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Lerna, IL.: Conflicts of Interest with Mayor, Employee, Trustee –

August 25, 2015   ·   27 Comments

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Lerna, IL. (ECWd) –

We have been receiving tips from Lerna residents for at least two years now, and decided there was enough information to attend a Lerna village trustee meeting.

In July of 2015 we attended the trustee meeting in Lerna, which is a village due south of the Coles County Regional Airport. During the meeting, we explained that the Mayor had an incurable conflict with his job as the Village of Lerna full-time maintenance supervisor. This is a conflict of interest and had been ongoing, admittedly, for years, possibly more than a decade.

Additionally, the Mayor had filed a false Statement of Economic Interest in which he failed to include his income from the village, where he made more than $1200 last year. I asked him to refile a correct SEI, but am unaware at this time if that was ever filed.

At the same meeting, a village trustee motioned and made the case to increase the maintenance supervisor’s compensation by $200 per month – and then a subsequent vote to pay that same trustee for mowing grass on the repossessed properties AND have the village pay her to do that. I asked them to quit paying for that conflict of interest and either find another person to mow the yards or ask the trustee to resign. There is no other option.

Hearing nothing, we attended the August meeting to see if anything had, or was about to, change. Everyone was present except for the Mayor/Maintenance supervisor (who had a family emergency to take care of). The attorney did acknowledge that she agreed with the assessment of the conflicts of interest, and I noticed she had a blank Statement of Economic Interest with her.

There was no indication of what the mayor’s intent would be, so we will be at the September meeting to find out. Sixty days is more than enough time to figure out you need to resign due to conflicts of interest.

It is entirely possible that nobody in the village knew there was a conflict since it has been ongoing for so long, but that does not excuse its continuing into the future.

Lerna-Mayor

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Readers Comments (27)

  1. Lerna resident says:

    Don’s a good guy, but follow the law. Simple.

     Reply
  2. Village Resident says:

    I agree Don is a great guy and works hard for the Village. But it seems clear that a law is being broken. Watchdogs and Village attorney have stated so. Also I read several comments where people are blaming the person who lost the election. I also heard a few other names thrown around at the meeting. Watchdogs said they have known this for 3 yrs. Kinda rules out the theory of the person who lost the election. As far as the person mowing the yard (not yards) it is a house on Main St. that is being forclosed on. Last summer it was mowed once by someone the bank hired. It looked awful (being on Main St.) plus there were snakes, racoons and such hiding in there. Also a problem for the village and the people living near by. To the best of my knowledge it was determined that a person could earn less than $1200 a year from the village and be an elected official. They earn less than that for mowing. If that against the law it needs changed. We are a nation of laws and need to abide by them.

    I support following the law and if that means Don cannot be both Mayor and work for the village and the board member cannot mow and be paid that needs to stop also. I have to follow the law so should others. The house on Main looked so much better this summer and Don does an excellent job, but the law is the law.

     Reply
  3. Citizen says:

    A provision of the Illinois open meetings law states that “any person may record the proceedings at meetings required to be open by this Act by tape, film or other means.” The statute goes on, however, to say that the authority holding the meeting shall make “reasonable rules to govern the right to make such recordings.” 5 Ill Comp. Stat. 120/2.05 (scroll down).

    For information on your right of access to public meetings, please consult the Access to Government Information section of the guide and The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press’s Open Government Guide: Illinois.

     Reply
    • jmkraft says:

      I am not going to argue about my right to record a public meeting. If you still insist I did not have the right, please call the Sheriff’s Department and file a criminal complaint against me. Simple as that.

       Reply
    • Fed Up! says:

      You need to read a little further …. You are not correct ! Omg you people seem so uneducated

       Reply
  4. Frank says:

    I hear the meeting went well, but sneaking around and taping the meeting is illegal. Why is it OK for you guys to break the law. We are not a bunch of idiots you can push around. You two sound like Jessie and al. Trying to stir shit all over. Stay out of our village. We don’t want your input. Frank

     Reply
    • jmkraft says:

      Yes, it went very well.
      The village attorney even stated again, that she had informed the Mayor it was a conflict, and she told everyone there it was her opinion that it is a conflict.
      The was no “sneaking around and taping the meeting” and it is not illegal to tape a public meeting – no need to “get permission” and no need to inform. It was in the open, sitting on my leg for everyone to see, AND:

      720 ILCS 5/14-3 – ARTICLE 14. EAVESDROPPING
      Sec. 14-3. Exemptions. The following activities shall be exempt from the provisions of this Article:
      (e) Recording the proceedings of any meeting required to be open by the Open Meetings Act, as amended;

      So as you can see, we broke no law, we will be back, and we will provide input.

       Reply
    • Fed Up! says:

      Speak for yourself ! Some of us have been living with this BS for long time! I welcome the fact that someone is ” stirring up shit” and making sure the Village is following rules of the law and not some they just make up. I bet if a resident of Lerna was breaking the law , they would be the first to jump on them! They need to get a complete new board! Some with the interest of the people and not for their own welfare ! Several board members are like this not just the major , who by the way should lead by example . Slum Lord Patty is also out for herself . can u imagjne these people in office in any other town .

       Reply
  5. Jeremy easton says:

    I myself am glad this is happening and don’t even live in lerna you people are funny double standard much no one can have two conflict of interest in a job what if president was also vice OMG then all you would be all over that no difference but small town that was getting away with it period their all done now with pictures, proof, and pudding time to remove em and make lerna a better place
    And I have posted my real name with no worries at all 🙂

     Reply
  6. Jeremy easton says:

    Bs they have been talking about it and Mr easton even told state attorney years ago about it

     Reply
  7. L. Tucker says:

    I totally agree with the other comments! Sounds like you folks from Edgar County need to stay in your own county and mind your own business. Don works extremely hard every day taking care of this village and for that we are extremely thankful. Don goes above and beyond his expected duties for everyone here. You are trying to start a war over something as small as $400 and sully the reputation of a fine man! That is totally inexcusable. As far as the trustee and mowing is concerned, it would be most helpful if you would get your facts straight before you put it in print. And by the way…..whoever left the notice in town………the village name is LERNA……Not Lena!!

     Reply
    • jmkraft says:

      What you are failing to recognize is the fact that no matter how much good he does, he cannot hold both jobs. It violates the law and is totally inexcusable.
      I don’t know what “notice” you are talking about.

       Reply
      • L. Tucker says:

        And what business is it of yours????? Maybe you should try removing the plank from your own eye before trying to remove it elsewhere….

         Reply
        • jmkraft says:

          no plank in my eye, trying to remove the wool from over yours…

           Reply
  8. Amy bateman says:

    THIS IS RIDICULOUS! ! I’VE ONLY LIVED HERE FOR 3 YEARS, BUT DON GOES OVER AND BEYOND FOR LERNA!! I HAVE A QUESTION…WHAT THE HELL DOES IT MATTER TO YOU?? OO I’M SURE THIS HAS SOMETHING TO DUE WITH THE OTHER OPPONENT LOOSING!! GET A LIFE..LET IT BE..AMD MIND YOUR OWN BUSINESS INSTEAD OF TRYING TO RUIN SOMEONE ELSES.

     Reply
    • jmkraft says:

      You don’t have to YELL at us. The law is clear that he cannot hold both jobs. If you don’t like the law, change it. It has become clear that he does not want to give up either job, but the fact is, if it goes to court because he refuses to resign, Court precedent is clear in that the taking of an incompatible office automatically forfeits the previous office – meaning, by taking his oath of office as Mayor again, he automatically forfeited his position a maintenance supervisor.

       Reply
    • Fed Up! says:

      I have lived in Lerna mostbof my life and Lerna has went completely down hill. People need to think about their tax dollars and where they are going ! People should care about the future of Lerna for their children. So make the people follow the rules and board members can do what they want ?? Yeap sounds ligit to me! This is the small minded people like this that makes Lerna look pathetic, trashy and undesireable

       Reply
  9. Frank Ferris says:

    This is nothing more than a witch hunt!

     Reply
    • jmkraft says:

      Stating a fact is a witch hunt?

       Reply
  10. Frank Ferris says:

    I agree with you Cassandra. You forgot the part about one of the people that is trying to get Don removed could not furnish any information about water bills and money that disappeared from the Lerna treasury a few years ago. That person was lucky they were not put in jail. Don has been doing a great job for 15 years. Just because his opponent didn’t win. The few are trying to get him in as mayor. That would be a big mistake. He does own a business that would be in conflict. Why does a couple of guys in another county have any interest in our county. The only way they get there info is one of the board members gives them the minutes of the village meeting just to stir up shit. Stay in your own county and let us defend ours. You input is not recognized here anyway.
    Concerned Village resident Frank Ferris

     Reply
    • jmkraft says:

      – For starters, I do not know who is trying to get Don removed, except for me since Don is illegally claiming the office.
      – I didn’t watch the election, so know nothing about any candidates
      – We go all over the state when we find things wrong, check out where we’ve been at: http://edgarcountywatchdogs.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/PlacesIllinois.jpg
      – There are plenty of ways to get info other than from board members and minutes
      – I don’t think I ever asked for you to “recognize” our input. The facts will stand for themselves, he is in violation of law and can either resign or wait to get served.

       Reply
    • Fed Up! says:

      Yeah what about those water bills….. Maybe its me but wasn’t this person also trying to buy up Lerna as a slumloatd about the same time all of this money goes missing ???? This is why Lerna will never prosper ! Because our board are a bunch of self centered crooks !

       Reply
  11. Cassandra Tinder says:

    It sounds to me that someone needs to get a hobby! LOL What a JOKE! You want the Mayor or Lerna to give up his $400.00 per year salary? I’m sure that he could care less! Ah,,OK…Give me a BREAK! I spend that much on haircare products in 2 months. You better be sure of what you are accusing people of before publishing this trash on a half witted website. Oh, and why are you hiding your name? Publish that! I WILL tell you that Lerna is a hot bed of people who are too lazy to get a real job, too cheap to purchase trash service, and all around busy bodies. Oh, I might add that our Mayor get’s called for numerous things, like helping the elderly, running errands for them, picking up the trash that flies from your yards and out of your dirty little kids hand, (you need to teach them not to throw their trash on the ground) ie: bad parenting, rounds up YOUR dogs that aren’t on their leashes, deals with unruly neighbors, goes around door to door when there is a water leak and reports to you that there is a boil order. As for having someone mow the grass of an abandoned property…have you volunteered your gas and the wear and tear of your mower to take care of this problem? I didn’t think so. Case In Point! What is it going to enrich your lives to remove our Mayor? Sounds like a big bunch of nosy neighbor syndrome to me. Can anybody say, (Gladys Kravitz)? LOL I will get the popcorn and watch this freak show unfold. LOL

     Reply
    • jmkraft says:

      You are obviously blind to right and wrong. State law is clear, he cannot hold both positions. Yes, we want him to give up his $400 per year salary, I think we made that point clear.
      .
      We don’t “accuse” people, we state facts. The fact is the mayor is wrong and is illegally collecting payments for two incompatible jobs. The village trustee is wrong by collecting payment for two incompatible jobs.
      .
      No names are being hidden, try reading. “By jmkraft” is at the bottom of the article, and if you click on the “Contact us” button you will see the full first and last names associated with “JMKRAFT”.
      .
      It does not matter what other things the mayor does, he is in violation of the law. I find it hard to believe that you claim nobody else in town can do the job, what a joke. I am assuming you are including yourself in those that cannot do the job?
      .
      The grass mowing? Getting paid from the village to mow the grass is NOT volunteering. Are you trying to say there is no one else in the entire town of Lerna that cannot or will not mow a yard? Do you find it odd that trustee wanting paid to mow yards is the same person that motioned to increase the mayor’s, I mean the maintenance man’s, salary?
      .
      Get a couple bags of popcorn, because the freak show is getting freakier. BTW, we will be at the next meeting.

       Reply
      • L. Tucker says:

        It is NOT a freak show unless, of course, you are counting yourself as a freak!!! and BTW….many of us will be there as well.

         Reply
        • jmkraft says:

          For the record, the term “freak show” came from one of your residents.

           Reply
    • Frank Ferris says:

      I agree. I did leave a response, but it hasn’t showed up yet!

       Reply




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