Mike Airdo, with the cooperation of his obedient allies—Greg Martin and Eric Shipman—successfully choreographed the political lynching of Village President Mike Kelly, followed by Airdo’s scandalous climb into the acting village president’s chair.
Several aspects of this disgraceful chapter in Bartlett history deserve our attention and demand our committing certain facts to our collective memory.
First, Airdo’s conduct to date has made clear to us his burning ambition to achieve personal political power at any cost. His statements and votes over the years lead us to believe his preferred mode of governance is arrogant, imperious, and dictatorial.
Airdo’s disregard for not only us but also the rule of law was on full display in his coup of the village presidency. Airdo, who endlessly reminds us that he is an attorney, asked Bartlett’s village attorney to advise him as to whether or not he, Airdo, had any ethical obligations pertaining to Mr. Kelly paying his property taxes (in full) after the first of several due dates. Not only was this maneuver disingenuous, it was ethically highly questionable. Attorney Airdo should know that it is his own, personal responsibility to adhere to the Illinois Supreme Court’s Rules of Professional Conduct. Outrageously, though, after the village attorney made clear that he was uncomfortable with the request, Airdo plowed ahead, arguing that the village should hire yet another attorney to determine his ethical obligations. In short, Airdo was willing to use his power to waste taxpayers’ money to finance and do his personal bidding.
Further demonstrating his disregard for the law, Airdo apparently conspired with other trustees to circumvent the spirit, and perhaps the letter, of the Illinois Open Meetings Act. On the afternoon before he publicly seized control of the board, he called Trustee TL Arends to offer a deal worthy of Rod Blagojevich: Play ball with me, and I’ll make you deputy village president. When a disgusted Arends—the only voice of reason and decency over the past four weeks—pointed out that there is no such office, Airdo scoffed: We are a home rule village. We can do whatever we want. When Arends still refused to be bought, Airdo finally dismissed her: I don’t need you. I have the votes. I will be the new village president.
It appears that he and his cronies had already reached an agreement during conversations outside of public view and beyond the ear of Village Hall’s recording system. Of course, it is easy to believe that this was the plan from the very beginning, hatched in secret meetings: Step One: call in a favor for a series of hit pieces against Mike Kelly at the Daily Herald; Step Two: have Greg Martin wave the newspaper in the air and publicly grandstand that he allegedly received two phone calls about the first of those hit pieces; Step Three: feign concern that Airdo has ethical obligations as an “officer of the court,” requiring the appointment of what would amount to a special prosecutor; Step Four: lend the enthusiastic assent of Eric Shipman’s servile mind and the silent acquiescence of Dennis Nolan and Frank Napolitano; Step Five: humiliate Mike Kelly and run him out of office; and, Step Six: seize the village presidency that the voters would not give Airdo at the ballot box.
But now that Airdo’s badly tainted reign is underway, we must concede that we do follow his line of thinking on the creation of a deputy. After all, it would be far too much to ask of a part-time trustee to fill the shoes of full-time village president. You see, while Mike Kelly was working tirelessly, getting things done for the people of Bartlett, Mike Airdo was busy not showing up for board meetings. Here’s the record of just the most recent period in Airdo’s staggeringly spotty public career: From April to November of this year, alone, Airdo missed 7 of 14 board meetings—meetings occurring only twice (sometimes once!) per month. Nonetheless, he has the gall to behave as if he’s demonstrated the commitment and leadership required to take the helm of our village, making plainer his utter contempt for the good people of Bartlett.
If portions of this editorial seem harsh, be assured that our statements of fact are supported by truth and our statements of opinion are supported by history and careful analysis. They have to be, as Airdo has attempted to silence this newspaper and others (by letters issued through his law firm)—threatening expensive, lengthy litigation.
There is, however, cause for hope. The scores of our fellow residents who showed up and spoke at last week’s meeting made clear that Airdo’s dictatorship will be short-lived. The pain, sadness, and anger among the electorate were palpable. Airdo, Martin and Shipman are now outcasts among their neighbors, and rightly so. Their prospects for reelection are rightly very dim. As for Dennis Nolan and Frank Napolitano, we would remind them of Edmund Burke’s injunction: “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.” It’s clear they did nothing; time will tell if they are, indeed, good men.
As for the rest of us, the many good men and women of Bartlett, we must do something…
We must remember.