A brokered resignation

Steve Kapitan

Steve Kapitan unconditionally resigned as DeKalb City Clerk. According to a City of DeKalb press release Kapitan, a fixture in DeKalb municipal government for the past 20 years, resigned for personal reasons.

“It is my understanding that Steve needed to resign for personal reasons,” Mayor Kris Povlsen said. Kapitan has served as Clerk since his election to the position in 2009. Prior to that, Kapitan served as the Third Ward Alderman from the late 1990’s until 2005.

“Steve is a good friend and has been a dedicated public servant. I wish him well in his future endeavors,” Povlsen said.

Kapitan’s unconditional resignation is spelled out in an agreement obtained by the Daily Chronicle.

There is an important difference between an elected municipal officer, like City Clerk, who voluntarily offers his/her unconditional resignation as opposed to one who voluntarily offers a conditional resignation.

According to state statutes (65 ILCS 5/3.1-10-50) an unconditional resignation by a person holding the elective office may not be withdrawn after it is received by the officer authorized [Mayor Povlsen] to fill the vacancy. A conditional resignation that does not become effective unless a specified event occurs can be withdrawn at any time prior to the occurrence of the specified event, but if not withdrawn, the effective date of the resignation is the date of the occurrence of the specified event or the date the resignation is received by the officer authorized to fill the vacancy, whichever date occurs later. Unconditional cannot withdraw resignation. Conditional can be withdrawn.

Evidently the separation agreement signed by Steve Kapitan, Mark Biernacki and Dean Frieders constituted Kapitan’s resignation in writing as required by 65 ILCS 5/3.1-10-50(a). But there were conditions included in the contract. Kapitan is to receive two months salary, around $10,165, for severance for his voluntary resignation. He and the City of DeKalb agree to confidentiality:

The buzz around town started Friday. Private messages started pouring in.

FB Friend: Did you hear the news on Kapitan?

Mac: Gracie just asked me about that. Someone asked her. I don’t know anything. What did you hear?

FB Friend: Watch the newspaper. I was told something would be coming out.


FB Friend: Did you hear about an altercation at City Hall involving Steve Kapitan?

Mac: If it’s news happening here it’s news to me! I’ve heard some rumblings but I don’t have anything confirmed. What have you heard?

FB Friend: I heard the cops were involved. Someone’s banned from the building.

Mac: This is getting interesting. I’ll let you know if I find anything out.

First thing Monday morning. I sent an email to Chief Bill Feithen.

Hi Chief!

I am getting tons of inquiries about an incident at City Hall last week. Allegedly police were involved, possibly an altercation? Can you share anything? Can you point me to the proper contact or source?

Mac McIntyre

I got this response from Mark Biernacki at the end of the day.

Hello Mac,

The Chief is out today and this was forwarded to me. I assume you are inquiring based on rumors that are out there regarding Steve Kapitan. Let me assure you that there was no altercation at city hall last week. There were no criminal incidents nor was anyone led out of city hall in handcuffs. Some of us did accompany and assist Steve with his personal belongings when he left city hall late last week.


But then I read in Andrew Mitchell’s latest Daily Chronicle report

DeKalb County State’s Attorney Clay Campbell said Kapitan is not under investigation by his office.

However, Campbell said Frieders came to his Sycamore office Thursday to consult with him and John Farrell regarding the situation involving Kapitan. Farrell is the head of the civil division for the county state’s attorney’s office.

Campbell, who was reached late Monday afternoon, said he couldn’t comment beyond that.

So Kapitan resigned for undisclosed personal reasons that the City Attorney thinks the County States Attorney should be consulted with about the day before Kapitan, Biernacki and Frieders sign a separation agreement. Oh, OK. And the mayor and city manager think its in Kapitan’s best interest and the City of DeKalb’s best interest to award a resigning elected official some $10,000 in severance pay. Oh, OK? And the agreement calls for silence on this, that and other matters. Oh.

Never a dull moment.



  1. Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan could do a lot to help the case load that she is getting behind on concerning the Open Meetings Act (OMA) if she would pick out a couple nice, juicy cases here in Illinois that show continuing abuse and ignoring of the rules regarding the OMA.

    DeKalb would be one of those communities. First, starting with the DeKalb Public Library Board to our city council, city mayor, and city manager and right to the DeKalb County Board..If she could investigate the OMA abuses here in DeKalb and DeKalb County alone, she do go a long way in scaring many of these council and board members who continually meet behind closed doors and violate the rights of citizens to know how they are conducting business that ultimately affects each and every citizen in that community.

    She might also get it through some of the Judiciary out there that when rules are broken concerning the OMA along with other laws, the penalty cannot and should not be determined by if that judge believes the people on that board or council to be “good” people or not. If that was the case, then why would judges actually have to required to know the law as long as they can tell “good” people from “bad” people?

    Just think if each individual member of these boards and councils were fined the stiff penalties they could be charged with if found out to be in violation of the OMA. These individuals cannot claim to not have known because a good majority of these meetings have legal counsel sitting in on the meeting and these individuals are now required to be trained in the OMA. This is not about “good” people or “bad” people, this is about following the law..

    • Also, think about it. If you knew others were found guilty of violating the OMA and were personally fined for it, how do you think a good majority of those on boards and councils might handle an inappropriate meeting the next time they find themselves in one? I think the good majority of them might be nervous enough to say, “hey, this meeting is illegal” or “I cannot stay for this meeting due to it is violating the OMA and I’m not a rich person to be paying the huge fines”.

      OK, well one can hope.

  2. I spent a couple of days in Monmouth ‘babysitting’ a guest professor from Russia. It is a very nice town. Monmouth College is a lovely liberal arts college, affiliated with the Presbyterian Church–students there are not going to get as stupidly drunk in town like NIU’s students. Compared to DeKalb, being a police officer there will be the closest thing to retirement, compared to retirement itself. Anything anyone could want is not that far away in Galesburg, which is an awesome city.

    • By the way, I bring a computer to the meetings when I have to take minutes. I then have to do a lot of work with the outlines that I get typed in during the meetings, which generally takes about 1.5 times longer than the meeting itself (an hour-long meeting usually takes about an hour and a half more work on the minutes). I bet it would take a lot longer to type in handwritten meeting notes into usable minutes.

      I took typing tests in the past to qualify for jobs and did around 80 to 90 words per minute, which is about moderate.

      But, for a job that pays around twice what I make now, I think I would work until midnight every day to keep up with the work.

      • With the money we spend on IT we should not have a problem with meeting minutes. Text-to-speech and vice versa is not new technology. An editable transcript file from the recorded meetings is not rocket science. The incompetency is embarrassing and I am not talking about Kapitan.

        • I played with voice recognition word processing software a few years ago when my hands decided to get carpal tunnel syndrome. A couple of visits to a doctor with a ‘magical’ wrist whacker and the carpal tunnel syndrome went away.

          The trick with the voice recognition software is that it wants some practice learning speech patterns. It improves with use.

  3. Just got call that a late afternoon press conference was held presenting what seems a wild but totally credible explanation. I don’t want to summarize since person sharing press conference with me editorialized and I’m not sure what was the conference and was the person’s own editorializing.

    Hopefully Mac covered the conference and if not DC certainly had to be there.

    • Here’s another email exchange I forgot to post:

      Sent to: Kris Povlsen; Mark Biernacki

      Could you send the press release you sent to other media concerning Kapitan’s resignation? I have repeatedly asked to receive those press releases from the city.

      Thank you,
      Mac McIntyre

      There was no response from Mark Biernacki, but I was cc’d on this…

      Patti, Will you please send Mr. McIntyre a copy of the press release. Thanks.

      Kris Povlsen, Mayor, City of DeKalb

      To which Patti promptly sent me the press release.

      But I didn’t get this morning’s press release about Chief Feithen. And I wasn’t notified of or invited to the press conference.

  4. Chief is a separate story. He has been looking for quite some time. Good person we will miss him.

    On main story, i tried to figure out the pension implications if any, but doing so exceed me. Anyone have some cites and documentations on pensions one way or the other regarding Steve?

    I did find Monmouth on a map.

    Look at the good side: both those of us who tend to be critical and those who are more supportive of the city are all puzzled.

  5. I don’t know the reasons for the current upheaval (purge?) in city hall, but I do know one thing for certain: at the next city council meeting, the public will be treated like children who can’t handle the truth. Excuses will be made, white lies will be told, and lawyers will be used as human shields.

    I don’t see why Mr. Frieders is writing Mr. Kapitan’s letter of resignation for him. Unless there really was a shouting match where he quit verbally and it needed to be put in writing to make it official. This line about it being in the best interest of “the city” is a tell.

    Don’t forget the past history of management trying to assimilate the city clerk position (rejected by the voters).

    Just in case this wasn’t alarming enough we have the abrupt departure of the police chief. He spends a decade doing yeoman’s work to get the police station built, but decides to leave before construction starts.

  6. Right. No matter what the document says, the required confidentiality and the agreed-upon severance are conditions. This is a conditional separation — I wouldn’t even call it a resignation. Looks like Kapitan could lawfully revoke at this time. I hope he has competent legal counsel.

    Also, did you get the impression from the mayor’s remarks to the Chronicle that he hadn’t actually talked to Kapitan? So another question there is, to whom did Kapitan offer a resignation and was it lawfully delivered to the right officer? And does Mark Biernacki actually have the authority to broker such a deal with mayor & council approval? If so, from where does the authority arise?

    There’s another impression I’ve gotten, of duress. This is very troubling to me.

    • Disclosure of Matters Discussed in Closed Meetings: http://www.illinoisattorneygeneral.gov/government/openmeet.pdf

      A public body cannot sanction one of its members for disclosing information or issues discussed in a closed meeting. 1991 Ill. Att’y Gen. Op. 1. The Attorney General noted that the possibility of such sanctions “would only serve as an obstacle to the effective enforcement of the Act, and a shield behind which opponents of open government could hide.”

      In affirming dismissal of a count alleging that a public body had violated the Act by making disclosures to the public concerning information given in a closed meeting, the Appellate Court noted that “there is nothing in the Act that provides a cause of action against a public body for disclosing information from a closed meeting.” Swanson v. Board of Police Commissioners, 197 Ill. App. 3d 592, 609 (Second Dist. 1990).

      These observations and holdings do not, of course, indicate that members of a public body should not deal carefully with confidential information that may be brought before the body in the course of a closed meeting.

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