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December 6, 2022

Prairie Press Coverage Misleading About Health Department –

By Kirk Allen & John Kraft

On October 3, 2022

Edgar Co. (ECWd) –

After we exposed serious problems at the Edgar County Health Department in this article, the Prairie Press (PP), comes to the coverage late and with misleading and bogus information.

According to the Prairie Press:

  • “A meeting between the Edgar County States Attorney, the Edgar County Board of Health, and county health administrators is set for Friday morning to clarify questions about the significant increase in administrative salaries for the department.”

The truth of the matter is the County Health Department has called a special meeting.  It is not a meeting “between” anyone else.  It is a meeting of the board that their current legal counsel, the State’s Attorney, is going to attend.  While health administrators may attend, this meeting is open to anyone that wants to attend.  While the PP points to a significant increase in salaries as the topic, they said nothing about the false documents provided to the County Treasure’s office by Oliver Smith, the Health Department Board Chairman.

  • “The Special Meeting of the two boards and Edgar County States Attorney Tim Gilbert is set at 7:30 a.m. in the conference room at the health department on Shaw Ave.

There is no meeting between two boards. There is ONE board that is meeting, the Edgar County Health Department Board.

  • “Ollie Smith, who serves as chairman of the health department board, the board has experienced problems achieving a quorum due to the pandemic.  Smith said the board members discussed the administrative changes at a meeting where there was not a quorum but took no action.” “What happened is it got a little muddy and the minutes were not correct,” Smith Explained.”

Speaking about the administrative changes at a meeting where there was no quorum is not legal, however, that is not the issue.  The issue is about pay raises given to administrators without board approval.  Since April of 2021, we were provided minutes for every meeting and it appears only 4 meetings did not have a quorum, and of those 4 meetings, none of them had any discussion about pay raises for the administrators.  The Open Meetings Act was amended to permit public bodies to hold their meetings through an electronic method during a disaster. We found no record of the health department recording anything about the pandemic causing a problem with meeting attendance.  While we appreciate the PP quoting Ollie Smith, it’s sad no follow-up was addressed.  While Smith allegedly claimed it got a little muddy and the minutes were not correct, all it would take is one look at the minutes, and everyone, including the PP, could see the Health Board approved the minutes at each meeting and no one said a word about anything being muddy.   The fact is, Smith turned in fraudulent documents to the County Treasure that gave a pay raise to the Administrators, of which one document was after the fact as if to provide cover for the improper pay raises.

  • “The pandemic created issued for many health departments, especially when dealing with the pandemic and issues surrounding it”

It appears as if the PP is attempting to imply the pandemic had something to do with the numerous problems we exposed, of which none had a thing to do with the pandemic.  When a board chairman turns in documents claiming the board of health approved something that they never did, that is a problem and it had nothing to do with the pandemic.  Nor does the pandemic give employees the right to pay increases that their employer never authorized.

  • “Administrator Monica Dunn and assistant administration Janot mason switched positions earlier this summer, Ellis told the County Board Members Monday.”

Having attended the very meeting in question, I did not hear County Board Member Lisa Ellis tell the board what the PP claimed.  The truth of the matter is the County Board of Health approved the Administrator swap during the November meeting of 2021, which clearly was not this summer. A simple review of the minutes would have ensured accurate information was being shared with the public. (November 2021 minutes)

We would hope in the future that the PP would do a better job fact-checking things before reporting to the public.

 

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2 Comments
  • Cindy
    Posted at 19:28h, 03 October

    Your last sentence reminds me of childhood fairy tales like Easter bunnies and tooth fairies. Trying to be nice to prevaricators?

  • Justice Seeker
    Posted at 16:31h, 04 October

    No consequences. State’s attorney needs to do their job and prosecute! Illinois will not change as long as judicial branch is corrupt.

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