Three days ago, I shared news about powerful Illinois Democrats circling their wagons to protect one of their own after a St. Patrick’s Day incident at a Carlinville, Ill., tavern. In the final paragraph of that post, I wrote:
When — not if — more details do surface, this story has potential to become the “Story of the Year” in Illinois. Until then, Dan Riehl offers more about the story and the media coverage it has received to date in a piece published today at BigGovernment.com.
Some much-anticipated details about events that lead to Ken Snider resigning from his posts as chair of the Macoupin County (Ill.) Democrat Party and president of the local school board (a.k.a., “SniderGate”) surfaced in an article and an accompanying editorial published today in the Macoupin County Enquirer-Democrat weekly newspaper.
Mum’s the Word
The article, appearing under the headline, Investigation into Snider’s resignations stonewalled, recapped some of the basic aspects of the controversy before offering the paragraphs below under the subhead, “Mum’s the Word”:
Although the newspaper has questioned many eyewitnesses in an effort to obtain the details of the incident, no one would go on record as to what took place. Sources contacted have repeatedly said they are afraid to come forward with any facts concerning the alleged altercation between Snider and a Blackburn College student.
The newspaper sent its reporter Daniel Winningham to BC last Tuesday to learn more about the incident. Winningham visited the campus around noon and asked several students if they had heard of the incident and whether they had any knowledge of the incident, which occurred at the Anchor Inn.
Shortly after 5:30 p.m., Carlinville police officers entered the newspaper office looking for a person named “Dave.” The police were told there is no “Dave” employed at the newspaper. The officer then made a call, and whoever the officer called could not remember the reporter’s name. A newspaper employee then asked if they meant Dan or Daniel. The officer said, “Ya, that’s who we need to talk to.” When Winningham talked to the officers, they told him that BC had accused him of harassing students, and he was to never step foot on the campus again.
It went on to describe how, it appears, officials at Blackburn College reached the conclusion that the reporter — by asking questions that were sure to make some Illinois Democrats, including Gov. Pat Quinn and Snider, uncomfortable — should be banned from campus.
According to the newspaper account, five hours passed between the time the reporter left the college campus and Ashley Call, a BC student working in the security department, called police about the reporter’s behavior that they described as “harassment.”
The article also included mention of college president Miriam Pride’s call for newspaper reporters to go through security in the future despite having covered numerous on-campus events in the past without incident:
“We resent being accused of something we did not do,” Enquirer~Democrat managing editor Louise Jett said. “No harassment took place. If anything, the college is bullying us by filing false reports and stifling our First Amendment rights.”
Incredibly, both the BC student allegedly involved in the incident and his mother refuse to speak, the newspaper reported. In addition, the city of Carlinville refuses to release the police report despite the fact that the investigation of the incident was handed over to the Illinois State Police, who also refuse to discuss the matter.
Published under the headline, Mum’s the word on St. Patrick’s Day incident, the newspaper’s editorial about the incident began with a simple statement about the issue: Should the newspaper be allowed to question Blackburn students about an incident, which took place off campus? It was followed by an “Our View” statement: Yes. The First Amendment should not be stifled in any circumstances.
Everything else one needs to know about this cover-up can be found in the first two paragraphs of the editorial:
Carlinville made a name for itself last week in both the state and national media and it was not a good one. Ditto for Blackburn College who now can boast it called the police on one of our reporters who was questioning Blackburn students about an incident involving their student and a state police officer. “What is going on in that town,” was the mantra of people unfamiliar with Carlinville, and “Everyone knows what happened but no one is going to talk about it on the record,” was the mantra by those in Carlinville.
While countless media have literally taken a crack at the story, the fact remains that very few facts about the incident have been substantiated by any governing authority and that is where the problem lies and why Carlinville now has an ugly black mark on its reputation of being a community who treats all individuals with dignity and respect.
No doubt, we will learn more about “SniderGate” and the chain of events involved in it. It’s just a matter of time.
UPDATE 4/1/11 at 10:05 a.m. Central: Cross-posted at Andrew Breitbart’s BigGovernment.com.
UPDATE 4/3//11 at 4:41 p.m. Central: Someone VERY close to this story contacted me last night and said this matter is “actually much bigger than the reports are stating.” I expect to be able to report more soon.
UPDATE 4/5/11 at 7:17 a.m. Central: Blackburn College student Bryan Reynolds was interviewed by a reporter from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch about his altercation with Ken Snider. The story that followed seems to confirm our previous reports from Carlinville.
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