The Rockford Register Star has a contract with the current Rock Valley College Board of Trustees for which it receives $150,000 per year rent for its formerly empty second floor of the Rockford Newspapers. In addition, in an addendum, Rock Valley College is obligated to buy $100,000 per year in advertising.
These fees prevent the Editorial Board from being objective in the current race for Rock Valley College Trustee. This contract has tilted the editorial playing field in favor of the status quo. To date, the Editorial Board has allowed the President of the Rock Valley College Board to write a My View entitled “RVC Works to serve students’ needs, be fiscally responsible” on March 2. The full page editorial is a full-blown defense of the current board’s actions including the reduction in force notices sent to 28 professors.
In response, a supporter of a change had a My View rebuttal published on March 20. It was only published after she agreed to remove her endorsement of the RVC First candidates, myself, John Nelson; Angelique Bodine; and Paul Gorski. (Ed.’s note: The unedited version of this piece was published in March 15 issue of The Rock River Times.)
In a highly unusual development, the Star allowed the same full page double column space on the editorial page to one of the status quo candidates for what amounts to a self-promotion/political ad. The candidate in question, Marlana Dokken, is an employee of RMAP (Rockford Metro Agency for Planning), the same regional surface transportation planning agency that her boss, Michael Dunn Jr. runs. Dunn Jr. was recently reappointed to a two-year unexpired term by the sitting RVC Board. He was appointed under questionable circumstances, and at a time the board knew his employee was running for election for a seat on the RVC Board. The Star’s Editorial Board to date has found no fault with this development. There is no logical reason for the Editorial Boards actions other than bias.
If the candidate in question wants to make her political case she can advertise or call a press conference. She should also explain why it’s a good idea for the public to have two people from the same small government planning agency on the Rock Valley College Board. She can also explain how she can be an independent voice for the community when, if elected, her boss is also on the RVC Board. Finally, she can explain why her invoking of party affiliation for a non-partisan seat is not prohibited since her RMAP employer receives federal funds.
The Star’s Editorial Board has a long-standing policy against candidates or their families writing self-promotional campaign ad letters of endorsement. The March 27 My View editorial from Dokken violated this policy. The Editorial Board should have followed their own policy, and they should also have refrained from ultimately endorsing anyone in this race, which they did in the Friday, March 31 edition of the paper.
The conflict of interest by the Star’s Editorial Board should have precluded it from opining on the RVC trustee race. It has lost its way and its credibility.
Candidate for RVC Board of Trustees
Ed.’s note: The Times did not endorse any candidate(s) in the RVC Board of Trustees races.