Champaign County

Court: Parkland College Trustee and college employee are incompatible –

Champaign Co., IL. (ECWd)

On August 23, 2017, a Champaign County Judge determined that the positions of Parkland Community College Trustee and employee of the college are incompatible with each other and gave College Trustee and employee Rochelle Harding the opportunity to decide which position she would vacate.

Such an opportunity to decide is inconsistent with law.

This decision was largely based on the Illinois Public Community Colleges Act, Public Officer Prohibited Activities Act, and legal precedence, with their prohibitions of public officials having a direct or indirect financial interest on contracts or work with the public body they represent.

The Court pointed to and agreed with the Rogers v Village of Tinley Park decision where the Appellate Court found a police officer on a leave of absence could not hold the elected position of Village Trustee – he requested a leave of absence from his police officer employment in order to act as village trustee, but that leave of absence was denied, stating that the village could not grant leave of absence to someone who had resigned their employment – which relied on his ipso facto resignation upon accepting his elected position.

The only issue we see with this Court’s decision in Parkland, was to allow her to decide which position she would vacate. It has always been our opinion that the act of accepting an incompatible office automatically forfeited the previously held position as confirmed by case law.  “Ipso Facto” – self executing – by operation of law – by his own action [of accepting the incompatible position] the officer expresses his voluntary resignation [from the previously held position] – no further action needed to enforce it…

We realize there is a difference between incompatible positions and financial interest in contracts and work. This trustee, in our opinion, was in an incompatible office – which also happened to have a financial interest in a contract for work.

The News-Gazette has published an article with courtroom video on this case: HERE.

We have written extensively on this subject:

  • Atlanta Public Library District (Trustee William Thomas)
  • Edgar County Board (former Chairman Chris Patrick – one of many articles here)
  • Clark County Park District (Commissioner Ron Stone here, here)
  • Village of Lerna (Don Pearcy as Mayor and full-time maintenance employee)
  • Shelbyville Township (Homer Walden as Trustee and building janitor)
  • Edgar County (David Wright as Deputy Assessor and Multi-Township Assessor)
  • Edgar County (Sheriff and/or Deputy Sheriff as ETSB Board Member – here and here)
  • Kankakee County Airport Authority (Commissioner as Roofing Contractor)

Based on numerous court decisions and state laws on this type of situation, it appears there is no choice to be made – she made the choice the instant she took office as a Trustee, thus automatically resigning, or forfeiting, her position as an employee at the college.
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