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December 6, 2022

AG: No Open Meetings Violation During Shelby County’s Sep 8th Meeting; Acting Engineer Never Appointed –

By John Kraft & Kirk Allen

On November 10, 2022

Shelby Co., IL. (ECWd) –

On November 4, 2022, the Illinois Attorney General’s Public Access Counselor issued its determination letter stating that the Shelby County Board did not violate the open meetings act in connection with a notice of final action taken at its September 8, 2022, meeting.

This is the meeting where Kraft objected to the action being taken based on the language on the agenda. I asserted the final action taken was actually to hire Mr. Wetherell as Acting County Engineer when the agenda specifically stated the county was asking IDOT to approve his appointment (not to actually appoint him).

From the Determination Letter (emphasis added):

  • Agenda Item: “Discussion and vote on the Resolution to Request consent from IDOT (Form BLR 02130) to appoint Dale Wetherell as acting County Highway Engineer
  • The Shelby County State’s Attorney replied to the AG PAC’s inquiry and told the AG that “the board voted to approve IDOT’s consent to appoint Mr. Dale Wetherell as acting county engineer. The appointment *** was not finalized until September 26, 2022…
  • The AG concluded that “based on the materials provided to this office” the action the board took at the September 8, 2022, meeting was the adoption of a resolution requesting IDOT’s consent to the appointment of Wetherell as Acting County Engineer. The board did not take final action to appoint Wetherell at the meeting

Which leads to more questions:

  • When did the board take action to “appoint” Mr. Wetherell as Acting County Engineer if it did not do so at the September 8, 2022, meeting?
  • Were there any later public meetings of the county board to appoint Mr. Wetherell?
  • Is he properly appointed as Acting County Engineer if there was no actual appointment by the county board?

We understand the PAC’s statutory authority is restricted to only alleged violations of the Open Meetings Act and Freedom of Information Act, and it cannot weigh in on compliance or violations of other laws.

The meeting minutes from the Sep 8 meeting do not reflect Wetherell’s appointment: “Coffman stated due to of the resignation of Steve Dewitt on June 10 as County Highway Engineer, the board needed to appoint an acting county highway engineer. Former board member Dale Wetherell had offered to be the acting county highway engineer in the interim.  IDOT Resolution form BLR02130, which is a resolution to request consent from IDOT for the County to appoint an acting County Highway Engineer was presented.  Per the form, the County is requesting consent from IDOT.  The return of the signed form signifies IDOT’s consent.”

It is clear to us the county board still thinks it appointed Wetherell because there was never a later appointment after IDOT’s consent. But there he is, signing timecards without being appointed to his position.

While the board may have skirted around this issue, it now appears there was never a proper appointment of the Acting County Engineer – according to this determination letter and the information given to the AG by the State’s Attorney.

 

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