MARSHALL, IL. (ECWd) -
edited to correct name...
If the only mission of a local newspaper was to accurately report what happened during public meetings, without researching the truthfulness of any statements made, the Marshall Advocate did a somewhat decent job on their January 2, 2015, report of the special Marchall City Council meeting to appoint the replacement of former alderman Bev Church.
However, if the responsibility to their readers was to also report on whether or not statements made were truthful, they failed miserably. I suspect it was an attempt at perpetuating the false narrative that she had been qualified all along, until a few months ago - which is a false narrative trying to minimize the magnitude of what just happened.
Here's how they failed their readers:
The Advocate quoted Gary Wallace as stating the following: "...her [Bev Church] qualification for elective office was challenged [when she initially filed for office]. It was determined by legal authorities at the time that she was a qualified elector and had a residence within the ward...The challenge to her qualification was unsuccessful and it was time for the voters to decide..."
Why didn't the Advocate do a small amount of research to determine if her petitions were actually challenged? It does not take that much time to research it, and as a matter of fact, we had that answer the same evening.
Bev Church's qualification for elective office was never challenged [her original petition filing]. It was never determined by legal authorities that she was a qualified elector, and it was never determined that she had a residence in the ward that qualified her for office.
Additionally, what really happened was that people simply complained at the coffee shops and put letters in the newspaper complaining about her residence. That is not an objection nor a challenge to her qualifications for office.
To object to a petition, or challenge a candidate's qualifications, you must follow the Illinois Election Code and file a written petition objection with the local election authority, which will then cause the County Electoral Board to convene and hear the objection(s). The County Electoral Board is the only legal authority with the power, responsibility, and duty to ensure election laws are followed in this case.
This is what a petition objection or "challenge" looks like (click here or click here), and is the only way to object to petitions or qualifications during the time-frame available for petition objections. Short of filing the appropriate papers, within the appropriate time-frame, with the appropriate office, no objection will be heard.
What should readers do?
My opinion is that the Marshall Advocate readers should contact Gary Strohm and tell him that he needs to start doing a little fact checking when reporting to ensure his readers know the statements are truthful, or at least based on truth.