Mike Orrico, the last remaining member of the Tri-State Fire Protection District board that came under BGA scrutiny beginning in 2013, has resigned.
In a letter to the board of trustees and Fire Chief Jack Mancione, Orrico said he recently purchased a home in Joliet – outside of Tri-State’s coverage, which includes parts of Burr Ridge, Darien, Willowbrook, Willow Springs and unincorporated DuPage County.
To be a trustee on the three-member governing board, you have to be a resident of the district.
“The work on the home is nearly complete,” he wrote. “I no longer have any intention of residing within the district limits.”
Orrico declined to publicly comment to the BGA beyond what he said in his letter.
Now, Eric Habercoss, a new trustee who was elected earlier this year, said he is concerned about whether or not Orrico was actually a resident when he voted during the past few board meetings.
Habercoss’ main beef is the “rushed” appointment of Bob Jewell, who took the spot of former longtime trustee Hamilton “Bo” Gibbons after he resigned earlier this year. Orrico cast one of two votes in May to appoint Jewell.
“It definitely brings suspicion upon the district once again,” Habercoss said.
Mancione said he obtained a legal opinion on the matter that said Jewell’s appointment is still valid.
The board has to appoint someone to Orrico’s vacant seat by Oct. 12.
Since the BGA began investigating Tri-State, all three members of the original board are now gone, as well as the former chief. (The BGA looked at everything from conflicts of interest and pension spiking to questionable spending.)
But it does not appear the agency’s problems are gone.
At least one former employee has lodged a complaint against the district citing discrepancies about unused sick and vacation time policies – an issue the BGA highlighted last year when former chief Michelle Gibson walked out the door with more than $100,000 in unused sick and vacation time.
Legal fees continue to mount with approximately $50,000 paid to law firms since June.
And as for transparency, the board did not support a motion to post video recordings of the public meetings online.
Mancione said he inherited a number of issues since he became chief and that the district has been working hard to make progress. Policies, he said, are being administered evenly for everybody and legal fees overall have gone down compared to past years.
“We had a lot on our plate to address and we’re doing the best we can to make it a better place,” he said.
This blog entry was written and reported by the Better Government Association’s Katie Drews, who can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (312) 821-9027.