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May 21, 2024

Algonquin Township – State’s Attorney should prosecute OMA violation – Claw back sick pay

By Kirk Allen & John Kraft

On December 10, 2017

McHenry Co. (ECWd) –

The parting gift former Highway Commissioner Robert Miller gave to the Algonquin Township was a claim he was owed 263 sick days accumulated when he was an employee over 24 years ago.  That claim was supported by a document from 1997 that contains the claimed signature of a person no longer alive. We pointed out irregularities with two versions of that letter in this article.

During the meeting these claimed accumulated sick days were owed, there was a recess so that Miller could provide the documentation to support his claim.  Never mind it taking upwards of 20 minutes for him to produce the record from his office according to those present.

The minutes reflect:

“Hwy Commissioner Miller explained how the sick pay policy worked and that the issue was fully researched by the Township Attorney. Attorney Kelly concurred. “

Fully researched by the Township Attorney?  We would love to see the research and a written legal opinion on this one!  Not sure what legal precedent the Attorney relied upon but it is our understanding when a person leaves their place of employment, which Miller did the second he took elected office, they are paid what is owed to them at the time.  Never mind we exposed why this claim is to be questioned in this article in which the bookkeeper reports to the auditors there are no accumulated absences for the Road District, which Miller was part of.  I guess “fully researched” was not as full as we were lead to believe considering this claimed of “fully researched” missed the bookkeeper’s records.

The Agenda

The meeting where this claimed $47,381.84 in sick days were owed was NOT on the agenda for action to be taken.  In this case, we challenge anyone to show us where on this agenda there is any action to be taken to approve a single bill or payment to Robert Miller……..or anyone else for that matter.

This agenda was clearly insufficient to inform the public that the outgoing Highway Commissioner was going to get paid for sick days dating back over 20 years.  The agenda item of “Audit bills and Treasurer’s report” is just that, an Audit of bills and treasurers’ report.

Define the word Audit!  It does not imply an Audit is providing authority to pay anything.  Audits verify financials to be true and accurate.  Approval to pay a bill is an action item and there is nothing on the agenda to support the action taken to pay Miller’s claimed sick day obligation.

The State’s Attorney, whose motto is, “Justice is Ethics and Truth in Action”,  has the power to take action in this case as the two criteria for the public to act would no longer qualify.

Citizens options:

5 ILCS 120/3.5 (a) A person who believes that a violation of this Act by a public body has occurred may file a request for review with the Public Access Counselor established in the Office of the Attorney General not later than 60 days after the alleged violation. If facts concerning the violation are not discovered within the 60-day period, but are discovered at a later date, not exceeding 2 years after the alleged violation, by a person utilizing reasonable diligence, the request for review may be made within 60 days of the discovery of the alleged violation. The request for review must be in writing, must be signed by the requester, and must include a summary of the facts supporting the allegation.

Considering it has been well past the 60 days, the first AG option is of no value. The second option requires a person utilizing reasonable diligence to discover the violation.  In this case, anyone reading the agenda can see it and we doubt they would accept a request for review based on that provision.

However, the one person who has the power to not only enforce our law but bring trust back to the people by holding public officials accountable is the State’s Attorney.

5 ILCS 120/3 –Sec. 3. (a) Where the provisions of this Act are not complied with, or where there is probable cause to believe that the provisions of this Act will not be complied with, any person, including the State’s Attorney of the county in which such noncompliance may occur, may bring a civil action in the circuit court for the judicial circuit in which the alleged noncompliance has occurred or is about to occur, or in which the affected public body has its principal office, prior to or within 60 days of the meeting alleged to be in violation of this Act or, if facts concerning the meeting are not discovered within the 60-day period, within 60 days of the discovery of a violation by the State’s Attorney or, if the person timely files a request for review under Section 3.5, within 60 days of the decision by the Attorney General to resolve a request for review by a means other than the issuance of a binding opinion under subsection (e) of Section 3.5. 

Although the agenda was posted and available, the facts have not been discovered by the State’s Attorney until such matter is investigated by his office.  We encourage the citizens of Algonquin Township to file a formal complaint with the State’s Attorney regarding this alleged OMA violation by the Algonquin Township Board.  You can contact him by phone or email as provided on his web-page. ([email protected] or call at (815) 334-4159.)

We also encourage the State’s Attorney to take appropriate legal action in the courts and prosecute this as outlined by law and request the courts declare the awarding of claimed sick pay from over 24 years ago null and void and any funds obtained in violation of law to be recovered through all appropriate means.  This can and has been done in DuPage County when the College of DuPage Board of Trustees violated the open meetings act.  The time for citizen action had expired and the State’s Attorney took action based on a formal criminal complaint we provided and a $500,000 contract extension was voided.

When any State’s Attorney ignores these types of issues the public trust erodes which is not good for our communities or this great country.

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  • John
    Posted at 12:20h, 10 December

    Again the Watch Dogs laid the case out in black and white. If the states attorney doesn’t act on this one he ought to explain to the public why not.
    Never heard of accumulating sick days going back 24 years or even three years. Was this collection of sick days recorded and verified by the township each year? “Use it or lose it “is policy with many government agencies and private businesses. If he’s pulling this one maybe the township needs a forensic audit. Could this be another scam on the taxpayers? If the citizens don’t get involved these things will go on thinking no ones looking or paying attention. These boards ought to smarten up unless this is business as usual. Regardless this needs to be investigated!

  • 1mmf27
    Posted at 08:15h, 11 December

    thanks for reporting on this. I appreciate all the work you guys do.