The most recent Naperville City Council meeting saw Mayor Steve Chirico recuse himself from a vote concerning Central Park Place, the new condo development on the old Nichols Library site.
“I do not have a direct conflict of interest on this but there is a potential conflict with one of their customers so I will go ahead and recuse this,” said Chirico.
The issue arose after a story by CBS Chicago claimed his business, Great Western Flooring, had a financial tie to the development.
The old Nichols Library property owner, Dwight Avram, contracted Empire Today to do the floors of the 17-unit project, but the condo-buyers are free to use a different vendor. One client approached Great Western Flooring for a quote on a specialty product not offered by Empire.
Avram added that he’s never done business with Great Western Flooring.
“Political Stunt,” says Mayor
Chirico called the issue a political stunt orchestrated by those who oppose his mayoral campaign, particularly those who resisted the Bauer Place development.
“They were quite angry that we approved that,” said Chirico. “[They] formed a couple of anonymous websites to oppose the entire council but particularly my campaign. And so I see a couple of members here today and I say good evening to you. So this was simply a political stunt.”
Not All Agree with Chirico
When CBS Chicago initially approached Chirico on the issue, he said he had no financial ties to the project. He later said he wasn’t aware of the client who asked for a quote from his business, as he is no longer involved in the day-to-day running of the company.
This led to some calling his integrity into question.
“Mayor Steve Chirico has gone on record three times – and this is what’s bothered me about all of these stories – he has changed his story three or four times. He said he would not financially benefit. But what does the public see?” said Councilwoman Becky Anderson. “All of us up here on the dais right now stand for good governance, truth, and transparency. But sometimes I wonder about our mayor.”
Conflict of Interest Discussion
Anderson then asked staff to create more comprehensive terms on what constitutes a conflict of interest, a sentiment echoed by the entire council, including Chirico.
“At what level of even an indirect conflict of interest – because everybody on the dais here works in this community. So everybody in some way could have an indirect conflict,” said Chirico. “And I guess I want to ask the question of Mr. DiSanto to please explain that. How far does it go before we have to connect the dots to where nobody on the dais can vote again?”
After Chirico recused himself, the Central Park Place project was approved by the rest of the dais 8-0.
Naperville News 17’s Casey Krajewski reports.