A message Algonquin Township Highway Commissioner Andrew Gasser posted on a government-owned signed labeling the Northwest Herald "fake news" was removed Saturday.
The Northwest Herald called Gasser multiple times Saturday, but he could not be reached. However, on a Facebook message board, Gasser responded to the Northwest Herald: "I don’t talk to fake reporters."
Driving by the marquee sign Friday afternoon at 3702 Route 14, residents would have seen this message: “THE NORTHWORST HERALD IS FAKE NEWS.”
The message caused a stir among elected officials, residents driving down the busy McHenry County road and the lawyer who co-wrote the handbook for township officials and characterized Gasser's post as an improper use of a government sign.
“That appears to me to be political speech,” said Keri-Lyn Krafthefer, the Ancel Glink attorney who co-authored the "Township Officials of Illinois Laws and Duties Handbook.” “That’s an improper use of public property.”
The Northwest Herald tracked down Gasser on Friday to ask why he used the government marquee to criticize the free press.
“I put it on there because you’re fake news,” Gasser said, then turned his back and walked away. “I just don’t want to talk to fake news.”
Gasser's stance on stories in the newspaper have been inconsistent.
When the Northwest Herald published an April 29 story about Gasser's pink snowplow, the road commissioner linked to the story on his political Facebook page and shared: "The pink truck made the paper! What an awesome story. Nice to see when we can see the public sector partner with the private sector to do something wonderful."
Hours after Gasser published his "fake news" message on the government marquee outside his office, the road commissioner took to Facebook to promote a narrative he characterized as "real news" – a story about pension payouts to his political nemesis.
"Where is the outrage?" Gasser wrote. "This is #REALNEWS[.] You will not have this problem with me. Didn't take the health care or the politician pension. We cut taxes and instituted more internal controls to stop crap like this."