Joshua Schipp, 6th Ward alderman, said recently that only the Dispatch/Argus/QCOnline and the Quad City Times should be considered legitimate sources of information for Rock Island residents, and his constituents should not read other publications.
In an editorial posted on QCOnline.com, he blasted Rock Island Today and what he estimates to be its 20 sister publications as "a propaganda tool that is cleverly disguised as a legitimate media publication." Schipp claims the publication has ties to Gov. Bruce Rauner.
“This strikes me as a person that doesn’t know much about newspapers,” former state Rep. Richard Morthland told the Rock Island Today. “Only someone that is an enemy of the first amendment would think that having more free speech and sources of news is a bad thing for the public at large.”
Schipp further accused Rauner of funding the organization that controls the publications.
“Anyone not a friend of First Amendment is not suited to be in public office,” Morthland added. “It gives us freedom to express and share thoughts, freedom to address our government as need be. For someone to hold public office and not have internalized that is mind boggling.”
This isn’t the first time Schipp has known major controversy.
Prior to assuming office, the Augustana College graduate posted at least one message to Facebook where he blatantly used a racial slur to describe black people.
"Hey did you (racial slur) check out my discussion yet?" Schipp posted during a discussion about marijuana smoking.
Schipp recently attributed those incendiary words to him being “immature” and added that those sentiments are no longer representative of his inner-most feelings.
"It's something that happened in a period of my life that I was not thinking about public office at all,” Schipp told QCOnline.com. “Give me a chance to speak with you right now. Needless to say, that is not how I feel today at all. I am extremely regretful that I did that. It shows, at that point, I was really immature."
Schipp is up for re-election in May 2019 when it may be necessary for him to face members of the press that he considers to be unfriendly.
Morthland is unsure how involved he might be in any effort to oust the alderman.
“We have to be patient and see how this plays out,” he said. “I’ve prided myself on working with everyone for the good of the county, no matter our differences. At this point, if there is an actual movement, I guess I have to listen to what is being said.”
Editor's note: A previously published version of this story incorrectly listed Morthland as a current state representative. We have corrected this, and regret the error.