Illinois Leaks Defends Andrew Gasser’s Use of Highway Department Sign to Label Northwest Herald “Fake News”

Reprinted with permission from Illinois Leaks:

Algonquin Township – Circus Show hits new high with NWH front page “fake news” sign coverage.

McHenry Co. (ECWd) –Having been fortunate enough to travel all over the world while in the service I learned the value of our system of government, a Constitutional Republic.One that has the most protected rights to ensure we stay free, our right to free speech.

Laws have meaning, as does their application.

Over the last 7 years, we have learned more about our local government laws and the proper application than I ever imagined.

We have also learned how rabid people can become when they “think” they know the law and how it is applied.

Some of those same people are writing stories with headlines containing just enough truth to insight the ignorant into believing a false narrative, thus the fake news label gets applied.

Sadly, when a headline along with a short snippet of the NWH [Northwest Herald] article is in black bold 24 font print, the focus is on that headline, not the gray on white background 18 font that discloses a slightly more accurate message.    

Algonquin Township highway commissioner spends money on ‘fake news’ attack”

“Highway commissioner uses political dollars to spread message on Facebook”

Andrew Gasser put this Northwest Herald”Fake New? logo on his Facebook Page.

Yes, the Algonquin Township Road Commissioner used his campaign money on Facebook to push a narrative of his choosing.

It’s called free speech, not news.

Sadly, the primary headline led people to believe he used public money as the paper used his official title that led them to believe something not true.

In an effort to bolster the reporter’s clear bias against this Road Commissioner (I think that bias goes both ways), he reached out to Keri-Lyn Krafthefer, a partner in the Ancel Glink law firm, for comment.

According to the NWH, this is what she had to say:

“Keri-Lyn Krafthefer, a lawyer who co-wrote the handbook for Illinois’ township officials, even characterized Gasser’s message on the marquee as “political speech” and said Friday that his antics constituted an improper and illegal use of government property.”

Andrew Gasser

“Characterized” Gasser’s message on the marquee as “political speech” and that his antics constituted an improper and illegal use of government property.

According to all the research, we have come up with since the fake news rally began, political speech includes discussions of candidates, the form of government, how government should be run, and any other discussion of the political process.

Although there is a ton of information available, this link appears to be about as concise as it gets.

The message clearly was not political speech as it was not directed in any way to anything government related.

We find it hard to call it anything other than one man’s opinion, which he is entitled to under his first amendment rights.

The reporter goes on to claim the attorney said the antics constituted an “improper and illegal” use of government property, although neither the reporter or the attorney cite any law to support such a claim.

It appears based on the attorney’s claimed comments that she may not have been made aware of all the facts related to the sign and its use.

Not an uncommon tactic when you want a certain opinion to support a narrative.

It is our understanding the sign in question can be used by any member of the public, which the Highway Commissioner is, in fact, a member of the public.

“The Township does not necessarily support or endorse the content of the messages on the sign.  The Township offers the sign as a public forum to be used by the community.”

So the question we have, why was it illegal for Andrew Gasser to post his message on a sign that is there as a public forum to be used by the community?

Considering the flurry of articles from the NWH after the message was put up, it would appear the content of the message is more of a concern than anything else as we have never seen another article on “sign content” on this sign prior to this event.

Someone didn’t like the message.

Right about now those who took issue with the use of the sign are screaming he is a public official getting paid by our tax dollars.

Yep, he sure is, and the message on the sign was put up after his normal workday, on his own time.

Why is that important?  

If a member of the public wants to use the sign for their message, the taxpayers are paying for it each and every time because a person on the clock is the one posting the message, but to date, we have not heard a peep about that being a concern nor any claims it would be illegal.

The attorney is also quoted as saying:

“This speech is not government speech,” said Krafthefer, an Ancel Glink attorney who co-authored the “Township Officials of Illinois Laws and Duties Handbook.” “That’s an improper use of public property.”

Nope, it is not government speech and according to the sign-up sheet it does not have to be.

It says it is a public forum for the community to use.

In fact, considering all the hysteria taking place and the media frenzy over the message, I would say the sign’s purpose as a public forum has performed as expected.

We are not sure how the use of the sign constitutes an improper use of public property as claimed by the attorney unless they are taking the position no member of the public can use the sign and only Township Road District information can be put on it.

We suspect the attorney was not made aware of the sign-up sheet and its language that clearly points to this sign being there for the public to be used as a public forum.

Do we need to define public forum?

Might do some well to read some info on that, along with the case law it points to found at this link.

The NWH reporter wanted to know why Gasser used the sign to criticize the “free press”.

I think the answer to his question was in the message on the sign?

On the Algonquin Township Highway Department Route 14 sign appears the message, “The Northworst Herald Is Fake News.” About 60,000 vehicles a day drive past the Township complex.

May we suggest that since the sign was there for the use by the public as a public forum and he has the same constitutional rights as every other member of the community that wants to post a message?

Are his free speech rights any less important than any other member of the community?

And yes, he has free speech rights in this case as he was not on the clock.

The social media legal experts have tried to make the argument that since he is a salaried official he used public funds to put up the message.

As we pointed out before, he was not on the clock and if such a position is to be applied, each and every time a citizen gets their message installed, that too would be the use of taxpayer funds to post a private message.

Speach is our most protected right and to see the level of ignorance on the proper application of that right shows us how bad our civic’s education is in this state.

If the use of a government-owned sign to express an opinion is illegal, then why isn’t the use of a government podium illegal where similar personal opinions are expressed routinely in this country?

We urge everyone to take a deep breath and first take some time to read up on our First Amendment rights and how they apply to our freedom.

What I expect to happen now is since the public is properly informed that the sign is there for the free use by the public, the extremist, who also have free speech rights, will come out in droves to have their message put up on the sign.

Since we as a society have decayed to a point where we call free speech a crime, I suspect the sign will become a thing of the past as the extremist will attempt to demand any all messages be posted.

If it stays, may we suggest a stronger set of rules to apply to its use because, without it, this will become a free-for-all dog-pile.

It does appear that the message posted has stirred a public interest that may well be a good thing.

There is nothing better than a debate on the issues and from reading the comments being posted, a lot of people have taken issue with the local reporting as well as the elected official’s actions.

Several things can come from this event.

  1. If the reporting is lacking, people will cancel their subscriptions.
  2. If that happens, and the paper can see the problem, they fix it and the people will be better informed.
  3. If the majority agree with the elected official’s actions, he could get reelected.
  4. If they don’t, they vote him out.

That is how a Constitutional Republic works!

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Illinois Leaks Defends Andrew Gasser’s Use of Highway Department Sign to Label Northwest Herald “Fake News” — 20 Comments

  1. I beg to differ.

    First of all, I should point out that I fully share the sentiments expressed on the sign and am generally supportive of Andrew’s efforts as Road Commissioner to drain the AL Township swamp, which sorely needs draining.

    He has understandably encountered a lot of opposition not the least of which is from the NWH which has shamed itself before the journalistic profession for its blatantly biased coverage.

    That being said, it is an improper use of government property.


  2. Yes indeed !

    Government property should ONLY be used to promote lies and deceit against it’s political enemies
    such as that found within the pages of the NorthWorst Urinal, who’s reach
    far exceeds that of said sign.

    A DEMOCRAT told me so.

  3. This is a interesting counter to our bias pals the Dogs:

    LibertyLost on 08/19/2018 at 7:48 pm said:

    First, this has NOTHING to do with Mr. Gasser’s right to free speech. The First Amendment guarantees that, for the most part, the government cannot punish or limit speech. The First Amendment does not impact the ability of private citizens and organizations to punish or limit speech. This is why it’s permissible for a private employer to fire an employee for engaging in speech the employer disapproves of; private employers have the right to manage their employees as they see fit.
    HOWEVER, the First Amendment doctrine becomes complicated when the government is the employer. First of all, government employees are only protected by the First Amendment when they are speaking as private citizens. If their speech is part of their official job duties, then they can be fired or disciplined for it. (Garcetti v. Ceballos; (Pickering v. Bd. Ed.). Here, Mr. Gasser, in his official capacity as a Highway Whatever, is speaking as a government employee, not as a private citizen (only in his official capacity may he change the sign).
    Furthermore, the sign outside the Highway is either A. a limited purpose public forum – where the government opens a non-public forum to speech whereby we ask 1) for what purposes did the governmental entity intend to allow expressive use of the forum; and 2) does the expression at issue fit within the purpose so designated?(the government, in dedicating the forum for expressive purposes–that is, in defining the forum–may adopt reasonable limitations on who may use the forum.) OR B. Government Speech where the government itself is speaking (Walker v. Texas Division, Sons of Confederate Veterans). In the latter, the government is unrestrained in messaging (e.g. allowable types of license plates; choosing to promote the benefit of vegetables, etc.).
    Here, the former is clearly teh correct analysis. The government has opened the forum up to certain speech. In defining the forum the government may adopt reasonable limitations on who may use the forum. e.g. Non-profits may put up messages, but not for profit companies. Also, it is under no First Amendment obligation to have opened a limited forum, but once it does, it must allow all within that designation to advertise or use the forum equally. A public university student center meeting rooms found to be a limited public forum in Widmar v Vincent could be restricted in their use to students, but the university could notallow students to meet for academic, social, or political purposes, but not for religious purposes.
    Here: the sign outside the building often contains myriad messages such as when recycling will be collected; when certain non-profits are selling their wares, and when the library may have a book sale. If it allows the Jaycees to advertise christmas tree sales, it must also allow a non-profit selling say, matzoah to advertise.
    However, viewpoint cannot be limited once open. Here, Gasser used government messagig to promote an overtly right wing partisan message while acting as a government employee. First, he can most certainly be fired for doing so. Second, if the forum is open to political messages (it isn’t), it must be open to all political messages. The sign could say “Remember to vote,” but not “vote repubican.” If indeed the forum is open to politics, the democrats or communists or socialists would be free to use the board to express their messaging.
    Either Mr. Gasser should be disciplined for his unlawful use of the sign, or the sign should be open to all who wish to express a political opinion.
    Frankly, this is ridiculous partisanship and stupidity taken to new heights… and it’s shameful…

  4. Calling even more attention to the dysfunction there is probably not the best way to resolve anything.

    Anybody else notice that the letters on the sign could be re-arranged to “ANDREW IS A RETARD”?

    Just asking.

  5. A tortured defense of an indefensible Fake News sign by a Fake News outlet.

    So very meta. Bravo.

  6. Blah, blah blah, yes it is free speech, yes he does have that right.

    He also has the right to be an idiot which he proves time and time again.

    But is this the kind of person we want as an elected official, childish and immature?

    The point isn’t about legality and rights, it’s about behavior.

    The SA said Millers malfeasance wasn’t worth prosecuting, and was approved by the board, didn’t make it right.

    Gassers behavior may be legal but that does not make his behavior right.

  7. Thumbs up to JustinFun

    Thumbs down to all of you crying foul to Gasser while the Millers took and spent our tax money, a lot of it, and you all think that’s OK.

    “”””””shaking my head

  8. Gasser is Great!

    iller is Predatory!

    NorthWest Herald is Irrelevant!

    This blog is startling.

  9. Pakorny, the answer is to move beyond townships.

    Illinois is imploding anyway, so what difference does it really make?

    At least Gasser did call out the baloney-paper and the terrible State’s Attorney Killarney

  10. Here’s an anagram of “Northwest Herald fake news”: Franks’ wholehearted Newts … which what the NWH editorial board really should call itself.

    They are, after all, smallish reptiles who dwell in slime, hoping for a lucky fly or maggot meal they won’t have to expend much energy or effort to acquire.

    They also don’t like light shined on their drab doings, and carry certain diseases.

    And they certainly can’t handle sarcasm.

    IMHO, things have greatly improved in Alg. Tnshp under Gasser.

    I just wish we could replace the childish clerk and a trustee or 2.

  11. Every time I think this circus can’t stink any more of elephant poop, the feces pile higher.

  12. BibleBoy

    At what cost is Gasser great.

    He chases a white whale while spending exorbitant legal fees. T

    he SA already said he won’t prosecute, yet the big pink idiot is still embroiled in numerous lawsuits that are costing hundreds of thousands of dollars, and he behaves like a petulant child.

    Miller is gone thank god, but all we did was trade problems.

    The Algonquin Township is run by clowns and Gasser is the biggest Bozo.

  13. This just verifies that Kirk and Andrew work together and turns an eye when he does wrong. Bravo.

  14. We did not trade problems.

    We are in the midst of a huge re-write of the purchasing policy at the Highway Department.

    It will be the model for the state.

    We have so many iron in the fire doing so many good things.

    It is a shame the northworst herald refuses to focus on anything good.

    The head editor even said as much on facebook.

    I will never talk to them.

    They misrepresent, twist, distort, and conjure #FAKENEWS.

    We finish paving the Venetian Gardens Island this week.

    The bridge is finished off and we have a dedication ceremony with the neighbors.

    We continue to slaughter dead trees.

    We think we may finally have a solution for 407.

    The senior bus is running on time.

    Recycling is about to get a BIG BUMP.

    Actually kind of shocked on this because we made recycling so much better.

    I’m excited for Wednesday.

    Don’t believe the #FAKENEWS from komenda and the northworst.

    If anyone has any concerns about the bus, recycling, or our budget give us a call and set up an appointment.

    We would love to have you and show you all the great things we do.

    Be Blessed,

  15. To the big pink idiot.

    Yes we did trade problems.

    No one is questioning your job dealing with road issues.

    No one questioned Bob Miller on road issues.

    It is the ancillary BS that is being dealt with.

    Your childish behavior is not conducive to someone in your position.

    You brag about the savings on taxes but what savings.

    You buy pink trucks we don’t need, you are embroiled in numerous lawsuits that are costing exorbitant legal fees chasing your white whale.

    You talk of past nepotism and then make a patronage hire.

    I guess being the hostess at a chinese restaurant qualifies for deputy road commissioner.

    You talk of integrity and then exhibit none.

    Is it integrity that made you throw some of the programs back at the township?

    What about the spirit of cooperation that existed previously?

    Did integrity make you do it?

    Political payback is that part of the integrity plan you claim?

    The only thing Algonquin township is the model of is as a laughing stock and you are the chief clown.

  16. “Mr. Gasser, in his official capacity as a Highway Whatever, is speaking as a government employee, not as a private citizen (only in his official capacity may he change the sign).”

    This is where the conversation needs to begin as there are great points here but also allegations and assumptions that are simply inaccurate.

    It would be great if we could actually have a discussion without all the claims of partisan/political/right wing claims.
    The question is simple, and so far, unanswered except by us.

    Does Gasser have a right to use the sign as any other citizen?

    We believe the answer is yes.

    So how does his message get placed on the sign?

    Considering he is the official in charge of the sign, he would have to be the one to do it.

    So one could argue that yes, he changed the sign in his official capacity as the Highway Commissioner but considering he took steps to ensure it was done when he was off the clock to avoid the claims he got paid to do it, we find the official capacity argument weak at best.

    Lets’ assume for discussion that he was paid to change the sign.

    It brings us back to the question, how does he get his message installed on the sign?

    Not allowing him to have his message posted because he is in charge would violate his right to post a message just like others.

    In fact, to hang the hat on who has authority to change the sign becomes very problematic from a 14th amendment standpoint.

    Why does a person authorized to change a sign lose his right to post a message of his personal making?

    How is that equal protection under the law?

    To argue that since he is the one with the power to change it means he has no constitutional protection to post a message of his making is silly.

    There has to be a mechanism for him to post a message, just like anyone else.

    I fully agree with this statement “government employees are only protected by the First Amendment when they are speaking as private citizens.”, which is why I said this in the article.

    “And yes, he has free speech rights in this case as he was not on the clock.”

    It is very clear an accurate argument is made for the changing of the sign is done in an official capacity, however, the changing of the sign message does not mean by default the message is that of a government employee.

    We totally DISAGREE with the claim the message was to: “promote an overtly right-wing partisan message while acting as a government employee. First, he can most certainly be fired for doing so.”

    The sign-up sheet for the sign is clear, The Township does not necessarily support or endorse the content of the messages on the sign.

    I have heard from people on both sides of the political aisle and they saw no politics in the message.

    Political speech is well defined and this was not political speech, let alone a “right-wing partisan message”.

    The changing of the sign does not mean by default the message is that of a government employee.

    Trying to take that position strips a person in that position from EVER posting ANY message and fails on the most basic legal analysis.

    He cannot be fired for doing so unless you take the position losing the election is being fired by the voters.

    Like I said in our article, I believe his actions will lead to others wanting to post their message and is going to lead to future problems.

    Although I agree with the message, I think placing it on the public forum sign is going to be problematic for future messages as people will want to use it to voice their opinion about political figures, which is, in fact, political speech and not allowed on the sign.

    So my question still stands for anyone to answer, how does an elected official that is in charge of a sign for public use as a public forum get his personal message posted?

  17. So my question still stands for anyone to answer, how does an elected official that is in charge of a sign for public use as a public forum get his personal message posted?

    Because he’s the petty functionary with the clipboard.

  18. So my question still stands for anyone to answer, how does an elected official that is in charge of a sign for public use as a public forum get his personal message posted?

    Because he is the petty functionary with the clipboard.

  19. We have all seen numerous instances of a sign in front of a public or government building such as a school, police station, courthouse. The messages therein are about events in the building or complex, scheduled events, public safety, etc. These never contain an opinion or rant from an individual that works in the building as that would be highly inappropriate or perhaps even illegal. There are proper ways to express opinions such as a letter to the editor of a newspaper, commenting on an internet opinion site, getting a permit to speak in a place such as city park.

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