KANKAKEE, IL. (ECWd) -
We received a tip about the Kankakee Valley Airport Authority ("KVAA"), a board member, and the awarding of a roofing contract to that board member. The tip was accurate and our report follows.
Upon initially contacting the Kankakee Airport, every effort to obtain any information was stonewalled. The clerk would not name the commissioners, the attorney, or even give us an email address to send an FOIA request to them. Finally, after a lengthy discussion, I was provided a general information email address, which I sent the request for public records to. Initially, the airport attorney extended response by 5 days claiming they were working on gathering the information, and then denied it in its entirety claiming it wasn't "valid and proper", and asked if I wanted to play hockey. He later called and said all information would be provided.
Commissioner Rende O. Langlois, who also happens to own a Roofing Company, submitted a bid on a roofing contract with the Airport. There were two other bids, one coming in $3,573.00 higher than his, which doesn't matter since he should have never even submitted his bid in the first place. The bids were opened by the Architect and recommended that Langlois Roofing be awarded the contract. Commissioner Langlois did call and explain he didn't think he did anything wrong since the attorney said it was within the law.
- Langlois Roofing submitted a bid for $91,296.00
- Metalmaster Roofing submitted a bid for $94,869.00
Submitted bids and meeting minutes where contract was awarded to Langlois Roofing are here: (meeting minutes start on page 58)
The Airport attorney wrote in a letter that the board acted on his recommendation and that his opinion was that awarding of the contract to a Commissioner was in compliance with the law since it was the lowest bid and the board wanted the job done. Of course, none of that matters, since an attorney cannot authorize violations of law, and if he truly thought awarding this contract to a Commissioner of the Airport was legal, he needs to find a different line of work.
Commissioner Langlois was in attendance at the meeting where the contract was awarded, and "abstained" from the vote.
According to the Corrupt Practices Act, Commissioners cannot be interested in any contracts with the KVAA. There are criminal penalties if found guilty of violations.
The KVAA is operated under the authority of the Airport Authorities Act ("AAA"), or under the Kankakee Valley Area Airport Authority Act ("KVAAA"), depending on who you ask. The Kankakee State's Attorney's office did petition the Illinois Department of Revenue stating it was under the Kankakee Valley Area Airport Authority Act, but the board appointment says Airport Authorities Act.
The AAA v. KVAAAA - among the differences, the later requires things like a $100,000 Bond for board members, Attorney General approval of appointment of authority attorney, and Attorney General approval of all contracts, where the former does not. Both Acts authorize the Illinois Department of Transportation to demand a hearing for certain Commissioners to show cause why they should not be removed from office.
Under either statute, there is no statutory authority for an Airport Commissioner to be interested in contracts with the authority. There is also no statutory authority for a Commissioner to abstain from voting, which means an abstention should actually count towards the majority vote [Prosser v. Fox Lake].
The Corrupt Practices Act, better known as the Public Officer Prohibited Activities Act, prohibits direct and indirect interest in contracts and also provides for minimal interest under certain conditions. These prohibitions are contained in Section 3 of the Act, and any contract made in violation of the Act is void. Sections 3(b) and 3(b-5) allow certain limited exceptions, and to qualify for an exception a person has to meet all listed exceptions, not just one or more of them.
Section 4 of the Act lists Penalties for violating the Act, which include Class 4 Felony, and removal from office, once convicted.
I have asked for this Commissioner's resignation, in the email below. I welcomed him to provide any statements for this article, I left a telephone message and have heard nothing from him since.
Please consider a donation to the Edgar County Watchdogs.