The Not Always Admirable Act of “Self-Reporting”

Someone surrendering to the repercussions attached to a judgment they made that was flawed in a prompt manner is an admirable ideal to attach to any structure of government.

Whether it is a citizen self-reporting themselves to a jurisdictional authority or a government official, the idea of “self-reporting” is supposed to carry with it a diffusing effect upon the penalties…and possibly even avoiding any penalties at that.

There has been an outstanding issue surrounding the investment/spending of “Village of Midlothian” bond money acquired over the years, especially in 2009 and beyond, but not entirely as there have been a few more bonds over the years, starting as early as 2005 to cover operating costs of the Village.

So when Mayor Sharon Rybak announced in her Park District brochure attachment that she had “self-reported” herself to the SEC for wrongdoing, alarms went off among some residents who had worked on uncovering the $88,000 spending spree Rybak went out without Board approval.  After reviewing the complaint via FOIA request, it turned out that Rybak had said nothing about her own wrongful spending of bond money to the SEC, thus negating her right to “self-reporting” status as the Mayor of Midlothian with the agency.

There was nothing “self” about it other than another selfish macro-aggression against a Board of Trustees who continue to be forced to confront all sorts of bizarre drama concocted by a group of people that includes Rybak and MidMark Water Commissioner Evelyn Gleason, as evident at last Wednesday’s meeting.

It is clear that Rybak intended on hiding her own actions from the SEC while directing them to use their resources to investigate the generic identities of “4 of the 6 Trustees.”  This makes some sense, as it was a gamble to see if it would go long enough under the radar to have the outcome exonerate Rybak before it came to light what she herself had done without any evidence or identities as to who did what.

Enter former Oak Forest Fire Chief Lindsey Laycoax.  Back in the mid-2000’s, when he was also a District 142 Board member, “rumors” began to “swirl” around the spending and loaning habits of Laycoax in his position as Fire Chief.

Through the pursuit of investigation into Rybak’s behaviors, it was made clear that there were a variety of localized jurisdictions available and appropriate for her own alleged misspending of funds.  With Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart’s office having been in the forefront of the battle against corrupt government officials in the southwest suburbs long before Laycoax ever performed these acts of wrongness, that would have been the appropriate step to take in the process of his desire to self-report his behaviors.

But which has more weight?  Having an investigation performed by Sheriff Dart and his being found to be wrong like Rybak or the FBI not performing an investigation because the grounds do not reach the “threshold” for an investigation to be called, thus allowing him to lay claim that the FBI chose to not pursue charges and allowing everyone to assume he has been thus exonerated from all charges?

Self-reporting sometimes means you have to take a hit for your judgment.  It is not a free pass to do whatever you want and then expect everyone to let it go because you had the courage to admit you did it in the first place.  Rybak has done nothing of her own free will to admit to the open public she was wrong for spending $88,000 in bond money but expects the public to respect and honor her for her “courage” to “self-report” the Village about such a sensitive and raw subject here in Midlothian.  She admitted her behaviors to Dart’s office but not the SEC.  That’s not self-reporting.

That’s selfishlessly abusing taxpayer resources to create a defense against her own wrongdoings by calling upon multiple jurisdictions to help her write the documents that eventually would give her the fairy tale ending she thinks is at the end of her rainbow she sees shining across Midlothian at the end of her tenure.

With Laycoax, he managed to somewhat poison any further investigation into the matter due to the FBI already spending time and resources looking into what he did and their determination it didn’t reach federal violation standards.  Just starting a new investigation doubles up on costs while doubling down on a 19 or 20 in a game of 21 and costs are always calculated into the value of whether or not a matter should be investigated in the first place.

Laycoax managed to neutralize his critics in one fell swoop with his act of “self-reporting” and sauntered right out of Oak Forest straight into the arms of a Michigan fire department (the Cedar Fire and Rescue Board is comprised of the full township boards from both the Centerville and Solon township – read more about the appointment here).  Despite a unanimous vote to approve him as Chief, the general public seemed to hold onto concerns about Laycoax’s exit from Illinois politics…

A concern that was rightfully placed as Laycoax was one of several District 142 Board members who were known bullies and had no problem resorting to retaliatory tactics, not to the dramatic degree as current District 142 Board member Roxana Agler, but in clear violation of his Oath of Office and obligation to the district.

As a footnote to this time frame, his brother Marvin Laycoax Jr. was the supervisor of buildings and grounds for Forest Ridge School District 142 until a month or so after his brother Lindsey resigned.  While Jr. may not have had anything to do with his brother’s behaviors at the Fire Department, family members working in the same municipal unit has always possessed an extra sour note or two outside of the normal jazz-like tones attached to conversations with words like “favoritism” or “patronage.”  With the Laycoax brothers, Marvin Jr. was at the school long before Lindsey took office, but there were still questions surrounding the timing of Jr.’s resigning.

Both Laycoax and Rybak are two political officials who are on record for admitting their own wrongdoings to authoritative bodies in charge of bringing charges if justice is called for…

So far the biggest difference between the two is that Laycoax at least temporarily outsmarted the system and was allowed to walk away from the circumstances while Rybak has been outsmarted by the system and is refusing to walk away.

There was nothing admirable about either of their self-proclaimed, self-initiated self-sacrifices, but luckily both District 142 participants and the Village of Midlothian are more than capable of surviving a few bad bananas in the bunch like Laycoax, Agler, Gleason and Rybak.

It’s just a question of how long it will take for a public official found of wrongdoing to do the right thing and make restitution for the error of their ways…which includes stepping down in Rybak’s and Agler’s case…just like Laycoax did.

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