Attorney for DeWitt County issues veiled threat to County Board Member –

DeWitt Co., IL. (ECWd) –

In a letter, the attorney defending a lawsuit against DeWitt County and some of its officers and employees, complained of “disparaging remarks” made by County Board Member Hoffman in a newspaper article (here).  I read the article, and the only response I think they might be referring to would be this one from “DeWitt Daily News” in the comments section of the article referencing the suit:

————————

Richard L Steagall
I am Terry Hoffman’s lawyer who is in his 37th year of the practice of law. Before this case I would never have believed a Sheriff in an Illinois County would arrest a County Board member for his policy views and speech.

A republic can not function if it’s representatives are arrested to affect their policy positions. If that is not worthy of a lawsuit, then we have no need for courts.

America’s greatest Judge, Learned Hand said, “The spirit of Liberty is not too sure it is right… …. The spirit of Liberty lies in the hearts and minds of men and women. If it is not present there, written laws or constitution can[not] save it.”

If the Comments are reflective of the views of the citizens of Dewitt County, then the spirit of Liberty has somehow been extinguished there.

I truly hope that has not happened.

————————

“The Threat”

…but if you continue to make remarks in the media of this nature, then we will have no choice but to notify the public of the incredible waste of taxpayer money that Mr. Hoffman has caused by filing this lawsuit. We will highlight Mr. Hoffman’s seeming dereliction of duty to the taxpayers who elected him by filing such a wasteful lawsuit, and the enormous conflict of interest that this lawsuit raises between Mr. Hoffman and his role as a County Board Member.

I guess what Mr. Benjamin M. Jacobi is doing is threatening to trash the Board member through local media if he doesn’t cower down to his demands. Filing a lawsuit is a right, and the only people responsible for this enormous waste of taxpayer money are those named defendants. Jacobi completely ignores the fact that Hoffman was arrested and detained overnight, and subjected to unrelenting intimidation by the board attorney for the past two years.

Dereliction of duty by filing the lawsuit? I say defending his rights as a citizen to be secure in his home and person, and by filing this suit, may just deter further violations of right by the defendants.

The letter is below:

Download (PDF, 104KB)




DeWitt County Board Member files civil rights suit against Sheriff and EMS Director –

DeWitt Co., IL. (ECWd) –

Terry Hoffman, DeWitt County Board Member, has filed a federal civil rights suit against DeWitt County Sheriff Jered Shofner, Deputies Monaghan, Hardwick, and Wilford, and DeWitt County Director of Emergency Services Teresa Bennett-Hall.

Hoffman had previously spent $24,021.50 defending himself of the misdemeanor charges and was found not guilty by a jury of his peers.

This suit alleges, among other things, that the Sheriff said that new county board members “have to learn how things work” when ordering Hoffman placed in a jail cell and kept overnight. The Sheriff was a supporter of the opposing parties in the election.

The Federal Claims are:

-Violation of the First Amendment for filing the frivolous “battery” charge and the subsequent arrest and detainment in a jail cell.

-Violation of the Fourth Amendment for the arrest and detainment without probable cause.

The State Claims are:

-False Arrest and Imprisonment

-Malicious Prosecution

Relief requested includes Compensatory damages of $750,000.00 and Punitive damages of $100,000.00 – for a total of a little over $850,000.00 plus attorney fees and costs.

Complaint obtain from PACER below:

Download (PDF, 122KB)




DeWitt County Board Member talks about experiences –

DeWitt Co. (ECWd) –

Terry Hoffman had never been involved in political government till about 2010.  “Watch Clinton Landfill” got him involved, as did a legal tax protest regarding over levied taxing funds (which about 600 are involved with and the Clinton power plant). He became active on both fronts, and started attending DeWitt County board meetings.

He ran for DeWitt county board district C , and won in 2012 on the platform of working to stop the illegal hazardous waste being brought into the Clinton landfill, and to reduce the abuse of over taxation by the bureaucrats in control.

He was sworn into office on Dec 3, 2012, arrested and put in jail on Dec 12, 2012 for 2 counts of felony aggravated battery, with bail set at $10,000.

How and why this took place.

After getting sworn in, the department heads thought it would be a good idea for new board members to visit offices to see how they work, this was because of a 12 member board, they had 8 newly elected, with the majority being put together to fight the bureaucratic mess in the county.

So, he visited the Sheriff’s office a few days later with no problem. Then on Dec 12 he went to the court house to talk to the State’s Attorney who was not in at that moment. So he went to the EMA office to see if Teresa would have time to talk of her office. She said that she did.  This was at 10am.  They talked for about 15 minutes, then she made the comment that since he was her Boss, should she start packing her boxes, (they all know that he is very much against the waste expended by the bureaucrats.) He reached across her desk, and smiling said, he is only one of 12, he is not your boss, at the same time, he used his index finger to touch her on the left arm.

We went on to talk for another 15 minutes, then he got up to leave.  She, then thanked him for coming into visit, and commented that no other board member had been in and that she was glad that he had.

He has known Teresa all of his life, they went to first grade through high school together.

He then went to the administrative assistant’s office for 5 minutes, after that he went to the State’s Attorneys office and spoke with him for about ten minutes.  Then he left the building and went home.

In the hours that followed, Teresa spoke to many co workers, county officials and board members about this, visited Sheriff’s department also, several times, and went to lunch with them.

She found the touch to be provocative in nature. She felt his presence to be intimidating in many levels and very inappropriate for a public official, this is in her statement (this is right out of the ordinance book).

So, at 4:45 pm Teresa went to Detective Monahan (whom she has been seeing for sometime, affectionately) and filed a statement. She had also talked to him earlier in the day.

At, 7pm he was at home, when someone pounded on his front door. When he went to the door there were two DeWitt County Deputies.  They said Sheriff Shofner wanted to talk to him.  He asked what for.  They would not tell him.  Only that he wanted to talk to him now. Terry said he needed shoes and a coat and that he could drive up to see him.  They said no, we were told to bring you now and to handcuff you, if you do not come now.  Terry said he would like to call a lawyer, NO, come now or get handcuffed and we will take you.  He asked this three times, then went with them.

They had parked both squad cars down from the house behind a tree.

Then when Terry got to the station, Monahan interrogated him.  He asked Terry three times, did you poke her in the arm with your knuckle!  Terry said no, but he had poked her in the forearm with his index finger.

He said the interview was over and he would be back.  Then the sheriff came in for the first time, and handed Terry a no trespass notice 15 minutes prior and 15 minutes after board meetings on county property.

The Sheriff then said if he had done this to one of his deputies, the deputy would have knocked him down.  Terry said, I think you touched me when you gave me the no trespass order; I would like to press charges.  He said he was through, book him.

Never once talked to Terry about the incident, which is what the deputies kept saying, Shofner wanted to talk to him.

He got bonded out of jail at 11:30 am the next day.

The, State’s Attorney, other board members, and their side of the public and the news media, have hounded and made fun of the touch from the first board meeting on, with the State’s Attorney being the leader in showing that he could touch people at the meeting and in the hall ways, with the others following his lead.

So, Terry chose to take this to jury trial, which they drug out for 1 and a half years.  He was found not guilty May 20th, 2014.

This arrest, within the first two weeks of a new, for the people, county board, changed the complete action of some of the majority board members.

The State’s Attorney wrote memos to the board, if you vote the wrong way, you could legally be held liable, which could be considered a felony for an elected official. It did not stop for two years.

They then, (the radical minority, and the department bureaucrats) threatened a majority board member with his and his wife’s jobs, at the local church.  Rather than lose his job, he resigned, because he said he could not change his vote, and he could not lose their jobs.

Then they worked on the next majority board member and his job, and threats of being held liable if he voted the wrong way. He resigned shortly after also.

The actions of the State’s Attorney and the Sheriff, were scaring board members and their vote. They took this to a very high level of intimidation and confusion.    ( Go to Dewitt county board recorded meetings from 2013-2014) pick out just a couple to listen to, you will be amazed at the actions of the people , the board members and the State’s Attorney.

The thing that this affected most of Terry’s elected position on this board is and was the State’s Attorney’s blatant disrespect for the office and the people.  He would not answer any of Terry’s questions, from the credit card abuse by the probation officer, clear through to any questions on the landfill situation.  Terry did ask legal questions, and the SA would disregard and reply back that Terry did not know what he was talking about, and never answer his questions.

The State’s Attorney disrespected the Chairwoman of the board very blatantly also. Recordings support this also.

Editor’s note: Mr. Hoffman was found not guilty of all charges and has now filed a civil suit against DeWitt County and those responsible – we will highlight that suit in a future article.

Related articles: DeWitt State’s Atty covers up crimeDeWitt County lies about credit cardDeWitt County Credit Card againMore DeWitt County Probation Credit Card issues




DeWitt County State’s Atty Koritz: Demand Transparency (but not from me) –

DEWITT CO. (ECWd) –

I recently came across an “Open Letter to the Citizens of DeWitt County” from March 4, 2013 published in the DeWitt Daily News (here) in which the author, DeWitt County State’s Attorney Koritz, asked the citizens to “Demand Transparency”.

“…Demand openness. Demand transparency. Demand that our public officials, myself included, are held accountable for their actions and their leadership...”

While I completely agree with Loritz that citizens should demand transparency, I find it troubling that his own office refuses to be transparent and even assisted other county offices in being less than transparent. Was this simply a smokescreen designed to make people think he was all about openness, transparency and accountability until someone asked a hard question? If not, why was asking for records that pointed to constitutional violations denied?

True transparency means being transparent even when you are not required by law to be transparent – as is the case with the credit card issue and probation department that we wrote about last year (here, here, here, here, here, and here). I know the AG determined those records did not have to be release under FOIA, but please note that nothing forbids release of these records, it simply does not require their release.

So, one more time, I would like to ask DeWitt County’s champion of openness, transparency, accountability, and involvement, Mr. Loritz, to direct Mr. Dunn (if he still works there) to produce the requested records “in the interest of demanding transparency and accountability” as your “open letter” just a few months prior to our discovery of this credit card abuse stated people should demand, and that they should even demand it from you.

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Dewitt County State’s Attorney Fails to Perform Statutory Duty…

DEWITT CO. (ECWd) –

In direct violation of his statutory duty, Dewitt County State’s Attorney sniped at a county board board member during a public meeting with a statement worthy of his resignation, and considering he is the very person who is suppose to uphold the law, maybe he should face Official Misconduct charges!

The State”s Attorney is an elected official for the county and his duties are very specific in nature. It doesn’t take an educated person to understand what those duties are.  They are even broken down by number so it’s not like reading a running paragraph that has to be dissected.

Specifically, item number 7 in the list of his duties states:

“To give his opinion, without fee or reward, to any county officer in his county, upon any question or law relating to any criminal or other matter, in which the people or the county may be concerned.” (Click here to download States Attorney Statutory Duties)

21:50 mark of the audio –“Terry you’re not my client, the county board is my client”. 

Terry Hoffman just happens to be a County Board Member (a County Officer), which makes him his client!

http://edgarcountywatchdogs.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/131219Mtg1.mp3

Karle Koritz (kkoritz@dewittcountyill.com), the current State’s Attorney, apparently has either never read his statutory duties or he has once again allowed his arrogance to get in the way of doing his job within the scope of the law.

This is the same guy that justified the most amazing crude comments by his assistant with a statement of “found it to be completely out of character for Mr. Dunn”.  Hey, Mr. State’s Attorney, a person’s character is established by his actions!  You should have fired the kid!

The SA response was in reaction to several comments made in a letter from his assistant to the board, of which this is one of those comments:he will feel like a kid in the back seat of a car after prom. It will be awkward for him or her, painful, over quickly, and he/she will not end up getting the result that was hoped for.” (Click here for article covering this event)

Back to the issue at hand; legal representation.  Each and every county officer in Dewitt County is his client and he is required by law to provide his legal opinion upon any question relating to any criminal or other matter, which clearly the question asked by the board member fell into the “other matter” category.

What recourse does the  public have when a State’s Attorney fails refuses to perform his statutory duty?  May we suggest a formal criminal complaint to the State Police?

I know we don’t need to remind our regular readers, but for the sake of all the new ones joining the cause daily, let’s once again review the Official Misconduct statute and apply it to the arrogant Dewitt County State’s Attorney.

It’s short, sweet, and to the point!  Even a lawyer would understand this one!

(720 ILCS 5/33-3) (from Ch. 38, par. 33-3)
Sec. 33-3. Official Misconduct.) A public officer or employee or special government agent commits misconduct when, in his official capacity or capacity as a special government agent, he commits any of the following acts:
(a) Intentionally or recklessly fails to perform any mandatory duty as required by law; or
(b) Knowingly performs an act which he knows he is forbidden by law to perform; or
(c) With intent to obtain a personal advantage for himself or another, he performs an act in excess of his lawful authority; or
(d) Solicits or knowingly accepts for the performance of any act a fee or reward which he knows is not authorized by law.
A public officer or employee or special government agent convicted of violating any provision of this Section forfeits his office or employment or position as a special government agent. In addition, he commits a Class 3 felony.
For purposes of this Section, “special government agent” has the meaning ascribed to it in subsection (l) of Section 4A-101 of the Illinois Governmental Ethics Act.
(Source: P.A. 94-338, eff. 1-1-06.) (click here for link to download the statute)

Now is there anyone that thinks the State’s Attorney should not be charged with Official Misconduct?  He is the the top legal authority in the county, and by his own words has refused provide a legal opinion to a question asked of him by his client.  And in fact, he not only has refused to provide a  response but has taken the position that a county board member is not his client.

With that kind of arrogance I would think it’s high time the public step up and start taking back their government because it’s clearly out of control! 

For those that want to make this political you had best realize that actions like this from ANY State’s Attorney is clearly wrong and places each and every elected person at risk because they can no longer trust the system.  Those who are elected are entitled by statute to have their questions answered by their legal counsel.  The reason is that it is the board members who must run the county, and when they are not given the legal opinion they request, it opens Pandora’s box for legal challenges down the road that ultimately can lead to a huge liability to the taxpayer!

Contact your neighbors, co-workers, elected officials and the State Police!  This kind of action must be stopped and not allowed to go unanswered! 

Oh, and he has recently applied for an Asistant Judgeship in Champaign County!




Lake Land College Employee Terminated, Charged With Theft –

MATTOON, IL. (ECWd) –

This is a common situation that we discover time and time again in nearly every public body we look at.
We saw this in:

-DeWitt County Probation Office (here),
-Arcola Township (here),
-Edgar County Housing Authority (here),
-Edgar County ETSB,
-Ford-Iroquois Public Health Department,
-Effingham County Public Health Department,
-East Central Illinois Mass Transit District (here),
-Paris City Council (here),
-and even with the Mayor of Paris (here) and (here).

ALL of them constitutional violations and felonious actions left unprosecuted.

What makes this particular incident unusual is that apparently the LLC Trustees informed the Coles County State’s Attorney, who is actually pressing charges. Go figure…that is what appears to be uncommon in this case.

Without further comment, here is the article from the jg-tc.com website:

JG-TC: Officials announced Friday that a Lake Land College employee who was dismissed Thursday was arrested for allegedly using a college credit card for personal purchases.

Tammy Boeser was arrested on suspicion of theft, according to a news release that the college and the Coles County State’s Attorney’s Office issued jointly.

Boeser is charged with making personal purchases with a college credit card over roughly a four-year period, State’s Attorney Brian Bower said Friday. He said the charge alleges the theft of at least $10,000 but the investigation is continuing and an exact amount hasn’t been determined.

The release also said the college has made changes to its purchasing and credit card procedures.

Continue reading at jg-tc.com …(click here)




DeWitt County Update On AG FOIA Investigation –

DEWITT CO. (ECWd) –

After speaking to several Legislators yesterday about a FOIA expansion bill, I returned home to a letter from the Illinois Attorney General stating that the County of DeWitt was correct in denying access to the credit card receipts from the Probation Department – something I informed the Legislative Committee about during oral testimony.

2013 PAC 26053 – The AG determined that DeWitt County’s response to my Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA) request complied with the requirements of FOIA, in that the Appellate Court has determined that Probation Departments are not subject to FOIA simply because they are considered part of the judiciary or are an agent thereof.

The PAC also stated that FOIA does not directly require a public body to maintain records – that is governed by the Local Records Act. Since the Probation Department does not fall under FOIA, the County cannot be required, and does not have the authority, to obtain the records from the Probation Department. Don’t confuse this part with the Arcola Township situation where the records are FOIA-ble and not in their possession – a completely different scenario.

That leads us into two different scenarios, and I will attempt to address each one of them separately:

SCENARIO ONE: The credit card is a private credit card…

Under this scenario, that the credit card is a private credit card as the Assistant State’s Attorney has alleged (without providing proof), then what has just happened?

-The County Treasurer, by cutting a County check to pay the entire private person’s bill, has violated the Constitution of the State of Illinois, Article VIII (a) by using public funds, property, or credit for other than public purposes.

-The Circuit Court, by the act of approving payment to a private credit card, violated the Constitution of the State of Illinois, Article VIII (a) by authorizing the use of public funds, property, or credit for other than public purposes.

-The Probation Officer simply violated the trust of the Treasurer and the Circuit Court by asking the entire bill be paid and reimbursing the Treasurer at a later date.

-The Treasurer violated the law by improperly annotating the “reimbursement receipt” as “misc funds”, “probation automation – misc”, “misc expense”, and “probation fees” on the receipt – which clearly was not truthful and should have stated “reimbursement”.

-Are the sales taxes paid on the purchases made for public business? If so, why? In not, what about the personal purchases – taxes paid on them?

-Finally we get to the “Rewards Points” – who do they belong to? Is it not true that by using a private credit card for public purchases drives up the “Rewards Points” that should rightfully belong to the County? Is the probation officer gaining anything of value using rewards point gained from public purchases?

SCENARIO TWO: The credit card is a public credit card…

If you remember back to the meeting where this was discussed in-depth, the County Treasurer stated four times that it was a public (government) credit card. Now they claim it isn’t. So, just in case it is a public credit card, here is what happened:

-The County Treasurer, by cutting a County check to pay the entire bill without subtracting the personal purchases, has violated the Constitution of the State of Illinois, Article VIII (a) by using public funds, property, or credit for other than public purposes.

-The Circuit Court, by the act of approving payment of the credit card balance without subtracting the personal purchases, violated the Constitution of the State of Illinois, Article VIII (a) by authorizing the use of public funds, property, or credit for other than public purposes.

-The Probation Officer, by using it for personal purchases,  violated the Constitution of the State of Illinois, Article VIII (a) by using public funds, property, or credit for other than public purposes – even if he reimbursed the County at a later date.

-The Treasurer violated the law by improperly annotating the “reimbursement receipt” as “misc funds”, “probation automation – misc”, “misc expense”, and “probation fees” on the receipt – which clearly was not truthful.

-Are the sales taxes paid on the purchases made for public business? If so, why? In not, what about the personal purchases – taxes paid on them?

Closing…

So these are two scenarios where alleged felonious activity has occurred in County of DeWitt government including the Treasurer, Court, and Probation Officer. One of them is true, we just have to figure out which one.

We also have an employee of the DeWitt County State’s Attorney’s Office that is fully aware of these actions, and has even facilitated them to a degree.

Who will step up to the plate and say NO MORE?! Not on my watch!

 Unanswered questions:

Does a County Board Member have the right and the duty to see the actual receipts for claims made by the probation department prior to approving payments?

IF the County Board or Treasurer see actual copies of receipts from the Probation Department, do those receipts then become subject to FOIA?

Download (PDF, 4.68MB)

DeWittLogo




Watchdog Testifies On FOIA Expansion Bill –

SPRINGFIELD, IL. (ECWd) –

Representative Brad Halbrook, 110th, is the sponsor on HB 5344, a bill design to strengthen the Freedom Of Information Act to put courts, circuit clerk, probation offices, and state’s attorneys subject to FOIA. (WTYE ran a short article here).

Background:
In 1983, the Local Records Act (LRA)was amended after passage of the Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA). The Local Records Act includes Courts, State’s Attorneys, Probation, and Circuit Clerks as public entities required to make records available for inspection. However, with passage of FOIA, the legislature amended the LRA in Section 15 to state that “…the provisions of Section 3a of this Act, as it relates to inspection of records, shall apply only as to records and reports prepared or received prior to this date. Records and reports prepared or received on or after July 1, 1984, shall be covered under the provisions of "The Freedom of Information Act", approved by the 83rd General Assembly.” (Section 3a of the LRA pertains to the records of receipt, obligation, and use of public funds)

With this amendment to the LRA, records that were available for inspection became unavailable by virtue of the FOIA not including the language making “courts” subject to FOIA. I contend the “Legislative Intent” was to keep the definition the same in both Acts, but was unintentionally overlooked.

Synopsis As Introduced:
Amends the Freedom of Information Act. Provides that only for purposes of the Section concerning records of funds, the term “public body” includes probation offices, State’s Attorney offices, circuit clerks, and judges. Provides that all records relating to the obligation, receipt, and use of public funds of probation offices, State’s Attorney offices, circuit clerks, and judges are public records subject to inspection and copying by the public. Effective immediately.

It is currently held in committee awaiting amendment(s).

Edgar County Watchdog, John Kraft, was present with oral testimony in support of the bill, citing recent problems with DeWitt County and the issue he is having obtaining credit card receipts from the DeWitt County Probation Office. Current court opinions have placed probation and circuit clerks firmly under the “Judicial” system and not subject to FOIA. The Attorney General has sided with DeWitt County on this issue citing the judicial exception. An upcoming Illinois Supreme Court opinion will decide the issue with State’s Attorney Offices and FOIA. The Illinois Press Association and the Appellate Prosecutor’s Association both indicated support for the legislation with amendment. Most every legislator on the committee voiced support for the bill with amendment.

springfield2

 

 




Attorney General Investigating DeWitt FOIA Denial –

SULLIVAN, IL. (ECWd) –

The Illinois Attorney General’s Public Access Counselor has determined that “further inquiry is warranted” in the request for review (complaint) I filed alleging denial of a public records request. Following an August DeWitt County Board Meeting where there was an obvious issue with a credit card, I submitted the following Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA) Request to DeWitt County, Lars Dunn.

The FOIA Request

From: John Kraft [mailto:xxxxxxxxxx]
Sent: Tuesday, August 27, 2013 9:20 AM
To: ‘Lars Dunn’
Subject: FOIA Request (DeWitt) 8-27-2013

In accordance with the Illinois Freedom Of Information Act, I request the following.

1. Copy of all supporting documents related to this transaction:

CAPITOL ONE BANK PROB AUTO-CREDIT CARD PYMT $6282.99

By “all supporting documents”, I mean all receipts, memos, claims forms, credit card statements, etc.

—————–

Mr. Dunn responded with incomplete responses and unauthorized redactions.

On September 1, I requested the complete public records thru this email:

From: John Kraft [mailto:xxxxxxxxxxx]
Sent: Sunday, September 01, 2013 8:09 AM
To: ‘Lars Dunn’
Cc: ‘Kirk Allen’
Subject: RE: FOIA Request (DeWitt) 8-27-2013

Mr. Dunn,

This FOIA request is incomplete for the following reasons:

1. I did not receive any receipts associated with the charges to the credit card.
2. Improper redactions were made and are inconsistent with 5 ILCS 140/7(1)(c) for:
a. Improper redaction of where the purchase on 30 July was made.
b. Improper redaction of the name, address, etc (mailing address) on the first page of the statement (it should list who the statement is sent to)

Redacting “Personal information” does not apply to public credit card purchases since “The disclosure of information that bears on the public duties of public employees and officials shall not be considered an invasion of personal privacy.”

This bears on his public duties.

Section 2.5 also applies in this situation since charging personal items on a public credit card falls under “use of public funds”.

“Sec. 2.5. Records of funds. All records relating to the obligation, receipt, and use of public funds of the State, units of local government, and school districts are public records subject to inspection and copying by the public.”

Please provide the complete, unredacted public records requested in this FOIA request.

———————————

Request For Review Filed with the AG

Without complete reponsive documents from the original FOIA request, I filed a complaint with the Illinois Attorney General’s Public Access Counselor:

From: John Kraft [mailto:xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx]
Sent: Friday, September 13, 2013 6:34 AM
To: ‘PublicAccess@atg.state.il.us’; ‘Access, Public’
Subject: FOIA Request for Review (DeWitt County)

Office of the Attorney General,

I hereby submit this request for the Public Access Counselor to review a FOIA Request Denial.

Date FOIA Request sent to Public Body: August 27, 2013

Name of Public Body: DeWitt County

Emails of the original FOIA request and public body’s response are below.

Summary of facts:

On August 27, 2013, I submitted a FOIA request to FOIA Officer of DeWitt County, Assistant State’s Attorney Lars Dunn, requesting the following:

1. Copy of all supporting documents related to this transaction:

CAPITOL ONE BANK PROB AUTO-CREDIT CARD PYMT $6282.99

By “all supporting documents”, I mean all receipts, memos, claims forms, credit card statements, etc.

On August 30, 2013, he responded with part of the records requested and improper redactions.

On September 1, 2013, I responded to his partial denial with the following:

Mr. Dunn,

This FOIA request is incomplete for the following reasons:

1. I did not receive any receipts associated with the charges to the credit card.
2. Improper redactions were made and are inconsistent with 5 ILCS 140/7(1)(c) for:
a. Improper redaction of where the purchase on 30 July was made.
b. Improper redaction of the name, address, etc (mailing address) on the first page of the statement (it should list who the statement is sent to)

Redacting “Personal information” does not apply to public credit card purchases since “The disclosure of information that bears on the public duties of public employees and officials shall not be considered an invasion of personal privacy.”

This bears on his public duties.

Section 2.5 also applies in this situation since charging personal items on a public credit card falls under “use of public funds”.

“Sec. 2.5. Records of funds. All records relating to the obligation, receipt, and use of public funds of the State, units of local government, and school districts are public records subject to inspection and copying by the public.”

Please provide the complete, unredacted public records requested in this FOIA request.

As of today, September 13, 2013, no further communication related to this request has been had.

I believe this to be a partial denial of my FOIA request for the following reason(s):

Improper denial for item numbers 1 and 4

– Improper redactions – FOIA permits redaction of “personal information”, but what was redacted is the name and mailing address of the person receiving the credit card bill. I believe that person to be a Probation Officer and the mailing address to be that of the DeWitt County Probation Office (as stated during a public meeting).
– Improper denial of receipts for purchases – Receipts were not provided as requested. Redaction of a “personal” purchase.
– Improper denial of copy of the approval of the Circuit Court Judge approving the expenditures as required by statute.
– Improper denial of a copy of the claim form

Thanks for your prompt consideration in this matter.

The original FOIA request and all communication related to it are below.
——————————

Responding To AG’s Inquiry

The Attorney General determined that further review was necessary in this complaint and directed Mr. Dunn to reply to the allegations, which he did reply to. Following his reply, I am allowed the opportunity to respond to his reply to the AG and state my case as to why I believe the records should be produced. Below is my letter to the AG that includes my response to Mr. Dunn:

Download (PDF, 90KB)

 

It has now been two months since I had any communications with the AGs office and I would hope that a resolution is forthcoming in the very near future. I cannot predict what the outcome will be, but I would hope it is my favor. We will update this as soon as the AG renders an opinion on it.

 

 




DeWitt: The Stories Don’t Add Up!

Dewitt Co. (ECWd)

If we have said it once, we have said it a hundred times, you can’t make this stuff up!

Directly from the Dewitt County Policy Manual

Misuse of fundsFacts:

  1. Capitol One Probation Automation statement is being managed by the County Treasure.
  2. County Funds are used to pay the credit card, claimed by the treasure to belong to Probation Automation.
  3. Probation Officer routinely has made “reimbursements” to the county for personal purchases on what he claims is his own card.
  4. Credit Card statement reflects hand written note confirming personal expense on the card.

If the County Policy Manual is followed then clearly we have Misuse of Funds!

County Treasure pays a bill with County Funds for what is now being claimed is a personal card! Why are county funds being used to pay personal expenses?

If it was in fact a county card, which we suspect is the case considering the Treasure claimed it was, not once, but three separate times, then the Probation officer has Misused funds for his acknowledged Personal expense.

Regardless of who owns this card, they can’t get around the FACT that public funds have been used to pay the bill, which admittedly has personal expenses on them on more than one occasion.

Our own constitution, which is in fact part of State Law, states that public funds are for public purpose. The Probation officer is claiming the card belongs to him, so can anyone explain why on earth you would “reimburse” the county coffers for your own personal expenses on your own credit card?  Is that not an acknowledgement that you are having the County manage your credit?

Is the use of county manpower, time, and resources to manage a private credit card the obligation of the tax payer?

The policy manual outlines the misuse of funds will be handled by specific sections of the policy manual.  Can anyone explain why the law is not what handles such misuse?

If in fact this card belongs to the Probation Officer, in his private citizen capacity, then according to the Policy Manual he shall be reimbursed with proper receipts.  We don’t see that process being followed in this case.  In fact, it’s clear the county treasurer is managing the account and accepting “reimbursements” for what is now the claimed owner of the card.  That just doesn’t pass the smell test!

We will submit our FOIA for receipts today!

Reimburseable ExpensesTo get a grasp of how bad things really are in Dewitt County you need to read each article we have covered.  The facts, to include their own words, make quite a compelling case.  I always wonder what people think when one day they claim one thing, on video or audio, and then when caught in what appears to be a cover up in this case, they have another official claim something entirely different.  With two different claims it raises more red flags!

Red Flag list from Dewitt County!

  1. Dewitt County- Here We Go
  2. Watchdogs in Dewitt County
  3. Simple Turns Impossible- Emotions Rule
  4. Waste Water Treatment Plant
  5. Threats and Attempts at Boycott
  6. Position of Trust creating Mistrust!
  7. Dewitt County States Attorney – Deceptive?
  8. Probation Credit Card Use



DeWitt County & Probation Credit Card Use…

DEWITT CO. (ECWd) –

Who Is Ultimately Responsible For The Payment If It Defaults?

Is this a public credit card? — A question so simple to answer, yet nobody will state as fact AND provide proof!

Now the problem in DeWitt County, is that you do not know who to believe; the Treasurer who pays the bills, the Assistant State’s Attorney who knows why the questions are being asked, or the Probation Officer who used the credit card?

The simple way to figure this out, is for several people to huddle around that fax machine and have the credit card company fax a copy of the ORIGINAL application for credit to that fax machine. That way nobody has a chance to “doctor” it before everyone else gets a chance to look at it.

This article is a response to those that thought we were “generally reckless” and “self important methods” in our reporting of the credit card incident. I will once more state that what we reported was stated as fact (by the DeWitt County Treasurer) at the time of the publication of the article. We have yet to receive anything resembling any proof that it is or was inacurate. Any credit card statement and/or receipts uploaded to that article came directly, thru email,  from the DeWitt County Assistant State’s Attorney, Lars Dunn. On another note, if a document is presented to a public body for payment, it is public record available for the whole world to see. If you think we “illegally” published that document, go file a lawsuit against us and see how far you get with it. “Feel froggy? Jump!”

From The August 15, 2013 DeWitt County Board Meeting

You have to listen carefully to figure out all of the “redirections”, answers that didn’t answer the question asked, unsolicited comments from the treasurer, more answers that didn’t apply to the question asked, etc. It was all in an attempt to confuse the board so that they would continue on without obtaining a truthful answer. It’s rather sickening if you think about it.

There were two basic questions asked, and they were:

1.  Is this a public credit card or a private credit card?
2. Is it legal to purchase personal item using a public credit card?

Nobody asked (because it did not pertain to the questions actually asked) what account the money came from to pay the bill, but that seemed to be the popular answer to every question.
From this article, the following were asked at the beginning of the audio clip:

The person asking the questions is a DeWitt County Board Member; the person answering most of the questions is the DeWitt County Treasurer.

Chris: “The Capitol One is for probation automation that David Beery has…that’s why that credit card bill was that high.”

“That’s thru the probation automation, it’s..it’s..it’s not his account…it’s through the probation automation.”

“What he does is every once in awhile he comes in and gives us the cash and we write him a receipt, he staples it to that credit card, and we return that to his probation automation.”

===> Now, listen to the audio starting at the 8 minute mark. The Treasurer states as fact, at least THREE TIMES, that it is a public credit card.

(Start at the 8 Minute Mark in this audio) …

“The billing address is David Beery, DeWitt County Probation Automation…”

Q: So this is actually a county credit card…
A: County Probation Automation

Q:  So the county is responsible for paying it, it’s not a personal…unintelligible
A: Right…unintelligible speech

Q:  It is our county credit card…
A:  It’s a probation automation card…

Q:  So it’s a government credit card
A:  …unintelligible

OK, that’s what I was asking.

 Other Interesting Tidbits From This Credit Card

ECWd asks:

If this is a private credit card, why does the statement get shown for payment – to the credit card company? Shouldn’t the receipts get produced for reimbursement back to the probation officer instead? Why would the officer “reimburse” the county if it was his personal card?  “If ” its his personal card then he should pay the credit card company, not reimburse the county who clearly has been paying it.

Why is the County Treasurer making payments to, and managing, a private credit card? (if it is private)  Is that not use of public funds to cover private purchases?

Do any sales tax get applied to purchases? Are they tax-free purchases like they should be when a public body buys items? What about the tax on the “personal” purchases? THAT IS WHY YOU NEED A RECEIPT INSTEAD OF A STATEMENT !

Who does the “Rewards Balance” of 57, 113 belong to? How long has this card been around and has anyone used any of the “rewards balance” in its history? If they are accrued with county purchases, the balance belongs to the county.

We will follow this article up with a video-cast about the Sep 5, 2013 meeting.

 




DeWitt County State’s Atty’s Office Caught In Act Of Deception?…

DEWITT CO. (ECWd) –

We have come to expect a certain amount of deceit in public bodies when we start unraveling what has been going on over the years, but we never expected a State’s Attorney’s Office to be at the forefront of lies and deception, as is apparently the case with DeWitt County.

You Decide!  –  First FOIA…

On August 20, 2013, I submitted a FOIA request to the Assistant State’s Attorney for DeWitt County, the County’s FOIA Officer, seeking the following:

From: John Kraft [mailto:john……….net]
Sent: Tuesday, August 20, 2013 8:35 AM
To: Lars Dunn
Subject: FOIA Request (DeWitt) 8-20-2013

  1. Copy of all payments made as “reimbursements” for personal purchases on public credit cards in the past 2 years. I request a copy of the receipt for payment and a copy of the credit card statement associated with said receipt. This should include the name of the person tendering payment

Lars Dunn (This Lars Dunn) Responds to FOIA #1

On August 27, 2013, I receive this response from Mr. Lars Dunn, DeWitt County Assistant State’s Attorney:

“Your request was forwarded to the DeWitt County Treasurer’s Office. There are no documents responsive to your request.”

So I called him and asked him why there would be no documents responsive to my request when the Treasurer publicly stated, in the DeWitt County board meeting, that “every once in a while” this type of thing happens and the people just pay (in cash) what they purchase for personal use on the county credit cards, and she reimburses the appropriate account later. He told me that never happens and I must have misuderstood what she said.

Here is the article about that meeting with the audio – see if you misunderstand it like Mr. Dunn would like to think that I apparently did…

Second FOIA

Then I sent this FOIA request on August 27, 2013:

From: John Kraft [mailto:john……….net]
Sent: Tuesday, August 27, 2013 9:20 AM
To: Lars Dunn
Subject: FOIA Request (DeWitt) 8-27-2013

In accordance with the Illinois Freedom Of Information Act, I request the following.

  1. Copy of all supporting documents related to this transaction:

CAPITOL ONE BANK           PROB AUTO-CREDIT CARD PYMT         $6282.99

            By “all supporting documents”, I mean all receipts, memos, claims forms, credit card statements, etc.

 Lars Dunn Responds Again

On August 30, 2013, Mr. Dunn responds with this:

The County of DeWitt is honoring your request by providing documents retained by the County Treasurer. Personal information has been redacted pursuant to 5 ILCS 140/7(1)(c).

Here are the documents provided:

Download (PDF, 263KB)

 Do They Forget What They Say From Day To Day?

Here is the problem as I see it. Someone lied. Either the Treasurer lied to Mr. Dunn in regards to my 1st request, or Mr. Dunn lied to me about the 1st request. But, chances are, they will claim they “misunderstood” what documents I was seeking – even though I specifically stated what I was seeking.

How can they state no documents one week, then turn around a week later and produce some of those documents through a different FOIA?

In the provided documents, I can see several problems. Here they are:

#1.  I received a credit card statement, but did not receive: receipts/memos/claim forms.

#2.  Item #28 is clearly a personal purchase for $110.94 on this public credit card – it is even hand-written “Personal expense – see receipt” – contradicts the: “No documents responsive to your request” response from FOIA #1.

#3.  Item #28 is (improperly) redacted on what was purchased and/or where it was purchased from – contradicts the: “No documents responsive to your request” response from FOIA #1.

#4.  A receipt from the Treasurer’s Office – contradicts the: “No documents responsive to your request” response from FOIA #1.

 #5.  Improper redactions on the first page of the credit card statement – it does not list the name(s), address, etc. on the card.

 What Does The Constitution Say About The Use Of Public Credit?

1970 Illinois Constitution – Article VIII, Section 1 says:

 SECTION 1. GENERAL PROVISIONS
    (a)  Public funds, property or credit shall be used only
for public purposes.

I would say that paragraph makes it pretty clear; personal use of a public credit card is not authorized.

 What Does The Illinois Supreme Court Say About It?

The Illinois Municiple League, wrote about several cases, one of them being the Illinois Supreme Court decision in the Pekin, Illinois Mayor’s conviction for Felony Official Misconduct. You can read the write-up below, but please pay attention to the parts about the Constitution serving as a predicate unlawful act for Official Misconduct and also the part where the IML concludes that since it is an unlawful act, any official or employee covering up or aiding the unlawful act could be considered to have aided and abetted a crime persuant to the Illinois Criminal Code.

**Mr. Lars Dunn, if you don’t read anything else, please read this again: Since the Illinois Supreme Court has upheld that (personal use of public credit) it is an unlawful act, any official or employee covering up or aiding the unlawful act could be considered to have aided and abetted a crime persuant to the Illinois Criminal Code.

**I would also submit that any County Treasurer, by accepting “reimbursement” for personal purchases on a public credit card, has aided and abetted an unlawful act, and has also committed Official Misconduct himself/herself.

*******************************

Copied from page 6 of the IML link.

AUTHORITY OF ELECTED OFFICIALS TO USE MUNICIPAL FUNDS

Use of Municipal Credit Card / Criminal Action Against Elected Village Official

1.  No.  The Illinois Supreme Court recently discussed the scope of restrictions on municipal elected officials to use municipal funds or credit in People v. Howard, 228 Ill. 2d 428 (2008). In that case, the Mayor of Pekin, Illinois (Tazewell County) was using a municipal credit card for the short-term financing of his gambling habit. Although he would personally repay the municipal credit card bills each month, (with the exception of one month, where he paid the late charges, too), the court held that he had committed the statutory offense of “official misconduct” due to his misuse of Pekin’s credit. The court held “that the [Illinois] constitution can serve as a predicate unlawful act for the offense of official misconduct.” Section 33-3(c) of the Illinois Criminal Code makes “official misconduct” a crime. The Illinois Supreme Court for the first time stated that a violation of Article VIII, Section 1(a) of the Illinois Constitution, which requires that “[p]ublic funds, property or credit shall be used only for public purposes,” could be considered “official misconduct” under the Illinois Criminal Code. In upholding the trial court’s ruling, the Illinois Supreme Court found the Mayor’s personal use of Pekin’s credit card was “official misconduct” because it made credit unavailable to the village for the time period during which credit was expended and not repaid, and also confirmed the 30 month probation sentence and monetary fines imposed on the Mayor. 

2.   Because this type of misuse of municipal funds or credit has now been characterized as criminal conduct, any action by other village officials or employees to cover up or aid another official(s) or employee(s) who is engaged in similar conduct may be considered to be aiding and abetting a crime pursuant to the Illinois Criminal Code. If a misuse of municipal funds or credit is discovered, the matter should be turned over to the county state’s attorney and the local police department or an outside law enforcement agency for investigation.

******************************

What Should DeWitt County Taxpayers Expect?

-Truth. The complete truth about how many people, how often, and how much money/credit is involved in the use of public funds, credit, or property over the past several years.

-Action. Put an immediate and complete stop to this abuse.

-Accountability. Hold people accountable – especially if they are charged with enforcing or presecuting our laws.

-Cancel Credit Cards. Cancel those credit cards that are not “mission essential”.

-Policy. Immediately develop a County policy on the use of public funds, credit, and property. Make reviewing it an annual employee requirement. Prosecute those violating it.

 DeWtiiSAdeception




Position of Trust Creating Mistrust (Video) –

DEWITT CO. (ECWd) –

During “bill payment” at the DeWitt County Board Meeting on Aug 15th, a board member questioned the validity of a bill presented for payment. The bill in question was a credit card assigned to the Probation/Drug Court Officer. It’s not that an incorrect amount was presented, but that a charge was paid by the officer and it was annotated as personal items.

The board member questioned whether the credit card was a County Gov’t card or whether it was a personal card. Turns out it was a County credit card. That being the case, he questioned about people charging personal thing to the county card. He could not get an answer out of the State’s Attorney’s office, who was present, but instead started receiving “excuses” about where that money comes from. It doesn’t matter where it comes from, the fact is, it is PUBLIC CREDIT!

Use of public funds, property or credit for other than public purposes is a crime, and the State’s Attorney’s office knows it! At a minimum it is a violation of Article VIII, Section 1, of the 1970 Constitution of the State of Illinois. Other statutes fall in place also, like official misconduct, and they are all potential felonies if prosecuted.

From the words spoken in the audio, this is not an isolated incident and the County of DeWitt needs to institute a Credit Card Use Policy immediately. Keep in mind this comes from an officer that sees to it that other people follow the law, and if not he recommends they be returned to custody.

Audio is below, and video below that. 

 DeWittCreditCard

 




DeWitt County Threats and Attempts at Boycotting –

DEWITT CO. (ECWd) –

In what is quickly becoming a standard tactic for those in the spotlight, an anonymous letter has been sent (by a spineless dirtbag) to local advertisers of a newspaper in DeWitt County.

This letter talks about the business’s affiliation (advertising) in the paper, proceeds to trash the publisher by bringing up old court cases and making it sound like they happened yesterday.

It then talks about how “biased” of a publication it is and how it is responsible for the destruction of the Village of Wapella and now the destruction of DeWitt County. This is also common practice of these anonymous dirtbags – immediately claiming victim status and telling everyone that this group or that group is trying to destroy whatever community they are writing about.

Then they vow to band together and stop this unacceptable publication (codeword for CENSORSHIP), and the person behind it. they then ask the business to terminate its advertising in the paper (that sounds familiar…) and claiming that the letter writer and “concerned citizens” will no longer support any business associated with advertising in this paper.

So sayeth the spineless little maggots…

There is nothing like claiming to support the rights of all citizens, then going behind their backs, in some dark septic tank of a brain, and try to intimidate local businesses, attempt to censor a newspaper, and censor what the good law abiding citizens of the City of Clinton and DeWitt County are allowed to read, and ultimately dictate what they are allowed to THINK.

Whether you agree with the publication and the articles in it or not, the  anonymous letter writer needs to burn their voter registration card and forever allow others to rule them. What a fine piece of work you are!

One final word to the letter writer: If you must hang around in the shadows instead of stepping into the light, are you a person that can be trusted? I think not! Slither away you little maggot.

DeWittLetter




Clinton Lake Marina – Wastewater Treatment Plant…

DEWITT CO. (ECWd) –

While in Dewitt County last week waiting for the county board meeting (we arrived 3 hours early), we decided to cruise through the Marina that is leased Public Property from the County of Dewitt.

One of the first things we saw was the sewage treatment plant that appeared to have gone at least 20 years without any maintenance.

The pictures below show a deteriorating treatment plant, located within 100 feet or so of the lake. In case you don’t spot the problems, the sides are supposed to be completely covered (semi-smooth) with a plate – you won’t even see the tubing (some of the tubing is missing off of these). The purpose of the “covering”, or bio-discs, is to aid in the decomposition of the solids that travel through the plant.

I have submitted a FOIA request for the plant operating permit, the permit for the person responsible for the plant, safety/plant inspections, and discharge water quality test results – it will be interesting in what we find.

I suggest that the county board hire someone to take a good look at it and fix the decades of deterioration before it has to be replaced.

Here are the pics, taken June 6, 2013…Does anyone know who the boat belongs to?




Dewitt County – Simple turns impossible, Emotions Rule!

DEWITT CO. (ECWd) –

We had been asked to look into a few things up in Dewitt County, and last week was our second meeting attendance and was it ever worth the time!

Several issues during the meeting will be covered in a separate article as this one covers the events “after” the meeting.   You know, the meeting where so many people claim everything gets done?

In Edgar County it used to be the meeting at the Highway Department that never got posted and few knew about.  That’s where most things were decided pretty much in secret until we came along and demanded transparency and compliance with the law.

Back to Dewitt County!  After the first meeting I went to, I spoke with several people outside after the meeting and had some great dialog and it helped gather information from what some say is the opposition to those in charge.

After departing from there, I went to the local Hardees were several of the board members meet after the meetings.  Many claim to have their after meeting meeting. During that visit the topic of discussion was about who the Edgar County Watchdogs were and why we were in their County asking questions, contrary to some claims now made by other so called “opposition” board members.

Overall we had great visit and learned a lot as to what is going on from their perspective. From our perspective, the division in that County right now is so thick I’m not sure if a butcher knife could cut it.

After the second meeting, I again spoke with a very level headed gentleman outside after the meeting and I think the dialog was productive.  Sadly, a few piping in during that conversation refused to accept the fact that we are only seeking the truth and have no agenda in their county.

As many have heard me say time and time again, the Truth has No Agenda!  We are simply digging into some things that we were asked to look at by concerned people.  I don’t care what side they are on as the statutes don’t know sides.

With that in mind, I would suggest every person that attended that meeting take the time to do the online training from the Attorney Generals web site for the Open Meetings Act certification.  You can find it here.

The reason I think this would be a great starting point for EVERYONE that attended that meeting is because you will learn very quickly, contrary to so many opinions, the ENTIRE County Board could go to Hardees and have dinner together and no violation of the law has taken place, nor would it be a secret meeting unless the purpose of the meeting was to discuss public business.

(5 ILCS 120/1.02) (from Ch. 102, par. 41.02)
    Sec. 1.02. For the purposes of this Act:
    "Meeting" means any gathering, whether in person or by video or audio conference, telephone call, electronic means (such as, without limitation, electronic mail, electronic chat, and instant messaging), or other means of contemporaneous interactive communication, of a majority of a quorum of the members of a public body held for the purpose of discussing public business or, for a 5-member public body, a quorum of the members of a public body held for the purpose of discussing public business.

Many were so focused on the fact a group of board members gather after a meeting that I think they are missing the bigger problem.  Have we come to a point in our society that we have allowed the law to dictate who we can visit with when not conducting business?

In Dewitt County I believe they have fallen into the same trap as many other Counties.  Some are so focused on this after the meeting meeting that they have thrown up blinders to the fact not a single one of them has a shred of proof they have violated the law, yet some are literally yelling about the “opposition” having secret meetings.  If they had that proof, may I suggest getting it to us for public exposure and/or filing a lawsuit against those violating the law.

I went to that after the meeting meeting after our first visit and I spoke with several board members (3) for about an hour and I can say without question, contrary to another board members claim, the discussion was about the Edgar County Watchdogs and who we are and what we do.  People can infer all they want but when people do that with emotion and no facts it just makes them look stupid, regardless of what party they are with.

As I said during my first visit to Dewitt County, they only have the powers granted by law.  That goes for ALL of the board members and just like we have seen in Iroquois County, Edgar County, Albion Illinois and many others, We The People have allowed politics to separate our society to a point where the division is so bad nothing gets done when in reality, nothing should get done unless it complies with the laws, no matter what political party you side with.

The People’s Business is just that!  If both sides stay focused on what the law allows them to do and only do that, there would be nothing to fight over and one side wouldn’t be calling the other “The Opposition”.   I think both sides are guilty of falling into this trap to some degree based on what I have seen and heard during our last two visits.

Simple questions solve major problems!

  • Hey, that sounds like a great idea!  Does the statute allow us to do that?
  • The fact we are doing it now doesn’t make it right does it?
  • Where in the statute does it say we can do this?
  • The law doesn’t let us do this but we “can” change the law through our legislative system of government so why don’t we do that before implementing our idea?

If We The People are serving to truly represent the people then our actions will speak louder than our words.  It will take us some time but I suspect, just like the recent events in Iroquois County, the truth will come out and we will again expose it.  As I explained to several after this meeting, we saw the same division in Iroquois County after we starting poking into things.  Many hated us, just as was expressed by a few in Dewitt.

That is OK and we accept that resistance because what we do is not personal nor for personal gain.  We simply ask tough questions and dig for fact based answers.  Doing that in Iroquois county has led to the most amazing turn of events we have seen since we started.  They took action, are taking more action, and actually addressing the exposed wrong doing and I think most have realized this is not about us exposing it. We are simply the messenger!  How you deal with the message will determine your worth as a society!

Plenty of focus on blaming someone for things that went wrong does nothing to fix the wrong.  Those in Iroquois county grabbed the bull by the horns and took the tough steps to fix it and most have admitted, they weren’t doing the job they were elected to do!  They lost focus!

I think just like in every other county we have visited, there are good people on both sides and once we can get back to the real purpose of our government and get away from personal agendas things will amazingly run a lot smoother and more efficient.

Stay tuned for an upcoming article on Dewitt County that exposes “both” sides of the isle are planning on violating the Open Meetings Act.  A recent FOIA may prove interesting on that subject!

DewittCo1




ECWd In Dewitt County –

DEWITT CO. (ECWd) –

We were asked by several people in Dewitt County to look into a few matters after they witnessed what we were able to accomplish in Iroquois County.  The key to those accomplishments lie not on what we did, as much as what the elected officials did with the information we provided.

It appears that Dewitt is not much different than any other county when it comes to the problems of following the law, and applying it properly as it relates to the people’s tax dollars.  It also appears they have a state’s attorney willing to allow his assistant to conduct himself, let’s just say, less than professionally.   Even though the SA claimed the actions of his assistant that are outlined in this article were unacceptable, those words have little meening since the assistant still has his job.

It appears Dewitt County is practicing the same questionable property tax policies as several other counties.  We have a few FOIA requests we are working on as it relates to property tax and who is obligated to pay that tax.  As we gather the rest of the documents we will publish those results.  What we are finding consistently is people leasing county owned property and then never paying the property tax, which is the obligation of the lease holder, not the taxpayer!

The primary purpose of our first meeting was to give them heads up to the fact we are now looking into things as requested from citizens in their county.  I hope that these people take the information and fix what is broken instead of fighting the messengers who bring the message.




Dewitt County-Here we go!

DEWITT CO. (ECWd) –

In the last two weeks we have been hammered with calls and requests for assistance to expose more wrongdoing by public officials from multiple counties.  Turns out Dewitt county may not be much different than any of the others, all things considered.

Apparently, the Assistant State’s Attorney felt justified in sending all the county board members an e-mail that was, let’s just say over the top with sexual innuendos and a huge dose of un-professionalism.

Even more shocking, after contacting his boss for comment, the State’s Attorney Karle Koritz, was his response to the matter.  By the way, Mr. Koritz is yet another unopposed elected State’s Attorney and he replaced his father!

His email response to my inquire can be found here.   You can compare that to his Memo for Courtesy sent to the board members.

The title of the letter he sent is the first thing that jumped out at me, all things considered.  One must wonder how such a breach of professional conduct is deemed a courtesy matter?

What I find ironic when comparing the two, is how different the tone and content is compared to the letter he sent the board.

He stated to me, I found it to be unacceptable and unbefitting of a state’s attorney’s office”, yet he tells the board “this particular communication contained notes of sarcasm and a tone that were not entirely appropriate”.

Which is it Mr. Koritz, unacceptable and unbefitting or not entirely appropriate?.  I suspect the hope was that his response to me, which contained much sterner language, would be enough to shut the matter down so the public doesn’t have to see what is going on.  Unfortunately that’s not the case as the two responses are distinctively different!

More concerning is the claim from the SA that he “found it to be completely out of character for Mr. Dunn” and he knows “this error in judgment will not be repeated.”

Really?

In one sentence this man says it’s completely out of character, which implies he had no idea he would do something like this, and then takes the position he “knows” this error in judgment will not be repeated?  If you didn’t think it would happen before how on earth are you going to “know” it won’t be repeated?

Unacceptable to most peoples means your fired!  Interesting in this case, he tells me he KNOWS it won’t happen again yet he tells the board he has encouraged the Assistant to follow is path of sleeping on it before saying something he would regret.

Well, I think the Assistant State’s Attorney has definitely stepped off in it with his email to the board and rest assured, I’m confident he will not forget this event for some time!

Unprofessional comments and sexual innuendos are in bold for clarity.

————————————————————-

From Mr. Dunn to the county board of Dewitt County

Subject: Last Night

I would like all of you to know that despite last night’s circus my door is still open to all of you. What was handed out last night was something I’d expect from a freshman poli sci major. It was legal Slop. It took me a grand total of about 15 minutes to find the law clearly stating this action is not possible under Illinois law in the way it has been presented (implies there is a way but just wasn’t presented properly).

If any of you had come to me and asked about this beforehand I would have been able to give an answer on this issue quickly and save you embarrassment. Most things require several hours, if not days of reading to ensure I have the full picture before I present you with information. This was not one of those instances. Next time a group of you gets together at Hardeez to discuss and rehearse something like this I’d appreciate an invite. I really like the frisco burger.

Many of you don’t like Karle. I get that. Trouble is, every time something like this happens you wind up pulling him closer. You can deal with him or you can deal with me. I’d prefer it if you left him alone so my almost complete autonomy in these civil matters becomes entire, and I don’t even have to bother stopping by his office to let him know what I’m doing on his behalf. Let him go after the felons and delegate the civil matters to me. Life will be easier on all of us. I see the next tactic being cutting funding for his office.

Comically, this will only result in him being the person you have to deal with.Don’t tease the gorilla in the monkey house. We’re all stuck with each other. As far as this “attorney” you have, I hope you have him on a contingent basis and don’t have to pay unless he is successful. Anyone that didn’t sleep through law school knows that the legislature writes the laws, and the court interprets them. If my job was as easy as getting on the internet and reading some articles on Wikipedia I wouldn’t have went through school and passed the bar exam. There are exceptions, exceptions to exceptions, and sometimes exceptions to the exceptions to the exceptions.

This is why I don’t give answers off the top of my head. As far as the ethical materials passed out, they are stuffed with nasty little exceptions and interpretations based upon specific instances. In Illinois, attorneys have to pass an ethics test called the MPRE, and most law schools require an ethics class. There is a reason for this. What is written in the rules of professional conduct, as with the state statutes, is only part of the story.

This will not be a close case. This is what we call a slam dunk. When your “attorney” shows up to argue this he will feel like a kid in the back seat of a car after prom. It will be awkward for him or her, painful, over quickly, and he/she will not end up getting the result that was hoped for.

If you would like to send this “attorney” to me, I’d be happy to give him a class on how to conduct legal research. At only 30 dollars an hour, my offer is a steal compared to what universities charge per credit hour. It includes basic theory, use of Westlaw, ilga.gov, and other services. I don’t know if one of you has incriminating material on the others. That is the only way I can comprehend six of you following each other like lemmings. If there are pictures of any of you with strippers or something worse let me know, and we’ll discuss your options. If you want to play local government Game of Thrones, that’s fine. Just let me help you do it right. We’re getting calls from other attorneys laughing about this.

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Well, while Mr. Dunn is getting calls from other attorneys laughing about this I can say we are getting calls from the public, who pay his salary and they are not laughing.  They believe the State’s Attorney’s statement to me is spot on.

Such behavior is unacceptable, yet from all indications the State’s Attorney isn’t a man of his word. If he was, unacceptable would be just that.

So what started this little hornets nest swarming?  A vote of no confidence from the County Board as it relates to their legal representation.  My hats off to the county board for having the courage to stand up to these folks and recognize a problem and trying to fix it.  Sadly, I don’t think there is a fix other than voting them out, unless they can convince the Chief Judge to appoint a special prosecutor and I don’t see that happening.

Stay tuned for more updates on this one as the leads of troubled spots in Dewitt are rolling in!