Plainfield, IL. (ECWd) –
While Trustee Mark Reynolds was on the Plainfield Fire Protection District Board, he engaged in a Conflict of Interest when he “abstained” from voting to create the new position of assistant chief, and then later participated in the vote to hire himself into the newly created position. Additionally, after being appointed as an Asst Chief, he entered into closed session as Trustee to discuss personnel issues and other items.
Section 4, of the Fire Protection District Act states:
(70 ILCS 705/4)
(from Ch. 127 1/2, par. 24)
Trustees; conflict of interest; violations.
No trustee or employee of such district shall be directly or indirectly interested financially in any contract work or business or the sale of any article, the expense, price or consideration of which is paid by the district;
(e) Any officer or employee who violates this Section is guilty of a Class 4 felony and in addition thereto any office held by such person so convicted shall become vacant and shall be so declared as part of the judgment of the court.
The FPDA does provide for certain exceptions, but none of them qualify for this situation.
During the July 29, 2015 Special Meeting, Trustee Barnes stated that during closed session, discussion was held with regard to personnel issues and the union negotiation progress.
“Trustee Shreve made a motion to authorize Chief Riddle to appoint a part-time Assistant Chief position, seconded by Trustee Paul. A roll call vote was taken as follows: Trustee Lehmann – yes, Trustee Shreve – yes, Trustee Barnes – yes, Trustee Reynolds – abstain, Trustee Paul – yes. Motion carried.”
During the August 11th, 2015 meeting, Reynolds appointed as Asst Chief. Reynolds abstained.
“Chief Riddle announced the part-time Assistant Chief has been chosen; it is Mark Reynolds. After a brief discussion, a motion was made by Trustee Shreve to approve the appointment of Mark Reynolds as the part-time Assistant Chief, seconded by Trustee Paul. A roll call vote was taken as follows: Trustee Lehmann – yes; Trustee Shreve – yes; Trustee Barnes –yes; Trustee Reynolds – abstained; Trustee Paul – yes. Motion carried.”
During the Sept 8th meeting, the minutes show Reynolds is still on the board after having been appointed to Assistant Chief.
A roll call attendance was taken as follows: Trustee James Lehmann – present; Trustee Douglas Shreve – present; Trustee William Barnes – present; Trustee Tom Paul – present. Trustee Mark Reynolds was absent.
Chief Riddle appointed Mark Reynolds as Assistant Chief effective of September 1, 2015. A swearing in ceremony is forthcoming.
President Barnes accepted the resignation from Mark Reynolds as a Trustee on the Board. A notice will be sent out stating we will be interviewing for a replacement Trustee. All interested parties need their letter of interest in by October 1, 2015.
At the Sept 11th special meeting. Reynolds now acting as assistant chief.
What happened here, is that Trustee Reynolds actually participated in the discussion and vote to create the Assistant Fire Chief position, and later participated in the vote, in violation of the Fire Protection District Act, to appoint himself to the earlier created position, a Class 4 felony [if prosecuted]. An abstention is in fact a vote and carries with the majority, thus he clearly participated in the vote that benefited him directly (Prosser v. Village of Fox Lake).