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April 25, 2024

Bolingbrook Village Clerk hired herself as her own full-time assistant –

By John Kraft & Kirk Allen

On April 11, 2019


UPDATE 4-12-2019-1945hrs.: Mayor Roger C. Claar stated that the Village Administrator hired her, she did not hire herself. Our opinion is that it doesn’t matter who actually did the hiring, but we are researching this new information for a future article.

It has come to our attention that the Bolingbrook Village Clerk, Carol S. Penning, has hired herself as her own full-time assistant village clerk – increasing her elected Village Clerk pay of an average of $21,000 per year, by an average increase of about $55,000 per year, raking in an average of about $76,000 per year in this scheme. This has been going on for the past several years.

According to Jason Cann, reporting from Bolingbrook, She has held both the elected position and the hired position since 2010.

Here is what Cann stated her compensation has been over the years:

Carol Penning – Village Clerk Salary: $20,703
Carol Penning – Admin Aide: $50,439

Carol Penning – Village Clerk Salary: $21,646
Carol Penning – Admin Aide: $53,542

Carol Penning – Village Clerk Salary: $20,259
Carol Penning – Admin Aide: $52,304

Carol Penning – Village Clerk Salary: $23,539
Carol Penning – Admin Aide: $53,436

Carol Penning – Village Clerk Salary: $21,077
Carol Penning – Admin Aide to Village Clerk: $55,238

Carol Penning – Village Clerk Salary: $22,196
Carol Penning – Admin Aide to Village Clerk: $58,111

Carol Penning – Village Clerk Salary: $21,813
Carol Penning – Admin Aide to Village Clerk: $57,788

Carol Penning – Village Clerk Salary: $22,249
Carol Penning – Admin Aide to Village Clerk: $59,242

According to her online bio, she was well aware of the responsibilities of the Village Clerk’s position long before becoming elected 29 years ago.

She is apparently using this section of the Illinois Municipal Code as justification (no mention appointing yourself):

(65 ILCS 5/3.1-10-45) (from Ch. 24, par.
Sec.3.1-10-45. Appointment of subordinates. The municipal comptroller (if there is one), municipal clerk, municipal treasurer, and city collector,severally, shall appoint the various clerks and subordinates in their respective offices authorized by the corporate authorities. Those officers shall be held responsible, severally, for the fidelity of all persons so appointed by them. This power, however, is subject to the provisions of Division 1 of Article 10. The power of municipal clerks is also subject to the provisions of Section 3.1-30-10.(Source:P.A. 87-1119.)

The Illinois Constitution prohibits elected officials from increasing or decreasing their compensation during their term of office, and if hiring yourself as your own assistant is not increasing your compensation, I don’t know what is. Constitutional violations should be prosecuted.

She got elected, hired herself, and is her own supervisor – just what we talked about in HB3501, if it ever makes it out of the Senate.

If she was so busy “as the elected Clerk” that she needed an assistant, how could anyone with a sane mind think hiring yourself as your assistance would ease the workload? We believe this was an in-your-face money grab at taxpayer’s expense.

The Village of Bolingbrook even “passed an Ordinance” authorizing her to hire herself – never mind the fact that no unit of local government can pass an Ordinance that would be in violation of a State law. Bolingbrook needs to immediately rescind that unlawful ordinance.

This is also appears to be prohibited under Section 3 of the Public Officer Prohibited Activities Act, Prohibited Interest in Contracts:

Sec. 3. Prohibited interest in contracts. 
    (a) No person holding any office, either by election or appointment under the laws or Constitution of this State, may be in any manner financially interested directly in his own name or indirectly in the name of any other person, association, trust, or corporation, in any contract or the performance of any work in the making or letting of which such officer may be called upon to act or vote. No such officer may represent, either as agent or otherwise, any person, association, trust, or corporation, with respect to any application or bid for any contract or work in regard to which such officer may be called upon to vote. Nor may any such officer take or receive, or offer to take or receive, either directly or indirectly, any money or other thing of value as a gift or bribe or means of influencing his vote or action in his official character. Any contract made and procured in violation hereof is void.

There are some exceptions to this Article 3, but none of them apply here.

Now comes the fun part – we believe the Village knows it’s illegal because this situation in Bolingbrook is the reason HB3501 was invented.

The Clerk, Trustees, and Village President need to be held accountable for actions they have taken.

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  • Dave
    Posted at 16:51h, 11 April

    Ideology wins over truth and facts again! Government of the people, by the people and for the people is a myth.

  • Maureen
    Posted at 17:22h, 11 April

    Her cunning contempt for her neighbors, is palpable.
    NO ONE’S Watching!
    ..Audit the ENTIRE city’s Books, there’ll be Rampant Abuse & Theft

  • jannie
    Posted at 17:22h, 11 April

    Wow, what a way to cheat the taxpayers. Hopefully, she didn’t run on an “ethical” stand. How can you be “2” individuals when you are only one person.

  • james oconnor
    Posted at 18:03h, 11 April

    WTH has happened to our state? Hey JB where were you on this one?

  • Phyllis Shanks
    Posted at 13:01h, 12 April

    I lived in Bolingbrook from 1979 – 2008. I never knew a more dedicated, honest hard working person than Carol Penning. I did not know about this hiring herself as assistant, but I can tell you the listed salary of 20,000 would be unfair for the job she does. Sounds like it was a work around to pay her a fair salary. She is worth every bit of the 70 plus thousand salary! Who works full time in a professional position for 20,000 for 29 years? My husband was on the fire department so I was at many village events and saw how things worked in the village offices. She deserves every bit of the salary she has gotten according to your figures. Maybe they should change the law to pay her better but I assure you, she would never do something illegal or unethical.

    • Lori Dumycz
      Posted at 18:56h, 12 April

      i couldn’t agree more. The amount of people she helps is astounding. She has one of the largest hearts!

    • 1mmf27
      Posted at 08:18h, 13 April

      She should have petitioned to get salary increase rather than cook up a scheme.

      Does she get double pension? Double vacation/sick days ?

    • Laura
      Posted at 12:04h, 13 April

      Alright Carol…stop the egregious self character reference…

      All seriousness if the position warranted more compensation there are more legit/ethical ways to attain it. If there’s a book throw it at her!

  • Elden
    Posted at 16:37h, 12 April

    Sounds to me like a hit piece by the same slags that brought you the DuPage Township whirling dervish! This so-called “Edgar County Watchdogs” have, apparently, a hidden agenda and are tied to shadowy slime balls looking to stir up trouble in our area! Carol deserves EVERY damn penny she’s paid for doing this thankless job for ungrateful locals! Thanks to filthy trash like ECWD and Chicago in-breds infesting this beautiful community, it’s like enduring a constant civil war against our leaders, minus that crybaby on the Board of Trustees (non-leader)!! It’d be nice to build a wall around Bolingbrook to keep the scum out for good!!!

    • 1mmf27
      Posted at 08:35h, 14 April

      How is this a hit piece? It’s clearly illegal. It shouldn’t be happening. It was reported on. Are you saying that it’s ok to break the law? All laws? Which laws can someone in Bolingbrook break? Does it depend on your “status”? It it ok as long as no one finds out?

  • Beef
    Posted at 23:46h, 12 April

    Dont know her, just read the article and looked at her bio….
    1. Is the assistant actually paid twice as much than the clerk? I would throw the red flag of maybe restructuring the pay grades of positions if that was the case, or reread the knock piece before u submit it, especially on someone who has a bio like hers.
    2. I dont see the issue with someone doing two jobs and getting paid for both. Presuming she is fulfilling the duties of said secondary position. I do have beef when people who do two jobs or more and get paid for one.
    3. Its peculiar to say the least that after how many years that this is coming to light. I doubt that a clerk is their own boss and would probably have to have an assistants hiring approved by someone hiring than one self… so any accountability for those higher than herself if this is so wrong?
    4. Im gonna call it as i see it. A knock piece. So who did this lady piss off and why is this all of a sudden a thing? Im sure tax dollars are wasted left n right everywhere, but what did Carol s. Penning do that after how long of doing this that shes getting the spot light? No bigger fishes to fry? Personal vendetta?
    Again, id imagine this would have to work its way, of hiring oneself, through certain channels, in which apparently its cleared, so is Mrs/Miss Penning the issue? Or something higher?
    Im a taxpayer in Bolingbrook and this clearly sparks my interest, so perhaps whomever wrote this may want to elaborate more. Cause as far as i see. Someone with an impressive bio, who gave many years to Bolingbrook, (thanks for your service Penning) whos probably ready to retire, is gonna get hung out to dry.
    Finally. On the vice. If she is breaking some big big rule. Do u go after the street corner dealer, or the big time distributor? (Relating to drugs). ( extra 20k, divided by the numbers of taxpayers in bolingbrook, she stole like 40 bucks from everyone presuming those were tax payers the entire time shes working the system)

    • Kirk Allen
      Posted at 06:04h, 13 April

      It came to light because of the law trying to be passed to make this kind of thing legal. Legislatures specifically pointed to this situation so it is clear they know it is wrong and are now appear to be providing cover. And no, we do not go after the street corner dealer any more than we go “after” any public official. As an organization our work is related to local government accountability, not tracking down criminals on street corners who have nothing to do with local government activities.

    • Koz
      Posted at 13:13h, 13 April

      Someone wants her job!

  • Dina Fitzgerald
    Posted at 07:39h, 13 April

    I left there years ago, Check all the employees I am sure you will find more.

  • Carol Penning
    Posted at 10:34h, 13 April

    A Response to the Edgar County Watchdogs – Carol Penning, Bolingbrook Village Clerk – Saturday, April 13, 2019

    I was very disappointed to see your recent post about me in your Edgar County Watchdogs blog. You published before verifying your facts. I must now set the record straight. As the duly elected Municipal Clerk of the Village of Bolingbrook, I have not hired myself as an assistant, contrary to what you said. I would not, and could not do any such thing. I have no authority to hire or fire.

    As the elected part-time Village Clerk, I perform such duties as take the minutes at of Village Board proceedings, record the votes, make sure they and a great many other documents are entered into the official public record as it relates to Illinois State Statute requirements. I am also, separately, an employee of the Village in the Executive Department. In fact, I was an employee of the village long before I was ever elected to the position of clerk.

    It was in 1979 when I first started working for the Village. I was originally hired part-time in the Finance Department, then promoted to a full-time clerk/typist position in the clerk’s office. In 1980, when both the elected Village Clerk and the appointed Deputy Clerk suddenly retired, I was given the responsibilities of both the interim Clerk and Deputy Clerk until the next election. That was during the administration of former Mayor Bob Bailey.

    It was during the administration of the next mayor, Ed Rosenthal, when I was transferred to the Executive Department, where I worked as an Executive Secretary to the mayor and manager, and as well as the appointed Deputy Village Clerk. Currently, my employee position continues to be in the Executive Department, as an Administrative Assistant/Aide. I was hired in that capacity by former Village Administrator Bill Charnisky.

    So you see, you misunderstood the situation and drew the wrong conclusions. This much is true, I am a part-time elected official for which I am paid a part-time salary. I also continue to be a full-time employee, for which I am paid a full-time salary. Two separate positions, for which salary levels are set by the Village Board of Trustees, as they are for all Village positions. The statute you indicated that is being violated is incorrect, since I do not vote on any Village contracts or employment. The Village Board ratifies my position each year in the passing of the annual budget. The bill that was introduced in Springfield has nothing to do with me.