Des Plaines aldermen postpone vote on funding Sayad's defense

  • Dick Sayad

    Dick Sayad

 
 
Updated 3/19/2015 8:53 AM

Des Plaines aldermen have agreed to postpone a decision on whether the city should pay for Alderman Dick Sayad's defense in his criminal trespassing case.

A "consideration of authorization to provide for the defense and indemnification" of Sayad, the city's 4th Ward alderman, was the last item on a lengthy city council agenda Monday night. But after some 4 hours of debate and discussion on other topics, when the matter involving Sayad came up, 6th Ward Alderman Mark Walsten made a motion to table the matter. The eight-member council unanimously agreed.

 

Last week, Sayad had asked City Manager Mike Bartholomew to put the item on the agenda.

Sayad was charged with criminal trespassing to property Feb. 27, two days after he walked into resident Dave Uhrich's house on the 400 block of Harvey Avenue to discuss a ticket for not shoveling a sidewalk. Sayad told police he knocked on the unlocked back door, but thinking the home was a two-flat, went inside and walked upstairs. Sayad knocked on a second door, and Uhrich answered. After a short conversation, Uhrich asked the alderman to leave.

At least two council members have publicly stated they think the city should fund Sayad's defense, since they believe he was acting in his official capacity as alderman when he visited Uhrich's home.

A city ordinance passed in 1988 allows for that possibility, though city officials say it's ultimately up to the city council and mayor to decide whether to pay or not.

Bartholomew said the matter is tabled until at least three aldermen agree to put it on a future meeting agenda, so it is possible the item could be considered at the next council meeting April 6 -- four days before Sayad's initial court appearance in Skokie. Aldermen could also take a majority vote at a meeting to place it on a future council agenda.

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Due to the time constraints, Bartholomew said it's not likely that Sayad will have a city attorney represent him in court April 10. But it is possible that the council could later decide to reimburse the legal fees of an attorney Sayad hires.

Fifth Ward Alderman Jim Brookman, who supports funding Sayad's defense, didn't say why he and other aldermen decided to delay action. The council took the vote to table without any discussion.

"It's tabled until we vote to put it on again," Brookman said.

Tabling the item could be an attempt to avoid a mayoral veto in advance of Sayad's court date.

Mayor Matt Bogusz, a political opponent of Sayad, indicated that he would veto any resolution that provides for Sayad's defense.

"Taxpayers should not fund a criminal defense," said Bogusz, who is supporting Sayad's opponent, Mark Setzer, in the April 7 election.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Bartholomew said five votes of nine (the 8-member council plus mayor) would be required to approve payment to Sayad, per city ordinance. Even if Sayad recuses himself, a minimum of five votes would still be needed.

Six out of eight votes would be needed to overturn a mayoral veto.

Aldermen Brookman and Patti Haugeberg previously said they believe the city should pay for Sayad's defense. Don Smith declared his opposition, and other aldermen are on the fence.

If the council votes to fund Sayad's defense, the money will come from the city's general fund, since the city's insurance carrier has said criminal offenses aren't covered under their policy.

Sayad declined to comment on the lack of a decision, but continued to deny that he did anything criminal.

"(Uhrich) invited me in," Sayad said.

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