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Mr. Clemmons had questions, Chairman Severson has answers

Published: Friday, Feb. 22, 2013 5:00 a.m. CDT

(Continued from Page 2)

To The Editor,

At the February County Board meeting, Mike Clemmons, Grundy County Democratic Central Committee chairman, questioned several things that I or others have done recently. If you have questions about rumors, it is better to come to a public meeting and clear the air then keep the rumor going.

#1. Mr. Clemmons made the statement that he understood that Pete Dolan was hired to the maintenance staff without the job being posted. That is absolutely incorrect. That job was posted; anyone could check with HR or file a FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) request to verify the posting.

Here is my total involvement in Pete Dolan’s hiring. Several months ago, Pete Dolan called me and asked if an opening in maintenance came about to call him so he could apply if he missed the posting. When a recent opening came about in maintenance, I called Pete and told him about it and that he could pick up an application.

That was it. Joe Przenieslo, supervisor of maintenance, hired Pete. I did not pressure him at all. I gave him the resumes that I received, as did HR. Joe came to me after the posting was completed and told me that he had hired Pete Dolan for the following reasons  he had been here before, had an excellent work ethic, was honest and trustworthy, and, with a short staff, he did not have to spend a couple of weeks training someone.

I totally agreed with him that Pete would be a good choice.

If this is not just throwing political cowpies on the sidewalk, just to get someone to step in it, I will up the ante to Mr. Clemmons. Come to the next board meeting and ask the board to give me the authority to appoint a citizen’s panel to investigate all the political hires in Grundy County in the past 10 years. Or, as soon as the Ethics Commission is staffed, be the first person to bring this problem to them.

#2. I only went after Democrats in the recent bonus situation. Here is the real fact. There was a payroll on Nov. 29, 2012, one day before the end of the fiscal year for only three departments within the county — treasurer, county clerk, and state’s attorney.

No other department was involved in this and this was before the current state’s attorney, so all three were Democrats. If it would have been three Republicans, I would have reported that to the Finance Committee.

Since then, I had reported to the news media – because they covered the original meeting – that the circuit clerk had given bonuses in the first pay period in fiscal 2013, but was not on the Nov. 29 payroll.

The Finance Committee will get a complete report on all payroll inequities in probably a month. We are working on the sheriff’s budget now. Sheriff Callahan has been very supportive in wringing out the excesses, like line item 01-02-6159-Overtime-clerical. In the past, this has been used for bonuses.

There is not much spent the rest of the fiscal year and, in November, which is the last month of the fiscal year, it is all spent. His first budget will be the FY 2014 budget and he has told me that he will be able to justify every dollar in his budget.

I value the support I have had with Sheriff Callahan and with the state’s attorney. Sheriff Callahan wants the Merit Board as soon as possible so they will find the best people and give him a list to choose from. State’s Attorney Helland has stated that there will be no bonuses in his office. What the listed salary is, is what you get.

#3. Mr. Clemmons questioned the fact that State’s Attorney Helland had put the chairman of the Republican Central Committee of Grundy County, Mike Mattingly, and a former Will County Republican Central Committee chairman on the payroll, I believe implying that these were political hires.

I was not going to bring this up, nor the former assistant state’s attorney’s name, but I am not going to stand by and see three good people maligned as political hacks, so here is what happened as I know it.

When State’s Attorney Helland came into office, he asked former Assistant State’s Attorney Susan Bates for any information on pending litigation. She walked past without answering. She also deleted all information on her iPad, so he had no knowledge of cases that were active on the civil side.

Using other methods of research, he found that Grundy County was to argue the Veteran Assistance Commission case at the 3rd District Appellate Court in Ottawa in less than three weeks. He called the court and asked what other local attorneys were arguing cases that day, and Mike Mattingly, who lives in Morris, was.

He came to me and asked about hiring Mr. Mattingly for that case, as he was conflicted and had a lot of other things pressing. Outside attorneys are used by the states attorney’s office in these situations. I said I would alert the Finance Committee that a bill would be coming through pertaining to this case and they agreed.

It was totally above board. Mr. Rudman was hired as our civil attorney because of his 51 years of experience and, while it was posted, no one from the Democratic party even applied. All I have heard from people is that he is a good attorney and has been very good to work with.

#4. Mr. Clemmons questioned if the person hired as human resources director was related to someone in the health department. Yes, Lindsey Ferguson’s mother works in the health department. This fact was fully disclosed to the Personnel Committee during the interview and the committee did not feel that disqualified a good candidate for the job, Republicans and Democrats.

It is my opinion that this is just political payback for disclosing the fact that there was an extra payroll in November for three departments. I really couldn’t care less. I took an oath, as did every other board member, that comes with a fiduciary responsibility to the citizens of Grundy County and I will do that to the best of my ability.

I was a sergeant in the Army and an internal investigator for the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, two jobs that don’t have a large circle of friends, so I am used to it.

As President Harry Truman put it, “If you can’t take the heat, get out of the kitchen.” I have no idea to leave the kitchen for at least the next two years. I have had stress in my life, this ain’t it.

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