The Hancock-Henderson Quill, Inc.

Trustee Sebastian Questions Unpaid Flood Bills

Gladstone Board Meeting

by Dessa Rodeffer, Quill Publisher

All trustees were present at the regular November 3rd board meeting, at the Gladstone Community Building to hear Trustee Byron Sebastian question Mayor Rex McKinney about unpaid flood bills.

Questioning was intense and was specifically directed to Mayor McKinney but included Trustee Darlene Manes.

Both the mayor and Manes had been overseeing the collecting of 2008 flood bills in the village and turning them into FEMA for payment.

Sebastian was told at last month's board meeting that he didn't think Sebastian was going to be paid by FEMA because of a conflict of interest.

Sebastian said he had been talking to FEMA and that, "All the paper work is suppose to be sent to the Village Clerk, not to your address and she (the Clerk) is to keep it on file for three years".

Mayor McKinney replied that he didn't ask them to send it to him, but he might have gave his box number to them. Darlene Manes added that she thought they had asked for his address on some of the forms.

"This is just the tip of the iceberg," Sebastian said.

Sebastian mentioned that the village received a check from Daniel Hynes, State Comptroller, which got mailed to the village's address which was the address initially signed up by Mike Hopkins and Don Olson.

After the Mayor heard that it requested the Mayor's signature on forms, McKinney and Manes took over going to the meetings in conducting all flood related bills. The action was not board approved.

Sebastian continued, "I talked to FEMA and they said the bills needed to be kept for three years.

So, did you bring them tonight to hand deliver them to Joyce?

McKinney said that he talked to them and they told him to hang on to all those papers for two years.

Sebastian said, "We are all going to get to the bottom of this. This is not going to go away. I can guarantee that. That's the first thing."

I want to hear you say again, "who told you that I was a conflict of interest being on the board?"

McKinney didn't answer and Darlene Manes replied, "I believe Rich (of FEMA) said it may be a conflict of interest. It doesn't matter .. we turned in the bills, but it is up to FEMA to what they do."

Bigger asked, "Was their's turned in? Darlene answered "Yes." and Rex answered, " Well sure they was."

Bigger questioned Manes if they turned in all the bills, where are the copies?

Manes answered, "We don't have copies but they are turned in. You can call in Sue Cores and Sue Cores can call Springfield and they are in the files and I believe it is called the PMF file and you can run in there and get everything you need in that.... It would take someone like Sue Cores to get into it."

Sebastian said, "I'm going to tell you what! I have talked to them all and I wouldn't want to be in your guys' shoes."

"Here's a letter from Richard Telgener, FEMA Project Specialist of which Attorney Youngquist has a copy of.

"Let's start at the very beginning. You guys said you both went to the kick-off meeting. You guys wasn't at the kick-off meeting. That was open to the public. Jim went, I went, and Donnie Olson, Jack Weeks. Darlene interjected that she would have gone but she did not know about it.

Sebastian said, "Just wait a minute, I got the floor, I'm going to read this.

"You guys stated that you guys were active in the project work sheets. Here we go." and then he read:

According to Mr. McKinney and Ms. Manes, initially certain members of the board of Selectmen (Byron Sebastian and two other individuals) attempted to interact with FEMA emergency recover personnel without the consent or knowledge of the Board."

Sebastian said, "That was open, that was the kick-off meeting." He read more:

"Reportedly they attended a state FEMA meeting in Quincy, IL and withheld from some board members paperwork obtained from FEMA.

"Donnie Olson went with Dickie Bigger," Sebastian said reporting that Donnie Olson reported at the following board meeting that "he never learnt nothin' and he never got nothin'."

Sebastian read on: "These board members tried to arrange an emergency session of the Board without the knowledge of the board members."

Sebastian explained that Jim called Mike Neff and Mike Neff said that the action of representatives needed to be board approved on who done what. Everybody was notified and for some reason the meeting was cancelled. "I don't care. That is water under the bridge."

Sebastian reads on to the board the following:

"Project work sheets prepared to date contain invoices from various contractors that constructed sandbags and temporary levees for the Village of Gladstone. These invoices appear to be fair and reasonable. Other invoices submitted by contractors including Byron Sebastian to the Village may be based on unreasonable costs and contain little information concerning what and where work was done. The applicants representative can not substantiate the nature or even if the work covered by some invoices was completed for the Village of Gladstone."

"Rex you were over there day in and day out. Darlene, you was too. And you tell me that I didn't do any work, Kevin Shauman didn't do any work. Don Oleson. Who the h..... do you think build the levees over here in Gladstone? It wasn't Curt McChesney like you guys are getting patted on the back for.

"And it also says here, Mr. McKinney indicated that he will submit all invoices to FEMA, but will likely not sign the PW if these questionable invoices are contained in the PW. These invoices are not contained in the project worksheets, but will be submitted to the FEMA JFO. Questionable invoices are attached to this invoice.

"So, I'd like to know who's lying here.

Dick Bigger asked, "Florence Mae, "Have you seen the PW?

She replied, "I haven't seen nothin'."

Arguments continued on who had seen the paperwork for the flood and no one seemed to have seen any of it.

Bigger said, "Show the people the PW (paperwork) Byron. Rex won't. This was issued in August this is November!

Sebastian said, "August 2nd. You knew exactly what was going on Rex."

Bigger said, "I'm glad the Township don't act like this. Show Willie, show Florence Mae the PW."

What are you trying to hide Rex? Bigger asked. "I'm not tryin' to hide nothin'."

"Florence Mae, that meeting was the night we were fighting the flood over there," Sebastian said.

Florence said, "No, it was not. They had two or three meetings you guys were going to have.

None of us wanted to go, so we didn't show up."

"Then you had a meeting here that you were suppose to bring the bills so they could turn them in.... Sebastian interjected, No one notified us Florence Mae.

Byron went on to another question.

"Why Rex do you say these bills are questionable when you were over there hauling sandbags?

"I guess the rest of us over there didn't pat you on the back like some people. I'd like to get a little information here. I've talked to everybody from FEMA I can talk to."

The mayor said, "Talk to the town's attorney because "I was advised by FEMA to turn everything over to him and he was to take care of everything."

At this point Attorney Youngquist said, I think it is very simple. I am in the process of trying to determine what the facts are in the situation and the laws are in the situation. And what I have been reading tonight are some of the regulations involved as far as how FEMA administers grant programs.

That is what this is a grant program. Some of the people in this room probably know more about the FEMA grant program than I do. In my experience a lot of what people think they know, maybe they do, maybe they don't.

I'm an attorney, you got to point to me the page in the book. That is what I'm doing now. I think the Mayor is correct when he says at this point he probably should not comment on actions he took in this situation as far as handling the bills."

Another determination I should make or I have to make early on in the process is who is it appropriate for me to give legal advice to?

I have some documents provided to me - I am waiting for what the law is for me to represent."

Sebastian advised that the check was in from FEMA and asked if they should go ahead and pay the flood bills that were awarded, because there is an investigation pending.

Attorney Youngquist said that "anytime there is questions attached to it and money is involved - sit on it.

"It is appropriate for me to look into it. There are enough questions here."

If anything is done, Attorney Youngquist said he will notify all the board members.

Jim Hetrick mentioned how hard it is to get a hold of the Mayor.

Hetrick and Sebastian had asked for all the copies of the FEMA papers Darlene and Rex had in their possession through the freedom of information act within 7 days as required by law.

Getting a hold of Mayor McKinney was difficult in that he won't answer the phone or messages left nor pick up certified letters, Sebastian said.

Byron asked, "Where did anyone come up with the measurements of the levees in Gladstone. We have a small levee 4,195 feet, 3 ft high, 0 top, 6' wide base. Will anyone explain to me where that one is in the village of Gladstone. No you can't because there wasn't one!"

Sebastian questioned Rex McKinney signing off on it.

Mayor McKinney said Rich (Telgener) project manager measured it. I wasn't even with him.

Sebastian continued, "Why would you sign off on something Curt McChesney didn't do. I can't believe you would sign your name to this. You can't get paid for sandbagging."

Sebastian questioned in more detail saying he felt "the government got ripped off on it."

He continued telling about work they had done. "There was five guys. We didn't even go home. We got up every hour and walked the levee. Rex you need to go home and start lookin' over these bills. You are going to have a lot of explaining to do. I would not want to be in your shoes. This is wrong what you did to the people."

Moving on to Kevin Shauman, Sebastian said to McKinney, "You said last month he was going to get his (pay)."

Rex said, I don't know if he was going to get paid or not.

Sebastian said it is pretty hard to say that he was going to get paid when you read this letter from Rich (FEMA).

In other business an Appropriate Ordinance was passed.

Village board rehired Scott Kelly for snow plowing $375 a snowfall of 2" or greater.

Dec. 13 was set for Santa Claus at the Community building and the village will have fruit baskets for seniors and candy for kids.

The meeting adjourned at 7:10 pm and will meet again December 8th at 6:00 p.m. at the Community building.