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The Landmark View

We're not sure what was so top secret about the Brookfield Village Board's list of goals and objectives for their newly hired village manager that the board went to the trouble and expense of trying to keep them under wraps before releasing the information on March 11.

Looking at the eight goals listed in a "confidential" memo from Village Manager Tim Wiberg to the village board dated last October, all we can think of is that residents might have been surprised to learn that achieving that list would result in a permanent $10,000 addition to the manager's salary.

Don't get us wrong, the list is a perfectly reasonable enumeration of what a village manager ought to be doing. These are objectives the village manager should indeed be pursuing, and we have no doubt Wiberg will hit those benchmarks. He's hit many already, which is great.

Whether they merit a permanent 6 percent salary boost could be argued, but that was the deal negotiated by the village board last September.

That the village board didn't trumpet the list of goals last October when they were agreed to probably isn't a huge surprise. It's the kind of pro forma thing that often gets short public shrift. When clauses like that are written into contracts, our expectation is that they are sort of self-fulfilling prophecies.

The head-scratcher remains why keep that info from the public after the info had been FOIA'd?

Village President Kit Ketchmark on March 11 said the board didn't want to politicize the hiring of the manager, his goals or his eventual evaluation on those goals.

But that's sort of naïve considering that the whole endeavor is a political one and that the hire and goal setting was being done just as candidates were lining up to run for office this spring.

In any case, the political fallout – if indeed there's any to see at all – would have been far less of a bother back in October than it's likely to be now, less than a month before the election.

Somehow, the village still argues it was in the right to deny the record citing some sort of privacy laws related to personnel evaluation, but we find it hard to argue against the ruling of the Illinois Attorney General's public access counselor that a mere list of goals and objectives sheds any light on an evaluation that won't take place for another four months.

Of course, now that the goals and objectives are out there, the public will be able to judge for itself whether those goals have been accomplished and the village ought to make sure that it can clearly document achievement of those goals.

That's not invading the privacy of the manager. It's holding him and the village board to account, as they should be, for the manager's performance on behalf of taxpayers. This isn't a bad thing. It's a good thing.

Good on the person who submitted the FOIA request, Mark Rogers, currently a candidate for the village board, for being persistent.

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