CLARK CO., IL. (ECWd) –
Timeline of “The Painting Scandal”
Or, “How to destroy public trust by hiding facts from the public” – because essentially, that was the scandal in this situation, not that painting and work were donated, but that the public was lied to by the director of the park district.
A little over a year ago, the Clark County Park District Director, Charity Murphy, decided to get some painting done in the Mill Creek Park area, and the painting was needed, however, in the process of this completing project, Murphy was not forthcoming with truthful information concerning the actual costs to the district.
In her April 2015 Director’s Report to the Commissioners (here), she stated that: “This work would not have been possible without the generosity of FSG Painting, who donated 105 gallons of commercial-grade paint along with several members of their team to complete the projects. The paint alone would have cost us more than $4000 had we purchased it on our own.”
With that statement in the Director’s Report, it was implied and understood that the paint and labor were “donated” to the district by FSG Painting, a company based in West Terre Haute, Indiana.
Additionally, FSG Painting says they only “donated” 74 gallons of paint NOT the 105 gallons that Murphy claims was donated (here) – and – an employee of the park district informed us that the “donated” paint was expired, or near expiration, and could not be used on a paying job (that claim still unverified), which was why is was “donated” to the district.
We found Charity Murphy was not being entirely truthful…
After considerable pressure and numerous FOIA requests, Murphy stated (here): “With regard to the cost to do the work, the request was for two camp spots, which would be a total of $3,850.”
So it wasn’t “free” and wasn’t “donated” and there was a request for compensation in the form of camp spots. . .
Even later (March 28, 2016), with repeated questioning, Murphy admitted (here): “they were given two camping spots for two years and a boat slip for one year” – This new, and unreported, information brings the total cost to the district to $8,450.00 (two camp spots for two years @ $3,850 x 2 – plus the boat slip for one year @ $750.00).
This would be a good time to refer to the Park District Code, since these camp spots and boat slip are property of the district:
Sec. 4-6. No member of the board of any park district, nor any person, whether in the employ of said board or otherwise, shall have power to create any debt, obligation, claim or liability, for or on account of said park district, or the monies or property of the same, except with the express authority of said board conferred at a meeting thereof and duly recorded in a record of its proceedings.
The Park District Policy Manual also explains gifts and purchases:
Park District Policy Manual – Page 39: 4.3 – Gifts and Bequests
The Park District considers gifts and bequests as a valuable opportunity to improve the physical and financial resources of the agency. Gifts and bequests of property must be accepted by a majority vote of the Board and should not place an undue burden on the District’s resources.
Park District Policy Manual – Page 51: Chapter 5 – Financial Operating Procedures, Section 2.1 – Purchasing Policies: For purchases below $500, staff will conduct a comparison of prices from different vendors to find the best value. Purchases between $2,000-20,000 require written bids quotes from three vendors. The written quotes should be turned into the Finance Department, attached to the purchase order, and kept with the paid invoice.
To finish Part 1, we have demonstrated the “inaccurate” Director’s Report from 2015 stating everything was donated, to it changing to 2 camp spots and 1 boat slip, to changing a second time to 2 camp spots for 2 years, and a boat slip for 1 year. This took several FOIA requests to decipher and get to the truth of the situation – if the truth has even been fully revealed by the park district even now. Additionally, the Director violated state law by creating a debt or obligation of district property without first obtaining “express authority” of the board at an open meeting AND that authority being duly recorded in the meeting minutes. That part, still to this day, has never happened. Finally, the Director violated park district policy by accepting the gift in the first place (if it ever was a gift) and by creating the “purchase” (thru the payment of the camp spots and boat slip) of the services valued in excess of $500 and consisting of a purchase valued in excess of between $2,000 and $20,000 – which would have required written quotes according to park district policy.