The Mayor speaks
....We are pleased to have received a letter from Mayor Don DeWitte, published this week, which delineates the city's position on a number of issues that The Examiner has raised. Actually, we are both pleased and surprised. Heretofore, the city's official response has been to ignore any criticism of its policies. Were we less cynical, we would assume that the Mayor's sudden urge to address concerns that have been voiced by many a St. Charles resident are somehow related to the fact that the Mayor is engaged in a election campaign.
....DeWitte asserts that The Examiner's expose of the battle between the city and police sergeants who have formed a union is somehow not in the taxpayers' best interests. Unions, after all, generally demand and receive higher wages than non-union employees.
....True enough, but the Mayor completely misses the point. For, if formation of a union is a fait accompli, then there is no benefit in fighting it. Indeed, there is no point to the exercise. If St. Charles had given its sergeants true supervisory responsibilities, as sergeants have always had in Morton Grove and Hazel Crest, then not only would The Examiner not have taken St. Charles to task, the ILRB (Illinois Labor Relations Board) would have agreed with the city as well.
....The fact is that the ILRB didn't agree with the city, nor with what we -- and the ILRB -- saw as transparently deceptive, last-minute changes in city policy to make the Board believe that St. Charles was more like Morton Grove than it is like, well, St. Charles.
....Our point, and the point that should be important to taxpayers, is that "you've got to know when to fold 'em". Continuing to pour money into this pot, when the city has a three and a five in the hole, while the sergeants are holding two kings, is just plain stupid.
....The city was not able to convince the ILRB that seventeen equals fourteen. Perhaps pouring more money into a legal battle, in an attempt to convince a court of the city's new math, might be part of some subtle, brilliant legal strategy, but it looks more like a spectacular waste of time and money from our perspective.
....Speaking of knowing when to fold 'em, we also find it curious that Miguel's on the Fox continues to hold a liquor license, after Michael Alverez, husband of the owner, pleaded guilty to gambling charges. Elburn pulled the liquor license for Alverez's other bar shortly after the conviction, but Miguel's merrily continues in business, making us wonder what exactly someone has to do to lose their liquor license in Don DeWitte's St. Charles.
....We are also baffled by Mayor DeWitte's self-righteous dismissal of the significance of the relationship between Human Resources Director Kathy Livernois and Police Chief Jim Lamkin. Most every town that we cover has policies in place that protect against nepotism and conflicts of interest. How can a patrol officer in St. Charles be expected to lodge a complaint against a police department supervisor with the Human Resources Director when the Human Resources Director is sleeping with the Police Chief? How exactly is that supposed to work?
....With regard to the city's finances, we note that holding capital reserves (money in the bank) does not equate to being able to pay one's bills (revenue vs. expenses). The city of St. Charles, unlike many other suburbs who have planned for a rainy day, can not pay it's 2009 bills without either: 1) raising revenue, or 2) cutting expenses. If this were not the case, the city would surely not have asked employees to accept a wage freeze. That solution to the city's financial ineptitude might even make some kind of perverse sense, were it not for the fact that the city has been unwilling to apply the same logic across the board.
....As detailed in a letter from the city's attorney, supervisory personnel are not being asked to share the burden of a wage freeze, along with the men and women actually doing the work. Instead, city bureaucrats may or may not be asked to take "furlough days", which is hardly the same thing.
....Moreover, the salaries paid to some supervisory personnel in St. Charles far exceeds the salaries paid to similar employees in surrounding suburbs. A St. Charles Fire Department battalion chief, for example, makes more than the fire chief responsible for an entire district in some surrounding suburbs. DeWitte may see nothing erroneous in this equation, but we believe that taxpayers may have a different view.
....We appreciate your response Mayor. It's about time. But we find nothing compelling about your arguments. You have, in our opinion, sold the people of St. Charles down the river, and it's far too late for you to reach for a paddle. Your ship, Mayor DeWitte, is sinking fast.