Illinois Leaks Dips into Lakewood Poliltics

This was posted on Illinois Leaks and is reprinted here with permission:

Lakewood Village President tries to remove 2 Village Trustees –


Village of Lakewood President Paul Serwatka

It appears, from two recent letters written by Lakewood, IL. Village President Paul Serwatka, that he is usurping the powers, rights, and responsibilities of a couple of village trustees by attempting to remove them from office.

Hopefully, the village’s attorney will inform the village president that he cannot do this.

Their next village board meeting is Tuesday, June 12, 2018.

Trustees Jason McMahon and Patrick Rexroat were both appointed to vacant Trustee seats, and for the remainder of those vacated terms of office.

There is no provision in the Illinois Municipal Code for removing an elected (or appointed to an elected office) village trustee – and especially by village presidential proclamation.

We assume the Village Police Department is not going to assist this village president in these civil rights violations.

vacancy can only occur under the same conditions as an elected Trustee:

  • resignation
  • death or disability (Village Board declares the vacancy)
  • abandonment or other cause (Village Board declares the vacancy)
  • guilty of disqualifying criminal offense (Plea agreement or finding of guilty by a Court)
  • election declared void (by a competent tribunal)
  • owing of a debt to the municipality (after a lengthy written timeline and process)

It is our understanding, Village President Paul Serwatka is moving out of the village, and this is the only way for him to back-door the appointment of his chosen replacement – by getting rid of enough dissenting trustees…

We attempted to talk to Village President Serwatka, but he did not answer his phone and did not return our call at press time.

Serwatka is a member of the “Lakewood Tax-fighter and Better Government Project.

We suggest Trustees McMahon and Rexroat attend the next meeting and take their usual and rightful seats at the village board meeting as they have in the past.

Last December, the Village of Lakewood Trustees censured Serwatka (read it here), but much like this lack of authority for removing village trustees, those same trustees lacked any authority for censure.

Censure is left to the voters.
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Illinois Leaks Dips into Lakewood Poliltics — 23 Comments

  1. Cal did we really need Edgar County Dogs to write an article on the obvious?

    Wonder if all the people who posted about Paul draining the swamp are going to wake up?

    Probably not as these are the same people who think Gasser is doing a geat job.

    Mr. Serwatka word of advice when your wife quits her next job maybe not have her tell everybody she is moving.

  2. Yeah, The Village President doesn’t have this authority.

    Pretty bold effort (“it is what I say it is”) that mimics D.C. right now, but it won’t work.

    It’ll just cost legal fees.

  3. He is trying to proceed under this section:

    65 ILCS 5/Art. 3.1 Div. 35 heading)

    (65 ILCS 5/3.1-35-10) (from Ch. 24, par. 3.1-35-10)

    Sec. 3.1-35-10. Mayor or president; removal of appointed officer.

    Except where otherwise provided by statute, the mayor or president may remove any officer appointed by the mayor or president under this Code, on any written charge, whenever the mayor or president is of the opinion that the interests of the municipality demand removal. The mayor or president shall report the reasons for the removal to the corporate authorities at a meeting to be held not less than 5 nor more than 10 days after the removal. If the mayor or president fails or refuses to report to the corporate authorities the reasons for the removal, or if the corporate authorities by a two-thirds vote of all members authorized by law to be elected disapprove of the removal, the officer thereupon shall be restored to the office from which the officer was removed. The vote shall be by yeas and nays, which shall be entered upon the journal of the corporate authorities. Upon restoration, the officer shall give a new bond and take a new oath of office. No officer shall be removed a second time for the same offense.
    (Source: P.A. 87-1119.)

  4. The question is whether or not a Village Trustee is a ‘Municipal Officer”

    65 ILCS 5/Art. 3.1 Div. 30 heading)

    (65 ILCS 5/3.1-30-5) (from Ch. 24, par. 3.1-30-5)

    Sec. 3.1-30-5. Appointed officers in all municipalities.

    (a) The mayor or president, as the case may be, by and with the advice and consent of the city council or the board of trustees, may appoint (1) a treasurer (if the treasurer is not an elected position in the municipality), (2) a collector, (3) a comptroller, (4) a marshal, (5) an attorney or a corporation counsel, (6) one or more purchasing agents and deputies, (7) the number of auxiliary police officers determined necessary by the corporate authorities, (8) police matrons, (9) a commissioner of public works, (10) a budget director or a budget officer, and (11) other officers necessary to carry into effect the powers conferred upon municipalities.

  5. The office of Village Trustees would not appear to be governed by this section.

  6. See for example, here:

    (65 ILCS 5/3.1-45-10) (from Ch. 24, par. 3.1-45-10)

    Sec. 3.1-45-10. Officers; duties and fees.

    The president and board of trustees may prescribe the duties of the officers appointed under Section 3.1-30-5, and the amount to be charged for services rendered by those officers, and may require them to execute whatever bonds are prescribed by statute or ordinance.

    (Source: P.A. 87-1119.)

  7. Trustees are “officials” , not “officers”.

    Elected officials are appointed to the term of office following a vacancy.

    They serve for the balance of that term.

    There are provisions for removal from office of an elected official on the occurrence of certain things, such as conviction of a felony.

    This implies that an official, whether elected or appointed, may not be removed forcibly.

  8. Glad to see “Where’s Waldo” has surfaced even if it is only to pull a tactic reserved for the kind of politicians he vowed to expose.

    Nothing has changed from when first elected he quickly took a short term run at the Illinois House.

    He always had his best interest at heart in spite of all the hyperbole. Bleach is right. A snake is always a snake.

  9. There is most likely going to be a vacancy in the office of State Representative if Allen Skillicorn is appointed to fill the Senate seat.

    This vacancy will be effectively filled by the McHenry County GOP Chairman.

    Serwatka ran for that position but dropped out right before the election.

    I would think that this attempt by President Serwatka to oust Village Board members because he doesn’t like how they vote would be disqualifying for that position assuming he still wants it.

  10. Further muddying the waters, however, is this:

    5 ILCS 5/Art. 3.1 Div. 15 heading)

    (65 ILCS 5/3.1-15-5) (from Ch. 24, par. 3.1-15-5)

    Sec. 3.1-15-5. Officers to be elected. In all cities incorporated under this Code there shall be elected a mayor, aldermen, a city clerk, and a city treasurer (except in the case of a city of 10,000 or fewer inhabitants that, by ordinance, allows for the appointment of a city treasurer by the mayor, subject to the advice and consent of the city council).

    In all villages and incorporated towns, there shall be elected a president, trustees, and a clerk, except as otherwise provided in this Code.

    (Source: P.A. 87-1119; 88-572, eff. 8-11-94.)

  11. The Village Board can override the President’s decision by a 2/3rds vote.

    The gambit here is that, assuming the original provision cited above applies at all, the removal is effective on the date of the letter subject to the members being reinstated if not approved by the 2/3rds of the Board remaining.

    So the removed members will be barred from voting on it.

    That’s why I don’t think this provision was intended to apply to Board Members.

    It is supposed to be used for other positions like Village Administrator or Police Chief, where all the Board members are going to be still sitting.

    If this can be used to oust Board Members, it can be manipulated, as is the case here.

    Get ready for litigation.

    Also the Village Attorney may have a conflict. Can he represent the Village against the ousted Board Members?

    The Village could wind up paying for both sides of the litigation.

    What a mess.

    And for what?

  12. But King “Rex” did do his damnedest to run a stealth campaign of chicanery and lies.

  13. Whatever tax savings have been realized under his administration may now just be going to legal fees.

  14. I’m amazed – but also not surprised – at how some of you are cheering Serwatka on for attempting to blatantly violate the law here.

    He has ZERO authority to do what he is attempting to do.

    Also – Serwatka’s comments to the NWH were embarrassing, and showed what kind of commitment he has (or doesn’t have) to Lakewood.

  15. If you act illegally you are not “draining the swamp” you ARE the swamp.

  16. The agenda for tomorrow’s meeting now reads as follows:

    6. Motion to Reappoint Patrick Rexroat to the Position ofT1ustee with a Term Ending April 30, 2019
    7. Motion to Reappoint Jason McMahon to the Position ofT1ustee with a Term Ending April 30, 2019
    8. Motion to Appoint Donald Miller to the Position of Trustee with a Term Ending April 30, 2019
    9. l’viotion to Appoint Thomas Lentz to the Position of Ttustee with a Term Ending April 30, 2019

  17. So then the question is who will be entitled to vote on 6 and 7??

  18. Why would there be a reappointment if the letter and act is/was likely illegal?

    Tomorrow night should be an interesting meeting.

  19. Ordinarily the Election Code would apply.

    However, the section pertaining to vacancies in office says as follows:

    “This Section does not apply to any elected or appointed officers or officials of any municipality having a population under 500,000.”

  20. So the rumor is that President Serwatka will do the following at tomorrow’s meeting:

    (1) Announce that the two trustees he doesn’t like have been fired;

    (2) Appoint two trustees that he favors in their place;

    (3) Tender his own letter of resignation, effective immediately;

    (4) Have the newly (and illegally) constituted board vote on his replacement.

    (5) Leave town as the village is engulfed in lawsuits.

    That is the legacy he is leaving behind folks……

  21. It is so highly entertaining to read many of these posts.

    And much like Serwatka has done for so long taking things out of context, hiding facts and not telling the entire story to get an agenda accomplished, the same seems to apply here in many posts.

    Censuring is not a legal remedy, it is a political remedy and only holds to publicly shame the individual for acts done.

    And even more interesting that his censure was discussed in a post but not the censure he brought against Trustee McMahon.

    Argue whatever point you choose to argue but when 5 of 6 trustees agree that someone has crossed the line, maybe they know something the public doesn’t.

    Serwatka mislead so many, I was one of them.

    How has that storm water issue coming along?

    What has Serwatka actually done to mitigate the next major rainfall?

    Other than Phil Stefan, was any ideas proposed by other trustees acted upon or investigated?

    The simple answer is no since Serwatka had no plan or desire to allow input or when backed into a corner, started a smear campaign against whoever had the idea and often times would not place it on the agenda (did anyone wonder why the board used IL statute to force Serwatka into placing items on the agenda when deemed appropriate?).

    I do wish I understood why someone who campaigned so feverishly because he felt the Erin Smith led board “kept him in the dark but not other trustees”, “how they are hiding money from the residents” by allocating inappropriately in the financials, “awarding decisions to favorites” and there is so much more and at the time, made sense.

    Having had numerous conversations (individually and with other trustees) with Serwatka prior to and after the election, myself and other Tax Fighter aligned trustees saw a 180 once he had the title.

    No longer would ideas be discussed, they were dictated and the rash of highly unprofessional bashing began.

    As I had stated in an earlier post, it is a shame.

    He had ambition, drive and fight which could have been great for Lakewood but as it turned out, his ambition, drive and fight was for Paul Serwatka, not the Village.
    And by the way, according to Serwatka, he is moving because of the high taxes?

    So he really isn’t the tax fighter champion he touted he was and to follow up on someone else’s post, HOW DO YOU SELL A HOME YOU DON’T OWN?

    I hope the residents see through the foul mist that Serwatka has left hanging over the Village and doesn’t support his mini me as President.

    Not much would change since collaboration and open mindedness is vital to manage any group, organization or municipality.

    I have so many emails and texts where I asked Serwatka if he had ever read a book on leadership, of course he would not answer but that was the issue.

    Going back to my days in the service, Serwatka would have been a solid Sargent but as an officer, not a ghost chance.

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