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Corruption roundup

Monday, Jan 27, 2020

* Background is here if you need it. This press release was issued on Friday, but I took the day off…

Today, Bloomingdale Township Supervisor Michael D. Hovde, Jr. called on Robert Czernek, Bloomingdale Township Highway Commissioner, to resign after federal agents executed a search warrant on the office of the Bloomingdale Township Highway Department Tuesday.

“After the execution of the federal search warrant of the Bloomingdale Township Highway Department relating to alleged financial improprieties at the Bloomingdale Township Highway Department, the current Highway Commissioner must resign immediately.” said Hovde.

Supervisor Hovde further added “the Bloomingdale Township office was not the subject of the federal search warrant which related solely to alleged conduct within the Bloomingdale Township Highway Department and a handful of its vendors. The Bloomingdale Township Supervisor’s Office is housed at a different facility than the Bloomingdale Township Highway Department.”

I’m told this probe isn’t connected to the wider federal corruption investigation.

* Daily Herald

Czernek has not been charged with any wrongdoing. Reached by email Thursday evening, Czernek replied “no comment.”

* Oof

January 23, 2020
Honorable Toni Preckwinkle
President, Board of Commissioners of Cook County
118 North Clark Street
Chicago, IL 60602
Dear President Preckwinkle,

It is with deep regret that I tender my resignation from the Cook County Board of Ethics, effective February 26, 2020. It has been a great honor to serve on the Board since you first appointed me in March 2016.

When I first began my service, I was honored to be in the company of Margaret Daley, Juliet Sorenson and Executive Director Ranjit Hakim. Later, the Board added two additional members of great integrity, Thomas Szromba and Von Matthews. I believe that we were doing an excellent job of enforcing and strengthening the ethics ordinance of Cook County.

Last Tuesday, I was advised that you have elected to terminate the services of Margaret Daley, the Chairman of the Board of Ethics. You did so without so much as even doing Chairman Daley the courtesy of a phone call. I can only surmise that your action was the result of 1) Chairman Daley’s support of Lori Lightfoot in the past mayoral election, 2) the hard line the Board of Ethics has taken with regard to violations of the ethics ordinance by your friend, Joseph Barrios, and/or 3) the latest recommendations of the Board of Ethics to strengthen the existing ethics ordinance, which, among other things, brings it more in line with the serious effort by the City of Chicago to strengthen its own ordinance.

In light of your action, it is clear that you do not welcome a Board of Ethics that is serious about its duties. As such, it would simply be a waste of my time to continue in my role with the board. As of February 26, 2020 you are free to fill my vacancy with someone more likely to do your bidding.

David Grossman
Member, Cook County Board of Ethics

* Tribune editorial

Party leaders in the General Assembly need to hold themselves — and be held — to a high standard on disclosing outside employment, income and conflicts. That includes the Senate’s minority leader, Republican Bill Brady of Bloomington, who the public learned last year had become a key player in a lucrative video gambling company. The members of his caucus who preen about ethics reform should start with their own leadership. How is it that a high-ranking elected official in Springfield can also be an investor in a state-regulated, multimillion-dollar gambling company?

In the House, Speaker Michael Madigan has never been required to reveal the extent of his law practice, its clients or its income, despite representing high-profile companies seeking property tax reductions. Madigan’s law firm, Madigan & Getzendanner, is among the city’s most clout-heavy firms in winning property tax reductions for its clients. Those reductions mean the county’s overall tax burden gets spread to other property owners. Where are the demands for Madigan to separate from his law practice? Where are the calls for more disclosure? House Democrats who huff and puff about the need for ethics reform in government should start with their own leadership.

The same goes for Republican House leader Jim Durkin, also a lawyer, who doesn’t have to disclose the clients his firm serves. Where are the demands for more transparency?

Um, Durkin is the chief sponsor of HB3954, which would require disclosure of clients that could create a conflict of interest

Any other economic interest or relationship of the person or of members of the person’s immediate family (spouse and minor children residing with the person) which could create a conflict of interest for the person in his or her capacity as a member of the General Assembly

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - DuPage Saint - Monday, Jan 27, 20 @ 12:55 pm:

    Absolutely right about Brady. I cannot fathom how that could be allowed or even legal
    Of course I believe we have reps giving seminars on how to get rich selling weed and the spouse of an ex rep now head of some department that was to regulate weed working for national weed company Too many conflicts

  2. - Rich Miller - Monday, Jan 27, 20 @ 1:15 pm:

    ===I cannot fathom===

    It’s a legal enterprise. We’ve had a House member who owned a beer distributing business. He should’ve definitely disclosed it, however.

  3. - Amalia - Monday, Jan 27, 20 @ 1:35 pm:

    are there other folks who have been replaced by Toni? and who has been replaced by Lori? stories are all around.

  4. - Candy Dogood - Monday, Jan 27, 20 @ 1:36 pm:

    ===which would require disclosure of clients that could create a conflict of interest…===

    I’m not sure that’s enough. The Executive and Legislative Inspector Generals’ offices cannot initiate their own investigations. they’re complain driven.

    Creating a bar where the legislator must self report a conflict of interest instead of reporting — all — clients creates the kind of ambiguity that could lead to a lack of transparency.

    “I didn’t think So and So was a conflict because I was representing them for Such and Such, which was unrelated to the Whatchaszits to which the legislation pertained.”

    We don’t need another ethics reform with dentures. Clearly our efforts to reign in corruption in our state government by gumming it to death have not been successful.

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