Posts Tagged Tri-State fire district board

Tri-State Fire Protection District news

Excerpts from the

Former Tri-State Fire Trustee Micheal Orrico Charged With Crime 

Justice is slow in Illinois, but at least there does appear to be hope when it comes to holding public officials accountable, and this is a perfect example of how we can make a difference.

In August of 2015,  this article, clearly pointed out what we believed was a violation of the law by then Tri-State Fire Protection District Trustee Micheal Orrico.  Specifically, I reported Mr. Michael Orrico sells fire equipment for Fire Service, Inc.  What did he say about his employment in his Economic Disclosure Statement for his trustee position (page 55 of the pdf)? Not a word:”

What did we say was the consequence for nondisclosure?

(5 ILCS 420/4A-107) Any person required to file a statement of economic interests under this Article who willfully files a false or incomplete statement shall be guilty of a Class A misdemeanor.

We are proud to see that the Darien Police Department investigated this alleged crime and found the same thing that we reported!

September 13, 2016, an arrest warrant was issued for Micheal Orrico

The charge:  Filing a False Statement of Economic Interest in violation of the following Illinois Compiled Statute 5 ILCS 420/4A-107

It’s encouraging to see enforcement of our laws against those alleged to have violated them.  Public officials statewide should pay attention to this matter as we believe this is the FIRST time we have seen this particular law enforced and will hopefully be the beginning of holding violators accountable.

thanks Dan & Scott

The documents can be viewed HERE

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NBC Chicago aligns with BGA on Tri-State FPD decisions

NBC Chicago has an article and associated video segment questioning decisions made by the Tri-State FPD board of trustees with regards to the recent retirement of Fire Chief Michelle Gibson.

The recently-resigned fire chief of the Tri-State Fire Protection District left behind a number of questions as she vacated the office.

Michelle Gibson is in a civil union and raising a family with Jill Strenzel, a woman who is essentially one of her bosses and one of only three trustees overseeing the fire district headquartered in southwest suburban Darien and covering parts of four towns and unincorporated DuPage County.

Two weeks ago, Strenzel and her two fellow trustees unanimously approved a retirement agreement that will pay the now former chief about $136,000 at the end of the year, mostly for unused sick days and vacation.

Attorney Shawn Collins, who specializes in negotiating employment contracts and disputes, reviewed the agreement and labeled it “ridiculous.” He said he’s never heard of anyone getting “paid in 2014 for an unused sick day from 1989.” Collins concluded that the Tri-State Fire District has the appearance of a “fiefdom or a private family business somewhere where a bunch of people who know each other are deciding how to carve up family money.”

Gibson resigned following a year-long investigation by the Better Government Association and NBC 5 Investigates which uncovered a spike in spending on equipment, entertainment and legal expenses in the six years since she was elevated to chief. The trustees, including Gibson’s life partner, reviewed and approved each year’s budget.

When BGA investigator Katie Drews pushed the three trustees for answers on Gibson’s retirement agreement, the new fire chief, Jack Mancione, answered instead with emails that said in part that “the trustee feel it is fair and reasonable to the taxpayers.”

House Republican leader Jim Durkin, who represents the area, said the scenario “screams for public accountability.”

thanks to multiple sources

 previous posts are HERE, HERE, and HERE.

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Actions of fire district board are questioned

The Chicago Sun-Times has an article about retirement bonuses granted by the Tri-State Fire Protection District Board. 

suburban fire board pumped up chiefs’ pensions, promoted trustee’s partner

By KATIE DREWS Better Government Association September 2, 2013 12:00AM

Three weeks after announcing plans to retire as chief of a west suburban fire department in 2004, James Eggert got a going-away present from his bosses: a $7,380 pay raise. That boosted the salary of the Tri-State Fire Protection District chief from $105,420 to $112,800.

Three months later — with two months to go till Eggert’s retirement — the board overseeing the department, which serves parts of Darien, Burr Ridge, Willowbrook and unincorporated DuPage County, handed him another raise. This one was for more than $11,000. That boosted his pay to $124,079 — in all, more than $18,000 in raises in his final months on the job.

Around the same time, the tax-supported Tri-State fire district board agreed to a separation agreement with Assistant Fire Chief James Krohse, giving him a pay raise of more than $10,000 shortly before Krohse resigned.

Their golden-handshake departures pumped up their pensions and also cleared a path for the rise of a battalion chief who is now in a civil union with a member of the board that approved the deals, records and interviews show.

When Eggert and Krohse left, the three-member board elected to oversee the fire protection district promoted Deputy Chief Alan Hagy to fire chief and Battalion Chief Michelle Gibson to deputy chief. Hagy stayed with the department, which is based in Darien, until 2008. He left after the board gave him two raises totaling $17,000 in his final three months on the job. That pushed his pay initially from $115,000 to $121,000 and then to $132,000, records show. He also was given severance pay of $60,000.

Named to replace Hagy as chief: Gibson, who lives with Jill Strenzel, a Tri-State fire board trustee since late 2003. They entered into a civil union last year with a ceremony in Darien, records show. Strenzel was on the board when it approved the late-career raises for Eggert, Krohse and Hagy and voted to promote her partner to chief, according to agency records and interviews.

In a written statement, she and a second fire board trustee, Hamilton “Bo” Gibbons, the board president, who signed the deals, defended their actions. They said the going-away pay hikes were “reasonable given each employee’s service” and were “in the best interest of the district.” Neither would agree to an interview.

Gibson, who is paid $137,887 a year and also is eligible for bonuses, declined to comment, saying, “I cannot burden this district . . . with your questions.”

Eggert, 58, Krohse, 55, and Hagy, 56, also would not comment. They cited confidentiality clauses in their separation agreements. The three men are currently receiving pensions from the district. Their pensions, which are based on their final salaries, go up 3 percent a year.

Eggert’s retirement pay this year will total $107,401, according to Tri-State records. Without the two pay raises he was given in his final months on the job, his pension would be $91,250, based on his final salary, a source confirmed. Eggert also was given a $10,000 severance payment that didn’t count toward his pension.

Krohse’s pension is $77,473, records show. It would have been $69,090 without the late pay hike, based on his final salary, the source confirmed. He also received $25,000 in severance pay, which didn’t count toward his retirement pay.

Hagy’s pension is $113,163, records show. Without the two salary increases he was given in his last three months on the job, he would be getting $98,589 in retirement pay this year.

If the three men each live to age 80, they stand to collect a total of more than $1.5 million in additional pension payouts beyond what they would have been paid without the pay hikes.

State Rep. Jim Durkin (R-Western Springs), whose legislative district includes the fire protection district, calls the pay-hikes-for-“pension spikes” deals “outrageous” and says they “should not be tolerated.” Durkin also is critical of the secrecy surrounding the deals, saying “the use of public funds . . . should never, ever be subject to a confidentiality clause.”

In 2010, the Illinois Department of Insurance, which regulates government pension funds, questioned the amount of Hagy’s pension. In a compliance audit, the department determined that Hagy’s second raise — $11,000 — was part of a written retirement agreement and thus was a retirement incentive, which is not supposed to be considered in calculating a pension under the Illinois Pension Code, according to Kimberly Parker, spokeswoman for the state agency.

Pension boards have up to 35 days to correct any mistakes. But Parker says a lawyer advised the fire pension board not to take any action because the error, made in 2008, wasn’t discovered until 2010, and making a change at that point probably would lead to a costly — and losing — court fight.

thanks Scott

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