Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Watchdog group: Improper city spending rampant in Illinois

By Benjamin Yount | Illinois News Network

Questions about a plane ticket to Japan for the girlfriend of the mayor of Bloomington point to just the latest case of questionable spending at city halls in Illinois.

The Edgar County Watchdogs, John Kraft and Kirk Allen, said Bloomington is not the only city where it appears city leaders are misspending city money or misusing city assets.

Kraft said the available facts for the Bloomington case don't answer all of the questions. Mayor Tari Renner is accused of buying a nearly $1,900 plane ticket for his girlfriend to go to a Sister Cities event in Japan – or at the very least “floating” her airfare on the city's credit card.

Kraft said that's against the law, and he thinks Renner knows it. He believes Renner claimed his girlfriend would reimburse the city for the ticket only after he was caught.

"To us it's more [a question] of the actions that Mayor Renner and some of the City Council members took after it was publicized what happened," Kraft said.

Allen said misspending at city halls is "out of control" in Illinois.

He pointed to the tiny town of La Harpe in western Illinois.

"One of the most recent cases that is being prosecuted is the La Harpe mayor over in Hancock County," Allen explained. "He thought it would be okay to use the city's backhoe on his property for about 30 minutes. Citizens snapped pictures of it. We looked into it, and sure enough, he was digging up some stuff for a water line or something."

Kraft and Allen and the Edgar County Watchdogs have developed a reputation for reporting on government misspending. They were the first to report on the questionable spending of Illinois Auditor General Frank Mautino.

Both men said Illinois' official misconduct law is clear: Public dollars and property are only for public benefit.

reprinted from:https://www.ilnews.org/news/statewide/watchdog-group-improper-city-spending-rampant-in-illinois/article_d3fe0c90-8e55-11e7-8ed6-afb9307c6f67.html

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