Island Lake's village attorney is keeping his job - but trustees are shopping around

Island Lake's village attorney is keeping his job - for now.

At least some village trustees are dissatisfied with lawyer David McArdle's counsel and want to replace him.

But after a closed-door meeting Thursday night to discuss McArdle's employment, trustees said they don't have the legal authority to fire him because McArdle was appointed by Mayor Charles Amrich, albeit with the board's approval.

Trustees may not agree to keep McArdle aboard for the new fiscal year.

His appointment as village attorney was scheduled to expire at the end of the 2019 fiscal year, April 30, and appointments for the 2020 fiscal year haven't yet been approved by the board, Trustee Jennifer Villareal said.

"Appointments of village officers are made by the mayor with the advice and consent of the board," Villareal said Friday. "The majority wants new counsel."

McArdle attended the board's private meeting Thursday night but didn't stick around for the trustees' comments afterward.

On Friday, McArdle said he'd like to continue as Island Lake's lawyer.

"I put my heart and soul into the village-assigned legal work," he said. "I think I do a good job at a fair rate."

McArdle's ties to Amrich and Island Lake predate his hiring as the village's attorney in May 2013.

A partner with the Zukowski, Rogers, Flood & McArdle firm in Crystal Lake, McArdle represented Amrich when his candidacy was challenged on legal grounds during the 2013 campaign. His firm donated $8,500 in legal services to Amrich's slate at the time.

He also represented four trustees during a 2011 political battle against other village officials.

Prior relationships with individual elected officials "could easily create the question of who exactly is the client," Villareal said, especially if there's conflict on the board.

Trustee Richard McLaughlin Jr. said he's "lost confidence" in McArdle but didn't specify why. He also questioned whether trustees do, in fact, have the power under state law to fire an attorney.

Trustee Will Ziegeler wants to replace McArdle, too.

"We need a change of counsel in the village," he said Friday. "We feel this is best to move the village forward."

Ziegler called McArdle a good municipal attorney who "knows his stuff." But the village board is trying to move the town in a new direction, Ziegler said, and change is needed.

Ziegler said trustees suggested a replacement law firm, but he didn't identify it. He said the firm hasn't done business with Island Lake before.

Ziegler said trustees agreed to interview additional firms at Amrich's request.

Amrich couldn't be reached for comment.

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