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Local News

Dickinson switch foils Shanahan payout plan

A deal to award a payout to fired City Attorney Marty Shanahan blew up in the Joliet City Council's face on Monday when a councilman changed a "vote" allegedly made in closed session and now claims he has been subject to harassment and even blackmail linked to the mayor.

Councilman Don Dickinson, who voted against the Shanahan payout, filed a police report earlier in the day alleging that he had been advised that Mayor Bob O'Dekirk has claimed to have nude photos of him.

O'Dekirk in an interview after the meeting said the allegation is not true.

Dickinson in a statement read at the end of the meeting said he is being “harassed, badgered, tormented and now blackmailed unfairly” concerning a relationship he had "a few years ago with another consenting adult."

He did not, however, bring up the alleged harassment when confronted at the Monday council meeting over his vote on the Shanahan payout.

The payout, which would have provided Shanahan with nearly $123,000 and six months of health insurance, was rejected in a 4-3 vote.

The vote on the payout was interrupted when Councilman Larry Hug called for an explanation of why the tally wasn't going as expected.

"We had five votes in executive session," Hug said. "Somebody changed their vote, and I'd like an explanation."

It is illegal for the council to vote on city business in closed session.

The mayor described the closed session action as a "straw poll."

"I should be the fifth vote yes according to our executive session," Hug said after voting for the Shanahan deal before demanding that Dickinson explain his no vote. "You were one of the yeses in executive session."

"I don't feel I need to give an explanation," Dickinson said. "When were talking it was for city manager and not corporation counsel."

Dickinson did not bring up his claim of being blackmailed until the end of the meeting, when he read from a prepared statement that did not mention O'Dekirk and did not link the alleged harassment to his vote on the Shanahan payout.

Shanahan had also served as the city's interim city manager before returning to the city attorney, or corporation counsel, position from which he was fired in May.

"The people who voted no for this are not being fiscally responsible," O'Dekirk said, adding that he believed Shanahan will sue over his dismissal and likely win.

O'Dekirk rejected a characterization of Shanahan as "the mayor's puppet" and said he was removed from the interim city manager position because he had started to make changes in the police department.

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