Iroquois County – ETSB – hiring restricted to part time by ordinance!

Iroquois Co. (ECWd) –

We can only wonder what the excuse will be for the hiring of an Emergency Telephone System Board (ETSB), 911 Coordinator as a permanent position when the ordinance specifically stated they only had the power to hire, on a temporary basis, any staff necessary for the implementation or upgrade of the system.

(5) Hiring, on a temporary basis, any staff necessary for the implementation or upgrade of the system.

This is yet another example of a public body failing to read and apply the rules established by law and ordinance.  Not only did they not have the power to contract a full-time person they were restricted to only provide the employment on a temporary basis.

How many years must pass before it’s no longer temporary? 

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Iroquois County – Case and point – No power given to contract employment – Part 3

Iroquois Co. (ECWd) –

As pointed out in Part I and Part II, there are numerous problems with the contract validity as it relates to the ETS Board and their employee with a title of 911 Coordinator.

As the two County Ordinances make clear, no power was ever given for the ETSB to enter into contracts, let alone multi-year contracts for a person to perform their statutory duty.

Without the power given, they can not take the liberty to just do what they want.

Dillon’s rule is the law of the land.

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Iroquois County’s 9-1-1 “contract” contains questionable terms – PART 2 –

WATSEKA, IL. (ECWd)

For starters, the contract is invalid because it was never placed on a meeting agenda, which means it could never have been legally voted on and there are no records of any votes taken dealing with the contract that 911 Director Nita Dubble thinks she has.

For this article, we will go through the various provision within the alleged contract, and point out some very revealing faults within it.

Under “Term Of Employment” it mentions that she will “perform all the duties statutorily and customarily attached” to the position of 911 Coordinator. To find out what that actually means, we must look to the statute for the statutorily attached duties and to the Iroquois County 9-1-1 by-laws for any customarily attached duties. Finding none, this provision in invalid.

Additionally, the Administrative code pointed to as her duties in the contract, have been repealed. The Administrative Code section is already appealed as of May 2016, and the section in the ETSB Act pertaining to the ETSB duties will repeal on July 1, 2017.

We challenge the ETSB to point to any mention of a 911 Coordinator in the statute for starters.  It’s rather difficult for a person to perform all the duties statutorily and customarily attached to a position that is never named in the law.  The statutes pointed to in Part 1 make it clear what position is being employed.  No such language can be found in the ETSB statute for the position of 911 Coordinator.

“The Evergreen Clause”

Evergreen clauses are not valid when applied to public employment contracts when those contracts are so lop-sided in favor of the employee that it places a restrictive undue burdensome on the public body. Additionally, under Dillon’s Rule a public body only has the power vested in it by the legislature, and since the Automatic Contract Renewal Act [825 ILCS 601/5) specifically excludes public bodies from automatic contract renewals, they are unauthorized since the public body was never vested with the power to enter into one. Had the legislature wanted these types of contracts to be part of local government powers they would have included in the statute.

We understand that her attorney / attorney for the past ICOM/ETSB Board (which had no authority to hire an attorney in the first place) wrote this contract and placed the burden on the public body by using the evergreen clause.

An ETSB does not have the authority to enter into an employment contract, let alone a multi-year, continuously renewing the contract because it “binds-the-hands” of future boards [Milliken v. Edgar County].  New board members are appointed every year, thus an organizational meeting should take place after each appointment so at best if it was legal for a contract, it would be limited to the one-year term of the board.

This alleged contract also states that unless a certain action(s) happen, the contract automatically amends and extends, however, that itself would be an “action” and any “action” taken must be placed on an agenda of a public meeting and voted on in public for the action to be valid. This contract was never placed on any agenda and therefore has never been amended or extended. “No action is action – the action of taking no action

This contract also allows the coordinator to notify the board that she will engage an attorney to work on her behalf at the board’s expense – which would constitute an illegal act since the statutory legal counsel for the 9-1-1 is the Iroquois County State’s Attorney and any attempt at using public funds to pay for a private attorney (without the Court ordering it) is a crime.

In addition, the Savings Clause provides the simple solution for all of those wishing to insist she has a legal contract.

ln the event any section or portion of this Employment Agreement shall be held invalid or unenforceable by any agency or court of competent jurisdiction or by reason of any existing or subsequently enacted legislation, such decision or legislation shall apply only to the specific section or portion thereof specifically affected by such decision or legislation and the remaining sections or portions of this Employment Agreement shall remain in full force and effect.

Public bodies were not given the power to enter into automatic renewal contracts, thus existing legislation forbids such action and that section in the contract can be declared invalid by any agency, as in the ETSB.  In addition, with the Evergreen Clause section invalid, this particular contract terminates March 25th, 2017.  It would appear doing nothing more than notifying the employee there is no contract, extension or otherwise, she becomes an “at-will” employee at 12 am Saturday, March 25th, 2017.

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Iroquois County 911 Employment Contract violates law – Part 1

Iroquois Co. (ECWd) –

We obtained an employment contract and related documents tied to an employment issue in Iroquois County for a position they refer to as “911 Coordinator.”  Please take special note of the fact no such position can be found in any statute in Illinois.  We contend the contract related to this particular employment position is invalid for several reasons of which some are very simple to understand and others a little more complex. In order to fully represent the facts, in this case, this will be a three part article.

Dillon’s Rule.  It is the bedrock of interpreting our laws and if there is a question of whether or not a local government has a certain power. This is commonly referred to as statutory construction.

Dillon’s Rule construes grants of power to localities very narrowly. The bottom law is — if there is a question about a local government’s power or authority, then the local government does NOT receive the benefit of the doubt. Under Dillon’s Rule, one must assume the local government does NOT have the power in question.

In legal language, the first part of Dillon’s Rule reads like this: Local Governments have only three types of powers: 1.) Those granted in express words; 2.) Those necessarily or fairly implied in or incident to the powers expressly granted; and 3.) Those essential to the declared objects and purposes of the corporation, not simply convenient, but indispensable.

It is the second part of the Dillon Rule, however, that puts the vise on local government’s powers. This part states that if there is any reasonable doubt whether a power has been conferred on a local government, then the power has NOT been conferred. This is known as the rule of local government powers. (Dillons Rule)

According to past contract validity matters in Iroquois County, Jim Devine, the County States Attorney, correctly stated during a County Board meeting that a contract in place that was never on the agenda is invalid. He was referring to a contract issue with ICOM and the County. It would be invalid because it was never properly noticed to the public. Proper notice obligation is clear in the Open Meetings act.

Section 2.02C clearly states, “Any agenda required under this Section shall set forth the general subject matter of any resolution or ordinance that will be the subject of final action at the meeting.”

Devine is also on record stating; “He explained that the agenda used by the County Board must show specifically, any action or discussion that is expected to take place at their meetings. The prior agenda was too vague and did not show action, which is a violation of the Illinois Open Meetings Act.”

Applying his own standard, the Emergency Telephone System Board (ETSB) agenda fails even the most basic legal scrutiny as it relates to any action on a contract. 

One need only read this agenda to see, there is no general subject matter of any resolution or ordinance that will be the subject of final action at the meeting as it relates to contracts. Nor does this agenda meet the very requirements pointed out by the Iroquois County State’s Attorney Jim Devine.

Anyone who attempts to imply listing “contracts” on the agenda under a Committee Reports heading is sufficient would be well advised to read Allen v. Clark County Park District, a case we won in the Appellate Court recently as it related to agenda items and their sufficiency.  This is now case law in Illinois.

Reading the minutes from the meeting in question, it is clear they attempted to take action under the item VIII Committee Reports section F item. How is it that a committee has authority to take action under an agenda item pointing to reports? Or was this a slick attempt to provide a contract for an employee without raising any attention to what was happening?

Regardless, the minutes do not reflect anything more than a motion being made. There is no second to the motion nor any annotation that the motion passed and if so by what vote count.

Loy made a motion to accept the employment agreement for Nita Dubble with the additions and corrections on the agreed initialed copy signed by the ETSB and Dubble.

Any attempt to imply there was a proper vote and claim it was just not recorded properly, proves they voted on a matter not properly listed on an agenda, thus such action is voidable by the courts or the ETSB can simply declare it void ab initio.    In addition, committees providing committee reports do not have the power to enter into or vote for a contract, which is the only place the word contract appears on the agenda. This agenda was the very one provided by Nita Dubble when I asked for the agenda for the meeting in which the contract was claimed to have been approved.

Dillons Rule.

Where in the statute for ETSB does it give them the power to hire a 911 Coordinator?

It does not!

In fact, the very duties of planning the 911 system, Coordinating and Supervising the implementation, upgrading, or maintenance of the system, including the establishment of equipment specifications and coding systems is a duty of the ETSB, not a hired employee of that board.

The statute is VERY clear and assigns specific powers. As it relates to employees, it only authorizes the hiring any staff necessary for the implementation and upgrade of the system.

This is very important to understand because what we really have here is a neglect of duty by the ETS Board as it relates to what they are supposed to be doing. The statute assigned the board members the powers and duties of Coordinating and Supervising the system. It did not give them the power to delegate their duties to someone else through a contract. This is no different than a States Attorney who represents the county. Those powers are vested in that position and they cannot be delegated to others without statutory direction. In the case of the States attorney, they can have a special prosecutor appointed by statute, thus another person performing his duties. There is no such authority for the ETS Board to delegate their statutory duties to anyone else. They are appointed by law and it is their duty to perform the duties assigned to them by ordinance and law.

This “Coordinator” title and position typically come from the initial legal hiring of staff to implement the original system and those involved worked themselves into a full-time job by doing what the Board is statutorily directed to do.

As it relates to hiring staff, it does not give them the power to enter into an employment contract. Had the legislature intended for them to have that power they would have outlined that authority in the statute, just as they have in numerous other statutes. A few examples are found below.

County Health Department Contract power provided for Public Health Administrator 55 ILCS 5/5-25013 (B)7. Enter into multiple year employment contracts with the medical health officer or public health administrator as may be necessary for the recruitment and retention of personnel and the proper functioning of the health department.

School Code Contracting power provided for Superintendents 105 ILCS 5/10-23.8Superintendent contracts. After the effective date of this amendatory Act of 1997 and the expiration of contracts in effect on the effective date of this amendatory Act, school districts may only employ a superintendent under either a contract for a period not exceeding one year or a performance-based contract for a period not exceeding 5 years.

Park District Code Power to Contract Director. – 70 ILCS 1205/8-1 (i) To make contracts for a term exceeding one year, but not to exceed 3 years, notwithstanding any provision of this Code to the contrary, relating to: (1) the employment of a park director, superintendent, administrator, engineer, health officer, land planner, finance director, attorney, police chief, or other officer who requires technical training or knowledge;

Employment power tied to a term

Highway Code(605 ILCS 5/5-202)(a) Except as provided under subsection (b) of this Section the term of office of each county superintendent of highways is 6 years and until his successor is appointed and qualified.

Water District70 ILCS 3705/ Sec. 7. The board of trustees may appoint a general manager to serve a term of five years and until his successor is appointed, and his compensation shall be fixed by resolution of the board.

You will not find ANY statutory authority for the ETSB to enter into employment contracts. Had the legislature wanted the ETSB to have the power to enter into employment contracts delegating their duties to an employee it would have reflected such authority in the statutes like they have in many other statutes pertaining to public agencies in this state.

If the ETSB can’t point to statutory authority to enter into an employment contract with a person then they don’t have the power to do it. Dillon’s Rule is the law in Illinois and if you doubt that, listen to the 21:44 mark of the audio from this Appellate Court hearing where the Justice on that court explained Dillions rule quite well.

http://edgarcountywatchdogs.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/1076.mp3

Below is my brief presentation to the ETSB at their last meeting on this specific matter.  We encourage them to ask the key question, where in the statute does it give them the power to enter into contracts for a position of 911 Coordinator?  Such a position is nothing more than a created title by people trying to secure their own job.

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Clark-Edgar Rural Water District terminates Office Manager / Bookkeeper –

OLIVER, IL. (ECWd) –

It has been reported to us that there is a shake-up of employee(s) at the Clark-Edgar Rural Water District (“CERWD”) – with the unexpected termination of its long-time office manager and bookkeeper, Lisa Rigdon, as of this morning.

She had a fairly lucrative compensation package with a vehicle, insurance, and being the highest paid employee of the district totaling at somewhere around $58,000 per year.

We have been hearing rumored rumblings for the past couple of months, but did not expect this.

We have reached out to the CERWD for comment, but have not been successful as of this initial publication.

Last fall the General Manager retired from the water district, resulting in the hiring of a new General Manager.

The Clark-Edgar Rural Water District is a public water district with elected water district commissioners, and massive amounts of debt.

More information to follow…

 

 

 




Carlinville’s Mayor Deanna Demuzio hiding credit card statements from the public –

CARLINVILLE, IL. (ECWd) –

Just when I thought nothing could top last nights meeting which was  one of the most unprofessional meetings I had ever attended, and all at the hands of Mayor Deanna Demuzio, and both the city attorney and the attorney for the electoral board/TIF District (who blamed distrust of city gov’t on other trustees instead of the Mayor and attorneys where it belongs) – more on this meeting in a later article to more fully explain the lies spewed out by the attorneys.

The city decided to try and hide their credit cards from the prying eyes of the public – to keep you from knowing what they have been spending your money on.

What did they purchase that they do not want you to find out about?

I submitted a Freedom of Information Act request for copies of 6 month’s worth of credit card and cell phone bills, proof of Open Meetings and FOIA training of those requiring it, and City Council Meeting Minutes. I was once again unlawfully determined to be a “commercial requester” even though the state law provides for the very exemption I claimed in the FOIA request.

It is my firm opinion that something bad has been happening with the financials of the City of Carlinville and Mayor Demuzio, along with the Clerk and attorney, are doing whatever they can to keep from releasing any information until after the election.

You and I have a right to know how your tax money is spent, and you would think a former State Senator would also know – but maybe that’s why she lost her bid at that election.

This is a violation of the Freedom Of Information Act and cannot be tolerated. As a result, more of your tax money will be spent on attorneys to defend this indefensible decision of theirs. It is their choice to keep these credit card bills secret in violation of law, and they will use your money to help them delay producing these records.

I will get the records, and you will pay the attorney bills placed on you by these “public” officials who are doing everything they can to protect their jobs instead of doing the rights thing.




Former Illinois State Rep. Candidate, Randy Peterson, arrested and charged with domestic battery –

INDIANAPOLIS, IN. (ECWd) –

Former Candidate for State Representative of the 102nd District in Illinois, Randall “Randy” Peterson, 38, was arrested in Marion County Indiana on January 15, 2017.

Peterson is also the former Edgar County Republican Party Chairman, former President of the Paris Area Chamber of Commerce Board (but apparently still on the board)  and is currently a Republican Precinct Committeeman in Edgar County.

The incident took place at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Indianapolis, Indiana.

He was booked into the Marion County Jail on January 15, 2017, and Released the following day after posting Bond.

He is currently charged with two Counts:

 

Click to enlarge

Both are Class A Misdemeanors, and in Indiana carry a maximum penalty of a $5,000 fine and one year in jail for each Count.

According to Court records, he bonded out with a $10,000 Surety Bond and $995 cash bond on January 16, 2017.

A No Contact Order / Order of Protection was filed and granted against him on January 15, 2017, and served on him on January 17, 2017.

The Order of Protection was expired/canceled on February 3, 2017.

His next court date is March 24, 2017, in Marion County, Indiana.

He was also highlighted in last week’s Disclosure News Magazine which is still on the stands, or you can subscribe to the online version for more detailed information (here).

His troubles with the law include that he was arrested in Vermillion County Indiana on March 5, 2017, for allegations of DWI with a BAC of .208 – if found guilty, this will be his third DUI.

He was previously arrested and plead guilty in 2003 for DUI with a .162 BAC in Paris, Illinois – and arrested in 2006 and plead guilty to DUI in Vermillion County, Indiana. So a finding or plea of guilt in this most recent DWI arrest would make it number three.

Further examination reveals he plead guilty to Disorderly Conduct in 2010 in Edgar County but was still endorsed by Adam Brown and several local Parisians who probably regret that decision about now.

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Suit filed against Carlinville for withholding public records –

CARLINVILLE, IL. (ECWd) –

Yesterday I filed a four-count lawsuit against the City of Carlinville for its refusal to produce public records requested on January 16, 2017. Pursuant to the Freedom Of Information Act (“FOIA”), they were supposed to respond within five working days after receiving the request. That did not happen.

What did happen is the city’s attorney decided it would be a good idea to somehow claim the request was for commercial purposes and then tried to impose a fee of $200 before even gathering the requested records. That was unacceptable and violated the FOIA.

I then filed a “Request for Review” with the Attorney General’s Public Access Counselor, and the city refused to answer the PAC’s inquiry.

Finally, I filed a lawsuit in Macoupin County Circuit Court, Case number 2017-MR-25, seeking court orders declaring the city violated FOIA, that the request was not for commercial purposes, payment of my fees and costs, and for production of the public records requested.




Federal 9th Circuit Update – Dissenting Justices File Supplemental Filings –

(ECWd) –

Just as we wrote in early February in “Game changer in the 9th Circuit? – National Media silent” and “The 9th Circuit – more to the story” we believed the decision was faulty and were surprised that a request for sua sponte request for it to be considered en banc was made. We also talked about the Spokio v. Robins case which dealt with the need to prove standing in order maintain an action in federal court and the fact it was never considered in the original decision – and was never raised in this dissention letter.

Now we have the strongly worded letter of dissenting Justices, which paints a picture making the original decision even more perplexing.

While we understand that Federal Justices interpret the law differently on the Travel Ban issue, this document makes that point very clear, with some key points taken from it:

  • consideration of the case en banc did not happen and the letter was to dissent from their failure to correct the panel’s manifest error
  • it contained good background on the President’s authority to exclude aliens
  • it should have been review because the panel made a fundamental error
  • the panel’s analysis conflicts irreconcilably with their previous cases and they had an obligation to vacate the opinion to resolve that conflict and provide consistent guidance to district courts and future panels of the appeals court
  • the panels errors were many and obvious . . . and stands contrary to well-established separation-of-powers principles
  • they even wrote a little about public discourse and personal attacks on the Justices

Now, with the Hawaii decision on Travel Ban 2.0, which if appealed, is also in the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. The outcome of any appeal could rest on which three individual Justices are selected to hear the appeal. Whatever the results of any appeal, it will surely be further appealed to the US Supreme Court.

Enjoy reading this letter, which starts on page 2:

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Marshall’s Mayor Sanders leads charge to give away your tax money –

MARSHALL, IL. (ECWd) –

During the February 27, 2017 Marshall City Council Meeting, the majority of the council voted to misappropriate another $5000 of your hard-earned tax dollars and give it to a private cemetery.

We heard comments like: “our residents are buried there” – “there are veterans buried there” – and “our attorney said it was OK” – but none of those pitiful excuses can legalize what is already illegal.

Mayor Sanders claimed they should vote yes on this theft because the Watchdogs wrote about something else last year, so since, in his eyes, if the council wrongly voted last year on something else, it was perfectly OK for them to wrongly vote on this item. Of course this has nothing to do with his connections to this nonprofit where he was on its board for years prior to being elected Mayor – and that’s when these unauthorized gifts of taxpayer money began.

Eventually someone will sue the city and recover all of these funds from the cemetery, which may bankrupt the cemetery, but it’s not like they haven’t been warned.

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COD Motions for Interlocutory Appeal v. Breuder –

DuPage Co., IL. (ECWd) –

On March 17, 2017, the College of DuPage filed a 9-page Motion to Certify For Interlocutory Appeal the denial of the College’s Motion to Dismiss on the basis that Dr. Breuder’s contract was void ab initio.

The core issues identified for appeal involve important issues of Illinois state law. Hopefully, the trial court will grant this motion and allow the US Court of Appeals to more fully analyze Illinois State statutes, Illinois Common Law and hopefully reverse those portions of the trial court ruling which were adverse to COD.

They asked the Court three questions:

  1. Whether, under Illinois law, a board of trustees can tie the hands of future boards to hire or fire an administrator;
  2. Whether, under Illinois law, a board of trustees can enter into an employment agreement requiring all board members’ presence at a termination hearing and a supermajority to vote to terminate: and
  3. Whether, under Illinois law, a Board can agree to extend an employment agreement based entirely on action taken in closed session.

We had already voiced our opinions on these questions long before any lawsuit was filed, and they are that:

  • Unless the legislature specifically permitted contracts extending beyond the board’s tenure, they cannot be valid. An example of Legislative permission is a Water District Director, who can contract for 5 years according to the Water District Code – there are others, but we will use this one.
  • Unless the Legislature specifically stated that all board members must be present and a supermajority vote required to terminate, the contract is invalid. An example of this is the Water District Code again, where the Legislature requires a unanimous vote of all board members to terminate a Director of a Water District.
  • Actions taken in closed session are voidable according to the Illinois Open Meetings Act and you cannot contract around the OMA’s requirements.

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Village of Chatham Mayoral Candidate Craig Law

Sangamon Co. (ECWd) –

Craig Law, a current Sangamon County Sheriff Deputy and Candidate for Mayor in the Village of Chatham is running for Mayor on a platform of “Professionalism”, based on what appears to be his twenty-one years in law enforcement.

“Professionalism: Twenty-one years in law enforcement have taught me about doing things the right way. Chatham residents deserve to have a village president who emphasizes professionalism and respect for employees and those they serve.”

For those that have ever paid attention to how a criminal defense attorney prepares his defense, you’re aware one key way is to discredit the arresting officer.  How do you do that?  You just identify situations where the officer has not followed the law himself or done things the “right way”.  Nail either one of those down and presto; you have discredited the police.

What does “doing things the right way “really mean to Craig Law?  If I were a defense attorney attempting to discredit him, the first thing I would dive into would be anything he filed to run for office.  The reason being, those filings are controlled by law and contain signatures under oath.

I have obtained Law’s filings to run in this election and we find that there is a significant problem.  A problem that I brought to his attention back in December to include a request that he remove himself from the election.  To date, I have not received any response.

Why did I request he remove himself from the election?  Because I believe when an officer of the law removes his election petition papers from the public body, then alters them, and turns them back in with no updated notary, it shows a willingness to disregard the law.  To me, that is unacceptable for a person wanting to be the Mayor of a community who claims to be a Professional and credits his 21 years in law enforcement having taught him about doing the right thing.

10 ILCS 5/10-4 -…“A petition, when presented or filed, shall not be withdrawn, altered, or added to,..”

It is clear, comparing the two sets of records we obtained, Mr. Law’s papers were withdrawn, altered, and turned back in.  That appears to be a violation of the election law.

Specifically,

  • First set of papers” Filed 11/22/2016 at 2:29 pm
  • The second set of papers Filed 11/28/2016 at 9:19 am
  • The first set of signatures is the same as the second set, which means they are the same documents.
  • Both sets appear to be identical other than alterations made to the second set.
  • First set, no file date for Statement of Economic Interest
  • Second set Statement of Economic Interest file date stamp now appears.
  • Second Set, Statement of Candidacy has a changed election date, yet the same notary, which means changes were made after they were notarized!
  • Same notary on all documents, thus no new notary after changes made.
  • Date of the election changed from the first set to the second set.

Officer Law, have you ever withdrawn petition documents you turned in to run for office? 

Officer Law, election law states a  petition, when presented or filed, shall not be withdrawn. How do you explain the changes to what is clearly two sets of identical petitions but with modifications made to the second set?

Officer Law, isn’t it true those changes came after you withdrew your papers because you became aware of mistakes on them?

Officer Law, have you ever altered election documents after they were notarized and then turn them back into the Village Clerk?

Officer Law, are such actions consistent with your idea of doing the right thing?

Some may see this as trivial.  We see it as an apparent violation of our election laws by one who is employed to enforce our laws. Considering this candidate stands on doing things the right way, is it asking too much to hold him to his own standard?  If he can’t follow the simple process of filling out election papers properly we can only wonder how things will be done if he becomes the Mayor.

We raised this issue because one of the other Candidates found themselves in a similar situation and actually did the right thing.  We wrote about it in this article.   When one person can figure it out and do it the right way we should expect nothing less from another who also wants to be your Mayor.

Vote Smart, not emotionally!

 




City of Carlinville refuses to answer Attorney General’s inquiry on records denial –

CARLINVILLE, IL. (ECWd) –

From all appearances, the City of Carlinville thinks they don’t have to comply with the Freedom of Information Act.

First, they wrongly tried to extort $200 from me to answer a FOIA request by wrongly claiming my request for public records was for a “commercial purpose” -we covered that in a previous article.

After receiving that letter I filed for a Request For Review of a FOIA denial thru the Illinois Attorney General’s Public Access Counselor (“PAC”) asking them to look into the wrongful denial of public records.

The PAC sent a letter of inquiry on February 22, 2017 to the city attorney, Mr. Daniel P. Schuering of Schuering Law, asking for the city to explain their position on why I was labeled as a commercial requester.

On March 1, 2017, the attorney telephoned the PAC asking for an extension of time to respond, and the PAC denied the extension because the law does not allow for an extension of time. Seven days is the required response time to the PAC’s letter of inquiry.

Today, the PAC sent another letter to the city’s attorney asking for their response to the February 22, 2017 letter.

It is now clear the City of Carlinville will do whatever it takes to hide the records I requested, and I didn’t request much – mainly petition sheets and agendas, minutes, and recordings for the electoral board meetings.

Again I have to ask, what is so important to them that they go to these lengths to hide it?

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Village of Chatham – is Mayor Gray lying, or the paper? -Improper FOIA denial

  1. Sangamon Co. (ECWd -)

It appears the job of fact checking is once again left to independent citizens who have had their fill of misleading information published in the media.

This is a case where either the Mayor was not truthful with the reporter or the reporter fabricated the information.

This News Article, relating to the resident survey in Chatham, reported a statement made by Mayor Gray

“Village President Tom Gray said he understands that there are problems, but he’s also received emails that speak positively about the water.”

Mayoral Candidate Darlene Judd followed up on the reporting and submitted an FOIA to the Village of Chatham for the e-mails the Mayor received that speak positively about the water.

The response is most telling.

“I spoke with President Gray and he does not recall making such a statement, nor is he aware of any such emails.”

So not only does he not recall making the statement reported by the State Journal-Register but he claims he is not aware of any such emails.

For those that have not followed the water problems in Chatham, this bit of information is most disturbing because we have the mainstream local press reporting statements made by the Mayor to include his claim he has received positive emails about the water, but when held accountable to that claimed statement, not only does he not produce them, he claims he is not aware of any emails.

Or, is this a case of selective wording.  He does not recall making the statement and he is not aware of any such emails.  That is not the same as stating he did not say what was reported, nor is it a denial that such emails exist.

I would urge Mayoral Candidate Judd to file a request for review with the Attorney General Public Access Counselor to get to the bottom of this.

The FOIA response from Pat Schad is improper in our opinion as a FOIA request is not a request for Pat Schad to ask the Mayor if he said something or not. A FOIA Officer is supposed to do a proper search for the records requested.  His response makes it clear no such search was made.  He simply got a verbal from the Mayor that he does not recall any emails and closed out the FOIA request.

I suspect the AG PAC office would initiate a request for review and the first thing they would ask is what search process did they do for the records requested.

But then again, we can’t rule out the paper fabricating Mayor Gray’s comments, although I highly doubt that to be the case.

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Update: Lisle Woman Accused of Forging Petitions for Seat on College of DuPage Board of Trustees

DuPage Co., IL. (ECWd) –

Press Release

Contact Information: Media Coordinator: 630-407-8160

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Lisle Woman Accused of Forging Petitions for Seat on COD Board of Trustees

      DuPage County State’s Attorney Robert B. Berlin announced today that Rafath Waheed, 61 (d.o.b. 7/21/1955) of 6193 Hickory Drive, Lisle, has been charged with submitting forged petitions to earn a seat on the College of DuPage (COD) Board of Trustees. On March 14, 2017, a $10,000 with 10% to apply arrest warrant was issued for Waheed. Last night, Waheed turned herself in to authorities and was released after posting the necessary $1,000, or 10%, of her $10,000 bond.

It is alleged prior to December 19, 2016, Waheed collected signatures on petitions for her to apply as a candidate for the COD Board of Trustees. It is further alleged that at some point in time, Waheed made photocopies of two completed signature portions of the petitions and then completed the candidate information by hand. It is further alleged that she then notarized those petitions as authentic. It is alleged that Waheed then filed these petitions, along with the originals, with the proper COD authorities. Her alleged scheme was uncovered during a hearing on an objection that was filed against her petitions.

“The bedrock of our entire system of government is free and fair elections,” Berlin said. “It is alleged that Mrs. Waheed, in an effort to win a seat on the COD Board of Trustees, attempted to circumvent one of the basic requirements for candidacy – filing petitions with the correct number of authentic signatures. I would like to thank investigator Jim Duffy as well as Assistant State’s Attorney Diane Michalak for their work on this case.”

In all, Waheed is charged with two counts of Forgery, two counts of Issuing a Forged Document and four counts of Perjury. All offenses are a Class 3 Felony.

Waheed’s next court appearance is scheduled for April 12, 2017, in front of Judge Liam Brennan.

Members of the public are reminded that this complaint contains only charges and is not proof of the defendant’s guilt. A defendant is presumed innocent and is entitled to a fair trial in which it is the government’s burden to prove her or her guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

DuPage County State’s Attorney Press Release (here)
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UPDATE:

We reported on this incident when it originally happened, to include posting a link to the video of the College of Dupage Electoral Board Hearing.

College of DuPage – Candidate admits photo-copying petitions-blames COD for her failure to comply with law

In the Electoral Board Hearing, Rafath Waheed blamed COD citing, obfuscation of the electoral process” on the part of COD as it relates to her not filing a statement of candidacy. You can see that statement at the 48:40 mark of this video.  For those not familiar with the meaning of the word obfuscation; “the action of making something obscure, unclear, or unintelligible.” 

In addition to blaming the school for her non-compliance, she admitted under oath to being the one who copied petitions and then signed them and had them notarized affirming they were original signatures, which they were not, just as we said in our first article on this.

57:25 of the video is where the information comes to light regarding the copies of petitions being submitted.  The candidate first claims she DID not photocopy them and then when questioned further admits she did and that no one else was given her papers.

After about 30 minutes of creating  excuses and eventually admitting to things she did – made copies of signatures and turned them in, she reads a prepared statement which was her withdrawal from the race. You can watch that starting at the 1:19:04 mark of the video.
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Watchdog sues Coles County for Public Records –

COLES CO., IL. (ECWd) –

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

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

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

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

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

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


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Paris Area Chamber of Commerce President Arrested for DWI –

PARIS, IL. (ECWd) –

Randy Peterson, the current President of the Board of the Paris Area Chamber of Commerce was arrested on March 5, 2017, in Clinton, Indiana on the charge of Operating a Vehicle While Intoxicated.

According to a Clinton, Indiana newspaper clip we were sent, he was pulled over by Clinton Police Officer Dustin Wall at 3:40 a.m. on Sunday morning, March 5, 2017. His Blood-Alcohol-Content (“BAC”) registered at .203 which is more than 2 and 1/2 times the legal limit – taken to the Vermillion County Indiana Jail and released after posting $9,000.00 bond.

This is not his first DUI, but it appears he gets drunker on every one: Past article located here.

Let’s hope he doesn’t kill someone, or worse, an entire family, the next time he thinks his “alleged” drunk driving is more important than the lives of our children, mothers and fathers, and grandparents who may have the misfortune to confront a drunk on the roads.

This is unacceptable.

We are working on obtaining the charge sheet and mug shot from the Vermillion County Sheriff’s department and will update it when available.
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Orland Park Public Library Calls Police on Black Man Watching Young Girls

Orland Park, Illinois (ECWd) –

An odd incident report was written on February 9th by Orland Park Public Library employee Howard Griffin, documenting a recent episode involving an adult male allegedly watching and leaving a note for three high school girls; the note allegedly asked the girls to “contact him.”

This official OPPL incident report (obtained via the Freedom of Information Act) made a point of identifying the race of the man involved as being black. Orland Park is an affluent suburb of Chicago that is approximately 96% white.

Library Director Mary Weimar (who is herself white) chose to contact the Orland Park Police about this black man in her library on the morning of February 10th and no less than 3 patrolmen were promptly dispatched to the OPPL. Apparently, the black man had returned to the OPPL a second day in a row. According to the report, Responding Officer Hartstock (Badge #724) and the two other policemen spoke with the unidentified black male for an unspecified length of time but took no action against him.

Contrast this episode with how Mary Weimar behaved 6 years ago, when in March 2011 an adult white male was observed by three witnesses accessing child pornography on the OPPL’s computers. In that instance (which is detailed fully in Chapter 12 of the book, SHUT UP!: The Bizarre War that One Public Library Waged Against the First Amendment), Weimar and fellow OPPL staff chose not to call the police and they allowed the man to return and access computers again, despite his being identified by three witnesses as someone who was looking at child pornography in their Library (which is an obvious federal crime). But here in February 2017, a black man allegedly “watching” three high schoolers and leaving them a note prompted Weimar to call for the police to come to the Library (when this man’s alleged behavior was not obviously criminal in any way). Did the race of the subject involved factor into Weimar’s decision-making here? Or is this an indication that Weimar has possibly learned from her egregious past mistakes and now calls the police if there’s even a question that something bad could be happening in her Library?

It’s clear that Mary Weimar and the other OPPL staffers made a horrific and stomach-turning decision to knowingly allow that man in 2011 to get away with accessing child pornography on public computers. For many years, Weimar and the OPPL Board of Trustees refused to acknowledge that they were wrong to have chosen not to call the police when they should have. Since a grown man has no business hanging out in a public building “watching” three high school girls and leaving them notes, it seems appropriate that the OPPL would contact the police and let them know about this individual. Other incident reports written by OPPL staffers through the years detailed episodes where young women were stalked and sexually harassed by men in this Library. It would appear that the OPPL staff are now taking appropriate action when informed that something creepy could possibly be going-on in their building (at least in instances where the creepy person happens to be black).

This change at the OPPL would likely have never happened if the public had not actively scrutinized and criticized the OPPL staff’s behavior through the years. Mary Weimar was transformed from a director who knowingly looked the other way when crimes against children were being committed in her building to someone who phones the police and asks them to intervene when something even remotely suspicious is happening. That sort of progress would have never happened on its own. It took public interest in the goings-on at that Library and loud public condemnation of poor judgement and mismanagement in the past for a public employee like Weimar to make such a 180-degree change in behavior.

It remains to be seen if all situations involving inappropriate conduct are handled properly at the Orland Park Public Library going-forward or if this February 9th episode was just a fluke dependent on the race of the subject involved. But it seems clear that calling the police and having them weigh-in on and speak with parties involved in anything remotely sexual happening in a public building is always the right move. If the police determine that no further action is warranted, it was still smarter to let them be the judge of that than deciding (as Mary Weimar had done in the past) to look the other way, ignore a problem, and pretend it was not happening in the library.

Download (PDF, 515KB)

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ILETSB – Police Academy Directors properly approved, or rubber stamped?

Illinois (ECWd) –

January of this year we exposed the failures of the ILETSB as it relates to the performance of their mandated duties of approving the Directors of our state’s Police Academies.

We also reported in January in this article the following:

Friday the 13th, 2017, the US Department of Justice released a scathing report that should alarm every Illinois resident and taxpayer.   The report was on the Chicago Police Department (CPD) and can be viewed here. Although the Chicago Police Department was the primary target of USDOJ’s stinging criticism,  the State of Illinois shares much of the blame, and in particular the pathetic work of the Illinois Law Enforcement Training and Standards Board (ILETSB), the official state agency that is charged with certifying and  monitoring all law enforcement training academies in the State of Illinois, including CPD’s training facility.

Today I received the response to yet another FOIA request for approvals of our Police Academy Directors and the results, on one hand are appreciated, yet on the other appear to still point to a feckless operation known as the ILSETB.

As can be seen below, we now have every Police Academy Director in the state of Illinois approved by the ILETSB Executive Director.  I now call for the termination of Bent Fischer as the Executive Director of the ILETSB.  Some will find this harsh since he has finally done his job, however, the devil’s in the details.

What did the USDOJ say about the Chicago PD?

The USDOJ Report noted that CPD uses a 35-year-old videotape (see page 98), to train new recruits on the use of lethal/deadly force.   According to the USDOJ, this videotape contained outdated standards and conditions for when police officers can justifiably use lethal force.  The USDOJ report noted that key aspects of the 35-year-old CPD training tape are unlawful and were overruled by the US Supreme Court.  Sadly, the Illinois Law Enforcement Training and Standards Board was asleep at the switch; they failed to stop the CPD from using this outdated video that taught unconstitutional methods on the use of lethal and deadly force. Sadly, Illinois citizens were then shot and killed by CPD police officers because the Illinois Law Enforcement Training and Standards Board failed to do its job.  In this regard, this state board failed to protect the public and the citizens of Chicago.

The USDOJ further observed that only 1 out of 6 CPD police recruits could properly articulate the correct legal standard for when lethal/deadly force can be used.  Shockingly, this means that 5 out of 6  (or 83.3%) of CPD cadets got that life and death question wrong.  Think about that statistic–83.3% of CPD cadets don’t know that law when it comes to the use of lethal force.  That is a chilling and truly scary statistic.

USDOJ investigators also found current CPD law enforcement cadets were asleep in class when the topic of the proper use of lethal force was addressed in the classroom.

So what does all that have to do with the ILETSB and their approval of our Police Acadamy Directors?

How can a Director of Training that was responsible for training in the Chicago Police Department since October of 2013 be approved in light of the US Department of Justice findings?

All indications, based on the dates of the letters and the dates on the first paragraphs of those letters, point to nothing more than a rubber stamping of their approval after being exposed for not doing their job.

Police Academy Director appointments by date:

  • Southwestern Illinois College Police Academy appointed Director in 2007
  • University of Illinois Police Training Institute appointed Director in 2013
  • Chicago Police Department Education & Training Director appointed Director in 2013
  • St. Clair County Sheriffs Department Corrections Academy appointed Director in 2015
  • Cook County Sheriffs Bureau of Training & Education appointed Director in 2015
  • Illinois State Police Academy appointed Director in February of 2016
  • Suburban Law Enforcement Academy Director Appointed February of 2017

The ILETSB has failed to do their job of ensuring their Executive Directors did theirs. The record shows this agency has never approved Directors of Police Academies in the past and have now rubber-stamped all of them on the same day, March 3rd, 2017, which is as much as ten years past due based on dates contained in the letters below.

Only in Illinois would a state agency approve a Police Academy Director who was on the receiving end of a scathing USDOJ report exposing massive failures.

Who is running this asylum?

Download (PDF, 10.83MB)

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Clark County Park District Settles Open Meetings Lawsuit, Writes Check –

CLARK CO., IL. (ECWd) –

The Clark County park District recently settled the Open Meetings Act lawsuit after their complete defeat at the Appellate Court earlier this year.

The suit was filed after the park board decided it would vote on two items without informing the public present at the meeting what they were actually voting on. The Circuit Court agreed with the park district, we appealed, and the Appellate Court overturned the Circuit Court siding with us with a unanimous vote, sending it back to the lower court for further hearings.

For the voters in the Park District – this is what has been running your park district for far too long. They thought they could do what they wanted to do without any repercussions – but when taken to the Appellate Court level, we believe justice was served and this district got the ruling that should have been ruled at the circuit level.

All the district had to do in the first place was hold a proper meeting, have a proper agenda, and take a proper vote. Instead, they chose to spend well over $15,000 of your money fighting it out in court, only to settle after the unanimous Appellate Court decision in our favor.

Settlement below:

Download (PDF, 462KB)

 




City of Carlinville pays Attorney $481 to shakedown $200 from FOIA Requester –

CARLINVILLE, IL. (ECWd) –

From all appearances, the City of Carlinville, and by extension its Mayor Deanna Demuzio, has decided to spend money on an attorney instead of properly replying to a Freedom Of Information Act request. This has cost the taxpayers of Carlinville at least two-and-a-half times the amount of fees they are trying to shake me down for, for copies of requested public records.

Here’s how it is working:

A petition objection was filed against the incumbent Mayor alleging she campaigned for petition signatures in the city’s buildings, among other things, and used those signatures as part of her reelection petition package.

On January 16, 2017 I submitted a Freedom Of Information Act (“FOIA”) request for public records consisting of copies of the recorded Municipal Electoral Board Hearings, copies of petitions, copies of other correspondence, and copies of their Electoral Board’s meeting notices, minutes, and agendas.

According to the invoice from Schuering Law, they charged the City of Carlinville $481.25 to “review” my FOIA request and draft a letter to me. They did this part in a timely manner and within two days of receiving the request for records. However, they did not respond to the request, I did not receive any records, and I did not receive any letter until nearly a full month later.

It took Schuering Law 2.95 hours and $481.25 to “review” my FOIA and fail to respond to it. They could have simply copied and sent the requested records in far less time.

On February 14, 2017, Schuering Law signed and mailed a letter to me claiming the city had determined my request was a commercial request, stated they would take 35 days to respond to it, and that I had to pay $200 up front before they gathered any of the requested records.

As a refresher, FOIA requires the public body respond to an FOIA request within 5 business days after receipt of the request. Failing to do that violates Section 3(d) of FOIA. See Attorney General Binding Opinions No’s: 14-011, 14-014, 15-011, 15-012, 15-013, 16-001, 16-003, 16-004, 16-005, 16-010, and 16-011.

It appears that one of two things have happened here; either the city (Mayor Deanna Demuzio) intentionally held the records by themselves, or the attorney convinced them to hold the records. In either case, it appears their intent is to keep the press from writing about alleged complaints of their electoral board hearing process and of the incumbent Mayor’s petition sheets.

Commercial Request:  The very definition of a request for commercial purposes exempts news media and non-profit, among others, from their requests being classified as a commercial request. My original FOIA request clearly indicated it was not a commercial request and that I qualified as “news media” as that term is defined in the Act.

To put it simply, the City of Carlinville cannot classify my request for public records as a commercial request, or a request for commercial purposes. This is clearly an attempt at avoiding providing these records until after the upcoming election where the incumbent Mayor has opposing candidates on the ballot.

Now they have incurred more debt in relation to this FOIA request by presumably paying their attorney to answer an inquiry from the Illinois Attorney General’s Public Access Counselor (“PAC”). They will spend more taxpayer funds hiding these records before it is over, and they will provide the records without shaking me down for $200.

I suggest the elected city council members refuse to pay any more invoices related to keeping these public records from the public.

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Carlinville’s FOIA Denial and labeling as a Commercial request:

Download (PDF, 130KB)

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My response to their denial:

Download (PDF, 39KB)

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My request for Review sent to the PAC:

Download (PDF, 137KB)

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PAC’s (2017 PAC 46424) letter of inquiry to the City of Carlinville:

Download (PDF, 121KB)


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College of DuPage makes history- SLEA Director approved by ILETSB

DuPage Co. (ECWd) –

For the first time in the history of COD, the SLEA Director has been approved by the ILETSB. 

We first reported on the Suburban Law Enforcement Academy at the College of Dupage (COD) as it related to issuing credit hours to academy cadets two years ago.  That issue later became the primary focus of the Higher Learning Commission who later placed COD on Probation as it relates to their accreditation. Our reporting on HLC’s findings can be found here.

Our question for over a year has been, who is in charge and have they been approved. As in, who is the Director of SLEA and have they ever been approved as required by law?  We were unable to get any such approval records from COD even though they had just recently hired a new Director.  Initially, the Illinois Law Enforcement Training and Standards Board (ILETSB) was also unable to produce any such approvals, even though they are the agency tasked with the obligation of approving all the Directors in our State’s Police Academies.  What was most disturbing was the fact the ILETSB had never approved any Directors and they informed us “we have never done that”.

After writing numerous articles about the ILETSB’s failure in performing their obligations, we once again asked for approval records for the newly hired COD SLEA Director.

Clearly, our FOIA, that pointed to the appropriate Administrative Code, is what forced the ILETSB Executive Director to comply with the law. This is yet another example of how the Freedom of Information Act is a law that is not just about getting copies of records but can trigger a government agency to do the job they are paid to do.   By asking for records that pertain to a public body’s obligations, it brings their statutory obligations to the forefront.

Our first example of this fact was exposed in this article in which our FOIA triggered the same agency, ILETSB, to fulfill their obligations as it related to County Sheriff’s training obligations.

We are pleased to see that the ILETSB finally performed their obligations and provided the mandated approval for the newly hired COD SLEA Director Raymon Cordell.

We have asked for the same approvals for all other Police Academy Directors and hope that those approvals have finally been taken care of.  If they have not, it’s time for resignations at that agency.

Download (PDF, 71KB)

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Shelbyville Township – Township Democrat Campaign Flyer –

piquedShelby Co. (ECWd) –

It’s silly season once again and it should be no surprise we once again are looking at Shelbyville Township as it relates to the current Township Officials and their recent campaign flyer (b/w pic from flyer). The short video speaks for itself but we will go into more detail below.

Before we dive into each bullet point, read the closing request on their campaign flyer and let that sink in as you read the rest of the article.

“We appreciate the support you have given us in the past and your vote once again would insure the continuation of these policies and programs.”

Let’s look at some of the claims this group is making, apply some facts to the statements, and then maybe you can make informed decisions this electoin cycle.

  • Maintained a balanced budget in all accounts and have kept the Township debt free.

How can you have a balanced budget when you take money from one fund when it was never budgeted for such a transfer?  In 2014-2015 fiscal year budget there was nothing entered for a transfer yet they transferred $20,000.00 from that fund.  In the 2015-2016 fiscal year budget, we find the same thing.  No budget transfer listed yet $10,000.00 was transferred from it.  Most public officials know you can’t spend money that was not budgeted.   I would argue removing funds from an account of which such amounts were not budgeted is not exactly maintaining a balanced budget in all accounts! (Budget-Transfer Resolution-Actual transfer spreadsheet created from the Annual Report)

As far as the debt-free claim, I don’t suspect that would be hard for anyone to do considering they are taxing at limits far exceeding the Supreme Court’s formula for determining excess taxation. We covered excessive taxation and fund balances in this article.

In addition, comparing the two unaudited reports, Township Supervisor’s Annual Financial Report and the Illinois Comptroller Annual Financial Report, we have found some rather large discrepancies.  They are sufficient enough that we have asked an Accountant to prepare a report on it.  We will report on them separately once we receive the report. This discrepancy was raised with them during public comment at their last meeting.

  • Efficiently maintained the roads, bridges, and cemeteries in Shelbyville Township added a new section to Oak Grove Cemetery, Jordan Cemetery. And Mt. Carmel Cemetery and built new fencing around all cemeteries in the township.

And managed to do all that while increasing the Road District tax levy every year for the last three years and transferring $30,000.00 out of the cemetery fund without ever budgeting it.  Huh, are these accomplishments another indicator of excess taxation?

  • Administered an effective General Assistance Program for the needy.

This one piqued my interest.  I guess you have to define effective.  I can only assume, based on what I have been told, to these officials, “effective” is giving money to anyone that walks in the door and says they need it, which is what has taken place.  I was told they have never turned anyone down for General Assistance.  If that is the case, I think a forensic audit is in order as most townships find the majority of those seeking general assistance are already on some other assistance program and if that is they case they do not qualify for General Assistance.

All that aside, how effective is their administration of this program when they illegally transferred $55,000.00 away from this public aid program and used it for other purposes?  Only after we exposed those actions was some of the money returned ($35,000.00) with a promise at the last meeting to return the remaining $20,000.00.  We first covered this issue in this article.

  • Actively supported the older members of the community through the Senior Citizen’s organization.

My hats off to them for this one but I guess it’s easier to stop this type of support than it is to comply with the requirements of the programs.  The board decided to stop all donations yet they use donations as a battle cry to get re-elected?  Only in Illinois!

  • Actively supported many youth groups in the township.

Yep, they sure did.  So much so that once the public was made aware of $93,000.00 of their tax money going out the door, they hired an attorney and sent a cease & desist notice that such donations can not continue unless done so within the guidelines of the law.  Instead of continuing legal donations, they stopped them all together.

  • Given assistance to our Veteran’s Organizations.

Being a Veteran, I appreciate support for our Veteran’s, however, we could not find anything in the Township statute that permitted giving money to Veteran’s Organizations, which would indicate they were giving taxpayer money away without legal authority.  Most Veteran’s I know support a government that follows the law, which is all we ever asked.

  • Preserved a tax rate at 9% and we are opposed to tax and salary increases.

Now this one is where it gets interesting.  I don’t know what 9% tax rate they are referring to as that number does not appear anywhere in the Tax Extension Report we received from the County.  What does become problematic with their claim is this spreadsheet of their tax levies created from the public records included at the link below.

The facts show the Township and Road Districts combined taxes have risen the last three years.  Kind of hard to claim you’re opposed to tax increases when your own tax levy paperwork shows you have increased taxes the last three years.

As far as opposed to salary increases, let’s start by saying no one on this board took issue with the illegal hiring of one of their own board members to be an employee, which increased his take to a total three times his board pay.  In addition, I can’t imagine anyone would want a salary increase when they are making $4,500.00 a year, which is $375.00 per meeting, of which they have 12 of them.  The last meeting was about 17 minutes long.   Let that sink in.

The Township Supervisor is bringing down $16,800.oo so I suspect he too is comfortable enough with the part-time salary not increasing.  As a comparison, our Township trustees make $25 a meeting, which was decreased prior to the last election from $35 a meeting because they felt guilty making that much an hour, which is how long the meetings typically take.  The Supervisor makes $3,600 a year.

What did this group say in their campaign flyer again?

“We appreciate the support you have given us in the past and your vote once again would insure the continuation of these policies and programs.

They might first want to use the power of Google to learn the difference between insure and ensure as I believe they want to “ensure” the continuation of their policies and programs.

I wonder how they can ensure the continuation of at least three of their programs when they said they are not going to donate anymore?

If the taxpayers of Shelbyville are so inclined to support the actions of this group, then so be it!  You get what you vote for.  We simply want those who do vote to do so with an informed understanding of what they are voting for instead of the typical blind support we see in small community elections.

Download (PDF, 295KB)

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Shelbyville Township – Cease & Desist issued – Legal opinion validates ECWd findings

UDPATED

Shelby Co. (ECWd) –

We were tipped off this week about a Cease & Desist letter sent to the Shelbyville Township Supervisor and the Township attorney.  I did confirm with the Township attorney that the letter was authentic and she informed us the issue of donations is dead as the board decided to stop the donations.

I asked the following question: “I understand the Supervisor said there would be no more donations but when did the board make this decision?”

The response from their attorney: “It has just not been requested to be on the agenda. I Suppose it could be in the future”

After receiving clarification as to when this decision was made, the attorney’s comments on the board decision was tied to the Supervisor, speaking for the board when he stated there will be no more donations.  Thus there was not actually a board decision that took place behind closed doors but rather an announcement by the Supervisor that there would no further donations.

We also confirmed the Cease and Desist letter was provided to the attorney prior to the meeting this week, however, the letter was not mentioned or discussed during any portion of the meeting.  The Supervisor did say that they have stopped the donations during my public comment portion of the meeting. As you will see in the video, we point out that provided statutory obligations are met, some donations are legal.
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We also provided a four-page legal opinion to the Township Attorney which we obtained just after the Township’s last meeting. We sought the opinion so that we would have an opinion, regardless of what that opinion was, in writing.  I think this written legal opinion and the Cease and Desist letter makes it clear, just as we pointed out in this article, certain statutory criteria must be met when giving away tax dollars.

We can only assume that since the board decided to no longer donate taxpayer money to whomever they want, these letters drove the message home that what they were doing was not consistent with the law.

Cease & Desist letter

Download (PDF, 400KB)

Written Legal Opinoin on Donations

Download (PDF, 74KB)

 

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Former LaSalle County State’s Attorney Brian Towne’s political games failed –

LaSalle Co. (ECWd) –

July Ajster, a local attorney who stood up to former LaSalle County State’s Attorney Brian Towne, was the subject of multiple political Facebook posts and reminders in newspaper articles during the last election with claims of perjury.  Brian Towne made sure to let the world know that this particular attorney, who had become a thorn in his side, was facing perjury charges, insinuating that you could not believe what she says.  Towne supporters also dog-piled the perjury message on the internet in an effort to discredit the truths being told by Ajster regarding Brian Towne and his questionable actions as Prosecutor. You could not pick up a local paper or read Facebook without people implying Ajster was a criminal because of the perjury charges.

Those charges were from the Appellate Prosecutor’s office, which Brian Towne just happen to be the Chairman of the Board for that agency at the time in question.  Do we need to mention he got hired by that very agency after he lost the election? The charge from the Appellate Prosecutors office had all the fragrance of a political favor and it would appear that was the case after reading the motion filed in court.

Today a motion to nolle prosequi was filed in the case and the courts ordered the case closed!

Nolle Prosequi – “Latin Latin for “we shall no longer prosecute,” which is a declaration made to the judge by a prosecutor in a criminal case (or by a plaintiff in a civil lawsuit) either before or during trial, meaning the case against the defendant is being dropped. The statement is an admission that the charges cannot be proved, that evidence has demonstrated either innocence or a fatal flaw in the prosecution’s claim or the district attorney has become convinced the accused is innocent.

We find the prosecutor’s filing most interesting and can only wonder if Brian Towne’s influence to have this case prosecuted has deeper political roots?

“It is noteworthy that the prosecution made a request for an appointment to interview Judge Jansz as a material witness in this case and the request was denied.  I  was told by a court administrator that Jansz would not agree to meet with me and any questions I may have should be resolved by the record. Based on reading the record of the two bond hearings and the failure of Jansz to agree to be interviewed by the prosecution in reviewing this case, there is no evidence that Jansz even read Ajster’s affidavit from April 29, 2015. In addition, Ajster never made any arguments to the Court during the two bond court hearings about the statements Brett King had allegedly made to her when making her argument in support of French’s bond reduction.”

“It is also noteworthy that the first special prosecutor, Dave Neal, alleged that the first count of perjury occurred on April 29, 2015, yet, he did not seek a bill of indictment until November 3, 2015, for two counts of perjury, both class 3 felonies. It was also unusual that a warrant was not issued for Ajster’s  arrest and a summons was issued to notify her of the first court date of December 3, 2015.

Reading this filing appears justice has been served as it relates to the allegations against Julie Ajster, however the bigger question we have is will Brian Towne ever have to answer for the inappropriate spending and distribution of county funds that clearly led to his losing of the election.

Download (PDF, 2.8MB)




Kankakee Valley Airport Authority – ICE Project getting exposed-

Kankakee Co. (ECWd) –

Last month while exposing the activities at the Kankakee Valley Airport that led to the resignations of both a board member and the board’s attorney, we noticed an agenda item called ICE Project.

We had been preparing a story on this agenda item as who knew this Airport was a hub for what appears to be immigration deportations.  I received a text today telling me to read the Chicago Tribune article that just hit the street.

We got punked….to a degree. 

The Tribune story focused on a “lack of transparency in the sudden move of the Chicago area’s processing point for those being forced from the country.”

We think the bigger story may be the fact this move has been in play for months and our attendance at a recent meeting proved most valuable.  Turns out the Illinois Department of Transportation, Division of Aeronautics, KKVA, and our legislators are all working feverishly to capture federal funding to build up the airport runways to an MD-80 Standard.  MD-80 is a model of aircraft that can hold as many as 172 passengers, or in this case deportees.

It would appear there are big plans for this airport as it relates to future ICE transports of those swept up in ICE operations.  During the meeting, it was referenced that some of those folks are already being detained at the County Detention center which is conveniently right next to the Airport.

We knew the agenda item ICE Project was an important story, especially after listening to the discussion during the meeting with the State Representative Lindsey Parkhurst . We only wish we would have gotten to it before the Tribune but at least we got beat by Jodi Cohen, a great reporter that helped to expose the College of DuPage scandals that are still under state and federal criminal investigations.

The portion of the KKVA Aiport meeting on the ICE Project can be viewed below.

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“Mulchgate” – Claims in Committee Hearing proven false!

DuPage Co. (ECWd) –

Representative Peter Breen testified in support of his wood chip bill on behalf of his constituents a few weeks ago and we now have proof many portions of his testimony was based on either false information and/or in some cases what appear to be outright lies as it relates to the claim his township is spending money getting rid of wood chips.

1:40 mark of the video “What would happen at the end of the season is the township would have to pay a waste hauler to take that pile of wood chips off to a landfill

We filed a Freedom of Information Act request to his Township for a copy of applicable documents to either prove or disprove his testimony which was “that the township would have to pay a waste hauler to take that pile of wood chips off to a landfill. “

Our FOIA

  • A copy of any payments made for the purpose of disposal of wood chips and/or mulch to any landfill in the last 12 months. This would include any payment for trucking, hauling, pickup, delivery, as well as actual payment to the landfill.
  • A copy of any receipt for expenses related to any of the above-referenced payments of landfilling wood chips and/or mulch in the last 12 months.

Their Response

“There are no documents responsive to your request”

That means there have been no payments, contrary to the oral testimony at the hearing!

That fact alone should convince every person in that committee that this bill is not being represented with truth but instead false information. In fact, our findings were so extensive it took two articles to get the information to the public, here and here

Representative Tom Bennett asked Representative Breen the following at the 15:45 mark of the video.

“One other question if I may, you’re saying at the end of the season might be a big pile just sitting there and they pay somebody to take that to somewhere else?

Representative Breen responds:

“I understand, as it was told to me, we are taking it to a landfill, literally having to pay someone to take a large pile of wood chips to a landfill.(15:58 mark of the video)

Representative Breen, you were not told the truth! 

Who ever told this information to Representative Breen needs to be removed from public office.  This state is filled with lying politicians.  When we allow them to lie in order to influence their legislators to legalize their illegal actions it does nothing but degrades our system of government and our trust in our laws & elected officials.

We urge Representative Breen to fact check things he is being told in the future as to avoid further embarrassment of providing false information to the legislative body.  Those who support this behavior with votes for bills based on misinformation and lies are part of the problem in this state.

The fact of the matter is, wood chip delivery has been a long-standing tradition as a means of taking care of those who take care of them, just as we were told.  Those complaints are coming in even more now that we exposed the first two stories on this.   This long long-standing tradition is actually a long-standing statutory violation of law that for reasons we will never understand, has become a hot button for passage.

Why is a certain segment of legislators so eager to legalize this practice for 1432 Townships instead of holding those five townships accountable for violating the law?

Representative Breen closed out his testimony with an opinion based on this false information.

“It’s getting rid of a problem. It’s reducing a cost to the township.” 16:39 mark of the video.

How can it be reducing a cost when his very own township has no record of any costs associated with this so called problem?

The public is tired of manipulation by their elected officials and this bill has all the indicators of yet another Dupage County problem that is going to be thrust on the rest of the state.

I ask, how can anyone vote for this bill when it was based on so many false representations?  We urge this bill be stopped and if you need more info to justify a no vote, just read these two articles here and here.

 

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Why Illinois is in the wood pile: Wood Chips –

Springfield (ECWd) –

Follow the law and be honest, that is all we ask. 

This is the condensed version(LOL) that every legislator in Springfield needs to read regarding the wood chips of DuPage County and the attempt to change one law that will impact the whole state.  The more detailed exposure on this matter can be viewed at this link.

We will highlight the claims provided in a so-called “analysis” for House Bill 2423 which we understand is provided to those who pass our laws.

  • Without distribution options to the public, the township would have to pay for the mulch’s transport to a landfill.

And the Township would have to pay for the mulch’s transport even if this bill passes, just to a different destination so that is not a cost savings. How about you follow the EPA laws in place as it relates to municipal waste?  There are multiple options to the public and as of this reporting, we are not getting ANY feedback on the solutions to this claimed problem of excess wood chips in Townships.

  • Watchdogs oppose and expressed concerns about the potential for graft, providing equal access to residents, and the possibility of lawsuits as a result of this type of public policy.  

May we suggest you simply watch the video to have a true representation as to why we oppose this bill as the above statement left out the most important issue, one of Constitutionality.  We have urged a written opinion on this matter from the Attorney General, yet to date no response from those pushing this bill.  If they are so confident this bill is not allowing public property for private purpose, simply prove us wrong with a written legal opinion from the AG. Is that asking to much?

So why is it that not a single lawyer supporting this bill has taken steps to enforce the laws broken by the activity to include demanding an investigation into the claimed graft that created this mess in the first place?  Yes, the law and Constitution forbid certain actions but what good does that do when you ignore it when exposed to it?

  • The sponsor believes that providing this public benefit is constituted with current local government programs such as rides for seniors and the bill provision would provide the legal standing for the policy.  Current law and the constitution already forbid the potential repercussions described by opponents.

Art. VIII, Sec. 1 of the Constitution of the State of Illinois clearly states, “Public funds, property or credit shall be used only for public purposes.” Ill. Const. 1970, art. VIII, § 1.  What constitutes a legitimate public purpose, however, is often unclear.” It may be impossible to clearly delineate the boundary between what constitutes a legitimate public purpose and a private benefit with no sufficient, legitimate public purpose to support it.” Southwestern Ill. Dev. Auth. v. National City Environmental, 768 N.E.2d 1, 8, 199 Ill.2d 225 (Ill. 2002) “Each case turns on its own facts.” Berman v. Parker, 348 U.S. 26, 32 (1954).

The claimed public purpose is getting rid of municipal waste saves the township money by delivering it free on a first come first serve basis to residents.  The private benefit (residents get free wood chips) is with no sufficient, legitimate public purpose as it only benefits a very limited group of residents.  Does Due Process mean anything anymore?

Attempting to justify the delivery of wood chips by comparing the spending of township money on Seniors is frankly insulting. The well-established laws pertaining to the care of seniors has a well-defined public purpose that meets the constitutional test and we challenge those supporting this bill to provide a “sufficient” and “legitimate” public purpose for delivering their waste product to people of their choosing.

Public purpose on Seniors is well defined.

  • To decrease the sense of isolation and dependence that often accompanies old age.
  • To enrich the social and intellectual life of older adults.
  • To help older adults meet practical problems attendant on aging, such as health, diet, adjustment to changed circumstances, and finances.
  • To help older adults contribute to community well-being as effective and useful citizens.
  • To help persons approaching retirement to appropriately plan for it.
  • To organize community interest in generally improving the climate of living for older adults.

 

  • “Delivering mulch to residents is not specifically banned under current law, but townships have received a legal opinion that they should stop delivery of mulch to local residents because of the lack fo clarity in the law.”

Once again, Illinois is a Dillon’s Rule state, which means you don’t have the legal power to do something unless the legislature gave you such power.  The fact the law does not permit it now, is, in fact, a ban on the practice, which is why they want the law passed!  The legal opinion they speak of was that it was a violation of the Constitution as it was private use of public property.  We know because that is the argument we presented and multiple townships confirmed that is what they were told. One township Highway commissioner even called back and thanked us and then apologized for insisting we were wrong.  He stopped delivering mulch!

  • “Mulch from tree trimmings are currently in large piles so few people come get it, so the township has to both pay to store and then to dispose of the mulch in a landfill.”

Few people come and get it because it is located behind gated, locked, mesh covered fences with a No Trespassing sign.  As far as paying to store?  That is a lie as the pile in York Township is on York Township property, as are most other piles in other townships and we confirmed they DO NOT pay to store it.  We have asked for disposal cost records and instead of turning over the records they have violated FOIA and to date refused to respond to our FOIA related to those records.

  • A township highway commissioner in the sponsors district suggested the bill.

Yep, the same one that is refusing to provide us with the records to prove or disprove the claim of costs associated with getting rid of wood chips.

  • Fiscal Impact – None

None?  Since when does the use of township equipment, which takes fuel, maintenance, and personnel, have no fiscal impact.  Loaders to load the trucks, Trucks to deliver the product, manpower, insurance, etc.  How on earth can an Analysis on a bill claim there is no Fiscal Impact?  Are you starting to understand why Illinois is in the Wood Pile?

  • Five Township Highway Commissioners support the bill

Never mind the 1427 other Highway Commissioners that don’t have the problem those in DuPage County have.

  • IDOT and Illinois MuMunicipaleague are neutral on this bill

Well, isn’t that special.  A Township Government bill and no mention of Township Officials of Illinois.  I was told that they confirmed our Constitutionality concerns and advised the practice stopped.  Does anyone else find it Odd that TOI has not chimed in?

Does anyone else find it odd that no one wants to get a legal opinion from the Attorney General on the Public Purpose question?

This bill is not what Illinois needs.  The information provided to legislatures about this bill is appalling as it is filled with misinformation and out-right fabrications.  I urge you to bury this bill and never let it see the light of day until we get answers to our questions instead of more violations of law by withholding requested records.

 

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Free Wood Chips – No Trespassing!

DuPage Co. (ECWd) –

About a month ago I wrote this article about our legislators passing laws to legalize activity that had been going on in violation of the law.  As was pointed out in #3 of that article, a new bill has been drafted to allow for the delivery of wood chips to residents of the Township which can be viewed at this link.

This bill was generated because we found out wood chips were being delivered to some, but not others, and it was claimed to be political, as in, if you supported the right people, you got wood chips.  Although no one will admit to that accusation, we do know the activity of using public property for personal delivery’s stopped after we brought our Constitutional concerns to the table.  We had been told that multiple township attorneys confirmed the practice was, in fact, use of public property for private purposes, a violation of the Illinois Consitution.

Representative Peter Breen also confirms the practice of government or political graft is already illegal.  Which is why we got involved in the first place.  He states that he is all for uncovering and attacking government and political graft.  Can anyone explain why there has been no call for an investigation into his constituents who may have been involved in such graft?

Of particular interest in this bill is the Policy statement in support of it.

“Section 1. Public policy. It is hereby declared that wood chips, mulch, and other products generated in the act of tree maintenance by a township road district are waste products of no value to the district. It is further declared that the distribution of the wood chips, mulch, and other products to residents of the district is of public benefit, maintenance of a healthful environment, and reduces costs by eliminating the need to pay for the hauling and disposal of the products. It is further recognized that the distribution and delivery of the wood chips, mulch, and other products to residents of the district is a long-standing tradition in certain parts of this State with a minimum fiscal impact. It is further declared that this traditional service is salutary, as long as it is provided without prejudice or favor to any particular person or interest.”

Let us begin from the bottom up, as it is becoming very clear the only way to fix our broken system in this state is from the bottom up, and it’s clear those at the top have no clue what is really going on down here on the street level.

We see the claim in the policy statement that this new bill is salutary “as long as it is provided without prejudice or favor to any particular person or interest.”

So I guess by saying it’s OK as long as the practice is not abused somehow takes away from the fact it was that abuse that put us here in the first place?  My head is spinning!

Moving on up the policy statement, we thank Representative Breen for pointing out this illegal activity is a “long-standing tradition” in certain parts of the state.  We know it’s illegal because they’re trying to pass this bill to make that long-standing tradition legal. Are we allowed to ask why we are not enforcing the Official Misconduct statute that applies to public officials who violate the law?   Maybe we should just repeal the Official Misconduct statute since it appears to be a pattern that once a violation is identified they just change the law to un-rob the bank.

As far as this activity having a “minimal fiscal impact”, we challenge the Representative and those supporting this bill to present any evidence using township vehicles to deliver products to private residents will have minimal fiscal impact. To date, we have been unable to validate such a claim.

In our efforts of validating claims made during the last hearing, we filed a Freedom of Information Act request to the Representative’s Township for payments made to get rid of these chips because it was represented to the committee that “they have to pay to get rid of it”.

Show us the payment! 

Our FOIA request is now past due for that evidence and we are getting zero answers from those supporting this bill as it relates to costs of hauling and dumping.  Never mind the fact the Township has now violated FOIA in what appears to be an effort of concealing the truth. You are free to infer as you wish as to why they refuse to provide this information.

The next issue is the claim that allowing the current illegal action to be legal will “reduce costs by eliminating the need to pay for the hauling and disposal of the products.”  Did you catch that?

We’re are going to “haul” wood chips to “dispose” of them at residents property, so by allowing that action, it reduces the cost of “hauling” and “disposing” of them at the dump? I may be missing something but the only savings is possible disposal fees as they are still spending money to haul it, just to a different location.

It’s a misrepresentation that this bill, to legalize what is currently illegal, is going to save money when they refuse to provide evidence of any expense incurred to date. 

We offered a free disposal option but have not heard a word back on the proposed solution.

“Why not simply amend 415 ICLS 20/3 to include all units of government!  That SOLVES the problem and removes the question of private use of public property!”

(415 ILCS 20/3) (from Ch. 111 1/2, par. 7053)
    Sec. 3. State agency materials recycling program.
    (a) All State agencies and (units of government) responsible for the maintenance of public lands in the State shall, to the maximum extent feasible, use compost materials in all land maintenance activities which are to be paid with public funds.

Why is this the simple solution?  The very township performing this long-standing tradition acknowledges “Mulching around trees and bushes is an excellent landscaping tool. Nutrients are provided, soil stays moist longer, there is less lawn to mow, and mowers do not scar trunks and stems.” Changing one statute to include local government to do just as state agencies do is a simple fix. We believe a far better fix than opening up the pandora’s box of allowing 1432 Townships to start hauling to private residents.

Besides, why is Township Government wanting to compete with local landscape providers that are trying to create jobs by selling wood chips and mulch, along with delivery of those goods?

When government competes with local businesses, businesses always lose.

The policy states the bill is a “public benefit”.  Tell that to the businesses that sell wood chips! 

In addition, how can they claim this new bill will have minimal fiscal costs when no one will produce any records?     Sure, people get free mulch, however, they already get that for free at the local wood chip pile as was insinuated in the committee hearing………or do they?  More on that below-LOL

And finally, we get to the confirmation that wood chips are a waste product.  Huh, is that not municipal waste under the EPA laws in this state? Wonder why we are passing this delivery bill when we already have laws that point to how this matter is to be addressed?

415 ILCS 15/2(a)(2) that counties should have the primary responsibility to plan for the management of municipal waste“.  And what else does it outline should be happening, that clearly is not?

“(5) that solid waste planning should be encouraged to take place on a multi-county, regional basis and through inter-governmental cooperation agreements whereby various units of local government within a region determine the best methods and locations for disposal of solid waste.”  

 And to top it off, what was the purpose of that EPA statute?

(b) It is the purpose of this Act to provide incentives for decreased generation of municipal waste, to require certain counties to develop comprehensive waste management plans that place substantial emphasis on recycling and other alternatives to landfills, to encourage municipal recycling and source reduction, and to promote composting of yard waste.

Now that we have written a book, let’s get to some facts and logic.

The goal is to get rid of the chips and it was claimed that York Township has this big pile on the corner in town, that people can come and get them, but they’re not doing that.  Well, we drove to York Township (about 3 1/2 hrs from Edgar County) and took some pictures on a Saturday afternoon.  You know, Saturday, a day when most people are off work and able to do yard work.  Turns out, the pile of wood chips is behind a gated, locked, meshed covered fence with a sign that says “No Trespassing” – “Open Only to Walk Ins”, and if you want a truck or trailer load you have to call the township.  So the fact of the matter is you can’t just go get wood chips anytime you want as was implied during committee hearings in Springfield, which can be viewed below.

If a resident wanted wood chips, the first deterrent might be that NO TRESPASSING sign, or the locked gate.  Even if it was open, they only allow Walk-Ins.  Should they bring a bucket, wheel barrow, or garbage can to get these chips?  As far as the claim everyone knows they are there and they are free for the taking, may we suggest you remove at least part of the fabric mesh that blocks viewing through the fence?  Doing so might make people aware of what’s behind door #1.

The implication that they are out on the corner of a primary street and free for the taking is misleading at best. You can’t see them or get access to them without calling the Township.

We have also confirmed the claim the township has a newsletter that goes out on a regular basis is not true according to at least one trustee we spoke with today.  The inference that a newsletter goes out informing citizens about the wood chips was disproven with a single FOIA response for the newsletter, no such newsletter is sent regarding woodchips.

The truth of the matter is, they can’t get rid of chips because they are not allowed to burn them like every other township in the state, a problem of their own making with burn ordinances.  Couple that fact residents are not allowed to come and get them on their own schedule as was implied, we must question the real need for the passage of a law to legalize identified illegal activity. Far more questions need answered before we pass a new law.

I believe there are simpler solutions, not to mention we have much bigger problems in this state to fix than spending time legalizing actions being done in violation of law, but it appears that is the norm in DuPage County. Besides that, do we really need to change the law for 1,432 Townships in Illinois because a handful in DuPage County can’t figure out how to get rid of wood chips legally and cost effectively?

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l4m7LKjrCXI

 
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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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