Monday, February 29, 2016

County Board Member Pensions in Question

In  June 2010  the Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund performed an audit of the DuPage County Board.  As part of the audit the board had the opportunity to end this costly benefit.   The benefit would have been eliminated had the majority of the board decline to sign a form stating they work 1000 hours per year .  Instead, what happened was 12 members signed the form allowing the benefit to continue. DuPage County Board Members are not required to keep a log of hours.  

There are some weeks when I feel overwhelmed by the amount of work I put in as a member of the board. It's hard work. I would love to tell you that I work 1000 hours per year has a member of the board however in my case that is simply not true.  That is why I have never participated in the IMRF and have forgone the pension benefit.

In 2012 eight new members were elected to the DuPage County Board. Its been six years since the IMRF did an audit of the DuPage County Board, maybe its time for another audit.

I read with interest the article in the Daily Herald  written by Lauren Rohr and Jake Griffin

Whether McHenry Co. Board works enough hours for 
pensions questioned

Municipal Retirement Fund Executive Director Louis Kosiba said Monday an audit conducted in October raised concerns about whether 18 of 24 board members who signed an affidavit of the time they put in are actually meeting those requirements. State law requires elected officials to work at least 1,000 hours per year to be eligible for the state pension.

"IMRF is not going to ignore something when it has been brought to our attention," Kosiba told the Daily Herald editorial board. "It's our job to ensure the system is being administered properly."

Kosiba said it's "highly unusual" for officials in governing bodies such as the McHenry County Board to work enough hours to be eligible for IMRF participation, as per IMRF guidelines.

Added Kosiba: "I think that undercuts their argument that they put in the hours that are required." He noted that attending community events, election-related duties and campaigning are not eligible work hours.
Providing false information in order to receive a benefit is a felony, Kosiba said, which is why the IMRF encourages people to document their hours and understand IMRF rules.

You can read the full story here .

You can read more about the DuPage Pensions here.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Everything you need to know is in the details

DuPage County requires all vendors to complete a Vendor Ethics Disclosure Statement exceed the amount of $25,000. The Disclosure reads:  Every contractor, union, or vendor that is seeking or has previously obtained a contract, change orders to one (1) or more contracts, or two (2) or more individual contracts with the county resulting in an aggregate amount at or in excess $25,000, shall provide to Procurement Services Division a written disclosure of all political campaign contributions made by such contractor, union, or vendor within the current and previous calendar year to any incumbent county board member, county board chairman, or countywide elected official whose office the contract to be awarded will benefit. The contractor, union or vendor shall update such disclosure annually during the term of a multi-year contract and prior to any change order or renewal requiring approval by the county board. For purposes of this disclosure requirement, "contractor or vendor" includes owners, officers, managers, lobbyists, agents, consultants, bond counsel and underwriters counsel, subcontractors and corporate entities under the control of the contracting person, and political action committees to which the contracting person has made contributions.

 At the February 23rd Finance Committee of the DuPage County Board I mentioned concerns I had with Mackie Consultants, LLC and their failure to properly complete the Required Vendor Ethics Disclosure Statement. I stated that the Vendor Ethics Disclosure is no good if sections are left blank. I also informed the board that this was the second time I have found a Vendor Ethics Disclosure Statement missing important information. 

Earlier in that day I called the county to speak with the procurement department about the failure of Mackie Consultants, LLC to properly complete the Vendor Ethics Disclosure Statement.  Mackie Consultants had skipped over the two sections. The Vendor Ethics Disclosure Statement clearly states: A contractor or vendor that knowingly violates these disclosure requirements is subject to penalties which may include, but are not limited to  the immediate cancellation of the contract and possible disbandment from future county contracts. 

The first section reads as follows:

I have made the following campaign contributions within the current and previous calendar year: If no contributions have been made enter "NONE" below:

The second section reads as follows:

All contracts and vendors who have obtained or are seeking contracts with the county all disclose the names and contact information of their lobbyists, agents and representatives and all individuals who are or will be having contact with county officers or employees in relation to the contract or bid and shall update such disclosure with any changes.

Procurement was able to contact Mackie Consultants, LLC and have them complete a revised Ethics Disclosure with all the necessary information prior to the meeting. 

Original Disclosure With Missing Data

Revised Disclosure with all information

Monday, February 22, 2016

Flint Water Crisis Parallels Unincorporated Downers Grove Water Contamination of 2001

I had the privilege of participating in the discussion about the Flint water crisis.  What's happening in Flint Michigan is a travesty and was completely avoidable. Running the state like a business lead to the poisoning of an estimated 9000 children.  In 1989 The EPA, DuPage County and The Village of Downers Grove knew the community well water was contaminated.  The Village of Downers Grove switched to Lake Michigan.  I discovered the contamination in  our water in 2001 after a private tests confirmed 3 times the legal limit of  trichloroethylene (TCE). It took two and a half years to secure a safe water supply. The people of Flint will spend the rest of their lives worrying about the health and well being of their families. I know this from my own experience of living with a contaminated water supply. 

Flint Water Crisis Indicative Of Larger Problem Facing Low-Income Communities

Michael Joyce

Michigan Congressman Dan Kildee (D-MI,5) was in Chicago this weekend, where he held an open discussion about the Flint water crisis, leading to a very spirited debate on the accountability of government and the risks facing under-served communities in America.
The town of Flint, Michigan, made national headlines when high levels of lead were found in its water supply. It is estimated that up to 9,000 children could have been exposed to the contaminated water. Exposure to lead at a young age is known to result in developmental problems for children. The town is also dealing with an outbreak of Legionnaire's disease, which could possibly be linked to the lead-laden water pipes.
Rep. Kildee attributed the crisis in Flint to Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder's (R) businesslike approach to government, drawing parallels with Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner.
Kildee said blame also lays with officials at the Midwest region of the Environmental Protection Agency, many of whom knew about the crisis for six months prior to the information going public. EPA officials say they did not publicize the information because the state insisted that the law didn't require the agency to do so.
Kildee says the EPA should have exceeded its authority on this matter, and notified the public.
Illinois has wrangled with water contamination issues in the past. DuPage County Board member Elizabeth Chaplin attended Saturday's discussion and explained how suburban Lisle's water systems were found to be contaminated with trichloroethylene, or TCE, back in 2001.
"We were 800 homes, so it's not a lot compared to Flint," said Chaplin. "But there are a lot of parallels."
One such parallel was with the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency, which knew about the issue for some time but, as seen in the Flint incident, failed to notify the public due to the lack of a federal requirement.

You can read the full story by using the provided link: