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updated: 7/10/2013 3:43 PM

Island Lake board could settle 2 lawsuits Thursday

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Island Lake officials could settle two lawsuits against the town when they gather Thursday night.

The civil cases -- one brought by local resident Greg Jenkins and his son, Kyle, the other by Mike's Towing of Wauconda -- were filed shortly before the April election. They targeted the municipal administration led by then-Mayor Debbie Herrmann, who was swept out of office on Election Day.

Both Greg Jenkins and Mike's Towing owner Mike Johnson financially contributed to new Mayor Charles Amrich's winning campaign.

The proposed settlement terms were not immediately available. Neither Jenkins nor Johnson could be reached for comment.

David Zipp, an attorney for the Jenkinses, said his clients agreed to drop the case this week in exchange for a nominal payout that would cover court costs and other related expenses.

"A lot of it seemed like we'd be hurting the same people (he) was trying to help," Zipp said.

Greg Jenkins filed his suit in Lake County circuit court against the village and political activists Daniel Field and Louis Sharp. Both men campaigned against Amrich and fought unsuccessfully to have him kicked off the ballot.

The complaint centered on a political website Sharp created. The site targeted Amrich, the candidates who ran with him and several of their supporters, including Jenkins.

The site contained a variety of allegations, some of which were removed before the site was shut down. It also reprinted police reports and other official documents, including some that concerned the Jenkins family.

Some of those documents revealed private information, Jenkins alleged, and he questioned how Field was able to acquire them. The suit sought to stop the release of that personal information and to prevent identity theft or other abuses, Zipp said.

"We accomplished that," he said.

Mike's Towing sued in federal court, claiming the village violated the company's constitutional rights by giving a rival towing company preferential treatment. That other firm, Sharp Towing, is co-owned by the same Louis Sharp named in Jenkins' lawsuit.

Mike's Towing has since become the police department's preference for towing cars in town.

Amrich said he supports settling the cases so officials don't have to deal with them anymore.

"I think it's kind of counterproductive to have this hanging over your head," he said.

Both plaintiffs have financial ties to the new administration.

Jenkins and his wife, Debra, made nearly $21,000 in campaign donations to Amrich's slate between January and April, state disclosure reports show. Of that sum, $1,750 was cash and nearly $19,247 was the value of donated food and website services, according to the reports.

As for Mike's towing, owner Mike Johnson, a village resident, donated $500 to Amrich's slate, records show.

Additionally, Mike's Towing was named the primary towing company for the police department after Amrich took office in May. Sharp Towing previously had the gig.

The village board is scheduled to discuss the cases in closed session Thursday at village hall, 3720 Greenleaf Ave. Votes could follow in open session, according to the meeting's agenda.

The board meeting begins at 7:30 p.m. and is open to the public.

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