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  • Writer's pictureTricia Babischkin

Email: I email the board

Updated: Jul 4, 2020

On June 4th, I sent the following email to the entire board:

I'm reaching out today because as a new resident I have become shocked at the recent drama within our board of Trustees. I moved to Village of Lakewood a little over a year ago and prior to moving in I read through many minutes of board meetings and Planning & Zoning meetings to get a sense of my new home. During those readings of the minutes, I felt like I was likely moving to a fairy simple and drama free area where the biggest crisis were sheds, fences, and colors of homes. I saw mention of flooded basements, but having lived through two in my previous home with the city doing nothing, I solved my own issue (with sumps, back flow prevention and waterproofing) and eventually sold the home. From the minutes, I was impressed that the board appeared to even be trying to help the affected -- which was a far different situation when I was dealing with sewage in my basement. So, you can imagine my shock to not just hear of complaints over employee treatment but to actually see my Village President yelling at the Chief of Police on a video. I'm sure that you are as horrified by as any reasonable person in our Village is. But I could not understand what would drive anyone to be so angry, to be so unreasonably out of control to speak to another person the way the President did.  So, I did what I always do; I went back to my research. I combed deeper through the minutes to find what I'd missed; I asked for recordings so I could hear the words said, not just the summary; I read every word of our Village Code. I did everything to try to understand. And to be honest, I just don't. What I've found is that our current Village Administration sits in violation of the Village Code -- which in my mind is dereliction of duty. In article 3.14 (which is prescribed by the State of IL) we are required to have an Ethics Advisor and a Ethics Commission that sits outside (and unrelated to) the Administration and the Board. Had this been in place properly, the concerns that appear to be raised by the staff would have a clear place to go, be heard, and a resolution reached. As it stands now, the Board is basically putting itself in the dubious position of being judge and jury on its own members (as I've heard at least two or three of the Trustees are named in the complaints). I'm reaching out to you to correct this oversight, by insisting that the Commission be stood up ASAP and authorized to investigate and report the findings of these complaints to the board.  I realize that the Village of Lakewood is not a huge municipality with deep pockets, but as my Trustee, I have to trust that you are acting in the best interest of my tax dollars -- and that means (at least in light of current events) that you push for an open, independent investigation so that we can close the door on any risk of lawsuit by the Village Staff. I feel that the risk of inaction far exceeds my willingness to risk our tax dollars -- at the end of the day, I would rather the Board use those dollars for enhancing the Village; growing development; and increasing services than to pay for attorney fees and a potential suit. Without this required Ethics Commission, I feel that we are further open to suit as it is a very clear violation of the Village Code (and the state code than mandated it). And frankly, if we are being real for a moment --- if there is no basis for these complaints, why not have an independent party confirm that? What's the risk there? The bigger risk is not acting and the public actions to date make it feel like there is something real to hide. I've always been taught that in the absence of information, it is human nature to fill in the blanks with the negative -- when the answer is so simple and already inside our code, why allow there to be this absence? I welcome discussing these issues with you personally.  I'm sending you this email to beg for your support of our village employees, ethics in our government -- which appears to be sorely lacking, and a quick and solid resolution so you can get back to the job of focusing on what makes the Village a great place to live. PLEASE I'm begging you -- work with the other Trustees to push for what is right.

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