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Attorney wants more time for W’bago probe

By Staff | Dec 13, 2009

The Bloomington attorney investigating a complaint made against four Winnebago City Council members says he needs more time.

In a letter to Mayor Randy Nowak dated Dec. 2, Jeff M. Zalasky says a potential conflict of interest issue and the Thanksgiving holiday put him behind schedule.

City officials were hoping to have a final report by the council’s regular meeting held Dec. 8.

Zalasky says he’s interviewed “a lot, a lot of people” during his investigation.

“I’ve talked to council members, employees and non-employees,” he says. “And, I have interviewed numerous people by phone since then.”

Zalasky was referring to Nov. 23, when he started interviewing people at the Municipal Center.

The attorney says he arrived that day in Winnebago at 8 a.m. and didn’t finish until 5:30 p.m.

“I took only a 15-minute lunch break. It was pretty jam-packed that day,” he says.

Zalasky apologized for the delay, which he says is due to many factors out of his control.

On Dec. 4, Nowak granted a one-week extension.

Nowak says once an investigation report is completed, he will call a special council meeting to present the findings.

At the Oct. 12 council meeting, City Administrator Jennifer Feely issued a written complaint against the council,which only named Councilman Dana Gates and did not include the mayor.

She accused the council of:

• violating the Open Meeting law;

• holding an illegal meeting where they decided to fire her in exchange for several employees voting not to join a union;

• not following the city’s personnel policy;

• and violating a determination order preventing the council from coercing employees to leave the union.

Feely’s job performance evaluation was scheduled to be done at the October meeting, however, it has been put on hold until the investigation is completed.