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September 29, 2022

Rochester FPD – “Lawyer said to say it was an oversight” says Chief Archer

By Kirk Allen & John Kraft

On December 17, 2020

Sangamon Co. (ECWd) –

We exposed some of the misinformation and false statements made by the Rochester FPD Board President Bill Riggs during the criminal investigation interview in this Article.

According to the recorded Illinois State Police interview of John Archer, the Rochester FPD Fire Chief claims the attorney for the district told them to say it was an oversight and that they should stop doing business with AEC, the company owned by Chief Archer.

We sought input from the attorney for the District who informed us that it would not be appropriate for him to comment due to his understanding the matter continues to be under review.

While Archer claims the lawyer told them to claim it was an oversight, such a claim is in direct conflict with the truth.

As reported in the previous article, “The one statement of interest, Riggs confirmed he was advised they were violating the law:  “Attorney James Sinclair made Riggs aware that they had been violating the Fire Protection District Act.”

Considering the lawyer documented the actual law three times and warned them of the potential criminal violation in 2018, 2019, and again in 2020, we find it hard to imagine he would advise his client to now claim their actions were an oversight.  If that was truly the advise from the attorney the citizens of Rochester FPD need to understand what such direction means.  In short, dont break the law but if you do just claim it was an oversight.  Why have laws if this is how they are circumvented?

As we review each documented claim during the criminal investigations it is clear little to no follow up to verify the claims has been done.  We say that because of the numerous statements made which we have been able to prove false using their own records.

For example, In the ISP interview there are claims by Board President Bill Riggs that are simply not true.

Riggs: 

  • “The captains get competitive bids before making purchases”
  • “Sometimes they will ask the department to go back and get more bids.”
  • “They typically get three bids”
  • Most anything we get three bids on”  –

We submitted a Freedom of Information Act request for all bids received for the last three years.

Considering the Board President, Bill Rigs, told the ISP that the captains get competitive bids (plural) before making purchases, sometimes go back and get more bids, “typically” get three bids, and also stated “Most anything we get three bids on“, you would think our request for three years worth of bids would result in a substantial amount of records.

Wrong!

The Rochester FPD provided 1 bid they received in the last three years. This single bid was from January 2020, which just happens to be just after we started digging into FPD purchase activity.  With only a single bid in three years, Riggs appears to have provided false information to the ISP and the ISP did nothing to validate Riggs claims.

According to Chief Archer: “Captain Polley and Captain Sunderland are responsible for getting competitive pricing.”

Considering the district only produced a single bid in three years we have a simple question. If the two captains are responsible for getting competitive pricing, where are those competitive prices?

A copy of the only bid received by the Rochester FPD in the last three years can be downloaded at this link or viewed below. We note their response did not include any bid received for the new Fire Engine they ordered in approximately December of 2019.

As we continue to review and fact check claims made to the ISP we will continue to share that information with the public. Our next article will disprove the belief A.E.C was providing the best pricing they could get.

RFPD - FOIA Response 11.18.20

 

 

 

 

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6 Comments
  • Tbaker
    Posted at 14:33h, 17 December

    This kind of garbage goes on in practically every form of a government entity. Here in our county alone we have the Board, FPD and local AG totally disregarding and blatantly lie about the law and regulations, even when brought to their attention.
    Even when caught most likely it will be ignored and go unpunished.

    • PK
      Posted at 13:07h, 18 December

      Garbage in garbage out.

      If the ends justify the means, I’d like to recognize a public commenter of the October 15, 2020 Rochester Fire Protection District meeting with the first “My broken purple heart award.” As a likely benefactor of Jim Edgar’s Ramp and self-proclaimed benefactor of the Fire Protection District’s Emergency Services, that public commenter is hereby qualified.

  • Rich Ramsey
    Posted at 01:45h, 19 December

    IF THE CHIEF IS FULL TIME, GETTING BIDS SHOULD BE A MAJOR PART IF HS JOB,
    NOT A VOLUNTEER CAPTAIN,

    • PK
      Posted at 13:23h, 19 December

      Alright then, the first award can go the public commenter who failed to recognize a certain esprit de corps in the meeting room by levying an unimaginative insult on the ECWd’s and Mr. Allen’s good name.

      “That’s not the way it works” – Kirk Allen

  • Ang
    Posted at 15:24h, 19 December

    The Watchdogs should look into billing of fees by these privately owned ambulance companies in the state. FOIA sometime for all fees paid out to private billing companies that handle ambulance transports for townahips. Hopefully, most business done is legit, but if you read about all these private firms contracting with townahips, then about all of the incompetence (financially) throughout the state, you wonder if anyone is overbilling these towns in some cases, then it isn’t properly caught and fixed, and so then there’s all kinds of taxpayer waste.

    One firm lost a potentially suicidal patient who escaped from an ambulance in the City of Chicago. Good grief. How do you lose custody of your quite possibly suicidal patient? And how much taxpayer money paid for that botched attempt at a transport when there aren’t enough government owned ambulances and private comtractors need to be called in to assist? Those bills are huge and many towns have to pay out monthly fees to these private operators. Are they closely tracking every dollar billed? Bet there is a lot of incompetence and lack of proper oversight to be found with regard to private EMS billing of townships.

    That could be a whole project for the Watchdogs right there if looking for ways to save taxpayers money. Waste and incompetence cost money just as does intentional fraud.

    • PK
      Posted at 18:39h, 19 December

      Appears you have the insight to begin such an endeavor yourself, ANG. The ECWd’s may yet have an opening at their upcoming training event next month. You’ll be good to go attending that event. Tapping into the ECWD’s experience with OMA and FOIA execution strategies will probably pay time savings and frustration dividends.

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