Sangamon (ECWd) –
The Rochester Fire Protection District held their meeting this week, which was the first meeting after exposure of the violations of law covered by Channel 17 I-Team investigation and our article.
It became clear there was an orchestrated effort to deflect from the real issue; illegal purchases. Numerous comments from members of the department focused their comments towards a single trustee who happen to be the one board member who questioned the legality of what was taking place. Rather than address the real issue, these members chose to blame a lone trustee for all kinds of problems in the Department. Other commenters chose to focus on our comments while at the same time justifying the illegal acts provided it was saving the department money. There has been no evidence found to date which supports money being saved through violating Section 4 of the Fire Protection District Act.
Probably the most welcomed comment was from a local citizen who noticed one key point, not one person on the board was refuting the allegations of the actions being questioned. That citizen can be heard in the video below at the 59 minute mark of the video.
One of the commenters focused on his experience making purchases for the State of Illinois from a pre-approved state procurement list and tried to insinuate the Joint Purchasing Act was being misrepresented in our presentation to the board. Had the commenter actually listened to what was said he would realize there was no misrepresentation of the law as we actually quoted the law. Additionally, the Board’s own policy requires at least two bids, preferably three. This person’s comments appear to be a situation where the focus was solely to deflect from anything that brings into question the board’s actions by trying to discredit the messenger.
While we greatly appreciate so many people sharing their opinion, its clear, several justified ignoring the law and put their personal opinions ahead of what the law requires and doing the right thing.
On the subject of doing the right thing, the Board President has acknowledged the Policy Manual for the District is being revised as it is clearly outdated. Nice to see that acknowledgement but can only wonder why it took 9 months to take that step as we raised that issue back in January or February. While we believe the Board President should be prosecuted for his involvement of the illegal purchases and concealment of the legal warnings from the attorney, at a minimum he should resign as vacationing for months in another state and missing meetings for months is not a proper representation of the people.
We understand one Trustee has resigned since that meeting due to a chance in residency. The law requires members to live in the district. That vacancy will have to be filled in accordance with the Fire Protection District Act covering vacancy of office.
For the complete video, including all of the comments (the above live stream quit unexpectedly) see the below video :
PKPosted at 12:13h, 16 October
The person who described recently benefiting from the district’s volunteers also cited their experience as an employee in the Illinois State Government’s purchasing world before going on to encourage trustees to continue on their merry way. The OMA allows such disturbing commentary but does not allow for a vote when such an action is not on the agenda. Thank you again, Mr. Kraft.