ISLAND LAKE – The Island Lake Village Board has voted to reprimand one of its members and apologize to a local business.
The resolution, adopted on a 4-3 vote Thursday night, criticizes Trustee Shannon Fox for sending emails to Lake County officials that informed them of a property dispute involving Mike’s Towing owner Mike Johnson and suggested that they not do business with his company.
It is the latest step in a dispute between Johnson and fellow Island Lake residents Betty and Glenn Reckwerdt over a driveway.
The driveway connects the Reckwerdts’ home to Bassler Drive, cutting through a property that used to be owned by Glenn Reckwerdt and his family but is now owned by Johnson and his son.
The Reckwerdts have an easement for the driveway, Betty Johnson said, but according to Johnson, the driveway is in the wrong place.
On Sept. 20, Johnson placed giant, concrete barriers on and along the driveway, marking where he says the driveway should be. He moved them three days later.
Fox wrote about the incident in her emails to Lake County Board members and the Lake County sheriff.
“I have written our mayor and chief asking that they suspend use of this tow company and I encourage you to do the same,” Fox said in the email. “Though I recognize that this is indeed a civil matter, I am very concerned at the unsafe condition that the Reckwerdts were put in.”
Fox signed the email as a village trustee and chairman of the grants committee. She also used her village email address.
She “abused her position,” Johnson said in a phone interview Friday, adding that she has a right to say what she wants as an individual but that she used her knowledge as a village official to contact other public officials.
Fox improperly represented herself in the emails and may have given the impression she was representing the village, according to the resolution adopted Thursday.
“You have to be careful so you don’t open yourself and the community for libel, and that’s what she’s doing when she sent out all those emails to all those elected officials and businesses,” Village President Charles Amrich said Friday.
The resolution calls for Fox to retract her emails, and if she doesn’t, for the clerk to send copies of the resolution to the recipients.
Fox doesn’t have any plans to issue a retraction, she said.
“Those are my words, that is how I feel, and I stand behind what I said,” she said. “I don’t think that is good behavior on the part of a business to do that to a neighbor and jeopardize their safety.”
At this point, the saga could be at an end – at least for the village and its officials.
While Johnson said he’s still considering filing a lawsuit against Fox, he added, “At this point, I don’t think she’s worth going after. People are starting to understand who she is and that she’s not credible.”
And as long as the barriers aren’t moved back onto the driveway, Fox plans on staying out of the dispute.