Effingham Co. (ECWd) -
During the failed attempt to hold a county board meeting last week, John Kraft raised an interesting point that garnered a response from the attorney that we have now confirmed was not true.
During the multi-year legal challenges the County has been dealing with as it relates to the Ambulance, we were informed the County had hired a private attorney to represent them. There are very limited exceptions for this process to be legal and certain steps must be followed.
Kraft: "I don't think you're the State's Attorney. I don't know if you have been appointed by a court to represent the County."
Koester: "I have Thank you"
No Sir, you have not been appointed by a court!
Records obtained today from our Freedom of Information request proves that no court appointed Mr. Koester, contrary to his claim they did. Why he would claim otherwise is concerning as Attorneys are expected to tell the truth, although we find regulary that is not the case when it comes to business with public bodies.
For starters, the Courts do not have the power to appoint an Assistant State's Attorney so if any such appointment did happen it would be illegal. We challenge anyone to find in the order from the Court, any language that appointed Chris Koester to be an Assistant State's Attorney.
What the court did was allow the County Board to fix their illegal hiring of Koester as they did not follow the law, which is clear in the actual Court Order. "The court believes the Board attempted to comply with the spirit of the law although it did not follow the letter of the law. The court will allow the defendants until April 21, 2015, to remedy this issue and properly authorize the SA to employ one additional Assistant State's Attorney,"
So it is clear by reading the Order from the Court, Chris Koester was not appointed to be an assistant state's attorney as he claimed.
Of additional interest in this case is the fact the law appears to have yet to be properly followed as it relates to the appointment of Koester as an Assistant State's Attorney. It would appear Altamont Ambulance either rolled over on this point or accepted the fact if they raised the point the courts would once again let them remedy their violation of law.
Key things the County must do in order to increase the number of Assistant State's Attorney's are listed below. Turns out, just as we suspected, this process was not followed initially and even after being told by the court to remedy the failure exposed in the court record, they still failed to follow the law in our opinion. (State Statute with highlighted mandates)
- the number of such assistants shall be determined by the county board
- the salaries of such assistants shall be fixed by the State's Attorney subject to budgetary limitations established by the county board and paid out of the county treasury in quarterly annual installments, on the order of the county board
Is there anyone that doesnt understand this two step approach the County Board must follow in order to hire an attorney as an Assistant State's Attorney?
Reading the minutes we find it must have been difficult as they once again failed to follow the letter of the law. The minutes do not reflect the County Board determined the number of assistants the State's Attorney can have. What they did was simply agree to the appointment of an additional Assistant State's Attorney. It's easy to argue they wanted to increase the number of Assistants however they did not set any number, they simply approved another hiring.
There is also nothing in the minutes that fixed the salaries of this new Assistant State's Attorney as the law requires. Instead of setting the salary for this attorney they appointed, they simply said the insurance company will pay for it. Well how special is that? Does anyone see a clause in the statute on appointing this attorney that excuses the county State's Attorney from setting the salary? Just becuase the Insurance company is on the hook and have agreed to pay, the salary must be set by the State's Attorney and that amount is what should be paid. Otherwise, the county's insurance company is paying what ever rate this attorney is billing at, which means he pretty much has an open checkbook on the matter, which is not permitted by the statute.
There is a County Board meeting June 2nd, 2017 at 10 am and I would suggest everyone that can attend show up and demand answers as to why the laws are not being followed, to the letter of the law, just as the Judge cited in his order.
You can watch the short video clip below where the Attorney falsely claims he was appointed by the court.