Fittest loser
Article posted: 11/23/2012 1:20 PM

Indian Trails ordered to file election reports

The Indian Trails Public Library in Wheeling.

The Indian Trails Public Library in Wheeling.

 

Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

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Committees set up by the Indian Trails Library District board, and library supporters, have been ordered to file reports about all receipts and expenditures concerning the 2011 tax increase referendum, the Illinois State Board of Elections ruled this week.

In April 2011, voters approved a 9.8 percent tax hike to pay for improvements to the Wheeling-based library.

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Rob Sherman, a Buffalo Grove activist, started protesting before the election, saying public funds were illegally being used to "rig" the election.

The library board's position was that the mailings, emails, etc. it disseminated about the question were informational, not designed to influence voters.

"Indian Trails was ordered to file amended reports within 30 days about any money received or spent related to the election, whether contributions or not, whether spent on informational reports -- disclose it," said James Tenuto, assistant executive director of the Illinois State Board of Elections, who also served as hearing officer.

The board of elections said in July it would rule only on reporting issues, not whether the board had illegally spent public funds, because that question could require prosecution by the state's attorney, Tenuto said.

The board seems more interested in "having the proper reports filed" than in imposing any fines, which the board could do, he added.

"It's been going on, and the board wanted to get this resolved," said Tenuto.

No criminal charges have been filed.

Part of Sherman's objection involved the board's hiring a consultant in 2010 for $3,200. Those public funds were later reimbursed by library supporters.

In a statement, library Director David Seleb said, "While the library district and its attorneys disagree with those findings and recommendations, we will comply with all of the State Board's directives and hope that by doing so this matter will finally come to a conclusion."

Sherman, meanwhile, said he is vindicated but, "Everybody loses. There's the $10,000 or so of public funds the library spent to rig the outcome of the election, and $100,000 in legal funds."

Sherman and several other library district residents sued to get the results of the referendum overturned. After losing in the Circuit Court of Cook County, they have asked the Illinois Supreme Court to hear an appeal.

Indian Trails has spent about $100,000 in legal fees, said Seleb, who was not with the district in 2011. So far, most of the expense has been covered by insurance, he said.

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