To the Editor:
Recently, there has been an abundance of misinformation being circulated in social media outlets about my office, which has led me to respond. On Tuesday, June 27, 2017 I hosted my monthly ward meeting at La Rabida Children’s Hospital. We were to discuss the re-zoning of 71st Street and the Obama Foundation and Park District were to present their last in a series of three informational meetings. The ward meeting venues are picked at the beginning of the year before any of the Obama Center/Park District meetings were scheduled. The first Obama Center/Park District meeting had approximately 600 in attendance, the second meetings attendance dropped to approximately 170 people, so I assumed having the meeting at La Rabida, which can accommodate 75 people would be suitable.
Unfortunately, someone or a group notified the public through social media that the Obama Foundation was going to give brand new information about the Obama Center that was totally different than the information given at the previous two meetings. That was a blatant lie. That is why so many people arrived at La Rabida. There were approximately 50 people who could not enter the building, not 150 that the Herald reported. It was also reported that my staff called the police on those who could not enter the building. This was another blatant lie. Police were already there doing their usual patrol of the hospital grounds.
We live in an era of cynicism and conspiracy theorists. Therefore, wildly inaccurate email rants about elected officials are often assumed to be true. There is a pattern emerging of slanderous rhetoric and defamation of character that cannot become the norm. You can use social media to tell the truth about elected officials or use social media to manipulate the public’s perception of them. You can be an ardent political watchdog without reducing yourself to telling blatant lies. Fake news is never okay no matter who tells it. In short, if you read or hear accusations about my office please just call for clarification. You need to know the truth.
-Ald. Leslie A. Hairston (5th)