Island Lake clerk distributes trustee's censure to area officials
With censured Island Lake Trustee Shannon Fox refusing to take action as ordered, Village Clerk Teresa Ponio this week emailed a copy of Fox's reprimand to area municipal and county officials.
The censure, adopted by the village board Thursday, Oct. 10, directed Fox to retract comments she made in a Sept. 25 email about a politically connected business owner involved in a property dispute.
If Fox didn't act within three days, the resolution called for Ponio to send a copy of the resolution to the email recipients.
Ponio told the Daily Herald she took that step Monday.
Fox has stood by her comments in the email. She believes the board's efforts to force her to retract or issue a statement infringe on her free-speech rights.
"I have the right to my opinion and I have the right to express my opinion," Fox said in a telephone interview. "They can't quash what I have the right to freely express."
Village attorney David McArdle, who drew up the censure resolution at the board's request, has said the document was needed to avoid a lawsuit from the subject of Fox's original email, Island Lake resident Mike Johnson.
The reprimand, which carries no long-term punishment, was prompted by an email Fox sent to more than 30 officials in Lake and McHenry counties, Wauconda and Tower Lakes.
In the missive, Fox spoke negatively about Johnson and asked the recipients to reconsider patronizing his business, Mike's Towing. She got involved in the dispute between Johnson and a neighboring couple after Johnson temporarily placed large, concrete obstacles on the neighbors' driveway, which runs through land he owns.
Mike's Towing is the preferred towing company for the Island Lake Police Department. Johnson financially supported Mayor Charles Amrich's slate of candidates in the spring election.
Johnson sued the village in federal court shortly before Amrich's election and before he was awarded the village business. Johnson alleged the town had discriminated against him by using a different towing company.
Johnson dropped the suit after Amrich took office.
Fox sent the email from her official village account. She identified herself as a trustee and leader of the grants committee.
The censure resolution states Fox's email didn't represent the board's position on the matter, and says she wasn't authorized to write the message.
The document includes an apology to Johnson and his company.