McHenry Co. (ECWd) -
Over the last 6 years, we have found very few public officials that actually take ownership of their operation.......when they screw up.
Last week we recieved multiple tips regarding a recent salt delivery to the Algonquin Township Road District. One of interest was from the actual Highway Commissioner, Andrew Gasser.
"I'm sorry, I screwed up"
The communication was welcoming to us as normally when public officials "screw up" they take steps to cover up rather than simply owning the mistake and fixing it.
In this case, the winter supply of salt was ordered and delivered however there were no requests for bid, thus no bids recieved.
Recognizing the mistake Gasser sought counsel from his attorney and the matter is being addressed. Of interest is the press release issued relating to this matter.
"Until there is a remedy to the situation, the Road District will not disburse any payment to any supplier until all such actions comply with state law."
Actions always speak louder than words and in this case, the actions of Andrew Gasser appear to be of ownership for his mistake and seeking a correction before any taxpayer money is expended.
The Highway Code requires bidding for certain matters when the cost is greater than $20,000.00. Those requirements can be viewed at this link. Salt would fall into this requirement.
According to Gasser, the salt was not bid out last year either which could be problematic for the seller if a taxpayer wished to seek recovery of funds used to pay for that salt. It is the obligation of the seller to ensure the sale meets the required obligations under the law.
Void ab initio: Contracts entered into in violation of law, statute, or local rules are void from the beginning. "Further, a party contracting with a city is presumed to 291*291 know whether the city is prohibited from making a contract, and a contract made in violation of section 8-1-7 is void ab initio and cannot be enforced by estoppel or ratification." Ligenza v. Vill. of Round Lake Beach, 478 NE 2d 1187 - Ill: Appellate Court, 2nd Dist. 1985. ---AND --- "The general rule, however, is that when an employee of a municipal corporation purports to bind the corporation by contract without prior approval, in violation of an applicable statute, such a contract is utterly void." DC CONSULTING ENG., INC. v. Batavia Park Dist., 492 NE 2d 1000 - Ill: Appellate Court, 2nd Dist. 1986.
In short, any such sale is void and funds could be recovered from the vendor who recieved the funds in a civil action.
By all indications, Gasser has recognized the mistake and taken correct steps to ensure this issue is dealt with and that our laws are followed. We understand mistakes happen and while some will choose to make this into a mountain, it clearly is a bump in the road to good governance.
Thank you, Mr. Gasser, for recognizing you screwed up and taking corrective measures to ensure this does not happen again.
The press release issued can be downloaded at this link or viewed below.