Ruling: No Staackmann Conflict of Interest
An independent attorney reviewed the village's contract with a non-profit agency the mayor's wife works for and found no conflict of interest, the village's corporation counsel announced at Monday's village board meeting.
Questions raised at the last (Feb. 11) Morton Grove village board meeting about a possible conflict of interest were addressed Monday by Terry Hoffman Liston, the village's corporation counsel (village attorney).
On Feb. 11, Trustee Dan DiMaria asked if there might be a conflict of interest in the fact that the village was considering signing a contract with North Shore Senior Services to provide social services for Morton Grove, given that Mayor Dan Staackmann's wife works for that non-profit agency.
DiMaria and Staackmann are both running to become the Action Party's candidates for mayor in Tuesday's (Feb. 26) primary election.
Staackmann explained that his wife worked for the agency before he met her, and she works out of a different location in a different branch of the large agency.
Staff members had earlier said they researched all the available agencies in the area and found North Shore Senior Center was the only one with resources capable of providing the services. DiMaria and Trustees Grear and Gomberg wanted to delay a decision but the board voted 4-3 (with Staackmann breaking the tie) to vote Feb. 11.
Speaking during the village's regular board meeting Monday evening, Liston said she wanted to avoid the appearance of any involvement, so she brought in independent attorney Paul Keller of the law firm Ancel Glink. Keller has more than 20 years of legal experience working with municipal governments.
Keller rendered the opinion that the mayor did not violate any ordinance or statute by breaking a tie vote to assign the contract to North Shore Senior Center, Liston said.
Liston read two paragraphs from Keller's report, which said he did not find anything in the village code which would prevent the mayor from voting on the contract. He also wrote that the mayor would not stand to reap any financial benefit or realize any personal gain.
A .pdf file of Keller's letter to the village is attached to this article.