Carlinville conflict sparks media war of words
Depending on one's point of view, either the Edgar County Watchdogs (ECW) have been attacking Carlinville's mayor and interfering in elections or the Blackburn College newspaper is a biased publication doing a "hatchet job" on a group acting in the public interest.
The two entities recently engaged in a media battle over Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests issued by the ECW to the city and Carlinville's denial of those requests.
Gary Lowder, a writer for The 'Burnian, alleged in his article that the ECW "attacked" Carlinville Mayor Deanna Demuzio and was under investigation for interfering in the mayoral election.
The ECW responded on its Illinois Leaks website that Lowder did not reveal that the mayor is also on the Blackburn College board or that the ECW had requested copies of agreements between the city and the college.
For the most part, the issue stems from a FOIA request submitted to Carlinville and the subsequent claim by the city attorney that it was "a commercial request." The city then told ECW co-founder John Kraft that he had to pay $200 before the city would produce the requested records.
The ECW wrote about the commercial designation and the $481 cost of using a city attorney, which the group argued was a waste of taxpayer money. Kraft also filed a complaint with the Illinois attorney general's public access counselor (PAC) regarding the denial of the request, arguing that media is not subject to the "commercial" designation.
The Burnian article also described as illegitimate a citizen's arrest made by Kraft at a Clark County Park District meeting over what he deemed the public body's refusal to allow public comment. The ECW argued that the incident prompted a legal firm and other organizations to include the pertinent law regarding public speech in training sessions.
"If it was not legitimate, why would it be taught to public bodies?" the ECW posted.
Organizations in this Story
Edgar County, IL, United States