Coles Co. (ECWd)-
Get caught violating the law and more often than not, public officials will do the following.
- Ignore you
- Deny they did anything wrong
- Make excuses
- Cover up their actions
Coles county requested bids from two people for assessments in the county. We asked for the bid publication and find they violated the procurement code for county government. The fact they were seeking bids was never published, a requirement we wrote about in this article. Not only did they not publish they were seeking bids, they told one requester of records that it was not required as it was a professional service. One only needs to review the bid proposal to see the person admits to having limited experience, and to ensure competency, he will take some classes. That hardly qualifies for professional services:
Professional service means the person being hired possesses a high degree of professional skill where the ability or fitness of the individual plays an important part.
Clearly, when a person admits in his proposal he has limited experience, he does not meet the criteria of possessing a high degree of professional skill, not to mention there are quite a few assessors/appraisers that were denied the chance to compete for this business. How many assessors or appraisers would have done the same work for less money? We will never know, thanks to the failing to follow written policies/laws.
After getting paid for over a year, we proved he had not complied with his proposal and did not take the classes he said he would. Most people would call it a breach of contract. We raised the issue with the county, and presto, they now claim he took the classes, which confirms he had not before, just as we pointed out.
We raised the issue of legality of contracting with a person to do the Supervisor of Assessments' job during a county board meeting. State's Attorney Brian Bower assured me he would look into our allegation and get back with us. Keep in mind, when I exposed this I provided him the statute that outlines the powers of the Supervisor of Assessments. Nothing in the statute permits her to contract. We wrote about that in this article.
Over a month of silence (Ignored)
This past Coles County Board meeting was met with a new twist. Finger-pointing by the County Chairman and State's Attorney in the form of, we didn't do anything (deny), it was the Supervisor of Assessments. Now they claim there was no contract, but instead this bid proposal provided under the claim it was done under the Professional Services clause, is just a proposal (excuses). Never mind the fact the county board voted on it, not the Supervisor of Assessments.
Now, the State's Attorney, County Board Chairman, and the Supervisor of Assessments claim he is an employee. To date, the county has not produced any agenda or minutes where the county board considered and fixed the compensation of Mr. Becker, both requirements under the law, nor have they produce the minutes where the board gave their "advice and consent" to the hiring of Mr. Becker as required by law. They have not produced any IRS W2 or 1099, and we have confirmed there was no employment application for Mr. Becker. (Coverup?)
Now for the lies:
- The paper trail points to a contract awarded to Robert Becker that was never put out for bid under a false claim it was not needed because of a claimed exemption. So how did we go from justification for not bidding out a contract, to there is no contract because he is an employee?
- Since when does an employee submit invoices for payment that includes "Thanks for your business"? It's clear, Mr. Becker is a contracted vendor for the county and not an employee as he is being paid based off of submitted invoices and there are no taxes being withheld as required by law for employees.
- County Chairman Metzger claims the $115,000.00 value of this bid proposal was not for one year, which I insinuated during the meeting. He immediately responded that it was not for one year, it was a four-year contract. OOOPS! He admitted it was a contract and everyone in the room knows he knows what this really is. One minute it's a 4-year contract while moments earlier it's not a contract for services but a contract for employment with the county.
- Chairman Metzger pointed out this $115K value was for a four-year deal. Really? Says who? With What Proof? The proposal has absolutely no reference to how many days, weeks, months, or years this claimed service is going to be provided so where did he come up with this being a 4-year deal?
We suspect we will be able to pile on a few more lies once several requests for records are answered but for now, I think the public gets it.
These public officials hired an insider to do the job of the Supervisor of Assessments, circumvented the law, got caught, and now have chose the path to lie about out it. Each and every one of them should resign for their clear inability to be honest with the public.
And for those board members who sat there in silence, Silence is Consent! Speak up and fix this mess or you too need to resign.