Trustees Criticized for Helping Terminated Village Official
Apr 16, 2014 12:50PM
● By Steven Jack
Oswego Village Hall Courtesy Flickr Creative Commons/Village of Oswego Tourism Bureau
The forced resignation of a top village of Oswego official has led to some political fallout among trustees.
After a lengthy closed session during Tuesday night’s meeting, the board adjourned to open session with trustees scolding one another for what they called improper dealings with former Building and Zoning Manager Patty Lariviere.
Lariviere, a veteran village employee, left her position April 2.
According to discussions between trustees, Lariviere visited the home of trustee Gail Johnson that day, saying she had left her personal computer flash drive on her work computer at Village Hall.
Fellow Trustee Pam Parr, who is a business partner of Johnson’s and happened to be working at Johnson’s home at the time, told Lariviere she was heading to Village Hall for personal business, and would retrieve it for her. When she arrived at Village Hall, an employee with no knowledge of Lariviere's termination handed the flash drive to Parr.
Lariviere also was allowed later in the day to collect her personal belongings, and when she arrived at Village Hall Johnson was with her, a village source said. Johnson defended her actions, saying she and Lariviere are longtime friends.
Trustees Terry Michels, Scott Volpe and Tony Giles all had some harsh words for their fellow trustees regarding the day's events.
"I can’t tell you what to do. It’s your relationship, but I certainly think it calls into question the relationship of board and staff,” Michels said.
Volpe went on to question why the jump drive had to be retrieved right away when Lariviere had already been given a time later in the day when she could gather her personal belongings.
“The timeframe was mine,” Parr said. “… She was very upset … I said, ‘Patty let me go back and get it; I’ve got to pay my utility bill. Patty didn’t ask me. I volunteered. There was no rush. … I never hid the fact that I was there and asking for it.”
Giles told Parr, a former Kendall County Board member, he was saddened by the whole affair.
“With all your political experience with the County Board to here you have a complete lack of judgment that you go in to the workplace of a terminated employee and remove an electronic device that is in the computer of the employer not knowing what’s on there and remove that from the building.”
Parr said she thought the issue was being overblown.
“I will say that of all the things that have occurred that this is the most minor,” she said. “… I don’t think I did (anything) wrong.”
Johnson also stepped in to defend herself, saying her friendship with Lariviere preceded her election to the Village Board.
“It was not that I was elected to the Village Board and became friends with someone,” she said. “I will not apologize for that. I think I’ve been very cautious with my judgment and probably overly so when it comes to people I know. … I do take my position and that power that comes along with that very seriously.”
Giles said Johnson accompanying Lariviere to Village Hall later in the day had the appearance of Johnson using "political clout" to protect Lariviere from scrutiny during the visit.
“I guess I never thought about my political clout, but I will give it some measure in the future,” Johnson said.