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  • Writer's pictureTricia Babischkin

The Rationale for Resignations

Over this past weekend, Bryan Younge stepped down from our board of Trustees. Over the past months, he's been getting an ever increasing push from some of the louder and pushier members of the board to resign so they could replace him with someone more amenable to their position. While I've been critical of Bryan's style, I've supported his concern for the staff and for the village -- I've thought that his public methods have not helped the cause. So, I wish him well -- I'm sad to see the seat essentially abdicated to majority board who thinks the state of our village is just peachy -- if all of those us who are watching would just leave it to them without questioning their actions.

In light of Bryan's resignation, I've been thinking about other resignations that should be forthcoming. I still believe that a leave of absence for the CAO and a full, true investigation that covered not just the employee complaints, but the budgetary issues, and the other concerns of mishandling the governing of our village would lead us to the right answers. But given that doesn't appear to be a priority from the board, I have determined that the only reasonable, and frankly, fiscally responsible position is to demand key resignations.

For the past months, I continued to email the board my concerns and even my offer to help. I don't plan on stopping doing that, I assume much to the chagrin of a few of the Trustees who tire of being confronted with facts and logic and calls for real action.

Here's my reasons in no particular order:

Phil Stephan

  1. Complete lack of understanding the implications of his repeated refusal to go through proper dispatch process.

    1. From what I can see, he uses this special access to our police department to request his buddies go through him for concerns either as an attempt to hide the complainant or to give preferential and unequal enforcement to certain residents.

  2. Probably repeated violations of OMA (in spirit if not in reality) through his pushing his agenda to the Trustees outside of open meetings

    1. Given the number of agenda items that have begun with "we've all talked about this and agree...." I can can only conclude that Phil is polling and pushing his agenda behind closed doors, instead of in the public view as prescribed by law.

  3. Failures to follow proper meeting procedures which thwarts discussion and possible dissent

    1. Phil fails to follow Robert's Rules (as per Village Code), talks over dissenting Trustees (especially if they happen to be women), and calls for adjournment before Trustees are done with public comment.

    2. Additionally, in the most recent special board meeting (9/3), when there were three members of the public raising their hands for public comment actually said, "let's see if there's anyone who hasn't spoken before" -- obviously cherry-picking the commenters --- sadly, none on his 'side' wished to speak that evening

    3. Finally, he has allowed trustees to speak during public comments (the only 30 minutes we residents get to speak to our board publicly) and use up our time -- at the same meeting, he cut the public comments short -- a true violation of OMA.

  4. Focusing more on the post board meeting beer than the business of our village

    1. I have heard and observed Phil inviting people to after meetings drinks before the meetings even began. It has been alleged that this is one of the reasons for the push to shorter and shorter meetings with no discussion

    2. I've been told that while COVID shut done RedTail's bar, Phil was seen bringing a cooler into the building to be able to have his post meeting drink

  5. Prioritizing his pet projects over the real needs of the village

    1. The Silo Project was $30,000 that wasn't budgeted; served NO benefit to anyone; and was money taken from RedTail when revenues were down

    2. The RedTail deck (and remodel of the industrial trailers we call a clubhouse) was nearly $200,000 that the budget couldn't handle during a time RedTail's revenues were down

    3. The Vactor Truck was a $500,000 (total with interest) purchase after a single year of contracting the work (with a company who charged Lakewood MORE than similar sized projects for similar sized communities) for which we only got one bid for

    4. The RFP for Marketing Services that as written will likely cost the village 6 figures -- and Phil is campaigning that the RFP is for website redesign only.

  6. Failure to understand overspending of the RedTail budget

    1. Phil has repeatedly told me that I don't understand fiscal budgets -- but I fully understand them -- I think he does not

    2. In the year before CAO Smith was hired, RedTail had a reserve of about $180,000 -- in two and half short years later, they have a negative balance of about $300,000 -- where did that money go?

  7. Solely authorizing the removal of the RedTail deck, without board approval while a Trustee

    1. Contrary to repeated claims, the deck replacement was NEVER approved by the board

    2. Phil apologizes to the board in March of 2019 for being "overzealous" in authorizing the removal of the ramp and stairs from the deck

  8. Attempts to intimidate a resident and a Trustee to alter facts or opinions on social media

    1. Phil appears to be obsessed with his version of the truth being the sole version on social media

    2. He's asked me to make 'corrections' and yet, when I've followed up on proof of facts, he does not respond

    3. When a Trustee puts out his opinion that a meeting was done illegally, Phil sends a missive to the Trustees and then reads it to all the residents demanding that the Trustee 'correct social media' -- what is sad is that Phil refuses to answer the actual question about whether it was proper to handle the meeting as he did

  9. Repeated threats or violent actions

    1. Threatening a resident with a baseball bat to a police officer

    2. Video taped proof of violent outburst at village hall towards a police officer

    3. Chest bumping/assault of a village trustee

Ryan Berman

  1. Overstepping the role of Trustee by interfering with the daily tasking of staff

  2. Conducting a flawed and misleading 'investigation' and presenting it as factual

  3. Failure to correct the math in his misleading 'investigation' on staff turnover

  4. Use of his personal email to obscure his violations of the OMA

  5. Intimidation of staff

  6. Intimidation of residents

  7. Name calling of residents including calling one of our sweetest residents a bully because she holds him accountable for his actions

  8. Harassment of a Village Trustee

  9. Either he or his wife should step down -- per the org chart, he is his wife's boss and that violates our employee handbook and truly this is a conflict of interest

Doug Ulrich

  1. Failure to publicly condemn any of the above

  2. Refusal to respond to a single email from a resident

  3. Threatening the village hall staff -- this is recorded

  4. Demeaning comments he has made towards female members of staff, female residents, and female Trustees

  5. Cutting Amy Odom off during her comments repeatedly in a prior board meeting

  6. Always pushing to close a meeting before the trustees have fully spoken

Jeannine Smith

  1. Complete failure to perform her job functions, including proper budgeting, end of month and end of year financials, writing her own requests for proposals, being able to function without daily phone calls to the village attorney

  2. Failure to ensure that Village Code is upheld by not setting up an Ethics Commission, requesting spending without budgeting for the expense, and presenting false facts on spending to the board

  3. Failure to respond to trustee requests for access to information without requiring FOIA which is a violation of their rights as a trustee AND has opened us to said trustees suing the village for that right

  4. Creating and supporting a hostile work environment

  5. Case building against the police chief, village clerk, and HR/Business Manager

Michael Smoron

  1. Failure to provide sound legal advice to the board of trustees of the village

  2. Failure to ensure that Trustees have equal access to information to prevent the FOIA overload

  3. Failure to protect complainants identities who are now suffering retaliation as a result

  4. Failure to identify the conflict of interest between defending Phil and Jeannine personally vs. the Village

  5. Failure to protect our village from legal action, Mr. Smoron, how many subpoenas have been served on this village this year? How many PAC complaints have we had to respond to?

Should Brian Augustine and Pam Eddy also resign?

I'm not sure -- Brian, other than the way he's voted, has yet to take a stand one way or the other -- which frankly doesn't, in my mind make you thoughtful and deliberate. It makes you a fair-weather trustee who is just trying to hide behind whatever hot head has the stage. To me, this in dangerous because we don't know what he stands for.

As far as Pam goes, I've spoken to her on the phone. I get the impression on the phone that she knows what reality is but hasn't been able to get through the fray to make any difference whatsoever. I feel for her because the men on this board do constantly talk over her, but I'm concerned her voice is too quiet to be effective.

We need real change in our village. We need a completely new board -- one not tainted with this stench of deceit, failures, and legal actions. We need to have a board we can be proud of and sadly, until all of the above resign we elect anew, that isn't going to happen. What's worse is that the egos of those most wrong are such that they are out campaigning for another term as your Village President, full of great little sound bites that fall apart when you ask even the most simple question.

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