After the backlash over Shorewood Mayor Rick Chapman’s use of a Village-owned gas pump in recent weeks, officials approved a policy May 23 restricting such access to elected officials.
In a unanimous vote, the board adopted its rules for fuel pump usage.
The board took into consideration the feedback provided by the Village’s auditors and attorneys when looking to construct the policy. Previously, officials had no rules in place to hold officials accountable. Board action codifies the procedure the Village typically utilizes.
Shorewood officials made no mention of the controversy surrounding its mayor at its May 9 meeting.
Trustee Anthony Luciano took a moment to address what he calls the “elephant in the room” and said he wants the public to know the board was misrepresented at its public meeting held last month.
Despite the information presented, Village officials refuted the idea that elected officials were made aware of the records that track the mayor’s use of a Village-owned gas pump. The board maintains that such information is delegated to department heads and only they are privy to that.
Luciano wanted the Village to look into hiring an attorney to perform a special investigation into the matter to provide elected officials with some direction on how to move forward. The board’s credibility has been weakened, he said.
“I believe it’s for our benefit and for the mayor’s benefit to get to the bottom of it,” Luciano said. “We don’t [want] everyone making comments about gas and stuff like that. We did our job and did what we were supposed to do. However the chips fall, that’s where they fall.”
Chapman said let it be clear that some members of the board are on a “witch hunt.”
Since last month’s meeting, Trustee Stevan Brockman said he has combed through the Village’s budget from end to end and wanted to know why the mayor never informed members of the board that he was utilizing a Village-owned gas pump and the way in which his usage was tracked. While such expenses are itemized in the document, officials cannot distinguish one individual charge from another as they are lumped together by department. The mayor previously referenced the budget last month and identified the way in which the board can identify his fuel pump usage.
Brockman said it hurts to know the mayor didn’t say anything.
Chapman disputed Brockman’s claim and said he tried to make mention of the fact that elected officials don’t see such records.
Trustee Barbara “Cookie” Kirkland suggested to the mayor that he extend an apology.
“The residents, board, and staff have not received any apology for his actions, but rather an apology for the disruption that has been caused,” she said.
Luciano questioned if the policy goes far enough to restrict elected officials from using the Village’s fuel pump.
Under the new rules, Village employees can be disciplined for providing unauthorized individuals with key access. Such a matter, if it were to arise, is to be reviewed by members of the board.
Luciano wanted to see if the policy could be further strengthened to ensure the public that elected officials are not using the gas pump.
The matter is addressed by not allowing them to have key access, Village officials said.
The board came to a consensus that performing an investigation is the path to be pursued.
Trustees Daniel Anderson and Stevan Brockman will each come back to the board’s next meeting with an attorney to consider retaining.