Shelby Co. (ECWd) -
We obtained a letter drafted by Chairman Bruce Cannon and it is clear he has not only omitted key facts on the matter regarding Alan Spesard, but he also completely misrepresented the facts.
We must expose Cannon for his complete disregard for the rule of law and attempts at whitewashing alleged criminal behavior by omitting key facts. He must be removed from office and the current County Board has that power. We encourage any board member place on the agenda an action item for his removal and let's see where the rest of the board stands with their vote.
We will break down each and every part of his letter. When we are done, it will be crystal clear Cannon is clueless.
"Alan Spesard has been the Shelby County engineer for over 20 years. I have been on the board for 12 years, and this is my second term as Chairman. During my term Alan has also been employed by the City of Shelbyville assisting them with municipal engineering of bridges, roads, sidewalks etc."
"It has been alleged that Mr. Spesard's work described above has been illegal. Specifically, it has been alleged that his work violated Article VIII Section 1 (a) of the Illinois Constitution, Public Funds or Property or credit shall be used only for public purposes."
The allegation related to the Illinois Constitution is the fact Shelby Engineering LLC, a company of which two county employees are partners in according to IDOT records, was using county facilities to operate out of. How convenient for Cannon to misrepresent the real issue in his opening paragraph.
"It has also been alleged that this work violated the terms of his contract with Shelby County that stated, "The County Engineer shall devote his full time and attention and the best efforts to the work of the Shelby County Highway Department and shall not actively conduct other business unrelated to the Shelby County Highway Department during normal business day and hours."
"This term has existed since Alan's employment began. The previous County directors and management verbally waived this contract term, not just during my term as Board Chairman, but during terms of board Chairman's over the entire term of Mr. Spesard's employment. The city and county work hand-in-hand and the County Board members that were engaged knew of Mr. Spesard's efforts and the practice of engineering has been maintained for many years. The work Mr. Spesard has done has not interfered with his County work."
How convenient for Cannon to claim the terms of Spesard's agreement were verbally waived. No such record exists to support that but even if there was, elected officials who allow illegal activity such as the use of public resources for the operation of a private building could well be wrapped up in the criminal investigation and potentially also face charges.
For Cannon to make the false claim that Spesard's work has not interfered with his county work shows how out of touch with truth Cannon is. Why has the county had so much overtime from the Highway Department? Is it because Shelby Engineering's work is being done for personal gain rather than county business? Note how Cannon once again avoids even mentioning Shelby Engineering LLC. Instead, he referred to Spesard's work as the "practice of engineering". Never mind the fact it was private business engineering he was doing on county time. Nice omission by the Chairman.
"The agreement which was verbal could have been documented better. But is is in my understanding that County Engineers employed prior to Mr. Spesard has similar arrangements. Since it has always been done that way it never occurred to me to have an attorney draft an intergovernmental agreement, or that we needed to include something in the contract with Mr. Spesard that allowed this working arrangement or that we need to remove the contract term that has been quoted."
The agreement was not verbal, it was in writing and signed by elected officials (see agreement). Cannon has been on the Board and he relies on "it has always been done that way"? Glad to see he admits doing it legally never occurred to him. However, once again, he misrepresents the real problem, Shelby Engineering LLC operating out of the county facility. That is not legal and cannot be cured with an intergovernmental agreement. Of interest is Cannon appears to be trying to provide cover for Spesard rather than accountability.
"It has further been alleged that Mr. Spesard has committed the crime of Official Misconduct. I am not a lawyer, but the statute provides that to commit this crime, a person must perform an act that he was forbidden by law to perform".
The law, specifically the Illinois Constitution, Article VIII Section 1(a) clearly states, "Public funds, property or credit shall be used only for public purposes." Just as Cannon admitted, we too admit we are not attorney's however we do have a reading comprehension beyond the 5th grade. The law says public property shall be used only for a public purpose. Thus, the law forbids the use of the public property for private purposes, as in operating a business for personal gain. I'm guessing Cannon didn't realize the ignorance of his attempt to dispute the law.
"Having been verbally asked to perform the duties of Municipal engineer at time of hire and the duties have been performed over the term of Mr. Spesard's hire. How could this be a crime? The County Board has in this case gone along with the verbal agreement. The County and City have encouraged Mr. Spesard to perform the engineering work that has led to new roads, bridges, and sidewalks."
Total misrepresentation of fact!
Once again, Cannon is fast and loose with the facts. The County Board did not go along with this as many on the County Board had no clue Spesard was operating a private business out of the county facility. And once again we must repeat, Cannon ignores the fact it was not just Spesard doing work for a municipality as the County Engineer. It was Spesard operating a private Engineering firm out of County Facilities. That is not legal. It would appear Cannon is making an admission that he encouraged private use of public funds by Shelby Engineering LLC without mentioning their name. Such an admission could be problematic for Cannon if there was ever a real prosecutor in Shelby County.
"It is my position that the County has not suffered any loss of any kind and because of the work arrangement described. While Mr. Spesard provided incredible value for both the City and the County."
Total misrepresentation of fact!
While Cannon is entitled to his opinion, we all know what those are like, everyone has one and most stink, especially when they are not based on truth. For Cannon to claim the county has not suffered any loss shows the taxpayers the level of ignorance of this outgoing elected official. Had Spesard devoted his time to county business rather than his private engineering business, Shelby Engineering LLC, there would have been a whole lot less overtime that had to be paid. A simple review of the payroll at the County Highway Department confirms this fact. More importantly, Cannon seems to forget it was not just Spesard doing private work on county time. Spesard's business partner Keith Petard also worked on private Shelby Engineering projects while on county time according to multiple sources. Such action harms the taxpayers as they did not give their tax dollars so that public employees can get paid to work their private business interests. Such an action is called theft of services but we don't expect the State's Attorney or Cannon to understand such a simple concept.
"Therefore, I am requesting your assistance as the attorney for the County Board subject to full board approval to work with Mr. Spesard's attorney and the City of Shelbyville to revise Mr Spesard's contract, and draft an intergovernmental agreement to permit him to conduct business using County resources on County time in accordance with past practices, so long as he performs all of his County work in a satisfactory manner."
A clear example of how things are done in Shelby County by select elected officials. While the county and the municipality absolutely can enter into an Intergovernmental Agreement, the desire to go in this direction is most telling. Why should county-wide taxpayers be on the hook for the City of Shelbyville's Engineering? Why not have him perform all the engineering county-wide through such agreements with all local governments? I am sure most have caught on by now but for those that missed it, Cannon once again selectively avoids mentioning Shelby Engineering. Heck, if he has this much time on his hands that he can do multiple jobs, why not reduce the pay for that position and have him focus on the real job, county engineering. Doing that would save taxpayers money and help ease the pain of million dollar deficit budget Cannon wants to be passed at next week's meeting.
Rather than hold Spesard accountable for his use of public resources for private gain, it appears Cannon has one interest, protect those who have ignored our laws for personal gain.
What other omission is there from Cannon?
Much like Spesard, Cannon makes no mention of the false or incomplete Statement of Economic Interest documents filed by Spesard for years. How convenient to miss that potential criminal violation in his letter. However, it appears Spesard and Cannon are united on one front. Both avoid mentioning Shelby Engineering LLC when it should be the main disclosure. Cannon makes no mention of it in his letter and Spesard too makes no mention of it in his required SEI documents. How special is that?
Stay tuned for plenty more exposure on self-dealing and illegal use of public resources by not just county employees but a particular elected official of the City Shelbyville.
We encourage everyone who can attend next weeks' County Board meeting to do so and speak your peace on this matter during public comment. The meeting is on Wednesday the 9th and will be at the pavilion near the lake damn.
You can download a copy of Cannon's letter to the State's Attorney at this link or view below.