Reprinted with permission from Illinois Leaks:
NW Herald Editor Jon Styf pretends to report again…
ALGONQUIN TWP. (ECWd) –
NWH’s Editor Jon Styf titled his latest piece: “What in the World is going on in Algonquin Township“
We ask: “What in the World in going on at the NW Herald“
We suggest Styf is either willfully clueless or was listening only to certain trustees of the township when writing it, while masquerading it as a real news story.
There are several lawsuits in Algonquin Township involving the Road District and the Township. There are also lawsuits between the Road District, Union 150, the Edgar County Watchdogs, the Township Clerk, and the Township Supervisor.
Some of the suits involve:
- the belief (by 150) that their “union members” were improperly terminated (we understand this one is being appealed)
- Union 150 also had an FOIA lawsuit in which the Court ordered the Road District to pay $31,800 for the one-count suit (they were seeking considerably more than our settlement with the Road District that contained multiple counts.)
- a suit between the Road District and the Township Clerk and we believe vice-versa.
- a suit between the Road District and the former Highway Commissioner
- a suit between the Edgar County Watchdogs and the Road District and Township (we settled with the Road District to avoid incurring any more legal fees)
- a suit between the Road District and its former attorney to turn over all of the legal records generated during previous terms of office
- and this new suit between the Road District and Chuck Lotzow because he allegedly moved Road District monies into a new bank, but not into accounts in the name of the Road District
As we wrote in an earlier article (here), this new lawsuit seeks to have the Road District funds placed back into bank accounts in the Road District’s name.
The NW Herald, in this pretending-to-be-news-story, tries to minimize what Charles Lutzow did when he did not place the Road District monies into an account in the name of the Road District.
This minimization appears to be a defense of Lutzow’s actions, without questioning them.
Styf talks about a letterhead title, Facebook page title, website title, and the position of Highway Commissioner as if any of those play a role in the actual and official name of the Algonquin Township Road District.
He even quotes the long-time township accountant who would probably never say anything derogatory against the people she has been working with for more than a decade.
Considering Styf appears to think all of those titles are one in the same as “Road District,” it’s no wonder he missed the mark with his false allegation regarding the watchdogs spreading false Hanlon-defending narrative with fellow bloggers everywhere.
False, because he has once again failed to understand the difference between a legal entity and actual individuals who retain their first amendment rights.
We challenge Styf to point to any Edgar County Watchdog false narratives being shared with fellow bloggers everywhere.
None of this matters to the situation at hand; the improper naming of bank accounts.
What does matter with financial institutions and courts, is what the “official” and legal name of the District is, for that is how lawsuits are structured and how debts are paid.
Styf might want to take note that Thomas Gooch, the attorney for Bob Miller, tried to have his suit dismissed by claiming it was Gasser seeking the return of funds and not the Road District.
It would appear proper names are important and even recognized by Bob Miller’s attorney.
The Illinois Highway Code is the statute to look to when determining what is a “Road District” and what is a “Highway Department.”
That same statute outlines some very direct guidelines regarding banking selection and we are hedging our bets that those steps were not followed.
An FOIA request has been submitted to confirm our suspicions on this matter, and if true, Lutzow will have some more problems.
Illinois Highway Code [605 ILCS 5] makes no mention of a “Highway Department” and the statute grants no powers to a “Highway Department” or any other variation of the name:
- Sec. 6-107. Road districts have corporate capacity to exercise the powers granted thereto, or necessarily implied and no others.
- Sec. 6-501: The taxes, when collected, shall be held by the treasurer of the
district as the regular road fund of the district.
- Sec. 6-113. In each road district comprised of a single township, the township clerk shall be ex-officio the clerk for the highway commissioner.
- Sec. 6-114. In each road district comprised of a single township, the supervisor of such township shall be ex-officio treasurer for the road district.
- Sec. 6-206. In counties under township organization, the board of town trustees of the various townships shall, from time to time, when requested by the supervisor of their respective townships designate one or more banks or savings and loan associations in which the road funds of the road district in the custody of the district treasurer may be kept,
- Sec. 6-112. In each road district, except in a county unit road district and except in municipalities that have been created a road district, there shall be elected a highway commissioner in the manner provided in this Code.
Why is this such a big deal and why such sloppy “reporting” by the NWH?
This is a big deal to the Courts.
The “Road District” is who can sue or be sued, and consequently, it is the “Road District” who rightfully owns the district’s monies, and must answer to the Courts, as in the case with our settlement, as to whether or not they possess the funds to pay the legal debt.
Without accurate accounting, in the name of the District, it presents to the Court a financial narrative that is completely false.
Imagine if a person could simply avoid child support payments by placing accounts in their nicknames, or work under a name other than what their legal name is.
Although this is an extreme example, imagine again, if the banks and auditors had caught Rita Crundwell’s opening of a bank account not in the name of the City of Dixon a couple decades earlier – things would have turned out very different for the residents of the city.
Styf, again, misleads his readers by implying the Courts forced any settlement.
The settlement was entered into by both parties in an attempt at limiting legal expenses for the Road District and bringing closure to the issue of the improperly withheld public records.
It appears to bother Styf and others that we are ‘not’ at odds with Road District.
Why be at odds with a public body that has actually taken steps to clean up a massive mess and bring compliance to our laws along the way?
Will he make mistakes?
Sure, as recognized with the salt delivery which was corrected when the matter was raised.
If we are at odds with anyone it would be the Township and their attorney.
Our FOIA lawsuit is still working its way through the Courts and public funds are being spent to somehow defend their unlawful withholding of public records.
The Township appears to be comfortable paying its attorney to defend what they will eventually lose.
Maybe the NWH can go report on why the Township is paying legal bills of James Kelly for reviewing pleadings in the 150 union case?
One would think that would be a story of interest considering Styf appears to be so concerned over taxpayer funds being used.
In this case, the Township is not even a party yet they get bills for it and pay them.
Trustees must be doing a great job auditing those bills?
He then takes a pot-shot at our attorney by stating: “Apparently, she didn’t think of searching for the account using the word “highway” instead.”
How ignorant can he be?
Since when does an outside person have any power to actually do a search of bank records?
The fact of the matter is the Bank intentionally avoided disclosing what they knew and only after being told they would be drug into court for concealing the information did they finally amend their response.
They knew what was being asked for and it was not our attorney that needed to think of other search terms.
In fact, our attorney was present and spoke with the bank on this matter and it was made very clear what they were looking for.
The bank stood fast and denied having any accounts for the Algonquin Township Road District.
I guess that fact is a direct example that the proper name on a bank record is pretty important.
To imply she did something wrong in this shows the ignorance of all the facts in this matter.
More importantly, these facts were shared with Ed Komenda.
It would appear Komenda failed to provide what he was told or it was selectively ignored as it would not fit their agenda.
It’s almost as if Styf, the NWH, and the Trustees are the same organization since the NWH appears to defend their positions, without question or appropriate research, at each and every turn.
For a final laugh, he claims their Sunday article (slanted to paint an attorney in a bad light) was “well reported” and taken straight from court records; we find that laughable.
Yes, it was taken from court records, but only from part of the record.
Our follow-up article included what they failed to report.
We do find it telling that Styf made no effort of contacting our organization nor has he responded to our email.