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?
Tags: Ancel, Ancel Glink, Ancel Glink and East Alton, Ancel Glink and Harwood Heights, Ancel Glink and Island Lake, Ancel Glink and Wheatland Township, Bush, Chicago Political Commentary and Harwood Heights, Diamond, DiCianni & Krafthefer, East Alton, Edward M. Burke, Edward M. Burke and Property Tax Refunds, Fire Protection Districts, Glink, Harwood Heights, Harwood Heights Mayor Arlene Jezierny, Illinois, Island Lake, Joseph Berrios, Joseph Berrios and Cook County Board of Tax Appeals, Law, Library Districts, Local Municipalities, Michael Madigan, Michael Madigan and Property Tax Appeals, Municipal Law, Municipal Law Firms, News and Opinion, P.C., Park Districts, Politics, Real Estate Taxes, Roy McCampbell, Roy McCampell and Harwood Heights, School Districts, Special Districts, Taxes, Township Legal Fees, Townships, Wayne Peshek, Wayne Peshek and Harwood Heights, Wheatland Township