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Allegation of improprieties related to upcoming election rile public

Danielle Ryan

(10/18) During the October 3 Liberty Township Board of Supervisors meeting, local resident, Cindy Arentz voiced her concern over what she called an improper release of personal information related to Supervisor Walter Barlow, including Barlow’s receipt of unemployment benefits.

According to the township policy, the proper avenue to have information released to a citizen is first and foremost to submit a right to know request. This request then goes to the Freedom of Information Officer, who researches the information in question and then decides whether it is public or private information that can be released. If deemed appropriate, the information may be released. The allegations brought forward state, in whole, that this proper avenue was not followed properly.

According to Arentz, allegedly, Supervisor candidate, Vincent Gee submitted a right to know request for personal and private information of current Supervisor Walter Barlow, whose position is up for election on November 7. Later, this request was cancelled, only to then be released and published on his website and Facebook page a few weeks later. According to Arentz, these documents never went through the proper channels and Arentz believes they were leaked in expectation of the upcoming election.

Arentz directed the allegations toward Supervisors Bob Jackson and John Bostek. "Everyone in the room should demand your resignation, this is a corrupt township. Why are you feeding an election candidate private information about another candidate, straying from the normal procedures. I hope everyone in this room demands the same answers that I’m asking for, because this is ridiculous," stated Arentz.

Gee defended himself by stating that in the beginning of the year, Supervisor Jackson offered his binders of documents to be reviewed by anyone who so wished. Gee, taking Jackson up on that offer reviewed the documents in question. Afterwards, Gee filed a Freedom of Information Request for the original documents to verify authenticity.

After the township solicitor approved his request, Gee went to the township office to review the documents. Upon entering the office, Gee noticed Walter Barlow was present. He noted that he felt threatened by Supervisor Barlow’s presence while he was reviewing the documents. When Gee asked Barlow to leave, Barlow refused, saying he had a right to be there. At this point, Gee stated that he no longer needed the documents and canceled his Freedom of Interest Request.

Other residents joined Arentz in voicing concerns and asking questions, to which no answers were given. One resident said everyone was just looking for feedback, and it’s never given. An air of frustration has been felt during these meetings over the past year, citizens becoming further angered by the lack of communication coming from the Supervisors. It was simply stated by Jackson that he would be available after the meeting, as taking the time to answer everything during the meeting would take hours. Residents see this as an unwillingness to answer questions on the record, as they would be more than willing to spend hours at the meetings, as long as answers were being given. The problem is that answers are not being given at all.

During the Supervisor’s comments, Jackson also noted that the procedures for reviewing payroll, finances etc. have been tightened down upon. Anything to do with payroll is looked over in detail, taking a few hours to complete. Barlow stated that he will no longer take his turn in signing any paychecks until everything is straightened out and all questions have been answered. Barlow will sign checks again as soon as there is a separation of duties from secretary and treasurer, which was a suggestion given by Karen Frey in the conclusions of her financial investigative report.

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