A suburban community is taking on the Illinois Republican Party and state House Republican Leader Jim Durkin.
Campaign pieces on behalf of Durkin have been hitting mailboxes in Burr Ridge and other parts of the 82nd state House District, claiming that Burr Ridge has enacted “four unbalanced budgets,” “hiked property taxes 16 percent” and “raised fees to funnel money for a Chicago bailout.”
Burr Ridge has written a letter to the party and Durkin insisting that they “cease and desist from any further distribution of false information pertaining to the village of Burr Ridge and that you immediately provide a written correction and apology for false information.”
The village’s mayor, Mickey Straub, is challenging Durkin of Western Springs in the spring Republican Primary for his state House seat.
The mailers have linked House Speaker Michael Madigan, a Democrat, with Straub. The pieces have even pegged Straub as Mini-Me, the clone of Dr. Evil, Austin Powers’ nemesis, in the “Austin Powers” movies. Madigan is depicted as Dr. Evil in the mailers.
“I got sick over it,” Straub told the Chronicle, regarding the mailings that have been hitting southwest suburban homes for the past two months. “The lies about the village and me could not be further from the truth.”
Straub said that with all the Madigan talk Durkin could be trying to deflect attention away from himself, noting that the Western Springs Republican was quoted in August 2016 as saying “I agree with Madigan more than I disagree with him.”
The Burr Ridge mayor said it has been “crazy” and “shocking” to see what the Republican Party has done to try to smear his name and that of the village.
“(Durkin) did warn me that he had a machine behind him and that I wouldn’t know what hit me,” if he got into the primary race, Straub said. “He was right about that.”
The village’s cease and desist letter is signed by Village Administrator Doug Pollock and Village Attorney Scott Uhler.
Village Trustee Al Paveza said that the village is demanding a correction and apology for the false information by next week’s Village Board meeting or “further legal action will be deemed necessary.”
Paveza also noted that the letter gives Durkin and the Republican Party the option to attend the Jan. 22 Village Board meeting if they feel any of the facts or assumptions in the village’s letter are incorrect.
Straub called it historic that a village would come out and challenge the Illinois Republican Party and the state House Republican leader.
“That’s got to stop,” Straub said of the smear pieces. “If nothing else comes from my candidacy than to make future politics more honest, I’d be happy.”
The mayor said he is proud of the village trustees and administration for standing up to the party and Durkin.
“It’s very unfortunate. Bad behavior left unchecked will spread,” Straub said. “I hope this is the beginning of a new trend toward more honest and forthright campaigning.”
Straub said there had been no response from the party or Durkin as of late last week.
Paveza said at last week’s Village Board meeting that the “false statements and lies are defaming and damaging to the residents, elected and appointed officials, and staff of the village of Burr Ridge.”
Trustees said they have received numerous complaints and inquiries from Burr Ridge residents regarding the mailers.
“Complaints have come from those who know this information is false; inquiries come from those who are led to believe that our village is not being governed responsibly,” Paveza said.
Trustee Tony Schiappa said that he is “disgusted” with the propaganda that has continued to appear in his mailbox about the village.
“As a trustee for over two years, I know that all of us have to agree that we run this village with a balanced budget,” Schiappa said. “We have not sent any money to Chicago. I believe all of this propaganda is nothing but lies.”
The trustee said he has had to explain to friends, neighbors, residents and people in other villages that Burr Ridge is being well-run in response to the mailers.
“I’m very disappointed in the Illinois Republican Party and in Jim Durkin, who supposedly represents me,” Schiappa said.
— Burr Ridge rebukes Illinois GOP, House leader Durkin . —