The health insurance issue in Chicago Ridge – in which trustees and former trustees have been offered healthy insurance benefits for free or a highly reduced rate, has a new wrinkle to it.
During the board’s May 5 discussion of advertising for an open clerical position in the police department, which needs to be filled due to an impending retirement, the health insurance issue surfaced.
Resident Mary Callan, an outspoken opponent on the insurance offered to trustees, asked if the full-time position could be filled by two part-time employees, to avoid paying insurance.
Although her suggestion was applauded by some in the crowd, Police Chief Robert Pyznarski, who asked for the opening to be advertised, said that isn’t possible.
“This job requires someone who is going to be there all the time,” he said.
He added the contract negotiated with employee unions requires that there be four full-time clerical positions.
Trustee Michael Davies suggested that the board hold off until the next meeting in two weeks to decide about advertising the job in order to get an official determination from attorneys about the legality of hiring part-time replacements.
“It seems to me we don’t need to wait two weeks,” said Mayor Charles Tokar. “I’ll call (attorney) Nick Cetwinski and get an answer. Then we can advertise for the job.”
As for the main controversy about the health insurance issue, Tokar helped form a committee which would look into the options for solving the problem. This issue brought more than 100 residents to the past two board meetings.
Callan also publicly praised Worth Township Highway Commissioner Ed Moody, a local resident who was at the meeting, for bringing the insurance issue to the attention of residents during the recent election campaign.
At the previous meeting in April, Moody was criticized by people such as Trustee Daniel Badon, who lost his bid for re-election, for making a political issue of the insurance. Badon is the only member of the current board who was a trustee when it the insurance plan was approved.
Before the meeting wrapped up and the new trustees were sworn in, Lind addressed the issue when thanking Badon and Davies, who stepped down from the board for many years of volunteer service to the village.
Referring to what he called “unfair criticism,” Lind said it should be remembered that the trustees are longtime residents and volunteered “countless hours” of service to the village. He also took issue with similar criticism of former trustee Don Pratl, who lost his bid to return to the board.
“We’ll get through this insurance thing, and if you think we did something wrong, that is fine. But (Badon and Davies) are not in it for the money. I do not serve to get insurance. I am here because I grew up here and I love this village. We look out for you. We are our neighbors. We are your friends,” said Lind.
“I second that,” agreed Tokars, thanking the outgoing trustees.