Will County Board member responds to backlash over his website posts
A Will County Board member has come under fire recently for using his website blog to share a controversial article.
On Jan. 20, Will County Board Member Steve Balich, a Republican from Homer Glen, shared a post on his website WillCountyNews.com, written by radio talk show host and writer Dan Proft titled “What’s Left of The Left.”
The post that Balich shared read, “If we learned one thing from [former U.S. President Barack] Obama, speechifying doesn’t bring the country together, create jobs or reverse barbaric cultural trends. And so [U.S. President Donald] Trump’s unity-signaling Inaugural Address was quickly followed by a protest march of grumpy old women and their wives to which Susan B. Anthony would not have been welcome.”
Balich said he removed the post, which referred to the Jan. 21 Women’s March in Chicago and elsewhere around the country, after being contacted by constituents. The article can still be found at www.upstream-ideas.com.
“I got an email from two ladies saying the post was offensive,” he said. “I took the post down as soon as I got the emails. I’m not trying to get people upset.”
Around that time, the county board received emails asking Balich to resign.
Will County Board Speaker Jim Moustis asked Balich to comment on the matter on Feb. 2 during the board’s Executive Committee meeting.
“I said I’m sorry if I offended some people,” Balich said. “I support all women 100 percent and all citizens. I thought that was the end of this.”
Balich said he finds no wrong in sharing what he posted, and that the article was making a satire out of the Women’s March. The article is not viewed as an inappropriate expression when compared to what he saw at the demonstration held in Chicago last month, he said, though he declined to elaborate on what he specifically witnessed.
“I happened to be there that day,” he said of the Women’s March in Chicago. “I was on the outskirts. I was at a venue near it. I was in an elevator grossed out.”
Balich said people should watch coverage of the march and develop their own opinion of what happened there. He maintained that he was exercising his right to free speech, just like those marching.
Two weeks later, at a Feb. 16 Will County Board meeting, three women spoke out in response to Balich’s blog post, the first being Virginia Rimeika, of New Lenox, who resides in the district Balich represents.
“I felt compelled to speak,” she said. “I was at the [Women’s] March [in Chicago]. His description wasn’t what I saw.”
Rimeika disputed the fact that Balich was said to be in Chicago that day. She recalls the Women’s March as being predominately peaceful as people for and against the demonstration sought to make their views known. She added that Balich’s decision to share the article draws reasons for concern, in part, because people who visit his “news” webpage might feel those are the Will County board’s views.
“I just feel he’s inappropriately posting on a blog called WillCountyNews.com,” she said. “It’s his personal blog. That’s what he said that was. I assumed it was a Will County sanctioned blog, and that all board member would have them.”
The Homer/Lockport Tea Party has expressed support and released a statement on his behalf, which read, “… It saddens us to let everyone know Steve Balich has been under attack by the Women’s March on Washington Group, which is basically [an] anti-Trump group.”
The release said that Balich pointed out “vulgar” and “lewd” behavior that took place at the Women’s March.
Balich did not agree with the speaker’s request that he comment on the matter during the Feb. 2 meeting.
“I don’t feel it’s appropriate,” he said. “It’s not even County board business. I put stuff on my blog. [It’s] up to you what you put up there.”
Balich said he often shares various articles on his website for viewers to read.
“I post stuff on the blog that I don’t always agree with,” he said. “The major portion of the articles I put up, I agree with. The only reason I put them up when I don’t agree is because I find them interesting.”
Balich added that there is a need for more opinions to be shared in today’s world and refuted the idea of resigning from the board.
Rimeika said neither an apology to the public nor his resignation would resolve the matter.
“I’d recommend that he tamper his comments on his blog because people are taking it as official news,” she said.
A fundraiser that was planned for Balich’s behalf Thursday, Feb. 23, at Mullet’s Sports Bar & Restaurant in Homer Glen was cancelled after the “women turned up the heat” and “threatened a protest” at Mullets if it were to take place, according to a post from Feb. 20 on Balich’s blog site.
The blog added the restaurant said they did not want to be involved in the controversy, which has also included a woman at the Feb. 16 meeting who referred to another post shared by Balich as anti-Muslim.
Balich said he is not sexist or anti-Muslim, and said his supporters know that.
In an effort to gather donation that were lost as a result of the canceled fundraiser, Balich set up a GoFundMe page, which as of press time had collected $1,875 by 33 people in nine days while trying to reach a $10,000 goal.
For more information, visit www.gofundme.com/sbalich.