At Wednesday night’s special board meeting (July 6, 2016), the appointment of Hauser & Izzo (formerly Srauger & Hauser) being listed under President’s Business held its own set of political consequences above and beyond any legal matters facing the Village of Midlothian in need of a competent Village Attorney.
With his partnership at Hauser & Izzo intact (at the time, the firm was Srauger & Hauser), Attorney William “Bill” Gleason was appointed as temporary Village Attorney at the beginning of Mayor Sharon Rybak’s tenure in May 2013.
Two issues arose from this appointment. First, there were questions about the appointment being a political favor to Evelyn Gleason (for her help in getting Rybak elected) and second, the meeting minutes were so poorly crafted (and without video proof), it comes across as if Gleason’s firm was never properly appointed to the position for at least the first year of Rybak’s administration.
Along the way, Attorney Gleason managed to alienate virtually all of the Trustees one way or another. Gleason made it clear from the start that he was working only at the Mayor’s instruction and discretion and the Village paid a steep price, especially in terms of the Trustees not having an Attorney they could trust or rely on.
Whether it was his inability to call for Rybak to adhere to even the more basic tenants of Roberts Rules of Order or his sometimes twisted interpretations of laws (Gleason thought it was okay for Rybak to be Mayor and on the 228 Board until the AG stepped in and said nope to the idea), Gleason morphed himself into a form of Teflon willing and able to protect the Mayor and the Clerk from any accountability for their actions (Gleason was the Ethics Advisor).
While the Trustees perhaps should have called for more action from him during Board meetings, the Trustees are not babysitters for the people in paid political positions like that of Attorney. Even the municipal code book being so out of date falls into the category listed on the agenda as “Legal Business”…and it never being brought up even once by Gleason.
An attorney having no ethical, moral or legal conflict with a book of laws being so out of whack reflects an attorney that is more about the potential for profit rather than the pursuit of expedient justice, let alone recommending adherance to the laws. The years it took for Rybak to appoint a Building Superintendent (which started with the former Trustee responsible for the department and was voted out of office in 2015) were in violation of local ordinances but the topic never made it onto the agenda for him to bring it to the Trustee’s attention the Mayor slacking on her duties.
These trains of thought come more from my position as observer and questioner and who knows exactly what the Trustees were thinking of tonight when Rybak called for a motion to approve Hauser & Izzo as the Village Attorney.
Tax hike level silence.
Until Trustee Donald “Don” Killelea made a motion through what sounded like awkward laughter.
Then silence again.
Until Rybak stated there was no second and the motion was dead.
And that was that.
No temper tantrums.
No public outbursts.
Nothing but a clear vote of no confidence in Hauser & Izzo representing the best interests of the Village to the level the Village deserves…
Especially since his price tag was initially questioned a few years ago and Gleason argued he was worth it.
Wednesday night the Board decided he wasn’t.
Too bad Gleason didn’t talk to the Board and the public the same way that other attorney talked about the Village’s bond “issues” at the July 6th meeting…?
So who will be the next recommendation? Who knows. Rybak certainly can try again and again and perhaps the Board did not have anyone in mind as a replacement while exercising their authority during such a small window of opportunity. Rybak can extend the Hauser & Izzo appointment for up to 90 days if there is no replacement approved by the Board and I haven’t bothered pondering what would be triggered if the Village didn’t have someone suitable for the position for less than a year.
The idea of William Gleason being the glue that kept the Village in one piece when dropped into a legal quandry for the past 3 years would be laughable if this wasn’t almost a do or die window of opportunity for the Trustees.
Rybak and Schavone were hammered for leaving the Building Superintendent position vacant for years. Gillis was the smithy who forged forward with demands for the position to be filled with a quality person and as quickly as possible. The Board voted in William “Billy” DeSimone and last night Gillis presented mixed reviews about his job performance to this point, but then again the years of Building Superintedent neglect has to be a precarious legacy to navigate away from. All in all, the Board eventually took care of what Rybak was responsible for, which was to attract a qualified and quality candidate for their consideration and eventual hiring. Slot filled.
Rybak was hammered for leaving Chuck Hillyer in the position of Emergency Management Agency Director for as long as she did and then suggested since there was no interest in anyone taking the position, her husband was willing to come to the rescue of the Village by becoming the “temporary” Director of EMA. Some rescue effort the appointment turned out to be, complete with loud assertions of “guilt” against a group of people in the Village during the public portion at a Board meeting. Slot open(?)
How quickly the Board fills this particular position matters as much as the quality of the replacement. The Board needs an Attorney that will at least attempt to interject more of Roberts Rules in the ear of the Mayor, let alone an Attorney that will tell Rybak everything she did wrong during the meeting as it relates to that set of rules. They are supposed to be counselors and are not supposed to be arm-chair eye candy for everyone to gaze upon in awe over their self-controlled silence…
If the Board allows Hauser & Izzo to hang around even 30 days, this vote might carry with it the weight of at least a slap on the wrists, so to speak. If would be extra special if a “final list of things to do” was presented to him, which might even include having a different attorney appointed to the Village.
But the longer the Board allows Hauser & Izzo to operate on the theoretical behalf of the Village while having their walking papers, the greater the opportunity for a total and complete failure to perform any real legal services…
And one last dangling part to the vote last night.
Gleason’s mom is still the President of the MidMark Water Commission and the appointed representative of the Village of Midlothian to the Commission.
She hosts meetings at Village Hall in the name of the Commission and without proper posting of notice and agenda.
Perhaps the new attorney will sit Evelyn Gleason down and explain to her why she cannot continue operating the way she has in the past as an appointed representative of the Village of Midlothian…
And then again, the Board might decide there are other legal ways to stop illegal meetings from being held at Village Hall.
They certainly figured out how to prevent single signature authority when it comes to moving Village funds last night and it received permission to be included in the verbiage used in last night’s Resolution.
Ahhhhh. The number of laws that never make it to Municipal Code Book status…