October 12, 2005: Headlines: Figures: COS - Solomon Islands: City Government: Aurora Beacon News: Some question Tom Weisner's decision to hire "independent contractor" as Aurora's Chief of Staff

Peace Corps Online: State: Illinois: February 8, 2005: Index: PCOL Exclusive: Illinois : October 12, 2005: Headlines: Figures: COS - Solomon Islands: City Government: Aurora Beacon News: Some question Tom Weisner's decision to hire "independent contractor" as Aurora's Chief of Staff

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Some question Tom Weisner's decision to hire "independent contractor" as Aurora's Chief of Staff

Some question Tom Weisner's decision to hire independent contractor as Aurora's Chief of Staff

The move would allow the city to circumvent a state law that prohibits retired municipal workers from collecting a taxpayer-funded salary and pension at the same time in most cases. Tom Weisner, elected mayor of Aurora, IL in 2005, served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in the Solomon Islands.

Some question Tom Weisner's decision to hire "independent contractor" as Aurora's Chief of Staff

Some question plan to hire Vaughan for Aurora post

By Ed Fanselow
staff writer

AURORA — Mayor Tom Weisner says he is ready to fill the city's long-vacant chief-of-staff post, but only if his choice for the job can continue to collect from his state pension while drawing a city salary.

Members of the City Council's Finance Committee are expected to vote today on a plan that would employ a local temp agency to hire retired former Fox Valley Park District director Bob Vaughan as an "independent contractor" for the city.

Under the proposal, the city would pay $100,000 a year to Aurora-based HIPP Temporary Skills Inc., which would subtract a small service fee before forwarding the remainder to Vaughan.

The move would allow the city to circumvent a state law that prohibits retired municipal workers from collecting a taxpayer-funded salary and pension at the same time in most cases.

Weisner said hiring Vaughan on a contract basis would also result in considerable savings to taxpayers since the city would not provide Vaughan with insurance or any other fringe benefits.

"The city is getting a bargain here," he said. "We have a vastly experienced and well-qualified person who we can bring in for far less than a chief-of-staff would usually require."

Jay Stewart, executive director of the Chicago-based Better Government Association, said, though, that Weisner's plan "raises some red flags."

"It strikes me as a crafty way to get around the letter of the law, but forgets about the spirit of the law," Stewart said. "There are reasons why we have these kinds of rules in place, particularly because of concerns about double-dipping."

Fourth Ward Alderman Rick Lawrence, an outspoken critic of the Weisner administration, agreed, calling the move "unethical."

"They set up rules so that we can't do this and then we're going to knowingly and intentionally set this up to get around the rules," Lawrence said. "If you ask me, it stinks."

Several other alderman, though, seemed to give Weisner the benefit of the doubt.

"As long as it's legal, I don't have a problem with it," said Alderman-at-large Bob O'Connor.

"If the mayor trusts, like I do, that Bob (Vaughan) is a good person to have in a position of assistance at City Hall, I'm willing to help accommodate that — even if it means doing a little bit of a two-step dance."

Vaughan, who retired from the Park District in May after nearly 30 years of service, is the namesake of the newly-opened Robert W. Vaughan Athletic Center on West Indian Trail Road. He is also the former chairman of the Greater Aurora Chamber of Commerce.

"Bob has worked well with almost every segment of this community — he knows this city like the back of his hand," Weisner said. "I don't think there's anyone more prepared to step in and be of help to me and the city as my chief of staff."

Vaughan and his wife, Toni, were also central figures within Weisner's recently-concluded campaign for mayor, with Toni Vaughan serving as the mayor's campaign treasurer.

The Vaughans also contributed roughly $550 to the campaign, according to Illinois State Board of Election records.

Vaughan could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

When this story was posted in October 2005, this was on the front page of PCOL:

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Story Source: Aurora Beacon News

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