MARSHALL, IL. (ECWd) -
Unauthorized Pay Raises
This whole issue of unauthorized pay raises came about after a December 23, 2013 meeting where a pay raise was voted on and approved. According to the minutes, several council members commented that this was “out of cycle” for raises and that they did not want to start a precedent by doing this. Later, it was found out to have allegedly been to cover-up the fact that these pay raises had already been happening. When that news was brought out into the open, accusations of harassment were leveled, leading the Mayor to hire an attorney to “investigate” an alderman in what will turn out to be nothing more than a witch hunt designed to “put him in his place” for speaking out against what appeared to be, and actually was, illegally given pay raises without council approval.
A 2012 pay raise put the office manager at $56,755.75. There was no 2013 pay raise voted on or in any meeting minutes.
In May of 2013, the office manager received a 2% pay raise that was never approved or voted on. The other women in the office received the same 2%. The only people receiving this extra unauthorized pay were women – not men. This brings into question whether any sexual discrimination was happening against the men, since only women were given pay increases by the office manager (who also gave herself a raise).
On December 23, 2013, the meeting minutes reflect a pay raise to take effect on January 1, 2014. It was an increase of 2% and at the time was believed to be 2% of the $56,755 from the 2012 raise, not 2% of the illegal $62,417 – the amount that was actually being received thru a raise that was not voted on or approved by the council.
February 14, 2014: Mayor Sanders sends a letter out to the councilmen and in that letter reminds them that recording of phone and personal conversations is illegal without every party knowing about it. This is proven to be wrong advice in a Supreme Court decision a couple months later.
Office Manager’s pay raises over 3 years amounted to $12,417 as shown below:
2013 $62,417 (w/unauthorized pay raise)
The exact dollar amounts of the unauthorized pay raises are shown below – and keep in mind that the only ones receiving this unauthorized pay increase are the women – no men:
Office Manager: $3501.33
April 7, 2014, Ordinance 2014-O-07 was passed by the city council giving a 2% pay increase and back-dating it to be effective from May 2013 thru April 2014. This was an attempt a validating the unauthorized pay increase earlier in 2013. So instead of correcting the problem, they voted 5-4 to say it’s OK to steal from the city because we will just authorize it at a later date.
AFTER the unauthorized pay raises were questioned, “all-of-a-sudden” an issue popped up accusing a council member of harassing, etc the office workers. Don’t you find it just a little bit odd that these accusations only surfaced after people got caught with their hands in the cookie far? What people fail to realize, that once the council member caught the raises and brought it up during a council meeting, he automatically fell under the protection of the Whistleblower Act (EDIT: this Act does not apply to elected officials), making any retaliation, harassment, change of duties, etc. unlawful.
That did not stop the Mayor, who proceeded to remove him from all committees and telling him he could not attend executive sessions of those committees. No person, the Mayor included, has the right to ban an elected or appointed councilman from attending the executive session of a committee of the council – a committee of the same public body he is elected to. That is a violation of the rights of the elected official and a violation of the voting rights of every person in his Ward to vote and have their vote count.
Additionally, the Mayor decided that this councilman was not authorized to see invoices from a legal firm that the mayor decided to hire in order to “investigate” the alleged harassment, a complaint that surfaced AFTER the unauthorized pay raises were found. That decision is also wrong because attorney-client privilege is between the attorney and the client. The client in this case is the city council, NOT the mayor.
Finally, we understand the Mayor has given a copy of the “investigation” report to the council members and told them that it is privileged attorney-client material and that they should not make copies or show anyone else. He also stated he wanted the copies back after the Monday, August 11, 2014 city council meeting. He did not ask for their copies to be returned during or after this meeting.
Attorney-client privilege is destroyed the moment the public body allows a person other than the attorney into an executive session to discuss any such legal information. The attorney client privilege cannot be enforced against a council member if that person decides to let others know what is being talked about behind closed doors. There is nothing in the Open Meetings Act that requires meetings to be closed. The exact wording from the Open Meetings Act is: “The exceptions authorize but do not require the holding of a closed meeting to discuss a subject included within an enumerated exception.” Since there is no requirement for a closed meeting, a public official cannot be sanctioned, fined, arrested, removed from office, or otherwise punished, for revealing anything or everything that happens during a closed session meeting – this includes meetings closed to discuss potential or actual litigation or other attorney-client interests because ultimately the public is the client of the attorney.
This article is the result of my research thru public records requested via the Freedom of Information Act, or by the public body's own website and contains my opinions on the items discussed. The reason this is still an issue is because of the perceived retaliation against a public official for speaking out on the pay raise issue when it was first discovered. Mayor Sanders was asked to comment, and I have provided my email to him, and his comments, are below. Below that is the printout of those city employees making over $75,000 per year:
[gview file="https://edgarcountywatchdogs.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/QuestionsToMayorSanders.pdf" save="1"]
[gview file="https://edgarcountywatchdogs.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/MayorSandersResponse-8-11-14.pdf" save="1"]
[gview file="https://edgarcountywatchdogs.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/Marshall-14-15-Over-75k.pdf" save="1"]