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OL board passes ethics ordinance

  • Written by Bob Rakow

Conflict of interest prevention vital to trustees in wake of 2012 roofing controversy

  An ordinance designed to prevent conflicts of interest and improper influence on the part of village officials and employees was approved Tuesday by the village board.

  Trustees approved the changes after rejecting a proposal by Trustee Bob Streit to send the ordinance back to committee for further consideration.
  He said the board needs to close loopholes that exempt village attorneys and former employees from the restrictions. Additionally, he said, the ordinance was crafted without public input.
  Specifically, Streit alleged that former Trustee Tom Phelan recently solicited village on behalf of the company for which he works.
  “It isn’t a good ordinance unless it applies to everyone,” Streit said. “I do believe it’s a good starting point.”
  Trustee Terry Vorderer said the ordinance can always be fine-tuned but delaying a vote at Tuesday night’s meeting would be a mistake.
  “I hate to see it postponed and lost forever,” Vorderer said.
  Trustee Alex Olejniczak agreed, admitting that the ordinance was not a finished product. He criticized Streit for playing to the camera by reading “another well-written diatribe.”
  Mayor Sandra Bury’s campaigned on stricter rules for disclosing conflicts of interest and she added to each board meeting’s agenda an opportunity for trustees to disclose any conflicts with potential board action.
  The ordinance comes several months after the FBI launched an investigation into a deal in which a roofing company with political and familial connections to Streit received a contract to replace the roof on the village’s public works building.
  The village board in November approved the $166,085 contract despite the fact that two other companies submitted lower bids for the work.
  The FBI in December issued a grand jury subpoena to village manager Larry Deetjen, asking him to produce all documents related to the bid process and selection of Joliet-based Adler Roofing and Sheet Metal to repair the roof.
  Streit’s brother, Mike, works at Adler Roofing as an estimator, and Streit’s political committee has received contributions from the firm.
  Streit said his brother does not have an ownership interest in the company and the issue was used to defame him and former Mayor Dave Heilmann, who was in office at the time the contract was awarded.
  Trustees later voted to rescind the contract and throw out the other bids for the work.