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  • Written by Bob Rakow

Blogging OL mayor not responding to attacks from anonymous-run blog

  Twenty four hours after Oak Lawn Mayor Sandra Bury went live with her blog, another website highly critical of her administration alleged that the mayor’s site may violate state ethics laws.
  Mayor’s Bury’s Blog launched on Nov. 13, though a version of the site has been around for about one month. The site had approximately 25 entries as of Nov. 20.
  The blog posts cover a variety of topics, including new businesses in the village, Bury’s appearances at schools and community events, the village’s efforts to improve transparency and reports on the mayor’s visits to Springfield and Washington, D.C., to lobby on behalf of the village.
  Critics of the blog, who post anonymously on a website that was created shortly after Bury was elected, say the mayor’s blog is political and violates state ethics laws because it includes the village hall address and phone number.
  According to a recent post: “We do mind when someone runs on a platform of good government and transparency and then decides that she can use the village phone system, village employees and the village mailing address for her political blog. It creates all kinds of ethical and legal problems for the mayor and her supporters.”
  “I really have nothing to say about what they have to say,” Bury said.
  She added that her blog includes the village hall phone number and address to make it convenient for residents to reach out to her. She said the blog is not a campaign site or a “call to action.”
  “I’m not running for office,” she said. “We are going to be ethical, and we are going to move forward.”
  The blog is hosted by WordPress and Bury paid $9 for the domain name, she said.
  Bury said she’s attempting to fill the “void of information” that exists in the community. Plans call for her blog to include a link to the redesigned village website, which is expected to launch before the end of the year, she said. She also wants to “energize Channel 4,” the village’s local access cable channel, to cover more village events than board meetings.
  Former Mayor Dave Heilmann, who Bury defeated in April, admitted in June that he founded the anonymous site critical of Bury but did not have time to administer it. The blog does not include contact information and its stories do not include bylines. The site has run about 30 stories, many within the past few weeks.
  The site contended in a recent post that Bury uses her blog to praise her allies and attack her opponents. It goes on to say that blog ostracizes trustees who are not aligned with the mayor.
  Critics also contend that the mayor’s blog “has several political references to the village, including attacks against all previous mayors and current Trustee Robert Streit.”
  No previous Oak Lawn mayors were referenced in any of Bury’s blog posts, but an Oct. 27 post titled, “No More Pay to Play in Oak Lawn,” was critical of Streit for the amount of money he has amassed in his campaign fund.
  “The vast majority of these contributions are from area businesses or are from those hoping to do business with the village,” Bury wrote in the post. “In the third quarter of 2013, Streit had amassed $53,000 in this account. This is over eight times his salary as trustee,” Bury posted.
  Bury said she is not deterred by her detractors.
  “It’s awesome and incredible honor and privilege” to serve as mayor, she said.
  Many big city mayors maintain blogs.
  For example, Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak includes a disclaimer that says: “This blog is supported by the city of Minneapolis through city funds, supplies, equipment and/or personnel.” Madison Mayor Paul Soglin has a blog within the city’s website. Dayton Mayor Gary Leitzell has blog that is paid for by his campaign committee.