Will Co. (ECWd) -
Once again we find Joliet Township Supervisor Danial Vera, with blind support from the Trustees, spending thousands of tax dollars in what appears to be a direct violation of the law. In this particular case, it appeared our request for records generated even more problems by actions that came "after" the request.
My request was simple:
- October 26, 2019 - A copy of all agreements or contracts entered into with recipients of Township funds for the purpose of providing services to Township residents as outlined in 60 ILCS 1/85-13(a). An example would be the YMCA. They provide Recreational services for Township residents. If funds are provided to them there should be a cooperative agreement or contract for that expenditure.
Township response was telling:
- November 1, 2019 - We do not have contracts in reference to the grants previously provided; however, we have attached agreements that we have with local senior organizations. After discussion with our attorney and further review of our files, we realized these should have been included. The agreement is a template and we do have executed agreements with each organization. We have also attached the list of organizations and their grant amounts. We also realized we should have included the grant with the Joliet Park District, see attached.
The very response proves the Township failed to have the required contracts for previously provided grant recipients. The law is crystal clear on that matter yet once again, Danial Vera has failed to follow it.
Sec. 85-13. Township services, generally. (a) The township board may either expend funds directly or may enter into any cooperative agreement or contract with any other governmental entity, not-for-profit corporation, non-profit community service association, or any for-profit business entity as provided in subsection (b) with respect to the expenditure of township funds, or funds made available to the township under the federal State and Local Fiscal Assistance Act of 1972, to provide any of the following services to the residents of the township:
The Township provided a draft agreement template in their initial response but failed to provide completed agreements that were applicable to my initial request. Because of their failure to provide those records I submitted another FOIA.
- November 12, 2019 - A copy of all the executed agreements you asserted you have as part of a response to the October 26, 2019, FOIA request. Asserting you have them does not comply with my FOIA request for those agreements.
November 19, 2020, I recieved the requested contracts and one, in particular, appears to be a straight-up misapplication of Senior Citizen Services Tax levy funds. The law outlines six purposes related to the receipt of Senior Tax Levy funds.
(60 ILCS 1/220-20)
Sec. 220-20. Purpose of senior citizen services. Any service, activity, facility, or guidance center for which township funds are expended or distributed under this Article shall be maintained and operated, in addition to any other purpose, for the following purposes:
(1) To decrease the sense of isolation and dependence that often accompanies old age.
(2) To enrich the social and intellectual life of older adults.
(3) To help older adults meet practical problems attendant on aging, such as health, diet, adjustment to changed circumstances, and finances.
(4) To help older adults contribute to community well-being as effective and useful citizens.
(5) To help persons approaching retirement to appropriately plan for it.
(6) To organize community interest in generally improving the climate of living for older adults.
(Source: P.A. 79-816; 88-62.)
Prairie State Legal Services Inc. contract outlines they are to receive $21,000.00 of Senior Citizen Services Tax levy funds. Most telling with the provided contract is the fact it was signed October 30th, 2019, four days "after" my initial request for such records and 8 days after they actually paid them $10,000.00. (Senior Fund General Ledger) That tells us there was no contract in place when those funds were expended. Expending such funds in advance of any actual agreement is yet another example that Supervisor Vera has no clue what he is doing and a board that blindly follows him.
Does Prairie State Legal Services provide any of the 6 Senior Services outlined in the Township Code?
"Prairie State Legal Services is an organization that offers free legal services for low income persons and those age 60 and over who have serious civil legal problems and need legal help to solve them."
Contribution for Political Gain?
A requirement in the contract points to either an ego that needs to be stroked or a desire to gain political points through what appears to be a clear abuse of taxpayer funds designed for seniors.
Item #9 in the contract: "To acknowledge on advertisements, letterheads, etc., that you are funded in part by Joliet Township."
Prairie State Legal Services Inc. spans across 36 counties in the state of Illinois. According to their annual report, there are only 2 Townships which contribute to their organization. Joliet and Bloomington Townships. Note that Bloomington Township is run by the City of Bloomington as they are one and the same, making Joliet Township the only Township who donates funds designed for specific senior purposes of which none include legal services.
Turns out the Prairie State Legal Services Inc. non-profit that has Federal Funding under the Older Americans Act - Title III. Their reported 2018 Revenue was $14,220,266.00. The expense of $12,696,800.00, of which $10,774,190.00 was for salaries, resulted in $1,523,466.00 of revenue for the year.
With a fund balance in 2018 of $8,712,969.00, coupled with the fact they do not provide the Senior social services outlined in the Township Code, why does Joliet Township contribute dedicated Senior tax funds with a contractual demand that their funding is credited on advertisements, letterheads, etc? Without the Joliet Township taxpayers funding, Prairie State Legal Services' bottom line for its last reporting would drop to a whopping $8,712,949.00. With that fact in mind, is it fair to the taxpayers for these dedicated funds to be spent this way? We think not.
I wonder how many of the Seniors Vera had attend a past meeting, to speak about how great he is, knows $59,250.00 of their dedicated Senior tax money was being spent this way since 2017?
Stay tuned for plenty more exposure of improper taxpayer funds being expended at the direction of Supervisor Vera.