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Vandalism to Church Sign at First United Methodist Church Soon After Board Chair Announces Last Minute Run for Village Board Trustee

Mon February 06 2017 6:47 pm
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Arlington Heights police received a report about 12:25 AM Sunday of criminal damage to property at First United Methodist Church, 1903 East Euclid Avenue Arlington Heights, IL. Police received a report that an unknown offender or offenders threw blue paint onto the church’s sign. At the time of the police report it was unknown if the sign sustained permanent damage.

Although First United Methodist Church has had previous burglaries and criminal damage cases over the years, recent events have raised suspicion that the church may have been politically targeted. Recently Richard Baldino, who is also a board chair at the church, decided to run to oppose another candidate, Joe Favia, who was caught in a controversy on Facebook about a meme reacting to the 2017 Women’s March on Washington.

Richard Baldino told The Daily Herald he was encouraged to run by residents who opposed Joe Favia. A meme that was shared by Favia on his brother’s Facebook page was subsequently shared by a third party outside his personal space, and consequently a large number of people became critical of the meme. The meme is believed to have been created by another person — possibly the administrator of a politically conservative Facebook page that criticizes liberal and progressive politics at the national level.

Critics found the meme post a disrespectful post that involved “sexist, fat-shaming” of women, and called for Favia to withdraw from the local race. Multiple commenters in the comment section of a Daily Herald article on the topic condemned Favia on the basis of the meme. Several reviewers gave him 1-star in the review section of the official Facebook page for his dental practice, even though they were not patients of his dental practice. Some wrote they hoped he would lose his patients. The significant opposition for Favia resulted in his decision to withdraw from the local race for Village Trustee of Arlington Heights.

Supporters of Favia declared he is a caring person and not a sexist. Other supporters pointed out that the humor of the post evoked memories of the politics of former First Lady Michelle Obama’s food standards, and memories of the failure of her 2010 Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act (HHFKA). In 2010 and years following, the act’s school food regulations were criticized as “burdensome and unworkable,” and kids weren’t eating the foods.

Allegedly, Favia only remarked “Hilarious!” with the meme post. Favia didn’t mention any specific harmful words of his own regarding the physical characteristics of the women subjects in the meme’s photo. One woman in the meme appears to be morbidly obese, wearing a red baseball cap with the F-word in large bold letters across the front, has a defiant expression on her face, and carries a plastic Coca-Cola bottle half fill with a cola-colored drink. The other woman appears to be obese with no remarkable characteristics. Another woman is seen taking a picture of the two women from behind. There’s no proof that the word Hilarious!” referred to the appearance of the women or the political irony of Michelle Obama’s failed food regulations and the great calorie-burning turnout for the 2017 the Women’s March on Washington.

“We are concerned about his ability to objectively represent his entire constituency — in light of his disrespectful post — potentially half of the people who live in Arlington Heights,”

— Richard Baldino, a consulting environmental chemist and board chair of First United Methodist Church in Arlington Heights

While the majority of commenters expressed opinions against Favia in comment sections in three Daily Herald articles on the topic, a significant number criticized the self-righteous judgment of the “liberal left.”

One commenter pointed out the negative political tone in general in the United States, and used this incident as an example of over-reaction, especially by going after the dentist’s livelihood.

In addition to the Facebook controversy, there was also some mention of candidacy conflicts complicating the incident. Favia told the Daily Herald that he believes he became a target “because a few bullies on the playground are upset about the misunderstood events that allowed me to be on the ballot uncontested.”

Several people had been considering running for trustee but some said they decided not to, believing that all four incumbents were running for re-election. Incumbents Bert Rosenberg, Tom Glasgow, Jim Tinaglia, and Joe Farwell were running — a perceived formidable challenge. Some believe Farwell intentionally dropped out late in the application and signature process, which raised suspicion that the late announcement was announced to aid Favia’s chances without any opponents.

According to the Daily Herald, Lauree Harp, a community volunteer who often works on village political campaigns, said she and other residents planned to attend tonight’s village board meeting to call for Favia to withdraw from the race. Since Favia has since withdrawn, that is no longer necessary, but it has some wondering if political players exaggerated the meme controversy and resulting skewering of Favia to destroy his campaign.

So far police haven’t said whether they suspect the criminal damage at the church sign might be push back by anyone who may be generally upset with the results of the Facebook controversy or other perceived political shenanigans, or opposition to any specific comments that were made by Baldino. Of course, blue is the color that is associated with the Democratic Party, so splashing the church sign with blue paint could be an offender’s attempt to label the church as liberal or progressively biased. Traditionally, local politics on the surface in Arlington Heights have been non-partisan.

No damage was detected to any of the signs on church property on Monday afternoon.

The crime is reported to have occurred between Saturday, February 4, 2017 at 09:00 AM and Sunday, February 5, 2017 at 12:24 AM. The elapsed time range including the time the crime could have occurred is 15:24 (hours: minutes).

LIVE TRAFFIC MAP of neighborhood of criminal damage to property at First United Methodist Church, near 1903 East Euclid Avenue Arlington Heights, IL …

See also …

Daily Herald Some question Arlington Heights candidate’s social media post

“Some Arlington Heights residents are questioning a village board candidate’s recent social media postings they view as derogatory.” [NOTE: There was only one “post” or sharing of a meme; not plural as indicated by Daily Herald reporter Christopher Placek ]

Daily Herald Following social media post, Arlington Heights board race now contested

Daily Herald Favia cites ‘bullies,’ withdraws from Arlington Heights trustee race

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