Madison Co., Ill. (ECWd) –
The March 16, 2023, scheduled meeting of the full commission of the Veterans Assistance Commission of Madison County (“VACMC”) was something you would have to witness in person to believe.
According to an elected board officer, and prior to the meeting, Bradley Levite, the VAC Superintendent, an employee of the commission, instructed the elected board officers that they were not to sit at the head table and that they were not conducting the meeting, he was.
When we questioned his usurping of the commission members, he called on the Madison County Sheriff’s Department to keep me quiet.
He informed the Commission that he possessed an opinion from the VAC’s attorney, Thomas W. Burkart, telling him he had the authority to conduct the meeting – which was a meeting of the appointed delegates and alternates to the Commission. In response to a FOIA request, Levite claimed it was “the will of the assembly” for him to conduct the meeting – but there was never a vote of the “assembly” (an assembly does not exist). This attorney’s “opinion” will be discussed in a later article.
Also prior to the meeting, I asked Levite about the contract on the agenda for approval, and if the contract complied with the Madison County Procurement Ordinance. My reason for asking was that the newly passed and signed into law amendment to the Illinois Military Veterans Assistance Act mandates that all county VAC’s must comply with the local county’s procurement ordinances. See Section 9(g) of the Act, effective February 10, 2023.
(g) Each Veterans Assistance Commission shall, in writing, adopt all applicable policies already established and in place in its respective county, including, but not limited to, policies related to compensation, employee rights, ethics, procurement, and budget, and shall adapt those policies to fit its organizational structure. Those policies shall then be considered the policies of the Veterans Assistance Commission and they shall be implemented and adhered to, accordingly, by the superintendent and by the Commission. The Commission shall amend its adopted policies whenever a county board amends an applicable policy within 60 days of the county board amendment.
In response, Levite opined that the new amendment did not apply to the VACMC because it was new, and that even if it did, the VAC could amend the procurement policy to their liking. He was partially correct in the VAC’s ability to amend to policy, but the only amendments permitted in the Act are those changes to make the county policy fit the VAC’s “organizational structure” – not to amend any minimum bidding requirements.
One of the first items for action was to approve previous board meeting minutes. Levite, and most likely the attorney, had last year’s delegates and alternates approve those meeting minutes even thought they were no longer in office. See Section 9(a)(1) which mandates the new term of office for each commission member starts on March 1 of each year. This meeting was on March 16- which is 16 days after their term of office expired.
As the meeting progressed, the Superintendent who usurped the elected board officers, and the attorney for the VAC, both prohibited commission delegates and alternates from the same Veteran Service Organizations from casting votes – which directly contradicts the amended Act. See Section 9(a)(1):
. . . The Veterans Assistance Commissions shall allow each veteran service organization until March 1 to respond, at which time those selected and duly appointed delegates and alternates shall begin their term of office with full voting rights. . .
Attorney Burkart put out false information by stating alternates only vote in the absence of their delegates. This statement contradicts current state law.
One of the commission members wanted to violate the First Amendment rights of people who want to speak by mandating they were residents of Madison County. Any move in that direction would violate the Open Meetings Act and the First Amendment.
Please see our previous articles on this VAC, including their alleged forging of meeting minutes and permitting an employee to vote, and their wild assertion that the “executive board” could pass binding resolutions and force them onto the entire commission.