It is more than a little irononic that the following article, from Illinois Leaks, republished with permission, reports on partial reporting by the Northwest Herald when Editor Jon Styf has a column (“10 reasons it’s great to be a Northwest Herald subscriber“) bragging about only his paper reporting on items, two of which first appeared here within the last week.
Algonquin Township – Selective reporting
“Selective wording in reporting is often done for the purpose of supporting a narrative being pushed for all kinds of different reasons.”
The above quote is from our article published at this link where we exposed the misinformation that is so rampant with the Algonquin Township and local reporting.
NWH reports – “Richard Cenar, the chief of public integrity at the Office of the Illinois Attorney General, wrote that charges would not be filed against Gasser in a June 12 letter.”
That quote is a very selectively worded statement that is true but fails to tell the whole truth.
The way it was reported leaves readers with a perception that there was wrongdoing but they chose not to prosecute, thus casting a negative message on the person named.
The whole truth would not support the negative narrative which appears to be why they chose to keep key facts out of the reporting, an opinion of ours based on past reporting we witnessed.
Yes, charges will not be filed against gasser because in their opinion it appeared no criminal violations have occurred.
After reviewing the binder containing the McHenry County Sheriff reports and investigation which were forwarded with your letter, it is our opinion that it appears no criminal violations have occurred.
Consequently, we respectfully decline to file criminal charges against Mr. Gasser. (Actual Letter)
Why not report that there was no criminal violation and leave it at that?
NWH reported – “In her email, Lawrence wrote that because the act of purchasing the salt without following bidding laws was not found to be a prosecutable offense, she does not believe that the board’s approval of payment would be either.”
We can only wonder why they did not call out Lawrence for the false claim that salt was purcahsed without following bidding laws, which is the truth.
The first keyword to expose in that reporting is “offense”.
The reported statement directly implies there was an offense.
What was that offense?
The truth, there was no offense but once again the readers are left with a perception that there was an offense even though the truth of the matter is the authorities found no criminal violation, thus no offense.
The only salt that was purchased without following bidding laws was in 2017 (excluding multiple years of no salt bidding by the prior highway commissioner that no one wants to talk about), and the board approved of that action and paid those bills.
In that situation, the highway commissioner, as well as the Trustees and Supervisor, all violated the law but we find no reporting on that fact outside of what we have reported.
Is it because they didn’t want to cast negativity on the entire board and Supervisor who was a party to that whole failure?
As it relates to the 2018 salt supply, there was no purchase without bidding as implied numerous times.
In fact, there was only a delivery of salt followed with a notification to the company that they can’t pay the bill for something that was not put out for bid.
After a proper bid was published, opened, and awarded, the bill is a legal bill that should have been paid.
Trustee Lawrence reports to the Board – “Ever since State’s Attorney Patrick Kenneally made his public decision that the Road District’s failure to abide by proper bidding laws, in this case, did not, in his opinion, rise to the level of criminal conduct or warrant any prosecution thereof, I have been taking another look at the feasibility of paying this bill.
“Mainly spurred by the fact that, if the act itself of purchasing no-bid salt was not a prosecutable offense, I do not believe that the Board’s approval of payment therefore also could be.
“Thus, my main concern of the Board of committing an unlawful act is eased.”
Once again we find false statements and inferences that appear designed to continue the narrative of wrongdoing on the 2018 salt purchase.
For starters, it was not the State’s Attorney who made a public decision not to prosecute.
It was the Attorney General’s chief of public integrity who said there would be no charges because there appears to be no criminal violation that occurred.
Why Lawrence credits Kenneally with this decision makes no sense to those who read the letter from the Attorney General’s office.
Especially considering he turned the matter over to the AG’s office claiming a conflict.
One who claims they have a conflict is not the one who gets to make any decision on the matter.
The initial failure of Gasser to bid the salt in 2018, was, in fact, corrected before any bill was submitted for payment.
He fixed his screw up, and properly bid the salt and awarded a contract to the responsive bidder.
So it is not true to say there was a failure to abide by proper bidding laws unless you properly clarify the entire chain of events, a convenient bit of information Lawrence leaves out of her communication.
Rise to the level of criminal conduct or warrant prosecution?
There appeared to be no criminal violation so there is no way the action could have risen to criminal conduct.
Lawrence is the one who insisted on the criminal investigation regarding the 2018 salt purchase.
Even after the authorities confirm there was no criminal violation, she continues with the false narrative that salt was purchased without bidding.
It was not, except in 2017 which she was a party to paying that bill.
Interesting her request for a criminal investigation failed to point to the actions of all in 2017.
For the record, the 2017 failure to follow the bidding we do not believe to be criminal, but rather a violation of the law that specifically outlines when it happens is a civil remedy matter.
Trustee Lawrence reports to the Board – “The cited cases from 1908, 1925, 1938, and 1982 in Attorney Kelley’s letter, as was pointed out to me and confirmed by my own research, do not directly align with this case in which the Highway commissioner did, in fact, fail to utilize competitive bidding, resulting in a much higher cost, but in this case, funds were appropriated to the purchase and the entity did have authority to make the purchase even if the proper procedure was not followed.”
Again, even after the authorities found no criminal violation, Lawrence continues with false statements.
Gasser did not fail to utilize competitive bidding for the salt bill that was before the board.
He failed to bid the salt initially, stopped any possible bill from being paid and then properly bid the salt and awarded the contract that resulted in a valid bill for payment that Lawrence and others refused to pay for months.
Trustee Lawrence reports to the Board- “Lastly, after concluding that the Board is likely no more culpable than the Road District itself in its failure to follow bidding laws, there is still more reason to now approve this bill. Commissioner Gasser has already publicly admitted his oversight as a mistake, and he seemed to take at least one action to attempt to correct it, months later when he put out another request for bids.
“As a direct result of his oversight/mistake, his request for bids only attracted one bidder: the same company which had already delivered the salt without a bid.
“Even that one bid was contingent upon the backpayment of over one hundred thousand dollars in material already delivered.
“Another natural consequence of Commissioner Gasser’s oversight/mistake is the new information that the necessary salt procurement for the ‘19/’20 Winter may be at risk due to vendors’ unwillingness to do business with the Road District without exorbitant prices per ton of material.”
The salt was bid, yet she continues with the false narrative that he failed to follow bidding laws, and then confirms he did, in fact, put it out for bid. So which is it Trustee Lawrence?
He bid it out or did not bid it out?
Her claim that there was only one bidder because of the initial failure to bid is nothing more than her opinion.
We challenge her to prove the reason there were no other bidders is because he failed to put it out for bids initially.
Finally, Lawrence casts the blame on Gasser for future salt procurement being at risk even though the fact is the refusal to do business with the Road District was not because of what Gasser did or did not do, but rather the very inaction by the board to pay the bill.
“Algonquin Township Rd Dist. – Attn: Andrew Gasser
Your unit did not receive a Bid Offer in the Contract Solicitation for 2019-2020 . . CMS has consulted with a vendor, Compass Minerals, about acceptance of your requirements. ( Price $97.75 for 4500 tons ) Their acceptance is contingent upon “until customer brings their account current with Compass Minerals and payment of outstanding account balance is received in full”. CMS cannot proceed with assigning your unit to this vendor’s forthcoming contract until we receive notification that this matter is resolved. Therefore, if you want CMS to accomplish assignment of your requirements please promptly contact Compass Minerals to resolve this matter and notify CMS when resolution is completed.”
Anyone reading the above quote provided to Gasser by the State and forwarded to the trustees can clearly see, the account must be brought current and payment of outstanding account balance paid in full.
The fact it had not been paid is the reason the future purchases are at risk, not because of anything Gasser did as Lawrence implies.
The ONLY people who can address the risk referenced is the Board of Trustees.
The risk was because of their refusal to pay a legal bill, not because of Gasser’s corrected mistake.
Trustee Lawrence reports to the Board- “When all of these factors are considered as a whole: the State’s Attorney’s decision, Andrew Gasser’s admission of his errors and attempt to correct them, the lack of precedent in this exact situation, the existing and future consequence of Mr. Gasser’s mistakes, etc., I now believe that the consequences to our constituents of NOT paying this bill greatly outweigh any potential liability risk to the Board.
“While I am not happy to be paying the bill at a significantly higher rate than could have been acquired through competitive bidding, given new information, I believe it is the right thing to do in order to avoid any further negative consequences to our constituents and their tax dollars.
“For all these reasons, I will be voting to approve the Compass Minerals bill in its entirety, and I encourage you to do the same.”
- There was no State’s Attorney decision on this matter
- The error made was corrected so to state there was an ‘attempt” to correct it is a lie.
- There is no need for precedent on the matter as there was no criminal violation as confirmed by the authorities
- There is no existing or future consequence of Gasser’s mistake because the initial mistake was, in fact, corrected. The future consequence of this event lies solely on the board who refused to pay a bill for a properly awarded contract.
- The bill was for salt that was properly bid so to imply the rate was not established through competitive bidding is simply false.
We believe Trustee Lawrence should resign as it clearly appears she has a problem with the truth.
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