IROQUOIS CO. (ECWd) -
We recently received the following comment on a FIPHD article we wrote.
The words from the original comment are in "italics" - our response is in bold.
To start off with, here is the link to the Illinois Open Meetings Act, please open it up and follow along if you so desire.
"Gentlemen, I can’t wait until the truth comes out about all the so called ITEMS you have tried to smear the Health Department with. They have done nothing but try to save the taxpayers money, and you come along and pull this! All because our brilliant County Board Chairman doesn’t like the leader of the health department."
This has nothing to do with your County Board Chairman, we were contacted by 3 different people concerned with what they saw happening at FIPHD.
"You know what I think is funny? You guys claim to know it all, but you were 100% wrong when you said that they didn’t have a quorum with 4 members at their meeting, and thats incorrect! read your statutes! They only need 4 when there are only 7 voting members at the time! That was mistake number 1!"
We have never claimed to "know it all." The FIPHD board make-up consists of 8 positions (there are 8 seats on that board). A quorum of an 8 position board is 5. A majority of that quorum is 3. (Section 1.02 – definition of “meeting”)
For the purposes of this Act:
"Meeting" means any gathering, whether in person or by video or audio conference, telephone call, electronic means (such as, without limitation, electronic mail, electronic chat, and instant messaging), or other means of contemporaneous interactive communication, of a majority of a quorum of the members of a public body held for the purpose of discussing public business or, for a 5-member public body, a quorum of the members of a public body held for the purpose of discussing public business.
"Then Mr. Kraft in your statement to them on your recording, you stated that if they continue talking about public matters with no quorum that that is illegal. That too is incorrect. read your statutes! They can discuss anything they want by law, they just can’t vote!"
When a majority of a quorum is gathered together, for the purposes of discussing public business, it constitutes the legal definition of a meeting. When the 4 (majority of a quorum) were at the meeting, with no agenda posted, it became an illegal meeting. (Section 1.02 – definition of “meeting” and Section 2.02(a) and 2.02(c) – posting of agendas).
Also, the agenda was not posted on the FIPHD website.
Public notice of all meetings, whether open or closed to the public, shall be given as follows:
(a) Every public body shall give public notice of...An agenda for each regular meeting shall be posted at the principal office of the public body and at the location where the meeting is to be held at least 48 hours in advance of the holding of the meeting.
(c) ...The public body conducting a public meeting shall ensure that at least one copy of any requested notice and agenda for the meeting is continuously available for public review during the entire 48-hour period preceding the meeting. Posting of the notice and agenda on a website that is maintained by the public body satisfies the requirement for continuous posting under this subsection (c).
"Now, not having the agenda was wrong, However, I find it interesting that you Mr. Kraft, and our lovely county board chairman Mr. Copus said that it has to be posted on the building where the meeting is being held. That too is incorrect! Read your statutes!!"
See Section 2.02(a) and 2.02(c) – posting of agendas- YES, the agenda DOES have to be posted on the building where the meeting is being held.
An agenda for each regular meeting shall be posted at the principal office of the public body and at the location where the meeting is to be held at least 48 hours in advance of the holding of the meeting.
"Mr. Copus says that he drove by and didn’t see the agenda, so he kept going! That shows how much he knows, and cares about this whole situation.If he was smart, since appointing himself to the Health Board, he would have gone to the meeting regardless, but his arrogance doesn’t allow him to do so! Not to mention that the agenda not being on the outside of the building meant nothing!"
He was smart, in my opinion for not attending an illegal meeting when there was no agenda posted. Going to the meeting "regardless" is a violation of the law and is a Class C criminal misdemeanor (Section 4).
You might also want to inform that board of the public’s RIGHT TO SPEAK at their public meetings – you can’t make an agenda change within 48 hours of the meeting, or during the meeting (Section 2.06(g))
Any person violating any of the provisions of this Act, except subsection (b), (c), (d), or (e) of Section 1.05, shall be guilty of a Class C misdemeanor.
Section 2.06(g) Any person shall be permitted an opportunity to address public officials under the rules established and recorded by the public body.
"If you want to be the awesome investigators you say you are, then why don’t we investigate Mr. Copus and the County board. How bout the lawn mowers that were sold, and bought by Kyle Andersons (Copus’s right hand man) father in law. Also, how about the county hiring freeze, and the fact that Mr. Copus hired a secretery for himself! And don’t even get me going on Mr. Copus’s personal financial situation! That will come out in due time I assure you! How, when asked by a fellow county board member, why a committee didn’t interview the 2 new candidates for the health board, can our County Board Chairman say that “this is a special circumstance”!! He cannot just do what he wants. But he does.
[First of all, we have never stated we were investigators, but investigative reporters (this part added on 27MAR19182013)]If you understand the statute, it's clear the position of County Chairman has special powers and duties established by law, and contrary to what you "want" the law to say, it's very clear, the Chairman does in fact have the power to appoint, with the consent of the board. That means it's HIS job and only his job to appoint people to those positions and it's up to the board as a whole to approve or disprove. Chairman brings the name he wants, like it or not, it's the law! Board votes up or down on those names, it's the law!
55 ILCS 5/5-25012)
(from Ch. 34, par. 5-25012)
Board of health.
Except in those cases where a board of 10 or 12 members is provided for as authorized in this Section, each county health department shall be managed by a board of health consisting of 8 members appointed by the president or chairman of the county board, with the approval of the county board
And for whatever reason, we have some county board members that go along with his every move. It will bite them, as it will the county when all is said and done! And my last point is this. For years, the Health Department has been audited not once a year, but twice. Once by an agency that they have hired, and once by the agency that the County Board uses. And all this time, there has never been an issue at all!!! We are talking years and years, by either auditing firm. Mr. Copus has said that there are issues, along with yourself, but yet neither of you can get the Ford County Board to agree with you! That explains it all."
Auditors are only concerned with whether the numbers are accounted for – they do not look to see if the money was spent according to the laws and statutes that apply. As a matter of fact, prior to an audit, at least in Edgar County, the county board has a meeting with the auditors and tell them what to look at – they look at anything else, they cannot charge the county for it. Take a look at your audit and see if there is not the same “disclaimer” in your audits as there are in ours. Also, let's not forget Dixon, Illinois where they went through 20 years of audits and "nothing" was found yet we now know that woman stole over $53 Million Dollars. Don't put stock in audits unless it's a forensic audit!
"It is a witchhunt, and nothing else. The sad part is, you are smearing good peoples names along the way. Including doctors who serve on the board, and people that have given of their time for years to help the 2 counties. It cracks me up about the jewelry purchases, and hotels. Wait until you find out what those are."
Don’t see where we have smeared anyone’s names – unless you count smearing as reporting the truth according to the public documents provided by the FIPHD. We already know what the jewelry purchase are (at least part of them) – gifts for longevity IE: 20 yrs, 30 yrs, of service, etc. As far as hotels, it's a red flag item that may or may not have any issues with it, but history has shown spouses tend to use the room as well and in many cases the public dime picks up the difference, which is not permitted. That would fall under private use of public funds, which is a violation of our Illinois Constitution if it happens. Only a forensic audit will show what really happen.
"You should have done your homework before you started your smear campaign! And why do none of the local papers not run any of your stories down your way gentlemen. Don’t worry, we all know why!!!!!"
“beholden to their advertisers” – and by the way, they have, in the past couple of months, started to run some of the same subject matter in the local paper. Conflict of Interest articles come to mind here…issues with Airport contracts, etc….
But for the sake of discussion, what happens to a paper that plays second fiddle to another publication or web site by running the same stories? People see real quickly that the paper doing that isn't the "leading."
"I’m all for making sure our local Government is on the up and up, but there is a right way and a wrong way to go about it. Even when you have records in front of you, you don’t know what they are for, so I can’t wait until the truth comes out! Remember, if 2 auditors found nothing for years, what makes you think you have!! You will find out! And so will the good people of this County. And then maybe everyone will see Copus for the fraud, and cheat, and power hungry person that he is!! And please make sure you guys are up on your statutes if you are going to post them on your site, and call people on them every chance you get!!!"
Thanks for your comments.