So my lifetime data-saturation limit was superseded after Wednesday night’s meeting and my choice for silence out of me in any online form and/or forum seemed the most responsible option I had once I had conversations regarding the Village holiday party.
Unbeknownst to any of you, I was already fed up with being used by Mayor Rybak as it relates to my choice to be fairly reliable in recording meetings, publishing meetings and subsequently finding points of matter for us to discuss in this type of a public forum.
Green as I might always be in terms of journalism as a profession, I had been forewarned by professionals through their own publishing efforts that reporting on government activity was always going to be a give and take process and sometimes one side had to settle for what they could get.
It’s no secret to even the most subtle of data-collectors that I have a great deal of interest in the Village of Midlothian being audited at all levels and for multiple years. Whether its been pointing out matters belonging before someone in the Public Access Counselor’s (PAC) office (we STILL are not in compliance with OMA laws…but that’s just a part of the Midlothian tradition…?) or even the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) (when did the disguising and disconnecting of the internal accounting system begin?), this is not some simply matter of believing some form of social justice needs to be delivered to the public.
I wanted to jump out of my chair and yell “Enough!” at the top of my lungs towards the end of Wednesday’s meeting, but I also didn’t want to be hauled away in handcuffs for such an opportunity to provide a fleeting statement of nothing other than a visible measure of my intolerance with any and all government officials who choose to obstruct the progress of the people for political purposes and points.
Sure Mayor Rybak has the power to take notes during the meeting, but she didn’t say anything about investigating why her email on Tuesday didn’t make it to the Trustees. She inevitably dared the Trustees to call her a liar and they didn’t pick up the gauntlet she threw down with a smile and a reassurance. They instead confronted her on another front, that of the timeliness of the materials she admitted to have sent in violation of OMA laws mandating all materials to be provided no less than 48 hours before a meeting…technically to the public as well, but then again it would be a real shocker if the Village began archiving the List of Bills we get paper copies of.
Mayor Rybak has had the power to make announcements in connection to investigations and investigative matters and once again, she abused it by letting even more questionable activities leak out. There are “missing invoices” in which accountability has been assigned to the vendors and hearing that both Mayor Rybak and the newly appointed Village Treasurer Maggie Britton have repetitively tried to acquire them…Dell computer’s has refused the formal request of the Village of Midlothian to surrender evidence of a financial transaction the Village is claiming to have occurred…? Does this mean that Dell has a record and they are refusing to release it or are they saying that they have no record of the transaction because the transaction never occurred?
But let me put aside the board room for a moment and fast forward less than 48 hours later. Based on my research, which included acquiring the verbiage of the invite, Mayor Sharon Rybak decided to host a party with only her brand of guests to be invited.
Let’s first take the idea that Mayor Rybak still deserves a pat on the back for her out-of-pocket expense to fund her personal Mayoral propaganda playground attached to her other employers quarterly publication. I recently asked for clarity about the matter and was greeted with more of a dulling of interest from everyone in the room, but the Mayor did articulate the process.
For the same amount of money she has already spent, she could have funded the wiring project necessary for the Village of Midlothian to being broadcasting 24/7 to its residents.
This is the political value she puts on her private dollar investments. She’s drip you a few drops of content once every three months and then act shocked when her investment judgement is questions…as was to be my final point that night I asked the question, but I chose to hold onto my opinion for but a while longer.
Mayor Rybak chose verbiage that implies her “holiday party” was for Village employees. Okay. So why were at least three employees excluded from the party? They never received invites. Indicative of Mayor Rybak’s tendency to “whoops” her way through pertinent details such as keeping track of a guest list or a failure of the Village record-keeping system to produce within a few clicks a current and accurate list of all Village employees? None of the above? Maybe Mayor Rybak sent it via email to everyone and the system failed her…but I believe it was printed on nice white card stock…
The verbiage also allows scootchable lines to be drawn in terms of a Park District employee being in attendance at this holiday party. At first, I was about to rail against tax payer dollars being used, but it was made clear to me that this party was coming out of Mayor Rybak’s private pocketbook, so additional guests should be of no concern of mine…
Except for one former Trustee showing up at the party. This Trustee triggered the building code violation mess by being responsible for the build-out of the new board room and back then there was questions surrounding what actual account was the money being drawn from…among other questions.
I can’t help but wonder if Mayor Rybak invited either of her predecessors and the former Village Treasurer…maybe even a past Village Clerk…?
So in summary, we, the public, have had revealed to us two separate timelines being “investigated”…one from the 2010 bond series and like it or not, the spending of Mayor Rybak on blacktop from Shamrock in which the job had to be re-done and a shade of tan paint that still can cause a painful groan or two from residents and business owners alike. The 2010 bond series is under question because the agreement came with strict instructions on how the money could and could not be spent, along with all of the other laws attached to such a financial instrument. It’s been suggested a portion of the initially “questionable activities” stem from some sort of financial investment strategy performed by the former Village President and the former Village Treasurer, which is possible, but from the sounds of it, I still want to know how much was spent on transaction fees if that many money transfers were going on…let alone other portions of their investment schematic.
Another part of the current investigation being performed under the line item labeling of “forensic audit of bond money expenditures” (or something to that effect) is whether or not the activities and reports of the contractor are up to the standards the term “forensic audit” calls for. Another boring topic for my regulars is my grasping at circumstances of newly past and making a point of why the errors still being put into our meeting minutes are so detrimental to the health of the many…
And while there will always be a few who survive and thrive no matter what degree the information dissemination chaos they are gambling on, I listened to Mayor Rybak admit that the money she used to pay for the blacktop came from bond money…
From her first formal claim to the public implied that the spending had already arrived to the Village thanks to a grant from our State Representative all the way to her explaining the money she used would have to be put back…or whatever phrase was used…
She’s leading the investigation into the behaviors of past government officials, ready to throw the gavel down on top of a report and telling the world, via my camera (she always hopes for nowadays it seems), that she has figured out who we should be holding formally and legally accountable for irregular and potentially illegal spending habits…
So while I don’t think Mayor Rybak will resign her seat as Mayor as I have pondered about for some time now (recall laws in future…?), she certainly can recuse herself from this “forensic audit” as it should not matter what bond account she took it from in relation to the scope of the contracted audit.
The principle should still be the same if the bond says the funds were restricted and her expenditure was not approved per the agreement…let alone her violation of the work-in-progress document she never waved in front of the public attached to her initial announcement of the “success.” That document came later, after multiple FOIA requests by myself and another. The terms of the working document that was NOT A CONTRACT made it clear that all expenditures she listed would be approved by the board.
The question of authorizing expenditures is one of the few nucleus clauses in which local laws suggested anything above $500 had to be approved by the board, rendering the clauses in the contract with the State of Illinois irrelevant except as supporting documentation of an understanding and a promise to secure board approval on all projects that held this potential for reimbursement through this grant structure.
At least with one of these two tangents I just roamed around, there is a fairly simple, straight-forward and quite frankly, right choice to make which would be to publicly apology and share a few kind words. Considering who the people are, she shouldn’t have too much trouble finding a few nice things to say about their dedication and commitment to the Village.
As for this other tangent of my lacking even more clarity than I could possibly imagine at this point, it is clear that Mayor Rybak thinks she has a top-secret script that only the special chosen have access to knowing about and the rest of us are her playthings to toy with…
Please at least consider calling for her recusal on the investigation into the movements of bond money through the accounting books of the Village of Midlothian by emailing or calling her? Call her even if you support her staying on. Call or email a Trustee your opinion. I don’t think we have a process or procedure for something like this and only the Trustees can pass laws and resolutions.
Also, please keep in mind that the Office of the Investigator General is in effect through late January 2016.
Even that math isn’t adding up quite right right about now, but for now I think this whole “audit update” thing coming from the Village of Midlothian President has to come to an end.
That’s my vote on the above matters.
Now back to virtual silence…