Edgar Co., IL. (ECWd) -
With absolute disbelief that any person, or group of people, could be so wrong, I read the editorial in this week's Prairie Press on their assumption that "There is no conflict" in Sheriff Jeff Wood being on the Edgar County ETS Board.
We published a previous article on this conflict of interest (here).
So now we have Nannette Crippes, 911 Coordinator, saying on the record that the Illinois Attorney General doesn't know how things operate in Edgar County, to a local "newspaper" parroting the same line with "[the AG opinion] is based on a faulty assumption". Really?
Don't get us wrong, we appreciate people questioning their public officials, but this seems to defy all common sense - AND - they "forget" to mention the most damning part of the AG's Opinion.
First, let's look at their statement towards the end of the opinion,
"The local 911 system nearly suffered a collapse during a previous administration when the Sheriff failed to attend ETS Board meetings and communications broke down."
There was never any "near collapse" or anything resembling a collapse - problems were manufactured to elect a new Sheriff, who happens to be the cousin of Nannette Crippes.
A previous Sheriff, Crippes, was on the ETS Board, who ended up in an affair with Nannette (his subordinate and employee), breaking up two marriages, and now they are married to each other. That worked out great for Nanny as she was then able to work two county jobs, at the same time, during the same hours of the day, and get paid for both of them, all while distributing over $11,000.00 in gift cards with no records of who they went to.
Karl Farnham says he has no problem with her stealing public funds in that fashion, while ETS Board member Troy Eads jokes about how Nannette "..could always raise her skirt and f##k with Karl or f##k with the Sheriff.." (yes, that is a quote)
Dee Burgin (who still owes the county $100,000.00) was on the Board when they all voted to say they were OK with her filing false reimbursement claims for payments for attending two year's worth of meetings that never happened - yes, they were just fine and dandy letting her steal more money from you, the taxpayer. These are some of the incestuous relationships currently running our 911 system.
Sheriff Motley realized there was a conflict with the Sheriff serving on our ETS Board and decided to not participate in conflicted actions. The failure of communications was all on Nannette Crippes, who demanded to be moved into the basement of the courthouse almost immediately after her husband lost his bid for re-election.
The original formation of her position clearly reflected she was to answer to the Sheriff, however, she would have no part of that after her hubby got beat. No, instead, she moved her office into the basement of the courthouse at great expense to county taxpayers. The entire manufactured problems prior to this most recent election with the 911 system disappeared the instant the new election results were published. That should show there was never any danger of the collapse of our 911 system. It was a bought and paid for "crisis" under the guise of news. Thanks Karl, you were very helpful in perpetuating those lies. Of special note, if ETSB was in danger of "collapse" where was the news coverage of such a newsworthy matter?
The AG Opinion:
The AG Opinion, states several things creating the conflict with a Sheriff and/or Deputy Sheriff as ETS Board members.
- That the position as Sheriff (and Deputy) creates a conflict in the fact that the Edgar County Sheriff Department if being reimbursed by the ETSB for services employees of the Sheriff's Department (dispatchers) are performing. The Sheriff, as a board member, negotiates the level of reimbursement and votes on the level of reimbursement to his own department.
- The position of Sheriff, also includes the statutory Office of Supervisor of Safety [
55 ILCS 5/3-6035] which is incompatible with service on the ETS Board. He could be called upon as Supervisor of Safety to act or vote on certain safety measures/contracts [
55 ILCS 5/3-6036] that may conflict with his duty to the ETS Board - OR his voting on ETS matters could conflict with his duties as Supervisor of Safety.
Powers of the ETS Board
The powers of an ETS Board are in its statute. Among those powers are certain items they can expend funds on, and no other.
They are authorized to expend funds to reimburse employees of the Sheriff's Department for performing duties as 911 operators. They do not have the power to pay into the county general fund for those reimbursements. The dispatchers are employees of the Sheriff's Department, that is where the reimbursements are to be sent. No exceptions. Our county is again violating the law when it comes to the ETS Board expending money. In fact, the AG points to that very concern on page 5 as footnote #6, but I guess the Prairie Press would have had to read that to know it.
The Prairie Press is simply wrong on their assumption that neither Wood nor the Sheriff's Department directly benefits from the ETS payment for dispatching services. First, there is no requirement to have a "direct" benefit in order to have a conflict. The term used is generally a "direct or indirect" benefit - or may be called upon to act or vote on things in which he could not faithfully, under every circumstance, protect and serve both positions. Second, there is a direct benefit due to the fact that the ETSB can only send these payments to the Sheriff's Department - not to the county general fund.
The total focus of Nannette Crippes and the Prairie Press appears to be on questioning the financial conflict with complete disregard for all the other key points.
"If the sheriff or a deputy sheriff were to serve simultaneously as an ETS board member, he or she would be placed in the untenable position of balancing the interests of the sheriffs office and the ETS System. Because the sheriffs or the deputy sheriffs duties to the county and to the System would conflict in these circumstances, the sheriff (or a deputy sheriff) is necessarily precluded from also serving as a county ETS board member, unless another provision of Illinois law expressly permits such simultaneous tenure."
So even when all the money issues raised and excuses are made, the Prairie Press once again fails to even mention the other conflicts pointed out by the Attorney General. Conflicts that we pointed out years ago, as did the former Sheriff, who instead of serving in a conflicted position, removed himself from it. In the past, people would be praised for doing the right thing, however, in Edgar County this local paper casts dispersion on those who do that while creating new straw-man arguments to defend violations of law.
As far as the Prairie Press claiming that county policy appointed the Sheriff, we must once again expose the failings of the self proclaimed hometown news. Had they done a shred of investigating before stepping off in it, they would know that you can't pass a policy that is inconsistent with law, and more importantly, a policy that is passed and consistent with law is a legislative act and binding by law.
That being the case, how convenient the Prairie Press left out the fact the original resolution creating the ETSB only authorized that board to hire a "temporary" employee.
"Hiring, on a temporary basis, any staff necessary for the implementation or upgrade of the system." (original resolution)
Nannette Crippes is and has been the only employee of Edgar County ETSB, and her hiring and being given full time benefits like no other county employee, is done in direct violation of the very policy that entity is bound by, but of course the Prairie Press failed to mention that policy. In light of their position pointing to policy as the guide-line, are they going to demand she be immediately terminated since she has far, far exceeded any "temporary" basis?
Additionally, Nannette and the ETSB, in a colossal effort to deflect all responsibility for failure to obtain state licensing, has publicly stated, as has the Prairie Press, that the 911 belongs to the Sheriff's Department who is the only person responsible for its licensing. Thus, no need for her "temporary" employment with the ETSB - unless past statements are no longer politically expedient.
I think the conclusion from the AG tells us all we need to know as they did not state the reason the two positions are in conflict based on any financial issue. No, in fact they specifically tied it to the absence of express statutory authorization. We have said for years, you only have the power granted by statute and when it's silent you can't do it. I guess the AG agrees with Dillon's Rule as well!
Conclusion: "Based upon the facts that you have provided, and in the absence of express statutory authorization, the offices of Edgar County sheriff and Edgar County deputy sheriff are incompatible with the office of Edgar County Emergency Telephone System Board member. Accordingly, one person cannot hold both offices simultaneously. "
I guess we can count this as yet another colossal failure in reporting by the Prairie Press.