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posted: 10/8/2013 6:38 AM

Daily Herald's commitment: Watching out for the little guy

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  • Deputy Managing Editor Diane Dungey of the Daily Herald.

       Deputy Managing Editor Diane Dungey of the Daily Herald.
    Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

 
 

Editor's note: This article is part of a special series celebrating National Newspaper Week Oct. 6-12. The Week was designated in 1940 as a way to recognize the importance of newspapers to their communities.

From its early days, the Daily Herald has kept the good of suburban communities at the heart of its mission.

The pages of our history are filled with examples where we've investigated wrongdoing, spoken out for needed change or rallied readers to help those in distress.

Back in the 1930s, publisher Stuart R. Paddock Sr. surveyed residents and wrote editorials that helped lead to the creation of park districts in Arlington Heights, Mount Prospect and Palatine.

After printing a story in the 1990s about a Roselle teen battling leukemia, we launched a bone marrow donor registration drive that at the time was the largest ever for the Leukemia Research Foundation.

Our investigation into the causes of the deadly 1995 collision between a Metra train and a school bus in Fox River Grove led to safer railroad crossings across the suburbs.

Those are a few instances from our past, but here are a few recent examples of our continuing mission:

Watching your taxes

Taxpayers readily cover the overtime pay for police and firefighters working on Christmas Eve. But village and township clerks forced to wait at work for political candidates to file paperwork? Maybe not. Daily Herald Suburban Tax Watchdog columnist Jake Griffin uncovered the prospect of taxpayers spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to keep 6,000-plus units of local government open statewide when the final day of candidate filing fell on Dec. 24, 2012. After Griffin's story, state lawmakers passed legislation pushing the filing deadline to Dec. 26, preventing the extra cost.

That's just one example of how in daily news stories and in Griffin's column, the Daily Herald keeps an eye on government spending.

Channeling goodwill

A small fire one July night in an Arlington Heights parking garage touched off an outpouring of generosity for a homeless woman. An arsonist had torched the woman's bike and belongings.

Responding to a Daily Herald story, readers quickly donated another bike, but that wasn't all. They offered shelter, job help, clothing, toiletries and more to the woman. "It means so much," she said.

It's one of many instances of Daily Herald readers, moved to action by news stories, stepping in to help people in need.

Making schools safer

A sudden knife attack by an Elgin High School student left one of his favorite teachers seriously injured and permanently blind in one eye. But, as it turned out, the attack was not unprecedented. Student Angel Facio was under investigation for two previous violent attacks, but the school didn't know about it. Nor was Elgin High School alone. The Daily Herald collected data through Freedom of Information requests that showed widespread lapses in how police and schools share information about dangerous students.

Legislation resulting from the investigation was signed into law last August specifying how information about students should be shared between schools and police.

• Diane Dungey oversees regional news coverage and projects. She lives in Barrington. Friend her at facebook.com/dianedungey or follow @dianedungey on Twitter.

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