The Pompous Bill Smith

Bill Smith, editor and publisher of the local “Evanston Now online newspaper and I had lengthy discussion today. It started when I commented on his article entitled Library Board Votes To Levy Own Tax.

My comment was summarily deleted because his interpretation of the statue that I cited differed from mine. When I pointed out that he was removing comments trying to start a civilized and informed discussion, he instead replied with a smug retort.

Incidentally, my original comment simply linked to the (quite lengthy) Illinois Local Library Act, and questioned how the unelected library board could decide to levy taxes when the act clearly stated that only the “corporate authorities” (the City Council) could do so, and only via voter referendum.

As Mr. Smith owns and operates the Evanston Now website, he’s free to remove any comments from his website he deems (un)fit, even if doing so is in direct conflict of his own Terms. Of course, I’m free to point out his journalism double-standard here.

Incidentally, I would have very much liked for another citizen “who can read” to “point out to [me] in public what [I was] unable to find in the statute”. After all, my complaint about the Library Board is not that there is a tax to pay for the library (though $366/year seems awfully steep), but that the Library Board has suddenly deemed itself a taxing authority.

What follows is my e-mail discussion with Mr. Smith:

>On Thu, Aug 5, 2010 at 9:44 AM,  wrote:
>>> Hi Geoff,
>>> I've pulled your comments about the library funding dispute because you've
>>> missed the key provision of the statute, from the library board's
>>> perspective.
>>> The statute says at (75 ILCS 5/3-5) that the library board of trustees
>>> gets to specify the amount that the corporate authorities (the city council)
>>> "shall" levy -- the implication being that the city council has no
>>> discretion in the matter -- it must levy whatever the library board tells it
>>> to (within the caps set by the statute).
>>> Evanston for many years has used a different process -- in which the City
>>> Council determines what the library's budget will be and funds that amount
>>> out of the general fund -- not from a separate library fund.
>>> The last time the library board tried to flex its muscles on the issue a
>>> couple decades ago, the then city attorney persuaded them to back down by
>>> threatening to take them to court.
>>> If you'd like to discuss this further, drop me a note at
>>> or give me a call at 847-733-7526.
>>> Thanks,
>>> Bill Smith

On Thu, Aug 5, 2010 at 1:45 PM, Geoff Silver  wrote:
>> You guys moderate civilized comments by removing them?  Seriously?
>> If you're only going to allow comments which are pro-Evanston than what's
>> the point of allowing comment at all?  You disagree with my interpretation
>> and so my comment is removed?
>> Wow, nice yellow journalism there.

On Thu, Aug 5, 2010 at 2:27 PM, Bill Smith  wrote:
>Excuse me ... I was trying to save you the embarrassment of having
>someone who can read point out to you in public what you were unable
>to find in the statute.
>I didn't realize you'd rather be publicly embarrassed. I'll make a
>note of that for next time.
>Bill Smith
>Evanston Now

On Thu, Aug 5, 2010 at 2:35 PM, Geoff Silver  wrote:

No need.  Any website which leaves comments like "The INTERNET and
e-books has replaced librarys. Those that still use the library should
pay for it! The taxes in this city have almost made it unliveable to
want to live here as it is. Give us another reason to sell and move!"
yet summarily "moderates" (removes) comments like "here's a link to
the precise documents" isn't worth the screen it's printed on.  You
can keep your moderation - I'd rather get my news from an unbiased
and trustworthy source.

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