Tinley Park, IL (ECWd) –
More Tinley Park officials have resigned their positions this week, amidst the continuing scrutiny the Village Board and high-ranking employees have received since thousands of citizens started packing Village meetings and demanding answers for why zoning codes appear to have been illegally tampered with to allow an out-of-state developer to gain approval for a low income housing project that would have never met code requirements without such tampering.
In February, 7 members of the 9-member Planning Commission abruptly resigned once questions started being asked about why they signed off on the zoning code tampering. Now, Assistant Village Manager Mike Mertens and Village Trustee Bernard Brady have also abruptly resigned, a week after the Village was served with a lawsuit in Cook County chancery court asking a judge to void the illegal tampering done to the zoning codes. Trustee Brady was named as a defendant in that lawsuit and gave no explanation for his sudden resignation.
Mike Mertens, an employee of the Village since 1998, is a controversial figure because he claims to have maintained two residences during the time that he’s held the position of Assistant Village Manager: a house in Tinley Park and another home in Chicago. The Village of Tinley Park requires high-ranking Village employees like Mertens to actually live in Tinley Park. Mertens’ wife works in Chicago and he told the Southtown newspaper in an interview about his resignation that he and his wife want to live closer to where she works, hence his resignation. But questions are now being asked about whether Mertens has actually been living in Chicago for some time and just commuting back and forth to Tinley Park, which would be against the Village’s residency rules for high-ranking employees like Mertens. It seems strange to many that Mertens would choose to resign as Assistant Village Manager now, when he’s held that position for the last 13 years and was likely to be named Interim Village Manager in May (or maybe even be made the new Village Manager outright). Why resign when Mertens seemed close to getting the big job? It doesn’t make sense.
Brady is resigning a seat on the Village Board that is up for election in April 2017. Whoever is appointed to fill that seat on the all-male Board will thus hold the seat until that election. Many are hoping that Mayor David Seaman breaks up the old boys’ network by appointing a woman to fill Brady’s seat.
Brady seemed to typically vote the way the old guard wanted him to vote instead of the way that the public wanted him to vote, so his resignation was received with cheers from many in Tinley Park. During board meetings, Brady slumped in his chair, made faces at the public, and occasionally sparred with other Board members. He seemed ill-suited for public office, particularly when the public started showing up in droves to demand answers at these meetings. Brady didn’t seem too much like having to answer to the public.
When public officials and employees realize they are being scrutinized and the public has started paying attention, many discover an urge to scatter and resign their positions instead of answering questions and engaging with the public. These people seem to enjoy being part of a public body more when the public isn‘t paying attention.
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