Chicago Reader co-owner steps down over vaccine column, agrees to nonprofit transfer

Ending an impasse that has threatened the future of the Chicago Reader, co-owner Leonard Goodman said Tuesday he will approve the publication’s transfer to nonprofit status and give up any control over it.

Goodman, a Chicago attorney and member of the billionaire Crown family, co-owned the Reader with real estate developer Elzie Higginbottom. Angry about the Reader’s handling of a column he wrote for it last November, Goodman had demanded more representation on a nonprofit board set up to take over the alternative publication.

The demand was likely to kill plans for the nonprofit’s takeover of the money-losing Reader. The fight threatened the jobs of about 35 employees, including 18 writers and editors who belong to the Chicago News Guild labor union.


In a statement that reiterated his grievance about the column, Goodman said, "We are now at the end of the road. We cannot continue the fight without destroying the Reader. I am stepping aside. I will sign off on the sale so that the Reader can transition immediately to [not-for-profit] status. I wish it every success. It was an honor to be part of the Chicago Reader."

His statement was accompanied by the announced resignations from the nonprofit board of three people aligned with Goodman: newspaper publisher Dorothy Leavell, attorney Sladjana Vuckovic and real estate executive Carol Bell.

Goodman’s column dealt with the ethics of having his 6-year-old daughter vaccinated against COVID-19. After it was published, questions were raised about factual assertions in it. Goodman portrayed the fact-checking as censorship of an unorthodox view, while Reader Co-Publisher and President Tracy Baim said it was a legitimate editorial review, common when questions are raised about a published piece.

The column remains in its original form on the Reader website.