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Friday, May 11, 2007

'A double standard?' revisited

A few weeks ago, I posited in a post ("A double standard?") whether their was any significance to the fact that the general media had intensely scrutinized issues involving Republican U.S. Attorney Rachel Paulose's Office, but had virtually ignored issues at DFL Attorney General Lori Swanson's Office. I provocatively threw it out for comment whether their differing political affiliations may have played into the disparate media coverage. That post led to a lot of debate.

I was curious if things had changed at all after it was revealed on April 26 that there were indeed significant management issues at the AG's Office and that the employees there were battling to unionize. So I went through the Star Tribune's archives and pulled up all the articles or blog entries chronicling issues at the two offices from April 27 until today. Here is what I came up with:

Issues at AG’s Office
-- “DFL rift exposed in fight between AG’s Office, Union” (4/27)
-- “Swanson-AFSCME Dispute intensifies” (4/28)
-- “Hatch quits post in AG’s office” (5/2)
-- Nick Coleman: “Mad Mike made for one AG too many” (5/2)

Issues at U.S. Attorney’s Office
-- Nick Coleman: “We need to know the answers about Paulose’s assent” (4/27)
-- “Former U.S. attorney was on early fire list” (4/28)
--- Correction: Letter stating Paulose went to “tier four” law school incorrect; she went to Yale (5/4)
-- “Ellison seeks Justice Department documents on Heffelfinger, Paulose” (5/9)
-- The Big Question Blog: “Assistant U.S. attorneys to Paulose: Quit dissing us and clear our names” (5/9)
-- “Workers who left Paulose’s office protest remarks” (5/10)
-- Editorial: Minnesota still needs answers from Justice (5/11)
-- “Gonzales: Justice Department working with Paulose”* (5/11)
-- “Gonzales Addresses concerns about Paulose”* (5/11)

* Although these last two stories both appear on the Strib’s website, they appear to be different versions of the same story.

The thing that kind of struck me is not so much the difference in the number of mentions between Paulose and Swanson (although it is substantial), but the fact that the Strib coverage of the AG's Office goes completely blank after Hatch announced that he was quitting. I guess Strib readers are not really all that concerned where that leaves things or what is happening with the unionization attempt now that Hatch has left. And this is before the recently announced cuts in the size of their newsroom. What will coverage be like after? Sigh.


Anonymous said...

In today’s editorial, Star Tribune wants to know one more time, why Tom Heffelfinger resigned. They should ask him again?????
Star Tribune asked Mr. Heffelfinger directly several months ago and he gave the answer. They did not like that answer and came up with their own answers and put it out there as questions. At the time, it clearly was presented to the public as if the current MN US attorney Rachel Paulose had something to do with it. They went down that road and got tired of digging and did not get the answer they wanted. They made up topics to bring up the question again, “why did Mr. Heffelfinger resign”? Got the same answer from him directly, except with more intensity each time they asked. This dirty political game has been going on for the past few months. In the meantime everyone including the public is getting sick of this and Strib’s agenda is becoming loud and clear.
This type of pollution by Star Tribune and other mainstream media is very disturbing to most Minnesotans. My consistent question has been “what did Ms. Paulose do that is unethical or politically motivated”? This public official who has been nominated by the MN senator and approved by the senate and appointed by the president has been ridiculed by the media almost everyday for no reason. The only thing I have heard is “aggressive management style of a young female boss”. If it is a man with same management style, it would have been praised as “strong leadership” skill, I am pretty sure. A lot of us conclude that Ms.Paulose is being put through media ridiculing, harassments and discrimination because of her age, gender, color and race.

J said...

In response to the letter that was sent to the Startribune- "Workers who left Paulose office protest remarks"

"the four said the accusations undermined their ability to do their jobs". I didn't know anything about their ability, but now I definitely question it- 3 senior managers (attorneys) wrote a confidential letter to their boss and in less than two weeks time, it ends up in the hands of the 'anonymous.'  And we Minnesotans should trust them to handle highly confidential information???

Also, I had no idea that Ms. Paulose was in such a horrible predicament. We didn't have any idea about what was really going on in that office (could never connect the dots) but thanks to their letter which speaks volumes about what is happening. The letter that was in the Star tribune clearly shows that the 3 that stepped down are bullying Ms. Paulose and holding her hostage to rectify any and all negative impacts from their behavior.

In addition to being the US attorney for the district of MN, Ms. Paulose has to give these bullies a 'make over' and make them non-bullies i.e., 'we like our young, female, brown and aggressive boss?'(May be they all should consult with the anonymous for a cleaner-sounding reason for their joint 'stepping-down- show'). We all know what they will do if Paulose doesn’t obey their commands- they will send Ellison to D.C. to create more scandal in the media.

There were two articles that were cited in the strib. 1. C.J. responded to the questions about her column. 2. Now what is left is the story published three weeks earlier in the New York Times. "…older lawyers had difficulty dealing with a young, aggressive woman"

When these managers demoted themselves, the reason given for the demotion was "Paulose's management style". (Staff shake up at U.S. Attorney's office Paulose's management style prompted the voluntary demotions)
'Aggressiveness' is a management style and there is no need to explain that any further.

The second and the only issue remaining is "young". Should the New York Times have said that Paulose is 'Young'? Well… the whole world is saying that she is young- a very smart, young attorney with over 10 years of relevant work experience to be the US Attorney and I wish her all the best!! Hope all of you can do the same!

P.S.1. Lori Swanson, 11 years of experience - and 36 people resigned from her office this year, didn’t hear anything about that in the news.
2. Does anyone think it was co-incidence that the 3 managers in Paulose’s office stepped-down at the same time the AG-8 issue came up?
3. Paulose was the interim USA for a year in the same office and they had 12 months to see her management style. Suddenly, Three weeks after she was sworn-in, the three-Ms realized that they don’t like Paulose’s management style? They held hands and made a ‘huge show’ and stepped down. …wait …but there is more….they want more attention…..and may be have other motives?.. just wondering  curious Tom

Anonymous said...

Everyone knows that StarTribune is extremely bias with liberal political views. You make a valid point by brining up the "double standard". This is unbelievable......
look at it this way: If the US attorney Rachel Paulose was appointed by a democratic president, these liberals would have been kissing her rear end and parading her across the coutry saying, "see what we have at the tender age 34".....?

Mark Cohen, editor said...

These posts bring up some interesting issues.

Regarding Mr. Heffelfinger -- I have been at a loss to figure out why the Strib keeps making over and over again the allegation that he was pressured to quit. The poor guy has had to deny that charge like 10x.

Regarding the deputies -- I think the sending the fax over to the Strib comes across as a cheap shot. It would be my hope that only one of them was involved in those shenanigans rather than all three. (And in any other office, there would be an investigation and that person likely fired.) In any event, it doesn't make sense for Paulose to issue a statement against CJ's speculations on what the subjective motives of the deputies might have been -- something only the deputies themselves could possibly know.

However, this is a case of the media generating its own story. A Strib columnist says something that gets the deputies mad, so they write up an internal letter criticizing their boss over the column and fax it over to the aforementioned Strib, which then writes a story on the letter without pointing out the ironic fact that it was the paper itself that got the deputies mad in the first place.

Anonymous said...

excellent points on these posts.
it looks like this whole thing is media fiction. may be couple of disgruntled employees sent it. it should be worth investigating. what i don't understand is, how come no one wants to investigate the situation in Lori Swanson's office. She is relatively young and inexperienced. 11 years under Mike Hatch! that office lost 36 people in 3 months and no investigation on ms. Swanson's performance? Minnesotans are not concerned? come on..let's be fair.

Anonymous said...

Let's see if I have the chronology on this right. These four employees send a public "up yours" message to Paulose by simultaneously stepping down from their administrative functions, stay in the office underminding her rather than having the decency to leave and then demand that she issue a statement that their motives are spotless. Good work if you can get it I suppose.

Anonymous said...

it is clear to any fool that these guys are just bullying this young woman. it also looks like media is getting inside information all the time. it may be just one guy and he is causing trouble internally and trying to destroy this excptionally talented woman's career. amazing how they pretend to be 'professionals'. she should be able to do an investigation on these guys. how pathetic...keepers of law and justice! most of the blame should go to the politicians and their media.

Anonymous said...

i don't understand why these guys are holding ms. paulose hostage for the comments others are making about them. i think of them even worse! what can paulose do about it? i think she is a very gracious woman and a professional for keeping her mouth shut in spite of all these.

Anonymous said...

Those who are defending Ms. Paulose clearly have no contact with anyone currently in the USA office, or anyone who worked with her in her previous jobs.

From the beginning of her tenure at the USA office, there were reports that her style was grating to a large portion of the office, starting with her bypassing experienced attorneys who were in line for management positions. Apparently her hand-selected choices -- all people she knew from her previous stint at the USA office, by the way -- couldn't handle her style.

Of all the people I have spoken with, both in the USA office and those who knew her in private practice, the reaction is the same: she was not a particularly good lawyer and her personality was awful. No one mentioned her race, gender, or age as a factor here.

Isn't it possible that people don't like her not because she's a young woman, but perhaps because her personality isn't exactly charming? Where are all the people standing up to defend her, if she's so great?

Mark Cohen, editor said...

Personally, I wouldn't attribute evil (or good for that matter) on either side. I think in Ms. Paulose's case, the key question is not whether or not she can be "charming" (how many of us actully have charming bosses?), but whether she can take this crash course she has gotten in management 101 and learn from it to work better with her people.

On the deputies side, it's not whether they acted out of racism or sexism (I think we should give them the benefit of the doubt that they did not), but whether or not they will now be a disruptive force in the office or just go back to prosecuting cases. (Things like the fax to the Strib, for example, obviously are not helpful.)

I think we have to stop seeing this as a good vs. evil situation and see it as a difficult management situation that must be worked out. I would like to see more respect on both sides of the equation.

Anonymous said...

the last person who wrote here, asking Ms.Paulose's supporters to come out, is obviously not thinking clearly about this situation. We really don't want that to happen since this could very well turn into a war against racism.
I hope the office would focus on their jobs since the speculation is that, just one or two employees in the office may be causing all this turmoil, leaking info to the media, calling politicians etc.
We don't want this turn into investigation on US attorneys office employees, political war, or some other unpleasant social issue.

Anonymous said...

And I'm telling you the speculation that only one or two attorneys are upset is wrong. It's a huge chunk of the office -- hence, the reason that Gonzales has admitted her job may be in jeopardy.

Unless, of course, the Strib somehow tricked the AG of the United States into thinking this situation is something it isn't.

I think the commentators here need to face the very real possibility that the questions regarding Paulose's compentence for the job are legitimate.

J said...

Hello anonymous #2
Where are all her (Ms. Paulose’s) supporters?

That is an excellent point- and it clearly says one very important statement about Ms.Paulose- that she did not get this job by her allegiance to political parties or friendship network.

Your comment that ….”of all the people I have spoken with, both in the USA office and those who knew her in private practice, the reaction is the same..” Goodness, gracious, don’t you have anything better to do with your life than survey all these people? Unless of course you are one of the three who ‘stepped down’

I agree with Mr. Cohen that what is important now is whether or not you three will now be a disruptive force in the office or just go back to prosecuting cases.

Your comments about Paulose are so pathetic (even for a disgruntled employee)!

So, for the sake of peace, let us hope she learned to be less aggressive and that you will stop being a disruptive force in the media and at work place. One last friendly reminder- please stop doing surveys about her ‘tender age of 34’ (sounds like a flower) 

Anonymous said...

j -- he he, I love anonymous message boards! I hope you really have convinced yourself I'm one of the management committee.

I happen to be a member of the legal community with close ties to a number of people who know Ms. Paulose. It does not appear that anyone else on this message board has those connections, so I thought I'd share the information I have, in the hopes of ending the silly prattling on about how the Strib and a couple of angry, racist, sexist US Attorneys are bringing Ms. Paulose down. If you choose to believe your own delusions as opposed to facts, well, that's your perogative.

Also, as an FYI -- the general opinion of the three managers in the legal community -- again, hand picked by Ms. Paulose, and all people she knew prior to retunring as the USA -- is very high. So before you begin lampooning them for no reason other than an irrational hatred for the Strib, I suggest you check your facts.

J said...

Dear Anonymous #2:

Multiple personality can be used as a means for escapism.

Wish you well!


Anonymous said...

j --

As the kids say, paranoia will destroy-ya.

Look out for the men in black; they're watching you!


J said...

Anonymous #2

I am really sorry! Clearly you have more issues than I realized. I hope you get the help that you need.



Mark Cohen, editor said...

OK, I think that's enough. I am bringing this thread to a close. Thanks to all for participating!