Two years ago, the Oak Lawn Leaf debuted. In that short time, we have over 2,300 “Facebook Likes”, thousands of comments of appreciation and a few growls and evil eyes from politicians who prefer we only write “positive news”. A recent village meeting brought out the worst in Village Manager Larry Deetjen as he admonished the residents of Oak Lawn to ignore what they read on media websites and blogs.
While one can never be sure of what Mr. Deetjen is saying, we understood, as we are sure most media members understood, he doesn’t like public scrutiny. He would prefer that we didn’t write about the village being told by the Attorney General of Illinois that it violated the Freedom of Information Act. We understand that he didn’t like it when we reported that he crashed a village vehicle in Palos Park one night, left the scene, failed to call the police and only spoke with officers by phone hours after the crash.
We believe that our adherence to telling the local story has been the reason we’ve grown in popularity. We want to thank the organizations such as the Oak Lawn Library, Oak Lawn Community High School District 229, the Oak Lawn Park District, the Johnson-Phelps VFW, Oak Lawn Hometown School District 123, Moraine Valley Community College, Worth Township and our wonderful readers for providing tips, news stories and news releases. We’ve tried to split the stories with over forty percent centered on these organizations and just under sixty percent centered on the village.
It is amusing to hear some critics who can’t argue about the truthfulness of the article as they try to make any story into an attack on the village itself, rather than the decision or the issue at hand. One of the more aggravating complaints from critics has been that our news reports of ineptitude, corruption, insider dealing, secret deals and developer give-aways prove that we hate Oak Lawn. It is a silly argument. We love Oak Lawn. In fact, we love Oak Lawn so much that we want to end corruption, insider dealing, secret deals, and give-aways to those that are “connected” to the leaders of Oak Lawn.
Allies of the administration have taken to Facebook to attack the Oak Lawn Leaf. Time after time they use the talking point that we don’t say anything positive and that we hate Oak Lawn. Debating issues and correcting wrongs does not make someone “anti” anything.
The concerted effort to attack anyone that disagrees with the administration is childish. Yet, it continues with the Mayor’s appointees making public comments attacking Village Trustees, residents, and the Oak Lawn Leaf. Apparently that type of negativity is encouraged.
Some of these appointees or officials have even gone so far as to demand that we write certain stories or add irrelevant information to the story. The bottom line, ladies and gentlemen, is that the critics want to tell us how to do our jobs. That’s not how it works. The media’s job is to act as a watchdog and not a lapdog. When our officials do well, we are happy to report that story. But when they don’t do the right thing, or make questionable decisions, we will be around to let you know.
In the last twelve months, we’ve written a story everyday. Here are ten of our more popular stories (click on the link to read the story):
We will keep reporting and we hope you keep reading, providing us tips, and forwarding our stories, and providing us constructive criticism. Together, we will all spread our love of Oak Lawn.