The Emperor and the Ordinances


francis_ii_emperorGetting back to the mission with which this site was founded, we are going to talk about a subject that was previously covered before the elections.  This is important to you as a taxpayer – your money is on the line with this one … We’ll give a brief synopsis.

Last year, During yet another spat between the Manager and an employee, he ordered an investigation into Linda Mogren’s use of “Fuck You” to the Village Manager.  Of course, he used the same language during this “argument.”  So while YOUR Village Board members felt it was ok for him to use this type of language, the Cville Double Standard applied here, and it wasn’t ok for her to use it.  (on a side note – this is the same Manager that called a member of the public a Son of a Bitch – in public) Well, apparently, because it was a co-worker that “investigated” her, she sent a letter threatening to name him individually in a lawsuit, and the Manager issued a letter to our Community Development director indemnifying him from any and ALL litigation involved.

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Now, we thought that employees, who are performing the duties of their employment were already protected as long as they were doing so within the scope of their authority, and consistent with their training and education.  So we went looking for something that might show that.  Here’s what we found:

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Read that carefully … In case any injury to the person or property of another is caused by an officer or employee of the village allegedly arising out of an act or omission occurring within the scope of his or her duties or employment … This one sentence is probably what had our Community Development Director so worried: The Manager’s authority is not absolute – it is derived from these ordinances and our Board of Trustees.  Meaning that although he can delegate to his delight – he can’t overstep the ordinances of the Village, and we are guessing an attorney will presumably argue that the Community Development Director’s duties do not in any way have anything to do with investigation of employee misconduct – something that is always left to Human Resources or a specially hired (truly independant) investigator in the case of high ranking officials.

But here’s the bigger part to pay attention to: Provided, however, no indemnification shall extend to any portion of a judgment representing an award of punitive or exemplary damages.  Now, go back up and read that indemnification letter again.  Notice how it indemnifies Mr. Huber from ALL court costs, attorney’s fees and DAMAGES.  So, while the ordinance does provide for damages except punitive or exemplary damages, the Manager’s indemnification is for ALL damages.  It’s a violation of the Village Ordinances, and clearly overstepping the Manager’s authority.

More importantly though – the ordinances already provide for indemnification of employees in the course of their regular duties.  This issuance of this letter is unnecessary unless something that shouldn’t have been done was done at the Manager’s direction.  Either way – the ordinance (“law”) is clear, the letter is a violation of the ordinance.

Let’s look at the implication of this – the ordinance is set up this way for a reason – regular damages are often capped to actual harm done to someone.  However, punitive and “exemplary” damages (think pyschological damages) aren’t – and can be up to a jury to decide on how much.  Did the Trustees authorize this – it’s our Money this Manager is playing with after all…

In order for the Manager to have the authority to issue such an indemnification, The Village Board would have to amend the ordinance above to give the Manager the authority to 1. Alter the scope of duties as approved by the Village Board at his pleasure and 2. to indemnify employees from ALL damages, both regular, punitive and exemplary.

So here’s my question to the Trustees:  Did you authorize this indemnification?  Do you realize the potential cost of such an indemnification?  Have you changed the ordinance to give the Manager the authority to ignore the ordinances in furtherance of his goals?