Effingham Co. (ECWd) –
Towards the beginning of 2017, Effingham Mayor Jeff Bloemker was hired by the state of Illinois to be the CEO of the Illinois Correctional Industries. In January, we were tipped off that Mayor Bloemker was doing city business on state time to include utilizing a state vehicle while doing city business. Once we received word of Bloemker’s actions, we were able to obtain a photograph of the unmarked state vehicle he drove to City Hall during City Hall business hours –which coincidentally conflict with state work week time.
It was further revealed to us that Mayor Bloemker spends most of his Tuesdays at City Hall & randomly spending other days doing various City of Effingham business – ribbon cuttings, meetings, Lobby Day activities etc.
Freedom of Information requests to the Illinois Department of Corrections for timecards proved interesting. The time cards showed that Bloemker, since the beginning of 2017, has not taken a single sick day, personal day or vacation day.
So is the State paying him to do City of Effingham business during a state work week?
In short, this means that every time Mayor Bloemker was at City Hall between the hours of 8-4:30 pm Monday thru Friday he was violating state law regarding non-state work on state time. Also, his use of a state vehicle to do city work is also a violation of state policy/law unless he has “Reimbursed the Department for each fraction of a mile traveled during the unauthorized usage”. We do not know at this time if such reimbursements have been made but if they have, the very policy states such use is unauthorized. According to the policy on vehicles, it states: “Used only for official business or in the performance of an employee’s assigned duties.”
It was these facts that led to an Office of Inspector General complaint. The person who filed the complaint at our suggestion was informed that Bloemker’s case has been referred to an internal investigator at the IDOC and it is an active investigation.
Our source has confirmed the state investigator was in Effingham recently & they personally witnessed/documented Bloemker doing city business during state business hours! Bloemaker could be in serious trouble if they validate the information and confirm he has violated state law/agency policy.
Mayor Bloemker must have received a tip about his state vehicle usage because he began driving a City of Effingham owned vehicle to City Hall shortly after people started looking into this matter. The use of a city vehicle begs the question as to who gave Bloemker the authority to possess & use a city-owned vehicle since no previous Mayor had a city provided vehicle.
According to the City, since the Mayor is a “Department Head” and is “on call 24 hours a day”, this allows him use of a city vehicle. Two issues are created by this answer:
- Considering Effingham employs a City Administrator who controls the day-to-day operations of the city, what department is Mayor Bloemker the “head” of? After the transition to a City Administrator, the City Council abdicated its control of the day-to-day operations & their individual office “portfolios”. In essence, no city council member is the department head of any portion of the Effingham city government.
- Since when is the Mayor on 24 hour call for the city of Effingham? If there is a natural or man-made disaster, it is true the Mayor will receive a phone call informing him/her of the situation. However, when it comes to the actual structure of Incident Command the Mayor will be nowhere near the upper portions of IC structure. Even under the city’s former IC structure, an Informational Officer would be appointed by the IC Commander – which I highly doubt would be the Mayor.
If a Mayor of a City is seemingly so willing to break state law as the head of a state agency, what confidence can we have that Bloemker will follow the laws as Mayor of Effingham? We ask, as there is more to come that points to other serious concerns within the City of Effingham and those concerns point to actions of this Mayor.