MARSHALL, IL. (ECWd) -
Gary Strohm, Marshall Advocate, printed a piece of misinformation (unsubstantiated rumor) while bidding Terry Stepp goodbye from the Clark County Park District.
He claimed that "According to his [Stepp's] best estimate" the district received FOIA requests for 55,000 pages of information at a cost of well over $40,000. (both claims were debunked over a year ago)
Both of those "best estimates" are outright lies and another reason Terry Stepp's resignation is welcomed across the County as one giant step in moving the Park District forwards towards bigger and better things. Recent elections took care of the rest of it.
His tenure was filled with (although not all are attributed directly to him):
- illegal meetings
- comparing public commenters to ISIS
- a citizen's arrest for violating the Open Meetings Act
- willful violations of the Freedom of Information Act (here)
- losing an Appellate Court case where a unanimous decision overturned a highly questionable circuit court decision on the Park District's violation of a most basic requirement of Open Meetings
- voter petition fraud - even admitted to by a commissioner in a hearing
- appointments to the Ethics Commission with such blatant conflicts of interest it would even make House Speaker Madigan blush with embarrassment
- allowing the Ethics Commission to violate the law - great display of ethical conduct on that one LOL
- threats against citizens for requesting public records and writing about what they found
- strong-armed threats against land owner to somehow make her lease an adjacent lot
- a more than 3-year attempt at establishing a subdivision by leasing park property for many times less than a campsite would have cost
- commissioner with financial conflicts of interest getting paid nearly every month
- current and past commissioners being illegally compensated with perks and benefits not authorized by law
- failed last-ditch attempt at circumventing results of election on key contentious issue
- and many, many, other things
The "55,000 pages" is a complete fabrication - leading people to believe they actually printed 55,000 pages, when the actual fact is the overwhelming majority of those so-called pages were in the form of a database (spreadsheet) that was emailed and never printed or even asked to be printed.
The $40,000 for FOIA costs cannot be substantiated either - that number is greatly exaggerated and due to the Park District's own dishonesty and its failure to follow basic requirements of law. Any funds they expended on their attorney was a decision they made attempting to hide public information from the public, which failed miserably. No FOIA lawsuit against the Park District was ever won by the park district. No lawsuit for Open Meetings violations was ever won by the Park District.
That should give you a hint as to the level these people stooped to in order to hold illegal meetings and try and hide public records from the public. They failed on every turn.
Nice try Gary, the people didn't buy it.
Sure, we'll miss him being on the board - gives us less to write about, but most importantly, allows the Park District to move forward by complying with appropriate laws and doing what the voters want them to do - keep the park district as a park for all to enjoy, not as a subdivision for only a few.