Oak Lawn officials have followed through on a proposal made at a Village Board meeting in February to create a monthly newspaper to keep residents up to date with all the goings-on in town.
The idea of having a village newspaper printed and mailed to every household was first brought up at the Feb. 23 Village Board meeting, where John Fanning, of Fanning Communications, explained how his company produces a monthly publication for the village of Crestwood.
Fanning proposed having a 20-page paper, with 80 percent of any advertising revenue generated by the publication would go to the village, with 20 percent going to his company.
Mayor Sandra Bury and most of the trustees spoke favorably about the idea, saying the newspaper would be a good way to provide information about what is going on the village, with the government, park district and library providing content. Local schools could also provide stories, too.
Bury and Village Manager Larry Deetjen said that many people, especially those without access to the Internet, are not receiving information about projects and activities going in Oak Lawn.
The plan is to have Fanning solicit advertising for the publication, which proponents say will soon pay for itself and even provide a profit for the village. But at the March 22 meeting, the board voted 5-1 to adjust the village budget to make about $35,000 available to cover start-up costs the first year.
“We’re counting on that advertising revenue to start coming in, (and cover any costs),” said Bury.
Village Attorney Patrick Connelly explained that the village still must solicit bids for the printing of the newspaper, and the first issue might come out in May.
Trustee Bob Streit (3rd) was the only dissenting vote, asserting that there is no need for a village newspaper.
But Bury said the village newspaper will not be competing with existing newspapers that cover breaking news. Instead, it will focus on providing informational items and features about the “good news” that happens locally.
The supporters of the newspaper say an official news source from the village without a political slant is needed to counteract various Internet blogs that do have a political agenda.
Fanning had said that everything from municipal bond ratings and real estate values can be affected by wrong information posted in blogs, and publications such as his would counter that.
The newspaper would supplement the “Village Matters” blog, which is only available to people with Internet access who sign up for it through the Everbridge application.
“It is not going to be my newspaper. It is going to be the village’s newspaper,” said Bury, denying Streit’s contention that the newspaper will just be a mouthpiece for the mayor and her allies.
The discussion became heated when Streit argued that the newspaper could end up costing the village $100,000, the amount of money he asserted Crestwood has lost on its newspaper.
“That is a scare tactic,” said Trustee Alex Olejniczak (2nd). Pointing at his shoes, he said, “I have a pair of Florscheims here that I promise to eat right here if we end up paying any more than $20,000 for this,” he said.
“Anything that is good for Oak Lawn, Trustee Streit is against it,” said Trustee Tim Desmond (1st). “So if he is against it, it must be good for the village,” before casting his vote in favor of the budget adjustment.