RIDES Mass Transit v. Edgar County – Our Opinion…

PARIS, IL. (ECWd) –

Rides Mass Transit District (“RIDES-MTD“)filed its amended complaint a couple of weeks ago in their lawsuit alleging Edgar County owes them over $152,000 – which was the remaining funds after all debts were paid from the allegedly dissolved East Central Illinois mass Transit District (“ECIMTD”).

In their amended complaint, RIDES-MTD relies on the “Downstate Public Transportation Act” [30 ILCS 740] for the county’s authority to gift its public funds to RIDES-MTD.

Our Short Version Opinion:

  • RIDES-MTD claims they spent over $635,000 purchasing a building in Paris – failing to mention the State of Illinois gave them the grant for that purchase
  • The Downstate Public Transportation Act is only meant for the State to provide funds for downstate mass transportation
  • A county can only spend money FROM other public bodies – not provide funds TO them under the paragraph cited
  • An illegal contract (a county has no authority to give funds to any mass transit) cannot be breached
  • Any written agreement must be to assist the COUNTY in providing mass transportation services – not for a stand-alone Mass Transit District to provide its own services

Longer Version below:

COUNT 1:

We will start by looking at the purpose of the DPTA as stated in its opening Section, which only concerns State funds – not local funds:

The General Assembly finds:

(c) that State financial assistance for the development of efficient and coordinated mass transportation systems is essential to the solution of these urban problems.

and

The purposes of this Act are: (b) to provide assistance to participants in financing such systems as provided in Section 7 of Article XIII of the Constitution.

We read this to mean what the Legislature wrote in the DPTA, which is that “STATE” financial assistance is needed and would be provided according to Article XIII Section 7 of the Illinois Constitution of 1970.

ARTICLE XIII. SECTION 7.

Public transportation is an essential public purpose for
which public funds may be expended. The General Assembly by
law may provide for, aid, and assist public transportation,
including the granting of public funds or credit to any
corporation or public authority authorized to provide public
transportation within the State.

We read this to mean that the General Assembly will provide for public funds and credit to corporations or public authorities to provide public transportation.

So, State financial assistance is needed and will be provided according to the constitution – meaning the State will provide the funds.

Next, RIDES-MTD looks towards Section 2-17(b) of the DPTA and relies on it for the county’s authority to give those funds to RIDES-MTD.

However, that particular Section only states that a county can apply for, accept, and expend grants, loans, and other funds FROM particular public entities – notice it never says a county can provide funds TO another public body.

(b) Any county may apply for, accept and expend grants, loans or other funds from the State of Illinois or any department or agency thereof, from any unit of local government, from the federal government or any department or agency thereof, or from any other person or entity, for use in connection with any public transportation provided pursuant to this Section.

Where does it say a county can award grants, loans, or any other public funds TO another public body?

It is a little more complicated when the entirety of Section 2-17 is taken as a whole, first is the title of the Section lacks any reference to giving any funds to another public body – it only grants a county the authority to provide for public transportation and to apply for grants:

Sec. 2-17. County authorization to provide public transportation and to apply for grants in connection therewith.

It goes on to give a county the authority to “enter into an agreement” with public entities such as RIDES-MTD, but only under certain conditions (all three of these mandated conditions are missing in this RIDES-MTD v. Edgar County situation).

  • that an agreement be entered into to assist the county in providing public transportation services (no agreement exists)
  • that once the agreement is executed, the “operator” shall file 3 certified copies with the Illinois Commerce Commission (did not happen)
  • that the Illinois Commerce Commission enter an order directing the “operator” to comply with Sections 55a and 55b of the Public Utilities Act (did not happen)

(a) Any county or counties may, by ordinance, operate or otherwise provide for public transportation within such county or counties. In order to so provide for such public transportation, any county or counties may enter into agreements with any individual, corporation or other person or private or public entity to operate or otherwise assist in the provision of such public transportation services. Upon the execution of an agreement for the operation of such public transportation, the operator shall file 3 copies of such agreement certified by the clerk of the county executing the same with the Illinois Commerce Commission. Thereafter the Illinois Commerce Commission shall enter an order directing compliance by the operator with the provisions of Sections 55a and 55b of “An Act concerning public utilities”, approved June 28, 1921, as amended. 

Finally, RIDES-MTD claims they spent $635,000 in purchasing a building in Paris – while at the same time failing to acknowledge the State provided most, if not all, of those funds thru a Grant that was initially granted to ECIMTD, but placed on hold while they attempted to dissolve, and then transferred the grant to RIDES-MTD

COUNT 2:

This Count complains of breach of unilateral contract.

  • cannot have a contract in violation of county’s authority to enter into
  • cannot give county public funds to RIDES-MTD
  • County does not have the authority to give these funds to RIDES-MTD

 
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RIDES Mass Transit District files amended complaint v. Edgar County –

PARIS, IL. (ECWd) –

A full eight days after the cut-off date to file an amended complaint, RIDES-MTD filed one in Edgar County Circuit Court.

This amended complaint consists of the following:

  • claim of “promissory estoppel”
  • claim of “breach of unilateral contract”

The lawsuit stems from the deposition of funds left over after dissolution of the East Central Illinois Mass Transit District in 2013.

We will provide our opinion on this in a future article.

Download (PDF, 1.09MB)


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Edgar County 911 violates the law once again – agreement with Sheriff declared invalid

Edgar Co. (ECWd) –

The Edgar County Watchdogs thanks Edgar County 911 Director Nannette Crippes, as she is one of the primary reasons this organization started back in 2011.  Once again she proves we can count on her for continued violations of the Freedom of Information Act as the designated FOIA officer for our 911 Board.  Sadly, even after 5+ years of exposure of wrongdoing, those who she answers to, the 911 Board, have done nothing to correct the failures of their only employee.

“For the reasons stated below, the Public Access Bureau concludes that the response by the Edgar County Emergency Telephone System Board (Board) to Mr. Kirk Allen’s September 30, 2016, request Violated the requirements of FOIA.”

I sought records pertaining to certain communications related to a potential domestic battery case involving a relative to the dispatcher, an Edgar County Corrections Officers.  That corrections officer has since been charged and we wrote about it in this article.  Proof that our request was in fact tied to a public interest as it is no secret this county has a very problematic history when it comes to corrections officers.

Director Crippes denied this Freedom of Information Request for those records, to include pointing out she deserves a vacation as a justification for not complying as outlined by law.

“I am entitled to vacation days per my contract and we do the best we can with this situation.”  (See PAC further review document)

Her response confirms yet another failure. This one of the 911 Board who has appointed this failure as the FOIA officer and provided a stipend of $1,500.00 a year, all while not ensuring a backup is in place to ensure compliance with the law. Using multiple PAC opinions as confirmation of the FOIA officers failure to comply, we can only wonder why they continue to provide additional pay to this person, let alone keep her under their employ.

More importantly, the current AG PAC ruling has exposed an orchestrated plan to avoid the release of public records by Sheriff Wood and Director Crippes.  A plan that was put in place after a prior violation confirmed by the AG PAC office in 2013.  This plan was put in play the first day her cousin took office as Sheriff.  You can see that document here.    How interesting to find the 2013 failures of compliance match almost perfectly to yesterday’s ruling, which points to a total disregard for the direction provided by the Attorney Generals PAC office. 

Of special interest to this recent rulings is the fact the PAC declared that such an agreement is not valid, as in the agreement Director Crippes entered into with her cousin, the Edgar County Sheriff.

“A public body cannot create laws to avoid disclosing public records to the public or otherwise absolve their obligation to comply with the requirements of FOIA.”

“A public entity cannot enter into enforceable promises of confidentiality regarding public records”

“The confidentiality clause contained in this agreement is void as against public policy to the extent that it conflicts with the text and purpose of the Open Records Act. A public entity may not enter into enforceable promises of confidentiality regarding public records”.

“Thus, the December 1, 2014, agreement between the Board and the Sheriffs Department does not supersede the disclosure requirements of FOIA. Because the Board’s efforts to locate records did not include searching for recordings in its possession of the Sheriff’s Department’s phone lines and radio channel, this office concludes that the Board violated FOIA by failing to conduct an adequate search for the records Mr. Allen requested.”

“In accordance with the conclusion expressed above, this office requests that the Boards search for and disclose to Mr. Allen copies of any non-exempt responsive records maintained on the shared recorder.”

What we have here, based on the history of prior FOIA violations, is a willful disregard for the direction provided from the AG PAC office over the years and a disregard for the rule of law.  We now await the records requested almost 6 months ago. The PAC opinion can be viewed/downloaded below.

None of this is surprising to the residents of Edgar County who have seen their public officials operate outside the law and with immunity to the prosecution of the laws. Thus, Edgar County is the home and founding county of the “Edgar County Watchdogs”, now a nationally known organization that is helping people all over the state in the exposure of malfeasance by public officials. Thank you again Nanette Crippes.

Download (PDF, 212KB)

 

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The look into Edgar County Jail operations under former Sheriff Crippes

Edgar Co. (ECWd) –

We have been demanding public records from the Illinois State Police since 2012 regarding the two former Edgar County Corrections officers who were later convicted of felony crimes for their actions at the Edgar County Jail.  We exposed the malfeasance of Edgar County deputies involved in trying to white-wash these events in numerous articles found here.

We had been informed others were implicated in wrongdoing in the records we were seeking yet never charged.  In spite of the ISP ignoring the Attorney General’s demand for them to turn over the requested records (total of 6 recordings), we continued to demand the records be produced.

After multiple FOIA violations from the ISP over what has been years of seeking public records so that we can expose the truth to what happen under former Sheriff Crippes, the ISP now claims they only have ONE DVD regarding this case. We find that interesting, considering the officer in the DVD they did provide references another video in their possession, which was not turned over.

We will continue to fight for the recovery of those records as we believe they contain specific information about possible criminal acts by the former Sheriff, Tim Crippes.  We have been told by law enforcement close to this investigation that had Crippes won re-election the ISP was going to pursue Official Misconduct charges on him but since he lost the election that matter was not pursued.  Without those records, which they clearly do not want to release, we can not confirm what we have been told by very reliable internal sources.

Below are just a few clips from one of those numerous interviews of which these came from the only one the ISP will release.   One only need to listen to these clips to understand how bad things were in the Edgar County Sheriff’s office during former Sheriff Crippes’s terms in office.  We will release the entire video in future articles and rest assured, many of the problems exposed in this one video interview have filtered their way back into Edgar County under the current Sheriff, Jeff Wood.

Drugs in the cells?

Edgar County jail a joke – Illinois State Police – “Unfortunately, we are not investigating the county.”

Arrested for things they never did?

Just let me sleep on the job!

 

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Forbes continues shining the light on our work.

Edgar Co. (ECWd) –

Freelance Reporter Amanda Robert for Legal Newsline published her article on Forbes that shines the light on our work.  We appreciate her reporting on our work and hope that more people come to understand the importance of getting involved and holding local government accountable, to include exposing wrongdoing of local businesses doing work with those government agencies.

“One organization, the Edgar County Watchdogs, points to state officials and government entities that it says have failed to be truthful or transparent, but also to the media, which, the group believes, has failed to hold wrongdoers accountable.”

The full article can be viewed at this link.

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RIDES v. Edgar Co. – What really happened in the Courtroom –

CHARLESTON, IL. (ECWd) –

We will cover several issues in this article, starting with what was reported in the local paper:

Prairie Press (PP):. . . [Plaintiff’s attorney said] and the transfer was on track until the Edgar County Watchdogs claimed the money belonged to the county and cannot be transferred to RIDES. . .

TRANSCRIPT (page 15): “. . . all of a sudden it’s some time in 2015 counsel for RIDES received either a letter or an email saying that there might be some issues with appropriating those funds due to knowledge that was brought to them by a local watchdog group. . .”

ECWd:  While we appreciate being named, by name, but the fact is the attorney for RIDES did not mention us by name in the court records as was reported by the PP. Yes, we were the ones that brought it to the county board’s attention, however, contrary to the RIDES attorney’s insinuation, we did not bring the issue up in 2015, we brought it up during county board meetings in 2013, 2014, 2015, and 2016.

As a matter of fact, the Director of RIDES was at the meeting on June 17, 2013, when we brought the issue of disposition of the remaining funds to the county board (see approx. 2:45 in this video). We quoted the statute and where it directed the remaining funds to go – so RIDES knew all along we opposed this.

PP: “. . .the Judge said the county does have the authority to direct the transfer of money from one mass transit district to another.” – “”That can happen,” said Glenn. . .”

TRANSCRIPT (pages 20 and 21):  the above language reported by the PP is not what is in the transcript. “In this court’s view, the county does have authority to adopt a resolution directing the county treasurer to transfer moneys from a dissolved mass transit district to a successor mass—mass transit district”.  Additional qualifying language from the court was conveniently left out of the PP reporting, like “There does have to be a legitimate purpose for exercising that authority but I do find that it is, AND BASED ON THE AUTHORITY THAT’S BEEN SUBMITTED, within the county’s power to do so. . .”

ECWd:  (we will have to agree to disagree with his statement) Judge Glenn qualified his statement by stating it could be done “based on the authority that’s been submitted” – meaning based on the papers in front of him at the time. He also said “that can happen“, but qualified it with “but for proper purpose” – which he later stated was never in the complaint or the resolution.  In granting Edgar County’s motion to dismiss, Judge Glenn said RIDES did not sufficiently set forth the offer, acceptance, and consideration. The county’s resolution was not an offer. The Plaintiff’s resolution was not the acceptance of an offer. Based on the circumstances, there is an inadequate showing of consideration (a requirement for a contract under the Intergovernmental Cooperation Act Section 5).

Use of qualifying language drastically changes the meaning of the words, and in this case, drastically changes the perception of readers as to whether or not the county should keep the remaining funds or give them to RIDES. We stand by our first opinion stated in 2013.

ECWd’s opinion on the remainder of the complaint:

Another issue:  RIDES’ reliance on the Downstate Public Transportation Act as giving them the authority to receive money from local governments. Read the Act, it is a short one, and it will become clear to the reader that the Act does not apply to this situation.

  • Section 4-1.7 does not include “county” as a participant.
  • Section 4-1.6 makes it clear this section refers to “UMTA Section 9” grant funds
  • RIDES cited Section 2-15(b) – which according to their text should have been labeled 2-17
  • Section 2-17(a) and (b) only applies to “a County or Counties” that provide public transportation in such county or counties. Another requirement is to file 3 copies of any public transportation agreement with County Clerk and the Illinois Commerce Commission and must thereafter comply with “An Act concerning public utilities”.  The language RIDES points to only applies to counties who operate their own public transportation and have complied with the Illinois Commerce Commission rules found in Section 2-17(a). Edgar County and Clark County do not operate their own public transportation. (RIDES operates it under their Mass Transit District)

RIDES cites Section 4 of the Intergovernmental Cooperation Act –

  • Section 4 only applies to administrative joint boards or other legal or administrative entity created to operate the joint or cooperative undertaking – something RIDES does not meet the definition of since it is its own “unit of local government”. This section was clearly meant for entities like the Illinois Municipal Electric Agency (IMEA) which is truly a “joint or cooperative” board – or more local to Edgar County, the Paris Cooperative High School, another truly “joint or cooperative” board.

RIDES says Section 5 of the Intergovernmental Cooperation Act gives the county the authority (IT DOES NOT):

  • A requirement of using Section 5 as authority include the mandated provision that any contract shall set forth fully the purposes, powers, rights, objectives, and responsibilities of the contracting parties”.
  • Edgar County Ordinance and Resolution do not meet these requirements as pointed out by the Judge.
  • The Edgar Resolution states that it is effective when such resolution and ordinance is approved by 2/3 vote of RIDES Board.
  • RIDES never passed any resolution related to receipt of funds or related to any agreement or contract with Edgar or Clark Counties, they only passed a resolution “annexing” Edgar County and one “annexing” Clark County.
  • RIDES could not legally annex Edgar County because Clark County never passed an Ordinance dissolving East Central Illinois Mass Transit District, leaving Edgar County legally not contiguous with RIDES. Annexing into a Mass Transit District requires the county be contiguous with the District.

Section 9 of the ICA tells how Counties can contract and participate in intergovernmental agreements. The Resolution was not a contract or intergovernmental agreement, and even if it was, the Resolution did not comply with Section 9 because RIDES did not have the authority to perform the action since Clark County never officially passed an ordinance to dissolve ECIMTD.

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Call to Action – Can you identify this deputy sheriff?

Edgar Co. (ECWd) –

We received a link to this video several months ago but have been unable to confirm the name of the Deputy Sheriff “knocking” on the door.

We were told that this deputy did not have a warrant.  We are trying to confirm the name of the officer so that we can further determine if an appropriate warrant was ever issued.

 

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Edgar County, Edgar County Sheriff, and yes, Dee Burgin being sued once again!

Edgar Co. (ECWd) –

Once again we see Edgar County Sheriff’s Deputy Dee Burgin being named in yet another civil rights police abuse case.  Also named in the suit is the County of Edgar and the Edgar County Sheriff.

How many more lawsuits must this county face that involves Dee Burgin before someone removes his badge once and for all?  Only in Illinois can a deputy violated a person’s civil rights and keep his badge and a gun.  Now, once again, the taxpayers pay the price for the actions of this loose canon.

This case makes two current civil rights cases in a 4-month span (August 24th, 2016 – December 22, 2016) that name Burgin as the primary problem.

Download (PDF, 62KB)

 

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RIDES Mass Transit Lawsuit v. Edgar County Dismissed, Both Counts Stricken –

EDGAR CO., IL. (ECWd) –

During the hearing on January 11, 2017, the Court heard arguments from both RIDES Mass Transit District and Edgar County on Edgar County’s Motion to Dismiss the lawsuit brought by RIDES-MTD.

Judge Glenn heard the Motions and arguments, denied Edgar County’s Motion to Dismiss under Section 2-619, but GRANTED its Motion To Dismiss under Section 2-615. Both Counts were stricken and RIDES was given 21 days to file an Amended Complaint should they see fit.

From the case history in Judici:  “Mr. Hunn present for Pltf. Mr. Brokaw present for Deft. Cause called to hearing on Deft’s Motion to Dismiss. Said motion is denied as to Section 2-619, but allowed as to Section 2-615. Both counts of the Complaint are stricken. Pltf given leave to file Amended Complaint within 21 days. Deft may file responsive pleadings within 30 days thereafter.”

This lawsuit was brought after a nearly 4-year back-and-forth between RIDES-MTD and Edgar County on the legal disposition of funds and equipment left after all debts were paid following the dissolution of the East Central Illinois Mass Transit District – essentially dissolved due to massive mismanagement and alleged theft of public funds. Something no one has been officially charged with yet.

During the failed tenure of former Edgar County Board Chairman Chris Patrick’s short term in office, RIDES was allegedly told they would receive all the left over funds from the dissolution of ECIMTD – and we (ECWd) objected, continuing to bring the issue to the forefront for years (since early 2013), noting that the county did not have the legal authority to hand over the cash to RIDES, but it instead had to go to the county general fund for the use of the county.

RIDES filed suit agaisnt Edgar County for the $152,150.49 last December – this was their first hearing on the suit.

The final disposition of this lawsuit could have a positive impact for Clark County to the tune of over $60,000 they have yet to receive as their portion of the proceeds from the dissolution of ECIMTD. Additionally, there are still the outstanding issues of the real estate improperly “sold” by ECIMTD and the two transit busses improperly “leased” to RIDES from Edgar County.

Our previous article on this situation are here: http://edgarcountywatchdogs.com/index.php?s=RIDES

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Edgar County Zoning Commission Recommends County Pass Zoning Ordinance –

PARIS, IL. (ECWd) –

At a meeting held December 19, 2016, the Edgar County Airport Zoning Commission voted to recommend an Airport Zoning Ordinance to the Edgar County Board for their approval.

This, despite opposition from nearly every person attending the meeting, and a promise from the first zoning hearing that they would schedule another hearing after the draft ordinance was published. They did publish the draft ordinance, but never had another hearing.

The county’s need for zoning was brought to light when it was finally revealed that Edgar County had no zoning for its airport, and consequently could not receive any further federal or state funding for projects at the airport. Robert Bogue did his civic duty (as any good citizen should do) and filed a complaint with the FAA and IDOT, who did additional research and came to the same conclusion we did – that Edgar County was required to have zoning before receiving any more state or federal funds, due to potential violations of grant assurance for their past projects.

State and Federal law require their investments be protected and zoning is required according to grant assurances and state law.

If the county board approves this zoning ordinance, it will finally bring Edgar County in compliance with past grant assurance requirements, in compliance with the legal requirement to obtain funding, and will enable them to receive funding thru state and federal grants.

This Ordinance requires landowners within a certain radius of the airport to seek approval from Illinois Department of Transportation – Division of Aeronautics prior to making changes in building, land use, water use, producing smoke, and setting off fireworks, just to name a few of the required pre-authorizations.

The immediate project, which the board has been trying to accomplish for the past three years, involve an apron extension, moving the fuel farm, and installing a credit card reader for pilots to purchase fuel even when the airport office is closed. The only “real” need is for the credit card reader.

Past attempts at obtaining this grant have been halted by Illinois Department of Transportation – Division of Aeronautics, and the Federal Aviation Administration when they were informed of the alleged grant application fraud when the past airport manager, Jimmy Wells, assisted the Hanson Engineering firm in falsifying documents to somehow qualify for the grants.
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Jeff Voigt Elected Chairman of Edgar County Board for another term –

PARIS, IL. (ECWd) –

The Edgar County Board held its organizational meeting this morning and elected Jeff Voigt as chairman for another two years.

Mr. Luddington and Mr. Chittick are the two newly elected county board members who were sworn in prior to this meeting.

Karl Farnham Jr. was elected as vice-chairman.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3DDYa54cpDU

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Edgar County Publishes Draft Airport Zoning Ordinance –

EDGAR CO., IL. (ECWd) –

Earlier this week the Edgar County Board published a draft Airport Zoning Ordinance – which has yet to be recommended by the Airport Zoning Commission – who had promised at the previous hearing to have another public hearing to receive input on this proposal.

This draft Zoning Ordinance requires:

  • PERMIT REQUIRED (from IDOT-Division of Aeronautics) for any use, construction, alteration, change in use of properties within the airport hazard zone. This includes (but is not limited to) using kites, balloons, shooting fireworks, planting vegetation, any smoke/light/reflection. Permit not required for structure, accumulation, or vegetation below 200′ – but fails to say the same for kites, balloons, fireworks, lights, etc.
  • Face a penalty of $1,000 per day, for each violation of this Ordinance
  • Other restrictions found here.

It references a letter dated June 25, 2007, but does not include a copy for anyone else to read —-> read our copy (click here).

It fails to state which State or Federal Statute/Law/Regulation  a citizen should reference when seeking information about this Ordinance.

We are assuming the Administration Code referenced is this one: ftp://www.ilga.gov/JCAR/AdminCode/092/09200016sections.html

Draft Ordinance is below:

Download (PDF, 33KB)




Edgar County Board: Taxes Don’t Come From Taxpayers-

EDGAR CO., IL. (ECWd) –

Great News!

From today’s County Board meeting: Edgar County Board has confirmed that taxes paid via the Hotel/Motel Tax don’t come from taxpayers and are not taxpayer funds.

Yes, they actually said that.

Yes, they are wrong.

However, taxpayer funds from the Hotel/Motel Fund were properly expended according to the purpose of the tax (that taxpayers paid).

https://youtu.be/gwzZXCDxtkE

Board member Farnham reported that the Sheriff went over budget on overtime this past fiscal year. He was budgeted for $70,000 worth of overtime, but actually spent $145,000 in overtime. More than twice the budgeted amount.

https://youtu.be/JT9e5X_BFWk

 

 

 




BGA: Illinois FOIA Appeals Linger With No End In Sight

SPRINGFIELD, IL. (ECWd) –

The Better Government Association (BGA) wrote an article spotlighting the Freedom Of Information Act and the Attorney General’s role in assuring compliance with the act.

One issue they highlight is our difficulty in obtaining information from the Illinois State Police in reference to the two Edgar County Corrections Officers who were tried and convicted of having sex with inmates.

BGA Article:  Illinois FOIA Appeals Linger With No End In Sight

 

 




Federal Grand Jury Convened regarding East Central Illinois Mass Transit District

Edgar Co. (ECWd) –

We now have confirmation a Federal Grand Jury in Springfield is being presented key investigative documents related to alleged misappropriation of public funds by former employees of the East Central Illinois Mass Transit District.

A FOIA request made to Edgar County State’s Attorney Mark Isaf for “A copy of the investigation records provided by any law enforcement entity, state or federal, pertaining to the criminal investigation of alleged criminal activity by former East Central Mass Transit District employees who worked in the Paris, IL office of that public body.”

The response was most telling:

“Your request is denied for the following reasons: There are no documents responsive to your request.  The investigation was transferred to the Federal Bureau of Investigation due to forensic accounting expertise under the supervision of the United State’s Attorney’s Office in Springfield, IL, for presentation to a federal grand jury.”

So there you have it.  A Federal Criminal investigation is clearly still on-going regarding the misappropriations of funds by former employees of the East Central Illinois Mass Transit District.

 

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RIDES Mass Transit Responds To Edgar County’s Motion To Dismiss –

PARIS and HARRISBURG, IL. (ECWd) –

RIDES Mass Transit District (RIDES) has filed its answer to Edgar County’s Motion to Dismiss.

Here is our opinion on their argument(s);

RESOLUTION IS VOID AT ITS INCEPTION

The Edgar County Ordinance and Resolution never set forth the five requirements to form a contract under Section 5 of the Intergovernmental Cooperation Act

On page 3, RIDES looks to the Intergovernmental Cooperation Act claiming it gives the County the authority to enter contracts under Section 5 of the ICA, which at first glance appears to do that. However, this Ordinance was not a contract as defined under Section 5. Requirement of using Section 5 as authority include the mandated provision that any contract “shall set forth fully the purposes, powers, rights, objectives, and responsibilities of the contracting parties”.

The Edgar County Resolution/Ordinance 0413 (found in this article) fell short on those requirements as follows:

  • It only authorized dissolving ECIMTD stating that ECIMTD could no longer perform those services, and
  • Adequate services could be performed by a larger Mass Transit District, and
  • ECIMTD determined it should dissolve to provide Clark and Edgar Counties the opportunity to join a contiguous Mass Transit District.
  • Then it goes on to say that the ECIMD should wind up its affairs and distribute all remaining fund to the County Treasurers of Clark and Edgar Counties.

Later, in a Resolution, Edgar County purported to dissolve ECIMTD, that the county board annexed Edgar County into RIDES-MTD on July 1, 2013, and that all assets left from dissolution of ECIMTD be conveyed to RIDES as the County’s “contribution to RIDES

Then, RIDES passes two Resolutions in June of 2013, one annexing Clark County and one annexing Edgar County. More on that later…

RIDES DID NOT HAVE AUTHORITY TO PERFORM THE ACTION

CLARK COUNTY NEVER PASSED AN ORDINANCE DISSOLVING ECIMTD

EDGAR COUNTY COULD NOT BE ANNEXED INTO RIDES

In Section 9 of the Intergovernmental Cooperation Act, the legislature carved out special conditions for counties to participate in intergovernmental agreements. The main mandate is that a county can participate in the absence of specific authority, provided, that “the unit of local government contracting with the county has the authority to perform the action.” This appears to specifically and expressly prohibit any contracts or agreements where the unit of local government does not have authority to perform the action (see Section 3 of the ICA which limits cooperation in these instances).

RIDES did not have the authority to perform this action (and still doesn’t) because Clark County never voted and approved a Resolution or Ordinance dissolving the ECIMTD. See this article written in 2013. What Clark County did, instead, was what we initially stopped Edgar County from doing, which is why Edgar County re-wrote their dissolution Ordinance.

Without Clark County voting to dissolve the ECIMTD, neither Clark nor Edgar Counties could be annexed by RIDES according to law. The District must be contiguous to the county being annexed, and with Clark County not properly annexed, Edgar County is prohibited from annexing due to it not being contiguous with the District.

RIDES claims that citing Section 9(b) of the Local Mass Transit District Act make Edgar County’s claim invalid. However, Section 9(a) is what Edgar County should have used, which actually put further limits on where the remaining funds are distributed. The Resolution should still be held void.

DOWNSTATE PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION ACT DOES NOT APPLY

Finally, RIDES relies on the Downstate Public Transportation Act, 30 ILCS 740, for the authority for Edgar County to give these funds to RIDES. RIDES Cites Section 2-15(b), which is wrong…the language they are using is found in Section 2-17(b) and applies only to “a County or Counties” that provide public transportation in such county or counties. Another requirement is to file 3 copies of any public transportation agreement with County Clerk and the Illinois Commerce Commission and must thereafter comply with “An Act concerning public utilities”.  The language RIDES points to only applies to counties who operate their own public transportation and have complied with the Illinois Commerce Commission rules found in Section 2-17(a). Edgar County and Clark County do not operate their own public transportation.

RIDES also cites Section 1005 of the Counties Code, 55 ILCS 5/5-1005(3):

3. To make all contracts and do all other acts in relation to the property and concerns of the county necessary to the exercise of its corporate powers.

This Section does not authorize the County to give these funds to RIDES.

SECTION 4 OF THE INTERGOVERNMENTAL COOPERATION ACT DOES NOT APPLY.

RIDES cites Section 4 of the Intergovernmental Cooperation Act, failing to understand that Section 4 only applies to “administrative joint boards” or other legal or administrative entity created to “operate the joint or cooperative undertaking” – something RIDES does not meet the definition of since it is its own “unit of local government”. This section was clearly meant for entities like the Illinois Municipal Electric Agency (IMEA) which is truly a “joint or cooperative” board – or more local, the Paris Cooperative High School, another truly “joint or cooperative” board.

Mandamus cannot mandate an act in violation of law.

RIDES repeatedly asserts that both Edgar County and RIDES “falls under” the above referenced Acts. We agree. However, “falling under” those Acts means they must comply with the provisions spelled out in those Act. Giving these funds to RIDES is not allowed under any of the above Acts.




Video: WAND’s Doug Wolfe Reports On Citizen Watchdogs –

DECATUR, IL. (ECWd) –

WAND  I-TEAM Reporter, Doug Wolfe:

“As newspapers struggle to survive many no longer keep an eye on tax dollars and government corruption. Citizen watchdog groups, like the Edgar County Watchdogs, fill the void.”

Reporter: Doug Wolfe Aired: November 3, 2016. WAND TV – NBC

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UeKTUtwLKx0&feature=youtu.be

The WAND noon news report for 11-4-2016 is located (here).




Illinois State Police Report On Edgar County Airport Fire Bombing – Chris Patrick, Jimmy Wells, Brian Phillips Refuse Polygraph –

PARIS, IL. (ECWd) –

November will be three years since the fire-bombing of two aircraft at the Paris Airport, located just north of Paris, Illinois in Edgar County, and the Illinois State Police report of the crime is still lacking in much evidence.

Polygraphs:

Four people were asked to be interviewed using the polygraph detection of deception examination, and only one of those four were actually interviewed, with the other three refusing.

Robert Bogue, Chris Patrick, Jimmy Wells, and Brian Phillips (owner of fire-bombed planes) were all invited to polygraphs.

On January 21, 2015, Robert Bogue submitted to the examination. Illinois State Police Polygraph Examiner reported that through this examination there were “no significant responses indicative of deception” and that “the subject is telling the truth” on the questions asked (see pages 1 and 2 of the pdf below).

The questions asked were whether or not he set fire to the aircraft, the aircraft wings, the plastic bags of aluminum and ferric oxide, and did he help or plan with anyone to do those things. He answered “no” to all questions and the Examiner’s written report indicates he was “telling the truth“.

Chris Patrick, Jimmy Wells, and Brian Phillips – all three, according to State Police reports, refused to be examined with the polygraph detection of deception examination (AKA: lie detector)(see page 16 of the below report).

Download (PDF, 1.74MB)

This is a multi-part article on the Illinois State Police Report, check back for further information.

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Edgar County Sheriff Department conveniently missing video footage of incident –

EDGAR CO., IL. (ECWd) –

We recently reported on a lawsuit (here) where an individual claims he was wrongly arrested and the handcuffs were placed on his wrists too tight, causing injuries.

After receiving what is purported to be all the video from the incident, it is evident the deputy did not keep the camera rolling … or the Sheriff’s Department did not provide all of the video we requested under the Freedom Of Information Act.

What good are cameras if they can be turned off or do not record the entire incident?

Virtually useless videos provided to us:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R2gxqYOI4kE

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TGFqFBj9UDQ

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RRWeUi4vs7A

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Link to the radio traffic audio files provided – which has none of the interaction between the deputy and the alleged victim.

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Stacey Hawkins Pleads Not Guilty – Demands Jury Trial –

PARIS, IL. (ECWd) –

On October 18, 2016, Edgar County Corrections Officer, Stacey Hawkins, entered a plea of not guilty and demanded a jury trial.

She was charged with Domestic Battery and Aggravated Assault stemming from an incident on September 5th, where she allegedly made physical contact of an insulting or provoking nature, striking him in the face, and allegedly placed him in reasonable apprehension of receiving battery while she was armed with a deadly weapon, a splitting maul.

Both would be Class A Misdemeanors if found guilty.

Incidentally, she has yet to be “arrested” or ordered to post any bail or released without any bail at all. We have found no evidence of an arrest warrant issued in this case.

Public records here:

Follow this case on Judici (here).
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UPDATE: Edgar County Corrections Officer Stacey Hawkins Domestic Battery & Aggravated Assault With Splitting Maul Charges –

PARIS, IL. (ECWd) –

The Edgar County State’s Attorney filed an updated complaint with the Circuit Court on October 13, 2016.

Original article (here). In the updated complaint, the name of the alleged victim in Count II was changed from Sherry Ricketts to Harold Davies. No further mention of Ricketts in the complaint.

Additionally, the Edgar County Sherriff’s Office has confirmed that Corrections Officer Stacey Hawkins was placed on administrative leave.

They also confirmed she has not been arrested yet and there are no mugshots or intake forms.

Which makes me wonder if other people who allegedly commit Domestic Battery and Aggravated Assault are afforded this same non-confrontational treatment, of if they would have been arrested, had mugshots taken, and had to post bail.

It would also be nice to know if all of her guns were seized/prohibited from owning guns like the rest of the “ordinary” people would have had done to them…have they seized her FOID/Concealed Carry Card (if she had one) and notified the Illinois State Police of the pending charges?

The amended filing also has the correct County Clerk information, unlike the previous filing.

Download (PDF, 30KB)

Reminder: “All defendants are innocent unless and until proven guilty in a court of law.”
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Edgar County’s 2013 Airport Firebombing Investigation Hampered By 2008 Chrisman Double Murder Investigation?

EDGAR CO., IL. (ECWd) –

Failure to pay bills. Amazing real-life state of affairs of the Illinois State Government has hampered criminal investigations.

In Edgar County, it is the investigation of the 2013 firebombing of two airplanes while they sat outside a hangar at the airport located just north of Paris, Illinois.

According to sources within a state agency, one issue that could have shed light on those responsible for the double-airplane firebombing would have been access to Verizon cell phone tower data – which could not be had due to Illinois’ failure to pay their Verizon bill incurred thru the investigation of the 2008 double-murder in Chrisman. Additionally, Verizon only kept their text messages for 5 days, and other call data for 1 year, and asking for the information would have cost more money that “they” were not willing to spend.

Of course, that was only one issue with the firebombing investigation, there were other attempts at investigating, but those also failed, with one exception which will be in a later article when we post the entire investigative file.

For this issue, the State’s failure to pay the Verizon bill, it’s hard to believe they can simply ignore potential evidence because they didn’t pay a bill or didn’t want to spend the money to obtain the evidence in a timely manner.

 

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Edgar County Corrections Officer Charged – Domestic Battery & Aggravated Assault With Maul Splitter –

Edgar Co. (ECWd) –

I received a tip shortly after labor day of a domestic violence call that involved an Edgar County Corrections Officer and her sister, a dispatcher for Edgar County 911.  I was told the matter was being swept under the rug and the tipster wanted our help to ensure this did not happen.

I filed this Freedom of Information request on September 27th, 2016, with the Edgar County Sheriff.  The Sheriff’s office violated FOIA and has yet to comply with the requested 911 call and other records, nor have they provided a proper denial of the request under the law.

A duplicate request was made with Edgar County 911 Director Nanette Crippes, which also has not been responded to in compliance with the law, and is now overdue.

Once again, two public bodies in Edgar County are violating FOIA but the real story may point to the good-ol-boy system in action once again.  A system that tends to protect and ignore wrong doing when it comes out of the Sheriff’s office.

We will never know, and they will never admit if our FOIA had any influence on the matter being pursued but we have now confirmed charges have been filed against Edgar County Corrections Officer Stacey Hawkins as follows.

Count 1 – Domestic Battery – In that the said defendant knowingly made physical contact of an insulting or provoking nature with Harold Davies, a family or household member of said defendant, in that she struck Harold Davies in the face. In violation of 720 ILCS 5/12-3.2(a) (2) Class A Misdemeanor

maul-splitter

File photo: Maul Splitter

Count II -AGGRAVATED ASSAULT – In that the said defendant in committing an assault, in violation of Section 12-1 (1) of Act 5 of Chapter 720 of the Illinois Compiled Statutes, and armed with a deadly weapon, a maul splitter, placed Sherry Ricketts in reasonable apprehension of receiving a battery.  In violation of 720 ILCS 5/12-2 (a) (1) Class A Misdemeanor

Ironically, I confronted Sheriff Wood about the tip I received and the situation and he assured me the matter has been taken care of.  I asked what has been done and he told me it was under investigation?  I failed to understand how something that is taken care of is actually taken care of when it is under investigation?  Shortly after that discussion, I received a text informing me of the above charges being filed however I found it very strange that the Sheriff made no mention of the charges being filed during our discussion.

What has yet to be exposed is what role the dispatcher played in this call involving her sister.  It was reported to us that she had communications with her sister after the sheriff’s deputy was dispatched and tipped her off that the deputy was on the way.  It may be that matter that is still under investigation.

Another problem identified from the filing of these charges is the boilerplate document used reflects the former Circuit Clerk as the one swearing to the filing of the charges when in fact it is signed by someone else.  Contact with authorities has ensured us corrective steps are being taken to correct that issue.

We have requested the full charge sheet and mug shots from the Sheriff’s office and will update upon receipt.

Photo of Stacey Hawkins from Stacey Hawkins’ facebook page.

Download (PDF, 44KB)

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Edgar County Deputy Dee Burgin & Sheriff Jeff Wood Defending Federal Lawsuit –

Edgar Co. (ECWd) –

Once again we see Dee Burgin’s name in a Federal Court docket for alleged violations of a person’s civil rights.  With that, it also brings into it the Sheriff and the County.

“Plaintiff, ROBERT FULLERTON, by and through his attorney, brings this action against Defendants, DEE BURGIN, individually, JEFF D. WOOD, in his official capacity as Sheriff of Edgar County and the COUNTY OF EDGAR seeking to recover damages for violation of his Constitutional Rights and for Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress, Battery and Negligence in the Alternative.”

In a seven-count complaint filed on August 24, 2016, in the United States District Court for the Central District of Illinois, Fullerton alleges False Arrest, Excessive Force, Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress, Battery, and Negligence against Burgin, names Sheriff Jeff Wood since he employs Burgin, and names Edgar County since they are obligated to pay any judgments entered.

According to the Complaint, this stems from an incident on July 18, 2016 where Fullerton’s son had been involved in a one-vehicle accident, with Fullerton and Burgin arriving on scene. Fullerton demanded a police report be written up so that his insurance company would pay the claim, Burgin refused. On continued insistence of a police report, Burgin handcuffed Fullerton and placed him into the Sheriff’s police vehicle. Fullerton claims injuries and that Burgin intentionally placed the handcuffs on too tight causing those injuries. Fullerton was able to dial 911 from his cell phone and asked for an additional officer to be dispatched. None arrived.

As the tips continue to stream in on this particular deputy, it’s no surprise to see this type of lawsuit brought forward.  For those not familiar with Deputy Dee Burgin and the financial burden he has been to this county you can review that information below.

We have requested copies from the Sheriff’s Department of any audio or video of the incident and will provide an update should we receive them.

You can view the actual court record below or download it.

Download (PDF, 174KB)

 




Edgar County Motions To Dismiss Lawsuit v. RIDES Mass Transit District –

PARIS, IL. (ECWd) –

A little over a month ago, RIDES Mass Transit District (“RIDES-MTD”) filed suit naming Edgar County Treasurer Don Wiseman as Defendant seeking the $152,000.00 + they believe should have been paid to them after the claimed dissolution of the East Central Illinois Mass Transit District (“ECIMTD”).

The lawsuit, here, is a two-count suit alleging “Breach of Contract” and seeking “Mandamus” (an order to force Treasurer Wiseman to write the check). In our article on this lawsuit, we covered both Counts and also wrote about Dillon’s Rule, the Counties Code, the Local Mass Transit District Act, and the fact that local governments cannot pass resolutions/ordinance which violate state law – as reasons the county could not pay those left-over funds to RIDES-MTD.

Edgar County filed its Motion to Dismiss on September 19, 2016, citing the following:

COUNT I

  • Only the Board can order the Treasurer to remit payment
  • Plaintiff failed to enjoin the Board in this suit
  • Resolution was adopted without statutory authority and is void on its face
  • Without statutory authority, the Resolution violates Dillon’s Rule and would be tantamount to a gift or grant of public funds not authorized by law and would amount to a breach of public trust

COUNT II

  • Mandamus cannot rely on a void Resolution, nor on an impermissible gift, which are illegal activities
  • Latches (waiting too long to file the lawsuit)

Edgar County also filed its Memorandum Of Law In Support Of Its Motion To Dismiss and makes for interesting reading. The County explained the need for statutory authority, the effect of Dillon’s Rule, Article VII Section 7 of the Constitution, Section 9 of the Local Mass Transit District Act, the Counties Code, how contracts cannot be made in violation of law, and how they all play a role in providing for a lack of authority to pay those funds to RIDES-MTD.

We first looked at this issue in early 2013, and again in June of 2013 where Kirk Allen’s civil rights were violated by being ejected from the county board meeting – just as he was discussing the RIDES-MTD/ECIMTD situation. The Edgar County Board passed a Resolution in June of 2013 basically saying it would give RIDES-MTD the left-over funds from ECIMTD after dissolution, and we have repeatedly talked to the board about that being a Resolution which violates state law.

On June 12, 2013, the vote on this Resolution was tabled and had to be re-worded to remove any reference to “merging” the two districts since state law doesn’t allow the merging of mass transit districts, but was later approved on June 17, 2013, with new language reflecting annexation, but still in violation of law.

On June 22, 2013, we warned this resolution was “trouble on the horizon” and would end up being a long, drawn-out thorn in the side of Edgar County, and it has been.

We wrote about IDOT’s Bureau Chief of Transit Operations letter asking the board to give those funds to RIDES-MTD, and noting the letter appears to instruct the county board to violate the law in relation to those funds.

In November of 2014, we were notified Edgar County had decided to keep the funds, as the law requires. Later RIDES-MTD would keep seeking those funds, threaten legal action, and take legal action.

On December 21, 2015, I spoke on this subject (with a correction from Kirk Allen) at a county board study session, going thru the process of dissolving, annexing, and disposing of all assets of the former district. Even mentioning each and every point made in this motion to dismiss, with the exception of the constitutional reference. Video of the December 21, 2015, meeting is here.

This is yet another case where the County Board and State’s Attorney are answering to a court instead of listening to us and researching what we point out before acting.

Download (PDF, 1.26MB)

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Edgar County Sheriff Department being sued…..again –

Edgar Co. (ECWd) –

Most in Edgar County know the history of the Edgar County Jail and its living conditions.  From the days of Karl Farnham being the Sheriff and being sued for its condition to today, the lawsuits continue.

According to the Federal Government, since 1994 there have been 14 Federally filed lawsuits against Edgar County and most of them tied to matters in the Sheriff’s office.  I suspect we would find this number to be off the charts high if compared to other counties in Illinois of similar size.  A quick review confirmed that suspicion.   Federal records reflect only three cases ever filed in Clark County with their first one in 1997.   Seven in Crawford County with their first one in 1991.  Does this small comparison point to failed leadership in Edgar County?  Leadership, or lack of, continues to cost the taxpayers each and every time a suit is filed for a jail that they all know is deplorable and continues to subject us to lawsuits.

How many in Edgar County knew that Sheriff Wood and others in the county were being sued once again?  I don’t recall the local paper ever covering that but may have missed their report.   This suit is on the jail conditions after a prisoner was injured stepping out of the shower.

Most should remember all former Sherif Motley tried to do to fix the jail condition problems, but unfortunately, the County Board did little to nothing in order to fund the fixes needed for this problem.

Ironically, this lawsuit names former Sheriff Motley even though he was not the Sheriff when the injury took place.  You can read the complaint filed below.

May we suggest the citizens start thinking about who they vote for in the future?  As in, vote for people that are going to fix this kind of problem so we can reduce the historic lawsuit volume that continues to cost us all.

Download (PDF, 415KB)

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Edgar County Airport Zoning Commission Postpones Recommendations (video) –

PARIS, IL. (ECWd) –

We received tips that the Edgar County Airport Zoning Commission did not provide a draft copy of the airport zoning policy they were proposing to pass in advance of the meeting.

Without the proposed ordinance being provided in advance, nobody knew which questions to ask or comments to make as there was no time to review what was provided at the hearing.

I provided public comment asking for another hearing after providing copies of the proposed ordinance, as did at least two others.

According to the posted agenda, the board had intended to approve their zoning ordinance recommendation for the county board to approve the ordinance at their next county board meeting, held 2 days after this hearing.

That would have prevented citizens from voicing their opinions in the proposed zoning ordinance. How can anyone ask intelligent questions without knowing what the board is actually wanting to approve?

The board agreed to call another hearing in the future – and give residents 15 days to research the proposed ordinance prior to the hearing.

According to an IDOT letter dated June 25, 2007, which “conditionally” approves the “Airport Layout Plan”, it specifically states “It should be noted that the FAA cannot prevent erection of any structure near an airport” (bottom of page 1) and that they can only be restricted thru State Zoning Regulations (which mandates local zoning) and/or local zoning ordinances. It appears the federal regulations referenced by the commission were adopted in 1974, prior to this letter.

This is contrary to what the zoning commission told citizens during the hearing – that county zoning would do nothing the FAA is not currently doing, which is false, since county zoning will restrict heights and prevent the erection of structures, according to law, that the FAA does not have the power to restrict/prevent.

At 2:47 and 6:40 in the below video, the commission references FAA “guidelines”, which according to IDOT, the FAA has no authority to restrict structures near airports.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UBFCNKbzqGU

This zoning issue for the Edgar County Airport is a result of several years of FAA and IDOT – Division of Aeronautics halting federal grants. The first was due to alleged grant fraud on the grant application presented to IDOT which has obvious false statements, including, more based aircraft than were actually based here, saying they only have a one thousand gallon fuel tank when they actually had a ten thousand gallon tank, and many other inconsistencies.

This most recent grant was pulled because state law requires a county to zone the land for airport purposes prior to any expansion of the airport – which Edgar County failed to do for their runway extension and cross-wind runway. The FAA and IDOT consider this a violation of grant assurances from previous grants and halted any new funding until the airport comes into compliance with state law.

Additionally, from the zoning commission’s previous meeting, it was stated by the local bird cage liner that IDOT said “more than half of county sponsored (owned) airports do not have zoning. This statement was proven to be false by the Edgar County Watchdogs who researched each and every county-owned airport and discovered, for a second time, that Edgar County was the only county-owned airport in Illinois who did not have zoning in place.
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Fact Checking / Responsible Reporting – County Airports and Zoning

PARIS, IL. (ECWd) –

On August 27, 2016, Gary Henry reported that Robert Howrey stated “IDOT estimates approximately half of the county-owned airports in Illinois are not zoned.” He also stated “IDOT was not willing to acknowledge de facto zoning existed because of FAA rules, which take precedence over local action because Bogue raised the question...”

We had previously reported on March 16, 2016, Edgar County had the only county-owned airport in Illinois where the airport did not have zoning in the county. The article was in response to County Board Member Heltsley’s inaccurate comment that “This not only affects us . . . many downstate airports are located in areas without zoning.”

After reading Henry’s article, a FOIA request was immediately fired off to IDOT Div of Aeronautics for two purposes; first, to see if the claim was accurate, and second, to correct our past article if IDOT’s information was correct. Turned out the claim was not correct and we did not have to correct our article.

First, to the second comment from Robert Howrey about the so-called “de facto zoning” – the statute requires Edgar County to enact zoning for airport purposes.:

No land may be used for the expansion of airport landing fields until it has been zoned for airport purposes by the county or municipality having the zoning power over such land, as the case may be.

That statutory language throws out any acknowledgment of any “de facto zoning” by IDOT. FAA rules apply for airport safety purposes. Federal grants even state that recipient must follow all federal and state law and rules. Edgar County failed to do that.

AIRPORTS WITHOUT ZONING ?

Received today from IDOT in response to a FOIA request – which was not the requested information (county airports without zoning was what was requested):

This letter is in response to your Illinois Freedom of Information Act (“FOIA”) request dated August 28, 2016, and received by the Illinois Department of Transportation on August 29, 2016. We conducted a search and found the following information responsive to your Request.   Below please find a list of county sponsored airports that the Department has identified via the National Plan of Integrated Airport Systems.   Please be advised, that pursuant to the 630 ILCS 40, The General County Airport and Landing Field Act, the zoning requirements of these airports fall under the jurisdiction of the individual counties.   Therefore, please direct any specific zoning inquires for each airport to the appropriate county. 

Scott AFB/Midamerica   
Effingham County Memorial
Marshall County
Logan County
Williamson County Regional
Coles County Memorial
Edgar County
Crawford Co
Shelby County
Vermilion County Regional Airport
Whiteside County-Jos H Bittorf Field

IDOT responded that the above 11 airports are county-owned (sponsored) airports and that the zoning requirements of 630 ILCS 40 fall under the jurisdiction of individual counties. I read that as an indication IDOT believed these 11 airports to be county-owned and fall under 630 ILCS 40.

  • Scott AFB/Midamerica, Coles County Regional, Crawford County, Williamson County Regional, and Vermilion County Regional Airport are all “Airport Authorities”, are not county owned (sponsored), and do not fall under 630 ILCS 40. They fall under the Airport Authorities Act, 70 ILCS 5
  • Whiteside County-Jos H Bittorf Field is a county-owned airport, has zoning, but falls under 630 ILCS 45, not -40
  • Shelby County Airport is owned by an Airport and Landing Commission and has zoning (click here)
  • Logan County Airport is a county-owned airport and has zoning (click here)
  • Marshall County is a county-owned airport, and has zoning (click here)
  • Effingham County Memorial Airport is a county-owned airport, is operated by an Airport Commission, but does not fall under 630 ILCS 40. Airports with Commissions are by definition Airport Authorities under the Airport Authorities Act, 70 ILCS 5

Finally, Gary Henry could have written an article that was factually correct by simply questioning Robert Howrey and/or IDOT Division of Aeronautics for clarification on how they came about stating that “approximately half of the county-owned airports in Illinois are not zoned.”

It is not true, and Edgar County is the ONLY Illinois Airport owned by a county falling under 630 ILCS 40 which does not have zoning.

The issue is whether or not Edgar County was unique among other airports, and they are unique being the only airport in its situation without zoning as we previously reported.

We don’t know if IDOT just stated something without checking it for accuracy, or if what they said was misunderstood by the receiver of the message. Either way, we have once again provided our readers with the correct information.

Another FOIA request has been sent to IDOT for further clarification on their response to the first FOIA – just in case we or they missed something important.
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Edgar County Judge Denies Retrial In Fred Cox Sex Assault Case –

PARIS, IL. (ECWd) –

The Court heard Motions for Retrial yesterday in the case of Fred Cox, who was convicted by a jury last December, but whose sentencing was delayed due to inclement weather this past February, and delayed further when DNA results became available. We wrote about this in this article and again in this one.

In the courtroom were family members from both sides, members of “Bikers Against Child Abuse”, and media.

There were two Motions for New Trial – the first one claimed the Court allowed testimony from a previous conviction when it shouldn’t have been allowed – this Court denied that motion. The second involved new evidence in the form of the DNA testing results. That motion was also denied.

State’s Attorney objected to the Motions stating they were time-barred due to being filed outside the 30 day window after verdict, Def Atty stated the clock doesn’t start until after the sentencing where the Judge affirmed the verdict and not when the Jury made its decision.

There were several lines of questioning different witnesses, one of which was the witness from the Illinois State Police Crime Lab, who testified about DNA Results and the difference between the words “indicated” and “identified”. If I recall correctly, “indicated” means there was (visual) evidence that the sample contained semen, but that it could have also been from another bodily fluid, and “identified” means that it was proven to be semen and not a different bodily fluid.

Defense argued this new DNA evidence could have changed the Jury’s decision, was in fact new evidence not available during trial, was only reported to them in February, and that they are not asking to overturn the Jury decision but rather asking for a new trial.

SA argued that this DNA was never demanded by Defense, they chose to go to trial without it, that there were four prongs to decisions on a new trial and this does not meet all four of them, and that defense has not met their burden as required in order to obtain a new trial.

Our question to both sides of this case, why on earth would you advance a sex crime case without DNA evidence when you know it’s coming?  How is justice served from either side of this matter when DNA results are not part of the trial when it appears both sides knew it was available?

The Court denied both Motions For New Trial, first because the testimony from prior conviction was allowed during trial, and that the new evidence of DNA results were not enough to warrant a new trial because the “chain of custody” of the alleged sample could not be determined, the sample could have been transferred from another source, that DNA results refer to a mixture of 2 males both of which “may” have matched another person not “did” match another person, the victim personally knew the defendant and testified she visually saw him, there was no other cases where this type of DNA evidence and the victim personally knowing the attacker, were cause to overturn a conviction or to warrant a new trial.

Is this a case that DNA evidence clears the convicted but procedural rules take precedence?

Sentencing will continue to a date to be set in October 2016. An appeal to the Appellate Court is likely in this case.
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Edgar County Treasurer sued by RIDES Mass Transit for $152,150.49

PARIS, IL. (ECWd) –

We wrote in December 2015 about RIDES threatening a lawsuit (here) and explained the situation pretty thoroughly.

RIDES-MTD filed the lawsuit a couple weeks ago.

The bottom line is that you must follow the law when dissolving a mass transit district (“MTD”), the county lacks authority to give any funds leftover to the new MTD, resolutions that violate law are invalid, MTDs must be dissolved lawfully and counties can only be annexed into a new district according to law.

The key elements we question are:

RIDES Mass Transit District sued Edgar County Treasurer for Breach of Contract

In a two-count complaint filed on August 8, 2016 and naming Edgar County Treasurer, Don Wiseman, as Defendant (in his official capacity), the RIDES-MTD based out of Harrisburg, Illinois, are complaining of “Breach of Contract” and also suing for “Writ of Mandamus”.

This is resulting from the alleged dissolution of East Central Illinois Mass Transit District, and Edgar and Clark County annexing into RIDES Mass Transit District in 2013. It is also another of the “lasting legacies” of former Edgar County board chairman Chris Patrick who obviously thought laws did not apply, thought that he was in charge, and nobody could change decisions made by the board. He resigned shortly after being elected.

So, let’s take a look at the lawsuit (below), shall we?

COUNT ONE – BREACH OF CONTRACT:

The suit claims breach of contract because Edgar County passed a Resolution saying they would give all left over funds from ECIMTD to RIDES-MTD upon annexation into the new district. (¶ 5)

The suit acknowledges two check were sent to the Edgar County Treasurer as proceeds from the dissolution and sale of ECIMTD assets. (¶ 7 and 8)

The suit claims it purchased a building in Paris “on reliance” of the money to be transferred to RIDES from liquidation of ECIMTD.

RIDES finally prays for judgment against Edgar County Treasurer in the amount of $152,150.49 from the June 17, 2013 resolution, plus costs for the suit.

COUNT TWO – MANDAMUS:

This COUNT is asking for the Court to order the Edgar County Treasurer to immediately pay the funds to RIDES, based on their assumption of the “validity” of the June 17, 2013 resolution.

Now we can examine the statutes governing counties and mass transit districts.
As a reminder: We are not attorneys and this is not legal advice,
it is simply our interpretation as we read the various laws that may or may not apply to this situation.

DILLON’S RULE

First and foremost, Illinois is a Dillon’s Rule state, and as such, local governments have and can yield only those powers granted them by the Legislature and contained in law. No matter how much it is wanted or needed, it cannot be accomplished without an enabling statute authorizing it.

COUNTIES CANNOT MAKE LAW

Second, a Resolution or Ordinance cannot be enacted that is contrary to state law. A local government cannot make “law” and any such attempt is automatically invalid on its face and unenforceable – no matter the form it takes.

TREASURER AND CONTRACT

The Treasurer did not make any contract, is not permitted by law to make a contract with a mass transit district, and could never breach a contract he is not a party to and did not make. The County Board passed the Resolution, and they are solely responsible for any breach of the Resolution (“contract”). Failure to comply with an invalid and unenforceable Resolution cannot be considered a “breach of contract”, because the contract must first be a valid contract, capable of being breached. This was not such a contract. This was never a contract to begin with.

The June 7, 1013 Edgar County Board Resolution

This Resolution purports to state that “all assets received by Edgar County Treasurer upon the dissolution of the East Central Illinois Mass Transit District shall be transferred, assigned, and conveyed by the County Treasurer to Rides Mass Transit District as the County’s contribution to Rides Mass Transit District.”

So this Resolution says the county will give the funds to RIDES, now we must find out if the county has the authority to give these funds to RIDES (see Dillon’s Rule, above), or if any other law stipulates how the remaining funds are to be distributed.

The Local Mass Transit District Act – Section 9 – Dissolution

This Section was changed on June 1, 2015, to eliminate the requirement that a County approve of the dissolution and to eliminate the wording “or other adequate services are or can be made available”. Where the remaining funds go and to whom they are paid remains essentially unchanged, other than allowing payments to municipalities in whole or part within the district – previously is was only if those municipalities “created” the district.

The only option was to dissolve the current district, and dispose of its assets according to law (Section 9 of the Local Mass Transit District Act). Then, if needed, annex into an existing contingent mass transit district according to other provisions of the Local Mass Transit District Act.

any funds remaining after the sale and disposition of its property shall be disposed of by payment to the treasurer of the county or municipality which created it…

According to our sources, RIDES has been repeatedly asked to provide proof thru any enabling statute that authorizes the county to distribute those funds to RIDES. No answer has ever been provided, other than simply reciting the invalid Resolution from June of 2013.

We are confident this lawsuit will fail on a Motion to Dismiss. The law is clear. The county applied the law properly in relation to this situation. Had the past board chairman took the time to listen to us prior to approving the Resolution, it would have never been approved in the first place, and we would not be discussing this lawsuit three years after the “dissolution” of ECIMTD.
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