So long, farewell, auf wiedersehen, good bye

  • Written by Charles Richards

It is with mixed feelings that I hand over the ownership of the Regional Publishing Corporation to a new company. Though I retired almost 10 years ago, I still consult with daughter Amy when unusual problems arise. I am greatly hindered by the lack of knowledge of the new technology, especially the Internet.
Heck, I can’t even type!
Also, dealing with the many repressive government regulations is making me almost crazy or at least extremely frustrated. Even ordering basic printing supplies has gotten substantially more complicated. In short, the time has come to turn the company over to new managers who are equipped with both knowledge and money to move comprehensively into the digital age.
Happily for everyone, Amy Richards will continue as publisher. This keeps her busy handling the day-to-day management as she does now. More importantly, she continues the family commitment to the welfare of the communities which we serve. My wife, Gerri, has been very supportive of the time and energy I devoted to the Regional, but she is totally supporting the sale of my company.
There are two points that I want to make here. 1) I am
not selling for health reasons.
2) My wife and I have no plans to move away from Palos Heights.
We have visited Florida, Texas, Arizona and California and soundly rejected moving there or anywhere else. We may spend a few more weeks at our vacation home in northern Wisconsin but never in the winter.
My grandfather was a teacher in rural Missouri and every year or two the family was relocated to a new town’s school which offered higher pay. So Carl Richards promised me that he would not do the same to his family. Stability for me lasted almost 70 years. In fact, our family has retained the same published phone number for 68 years.
Some of our readers may wonder why I chose to sell to the Southwest company. 1) Their leader, Mark Hornung, worked for almost 30 years managing a number of different departments at the Southtown Economist so he knows newspapers and he knows this area well. 2) Hornung’s company wanted to buy our printing plant as well as our building. This was the clincher. I didn’t want to become a landlord. Their company was financially secure.
I will definitely miss serving the local area by providing the news that residents need to make good decisions for themselves and their families. And I’ll miss the happy thanks I get from parents when their son’s or daughter’s name or picture appears in one of my newspapers. I’ll miss helping local business owners run ads that bring in more customers. I will miss seeing the look on the face of the owner of a new newspaper which he has contracted with us to print and he admires the first copy that comes off our press.
It is so very important to sincerely thank all our advertisers because they provide 85 per cent of our newspaper income. Furthermore, thanks are due to our thousands of paid subscribers who read and respond to our ads. Much appreciation is deserved by the many publishers and schools who pay us to print their newspapers and class schedules on our presses. Many thanks to all of the above parties.
I must not fail to mention the scores of journalists, production workers, printers and many others who have served on our staff over the last half century. They made me a more successful publisher. I have also been blessed with a superb administrative support staff. Our in-house accountant has been with us for almost 35 years and our administrative assistant has labored here for nearly 40 years. Our average employee has been working for us for 18 years.
Kudos also to our many vendors of supplies and services. Over time they never let me down when I needed something delivered the next day, even in times of shortages. And I must confess that there were times, many years ago, when some of our vendors were patient in waiting a lot more than the standard 30 days to get paid. Thanks to the other printers and publishers who helped us out in times of emergencies like power outages or press breakdowns although such challenges were extremely rare.
I am proud to report that my company has recycled every single film negative and aluminum plate used since 1972. The same applies to our newspaper recycling program.
Finally, I must mention my thanks to the former Orland State Bank for providing financing of our new Goss printing press in 1970 at a fair interest rate.
Thanks are due to the Illinois Press Association in Springfield. They helped our firm in too many ways to list here during the past fifty years.
Last and perhaps most, I thank my dear wife for putting up with me for almost 50 years. She has been a saint. Perhaps because she is 100 percent Irish American, she could be so tolerant. High praise must also be given to my parents for the love and encouragement they gave me.
I assure you that I have every confidence in the new owners of Regional Publishing. Like me, they know what they are doing.
In conclusion, to paraphrase retiring Army General Douglas MacArthur, “Old publishers never die, they just fish away.”
So long folks.

These television shows aren’t exactly ‘Father Knows Best’

  • Written by Bob Rakow

My daughter, Brigid, recently told me that I was a little close-minded on some things. Not the kind of thing you want to hear from you daughter, but maybe she’s right.
But right or wrong, she had the guts to say it. It wasn’t said disrespectfully or in the tone teenagers often use when annoyed. Rather it was a matter-of-fact statement, and she had examples to back it up.
Love that little girl. At 15 years old and in high school, she’s gaining confidence all the time. Challenging me now will only make it easier for her to stand her ground and make wise choices when she’s older.
Ultimately, isn’t that what fathers and mothers of girls want? Smart young women who aren’t placed into a subservient role by a boyfriend or husband they fear.
I’ve been thinking a great deal about the issue lately and two popular televisions shows—“Duck Dynasty” and “19 Kids and Counting”—are the reasons why.
I’ve never seen the first show but am aware of the premise. I’ve watched the other one many times, but I’m blaming my wife for drawing me in.
“Duck Dynasty” star Willie Robertson’s daughter, Sadie, is one of the contestants this season on “Dancing With the Stars.”
If you’ve never watched the wildly popular show, it features B- and C-list celebrities paired up with professional dancers in competition assessed by a panel of judges and the folks at home.
Robertson, the conservative fellow with the big beard, believes his daughter has done a great job in the early going, but was upset at comments made last week by new judge Julianne Hough who advised Sadie to get more down and dirty with her dancing.
Hough, by the way, previously was a professional dancer on the show.
Robertson said he planned to talk to Hough about the nature of the remark because her advice was not appropriate for his 17-year-old daughter. For her part, Hough said she did not intend to suggest that Sadie should act more provocatively.
Sadie has been impressive so far, especially as she has no previous experience in choreography or dance. Of course, dancing is banned at her high school in Louisiana, so she’s had little opportunity to cut the rug.
Dad also has been involved with Sadie’s wardrobe choices for the show, rejecting some of them for being too skimpy or whatever.
“It is just basic modesty,” Sadie told ABC News. “It’s out of respect that I ask my dad if it’s OK. I’m a Christian, it comes with me everywhere I go.”
I admire that remark. Sadie understands her family’s belief system, the tenants of her faith, and so on. She acts out of respect to her father. Can’t ask for much more than that.
Dad should be proud, advise his daughter in private, have confidence in her choices and let her be the focus of “Dancing With the Stars.” He needs to trust her and let her enjoy her time in the spotlight.
While Sadie Robertson dances, Jim Bob Duggar’s daughters are getting married and having babies on “19 Kids and Counting.”
You probably know the show. An ultra-conservative, Christian family from Arkansas has 19 kids. The show has followed their growth over the past several years.
The oldest boy is married and has three children. A younger girl, Jill, got married recently and already is pregnant. Her sister, Jessa, is getting married in November. Mom is crazy about the idea of grandbabies.
We’ve watched Jill and Jessa go through their courtships—a word we don’t hear much anymore. Then again, how often do dates include chaperones? But that’s how the Duggar’s roll. Younger siblings typically are chosen to join in on lunch dates or other activities.
Physical contact is verboten. Couples hold hands only after they’re engaged. There’s no kissing until marriage, as it might cause raging hormones to explode.
This season, we’ve seen the young man engaged to Jessa go through Jim Bob for approval. Dad apparently knows what’s best for his girls when it comes to relationships and marriage.
He’s even invited the young man to live in the Duggar family guest house and subsequently gave him a “to do” lists rife with chores with which he was unfamiliar—carpentry tasks and the like.
It was uncomfortable to watch Jim Bob determine if this guy measured up to his standards. Jim Bob seemed to be enjoying the moment, though.
Protecting our daughters is a basic instinct, I suppose, but I believe my wife and I have instilled values in our daughter over the years so she makes her own wise choices when she’s older. We trust her.
Clearly, Jim Bob does not trust his girls, and he certainly doesn’t want to see them empowered. Empowered women are strong and educated, make their own choices and respect dad’s advice but don’t blindly follow every word.
If Jim Bob and his wife raised their children right, taught them conservative and Christian values and instilled in them the family belief system, what’s to worry about now that boyfriends are in the picture?
I doubt Jessa is going to sneak over to the guesthouse to get with her fiancée before their wedding day. It would make for one heck of an episode if she did.
“Jessa sins on the Next ‘19 Kids and Counting’.”

Inside The First Amendment Welcome to college, where religious freedom goes to die

  • Written by Charles C. Haynes

In the Orwellian world of many college and university campuses, all faiths are welcome – but some faiths are more welcome than others.
Just this month, for example, California State University (CSU) “derecognized” InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, an evangelical student organization with more than 900 chapters at colleges and universities across the country.
In plain English, this means InterVarsity will no longer be a recognized student club at any of the 23 schools in the CSU system.
InterVarsity can still meet on campus – but minus the benefits accorded recognized student organizations, including access to meeting rooms and official university events.
Not only will InterVarsity now have a difficult time reaching students, an InterVarsity spokesman estimates that losing these benefits will cost each chapter up to $20,000 annually.
De-recognition of conservative religious groups is happening at many other schools, an exclusionary process that is affecting student organizations representing evangelicals, Mormons, Catholics and others.
Why are colleges and universities – places of higher learning supposedly committed to the free exchange of ideas and beliefs – withdrawing recognition from these groups?
For one simple reason: InterVarsity and other conservative religious clubs require student officers to affirm the faith of the group they lead.
College and university officials argue that their non-discrimination policies prohibit student organizations from imposing a faith-based requirement for leadership. Any student must be eligible to lead any group – whatever his or her beliefs.
In other words, in what can only be described as Newspeak, many universities now define “non-discrimination” as requiring discrimination against conservative religious groups.
But aren’t policies barring student clubs from imposing faith-based eligibility criteria for leadership unconstitutional violations of religious liberty and freedom of association – at least at public universities where the First Amendment applies?
Not according to the U.S. Supreme Court. In 2010, a deeply divided Court held in Christian Legal Society v. Martinez that so-called “all comers” policies are constitutional. As a result, public colleges and universities are now free to require all student clubs to allow any student to be eligible for leadership of the group.
Since that ruling, Intervarsity and other conservative Christian organizations have been “derecognized” at a growing number of public universities. And some private universities have invoked the reasoning behind the High Court’s decision to defend their exclusion of some religious groups from recognition.
Students of faith on many campuses are now faced with the cruel choice of either compromising their faith by permitting any student to be eligible for leadership (which often includes leading worship and scripture study) or following their conscience and losing the benefits of being a recognized student club.
The move toward “all comers” policies directed at conservative religious groups has been triggered by what many perceive as a clash between religious claims and LGBT rights – a clash that is, of course, at the heart of many other culture war battles today.
Until this culture war fight erupted, few questioned the reasonableness of allowing the Republican club to require that their leaders be Republican or the environmental club to require that their officers be environmentalists.
But the growing commitment of colleges and universities to ensure non-discrimination for LGBT students – a commitment I strongly applaud – has been accompanied by a backlash against those religious groups whose views on sexuality are reflected in their requirements for leadership.
It should be underscored that such faith-based requirements are not aimed at excluding LGBT students from leadership roles, but rather intended to ensure that whomever is selected to lead the club – a form of ministry – adheres to the core convictions of the faith.
In response to the de-recognition and exclusion of student clubs like InterVarsity, a number of states – including North Carolina, Idaho, Virginia and Ohio – have enacted laws ensuring that student groups at public universities have the right to adopt eligibility criteria for its officers consistent with their religious beliefs.
But it shouldn’t take legislation to get colleges and universities to uphold religious liberty and freedom of association by creating an open and welcoming environment for a broad range of beliefs and faiths.
When colleges and universities enforce “inclusion” by excluding some religious voices, they cripple the spirit of free inquiry and robust debate that should be at the heart of their mission. The “marketplace of ideas,” it should be remembered, is not confined to the “marketplace of ideas we like.”

Charles C. Haynes is director of the Religious Freedom Center of the Newseum Institute, 555 Pennsylvania Ave., N.W., Washington, DC 20001. Web: Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

The jury is out on this duty

  • Written by Bob Rakow


Bobs Column - The B SideJury summons.
I complained since the day it arrived.
Where? Cook County Criminal Courts. 26th Street and California Avenue. Not the Bridgeview or Markham branches of the circuit court, which are much closer to my home.
When? A Tuesday. Deadline day here at the Reporter.
Then again, I was a standby juror. Maybe when I call the court the day before my assigned date, I’d find out they wouldn’t need me. It worked a few years ago for my wife.
No such luck. Individuals with last names beginning with D through R were to report. I guess Bob Rakow was spending a day at the Criminal Courts Building.
The trip there was less hectic than I expected despite Western Avenue construction that detoured cars to Damen Avenue. I still arrived in plenty of time and checked into the jury room before 9:30 a.m.
I was on panel 43. There was a decent chance that panel would not be called. After all, I never made it past the waiting room the last time I had jury duty at criminal court.
Instead, I spotted former Oak Lawn Trustee Steve Rosenbaum back then and chatted with him most of the day. I got into a car crash on the way home that afternoon, but wasn’t called for jury duty. Hey, I’m a “glass half full” kind of guy.
This time there were no familiar faces in the waiting room and no traffic accidents on the way home, but my jury panel was the third one called. It was looking more and more like I’d be spending some time in the jury box.
A large group was led on a long walk from the jury room to a courtroom on the seventh floor. Other proceedings were ongoing, so we were forced to wait in the hallway for nearly an hour.
When we finally were seated, the judge told us we were potential jurors in a case involving battery and some lesser charges. He introduced the prosecuting attorneys and the defendant, who was acting in his own defense.
At one point, the defendant called for a sidebar and approached the bench—probably a big “Law and Order” fan. It was the most amusing moment of the day—the defendant as Johnnie Cochran.
The judge then read the names of all the potential witnesses, offered some other instructions and sent us to lunch. A 90-minute lunch. I’d have settled for a half-hour break. There’s nothing to do in the courthouse, and the cafeteria food is average at best.
But the extra time did give me a chance to write a story for the Reporter. If you read last week’s Oak Lawn flooding update story, it was written in the jury waiting room, which is a great place to get stuff done. It’s quiet, there’s usually no one to talk to and working on something helps pass the time.
I returned to the courtroom at 2 p.m. ready to face questions from the attorneys and the defendant acting in his own defense. Maybe I’d be selected, maybe not. As I entered the jury box, I noticed my hefty paycheck for $17.50 on my chair.

Inside The First Amendment - Social media no longer just free expression ‘toy box’

  • Written by Gene Policinski

 Time to take social media out of the freedom of expression “toy box.”

Serious issues and serious work now abound in this relatively young method by which we not only exchange information, but also to rally to causes and hold public officials accountable.
Just a few years ago, scarcely a few percent of Americans turned to Twitter, Facebook and the like for real news and issues. The medium was dismissed as the stuff of gossip, personal notes and largely meaningless personal snapshots. 
And ok, fascination with the “selfie” persists today.
But from controversy in Ferguson, Mo., to tragedies in the Middle East to the flap over hacked nude photos of celebrities to serious debate over domestic abuse and pro athletes, social media is driving public discussion and debate that is the essence of First Amendment freedoms.
The passion of public protest (in other words, the freedoms of assembly and petition), was extended and multiplied in Ferguson, Mo., where street demonstrations over the shooting death of Michael Brown instantly reached a world audience – and may well have been eclipsed in impact by virtual protests.
A photo posted on Aug. 13 of more than 200 Howard University students with their hands and arms in the air, accompanied by the Twitter hashtag “#dontshoot,” became an iconic expression online, and prompted hundreds of posts of similar poses – and thousands of comments.
Even as what many saw as a stereotypical and negative photo of Brown was released by authorities – showing his hands making what some claimed was a gang sign – thousands posted online photos at “#iftheygunnedmedown,” showing two images of the same person side-by-side, one playing to a violent image but the other showing innocent scenes, often with family members and young children.
  The ISIS thugs chose to use social media to post horrific videos of their brutal slayings of two U.S. journalists and a British aid worker, and they reportedly also make sophisticated use of the online medium to recruit others to their ranks. In effect, these terrorists used “freedom of speech” for vile purposes.
  Even what is not on social media gets attention: Using their own free expression rights to determine what content will appear in their sites, social media operations made decisions to remove and prevent reposting of the ISIS murder videos, and took quick action to prevent the spread of purloined nude photos of several celebrities.
All just new aspects of an age-old question for editors and broadcasters: What to do with graphic, disturbing and or vulgar images that are in the news?