Clear It with Sidney | Hillman Foundation

Clear It With Sidney

Notes on journalism for the common good, by Lindsay Beyerstein

Clear It with Sidney

EPA Official Pretended to Be a CIA Agent to Avoid Work

I’m not even sure what to say about this revelation from Michael Isikoff of NBC: A senior federal bureaucrat pretended to be working under cover for the CIA in order to avoid work.

The EPA’s highest-paid employee and a leading expert on climate change deserves to go to prison for at least 30 months for lying to his bosses and saying he was a CIA spy working in Pakistan so he could avoid doing his real job, say federal prosecutors.

John C. Beale, who pled guilty in September to bilking the government out of nearly $1 million in salary and other benefits over a decade, will be sentenced in a Washington, D.C., federal court on Wednesday. In a newly filed sentencing memo, prosecutors said that his “historic” lies are “offensive” to those who actually do dangerous work for the CIA.

Beale’s ruse was finally discovered after he very publicly “retired,” but continued to collect his salary. 

#Sidney's Picks: Lobotomies; Big Tobacco; Justin Timberlake's Union Tour

The Best of the Week’s News

  • A judge gave a drunk-driving teen a reduced sentence for killing four people because he supposedly suffered from “affluenza,” meaning that he was too privileged to know right from wrong.

[Photo credit: Wander Mule, Creative Commons.]

The Untold Story of America's Mass Killings

A chilling report by USA Today finds that there’s a mass killing in the U.S. about once every two weeks:

Since 2006, there have been more than 200 mass killings in the United States. Well-known images from Newtown, Aurora and Virginia Tech capture the nation’s attention, but similar bloody scenes happen with alarming frequency and much less scrutiny. USA TODAY examined FBI data – which defines a mass killing as four or more victims – as well as local police records and media reports to understand mass killings in America. They happen far more often than the government reports, and the circumstances of those killings – the people who commit them, the weapons they use and the forces that motivate them – are far more predictable than many might think.

[Photo credit:, Creative Commons.]

"This American Life" wins December Sidney Award for Exposing Racial Profiling in Housing

Nancy Updike and Nikole Hannah-Jones have won the December Sidney Award for House Rules a radio documentary by This American Life based on the Hannah-Jones’ reporting on the Fair Housing Act for ProPublica. The program explains how, starting in the 1930s, the federal government created profound racial segregation in the Northeast with discriminatory housing policies that made residents of black and integrated neighborhoods ineligible for federally-subsidized mortgages. While the federal government was nuturing the white middle class with subsidized homeownership, non-white families were left out in the cold, a legacy that is still reflected in inequality today. Read my interview with the winners for The Backstory

New York's Homeless Children

From Andrea Elliott’s stunning multi-part profile of Dasani, a preteen girl raising her seven siblings in Fort Greene. Dasani is one of New York’s 22,000 homeless children:

Adults who are homeless often speak of feeling “stuck.” For children, the experience is more like a free-fall. With each passing month, they slip further back in every category known to predict long-term well-being. They are less likely to graduate from the schools that anchor them, and more likely to end up like their parents, their lives circumscribed by teenage pregnancy or shortened by crime and illness.

[Photo credit: spotreporting, Creative Commons.]

#Sidney's Picks: Nelson Mandela, Fast Food Strikes, Donor Advised Funds

  • Thousands of fast food workers walked off the job yesterday to demand a living wage. $45 billion earmarked for charity is sitting in so-called “donor advised funds” run by big banks, and legally, it could sit there forever.


[Photo credit: Wander Mule, Creative Commons.]

Think Tank Assault on Education, Health Care, and Taxes

Ed Pilkington of the Guardian does some serious muckraking on right wing think tanks

Conservative groups across the US are planning a co-ordinated assault against public sector rights and services in the key areas of education, healthcare, income tax, workers’ compensation and the environment, documents obtained by the Guardian reveal.

The strategy for the state-level organisations, which describe themselves as “free-market thinktanks”, includes proposals from six different states for cuts in public sector pensions, campaigns to reduce the wages of government workers and eliminate income taxes, school voucher schemes to counter public education, opposition to Medicaid, and a campaign against regional efforts to combat greenhouse gas emissions that cause climate change.


[Photo credit: Han van Hoof, Creative Commons.]

Video: The Changing Face of Unionism

Marc Bussanich of Labor Press attended Hillman’s “Changing Face of Unionism” panel on Monday and shot this video. Read his write-up of the panel discussion featuring Rich Yeselson, Bruce Raynor, Andy Stern, and Sarita Gupta with moderator Raj Goyle. 

Tonight: The Changing Face of Unionism

Join us tonight, Dec 2, for a panel discusion on the future of the union movement with guests Bruce Raynor, Andy Stern, Rich Yeselson, and Sarita Gupta, and moderator Raj Goyle.

A wave of protests swept Walmart on Black Friday and fast food strikes are being planned in 100 cities nationwide. The panel will discuss how campaigns by low-wage workers in the fast food and big box retail are reshaping the labor movement.

This free event is co-sponsored by the Sidney Hillman Foundation and the Rubin Foundation. Refreshments will be served. 

What: The Changing Face of Unionism: New ideas for labor in the 21st Century

When: Dec 2, 6-8pm.

Where: 17 W. 17th St, Manhattan, NY. (8th Floor)

What Part Do I Play in All of This: RSVP to

Pre-Thanksgiving Cornucopia



[Photo credit: Brent Nashville, Creative Commons.]