Countryside Mayor’s Wife Pushed Her Company On City Employee, Memo Says

COUNTRYSIDE, Ill. (CBS) – Allegations of abuse of power have surfaced in west suburban Countryside as some city workers, including police personnel, say they’re feeling pressure from the mayor’s wife.

CBS 2’s Kristyn Hartman explains.

According to a city memo, a police employee says he was told the mayor’s wife, Cathy Krzeminski, was waiting for him in the lobby. She told him she works for WorkRight, an occupational health firm, and that the city should send its employees there to keep money in Countryside.

The memo says she gave the employee a brochure.

“I think it’s highly unethical,” local Ald. Sean McDermott says. “I think it’s inappropriate for any elected official or their spouse to use their position for their own financial gain.”

Andy Shaw of the Better Government Association agrees.

“When you put people in the middle like that, you’re squeezing them,” he says.

Mayor Krzeminski denied knowing anything about his wife trying to push her employer on city workers.  

“If they think it’s a concern then they shouldn’t do it,” he told Hartman.

“At least the mayor gave you the right answer, in this case,” the BGA’s Shaw says. “But that begs the question: Why put people in that position in the first place?”

Shaw says what the memo describes isn’t necessarily illegal but poses problems. He says cities should bid contracts or ban nepotism to eradicate questions.

Ald. McDermott says they are looking into whether the mayor’s wife did indeed violate an ordinance already on their books.

  • Nancy B

    What a shame. It was only just a matter of time!

  • Frank

    I think it’s good that they are trying to keep the money in their own community. Someone will get the money, why not the mayor’s wife’s organization.

    • Ed

      That is what the former mayor suggested in Decemeber when he invited the company to come back to the city.

  • Chivi

    Are there any politicians that are legite??? This reminds me of Mayor Daley who hears no evil, speaks no evil and sees no evil yet he’s surrounded by it!!!

  • Concerned Citizen

    I think this is just a sad and childish excuse for a group of city officials who don’t like their new mayor and just can’t seem to move on. You should be ashamed of yourselves for embarrassing this quiet community with a silly allegation. Your right Nancy B (above) it is only a matter of time. . . till someone figures out that certain alderman and other elected officials are the bad politics here. I hope this sparks the community to come to city meetings and see for themselves.

    • Sean

      The Mayor’s wife approached a total of four employees and told them they should use her company to provide occupational health services. Countryside’s dedicated employees do not deserve this type of intimidation and coercion. Why does she feel it is at all appropriate to involve herself in any City business? Fortunatley we have a City Council that will not tolerate this type of unethical behavior. She has embarrassed this City and owes the citizens of Countryside an apology.

      • Registered Voter

        One sided story is one sided.

        And the city council has to ACTUALLY be ethical first before you can start spouting more heresay

      • Concerned Citizen

        I think I speak for many people when I say, what our dedicated city employees and residents don’t deserve is representation like we are receiving now from our city council. If anyone owes an apology it’s all of you, not her. Once again, shame on all of you for embarassing our community, this issue should never have been news worthy. It should have been handled at a meeting to discuss the problem. I hope the next time you need to handle a situation you use your adult brains and not your inner 10 year old mindset that you all seem to have. “Mom! Eddy isn’t playing nice, I told him to follow what we are all doing and he won’t. Make him go home!” I am going to tell you what I would tell my own children, move on and make the best of every situation. So, please grow up and do what we elected you to do; continuing to improve a city we all are proud to call home (for now, sadly)!

  • Corner Wino

    mayor pollock and his DP wife should be getting arrested and ran out of town, tarred and feathered….but hey, it’s that dump Countryside,,the new chicago getto…

    • Rational

      The Mayor is not a fish, but is proud to be a veteran and of Polish descent. His wife’s family has been here for many generations, and the “Ghetto” of Countryside is sprouting million dollar homes…but what can you expect from someone named the “Corner Wino”?? Stick with the facts, stop saying things that aren’t true, and lay off the sauce.

  • Registered Voter

    Same as a certain alderman who owns a roofing company and does business in countryside right?

    Just a bunch of sore losers who are mad that their buddy Bob Conrad got vote out of office, by a large margin. Guess the citizens of countryside arent the idiots you think them to be.

    Exactly how much money did Conrad and his cronies waste again? Oh thats right most of that was behind closed doors. Going from a multimillion dollar surplus to a huge deficit during conrad administration is just “the economy”.

    Our current Mayor is a stoic guy who is standing up to the corruption that was rampant during the Conrad Administration. The buddies of conrad are just mad because have a mayor now that is actually looking out for the citizens, not one that is only interested in petty politics and lining their own pockets.

    • Sean

      Registered voter should do his or her homework. City council under Conrad passed four balanced budgets unlike the previous administration who never addressed the budget deficit. The city today has approximately $10 million surplus, similar to when Conrad’s council held office.City today has a triple A bond rating, because it has been run in a fiscally responsible manner. The roofing contractor / alderman has run a business in this town since 1988 and is respected as a professional who operates with the highest degree of ethics. Don’t hide behind the curtain throwing rocks. if you have some evidence of wrong doing, speak up at a meeting, don’t hide like a coward.

      • Registered Voter

        Any evidence would be hearsay, same as yours, unless you are saying you were actually present at the time of the alleged incident, otherwise i guess you are throwing rocks as well?

      • Concerned Citizen

        Sean, you better be careful what you ask for, because there are more citizens than you realize doing their homework. The days are gone of citizens who just sit on the sidelines. The people who elected the city council; I am sure; thought they would do something good, they need to get back to that business.

  • Mayor Ed Krzeminski

    This is Mayor Krzeminski and I would like to take a moment and clear the air about this story.

    Last year the former Mayor invited this company to resume providing services to the City, which the City Administrator confirmed. The owner of the company did not have anyone able to follow up at that time. Back in June, my wife was hired by this company to do marketing, she does not receive a commission but is paid a flat hourly rate. In the middle of July, my Wife went to City Hall, to follow up on the previous Mayor’s request. She did talk to a Police Officer for 2 minutes, but that Officer informed her that he was not the correct person to talk to and then directed her to the correct person. She then went to talk to that person for 3 minutes to ensure that the City had the most recent flyer regarding the company.

    There is no financial incentive to either my Wife or Myself if the City of Countryside was to resume using this company. During her duties she has visited the city hall of a few dozen surrounding cities, she has visited hundreds of companies and she always introduces herself just as Cathy, with no last name. If someone does recognize her, there is nothing she can do about that.

    It should be noted that I, as Mayor, do not have the authority to make decisions on what companies the City would use for a service such as this, the person who does have that authority is the current City Administrator. Before this story broke, I dad not discussed this company with any city employee or city official. If I have a problem I bring it to the council not the News.

    • Carl

      She should stop introducing herself as the first lady of Countryside. I thought you took the job to make the city better. I voted for you and you tricked me. You were just out for yourself.

  • Registered Voter

    Geeze Bob, if you were going to make a post, I would have done a better job of not making my IP address so readily known through the post so anyone could tell it was me.

    Then I ask you this, if you think the Conrad administration did SUCH a great job, then why after Countryside retaining a Mayor for decades, did they oust you in 4? One term mayor and his buddies are bitter.

  • Kathy

    Ed, your missing the point. When Mayor Conrad invited Work Right back, he himself did not have a family member or any other city employee or their family member working for Work Right. It is a conflict of interest. I would think you should have realized this. It would open the door for accusations against you or your wife. You could be accused of taking bribes to falsify test results. It’s just common sense to protect yourself and family. As an elected official you can’t so much as accept a free cup of coffee from a business in your community. A simple apology to the citizens of Countryside would be nice.

    • Registered Voter

      Kathy, I would say you are missing the point. You want someone to apologize for doing nothing wrong, why? so the city officials can go HAH WE WON?.

      If an elected city officials’ spouse received a commission for selling goods and services, and used the position to sell those to the city, to make money (key word is commission), then yes i would agree that would be terribly wrong.

      However, this is not the case here. 1) there is no commission to be made from Work Right, flat hourly rate is paid, meaning there is NO extra income from selling the services, 2) the ex-Mayor Conrad invited work right (a private company) to come back, 3) Mrs. Krzeminski was supplying a current flyer to the people indicated – again which ex-Mayor Conrad requested at one point.

      So you want an apology for doing one’s job? i fail to see how that makes sense.

      Sounds to me like petty vengeance. Again, a situation that was deliberately created by the friends of Conrad that were upset the power shifted.

      And if you don’t believe me ask why wasn’t this handled in a more professional manner, why wasnt this handled in the city council where it belongs? Because the Conrad cronies are at work.

      Let me tell this to all the officials, REALLY??? You are a tiny little city council, in a tiny little city, that is barely even a dot on the map, Stop acting like you are the supreme overlords. Big fish in a little bowl mentality.

    • Mayor Ed Krzeminski

      Kathy, As I stated in the News Interview that I was ambushed at, “if someone thinks that it is unethical, don’t do it.” My vote would be to not go with WorkRight, but understand, I don;’t make that call, the City Admistrator does and I nor my wife have nothing to apology for or hide. I knew nothing about this before this broke and I do not control what my wife does in her job. She is told where to go from WorkRight, who was following up from the invite from the former mayor, not me. It will properly end up that the city looses out on again supporting a local business, which does not support the city moto of “BUSINESS FRIENDLY”.

  • Just plain concerned

    As a concerned member of the business community I find it unfortunate that the residents and the business community are going to suffer the effects of this apparent gridlock, both are hard working honest people that deserve better. The city employee’s are also decent hard working people that should not be subjected to work under this kind of stress and drama, they have work to do.Let’s save this city from 3 years of embarrasment, humiliation, and lack of progress. Time for a change

  • Raional

    Much to do about nothing. The former Mayor requested information and a brochure was dropped off. There’s no financial gain to the mayor or his wife, but the City has an opportunity to utilize the services of a local business. I hope we can trust the City Administrator to make an informed decision as to whether to use them or not and not let the emotions of a few and the media determine what is best for the City.

  • Angry Resident

    (it used to have a good name when Mayor LeGant was in it, but now, it is a shell of what the good name it started with was)

    Voters have the VOICE, lets us it and stop this childish mentality.

    People of Countryside, You can see what the Independant Party of Countryside is doing, it is petty, childish and immature.

    I speak as a long time resident and business owner. I was angry when i saw this ridiculous story on the news. I have known Ed and Cathy for a very long time. They have nothing but the best interests of Countryside at heart.

    It’s the Independant Party of Countryside causing all the issues, we need to get them out of Office. VOTE.

    • Registered Voter

      Hey Sean, guess what, i did some homework!

      I would agree with Angry Resident, however, we can’t actually remove the Independent “Party” of Countryside since that technically doesn’t exist. (named was changed to Countryside Independent Party)

      According to a letter by the STATE BOARD OF ELECTIONS, the Countryside Independent “Party” FAILED to meet the criteria to actually be a political party under 10 ILCS 5/9-1.8(c) on a letter dated June 29, 2011. It was demoted to a “political action committee”.

      Well all of this is well and good, and people would say big deal right? so what if its not really a political party. Well, I will tell you: Being a political action committee means you cannot actually field candidates, you can only merely support a candidate, meaning you can donate money to a candidate HOWEVER and this is the big one, that candidate CANNOT BE AFFILIATED WITH THAT POLITICAL ACTION COMMITTEE.

      Hence, the Countryside Independent Party (really Countryside Independent Political Action Committee), can only donate money to a candidate it supports BUT THAT CANDIDATE CANNOT BE AFFILIATED WITH THE Countryside Independent party.

      Interesting, this means they are basically VIOLATING STATE BOARD OF ELECTION RULES AND ILLINOIS LAW on a daily basis.


  • Kristen

    “Corner Wino” – You are not intelligent enough to be publicly posting anything.
    1. Pollock is a fish. Polak is an ethnicity (which is clearly intellectually superior to wherever you descended from).
    2. Should all political spouses be banned from selling anything or trying to support local businesses? Local commerce does not seem intimidating or unethical to me. For James T, in what way was anyone’s jobs\ threatened?
    3. When trying to insult a local community, you should learn that “ghetto” is spelled with an h. Perhaps your education was provided in one of those larger and therefore fancier communities compared to Countryside.

  • Diana J

    Having the Mayors wife trump up business at City Hall is unethical. It tells the employees that they had better play ball or else. Not a good message to send to the workers of the City. I love our PW workers and police. I see them in our neighborhood all of the time. This resident appreciates their work!

    The Mayor knows that having his wife trying to influence city workers and other surrounding towns trying to influence them presents a CONFLICT OF INTEREST. Which means that that City services and the residents of Countryside come second to their $$$ interests.

    I agree that it is a pay to play in Countryside and I think it stinks ! This is the way Lyons operates.

    Recall this guy and get an ethical person in there.

  • A City Employee

    Register voter – stop trying to deflect the issue at hand. The issue is that the Mayor’s wife was trying to strong arm the city employees to patronize her place of employment over the business of their choosing. These guys were put in a very awkward position having the Mayor’s wife coercing them into doing something they may or may not have wanted to do. This type of behavior should not be tolerated in the City of Countryside. I think the Mayor should apologize to the residents and resign. If you want to bring up any other issues, then I suggest you attend the City Council meeting and air your grievances in the public forum.

    • Registered Voter

      Yes, while we are at it, we can have the rest of the city council resign for breaking Ilinois law on a daily basis. Because that is completely ethical? well i guess it is when you control the city with dirty politics.

      and yes, lets have all the people air it out in public forum, controlled by the city council, so they can know who we are and treat us like they are doing the mayor, making up ALLEGED stories and ALLEGED facts. One sided stories are one sided.

      While we are at it, lets put those girl scouts in jail too, and run them out of town, i saw them selling cookies at city hall, man they were STRONG ARMING everyone into buying those cookies, how unethical.

  • DEB

    Ed, you are far better off to assign yourself personal responsibility for this fiasco and walk away. Not three months into the job as Mayor and your wife is strong arming folks to do business through a company she has a vested interest in. Where was this bold move prior to you being elected? The Mayor has a responsibility to reshape and lead the city, shifting and flexing it into a better place. Your job security depends on how valuable you are to your residents, yet it seems apparent your wife didn’t stop and think about the implications her strong arming would bring upon you. What she did was unethical. What you did by denying any knowledge of it brought you even greater scrutiny. What’s best for you? What’s best for the residents? What’s best for the City? Depersonalize the situation – accept it as reality. She did the improper thing of trying to steer business within the City of Countryside to her firm and using you as her “in’. This influence and political peddling has no business in Countryside and occurred on your watch, with your wife! Do you remember back to the Federal Indictments that occurred within the City of Chicago, the silver shovel investigations that brought many politically connected folks down? You know, the one that involved the steering of contracts? Same thing. Even the BGA came out and said what your wife is doing is wrong.

    You are either part of the solution or part of the problem and in this case, it’s the latter. It’s not about what happened or who did what 3 months or 3 years ago, it’s about the present and the future. It’s imperative that the City of Countryside get energized, rather than paralyzed by actions such as these. We need a leader, not a follower and we need to get past this nonsense, because nobody is well served by this type of shenanigans. You’ve brought the city unwanted attention. The right thing for you do to do is resign and walk away. The only votes you could win now are ones of no confidence. Resign!

  • A City Employee

    Maybe you should run for office if you think the city council is so corrupt Register voter. It is so easy to sit on the sideline and make accusations, when is is clear you know nothing about this city council and the city. Put some skin on the line,or keep your mouth shut!

    • Registered Voter

      Freedom of Speech, guess the city employee would like to silence that.

      Fear of persecution, watching what lengths the current political action committee is going to at the moment, yes lets make ourselves known so you can persecute for freedom of speech.

  • DEB

    Remember, the “alledged” stories and “alledged facts” are backed up by written statements to the facts and nothing but the facts. Comparing girl scouts selling cookies (they applied for and received permission to sell their cookies at city hall, as opposed to the mayor’s wife forcing herself and her company upon folks) in the same context is hillarious. Unethical is what she did. Conflict of interest. Political grandstanding, Plain and simple. Some cheese with your “whine?” Let’s hear that Sox theme song, the one that ends with hey, hey hey, goodbye!

    • Registered Voter

      Just because something is in writing doesn’t make it true.

      Things are alleged until proven true, otherwise people can go around and make up stories like they are and just say they are true without proof. Unless you were actually there and not just reciting a memo written based on second hand hearsay knowledge.

      I actually used the girl scout comparison as a sarcastic joke, guess my quip was a bit more sophisticated than I intended, guess i will dumb it down a bit.

  • Rod

    This is Chicago style politics at its best. The actions of the Mayor’s wife tell the employees that you had better give the business to her company or else. Being the Mayor’s wife gives her instant access to all City employees in Countryside and the neighboring towns. I am sure other sales people would need an appointment to meet with an employee to get some business from the City. Lets call it what it is – unethical conduct &. the steering of City services for the personal gain.

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