Urbana official arrested for DUI in crash

Urbana official arrested for DUI in crash

Mayor's chief of staff allegedly left scene of accident

URBANA — Police are awaiting the results of chemical testing after a high-ranking city official this week was arrested for alleged drunken driving and leaving the scene of an accident following a crash near his home.

Mike Monson, 55, was taken to jail after being involved in an accident at 8:22 p.m. Tuesday. He is the chief of staff to Urbana Mayor Laurel Prussing, a position he has held for about 3-1/2 years.

According to an Urbana police report, the other driver was ticketed for making an improper turn and hitting Monson's vehicle.

Monson, however, allegedly left his vehicle in the road after the accident and returned to his home around the corner, according to the police report. Officers later found him at home and arrested him about 50 minutes after the accident.

According to the police report, Monson admitted to consuming alcohol before driving and leaving the scene of the accident. He submitted to chemical testing, and State's Attorney Julia Rietz said on Thursday that authorities are awaiting the results of that test before filing charges.

Monson was arrested on preliminary allegations of drunken driving, leaving the scene of an accident and operating an uninsured motor vehicle.

Monson declined comment on Thursday afternoon and directed questions to his attorney, who could not be reached.

Prussing said on Thursday that she has considered no repercussions as far as his employment with the city.

"He was on his own time," Prussing said. "He wasn't driving a city car."

She also said the accident is a private matter.

"It's an unfortunate issue, but people make mistakes," she said.

Monson was hired as Prussing's chief of staff in August 2009. He succeeded a chief administrative officer who was put on administrative leave in 2007 and not invited to return to city employment at the end of that fiscal year.

Before his appointment as chief of staff, Monson worked as a news reporter for The News-Gazette.

The city budgeted $74,260 for Monson's position this fiscal year. His primary duties include assisting Prussing in oversight and administration of city government, acting as a principal liaison between constituents and interest groups, and representing the city to local groups when the mayor is unavailable.

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Marty wrote on March 08, 2013 at 8:03 am

Wonder if he will get similar punihment to the average citizen?

cretis16 wrote on March 08, 2013 at 9:03 am

Prussing said on Thursday that she has considered no repercussions as far as his employment with the city.

"He was on his own time," Prussing said. "He wasn't driving a city car."

Might as well do an armed robbery...what the heck?

Callous giverment officials are not above the law and there are ( believe it or not) consequences to actions.

 

Gary S wrote on March 08, 2013 at 9:03 am

I don't think the Mayor's attitude would be the same if it was an off duty police or fireman. She would see that he's suspended until termination.

Sid Saltfork wrote on March 08, 2013 at 9:03 am

Well, he admitted to it at least.  If he had 50 minutes before law enforcement showed up at his door; he could have met them with a half empty can of beer in his hand with empty cans in the trash can.  "I was so shook up after the incident that I made the mistake of coming home, and having some drinks.  I did drink alcohol; but it was after the accident." 

He was on his own time at the time of the accident, and DUI.  Even public employees make mistakes; and have a life after work.  His job is not 24/7.  People who live in glass houses should not throw rocks.

mcdigsk2 wrote on March 08, 2013 at 9:03 am

The outcome of the forthcoming court proceedings will be interesting in this case.  4 years ago, with no prior arrests, I was convicted of DUI and not granted court supervision (I didn't even have an accident).  One mistake and I was not forgiven, instead my personal record is tarnished...If only I was a cop or local official :/    I wouldn't even dream of drink driving again...just the thought of harming someone petrifies me.  I'm almost certain this guy will get court supervision thanks to Rietz and Co.

Sid Saltfork wrote on March 08, 2013 at 11:03 am

Justice in America depends so many times on how much money the defendent has to pay for an attorney.  The more money someone can pay gets a better attorney.  The better attorneys have the connections.  People without money get a public defender.  That is not good.  The working guy who gets a DUI gets one brand of justice while the wealthier guy gets another brand of justice.  It is unfair; but that is the reality of it.  Champaign County like every other county has had it's share of judges, professors, bankers, and politicians who were busted for a DUI.  There are not many angels out there who have not driven while being over the line due to drinking.  Most of them have not been caught yet; but they will some night.  The DUI Club has a large membership of us.  Most of us learn never to do it again.  The embarrassment, and the shame are worse than the sentence, and the financial cost.  "Hi, my name is Sid" at a meeting is a good start on changing bad habits.

sweet caroline wrote on March 08, 2013 at 11:03 am

I bet he will get off with probation and no job consequences.  Where I work, we are held accountable for our actions outside of work hours.  A serious incident like this one would be reason for my termination because it would tarnish the reputation of my company.  Yes, of course, everyone makes mistakes.  But not all mistakes can or should go without repercussion.  At the very least, it will be interesting to see how this latest Prussing-era controversy plays out.

Fedupwithstatereps wrote on March 08, 2013 at 11:03 am

On his own time or not, it still reflects poorly on him, especially because he's Chief of Staff for the Mayor of Urbana!  He should know better and then to leave the scene like it was no big deal?  Not smart. 

cretis16 wrote on March 08, 2013 at 3:03 pm

I got to agree about the comments on two kinds of justice. This situation reeks of the old Soviet Union..." I GOT CONNECTIONS". Monson will get the usual, gee it will never happen again speech, I learned my lesson...a small fine and off ya go to serving the people again. My employer is the same as commentors,, one of our upper management individuals received a DUI, and was let go the next week. It's a little different set of rules if you are government employees.

Orbiter wrote on March 08, 2013 at 12:03 pm

Admitting to consuming alcohol before driving is not the same as driving under the influence. Come on, people, be sensible.  As to the issue of leaving the scene, I'm not sure that walking around the corner to one's home is really leaving the scene by very much.  How is that different than walking to a farmhouse to call the police, out in the country?  I think the more serious issue is the uninsured vehicle.  But in any of these cases, he's not been found guilty of anything yet, and it's premature to be demanding his employment be terminated.  And really, I don't think you should get fired for something like this anyway.  Let's all be a bit more tolerant, folks.

Danno wrote on March 08, 2013 at 12:03 pm

'As to the issue of leaving the scene, I'm not sure that walking around the corner to one's home is really leaving the scene by very much.'

Huh? So, Orbiter, just how much is 'much.' It's very different than 'walking to a farmhouse.' Cellphones...etc. Firing him? Tell that to a person that lost their CDL/livelyhood for similar.

Sid Saltfork wrote on March 08, 2013 at 1:03 pm

Orbiter;  Your right about the "uninsured vehicle" charge.  I do not know the employment policies of the City of Urbana; but I do know the State of Illinois policies.  State employees must annually verify auto insurance including the amount of liability insurance covering their private vehicles.  If a state employee were involved in an accident without insurance, it could be grounds for termination even if the accident occurred after work hours.  The vast majority of state employees are required to use their private vehicle for required employment travel.  Rarely are they allowed to use a state vehicle.  Most would prefer not to use a state vehicle though.  Driving the speed limit on I-57 in a state vehicle results in a funeral procession of drivers behind, and the bird being flipped at the state employee when they pass.  Stopping for lunch, or a rest room break many times results in someone hollering loudly about their tax money being wasted. 

Give the man his day in court before passing judgement on him.  After all; U.S. presidents, vice-presidents, and congress members have racked up D.U.I.s and retained office, or were elected to office.  One vice-president racked up several D.U.I.s, and a shotgun accident.

KennyG wrote on March 08, 2013 at 12:03 pm

Clearly this is a conspiracy, a set up by the Rex Bradfield campaign in order to bring down the Prussing administration prior to the upcoming mayorial elections.  Truth!

Sid Saltfork wrote on March 08, 2013 at 1:03 pm

Was Les Stratton, or Todd Satterwaite driving the other car that caused the accident???  :)

seanm83 wrote on March 08, 2013 at 1:03 pm

Maybe the car was a drone...got to use them before the state assembly bans them.  I will concede that Les was probably the remote operator.

mstrom wrote on March 08, 2013 at 2:03 pm
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People tend to jump to a lot of conclusions about things based on initial news reports.  A friend of mine was ticketed for insurance, because she had forgot to put her insurance card in the car and could not provide evidence of having insurance, so who knows.  Another thing, I keep seeing in many comments on various stories is that court supervision on a DUI is somehow special treatment or got off easy.  My understanding is that 66% of first time offenders get court supervision on a first offense provided certain criteria are in play, such as clean driving and arrest record, a BAC lower than 0.18 or so--preferably lower than 0.16, and that no one was injured or killed.  Supervision/Conditional Discharge in a DUI case is a very serious matter.  You are most often required to comply with the same sentencing requirements--many hours community service, hefty fine and court cost, alcohol education--also this can impact your car insurance, ability to get life insurance etc.--this is all separate from the Secretary of State's mandatory penalty of 6 months to 1 year summary driving suspension that happens that you get even if you get supervision.  So even if you get supervision it is very serious and can have very negative impacts--including losing your job and costs totaling as much as $10,000. Bottom line--don't drink and drive. All this bad stuff can happen to you and you can injure or kill someone.  If you have an alcohol problem seek help before something bad happens.  By all accounts Mr. Monson is a good public servant--let's hope this is a learning experience for him.

mcdigsk2 wrote on March 08, 2013 at 3:03 pm

mstrom - I believe that you are missing the point regarding how Court Supervison is a far more favorable outcome than a conviction.  Court supervision is not a "conviction" on your record. So, if you are ever asked on a job application if you have been convicted of a crime you can say that you have not. In contrast, an actual DUI conviction not only gets reported to your insurance company, but also results in the revocation of your driver's license for a minimum of one year.   I think what people have been saying in the comments that you refer to above, is that given recent precedent in Champaign County it is highly anticipated that this offender given his status will receive Court Supervison.   Statistics show that this lighter treatment is not observed in similar 1st time offenders who are not connected.  The State of Ilinois in general is fair in this regard, but Champaign Prosecution does it's own thing unfortunately.

mstrom wrote on March 08, 2013 at 3:03 pm
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I don't think it is an all or none question on the supervision/conditional discharge vs conviction.  A conviction is very serious, the other is a close second. As for the assertion of special treatment, I have worked on the treatment side of these cases for years and I just don't see it.  There are many factors that go into the decision including BAC, past driving and criminal history, and willingness to seek treatment etc.  Truth is Champaign and DuPage Counties are the two worst Counties in the state to get a DUI in.  More important than this is that many people have problems with alcohol and if they fail to seek help bad things will happen--see your clergy, doctor, other before it is too late.

bc wrote on March 09, 2013 at 9:03 am

All you critics out there.  Never say never.  Any one of us could be caught in some situation we never thought would happen.  Hopefully we never will.  It just proves that "officials" put their pants on the same way the rest of us do and are subject to the same weaknesses and same mistakes we all are.  If I were a betting person, I would bet a very hard, embarrassing, expensive lesson has been learned.  And it was a lesson in which no one was injured or killed.  I have yet to meet that perfect person. Have you?

SaintClarence27 wrote on March 10, 2013 at 1:03 pm

I'm okay with saying never on this one.

johnny wrote on March 10, 2013 at 5:03 am

Four more years!  Four more years!

Bulldogmojo wrote on March 11, 2013 at 12:03 pm

The Secretary of State is going to give this guy a lesson in personal and financial inconvenience he is not soon to forget. There is a big difference between a suspended license and a revoked license.

Sid Saltfork wrote on March 11, 2013 at 1:03 pm

Well; Urbana has plenty of bicycle lanes, and a good MTD system.

Marti Wilkinson wrote on March 12, 2013 at 3:03 pm

Many years ago my father and a co-worker of his went to bat for someone who had gotten fired for a DUI. They made the case that if a worker is capable of doing a job that doesn't involve driving, then the company has a responsibilty to re-assign the person before firing. As a result the individual was able to draw unemployment. My father is now retired from the Illinois Department of Labor.


When I worked for the cable company I knew a couple of people who got DUI's, and the company worked with both individuals so they could remain employed. One person was moved to a desk job that didn't require any driving, and the other person was able to get his duties modified to fit what the court systems required.

I was required to have both a drivers license and full insurance coverage on my vehicle. I had to submit copies of my policy to HR on an annual basis. Since I did drive company vehicles this was to protect my employer from liability.

In the case of officers who get busted for DUI's, there is that question of trusting the enforcement of laws to people who break them. Like it or not, law enforcement is held to a higher standard. In the case of a former Champaign Police Detective, she was driving a city issued vehicle when she got arrested for the DUI that resulted in her eventual resignation. Keeping her on the payroll would have been a lawsuit risk, and a public safety risk.

In regards to the current story, it comes down to what is the HR policy in the city of Urbana. If Mr. Monson was driving his personal vehicle on his own time, then the city is unlikely to be liable for his actions. Plus, if he can perform his duties on a suspended/revoked license, then is it fair to fire him. Generally speaking, it's considered to be more reasonable to give a person an opportunity to be evaluated for alcohol and substance abuse, and to offer treatment instead of termination.
 

Bulldogmojo wrote on March 14, 2013 at 1:03 pm

Agreed he should be evaluated for alcohol treatment and as such have a chance to redeem himself for it. After all it wasn't like this public official's drunk driving and leaving the scene resulted in the drowning of a woman in Chappaquiddick and lost his public office for it. Oh umm never mind.

 

Sid Saltfork wrote on March 14, 2013 at 2:03 pm

Dick Cheney's DUIs did not prevent him from obtaining public office.  George W. Bush's DUI, and admitted cocaine use did not prevent him from becoming president.  Bill Clinton's admitted marijuana smoking did not prevent him from becoming president.... oh, he did not inhale though. 

The local guy made a mistake.  He will pay for his mistake.  Part of the payment is the news article, and all of the comments.  Imagine if all of the people who get DUIs would receive such noteriety in the local news with all of the comments.  Anytime that one has more than a couple of drinks, and operates a motorized vehicle; they can have the same experience.  The only thing worse that could have happened to the local guy is if he had been on his riding lawn mower.

SaintClarence27 wrote on March 14, 2013 at 5:03 pm

magine if all of the people who get DUIs would receive such noteriety in the local news with all of the comments.  Anytime that one has more than a couple of drinks, and operates a motorized vehicle; they can have the same experience.

Ône can certainly hope that this would be the case. A lot less drunken accidents and reckless homicides.

Bulldogmojo wrote on March 14, 2013 at 10:03 pm

Possible but I think you might be underestimating the degrading power addiction can have. Not to pick on the Kennedys too much but they all got behind the wheel with the full knowledge of the exposure that would come if they wrecked and there have been a few.

kaw wrote on March 14, 2013 at 7:03 pm

Mr. Monson's citations are for violating the Illinois Vehicular Code, not for violating any criminal law.  If he is guilty, no matter how he gets to that point, and no matter what agreement is worked out with the SAO for sentencing (and yes, that's how it works), his driving record will be the only thing which carries the history of the conviction, not his criminal history.  

The question on a job application asking if you have been convicted of a crime isn't a legitimate point here, simply because the question usually says "except traffic offenses."  These are traffic offenses.  

If a driver does not have proof of insurance when asked by an officer to produce the proof, then the driver is automatically given a citation for not having valid insurance.  The driver simply has to provide proof to the court and that citation is dropped.

Also, to the commenter above who said people who can't afford attorneys get a public defender and "that is not good," I wish you'd rethink that comment.  Public defenders are every bit as qualified, if not more qualified, than personal defense attorneys.  They have simply chosen a different path--that of service--than their counterparts. Their caseload is about 20 times bigger too.  

And lastly, this thead is so indicative of our society these days.  We are all so mean, so judgmental.  Where does it stop?  Who gives us the right to be this way?   The man had/has a problem.  Why does anyone here get to be his judge and jury?  No, life isn't fair.  Sometimes people lose jobs over this kind of thing, that's the way it is.  Knowing how unpleasant that is, why on earth would you wish that on anyone else?  

 

serf wrote on March 14, 2013 at 9:03 pm

Sorry to burst your bubble, but there are a myriad of offenses in chapter 625 of the ILCS that will land you in the slammer for a long time (aka felonies).  Simply dismissing them as 'traffic offenses' is a bit trite.

I'll agree with the rest of your sentiments, though.

kaw wrote on March 15, 2013 at 8:03 am

Hi Serf--The particular citations written in this situation do not qualify as the felony traffic offenses you mentioned.  You are absolutely correct, there are felonies in the IVC, but they don't apply in this situation.  Thank you for correcting me.  

billbtri5 wrote on March 15, 2013 at 8:03 am

one of the first things she did as mayor was to remove the drug testing requirements for the city attorney's position....

not big on substance abuse...