911 Board » District 4 (Crestwood) » Edgar County » Edgar County Board » Edgar County Sheriff Department » Edgar County State's Attorney » feature

Edgar Co. Sheriff not answering FOIA requests – hires secretary –

May 2, 2015   ·   13 Comments

image_pdfimage_print

Edgar Co., IL. (ECWd) –

Early in April we received word that the Sheriff had conducted interviews for the open secretarial position due to the retirement of the previous secretary.

In the interview process, the Sheriff invited Nanette Crippes, Edgar County Emergency Telephone System Director, “ETSB”, and Nancy Zeman, part-owner of the Prairie Press weekly paper, to assist in interviewing the candidates.

Nanette Crippes and the ETSB have no connection with, and is not employed with, the Edgar County Sheriff’s Department – which makes me wonder why she was part of the interview process.

Nancy Zeman, is not an employee or officer of Edgar County, and in my opinion, and especially as part-owner/writer for a local weekly paper, should never be part of the interview process for the Sheriff’s secretary. In her response to my questions, Nancy responded with “I was asked to join the interview process based on my experience as a business owner and longtime resident of Edgar County. Sheriff Wood was seeking to make the interview process more open, which I fully support.”

So this creates somewhat of a conflict with the “unbiased” reporting they have claimed in the past, but became apparently biased during the run-up to the November 2014 election cycle with the reporting of obviously manufactured disagreements between the ETSB and the Sheriff’s office – which vanished into thin air after the election.

Additionally, in order to determine exactly what went on during the interviews, I requested those records from the Sheriff’s office. The FOIA request is past the mandatory 5 day response time with no acknowledgement of when they will respond.

FOIA Issues

The Freedom of Information Act specifically addresses issues with non-officers and non-employees of public bodies and their access to records in Section 3(a). It states that “Notwithstanding any other law, a public body may not grant to any person or entity, whether by contract, license, or otherwise, the exclusive right to access and disseminate any public record as defined in this Act."

This applies in this situation where they have, thru not answering the FOIA request, granted Crippes and Zeman exclusive rights to access and disseminate those records involved in the interview process. Additionally, the Illinois Supreme Court has already determined that when a record is provided to any party outside the public body, it automatically becomes a public record under FOIA (unless another law specifically prohibits its release).

I will exercise Section 11 of FOIA next week and file a lawsuit in Edgar County Circuit Court to obtain access to those records.

Who was hired?

They hired as the secretary, Jamie Sturgell. She is the daughter-in-law of Terry Sturgell who writes a column on the Ag page in the Prairie Press and she is also the mother of Kathy Rhoads’ granddaughter. As Chamber director, Kathy Rhoads (former employee of the Paris Beacon News) makes it very apparent that she supports the Prairie Press. It just seems like the person they hired has a lot of ties to the Prairie Press, with the help of Zeman, which would make it hard for them to say that anything they report on regarding the Sheriff’s Department was unbiased. Additionally, she is the daughter of Keith Trogdon (Dist 4 school board) and niece of Kevin Trogdon (former Edgar County Board Member).

Please do not confuse this article as attacking Jamie Sturgell, because that is not the purpose of this article, it’s merely to point to what I consider flaws in the hiring process within Edgar County government and to inform the general public as to what they can most likely expect related to reporting on Edgar County Sheriff Department issues in the future..

EdCoSheriffDept

By

Readers Comments (13)

  1. Jinny says:

    Isnt supporting a local business part of being a Chamber Director? Nothing earth shattering about that.

     Reply
  2. ELAINE TODD says:

    IF YOU WANTED THE SHERIFF’S DEPARTMENT RAN YOUR WAY THEN WHY DIDNT YOU RUN FOR SHERIFF????????????

     Reply
    • jmkraft says:

      So using your logic, no one should ever complain or point out anything about any public body unless and until after they run for office? What kind of crazy statement is that?

       Reply
  3. chester says:

    my opinion was proven in the court of law and law said to pay

     Reply
    • jmkraft says:

      Like I stated in my previous comment, it was the “amount” the county board approved that I have the problem with.

       Reply
      • chester says:

        Good kraftsmithing it was about the sheriff not the board in the first place

         Reply
        • jmkraft says:

          The board doesn’t have the legal power to settle a lawsuit or claim against the Sheriff…oh wait, this is Edgar County, I guess they do…

           Reply
  4. chester says:

    Yes Some Things Never Change
    I knew that Mr kraft would sometime nit pick Jeffs decisions only It took longer than i expected.
    4 yrs of Mr Motley hardly anything by Mr Kraft . Mr Motley making a huge mistake in firing 2 deputies nothing said now someone is hired and wham .
    Great reporting

     Reply
    • jmkraft says:

      No problem. I asked Sheriff Wood for a comment and submitted a FOIA request. Did not receive an answer to either.

      That “huge mistake” is your opinion – my opinion is the county board made a huge mistake with their payments to those two.

      With the County Board hiring a proven liar for an airport manager, then the Sheriff using a resident with no county government affiliations in the hiring process, I thought it prudent to do an article about it.

       Reply
  5. Some Things Never Change says:

    This is exactly what I feared of Jeff Wood. He’s either ignorant of best practice & common sense decision making protocol, he’s gullible and easily manipulated by those who (if they wanted to) could use him, or the power of the sheriff’s department – or he knows exactly what he is doing and is a willing participant by his own consent. Talk about a bass ackwards hiring process..

    I don’t know the woman who was hired, so I’m not accusing her of any malicious or illegal intent. It could be anyone who had similar connections that she has. My point is, has anyone thought about the potential of having someone “planted” within the sheriff’s department ? At the least, what a potential boon for the Prairie Press. What if someone in the PP wanted to subvert proper channels, protocol, ethics, AND the law, and what if the new hire also wanted to subvert the process? What are the new hire’s other connections within the community – and to whom? To whom are Nancy and the others connected to? Without casting aspersions on anyone mentioned here or in the Watchdog article, does anyone see the potential for abuse beyond simply providing news leads to the PP? All of this doesn’t even address the Watchdog’s legal points made in he article.

    Why are people so ignorant to the potential for abuse of a position and the people’s privacy rights with a hire like this?

    And, again, I have to ask why the citizens would allow Jeff to allow something like this – or even open the door to the possibility by agreeing to allow non-governmental / non-sheriff’s department personnel to have a say or recommendation in who Jeff hires? Is he not able to make an intelligent and impartial decision? He’s the sheriff, for goodness sake.

    C’mon, Jeff. You are disappointing us – immensely ! We expect better of you.
    Get with the program, act like the sheriff, and run your department the way it should be run.
    Why did you do this – really?
    Stand up for your department and the citizens you swore to protect!

     Reply
    • LEE JOHNSON says:

      MR KRAFT I WILL ASK WHY DIDNT YOU RUN FOR SHERIFF SO YOU COULD DO EVERYTHING ” YOUR WAY” BECAUSE I AM SURE THAT IT WOULD THE RIGHT WAY.NO MATTER WHO GOT HIRED OR HOW IT WOULD NOT SUIT YOU.ISN’T THERE SOMETHING GOING ON AT DUPAGE COLLEGE THAT YOU NEED TO WORRY ABOUT.

       Reply
      • jmkraft says:

        You are just making me want to ask more questions…

         Reply




Please note: Comment moderation is enabled and may delay your comment. There is no need to resubmit your comment.