The Hancock-Henderson Quill, Inc.

La Harpe Council

Discusses Public Concerns Over Mayor's Arrest

by Michael Rodeffer - The Quill

A special public meeting called by the City Council was held Tuesday evening to address residents concerns relating to the charges filed against Mayor Ryan Kienast and to the conduct of city business while the Mayor's case is pending.

It was noted that the meeting would only last between 7-8 p.m. and then be adjourned.

Alderman Darrell Kraft was appointed chair for the evening.

City Attorney Diane Diestler handed out papers describing the state law relating to public funds, property, or credit and official misconduct.

She stated the Mayor was being charged with misconduct because he knowingly performed an act which he knows he is forbidden by law to perform while acting in his official capacity. (such as using city equipment for non city-uses)

In her handout, she notes: "If a city has a long-standing practice or policy of allowing the city's personnel and equipment to be used for non-public purposes, that practice or policy nonetheless contradicts state law and should not be followed."

The bottom line, according to the attorney's handout, city officials and employees must familiarize themselves with the law and must keep their activities within the bounds of law. No one is above the law.

If a city officer or employee violates the law, he or she must be held accountable.

It was also noted that a public officer or employee convicted of violating any provision of this section (state law 720 ILCS 5/33-3) forfeits his or her office.

When the attorney was questioned about what would happen if Mayor Kienast's seat would be vacated, Attorney Diestler said that the council would appoint an "Acting Mayor" until the next election.

When asked if Mayor Kienast would still need to attend meetings while the process is going on, she replied that all council members and the Mayor have an obligation to attend meetings.

An unrelated topic brought up by Richard Wood was "why did the council need to go outside of the city (to a Quincy firm) for its Treasurer needs."

He said that Wood Tax & Accounting on Main Street was not even contacted or asked to submit a bid for the work.

"Why not keep the job in town?" Wood questioned.

There was no response.

Council members present were Aldermen: Greg Wisslead, Darrell Kraft, and Mike Bennett, Clerk Lucretia McPeak, and Attorney Diane Diestler.

Mayor Kienast and Council member Marcia Stiller did not attend the special meeting.