There’s good news and there’s ridiculous news.
The village’s out-of-pocket costs for the interminable, though recently settled, lawsuit with former commissioner Terry Steinbach were only $25,000. (Don’t try to calculate how many years of your property taxes that would represent. It would only hurt.) That $25,000 is the amount of the village’s insurance deductible. OK, the most generous interpretation is that that’s why villages and homeowners have insurance. Sure, maybe your rates go up after a big hit, but …
How big a hit? That’s the ridiculous part. Let’s recap: This was a suit brought by Steinbach, who claimed some staff members violated her privacy by viewing messages on her village e-mail account. The case spent years in the courts, vigorously contested by both sides for reasons having to do more with ego than good government.
The settlement was $95,000. Her lawyer promptly announced that Steinbach had spent even more paying him over the years. So the Review was curious as to what the village had spent on legal fees. We filed a Freedom of Information Act request. Well, said the village, the legal fees were paid by the insurance company and not billed to the municipality. The village clerk did tell us that, according to the insurance company, its legal costs in the case amounted to hundreds of thousands of dollars.
We’re floored. Add that to the $95,000 settlement and we’re just gob-smacked. Somewhere, somehow, someday, taxpayers pay for this. And that’s absurd.