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Local News

Okon: Signs of Joliet's return to normal

Things in Joliet are starting to return to normal, what with restaurants getting outdoor dining, barbers cutting hair, and the Ad Hoc City Manager Search Committee meeting again.
Things in Joliet are starting to return to normal, what with restaurants getting outdoor dining, barbers cutting hair, and the Ad Hoc City Manager Search Committee meeting again.

Things are starting to return to normal, what with restaurants getting outdoor dining, barbers cutting hair and the Ad Hoc City Manager Search Committee meeting again.

“The COVID crisis and the shutdown kind of derailed what we were doing as a committee,” Mayor Bob O’Dekirk said Tuesday when the search committee met to again take up the question of what to do about the city manager job.

The committee was formed late last year for the search that fizzled in February when the council opted not to hire either of two finalists.

O’Dekirk said a new search was not likely to do much better.

“I don’t know how that gets better when two candidates, for whatever reasons, their names were leaked to the media. Their reputations have been tarnished,” O’Dekirk said, suggesting fewer would be willing to apply than the 25 who did last time.

Director of Human Resources Kathy Franson said she thought the city actually would draw more candidates if a search firm was hired, a process rejected last time to save money.

“I think you’re going to find an executive search firm has further-reaching ability,” Franson told the committee.

As for the reputation of the two finalists, it’s hard to see how it was tarnished by not getting the job in Joliet, unless colleagues in their profession consider them fools for wanting it.

One reason that has been suggested for the council not hiring one of the finalists is that there was a belief they would be undermined on the job and end up like David Hales, the last permanent city manager.

Hales left in October 2018 with a mutually agreed buyout after a little less than a year on the job. He didn’t look too good then, but he’s looking like a wiser man with each city manager controversy that erupts at City Hall.

Naming rights controversy

O’Dekirk at a meeting of the Stadium Committee this week said those trying to make public the naming rights agreement for the city-owned stadium were “playing political games” and doing it “with other people’s money.”

At risk is the money the city gets from the naming rights, as well as what the Slammers get, which they share with the city by virtue of being the manager of the publicly owned stadium.

Putting that money at risk is a problem.

But whose money is it?

It’s public money that the public is sharing with the Slammers, according to terms spelled out in a lease available for the public to see.

When DuPage Medical Group spends money and receives certain benefits for putting its name on the stadium, why shouldn’t the public have a right to see the agreement that spells out those terms?

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