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updated: 8/19/2014 12:51 AM

Des Plaines alderman wants to shift one of mayor's powers to council

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  • A Des Plaines alderman has proposed taking away Mayor Matt Bogusz's power to appoint a city hearing officer.

       A Des Plaines alderman has proposed taking away Mayor Matt Bogusz's power to appoint a city hearing officer.
    MADHU KRISHNAMURTHY | Staff Photographer, 2013

 
 

A Des Plaines alderman has proposed stripping the mayor of the power to appoint a city hearing officer, hired to handle local ordinance violations.

But Alderman Jim Brookman, chairman of the city council's legal and licensing committee, said Monday he's doing more research on the issue and decided to delay discussion of a proposed ordinance that would enable the eight-member council to hire the hearing officer.

"There's information that I have received recently that needs further exploration, so I'm pulling it from the agenda," Brookman told fellow aldermen.

Under current city code, Mayor Matt Bogusz is tasked with appointing the officer, with the consent of the council.

Brookman said part of what he's examining are legal questions surrounding appointment powers of aldermen versus the mayor.

Aldermen rejected Bogusz's appointment of David Eterno as hearing officer by a 5-3 vote in July. Bogusz has sought to replace current officer Chris Cohen to improve a process the mayor said has become too slow and inefficient.

But Brookman said changing the people won't necessarily improve the process.

"Let's focus on trying to improve the process without jeopardizing the fairness and respect of the hearing process," he said in an interview after the meeting.

Brookman didn't say if or when his proposed ordinance would come back to the council for debate. It was added last Friday afternoon to the council's Monday agenda at Brookman's request.

But Brookman said he called City Manager Mike Bartholomew before the meeting to let him know he wouldn't be bringing the issue up for discussion.

After the council rejected Bogusz's appointment last month, the mayor asked Cohen to resign, but Cohen refused.

Cohen, who has been the hearing officer since 2011, has been working without a contract since Jan. 1. Bogusz sought to ink a new deal with Cohen that would have required Cohen to submit to a 90-day performance review. It would have also enabled the mayor to terminate the contract with Cohen "immediately and at any time, without cause or reason." But the council voted to table consideration of the contract.

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