SAUK VILLAGE, Ill. (STMW) – South suburban Sauk Village Mayor Lewis Towers is suing village trustees to buck an ordinance that limits his powers to appoint department heads.
Filed Dec. 16 in Cook County Circuit Court, the lawsuit challenges an ordinance the village board approved this month limiting the mayor’s appointment powers to two 30-day periods. A ruling is expected in January after a judge reviews arguments.
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The ordinance was approved after Towers appointed former Dolton Police Chief Robert Fox to be the Sauk Village chief — a move the village board opposed. The board has yet to agree on a contract or salary for Fox, claiming the village lacks the money to pay him.
According to the lawsuit, the ordinance limiting Towers’ powers will “result in a cloud of Fox’s position and will jeopardize the orderly administration of the Sauk Village Police Department.”
Fox took over the top spot from former acting chief Tim Holevis, who was bumped back to sergeant. Holevis had been acting chief since May 2010 when former police chief and current Country Club Hills Ald. Frank Martin was fired.
In the wake of Fox’s appointment, Holevis filed a harassment complaint against the village — months after settling a prior harassment lawsuit he filed with other employees against the village.
Towers hired outside attorney John Murphy to represent him in the lawsuit while village attorney Burt Odelson is representing Sauk Village. All village board members are listed as defendants in the lawsuit.
Odelson said it was the first time this type of case appeared before an Illinois court.
“There’s no precedent,” he said. “It’s a case of first impression.”
Attorney Rob Bush, a partner at municipal law firm Ancel, Glink, Diamond, Bush, DiCianni and Krafthefer, previously said there is no legal basis for an ordinance that limits appointment powers.
In any case, board member Rosie Williams called Towers’ lawsuit “fiscally irresponsible.”
“Any person who would be mayor should not be suing the village board,” she said. “Putting your ego in front of the village is irresponsible. If you ran to be mayor or trustee or dog catcher, you’re supposed to put the town first.”
Towers said he filed the suit because the board is trying to strip him of his mayoral powers.
“This frustrates me that the board is not working with me,” Towers said. “They haven’t worked with me on anything since I’ve been elected mayor. Somehow they have to work with me instead of fighting me on everything I try to do here.”
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