CLEVELAND -- As voters in this small town go to the polls April 9 to choose a mayor, they may be thinking of finances, uncashed trustee checks and full houses at board meetings, complete with police standing by.
Trustee Richard Waterman and treasurer Richard Lindell are competing for the right to succeed incumbent Jim White, who decided not to seek re-election.
Mr. Waterman said financial transparency is a big issue. He said the board hasn't seen the village checkbooks for four years.
He said trustees should not have to file a request under the Freedom of Information Act in order to see the checkbooks -- it should be automatic. He said Freedom of Information Act requests to the treasurer to see the checkbooks have been unsuccessful.
"I'm not saying there's anything wrong with village funds, but why is he so secretive about them?" he said.
Mr. Lindell said he's given regular financial reports to the board. According to him, Trustee Sherri Krogman is the chief person asking to see the village's checkbook and said she shows him "absolutely no respect at all," just to make "a big splash."
"I can't meet with her by myself; it's impossible. She's done so many mean things to me. I work at John Deere -- she knows I make a lot more money than the little village of Cleveland makes in three years," he said.
He added that asking for the checkbook is akin to accusing him of doing something wrong.
He said the town will know more after he responds at a meeting tonight (April 4) to a recent Dispatch editorial saying he should turn over the checkbook to village officials who want to see it.
Trustee pay has also been an issue, with some trustees going unpaid because they haven't filled out W-4 forms annually, which Mr. Lindell said are required by the Internal Revenue Service each year. According to Mr. Lindell, the government told him they would fine the town if they didn't check the forms each year.
A spokesman for the IRS said a certified public accountant or tax attorney would be better able to answer those questions.
The unpaid trustees are owed a total of $2,000, and the money has been turned over to the Illinois treasurer's office, Mr. Lindell said. Trustees have been instructed how to collect it, according to Mr. Lindell, although he said they apparently haven't done so because the money is outstanding.
Mr. Waterman said it's wrong to turn over checks to the state as unclaimed money. He and the other trustees continue to question having to submit W-4 forms annually.
"I bet you don't know anybody anywhere in the United States that fills one out every year," he said.
Mr. Lindell said instead of paying police, the village should be taking care of services such as hazard mitigation. He said the town had a plan, but it's fallen by the wayside and it would be wrong to call police or the Barstow fire department in the event of a storm or flood.
"We actually have no plan, it's just call the police and hope somebody comes in and saves the day," he said. "I think I can turn this thing around, but (Trustee Krogman) has to come to meetings with a different objective."
Mr. Waterman said he would have to research the status of the town's hazard mitigation plan before commenting.
Mr. Lindell cites his training in group problem solving at Deere as one of his qualifications for the job of running Cleveland.
Today is Thursday, Dec. 12, the 346th day of 2013. There are 19 days left in the year. 1863 -- 150 years ago: Two boys who haul coal from Coal Valley to Davenport were arrested yesterday for running their teams through the city street at a furious rate. 1888 -- 125 years ago: E.H. Barker dislocated his left wrist and suffered a compound fracture of the right wrist when he fell from the roof of his icehouse. 1913 -- 100 years ago: Lou Harris was elected county superintendent of schools to fill the unexpired term of the late S.J. Ferguson. 1938 -- 75 years ago: The U.S. Supreme Court ruled today that a state must give equality in educational privileges to white and Negro law students. 1963 -- 50 years ago: About 300 employees of the Augustana Book Concern, staff members of the Board of Publication of the Lutheran Church in America, as well as friends of the community and out-of-town guests honored Dr. Birger Swenson at the annual Christmas dinner of the Augustana Book Concern last night in Westerlin Hall on the Augustana College campus. 1988 -- 25 years ago: The Christmas shopping season began early this year and continues to bring out shoppers in record numbers, according to Quad-Cities retailers interviewed today.