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'Not living in a Pollyanna world

Seven years ago, when things took a turn for the worst in Iraq, the Bush administration blamed the media for the gloom. Too much focus on the bombings and war casualties, so the line went.

Even first lady Laura Bush joined the chorus.

“I do know that there are a lot of good things that are happening that aren’t covered. And I think that the drum beat in the country from the media, from the only way people know what is happening … is discouraging," she told MSNBC.

In down times, politicians of all stripes like to point the finger at the media. Funny, we never seen to catch heck from those in charge when we portray the situation better than reality.

As of late, Dixon Mayor Jim Burke is lamenting the focus on the negative. Since April 2012, he's had to deal with the revelation that then-city Comptroller Rita Crundwell made off with $54 million in city funds. More recently, he saw Dixon's de facto city manager swallowed up in a credit card scandal.

Last month, Sauk Valley Media's editorial board published an editorial calling Dixon's commission form of government broken.

Burke responded in a guest column.

"It is oftentimes easy for all of us to focus on immediate problems and not see the forest for the trees," he wrote.

He urged readers to look at the big picture and some of the significant events that have occurred in Dixon through the efforts of many – "events that occurred during the management of municipal government by the so-called broken commission form."

He then listed 60 local accomplishments.

"In summary, I submit to you, dear readers, in spite of Rita Crundwell, Dixon is one of the most progressive cities in Illinois, and one we can be proud to call home."

In a recent column in the Sauk Valley Sun, a monthly publication, he noted that its every guest contributor had a positive story.

"As I read on, I kept looking for negative stories with a complaint," he wrote. "I kept turning the page and and thinking there had to be some negative articles but to no avail... It's as though negative stories are not allowed."

At the same time, he admitted that "we are not living in a Pollyanna world."

"Bad news and negative events are part of life and must be reported," he said. "However, a daily drumbeat of bad news has to take a toll on our attitudes. It is so refreshing and uplifting to read nothing but good and positive news in the Sauk Valley Sun."

In truth, Burke has been surprisingly open in the wake of the scandals. Many leaders would have have retreated to the bunker long ago. Indeed, longtime City Council member David Blackburn has done just that, declining most interviews in the post-Crundwell era.

In an interview, Burke said he is probably "the most positive person you'll run into."

"That's my nature. I'm for handling problems and putting them behind you. Problems present opportunities. That's my mindset," he said. "Until my last breath, I will carry on with whatever I'm doing. I'm not the kind of person to throw the towel in."

David Giuliani is a reporter for Sauk Valley Media. He can be reached at dgiuliani@saukvalley or at 800-798-4085, ext. 525. 

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