Coles County sold bonds to construct office building for Regional Education Superintendent

Coles Co. (ECWd) –

As the State of Illinois crumbles from failures of our public officials to know and do their job, one only need to look at their local government to see much of the same problems.  For years we have been asking public officials a simple question.  Where in the law does it give you the power to do what you did?  Commonly known as Dillon’s Rule.

Who knew Coles County was $1,105,000.00 in Bond Debt?  According to its Comptroller filing, the county sold Revenue Refunding Bonds, Series 2008, among other Bonds, to “finance construction of an office building for the Regional Office of Education”. The original issue of those bond was $600,000.00 of which they currently owe $270,000.00, however that number does not reflect the interest. 

Is county government allowed to sell bonds to build an office building for the Regional Office of Education? Where in the law does it give them the power to do what they did?

How the game is played.

The School code has outlined County Board obligations as it relates to the Regional Superintendent.

(105 ILCS 5/4-2) (from Ch. 122, par. 4-2)
    Sec. 4-2. Office and supplies. Provide for the county superintendent of schools a suitable office with necessary furniture and office supplies.

Although the counties code does not specifically permit the County to bond for an office building for the Regional Superintendent,  the Building Commission Act does, which is how the county built this office building.

Is there anyone in their right mind that spends $600,000.00 plus interest to build an office building so you can provide a suitable office for the Regional Superintendent?

Under Dillon’s rule, the Building Commission has 1)powers granted in expressed words; 2) Those necessarily or fairly implied in or incident to the powers expressly granted, and 3.) Those essential to the declared objects and purposes of the corporation, not simply convenient, but indispensable.

Working backward, most would agree that building an office building is not essential in order to provide office space.  Some may contend that building an office building is necessarily or fairly implied to the power granted of providing office space.  I think that is a stretch.   That leaves us with the first rule, powers granted in expressed words.

Although the Building Commission has the power to sell bonds and build buildings, the Public Building Commission Act has limitations set by resolution when they were created and can not be expanded without the approval of the voters.   The PBCA states,  The County Board of any county that has created a public building commission for a limited and specific purpose may expand that purpose by resolution.

Two questions:

  • What did the Resolution creating this commission outline as the limited and specific purpose?
  • Why are the taxpayers of Coles County burdened with this expense when the Regional Superintendent represents six others counties from that office? (Clark, Cumberland, Douglas, Edgar, Moultrie, & Shelby Counties)

An FOIA request has been issued for a copy of the original Resolution that “shall specify the limited purpose for which such Public Building Commission is to be created.”  Any bets there was any reference to the construction of an office building so the county would be able to provide a suitable office for the Regional Superintendent?

As this relates to the other counties obligations, we understand there is a lease agreement with those counties and the Building Commission.  That too has been FOIA’d and we will update accordingly.

We also note there have been numerous school superintendents that are convinced the duties of Regional Superintendent could easily be performed by the applicable School Superintendents, which would save a small fortune to the taxpayers.

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Coles County Board Meeting met with angry citizens –

COLES CO., IL (ECWd) –

The Coles County Board held its monthly meeting on May 9, 2017, at the Coles County Courthouse.

The Board moved to a larger room when it became apparent that attendees greatly outnumbered available chairs in its regular board room.  Never mind the fact they ignored previous requests to make this move prior to the meeting.

During a lengthy public comment period, several citizens expressed their displeasure of recent increases in their real estate tax assessments. Our previous articles on this situation can be found at the link here.

Among the complaints were that an appraiser was illegally hired and all assessments should be invalidated, violations of civil rights as a result of inequitable taxation, improper publishing of tax notices, and several other items.

The video is below, and we apologize for the audio not matching up with the video in some parts of it.

https://youtu.be/9KJ2OocU81s

Additional stories aired on WCIA and WAND as both stations were present with their news crews.
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Coles County “Commercial Assessor” is actually a Contractor – not an Employee –

COLES CO., IL. (ECWd) –

Coles County “Commercial Assessor” is actually a Contractor – not an Employee, and has never been properly contracted with, nor properly appointed.

We now have positive proof that the Commercial Assessor, Robert Becker, used by the Supervisor of Assessments in Mattoon Township is not an “employee” of the SOA and never has been. He is a “contractor” performing the work of the SOA, in which neither the SOA nor the county board had the authority to contract with.

At the April 2017 Coles County Board meeting, the State’s Attorney, County Board Chairman, and Supervisor of Assessments, all claimed several things when questioned on Becker’s authority to conduct assessments, the board’s authority to contract with him, and the SOA’s authority to contract or hire him as an employee.

During public comment, the following happened:

  • The claim was made that there never was a “contract” with Becker, and therefore he could not be a “contractor”
  • The claim was made that his submission of, and the board’s approval of, a “proposal”, was exactly that – approval “of the submission of” the proposal by Becker and did not constitute a contract nor acceptance of the conditions contained in the proposal
  • The SOA and SA claimed Becker was hired as an employee of the SOA’s office

Here are the problems with the above statements made by Coles County officials:

  • The county previously claimed, or alluded to his proposal being a contract and even provided a copy of it when asked for the contract – only when we wrote about the SOA not having statutory authority to contract with someone to perform her statutory duty did the county’s story change
  • When asked about Becker’s employment status or part-time or full-time, the SOA said “part-time” – however, the SOA does not have the statutory authority to hire (appoint) any employees without first obtaining “advice and consent” from the county board
  • Additionally, the board has to set any SOA employee compensation – the county board never advised and consented to Becker’s hire (appointment) and never set his compensation
  • Becker uses software purchased by the county, he uses a county computer to access the software, and uses the computer in an office owned by the county
  • Becker “invoices” the county for work performed – Do employees invoice their employers? No.
  • Becker received IRS Form 1099, which annotates “nonemployee compensation” – is that the proper reporting to the IRS for employees of a public body? No.
  • There are certain statutory provisions spelling out who has statutory authority to conduct assessments (see this article)

Click to enlarge

Kind of makes us wonder what excuses will come next…
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Coles County Board dancing around truth on Assessments contract (video) –

Coles Co. (ECWd)

Get caught violating the law and more often than not, public officials will do the following.

  • Ignore you
  • Deny they did anything wrong
  • Make excuses
  • Cover up their actions
  • Lie

Coles county requested bids from two people for assessments in the county.  We asked for the bid publication and find they violated the procurement code for county government.  The fact they were seeking bids was never published, a requirement we wrote about in this article.  Not only did they not publish they were seeking bids, they told one requester of records that it was not required as it was a professional service.  One only needs to review the bid proposal to see the person admits to having limited experience, and to ensure competency, he will take some classes.  That hardly qualifies for professional services:

Professional service means the person being hired possesses a high degree of professional skill where the ability or fitness of the individual plays an important part.

Clearly, when a person admits in his proposal he has limited experience, he does not meet the criteria of possessing a high degree of professional skill, not to mention there are quite a few assessors/appraisers that were denied the chance to compete for this business.  How many assessors or appraisers would have done the same work for less money?  We will never know, thanks to the failing to follow written policies/laws.

After getting paid for over a year, we proved he had not complied with his proposal and did not take the classes he said he would.  Most people would call it a breach of contract.  We raised the issue with the county, and presto, they now claim he took the classes, which confirms he had not before, just as we pointed out.

We raised the issue of legality of contracting with a person to do the Supervisor of Assessments’ job during a county board meeting.  State’s Attorney Brian Bower assured me he would look into our allegation and get back with us.  Keep in mind, when I exposed this I provided him the statute that outlines the powers of the Supervisor of Assessments.  Nothing in the statute permits her to contract.  We wrote about that in this article.

Over a month of silence (Ignored)

This past Coles County Board meeting was met with a new twist.  Finger-pointing by the County Chairman and State’s Attorney in the form of, we didn’t do anything (deny), it was the Supervisor of Assessments.  Now they claim there was no contract, but instead this bid proposal provided under the claim it was done under the Professional Services clause, is just a proposal (excuses).  Never mind the fact the county board voted on it, not the Supervisor of Assessments.

Now, the State’s Attorney, County Board Chairman, and the Supervisor of Assessments claim he is an employee.  To date, the county has not produced any agenda or minutes where the county board considered and fixed the compensation of Mr. Becker, both requirements under the law, nor have they produce the minutes where the board gave their “advice and consent” to the hiring of Mr. Becker as required by law. They have not produced any IRS W2 or 1099, and we have confirmed there was no employment application for Mr. Becker. (Coverup?)

Now for the lies:

  • The paper trail points to a contract awarded to Robert Becker that was never put out for bid under a false claim it was not needed because of a claimed exemption.  So how did we go from justification for not bidding out a contract, to there is no contract because he is an employee?
  • Since when does an employee submit invoices for payment that includes “Thanks for your business”?  It’s clear, Mr. Becker is a contracted vendor for the county and not an employee as he is being paid based off of submitted invoices and there are no taxes being withheld as required by law for employees.
  • County Chairman Metzger claims the $115,000.00 value of this bid proposal was not for one year, which I insinuated during the meeting.  He immediately responded that it was not for one year, it was a four-year contract.  OOOPS!  He admitted it was a contract and everyone in the room knows he knows what this really is. One minute it’s a 4-year contract while moments earlier it’s not a contract for services but a contract for employment with the county.
  • Chairman Metzger pointed out this $115K value was for a four-year deal.  Really?  Says who?  With What Proof?   The proposal has absolutely no reference to how many days, weeks, months, or years this claimed service is going to be provided so where did he come up with this being a 4-year deal?

We suspect we will be able to pile on a few more lies once several requests for records are answered but for now, I think the public gets it.

These public officials hired an insider to do the job of the Supervisor of Assessments, circumvented the law, got caught, and now have chose the path to lie about out it.  Each and every one of them should resign for their clear inability to be honest with the public.

And for those board members who sat there in silence, Silence is Consent!  Speak up and fix this mess or you too need to resign.

https://youtu.be/rXRJbdEUMSE

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Coles County – Assessment roll back path provided by Department of Revenue- County ignoring it?

Coles Co. (ECWd)

In order to follow the mess created by Coles County officials as it relates to the assessment of commercial property, we urge you to review all the articles written to date found here, here, here, and here.

The State’s Attorney and County Board members have been consistent with statements that if there was a way to fix the assessment issue they would. They have defaulted to the fact the assessment was published so there is nothing they can do.

We contend that is not true and communications between County Board member Cory Sanders and the Department of Revenue appear to spell out quite clearly why such a position is not true.

“Cory, there is nothing that specifically allows you to roll back assessments, especially if they were correctly done.”

If they were done correctly?  What does it take for them to be done correctly?  How about the person doing them has to be allowed by law to do them, which in this case, did not happen and was covered in detail in this article.  So for starters, they were not done correctly because the law outlining who does those assessments was not followed.

I would be careful on rolling back the assessments that were already done, as there will be republishing requirements along with other requirements. We cannot provide guidance about doing this; you would be best to consult your state’s attorney regarding this matter. However, I can tell you the statute does not address a procedure for rolling back assessments on properly assessed property.”

So it is clear, the Department of Revenue is on the record instructing that rolling back assessments brings with it republishing requirements along with other requirements.  They also, once again, focus on there not being a procedure for such a roll back on the properly assessed property.

The Department of Revenue is telling them the way to fix this based on what they are being asked and it’s clear, since the assessments were not done properly (legal assessor) then there is, in fact, a way to roll them back.

It’s called leading!  As in take the bull by the horns and fix this problem by rolling back the assessments to the 2015 schedule because the 2016 assessments were not done by anyone legally permitted to do them, thus they were not properly done.

There is no penalty language in the statute that we could find for rolling them back so it appears the comments from the review board may be the real reason they are refusing to fix this mess.  According to one of the board members (video to be published later), they had to do this reassessment because they were being threatened by the City of Matton with a lawsuit if they didn’t do it.

Pick your Poison

The lawsuit the county is now facing is not one from local political figures but rather local business owners who stepped up and hired a Harvard Top Gun.  The lawsuit that may well be filed in a matter of days is a Federal lawsuit and points to a violation of the US Constitution Equal Protection and Due Process Clauses.

Keep it simple

Mr. Sanders asked the Department of Revenue three questions and it appears only two were answered.  We will answer all three.

  1. Can the county revert the township they did reassess and delay the new assessed valuations until all townships this year so all reassessments are hitting people in the same calendar year?
  2. Is there any kind of penalty the county could receive if we do revert back to previous assessment for this year?
  3. Is there a statute that says there is nothing we can do in this situation?

This simple:

  1. Considering the assessments were not done correctly, you can roll them back to the previous year and as informed by the Department of Revenue, you would have publishing obligations to meet.
  2. No, there is no penalty to the county for reverting back to the previous year.  If there was a penalty, they would have been hit with it for the last 16 years that assessments were not being done.
  3. N0, there is no statute that says there is nothing you can do.  There are statutes that tell you how to fix this problem.

We challenge the County to present the information outlined below to the Department of Revenue, along with our question and see what kind of response they get back.  I suspect they will not ever ask it because it is an admission they did not follow the law in the first place but in the event they truly want to do the right thing by the people, present it and see what they say.

The assessments for the commercial property was not done by anyone legally allowed to do them as defined in the law.  That being the case, we contend the assessments were not done correctly. With that position, we intend to roll back to the previous properly done assessment and re-publish that applicable information.  Is there any other requirement beyond the republishing that we need to do?  In addition, we find no penalty in the statutes for following this path. 

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Coles County – Will violations of law be self-corrected or is another lawsuit on the horizon?

Coles Co. (ECWd) –

In just about every public body we get asked to look into, we know within the first few Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests if there is a problem.  Coles county is not new to us as it relates to illegal acts and failure to hold people accountable.  In fact, almost 2 years ago we wrote this article exposing a litany of wrong-doing and to date, those violators have been protected.  In that article I asked:

Where is a person to turn when a State’s Attorney can selectively ignore felony crimes being committed by the top law enforcement person in the county, the Sheriff? 

All we have ever asked is that our laws be followed and enforced accordingly. When we were contacted regarding the recent assessment problems, John Kraft filed a FOIA for key assessment related records and the County refused to provide the records.  That was the first red flag.  After Kraft filed suit against the county for not providing the records, the county finally provided some of the records and I understand that Kraft is awaiting a response from the State’s Attorney on that matter.

We encourage you to read each of these three articles in sequence, here, here, and here, as to better understand the big picture in Coles County. At is evident in the responses to problems exposed in the County, they are able to correct them and in some cases did so quickly.  We appreciate that, which is how it’s supposed to work. When you identify you’re not following the law, take corrective action and follow the law moving forward.

What does that have to do with this series on the assessment problems?  What if we told you the assessments were never done?  What if we told you there was never a legal contract to have the assessments done? Does it matter the contract entered was breached?  What if we told you the pickle they are in on this assessment mess can, in fact, be fixed?  We will lay out the answers to each of those questions and then the County Board can determine if they are going to correct the wrongs and follow the law or ignore it.  If they choose to ignore it, well more on that later.

What if we told you the assessments were never done? 

As we laid out in this article, assessments are to be done by certain public officials, or contractors hired by the Township in which the assessments are taking place.  That was not done in the case of  Coles County as it relates to commercial assessments.  The County is under the belief they hired a contractor to do those assessments.

What does it take to enter into a legal contract at the county level?  First, it takes statutory authority for the contract in question.  As we outlined in previous articles, the County has yet to provide any statutory authority to contract out duties of the Supervisor of Assessments. All that aside, action to approve a contract must appear on an agenda with sufficient information to inform the public as to what “actions” the board intends to take during a meeting. Let’s follow their own paper trail and expose violations of law.

The Coles County Officers Rules Committee agenda for April 6th, 2015, lists under Old Business, “A. Commercial appraisal proposal“. One might, with a stretch, interpret that item to be possible action item although it does not specifically say any action is going to be taken.

The minutes from that meeting reflect action was taken.  In fact, the action taken was quite telling. “After much discussion, Mr. Weber moved to table this proposal until the next meeting, seconded by Mr. Metzger. MOTION CARRIED: A YES: Unanimous (6) NAYES: None (0)”

So it is clear, matters pertaining to the appraisal proposal was tabled until the next meeting, which would be the next meeting of this committee.  What ended up happening appears to be troubling as a pattern is beginning to be identified.

The next county board meeting, May 12th, 2015, agenda reflects no action item of any kind related to the commercial appraisal proposal.  In fact, the reference of “Proposal re: Commercial Appraisals”, is found on the agenda under the heading of Committee Reports.  That tells the public those items under that heading deal with reports.  Reports are not action items and action taken under such a heading may constitute an Open Meetings Act violation.  The average citizen who may have an interest in attending a meeting where action on a contract would take place would look at this agenda and see that no action is being taken outside of approving minutes and appointing members to a Fire District.

So the question becomes, how does a tabled committee item, tabled until their next meeting, end up on the full County Board agenda in the first place.  Looking at the minutes from that meeting, the picture becomes even clearer.

The County board not only took action on a Commercial Appraisal item listed under reports, but they took action on every item listed under Reports.

Now is the time for the State’s Attorney to do his job and represent the people.

The people’s right to be informed on actions their officials are taking has been violated and there is plenty of case law on this type of matter to support such a position.

We are asking the State’s Attorney to nullify the action taken at this meeting, declare it null and void, as in void ab-initio, and place such action items properly on a new meeting agenda so that the public is properly informed on what actions are being taken by their public officials, provided such action is supported by law.

In the event the State’s Attorney is unwilling to take that appropriate action and fix the clear violation internally, we will file a formal complaint under the Open Meetings Act asking him to prosecute the case in accordance with the provisions in the law, which states;

(5 ILCS 120/3) (from Ch. 102, par. 43)
    Sec. 3. (a) Where the provisions of this Act are not complied with, or where there is probable cause to believe that the provisions of this Act will not be complied with, any person, including the State’s Attorney of the county in which such noncompliance may occur, may bring a civil action in the circuit court for the judicial circuit in which the alleged noncompliance has occurred or is about to occur, or in which the affected public body has its principal office, prior to or within 60 days of the meeting alleged to be in violation of this Act or, if facts concerning the meeting are not discovered within the 60-day period, within 60 days of the discovery of a violation by the State’s Attorney or, if the person timely files a request for review under Section 3.5, within 60 days of the decision by the Attorney General to resolve a request for review by a means other than the issuance of a binding opinion under subsection (e) of Section 3.5.

If the State’s Attorney is truly focused on doing the right thing and following the law, as we want to believe, we should expect nothing less than him taking action to rectify this problem.  Taking the appropriate action, declaring the contract void ab-initio, means from day one it did not exist, thus the assessments in question were never done, or at a minimum, done without any legal authority. If you’re going to raise people’s taxes you had best ensure the person doing the assessments was authorized to do those assessments, both by statutory authority and legal action under the Open Meetings Act.

In addition, any future agendas for this public body needs to inform the public with sufficient information when action is going to be taken on an item.  This has not been happening for some time in Coles County.

We look forward to a response from the county officials on this matter.

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Coles County – Special meeting and procurement requirements matter –

Coles Co. (ECWd) –

Over the years we hear complaints that our Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests are nothing but fishing missions and do nothing but cost the public bodies money to respond.  What most of those naysayers fail to understand, is each and every FOIA we submit is done for a purpose related to information we have that points to those public bodies not following the law.

In many cases, simply asking for the information wakes them up to the fact what they had been doing was not consistent with the law.  For example, our pointing out that the Coles County Board meeting agenda was not on the website nor available to the public 48 continuous hours led to them placing all the agendas on their web page. That is a proactive approach to problems identified.  We thank them for doing the right thing.

I recently requested the mandated items pertaining to the holding of a special meetings by the Coles County Board.  Those requested items are listed below:

  • A copy of written request addressed to the clerk of the board for a special meeting of the county board that reflects one-third of the members of the board making said request for a special meeting as required by law.
  • Copy of written notice to each member of the board informing them a special meeting has been called by one-third of the members of the board.
  • Copy of the notice of such meeting published in the newspaper as required by law.

What many County Boards don’t know is that there are specific statutes pertaining their duties and obligations when it comes to having a special meeting.  These specific obligations are above and beyond those required by the Open Meetings Act.  Those obligations can be viewed at this link from the Counties Code.

What I requested was for the last three special meetings held by the County Board. Turns out, the Coles County Board in place during those last three meetings violated the law and held those meetings without the proper number of written requests, notice to other board members, and publication in the paper.  Interestingly they indirectly sold the former States Attorney under the bus and blamed him.

The response I got back was encouraging, yet disappointing.  We appreciate that our request brought awareness to the current County Board as it relates to their duties if they want to hold a special meeting, however, we must ask, why didn’t they already know that?

Response from the County

“The last three special meetings of the County Board held November 26, 2012, November 1, 2010 and November 27, 2006 were called by the Chairman. After consulting with our current State’s Attorney, this was not the proper way to call a special meeting due to the fact that the Chairman was not elected by the voters of the County. Thanks for making the County Board aware of this situation to better run our government.

I appreciate that they consulted the State’s Attorney on this matter, but is such a basic duty of the County Board really so difficult to read and understand that they have to eat up his time for legal advice?   Legal consultation aside, we do appreciate the response, which tells the public they do in fact know how to take corrective measures once they are made aware of noncompliance with the law.

We also had raised the issue of Open Meetings Act training compliance during one of the recent meetings and turns out, at the time, there were only three board members compliant.  We are pleased to report that after notifying the board of the neglect of duty statute that brings civil penalties, the State’s Attorney confirmed that they only had one more board member that was not finished with their mandated training and assured me it was being taken care of.  We thank them for doing the right thing.

The Open Meetings Act training is one of importance because it is designed to educate those elected officials of what they can and can’t do during meetings.  For example, they would learn that any action taken in a public meeting must be properly listed on the agenda as an action item and contain sufficient information to inform the public what action is to be taken.  A recent example of how failing to do that can be found in this recent article where the 911 Coordinators Contract was declared null and void by the State’s Attorney because of failure to properly place it on the agenda for action.  We thanked them for doing the right thing.

Another recent example is our own lawsuit against the Clark County Park District. This case dealt with insufficient information on an agenda that was acted on.  You can read the court’s ruling at this link, which is now case law.

Not convinced following procedures can be problematic?  Ford County State’s Attorney just last week nullified a contract that was awarded without proper bid solicitations.  The contractor who initially was awarded the bid had already spent money towards items the county requested, yet that has no bearing on the case because county procurment laws were not followed and he could be left holding the bag, so to speak.

“There’s a case from the Fourth District (of the Illinois Appellate Court), which is what Ford County is in, that addressed a similar type of issue. It says that where a statute requires competitive bidding, compliance with the statute is mandatory. The failure to comply renders the result and contract invalid. So that’s kind of where we’re at today.”

We thank Ford County Officials for doing the right thing.

We also thank the Coles County officials for taking the steps to fix matters such as proper agenda postings, open meetings act training, and special meeting notices.  That is a sign that they want to do things the way the law intended.  We can only hope they take similar steps to fix the assessment issue we wrote about here and here.

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Coles County Assessments – Does the oath of office mean anything?

Coles Co. (ECWd)

In Illinois, we have laws passed by our legislature with the purpose of them being followed. The laws pertaining to Township assessments are very clear, however, it is even clearer that certain public officials in Coles County are not following those laws and it’s the taxpayers that are now paying for it.

Considering all the County Board members took an Oath of Office, is it asking too much for them to honor their Oath?  Or are we now at a point in our society where our words are no longer our bond?

The recent assessment of commercial property in Mattoon Township has raised many questions of the legality of the entire process and we intend to spell out why the County has a serious problem with contracting out obligations of elected and appointed officials.

Who can assess Township property?

35 ILCS 200/2-45(a)“In all counties under township organization, township or multi-township assessors shall be qualified as required by subsections (b) through (d) of this Section and shall be elected as provided in this Code. Township or multi-township assessors shall enter upon their duties on January 1 following their election, and perform the duties of the office for 4 years.”

35 ILCS 200/2-60-  “(a) When any township or multi-township assessment district fails to elect an assessor or when an assessor’s office becomes vacant for any reason specified in Section 25-2 of the Election Code, the township or multi-township board of trustees shall fill the vacancy in townships or multi-township assessment districts by appointing a person qualified as required under Section 2-45 or as revised by the Department under Section 2-52.”

“(b) In the alternative, a township or multi-township assessment district shall contract with a person qualified as required under Section 2-45 or as revised by the Department under Section 2-52 to do the assessing at a cost no greater than the maximum salary authorized for that township or multi-township assessment district under Section 2-70.”

Can it be any clearer that Township assessments are to be done by an assessor that is elected, appointed, or contracted by the Township or multi-township?   In the event the Township or Multi-Township officials are unable to fill that position through one of the three options or fail to complete their obligations there is only one other way for those assessments to get done.

County Supervisor of Assessments

35 ILCS 200/9-230“(b) If the supervisor of assessments determines that the township or multi-township assessor has not completed the assessments as required by law before returning the assessment books under this Section, the county board may submit a bill to the township board of trustees for the reasonable costs incurred by the supervisor of assessments in completing the assessments.”

The law is crystal clear on assessments and it provides the power to assess to specific people and we can not find any statute that allows the County to contract with a private entity or person to perform the statutory duties of the Supervisor of Assessments.

In fact, the powers and duties outlined by law for the Supervisor of Assessments do not provide any authority for them to contract out their duties.  They only have the power to appoint necessary deputies and clerks.  Note it makes no mention of contracting!

35 ILCS 200/3-40 –  Each supervisor of assessments may, with the advice and consent of the county board, appoint necessary deputies and clerks, their compensation to be fixed by the county board and paid by the county.”

We raised this issue during the last County Board meeting March 14th, 2017, and were advised that they would get back with us regarding any statutory language that allows the County to contract the Supervisors of assessments duties to a private individual.  We have not heard back from the county and contend that is because there is no statutory authority for the County to do what they did.

This is just one of the reasons we contend this contract is void ab initio as there is no statutory authority for the Coles County Board to contract for these services.

We will continue this contract issue with additional exposure why the contract is void ab initio because of multiple violations of our laws by the County Board.

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Coles County Assessment issues – size matters, as do laws!

Coles Co. (ECWd) –

For those residing in Coles County, we urge you to pay attention to this article and the dozens to follow as this may become one of the largest series of articles exposing malfeasance in local government since our exposure of problems at College of Dupage.

Mattoon Township was hit with their first commercial real estate assessment in approximately 16 years, a failure blamed on multiple past Supervisors of Assessments. As we started to dive into the sequence of events it became evident that substantial laws were not followed, if not purposely disregarded by the current Supervisor of Assessments, Karen Biddle and other county officials.

Size Matters

The Coles County Supervisor of Assessments is bound by law when it comes to publishing property tax assessments.  As it relates to the property tax assessment issue, which is bringing dozens of people to the County Board meetings over the last few months, we have identified serious deficiencies that appear to be leading the County into a Federal lawsuit.

35 ICLS 200/12-10 – At the top of the list of assessments there shall be a notice in substantially the following form printed in type no smaller than eleven point:

“NOTICE TO TAXPAYERS

Looking at the publication in the newspaper (8 full pages), we find that not only did they not use an eleven point type (font), there was not even a reference on any of the 8 pages reflecting the required “NOTICE TO TAXPAYERS

The remaining statutory requirements are listed below in number 8 font, which is 2.5 sizes larger than the 5.5 font size published in the paper.  As you probably can tell, it’s impossible to read and difficult at best with a magnifying glass.  In addition to them not complying with the font size, they failed to even follow the law requiring of certain items to be listed in the publication, which each of those are exposed in red below.  As if all this is not bad enough, they instructed the newspaper to print it as small as possible to save money, which means they ignored the law!

Median Level of Assessment–(insert here the median level of assessment for the assessment district) (MISSING FROM PUBLICATION!)  Your property is to be assessed at the above listed median level of assessment for the assessment district. You may check the accuracy of your assessment by dividing your assessment by the median level of assessment. The resulting value should equal the estimated fair cash value of your property. If the resulting value is greater than the estimated fair cash value of your property, you may be over-assessed. If the resulting value is less than the fair cash value of your property, you may be under-assessed. You may appeal your assessment to the Board of Review.”(MISSING FROM PUBLICATION!)

    The notice published under this Section shall also include the following:

        (1) A statement advising the taxpayer that assessments of property, other than farm land and coal, are required by law to be assessed at 33 1/3% of fair market value. (MISSING FROM PUBLICATION!)

        (2) The name, address, phone number, office hours, and, if one exists, the website address of the assessor.  (MISSING FROM PUBLICATION!)

        (3) A statement advising the taxpayer of the steps to follow if the taxpayer believes the full fair market value of the property is incorrect or believes the assessment is not uniform with other comparable properties in the same neighborhood. The statement shall also (i) advise all taxpayers to contact the township assessor’s office, in those counties under township organization, first to review the assessment, (ii) advise all taxpayers to file an appeal with the board of review if not satisfied with the assessor review, and (iii) give the phone number to call for a copy of the board of review rules; if the Board of Review maintains a web site, the notice must also include the address of the website where the Board of Review rules can be viewed. (MISSING FROM PUBLICATION!)

 (4) A statement advising the taxpayer that there is a deadline date for filing an appeal with the board of review and indicating that deadline date (30 days following the scheduled publication date). (COMPLIED WITH)

(5) A brief explanation of the relationship between the assessment and the tax bill. (MISSING FROM PUBLICATION!)

(6) In bold type, a notice of possible eligibility for the various homestead exemptions as provided in Section 15-165 through Section 15-175 and Section 15-180. (MISSING FROM PUBLICATION!)

 The newspaper shall furnish to the local assessment officers as many copies of the paper containing the assessment list as they may require.

With these many failures of statutory obligations, we contend the County Board would best serve the taxpayers by recognizing this non-compliant publication as more than sufficient evidence to declare it void and simply implement the previous year assessments, as if none were ever done this year, which is no different than the previous 16 years of not doing them.

To date the County Board has taken the position there is nothing they can do now that the assessments were published.  We contend there is.  Simply follow the law on cure of errors which states in part:

35 ILCS 200/21-185 ….Any irregularity or informality in the assessment rolls or tax lists, or in any of the proceedings connected with the assessment or levy of the taxes, or any omission or defective act of any other officer or officers connected with the assessment or levying of the taxes, may be, in the discretion of the court, corrected, supplied and made to conform to law by the court, or by the person (in the presence of the court) from whose neglect or default it was occasioned.

If the County were to take the appropriate steps to correct these errors prior to a lawsuit, it would make those matters moot, thus no court action needed.  It’s called doing the right thing and fixing what you know is broke before being forced to by the courts.

One thing to keep in mind, however, is this is just one of over a dozen violations of law we have identified of which they all have ties to these comercial assessment problems the county is facing.

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Watchdog sues Coles County for Public Records –

COLES CO., IL. (ECWd) –

In the process of fielding complaints on massive hikes in assessed value of commercial real estate in Mattoon Township, I figured the first step would be to find out how the assessments were accomplished and what they used for their values.

I sent the Supervisor of Assessments (“SOA”) a Freedom Of Information Act (“FOIA”) request for a copy of the study conducted by the individual contracted to conduct the commercial assessments.

At first there was no answer, then the SOA wanted me to take records other than what I had requested, and then I was told the SOA sent the request to the contractor and State’s Attorney claiming the county didn’t possess any of the records, and work product of something like that.

The problem is that FOIA considers those records public records and requires the public body to retrieve them from the contractor:

5 ILCS 140/7(2) A public record that is not in the possession of a public body but is in the possession of a party with whom the agency has contracted to perform a governmental function on behalf of the public body, and that directly relates to the governmental function and is not otherwise exempt under this Act, shall be considered a public record of the public body, for purposes of this Act. 

So I had to file suit today in Coles County Circuit Court. My hope is the County produce the requested records – read it below:


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Video: Oakland Fire Protection District Fighting Structure Fire –

COLES CO., IL. (ECWd) –

The Oakland Fire Protection District was called out this evening to a structure fire in rural Coles County.

Video:




Lake Land College Blows $1,017,697.20 “Into the Wind”

Lake Land College Blows $1,017,697.20 “Into the Wind”
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Question:
What does an Illinois junior college do with industrial wind turbines which are 4 years old
(The answer may surprise you, but it does not surprise us.)
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Answer:  The new wind turbines will be TORN DOWN!!!!
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Yes, tonight, Lake Land College Board of Trustees are likely to vote to remove 2 wind turbines.  The cost for removal is $30,000.  One turbine will be removed entirely, and the second wind turbine will have its blades removed.  The remaining turbine tower and nacelle will be left standing, minus blades, for “education purposes.”  Perhaps it will be a reminder for the community, and the thousands of people who drive past on Interstate 57, that this was a monumental waste of taxpayers’ dollars.  The removal of the blades seems like a good plan because of ice throw hazards and severe damage or death caused in the event of a blade failure or detachment.
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Link to the $987,697.20 Wind Turbine Waste article here:
http://edgarcountywatchdogs.com/2016/04/lake-land-colleges-987697-20-wind-turbine-waste/
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So, Lake Land College has now wasted away $1,017,697.20 on wind turbines in just 4 years since they were installed.  The college will never, ever see one more dime of wind energy revenue out of these turbines.  The wind energy experiment in Mattoon Illinois is/was a giant flop.  Surely somebody should be fired for making the decision to allow money to be spent on installing these wind turbines.
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To make matters worse, many wind energy companies are promoting 500′ tall turbines, which are well-known for causing sleep deprivation for nearby residents, and local government officials continue to allow this to happen to their neighbors throughout Illinois and Indiana and elsewhere.
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The lesson here is this:  If a wind energy promoter comes to your school or college campus, be aware that in all likelihood, these machines will never, ever live up to the promises of paying for themselves.
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The ECWD would like to commend the Lake Land Trustees for removing these turbines now.  Removing turbines will increase the health and safety of everyone within close proximity, including those who are travelling on nearby Interstate 57.
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Attached image of the turbine near I-57:

i-70-turbine

Click to enlarge

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State Rep Candidate Dennis Malak’s Lies, Bankruptcy, Victoria’s Secret, Campaigning At Work (EIU) –

CHARLESTON, IL. (ECWd) –

In a post on Dennis Malak’s official campaign facebook page, he took to telling lies…about us…which is why this article was written.

For the record, the Edgar County Watchdogs had never written any articles in reference to Malak, and never intended to write any. Until Malak started making wild, unsubstantiated claims that the “Edgar County Watchdogs and Tea Party Bloggers taking mean, personal hits” – trying to gain sympathy from his followers.

After a google search, there were recently a couple of articles written about Malak:

  • From BLNNEWS.com – a site run by Diane Benjamin, who has been writing about local public bodies for several years and has a very good track record of reporting the truth, no matter what it may be.
  • From DisclosureNewsOnline – a monthly news magazine who reports on all kinds of issues, including election issues, and has been in operation for more than 14 years, and covers most of Southern Illinois, including most of the 110th District.

Neither of those publication are affiliated in any way with ECWd, and most importantly, they have the same access to all of our information that any other news publication has as evidenced on our “about us” page (here). We share all kinds of public records that we may never write about but may be of interest to others who do write.

Both BLN and Disclosure wrote articles talking about Dennis Malak’s claims that his opponent cannot be an independent voice by taking money from the Republican Party, while failing to mention his taking of money from out-of-district unions – somehow thinking that will not impact his own ability to be an independent voice – and his untruthful statements as to his reason for filing bankruptcy (here) and (here).

For his bankruptcy, which he claimed on his own campaign website was due largely in part because of his “drowning in medical bills” turned out to be inaccurate. Looking at his bankruptcy filings, only about $3,500 of the massive debts were from medical bills, while the remainder were from car payments, tons of student loan debts, house payments, and large amounts of credit cards with debt attached to them, including Ameren, Capitol One, Citibank/Sears, Discover, GE/JC Penny, John Deere Credit, Kohl’s/Capitol One, TD Bank/Target, U of I Credit Union, and a Victoria’s Secret credit card and Toy’s-R-Us credit.

It appears to me there was a lot of shopping going on with the Sears, JC Penny, Kohl’s, target, John Deere, Toy’s-R-Us, and Victoria’s Secret charge accounts. His bankruptcy filing lacked any evidence of “drowning in medical bills” due to his wife’s illness that he posted on his website, and allegedly talked about in a radio interview.

Nothing like throwing your wife “under the bus”…with the medical bills claims. If it appeared to be a true statement, it would be different. His own court filing only listed $100 per month in medical and dental expenses (page 39, item 11).

The worst part of all of the wild claims on his bankruptcy was that he blamed “the system” for his bad financial decisions, as if “the system” owed him. He actually stated that “the system failed us” and claimed he only did what he was supposed to do in life..you know…purchase everything on credit and then whine when you can’t pay it back, and blame “the system” instead of yourself.

I did make comments on the “independent voice” claims, in my individual capacity, and none of the comments would be considered “personal hits” unless talking about his own campaign donations are personal hits. I just commented that he cannot claim to be an independent voice when 96% of his campaign donations came from mostly out of district unions – just like he was attempting to make that same claim against his opponent.

We never wrote about his allegedly campaigning while on the clock at his state job at Eastern Illinois University – I personally talked to him on the phone this past summer about his campaign – while he was at work at EIU. We never wrote about all the Facebook posts that were posted during what we believe was his working hours at EIU (see his timesheet here).

We never wrote about his stance on the second amendment, even though it was quite clear with this Facebook comments where he stands – and it doesn’t seem like he stands with the vast majority of voters in the 110th on that issue, with is statements of “excessive weapons, lock boxes, gun registration fees, new taxes, etc”…. No, we didn’t write about that either.

We do wish he would explain how the ECWd took mean, personal hits about him, or even post a link to those so we can figure out what he is talking about. Until then, we will say he lied to the potential voters of the 110th.

 

 




Costly Broken Wind Turbines Give College Whopping Negative 99.14% Return On Investment

Mattoon, IL – Lake Land College –

Costly Broken Wind Turbines Give College Whopping Negative 99.14% Return On Investment

Posted By Andrew Follett On 1:32 PM 04/12/2016 In |

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Photo from original article (link at bottom)

Lake Land College recently announced plans to tear down broken wind turbines on campus, after the school got $987,697.20 in taxpayer support for wind power.

The turbines were funded by a $2.5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Labor, but the turbines lasted for less than four years and were incredibly costly to maintain.

“Since the installation in 2012, the college has spent $240,000 in parts and labor to maintain the turbines,” Kelly Allee, Director of Public Relations at Lake Land College, told The Daily Caller News Foundation.

The college estimates it would take another $100,000 in repairs to make the turbines function again after one of them was struck by lightning and likely suffered electrical damage last summer. School officials’ original estimates found the turbine would save it $44,000 in electricity annually, far more than the $8,500 they actually generated. Under the original optimistic scenario, the turbines would have to last for 22.5 years just to recoup the costs, not accounting for inflation. If viewed as an investment, the turbines had a return of negative 99.14 percent.

“While they have been an excellent teaching tool for students, they have only generated $8,500 in power in their lifetime,” she said. “One of the reasons for the lower than expected energy power is that the turbines often need to be repaired. They are not a good teaching tool if they are not working.”

The college estimates it would take another $100,000 in repairs to make the turbines function again after one of them was struck by lightning and likely suffered electrical damage last summer.

Even though the college wants to tear down one of the turbines, they are federal assets and “there is a process that has to be followed” according to Allee.

The turbines became operational in 2012 after a 5-year long building campaign intended to reduce the college’s carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions to fight global warming. Even though the turbines cost almost $1 million, but the college repeatedly claimed they’d save money in the long run.

“It is becoming more and more difficult for us financially to maintain the turbines,” Josh Bullock, the college’s president, told the Journal Gazette and Times-Courier last week. “I think it was an extremely worthy experiment when they were installed, but they just have not performed to our expectations to this point.”

Bullock states that the turbines simply haven’t been able to power the campus’ buildings and that most of the electricity wasn’t effectively used.

Lake Land plans to replace the two failed turbines with a solar power system paid for by a government grant. “[T]he photovoltaic panels are expected to save the college between $50,000 and $60,000 this year,”Allee told the DCNF.

Globally, less than 30 percent of total power wind capacity is actually utilized as the intermittent and irregular nature of wind power makes it hard to use.Power demand is relatively predictable, but the output of a wind turbine is quite variable over time and generally doesn’t coincide with the times when power is most needed. Thus, wind power systems require conventional backups to provide power during outages. Since the output of wind turbines cannot be predicted with high accuracy by forecasts, grid operators need to keep excess conventional power systems running.

Wind power accounted for only 4.4 percent of electricity generated in America in 2014, according to the Energy Information Administration.

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URL to article: http://dailycaller.com/2016/04/12/costly-broken-wind-turbines-give-college-whopping-negative-99-14-return-on-investment/




Lake Land College’s $987,697.20 Wind Turbine Waste –

MATTOON, IL. (ECWd) –

Lake Land College has reportedly discussed taking down the wind turbine that was struck by lightning last year due to the cost of repairs – and because it never really worked as they thought it would.

Lake Land College (LLC) wind turbine history can be seen here:

2007-2010 COST BREAKDOWN:

2007:  Wind feasibility study completed for $30,000
2010:  LLC provided $500,000 from Illinois DCEO to “build one turbine.”
2010:  LLC provided 18% of $2,542,762 from US Dept of Labor for “green job training program and related equipment including a 100 kW turbine.”  (The turbine portion of this US DoL grant calculates to $457,697.20 per the small print details.)

WHAT DO WE HAVE TO SHOW FOR TAXPAYER $987,697.20 spent to build these boondoggles?https://www.lakelandcollege.edu/as/tec/sustain/documents/Sustainability%20Media%20Guide%202012.pdf

Operation date: 2012

http://jg-tc.com/news/lake-land-wind-turbines-are-up-running/article_c011d95a-0f6b-11e2-9f3a-0019bb2963f4.html

(read the comments from “gringa”in 2012……totally good point about it never paying for themselves)

No mention of payback periods in this article. Seems like LLC would include the economic effectiveness of this investment in any discussion of it. After all, isn’t this all about return on investment? Maybe not. Wind is free, but the land and equipment and maintenance to that equipment is NOT free.

in 2014, another article was written touting the “savings”:

http://jg-tc.com/news/lake-land-college-saves-with-green-energy/article_e9f30825-81cb-5f7c-b3c7-f4fa0e7673e4.html

LLC should update their college website “infomercial” found here since the turbines no longer (if ever) actually saved $44,000 per year per the over-optimistic claims:

https://www.lakeland.cc.il.us/as/tec/green_jobs/documents/EAR%20INSERT%20LLC%20May%202013.pdf

Just for fun, IF the turbines saved $44,000 per year, these two junkers would have to last 22.5 years, but they only lasted a shameful FOUR YEARS!!!!!

This year – April 2016 – Lake Land College to consider taking down wind turbine:

Posted from TG-TC.com – https://www.wind-watch.org/news/2016/04/10/lake-land-board-to-weigh-future-of-wind-turbine/

Bullock said the southernmost wind turbine of Lake Land’s two 160-foot-tall, 100-kilowatt turbines was damaged by a lightning strike last summer and has not functioned properly since then. He said the administration does not believe that making the nearly $100,000 in repairs estimated for the turbine would be cost effective.”

They were not “cost-effective” when they were built, why is that an issue now?

Bullock said the two 100-kilowatt turbines, which were made possible with federal grant funding, have not been effective at powering buildings on campus. “

Just now figuring out they are not effective?

I wonder how much these machines actually produced while they were operating……….probably even less than the most conservative estimates.  This all makes me want to puke……it adds up to more than THREE TIMES THE LOSS of the below $319,900 home ruined by the InvEnergy wind farm in Vermilion County, IL.

The Zillow listing for the Vermilion Co. house:  http://www.zillow.com/homes/for_sale/Armstrong-IL/pmf,pf_pt/2106868722_zpid/23520_rid/any_days/40.334768,-87.712956,40.186217,-88.048039_rect/11_zm/1_rs/

Both LLC’s turbines should be removed to delete the shameful “monument of waste.”

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LLC




Former Sheriff Darrell Cox, whining about getting caught grabbing breasts and illegally selling guns –

COLES CO., IL. (ECWd) –

The former Sherriff of Coles County, Darrell Cox, who was publicly outed during his campaign (by the Edgar County Watchdogs – not by Phillips) for illegally selling guns in violation of State Law and in violation of Court Orders (WTHI article here), has decided to chime in and urge people to vote for Kaye, who has had his own bouts with the law.

Cox was also publicly outed for conducting business between his own private company and the Coles County Sheriff Department (article here) – a criminal conflict of interest.

Cox was caught lying under Oath, drinking prior to shift as a Sherriff Deputy, withholding information (article and pdf), conspired with others to cover his tracks, and sexually assaulted a co-worker by grabbing her breast and even betting that he could get away with it, bad behavior with progressive discipline over 17 years, tried to hide public records but we got them anyway (click here for that massive embarrassment), lied about his budget (HERE and HERE),

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (“ATF”) is currently investigating the situation with Darrell Cox – it is not over for him yet.

We are still gathering data from Cox’s time as Sherriff and will post that article in a few months when we finish gathering all of it – it is worse that anything we have written on him so far.

After his failed election run, the Coles County State’s Attorney sent out a letter to all law enforcement in Coles County warning them that it is in fact a violation of law to continue to sell guns. (click here to read the letter) He tells them it violates State Law, just as we wrote about prior to that election. He is not the only Sheriff we wrote about that was illegally selling guns.

Cox talks about the “court history” Reggie Phillips has, and we covered all that in 2014 (HERE) noting that it was all civil cases and in the normal course of business. But Cox failed to mention that in his letter to the editor.

Darrell Cox’s letter to the editor – click to enlarge:

Darrell-Cox-Letter

Every single thing we published about Darrell Cox is true, the public records obtained thru the Freedom Of Information Act and the Circuit Court are included in the articles, and it was us that did it, not Phillips. Cox accuses Phillips of communicating with the Liberty Principles PAC, which Cox lied about, but he doesn’t care, he is still sore from the beating he took at the last election where he thought he won and was in the process of celebrating at the local bar, only to find out he was given the wrong information (what a party-killer that had to be LOL) and actually lost.

We are not here to tell you who to vote for, but we do ask that you please research the history of Darrell Cox before you believe anything he has to say as there is nothing worse than supporting a candidate based on lies told by a law breaker himself.

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former Sheriff Darrell Cox




#FundEIU rally draws concern over remarks –

Charleston, IL. (ECWd) –

Students, staff, and residents held a rally at Eastern Illinois University last week to protest and demand that Governor Rauner pass the budget and provide the much needed funds promised to EIU and other schools in the state.  Sadly, missing from the call was for the General Assembly to pass a balanced budget, which is required by law.

Speakers included Gateway Advisor Yolanda Williams.

We received several emails and phone calls from people about the content of William’s speech, and who expressed concern that some students may take it literally.

I talked to Ms. Williams in her office this morning and explained that I was seeking an answer on the intent of her comments, specifically the “turn over a table or two” comment. I asked if she meant to tell the students to go downtown and trash local businesses, or if she meant her comment as a figure of speech. She declined to comment on the intent of her words, and instead stated that the people reading (or watching the video) should make up their own minds on what her intent was.  It was rather surprising that she did not deny a possible intent of an actual call for violence.

There are a couple interpretations of its content – specifically the “flip a table or two” comment:

The comments stated: “emails, phone calls, and tweets to the governor, and petitions to pass the budget and give them (EIU) their money. They want his supporters to know that if they are going to continue to support him, they (petitioners) are not going to support them (the businesses). It’s time for action, it’s time to mobilize, it’s time to maybe flip a table or two, it’s time to make Governor Rauner to pass the budget and give us our money. “

  1. Was this an innocent figure of speech not to be taken literally?
  2. Was this a call to action, as in violent behavior to specifically start flipping tables over?

We do appreciate concerns of unpaid bills from the State of Illinois to EIU, however, the question needing asked at this point in time is why was the only legislator permitted to address the students a Democrat from outside the district and others present were not permitted?  Was this a coordinated effort by the Democrats prior to the President’s visit to Springfield?

Does it not take two to negotiate? Why no mention of Mike Madigan? If they were truly interested in the budget process and bill payments, maybe consider the constitutional requirement of a balanced budget, which Madigan has yet to provide to the Governor’s office for signing?

By no means are we suggesting the State should get by without holding up their end of contractual obligations, but there can be no expectations of only one side reaching across the isle to meet the other. Proper negotiations require more.

All indications are this “Rally” was nothing more than a political event designed to stir emotions against a Republican governor.  Sadly, as an educational institution, an opportunity to educate on our State Constitution was missed and clearly more people have been misled with the presentations.

EIU-Logo

 




Lakeland College – Vice President for Business Services Raymond Rieck resigns.

Coles Co. (ECWd) –

Tonight at the Lakeland College Board meeting there is an Agreement and Release document for Vice President  Raymond Rieck, who signed a resignation notice February 1st, 2016, as well as the Agreement and Release document on that same day.

What is interesting with this so called ‘resignation’ is the fact we were tipped off about the VP’s departure a couple weeks ago.  According to our source we were told Mr. Rieck had his keys taken from him and was escorted off the campus approximately two weeks ago.

Calls to the school to confirm this were met with denials of any such situation, however, having looked at our fair share of resignation letters, we do find his rather interesting.

“This letter will confirm my retirement and my voluntary resignation as Vice-President for Business Services of Lake Land College, effective August 31, 2016. I have decided to resign from my position as Vice-President for personal reasons.”

As I understand it, when a person submits a resignation letter they are doing so voluntarily, thus no need to state such.  Couple that strange claim of a voluntary resignation with the fact he has been placed on Administrative Leave, one can now only wonder what the real reason for his departure is.

Most resignation announcements effective 8 months later we see those people continuing to perform their duties.   In this case, the taxpayers are footing the bill for 8 more months for a person to basically do nothing on their behalf, unless asked, and then he can only do so by phone and on projects he was involved in. In other words, don’t come back to the campus.

In addition, the wording in the Agreement and Release indicates Mr. Reick will ‘remain’ on administrative leave.  That appears to  indicate he was placed on Administrative leave prior to this resignation letter.

Thus the question, why was he placed on Administrative Leave?

The agreement outlines that he ‘agrees’ to voluntarily resign.  If his resignation is voluntary, why would he need to ‘agree’ to a voluntary resignation?

We suspect there is more to this story and will do our best to find out.  If any of our readers have information they can share please feel free to do so through our tip line that is 100% confidential.

Download (PDF, 1.06MB)

 

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Village of Lerna appoints new village president –

LERNA, IL. (ECWd) –

In a brief Special Meeting of the Village of Lerna Board of Trustees, held at 2:00 p.m. today, the trustees appointed a new village president.

After roll call, the (new) unconditional resignation of Don Pearcy was read aloud, and each of the trustees declined appointment to the vacant seat.

According to the Illinois Municipal Code, when a village of under 5000 people have a vacancy in the office of president or mayor, and all trustees either decline or fail to receive majority vote, on the vacant seat, then the village can appoint another resident as its president.

A motion was made, subsequent to all trustee’s declination of appointment, to appoint village resident Mr. Wilbert Beals to the vacant village president seat. Motion was seconded, and a unanimous vote affirmed his appointment.

Mr. Beals swore his oath of office.

Meeting adjourned.

WCIA reported on this earlier this past week: here and here.

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Lerna Village President resigns, Village Board makes illegal appointment – –

LERNA, IL. (ECWd) –

Don Pearcy, the unofficial now-former Village of Lerna President (maybe), tendered his “conditional resignation in a Special Meeting today, January 31, 2016.

The problem is that the term of his “conditional” resignation resulted in the village trustees violating the Illinois Municipal Code due to the fact that he conditioned his resignation on the appointment of Wilbert Beals as Village President – who happens to be the father of Janette Beals, the village clerk who resigned as trustee in order to take the clerk position.  It shows  how bad they wanted him out of there, to violate the law to get rid of him…

Any such appointment at this stage is a violation of the Illinois Municipal Code.

What is a Conditional Resignation?

The Illinois Municipal Code provides for “conditional resignations” in Section 3.1.10-50 (2):

(2) Conditional Resignation. A resignation that does not become effective unless a specified event occurs can be withdrawn at any time prior to the occurrence of the specified event, but if not withdrawn, the effective date of the resignation is the date of the occurrence of the specified event or the date the resignation is received by the officer authorized to fill the vacancy, whichever date occurs later.

The conditions placed on a resignation cannot violate other laws – like, say, the Illinois Municipal Code, Section 3.1/10-50 (f)(1):

(1) Mayor or President. If the vacancy is in the office of mayor or president, the vacancy must be filled by the corporate authorities electing one of their members as acting mayor or acting president. Except as set forth in subsection (d), the acting mayor or acting president shall perform the duties and possess all the rights and powers of the mayor or president until a mayor or president is elected at the next general municipal election and has qualified. However, in villages with a population of less than 5,000, if each of the trustees either declines the election as acting president or is not elected by a majority vote of the trustees presently holding office, then the trustees may elect, as acting president, any other village resident who is qualified to hold municipal office, and the acting president shall exercise the powers of the president and shall vote and have veto power in the manner provided by law for a president.

Here is what should have happened. Either the board should have declined his resignation on the position that he cannot dictate they violate the Illinois Municipal Code, or, they should have accepted his resignation and followed the Municipal Code. Each Trustee must decline the appointment OR not be elected to fill the vacancy by a majority of the board PRIOR to appointing a non-trustee to the position.

Either way, Dan Pearcy, in his final grasp at holding on to 0what little power he may have had,  has lost every shred of integrity that he might have had left. I will add him to the list of scumbags.

As for the board of trustees, they exhibited one of the most outrageous acts I have ever witnessed in a public body. Just when you thought you have seen it all, something like this pops up and takes the cake.

How much is he hiding that he must try and dictate who the next village president is?

Additionally, the appointment violated the Open Meetings Act since the action item was to “fill” or “appoint” a BOARD vacancy. There was never an item to accept the resignation of the village president or to appoint a person to fill the vacancy of the village president. There is no such thing as a “board” vacancy, only trustee vacancy and/or president vacancy for this situation.

What a freak-show.

I certainly hope their new attorney didn’t play any part in this.

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Village of Lerna fills Trustee vacancy –

LERNA, IL. (ECWd) –

The village of Lerna, Illinois held its regular meeting on January 5, 2016.

During the meeting there was considerable discussion of water drainage, a decision was made to pay the water loan off, among other items, and a lengthy discussion on an appointment to the vacant Trustee position.

After the discussion on filling the vacancy, a vote was taken, and Mr. Robert “Bob” Boles (not sure of the spelling) was nominated and appointed on a 3 – 2 vote to fill the vacancy. He was immediately sworn in.

One of the only remaining items needing addressed, is that Mayor Pearcy (missing from this meeting) is still in a conflict with his full-time job as village maintenance supervisor. He is committing a new crime each and every day he goes to work. Too bad the Appellate Prosecutor’s Office is dragging their feet on it.

The new village attorney said he hasn’t finished researching the conflict of interest issue yet, but would finish in a couple of weeks.

Read our previous articles on Lerna, including the Conflict of Interest (here).

Lerna-Mayor (WinCE)

Lerna Mayor Don Pearcy

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UPDATE: New Year’s Eve fire in Mattoon, IL. (video) –

MATTOON, IL. (ECWd) –

UDATED with about 15 minutes worth of video from Disclosure News Magazine’s Google+ page
Or you can see all 15 videos of the fire at the YouTube page of “Walleys World” (click here).

The old Standafer Construction building block south of 19th and Charleston (middle of block) is engulfed in flames this evening with firefighters on the scene.
Short video below from the facebook page of Jim Scott, hopefully more on the way.
If you are reading this New Year’s Eve, you can listen to the radio broadcast live here.

 

https://www.facebook.com/jim.scott.94801/videos/10205954839693603/

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Kassandra Wilson Pleads Guilty/Sentenced On Battery Of Pregnant Woman –

Charleston, IL. (ECWd) –

Coles County State’s Attorney filed charges on September 15, 2015 of Battery/Bodily Harm against Kassandra Wilson of Charleston. A Class A Misdemeanor.

Wilson struck the victim 3 or 4 times to the head, causing her to fall. Victim was 11 weeks pregnant at the time, and an Eastern Illinois University (“EIU”) Graduate Student.

During the initial investigation, Wilson admitted to the Sheriff’s Deputy that she did hit the victim. After several conflicting statements made by Wilson, she was arrested and taken into custody on August 20, 2015.

She posted $1500 Bond.

Mugshots and charge sheet below.

On December 2, 2015, Wilson entered a guilty plea and was sentenced, pursuant to agreement, to:

  • 1 yr supervision,
  • fine of $250 plus court costs,
  • $75 Violent Crime Victim Assistance,
  • $5 Drug Court fine,
  • $30 Court Appointed Special Advocates,
  • $10 Probation Operations,
  • 100 hrs Community Service Work,
  • Mental Health Evaluation and treatment as required

Deft ordered immediately to Probation regarding Community Service Work and Evaluation. Bond to apply.

Supervision Order entered.

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Download (PDF, 252KB)

 

 




Election Board Lottery Determined Ballot Order For 2016 Primary Election –

Springfield, IL. (ECWd) –

The Illinois State Board of Elections held the lottery on December 9, 2015, to determine ballot placement in the upcoming election.

Ballot order for the 102nd Illinois State Representative District is

  1.  Brad Halbrook
  2.  Randy Peterson
  3.  Jim Acklin

Ballot order for the 110th Illinois State Representative District (without ballot due to filing dates):

  1.  Reggie Phillips
  2.  Jonathan Kaye

ISBOE-Logo




Gym owner admits to coworker he lied; testimony about audiotape given –

Charleston, IL. (ECWd) –

COLES CO. – The preliminary hearing held in October for a local gym coach was a startling one, according to the reactions of those in the courtroom hearing the testimony for the first time.
Zac Lawson, the 33-year-old former coach and owner of Sun Elite Gymnastics and Tumbling in Charleston, stands charged with a single count of Unauthorized Videotaping.
That count was the basis of testimony elicited by the Illinois State Police trooper who investigated the case, as given on Monday, October 19, at Lawson’s preliminary hearing, which he likely should have waived…since there was so much more coming out in the testimony than even that with which Lawson has been charged.
On September 4, a single charge was filed by Coles County prosecutor Brian Bower  – that of the unauthorized videotaping, wherein it’s alleged that Lawson placed a video recording device or transmitter in a restroom at the gym facility, which is located on North Loxa Road near Charleston, and actually made a recording which was subsequently transmitted. To where, or to whom, has not been made public.
The device was discovered earlier this year (March 23) and the discovery shut down the gym temporarily while ISP agents swept the 14,000-square foot building to make sure that the one they’d been tipped on was the ONLY one, which apparently it was.
However, at the time of the filing and of Lawson turning himself in on the warrant September 8, Bower seemed to be quick to point out that there was “no evidence that there was any sexual component” in regards to the device nor any transmission of whatever it might have recorded. However, he did initially allude to the fact that SOMETHING was captured on the recording.
Lawson’s HSCA
Upon publication of the gym’s temporary shut-down March 24, Lawson had a high-speed comeapart and contacted area media outlets, including television in Champaign, insistent that Disclosure’s online coverage was inaccurate and that not only had his gym not been shut down and locked (an act ISP had taken to ensure no one else connected with the facility could gain access while the physical investigation was going on), but that there was no suspicion of a recording device on the premises, something Disclosure had been assured was the situation, this by sources close to the case.
According to testimony on Oct. 19, however, there was more to it than just the recording/transmission device.
At that time, the court was told during the hearing set to present enough evidence on the charge that it would bind Lawson over for trial, that Lawson’s phone had also been confiscated on the day the gym was shut and locked.
On that phone, ISP testified, was communication between Lawson and many of his students at the gym. And while none of the communication was sexual or even suggestive in nature, the very fact that he was texting his underage charges – and at 2 and 3 in the morning, no less – could most assuredly be considered inappropriate.
However, it was what ISP testified was found on the phone in between the texts that was the most disturbing.
With Lawson’s wife sitting present in the courtroom in Charleston, the trooper explained that the agency had discovered, in between the text messages, evidence that Lawson had been viewing pornography that purported to show “young teen girls” in hardcore sex acts.
Whether or not this was porn that used actual underage girls (which is routinely produced and distributed out of Denmark, Russia, and other locales in Europe and Asia, all a part of the international sex slave trade) was not discussed.
Devastated
Lawson’s wife was reported as “devastated” at this testimony (apparently she hadn’t been apprised of this aspect of the investigation, by her husband or anyone else) and his attorney Jay Ferguson was reported as “outraged,” as apparently he wasn’t fully aware of what the ISP investigation had turned up, either.
Ferguson, as a matter of fact, was throughout the hearing attempting to say that a witness by the name of “Trey” (possibly a student/former student at the gym, reportedly someone who is helping keep the facility going at the present time) was actually the one who had “set up” Lawson, and had been the one who had set the recording device in place.
ISP testimony, however, elicited that this person, Trey, had been the one to whom Lawson had, during a recorded phone conversation, admitted that he (Lawson) had placed the recording device in the bathroom. According to information elicited at hearing, Trey had caught Lawson in a series of lies that ISP was easily able to disprove.
The judge laughed at the suggested that Trey was wholly responsible for Lawson’s alleged acts; then bound Lawson over for trial.
There has been no official indication that any further charges might be filed against Lawson. However, sources close to the investigation have advised Disclosure that the ISP examination of the recording device has not been concluded yet. More detailed information emerging about that device and what it allegedly contained, as well as the alleged pornography on the confiscated phone, might very well lead to more charges.
Lawson has entered a not guilty plea, and the case is moving forward. A status hearing on the charge had been set for November 23 in front of Judge Teresa K. Righter.
This story, and more available at DisclosureNewsOnline.com (HERE) Subscription

Lawson_1 (WinCE)

Mugshot: Lawson




Lerna Village Clerk, Trustee Resign –

Lerna, IL. (ECWd) –

Tonight’s meeting of the Village of Lerna Board of Trustees received the resignations of Village Clerk, John Protz, and also Village Trustee Janette Beals.

We previously wrote about the apparent conflict with the Village Clerk also working by the hour in the Clerk’s office. He has protested the article, claiming village policy set his salary at the amount he is receiving. He claims he gets a stipend to attend meetings, and also gets paid minimum wage plus fifteen cents per hour working in the Clerk’s office. I have not seen a copy of whatever he says his salary is, but I do not believe an elected village clerk gets paid hourly, if they did they could effectively raise and/or lower their pay any given week they so chose to do so, which violates the Constitution of Illinois.

Additionally, he claims the Coles County Clerk, or someone in that office, told him what to write down on his Statement of Economic Interest. Something the clerk’s office has told me they never do. That, he says, is the reason he didn’t fill out his SEI correctly.

I will research this further and clarify the previous article if need be.

We also know that Trustee Beals was also working for the village by mowing yards and turning the invoice in for payment from the village – which is a violation of the Illinois Municipal Code.

Village President Don Pearcy is still digging in his heals trying to stay on in the conflicted positions of Village President and Village Maintenance Supervisor, which is a violation of the Illinois Municipal Code and a Class 4 Felony for each and every paycheck he gets while in both positions. He receives a check every week.

Why is this so hard to understand about the Illinois Municipal Code?

a) A municipal officer shall not be financially interested directly in the officer’s own name or indirectly in the name of any other person, association, trust, or corporation, in any contract, work, or business of the municipality or in the sale of any article whenever the expense, price, or consideration of the contract, work, business, or sale is paid either from the treasury or by an assessment levied by statute or ordinance.

(d) An officer who violates this Section is guilty of a Class 4 felony. In addition, any office held by an officer so convicted shall become vacant and shall be so declared as part of the judgment of the court.

The next steps for the Village of Lerna are to place “declare office of Village Clerk vacant”, “declare office of Village Trustee vacant”, appoint Clerk, and appoint Trustee, on the agenda of a meeting, declare the offices vacant, and appoint replacements.

Don_Pearcy

Don Pearcy shown in the act of violating the law.




Rauner backs Halbrook for 102nd House Race –

Tom Kacich: Rauner backs candidate in state House race

Gov. Bruce Rauner has jumped into the 102nd House District Republican primary, endorsing former state Rep. Brad Halbrook in what for now is a three-way race.

Halbrook, of Shelbyville, is running with Jim Acklin of Ogden and Randy Peterson of Paris to replace retiring state Rep. Adam Brown, who announced this summer that he would not try for a fourth term in 2016.

“The governor is supporting Brad because he’s the right fit for the district and supports the governor’s Turnaround Agenda,” said Rauner spokesman Lance Trover.

The 102nd District includes all or parts of Champaign, Douglas, Vermilion, Shelby, Moultrie, Macon and Edgar counties. It is largely rural and… continue reading with The News-Gazette…

Rauner

Gov. Rauner

Brad Halbrook

 




John Protz, Lerna Clerk, Lied on Statement of Economic Interest –

Lerna, IL. (ECWd) –

Some of you may have read our recent articles on the Village of Lerna (here).

We are still sorting out some of the details, but we do know when public officials refuse to stop their lawbreaking, there is more to the story.

I had wondered why certain Lerna officials were strongly defending their Village President, Don Pearcy, and his illegal actions.

It is because they are guilty of the very same violations of law that Pearcy is violating.

Lying on a Statement of Economic Interest is a criminal offense – nothing can make me believe these people did not understand what they were signing. A fifth grader could understand this paperwork.

John Protz, the elected Village Clerk, who is also working in a hourly position in the Clerk’s office (better known as conflict of interest) failed to disclose this fact in item number 6 on his Statement of Economic Interest.

He signed his name to a fraudulent document attesting to its accuracy. How can he be trusted with anything else?

He lied. He needs prosecuted.

Download (PDF, 1.89MB)

20151006_185629 (WinCE)

John Protz – Lied on Statement of Economic Interest.

 




Don Pearcy, Lerna Village President – Filed False Economic Interest Statements –

Lerna, IL. (ECWd) –

The excuses we hear every where we go are almost all the same, but I am starting to think there is a secret book of excuses out there some people are reading.

Several months ago during a Lerna village meeting I informed the Village President, Don Pearcy, that his Statements of Economic Interests were not truthful – as a matter of fact, they have contained false information for at least the past 5 years.

Everyone keeps telling me how much of a “nice guy” Pearcy is, and how he only wants to help out the residents of the village.

I would have believed that if he had filed a corrected Statement of Economic Interest when he was informed his was false. Now I believe it to be knowingly and willfully. So I will call it like it is.

The Illinois Governmental Ethics Act requires certain elected, appointed, and employed individuals to file an annual Statement of Economic Interest. It requires the person named to be truthful on the SEI – Don Pearcy was not truthful.

In the IGEA’s definitions, to further understand some terms unsed on the form, it defines “entity” as:

Sec. 1-111. "Person" or "entity" means an individual, proprietorship, partnership, association, trust, estate, business trust, group, or corporation, whether or not operated for profit, or a governmental agency, unit, or subdivision.

Item number 6 on the SEI Form asked to “List the name of any entity doing business with a unit of local government in relation to which the person us required to file from which an income of more than $1,200 was derived during the preceding calendar year…

Pearcy (the “entity”) should have written: “Don Pearcy, Lerna Maintenance Supervisor” – instead, he wrote “NONE”. Pearcy was the entity who derived income in excess of $1,200 and it was with the Village of Lerna, for which he was filing the SEI.

He is required to file under Section 4A-101(g) of the Act.

Section 4A-107 explains the Penalty of not filing, or filing a false or incomplete SEI – That Penalty is a Class A Misdemeanor, which carries a potential fine of up to $1000, imprisonment of up to 1 year, or both fine and imprisonment.

He was informed a couple months ago at a meeting, the former village attorney informed him, and yet he defies the law by letting the false document stand as though it is correct.

Is this the action of “a good person”…or is this the action of a person who finally got caught and is delaying the inevitable?

More on Pearcy in future articles, and reaches back more than 10 years…

Lerna-Mayor

Don Pearcy, Lerna Village President with a Conflict of Interest as Lerna Maintenance Supervisor and filer of  false Statements of Economic Interest




Village of Lerna, Don Pearcy, and the Illinois Municipal League –

Lerna, IL. (ECWd) –

This is the third month we have attended the Village of Lerna monthly meeting of Trustees.

The first month I explained the conflict of interest between the Village President and his job as full-time Village Maintenance Supervisor. I also mentioned the conflict between a Village Trustee submitting invoices to the village for the village to pay her to mow the yards of repossessed houses.

The second meeting (Sep.) there was considerable discussion on the issue, and the village attorney even spoke up and said that she had told Pearcy a month ago that there was a conflict with those two positions. She resigned as village attorney a couple days later. The village is now without an attorney.

This week, Pearcy was absent, and the acting board president stated (see video below) that they had canceled their special meeting in Sep because Pearcy was ready to resign, but the Illinois Municipal League told him there wasn’t a conflict and there was no need for him to resign. So they canceled the special meeting.

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During public comment I let them know that they would never receive a letter from the IML stating what they just told the public, and I didn’t believe the IML would tell them that. I also said I would buy them dinner if they received a letter from the IML with that information on it.

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Yesterday I contacted a representative of the IML and asked for a comment on what they said to Don Pearcy. As I suspected, nothing of the sort was said to him, and below is their written comment:

For publication: “Without knowing the exact details about a situation, our policy is to refer municipal leaders to their city attorney and that was done in the case of Lerna.  We advise elected officials to be aware of both real and perceived conflicts of interest and to seek written legal opinions on any topic of concern, since local ordinances may apply and all of the facts are usually not shared over a phone call.”

BRAD COLE, Executive Director

Illinois Municipal League

They referred them (Don Pearcy) to their city attorney… Since their attorney already told them, in a public meeting, that it was a conflict of interest, no further discussion is needed. But I suspect they will continue to stall, and continue to spend village money on various attorney opinions, just to get the same answer. They will never find an attorney to sign his name to a document with the opinion stating that it is perfectly OK for a Village President also having the job of full-time Village Maintenance Supervisor. Never.

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This is not Don Pearcy, but he still thinks he can keep people from recording meetings…