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Mayor Asks for Another ISP Investigation; Downtown Parking Lot for $1.5 Million?
Mayor Asks for Another ISP Investigation; Downtown Parking Lot for $1.5 Million?

The city of Springfield could be embarking on another Illinois State Police investigation.

This time, Mayor Mike Houston wants to find out who leaked police internal affairs files, specifically the investigation of Deputy Police Chief Cliff Buscher’s 2008 Missouri arrest.

“It would appear that someone had to be able to get into the internal affairs files in order to obtain that information,” said Houston. “That information was not given out.”

Internal affairs files, Houston said, are kept under “lock and key” and electronic versions are located on a computer not conected to the rest of the city’s network. A Sangamon County judge recently ruled internal affairs files are public record, with proper redactions of birthdates, social security numbers and other personal information omitted.

The city has admitted wrongdoing in the shredding of Buscher’s internal affairs files, when it was revealed the city altered rules for document storage when they were requested under the Freedom of Information Act.

Houston couldn’t say how many people had access to internal affairs files during Buscher’s investigation, but said the number now is about two. It’s normally limited to “the police chief and those investigators in the internal investigation division.”

Asked if the small number of people with access narrows the field, he said “that I don’t know.” It’s unclear if the ISP will conduct the investigation or how long it could take. It’s also unclear what punishment would befall an individual if found responsible.

$1.5 Million for Two-Acre Parking Lot?

The City of Springfield will make clear through a resolution that it wants to purchase state surplus property downtown. But should it accept what the state claims is a fair price?

The state says the property, a nearly two acre parking lot between 4th and 5th streets to the west and east and Capitol Ave. and Jackson St. to the north and south, is appraised at just more than $1.5 million.

“[The state's Central Management Services, CMS] is in no position to transfer property or negotiate from the price that’s been submitted to the city,” said Ward 6 Alderman Cory Jobe, responding to questions from aldermen about whether the property is worth $1.5 million.

Other aldermen suggested the city take its chances at auction to get a better deal as there’s a lot of empty space downtown, negatively affecting property values. Ward 7 Alderman Joe McMenamin is one of those aldermen.

“Downtown is full of empty buildings,” McMenamin said. “I think we should look at those appraisals carefully and see what opportunity there is, if under state law we can negotiate a better price I think we should think about it.”

The city wants the property to eventually turn into commercial, residential and green space. It has until September 8 to put in a bid.