By Kevin Beese
BROADVIEW | Broadview is bringing on a politically connected law firm to represent the village in legal matters.
Four of the five new hires made political contributions to the party in charge or the former mayor.
Del Galdo Law Group, which donated $1,000 in March to the Broadview People’s Party, the party which won all open seats in this spring’s election, has been chosen to be Broadview’s legal counsel.
Michael Del Galdo, senior partner and managing member of the firm, also serves as the town counsel in Cicero. His firm has donated $67,013 to the Cicero Voters Alliance, formerly known as The Larry Dominick Team, according to the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform, an organization which tracks campaign financing.
The Broadview Village Board approved hiring Del Galdo Law on Monday night, May 1, by a 4-3 vote.
Voting for hiring the firm were: Trustees Judy Abraham, Verina Horn and Sherman Jones, and Mayor Katrina Thompson, all members of the Broadview People’s Party.
Voting against the firm’s hiring were: Trustees Tara Brewer, Judy Brown-Marino and John Ealey, all members of the rival Better Broadview Party.
Brown-Marino said that conflict-of-interest allegations have been brought against Del Galdo in Cook County Circuit Court by a towing company claiming that the attorney represented both the firm and town of Cicero in issues.
Brown said because of such concerns, she could not support hiring Del Galdo.
Del Galdo, who represents the town of Cicero, previously indicated he had nothing to do with his in-laws’ towing company, Tuff Car Co., getting a lucrative towing contract from the western suburb’s municipal government.
However, recently filed 2016 court records allege Del Galdo, a top aide and campaign supporter of Cicero Town President Larry Dominick, helped Tuff Car’s finances considerably by allowing the business to use a taxpayer-owned parcel as an impound lot rent free since 2009, according to the Better Government Association a partner of West Suburban Journal.
The alleged favor ended up saving Tuff Car an estimated $273,000 since then, or $3,800 a month that would have ended up in taxpayer pockets.
The accusation suggests a serious conflict of interest, and contradicts the town’s assertion that Tuff Car has never received special treatment and that Del Galdo had no involvement in the contract or the towing operations.
Tuff Car is owned by Del Galdo’s brothers-in-law, Patrick and Tim Potempa, and previously was co-owned by their father, Eugene Potempa, according to interviews and records.
Tuff Car’s donations to Cicero mayor’s campaign funds -total roughly $80,000 since 2005, records show. The West Suburban Journal spoke Monday, May 15, to John Fitzpatrick, U.S. Attorney, who could not confirm or deny that investigations are ongoing.
The Village Board, in an identical 4-3 vote, also got rid of the Ancel Glink law firm, which had been serving as legislative counsel for the trustees.
Village trustees had hired the firm feeling that village’s legal firm, Fornaro Law, did not represent their interest and instead represented the interests of then-Mayor Sherman Jones.
“If you are going to saddle us with this group of attorneys, with the performance that I’ve seen in this town (Cicero) and other towns, I am going to beg that we go out and have legislative counsel,” Brown-
Marino said prior to the vote to end the village’s relationship with Ancel Glink.
Broadview village attorney Mark Scarlato of Fornaro Law said the situation Monday night was no different than when People’s Party members were in the minority on the board and wanted their own legislative counsel and Better Broadview trustees shot down the request.
“They made their own request,” Scarlato said of the minority trustees’ request.
“We understand the dynamics of what’s taking place,” Thompson said.
Brown-Marino asked that one of the four People’s Party members allow for the trustees in the minority to have access to legal counsel by retaining Ancel Glink. Her request did not sway any votes.
“They’re being terminated,” Abraham said.
“When it comes to attorneys and how we interpret the law, and how we make decisions, objectively we simply need to define how we measure success,” Horn said. “… You can’t please 8,000 residents or multiple members that sit on the board. So how we define ‘good performance’ from our lawyer is something we need to come up, perhaps document it, and actually measure it and hold them accountable to producing results. If they don’t produce the results, fire them.”
Other legal firms being retained by Broadview are:
- Montana & Welch, which contributed $825 to the People’s Party and has contributed $9,750 to Franklin Park Mayor Barrett Petersen, as special counsel.
- Fornaro Law, the biggest contributor to Friends of Sherman C. Jones, a campaign organization of the former Broadview mayor who is a member of the People’s Party. Fornaro has contributed $11,060 to Jones’ campaign fund since 2012, including a $2,900 donation in August, according to the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform.
- Joseph Ponsetto, who between 2005-11 donated $4,350 to former state Rep. Karen Yarbrough, D-Maywood, who is now Cook County recorder of deeds, as village prosecutor. From 2009-11, Ponsetto also donated $1,050 to the Maywood United Party and $1,750 to Henderson Yarbrough Sr., a United Party member and husband of Karen Yarbrough. Ponsetto, a former U.S. attorney, served as acting village manager of Maywood during Henderson Yarbrough’s time as mayor.