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Joliet inspector general finds no wrongdoing in campaign mailer, police list probe

An investigation into a potential leak of city information used to compile a campaign mailer that targets Joliet policemen was addressed by officials during an April 3 public meeting.

The matter drew concern at a recent Joliet City Council meeting, at which time the candidate in question seeking election to at-large seat, Rachel Ventura, tried to explain what she had done. Two incumbent candidates took time to weigh in on the matter.

“I conducted an investigation that reviewed the existence of certain databases containing that information and the security of those databases,” Inspector General Chris Regis said. “During that investigation, I worked with… the [Information Technology] Department, our chief of Administrative Services, and also members of the Joliet Police Department. Working together, we identified several improvements we’re going to recommend moving forward.”

Concern of an information leak first came to city officials’ attention at the beginning of March.

“There was a concern that some of the information from city hall was used by a certain individual in the community to conduct a mailing,” Regis said. “Now, that individual explained to me the methodology that they used in compiling the list in sending out a certain mailing, I was able to follow that methodology. I was able to replicate the results that she achieved.”

Regis said to a reasonable degree of certainty at least, the information used in that mailing didn’t come from city hall.

“Our conclusions and our recommendations [aims to look at] moving forward so we can continue to improve our city government and the security of all of our workers,” Regis said.

Mayor Bob O’Dekirk said he’s relieved to hear of the investigation’s conclusion.

But the growing community concern for security of personal information persists, O’DeKirk said.

“I’ve heard from a number of city employees from several union heads expressing concerns that their employees are vulnerable,” he said. “Now, I know that’s a balancing act between transparency and keeping our people safe, but I think it’s a discussion we’re going to need to have in the next coming weeks.”

O’Dekirk stressed that it’s not only the police department that shares this concern.

“A lot of people stepped forward and are concerned that their personal information could be breached or accessed this way,” he said.

City Manager James Hock suggested that the city discontinue the way year-end employee earnings are made available to the public.

O’Dekirk said he wants to see the council consider posting city positions and salaries, but removing all names.

That information omitted would only be available by means of a Freedom of Information Act request if such a measure were approved.

Development of winery-distillery approved

Also at that meeting, the council amended the city’s liquor codes to establish an A-3 classification setting forth regulation and fees for craft distilleries producing wine and spirits.

“In this case, what we did was we established a district for microbreweries recently, but we didn’t address wine or spirits,” City Manager James Hock said. “This liquor license allows the manufacture of wine and other distilled spirits.”

This measure will help the city in supporting the development of a winery-distillery and special events space at 310 Bridge Street.

The property in question also required the city to grant a variance allowing the operation of a B-3 general business in an R-5 multi-family residential zoned area; it passed.

Catholic Diocese of Joliet, which moved their main facility to Crest Hill, recently sold the property in question to Sehring Property Holdings.

The developer’s proposal stipulates that they intend to sell wine and spirits. The building will include three tasting rooms, a kitchen area, and a bar and rental room.

Mayor Bob O’Dekirk said he’s happy to see what’s brewing in the city.

“I have to add, I’ve heard a lot of positive feedback from people in the neighborhood about this project,” O’Dekirk said. “I think they’re really happy something upscale like this is coming into the neighborhood.”

Councilwoman Jan Quillman agreed.

“These owners did it right,” she said. “They met with all the neighborhood organizations, and they sold their plan.”

Council OKs construction for new Laraway school

Joliet officials granted a special use permit to Laraway Community Consolidated School District 70C for the construction of a new school.

The matter was last discussed during a March 16 Zoning Board of Appeals meeting.

The measure, as is, approved will allow for the operation of a school in a R-1B single-family residential district and the use of a monument sign with an LED electronic message center.

City action allows school district officials to move closer to construction, which is set to begin in April or May.