Skokie Trustee uses public comment to highlight alleged corruption in village legal department, mayor warns trustee to ‘exercise extreme caution’
After Skokie Trustee James Johnson walked off the stage at a Jan. 16 village board meeting to make a public comment accusing the village board of political recruiting or favoritism in the village legal department, Mayor George Van Dusen admonished him.
Johnson previously walked out of a Jan. 2 village board meeting when the board voted on a routine ordinance that gave raises to village officials, including Corporation Counsel Michael Lorge and Assistant Corporation Counsel James McCarthy, whom Johnson alleged bribed and threatened when he ran. To the village guardian. Johnson’s four complaints to the Ethics Commission were dismissed.
Mayor George Van Dusen warned Johnson to “be very careful” not to use the village board meeting platform to make a campaign appearance. Johnson publicly announced he would be applying for the village clerk position when the outgoing clerk, Pramod Shah, announced his retirement in November.
When Johnson ran for village trustee, McCarthy was chairman of the Skokie caucus, according to the Illinois State Board of Elections. The Skokie Caucus traditionally selects candidates for Village Council.
“In my view, there is a simple and very effective solution,” Johnson said. “Council can update the process for council appointing village attorneys to our legal department in our village code.”
The village board considered making the legal department nonpartisan but decided to stay with the system, Van Dusen said. “You want people in office who agree with your policy, and part of that is having people in the legal department who agree with that policy,” he said.
Van Dusen said he has spoken to other village board trustees since Johnson walked out of the Jan. 2 meeting, calling it “childish behavior.”
“There’s discussion, there’s voting, there’s no excuse to get up and walk out, and then you decide, ‘Okay, that didn’t go well, so now I’m going to vacate my house,’” Van Dusen said. “Become a trustee and pretend you’re a private citizen. You’re not. You’re an elected official.” .