Guest Column: County Board Chairman Christiansen should apologize

[Winnebago County Board Chairman] Scott Christiansen should apologize to The Rock River Times and the residents of Winnebago County for his mean-spirited and inaccurate characterization of The Rock River Times as a “supermarket tabloid.” The Rock River Times has offered accurate news coverage and award-winning columnists, and is a member of the Illinois Press Association, a professional organization dedicated to newspapers and to the protection of First Amendment rights. In addition, The Rock River Times is a successful small business that not only serves as an important news resource, but also promotes other local small businesses.

Mr. Christiansen’s major complaint appears to be that this paper incorrectly reported the county’s responsibility regarding tax assessments. The appropriate response from the county should have been to request a correction to the minor error, which consisted of only 15 words from a 2,519-word article. But instead, Mr. Christiansen felt compelled to insult this fine newspaper, and detail in depth and inaccurately, the county’s responsibilities regarding tax assessments.

Mr. Christiansen needs to review the levy and assessment process again, as his rebuttal had errors. Regarding the tax assessment process, Mr. Christiansen states: “Where does the County Board get involved in this process? It doesn’t.” This is inaccurate. The county is involved in the assessment process through the board of review that oversees challenges to assessments, and through the Supervisor of Assessments, as the board chairman with the consent of the board appoints the Supervisor. And his comment “the only property taxes the County Board has any control over are the levies for County government” misrepresents the relationship the board has with other taxing districts. The County Board Chairman appoints two members of the Greater Rockford Airport Authority, which sets the levies for the airport district, and the levy for the Winnebago County Forest Preserve District is set by County Board members, as County Board members are also commissioners for the forest preserve district.

Mr. Christiansen owes this newspaper and local residents an apology. I suggest Mr. Christiansen that, using your own words, “your misstatement of basic facts does a disservice to the community,” and “I prefer to think your misinformation is due to ignorance rather than malice.”

Paul Gorski is a former candidate for Winnebago County Board Chairman for the Democrats.

From the April 26-May 2, 2006, issue

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