Island Lake trustee: Police chief appointment would be 'pure cronyism'

 
 
Updated 5/27/2015 6:35 PM
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  • Tony Sciarrone

    Tony Sciarrone

Island Lake Trustee Tony Sciarrone has resigned in preparation for a possible appointment to police chief.

But the move is being opposed by Trustee Keith Johns, who ran with Mayor Charles Amrich and Sciarrone in 2013, but has since become a critic.

"It's pure cronyism," Johns told the Daily Herald on Wednesday. "I have nothing against Tony, but I'm not in favor of him becoming our chief."

Amrich called the cronyism allegation "a bunch of malarkey."

"Tony's getting the job because he's the right man for the position," Amrich said.

Sciarrone shrugged off John's criticism.

"Keith is entitled to his opinion," he said.

Sciarrone, 67, had served as an Island Lake police officer for 29 years and was the town's interim police chief from 2008 to 2010. He left the department as a sergeant in 2011, and has since worked as a court security officer in McHenry County.

He will resign from that job this week, Amrich said.

Sciarrone is in line to replace Don Bero, who resigned in April after suffering a brain aneurysm. Deputy Chief David Walz has served as interim chief.

Under state law, mayors nominate candidates for police chief. Trustees then approve or reject the nomination.

Sciarrone quit his trustee post effective Tuesday, according to the agenda for Thursday night's village board meeting.

Trustees are scheduled to accept that resignation -- a formality -- and then vote on Sciarrone's appointment to chief.

If Sciarrone gets the job, he will be paid $85,000 annually plus benefits, the agenda indicates.

He said he hopes to serve for four years.

"I'm in good health," he said. "There's nothing I can't handle."

Johns called moving from trustee to police chief a conflict of interest.

"There's no reason to go from being a trustee to the chief of police," he said.

When asked to elaborate on his allegation of cronyism, Johns pointed to another example of an Amrich political ally being named to a top village post.

In February, part-time police officer Wayne Schnell was named the town's building commissioner and code enforcement officer, a full-time job that came with a $60,000 salary.

Schnell had served as the campaign manager for Amrich's slate in 2013.

Johns voted against Schnell's promotion but was on the losing side.

"This kind of stuff needs to stop," Johns said. "We were elected to sit in these seats to do what was right for the village. And this is wrong."

Johns also is unhappy that Sciarrone -- in his role as leader of the public safety committee -- recently participated in labor negotiations with the union representing the town's police officers. A proposed three-year contract awaits the board's vote Thursday.

Johns questioned whether that vote should happen if Sciarrone is named chief.

Amrich said Sciarrone is the best candidate for the job because he knows the officers and he knows what needs to be done in Island Lake.

"He is seasoned, and I think he is a good fit for our community," Amrich said.

Trustee Mark Beeson said he feels good about Sciarrone's possible return to the chief's chair, too.

"Tony was our chief before. He obviously has the experience," Beeson said.

Even so, Beeson said he wants trustees and Amrich to discuss Sciarrone's possible hiring privately Thursday night before they vote.

"I look forward to the conversation," he said.

The proposed move is not without suburban precedent. Spring Grove Police Chief Tom Sanders previously had been the town's mayor.

Thursday's meeting is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. at village hall, 3720 Greenleaf Ave.

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