Oakwood Hills has no documents of threats

OAKWOOD HILLS – Oakwood Hills officials confirmed Tuesday there is no documentation from local authorities relating to threats against village officials.

In response to a Freedom of Information Act request seeking police reports documenting any physical, verbal or other kind of threat to any village official, board member or employee between July 1 and Aug. 1, village FOIA officer Cheryl LoSasso said no documentation existed.

While village employees were in the office to respond to FOIA requests, LoSasso said in her response Village Hall was still closed to the public. Village business has been suspended for more than a week after Oakwood Hills president Melanie Funk said board members received threats.

McHenry County State’s Attorney Lou Bianchi said because of office policy, he could not comment on whether there is an investigation into threats made toward Oakwood Hills officials.

The suspension came as the village was in the process of considering a proposal for a $450 million plant, which has drawn hundreds of protesters at public hearings. Opponents are concerned the 430-megawatt, natural gas plant would create a water shortage, pollution and decrease in property values, among other worries.

Protesters have organized and hired attorney and former McHenry mayor Steven Cuda to push back against the efforts to bring in a power plant.

Cuda, who had filed FOIA requests July 31, said he received a response Tuesday, as well.

Cuda said he would review the documents with his clients before deciding the next step.

Mike Riley, who has lived in Oakwood Hills for 34 years, said the lack of documented evidence of threats made to village officials is another example of the secrecy and mistruths he feels the village has operated in during the process of considering the plant.

He said the more people who research the subject, the worse it seems.

“They can’t substantiate these things and I think they just wanted to get the heat off them ... and divert people’s attention,” Riley said of the claims of receiving threats. “It’s the power plant that we’re fighting. We’re not fighting the village or board members. But now anything that they tell us, we’re very skeptical of.” 

Chris Reining, who has served as a leader of the opposition, echoed Riley’s sentiments and said the lack of transparency has been the most concerning part of the process. He said the plan is to continue to meet with Cuda and find expert witnesses for the Oct. 9 public zoning hearing.

“From the beginning we didn’t think the threats we’re credible,” Reining said. “It all just seems like a big distraction.”

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