Thursday, August 19, 2010

Is Dorr Township hiding something?

What is it that Dorr Township is trying to hide from its electors (voters) and residents?

The Township Trustees, Supervisor and Attorney are not open with the public.

Example: the response to a FOIA Request for the Town Clerk's application was heavily redacted to remove the name of his former employer, which was the Woodstock Chamber of Commerce. And the Township FOIA response withheld the name of the organization that awarded Quinn Keefe its 2009 Citizen of the Year Award. That was the Woodstock Moose Lodge, according to a FOIA response to a second resident.

The Township officials did not inform residents (voters and electors) of a bill ((S.B. 3010) in the State legislature that would allow them pretty much to do whatever they wanted with money on hand, which they have been soaking up over the past few years. Both houses passed it and Gov. Quinn signed it. Why didn't our legislators send out one of the newsy mailing pieces and give us that information? Guess they thought we wouldn't find out about it.

The Township is getting ready to expand the Town Garage and the Town Hall with the $2.7 million that managed to squirrel away over the past few years.

Where did they get that? Out of your pockets! You didn't miss it, did you?

Now they continue to withhold information about expansion plans, in spite of a decision by the Public Access Counselor at the Illinois Attorney General's office.

Are you starting to feel like a mushroom? You know, kept in the dark and covered up with ...?

After Dorr Township denied three requests for soil borings, solicitations for bids for environmental studies and the results of those studies, the Illinois Attorney General's Public Access Counselor (PAC) granted one resident's appeal of the first denial.

The PAC said that keeping documents out of the hands of those who might be opposed to expansion is not a legitimate use of FOIA exemptions.

Since the same exemption was used as the excuse for all three denials, the resident suggested to the Board and to Township Attorney Mark Saladin that Township money and time could be saved if they would release the denied documents. She also put that into a written request.

They refused. "We will follow the decision of the AG/PAC when it is issued" was their written response.

They did have to hand over the March 2010 soil borings report for the "office building and parking lot" at the town garage. The consulting firm of Construction & Geotechnical Material Testing (CGMT) describes the project: a new single story office building will be constructed at the site, existing warehouse building will be removed, new parking area and salt dome are also planned. CGMT gives soil profiles, recommends against building a salt dome in the wet, low corner of the 2 acres, and would like to oversee the foundation wall construction.

The "light duty requirements" of the parking lot seem puzzling, because there is no mention of heavy trucks using the site. To me, "light duty" would mean passenger cars, motorcycles and light pick-up trucks. What about the heavy trucks used by the Township?

At the same time Legat is planning a 50,000 sq. ft. [new] garage. Trustee Evanoff left the Township meeting during the discussion of the Public Access Counselor's opinion. I wonder if the Minutes will reflect the time he left the meeting and the time he returned. My first thought was whether a quorum still existed in the meeting, but no decisions were required before he returned. When ya gotta go, ya gotta go...

Trustee Evanoff warned those assembled that there might be things at the garage site that will be very "costly" to the township and that "they" -- whoever they are -- may condemn the site. Trustee Lamb mentioned that there had been no objection when the Trustees approved paying for soil borings & environmental studies. But the residents had been prevented from seeing what those soil borings and studies were intended to do or what they showed -- how could residents object?

In the opinion of one resident, "Keeping all these consultants' work product & communications about them secret is just plain wrong."

What do you think? Should the elected officials be open and deal on top of the table?

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