LETTERS: Summarizing Chris Welch’s Qualifications

Letter to the EditorMonday, February 29, 2016 || LETTERS 

Chris has served as a partner at the law firm of Sanchez, Daniels & Hoffman, LLP since July 2007 after originally joining the firm in December 1997. Chris has served as a State Representative in the Illinois General Assembly since January 2013.

He is a member of the following committees: Appropriations-Higher Education, Higher Education, Health Care Availability & Accessibility, Judiciary, Small Business Empowerment & Workforce Development, and Transportation/Regulation, Roads and Bridges.

Chris served on the Proviso Township High Schools District 209 Board of Education from Nov. 7, 2001 to May 2013. Chris served as President of the Board for a decade, and during his tenure, he championed the effort to create the first ever suburban-based magnet high school, the Proviso Math and Science Academy (PMSA).

Chris also serves as legal counsel for various school districts and municipalities, and he is a member of the Illinois Council of School Attorneys.

Chris has successfully tried cases at both the State and Federal levels, and he has argued appeals in State and Federal Appellate courts. Chris is also a certified administrative hearing officer with experience serving as the hearing officer in code enforcement court.

Chris has received the Operation Uplift Hometown Dreamweaver Award (January 2005), the prestigious PLCCA Image Award (June 2006), the Village of Hillside Chairman’s Award for his contributions to Human Rights issues (January 2007), the Man of the Year Award from the Proviso Township Dream Team (May 2009), in August 2010 Chris was named one of the top 40 Game Changers under the age of 40 by Black Enterprise Magazine and WVON AM-1690, and in 2011 Chris was named a Rising Star by Superlawyers Magazine and Chicago Magazine.

In 2012, Chris was elected Illinois State Representative, 7th House District. Chris was named a SuperLawyer in 2013. VFP

— Robert Cox, Forest Park

Anyone interested in putting his or her comments, opinions, criticism, analysis or feedback up for formal publication should forward the content to thevillagefreepress@gmail.com in the body of the email (preferably) or in a Word file. VFP

3 thoughts on “LETTERS: Summarizing Chris Welch’s Qualifications”

  1. It should be noted I put out two Chris Harris lawn signs that were stolen and at the same time replaced by Chris Welch signs. Sort of like leaving your fingerprints behind when it comes to figuring out who was responsible for the theft of the Harris signs. It appears someone is a thief who needs ethics lessons but from past actiions that is not suprising.

  2. I put out two lawn signs for Chris Harris that were then stolen and at the same time replaced by Chris Welch signs. That is like a thief dropping his ID at the scene of the crime! It appears Mr. Welch feels free to take what does not belong to him whenever and wherever he feels like it. First someone elses property–next could be yours!

  3. If nothing else…This sounds like a very shady individual. Trust me…There’s a lot more where this came from. Enjoy…

    A group of township residents is asking a county judge to end District 209’s practice of paying legal fees on behalf of one of its school board members, arguing that board President Emanuel “Chris” Welch has no right to use taxpayer money in defending himself against a defamation suit filed in 2007.

    The suit was filed in Cook County Circuit Court on March 23 by four taxpayers who had already petitioned the school board with their request.

    Arbdella Patterson, Kevin McDermott and Carlos Anderson are each running for a seat on the school board and are plaintiffs in the case. The trio is joined by Donald Williams, who is the father of Rep. Karen Yarbrough (7th Dist.).

    The defamation suit against Welch was filed by two attorneys, Burt Odelson and Mark Sterk, who previously provided legal services to the district. Odelson and Sterk were fired by the school board in 2007 and, shortly thereafter, Welch began publishing comments online about the attorneys. Odelson and Sterk are alleging those comments were defamatory. As part of the discovery process in that case, Welch has stated that he and a co-defendant, Emily Robinson, were solely responsible for the content of the blog where those statements were published.

    The Web site used by Welch and Robinson is not affiliated with the school district. District 209 is not a defendant in that case, nor is any other school board member.

    “The allegations in the defamation suit are directed against Welch in his personal capacity and not in his capacity as a member or president of the PTHS Dist. 209 Board,” Patterson and her co-plaintiffs said in their complaint. “At no time during the litigation in the defamation suit has Welch asserted that he is not liable for damages under the provisions of the Local Governmental and Governmental Employees Tort Immunity Act.”

    Welch’s attorneys in the defamation case have been paid a total of $51,566.45 by the district, according to a Feb. 17 response from the school board’s attorneys to a Review request for details on those payments.

    Welch has since filed a counterclaim against Odelson and Sterk, alleging they conspired with Welch’s former employer to have him fired from that job. The two cases have also snared employees in District 88 and court filings have shed new light on the political and financial relationships Welch has built from the president’s seat in District 209.

    An attorney for the school district has advised board members that paying Welch’s legal bills in the defamation suit is appropriate. That attorney, Michael DeBartolo, has said public money will not be used to help Welch pursue his counterclaim.

    More than $57,800 has been paid by the district to Welch’s attorneys. According to DeBartolo, Welch’s attorneys have since been brought in to do additional legal work for District 209. That work is unrelated to the Odelson case, he said.

    After being provided with a copy of the taxpayers’ suit against District 209, DeBartolo did not return phone calls seeking comment on the case.

    Patrick Deady is the attorney handling the taxpayers’ claim against the district, and said he sees the legal questions in play to be a “very narrow issue.” The facts of how Welch made the potentially libelous statements he did have been spelled out in the defamation case already, said Deady. Answering his clients’ complaint should simply be a matter of applying those facts to the state’s indemnification laws intended to protect public servants working in their official capacity.

    “There really isn’t a lot more information required to answer the legal question,” Deady said.

    Of course, filing a lawsuit against the school district and its board members will cost taxpayers additional legal fees as the school defends itself against the claim. One of the primary goals of the suit, said Deady, is to prevent Welch from using public money to settle the defamation case, or pay any damages a judge might order. His clients are looking for a relatively swift decision, he said, and hope that any attempt to prolong the argument is cutoff by the court.

    “My clients are obviously cognizant of that,” Deady said.

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