MARSHALL, IL. (ECWd) -
A recent poster reminded us of the following: “In the United States Senate, one of the things I observed in the early days – and it’s still used – and that is that you take someone’s argument and then you misrepresent it and misstate and disagree with it. And it’s very effective. I’ve done it myself a number of times. But eventually, eventually people catch on" (Believed to be Sen. Edward Kennedy who stated this).
Sadly, Gary Strohm with the Marshall Advocate appears to have learned this technique because he applies it regularly, but as was stated, eventually people catch on! I don't know that I will ever understand one's need to fabricate and mislead when it comes to reporting, but by all indications that has become the norm in our society instead of following the laws established by our Founding Fathers and elected officials.
Mr. Strohm made claim that both John Kraft and myself had asked for the resignation of Mrs. Church. I made no such statement. My statement was about the need to simply follow the laws established and I pointed out that basic principal is what we have focused on for several years. It's a simple concept but agendas and conflicts of interest seem to drive the message with most media these days.
Why is it so important to follow the laws?
I think this statement sums it up best and it was from a court case just after our new State Constitution was passed.
The liberty of the citizen, and his security in all his rights, in a large degree depend upon a rigid adherence to the provisions of the constitution and the laws, and their faithful performance. If courts, to avoid hardships, may disregard and refuse to enforce their provisions, then the security of the citizen is imperiled. Then the will, it may be the unbridled will, of the judge, would usurp the place of the constitution and the laws, and the violation of one provision is liable to speedily become a precedent for another, perhaps more flagrant, until all constitutional and legal barriers are destroyed, and none are secure in their rights. Law v. People ex rel. Huck.
This particular judge could see the importance of rigid adherence to the provisions of the new constitution and the laws because when you step outside those boundaries just once, that action becomes justification for the next person to not comply with the law and before you know it, laws don't matter.
We have become that society!
During the last regular Marshall City Council meeting I read the quote above during the public comment portion of the meeting and reminded the Mayor and the Aldermen that they took an oath of office and I urged them to uphold that oath. Sadly, Mr. Strohm once again fails to report what I said and instead turns my reading of a judges words and request for them to uphold their oath of office into false allegations by stating I accused the Mayor of not upholding the laws of the state.
I think John covered it best in this article as it relates to our media and why they continue to report agendas instead of facts, so I won't waste any more time on that subject.
After my words to the mayor and council members, there were people who actually stood up and defended lawlessness because a person they knew was elected to office, in this case Mrs. Church. Another made claim that the only reason we have raised this issue is because we don't like how she voted on matters. The most saddening thing I listened to was a man declare that all this talk about the constitution and oath of office doesn't matter because she was elected by the people.
Yes, Mrs. Church was elected by the people, and for the record I could care less how she votes on matters. What I care about is the application of our laws to ensure the liberty of the citizens and security in their rights are protected. The people have a right to question their government and demand the laws be followed, but what I heard the other night was people actually willing to throw out the very fiber of our country in exchange for their will.
When we reach that point, as the judge pointed out in the above quote, it can rapidly spiral out of control and before you know it no laws matter. Fail to enforce them in this case and you set a precedence for others to follow in the future.
The facts in the situation with Mrs. Church are a perfect example of the judges words. Claims have been made that the State's Attorney had determined and affirmed the county clerk's decision. I challenge anyone to find any such written record from the State's Attorney.
The truth of the matter, which Mr. Strohm refuses to look for, is that the County Clerk was given an opinion from the State Board of Elections and now as all the facts of the situation are laid out, that opinion does not hold any water. The fact they also did not put such an opinion in writing should tell the public that such a position cannot be depended on. Regardless, even if the County Clerk was told it was OK for Mrs. Church to be on the ballot, a questioning of that position is within every person's civil liberty and right.
It all comes down to the law, which states she must reside within the district in which she is running for office, or currently holding. Residency is determined by Section 3 of the election code. "A person is not eligible for an elective municipal office unless that person is a qualified elector of the municipality and has resided in the municipality at least one year next preceding the election * * *.” 65 ILCS 5/3.1–10–5 -
This all comes down to one word, Residency. It must be defined!
Residency has long been established as a person's permanent abode and is necessary to constitute a residence within the meaning of section 3-1. People have taken the position that because she has a place to put her head on a pillow at her building in town that she complies with the law. Once again, positions taken with total disregard for what the law says and what it means, as well as how the courts have interpreted those laws.
What is a permanent abode? That is the key question that these people should be asking. In the 3rd Appellate Court of Illinois, which is established case law, the ruling outlined that one must show both physical presence and an intent to remain in that place as a permanent home. Yes, Mrs. Church can show physical presence however she cannot show intent to remain in that downtown building as a permanent home. The reason for that is her own signature, and her husband's signature, on multiple years of tax forms claiming her home out of the city limits as her principal residence.
If we were to take the position that her in-town address makes it OK for her to run for city council, then what is to stop me or anyone else from renting or buying a piece of property in town and running for office using that location as my address? It would corrupt our election system and I honestly believe most people understand that.
I understand it hurts people's feelings when questioned or told their loved ones are not allowed to do what they are doing, but that only happens because we as a society have turned away from the law and justice, which is suppose to be blind, and allowed our emotions and feelings to rule what we think is right. When that happens we find ourselves in the very situation going on with the City of Marshall and with Alderman Church.
In fairness, the burden of proof regarding her residency is the objectors, in this case a couple other alderman and ourselves. That means it is up to the objector to prove the residency requirement has been violated. The proof lies in Mrs. Church's own documents of which she is receiving a tax incentive for a homestead exemption at a residence that is not in the district. The reason that one document plays such a vital role in the determination of this matter is because the one prong of residency recognized by the courts requires an intent to remain in that place as a permanent home. A homestead exemption is in fact evidence of an intent for that address to be her permanent home and such a position is supported by case law. The Mississippi Supreme Court has decided that “filing a homestead exemption conclusively established domicile for electoral purposes".
Before many of you get all worked up, Supreme Court Cases from other states play a very important role when local courts and appellate courts make a determination and are routinely used as precedent in Illinois courts. This is done as to ensure a consistent interpretation and application of the law is applied across this country. Words have meaning and they don't change because you cross a state line.
Regardless of that particular Supreme Court case law, I don't believe anyone that knows Mrs. Church would stand before a judge and insist her intent was to make her in town address her permanent abode. Everyone knows where her permanent abode is, as does she. It is the location where for several years she has been getting a tax break through her homestead exemption and it is outside the city limits.
Had the State Board of Elections (SBE) done their job years ago we would not have written this article. Sadly they did not and I suspect many have learned a hard lesson to not believe everything they are told unless what they are told is put in writing. I suggest even then don't believe it as we are routinely proving attorneys wrong by simply researching case law. Stay tuned for more on that subject! As I understand it, the SBE did not put anything in writing and even if they did, they are not impervious to making a mistake.
Mrs. Church would do the community of Marshall proud by accepting the fact her permanent abode is not within the district of the current position she holds, and she should in fact resign so that the city can move on and fill the seat with a qualified citizen from that district.
I can tell you we had a great fire district trustee years ago that did not reside in the district, but did have property in the district, and he could have stayed at the in district property. When the statute was read to him that he must reside in the district he immediately turned in his resignation and moved on, in spite of the fact the other trustees wanted him to stay because he had property in the district. They didn't like the law so they were willing to ignore it. The trustee made it clear that is not what the statute says nor is it what the statute intended. He did the right thing and garnered a lot of respect by many people.
We all know what is right in this matter if we can read and I can only pray that those fighting so hard against the law would first read it and then apply it. Failing to do that only creates more hurt and dissension amongst our neighbors.
Doing the right thing is easy. Knowing what is the right thing is the challenge!
“Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and those ripples build a current which can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.”
― Robert F. Kennedy