Des Plaines mayor wants officials to disclose lawsuits against city
Measure could target alderman receiving workers' comp
Des Plaines Mayor Matt Bogusz wants elected officials to have to disclose whether they have any active lawsuits filed against the city.
And though his name wasn't mentioned at a city council meeting Monday night, it's believed the ordinance targets Alderman Jim Brookman, a former city firefighter on disability receiving workers' compensation benefits, though in an interview, Brookman denied that he's suing the city.
City Manager Mike Bartholomew said there is still "active litigation" regarding Brookman's workers' compensation claim, and as such, he would be required to check a box on an annual ethics disclosure statement if the mayor's proposed amendment to the ethics code is approved by the council.
In 2009, Brookman was awarded workers' compensation benefits of $591.77 per week for back and neck injuries sustained during a training exercise while he was a fire captain.
At one time, Brookman asked for a "last-and-final" lump sum settlement demand of $325,000, plus a Medicare set-aside trust. The city's insurance carrier, Safety National, countered with a final offer of $270,000, according to city documents obtained Monday through a Freedom of Information Act request.
Brookman said he elected not to take the lump sum in lieu of the weekly payments, which he is entitled to until death.
So he said Monday it was news to him that city officials considered his case still active. And he also didn't know that Bogusz might have been referring to him during the council discussion about the ethics ordinance.
Aldermen tabled discussion on the issue Monday and are expected to take it up again June 20.
"This ordinance shouldn't be passed," Brookman said. "It appears it has political purposes."
During the meeting, Bogusz told aldermen he proposed the ordinance amendment after reviewing information provided by the city's lawyers about active litigation.
In the 11-page document referenced by Bogusz and obtained by the Daily Herald, Brookman's case was listed under workers' compensation cases as of March 18.
"I learned something new," Bogusz said. "I don't want to be surprised by that again."
The changes to the city's ethics rules would require the city's eight aldermen, mayor, city clerk, department heads and members of the planning and zoning board to indicate on their annual disclosure forms whether they or their spouses have brought litigation against the city.
And the rules would require those elected officials to recuse themselves from deliberating or voting on matters that directly relate to the litigation.