Friday, July 26, 2019 || By Michael Romain || @maywoodnews
If Mayor Edwenna Perkins has her way, the village of Maywood could be represented by a new firm by year’s end.
The mayor let her desires be known through a draft resolution that appeared on the agenda of the July 9 regular board meeting.
The resolution calls for the immediate termination of Klein, Thorpe & Jenkins, the law firm the village currently utilizes for contracted legal services, and the immediate appointment of the law firm of Ottosen Britz Kelly Cooper Gilbert & DiNolfo.
During an interview on July 26, Perkins confirmed that she directed village staff to put the resolution on the meeting agenda and that lawyers with the Naperville-based Ottosen Britz and company drafted the resolution.
Michael Jurusik, the Klein, Thorpe & Jenkins attorney who typically represents Maywood and is present at most board meetings, was absent during the July 9 meeting (Klein, Thorpe & Jenkins attorney Michael Marrs was present in his stead).
All six Maywood trustees voted to table the resolution until Jurusik returned. Perkins voted against the motion to table. When contacted on July 26, Jurusik declined to comment.
Perkins said that her main motivation for replacing Klein, Thorpe & Jenkins was because of the amount of money the village pays in contracted legal services each year.
“We’ve had [Klein, Thorpe & Jenkins] since 2000,” the mayor said. “[When I was a trustee], I voted to bring them in. That was under former mayor Ralph Conner. But we can’t afford to be paying up to $400,000 a year in legal fees in a community that’s broke.”
According to a recent budget document, the village paid out $392,564 in contractual legal services in 2017. The next year, the village paid $444,276. The village is projected to spend around $291,105 on contracted legal services this year. Maywood budgeted $400,000 on the line item for fiscal year 2020.
Jurusik has explained during board meetings in the past that his firm charges the village below-market rates.
The mayor said that Ottosen Britz Kelly Cooper Gilbert & DiNolfo’s rates were lower than Klein, Thorpe & Jenkins’, but could not immediately provide specific information on the firm’s rates. Representatives with Ottosen Britz Kelly Cooper Gilbert & DiNolfo could not be reached for comment on Friday afternoon.
Perkins added that she selected the Naperville law firm, because it is “well know throughout the area.”
Perkins confirmed that she did not let anyone from Klein, Thorpe & Jenkins know about the resolution before it was published online in the July 9 meeting packet.
“That’s not how you do business,” Perkins said, referencing her decision to keep the resolution close to the vest. But the mayor’s displeasure with the current law firm and the amount of money the village pays for legal services is no secret. And her frustration often spills out during board meetings.
When asked for information into other possible reasons for her decision to replace Klein, Thorpe & Jenkins — such as whether or not she had particular issues with the firm’s performance — Perkins declined to elaborate.
The mayor said that she would like the new firm in position before the year is out. Asked when the resolution would come up again before the board for a final vote, the mayor said that she wasn’t sure.
She said that Maywood would pay Ottosen Britz Kelly Cooper Gilbert & DiNolfo what it cost the firm to draft the resolution whenever it’s installed as the village’s new contracted law firm. The services, she said, would be billed and paid retroactively. VFP
Read the draft resolution below
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