Want to see what a SCAM looks like?

By: Diane Benjamin

Below is a clip from the January 4, 2022 Normal Council meeting where the National Fitness Campaign project was discussed. The speaker is Doug Damery, head of Parks and Recreation for Normal. Remember the $25,000 grant Normal received? Damery details how difficult the process was to get that grant: (less than 1 minute)

Doug makes it sound like he spent hours and hours filing out paperwork for that $25,000 grant!

The grant didn’t come from National Fitness Campaign, it came from a group called Illinois Park and Recreation Association (IPRA). It is not an agency of the State of Illinois, it’s a private membership group.

See this link:



IPRA partnered with National Fitness Campaign to hand out grants.

Doug Damery didn’t reveal that at the Council meeting, he should have:


Damery is the board chair of the organization that handed out the grants! All Doug needed was Council approval. The grant was never a question when the board chair of IPRA was the guy wanting it.

Refer back to the “grant” announcement link. Damery had to know National Fitness Campaign was not a non-profit. This statement is on the bottom of their press release:

Town of Normal purchasing policy: https://www.normal.org/DocumentCenter/View/12829/2017-Purchasing-Policy-Manual-x?bidId=

Doug Damery violated the Town of Normal purchasing policy by not revealing the organization he is Board President of has partnered with National Fitness Campaign:

One more thing:

Another outdoor fitness company was also courting Normal – Greenfields Outdoor Fitness. Their equipment doesn’t require training and downloading an app to use like National Fitness Campaign’s does:

Without “favor or prejudice” Mr. Damery?

Which equipment is more likely to be used? The one that requires an app and training or the above?

Pam Reece had to know Doug Damery’s position with IPRA, she said nothing. Chris Koos likely knew too, the IPRA tax return (see below) says Damery spends 10 years a week working for IPRA. Is that on Town of Normal time Doug?

All of this information was either acquired by FOIA or researched through data found in the FOIA.

IPRA has a list of COMMERICAL members meaning IPRA collects membership fees and then promotes the commercial members. National Fitness Campaign is one of them: https://ilipra.org/ILIPRA/About_Us/CommercialMembers/ILIPRA/About_Us/CommercialMembers.aspx?hkey=168f7012-6f76-4241-939b-3d459dfa4cd0

Anyone surprised Greenfield’s Outdoor Fitness isn’t a member? Is that why their much easier to use equipment wasn’t considered Mr. Damery?

IPRA 2019 Tax return: https://apps.irs.gov/pub/epostcard/cor/300098388_201912_990_2021022217741784.pdf

IPRA actually is a nonprofit, unlike National Fitness Campaign. In 2019 Damery was just the secretary, he wasn’t paid. His promotion to Board Chair also appears to be unpaid.

If it looks like a skunk and smells like a skunk . . . . .







13 thoughts on “Want to see what a SCAM looks like?

  1. Obvious conflict of interest per the Town’s own purchasing policy. Problem is, Pam Reece decides if the conflict matters and we know how honest she is.

    1-2. Policy on Conflicts of Interest.
    (a) No employee may participate in the purchasing process if the employee knows any of the following:
    (1) The employee is contemporaneously employed by a bidder or vendor that is involved in the procurement transaction.
    (2) The employee or any immediate family member holds a critical position with a bidder or vendor that is involved in the procurement transaction. A “critical m position” means (i) an owner with an interest of more than 10%, (ii) an officer, director, trustee, partner, or similar position, or (iii) an employee who is substantially involved in the procurement transaction.
    (3) The employee or any immediate family member has a financial interest arising from the procurement transaction.
    (c) The City Manager is responsible for determining if a violation of this Conflict of Interest Policy has occurred and if any disciplinary action is necessary in accordance with the Town’s Personnel Code.


  2. What would make anyone think that the National Fitness Campaign is a not for profit? I don’t see anyway they could be just reading how they operate from their own web site. If they are, it’s fishy at best. Damery has some answering to do, no doubt. But, the bigger issue here is the Council members who voted for this. They obviously didn’t do their homework. Taking city staff recommendations blindly is not doing your homework. This is not a good look for certain Council members seeking a state office. Preston’s damage control is only going to highlight what an idiot he is. These type of agreements are what’s wrong with government and those who support them are part of the problem, not the solution.

  3. FYI: Doug Damery came to Normal from a similar position in Washington, IL where he earned a salary of slightly over $84,000 a year. His current salary with Normal is $135,010. On top of that, as Diane has uncovered, it looks like he’s got a part time gig. Living large off the public trough.

  4. The Council is being manipulated to purchase this “brand” of equipment apparently because it aligns with IPRA’s agenda. I would like to know if IPRA gets anything if the Town buys from NFC? The purchase is not being bid out despite other vendors selling competing products/services. This is the equivalent of being pressured to buy one brand of running shoes when other brands exist. This decision is obviously not being considered through the lens of what is best for the Town of Normal. It is tiresome that Pam Reece and her staff materially misrepresent and mislead the council and that she regularly ignores the Conflict of Interest Policy which was supposed to curtail problems like this. Normal truly operates as a fiefdom.

    All of the corruption and deceit that is going on at the highest levels within Normal’s government could be stopped if only 4 of the 7 council members cared enough to demand it stops.

    Keep an eye on those who are running for higher office. If they continue to refuse to take a stand to end local corruption how do you think they will do combating it at the state level?

    (YES, I am taking advantage of the fact people are running for state office in an attempt to compel them to fix things at home before they abandon their council seat.)

    Stan Nord – Normal Council Person who has called out Normal’s corruption problem from day 1. (Actually, I was calling it out before I was elected but “day 1” sounds better. 🙂 )

  5. I’m glad the word Scam was used. I was thinking the exact same thing while reading the previous articles as well.

    It’s not only just the attempted grift/scam – but the attempted gloss over cover up AFTER that really helps flesh out the true motives of the players involved.

    This time , they were spotted. I wonder how many times in the past poor/no due diligence by the ‘professional staff’ resulted in a successful grift ?

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