Champaign County Board votes to pay nursing home's insurance costs

Champaign County Board votes to pay nursing home's insurance costs

URBANA — Champaign County Board members Tuesday night approved paying the county nursing home's full share of property and liability insurance for the year.

The board, meeting as a committee of the whole, approved the payment of $125,125 on a 16-4 vote, without discussion. Voting against the payment were Republicans Brooks Marsh, Jim Goss, Stan Harper and Bradley Clemmons.

County Administrator Deb Busey said the county's self-insurance fund would be repaid later this year by the nursing home fund.

With the payment, the nursing home now owes various county funds more than $2.2 million. Last month, the county board voted to entertain offers from private operators for the money-losing property in east Urbana.

Also Tuesday, board member James Tinsley announced that an anonymous donor had paid off a $1,136 fine assessed against him in Champaign County Circuit Court after he pleaded guilty in 2010 to a misdemeanor gun charge.

Tinsley told his board colleagues that after former Champaign school board member and past Republican candidate John Bambenek "tried to make a political controversy out of the court fines I owed" with a lawsuit calling for the appointment of a special prosecutor to investigate and possibly remove him from office, he determined he didn't have enough money to fully pay the fine.

"However, I had about $500 of my student-loan money and planned to use it to make a partial payment toward paying the court fine," said Tinsley, an Urbana Democrat. "This is money that I borrowed to be used to help support my family and myself as a full-time student so I could get the education that is needed today to obtain a job that pays a living wage. However, I felt shamed by the actions of one person."

As he was about to make the partial payment last Friday, Tinsley said, he learned that the fine had been fully paid in cash.

"Whoever did this, it was out of the kindness of their heart, and I just wanted to publicly thank this person for their generosity and kindness. My family is very appreciative of this selfless act," he said. "Even after getting attacked falsely by someone for no other reason than malicious intent, it is very humbling to know that there is such love and generosity in this community. So to whoever that person is, we truly are blessed and I wanted to say thank you."

The board also approved, on a voice vote, two recommendations that called for changes in local policies affecting people with criminal convictions.

The first urges the Housing Authority of Champaign County to change its policies regarding applicants with criminal conviction records, and the second urges the city of Champaign to repeal a part of the city code that says that a renter with a forcible felony or felony drug conviction can be lawfully denied housing until he or she has lived outside of jail for at least five years without another related conviction.

In other action, board Chair C. Pius Weibel said that a proposed forbearance agreement between the county nursing home and HealthPRO Therapy Services would be referred to the board's litigation committee. The panel, which meets in closed session, will review HealthPRO's request for an aggressive, 18-month repayment schedule of the $291,480 the company is owed for providing therapy services at the nursing home.

And Weibel said he wanted ideas from board members on what to do with $9,000 offered to the county from the Illinois Counties Association. The ICA board voted to make contributions to 501(c)(3) charitable organizations in all 102 counties.

"The contributions are small, but in these times, every little bit helps," said a letter from ICA to Weibel.

"I'm looking for suggestions," said the chairman, adding that there are more than 1,000 such organizations in the county.

Absent from Tuesday's meeting were Champaign Democrats Josh Hartke and Lorraine Cowart.

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BruckJr wrote on February 14, 2018 at 8:02 am

When you sign a FAFSA for a student loan you agree to use the money for the following expenses only:

The cost of attendance, defined in the Higher Education Act of 1965, includes:

  • Tuition and fees
  • Room and board (including off-campus housing)
  • Books and supplies
  • Transportation (cost of travel to/from school, but not for purchase of a vehicle)
  • Miscellaneous personal expenses
  • Cost of rental or purchase of required equipment, materials, and supplies
  • Personal computer (if enrolled at least half-time)
  • Dependent care expenses
  • Disability-related expenses
  • Loan fees
  • Licensing and certification fees for students enrolled in programs requiring the student to obtain professional licensure or certification
  • Reasonable costs associated with a study abroad program approved for credit at the student’s home institution
  • Expenses associated with a cooperative education program


Champaign Co. Firecracker wrote on February 14, 2018 at 10:02 am

Well its a good thing someone was generous enough to pay so he didn't have to use his school loan to pay what I consider a "miscellaneous personal expense". Except by his ow admission, who would have known?

Give the man a break. After his mistake in judgement, at least he's being a poductive citzen now.

bambenek wrote on February 14, 2018 at 11:02 am

Someone help me out... how is accepting an anonymous cash gift (in the form of paying his fine) comport with the requirements of the county ethics ordinance (there may be an amendment somewhere, I haven't completely search the ordinances)?

rsp wrote on February 14, 2018 at 8:02 pm

Instead of twisting yourself into knots trying to find something to get him on, such as accusing him of having a felony conviction when he doesn't, why don't you take some time to do a little research first. A friend can legally pay it for him without it being unethical. Maybe they just don't want the attention or you trying to make it something ugly.

But that would require you to treat he with a little respect and dignity, wouldn't it?


bambenek wrote on February 14, 2018 at 9:02 pm

Yeah, I made a technical mistake saying his conviction for unlawful possession of a handgun that is defined as statute was pled to a misdemeanor. But it's still an infamous crime (in my opinion) so Art XIII Section 1 of the state constitution applies. Either way, he was collecting a stipend from the county while still refusing to pay his fine to the county. You wouldn't give a pass to others.

Of course, that's all besides the point. Elected officials getting anonymous cash gifts is inherently problematic and I doubt if any Republican did it, you'd be talking about treating them with respect and dignity.

You don't hold office to the same government you owe money to. Tinsley paid because I was right on that point.

You don't neglect to file your statement of economic interests. Tinsley filed one because I was right on that point.

And you don't take anonymous cash gifts as an elected official.

Why is this at all complicated?

rsp wrote on February 15, 2018 at 1:02 am

Once again, he was not convicted of a felony, therefor no "infamous crime".

At this point you have filed legal papers accusing him of being a felon, made sure it was in the local paper, posted comments repeating the lie, and now claim it's an "infamous crime". If I was him I would seek legal council to deal with this. An infamous crime is a felony. It is not a misdemeaner.

You didn't even bother to find out what the law said about it. You just went on a campaign against him. You could have went to the county board and addressed it there.

bambenek wrote on February 15, 2018 at 9:02 am

People keep linking to the Election Code, I have no idea why they think that's relevant here or, for that matter, why Sen. Link's amendment that is not yet law at all applies (see:

Here is what the Constitution says (the actual thing I cite in my case):

A person convicted of a felony, bribery, perjury or other
infamous crime shall be ineligible to hold an office created
by this Constitution. Eligibility may be restored as provided
by law.

Note conviction of felony... or other infamous crime. Misdemeanors can be infamous. Read the case law, the definition is out there. Point in fact, some felonies are NOT infamous. Note, the bill you linked above contains the exact same formulation. Key word "OR".

So while you're also talking about filing lawsuits, I'd suggest you look at the Citizen Participation Act. If he did file a lawsuit, it would make me rich, because both he and the attorney who filed it would likely be fined.


So here are the facts:

He was convicted of unlawful possession of a handgun, statute defines as a felony, but he pled to a misdemeanor. A technical error on my part, I corrected it in court and I apologized to him directly.

After getting his plea deal, he REFUSED to show up to jail to serve his time and became a fugitive.

After service his time, he REFUSED to pay his fine and fulfill the terms of his sentence.

He gets elected to the county board, instead of using his stipend to pay his fine, he continues to ignore his sentence and legal obligations.

He ALSO fails to file his statement of economic interests, which, if you read that law eventually leads to foreiture of office.

He then accepts and almost $1200 cash gift in the form of an "anonymous" person paying his fine, that does not seem to align with the County Ethics Ordinance's Gift Ban and common sense. 

We'll skip past his involvement in the infamous Toby Sirois Yard Sign Shakedown. (

Those are the facts.

Tinsley didn't run to the courthouse to pay his fine and then run to the county building to file his statement of economic insterests because I'm racist. He did it because I was right.

rsp wrote on February 15, 2018 at 6:02 pm


Alvarez v. Williams, 2014 IL App (1st) 133443


“Any person convicted of an infamous crime as such term is defined in Section 124-1 of the Code of Criminal Procedure of 1963, as amended, shall thereafter be prohibited from holding any office of honor, trust, or profit, unless such person is again restored to such rights by the terms of a pardon for the offense or otherwise according to law.” 10 ILCS 5/29-15 (West 2012).

Under section 124-1 of the Code of Criminal Procedure of 1963 (Code of Criminal Procedure), an infamous crime was defined as:

“the offenses of arson, bigamy, bribery, burglary, deviate sexual assault, forgery, incest or aggravated incest, indecent liberties with a child, kidnaping or aggravated kidnaping, murder, perjury, rape, robbery, sale of narcotic drugs, subornation of perjury, and theft if the punishment imposed is imprisonment in the penitentiary.” (Emphasis added.) Ill. Rev. Stat. 1983, ch. 38, ¶ 124-1 (repealed by Pub. Act 84-1047, § 2 (eff. July 1, 1986)).

I don't see anything in there about possesion of a gun or it's your opinion so it counts. The Appellate court stated even though those sections of law were repeal it didn't matter. It still used them because of all the case law involved. Your opinion doesn't mean anything.