Kevin Geary, candidate for Sugar Grove village president, is calling on his opponent, President Sean Michels, to show who has contributed to his campaign, before Tuesday’s election.
Geary is also criticizing the village’s longtime practice of using Michels’ father’s engineering firm for many of its projects.
Michels said the moves are evidence Geary “is trying to avoid the issues.”
“I have nothing to hide with the campaign contributions,” Michels said.
On Wednesday, Geary posted on his Facebook page what he has collected since Jan. 1, “to fulfill our commitment to openness and transparency,” he wrote.
Geary said he has raised $8,195. Those giving $150 or more are Sugar Grove residents Dr. Hem Aggarwal, $250; Don and Theresa Meisinger, $150; Jerome and Betty Rich, $5,000; and Ravin D. Ray, $500; St. Charles resident Richard A. Dahl gave $500; Rempe-Sharpe engineering firm of Geneva, $500; and Landmark Engineering of East Moline, $250.
Campaign committees that raise more than $3,000 are required to file quarterly campaign disclosure reports by April 15. As of noon Thursday, neither Geary nor Michels had filed a quarterly report.
Wednesday night, Michels provided a list of his campaign donors who have given $150 or more.
Overall, he has raised $11,115 since Jan. 1.
Aggarwal gave him $250. Other donors, at the $500 level, are Frederik Brown of Midway Lift; architect John Cordogan of Cordogan Clark and Associates; Local 701 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers; and Local 501 of the Plumbers and Pipefitters union. Sonnenschein Financial Services gave $300. Engineering consulting firm Graef, Producers Chemical, Alarm Detection Services, McCue Builders, Trotter and Associates and Tim and Jodi Turek donated $250; and Harry Childress and Walter Kosch gave $200 apiece. Trotter has worked for the village. Michels works for McCue Builders. Sonnenschein collects on overdue bills for municipalities, but it is not clear if it has a contract with Sugar Grove.
Geary has questioned Michels’ ethics in several news releases and on his campaign Facebook page. A group called Simply Honest in Sugar Grove has established the website michelsethicsissues.com; the website does not list members’ names. The domain name was registered by Jon Zahm, a consultant for Geary’s campaign.
Geary and the website point out the village has granted no-bid contracts, for many years, to Engineering Enterprises Inc., of which Michels’ father, Jim, was founder and president until he retired 2009. Geary said it has totaled $8.7 million worth of work, during a time when Michels was village trustee, then president.
Geary said he repeatedly asked the village’s lawyer about why bids weren’t sought, and got the “pat” answer that villages don’t have to seek competitive bids for professional services contracts. So, Geary said, the village doesn’t know if it is really getting the best price.
Geary, however, voted “yes” on at least 26 contracts for EEI from January 2003 through March 2013, according to minutes of board meetings. The contracts were approved unanimously. The minutes do not indicate that any trustee, including Geary, raised any question about the relationship.
Geary said he voted for the contracts “not to be an obstructionist. By voting ‘no,’ is that really going to stop anything?” he said.
EEI is also under contract as the village’s engineer, reviewing subdivisions, construction plans and other projects. It worked on the Mallard Point subdivision, which has had drainage problems, including flooded houses. Some subdivision residents blame the village for not adequately inspecting the work done when it was built in the 1990s and early 2000s, and for letting part of the subdivision be built on a historically wet area.
Jim Michels lent $50,000 in 2009 for his son’s run in the Republican primary for the state Senate 25th District seat. The committee for that campaign has repaid $5,000, according to campaign finance records. (It’s not unusual for politicians to owe debt, for years, especially to themselves or a relative.) Jim and Carole Michels have also donated smaller amounts to their son.
Sean Michels said the village hired EEI before he was elected to the village board, and that his father is no longer affiliated with the firm.
The village president says he prefers to focus on topics such as economic growth or trying to get a full interchange for Route 47 and Interstate 88.
“He (Geary) has no vision,” Sean Michels said.Copyright © 2013 Paddock Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.