As soon as Stacy Klodz sat down after speaking in support of Carpentersville's full-time firefighters at a village board meeting Tuesday, she says she received what she calls a harassing text message from the wife of Trustee Kevin Rehberg.
Regina Rehberg was watching a live stream of the meeting online and took Klodz to task via text message for failing to disclose to trustees her family connections in the village. Klodz and Regina Rehberg know each other from a local moms group.
"Just so (you) know, all the board members, including my husband, Kevin Rehberg all know and have known for weeks that your immediate family are Cville firefighters/employees," Regina Rehberg's opening message read. "Thought you should have been more transparent about that."
Carpentersville and the union that represents its 32 full-time firefighters are clashing over new scheduling changes that mean there is no minimum number of firefighters spread among the three stations, where it used to be 11 or 12. While the union contends the new staffing model will lead to slower response times, village officials say they would never do anything to jeopardize the public, and that the full-time firefighters are mostly upset because they won't be making as much overtime as before. The village and the union are currently working their issues out.
At the meeting, Klodz -- who days before the meeting contacted village officials to ask about staffing issues -- attempted to discredit a letter the village sent her in response.
During the texting conversation, Klodz, whose mother is a Carpentersville firefighter, told Regina Rehberg she was proud of her family and they had nothing to do with her decision to address the board.
Regina Rehberg replied that her husband would never put their safety in danger, that the cuts have already been made and that Klodz was "dishonest" to merely represent herself as a concerned citizen.
Klodz said Regina Rehberg's texts were harassing, and Wednesday she forwarded the texts to the entire village board, Village Manager J. Mark Rooney, Public Safety Director Al Popp and the human resources department.
"I am one voice who spoke respectfully for five minutes at a village meeting. That, in turn, resulted in a string of harassment -- text messages from a board member's family -- immediately after I sat down from speaking," Klodz said, adding that she will not file a police report.
"The village trustees have created a bullying environment where even their family thinks this abuse of power, this silencing tactic, is OK. It's not OK. We need to feel safe to speak without retribution."
Regina Rehberg did not respond to a request to comment.
Kevin Rehberg, who said he was speaking on behalf of his wife, says she was never trying to represent the board, which had nothing to do with the interaction, that the text messages were not harassment, that both parties have a right to debate issues, and the texts were a private exchange between two people who have had a falling out.
Village President Ed Ritter said the messages were not harassing and that both women have a right to express their opinions.
"As long as they're civil, I think they both have a right to comment as they see fit," Ritter said.Copyright © 2014 Paddock Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.