This originally appeared on the Illinois News Network on December 13, 2017
Just months after a suburban Chicago mayor was indicted on bribery charges, his replacement reportedly gave himself a massive raise with back pay.
Nonprofit watchdog Project Six reported that interim Markham Mayor Ernest Blevins gave himself a $70,000 raise after being appointed to the position of mayor by a vote of his fellow aldermen.
Project Six uncovered a memo from Blevins to his human resources department stating that “the Mayor will receive budgeted compensation from the budgeted Mayor’s salary…” It went on to instruct them to give Blevins back pay for the time that he was serving as interim mayor but on his aldermanic salary. The back pay would result in more than $34,000.
“There is no statute that says mayors pro temp or interim mayors automatically deserve the full mayor’s salary,” Project Six spokesman Nathaniel Hamilton. “In spite of that, Blevins decided to go ahead with it.”
Emails to city officials were not returned.
Hamilton says this type of improper behavior has become all too common in Illinois.
“Unfortunately, this has become a storyline that has become tried and true in Illinois,” he said. “Unless we can see what’s going on and verify that the trust that we’re putting into our public officials is being honored, we will continue to be telling these stories and continue to be rolling our eyes at another Illinois scandal.”
At the same time Blevins gave himself the huge raises, Markham city employees were told that there could be furlough days issued because of budget problems, Hamilton said.
Former Mayor Daniel Webb abruptly resigned last year and was indicted on bribery charges earlier this month. In his absence, Roger Agpawa, a former fire chief for Markham and current fire chief for suburban Country Club Hills, won the mayoral election, despite having a felony record.
Under current Illinois law, felons are barred from an elected office.