In a recent letter to Island Lake officials, attorney David McArdle insisted neither he nor his law firm serve the village in any capacity -- even though they do under the terms of a 2011 settlement.
With McArdle's statement in hand, the village board on Thursday will vote to terminate its contract with the firm.
"By ordinance, they (the trustees) deserve to have somebody in that position that they can rely on for a trusted opinion," Mayor Debbie Herrmann said Wednesday.
McArdle doesn't object.
"That action was taken when the former board was politically aligned in a certain way," he told the Daily Herald in an email. "Circumstances beyond my understanding or imagination have changed that alignment and I was caught in the middle."
Based in Crystal Lake, McArdle is a partner with Zukowski, Rogers, Flood and McArdle.
In early 2011, he was hired by four trustees -- only one of whom remains on the board -- to represent their interests in a fight against Herrmann and her allies on the panel.
That battle concerned the legal bills and representation of the village's lawyers -- part of the Ancel, Glink, Diamond, Bush, DiCianni and Krafthefer firm -- and other issues.
Ancel Glink continued working for the town, however, because Herrmann argued the board didn't have the legal ability to change law firms. She promptly sued the trustees who'd engineered the moves in Lake County court, alleging they'd acted improperly.
The two sides settled the case in August 2011. As part of the settlement, McArdle's firm was retained to represent trustees on an as-needed basis, if they desired independent legal advice.
The ordinance called for a payment rate of $160 per hour, but the board never brought McArdle into play.
In January, McArdle reappeared as the attorney representing mayoral candidate Charles Amrich and trustee hopeful Tony Sciarrone after local activists sought to knock them off the ballot.
During a Jan. 14 electoral board hearing on the matter, Trustee Shannon Fox asked if McArdle's presence was a conflict of interest because of his status as one of the board's attorneys.
McArdle countered by saying he hadn't been contacted by the board in two years. The attorney representing the activists objected to McArdle's participation, but the hearing proceeded.
McArdle raised the issue again in a Feb. 20 letter he faxed to Herrmann and the board, in response to the Jan. 14 discussion.
"This will confirm that neither my law firm nor I am any sort of special counsel for the village of Island Lake," McArdle wrote in the brief missive.
In his email to the Daily Herald, McArdle said he sent the fax "to make it clear that I am not the board's attorney."
As far as Herrmann is concerned, the fax sealed McArdle's fate.
"If he has denied it, that means he is not going to serve as legislative counsel if the trustees request it," she said. "It's kind of silly to have him there if he's not going to be able to counsel them."
Thursday's meeting is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. at village hall, 3720 Greenleaf Ave.