Free the Mitchell transcript

The Madison County Record Apr. 15, 2007, 10:00am

Fairview Heights Mayor Gail Mitchell has some nerve asking a federal court to hide files of a very public class action lawsuit-- one he himself filed on behalf of each and every one of us-- from we the people's view.

Obviously mortified that he thought to team up with the now-besmirched Lakin Law Firm, among other dandies, to sue popular travel web sites like Orbitz, Expedia, Travelocity, Hotwire and over allegedly underpaid city hotel taxes, Mitchell is now running hard for cover. With just days until voters head to the polls, he's trying to pretend this frivolous class action crusade he initiated never even happened.

Or is he? Is it actually possible that the mayor of Fairview Heights, 16,074 strong, sued without a clue? Might it be true that Mr. Mitchell, esteemed public official that he is, deserves mention alongside Ashley and Armettia Peach as just another know-nothing, put-up cipher purposed solely to help a few enterprising lawyers pursue big game class action riches?

It's hard to imagine a sitting mayor would be foolish enough to volunteer himself for such a task. But we have to wonder, hearing plaintiff's attorney Kevin Hoerner do his bidding in court this week, begging U.S. Magistrate Judge Donald Wilkerson to seal a transcript of Mayor Mitchell's March 9 deposition in the lawsuit so voters cannot get their hands on it.

Hoerner's rationale: "The mayor has stated legitimate concerns regarding the improper use of (his) testimony in the upcoming municipal elections."

That's as rich as it gets, coming from a public official giving a deposition in a public, taxpayer-funded court proceeding he himself instigated on his constituents' behalf.

We're not sure what's precisely so embarrassing about Mayor Mitchell's performance under lawyer questioning on that fateful winter day that he would so scramble to keep it from public view. But seeing him in such a tizzy, we just cannot wait to find out all the groovy details.

And don't you worry-- the minute we do we'll tell each and every one of you all about it.

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