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Wednesday, Nov. 28, 2007 08:08 pm

Homers

Who needs a cartoon Springfield when we’ve got Mayor Quimby and Chief Wiggum?

Untitled Document Something funny happened at City Council last week. OK, that’s hardly news. Something funny always happens at City Council. This time, however, was unusual, because it involves us — your friendly, locally owned newspaper: A city official was ordered to read Illinois Times.
As you probably know, we’re a free-circulation newspaper, with no home delivery and a limited distribution area. That means the 70,000-or-so folks who flip through our pages are the best kind of readers — they seek us out; they’re curious about the world (or where their favorite band is playing); they’re basically cool. There are, of course, people who don’t fit that description. Two of them showed up at council last week. Here’s what happened: Freshman Ald. Kris Theilen wanted the mayor to talk about a recent cover story that examined the short career of rookie cop Tara Borders [see Dusty Rhodes, “Opt out,” Nov. 1]. Borders, a black woman, was a highly regarded recruit who joined the SPD in the aftermath of the Renatta Frazier controversy. She told Illinois Times why she abruptly resigned. Staff writer Amanda Robert covered the meeting for us, and I’m relying on her account for details. Here’s an excerpt of the discussion:
Theilen: With last Thursday’s Illinois Times article, I started getting some phone calls and some questions . . . Davlin: I never read Illinois Times, so I don’t even have a clue what you’re even talking about. Theilen: Maybe somebody else can paraphrase it better, but there’s a report about a police officer who was a minority who left Springfield . . . Davlin: I couldn’t say. I don’t have a clue what it even talked about. Ald. Gail Simpson: There was an individual, an African-American female, who was on the department, had passed all the tests and was going through the final phase of her training, and she abruptly resigned. Davlin: I’m familiar with that. Simpson: The account in the paper was there were several incidents that happened, with regard to a weapon and another incident with regard to evidence, that called into question the police department.
Davlin: I don’t have a clue. I know the individual you’re talking about. I know the letter that we received when she left did nothing but praise the police department. You’d swear that it was God she was working for in the letter that she gave to us. That’s the only thing I know. Simpson: Did the chief want to speak to that article at all — because he’s aware of it. Caldwell: I also do not read that magazine or that newspaper . . . Ald. Frank Edwards: Maybe somebody should give you a copy of the Illinois Times. Then we can discuss it next time. Davlin: How about this? You [talking to Chief Caldwell] read the Illinois Times and if any aldermen want to talk to you privately, they can call you. Simpson: I would really like the chief to read the article . . . Caldwell: I have some personal reasons why I don’t read that newspaper. So unless I’m being ordered to by my boss, I probably won’t read it. Simpson: Well, he did. It’s hard not to chuckle. Imagine our chief — a badge-wearing, gun-toting, motorcycle-riding law-enforcement veteran and the head of homeland security for this mighty capital city — standing there, with his big ol’ pouty face, saying he didn’t read the paper “for personal reasons.”
He didn’t elaborate, but maybe he was referring to the story we wrote about him that described his penchant for wearing ladies’ lingerie and sneaking home at lunchtime to watch Gilligan’s Island reruns. Just kidding. As for the mayor, the best he could muster was: “I don’t have a clue.”
His mommy must be so proud. At this point I’m duty-bound to say something pontifical, such as: “Isn’t it a shame that two of our top public servants aren’t seriously interested in helping our police department  remedy its painfully lopsided, overwhelmingly white-male demographic?”
But I’m not the pope; I’m just an editor filling this space while better writers are away. I’ll let you draw your own conclusions. I’m just really glad we gained another reader. (Hey Chief — the puzzle’s in the back.)
Contact Roland Klose at editor@illinoistimes.com.
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