BOLINGBROOK, IL. (ECWd) -
Carol Penning, Village Clerk in the Village of Bolingbrook responded to our previous article, starting by calling the article "yellow journalism" and professing that her response was "well researched information" - we beg to differ.
As with most every article we publish, it was based on the public records of the public body, and in Bolingbrook's case, the public records were found on their website.
In an apparent move to reduce criticism, the documents previously used to write the article published several days ago about the Village Clerk also being the Admin Aide to the Village Clerk (here), are now missing from the village website.
Never fear, all is not lost, we have them here:
- 2014 Salary/Benefit Report shows Carol Penning as "Administrative Aide Village CK" and "Village Clerk" (see page 1)
- 2015 report: shows Carol Penning paid for the same positions as in 2014 (see page 1)
- 2016 Salary/Benefit Report shows Carol Penning as "Administrative Aide Village Clerk" and "Village Clerk" (see page 7)
- 2017 Salary/Benefit Report shows Carol Penning as "Administrative Aide Village Clerk" and "Village Clerk" (see page 6)
- 2017 "Total Compensation Package" lists Carol Penning's compensated positions as a combined total (see page 5) and also includes 25 vacation days...elected officials do not receive vacation days
PENNING: "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."
We updated the original article based solely on a comment made by Bolingbrook Mayor Claar which indicated she did not hire herself- there is and was no public record available to validate how she was hired (according to FOIA requests), however, the Illinois Municipal Code tells us who can hire assistants, or subordinates, to the Village Clerk, and that power rests solely with the Village Clerk and no one else, meaning no person but the clerk can hire a subordinate-to-the-clerk:
(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.
As all of the documents referred above, with links to them, used to be on the village's webpage, indicates the Village of Bolingbrook told the public that Carol Penning, the Elected Village Clerk, was also the Administrative Aide to the Village Clerk (a subordinate position). Now Mayor Claar and Carol Penning are saying she did not hire herself. Considering the law outlines it is Penning provided the authority to hire for the position of employment she holds, is she now confirming her hiring was done in violation of the law? Any such hiring by anyone else would be in direct conflict with the law that only gives her the authority to hire for such a position.
Regardless of the number of years she has held the admin aide position, she has effectively hired herself each and every time she receives a paycheck, or each year her position as the aide is placed into the Village budget.
PENNING: "Currently, my employee position continues to be in the Executive Department, as an Administrative Assistant / Aide. I was hired by the former Village Administrator Bill Charniski."
The position of elected Village Clerk is also in the Executive Department according to public records from the Village. Who does the admin aide report to within the Executive Department? Does the admin aide supervise the other part-time aides? Which positions within the Executive Department are superior or subordinate to the other? When you are working in the employee position, and someone stops by or calls to talk to the Village Clerk, do you tell them to leave a voice-mail, or do you talk to them as the Clerk while working as the Admin Aide?
PENNING: "The statute you indicated as being violated is incorrect, since I do not vote on Village contracts or employment.
Section 3 of the Public Officer Prohibited Activities Act does not require a person to vote, it state "ACT" or "VOTE" and in hiring or continuing the employment of yourself, you are "Acting" to continue your employment (provided you are working assisting yourself as the clerk (which you have not expressly denied).
Additionally, try this one out for size, the Illinois Municipal Code, it does not require the ability to vote nor act:
(65 ILCS 5/3.1-55-10)
Interests in contracts.
(a) A municipal officer shall not be financially interested directly in the officer's own name or indirectly in the name of any other person, association, trust, or corporation, in any contract, work, or business of the municipality or in the sale of any article whenever the expense, price, or consideration of the contract, work, business, or sale is paid either from the treasury or by an assessment levied by statute or ordinance. A municipal officer shall not be interested, directly or indirectly, in the purchase of any property that (i) belongs to the municipality,
We understand there may be some who claim there is no contract, only employment. However er, the Business Dictionary definition of employment contract includes an oral or written, express or implied agreement to consent to perform certain duties in exchange for an agreed upon wage or salary.
PENNING: "The bill had nothing to do with me."
Was that statement "well researched?
According to the Staff Analysis for this bill, the "Reason for Change" is due to the Bolingbrook City Clerk...
To say that our first article was "Yellow Journalism" and then claim your statements are "Well Researched Information" was wrong, based on the public record available from the Village's website and from the state Legislature.
- The Clerk does have the authority to hire and fire up to the designated number of people established by the village trustees for the Office of Clerk.
- The public record on the Village website listed her employee position as Administrative Aide to the Village Clerk.
- Public records were removed from the Village website after we wrote our article and the Village has not provided substitute or corrected documents in their place.
- Both the elected and employee positions are in the Executive Department of village government as found in the now-removed public records.
- The analysis provide to our Legislators clearly states the reason for the change in the law was tied to the situation in Bolingbrook where the Clerk hired herself, which is the reason we stated such in our first article.
- We updated our first article, prior to the Clerk's response, to state she did not hire yourself according to the Mayor.
- The law we quoted is correct, and does not require the Clerk to be a voting member of the board, only to act.
- We also added an additional statutory provision that supports our first article.
Carol Penning was asked for a response and has not responded to our questions at time of publication.