The clock is ticking for Brookfield Village Manager Dave Owen. He’s known that for some time now.
During the recent election campaign, both presidential candidates spoke of a change within village hall. Outgoing President Bill Russ hinted at a possible change, but President-Elect Michael Garvey was more direct. If he got elected, he would fire the 65-year-old Owen.
Garvey got elected, so now Owen is waiting for the next shoe to drop.
“I have no animosity,” Owen said. “I’ve enjoyed the job for the most part. I did my best to stay above the fray, and I personally don’t think I’ve done that bad a job. But there’s a new sheriff in town.
“I’m a political realist,” he added. “I’ll go out amicably.”
Owen and Garvey met with village staff last week to get Garvey up to date on current village hall issues, including the status of several union contracts now being negotiated. The two were scheduled to meet yesterday to discuss Owen’s future.
“I would hope President-Elect Garvey will give me an indication of what his thoughts are, so I can plan for the rest of my life.”
Garvey, while reluctant to talk about personnel matters in public, said, “I’m looking to make a smooth transition. I’m not looking to create chaos right now.”
Garvey added that he doesn’t anticipate any change in the immediate wake of May 9, when he and the new board members are sworn into office.
“I’d like to consult with board members on that,” Garvey said.
There are a number of important matters facing village staff and the board right now, not the least of which is drafting a budget for the 2005-06 fiscal year, which begins May 1. It’s unclear whether Owen will stay on during the budget process or if he’ll stay while the village conducts a search for a new manager.
Since Owen’s contract with the village is open-ended, he’ll have to be dismissed from the position. When that happens, he’ll receive a severance package that includes six months’ salary and any vacation, sick days or personal days he’s owed. Owen’s annual salary is approximately $90,000.
Owen was hired as Brookfield’s village manager in May 2002 after Village Manager Mark Isakson resigned after just a handful of months on the job. Owen previously had served as interim village manager, while the board was engaged in a search that ended with Isakson’s hire in November 2001.
But Isakson’s tenure in Brookfield was rocky almost from the start. He took a leave of absence in February 2002, and Owen was called in as a consultant to help keep day-to-day operations moving.
Owen won’t be walking away from politics altogether when he leaves Brookfield. On the same day his days in Brookfield became numbered, Owen won reelection as mayor of South Chicago Heights. It will be his fifth term in office in that south suburb. He retired from his 31-year career in industrial sales in June 2000.