Appeal from the Circuit Court of St. Clair County; the Hon.
Thomas P. O'Donnell, Judge, presiding.
JUSTICE WELCH DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT: Rehearing denied January 18, 1983.
This case arose as an action in the circuit court of St. Clair County to recover damages for the publication of an alleged libel. The plaintiff, chairman of the St. Clair County Board, brought suit against Capital Cities Media, Inc., publisher of the Belleville News Democrat and Richard N. Hargraves, an editorial writer for that newspaper. The trial court sustained a motion to dismiss the complaint and entered judgment for the defendants. Plaintiff has appealed.
On December 31, 1980, the following editorial appeared in the Belleville News Democrat:
"COSTELLO BLEW HIS FIRST CHANCE
Jerry Costello lied to us.
There's no nicer way to put it; he simply lied.
And, when he lied to us, he lied to you.
He said he was going to be a tough county board chairman, especially when board members wanted to spend taxpayers' money.
He said he would militantly oppose the implementation of any new tax without first seeking the voters' approval through a referendum.
He said he would lead the County Board down the proper paths, protecting the rights of the taxpayers.
He didn't do any of those things Monday night, thereby breaking his most sacred campaign promise at his very first meeting.
The County Board had an opportunity to conduct a binding referendum, asking you if you wanted to pay a new sales tax to support the Bi-State bus system. That's the very thing Costello had pledged he would do. He had promised, in the strongest possible terms, that he would let the voters decide.
But when the time came to make a decision, he was up there sitting on his gavel.
You couldn't tell him from any other politician in the bunch. He did absolutely nothing to protect your interests.
To say we're disappointed is too mild; we're irate. We supported Costello's election because of what he said to us. We told you what he said and how we thought he was different from the ...