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Article updated: 1/22/2013 1:38 PM

Island Lake political website pulled, will be retooled

By Russell Lissau

An amateur website critical of Island Lake Mayor Debbie Herrmann's political foes has been temporarily shut down and is being retooled, its founder said Tuesday.

"The site wasn't meant for public consumption," said its creator, Island Lake resident Dan Field.

When the sourgrapesgang.com website returns at an unspecified date, the segments targeting the candidates running against Herrmann and her slate in the April 9 election will be gone, Field said.

But the portion that bashed the often-anonymous political activists who opposed Herrmann and her allies -- people Field called "whackadoos" on the site -- will remain, he said.

Reversing an earlier statement, Field said he'll also delete information about Wayne Schnell, the campaign manager for the candidates running against Herrmann's slate. Schnell is a former part-time Island Lake police officer who has been a particularly vocal critic of Herrmann and Police Chief William McCorkle.

When it debuted, the Sour Grapes Gang website consisted entirely of a long essay about Island Lake politics and took shots at members of the "For the People" political slate running against Herrmann's "United for Progress" team.

The site detailed allegations about the candidates' behavior and personal lives and made a variety of implications that weren't supported by evidence.

The site gained attention last week when Herrmann posted its URL in a comment she made at dailyherald.com. Until then, the site had about a dozen hits, Field said.

After a story about Herrmann's post was published at dailyherald.com on Jan. 16, Field's site recorded more than 200 hits, he said.

The site was shut down that night.

Field co-owns a business that does computer work for the village. He and former trustee Louis Sharp also filed formal objections to the candidacies of two members of the "For the People" slate -- mayoral hopeful Charles Amrich and trustee candidate Tony Sciarrone -- hoping to knock them off the ballot.

Those cases haven't been decided.

Last week, Field said he created the site to make people aware of what he's learned about the candidates he targeted. Field initially insisted everything he posted was factual but then admitted some of the information didn't meet that journalistic threshold.

On Tuesday, Field said he decided to rework the website after speaking with trustee candidate Mark Beeson about the content. Beeson was one of the people targeted on the page.

"I already have that pulled," Field said about the candidate-focused content.

Beeson said he's happy Field is "doing the right thing" by changing the content of the site. "He can have any opinion he wants, as long as they're backed by facts," Beeson said.

Field said he knows the site angered some people in town, but he added it had supporters, too.

Amrich, Sciarrone and Beeson are campaigning with clerk candidate Teresa Ponio and trustee hopeful Keith Johns as the "For the People" slate.

The "United for Progress" slate consists of Herrmann, Clerk Connie Mascillino and first-time trustee hopefuls Josh Rohde, Ken Nitz and Ed McGinty.

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