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April 17, 2024

The 3-1/2 year Conflict of Interest Battle – Sheriff/ETSB –

By John Kraft & Kirk Allen

On September 21, 2015

Edgar Co., IL. (ECWd) –
The issue with the conflicts of interest on the Edgar County Emergency Telephone System Board started over three and a half years ago when we first became aware of the situation. At that time, Sheriff Motley and Deputy Burgin were both on the ETSB board, and both were employed by the Edgar County Sheriff Department.
Update for clarity: In Edgar County, the 911 dispatchers are on the Sheriff’s payroll. The ETSB reimburses the Sheriff’s Department for an approximate amount of their salary commensurate with the percentage of duty performed as 911 dispatch. This reimbursement is continually reevaluated and was last set at $100,000 in August 2015 payable in quarterly installments of $25,000 each quarter. This negotiation involved the ETSB board, ETSB Director, and the Edgar County Sheriff – no different than previous years. With this, the agreement could have been unduly influenced by the ETSB and its Director based on facts not relevant to reimbursement – like they find this Sheriff more agreeable to their political thinking…and past lower reimbursement levels and lack of cooperation due to personality problems harbored by the ETSB Director could have been influenced negatively by their dislike of the Sheriff at that time (which is evident in news articles prior to the election and recent statements made by Farnham). A classic conflict of interest finally dealt with.
The issue was brought to the attention of the Edgar County Board just prior to April 2012, and to the ETSB Board in April of 2012 (here).
On May 16, 2012, Edgar County State’s Attorney, Mark Isaf, sent a letter to Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan requesting an opinion on whether or not there was a conflict of interest with the Sheriff and Deputy being on the ETSB, and even asked about various other emergency services personnel on the board. He followed up with a status request on September 27, 2012 and May 12, 2014 (letters here).
In June of 2014, we wrote an article critical of how the AG’s office was treating this request for an opinion from a State’s Attorney (here). In December of 2014 we wrote another article critical of the AG’s handling of the request (here).
During the December 10, 2014 county board meetign, at 5:57 in the video (here) I asked the county board about the conflict of interest. After this county board meeting I explained the issue to Sheriff Wood about a Sheriff on the ETSB and told him we had been waiting since 2012 for an opinion.
The history of this situation is important so our readers can understand how long it takes to get an opinion to correct a wrong, and so they can realize how broken this system is when a State’s Attorney cannot even get an opinion from the Attorney General in a timely manner. Additionally, this should also show our readers that this issue has nothing to do with who the Sheriff actually is, but that the position of Sheriff is incompatible with a seat on the ETSB.
We learned this morning during the county board study session that the AG had finally rendered an opinion, and we are waiting for a copy of it thru FOIA.
Video of this morning’s study session is below – there is general discussion of the Edgar County Special Services Area Ambulance tax levy and other things of interest:



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