BOLINGBROOK, IL. (ECWd) -
UPDATE 4-12-2019-1945hrs.: Mayor Roger C. Claar stated that the Village Administrator hired her, she did not hire herself. Our opinion is that it doesn't matter who actually did the hiring, but we are researching this new information for a future article.
It has come to our attention that the Bolingbrook Village Clerk, Carol S. Penning, has hired herself as her own full-time assistant village clerk - increasing her elected Village Clerk pay of an average of $21,000 per year, by an average increase of about $55,000 per year, raking in an average of about $76,000 per year in this scheme. This has been going on for the past several years.
According to Jason Cann, reporting from Bolingbrook, She has held both the elected position and the hired position since 2010.
Here is what Cann stated her compensation has been over the years:
Carol Penning - Village Clerk Salary: $20,703
Carol Penning - Admin Aide: $50,439
Carol Penning - Village Clerk Salary: $21,646
Carol Penning - Admin Aide: $53,542
Carol Penning - Village Clerk Salary: $20,259
Carol Penning - Admin Aide: $52,304
Carol Penning - Village Clerk Salary: $23,539
Carol Penning - Admin Aide: $53,436
Carol Penning - Village Clerk Salary: $21,077
Carol Penning - Admin Aide to Village Clerk: $55,238
Carol Penning - Village Clerk Salary: $22,196
Carol Penning - Admin Aide to Village Clerk: $58,111
Carol Penning - Village Clerk Salary: $21,813
Carol Penning - Admin Aide to Village Clerk: $57,788
Carol Penning - Village Clerk Salary: $22,249
Carol Penning - Admin Aide to Village Clerk: $59,242
According to her online bio, she was well aware of the responsibilities of the Village Clerk's position long before becoming elected 29 years ago.
She is apparently using this section of the Illinois Municipal Code as justification (no mention appointing yourself):
(65 ILCS 5/3.1-10-45)
(from Ch. 24, par.
Sec.3.1-10-45. Appointment of subordinates. The municipal comptroller (if there is one), municipal clerk, municipal treasurer, and city collector,severally, shall appoint the various clerks and subordinates in their respective offices authorized by the corporate authorities. Those officers shall be held responsible, severally, for the fidelity of all persons so appointed by them. This power, however, is subject to the provisions of Division 1 of Article 10. The power of municipal clerks is also subject to the provisions of Section 3.1-30-10.
The Illinois Constitution prohibits elected officials from increasing or decreasing their compensation during their term of office, and if hiring yourself as your own assistant is not increasing your compensation, I don't know what is. Constitutional violations should be prosecuted.
She got elected, hired herself, and is her own supervisor - just what we talked about in HB3501, if it ever makes it out of the Senate.
If she was so busy "as the elected Clerk" that she needed an assistant, how could anyone with a sane mind think hiring yourself as your assistance would ease the workload? We believe this was an in-your-face money grab at taxpayer's expense.
The Village of Bolingbrook even "passed an Ordinance" authorizing her to hire herself - never mind the fact that no unit of local government can pass an Ordinance that would be in violation of a State law. Bolingbrook needs to immediately rescind that unlawful ordinance.
This is also appears to be prohibited under Section 3 of the Public Officer Prohibited Activities Act, Prohibited Interest in Contracts:
Prohibited interest in contracts.
(a) No person holding any office, either by election or appointment under the laws or Constitution of this State, may be in any manner financially interested directly in his own name or indirectly in the name of any other person, association, trust, or corporation, in any contract or the performance of any work in the making or letting of which such officer may be called upon to act or vote. No such officer may represent, either as agent or otherwise, any person, association, trust, or corporation, with respect to any application or bid for any contract or work in regard to which such officer may be called upon to vote. Nor may any such officer take or receive, or offer to take or receive, either directly or indirectly, any money or other thing of value as a gift or bribe or means of influencing his vote or action in his official character. Any contract made and procured in violation hereof is void.
There are some exceptions to this Article 3, but none of them apply here.
Now comes the fun part - we believe the Village knows it's illegal because this situation in Bolingbrook is the reason HB3501 was invented.
The Clerk, Trustees, and Village President need to be held accountable for actions they have taken.