WGN-TV sues south suburban village for refusing to release records

Dolton mayor subject of investigations by local news media

Nexstar-owned WGN-TV has filed a lawsuit against the Village of Dolton over the failure to release records regarding Mayor Tiffany Henyard’s spending and perks, all now under investigation by the FBI.

Based in Irving. Tex., Nexstar Media Group filed the suit in Cook County Circuit Court. Nexstar bought WGN-TV and radio in 2019 with the rest of the former Tribune stations and owns NewsNation and 75 percent of The CW. 

For the last few years, WGN and Fox-owned WFLD-TV have investigated her for taxpayer money for personal use, including trips taken to New York and Las Vegas. WGN requested public records, but the village refused, violating Illinois’ open records law.

The Illinois AG office sided with WGN and ordered Dolton to release the records by March 15, but still refused, and no action has been taken since. Now, WGN is asking the Illinois AG to release those records. 

Elected in 2021, Henyard doubles as Thornton Township supervisor, where Dolton resides. Henyard has also clashed with fellow Dolton trustees over budgetary issues and faces lawsuits from residents, businesses, and other trustees. 

Chicago media “superstar” Andrew Holmes is now accused of drugging and assaulting a fellow Dolton trustee. (WGN-TV)

One of those trustees – though he happens to be one of her allies and isn’t suing her – is a well-known media figure in the Chicago area. Andrew Holmes, who often appears in front of the cameras at area crime scenes, is a Dolton trustee and is under investigation for drugging a fellow trustee in a hotel room during a recent taxpayer-funded trip to Las Vegas. As a result, Holmes was recently fired by a victims advocacy group. 

Holmes had disappeared from public view – that is until Wednesday when he showed up with the family of a five-year-old girl who was killed on the West Side last weekend in a very questionable move, shifting the attention away from the grieving family (this site has criticized the local news media for giving Holmes so much air time.) 

Henyard has described the criticism of her deeds as a witch hunt. Using language former President Donald Trump is known for, the Democrat had blasted coverage of the turmoil in Dolton surrounding her as “fake news” – something that hasn’t gone unnoticed by local right-wing media

Once a solid, middle-class community home to Jane Lynch, Richard Roeper, and retired Eagles QB and Mt. Carmel standout Donovan McNabb, Dolton has fallen on hard times in the last three decades as former Chicago political figure William Shaw took control of the village in the 1990s. Since then, Dolton experienced white flight, exiting businesses, and surging crime as it transformed into one of the poorest municipalities in Cook County, often rivaling fellow south suburbs Harvey, Robbins, and Ford Heights for the dishonor. 

Meanwhile, Nexstar is facing some legal issues of its own. Recently, the FCC fined them for its relationship with Mission Broadcasting over how it operates WPIX New York regarding circumventing the station ownership cap, ordering Mission to divest the station by next April. Mission recently backed out of a deal to buy WADL Detroit after the FCC imposed numerous conditions. 

Since Nexstar took over WGN-TV, they’ve made some questionable editorial decisions – especially regarding their mayoral election night coverage in April 2023, which was a complete embarrassment to Chicago journalism. 

I guess you can say the local news media is doing their job in holding Chicago area government officials accountable – which is not an easy thing to do. But when the parties in this lawsuit are a ruthless billion-dollar corporation led by Perry Sook whose local station had a role in elevating Holmes to media-superstar status in the first place and a local government destroying residents’ livelihoods led by a woman who is more fitted for being on a Bravo reality show than being a politician, it’s hard to pick a side to root for. 


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