Melose Park is a Curious Place to Live
Posted in the Downers Grove Forum
#1 Mar 3, 2013
Radio Silence in Melrose Park, Despite Some Promising Reforms
Hey, where'd you get that uniform?
Historically it was a town with strong organized crime influences. While the current leaders of Melrose Park may not like that image, they dont do a lot to correct it either, considering Mayor Ron Serpico continues to take campaign contributions from a waste-hauling company that the FBI has long contended is run by two high-ranking mob figures.
The mob aside, run-of-the-mill public corruption hasnt disappeared from the western suburb, as evidenced by a scandal a few years back that sent the now-former police chief, Vito Scavo, to federal prison.
The Chicago Sun-Times puts it quite succinctly:
Scavo was convicted of racketeering and extortion for strong-arming local businesses into using the two private security firms he illegally ran out of his west suburban police department. Whats more,Scavo used on-duty officers and village equipment to staff his firms.
With Scavo as a backdrop, youd think Melrose Park employees would be cautious these days about their secondary employment, and how it interfaces with municipal government.
Turns out the current deputy police chief in Melrose Park, Michael Castellan, ran a company that, until recently, sold uniforms and other supplies to the very agency that he also helps run.
The BGA detailed some of this a few months back (along with revelations that Assistant Fire Chief Bill Campanelli ran a vending company on the side that was dispensing snacks and pop at Village Hall and other village facilities, as well as local businesses that face inspections from Campanellis public agency.)
Although this surely represented a conflict of interest.It was legaland apparently not even frowned uponfor a municipal worker in Melrose Park to have a private business arrangement of this kind with the municipality.
However, prompted by questions from the BGA, Melrose Parks village board did the right thing in the end: just before Christmas, trustees passed an ethics ordinance that, officials said, prevents the type of business relationships Castellan and Campanelli had.
The conflict-of-interest measure reads No Employee at the level of a department head or higher shall have any Business Relationship with any entity of the Village.... No Employee has a Financial Interest, shall have any employment or Business Relationship with any Person who is Doing Business with the Village if such Employee exercises Contract Management Authority with respect to the business with the Village.
It was like pulling teeth to get Mayor Serpico to talk, but when we finally got him he told the BGA that when some of these things were brought to our attention, thats when we addressed the ordinance not that anyone did anything wrong.
We took that extra step to avoid even the appearance of impropriety, he said.
Mayor Serpico made it clear he considers this matter now closed, although we at the BGA still have questions about one aspect of Castellans businesswhich was (reportedly its now closed) called Shirt Stop and, until 2007, had a virtual lock on the villages uniform sales to cops.
We discovered that, in 2008, the police department bought 14 Motorola police radios from Shirt Stop for $3,500. We obtained the sales documents from Melrose Park by making a request under the Illinois Freedom of Information Act and, wow, the documents are sparse.
So far as we can tell, theres no warranty, no paperwork from the manufacturer, no indication of biddingvery little of anything.
Why did the village buy the radios? And where did they come from?
A village spokesman answered the first question by basically saying, Hey, we bought the radios from Castellan because it was good equipment at a good price.
nobody knows where the radios originated.
A Motorola spokesman told the BGA via email that Shirt Stop is not an authorized Motorola dealer and is not licensed to sell Motorola Solutions radios.
Roger that, 10-4.
#2 Mar 18, 2013
Great post! These idiot supporters are talking about how bad Jesse is. But I noticed they didn't say anything about this story?!?!?!
#3 Mar 31, 2013
My favorite part of this story was "it was like pulling teeth" to get Serpico to address corruption amongst his team of people.LOL
Serpico doesn't want to change MP he simply wants to take what he can from the people of MP.
It is time for a change.
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