| by Project Six

CHICAGO – The newest investigation from Project Six shows how the interim mayor of Markham, Illinois, illegally gave himself a taxpayer-funded salary increase worth more than $70,000, along with a back-pay payment worth more than $30,000.

The investigation released today shows the outlandish series of events that led to Ernest Blevins being named interim mayor of the Southwest Chicagoland suburb, as well as the steps the mayor and some city officials took to illegally deliver him his unilaterally awarded pay raise and back pay.

Ernest Blevins currently serves as the interim mayor of Markham, Illinois. Blevins was appointed interim mayor after Markham’s former mayor, David Webb Jr., resigned leading up to his indictment for bribery charges for illegally awarding city contracts in Markham. After Webb’s resignation, Markham voters elected Roger Agpawa to succeed Webb as Markham mayor. Agpawa was legally forbidden from taking office, however, because he has a felony record from a mail fraud scheme he pled guilty to in 1999. Agpawa is fighting in court to be allowed to take office.

Prior to being named interim mayor, Blevins served as a Markham alderman. After his mayoral appointment, Blevins unilaterally ordered his salary be increased to the mayoral salary level—which is $76,000 more than his aldermanic salary. Blevins also ordered a $34,000 lump-sum “back-pay” payment for the five months of increased salary amount from when he was first appointed interim mayor.

The Project Six investigation shows how, despite objections from some aldermen and the city treasurer, Blevins and some other city officials pushed through the pay hike and back-pay payment—at the same time that other Markham city employees were being warned about budget cuts and possible furlough days for city staff.

“Elected officials using their government positions to enrich themselves is nothing new in Illinois. But what Mayor Blevins did in Markham is beyond the pale,” said Faisal Khan, CEO of Project Six. “The issue here is not about Blevins’ rightful salary, the issue is an elected official taking matters into his own hands, going around the law and City Council to cut himself a check. Mayor Blevins had an opportunity to lead by example, and run a corruption-ridden jurisdiction openly and honestly. But instead Blevins exploited his position to make a profit. Markham deserves better.”

Read the full report here



For bookings or interviews:
Nathaniel Hamilton, nhamilton@thesecretsix.com or (312) 618-6238.

Project Six is a nonpartisan group dedicated to investigating and ending government corruption in Chicago and Illinois. Working with residents, Project Six hopes to make Illinois’ elected officials work for taxpayers and voters, not for the politically connected or corrupt. Anyone interested in learning more about Project Six or submitting a tip to Project Six investigators should call (888) 366-2569 or visit thesecretsix.com.