FOSTERBURG, IL. (ECWd) -
"Effective January 1, 2017, No local public agency may reimburse any
governing board member, employee, or officer for any entertainment expenses."
So says the Local Government Travel Expense Control Act, 50 ILCS 150.
On January 18, 2017, the FWD Board voted unanimously to adopt an Ordinance reflecting compliance with the Travel Expense Control Act.
Our last article exposed the illegal meeting in Missouri held by the Fosterburg Water District.
According to the Telegraph (click here) Fosterburg Water District Board Chairman Steve Strohbeck stated that "the events were a way of showing appreciation to the board. The cost of the events did not exceed the cost of the stipend." and Strobeck also noted that "no business was discussed at these events, they did not fall under the Illinois Open Meetings Act."
Thanks Chairman Strohbeck! That's better than a deposition! In your attempts at avoiding a Class C Misdemeanor for OMA violations, you admitted to what essentially are Felonies. No public business discussed = no public purpose.
The board has continued to vote that they will not accept compensation - which means they get no compensation - including compensation camouflaged as parties each year. Additionally, if no business was discussed, then he just admitted to violating Article VIII Section 1 of the Illinois Constitution (no public purpose) and the Local Government Travel Expense Control Act (entertainment expenses). Not to mention several years' worth of compensation never reported to the IRS for each board member who participated.
When asked about meetings or conferences held that weekend, Drury's response was there were 2, and 1 of them was the Fosterburg Water District and that they did not want a conference room, but instead a suite. In other words, these people allegedly took advantage of Drury and told them it was a conference, when according to Strohbeck it was nothing but a party.
At the Drury Plaza Hotel, receipts show each room had two occupants - which means each attendee brought another person with them on this party weekend (no public purpose for the 2nd person even if there was public business discussed). Drury's website allows a person to print a receipt as long as they know the date and last 4 of the credit card number - which we knew since the FOIA response for credit card statements listed them. Just like Bloomington's Mayor Tari Renner's girlfriend getting airfare charged for her on the city credit card, it is a violation of Article VIII, Section 1 of the Illinois Constitution and can be used as a predicate for felony Official Misconduct charges.
This weekend served no public purpose.
Fosterburg Water District also rented a Suite for their illegal "meeting" according to the Drury Plaza receipts.
What the minutes did reflect, was that on January 18, 2017, the board unanimously approved an Ordinance prohibiting the very purchases they made just three short weeks later. So they not only violated State law, they knowingly and willfully violated their Ordinance.
The Madison County Board Chairman and Madison County State's Attorney should take whatever action is necessary to remove the Board Members and employees participating in this event from office, and appoint new, responsible board members to the Fosterburg Water District.
This is unacceptable behavior and cannot be tolerated.