State’s Attorney seeks Attorney General opinion on Biondo’s joint holding of county board, Rock Valley College seats
Online Staff Report
Winnebago County State’s Attorney Joe Bruscato has requested an opinion from the Illinois Attorney General’s office in the dispute over the compatability of Ted Biondo’s joint holding of a Winnebago County Board seat and a Rock Valley College (RVC) Board of Trustees seat.
Bruscato’s office stated the following in a release: “The Attorney General has previously authored opinions on this issue. However, those opinions were based upon a different factual scenario. Furthermore, the opinions of the Attorney General were issued prior to statutory changes to the law. The Office of the State’s Attorney believes further review from the Attorney General would be instructive in resolving this issue.
“The Office of the State’s Attorney respects and values the electoral process,” the release from Bruscato’s office continued. “Contemplating removal from office of an elected official must be determined after careful deliberation, and without haste. Every facet of the law will be taken into account before an opinion is rendered.”
Biondo is not the first person to hold a Winnebago County Board seat and RVC Board of Trustees seat at the same time. Following is an article by former staff writer Jeff Havens published in The Rock River Times in spring 2003:
State’s Attorney Logli: No action on Johnson or RVC
Chris Johnson (R-4), a member of the Winnebago County Board and Rock Valley College (RVC) Board of Trustees, could be forced to resign one of his board seats if challenged in civil court.
The challenge could have come from Winnebago County State’s Attorney Paul Logli or a citizen, according to Michael Luke, chief of the Opinions Bureau for the Illinois Attorney General’s Office.
However, Logli said he will not challenge Johnson’s holding both positions because he disagrees with the attorney general’s opinion regarding the potential conflicts of interest for the offices. Specifically, Logli said the 1994 attorney general’s opinion rests upon issues that Johnson may never face.
The Rock River Times gave Logli state documents March 20 regarding the attorney general’s opinion, which states that holding both the community college and county board positions simultaneously is a potential conflict of interest. The opinion asserts no one person can hold both positions simultaneously.
Since Logli will not act, only civil action by an individual or group could bring the issue to court for determination.
Johnson said he wasn’t prepared to say which board he would resign from, if forced to do so. Before running for county board last fall, Johnson said his research did not indicate that there would be a problem with holding both positions.
A 1994 letter (File No. 94-021) from Illinois Attorney General Roland Burris to Clinton County State’s Attorney Henry Bergman reads:
“I have your letter wherein you inquire whether one person may simultaneously serve as both a county board member and a trustee of a community college, part of the territory of which is located within the county. For the reasons hereinafter stated, it is my opinion that the offices in question are incompatible, and, therefore, one person may not simultaneously hold both offices … because of the potential conflicts in the duties of these offices. …”
The letter is the basis for the state’s current opinion about the compatibility of community college and county board positions, according to Luke.
If Johnson resigns from the RVC board, support for controversial RVC President Roland Chapdelaine could be further eroded. If Johnson resigns from the county board, there will be minimal impact because 19 of 28 county board members are Republican, and he holds no committee chairman positions.
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