Posts Tagged Carpentersville Village Manager Mark Rooney

Carpentersville election exposes loophole

Excerpts from an editorial at the

But it’s now serving as a testing ground for one of Illinois’ most bizarre state laws, under which a seemingly obvious conflict of interest is permitted.

Under the Local Governmental Employees Political Rights Act, all public employees have the right to run for public office in Illinois. Should they win, it is expected and often required that they give up their government job, as they could end up sitting on both sides of the bargaining table in any negotiations with public unions.

It’s for this reason that school-district employees, such as teachers, are prohibited from serving on that district’s school board in Illinois.

However, within the act lies a special provision for firefighters.

One Carpentersville firefighter, Christopher Scholl, plans to take advantage of this loophole. He’s one of six candidates seeking three open seats on the Carpentersville Village Board. Another candidate, Sara Miller, is the wife of a Carpentersville firefighter.

Under this law, firefighters – and firefighters alone – are granted the privilege of holding elected office in local governments while taking a full-time salary negotiated by the very body on which he or she serves.

This exemption applies only to local governments. Per the law, “A firefighter who is elected to the Illinois General Assembly shall, upon written application to the employer, be granted a leave of absence without compensation during his or her term of office.”

Under the Illinois Constitution, members of the Generally Assembly are barred from other public employment if the General Assembly has increased the salary for the position in question within that politician’s term. They are also prohibited from collecting a paycheck from both positions for coincident hours.

The conflict of interest in the case of Carpentersville is clear, and would create truly bizarre circumstances were Scholl – a full-time union firefighter earning over $100,000 annually in salary and benefits – or a village firefighter’s spouse, such as Miller, elected to the village board.

For example, in his role as a village board member, Scholl would in effect be serving as his boss’s boss’s boss. The board directs Carpentersville Village Manager Mark Rooney, who in turn manages Director of Public Safety Al Popp, who in turn directs Deputy Fire Chief John Skillman. Skillman is in charge of firefighters like Scholl.

Nothing would prevent Scholl from voting to fire his own boss, for example. He would also be apprised of disciplinary matters and other personnel discussions within the fire department.

In the union bargaining process, Scholl would be in a privileged position to negotiate his own salary and benefits, along with many other changes to his department’s operations. While he has pledged not vote on matters of collective bargaining for firefighters if elected, he’s gone on record expressing the desire to cut administrative positions and use that money to hire more firefighters.

Moral concerns aside, a direct beneficiary of government funds determining the allocation of those funds could have severe budgetary consequences, especially in Carpentersville.

More than 20 percent, or $5.8 million, of the village’s general fund spending for fiscal year 2015 is directed toward fire and emergency services. More than 30 full-time firefighters are covered under the union contract with the village, which is up for renegotiation in May 2016.

Permitting a public-union employee to serve on a body that negotiates contracts with that union is a clear perversion of government power. Illinois state lawmakers should act to eliminate the loophole that makes it possible.

thanks Dan

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Carpentersville avoids firefighter layoffs

The Courier-News has an article about Carpentersville saving firefighters from layoffs.

The jobs of two Carpentersville firefighters that were destined for the chopping block have been saved thanks to a compromise between village officials and the union representing the International Association of Fire Fighters Local 4790.

Due to the village’s budget deficit of about $400,000, Carpentersville officials said cutting the two full-time firefighters as well as three civilian employees was necessary. Four part-time vacancies in various departments are also being eliminated.

After members of the union learned the fate of the firefighters, they began negotiating with the village to help keep the jobs while still addressing the village’s budget woes.

Village officials said in a press release the negotiations resulted in an agreement that modifies work schedules and identifies “swing shift” employees who will not be assigned to regular duty shifts — a 24-hour shift followed by 48 hours off duty — but will work shifts to fill vacancies created by other employees’ vacations and authorized time off. Officials said the agreement removes the need to pay overtime to firefighters who traditionally filled those vacancies, thus generating an annual overtime savings of $85,000.

Carpentersville Village Manager Mark Rooney said cutting personnel or services to address budget deficits “is always a last resort.” Rooney said if the swing shift schedule works as expected no full-time firefighters will be laid off for the duration of the current collective bargaining agreement, which expires in 2016.

In turn, the union has decided to withdraw a grievance it filed last month, which disputed the village’s decision to lay off two full-time firefighters.

The agreement comes as a relief to Lt. Rick Nieves, president of International Association of Fire Fighters Local 4790. “We used to have 13 firefighters on every day and now we’re down to 10 on certain days,” he said. “So we still have some work to do with the village. But for now we’re here and we’ll deal with it.”

… in 2010 the village had 207 full-time employees. As a result of reorganization, layoffs and not filling open positions, currently there are 175. Personnel and labor costs account for about 70 percent of the village’s overall costs, according to Rooney.

thanks Dan

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