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Director backs off statements

No money is owed, no ‘illegal issues,’ Blatti says

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DIXON – The head of a Dixon-based transit agency is backing off a reference to “illegal issues” in the agency’s past, calling it “incorrect speculation.”

In emails Wednesday, Jaime Blatti, executive director of the Lee-Ogle Transportation System, said the state and federal governments have “never in the history of LOTS had any concerns with the program.”

She is also backing off her assertion from earlier in the week that Rock River Center, which serves seniors in Ogle County, owes her agency money. LOTS, which provides public transportation, is almost entirely funded by federal grants that pass through state government.

Late last week, Lee County released unapproved minutes from last month’s board meeting. In those minutes, Blatti is reported to have said “there were illegal issues that happened in 2011” involving a grant the agency received.

On Tuesday, Sauk Valley Media submitted a public records request for anything related to the “illegal issues” and money owed by Rock River Center.

A day later, Blatti, who began her job last year, responded by saying her agency had no records to produce because there were no such issues.

In her response, she stated the minutes were unofficial and had yet to be approved by the board. They were drafted by board member Stacey Sibley, who couldn’t be reached for comment Wednesday.

On Monday, Blatti said Rock River Center owed LOTS money, but she said that the agency didn’t know how much and that it wasn’t pursuing the money in any case.

The minutes refer to an invoice in which Rock River Center owes money.

“In reality, Rock River Center still owes LOTS much more money than what is invoiced on their invoice,” the minutes state.

Apparently, the invoice came from Rock River Center. In a later request, Sauk Valley Media asked for that invoice.

In an email Wednesday, Blatti wrote, “No money is owed to LOTS.”

Ann Haas, Rock River Center’s executive director, said earlier this week she knew of no money her agency owed LOTS.

Blatti didn’t return three calls for comment.

On Tuesday, County Board members praised Blatti, saying she turned around the agency.

In the interview Monday, Blatti blamed the agency’s problems on her predecessor, Roxanne Bauer, who left in 2010.

County Board members have said before that the agency suffered under the management of the Lee County Council on Aging, which runs the Dixon senior center. As a result, the county took direct control in 2011.



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