A former Brookfield employee who is suing the village will now receive a second cash settlement, approved unanimously by the Village Board of Trustees at their Monday night meeting.
After a closed executive session, the board agreed to award $1,000 to Michele Catanzaro, the former assistant to the village manager.
The settlement brings an end to two lawsuits stemming from claims that she violated a 2003 severance agreement, created when she resigned amid unclear circumstances on Aug. 22 of that year.
The village sued her in March 2005 for making alleged “disparaging remarks,” widely believed to have been quotes Catanzaro gave to The Landmark in June 2004 regarding a secret loan deal arranged by former village president Bill Russ. Editor Bob Uphues was deposed for the suit, but did not testify.
Catanzaro counter-sued the village, saying the village also violated the same settlement agreement.
Now, with the payment to Catanzaro approved, both suits will be dropped, said new Village President Michael Garvey.
“I wasn’t in favor of the suit when it was filed last year, when I was a trustee,” Garvey said after the meeting. “Russ was using village funds and time to get back at a former ally. I thought it was best that no more funds be used like this.”
On June 9, 2004, The Landmark quoted Catanzaro in connection with a secret loan deal which she was instrumental in uncovering. Catanzaro had informed Village Trustee Kit Ketchmark that Russ had told her in March of 2002 to cut a $14,754 check to pay back taxes for a private property owner. The property in question was later sold to the CVS pharmacy chain in October of 2002.
The village board never voted in public to authorize the payment, and it didn’t appear on the village’s list of bills until November of 2002.
In addition, the article also mentioned that Catanzaro had received a $15,000 settlement from the village as the result of her termination from village employment. That payment turned up in the village’s list of bills on Nov. 10, 2003, listed as a “contingency.”
That check was voted on separately from the rest of the bills, with the board voting 4-2 to authorize the payment to Catanzaro.
The settlement agreement contained a non-disparagement clause which forbade Catanzaro from making “any statements, or engaging in any conduct which may reasonably be expected to have the effect of disparaging the village, its elected and appointed officers, agents or employees.”
Catanzaro could not be reached for comment.
Buresh townhome plan nears approval
Also at Monday’s meeting, architect John Schiess again presented his plan that would bring 18 townhomes and four single-family homes to the site of the former Buresh’s Lobster House restaurant at 8906 31st St. Board members and residents seemed to favor the plan, which includes six zoning variances, including allowing buildings higher than two stories.
The board canceled both August regular meetings, but Garvey said there will likely be a special meeting to act on the townhome plan.
“I feel good. It’s obvious the residents are passionate about the plan,” said Schiess, who’s been working since 2003 to get the property redeveloped. “We’re a nose away from approval.”