Clark-Edgar Rural Water District Sets 2017 Meeting Schedule –

OLIVER, IL. (ECWd) –

The Clark-Edgar Rural Water District has set its 2017 regular board meeting dates as listed below:

CERWD – 2017 Meeting Schedule

January 16, 2017          7:00 pm
February 20, 2017       7:00 pm
March 20, 2017           7:30 pm
April 17, 2017             7:30 pm
May 15, 2017*            7:30 pm
June 19, 2017              7:30 pm
July 17, 2017              7:30 pm
August 21, 2017          7:30 pm
September 18, 2017    7:30 pm
October 16, 2017        7:30 pm
November 20, 2017    7:00 pm
December 18, 2017     7:00 pm

The meetings are at the district office in Oliver, IL. They are held the 3rd Monday of the month. When daylight savings time begins the meetings are at 7:30 pm and when daylight savings time ends they are at 7:00 pm.

*Organizational meeting will take place at 7:30 pm with the regularly scheduled meeting to follow.

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Clark-Edgar Rural Water District Holds Deposits 27 Years – Provides No Water –

OLIVER, IL. (ECWd) –

We have written about this unethical and unlawful situation in Clark and Edgar Counties before but thought it time to remind all those still interested that there has been no legitimate effort to rectify this problem.

In fact, the Clark-Edgar Rural Water District (CERWD) Auditor recently (and wrongly) noted that the District could do whatever they wanted with these deposits, including using them to provide services to other people, would never have to return the funds to the individual making the deposits, and would never have to even provide them water service.

There are currently 420 service deposits paid to the CERWD for service connections, some dating back to early 1989, who have never been provided water service.

Here is how this scam works, the district conducts a survey in a township to see who is interested in obtaining water from them, they then collect “deposits” or “tap-on fees” (in violation of the Public Water District Act) for the proposed service, use those promised contracts to obtain state and federal grants and loans, use them to obtain funds thru bonds, and then only connects those people that can easily be reached wherever they chose to run the water lines. In our opinion, this borders on grant and bond fraud by using the list to obtains the funds, knowing all of the promised connections will never be made, and then keeping the deposited funds indefinitely. Then they go one step further and have their auditor tell them they can use the funds deposited for other people and never have to connect or return the funds to the original depositor.

As we have written in previous articles, there is no statutory authority for a stand-alone water district to collect any tap-on fees or deposits of any kind – but they continue to do so because they found an attorney to write them an “opinion” that won’t hold water in a court.

Imagine being promised, 27 years ago, that you would get connected to the water district, only to find out they plan on using your improperly taken “deposit” to help connect someone else.
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Download (PDF, 10.36MB)


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Clark-Edgar Rural Water District Writes Off Over $40,000 In Bad Debt –

OLIVER, IL. (ECWd) –

That’s right. The Clark-Edgar Rural Water District (CERWD) has “written off” more than $40,000.00 in uncollected debt for water service.

That’s $40,000 that could have been used to connect others, pay wages, or to pay down its massive debt.

If you know any of the people listed in the attached document, please ask them to pay their water bills.

Document provided by the CERWD under the Freedom Of Information Act.

Download (PDF, 2.13MB)


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Clark-Edgar Rural Water District increases rates –

Clark-Edgar Rural Water District – (ECWd) –

During their April 2016 meeting, the Clark-Edgar Rural Water District (CERWD) voted to increase the water rates it charge customers.

CERWD already had one of the highest rates charged for water in the entire State of Illinois – now the rates are even higher.

The rate increases are as follows:

  • First 2,000 gallons: increase of 2% to $42.10
  • Next 2,000 gallons: increase of 3% to $7.27
  • Next 8,000 gallons: increase of 3.75% to $6.80
  • 40k gallons: increase of 3.75% to $5.87 (per thousand gallons)
  • 50k gallons: increase of 3.75% to $5.48 (per thousand gallons)
  • 102k – 1 mil gallons: increase of 3.75% to $5.45 (per thousand gallons)
  • over 1 mil gallons: increase of 3.75% to $4.98 (per thousand gallons)

This creates an estimated revenue increase of around $63,000 for the water district.

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Clark-Edgar Rural Water Votes to shut off water to the I-70 Weigh Station –

Clark-Edgar Rural Water District – (ECWd) –

At tonight’s regular meeting, the Clark-Edgar Rural Water District voted to shut off the water meters located at the State Police Weigh Station on I-70, and also the Lincoln Trail State Park Picnic Area – effective immediately.

This is due to the state’s nonpayment of water bills. Good for them!

In other business, I asked them again to develop a plan to connect water to those that have paid their connection fees and not yet been connected.

I also asked them to justify the taking of “tap-on” fees when the statute does not give them the power to do so.

I questioned the auditor’s “cut and paste” from previous audits, evidenced in the fact that this year’s audit still had the water district board as being appointed by Clark and Edgar Counties – when they are actually elected by the people.

I asked for an affirmation or denial of their intended use of the monies collected from “future” customers.

waterripling (WinCE)




Clark-Edgar Rural Water District sets stage to steal deposits, connection fees –

Clark-Edgar Rural Water District (ECWd) –

I received a copy of the most recent audit and management letter from the Clark-Edgar Rural Water District (“CERWD”) this past week and came across a disturbing “Note” in the audit.

This “Note” basically stated that the district was under no obligation to connect water to people that have paid their deposits, and the district was under no obligation to refund the deposits paid even if they decide not to connect their water.

In other words, CERWD can use a connection fee collected from “Bob” to help finance connecting “Jim’s” house with water, and then turn around and tell “Bob” he is not getting water, and he is not getting his connection fee back.

To fully understand how wrong this statement is, and how the auditor, James D. Motley of Paris, Illinois, should be fired for providing false opinions, we must start at the beginning of this so-call “tap on fee”, “deposit fee”, “connection fee”, or whatever other name(s) they choose to place on it.

To expand water service into areas not currently served by a water district, the district employs strong-arm tactics to “convince” the residents it is in their best interest. They begin by holding a couple public meetings where very little truth is stated, and convince a township to authorize public opinion surveys, well water testings, signature collection, and “promise to connect” statements and fees from residents of the townships.

It is the last item where most of the problems arise. It has been reported to us that when a representative of the district, sometimes thru contractors, approaches a land owner about easements to run water mains, they are basically strong-armed into signing the agreement with the threat of “either pay the small connection fee now and allow the easement, or you will have to pay upwards of $2500 to $5000 to connect at a later date if we even decide to allow the connection” –

OK, so the last time we checked, there were at least 397 land owners within the CERWD that had paid a “deposit” or “tap-on fee” who have never been connected. Some of these were paid more than 20 years ago, with the “fee” being passed on from generation to generation – kind of a like a legacy of everything wrong with this water district.

Finally, once a grant is obtained, and the grant money runs out, there is no plan to connect those who were not connected. They simply get another grant to expand into another township, and repeat the process.

Can the CERWD collect tap-on fees?

“No.” However, to answer this question properly, we must look at the Public Water District Act and see if a water district is given the authority to collect connection fees.

There are two distinctly different districts mentioned in the PWDA, they are: “Combined Waterworks and Sewerage District“, and “Water District“. CERWD is a “Water District.”

Another useful definition used in the PWDA is “use and service” – the Legislature did not include “connections thereto” when defining “use and service” – this is evidenced by their separation of those items in Section 23 (f) of the Act.

In Section 23 (f) the Act specifically authorizes a Combination Waterworks and Sewerage District to “charge rates and charges for the use and service of the combined waterworks and sewerage system, and to defray the cost of connections thereto“,…

The board of trustees is authorized to charge rates and charges for the use and service of the combined waterworks and sewerage system, and to defray the costs of connections thereto,

That specific language is absent in paragraphs talking about Water Districts – – which means the legislature did not intend for a water district to charge fees for “connections thereto” like they authorized a combination district to charge. Sections 12, 22, and 23 discuss Water Districts, and does not state charges can be made to defray the cost of connections for water districts.

Can the CERWD place a lien on real estate for delinquent payments?

“No.” However, we must again look to the statute for clarification.

The PWDA, in Section 23 (f), gives specific authorization for a Combined Waterworks and Sewerage District to place liens on real estate for delinquent payments. Not only does it authorize liens, it states that delinquencies are ipso facto (automatically) a lien on the real estate, however, in order to take precedence over other debtors of the real estate, the lien must be filed with the property record.

Such charges or rates, including any penalties for late payment, are liens upon the real estate upon or for which service is supplied or made available whenever the charges or rates become delinquent as provided by any ordinance of the district fixing a delinquency date. A lien is created under the preceding sentence only if..." (and it explains how a lien is created)

"Such liens shall arise ipso facto upon the delinquency of such charges or rates; however, the district has no preference over the rights of any purchaser, mortgagee, judgment creditor, or other lien holder arising prior to the filing of a notice of such a lien in the office of the recorder of the county in which such real estate is located, or in the office of the registrar of titles of such county if the property affected is registered under the Torrens system." It further explains how to properly file the lien. It also explains the combined district can foreclose on the lien in the same manner as if it were a delinquent mortgage.

This language is found nowhere else in the Act, which shows the legislative intent to withhold this authorization from a Water District. It is our understanding that the CERWD has in the past placed liens on real estate. We do not know if liens are still current CERWD policy.

The Audit – Note 9

On page 34 of the Audit dated October 14, 2015, the Auditor inserted a “Note 9 – Tap Fees Liability”.

This “Note 9” purports to absolve the district from any responsibility to the potential customer who paid these [unauthorized] fees. The Auditor opined that the district is under no obligation to continue to expand its distribution system, or to refund and monies paid by potential customers. The district could instead apply those tap on fees, or connection fees, to previous work done by the district.

CERWD-Tap-On-Fees

This action of utilizing the ill-gotten connection fees for other uses, if taken, is morally, ethically, and statutorily wrong. It equates to theft of funds, and in my opinion meets the definition of criminal deception and conversion of funds as defined in the Illinois Criminal Code.

Call to Action: 

  • If you are one of the almost 400 people who have paid a connection fee and never been connected to water, please contact us.
  • If you are a current or past CERWD customer and property owner, please contact us.
  • If you have had a lien placed on your property because a CERWD customer was delinquent in payments to the district, please contact us.
  • If you paid the inflated connection (tap-on) fees because wither you or the previous land owners refused to pay the fee at the time the water mains were placed, please contact us.

We intend to put a stop to this illegal activity by the Clark-Edgar Rural Water District.

We believe any user contracts signed with the “pertinent clause” in it was signed in violation of law.
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CERWD – Meeting minutes are purposely misleading –

Oliver, IL. (ECWd) –

I requested copies of the May and June 2015 Clark-Edgar Rural Water District meeting minutes to compare them with the audio I had received in a previous FOIA request.

I requested them because I had the suspicion that they would not accurately reflect what actually happened during the meetings. I was correct in my suspicion.

I appears the water district took their attorney’s words literally when he told them that “the minutes must reflect David [Sprigg] abstained from voting” – which is what is reflected in the minutes. Maybe he should have qualified that statement to include that the minutes should actually reflect the truth of what was discussed and who discussed it.

This appears to be an attempt by the board to allow Sprigg to discuss things in violation of the law…as long as the minutes don’t reflect the discussions. Typically referred to as forgery of a public record.

May 4, 2015 Minutes:

What was not reflected in the minutes was that the attorney warned him that he could not discuss the Bonds either. Providing the Bond Ordinance is in fact discussing the Bond Ordinance, or at a minimum, confirmation that he has actively participated in its development.

Audio proof of the warning is in this article (here).

May 18, 2015 Minutes:

In the May 18, 2015 minutes, they only reflect Dan Gmelich presenting the Ordinance to the Board – and only reflect a “lengthy” discussion of the Line-of-Credit.

The minutes fail to mention the more than 7 minutes of discussion led by David Sprigg on the Bond Ordinance, and fail to mention the 13 minutes of discussion on the Line-of-Credit where Sprigg engages in lengthy discussion – but the minutes did state that Sprigg abstained from voting on it! – Just like their attorney told them it should reflect…maybe he should have qualified that statement to include it should actually reflect the truth of what was discussed and who discussed it.

Audio supporting this Sprigg led discussion on the Bond is in a previous article, the second audio clip (here).

Audio supporting the Sprigg led discussion on the Line-of-Credit is the third audio clip in this article (here).

June 15, 2015 Minutes:

The June 15 minutes reflect the reaffirmation and re-adoption of the Bond Ordinance, and “much” discussion on the line of credit – making sure to state the Sprigg abstained from voting… completely lacking any resemblance of the actual discussions at the meeting.

The audio form the June 15th meeting reflect Sprigg discussing this Line-of-Credit for more than 3 minutes, and you can hear it in this article (here).

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CERWD – Trustee Sprigg discusses line of credit –

OLIVER, IL. (ECWd) –

The Clark-Edgar Rural Water District held a meeting on June 15, 2015. During the meeting, the agenda item for “Line of Credit” was discussed in length by none other than the Vice-President of Commercial Lending of Old National Bank in Marshall, and current Water District Trustee, David Sprigg.

In the below audio, Sprigg states that he put the Line of Credit paperwork together, but thinks it should go on the Water District letterhead “to be fair” and send it to local banks to bid on. He talks about a “Municipal Water District”, which tells us he doesn’t even know what statute this district falls under. He states that his bank can do 1 million dollars for 2.75% taxable, which makes it 2.1% tax free. He states he will get with the water district’s attorney to discuss this further.

The CERWD’s attorney should simply advise him to resign from his elected position as a Water District Trustee, and tell Old National they will not be getting this line of credit nor will they get the Bonds, due to the conflict of interest.

Trustee Sprigg discussing the Line of Credit during the June 15, 2015 CERWD meeting:
http://edgarcountywatchdogs.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/Sprigg-6-15-2015-LineOfCredit.mp3

Previous articles here and here.

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CERWD – Sprigg dismisses attorney’s warning, discusses Bond sales –

Clark-Edgar Rural Water District – (ECWd) –

After our article on the Clark-Edgar Rural Water District’s May 4, 2015 meetings (here), we took the time to conduct a little research into board member David Sprigg to try and determine why he could not discuss or vote on bonds, etc. at the water district.

Who is David Sprigg?

– He was elected to the Board of Trustees of the CERWD.
– He is currently the Vice President of Commercial Lending, and President of Marketing at Old National Bank in Marshall, Illinois.
– He submitted petitions for the Board of Trustees at their previous election, where the water district employees used public resources, time, and funds to electioneer in his favor (here), and he withdrew from the race after objections were filed.

 What is the issue?

A perceived or actual conflict of interest…

As a public official, he cannot be interested, directly or indirectly, in any contract with the public body he was elected to serve on (with the exception of certain financial transactions with banks). This includes any discussions or voting, delivery of paperwork to the board clerk or the attorney, or anything else involved with these proposed Bonds and Line of Credit.  Sections 3, 3.2, and 4 of the Public Officers Prohibited Activities Act.

The law clearly states that interested parties “shall not participate in any further deliberations concerning the proposed award“. You can hear him “participate” in the audio links below.

The issue with the CERWD, is that the water district is wanting to sell Bonds, and is also wanting to use the Old National Bank in Marshall as the bond issuer. CERWD also want(s) to enter into another agreement for a Line of Credit with the Old National Bank in Marshall, Illinois. With Sprigg being employed at the bank, and involved in discussions of the bonds and line of credit in his capacity as board member, it creates the appearance of a conflict of interest, and just may be an actual conflict of interest.

Additionally, I have requested any information that proves the CERWD advertised the Bonds and Line of Credit prior to committing to Old National Bank. It will be a separate article.

 The May 18, 2015 CERWD Meeting:

During this meeting held just 14 days from the previous meeting in which the water district attorney stated that Sprigg could not discuss or vote on any bond sales issues, he decides to do just that, and continues on for several minutes uninterrupted.

In the audio below, you can hear the VP of Old National Bank discussing the Bond. Sprigg gives a little direction towards the end of this audio clip.

http://edgarcountywatchdogs.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/BankEmployee-5-18-2015.mp3

In this second audio clip you can hear the interactions and discussion between Sprigg and board members when deliberating on the bond.

http://edgarcountywatchdogs.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/Sprigg-5-18-2015.mp3

In the third audio clip, the Board talks about a Line of Credit and board member Sprigg engages in discussions on this issue also. Sprigg has a quick comment at about about the 1:30 mark, and the 3 minute mark he engages in a lengthy discussion.

http://edgarcountywatchdogs.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/Sprigg-5-18-2015-LineOfCredit.mp3

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Pic from Ameren's website

Pic from Ameren’s website

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CERWD – May 4, 2015, Brown named Chairman, Sprigg warned by attorney –

Clark-Edgar Rural Water District – (ECWd) –

During its May 4, 2015 Organizational Meeting, the Clark-Edgar Rural Water District “CERWD” elected Roger Brown as the Board Chairman, then the other officers were appointed and committees appointed.

Later that evening, and this is the most important part of this meeting, the Board attorney warned Board Member David Sprigg that he must keep from discussing and voting on anything related to bonds, and/or loans with the Water District.

Sprigg brought the bond paperwork with him to the board meeting and started to say something under the “Bond Ordinance” item. The Board attorney immediately stated that “the minutes need to show” that Sprigg must abstain from discussion, voting, or anything else related to the bonds. they acknowledged that he “couldn’t give a “pitch” on it”.

They decided to just “show that he gave out the paperwork”…even though there were “short” questions directed at him (Sprigg).

David Sprigg is a board member and also employed at the bank the proposed bonds will go to.

 

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Water District writes check for FOIA violation –

Clark-Edgar Rural Water District – (ECWd) –

The Clark-Edgar Rural Water District wrote a check to Kirk Allen for a refund of the amounts charged in excess of what was allowed from a 2012 Freedom of Information Act requests.

They spent several thousands of dollars defending their position, when they could have simply written a check and incurred a loss of only $253.30 (or not even asked for the payment in the first place), but instead decided to fight it and lost thousands in  attorney fees, plus the amount they had over charged as determined by the Attorney General, which we don’t agree with on the amount, as $64.23.

But hey, it is only taxpayer money, so they can burn through it as they wish.

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AG decides: Clark-Edgar Rural Water District violated FOIA….in 2012!

Edgar Co. (ECWd)

Over three years ago I filed a complaint with the Attorney General’s Public Access Counselor regarding the Clark-Edgar Rural Water District for violating the Freedom of Information Act.

June 19th, 2012 I asked for documents to be provided in electronic format.  The water district claimed they did not have any of the records electronically. When I picked up the paper copies it was clear they charged me for records that were in electronic format.

It took 3 years and 4 days for the AG’s office to come to the conclusion that the district lied, as they did in fact have records in electronic form, and they inappropriately charged for the records received.

It is a sad day when a citizen has to wait over 3 years for a determination on a simple FOIA violation.  Even before we obtained three years of knowledge of what is or is not a violation, this case was a clear violation.

The AG’s office has directed the Clark Edgar Rural Water District to pay $64.20 for records they had electronically and denied having.

How long will it take the water district to comply with the directive from the AG office to refund my money?  Any bets that recovery of these funds will require court action in spite of the AG’s direction?

What is the ironic part of this, the water district has spent thousands on an attorney fighting this matter.  Had they simply turned over the records in the format they had them, and refunded what they inappropriately charged me, the taxpayers would have been better off, but these people would rather fight transparency than do what is right.

Download (PDF, 220KB)

 




Corruption Defined – Edgar County –

EDGAR CO. (ECWd) –

With the recent claim by Tay Smith with the Prairie Press stating: “Thus far, I haven’t seen any evidence of corruption in Edgar County today”, we have been perplexed how anyone, even only having lived here for a year and one month could honestly believe that, let alone put it in print.

Was his claim that he has not seen any evidence in the county todayhis wordsmith slight of pen?  Or was claiming he has not “seen” any evidence because he has his eyes closed?  He says “I haven’t been given any evidence“, so I guess that means he doesn’t have to look and since “he” wasn’t given any evidence, then it does not exist? Either way he can claim he told the truth with his statements even though the facts clearly show overwhelming corruption all around us.

To read previous articles on the subject of Public Corruption, click HERE and HERE.

Corruption Defined:

  • lack of integrity or honesty
  • inducement (as of a public official) by improper means (as bribery) to violate duty

This list of corruption we have identified and exposed in the last 3-4 years, of which pretty much all of it was written about when discovered.  To date your local State’s Attorney has only prosecuted one of the cases referenced.

  1. Jim Keller, Democrat County Board Chairman signs illegal loan for $300,000.00 placing the county in debt.  Done it total secret!
  2. Merl Clark, authorized the above mentioned loan while working at the bank without any resolution paperwork from the county authorizing such a loan.
  3. 911 Board member voting on and receiving a gift for herself in violation of the law.
  4. Housing Commissioners using public credit cards for purchases for spouses.
  5. Housing Commissioner filing fraudulent mileage claims.
  6. Housing Commissioner attorney using public funds for his own travel.
  7. Bob Colvin with Francis & Associates claimed he was an engineer for the water district when in fact he is not an engineer.
  8. Bob Colvin with Francis & Associates billed the Water district for work NEVER performed.
  9. Bob Colvin with Francis & Associates tries to bill water district for bridge work done for Marshall.  Mysteriously the paper trail disappears.
  10. Chris Patrick while in his capacity as Airport Chairman shuffled business to his own private company in violation of the law and without any board approval.
  11. Chris Patrick while in his capacity as County Board Chairman claimed statements made pertaining to Zimmerly Ready mix not having a certified mix were false.  They were not false!
  12. Chris Patrick violated OMA by illegally removing person speaking from a public meeting.
  13. Edgar County Airport violates law by conducting secret ballot – then lies and tries to call it a straw vote.
  14. Chris Patrick and his son and step son falsified state paperwork claiming they had not been in elected office or family to anyone that was.
  15. Chris Patrick receiving two free chip and seal driveways at public expense.
  16. Chris Patrick conflict of interest as county board member.
  17. Chris Patrick while serving as County Board Member said “There is no CD” when asked about the secret airport CD that does in fact exist.
  18. Chris Patrick while serving as County Board Member said “Good luck” finding a copy of the secret CD at the airport that does exist – even though a local bank has been assisting in hiding the truth about it.
  19. Airport manager provided forged documents pertaining to the formerly secret airport CD on a FOIA response.
  20. Mass Transit Director steals thousands from the tax payer – currently in the hands of the Feds.
  21. County Board & State’s Attorney refused to listen when told the Mass transit dissolution was handled in violation of the law.  12 months later the county is $150K richer because of our efforts of demanding the law be followed.
  22. Two township road commissioners use public funds and property to oil and chip private driveways.
  23. Dee Burgin billed thousands of dollars of overtime and comp time without any legal authority to do so.
  24. Edgar County “sold” the ambulance service without bids, and to the county employee that ran it in to the ground.
  25. Edgar County gave away an entire Ambulance operation to Dee Burgin and never collected the $100,000.00 purchase price outlined in the contract.
  26. County audit contained fraudulent statement regarding the ambulance purchase.
  27. County Treasurer’s office computers “catching a virus” between a losing election and swearing in of new treasurer – additionally, no attempts made to recover lost data.
  28. Dee Burgin convicted in Federal Court for violating a girls civil rights yet still is allowed to carry a badge and a gun.
  29. Terry Rogers convicted in Federal Court for violating a girls civil rights yet still is allowed to carry a badge and a gun.
  30. Dee Burgin caught lying on a police report yet still is allowed to carry a badge and a gun.
  31. Former State’s Attorney using Cocaine during his term of office – confirmed in court records – still an attorney.
  32. Nannette Crippes using 911 funds to purchase Christmas presents (gift cards) but has no record of who got them.
  33. Nannette Crippes turning in claims for payment for meetings of which she never attended.
  34. Nannette Crippes placing her family on the cell phone plan and having the taxpayers fund her entire family phone service.
  35. Nannette Crippes hiring her daughter and friends and paying them with petty cash while never paying the required income tax to the state.
  36. Nannette Crippes using county credit outside her scope of authority.
  37. Nannette Crippes claims dispatchers are certified when in fact they had not been for as long as 6 years.
  38. Nannette Crippes draws two county paychecks while working the same hours.
  39. Nannette Crippes receives county benefits even though county policy mandates contract employee’s are not allowed benefits.
  40. Nannette Crippes uses county credit card for fuel in county vehicle – but pumps more fuel than will actually fit in the vehicle’s fuel tank.
  41. 911 board illegally authorized payments (after the fact) to director knowing they were fraudulently obtained.
  42. County elected officials receiving health insurance benefits in direct violation of county policy that states elected officials are not eligible for benefits.
  43. County Board attempts to give away animal control in violation of the law.
  44. County Board member Helstley routinely lies about matters.
  45. Illegal transfers of animal control funds to general fund.
  46. Tim Crippes selling guns, including guns with serial numbers filed off, in direct violation of both state and federal laws.
  47. Tim Crippes using inmates to roof houses.
  48. Tim Crippes using inmates to cut and stack firewood for citizens.
  49. Tim Crippes using his auto repair facility to repair sheriff vehicles while in the position of Sheriff.
  50. Tim Crippes issuing “covert investigator” letters to his friends, illegally circumventing concealed carry laws and putting the county at significant risk of liability. Mike Heltsley tries to get Ed Motley to issue him one, he refuses.
  51. Numerous deputies participating in sheriff sales, including gun buying, in direct violation of the law.
  52. Roger Hopper seized a vehicle and had it towed and repaired at the county expense and then purchased it for his daughter for less than the towing/repairing charge.
  53. Judge issues letter to State’s Attorney Matt Sullivan to ensure such illegal transactions don’t happen again – no accountability to the crime!
  54. Health department employee steals thousands.
  55. Corrections officers charged and convicted for felony crimes while former Sheriff wants them to “resign with dignity” and attempts coverup of crimes.
  56. Mayor of Redmond insisting he is still the Mayor even though he no longer resides in the community.
  57. 911 board at the direction of Merl Clark and Dee Burgin utilized funds to purchase equipment not allowed under the statute.  How convenient Burgin was operating the Ambulance and didn’t have to spend his own money on radios he needed.
  58. Chief Deputy Assessor holding a position of Multi-township assessor in direct violation of the law.  Took 9 months of effort before the State’s Attorney forced him to step down from Multi-township position.
  59. County Board using levied funds for matters not tied to that specific levy.
  60. County Board sitting on Mass Transit board in violation of the law.  Months of badgering before the person resigned.
  61. Attorney Craig Smith acting as attorney for 911 board in violation of the law. Only after the notice of a pending law suit to recover funds paid to him and a letter from the States Attorney did he pay the money back.
  62. City Mayor Craig Smith used city credit card for his continuing education requirements as an attorney.
  63. City lied during the exposure of that information by claiming the purchase was for books of state statutes when in fact we already had the invoice proving otherwise.
  64. City of Paris “sold” batting cages, when questioned, and after lying about the disposition and condition of the cages, they sent trucks and employees to Indiana to recover, and bring batting cages back to Paris.
  65. City of Paris electioneering with public funds by illegally donating city funds as campaign contributions to Roger Eddy’s legislative campaign.
  66. City councilman using city credit card for vacation expenses, which is theft of city funds! Stayed on job as city councilman.
  67. City of Paris bid-rigging for city insurance – local newspaper congratulates them for saving money.
  68. City of Paris not bidding insurance out for fear of lower bids coming in.
  69. Airport Board hiding public money in secret bank accounts.
  70. Airport Board hiding Certificates of Deposit and donations.
  71. Airport Grant application fraud.
  72. Airport former Manager took out a $30K plus loan without any authority to do so.
  73. Public officials and employees of public contractors threatening local businesses who sold a newspaper or who advertised with us online.
  74. Local Bank manager threatens livelihood of local business for advertising with us.
  75. Water district employees using public resources in an election challenge.
  76. Kansas clerk caused the village to lose upwards of $80,000.00 by failing to do her job and bill for ambulance services.
  77. Edgar County Fair Grounds NOT owned by the County – even though county equipment and personnel were used maintaining the track and roads.
  78. Edgar County Fair Grounds non profit status revoked for upwards of 20 years yet they continued to operate as such, while at the same time collecting public funds from the State of Illinois under the understanding they were a legitimate nonprofit.
  79. City property was not being taxed even though is being operated by a for profit business. On top of that, the City if Paris lied on paperwork, with the County Assessor’s office assistance, that was sent to the Illinois Department of Revenue. IDOR saw through the smoke and mirrors and directed property tax be collected.
  80. State’s Attorney saying during a public meeting that he would certainly never prosecute Chris Patrick for conflict of interest.
  81. State’s Attorney using “prosecutoral authority” when given evidence of public corruption, while at the same time vigorously pursuing a minor traffic ticket for two years against a low income resident, while at the same time letting his assistant dismiss a speeding ticket against U.S. Congressman Tim Johnson. Makes one wonder what his priorities are.
  82. Lies and deceit in the asphalt paving of the parking lot at the private golf course – using public funds.
  83. Water District going more than 20 years without a single financial report submitted to the State Comptroller – it is an annual requirement.

Getting the message Mr. Smith?  Quite the list for just one county isn’t it?  Rest assured, there are more examples of corruption that we could list but figured since you are always on the lookout for it, this might give you a starting point.  If you would like the facts to back all of these claims up just let us know, or simply search our web site because pretty much every one of these matters has been written about, with public records linked, and for the most part nothing was done about it nor was most of it ever published in your former paper.

The fact that nothing was done about most of these shows us how corrupt things really are in this county and coupled with the fact the paper refused to cover most of it as well, tells us all we need to know about those who operated the local paper at the time.

Sure there are some great people and great things about Edgar County, but the fact remains, it will always have a black eye for its failure to fix the problem of corruption.  By all indications the same group of people are right smack in the middle of continuing the legacy of not covering the truth as it relates to corruption.

If it makes you feel better to attack the messenger for claiming Edgar County may be the most corrupt in the county then by all means go for it, but know this, your words fall on deaf ears because the facts listed above are real!

How can you expose corruption if you can’t even recognize it when it is right in front of you?  I believe it might be wise for those in the media to get a better understanding of what the law states as it relates to public bodies.  You see, understanding the statutes applicable to those public bodies would help in exposing the corruption.




Lisa Madigan Still Failing on FOIA –

SPRINGFIELD, IL. (ECWd) –

On June 3, 2014 we reported (here) on a Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA) request for review that has been waiting a determination for two years.

In April I received an email from the Attorney General’s PAO that I now consider a complete lie:

John, we have been working to informally mediate the complaint, but at this stage given those discussions, we are also drafting a determination letter.  I think it’s important to stress, however, that our office does not have the authority under the transparency laws to require the public body to issue a refund, so our work is focused on educating the public body through the informal mediation process and ultimately a determination letter.

That was 14 weeks ago, and the original FOIA request was dated June 20, 2012, and the original complaint to the AG’s office dated July 21, 2012.

This has been over two years ago!

If Lisa Madigan has no more control over her office than what has become the miserable failure in citizen access to public records, there is no reason for her to be re-elected to a position that she is obviously not qualified to perform.

Is waiting more than TWO YEARS considered reasonable to anyone?

Lisa Madigan – you are a joke, and this is the shining example of why people are taking to the circuit courts for FOIA determinations – because you cannot do your job. If you resigned today nobody would notice.

Failing On FOIA (WinCE)

 

 




Lisa Madigan’s PAC Still Failing in FOIA Determinations –

SPRINGFIELD, IL. (ECWd) –

The Illinois Attorney General’s Public Access Counselor’s office is supposed to be issuing opinions and assisting in the interpretation of the Illinois Freedom Of Information Act and the Open Meetings Act. While they do assist a good number of citizens every year, there are plenty that fall through the holes.

When it takes two years or more to receive an opinion on alleged violations of the Freedom Of Information Act, that, in my opinion, is a complete failure.

Emails and phone calls for updates go nowhere, while requests for review filed long after, are rendered opinions long before previous ones.

Let’s take the request for review on the Clark-Edgar Rural Water District’s illegal imposition of a fee not consistent with the Freedom Of Information Act. When the public records were requested, the requester was notified that the usual computer operator was out of the office for a month and that they had to give him paper copies. They then proceeded to charge him $253.30 for those copies when the fault was their own.

The CERWD reason was that they “were not familiar with the software“, effectively admitting the records were in electronic format, and that it the fault of no one but themselves. There is no reason they should charge others for their own shortcomings.

He filed a complaint with the Public Access Counselor and has waited almost 2 years for an answer – and is still waiting.

Additionally, I requested comment from the AG’s office on why this is taking so long for an opinion.

Timeline:

In June of 2012 a request for review was filed with the Public Access Counselor’s offfice

August 30, 2012 was the last information request from the AG’s office about this review

October 26, 2013 was an email requesting the PAC finish their review

April 18, 2014, I requested comment from the PAC on why it was taking so long for an opinion.

April 21, 2014, Mr. Allen was contacted by the PAC and told they were working on resolving it.

April 23, 2014, I received an email from the AG’s office stating:

John, we have been working to informally mediate the complaint, but at this stage given those discussions, we are also drafting a determination letter.  I think it’s important to stress, however, that our office does not have the authority under the transparency laws to require the public body to issue a refund, so our work is focused on educating the public body through the informal mediation process and ultimately a determination letter.

 

That was over 6 weeks ago. It is now June 3, 2014 and still no determination letter and no “informal resolution“. It took the legislature less than a week to write and pass an entire FOIA bill to stick it to the taxpayers, but the AG’s office can’t write a determination letter in less than 2 years?

Failing On FOIA (WinCE)

 




CERWD Trustee Meeting…

OLIVER, IL. (ECWd) –

I attended the April trustee meeting of the Clark-Edgar Rural Water District last night, 4-21-2014.

During the meeting, there was discussion of more expansion provided grants are obtained.

There is a public hearing this evening at 6:30 at Keys Fertilizer for two townships wishing to be annexed into the district.

The board also:

-voted to pay bills

-tabled action until next month on a citizen request (not on the agenda)

-declined any pay increases for the trustees – it will stay at $600 per year

-declined water rate increases except to the top two tiers of customers

-received invoices from B&T Drainage

-received invoices from Francis Associates.

During public comment I asked the trustees if they could put a maximum dollar amount on the auto-pay service and the clerk stated it was not possible with the software they use. I also reiterated again that the statute allowed the district to charge newly annexed customers a rate commensurate with the money spent connecting them, effectively keeping existing customer from having to  foot the bill for connecting new customers. I also asked again if they had any written plan to connect customers that had already paid their deposits, some dating back as far as 24 years ago.

Their regular monthly meetings are 7:30 p.m. on the third Monday of the month at the Oliver location on Illinois Highway 1 (between Paris and Marshall).




Our Correction to the Beacon’s 2013 Review –

PARIS, IL. (ECWd) –

In an article in today’s Paris Beacon News meant to remind people of some of the more significant things that happened locally, there was one piece in particular that we have an issue with, and that is with the write-up on the electoral board.

While we would love to claim our place in history as the ones that compelled the Edgar County Electoral Board to convene for the first time in Edgar County history, we cannot accept that honor without changing this significant historical moment in history. We do not wish to strip the honor from the person who rightfully earned it…pen her name in the history books, she deserves the honor.

Actual Historic Moment: Sandra Neal

The honor of compelling the convening of the electoral board for the first time in history belongs to Sandra Neal (Article Here) who filed the first petition objection compelling the county clerk to call a meeting of the electoral board. Her objection was that a candidate circled “city” instead of “unincorporated area” on his statement of candidacy.

Staples vs Paperclips?
No! – It Was So Much More!

 There were petition objections alleging improper fastening, but there were also petition objections alleging a pattern of fraud and perjury, in that some signatures were not genuine and the petition circulator signed under penalty of perjury that they were genuine. What ended up happening with some  was the voluntary withdrawal of those petitions by the candidates after a key individual failed to report and ignored a legally served and binding summons. The improper fastening objections were over ruled by the board.

$5000 for staples vs paperclips – WOW!

This is the lie that Chris Patrick tried passing off during a public meeting while openly mocking the electoral process. As you have read above, it was much more than just staples vs paperclips.

Well over $4000 of that approximately $5000 price tag was, in our opinion, illegally paid to the “board attorney”, in that there was no court order authorizing the state’s attorney to hire him in the first place. This is a requirement. It was not followed. See these articles for an explanation: (etsb1, etsb2, recovered funds)

Petition Objection Article

Other articles on the Electoral Board

All of the supporting documents are within the above articles.




CERWD – “Engineer Firm” – Unprofessional Comments –

OLIVER, IL. (ECWd) –

During the November CERWD Trustee meeting, there was considerable discussion dealing with a “fracking” company attempting to purchase bulk water from the water district. Something must have happened with IDOT that revealed a water hose connected to a fire hydrant, then running through a culvert under a road. The water used was purchased as bulk, but the item questioned was using a hose to get across (under) the roadway. It appears the previous agreement between the CERWD and the fracking company was to purchase bulk water from the hydrant thru the use of a short hose into a truck located at the hydrant. The company determined a more efficient way for them was to fill whatever water holding device they used on the other side of the road, thus the hose used. As I understand it, the company had, since the IDOT complaint, turned the permit paperwork in, but the CEWRD representative said something that made IDOT believe no water would be sold. The final decision made during this meeting was not readily clear, but I understand (from the audio) the fracking company has to get a permit from IDOT and reapply to the district for bulk water.

After that discussion was over, the representative of Francis Associates (Bob was on vacation) followed the two people representing the fracking firm outside and then came back into the building. When he came back in, he preceeded to tell the CERWD Trustees that the firm had an outstanding debt, or invoice with Francis Associates and that is why he followed them outside. I don’t know if that was an attempt at influencing any future vote for or against providing water, but it certainly was not the way a professional firm should be acting towards another company. I suggest Francis Associates conduct some training on privacy laws and good professional conduct to keep this from happening in the future.

The next meeting of the Clark-Edgar Rural Water District is Monday, December 16, 2013 at 7:00 p.m. at the District building in Oliver, IL. (Agenda Here). It appears they are contemplating renewing Francis Associates contract at this meeting.

Audio of this portion of the meeting is here.

 

Audio of the complete Nov 18, 2013 meeting (Here) The extended conversion on the water issue starts at the 5:00 minute mark and lasts thru to the about the 1 hour mark.

 




CERWD Denies The Obvious on FOIA Responses –

OLIVER, IL. (ECWd) –

During the October meeting of the Clark-Edgar Rural Water District (CERWD) the Engineer Firm Representative, Bob Colvin of Francis Associates in Paris, talked about the awarding of another contract to B & T Drainage.

During that conversation, Bob stated that he had talked to a bidder during the bid process for the contract in question by saying: “When I talked to John, uh, a couple times during the bid, he said price, uh, pipe prices weren’t up at all. Meters, all that stuff’s up drastically, but, uh, mainline pipe is not up, so, again, he was one point two percent…”

Anyone remotely familiar with bidding processes for public contracts should know that communications between bidders and the public body (or their representative) during the bidding process is not allowed unless it is for some type of clarification, and all bidding entities are made aware of the converstations, and a detailed log is kept.

In an attempt at figuring out if other bidders were aware of these conversations, I requested all information and records relating to the above referenced conversation(s), the reply was that to the CERWD knowledge no communication existed. I then asked them to ask the engineer firm about any communications and the same answer was given.

So my question here, is how can the person representing the CERWD make an unsolicited comment, during a public meeting, that he did in fact talk to B&T during the bidding process, turn around and deny any communication(s) existed.

Here is that portion of the audio from the October meeting – you decide.

 

 

 

 

 




CERWD Denies Records – Then Produces When AG Gets Involved –

EDGAR CO. (ECWd) –

We recently submitted a FOIA request to the Clark-Edgar Rural Water District (CERWD) for 1099s on a particular individual that was receving “free” water for himself and his family…forever… – this was part of an agreement made when placing a pump station on his property.

The CERWD denied the records stating they were exempt for income tax related exemptions.

We then filed a request for review with the Illinois Attorney General’s office of the Public Access Counselor. They sent a letter of further inquiry, and one of the CERWD attorneys replied, and included the documents requested, stating that they no longer believed they were exempted records.

This is another fine example of using an attorney, just because you can, in an effort to withhold public records from the public. The CERWD could have saved a couple hundred dollars of YOUR money had they simply provided the documents when requested – but I’m sure they will add that to the line item for “FOIA costs” so it appears we are racking up costs by presenting a simple FOIA request. The fact still remains, there is really no need to have an attorney process FOIA requests.

I will have to give the CERWD credit for full compliance once they found out they were wrong, something other local public bodies still have a problem doing…

 AG’s futher inquiry letter:

Download (PDF, 69KB)


 

CERWD production of records letter 1 and 2:

Download (PDF, 32KB)

 
 

Download (PDF, 74KB)


 

 




Edgar Co. – Chris Patrick Mocks Electoral Process – VIDEO

EDGAR CO. (ECWd) –

During the June 12, 2013 Edgar County Board meeting, Chris Patrick was heard mocking the Illinois Election Code and the Electoral Process, the part of the electoral process that is the RIGHT of citizens, who allege a defect, to challenge the petitions of those running for office.

The article published at the time is here and it explains about what the objections were all about:

1. Sandra Neal made Edgar County History and filed the first-ever petition objection based on a candidate not circling “Unincorporated Area” instead of “City” on his Statement of Candidacy. This caused the County Clerk, by law, to call for a meeting of the Edgar County Electoral Board.

2. John and Kirk filed 4 objections based on the fact that they were not fastened.

3. John and Kirk filed 2 more based on a “pattern of fraud” to include signatures that were not genuine.

4. The person that circulated those 2 petitions failed to show for the scheduled hearing – and instead of facing the consequences of another failure to appear, and questioning under oath, he talked those candidates into withdrawing their petitions from consideration, not to mention the fact the Electoral Board failed to order compliance with a valid subpoena.

What hasn’t been dealt with in a court yet, is the fact that the Clark-Edgar Rural Water District violated the Election Code by using public funds to support a candidate.

No need to rewrite everything as we have already covered it in the past, but with Mr. Patrick bringing it up in the way that he did in an attempt at marginalizing the election code and the electoral process we thought the record needed set straight again.

One additional concern that was recently brought to our attention is that the Edgar County Electoral Board is a public body under the County of Edgar. With that being the case, we are looking into the situation as to whether the Board was authorized to hire private counsel or not. At first glance we do not believe they could do that on their own, since the State’s Attorney is their statutory legal advisor.

Not only did they hire private legal counsel for the petition objection hearings, they also hired private legal counsel to defend the Open Meetings Act civil suit filed against the board. Since our State’s Attorney is the prosecutor for the citizens of the county, and insists that this law be followed, we submitted a FOIA request for the paperwork that authorized the Electoral Board to hire a private attorney, not just once, but twice. An update will follow next week when we get the information, or get notified that there is no such documentation. IF there was no authorization for them to hire a private attorney, we fully intend on demanding the public funds spent on that attorney be returned to the citizens of Edgar County, just like we demanded with Craig Smith and his representation of the 911 Board.

Video of Chris Patrick mocking the electoral process – but before you watch it, ask yourself this: Is Chris really concerned about the money, or was he asking just to mock, in his own childish ways, the process of elections? If he was truly concerned about the money why didn’t he ask the same thing about the $64,000 for dog food and care as it relates to Dee Burgin?




CERWD Strikes Again – Water Rate and Fee Increases!

EDGAR CO. (ECWd) –

For all you people that voted for Clark Edgar Rural Water District candidates, thank you.

For all of those that voted to keep a single board member from the past, let this article be the wake up call to rattle your cage and make you understand what your dealing with.

The day before the election the CERWD had on their agenda a motion to increase your water rates.  By all indications they knew that would be a bad idea to do right before an election so they postponed that action and have now scheduled a meeting for April, 15th at 7:30pm and guess what is on the Agenda?

Raise your Water Rates and Tap Fees ………yet again!

If what Sandra Neal stated during her petition challenge to duly elected Richard Wilkins is to have any truth then there would be no need to raise the rates again.

Sandra Neal: “Our cost of pipe per mile is one of the lowest, if not the lowest, and the leader in that category in the whole state”. 

So where is the truth?

Mrs. Neal, if that is the case can you tell the good people in this water district why we have the highest water rates in the state when compared to other water districts of similar size?  Her comments don’t hold any water!  In fact, if there was a shred of truth to her claim we must ask, why raise the rates yet again?

At what point is enough, enough?  It’s been acknowledged they are losing customers because of the rates and I know for myself as well as others, our wells are looking pretty appealing if they raise rates again.

Tom Jones, the Chairman of the CEWD board, is also an Enerstar board member.  Anyone notice those rates lately?  What is it with these people that think raising taxes or rate fees is the fix to the problem?

First they need to recognize there is in fact a problem.  Debt is out of control in this nation, and this group isn’t the least bit bothered with over $24 Million of their own debt.

More debt than any public entity in either Clark or Edgar county!  That should tell you people something.

There insistence that the interest on their debt doesn’t count clearly tells us they have no respect for our money.   The insider dealings, payment of bills for work never performed and even the use of our money in electioneering to support their write in candidate during the petition challenge, this group believes it is their money to do what they want with it.

I would encourage every customer or potential customer to come to the meeting Monday night and express your concerns over never ending rate increases.

The election placed two new candidates on the board and in typical fashion, it appears the old board is not going to wait for any new input before sticking it to the customers in the district.  Not much different than limiting the public’s comment time to 3 minutes, which is the least amount of time of any public meeting I have ever attended and I have attended hundreds!

When the best interest of the people is put first our government can work.  When those interests are intentionally trampled and suppressed, we get what we have.

“The punishment which the wise suffer who refuse to take part in the government, is to live under the government of worse men”
– Plato




UPDATE: CERWD Election Results 2013 –

EDGAR CO. (ECWd) –

In a race that we have been watching closely, the CERWD has TWO new Trustees. We would like to extend our thanks to all that came out to vote!

Starting late last year, we circulated a petition for a referendum to change the trustees from appointed to elected. That referendum won by a landslide with an 86% YES vote.

There were a few households in the District that were left off the ballot in the November 2012 election, and we thought that problem was fixed. Turns out, nothing was fixed and there was some last minute corrections made to who was allowed to vote for the trustees. We will be trying to unravel that situation to determine what happened and the process that was followed to determine who could vote and who could not vote for CERWD Trustees. This District is no different, as far as who can vote, than a school district. If you reside within the district boundaries, you can vote. We will update this situation when more information becomes available.

Unofficial Election Results (let me know if my math is wrong):
(* = Elected Trustee)

DISTRICT TOTALS:
*Anita B. Wester – 1189
*Richard Wilken Jr. – 927
*Tom Jones – 1612
*Sandra Neal – 1566
*James Griffin – 1343
*Phil Adams – 1474
*Roger Brown – 1652
Robert Bogue – 794
Mr. Sprigg (Write-in) – 424

Broken down by County:

EDGAR COUNTY:
Anita B. Wester – 255
Richard Wilken Jr. – 201
Tom Jones – 357
Sandra Neal – 457
James Griffin – 425
Phil Adams – 358
Roger Brown – 333
Robert Bogue – 238
Mr. Sprigg (Write-in) – 180
 
CLARK COUNTY:
Anita B. Wester – 934
Richard Wilken Jr. – 726
Tom Jones – 1255
Sandra Neal – 1109
James Griffin – 918
Phil Adams – 1116
Roger Brown – 1319
Robert Bogue – 556
Mr. Sprigg (Write-in) – 244

The Next Step

The next step for the Trustees at their first meeting in May is to draw for the 4 year terms (4 trustees) and 2 year terms (3 trustees). Then they will elect a chairman.




CERWD Trustee Election – Please Vote!

EDGAR CO. (ECWd) –

86% of the people voted for change!  Change from appointed officials to elected.  If there is ever a time to send a message that We The People are tired of the cronyism and nepotism in our government, this is it.

I urge everyone to take a stand and vote for what is right and in the best interest of the public.  That best interest can only be continued with solid financials and it’s clear, those 20 year board members have driven your water district into debt to the tune of over $25,000,000.00 million dollars and voted to raise your water rates just about every year of their operations.

Their rates are some of the highest rates in the state compared to other water districts of similar size, and they continue to sell bonds and go deeper in debt – all while raising your monthly bill.  Sadly, as those same people raise your monthly bill they find it worthy to give Christmas presents to the employees and pay for it with your money!  That is not the leadership we need in any of our government operations.  Nor do we need your money being used illegally to support their hand picked political candidates.

In the meantime, please review the articles, at the below link, written over the course of the past 6 months or so that exposes what the current board members have done with your water district and your money!

What have the existing CERWD Trustees accomplished?
 
VoteChange2

 




Bid Rigging…A Primer…

EDGAR CO. (ECWd) –

This article is a primer on a couple articles we are currently in the process of writing. These are coming this week, and are quite revealing, if not shocking.

Bid Rigging (Collusion)

Bid Rigging is a form of fraud in which a commercial contract is awarded to a party, even though for the sake of appearances, other parties also presented bids (wikipedia). It is also a form of collusion. This collusion can occure between two contractors or between public officials and contractors.

Bid Rigging results in economic harm to the public, the public body, and to the unsuccessful bidders.

Bid Rigging is a felony criminal offense under Section 1 of the Sherman Act, that carries with it a fine not to exceed $100,000,000 (one hundred million dollars) for a corporation, and imprisonment not to exceed 10 years, or both.

The US Department of Justice has several articles on preventing and detecting bidding fraud (here, here).

Under the Federal Sherman Act, price fixing, bid rigging, etc,  are per se violations of the Sherman Act. Meaning once a scheme has been established it cannot be justified under the law – for any reason.

Suspicious Indicators

Some of the suspicious indicators, which may apply to recent contracts within certain levels of our local governments are:

“Prices mysteriously drop when a new bidder appears on the scene”

Bid prices drop whenever a new or infrequent bidder submits a bid”

Prices previously were different”

What an indicator these are! 🙂

 The Scam

Some may justify bid-rigging by saying they are “keeping the business local” as was eluded to by Mike Heltsley at a recent County Board Study Session – his train of thought was quickly shot down by Ben Jenness and Jeff Voigt as they both immediately informed him it was an illegal practice.

Whatever justification is used, it is unjustifiable – period.

The Duty of a Public Servant

A public servant in any capacity has the DUTY to stop and report any attempts at bid-rigging, or “keeping it local”, though unethical bidding/quoting processes. To think otherwise could undermine every level of government – don’t think those directly involved will not remind you that you knew and did nothing, in order to further facilitate future transactions. 

While the Sherman Act deal mainly with one or more contractors acting together to rig, swap, or otherwise exert influence on the bidding process, it could be used with contractors and members of a public body. A different Federal Law, Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO), deals with patterns of illegal activity involving more than one person.

BidRigging




CERWD Violates Election Law

EDGAR CO. (ECWd) –

The Clark-Edgar Rural Water District used public funds (payroll, office expense, materials, etc.) for the purpose of assisting candidates for office.

Election Interference

(10 ILCS 5/9-25.1) (from Ch. 46, par. 9-25.1; formerly Ch. 46, pars. 102, 103 and 104)
    Sec. 9-25.1. Election interference.
    (b) No public funds shall be used to urge any elector to vote for or against any candidate or proposition, or be appropriated for political or campaign purposes to any candidate or political organization. ***(Source: P.A. 87-1052.)

The CERWD has the right and obligation to provide records as to who lives in the Annexed District of the water district, however, anything else, such as comparing signatures to billing documents and deposit checks to speculate on their validity is beyond their obligation and is a clear misuse of taxpayer resources and time. They were doing work to rehabilitate challenged and flawed petitions to the benefit of candidates whom either they circulated petitions for, or are employed by, specifically the current Board Chairman and Candidate for the office in question who circulated petitions for David Sprigg.

Candidate’s Obligation

It is the obligation of the challenged individuals to do their own research, or pay individuals to do the research, not to rely on public staff to do it with public funds in public facilities with public materials and resources.

Even more concerning is the fact they failed to redact a vast amount of private information that is well established as private information under the Freedom of Information Act of this state.

Attorney Initially Denied Asking For Document

When questioned, the attorney for Sprigg first denied asking the district to create this document, then after further questioning, verbally acknowledged it was in fact him that asked for the assistance which produced the document in question.  The production of the document was no small feat, and I’m sure it took many hours to accomplish.

District’s Flawed Excuses

“The District employees were served with subpoenas on January 15, 2013. In response, the District started work on the report on January 16, 2013. David Sprigg called on January 18, 2013, at which time he was advised that the District was already working on the report in response to the subpoenas. The report was finished on January 19, 2013. ” – Kevin Conover, CERWD FOIA Officer

First of all, you have to ask yourself what being served with a subpoena has to do with comparing signatures with contracts and payment checks. A subpoena is nothing more than a demand to appear at a specific time and place to answer any potential questions.  There was no document demand included in the subpoena!

On January 24th, Kevin denied there was any paper documentation causing the production of the document, but in a later email, he states the subpoenas were what caused the production of the document.

On the document itself, signed and sworn to “The information in this document is said to be true and correct to the best of our knowledge.” Signed by Kevin Conover, Lisa Rigdon, and Notorized by Jennifer Gher. The very first statement on the document appears to contradict the other two excuses for its creation:

“On January 18, 2013 the CERWD office was contacted and asked for our assistance of clarifying the accusations of the Objector’s Petition of Kirk Allen and John Kraft to the Nominating Petitions of David Sprigg and Gerald Meeks.”

So, they first, in a written document, acknowledge they produced the document after they were “contacted” and asked to “assist” (taking care not to mention a name). It is clear that in subsequent communications with them that they were not entirely truthful with their later statements.

When you look at all of this in a package, it’s no wonder we see the vast amount of corruption and disregard for the law coming out of Edgar County.  Clearly no one is reading it because no one is going to enforce it!

I think most would agree however that these events are of such a egregious nature they must be held accountable.  Our Election process was tainted with corruption and clear violations of laws.

Have we forgotten the most recent election law violations right here in Paris Illinois?  The situation with Carolyn Brown Hodge, former top aid to Gov. Quin, who left her $119,158.00 a year job amid the illegal acts uncovered by the governments probe into whether she had done political work on state time?

She resigned and was fined $1,000.00 for campaigning on the states dime. Many have echoed, it was only e-mails she sent, however the point is, it violates the election code as well as state ethics guidelines.

I will say what sets her apart from the people at the water district, who have basically done far worse, Ms. Hodge did the “right” thing by resigning and even stated,  “I will take my medicine like everybody else should.”

“Like Everybody Else Should!”

That is the type of response most of us were raised with.  When you screw up you apologize and correct the wrong by never doing it again.  From there we move on and build a better society.  It’s called doing the right thing!

I think that is what most would expect in these situations however the attitude with many of the folks in question in this county is to refuse they ever did any thing wrong, and then try to manipulate or cover up the very things we are exposing.  That makes it even worse and if we continue to ignore it our society pays the price across the board.

Employees of the Clark Edgar Water District have in fact assisted candidates for election to the very public body they work for and did so on the tax payers dime!  That is a violation of numerous statutes and they should at a minimum resign for their actions.

 Election laws exist to preserve the integrity of our government. (Glenn v. Radden (1984), however ignorance and/or disregard for those very election laws does just the opposite!  

 

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CERWD and Petition Objections

EDGAR CO. (ECWd) –

Election laws exist to preserve the integrity of our government. (Glenn v. Radden (1984)

Sandra Neal Filed An Objection

The first petition objection filed was Sandra Neal’s objection to Rich Wilken’s petition based on his not circling “Unincorporated Area” instead of “City” on his Statement of Candidacy. This caused the County Clerk, by law, to call for a meeting of the Edgar County Electoral Board.

Allen and Kraft File Objections

These six objections were also heard during Electoral Board Proceedings.

Sitting before three elected officials who took an oath to uphold the law were 4 sets of candidate papers and petitions objected to by Kirk Allen and John Kraft.  Objected to because they were not fastened.  Eye witness testimony as well as the fact they sat in front of this electoral board unfastened you would think is all that is needed…Not in Edgar County.

Also before that board was two sets of petitions objected to based on a pattern of fraud, to include signatures that were not genuine!   Prior to the actual hearing on those, the candidates withdrew from the race.  It appeared to be clear that they did not want to put Joe Keys on the stand.  Good call, as the evidence is overwhelming.  Isn’t it interesting Joe Keys is involved in water district candidate petitions?  Interesting because his Brother-in-Law is none other than Bob Colvin, the very guy that makes his living off of the water district and must ensure his cronies stay in office.

The very foundation of our Country is based on the rule of law, and no matter how trivial you may think some of those laws are, they are the very laws we are bound to until we change them.  We cannot pick and choose what part of the law we want to adhere to or ignore.  Each and every time we widdle away at those laws we slowly slide into a world of lawlessness.

The Board and a Failure To Appear

Such is the case with the Edgar County Officers Electoral Board.  What type of hearing do you think you’re going to have when the Chairman states the law, that deliberations are required to be in public, and then informs everyone they are not going to do it that way.  That is a violation of the law that widdles away at our society.

Or when Joe Keys fails to appear even though he was subpoenaed.  The electoral board did nothing in that situation and the State’s Attorney, one of the officers on that board, told the objectors, “You’re on your own!” 

Wrong Mr. Isaf.  We are not on our own. We are on the side of the law, of which you appearently either don’t know or refuse to learn.   You sir did not follow the law nor its requirements.  The Election Code is VERY CLEAR on what your duties were, and you, along with the other board members, failed to do your job.

“In case any person so served shall knowingly neglect or refuse to obey any such subpoena, or to testify, the electoral board shall at once file a petition in the circuit court of the county in which such hearing is to be heard, or has been attempted to be heard, setting forth the facts, of such knowing refusal or neglect, and accompanying the petition with a copy of the citation and the answer, if one has been filed, together with a copy of the subpoena and the return of service thereon, and shall apply for an order of court requiring such person to attend and testify, and forthwith produce books and papers, before the electoral board.”  (Directly from the third paragraph of the Election Code statute!.)

If we don’t agree with the law we should change them through the legislative process.  Although slow and agonizing, it’s the way it’s done.  All too often I see a disregard for parts of the law because of opinions that it’s silly, or it makes no sense, or we find ourselves asking, what’s it going to hurt if we don’t follow it as its stated.  I hear explanations of what the statutes say, followed with a statement that we aren’t going to do it that way because other counties aren’t following the law either, as if that somehow justifies the disregard for the law.

What it’s going to hurt when we justify not following the law is our society!  When our personal opinions override clear statutory direction the integrity of our system becomes cracked.  The longer we go without fixing those cracks the worse things become.

Election Laws Preserve the Integrity of our Government and the Edgar County Officers Electoral Board did nothing but further its decay by their total disregard for the law.

Open Meetings Act Violations

In fact, they not only violated numerous election code statutes, but they also refused, in two different meetings, to allow the public their right to speak.  The hell with the First Amendment and the hell with the Open Meetings Act which they are bound to.  The board was politely asked, at both meetings to allow public comments and they refused. Those refusals have now been met with a lawsuit, Case Number: 2013-MR-8.  I suspect the county will lose that one hands down.

The District Voted

The watchdogs identified cracks in the water district to include the fact they didn’t even know they were a public body and have never even reported their finances to the state in over 20 years.  The watchdogs filed petitions to ask the voters if these people should be elected or appointed.  86% chose to be elected.  A clear indication that the people being served by this district are ready for a new direction.  That new direction established a total of 10 candidates for office!  TEN!

Petition Review

Of ALL the petitions we reviewed, and we reviewed them all, we found 6 that had major issues worthy of objections based on clear statute violations backed with case law.  We didn’t PICK the candidate then create the issue.  The fatal errors were done by the candidates themselves or the circulators they selected.

Our research gave us hope in the fact that our very election laws are written with specific meaning and specific purpose as to ensure the integrity of our government.

The evidence presented and the testimony supporting the evidence was so rock solid, the candidate’s attorney didn’t call a single one of them to the stand to refute the testimony or the very petitions in front of the electoral board.

The people believed, based on the evidence presented and the testimony heard, the public body would make the right decision and rule based on law.

Board Decision

Proved yet again that many of the elected officials in Edgar County have no reading comprehension beyond the 5th grade, assuming they even read the statute.

In their ruling it came down to a claim that the objectors must present evidence to prove the petitions, BEFORE BEING PRESENTED, or at a minimum, at the time they were presented, failed to meet the statutory requirement.

Not only does this fly in the face of all logic, it clearly is not supported by any case law or statute.  It would be impossible for any objector to prove petitions met the statutory requirement before filing.  The candidate is not under any obligation to turn over petitions for inspection and even if they did, the statute makes it clear they have to first be turned in before a claim of an error exists.

As if that is not enough, they insisted that at a minimum the objectors would have to prove they failed to meet the statutory requirements AT THE TIME THEY WERE PRESENTED.  

That too is impossible without camping out at the location they were turned in, and ensuring you were there the very second they handed them to the clerk.  If their position were to have any validity to it or support from case law, there would be no need for a clerk to comply with the statute and ensure the petitions’ security.

The bottom line, well in advance, contrary to board members claims, at least two of these members discussed critical elements of the case with a clear bias which provided the impression they already had their mind made up before they even heard the case.

Even the State’s Attorney, sitting as an electoral officer, denied there were any hostilities between Mr. Allen or Mr. Kraft  when they asked him to recuse himself because of the expressed hostilities.  He DENIED any hostility, but clearly he forgot about this comment in his email to Mr. Allen just three months prior.

From: Mark R. Isaf [mailto:statt@edgarcounty-il.gov]
Sent: Thursday, October 18, 2012 10:07 AM
To: Kirk Allen
Subject: Re: Witness fee

…From what I have observed and from what I have been told, your interests and that of Mr. Kraft are adverse to mine if not hostile…

Other Violations Of Law?

(10 ILCS 5/29-12) (from Ch. 46, par. 29-12)
    Sec. 29-12. Disregard of Election Code. Except with respect to Article 9 of this Code, any person who knowingly (a) does any act prohibited by or declared unlawful by, or (b) fails to do any act required by, this Code, shall, unless a different punishment is prescribed by this Code, be guilty of a Class A misdemeanor.
(Source: P.A. 96-832, eff. 1-1-11.)

  1. Refused to deliberate in Public
  2. Refused to allow the pubic their right to speak at an open meeting
  3. Refused to take action to ensure compliance with the subpoena as outlined in the election code

Any others laws that might be of concern to this public body?  Yes! They violated the objectors and one witnesses  Federally protected Constitutional Rights, which are also directly protected through the election code which they are bound to during the hearing!

(10 ILCS 5/29-17) (from Ch. 46, par. 29-17)
    Sec. 29-17. Deprivation of Constitutional Rights – Liability). Any person who subjects, or causes to be subjected, a citizen of the State of Illinois or other person within the jurisdiction thereof to the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution or laws of the United States or of the State of Illinois, relating to registration to vote, the conduct of elections, voting, or the nomination or election of candidates for public or political party office, shall be liable to the party injured or any person affected, in any action or proceeding for redress. (Source: P.A. 79-1363.)

A First Ammendment Constitutional violation occured when the board refused our right to speak at the meetings.

This post written by Kirk Allen.

Next article: CERWD violates the election code.

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$23,568,371.00 in Debt and expected to GROW!

EDGAR CO. (ECWd) – It appears that business as usual continues with the Clark-Edgar Rural Water District.  Current debt obligations, as reported in this year’s audit, which includes obligations of bond payments, interest payments, and a line of credit, comes to a whopping $23,568,371.00 dollars.

Yes, $23.5 Million dollars.

Now in fairness, as claimed by the Chairman, Tom Jones, they don’t count interest so it’s not really that much debt.  If you don’t count the interest they are sitting at $16,397,311.00 dollars according to the math in the 2012 audit.

What I find interesting with that position is that last year alone they paid $451,279 dollars in interest payments.

You know, the interest they don’t count!

DON’T TAKE MY WORD FOR IT!  READ FOR YOURSELF!

2011 Audit  –  2012 Audit 

The line of credit loan they have hasn’t seemed to have been reduced any either.  December of 2011, according to the audit, was at an obligated debt figure of $1,580,723.00 which has now grown to $2,109,724.00 dollars, which represents more than a half a million more in debt in 12 months!

More disturbing in this financial reporting are items found on page 33 of 65 in the 2011 audit and 38 of 68 in the 2012 audit.

Note #20 – In November of 2011, a payment of $22,850 was received from FEMA to reimburse the District of additional costs incurred during ice storms in January and February of 2011. The payment was not accrued in the April 30, 2011, financial statements due to the delay and the uncertainty of the payment.

Now, I admit I am not a CPA, but I do know that when the SAME EXACT NOTE NUMBER, which has the SAME EXACT STATEMENT appears two years in a row in an audit, there is a problem.

How many more items are simply cut and pasted in this audit?  I understand how in 2011 the payment received after the April 2011 financial statements would not accrue, however, it makes NO SENSE for that payment to not have accrued in the April 2012 financial statements!

Even more disturbing is the information provided to the Illinois Comptroller’s office, who by the way is now being sued by For the Good of Illinois for non compliance with the Freedom of Information Act.

According to the financial report filed by the CPA who has claimed the water district is a Quasi-government entity, which it is not, fails to disclose a single thing about the line of credit loan on the Statement of Indebtedness page.  The only thing they listed were the Revenue Bonds.

For total salary to all employees, they report $226,738.00 to the Comptroller, yet their own audit reflects $256,068.00 on page 46 of 68 in the 2012 audit? How do you get a $29,3330.00 dollar difference from the audit versus what is provided to the State?

Or payroll tax reported to the state of $17,345.00, however, no such entry was found in the audit?  On page 42 of 68 is the only reference I found to payroll tax liabilities, and that number only reflects $2,702.00, or $14,643.00 different from what they reported to the state?

And let’s not forget this very same public body is planning on going another $5,000,000.00 in debt very soon with yet another bond! 

Did you know they hold more accumulated debt than all of the debt held by Clark County and Edgar County government bodies combined? 

Like I said, don’t take my word on the figures!  Download the files, go to the state web links and cross reference for yourself.  I am human and may have missed something but after cross checking three times I am pretty confident in what I am reporting!

DebtNew

 




CERWD – Attorney Fees for Unwinnable Case

EDGAR CO. (ECWd) –

“Ensuring Open and Honest Government”

That is the statement on the Illinois Attorney General website – it is there for a reason. The Freedom Of Information Act and Open Meetings Act are two of the primary statutes that compel public bodies to meet in the open and respond to requests for documents. When the statutes contain language and terms like “fundamental obligation” and “primary duty”, it is clear what the Legislative intent of these two statutes are.

After receipt of a FOIA request for the attorney invoices, it is clear that the CERWD wasted public funds – your money – hiring an attorney to review FOIA requests and for defending a lawsuit in which, if they bothered to read the actual statute, was unwinnable for the district.

The action of hiring an attorney to review a FOIA request should immediatelybe an indicator that a public body is attempting to hide or conceal information from the public. If a person can read and comprehend, it is simple to determine what documents must be released and what personal information can be redacted from those documents. The purpose of the free online training and certification at the Illinois Attorney General’s website is to certify the minimum requirements of a FOIA officer – pass that and there is no need to hire an attorney. There is also free training for the general public.

Maybe if we charge them lawyer’s fees…

It is also clear, from their October meeting audio, they fought the FOIA lawsuit thinking they could “charge me the lawyer’s fees” in an attempt to “change our attitude.” The real problem is that some public officials think they can control what public documents the public are allowed to inspect. Some even go as far as keeping documents in the possession of contractors thinking they can avoid the FOIA law, which is clearly not the case.

Refering to FOIA and access to public documents as “silly”, calling it a “a waste of time“, and “a lot of nonsense” makes it even clearer what their intentions were. I do not believe the legislative intent was silly, nonsense, or a waste of time. Comments like these point to the fact that some public officials have been in office for too long and are becoming arrogant, with no sense of responsibility to the public they serve.

The bottom line is that the CERWD Trustees decided to waste your money on an attorney, instead of simply turning over documents they are obligated by law to provide. This has amounted to over $7445.67 – so far…

Click here to view the Invoices: in  new window.

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CERWD Settles FOIA Suit – Writes Check

EDGAR CO. (ECWd) –

After a failed Motion to Dismiss, the Clark-Edgar Rural Water District trustees determined it was in their best interest to cut their losses and provide the documents requested . This should have happened in the beginning, but it appears the trustees would rather spend YOUR money on an attorney and court costs.

Nonsense – Waste of Time – We need an Education?

In previous articles, we noted that the CERWD decided to hire an attorney (even though the statute governing them does not allow it) to “deal with” FOIA requests, since they thought providing public documents upon request was not in their best interest. Tom Jones, the chairman, called FOIA “a lot of nonsense” and “a waste of time“, their new attorney stating that we (watchdogs) need an education, another trustee stating “maybe if they lose the case and we can charge them for lawyers fee, maybe that’ll change their attitude,” it is clear their intentions were to deny requests and charge fees not in compliance with the FOI Act.

Did CERWD Learn Anything?

We now see who received the education and who is paying for the fees and costs of this action that could have been taken care of by simply following the law in the first place.

As for the person that said “all the more reason for this board to stick together” – my response would be that if you are not breaking the law or trying to hide things, there is no reason to “stick together” or to hire a “FOIA Attorney” – especially when dealing with PUBLIC documents.

I did learn one thing through filing this FOIA suit – that a  lawsuit goes 2 to 3 times faster than filing complaints through the Illinois Attorney General, and that anymore lawsuits could result in the Court imposing a fine on the public body.

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