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July 18, 2024

LaHarpe City Council Acknowledges Violations, Mayor Writes Check –

By John Kraft & Kirk Allen

On November 15, 2016

LaHarpe, IL. (ECWd) –

We attended the LaHarpe City Council Meeting last night to observe discussion on Agenda item number 8, which was to discuss the use of city equipment on private property (see the previous article here). The Mayor did not attend, presumably because the attorney could not attend. For some reason, he won’t show up for a meeting unless the attorney is also present – another waste of public funds.

During public comment, John Kraft talked about the proper way for a sitting public official to contest a debt owed the municipality.

The options are: – Pay the billContest the billDo nothing (and be removed from office) – Resign and still pay the bill. Any other attempt at “negotiating” for the bill is contrary to established law, in this case, the Illinois Municipal Code, Article 3.1, Division 15, Section 50, Paragraph c(4) et seq (65 ILCS 5/3.1-10-50(c)(4)) which is an addition to the Illinois Municipal Code effective 8-24-2015. (read it here)

It gives step-by-step instructions on contesting a debt owed to the municipality by a municipal officer, which gives them the right to contest the debt prior to being removed from office for owing a debt. These are not optional provisions of the Illinois Municipal Code and must be followed. LaHarpe had previously decided to give their attorney the authority to “negotiate” the legality and amount of the arrearage of a water bill to the mayor. In our opinion, the city council did not have the authority to take that action and the city attorney does not have the authority to negotiate anything related to a debt owed by the municipal officer, it must be in an open hearing with a hearing officer making the final determination.

Kirk Allen talked about the Constitutional requirement found in Article VIII that: Public funds, property or credit shall be used only for public purposes. He also talked about “Official Misconduct” for taking actions in violation of law (like using city equipment on private property).

Later in the meeting, the council acknowledged that they realize now it is a violation of the State Constitution and criminal act to use public equipment to work on private property and stated that it would never happen again.

They also said the Mayor had written a $50 check to pay for the work that was done, but they gave the check to the police chief to be used as part of the ongoing criminal investigation into the illegal use of public property.

We will continue reporting on LaHarpe as the situation unfolds.

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  • Dave Clover
    Posted at 10:44h, 15 November Reply

    Thank You John & Kirk for coming and speaking! I’m sorry I didn’t make it my game went extra long!

  • Terry Griffin
    Posted at 11:08h, 15 November Reply

    When was was the last time anyone hired a backhoe and operator for $50? It costs that much to unload it at your property. And paying a pittance after he’s been caught seems like a desperate effort to get out of the spotlight. He should be charged.

    • Frank Rizzo
      Posted at 12:07h, 15 November Reply

      $50.00 is way too much!

      Don’t you see all the guys on CL that will bring a backhoe and do as much digging as you want for $40.00? Filling the hole in is free and they even pay you to haul your valuable dirt away if you want to sell it!

      • rod
        Posted at 16:14h, 15 November Reply

        Lol where can I get as much as I want done for 50 bucks I got plenty of work for that guy to do…

  • Max Owsley
    Posted at 15:27h, 15 November Reply

    If anyone actually witnessed the work being done, could arrest the mayor. …is that correct? As far as the mayor and some of the council, their oath means nothing, I have brought this up numerous times, only to be ignored. The Community needs some guidance on how to deal with these outlaws…

  • Ed Pence
    Posted at 15:31h, 15 November Reply

    Absolutely agree with your assessment Terry. As a resident, tax payer, voter and “media whore”/”troublemaker”, it is my hope that the Hancock County States Attorney will do the right thing this time and bring charges and prosecute!

  • Frank Rizzo
    Posted at 16:21h, 16 November Reply

    I’m starting to worry about what happens when it snows.

    I was planning to call the city and tell them to send a truck and a couple of guys to do my driveway. Those private companies charge WAY TOO MUCH! It’s like they think they have to make a profit or something.
    Luckily most cities are non profits and can distribute the charity as they see fit. It’s called public service isn’t it?

    Before all the digging nonsense I was thinking a fair price to have the city do my driveway would be $3.50 all in if its less than 20 inches and $5.00 for a real blizzard. An extra $1.00 to spread sand and salt if it’s icy since they will be there anyway and the salt and sand is on the truck anyway.

    Now I’m thinking that I might get jacked for as much as $10.00 every time it snows!

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