The Chicago Ridge Village Board at its Sept. 6 meeting approved a $200,000 payout to settle the village’s part in a Cook County court case involving former Police Chief Tim Baldermann and former Deputy Chief Dennis Kapelinski.
The vote was 5-1 to approve the settlement, with only Trustee Bruce Quintos voting against it.
“I am against the deal. I am against any settlement,” said Quintos.
The case dates back to 2010, when Baldermann left on disability and Kapelinski retired from the police department.
Tokar pointed out that the suit against the former officials was originally filed by the Police Pension Board, and the village signed on later. The Police Pension Board is seeking to amend a disability package extended to the village’s former police chief, and the retirement package awarded to Kapelinski.
The issue centers around how their final salary figures were calculated to determine their benefit packages, with the value of accrued vacation time added to the final salary figures, resulting in “pension spikes.”’
When a resident asked during public comment why the village was settling, Tokar said it would actually save the village money. “We’ve had bills of $15,000 and $17,000 per month on this,” said Tokar.
“It is almost always better to settle and get half a loaf, than maybe not get anything at all. The court could end up ruling against us,” said the mayor.
Tokar pointed out after the meeting that Quintos was a trustee when the pension spikes were approved, and he voted for them. “I was the village clerk, without a vote. I had nothing to do with it,” he added.
The mayor said that since the Pension Board is continuing with its lawsuit, there is a chance that much of the $200,000 could end up back in the village coffers if the board wins the case.
Quintos acknowledged that he did vote for the pension spikes, but blames what he called bad advice the board received from the law firm of Odelson & Sterk.
“That is a vote I regret to this day,” said Quintos this week, asserting that it was worth continuing to fight the case.
“So far, we are winning, winning, winning,” he said.
As a result of the pension spike issue, the Pension Board filed a lawsuit against Odelson & Sterk, which conducted Baldermann’s disability hearing. The board alleged that the firm was “careless and negligent” for signing off on the final salary figure used to calculate the former chief’s disability package. But Burt Odelson said his firm only conducted a disability hearing, and did not provide any advice
The issue caused a rift on the Village Board this year as well, after Tokar appointed Odelson as village attorney without the approval of a majority of the trustees. Five of the six trustees then approved an ordinance requiring a board majority to approve all mayoral appointments, which led Tokar to file suit against the board. He is seeking a declaratory judgment, maintaining that the move was unconstitutional because it changed the way the village is governed without a referendum.