By: Diane Benjamin
I’ve written before about the City spending resources to prosecute employees when arbitration reaches a different conclusion than the one the City wants. Remember Scott Oglesby? https://blnnews.com/2013/05/06/the-real-story-of-scott-oglesbys-firing/
Now they are doing it again. This time it’s a fireman, Jon Caponi, who was arrested in 2016 for domestic violence. See the newspaper story here: http://www.pantagraph.com/news/local/crime-and-courts/prosecutor-firefighter-abused-position-in-domestic-case/article_0d5a9d5f-8679-5c94-adf7-5328a0fb2c5b.html
Caponi was arrested one day after receiving a Good Samaritan Award from the American Red Cross for building a ramp for a disabled woman.
The chargers against him were dropped, when statements from his girlfriend could not be verified and a neighbor witnessed her falling off a porch drunk causing her injuries. See the newspaper story here: http://www.pantagraph.com/news/local/crime-and-courts/charges-dropped-against-firefighter/article_429f637e-c9d8-504d-9e35-8fa15620a0ea.html
That wasn’t good enough for the City though. They wanted him to sign a statement giving up all of his civil rights and arbitration in exchange for 7 days off. He refused, so they gave him 30 day suspension plus one day. His case was heard in arbitration this week. The arbitrator has 60 days to rule.
According to witnesses, a lawyer employee of Sorling Northrop came to the hearing with 4 binders containing hundred of pages each plus 5 large boxes. Keep in mind the legal charges against him were dismissed.
Sorling Northop, the Springfield law firm, must love working for government. They don’t have to worry about not getting paid since government just has to raise taxes to pay the bills.
I filed a FOIA request for legal expenses just on this case. Since I filed, more were incurred.
I received redacted invoices the City states don’t apply to just this case, but all the invoices are labeled “employee investigations”. See the FOIA HERE Note: Many of the invoices show a “balance forward” meaning the bill from the previous month had not been paid.
The above total is $35,283.50. Bills for October and after are not included. If the charges involve other employees, who are they and why? It’s a secret.
I’ve seen on-line comments from citizens being harassed by their government, I know of one issue an alderman had to investigate to get the City to stop because it was baseless. I’ve heard from two people who believed either their homes or businesses were being watched after they spoke out against some City action.
In Oglesby’s case the City didn’t like the arbitrator’s ruling, so they further prosecuted him until he quit. What will happen if this arbitrator rules against them?
Below is a recap of Legal Expenses since Tari Renner became mayor. It’s all about CONTROL! With the projection for FY 2019, legal expenses have almost doubled since 2012.
If the City had spent this much time overseeing the Coliseum, they wouldn’t be looking stupid for failure to protect the interests of taxpayers!
PDF page 191
PDF page 173
PDF page 177 has a projection for next year: