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A Truly Shameful Performance

A Truly Shameful Performance

  When eighty percent of the Bartlett electorate chose Mike Kelly as Village President they knew what kind of a person they were putting in office. Everybody knows Mike. Everybody knows that nobody works harder for good causes, nobody is a more honest or more decent fellow and nobody cares more about our town.

  And there's another thing that everybody knows about Mike: He is profoundly human. He neither aspires to be nor pretends to be perfect. Instead, all of his energies are directed toward simply being good and doing good, rather than tying pretty little bows around his public image. So for those of us who know Mike – which is to say everyone in Bartlett – it really came as no surprise to learn that he's paid his property taxes late. That's just like Mike, just as it is for him to dutifully pay the full, scheduled fee for later filing without complaint. No big deal. 

  Or it shouldn't have been a big deal, but for a dying daily newspaper that has little better things to do than to swoop into town and stir up a wholly meaningless controversy and four fools on the village board who dutifully played the roles of outraged idiots to perfection.

  Mike Airdo, Greg Martin, Eric Shipman, and Frank Napolitano embarrassed themselves, and more importantly, embarrassed the Village of Bartlett with a performance that was equal parts childish and ignorant.

  The most charitable explanation for their shameful behavior would be stupidity, but sadly we doubt that even this quartet is quite that ignorant of the law as to actually believe that when an elected official chooses to pay his taxes could somehow impact the electorate. No – clearly something else is going on here, something that reeks of petty politics of the worst kind.

  The fact is that Mike Kelly refused to play political games, which are so very important to so many people who find themselves handed a tiny bit of public power. Like the Schemer In Chief (aka: Brian McGuire) Bartlett's Gang of Four hated Kelly because he refused to participate in their petty schemes and self-serving power grabbing plans.

  Mike has been a thorn in the side of local political establishment for years and the establishment finally accomplished their primary goal: sullying the reputation of this entirely decent man and getting him to give up public office. And now the door is open for them to choose one of their own – most likely the would-be Little Napoleon, Mike Airdo – to take over.

  No one should blame Mike Kelly for finally saying "enough is enough" and resigning. He is rather to be admired for putting up with so much abuse for so long.

  We're certain that Mike Kelly will continue to make invaluable contributions to our town in his quiet, effective way. It's what he's always done and we're lucky to have him.

  Unfortunately, we're also stuck with the likes of Mike Airdo, Greg Martin, Eric Shipman and Frank Napolitano. That's too bad, but we can hold our noses until the next election in hopes that there are a few more Mike Kelly's out there who will do the right thing and run against these despicable political hacks. We can't be rid of them soon enough.

Kelly resigns post as village president following personal allegations

By Cindy Lenart

  Village President Mike Kelly resigned his position on Wednesday, Nov. 16, a day after a contentious Village Board meeting where some trustees pounded on him for a recent report that he made late property tax payments.

  The derisive discussion was just the latest effort by select trustees to disrespect Kelly, who was elected to the post by an overwhelming majority of voters in 2009. In two and a half years, Kelly faced repeated challenges to his authority by those who served with him.

  But when trustees voted unanimously to retain special counsel to advise what legal obligations the village faced because of Kelly’s delinquent payments, he decided to save tax payers the money.

  “Last night’s board meeting made clear that the best way I can continue to serve our community is to step down,” said Kelly in his resignation letter. “I will neither facilitate nor participate in a distracting and expensive political battle with those members of the board who oppose my term in office. Though my sense of justice urges me to vindicate the truth and defend the rule of law, it is clear that a majority of trustees intend to lay the cost of that vindication at the taxpayers’ feet. This I cannot abide. Bartlett deserves better.”

  The published report alleges that Kelly paid his Cook County property taxes for both his residence and his business late in each of the past three years.

  According to Kelly, all of his outstanding tax payments were made within months of the due date, and included all required penalties.

  “I am a grown man,” Kelly said Tuesday night. “I paid my taxes. I paid them late, but I paid the penalty. No deal was cut for me. What can I say? I was late, but I paid them.”

  But Trustee Greg Martin, who led the charge against Kelly last week, maintained that Kelly’s actions were an embarrassment.

  “I was always taught to lead by example,” Martin said.

  “It is pretty evident that if the board wants to degrade me...you can do that,” Kelly said. “I have done nothing wrong. I paid a bill and I was late. I have done nothing immoral or illegal–nothing like that. This hurts me so deeply. You cannot imagine the agony I feel that I have to apologize that I was late with a bill.”

  Earlier, as Martin hedged into the conversation, Trustee T.L. Arends lashed out at him in an effort to stop the discussion before it began.

  “I don’t think this needs to be brought up at all. This is a personal matter,” she said.

  But Trustee Mike Airdo joined the charge, asking if the board had “any obligation with respect to the information that came to light. As an officer of the court, do I have any obligation to take any action?, he asked. “I have personal, professional and ethical obligations.”

  Village Attorney Bryan Mraz said that as legal counsel to the entire board, he prefer not to render a legal opinion, and recommended separate legal counsel.

  Trustees voted unanimously to retain special counsel to investigate the matter, ultimately leading to Kelly’s resignation.

  Thursday, Kelly talked to The Examiner, again emphasizing his disappointment in the outcome of his village presidency.

  “I won’t sink to participating in this,” he said. “My only option was to stay above it, or get out. The village would have spent a lot of money to fight this, and I won’t do that. My heart is broken and I have been publicly humiliated for paying a bill late. This clearly would be a long drawn-out affair, and I would be ashamed to be a part of it. I love this town too much.”

  Kelly said that he repeatedly complimented the village board and that it was essential they work together for the good of the village.

  “What business would want to come to a town where the board and village president are fighting over something petty?,” he said. “People need the work, we need the business, and we need the tax base. With the exception of T.L. Arends, all sense of decency has left our board. I feel bad for Bartlett.”

  Arends made similar comments following Tuesday night’s discussion.

  “I have been on this board for 20 years. In the past two years, I have never seen anyone degraded, humiliated, combed over, put over the coals–with no respect whatsoever–like this. I miss that respect, I really do. . . .”

  “I have never seen politics become so obvious in this room. I don’t like it.”

  Arends went on to say that she too had inadvertently paid tax bills late from time to time, before returning to the topic of mutual respect.

  “Some of you feel so important that you have taken matters into your own hands to dress down [others], ignore rules of conduct, etiquette and respect,” she said. “We have no respect for each other. It is all political, to me anyway, and I am sorry to see it.”

  In Kelly’s resignation letter, he acknowledged Arends’ principles.

  “I would be remiss to not thank Trustee T.L. Arends for her singular and vigorous defense of integrity and decency at last night’s meeting,” he wrote. “We are fortunate to have in her a leader who puts the village before her own ambitions.”

  Kelly also extended his appreciation to the village staff, residents, and his family, friends and neighbors.

  Later in the week, Village Administrator Valerie Salmons said work would now turn to filling the void left by Kelly’s resignation.

  She said trustees would likely discuss the matter when they next meet on Tuesday, Dec. 6, or could hold a special meeting, although one has yet to be scheduled.

  It will be the responsibility of the board to elect someone from its membership to preside over future meetings, until the next village presidential election in April 2013.

  In the interim, the board will also decide if that individual assumes the role of village president and resigns his or her trustee seat, or retains a trustee seat and merely acts as a meeting moderator.

  Salmons said Village Attorney Bryan Mraz is outlining the options for trustees and will present that information to them when they next meet.

  Until she receives further direction from the board, Salmons said the issue of retaining special counsel would be put on hold.

  Complete audio of the Nov. 15 Village Board meeting, and all meetings,  is available to the public under the village government tab, in the minutes section, on the village’s website.

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