Career Calling

August 11, 2013

Sabbath, August 11, 2013

[“Sabbath” is this blog’s Sunday feature that looks beyond jobs and careers.]

Three Local News Heroes

Everyone I know picks on the Chicago Sun-Times.  “It’s so thin.”  “It’s all ads.”  “All they cover is sports.”  The paper is not as thick as it used to be. Some features have gone away or – as the paper will eventually – gone online.  That said, The Chicago Sun-Times provides reporting and commentary that the people of Chicago desperately need.

Today’s paper is a case in point.  Editorials by Carol Marin, Andy Shaw, and Rich Miller explore three stories that citizens and taxpayers should care about more than the results of the Bears’ first exhibition game.  Marin delves into the case of a young prosecutor who was hounded out of her job for not pursuing a high profile, “heater,” case.  The evidence would not support a conviction.  Marin notes that 75% of juvenile cases were not prosecuted because a similar lack of evidence.  When we hear scary stories about street crime and “thugs,” we need to think about how such crimes happen and what could be done to prevent them.  If three-quarters of investigations lead to nothing, a lot of time, money, and law enforcement resources are being wasted.

Andy Shaw’s editorial focuses on shady dealings practiced by high-paid doctors employed by Cook County.  Shaw, a long-time reporter, now heads The Better Government Association, which conducted an investigation that found county doctors at their private practices when they were supposed to be working for the county.  Where other employees are required to swipe in/out of their work place as a way to track time, doctors do not follow that protocol.  Shaw notes that the county is investigating this matter and has taken some action, including the termination of one doctor.  He concludes by challenging Toni Preckwinkle, President of the Cook County Board, to institute better oversight of doctors.

My favorite piece of today’s editorial troika is Rich Miller’s.  Author of the Capital Fax blog, Miller know Illinois politics.  He unveils a hidden aspect of the recent lowering of the state’s bond rating.  Ty Fahner, a prominent member of the Commercial Club of Chicago, gave a speech at the Union League Club in which he challenged ratings agencies to lower the state’s rating rather than being an “enabler” of its financial problems.  Miller documents ties between Fahner’s law firm and management of the state’s bonds, which would give Fahner an incentive to call for big cuts to state pension programs.  This story is important because there have been similar rating cuts for Chicago and Chicago Public Schools.  As in Detroit, it would seem that the banking and investment community will not be happy until it sees every public sector worker getting pennies on the dollar for their retirement income.

In addition to these three editorials, the paper had several articles on issues that impact the city, county, and state.  Nothing online covers these issues as well (nor does the Sun-Times’ competitor, despite offering more “content”).  Good newspapers provide an important public service.  Our democracy will be poorer if they cannot survive.

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