Will Co. (ECWd) -
In every local government investigation, there is the initial Freedom of Information Requests that begins the process. Joliet Township was no different. Those requests were based on several factors, many of which we already knew the answer but needed the actual public record to lock down the story.
As many in Joliet now know, the Township is being sued as first exposed by CBS in this article, local police are getting involved as part of a criminal investigation as reported in this article from the Herald News, and as this goes on, the Supervisor has gone from open and transparent, willing to answer questions, to stone-cold silence.
What has been covered to date is only the tip of the iceberg of alleged wrongdoing in Joliet Township and this will be the first of many articles exposing the Township's failures and clear violations of law.
The first FOIA:
- A copy of the minutes or an appropriate link to the minutes that reflect the compensation fixed by the board for Township employees.
- A copy of the minutes or an appropriate link to the minutes that reflect the compensation fixed by the board for the Township attorney.
- A copy of the Bid notice for landscape services for the Township.
- A copy of the bids received for landscape services.
- A copy of the benefits policy for Township employees.
- A copy of the Township personnel policy.
- A copy of the last independent audit for the Township
- A copy of the most recent Road District Annual Report
We wanted item #1 because how a board compensates themselves tells us a lot about them. Are they there to serve or be served? The Compensation setting resolution is adopted by the Board of Trustees no less than 180 days before their term of office begins. The compensation for the Supervisor, Trustees, and the Clerk is the largest we have seen to date in any Township.
The Trustees receive $12,000.00 dollars a year. According to their web site, there are 21 meetings in 2019. That equates to $571 per meeting, which the last meeting was about an hour in length. Not a bad gig for a part-time position.
The Supervisor recieves his compensation on an escalating scale, ensuring a pay raise each year. (2017) $72,970; (2018) $75,159; (2019) $77,414; (2020) $79,737.
The Clerk, just like the Supervisor also is compensated on an escalating scale. (2017) $65,067; (2018) $67,019; (2019) $69,030; (2020) $71,101.
Where things get interesting is the additional perk of a car allowance for the Supervisor, Clerk, Assessor and Highway Commissioner of $3,600.00 a year which is $300 a month. How many knew you could drive a new car for $300 a month?
While we understand the need for an Assessor and a Highway Commissioner to have such an allowance, it is the first time we have ever seen it for a Supervisor and a Clerk. I guess their total compensation of $95,501.92 for the Supervisor and $86,117.92 just wasn't quite enough to cover the transportation costs to work for the people. For those that do not know and in fairness to the Clerk, she has no vote in the adopted compensation resolution. These benefits were approved by Vera and those who served as Trustees prior to the last election.
While we understand they can legally receive health care, we must ask, is it truly serving the people when you pile on the deductable at the expense of the taxpayers?
While the above are simply examples of elected officials receiving benefits the average citizen doesn't receive, the other perk they gave themselves is where the laws come into play.
The compensation resolution provides them with Health Care, however, the elected officials are also receiving Life Insurance and Accidental Death Insurance coverage, of which neither are health insurance. That is a clear violation of their contract with the people as they are receiving benefits not approved.
I raised that point during the first meeting we attended and as expected, the explanation is insufficient when crossed with the compensation setting resolution and the State Constitution. Sadly for the CPA trying to justify it, these elected officials are not eligible for benefits nor access to them unless it is specifically spelled out in the compensation setting resolution.
You can view the public comment regarding this matter below, which also contains the entire meeting.
As can be seen in the video, I raised other issues connected to our first FOIA request to include the bidding concerns. Laughable is the attorney's response regarding bidding and his claim they can waive bidding. We will cover that issue and others in the next article.
In closing, we encourage Supervisor Danial Vera to immediately resign. This request for resignation is based on what we know to date that clearly will show he has no business in public office.
Stay tuned as this article only covered two points in our first FOIA request.