The Hancock-Henderson Quill, Inc.

Watchdogs Instruct La Harpe Committee of the Whole

By Deb Olson, The Quill

John Kraft and Kirk Allen of the Edgar County Watchdogs used public comment time at the beginning of the La Harpe City Council's Monday night Committee of the Whole meeting to instruct the council how to proceed against Mayor Ryan Kienast, for alleged wrongdoings. (see-the side bar-on page 2)

Mr. Kraft discussed the procedure for collecting a debt from a municipal officer according to the Illinois Municipal Code.

Allen spoke to the council members present about official misconduct and the use of public funds for public purposes only. He advised the council that the process ahead may not be an easy one, but that it is a necessary one.

Recent posts on the Watchdog facebook page have questioned Kienast's non-payment of a water bill and on November 11, the group posted an article questioning Kienast's use of a city backhoe driven by a city worker being used to work on the foundation of his home.

When the November 14th meeting was called to order at 7:00 a.m., Mayor Kienast was not present. In Kienast's absence, Councilman Darrell Kraft was named mayor pro tem for the meeting.

In other business the council:

In further discussion of the cemetery, a private family has come forward wanting to place a sign for the cemetery at the 6th street entrance. All council members would like to see the plan before the project goes further.

The Finance committee report included the following reminders to city employees:

These new rules begin this month.

Bennett also discussed hiring new employees.

He said that there needs to be a change in wording for the advertisement for the water department employee to read, "must be able to pass licensing test".

He noted that holiday pay for full and part time employees is time and a half, the vacation accrual is according to the calendar year, and payroll dates will remain the same.

Darrell Kraft stated the need for "better record keeping" regarding vacations.

In discussing financial record keeping, Mike Bennett stated that the council members "don't know what any of the balances should be." Treasurer Jennifer Ewing is working with Grays Accounting in Quincy.

Under agenda item #8, which discusses the use of city services by a private individual, Mike Bennett noted that the "city is now aware that this is a violation of the Illinois criminal code and from this day forward it will not happen again."

At this point the treasurer stated that she had in her possession a check from Mayor Kienast for $50. The memo line on the check read "donation check for digging hole"

The check was turned over to Police Chief Justin Livingston to be placed in the evidence locker.

All current council members were present. Mayor Kienast and Attorney Diane Diestler were absent. Approximately 40 guests were present. The next meeting is Monday, Nov. 28th at 7 p.m. at the Clubhouse.