Saturday, May 30, 2015

FAQ's about FWIW

Now that Cook County judicial candidates are starting to reveal their 2016 plans, this seems an appropriate time to address some questions prospective candidates or their supporters may have about this blog. (A lot of this stuff is already addressed in the blog Sidebar, but it may not hurt to spell it out here, too.)
  1. This is a non-partisan blog. I want to cover all candidates running for judge in Cook County. Because Democratic candidates have historically enjoyed such tremendous success in this county, most of the posts here will be about candidates in the Democratic primary. But I will gladly cover Republican candidates, too. If a candidate has a website, I will link to it and (when I get it set up) post it in the blog Sidebar.
  2. This blog does not make endorsements. I'm sure to know some of the candidates who will be covered here, whether I've had cases with or against them over the years, or we've officed together, or because we've met through bar functions, or because we've met through this blog. I will mention significant connections, but I don't think the public cares how many candidates I've met and I am certain the public does not care who I intend to vote for. I've made an editorial decision to try and present all candidates in the most positive light that I can, especially in my first post about a campaign. When the bar association evaluations come out, later in the election cycle, I will also report these -- and, of course, not all of the evaluations will be positive. But I'm not going to go out of my way to slam anyone.

    I believe the best candidates will distinguish themselves when as much information about all candidates as possible is presented for the voters' consideration. In addition to bar evaluations, I will advise of newspaper endorsements (if they're made) or community group or union endorsements (when I can verify them). On the other hand, while I won't make individual endorsements, I have been a lawyer for 35 years and I have fairly well-developed opinions about what I want for my clients when I appear in court. I reserve the right to talk about that -- in general terms -- in future posts.
  3. I want to publicize candidates' events. I'm happy to put up information about candidate fundraisers. But I will cheerfully publicize other candidate events as well. (Organizers of candidate forums are encouraged to contact this blog so I can promote their events.) If a candidate wants to promote a speaking engagement or publicize a petition party, I'll run that, too. I will try and include photographs if the candidate or his or her campaign provides them. Please keep in mind that I have my own practice to run and I can't possibly find out about all candidate events on my own. That means I rely on candidate requests for publicity. I'm sure I'll hear from some campaigns ten times or more; there will probably be others that I'll never hear from once. That does not mean I'm playing favorites; I'm merely responding to the email I receive.
  4. Judicial candidates and committees do not pay for posts appearing on this blog. I do not book the Google ads on that appear on this page, and candidate ads may sometimes appear in those spaces, but I personally do not accept candidate ads. (I will accept ads from persons or companies looking to offer products or services to judicial candidates; see the blog Sidebar for additional information.)

    In this early stage of the election cycle, judicial election posts on FWIW are read primarily by candidates, their supporters, and persons who are thinking about running for judge in the future. A lot of judges tell me that they visit here regularly; so do persons affiliated with the various bar association judicial evaluation committees. Ultimately, however, as the primary date draws close, this site will be increasingly visited by voters looking for information. The information that candidates and their supporters have provided, post by post, will be collected and 'packaged' for the voters. Candidates may want to look at past Organizing the Data posts to get a feel for the kind of information has been collected and posted. I'm always looking to enhance the functionality of this site and I reserve the right to make any improvements within my abilities.)
  5. I am a lawyer, not a professional journalist. However, since professional journalists insist on ignoring judicial elections, I will do the best I can. Having run for judge twice myself (in 1994 and 1996) I appreciate just how little opportunity judicial candidates have to get their credentials before the public. I've already stated my editorial bias in favor of trying to present candidates in the best possible light, at least in my initial post about any given campaign. However, I reserve the right to fact-check information provided, to add information I've discovered on my own, to combine or even ignore duplicative releases. In short, I reserve the right to edit.
  6. Comments on this blog are 'moderated.' This means I read any comment that anyone cares to leave and decide whether or not it will get posted. I will not automatically exclude anonymous comments, but I'd greatly prefer you leave a name. I don't think that comments from friends and family like "he's the best" or "she's the most qualified" are going to really sway any voters when the time comes -- but I will generally let these kinds of comments through. I will, however, block "attack" comments, especially from anonymous commenters.

    I understand that this is a blog and there is an expectation, for better or worse, that all Internet commentary should be freewheeling and even pungent. But this is my blog and I reserve the right to have my own expectations.

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