Think of open, honest government and how much more important that is when millions upon millions of public dollars are being invested into affordable housing at University Village in DeKalb. Think of how long 40-50 years is. As you read what was forwarded to me (see below) you might want some heads to roll. Perhaps demand an investigation. Or at the very least push the reset on this proposal and demand that every hand involved remain above the table.
The University Village proposal is scheduled for 2nd reading at the next city council meeting.
Questions for consideration before 2nd reading is approved:
Why wasn’t any of this made public before first reading?
Since no investigation is warranted, according to the DeKalb County State’s Attorney, did the proposed developers employ intimidation to discourage opposition?
Did the mayor, city manager or city attorney unwittingly assist in any attempt for intimidation?
Who was that certain loud voice of opposition who probably didn’t try to bribe a candidate after all?
Where does Monica O’Leary (7th ward alderman) live?
Will Dave Baker (6th ward) cancel his planned trip and attend the next city council meeting?
Begin forwarded message:
From: Dean Frieders <email@example.com<mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org>>
Date: September 3, 2015, 3:20:18 PM CDT
To: “Gaura, Anne Marie” <email@example.com<mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org>>
Subject: University Village / State Investigation
The full Council is BCC’d on this email, which is subject to the attorney-client privilege.
This email is intended to provide background information to the Council regarding a recent occurrence and its resolution. The matter relates to University Village.
On June 5, 2015, I received an email from the attorney representing the developers proposing to redevelop University Village. The content of that email was as follows:
From: Aaron Reinke <email@example.com<mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org>>
Date: Fri, Jun 5, 2015 at 12:09 PM
Subject: Security Properties proposal for University Village
To: Dean Frieders <email@example.com<mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org>>
Cc: Peter Bazos <email@example.com<mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org>>
I wanted to advise you, as a matter of professional courtesy, of an issue that was brought to my attention this week. Allegedly, an outspoken critic of Security Properties’ proposal offered campaign donations to candidates in the last municipal election if the candidates’ promised to vote “no” on the proposal. Obviously, we are deeply concerned.
It is not my intent to raise this issue during the hearing, however, it may become relevant. Moreover, I do not know if third party(ies) may raise the allegation. Nonetheless, I think you should be aware.
We want to keep the discussion focused on the proposal’s tremendous value to the community and avoid many of the irrelevant issues that dominated the PZC proceedings.
Have a good weekend!
Aaron H. Reinke, Esq.
Bazos, Freeman, Kramer, Schuster & Braithwaite, LLC
1250 Larkin Avenue, Suite 100
Elgin, Illinois 60123
Tel: (847) 742-8800 ext. 2024<tel:%28847%29%20742-8800%20ext.%202024>
Fax: (847) 742-9777<tel:%28847%29%20742-9777>
Upon receipt of that email, I contacted the attorney and asked if he had any further information regarding the item. If the allegations in the email were true, it would constitute a matter that would potentially require action by the City to comply with Illinois law. At the time, the attorney indicated that the matter was just a rumor, and that he was not aware of any actual specific facts or allegations.
A short time later, one of the City’s elected officials reported to the City Manager that a campaign contribution had been offered to the official, in a context that appeared to be a quid pro quo; a contribution in exchange for a “no” vote on University Village. The City Manager advised me of this issue, immediately. Immediately thereafter, I spoke with the elected official in question and explained that Illinois has a mandatory reporting law. In Illinois, where an elected official is offered a bribe (in common parlance), the official is required by state law to report that offer to the County State’s Attorney. Even if the official does not take the bribe, the failure to report an attempted bribe is a crime committed by the official. The law was explained to the official in question, and the official acknowledged the law and indicated that it should be reported to the State’s Attorney. Accordingly, to avoid unintentionally committing a crime, the issue was reported to the State’s Attorney. The State’s Attorney undertook an immediate investigation of the matter, utilizing resources from the Illinois State Police. City personnel were not involved in the matter.
The State’s Attorney indicated that if the City circulated information regarding the issue, it could obstruct or impede their investigation, and thus directed that the City not circulate any information regarding the matter. However, I requested, and the State’s Attorney agreed, that I be allowed to contact each of you and advise you of the unique attempted bribery disclosure law that Illinois has, so as to enable each of you to make an appropriate report to the State’s Attorney if any of you had been the subject of an attempt to influence your vote on any matter. Each of the City’s elected officials were contacted. At that point, each person contacted indicated that no report was necessary, that no attempt to influence had occurred, and that you understood the reason that we were not sharing additional information at that time.
I was advised by the State’s Attorney today that the State Police have conducted a diligent investigation regarding this matter. In order to bring any charges, the State would need to prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that an unlawful attempt to influence a public official had been made. At this point, their conclusion is that they are unable to bring proof sufficient to meet that burden. With the State’s Attorney formally closing their file, I have been advised that there is no longer any legal prohibition on sharing information with the Council. Until this point, as noted above, the State’s Attorney had opined that sharing information may unlawfully obstruct their investigation.
Please note that at no time has there been any allegation that any City official actually received compensation in exchange for consideration of any item. The allegation was that compensation had been offered, but was not accepted. At this point, the investigation is closed and no further action will be taken regarding this matter. That conclusion was reached by the State’s Attorney’s office, and not by the City.
Relative to University Village, please note that the consideration before the City Council has to be evaluated based upon the legally applicable zoning factors, in the discretion of the Council. It is my recommendation to not engage in public discussion of this item, as it is not relevant to those zoning factors. That remains a question for the Council to resolve, however.
If there are any questions regarding this matter, please do not hesitate to contact me.
Dean M. Frieders
Frieders Law, LL