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Ford-Iroquois Public Health Department -What did we find?.

March 18, 2013   ·   16 Comments

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IROQUOIS CO. (ECWd) –

The primary complaint we received was that the Multi-County, Ford-Iroquois Public Health Department (FIPHD), in Watseka, was spending money like it was growing on trees and there were serious allegations of insider deals, which is not an uncommon complaint we hear from just about every county asking us to help out, which happens to be a number that we simply can’t keep up with!

The secondary concern was a duplicate of what we found right here in Edgar County, as it relates to the Emergency Telephone System Board hiring a private attorney.  An act that is not legal!

As mentioned in our previous article found here, I submitted a FOIA request to the FICHD that can be seen here.  Over the past  several years we have learned what to look for both in what is sent and ignored, and in this case, credit card statements were ignored!  Second FOIA submitted that can be seen here.  After receiving selective information we sent two more requests, here and here.

The first thing that jumped out at me was the fact that the FOIA officer called me from a Southern Illinois phone number, which is nowhere near Watseka, Illinois.  Upon looking at contact information on their web site it’s clear the FAX machine is in Southern Illinois as well!

Primary things that jumped out in less than two hours of review!

  1. Jewelry Purchases (apparently so many that the providing of receipts was unduly burdensome and they requested we “narrow” our request to a manageable size.  How much jewelry did they purchase to be too burdensome to provide receipts?)
  2. Flower shop Purchases
  3. Multiple Gift Card Purchase
  4. Donations with tax dollars
  5. Amazon purchases
  6. Lots of Meal purchases
  7. Employee Dinner Parties spending as much as$1,518.25 in a single sitting. 
  8. Hotel Purchases
  9. No financial accounting for Raffles
  10. No Raffle License – (Most likely, they cannot legally run a raffle)
  11. $130K in Solar Panel purchases (DCEO Funds)
  12. No minutes recording bid results
  13. No minutes awarding the contract for solar panels
  14. Public Meetings at restaurants (meetings must be held in public building)
  15. Health Department self appointment of board members (County Board responsibility)
  16. Bids sent must be emailed in for the solar project (no way to seal those!)
  17. Bid notice in paper only offered 2 days before bid closure
  18. Bid notification required specific name of product (violation of statute)
  19. They don’t have any copies of bids received.
  20. Contract awarded to Day & Night Solar
  21. Contract signed was for CMS Renewables
  22. Payment made to CMS Renewables!
  23. DCEO Sends letter the DAY AFTER bids closed reporting they received the solar rebate application?
  24. Approval of claims as much as 6 months in advance! (November minutes)
  25. Approval of over $1.4 Million Dollars in claims without a quorum!

It didn’t take long to to see there is definitely a problem with what is going on as it relates to spending.  Once you figure out the spending you have to look at who is doing the spending and tie those puzzle pieces together.  The key to that is to read the minutes!

The biggest issue that stuck out is the Solar Panel Purchase, the company that received the bid, and the company that got paid for it as it relates to who works for the very office doing the purchasing.

Day & Night Solar LLC – FEIN: 27-0197669(corrected) – (Solar Contract Winner)

  • Julie Clark- Officer (she is the FOIA officer and Public Information Officer for the health department)
  • Stanly Clark – Husband of Julie Clark – Officer

CMS Renewable’s Inc. FEIN – 36-4079831 – (Paid for Contract won by Day & Night Solar)

  • Julie Clark- Officer (she is the FOIA Officer and Public Information Officer for the Health Department)
  • Stanly Clark – Husband of Julie Clark – Officer

Best Building Systems Inc. – FEIN: 36-4079831

  • Julie Clark – Officer (she is the FOIA officer and Public Information Officer for the health department.

Strictly Business Inc.  – FEIN: 36-4079831

  • Julie Clark – Officer (she is the FOIA officer and Public Information Officer for the health department.

(3 different companies all with the same tax ID! #)

Correction!

(Day & Night Solar has a separate tax ID # )

I failed to include a 4th company so it was included in this correction.  Excluding Day & Nigh Solar, the other three companies are all the same tax ID # because of name changes over the years starting with Best Building first(1996-2004), then changed to Strictly Business(2004-2011), and finally becoming CMS Renewals as of April 2011.  

Who is Julie Clark?

  • She is the County Health Planner
  • Tobacco Coordinator for the FIPHD
  • Director of Planning and Corporate Development
  • Public Information Officer
  • Freedom of Information Officer

Question for Ms. Clark: How do you work for a County Public Health Department in Watseka, Illinois when by all indications you operate out of Maryville, IL.?  (225 Miles apart, ONE WAY!)

With all those titles you would think she would have filled out an Economic Disclosure Statement but turns out she has not!  Not all that different than past public officials in this county.  You may recall our past Sheriff didn’t fill one out for several years!

She is also the sister to Deanna Lustfeldt who was convicted of embezzlement from the Watseka Bank in the US District Court in Urbana.  Her defense attorney, Lawrence Beaumont, a former federal prosecutor, argued that mental disorders caused her to commit her crime.   She currently works at the Iroquois Mental Health Center! (Gazette article here)

Who is Deanna Lustfelt? (Indictment Here) (Judgment Here)

Wife of Iroquois County Circuit Judge Gordon Lustfeldt!

It appears to be quite the family operation in parts of Iroquois County and the Health Department minutes even adopted the policy to be able to hire family members.

We have asked for a copy of their personnel policy and ethics rules but were told that request is to unduly burdensome.

We are continuing to compile more information as each FOIA leads to more disturbing facts.  A quote from the local news paper would indicate they concur there is a problem.

“According to state statutes, “any member (of a multi-county board of health) may be removed for misconduct or neglect of duty by the chairman or president of the county board, with the approval of the county board, of the county which appointed him.”

We have been in regular  contact with officials in Iroquois County, and are elated that our brief efforts of assisting those who reached out for our help, have taken appropriate steps so quickly that are leading to fixing the problem and from what we understand, possibly future prosecution for numerous alleged criminal acts by public officials!

Amazing to us is the fact that in less than 2 months, investigations are underway, board removals taking place, and potentially prosecutions will come.  All from just a few hours of looking at transaction histories and pointing out red flags for further investigation!

More amazing to me is how nothing gets done in this county with over 2 years of documenting basically the same type of activities!

Today the Iroquois County Board Chairman provided us this Press Release. The County Board took its first step of removing County Health Department board members!  We appreciate him recognizing our efforts in assisting accountability to all our government bodies!

FIPHDadministrator

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Readers Comments (16)

  1. Andy H says:

    Very, very convincing on behalf of the watchdog organization by the length and uses os exclamation marks in DH’s comments below. This corruption and the names involved are no surprise, time to clean house.

     Reply
  2. DH says:

    Gentlemen, I can’t wait until the truth comes out about all the so called ITEMS you have tried to smear the Health Department with. They have done nothing but try to save the taxpayers money, and you come along and pull this! All because our brilliant County Board Chairman doesn’t like the leader of the health department. You know what I think is funny? You guys claim to know it all, but you were 100% wrong when you said that they didn’t have a quorum with 4 members at their meeting, and thats incorrect! read your statutes! They only need 4 when there are only 7 voting members at the time! That was mistake number 1! Then Mr. Kraft in your statement to them on your recording, you stated that if they continue talking about public matters with no quorum that that is illegal. That too is incorrect. read your statutes! They can discuss anything they want by law, they just can’t vote! Now, not having the agenda was wrong, However, I find it interesting that you Mr. Kraft, and our lovely county board chairman Mr. Copus said that it has to be posted on the building where the meeting is being held. That too is incorrect! Read your statutes!! Mr. Copus says that he drove by and didn’t see the agenda, so he kept going! That shows how much he knows, and cares about this whole situation.If he was smart, since appointing himself to the Health Board, he would have gone to the meeting regardless, but his arrogance doesn’t allow him to do so! Not to mention that the agenda not being on the outside of the building meant nothing! If you want to be the awesome investigators you say you are, then why don’t we investigate Mr. Copus and the County board. How bout the lawn mowers that were sold, and bought by Kyle Andersons (Copus’s right hand man) father in law. Also, how about the county hiring freeze, and the fact that Mr. Copus hired a secretery for himself! And don’t even get me going on Mr. Copus’s personal financial situation! That will come out in due time I assure you! How, when asked by a fellow county board member, why a committee didn’t interview the 2 new candidates for the health board, can our County Board Chairman say that “this is a special circumstance”!! He cannot just do what he wants. But he does. And for whatever reason, we have some county board members that go along with his every move. It will bite them, as it will the county when all is said and done! And my last point is this. For years, the Health Department has been audited not once a year, but twice. Once by an agency that they have hired, and once by the agency that the County Board uses. And all this time, there has never been an issue at all!!! We are talking years and years, by either auditing firm. Mr. Copus has said that there are issues, along with yourself, but yet neither of you can get the Ford County Board to agree with you! That explains it all. It is a witchhunt, and nothing else. The sad part is, you are smearing good peoples names along the way. Including doctors who serve on the board, and people that have given of their time for years to help the 2 counties. It cracks me up about the jewelry purchases, and hotels. Wait until you find out what those are. You should have done your homework before you started your smear campaign! And why do none of the local papers not run any of your stories down your way gentlemen. Don’t worry, we all know why!!!!! I’m all for making sure our local Government is on the up and up, but there is a right way and a wrong way to go about it. Even when you have records in front of you, you don’t know what they are for, so I can’t wait until the truth comes out! Remember, if 2 auditors found nothing for years, what makes you think you have!! You will find out! And so will the good people of this County. And then maybe everyone will see Copus for the fraud, and cheat, and power hungry person that he is!! And please make sure you guys are up on your statutes if you are going to post them on your site, and call people on them every chance you get!!!

    We answered this here: http://edgarcountywatchdogs.com/2013/03/comment-from-iroquois-county/

     Reply
    • JD8850 says:

      One of the people posting comments here stated that the auditors found no wrongdoing. I would like to point out that each year the State of Illinois audits Illinois grain elevators who buy grain from farmers. Both Watseka Farmers Grain Co. and the Crescent City elevator failed because of illegal activities by management. None of this was exposed by the audits before the elevators’ failure. And this happens over and over with Illinois grain dealers. Please don’t put too much stock in the results of an audit.

       Reply
  3. Jeff says:

    thanks

     Reply
  4. Kirk Allen says:

    They have refused to give us the information on Julie Clarks compensation.

    The health department budget for 2013 is $2,864,562.00

     Reply
    • jmkraft says:

      Julie Clark’s complete compensation package is: $65,853.36

       Reply
  5. How much does the board pay Julie Clark for her services? What is the budget for the health dep. and how does it compare to other counties?

     Reply
    • jmkraft says:

      We are working on obtaining that information and will post another article when it becomes available.

       Reply
    • jmkraft says:

      Her compensation package is: $65,853.36

       Reply
  6. What happened to Journalism?//// says:

    What happened to investigative reporting? Now journalist sit on their keester and wait for the talking points to come from their local Government. You know there have been rumors about all the above and it took someone several counties away to bring it to light. Everyone should un-subscribe from the BeaConfused and the local paper in Ford-Iroquois County. With no money coming in maybe they would start looking for problems instead of sticking their heads in the sand and partying with all the politicians.

     Reply
    • jmkraft says:

      I don’t think it’s lazyness or just sitting around waiting, but rather the problem of being beholden to their advertisers. Fear of reprisal from advertisers does and will determine what is covered and how it is covered. This is most common in smaller communities.

       Reply
    • jmkraft says:

      I don’t think it’s lazyness or just sitting around waiting, but rather the problem of being beholden to their advertisers. Fear of reprisal from advertisers does and will determine what is covered and how it is covered. This is most common in smaller communities.

       Reply
  7. Iroquois County Resident says:

    Thank you thank you thank you. We in Iroquois county have been ‘blessed’ with this corruption for years.

     Reply
    • jmkraft says:

      Your County Board and State’s Attorney deserve all the thanks for this, we simply provided information…

       Reply
    • mike ralph says:

      One thing that isn’t accurate is that the credit goes to the States Attorney. He is just hanging on to the County board’s tail. I gave an article to the Times Republic from the Kankakee Journal about an Iroquois County man. The times republic says we have to check with the police first. It was never printed, because of him being connected. Please tell me how we can show more of this corruption. Red Flags my butt, we should paint all the police cars red. Don’t come to Watseka and jump in front of a train, if you know what I mean.

       Reply
    • mike ralph says:

      We are slaughtering the Lustfeldts again! But does anyone see a similarity in names with the sheriff? Who also got his dad a job. Mr. Devine manage to put down Judge Lustfeldt on a criminal he let loose. But does anybody ask Mr. Devine how many plea bargains he does. I heard someone say that the Iroquois County States Attorney wont prosecute a sexual abuse case in front of a jury. Is he afraid of losing? We dont need Watchdog We need a Law Abiding citizen

       Reply




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