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August 18, 2022

Avon Township’s Improper Annual Meeting, Forged Petitions, Supervisor’s Conflict of Interest

By John Kraft & Kirk Allen

On October 9, 2020

Avon Township, Lake County, IL. (ECWd) –

This is an article on Avon Township Supervisor Terry Wilke’s perceived need to immediately sell township property without legal authority and without using the prescribed statutory methods.

We held a 40 minute discussion about the alleged Annual Meeting of the Electors with the Avon Township Clerk where we covered most of the information written below. You can watch the video, and then review the other points and document below the video for a further understanding of the issue. The first part of this article are the bulleted points, with hotlinks to their statutory references, and the alleged violations of each statute listed.

SUMMARY BULLETED POINTS ON THE ANNUAL TOWNSHIP MEETING AND SALE OF REAL PROPERTY OF AVON TOWNSHIP AND ALLEGED STATUTORY VIOLATIONS

First set of petitions calling for Special Meeting not submitted in required time to allow for publication at least 15 days prior to the meeting and were not filed with the Township Clerk – Violation of Sections 35-5 and 30-10(a) and (b) of the Township Code

Second set of petitions were forged (as indicated by the back-dated stamp) – Violation of Sections 17-3(a)(1), (a)(2), (a)(3), 17-3(c), 17-3(c-5) [Forgery], and 33-3(a)(2), (a)(3) [Official Misconduct] of the Illinois Criminal Code and Article VIII, Section 1(a) of the Illinois Constitution

– Both sets of petitions lacked the required signatures of 15 voters of the township – Violation of Section 35-5 of the Township Code rendering the petitions invalid

– The Petitions did not match the Agenda – Petitions stated “Special Township Meeting” while the Agenda stated “Annual Town Meeting of Electors” – this means there was no “Special Meeting” and the “Annual Meeting” was never properly noticed as required under the Township Code

– The Meeting notice was never published in a newspaper as required by the Township Code and the Notice By Publication Act

– Meeting was convened in the high school parking lot, and electors voted to reconvened in the township parking lot. Possible violation of the Open Meetings Act and a violation of the Township Code where the electors were not given the powers to meet at a location other than what was provided by the Township Clerk on the published Agenda (which was the high school auditorium)

– Electors voted to “ratify” purchase of real estate previously purchased – Violation of the powers of the electors – Electors DO NOT have this power

– Electors voted to sell real property to Avon Cares Food Pantry – Electors HAVE this power when a meeting is lawfully held and provided they adopt a Resolution

– Avon Cares Food Pantry (Supervisor Terry Wilke) delivered a check and deposited the check into the Township bank account. Checks are contracts, and he entered into this contract by delivery of the check and deposit of the check

– No determination of the value of the real property was ever made by a State licensed real estate appraiser BEFORE the sale. Violation of Section 30-50(d) of the Township Code

– BEFORE entering into the contract for sale/purchase of real property, there was no “sworn under oath” statement of the identity of the actual parties benefiting. Violation of Section 3.1 of the Public Officer Prohibited Activities Act

– Supervisor Terry Wilke has a prohibited indirect financial interest in the contract for this property thru his association as President and board member of the Avon Cares Food Pantry. Violation of Section 3 of the Public Officer Prohibited Activities Act

– Supervisor Terry Wilke wrote a check from Avon Cares Food Pantry and deposited it into the Township’s bank account without approval of the Township Board. Please note the pdf previously linked has a small portion of the township code at the top, we expand on that below.

This section covers the above points in more detail:

DISCUSSION

Avon Township Meeting of the Electors – September 24, 2020

The Illinois Township Code [60 ILCS 1] governs Annual Town Meetings of the Electors and Special Town Meetings of the Electors.

The Open Meetings Act [5 ILCS 120] also governs these meetings.

The Public Officer Prohibited Activities Act [50 ILCS 105] governs the activities of all elected officials.

Dillon’s Rule” applies to local government in Illinois, which means in its basic form, that local governments possess only those powers specifically granted them by the legislature and those powers essential and necessary in carrying out those enumerated powers, and those indispensable to the functions of the local governmental unit.

  • If the statute is silent on an issue, the silence acts as a prohibition.
  • Any doubt as to the granted powers weighs against the government.
  • If a power is granted in statute to one official or public body, it acts as a prohibition to all others

Lake County COVID-19 Rules – not discussed in this paper as I doubt they could be used in a Court to nullify any portion of an otherwise properly held meeting – even though that was the reason the School Superintendent declined permitting the township to use the school property for the meeting, and it most likely resulted in very few people attending this alleged meeting.

A Special Meeting of the Electors was purportedly petitioned for by alleged electors of Avon Township.

FIRST petitions:

  • There were 20 signatures on this petition, date-stamped Sep 14, 2020 with Supervisor Terry Wilkes’ initials on the petitions
  • Page 1, Lines 4 and 5 appear to be signed by the same person
  • The Township Clerk verified signatures against township elector roles, found only 11 signatures as being valid Township Electors
  • The Township Code requires 15 valid signatures of Township Electors in order to call a meeting
  • The Petitions did not list a place for the meeting – it simply stated “at a place to be determined by the Supervisor of Avon Township” – while the Township Code grants that power exclusively to the Township Clerk, unless the Clerk is absent, then to the Supervisor and others listed
  • The Petitions state that it is a call for a “Special Township Meeting
  • The Agenda states that it is an “Annual Town Meeting of the Electors
  • The Agenda state the location is “Round Lake High School Auditorium” – However, the School Superintendent refused to permit the holding of this meeting on their property

SECOND (Altered/Forged) petitions:

  • The exact same petitions sheets were stamped a second time with the date of September 5, 2020 – we believe this meets the criminal code’s definition of forgery
  • Same problems as listed above for the First set of petitions

LETTER from Lake County State’s Attorney’s Office to Terry Wilke:

  • Informs him of the 15 Township voter requirement to call a meeting
  • Informs him of the “no less than 14 days and no more than 45 days” requirement for holding a meeting after petitions received by the Clerk
  • Informs him of the requirement of the Clerk receiving the petitions
  • Informs him of the requirement to post, or publish, the written and printed notices of a meeting at least 15 days prior to the meeting
  • Informs him that based on the information provided to the SA’s Office, that there are serious issues with his attempt at holding the meeting on September 24, 2020

CLERK publishes Notice of Meeting Cancelation:

  • On September 23, 2020, the Township Clerk, after a Special meeting of the Trustees voted to cancel the meeting, published the Meeting Cancelation Notice, and place a copy of the cancelation on the window of the Township Hall.
  • This notice was later removed, replaced again, and then taped to the back of the Agenda in a place where people could not read the cancelation

Town Meeting is Called to Order in the parking lot of the High School:

  • The Town Meeting of the Electors is called to order in the parking lot of the high school
  • Vote taken to move the meeting to the parking lot of the Township
  • Attendees moved to the Township parking lot
  • No attendees were vetted for names/residency/elector status

Town Meeting Reconvenes at the Township parking lot:

  • Electors vote to approve the “Ratify Township’s acquisition of 320 Bellevue Drive” property which was previously purchased by Supervisor Wilke, using public funds, without approval of the board or the electors
  • Electors vote to sell the property to Avon Cares Food Pantry, a not-for-profit in which Supervisor Wilke is the President

Powers of Township Electors

  • There is NO POWER granted to the Electors to “ratify” real estate previously purchased
  • There IS POWER granted to the Electors for the following in relation to real estate:
    • Purchase and Use of Property – the Electors can order property sold, leased, purchased, conveyed, or regulate the use of Township property – Electors may delegate those powers to the Township board

Process for Selling Township Real Estate

While Township Electors may direct/order the sale of Township property, such a sale must follow procedures outlined in the Township Code, Section 30-50, and must also comply with the Public Officers Prohibited Activities Act, Sections 3, and 3.1.

TOWNSHIP CODE Section 30-50(a) – Avon Township Electors voted to sell the real estate to Avon Cares Food Pantry during a questionable, and we suggest, an improper meeting not in compliance with the Township Code’s requirement for holding a Meeting of the Electors.

Assuming, for argument’s sake, this meeting was properly held, and the electors properly voted to sell the property, there are other requirements in the Township Code for property sales.

Section 30-50(d) is another requirement.

BEFORE the township makes a lease or sale of township or road district real property, the electors SHALL either delegate the power to the township board, or, (a) adopt a resolution as such:

or adopt a resolution stating the intent to lease or sell the real property, describing the property in full, and stating the terms and conditions the electors deem necessary and desirable for the lease or sale. A resolution stating the intent to sell real property shall also contain pertinent information concerning the size, use, and zoning of the property. The value of real property shall be determined by a State licensed real estate appraiser. The appraisal shall be available for public inspection. The resolution may direct the sale to be conducted by the staff of the township or by listing with local licensed real estate agencies (in which case the terms of the agent’s compensation shall be included in the resolution).

When adopting a Resolution, and PRIOR TO THE SALE, the real property must have an appraisal by a State licensed real estate appraiser.

PUBLIC OFFICER PROHIBITED ACTIVITIES ACT

Section 3.1, in relation to sale of real property of a public body:

BEFORE and contract relating to the ownership or use of real property is entered into (keep in mind a check is a contract) . . . the identity of every owner and beneficiary having any interest . . . in such property must be disclosed. The disclosure shall be in writing and shall be subscribed by a member, owner, authorized trustee, corporate official, etc., or his or her authorized attorney, UNDER OATH.

This Section shall be liberally construed to accomplish the purpose of requiring the identification of the actual parties benefiting from any transaction with a governmental unit or agency involving the procurement of the ownership or use of real property thereby.

Once the Appraisal is completed, the electors voted to sell the property, and the above statement under oath is provided, THEN we must consider if the purchaser is violating the Public Officer Prohibited Activities Act in this real estate purchase:

Section 3. Prohibited Interest in Contracts.

  • No person holding any office, either by election or appointment under the laws or Constitution of this State, may be in any manner financially interested directly in his own name or indirectly in the name of any other person, association, trust, or corporation, in any contract or the performance of any work in the making or letting of which such officer may be called upon to act or vote. No such officer may represent, either as agent or otherwise, any person, association, trust, or corporation, with respect to any application or bid for any contract or work in regard to which such officer may be called upon to vote. Nor may any such officer take or receive, or offer to take or receive, either directly or indirectly, any money or other thing of value as a gift or bribe or means of influencing his vote or action in his official character. Any contract made and procured in violation hereof is void. This Section shall not apply to any person serving on an advisory panel or commission, to any director serving on a hospital district board as provided under subsection (a-5) of Section 13 of the Hospital District Law, or to any person serving as both a contractual employee and as a member of a public hospital board as provided under Article 11 of the Illinois Municipal Code in a municipality with a population between 13,000 and 16,000 that is located in a county with a population between 50,000 and 70,000.

(d) Notwithstanding any other provision of this Section or any other law to the contrary, until January 1, 1994, a member of the city council of a municipality with a population under 20,000 may purchase real estate from the municipality, at a price of not less than 100% of the value of the real estate as determined by a written MAI certified appraisal or by a written certified appraisal of a State certified or licensed real estate appraiser, if the purchase is approved by a unanimous vote of the city council members then holding office (except for the member desiring to purchase the real estate, who shall not vote on the question).

(f) Under either of the following circumstances, a municipal or county officer may hold a position on the board of a not-for-profit corporation that is interested in a contract, work, or business of the municipality or county:

Township Supervisor Terry Wilke is financially interested in the name of the Avon Cares Food Pantry Corporation in the contract to purchase this real property.

The Legislature has granted the powers to purchase real property, with certain enumerated conditions, to members of a city council of a municipality, AND, has also granted the powers of a municipal or county officer to hold a position on the board of a not-for-profit corporation that is interested in a contract to their respective local governments.

The Legislature’s lack of specifically identifying township officials in those granted powers/exceptions acts as a prohibition on those township officials.

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5 Comments
  • Dave
    Posted at 10:18h, 09 October

    Wow, what rule book….

  • Kristal Larson
    Posted at 09:24h, 10 October

    A few other notes on this meeting:

    The meeting at the High School was improper because a 15 person quorum was not present.

    The meeting at the township was again not valid because the moderator was not sworn in and did not take the required oath of office.

    The “ratification” action may be legal because it is a valid remedy to correct the prior purchase, however, no written resolution was crafted which remains a deficiency.

    There are at least five (5) OMA violations present, including the denial of public participation as it was never called for by the moderator.

  • PK
    Posted at 15:14h, 18 October

    This article cites Dillon’s Rule. According to the SOS reference https://www2.illinois.gov/rev/QuestionsAndAnswers/pages/188.aspx Home Rule applies to municipalities with greater populations greater than 25K. If Home Rule applies here, and ding-dong do-gooder Township Supervisor is causing issues why isn’t the Lake County SA assisting the Township Clerk?

    • John Kraft & Kirk Allen
      Posted at 18:25h, 18 October

      Townships are not a municipality, and therefore are not Home Rule.

      • PK
        Posted at 23:10h, 18 October

        Understood, yet for Wilke’s Lake County Board membership..

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