“The BGA is a non-profit non-partisan government watchdog that investigates public agencies and public employees, and often reveals findings in news stories.”
“A racially charged blog that reportedly has wide readership among Chicago police officers ceased operations this week less than an hour after the Better Government Association visited a detective to ask whether he was the anonymous operator of the web site.” (Better Government Association)
CHICAGO, September 5, 2012 — The Better Government Association (BGA) of Chicago does not know the difference between public employees and people who are on disability leave. Those on disability leave are not public employees. They are not on the city payroll or time clock.
They are paid out of pension funds. They are civilians just like retirees.
The BGA investigated a disabled Chicago Police “detective”, a civilian, for allegedly running a distasteful blog called Shaved Longc—k. The blog was notorious for publishing stories about crime, the city, and the police department using derogatory, inflammatory, and sometimes, racist language, especially in its headlines.
The site is also notorious for violations of copyrights. This writer was forced to send them cease and desist emails due to their cavalier attitude towards copyrighted material.
The BGA associated the disabled Chicago Police detective to the blog because the blog’s P.O. Box was registered to him. They knew he was on a disability pension. They knew he was no longer a “public employee”. They knowingly investigated a private citizen claiming he was a public employee or the equivalent of one.
BGA claims they were also interested if he or any others were publishing the blog while working. Pigs fly and hell just froze over.
The BGA is getting to be as dangerous and reckless as the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC). They believe they can willfully investigate whom ever they please for whatever they want. The BGA can publish their investigations under their by-lines in the Chicago Sun Times, as BGA’s Robert Herguth did with this story. Herguth, the “Editor of Investigations”, is a former Sun Times reporter and editor. The headline bragged about the blog being shut down.
Like the SPLC, the BGA resorted to smear campaigns against private citizens whose expression or speech they disagree with. What next? Will they create a blacklist like SPLC? Will they falsely accuse people of opinion based “crimes”? Will they try to stifle any and all free speech they do not agree with or find distasteful?
This particular blog was distasteful, extremely so at times. But, free speech is free speech. There is no hate speech or racist speech. There is only free speech, as long as it does not advocate imminent violence, murder, mayhem, other criminal behavior, or violations of civil rights. They key word is imminent.
Since former journalists run BGA, they should know that. They should know better. They do and apparently do not care. Their donors should be appalled at the BGA’s lack of knowledge concerning freedom of speech, expression, and the press. They should be worried that the BGA does not know the difference between a public employee and a disabled person on a pension. They should be appalled at the total lack of ethics practiced.
The accused “detective” denied publishing the blog despite the evidence of the P.O. Box. Within an hour after the BGA visited his home the blog was taken down along with all of its archives. That’s right BGA Junior G-Men visited a private citizen’s home in furtherance of their so-called investigation of public employees.
Andy Shaw, a former news presenter for Chicago’s ABC television affiliate, WLS, currently runs the BGA. Shaw’s daughter worked for President Obama in the White House. His son in law is television news presenter Chris Hayes. Hayes does not feel comfortable calling military personnel who died in combat “heroes.”
It cannot be stressed enough. The person the BGA investigated for running this blog was on disability leave from the police department. He was a private citizen and they knew it ahead of time. As long as he is on disability he is not a public employee. He is not paid by the City of Chicago. He is not a detective or a police officer.
What right does the BGA, whose stated mission and purpose is to “investigate public employees”, have to go after a private citizen? What right do they have to question free speech no matter how distasteful? The BGA has some explaining to do.
Groups like the BGA, Southern Poverty Law Center, other non-profit organizations, and the media itself are continually challenging people’s rights under the First Amendment. Everyone who expresses, speaks, or publishes is in danger of being silenced.
The only reason the BGA went after the disabled city worker was to shut down the blog. They should just be honest and admit it. They succeeded. The rest of their so-called reasoning was filler in a despicable feeble attempt to justify their actions against a private citizen.
The BGA is another non-profit organization that descended into the realm of stifling freedom of speech, expression, and the press.
That is way more distasteful and dangerous than any blog publishing racist, derogatory, insensitive, or distasteful material.
Peter V. Bella is a retired Chicago Police Officer, freelance journalist and photojournalist, cook, and raconteur. He likes to be the irreverent sharp stick that pokes, prods, and annoys. His opinions are his and his alone. Mr. Bella is a member of the National Press Photographers Association and the Society for Professional Journalists.
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