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Dateline Dixon: The waves of Crundwell's crime continue 2 years later

More changes could come in City Hall

Published: Wednesday, April 16, 2014 3:20 p.m. CDT • Updated: Thursday, April 17, 2014 2:15 p.m. CDT

DIXON – Two years ago today, federal agents were in City Hall collecting computers and records and arresting Comptroller Rita Crundwell.

The waves of her crime still are making their way through Dixon and through the federal agencies that seized and sold her assets and prosecuted her.

The U.S. Marshals Service has sold nearly all of Crundwell's assets and given the city about $9.2 million in restitution. But more assets remain – a share in a land partnership and some bank accounts. And marshals continues to look for more.

Crundwell, who admitted to stealing nearly $54 million from the city over two decades, still can appeal her federal prison sentence of 19 years, 7 months. That means there could be more judges and lawyers spending more time reviewing her crime and its impact on Dixon.

Click here for an interactive timeline of former Comptroller Rita Crundwell's theft, arrest, sentencing and more.

The waves continue.

In the past 2 years, the city has hired a new finance director, Paula Meyer, and a city administrator, David Nord. Both were brought in as a direct result of Crundwell's theft.

In November, Dixon residents will vote on whether to change the city's form of government from commission to city manager.

The ballot question was first recommended by a governmental task force appointed by Dixon Mayor Jim Burke, then approved by the City Council. The consideration of the best form of government for Dixon also is a result of the Crundwell saga.

In the current commission form, elected officials have the executive and policymaking authority. A change to the city manager form would give executive authority to a city manager, while the elected officials would retain policymaking authority, among other nuances.

The waves continue.

I'm now the third reporter on the Dixon beat since Crundwell's arrest.

I wasn't even living in the state when she was arrested, yet I write her name and reference her crime about three times a week.

Every time I run a spell check on a story with her name in it, I see what the system thinks I actually mean. It always suggests the same thing: Groundswell.

It's an odd coincidence. But it became more odd during an interview April 8 between Burke, Meyer, Nord and the Sauk Valley Media editorial board.

Burke said it is likely, but not certain, that he will seek re-election in 2015.

The mayor said he thinks some of the initial anger toward him and the City Council has receded, so "unless there’s some groundswell" to make him think he would lose, he said he would try to win a fifth term.

I likely was the only person in the room of 10 people who latched onto the word "groundswell." I also likely was the only one there who sees it so often as a suggested correction for the word "Crundwell."

More than anything, Burke's re-election might depend on voters' opinions of Crundwell and her crime.

The waves could continue.

Sauk Valley Media reporter Matt Mencarini covers government and happenings in Dixon. He can be reached at mmencarini@saukvalley.com or at 815-625-3600, ext. 5529. Follow him on twitter: @MattMencarini.

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