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Article updated: 5/9/2013 3:42 PM

Naperville councilman's inauguration party raises eyebrows

By Justin Kmitch

Within hours of taking the oath of office, Naperville's newest city council member already was making waves.

Dave Wentz, 50, raised some eyebrows following Sunday's council inauguration ceremony when he hosted a private reception across the street in the Naperville Township headquarters board room.

Some are questioning whether it was appropriate for an elected official to host a private party rent-free in a government building that is not usually available for such uses by the general public.

Wentz, a Naperville Township trustee from May 2009 through Sunday's swearing in, said he was disappointed the city wasn't hosting a reception for the newly elected officials, so he catered a lunch and used his key to access the township building to host his own party for roughly 60 people.

Wentz sent invitations to 462 people on Facebook on May 3, inviting them to attend the inauguration ceremony. "Dave Wentz is hosting a brief reception after the ceremony at the Naperville Township Building at 139 Water Street," the invitation read.

"I had family in from out of town for my son's confirmation and my inauguration and I wanted to have a place to celebrate without the confines of liquor and away from city hall," Wentz said Wednesday. "The township hall seemed like the natural place to have it, so I was given clearance by the township. Quite frankly, the township was glad to have it for me."

Not so, said outgoing township Supervisor Gary Vician, who on Thursday pointed to a township policy that the room is only available for corporate functions or local groups, including area homeowners associations and Scout groups.

Vician said he only learned of Wentz's party "after the fact" when township staff complained about the amount of cleaning they needed to do following the function. Wentz said he did not pay to use the room but did pay for the food from a local caterer.

"He went way beyond what he should have done and he should know that as an elected official," Vician said. "He happens to have a key, which he should have turned in before he was sworn into another office, so he can have a party? That's totally inappropriate because the average citizen, who pays for that building, couldn't do that."

When the Daily Herald called the township Wednesday to inquire about renting the board room, a reporter was told the practice of making the room available to the public ended about five years ago when staffing levels made it difficult to have employees on hand during private functions.

Councilman Steve Chirico did not attend the ceremony but said it "doesn't seem right to have a private election party" in the boardroom.

"I definitely would not have done that there," Chirico said.

Councilman Robert Fieseler, however, did attend and called the event "really no big deal."

Incoming Township Supervisor Rachel Ossyra said she will be reviewing township policies for use of the facility once she is sworn in on May 19, to "eliminate any future confusion."

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