'One of the most racist things I've seen': Elk Grove mayor slams mailer on opioid program

  • Elk Grove Village Mayor Craig Johnson and other officials launched the Elk Grove Village Cares opioid treatment and education program in 2018. This week, Johnson criticized a campaign-style mailer that questioned the program's use of funds for out-of-towners.

      Elk Grove Village Mayor Craig Johnson and other officials launched the Elk Grove Village Cares opioid treatment and education program in 2018. This week, Johnson criticized a campaign-style mailer that questioned the program's use of funds for out-of-towners. Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer, June 2018

 
 
Updated 9/13/2019 8:28 PM

Elk Grove Village officials this week took aim at a controversial campaign-style mailer about the village's anti-opioid program.

The double-sided glossy mailing, which was sent to mailboxes by an anonymous group, questions why the Elk Grove Village Cares program is using funds to help out-of-towners.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

The mailer uses images of two men purchased from an online photo service -- one purporting to be a black man from Baltimore, and the other a white man from Chicago -- who supposedly participated in the addiction treatment program.

But Mayor Craig Johnson said of the 32 people who've gone through the program, the person who lives farthest away is 19 miles from Elk Grove. The individual is from Elk Grove and her parents still live in town, he said.

"Will we turn our back on her? I don't think so," Johnson said at this week's village board meeting.

Besides Elk Grove, others in the program are from Schaumburg and Wood Dale, he said.

Johnson called the ad "one of the most racist things I've seen in my life."

"When you get crap like this full of lies working against a program that's doing so much good that's changing so many lives and making a difference not only in Elk Grove but in this country, that's wrong," he said.

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The ad claims Elk Grove taxpayers have spent $500,000 on the anti-opioid effort, but in fact the village is paying for the program with two grants totaling just under $80,000 from the Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority, village officials said.

In order to receive those grants, the village can't discriminate against individuals based on where they live, village officials wrote on their "Rumor vs. Fact" page on the village website.

Treatment costs to date have totaled less than $50,000, village officials said.

On Saturday during a community awareness event at the Kenneth Young Center, Johnson is expected to announce receipt of a four-year, $1.5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The village and Kenneth Young will split the money with Arlington Heights-based Live4Lali to provide resources like the overdose reversal drug Narcan and training for first responders.

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