Two weeks ago, it was revealed that the committee to reelect Mayor Churnovic had accepted donations from two engineering firms seeking to do business with the City of Crest Hill. It was certainly disappointing to find out that the unethical way of doing business that is so common in Springfield and Chicago as is how things work in Crest Hill. It is not clear if the committee solicited the donations knowing that the firms were looking to get city contracts worth hundreds of thousands of dollars. And it is not clear how much direct control the Mayor had over the actions of the committee.
Since that time, Mayor Churnovic has made donations to three local charities in the amount that the engineering firms had given to the committee to re-elect him. He seems to think that this solves the problem and relieves him of all ethical questions. That is simply not true. This is merely the first step that needs to be taken.
Next, he needs to publicly state if the committee solicited the donations or if the engineering firms gave them without being solicited in any way. And he needs to state what his involvement and knowledge of the committee's actions were. Then based upon those facts he needs to take further action.
If the donations were completely unsolicited, Mayor Churnovic should make it clear to his committee that no donations are to be accepted from any company or individual seeking to do business with the city. No further action would be needed beyond that as long as the committee acts ethically from that point forward.
If the donations were solicited, the Mayor needs to disavow himself of the committee and all those involved with it in any way. That means not accepting any of the funds they have raised, not including the members of the committee on his re-election campaign, and definitely not giving them appointments within city government.
And of course if the Mayor had prior knowledge that the committee was going to engage in pay-to-play politics and approved of their absolutely unethical activities, there is no reason why he should continue to lead the city. I have no reason to believe that is the case and definitely hope that it isn't. I would hope that Crest Hill and our Mayor is above such activities.
While accepting money from those seeking to do business with the city is not illegal, it is unquestionably unethical. Pay-to-play politics has greatly hurt the state government and local governments throughout the state. I do not want to see it introduced to Crest Hill. Especially at a time when the State is currently looking to outlaw such practices at the state level.