Politically connected Island Lake employee fired by village board

  • Island Lake Building Commissioner Wayne Schnell has been fired.

      Island Lake Building Commissioner Wayne Schnell has been fired. Russell Lissau | Staff Photographer, 2016

 
 
Updated 5/28/2019 5:53 PM

Island Lake trustees have fired the town's building commissioner -- a man hired after running Mayor Charles Amrich's political campaign in 2013.

Wayne Schnell was dismissed from his $73,440-a-year post after a closed-door discussion during Thursday's village board meeting. The move was effective immediately.

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In an email Tuesday, Trustee Jennifer Villareal accused Schnell of inconsistently enforcing local ordinances and lacking sufficient knowledge for the job.

Villareal also criticized Schnell's hiring, which occurred just a month after Amrich and several allies took office, as "an act of blatant nepotism."

"I voted with the board to remove Mr. Schnell because we all made a promise to the residents to serve them, not ourselves or our friends," Villareal said.

Schnell said he felt "blindsided" when he arrived at village hall Friday morning and was handed a letter informing him of his termination.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

"I was never called in or counseled," he said.

Schnell, 67, was a part-time Island Lake police officer from 2006 to 2010 after a long career as a Chicago cop. He resigned from the Island Lake department after a departmental investigation into his behavior.

In early 2013, Schnell managed Amrich's mayoral campaign as well as the campaigns of three trustee candidates allied with Amrich. All won.

A subsequent investigation into the old allegations against Schnell cleared him.

In June 2013, Schnell was rehired as a part-time police officer and was assigned as the village code enforcement officer.

Schnell initially was paid $18 an hour for his work as code enforcement officer. He also was paid for attending village board meetings twice a month, a practice criticized by one trustee at the time.

In February 2015, the village board awarded Schnell a full-time job as the town's building commissioner and code enforcement official. Schnell's salary was bumped to $60,000 a year, and he received employment benefits.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

But trustees have come and gone since then, and Schnell has fallen out of favor with the board.

Villareal and fellow trustees Will Ziegler, Chris Carlsen, Richard McLaughlin Jr. and Harold England voted to fire Schnell. Trustee Charles Cermak abstained.

Trustees "are determined to make the changes that this village needs to rid itself of those that would take advantage," Villareal said.

Carlsen said officials intend to replace Schnell with a building inspector who'll also serve as code enforcement officer. That employee could work part time and would be paid less than Schnell, he said.

"We're certainly not going to spend what we were spending," Carlsen said.

Amrich couldn't be reached for comment Tuesday.

Schnell's firing was the latest significant personnel change in Island Lake.

Police Chief Anthony Sciarrone was fired by the village board in October after an investigation into how he ran the department.

Police Sgt. Bill Dickerson and a part-time officer later were fired by Police Chief Dan Palmer as a result of the same investigation. Dickerson actively campaigned for Amrich in 2013.

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