And now this slightly edited reader email which I thought interesting on a couple of levels:
In the above-cited article, WWL TV reporter David Hammer posed this question: Why does Praveen Kailas seem to get special treatment at every turn?
One possibility is because people who are developers, or are in a family or clique of developers, or are partners of a principal developer in a deal, have direct and indirect relationships with silent partners who are usually powerful people. The silent partners receive interests in the deal for their help in helping the deals succeed. A continuing interest helps the deal continue to succeed. The silent partners are often public officials who the system does not want to expose. People like Praveen Kailas sometimes lead the deal, but often they ride the coattails of principal developers who are closer to the silent partners. To keep control tight, the principal will intimate to all his or her other partners that there is a powerful silent partner in the deal who has a piece of it, but whose name must not be revealed.
It has always been puzzling that reporters who have have indications of the kinds of relationships described above seem to shy away from going the extra mile to learn whether there are silent partners being in and protecting deals. I think Mr. Hammer may have some such indications, yet he posed the question he did without trying to answer it. Apparently, he has not tried to learn all the deals in which Mr. Kailas has an interest and the names of all the other partners in the deals. Are readers supposed to do his work for themselves after he indicates to his readers that “special treatment” may be taking place? Is it really journalism to just pose a question and move on in spite of the fact that trying to answer the question or showing possible explanations from other factual circumstances could be an even bigger story?
There is one reporter whom the record shows did not stop with a question; who did not leave his readers hanging. His name is Dean Baquet, who is now the Managing Editor of The New York Times. After Mr. Baquet left The Times-Picayune in the mid-1980s, he went to work for the Chicago Tribune. In Chicago he dug into the public records and uncovered a network of interlocking relationships and mutual interests in deals among the members of the Chicago City Council. Mr. Baquet wrote a multi-part exposé about what he found, and he won a Pulitzer Prize for it.
Hammerman and Dean Baquet in the same email? I can see that as Hammerman is that good and not yet ruined by the TeeVee news scene. I also can see his reporting has certain people, whom I would term people with heightened knowledge of the operations of City Hall, excited at the possibilities. I’ll be keeping an eye on this case.