County: Paying bills we never see

By:  Diane Benjamin

Yesterday I attended my first County Land Use Committee meeting.  Everything in County government is done in committees, it makes watching what they do close to impossible.  By the time items make it to the County Board they will likely be rubber-stamped.  This isn’t just a McLean County thing, it’s how most counties operate

This meeting was held at 3:30, anybody who works normal hours would not have been able to attend.

The committee uses the same illegal public comment policy as stated on the website.  By law – you do not need to beg to speak in advance.  To avoid being forced to change the policy by the Attorney General, chair Chuck Erickson asked the committee if a lady who didn’t sign up could speak.  They agreed, so she did.

If anyone is ever denied the right to speak to any County committee or to the board, let me know.  They need to be reported and forced to change the policy.  If these public servants actually worked for you, the policy would already be changed. 

The purpose of this story is this item on the agenda:   https://www.mcleancountyil.gov/ArchiveCenter/ViewFile/Item/6168

The committee approved paying bills with no discussion.  I don’t know if they knew what bills were being paid, but nobody in the audience did.  A list is not included with the agenda or attachments.  See the Land Use Committee website here:  https://www.mcleancountyil.gov/index.aspx?nid=479

The minutes from the prior meeting only show the total paid, no itemized list.

I’ve heard the County policy is to pay any bills if they aren’t over budget.  Evidently the public knowing what those bills are isn’t important.  I think the amount approved yesterday was $6000 something.  For all I know they paid for catered dinner.

The list of bills being paid should be included in the documentation for all committees.  FOIA-ing the information shouldn’t be required.

I was there because it appears an old ordinance applied to a landowner but magically disappeared when a new owner bought the same property.

There was some extensive CYA happening that may get the County sued.  I’m still investigating, more later.

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