Des Plaines, IL. (ECWd) -
This is another example of "we've always done it this way", the law be damned...
According to the Des Plaines Park District manual, the commissioners and anyone living in their household can use the district facilities, programs, etc. free of charge. According to the district's own Summer Program List (here), there is the potential for thousands of dollars of freebees for commissioners and anyone living in their household - and this is only the summer programs.
The facilities list (here) and the programs list (here) show just how massive this give away can be, and how this is, and should be, considered compensation..
This has to stop. It violates the Park District Code, the Constitution of Illinois, and the Illinois Criminal Code.
From the Des Plaines Park District Policy Manual:
The Board of Commissioners are permitted free use of Park District Facilities and programs for themselves and any person residing in their household.
Please note the complete lack of anything resembling "evaluating" the programs/services, or any other reason that serves a public purpose for this compensation to the commissioners.
We keep repeating this over and over again:
Article VIII, Section 1 (a) of the Illinois Constitution specifically states that "Public funds, property or credit shall be used only for public purposes" - how can freebees given to commissioners and anyone living in their household constitutes a public purpose, especially when the Park District Code explicitly forbids this compensation?
The Park District Code, in Section 4.1 prohibits any and all compensation to commissioners: "...
The members of such governing boards shall act as such without compensation..."
"Compensation" means anything of value received based on their position as commissioner. It need not be monetary, rather free use of facilities and programs does indeed have value.
The Executive Director of the Des Plaines Park District responded to my questions on this subject with an excuse of:
The commissioners are encouraged to participate in programs and events to provide feedback to improve the Park District. As part of their responsibilities to ensure the District is operating effectively the Park District provides them with use of facilities and programs. Most of them do not use any services or facilities but they do visit the facilities to visually see what is going on. We have not had a commissioner exceed $600 in value to issue them a 1099. They also attend community events for the Park District.
Des Plaines Park District
I asked another question, and have heard no response in more than a week. This is my follow-up question:
Thanks for the response, but this leads to more questions.
Why have it in policy that "any person residing in their household" can get free use?
Are there any written evaluations provided by the commissioners?
Are these evaluations annotated in Park District meeting minutes?
I know you said commissioners haven't exceeded $600 in value in a year, but have any "person residing in their household" exceeded it?
The appearance is that the district is trying to come up with something to justify the free use of park district facilities and programs. If that were not the case, there would be some sort of required written evaluation presented at a board meeting - and people residing in the households would not be included.