Cook Co. (ECWd) -
Often, we find that legal opinions only address the questions raised by a person, which on the surface, should be the way it works. However, in the case of a public body, the public body should have input on those questions and how those questions are phrased. The amount of information provided can end up producing opinions that are legally insufficient. One of those indicators is when we see presumptions made to support actions already taken by a person, who now must justify their corrupt actions. (See Part II at this link)
All indications point to this happening in Maine Township because the questions were simple, as are the answers when you apply simple statutory construction to the question. However, the attorney wrote an 8-page diatribe in what appears to be a clear attempt to provide cover for his client, Laura Morask. Note that I did not say Supervisor Morask, as she has no authority to hire an attorney for Township matters without board advise and consent.
What did Laura Morask of Maine Township ask an attorney, after she hired her friend to work in the Food Pantry?
According to the attorney:
“As I understand it, the following questions have been raised relating to the interactions between the GAO and the Pantry. First, is the use of GA funds to finance the Pantry legally permissible? Second may the Supervisor lawfully hire GAO employees without a job posting, search or advertising? Finally, may the Supervisor direct employees of the GAO to staff or work in the Pantry?”
Our answers to the questions supposedly raised by Maine Township Supervisor:
Question 1. The answer is a clear NO! There is no statutory language that permits General Assistance to finance a social service program under Township Government. Although we understand the attempt to justify the actions of the Supervisor, the fact remains, his answer is unsupported by any statute or case law.
The key here is the question. As asked, there is no provision in the law and we challenge anyone to find such authority. Sadly, this attorney knew he had to produce an opinion that was apparently tied to a bigger issue, which was not the question presented.
Question 2. The answer is yes. The Supervisor is the ex-officio in charge of General Assistance and there is no requirement in the law to post a job opening, search, or advertise for such employment. So, we agree with the attorney on this point.
Question 3. The answer is a clear NO! This attorney has gone out of his way claiming the Food Pantry is a vendor. If that is the case, using his logic, the Supervisor could place an employee with any non-profit vendor if they are providing General Assistance to a recipient.
Under what authority does the Supervisor have to tell a vendor who is going to work for them? The fact that she has done it, points to a co-mingling of Township funds in a fashion that is inconsistent with law.
The fact that the Township Board operates a Food Pantry points to the Board having authority over its operations, to include determining who works in the pantry, with one exception.
Sec. 6-1.7. A recipient of financial aid under this Article, which money or vendor payment is made by a local governmental unit which administers aid under this Article and is not a County Department, who is required under Section 6-1.4 to register for and accept bona fide offers of employment as provided in Section 11-20 but is not required to participate in a job search, training and work program under Section 9-6, must also register for work with such local governmental unit and must perform work without compensation for a taxing district or private not-for-profit organization as provided in this Section
So under the Public Aid Act, Article 6, we see that recipients must perform work without compensation. With close to $200,000.00 given out in General Assistance, we can only wonder at this point, how many of those recipients are performing work without compensation as provided in that section of the law? Recipients of General Assistance could be placed in the Food Pantry by the Supervisor as they must perform work and the law points to them doing so with local governments and non-profits.
To claim the Supervisor may hire her friend to work in the Food Pantry by claiming it’s appropriate since the Food Pantry provides General Assistance to recipients is a stretch at best. The law limits her powers and using statutory construction the plain language was written must be applied.
“The Supervisor of General Assistance shall appoint such other employees as "may be necessary" to provide public aid under Article VI and prescribe their compensation and duties.”
The real question the attorney should have asked, is, what is the job description of this Supervisors’ friend and what evidence is there that this hiring is necessary? We contend it was not necessary based on the fact she terminated three people to hire her friend.
It’s not disputed that the job of this person isn’t to provide public aid. It is to fundraise and bring money into the Township Operated Food Pantry. Although this person actions may indirectly be attributed to providing public aid, so can the Township Boards operation of the Food Pantry be interpreted in such a fashion. Such logic would indicate it would be OK for the compensation of the Board to be paid out of the General Assistance since they operate a food pantry that provides General Assistance.
Such obfuscation of the law is why this state is in the mess it’s in. Local governments have gotten away from following the strict letter of the law and allowed feelings and desired outcomes to dictate and justify their actions.
We all want people to eat. I don’t believe anyone is implying the Food Pantry is not providing a needed service. What is sad, is the Supervisors attempt to use the Food Pantry to further her agenda of ensuring her unelected friend gets a job, the law is damned.
It’s high time for this Supervisor to resign from Public Office…………….and go volunteer in the Food Pantry!