Island Lake officials approve towing agreement that doesn't identify vendors
Island Lake trustees have given Mayor Charles Amrich permission to sign a contract for police-related towing services -- but the agreement doesn't identify what company or companies will handle the task.
But the spaces in the pact where a vendor should be identified were blank on the copy of the proposed document shared with trustees, the public and the media before it was approved last Thursday.
That didn't sit right with Trustee Sandy Doehler, who was one of three trustees who opposed the move.
"The fact that the board gave the mayor carte blanche to sign blank towing contracts is very disturbing to me," Doehler said.
Village Clerk Georgine Cooper defended the document.
"The contract is designed so that it applies to any vendor," Cooper said.
A firm inking a contract with a village board, a school board or another government agency usually is identified in a legal document before board approval.
Village Attorney David McArdle has said Sciarrone can legally name a preferred towing vendor as long as the contract is approved by the board and signed by the mayor.
Rudy Magna, who serves as the village attorney in Wauconda, Green Oaks and other towns, said village trustees can delegate a mayor or employee to enter into contracts on their behalf.
Mike's Towing will be the primary choice for the Island Lake police department's tows, officials said, and D & L Midwest will be a backup.
Mike's Towing had been the exclusive towing firm for the department since November, thanks to a deal Amrich and Sciarrone approved without the village board's knowledge.
Previously, Mike's Towing had been one of three companies that rotated handling tows for Island Lake police. The other two were Patriot Towing & Recovery of Fox Lake and Whitey's Towing of Crystal Lake.
Trustees became aware of the exclusive contract with Mike's Towing earlier this year, and Doehler, Mark Beeson, Charles Cermak and John Burke objected to it.
Mike's Towing is owned by Island Lake resident Mike Johnson, who financially supported Sciarrone's and Amrich's successful runs for village office in 2013.
Johnson gave $500 to Amrich's For the People slate that February, Illinois State Board of Elections records show. Sciarrone, then a McHenry County court security officer, was among the slate's trustee candidates, as was Beeson. All won election in a landslide.
Mike's Towing was named the police department's preferred vendor for tows within weeks of Amrich and his allies taking office, and that arrangement lasted until the three-way rotation formed last year.
Sciarrone was appointed police chief in 2015.
In recent board discussions, Beeson, Cermak, Burke and Doehler requested Sciarrone arrange a rotation that includes at least two towing companies.
During last Thursday's board meeting, Doehler, Beeson and Burke opposed authorizing Amrich to sign the towing contract, which sets rates for services and spells out rules for tows and storage.
But Cermak joined trustees Jennifer Villareal and Howard England to create a 3-3 tie. Amrich broke the deadlock.
Cermak said he changed his stance because he decided the police chief should have the power to choose a towing firm, as has been the case in the past.
"It's fine with me," Cermak said. "I just want to get it over with."
Doehler said the new arrangement doesn't reflect the "fair and equitable" rotation she and her allies on the issue sought.
Beeson said a two-company rotation would allow village officials to more easily switch vendors if one doesn't perform well.