Chatham

Village of Chatham pulls a fast one – Thousands of dollars later, question still not answered

Sangamon Co. (ECWd) –

Once again the taxpayers get hoodwinked by their elected officials and I would say we called it perfectly back in June of 2016.

From this article; “Public officials tend to do what they want until people question those actions.  Then, more often than not, they will seek out an opinion that fits what they are doing or want to do, instead of an opinion that is based on well-grounded law.”

After we raised numerous red flags and started exposing serious problems with the paperwork involved in the creation of the South Sangamon Water Commission, the Chatham Village Board pretended to listen, with the exception of two who did listen but have been overruled by the majority, time and time again.

I say pretended because when they hired a law firm to draft a legal opinion, (Remember what I said 7 months ago? – they will seek out an opinion that fits what they are doing or want to do) one would have thought they would investigate the allegations of conflicts of interest, fraud, and noncompliance with statutory mandates that we brought to the public’s eye.  But no, instead, the board hired a law firm to address three questions, of which none of them were about conflicts, fraud, or noncompliance.

  • Whether the South Sangamon Water Commission was properly established
  • Whether there are any issues associated with the bonds issued by the Commission
  • The Village of Chatham’s obligations associated with the Commission

The law firm claimed the commission was properly established in this document, page 5.  In their list of points to support the “opinion”, they failed to make any mention of certain issues that lead to their opinion being wrong, naturally.

They cited ordinance 09-02, a Chatham ordinance to jointly create the water commission.

“AN ORDINANCE ELECTING TO ACQUIRE AND OPERATE A COMMON SOURCE OF SUPPLY OF WATER WITH THE VILLAGE OF NEW BERLIN, ILLINOIS, AND TO ESTABLISH A WATER COMMISSION PURSUANT TO DIVISION 135 OF ARTICLE 11 OF THE ILLINOIS MUNICIPAL CODE

I wonder why they never evaluated if this creation was done pursuant to Division 135 of Article 11 of the Illinois Municipal Code?  Had they, they would have discovered everything I wrote about in this article back in June of 2016 was, in fact, true.   The reason that needed to be looked at is because the very Municipal code the ordinance points to was not followed.  If the statute cited in the ordinance was not followed, then the water commission was not established pursuant to Division 135 of Article 11 of the Illinois Municipal code!

There are four shall mandates listed in that municipal code and three of those mandates were not followed

  • adopt an ordinance declaring its intention to do so (Complied with)
  • “fix the maximum amount of its share of the cost it proposes to pay, to advance or to obligate itself for” (Not complied with)
  • “the period over which it proposes to pay its obligation (not exceeding 5 years)” (Not complied with)
  • “the maximum amount to be paid annually if such obligation is to be paid in installments.” (Not complied with)

It is not a leap to conclude the establishment of the SSWC WAS NOT established properly when there is proof the creation WAS NOT done pursuant to the applicable statute as claimed it would be in the original ordinance.

Law for dummies: As we pointed out back in June of 2016, “government contracts and resolutions MUST comply with statutory obligations to be valid.”  If you don’t follow the law, the contract can be voided.

The first question we urged this board to ask, which they refused, is, can this contract with SSWC be breached for failure to comply with the law when they created the commission?  Of course, those close to this matter do not want that question asked, nor answered by any law firm.

The law firm outlines conditions for rescission of ordinances establishing a commission.  The problem is, the question should have been about breach of contract from day one by failing to comply with the municipal code that established this mess.  If you ask the wrong question, you get the result you are looking for and by all indications, this is what the Mayor did on this one.

The second brilliant question asked pertained to Bonds.

  • Whether there are any issues associated with the bonds issued by the Commission

Wasn’t it the Mayor that pointed out the Village does not have any Bonds for the Water Plant?  That being the case, can anyone please explain why the taxpayers paid to get an opinion on Bonds for another public body?

All that aside, I found it interesting the law firm made no mention that the water plant was under criminal investigation by the EPA or that the SEC was also investigating the bond issue.

That brings us to the last issue the Village wanted an opinion on.

  • The Village of Chatham’s obligations associated with the Commission

The law firm points out quite nicely all the obligations associated with the commission but failed to address the most important question that we and the citizens of Chatham have been asking for over 6 months.

If the Commission was not established pursuant to the law, which it was not, wouldn’t that indicate the Village has no obligations to the SSWC and the contract can be challenged on those grounds?  How convenient that the Mayor has refused to get a legal opinion on that question.

Sadly for the citizens of Chatham, it appears that they have been played and those people involved in this mess will go to great lengths to cover their tracks while many citizens continue to face financial and health issues from the highly corrosive water.

 

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