The only thing worse than a local newspaper failing to cover something is when they actually do cover something. The Daily Herald’s and Tribune suburban papers’ capacity to miss the real story while making it up as they go along is unparalleled in the realm of normal human comprehension.
To wit, the Beacon-News headline blared, “Donors that gave thousands to Aurora mayor get high-profile projects.”
My first thought was, “Holy crap! Richard Irvin certainly moves fast! He hasn’t even been in office for a year and he’s already managed to rack up those kinds of pay-to-play stats? Perhaps he’s a political prodigy!”
But then I kept reading only to discover the reporter was talking about all of four donors.
According to that poor excuse for a newspaper, Scientel made a $500 contribution to Irvin’s 2017 mayoral bid, and soon after the city council reversed their decision disallowing the company’s relocation to Aurora, they provided another ten grand.
That total actually should’ve been $13,000, but the reporter completely missed a third 2018 $2,500 Scientel contribution. And if you can’t get the basics right, then your entire story is suspect.
Then our scurrilous mayor had the temerity to accept money from the Fox Valley Developers group who won the contract to clean up the blighted former Copley Hospital site on Aurora’s East Side. Those contributions lined up as follows:
- $11,170 from Russel Woerman from 12/16 to 6/17
- $ 500 from Stathis Poulakidas in 2016 (who cares?)
- $14,000 in cash and services from Michael Poulakidas since 2015
The reporter went on to stipulate that “more than $12 million of the city’s over $80 million in payments to vendors went to companies that had donated, would soon donate, or were affiliated with donors to Irvin’s campaign fund…”
That’s exactly when the managing editor should have killed the story.
Fifteen percent? Back when the Beacon-News was a real newspaper, then-reporter Dan Campana and I wrote about former Chairman Karen McConnaughay extorting campaign contributions from 80 percent of Kane County vendors to the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars.
That was a story. But 15 percent and $39,000? Nope!
I can’t tell you how disappointed I am in Hizzoner, because if that’s the best Mayor Irvin can do, I never shoulda helped get him elected. Some of us do have political standards, and please tell me how I’ll ever be able to hold my head high in Cook County again when I have to explain those kind of sad campaign finance numbers.
C’mon! Mike Madigan can pull in 39 grand every five minutes! Pay-to-play my ass! I expect far more from my Illinois elected officials. Didn’t Richard learn anything from Tom Weisner and Rick Guzman?
The other thing that reporter completely missed is the deal with Scientel wasn’t one where they were paid for a service. That firm wanted to come into the city and create 50 jobs, but was initially turned down because the council errantly thought their impending radio tower would interfere with another nearby business.
Once that issue was resolved, the re-vote was a no-brainer. Call me crazy, but don’t we want companies to come into Aurora and create jobs?
To be fair, the reporter paid some heed to the notion that virtually nothing happens in Aurora without the advice and consent of the City Council, but not nearly enough. Having covered the City of Lights for over a dozen years, “rubber stamp” is not an appellation I’d apply to any of their various alderpersons.
The reporter also failed to note the Poulakidas family contributed to former Mayor Tom Weisner’s various campaigns, because smart developers hedge their bets by making everyone happy. There’s certainly no lost love between Irvin and Weisner, either.
C’mon! This ain’t pay-to-play – it’s not even close! And when you run a non-story like this, it damages your credibility to the point where no one will believe you when you finally come up with something worthwhile.
Upon opening this morning’s Beacon-News e-paper, my plan was to kvetch about the headline trumpeting a new restaurant coming to downtown Oswego. But I’ve changed my mind. Reporting on a new eatery is just about that paper’s speed.