Local Government Attempts To Punish Illinois Woman For Something She Said On Facebook

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businesswoman using her laptop computer

The Forest Preserve District of Will County, Ill., withdrew a citation issued by one of its forest preserve protection officers after the officer interpreted a local woman’s Facebook posting to suggest she had violated a minor permitting ordinance.

Although officials maintain that the Forest Preserve does not scan social media in order to identify alleged lawbreakers, and that it is not the district’s policy to issue citations based on citizens’ comments on social media platforms, that’s exactly what one officer tried to do before his target used her Facebook page to strike back.

According to The Chicago Tribune, the unnamed Bolingbrook woman had posted this on her Facebook page following a trip to the Whalon Lake Dog Park, where there had apparently been a recent rash of dog illnesses:

I was feeling bad that I haven’t bought a pass and been bringing Ginger there but I’m pretty glad I haven’t. So not going to worry about it until later. I hope all the doggies get better soon.

A persnickety Forest Preserve employee, whose name the Forest Preserve wouldn’t release, informed an enforcement officer of the posting. The preserve issued the woman a citation, which carries a $50 fine, under the assumption that she had “knowingly entered a dog park without a valid 2014 permit.”

The woman took to Facebook again to dispute both the citation and the allegation behind it. The para-governmental Forest Preserve backed down, telling the Tribune it is in the process of trying to contact the woman to offer an apology, and that the citation is “under review.”

“We treat any information like that as a tip and that has to be verified before any action is taken on our part,” district director Marcy DeMauro told the paper. “We would go to the dog park to see if that individual is actually there and using the dog park without a permit.”

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Ben Bullard

Reconciling the concept of individual sovereignty with conscientious participation in the modern American political process is a continuing preoccupation for staff writer Ben Bullard. A former community newspaper writer, Bullard has closely observed the manner in which well-meaning small-town politicians and policy makers often accept, unthinkingly, their increasingly marginal role in shaping the quality of their own lives, as well as those of the people whom they serve. He argues that American public policy is plagued by inscrutable and corrupt motives on a national scale, a fundamental problem which individuals, families and communities must strive to solve. This, he argues, can be achieved only as Americans rediscover the principal role each citizen plays in enriching the welfare of our Republic.

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