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'They sit you down like you're a criminal' : News : Oswego Ledger-Sentinel : Hometown Newspaper for Oswego and Montgomery, Illinois
'They sit you down like you're a criminal'
Former official questions per diem investigation; presents county with check

by Matt Schury


Former Kendall County Board Nancy Martin member told the County Board's Per Diem Ad Hoc Committee last week she has already written a check for meetings that she supposedly took per diem payments for in error.

The 78-year-old held two separate stints on the county board and has publicly disagreed with the way State's Attorney has conducted an investigation into how board members collect compensation.

Martin recounted the two times she had been interviewed by the Sherriff Office for Weis' investigation.

"They sit you down like you're a criminal to be honest with you," Martin said. "They're going to tell you this is being recorded and you're also being photographed ... and you will waive your rights to what you're saying."

Martin is the only board member to talk publicly about the investigation. In the past she has questioned Weis about the length of the investigation.

She said that she had been given a chance to look at what she claimed was part of the criminal investigation, so she couldn't understand how Weis told the committee earlier that no board members have yet seen what they owe following the completion of a forensic audit.

"I thought it was a joke because when you feel you've done everything right and someone comes up to you and says you've done something wrong, you're immediately on the defensive," she said.

During the first interview, Martin recalled that detectives wouldn't show her evidence except to say that she wasn't allowed to claim a per diem for attending union negotiations.

"I said, 'Who said? Did Eric (Weis) make that determination?'" Martin said.

She added that the board has had a representative for union negotiations since at least the 1990s and she felt a per diem was fair for the time and effort put in.

"I'll fight that, I think, that was totally entitled," Martin said.

The issue of collecting per diems for union negotiations and labor and grievance meetings is one of 16 Weis brought before the committee last week.

Weis told the committee earlier in the meeting that board members are required to attend the union negotiations but they are not open to the public. He added that there wasn't always a record of attendance kept by the county in the past.

Martin told the board the interviews were quite lengthy as she explained herself.

"The first time I was there close to two hours and you want to know why, because I'm Nancy Martin and anyone who knows me knows I expound on how I feel about things," she said.

The second interview involved discussing three specific meetings she charged per diems for that might not have been allowed. The first issue dealt with her collecting payment for two meetings on the same day in 2009.

"He asks you, 'Did you do this to defraud the county?' Martin recalled. "And I said no. I've probably done more for the county than I could have ever defrauded you for."

Another issue dealt with Martin attending a meeting that she said she had been told was never held or there wasn't any evidence it had been held.

Martin said she always turned in her vouchers when they were due on the third Thursday of each month.

"Well, was I trying to defraud the county? I don't think so. But I did put that meeting down," Martin said.

The third issue had to do with a meeting that was rescheduled that she collected a per diem for.

"To make a long story, I agreed that I probably owed the county $255 for three meetings," she said. "I wrote the check out, I gave it to (County Treasurer) Jill Ferko."

Martin says that Ferko told her she couldn't accept the check yet because she didn't know what the results of the investigation were.

"I don't care what anybody decides because they showed me where I owed three meetings so I paid them," she said, adding that she refused to pay for union negotiations or grievance committee meetings she attended, which she said were under Weis' "yellow category." (See related story)

Martin ended her remarks suggesting the committee not be too rash in their judgment.

"I know you're in a tough situation," Martin said. "How do you know what the person had in mind? How do you know that this wasn't this or that wasn't that?"

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