Fired for words
August 1, 2005 2:03 PM   Subscribe

Gary Skoien terminated for putting a bounty on Da Mayor's head Skoien was fired from his high powered day job at Prime Group by his boss - a Daley democrat apparently - for putting a $10K bounty on Mayor Daley for information leading to his arrest. Doug Ibendahl, founder and coordinator of the Republican Young Professionals, said the bounty is unprofessional and Skoien should be removed as heaqd of the GOP in Cook County. Yeah, but fired? Prime Group CEO Michael Reschke said Friday that Skoien fatally blunted his effectiveness in the company and that the Daley administration did not influence his firing. "Gary positioned himself where he can no longer be an effective executive officer of our company," said Reschke, who has made political contributions mostly to Democrats, including at least $2,000 to Daley, but also to a few Republicans, including at least $250 to Skoien. Truly, Chicago is not the most corrupt American city. It's the most theatrically corrupt.
posted by Smedleyman (38 comments total)

 
Previously posted background here

The statement attributed to Voltaire comes to mind:
"I disagree with what you say but will defend to the death your right to say it"
posted by Smedleyman at 2:07 PM on August 1, 2005


He can say what he wants, but he shouldn't be surprised when his boss says "you're fired."

When officers of companies start saying stupid things in public they drive off potential customers, and since that's just not going to be an acceptable outcome to owners or shareholder, who are solely involved in most businesses for the money, they should be shown the door.
posted by bshort at 2:20 PM on August 1, 2005


I can understand why his boss fired him. I'm all for free speech but there is one thing that I agreee with the republicans on. Freedom of Speech does not mean freedom from the consequences of your speech.

Your employer can fire you for any reason. In this particular case his employer felt that he had crossed the line past personal politics and was choosing to act in an improper manner. I don't think anyone can characterize putting a bounty on the mayor's head as squarely in the bounds of propriety
posted by Rubbstone at 2:21 PM on August 1, 2005


Decent Kass column on the subject.
posted by Smedleyman at 2:22 PM on August 1, 2005


Also, for another example of this sort of nonsense: see GoDaddy.com. Their president alienated large swaths of their customers and had to make a public apology.
posted by bshort at 2:22 PM on August 1, 2005


Bah. Chicago is corrupt, sure, but Miami's corruption puts everyone else's to shame on the scales of sheer bizarreness. Read more on our beloved (and re-elected) Mayor Loco, and more recently, Art Teele, who when indicted on charges related to loan fraud, drugs, and prostitution, shot himself in the head in the lobby of the Herald. The Herald, of course, did the tasteful thing, and ran a picture of his body lying in a pool of blood on the front page. I'd find more links (there are plenty) but I've got class to attend...
posted by louie at 2:22 PM on August 1, 2005


I can only hope there is equivalent outrage on Metafilter when a GOP-friendly boss fires an underling for liberal tendencies.
posted by Rothko at 2:25 PM on August 1, 2005


Oh! I knew I forgot a true classic... Joe Gersten. Read and enjoy.
Gersten's calamitous fall began April 29, 1992, when he reported to police that his ice-blue Mercedes-Benz had been stolen from his Hardee Road home in Coral Gables. The next morning police spotted small-time drug dealer Kenneth Elswick driving the car in Miami and arrested him. Elswick in turn led investigators to Claudia Lira, a prostitute who helped him rob Gersten at knifepoint while the commissioner allegedly was having sex and smoking crack with hooker Tracy Sheehan in a ramshackle drug den on NE 31st Street, just east of Biscayne Boulevard. Another eyewitness, Robert Maldonado, corroborated their story, saying the Mercedes had been taken from the crackhouse -- not Gersten's home.
Top that, Chicago ;)
posted by louie at 2:25 PM on August 1, 2005


I can only hope there is equivalent outrage...

What outrage? All the comments so far have read along the lines of bshort's: He can say what he wants, but he shouldn't be surprised when his boss says "you're fired."
posted by voltairemodern at 2:31 PM on August 1, 2005


i don't think he should have been fired either, especially not if the accusations of corruption were merited. "right" or "left" political formulations are a poor substitute for "right" and "wrong" ones.
posted by all-seeing eye dog at 2:36 PM on August 1, 2005


Truly, Chicago is not the most corrupt American city.

More corrupt than New Orelans?
posted by Relay at 2:43 PM on August 1, 2005


What outrage? All the comments so far have read along the lines of bshort's: He can say what he wants, but he shouldn't be surprised when his boss says "you're fired."

"Irony: the use of words to express something other than and especially the opposite of the literal meaning "

If I'm reading him correctly, the point is that when a GOP hack says something stupid and gets fired there's no outrage, but when a Demo hack says something stupid and gets fired all of a sudden the First Amendment Posse rides again. But, hey, it's Alex so I have no idea what he's really saying.
posted by thedevildancedlightly at 2:47 PM on August 1, 2005


still, what i said before, but the point about employment being at-will is valid, so really i suppose it could be argued that it's a personal decision that should be left to the employer, assuming he's got a legitimate complaint about the revenue losses. but this is a tough one.
posted by all-seeing eye dog at 2:55 PM on August 1, 2005


What outrage? All the comments so far have read along the lines of bshort's: He can say what he wants, but he shouldn't be surprised when his boss says "you're fired."

Not true. See mine and Smedleyman's comments above.
posted by all-seeing eye dog at 2:57 PM on August 1, 2005


Rothko: "tendencies" is a strawman. As a local GOP bigwig, this guy's tendencies were probably well known for quite a while preceding his "bounty" and firing.
posted by aaronetc at 3:02 PM on August 1, 2005


If I'm reading him correctly, the point is that when a GOP hack says something stupid and gets fired there's no outrage, but when a Demo hack says something stupid and gets fired all of a sudden the First Amendment Posse rides again. But, hey, it's Alex so I have no idea what he's really saying.

No, you're reading my comment incorrectly. But hey, it's tddl, so it's going to be more misguided apologia for the GOP, etc. etc.
posted by Rothko at 3:09 PM on August 1, 2005


But hey, it's tddl, so it's going to be more misguided apologia for the GOP, etc. etc.

What does "misguided apologia" and an absolutely incorrect ad-hominem attack have to do with corrupt Chicago politics, a beast all its own? If anybody needs to apologize in Chicago it's the whole Daly family. Just sayin'.
posted by thedevildancedlightly at 3:18 PM on August 1, 2005


If anybody needs to apologize in Chicago it's the whole Daly family. Just sayin'.

Yes, they need to apologize for not drinking the GOP kool-aid. Makes sense.
posted by Rothko at 3:21 PM on August 1, 2005


Yes, they need to apologize for not drinking the GOP kool-aid.

No, they need to apologize for rigging elections and hiring politically-connected dead men over (live) qualified candidates whose daddy didn't hand out pamphlets for the Machine thirty years back.

That having been said, I'm sure Skoien isn't too surprised to have been fired. There's a big difference between being fired for having a bumper sticker on your car and being fired for making statements to the press; and there's also a difference between issuing a press release that says Daley is corrupt and calling for new leadership and one offering a $10,000 bounty. The bounty was a clever move by the Cook County GOP, but it was clever because it was intended to get attention and to shock, and if Skoien thought stirring up a hornets' nest was going to endear him to his Daley-democrat employer than he's an idiot.
posted by IshmaelGraves at 3:40 PM on August 1, 2005


No, they need to apologize for rigging elections and hiring politically-connected dead men over (live) qualified candidates whose daddy didn't hand out pamphlets for the Machine thirty years back

Not to derail, but both parties do this. Much of the controversy in presidential ballot results from Florida (2000) and Ohio (2004) are similar in detail, with a presidential election having a much greater impact on the country than a Chicago mayoral election. Given the treatment troutfishing received here regarding those reports, all I'll say is that the outrage over Daly's alleged activities in this thread is half laughably ironic and half tragic. Back to GOPfilter, I guess.
posted by Rothko at 3:58 PM on August 1, 2005


Yes, they need to apologize for not drinking the GOP kool-aid. ... Back to GOPfilter, I guess.

Your persecution complex is impressive, but to try and deny that Daley is among the most corrupt mayors in America is somewhere between astounding and almost troll-worthy.

The Daley family is notorious for recieving votes from dead men, jailed felons, and non-existant people. These aren't "alleged" events, these have been confirmed with over 20 convictions in the most recent hiring scandal:
How corrupt were the hiring practices?
- One of the candidates was hired based on high scores in his interview. The only problem is that he had died prior to the interview, casting some doubt on the validity of his scores.
- A color-coded chart was in circulation throughout City departments which showed the job applicants’ ties to political organizations.
- A “blessed list” was circulated, allegedly containing names of applicants the Mayor’s office wanted hired.
- “One witness said some job winners were ‘goofballs,’ and another said Mr. Sorich responded to complaints of a favored candidate being a drunk by saying, ‘Do the best you can with him.’”
- The most recent arrests were of Robert A. Sorich of the Office of Intergovernmental Affairs and Patrick R. Slattery of the Department of Streets and Sanitation. Sorich’s father was Old Man Daley’s personal photographer. Slattery just married one of the current Mayor’s personal secretaries. It’s just one big happy family down at City Hall.
Source
The Daley administration is so corrupt that nobody noticed when a Columbian drug cartel set up business in the Water Department.

The current Daley's father is widely accused of massive vote fraud in the Nixon-JFK election, including a large number of ballots arriving in Cook County from long-deceased absentee voters.

The current Daley has hired only those who support his political campaigns, including 9 of 10 who work to register Daley voters.

Now do you want to tell me that this is all somehow just a giant GOP sham designed to personally piss you off, or admit that yes, the Daley mayoral office is corrupt and move on with life?
posted by thedevildancedlightly at 4:08 PM on August 1, 2005


He either knew he'd be fired or wanted to be fired. Now he's got wicked street cred with the GOP and I'm sure Bush is eyeing him for some top level position for "playing ball".
posted by fenriq at 4:11 PM on August 1, 2005


He either knew he'd be fired or wanted to be fired. Now he's got wicked street cred with the GOP and I'm sure Bush is eyeing him for some top level position for "playing ball".

Any evidence to support that? Any evidence whatsoever? Anything suggesting that he even wants a job with the party?
posted by thedevildancedlightly at 4:22 PM on August 1, 2005


Rothko: Some good points in there. I can't really claim to know enough about Daly's background or activities to be outraged by him. But the big question for me is this: If an employer can fire you on the grounds that engaging in constitutionally protected political speech outside of work is affecting their bottom line, why shouldn't they be able to fire you for lesser political speech acts, like having a controversial bumper sticker on your car, if they can reasonably claim they lost revenues (say you're a pizza truck driver, and the employer claims a percentage of your tips)? Since just about everyone in America is an "at-will" employee, setting precedents like this seems really dangerous. Although considering all the much worse things happening lately in the rights department (like the erosion of basic constitutional rights), maybe this is just a tiny drop in a great big bucket. Just curious, where would you draw the line?
posted by all-seeing eye dog at 4:23 PM on August 1, 2005


Yeah, yeah, yeah. Daley's corrupt, but man have you seen Millennium Park? That place is the bomb! And the bean, that thing is off the chain (at least the part of it that's poking out of the tent as the union iron workers finish polishing it, a year behind schedule and hundreds of thousands of dollars over budget). And there's hardly any bum's in it too. And magnificent mile now has, like, a bazillion boutiques where I can buy a 400$ pair of shoes for my Lincoln Park trixie. And don't forget all the urban renewal that now allows me to buy some brick box condo in the heart of a culturally and architecturally rich neighborhood which I can then flip in two years and make a bundle as I bail to the burbs leaving the area devoid of character but rife with Starbucks and poorly constructed condos. None of this would have been possible without Daley. So lay of the guy, he's done a lot for the city.

That being said though, offer a reward for information of wrongdoing, not information of wrongdoing by one specific guy. That's just lowdown, mean and ugly, and cliche as it may sound, two wrongs don't make a right.
posted by grandcrewno2 at 4:24 PM on August 1, 2005


The current Daley's father is widely accused of massive vote fraud in the Nixon-JFK election, including a large number of ballots arriving in Cook County from long-deceased absentee voters.

These days, being "widely accused" doesn't mean a whole lot. All the link that you included provides is this folksy anecdote:

"As the national vote count progressed, showing an increasingly narrowing vote margin between the two contenders, the count in Chicago was mysteriously delayed. When the numbers were finally released, a record turnout of Cook County voters had voted overwhelmingly for Kennedy, in the narrowest popular vote margin of any presidential election of this century."


Which is all well and good, but is there any harder evidence for these claims? I've heard them before and always wondered if they had been independently substantiated ("independently substantiated" meaning, by little men from mars who don't follow Earth politics and still believe there's such a thing as the "truth").

Well, in any case, we need serious substantive election reform all over the place in this country don't we? So many political uncertainties and disputes could be put to rest if we just had a really air-tight election system.
posted by all-seeing eye dog at 4:36 PM on August 1, 2005


The current Daley's father is widely accused of massive vote fraud in the Nixon-JFK election, including a large number of ballots arriving in Cook County from long-deceased absentee voters.

These days, being "widely accused" doesn't mean a whole lot. All the link that you included provides is this folksy anecdote:

"As the national vote count progressed, showing an increasingly narrowing vote margin between the two contenders, the count in Chicago was mysteriously delayed. When the numbers were finally released, a record turnout of Cook County voters had voted overwhelmingly for Kennedy, in the narrowest popular vote margin of any presidential election of this century."


Which is all well and good, but is there any harder evidence for these claims? I've heard them before and always wondered if they had been independently substantiated ("independently substantiated" meaning, by little men from mars who don't follow Earth politics and still believe there's such a thing as the "truth").

Well, in any case, we need serious substantive election reform all over the place in this country don't we? So many political uncertainties and disputes could be put to rest if we just had a really air-tight election system.
posted by all-seeing eye dog at 4:36 PM on August 1, 2005


to repeat what I said in the last thread (although it was long over so nodody read it, probably):

I think that American voters need to accept as a given that any professional politician is either corrupt, a rigid ideologue, or a complete megalomaniac, and just vote on the issues. And of those three the corrupt ones worry me the least. At least i understand their motives.
posted by jonmc at 4:45 PM on August 1, 2005


Which is all well and good, but is there any harder evidence for these claims? I've heard them before and always wondered if they had been independently substantiated ("independently substantiated" meaning, by little men from mars who don't follow Earth politics and still believe there's such a thing as the "truth").

The world will probably never know. The best non-partisan wrapup I've seen is on Slate:
On the other hand, some fraud clearly occurred in Cook County. At least three people were sent to jail for election-related crimes, and 677 others were indicted before being acquitted by Judge John M. Karns, a Daley crony. Many of the allegations involved practices that wouldn't be detected by a recount, leading the conservative Chicago Tribune, among others, to conclude that "once an election has been stolen in Cook County, it stays stolen."
posted by thedevildancedlightly at 4:46 PM on August 1, 2005


devildancedlightly, nope, not a shred of evidence to support it. That's why its called an opinion.

Its my opinion that he knew the eventual consequences of his actions and did it anyway because he knew there'd be a payoff for it down the road. Either a new appointment, a book deal or something to make it worth his while.
posted by fenriq at 4:49 PM on August 1, 2005


IIRC, only 5 states have laws to prevent politics-related firings. In several states (eg: Florida, Tennessee) it's perfectly legal to fire someone for their political activities even if those activities don't interfere with business and take place on the employee's own time at home.

Land of the free my ass.
posted by aramaic at 5:13 PM on August 1, 2005


The Daley family is notorious for recieving votes from dead men, jailed felons, and non-existant people. These aren't "alleged" events, these have been confirmed with over 20 convictions in the most recent hiring scandal

My father is pretty pissed right now that you want to take away his voting privileges. He has only been dead 14 years, and feels his voice deserves to be heard as much as the next guy's.

The voting slogan I grew up hearing was--Vote early, vote often!
posted by beelzbubba at 5:49 PM on August 1, 2005


Chicago is not the most corrupt American city

Miami and New Orleans are possibly the most corrupt, and two of the most heavenly.
posted by The Jesse Helms at 6:30 PM on August 1, 2005


Not to derail, but both parties do this. Much of the controversy in presidential ballot results from Florida (2000) and Ohio (2004) are similar in detail, with a presidential election having a much greater impact on the country than a Chicago mayoral election.

OK, right, but, see, this here's a thread about Chicago. Nobody has expressed any opinion here about the fucking 2000 and 2004 presidential elections, have they? In Chicago, the Democrats rig elections and the Republicans don't, if for no other reason than that they are a marginal group with next to zero power who couldn't rig an election for student body president at a junior high school.

Given the treatment troutfishing received here regarding those reports, all I'll say is that the outrage over Daly's alleged activities in this thread is half laughably ironic and half tragic. Back to GOPfilter, I guess.

Oh, because all of us who think Daley is a corrupt tool are SEEKRIT GOP OPERATIVES and we all dismissed reports of election fraud in 2000 and 2004, didn't we? Not that I need to justify myself to you, but I am of the firm belief that both of those presidential elections were bought and paid for by Bush & Co. I believe I stated that in these very pages at the time. I very nearly didn't vote in 2004 because of my lack of faith in the integrity of the elections. But I suppose it's beyond your partisan comprehension that some of us might have a problem with both corrupt Republicans and corrupt Democrats.
posted by IshmaelGraves at 7:09 PM on August 1, 2005


It sounds to me that Skoien held a high position in the company, one in which he has a large degree of influence over the success or failure of landing contracts. A management position of importance.

If behaving so publically in such a manner has cost his company to lose business or endanger future contracts, he damn well should lose his job. Acting like an ass in public has consequences, and all the more so when you're supposed to be a competent executive: you're paid a damn fine wage to make up for its intrusion into your life.

and frankly, i'm perfectly okay if asinine behaviour has bad consequences at any level of the organisation. if joe the welder gets fired for organizing a hate campaign, that's just fine by me.
posted by five fresh fish at 7:21 PM on August 1, 2005


But the big question for me is this: If an employer can fire you on the grounds that engaging in constitutionally protected political speech outside of work is affecting their bottom line, why shouldn't they be able to fire you for lesser political speech acts, like having a controversial bumper sticker on your car, if they can reasonably claim they lost revenues (say you're a pizza truck driver, and the employer claims a percentage of your tips)? Since just about everyone in America is an "at-will" employee, setting precedents like this seems really dangerous. Although considering all the much worse things happening lately in the rights department (like the erosion of basic constitutional rights), maybe this is just a tiny drop in a great big bucket. Just curious, where would you draw the line?

The simple fact is that people are fired for much, much less, every single day. It sucks, but it is, unfortunately, how things work in the real world. The only reason there's a stink here is that this guy works for the GOP in his spare time.

That said, whether Daly's administration is corrupt or not is ultimately a moot point. Putting a bounty on someone else's head hardly seems like "political" speech, and is unprofessional behavior, in nearly any imaginable context.

It is no more a surprise that this clown was fired, than if an elementary schoolteacher were to be fired for attending NAMBLA meetings in his spare time.
posted by Rothko at 8:58 PM on August 1, 2005


Also, it should be noted that there's a vast difference between getting fired for being a Republican and getting fired for saying stupid things in public that have direct consequences for your employer.

It'd be the same as if he were an anarchist. It wouldn't be ok to fire him for his anarchist beliefs, but if he started talking to the press about how he thought armed insurrection was a really keen idea then he should be booted.
posted by bshort at 7:39 AM on August 2, 2005


“it's perfectly legal to fire someone for their political activities even if those activities don't interfere with business and take place on the employee's own time at home.”
Hmmm.
*eyes firearms collection*

“It sucks, but it is, unfortunately, how things work in the real world. The only reason there's a stink here is that this guy works for the GOP in his spare time.”
Not at all Rothko. I suppose I’m GOP when it comes to Daley and Blago because.... well, c’mon. The enemy of my enemy is my friend.
But I abhor Bush nationally, and although I was close to the Dems, I’m now closer to the Libertarians (because I wouldn’t have voted to Kerry if you put a gun to my head, Nader would have been nice, but he’s a dick so that left Badnarik, who I very much like especially after the election).
I don’t see how the justification for firing Skoien equates to how things work ‘real world.’
To me this would be an example of how things don’t work.
Principle is principle. If someone shouldn’t be fired for having political beliefs in conflict with their boss’ than they shouldn’t be fired, it’s that simple. If your point is that they likely WOULD be fired, I concede that point.
Skoien’s politics are irrelevent. I think it was a bonehead play to put a bounty on Daley. So the rightness of the act is debatable, but it was effective and got attention for his party. He was acting as the head of the GOP in Cook County and acting in their best interests as he saw them.
It’s not like his boss didn’t know that. In fact his boss contributed some money to him in that capacity.
Is he not supposed to do his best on behalf of his party? Is he supposed to mute his speech or be less effective so as to keep his job? You’re not seriously asserting that is the ‘right’ thing to do are you?
Skoien didn’t threaten the man, all he did was put up money to hopefully uncover corruption.
Bad taste, I’ll grant. Crude even. I likened it to Reg Dunlop’s pandering to the crowd’s bloodlust in the movie Slapshot.
But his employer should not have the right to fire him over political speech when that political speech is non-violent in nature and in fact advocates against corruption simply because it is not to his boss’ taste.
His employer did not have to hire him if they had a problem with it. But it’s not like he had/has a low-profile, he’s been an outspoken GOP activist for a long while and has been in the papers a lot (he’s on WIKI for chrissake).

So where IS the outrage? Where are the principles? A person getting fired for a bumper is not as LOUD (or loutish) as this, but it is certainly of the same classification.
If it’s wrong for a liberal/democrat to be fired for it it’s wrong for a neo-con/republican.

The ‘real world’ is whatever it is - but this is America. Speech is, and should be, protected as a right no matter how odious it is.



"if he started talking to the press about how he thought armed insurrection was a really keen idea then he should be booted."
Guess I won't be talking to the press any time soon, bshort.
*chuckle*
There is a difference between talk and action. Perhaps you could arrest him on incitement. But the Black Panthers were pretty violent and 20 years later some of them were making speeches at colleges and the peace advocate (MLK) is in the ground.
Tell me which one their opponents thought was more dangerous.
posted by Smedleyman at 11:25 AM on August 2, 2005


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