Anonymous website posts St. Clair County documents 'not approved' for public viewing

News-DemocratSeptember 3, 2013 

An anonymous website is hosting numerous documents related to the St. Clair County Board, including minutes from a closed session discussing drug testing of county employees.

The website countyboardinfo.com is publishing documents not available on the county's official website. For example, the site published the packet of documents given to County Board members prior to board meetings along with minutes from meetings of the full board and committee meetings.

The website is not registered under a public name and attempts to discover the website's owners and webmaster were unsuccessful. The site states it is not affiliated with nor approved by the St. Clair County Board or government.

The unknown publisher hopes the website enhances "government transparency and inform the residents of St. Clair County about what their representatives are doing."

St. Clair County Board Chairman Mark Kern said in a statement that county staff continually updates the county's website "with information which we believe the public seeks" since he took office in 2004. The county's website includes information on public meetings, budgets, audits and lobbying along with some information on expenses, compensation and taxes, but not executive sessions.

"As to the County Board packet, those items are posted on the county website," Kern states. "We encourage the public, if they haven't already, to explore the great variety of information posted."

The county has published on its website board packets from its monthly meetings up until June. The board packet from the meeting on Aug. 26 meeting has not yet been published on the county's website.

On the anonymous website, the published documents include minutes detailing an executive session discussion on July 29 between board members and State's Attorney Brendan Kelly about drug testing employees.

The minutes briefly describe the "conditions" under which the county can test employees for illegal drug use. There is also the need to adopt a new personnel code and other related legislation, according to the closed session minutes.

The documents also include minutes detailing the full board meeting on July 29. The minutes have not yet been approved for release to the public.

The closed session discussion stems from a request from county officials for Kelly to give his opinion about the legal repercussions following the county adopting a more stringent drug policy. The issue arose in the wake of a judicial drug scandal at the St. Clair County Courthouse.

Former St. Clair County Circuit Judge Michael Cook faces federal drug and firearm charges and fellow Judge Joseph Christ died of a cocaine overdose in March. Cook pleaded not guilty.

Board members were particularly concerned about staff involved in law enforcement and those with access to drugs and cash, according to the minutes. The company hired by the county to perform the tests recommends 25 percent of employees be tested each year, the minutes state.

Contact reporter Daniel Kelley at dkelley@bnd.com or 618-239-2501.

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