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April 16, 2024

Coles County -Insufficient reporting keeps citizens in the dark – Part IV

By Kirk Allen & John Kraft

On August 7, 2018

Coles Co. (ECWd) –

As promised, Part IV of the five-part series. See Part I , Part II, and Part III to follow the chain of events that show why the local reporting is so insufficient.

August 3, 2018 Article –“Bower said he made a legal recommendation on the change but cited confidentiality requirements when asked about its origin.”

“Confidentiality requirements?”

There is no such thing when it comes to a recommendation or even a legal opinion.  An attorney-client privilege, if that is what he is implying, provides the privilege to the client.  If the client wants to break privilege and tell the world they have the right to do that as there is no such thing as a confidentiality requirement for a legal opinion.  Asking the SAO for any legal recommendation made by the SA and I suspect it was a verbal one and not in writing.  Either way, the SAO is not bound to confidentiality of such an opinion or recommendation.

The reporter says the States’ Attorney made a legal recommendation on the change and cited confidentiality requirements when “asked about its origin”?  The origin of the legal recommendation was Bower so what origin is the reporter asking about?

August 3, 2018 Article –“He said Biddle has indicated she considers Becker to be a county employee so making the pay change was “more consistent with operations.” It won’t affect how the courts consider the lawsuits’ contentions, he said.”

So the State’s Attorney, the same guy that claimed Biddle hired him as an employee, now says Biddle indicated she considers Becker to be a county employee?  How special! Isn’t that the position they tried to claim back in January, as outlined in the video in this article?  If what they claimed in January was true why the sudden change in pay status.  If he truly was an employee all along there would be no need for a change in pay status from vendor to employee.

The truth of the matter is the Quo Warranto case was filed and they know it is on point and what they did was wrong so this is their way of fixing it, so they think.

August 3, 2018, Article –“Also in the federal lawsuit, the Concerned Taxpayers say applying the new values to each of the county’s four sections one by one, instead of applying them countywide at the end of the project, increases the tax burden on business owners with the new values.”

No, that is not found in the Federal lawsuit.  The three-count lawsuit specifically spells out the alleged Fourteenth Amendment violation and says nothing about applying the assessments countywide at the end of the project. But please, don’t take my word for it, read it for yourself at this link.

August 3, 2018, Article“The county followed guidelines provided by the Illinois Department of Revenue in deciding how to conduct the project, county board Chairman Stan Metzger said. The main thing, he said, is the county addressed an overdue issue.”

What exactly is the “project” they are referring to?  If it is getting the Countywide Commercial and Industrial property assessed we challenge both the paper and the County to produce any guidelines “provided” by the IDOR.  As far as the main thing being addressing an overdue issue, is it asking too much for that issue to be done in compliance with all the property tax assessment laws?

August 3, 2018, Article “Nobody likes property taxes but it needed to be brought to an accurate situation,” Metzger said. “If it’s not current and accurate as possible, it’s not fair to anyone.”

According to an annual filing with IDOR by the SOA office, property tax assessments have been true and accurate every year since 2001.  They filed papers with IDOR upon completion of assessments every year so how is it they can now claim otherwise? Were they lying to the state all those previous years?

August 3, 2018, Article “Bower refused a Concerned Taxpayers’ request to take legal action to stop the reassessment, based on the issue of Becker’s employment status.”

I don’t recall the Concerned Taxpayers asking for reassessments to be stopped based on the issue of Becker’s employment status.  I do recall they have asked that the State’s Attorney take action to stop Becker from doing those assessments as he was not legally hired to do them.  Claiming the Concerned Taxpayers want reassessments stopped is inconsistent with everything we have heard at just about every meeting.  They simply want the law followed and properly enforced, which to date has not happened with the County Board, SOA office, and State’s Attorney’s office.

August 3, 2018, Article -“While he’s said he thinks Becker’s hiring was legal, in his written reply to the group, Bower said the matter is up to the courts to decide. He repeated that position after the change in Becker’s payment method.”

If he thinks the hiring was legal, why make a change from vendor status to an employee?  Sadly, it could be fixed by him confirming the Concerned Taxpayers have been correct all along and that the contracting of Becker was not done legally.  He could fix it but doing so would mean he has to admit the wrong happen under his legal representation and rest assured, lawyers, don’t like admitting they were wrong. Since Bower will not act on the matter, yes, it will be up to the Court to decide.

Stay tuned for Part V.

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