We are delighted to introduce our readers to David Schmidt, who has just won the coveted and increasingly prestigious Sunshine Troublemaker of the Week award. Mr. Schmidt is the 17th winner of the STOTW Award.
The activities that Mr. Schmidt engaged in to win this award are new to us.
David Schmidt is a city alderman in affluent Park Ridge, Illinois. He stepped into public office nine months ago. Soon, it seemed to him that city government labored under the shroud of a culture of secrecy.
In the spirit of sunshine activists everywhere, Mr. Schmidt considered what he could do to combat this culture. His chosen means was to release documents to the local press with details from closed meetings he believed should have been open.
Mayor Howard Frimark and some City Council members were unhappy and spoke of punishment.
After a public outcry, not to mention a blog, Park Ridge Underground, emerged to support Alderman Schmidt, there was a temporary ceasefire.
Then, Mayor Frimark asked the City Attorney to draft a resolution condemning “an elected official” for disclosing confidential closed session information. Much more ensued to ensure that STOTW David Schmidt would pay the price for being a ray of sun to his city.
The local newspaper, the Pioneer Local deserves an honorary mention for regularly repeating interesting details from the leaked minutes in its news coverage: Mayor protests release of closed-session details.
Alderman Schmidt’s response to a “resolution of condemnation” signed by the Mayor and several other alderman is that it is an:
…illegal resolution [which] will have absolutely no effect on how I conduct myself as an alderman, so the mayor’s behind-the-scenes machinations were a complete waste of time.”
Welcome, Alderman Schmidt, to the storied ranks of the STOTWs. Carry on!