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Local News

Joliet environmental commissioner said city manager asked for board member's resignation

Member said city manager asked for member to resign

The Joliet environmental commission meets on Sept. 10, 2019.
The Joliet environmental commission meets on Sept. 10, 2019.

One member of the city of Joliet’s environmental commission said interim City Manager Steve Jones asked another member, John Hertko, to resign from the board.

Wayne Horne, who with seven other members of the environmental commission have been tasked with determining the city’s best alternative water source to its drying aquifers, said after a meeting Tuesday that Jones asked Hertko to resign.

Horne added that he did not know the reason Jones asked for Hertko’s resignation, but that Hertko was staying on the board as far as he knew. During Tuesday’s meeting, Horne said that Mayor Bob O’Dekirk assured Hertko that he didn’t want him to resign.

“I don’t think [Hertko is] leaving, but I certainly hope not,” Horne said.

Hertko was not at Tuesday’s meeting and Jones declined to comment.

The subject was brought up toward the end of the meeting by Bruce Renwick, a Joliet resident who regularly attends the board’s meetings on the alternative water source. Renwick said he had heard Hertko was asked to resign, although did not say how he heard, and that the “leadership of Joliet” are the only ones who can ask for a commission member’s resignation. The mayor appoints commission members with the advice and consent of the city council, according to the city’s website.

Renwick lauded the commission’s work and Hertko’s contributions to the discussions.

“Asking one of the more outspoken, vocal commissioners ... to leave the commission at this point in time does not leave what I would call a clear and transparent feeling in people’s minds,” Renwick said during a period of public comment.

Commission member Gary Davidson attempted to clarify that he thought Hertko had not resigned nor intended to.

Also at the meeting, city officials announced that representatives from the city of Chicago would attend the next environmental commission meeting in October to discuss costs of selling Lake Michigan water. Horne said there will only be discussion of general figures.

“Nobody is going to talk a lot of specific costs,” he said.

This news came two weeks after Crain’s Chicago Business reported that officials from both Chicago and Joliet met last month about the possible transaction. The article estimated an annual cost of about $26 million based on Joliet’s need of about 18 million gallons daily and Chicago’s price to other suburban clients of
$4 per thousand gallons.

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