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Joliet mayor dials back

Megann Horstead-news@thetimesweekly.com | 10/2/2019, 4:01 p.m.
Mayor Bob O’Dekirk took time to address the mood surrounding the Joliet City Council amid allegations that have surfaced in ...

Mayor Bob O’Dekirk took time to address the mood surrounding the Joliet City Council amid allegations that have surfaced in a new reported leak at Tuesday’s meeting.

“I am going to dial those comments back tonight,” he said, referring to his comments at Monday’s pre-council meeting. “Quite frankly, I think—and I’m responsible for this to some degree but—the public arguing that’s going on isn’t helping. The people who agree with me agree with me, and the people who don’t agree with me don’t agree. We’re not getting anywhere, including on the council.”

At Monday’s pre-council meeting, Mayor O’Dekirk recounted getting a call from a local newspaper about a leaked report from the city. He said the information is a political attack against him, Councilwoman Jan Quillman and a member of the Joliet Police Department, Joe Clement.

In the report, the mayor is noted for making accusations about a member of the Joliet Police Department being “drunk as a skunk.” It also highlights possible backroom deals that could be in the works.

O’Dekirk asked Interim City Manager Steve Jones about the information and how it could’ve been leaked outside city hall.

Jones confirmed that only about a handful of senior staff members have access to the report.

“I will say there’s an ongoing investigation, which includes unfortunately our chief of police,” O’Dekirk said. “This is something that shouldn’t be announced publicly, but I think it needs to be because of the leak. I will say that I did nothing wrong on the evening in question.”

The mayor and the council do not have access to the report.

O’Dekirk suggested that he and Quillman are the victims of criminal conduct.

“It’s unfortunate that this happened,” he said. “I think it’s an embarrassment to the entire city council and the hardworking city staff that this took place.”

At Tuesday’s meeting, O’Dekirk suggested deep divisions have been shown among the council since the city removed the interim city manager duties from Corporation Counsel Marty Shanahan.

O’Dekirk turned to Councilman Michael Turk for ideas ahead of Tuesday’s meeting about how to bring the council together.

Turk made mention of council members going on a retreat.

Several council members spoke of the idea and how it could help the city.

Jones gave his input on the idea, saying that “hidden iceberg type things going on” between city hall and the police department are getting serious.

“I think to a certain degree with some of the things that have come up, perhaps we need some outside eyes,” he said. “Perhaps, we need to bring someone in here that is going to look at what’s been alleged. Perhaps, they’ll talk about how we could operate better from a communication standpoint, so these things don’t happen again. Perhaps, we could find out what are some things that we do organizationally that will prevent this from happening again and make us better.”

At this weeks meeting, O’Dekirk said he looks forward to the day when the investigation is completed and is able to speak further on this matter.

“We are going to come to the bottom of this,” he said.