Financial officer stole $53 million from city of Dixon (Illinois)

Grass-roots effort to make Dixon's government more transparent needs your signature

Dixon has an unofficial sister city in the Midwest: Dixon, Illinois. That city even has a similar population: 16,000. It’s where Ronald Reagan grew up.

It’s also where the town’s financial officer managed to embezzle an astounding $53 million from city coffers over 22 years without being detected. Now, federal prosecutors plan to seize Rita Crundwell’s trucks, boats, horses and other items.

Perhaps if the citizens of the other Dixon had taken more of an interest in their city’s government, and had tracked the city’s budget and where the money was going (an average of $2.4 million was being lost to Crundwell each year), that tragedy might not have happened. Greater transparency might have made monitoring easier.

In our own Dixon, we do have a determined cadre of individuals who take the time to make sure something like that doesn’t happen here. They’re not on city staff and they’re not on the city council. They’re just … concerned citizens.

Led by Ourania Riddle, they are now leading an effort to make our city even more transparent (beyond the very basic state laws), so that almost all of the city’s actions and business are conducted completely in the open – so that any citizen will know about and can attend decision-making meetings and examine records and documents.

After feet-dragging by the city council, these folks are now spending their valuable time collecting signatures to place the “Dixon Open Governance Act” on a ballot this year. Whether it will be voted upon in an expensive special election or during the general November election is mostly up to the city council. This assumes that the concerned citizens get enough signatures of registered voters in Dixon.

The citizens have close to the minimum number of required signatures but need more, especially since some signatures are always disqualified. At the upcoming events in Dixon you will be able to add your signature: the Cinco de Mayo celebration at St. Peter’s church on May 6 and at the Mayfair at the fairgrounds on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, May 11, 12 and 13 (both venues will be open from 6 to 10 each day). Also, during the Mayfair parade a signature-gathering table will be set up at Thom Bogue’s First Choice Automotive next to Bud’s restaurant.

In addition, signature gatherers will have a table at Dixon’s Safeway this Sunday, May 6, from 10 to 6.

Signature gathers have gotten most of their support (60 percent) by going door to door in Dixon. They will even make a special visit to your home if you wish to sign – just email dixonsunshine@gmail.com. You can also visit the Web site www.dixonsunshine.com and print out, sign and mail in the petition.  

By placing the scrutiny of Dixon’s citizens alongside the power of government, we ensure that Dixon, California doesn’t become another Dixon, Illinois or Bell, California. Let the sunshine in!



This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Stacy Potter May 04, 2012 at 02:05 PM
I had met this lady on a few occasions and would never had guessed she was capable of such a thing, she came off as a down to earth person but apparently not. Hopefully a portion will be paid off with the sale of her horses. Feel bad for the hard working people of Dixon IL that faced budget cuts from "low finances" while she spent their money showing horses
Jim Ernest May 04, 2012 at 03:54 PM
As a citizen of Dixon California, I want our city officials to get busy and bring great employers into our town. I want a great infrastructure, including a good sewer system, that invites great employers to locate here without problems. I want UCD and research firms to consider Dixon as a great place to locate. As we fight, and fight, and fight, we are missing, and missing, and missing our opportunities.
Dixon Sunshine May 04, 2012 at 05:03 PM
Bil, The group will be at the Mayfair from 10am to 6pm not the other way around. (both venues will be open from 6 to 10 each day) Thanks for the article. Really, why would anyone object to the citizens knowing what their government is doing? Abraham Lincoln said: “Let the people know the facts, and the country will be safe.”
Bil Paul May 04, 2012 at 06:15 PM
Thanks for making the time correction. My error.
Kerry Jacobs May 12, 2012 at 06:21 AM
There's currupt government in Illinois ? Noooooooo. November cant come soon enough to send the KING of currupt back to Illinois to join Ms Crupdwell.


More »
Got a question? Something on your mind? Talk to your community, directly.
Note Article
Just a short thought to get the word out quickly about anything in your neighborhood.
Share something with your neighbors.What's on your mind?What's on your mind?Make an announcement, speak your mind, or sell somethingPost something
See more »