Saturday, August 19, 2017

PolitiFact fumbles fact-check: Education funding proposal is a CPS bailout – Illinois Policy

Comment: Matt Deitrich, who wrote the "fact check" piece for Politifiact, which is now affiliated with the BGA, is among the most biased columnists in the state and his article was hack job nonsense.

How I fell for Emanuel’s budget spin – Greg Hinz – Crain’s

Says Greg Hinz: "I'm referring to my post yesterday that the city's projected deficit for fiscal 2018 is the lowest in more than a decade, a sizeable but still manageable $114 million. But it turns out, that figure includes neither the cost of contract settlements with police and fire units or the roughly $70 million needed to finish hiring the new police the mayor has promised will hit the streets over a two-year period." Comment He's still missing it. The big one is growth in unfunded pension liabilities. That's where the losses get buried. Government "budgets" mean almost nothing and are routinely invalidated by actual results.

Chicago Sun-Times investors lost $80 million – Crain’s

Chicago venture capitalist Michael Ferro brought other wealthy businessmen together in 2011 to buy the Chicago Sun-Times in a gambit they thought would revolutionize the industry. Now, they're out at least $80 million, according to some of his co-investors.

Sorry Illinois politicians, PolitiFact is back – PoltiFact

Comment: Sorry indeed. It's partisan and error-ridden. See their first story since teaming up with the Better Government Association linked here. It's about the pending school funding bill and it's garbage.

Reporter Loses Job after Exposing Chicago Dyke March’s Anti-Semitism – National Review

The journalist who first reported the fact that three Jewish women were thrown out of the Chicago Dyke March several weeks ago has been moved from her reporting role to a job at her paper’s sales desk. As of yesterday, Gretchen Rachel Hammond — who works for a Chicago LGBT paper called the Windy City Times — no longer serves as a reporter at the paper, but she has declined to say officially whether her coverage of the march was the reason for the sudden shift.

Brown: Chronicle this — news website wants to fake you out

Comment: Kudos to Brown who, though not a Rauner fan himself, calls out an anti-Raune website. The Illinois Chronicle, brown says, is more like “fakeout news,” a political campaign vehicle masquerading as a legitimate news organization with a clear purpose of undermining Rauner’s re-election.

Univision Chicago scores historic ratings victory – Daily Herald

For the first time the Spanish-language station's 10 p.m. newscast was No. 1 among all viewers between 18 and 49.

Is a buck enough to buy the Sun-Times? – Crain’s

A bidding battle for the Chicago Sun-Times is likely to wrap up this month, with the Justice Department throwing its weight behind the one contender that isn't the paper's archrival.

Even though former Chicago Ald. Edwin Eisendrath and a group of unions have offered to pay just $1 for the paper, antitrust regulators at Justice seem prepared to torpedo the only other offer, from Chicago Tribune owner Tronc.

If the Eisendrath group can make good on a pledge to raise at least $11 million to sustain the money-losing Sun-Times operation, it will have the upper hand with ​ Justice, sources say.

In Chicago, Thought-Police Brutality – National Review

'What’s going on in Chicago is a reminder is that greasepaint revolutionaries can barely handle even mild intellectual opposition. They picture themselves riding bravely into the battlefield of ideas. But if anyone shows up to fight for the other side, they cry meekly, “Excuse me, I don’t think you’re allowed here.”

We stand by our critic and a vital Chicago theater scene – Sun-Times

Comment: Good for the Sun-Times, though a simple "drop dead" would have been better.

Speech Muzzlers Triggered: Chicago’s Theater Community On The Attack – WP Original

Together we make great theater -- unless you disagree with us, in which case you're a bigot.

Illinois a joking matter no longer – Fort Wayne News-Sentinel

From an econ prof in Indiana: "It is time to stop joking, as the situation has become much more grim.Chicago is the nation’s third largest metropolitan area, and is the most important city in the Midwest... This will be a disaster for the Midwest.... A Chicago bankruptcy is likely unavoidable.... The time for jokes about Illinois has passed."

State-run media service seen as $3 million–a-year necessity – JournalStar

The Illinois Office of Communications (IOCI), originally known as Illinois Information Services (IIS), has been around for almost 100 years and employs roughly 20 people. IOCI is responsible for assisting state agencies and government entities in the delivery of information to the media and the public.

Oversight group’s leader laments lack of good reporting on bad government – Chicago City Wire

Andy Shaw, president and CEO of the Better Government Association (BGA) President and CEO, argued that the lack of coverage brought about by big cuts in newspaper staff in recent decades makes it difficult for Illinois voters to make informed decisions in elections.

Chicago Tribune and L.A. Times publisher may acquire Chicago Sun-Times parent – Marketwatch

Comment: Horrible. Already too much concentration in the media.

Crain’s to charge ‘nomination fee” to be considered for its ‘Forty Under Forty’ list – Feder

For the first time in 27 years, Crain’s Chicago Business is requiring payment from people to be considered for its annual “40 Under 40” feature spotlighting up-and-coming business and civic leaders.

Sinclair Bid for Tribune Gives Conservative Voice a Big-City Perch – Bloomberg

Sinclair Broadcast Group Inc.’s deal for Tribune Media Co. would give a broadcaster known for its conservative leanings fresh reach into leading media markets including New York, Los Angeles and Chicago.

Editor gets the boot from Reboot Illinois – Feder

Longtime Springfield journalist Matt Dietrich is out as editor of Reboot Illinois, the website and subscription newsletter covering state and local government and politics.

The Media Bubble is Real — And Worse Than You Think – POLITICO Magazine

New media jobs are heavily and increasingly concentrated in deep Blue areas. Thank goodness you have Wirepoints. We understand what they don't.

Chris Krug to lead Franklin Center and

He currently leads the Illinois News Network as Publisher and General Manager, a role which he will continue as he takes the helm at the Franklin Center.

Nothing fake about news reporting – News-Gazette

Comment: Wish it were true. That national media is worst. Most of it now has no credibility. Trying to discern truth requires triangulating among multiple stories. For Illinois' fiscal crisis, the problem is mostly incompetence. With very few exceptions, reporters and opinion writers simply don't know what they are talking about.

Am I blue? No, but I have a right to speak, radio host argues – Chicago City Wire

Proft cited the apparent hypocrisy of critics dismissing his news outlets as not being objective while their own work is published by companies with far less transparent political biases.

DNAinfo management hints site might shut down if staff unionizes – NY Daily News

Comment: Sad to see their troubles. Their Chicago reporting is good.

How to Publish Fake News and Get Away with It: Eric Zorn and Deanna Isaacs Show Us the Way – Wirepoints Original

Just write a story about somebody else's fake news without saying it's fake.

(Fake News) Illinois Will Permit Wearing Burqas in Driving Licenses Photos

You'd think this was from The Onion, but these guys are trying to pass this off as real news.

Worst Editorial of the Week is John McCarron’s – WP Original

By: Mark Glennon*   When the books are written about Illinois' collapse, much will be written about deniers in the media -- those who have misled the public about the gravity of our problems. John McCarron has written opinion pieces for the Chicago Tribune since just about when the media should have begun sounding alarms loudly -- 2000. He has failed. He's been among the biggest of the deniers. Worse, he remains undeterred.   This week's contribution was titled, "Plenty of Good Reasons...

Krug: Establishing priorities differentiates – Opinion

"There were more than two dozen other original stories in which brought truth to light for Illinoisans – in real time, without rumor or innuendo – this past week." Comment: He's right. They're a great addition to our media.

Billionaire doctor demands right to buy more shares in fight for control of Chicago Tribune parent – Chicago Tribune

Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong, the Los Angeles billionaire battling for control of Chicago Tribune owner Tronc, is pressuring the company's board to allow him to buy more stock now that Chairman Michael Ferro has been allowed to up his stake.

Illinois News Network site redesigned with Illinoisans in mind –

Comment: Lots of good, straightforward, objective articles have been coming from these folks. Best of luck to them.

DNAinfo Chicago publisher Par Ridder departs – Crain’s

DNAinfo Chicago Publisher Par Ridder has left the hyper-local news organization and hasn't been replaced, said a spokesman for the outlet. Comment: Hate to see shrinkage at DNAinfo, which is a quality, objective publication.

McCaleb appointed to top news role at Illinois News Network – Illinois News Network

McCaleb most recently was the editorial director of Shaw Media’s newspaper operations in Illinois and Iowa, as well as the executive editor of the Northwest Herald, Shaw’s flagship daily newspaper serving suburban McHenry County.

The vanishing Statehouse press corps – Illinois Times

The full-time Statehouse press corps has been slashed to about one fourth of what it was in 1991/1992, according to a list from Rick Millard, assistant Statehouse press room secretary. Comment: Little value in most who are there. They report a fictional version of what's going on.

Mark Giangreco’s penalty for anti-Trump tweet a wake-up call for media members – Chicago Tribune

If your political views are closer to those Giangreco expressed than not, imagine if a local news personality during Barack Obama's administration had posted something on Facebook that called his supporters idiots and put quotes around "birth certificate" the way Giangreco put the word "elected" in his Trump tweet.

Layoffs hit DNAinfo Chicago – Feder

Comment: Bummer. DNAInfo is great.

All that who ha over Chicago’s murders is just a plot to embarrass Obama – ChicagoNow

That's the take on Chicago's street gang murders by Chris Hayes, the MSNBC anchor who came here to lecture us about how it ain't so bad. Here's what he said: Chicago's status as the poster child of urban violence — even though it is nowhere near the U.S.'s most violent city, per capita — is "unquestionably" driven by a "concerted effort by particularly conservative media to highlight Chicago and violence in the city as a way of embarrassing President Obama,"...

Trump set to ‘eliminate arts funding programs’, cutting off NPR and PBS – The Independent

Comment: I presume this will impact Illinois outlets like WTTW and Illinois Public Radio, at least indirectly, though I don't know the details of their reliance on the national affiliates that receive federal funding.

Illinois Issues: Editor Jamey Dunn Says Goodbye – NPR Illinois

Comment: She's leaving to do communications for a Dem politician, Comptroler Mendoza. Surprise, surprise. That should be a seemless transition. Let's hope IL Issues and NPR IL see this as an opportunity to eliminate their progressive bias.

The Amount of Money Raised For the Chicago Victim is Amazing–But Not Just Because of How Much It Is – Independent Journal Review

Goal was $10K but they have raised $130K. What's noteworthy is that the donations aren't in huge lump sums — they're small donations from well-wishers all over the country.

Why did CNN air a documentary about the band Chicago produced by band members? – The Washington Post

CNN pre-empted its usual prime-time programming on New Year’s Day for a special two-hour film about the group Chicago. Only at the conclusion of the program did viewers get a subtle clue about the film’s origins. A credit line read: “Produced by Chicago.” Comment: This article raises a good question, but it sure is ironic for the Washington Post to be criticizing CNN. Each has lost credibility.

Most Biased Response to Illinois’ Out-Migration Flood Comes from Crain’s Greg Hinz – WP Guest

By: Dalton*   When the Illinois pols who destroyed the state are swamped by news of Illinoisans voting with their feet to leave, they probably know who will try to put out the fire. Greg Hinz is their man.   The Census migration report was a blockbuster today. Illinois’ net loss of residents to other states was 114,000 people for the year, the worst on record for Illinois. As a result, the state population shrank by 37,500; the worst in the nation and...

ProPublica to Expand with State-Based ‘ProPublica Illinois’ Unit – ProPublica

"With this state-based expansion, ProPublica seeks to further address the business crisis of the press. The collapse of regional and local newspapers, and the drastic cutback of reporting staffs, has left accountability journalism at the state and local levels shrinking and underfunded, weakening democratic governance at a critical moment."

Another newsroom is coming to town: ProPublica

Comment: Good. The more the better. Let's hope they are balanced and not biased to the left, as some have charged. George Soros, among others on the left, is a major funder.

NBC5 Chicago Spins Saturday Night Live as Real News – WP Original

  By: Mark Glennon*   The top listed story on the "News" section at NBC5 Chicago's site right now is headlined, Even During a Security Briefing, SNL's Trump Would Rather Be Tweeting. The same story is in their "Entertainment" section. What's the difference if you want to conflate the two?   According to the story (not the sketch but the story), "a theory that has taken hold" that the sketch is accurate -- that Trump tweets to "distract the media from his business conflicts...

Are We Being Used as Russian Propaganda Tools? – WP Original

  By: Mark Glennon*   Zero Hedge, which has reprinted some of our articles recently, is among news sites used as Russian propaganda tools, according to The Washington Post.  I'm not pretending for a minute that the Russians give a ruble what we say on this site, but there are issues here for all of us who read or write on the internet.   According to the Post, "The flood of 'fake news' this election season got support from a sophisticated Russian propaganda campaign...

How to tell truth from fiction in the age of fake news – Chicago Tribune

Comment: This is a good article as far as it goes, but it's only about the most blatant fake news. Much of the national media is shamelessly dishonest, albeit more clever about it. Their bigger reach makes them just as dangerous as the purely fake news.

NPR: After Pollak, No More Live Interviews for Conservatives – Breitbart

Stemming from an interview with former Chicagoan Joel Pollack, who is now with Breitbart.

Off the deep end goes Neil Steinberg at the Sun-Times

"Your neighbors will gladly murder you, given the nod by authority, then blame you for bringing your own death upon yourself. They’ll then move into your empty house, live there guilt-free, and years later, should anybody be so impolite as to raise the subject of your death, deny it ever occurred." "The fear is real" of that coming to America under Trump, says Steinberg.

Crain’s Chicago Business announces leadership changes – Crain’s

Scary: “We want to figure out new ways to leverage our dominant position in the Chicago marketplace,” they say. They do some things well. Their real estate section is excellent. But their coverage of government is abysmal and biased.

My, What an Exceptionally Stupid and Irresponsible Headline Rewrite by Crain’s – WP Original

  By: Mark Glennon*   Yesterday, Bloomberg ran a syndicated story under its headline, "New Jersey Tops Illinois as State With Worst-Off Pension System." The story covers what you would expect -- how horrible the problem is for both states, how it's crowding out other spending, causing credit downgrades and so on.   But Crain's published that Bloomberg story under this headline: "Illinois' pension woes are not so bad after all." No, the story said no such thing!   As we've said from the start on...

Tronc If You Want to Save Journalism – BloombergBusinessweek

Busy year for Michael Ferro. Bought Tribune Publishing. Renamed it tronc. Endured ridicule. Tried to sell to Gannett. Failed. Up next: Figure out how to make money in newspapers.

This Election Has Disgraced the Entire Profession of Journalism – Observer

Comment: And most of the public has come to see that, which is what's really significant. The media's credibility is gone. The implications of that will be deep and lasting. Exactly what those implications are is the next question. We'll see, but a whole new paradigm of how the public gets its information and forms its opinions probably will arise.

Gannett Terminates Talks to Buy Tronc – Bloomberg

Gannett Co., the owner of USA Today, dropped its pursuit of Tronc Inc., the publisher of the Chicago Tribune and the Los Angeles Times.

“If Trump Loses, I’m Grabbing My Musket”: Former IL Congressman Ready To Go Full Revolution – Zero Hedge

Despite the fact that DNC operatives have been exposed as the ones inciting violence at rallies – Robert Creamer and Scott Foval for example – and working overtime to bus in illegal voters and rig the vote – the media is going out of its way to paint Trump supporters and grassroots Americans as the ones plotting violence. Comment: That especially goes for the Illinois media. Not a peep about the Creamer/Foval scandal, but they've gone postal over Walsh's comment,...

A Media Cover-Up of Grand Proportions – Townhall

"Captured by video, the men’s self-incriminating comments and severances are being ignored by major media, which either pretend this never happened or are trying to besmirch the source... There's no 'supposedly' about it." Comment: The Illinois press, in particular, has totally ignore what may be the most sickening story in this sickening election cycle, even though it's centered in Illinois.

Tronc Chairman Michael Ferro’s media track record does not include profits – Crain’s

Comment: The Tribune is the one paper other media like to beat up on. Hmm.

Film makes plain: The Khan of Madiganistan has to go – John Kass – Chicago Tribune

Comment: Finally, a review of the movie that isn't just a biased, ad hominem rant about the Illinois Policy Inst, which was behind the film. I've seen it. It's superb. I'll write about the horrid slander of it by other reporters after it's available to the public, which should be next week.

Kudos to the emerging Fifth Estate, “Madigan” rules – Illinois Review

"Shouldn't Illinois' media be reacting with facts and documentation to prove or disprove, rather than responding with emotional Tweets scorning the messenger and completely ignoring its message?"

Federal election agency gets complaint on conservative paper in Illinois – The Republic

Comment: The First Amendment issues in this attempt to muzzle the authors of the paper are HUGE.

Analysis: Chicago journalists overwhelmingly vote Democrat – Chicago City Wire

Chicago City Wire examined 366 primary ballots cast over the past three decades by 68 active reporters, editors and news anchors from leading media in Chicago and across the state. Nearly nine in 10 (86 percent) ballots cast were for Democrats. Only four of 68 journalists (6 percent) were Republican leaning. And then only slightly. Comment: Which primary you vote in is a very imperfect index of your politics, but these numbers are sure overwhelming.

Worst Editorial in a Long Time is Scott Reeder’s – WP Original

By: Mark Glennon* "Whoever sits in the Oval Office doesn’t get to decide whether we are happy or sad. wrote columnist Scott Reeder today. That’s up to each of us." He goes on, "if you want change, don’t look in the ballot box. Look in the mirror."   Speak for yourself, Mr. Reeder.   The 100 million American's who watched the debate last night didn't do it because they're ignorant about what makes them happy. They don't skip Monday Night Football for the hell...

John Kass apology for participating in IPI film – Chicago Tribune

Comment: I don't get this at all. We'll be writing further about this and the whole controversy (probably after the film is out, so we have all the facts).

Chicago’s Awful Crackdown on Food Trucks – Reason

"Late last month, the Chicago Sun-Times and the Windy City's local ABC affiliate teamed up to produce what amounts to little more than a hit piece targeting the city's food trucks."

Illinois newspapers lash out against entrenched Springfield establishment – Sangamon Sun

The editorial boards of dozens of newspapers statewide have been busy, with their favorite topics being the state's debt, redistricting reform and Madigan.

Rich Miller of CapitolFax cries foul over interview for anti-Madigan documentary – Illinois Review

Comment: Would answers have been different if the identity of the interviewer was different?

Eric Zorn says it’s time to end online comments – Chicago Tribune

Zorn: "I don't read them when they're under my work and I seldom read them under others' work. When fellow journalists tell me they read their comments...I chide them for wasting their time." Comment: Eric, maybe your readers and theirs are knuckleheads. Or maybe you're part of the intolerant left, walled off from reality. By the way, kudos on this point to two of our least favorite and most biased political journalists in Illinois, Rich Miller and Greg Hinz. Both...

Misleading Poll Fails to Dispel the Notion of a “Tax Revolt” in Chicago – Illinois Mirror

Miller and the folks at IEPI may be trying to dispel the notion that people are leaving the city because of skyrocketing taxes and decades of poor fiscal management. But actions speak louder than poll results, and time will tell of Chicago will continue to see a mass exodus of taxpayers.

Tribune Tower Sale Sign Of A Slowing Industry – WBEZ

    It's a tough business to make money in. But here at WirePoints' world headquarters, shown below, you can see we have our office and staffing costs under control.  

Dan Proft’s rebuttal to criticism of paper he’s linked to – McHenry Times

Comment: This is an interesting issue but Proft is right. Most of the regular media have no standing to criticize.

A particularly cheap shot by a Chicago Tribune reporter – WP Original

  "Whip-smart" or dumb as a rock?   By: Mark Glennon*   Illinois Comptroller Leslie Munger said her challenger in November's election, Susana Mendoza, maybe is "not so good at math." So, Kim Janssen of the Chicago Tribune decided to give Munger a pop math quiz. Munger failed, as Janssen sees it. She doesn't know what seven times eight or nine times three is, he wrote.   It's not the first time at petty gotchas from Janssen. In April, his headline screamed, "Cocky Rahm flubs Chicago...

Will a new law really make Illinois’ FOIA stronger? Journalists there aren’t so sure – Columbia Journalism Review

Comment: From our experience, they sometimes just ignore FOIA requests. Then, we'd have to go to court to enforce it. Not realistic.

Press Association says Proft’s newspapers aren’t eligible for membership – Capital Fax

Comment: In other words, the establishment media have their near monopoly on peddling lousy articles and the viewpoint of Illinois Democrats, and they want to keep it. That applies especially to Rich Miller of Capital Fax, who is the most diabolically skilled spin artist Illinois Democrats have.

Good for the Media, Bad for America – The American Interest

"Another gulf that has opened in the same new media landscape—between the upscale few, who know how to access and digest serious political reporting in quality newspapers, websites, and opinion journals; and the downscale many, who for lack of discernment." That's part of why we're here.

Politifact affiliation brings unwarranted suspicion to Reboot – Reboot

Comment: The scary part is he thinks this article should placate those suspicions.

Introducing PolitiFact Illinois – PolitiFact Illinois

Reboot Illinois now is the exclusive home of PolitiFact Illinois, partnering with the world-renowned news operation to prosecute political speech, find the facts and determine in transparent fashion whether the claims and counterclaims of Illinois’ officeholders, public figures and pundits are true.

‘Let Facts Be Submitted to a Candid World’ – WP Original

By: Mark Glennon*   To sense how badly discourse and reporting on government has degenerated, particularly in Illinois, start with the reasoning in the the Declaration of Independence. To justify separation from Britain, it "submitted facts to a candid world" -- objective, simple realities. That list of facts comprised most of the Declaration.   Consider how differently issues are argued today. Spin is everything, and each side's spin is reported as if it was meaningful. Blame substitutes for solutions. Process and campaign strategies...

Tribune renames itself ‘Tronc’ while Gannett weighs its bid – Sun-Times

Tronc Inc., standing for “Tribune online content.”

This Email Shows Just How Scripted Rahm Emanuel’s Press Conferences Are – DNAinfo

Yet they get reported as if they are authentic.

Worst Article of the Week is from IL NPR’s ‘Illinois Issues’ – WP Original

By: Mark Glennon*   “The fact is, the current budget crisis was completely avoidable," says House Speaker Michael Madigan, and Illinois Issues' Jamey Dunn wrote today that he's right. "This crisis was avoidable long before...the current game of political chicken began," she says.   How? By making permanent the temporary tax increase that began in 2011 and ended in December 2014, she says. She went on do a we-told-you-so for Illinois Issues' warning in 2013 that the state was not preparing for expiration. "Under...

Lisagor Awards cite Jamie Kalven for Laquan McDonald story – Feder

Comment: That top prize was well earned, as are a few others on the list. But most of these others are a joke. Best editorials are Ann Dwyer at Crain's? Sheesh. They should have given one broad award for "Out to Lunch on Our Fiscal Crisis" to the entire press corps (with a few exception for Sun-Times reporters and Yvette Shields at The Bond Buyer).

On information, the lifeblood of bloggers – Stump

Author Mary Pat Campbell is an actuary who writes about pensions. Comment: She's absolutely right that readers want facts, not opinions. We see that here. Our most viewed article in the past year, for example, was on south suburban Chicago property tax rates. Most conventional news sources would reject it as far too long and too jammed with data. Wrong.

Gannett offers $815 million to buy Tribune Publishing – USA Today

In a letter to Justin Dearborn, CEO of Tribune, which owns The Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune and nine other dailies, Gannett CEO Robert Dickey reiterated Monday a private April 12 offer to pay $12.25 per share, a 63% premium to Tribune’s closing stock price last Friday. Gannett’s deal includes assuming $390 million of Tribune’s debt outstanding as of Dec. 31, 2015.

Poll: Vast majority of Americans don’t trust the news media – A.P.

Comment: Reads like an endorsement of WirePoints' approach: "Americans are more likely to rely on news that is up-to-date, concise and cites expert sources or documents. They want to be able to navigate the news app or website easily and quickly, without having to wade through intrusive or annoying ads."

Child Journalist Defends Scoop After Backlash – Sky

Good job, kid. Please start covering Springfield. Press corps there needs help.

Rich Miller Ignores Supermajority Reality To Demand Rauner Capitulate – Illinois Mirror

Comment: Miller is basically a public union mouthpiece. The incompetence on fiscal issues and bias among Illinois political reporters is a prime reason we have this site.

Liberty Principles PAC is backing a chain of 11 conservative newspapers in Illinois – Crain’s Chicago Business

Comment: Great, as long as their purpose is disclosed, as it evidently is: “We have a point of view, and we want to advance that point of view in terms of policy solutions,” said Dan Proft, who heads the PAC. What a contrast to Crain's, which also has a clear agenda but doesn't say so. Especially glad to see these new papers will focus on pensions, the source of most of our problems, about which Crain's is worthless.

My, What a Foolish Comment by the Chicago Tribune’s Chairman – WP Original

  By: Mark Glennon*   Michael Ferro is the Chairman and largest shareholder of Tribune Publishing, owner of the Chicago Tribune. This week, he said:   I now understand how important it is to have real journalism in the world and we're starting here with our properties around the country. Bloggers can't be the ones deciding public opinion, deciding presidential races.   As for the first part of his comment, let's just say it's good he "now" understands the importance, whatever that indicates.   But as for the...

Tribune chair Ferro donates Sun-Times stake to charitable trust – Chicago Sun-Times

In a written statement issued Wednesday, Sandra Martin, chief financial officer of Tribune Publishing, said Ferro’s “divestiture will create a very clear separation of ownership and avoid perceived conflicts of interest, while also providing millions of dollars for community programs and other charitable causes.”

New standards for digital access to the Chicago Tribune

A new “metered” approach that will give nonsubscribers access to up to 10 articles each month before being asked to subscribe.

Chicago Tribune names Bruce Dold as new editor; Gerould Kern to retire – Chicago Tribune

Comment: Separately, Dold said he wants to "cover the hell" out of politics. Let's hope Dold recognizes how poorly the fiscal crisis is covered.Political reporters just don't understand fiscal issues well enough to cover them.

Chicago Sun-Times Chairman Sagan works to keep the newspaper “viable” – Crain’s

Sun-Times Holdings Chairman Bruce Sagan said he isn't focused on whether the Chicago Sun-Times will ultimately fold into its larger rival, Chicago Tribune, now that the two papers have owners in common. Instead, he's all about keeping the Sun-Times “viable,” in the face of shrinking industry revenue and circulation.

Sun-Times owner Michael Ferro buys $44.4 million stake in Tribune – Feder

Merger with Sun-Times appears inevitable.

An error-filled article on pensions in Chicago Magazine

Regular readers here should be able to spot the obvious errors so, this time, we'll let you do it.

The air John Bills breathed in City Hall convinced him corruption is OK – Chicago Tribune

Comment: The Tribune brags a bit -- as it should -- about its role uncovering the red light camera scandal, and asks the right question about pervasive corruption.

Stupidest editorial of the week is from Crain’s

By: Mark Glennon*   The water disaster in Flint, Michigan proves you can't "run government like a business." And since you can't run government like a business, the recent proposal to change control over Chicago Public Schools and authorize bankruptcy is a terrible idea.   That's a perfectly fair summary of a Crain's editorial this week.   It parrots the lines about Flint being used by Mike Madigan and his spokesman, Steve Brown. Flint's water, they say, invalidates Rauner.   Only in Illinois.   *Mark Glennon is founder of...

Another Dishonest Headline From Crain’s – WP Original

  By: Mark Glennon*   "The Cost of Gridlock" is Crain's headline about a recent University of Illinois Study that quantified Illinois' higher borrowing cost.   The study said no such thing. It compared recent Illinois borrowing cost to those in 2006. Illinois paid a penalty of about $53 million on its recent $513 million bond offering, the study says, if you compare its pricing to 2006 Illinois bonds.   Fair enough. Let's assume that's right.   It certainly does not say that's the price of gridlock. Many...

Crain’s to launch political newsletter – Feder

They don't like us there, as you might guess.

Chicago’s biggest TV stations are adding more hours of local news programming – Crain’s

Comment: Good. Let's hope the quality improves, too.

Mesirow Financial chief economist, Diane Swonk, departs – Pensions & Investments

Comment: She's particularly good on local working class issues. Let's hope she ends up somewhere independent of the sell-side bias that encumbers many pundits like her.

A Great Article on Chicago Property Taxes From, Yes, Al Jazeera!

  *By Mark Glennon   Much of Chicago's media praised the city's property tax increase as a bold step towards solving its financial crisis. Property taxes are "the best way to soak the rich," said a Crain's headline.   Give credit where it's due, to Al Jazeera, for its story today, Chicago's historic property tax increase expected to burden working class. That headline says it all. They got the facts right. Read the whole thing.   *Mark Glennon is founder of WirePoints. Opinions expressed are his...

AP names Ivan Moreno as its new statehouse correspondent in Springfield, Ill.

Let's hope for the best -- that he's fiscally smart, skeptical about everything said or done by the majority and cynical about how things have traditionally worked there.

‘Affirmation Journalism’ Reversed: A Great Sun-Times Article – WP Original

By: Mark Glennon*   If you know what "affirmation journalism" is, you'll know why today's article in the Sun-Times about Chicago public salaries is especially praiseworthy.   It's well known in the press that most readers want stories conforming to their existing views of the world. If they want to learn something new, it's only because they want some ammo on their side for their next chat around the water cooler or at a cocktail party.   Since most media are struggling today to find...

Oops, Correction: Dumbest Editorial of the Week Was From Crain’s, Not Sun-Times

  By: Mark Glennon*   Apologies, Sun-Times. Our earlier story should have said your editorial about Chicago's budget was runner up for worst one of the week. We hadn't read Crain's yet.   Governor Rauner's reform proposals are "worth fighting for," Crain's said in an editorial yesterday. So, you'd think they'd call on Cullerton, Madigan and the boys to agree to that agenda to resolve the budget standoff, right?   Nah. This is Crain's.  "It's well past time for the governor to drop his 'turnaround' agenda,"...

Dumbest Editorial of the Week is from the Sun-Times on Chicago Budget

  By: Mark Glennon*   The Chicago City Council's endorsement of Mayor Emanuel's new budget "should be strong, even overwhelming, " the Sun-Times editorialized this week.   Why? because the budget "will be a victory for a city finally determined to resolve its fiscal problems and move on and up," they say. And because approval "would send a message to the business community that the business climate in Chicago just got a heck of a lot more stable and predictable."   Nonsense. Rahm's budget address was...

A Mom on a Blog Led to CPS’s CEO Prosecution – Illinois Review

Sarah Karp, whose son attends sixth grade at a Chicago public school, said while reviewing CPS paperwork, she found that the CPS Board had quietly approved a $20-million contract with SUPES Academy, so she wrote it up on Catalyst Chicago. Big salute to Ms. Karp and Catalyst.

The End of the Chicago Sun-Times? – The Awl

People have been saying that the Sun-Times wouldn’t make it another year since time immemorial—through the ownerships of Rupert Murdoch, Conrad Black, and the rest—but this time, it feels real. It would be a pity if it is. The Sun-Times still has the strongest reporting on City Hall, the South Side, education, and crime of any daily news operation in Chicago, and there are a lot of talented people still clinging on. Comment: That's true. We've criticized particular stories or...

Tribune Publishing’s Jack Griffin catching up on digital – Marketing/media News – Crain’s Chicago Business

 For a man leading a digital revolution, Tribune Publishing CEO Jack Griffin is surprisingly sanguine about the enduring value of newspapers. He believes they're still likely to exist in 10 years, and that 20-somethings will keep picking up the newspaper-reading habit, he said in an interview this week. He also doesn't discount the possibility that newspapers will continue to account for more than half his company's revenue in 2025.

Unreal: Crain’s Notion of ‘Chicago’s Road to Reality’ – WP Original

By: Mark Glennon*   Crain's Chicago Business' editorial board today endorsed Rahm's budget proposal under the headline, "Chicago's road to reality paved with pain and politics." Chicago is finally dealing with reality, they say. "The city of Chicago no longer can afford to put off the inevitable—it must cover its obligations" to pensions, they say. "We must pay. The time to reckon with that reality is now." Their only concerns about Rahm's proposal are the burden it puts on commercial property...

New York Post coming to Chicago – Chicago Tribune

The New York Post, the notoriously sensational tabloid owned by Rupert Murdoch's News Corp., is entering the Chicago market beginning Monday. But it will be the same as the NYC edition with no additional Chicago coverage. Strange.

Dumbest Illinois Pension Article of the Week

By: Mark Glennon*   How does this sound for pension reform? Pass a law forcing taxpayers to automatically fully fund them in whatever-it-takes amounts. That's what a guest piece in Crain's called for this week. It did that by holding up, as a model to be replicated, IMRF -- the Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund.   IMRF, you see, is unique in Illinois because it has that forced taxation funding. Municipalities must raise property taxes in amounts required to keep the pension up. Consequently,...

Best Illinois Pension Article of the Week

  By: Mark Glennon*   For the ugly story behind the demise of Chicago Public School pension, read From Retirement Security to Political Slush Fund by Illinois Policy. Its lessons are largely generalizable to most Illinois pensions, particularly the deliberate diversion of contributions to the pension to fund salary increases instead. That's been a frequent tactic in union negotiations not just in Illinois but many other parts of the country -- negotiate primarily for cash now and rely on other supposed assurances...

The Not-So Center for Tax and Budget Accountability: Illinois’ CTBA – Citizen vs Machine

Comment: The CTBA and Ralph Martire are staples of the Illinois media and often described as nonpartisan. Nonsense. They are union controlled.

Natasha Korecki Leaving the Sun-Times – Robert Feder

But we'll still be getting her abundant supply of material for our Media Watch section -- she's going to Politico to cover Illinois politics for them! Suggestion for Sun-Times: Get a replacement who is a) objective, and b) numerate.

Why the best story this week about Chicago’s big tax hike was, well, ours – WP Original

By: Mark Glennon*   The narrative over the whopping Chicago property tax increase is forming: Time to pay the piper for past sins. Pensions can't be cut. $500 million of new property taxes along with a garbage collection fee are needed to pay the bill for them and other things. Bite the bullet and we'll be on our way towards normalcy.   It's a false narrative. Our article looked just at the city's own numbers in its last financial statements, which nobody seems...

That Sun-Times Article on Madigan’s Mouthpiece Took Guts – WP Original

By: Mark Glennon*   All reporters face tough choice between negative reporting and keeping up relationships with news sources. That's why the Sun-Times article last week on Steve Brown, House Speaker Michael Madigan's press aide, was so notable.   Madigan and his people, if you're not aware, are notoriously vindictive. A couple examples:   - In 2012, according to the Tribune, a woman made a primary challenge against Madigan's chosen candidate. One of Madigan’s guys, who works for the state when not helping Madigan, showed...

Best editorial of the week: ‘A bad vote’ from the News-Gazette

On "what may be the worst piece of legislation ever passed by the General Assembly."

Best pension story of the week: Tribune’s on the sickening abuse of spiking

By: Mark Glennon*   No conscience, no sense of shame encumbers many workers still intent on soaking our already insolvent public pensions. "Soon-to-be retirees can effectively double or triple the value of end-of-career payouts, using them to spike the pension formula in ways that can, at times, get them an extra $10,000 or more a year in retirement checks, almost entirely funded by taxpayers." And they don't hesitate to do just that.   The Chicago Tribune this week documented how they do it,...

‘Wishing for Katrina’? Actually, Our Financial Mess Is Worse. More on the McQueary Story – WP Original

  By: Mark Glennon*   A bit of a national stir has erupted over an editorial by the Chicago Tribune's Kristen McQueary. Frustrated by Chicago's unwillingness to face up to its financial crises, she wrote about why we need a shock into action. "That's why I find myself praying for a real storm," she wrote. "It's why I can relate, metaphorically, to the residents of New Orleans climbing onto their rooftops and begging for help and waving their arms and lurching toward...

Madigan manipulated ballot question to help re-elect Quinn – Illinois Policy

Comment: And this admission was totally ignored by our ace press corps.

Lamest story of the week is from Dan Mihalopoulos – WP Original

By: Mark Glennon*   The acting secretary of human services in Springfield signed a $20,000 consulting contract to develop a plan and timeline for a department program that helps the mentally ill and developmentally disabled to get jobs.   The contract was with Dartmouth, where Governor Rauner went to school, so that's a scandal, as Dan Mihalopoulos at the Sun-Times sees it. It was a no-bid contract, he says, but he provides nothing to indicate that's improper for a contract so small. It...

Updated – He’s Back: Dave McKinney, Pensions, and Partisan Reporters – WP Original

Update 9/2/14. Dave McKinney has accepted a job a Reuters, and apparently will cover Illinois issues. This is a tragedy. Political reporters are not financial reporters. They just don't know what they are talking about, regardless of bias. Can't one major news agency, aside from The Bond Buyer, please assign somebody to Springfield who understands fiscal issues?   By: Mark Glennon*   What on earth was Crain's thinking when it added Dave McKinney as a political columnist? Yesterday, it published a major piece...

Where columnist Rich Miller gets his money – Illinois Review

$260k from taxpayer funded state agencies.

Best article of the week: Reuters on how multitude of local authorities soak Illinois homeowners

Great summary of the a key reason why our property taxes are out of control.

Reporter Dave McKinney finds eager editors at Crain’s – Feder

Read our article linked here about McKinney and the Illinois press.

Progressives, Too, Should Cringe: Crain’s Article Says Property Tax Best Way to ‘Soak the Rich’ – WP Original

  By: Mark Glennon*   Greg Hinz at Crain's is among the most influential political reporters in Illinois. His column yesterday is headlined, Want to soak the rich? Look at the property tax. It makes his case why the property tax is the best way to "bonk those big, bad companies" and hammer Bruce Rauner's "business buddies."   For progressives and conservatives alike, that should be the like mental waterboarding. Property taxes are regressive -- the rich pay proportionately less. That's such an important...

Unacceptable: Natasha Korecki’s Springfield Reporting – WP Original

By: Mark Glennon*   If you are relying on the Chicago Sun-Times for Illinois state government news you are being misinformed because its primary reporter assigned to Springfield is Natasha Korecki, and her distortions are flagrant.   Today, budget negotiations took a critical turn because Governor Rauner announced in an op ed piece that he would veto the budget submitted by legislative Democrats and offered a series of compromises on other matters. Specifically, Rauner offered state assistance on the Chicago teachers' pension, a...

A small Illinois paper makes its play for a bigger Web audience – Columbia Journalism Review

The digital editor of The Southern Illinoisan, the daily newspaper in Carbondale, a city of 26,000 that sits about an hour from the Kentucky border, was ecstatic.... Comment: We link to it.

Chicago media is getting rid of what it needs the most – Our Man In Chicago

More cutbacks at Tribune, Sun-Times and WBEZ. Comment: Criticize their failures when you see them, but be mindful of the crisis in finding a business model for journalism that can sustain quality.

Distorting the News: A Few Whoppers from the Chicago Sun-Times and Crain’s – Updated – WP Original

  By: Mark Glennon* Updated 5/31/15 (adding Crain's where indicated)   There's simply no way to justify the Sun-Time's characterization of Chicago's proposal to address its pension crisis, now contained in a bill before the General Assembly. This evening, the headline in the Sun-Times is, "Pension proposal to save city taxpayers $843 million over 5 years, projections show." The article goes on to say that, "the legislation aims to strike a balance between curbing pension costs and providing enough money to keep the...

Hat Tips to Tribune, Reboot For Holding Madigan, Cullerton Accountable For Budget Mess – Illinois Mirror

The Chicago Tribune, especially, has been superb in excoriating the Cullerton/Madigan calamity.

Just Makin’ Stuff Up: Natasha Korecki’s Latest – WP Original

  By: Mark Glennon*   Bias in the media is bad. Incompetence in the media is bad. Natashi Korecki at the Sun-Times seems intent on making herself the poster child for both.   Her latest is headlined, Lawmakers' Agenda for Bruce Rauner: Turn around and head to Springfield. It says that "Lawmakers seem to have an agenda that says, "Turn around — and get your behind to Springfield."   Trouble is, nobody said any of that.   She goes on to list a number of other nasty things...

Chicago Press Resurrects Self-Criticism — But Only to Defend Jesus Garcia – WP Original

By: Mark Glennon*   Something great rose from the dead this past week in Chicago's media -- self-criticism. Sort of.   First, WTTW's Phil Ponce was widely criticized by the press for persistent questions he directed to Jesus Garcia about his son's alleged gang involvement. The questions were asked in the debate this week between Rahm Emanuel and Garcia, that Ponce moderated.   Then the Chicago Reader went after Greg Hinz from Crain's over his article about demagoguery by Garcia and others on Chicago TIF...

Best article of the week — from the Bond Girl on Chicago’s budget — Medium

Illinois Media: One Huge Failure, One Big Success for the Week – WP Original

AWOL on legislative hearings on municipal bankruptcy, but they did their job with Aaron Schock.

Inexcusable: S&P’s Warning to Chicago Ignored by Local Press – WP Original

No wonder Chicago voters are attracted to a populist demagogue, Chuy Garcia, who is promising the moon while holding property taxes flat.

How a local news site busted open Chicago’s biggest sports story this year – Poynter

Sun-Times bracing for buyouts, layoffs – Feder Blog Comment: Let's hope they keep the good ones and find a revenue model that works. As for who gets laid off, well, let's hope they have been reading WirePoints.

Ouch: Crain’s closes Washington bureau, cuts five jobs – Feder Blog Among those cut was Paul Merrion, a particularly good reporter who will be missed.

A hatchet job ‘fact check’ from the Associated Press an State Journal-Register – WP Original

  By: Mark Glennon*   An Associated Press "Fact Check" story, widely reprinted around Illinois today, says Governor Rauner's arguments for reform contained in a slide presentation he gave last week "don't add up." Doug Finke, a reporter for the State Journal-Register, also re-skinned part of that article under his own name.   Here's why those stories are hatchet jobs:   The first of four points the A.P. makes is about a single Rauner slide on Medicaid (slide 20), which simply reproduces data from the Federal...

Must-read of the month: Forbes article on municipal salaries and pensions – WP Original

By: Mark Glennon*   Cynical as we are on this site, I confess to being stunned by some of the numbers about municipal salaries and pensions in The 'Big Dogs' Of Illinois Municipal Government in Forbes this week.   Read every word of it.   Rank and file county employees making over $300,000 per year. A school treasurer/administrator who double dipped the Teacher’s Retirement System and the Illinois Municipal pensions for a combined 2014 income of over $485,000. Small town mayors making over $200,000 per year....

Charlie Hebdo goes on sale in Chicago area; sells out – Redeye Chicago

Illinois Press Already Complaining About Lack of Attention From Rauner, Sanguinetti – Illinois Mirror

We find this particularly interesting, considering this has already been one of the most transparent administrations Illinois has seen in decades in just the first few days in office.

Complaints about ‘media access’ at Rauner inauguration were bunk – WP Original

The only scandal that was hidden from the press: Not enough bars. Took fifteen minutes to get a drink.

Pay Attention, Media: Federal Court Slaps Prosecutors – WP Original

By: Mark Glennon*   John F. Grady is a U.S. Federal District Court judge in Chicago, widely regarded as particularly fair. This week he issued an unusual ruling against prosecutors that the press should heed as well.   Grady slapped the Cook County States Attorney with a rare sanction, saying they "acted in bad faith" during a civil rights case filed against Chicago police and the city. The prosecutors, he said, "obstructed" access to files while the lawsuit was argued in court and...

Clarence page explains why he’s ‘not Charlie’ — and makes a fool of himself Page entirely misses the point of the "I am Charlie" refrain, which is that all of us should support free expression even of cartoons we may think go too far. Which makes him fundamentally right. He's not Charlie.

Worst pension reporting of the week

By: Mark Glennon*   All the regular media in Illinois. That's who botched the primary story this past week on Illinois pensions, which was the annual report of the Auditor General about the five state pensions that certifies amounts to be contributed by taxpayers for the year.   Most stories re-skinned the Associated Press story on the report, linked here, which basically just says the taxpayer contribution will increase by $680 million to about $7.5 billion. That's stenography, not reporting. The real story...

Best article of the week on Illinois is from The Economist

  By: Mark Glennon*   Let's hope every policy maker in Illinois has read America's Greece? in The Economist this week.   It summarizes so much about our fiscal crisis: the true numbers behind our pensions, the unavoidable subject of bankruptcy for some cities, Bruce Rauner's perplexing position that earned pension benefits should not be cut, and the reality that the pension reform bill now in the courts “does not even come close to addressing the problem."   I won't try to summarize because anybody...

Malpractice in Journalism at NBC-5 – WP Original

By: Mark Glennon*   Do Chicago journalists need to make stuff up to do a juicy story about political criminality, greed, and conflicts of interest? At NBC-5, apparently so.   Let's start with a few whoppers by its reporter, Mark Anderson, in an article last week.  The story was about supposed violations by some investment managers of pay-to-play rules because of campaign contributions allegedly made to Rahm Emanuel and Bruce Rauner:   • Rahm, says Mr. Anderson, "breaks the law by financing his re-election campaign...

Another Muckraking Hit from the Sun-Times – WP Original

By: Mark Glennon*   The Sun-Times' front page article today is, "Obama pal Eric Whitaker stonewalls feds on sex question in grant fraud case." It's shameless muckraking and should not have been published. Neither the article nor the record contains any indication of "stonewalling" or other wrongdoing, and the article is loaded with distortions.   By way of background, a Chicago businessman named Leon Dingle and his wife are to be tried in Springfield for conspiracy, mail fraud and money-laundering.  Eric Whitaker formerly...

A transparent stunt by Carol Marin and NBC5 over their Rauner reporting – WP Original

By: Mark Glennon*   Carol Marin and NBC5 evidently smell the backlash and danger to their reputations as the facts gradually come out about the now infamous article by Marin and Dave McKinney, also run in video by Marin on NBC5, alleging that Bruce Rauner threatened a former CEO of a company he invested in.   Both Marin and NBC5 have now issued pieces objecting to use of the original story by the Quinn campaign in its ads.   It's a transparent stunt to try...

A rebuttal on the Dave McKinney issue – The Windy City YR "Bruce Rauner's campaign was not only right to challenge the merit of publishing a poorly sourced story that served a purely political purpose but also to bring up the possible connection between this "war on women" article, its accompanying ad campaign and the wife of the reporter who essentially crafted the very concept of such a campaign."

Has the Sun-Times Given Up on Objectivity? – Illinois Mirror

When Rich Miller Doesn’t Think It’s a Scandal, It Really Isn’t – Illinois Mirror

A Threefer for The Civic Federation – best economic analyses of the week – WP Original

By: Mark Glennon*   Thank goodness for private sector organizations that crunch the real numbers about what's going on with Illinois' economy. The Civic Federation recently published some invaluable reports.   First, their report on true property tax rates for Chicago and its surrounding areas finally publicized what property owners already know -- that rates in many communities have reached death spiral levels, and most of the rest of the area is headed in the same direction. Our article about that study is...

What happens when a ‘reality TV historian,’ gossip columnist becomes an NBC Chicago political reporter? – WP Original

By: Mark Glennon*   Answer: You get reporters like Erin Carlson at NBC Chicago and articles like this from her today: This week in Mudslinging: Rauner's NFL About-Face.   Let's first be clear. Erin has authored plenty of fine work. I couldn't have agreed more than with Ten flat chested stars that should never get boob jobs. And she knows how to reach a male audience. A friend and I wept together as we read Bachelor Ben Flajnik keeps getting dumped. Her...

Anudder day in Chicago – somebody sez some pol took some bribe, Cubs in last place – UPDATED

By: Mark Glennon*   Update 10/1/14: The bribe allegation against Senator Trotter was withdrawn. As we said originally at the bottom of this piece, there was never anything to this.   Da papers are sayin some lawyers for for some guy named Turner sez a state senator named Trotter maybe got 2 Gs from some con who got da doe from a Fed pretendin tuh be some Indian guy. And dis Turner guy is lookin at time cuz da Feds sez he lobbied...

Best pension work for the week – Forest Park Review’s on actuarial shenanigans

We followed this up with our own story on the topic, and on the further questions it raises, which was republished nationally in Pension Tsunami.$200,000-shortfall-/

Best story of the week – The Washington Post

It's not on anything we normally cover here, but some things cannot be ignored.

Best Article of the Week: A Padded Payroll

By: Mark Glennon*   Short and simple stories are always best, if the topic allows for that. Lost in the bigger tale of patronage at the Illinois Department of Transportation is a little pig-at-the-trough story, significant by itself because it's darn good evidence of how Governor Quinn's administration works. A reporter at The News-Gazette, which serves central Illinois, focused just on one individual's compensation and pension in a story titled, A Padded Payroll. Gary Hannig is a former Democratic legislator who became Quinn's director...

A particularly useless article by Carol Marin

By: Mark Glennon*   When a story is headlined "How to press a candidate in a bubble" you should expect to see some "how to," right? Especially if it's written by a highly regarded journalist on something pretty important -- how to get candidates to give detailed answers to serious questions. Well, not if that journalist is the most overrated one in Chicago, Carol Marin.   "Is there a solution" for how to get candidates out of the bubble they hide in, Ms....

Best economic reporting of the week – Michael Lucci at IPI

By: Mark Glennon   If you have any genuine interest in understanding Illinois employment numbers, the must-read work comes from somebody who is not a traditional journalist -- Mike Lucci, a young man at the Illinois Policy Institute. His most recent update, published this week, is linked here, and you should read the whole thing to get a true sense of what's going on with jobs in Illinois. The widely reported unemployment rate has become virtually meaningless because it has been...

Dumb and Dumber: Another awful article on an Illinois city’s municipal pensions – WP Original

 By: Mark Glennon*   Last week we detailed a list of errors and omissions in a story about the Village of Forest Park's police and fire pensions. Despite unfunded liabilities of 58% and 66%, their local paper somehow thought they were "in the healthy zone."   Not to be outdone, The Telegraph, which serves several downstate counties, this week tackled pension issues for Alton, an Illinois city with about 28,000 people on the Mississippi. The article seems to tell us that it's mostly...

Lamest Pension Editorial of the Week is John McCarron’s

Inexcusable errors by a leading commentator.   By: Mark Glennon*   Prominent journalists usually do at least a little homework before publishing opinion articles, but sometimes, none at all. Consider John McCarron's piece published this week in the Chicago Tribune under the headline Cullerton's New Idea to Save Pensions. Mr. McCarron is a long-time leading editorial figure in Illinois, a WTTW regular, and winner of the "prestigious Peter Lisagor Award" for journalism, he says in his bio.   First, Mr. McCarron says Senate President John...

Best opinion piece of the week: Eden Martin on Rauner and taxes

Obey that Editor: “Don’t Fuck with the News” – WP Original

By: Mark Glennon*   A recent Sun-Times article quoted the standing instruction a former editor had for his reporters: "Don't (bleep) with the news." (I'm taking the liberty of interpreting that bleep into what I presume, to his credit, he really said.)   What a terrific rule for reporters to follow, the point being not to trivialize or distort news. So elegantly simple.   Too bad so many reporters don't obey it, including some at the Sun-Times.   This week  the Sun-Times had a story, Five Things to...

Worst and Best Articles of the Week Both on Millennium Park

A magnificent park but a staggering cost. Worthy of a fifth star on Chicago's flag?

UPDATED: A particularly irresponsible article by Greg Hinz at Crain’s

By: Mark Glennon* Update: Friday, 7-11-14: Today, Greg Hinz ran another article doubling down his distortion of this non-story. Hinz says today that he has further information that provides "more reason to believe today that Mr. Rauner didn't know about the contributions."  "More reason"? Ha! The original story left out any suggestion of that. And he runs today's article under the headline Mystery deepens over political donations by Rauner Venture. His spin now is that, as a director, Rauner should...

Lamest pension editorial of the week is from the Sun-Times

Instead of calling for Plan B, how about admitting there never was a Plan A?

Still waiting for apologies and retractions on the Scott Walker criminality stories

By: Mark Glennon*   Last week headlines almost everywhere, including in Illinois media, said prosecutors alleged Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker was at the center of a nationwide criminal fundraising scream. The Sun-Times, for example, ran a headline "Prosecutors: Wis. governor part of 'criminal' fundraising scheme," and their story, taken from its wire services, goes on to say Walker "took part in a nationwide criminal scheme to coordinate fundraising with conservative groups, prosecutors said in court documents."   Wrong. This week the prosecutor took...

Best story of the week: Chicago Business Journal on bar owners getting rich off World Cup

  Cut us some slack on this because we're desperate for positive stories around here and this was another lousy week for Illinois. So, best story of the week goes to Chicago Business Journal's piece on how our bar owners are raking it in because of the World Cup.   Besides, the story was detailed, seriously researched and nicely written, as usual for stories by the author, Lewis Lazare.   Cheers.   Mark Glennon

Tribune’s Skiba wins National Press Club honor

And a blogger from The Patch is recognized for his fight to keep sources confidential.,0,4208632.story?track=rss

Best fiscal reporting of the week: Sun-Times on Chicago’s $200M swap deal

By: Mark Glennon The Sun-Times somehow discovered a potential $200 million hit Chicago could take under a 'swap' transaction the Daley administration executed. It's Tuesday story by Dan Mihalopoulos was thoroughly researched and explained the problem in an understandable way. But let's not get carried away with praise for the Sun-Times on its coverage of government fiscal issues. Its editorial writers seem to have no understanding of pensions and are usually on the wrong side of reform proposals. It's Springfield news...

Best article of the week: Tribune on ‘fetcher bills’

By: Mark Glennon The Chicago Tribune ran an article linked here about "fetcher bills" in Springfield -- a problem that's rarely reported but all too common. The less ethical among lobbyists will introduce a bill hostile to the client of one of their friends, never intending to try to pass it, so his friend can claim success defeating it and charge the client. It's a waste of the legislature's time and a means of shaking money out of businesses and...

Sloppiest pension reporting of the week goes to the Associated Press – WP Original

By: Mark Glennon*   A 56% increase in Chicago's telephone tax might substitute for a huge property tax to solve Chicago's pension crisis, right? That's what the Associated Press would have you believe. Nonsense. The telephone tax wouldn't come remotely close to replacing the property tax increase being considered to help fund Chicago pensions.   An A.P. story starts this way: "Gov. Pat Quinn has signed legislation authorizing Chicago to increase its telephone tax by 56 percent — and possibly avert a huge...

Best quote of the week — from Andy Shaw, BGA

  By: Mark Glennon*   Andy Shaw, President of the Better Government Association, addressed the need to outlaw certain conflicts of interest in an interview with him published this week. He summarized a root, underlying cause of Illinois' problems:   Ed Burke, Speaker Michael Madigan, and Senate President John Cullerton, collectively are responsible for over 60 billion tax dollars per year. All three of them also have private law practices that specialize in getting large corporations and property owners tax breaks on their property...

Kudos to Terry Savage, a journalist who warned about Illinois pensions long ago – WP Original

By: Mark Glennon*   Pension problems ignored compound over time. Illinois would be much better off had it listened to early warnings. Few, if any, journalists warned about them as firmly and early as Terry Savage. As she wrote yesterday, people called her a "scaremonger" when she wrote about the pension problem years ago and, because she was ignored, we face the music today.   Worse, that "scaremonger" charge against pension alarmists continues today. Politicians use it to justify kicking the can down...

Best piece of the week: Getting to the truth on exploding Chicago property taxes – Reboot

Media wrong that say Quinn never promised to make tax increase temporary – IPI

Stop reporting political stunts as serious proposals – WP Original

By: Mark Glennon*   Sen. Terry Link, D-Waukegan, last week aired a plan to stabilize Illinois police and fire pensions, you might have read. It wasn't. It was a stunt -- an attempt to stop any reform of those plans, and it should have been reported that way straight out, as a plain fact. It was "a plan to shore up hundreds of pension funds that cover police and firefighters outside of Chicago," as Greg Hinz at Crain's described it; a...

Is the Chicago Press in Support of Illinois’ High Tax Rates? – Illinois Review

Who ratted on Pat Quinn about the grand jury proceeding? – WP Original

By: Mark Glennon   Grand juries generally work in strict secrecy, so it's interesting to wonder who did it when their work is leaked, which is not terribly common.   Today, the Sun-Times ran an exclusive story about a probe by the Cook County State's Attorney of Governor Quinn's anti-violence program. As part of that probe, the story says, a grand jury issued a subpoena to DCEO, the Illinois Department of Commerce & Economic Opportunity, which administered part of the program. From the...

Recent Wirepoints Originals

Chump Media: Why Sham Votes Happen In Springfield – WP Original

The Wall Street Journal and FOX Business are among those who botched this one worst.

Rahm’s Ramp And The Fate Of Chicago’s Pensions – WP Original

The can has now been kicked on all four city pensions, as shown on the chart.

Plain English Video On Why Phony ‘Balanced’ Budgets Are Key To Our State And Local Fiscal Crises

If you don't know that state and local budgets are deceitful and nearly meaningless, or you don't know why that's so important to understanding our crisis, spend a few minutes watching the video.

Illinois Stumbles Through Fog Towards New School Funding Formula – Wirepoints Original

We know more now, but distortions abound and key points remain unreported or unknowable.

Cook County’s Outrageous Attempt To Charge Plaintiffs $17 Million In Beverage Tax Case – WP Original

Sanctions against the county's lawyers? Maybe, but without a firm and unequivocal decision against Cook County a dangerous precedent will be set.

One Chart Shows Awful Fiscal Trajectory of Chicago Area and Illinois – WP Original

And here's a promise: The trend will continue.

Education Funding Bill is a Monstrosity of Unknown Proportions – Wirepoints Original

Shame on everybody who has let SB1 get as far along as it has with such little understanding, Republicans and Democrats alike.

Rauner’s New Staff, Extremism and the Stockholm Syndrome – Wirepoints Original

That which can't pass the establishment in the General Assembly and its enablers in the press is "too radical" for Illinois.