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Best Gadfly St. Louis 2013 - Bill Hannegan

A prolific digester of local media and an even more prolific letter writer, Bill Hannegan rapidly responds to the news — and sometimes drives it. Regularly e-mailing detailed feedback, analysis and polite critiques to reporters all over town, he sure knows how to nag, and at the same time feed, journalists with custom tips on everything from a crumbling north St. Louis property to a tiny but controversial detail in a county-council proposal. He'll praise you when you get it right and make sure you know when you've got it wrong. Most known for his Keep St. Louis Free blog (, he keeps a close eye on smoking bans locally and across Missouri, frequently making his opposition known to politicians and reporters alike. And he does not shy away from the controversial: His latest cause is publicly defending a St. Louis priest accused of child molestation whom he strongly believes to be innocent.

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snapclohessy topcommenter

Bill does indeed claim that Fr. Joseph Jiang is innocent. But he also made the same claim about Fr. Robert Osborne. And Osborne's Catholic supervisors - with the Marianists and the St. Louis archdiocese - refuse to put him back on the job after he was sued for child sex crimes. That suit settled. 

Bill makes lots of unsubstantiated claims that deter child sex abue victims from speaking up, exposing molesters, contacting police and protecting other kids. Being a gadfly is one thing. Being a bully who hurts those already hurt by child molesters is something else.

avid Clohessy of St. Louis, Director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (314 566 9790,


I couldn't have said it better, Michael.  It seems these days if you speak up for what you know is right, fight for property rights or freedom to associate OR FREEDOM OF SPEECH, you're demonized.  Anti-tobacco has tons of money, supplied from the very people who make the patches and gum or groups like the American Cancer Society who is partnered with Alere Wellbeing who has 27 state contracts for quitlines (and generated over $9,000,000 in revenue in 1 year from quitlines) - people PROFIT from smoking bans - Mr. Hannegan fights with no resources other than his honesty and integrity.  Sometime go to and search "tobacco-free", "smoke-free" and "obesity" and see how much stimulus money has gone to illegally lobby for bans, increased taxes, etc.: Mississippi $2,989,999 - North Carolina $1,222,241 - County of Los Angeles $16,184,860 - Michigan $1,299,666 and more.  It's hard to fight against big money.  Then there's the CDC who announced the outcome of the economic impact of smoking bans on bars and restaurants before the study even started (announced in the same press release announcing the upcoming studies).  TRUTH is stifled, and people who fight to present the real facts are, well...written about just like Mr. Hannegan was - trying to paint him as a "gadfly".  This country needs more "gadflies" like Mr. Hannegan. 


I've known Bill for a good number of years on the smoking ban battlefront, and two things I've always admired about him are his honesty and his willingness to take an unpopular position when he believes it's the right thing to do.   I know nothing about the particular case involving the priest, but I do know that coming to anyone's defense in a case like that, no matter HOW innocent they are, is as difficult as coming to the defense of an accused Communist was back in the 1950s.

Bill, keep on Gadflying!  It's too bad more people don't get involved in causes they believe in and devote energy to them... the world would be a better place.

Michael J. McFadden
Author of "Dissecting Antismokers' Brains" (Which explains my past connection with Bill: he and I have fought in the same front line trenches against "the big boys" for a good long time.)

P.S.  I have no idea why I'm getting a "1" stuck on my name here.  :/


Thank you very much! Really nice of you!


@snapclohessy Who is the bully here

Mr. David Clohessy - Repeatedly declares Fr. Joseph guilty in the public realm (doing away with innocent till proven guilty).  Repeatedly states that there are more victims out there, despite no evidence of this (even words his comments so the public will think there are more victims out there, a sort of confirmation of guilty).  Covered up a co-worker how had abused children, ironically as a member of a group that claims to put protecting children as their #1 concern.  Withheld evidence that would show a priest to be innocent, even after ordered to release said evidence by the supreme court.  Repeatedly presumes priests to be guilty until proven innocent (and still assumes guilt when they are proven innocent).

 Mr. Bill Hannegan - Repeatedly states he believes Fr. Joseph is innocent, and simply requests the public wait till all the evidence is released to formulate their own opinions.

So ... who are we calling the bully?


@snapclohessy, I have been kind, civil and polite towards everyone. I simply have argued that Fr. Joseph is innocent.