business news in context, analysis with attitude

Yesterday, in our "Sports Desk" section, we wrote about how much of sports came to a virtual halt on Wednesday as athletes looked to draw attention to racial injustice and, specifically, the police shooting of Jacob Blake, a Black man, in Kenosha, Wisconsin.

This prompted the following email from an MNB reader:

I'm a little frustrated with the lack of complete reporting on a lot of these police shootings. The latest with Jacob Blake. Why aren't they reporting that he has a rap sheet a mile long, including sexual assault? He had a warrant for his arrest when this incident occurred. I found this information, so why isn't that reported with the story in an unbiased way and allow viewers to come to their own conclusions. If this sexual assault was against my daughter, trust me, I would have no sympathy for this criminal. But all these stars, professional players, etc are making these people out to be heroes. I would not want to be associated with a criminal much less stand up for them. I shake my head every time a police shooting happens and it could be prevented if the offender would just follow the police instructions.  But they don't, they try to escape.  Most have rap sheets and past criminal activity or just committed a crime. What am I missing here? No, they should not be killed, but I also think the police need to do whatever they can to remove this menace from the streets. 

All I ask is that the media reports the whole story. Any rookie reporter could find out that these people have rap sheets and past criminal activity. I know reporting that with the story would dim the sensationalism on the story, but it would be real reporting. 

Okay.  First of all, I think you may want to be a little careful with the word "they."  Just a suggestion.

But when I read your email, I must admit to being curious, since I read a lot of newspapers and had not seen anything about Jacob Blake's criminal record.  I wondered about it, and so I Googled it.

In about five seconds, I was on the Politifact site, where there was a story about this very subject.

(Note:  Politifact is a nonprofit organization created specifically to fact-check statements by politicians.  It has been criticized by liberals, conservatives and independents at various times, and best I can tell, tries to be nonpartisan.  But if you want someone to do a solid fact-checking job - like pointing out when a politician says that "James Madison was just 25 years old when he signed the Declaration of Independence," in fact James Madison never signed the Declaration of Independence, Politifact can be counted on.)

Apparently at least some of the charges against Jacob Blake appeared on Facebook, and so Politifact did a little checking.

I don't want to spend too much time on this here, so let me give you a link to read the piece

But I will give you the basics, as researched by Politifact.  It seems evident that Blake was arrested in 2015 and charged with one felony count of resisting arrest and one misdemeanor count each of carrying a concealed weapon, carrying a firearm while intoxicated, endangering safety-use of a dangerous weapon, and disorderly conduct.  However, there seems to be no evidence that he was convicted of any of these charges;  in fact, there are no court records at all indicating the disposition of the case, which, Politifact says, means that either the case was dismissed or he was acquitted.

As for the current warrant, it appears that he has been charged with one felony count of third-degree sexual assault and two misdemeanor counts of disorderly conduct and criminal trespassing.

Two things are really important to point out here, it seems to me.

According to Politifact, there is no evidence that he is a child rapist or that he even has been accused of having sex of any kind with a minor.

(By the way, I'm with you - if my daughter were the victim of a sexual assault, I'd have no sympathy for the accused person, either.  Which is why they don't put the parents of victims on the juries charged with deciding guilt or innocence.  Probably a good thing,)

And second, it seems clear from the Politifact research that Blake never has been convicted of anything.  Last I checked, you have to be convicted to be considered a criminal.  I'm also not sure he qualifies as a "menace."

You mentioned how you would feel as a father if your daughter were a victim, but let me suggest that it might be a good exercise to look at it another way.  What if it were your son who had been accused of a crime but never convicted, but who ended up in the hospital having been shot in the back?  Where would your sympathies lie then?

I'm not arguing here that Jacob Blake is a good guy.  It actually doesn't matter - he is entitled to the same rights and presumption of innocence that you and I are.  I'm not even arguing guilt or innocence of the person who shot him.  There's video.  There will be investigations.  There will be a trial.  I hope that justice will be served, though there is a pretty good argument that if justice were part of the equation, he never would've been shot to begin with.

I posted the sports story yesterday because I believe it is important to understand that institutions - whether sports figures or teams or governments or businesses - are looking at a period where they may be held to a higher standard than in the past.  It won't just be about playing the game or getting potholes filled or making the sale and generating profits.  It also may be about taking moral and ethical positions on issues that in the past could have been avoided.  No more.

I posted the email above, and spent time crafting a response, for another reason - to illustrate why I do not get my news from Facebook or social media.  (And by the way … don't just get your news from MNB.  Do what I do … if a story interests you, read more about it.  In lots of sources.  Even those with which you might be inclined to disagree from time to time.)

Reacting to yesterday's story about the new H-E-B food hall in Austin, Texas, MNB reader Ian Smetona wrote:

I love seeing grocers do this and as usual, HEB executes it wonderfully. We have seen these food halls doing well out here in Orange County, CA with 4th Street Market, Anaheim Packing District, and The OC Mix.

Your point of “be in the freakin’ food business” is spot on. Innovation more often than not comes from food service. Consumers are introduced to new flavors, concepts, ingredients, etc at the food service level. If a grocer can provide that level of education at its point of sale, I think you have a winning combination.

Responding to my FaceTime video about the vacant 80,000 square foot former Fairway store in Stamford, Connecticut, one MNB reader responded on my YouTube page:

80,000 square feet just so happens to be the current Market Basket new-store footprint. Just sayin'...

If Market Basket came to this market, it would cause a lot of disruption.

Now, to be fair, the closest Market Basket to that store, if my research is correct, is more than 150 miles away, in Fall River, Massachusetts.  But, I also suspect that there could be a lot of real estate coming available in the I-95 corridor, which runs east-west between New York City to Rhode Island and Massachusetts, which would allow Market Basket to fill in.

Doesn't have to be Market Basket.  I did a quick check, and Price Chopper has a Market32 store - a format I really like - just 40 miles away or so in central Connecticut.  So it wouldn't be nearly as big a leap for them.  Be interesting to see if they'd be intrigued by the possibility of moving into what is called Connecticut's Gold Coast.