Des Plaines aldermen want to know who leaked documents
After the Cook County state's attorney's office turned down Des Plaines aldermen's request that it investigate who leaked confidential documents to the Daily Herald last month, the city council is now asking the Illinois attorney general to conduct a probe.
If that office also refuses, City Manager Mike Bartholomew said an internal investigation could be conducted, but it would have little authority because it cannot compel witnesses to speak or obtain testimony under oath.
The Daily Herald obtained from two Des Plaines officials all or portions of an 11-page report detailing all active litigation involving the city. The documents, prepared by the city's lawyers, were marked "confidential -- attorney/client privilege."
They included information about Alderman Jim Brookman's workers' compensation claim against the city. Brookman is a former fire department captain who has been receiving benefits since 2009 for back and neck injuries sustained during a training exercise.
Additions to the city's ethics ordinance, proposed last month by Mayor Matt Bogusz, would have required elected officials to disclose whether they or their spouses have any active lawsuits against the city.
Bogusz never mentioned Brookman by name during debate at two council meetings, only saying that he "learned something that surprised" him after reading the 11-page report in March. That led him to propose the ethics ordinance additions, but the council voted 5-3 against the changes.
City officials and attorneys, meanwhile, haven't said why Brookman's case was still on the active list.
After the state's attorney's office declined aldermen's request to take the case, the council agreed Tuesday to send a letter requesting an investigation to the Illinois attorney general.
If that office says no, Bartholomew said he would appoint an outside attorney to serve as a special ethics officer in lieu of General Counsel Peter Friedman. That attorney would interview the city's 10 elected officials and perhaps as many as 10 city employees who might have had access to the documents, Bartholomew said.
Bartholomew said any disciplinary action against city employees, including termination, would be his decision.
The city council has the power to censure elected officials, per the city ethics code.