EDITOR’S NOTE: This is a press release from Madison County Treasurer Kurt Prenzler.
EDWARDSVILLE —Treasurer Kurt Prenzler believes a plan to make Madison County’s purchasing policy more transparent is “too little, too late.”
On the agenda for Wednesday’s County Board meeting is an ordinance amending the purchasing policy — a change Prenzler said is being made because ethics and a conflict of interest were brought up about the procedures earlier this year.
“Vendors donated tens of thousands of dollars to the County Board chairman’s re-election campaign and his campaign treasurer is also the county’s purchasing director,” Prenzler said. “In other Illinois counties this is a violation of their purchasing ordinance because it compromises the integrity of the county’s bidding process.”
In February, Prenzler contacted the county’s ethics adviser, but after doing so was told he resigned. Chairman Alan Dunstan appointed a new ethics adviser and Prenzler contacted him, but he too resigned.
“That was months ago and there is still no ethics adviser,” he said.
Prenzler said he believes Dunstan felt pressure to do something only after the problem was pointed out. He said the chairman created an advisory committee to increase transparency in purchasing.
“It’s funny how they want to be more transparent, yet meetings were held in secret,” he said. “The public wasn’t notified of any meetings. There are no agendas or minutes.
“It’s a violation of the Illinois Open Meetings Act and it’s unethical.”
Prenzler said the proposed change in the purchasing ordinance does nothing to address the problem with the purchasing director and the political donations from vendors.
He said he doesn’t want to just spotlight the problem, but recommends solutions: appoint an ethics adviser; use a purchasing system like Will and DuPage counties that puts prospective vendors on a level playing field; stop bid stringing of supplies and services; halt vendor donations to the county chairman; and replace the purchasing director.
“Transparency and good ethics go hand in hand,” he said. “Bad ethics cost taxpayers.”