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Clear it with SidneyHow our blog got its name >

 
Notes on journalism for the common good
by Lindsay Beyerstein

How our blog got its name

Sidney Hillman was a powerful national figure during the Great Depression, a key supporter of the New Deal, and a close ally of President Franklin D. Roosevelt.

When the rumor spread that President Roosevelt ordered his party leaders to “clear it with Sidney” before announcing Harry S. Truman as his 1944 running mate, conservative critics turned on the phrase, trumpeting it as proof that the president was under the thumb of “Big Labor.”

Over the years, the phrase lost its sting and became a testament to Hillman's influence.

It's hard to imagine a labor leader wielding that kind clout today, but we like the idea—and we hope Sidney would give thumbs up to our blog.

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Walmart's Mexican Bribe Machine

 

The New York Times expands its ground-breaking expose of Walmart's Mexican bribery spree. In one shady deal, the retailer used bribes to literally wipe zoning obstacles off the map, in order to build a mega-store in the shadow of an sacred heritage site:

The plan was simple. The zoning map would not become law until it was published in a government newspaper. So Wal-Mart de Mexico arranged to bribe an official to change the map before it was sent to the newspaper, records and interviews show. Sure enough, when the map was published, the zoning for Mrs. Pineda’s field was redrawn to allow Wal-Mart’s store.

Problem solved. [NYT]

The article describes Walmart as an "an aggressive and creative corrupter." The company didn't just use bribes to expedite legal processes, it paid big bucks to flout the law completely.

 

[Photo credit: Crawfishpie, Creative Commons.]

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