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Proviso Probe

Monday, July 30, 2007

Yarbrough political committees hit up village's legal counsel

West Suburban Journal (Kevin Williams with Nicole Trottie) detailed how two political committees aligned with Karen & Henderson Yarbrough received $9,000 since 2005 from Klein, Thorpe & Jenkins, the attorneys for the Village of Maywood. (h/t Proviso Insider)

Karen Yarbrough is the state representative for Maywood and much of the surrounding area; she is also Proviso Township's Democratic Committeeman. Henderson Yarbrough is Maywood's village president. Before the April, 2007 election Yarbrough's block had a 4-3 majority on the village board; now they have a 6-1 majority.

In an email to me Karen Yarbrough wrote that the Klein, Thorpe & Jenkins contributions were a “non issue”. I disagree.

In the past I have expressed concern that politicians raising money from law firms that work for local taxing bodies is simply money laundering. At its simplest the taxing body picks a law firm—because legal work is a “professional service” it doesn't need to be bid out—and the law firms merely pad their bills to cover the contributions the politicians want. They can either build the cost of the political contributions into the firm's hourly rate or add extra hours.

Raising money from vendors and contractors looks bad, but there are a number of ways raising money from law firms is worse.

1. Legal work is not bid upon.
2. If there is a quid pro quo negotiated it is more difficult for outsiders, including law enforcement, to detect because of the protections of attorney-client privilege.
3. There is no protection against attorneys padding their bills other than the personal honor of the attorneys. Normally, law clients have an incentive to be skeptical of the bills and pay as little as possible. But when politicians are making money off the attorneys the incentives for keeping bills low are weaker than the incentives to “get along and go along”.
4. The interrelationship between attorney and client also taints the legal advice given. Normally an ethical lawyer counsels clients on ways to avoid legal costs. But if the politicians can reasonably anticipate a kickback to their political committee (or an ally's political committee) then they have an incentive to make choices that increase the legal bills, not keep them down.

When people want to rip on Karen Yarbrough they say she practices politics like the people she seeks to replace; at best she's a “reluctant reformer”. She's more articulate than Eugene Moore and less likely to do something flagrantly illegal. But from the community's point of view the new boss looks like the old boss.

I disagree with this assessment. But I think Yarbrough has to make an effort to be better. Most of the people with their hands on the levers of political power want the system to stay the same. The people with political power can convert it into wealth and power for themselves and their political allies. They are going to serve the community as little as possible while maintaining the perks of attaining political power.

There's always going to be a pull to “get along and go along”. Yarbrough and her team have to make an effort to resist this inevitable pull. The pull is inevitable, but giving in to pull of “get along and go along” politics isn't.

IMO, the Yarbroughs should return the contributions to Klein, Thorpe & Jenkins and the Village of Maywood should attach language to the contracts with all law firms that they are expected to stay out of local politics in the Proviso area.

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8 Comments:

  • I have a new found respect for you, Carl

    By Anonymous checks and balance, at 3:33 PM, July 30, 2007  

  • From Transparent Government -
    I agree with your "money laundering" rationale...same with many appointed positions...just a way to get the taxpayers' money into the campaign fund.

    ps - I posted (or tried) to post to the Eugene Moore party blog on the other proviso site. I asked if the Feds were invited. Alas, they apparently did not approve.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 4:10 PM, July 30, 2007  

  • In other places the acceptance of campaign contributions from companies contracting with govt. is called "pay to play". Perhaps if it isn't already in the Village of Maywood Code, then the ethics portion should be updated to prevent this kind of contribution.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 7:53 PM, July 30, 2007  

  • What gets me is not the fact "pay to play" is rampant in the village - people can see right through Karen. What gets me is her nonchalant response. I used to support her - "used to"

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9:53 AM, July 31, 2007  

  • How much does pasquale shake down Ancel Glink for in campaign "contributions" ?

    By Anonymous carlsnuts, at 4:14 AM, August 01, 2007  

  • My wife and I are very disappointed to learn this about the Yarbrough's and the Maywood United Party.

    Is there anyone who can be counted on in our village?

    By Anonymous reformed liberal, at 12:41 PM, August 01, 2007  

  • So, what, Karen and Henderson are like Frank Pasquale?

    If the shoe fits....

    By Anonymous if the shoe fits, at 12:43 PM, August 01, 2007  

  • Maywood is a shithole over ran by Yarbrough and drug dealers and gangbangers (GD's, Vice lords, Four Courner Hustlers,Latin Kings, Mafia, New Breeds, ect. oh And Imperial Gangsters who dont live there but come from Franklin Park A.K.A THE JUNGLE and shoots up the town !) On oneside of the tracks u have mexicans half are illegale wet backs majority high school drop outs with kids! and on the other Ghetto ass porch monkeys Who cant speak proper english and prefer Ebonicks and blame everything on the whiteMan and in between is your white trailer trash! You can purchase a 4 bedroom brick home with a basement for $120,000! Maywood police officers starting salary is about $35,000 and increases after 18 months to $40,000! No college experience needed G.E.D.s are welcomed! 3 out of 5 officers are currpt and think they are above the law! Please save your money and DO NOT MOVE TO GAYWOOD!

    By Anonymous Yarbrough has ruined Maywood, at 10:15 AM, August 04, 2007  

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