CLARK CO. (ECWd) –
This is a followup to the July 15 Editorial (previous article here) in the Marshall Advocate where Gary Strohm claims that he “stopped” the illegal compensation while he was on the board of the Clark County Park District.
Fact: The illegal compensation to commissioners / former commissioners was never stopped.
Fact: Gary Strohm himself voted in favor of a transaction that constituted a conflict of interest
It is true the board now claims that they used to get free boats passes for current commissioners, and they changed that to apply only to past commissioners. The problem with this is the free boat passes, whether to past or present commissioners, are still considered compensation received because of service as a commissioner. The statute is clear in that commissioners shall serve without compensation. This is clearly a violation of the Park District Act, the Constitution, and should be considered theft of public funds.
In early 2013, Commissioner Larry Yargus thought it would be a good idea to dump his junk van off onto the Park District. He bartered this in exchange for a $2000 credit on his dock fees.
Commission Gary Strohm was one of the commissioners voting in favor of this (illegal) barter. Larry Yargus effectively voted in favor of it also (Prosser Rule). Instead of stopping this type of activity as he claims he did, he simply kicked it up a notch into the realm of conflict of interest and compensation.
(50 ILCS 105/3)
(from Ch. 102, par. 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.
It is important to note that this “barter” was a contract, and Larry Yargus was financially interested in this contract, and he also gained financially.
What penalty does this carry?
(50 ILCS 105/4)
(from Ch. 102, par. 4)
Any alderman, member of a board of trustees, supervisor or county commissioner, or other person holding any office, either by election or appointment under the laws or constitution of this state, who violates any provision of the preceding sections, is guilty of a Class 4 felony and in addition thereto, any office or official position held by any person so convicted shall become vacant, and shall be so declared as part of the judgment of court.
Does this also mean that those commissioners voting in favor of this illegal barter contract assisted in the commission of a felony? What about the attorney, Kate Yargus, that was present and did not stop it?
Since the barter was not an authorized action of the board and was a conflict of interest, does that mean Larry Yargus is in debt to the district for the $2000 credit he received on his dock rental?
If he is indebted to the district, can he still hold the office of Commissioner? I suspect the answer to that question is “NO”, for the following reason:
Park District Code, Section 2-11 [70 ILCS 1205/2-11], which declares that “A person is not eligible to serve as park commissioner if that person is in arrears in the payment of a tax or other indebtedness due to the park district or has been convicted in any court located in the United States of any infamous crime, bribery, perjury, or other felony.”
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