County nixes Goslin’s water district ethics ordinance
WHAT: Northfield Woods Sanitary District
WHEN FORMED: 1956
SERVICES: 1,800 homes, 400 acres of commercial property
RUN BY: Three trustees appointed by the former Cook County Board President Todd Stroger
HEADQUARTERS: 3633 W. Lake Ave., Suite 403B, Glenview
Updated: September 3, 2012 6:09AM
An ethics ordinance aimed at reigning in the unchecked operations of small governmental offices in Cook County was pulled off the legislative table.
Commissioner Gregg Goslin, R-14th, said the recent actions of a Glenview sanitary water district was why he submitted an amended ethics ordinance to the Cook County Board on May 14.
On April 27, Inspector General Patrick M. Blanchard issued a report to county commissioners, detailing the allegations and calling for dissolving the Northfield Woods Sanitary District in Glenview for its fiscal mismanagement from 2008 to 2011.
Blanchard said district’s trustees overpaid themselves $210,000 during the three years.
He said Wednesday the Cook County state’s attorney’s office advised him against pushing for the ordinance.
“They said we don’t have the authority to impose an ethics ordinance onto individual districts. Anyone could challenge it in court,” Goslin said, adding he and Blanchard would pursue ethics rules by working with state legislatures in Springfield.
“These small individual districts are not accountable to anyone. A good example of this is the Northfield Woods Sanitary District,” he said.
Still in office, the trustees were President Frank Ness and Alan Beutelspacher and Joseph Fagan. Mike Downing was the district ’s attorney, while Mike Lockett was the accountant.
The proposed amendment would have put county board appointees, such as water district trustees, under rules of the Cook County Ethics Ordinance, the same that apply to county commissioners.
Goslin said the amendments’ true effectiveness was that all county appointees must state how much money they have earned in public office, in addition to private incomes.
Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle appeared Wednesday in Glenview with Goslin to present county road construction projects near Harms Woods.
Although county commissioners appoint people to water districts and mosquito abatement and public transportation boards, Preckwinkle also said they needed more oversight.
“We should hold them to high standards. These little fiefdoms are paid well and have government pensions. They’re an embarrassment to Cook County government,” she said.
“We’re putting these issue on our legislative agenda this year.”
The Northfield Woods Sanitary District was formed in 1956 to provide sanitary sewer service to then-unincorporated north Cook County.
The district contains 1,800 homes and 400 acres of commercial property, mostly in incorporated Glenview, bounded by I-294 and Willow Road on the north, Milwaukee Avenue on the west, Timber Trails and Forest Drive subdivisions on the south and Landwehr Road on the east.
The sanitary district is headquartered at 3633 W. Lake Ave., Suite 403B, Glenview.
The spokeswoman for the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago, Allison Fore, said the Northfield Woods District publicly owns and maintains a sanitary sewer system that discharges to the MWRD’s interceptor system in Des Plaines.
Former Cook County Board President Todd Stroger appointed Ness, Beutelspacher and Fagan.