This is nicer than the actual cover (because I clipped off a weird remark they made under this)…but whoever thought up the Lady and the Trump headline deserves a shiny sticker for punchy cleverness. I’m sure the article inside is horrible.
I can’t even describe how fun it is watching all the Leftists I know in social media having apoplectic fits this morning. Governor Sarah Palin’s endorsement of Donald Trump yesterday has precipitated an epidemic of a previously unknown kind of bipolar disorder in the Left.
Stage-A = the Leftists mock Palin, post video clips of her and call her crazy, and then they kind of cackle and hyperventilate.
Stage-B = I think they tire themselves out…and then the pendulum swings rapidly in the other direction emotionally and the hysterical laughter turns to dread as the thought creeps into their heads that “She’s going to make him win Iowa, and if he wins Iowa he could be the nominee…and if he’s the nominee he could win.” And that leaves them momentarily paralyzed with frost-fingered fear.
Stage-A, Redux = But then they are back swinging on the reverse-pendulum to hysteria/mania again. Lather, rinse, repeat.
All of this transpires back and forth within minutes. I’ve never seen anything like it before with the trolls I study and monitor on Facebook. I know people say this sometimes and they are only kidding, but I literally made popcorn to snack on as I watch these people lose their ever living minds.
The two people in the world who seem to drive the Left the craziest here in 2016, together on stage, saying things that political correctness has forbidden anyone to say in my adult lifetime.
It’s just such a great day to be an American. And to eat popcorn for breakfast, apparently.
Why does the politically correct Village of Orland Park waste $5,000 every year on a “holiday party” when they have banned “Merry Christmas”?
* The Village of Orland Park long ago banned the words “Merry Christmas” due to political correctness (and the fact that Orland Park has been colonized by Muslims in recent years, ever since a large Muslim-Brotherhood-affiliated mosque was erected there over the loud objections of longtime residents who tried their best to resist the colonization).
* “Happy Holidays” is the official mandate…though Village employees receive Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year’s Eve, and New Year’s Day as paid days off.
* Assistant Village Manager Joe LaMargo mocked Christ at the “holiday party” in 2015 with what he deemed a humorous sweater. Wanna bet that he’d never wear a sweater with Muhammad on it like that to a “holiday party.” Only Christianity receives such blasphemy and ridicule. Never, ever any disrespect shown to Islam.
* Isn’t it time public employees stop getting to have their “holiday” cake and eating it too? If they want to eradicate Christmas so badly…shouldn’t we stop feeling bad about taking away their “holiday” parties (since, by definition, these are no longer Christmas parties)? Even I would feel like a grinch if I forced this Village to stop having Christmas parties…but I don’t feel the slightest bit bad in suggesting “holiday parties” are not necessary and should be canceled.
* Why should public bodies be allowed to hold vestigial
Christmas parties for themselves at great public expense if the original meaning and intent of these December events no longer applies (since political correctness has eliminated Christmas)?
* Listen to Megan Fox and Kevin DuJan talk about the corruption and ongoing spending problems in Orland Park here:
This is another example of the kinds of things you can uncover if you use Freedom of Information Act requests to examine the spending of local government boards and village/town entities in your area. Writing FOIA requests and then poring over the documents you get back is like solving little mysteries right in your living room. It’s exciting catching public employees doing terrible or embarrassing things. You should try this for yourself in 2016. You won’t regret it. There is limitless potential when it comes to the upsetting things you will find.
For the last several years, my friend Megan Fox and I have been studying the corruption in a Place You’ve Never Heard Of called Orland Park, about 40 minutes southwest of Chicago, which first came on our radar when we discovered that child pornography had been allowed to be accessed in their public library (with library staff deliberately looking the other way and covering it up for years). Their own hidden incident reports (which they fought and fought not to produce) proved they had allowed a man to not only view child pornography on the Library’s computers without police being called but they had also allowed masturbation at the computers, the stalking of women, and the sexual harassment of female employees to go on for years in what can only be described as the Library’s second floor “Masturbation Lounge.” The Village lashed out at us and tried to scare us away after we uncovered the extent of perversion happening in that Masturbation Lounge and all the other sex crimes and impropriety happening at that Library…which then made us interested in everything the Village itself was hiding. The more nastiness these local elected and public officials aimed at us to scare us away and silence us, the more we committed to making scrutinizing the Village of Orland Park our new hobby. We knew if these people were so desperate to shut us up and chase us away and force us to sue them in chancery court to compel them to comply with the Freedom of Information Act that they must be hiding all kinds of things. SPOILER ALERT: we were right!
The Edgar County Watchdogs were an inspiration to Megan and me in our FOIA education, since those guys have become famous in Illinois for busting corruption using Freedom of Information Act requests. The Watchdogs have even performed citizen’s arrests on government boards around the state that they caught violating the law. Forbes magazine lauded them for that. I think they are probably the most talented and committed government corruption busters Illinois has ever seen. And the beauty of what they do…and what Megan and I learned to do by following their example…is that they just email government bodies and ask for expense reports, incident reports, and other documents that likely will contain clues to terrible things the public employees are covering up (hoping no local “busy bodies” ever think to look into).
Last month, in FOIA production, I came across references to the big “Holiday Party” that the Village was throwing for its employees at great taxpayer expense; they planned on having an “Ugly Sweater” contest, which is normally called an “Ugly Christmas Sweater” contest here in Chicagoland. Looking through emails and flyers that the Village had produced related to their big party, I noticed that the employees all very deliberately avoided any use of the word “Christmas.” Like, they went really far out of their way to avoid using the “C-word.”
Previously, Megan and I discovered that the Orland Park Public Library had even banned all traditional Christmas music, because they claimed it would offend Muslims passing through the Library. (Apparently, Muslims spontaneously burst into flames or shatter into a million pieces as if dipped in liquid nitrogen if they hear even the chorus of “Silent Night” or “Ave Maria.”) Hypocritically, a few summers ago this same Library dedicated an entire month of expensive programming to “Muslim Journeys,” which was a series of lectures, displays, and racy belly dancing performances where the Library actively promoted Islam and Islamic “culture.” (Complete with appearances by Imams from the Muslim colony’s mosque, there to proselytize and encourage submission to “the religion of peace”…that blows infidels to pieces.) So…that thing they say about traditional Christmas music and even the words “Merry Christmas” being banned from public property because such overt religious expressions would offend “other cultures” does not apply to Islam or Islamic “culture” offending anyone else. As usual, Christians are told they cannot express their faith or enjoy their culture in public (which just so happens to be the dominant majority culture in this country)…but every effort must always be made to do whatever the precious, wonderful Muslims want. People in Orland Park are idiots embracing dhimmihood…as you will see. But, I digress. There is much more of this tangent for another day.
I was curious how ridiculous people looked in their “Ugly Sweaters” and wondered how many high-ranking Village employees would participate in this silliness. I was also curious how much food the Village would order for the “Don’t Call It Christmas!” party and how much all that would cost. In addition to all the spending documents, I also thought to FOIA any photos and videos taken during the party. Helpful hint: Public bodies must produce photos, videos, audio recordings (like voicemail recordings), texts, Facebook messages, and other electronic audio/visual “documents” in addition to emails, faxes, spreadsheets, Word docs, and hardcopy papers you might request.
I was surprised to spot none other than Joe LaMargo, the Assistant Village Manager (second highest ranking position in the Village), dancing around in photos wearing a sweater with “Birthday Boy Jesus” on it. As he danced, various public employees seemingly stared at his butt and clapped. In his defense, it’s a pretty decent butt.
Amiright? His wife is very talented at picking out this clown’s jeans and dressing him. (Though I wish she had vetoed that sweater.)
So…at this “holiday party” that taxpayers pay for (but are not invited to), “Merry Christmas” is not allowed to be said and is forbidden (because uttering those words may cause any Muslims walking by to flip out and convulse on the floor in seizures)…but high-ranking Village employees are allowed to make any Christians in the room feel uncomfortable with a blasphemous “Birthday Boy Jesus” sweater. And everyone applauds!
It’s shocking how much these gluttons spent on food (and how much food they ordered) for all of these politically correct Village idiots. You could choke Rosie O’Donnell herself with all this:
* 45 pounds of hot Italian beef with bruschetta and sweet peppers = $350.00
* 5 full tubs of baked mostaccioli pasta with marinara = $325.00
* 4 full tubs of chicken with marsala wine sauce = $300.00
* 4 full tubs chicken with champagne butter shallot sauce = $300.00
* 3 full tubs of salad = $115.00
* 5 full tubs of roasted potatoes = $175.00
* 3 full tubs of grilled veggies = $120.00
Why couldn’t they have just done a potluck and had everyone bring a favorite dish from home, at their own personal expense?
Adding in other catering costs, sternos, waiters, utensils, etc. the grand total for all this came to $2,269.00. But, since 300 public employees were dancing around in their Ugly Sweaters and eating champagne and marsala wine chicken and 45 pounds of Italian beef for two full hours that day, at least one hour of that time involved public employees who were on the clock and incurring payroll expenses while they were partying (but never, ever saying “Merry Christmas”). Think about it. The luncheon was two hours long. People only get 1 hour of lunch break in a work day. That means people who attended this party had one hour of lunch break plus one hour when they were on the clock but away from their desks eating, partying, and shaking their butts in Ugly Sweaters for their co-workers (or subordinates’) amusement.
The minimum wage in Chicago currently is $10.00/hour. 300 public employees multiplied by $10 = $3,000. And that’s working off the assumption that all 300 of these people make no more than $10 an hour (which is unlikely, considering how well government positions in the suburbs pay).
So, over $2,000 for the food for this pigfest…and then $3,000 more in payroll costs for the 300 public employees who were on the clock but not at their desks during that second hour of the party after their lunch hours ended = at least $5,000 in taxpayer funds that were spent because of this “holiday party.”
Why You Should Care
In my opinion, if nobody can celebrate Christmas anymore because everyone lives in abject terror of upsetting Muslims then I think these vestigial public employee “holiday parties” need to come to an end. What is the purpose of these events if all the Christmas spirit is yanked out of them?
What they count on is good and decent people feeling bad and not wanting to “take away their Christmas party.” But, this event is decidedly and emphatically NOT a Christmas party. They make a big, colossal point of it NOT being a Christmas party. Therefore, no one should feel bad about “taking” this away from them. These people are hypocrites if they think they can make a big production of forbidding “Merry Christmas” but still insist we view this event with the emotional attachment we would ascribe to a real Christmas party from before the Days of Political Correctness. They count on the public not wanting to be seen as grinches and take this annual event away from them…but in my opinion when it comes to political correctness run amuck, it’s better to be a grinch than a chump.
They remove the “Merry Christmas” and deck the banquet hall with “holiday decorations” instead, but they want to still be able to eat their body weights in champagne and marsala wine chicken and gorge themselves senseless on Italian beef until they burst. Why should the public have to pay for that when this is NOT a Christmas party? What public benefit comes from wasting $5,000 in taxpayer money on these idiots? Surely this event does not cause these public employees to treat the public any better. I see no evidence of any gratitude at all ever been shown to the public for any of the endless perks, treats, and treasured showered on public sector workers using taxpayer funds.
Right now, unemployment is at its highest level in generations. Everyone working for the Village of Orland Park has a pretty nice life with steady paychecks and — let’s be honest — work that is not really all that difficult or strenuous. Take a look at these marshmallows and tell me if you think they have rough lives, like they are working in coal mines or something. If they don’t want to say Merry Christmas, then I don’t think they need to have an annual “Don’t You Dare Say Merry Christmas” party.
Why do they deserve a big $5,000 luncheon in December when they probably make more money each year and work cushier jobs than many of the people whose taxes pay their salaries? It’s unheard of in Chicago for employees in the private sector to have Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year’s Eve, and New Year’s Day off as paid holidays. Private sector employees only get Christmas Day and New Year’s Day off. Almost all businesses in Chicago are open on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve and people are expected to work those days.
I think these public sector employees need to start suffering a consequence for their insufferable political correctness and slavish devotion to Islam. If they are so hellbent on eliminating Christmas and making this a truly secular nation with no Christmas traditions…then it’s time to stop holding “holiday parties” at the end of December. They can have their own parties at home on all of the holidays they have off with pay.
They should buy their own food, cook their own champagne shallot butter sauce chicken, slice their own 45-pounds of Italian beef and call it whatever they want to call it, wearing whatever ugly things they want to wear that day.
But, it’s high time that these public employees shared in the suffering that political correctness has caused our country. Until “Merry Christmas” is reintroduced, it’s time to put the kibosh on this “holiday party” hypocritical foolishness.
[Above: Carla Burkhart and her attorney Joshua “Josh” Feagans filed a SLAPP (Strategic Litigation Against Public Participation) to punish her critics for rightfully reporting on her no-bid contracts with the College of DuPage, which were awarded to her as “architecture” contracts when admittedly Burkhart is not an architect. Though many news outlets reported on Burkhart’s corruption and misdeeds, she and Feagans elected only to target certain critics for SLAPP intimidation and retaliation.]
* A SLAPP is a “Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation” designed to silence critics of a public official and chill people’s First Amendment Rights. It is essentially using a court and abusing the legal system as an intimidation tool against one’s targeted enemies.
* Criticism of public officials is part of Free Speech and vital to our democratic system of government; the Right to Petition government bodies includes the right to publicly criticize public officials for their wrongdoing. This is what separates the United States from monarchies and totalitarian dictatorships that forbid such criticism under penalty of law and threat of government reprisal.
* Carla Burkhart filed a SLAPP lawsuit against the Edgar County Watchdogs and other select critics in January 2016 to silence and punish those targeted for their First Amendment protected speech. Burkhart is represented in her SLAPP by attorney Joshua Feagans of the lackluster firm Griffin Williams. Feagans’ Facebook page boasts that he enjoys watching Thundercats cartoons on the tee-vee.
* This is a Thundercat, in case you don’t know or weren’t around in the 1980s (it is not normal for grown men in professional fields to advertise that they are still into Thundercats as they approach middle age):
I’m having a great time studying up on all the bizarre twists and turns in Carla Burkhart’s asinine SLAPP lawsuit against the Edgar County Watchdogs and other critics of Burkhart’s outrageous no-bid contracts with the College of DuPage. This is a great case to learn from because it’s such a blatant SLAPP. It is perfect material for Tea Party minded people to read and investigate because SLAPPs are one of the weapons that corrupt public officials (and their reprehensible Thundercats-loving attorneys) use to take away the public’s First Amendment rights and deprive Americans of our liberty. You can read more about SLAPPs here.
I introduced you to this particular Burkhart/Feagans SLAPP several days ago and have been reading various articles written by The Chicago Tribune and other publications on Burkhart and the various open state investigations into her conduct. The Caucus Blog, which follows goings-on in the Illinois statehouse, posted a terrific summary that you should read at least three times to let all the information sink in:
Read the rest of this entry »
Governor Sarah Palin is the greatest and most strategic political genius of our time.
She has always reminded me of Artemis from Greek mythology, in that she is an expert hunter and setter of traps…which the idiots in the Orwellian Ministry of Truth (MiniTru) that is our statist national media always fall into. Palin is forever several steps ahead of MiniTru and everything she does is calculated to make her detractors come unhinged and provide maximum exposure and impact. What she does is actually something that could be considered “trolling”…which is the term used when someone cleverly dangles bait to entice targets to excitedly react exactly the way she wants.
I have missed seeing Palin out on the campaign trail because no one else in American politics causes MiniTru meltdowns the way that she does. She is a wonder to behold when she is firing on all cylinders, as she was when endorsing Donald J. Trump for president in Ames, Iowa.
Here are the top 5 most genius moments from her endorsement speech (and what her strategy could be in setting these traps for MiniTru):
You can watch the endorsement live here on ABC from Ames, Iowa (530pm CST on 1/19/16).
Sarah Palin is a national treasure, she really is. Nearly everything she does makes me smile and gives me hope that America has a chance to rebuild and recapture our greatness. I love her “going rogue” spirit that just gobsmacks the Cocktail Party GOP-establishment.
There was an article a few days ago on a site called The American Interest by Walter Russell Mead called, “Andrew Jackson Revenant.” It’s not a great article, because Mead ultimately takes an unfavorable view of Americans and reveals himself to be a Leftist would-be elitist…but he makes a few interesting points, perhaps unintentionally. The big takeaway from this article is that Mead identifies a “Jacksonian” spirit in Americans that is ascendant in the suddenly vocal “Silent Majority.”
For the last 8 years or so, it’s become evident that something has been happening in this country that frightens the elites…though it’s been hard to identify exactly what that is and to give it a name. Maybe it’s been brewing even longer than that…it might even have its roots back to the circus that was the Clinton Impeachment and all the Ken Starr unseemliness. For a while, it was called the Tea Party spirit but it’s bigger and more important than that. I only felt a part of this beginning in 2008 when my eyes were opened to it during the media’s relentless (and shameless) push to elect Barack Obama…and ever since then I’ve been paying attention to how out of touch the elites are in both political parties in this country…and how much regular Americans despise these people in Washington.
It was always obvious that the far-Left was completely out of touch and that those living in the ivory towers of academia were insane; for my entire lifetime that was the case, but until 2008 those lunatics were kept locked in the attic for the most part. Democrats knew they had to seem like centrists back then, but we all know they long ago stopped caring about optics and there’s a very good chance that an elderly socialist will be the Democrats’ nominee for president this year. On the Republican side, I think it became clear in 2012 that the Cocktail Party GOP-establishment would rather lose elections than elect Republicans to office who were not part of the accepted “club.” Nikki Haley is a great example of someone who is installed in a position of power and then completely changes who she is because she likes being in power so much and listens to the people who tell her not to upset the apple cart.
Americans are truly and deeply disgusted by people like Haley…and all the consultants who tell Republicans they must appear “moderate” if they want to win elections (even though moderates like John McCain and Mitt Romney lost their elections). The Cocktail Party GOP-establishent this year tried to force Jeb Bush on everyone, but since that is not working now they are trying to force Marco Rubio on us. At some point, they might even switch to Chris Christie as a backup. The Cocktail Party never gives up.
But, the American people are fed up and in Mead’s article he likens this attitude to “Jacksonian revival.” While he doesn’t think this is a good thing, I happen to think it’s exactly what the country needs.
For decades, the Left and the Cocktail Party elite have been destroying this country economy and decimating the middle class. It’s sometimes hard to wrap our heads around fully, but the elite in both parties really have the same goals: they want to enslave Americans economically, eradicate American culture, import enough uneducated foreigners to completely change the demographics of this country, impoverish the country, and erase American traditions like the First Amendment Right to Petition so that “Future Americans” are a different species of people who are scared of the government and are terrified of challenging it.
Political correctness has severely damaged this country in Orwellian ways. The Cocktail Party is terrified of even talking about that. If America is to become great again we need to eradicate political correctness and cultural Marxism. That is mission critical and priority number one.
Now that Mead has mentioned it, I can see the Jacksonian framework in that. I also really enjoyed a lot of what was said in an article by Michael Brendan Dougherty in The Week, called “How an obscure advisor to Pat Buchanan predicted the wild Trump campaign in 1996.” Again, this was written by a Millennial who holds Jacksonian Americans in obvious contempt, but at least he’s smart enough to see that there’s something really happening here.
Trump resonates because he wants to put native born Americans first and is sick to death of gimmegrants (my new favorite term for Third Worlders who pore across our border and then demand the United States support them for the rest of their lives).
Trump is sick of political correctness and says what the rest of us in Jacksonian America have waited our entire lives for a leader to say.
Trump doesn’t care if the media or the elite like him.
Trump isn’t bothered when the Left makes fun of him.
Trump is patriotic, loves America, and believes this country has the potential to become the greatest in all history.
Trump is against the colonization of the West by the Third World and Islam.
Trump does not support the federal government ruling our lives from Washington.
It’s wonderful to see Sarah Palin come out for Trump today. I hope she campaigns hard for him. Palin really is an important historical figure, right up there with Andrew Breitbart and others in the 2008-2010 time period where this Resistance to the Left and Cocktail Party began. I rank Palin up there with Betsy Ross and Ben Franklin and Paul Revere and George Washington as people who are synonymous with the American spirit. I tend to think of that spirit mostly in the Revolutionary days…but now I’ll have to adjust my thinking and include Andrew Jackson in that as well. There is a uniquely American soul that is evident in all these people, where they are unafraid to speak their minds and they believe the government should fear the people and not the other way around.
I have felt for a long time that Americans are hungry for leadership like this and for an attitude like Trump has shown so far. I hope he is seriously considering making Sarah Palin his Secretary of Energy so she can go to Washington with him and start cracking skulls.
[Above: GoFundMe campaign setup to raise legal funds for the defense of Illinois student expelled for having an unloaded gun locked in his vehicle. Every gun owner is entitled to a spirited defense when arms of the state come after him.]
The Edgar County Watchdogs are reporting that Logan Baker, a student in the Neoga School District here in Illinois, has been expelled from school for having an unloaded gun in his vehicle. There is a GoFundMe set up for Logan to raise money to pay for him to hire attorneys to fight this expulsion. A successful legal defense will probably cost him $10,000.
This is a cause worth contributing to because the Neoga School District seems politically motivated in targeting Logan because of the Obama Regime’s current push to take away Americans’ guns. Expulsion was clearly not the answer here, but the Leftists who run the Neoga School District seemingly wanted to prove they were good little Leftist drones who do what Obama commands them. Disarming the American population is a big goal of the Left, because a disarmed population is then unable to ever defend itself against an out of control totalitarian government.
The Watchdogs have raised some valid questions about the expulsion of Logan Baker that need to be addressed:
- Is it true that drugs and or drug paraphernalia were confiscated from the school that day and no one was suspended or expelled?
- Is it true that an Administrator has told a student to go home for having a gun in his vehicle and nothing else was done in the past?
- Is it true the ‘part-time’ Superintendent threatened an Administrator’s position if the punishment issued didn’t happen as demanded?
- Is it true bond money designated for a specific purpose was used for a parking lot instead of the designated purpose?
- Ask them to explain the back door referendums they passed in the past.
- Is it legal to use students to hand out papers on school property for Neoga Community Alliance that is pushing for a tax increase?
- Can those opposing it pass out their information on school property?
The Neoga School District has so far refused to answer these questions. There is a public board meeting tomorrow (1/20/16) that looks like it will be packed to the rafters.
How You Can Help
1. Go on Facebook and share the link to Logan Baker’s GoFundMe and tell your friends about what the Neoga School District is doing to this young man in service to the Obama Regime and its war on the Second Amendment. His GoFundMe is here. Email it out to your contacts with an explanation for what is going on.
2. Donate a few bucks to help chip in for Logan Baker’s legal fees. Hiring a defense attorney is expensive. A retainer could easily be $10,000. This young man’s life and future are at stake here and the state has limitless resources to persecute him.
3. Call or write to the NRA and ask them to get involved, especially in terms of providing legal representation to Logan Baker.
* NRA Phone: (800) 672-3888
* NRA contact form: click here to message the NRA
* NRA Twitter handle is: @NRA
4. If you are in the area, attend the Neoga School District board meeting on 1/20/16 and make your voice heard.
* Orland Park Public Library Trustee Diane Jennings admitted in August 2014 that child porn had been accessed in the Library but staff didn’t call the police and then covered it up.
* The Library had to pay a $55,000 settlement in 2015 after it was sued twice for violating Illinois’ Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) by excessively redacting documents it found embarrassing.
* This one public library in Chicago’s suburbs has become the poster child for everything that is wrong with government at the local level when it comes to aggressively fighting transparency laws.
The Orland Park Public Library (OPPL) has provided another example of outrageous conduct by a government body in Illinois: this time, it was flipping a metaphoric middle finger at us and seemingly outsourcing their FOIA redactions to the CIA. The same people who meticulously censor every word on pages of Top Secret reports on space aliens and that missing Malaysian jet in the South Pacific are now apparently moonlighting as the censors at America’s worst-run public library.
What makes this even more interesting is that this public body lost two lawsuits over censoring documents just last spring…but here it goes again, seemingly having learned nothing.
The Illinois Freedom of Information Act allows a public body only limited room to censor documents asked for in FOIA requests. The government is permitted to censor what the statute calls “exempt information.” This mostly involves the private information of employees or patrons (home addresses, home telephone numbers, private email addresses) and information that is legitimately attorney-client privileged. But the Freedom of Information Act does not allow a public entity to censor documents with wholesale CIA-grade redactions in giant blocks like the OPPL has done here.
Why Should You Care?
Our country is in the mess that it’s in because our government has decided that it hates the American people and so it intends to replace us with a population that is ignorant, timid, and unaccustomed to challenging those in power. Hence the massive push for open borders and the colonization of the United States by the Third World. The federal government is too big to bring back under control and will probably require a Second American Revolution to rein-in. Even many state governments (especially in places like Illinois) are too far steeped in corruption for people on the ground to realistically do anything about. But, local government bodies can indeed be cleaned up. They can be scrutinized, audited, and shamed when they violate the law. They can be course-corrected.
The Orland Park Public Library Board may be located in a little suburb of Chicago that you may have never heard of and probably don’t care about, but it has become a remarkable learning experience in terms of what can be accomplished using the Freedom of Information Act and the First Amendment Right to Petition to challenge the actions of a public body. For many years, this one public library had been knowingly looking the other way while men masturbated in the Library, sexually accosted small children, sexually harassed women (including female library employees), and used the OPPL’s unsecured and anonymous WiFi to access child pornography. All of this was discovered in the Library’s own internal incident reports, which the Library aggressively fought production of. It took attending month after month of Library board meetings to finally compel a Board Member (Diane Jennings) to admit that the child pornography had been allowed to be accessed and that staff were wrong to not call the police when things like that happened.
Illinois is in such sorry shape that public library boards are knowingly looking the other way when their buildings and resources are being used to access child pornography. That is how bad things have gotten in our country.
We are currently a nation where a public library — of all things — out in a suburb you’ve never heard of considers it normal practice to censor documents like this is the Soviet Union. The attitude is that they are part of the government, and the government in their view does not have to answer to the people or abide by things like the Freedom of Information Act or the Open Meetings Act. They don’t believe that the public has any recourse or right to challenge them.
I don’t believe you can change Washington from the top down and restore America to a nation of liberty and limited government. Washington is too powerful. I also don’t think you can clean-up our government by focusing on state capitals. Springfield, Illinois is too powerful. I think a bottom-up strategy of activism and advocacy is the key to rooting out corruption. And, yes, even entities as obscure and minute as a public library board need scrutiny and sustained criticism to force changes that bring them in line with the law.
The lesson of Orland Park is that the culture of corruption that plagues our country has metastasized down to the lowest levels of government to the point where even public library boards are doing horrific things like allowing child pornography and sex crimes to occur in these public buildings…and when caught doing that, these local government boards claw and scratch and lash out at anyone that criticizes them. The corruption cannot be battled in Springfield or Washington until it is driven out of places like Orland Park on the local level first.
Think of Orland Park as a case study that highlights some things you can start doing today where you live that would shake up the status quo. We as individuals might not be able to personally impact the goings-on at the federal level…but we can all impact our local communities.
My theory is that if enough “We’re Not Going to Take It Anymore” noise is made at the local level all over the country, then the County and State government officials will take notice (and fear for their own jobs). In time, that’s how Washington will be forced to change…as the power foundation it rests upon is shaken in every state capital and county seat.
This all reminds me of the Allies taking back Europe village by village, town by town, city by city in World War II. The strategy then was not just to throw everything they had at Paris or Rome or Berlin. Instead, they pushed evil out of sleepy hamlets and little communities no one had ever found on a map before. It was a bottom-up strategy for winning a long war against an occupying power.
In our own country, the reality is that the Left has achieved a stranglehold over much of our nation, down to the local level. The Left has mostly won the Culture War…so much so that public libraries not only are caught allowing child pornography to be accessed but then they cover it up by censoring or hiding documents that prove their wrongdoing. Over the last few decades when most people weren’t paying attention or watching, Marian the Librarian from Music Man became a hardcore Leftist who now sees her primary role to be allowing sex crimes to go unreported in libraries because the sexualization of children and the normalization of deviant behavior in public are two chief goals of the Left (in the broader scheme of destroying what’s left of American families…which alienates children from their parents and makes them more susceptible to the ambitions of the state).
Library boards. School boards. Park district boards. County boards. None of these government entities have had any oversight from the public for decades because people have stopped paying attention at the local level. If you start FOIA-ing these entities for their internal incident reports and spending documents, you will be shocked by what you find. Abuses of power…lavish spending in violation of state laws…sex crimes being overlooked and covered-up…no-bid contracts…graft, corruption, and myriad other sins.
I sometimes think the reason the Left wins so often is that it’s like an octopus or hydra with tentacles everywhere, always moving and doing something terrible…and good people who have a natural urge to fight that never know where to start. So they become overwhelmed. They don’t have a plan for taking on the larger beast.
That’s why starting in your own communities matters. With one local board that you can personally take charge of and start overseeing. One board of elected officials near you that you can audit and scrutinize and get to know by attending their meetings. If you investigate them and find they are not doing anything wrong, then move on to another board in your area and keep looking until you find a public body that is willfully breaking the law. Then exercise your First Amendment Right to Petition in whatever way you can think of until you compel that public body to stop doing whatever terrible things it is doing. Make it your hobby to follow these boards’ activities the way that some people follow the happenings of various sportsball teams. You would be surprised at how exciting and interesting this can all become, especially when the public bodies lash out at you and try to scare you away.
You might never be able to imagine a library board clawing and scratching like a legion of demons in The Exorcist when caught doing evil, but that’s exactly what happened in Orland Park. And even when seemingly defeated, the evil vows to return if people stop watching and stop paying attention…hence the latest round of CIA-redacted censorship of documents that now must be challenged.
It really is a never-ending war against the Left that must be fought for liberty’s cause at the lowliest local level until the day when absolutely everyone working in government becomes afraid of the public catching them breaking the law and the real consequences that come from that.
* For the last few years, Megan Fox and I have been studying corruption and illegal activity in the Village of Orland Park, Illinois (in Chicago’s southwestern suburbs).
* We became interested in Orland Park after discovering that the Orland Park Public Library had a long and disgraceful history of covering up child pornography and sex crimes happening in the building (as well as harassment of female employees who complained about the sexual activity ongoing in the Library). Orland Park also happens to be the site of a large Muslim colony in Chicagoland, which creates its own share of problems in the community. Village of Orland Park public employees have been caught violating the Freedom of Information Act, Open Meetings Act, and other “good government” laws to cover up whatever they don’t want the public to see. This includes extravagant wasteful spending, usually centered on trips, parties, or gluttonous meals that public employees buy for themselves with public funds.
* Orland Park is an interesting case study for government watchdogs because of how aggressively the Village and public employees lash out and push back against efforts at transparency. In many ways, dealing with Orland Park is like going up against the mob. They fight by “Chicago Rules” to defend their racket in this Village You’ve Never Heard Of.
* Orland Park is like the “Twin Peaks” of Chicagoland: something strange and terrible is always happening there and the people who run the Village don’t want you to know about any of it!
* The Edgar County Watchdogs have been reporting on Orland Park for some time and have a solid archive available for perusal.
The Village of Orland Park once again has some explaining to do. Must be Tuesday!
On 1/18/16, the Village’s Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) compliance officer Alexandra Snodsmith (that’s her real name, I swear…though it sounds like a made-up name that the character Karen Walker would have used in a pinch on Will & Grace if her usual alias of Anastasia Beaverhausen was not available) finally produced copies of the “Lost Receipt Affidavits” that the Village had been repeatedly delaying production of for some time.
The Village claims it started using “Lost Receipt Affidavits” in April 2015 in situations where a Village employee demands reimbursement for food and drink while supposedly traveling on Village business…but the employee “lost” the receipt to prove the purchases were really made. This is in stark contrast to the private sector, where if an employee at a private company would “lose” a receipt then that employee would be out of luck (as private sector accountants have strict rules about never reimbursing for expenses without receipts).
(Aside: I keep putting “lost” and “lose” in quotes because I don’t believe these receipts are ever really lost and think that Village employees just claim to have “lost” the receipts because something fishy is going on. End Aside)
The Village at first refused to comply with a FOIA request for these Lost Receipt Affidavits, claiming it would be “too burdensome” to search for them. This is what the Village always says when it does not want to turn over embarrassing documents. The Village just settled a $12,000 lawsuit for violating the Freedom of Information Act but doesn’t seem to have learned its lesson in this regard.
In an earlier FOIA production, one of these “Lost Receipt” documents had turned up involving a forgetful employee who claimed she couldn’t find her receipt for the Chick-Fil-A sandwich, fries, and drink she consumed. Instead of obtaining a new receipt from Chick-Fil-A, the Village employee filled out this Lost Receipt Affidavit and was reimbursed. The form states at the bottom that it should be used only in rare occurrences, which made us curious to see how many times these forms have been used in recent years.
That’s when the Village, through its FOIA compliance officer
Anastasia Beaverhausen Alexandra Snodsmith, refused to produce the Lost Receipt Affidavits (because…burdensome). We had to complain to Village Manager Paul Grimes and Mayor of Orland Park Dan McLaughlin to compel Snodsmith to provide the Lost Receipt Affidavits. We successfully argued that the Lost Receipt Affidavits were documents in the possession of the Village of Orland Park and that they must be produced for public scrutiny. The Village admitted that it had these documents, but it didn’t want to give them to us so they just made up lies.
Snodsmith had claimed it would take her over 50 days to look for these documents. That seemed stupid, since I can’t imagine it taking 50 whole days to find the file cabinet marked “L” for “Lost Receipt Affidavits” (or possible “R,” for “Receipts, Lost” or whatever). She made it seem like she would have to travel to that big creepy warehouse in Area 51 that they showed at the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark, where the federal government locked away all the treasures that Indiana Jones uncovered. I highly doubt that
Alexandra Illinois Snodsmith needed to wander through a maze of giant wooden crates for 50 days (and 50 nights!) like a lost tribeswoman of Israel in search of these “Lose Receipt Affidavits” the way she made this all out to be so difficult for her to do. After we complained to Grimes and McLaughlin, the next day Snodsmith admitted they had only been using the forms since April 2015 and that it wouldn’t really take 50 days of burdensome effort (in Area 51) after all to locate them. Imagine that!
This made us wonder what the Village didn’t want us to see in these Lost Receipt Affidavits, because every time they play games and refuse to produce something it’s because there is a page or two in there that they don’t want us to see because we will no doubt embarrass them with it. We suspected the Lost Receipt Affidavits might show either the same “forgetful” employees “losing” receipts consistently or employees being reimbursed without a receipt for questionable purchases. We imagined if an employee ordered something that he or she should not have ordered and wanted the Village to use taxpayer money to pay for it, a good way to hide whatever it was would be to claim the receipt was lost and obtain reimbursement by way of these affidavits the Village created.
When Snodsmith finally responded with the Lost Receipt Affidavits, she produced a total of 9 instances where forgetful or careless Village employees claim to have lost their receipts but still demanded reimbursement from taxpayers anyway. Again, no private company I’ve ever heard of would have handed over a cent to these forgetful idiots without having hardcopy receipts to verify these purchases were legitimate.
The page that jumped out as most questionable was a Lost Receipt Affidavit completed by Village employee Karie Filing on 5/22/15, for expenses she claimed she incurred on 4/18/15. Filing requested $15.59 to reimburse her for what she spent at McMenamins Six Arms Pub in Seattle, Washington. The website for this establishment shows that McMenamins is a brewery…and a delightful one at that!
Without a receipt showing what Filing ordered, there’s no way to tell if she was reimbursed with taxpayer money for beer or other alcohol at this pub. This is an example of why public bodies should not allow something like a “Lost Receipt Affidavit” to ever be used; such a document allows public employees an opportunity to slip in reimbursements that might not have been allowed if the employee was forced to produce an actual receipt showing everything that was ordered in a questionable establishment like a pub.
Abuse of this Lost Receipt Affidavit is not only possible but probable if public employees know they can be paid back for going to a pub if they conveniently “lose” their receipt and then fill out this affidavit form instead. Then, no one can see what was ordered at the pub.
Let’s be real: who goes to a brewery and doesn’t have a frosty cold one?
The Village of Orland Park has a policy against reimbursing for alcohol purchases by public employees, but without the actual detailed receipt from McMenamins Six Arms Pub no one will ever know what Karie Filing ordered while she was there…and her reimbursement check was cut for her without any further questions from her bosses at the Village. Should that be the case?
Do you think the Village would let you get off the hook for something if you needed to have documentation but you said you “lost it” or “forgot it” or “left it in Seattle at the brewery”? Hell to the no. Government employees should be held strictly to the rules because these very same government employees take delight in wielding rules against the public. The problem is that too few members of the public bother to scrutinize what our government at all levels is doing, which is why “Lost Receipt Affidavits” pop up as loopholes for pub crawling reimbursement.
Another Lost Receipt Affidavit was for $125.00 worth of bagels that were supposedly ordered and given to Fifth Third Bank by Village employees, for some reason. Can’t the bank buy its own bagels? Without a receipt, how can you know if bagels really were ordered and if this is legitimate spending? With an order that large, couldn’t the Village have contacted the bagel shop and asked them to reprint the receipt instead of just taking the employee’s word that she really spent $125.00 on bagels? That sounds like an awful lot of bagels. Another careless employee claims she drove to the Wisconsin Dells and wanted $98.00 in taxpayer money given to her for the drive, but she “lost” her receipt. Did she really go to the Dells or did she just want $98.00 for free? Without a receipt, we’ll never know for sure.
Why Should You Care?
Lost Receipt Affidavits are a bad idea from a public policy and government transparency perspective. It is much better if a public body takes a “tough luck” approach to these situations, where Village employees who are forgetful or careless should be told “tough luck” and forgo reimbursement if they cannot be bothered to keep ahold of their receipts. Let them have to pay for their own delicious chicken sandwiches, fries, pub crawls, and bagel-paloozas and watch them learn lickety-split to stop losing their receipts.
A strict policy of “no receipt means no reimbursement” would mean employees who go to pubs while on trips they intend to bill to taxpayers will be sure not to order anything they aren’t supposed to be ordering, since they know the itemized receipts will be scrutinized. And all bagel purchases and trips to the Dells would have to be completely legitimate and above the board too, since receipts would prove whether those events really happened as well.
Without such receipts, too many questions are raised. The reason Illinois is in such a mess is because public employees believe they can get away with the little things they do that are bad…which then convinces them to try other, larger, more terrible things since they figure no one is ever watching.
Donald Trump’s campaign rally in Urbandale Iowa is live streaming on YouTube here:
It starts at 930am CST on 1/15/16.
Donald Trump has really been running a brilliant campaign. This morning, there are a lot of interesting takes on the debate last night, especially the sparring between Trump and Ted Cruz. One of the observations made in something I read addressed the fact that Trump is tapping into the anger that all of us feel with the sense that “America is dying.” The elite — be they on the Left or in the ranks of the Cocktail Party GOP establishment — don’t see the country dying, because they are insulated and comfortable in their little bubbles. I was in Washington, DC for something in the summer and it was like being in a totally different world compared to parts of Chicago. DC is thriving. New York for the most part is always thriving. But things are so bad in this country that the death of this country is even being felt in Chicago: stores that have been open for 30 years are closing because they can’t afford the rising rent, long stretches of storefronts are empty (some for years), the City is aggressively ticketing parked cars like never before because it is so broke (even having cops drive around endlessly looking for people who have expired state vehicle stickers, which is a $60 fine). These are desperate times.
Anyone I know who works in hospitality has woken up to the reality of illegal immigration…those are easy jobs to bring in illegals under the table and replace American workers. Black people are seeing that City jobs in Chicago are going to Spanish-speakers now instead of to blacks. Resentment is building because even government employers are looking to replace American-born blacks with imported Hispanic labor. The City seems to like employing Hispanics more than blacks, so the blacks are being tossed to the curb.
Democrats would face a horror show of an election against Donald Trump, because he’s probably the only Republican that black people would ever vote for. If Trump rails against companies (and government offices) that hire Spanish-speakers over native-born Americans, there will be a flood of people who never voted Republican in their whole lives rushing to vote for Trump.
People need Trump to tell them it is okay to voice their anger. I get angry every time I go on something like Hulu and they play Spanish ads during a show. There is nothing I hate more than hearing Spanish. It is the language of poverty. It is the language of laziness. If you want to live in America, you need to put aside the garbage of your old life in whatever hellhole you came from. When you move here, start speaking English. Stop pretending you are still where you were before you left. Assimilate. Do not force the people who were born here and have spoken English our whole lives to now have to listen to Spanish because of you.
I hate that America is slowly being colonized by Central America. It makes me angry. I am sickened that our elected officials are allowing this to happen, because Democrats want the votes from these Hispanic colonists and the Cocktail Party GOP elite wants the cheap, uneducated, compliant labor to replace American workers (and eliminate blacks from the workforce). I hate the disruption that all of these non-assimilating colonists are causing. We have enough unemployment in this country. We do not have a need for the never-ending importation of colonists from Central America.
Donald Trump is the only person I feel is capable of doing anything about this. I believe he really will build The Wall. We have needed that wall since the 1980s. Construction of The Wall has been authorized since the 1980s. But the Left has prevented the construction and the Cocktail Party GOP establishment has refused to build The Wall…because they wanted to lower wages and make jobs scarce (and because they prefer ignorant, illiterate Third Worlders working those jobs because they are easier to boss around and control than native born Americans).
This country really needs to start taking care of its own, not being this perpetual chump that surrenders its sovereignty and allows a cesspool like Mexico to dictate to us. We need a president who will put Mexico in its place and assert dominance of that Gulf oil. It’s been how many years and we still have this problem with Mexican drug cartels? Mexican drug running was a plot device in episodes of the A-Team in the 80s. Here we are in 2016 and we haven’t done anything to subdue the criminal enterprises of Mexico. The only thing that makes me angrier than Spanish ads popping up on American tee-vee is hearing whatever lowlife president of Mexico is currently in office dictating terms to America or saying we need to accept and support more of the colonists that Mexico dumps on us. I am sick to death of this.
Are you angry too?
Every election it seems there’s a large portion of Republican voters who stay home because they think letting the Democrat win is sending a message to someone, somewhere. That message is never received and it only results in more Democrats being elected, which means more colonists are allowed to pour in and take jobs from Americans. This year, we actually have a candidate in the race who will do something about the problems this country faces. If you do not get off the couch and vote for Donald Trump then you are never going to get off the couch.
I think the greatest thing about Donald Trump is that finally there is a Republican running who has some testosterone in him. After the parade of wimps that the GOP has run in recent years, it is electrifying to have an Alpha Male in the race who will not take any garbage from the Left or the Elite or Third Worlders.
It is an exciting experience to watch Donald Trump’s rallies. My hope is that when he speaks it gives everyone else in the Silent Majority courage to start speaking out as well. Political correctness cast a spell on this country that made people afraid to express themselves…and the result of that is all of the problems we have been facing lately. You cannot be silent and just hope for the best. You must speak out. Start telling anyone who will listen how angry you are.
Thoughts on Trump speaking in the live stream:
* Should make it tough to come to America. Illegals are being treated better than veterans.
* Trump will make our country great again and put a stop to this.
* Potential to make America greater than ever before.
* He is really a great speaker; probably the best candidate I’ve ever heard speak.
* Politicians are all talk and no action…for years they have been saying they will fix the VA and it is worse than ever before.
* Trump fixed the Wolman (sp?) rink in New York after politicians couldn’t fix it for years. Example of him doing things that typical politicians can’t do.
* General Patton could wipe out ISIS in two days. Why aren’t modern generals like that? Trump will fix it.
* I really love listening to him speak. What I love most is when he states the obvious: how stupid most people in leadership positions are.
* Trump has the biggest crowds at all his rallies.
* Let’s be honest about Iowa though: these people are very spoiled. Aren’t you sick of Iowa always going first and Iowa being lavished all this attention? To me, the people in Iowa always seem like prima donnas. They need to be coddled. They really take advantage of this “first in the nation” stuff. And that caucus is horrible. Making people stand in a room and walk to a corner to support a candidate. I think that’s sick. Every election should be a secret ballot. Having people physically walk to a corner in a room to be counted sounds like something people do in the Sudan. I am sick to death of Iowa.
* Trump says he can’t believe how stupid the Chinese think our leaders are. The people in office now are such jokes. We lose billions of dollars on bad trade deals.
* We need people who love this country to be running things.
* The deal with Iran is a disgrace: giving them $150 billion and they put our sailors in the begging position.
* We have the dumbest and most stupid people leading this country. We have to change that.
* We need to strengthen our military so no one will mess with us again.
* The “Allies” we have in the world take advantage of us.
* We are wasting so much money. We need smart people to start questioning how our money is spent.
* Sick of Republicans letting us down. You send them to Washington and then they just do whatever Democrats want. Sick of that. They seem to think when they get there that if they do what the people want they will lose their seats. Need people who will do what is right.
* Political correctness is killing this country.
* He will turn his company over his kids to run when he wins.
* We will be saying Merry Christmas again. Christmas will be back. No more happy holidays political correctness.
* Angry at stupidity. Angry at incompetence. Angry at our politicians. Angry at people coming across the border. Angry at anchor babies. Need to straighten this all out.
* ISIS is using the Internet better than we are. They are radicalizing people over the Internet. We are allowing people to come back after they are radicalized but they should never be allowed back.
* Need to destroy ISIS.
* We need to lower taxes and create an economy that is vibrant again. Cut the waste, fraud, and abuse. Make the country strong and rich again.
* Get rid of Common Core. Go back to local education. Get rid of Department of Education.
* EPA is making things terrible. Go back 15 years. Roll back the craziness. Do a lot of cutting.
* Trump thinks that Hillary Clinton will not be the Democrat nominee. He thinks what she did with the emails and servers is worse than what David Petraeus did.
* Mocks the $5 Billion Obamacare website.
* Veterans are dying because of the VA wait times…yet Mexicans go for free to US hospitals and take healthcare. How sick is that? Our veterans don’t get treatment…but illegals walk into a hospital and demand things and are given whatever they want.
* Paris has the toughest gun laws in the world…and all it did was create defenseless victims. Same with California. Gun free zones create killing fields because people are defenseless. Maniacs see that as a playground.
* People in California knew those San Bernadino muslims were plotting something but political correctness stopped them from phoning in a tip about these guys.
* Europe is being invaded. Look at all the young muslim men streaming into Europe. Trojan Horse. We have enough problems here without bringing in Syrian muslims.
[Warning: if you fall onto Carla Burkhart’s naughty list, she will SLAPP you!]
* Carla Burkhart is a corrupt public official who used her position on the College of DuPage Foundation Board to obtain a no-bid contract for considerable money.
* In January 2016, Burkhart filed a SLAPP lawsuit against critics of her no-bid contract.
* SLAPP stands for “Strategic Litigation Against Public Participation,” which is something public officials use as a weapon against critics to chill free speech and attempt to trample on the constitutionally protected First Amendment Right to Petition public bodies for redress of grievances.
As I reported yesterday, the Edgar County Watchdogs activist group has been sued for $8 million by College of DuPage Foundation Board Member Carla Burkhart. Today I want to walk through her lawsuit and point out how ridiculous it is, using some of what I learned reading a fantastic book on this type of punitive and vexatious litigation that was written by George W. Pring and Penelope Canan in the 1990s, SLAPPs: Getting Sue for Speaking Out.
If you could choose one topic to become interested in for the new year that would pay dividends and help you become more active in rooting out corruption in your own community, I recommend you study SLAPPs. Chances are, some public official like Burkhart is probably suing a watchdog group or reporter in your own area and I am sure the target of that SLAPP could use your help on the ground. This abuse of power and process is happening all across the country because there is no national anti-SLAPP law that would prevent such Strategic Litigation Against Public Participation.
The Pring/Canan book on SLAPPs is more than 20 years old at this point and I have not been able to find a newer work on the subject that’s remotely as good. Maybe someone reading this will write one. There’s a need for it, because we have entered into a new phase of SLAPPs that was not predicted by Pring/Canan.
Their book covered the first two waves of SLAPPs. The first will surprise you in that it took place just after the American Revolution, up until 1800 or so. At the very birth of our nation, local justices of the peace and other officials didn’t like the idea of Free Speech or the public’s ability to question and mock elected officials. This makes sense if you think about these people being in their 40s or 50s and having lived in the days before the Revolution; their brains were still hard-wired to England and aristocracy and being ruled by a King on a throne somewhere. They didn’t like when someone called them out on their bad behavior, so they would sue critics for defamation. Judges tossed these vexatious lawsuits out of court immediately, citing the First Amendment Right to Petition and the fact that criticizing a public official is not defamation (but is actually a treasured American right that sets our country apart from all others).
This is something that a lot of people, especially conservatives, have a hard time understanding. Defamation requires that a person know something is false and intend to cause harm while publishing it anyway, knowing that by telling a lie that harm will come to the target of the lie. The key words are: lie, intend, false, and harm. Reporting on something terrible that a public official actually did is not defamation. Criticizing a public official for bad behavior is not defamation. Mocking and ridiculing a public official is not defamation. Our nation’s first courts got it right over and over again in those early days and the First Wave of SLAPPs (as Pring/Canan identified them) lasted only a few years before elected officials realized they weren’t going to get anywhere with that tactic.
Jump ahead 170 years to the 1970s, when SLAPPs were rediscovered and used by mostly real estate developers as a weapon to silence critics of poorly conceived development projects. This was back in the days when greedy men in polyester suits with wide striped ties thought it was a great idea to build concrete public housing projects on scenic beachfront property…or plop state-run drug addiction clinics in the middle of a community full of young families…or local a slaughterhouse next to a cherished woodland park to befoul the area. Communities who opposed such developments found themselves at war with the developers, who would use every trick imaginable to get their way. These unscrupulous people started suing the outspoken activists who wanted to stop these ugly projects…in the hopes that the lawsuits would scare them into silence or otherwise tie them up or bankrupt them so they could no longer be obstacles to the construction. You can see how effective this would be in many cases: a well-funded corporate litigation team would file a SLAPP against a ragtag group of moms and dads who opposed the housing project or drug clinic or slaughterhouse or whatever. The community members were exercising their constitutional right to oppose the poorly planned construction projects…and because they spoke out against these developments, the developers sued these people for defamation. This went on for many years, through the 1970s and 1980s and into the 1990s, when Pring/Canan wrote their excellent book. It became an epidemic.
They called that the Second Wave of SLAPPs…which prompted many states to pass anti-SLAPP legislation that was meant to dismiss these kinds of lawsuits early in the litigation process, to both save the court’s time and also spare the targets of the SLAPPs the legal costs involved with defending themselves against such frivolous lawsuits.
I argue that so much time has passed since the Pring/Canan book that we are now in a Third Wave of SLAPPs. This time, the people who are filing these lawsuits are either spoiled prima donnas who don’t like being criticized (similar to the SLAPPers in the First Wave of SLAPPs back in the 1700s) or organizations who use proxies to file SLAPPs so that the organization can benefit in some way from the chill that the SLAPP puts over the community.
In the matter at hand, Carla Burkhart seems to be both a prima donna and also a proxy, possibly for the College of DuPage. She comes off as a spoiled and self-absorbed woman who does not like being criticized by the Edgar County Watchdogs…and at the same time it feels like she may have been egged on in this lawsuit by entities at the College of DuPage, who seem to be sick of John Kraft and Kirk Allen covering the years’ worth of ongoing wrongdoing at the College of DuPage. Burkhart’s goal is clearly to silence the Watchdogs, make them stop writing about her, and also scare anyone else out there who may be considering criticizing her or the College of DuPage (because Pring/Canan identified one big motivation of filing a SLAPP to be chilling speech in the community, since people will see that the Watchdogs have been sued and are suffering through litigation and so if they don’t want to be sued too they reason that they must keep their mouths shut about how they feel about Carla Burkhart and/or the College of DuPage).
[Kirk Allen (left) and John Kraft (right)…the best investigators of government corruption in the state of Illinois.]
Illinois is sometimes a hilarious state to live in, because if you show any interest at all in questioning how the government here spends money then you are called a “busybody.” I wonder if this is because so many people of Eastern European stock immigrated to the Chicago area…and that Soviet mentality became part of the Chicagoland culture that infected the rest of the state. I also think part of it is related to how much people love Al Capone here and how the airport gift shops have so many tee shirts with his face on it, as opposed to Abe Lincoln (who is supposed to be the mascot for the state…but people think Capone is more fun). Illinois is a very strange place where you are actually looked down upon if you “make trouble” by asking too many questions (or any questions at all). People have an attitude here of “shut up and mind your own business” and “don’t spoil this nice racket we’ve got going on.” Don’t rock the boat or make waves!
Kraft & Allen have pretty much single-handedly been using Freedom of Information Act requests to obtain documents that prove wrongdoing by all sorts of public officials. For some reason, reporters at the Chicago Tribune or Sun Times or wherever are never interested in doing this. Maybe they are but their editors won’t let them write anything negative about elected officials…or the editors think those stories would be boring because “nobody cares about the College of DuPage.” That is something that editors of publications say a lot, “nobody cares about the local level.” Remember that the newspapers are all failing and reporters now have to deliver papers door to door on Sundays…and everything is driven by clicks and hit counts and “what can go viral.” Investigative journalism is all but dead. Every paper still alive has become a shallow tabloid.
So, the only way any of this corruption gets exposed anymore is because people like Kraft & Allen have made it their hobby to do so. Instead of watching baseball or football or whatever or collecting stamps or making model airplanes (you can tell that I have no idea what straight guys do in their free time if they are not investigating government wrongdoing), they FOIA government entities for their meeting minutes and contracts and whatever and they look to make sure that everyone is obeying the law. When they find someone who has broken the law, they write about that person on Illinois Leaks. When a corrupt public official doesn’t like being written about, that person sues…and loses because that lawsuit is a SLAPP. Lather, rinse, repeat. This will keep happening as long as public officials think they can get away with filing these Third Wave SLAPPs. We as a country really do need a federal anti-SLAPP law to stop all this.
Carla Burkhart’s SLAPP can be read in its entirety here. My thoughts as I read through it as a student of SLAPPs are:
Page 1: Is Herricane Graphics even a real company? In her lawsuit, Burkhart claims that she runs a business called “Herricane Graphics.” I talked yesterday about what a stupid name that is, but today I looked it up on the Illinois Secretary of State’s website and it is a licensed business. So it technically exists on paper, but I couldn’t find a website for it. The only Yellow Page listing I found redirects to another company called “Schreiner Chicago” (that has a 1990s-looking generic website that says it sells writing instruments and measuring cups, or something). All of this is strange because wouldn’t a graphic design company — if it was legitimate — have a fancy website to showcase its graphic design work? How does Herricane Graphics land any clients if it doesn’t have an online portfolio, a Facebook page, an Instagram, a Twitter, etc.? Something is fishy here.
Page 2: If you have never been involved in a lawsuit, you might not realize that lawyers are allowed to write all kinds of crazy things in a complaint without having to prove anything. Remember that anyone who graduates from even the worst law school in the country and manages to pass the bar in Illinois is allowed to file a lawsuit for a client and sign his name to it…and if he is not embarrassed and doesn’t care about looking foolish later, he can write anything he wants in the complaint. Realistically, unless a judge would at some point mock him, a lawyer can say crazy things in a filing and trust that 99.9999% of people will never read it. Lawsuits are boring to read and reporters are lazy. The average person who has no reason to read a lawsuit won’t bother. Even people who have been sued might not read the lawsuit because they have an attorney to do that (and attorneys never make fun of one another because they all try to stay friendly and give one another slack for the showmanship of a ridiculous complaint). Sometimes bad lawyers put things in a complaint just hoping to get an exciting headline on the chance that a reporter would read it…never expecting anything in the complaint to stick. Almost all lawyers operate under the assumption that the lawsuit will be settled out of court because almost all lawsuits are settled out of court (even the frivolous ones). No lawyer wants to go before a jury because juries are so unpredictable.
So, I laugh when I read what’s written about Kraft & Allen in this complaint by Burkhart because I can’t believe the lawyer she found to represent her is such a ridiculous writer. Take this sentence (please!): “The publications on Illinois Leaks are not designed to educate or inform the public, but to manufacture public hysteria against whatever cause Allen and Kraft so choose.” This is laughable because if you read Illinois Leaks you will immediately see that every post they make is meticulously sourced…and almost all based on public documents they obtained from FOIA requests and then posted to their website. They often just present documents and then pose questions, leaving the readers to view the documents themselves and draw their own conclusions. The topics they cover do not lend themselves easily to causing “public hysteria.” I am one of the Watchdogs’ biggest fans and even I have trouble finding the College of DuPage scandal exciting, let alone hysteria-inducing. I find this poorly written lawsuit that has been filed against them to be hysterical, however.
I truly feel that Carla Burkhart is one of the biggest idiots around for doing this, because she has brought the Streisand Effect upon herself. If she did not like being exposed for what she did wrong at the College of DuPage (when not many people really care about the College of DuPage outside of DuPage County) then she is going to go full on BARBRA when people coast to coast who are interested in SLAPP filings start looking into this lawsuit. As you may know, the “Streisand Effect” is named after what happened when Barbra Streisand filed a big lawsuit for millions of dollars in damages against a coastal erosion research project that had posted a photo of the California coastline that included her Malibu mansion. Hardly anyone had heard of that obscure coastal study in 2003 until Streisand filed the lawsuit; after that, millions of millions of people saw the photo that she sued to prevent anyone from seeing. Her idiocy in suing the photographer and website blew up in her face. She is an idiom now. The “Burkhart Effect” could be next.
Page 3: Here, Burkhart’s complaint gets into some of what she’s all worked up about. She claims that her company Herricane Graphics is real and is not imaginary and that the College of DuPage contracted her to do some kind of signage in April 2012. Then, in July of 2012, some kind of change was made to the signage the College wanted and so she had to have a new contract. Burkhart claims that the new contract was written as an American Institute of Architects Contract and that the College wanted that sort of contract. This gets into the problem that Kraft & Allen reported on, because Burkhart is not an architect. Someone who is not an architect should not (and can not legally) sign an Architect’s contract. The next few pages go into a weird, rambling conspiracy that Burkhart claims involved various people plotting against her, with one woman named Kathy Hamilton in a mad drive for power.
Page 5: Burkhart finally gets around to talking about the Watchdogs again. Here, she tries to make it seem like it was no big deal that she signed that Architect’s contract (even though she is not an architect). What you might not know is that in Illinois an Architect’s contract is one of the few exceptions where a public body does not have to put a job up for a competitive bid and go through that whole process. What it looks like the College of DuPage did was that they just wanted to give this job to Burkhart (who became a Board Member after she landed this gig) so they used that Architect contract to get around the bidding requirement. They didn’t want to put the job up for competitive bids because they just wanted to give this money to Burkhart and if they put it up for a bid then there was a chance that someone would underbid her and she would not get as much money as she wanted. So they pulled a fast one and used the Architect contract to get around that requirement. Burkhart is mad that she got caught and is embarrassed that Kraft & Allen reported on the bad thing she did, so now she is suing them as punishment for them catching her signing this Architect contract and evading the bid process. Only in Illinois!
Page 7: This whole page is roll on the ground hilarious. Here, Burkhart claims she did not sign the contract as an Architect. But, the Watchdogs have the contract she signed. And on the last page of the contract, she signed it as the Architect. How can she pretend this didn’t happen? See for yourself! The College of DuPage also ultimately conducted an internal audit and found that Burkhart was indeed improperly given preferential treatment. Kraft & Allen found this in FOIA production too!
As you can clearly see, over and over again this document that Carla Burkhart signed identifies her as the “Architect” in the agreement. It is repeatedly stated that this is an agreement between the College of DuPage and an Architect. At the very end of the agreement, Carla Burkhart signs her name as the President of Herricane Graphics, which is identified in Article 13 in the SCOPE OF THE AGREEMENT as being the Architect named in the contract.
She seems to claim that none of this happened, when this contract was produced pursuant to FOIA requests and the fact she signed her name as the Architect has been reported in the Chicago Tribune and in other publications...because that’s what the contract says! At no time does this ninny ever seem to have said to the College of DuPage that she shouldn’t be signing an Architect’s contract when she isn’t an architect and knows she’s not an architect. By all accounts, she’s just a greedy clown in a santa hat who went along with this Architect contract thing because this was the scheme they came up with to avoid that competitive bidding process and show her preferential treatment.
Page 12: Burkhart finally gets into the counts of the lawsuit here. Pages 8 through 11 were more rambling conspiracy theories about Kathy Hamilton plotting world domination or something. Burkhart has a strange persecution complex. She also complained about various articles that the Edgar County Watchdogs wrote about her that were all true, but since they were unflattering to her she says they weren’t true. But, again, each article is supported by documents that the College of DuPage produced pursuant to FOIA requests. And every article has documentation either attached or linked. So, I don’t understand how the attorney representing Carla Burkhart could in good faith sign his name to this complaint and file it for her. This is a guy who should really be facing Rule 11 sanctions for this. A lawyer who knowingly files a bogus SLAPP like this does not deserve to keep practicing law. He went to law school and should know better and should have told his client that she is out of her cotton picking mind and can’t sue people because she did something wrong and is now mad that people are writing about it. Take a public position on a Board (and enrich yourself) and expect public criticism.
Page 13: Burkhart alleges defamation, but again: if something is true it is not defamation and everything written about this woman is based on documents that the College of DuPage produced, such as the Architect’s contract she signed (when she is not an architect). Also, she claims that the articles that the Watchdogs wrote damaged her business and kept her from getting opportunities. But, her business doesn’t even have a website. Apparently, the address she lists for her business is an abandoned storefront with no signage in a deserted strip mall in the middle of nowhere. The telephone number listed for Herricane Graphics just rang and rang and didn’t even go to voicemail when I tried calling it to check if it was a real business. How is she getting clients if she has no web or social media presence, her supposed office is what looks like an abandoned storefront, and her phone number just rings and rings with no answer? Maybe if she is not getting clients her business is being hurt because she has not done any of the basic Business-101 things you need to do to actually have a business that attracts clients.
Page 14: More craziness on this page about various people trying to propel that Kathy Hamilton woman to power. This to me reads like someone who thinks her cat or dog is plotting against her and the toaster is preparing to lead a kitchen appliance uprising at dawn. Burkhart thinks she is owed at least a million dollars just for this!
Page 17: Here’s a few pages about tortious interference with a contract. This is rich. So, Burkhart seems to be mad that John Kraft and Kirk Allen used a FOIA request to obtain that Architect’s contract that Burkhart signed (but should have never signed because she is not an architect). Once it was exposed that the College of DuPage and Burkhart were using an AIA Architect contract they should not have been using and the College began an investigation into the impropriety, Burkhart alleges she was damaged because the College stopped paying her. Think about that for a minute. Burkhart actually has the gaul to sue the people who busted her for being involved in this no bid contract scheme because once she was busted she stopped being able to profit from the scheme. Again…only in Illinois!
Page 19: This is the best one….Burkhart sues the Watchdogs for “misappropriation,” claiming she was damaged because they illustrated their articles about her with photos that Burkhart had posted online (and she says they used the photos without her permission!). Again, it’s shocking that a lawyer actually wrote this complaint and filed it. Burkhart is a public official who is involved in a newsworthy scandal; she is not able to control who posts photos of her. The Watchdogs’ use of a photo of her is clearly covered by Fair Use. It is absurd that she would try to make this desperate claim for “misappropriation” (but she doesn’t say anything about asserting a copyright over the photo). The whole issue of Fair Use, copyright, and “misappropriation” is an interesting one that we can explore another day, because much like defamation this is something that people don’t really typically know a lot about and the push right now with the Social Justice Warrior and crybully crowds is for people to claim you need their permission to post something. That’s not true at all. Free speech can’t be curtailed just because a spoiled prima donna does not like being mocked for her bad behavior…and a picture of a public official accompanying an article about that public official’s bad behavior is fair game. This is not Saudi Arabia.
Page 20: Conspiracy! Everyone is plotting against her! My goodness. The author of this paranoid nonsense was someone named “Joshua M. Feagans” from the firm Griffin Williams LLP. He actually signed his name to this foolishness and filed it with the court. That is astonishing to me.
What I hope happens here is that the Watchdogs very aggressively fight this lawsuit and invoke our state’s Citizen Protection Act, which would ultimately make Carla Burkhart pay all of their legal fees that resulted from this SLAPP. I wish that Joshua M. Feagans, whoever he is, would have to face a Rule 11 sanction as well, but I won’t hold my breath for that in Illinois. It’s apparently very rare for an attorney to be punished for filing bogus lawsuits…though I do think the anti-SLAPP measures have some consequences for the plaintiff’s attorneys. It will be interesting to look into that.
Cases like this can drag on for years and this SLAPP was only filed on January 1st, 2016…so it’s only just begun. The timing is great for studying it as a Third Wave SLAPP though, in Pring/Canan fashion, because we can watch the case progress in real time.
I cannot wait to read the response that Kraft & Allen will file and also read their Motion to Dismiss, which should come in the next few months if Burkhart does not withdraw this SLAPP before then.