Alderman, CityCouncil, Mayor

$186,000 of Kankakee money goes to a Georgia business

City of Kankakee way-finding signs, purchased from Norcross, Georgia, next to Epstein look-a-like with some text covered to show design features.

City of Kankakee way-finding signs (purchased from Norcross, Georgia) with Epstein look-a-like (some text covered to show design features).

Ongoing Investigation
Posted by Joanie Liesenfelt, Publisher/Managing Editor 4-7-2013
The City of Kankakee spent $186,000 (or more) for way-finding signs at a Georgia business not a Kankakee business. Mayor Epstein must think Kankakee sign makers are no good.

Kankakee money to Georgia: Issues

  • Friendly Signs and several other Kankakee businesses make way-finding signage
  • Mayor replied, when asked why nothing had come through City Council, she had a grant not requiring City Council approval or bids.
  • Multiple sign errors: DOT standards not met for the street signs. Others have incorrect text, like the months the Farmers’ Market is open.
  • Georgia is where Kankakee Planning Board Director Cliff Cross previously lived and worked as Planning Director for the city of Duluth, Georgia. Kankakee signs were purchased by Mrs. Epstein from Creative Impressions of Norcross, Georgia, 6 miles from Duluth, Georgia.
  • Mrs. Epstein’s political signs and mailings are obviously the same design as the new City of Kankakee way-finding signs.
  • The coverup of where the money came from to pay for the way-finding signs leads one to suspect that Mrs. Epstein’s political signs were paid with the same Kankakee grant money.
Full Story

I called Friendly Signs in Kankakee and Chris said, yes, Friendly Signs creates street signs and monuments and they work with the Department of Transportation to be certain to meet the required standards. Chris said there are also several other businesses in Kankakee who do this type of signage.

Hum. $186,000 grant belonging to Kankakee, according to the Mayor, was sent to Norcross, Georgia company Creative Impressions, to purchase way-finding signs, apparently in a rush before the election.


Some signs have to be returned and redone (at additional cost?) as they do not meet DOT standards for street signs. Others have errors, like the months the Farmers’ Market is open.

See referenced below Kankakee Daily Journal article with details from the Mayor and from Bill Yohnka, KDC Executive Director. KDC is a local corporation, presdient Mr. Scott Franco, focusing on City of Kankakee development.

Unusual Grant

As I understand it, Mrs. Epstein told Alderman Cheryl Jones this grant money she sent to Georgia did not need city council approval and the Mayor was not required to get bids. Kankakee Planning Board Director Cliff Cross previously lived and worked as Planning Director for the city of Duluth, GA, 6 miles from Norcross, GA where Creative Impressions is located.

That’s some unusual grant! I guess that’s why no one outside of Mrs. Epstein’s secret circle knows where the money actually came from. Could be something that works like the new electricity supplier’s sign-on grant offered to cities for signing up with them or renewing. Or maybe something like a Preserve America grant where the City pays half and Preserve America pays the other half.

Creative Impressions has worked with Preserve America in the past. If that was the grant, would the $186,000 total reported in the Kankakee Daily Journal be the total economic shot-in-the-arm for Norcross, Georgia or just half of the total of $372,000?

Donation for Signs?

Perhaps a donation to Kankakee by, say the Mayor or another individual directly purchasing signs, would not require proper legal accounting and bids. Although, most cities would report that money and also get bids. So did the “grant” money come from a secret Santa, so to speak?

If this was a straight deal done legally, wouldn’t accounting records and grant documents be presented to the full City Council to vote on like any other receipts and expenditures? Mrs. Epstein said none were needed. Really?

Mrs. Epstein Political Signs Designs paid by…?

Or maybe the Mayor mostly just didn’t want us citizens to know she was using some of the City “grant” money to make the same design for her own political outdoor signs and postcard mailings. Of course, like much of Kankakee government, they had to hide what they were doing because, gee whiz, it might look to some people like they were doing wrong.

Slap in the Face

Showing that the City of Kankakee actually invests in and purchases from its own Kankakee businesses would go a long way to encouraging other businesses to consider locating here.

Chris at Friendly Signs said $186,000 would really help us locally. He asked what did we think we’d do about this.

What do you think should be done?

Before you post a comment, please read our Comment Policy.


2 thoughts on “$186,000 of Kankakee money goes to a Georgia business

  1. But sorry we have to layoff policemen an firemen because we are broke. Same old Kankakee.

    Posted by racen7 | April 16, 2014, 5:15 pm
  2. The local laws – enacted upon request and on behalf of the local business community – require the city to bid a contract like this. They did it and went for the lowest bidder, according to the law. That’s all folks!
    I understand your frustration, but please stick to the facts instead of starting a wild goose chase.

    Posted by Joachim Richter | April 16, 2014, 9:52 pm

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