Brookfield officials were warned about the precarious status of the village’s computer system over three years ago, but were reportedly stonewalled by Finance Director John Dolasinski, who instead allegedly hired a computer consulting firm against the recommendation of the village’s Technology Committee.
The connection between Dolasinski and his role as the village’s point person for technology has become the apparent reason Dolasinski has been placed on administrative leave from his post as finance director. Village Manager Riccardo Ginex said that a decision on Dolasinski’s status with the village should be finalized by the end of the week.
In the meantime, the village hired a new technology consultant to replace Lord and Murphy, the company favored by Dolasinski, to head off what Ginex called a technology “crisis” at the village’s Jan. 23 Board of Trustees meeting.
Records show that Brookfield paid Lord and Murphy over $100,000 in calendar year 2005, but continued to be saddled with an obsolete mainframe computer that had been called a “boat anchor” by the Technology Committee as far back as September 2002.
The Technology Committee was formed in 2002 by then Village President Bill Russ, who named Craig Goldwyn its chairman. The committee included several tech-savvy volunteers, who served as the “agenda” committee for the group. The group as a whole included Russ and other key village staff, including Dolasinski, who was hired as the village’s finance director in October 2002.
Goldwyn set forth the goals of the Technology Committee in September 2002, identifying three key areas.
First, the committee would install a video recording system in the village hall boardroom to enable the village to broadcast its meetings. Second, the committee would improve the village’s web site. In addition to making the site a better tool for communication with residents, the committee wanted to eventually allow residents the ability to access village codes, meeting minutes, permit applications and other documents online.
Third, the committee set about studying the village’s computer system in advance of recommending its eventual replacement.
“With a lot of input from village employees, we will recommend a replacement system, a vendor and a procedure for making the change,” Goldwyn wrote to committee members in a kick-off e-mail from Sept. 30, 2002.
In a separate e-mail from that same date, Goldwyn wrote that committee member “[Robert] Meissen has begun gathering info about vendors and systems that could replace the current System 36 computer system used by the village. We unanimously agreed to refer to this system as ‘The Boat Anchor.'”
The entire Technology Committee, including Dolasinski, met for the first time on Dec. 19, 2002. According to the minutes of that meeting, Dolasinski “pointed out that he has met with a prospective vendor for upgrading the network and other operational systems” despite the committee’s stated goal of doing research and making recommendations about changes.
That meeting, according to Goldwyn, set off alarm bells. In January 2003, Goldwyn e-mailed Russ in an attempt to get Dolasinski on board with the goals of the committee.
“He seemed resentful of the committee and a bit negative,” Goldwyn wrote to Russ on Jan. 2, 2003. “He seemed committed to his own plans without input from us. I hope he doesn’t just go out and buy a bunch of hardware and software without checking with the committee.”
Dolasinski did not return a call to his home seeking comment for this report.
On Jan. 12, 2003 Goldwyn e-mailed Technology Committee members that Meissen was beginning to research needs for a “new network, phone system, desktop computers and other technical services.”
But by April, an e-mail from Goldwyn to Dolasinski suggests that Dolasinski was moving ahead without input from the committee. On April 9, 2003, Goldwyn wrote, “I have asked [other Technology Committee members] to do no further work for the village until you reply to my request for information about your plans.”
By May 2003, Dolasinski had apparently hired Lord and Murphy (not in November 2002 as previously reported) as well as an e-mail hosting company.
“I voiced my dismay in no uncertain terms,” Goldwyn e-mailed to members of the Board of Trustees on May 15, 2003. “Especially since committee member Chris Sheehy had been asked to select an e-mail vendor and oversee the transition … John knew we were working on this.
“We also believe [Dolasinski] should oversee maintaining the current systems, but he should not interfere with our mission,” Goldwyn added.
At that point, the Technology Committee appears to have ceased functioning as a working group. Two e-mails from Goldwyn in March and April of 2004, one to Village Manager Dave Owen and another to Russ, refer to the committee’s last meeting “about a year ago.”
Goldwyn prepared another e-mail slated for village board members on April 30, 2004, running a first draft past Russ. In it, he stated that after Dolasinski was invited to be part of the committee, he “promptly let us know that he did not need or want our help. He had a preferred vendor from his previous job who would consult with him.
“We were not impressed with Mr. Dolasinski’s preferred vendor. At that time we recommended that the village invite vendors to make proposals and bid on the job. … Again we were told to butt out by Mr. Dolasinski.”
Later in the e-mail, Goldwyn states that the technology situation in the village “is a problem that grows worse with time, not better. … I urge village leaders to tell Mr. Dolasinski to cooperate with my committee and allow us to fulfill the committee’s charter.”
Goldwyn said Russ told him to hold off on sending the letter until he could talk to everybody in person, and the letter was never sent to the board.
On Sept. 22, 2004, Goldwyn officially tendered his letter of resignation to Russ.
“I fear that the issue of the village’s computer systems will become a political football, and I do not wish to have to explain to the board and the media the problems I have had getting John Dolasinski, Dave Owen and you to give the committee the cooperation we need to help.”
Dolasinski was placed on administrative leave on Jan. 27, after a scathing audit of the village’s technology by All Information Services, the village’s new information services consultant.