Seems Village Hall Just Can’t Rid Itself of Rybak’s Ghost

It was a relative common fact that former Midlothian Mayor Sharon Rybak would be the composer and distributor of agendas.

When looking at the back-end of the agenda posted for tomorrow’s meeting under the administration of Village Clerk Allen Moskal…take a look who the author of the document is…

Someone’s computer still has Rybak’s user name all over the place……

That means that it is possible someone either inherited the computer she was working off of…or there are multiple computer’s that have Rybak listed as the user…

That would be a Tech Committee thing, I suppose.


An AMP PSA: Committee Meetings Are Definitely Worth Watching

As I continue to freshly remind myself of so many nuances to Midlothian politics across the spectrum, the challenge of sourcing materials at any given moment has been part of my own challenge as to what the heck I am hoping to toss into the Advanced Midlothian Politics group on Facebook and in this group over the next few weeks in ways that can and will benefit the public discourse, especially when confronted with a “he said, she said” moment.

But in the meantime, I figured a sidetrack towards the future was called for.  Too often, people will only consider attending a regular Board meeting or Special meeting–the type of meeting that has the potential for a vote to occur, thinking nothing of great importance can ever happen at a committee meeting.  However, it is during a Committee meeting that some measure of reasoning and rational will most likely be revealed as part of the discussion process over a topic they cannot vote on that night.

Also, because of this inability for the Board to vote on anything, it’s also a great time to voice support or opposition to something on the agenda, as the Board will have more time to take your points into consideration compared to the moments right before a vote is scheduled to take place.

It’s a perfect time for you to spend time prior to the meeting thinking through what you would like the Board to hear.  Keep a piece of paper and pen handy for notes on what you might want to say.  You don’t have to write out your thoughts to be read aloud verbatim, but you have that option.  Keep them as short as possible, preferably under 3 minutes.  There will always be time for follow-up after the meeting to further explain your points but remember that the Board can legally decide to extend the time if there is constructive conversation occurring, especially if it there is a time-sensitive issue.

There’s a regularly scheduled Committee meeting tomorrow night at Village Hall at 7:00 p.m.  While I know there will be video available after the meeting for people to watch, I wonder how many will decide to go so they can listen first-hand to their government officials conducting the public’s business during a public meeting…let alone who might speak up about something important to them.

Click here to see the agenda for the March 21, 2018 regular Village of Midlothian Committee meeting.

Opinion-filled Notes Re: March 14, 2018 Midlothian Regular Board Meeting

One Old School Opinionated and Biased Nitpicking Session Over the Village Midlothian Regular Board Meeting held March 14, 2018 by Midwestern Valerie

***Note to new readers:  When I used to publish to the Advanced Midlothian Politics group on a regular and sometimes exclusive basis, the group and I fell into an “after meeting habit” so to speak.  I was the only person video taping board meetings and would typically hurry home to not only upload the video as quickly as possible, but to produce a series of apolitical and neutral posts about items talked about at the meeting.  Initially, I would publish the notes as one post but it seemed to make it awkward for people to talk about any singular issue without possibly being dragged into another issue in the post.  I thought about posting each of the items listed below as singular posts, but there are some bigger points to be discussed besides any one topic brought up at the meeting and it was important for me to show just how many different thoughts can cross one’s mind when watching a Village of Midlothian board meeting.  I tried to come up with headlines for all of the points of interest I noted, but ran out of originality.***

Hot mics can create hot messes:  From zero to 1 minute and 26 seconds, one can catch quite a few pieces of conversations flowing from those with a microphone in front of them, namely our core government officials.  I can only hope no one on the Board has ever cared if any recording device picked up any of their conversation prior to the start of a meeting.

It’s Here, It’s Gone, It’s Back Again…and Hmmm…Nothing Really New:  Until former Mayor Sharon Rybak stopped the practice, previous Mayors would recognize those in attendance with a municipal or local organization or group.  When Rybak stopped the practice a few years ago, she ended up deciding it wasn’t important to ask if anyone wanted the public to know they were in attendance at the meeting…but that was just a small part of her communications consolidation power play.

Current Mayor Gary L’Heureux reinstated the practice near the beginning of his administration last year.  So why does it seem there are no new attendees at these meetings now being hosted by L’Heureux wanting to go on record as being in physical attendance?  I would like to think at least the President of the Chamber of Commerce and maybe a school board member or even township member would want to show up every now and again as a Civic Duty Shoutout on how to lead by example on ways people can become civically involved.

Another Here, Gone, Back Again Notation:  I can’t remember every detail to the history of the use of the Consent Agenda, but especially under Rybak, the proper adoption procedures were never truly followed on a significant number of them.  For example, the entire document is supposed to be offered up as an exhibit for public record purposes as to what the Board is specifically voting on and too often, the Consent Agenda was never read out loud into the record at a meeting, thus creating an artificial need for the document to be located to learn of what was on the list for approval.  Now there are parliamentary procedures that allow for a suspension of this rule about reading the document out loud and accept it in only its written form, but that’s part of what was not always followed.  Just like with ordinances that technically are supposed to either be read out loud or a vote must be taken to skip over that particular part.  At least L’Heureux read the list out loud into the record…for this meeting.  Haven’t had time to check other meetings from the past few months.

Onward Into A Cloud of Due Diligence Doubt:  On the agenda, line item #11 states that 3 “radar signs” will be purchased from Elan City.  According to a website claiming to be for Elan City, they are “experts at radar speed signs.”  Gotta love how an actual product name would help someone review the Village’s judgment about the purchase without someone having to ask for answers first on what exactly is being referenced here.  This is a traditional reflection of a blatant lack of basic record-keeping standards being presented from the Clerk’s Office…even when Rybak was doing Kohlstedt’s job back during her tenure.

A Generic Gab Session Results In No Assurances:  The Village council chambers went under major scrutiny for a minor period of time when it came to whether or not the room was in compliance with Village code.  It was determined that it was not and certain steps were taken to address a few issues left behind by one of Schavone’s more notable Political Sins, namely that of the overspending on the project as reported by the major media and the actual results that remain left behind due to his overseeing the project.

The way agenda item #3 reads, it is very confusing, so imagine my relief when Trustee Donald Killelea asked Trustee Carl Ivan for clarity on what the Village was being billed on an itemized level and whether or not it would fix the “problem.”  He seemed curious about not being able to review an itemized bill for himself.  Ivan responded with a comment that both Fire Chief Stephen Hotwagner and Building Superintendent William “Billy” DeSimone had seen the list and everything was “okay.”

This seemed to satisfy Killelea’s curiosity, but everyone else is still left with questions about silly little things…like are we talking about replacing the missing door to the right of the conference room stairs that leads to the bathrooms or is there a different door needing to be purchased?  And just because these two department heads thought the invoices looked okay, why did Killelea quit on wanting to see a simple document that should have been presented to the Board in the Board packet…unless the invoice itself was written quite generically…the key to the whole confusion is Killelea’s question “This will solve all our problems” and Ivan confidently responding with a “Yes.”  What problems…

Good For Gillis To Make Note Of Where the Bucks Are Coming From To Pay A Bill:  The money for the LED lighting upgrades for the two fire stations in Midlothian was mostly courtesy of a grant from ComEd and that the Village was paying for what wasn’t covered by the grant.  They deserve economic credit when such is due.  Grants to the Village matter a great deal and are a critical component of its future survival and revival.  There should be a list of grants that have been given to the Village maintained on the website at all times…whoops!  There’s that spoiled brat in me expecting too much  behavioral changes out of Government.

P.S.  Still would love to see what ComEd could design to light up flood-prone areas of the Village and possibly contributing to the upgrade via some mechanism that elevates the Village’s position as a RainReady community, among other numerous benefits of better lighting in public areas, including side streets.  We’d make a great prototype place for them to imagine up some creative solutions…

“Move Aside, Attorney That I Called Upon!  I Am Asking A Question” Moment: L’Heureux has extensive exposure to parliamentary law and Open Meetings Act points of violation, much gathered while in the role of Trustee, but some possibly as far back as the late 1990’s and then growing through the curves specific to Midlothian.  L’Heureux asks the Attorney if he can discuss something about a point made by Gillis and before Village Attorney Nick Valadez can get more than an “ummm…” out, L’Heureux dismisses him with a statement, “Whatever.  I’ll ask anyways.”


It’s not like L’Heureux suddenly remembered the rules, he made it clear he didn’t care to wait even 5 seconds to find out if what he was doing was appropriate based on the opinion of Valadez, the person he turned to for the answer.  Why bother asking him a question and then so boldly dismiss it’s relevance and importance?  While he did open the floor to discussion about items on the Consent Agenda and while Gillis did present his own questions about a specific line item, I’ve always been quite confused as to when and where a Mayor can just jump right in and say what is on their minds.  I’ve seen many different kinds of displays over the years.  Plus, I am curious as to how Valadez would have answered the question.

Interesting Question Caused By the Mayor: What Are the Formal Procedures For Securing Contract Work With the Village?:  The question L’Heureux wanted an answer to whether or not a vendor was brought to the Village’s attention via ComEd and Gillis mentioned the Village had used them before.  With calibration issues still residing with why Robinson Engineering still seems to receive so much contract work as a corporation, when they are merely representative of acting as the Village Engineer.  Things that probably should be shared with a wider audience are not necessarily seeping its way fair and square into the broader marketplaces involving government contracts.

L’Heureux then went on to state that he received 2 calls from people who wanted a “piece of the pie” when they saw it listed on the agenda.  Gillis mentioned he reached out to another vendor about their possibly doing the work, but its L’Heureux who hasn’t been able to inspire anyone to initiate a section on the Village website immediately listing any and all opportunities for 3rd party individuals to offer up promotional materials and possible solutions…let alone not one newsletter, electronic or paper, coming from the L’Heuruex administration since he took office.  He needs to call those two companies back and tell them because of their interest, he became inspired to initiate an initiative to ensure all economic opportunities are listed in its most usable and accessible format possible…but the calls will never happen, nor the initiative, so I’m not going to hold my breath with this particular matter being improved upon any time soon.

Couzin’s Midlothian Offered Expansion Opportunity For Its Brand of Fun and Entertainment:  Trustee Karen Kreis asked the board for approval of a Redevelopment Agreement (RDA) between the Village and Couzin’s Midlothian that has been worked on since October 2017.   The property next to the existing Couzin’s (formerly MidVilla’s Pizza) on 147th is owned by the Southland Land Bank and Development Authority and assuming the owner of Couzin’s follows through on closing on the property, a building sitting vacant for at least 7 years will be able to provide an even broader audience the food and fun that comes with the Couzin’s name.  Plus, it would also make Couzin’s even more ADA friendly…and their live acoustic music performances on a Sunday summers Eve can be a tremendous respite and oasis from the regular stresses of life as everyone is always welcome to join in the jams…and they do!  So if everything works out according to the RDA, the Village will soon be benefitting from both property tax income and sales tax income.  Kreis made the motion and Killelea seconded the motion.

We Interrupt the Meeting for A Technical Discussion:  With only minor hesitation, micro management watchdog Trustee Kathleen Caveney called for a moment of clarity as to whether or not the document they were voting on was The Redlined Version, or something to that effect.  Insider humor aside, Caveney asked Kreis why she didn’t distribute The Redlined Version to the Board and Kreis made point that if she wanted a copy of that version, she could have asked for it.

This is the kind of stuff my administrative assistant ears tend to perk up on when being discussed in detail.

Caveney went on to sternly make a point of the difficulties for a group of people to know not only what version of a document they are looking at, but yes, knowing exactly what was changed from the prior documents and what was left alone.  Caveney’s point was that by standardizing the use of a Microsoft Word tracking feature that draws literal red lines through deletions and also provides red text for anything newly added (color scheme flexible), it allows for a reviewer to quickly check on what was altered rather than demanding a full review of the entire content in search of what may or may not have changed since the last time it was read.

This feature does allow for a new version to be created from a redlined one and Caveney’s call for a redlined version of documents to be distributed does allow for a reviewer to eliminate the markings at any point once they’ve received it.  Then Attorney Valadez mentions The Final Redline Version is separate from The Final Version, which is a no-duh and had nothing to do with her call for protocols to be put in place, which Caveney calls him out on.

Caveney then informally polled the Board as to whether or not they compared the document in front of them to the last document they reviewed prior to the meeting and after a few seconds of silence, she claims that she’ll take their silence as a no.  L’Heureux calls out to two-time Deputy Clerk Maria Kolacki and then looks at Caveney while restating her request to be a matter of including a redline version with emails and a final version with the Board packet to be absent of redlining.

Once again Attorney Valadez jumps in with statement that what the Board is voting on is not the redlined version.  After Caveney tried to reiterate her point, L’Heureux suggests that all voting members get the redlined version and the Clerk will get the clean version and Kolacki quickly jumps in with a “fine,” which its not…so let’s see if I can frame it better.

Two files get sent in the board packet.  The last redline version leading up to the clean version being voted on by the board and the clean version being voted on.  You can even tag the files with “Final Redline Version” and “Final Board Approval Version” or something to that effect.

So I think I can understand why Caveney decided to quit trying to explain both versions needed to be sent to the board members at the same time AND while the versions were being worked on, the redline version would be the standard default file format that a reader can then opt to change.  And why would the Mayor recommend giving the Board a false document as the only document to the voting members of the Board, let alone the Deputy Clerk having authority to okay the procedure?

And where was Clerk Allen Moskal in all of this?  Sitting right next to the Mayor, mouth closed. No public statement on how the records of the Village should be kept and distributed on his watch.  Watch for Caveney to cry foul again and under what circumstances.  It would be a new habit for everyone to acquire and while it’s a quality control point worth fighting for, it looks like Upper Front Office Management just doesn’t understand its value to the voting members of the Board.  Perhaps they think the whole process is crazy to begin with…you know…the idea of Board members actually knowing what is being put before them to sign with their votes…especially anything that might have been changed?

And Now the Couzin’s Vote:  With a booming “No,” Trustee Carl Ivan became the only Trustee to vote against the Couzin’s RDA, thus approving its ratification.  That deserves a phone call as to why, but it’s Sunday.

And Then a Non-Velvet Hammer Dropped:  After the vote was finalized, Attorney Valadez decided to request that the Mayor not sign the document until after the developer does, assigning his reasoning to the issue Caveney had just brought up as well as some other generic citation of past issues as part of an apparently new policy to prevent the Village from having documents with empty signature slots.

That’s extra hysterical considering Valadez still has the problem of empty signature slots sitting on hundreds of building inspection reports.

I wonder if he’s been reading too much Stormy-related materials and is trying to protect only the Mayor with his policy request, rather than truly having the Village’s best interests at heart.  Kreis went along with it, and it has limited merit, but excuse my cherry-picking at this particular scab of mine.

Why is it such the challenge to have the Mayor and the signers in the same room together when most of these RDA’s have relatively local ownership, or at least formal representation…?  That was also a Rybak habit as well, although Rybak once showed up to pick up a check so she could flash it at a Board meeting that she got it.  Ahhh…the lack of consistent pageantry, presentation and protocol when signing an agreement with the Village…but boy will the President of the Village take credit for the accomplishment beyond it happening on his watch.

Communications Sent To Kreis Update:  One habit of Trustee Kreis continues to be her habit of reading some letter or email into the public record from some government unit or company involved with the Village, thus sparing everyone the FOIA request to become aware of the information.  This time around it was from the South Suburban Land Bank updating her about a recent legal outcome regarding an abandoned property here in Midlothian.  The status of various properties around the Village can be a hot topic online, especially in social media circles and Kreis is someone who has been known to volunteer this type of information at a meeting from time to time.

Speaking of documents needing signatures:  According to Trustee Kreis, The Invest in Cook Application for the Phase I Engineering of Natalie Creek was due Friday, March 16, 2018 and that the Mayor and the Clerk had documents that needed to be signed and scanned.  I wonder if they made the deadline…

Active RainReady supporter and owner of Grill’s Hardware, Dale Terhaar, 53, passed away.  Terhaar and the Village worked hard to improve the property over the past few years, including Terhaar agreeing to host the first large-scale rain garden in Midlothian.  His relationship with his staff and the community was evident through more than just investing money into his business prospects, he invested in people and legacy as I got to discover through the RainReady side of Midlothian.  He will be missed.

Calling All Techies:   According to Trustee Carl Ivan, the Technology Committee is actively seeking new members and asked people to contact him.  Was that via phone, email, YouTube or Facebook?

A “Nothing To Report” Entry Into the Records:  Killelea had nothing to report.

New Rule, Old Funding Approach?:  Trustee Sandy Crowley brought up information sent to board regarding a proposed Capital Fund ordinance and a Traffic Enforcement ordinance.  Police Chief Daniel “Dan” Delaney and Attorney Nick Valadez are putting together a fee schedule for the Board’s review at the next Committee meeting and she hope’s it can be voted on at the next Board meeting.

Old Building, Partial Structure Audit:  Initial audit of structural/building problems with the police department side of the Village Hall building.  Both written documentation and pictures were to be forwarded to the board for review.

Map overlay of Village owned property and Park District property delivered to Village by South Suburban Mayors and Managers Association (SSMMA).

Old Building, Still New Problems:  Fire Department wall came crumbling down this week.  There is also an issue with wall in the Public Works building.

Zing-A-Ling, No Gavel Needed:  While only the Mayor can give permission for an audience member to speak once public comments are closed, Gillis Sr. questioned who is in the Building Department if DeSimone was on vacation.  He started by asking how much vacation time does he get, which then segwayed into a pitch for getting the burned out property cleaned up quickly because it is “deplorable.”  He then claimed that the Building Department has been dragging its feet.  L’Heureux then interrupted with a comment about how he thought Gillis Sr.’s comment would be a brief comment.  He then invited Sr. to talk during the President’s portion of the meeting to move the meeting along.

Raising Midlothian’s State of RainReadiness To Another Stage:  Public Works Superintendent Joe Sparry announced that financing has been approved for the Phase II MWRD RainReady/Natalie Creek project.  The current estimated timeline is as follows: publish project on May 9, 2018, pre-bid walk-through May 22, 2018, bid opening June 26, 2018, contractor award September 6, 2018, completion of construction September 18, 2020.

Uncommonly Shared Litigation Information Released:     According to Attorney Nick Valadez, there is a Release and Settlement agreement for Mayor’s signature to end litigation.  My memory isn’t perfect, but I can’t remember former Village Attorney William “Bill” Gleason ever doing that.  Hmmmm…

We Interrupt This Ending With a Highly Questionable Political Campaign Ad Insertion During President’s Business:   So while the content is a little muddled, apparently  2 judges running for the Circuit Court were in attendance at the meeting and the spokesperson(?) wanted L’Heureux to know they were grateful that he had the regularly scheduled board meeting…?  Cancelling meetings is not a L’Heureux habit…a Rybak or an Eric Kellogg habit maybe, but not a L’Heureux.  But he certainly asked for everyone to say “Hi” to them.  Why they spoke at the end of the meeting rather than at the beginning is beyond me as they are off camera and didn’t notice anyone walk into the meeting while watching the video.

Need To Think Through Further Topics

Class 8 testimony

Partial Annexation of Unincorporated property via Emergency Response Contract

Status of Burned-Out Building Still Left Standing on 147th.

Alleged illegal dumping by contractors/insurance company

CRS rating:  Approved at a 7 by May?

Reviewed appellate brief for South Suburban Joint Action Water Agency (SSJAWA) and Valadez is “confident” the appellate court will affirm the lower court’s decision in favor of the Village of Midlothian.

Donna Mazalin given notice of cancellation of contract, which gives 30 days to finish everything up and turn everything over to Treasurer Mary “Maggie” Britton.

Happy 91st Birthday Midlothian!

A True Community Policing Clarification In Note Form

***Note to Midlothian Valerie readers – While I have not been involved with Midlothian for a few months now, I do miss the times I would sit down with no structural rules to the content and if it became a ramble, then so be it…but it would be off to the world of Midlothian politics and its scenery  The point of those efforts was not for me to craft something that would specifically appeal to the widest audience possible, rather it was a matter of emptying my own thoughts onto the screen and then wondering if even one person was going to understand even one portion of what I wrote.  It was my chance to rebel against boundaries I set for myself when it came to my own publishing habits and the subsequent effects of such compositions being published.

I haven’t written an intentional ramble in quite a while, so if you’re looking for short and sweet, this isn’t the post for you.  If you’re looking for an aged and experienced opinion of community policing in Midlothian, then you might want to scan your way through it.

Either way, thank you for still using the site as a reference point for a part of the history of Midlothian you just can’t get anywhere else.


For the second time in my life, I had someone say to me that “my kind of Community Policing” was not logistically possible.

It is true that anyone can lay claim to the phrase “Community Policing” and then applying their own definitions to it.  It’s not a trademarked term and was originally intended on being a catch-all container for other communities to build around.

But a city or a town laying claim to possessing a True Community Policing principle in its community comes with certain mandatory protocols–otherwise the act of policing of the community quickly becomes filled with such great and grave injustices, a state of peace cannot be discerned from the chaos created by so many realities being of true representation of a negative experience being unresolved.

Whenever I made a statement in the past that the Village of Midlothian does not have a true community policing program, it came absent of any expectations except for the most basic of basics to be present, that of a government entity willing, able and encouraging of a thorough policing of itself at all levels.

Without this element of unfettered and unrestricted access to elements such as a truth-filled and up-to-date municipal code book being distributed to the public online, the government entity is not permitting “community” policing.  They are only permitting and encouraging the policing as suggested by that book, and any other book of laws influencing a geographical location and “Surprise!”

But it is more than just a book of laws being available to the public in any capacity.  When access to justice is obstructed through a series of “whoops” events in which government is constantly and even predictably given extraordinary latitude while expecting strict adherence by anyone outside of this privileged circle, penalties matter.

Fine a citizen and the system works…theoretically.  Fine a government entity and the system can potentially break immediately, such as with an SEC fine or even the fines that are supposed to come with anyone who fails to abide by OMA laws.  All of a sudden, the totality of ones life comes into play while the citizen who was fined had to take the hit regardless of lifetime accomplishment.  Depending on the government person, they might even ride the wave of controversy straight into a flush bank account.  Huh?  How is that providing citizens tools designed and intended to provide balance upon demand and command?

Crimes committed by a person of government have always come with a special class of citizenship…a class that comes with its own set of rules that traditionally has voraciously and even viciously blackmailed the system into accepting.  Punish the government person and the taxpayer loses something.

No wonder so many people are still fearful of reporting wrong-doings of any level to so many communities claiming to have a handle and a grip on what it means to be a True Community Policing community, especially when the “See something, say something” filter is applied to ones environment.  Videos of every meeting published online.  No excuses.  Websites for all municipal units.  Agendas on time on website.  No excuses.  Meeting minutes done in a speedy and accurate manner.  No excuses.  All can be done for next to no cost.  Municipal code books published.  No excuses.  Date and time stamps on all documents.  No excuses.

That’s “my kind of Community Policing.”

In other words, my theory is that if government wants authority to do whatever they want to justify to theoretically protecting you from me, then I retain my always existing authority to do whatever is legally allowed to protect myself from who knows what government will come up with next to justify who knows what.

And until a government unit in its entirety, from top to bottom, can stop itself from panic attack after panic attack over something being released to the public that can be damaging and damning, there can be no True Community Policing program open to one and all equally at all times.

All it continues to be is a government sweep of the community using paid and unpaid agents to report back on what the government wants to crack down on while protecting itself from challenges to its judgment calls.

Selling people on a concept of “Community Policing” can always go horribly wrong, as it did back in the second world war, with people reporting people to authorities that resulted in medical boards consisting of three people and a red pencil deciding who lived and who died.  And one need not limit themselves to this mass scale event to see other ways mankind has deputized itself to perform

From the first moment I heard from a government employee “we don’t want your kind of Community Policing” all those years back, I knew there would be problems getting the municipal code book updated, let alone establishing a formal complaint system with various entry points so that one could critique any government person and there would be protection not from a signed promise, but a culture in practice of not worrying about who made the complaint or filed the concern.

So when I heard it come from a different government person last week and what they thought I was expecting when I critiqued the Village on its Community Policing program, I gave them the simplified version of this post.

For all who have not a clue what I am talking about…

For well over 10 years, I put these principles into action and both of these government people benefitted from the videos online, my filings with the PAC office and Dart’s office, published research, etc. let alone the constructive conversations that were held based on what the public was being asked to believe to be the truth at any given moment and my presenting it for consideration by the public.

This is just a really short follow-up note to provide more clarity into what goes through my mind when I think about anyone’s “Community Policing” program…let alone the one in Midlothian.  In my experienced opinion, It’s not just about staying alert, its what you are being expected to stay alert for and what you are supposed to do if you think you see something someone else needs to know about.

As a survivor of sexual assault by a former member of our military, I am always hyper-alert to how open and closed organizations are when it comes to their responsibilities and rights in policing themselves, especially a government unit.  And when a government unit goes out of its way to protect documents of any kind, including meeting minutes and agendas, that’s not healthy for anyone other than the insiders who are busy trading on the information and leaving everyone else out of the equations and their mental accounting.  It’s extra insidious when integrity elements like date and time stamps are left off of reports, receipts, etc.  That’s cyber-grade stuff.

Lastly, I get it that not many are going to “like” my kind of community policing, especially because I don’t hold these principles to be true based on some popularity contest telling me this is the way I should view my world around me.  And yet, we hold ourselves to be a nation of laws…where are all of those books located again?

Oh yeah…no one knows for sure.  Not one person can point to a website and say to anyone across the world, “See that?  These are our laws.  All of them.  Here’s the index.” I came the closest in terms of the number of books I located and linked to years ago, but that was a paltry and offensive 40% out of 21,000 municipal units I was able to find over a 3 month period.  And that was excluding libraries, schools, park districts, etc.

The public must be able to effectively police the government entities overseeing their lives at any given moment and in my experienced opinion, when there truly is no all-inclusive “community” coming from a government unit using the phrase “community policing” the phrase is thus rendered false, leaving behind only the “policing” part…and that’s where more otherwise avoidable dangers start manifesting themselves.

That goes for Midlothian, Illinois…or anywhere else on this planet.  But at least our system of government is supposed to have room for necessary mechanisms to be not only put in place for everyone’s protection, but adhered to as well.  That always has been and always will be worth standing up for, let alone fighting for.

Ahhh…the elements of my own existence that I tend to examine and make note of…

P.S.  BTW…in case you haven’t noticed…there are way too many individual municipal units in Cook County doing such piss-poor jobs policing themselves and the state has a chance of having a new Attorney General.

With so much talk about what should be done to government in Springfield, it is a shame none of the candidates are willing to claim they are ready to take on complex cases like the ones in Harvey…let alone what’s been going on in Midlothian.

Quinn couldn’t reign anyone in as governor, like he’s going to go after the habitual OMA violators and hold them accountable.  So what if you took over someone’s seat when someone else left.  The missing municipal code books was announced to the State years ago and there was no initiative to correct this “oversight” not even by the ghost of an Equal Access to Justice commission…or whatever its called nowadays.

Event #26: With SSJAWA, It Only Took Two To Make A Birth Certificate and One was Just Indicted

***The content below the “Problem Behaviors” graphic was originally published on January 22, 2016 as part of an audit of what appeared/s to be the minutes and agendas from the South Suburban Joint Action Water Agency.  The content published below the “Event” graphic was created December 11, 2017***

The problems that ail the nearly defunct South Suburban Joint Action Water Agency, or SSJAWA continues to take a back-burner when it comes to indictments.

One of the key figures in the SSJAWA schematic, Joseph T. Letke, passed away a few years back, leaving behind mountains of questions and molehills of answers in trying to decode exactly what transpired in connection with this particular legal entity once given a stamp of approval from the State of Illinois to act as a Joint Action Water Agency.

So with the City of Harvey’s water woes still being thrashed about in the marketplace, while the City of Chicago holds receivership over Harvey’s water billing and water distribution needs, over time the City of Chicago legal battle revealed enough evidence to begin questioning the timing of the creation of the SSJAWA and if it was intended on being a vehicle to allow the City of Harvey to escape its water debt with Chicago and to start anew with a completely different vendor.

There were only two original member communities with this project, the City of Markham and the Village of Robbins when they created the birth certificate for the legal entity and the invoices and contracts that come with such a birth.

At the first meeting on June 30, 2011, (now former) Village of Robbins Mayor Irene Brodie couldn’t bother herself with such mundane matters and sent Village of Robbins Trustee William “Willie” Carter in her stead to join (now former) City of Markham Mayor David Webb, Jr. to create this corporation in front of 6 other witnesses.

Plausible deniability arguments aside for Brodie, it is the recent Grand Jury indictment against Webb, Jr. alleging a bribery scheme that throws yet another crippling blow towards hope of bringing the original participants of this monstrous collection of falsehoods to a level of perhaps being forced to “settle” with some of what likely were more lower-level players, such as Brett Postl and Odelson.

Letke needed this deal for multiple personal financial dealings…among other things.

Webb, Jr. needed this deal to finally gain total control over all of the waterworks around Markham, rather than being stuck with Harvey as a distributor and MidMark as another distributor in his own backyard.  Putting together something from scratch and then performing a take-over of local water works through bonding methods was a sure-fire way for SSJAWA to keep the heat on anyone wanting to withdraw and thus ensuring at least 8 local water works would belong to one entity.

It will be interesting to see if anything about SSJAWA is drawn out from this particular indictment…Webb has a lot of “evidence” to barter with…if he so chooses…but he might just take the hit as he already called it quits on being Mayor of Markham.

The actual date of conception of the South Suburban Joint Action Water Agency is difficult to pin down exactly as it is likely no public notices or meeting minutes were taken during discussions prior to the legalization of the Agency.  Some suggest the Agency wasn’t formed until at least 2012, but public records clearly indicate the Agency was established just a wee bit earlier than that…and Alsip was nowhere in sight in the beginning (unlike what Mayor Bitchin’ Kitchin’ seems to enjoy leading people to believe).

It all started with a public announcement suggesting the birth of another government unit in Illinois was due to arrive soon in the form of a combined Notice of Meeting and Agenda.

With traditional (and mandated) formality, the notice read “Pursuance to 5 ILCS 220/3.1 the South Suburban Joint Action Water Agency will meet on at 10:30 a.m. on Thursday, June 30, 2011 in the Markham Village Hall second floor meeting room 16316 South Kedzie Parkway Markham Illinois 60428”.  The notice was complete with the signature sloppiness of record-keepers in the southwest suburbs “will meet on at” and included a 17 line-item agenda for the meeting and according to minutes from the meeting on June 30, 2011, the notice was publicly posted on June 28, 2011 in the City Hall of Markham, Illinois and the Village Hall of Robbins, Illinois.

Unfortunately, there is no known video or audio of this meeting, or any meeting for that matter.  Therefore, much of this first part of the story is drawn from details left behind in meeting minutes that were available from one of two websites hosting the SSJAWA logo and content.

To open the celebration, the meeting began at 10:45 a.m. on Thursday, June 30, 2011 and a call was made for everyone present to acknowledge their presence.  The attendee list could easily remind a person of the Genesis flood narative of Noah loading up 2 of each animal onto the Ark prior to the storm.

2 law firms (Burton “Burt” Odelson, Odelson & Sterk, LTD and Michael “Mike” Roth, Ice Miller, LLP), 2 representatives from Post-Yore (Daniel “Dan” Donahue and Brett Postl), 2 representatives from Letke & Associates, Inc. (Joseph “Joe” Letke and David “Dave” Schutter) and 2 municipalities (Mayor David “Dave” Webb, Jr. of Markham and William “Willie” Carter of Robbins on behalf of Mayor Irene Brodie of Robbins).

With Odelson acting as announcer, he read sections from a variety of legal documents, such as City of Markham Ordinance 11-O-1984 and Resolution 11-R-443, Village of Robbins Ordinance 4-26-11C and 5-24-11, the SSJAWA Intergovernmental Agreement v041511 and correspondence regarding the appointment of an Alternate Director.  After he finished, he proceeded to declare the SSJAWA was legally constituted under the laws of the State of Illinois.

To finalize formalities, Odelson administered two oaths of office, one for Webb as Agency Director on behalf of Markham and one for Carter as Agency Alternate Director as a stand-in stuntman for Agency Director and now former Mayor, Irene Brodie on behalf of Robbins.

For much of the meeting, it was nothing more than a love fest for one another, with Webb and Carter alternating as motion-maker and seconded-maker, breezing their way through a series of unanimous votes designed to place the clearly pre-chosen individuals into their now legal capacities.

First came the Agency by-laws (v062711).  Next came the appointments, with Webb taking the Director chair, Carter receiving Chairman status and Brodie being bestowed the title of Vice Chairman.

With the core cast of characters firmly in place, it was time to adopt the first Resolution (2011-R-0001) establishing the regular meeting schedule for 2011 pursuant to Open Meetings Act requirements, which passed unanimously.

Of course, no story is complete without a supporting cast of characters.  Odelson, the announcer of the birth of the agency was picked as General Counsel, Secretary and FOIA Officer (perhaps because he did such a great job with his audition piece at the beginning of the meeting).  It is also likely he was a proficient quick-change artist, which would be needed due to budget constraints for costume department staff members.  These three positions were all unanimously approved in three separate votes.

As reward for his work off-scene, Roth and the firm of Ice Miller, LLP was appointed Special Counsel with the blessing of Odelson preceeding the vote.  Both appointments breezed through the voting process with a yes vote across the board.

In between those choices, the stage was set for the role of villian to be played by none other than Joseph Letke of Letke and Associates.

Letke already had his pocketbook filling up from illegally diverted funds from municipal bond proceeds while serving as Comptroller for the City of Harvey beginning as far back as 2008.  Letke’s firm pocketed not only $547,000 in middle-man fees for advising the suburb on the loans to Harvey but also nearly $270,000 in fees paid to his firm by the developer that were never disclosed to the lenders.

But you’re not supposed to know this at this point in the story so forget I said anything about it for now.  This wasn’t brought to light until the SEC sued Letke in 2014 with the Courts eventually barring him from participating in municipal securities offerings and ordering him to pay over $200,000 (Securities and Exchange Commission v. City of Harvey, Illinois and Joseph T. Letke, United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Civil Action No. 1:14-cv-4744 N.D. Ill., filed June 24, 2014, default judgement announced January 27, 2015)

Back to June 30, 2011.  Letke was already enjoying his positions as Comptroller of multiple municipalities, so it was only natural that such a clear leader in managing money would be appointed as Treasurer of such an important project.  We are talking water here.  So, Letke pulled down the next unanimous vote from the Directors.

Now it was time to dole out the contracts to the rest of the crew in the picture.  Odelson informed the Directors that he had reviewed the professional service agreements in consideration prior to the meeting and found them to be in order.  He also mentioned “…all explicitly state no fees will become due and owing on professional services unless and until an Agency Project is funded.”

Delaying payment on fees for services from the workers is usually a good thing for a project of this size.

First up was the contract for Program Management Agreement with Postl-Yore & Associates, Inc., which passed unanimously.

Next up was the Financial Consulting Services Agreement with Public Funding Enterprises, Inc., which passed unanimously.

Following was the contract with Letke & Associates, Inc for Public Accounting Services.

Lastly, Odelson first took a moment to mention the proposed agreement with his firm was “…similar to the terms and conditions of the Ice Miller, LLP agreement” before the Agency agreed unanimously to award a Legal Services Agreement with Odelson & Sterk, Ltd. and a separate agreement with Ice Miller, LLP

Now that the Big Business was taken care of on the agenda, the Directors opened the floor to public comments, which there were none.  There wasn’t even a need to go into Executive Session.

“Laudatory comments by Mr. Letke and Mr. Odelson on the formation of the agency” were made and Roth was kind enough to remind the Director’s that with that first meeting, the 120 day effective date period had begun and that Agency Members would become Agency Charter Members if the Directors did not extend the effective date period.  Schutter did his best to ensure compliance with public notice laws by confirming a 10 day public notice is a legal requirement for the public hearing on a budget.  Odelson also added he was “…optimistic the Village of Riverdale will act to join the Agency in the coming weeks.”

And on that positive outlook note, Director Webb made the motion to adjourn with Carter seconding the motion.  With a unanimous vote, the meeting was adjourned at 11:15 a.m.

And with that one meeting being started and finished, the takeaway was two southwest suburbs became owners of one newly minted government unit…

The South Suburban Joint Action Water Agency.  Or SSJAWA.  Or JAWA as many municipalities like calling it in their own meeting minutes.

End scene here.  That’s a wrap.

June 30, 2011 Agenda for South Suburban Joint Action Water Agency

June 30, 2011 Meeting Minutes from South Suburban Joint Action Water Agency

Event #27: Jumping Jay “Jack” Hille Leaps To Rescue Family and Friends First

This post is currently under re-construction due to misinformation contained in multiple public records (including government records) being used in this story relating to Jack Hille’s legal name versus a nickname he has been known to go by.

Click here to review disclaimer

Widespread Landlord Failures To Abide By State Statutes In Midlothian

While the Village of Midlothian continues to be in complete and total denial of their ownership and operation of a fraudulent and abusive Crime Free Housing program without hesitation or reservation, a variety of Tenant/Landlord laws continue to be violated on multiple levels (more often than not, regardless of the CFH program), including the excluding of training property owners what their legal obligations to the tenant are based on both State and Federal laws and providing tenants quick relief whenever a landlord is the criminal in the contractual relationship between a tenant and a landlord.

For example, the following laws apply to rental property owners in the State of Illinois:

1. Whenever a tenant pays a portion of a master metered utility, such as water, the landlord must give tenant a copy in writing as either part of the lease or another written agreement defining the formula used by the landlord for distributing the public utility payments among the tenants (765 ILCS 740).

2.  The Landlord must disclose to the tenant that the locks have been re-keyed after a tenant leaves, or in a circumstance in which keys are lost or stolen pursuant to State statute mandate. (765 ILCS 705)

3. The Landlord must advise all tenants of any intent by a utility to shut off water, gas, electric or any other utility service to the property.

4.  Landlords are required to disclose any violations affecting habitability from the past 12 months, whether its a violation of local, State and/or Federal code. This includes the residence and common areas, such as entryways, recreational areas, courtyards, basements, and rooftops.

5.  Utility companies are not allowed to shut off services in the case of nonpayment until they have provided all tenants (in buildings with 3 or more units) a notice warning them of loss of service. (765 ILCS 735)

6.  In the case that the landlord hasn’t paid for utilities, the tenant is allowed to put the service under his or her name and pay for the services. Any payments the tenant makes to the utility company can be deducted from his or her rent. (765 ILCS 735)

7.  Landlords are required to provide tenants the utility bills from the previous 12 months with the rental agreement to serve as an estimate of heating costs.  (765 ILCS 735)

The one that stands out the most on this list for the Village of Midlothian is the one that says that landlords are required to disclose any violations affecting habitability over the past 12 months.  This would mean any failure to pass an inspection at any point in a 12 month period must be revealed to the tenant and with the integrity of the building inspection forms, it would be impossible for a prospective/current renter to be able to tell for sure whether or not there was a violation and if so, whether or not it was repaired.

These are all points of value for not just a prospective renter, but for the Village as well.  The Village desperately needs its tenants being vigilant when it comes to monitoring their landlords and yet the Village makes it excessively difficult to find out even the most basic of information, such as whether or not a property has been certified or not.