By Bob Uphues
The Illinois Attorney General's Public Access Bureau has sided with a Brookfield trustee candidate whose Freedom of Information request seeking information about the village manager's employment goals was denied by village hall as being exempt from disclosure.
Laura S. Harter, the deputy bureau chief of the attorney general's Public Access Bureau, on March 5 requested that the village disclose that information to Mark Rogers, one of three candidates on the Brookfield Community Party slate, which is challenging the PEP Party's slate in the April 2 election.
In January, Rogers had submitted a Freedom of Information request seeking "proposed employment goals and objectives of the village manager that would form the basis of his employment performance evaluation."
At the village board's March 11 meeting, President Kit Ketchmark disclosed the information in a prepared statement that also defended the village's initial decision.
"We did not feel it was in the best interest of the village to immediately politicize the hiring of our new village manager, to politicize what we wanted our manager to achieve in the short term and to politicize his subsequent evaluation," Ketchmark said.
Rogers' FOIA request referred to a section in the employment contract of Village Manager Tim Wiberg that states within 30 days of the execution of the contract, the village board will set specific goals for him. If those goals are reached during the first nine months of Wiberg's tenure as village manager, he will receive a raise in his base pay of $10,000.
The village board hired Wiberg as village manager in September 2018 at a base salary of $165,000. If Wiberg attains goals set for him by the village board by July 1, his salary will increase.
The village denied Rogers' request for the stated goals and objectives, claiming they were exempt from examination according to the Personnel Records Review Act. Rogers appealed that decision to the Public Access Bureau in February.
"The $10,000 bump is forever," Rogers told the Landmark. "So although it looks like 'achieve the goals and receive $10,000' it's a permanent addition to the base salary. … So the goals could cost significantly more than $10,000. If there's nothing to hide, then they should provide the document."
In her recommendation that the village turn over the records to Rogers, Harter stated that the village's determination that the goals and objectives were protected was faulty.
"This office … determines that the village manager's list of goals, by itself, is not a performance evaluation," Harter wrote. "This record primarily reflects a set of tasks to be completed without regard to how they are completed. … It does not evaluate him in any manner."
Harter's recommendation that the village disclose the village manager's set of goals and objectives, however, was not binding and the village could have delayed its response or forced Rogers to sue them for it.
Instead, the village chose to make the information public, with Ketchmark reading the eight goals and objectives set for Wiberg last October. Wiberg handed a document listing those goals to the Landmark at the meeting.
The goals are:
Review and provide recommendations to the village board concerning staffing levels and general organizational structure.
Complete a manpower benchmarking study to compare Brookfield's organization structure to other similar municipalities.
Revamp the village board meeting packet process to create more user-friendly and informative packets for the village board and the public's use.
Oversee the creation and subsequent adoption of the Fiscal Year 2019 budget, focusing on incorporating more strategic planning elements. The goal is to provide the public with a better understanding of the village's fiscal condition and fiscal issues.
Provide recommendations to the village board on how to incorporate audio/visual capabilities in the council chambers.
Hire a new public works director and orientate the successful candidate into village operations.
Subject to board approval, oversee the village's administration of new development projects including the bowling alley site and Congress Station.
Develop an implementation plan for the recently approved comprehensive plan.
Rogers called the list "giving [the manager] an extra $10,000 for doing his job."