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Proviso Probe

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

LAWSUIT, Forest Park should hire independent investigator for Steinbach's allegations [FP]

Yesterday, Village Administrator Mike Sturino called me in response to an email inquiry I sent about Steinbach v. Does 1-3. Sturino responded promptly and was professional on the phone.

Sturino said that he couldn’t respond to my questions because he was conducting an investigation of Commissioner Terry Steinbach’s allegations that someone accessed her village email account without proper authority.

Because of his training as a lawyer Sturino is probably the most qualified member of village staff to investigate the matter. By selecting an internal investigator, Sturino made it possible to begin the investigation immediately. And doing the investigation “in house” may save Forest Park money. (Of course, if it gets fouled-up, it may cost taxpayers more to fix the mistake.)

However, there are a number of reasons Sturino’s decision may not be in the best interest of Forest Park.

If Sturino is one of the John Does or a supporting actor, obviously he’s not going to do an impartial investigation. While it seems unlikely Sturino is involved, it’s hardly beyond the realm of possibility.

If Steinbach is mistaken or lying and nothing untoward was done, the Village of Forest Park would be more persuasive in clearing itself if an independent investigator with appropriate technical skills performed the investigation and wrote the report. Steinbach’s partisans can dismiss Sturino’s conclusions as the conclusions of a man kowtowing to a mayor that can fire him.

Also, the village has obligations to provide information to the media. I asked Sturino some strictly factual questions that the village should be able to answer. By assuming the role of investigator Sturino has asserted an obligation to avoid answering questions.
Does Forest Park have a privacy policy for elected officials? What is it?
Under Forest Park policy who is authorized to have access to the accounts besides Craig Lundt?
What is the Village’s official statement on the issue?

Assuming Steinbach has her facts straight, someone who is almost assuredly a village employee did something s/he wasn’t supposed to do. Even if Sturino was not a direct participant, the wrongdoing reflects on his leadership. And if Steinbach’s allegations are correct, Sturino will likely end up investigating his boss’ political organization.

Did Sturino have policies in place that controlled access to the email accounts of elected officials? Did Sturino allow an atmosphere of political partisanship to exist among village employees?

Can anyone properly evaluate himself/herself on these questions?

Remember when President Bush was first asked about the leaking of Valerie Plame’s identity of as a CIA operative? Bush said he’d fire the person responsible. And when the person responsible was identified (“Scooter” Libby) he wasn’t fired. And Libby’s defense was that Bush authorized the leak.

And the only reason Libby was caught was that there was an independent prosecutor handling the case.

If Steinbach has her facts straight—and as far as I know the only evidence she’s presented is her word—then it seems more that 50% likely Mayor Anthony Calderone was in on it.

What if some pro-Calderone partisan sent the emails without Calderone expecting them? If he got emails—and we don’t know how many emails are involved because Steinbach and her lawyer won’t say—wouldn’t the appropriate response be to reply to Steinbach and write something like, “I received this forwarded email. I request explanation of what you want done about the issue”?

Since Calderone didn’t send this kind of response to Steinbach, it seems likely he knew the emails weren’t coming from Steinbach. And since the person who accessed the account wasn’t afraid of being caught by Calderone responding to the blanks emails with a “WTF?” it seems likely Calderone knew to expect the emails.

If Calderone was part of scheme to get unauthorized access to Steinbach’s email—and Steinbach hasn’t proved that the unauthorized access did happen—it’s a conflict of interest to have Calderone’s subordinate, Sturino, doing the investigation.

Sturino investigating allegations of dirty tricks by his boss’ political team is a conflict of interest. Sturino should be able to see this. And he should want to avoid this conflict of interest because getting this investigation right is important to Forest Park.

Remember, Sturino is well on his way to spending $200,000 to hold a thorough hearing of allegations Sgt. Dan Harder swore at another officer, took a couple sick days and lied about his whereabouts one of those sick days. Forest Park residents have been told that we shouldn’t quibble over price when justice is at stake. If Forest Park can blow $200,000 on the Harder hearings, the village can afford an outside investigator to examine these allegations against Calderone’s supporters on village payroll using their official positions to further Calderone’s political objectives.

1 Comments:

  • I see Mayor Calderone and his "old mob school" mentality are at work once again.

    Tsk, tsk Can Forest Park ever get out of the "lawsuit scene". I'm tired of my money going to waste because of a "Tony" w/dirty little fingers.

    People of Forest Park, wake of and smell the roses; you've been had.

    By Anonymous forestparkingliving, at 6:48 AM, August 11, 2006  

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