An effort to remove the co-chairman of an East Dundee commission over a perceived conflict of interest that involves Wal-Mart's plans to build a bigger store in neighboring Carpentersville fell flat on Monday.
By a 5-2 vote, East Dundee Village President Jerald Bartels' move to remove Frank Scarpelli from the planning and zoning commission failed.
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"I'm still happy to serve," Scarpelli said Monday. "I've been happy ever since I was appointed in 2007, and I believe I've done a good job."
Bartels and Trustee Paul VanOstenbridge voted to relieve Scarpelli of his duties, while trustees Jeff Lynam, Lael Miller, Rob Gorman, Allen Skillicorn and Michael Ruffulo voted to keep him on.
Scarpelli is negotiating with Wal-Mart to close its East Dundee store and build a super center on Lake Marian Road and Besinger Drive -- property owned by Scarpelli's family.
Wal-Mart's East Dundee store has been open for 21 years and contributes nearly $850,000 in various revenues to East Dundee every year.
But if Wal-Mart opens a store in Carpentersville -- as it plans to do by 2015 -- that money will dry up in East Dundee.
Bartels says Scarpelli should have stepped down from the commission as soon as he started talking to Wal-Mart. While Scarpelli's discussions with the company were ongoing, East Dundee leaders were trying to meet with Wal-Mart officials to keep the world's largest retailer in town, Bartels said.
"He knew quite well why they weren't calling us back," Bartels said. "Because they were working with him and his folks."
Other trustees said it isn't fair to point the finger at Scarpelli, as Wal-Mart had announced plans to leave the village six years ago.
Trustee Ruffulo initially said he'd remove Scarpelli from the commission, but changed his mind after he talked to him.
Ruffulo later determined there was no malfeasance on Scarpelli's part, and that he is not to blame for store's looming departure. He also didn't like the message Scarpelli's ouster would send.
"What we're telling the world in this is, 'Frank took the Walmart away from us -- you're fired,'" Ruffulo said.
What bothered Gorman the most was the suggestion that Scarpelli did something wrong by being a businessman; Scarpelli has said Wal-Mart approached the family, not the other way around.
"There's an inference that there's some knowledge that Frank had about the Walmart that caused him to lure Wal-Mart to relocate there, and that's not the case at all," Gorman said, adding that nothing involving Wal-Mart came before the commission that Scarpelli co-chairs.
VanOstenbridge saw it another way.
"Simply put, we have a man that is sitting on (planning and zoning), who is serving the village government, who is also competing for the same business as we are less than a mile from our border," he said. "I've had a problem with that since day one."