Lincolnwood trustees spar at meeting
by KEVIN GROSS
Discussion became heated and apparently political at the March 5 meeting of the Lincolnwood Village Board of Trustees in which one trustee accused another of threats, in what can be summed up as a rivalry between the slate of candidates in the Lifelong for Lincolnwood Party and the Alliance for Lincolnwood Party before the April 2 trustee election.
Candidates of the Alliance Party are Trustee Jesal Patel, former Trustee Craig Klatzco, and village resident Atour Toma Sargon. Candidates of the Lifelong Party are Trustee Renan Sugarman, village Economic Development Commission member Joseph Spagnoli and resident Jennifer Costantino. The candidates are vying for three available positions.
At the end of the meeting, which featured routine business matters such as allowing banquet halls within the village’s manufacturing and business zoning districts and allowing a special use for an adult vocational school to operate at 7301 N. Lincoln Ave., the conversation became heated over the upcoming election.
Trustee Jean Ikezoe-Halevi read a statement at the public meeting alleging that Trustee Sugarman harassed her in private inside the village manager’s office prior to a Feb. 26 village budget workshop over comments her husband had written on a social media thread. Sugarman denied making threats at the public meeting.
"Trustee Sugarman said I should ‘control’ my husband, and that he didn’t think it was appropriate that he was writing comments on a thread," she said. "Trustee Sugarman then went on to say that he didn’t know if I had any political aspirations for the next election, but that if I didn’t get my husband to stop, he would tell everyone not to vote for me and work to make sure I was not re-elected."
"I think Trustee Sugarman was out of line to tell me repeatedly to control my husband and make threats about the next election. I don’t think one trustee should be treating another trustee in this manner," Ikezoe-Halevi said. "I will not be bullied or spoken to in this manner for something I did not do."
Ikezoe-Halevi submitted a police report over the alleged Feb. 26 incident on March 4, which Lincolnwood police chief Jay Parrott said in a separate interview was filed "as a matter of record" and "as of now, did not fit the threshold of a crime."
The report, which was obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request, said, "while this may be construed as a threat to her political career, it was not a criminal threat, whereas Trustee Sugarman enjoys the same freedoms, such as Freedom of the Speech, that we all do."
At the meeting Sugarman replied, "I am absolutely appalled and shocked at what was just read there, which is completely and totally false, misleading. I could understand it was an attempt to try to undermine my attempt to be elected as trustee of the village."
"I spoke with Trustee Halevi privately in a room with nobody else around. No bullying or anything of that sort, and I again suggested to Jean, you know you’re a trustee in the village, I don’t know that it’s appropriate for her husband…He’s speaking and somewhere it could be looked at on your behalf calling people ‘a pig in a poke.’ That’s all I told her," he said.
The comments in question read, "If they don’t want to publicly address the issues, why would anyone want to vote for them? The phrase ‘buying a pig in the poke’ pops into my mind. (And no, I am NOT calling them pigs. Just straw men for Barry Bass.)" It referred to Lifelong for Lincolnwood trustee candidates not attending a meet-and-greet event.
Sugarman alleged that Ikezoe-Halevi’s husband had also previously told his relatives that he needed to change the way he votes "to get in line with what’s important in the village and not support the mayor."
"Did I go and make a police report? Did I go and tell everybody about it? Did I do any of those things? No. All I did was let her know privately," Sugarman said.
Trustee Jesal Patel read a statement alleging that Sugarman may have threatened him in the past also.
"I would like to say that I was a victim in this similar instance right here in council chambers on Nov. 30, 2017 when we had an infrastructure meeting," Patel said. "I sent an e-mail the next day to the village manager and the village attorney, and that was back on December 1 at 10:16 a.m., and I’ll now read that e-mail to corroborate that this is a pattern. And I regret not having come forward earlier."
Before Patel could read the e-mail, Sugarman and Mayor Barry Bass interrupted his statement, over shouts of "let him speak" made by many of the approximately 80 residents at the meeting.
"You can’t tell the mayor what he can do and what he can’t do. Okay?" Bass said.
A candidate forum is set for 7 p.m. Monday, March 18, in the auditorium of Lincoln Hall School, 6855 N. Crawford Ave.