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  • Kent Casson

Bell upset with economic interests form

Streets Commissioner Joseph Bell addresses the Chenoa council Tuesday evening.

Another member of the Chenoa City Council has announced plans to resign.

Streets Commissioner Joseph Bell expressed disappointment with the Statement of Economic Interests form required by the state through the Illinois Governmental Ethics Act. Several amendments have been made to the law for 2022 with a new form and instructions.

Although Bell has not officially submitted a written resignation, he said he was “conditionally resigning” which means if something is overturned with the law or something changes, he may change his mind. He has until May 1 to officially decide as that is the deadline for the new form.

“I’m not going to fill it out because I don’t agree with it,” Bell told Chenoa News following Tuesday’s City Council meeting. “I have not filled out any forms, I have not had anything notarized or signed. We’ll see what happens.”

Bell considers the form, required for elected officials and others working with taxpayer money, government overreach.

“I don’t believe it’s right that anybody should know personal information no matter your capacity,” Bell continued.

He said it is nobody's business in town what he or his wife makes.

"I don't want to know where you bank and you shouldn't need to know where I bank. It's personal," Bell said when interviewed after the meeting.

Also during Tuesday’s regular meeting of the Chenoa City Council, Bell claimed former commissioner Lee Reinhart who resigned his seat earlier in the year, did not technically resign.

“I asked him if he had submitted anything by writing and have it notarized and signed and he said he had not.”

According to Bell, Reinhart only let the council know through a verbal resignation during a previous council meeting.

This raises the question as to whether Bell’s father and Reinhart’s replacement, Jay Bell, is actually a commissioner. The elder Bell was not in attendance at the meeting as Joseph said his father was going to resign anyway because of the Statement of Economic Interests form.

“That position was filled incorrectly,” said Bell.

Mayor Chris Wilder had no comment at this time about the issue raised surrounding Reinhart’s resignation.

Also at Tuesday’s meeting, the council appointed a new Zoning Board member to replace a former member. Bobbi Ludwig was chosen for the position. She is a soon-to-be business owner who expressed interest.

“I think she’ll be a good fit,” stated Mayor Wilder.

Members of the public asked the council about the status of new playground equipment at the city park during the public comment portion of the meeting. Parks Commissioner Chad Daiker said they have not heard anything since the last walk-through. Wilder noted equipment has been ordered and is on its way.

“I think they’re kind of waiting on things to get here and see what happens,” Wilder said.

Daiker noted drainage will be needed under the playground no matter where they put it. Another question was raised about the installation of a batting cage for an Eagle Scout project.

“There’s always a possibility on the east side of a north-south batting cage,” Daiker added.

With a baseball tournament planned for April, some are wondering when the park restroom project will be complete. Although no concrete answer was given, Wilder is hoping work is done by the end of April.

“We need to hang the partitions for the stalls.”

The council entered a closed session after the open meeting, although no action was taken.

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