Since I set foot as an employee in my first newsroom more than 40 years ago, I have had the privilege and opportunity to see what comprises a newspaper’s brain trust-the men and women who research, dissect and write the editorials. Generally they are just like the rest of us, sometimes a little smarter, but with a strong penchant for political leanings -one side or the other but rarely in the middle.

Somehow though, newspapers have convinced us since the 18th Century, or maybe we have convinced them that castigating government officials is a good thing. That soon morphed into newspapers, through endorsements, telling the public for whom we should vote. Over the decades these news outlets seem to be as concerned with election cycles generating ad revenues, as they are about whether voters are embracing the endorsements.

A couple of years ago the Chicago Sun Times editorial minds did some soul searching and admitted there was no compelling evidence that their endorsements swayed voters; so they were exiting the endorsement arena. Less than a year later the paper spun on its heels and decided the Chicago Tribune couldn’t have that arena to itself; and announced it was back in the endorsement business. Not only were back in the endorsement game, the paper opted to endorse Bruce Rauner- a multi-millionaire with zero political experience, and an agenda that seemed far more business than governmental.

While the paper might not be willing to opine that maybe former Gov. Pat Quinn should have gotten its nod, it certainly is reeling it is backing of the business governor.  Illinois’ state budget quagmire,  crippled social service agencies, and education’s precarious financial position not only point to Rauner’s shortcomings; they tell us newspapers should limit themselves to the providing the news, and from there voters can make their own decisions about who should be in public office.

 If Pat Quinn is re-elected, Illinois can expect a continued slow ascent. ….The danger — the real and formidable danger — is that recovery at this speed, such as it is, won’t come soon enough to save our state from ultimate and permanent economic decline. …..Rauner, a private equity investor by nature and politician by choice, does seem to understand down to his toes that time is up — big things have to happen fast or Illinois will become a backwater state, so economically far behind it can never recover. Illinois is desperate for big change, not cautious steps. Chicago Sun Times October 2014
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Rauner good or bad for Illinois? The Sun Times can’t seem to decide

But it was Rauner who set the rules of this fight. He would approve no tax increase, which is essential to any honest new budget, until he got his way on specific pro-business, anti-union policy changes. He has gotten nothing. Instead, the entire state, especially Chicago, is being destroyed by Springfield’s inaction. Whatever the merits of Rauner’s “Turnaround Agenda,” he has failed politically. Chicago Sun Times June 2016

 

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