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Published On: Sun, Apr 23rd, 2017

Carlinville conflict sparks media war of words

CARLINVILLE — The ongoing conflict in the City of Carlinville is open to interpretation, based on one’s point of view. On one side, watchdog group Edgar County Watchdogs has been attacking Carlinville mayor Deanna Demuzio and interfering in elections. On the other (and likely true) side, the student newspaper at Blackburn College is a biased publication doing a “hatchet job” on a group acting in the best interest of the general public.

This conflict, which has led to a media battle over Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests made by the watchdog group and the city’s denial of those requests

Gary Lowder, a contributing writer for The ‘Burnian, made allegations in his article that the Watchdogs “attacked” Demuzio and was under investigation for interfering in the mayoral election.

In response, the Watchdogs responded on its Illinois Leaks website that Lowder failed to reveal that the mayor was on the board of trustees for Blackburn College or that they had followed proper legal channels to request copies of agreements between the city and the college.

The largest portion of this dispute related to the FOIA request was its city attorney claiming the request was a “commercial request” and demanded from Watchdogs co-founder John Kraft pay $200 for the city to produce the requested records. (Editor’s Note: It is illegal for a municipality to request any monies for FOIA requests and can be brought up on charges with the Attorney General.)

Edgar County Watchdogs wrote about the commercial designation and the city attorney’s cost to Carlinville ($481), adding that it was a waste of taxpayer money. Kraft filed a complaint with the Attorney General’s public access counselor regarding the denial of the request, arguing their point that they are not subject to the commercial designation.

The article from The ‘Burnian also described what they claimed to be an illegitimate citizen’s arrest made by Kraft during a Clark County Park District meeting after the board refused to allow public comments. (Editor’s Note: It is illegal for a publicly elected body to refuse public comments during a meeting, as it is in violation of the Illinois Open Meetings Act.) The Watchdogs argued that the incident prompted a legal firm and other organizations to include the pertinent law regarding public speech in training sessions.

“If it [the arrest] was not legitimate, why would it be taught to public bodies?” the Watchdogs posted.

About the Author

- Colby Applegate is an occasional contributor to Heartland Newsfeed. Applegate, under his pen name CJ Blaze, is a former contributing writer to New Age Wrestling and is a contributing writer to Wrestling News World and TNAMecca. Applegate is currently attending Full Sail University in Winter Park, FL pursuing a degree in creative writing.

Carlinville conflict sparks media war of words