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Township receives emails, calls from annoyed residents

Public property used to attack newspaper

Algonquin Township Highway Commissioner Andrew Gasser walks away from the marquee message he posted on Friday.
Algonquin Township Highway Commissioner Andrew Gasser walks away from the marquee message he posted on Friday.

Although a message decrying the Northwest Herald posted on the government marquee of the Algonquin Township Highway Department was removed this weekend, Algonquin Township Supervisor Charles Lutzow said he’s received feedback Monday from annoyed area residents.

“People didn’t think it was proper use,” Lutzow said. “Some people are defining it as political speech and they don’t think it’s a good use of taxpayer dollars.”

On Friday afternoon, Algonquin Township Highway Commissioner Andrew Gasser used the road district’s marquee at 3702 Route 14 to share a message assailing the Northwest Herald: “THE NORTHWORST HERALD IS FAKE NEWS,” the sign read.

“I put it on there because you’re fake news,” Gasser told a Northwest Herald reporter who tracked him down on Friday. “I just don’t want to talk to fake news.”

A lawyer who co-wrote the handbook for township officials in Illinois said the statement was improper use of government property.

“That appears to me to be political speech,” Keri-Lyn Krafthefer, an Ancel Glink attorney who co-authored The Township Officials of Illinois’ “Laws & Duties Handbook,” said Friday.

The message was removed Saturday after local elected officials and area residents criticized Gasser’s move.

“Nothing surprises me anymore,” Lutzow said, adding that he spoke with Gasser after the message was posted but wouldn’t disclose what was said.

Lutzow, who’s “been in politics since I was thin and had hair,” said he’s never seen anything like this.

Lutzow said he respects the newspaper and doesn’t believe it’s “fake news.”

“(The reporter) doesn’t always put what I want in there, but that’s fair,” he said. “I respect the rights of the (media).”

Still, the incident sparked headlines in Chicago and the nation’s capital.

Gasser couldn’t be reached for comment Monday.

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