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May 22, 2024

Ford County compliance with the law…All the laws?

By Kirk Allen & John Kraft

On October 18, 2013


As referenced in this article, “Boom Boom Bowen” called an illegal meeting and I raised the issue with the State’s Attorney in this e-mail.  The request was simply fix the problem, which is all we have ever asked.

I have to admit I was shocked to get this notice late in the afternoon on the same day I sent our concerns to the State’s Attorney.  This meeting notice/agenda outlines that they have called for another special meeting to be convened, to take the same action that was taken during the illegal meeting.

I have done another FOIA for the documents required to hold that special meeting and will update this article once I get those, assuming they complied with the law this time!

If they did it in accordance with the law, then my hats off to the State’s Attorney for taking the steps necessary for compliance with the law.  I know it is a new concept for Boom Boom, but he’d better get used to it as there is quite a bit more to come!

For example, Gene May is a Ford County Board member that is called to vote on payments for his services for picking up trash for the county.  I already gave the statute to the State’s Attorney months ago, and apparently they are not going to rectify it so it’s time to take things to the next level, just as we did in Edgar County with our “former” county chairman! (Hint, he is a “former” chairman for a reason! )

 (50 ILCS 105/3) (from Ch. 102, par. 3)
Sec. 3. Prohibited interest in contracts.
(a) No person holding any office, either by election or appointment under the laws or Constitution of this State, may be in any manner financially interested directly in his own name or indirectly in the name of any other person, association, trust, or corporation, in any contract or the performance of any work in the making or letting of which such officer may be called upon to act or vote.

Mr. May needs to resign immediately to avoid the statutory conflict of interest! 

They seem to think that by abstaining from voting it makes it OK, and that is not the case at all!  County Board members are bound by the county code statute and only have the power granted by those statutes.

(55 ILCS 5/2-1006) (from Ch. 34, par. 2-1006)
    Sec. 2-1006. Open meetings. The county board shall sit with open doors, and all persons may attend their meetings. The vote on all propositions to appropriate money from the county treasury shall be taken by "ayes" and "nays" and entered on the record of the meeting.
(Source: P.A. 86-962.)

There are powers granted to abstain from voting for certain cases and they are outlined by statute, however Mr. May does not qualify for any of those exceptions, so he is required by law to vote aye or nay!  This is supported by Supreme Court Case precident!

The people did not elect him to not do his job, which includes a statutory requirement to vote.  When members fail to vote they are not complying with the law.  More importantly, when they abstain because of their own financial interest, it is an admission that there is in fact a conflict.

Even looking at the most basic guideline, Robert’s Rules of Order, an abstention is not a vote! In fact, RRO outlines that an abstention is in fact a refusal to vote.  A county board member is not permitted to refuse to vote.  Doing so violates the very duty they were elected to perform.

The law is clear, when a member “may” be called to vote on a matter in which they have a financial interest, it’s a conflict as outlined in the Public Officer Prohibited Activities Act.

There are three ways to remove the conflict, Mr. Fitton. 

  1. Mr. May stop billing for the service
  2. Mr. May Resign
  3. Mr. Fitton charge and prosecute Mr. May for Official Misconduct

Supporting info for the convenience of those who truly want the law followed:

  • If a quorum is present, municipal legislators cannot avoid their voting responsibilities by refusing to vote when present at a meeting. (See Launtz v. People ex rel. Sullivan (1885), 113 Ill. 137; see also People ex rel. Anderson v. Chicago & North Western Ry. Co. (1947), 396 Ill. 466.)
  • Section 3-11-17 states that “[t]he yeas and nays shall be taken upon the question of the passage of the designated ordinances, resolutions, or motions and recorded in the journal of the city council.” (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1979, ch. 24, par. 3-11-17.) The statute provides for the taking of only two types of votes — “yeas” and “nays.” Thus, an attempt to vote other than “yea” (“aye”) or “nay,” for example “abstain” or “present,” is not deemed to be a vote. See Launtz v. People ex rel. Sullivan (1885), 113 Ill. 137.
  • A legal significance or effect must be given to each failure to vote by a municipal legislator who is present at a board meeting in order to prevent frustration or abuse of the legislative process. (State ex rel. Young v. Yates (1897), 19 Mont. 239, 47 P. 1004.)He should not be allowed to have his physical presence counted toward the constitution of a quorum and at the same time be allowed to deny, in effect, his official presence by a failure to vote. Thus, a municipal legislator’s failure to vote either “yea” or “nay” on a proposed ordinance must be interpreted to have the same effect as either a “yea” or a “nay” vote.
  • This is described in The Law of Local Government Operations: “It is a general rule that those members present at a meeting consisting of a quorum must vote against a proposal in order to defeat it. If members are present and refuse to vote, they are deemed to have consented to the majority decision.” (Rhyne, The Law of Local Government Operations sec. 5.6, at 77 (1980). (See also Annot., 63 A.L.R.3d 1072, 1083 (1975); Froehlich, Effect of Council Members Voting “Abstain,” “Pass,” or “Present,” 59 Ill. Municipal Rev. 15 (June 1980).) This holding of a majority of jurisdictions developed from the common law rule pertaining to elections announced in Rex v. Foxcroft (1760), 2 Burr. 1017, 1021, 97 Eng. Rep. 683, 68

Look up your elected Board Member contact information and demand the law be followed! (County Board Contact Info)

(States Attorney Contact Info)


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1 Comment
  • Benny Young
    Posted at 15:50h, 19 October

    Thanks for all the leg work to expose the cock roaches to the light of day. Lots of them here but they seem reluctant to end the feeding frenzy on the poor citizens of Ford co. Perhaps it is because they have gotten a pass for so long? Or maybe because they are all related to each other (inbreeding)? Genetically that might be the answer since they all seem to have the “crime” gene to one extent or another.