McLeansboro Council Answers FOIA; No News on Joiner from Council
A two hour meeting Tuesday evening produced no fresh news on the public’s most followed story out of McLeansboro. We did receive a response on our Freedom of Information request earlier in the day however.
WROY/WRUL News hand delivered a FOIA request at the May 14th Council meeting asking for any public documents related to employee James Joiner from the period of his hire through his suspension. We also requested invoices, statements, and any other public documents to or from the companies the city has ceased working with since Joiner’s suspension. Those include Universal, LLC, Source One, LD Supply, & Universal Incorporated. Our final interrogative requested knowing what agency is specifically investigating. There’s been no public mention of that, we’ve been told by authorized representatives that the City of McLeansboro and the Hamilton County Sheriff’s Department are not involved however, leaving many to assert that the Illinois State Police are working the investigation. There’s also been rumors of a 60+ page document supplied to council members from an unnamed special investigator but no public mention of who’s behind that probe. The response we received states that the request has been denied based on the on going investigation and to prevent the named individual [Joiner] from the right to obtain a fair trial.
The intergovernmental agreement between the City of McLeansboro and Hamilton County is approaching it’s June 30th deadline with no deal reached. The white collar boxing match over allocation of funds appears to be moving towards a potentially exciting resolution. Frustration is evident, especially from the city side who it seems stands to be paying up to double or more what they have been paying for Emergency Dispatch. The county has appeared to be in the driver’s seat and yet both sides have failed to arrange a formal sit down to hammer out an agreement. Council members say they will be asking County Clerk Mary Anne Hopfinger for a spot on next Tuesday’s agenda. If an agreement is reached at that meeting, the city will need another special meeting to formally adopt the new rate.
Council members heard from Assistant Fire Chief Jim Morris who requested the city to authorize bids for the installation of a new concrete pad in front of the fire station bay doors, installation of a drainage system for gutter downspouts and surface water, and for the Water Department to install a 2 inch water line into the fire station bay as a water source for filling and refilling fire trucks. Morris also brought to council members the prospect of an enclosed trailer located in Pennsylvania full of water rescue and other equipment that was for sale at a cost of $10,000. Because it wasn’t on the agenda however, City Attorney Tom Malkovich prevented council from taking action to purchase the equipment. Morris says its excellent equipment in great shape, as is the trailer, and said the city would be only asked to pay $4,000 thanks to money available from the Illinois Foreign Fire Fund.
UPDATE: The following meeting has been cancelled. We were notified Thursday morning Assistant Fire Chief Jim Morris says the topics that were to be addressed at the meeting can wait until the next regular Council meeting scheduled for July 9th. A special meeting has been called for this Friday morning (June 14) at 9am in City Hall. The items on the agenda include purchasing that trailer and included supplies for the McLeansboro Fire Department. In addition, the agenda includes approving the June 2019 Fire Department Clothing Allowance. Expected to be on that special meeting agenda, but absent was publishing bids for mowing of select city owned lots.
During Public Comment, citizen Keith York congratulated the newly and re-elected alderman and asked council to consider redistricting McLeansboro’s 3 Wards for a better balance.
Zoning Administrator Pat Stevens has been authorized by council to secure appraisals for a number of city owned properties. Council is expected to work on establishing policies and procedures for the sale of real estate in the future.
New alderman Dale Biggerstaff discussed proposed renovations at City Hall, saying he’d like to see offices for privacy prompting Mayor Dick Deitz to reminisce about how far City Hall has come in his tenure and how expensive the proposal was the last time expansion into the old firehouse was looked at. It was expensive enough, plans were abandoned in the ‘90s when Deitz says it was deemed cost prohibitive and other projects took on a more important place in the spotlight for city funds. Biggerstaff persisted however saying he’d at least like to examine costs. His motion received a second just before dying and eventually passed with three of the aldermen pausing for deliberation before signaling their support. Dietz requested that Biggerstaff keep him in the loop and that he was included in any meetings saying he thought he could help.
Council will increase the cost of utility pole fees for secondary users. The price is going up to $14.
Council renewed their contract with Wilson’s Computers for technology maintenance and support at an investment of $12,000 or $1,100 per month. The meeting, following a quick break and executive session was adjourned 3 minutes prior to 8pm.