Shelby Co. (ECWd) –
For years we have referred to election season as the silly season because of all the lies and misinformation spread by those seeking office, and election law violations such as signs being placed on public property and other election law malfeasance that inundates our tip line every election cycle.
Shelby County could be the poster child for the State of Illinois this election season and it’s becoming clear there is an active push to misrepresent the truth of numerous matters in hopes of washing massive wrongdoing under the rug, which has been the norm in this county for years.
Missy Haynes who is running for County Treasurer in spite of her own payroll problems while employed by the county, as covered in articles here, and here, might want to learn the basics of the election law which forbids placing campaign signs on public property and let her supporters know the law on sign placement, assuming it was them rather than her that placed the signs in the pictures. We know the sign at the township was taken down shortly after some locals raised the issue. The one at the stop sign was still there a few days ago.
Kroncke stated in part: “The final result of the audit was a net underpayment to employees of $6,283.” (emphasis added)(full press release can be found on the Shelby County State’s Attorney Facebook page)
This misrepresentation resulted in a massive misinformation campaign being spread throughout the county in what appears to be an attempt to trivialize the concerns raised by the current County Treasurer Erica Firnhaber. For example, we have had people blame the treasurer for an expensive audit, (approved by the board, not the treasurer) that they believe only exposed $6,283.00 in underpayments to the deputies, which is the figure claimed by the State’s Attorney in her press release.
According to the forensic audit report, the actual underpayment to employees was $332,598.00, which I hope we can all agree is a far cry from a claimed $6,283.00.
The “final result” as it relates to employee compensation could be in excess of $350,000.00 if the county does nothing to fix what was exposed by the Treasure. As it stands, the union employees who were underpaid $332,598.00 can recover those funds through a simple Federal lawsuit, and not only would they recover what is owed but the taxpayers would be on the hook for the attorney fees and court costs under the Federal Labor Laws.
Couple that with any future costs to recover the $326,315.00 owed to the county, I think most would agree the “final result” far exceeds the figure represented by the State’s Attorney and is being echoed by numerous supporters of certain candidates for office.
We note that Kroncke has made no comment about the auditor’s confirmation of 11,808 hours paid out but never worked.
With implications there was nothing criminal regarding the payroll malfeasance being spread this election cycle, can anyone explain why three Law Enforcement Committee members signed a letter dated May 8, 2020,(click here for a copy of the letter), that outlines illegal actions that took place clear back in 2015? I say illegal because the letter points to the Sheriff’s office providing compensation not found in the FOP contract to four sergeants and did so without any approval from the county board. More importantly, the forensic auditor confirmed that this unapproved compensation was being paid not to just four sergeants as claimed in the document created “after” the criminal investigation was underway, but it expanded to two secretaries and one dispatcher, Tina Wade, Erica Bailey, and Bob Zakowski. Those three employees were not sergeants, so how is it they drew this extra pay under this unapproved compensation package? (Click here for the supporting document created by the Forensic Auditor)
Who creates a document to explain what happened 5 years earlier? Why? Who created this document? The 2020 letter appears to have been created for the purpose of “justifying” improper payments to employees.
We have confirmed that the State Police never spoke with the forensic auditor nor would they return the calls of the current treasurer who had additional information and evidence to share. While the AG also refused to speak with the current Treasurer, we find it troubling they had no issues with speaking with Kroncke who was providing certain documents that appeared to be justifications for certain payroll malfeasance. One of the records Kroncke provided the AG was not found in any of the ISP reports we obtained from the AG. That begs the question, why was Kroncke receiving records from the Sheriff’s office and forwarding them to the Attorney General? So much for recusing herself.
And for the final exposure of more misinformation being spread in Shelby County, look no further than communications the State’s Attorney had with the Attorney General regarding the County Highway Engineer. We obtained this email from the Attorney General and as you can see, Kroncke confirms a criminal investigation regarding the Highway Engineer, who was Alan Spesard at the time, is being handled by the Illinois State Police, Special Investigations Unit. We mention this because there has been no mention of any completed investigation or determination to not charge Alan Spesard in the Press Release issued by Kroncke.
For those that insist we were lying about a criminal investigation going on regarding Spesard’s actions while county engineer you can no longer make such claims in good faith. We understand it was the federal authorities who passed the matter on to the ISP. If there was nothing wrong, we are confident the federal authorities would have never turned it over to the state. We wonder why this was never disclosed to the full County Board?
How many people in the county know that County Treasurer Erica Firnhaber was told by a county-hired attorney that she needed a criminal investigation into the Sheriff’s payroll matter? When a person raises the flag to problems and wants them fixed, that person is not the problem. Rather than initiate a criminal investigation the former State’s Attorney shrugged it off and told Firnhaber to do what she thinks she needs to do.
As we can now all see, there is always more to the story, especially during an election cycle. We need more people doing the right thing rather than candidates and their supporters spreading lies and misinformation in hopes of getting rid of the real whistleblower to the problems in Shelby County. For those that are hearing a lot of this misinformation, it’s high time you call the liars out and expose them for participating in the worst kind of political mudslinging there is.
We have submitted numerous Freedom of Information Act requests regarding the investigation of the Highway Engineer and will update you with future articles as that information comes in.