Wednesday, June 4, 2014 | NEWS
Actions of Luck trustee called into question
Village employee threatened with termination
Mary Stirrat | Staff writer
LUCK — An attempt to caution board members, without pointing fingers, against threatening village employees with termination was the focus of a short but not-so-sweet special meeting of the Luck Village Board Tuesday, June 3.
Village President Peter Demydowich opened the meeting by saying that a board member made such a threat. It was eventually revealed that the employee was treasurer Kevin Kress, and Trustee Ross Anderson admitted to being the board member.
If a trustee has a complaint, said Demydowich, the proper procedure is to take the complaint to the finance/personnel committee. The committee will discuss the issue and make any resulting recommendations to the board. Discussions take place in closed session, he said, with any action to be taken in open session.
“This just can’t happen in our village,” Demydowich said regarding the incident between Anderson and Kress.
When asked by Trustee Rebecca Rowe if that was the sole purpose of calling special meeting, and why it could not have waited until the regular board meeting next week, Demydowich responded, “This is a serious issue. That’s why it needed to be done immediately.”
He added that Kress could choose to file a suit against the village as a result of the incident, and that the village attorney encouraged Demydowich to “nip it in the bud.”
Demydowich, after the meeting, said that he would be taking the incident to the finance/personnel committee to determine if any action should be taken against Anderson.
In a memo to the board, village attorney Adam Benson stated that Anderson’s comments were “a gross overstep of authority by any village trustee to intimate they can individually affect the employment status of a village employee. The trustee’s fidelity is to the board and, in turn, the village and its residents.
“If there is an issue as to the performance or employment status of a village employee, it must be taken up through the proper channels (i.e. personnel committee, village board meeting, etc.) and determined by the board as whole.”
Anderson’s wife, employed as clubhouse manager at the Luck Golf Course, works with Kress on matters relating to revenue and expenses, and Benson said in his memo that he had also been asked to address the issue of “conflict of interest.”
When a government official or trustee tries to perform his or her duties “while at the same time trying to achieve personal gain,” Benson stated, “a clash between professional obligations and personal interests arises. The appearance of a conflict of interest is present if there is a potential for the personal interests of an individual to clash” with their duties as trustee.
“While the conflict in this case was not pecuniary (relating to money), a trustee’s first duty is to the board they were elected to serve. If a trustee cannot put the board first, then they should reconsider their participation as a part of that body.”
Benson said that one option would be that the board “develop and implement a code of conduct with a range of penalties for violation of said conduct,” and offered to help the board with the process.
Trustee Mike Broten, chair of the golf course commission, said that the commission would like to meet with the board to discuss concerns. In particular, he indicated that the commission felt that the village board micromanages the course, and the commission would like more autonomy.
A joint meeting of the board and the commission was set for Monday, June 16, at 5:30 p.m. at the golf course, just prior to the commission’s regular meeting.