Lyons Township Sanitary District fires attorney
The entrance of the South La Grange Sanitary District office in Countryside. | Jane Michaels—Sun-Times Media
Updated: January 28, 2013 6:26AM
COUNTRYSIDE — A new board for the South Lyons Township Sanitary District wasted no time in making changes.
In two specially called meetings the three-member board fired the district’s attorney of 27 years, Edward King of La Grange.
Incumbent Susan Felice of Countryside and newly elected board member Tom Clancy of La Grange approved the measure over the objection of board member Michael Grace of La Grange.
“I expressed concerns about our attorney of 27 years with the district that I didn’t have any issues,” Grace said of a special meeting called on Dec. 3. “I always thought Ed had done a real good job and had no issues with him.”
The other trustees gave “a broad description about going in a different direction,” Grace said.
Clancy campaigned against incumbent John Finn by raising issues of excessive legal bills. The village was drawn into a dispute between a contractor for a district sewer project and a business associate. Legal proceedings against the village were dismissed in August.
Clancy and Felice, who is now serving as board president, voted to hire Michael Cainkar, a Chicago attorney who represented Felice and her husband, Peter Felice, a Cook County judge, in hearings with the Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund.
An auditor found on Oct. 25, 2011 Susan Felice, Peter Felice, as a former trustee, and others had not complied with a state requirement that municipal employees must work 600 hours or more to be eligible for pension benefits paid by taxpayers of the South La Grange Sanitary District.
A study of district records showed trustees worked no more than 238 hours annually, the auditor found.
Susan Felice in February reversed an earlier stand and said she did put in at least 600 hours a year on board duties. An IMRF hearing agreed with her and in June, reversed the findings of its auditor.
Cainkar said he didn’t view his new position with the sanitary district as a conflict of interest; his prior association with Susan and Peter Felice has no bearing, he said.
“I would like to think that doing a good job for someone would lead to other opportunities,” Cainkar said.
When asked if he knew Cainkar had represented Susan and Peter Felice, Clancy said he wasn’t aware.
“This is the first time I’m hearing about it,” Clancy said. “I would assume he would fairly represent the district.”
Michael Cainkar has represented a number of south suburbs and the Pleasant Dale Park District through the law firm started by his father, Louis Cainkar. Clancy said he favored Michael Cainkar over King as a more experienced attorney in municipal matters.
At another special meeting Dec. 17 to discuss the attorney change, Michael Cainkar assured the three board members that a 2005 case involving charges of racketeer influence and corruption charges against Vincent Cainkar, village attorney for Bridgeview, had nothing to do with Michael Cainkar, his brother.
The district operates a separated system serving 1,221 residential customers, 40 industrial sites and 214 commercial properties in the south part of La Grange and northern Countryside.