The Hancock-Henderson Quill, Inc.

La Harpe Council Is Questioned-Council Wants Attorney's Bills

-Water Department Saga Continues-Treasurer Quits:Again

by Deb Olson, The Quill

Jennifer Ewing has again decided that she doesn't wish to continue as an independent contractor carrying out City Treasurer's duties as she had previously agreed to do.

Ewing, after being refused admission to the Executive Session at the Monday, January 23 Council Meeting, said "I'm done."

She left the La Harpe Clubhouse and returned a short time later, while the mayor, council and City Attorney Diane Diestler were still in executive session. At that time she turned the city hall keys which had been in her possession over to Police Chief Justin Livingston.

It remains to be seen what contractual obligations she might still need to fill according to the agreement by which she agreed to serve as an independent contractor.

After the Executive Session ended and the regular meeting resumed several agenda topics were covered before Council members realized that Ewing had left the Clubhouse.

Members in the audience pointed out to them that Ewing had left all of her paperwork on the table by her vacant chair. Chief Livingston held up the key ring to show she had turned in the keys

Ewing had stated during the first part of the regular meeting that due to family health problems she had been unable to pick up city mail at the Post Office and had sent e-mails to the mayor and other council members to that effect. She was upset that no one had done as she asked.

When she picked up the mail on Monday morning she was handed a box of mail because during the past week the city's post office box had been filled to overflowing necessitating the removal of all city mail to alternate storage. She cited this as one of many frustrations that led to her resignation.

The Treasurer's report was approved by the council with the exception of the attorney's bills.

Discussion of water department issues again took up a large chunk of time in the Council meeting.

Tim Graves reported that as discussed at the last meeting he spoke with Thomas from William L. Miller regarding the needed transducers for the water plant which will be purchased for $432.

Graves supplied a list of documents requested by Megan from McClure. These included a schedule of water rates, water use records and a summary of revenues collected. He noted that some of these records appeared to be missing.

City Attorney Diane Diestler interjected where she thought the records might be.

The council also voted to reimburse Tammy Dickson $150 for a water deposit.

The subject of City Attorney Diane Diestler's bills to the council were the subject of numerous questions in both the public comments and in council discussion.

During public comments both Chad Burt and Dave Clover questioned again why the City Attorney has not presented bills.

Diestler said that her July bill was ready for review, that it covered 19 hours of work and that she would have more bills ready for submission by the end of the week.

Later in the meeting she stated she would have the bills ready in about two weeks and cited a heavy work load with both clients and other cities she represents.

City Clerk Lucretia McPeak reminded those present of the need for people to step forward and go to the county clerk's office at the courthouse in Carthage to take out papers to be a write-in candidate for the upcoming April election.

The following city council offices need to be filled in the April 4, 2017 election:

Treasurer, unexpired 2 year term;

Alderman Ward 1, 4 year term;

Alderman Ward 2, unexpired 2 year term;

Alderman Ward 2, 4 year term;

Alderman Ward 3, unexpired 2 year term;

Alderman Ward 3, 4 year term.

City Attorney Diane Diestler informed those in attendance that the three write-in candidates are Brian Covert, Troy LeMarr and Katherine Hasten.

She also stated that Dave Clover is running for the 2nd Ward seat. He has filed his paperwork in a timely manner.

She reminded attendees that if the vacancies are not filled by election they will be filled by appointment.

County Clerk Kerry Asbridge has said that one of the judges of the IL 9th Circuit would be assigned to make the appointments.

In public comments

Dave Clover handed out a folder containing an eighteen point document with accompanying documentation. In presenting his information he was cut off before finishing as he had exceeded the 5 minute time limit.

Chad Burt reiterated a question posed previously as to whether anyone would recommend hiring any highly trained employee at an hourly rate of over $100 an hour and not require more efficient billing practices. He suggested that the council "get a handle on it." In reference to the attorney's bills.

Karlene Kurtz addressed the council regarding her reaction to council members after her appointment was rejected by a 3-1 vote. She directed her remarks to Aldermen Wisslead, Kraft and Bennett and City Clerk Lucretia Mc Peak.

In other business the council:

At the end of the meeting under "other new business for discussion only" Alderman Greg Wisslead stated that Chad Burt "had asked an interesting question" in regard to billing practices and deserved an answer. This provoked a verbal sparring match between Wisslead and Diestler.

She provided reasons for delay. Wisslead questioned whether the delay would continue and Diestler continued to defend her billing practices.

Wisslead moved to adjourn but there was no second. Diestler continued as audience members asked about updating codes. Wisslead asked when she planned to submit bills. Diestler continued discussing the fact that the city needs a workable city code that is consistent with current state law. Wisslead asked again when she expected to submit bills. She stated she would present up to date bills, through December by the end of two weeks.

Diestler noted that a lot of the work she has done needed to be done because as she stated "these guys (indicating the council) haven't been doing it."

She concluded by saying, "you need a functional city council. You don't have one."

The council scheduled a special meeting for Monday, Jan. 30 at 6 p.m. at City Hall to discuss:

1. agenda item #6 under Old Business, an item relating to the council's proposal to eliminate all departments and department heads in order to streamline; and 2. agenda item #11 under Old Business, to change Treasurer's position from elected to appointed.