"We are all born ignorant, but one must work hard to remain stupid." - Benjamin Franklin
The great part of our country and freedoms is most people know right from wrong, and when they finally get tired of the corruption they speak out. Fortunately they have an outlet with the internet and organizations like Edgar County Watchdogs and the Disclosure Newspaper to get the truth out.
A recent example of this fact is the box of information provided to the Edgar County Watchdogs this past weekend. Documents that clearly expose illegal activity was taking place, with an elected City Commissioner, and it got swept under the rug like so many other illegal acts in the City of Paris.
Why was the public not informed that their elected City Commissioner used the city credit card for months to include a Vacation to Florida, purchase 12 airline tickets, shop at Victoria Secret, Rental “cars”, Magic Castle Gift Kingdom just to mention a few illegal purchases? All are illegal acts by an elected official and are felonies as upheld by the Illinois Supreme Court.
Why is illegal activity so rampant in this county and no one steps up to hold them accountable? Mayor Craig Smith basically covered up this illegal action by taking no action outside of a letter to the CPA that the credit card would be paid off by Friday, the 20th of January of 2006. Need I remind anyone that the Mayor also took an oath of office to uphold the constitution of this state? Mr. Smith is a practicing attorney and no one is going to convince us he didn’t know this was official misconduct, which is a felony!
Commissioner Branson used his City Credit Card for personal use for months in 2005 using over $6,300.00 of public credit. Credit Card Statements.
At least one person had the courage to document what was happening, and fortunately another had the sense to keep a copy of all the information. It would appear from the information it was covered up! Credit Card Exposure Letter
“Information about Alan Gilmore telling Jerry Branson it was OK to use the card made it to Ron Murphy via Linda Lane. Chuck Milam told Margaret Thomason that means it’s all over town”!
That means its all over town?
Shouldn't it be?
It should be on the front page of the newspaper, yet instead it's clear they didn't want the word out. I know many have heard rumors of something going on but no one stepped up to expose the truth until this past weekend when a person said enough is enough. Thankfully it's not just inside public officials speaking up. We know we are making a difference when employees of private companies speak up as well!
We must all stand up against this tolerance of illegal acts by our elected officials. We have zero tolerance for our kids at school, thinking we are teaching them some kind of positive principle to live by, but the actions of the so-called adults running this county have no concept of zero tolerance, unless you're an outsider!
Mayor Smith took no legal action, failed to inform the public of the illegal acts of a sitting City Commissioner, and wrote a whopping THREE SENTENCE letter to the CPA with a cc sent to Steve Garst who had been informed about the actions by the CPA 6 days prior! CPA Letter to City Attorney
The time line has meaning, as does the content of the letters. Mayor Smith knew of the illegal action on January 6th of 2006. His answer was to have Commissioner Branson's paycheck held until the account is paid off. The city employee notified several people to include Dick James for advice on the 10th of January and Jim Motley on the 11th. Note that Mr. Motley sent a letter dated the very next day to the city attorney and the Mayor. Mr. Motley clearly knew the seriousness of the matter and covered his back side by sending the letter.
Now, after the letter volley exposing the incident officially, Mr. Smith advised it would be paid off by the 20th of that month. Why the shift from just holding his paycheck Mr. Smith? Did someone inform you that is not going to cut it? Why should the tax payers carry the burden of ongoing interest charges for criminal acts of a sitting Commissioner?
Mr. Branson, you should resign immediately as you have taken advantage of the People's tax dollars for personal gain and withheld the facts of those events. Had this information been made public I doubt you would have been elected to office again! Set the example and do what is right. RESIGN!
More questions rise from this incident than can be covered in this short article but we must ask a few. Why would the Mayor do NOTHING in this matter? Was it because he too had questionable charges on his City issued Credit card as well? According to records in hand, a $1,200.00 hotel charge was on Mayor Craig Smith’s credit card from Hotels.com with nothing more than a “note” that it was an IML expense, which was not in compliance with the Travel Policy in place for the city, as is pointed out in the documents!
Was the silence on Mr. Branson’s illegal spending because of who he was and what he does for Bob Colvin? Mr. Branson is an electrician that does work for Francis Associates, which means he is part of the inside click that appears to run Paris. He is also on the Streets and Parks committee for the city according to the city web site. Who takes care of the street projects in the city of Paris? Well of course, Bob Colvin lets them know what needs done, then gets paid to implement what he suggests. Suggested to those in charge of Streets and Parks!
Mr. Branson is still a sitting elected commissioner however it appears based on his Federal Bankruptcy paperwork he has more issues now than just the past credit card scandal. Not only can he not be trusted with the Public's money, he has serious short comings in his personal finances as well.
People of Edgar County please wake up and realize you are being taken advantage of by a select group of people who clearly do not have your best interest in mind! These actions are not about Democrat or Republican, left or right.
They are about the principal of Right and Wrong!
The Truth has No Agenda!
Where do you stand?