Lisle's election campaign has been marked by anonymous information. In addition to recent anonymous e-mail blasts, anonymous government criticism has been the subject of a blog called For Clean Government in Lisle.
The blog, created on Blogger.com in January with 30 posts as of March 23, reflects a negative view of Lisle’s leaders. The author is unknown and a disclaimer on the site makes no warranties as to the accuracy or completeness of the information. While some of the claims are backed with village documents, others don't offer supporting data.
Patch checked some of the claims that were backed with official sources:
1) In many entries, the blogger discusses how Lisle has engaged in deficit spending over the last eight years. The information comes from page 135 of the Lisle Ten Year Financial Report. The information checks out as accurate.
2) The blogger also often discusses rising property tax levies have risen in the last 10 years. This also checks out on the Lisle Ten Year Financial Report on page 139. The levy has increased from $2.909 million in 2000 to $4.12 million in 2009.
3) The blogger states that Navistar purchased the former Lucent property for $34 million, far below the fair market value of the property. This is true because Navistar received government incentives to come to Lisle through a tax-increment financing district. ABC 7's John Garcia reports that Navistar is getting the property for less than 10 cents on the dollar.
How other others responding to the posts?
Lisle Mayor Joseph Broda thinks the anonymous blog posts are personally attacking him and the trustees.
“It is propaganda,” Broda said. “They’re twisting the truth around and making numbers look like what they want to look like. There’s no name assigned to it. I don’t pay attention to any of the blogs.”
Broda said concerned citizens should to come to board meetings and to Coffee with the Mayor as a more effective way to get their voices heard.
“If they have issues, they could confront us at the board meetings,” Broda said. “Our meetings are open and public. Nothing is hidden. We have policies and rules that we have to deal with because our meetings are basically structured and we try to conduct them in a civil manner without a free-for-all. Everyone has an opportunity to speak at our meetings and talk about whatever they want.”
Jeff Knezovich of Lisle Township Democratic Organization said the blog seems to represent the opinions of a disgruntled individual, but the writer is not addressing problems correctly.
“My position is the website needs to identify who the authors are or the organization it represents,” Knezovich said. “Everybody has a right to say whatever they want, but we also have a right as citizens to respond to those claims. It’s difficult to respond to those allegations that appear on the website when there is no one to respond to.”
Knezovich said without an author’s name attached, the blog’s information is discredited and could not be used in presentations.
“In most areas, it would probably considered nonsense,” Knezovich said.
Trustee Mark Boyle said he and the Village Board make sure the governmental process is open and transparent. He said there were hours of public hearings for Navistar. After viewing the blog, Boyle said it is not credible.
“For Navistar, we did not have anything suggesting that we are stopping discussion,” Boyle said. “We were proponents that the process stayed open. There is a spin going on that is not true. With electronic media these days, for people to not turn around and have an open discussion on who or what they are, I don’t put any credence in it at all. Some of the articles in there are a downright lie. It’s sad that somebody would distort things they way they do.”
Trustee candidate Gary Ledvora has never looked at the blog, but doesn't like anonymous writers who are not being accountable.
“When I ran for mayor, I got some mean comments like that,” Ledvora said. “There are some people that are very spiteful out there. We all have opinions, but at the same time, you want to be very professional in your opinion, appearance and commentary.”
Trustee Cathy Cawiezel said without official documentation and authorship, she as an accountant could not use financial statistics from the blog.
“I have no problem with someone who wants to have constructive criticism,” Cawiezel said. “I think that is healthy. But if you don’t put your name to it, how strongly can you feel about something if you’re not willing to put your name out there?”
Julie Schnell of Citizens for Healthy Development said the blog has a group or person who is really angry and feels they did not get their voices heard. She said the blog is used to get information out.
“Some of the things that I read that I’m familiar with seemed really factual,” Schnell said. “I didn’t go and fact-check it. I think you are going to see more of this unless Lisle residents are willing to open up and begin listening to organizations, groups, individuals and neighbors. People feel they need to be heard.”
So why continue to remain nameless? Schnell thinks a person or group would post anonymously because repercussions could occur if the poster(s) are affiliated in a job or group with a Lisle representative.
“This is the only way they feel they would prevent receiving potential backlash,” Schnell said.