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May 25, 2024

Nameoki Township’s FOIA Response Brings Bid Rigging Accusations And Threats Of Defamation Lawsuits –

By John Kraft & Kirk Allen

On October 25, 2023

Nameoki Township, Madison County, Ill. (ECWd) –

Public records of a public body are considered true and correct copies of originals and are able to be relied upon as true and correct.

Apparently not the case in Nameoki Township, where public comments revealing records provided by the township in response to a Freedom of Information Act request brought threats of lawsuits by Township Supervisor John “Eric” Foster, rebuke by the township attorney, and more threats of lawsuits from the Township Supervisor and its attorney.

Of course, we seriously doubt any of the accusations of slander and defamation would hold water in a court of law because the township provided the very records in question as its response to a direct request submitted under FOIA.

THE ISSUE:

During the October 24, 2023, meeting of the Nameoki Township Board of Trustees, Madison County Board Chairman Kurt Prenzler addressed the township board during public comment. The crux of his public comment was accusations that Nameoki Township Supervisor John “Eric” Foster had allegedly bid on two projects of the township through his company named “Honey-Do Home Repair, Inc.

Quote from Prenzler’s intended comment when he was interrupted: “Twice Township Supervisor [John] Eric Foster submitted bids from his company, Honey-Do Home Repair, Inc., to Nameoki Township, in early 2022 and 2023, for PEP (Park Enhancement Program) projects. One bid was dated February 12, 2022, for $21,870 dollars. The other bid was in the amount of $26,530 on January 17, 2023. Each time there was only one other bid, which was lower.”

Supervisor Eric Foster interrupted Prenzler and told him he was not allowed to make those comments since it was slander and defamation, and that he (Foster) did not submit any bid on any projects of the township. The township attorney also interjected comments seemingly to threaten lawsuits because of the public comment.

Prenzler then finished his public comment replacing the word “bids” with “whatever you call it” and after he finished there were more rebuttals from Supervisor Foster and the attorney – both insisting that Foster never submitted any bids, that the public comments made were false, and that the township may have lost a $15,000 grant because of the FOIAs and a published article, and if the township did lose the grant, that the township would look at filing suit against Prenzler in his personal capacity to force him to pay the township for the $15,000 grant loss.

Any such lawsuits would most likely be quickly tossed under the Anti-SLAPP Act, as these comments were clearly aimed at public officials, and used the very records provided by those public officials. The Supervisor and attorney should apologize for their conduct and speech.

The “true” public records as provided by the Township:

A Freedom of Information Act request was submitted on September 27, 2023, to Nameoki Township for “Copies of all bids in the possession of the township . . .

On October 5, 2023, the Township responded via email with the public records the township believed were responsive to the FOIA request, which included two attachments; one file named “BIDS.pdf” (from the 2023 project) and another file named “2022 KREKOVICH.pdf” (from the 2022 project).

In the “BIDS.pdf” document are two separate “bids” for the proposed 2023 township project to grade, form, and pour new handicap sidewalk from parking lot to pavilion, chain link fence work, basketball hoop work, and asphalt sealing and striping work, among others:

  • January 17, 2023, bid from Honey-Do Home Repair, Inc. (owned by the Township Supervisor) listing a “Total Estimate” of $26,530.00. This was signed by John E. Foster.
  • February 1, 2023, bid from D.M. Krekovich Co., Inc. listing a “Proposed estimate” of $22,710.00. This company performed work in 2022 on a different project and “estimate” and was paid in 2022.

During public comment, Foster and the township attorney both insisted Foster did not submit a “bid” but rather an “estimate” since the paper submitted said “estimate” on it. They claimed the word estimate was at the top of the paper, but it was not. Instead, it was towards the bottom and next to the total dollar amount.

Incidentally, the other “bid” also said “estimate” on it, so are we to believe there were no bids, but merely estimates? It needs to be noted that both documents indicate “Thank you and we appreciate your business”.  Such a statement appears to indicate they would do business with the Township, which if that were to happen with the first “bid” would be a violation of the township code.

Why did the township respond with these records as copies of bids, and label them “BIDS.pdf” if they were not actually bids?

Did the township provide false records to the FOIA requester, as they now insist the response was not accurate?

Why the accusations of wrongly “interpreting” the township-provided documents, when the township is who responded with those records when asked for copies of “bids.” How else could a person interpret this response?

Video of this interaction (sorry for the quality and orientation – I took it with my cell phone – the words spoken are the important parts of this video):

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9 Comments
  • Robert O. Bogue
    Posted at 06:57h, 26 October Reply

    What? “We’re not going to allow you to make those comments”….. during a public comment session, in a public meeting? Clearly they should not have interrupted the member of the audience.,
    What communist, socialist state do these township officials live in? Obviously they don’t believe in free speech, even when it calls out a legitimate concern.. As a public official it’s not their job to interrupt, debate, threaten, contest or try to coerce the public during this part of the public meeting and in public comments.
    Shame on them. and their ignorance. They are stupid.
    “Mr. Honey Do” needs to own up to the facts and resign for the good of the township. Violating the constitutional right that we, as Americans have to free speech is actionable. Filing a complaint with the Attorney General, and filing a suit against the board are options to consider. This is shameful example of government. .

  • NMWTLS
    Posted at 10:44h, 26 October Reply

    Oh yeah…another township rears its ugly head..

  • Jack Tarleton
    Posted at 11:41h, 26 October Reply

    One more in a long list of examples of why these little fiefdoms need to be abolished. Townships have long outlived their usefulness. Their only purpose now is providing employment for friends and family of people who manage to engineer their election to offices that are largely ignored by the public. All of the supposedly vital functions these units are supposed to perform could be performed more efficiently by counties, villages and cities.

    • Nick Lee Cohan
      Posted at 09:20h, 28 October Reply

      Well city governments aren’t any better than Townships,Granite City and Nameoki Township are “good Ole boy employers” only thing different is Citys are bigger same corruption.

      I wish everyone would get envolved and active and go to meetings this would stop, so we are partly to blame because of lack of interest, let’s get active all of us and put a stop to this MAKE YOUR VOICE HEARD
      Nick Cohan Nameoki PC
      Be blessed and Pray for America

  • 3-Strikes
    Posted at 12:44h, 26 October Reply

    Public comments, based upon information from a FOIA request is not slander…any lawyer should know that. For the benefit of Mr.. Foster and his attorney, the key ingredient in proving up a case of libel or slander is intent. As a taxpayer in Madison County, I hope Prenzler asks the FBI to open an investigation. If he doesn’t, I think others will seek assistance from the FBI. Let’s find out out if the activities of Mr. Foster were as pure as he asserts them to be. I’d also remind this Township Board that attempting to chill any person’s ability to make public comments via the use of veiled legal threats, is a First and Fourteenth Amendment violation…….just view the video provided..

  • John K
    Posted at 15:51h, 26 October Reply

    “What communist, socialist state do these township officials live in?”

    Actually, I was going to ask what “Homeowners Association” they thought they were running.

  • James M.
    Posted at 18:44h, 26 October Reply

    We will slap you with a slander and defamation suit if you use the term “bid” …….. Supervisor in the audio at 9:30 – “What you did with your article, Mr. Prenzler, is just spoiled our bid process, because we are still accepting bids on this year’s PEP Grant.” 9:52 – “what we have to do going forward since the bid process has been spoiled….” Attorney – 10:24 “Essentially what happened is the bid process is not done yet.” then proceeds to say it’s “impossible to get a good bid process on that.” Perhaps the attorney should sue herself, what a fool.

  • Nick Lee Cohan
    Posted at 21:44h, 26 October Reply

    I have been upset with Nameoki since my wife and I were told we could not come to Nameoki to conduct our legal business, we were told to leave the premisis. I have to asume it was because I defeated John Eric Foster for Nameoki PC. My wife and I went to Nameoki to file our homestead and disability exemption we were told to leave and go to Edwardsville or Granite City office. I pulled out my phone and recorded this conversation and as we were leaving the clerk told my wife and I “you need to attend church more often” The elected officials along with the failed Nameoki Township attorney are acting like thugs and criminals and this is more examples of their bad behavior.
    Nick Cohan Nameoki PC 3
    Be blessed and pray for America

  • Brian K Anderson
    Posted at 09:25h, 30 October Reply

    The threat of, or filing of lawsuits by public officials or bodies against citizens chills participation in government at all levels. Although SLAPP and the Citizen’s Participation Act were established to guard against such frivolous lawsuits, defending yourself through their use is a timely, frustrating, and expensive process.

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