Springfield (ECWd) -
We just posted, Whats Next?
In less than 20 minutes, I recieved yet another update on a law that is clearly designed to make illegal acts legal, and at a huge cost to the taxpayers.
For years we have been exposing the fact the State's Attorney is the designated legal counsel for all County Officers. That exposure came from money being spent on private counsel by County Officers which is a clear misapplication of funds.
Two years ago we published this article explaining that our laws in Illinois are moving targets. Moving targets because when they are broken by our elected officials they simply change the law to make their illegal acts legal.
As we expose illegal hiring of attorneys in County Government, we get the normal push back from those hired illegally with claims they have been doing it for years, and since we are not attorneys, we don't understand the law or the case law we cite is old and not applicable.
To drive the message home that County Boards do not have the authority to hire outside legal counsel, we published the legal collection from the Attorney General, which consisted of 69 pages of crystal clear analysis on the point. (article here)
Piatt County Board Chairman was recently criminally indicted for his action of hiring outside counsel in violation of the law. We raised the comparison to the Shelby County Chairman's action in this article. You would think such an indictment would signal to Shelby County it's not legal for the County Board to hire private counsel. Not the case.
Shelby county has ignored the illegal practice and we did not hear one word about ending the illegal practice during the last 3 hour County Board meeting. Such silence is troubling as payments to the private attorney are not legal and are nothing but a financial drain on the taxpayers.
We have identified at least another half dozen counties violating the law in the same fashion and the money being spent illegally is in the hundreds of thousands.
So what happens after all these illegal actions get some headlines?
HB4854 is introduced: "Amends the Counties Code. Provides that the chairperson of the county board may appoint, with the advice and consent of the county board, an outside attorney to serve as legal counsel to the county board. The chairperson may choose the State's Attorney as legal counsel who shall receive additional compensation as appropriate. Provides that the chairperson, by written order filed with the county clerk, may discontinue the appointment of the outside counsel appointed and prevents compensation to the outside counsel after the discontinuance. Provides that the duty of a State's Attorney to be legal counsel are in addition to the statutory duties of the State's Attorney and the State's Attorney shall not receive additional compensation for the duties performed."
Rather than prosecute those officials who break our laws, legislators provide laws like this to make what is currently illegal, legal.
One thing this bill does do is make it crystal clear, we are right and have been each and every time we tell County Boards they cant hire private counsel. If we were wrong, as has been claimed by some of these illegally hired attorneys and the County Boards that hired them, why would we need this law? The fact this law is being introduced is yet another prong that proves the actions are not currently legal, just as we said all along.
One of the most out of control expense we see in local government is legal bills. We see public officials that turn over everything for the attorney to handle, to include something as simple as responses to a Freedom of Information Act request rather than doing their job as outlined in the law. This proposed legislation will only grow the already broken system of crony hires and unneeded expense to the taxpayer.
Changing laws to make illegal acts legal has to stop!