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April 25, 2018 6:23 am

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Township Official's Falsehoods Roll On...(Or Here We Go Again)

   A couple of years ago Saugatuck Township Board Member Roy McIlwaine met with me at Spectator’s restaurant and thanked me profusely for hiring his son, Bill, to sell ads for The Local Observer’s Menu Guide despite the fact his son had a history of substance abuse problems and other issues which both Roy and Bill acknowledged.
        I told Roy as long as Bill did his job and there were no other issues, we’d be glad to give his son a chance. Roy again thanked me and even told me how much he appreciated The Local Observer being a great asset to the community by reporting on the news of the community - both good and bad.
        My, how things changed with Roy when we were forced to fire his son for a litany of issues, not the least of which being dishonest about his sales calls and other outside personal issues.
        After Bill’s release from our company, we never publicly shared his information with anyone or the reasons we let him go.
        After Bill later took a job with the local fire department - where Roy sat on and continues to sit on the Fire Board as a township rep - and was once again let go for unprofessional conduct and other issues, he was then hired by our Clare MI-based newspaper competitor to sell advertising for them.
        Bill immediately began bad-mouthing me and The Local Observer to area businesses as part of his advertising sales pitch on behalf of our competitor. Even claimed we were an “illegal newspaper”. Funny how he never said those things when we gave him a job and he worked for us. We’ve come to expect nothing more or less from the younger McIlwaine or our competitor.
        After we let his son go, Roy McIlwaine apparently changed his tune about The Local Observer as well and feels it’s necessary to now criticize and make false statements (yes, lies) about our newspaper and our stories covering Saugatuck Township and its board on which he sits and some of its questionable decisions that impact the public.
        Roy also has repeatedly - and failingly and self-servingly, like his son - tried to convince local businesses and government agencies not to advertise in The Local Observer, which occurred once again just this week at a meeting of the Saugatuck Township Fire Board on which he sits.
         In what we view as a cowardly act, Roy McIlwaine didn’t put on this week’s public Fire Board agenda - put out prior to the meeting so the public can know what will be discussed - that he wanted the local Fire Department to stop advertising in The Local Observer, even though we only run a few paid ads a year for them (and have even often given the fire department several free ads and space each year to help promote and inform the community about the great work the fire chief and his firefighters do for this community).
        So at this meeting, Roy put himself and his Observer slams on the agenda with no prior notice and immediately sought to get the fire department not to advertise with us in the future, the newspaper that is mailed free to everyone in the fire district’s and the Saugatuck Township Board’s coverage area (unlike the newspaper his son now works for).
        Now besides our dumping his son from our payroll, Roy also has other issues with The Local Observer, chiefly that we’ve written stories critical of the Saugatuck Township Board and some of its decisions and/or failures to perform due diligence on projects taxpayers have to foot the bill on.
        Some of those articles that Roy now says - and wants you to believe - are false include the township’s failed recycling program partnership with Allegan County (which township voters twice voted down after the Observer reported on the questionable financial benefit to local taxpayers); and the Observer’s reporting on the township’s failure to research and acknowledge publicly the future costs to local taxpayers for allowing a “free”  bike path “donated” by a South Haven biking organization to be built through the township.
        Unlike Mr. McIlwaine and some of his elected and appointed township brethren, the Observer bases its reporting on actual documents, financial records and interviews before we go to print with our findings. And, as always, unlike Mr. McIwaine, et al., we always invite the public to give us a call if interested to discuss and make available our findings at any time so you can judge for yourself who’s telling the truth. Additionally, the accuracy and truthfulness of our reporting on the aforementioned stories can also be verified by talking to other current and former local government officials as well.
        Here’s the bottom line why you’re reading this: We know for most local residents all this is “inside baseball” and you couldn’t give a damn. Believe it or not, we don’t like wasting our space responding to our competitor’s phony claims or those of our critics like Roy McIlwaine.
        If we ever find out we’ve printed inaccurate information, we have no problem writing a correction. That’s being responsible.
        But if our critics and competitor raise false claims and lies about our reporting, like the McIlwaines, and we have the documentation to prove they are lying, we at the Observer feel the public needs to at least hear from us and understand what is really going on behind the scenes involving your local newspaper and what’s really behind some of our more vocal critics and their ongoing efforts to silence us. (For the record: They won’t and can’t.)
        We work for you, the public, to keep you informed. You may like a story or hate it, wish more could be published about the good or bad news all cities and towns engender, or less. Believe it or not, there are some stories even we don’t like to print, but our job is not to hide the bad and pretend all is always good.
       Every newspaper carries a responsibility to be a government watchdog to help keep you, the taxpayers, informed about what your local elected and appointed officials and others are doing, both good and bad, that affects you. And at the end of the day it is you who decides whether the job they’re doing - or we’re doing for that matter - is good or bad. We wouldn’t have it any other way.
        In this new era of continual cries of “Fake News” by those whose actions and decisions are sometimes questioned and reported on as their first line of defense when they don’t like being brought into the light, we ask only that you consider the source(s), the information provided and, when in doubt, do your own research. Call us if you have a question about our coverage. We’re always glad to talk with you and won’t give you pat, or evasive answers or lie about our critics as some do us.
        We at the Observer never shy away from our critics or their  often demonstrably false statements. We believe our readers should always hear both sides of a story; know and understand the “back story” to why they are saying the things they do, and then judge for themselves what is true and what is not. We’re willing to let those chips fall where they may.


Township Official’s Falsehoods Roll On…(Or Here We Go Again)

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