Joliet city manager fight not over

Mayor’s mailer urges public to change council vote; Mudron defends calls

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JOLIET – City Council members at a special meeting Monday continued to point fingers and defend themselves over last week's decision to remove interim City Manager Martin Shanahan.

Meanwhile, a citywide campaign-style mailer sent out by Mayor Bob O’Dekirk suggests the mayor still wants Shanahan promoted to the job without opening it up to candidates.

The mailer, accusing the council majority of creating “a political patronage dumping ground,” called on people to show up at the Monday meeting “and make your displeasure known in person.”

About 30 people did show up, and 10 spoke – seven apparently in support of the mayor’s point of view, but three in favor of opening up the job search to outside candidates.

“Thank you for opening up the process,” Marianna Perez said. “I think that is important to all the constituents.”

Perez also said, “It is shameful what is happening.”

But that sentiment has been shared by people on both sides

“All in all, I think this is a shambles and a mess,” Tim Duda said.

Duda criticized the decision to remove Shanahan, which he said "was done behind closed doors and without any transparency."

O’Dekirk’s mailer criticizes five council members, and specifically calls out council member Pat Mudron. The mailer refers to “Mudron and his allies” as the “The Mudron 5.”

O’Dekirk said Tuesday that he put out the mailer in response to the vote last week to remove Shanahan.

“Out of nowhere, the five members conspired to have Marty Shanahan fired,” O’Dekirk said.

Actually, Shanahan, who intends to apply for the city manager job, was returned to his regular duties as city attorney, a point that even he made at the Monday special meeting.

The council majority – also including Michael Turk, Sherri Reardon, Bettye Gavin and Don Dickinson – has been criticized for sending emails that were nearly identically worded requesting that Shanahan's removal be placed on the June 18 council agenda.

The mayor and council member Larry Hug have insisted that a decision had already been made to conduct a candidate search and the removal of Shanahan was unnecessary. O’Dekirk said the start of the process was awaiting approval of a job description, which had been requested by Turk.

Some members of the council majority, however, have said the process did not appear to be moving forward after they had expressed their preference for a candidate search in early May.

Mudron said the mayor’s mailer indicates that O’Dekirk may still be trying to stop the process.

He pointed to a part of the mailer that lists phone numbers for the council majority members and encourages people to call, saying, “Switching just one vote on the Joliet City Council will end this problem.”

“The opportunity to move ahead and open up the process, I thought, was agreed upon,” Mudron said. “Obviously, it’s not agreed upon.”

The council, however, did agree Monday to interview former City Manager Jim Hock for the interim city manager job.

Mudron has been criticized for personally calling Hock to ask if he would be interested in coming back. Mudron said he made the call because he had been told by Shanahan supporters that Hock was in Florida and would not be available.

He got Hock’s number, Mudron said, from now interim City Manager Steve Jones, who he was told would not fill in if Shanahan was removed.

“I called Jones to see if he would take the job if the vote went the way it did because there would need to be some sort of a plan for somebody to step up,” Mudron said.