we would explore whatever came up, whatever she brought up, and it would end up, in my judgement, being a house of cards."
Kirk was fired from GTCR in 2001. The company cited growing losses from LeapSource. Kirk refused to sit down with the Sun-Times for an interview.

Report: GOPer Tried To Retaliate Against Reporter Over Negative Story

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AP Photo / Charles Rex Arbogast
The Chicago Sun-Times reporter, Dave McKinney, hired former federal prosecutor Patrick Collins, who previously represented the United States Attorney's Office in prosecuting former Illinois Gov. George Ryan (R), to investigate whether Rauner pushed the newspaper to take down McKinney's story, according to the trade publication Crain's Chicago Business. Collins told Chicago Business that Rauner's campaign seems to have argued to the Sun-Times that there was a conflict of interest in McKinney writing the story because he's married to Democratic media consultant Ann Liston.
Collins said that the couple created barriers to make sure there was never any question of a conflict of interest.
"Dave McKinney has a body of work as a dogged, but fair and impartial reporter and what has happened recently was an attempt to unfairly besmirch Dave's reputation and he has asked me to evaluate whether there was an improper interference with Dave's employment relationship with the Sun-Times," Collins told Chicago Business.
According to Collins, a few hours before the Sun-Times story went to press, Rauner's campaign tried to kill the story by arguing that the fact that Liston's political work for Democrats created a conflict of interest for McKenney. Collins didn't offer any further details about how the Rauner campaign tried to prevent the story from coming out.
Chicago Business did note that McKinney has written stories critical of Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn (D), who Rauner is running against.
Rauner's campaign manager, Chip Englander, told Chicago Business in an email that the Rauner campaign thinks McKinney has had an "extraordinary conflict of interest" stemming from Liston is linked to groups that have done advertising against Rauner.
"The bottom line is the campaign followed all proper channels to combat the misleading and inaccurate story prior to its publication," Englander said. "Our request to editors was simply that the reporter's deep connections to an attack group that has spent millions attacking Bruce Rauner be disclosed by the paper in accordance with the Society of Professional Journalists Code of Ethics."