About a year ago, I wrote a letter to the editor revealing what I had learned by examining the bank statements of Coloma Township. I wrote that there were bank balances far short of what the public was being told they were, with apparent knowledge of the trustees.
At that time, some of the bank statements were not available because they were with the new accounting firm. In May, I was able to examine the rest of the statements. Once again, I found a bank balance in the general assistance account tens of thousands of dollars short of what had been reported to the public in the yearly financial statement.
However, at the end of Supervisor Blanton’s first term (Burke was still in charge for a couple months of his first term), the ending balance in the suspect general assistance account compared favorably with what was reported to the public in the yearly financial statement. This is good news.
Further, a professional financial statement for fiscal year 2014-15, Blanton’s first full year, was issued. While not an audit, Blanton has stated that he hopes this is the beginning of being able to work backwards to the statutorily mandated audit of Burke’s last year and the “missing” $146,124.
Although I wouldn’t hold my breath for ever finding out what happened to the money, Blanton is to be congratulated for righting a listing ship.
Time moves on, and so must I. But the work never stops. To paraphrase the late state treasurer, Judy Topinka, “You can’t just rubber stamp something because someone says it’s OK. You’ve got to look.”
In my many years of taxpayer advocacy, I’ve found precious few locally elected officials willing to “look,” willing to question, willing to speak out.
If they won’t, then the public must. Good luck.
Note to readers: Pennie von Bergen Wessels is a former resident of Rock Falls.