Island Lake trustee in blog likens mayor to Hitler
Island Lake trustees on both sides of the town's political divide are criticizing a board member's blog entry comparing Mayor Debbie Herrmann to Adolf Hitler and includes a photo of the German dictator.
"It is disgusting," Trustee Connie Mascillino said of fellow board member Laurie Rabattini's blog entry. "I find it unethical and immoral."
Rabattini posted the blog entry early Friday morning, after the board's meeting the previous evening.
The five-paragraph entry concerned the village board's discussion of its Freedom of Information Act policy, which does not specifically exempt trustees from having to file formal requests for documents or other information.
Village attorney Scott Puma told the board such an exemption legally is not necessary, and on Thursday night the board voted 4-3 to reject the addition of such an exemption to the policy.
Rabattini, Don Saville and John Ponio favored the exemption. Herrmann, Mascillino, Don Verciglio and Donna O'Malley voted against it.
Rabattini, Saville and Ponio often find themselves in the minority on controversial votes before the board. They've publicly feuded with the mayor and other trustees on a variety of issues in recent months.
Rabattini blogged about village matters before she was elected last year and continues to do so. The online diary can be found at villageofislandlake.blogspot.com.
In her latest entry, Rabattini objected to the majority's ruling on the FOIA matter. She said she "shares the opinion of Trustee Saville in that the Herrmann administration resembles that of the Nazi regime, led by Adolph Hitler."
The entry misspelled Hitler's first name. A black-and-white photograph of the dictator in uniform accompanied the entry.
The blog post was edited later Friday to remove the Hitler and Nazi references.
When reached Friday morning, Saville admitted saying at a recent board meeting Herrmann was running Island Lake like a dictator and the village was heading toward Nazism, but he distanced himself from Rabattini's direct comparison.
"Hitler was a murderer, and you can't compare the two," he said.
Rabattini stood by her comments.
"The government in Island Lake is being run like a dictatorship, in my opinion," she said in an e-mail Friday. "The comparisons of dictatorships are used on political radio talk shows and TV every day. I'm simply comparing her administration practices to the Nazi regime, not the murders of millions. I could compare her administration to any one of dozens of dictators."
Rabattini further accused Herrmann of using "propaganda, secrets, and control techniques to gain total control of Island Lake."
Herrmann called the comparison "a misrepresentation of reality."
It's the second time Rabattini has been criticized for making Nazi references when speaking about village officials.
In July 2009, Rabattini referred to Verciglio as the "village blog Nazi" because of e-mails he'd sent that criticized her blogging efforts.
Verciglio, a U.S. Army veteran, demanded an apology, but one never was proffered.
At the time, Rabattini insisted the comment was a humorous popular culture reference to the "Seinfeld" character known as the Soup Nazi.
"It's not derogatory in the old-fashioned sense," she said.
That explanation didn't soothe Verciglio then, and the latest incident has further angered him.
"I find it very offensive," he said. "If she could have compared (the village administration) to any other regime, why did she pick that one? She picked that one for a reason."
Everyone knows Rabattini and Herrmann disagree on political issues, Mascillino said, but the blog entry "is going too far."
Verciglio again called for Rabattini to apologize. He said he will investigate whether the board should publicly reprimand Rabattini with a censure resolution.
"I think it should be considered," he said.