Over 6 months ago we requested minutes from the 911 board pertaining to the hiring of Craig Smith, a local attorney and current Mayor of Paris. We knew when it happen it was illegal, but no one would listen.
The 911 board approved payment of an invoice, but NO WHERE in the minutes was there ever even a mention of hiring him to do any service. They just did it without board approval. That seems to be the factual trend for this group, formally led by Merle Clark and now under the direction of Dee Burgin. Bear in mind that even if they had approved the action, it would still be violating state statutes as it’s well-established history it’s the States Attorney that is duty bound to represent the ETSB.
What did they hire him for? It appears to handle responding to the Freedom of Information request that I was submitting. That’s rather interesting considering nothing in the ETSB Statute reflects funds can be spent for such a purpose. In fact, the FOIA statute clearly states that:
“Each public body shall designate one or more officials or employees to act as its Freedom of Information officer or officers.”
Note that it doesn’t say they can spend tax payer money to go out and hire a private attorney to do the very job the law says they are supposed to be doing.
As I continued to demand answers they basically ignored my requests. Having been in a few chess matches, we prepared several moves in advance. That led to the subject of whether the 911 board was part of county government or not.
Both past and current States Attorneys had taken the position that the ETSB was basically not part of county government. The current States Attorney provided two prongs in establishing his decision.
“I believe that it does not as neither county fund nor county officers are implicated.”
When that happened, we presented a document written from the Opinions division of the Attorney General’s office. That document proved without question that the Emergency Telephone System Board is in fact part of county government and it also pointed out specifically that the States Attorney is duty bound to represent them.
In a nut shell, as we have been saying all along, the 911 Board had no right to spend any 911 money on a private attorney and they are in fact part of county government.
How does a layman simply read the law, understand it, and see an obvious illegal act yet the Mayor of Paris, a practicing private attorney willfully invoices a public body for payment when it’s clearly inappropriate?
It happens because he clearly never read the law pertaining to county government. Had he read it, like we did, he would have known that no one in county government can hire a private attorney to do work that is duty bound to be done by the States Attorney.
These people have been doing what they want for so long with no accountability that each and every time anything is pointed out they are doing wrong or illegally they attack the messenger and fail to see the message.
We have a message for all those out in the Twilight Zone of Edgar County! We are the messenger and are going to continue to send a message each and every time we uncover illegal activity, are NOT going away, and are not going to be silenced!