Cumberland Co. (ECWd) –
Toledo, Illinois is the County seat for Cumberland County. A small rural community surrounded by miles and miles of corn and beans in an agricultural bread basket of Illinois. With that setting, we find what some up north refer to as hayseeds, good ole boys, common folk. You know, the kind that looks you in the eye and when they tell you something you can trust their word, or their hand shake was their bond.
We digress. Times are changing and sadly, in the family rich community of Toledo, we once again find folks, who for reasons that escape us, just can’t seem to be honest with the people when they are exposed for simple and curable violations of the law.
We attended the Toledo Village Board meeting on July 3rd, 2017 because we had proof the meeting notice and agenda was not available for the public viewing 48 hours in advance. With hopes of one day finding a public body that will admit to the mistakes and simply fix them, we were once again disappointed.
I spoke with Village Attorney Tracey Willenborg prior to the meeting, advised the meeting was not properly posted in advance, and that we had video evidence to prove it. She spoke with the clerk who insisted the agenda was in fact posted on the bulletin board and she pointed to the agenda and said she stuck it right there on Friday while pointing to the now posted agenda.
One thing we can assure you, lawyers can only properly advise their clients when the client is truthful. When legal counsel does not get the truth, it leads to bigger problems for the public body.
July 1st, 2017, at 8:26 pm, a video was taken of the entrance which includes the very portion of the bulletin board where the clerk claimed the meeting was posted. In the still frame from that video (click here), you can see the empty spot on the bulletin board, lower right corner. Empty because there was nothing posted there as of Saturday night, 46.5 hours before the meeting.
A picture taken after the posting (click here) shows the once empty spot, now filled with a document that you cannot read from outside the locked outside door. Enlarging the photo reflects you can see that it is an agenda, but you can’t read anything on it.
The video evidence and first-hand knowledge all point to this meeting not being posted when they claimed, and not posted 48 hrs in advance.
The attorney did come into the meeting room with the clerk, and I believe the Mayor, and advise that although the agenda was posted properly, they were not going to have the meeting since it was not available for people to properly see what the agenda contained (video clip here).
The public trust erosion comes from statements like that which are based off the word of the client who was not honest with the attorney.
The meeting was NOT properly posted on that bulletin board as they claimed and the video, along with local citizens that are willing to sign an affidavit that it was not posted, once again point to public officials who just can’t seem to simply admit they were wrong and reschedule the meeting.
The reason this particular case is of interest is because of a previous Freedom of Information request for the training Certificates and FOIA training certificates. No one, other than Board member John E St. John, had complied with the required training until after my FOIA request (Copy of Certificates here).
This was a case where a simple FOIA triggered compliance, but it did little good. You would think, after so recently completeting the mandatory training, they would have known the agenda needed to be available to the public 48 hrs in advance, which it was not, regardless of what the Clerk claimed.