E. Dundee mayor seeks to remove official involved in Wal-Mart deal
The fallout from Wal-Mart making plans to leave East Dundee for neighboring Carpentersville is about to hit the East Dundee board room.
Next month, East Dundee Village President Jerald Bartels will seek to remove Frank Scarpelli from the planning and zoning commission, which Scarpelli co-chairs and has belonged to for five years.
Scarpelli is also a member of the Besinger family and involved in negotiations with Wal-Mart, which wants to open a store on land his family owns on Lake Marian Road and Besinger Drive in Carpentersville. Scarpelli is business manager for the Meadowdale Shopping Center, a family business, which is next to the future Wal-Mart site.
Wal-Mart has been in East Dundee for 21 years and contributes about $850,000 in various revenues to the village every year — money the village now stands to lose, but hopes to recapture in other business ventures.
Bartels says Scarpelli should have stepped down from the commission once the talks with Wal-Mart started. He also said there are 850,000 reasons why the board needs to make a decision about Scarpelli.
"He's not working in the best interest of the village of East Dundee and should be relieved," Bartels said. "I'm personally not comfortable having someone on the planning and zoning commission who is debating and making recommendations on what's best for the village while at the same time is shipping East Dundee businesses to his own personal benefit."
According to Scarpelli, a broker representing a big-box retailer approached the Besingers in 2010 but did not disclose the Wal-Mart connection. That led to negotiations, which led to a letter of intent from Wal-Mart to leave East Dundee for Carpentersville.
"I didn't make Wal-Mart go out and look. I'm just a person doing a job," Scarpelli said. "I've done nothing to influence Wal-Mart. I've done nothing to influence the (Besinger) family."
Scarpelli didn't step down from the plan commission because, in his mind, his role on the commission has nothing to do with the family business and he believes he makes valuable contributions to the commission. But Scarpelli understands the perception issue and if Bartels wants him gone, he won't fight it.
"If he tells me he doesn't want me sitting there, that's fine," Scarpelli said.
Scarpelli added that six months ago he called Bartels to ask whether he should resign over his Wal-Mart connection, but that Bartels never returned the call. Bartels said he never received a call from Scarpelli.
Meanwhile, there are varied opinions on the village board on whether Scarpelli should stay or go. Trustee Michael Ruffulo backs Bartels.
"I like Frank a lot ... but you've got to draw the line somewhere," Ruffulo said. "It doesn't seem ethical and right that he would be working to take one of our businesses out of our town and put it into his town, and he has the responsibility to understand that. They're cutting our heart and soul out by taking Wal-Mart."
Given that Bartels has a history of locking horns with Scarpelli, Trustee Jeff Lynam isn't surprised Bartels wants Scarpelli off the commission.
In 2005, shortly after Scarpelli became an East Dundee village trustee, Bartels asked the Kane County state's attorney's office to investigate whether it was legal for Scarpelli to also serve as a Dundee Township Park District commissioner. Scarpelli remained on the village board while the case continued. He ultimately lost the case in 2007 and his subsequent appeal.
Lynam say's it's not fair to blame Scarpelli for Wal-Mart's decision to leave.
"They may be going into Carpentersville, but the fact of the matter is Wal-Mart has been communicating that they're going to move for some time now," Lynam said. " ... How does it matter where they're going to move?"
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