Oak Park trustee Dan Moroney faced community ire over his recent appearance on “Morning Answer with Dan Proft & Amy Jacobson,” a right-wing radio show (WIND-AM) where he discussed fellow Trustee Susan Buchanan’s recent board meeting rant, which caused Buchanan to become a target of vitriolic internet harassment. In front of a packed board room, 18 people addressed the board — Moroney in particular — in non-agenda public comments at the Oct. 21 meeting. Only one comment was made in his defense.
Many called on Moroney to resign, while others demanded he apologize for appearing on the show and further stoking the national attention Buchanan’s outburst generated.
“We are less safe because of a decision made by Trustee Moroney to inflame an already volatile situation not once, but twice,” said Steve Krasinsky. “Instead of distancing himself from the white supremacists terrorizing a member of this board, Trustee Moroney chose to further escalate the situation this week by appearing on a right-wing radio station to further damage her reputation.”
Many of the people who made public comments refused to give their last names, for fear that sharing that personal information would compromise their safety and make them a target for harassment.
Christine Ferno pointedly noted that her children are learning active listening in school at District 97. “I think everyone can tell who’s actively listening,” Ferno said to the board, while the audience cheered and chided Moroney, who avoided making eye contact with the speakers. “Eyes on the speaker; look up!” yelled an audience member to Moroney, who sat at the board table, red-faced.
“Mr. Moroney has been telling the public that public safety, all of our safety in this community, is important to him,” Ferno added, citing the oath that Moroney took to defend the Illinois State Constitution when he was elected trustee.
“I’m here holding Mr. Moroney responsible for his choices after hearing him on a recent podcast with a hate-talk radio host, not to mention his CBS interview,” said Ferno. In those appearances, she noted, Moroney neither advocated for equity nor demonstrated an understanding of the issue.
“What he did was volunteer himself as a martyr in his free-speech narrative and positioned himself as our community priority,” said Ferno, as the audience applauded. “We are less safe after the Moroney media tour.”
The marathon of public comments lasted over an hour, taking up most of the meeting time. After the verbal barrage ended, the board attempted to return to the agenda.
In a statement emailed to Wednesday Journal, Moroney said Oak Park has gone through a “tumultuous period that is regrettable” and that prior to the Oct. 21 meeting, he and Buchanan took a “constructive step by sitting down to discuss what has transpired and recognizing what unites us, rather than what divides us.”
The statement also addressed the threatening treatment Buchanan has received:
“I unequivocally condemn the hateful rhetoric that has been directed at her. No person should be judged by their worst moment, and I urge all residents to move beyond this incident and support Trustee Buchanan as she serves our community. Susan is a good person and is committed to making Oak Park a better place.”
The statement also said that residents elected board members to work on their behalf, which “can only happen when each of us brings our unique talents and perspectives, while fostering a culture of diversity of thought and the free exchange of ideas.”
Moroney reaffirmed his commitment to serving the people of Oak Park and working with his fellow trustees. He also said he had been approached by the studio and agreed to go on the controversial Dan Proft-helmed radio show as “an opportunity to provide context” on what happened with Buchanan.
“Talking to someone is not an endorsement of their world views, rather a free exchange of ideas and perspectives,” Moroney said. “I stand by everything I said on the show.”
Moroney also said he did not intend to further escalate the situation.
“I did not agree to go on the show to sensationalize any of the events that spurred the appearance, and I attempted to be very diligent in steering the segment toward a reasoned dialogue,” he said.