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April 17, 2024

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

By Kirk Allen & John Kraft

On August 7, 2018

Coles Co. (ECWd) –

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

August 3, 2018, Article – “Also, the Illinois Department of Revenue has confirmed that dividing the county into four sections for the reassessment was legal.”

Now there is a no-brainer.  No one has ever said it was not legal to divide the county into four sections, known as the establishment of a quadrennial assessment schedule.  By not giving full background on this matter, the readers are left with an impression that it has been implied the dividing of the county was illegal, which is not the case at all.

What was illegal was not doing the entire county “before” adopting the quadrennial schedule.

August 3, 2018, Article – “However, a department spokesman declined to comment on the legality of hiring a contractor to do the work and on other issues related to the reassessment.”

Of course, they declined to comment on the legality. Doing so would result in a State Agency confirming this action was not allowed by law.  They all know it but are afraid to simply do the right thing and admit it and fix it.

August 3, 2018, Article – “Biddle said hiring Becker was in part because of time constraints for her office staff. She also said there’s precedent for the move, as Coles County did it for the 2001 reassessment and other counties have done it as well.”

So before determining if their actions were legal or not, they justify it because it was done in 2001?  Precedent is not set by past illegal actions.  Precedent is set by laws and higher court rulings.

August 3, 2018, Article – “Douglas County, for example, hired a company to do a reassessment of that county’s large industrial property in 2016.”

And this is why the paper’s reporting is so dangerous to our system of government.  They report another county did the same thing and still have not found one official legal opinion that says such an action is legal.  By reporting that other counties are doing it without questioning the legality appears to be a justification for Coles County to do it, thus leaving readers to draw a conclusion that since others are doing it must be ok, when in fact they have failed to provide one shred of law that permits an SAO to contract a person to do their job.

August 3, 2018, Article –“Biddle said there was no “malice” behind the project, which she said is an effort to be “fair and equal.” The assessments for residential property were maintained, so the other properties need to be addressed as well, she said.”

I have yet to hear anyone claim there was malice behind the project.  What has been claimed is the way they did it was not remotely fair and equal.

August 3, 2018, Article“I feel like I owe it to the taxpayers to get this done,” Biddle said. “What’s unfortunate is that it wasn’t done until now.”

So now, after working in that office for 30 years, now she feels like she owes it to the taxpayers to get this done?  Where was such dedication prior to taking the position of SOA?  What is unfortunate is the local paper failing to do the deep dive on an issue that effects each and every citizen in Coles County.

If reporters are not going to challenge the validity of claims made by public officials you can rest assured the public will continue to be misinformed and make their voting choices based off of insufficient information.

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