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August 10, 2022

Subject Matter Hearing Misrepresentations Exposed – Part 1

By Kirk Allen & John Kraft

On March 11, 2022

Shelby Co. (ECWd) –

The Shelby County State’s Attorney Nichole Kronke provided oral testimony during the subject matter hearing in the Counties and Township Committee of the State Legislature Thursday, March 10, 2022.  A copy of the testimony is below.

Due to the multiple misrepresentations and failure to disclose the whole truth it is necessary for us to provide a breakdown on those matters so that the public and the legislature are properly informed.

Kronke provides the following comments as to why there is proposed legislation with two key points of input on the proposed bill.

  • “to clear an ambiguity as to whether or not a public purpose is served by allowing the leasing of county-owned land to a private farmer for the profit of the county”

There is no ambiguity as she claims. She left out the primary point, which is the use of the land by the private entity must be for a public purpose.     When public land is used by a private entity and that use does not have a public purpose, then it violates the State Constitution.  She is attempting to narrow the definition of public purpose by ignoring how the land is being used by the private entity.  The truth of the matter, this legislation is being pushed because the county board failed to appropriate funds in the budget to plant a crop. Had they done that, they would have probably already had a contract for a crop to go in the ground in the custom farming plan they put together.

  • “to allow a majority vote of the county board be able to determine what happens with the land.  The way the statute is now it requires a 3/4 vote of the county board to approve”

How special for her to leave out how the suggested changes still fail to carry the day on her goal. The legislature provided 5 prongs that must be met in order to lease the real estate. Even with the proposed amendment, those 5 prongs must still be met and there is no way that is possible without a county board basically lying to the public.

Current law:

(55 ILCS 5/5-1049.2)
Sec. 5-1049.2. Lease of county property. The county board may lease real estate acquired or held by the county for any term not exceeding 99 years and may lease the real estate when, in the opinion of the county board, the real estate is no longer necessary, appropriate, required for the use of, profitable to, or for the best interests of the county. The authority to lease shall be exercised by an ordinance passed by three-fourths of the county board members then holding office, at any regular meeting or at any special meeting called for that purpose. However, the county board may authorize any county officer to make leases for terms not exceeding 2 years in a manner determined by the Board.
(Source: P.A. 88-526.)

Proposed amendment adding to the above law:

“Amends the Counties Code. Provides that, notwithstanding other specified county property leasing provisions, upon majority vote, the county board may lease farmland acquired or held by the county for any term not exceeding 99 years. Provides that such farmland may be leased to either public or private entities for the public purpose of financially supporting the operations of government at such time or times and on such terms and conditions as the board deems best for the interest of the county, including, but not limited to, crop-sharing arrangements. Effective immediately.”

We have confirmed through the Shelby County Farm Committee meeting discussions, the county can not meet the 5 prong requirement.

All arguments to date confirm, in the county’s opinion, the farm ground is necessary, appropriate, profitable to the county, and for the best interest of the county. Considering the law points to those very issues as being the opposite of the county’s position in order to lease, there is no way this board can honestly lease under the current law or even with the proposed amendment. Any vote under this statute with or without the proposed amendment is in direct contradiction to the very testimony Kronke provided to the Legislative Committee. We will cover that in future articles in this multi-part series.

Failing to budget the necessary crop inputs is the problem.  Rather than focusing on fixing that problem, this group is attempting to change well-established law.

History shows laws drafted due to a public body’s failures are rarely a good thing.  That fact came out during the second bill hearing that came after the Shelby County proposed legislation where a law is trying to be repealed that was in fact generated due to a public body’s failures a couple of years ago. That problem was solved by an election where the bad actors who failed the public were replaced.

Stay tuned for Part II.

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2 Comments
  • Dave
    Posted at 12:47h, 11 March

    The only people who don’t want to disclose the whole truth are people with something to hide.

  • Justice Seeker
    Posted at 14:22h, 11 March

    I wonder if the next statute SA Kroncke will try to pass will be one allowing the board to force an elected official to outsource payroll. Perhaps that will be when she finally responds to the board with her written opinion.

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