County Executive Vetoes Board’s Hire of Schillerstrom

Will-County-Clerk-copy

Will County Executive Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant on June 18 vetoed the County Board’s hire of Robert Schillerstrom as a consultant for development of a new landfill.

An override vote on the veto proposed by Board Member Steve Balich, R-Homer Glen, at the June 20 meeting was moved to the board’s July 18 meeting.

The board voted to hire Schillerstrom, former DuPage County Board Chairman, at a special June 4 County Board meeting to discuss salaries. He was not present at the meeting.

Schillerstrom, on staff at Ice Miller LLP law firm, was hired as a landfill consultant to the board for three months at $15,000 a month, with an option for three additional months at the same price.

While other board members wanted more information, Board Chair Judy Ogalla, R-Monee, and Board Member Katie Deane-Schlottman, R-Joliet, said they needed to move on this and get the landfill plan going since the current county landfill is running out of space and it takes years for a landfill siting.

There was no resume attached. Ogalla and Deane-Schlottman said Schillerstrom was chosen because he was on the board in a county that had two landfills. As such, he was familiar with the process.

In her veto message, Bertino-Tarrant said another landfill consultant was unnecessary.

“Today I veto Resolution #24-142, “Authorizing the Contract for the Will County Landfill Committee Consultant”.

Will County has two consultants and full-time staff working on solid waste planning and landfill expansion options to meet the needs of the residents and to provide guidance to the Landfill Committee. The hiring of a third consultant, at this time, would be duplicative.

Therefore, to prevent waste of taxpayer funds, and pursuant to 55 ILCS 5/2- 5010, I hereby return Resolution #24-142, with the foregoing objections, vetoed in its entirety.”

Asked to elaborate, Michael Theodore, spokesman for the County Executive, said the county has two consultants for updating the Solid Waste Plan, which includes assessing a potential landfill expansion:

Geo-Logic and Associates (GLA) – Design, siting, and engineering for a potential landfill expansion;
and Charles Helston of Hinshaw & Culbertson – Legal counsel/consultant. Both have been retained by the county for more than 30 years, Theodore said.

At the June 20 County Board meeting, Balich said Geo-Logic is a respected company, but it is an environmental company. As for Helston, Balich said, “sometimes he tends to go off on tangents.”

Balich said the board’s landfill committee needs someone they can trust. He has asked for records from the County Executive’s Office, but heard they may have been shredded.

“We need somebody to represent us on the landfill committee … We don’t want to rely on the (Land Use) staff. Staff is doing their own thing.”

Balich said they need someone like Schillerstrom who is respected in the field of landfill development.

Board members on both sides of the issue have not brought up Schillerstrom’s political past.

Schillerstrom not only was a DuPage County Board Member, but County Board Chairman, a countywide elected position there.

He also ran for governor, but pulled out to support Jim Ryan. Former Gov. Bruce Rauner appointed him to the Illinois State Toll Highway Authority, where he became chairman.

Schillerstrom resigned in January 2019, after an investigation by the Daily Herald discovered he had been awarding high-paying jobs within the tollway authority to firms with political connections and relatives.

Before that, however, he appeared before Will County officials to tell them the Toll Highway Authority could take care of all the work needed on I-80, including the bridges, immediately, by setting up tolls.

Asked for comment, Jackie Traynere, of Bolingbrook, Democratic Caucus Chair, said the veto was a good idea.

“I think it was the (for) best. “We received little or no info on qualifications, and as some have said, to get up to speed, he would rely on the staff and the current contractor. So info would just be redundant. However it would have been a nice payout for an ex pol.”

Ogalla and Deane-Schlottman had said at the June 4 meeting they wanted someone from the outside, with nothing to gain, who would give them honest answers. Farmers Weekly Review reached out to both for comment regarding the veto. Deane-Schlottman has not yet responded. Ogalla issued this statement:

“I was expecting nothing less than a veto. Makes you wonder why they don’t they want the board to hire a person with knowledge about landfills that might uncover some questionable actions.”

Nick Reiher is editor of Farmers Weekly Review.

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