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Proviso Probe

Monday, August 29, 2005

Trib covers EMM

Chicago Tribune (Mickey Ciokajlo and Grace Aduroja):

District 209 in west suburban Proviso Township, where Moore is the Democratic committeeman, on Monday [August 21, 2005] approved an insurance brokerage contract with Moore's EMM & Associates.

Under the terms, Moore could stand to earn $150,000 in the deal. He makes $105,000 as recorder of deeds.

The school board approved the one-year contract Monday by a 4-3 vote. One of the members who voted in favor of it was Reatha Henry, the board secretary who was elected in April.

Reatha "Sue" Henry is Eugene Moore's Chief of Staff. Without Henry's vote the motion would not have passed.

You may think Henry being an "at will" employee of Gene Moore would be a conflict of interest when voting on whether to give EMM a contract. But according the Mark Sterk, an attorney nominally representing the interests of Proviso Township High Schools, there's no conflict.

Welch said the board members conferred with board attorney Mark Sterk of the Evergreen Park law firm of Odelson & Sterk prior to voting. On Friday, Sterk said the vote did not represent a legal conflict for Henry.

Here's some follow-up questions for Ciokajlo and Aduroja to ask:

1. Why isn't EMM & Associates registered with the Secretary of State or the Cook County Clerk? Aren't businesses normally registered in some way? Why isn't EMM?
2. Is the contract with EMM legit by insurance industry norms? Does the insurance industry normally allow brokers to operate front operations to conceal the true ownership arrangements?
3. Chris Welch's claimed that he consulted with Sterk about the EMM conflict of interest issue before the meeting. If so, why did he refuse to answer the questions about EMM's ownership when asked by a citizen? Isn't this strong evidence that Welch knew the arrangement was either illegal or created the appearance of impropriety?

And, my final point is for Mark Sterk.

Mr. Sterk, you claim there was no conflict of interest on the EMM vote. I'm gonna request a second opinion.

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