First reported 7/1/2010 3:30 p.m.

Former village council member Terry Steinbach is getting $95,000 as part of the settlement to dismiss her federal lawsuit against the village.

According to the agreement, a copy of which the Forest Park Review obtained last Wednesday afternoon through a Freedom of Information Act request filed mid-May, the payment to Steinbach will be made by the village’s insurance carrier – not directly by any of the defendants.

In the suit, which the then-commissioner filed in August 2006, Steinbach had named the village; Mayor Anthony Calderone; Craig Lundt, director of communications for the Forest Park Police Department; and one other person, referred to in the settlement as John Doe 3. She said her village e-mail account had been hacked and that private messages were read.

Calderone was dropped from the suit after a U.S. District Court judge ruled that the statue of limitations against him had expired. The mayor, who lives next door to Steinbach, has repeatedly denied such access to the former commissioner’s village e-mail account. The Thomas Avenue neighbors have known each other since kindergarten at Garfield School.

The settlement required the village council to vote on amendments to the village’s computer-use procedures, which it did at Monday night’s meeting. The settlement also required Calderone to vote in favor of those amendments and to issue a press release to the Forest Park Review stating his intention to do so. The Review received that press release on deadline for the June 23 issue.

Calderone had a brief reaction to the settlement being made public. In a phone interview with the Review last Wednesday afternoon, he said:

“The disputes that are the subject of the confidential settlement and mutual general release have been settled to the mutual satisfaction of the parties.”

As part of the settlement, Steinbach’s attorney, Charles L. Mudd Jr., agreed to waive any claim against the defendants for legal fees. This means that Steinbach has to pay Mudd’s fees out of her own pocket.

In a phone interview with the Review on Thursday morning, Mudd said that the $95,000 Steinbach is receiving will not cover what Steinbach has been paying him regularly since she filed the suit.

“Terry Steinbach’s fees and expenses exceeded anything that she received,” Mudd said. “Those fees and expenses exceed the figure of $95,000, exceed the figure of $100,000.”

Continuous attempts to reach Steinbach for comment on the settlement have been unsuccessful.

The village council voted in May, 4-1, to accept the terms of the settlement. Mark Hosty cast the vote against accepting it.

Hosty, who initially wouldn’t comment on the settlement, spoke with the Review on Thursday morning:

“I disagree with the whole situation.

“It was settled to save future financial implications of legal fees and I didn’t feel there was enough merit to prove out,” Hosty said, referring to Steinbach’s allegations. “But unfortunately, the costs going forward would have been all on the village instead of the insurance company.”

Steinbach, a DePaul University professor, was an early political supporter of Calderone, but then became an opponent of the mayor. In 2007, she ran for mayor against Calderone and lost a hard-fought and close race. She was a village commissioner from 2003 to 2007.

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How the council voted on the amendment

The June 28 village council meeting featured two votes on a resolution adopting “Computer and Electronic Communications Usage Procedures” – an update of the existing Personnel Policy handbook. 

Initially, a motion to deny was made. It failed, with the two votes in favor coming from commissioners Mike Curry and Mark Hosty. 

Following a somewhat testy discussion, a motion by commissioner Marty Tellalian to adopt the resolution passed 3-2. The aye votes came from Tellallian, Rory Hoskins and Mayor Anthony Calderone.

The amended policy prohibits an elected official from having the password for the village’s administrative account.

It also requires that an elected official notify the village clerk in writing if he or she is going to review the village e-mail of another elected official.

-Amy Malina


Related stories:

What were the village’s legal fees?

“I am not going to talk about the Steinbach lawsuit,” said Claudia Diaz, an attorney with Litchfield Cavo LLP, the Chicago firm that represented the village of Forest Park in the lawsuit.

Forest Park’s finance director, Judy Kovacs, told the Review that she didn’t immediately know how much the lawsuit cost the village in legal fees.

The Review is investigating.

-Bob Skolnik