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July 13, 2024

South Sangamon Water Commission Gives Contracted Engineer Lifetime Recreational Use Of Public Property –

By John Kraft & Kirk Allen

On November 2, 2016


In true self-serving fashion, one of the contracted Engineers for the South Sangamon Water Commission has reaped a benefit no other person in this state can touch – he managed to get the SSWC to give him an easement for recreational, hunting, and 4-wheeling purposes, for him and his entire family, for the rest of his natural life. We believe this public property to be in the range of 47 – 80 acres in size based on public records provided under the Freedom Of Information Act.

Joseph Greene is the President of Greene and Bradford, Inc., an Engineering firm based out of Springfield, Illinois.

Throughout the formation stages of the South Sangamon Water Commission, Greene and Bradford was contracted to assist, and their meetings were even held in the Greene and Bradford offices, including the very first official meeting ever held to form the district.

Joseph Greene was later intimately involved in real estate purchases for the SSWC.

In 2009, the SSWC agreed to purchase real estate from “Spurgeon” – which included restrictive covenants in favor of the seller. This was placed as Ordinance Number 09-05.

In February of 2011, Joseph Greene was contracted to be the “STRAW MAN” purchaser for “Spurgeon” real estate the SSWC wanted to obtain, and owner was not keen on selling it to the district. There were several properties purchase over the next month or so, each with their own contract, including 37.5 acres, 47 acres, and another 47.5 acres.

Keep in mind the contract with Joe Greene stated his full and complete compensation for acting as “straw man” was $10 for each contract, which should have totaled $30 – and no more.

Just two months after completing the final purchase, the South Sangamon Water Commission passed another ordinance granting Joe Greene an “Easement on the former Spurgeon properties to use as hunting, recreation, and 4-wheeling for him and his family for the rest of his natural life. So they gave special use to public property, that their Engineer played a part in convincing them to purchase, and then later cashed in on his very own life-time private use of the property.

According to public records, he paid “less than $100” for this lifetime private hunting recreation resort just minutes from downtown Springfield. Not bad for a $30 job…

There are several ethical issues with this arrangement, the first being constitutional violations since this would never pass as being a “public purpose”, not to mention several precedent-setting court cases deeming that “public bodies are bound to administer property faithfully, honestly, and justly, and if it is guilty of a breach of trust by disposing of its valuable property for little or no consideration, it is regarded as acting on behalf of an individual. Using forms of legislation, such as Ordinances or Easements, in committing such a breach of trust does not make any difference on the act. It will not be considered an exercise of political power for public purpose, and the privilege of exemption from judicial interference terminates where legislation action ends.

The Illinois Supreme Court has even stated that “public property must be sold, or leased, for the most the market can bring, anything less is a gift, and not legal.

We believe this “gift” of the use of public property violates the public trust and must be nullified.

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