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The [Thursday] Papers

"Mayor-elect Lori Lightfoot said Thursday there is 'no muscling of anybody' involved in her request for corporate donations to help bankroll her abbreviated transition and May 20 inauguration, calling the controversy 'much ado about nothing," the Sun-Times reports.

"The Chicago Sun-Times reported this week that Lightfoot's transition team, operating under the non-profit umbrella corporation known as Better Together Chicago, had asked Chicago's movers-and-shakers to make five- and six-figure contributions in time to meet a May 1 deadline."

I wrote about the paper's revelation on Wednesday, awarding a three-way Worst Person In Chicago designation to a trio of Lightfoot staffers.

"There's no muscling of anybody. There are people across the city who enthusiastically reached out and asked how they could be supportive . . . of transition efforts and supportive of inaugural efforts. We are directing them in different ways they can be helpful," she said.

"We're doing everything we can to respond, but do it in a way that's consistent with my views around good government . . . This is very standard. We have a process by which we have to ask in a timeline. This is kind of much ado about nothing."

Okay. But why the refusals to name the donors, explain the solicitation process, discuss guard rails for inevitable conflicts-of-interest from contributors who have or will have business with the city, and all around refusals to comment?

Sun-Times: "On another subject . . . "

Or, in Internet-speak: ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

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Unasked question for Lightfoot: Does your commitment to good government standards include opening up the books and answering our questions about how you are funding the transition and inaugural?

It's not hard.

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"Also during a wide-ranging interview Thursday, Lightfoot refused to disclose the size of the budget shortfall she is inheriting.

Lightfoot recently emerged from a meeting with Mayor Rahm Emanuel's financial team calling the shortfall "dire" and infinitely worse than she anticipated.

"There'll be an appropriate time for us to talk about the particulars. But I want to talk about them in the public when we have specific solutions to some of these challenges that we're facing. And now is not that time," she said.

Sun-Times, again: ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

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Unasked question for Lightfoot: I thought you promised to be more transparent than your predecessor. You know, not withhold public information for political reasons so you can develop a message around it and spin it for your own purposes.

Alternate question for Lightfoot: So we're going to have to FOIA the size of the budget shortfall? Okay, hang on a second, I have a FOIA form right here . . .

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"I don't think it's fair to residents and taxpayers to talk about this on the fly without having a very specific plan of action to address the challenges."

Unasked questions for Lightfoot: How is it not fair to residents and taxpayers to tell them the truth when it becomes known to you? How is it fair that you are withholding budget information from residents and taxpayers? Is this a case of the mayor deciding the public can't handle the truth? Is that really a change from the previous administration?

But one at a time.

In other words, learn how to conduct an interview!

That's quite a different activity than showing up with a microphone and notebook and saying, "Go!" You might as well have just had Lightfoot write the article.

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Administrations change, but reporters don't.

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"Lightfoot said she 'finds it curious' that her former colleagues at the U.S. Attorney's office have asked to push back the deadline yet again - this time, until June 7 - to indict Ald. Edward Burke (14th), deposed chairman of the City Council's Finance Committee."

"Whatever is coming, let it come and come quickly. It's not a good thing for the health and well-being of our city - and certainly the legitimacy of the government - to have these clouds hanging overhead and not knowing when the storm is gonna break," Lightfoot said.

"I don't know what the particulars are. I don't know the nuances. I don't know who the targets of the investigations are - obviously beyond Burke and [former Zoning Committee Chairman Danny] Solis. But, we can't have people who have committed crimes functioning as elected officials and doing business with the city. That curtain needs to be drawn back. We need to see it - sooner rather than later. Whatever it is, we'll deal with it."

Sun-Times, again: ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

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Unasked questions for Lightfoot: Are you really asking federal agents to rush their investigation for the sake of your agenda? You were a federal prosecutor once, how would you have felt then if a mayor asked you to hurry up so the city could operate without 'clouds' hanging over its head? Doesn't the city always have clouds hanging over it?

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The thing about interviewing is this: You have to listen. Then respond to what you're being told. Don't just accept a first-level answer filled with typical non-answer rhetoric. If you do, that's all you get - and you'll be known for accepting just that.

And your job isn't to ask questions, it's to get answers. Those who think the job is to just ask questions just tick off a list of topics. Asked. Asked. Asked.

But when you view your job as getting answers, your list looks a little bit different.

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"Yeah, but no matter how much I press, they won't answer!"

Sometimes this is true, and quite often it isn't. It's still your job. And you'd be surprised how much a subject will engage with you once you demonstrate your persistence and knowledge of a topic. Turn the interview into a conversation and see how much that changes the dynamic. Instead, it's like putting on a little play, with each side understanding their role. "I'm going to ask you a bunch of predictable questions, you will answer with evasive rhetoric, and we'll all be home for dinner." This makes it easier on everyone, but it's not what the job is.

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"But if I stick with one question until I get an answer - or exhaust my options for trying to get an answer, I won't have time to ask my other questions!"

So! Decide what the most important question you have is, and stick with that. If that's all you get to, so be it! Nobody needs a "round-up" story of prepared answers. Again, you could just have the subject's staff mail that in. Don't be afraid to have one-subject interview. You might be surprised the places that will take you. And more importantly, your readers. Because that's who you do this job for. How are they benefiting from your interview style? Because that's the point. Asking questions is not like putting another widget on the assembly line. "I asked my five questions; now my shift is over and I'm going home!" Again, that's not the job.

Getting answers is.

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"But it's not that easy! Have you ever tried getting answers from [CPS, CPD, the mayor's office]?"

Yes. Yes I have. Only the worst reporters respond that way - and that's because they are rarely the ones who try. The job is not easy. And you don't always get the answers you want. But the job is to at least try. To learn the techniques and skills to get there. Plenty of reporters do it every single day. They just don't tend to be the ones covering City Hall, and that baffles me.

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New on the Beachwood . . .

Serving The Servant
Former Nirvana manager Danny Goldberg's new book about Kurt Cobain, in interviews and excerpts.

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ChicagoReddit

Looking for a puppy we fostered in south Arkansas before being taken to Chicago for adoption from r/chicago

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ChicagoGram

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ChicagoTube

SportsVision Commercial Breaks, 1988.

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TweetWood
A sampling.

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The Beachwood McRibTipLine: Means and ends.



Permalink

Posted on May 2, 2019


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PEOPLE PLACES & THINGS - Wisconsin's Big Marketing Cheese.


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