Talk about mistrust.
The city is bringing in an outside law firm to investigate matters of “miscommunication and mistrust,” as interim City Manager Steve Jones diplomatically referred to assorted clashes between City Hall and the police department.
Here’s another one.
Mayor Bob O’Dekirk, in an Oct. 18 email to Jones, said he had been hearing that certain police officers had been lobbying the City Council in favor of NorthPoint Development and had given assurances that they could deliver votes from the so-called Mudron 5.
NorthPoint Development is the developer that has become the bane of many area residents because of its plans to add another large warehouse distribution complex to the area.
The “Mudron 5” is a term used by some to refer council member Pat Mudron and four other council members who voted to remove City Attorney Martin Shanahan from the position of interim city manager back in June.
The Herald-News received a redacted copy of the O’Dekirk email Friday, but the email has been circulating for several days.
“After I got this, I was pretty pissed off,” said Mudron, who said he got a copy fourth or fifth hand and called Jones to confirm that it was a real email sent by the mayor to the city manager. “He confirmed that he did get it.”
Mudron called the email “100% lies. It’s being done to set up Mudron Five for I don’t know why.”
Council member Sherri Reardon, also among those who voted to remove Shanahan, called the email “absolute lies” and suggested the email was meant to become public.
“It’s made the rounds,” Reardon said. “It did what it intended to do. It made the rounds.”
The other council members who voted to remove Shanahan are Don Dickinson, Michael Turk and Bettye Gavin. All five said no one from the police department had talked to them about the NorthPoint project.
“That’s not their purview,” Gavin said.
“I’ve never been contacted by anyone from the police department, fire department or any city employee about NorthPoint,” Turk said.
“It was sent out to make us look bad. That’s exactly what it’s doing,” Dickinson said.
O’Dekirk said he had nothing to do with the release of the email, but said he is sending lots of emails to Jones these days.
“I’m documenting everything and reporting it to the city manager, especially after what happened to Marty Shanahan,” the mayor said.
Asked if the conversation described in the email actually occurred, O’Dekirk said, “Absolutely.”
The email was sent a month ago. But it is making “the rounds” days before a council vote Tuesday on the controversial NorthPoint proposal to rezone 103 acres on Breen Road near Rowell Avenue. Many believe NorthPoint ultimately wants to link that land with 670 acres that the developer controls about 1.5 miles away in unincorporated Jackson Township to create the Compass Business Park.
Elwood rejected the Compass Business Park amid overwhelming community opposition. If NorthPoint can get industrial zoning in Joliet, it could open a pathway to assemble more land and eventually annex a Compass Business Park into Joliet.
Such a development would likely create a political firestorm.
I did interview the mayor Thursday, before seeing his email, about NorthPoint’s plans.
“As far as the one that’s before us, I support it,” he said.
O’Dekirk said he’s not linking the Joliet proposal for 103 acres to other NorthPoint plans, although he acknowledged others are.
“I understand why they’re assuming that, but it’s an assumption,” he said.
In his email, O’Dekirk tells Jones that he told “a member of the Will/Grundy trades” that he was “unsure” he could support a plan that would link NorthPoint’s Joliet site with a bigger NorthPoint project.
According to the email, his support was not needed because a police officer “will deliver 5 votes to approve the project (apparently a reference to the Mudron 5).”
O’Dekirk said he was told previously that a police officer had given assurances “that he could deliver ‘the Mudron 5’ and that the trades had nothing to worry about.”
The redacted version of the email that I saw blackens out the names of the officers and everyone else mentioned by O’Dekirk.
A source said that one of the police officers named is Lindsey Heavener.
Heavener has an ethics complaint filed with the city against the mayor concerning accusations O’Dekirk made that Heavener was drunk while on duty working security at Fiesta en la Calle in September.
Police Chief Al Roechner took Heavener to the hospital for blood and urine tests the night of the festival after getting a text from O’Dekirk that the police sergeant had been “drunk as a skunk.” According to a Roechner memo, the tests showed no signs of alcohol.
The day that The Herald-News posted an online story about the Heavener episode, O’Dekirk announced at a City Council meeting that Roechner was under investigation. It’s an investigation supposedly being done by city Inspector General Chris Regis, who reports only to the mayor on investigative matters.
The other officer named in the O’Dekirk email, according to my source, is Patrick Cardwell, the head of the police supervisors union.
“Absolutely not,” Cardwell said when asked if he has been contacting council members about NorthPoint. “It’s a shameful act by our mayor knowing he could put out a false narrative.”
Cardwell said he does not know of any police officers who have been lobbying on behalf of NorthPoint or why they might do so.
Cardwell, too, said he has seen the email.
The NorthPoint zoning is on the agenda for the council workshop meeting at 5:30 p.m. Monday and is up for a vote at the regular meeting at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday.
Meanwhile, it sounds like Ancel Glink has a lot of work to do.
• Bob Okon is a longtime Herald-News reporter. He can be reached at 815-280-4121 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.