AG: Edgar County ETSB Violated FOIA, Twice –

Edgar County, IL. (ECWd) –

FOIA Officer stipend for Edgar County Emergency Telephone System Board: $1500

Number of FOIA complaints resolved in her favor: Practically NONE

ETSB, please demand your money back, it isn’t working.

The ETSB Coordinator failed to justify withholding public records again…not that there was any realistic justification to begin with.

A FOIA request was submitted for radio/telephone traffic of an incident involving a Sherriff’s Department employee, and the request was denied.

The AG’s Public Access Counselor had to issue two separate violation letters to the same FOIA request.

On February 9, 2017, the PAC issued a violation letter to the ETSB and asked them to provide the records. Instead of complying, they denied it again for other reasons.

She tried saying it involved an ongoing case, and that excuse failed. Several other excuses were tried, they all failed.

This most recent violation letter explains how the new reasons for denial fall short of the law, and once again the PAC asked Nanette Crippes, ETSB Coordinator, to provide the records requested back in September of 2016.

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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.

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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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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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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

 

 




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 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 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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Dale Barkley resigned from Edgar County Airport Advisory Committee –

PARIS, IL. (ECWd) –

During the Edgar County Board meeting this morning, we learned from Karl Farnham that Dale Barkley had submitted his resignation from the Edgar County Airport Advisory Committee.

In other business, the Board approved purchasing of a new software package for use with assessments and tax levy purposes, among others. This package comes with a savings over software currently used of about $5,000 annually.

William McCord was appointed as Trustee of the Metcalf Fire Protection District.

After closed session discussions on litigation, the Board voted to pay its legal fees ($5000) for the lawsuits filed by me late last year/early this year. Both cases filed were settled with mutual stipulation(s) to dismiss.

The Board authorized an increase in payments to the ETSB for dispatching. the new agreement is $114,000 per year, compared to $100,000 last year.
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Edgar County Board discusses Zoning and Probation Office Air Conditioning –

PARIS, IL. (ECWd) –

The Edgar County Board held a study session this morning and discussions centered around:

  • Airport Zoning and setting a date for the Zoning Commission to provide something to the County Board – In our opinion the Zoning Commission is under no obligation to abide by any direction from the County Board – including any timelines or Ordinance provisions.
  • Courthouse Air-conditioning in the Probation Office – the current AC unit has failed and was installed some 30-odd years ago. Board Member Andrew Patrick stated replacement costs are around $10,000 for the appropriate size and its relocation
  • Sheriff Deputy discussions – Board Member Farnham said they needed to have discussion with the deputies on the issue of overtime and part time – and this discussion should happen next month.
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Update with pics: Sheriff Dept – School Bus accident –

PARIS, IL. (ECWd) –

Updated post from earlier today. I snapped a few pictures at the accident scene earlier this afternoon on my way to Neoga.

No students were on the bus at the time of the accident.

We do not know if anyone was injured and certainly hope they weren’t.

EdCo-Sheriff-Logo




BREAKING: Sheriff Dept and School Bus involved in accident –

PARIS, IL. (ECWd) –

A school bus, an Edgar County Sheriff Deputy car, and a white truck were all involved in an accident at or around the courthouse square this afternoon.

No students were on the bus.

The drivers are being evaluated.

This is all the information we have at this time.

The Paris Beacon News Facebook page has more info and a photo:

https://www.facebook.com/Paris-Beacon-News-375700176051/?fref=ts&ref=br_tf

 

 

 




Edgar Co. Facing Lawsuit Over Excessive Compensation To Elected Officials –

Edgar Co., IL. (ECWd) –

UPDATE: Dec. 28, 2015 – To clear up some misunderstandings, it is our position and belief that the county elected officials, other than the county board, were not aware insurance was not part of their compensation, and were actually told that insurance was part of their compensation (even though it is not). The county board, on the other hand, did know it was not and they were told it was not, but kept receiving it anyway.

On December 22, 2015, I filed a lawsuit [2015-MR-59] in Edgar County Circuit Court seeking injunctive relief to immediately stop payments to Edgar County elected officials that are in excess of their compensation as set by county board resolutions.

Every elected official in Edgar County has taken advantage of this and it must be stopped.

To “clear the air” on the definition of compensation:

Sec. 20-101. As used in this Article:
    (1) "Compensation, benefits or remuneration" includes regular compensation, overtime compensation, vacation compensation, deferred compensation, sick pay, disability pay, sick leave, disability leave, medical, dental, optical or other health benefits, pension or retirement benefits or any other pay, compensation, benefits, or any other remuneration.

At issue is the county (the taxpayer) paying for insurance coverage of some type or another for elected officials when the resolutions setting their compensation did not include it as compensation.

We have been after the county board since prior to the 2012 election, when we first noticed the resolution setting compensation for county board members did not include insurance benefits. They were told again and again, but chose to ignore it.

We recently published a series of articles, ( here, here, here, here, here, here, and here) exposing this and understand that all but one county board member has suddenly decided to not participate in the insurance program. Karl Farnham JR. is the lone hold-out and is still having the county pay for his insurance.

During a recent Freedom Of Information Act request for information on the dollar amount of insurance benefits that Karl Farnham had received (in excess of the compensation resolution), it came back that as of November 30, 2015, taxpayers enriched Farnham by $17,231.99. He continues to receive the payments, so now it is more than $17,231.99 that has been paid from taxpayer funds that should never have been paid – and to just one person – there are more…

Back to the lawsuit, among others,

  • I am asking for an injunction to immediately stop paying for elected official insurance.
  • For a declaration that the resolutions passed by the county board are the only resolutions and the only authorized compensation.
  • For the Court to order full and complete repayment with interest.
  • For the Court to order treble damages (3 times the amount received).
  • For the Court to order a penalty of $2000 per event, or for each and every monthly receipt of unauthorized payment.
  • For the Court to order Edgar County to pay my costs in bringing the suit.

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Kings of Petty Politics Claim Watchdogs Harassing – Part 2

Edgar Co., IL. (ECWd) –

The Kings of Petty Politics Part 2 – Claiming That Watchdogs are harassing.

The Prairie Press Editorial Board says that:

“In our opinion the Watchdog action has nothing to do with better government but is a petty action meant to harass because Wood beat the candidate their group supported in the 2014 election.”

Wow! How absolutely ignorant of facts do you have to be to place that statement into print?

It’s like these people have never attended a county board meeting and are living under a rock.

It is well-known that we continuously refer to Dillon’s Rule when talking about local government. Named after Judge John Forest Dillon, this was the theory that state governments have preeminence over local governments, and is commonly now referred to as Dillon’s Rule. It was used in an 1868 Supreme Court case which basically states that local governments derive their power wholly from the state legislature. What this means, is that no matter how much something is wanted or needed, it cannot be done if the local government was not given the power to do it.

There is a competing theory from Thomas M. Cooley, who stated in 1871 that local government was a matter of right that state government could not take away. This theory is not used, at least not in Illinois.

The United States Supreme Court adopted Dillon’s Rule in 1891. Therefore, Illinois is a “Dillon’s Rule State”.

Contrary to the PP’s thinking, the action of removing the Sheriff from the 911 board was started back in 2012…LONG before we knew who would run for the next election. But those are the facts, and facts can be damning. Actually it was on April 9, 2012 (article here with video). Read about this 3 ½ year battle in our previous article (here).

This is why we started the quest to eliminate the Sheriff as a board member of the Edgar County Emergency Telephone Systems Board. We recognized the conflicts, and they were actual conflicts, with the Sheriff and a Deputy sitting on a board that reimbursed the Sheriff’s Department for dispatching. Never mind the fact that the past Sheriff himself recognized the conflict and stopped attending the meetings because of it.

Had there been internal Sheriff Department conflicts, it could have resulted in a deputy holding the Sheriff “hostage” by controlling, or partially controlling the Sheriff’s budget thru the ETS Board. Our original thoughts were both positions were incompatible with an ETS Board member, and we were proven correct with the recent AG opinion.

The Illinois Attorney General’s office tends to apply Dillon’s Rule, and in their opinion on the questions submitted to them (on September 27, 2012) by Mark Isaf, the Edgar County State’s Attorney, it was applied using the words “in the absence of express statutory authority” (article here):

Conclusion: “Based upon the facts that you have provided, and in the absence of express statutory authorization, the offices of Edgar County sheriff and Edgar County deputy sheriff are incompatible with the office of Edgar County Emergency Telephone System Board member. Accordingly, one person cannot hold both offices simultaneously. “

The bottom line here, is state law does not give authority to violate conflicts of interest. There have been situations where the legislature has identified potential conflicts and stated the conflicts can be minimized, which they did by placing into law the express statutory authority for a county board member to also be a member of the ETS Board.

This has nothing to do with anyone winning an election, as clearly the evidence and Truth prove this was started years prior to the 2014 election. I actually talked to Jeff Wood about this immediately after his first county board meeting and told him we were still pursuing this situation, and it did not matter who held the title of Sheriff, the conflict is still a conflict.

If we truly were interested in harassing, we would have posted an article about Sheriff Wood going over budget last fiscal year, but we didn’t.

Part 3 coming up…

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The Kings of Petty Politics Cry Foul – Part 1

Paris, IL. (ECWd) –

The “Kings of Petty Politics”, the Prairie Press, as evidenced by their coverage of the fake Edgar County 911 issues prior to the 2014 election have cried foul when we attempted to verify what they were reporting as statements made by an Edgar County board member. The quotes attributed to county board member Farnham were false (“misquoted” is the word used by Karl Farnham himself) and I filed a Freedom of Information Act request for any records that supported the statements Nancy Zeman attributed to him.

The Prairie Press, with egg on their face, wrote an opinion piece claiming it was an “Abuse Of FOIA”, which is clearly not the case. We wouldn’t expect the PP to understand how to verify statements made by public officials. It takes time, but we strive to provide the Truth, as opposed to quoting board members as making factual statements without any attempts at verification.

First of all, the County Clerk knew there were no records responsive to my FOIA request and he simply typed “There is no document responsive to your request.” in an email and hit the “send” button. It was important to receive this return email so we would have proof of our claims.

The PP Editorial claims asking someone, whose duty is to respond to requests for information, to type an 8 word response, is somehow harassment of county government, a waste of Griffin’s time, and a [waste of] taxpayer money to prepare a reply. Additionally, claiming it was an abuse of the FOIA system – something they know nothing about as evidenced by their writings throughout the past year.

Before we go further with this multi-part article, let’s focus on what an “Abuse of FOIA” is, by using the Freedom Of Information Act approved by the legislature. It does not define “abuse”, but does place definitions on frequent requesters, and people who request voluminous records.

Section 2(g) of the Freedom Of Information Act defines a “recurrent requester” as someone who, in the previous 12 months immediately preceding the request, makes:

1. A MINIMUM of 50 requests for records within a 12 month period
2. A MINIMUM of 15 requests within a 30 day period
3. A MINIMUM of 7 requests within a 7 day period

Additionally, requests from “news media” do not apply to “recurrent requesters”. The Edgar County Watchdogs are news media as the State of Illinois defines the term. So, even though we cannot be placed in the recurring requester category, we still did not even come close to exceeding the MINIMUM qualification as a recurring requester (if it did apply). We are also a non-profit, which is another exemption to this classification.

Section 2(h) defines a “voluminous request”, exempts “news media” and “non-profit” from it, and lists several things that could classify as a voluminous request, none of which apply to us, or even come close to meeting the threshold.

The above two sections of FOIA are what the legislature has determined a public body may claim when faced with FOIA request from individuals who may use FOIA more frequently then others. The statute never defines “abuse of FOIA”, and we suspect this may be the legislature’s way to curb some requests for public records.

We do not consider verifying statements made by public officials as abusing any FOIA system, but rather one of the reasons for what the FOIA system was made for. Otherwise a public official could just say anything and get it printed, which is what some “media” think should happen. YOU (the sheeple) must believe only what THEY (the press) tell you to believe.

We call it good reporting.  It allows individuals to see and verify the actual records in question.

Stay tuned for Part II of our multi part exposure  of “Kings of Petty Politics”.

IL-Leaks




County Board Member Farnham says Nancy Zeman misquoted him in article –

Edgar County, IL. (ECWd) –

After talking to Edgar County Board Member Karl Farnham this morning prior to the December County Board Meeting, he stated that Nancy Zeman misquoted him in PP article we wrote about last week entitled “Farnham Makes Things Up, Prairie Press Prints It“.

Farnham says that his quote was actually “The majority of the county board members and ETS board members feel the Sheriff was a resource to the board“, not as was quoted in their article as “the vast majority of county residents” thinking so…

The two quotes make a great deal of difference when you look at 14 or so board members instead of approximately 18,000 residents and claiming a vast majority of either of them.

On another note, if the county board feels the Sheriff should be on the ETS board, they need to have it addressed thru the legislature, the same way a county board member as ETS member was addressed and have it added to the applicable statute.

 




Karl Farnham Makes Things Up – Prairie Press Prints It –

Edgar Co., IL. (ECWd) –

Karl Farnham came up with some pretty good excuses, the problem is they are not true.

Well, one thing was true, that a lawsuit would have been filed if Sheriff Wood would have been reappointed to the ETSB board.

Other than that, everything else is false. Farnham was quoted as saying “the vast majority of county residents” feel the sheriff was a good asset to the ETS Board – which we know to be false, since it cannot be proven to be how the “vast majority” felt about it when Farnham made the statement. He obviously doesn’t care about a unanimous vote of the county board saying they are not authorized health insurance – but he now makes a false claim about how the “vast majority” of county residents feel about the ETSB members?

We have submitted a request for records to support the statement about how a “vast majority” of the county residents feel – but we already know there is no such proof to be had.

“The AG Opinion was non-binding” – wow. What a fool he is for that statement. It is well-known the AG opinion was written as a legal opinion, and that a binding opinion was never requested from the AG, which is duty bound to provide legal advice to the States Attorney when asked, which they did. Are we to believe Karl knows more than all the attorneys at the AG’s Office, since he then stated he believed there was no conflict with the Sheriff on the ETS Board?

He’s only voting on money controlled by his department, not personally” was the next quote by Farnham. Why did Farnham change the story line now? The last articles written quoted him and the 911 Coordinator saying something completely different about how the money was controlled.  The fact is, Farnham’s statement is one reason it makes it a conflict; the sheriff was voting on “money controlled by his department“…while serving on the board of another department (votes on the amount of compensation to provide to his other department)…meaning he could not give impartial faithful service to both, no matter how much he thinks he could.

Farnahm is one of the same board members that didn’t think disgraced former Chairman Chris Patrick selling concrete to the county was a conflict. We all know how that turned out for him.

Farnham is the same board member that when exposed for selling guns illegally during his time as Sheriff responded with “its past the statute of limitations”, which basically was an admission with no regard for the fact it was illegal, other than he can’t be held accountable for it now.

Well prior to the actual re-appointments to the 911 Board, Kirk Allen provided a simple solution to the Sheriff sitting on the 911 board being a conflict.  County Board Chairman Voigt was told they could still have the same input from the county sheriff even if he was not on the board. Sure, he wouldn’t be allowed to vote on things, but if what the ETSB honestly wants is input, they can have that without the sheriff being on the board and serving in a conflicted position as is clearly pointed out by the Attorney General.

Previous article from us on this subject Sep 21Sep 21Oct 29

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Edgar Co. Board Meetings – Hot Topic: Elected Official Health Insurance –

Edgar Co., IL. (ECWd) –

Published November 12, 2015 –

If you relied on local media to report the happenings in respect to county business, you would have missed a very important issue this month – health insurance for county elected officials.

Previously we have reported on board member Karl Farnham participating in the county employee health insurance program, in violation of every law covering the subject and more…, we reported on board members Mike Heltsley, Alan Zuber and Mark Isaf (State’s Attorney) taking payments for ‘opting out’ of the program, another violation of established law – We even reported on the board’s attempt at justifying their receipt of health insurance payments with the passage of a resolution purporting to adopting previous resolutions that do not exist, and how the board acted on this issue of self-serving, but fails to act on other issues.

What has been unreported, until now, is my filing a “Notice of Intended Application for Quo Warranto” (below) with the State’s Attorney, who should recuse himself since he is conflicted in this, and also filing with the Illinois Attorney General’s office, asking them to intervene and prosecute this receipt of compensation in excess of the Resolutions setting their compensation. I also asked that the AG file suit for recovery of all funds paid in excess of the salary setting resolutions.

This notice is a requirement prior to filing in Circuit Court. The Attorney General and State’s Attorney must be served with this notice, and be given the opportunity to either act, or decline to act, prior to a citizen filing the Application in Circuit Court.

So, after this Notice was sent, we have verbally been informed that no payments went to Isaf, Voigt, Bruner, Zuber, Heltsley, Patrick, or Griffin, who have all decided to declined to continue receiving “opt-out” payments and Medicare Reimbursement payments. This saved the county taxpayers around $5,740.00 just in this month alone. Thank you!

During the November 10th Edgar County Board Meeting, Karl Farnham refused to answer the question asked if he was still getting insurance paid thru the county.

The lone hold-outs (we understand these are still being paid) are Karl Farnham (County Board Member), Jeff Wood (County Sheriff), and Don Wiseman (County Treasurer), who are each receiving around $456.00 per month in excess of the compensation set by resolution. This equates to over $16,400.00 in the next year ($1,368.00/month). These are the three receiving the actual health insurance where Edgar County taxpayers foot part of the insurance bill each month.

It has been close to a month since the “Notice” was sent out, and they have 60 days to reply to me as to whether or not the SA or the AG will take action. If they decline, I will take the action in Circuit Court…just as I wrote on August 15, 2015 (here).

Study session from Monday, November 9, 2015:

.

Edgar County Board Meeting from November 10, 2015:

Notice of Intended Application for Quo Warranto filed October 15, 2015:

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Edgar County Sheriff Jeff Wood should arrest himself –

Edgar Co., IL. (ECWd) –

In past articles I wrote about Board Member Karl Farnham collecting insurance payments in violation of law,  Board Members Mike Heltsley and Alan Zuber collecting “opt-out” payments in violation of law, State’s Attorney Mark Isaf collecting the opt-out payments and previous insurance payments in violation of law, and also how the County Board passed a Resolution in October 2015 attempting to justify these payments by “adopting” past resolution(s) that never existed and that nobody can find. All of the above have violated their Oath of Office (among other laws), which states, in  part, that they swear to uphold the Constitution of the State of Illinois. For that, they have failed.

This article is about how the Edgar County Sheriff has been participating in the county insurance program in violation of law.

While he was a Deputy, Jeff Wood was authorized to participate in the county health insurance program. When he became elected to the Office of Edgar County Sheriff, he was no longer authorized to participate in the county health insurance program as a matter of law. This was due to the Resolution setting the Sheriff’s compensation.

The Edgar County Board passed a Resolution on April 9, 2014 (at 13:56 in this video) by unanimous vote, setting the salary/compensation of the County Sheriff. His compensation was set at $55,838 (FY-2014) and increases each year thru FY-2018 to $62,338. this Resolution included nothing else. No health insurance, no life insurance, no free car allowance, no mileage, NOTHING!

Since the first of December 2014, Sheriff Wood has been participating in the county health insurance program (proof on pages 14, 15, and 16 of this document) by having the county pay $460 per month for their portion of the program. The unlawful act of receiving payments towards his insurance coverage, he has violated the Local Government Officer Compensation Act and Article VII Section 9 (b) of the Illinois Constitution, Section 4-6003 of the Counties Code, and numerous other laws.

He was overcompensated by at least $5,060.00 since he took office, thru October 2015, and he should reimburse the taxpayers for this overcompensation.

For further clarification, not only do the above mentioned laws apply, but case law supports this and was used in the past by Kirk Allen to stop paying their multi-township assessor.  It was stopped because there was never any resolution adopted to set compensation as outlined in case law provided by the Township Officials of Illinois Association.   (Case law provided by TOI)

Next up? Discussions on Medicare reimbursements to county elected officials…

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Sheriff Wood Cannot Serve On ETS Board – Prairie Press Editorial Fails On Facts –

Edgar Co., IL. (ECWd) –

With absolute disbelief that any person, or group of people, could be so wrong, I read the editorial in this week’s Prairie Press on their assumption that “There is no conflict” in Sheriff Jeff Wood being on the Edgar County ETS Board.

We published a previous article on this conflict of interest (here).

So now we have Nannette Crippes, 911 Coordinator, saying on the record that the Illinois Attorney General doesn’t know how things operate in Edgar County, to a local “newspaper” parroting the same line with “[the AG opinion] is based on a faulty assumption“. Really?

Don’t get us wrong, we appreciate people questioning their public officials, but this seems to defy all common sense – AND – they “forget” to mention the most damning part of the AG’s Opinion.

First, let’s look at their statement towards the end of the opinion,

The local 911 system nearly suffered a collapse during a previous administration when the Sheriff failed to attend ETS Board meetings and communications broke down.

There was never any “near collapse” or anything resembling a collapse – problems were manufactured to elect a new Sheriff, who happens to be the cousin of Nannette Crippes.

A previous Sheriff, Crippes, was on the ETS Board, who ended up in an affair with Nannette (his subordinate and employee), breaking up two marriages, and now they are married to each other. That worked out great for Nanny as she was then able to work two county jobs, at the same time, during the same hours of the day, and get paid for both of them, all while distributing over $11,000.00 in gift cards with no records of who they went to.

Karl Farnham says he has no problem with her stealing public funds in that fashion, while ETS Board member Troy Eads jokes about how Nannette “..could always raise her skirt and f##k with Karl or f##k with the Sheriff..” (yes, that is a quote)

Dee Burgin (who still owes the county $100,000.00) was on the Board when they all voted to say they were OK with her filing false reimbursement claims for payments for attending two year’s worth of meetings that never happened – yes, they were just fine and dandy letting her steal more money from you, the taxpayer. These are some of the incestuous relationships currently running our 911 system.

Sheriff Motley realized there was a conflict with the Sheriff serving on our ETS Board and decided to not participate in conflicted actions. The failure of communications was all on Nannette Crippes, who demanded to be moved into the basement of the courthouse almost immediately after her husband lost his bid for re-election.

The original formation of her position clearly reflected she was to answer to the Sheriff, however, she would have no part of that after her hubby got beat.  No, instead, she moved her office into the basement of the courthouse at great expense to county taxpayers.   The entire manufactured problems prior to this most recent election with the 911 system disappeared the instant the new election results were published. That should show there was never any danger of the collapse of our 911 system. It was a bought and paid for “crisis” under the guise of news. Thanks Karl, you were very helpful in perpetuating those lies.  Of special note, if ETSB was in danger of “collapse” where was the news coverage of such a newsworthy matter?

The AG Opinion:

The AG Opinion, states several things creating the conflict with a Sheriff and/or Deputy Sheriff as ETS Board members.

  • That the position as Sheriff (and Deputy) creates a conflict in the fact that the Edgar County Sheriff Department if being reimbursed by the ETSB for services employees of the Sheriff’s Department (dispatchers) are performing. The Sheriff, as a board member, negotiates the level of reimbursement and votes on the level of reimbursement to his own department.
  • The position of Sheriff, also includes the statutory Office of Supervisor of Safety [55 ILCS 5/3-6035] which is incompatible with service on the ETS Board. He could be called upon as Supervisor of Safety to act or vote on certain safety measures/contracts [55 ILCS 5/3-6036] that may conflict with his duty to the ETS Board – OR his voting on ETS matters could conflict with his duties as Supervisor of Safety.

Powers of the ETS Board

The powers of an ETS Board are in its statute. Among those powers are certain items they can expend funds on, and no other.

They are authorized to expend funds to reimburse employees of the Sheriff’s Department for performing duties as 911 operators. They do not have the power to pay into the county general fund for those reimbursements. The dispatchers are employees of the Sheriff’s Department, that is where the reimbursements are to be sent. No exceptions. Our county is again violating the law when it comes to the ETS Board expending money.  In fact, the AG points to that very concern on page 5 as footnote #6, but I guess the Prairie Press would have had to read that to know it.

The Prairie Press is simply wrong on their assumption that neither Wood nor the Sheriff’s Department directly benefits from the ETS payment for dispatching services. First, there is no requirement to have a “direct” benefit in order to have a conflict. The term used is generally a “direct or indirect” benefit – or may be called upon to act or vote on things in which he could not faithfully, under every circumstance, protect and serve both positions. Second, there is a direct benefit due to the fact that the ETSB can only send these payments to the Sheriff’s Department – not to the county general fund.

The total focus of Nannette Crippes and the Prairie Press appears to be on questioning the financial conflict with complete disregard for all the other key points.

If the sheriff or a deputy sheriff were to serve simultaneously as an ETS board member, he or she would be placed in the untenable position of balancing the interests of the sheriffs  office and the ETS System. Because the sheriffs or the deputy sheriffs duties to the county and to the System would conflict in these circumstances, the sheriff (or a deputy sheriff) is necessarily precluded from also serving as a county ETS board member, unless another provision of Illinois law expressly permits such simultaneous tenure.”

So even when all the money issues raised and excuses are made, the Prairie Press once again fails to even mention the other conflicts pointed out by the Attorney General.  Conflicts that we pointed out years ago, as did the former Sheriff, who instead of serving in a conflicted position, removed himself from it. In the past, people would be praised for doing the right thing, however, in Edgar County this local paper casts dispersion on those who do that while creating new straw-man arguments to defend violations of law.

As far as the Prairie Press claiming that county policy appointed the Sheriff, we must once again expose the failings of the self proclaimed hometown news.  Had they done a shred of investigating before stepping off in it, they would know that you can’t pass a policy that is inconsistent with law, and more importantly, a policy that is passed and consistent with law is a legislative act and binding by law.

That being the case, how convenient the Prairie Press left out the fact the original resolution creating the ETSB only authorized that board to hire a “temporary” employee.

“Hiring, on a temporary basis, any staff necessary for the  implementation or upgrade of the system.” (original resolution)

Nannette Crippes is and has been the only employee of Edgar County ETSB, and her hiring and being given full time benefits like no other county employee, is done in direct violation of the very policy that entity is bound by, but of course the Prairie Press failed to mention that policy.  In light of their position pointing to policy as the guide-line, are they going to demand she be immediately terminated since she has far, far exceeded any “temporary” basis?

Additionally, Nannette and the ETSB, in a colossal effort to deflect all responsibility for failure to obtain state licensing, has publicly stated, as has the Prairie Press, that the 911 belongs to the Sheriff’s Department who is the only person responsible for its licensing. Thus, no need for her “temporary” employment with the ETSB – unless past statements are no longer politically expedient.

I think the conclusion from the AG tells us all we need to know as they did not state the reason the two positions are in conflict based on any financial issue.  No, in fact they specifically tied it to the absence of express statutory authorization.  We have said for years, you only have the power granted by statute and when it’s silent you can’t do it.  I guess the AG agrees with Dillon’s Rule as well!

Conclusion: “Based upon the facts that you have provided, and in the absence of express statutory authorization, the offices of Edgar County sheriff and Edgar County deputy sheriff are incompatible with the office of Edgar County Emergency Telephone System Board member. Accordingly, one person cannot hold both offices simultaneously.

I guess we can count this as yet another colossal failure in reporting by the Prairie Press.

Download (PDF, 8.77MB)

EdCoSheriffDept




Edgar County Jail death – morphine overdose

Edgar Co. (ECWd) –

The cause of death of Michelle L. Hamilton (Tosser) of Paris, who was found in the holding cell August 27th as reported here, was determined to have been from morphine intoxication according to the Coroners report obtained today.

Download (PDF, 234KB)




The 3-1/2 year Conflict of Interest Battle – Sheriff/ETSB –

Edgar Co., IL. (ECWd) –

The issue with the conflicts of interest on the Edgar County Emergency Telephone System Board started over three and a half years ago when we first became aware of the situation. At that time, Sheriff Motley and Deputy Burgin were both on the ETSB board, and both were employed by the Edgar County Sheriff Department.

Update for clarity: In Edgar County, the 911 dispatchers are on the Sheriff’s payroll. The ETSB reimburses the Sheriff’s Department for an approximate amount of their salary commensurate with the percentage of duty performed as 911 dispatch. This reimbursement is continually reevaluated and was last set at $100,000 in August 2015 payable in quarterly installments of $25,000 each quarter. This negotiation involved the ETSB board, ETSB Director, and the Edgar County Sheriff – no different than previous years. With this, the agreement could have been unduly influenced by the ETSB and its Director based on facts not relevant to reimbursement – like they find this Sheriff more agreeable to their political thinking…and past lower reimbursement levels and lack of cooperation due to personality problems harbored by the ETSB Director could have been influenced negatively by their dislike of the Sheriff at that time (which is evident in news articles prior to the election and recent statements made by Farnham). A classic conflict of interest finally dealt with.

The issue was brought to the attention of the Edgar County Board just prior to April 2012, and to the ETSB Board in April of 2012 (here).

On May 16, 2012, Edgar County State’s Attorney, Mark Isaf, sent a letter to Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan requesting an opinion on whether or not there was a conflict of interest with the Sheriff and Deputy being on the ETSB, and even asked about various other emergency services personnel on the board. He followed up with a status request on September 27, 2012 and May 12, 2014 (letters here).

In June of 2014, we wrote an article critical of how the AG’s office was treating this request for an opinion from a State’s Attorney (here). In December of 2014 we wrote another article critical of the AG’s handling of the request (here).

During the December 10, 2014 county board meetign, at 5:57 in the video (here) I asked the county board about the conflict of interest. After this county board meeting I explained the issue to Sheriff Wood about a Sheriff on the ETSB and told him we had been waiting since 2012 for an opinion.

The history of this situation is important so our readers can understand how long it takes to get an opinion to correct a wrong, and so they can realize how broken this system is when a State’s Attorney cannot even get an opinion from the Attorney General in a timely manner. Additionally, this should also show our readers that this issue has nothing to do with who the Sheriff actually is, but that the position of Sheriff is incompatible with a seat on the ETSB.

We learned this morning during the county board study session that the AG had finally rendered an opinion, and we are waiting for a copy of it thru FOIA.

Video of this morning’s study session is below – there is general discussion of the Edgar County Special Services Area Ambulance tax levy and other things of interest:

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Edgar County Sheriff Wood cannot serve on ETSB (911) Board –


Edgar Co., IL. (ECWd) –

Conflict of Interest – More news you heard here first, and most likely nowhere else

Edgar County Sheriff Jeff Wood cannot serve on the Edgar County Emergency Telephone System Board (“ETSB”) or (“911 Board”) due to a conflict of interest between that board position and the Sheriff Department he was elected to oversee.

The issue comes with how our systems were set-up. In Edgar County, the ETSB pays public funds to the Sheriff Dept for their portion of the 911 dispatch services. The dispatchers work for the Sheriff, and by the Sheriff sitting on the board, it creates the conflict of interest by having the opportunity to discuss, negotiate, and vote on the level or reimbursement the ETSB will send to the Edgar County Sheriff Dept.

This became more evident in the recent passage of an agreement in August for ETSB to pay $100,000 per year to the Sheriff’s Dept for dispatching services each year.

This issue was discussed at the County Board Study Session this morning and there is an AG Opinion on the subject.

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Kansas, IL. House Fire –

Kansas, IL. (ECWd) –

Shortly before 10:00 a.m. today, Sep 15, 2015, the Kansas Fire Department was called to a house fire on the east end of town on Jefferson Street.

Further information will be provided if we receive it.

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Death in holding cell at Edgar County Jail –

Edgar Co., IL. (ECWd) –

A woman’s death in her cell at Edgar County’s jail is under investigation, but authorities are stating at the moment that there is no foul play suspected…leaving only a couple of other possible causes.

Michelle L. Tosser Hamilton, 46, of Paris, was arrested Wednesday morning (August 26) on a charge of Possession of a Controlled Substance. She was jailed that day, and seemed to be doing just fine at that time.

Then very early the next morning – and this according to a press release from the Edgar County Coroner’s office – at 4:41 a.m Aug. 27, jail staff found Hamilton unresponsive in her holding cell.

– See more at Disclosure News Online (here)…