Daily Archives: June 17, 2004

“Big Loser”

The item in the Chicago Reader (Defending Reagan, Forgetting Her Job) starts off simply enough.

AIDS came in and the cold war went out with the 80s. How you remember Ronald Reagan, who was president for most of that decade, could depend on which of those two great historic events touched you more profoundly.

Rick Garcia, political director of the gay rights group Equality Illinois, hasn’t joined in the national mourning. He happened to be in Springfield last Friday when a display of Reagan memorabilia was being dedicated in the capitol’s rotunda. The governor’s office had organized the display and set out a public memory book that eventually will be given to the Reagan library. With reporters and camera crews looking on, Governor Blagojevich wrote the first inscription.

Garcia had come to Springfield to help welcome the Rainbow Riders, two consciousness-raising lesbian grandmothers who’ve been biking across the country. Afterward he went over to the capitol to pick up a legislative directory and some newspapers. Passing through the rotunda, he noticed the Reagan display. The ceremony was over, and the crowd had dispersed. Garcia got in line behind a man and his two sons who were signing the memory book. When his turn came he wrote: “My memory of President Ronald Reagan: Thousands of American men, women and children were dying from HIV and AIDS during his administration. The president did nothing. The president said nothing. Not until the very end of his second term was he even able to utter the word ‘AIDS.’ Reagan’s silence and his administration’s policies contributed to the suffering and dying of thousands of men, women and children.”

Perfectly reasonable sentiments. And wasn’t it nice that Garcia was able to quietly put them down on paper, rather than stage a noisy demonstration which — given the circumstances — would have been (as we used to say before Politics became completely indistinguishable from mud-wrestling) “counterproductive.”

But that didn’t prevent someone else from demonstrating.

Noisily.

Two other people in the nearly empty rotunda had also decided to write in the book — Julie Staley, a reporter for WICS TV in Springfield, and Curt Claycomb, her cameraman. Having covered Blagojevich, they were headed to lunch, but before taking off they wanted to pay their respects. Staley says, “So I walked up there and waited for this guy taking an immensely long time. And I thought, ‘He must really love Ronald Reagan.’”
Garcia continued writing: “I mourn the president the way he mourned these men, women and children — with silence. May God forgive him, I can’t. Rick Garcia.” Then he went on his way.
Staley says, “I thought I’d sign right below him. I wanted to read what he wrote first. Oh my gosh! He totally defamed Ronald Reagan about his having no stand on the AIDS situation and HIV and all that. It was very cruel. It was inappropriate, and it made no sense whatsoever that he would do that. I was very incensed. I loved Ronald Reagan!”

Apparently to speak the truth about Ronald Reagan is to “defame” him. And that’s not to be countenanced by a woman whose “love” of the star of That Hagen Girl and She’s Working Her Way Through College is of paramount importance.

It’s not something she wants to discuss in any detail, but she says that over the years her grandparents, parents, and husband have given Reagan “a lot of support.” She fully shares their devotion. “I turned the page,” she says. “I said, ‘I’m not signing on that page.’ I wrote my thing, and the photographer wrote his thing. As we were getting ready to leave we saw a security guard walking up, and the photographer mentioned it to him. He said, ‘Some guy wrote something defamatory.’ You know, you don’t write hate messages in a public book.”

Well then maybe they shouldn’t have put out a book for people to write messages in to begin with.

Unless of course Staley’s suggesting that some sort of screening process should have been in place — making sure that all book-signers would offer praise and praise only.

Very Joe Stalin.

Just then, Garcia happened to walk back into the rotunda. He saw a guard, a TV reporter, and a cameraman gathered at the memory book. He heard the guard say, “Was it the guy with two kids?” and the reporter respond, “No. It’s signed ‘Rick Garcia.’” He headed toward them.
Staley says, “He walked up and looked puzzlingly at us.”
Garcia says, “She pointed at me and said, ‘There he is!’”

Very Invasion of the Body Snatchers

Staley says, “I said, ‘You’re entitled to your freedom of speech, but this is an inappropriate place to do that.’”

Meaning that she has no interest in freedom of speech — only the power to impose her speech.

Garcia e-mailed me his version of their confrontation. “She walked toward me and screeched ‘That is just tasteless and classless.’ She repeated ‘You are tasteless!’ I told her ‘Speaking the truth is not classless.’ The cop said ‘Why don’t you show some respect.’ ‘Why didn’t President Reagan show some respect?’ I replied and walked away. As I walked away the reporter shouted at me ‘You are classless, totally tasteless. You are a big loser.’ She repeated that a couple of times.”

“I don’t deny that I said that,” says Staley.

Why should she deny it? Bullies love to wield authority in public places.

“If she had just been there to sign the book and didn’t like what I had to say, fine, but she was reporting on the activities in the rotunda,” Garcia writes. “Any reporter worth her salt upon seeing a non-complimentary entry would look for other such entries and then seek those folks out because there is a story there.”

True. But in this instance Staley was her own story.

Staley says, “We were out of tape. We had nothing more we could shoot. This was our lunchtime. This was on my personal time. I wasn’t standing with a microphone in my hand. My equipment was set aside. I didn’t sign the book ‘Julia Staley, WICS.’ I signed the book as Julia Heil Staley, someone who loved Ronald Reagan.”

Really? Did you love him as much as Jane Wyman?

If you’d still been shooting tape, I ask Staley, would you have asked Garcia some questions?
“Oh, yeah, oh yeah, definitely,” she says.
Do you want to try to reach him in Chicago?
“I don’t want anything more to do with him.”

No surprise there. Bullies don’t like returning to the scene of the crime.

WICS news director Susan Finzen says, “She had a right to express her opinion. Why does he consider it all right for him to express his opinion but not her?”

Maybe because he wasn’t yelling at her about what a BIG LOSER she was for being in thrall to an Alzheimer’s-infected fascist.

Garcia writes, “I called the station to complain. I was told that someone would call me back. No one did. I called again and said that I wanted to submit a formal complaint and indeed I told the woman that I would not go away silently that I would pursue this. No one from the station has called. . . . In my thirty years of activism I have had many many occasions to have interaction with reporters. Never have I encountered such unprofessional behavior. I want to lodge an official complaint.”

Lotsa luck with that, son.

Staley responds, “At that moment I was not representing the station. I was there as a private citizen. My company’s backing me up on this. We’re all stunned it’s even an issue.”

Well you’re the one who made it an issue, bitch!

And that’s not at all surprising in light of who Julie Staley is in what’s thoughtlessly referred to as “real life.”

Julie Staley is the First News at Five anchor here at WICS-TV.
She comes to NewsChannel 20 from St. Louis, MO where she was the morning anchor at KDNL-TV.
She has also worked at KSDK-TV in St. Louis as the overnight anchor, WAND-TV in Decatur, IL as a reporter and fill-in anchor, the All News Channel in Minneapolis, MN as a producer, KCCP-TV in Kansas City, MO as an anchor, at WSIU-TV in Carbondale, IL as an anchor, reporter, and news director, and CNN, Atlanta, GA as a production assistant. Her on-air radio work includes WCIL-FM, WIBV-Cable, and WSIU-AM, all in Carbondale, IL. In 1991 and 1992 Julie worked in communication for Sprint in Kansas City, MO, where she was honored with the President’s Award for being among the company’s top employees in the country.
Julie received her MS degree in Mass Communications from Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville in 1997, with a 4.0 GPA. She received an award from the University for outstanding work on her thesis: Violence in Television News in St. Louis and Central Illinois Markets. Julie received her B.A. in 1988 from the top rated radio-television program at Southern Illinois University at Carbondale. She was also named the top student of 1988, being awarded the honor of “SIU Broadcast News Student of the Year,” as well as a university scholar, through the program Julie also studied radio and television broadcasting in London, England in newsrooms of the BBC and ITV.

Sounds pretty impressive, doesn’t it? Just keep reading.

Julie always knew she’d have a career behind a microphone. Her father, Bob Heil, owns the world’s largest amateur radio microphone manufacturer, where they also make broadcasting equipment. He also invented rock-n-roll’s revolutionary “Talk Box”, and is regarded as one of the world’s foremost authorities on audio and video systems, both private and commercial and is being put into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Because of his celebrity clientele, Julie gained an insight into the television industry at a young age.

In other word a pampered little Republican cunt who had everything handed to her on a silver platter from day one. No wonder she acts as if the Rotunda was her own living room.

Julie was recently awarded by the Heartland Continuum of Care for her excellence in reporting on issues facing Springfield’s homeless population and Julie received the 2003 News Reporting Award of Excellence and Feature Reporting Award for Excellence from the Association of Women in Communications.

That was awfully smart of Julie’s PR person. Get her associated with a “human interest issue.”

The Springfield Junior League honored her with the 2004 Media Award. She was also given the SPARC Media Service Award for 2002, the 2003 SPARC Appreciation Award for co-chairing their black tie fundraiser, and the United Cerebral Palsy’s Outstanding Community Partner Award. Julie serves on the Board of Directors for Land of Lincoln Goodwill.

Junior League — check.

Black-tie fund-raiser — check.

Goodwill Industries — check.

She was crowned Miss Majorette of Illinois in 1993 after fifteen years as an accomplished competitive baton twirler.

Just like Lee Remick in A Face in the Crowd !

She is a member of Our Savior’s Lutheran Church in Springfield and enjoys singing and volunteering for church and community efforts.
Julie is married to Mark Staley, great-grandson of the Chicago Bears original owner, A.E. Staley.

Great-granddad owned a team. The great-grandkid owns her. Six of one, half a dozen of the other.

But we’re getting away from the real issue here: AIDS.

I have lost so many friends and loved ones to AIDS

that sometimes I find it hard to recall who’s dead and who’s still alive

There are moments in the early part of the 1990’s that keep coming back to me

Luther haunts me especially for some reason. Such a vivid little person. Wasn’t I talking to him just the other day? No that was years ago. And he’s gone now. It’s all gone now.

And Reagan “helped.”

I keep playing it all back in my mind over and over again

as if there was nothing else to do but “bear witness’ in perpetuity.

Some of us are really good at that

Some of us are EVEN BETTER

But all contributions are welcome

especially from those with the ability to look toward the future

while others can scarcely bear to look anywhere at all.

As for the past it’s inextricably tied to Ronald Reagan. And that consequently leaves me darkly amused by an item in Cathy Seipp’s “City Beat” column about an allegedly Bright Young Conservative Thing named Rob Long.

Rob was bemused, during the Reagan funeral events last week, by how the press seemed flummoxed at the public outpouring of affection for the late president. “I was watching [CNN’s] Wolf Blitzer,” he said, “and you can see how these guys genuinely don’t understand why anyone’s out there standing in line. They don’t get what Reagan did. They don’t get that he ended the Cold War. They’re just trying to get through this ’til it’s over.”

Oh don’t worry Rob. Leslie doesn’t fail to “get” Reagan (who didn’t “win” the “cold war” by any stretch of the imagination.) He was just bored.

Nothing worse than a boring funeral.

I know.

I’ve been to quite a lot of funerals.

But then that would bring up a subject that doubtless bores you, Rob.

So get with the program, kid. Rush right out and beat up a Liberal.

You don’t want to be a Big Loser, do you?