What Is The Deal(s) With Ancel Glink?

What Is The Deal(s) With Ancel Glink?

I'll be honest here, I am not a big fan of lawyers. Maybe it is because there is a general consensus among the masses that most of them are lower to the ground than slithering snakes. But, personal opinions aside, I am logical enough to understand that America is a nation built on laws and because of that there is a need for competent people in the profession to make sense of a complex legal system. Let's face it, the majority of us just aren't qualified to navigate the murky waters of law and that there will probably be a time in our lives when we may have toseek legal advice. The hope, of course, is that we get one of the good one's versus the scheister. And from what I've read there seems to be plenty of scheisters within the legal profession.

I also believe that it is no accident that so many of our politicians in Illinois (and elsewhere) have law degrees. Sadly, many of them use that intimate knowledge of the law to fleece taxpayers out of their hard-earned monies to the benefit of themselves and/or their largest campaign contributors who are seeking to avoid paying their fair share of real estate taxes.

Speaking of which, powerful people like Michael Madigan and Edward M. Burke augment their political paychecks and lifetime benefits with that of property tax appeals. Who can forget, for instance, the ultimate taxpayer bitch-slap by none other than Edward M. Burke and his seeking of millions of dollars in property tax refunds for powerful political insiders?

And how can we forget that good ole King of Nepotism, Joseph Berrios? It seems to me that he has amassed his own fortune after serving on the Cook County Board of Tax Appeals. And the greatest irony? The people of Cook County elected him as the Cook County Assessor as if they had a perverse desire to flog themselves out of higher real estate taxes. Talk about voter insanity. But hey, it happens here all the time despite the economic repercussions to individuals. I suppose that that old saying about fools and their money parting is the norm among Illinois Voters.

I wonder, though, just how apropos that is when it comes to the practice of Municipal Law in Illinois? Thus I have to ask, how would you feel about the law firms who specialize in the representation of local municipalities, townships, park districts, school districts, fire protection districts, special districts and libraries and they may be the one's who wrote the standards by which those government units operate? And let's not forget that Illinois leads the nation for having the most government units in the nation. Hmm - Isn't that kind of like leaving the fox to guard the hen house?

Anyhow, a loyal reader of this blog from Harwood Heights asked me to look into a municipal law firm by the name of Ancel, Glink, Diamond, Bush, DiCianni & Krafthefer, P.C. (simply known hereafter as "Ancel Glink"). They represented the Village of Harwood Heights in a recent controversial redevelopment project involving a new Mariano's Fresh Market. It should be pointed out that Ancel Glink also represents the Village of Bellwood whose former Village Administrator, Roy McCampbell was indicted on eight felony counts of theft and four felony counts of official misconduct in 2011 after a lengthy investigation. However this is where it gets interesting as McCampbell was hired by Harwood Heights in 2009 (amid the Bellwood investigation) as a $3,000 per month Economic Development consultant.

That, of course, is the so-called "finger-in-the-eye" for my reader as she questions how that whole relationship played out in her beloved Village of Harwood Heights. Surely Mayor Arlene Jezierny was aware of the mess Roy McCampbell was in before hiring him and his aide Wayne Peshek. What is it, then, that Harwood Heights residents weren't being told by Jezierny and a Board of Trustees dubbed as her "Gang of Five?" Sure, Roy McCampbell was eventually fired in 2011 but why was he replaced by Wayne Peshek?

One thing is certain about this mess in Harwood Heights - it is so convoluted that it would take a scorecard to figure out who all the players were but here is how longtime Political Analyst Russ Stewart summed it up: "The 2009 hiring of Roy McCampbell as a $3,000-a-month economic development consultant caused the fissure.... At the time McCampbell, Bellwood's village manager, was under investigation. Wayne Peshek, McCampbell's aide, also was hired. They began preparing a "comprehensive development plan" which cost $1 million and "which was an exact duplicate of what we prepared" while Fuller was mayor..... In 2011 McCampbell was charged with fraudulently drawing salaries from 10 jobs and earning $480,000 a year in Bellwood. Jezierny fired him and Peshek took his place, for $1,500 a month." For those wanting the complete Stewart article, please click here.

As for Ancel Glink, they currently represent some 36 Municipalities or Townships. However, in addition to the issue mentioned in Harwood Heights, it became apparent to me (as I Googled and Binged) that there are a number of other Municipalities who have taken issue with their representation and excessive legal fees. Now I am no expert on law and am not exactly sure what is reasonable nor unreasonable when it comes to fees, especially without knowing the scope and breadth of what they are asked to do. As such I cannot make an informed opinion on that aspect.

However, it did trouble me when I read about places like Wheatland Township, Island Lake and East Alton, Illinois and their relationship with Ancel Glink. And if these examples are indicative of some sort of pattern to increase billable hours, well, then that should raise a flag for both officials and taxpayers. After all, smaller units of government are far more adversely effected than their larger counterparts when it comes to larger than expected costs for legal representation.

But rather than create a long-winded post about the circumstances regarding each of those government units mentioned above, I have decided to add a web-link for you if you want the complete story. They are: Wheatland Township - "Wheatland Residents Fear Legal Battle Akin to Grafton Township Case," Island Lake - "Amrich calls resignations by Island Lake’s lawyer, police chief ‘smart’" and East Alton - "Olin dispute turns into legal morass."

I am not exactly sure of what I think of Ancel Glink at the moment as I am still looking here, there and everywhere for more information. But, I have to admit that it bothers me that they are "The Firm" who built their reputation on being the "Educators Of Law for Small Government." They have "literally written the book(s)" on all things involving township government including "The Township of Illinois Laws and Duties Handbook" and "The Illinois Township Supervisors Guide."

Of course, that makes me wonder whether or not Ancel Glink are merely nothing more than crafty Master Architects of Legal Billing by virtue of their expertise in being both the educator and developer of these standards used by small government as well as being legal counsel? Then again, is it really any different than what Microsoft and/or Apple have done to suck in their long term customer base. Either way though, that doesn't mean I don't find any of that as being cheeky.

So then What Is The Deal(s) With Ancel Glink anyhow?

And how do they affect taxpayers?

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  • a. Affect.

    b. I don't have anything on this firm, but the Sun-Times has a column today about how all the law firms and PR firms are going to ratchet up the Metra mess to over $1 million.

    c. Personally I have more against the PR firms than the law firms. For instance, CTA has a $650K/year "communications" department with the head flack making $155/year. Part of the Metra $1 million includes ineffective PR. I noted on one of the Metra stories a Facebook comment about Madigan not doing anything wrong signed by Steve Brown, who the next commenter pointed out is Madigan's flack. Of course, you had Glenn Selig paid to brainwash us about Drew Peterson and Blago. I wonder how he is making a living lately?

    d. Remember that I said that the possible conflict of interest in Collins's firm was "Government Relations."

    e. I didn't vote for Barrios, but he is the only assessor who sent out a comprehensible notice of assessment. Of course, the condo association had to hire its usual lawyer to knock it down 30%, which, in retrospect, wasn't enough (my calculation, based on subsequent actual sales is 40%). The assessed value went up 12% this (nonassessment) year, but the actual bill 2%, indicating that it is a shell game no matter who the assessor is. But those lawyers are also making money.

  • In reply to jack:

    A - Thanks
    B - Yeah apparently the most well-known unknown, hadn't it been for my reader I wouldn't have found out exactly how big they are and what they do.
    C - I think you are making a very valid point with PR firms. Of course, PR also includes the slew of spokespeople like Monique Bond, right? As for comment's being added by "jumpers" that happens all the time. Matter of fact the first post I did on Vanecko / Koschmann "prompted" a high school friend of his to say how such a nice guy RJ was, blah-blah-blah. But I think I put him in his place quick and he gave up. Same thing when I did the PETA post, etc.. People apparently make a living at this just like bloggers recommending product (although that is supposed to be disclosed).
    D - Yes I remember and was duly noted. lol.
    E - I have a former colleague who lives in Hoffman Estates and same thing with his association on a lawyer contesting assessments and getting them knocked down. Personally, I have had zero issues when calling my Township Assessor as she is very reasonable when presented with facts. One of the best elected officials we have here and I hope she runs for higher office someday. She understands the connection between people and government. Can't say enough. As for Berrios, well I'd have to say what took so long as we get a comprehensive assessment notice in Will County. But yeah you are right it is a shell game - especially in Cook County.

    Thanks for reading Jack.

  • In reply to Michael Ciric:

    The only thing I noted is the obvious why do we need township assessors when there are county ones? Not sure what the township assessor does here, other than hand out appeal forms.

  • In reply to jack:

    You are probably right but in our case Plainfield Township offers many other services, have their own network of roads and bridges they are responsible for and generally aren't filled with any of the red tape found elsewhere. They are efficient and don't add a tremendous tax burden as they have been fiscally responsible. Personally? I prefer to deal with them rather than the county because I believe they understand our demographics and assessment values better. But yes, I suppose it is a redundancy we can do without.

  • Here is one for you on Ancel Glick. The mayor of Harwood heights was looking into a TIF before the Marianos deal came to light. The village paid a company to see if we would be eligible for a TIF. The attorney for Ancel, Glick offered to pay for the company if the village was not eligible for the TIF. The company the village hired did a review and determined that we were elgible for a TIF. However, the other taxing bodies in the village were against it and it seems to have been dropped. I am not sure if it was dropped because whenever because the mayor nor trustee will say when I ask them. The vilage paid good money and Ancel Glick pushed for it. Now the village will end up paying between 8 and 10 million dollars. This will go on the term of the loan which is 40 years. At one time the developer offered to loan the village $2M to buy the piece of property they sadi they couldn't afford and they asked the village to sell it to them for $100. Harwood Hts., and Ancel, should be looked into. I would throw in the economic developer and Marianos developer should be looked into.

  • In reply to roys:

    First and foremost Roys - thanks for reading and commenting it is appreciated. Your comment is interesting; I am not sure what the legality would be of Ancel offering to pay for a company in order to secure TIF eligibility but would think at the very least raises an issue of a "conflict of interest."

    Sadly, I think the taxpayers of Harwood Heights have been taken and will be paying a premium for a development that only shuffles business from one Village business to Mariano's. I can't see a net gain that would justify the loan over that 40 years. There's that fuzzy math eh?

    Harwood Heights, though, seems to have a base of activists and I think it is essential that they keep exposing the Mayor and the Gang of Five Board and mobilize voters. And I don't think party partisanship or affiliation means much there as everyone seems to be the same as it is where I live. So since it is a non-partisan and economic issue that is crippling HH, that must be message used to unseat these officials.

    Thanks for the info, will keep digging.

  • In reply to Michael Ciric:

    Since you asked me to look this over:
    1. It appears to be a violation of legal ethics for an attorney to have a financial interest in a client's contract. However, this seems to be a reverse situation, in that the attorney pays only if the report is not in the client's favor. But the question might also be whether the client is the TIF consultant or the municipality. If the consultant, it would certainly be unethical.

    2. This shows the general mess with TIFs, anyway. It isn't clear, for instance, whether a school district would have the power to block the TIF. But, as far as one company poaching another, the property tax and sales tax is certainly more than what they now have brings in, as it appears that any poaching would be from Norridge or Chicago, where there are supermarkets (mostly of the ethnic kind). Mariano's certainly isn't going to compete with the Norridge Aldi.

  • In reply to jack:

    Interesting twist with the reverse. But I agree this is unethical. As for Mariano's it is kind of like State Gambling - things get so over saturated that all you are doing is shifting revenue from one location to another with no net gain. So to take a 40 year loan based on a either a trumped (or even fair) number for Mariano's - is very fuzzy at best. This was just a deal for the sake of a deal among insiders.

  • Michael, Guess who we paid to review the contracts with TIF developers? Conflict? Ethics? Thanks for listening.

  • In reply to roys:

    I gathered. Of course having Roy McCampbell from Bellwood while under investigation / indictment serving as Economic Development Consultant and the fact that Ancel Glink is also Bellwood's legal counsel, well lets just say it is a convenient circle of influence. Yes I am listening and will continue to. Thanks.

  • Thanks for the commentary Mike, I live in the home town of Roy McCampbell, some of us feel that Roy has his hand in the back pockets of the School Members. Oddly enough Ancel and Glink is now the new legal counsel for the School Board brought in by the New Board President. This makes me wonder what direction the School board is going.

  • In reply to Snow Pusher:

    Thank you for reading Snow Pusher - it is greatly appreciated. Sadly, your comment about the school board situation frightens me. As I see it you may be looking at the same thing that has mired Cicero and the Morton School District. The kids will be the real losers while parents will probably see a bevy of higher fees.

    My best suggestion would be to mobilize the masses and attend those school board meetings to exert pressure and have local and TV News Media there to cover it.

  • In reply to Michael Ciric:

    We currently have a closed/private FB page dedicated to sharing information of the current board activities. We currently have 72 members in the FB page and this number is steadily growing as word of the actions of the new admin gets out. It is also rumored that the NEW majority of the school board are conducting clandestine meetings to pass new proposals without video and opposition of the other board members. We have so far lost 3 good teachers due to the hostile work environment brought on by the current admin.

  • In reply to Snow Pusher:

    Snow Pusher, I think that is great but it is essential to show up to those meetings and let them know - that you know what is happening and that residents won't stand for it. And if you have proof, whether photos or video of board members meeting outside the construct of the Open Meetings Statutes, well contact the Feds (not Lisa Madigan) in the Northern District of Illinois because that is illegal! Thanks for the update. If you like, you can send me an invite to your Secret FB Page. Again thanks for the comment.

  • Michael, Here is another tidbit about Ancel and Harwood Hts. The previous village attorney allowed a flat fee for meetings. When the new mayor came in she convinced the board that it would be cheaper if they paid by the hour. Shock of schocks, it was not true and a few of the trustees regreted that decision.

  • In reply to roys:

    Interesting. Yeah real shock of shocks as hourly rates for lawyers ain't exactly good business for those paying. Hmm kickback?

  • Harwood Hts. approved an ordinance for a note/loan of almost $4M to the developer of a project in the village. The developer was looking to buy two pieces of property to build a Marianos on it. The original ordinance was that the village would buy one of the properties for close to $4M and sell it to the developer for $100. In fact, the developer offered to loan us $2M for the sale. residents were furious. The village finally approved a note that the developer would get half the taxes produced by any business on the property and intended for the village until the note was paid. The terms are maximum 40 years and appox. 4% or more in interest. The ordinance requires any business to report monthly their taxes to the village and to the trust company that will make the payments to the developer. I have recently filed a FOI to get a copy of the report that is sent to the village but am told that I can not get it. At a recent village meeting I asked who can review the report. I was told the mayor, accountant and the treasurer. When I asked if the trustees could see the information the village attorney told me that the board would have to vote to see if he/she could see the report. When I asked who decided the mayor could be the only one to see it, the attoney said he didn't know. My first question to you is do you remember who the village attorney is for Harwood Hts? My second question is have you ever heard of a village requiring the board to approve a trustee so that he/she could see financial information of their own village? Harwood Hts. needs lots of help before it becomes another Bellwood. By the way do you know that Wayne Pesek is still our economic developer?

  • Thanks for the update "roys"
    Question 1: According to a Village Board of Trustees Meeting Minutes I pulled up for June 7, 2012 - the attorney's present were Rob Bush and Mark Heinle. Click This For A PDF Link For The Minutes.

    Question 2: Not that I am aware of since all Trustees should have a fiduciary function and obligation to their constituents.

    As for you FOIA - I would file a complaint with the Illinois State's Attorney's Office (Lisa Madigan) and the Better Government Association (BGA). The BGA may even be able to assist you. Last but not least, email any of the Watchdogs in the media such as Pam Zeckman at CBS2 Here is a link to her page where she takes tips: , Chuck Goudie at ABC7 (EMail: iteam@abc.com or NBC5 Investigates Believe me some of these guys love cracking a good one during sweeps season.

    Just give them the same information you gave me here in the comments as well as a header like Mariano's Developer Scam (and if you like can link my post as well for background info for them) and last but not least - No I didn't know Pesek was still there working in HH - so that should be brought up as well. p.s. one of my regular commenters "Jack on the Bus" knows law so maybe add a reply to one of his comments on my latest post and ask him what he thinks about FOIA he is smart as a whip on legal stuff.

  • In reply to Michael Ciric:

    Since Mike asked, what gets things going is filing a FOIA request, and all units of government, including Harwood Heights, has a link on its website. You have to do that and get a response before anything is appealable to the Attorney General's office.

    The 2 main catches are:

    (1) all one can get that way is a document that already exists, and you have to describe it pretty particularly The Village Clerk isn't going to go on a "fishing expedition" just to find dirt on the village.

    (2) the exemptions in Section 7 of the Act (5 ILCS 140/7), at least in Illinois, tend to overshadow the disclosures. For instance, I once requested a police report and got two pages of report with all sorts of stuff blacked out ("redacted") and about 10 pages of citations of why they blacked it out. Basically, those redactions are what are appealable to the AG. You should be able to get a copy of a contract that is already in force, but you won't be able to get any of the documentation of negotiations leading to the contract (exemption (h)).

    Mike is probably correct that if you have real dirt, give it to the BGA or one of the television investigative units, as they know how to worm information out of people.

  • In reply to Michael Ciric:

    Here is a link to the official version the the Illinois FOIA.*

    __________
    *Separate post since chicagonow seems only to accept one link per comment.

  • Thanks to all of you for your comments. I intend to sent the information to the state. I wish they would accept tapes fo meetings when they look into matters. I requested tapes of meetings where the attorney is hesitant i giving an answer as to who should have access to information. One time I requested a copy of the tape from a meeting and recieved a letter saying that I could not get it because it is just for the village until the minutes are written up. (Now, I have recieved tapes before so I knew this was bogus.) At the next meeting, the mayor did give me a copy of the tape and said that she wanted to give this to me before I blame the person responsible fof FOI. I told her that I was not going to blame the FOI officer because I have always worked with her. However, I wish I would have asked who told her not to give it to me. We need help. I have tried to send information to the entities that shoudl be involved but ge tno where unfortunately.

  • ROYS - Sorry I didn't respond sooner but this just hit my inbox for some weird reason. I get your frustrations although just let me remind you that there is more than one way to skin a cat and I have learned that a "well-placed" phone call to say your State Representative or US Congressman can help for a variety of issues; I have not hesitated to call my representatives in the past and you would be surprised at how helpful they can be in cutting through the red tape especially the nearer an election is as they still want your vote you know?

    And sometimes this avenue is more effective than staying local because the local network of politics tend to protect and insulate themselves. So perhaps it is time to move your concerns as a "taxpayer and voter" up another level Roys. Just a thought.

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