Has The Examiner’s recent coverage been fair?
(It’s no coincidence)
Because the last Bartlett Village Board meeting’s public comments began this way, “To the local publication that seems bound and determined to tear this town apart, I would ask for you to stop your unfounded attacks,” it’s reasonable to ask if our recent coverage has been fair.
The speaker, above, is Austin Hopkins, and he was one of six residents who expressed similar thoughts, in addition to other notions such as “let’s move on” and “I speak for myself” and “I owe political allegiance to nobody.” Their credibility, along with The Examiner’s, deserves our scrutiny.
First, a thorough review of the public record confirms that The Examiner has been scrupulously accurate in reporting facts relative to Acting Village President Mike Airdo, Village Trustees Eric Shipman and Greg Martin, Hanover Township Supervisor Brian McGuire, and Township Trustees Howard Krick, Sandra Deenihan, and William Burke.
What, though, about our reportage concerning inferences of political alliances, plotted attacks against former Village President Mike Kelly, and power grabs? And are these half-dozen outraged citizens similar in character to the scores of residents who’ve variously expressed outrage and disgust at the above-named politicians? Are these six also just regular people who simply have a different point of view? Or would it be less than honest to make that claim because there is evidence that their political connections suggest a staged, coordinated propaganda effort? Is it self-interest, rather than public interest, that they share as their common motivating characteristic?
Beginning with Hopkins (failed candidate for village office), we know that when McGuire was Hanover Township’s committeeman, Hopkins served on McGuire’s executive committee. When Mike Kelly later became committeeman, Hopkins led an effort to usurp Kelly’s statutory authority and promptly quit the organization when he failed.
Hopkins also provided the musical act at a recent Bartlett Volunteer Fire Department (BVFD) street dance at the Fire Barn, the same Fire Barn McGuire and Shipman have alternately run as a private club and saloon and from which Airdo launched his alleged, alcohol-fueled attack against the Bartlett Police. The same BVFD that likes to give out awards—the highest honor of all going to Shipman once and McGuire twice.
That same high award has also gone to Bob Bucaro, who’s not only been seen loudly cheering for Airdo at village board meetings, but whose son got a patronage job at McGuire’s Hanover Township offices. Former Bartlett Police Chief Dan Palmer is another McGuire patronage hire at the township, a highly paid one at that, and he’s now double-dipping in the state pension system as director of the new township Emergency Management Agency (EMA). This is the same Dan Palmer who let Airdo skate when he verbally assaulted our police officers, and the same Dan Palmer who is also Hopkin’s Facebook friend. (Note: Eric Shipman “likes” Hopkins on Facebook too!)
Coincidentally, McGuire is another Hopkins Facebook friend. And McGuire’s Facebook friends include Greg Martin. And on and on it goes, whereby Martin’s Facebook friends include McGuire’s wife, Heidi, and Airdo’s wife, Lori, and Howard Krick, and Sarina Chopra.
Who’s Sarina Chopra? She’s just another “independent-minded” speaker from the last board meeting, who happens to own the restaurant where these same officials have been known to gather for drinks after board meetings. Who happens to live two houses behind Martin and three houses down from Airdo. Whose restaurant displays Martin’s artwork. More coincidences.
And then there’s Rose Peluso, voice shaking because she was so upset with the negativity in these pages. She lives at 320 Sundance. In yet another incredible coincidence, John McGuire lives just a few doors down at 343 Sundance. That, coincidentally, is Brian McGuire’s father, John McGuire, the same one disparaging The Examiner and Mike Kelly at the previous board meeting, the meeting held simultaneously with the township meeting where his son, Brian, officially launched his latest attack on Mike Kelly.
Speaking of attacks, we are led to yet another “disinterested” and concerned resident, Patricia Kelly. Just like “officer of the court” Airdo, Ms. Kelly (a lawyer too!) has used her law license in an effort to bury the truth. We know her from a letter she sent to The Examiner, seeking to shut down the newspaper’s reporting with threats of legal action on behalf of McGuire, just as Airdo’s law firm threatened. Ms. Kelly is also a big award winner at the BVFD, as are Airdo and John McGuire—who won only one to his son’s two. Of course the BVFD also has a general counsel, and she is none other than the same Patricia Kelly. More coincidences still.
By the way, BVFD’s former treasurer Shipman, former vice president McGuire, and current secretary Bucaro must surely feel elated when the $10,000 check, signed by McGuire as Hanover Township Supervisor, comes from Palmer’s EMA to rent the BVFD garage for just six months. That’s $10,000, twice each year. A neat little conversion of public funds to support the private club up front. Just a few more quick coincidences about tax money and the BVFD: Pam Brandes is the wife of John Brandes, who took McGuire’s spot as BVFD’s 2nd vice president. Rick Nelson is the BVFD’s 1st vice president. Incredibly, both Pam Brandes and Rick Nelson somehow got government positions at Hanover Township.
In the end, all of these “coincidences” stack a bit high, and it seems reasonable for The Examiner to surmise that taxpayer money just might be feeding a political machine that provides patronage jobs and public funds for loyalists and political power for those ruthless enough to use and abuse that power. Understandably, the drivers and beneficiaries of such a corrupted system would like for The Examiner to move on and the voters to forget.
We certainly understand why Hopkins wants to move on. Surely, he would rather The Examiner not report that a search of public records revealed his multiple emails to his friend Airdo’s law firm, asking favors ranging from painting curbs in his neighborhood to fixing his streetlight to asking if the village could help get more parking spaces in his subdivision. (Of course, Airdo dutifully tasked the village administrator with granting these favors.)
And we certainly understand why Airdo might urge Hopkins, and others who seem to benefit from his friendship, to come to the board meeting and create a perception that people are fed up with reading about the official misconduct reported in The Examiner. Airdo surely wouldn’t want The Examiner to write, for example, about another pestering email he sent to the village administrator, asking her to “check the parkway trees at 304 Jessica Parkway” which “are in urgent need of trimming.” After all, that’s Brian McGuire’s house. Just one more coincidence.
The foregoing merely scratches the surface of what is known about these people. More, to be sure, has been and will continue to be found in the public record, including campaign contributions, bill lists, police files, and tax documents.
The Examiner has by all indications been faithful to the truth. It owes the community the truth. Though painful now, that truth will, in the long run, be critical to the restoration of integrity and decency at Village Hall and Hanover Township.