Shelby Co., IL. (ECWd) -
As part of the illegal closed session discussion during a recent county board meeting, board member Barbara Bennett and Chairman Bruce Cannon make the most amazing statements, which are not true. While we are used to public officials being loose with the truth, their statements defy logic, common sense, and truth.
The discussion was about us, the Edgar County Watchdogs, providing legal opinions to the county. One board member is defending the Treasurers position to not pay the bill of a private attorney that the board hired in violation of the law because the county has done nothing to get her the proper legal guidance. In that discussion, the board member points to the 30 some pages of documents we provided. While what we provided was actually 69 pages, it was clear they were speaking to the Court's and Attorney General's legal opinions of a county board hiring a private attorney. We covered the issue in this article.
The veracity of their statements must be explained.
It begins with one board member talking sense.
"They provided us 30 some pages...."
- Barbara Bennett - That doesn't mean they're right
- Bruce Cannon - Doesn't mean anything, we don't know where it came from
Bennett is so focused on disputing the messenger that she fails to understand it is not about us being right. What we provided was what the Attorney General provided on the subject matter of county boards not being allowed to hire an attorney. For her to respond with, "that doesn't mean they're right" tells us she has not even read the information. Had she read it she would have been able to figure out it was not our work telling her anything. All we did was pass along the information we obtained from the Attorney General. We also gave it to the State's Attorney and the Clerk. The Clerk provided it to the entire board. A few have read it and understand why the Treasurer is standing her ground on the legal bill in question. Bennett clearly has no interest in understanding what the court's and Attorney General have said on the matter.
As far as Cannon's statement, it's just another reason he should resign immediately. How he can say 69 pages of legal analysis from the courts and Attorney General sharing how the law is to be applied does not mean anything tells us he is in denial. To claim he does not know where it came from is simply not true because he received it from the Clerk.
The sad part of this discussion is the fact it does not matter who provided the information. What matters is what the information says.
- Barbara Bennett - Just because they say it and provided it doesn't make it right.
Once again, it is not about who said it and who provided it, its about the content written in the documents that came from Illinois courts and the Attorney General. If she would just read it she might realize how stupid she sounds with her ongoing push to attack the messenger.
Voices of reason - "We have given her nothing in writing" - "We're just blowing smoke"
- Barbara Bennett - "We don't have to, we tell her and voted to pay it"
- Bruce Cannon - "We don't have to, we are her bosses"
No Chairman Cannon, the county board is not her boss. Not you as the Chairman nor the board as a whole, that is the law. The Treasurer is an elected official and she answers to the people and the law.
- Bruce Cannon - It is state statute if we tell her to do something she has to do it
Once again, Canon has no clue what he talking about. There is no statute to support his statement.
- Gina Vonderheide - Just a reminder, we are in closed session which means the public is not supposed to know what's going on if our voices are raised they're probably going to be able to hear it out in the hall.
So rather than telling the board the discussion they are having violates the Open Meetings Act, their legal counsel advises them to keep their voice down? I wonder if any of them understand violating the Open Meetings Act in this fashion is a crime under the law?
While we truly appreciate the State's Attorney has withdrawn from the upcoming election, it appears best for the county if she would simply resign as all of this mess has taken place under her watch as the legal counsel for the county.
Check back for more closed session discussions that peel back the onion in Shelby County.