Herrmann: Settlement reached in Island Lake dispute

Updated 7/22/2011 1:58 PM

Island Lake officials have agreed to resolve the issues that prompted Mayor Debbie Herrmann to sue four trustees, Herrmann announced Friday.

The lawsuit, filed in March in Lake County circuit court, will be dismissed if the village board approves an unspecified number of resolutions at its Aug. 11 meeting, Herrmann said in a brief news release.


The announcement came two days after Herrmann met with most of the board in closed session to discuss the conflicts that led to her suing trustees Laurie Rabattini and Donna O'Malley and now-former trustees Don Saville and John Ponio.

Neither Rabattini nor O'Malley attended that closed-door meeting.

Saville and Ponio were dropped as defendants earlier this month because they no longer are trustees.

In a follow-up email to the Daily Herald, Herrmann sounded pleased with the proposed settlement.

"It was a unanimous consensus that we needed to come to an agreement in order to resume moving our village forward, and at the end of the day, we had achieved that goal," she wrote. "I am happy to have our village back on track. We have a lot of catching up to do!"

Rabattini declined to comment on the proposed settlement. O'Malley could not be reached for comment. Trustee Connie Mascillino said she is "elated" that a majority of trustees decided to work together to settle the issues.

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"Although we did indeed disagree on some issues, we never disagreed that the most important thing was to right the wrongs and move forward," Mascillino said in an email. "Ultimately that attitude is what made the settlement possible."

Trustee Thea Morris, who joined the board in May, declined to discuss the specifics of the proposed settlement but said she believes the terms are "in the best interest of Island Lake."

Herrmann sued Rabattini, O'Malley, Ponio and Saville during a power struggle that developed in January. That was when O'Malley, a former political ally of the mayor, began siding with Rabattini, Saville and Ponio on proposals that eroded Herrmann's executive powers.

O'Malley's shifting political allegiance gave the critics on the board a majority vote for the first time since Herrmann was elected mayor in 2009.

The lawsuit sought an injunction to prevent the foursome from hiring a new law firm for the village -- something the trustees did anyway.


Herrmann also wanted to stop the board from changing her ability to hire and fire personnel, specifically the police chief.

Chief William McCorkle has been a target of critics -- elected and civilian -- since he was promoted to that post in 2010.

Associate Judge Mitchell Hoffman had recommended Herrmann and the trustees hire a professional mediator to resolve the issue, but that approach collapsed after the defendants refused to pay for the sessions.

When the mayor and trustees met this week at village hall, they did so without attorneys or a mediator.

The proposed settlement will resolve "10 to 15" issues, Herrmann said Friday. She believes she has enough votes for the necessary resolutions to pass.

Even though Rabattini and O'Malley did not participate in the discussion that led to the proposed agreement, Morris said she hopes they will see they're good for the village and support them.

"I'm happy that we are at a point now where we can move forward and really begin working on the business of the village," Morris said.