McHenry Co. (ECWd) -
Once again we validate a long-standing opinion that gift cards are the biggest form of public funds theft in the state. In an effort to get to the bottom of who was responsible, we filed a Freedom of Information Act request to Algonquin Township.
The request was sent directly to the Township Clerk, the keeper of all records. We finally received a response but only after she claimed to have never received our FOIA until January 3rd, 2018. When I ran our last story on her failures of responding to FOIA requests she created this excuse.
"I realize there are many outstanding FOIA requests and I am working on finding those this week as I am in the office this entire week. Please understand how time consuming these tasks are as I do not have any employees and I am slowly obtaining what I can with the outstanding requests. There were several requests in which I did not receive however they may have gone into my junk folder as I will be viewing that after this email is sent. I did not receive any FOIAs regarding the gift cards I will try to find any information regarding those that I can. I also do not have any information regarding any sick time to Bob Miller. I have asked the Supervisor's office to supply the annual reports as those reports were housed in that office prior to my taking office from what I have been told. I am not the only FOIA officer and I have been forwarding your requests to others if I do not have the documents or do not know where they may have been moved to.
My apologies I will try to get the answers out to you soon. As I said there were many FOIA requests on your webpage that you posted that I have not answered that I did not, in fact, receive or view. Could you please forward those to me again so that I make sure they are received properly now?"
We find her comments and excuses troubling. Our request was sent November 13th, 2017, to her and one other in a BCC. How is it that Karen Lukasik didn't get it and the other person did? Leaving all the excuses for another article, let's focus on the response I finally got for the gift cards purchased with public funds and given away.
SECTION 1. GENERAL PROVISIONS (a) Public funds, property or credit shall be used only for public purposes. (b) The State, units of local government and school districts shall incur obligations for payment or make payments from public funds only as authorized by law or ordinance. (c) Reports and records of the obligation, receipt and use of public funds of the State, units of local government and school districts are public records available for inspection by the public according to law. (Source: Illinois Constitution.)
Considering there is no provision in the Township code that authorizes "gifts", it appears all three prongs or our State Constitution have been violated. It is becoming clear that this local public body has some real problems with how they used taxpayer money.
What did we ask for?
- A record of who received the 3 phone gift cards purchased at Jewel/Osco on 08/02/16 with a Platinum American Express card in the name of Robert J Miller.
- A record of who received the 2 phone gift cards purchased at Jewel/Osco on 06/02/16 with a Platinum American Express card in the name of Robert J Miller.
- A record of who received the 5 gift cards of $250 each purchased 5/16/08 from Barn Nursery & Landscape Center – Purchased with a VISA card account number 4246 3112 9554 8835”
Considering there is no record of who these gift cards went to, a criminal investigation is appropriate and criminal charges should follow against those responsible for the purchase and dissemination of public funds in violation of our laws.
They can add the gift card scam to the laundry list of other alleged illegal actions that have taken place in this Township over the years.
- Buying women’s clothing on the Township Credit card and claiming it was protective equipment?
- Disneyland tickets that had NOTHING to do with a conference he attended?
- Airline tickets for private citizens
- Sirius XM radio subscriptions?
- Regular charging of meals to the taxpayers from Taco Bell to Ruth Chris Steak House?
- Taxpayers paying for meals for meetings with the Township Officials of Illinois?
- Cardigan Sweaters
- Hooters bill from Wisconsin as we all know that surely does not indicate a strong and effective leader.
- Giving away road salt purchased with taxpayer funds
- Selling Township Equipment that was never approved for such sale by the Electors.
- Underwear on the taxpayer dime
- Sealed bids that were not sealed and end up the winning bid.
- Paying for sick days that records point to no such obligation.
There is plenty more to expose, but I think most will get the point. We are at a point where the public trust in our system of government is rapidly decaying. We understand the system is slow and tedious, however, all indications with Algonquin Township point to the need for criminal charges against those responsible for the above-listed matters and others we know are being looked at. It can't be that hard to identify the perpetrators of these expenditures with no public purpose.
We ask the McHenry County State's Attorney to continue with Grand Jury investigations and show the public this type of behavior will not be tolerated by our elected officials at any level.
When prosecutors ignore the crimes of public officials the harm is two-fold. Those violating the law are emboldened to keep doing it and the public trust further decays. Those two elements create a vicious cycle of a downward spiral of our Constitutional Republic.