On this day, July 5th, in legal history, jury selection began for the trial of the Chicago “Black Sox” baseball players accused of throwing the 1919 World Series.
The Black Sox scandal, which unfolded during the 1919 World Series, was not an isolated incident in the history of baseball and gambling. The sport had a long-standing and often troubled relationship with gambling, with instances of game-fixing dating as far back as 1865. The integrity of postseason championship play had also been questioned, with rumors surrounding the honesty of games in previous World Series.
The exact architects of the Black Sox scandal have never been definitively identified, but it is believed that White Sox first baseman Chick Gandil and Boston bookmaker Joseph "Sport" Sullivan played key roles in devising the plot. Testimonies from grand jury hearings suggested that Gandil and star pitcher Eddie Cicotte were the primary instigators. However, the scandal involved several other individuals, both inside and outside the team, making it a complex web of conspiracies.
One popular theory, first presented by the defense lawyers during the trial, suggested that the motivation behind the fix was the miserliness of White Sox owner Charles A. Comiskey. However, this claim has been debunked by salary data that showed the White Sox had one of the highest payrolls in the league, with players like Eddie Collins, Ray Schalk, Buck Weaver, and Cicotte earning competitive salaries.
The White Sox team was plagued by internal divisions and factions. One group, led by Eddie Collins, consisted of educated and self-assured players, while the other, headed by Gandil and Cicotte, was made up of more blue-collar players who harbored resentment toward Collins and his clique. This division played a significant role in the scandal.
According to Cicotte's testimony, discussions about fixing the World Series began among his faction during a train trip late in the regular season. Cicotte started exploring the possibility of financing the fix with Bill Burns, a former pitcher turned gambler. The allure of the $10,000 payoffs allegedly received by some members of the Chicago Cubs for throwing the 1918 World Series against the Boston Red Sox further fueled the desire for a similar windfall.
Reports of player misconduct and corruption were often disregarded by the baseball establishment and the media. The game seemed to have abandoned serious disciplinary measures against gambling-related activities. Even credible charges made by respected figures like Christy Mathewson failed to result in action. Thus, by 1919, the players viewed the World Series fix as a low-risk, high-reward opportunity due to the perceived lack of consequences.
In mid-September, the Gandil-Cicotte group solidified their commitment to the fix during a meeting at the Ansonia Hotel in New York. The involvement of the White Sox's second-best pitcher, Lefty Williams, and their star outfielder, Shoeless Joe Jackson, further increased the likelihood of success. They agreed to intentionally lose the World Series to the Cincinnati Reds in exchange for a substantial $100,000 payoff.
This tragically would lead to Kevin Costner’s 1989 film Field of Dreams being conceived of and, with no one there to stop them, produced and released.
Labor negotiations between United Parcel Service Inc. (UPS) and the International Brotherhood of Teamsters have reached a stalemate, increasing the likelihood of a strike by more than 300,000 UPS workers. Talks between the two parties collapsed after weeks of discussions, leaving the US supply chain vulnerable to disruption if an agreement is not reached soon. The Teamsters blamed UPS for refusing to meet workers' demands, while UPS claimed that the union had halted negotiations despite a generous pay offer. The current labor contract, which is set to expire at the end of July, requires a few more weeks for member education and ratification. UPS shares fell 2.1% in response to the news. The negotiations have been challenging, with disagreements over pay, cost of living increases, and the perceived disparity between worker wages and the company's pandemic-related profits. The possible strike comes amidst a broader wave of labor unrest in the transportation sector, including disputes at ports and rail strikes.
Companies with tailor-made picket taglines should handle labor with an especially tender touch – “What can brown do for us? Provide a fair cost of living increase!”
Paul Hastings, a Big Law firm, is facing a lawsuit filed by Redwood Liquidating Co., a biotechnology company based in California, alleging negligence by the firm's lawyers. Redwood Liquidating claims that the mistakes made by Paul Hastings attorneys during the company's attempt to remove its founder, Hesaam Esfandyarpour, from the board resulted in a loss of $300 million in value and ultimately led to bankruptcy. The company had hired Paul Hastings to implement corporate governance reforms and appoint new leadership, including a CEO and three independent directors. However, the Delaware Chancery Court ruled the written consents invalid after Esfandyarpour sued, rendering the new directors invalidly appointed. Redwood Liquidating states that the litigation drained its remaining cash, caused investor concerns, disrupted financing, and forced the company to file for bankruptcy and liquidate its assets. Paul Hastings denies the allegations and considers the lawsuit meritless, expressing its intention to defend itself in court. In addition to this case, the law firm is also facing conflict of interest claims from another client, The Coca-Cola Co., in a separate lawsuit.
Suspended Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton will not testify in his upcoming impeachment trial in the state Senate, according to his lawyer. Paxton, who was impeached on charges including bribery, is temporarily suspended from office pending the trial. The Texas Senate will try him on 20 articles of impeachment, and if two-thirds of the 31 senators find him guilty, he will be removed from office. The impeachment was triggered by Paxton's office requesting that the House fund a $3.3 million lawsuit settlement he reached with four whistleblowers. Paxton has denied any wrongdoing and is also under a separate corruption investigation by the Justice Department. His attorney stated that they will not comply with what they perceive as an unfair process.
In this week’s column I take a look at senior property tax relief policies generally, with an eye toward’s New Jersey’s StayNJ program specifically.
New Jersey's property tax relief program, StayNJ, which offers a 50% reduction in property tax for homeowners aged 65 and older, has sparked a debate about the fairness of such policies. While I acknowledge that some seniors struggle with rising property taxes, the concern is that these relief programs come at the expense of other groups facing similar financial challenges.
One issue with the proposal is that it creates a complex tax policy puzzle, with funds being reallocated to address school budget shortfalls or to manipulate school performance metrics. This pits seniors against families with children, as zoning restrictions and housing demands favor one group over the other. Seniors, who often have more home equity, are better able to absorb property tax increases.
Furthermore, senior property tax relief programs often coincide with cuts in school budgets. Programs like StayNJ are designed to keep seniors in the state, benefiting school resources by reducing the number of students in the public school system. This can positively impact metrics such as school expenditures per pupil, but it also means fewer resources for education overall.
In some cases, zoning restrictions are used to provide property tax relief for seniors, effectively excluding families with children from certain areas. The policy trade-off favors seniors, leaving families with fewer resources and options. The shortage of affordable housing exacerbates the situation, as seniors receive incentives to stay in their homes while younger individuals face higher costs.
Reverse mortgages are an option for older homeowners to access their home equity without monthly payments, helping them cope with property tax reassessments. However, this option is limited to those aged 62 and older, leaving younger homeowners with fewer alternatives like home equity lines of credit, which require monthly payments.
While it is important to support seniors financially, these policies should be examined holistically, considering the impact on other groups. Seniors generally have lower poverty rates compared to younger age groups, and their housing costs decrease over time while healthcare costs rise. While assisting seniors is commendable, policymakers must be mindful of the broader effects on the marketplace.