Newly-elected Lakewood Village Trustee Paul Serwatka continues his practice of sending emails to constituents about what goes on at village board meetings.
Here is his latest explanation:
On June 23rd, the Lakewood Village Board held its regularly scheduled meeting. Three items were on the agenda for discussion and vote.
The first agenda item was an ordinance to adopt Prevailing Wage Requirements for the Village of Lakewood. This became a rather lengthy (and at times a bit heated) discussion. (I will try to be as brief as possible here.)
~ Essentially, the prevailing wage law requires all contractors and subcontractors for works built by any public body with public funds to be paid the hourly rate set by the Illinois Department of Labor for that county. Imposing these wages greatly inhibits competitive bidding and typically drives village project costs up exorbitantly which takes money right out of the pockets of the taxpayers. And we’re not talking “chump-change,” here!
Now, whether or not a municipality decides to adopt this ordinance, they are still forced to abide by it. But, many people – myself included – believe that there is no reason for us to support it or give it our “stamp of approval” by voting yes to adopt it.
Woodstock City Council recently voted against adopting this ordinance and I believe they should be applauded for the courage they showed in taking a principled stand. ~
President [Erin] Smith opened the discussion by essentially stating that, while she may not agree with the ordinance – and while she may not like the ordinance – she believes we are somehow legally obligated to vote “YES” to adopt the ordinance. Next, Village Manager, Catherine Peterson echoed President Smith’s sentiments contending that we have no choice but to vote “YES”.
Each trustee then made brief comments, essentially saying how unfortunate it is that “our hands are tied” and we are forced to vote “YES”.
My contention was conveyed as follows:
I do not believe the state has the right or the power to direct us on how we, as elected trustees, are to vote on ANY matter. They simply cannot legislate how we are to vote.
That being said, I stated that I would be voting NO on adopting this ordinance and I challenged each of them to join me in doing so.
I went on to state:
I am, and will always be, an advocate for:
- Small/limited government
- Free/Competitive Markets
- Minimizing Tax Burdens
- Pro – Business minded legislation
The Prevailing Wage Act is the absolute antithesis of all of these.
You simply cannot stand for small government, free/competitive markets and a pro-business environment and then vote to support the Prevailing Age Act. They are in direct contradiction to one another.
And to be clear, this does mean that I am [in the original email Serwatka left out the word “not,” as in “not anti-union. Saturday he sent out a correction.] “anti-union”. Nothing could be further from the truth. I am a 16-year union worker, including my years as a Union Carpenter and a union Firefighter/Paramedic.
I advocate for every worker’s right to voluntarily bargain collectively with his/her employer just as I advocate for any worker’s right to opt-out of collective bargaining and bargain with their employer independently, should he/she so choose.
THIS IS NOT WHAT THE PREVAILING WAGE ACT IS ABOUT!
The Prevailing Wage Act is nothing more than Crony Capitalism – Pure and Simple!
This is Upper Union Echelon in collusion with government to derail competitive bidding by other businesses! It is big government encouraging monopolies and it is a glowing example of the kind of bad politics that has gotten Illinois into the mess that it is in and that is causing our taxes to go through the roof!
If we are to abide by this act and pay these exorbitant wages, be it by consent or by conquest, then I say let it be by conquest. But we should not be complicit. We should not give our “stamp of approval” by voting to adopt an ordinance that we know is wrong.
President Smith then stated that she feared we could be putting the village at risk of being sued by the state by not adopting this ordinance. I disagreed and stated that I have never heard of, nor do I believe there to be, any such risk.
The discussion was then deferred to village attorney, Michael Smoron, who stated:“I am inclined to agree with Mr. Serwatka. I do not believe that risk of litigation by the state is a factor here.”
The discussion continued with new speculations being made that our Village could possibly fall out of favor with the state and risk losing grant money for future projects if we do not vote to adopt this ordinance. All of these speculations, it was admitted, were completely unfounded, but nonetheless, the ordinance was then voted on and approved by a 4 to 2 vote.
Voting YES were Trustees [Gene] Furey, [Bev] Thomas, [Jeff] Iden and [Carl] Davis.
Voting NO were trustees Serwatka and [Ken] Santowski.
The second agenda item was to approve a work order for a, previously budgeted for, conversion/update of the Village’s water distribution system at a cost of $8900. This work order was unanimously voted in the affirmative.
The last agenda item was a resolution to allow village employees to work on State maintained right-of-ways without the village having to obtain a surety bond. This was just a formality. This was voted unanimously in the affirmative.
Attached, you will find the board packet, as it was provided, with all supporting documents. The three aforementioned ordinance documents can be found on pages 73, 83 and 88 respectively.