By Kevin Beese
Municipal attorneys and their fees have been a bone of contention with Broadview officials for two years and the last meeting of the current Village Board was no exception.
It took two votes at this week’s Village Board meeting to get the municipality’s vendors paid after an unsuccessful effort was made to withhold payment to Ancel, Glink, Diamond, Bush, the law firm which represents the village trustees in legal matters.
Trustee Kevin McGrier, who sides with Mayor Sherman Jones on most issues, had sought to have the $8,791 bill from Ancel, Glink tabled because he had not reviewed the invoice. He said it was not in the stack of invoices that trustees can review prior to Village Board meetings.
“It’s a lot of money that I can’t justify saying ‘yes’ to (without reviewing the invoice),” McGrier said.
The effort to withhold paying the Ancel, Glink invoice failed, 4-2. Voting for holding the bill for further review were Trustees Gwenevere Turner and McGrier.
Voting against holding the bill for further review were Trustees Tara Brewer, Judy Brown-Marino, John Ealey and Diane Little.
A vote was then taken to approve all bills, including Ancel, Glink ‘s legal fees, and that was approved in a 4-2 vote, with McGrier and Turner on the short end of the vote.
The board majority has been represented by outside counsel since 2015 when they passed the Legislative Counsel Ordinance. They contend that they needed their own lawyer for drafting legislation and contracts and other things under their purview. The trustees said the village counsel, appointed by the mayor, did not represent their interest in matters.
An Illinois appellate court ruled in late February that the trustees had a right to be represented by outside counsel. Mayor Sherman Jones had filed suit contending that the trustees did not have the authority to be represented by anyone but the law firm of Phillip M. Fornaro, the village’s legal counsel.
Jones has contended that the second law firm doing village business is a waste of taxpayer money.
“So now, we are paying two sets of attorneys. Instead of paying $200 an hour (for one attorney), we are paying $420 or whatever it is an hour for two sets of attorneys,” Jones said following the February verdict.
Brown-Marino said Ancel, Glink’s bill was higher than normal this month because of the legal fight between the mayor and trustees.
“It is because of all the litigation in the municipality,” Brown-Marino said. ‘They were in court because the mayor sued the trustees.”
Little, Turner and Brown-Marino will be leaving the board. McGrier will be village clerk having been elected to the position. Jones will be a trustee having been elected to the post. He was not able to run for mayor again because of the village term limits that restrict a mayor to two terms.