Board Meeting Fact Checking: 1/12/2021
As is my custom, I'm walking through the statements made during the board meeting to confirm if they were Fact or Fiction. As the agenda was actually pretty light, these statements cover the comments made in the early parts of the meeting and during Trustee Comments at the end.
Before the meeting began -- Hot Mic Moment:
It appears that in an attempt to resolve the complaints about the audio that Phil went to Best Buy and purchased a $200 microphone. Our board took the moments before the meeting to tease him asking if he got three bids. What he/they do not understand is that the commentary comes across as mocking those of us residents who have been pushing for procurement processes to be followed and yes, price comparisons would have been preferred. Mostly because I'm pretty sure that Phil overpaid for the microphone.
I've learned from a prior trustee that the village already owns (or at least at one time owned) 3 microphones that likely could have been used.
Microphones is actually something that I have some personal experience with -- little known fact is that my husband and I have hosted a (mostly weekly) podcast for several years and in fact began podcasting around 2006. So, we've not only bought microphones, but have pulled together the rig that we use to record our audio. As I'm pretty frugal, I can tell you that over the past 15 years, we have purchased 4 total microphones --- none of them was $200. In fact, I'm pretty sure that we don't have $200 in our current rather high end microphones.
But Phil, likely not an expert, went to Best Buy, NOT the best place to purchase audio recording equipment, and spent $200 of our village money.
And then Trustee Berman mocked residents, like me, that would wish that we'd hold our officials to procedure and process to ensure good stewardship of village funds.
Prior to public comments - as is his usual -- Phil has a list of things he wished to address:
Village Audit: Phil summarizes the code that was enacted in 2015 (in the wake of Dixon) that requires that audit to be made public and posted on the website. He also acknowledges that the Management Letter must also be included. What is interesting is that as of this post this letter is NOT on our website for public review. He states that this is the first time we've received a Management Letter from the auditors (a fact I will continue to check) and that the letter did call out some issues. Phil states that this management letter calls out "internal control weaknesses" and mentions that these have been addressed including the termination of the responsible employee. However, the Finance Director sets the standards for our internal controls. It is her direction that is followed -- and she still has her job -- So????
I had emailed our CAO regarding the missing Management Letter on 1/4/21 -- I've yet to get a response from her. When I saw her in person on Saturday, I asked about the lack of response, she promised me that the letter was going up soon. I'm curious as to exactly how long "soon" is.
Ice Fishing on Turnberry Lakes. All Phil says is that the rules have not changed, but last year they (the board) added these rules to our village code so that the police could enforce these rules. Passes for boats and fishing on the Turnberry Lakes are available for all those with rights to the lakes free of charge and are available at Village Hall during normal business hours.
I know that these passes are available in Village Hall and that fishing and ice fishing do happen on Turnberry Lakes. I also know that Phil does not leave the patrolling of the lakes and who is using them to the police and has been known to yell at residents who are on the lakes if he doesn't believe they belong.
Police Vehicle Maintenance. Phil states that the police were not driving on 'balding tires' -- he says "This is simply not true." He claims that two cars had tires installed "as part of their regularly scheduled maintenance." However, this is actually very much not true.
First, the tires in question were all measured as they came off the vehicles and none of the tire tread measured greater than 2/32"; the majority were at 1/32" or 0/32". To be clear, 2/32" is the legally bald and must be replaced. Most shops recommend that you replace at 4/32" if you do not have snow or wet road conditions to deal with -- otherwise, consider replacing sooner.
Next, the tires were not replaced as part of 'regularly scheduled maintenance.' If that was the case, when resident, now Candidate, April Runge (running for Village Trustee on April 6th) emailed our CAO, the response would have been about the scheduled maintenance -- but instead her response was "the police have not prioritized the tires." I have it on good authority that our CAO told Sgt. Cole to hold off on buying the requested tires earlier in the month of December. So, the bald tires were known and were not prioritized by our CAO/Board until a resident literally offered to buy the tires for the police herself. April's exact quote was "I wouldn't let my family drive on those tires." The CAO later changed her story and claimed that the tires were back-ordered -- which again is only true if you believe that not ordering tires is the same as backordering tires.
Investigation of Sgt. Cole. Phil says it is going on and will be completed by the next board meeting. What he fails to disclose is that this officer was accused of racist comments that drove another officer from our village and yet was not put on Administrative Leave. It's a pretty serious accusation that was levied against him -- one that would most likely result in admin leave anywhere else --- but for reasons that seem elusive, this investigation is being treated far differently than the one conducted against our last police chief.
Trustee Missing While on Duty
The next interesting thing that happened was during the vote for the consent agenda, it appears that Doug Ulrich left the room he was 'attending' the board meeting in (he'd turned his camera off) and when he was called upon to vote on the consent agenda, he had no idea what he was voting on. Phil informed him to vote "yes" and that's what he did. But I must ask, Mr. Ulrich if you have no respect for the board and the public's time to pay attention to the meeting, why are you there? It is obnoxious to watch Phil get up and leave and active ignore public comments -- but this is now the second meeting in a row where you have decided to turn off your camera and apparently tune out of doing your job. No wonder you aren't questioning the spending or the financial reports.
Let's Make a Deal -- the Berman Edition
Finally, I can't let this overview end without a note on Trustee Berman's Trustee Comment. It appears that Trustee Berman is having a very hard time understanding the differences in his role as trustee and his role as resident. You see as a Trustee, he is actually prohibited from being involved in the election process; though as a resident he is not. I get how those lines may be blurred for him -- but believe me that using his platform as a Trustee to attempt to explain away his baseless objection to four nomination petitions is frankly unethical. It appears that he tried to use his position as Trustee to justify the wasting of our taxpayer's money -- it seems that he does not understand that our village attorney is not offering a with 3 election boards, you get one free program. His objection is not an incremental additional cost -- the postage costs alone doubled the second he put in his frivolous objection. Attorney hours are attorney hours -- and the two sets of objections are in no way similar. However, Trustee Berman appears to publicly admit that his objection was done solely because there was another objection submitted. He does not claim he has facts (because he can not possibly have facts to his accusations); he claims he did it in retaliation to an objection made by not the opposing candidates -- but by a resident.
Additionally, Trustee Berman attempts to offer a deal to the resident who objected to the incumbents petitions. I think someone needs to explain that Trustee comments are not the latest version of "Let's Make a Deal" as this is now the second time he's tried to do that little move. Lest either Trustee Berman or Resident Berman get confused in this matter -- both the objections will be fully heard by the election boards who will make the determination as to who will and who will not be on the ballot. Just short of you deciding to stop wasting our time the village's money and withdrawing your retaliatory objection -- this will be determined by those who are not swayed by a desire to keep things as they are and self-protection of position and power --- but by people swayed by adherence to the law and the requirements for evidence to confirm accusations.
Mr. Berman, you want to play "Let's Make a Deal?" How about when you lose your objection, you repay the village for all of their costs for this frivolous objection AND you resign?