Lakewood Zoom Meeting Leaves a Lot to be Desired

One hundred people were signed onto the special Lakewood Village Board meeting Tuesday night.

On the agenda were two censure motions against appointed Trustee Bryan Younge and a motion requiring Board members to get Board permission before asking for legal advice from the Village Attorney.

They appear below;

I missed some of the public comment, but there were questions about flooding in what newcomers call “The Gates.”

There was interchange about improvements made on part of Hampshire Lane.

President Phi Stephan said the new flow of sales tax from the Route 47 gas station was expected to bring in $500,000, which would allow more flood mitigation.

I’m not a Facebook guy, but apparently Trustee Younge posted some information there of which an apparently majority of the Board disapproved.

Part of it apparently dealt with the construction of a deck at RedTail Golf Course, which Stephan said was approved at several Board meetings.

One woman said she had read the Sheriff’s report on McHenry County Blog.

Richard Thompson bluntly asked Stephan, “Did you incite violence?”

The question went unanswered.

From what I gather, there had been discussions about the altercation in which Board members were separated by a Sheriff’s deputy.

Stephan repeatedly referred to a “process,” but it was unclear what that process is.

“We have been discussing this in Executive Session,” Trustee Ryan Berman, a strong supporter of censure.

He criticized “one Trustee,” presumably Younge, discussing it on FaceBook.

He said that Young had been asked to provide questions he wanted answered, but did not seem to have gotten them.

Younge was not given the opportunity to read the statement on the first censure motion (nor anytime during the meeting).

Stephan took an immediate vote after a motion and second was made.

Not what Robert’s Rules of Order would suggest.

Another problem is that the votes for none of motions were announced after the Board members voted.

I sense that one of the tallies must have been 3-3 with Brian Alexander, Amy Fues Odom and Younge in opposition, because Stephan voted, breaking the tie.

But, no one listening heard the results of the vote.

I’m wondering if any of the motions officially passed because of both the lack of announcement of vote results and the declaration of their passage by the President.

At two points in the meeting, listeners interrupted.

One said, “You guys are just a bunch of crooks.”

Another added, “Everyone is this room should be censured.”

The discussion of legal fees discovered that Younge had called the attorney three or four times, once for “in excess of a half an hour.”

At a billing rate of $175 per hour, the attorney estimated the total resulting fee was “approximately $8,500..,as a result of the initial call.”

“We have a rogue Trustee,” one Trustee said.

At this point Younge again asked to read a statement, but Stephan adjourned the meeting.

“You don’t have that right if I call the question,” Stephan asserted.

(I would note there seems to be a widespread misunderstanding that simply calling for the question shuts off debate. That is incorrect. One must move the question, get a second and an affirmative vote to shut off debate. At least that’s what my memory of Robert’s tells me.)

After the meeting adjourned, Younge stated to read his statement, but after a minute or two, someone shut down the Zoom meeting.

Bryan Younge before he was cut off.

Just received Younge’s Facebook comments:

From younge’s facebook post:

Members of the board are investigating this conduct which is endangering the safety of our officers.

The motion to censure me is an attempt to derail or distract this investigation, and an investigation into other serious matters.

The following includes the rationale for the email I wrote directing Smith and Stephan to direct all police matters through dispatch, and background on this motion:


Jeannine Smith and Phil Stephan have both continued to text calls for service to various officers on who are on duty.

This occurs presumably when they are contacted by residents or neighbors or when they observe the violations personally.

Ostensibly, this makes identifying the complainant difficult if not impossible.

This procedure and its inherent dangers and liabilities has been discussed repeatedly over the past year.

Jeannine Smith and President Stephan have been advised regularly of the proper way to make contact with officers on the street through McHenry County Dispatch as well as the means to anonymously report incidents.

It is for the protection of not only the officers but also to preserve due process and protect the village from litigation.

Jeannine Smith’s and President Stephan’s repeated failure to abide by the proper procedures endangers the safety of officers responding to calls, opens up their personal communication devices to subpoena and sends officers to potentially dangerous situations without advising anyone else of the details of the situation or the officer’s location.

This is not acceptable.Jeannine Smith’s and President Stephan’s repeated failure to follow proper procedures further hampers or prevents the gathering of viable recorded details of the incident, the reporter and details or information which can be used to justify or exonerate police actions.

Many have attempted to explain and demonstrate the proper police enforcement and response to village code violations as they apply to the police.

Police personnel are not trained in building code enforcement, that there are numerous possible legal perils and pitfalls associated with police taking such enforcement actions.

Lakewood Municipal Code (3.05) required the village to have either a building inspector and/or a code enforcement officer issue citations.

This is simply not the job of the police.

Jeannine Smith and Phil Stephan have repeatedly circumvented the rank structure by requesting officers perform code enforcement, knowing it was not in accordance with the agreed upon and properly established procedures. I

t has been observed in multiple instances where Jeannine Smith at the direction of Phil Stephan has requested that Lakewood officers take code enforcement action against specific village residents (on 3 separate neighbors) next to President Stephan’s residence despite the appearance of impropriety or personal animas.

Ironically, officers were ordered not to take enforcement action on another neighbor and acquaintance of Phil Stephan for obvious code violations. (RV in driveway directed to be ignored).

This was despite village owned property that currently remains in gross violation of Village Ordinances still allowed to exist.

I am now noticing that ordinances I was part of approving were created and enacted to hamper specific behavior as it related to CAO Smith and President Stephan’s personal wishes.

Specifically, items observed in neighbor’s yard were listed in newly drafted ordinances, when ordinances already existed in other chapters of the code. (Marathon items in a neighbors’ yard and operation of snowmobiles and four wheelers on the lake)

This was later used to impugn the reputation of members of the police department during a board meeting while none were present to defend their actions.

Jeannine Smith and President Stephan have changed Village Ordinances after the fact to legitimize their behavior.

Village Ordinance required Village Vehicle sticker funds were intended solely for the purpose of purchase of, and repairs to, police vehicles.

The fund was actually used to pay for radar enforcement signs, despite a specific line item in the Public Works budget.

The ordinance was later changed to reflect that signs could be purchase using said funds.

It is also noted that the door to Village Hall that leads directly into the police quarters is not up to code and unable to stop an intruder.

The door opens inward, not outward, is hollow core and is not fire rated.

In this room are our police officers and dispatch personnel.

Multiple requests have been made to invest in a new door which would be a few hundred dollars but that has been ignored citing future remodeling. This door needs to be installed immediately.

The apathy demonstrated by CAO and the president to protect the officers with proper equipment is incredibly disconcerting.

An officer reported dangerous health safety conditions to H.R. Green code enforcement regarding an abandoned residence that was a serious health hazard.

Jeannine Smith admonished the officer for reporting the conditions, ignored the dangerous conditions and threats to the safety of the general public.

She posed this hazard by refusing to board up the property for several weeks after the police were fully aware and unable to deny the conditions existed.

My email directing them to go through dispatch was an attempt to mitigate the dangers they are posing to our officers who are protecting us with their own lives.

= = = = =

In addition, regarding motion #2, I am being censored for appearing at Village Hall to prevent the CAO from accessing her computer files “without any board approval whatsoever.”

Reality: Village employees have witnessed the CAO shred village documents and delete emails on at least one other employee’s computer.

consulted with the village attorney about the appropriate procedures to restrict the CAO’s access while the board conducts an investigation, and to ensure documents would not be destroyed or misplaced.

At his direction, I called and received both verbal and written consensus from three other trustees, per proper protocol, to establish a quorum.

But that is not why I showed up at Village Hall.

I showed up at Village Hall to take pictures of the police door that is not up to code (discussed in my previous post) and to make copies of personnel files (proper procedure followed there, too).

Before access could be restricted, Phil appeared at Village Hall in a tirade threatening to “square off“ and engage in a fist fight with multiple individuals.


Lakewood Zoom Meeting Leaves a Lot to be Desired — 8 Comments

  1. Their village took a good step forward in 2017 with some great reforms and advances.

    Now it appears they are taking a couple steps back.

  2. Sadly, Lakewood has joined the rest of the slapdickory of the other incompetent municipalities and County government officials in McHenry County.

  3. For Sam: Ceding our liberty to a larger community doesn’t solve our problems – it makes our voices go unheard and puts Lakewood in the minority for Crystal Lake to push around.

    For example: If McHenry County was part of Wisconsin we’d be open and could get back to work. Think about how connections to larger groups doesn’t help our cause and then consider your question again.

    Re: the article – I would be disappointed if there was impropriety with village leaders. However I will take small infractions (if true) in exchange for the loss of the Smith-Peterson regime.

    Ousting them Changed Lakewood for the better.

    We now have a sensible budget, a better Redtail, we are finally addressing surface water, we have killed their ability to grant construction variances to their friends (which hurt neighboring homes and Desperately needed green space), and most importantly killed the TIF district – a massive tax liability in exchange for the largest commercial development and tax generator in the history of our community.

    It seems that Serwatka set it up and Stephan knocked it down.

    The former ‘head in the clouds’ board caused these problems.

    Want them back?

    With them comes two police cars per officer on duty, thousands wasted on trips to Springfield, thousands wasted in speculative “restaurants” in village hall (while we wasted countless hours on planning for a new village hall), talk of a new Redtail clubhouse, a TIF district with massive tax liability, and other countless and unneeded expenditures.

    Do we still have problems?


    However you’ll notice that in the past there was zero Village engagement because nobody engaged…

    And our village board operated in near secrecy.

    Now we see democracy in action with all of its flaws.

    At least we know what’s going on… just be careful that you don’t throw the baby out with the bath water.

    Trustee Younge should be allowed to investigate lack of protocol as long as he too follows protocol.

    That’s all – equal protection under the law.

    And if all else fails – I’ll still take the results we’re getting over what we used to have.




  4. The Village only used the free tier of Zoom meetings, so there were at least several people who reported through Facebook that they were not able to join the meeting.

    That would seem to be a violation of the OMA.

  5. Liberty for Lakewood has to be Stephan! – A real cool cucumber who should be mashed on the street,

    He tweets more than Trump, but unlike Trump is never funny, interesting or accurate.

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