Madison Co., Ill. (ECWd) –
We have been attending meetings of the Veterans Assistance Commission of Madison County for several months, and have noticed at each and every meeting the Superintendent has made an art out of confusing the board members, so much so that they typically vote for whatever is on the agenda due to the orchestrated confusion presented to them during the meetings.
Once again, with an alleged “Chairman” of the board too weak, either mentally or physically to run the meeting, no other officer of the board wanting to run the meeting, and no vote of the commission to permit anyone other than the chairman or vice-chairman to run the meeting, the Superintendent “strong-armed” his way into the chairman’s seat and ran this meeting as he did several months ago. We are diligently waiting on any of the good Veterans on this commission to do the right and honorable thing and demand a commission member take charge of these meetings, but it appears unlikely to happen in the near future.
If they cannot run their own meetings, they should all resign from the commission.
In a one-page summary (see page 4 of this pdf) of the newly amended Military Veterans Assistance Act designed to reign in rouge VACs like this one, Superintendent Levite placed item number 1 as “JUST SAY NO TO THE AG!” – or in other words: “make them sue us for any information they want from us.” This shows a complete disregard for the statute and the intent of the amendments made, and he is leading the commissioners down a road they should not wish to be traveling on.
A really good example of this intentionally generated confusion occurred during the June 2023 meeting of the full commission and discussions related to the statutory powers of the commission to call a meeting to terminate the employment of the superintendent.
WHAT IS A VSO – RE: REMOVAL OF SUPERINTENDENT?
Starting at 31:23 and rambling on for more than 20 minutes in the meeting video, the superintendent starts the intentional confusion, designed to make it harder for the commission to terminate his employment, and, not surprisingly, his explanations contradict state law. The question was, did the amendment to the Military Veterans Assistance Act mean that a delegate from “any” three member VSOs could sign on to call a meeting to terminate the superintendent, or did it mean to imply that a delegate from at least three different types of VSOs had to sign for the meeting? The superintendent even wrongly stated that “implicit” in the removal powers is due process for the superintendent to object and state his case against his removal – but later in the meeting he says there is no due process for employees that he decides to terminate because they are at-will (he is at-will also…).
Several minutes are used to thoroughly confuse the voting commissioners, even though all they had to do is read the definition of VSO provided in the MVAA. The Superintendent said it was confusing that the MVAA did not state if any three VSOs could sign for a meeting to remove him, or if it had to be three different types of VSOs to call a meeting to remove him.
The MVAA defines “VSO” in Section 1:
“Veteran service organization” means a post, ship, camp, chapter, or detachment of a congressionally chartered or state chartered organization that (i) is formed by and for veterans, (ii) has a paid membership of at least 15 individuals, and (iii) provides responsible aid, assistance, or services to the veteran community.
The MVAA is clear in who could demand a meeting to terminate the superintendent in Section 9(e):
(e) A superintendent may be removed from office if, after delegates from no less than 3 different veteran service organizations file a written request calling for the superintendent’s removal, there is a vote from a majority of the full Commission membership in favor of such removal.
Current law indicates three different American Legion Posts (or three different VFW Posts) could demand a meeting to remove the superintendent according to state law. Mandating, as the superintendent suggested, that it had to be three members from three different types of VSOs, is wrong and violative of the MVAA.
ADOPTION OF POLICIES
More intentional confusion was interjected in the mandate that a VAC adopts ALL APPLICABLE policies of the county in which they are serving, which included procurement and budgets.
The superintendent and his attorney, who has never been hired by the commission but gets paid by the commission anyway, made a blanket declaration that none of the county policies were applicable to the VAC except for a couple of the employee policies not dealing with union employees.
To support the confusion, he referenced sheriff deputy uniforms and union personnel frequently to “convince” the commissioners it was too confusing for them to worry about.
From the MVAA:
(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 adopt 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.
What the superintendent would like the commissioner members to believe is that none of the county policies governing procurement, internet use, vehicle use, budget, and others are applicable to the VAC. We believe he is wrong, and that procurement and other policies are absolutely applicable to the VAC.
PUBLIC BODY OR NONPROFIT CORPORATION?
The superintendent furthers the confusion by insisting this VAC is a nonprofit corporation and a public body (both at the same time), and that they must follow the not-for-profit corporation act and the MVAA. He told the commission that the MVAA permits the VAC to adopt its own “organizational structure” and that is what permits them to be a nonprofit. There is no such language in the MVAA and there is no authorization in the MVAA or any other state law permitting them to be a nonprofit corporation.
By doing this, the superintendent and his attorney can continue to confuse the commission members and the public.
The bottom line is that this VAC and all other VACs in Illinois are public bodies and not nonprofit corporations. They must comply with the Illinois Open Meetings Act and the Freedom of Information Act and any other act regulating local governments. They are public bodies, not nonprofits.