There was no discussion of the recently hired Joliet city manager David Hales at the city’s Monday pre-council meeting.
Afterward, the city’s acting corporation counsel Chris Regis said that Hales was not in Joliet and that he did not know when he would be in Joliet, although his starting date is Nov. 27.
He did echo what Mayor Bob O’Dekirk said last week on other local media about Hales making himself available to answer any questions the council had about a financial scandal involving a company that used to manage the former U.S. Cellular Coliseum in Bloomington, where Hales has been the city manager since January 2009.
“If they have any questions, he’s willing to answer them,” Regis said.
He went on to add that he feels the city has clarified the situation completely with its public comments in response to a Herald-News story, which the city and others thought unfairly connected Hales to the scandal. The story did not accuse Hales of any illegal actions or say that he was guilty of wrongdoing.
“We have heard from officials in Bloomington who are stunned that a local newspaper would turn this around and try to impugn one of those responsible for stopping the theft that allegedly occurred,” read a Sept. 28 news release from the city of Joliet.
The release went on to explain that while Hales was and is in full support of the investigation into the alleged theft, which resulted in a 115-page bill of indictment filed against five former operators of the Coliseum, he was advised by those in charge of the investigation to withhold comment.
“Mr. Hales and his team deserve credit for uncovering the unlawful activity and taking the appropriate action,” the release said.
The one issue the council discussed heavily was an agreement with Speedway for a 50 percent retail tax rebate for 10 years because of the infrastructure costs required by the city. Those requirements include the extension of Emerald Drive west of Route 53, intersection improvements and traffic lights west of Route 53.
Council members had questions about traffic routes, when a traffic light, either temporary or permanent, will be installed, and who would be paying for the improvements to the road. Council member Jan Quillman said she wasn’t sure if they should vote on the matter until some of the details were specified. Speedway representatives at the meeting said they would be willing to fund the improvements if they got the tax rebate.
“There’s a lot of moving parts with this,” said Martin Shanahan, the interim city manager.