Tag: Bill Barlow

BREAKING: Maywood’s Interim Village Manager Ken Lopez Resigns To Work In Prospect Heights

Thursday, April 17, 2014 || By Michael Romain 

Welcome, Administrator
Ken Lopez (Tim O’Connor)

Ken Lopez, Maywood’s interim village manager, has resigned, according to a confidential source. Mr. Lopez, 51, had been in the position for less than a month. According to an April 15, report published by Journal & Topics, Mr. Lopez was hired as the city administrator for Prospect Heights, Illinois on Monday, April 14. Maywood’s interim manager position had been held by assistant village manager David Myers since former manager William Barlow resigned in January of this year. Mr. Myers was hired as assistant village manager late last year.

As of press time, no village official could be reached for comment.

In the Journal & Topics article, Mr. Lopez said that he was attracted to Prospect Heights because of “its small town charm and the development and infrastructure projects already being planned.”

More as this story develops. VFP

 

Correction: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that former village manager Bill Barlow resigned in January of last year, instead of January of this year. This article has since been emended. 

Board Begins Search For Barlow’s Replacement

By Michael Romain

Thursday, MAYWOOD — At a January 21, Legal License and Ordinance Committee (LLOC) meeting, the Village Board unanimously moved to begin a national search to replace outgoing Village Manager William Barlow, who is retiring from municipal government effective January 31, 2014. Mr. Barlow has said that his decision was motivated primarily by health concerns. Attorney Michael Jurusik noted that the Village’s investment policy stipulates that the Board hire a new manager within 90 days of the position being vacated.

Mr. Barlow and Mr. Jurusik recommended that the Board emulate the search process that the Village implemented two-and-half years ago, which resulted in Mr. Barlow’s hiring.

According to Mr. Jurusik, the Board conducted a national search and he published job descriptions in the publications of leading trade organizations, such as the International City Managers Association and the National League of Cities.

“With those targeted areas, you really do pick up everybody in the village manager industry,” Mr. Jurusik said.

He also noted that during the last search process, the Board placed candidate resumes in three piles: one where they met the minimum professional and education requirements; one where they didn’t; and another where they fell somewhere in between (i.e., a candidate could have the requisite professional experience, but not the minimum educational background).

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They then came up with a shortlist of about 10-12 candidates and rated the candidates by numbers. The Board conducted a first round of interviews of these shortlist candidates before they narrowed the list further and conducted another round. Finally, they narrowed the list to about 3-4 candidates and selected from that small group.

Based on his direct experience with the last search process, Mr. Barlow said that the current search process should last between 4-6 months. In the meantime, the Board was given a packet of several resumes of candidates who might be qualified to serve as interim village managers. Mr. Barlow assured the Board that all of the interim village manager candidates except one had prior village manager experience.

There was some consternation, however, about why the Village would go outside to look for an interim manager when it has an assistant village manager in Mr. David Myers, who one citizen thought would be the putative next-in-line in the event that the village manager position was vacated.

Although the possibility of appointing Mr. Myers, who was hired last year, as interim village manager, wasn’t ruled out, Mr. Barlow indicated that it might not be the optimum decision.

“We do have a capable assistant village manager,” Mr. Barlow said, “but he didn’t necessarily sign on to be village manager for an extended period of time. It’s important for the Board to have a dialogue with David and lay out some of the options I mentioned to him.”

The motion to engage in a national search for village manager, to implement a candidate ratings system, and to direct Mr. Jurusik and Mr. Barlow to begin to prepare position credentials, a timeline for moving through the hiring process, and a preliminary state of the village report (which would include draft reports from each of the village departments that mention both its present state and future needs) for discussion at the next LLOC was passed unanimously.

However, it wasn’t passed without some objections, namely that coming from Trustee Cheryl Ealey-Cross, who said that the Village Board didn’t appear to establish enough ownership over the process.

“There’s [some] delegation that’s being removed form the Board and [being given to others]. This Board is responsible for the national search….this Board has to identify what its vision is and share that with the candidate it chooses as manager….I hope we can start taking ownership….of what we’re charged to do.”

Trustee Michael Rogers responded by noting that the Board is fundamentally limited by how much it can do and how much it knows, which is why it has to trust the legal and municipal professionals to do their jobs in such a way that allows the Board to make the right decisions. VFP

NOMCO Appreciates William Barlow

THE OPINION PAGEWhen William Barlow was introduced as Maywood’s Village Manager in 2011, the announcement came as a breath of fresh air to many citizens. We, the members of Neighbors of Maywood  Community Organization (NOMCO), were among them.

During Mr. Barlow’s brief time at the helm, he has brought to our Village government a level of professionalism, competence and commitment that will be sorely missed. However, we expect Mr. Barlow’s successor—whoever he or she may be—to emulate his example.

While the members of NOMCO are saddened to hear of Mr. Barlow’s retirement, we wish him continued blessings in whatever avenues he seeks to explore in the future. And we appreciate him for the work he’s done on our behalf.

The Members of the Neighbors of Maywood Community Organization (NOMCO) VFP

NOMCO, established in 1968, is one of Maywood’s oldest civic organizations. It has been a consistent and active proponent of historical preservation and volunteerism, among other issues. 

Retiring Village Manager William Barlow: Maywood Was The Fulfillment Of A Career Aspiration (Part Two)

For part one, click here.

By Michael Romain

MAYWOOD — At the January meeting of Neighbors of Maywood Community Organization (NOMCO) last Thursday, retiring Village Manager William Barlow opened up about his decision to leave local government and where he sees the Village headed after he’s gone. The 57-year-old was remarkably candid about the personal circumstances that had a hand in his decision to retire, not the least of which was the moment he discovered the late Anthony Thomas, Maywood’s coordinator of compliance, incapacitated on the floor of the code enforcement department. That’s when Mr. Barlow’s epiphany occurred.

Mr. Thomas’s death opened his eyes to the fact that he had to make a dramatic lifestyle change in order to deal with the personal consequences–high blood pressure and weight gain among them–that accompanied his more than two-year tenure in a highly stressful position. Mr. Barlow’s decision was met with both understanding and sadness among a community that, on the whole, seemed to have embraced the Shaumburg resident as one of its own.

After a short presentation (which was Mr. Barlow’s last NOMCO presentation as a sitting manager–he’s presented at every January NOMCO meeting for the last three years), encomiums and salutations flowed forth from the audience.

“When Bill joined the Chamber of Commerce, he didn’t just join the Chamber, he came to the monthly meetings and became a member of the board of directors,” said longtime Village clerk, trustee and current Rotary Club president Gary Woll. “When he joined Rotary, Bill went on the board and was a faithful attendee of the weekly meetings.”

“Thank you for having served,” said resident Lennel Grace. “I enjoyed working with you and hopefully the individual that comes after you is truly capable in the way that you are.”

Long-time Maywoodian and WWII veteran Leon Conner presented Mr. Barlow with a plaque of appreciation. The 95-year-old father of the late Mayor Ralph Conner made the outgoing Village manager an honorary member of a local community organization he founded along with his son. Mr. Conner, a first sergeant who was in charge of a service company of more than 250 men, said that he saw something of himself in Mr. Barlow. While describing the similarity, Mr. Conner hilariously illustrated just how thankless some leadership positions can be.

“Before I took [the sergeant position], I asked if I’d have any real authority. One of the officers said, ‘Let me tell you a secret. The job of first sergeant was created so we officers wouldn’t have a damn thing to do,'” the respected veteran said to wild laughter.

“Where I come from, you never let a person who did something good go without profit. But woe be unto the person who did something bad. You never let them forget it,” Mr. Conner said. Part of the inscription on the plaque read: “Remember, in all they ways acknowledge him and he will direct your path.”

Intermingled with the praise were some serious concerns about the future and a bit of guarded optimism. As a nod to the hopeful direction in which the Village is headed in certain areas, Melrose Parker Roberto Sepulveda, a member of the Maywood Rotary and an avid community activist throughout Proviso Township, prompted what may have been Mr. Barlow’s final sale’s pitch of sorts.

“Over the past couple of years, I’ve been to different events in Maywood such as the NOMCO home tour and based on those, I’ve considered buying a home in Maywood,” Mr. Sepulveda said. “There are lots of negatives you hear about Maywood, but what are three positive things you’d enlist in trying to attract new residents into the community.”

After pondering for a moment, Mr. Barlow mentioned the halving of the murder rate, Maywood’s central location and the town’s unique architectural significance as three of its biggest selling points.

“There are people in this town committed to maintaining quality housing and agencies like the Historic Preservation Commission that are working hard trying to preserve the unique architecture of our community.” VFP

Retiring Village Manager William Barlow: Maywood Was The Fulfillment Of A Career Aspiration (Part One)

By Michael Romain

Often, when people talk about epiphanies–those singular moments when they realize something so grand it immediately changes the course of their lives–they’re exaggerating. When Maywood Village Manager William Barlow shared his ‘Aha! moment’ during the Neighbors of Maywood Community Organization’s (NOMCO’s) monthly meeting, his account seemed entirely plausible.

It was a day like any other day at 40 Madison Street–busy, frustrating, challenging, stressful, exhausting. During his more than two years in the manager’s position, Mr. Barlow had adapted to the demands of the job, but only sloppily so. He was more than fifty pounds overweight with high blood pressure and medicated. During his off hours, while at home in Schaumburg, a suburb twenty or so miles away, Maywood stayed with him–its problems burrowed inside of him like unwelcome pests.

He wasn’t smiling very much and his wife noticed. This Christmas she gifted him a little book with space to write his thoughts, a way to release his tension. She hoped that by writing, he would begin to loosen up and smile more.

That momentous day, Anthony Thomas, Maywood’s gifted coordinator of compliance wasn’t smiling. He wasn’t moving much at all. Mr. Barlow was among the people who discovered Mr. Thomas–a man about the same age, and who’d devoted about as much of his life and energy and talent to municipal government, as Mr. Barlow–”in a debilitated state” (as Mr. Barlow described it at the meeting) on the floor of the code enforcement department.

“When [Anthony] died, it opened my eyes,” Mr. Barlow said before a half-full room of well-wishers and concerned citizens–Maywoodians and non-Maywoodians alike–who wanted to pick the brain of the man whom Gary Woll, former longtime Village trustee and clerk, described as one of the most engaged and self-effacing Maywood village managers he’d ever worked beside.

“There are two tragedies in life,” said George Bernard Shaw. “One is not to get your heart’s desire. The other is to get it.” Mr. Barlow, recounting the arc of his 35 years in local government, said that his desire since his career began was to work in a place that was racially diverse and struggling economically; a place with hurdles high enough that they’d yield deep, lasting satisfaction when they were finally cleared.

Dayton, Ohio, was that place in 1978, the year Mr. Barlow first began his career. And Maywood is that place in 2014, the year he decided to end it.

“I’ve enjoyed my time here,” he said. “There have been great challenges put forward and I’m a guy who enjoys challenges. The worst thing is to come to work and not have things to do. Everyday in Maywood, there are things to do. Everything I learned prior to coming to Maywood was put to the test here in this job. And there have been very satisfying things taking place.”

That satisfaction, however, comes with a price and one that the 57-year-old believes has taken its toll on his health and his family.

“There are things I need to change,” he said. “I may look robust, my color’s good and all that stuff, but the fact is that I’m not as healthy a man as I need to eventually become in order to avoid the problems that come with being overweight, having high blood pressure and working in a stressful job.”

Mr. Barlow said that, despite retiring, he still plans on maintaining a relatively stress-free source of income to supplement his pension.

“I’ve got some time to work. I have a real estate license, I can practice real estate. I even thought about bagging at Jewels, something real mindless. My wife will be happy,” he said light-heartedly, but seriously relieved.

He said that among his most satisfying accomplishments was hiring new police chief Valdimir Talley and assistant village manager David Myers. That these seemingly mundane aspects of the job stuck out most for Mr. Barlow were revealing. They reflect the importance placed on, and the respect that Mr. Barlow often gave, to procedure. The idea that if the process isn’t right, the output will be wrong.

“I’m most proud of hiring a new police chief,” he said. “I’m proud of the process that selected him. We could’ve gone an easier route and selected someone who was known, but we needed someone who could look at the department from an outsider’s perspective and we need integrity.”

Despite the successes he touted, Mr. Barlow also emphasized a major area of weakness that’s dogged him throughout his tenure here.

“One of the things I’m most disappointed about is littering. This community has an epidemic of littering,” he said. “People litter in Schaumburg, where I live. We’re not so different. But the magnitude of the littering here is much greater. One thing I thought about introducing to the board is a proposal to raise the penalties for littering. For instance, throwing a cigarette butt out your car window can expose you to a $1,500 penalty from the state.”

Mr. Barlow said that its close proximity to the interstate means that Maywood is particularly susceptible to polluting commuters who may litter while driving through on the Village on their way home.

The Village has utilized various measures to deal with the problem. For instance, Mr. Barlow noted that Maywood is one of the few communities in the Chicago area that utilizes the Sheriff’s department 30 times a year.

“They can spend their entire day with 20-30 prisoners picking up the garbage that gets deposited on the street. That’s one thing I wish I could change in the community,” he said, while acknowledging the entrenched culture of indifference to littering, in particular, and the Village’s public appearance, in general, that has burdened the town in recent years. However, Mr. Barlow emphasized that that culture could be changed. And the change has to start in the home. VFP

Part Two will be published Monday.

Trustee Cheryl Ealey-Cross Sworn In, Disrupts Business As Usual

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By Michael Romain

LAST TUESDAY, MAYWOOD — Moments after she took the oath of office to assume the trustee seat vacated by Mayor Edwenna Perkins, Cheryl Ealey-Cross faced the half-full Village chamber, noticed that she had no microphone at her seat like the other Board members and rather volubly requested that one be provided in the future. That’s when several audience members assured her that they could hear her louder than some of the other members with microphones.

Mrs. Ealey-Cross’s appointment marked the rather anti-climactic culmination of a community-wide debate over just how the appointment process should be handled. When former Mayor Henderson Yarbrough appointed Trustee Audrey Jaycox to fill the seat vacated by Trustee Michael Rogers several weeks shy of Mayor Perkins’s swearing-in, there was a mini firestorm of protest among residents.

Some considered Mr. Rogers’s resignation a political maneuver to deprive Mayor Perkins of two Board appointments. Others expressed shock at Mayor Yarbrough’s appointment of Ms. Jaycox, who Mr. Yarbrough considered the best qualified candidate for the seat, but who gave up her own position as trustee to run a campaign for the Village clerkship—a campaign she eventually lost to current clerk Viola Mims.

“If Jaycox is going to resign as trustee, then why is she going to accept another trustee position [for two years]?” said one resident.

The Neighbors of Maywood Community Organization (NoMCO) endorsed a plan that would involve Mayor Yarbrough appointing the next-highest-vote-getting candidate for trustee in the April consolidate election—Marcius Scaggs of the All In For Maywood (AIM) party.

Mr. Yarbrough referred to the plan as sensible before claiming that, according to the NoMCO plan, Ms. Jaycox would qualify as the next-highest-vote-getter, even though she did not run for trustee. At the board meeting during which Ms. Jaycox was appointed, citizen outrage ran well past adjournment and spilled onto the sidewalks and into the dimly lit Fifth Avenue night.

The atmosphere at the August 20 board meeting, however, was staid by comparison—even though Mayor Perkins herself skirted the NoMCO plan in appointing Mrs. Ealey-Cross to the Board. Unlike Ms. Jaycox, Mrs. Ealey-Cross did run for trustee; however, she was not the next-highest-vote-getter in the race. For whatever reasons, the fervent pressure put on Mayor Yarbrough to adhere to the procedural fairness of the NoMCO plan was blatantly absent this time around.

Mrs. Ealey-Cross’s ascension to the Board comes after a nearly two-month’s long silent war of attrition between the Mayor and the Board. Since the outset of the Mayor’s term, the five trustees flanking her had unanimously refused to so much as discuss Mrs. Ealey-Cross’s impending appointment in public. Her assumption of Mayor Perkins’s vacated trustee seat occurred in wake of the Board’s second refusal to give it a vote, after which, the Mayor has the right to make the appointment anyway.

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In the lead-up to her August 20th swearing-in, there were claims made by some present and former trustees that the appointment was being held up, not because of a partisan stubbornness on the part of the Maywood United Party (the party ticket on which all five trustees ran) to block Mayor Perkins’s every move, but because Mrs. Ealey-Cross was difficult to work with.

In his public comments at a board meeting in June, former trustee and Village clerk Gary Woll said that he’s served on committees with Mrs. Ealey-Cross that “she destroyed.” “She’s very bright, she works hard, but the littlest thing […] she gets angry […] There are other people who support Edwenna who are much better to work with.”

Trustee Toni Dorris concurred with Mr. Woll. “I’ve watched and known Mrs. Ealey for six years […] go from commission to commission. I’ve seen her advocate for things she was going to do and never get done.”

In her first board meeting as a sitting trustee, Mrs. Ealey-Cross seemed poised to both confirm and falsify those sentiments by completely dismantling a routine omnibus agenda—an act that would seem to support Mr. Woll’s characterization of her as difficult, but laying waste to Trustee Dorris’s claim of ineffectiveness.

Of the twenty-eight items — listed ‘A’ through ‘BB’ — that were contained in the massive omnibus agenda, Mrs. Ealey-Cross pulled twenty, effectively forcing the Board to consider and vote on each one in isolation. In all, when combined with the one item pulled by Trustee Ron Rivers, twenty-one items were struck from the omnibus agenda. (Omnibus means “for everything” in Latin and allows the Board to approve a range of different items in a single vote, instead of voting on each item separately).

Among the items considered for approval in the omnibus package were routine payments to the City of Chicago’s water department for $533,459.08; to Allied Waste in the amount of $324,326.88 for June and July garbage pickup and disposal service; and to payment to Blue Cross Blue Shield in the amount of $220,538.47 for employee health insurance for the month of August.

Not long into the discussion of item ‘A’ of the omnibus agenda (“Consideration to approve payment to AFCO in the amount of $57,734.11 for the 3rd of 9 installment payments for general liability insurance payment”), Trustee Ealey-Cross requested a copy of the actual contract.

And so it went. For practically every item she pulled from the omnibus agenda, she requested contract information and other technical and legalistic minutiae with which the typical elected official doesn’t bother to grapple.

To the casual observer, the newest member of the Village Board may have appeared obstinate, but it was also obvious that she’d done her homework—a fact that not even her staunchest detractors could’ve comfortably denied.

During the Board discussion of item ‘L’ regarding payment to Edwin Hancock Engineering Company in the amount of $82,543.29 for engineering-related services done in Maywood in August, Trustee Ealey-Cross requested to “see a copy of the contract as well as to know the process in how we are billed and if there’s an ordinance that states or requires a written agreement.”

On item ‘S’, a proposal to purchase three fully-outfitted 2013 Dodge Chargers for the police department, Trustee Ealey-Cross harkened back to the discussion at last week’s LLOC meeting.

“Questions from this board were addressed and there was the question regarding procedures in place as to the vehicles and destruction and I thought the manager was going to report back to the board tonight on his findings,” she said.

Regarding item ‘Z’ (“Resolution authorizing an agreement with IAFF for management of various grant projects on behalf of West Cook County Cooperative”), Trustee Ealey-Cross wanted to know what progress had been made since Maywood became a member of the Cooperative. “Do we get an annual report?” she said.

When Mr. Barlow said that the IAFF orally reports to the board from time to time, but does not present the Board with a written annual report, Mrs. Ealey-Cross retorted, “It seems to me if we’re being asked to pay people to do certain things for us we should be asking them to give us at least annual updates as to their progress. If we’re paying for something we need to see results.”

At certain points, Village Manager Bill Barlow appeared a bit flustered by Trustee Ealey-Cross’s onslaught of requests and questions. In the middle of taking note of another of her contract requests, Mrs. Ealey-Cross waved a sheet of paper in Mr. Barlow’s direction. It was an advance copy of each of her requests for information.

The move prompted some snickering from the audience, punctuating what may have appeared to be mere grandstanding or showboating if Trustee Ealey-Cross’s actions hadn’t yielded such obvious results.

Outside of Trustee Ron Rivers’s sensible concern regarding the Village’s monthly maintenance fee of $19,390 to Current Technologies to maintain cameras that are “down very, very severely,” Trustee Ealey-Cross presented the only significant scrutiny of an omnibus agenda that comprised more than $2 million in Village expenditures.

Ealey-Cross’s pulling of item ‘AA’ (a motion “to authorize the execution of a negotiated light duty policy for union members of the Fire Department”) from the massive omnibus agenda enabled Trustee Rivers to inquire as to what “light duty” actually entailed. In fact, there was such confusion about the issue that the Board unanimously motioned to table the issue for further discussion at an LLOC meeting.

This confusion was extremely revealing, since its reasonable to assume that had Trustee Ealey-Cross not pulled item ‘AA’ from the omnibus agenda, the Board would’ve voted on its approval despite not really knowing much about the matter. This begs the question of how much the Board actually knows about the very payments it approves. And if it doesn’t know much, why does it routinely elect to approve these payments in massive omnibus agendas that effectively preempt any kind of detailed discussion of each item?

When Trustee Ealey-Cross requested a copy of the contract for Hackie Cement Corporation, which was to be paid $29,890 for sewer collapse repair, she was told that the Village did not issue one to the company. “It’s on a timely and material basis. It’s outlined in the invoice,” said Mr. Barlow. “The invoice serves as the contract in this case,” attorney Michael Jurusik said.

Mr. Barlow informed the Board that the Village waives the bid process for emergency services, which is why there was no contract. But if emergency services are consistently going to one company, doesn’t the frequency of service provided and amount of money paid out constitute at least an implied agreement of regular service?

“May I ask for an overview of how much we’ve spent with this company so far?” said Trustee Ealey-Cross.

If her findings show that Hackie was being paid to do emergency sewer service on a regular basis, then it would be reasonable to conclude that the Village has been contracting emergency sewer services with a company without a sufficient written contract laying out terms and conditions.

“I’ve seen their name on the agenda several times and the amounts haven’t been minimum. I’m always concerned about inferior quality of products and services, so without a contract […]” she said.

The discussion ended with Mr. Barlow consenting to lay out the typical terms of a contract with Hackie, Mr. Jurusik suggesting a bid process be setup for next year’s emergency services and Trustee Ealey-Cross suggesting that a procurement officer be hired to negotiate contracts on behalf of the entire Village.

“Are we considering that in the future to reduce our costs? Because if each department is out negotiating on its own, are we getting the best deal?” said Ealey-Cross.

“We can put it on our future LLOC agenda,” Mr. Barlow consented.

One may have wondered, as all this was transpiring, whether the soothsaying of Gary Woll echoed in the heads of the other trustees. “She will destroy your board,” Mr. Woll told them before Mrs. Ealey-Cross’s appointment. Considering the impressive results of her destructiveness, however, one begins to think that Mr. Woll may have been on to something. VFP

Board Votes Unanimously to Bring in Office of Independent Inspector General

By Michael Romain

TUESDAY, MAYWOOD — The ordinance to establish an office of independent inspector general (OIG) in Maywood was passed unanimously in an omnibus agenda at the July 16th board meeting. The measure was nondescript–merely item ‘K’ among seventeen other items for consideration, including a range of payments to contractors, a proposal from a contractor for water leak detection services and a “Brokers representation agreement for sale of certain surplus property.” Maywood joins Dolton as one of the first Cook County suburbs to experiment with the new OIG service. Advocates believe it will be a useful tool for fighting widespread suburban corruption, much of which may be going unnoticed due to lack of institutional oversight.

The rather placid omnibus vote stood in stark relief to the OIG’s somewhat controversial introduction more than two weeks ago by Mayor Perkins, who had placed it on the July 2nd board meeting agenda apparently without notifying the trustees ahead of its inclusion. The Mayor said that she’d introduced the ordinance on behalf of a group of citizens who’d brought it to her. She also noted that it was legally within her power to place the item on the agenda without it first going up for discussion in an Legal, License and Ordinance Committee (LLOC) meeting.

The trustees, while generally supportive of the measure, indicated that they would nonetheless want to discuss it at an LLOC meeting. “I’d mentioned to the village manager that, to me, this is a good deal […] but normally we have a discussion period where we’d be able to ask you questions, but we just found out that it was on the agenda […] normally at an LLOC, we chew on things,” said Trustee Ron Rivers. Trustee Audrey Jaycox explained that her reasoning for delaying a vote on the ordinance was “because usually we try to contact the other communities to see what their issues are and to see what their concerns are.”

The delay by the board in approving the ordinance when Mayor Perkins introduced it caused some consternation among residents during the public comment portion of the July 10th LLOC meeting, where the matter was brought up for further deliberation.”I’m trying to figure out why there would even be a question why we should invite the Cook County sheriff into town,” said Heather Stelnicki.

The Board may have helped to arouse this chorus of frustration in some of their reasons for delaying the July 2nd vote, an action which was not unreasonable in and of itself. For instance, Trustee Jaycox, making about-face to the concerns she mentioned on July 2nd, said at a later date that she and her fellow trustees were not at all “blindsided” by the ordinance inclusion in the agenda. In fact, she noted, they were informed of the item at least one week in advance of the July 2nd meeting, thereby betraying the possibility that they had ample time to evaluate the OIG matter and begging the question of why due diligence could not be done in the week leading up to the vote.

At the July 10th LLOC meeting, Trustee Dorris made a vague request to Cara Smith, Sheriff Tom Dart’s chief of policy, for data that “would be proof of whether or not this is effective.” But the OIG ordinance’s effectiveness can’t be sufficiently demonstrated by data (which, in any event, wouldn’t be available at such a nascent stage in the measure’s existence); rather, the test of its effectiveness is demonstrated by more intangible factors, such as whether or not its inclusion in the Village’s oversight process presents a suitable deterrent to corruption and whether its presence helps to restore citizens’ trust and confidence in their local government.

In another instance, Ms. Jaycox said that it appeared that the suburban OIG’s were only setting up in “highly populated minority areas,” an issue that had no immediate relevance to the vetting process, since the OIG’s are only established in communities where they’ve been invited. Moreover, the sheriff’s office sent out letters announcing its newfound OIG services to all Cook County suburbs, indiscriminate of their demographic compositions, racial or otherwise. That the OIGs (in the outset at least) have been established almost exclusively in minority communities is either coincidence or the symptom of a much larger societal problem that won’t be justly explored in the setting of an LLOC or village board meeting.

The most pointed concerns about the proposal were, for the most part, procedural and they were discussed at length by attorney Michael Jurusik and Village manager Bill Barlow. If anything, the board’s delay shored up time for the two men to deliberate on, and attend to, the technical complications that might arise with implementing the ordinance. Mr. Barlow explained in print that,

“The one reservation I have is in relation to the role of internal affair [sic] investigations by the Police Department management of officer conduct. I believe that it is essential from a general responsibility standpoint and from credibility that the Village should reserve the ability to conduct internal affairs investigations of police officer conduct. I am also concerned about the timing implications for investigations of police officers (since we cannot be certain how long the County’s investigation will take) in relation to limits on such investigations in the rules and regulations of the Department and union contracts.”

He suggested that the OIG office only “conduct internal affairs investigations” of Village police officers “in the event that the complaining party is not satisfied with the results of the Police Department’s investigation” and refers the matter to the sheriff’s department.

Mr. Jurusik elaborated on his proposed changes at the July 16th board meeting after some residents complained that he hadn’t publicly presented the modifications he’d made with the sheriff’s office, as he said he would. At the July 10th LLOC, Mr. Jurusik said that the ordinance, as originally written, needed “a little tweaking,” before agreeing to meet with Ms. Smith to draft a revised version that would address his concerns. These revisions he agreed should be made public and encouraged anyone who wanted to see a redlined version of the ordinance to request it from the clerk’s office.

Mr. Jurusik pointed out, line-by-line, the revisions he made in collaboration with the sheriff’s department. Notably, the revised ordinance designates that the OIG “shall serve for an initial term of two (2) years and may be reappointed thereafter for successive two (2) year terms.” Mr. Jurusik revised the initial term to one year and for the board review process to occur on a “year-to-year” basis to accommodate for any outside costs it would incur due to the Village’s cooperation with the OIG.

Mr. Jurusik also revised page 3, section 4 of the original draft, which states that the OIG shall have the power and authority “to receive and register complaints concerning Misconduct in the operation of Village government, including but not limited to Misconduct of contractors, vendors, and professional service providers who furnish goods and services to the Village.”

“I wanted to make sure that the sheriff and Village cooperate with different investigations,” he said. “The sheriff may investigate something that doesn’t rise to the level where it’s a criminal act, but it may rise to the level where Village employees need to be disciplined.”

He explained that he wanted to ensure that the separate investigative authority of the OIG office did not clash with the Village’s disciplinary authority, which is often subject to collective bargaining complications. For instance, union employees are entitled to due process before any disciplinary action is taken. Mr. Jurusik brought up the case of former Deputy Police Chief Brian Black, who recently pled guilty to obstruction of justice. The Village elected to place Mr. Black on paid suspension until the matter was resolved in court, “because if he was innocent, he would’ve been entitled to backpay.” VFP

The next article in this series on the new OIG ordinance will answer some FAQ’s and discuss the proposal’s origins.