Mundelein plan commissioner who wrote critical letter fired
In an unusual bureaucratic move, Mundelein's village board on Monday removed planning and zoning commissioner Ray Ladewig from that advisory panel Monday.
The move wasn't unexpected. Ladewig had come under fire from Mayor Steve Lentz and trustees after the publication of a letter he wrote to the Daily Herald in December.
Ladewig used the letter to criticize economic development efforts in town and the staff responsible for such efforts.
In a public hearing before the board's vote, Lentz said the letter damaged Ladewig's relationship with the staffers who work with the plan commission.
"I have lost confidence that Mr. Ladewig can be an effective planning and zoning commissioner due to his impaired relationship with the village staff," Lentz told an overflow crowd of more than 100 people.
It was the first time Lentz publicly explained why he and some trustees had sought Ladewig's resignation.
Lentz also countered complaints that his effort to dismiss Ladewig violated Ladewig's free-speech rights.
"The First Amendment does not absolve anyone here from being accountable for their speech," Lentz said.
Ladewig responded with a polite but meandering speech in which he explained all he wanted was to make village employees accountable for their work.
"I never envisioned that asking for accountability would make me unwanted on the plan commission I have served on for 13 years," said Ladewig, who also owns a business in town.
After Ladewig concluded his remarks, audience members spoke up in his behalf. They praised him as a sincere man who loves the town.
"He lives, breathes and believes in Mundelein," said Doug Cline, a resident and lifelong friend of Ladewig's.
Another speaker, Terry Schaul, said firing Ladewig would be a "total injustice."
Village board members addressed the controversy during the public hearing, too.
Trustee Holly Kim defended Ladewig, saying he was within his rights to voice his opinions in a letter.
Trustee Terri Voss, however, said Ladewig's behavior has become "too disruptive" to continue to serve.
"Tonight is about a 13-year volunteer for our community who, in my opinion, doesn't really understand his role or responsibilities," Voss said.
Trustee Ray Semple was displeased with Ladewig, too.
"You can't take a flamethrower to other members on the team," Semple said.
Trustees eventually voted 4-2 to dump Ladewig.
Voss, Semple, Ed Sullivan and Dawn Abernathy voted to get rid of him. Kim and Robin Meier opposed.
The plan commission advises the village board on proposed construction developments, land uses and related topics.
Commissioners are appointed by the village board based on recommendations from the mayor. Under a state law, a public hearing and a board vote are required to fire a plan commissioner.
Ousts: 'You can't take a flamethrower to other members'