Watchdog group asks Kankakee airport board official to resign over contract flap
Edgar County Watchdogs (ECW) recently investigated the Kankakee Valley Airport Authority's (KVAA) awarding of a roofing contract to one of its board members, which usually is against the law.
The group has concluded that the contract in this case was illegal and that the board member should resign.
Commissioner Rende O. Langlois, who was reappointed to his post last spring for an additional five-year term as a member of the KVAA, owns Langlois Roofing Inc. His company’s bid was selected over two others.
“Commissioner Langlois did call and explain he didn’t think he did anything wrong since the attorney said it was within the law,” ECW said last month after noting that initial efforts to communicate with commissioners were “stonewalled” and otherwise evaded.
Additionally, the airport’s attorney, Michael Donahue, explained in a letter addressed to ECW’s John Kraft that he considered selecting Langlois for the job to be appropriate because his was the lowest bid; that the board acted on his recommendation; and that, in his opinion, the action was not only appropriate, but also in compliance with the law.
“Of course, none of that matters, since an attorney cannot authorize violations of law, and if he truly thought awarding this contract to a commissioner of the airport was legal, he needs to find a different line of work,” ECW said.
ECW said the state’s Corrupt Practices Act — also known as the Public Officer Prohibited Activities Act — specifically prohibits commissioners from contracting personally with the KVAA. Citing several other state regulations, it concluded that regardless of which mandate is applied, the act of “self-awarding” was subject to rigorous query, and that the laws “authorize the Illinois Department of Transportation to demand a hearing for certain commissioners to show cause why they should not be removed from office.”
Additionally, ECW said no statute exists authorizing an airport commissioner to “be interested” in or to abstain from voting on such contracts.
Based on his inquiries, Kraft recently asked for the commissioner’s resignation in an email to Langlois, asking for any additional statements of clarification.
In the message, Kraft delineated the reasons for his request, citing the legislation (50 ILCS 105) and specifically its Sections 3 and 4 — with the latter describing possible penalties as outlined in the statute.
“KVAA commissioners cannot be interested in contracts, except under very limited circumstances in which you do not appear to qualify,” Kraft said. “I have petitioned, pursuant to Section 5 of the Airport Authorities Act, the Illinois Department of Transportation, asking them to notify the KVAA Board of Commissioners and require them to conduct a hearing to require you to show cause why you should not be removed from office.”
Stating that he, Kraft, was aware that the KVAA attorney advised KVAA to approve the contract, he said that “he (the attorney) cannot authorize violations of law, which the awarding of this contract appears to be. He should resign for incompetence.”
Kraft concluded his letter by telling Langlois that he plans to write an article about the awarding of the contract. Observing that even though the KVAA’s attorney recommended the contract’s approval, Kraft said Langlois should admit accountability in the matter.
“(Ultimately), you are the responsible party by even submitting the bid in the first place, and then continued through accepting the award of the contract and accepting payments based on that contract,” Kraft said.
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813A E 4000 S Road
Kankakee, IL - 60901