WTVO Reports on Rockford Mayor’s ‘Pay to Play’ Scandal

WTVO and WQRF-TV are slowly bringing journalism back to Rockford after the purge at the Rock River Times left local news bereft of inquisitive journalists. What about the daily newspaper? Let’s face it, the Register Star hasn’t been a real newspaper in years. After I was alerted to a series of donations made by Gorman and Company to Rockford Mayor Larry Morrissey prior to their entering a deal over the city-owned Amerock /Ziock building, I leaked this information to the local press. WTVO/WQRF were the only station to pick up the story. Read the article below. Watch the video at this link.

What I find most incredible about this story, is that Alderman Tom McNamara (D-3rd Ward), basically admitted on live television that Rockford’s politicians are bought and paid for by companies that do business with the city. He says it so casually, he either did not realize or did not care what he was saying. This admission further confirms suspicions of community activists that “pay to play” is standard operating procedure in the City of Rockford.

From the housing projects at South New Towne Drive, to the future hotel in the old Amerock building downtown, Wisconsin-based developer Gorman & Company is tied to both City of Rockford projects. The company is also tied to Rockford Mayor Larry Morrissey, having donated thousands of dollars to his campaign, much of it after his last election.

The Illinois State Board of Elections shows that Gorman donated three times to Citizens for Morrissey. On 3/11/13, Gorman donated $2,500. On 9/3/13, the company ponied up another $1,000. The last donation came on 3/27/14 to the tune of $1,000. The total rings up to $4,500. Click here to see the list of contributions made to Morrissey’s campaigns.

Former mayoral candidate Michael Kleen issued the following statement regarding the donations:

“Gorman & Co.’s donation to Citizens for Morrissey, prior to making a business deal with the City, reeks of pay to play. It gives the appearance of a conflict of interest and raises questions about how the City of Rockford does business. City contracts should be awarded through a transparent, open bidding process, not backroom deals. Awarding political donors with favored status is not how an open, transparent government operates.”

“On the surface, it appears very bad,” said Terry Siebert, Director of Together Rockford. He spent weeks collecting thousands of signatures against the public housing proposal Gorman was set to develop in his neighborhood, and he says he’s well aware of the Wisconsin company’s contributions to the mayor.

Here’s a screenshot of the donations. Note that Mayor Morrissey is the only Illinois politician Gorman has contributed to.

GormanContributions

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KFVS Channel 12 Reports on My Top 10 List

hdr_brandingLoreto Cruz of KFVS Channel 12 News in Carterville, Illinois focused their latest Halloween segment on the many ghost stories of Southern Illinois University. They used my top 10 list, “Top 10 Most Haunted Places in Southern Illinois” as a basis for their news story. Thanks, KFVS Channel 12!

CARBONDALE, IL (KFVS) – Several of SIU’s buildings have been called haunted. A number of authors have published novels and compilations of ghost lore across southern Illinois. Michael Kleen is one of those authors, and published a list of the top ten most haunted places in southern Illinois.

One story claims that a student got lost in Faner Hall, a multipurpose building on SIU’s campus, and the student’s spirit still roams the halls at night. “Faner’s really easy to get lost in,” explained Student Emily VanWardhauizzn on Friday. “You can definitely hear the footsteps. It echoes, and just amplifies because it sounds like there’s more than one person behind you.”

Check out the whole story here!

Daily Vidette on Ghostlore of Illinois Colleges and Universities

Photo illustration by Jessi Dwyer / Staff Photographer.
Photo illustration by Jessi Dwyer / Staff Photographer.

Brent Bader at Illinois State University’s Daily Vidette has written an excellent article about my new book, Ghostlore of Illinois Colleges and Universities. Thanks, Brent!

We’ve all gathered around campfires to hear friends tell ghost stories which were never fact-checked or investigated, but Michael Kleen is doing the research and compiled a list of “ghostlore” present at many Illinois colleges, including Illinois State University.

“I’ve written about other kinds of haunted places in the past, but until now, no one has devoted an entire book to Illinois college ghostlore,” Kleen said. “It’s a celebration of what makes our colleges and universities unique.”

This is a topic that Kleen is quite familiar with, having written many books about the subject, but by specifying the stories that took place on college campuses he is going back to the very location that originally inspired his hunt.

“I have been collecting and researching folklore and ghost stories for more than a decade,” Kleen said. “Although I’ve always been interested in reading ghost stories, I didn’t start writing about them until I went to college at Eastern Illinois University in Charleston. I started collecting them and publishing what I found on the internet.”

Kleen said he found that Eastern was host to some of the most popular ghost stories in the state, which inspired him to look beyond the campus and see what other colleges offered in that realm. The author made sure to detail all of his findings in a way that others could prove or follow up on his work.

Read the entire article here.

KRNV Channel 4 in Reno Dishes on Another Top 10 List

News4Another news outlet, KRNV Channel 4 in Reno, Nevada, has run a story on one of my top 10 lists at Mysterious Heartland. This time, it was “Top 10 Most Haunted Colleges in the Southwest.” Thanks, Channel 4 news team!

University of Nevada, Reno rated most haunted in the Southwest

RENO, Nev. (MyNews4.com & KRNV) — The University of Nevada, Reno is ranked number one on the top ten list of most haunted universities. Some of the buildings are very, very old, dating back to the 1800s. With this, many of the buildings have had a previous history.

Frandsen Humanities Building, for instance, was said to be a cattle slaughter house before it was transformed into a classroom building. Apparently, door and windows will open on their own.

Check out the entire story here!

Interview with Little Dipper Ink

I recently had the pleasure of sitting down (metaphorically) with GinaMarie Lobianco, a fellow EIU alum and owner of Little Dipper Ink. We talk about indie publishing, writing, and my interest in folklore. Plus, whatever happened to Black Oak Media, anyway? Check it out!

This week, in honor of keeping October spooky, we sat down with beloved author and local celebrity, Michael Kleen of black oak media, and had a talk about ghosts, hauntings, small presses, and much more. Michael Kleen is an independent author who is well-versed in many topics including ghosts, folklore, local politics, and history. he began his literary career well over a decade ago and continues to research, promote, write, and publish his work through various mediums online. Michael Kleen’s experience is vast and his insights into the writing and publishing world are invaluable to those authors who are just beginning to launch their literary or writing career.

Head over to Little Dipper Ink and read the entire interview!

WTVO Talks about My Top 10 List, Interviews Friends

This past week, WTVO Channel 17 and WQRF Fox 39 in Rockford joined the list of news outlets reporting on my “Top 10 Most Haunted Cities in Illinois” list. It was nice to see my hometown news picking up on the story, and they interviewed some familiar faces, including my good friends Steve Litteral and Kathi Kresol. Watch the video below.

Check out the whole story here.

KSHB Channel 41 Kansas City Highlights More Top 10 Lists

41KSHBWith so much media attention on my “Top 10 Most Haunted Cities in Illinois” list at Mysterious Heartland, it was refreshing to see a media outlet highlight some of my other lists. This time, the 41 Action News Staff consulted the “Top 10 Most Haunted Places in Kansas” for their article. Thanks, 41 Action News Staff!

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Is it the history? Or, is it the sheer horror of past tragedies? Whatever your reason for seeking out the scary, we have you covered.

Creepy in Kansas

We consulted an article on the website Mysterious Heartland for the Kansas locations. The sites range from haunted cemeteries to a library, where a ghostly lady stalks the stacks. READ: “Top 10 Most Haunted Places in Kansas” by Michael Kleen

Read the entire article here!