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April 24, 2024

Wheeling official: Being held accountable is a threat –

By John Kraft & Kirk Allen

On July 29, 2018


During public comment at the July 26, 2018 Wheeling city council meeting, Mrs. Wilson gave public comment as she usually does at Wheeling meetings, but this time was different.

During her non-threatening public comment, the city attorney decided to try and interrupt her comments, which did not work.

After explaining the content and attachments to an email she sent to the board about the rising property taxes for Wheeling home-owners and other things, she ended with “do the right thing, or I will be holding you accountable” – and a trustee, apparently not knowing his comment would be heard, said “sounds like a threat.”

For the person who thinks being held accountable is a threat, I suggest you immediately resign as you are obviously not cut out for public service. Your comments were out of line and a clear attempt at intimidating her into silence.

What is so threatening about being held accountable? The law provides for citizens to hold their elected officials accountable for the decisions they make, the FOIA even calls it a duty of the citizen.

Look no further than the preamble of the Freedom of Information Act:

Pursuant to the fundamental philosophy of the American constitutional form of government, it is declared to be the public policy of the State of Illinois that all persons are entitled to full and complete information regarding the affairs of government and the official acts and policies of those who represent them as public officials and public employees consistent with the terms of this Act. Such access is necessary to enable the people to fulfill their duties of discussing public issues fully and freely, making informed political judgments and monitoring government to ensure that it is being conducted in the public interest.

Free speech also assists in holding public officials accountable, as does the ballot box.

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  • ang
    Posted at 13:18h, 29 July

    Maybe they thought it sounded like a political threat? Maybe the commenter is contemplating running for office to replace someone, as that would be a great way to hold someone accountable. There are different types of threats, if one really wants to parse language.

    That said, LaGrange Park, IL residents have found themselves surveilled by the LaGrange Park Police after commencing a civilian investigation into the patterns and practices of the local police via Freedom of Information Act records requests (after being encouraged to pursue alternate, informal and otherwise read as off-the-record conversations at some “Coffee with the Chief” rather than formal FOIA requests). If warned that residents will help elect new leadership if increased crime incidents near an unwanted liquor store increase further, the local police play follow-that-resident’s-car at night (likely an intimidation tactic). And if you withdraw a FOIA request because the police department acts like it is too complicated even after clarifying what records you want, and you criticize the police for being “recalcitrant,” you get a spotlight shined at your window just after midnight.

    I suppose this is all these shady government bodies can do in the face of civilians trying to hold them accountable, to intimidate and accuse people with no criminal record of being threats. But civilians and citizens should NOT be deterred. Instead, civilians and citizens should call this abuse of power out very very loudly. Tell all your neighbors, tell the news media, call the Edgar County Watchdogs Tip Line, write op-eds and VOTE the buffoons out of office next election. Even better, run for office yourself. If not wanting to run, then work on the campaign of a local challenger to help vote the bums out of office.

    Not sure what type of “threat” a critic of Wheeling’s government was perceived as by a possibly clinically paranoid Wheeling official, but when the Watchdogs are done with Wheeling, please FOIA LaGrange Park. Maybe look into records indicating how much taxpayer money they spent on police cruiser spotlights to harass and intimidate their own residents in the middle of the night.

    Go Watchdogs.

  • Danni Smith
    Posted at 15:59h, 29 July

    how does one incorporate supporting the police with marches, stickers, condemnation for “cop-killers” with this?

  • jannie
    Posted at 16:14h, 29 July

    It is interesting to know that Park Districts and responses to FOIA requests are quite similar – though my area didn’t deal with local police issue, just stonewalling for information by a Business Manager who didn’t want to fulfill the request.

  • Warren J. Le Fever
    Posted at 09:11h, 30 July

    What we have is an interpretation of a statement that is as vague as what action would be taken as a result of accountability holding. “Telling it like it is” is always threatening to unfortunately elected high horse individuals and especially so if those individuals are involved in something unseemly. The lack of what would happen to those held accountable is basically a NO vote ballot threat in open meeting which EVERY elected official faces. Sounds to me like a high horse elected official thinks he’s above that. Wrong.

  • Angela Scott
    Posted at 21:29h, 30 July

    I informed Jamie Mathey on Bloomington City Council that he was violating the Illinois Ethics Act due to a conflict of interest in that his business was a preferred vendor for the Bloomington Center for the Performing Arts and he voted to spend more money to hire a development director. He posted something about me being sued for libel. It was definitely a threat. I didn’t give up. Several weeks later he did sell his business though. A wise man once told me “Never be afraid.”