One DeWitt County official is calling into question the validity of the reporting methods of an area publication.
DeWitt County State's Attorney, Karle Koritz released a statement Tuesday morning questioning information being printed by "DeWitt County Constitution" Editor David Holt. Koritz claims there has been a lot of mis-information printed in recent editions.
Koritz implores the public to attend County Board meetings and see how business is handled, and if what is happening is in line with what is being reported.
Koritz calls out Holt to name his sources, who many times, go unnamed. He questions if Holt has too much control over members of the County Board, or vice versa.
Koritz feels the scrutiny leaders are put under by Holt in his publication is preventing many decent people, whom he feels would be good candidates, from running for public office.
The full statement can be heard, or read below.
DATE: March 4, 2013
OPEN LETTER TO THE CITIZENS OF DEWITT COUNTY
While I was in court on Friday, a friendly colleague placed a copy of DeWitt County’s weekly newspaper on the table before me , pointed to an article on the front page, and stated that she was glad that she didn’t have to put up with that nonsense. My curiosity up, I glanced at the article and read the headline “County board, state’s attorney at odds over employee discipline.” This puzzled me because the full county board has not recently voted to discipline an employee. Reading further, I was surprised to learn that the alleged conflict “was made public when Koritz placed an item on the cancelled meeting’s public agenda to rescind the discipline” issued to two county employees. In fact, I did no such thing. While that item did appear on the agenda for last Thursday’s cancelled meeting, I was certainly not responsible for it. The allegation that I placed that item on the agenda was only the latest example of what could only be a deliberate lie, irresponsible journalism, or false information provided by a member of our Board’s leadership. It may well be all three.
The purpose of this letter though is not to point fingers or fight negativity with more negativity. I’ll take the advice of Ben Franklin to never argue with a man who buys ink by the barrel. No, the purpose of this letter is to encourage our citizens to get involved in the political process to see for themselves how our government actors are behaving at the local level. Come to the board meetings to provide public comment or observe how business gets done. Ask county employees about the issues they face and the morale of their peers in the county building. Demand openness. Demand transparency. Demand that our public officials, myself included, are held accountable for their actions and their leadership. Wait around until 10 o’clock in the evening so you can witness the Board’s most controversial votes take place. Come to the meetings so you can judge for yourselves whether the accusations printed in the county’s weekly newspaper are consistent with what actually happened in the meeting. Ask whether the county board’s leadership has too much influence on our county’s weekly newspaper. Ask whether our county’s weekly newspaper has too much influence on our county board’s leadership. Demand that our weekly newspaper editor actually name the person being quoted in his stories instead of prefixing long quotes with “One county official said…” or “Sources confirmed that…”. Ask yourself where this information is coming from and why the source doesn’t want to be identified. Ask why the newspaper man won’t identify the source. Ask if the phantom source ever existed at all or if it’s just a device for the editor to quote himself anonymously. The first amendment gives the media a lot of power. This is a good thing, but we must expect this power to be used responsibly. Reporters should expose corruption, not manufacture it. The media should seek to promote honest government, not attack honest government officials to sell newspapers and settle personal scores.
I’m often asked what I feel about the attack articles and cartoons written about me in our weekly newspaper. I tell people I can take a punch – even sucker punches. You don’t run for state’s attorney in a small county if you don’t have thick skin or can’t handle honest criticism. That’s what the people deserve from their media – honest criticism, not personal attacks. Among those serving on the county board are some very good, decent, hardworking individuals. There are many more decent and caring people in our communities who would make wonderful leaders, but they won’t run for office because they don’t want to become immersed in the bitterness and negativity. I know because I’ve spoken with many of them. They don’t want their spouse to open up the weekly newspaper and read the venom written about them. They don’t want their children to go to school and have a fellow student comment on the nasty cartoon about their dad. They are afraid that their business might suffer if the weekly newspaper editor disagrees with them on a particular issue. It is for good reason they have these reservations. Over the years, good men and women who ran for local office seeking only to serve their community have been unprofessionally attacked and made the object of ridicule and scorn simply for having the audacity to disagree with a newspaper man. This particular publication has deliberately stirred dissension in Wapella, and it is now doing the same for the county. This is sad, and it’s a poor reflection of our county and our citizens. Outsiders looking in are not seeing the best that we have to offer and we sometimes struggle to see the best in ourselves.
It is for all these reasons that I encourage our citizens to get involved. You can make a difference. I would never tell you what to think, and I’m not asking you to choose sides. I’m just encouraging you to come to board meetings, be informed and make your voice heard. Ask that our citizens, county employees, and public officials are treated with decency and respect. You can make us better. Together, let’s make some good news.