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Accountability needed

Greenwood’s troubles show why it’s important to follow the rules


Greenwood Township has become a case study in why units of government need to follow the rules, and have consequences when officials ignore policies or the law.

At their meeting this week, for example, the town board approved attorneys’ fees of more than $5,000, for calls, in part, made by employees or other township officials who had no authority to make them. It’s difficult to believe that those employees were unaware of the rules regarding calls to the township’s attorneys, since the issue has come up before.

Yet, as in the past, employees and officials faced no consequence for failing to abide by the township’s own policies or operating guidelines.

It’s a problem that became epidemic in the township in the past few years. As we’ve reported during that time, township officials regularly disregarded their own policies, and it’s raised concerns from residents and left the township hip deep in legal bills and future legal liability.

Perhaps most unsettling to residents was the town board’s flouting of the rules when it came to the township’s fire department. When the board accepted Fire Chief David Fazio’s decision to dismiss experienced department officers who had raised concerns about his decisions, it appears the board put the township on the wrong side of the law. As we reported last week, the Commissioner of the Department of Labor and Industry has filed a legal action against the township, alleging that the township violated OSHA rules by firing department captain Jeff Maus for raising safety concerns.

Other litigation stemming from the incident is pending, so the costs of this blunder are only going to rise.

That the town board apparently discussed Fazio’s desire to fire the department’s experienced leadership in a closed meeting, ostensibly closed for a performance review of Fazio, raises still more questions, such as a likelihood that the board violated the state’s Open Meeting Law.

And with the March 2016 elections, and possible change in leadership looming, township employees and officials scurried to draft three-year contracts for fire department officers, despite department bylaws that clearly specify such positions are subject to annual election by department members. The contracts, as such, may not even be legal and could be the subject of additional future litigation.

Thanks to the recent election, there is some push to improve accountability in the township. On Tuesday, the board voted 3-2 to hire an auditor to examine concerns over abuses in the handling of the paid on-call system, which has had little oversight for the past several years. They also clarified the township’s policy regarding contacting attorneys. That’s progress, but more needs to be done.

Two of the five supervisors, John Bassing and Carmen DeLuca, are pushing to refer former clerk Ellen Trancheff’s refusal to hand over records to the new clerk to the county attorney, for possible charges. But a three-member majority is currently stalling such a request, and that’s unfortunate.

As township officials and residents learned this week, Trancheff had, in effect, stopped doing significant and important parts of her job back in September of last year, leaving it to township treasurer Delores Clark to pick up the slack.

But Trancheff understood that breaking the rules, or failing to do her job, held no consequence in Greenwood Township. It’s time for that to change.

A township can’t serve its residents when officials and employees violate laws and their own policies on a regular basis. That’s not governance— it’s chaos. And given the obvious self-dealing that went on for far too long, it’s more than chaotic—it’s corrupt. Until the town board majority is willing to face up to the problem and begin to follow the rules by which virtually every other local unit of government in our area abides as a matter of course, the anger and division in Greenwood isn’t going to go away. While we’re encouraged by tentative steps forward in recent weeks, there’s still a long way to go to get this troubled township operating the way it should.


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Let's go back in time. The hiring of the Planning Director, Driveway to Nowhere, hiring committee members, posting meeting notices, closed meetings, Clerk's raise,assessing debacle, contracts for employees, election law violations, transfer of Clerk's office, misuse of public funds paying Paid on Call, claims procedure, paying 911 coordinator an absurd amount and the list goes on. What has been done within the rules(hard to find) and when will we be able to get the Town Board to take action?

Thursday, May 12, 2016
Shaking my heqd..

The former clerk/assessor was the number one choice for the planning and zoning commission. The board was unaware (again) of the rules. Each committee can only have one supervisor or employee on it, and both committees already have one. One would think that after 31 years as the clerk, at least she should have been aware of that rule. Sometimes I think I live on another planet, without any common sense.

Friday, May 13, 2016

this former clerk/assessor has broken so many rules just why is she still employed in the township?? and in charge of paying the fire department with no checks and balances? who is watching what she is doing? wasn't is malfeasance of office when she stopped doing her clerk duties in like august of last year?? again, why is she still employed?

she needs to go!!!! wake up town board and do something.

yes ILK, action is needed now.

Friday, May 13, 2016

Every issue of the Timberjay brings new revelations of corruption in Greenwood Township. It's breathtaking to read about the arrogance and audacity of elected officials and appointed personnel.

Particularly shocking is that the chairman and vice-chairman of the town board recommended that the former clerk be appointed to the planning commission. Yes, the same former clerk who violated the laws and policies of the township and seems to be at the center of the chaos. Aren't the chairman and vice-chairman held to any standards? It's beyond arrogance and poor judgment to inflict such a person on the township in any capacity.

As for the many woes of the fire department, I can only wonder what the pension situation is: how it is funded, exactly what the benefits and eligibility are, and where the actuarial tables are to show it is fully funded.

One more thing regarding the fire department. If improper payments have been made to fire and EMT personnel, why can't restitution be made to taxpayers? Whenever a private employer overpays an employee, restitution is required; likewise, when a bank deposits money in an account by mistake, payback is required. Why, then, are taxpayers denied money that is rightfully theirs? Especially when most of the payments seem to involve personnel who knew they were not entitled to the extra pay.

Attorneys' fees of over $5,000 for mostly phone calls and emails in March? That amount represents hours and hours of phone calls and emails. Do the attorneys bill in 15-minute increments? And what is the exact rate? It is mind blowing that unauthorized people made the calls for seemingly frivolous reasons. The security of planning and zoning files in danger of what? Worringer stated he was out of line in making an unauthorized call March 23. What a relief that he volunteered to take responsibility. I expect he means he will pay attorney fees for making a call so unimportant that he doesn't remember why he made it.

A basic requirement in dealing with any attorney is to document the subject and exact time involved and compare it to the billing. If there is a discrepancy, it must be dealt with immediately.

All in all, a sorry state of affairs in Greenwood Township. We property owners deserve honest and accountable representation.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016
Fritz The Frugal One

How much has the change in fire department officers cost the township? I bet thousands in legal fees! How much more will have to be shelled out? Why has this happened? Where there's smoke, there's fire.

Monday, May 23, 2016
Fritz The Frugal One

When Dave Fazio eliminated officer positions in the fire department and put in his cronies, he said it was to reduce costs. With the officer contracts, the costs have more than exceeded the previous salaries of the eliminated positions. How does that work? I thought this guy was a math teacher. Must be "new math" again!

Wednesday, May 25, 2016