Kadner: Committeeman lands Worth Twp. job
By Phil Kadner email@example.com July 29, 2013 10:22PM
A sign at the Worth Township hall advertises upcoming anger management classes. | Phil Kadner~Sun-Times Media
Updated: August 31, 2013 6:22AM
As one of its first acts since being elected in April, the new Worth Township Board last week hired controversial Worth Township Democratic Committeeman John O’Sullivan to a $45,000-a-year job.
That will surprise no one who followed the township election closely because the previous elected township officials were ousted by a Democratic Party slate of candidates put together by O’Sullivan.
“We had four candidates apply for the job, and O’Sullivan’s resume was by far the best,” Worth Township Supervisor Kevin Hughes said, adding that O’Sullivan’s position as the leader of the Worth Township Democratic Organization “had nothing to do” with the hiring.
But O’Sullivan was forced to resign from his $85,000-a-year job as a Cook County Forest Preserve District regional superintendent over allegations that he falsified his resume.
While the head of the forest preserve district never detailed what was wrong with the resume, O’Sullivan contended that he was forced to resign because of an earlier controversy that got him temporarily fired from another Cook County job.
For more than 20 years, he had worked for operations and maintenance in the Cook County hospital system, but then an inspector general’s report claimed that O’Sullivan falsified time cards and he was fired.
O’Sullivan was reinstated with back pay after the Cook County Employee Appeals Board overturned his termination. The inspector general said he stood by his report that O’Sullivan had falsified time cards.
In 2010, O’Sullivan was named by his fellow Democratic committeemen to fill the unexpired term of state Rep. Kevin Joyce (D-Chicago). It was after that brief stint in the Illinois House that O’Sullivan found a new home with the forest preserve district.
However, Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, who had been elected on a promise to clean up county government, took a lot of heat from the news media for hiring O’Sullivan.
It’s likely she gave the order to hire O’Sullivan in the first place and just as likely that she pulled the plug when the hire threatened to smear her image.
O’Sullivan claimed at the time that his problems with the county inspector general were not listed on his resume because everybody knew about them.
He’s now the building and maintenance supervisor for Worth Township, a job previously held by a man who retired, according to Hughes.
“I didn’t support it (the hiring),” said Michael Mahoney, the only township trustee to survive the April election who was not part of the Worth Township Community First Party slate.
Mahoney refused to elaborate on why he did not support O’Sullivan, saying, “I have to work with the new board.”
Trustee Theresa Roche, whom I was told also voted against the hiring, refused to comment, saying “I am not authorized to act as spokesman by the board.”
Hughes said “we have quite a substantial building, and O’Sullivan’s resume, his years doing the same kind of work for Cook County, clearly make him qualified, probably overqualified, for this job.”
In addition to hiring O’Sullivan, the township board last week voted not to renew the contract of attorney Burton Odelson, who had represented the township for nearly 20 years. It hired attorney Michael Del Galdo, who also represents Cicero.
Del Galdo is said to have close ties to House Speaker Michael Madigan (D-Chicago), who’s also state Democratic Party chairman and who in 2010 personally called the mayor of Justice to recommend Del Galdo for village attorney.
“We hired Del Galdo because this is a new board, and we wanted to go with a new attorney,” Hughes said. “Also, his retainer was about 70 percent less than Odelson’s, and his hourly rate was slightly lower as well.”
“That’s a lie,” Odelson said. “In fact, Kevin Hughes shook my hand and thanked me (after failing to rehire his law firm) for offering to do the township work without a retainer.”
In the past, Odelson said he had worked on a retainer of “about $30,000 to $35,000 a year,” and “we kept our billing within that because there simply isn’t a lot of legal work for a township.” He maintained that the hourly rate he offered the township, $165 an hour, was lower that Del Galdo’s $175 an hour.
Asked if he was aware of Del Galdo’s connections to Madigan, Hughes said he was not.
“But I just assume all these attorneys involved in municipal work have a lot of political connections,” he said. “I expect that’s part of their business, to make political contacts.”
In a column in the spring, I noted that Ed Moody, one of Madigan’s top political operatives, was part of the Worth Township slate put together by the Democratic Party. Moody was elected Worth Township highway commissioner.
According to several sources, Moody is the guy Madigan uses to organize field operations whenever there’s a key legislative race anywhere in the state.
In addition, I noted in that column how just about every township in South Cook County is now run by the Democratic Party. A spokesman for Madigan at the time said the speaker does not get involved in township elections.
But it certainly seems clear to me that the Democratic Party has expanded its grip on patronage and operations beyond Chicago and into the suburbs,
As for O’Sullivan, he does not officially start his new job until Thursday.
There are some who wonder if he will ever be called on to do any work.
That may explain the sign outside the Worth Township Hall that announces registration for anger management classes for all ages, with the next one starting Thursday.
Then again, it could just be a coincidence — like O’Sullivan being the township political boss and getting the township job.