The Village of Oak Brook has cleared away enough snow from the recent blizzard to get back to business as usual.
But Oak Brook’s village president still is trying to get out from under another storm—of negative press.
Recently, the Better Government Association, in conjunction with the Chicago Sun-Times and the Daily Herald, ran two reports on Village President John Craig.
One report pointed out that, despite his attempts to cut pensions for firefighters in his town, his household is pulling in multiple public-sector pensions worth $142,000 annually. The second highlighted a troubling incident at a local nightclub, where Craig was accused of being drunk and interfering with the cops who showed up for a routine “liquor check.”
Craig confirmed his household’s pension haul. But he’s denied wrongdoing in the nightclub incident and has paid for a polygraph exam to bolster his case. He’s also suggested some of the village cops are out to get him for political reasons.
Craig has yet to publicly address a series of reform recommendations drafted by the BGA. But, at a recent village board meeting, Craig announced changes that might be regarded as a “start.”
From now on, all village contracts, and a regularly updated list of village employees and salaries, will be posted on Oak Brook’s official website, Craig said. What’s more, all Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests and responses will be put online for anyone to see.
Craig also relayed that, at his direction, Oak Brook Police Chief Tom Sheahan asked U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald to investigate the nightclub incident—and Craig indicated the FBI would be interviewing the responding officers. (A FBI spokeswoman said the agency doesn’t confirm or deny the existence of an investigation if and until charges are brought.)
Whatever happens from here, let’s hope our recommendations are taken seriously.
Among other things, they call for a ban on local political figures accepting campaign money from businesses or individuals regulated by the municipal government.
Craig, who also serves as Oak Brook’s liquor commissioner, has taken heat for accepting a $10,000 donation from Gibsons Bar & Steakhouse months after signing off on its liquor license. Craig later returned the check.
We’re told our proposed reforms will be on the village board agenda later this month.
Unlike a lot of the cars on the road lately, let’s hope our agenda gets some traction.
This blog entry was reported and written by Robert Herguth, the BGA’s editor of investigations. Contact us with tips, suggestions and complaints at (312) 821-9030, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.